Settled Matters?

NonStampCollector sums up what he takes to be the points which have been thoroughly resolved and should be non-issues in all debates between atheists and Christians going forward:

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Controversially, you will note, he takes mostly atheist points to have been vindicated beyond the point of reasonable disagreement. Is he right? Does he wave away any legitimate objections? Are his brief statements of his reasons for rejecting some of them insufficient for you to see how a sound and compelling larger argument which developed them could be made and change your mind?

Your Thoughts?

Your Thoughts?

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • Andrew

    1) It sounds like he’s talking about a lot more than Christian theology, though. He mentions ethics, for example.

    2) “You’re not allowed to assert that human morality cannot be explained by evolution because… it is.”

    Not ALL human morality is explained by evolution. And not all Christian theories of morality come from some fundamentalist formation apart from science. Jean Porter at Notre Dame, for one, notes the history of Natural Law theory and the tradition of science in the Church, which was not seen as opposing religion (until Galileo and the Enlightenment, etc). Now that doesn’t mean that many Churches in the West didn’t see a fundamental problem after historical criticism of the Bible and the rise of social sciences that inform the understanding of the Bible, and that scientific inquiry is not a profound challenge to the certainty related to the Bible, for example, but evolution does not explain moral behavior on its own merits alone by any means. Part of the dichotomy between nature (that which exists that is not of human origin) and culture (that which exists that is – to give two simplistic definitions) is that humans add to our understanding of natural processes and rise above them with training and reinforcement. This allows for thought and processing of information outside of the purely biological. Science, then, is not the only game in town. Art, for example, which stokes the emotions, has a huge impact on our understanding and formation of human behaviour.

    3) “Constant unbiased…” that is an incredibly rose-colored understanding of science. And for the record, some theologians do address the issue of new ideas and understandings of morality and knowledge. Because the atheist in this clip depicts all religious people this way only shows that he has adopted the religious self-representation of some (ok, many) “conservative” Christians as applying to all.

    4) Atheism is not a religion if is a constant questioning of the existence of God. But that does not mean that the assertion that there is no God or Being outside of being or whatever, is not technically also a leap of faith. Also, closely related, is a common argument (Paul Tillich) is that those who do not believe in God come to replace the place of God in their life with something else, like the Self, or the Nation, or their family perhaps, or even their craft. So just because someone is an atheist does not mean that they do not necessarily orient their life around something else in an ultimate, similar manner. Even if that thing is practical and beneficial to that person and the world, it does not deny the existence of God. (Bit of straw man argument there, but wanted to add).

    5) I certainly would not accept a link between atheism and genocide or non-religiosity, if he wouldn’t claim that all war and conflict in history is based on religious belief. If there is no God, then religion is a projection of one’s own psychological issues and needs, so religion may provide an apology or an excuse for the heinous historical behaviour he mentions, but the root of it is not in God, it comes from somewhere else. Misogyny, homophobia, racism… all of these things predate Western religion even if western religion promulgated them forcefully (although chinese culture also promulgates them heavily and their is little Western influence in that society). Can religion really be false and still be a legitimate cause of atrocities and fallacious thought? Isn’t that a bit circular?

    I would say that his arguments contain a bit of ignorance and misrepresentation and fallacy as well.

    6) With the 10 commandments, actually, he could have gone further. Although what is civilized or not is something with which an anthropologist might take issue.

  • Hitch

    When I saw it for me it was a piece of the frustration of constantly having to reargue the same old things over again.

    He takes extreme examples and exaggerations, but that’s how humor works. There is some truth in most of them though.