Monday, January 22, 2007

Some Problems With Atheism

I wouldn't say such disparaging things about atheists if they didn't pull such sneaky tricks. Now of course I don't mean all atheists. But there are atheist fundies just as there are Christian fundies, and there's an atheist atheism of the gaps kind of argument. The atheist fundie fools himself into thinking that his view is totally empirical and demonstrated by science but "nothing in Christianity is objective," you know they don't understand anything about epistemology when they start demanding "objectivity." Espeicially to demand it from a world view. I can see asking for "objectivity" in the form of veri similitude for a study on air bags in automobiles, for example, but not backing up a world view! That's as idiotic as believing that you are being scientific because you life white lab coats.

The problem is this kind of atheist fundi fools himself into thinking that eh as some real verification and objective demonstration of his world view, but he's only being fooled by a self induced con job. It works like this. First he imposes a self privileging ideology upon the world. He privies doubt, so in his mind doubt comes to equal truth. Then he orients his world view around a value of accepting "only empirical evidence." He cons himself into thinking that he only accept ideas that are proven with empirical scientific evidence. Then attaches such importance to this concept that he is able to make a leap of faith and pretend that somehow valuing induction proves the materialist conclusions that he leaps to. So he think just because he wants all of his positions to be proven with empirical evidence, they must really be so. And of course he convinces himself that the task of science is to protect form religion and then science becomes his get out of hell free card. Let's review these steps.

(1)Impose ideology privilaging doubt
(2)accepts value of empirical data only
(3)leap of faith from value of emprical data to assumption of emprically based conclusions
(3) sanctions with the arua of science.

Of course he has no such data. There is no data that God doesnt' exist or that there is nothing beyond the material world.He has no of proving this at all. But that's OK he says because it's having a scientific way of life that counts. At least his over all view is supported by his love of "objectivity" so that sanctions his conclusions even if logic doesn't' sanction them.

The truth is he has no such proofs and his bold scientific way of life is a sham because he has many assumptions upon which his world view is predicated, the basis of which cannot be supported by science. I've made lists like this before, they include all the basic epistemic assumptions:

(1) The existence of other minds.
(2) that the future will be like the past
(3) that the sun will come up tomorrow
(4) That a world exists external to his own mind.

Now most of these are reasonable assumptions. But the point is he holds them without the possibility of any sort of real direct empirical scientific evidence, all the while claiming that as the basis of his entire world view.

The thing is, I wouldn't mind that so much, but then he tries to use this in contrast to religious thought. Everything that religious thinkers say or do receives hyper criticism from them. He imagines that theologians like Paul Tallich are just glorified sudayschool teachers with nothing going on up stairs. He waves around the word "objectivity" like there's really something to compare.

But he wont evaluate Christniaity on the terms of its own inner logic and every attempt to expalin what is is met with "but that's not objective, you dont' have anyting objective," that's just the illusion created by their value system.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

You want problems with atheism writ large? Please please please go to this website & participate--we need you there!!

http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/ac_grayling/2007/01/progress_and_the_roman_catholi.html

J.L. Hinman said...

that page is ridiculous. That guy doesn't know anything about history. "They murdered anyone who spoke out" where are these "millions of murders" he alledges "every Christian instituion" was invovled in? The guys an ass.

godma said...

I think you're very right to criticize people for claiming too much certainty (in anything). We should all admit that empiricism is itself self-supporting, and ultimately there must be at least a small leap of faith to buy into it, so we all are at least a little faithful.

A better tactic for the atheist is to point on the inconsistencies in what for many religious people passes for justification of belief, depending on the kind of belief in question. "Faith" is typically only called upon when the belief is relatively unsupported by reason and evidence. It seems pretty clear that this is a way to protect those cherished beliefs from the same standards of scrutiny that these same people would otherwise insist on.

For any "faith-based" belief (one called out as such), try replacing the object of the belief with something material, then see if the same justification still seems convincing. It will seem ridiculous.

Kilgore Trout said...

I agree that there are atheists who go too far, they make it seem as if they have proof of no god. Which is obviously untrue, for its impossible to prove a universal negative, but you know that. But at the same time I do not believe in god. for the very simple reason of nothing has given me a reason to think otherwise. You can call this faith in objective reasoning if you like. I call it being told to believe in the tooth fairy, Santa, God and the Easter Bunny all at about the same time. I quickly learned that 3 of these were simply stories that we tell to children, why would a young mind assume that the 4th was real? I mean the tooth fairy even gave me money, but I knew it was not real.

I enjoy talking with people, often in a semi-confrontational manner, just to hear what they really think. But when it get right down to it I don't care about the pros and cons of religion or atheism. I care about which is correct, but seeing as I don't expect to get that answer till I'm dead and its too late, what I do find interesting is trying to understand why other people do believe in God. I'm not looking for proof, obviously, I am just curious what convinces you that there is a god.

One other quick question.
are you Lawrence Hinman? normally I would consider that too personal of a question for my first time to a site but you give an awful lot of info so I didn't think that was rude.
Have a good one.

J.L. Hinman said...

I can appreciate the old "I just don't have any reason to beleive it." To me that's a logical approach or a reasonable one. What I can't abide is the next step many go into which is, therefore, those do believe it are nuts and ther's no reason why any sane thinking person would believe it. Taht's when I get mad.

Also I think the idea of sticking to the real rules of logic is important. I dont' like what atheists do with logic and I think they are willing to sacrafice real formal logic just because they can't use it to squash God belief.

I am not Lawrance Hinman, but if you mean the California academic I know who he is. We are not related. I am of the Texas Hinmans.

Jeanine said...

"He cons himself into thinking that he only accept ideas that are proven with empirical scientific evidence." Yes, this is the general thought that I encounter when I come across atheists. They will only accept what can scientifically be proven to them. They have made that their god.

Anonymous said...

Atheists do not have to prove the god of the bible does not exist. They only have to demonstrate reasonable doubt. It is the theists' job to prove that god exists. Moreover, you are conflating non-belief in a deity with non-belief in believing. Atheists can and do have faith in things other than god: justice, truth, liberty, love, and friendship to name a few. It does not prove atheists wrong to argue that they believe in something. You can only prove them wrong by proving god's existence, which has never been done.

Anonymous said...

Atheists are not suppposed to provide evidence for the existence of god. You can't argue on negatives. Proof has to be offered by the person who makes the clam. Atheists make no claims. I can't give you evidence for a giant teapot at the other side of the universe and you can't ask evidence for that. It is the same thing. the burden of proof lies on theists.

Metacrock said...

Atheists are not suppposed to provide evidence for the existence of god. You can't argue on negatives. Proof has to be offered by the person who makes the clam. Atheists make no claims. I can't give you evidence for a giant teapot at the other side of the universe and you can't ask evidence for that. It is the same thing. the burden of proof lies on theists.

>>>I wasn't talking about the burden to prove their position in argument I was talking about the initial presumption of belief and the prmia facie requirement for evidence form either side to establish presumption.

atheists do not start with presumption merely becuase they doubt. When atheists start saying things like "science give us a factual world view" then are totally confused and trying to win presumption without having to prove anything.

Anonymous said...

Why is so much pressure put on the theist? You're letting atheists off the hook too easily.

Metacrock said...

for presure on atheists see Atheist Watch