Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Answers to “10 Questions For Every Atheist”

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Mon Apr 18, 2016 10:44 am by he_who_is_nobody

It appears that the website Today Christian has come up with a list of questions that “Atheist Cannot Truly and Honestly REALLY ANSWER!” One reason an atheist might find it hard to answer these questions is because there is not a comment section. Beyond that, these are fairly easy to answer.

1. How Did You Become an Atheist?

This has to do with two things that happened around the same time in my life. When I was in 7th and 8th grade, I became very interested in skepticism. I started to question everything I had believed before and started realizing that there was no evidence for much of what I believed (at this time I was a believer of Bigfoot, Atlantis, Aliens, etc…). At that same time I met someone, a classmate, who identified as an atheist. Until then, I actually never knew that was an option, I thought everyone in the world believed that a god(s) existed. After that, I applied my skeptical toolkit to the idea of a god and realised that it, like much of the other things I believed in, had no evidence to support it.

2. What happens when we die?

Personally, I am donating my body to science. I want my bones to be used by future anatomists to learn the wonders of the human skeleton. However, I feel this question has more philosophical connotations about an afterlife. When I was in high school, one of my friends use to always answer this question with, “Do you remember what life was like before you were born? Why do you think it will be different after you die?” I feel that is a good enough answer until one is able to provide evidence that there is an afterlife.

3. What if you’re wrong? And there is a Heaven? And there is a HELL!

I just want to point out that by asking three questions here, our author is actually asking more than ten questions.

Well, if I go to hell, I hope I burn well.

All jokes aside, there is no reason to think that such a thing as heaven or hell exists in the first place. Beyond that, this question presupposes that the author’s version of heaven and hell are the only options to me being wrong, which is not the case. There is nothing to suggest that the Christian heaven and hell is correct. A Christian’s idea of an afterlife is just as likely to be correct as any other religion’s ideas of an afterlife. There is no reason to believe this is a dichotomy. Who knows, perhaps there is an afterlife, but it is only enjoyed by those that were truly curious enough to ask questions. The fear of hell or the reward of heaven is not a good reason to believe in something.

4. Without God, where do you get your morality from?

I get my morals from the same place the author of these questions does; Society. There is nothing to suggest that morals are anything more than our shared agreement of how we should act. The good thing about this is that our moral arc has been bending to a far more just and fair society for everyone in the past few decades. One can only hope that trend continues.

5. If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded?

This question makes no sense, seeing as how the author already believes there is a god, yet rape and murder happen all the time. The question is better turned around on the author and asked, “If there is a (loving and just) god, why is there rape and murder?”

However, to answer the question, philosophically, yes. We can do whatever we want (including rape and murder). Yet, since we live in societies, and societies shape our morals and have laws, technically, we cannot do whatever we want. There are real world consequences for our actions.

Beyond that, good deeds should be their own reward. This seems to go back to question three and the authors carrot/stick beliefs about an afterlife.

6. If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning?

I make my own meaning in life. Even if there was a god(s), this would still be true.

7. Where did the universe come from?

I honestly do not know that. From my limited understanding of cosmology; the energy that makes up our universe is eternal. However, at some point in the past that energy started the universe as we know it now. The thing is, just because I do not know the answer to this question, does not mean I will pretend to have an answer. That is what theists do when they say GodDidIt to questions like this.

8. What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels?

Again, without evidence, miracles are just claims. People today claim to have connections with aliens and see them all the time. There is just as much evidence (that is to say zero) to back their stories as there is for the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus or say they saw him or angels. Claims made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

9. What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?

I actually know very little about Harris. He seems to have a weird “No True Muslim” argument. Beyond that, I am actually not familiar with his work at all.

Dawkins is a wonderful biologist and communicator of evolutionary theory. If someone asked me for one book about evolution, I would say The Blind Watchmaker. However, I have read The God Delusion and have to say I was unimpressed. I read both of those books well after I had a great understanding of evolution and was an atheist, thus he did not influence me much in either of those aspects.

Hitchens is in my top ten favorite persons list. Out of the Four Horsemen, I found him the most entertaining and he was probably the only one that influenced me as a young atheist, since I would watch clips of him after I became an atheist in 8th grade. I still often go back and watch clips or whole debates of Hitchens. I read God is not Great well after I was an atheist, but I think it is good and does a much better job than The God Delusion at making a case for atheism.

However, I just want to point out that I was far more influenced by skeptics and scientists on this issue, than any atheistic writers. My influences trace back far more to Randi, Shermer, Bakker, Tyson, and the Leaky clan.

10. If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?

Religion is not synonymous with belief in a god(s). Gods (and other supernatural entities) were created to answer questions to things that people did not know. Religions were a way to worship those things and try to gain their favor by doing rituals in the hopes it would please them. Religions were also part of the government and culture of most societies. That means in many cases, if you were not apart of that religion, you were kicked out of that society or killed. It is actually a fairly recent thing to separate religion from government. One can be religious and not believe in deities. One can also believe in deities and not have a religion. That is why people can say things like, “I am spiritual, but not religious” or “I am culturally Catholic/Jewish.” Beyond that, not all religions are the same, nor are the gods they worship. Thus, what was the point of this question?

Hat tip to Heina Dadabhoy for showing me these questions first.

Living in the Age of Mystery

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:37 pm by he_who_is_nobody

Last year, I was listening to a YouTube Hangout wherein one of the participants was lamenting the fact that science has taken away many of the mysteries in the universe. I could not disagree with that person more. We are lucky enough to be living in the Age of Mystery, from a scientific perspective.

 

The scientific method has given us answers to several questions that our ancestors pondered, however, it has also opened up whole new worlds to discover. For one example of what I am talking about, we once wondered what caused sickness. Our ancestors came up with several guesses that, for the most part, turned out to be wrong. However, the discovery of microorganisms not only led us to the correct answer about where sickness comes from, but also a whole new world of microorganisms that our ancestors could not dream existed. Since that discovery, we have never stopped exploring it and make new discoveries in that field almost daily.

 

Our knowledge gained through scientific investigation, has led to more and better questions about the universe than anything before. Our knowledge has exposed us to our vast ignorance of the universe. We now know the earth is 4.5 billion years old and the universe is ~14 billion years old. The numbers alone are almost inconceivable to our minds. Can you imagine all the mysteries things that we may never know about that happened in those lengths of time? The fossil record only gives us a fraction of what lived on earth, plus it becomes less and less reliable the farther back one goes. We may never have a complete picture of the life history of our own planet.

 

The matter that we see and interact with on a daily bases makes up ~5% of the stuff in our universe. ~95% of our universe is made out of two things (dark matter and dark energy) that we can detect, but cannot see. This amazing aspect of our universe is something that our ancestors could not have imagined to be real, and we were not aware of it until the middle and latter half of the 20th century.

 

14 billion years of history and 95% of the universe being barely detectable. If anything, that means science has led us to the real age of mystery. We have mapped out most of our world, we have seen  many of the celestial bodies in our solar system. However, to think that because of science, there is less mystery in the world is daft. If anything, we are at the most mysterious time in our history. We are able to know just how ignorant we are of the universe, and that is an amazing thing. For every mystery science solves, it appears to open up two new ones, and I would not want it any other way.

The Fine-Tuning Argument: The Worst Argument for Theism

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Tue Feb 23, 2016 11:35 am by he_who_is_nobody

Theistic Apologists deploy several arguments to try to establish that a god(s) is necessary. In my humble opinion, the worst of all these arguments is the Fine-Tuning Argument. The Fine-Tuning Argument is essentially saying that the parameters of the universe as we know it are placed in such a way to allow life as we know it to exist. However, there are three fundamental flaws that make this easily the worst argument a theist could use to justify their deity(s).

 

First, when employing this argument, the theist is making the underlying assumption that the fine-tuning we see in the universe is the only possible way the universe could exist that would permit life. No justification for this is ever given, beyond the fact that if the fine-tuning were different, then things would be different; an example of a counterfactual conditional. Simply because things would be different does not mean that life or a universe could not exist. They may not be as we see them today, but that alone does not mean that the possibility for life and a universe are dependent on the fine-tuning of the universe as we know it. This is an unjustified claim built into the argument that should be challenged. Beyond that, the theist also has not shown that the fine-tuning of our universe could be anything different. It could just as easily be that all possible universes have the same fine-tuning.

 

Second, this argument does not take into account evolution. Built into this argument is the assumption that we (either humans or all life on this planet) perfectly fit. The Earth is just the right distance from the Sun, the Moon is just large enough to keep our axis stable, Jupiter is just large enough and far enough away to keep us safe from space junk, etc… However, what the theist usually fails to account for in this picture is the 14 billion years of history the universe has gone through, 4.543 billion years of our planet’s own history, and  ~4 billion years of life history on this planet. Most of the life history we see is shaped by selection and a lot of dumb luck thrown in for good measure. Essentially, it is asinine to say this planet/universe is fine-tuned for us. If anything, we are finely-tuned by the environment.

 

Third and by far the largest problem for this argument. As of the writing of this post, we currently know of one planet in our solar system that supports life. That life is supported mainly on its surface, and (except for Tardigrades), species can only survive in certain environments. There are seven other planets in our solar system (plus a few hundred moons) that do not support life (as far as we know now). There are a few possible other places in our solar system that might have life (i.e. Mars and a few moons around Jupiter or Saturn). Thus, out of several celestial bodies in our solar system, there are less than ten of them that could support life. Besides this, there is empty space between those celestial bodies wherein life cannot exist. Basically, whenever a theist tries to use the Fine-Tuning Argument, they are essentially saying; “Look at this earth size planet. It has one microorganism on it. Thus, the planet must be finely-tuned for the microorganism.” Any engineer would look at that system and conclude that it was poorly tuned if its purpose was for sustaining that microorganism. If this universe was fine-tuned for anything, it was fine-tuned for creating black holes and not life.

 

One objection to these objections could be if the theist is willing to admit their deity(s) is not omnipotent. Most apologists in the West would not dream of giving up that aspect of their deity. However, why would an omnipotent being need to fine-tune a system in the first place? Would it not be powerful enough to create a flawless system? In addition, if it were not powerful enough to create a flawless system, how could we say it is a god?

 

Another objection that Abrahamic Apologists could try is “The Fall” caused this. One problem I would have with this objection is that it could account for the planet earth, but why all the other celestial bodies and the rest of the universe? Why create such a universe that would be affected by two hairless apes on a rock orbiting a nondescript star?

 

There appears to be nothing redeemable about this argument. In fact, this argument could be far better used to show that there is not a single omniscient and omnipotent deity that cares about life (let alone humans) for the simple fact that this universe is not finely-tuned for us. Given just one of those two attributes (omniscient or omnipotent), a human fine-tuner could produce a universe far more hospitable for life.

Notes on the Problem of Evil

Laurens
Laurens
Sun Jan 10, 2016 2:49 pm by Laurens

For the purposes of this post I shall define God as an omnipotent, omniscient creator being with a vested interest in mankind and the individual welfare of human beings. This definition includes, but is not limited to the Judeo-Christian God.

Why is it important that I begin by pointing out these characteristics of God? Because a God with these characteristics necessitates the problem of evil. An omnipotent being can do anything to stop evil, an omniscient being knows the details of all the evil that is happening at all times, and how to stop it, and a being with a vested interest in mankind and the individual welfare of human beings should be stopping evil. The attribute of creator is also important because God created conditions in which evil can exist in the first place.

These divine characteristics are not uncommonly attributed to God. In fact I’d posit that the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam necessarily has these characteristics. The problem of evil asks; given these attributes why isn’t God doing anything to stop evil?

The standard theistic response to this is called the free-will defence. This states that moral evils are caused by the actions of free agents—a trait that God gave to us thus meaning we are responsible for our action rather than him. If we grant this, I shall argue that it does not do much to get around the problem of evil. So for the time being I shall grant that the evils committed by moral agents are not in God’s control because he gave us the free will to decide whether to be good or bad.

Lets look first at what makes someone a moral agent. I put forth that it requires at least two things; understanding of the potential harm or benefit of one’s action or inaction, and then acting (or not acting) deliberately, having considered these things. What we consider morally good actions are those in which the actor has considered the harm and benefit of their actions and deliberately acted in a way that is beneficial. Morally evil actions would be the same but with the actor deliberately deciding to act in a harmful way.

Where we arrive at a separate facet of the problem of evil is when we apply this criteria of moral agency to God. The act of creation by an omniscient being is a moral action because he already knew all of the potential harm caused by his creating the universe. Being omnipotent allows us to contend that God could have created a universe with no suffering, but chose not to, so we cannot posit that God had no choice but to create a world with suffering. Everything that happens in this universe could either have been prevented from the start, or stopped from occurring (excluding for the sake of this argument the free actions of human beings). This means that God decided to create a universe in which earthquakes, drought, disease, viruses, parasites, cancer, and so on can occur, and then failed to prevent them from occurring. This is the heart of the problem of evil. It’s not necessarily about human evil, it’s about a God who allows his creation to harm and inflict suffering on innocent people, and doesn’t do anything to stop it—in fact he created the universe in such a way that it happens regularly. The atheist has a difficult time making this fit with the idea of a loving God that has an interest in the individual welfare of human beings. It seems to be yet another problem that occurs from the application of inherently contradictory attributes to a being.

These kind of issues are often dealt with by positing that these horrible sufferings occur with some greater purpose in mind. The problem still stands though. God can do anything. Therefore he can arrive at any outcome without suffering. So he still has no morally acceptable reason to allow these things to happen. It is also worth pointing out that God having a plan with a predetermined outcome is in contradiction with the idea of us having free will. Free will entails that all our actions are entirely our own, that they are not presided over by someone tweaking things and manipulating history towards a particular end. If we have free will then God’s plan could fail. But why would God put the universe in such weird jeopardy? At this point it is worth stepping back and realising what we are positing here. A being who created us and gave us free will is engaged in trying to steer history towards his desired outcome in spite of the fact that he could have just had his desired outcome from the start, and he certainly could achieve it without any suffering. It turns our universe into a strange battleground between our free will and God’s ultimate plan. A battle in which suffering and pain—though preventable—are inevitable. Why would God create this scenario? Even if we don’t have free will and everything happens according to his plan, why is God playing weird vanity games with sentient life? It’s all rather unnecessary and it creates a sinister picture of God—which is a problem when you claim that he is unconditionally loving of all beings.

This is the problem of evil. If God exists—no matter how you look at it—the existence of pain and suffering in the world is preventable. The only reason it can persist is if God is not loving, or if God is impotent. This conclusion is true regardless of whether or not we include human free will. In my opinion this is the strongest argument against the Judeo-Christian God. If anybody thinks that I have made any mistakes in my case, has any criticism, or wishes to rebut anything I’ve said feel free to post in the comment thread.

 

Non-violent communication

Aught3
Aught3
Sun Feb 09, 2014 12:43 am by Aught3

Non-violent communication (NVC) is based on the acknowledgement that there are some people who like committing violence while there are others who enjoy contributing to well being through compassionate giving. Many of the structures in our societies contribute to the violent aspect by educating people to be obedient and submissive to authority. In the same way that our culture foists a life philosophy of enlightened hedonism onto us, it also sets us up in domination structures where superiors are expected to tell others what’s best for them and inferiors are simply supposed to obey. The goal of NVC is liberation from decades of cultural education steeped in domination structures and replace it with compassionate systems of communication, thinking, and influencing.

Part of the education problem is the widespread use of a “static” language that focuses on what people are rather than how they are feeling. They, their behaviour, or their appearance are constantly judged as good or bad, right or wrong, normal or abnormal. Our approach of retributive justice also plays a role. When someone is judged as “bad” by the authorities we come to believe they now deserve to receive punishment. All that it takes to make violence enjoyable is to believe there are bad people and they need to be punished. This approach to justice goes to the heart of violence on the planet. Finally, there is danger in a language that denies choice. Words like “ought”, “must”, and “have to” are commonplace but they deny individual responsibility and lead us to be slaves of authority. We may not like all the things we do but it is important to recognise that we don’t so anything that we don’t choose to. NVC is a system primary of communication but also of thinking and influence which helps us to overcome the domination structures which lead to excess violence.

If the alternative to domination and violence is compassion and giving then the question NVC answers is “what skills are needed to live compassionately?” It is about how we ensure that what ever we do is done willingly and comes solely out of the joy that comes from giving. In order to do this, NVC puts the focus back on human needs. If human needs are unfulfilled we take action. Once the needs are fulfilled we can celebrate. The basis of this process is to figure out “what is alive in us” and “what would make life more wonderful” How to go about communicating the answers to these questions to others is the process of NVC. 

 

The Process
1. Observe without judgement
The process of NVC begins with clear observations that are delivered without judgement. Clear observations tell other people whether or not they are fulfilling our needs. However, judgement and evaluation, especially when it is received as negative, often provokes defensiveness and shuts down the possibility of listening in the other person. Observations, on the other hand, are objective and can be agreed upon by both parties without the presence of guilt or blame. Blame and criticism make it difficult for others to enjoy contributing to our well-being which is the whole point of NVC. If done successfully, this initial agreement over the facts of the situation is a great way to begin a productive conversation.

2. Feel and empathise
Both positive and negative feelings are a manifestation of fulfilled (positive) or unfulfilled (negative) needs. NVC is all about putting people in touch with feelings, either their own or others. After making observations, the next step is to attach a feeling to those facts. Again it’s important to stick to only naming feeling in this step and not move into judgement or evaluation. Saying “I feel disappointed” is the right type of response. Saying “I feel you aren’t trying to the best of your ability” is making a judgement while masking it with the language of ‘feeling’.  In this stage empathy is very important. You may need to check with the other person that they really heard and understood your feeling and are empathising correctly.

3. Communicate the need
Needs have a specific meaning in NVC. They are broad categories of shared desires present in all people. Some examples of these types of needs are respect, self-determination, companionship, etc. The idea here is to link the need with a feeling from the previous stage, again no judgement should be taking place. “I’m feeling scared because my need for safety isn’t being met” or “I’m disappointed that my need for honesty isn’t being met” are good instances of this. The need should be communicated in a clear and open way to reduce the chance that it is misinterpreted. Again, checking that the other person heard you by having them repeat back your need is a useful way to confirm communication is taking place correctly.

4. Make a request
The last step is to make a request of the other person that would help you to get your need met. Because this is a request and not a demand we have to be open to the other person proposing a less-than-ideal alternative or even saying “no”. If the other person hears a demand, it makes it difficult for them to enjoy contributing to us, and they may comply out of shame and guilt. This is not the way we want other people to help us! This is why, in NVC, we only request and never demand. Requests made between two freely-acting individuals in order to fulfill each other’s needs is the entire goal of NVC. If the other person doesn’t agree to your request, that’s okay! You can use NVC to find out what feeling or need is holding them back and propose an alternative that gets both your needs met or you can simply accept their choice not to fulfill your need today. In NVC, each person is responsible for finding ways to get their own needs fulfilled and not responsible for trying to fulfill the needs of others.

 

Although it has been around for decades, NVC is a system of communication that I came across only recently. I think the idea is pretty powerful and putting it into practice, although difficult, has been extremely rewarding for me so far. It’s hard to believe I wasn’t introduced to NVC sooner and I hope introducing it to you will improve your relationships with those around you and make your own life better too. I think NVC is especially useful for people in imbalanced power dynamics (e.g., teachers, parents, and managers should definitely pay attention) but it is still a great system for use in any type of relationship.

Philosophy for life

Aught3
Aught3
Fri Jan 10, 2014 11:56 am by Aught3

In his book modernising the ancient Greek philosophy of Stoicism (A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy), William Irvine proposes two criteria for a coherent philosophy of life. The first is to have an ultimate goal in living. Of the things that can be pursued in life, the ultimate goal is the one you find most valuable. It is a grand goal that sits at the top of a hierarchy and is something you would be unwilling to sacrifice in the pursuit of other ends. Without an ultimate goal, a philosophy of life is incoherent.

According to Irvine, the second component in a coherent philosophy of life is a strategy for achieving your ultimate goal. The strategy tells you how to go about your daily routine in a way that enhances your ability to achieve the thing in life that you define as the most valuable. Without an effective strategy you will likely fail to achieve your grand goal and so a coherent philosophy of life needs both an ultimate goal and the means to achieve it.

Everybody has a philosophy of life, it’s just that most people don’t think about it. For such an important topic, philosophy of life isn’t discussed at school, universities don’t offer courses, and treatment of these topics in popular culture is next to zero. Without proper consideration of this issue, the life philosophy foisted upon most people is enlightened hedonism. The ultimate goal in hedonism is pleasure and the ‘enlightened’ part refers to the strategy. An enlightened hedonist takes time to consider which pleasures they will pursue, at what time they would like to enjoy those pleasures, and the best method for obtaining them. Another thoughtless source of a semi-coherent life philosophy is an inherited religion. In a typical religion the goal is to obtain a good second life and the rules and precepts lay down the way to achieve that goal. Since everybody has a life philosophy the only difference between people is whether they have thought about their ultimate life goal or have just accepted it.

The biggest danger with having the wrong life philosophy is the chance that you will mislive. Despite all the things you did at the end of your life you will look back only to realise you did not live it the way you wanted to. Either you chased the wrong goal or, if you had the correct goal identified, you were unable to live up to it. As Irvine puts it “Instead of spending your life pursuing something genuinely valuable, you squandered it because you allowed yourself to be distracted by the various baubles life has to offer.” An enlightened hedonist may realise the pursued pleasures did not really bring what was most desired and the religionist may come to the understanding that their strategy will not bring eternal life after all. Without a suitable philosophy of life you will waste the one and only life you know you are going to get.

Some alternative answers to the philosophy of life question are: virtue, tranquility, happiness, connection, service, exploration, and usefulness. My suggestion to you is to find your own answer to the question “what do I want out of life?” Ultimately, your grand goal in living is the most important thing for you to discover. Understanding it will change your life – for the better.

The focusing illusion

Aught3
Aught3
Sat Apr 20, 2013 8:21 pm by Aught3

If you asked a large group of students the following questions: (1) “How happy are you with your life in general?” and (2) “How many dates did you have last month?” What do you think the correlation would be? In other words, what impact does the number of dates a student experiences on their happiness? When the study is done, the correlation is statistically insignificant (-0.012) indicating that dates have no impact on a happy student life. Now consider the following two questions: (1) “How many dates did you have last month?” and (2) “How happy are you with your life in general?” Now how will the number of dates correlate with life happiness? Quite well (0.66). This reversal in correlation upon reversing the question order is called the focusing illusion.

In the first set of questions the students had to consider their life in general first. All aspects, positive and negative, had to be added up and averaged out. Dating made up only a tiny fraction of their lifetime experiences and was judged unimportant by the students. In the second set of questions their focus was first drawn to the aspect of their lives devoted to dating, trying to recall the dates they went on over the last month. When asked how happy they were in general, dating was occupying a large amount of their cognitive attention and was a big component of their overall happiness judgment. Similar effects have been observed when asking about marriage, health, income, and location of residence.

If you are entering into a negotiation with someone the focusing illusion can be used to your advantage. By being the first to make your position known, you anchor the likely outcome nearer to your target. In a salary negotiation, for example, when you have in mind a specific amount for a raise – making sure that number comes out early will constrain the range over which the negotiation can roam. Another use, when selling a house, is to set the price as a non-round number. This tactic will limit the negotiation to the lower units making it more likely you will get the price you want. Setting your price at $799,800 will encourage a smaller range of buy offers than setting the price at $800,000. This is because buyers will focus at the $100 unit rather than the $100,000 unit when making counter offers. Priming the people you are dealing with the answer you want makes it more likely you will be pleased with the outcome.

However, there is a darker side to this cognitive bias. Advertisers make use of the focusing illusion and cause us to overestimate the positive impact their products will have on our lives. They show us people making creative use of their items and invite us to image how we would use them ourselves. By focusing our attention on the product we come to believe that it will markedly improve our relationships, happiness, or efficiency when it reality most products will only have a very small impact on our lives. Politicians also love to use the focusing illusion to narrow the window of debate. Rather than conduct a full discussion of the issue and the merits of various alternative solutions, politicians like to forcefully state their solution and then claim there is no other option. The political debate is shifted to the relative merits of the proposed solution only and any alternatives put forward are ridiculed as too radical and unlikely to have the perceived impact that the proposed policy will.

Avoiding the focusing illusion seems to be impossible. In the same way it is impossible not to think of an elephant, once the influencing factor has entered our consciousness it will immediately colour our future perceptions and decisions. If time allows, try to make the decision at a later date when the focusing factor has receded in importance. Another tactic is to shift your focus to concentrate on what isn’t there. If you think about the information that has been left out you may give your conscious mind a more accurate conception of the problem at hand. If an advertiser or politician claims a particular benefit for a product or policy try to think of the things they are not claiming. If their policy will create more jobs why are they not talking about its impact on government revenue? If an advertiser is touting their product is high in vitamins, ask yourself what they might be leaving out about its sugar content. Training in formal argumentation helps but remember that nothing can break the focusing illusion once it is in place. Be on your guard.

Critique Of Alvin Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism

Dean
Dean
Sun Nov 27, 2011 10:45 am by Dean

On the Internet, I have encountered a prominent Philosopher of Religion called Alvin Plantinga who was once described by Time Magazine as a America’s leading orthodoxist Protestant Philosopher of God. He has made many anti-naturalistic arguments and theistic arguments in the past, has engaged in Public Discourse with atheists, rather like William Lane Craig. And also, William Lane Craig seems to be a fan of Plantinga’s misguided “Reformed Epistemology”. But that’s another story altogether. In our particular case, I intend to refute the various fallacious absurdities of Alvin Plantinga’s “Evolutionary Argument Against [Metaphysical] Naturalism”. Or rather more specifically, I will be critiquing all six parts together of a six-part series of lectures on YouTube. It is a talk by Plantinga entitled “An Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism”. —see here. I may not be able to address every point as meticulously as I would like to, but I will give it a fair shot. Of course, it is doubtful that he has not simply ignored these criticisms if they have already been made in the past. Oh well… also, for expediency, here is an overview of Plantinga from Wikipedia. You will notice that like William Lane Craig, he is a Christian apologist, and has authored such books as God and Other Minds, and has even written a book entirely dedicated to the argument he presents in this 60 minute lecture. :)

(more…)

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