As is often the case when challenging their sacred dogmas, I’ve been battling an entire gaggle of Gnu atheists, led by Richard Wade over at Hemant Mehta’s blog. It all began when Wade left the following comment that, to me, perfectly articulates the central pillar of Gnu atheism. When I challenged Wade’s assertion that there is “no evidence” for God and asked him to define “evidence” for me, he said:
Is a universe with compassion better than a universe without compassion? Why or why not? As with yesterday’s question, I’m looking for direct, “yes” or “no” answers, followed by explanation if necessary.
This post is just a placeholder to continue this discussion from the now-defunct Common Sense Atheism blog, should any of the participants or onlookers be interested.
Those familiar with (a)theist discussion might have come across some variation of the statement,
If believers want to give God credit for changes in their life, if they are going to maintain any semblance of consistency, they must also ascribe the horrible atrocities around the world to God’s hand as well.
I still can’t figure out where the logic is. The statement seems wedded to the mistaken assumption that God is the only one with a hand in reality. Why should we ascribe the holocaust to God’s hand? “Because God could’ve stopped it and didn’t,” is the likely atheist response.
Would you accept the presence of evil as evidence of an evil, but not necessarily omnipotent god? Why or why not?
Though occasional use is inevitable, I generally try to avoid the words proof and disproof, especially in discussions of epistemology and empiricism. I don’t know how many of you have met him yet, but Peter Hurford is a new commenter around here with a blog of his own, and from what I’ve seen so far, I would highly recommend dialoging with him on behalf of his aptitude and courtesy. He also asks good questions, the kind that get you thinking, as opposed to, say, the kind that piss you off. Recently on another blog, Peter made a remark that I felt compelled to reply to, and I wanted to repost a slight modification of that short reply here, just to see what people here might think of it.
I imagine most anybody familiar with (a)theist discussion has encountered a believer whom, when backed into a corner about, say, the unimpressive findings of various prayer studies, resorts to the rejoinder that “God works in mysterious ways.” Personally, I don’t endorse that as a legitimate response to the unimpressive findings of various prayer studies, but that’s not what I’d like to talk about today.
I’d like to talk about the viciousness with which atheists often handle the “mysterious ways” response, then suggest that atheists are often just as guilty of the essentially the same “mysterious ways” rejoinder themselves.
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?
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."
Over the past six months, the arguments I've read and wrote have led me to what I believe to be a logically-valid, undeniable argument for DCT's superiority over any other moral theory. As such, I state confidently today that all contemplation of "the best moral theory" is actually a quest for second best.