Monday, 9 March 2009

Theism and Atheism

Response to Webfogey:
Far too many strawmen for me to really consider you a 'lover of wisdom'; I hope you're not teaching your students such bad habits?

The image in the minds of people who make such remarks appears to be of a universe in which there are areas of darkness that are progressively being illuminated by the searchlight of science; and soon all these areas of darkness will be brilliantly lit; so God will disappear.

No, not necessarily - the sceptic doesn't know how much of the darkness will be illuminated - do you? And would you deny that full illumination is a possibility?

‘In principle’ unknowability is not simply a matter of gaps in our knowledge...

This paragraph may all be true; doesn't help with your god hypothesis, of course. I could equally say, how do you *know* these things will remain unknowable when *you* are positing the existence of the unknowable? Not too helpful for anyone's ontology, is it?

For the religious, by contrast, the notion that some aspects of the universe are unknown and unknowable is quite in order.

This is the funny one, and to an extent I agree that *some* apologists adopt this position. What is odd is that they don't *act* as if they acknowledge these unknown aspects. They are *not* humble about what is not known; they pronounce how the universe is, and, what's more, *why* it is! Incredible, isn’t it?

The non-religious, by contrast, are determined to understand everything by means of their own efforts and to eliminate all areas of unknowability from their consciousness, precisely by the use of these methods [of science]

Interestingly you say the ‘non-religious’ do this, but what about the ‘religious’? What methods do *they* use when they want to understand phenomena and exploit them, and predict effects? What’s that? The *scientific* method, do you say? Not a holy book? Really? Who’d have thought it?

The atheists, by contrast, flatly deny that their life can in any way continue after the dissolution of the body. They deny it because there is no empirical evidence for it, even though they understand that there could not be such evidence.

Woah! Remember, you teach the love of wisdom, steady with those strawmen. As you (almost) say, the sceptic just hasn’t seen any good evidence for it, that’s all. You *must* know there is an area between flatly denying the existence of something and agreeing the existence of something, surely? Otherwise there are an infinite number of non-existent things that you must be agreeing to the existence of; how do the *religious* treat the existence of things with no empirical evidence? Like Zeus, say? What’s that? They don’t think he exists? Pourquoi pas?

They deny that there is any higher form of life than the human, though they have no reason to deny this except to say again that there is no empirical evidence for its existence.

See above.

Far from being known in a scientific sense and controlled in an egotistical way, the areas of unknowability are the areas of divine counsels and it is from them that ‘salvation’ comes, i.e. the ability to progress to higher levels of existence.

But you don’t *know* that, by your own admission, so stop making things up. Is it too much to ask theists to stop making things up?

The atheists by contrast have to concede that the religious could after all be right, since the existence of God is only made impossible by the methods of enquiry used by science – methods called ‘naturalistic...

This is not true in two senses; firstly a ‘god’ could be defined in a way that makes it susceptible to scientific enquiry, so first, define your god; secondly, theists make claims that are empirical, and could be empirically tested, so these *are* susceptible to ‘naturalistic’ enquiry, even if an incoherent, supernatural god is posited.

Who is right on this subject is impossible to prove; but the percentage of people who feel at home in the universe, created and supported by it, as compared to the percentage of people who feel supported by their rational ego alone, is a crucial ratio.

Your final paragraph just seems to be another appeal to requiring that the universe conforms to how we want it to be rather than how it actually may be. A pointless observation.


Post a Comment