Ask the Atheist (index of answers)

by Luke Muehlhauser on January 18, 2010 in Ask the Atheist,Indexes

Because I know everything, obviously.

Because I know everything, obviously.

Have a question you want this atheist to answer? Here’s where to ask it.

I don’t know everything, but I do spend an unusual amount of time thinking, reading, and writing about worldviews.

I’m not representative of atheism (nobody is), but I do at least agree with most philosophers on many things.

I’m not free of biases, but I try to be honest and open-minded.

So go ahead. Ask me anything.

Preference will be given to:

  • questions relevant to atheism, religion, naturalism, and ethics
  • questions that were obviously edited before posting to be as clear and concise as possible
  • questions about subjects I know a lot about
  • questions that are easy for me to answer

Also, please do not cram multiple questions into a single comment. If you want to ask multiple questions, put them in separate comments, even if the questions are related.

I look forward to interacting with you.

Cheers,

Luke

Index of answers

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{ 133 comments… read them below or add one }

MattC January 18, 2010 at 3:17 pm

By what means can one test the reliability of a revelatory experience if it is an experience that is not a property of physical reality? All experiences unilaterally rely upon the assumed reliability of the framework in which they take place. Physical experiences unilaterally rely upon the assumed reliability of our physical perceptions and physical reality itself. Similarly, though I will admit some overlap, theistic experiences unilaterally rely upon the assumed reliability of theistic reality and theistic perceptions. By trying to test these revelatory experiences using physical reality, one is taking them out of the framework for which they exist. It is tantamount to trying to prove the existence of physical reality or the reliability of our perceptions without begging the question.

On what basis then, given the aforesaid, can one criticize theistic experience?

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Aaron January 18, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Personal question but otherwise relevant. What are your plans regarding academic qualifications in the future? Do you plan to get a higher education in philosophy or are you content with doing this as a “hobby”?

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danielg January 18, 2010 at 3:37 pm

After listening to such interviews as the Graham Oppe one, are you afraid that you too may come to a point where you realize that there are no definitive arguments?

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lukeprog January 18, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Good questions so far…

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Midas Vuik January 18, 2010 at 3:47 pm

How did you come to be so knowledgeable about philosophy of religion, theology, etc.? What works did you read? Did you take any classes on the subject at all?

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Bill Maher January 18, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Did it hurt when you fell from heaven? j/k….

Do you think someone being religious can hinder someone from doing good work in history (treating miracles as historic events), philosophy (metaphysics and ethics relating to non-existent things), or science (interruption of the laws of the universe)?

Is it possible for them to “leave their beliefs at the door” and do experiments, read through the past, and confront the big questions like an atheist or agnostic?

If they can, then why bother caring of someone is religious or not?

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lukeprog January 18, 2010 at 3:56 pm

…although I must say that MattC and Bill Maher are cramming too many questions into one post. That makes these posts much harder to answer. Please keep it down to one question. Make multiple posts if you want to ask multiple questions.

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Christopher January 18, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Would you say that you were ever “saved”, as the term is understood by Christians, back when you were a practicing Christian? Or, looking back, would you say that you never truly put your faith in Christ (despite what you might have thought at the time)?

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Haecceitas January 18, 2010 at 4:06 pm

If (for whatever reason) you became convinced that substance dualism is the correct view in the area of the philosophy of mind, what kind of implications (if any) would this have on your thinking about theism vs. atheism?

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Haukur January 18, 2010 at 5:20 pm

I’d like to ask you a modified version of the first question you asked Vox Day.

Let’s say that all the traditional atheistic arguments succeed, and all the traditional theistic arguments fail. Let’s say the modal ontological argument fails to establish the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent, and all-good being. Cosmological arguments fail to establish a creator of the universe. Design arguments fail to establish that the universe was designed to host intelligent life. Historical analysis fails to establish any miraculous events. Let’s say all that is true.

My question is, Why are you not religious? It seems to me that the worthlessness of religious activities (such as worship and prayer) is not established even if all the arguments above are granted. And in fact, there are people who agree with you on those arguments but still do engage in religious activities.

I hope that’s not too long. It’s just one question but I felt it would likely be misunderstood if I didn’t include some clarifications.

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TH January 18, 2010 at 5:22 pm

Given the exponential growth of technology and the likelihood that physicalism is correct that consciousness is an emergent property of matter and energy, will you have your head frozen when you die?

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Lee A.P. January 18, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Luke,

Is there any defense in the philosophy of religion for the following problem:

Much is said, especially with regards to William Lane Craig, about the witness of the Holy Spirit. Apparently, one can know things for certain when the “Holy Spirit” communicates with a person.

I do not know exactly how Craig views Satan but in Christian belief he is generally regarded as a being adept at trickery.

Given a supernatural world view that accepts evil beings adept at trickery, and given the fact that many Christians regard Satan as a brilliantly deceptive being, how can one ever know that they themselves are not the ones being tricked?

This is perhaps not far off from what certain Muslims may say about Christian belief.

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Haukur January 18, 2010 at 6:07 pm

TH: will you have your head frozen when you die?

I asked Luke the cryogenic question in a previous thread (http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=5717) and he gave an answer. There are all sorts of follow-up questions that would be interesting, though.

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Zachary January 18, 2010 at 6:22 pm

I have a question about desireism sorry if this is the wrong place to post this. If a good desire is a desire that tends to promote other desires how can we do a test on whether or not a desire does such a thing? Because it almost seems like we must base it off of intuition which as Fyfe has said is just a way of promulgating one’s own biases or prejudices or compare the number of desires a specific desire promotes and the number of desires it thwarts but since there are an infinite number of malleable desires then couldn’t you always add one more desire to either side to make it so that the desire promotes more desires than it thwarts

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lukeprog January 18, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Zachary,

Your question needs more punctuation. If you narrow and clarify your question, I may be able to answer it. Thanks.

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corn January 18, 2010 at 6:56 pm

How is it you have become so knowledgeable about seducing women, and how were you able to identify body language and vocal tonality as being two principal mechanisms by which seduction could be realized?

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Bill Maher January 18, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Luke, sry about that.
I will just ask

Do you think someone being religious can hinder someone from doing good work in history (treating miracles as historic events), philosophy (metaphysics and ethics relating to non-existent things), or science (interruption of the laws of the universe)?

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Zachary January 18, 2010 at 7:05 pm

I have a question about desireism. I am sorry if this is the wrong place to post this.

If a good desire is a desire that tends to promote other desires, then how can we evaluate whether or not a desire is good? Because it seems like we have two choices to base our evaluation off of intuition, which as Fyfe has said is just a way of promulgating one’s own biases or prejudices. Alternatively, we must compare the number of desires a specific desire promotes and the number of desires it thwarts, but since there are an infinite number of malleable desires then couldn’t you always add one more desire to either side to make it so that the desire promotes more desires than it thwarts?

Is That better?

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Charles January 18, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Did you dye your hair? I seem to remember it being lighter.

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Matt McCormick January 18, 2010 at 7:46 pm

I think this is a tough one for an atheist (it was for me):
The problem of evil is alleged by most to show that an all good, all knowing, all powerful God doesn’t exist. So if there were one of those Gods, what exactly would our existence be like with regard to suffering? I take John Hick’s point that such a good wouldn’t put us in a hedonistic paradise, to be a pretty good point.

Matt McCormick

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lukeprog January 18, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Charles,

Yes, I dyed my hair.

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Hermes January 18, 2010 at 8:25 pm

A few wide open questions about ‘life after death’ and/or mind-body dualism.

Feel free to handle both as a set or individually, or to ignore one to favor the other. Some sentences were left intentionally ambiguous to allow for maximum flexibility.

——————————————

Was mind-body dualism or belief in an afterlife realm a necessary or important part of your previous theistic beliefs?

At the time you deconverted (reverted to atheism, …), did you have any strong reassessments of your previous thoughts on dualism or an afterlife realm?

Regardless of your responses to the previous questions, are you currently aware of any non-theistic arguments or evidence for an afterlife realm?

If you consider any of those to be credible, are they mainly abstract theorems or ones based on tangible evidence?

Notes:

* Any of these questions could be answered using non-theistic arguments or evidence as you see fit.

* While specific incorporeal soul concepts are not assumed, these questions do not cover corporeal souls.

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Steven Stark January 18, 2010 at 9:03 pm

This is my version of some ideas already expressed

What makes something “natural” other than its predictability, reliability, and/or membership in a causal chain? And why would we judge the possibility of the “supernatural” by these criteria?

Please note that I am not implying here that there IS any way to judge the possibility of the supernatural.

thanks!

Steven

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Ajay January 19, 2010 at 2:05 am

Luke,

Why are some Christians so obsessed about abortions? I.e., the concept of baby killing for them, are they concerned about the baby’s moral consequences or the mother’s?

If it is about the baby, cant they leave it up to God as to whether the baby goes to Heaven or Hell or the limbo? If it is the mother, are they really concerned that she will go to Hell for killing her baby and are therefore really caring about her well being in the afterlife?

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Beelzebub January 19, 2010 at 4:40 am

Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist party?

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Beelzebub January 19, 2010 at 4:49 am

Do you consider yourself a feminist?

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Beelzebub January 19, 2010 at 4:53 am

And finally, was your bicep photoshopped — and what is your right hand doing? :-)

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BJ Marshall January 19, 2010 at 5:46 am

Because I maintain that the scientific method is the best and most reliable means we have to learn about objective reality, some of my friends accuse me of being just as dogmatic and arrogant as Christians are. What are three easy yet effective actions atheists can take to (try to) prevent others from seeing them as dogmatic and arrogant?

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Charles January 19, 2010 at 5:48 am

lukeprog: Yes, I dyed my hair.  

I knew it!

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lukeprog January 19, 2010 at 8:57 am

Beelzebub,

The photo is not photoshopped. Both hands are holding a giant hammer at a carnival.

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Jeff H January 19, 2010 at 3:07 pm

lukeprog: Beelzebub,The photo is not photoshopped. Both hands are holding a giant hammer at a carnival.  

And what do you mean by “giant hammer”, exactly?

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lukeprog January 19, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Jeff H,

A big rubber hammer you pound a stump with and it measures how strong you are and if you get a high enough strength number you win a prize.

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Gabriel January 19, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Do you believe in no God, or not believe in a God?
Do you think there’s a difference?

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lukeprog January 19, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Gabriel,

Is the following identical to what you meant to ask?

“Do you believe there is no God, or do you not believe in a God? Do you think there’s a difference?”

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Jeff H January 21, 2010 at 3:06 pm

lukeprog: Jeff H,A big rubber hammer you pound a stump with and it measures how strong you are and if you get a high enough strength number you win a prize.  

Lol I think you missed my double-entendre, but perhaps it’s better that you did :P

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lukeprog January 21, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Jeff H,

Oh. Yes. I did.

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Molly January 24, 2010 at 9:42 am

Do you know of any feminist philosophers of religion who are atheists? Feminist arguments for atheism seem to be either largely ignored or virtually non-existent. The only thing I’ve read thus far is an essay by feminist philosopher Christine Overall.

It just seems that a very strong case could be made from a feminist perspective, for what I hope are obvious reasons.

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Taranu January 24, 2010 at 10:41 am

Luke, is it ethical, according to Desire Utilitarianism, to torture a terrorist with fundamentalist convictions bent on destroying the planet if he activated a weapon so powerful as to put an end to all life on Earth and he’s the only one who can disarm it? Because of his convictions all attempts of persuasion have failed and torture remains the last resort.

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lukeprog January 24, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Taranu,

I’ll say right now I have no idea how to answer your question. I leave the applied ethical questions to those who have at least some confidence in their meta-ethical presuppositions.

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Joel Duggins January 24, 2010 at 9:06 pm

As a Christian who is convinced that the evidence points to my side of things, I have many questions for you, but this is perhaps one of the largest. If our inmost selves are composed merely of various connected neurons and other tissue, and our entire existence, (thoughts, beliefs, and all) are the unavoidable result of the sum movement of the cosmos, (cause and effect, etc) how can you know that this is true? That is to say, if naturalism is true, and you are effectively programmed by evolutionary processes, (you are the effect in a chain of cause and effect) how do you know that you aren’t simply forced to believe what you believe, even if it is false. To put it even more simply: If what you believe is true, how does it avoid proving that nothing can be truly known to be true?

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Gabriel January 25, 2010 at 3:58 am

lukeprog: Gabriel,Is the following identical to what you meant to ask?“Do you believe there is no God, or do you not believe in a God? Do you think there’s a difference?”  

Yes, that’s identical.

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Robert February 4, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Luke, You know the Bible as well or better than most church-going Christians and you have said that “There are so many blatant contradictions in the Bible, and apologists’ attempts to reconcile many of them are … clearly dishonest and absurd.”

I’m really interested in which discrepancies you find most damning and without a reasonable explanation? Put another way: If you could only present a few Biblical contradictions to a believer that will openly consider the facts, what would you choose?

I am that believer. I am wrestling with Biblical errancy, and since you have been down the same path, I’d like to know what you found impossible to reconcile.

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lukeprog February 5, 2010 at 8:46 am

Robert,

Yeah, I’ll eventually write about Biblical contradictions. But it’s not on my high priority list. There are other blogs on that.

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Feldmm1 February 7, 2010 at 7:15 am

How long should I expect it to be before you start posting in your Arguing about Evil series again?

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lukeprog February 7, 2010 at 8:05 am

Feldmm1,

Not sure yet. I want to make sure I understand Plantinga’s FWD completely, first. Seeing as Mackie and Rowe got it wrong on their first tries, I’ve put myself up to quite a challenge! :)

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Chris Hallquist February 7, 2010 at 8:20 pm

My question:

In your “New Sincerity,” you strongly implied, through your choice of a couple links, that you think open relationships are far superior to what most people think of as traditional relationships. Am I reading this right, and if so, why do you think this? Where do you think sexual jealousy comes from, and how hard do you think it is to overcome?

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lukeprog February 7, 2010 at 9:06 pm

Uncredible Hallq,

I’d rather not discuss relationships, etc. too much in the body of my blog, so I’ll put my response here instead.

I don’t necessarily think that open relationships are superior to traditional relationships, just like I don’t necessarily think that globetrotting with CouchSurfing is better than holding down a steady job.

My second link to ‘Opening Up’ doesn’t imply that open relationships are superior; rather, it is a how-to guide for people who are interested.

However, my first link does seem to argue that open relationships are superior to traditional relationships. It makes a contrast that looks like this:

OPEN RELATIONSHIPS ___ TRADITIONAL RELATIONSHIPS
choice ________________ obligation
co-created ____________ co-dependent
free _________________ jealous

and so on.

I think these adjectives are not very debatable. It’s just part of the definition of a traditional relationship that a heavy set of obligations are due to each partner, that partners are dependent on each other in significant ways, that sexual jealousy is warranted, that each partner has some rightful ownership over the other person’s sex life, and so on.

That may sound like an argument that open relationships are superior, but I didn’t intend it that way. Words like ‘obligation’ and ‘jealousy’ have negative connotations, but of course the whole point of traditional relationships is that most people think they are positive features of a good relationship. Most people would say it is GOOD that couples have some obligations to each other, as this makes the relationship more robust, comfortable, stable, etc. They would also say it is GOOD that each partner has an expectation that their partner will not sleep with anyone else, as this improves the intimacy of the relationship, etc.

There is even an acceptance of – nay, a glorification of – co-dependency. Love songs say, “I can’t live without you baby,” and so on. For many people, this is a significant source of the meaning and pleasure to be found in a relationship. If your happiness isn’t significantly dependent on your partner, then why bother? Do you really love them if you don’t have burning desires for them that, when thwarted, cause pain?

And I think these are mostly VALID points. Many (most?) people will be most satisfied by having one exclusive, highly intimate, stable relationship at a time, and things like jealousy, obligation, and co-dependency may help such relationships to occur.

Clearly, there are many people for whom open relationships will not be satisfying. At all. So my goal isn’t to argue that open relationships are superior. Rather, I bring it up because the traditional relationship is often assumed to be the only way to do things, and many people who aren’t satisfied by traditional relationships aren’t really aware there’s another option.

I always have guys ask me, “What do you mean? A girl doesn’t mind when you sleep with other women?” Now, this isn’t very applicable to me because I’m no supergenius with women, but the answer is “No, there are lots of other women who DON’T mind, especially if you’re the most awesome guy she knows, and she has a great time whenever she’s with you, and you don’t talk about other women or disrespect her.” (Again, I know this not so much from my own experience, but from the experience of guys who are supergeniuses with women.)

Globetrotting and open relationships aren’t for everyone. But I do like to note that they are legitimate options for the sake of people who don’t realize that there are more options than settling down in a steady job with a spouse and kids.

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DoAtheistsExist? February 8, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Hey there Luke, I’m a Bible-believing follower of Jesus- probably what you would refer to as an evangelical Christian =)
Can I just say that I am loving your blog, I haven’t read a huge amount of it yet but what I have read is really challenging me in many ways to make sure that I question my faith to the fullest extent.
I have a few questions; you are clearly not only incredibly knowledgeable on many subjects but also extremely well read. But from what I understand you also only began writing this blog over the last year and a half or so.

So I guess my question is how have you gotten through so many books and articles over such a short period of time?
Are you a speed reader?
I guess I just can’t imagine being able to read all that stuff cos I’m in my last year at school, I don’t know if that will be something that changes in the coming years at university.

Thanks a lot for your time, Luke =)

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DoAtheistsExist? February 8, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Kind of related to my question above, but how do you also manage to churn out so many articles and blogs so frequently, whilst also replying to SO many comments all over your own blog and external blogs??

I really commend your output levels and efficiency!! :P

All the best Luke! =)

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lukeprog February 8, 2010 at 4:38 pm

DoAtheistsExist,

Thanks for the kind words.

There was a time in my life when I was wrestling with these issues where I did little else but read philosophy of religion texts. So that gave me a good start. These days, I don’t actually have much time to read, so instead I try to be aware of everything and make very good selections with regard to what I do read.

How do I have such high output? I spend a TON of hours on it all. And I won’t be able to keep up this pace forever.

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DoAtheistsExist February 9, 2010 at 9:39 am

Haha well I thought so, I guess I’ll have to make the most of this point in time where you are able to reply to my comments, so that I can learn as much as possible from you!

Are there any specific books that you thouroughly recommend for thinking critically/logically and/or on how to debate/speak/write persuasively?

I see all these posts that you, Andrew and John W Loftus have written about WLC having all those years of experience and the complete inadequacy of almost all his atheist opponents to date and so I want to learn from their mistakes so to speak (as a Christian debater though, naturally ;] ). I want to make sure I utilize having seen the wisdom of these posts at such a young age and spend my time wisely~ debating! ;P

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Karen February 13, 2010 at 12:11 pm

It seems to me that we are a terribly young species on a terribly old (to us) planet in an even older universe. We are 6bn individuals with 6bn world views and therefore 6bn realities. To some Jehovah is real, to others alien abductions etc etc. I cannot even tell if I taste an organge or perceive its colour in the same way as you. For every new life, new discovery, invention or thought, the complexity of existence increases. For every question science answers, another set of questions arises. We know only answers which present themselves in the framework of the question asked. We do not even know as yet if we are asking the right questions, let alone if we have the correct answers. We do not, for example, *know* that what we do now will be relevant in 1 million years. Yes, there are things which can be held as true, but only in a given context. Change the context and you change the question and the answer. Given that thoughts such as these(& so many more, with a few of my own conclusions) arise with little philosophical study or reading on my part, I would be interested to know which philosophers you would suggest I might be interested in. Thanks.

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Karen February 13, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Karen: relevant
</blockquote
For which read "irrelevant"!

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Chris Hallquist February 14, 2010 at 11:04 am

Thanks for clearing up the open relationship stuff. You’re basically right that obligations define traditional relationships. I’d take issue with the comments about jealousy and co-dependency, though. Jealousy is a natural human emotion that most people have to learn to deal with somehow, and most guides to polyamory/open relationships I’ve seen acknowledge this. Monogamy is just one really simple way of coping. Of course, if you’re in the minority of people who aren’t naturally very jealous, open relationships may be a much better option for you. Similary, while co-dependency is bad and should not be glorified, it isn’t an intrinsic to traditional relationships, and isn’t automatically prevented by open relationships.

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lukeprog February 14, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Chris,

I agree with all that.

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Taranu February 17, 2010 at 2:33 am

Luke, what do you know about Swinburne’s “The Resurrection of God Incarnate”? Are you familiar with this book and with the argument he make’s in it? And if so, can you provide some critical references?

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lukeprog February 17, 2010 at 7:35 am

Taranu,

I haven’t read it. I know it was reviewed on Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.

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Rhys Wilkins February 20, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Luke,

What is your opinion on psychedelic drugs such as DMT, Mescaline and Psilocybin? Do you think they can be used as a serious tool for introspection and philosophical utility or are they just chemicals which induce non-veridical spooky experiences?

I am curious about your thoughts on this since most freethinkers I know actually are quite open to them and think they have alot of potential to increase understanding of the human mind and reality.

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danielg February 22, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Rhys Wilkins: drugs

As a Christian and former drug user who still has some fond memories of drug use, let me say this.

Drugs have a very limited ability to actually bring enlightenment – more often than not, the initial enlightening affects give way to befuddlement, and often addiction or death.

In fact, it is my experience that such things as the ‘beautiful skeletons’ associated with psychedelic drugs and the Grateful Dead show the deceptive power of drugs – all the while you use them, they are drawing you towards death instead of life and health, and making it seem beautiful and enlightening.

While drugs may have some limited use in helping us get free from inhibitions and guilt thinking, that can be done without drugs. A little wine makes the heart glad, but beyond that, it’s destructive.

You can learn a whole lot more through surrendering yourself to a guru or master, a way of life, and especially, imho, to Christ who is alive and can instruct you from the inside out.

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Rhys Wilkins February 22, 2010 at 4:23 pm

danielg,

I am only talking about psychedelics, not drugs such as alcohol, speed, amphetamines, cocaine etc. I realize that when used excessively, these kinds of chemicals can be extremely bad for you.

I personally think that psychedelics have enormous benefits as a psychotherapy tool, as has been shown in repeated pre-1970 studies. The shameful thing is there are many misconceptions about what psychedelics are and what they do, the government’s War On Drugs (which hasn’t achieved a damn thing) is largely to be blamed for this spreading of propaganda and misinformation.

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danielg February 22, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Well, having used marijuana (which is a mild psychedelic), acid, and mushrooms, and seen people who used them a lot, I can tell you that they do cause you to be dull and befuddled over time. I’ve never done peyote.

But the descriptions I gave above I most certainly do apply to psychedelics – the whole Grateful Dead thing is all about acid, and it certainly does fry your brain over time. I’ve met guys who could hardly put words together from chronic acid use.

The amount of insight you get diminishes as you use, rather than increases – in my experience and observation, anyway. Paradoxically, you think you are getting smarter and gaining insight, while all the time you are just having the *feeling* of insight, without any real wisdom, and are killing brain cells, and drawing closer to ‘beautiful death.’

Ever had the experience when high of seeing someone make a facial expression, and thinking that, while looking into their face/eyes, you are looking into their soul? As is the case when you are sober, if you were more aware, you could see the same thing, and understand that you are probably making lots of assumptions about what you see there, without the drug telling you you have more insight than you really do.

>> RHYS: I personally think that psychedelics have enormous benefits as a psychotherapy tool, as has been shown in repeated pre-1970 studies.

Did they really show that? I mean, I know there are some ‘truth serums’ (sodium pentathol?) out there, but these were just used to lower inhibitions in interrogations. I’m not sure LSD panned out to be useful in this OR in therapy, but you might cite the reports.

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Rhys Wilkins February 22, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Ill give you a couple of refs to check out if you like, they are mostly experiments I read about in DMT: The Spirit Molecule by Rick Strassman, MD.

I also agree that rapacious overuse of anything will result in harm. The same thing applies to drinking too much water or eating too much salt.

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lukeprog February 22, 2010 at 6:41 pm

I’ve just never had much interest in drugs.

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Rhys Wilkins February 22, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Luke,

Do you have an opinion on the War On Drugs? For, against or neither?

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matth March 7, 2010 at 3:18 am

If an atheist in extreme pain, fear, or desperation begs God to “Please get me out of this” should this experience be relevant in trying to determine if God actually does exist? Since you stopped believing in God have you ever had any such experience?

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Matt M March 22, 2010 at 7:56 am

Luke,

Do you think there’s much to learn from debates between liberal and fundamentalist theists?

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lukeprog March 22, 2010 at 9:43 am

Good question, Matt M; I’ll reply later in this series.

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everettattebury March 22, 2010 at 12:42 pm

If it is moral for a man to join an army and kill the enemies of his country, why isn’t it also moral for him to kill his own personal enemies?

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everettattebury March 22, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Why should group on group violence be acceptable if individual on individual violence is not? Doesn’t it make more sense for a man to kill another man whom he actually knows and hates, than for him to kill a stranger towards whom he has no feelings?

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everettattebury March 22, 2010 at 12:43 pm

If it is immoral for a man to decide to kill his enemy, isn’t it also immoral for him to delegate that decision to the leader of a group to which he belongs?

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danielg March 22, 2010 at 1:45 pm

If it is moral for a man to join an army and kill the enemies of his country, why isn’t it also moral for him to kill his own personal enemies?  

Here’s my theist response (with ab atheist ‘straw man’ and a ‘logician’ for fun):

ATHEIST: Objectively speaking, there is no logical grounding for absolute morals, so really, it’s just an opinion about whether either of these are moral choices.

LOGICIAN: On what grounds have you determined that joining the army to kill enemies of your country is moral? Is that a given? What if you’ve joined the army for different reasons but still end up killing enemies? Does your motive determine your morality? Under what conditions is either choice moral or immoral? You have oversimplified the question.

THEIST:
1. It *is* moral to kill to protect the innocent from death or grave harm, even as an individual

2. It *is* moral to kill as an official of the state *if*
– the laws are just (in an objective sense)
– the offense protects the innocent from death or grave harm
– you have been elected by the state/people to do so

3. State-sponsored lethal enforcement and punishment are moral because they (in theory) obviate the personal inequities of vigilante justice, where justice is typically, if not universally
– not impartial
– not dispassionate
– not commensurate to the offense
– given to escalating feuds between the offender and the vigilante – it removes the personal animus between the guilty and the victim when justice is served.

As a Christian theist, all of these perspectives, and more, are imo biblical, balanced, and sound. Those who want to bring up the OT Israelite laws misunderstand how the outside world is to apply the scriptures (esp. in light of the New Testament).

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danielg March 22, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Luke,Do you think there’s much to learn from debates between liberal and fundamentalist theists?  

Absolutely – it can be used both for information, as well as to play Christians against each other in a pick and choose way. For EG:

LEGIT USE:
Liberal theologians posit logical and historical challenges to conservative positions. In what way are they correct/incorrect in their assumptions and logic?

ILLEGIT USE:
Since Christians disagree on this subject, then you can’t claim that any answer is right (assume that all answers are equally valid). If you have dissent in your own camp, how can you be sure? (logic be damned ;)

*Or*, claim a minority opinion as representative. Of course, appeal to minority or majority is not logical, esp. if you can present reasons why the majority may want to be self-deceived about the issue (for example, as I have done in Mass Delusion – 10 Reasons Why the Majority of Scientists Believe in Evolution)

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lukeprog March 22, 2010 at 2:19 pm

everettattebury,

Oof. I have no idea. I don’t do applied ethics. Maybe Alonzo Fyfe will eventually write on these topics.

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danielg March 22, 2010 at 2:45 pm

everettattebury,Oof. I have no idea. I don’t do applied ethics. Maybe Alonzo Fyfe will eventually write on these topics.  

BTW, while desirism may reach the same conclusion or a superior one (though I doubt it), the biblical answer is:

We are responsible to obey the higher laws of ethics and morality, as revealed by:

1. The scriptures
2. The relative primacy of the law of personal responsibility over obedience to flawed leaders
3. Our own consciences

Interestingly, I am writing a rather long essay on the conscience from a biblical view, and scriptures teach that even when our consciences may be over-active, we should obey them to not harm ourselves through violating them. We should rather seek to re-educate them first.

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danielg March 22, 2010 at 2:51 pm

OPEN RELATIONSHIPS ___ TRADITIONAL RELATIONSHIPS
choice ________________ obligation
co-created ____________ co-dependent
free _________________ jealous

Choice of language here is important, and connotations carry value judgements. For example

OPEN ———– TRADITIONAL
lack of committment — committment
infidelity ———— fidelity
independent ———– interdependent
insecure ————– secure
unstable ————– stable

Is this a fair appraisal? As fair as that above, I would argue.

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lukeprog March 22, 2010 at 3:00 pm

I think that’s fair, except for ‘infidelity.’ Infidelity assumes that there was an assumption or commitment of fidelity in the first place.

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danielg March 22, 2010 at 3:53 pm

I think that’s fair, except for ‘infidelity.’ Infidelity assumes that there was an assumption or commitment of fidelity in the first place.  

LOL, I was trying to show how UNFAIR both choices of language were :D. Maybe you meant that my criticism was fair? I’m just saying that it may be hard to distinguish between value neutral and laden terms, but we should only use the value laden terms if we think we can support the negative connotations in terms of human suffering.

For example, if we contend that multiple caretakers or impermanent caretakers is bad for children, then perhaps we could argue against polyamory (or serial monogamy ;).

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lukeprog March 22, 2010 at 5:36 pm

danielg,

Yeah, I think both are lists are fair, except for ‘infidelity.’

You may be right about caretakers, but of course that’s an empirical question. It seems that divorce is very, very bad for children – and marriage, as you know, almost ensures divorce. :) But I doubt this makes polyamory or serial monogamy better than marriage. My own strategy is to not have children, but lots of people won’t go for that.

Probably, if kids just plain had better parents, regardless of marital status, that would help alot.

But I really have no idea. This is certainly not my subject of expertise!

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everettattebury March 23, 2010 at 7:15 am

When a child is taught contradictory moral precepts, how will he deal with the cognitive dissonance that creates? Will his ability to think critically be impaired?

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danielg March 23, 2010 at 10:21 am

When a child is taught contradictory moral precepts, how will he deal with the cognitive dissonance that creates?Will his ability to think critically be impaired?  

I know this isn’t “ask the theist”, but I do like at least providing a brief answer from my perspective before Luke gets to it ;)

1. Children do need a simple moral code and boundaries to begin with.

2. There are at least two ways in which you can help children when they encounter moral inequities or inconsistencies

a. As they grow, they will need to learn that not everything is black and white. Rather, there are situational concerns, and principles for navigating gray areas.

b. If you are fair and consistent and LOVING as a parent, that gives them confidence that you are being just even when they can’t yet understand it. *Relationship* with the ‘almighty parent’ is part of the equation, as it is with faith.

Check out Kohlberg’s stages of moral development for some great insight into how moral understanding develops in children.

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Eneasz March 23, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Luke,

It’s been pointed out to me that since Rights entail Obligations, and pigs arent smart enough to understand/honor obligations, we should have no qualms about eating them. If it’s true that pigs aren’t smart enough for this, how damning is this? I didnt stop eating pigs because I believe they have any “rights”, but because I think they’re smart enough to merit some caution. Am I wrong in setting my criteria below the “ability to understand obligations” threshold?

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lukeprog March 23, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Eneasz,

That’s a question for someone who defends rights-based morality, I’m afraid. I’m a consequentialist.

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katie March 24, 2010 at 11:06 am

Luke,

I repect your honesty. This website does a well job of trying to show both arguments. I was wondering do you ever think about “what if Im wrong?” For me, a believer, was to find out at the end of my life that I was wrong I would be ok with that. Because I would have lived a life of service for other people and loved something bigger than myself. So what if your wrong?

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Taranu April 8, 2010 at 9:59 am

Luke, are you going to write a review of the recent Craig – Tooley debate? Stating your reasons for why Tooley’s argument and Craig’s objections to it are or are not persuasive, of course.

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lukeprog April 8, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Taranu,

I haven’t seen the Craig-Tooley debate, so I can’t say what my thoughts on it are. I really should, though, since Tooley actually is familiar with much of the literature. Is the debate video or audio available somewhere?

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Taranu April 8, 2010 at 10:07 pm

I haven’t seen it either. I found out about it from the reasonablefaith newsletter. I also read what I could find on blogs and forums, but I thought maybe you’ve seen it or found it given your internet searching experience. I’m sure it will soon pop out, Craig’s debates usually do. It’s only a matter of time.

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Jason Vacare April 9, 2010 at 2:29 pm

I have a very novice vocabulary question. In my attempt to gain a better footing in the discourse of theist and atheist arguments, I have discovered that my definition for the word “rational” may be lacking. This observation was made when I was reading your link to Plantinga’s “Two Dozen (or so) Theistic Arguments”:

“Consider a person who has been brought up to believe some wild and implausible proposition – for example, the earth is on the back of a turtle, which is on the back of another turtle, so that it’s turtles all the way down. A person brought up to believe this could believe it rationally.”

My lay-person definition of the word “rational” (i.e. “based on reason”) does not seem to suffice in this usage. I would think that (using lay-person terminology) this hypothetical person’s belief would be more accurately classified as faith, or at best, superstition. It could be that I’m simply not skilled or imaginative enough to think of the argument which one might use to rationally arrive at this hypothetical belief, but I think it is more likely a failure of my definition of the word. However, I’m not sure how to expand my definition accurately. Can you elaborate on what is meant by the word “rational” in this context?

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Taranu April 27, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Luke, how do you answer a guy who says that since God is the greatest conceivable being, if it’s logically possible for God to exist than God really exists? Does this have something to do with the de cogito – de re distinction Kant made regarding the Ontological Argument or is it related to one of God’s attributes (aseity maybe)?

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Andy Walters May 3, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Hey Luke,

How would you respond to Kantian lines of thought regarding the “normative question”, i.e., “Why be moral?” In your book on Desirism, you bash Kantian deontology, but I’ve never heard you comment on it explicitly. I actually find something resembling Christine Korsgaard and Shelly Kagan’s accounts compelling. To help you wrap your head around what I mean, here’s a very rough sketch of the argument I take to establish a duty to promote the best results:

1. The reflective structure of consciousness requires that in order for me to act at all, “I”, the persistent I, must have a set of rules from which to endorse or reject possible courses of action.

2. Not only am I free to endorse or reject possible courses of action, I am also free to endorse or reject the very set of rules from which I choose to endorse or reject actions.

3. Such a set of rules will be obligatory for me only because I have chosen them myself, and

4. The only standard for whether a set of rules will be valid is whether I can reasonably choose them.

5. I should, therefore, only act on a rule if I can rationally choose it to be the rule I will always behave by.

6. But since the relevant domain of rules we are evaluating (possible acts) does not distinguish between agents

7. I should, therefore, only act on a rule if I can rationally choose it to be a universal law for all agents.

8. Since there is nothing irrational about willing that everyone acting to bring about the best results overall was a universal law, I am permitted to act in that way.

9. Moreover, since

(9-1) no other rule than “act to bring about the best results overall” does, in fact, bring about the best results overall, and

(9-2) I and all agents always want the best results more deeply than anything else,

10. The only universal law I can rationally will is that I act to bring about the best results overall. So,

11. I and all other rational beings are required to promote the best results overall, even if the cost to me is greater than the benefit, as long as the overall benefits are maximized.

What are your thoughts on an argument like this? (Disclaimer: I’ve taken the above almost exclusively from Kagan’s article “Kantianism for Consequentialists”.)

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lukeprog May 3, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Andy,

That’s gonna have to wait until much later, I’m afraid.

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Andy Walters May 3, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Luke,

Aw, c’mon! Not even a little bitty answer? Just a rough sketch of your current thoughts? Doesn’t have to be anything fancy. :)

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Taranu May 4, 2010 at 10:42 am

Luke,

I don’t know if there’s a limit to the number of questions a person may ask and I hope you don’t mind me asking more of them. I asked several already, including one about a week ago, and now I have others. As I keep thinking about God and religion they just come to mind and I’m interested in hearing your opinion on them (I hope they are not too silly, ambiguous or badly formulated).

The questions I want to ask concern the recent debate Matt McCormick had with Russell DiSilvestro about the Resurrection. Matt mentioned the Salem Witch Trials in order to point out the double standard Christians use when it comes to the Resurrection Hypothesis. Now I’m not sure the Salem case is the best example one can use of an alleged supernatural event that has better evidence in its favor than the Resurrection. One can say he believes the Devil did it and avoid using a double standard. Even Russell said that it’s not obvious from the brief presentation Matt gave that no supernatural event occurred. Than he went on saying that even if one is convinced the women were not witches, juries are known to make mistakes. Now I’m guessing at this point he could have been accused of employing a double standard, right?
Now, what I’m really concerned with here are the implications of claiming the Devil did it in order to avoid the double standard. What are they, is this all the Christian has to say in order to get away whenever the Salem Witch Trials are brought up?

I know that instead of the Salem case you use the Hindu Milk Miracle. And my concerns with this approach have to do with one requirement for the case, namely that the Hindu gods exist (or just Brahman anyway). Now as DiSilvestro (and W L Craig) argues, the Resurrection Hypothesis also requires that God exists. And by God he would have to mean Yahweh since any other god will make the hypothesis contrived. Now you can see there’s a difference between the two cases and the Christian might say that he believes Yahweh exists but not Brahman, and I think this avoids the double standard fallacy. Of course one might want to ask on what grounds does the Christian believe Yahweh exists, what evidence is there that would make Yahweh more probable than Brahman and if the evidence for Yahweh is stronger than that for Brahman is it enough to make the Resurrection Hypothesis more probable than the Hindu Milk Miracle? It seems to me that this complicates the matter since it’s no longer obvious that the Christian employs a double standard. More arguing and evaluation has to take place in order to see if the Christian is really guilty of this fallacy. So I guess the question is what are your thoughts on this?

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lukeprog May 4, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Taranu,

Not sure. Perhaps you could ask a specific question, in this case?

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Taranu May 5, 2010 at 1:32 am

Luke,
Well I guess there are two things I would like to hear your opinion on:
1) What objections do you think could be raised to a Christian whom claims the women at Salem really were witches?
2) Is the distinction between Yahweh and Brahman a way for the Christian to avoid employing a double standard if presented with the Hindu Miracle?

When I first read your post on how the Hindu Miracle can show the Christian uses a double standard I thought I found a quick refutation of the Resurrection Hypothesis. But the more I think about it the more I realize it’s more complicated than that. It seems that no matter what alleged supernatural case you consider to be better supported by evidence than the Resurrection, you should undergo several stages in order to make the point about the double standard.
For instance, in case of the Salem Witch Trials the non-Christian should, on one hand, show why it’s unlikely that the women were witches and, on the other, how is it that by using the same line of thinking the Christian does in concluding Jesus rose from the dead, one would also have to conclude that the Salem women were witches.
In case of the Hindu Milk Miracle a similar approach is to be taken but there is also the Yahweh – Brahman distinction that has to be dealt with. I hope you will look closely into this and let me know what you think. Until than I leave you with the two questions above. Cheers!

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lukeprog May 5, 2010 at 9:17 am

Taranu,

Okay, you’re in the queue.

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Taranu May 5, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Thank you Luke

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remix001 May 9, 2010 at 10:06 am

A question I have always had for Atheists of all varieties is when did any atheist past or present disprove deism? It seems to me, that there is a huge difference between Deism and Atheism even though some (e.g. Loftus in his book “Why I became an Atheist”) down plays this revolutionary shift/move.

Why aren’t you a deist or to phrase it more memorably: “You have given reasons as to why you dismiss all the other possible gods, but why do you dismiss the deist god?”

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remix001 May 9, 2010 at 10:16 am

Another question,

If an Atheist is defined as someone who lacks belief in the proposition that God exists (as to shoulder the burden of proof to deist or theist).

Can’t a Christian be defined as someone who lacks belief in the proposition that “Jesus is not God.”(as to shoulder the burden of proof to the Atheist or Deist).

Won’t discussion reach a deadlock until both parties put forth positive reasons for their belief?

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SupremeMuffin May 12, 2010 at 7:18 pm

I got a lot of these questions from reading your “Intro to logic: Changing your mind” post. They’re really vague, and I’m going post a few.

So:

What are the inherent flaws/evils in capitalism?

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SupremeMuffin May 12, 2010 at 7:19 pm

What are the flaws or shortcomings of democracy?

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SupremeMuffin May 12, 2010 at 7:20 pm

What kind of economic and political theories do you currently defend, and why?

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SupremeMuffin May 12, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Do you think there are significant differences in the way political parties operate, or is the difference merely on the surface?

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SupremeMuffin May 12, 2010 at 7:22 pm

What are the problems with libertarianism?

Do you like Chipotle?

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Clau July 27, 2010 at 7:15 am

Hi Luke,

May I ask a question for elucidation? What do you actually claim when you deny that there is such a thing as a ‘supernatural world’? Steering the direction of an answer a bit: in what way (conceptually speaking) is your denial of theism related to the denial (or belief?) that there may be such a thing as a spiritual something (whatever the ‘something’ may refer to; ‘world’ is possible not the best candidate..), a spiritual something that can exist without any appeal to God?

Best, Clau

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lukeprog July 27, 2010 at 7:40 am

Clau,

I deny that there are non-physical minds. That’s what I mean when I deny the supernatural.

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jojo jacob July 27, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Dear Luke,

What could be the possible objections to this stuff?

Whatever existed/exists has a cause/causes.
The universe began to exist.
The Universe has a case.

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Clau July 27, 2010 at 1:14 pm

thanks for yours Luke. I am completely with you on the denial of theism. Re that: I just cannot find a conclusive philosophical argument for the acceptance of theism. That fact together with the fact that I have a lot of intuitive sympathy with the idea of it being ‘the opium of the folk’ and my personal phenomenology and life experiences that point to a denying answer to the question whether God exist is sufficient for me to conclude that there exists no God. (though even here I’ve got some philosophical rational doubt, just out of an agreement with what Russell seems to have said ‘that we should always entertain some measure of doubt towards whatever philosophical issue’(may be a paraphrase or a quote, I need to look it up).

Having said that, I am much more on the side of suspending judgement when it comes to a conclusion about the existence or non-existence of non-physical minds. It sounds to me like intellectual arrogance to deny too quickly their existence. My goodness, I would say, how on earth can we, i.e. limited human beings with an academic hat on in the year 2010 draw such a big conclusion that there are just physical minds while there is an entire cultural and philosophical history that points in the direction of non-physical minds and while neuroscience has only started to discover something interesting. While I am very much in favour of some kind of physical relationship between mind and brain, at this moment in time given what neuroscience and evolutionary biology still need to explain (an awful lot!), given my own phenomenology, given the cultural and philosophical history of non-physical minds and given the fact that a good number of people seem to have ‘spiritual experiences’ (whatever that may mean), I would like to be rather careful here. But I am sure you can give me a convincing decisive argument in favour of there being just physical minds;-) (well, as an analytic philosopher I should perhaps start off by asking what you mean by ‘mind’?). This term can perfectly have a referrent like ‘faculty of thought/reasoning/decision and even ‘emotions/conations’and/or whatever else that fits with a reductive mind/brain view, but thereby you may simply beg the question against what an advocate of non-physical minds is rationally or intuitively so convinced of. (something ‘soul-ish’ or ‘ghost-ish/angel-ish’ or both or something else….)

Clau

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dlewisa July 27, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Here’s a question regarding William Lane Craig debating. As you, and most people that visit this site know, there are four major arguments for the existence of god: cosmological, teleological, ontological, and moral. Often in debates, whether with Craig or any other theist, it will come up that one of the arguments alone can’t prove anything, but taken with others it offers a higher probability of being correct.

My question is: wouldn’t it be wise for debaters to abandon all other arguments and go after Craig just on his cosmological argument? It’s really the only one that matters.

If that argument is false then the other arguments are naturally explained (other than the ontological argument—it would simply be dismissed . . . I can imagine the perfect bowel movement therefore it must exist right?).

I can understand why physicists don’t debate Craig, they’re much to busy actually finding out how the universe works to bother with him.

It just seems when he debates using the cosmological argument he relies on the big bang and saying that it was the beginning of time and throwing out some mind bending number that is supposed to represent the probability of humans existing. Throwing some heavy physics at him and dismissing his other arguments as frivolous if the cosmo argument is false would be a decent plan of attack. There are currently two cyclic models of the universe, the Steinhardt-Turok model and the Baum-Frampton, Craig Hogan’s holographic universe idea, there are dozens of things and all of them point to the huge gaps in knowledge that Craig tries to fill in with a god. It’d be interesting to see someone to attack him using time: what time is and what if time doesn’t exist (implications of the wheeler-dewitt equation and “Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity suggest not only that there is no single special present but also that all moments are equally real”—scientific american).

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lukeprog July 27, 2010 at 1:57 pm

jojo jacob,

See my series on the Kalam argument.

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lukeprog July 27, 2010 at 2:08 pm

dlewisa,

One of these days I’ll get around to posting the ‘opening statement’ I would give against Craig in a debate.

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Anonymous July 28, 2010 at 5:34 am

I have a question about Naturalism…

Recently, it has come to my attention that theists don’t take to kindly to naturalists. This is because we do not believe in ‘objective’ truth. They are concerned with the ontology of the situation.

Anyway, my question is how would you respond to a theist who is over-zealous about this sort of thing? I usually just agree that although there is nothing wrong with the act itself, that doesn’t imply that I believe there to be anything right about it. But I am curious in your response.

Thanks,
Anonymous

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lukeprog July 28, 2010 at 6:00 am

Since when do naturalists not believe in objective truth? Most naturalists are realists.

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Anonymous July 28, 2010 at 7:52 am

Could you recommend any material I can read about this sort of thing, Luke? I want to learn more about it.

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James July 28, 2010 at 8:50 am

Just found out about your website. Bravo!

I had an insight today that you might find useful: “Supernatural” refers to when people think that data and control systems (software) exist or are transmitted without physical media (hardware) which as far as we can see, never ever happens.

Looking forward to listening to all your old podcasts.

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jojo jacob July 28, 2010 at 11:55 am

Dear Luke,

I did go through your series on the Kalam argument. But I still I do not understand the possible objections to my “premises” and conclusion. May be I am missing something!

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lukeprog July 28, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Anonymous,

About what, now?

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lukeprog July 28, 2010 at 2:19 pm

jojo,

Yes, the series is not done yet. :)

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jojo jacob July 28, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Dear Luke,

I surmise that that is a sarcastic response. Craig claims that we all intuitively agree with his first premise. Does my first premise pass the so-called “intuition” test? I hail from India. May be I am missing something!

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Rhys Wilkins July 31, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Luke,

One of your favourite lines of reasoning when talking about God is to outline all the ways in which Goddidit is one of the worst explanations to use to explain almost anything. I agree 100% with this.

I think this heuristic can be used to kill most arguments for the existence of God, such as the fine tuning argument, the argument from miracles, the Leibnizian cosmological argument, the argument from consciousness and so forth.

However in your series on Sense and Goodness Without God you use it to attack the Kalam cosmological argument. Even though I do think that the Kalam argument keeled over and crumpled the day that Einstein published his 1905 paper on Special Relativity, I don’t think saying that God is a poor explanation for the origin of the universe can be level as a strong criticism against it. It seems to me to be deductive logic all the way.

The only IBEs that Craig appears to make in the argument are that:

1. Actual infinites don’t exist in reality.
2. The Big Bang model is the best explanation of the cosmological evidence.
3. Time is tensed. Temporal becoming is an objective reality

How does attacking the explanatory merits of Goddidit kill the Kalam? I can’t see a hidden IBE to God anywhere in the argument. I was wondering if you could explain this to me. Have I misunderstood you?

Cheers,

:)

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lukeprog July 31, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Rhys,

The most problemmatic IBE stuff in the KCA happens in defending premise 4.

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jojo jacob August 3, 2010 at 8:40 am

Dear Luke,

Is my question not worth answering?

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jojo jacob August 3, 2010 at 8:46 am

Infinity is not a “thing”. It is “thinglessness”

Craig says there was nothing before the Big Bang. That nothing should have been infinite. If it was finite, it means there was “something”

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lukeprog August 3, 2010 at 9:02 am

jojo,

I write a lot about the KCA. If your question isn’t answered yet, it probably will be eventually, in that series.

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jojo jacob August 4, 2010 at 1:23 am

Actual infinity does exist. You just have to “tweak” the Dichotomy paradox!!

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MIKE August 18, 2010 at 10:33 am

JUST WUNDERING WATHER YOU EVER RESEARCHED JUDAISM WHICH AS FAR AS I KNOW IS THE FOUNDING FATHER OF SOME OF THE MAINSTREAM RELIGIONS OF TODAY BEING A PRACTICING JEW I’M AWARE THAT THERE IS MUCH TO BE DISCUSSED ON THE TOPIC I WOULD LIKE TO HEAR WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY ON THE SUBJECT.

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lukeprog August 18, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Let it be known that I do not answer questions written in ALL-CAPS.

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MIKE August 18, 2010 at 2:59 pm

just wundering wether you ever researched judaism which as far as i know is the founding father of some of the mainstream religions of today being a praticing jew i’m aware that there is much to be discussed on the topic i would like to hear what you have to say about the topic.

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mike August 20, 2010 at 8:44 am

did you at any point in your life study Judaism a religion which
stresses on understanding why one believes what he believes with
thousands of years worth of study and text a religion which throughout
time has not stoped studying and searching for truth one would assume
there must be something this religion has to offer intellectually i
would really like to hear your respected opinion

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mojo.rhythm September 3, 2010 at 8:19 pm

Luke,

In your opinion, when is it okay to defer to the consensus of experts on important issues?

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lukeprog September 3, 2010 at 8:55 pm

mojo,

Thanks for your question, but alas, my answer is “I don’t know.”

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mojo.rhythm October 3, 2010 at 10:23 pm

One more,

Does verbosity annoy you? Apologists like Bill Craig and J.P. Holding tend to use excessive wordage to make themselves seem more credible (I always have a dictionary beside me when I’m reading any Craig article, I don’t usually have to do this when I’m reading material off the Secular Web). I used to be indifferent towards such behaviour, but the more I see it, the more vexing it becomes. Thoughts?

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Alex October 28, 2010 at 4:09 am

You’ve endorsed using the B-theory of time as a response to the Kalam Cosmological Argument, presumably because it implies the negation of premise 2. At the same time, you seem to endorse skeptical attitudes toward metaphysics (e.g. your comment on the van Fraassen interview you’ve posted). So, what is your objection to the following modified KCA, which is consistent with the B-theory? (All our inductive evidence that favors premise 1 of the KCA also favors (1′) just as much.)

(1′) Everything that is finitely extended in the “earlier than” direction has a cause.
(2′) The universe is finitely extended in the “earlier than” direction.
(3) The universe has a cause.

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Laura Kambanis September 9, 2011 at 7:14 am

Hey luke!

1) is it adequate to explain the OT God as fair according to the context at the time. For example Bill Craig says in reasonablefaith.org that God is holy so he may command us not to murder but since he is the law giver, it must be right for him to take away life, because it is not our possession since we belong to God. And when the israelites attacked the Canaanites and conducted genocide, it was God’s command, it would have been wrong had it not been commanded. Also many people justify the old testament saying we have to view it in light of jesus- who brings salvation and therefore the old law was imperfect- (it even says God allowed divorce as a lesser evil, but it was given as a concession, as ir wasn’t meant this way from the start). Some claim that the law was simply to point out how bad we are, and it couldnt save anyone.

2) MORALITY, i think atheistic morality is based on lose morals, as according to relativists and most atheists, if you are not hurting anyone then something cant be wrong. The thing is, this is a slippery slope since it would allow for necrophilia (sorry to use the example) if the person gave permission before their death, and also a slightly weaker argument, but many would agree, even if incest didnt lead to a child, then its morally acceptable as is homosexuality (for other reasons). Although im undecided about homosexuality, i was listneing to a youtube video from desiringgod.org who said it is a pervesion of sexuality, and in this sense i agree, its a digression from the way sex is meant to be.

3) what are we meant to think of all the miracles in christianity. Although i believe many are false, how can people write whole books about the healings of those who have trusted Jesus and been healed instantly. I agree its impossible to really ‘prove a miracle’ but even when you were a christian did you not experience words of prophecy that 2 people gave to the smae person without even realising, or moments that were too coincidental? Christians arent stupid and the reason many come ot believe is because of instances like these.

(p.s im not strictly a Christian as i think agnosticism has a stronger case in teh sense that Christianity appears man made, but any reply to these questions would be great! thanks for your time)

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