Home » Atheism, Culture, Darwinism » Ah, tolerance!: “You have betrayed Atheism. Go over to the other side and die.”

Ah, tolerance!: “You have betrayed Atheism. Go over to the other side and die.”

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In “The God Wars” (New Statesman, February 28, 2012), Bryan Appleyard says a lot of things we say ourselves about new atheism: That it is an intolerant cult (and we would say, in consequence, out of step with traditional liberal values). Appleyard muses on how fellow atheist de Botton ended up on the receiving end of that cult’s reeducation program:

De Botton is the most recent and, consequently, the most shocked victim. He has just produced a book, Religion for Atheists: a Non-Believer’s Guide to the Uses of Religion, mildly suggesting that atheists like himself have much to learn from religion and that, in fact, religion is too important to be left to believers. He has also proposed an atheists’ temple, a place where non-believers can partake of the consolations of silence and meditation.

This has been enough to bring the full force of a neo-atheist fatwa crashing down on his head. The temple idea in particular made them reach for their best books of curses.

At least the curse in the headline above doesn’t threaten violence. Unlike some other curses, Appleyard says. He offers some taxonomy hints on the new atheism:

Atheism is just one-third of this exotic ideological cocktail. Secularism, the political wing of the movement, is another third. Neo-atheists often assume that the two are the same thing; in fact, atheism is a metaphysical position and secularism is a view of how society should be organised. So a Christian can easily be a secularist – indeed, even Christ was being one when he said, “Render unto Caesar” – and an atheist can be anti-secularist if he happens to believe that religious views should be taken into account. But, in some muddled way, the two ideas have been combined by the cultists.

The third leg of neo-atheism is Darwinism, the AK-47 of neo-atheist shock troops. Alone among scientists, and perhaps because of the enormous influence of Richard Dawkins, Darwin has been embraced as the final conclusive proof not only that God does not exist but also that religion as a whole is a uniquely dangerous threat to scientific rationality.

The new atheist cult’s blind  Darwinism is vividly illustrated by the following episode:

It was in the midst of this that Fodor and the cognitive scientist Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini published What Darwin Got Wrong, a highly sophisticated analysis of Darwinian thought which concluded that the theory of natural selection could not be stated coherently. All hell broke loose. Such was the abuse that Fodor vowed never to read a blog again. Myers the provocateur announced that he had no intention of reading the book but spent 3,000 words trashing it anyway, a remarkably frank statement of intellectual tyranny.

Fodor now chuckles at the memory. “I said we should write back saying we had no intention of reading his review but we thought it was all wrong anyway.”

More.

(The fact that new atheists fanatically embrace Darwinism as their creation story is only one reason for doubting the doctrine. There are much better ones.)

See also: Interview: Atheist Alain de Botton cases religion’s joint for something worth stealing …

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16 Responses to Ah, tolerance!: “You have betrayed Atheism. Go over to the other side and die.”

  1. 1
    adultstemcellswin

    Why use logic when you can name call and get the foolish to follow?

    Look at media incidents…where people hear afew inflammatory quotes…do NOT look at the context…and just rush to do whatever the media reporters/commentators want?

    So why should scientists, philosophers “waste” the solid food of Logic…on people who will be Persuaded…by junk food Name Calling and Rage???

  2. A beautifully ironical title. It seems that most militant secularists are homosexuals, but how is it that as homosexuals they are always trumpeting the virtues of heterogeneity, (as long as it’s not sexual or Christian) or, as they call it, diversity?

    To be confused in an area so basic to human nature explains a lot about their extraordinarily successful, topsy-turvy conversion of language across the board, affecting their special interest.

  3. Beware the GayGB!

  4. Has anybody noticed the ironic title of the upcoming neo-atheist convention?

    Reason Rally!
    http://www.reasonrally.org/

    One writer observes that if neo-Atheists really want to change culture for the good then they should do this instead of the going to the ‘reason’ rally:

    ‘But those of us interested in advancing a human-centred vision of the future would do better focusing on important things like wealth creation, liberty, scientific advancement and creating great art. With these things comes enlightenment. With plastering religious areas with insulting billboards and attending feel-good events in D.C. come smugness and cheap thrills. The Reason Rally really isn’t worth coming out for.’
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....20748.html

    But wait a minute aren’t ‘wealth creation, liberty, scientific advancement and creating great art’ all deeply rooted in the Judeo-Christian worldview in the first place?

    As well, as long as we are ‘reasoning’, exactly how is the transcendent virtue of reasoning even possible in the materialistic worldview of the neo-Atheists in the first place?? Now that is something to keep a atheist busy ‘reasoning’ at the ‘reason’ rally , all the while he curses the Judeo-Christian values that gave him the freedom to express his hatred in the first place!!!

    Why should the human mind be able to comprehend reality so deeply? – referenced article
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qGvbg_212biTtvMschSGZ_9kYSqhooRN4OUW_Pw-w0E/edit

    Epistemology – Why Should The Human Mind Even Be Able To Comprehend Reality? – Stephen Meyer – video – (Notes in description)
    http://vimeo.com/32145998

  5. De Botton has said silly things. The “fatwa” has amounted to being called on it in (gasp!) blogs. Oh, the militancy! Oh the stridency!

  6. OT: This guy is funny, but he sure has a good message:

    Eric Metaxas 2012 National Prayer Breakfast – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jotOExbddI4

  7. That naturalism provides no rational foundation for reason and logic is the dirty little secret of atheism. Most of therm don’t even realize it and those who do just ignore it and sweep it under the rug. They take their reasoning ability by faith.

  8. Cultists? Maybe. But from what I’ve seen, I’d classify the neo- “fools who say there is no God” more in the category of football hooligans. The only one who had any class at all was Hitchens. As for the rest, no doubt their mothers still have to remind them not to pick their noses at the dinner table.

  9. “no rational foundation for reason

    Are we sure about this?

    Moreover, what are the requirements of a “foundation for reason”?

    And finally, is having “faith” a bad thing? If so, should religious faith be scrutinized along with atheistic “faith”?

    Is it possible to conclude reasonably that gods don’t exist? I’m asking a serious question. Folks here refuse to grant atheism intellectual permissibility, yet surely people can understand why it’s a justifiable conclusion.

  10. LT:

    You of course must know about the recent exchanges here at UD (and in the penumbra of objector sites) that showed that there is a basic clash whereby evolutionary materialist atheists strongly tend to deny the reality of self-evident first principles of right reason; leading them to absurdities such as asserting that quantum physics provides empirical warrant — by contradiction to prior expectations! [oooopsie . . . ] — to dismiss the key laws of thought such as the law of non-contradiction.

    See the reductio ad absurdum on denial that is a hall-mark of trying to dismiss self evident first principles?

    See, also, why it is that it is then strangely reasonable to ask concerning the rational foundations of rationality, even if the person so asking is not directly speaking in terms of self-evident first principles and — thanks to the breakdown of our civilisation’s formal and informal education systems and the damage wreaked by various intellectual schools of thought over the past 200 or so years — may not fully grasp this issue? (In short, it can be shown to be rational to stand on self-evident first principles, on pain of self-referential absurdity. That is not to be equated with claiming to prove such principles; once we understand them based on our conscious, enconscienced experience of the world, we see that such truths are true and must be true on pain of patent absurdity.)

    And this leads to the intertwining of reason and belief in the foundations of worldviews.

    You can easily see that the warrant — as opposed to “proof” — for A to be seen as credibly true must be B, thence C, . . . So the issue is “turtles all the way down,” or turtles in a ring, or else starting from first plausibles that in effect define one’s point of faith. Which can be reasonable, coherent, factually adequate and of strong explanatory power.

    Pointing of course to the possibility of reasonable faith.

    Going further, on the turtles argument, we have but little choice in the matter, as an infinite regress and vicious circularity are patently irrational.

    So, the vaunted “bright” atheist is just as much relying on faith as the Christian whom he mocks as ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked and/or blindly credulous. (And, see the way the mocking skeptic just profiled is here seeking to ground his worldview on rage, pride and contempt? As in, on several of the classic seven deadly sins?)

    As to the assertion that “Folks here refuse to grant atheism intellectual permissibility,” that is a patent and irresponsible, unfair strawman caricature; one loaded with twistabout rhetoric.

    The leading new atheist in the world is the source for the quadrilemma argument I just alluded to, and is notorious for rage driven contempt for theism, for theists and for God in his bestsellers. So, this point is little more than projection.

    What IS repeatedly objected by the contributors here at UD, is that atheism — and especially the evolutionary materialist atheism that seeks to don the holy lab coat and demand to be treated as default in the name of “science” — must abandon that pretence and face the challenge any reasonable worldview must face: warrant, from the ground up.

    Including, on points where there is self-reference, such as in the conception of mind and the conception of our being under the government of ought.

    If evolutionary materialist atheism cannot stand on its own feet and ground itself as a reasonable faith on matters of accuracy to reality, coherence and in particular accuracy to the reality of ought, then it is not worth holding.

    Not, for any reasonable person.

    And, it is patent that this worldview has in it no IS that can objectively ground OUGHT, as has been highlighted since Plato in The laws, Bk X; 2350 years ago. For many, that is more than enough to conclude that such materialism is incompetent to withstand that nihilism that seeks to impose the concept that might and manipulation make ‘right.’ The ghost of Alcibiades haunts the evolutionary materialist worldview, and refuses to be exorcised.

    (Don’t even try to twist this about into how dare you attack us as not being nice, good decent people, at least as good as you theists; the unfortunately common atmosphere-poisoning retort. I am patently speaking of a worldview that lacks a foundational IS that can objectively ground OUGHT, and so faces the challenge of not having solid grounds to withstand the nihilists. I would further suggest that there is a pride problem in this retort, as a moment’s honest self reflection would show that the moral hazard of being human haunts us all: finite, fallible, morally fallen/struggling, too often ill-willed. The challenge is the path of virtue, and worldviews that lend themselves to radically relativist moral inversions that call evil good and good evil, that put bitter for sweet and darkness for light, open the doorway for the conscienceless or conscience benumbed to manipulate and create the moral chaos they prefer. The allusion to the prince of prophets in Is 5:20 – 21 is deliberate, to point out that this issue has been on record for 2700 and more years.)

    Going beyond, it is evident that this evolutionary materialist conception has serious challenges grounding the experienced world, at cosmological level, at world of life levels and at world of mind levels. When we see a Hawking and the like making the mistake of not understanding that nothing means non-being [what rocks dream of], in order to pull a cosmos out of a non-existent hat, that is telling.

    When we see that — after many decades of effort and despite what so many text books and museum displays, web sites and documentaries breezily declare — there is plainly no answer on blind chance and mechanical necessity without intelligence could plausibly lead to the origin of the functionally specific complex organisation and information in the self-replicating living cell, we see that such evolutionary materialism triumphs by institutional dominance (and sometimes thought police tactics), not the strength of its biological case — as Lewontin et al have in effect admitted.

    When we look to the origin of mind, we see a self-referential absurdity that would undermine reason and knowledge, as Haldane pointed to so long ago now. Let’s remind ourselves on this one, the fatal defect of evolutionary materialist theories of mind:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” [["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. More modern developments are simply commentary, Haldane has gone to the heart of the problem, echoing Leibniz in his own powerful analogy of the mill with its wheels grinding away.]

    So, the issue is that evolutionary materialist atheism needs to set its house in order to be a credible worldview, before it can assert serious claims to being a “justifiable conclusion.”

    Let’s start with some first principles of right reason:

    Consider the world as we experience and observe it, with various things in it:

    { . . . * * * . . . }

    Identify some definite A in it:

    { . . . (A) | NOT-A (the rest of the world) . . . }

    Notice, the point of the “pipe” character, |, is to mark the boundary of distinction, i.e. we have A, and we have everything else, which is NOT-A. Now, let us analyse:

    [1] A thing, A, is what it is (the Law of Identity);

    [2] A thing, A, cannot at once be and not-be (the Law of Non-Contradiction).

    –> It is worth clipping Wiki’s cites from Aristotle in Metaphysics, to show this in different forms:

    1. ontological*: “It is impossible that the same thing belong and not belong to the same thing at the same time and in the same respect.” (1005b19-20)

    [*NB: Ontology, per Am HD etc, is "The branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of being," and the ontological form of the LNC is talking about that which really exists or may really exist, once we have some definite thing A in the world, e.g. Socrates as a Man, or men as rational animals.]

    2. psychological: “No one can believe that the same thing can (at the same time) be and not be.” (1005b23-24)

    3. logical: “The most certain of all basic principles is that contradictory propositions are not true simultaneously.” (1011b13-14)

    [3] A thing, A, is or it is not, but not both or neither (the Law of the Excluded Middle).

    [4] “to say that what is is, and what is not is not, is true.” (Aristotle, Basic Definition of Truth, i.e. “telling it like it is.”)

    [5] “Of everything that is, it can be found why it is.” (Principle of Sufficient Reason, per Schopenhauer.)

    [6] If something has a beginning or may cease from being — i.e. it is contingent — it has a cause.* (Principle of Causality, a direct derivative of 5. Cf. Discussion at UD here.)
    _________
    *F/N: Principles 5 & 6 point to the possibility of necessary, non-contingent beings, e.g. the truth in 2 + 3 = 5 did not have a beginning, cannot come to an end, and is not the product of a cause, it is an eternal reality. In this context, too, we must give a basic definition of nothing: non-being, or as Aristotle put it, “what rocks dream of” – as, rocks plainly don’t have dreams. The most significant candidate necessary being is an eternal Mind. Indeed, down this road lies a path that has led many to to infer and argue for the existence of God as architect, designer and maker of the cosmos. (Cf. Plato’s early argument along such lines, here.)

    Can evolutionary materialist atheism answer to these, and — on these or other principles shown to be a credible framework — ground reason as a first basis for thinking and living?

    If not, it is not that such atheism is “impermissible,” but that it has failed the basic worldview tests and is irrational.

    In the meanwhile, nope, we are not going to grant such atheism any attempted default claim: fish, cut bait, or go home.

    G’day

    GEM of TKI

  11. PS: Pardon my directness in that last challenge.

  12. Onlookers:

    I have just now seen an email from LT, stating that his reply to the above was disallowed by UD, but has been made at his personal blog here (where, as a point of fairness, on past experience he moderates comments; I have no moderator functions at UD).

    I comment on points as follows:

    _____________

    Friday, March 09, 2012
    You Can Ban/Moderate Me, Uncommon Descent, But You Cannot Silence Me: A Reply to Kairosfocus

    1 –> I do not control UD’s moderation, but in general it is applied for cause. As already noted, your own blog is moderated. And, after over 100 abusive comments from a circle connected with a hate blog, I have had to for now suspend comments entirely at my own blog.

    I shouldn’t post comments I make on other sites, but I want to save the following thoughts from a comment that Uncommon Descent decided not to release. They must have resented my uncharitable review of the recent purge of ID questioners.

    2 –> It seems there is a for cause issue. It should be quite clear from my own remarks at the time that I believe a therapeutic approach is the correct one on matters relating to first principles of right reason. That said, in fairness, there was obscenity posted to UD’s blog owner, and there has been a nest of extremely abusive web behaviour.

    Still, Kairosfocus had made a “challenge” to me, so it would have been nice if my post was accepted–even if the offending part was snipped. I hate to leave a challenge unanswered.

    Part of the challenge of dialoguing with Kairosfocus is dealing with his prose. Now, I make no boasts of my own style; I mean only to point out that Kairosfocus has an information-rich and opinionated style that an interlocutor must work through. Kairosfocus gives long, ranging comments laced with snide remarks. For example, he begins his comment to me with this bit:

    You of course must know about the recent exchanges here at UD (and in the penumbra of objector sites) that showed that there is a basic clash whereby evolutionary materialist atheists strongly tend to deny the reality of self-evident first principles of right reason; leading them to absurdities such as asserting that quantum physics provides empirical warrant — by contradiction to prior expectations! [oooopsie . . . ] — to dismiss the key laws of thought such as the law of non-contradiction.

    See the reductio ad absurdum on denial that is a hall-mark of trying to dismiss self evident first principles?

    In only two sentences, Kairosfocus raises many topics:

    (1) The recent purge of ID critics from UD.
    (2) A “basic clash” between atheists and theists.
    (3) Atheists deny “principles of right reason.”
    (4) Atheists say absurd things.
    (5) Atheists say that quantum physics allows “key laws of thought” to be dismissed.
    (6) Atheists are forced into reductiones ad absurdum when they do #3 and #5

    From the two sentences above, we understand that Kairosfocus writes in emotionally charged terms of attack (exchanges, clash) and irrationality (deny, self-evident, right, absurdities). For this reason, his long posts are akin to the Gish Gallop,

    3 –> This is a slander by name, already. It drags an uninvolved third party’s name through the mud. Cf Rational Wiki:

    The Gish Gallop is an informal name for a debating technique that involves drowning the opponent in such a torrent of half-truths, lies, and straw-man arguments that the opponent cannot possibly answer every falsehood that has been raised. Usually this results in many involuntary twitches in frustration as the opponent struggles just to decide where to start. It is named after creationism activist and professional debater Duane Gish.

    4 –> I am no liar, nor have I spoken half truths, nor have I given a torrent of claims that one cannot reply to in the context that is in view.

    a barrage of charges and dismissals that make dialogue difficult, if not impossible.

    5 –> On the contrary, I have pointed out that there is a problem, amply documented through cases, where many aggressive atheists today [especially those of the Dawkins stripe] reject first principles of right reason, typically using an appeal to quantum mechanics. That is a fact claim that can be very directly confirmed or disconfirmed. And as can be seen here and as onward linked, from my reply to ES at the Skeptical Zone, it is abundantly confirmed as true.

    The charges are totally false, if I must dignify them by pointing this out. Atheists do not deny “principles of right reason.”

    6 –> LT here DOES imply that there is a fact claim, which he denies. Unfortunately for him, as just linked, the evidence is that it is true, with particular reference tot hat first principle of right reason known as the law of non-contradiction. [Note, in my original comment above, I have listed six specific such principles, so even if LT was unaware of the term, he knows what it refers to.]

    For most atheists that I read and observe, reasoning rightly and well is a primary concern–as well as a factor in why they are atheists. Part of good reasoning includes examining one’s assumptions: everything is available for questioning and nothing is sacrosanct.

    7 –> LT here pummels a strawman. the problem with first principles of right reason is not that hey are assumptions that are held sacrosanct but that in trying to challenge them one ends up immediately in such a morass of self referential absurdities that one soon sees that they are self evident.

    That Kairosfocus and his friends want to surround their parochial version of “right reason” with high, barbed-wire fences–on pain of bannination from UD (the horror!)–tells us that intellectually there are places they refuse to go.

    8 –> LT here puts words in my mouth that do not belong there. I am on clear and prompt record that the proper response tot he denial of LNC etc is to help not to ban. I have specifically held that banning should be reserved for disruptive and disrespectful, uncivil conduct.

    9 –> He has also manged to duck addressing the issue that we here deal with self-evident truths that can only be denied or dismissed by descending into patent absurdities similar to sawing off the branch on which one sits.

    Such refusal again makes real dialogue extremely difficult.

    10 –> More strawman attacks. (Onlookers, do you see why it is that I have to point out combative behaviour by materialist objectors as combative behaviour?)

    Nevertheless, I have aimed to give dialogue the old college try. Here’s what I wrote, and you’ll notice I gave a long-ish reply to match what was given to me. Your comments are invited.

    KF,

    I do indeed know about the recent exchanges at UD. The purge of ID critics was duly noted. In fact, it became a source of amusement for many folks, myself included, who think UD and its leadership are more bluster and bullying than substance.

    11 –> More personalities. But, don’t you dare respond, or you design thinkers are combative bullies.

    The “evolutionary materialist atheists” that I read were not denying first principles at all. They were demanding that first principles be considered with proper nuance and not simplistically.

    12 –> Strawmannish dismissal, laced with contempt.

    I am an atheist, but I am not an “evolutionary materialist atheist.” I tend to be satisfied that modern biology provides the best available explanation for the diversity of life on earth. I also lean to materialism as being sufficient to account for everything we see and experience in the universe. But I am not an “evolutionary materialist atheist” because I am neither a biologist nor a physicist. I simply do the best I can understanding the information before me and concluding as seems correct. My atheism, if I may be personal, starts with understanding the history of the Bible, the history in it, and the history of the religions that take the Bible as Bible: the point is that evolution and materialism were not and are not the prevailing factors in my reasoning about theism. But I digress….

    13 –> onlookers, cf remarks on the problem of a priori materialism imposed on science starting from a question-begging redefinition, here on

    My questions were directed to jstanley01. The expression “rational foundations of reason” didn’t make sense to me. It would have been like saying “the happy foundations of happiness.” Seems a bit circular, doesn’t it?

    13 –> You pounced on an imperfectly expressed grasping at the concept of self evident first principles.

    I hear your argument that an atheist and a theist equally rely on faith. You say this here:

    the vaunted “bright” atheist is just as much relying on faith as the Christian whom he mocks as ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked and/or blindly credulous.

    I’ll quibble with you on the kinds of faith employed by an atheist as opposed to those of a theist, but I get your larger point: we’re all working as best we can with what we got.

    14 –> Again, you have ducked the issue of the worldview foundations of all claims to knowledge and rationality. So, let me pose the issue in this way: is it turtles all the way down [an infinite regress of warrant], or turtles in a circle [circularity], or do you accept that we can only go so far down, and rest on first plausibles that we take on trust and may compare on principles of comparative difficulties?

    15 –> I can take it that you grudgingly acknowledge the last, as the first two options are patently fallacious. That means that you are forced to acknowledge that we start from a base where reason and belief are inextricably intertwined in the roots of our worldviews.

    As for my “patent and irresponsible, unfair strawman caricature”: what I said,

    Folks here refuse to grant atheism intellectual permissibility.

    is either generally true at UD or it is not.

    16 –> repeating a falsehood does not make it true. Atheism — especially the evolutionary materialist form that likes to dress up in a lab coat that is relevant — is a worldview like any other, and is invited to the same table of comparative difficulties. And the only person in your poll just below has answere3d adequately before the poll begins.

    We can establish the truth of the statement with a poll:

    (1) Is atheism a “reasonable faith”?

    (2) Is it possible for atheism to be a “reasonable faith”?

    17 –> Evolutionary Materialist Atheism, as was said long BEFORE the pretended “poll” is a worldview that has to trace to its foundations and assess them on comparative difficulties. On the basis of inherent and comparative difficulties regarding factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power: simple elegance as opposed to ad hoc-ery or simplisticness, it will have to earn its stripes. (I given my evaluation of such evolutionary materialist atheism in a nutshell here.)

    I also hear your objections about atheists. You say we are pretentious and do not face the challenges of building our worldview from the ground up, which I assume is what you feel theists do. Personally, I try to develop and refine my worldview from the ground-up. I think I’ve done an OK job, and I see many atheists who have done the same. If you disagree, please show me specifically where I or others need to shore up our worldview.

    18 –> A sweeping aside of the challenge

    [ . . . ]

  13. You then say,

    If evolutionary materialist atheism cannot stand on its own feet and ground itself as a reasonable faith on matters of accuracy to reality, coherence and in particular accuracy to the reality of ought, then it is not worth holding.

    I totally agree. If atheism is not true, then one is better off adjusting her or his thinking.

    19 –> So, have you grounded it on a comparative difficulties basis and have you been able to objectively warrant OUGHT on a foundational IS of evolutionary materialist atheism? [Onlookers, cf here for a quick discussion of the implications of the IS-OUGHT gap for such evolutionary materialist atheism.]

    However, I happen to think it’s probably true. You clearly think it is not; what’s more, you think it is incoherent and inaccurate “to the reality of ought” (a difficult phrase to parse). That’s fine. In my opinion, Christianity (speaking generally and for example) is untrue, incoherent, and less than ideal in many of its official moral strictures.

    19 –> LT here tries to reduce issues of warrant to matters of personal opinion. This reflects the inherent radical relativism of evolutionary materialism as has been remarked on since Plato in The Laws, Bk X.

    We need to disagree, then.

    Your points on Hawking and Lewontin are noted, but don’t carry much weight with me. Generally, you criticize these folks for what you wish they would have said and not what they actually say.

    20 –> Notice, the dismissal without warrant, on LT’s personal authority. Observe on 17 above just what I have to say about Lewontin based on what he DID say. And WRT Hawking, nothing properly denotes non-being.

    You may now wish to retort that I am being unfair, obstinate, twisting words, lacing in red herrings and the like. I get it. But you now know my opinion, and I think that opinion is highly defensible, if you care to press me on it.

    21 –> Notice, LT had ample opportunity to justify his claims, or even to link a justification. Nowhere the faintest trace. (If you want to see how I go about grounding my own theistic view at 101 level, onlookers, try here on in context.)

    Thanks for the playbook on right reason.

    22 –> So, after all the huffing and puffing, LT has nothing to object to the key first principles as such.

    Yes, I think atheism works well for [1] through [6]. Atheism also does a better job than theism on [5] and [6]. Your footnote tries to answer, but does not, the questions that I know you know are coming:

    23 –> Opinions again . . .

    Are gods something “that are”? If so, can it be found why they are? If so, how can it be found (what methods) why deities exist?

    24 –> Observe first how LT tries to phrase the issue in terms of “gods,” when he knows that the key issue is that contingency implies cause and that there are known necessary beings that have no cause such as the truth in the claim 2 + 3 = 5. It always was, always will be, did not begin, and cannot end.

    Do gods have a beginning or may cease from being?

    25 –> the strawman continues, giving a term that bridges whole worldviews and ducks the pivotal issue:

    [5] “Of everything that is, it can be found why it is.” (Principle of Sufficient Reason, per Schopenhauer.)

    [6] If something has a beginning or may cease from being — i.e. it is contingent — it has a cause.* (Principle of Causality, a direct derivative of 5. Cf. Discussion at UD here.)
    _________
    *F/N: Principles 5 & 6 point to the possibility of necessary, non-contingent beings, e.g. the truth in 2 + 3 = 5 did not have a beginning, cannot come to an end, and is not the product of a cause, it is an eternal reality. In this context, too, we must give a basic definition of nothing: non-being, or as Aristotle put it, “what rocks dream of” – as, rocks plainly don’t have dreams. The most significant candidate necessary being is an eternal Mind. Indeed, down this road lies a path that has led many to to infer and argue for the existence of God as architect, designer and maker of the cosmos. (Cf. Plato’s early argument along such lines, here.)

    If so, can it be found why they begin or cease from being? If not, can it be found why they do not begin or cease from being?

    25 –> As LT knows, a contingent being has a beginning and may come to an end. As he knows, a necessary being, by virtue of its nature is self-existent, it has no dependency on causal factors that can be turned off and thus make it cease to be.

    26 –> Instead of addressing this, he chooses to pose what he knows is inescapably ambiguous. What is a god [note the small g]?

    27 –> Small-g gods are contingent, if such exist in any relevant sense.

    28 –> But, as was linked in comment 10 above [before LT made the counter-argument], and as was linked in point 17 above, there is a serious argument that here is a Necessary Being, who is the ground of our existence in a credibly contingent cosmos, even through a multiverse speculation.

    29 –> But that argument, LT has ducked in his haste to set up and knock over a strawman.

    So, we arrive where we started: atheism seems quite reasonable to me, and not to you. And theism seems quite reasonable to you, and not to me.

    30 –> Notice the appeal to opinion as equivalent, without adequate comparative difficulties analysis.

    But I never asked for atheism to get a free pass from you. Don’t ask that theism get a free pass from me.

    31 –> Strawman again. And putting words in my mouth that do not belong there; notice, I started by laying out the issue of worldviews warrant on comparative difficulties, in light of the inevitability of starting from first plausibles, which LT has yet to cogently address.

    32 –> The pretence that atheists are reasonable and tough minded while theists want a free pass is now well past sell-by date.

    Finally, you may be aware that UD moderators typically hold my posts for several hours (when they allow posts to pass). This is frustrating. I will therefore not engage further on this conversation, not because I don’t want to but because it’s too irritating to be moderated all the time. Thanks for understanding.

    33 –> I of course have not known hitherto that LT is on moderation, but the tone and pattern of argument above shows good reason for that.

    34 –> However, let us note, onlookers: LT has managed to not address the actual issues on the merits, other than to deny the demonstrated fact that evolutionary materialist atheists have serious problems with denial of first principles of right reason, starting with the law of non-contradiction.
    _____________

    It is now unusual for me to do this sort of point by point rebuttal, but you will understand why I deemed it necessary in this case.

    GEM of TKI

  14. F/N: I should give an example of a common-g god: Nero Caesar.

    F/N 2: I have put up a notice here at UD, and have commented at LT’s blog, being here informed that my comment was published, pointing to the notice.

    KF

  15. F/N 3: The objectors are trying to jump all over JS. Let me clip from 10 above:

    See, also, why it is that it is then strangely reasonable to ask concerning the rational foundations of rationality, even if the person so asking is not directly speaking in terms of self-evident first principles and — thanks to the breakdown of our civilisation’s formal and informal education systems and the damage wreaked by various intellectual schools of thought over the past 200 or so years — may not fully grasp this issue? (In short, it can be shown to be rational to stand on self-evident first principles, on pain of self-referential absurdity. That is not to be equated with claiming to prove such principles; once we understand them based on our conscious, enconscienced experience of the world, we see that such truths are true and must be true on pain of patent absurdity.)

    I am now not astonished, just saddened, to see how this point is conspicuously absent in the objecting comments elsewhere. KF

  16. F/N: It seems (based on a follow-up email) I need to underscore that any serious worldview needs to address inherent and comparative difficulties, on factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power, cf here on for a 101. In the case of evolutionary materialist atheism, grounding of the knowing, reasoning mind is a serious issue, as is objective grounding of morality. Similarly, the issue of warrant where A requires B, thence C, D . . . means that we are forced to one or the other of: (a) infinite regress [absurd], (b) circularity [fallacious], or (c ) seeking a reasonable faith position on said comparative difficulties analysis. This last is not a matter of opinion, and if a worldview — regardless of how fashionable or powerful in intellectual circles — is in serious trouble here (as evo mat is), it is not a credible position. Do I need to point out how dominant logical positivism was in well educated circles within living memory, and how — never mind the assorted bitter enders — it then collapsed on self-referential incoherence? KF

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