On the Internet, I have encountered a prominent Philosopher of Religion called Alvin Plantinga who was once described by Time Magazine as a America’s leading orthodoxist Protestant Philosopher of God. He has made many anti-naturalistic arguments and theistic arguments in the past, has engaged in Public Discourse with atheists, rather like William Lane Craig. And also, William Lane Craig seems to be a fan of Plantinga’s misguided “Reformed Epistemology”. But that’s another story altogether. In our particular case, I intend to refute the various fallacious absurdities of Alvin Plantinga’s “Evolutionary Argument Against [Metaphysical] Naturalism”. Or rather more specifically, I will be critiquing all six parts together of a six-part series of lectures on YouTube. It is a talk by Plantinga entitled “An Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism”. —see here. I may not be able to address every point as meticulously as I would like to, but I will give it a fair shot. Of course, it is doubtful that he has not simply ignored these criticisms if they have already been made in the past. Oh well… also, for expediency, here is an overview of Plantinga from Wikipedia. You will notice that like William Lane Craig, he is a Christian apologist, and has authored such books as God and Other Minds, and has even written a book entirely dedicated to the argument he presents in this 60 minute lecture. 🙂
A recent speech by the current Pope, in Britain, where he links atheism and Nazism has caused some controversy in the blogosphere and in our own forums. The Pope spoke of “a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society’ and went on to express concerns over “aggressive forms of secularism’. This is such a common trope in debates that I wanted to take an entire blog post to explain what I see as the gaping flaw in this form of argument. What I want to discuss is the way atheism and theism should be properly related to religion and ideology and why it is incorrect to set up atheism as the counter-position to religion.
Atheism, at its most inclusive, describes anyone who has no belief in gods. From even this basic understanding, it is remarkably difficult to see how atheism could be expected to produce any action from an individual atheist. There is no causal line from the absence of a single belief to any other belief or action, be it good or bad. Even explicit atheism (the denial of gods) does not imply any further belief or action. If we say this for atheism, in order to be consistent, we must also say this for theism. Theism (the belief in gods), as a single belief, does not entail any other beliefs or actions by the individual theist. A theist may believe in the philosopher’s god, a non-interventionist god, Allah, the trinity, or a whole pantheon of pagan gods. But even these basic beliefs about the nature of gods are additional to the initial claim of theism, not derived from it. Taking the example of the Thirty Years war, the Pope would have us blame theism for the conflict. However, given both sides of the conflict were theists this conclusion makes little sense. The true dividing factor was the different religions, Catholicism and Protestantism, which each side maintained. My contention is that while atheism and theism are blameless in the great atrocities of history, ideology and religion should be held to account.
Hey there .
It’s very late and I’m tired but I said I will have a blog by Sunday and if I don’t deliver I will OCD my brains out over it. I’m awesome like that. So please excuse my possible ramble.
In this blog I will mainly adress the Theists. I heard many of them saying that they KNOW certain things in regards to God and what they say to be “the Creation’ . Even in the recent debate between Thunderf00t and Ray Comfort, Ray said a couple of times that (unlike Thunderf00t) he KNOWS what the truth is.
I will try to argue why this claim cannot possibly hold water.
First of all, what does “to know’ mean anyway? Can we say that we know anything at all ? I would say we can. For instance, I KNOW that there are more than two people writing on this site. I know this because I can count, I can read, I personally know more than two of them, etc. The point is, I can say I KNOW this because it is in my immediate and direct observation.
I can also say I know that Human and Chimpanzee DNA is about 98.5 percent identical. This is clearly not in my immediate and direct observation but I can still say I KNOW it because I have sufficient data proving it. All facts gathered through observation and experiment point to this conclusion, none of them point against it.
But let’s try another example. Not to long ago, if anyone asked me to define a triangle without mentioning its angles, I would have said that any given 3 points that are not in a straight line form a triangle . And I thought I KNOW that the sum of the interior angles of any triangle is 180 degrees. But I was wrong. This is true if the given triangle is in Euclidian space. But if someone could draw a triangle in the near neighbourhood of a Black Hole with such intense gravity forces, the interior angles of that triangle would NOT add up to 180 degrees. The results are very different depending on how Space bends. So suddenly, even if I was certain I KNOW something, at some point I realized that my so called knowledge was in fact a belief. And I was wrong in my belief because I was ignorant of the data.
I still have certain beliefs. For instance, I believe that Quantum Mechanic could be eventually proven not to contradict Determinism. I don’t believe that the atoms act randomly but rather that at atomic level there might be laws we haven’t discovered yet and variables we cannot calculate. Which, imho, is not to say that the atoms are not subjected to the cause and effect rules. And I believe that (strongly I may say) because EVERYTHING in the observable Universe is subjected to the cause and effect rule. But I am willing to admit that I don’t KNOW that and there is a possibility I might be wrong. And if, at some point, all evidence will lead to the conclusion that atoms can act randomly, I will change my belief. I highly doubt this will happen, what I am trying to say is that I don’t rule out this option because I realize this is something I believe and NOT something I know.
How about God ? When you say you KNOW God is real and He created everything, what do you base it on? On a book with origins and authors very dubious (to say the least). God is not in your immediate and direct observation and there is no collected data to support his existence. He cannot be proven through observation and experiment. So you are left with your book. And how do you know that your book is the Truth ? Because it says so in your book. Can you spot the problem with this ? (hint : it starts with a “c’ and it ends with “ircular’)
And you may say now that according to this logic, Atheists cannot say they KNOW there is no God. Which is correct and I don’t know one single Atheist who says so. An Atheist will say he does not BELIVE in a God. The difference between the logic of an Atheist and the logic Theist is that the first doesn’t believe because of lack of evidence while the former believes DESPITE the lack of evidence.
Where I am going with this is that you cannot say that you KNOW your God is real. You only BELIEVE he is real. And if you accept that what you call knowledge is in fact a belief, you will also have to accept the possibility that you might be wrong.
I’m just sayin’
A quick scan at the overall membership of the “LOR” (which in my opinion should replace the common usage of “LOL” and would be a worthy activity for us all to work covertly across the internets to accomplish) and it is apparent that I am in the minority to a dramatic degree. That’s correct! I am an Australian.
Us Australians understand all too well how misguided those northern hemisphere folks are with their map making activities. They have even managed to infiltrate the ultimate education system with their unholy doctrine of Northpoleisupism. Yes you read it here first. I can boldly declare that the organisations who have traditionally targeted nautical navigation establishments and small travel book stores in Notting Hill have managed to reach their Holy Grail. Google Earth.
On a less serious note, I am actually quite honoured to be invited to contribute to this blog. It is a bold step by the organisers to invite someone to contribute to their blog where upon reading only a handful of my emails it is apparent that my writing skills are crap. I am encouraged however by the inclusion of someone with even less ability in this area, Theo Warner. If not for the inclusion of him, I might feel somewhat intimidated (lor). Much thankness must go to the “sporks” (cosmic or otherwise) for the amazing work accomplished on the technicalities of this site, e.g. should the light bulb be a bayonet or screw in fitting (P.S. I’m glad he went with the screw in. A wise choice in my opinion). We should also thank our resident Astrologer, Andromeda’s Wake for selecting the correct date to launch the updated version with optimal planetary alignments. I was puzzled for sometime over the constant emails with something about a Venus entering Uranus, but I finally worked it out.
So what role will I play as a blog contributor here at LOR? For those of you that are aware of my YouTube channel “djarm67”, you would no doubt be aware that I am a theist. Shock! So I guess my role here would be primarily to make fun of religions from the inside (lor) Alternatively, I could simply extend my attacks on creationism and its attempts to subvert the educational systems of the world. Who knows, we may even have a few interesting discussions.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy what I contribute. You may not always agree with what I contribute, but that’s OK. Just understand that you have been indoctrinated from a young age into the cult of Northpoleisupism.