Christian apologist, Tyler Vela, has observed that atheists like to define “atheism” and “belief” in very nontraditional ways, and these definitions lead to an absurdity. Consider the following: “Atheist” is redefined as someone who merely lacks the belief that God exists (rather than someone who believes God does not exist), and “belief” is redefined as holding something to be true without evidence (rather than a mental disposition concerning the truth of some proposition). Given these definitions, if God did something by which all people had direct and incontrovertible evidence that He existed, then no one could believe in God (since His existence is no longer an opinion without evidence). If no one believes in God because they know God exists, then they are atheists (because atheists lack a belief in God’s existence). Ironically, then, everyone would be an atheist precisely because they know God exists.
April 12, 2015
June 23, 2014
April 23, 2014
I’ve noticed that many nonbelievers (and even believers) misunderstand what constitutes a “God of the gaps” argument. They tend to think one is guilty of a God of the gaps argument if they offer God as an explanation for some X rather than some natural phenomenon. The problem with this definition is that it presumes the only valid explanation is a naturalistic explanation. God is ruled out as a valid explanation for anything a priori, so anyone who offers God as an explanation for X is thought to do so merely because they are ignorant of the proper naturalistic explanation. This begs the question in favor of naturalism and against theism. One could only conclude that every effect has a naturalistic explanation, and that God is not a valid explanation, if one has first demonstrated that God does not exist. So long as it is even possible that God exists, then it is possible that God may be the cause of X, and thus explain X.
What makes an argument a God of the gaps type of argument is when God is invoked to explain X simply because we do not know what else can explain X. In other words, God is used to plug a gap in our knowledge of naturalistic explanations: “I don’t know how to explain X, so God must have done X.” This is not at all the same as arguing that God is the best explanation of X, based on what we know regarding X and the explanatory options available to us. Here, God is being invoked to explain what we know, not what we don’t know.
November 4, 2013
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I’ve heard science types like Lawrence Krauss claim that science has shown us over and over again that we can’t trust our common sense, and by extension, philosophical reasoning. One of the go-to illustrations is our solar system. It’s said that common sense tells us the sun revolves around the Earth, and yet Copernicus, through science, showed common sense was unreliable as a guide to truth. Only science can tell us what is true.
I think this is a misconstrual of the issue. Daniel N. Robinson said it best: “What Copernicus said was not hostile to common sense but was inconsistent with common experience.” Indeed. While science has discovered physical phenomenon which is weird, to say the least, it does not defy common sense, but our common experience. Rationality is not at odds with science, and cannot be disproven by science. Indeed, the task of science presupposes rationality from start to finish.
Daniel N. Robinson, “Neuroscience and the Soul,” Philosophia Christi, Vol. 15, Number 1, 2013, 17.
October 24, 2013
Those who subscribe to empiricism believe that we should not believe the truth of some X based on a competent authority. We are only justified in believing some X if we have empirically verifiable evidence supporting the truth of X. It goes without notice that this principle itself is not empirically verifiable, and thus empiricism is self-refuting as a complete theory of knowledge. But let’s ignore the man behind the curtain for a moment, and explore other deficiencies in an empirical epistemology.
In his book, A Universe from Nothing, physicist and empiricist Lawrence Krauss describes the state of the cosmos in the distant future. Due to cosmic expansion, in two trillion years all of the evidence for the Big Bang (cosmic microwave background, redshift of distant objects/the Hubble expansion, and the measurement of light elements in the cosmos), and all 400 billion galaxies visible to us now, will no longer be detectable via empirical methods. Worse yet, all of the evidence for the dark energy that caused the cosmic expansion will be gone as well. For scientists living in that day, all of the empirical evidence will point to a static universe inhabited by a single galaxy that is no more than a trillion years old (based on the ratio of light elements at the time).
May 15, 2013
Michael Patton has a nice article detailing 12 ways we can prepare children for times of doubt in their Christian life.
May 13, 2013
Philosohpers David Bourget and David Chalmers recently surveyed 931 philosophy faculty members to determine their views on 30 different issues. Here were some of the more interesting results:
God: atheism 72.8%; theism 14.6%; other 12.6%.
Metaphilosophy: naturalism 49.8%; non-naturalism 25.9%; other 24.3%.
Mind: physicalism 56.5%; non-physicalism 27.1%; other 16.4%.
Free will: compatibilism 59.1%; libertarianism 13.7%; no free will 12.2%; other 14.9%.
Meta-ethics: moral realism 56.4%; moral anti-realism 27.7%; other 15.9%.
Normative ethics: deontology 25.9%; consequentialism 23.6%; virtue ethics 18.2%; other 32.3%.
Science: scientiﬁc realism 75.1%; scientiﬁc anti-realism 11.6%; other 13.3%
Time: B-theory 26.3%; A-theory 15.5%; other 58.2%.
Truth: correspondence 50.8%; deﬂationary 24.8%; epistemic 6.9%; other 17.5%.
Notice that although 72.8% of respondents are atheists, 56.4% are moral realists. This goes to show the strength of our moral intuitions. While atheists do not have a sufficient ontological grounding for objective moral values, they still believe in them nonetheless.
I was surprised that only 13.7% believe in libertarian free will. I would expect it to be much higher. Perhaps this correlates with the high rates of physicalism.
HT: Scot McKnight