20 Christian Academics Speaking About God

So many religious believers I encounter want to cite the existence of smart religious people as proof enough that their beliefs are rational. Below is a video just demonstrating how unintelligible, contradictory, or explicitly anti-reason many otherwise brilliant and highly credentialed scholars sound when they start actually explaining the religious beliefs that laypeople want to rely on their intelligence to vouch for as rational. It’s a brilliant idea:

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One religious believer, with a PhD himself and an exceptional scholarly record in his field, once tried to pull this fallacious trick on me by pointing out that Thomas Aquinas was a greater philosopher than I am (and admittedly, he definitely is) as a way to just wave away an argument I made to him that Aquinas was wrong but which he himself could not refute. So, you know, since Aquinas was really smart, everyone who has reinvestigated the questions he considered and come up with different answers than the ones he did for 700 years is just wrong. (And, of course, this ignores the existence of philosophers smarter than Aquinas.)

Thanks to Jefferson for the link.

Your Thoughts?

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.

  • Roger Williams

    Ravi Zacharias speaks with as little logic as any new-age promoter. I listened to his radio program several times, until I realized my brain would go into an altered state when he begins speaking!!!

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Camels With Hammers

      Shortly after leaving Christianity a friend asked me my philosophical opinion on a Ravi Zacharias book and reading it made me apoplectic. The furious review I wrote on Amazon was probably my first internet tirade against Christianity or its apologists.

    • Daniel Schealler

      So what was the title?

    • Mike aka MonolithTMA
  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    If you equivocate enough, you can make religion compatible with science. That does not leave much for religion, other than that God is a God of love. I dumped religion when my readings of the OT convinced me that even the “God of love” bit did not stand up to scrutiny.

  • Roxy

    Who is the guy talking with William Lane Craig? I like his attitude (not Craig’s, the guy’s.)

  • Aspect Sign

    I had to shut it off when I hit the line “I wanted to believe but my brain was getting in the way” I just didn’t want to here the justification for jettisoning the brain. Though I suppose I appreciate the honesty of acknowledging that having a functioning thinking organ is an obstacle to belief.

  • http://fisica.ugto.mx/~selimibn Selim

    The video does indeed a very good job of showing the mental contortions needed to justify many tenets of theism -in general, since many of these arguments are not particular to christianity.

    However, I don’t think the inclusion of Freeman Dyson is justified. First, while he calls himself a christian (apparently with some reservation; he’s said that “I am a practising Christian but not a believing Christian”) the god he describes here and elsewhere has nothing to do with Yahweh -it would hardly even qualify as a person. His position really offers no comfort to christians, because he dismisses everything that is specific about their religion: the resurrection, heaven & hell, the virgin birth, a supernatural and involved-with-people deity who makes miracles, et cetera.

    Second, what he is arguing for is essentially a scientific position that can be falsified, namely that quantum effects form the basis of consciousness, and that therefore things we would not consider to be alive could be conscious. I don’t think he’s right about this, but it isn’t absurd a priori. And it is not an idea that involves the supernatural in any way, or that is intrinsically irrational. He’s wrong about this, as he’s wrong about climate change, but I don’t think he is antiscience or irrational or hypocritical in the way many of the other people in this video clearly are. He’s more like Mach, who never accepted the existence of atoms, or Einstein, who could never accept the possibility of a fundamentally probabilistic theory being complete.

    Dyson’s argument is framed in terms of mights and coulds, and he speaks of plausibility, not of special knowledge or revelation. And so, althought he is a contrarian -as Weinberg said: “when consensus is forming like ice hardening on a lake, Dyson will do his best to chip at the ice”- he has not abandoned the methods of science, or the idea that a position that is at odds with evidence must be rejected. I disagree with him, but I believe he belongs in a different category from people like Saunders or Collins.

  • Kurt1

    They all try to justify their believes with science. That can´t possibly work. Every time you begin to argue for the existence of a god and use rational thought, you drift further and further away from the actual religious concept of any god.

    The only religion which I could live with, would be fatcher Coynes “God isn´t a god of explanation but a god of love”. It would still be stupid, but if that would be the central and only dogma, i wouldn´t care about, if people believe or not.

  • Robert B.

    Hahahaha. Unusual honesty is out in force, here. I love the guy who says that his theology is “bamboozling nonsense” and that he knows he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. A great demonstration of how intellectual integrity conflicts with faith, by looking at people who try to have both.

  • http://www.godwordsecret.com allan

    God is god and He is love. He is our creator