The Evidential Problem Of Evil

Posted in Atheism, Logic, Philosophy, Religion, Responses on  | 8 minutes | 87 Comments →

An evidential POE argument from Peter Hurford of

1. Needless suffering, by definition, is any suffering that doesn’t exist because of a higher good.

2. Needless suffering, by definition, could be eliminated with no consequences.

3. Any all-good entity desires to eliminate all needless suffering.

4. Any all-knowing entity would know of all needless suffering, if any needless suffering exists.

5. Any all-powerful entity would be capable of eliminating all needless suffering.

6. Our world contains needless suffering.

7. Therefore from 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, and 6, an all-good, all-powerful, and all-knowing entity cannot exist.

8. God, as described by the major religions is all-good, all-powerful, and all-knowing.

9. Therefore from 7 and 8, God as described by the major religions does not exist.

I recently said that all the POE arguments I’ve heard reduce to arguments from incredulity, and this argument is no different. Inability to conceive of a higher good is the only thing grounding the claim that any given instance of suffering is needless. 6 is a naked assertion sustained only by incredulity. That alone invalidates the argument in my opinion, but I can make a stronger case.

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3 Questions From Leah

Posted in Faith, Quickies, Responses on  | 2 minutes | 25 Comments →

I recently discovered a blog called Unequally Yoked, maintained by Leah, a Yale student. In her post Your Faith Is Vain; Ye Are Yet In Your Sins, Leah invites believers to answer a few questions regarding their faith. Here are my initial offerings:

1. What earthly evidence could cause you to reject your faith (if any)?

I was just thinking about this [yet again] the other day, and while I'm hesitant to say any of the following would cause me to reject my faith, each would certainly cause me to have stronger doubts:

1.1 If recorded history could be reliably proven to extend back hundreds of thousands of years, as opposed to 6,000;

1.2 If scientists could prove that the universe always existed;

1.3 If there were no such thing as entropy;

1.4 If we had an absence of spiritual accounts instead of a consistent abundance of them spanning across multiple cultures in all times;

1.5 If the Jewish race had been exterminated or otherwise died off;

1.6 If humans lived to be significantly older than 120 years without the aid of science.

2. Have you researched these possible disproofs yourself/read the work of scholars in the field?

You bet.

3. Does your faith make any empirical predictions about the earthly world? What are they?

I believe the Bible makes quite a few empirical statements about the future of the earthly world. Here are a few off the top of my head:

3.1 The writer of Hebrews states that the cosmos will "wear out like a garment." That's certainly an empirical statement, in fact, one that seems empirically verified [hence my 3 above];

3.2 The Bible states that the Jewish race would be extant up until the final hour;

3.3 In Revelation, John of Patmos describes a state of affairs where nobody will be able to buy or sell goods without the "mark of the beast."

Common Sense Atheism: Index

Posted in Blogosphere, Common Sense Atheism on  | 3 minutes | 6 Comments →

I’ve decided to compose an index of posts I’ve made substantial contributions to at Common Sense Atheism from January 1st, 2010 to the date of this post, 6-11-2010. (NOTE: the index is now current through November 16th, 2010) It is not necessarily meant to be exhaustive, e.g. I omitted threads where I only made a single comment or two. I’ll be updating this list, as well as expanding on key posts where I think certain arguments deserve a closer look, and eventually distilling the best arguments into the homepage.

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The Argument From Justice

Posted in Atheism, Ethics, Logic, Religion, Syllogisms on  | 1 minute | 51 Comments →

P1    Systems that are amenable to justice are superior to those that are not;

P2    Atheism is not amenable to justice;

P3    Christianity is amenable to justice;

C      Christianity is superior to atheism.

The Masoretic-Greek Hypothesis: An Introduction

Posted in Bible, Blogosphere, Religion, Responses, Thinking Critically on  | 2 minutes | 31 Comments →

The basic concept behind the Masoretic-Greek Hypothesis (hereafter MGH) could be summarized as going to the source. Let's face it: the Christianity that many believers argue is indeed a moving target. Although I think it's an intellectual cop-out, I sympathize with atheists and unbelieving skeptics when they accuse believers of trotting out Courtier's Replies. Who wants to get bogged down trying to harmonize all the differing opinions of mainline religions and lesser sects, each of whom claim to be eating from the same salad bar called the Bible? Certainly not me. On the other hand, I sympathize with believers when they accuse atheists and unbelieving skeptics of gross negligence in their characterizations of religion.

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Utterly Disappointed, Or, My Response To DD’s Evidence Against Christianity, Pt. 1

Posted in Bible, Blogosphere, Religion, Responses, Skepticism, Thinking Critically on  | 14 minutes | 90 Comments →

Beginning here, Deacon Duncan of Evangelical Realism (DD) offers a series titled Evidence Against Christianity which compares the predicted consequences of two hypotheses against real-world evidence to determine which hypothesis seems more likely to be correct. The first hypothesis represents how the world should look if God existed and is called the Gospel Hypothesis (GH). The second represents how the world should look if God did not exist, and is accordingly called the Myth Hypothesis (MH).

I see absolutely nothing wrong with DD's approach, and no believer I'm aware of has voiced a problem with DD's methodology. For example, DD says,

One advantage of comparing two hypotheses by measuring their consequences against real-world fact is that this approach allows us to make a clear, functional distinction between honest, unbiased inquiry and mere rationalization. (DD)

I agree. That's all fine and dandy – but there's a catch: When they assume pre-existing premises, hypotheses must be accurate, and I'm not the only one to claim that DD's so-called Gospel Hypothesis is no gospel hypothesis at all.

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Rebutting Atheist Universe 1.2

Posted in Atheism, Books, Logic, Rebutting Atheist Universe, Religion, Skepticism on  | 10 minutes | 10 Comments →

Last week, we stopped in the middle of page 34, and Atheist Universe had already racked up 4 hasty generalizations, 2 rhetorically bolstered arguments, 1 epistemological nightmare and 2 strawman arguments. In the positive, the chapter also aspires to a worthy cause, and contained 1 well-spoken observation that everyone can agree on. Let's return to see how the next ten points go…

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False Argument #22: The Unicorns, Leprechauns & Flying Spaghetti Monster Trope

Posted in False Arguments, Religion, Skepticism on  | 7 minutes | 29 Comments →

I don't know why I didn't peg this one as a false argument much earlier.

You can often tell when there's an amateur skeptic lurking around some random debate, because at some point they're bound to upchuck their own particular version of the unoriginal and silly Unicorns, Leprechauns and Flying Spaghetti Monster (ULFSM) arguments made prevalent by the New Atheists among others. Dawkins did it with the Gospel and the Knights of the Round Table in TGD, and if you're at all into these types of debates, you've likely seen it go down for yourself:

"I've got legitimate reasons for what I believe," proclaims some reasonable believer.

"No you don't," quips a flippant atheist. "Do you have legitimate reasons to believe in Unicorns, Leprechauns and the Flying Spaghetti Monster?" (Hehehe I the atheist outsmarted you the God-dummy! is the usual subtext).

Just for fun, let's take a look at this idea that ULFSM are accurately comparable to God in an intellectually honest discussion of things.

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