Militant Agnosticism

I recently received an email from an agnostic named Dan who was, ironically enough, quite militant about his agnosticism! According to Dan, “one cannot logically be an atheist” because “a negative can never be proven.” Notice, however, the statement “a negative can never be proven” is itself a negative statement. Either the statement “a negative can never be proven” can itself be proven, in which case the argument is self-refuting, or it can’t be proven, in which case it doesn’t provide a reason to reject atheism. I make this and other points in my essay, “Is a Sound Argument for the Non-Existence of a God Even Possible?

When I referred Dan to the article, I explained that there are actually two ways to prove the nonexistence of something. One way is to prove that it cannot exist because its very concept is self-contradictory (e.g., square circles, married bachelors, etc.). The other way is by carefully looking and seeing. Both of these methods can and have been used to disprove various conceptions of God.

Dan took issue with the second method because it “presumes your senses and abilities are w/o bound.” Not really; the fact that we are finite beings does not prevent us from legitimately concluding that, given some body of evidence, a particular hypothesis is more probable than another hypothesis. This goes for conclusions about God’s existence just as it does for other areas where inductive logic is used, such as weather forecasting and criminal forensic investigations.

I suspect that Dan is holding both theism and atheism to a much higher evidential standard than we apply to other empirical questions. The fact that we might discover some new item of evidence in the future that supports a contradictory conclusion in no way undermines the fact that the evidence we have today supports an explanatory hypothesis. For example, the probability that the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776 is extremely high, but it is not 100%. I suppose it is logically possible that in the future someone might discover historical evidence demonstrating the Declaration of Independence was signed on February 2, 1775. But the fact that such a thing is logically possible is irrelevant to the inductive (probabilistic) conclusion that the Declaration was indeed signed on July 4, 1776. In other words, a conclusion can be highly probable even if it is possible that the conclusion is false.

As a nontheist, I don’t demand that someone prove to me that the existence of God is absolutely certain (i.e., has a 100% probability). I would settle for an argument showing that the total relevant evidence merely makes the existence of God highly probable. Similarly, we don’t need absolutely certainty (i.e., 100% probability) in order to know that there is no God. We can use inductive arguments to show that God’s nonexistence is more likely, even much more likely, than God’s existence. And, indeed, I think there are inductively correct arguments that show religiously significant conceptions of God–such as the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam–do not exist.

After corresponding with presuppositionalists who make the ridiculous claim that there are no atheists, I thought I had heard everything. I was wrong. After reading my defense of the second method of proving the nonexistence of something, Dan then proceeded to tell me that I am “really” an agnostic but I just refuse to admit it. This remarkable conclusion is supposed to follow from the fact that I don’t claim to be able to prove with absolute certainty that God doesn’t exist. The fact of the matter, however, is that ordinary usage of the word “atheist” does not support that conclusion. There is no requirement that one has to be absolutely certain that there is no God in order to qualify as an atheist. I have never claimed to be absolutely certain that atheism is true, but it doesn’t follow that I merely lack belief in God or that I am not an atheist. Rather, I believe God’s existence is very improbable.

To make an analogy, I don’t know with absolute certainty that the sun will rise tomorrow, but I am highly confident that it will (i.e., it has an epistemic probability for me of >99.999%). That hardly means I am “agnostic” about whether the sun will rise. (In other words, one can hold a belief without assigning an epistemic probability of 100%.)

I’m reminded of Taner Edis’s recent discussion about individuals who claim that everyone is born ‘my’ way (i.e., theists who claim that everyone is born theist, atheists who claim that everyone is born atheist). Granted, Dan’s claim (that I and at least some other atheists are really agnostics) is not quite in the same category as the claims that Taner was discussing. But it is interesting to me that so many people’s argumentative strategy includes defining one’s ‘opposition’ out of existence!

About Jeffery Jay Lowder

Jeffery Jay Lowder is President Emeritus of Internet Infidels, Inc., which he co-founded in 1995. He is also co-editor of the book, The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16826768452963498005 Jim Lippard

    By Dan’s standard, we qualify as agnostics about the existence of an external world and other minds, and about every empirical fact. Anything that we don’t have absolute proof for and accept without qualification, we’re agnostic about.

    That’s not what agnostic means.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11250370621742484257 Paul Manata
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16826768452963498005 Jim Lippard

    Wow, that is quite a piece of work.

    I note that at this web page, Paul Manata is described as “an ex-atheist who became a Christian in 1999″ who has “participated in many debates with atheists.”

    http://audio.northcitychurch.com/Manata_Sansone_Debate.html

    If Manata’s response to Martin is correct, then Manata was never an atheist and has never debated with any atheists, and he should request that the North City Presbyterian Church correct their erroneous web page.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11250370621742484257 Paul Manata

    Wow Jim, that would have been interesting except my paper on Martin explains how one can use the term “atheist” without saying “professed” atheist.”

    Also, an atheist can be engaged in self-deception and so there are two beliefs going on. From my blog entry:

    “People who think there is a contradiction may have the wrong analysis in mind, and so showing the correct analysis should be helpful. The NA position is not saying that X believes P, and also, X believes ~P. Rather the correct analysis is X believes P and X also believes that X does not believe P. Self-deception is a second level belief.”

    So, it is usually considered good form to read that which you critique.

    Anyway, this next quote should put it in context:

    “Attempting to show that even proponents of NA don’t consistently live up to their claim he writes:

    Even Bahnsen and the Southern California Center for Christiant Studies (SCCCS) seem at times to assume that there are real and not just professed atheists. In his taped lecture “How to Argue with Atheists” Bahnsen apparently begged the same question he accused me of begging: according to his own scruples he should have entitled this lecture “How to Argue with Professed Atheists.”[5] SCCCS begged the question when it referred to me in its advertisements as an atheistic scholar, not a professed atheistic scholar.

    As a philosopher Martin should know better than this. What people say and write is determined by context and their broader works taken together (knowing someone’s position inside and out allows us to be careful to not misrepresent them). It is obvious that Bahnsen and the SCCCS believed that there are no atheists based on their numerous tapes and articles on the subject. For example, in a footnote Martin cites a taped lecture given by Dr. Bahnsen entitled: Michael Martin Under the Microscope. Now on the second tape Bahnsen made it clear that he only believed that there are professed atheists. Either one of two things have happened: (1) Martin has deliberately misled us (which I do not believe). Or (2), Martin has not done his homework. The latter is more likely and is nothing but bad scholarship. If Bahnsen and the SCCCS believed that there are no real atheists then Martin should have interpreted them in the best light. Has Martin ever referred to Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, or the tooth fairy and not used the word imaginary with it? I doubt it. So, if he wants to say that every time and advocate of NA uses the word atheist he has to include “professed” with it, then Martin has to include the word imaginary with Santa Clause. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, right? Furthermore, Martin’s colleague George Smith argued that the word God was like the word “blark”, it is a meaningless word.[12] Smith’s book though is titled “Atheism the Case Against God.” Smith should have subtitled blark for God or put nothing. Smith acknowledges this and said that the title was the way it was for publishing reasons.[13] My point should be clear, in no way did Bahnsen or the SCCCS beg the question. Martin has begged the question though, because he thinks that there truly are atheists.

    best regards,

    ~Paul

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11250370621742484257 Paul Manata

    P.S. If ‘atheist’ is defined as “someone who professes to not believe in God’s existence” (or, someone who professes to lack a belief) then, on my definition, I have no problem. So, only by treating the issue lightly would one think that Lippard’s critique has any punch.

    Oh, and btw, Lowder writes that atheists shoot themselves in the foot because they can’t even define the word “atheist.” So, I’d clean up my backyard before I go telling others how messy theirs is.

    best regards,
    Paul

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16826768452963498005 Jim Lippard

    The fact that there are multiple usages of “atheist” (e.g., strong vs. weak varieties, or positive vs. negative varieties in Martin’s terminology) is no evidence for the nonexistence of atheists any more than the fact that there are multiple usages of “Christian” is evidence for the nonexistence of Christians.

    Your interpretation of how atheists are self-deluded rather than believing a contradiction has nothing to do with my comment.

    Your defense of the description given in the web page is that your non-standard definition of atheist (“self deluded person who believes in God, but believes that he doesn’t believe in God”) is what was meant by “atheist” on that page. If that’s really your position, then you could state your position far more simply by stating that “There are atheists, but they are people who believe in God while deceiving themselves into believing that they don’t.” I.e., it’s the second-order belief that makes someone an atheist. As this is a non-standard definition, if you want people to understand you, you are obligated to make it clear that you are using such a definition–it’s not expressed on the North City Presbyterian Church web page I cited.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10289884295542007401 Jeffery Jay Lowder

    Paul — I agree that “If ‘atheist’ is defined as ‘someone who professes to not believe in God’s existence’ (or, someone who professes to lack a belief),” then your usage of the word atheist is at least consistent with your definition of it. It seems to me, however, that your definition of atheism is vulnerable to the same objection I made against the “lack of belief in God’s existence” definition of atheism: ordinary usage of the word “atheism” does not support either definition. (I assume that even Bahnsen adopted the “atheism = belief there is no God” definition, which is why he said that there are no atheists.) You are obviously free to define “atheism” however you wish, but it seems to me that by default, we should define words according to ordinary usage unless there is some reason not to do so.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04549444906381131734 Martin Wagner

    Hey, Paul. Instead of concocting tortuous arguments to claim atheists are self-deluded, why don’t you just prove God exists? Then all us pesky atheists will go away.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11250370621742484257 Paul Manata

    Hey Martin,

    That wasn’t the purpose of what I was responding to.

    ~Paul

    Jim,

    “The fact that there are multiple usages of “atheist” (e.g., strong vs. weak varieties, or positive vs. negative varieties in Martin’s terminology) is no evidence for the nonexistence of atheists any more than the fact that there are multiple usages of “Christian” is evidence for the nonexistence of Christians.”

    I didn’t say it was evidence of the non-existence of atheists. That leads us to your second claim:

    “Your defense of the description given in the web page is that your non-standard definition of atheist (“self deluded person who believes in God, but believes that he doesn’t believe in God”) is what was meant by “atheist” on that page. If that’s really your position, then you could state your position far more simply by stating that “There are atheists, but they are people who believe in God while deceiving themselves into believing that they don’t.” I.e., it’s the second-order belief that makes someone an atheist.”

    Actually, when the very definition is in such disarray, why does my definition get chastized? And, i did argue thus, but Martin had more for me to respond to.

    “As this is a non-standard definition, if you want people to understand you, you are obligated to make it clear that you are using such a definition–it’s not expressed on the North City Presbyterian Church web page I cited.

    I did make it clear. I posted something I wrote and if you had read that before posting your comment then your critique would have been nulified. You assumed you had caught me in a self-refuting fallacy based on (1) my paper and (2) what the church’s website said. But, since you didn’t read the paper you really had no ground to make the alleged connection you did.

    “Your interpretation of how atheists are self-deluded rather than believing a contradiction has nothing to do with my comment.

    Actually, I thought it very relevent. I thought it answered how I can use the term “atheist” while denying that there are any “true” atheists” (in the sense of having no God belief or lacking said belief, in their entire constitution).

    Jeff,

    I agree that ‘atheist’ is “someone who does not believe in God” is the traditional and better definition. Group 1 tries to avoid the burden but then they are subject to my ‘a-atheism’ critique.

    Anyway, my definition can account for the traditional definition because, at least, atheists do profess to not believe in God. And, more weird, I believe that they do not believe in God 9on the surface). But, since they also know God, they cannot “truely” be atheists.

    Bahnsen did say that the group 2 was the traditional definition but group 1 would also fall from my (or Bahnsen’s) critique since if all men do know that God exists then it is false that they “lack a belief.” Bahnsen’s beef with group 1 is that they try to avoid the burden of proof, but fail.

    You are obviously free to define “atheism” however you wish, but it seems to me that by default, we should define words according to ordinary usage unless there is some reason not to do so.

    But I don’t need to. Only when someone wants to get clear and have me be precise (like Martin did in his paper) I will draw the distinction. SO, I agree with the traditional definition but would add that their belief is based on self-deception. So, one one level they believe it, on another they do not.

    In any case. I do not think it is a “silly” claim that we make. You may not like it, you may disagree, but it isn’t “silly.” The Bible says that all men know that God exists. To just call the view that there are no atheists, “silly” seems to assume that “there obviously are atheists” (in the sense of not knowing that God exists) and thus begs the question (without argument) against my position.

    Anyway, my only point was that Jim’s first critique doesn’t stand.

    ~Paul

    P.S. Btw, one could have “good reason” to deny traditional definition if the traditional definition was false, as is my contention. By false I mean the other beliefs that are attached to the claim that an atheist “do not believe in God”.

    P.P.S. Bahnsen wrote his doctrinal dissortation on self-deception and I think 700 some odd pages of arguments needs to be refuted by something more than “that’s silly.” Here is something of an abstract of his dissertation: http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/pa207.htm

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14558495391350708810 James Still

    The weakness in the presuppositional argument that atheists “know” God is that its biblical basis is in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Let’s remember that this was a letter that one Christian wrote to a group of Christians in Rome. Paul is a human begin like the rest of us and his words are shaky foundations for the sort of certitude that Van Til and his followers presuppose.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10289884295542007401 Jeffery Jay Lowder

    Paul — It isn’t just atheists who think it is silly to suggest there are no atheists. In another blog, Christian philosopher Victor Reppert also said he considers the idea silly. Of course, calling an idea silly and showing that it is silly are two different things. Personally, I consider debating presuppostionalism a waste of time since I don’t think it deserves to be taken seriously (just as I don’t think young earth creationism deserves to be taken seriously). But I’ll make you a deal: point me to an article-length defense of the transcendental argument for God’s existence, or of the claim that there are no atheists, in a reputable *Christian* journal of philosophy. I’ll accept either Faith and Philosophy or Philosophia Christi. If you can point to an article that made it past the peer review process of one of these journals and ultimately was published, I’ll take the argument seriously. If you can’t, well… then I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13900843579715907140 John W. Loftus

    Paul, try this on for size:

    There are No Christians!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16826768452963498005 Jim Lippard

    Paul: I disagree that the notion of atheist is “in such disarray.” It has fewer variants than “Christian.”
    (http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_defn.htm)

    I’ll accept your criticism about my self-refutation response, by characterizing your position not as “there are no atheists” but “there are atheists, but they really do, deep down, believe in God and are self-deluded.”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10289884295542007401 Jeffery Jay Lowder

    For what it is worth, I agree with Jim: the notion of atheist is NOT “in disarray.” There is disagreement among people who identify themselves as atheists, but I would hardly describe the situation as “disarray.”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11250370621742484257 Paul Manata

    Hi James,

    I address your comment in my paper and argue from more than Paul’s verse. Also, Pual wrote it but you must remember that I belive God inspired it, and so the “shaky human” argument seems to beg the question. Furthermore, hundreds of papers have been written on this idea (or the innate knowledge of God) by almost as respectable theologians (Calvin, Hodge, Murray, van Til, Bahnsen, et al) and to just dismiss it as you did seems a bit irresponsible, IMHO.

    Hi Loftus,

    I address an attempt to reverse the argument in my blog entry. Martin already tried it.

    Hi Jim,

    That’s fine. I can also grant that I accept your notion of the definition of ‘atheism’ not being in “disarray” while also noting that it does not affect my argument.

    Hi Jeff,

    Yes, I know that Reppert called it “silly” and I think that is irresponsible of him as well. Especially given that many of his “heros” have defended the thesis. This is not a new claim. I don’t thik I just said atheists called it silly.

    I guess there’s not much that I can say if you consider debating presuppositionalists a waste of time. Probably how I feel about debating objectivists. My only comment would be that I guess you don’t consider debating inconsistent presuppositionalists a waste of time. You see, every body is a presuppositionalist of sorts, they just don’ admit it. The Christian philosophers who do not call themselves presuppositionalists are just being naive, IMHO. Anyway, their own Lord says. This is because the myth of neutrality runs rampid.

    And, finally, I guess a doctrinal dissertation at USC under Dallas Willard does not count? And obviously what I wrote doesn’t count either. Anyway, the link I gave by Bahnsen appeared in the Westminster Theological Journal which does have a good reputation and is peer reviewed. But since it was reviewed by a bunch of reformed presuppositionalists then you don’t take them seriously.

    In any case, if my argument against Martin stands then it stands regardless of whether it’s “peer reviewed.”

    best regards to all,
    Paul

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11250370621742484257 Paul Manata

    P.S. Jeff,

    I notice that you guys have links to a couple of “presuppositionalists” on your Christian blogroll. Sean Choi and Steve Hays are both presuppositionalists.

    best,
    Paul

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10289884295542007401 Jeffery Jay Lowder

    Paul — I’d like to emphasize that my current opinion of presuppositionalism as an idea is in no way related to my opinion of presuppositionalists as people. Yes, you’re correct that both Sean and Steve are presuppositionalists. The fact that I think the “there are no atheists” idea is silly doesn’t mean I don’t respect Sean and Steve; on the contrary, I have great respect for them and I have always enjoyed and profited from reading what they have to say, which is why I link to their blogs. (By analogy, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sean or Steve thought that atheism is silly and absurd. And if they did, I wouldn’t personalize the issue and take it as a personal attack on me.)

    I’m not sure what Steve is up to these days, but I know that Sean is currently in graduate school in philosophy at UCSB. Maybe Sean will be the one to publish a defense of the transcendental argument, or the related idea that there are no atheists, in a reputable publication such as Faith and Philosophy or Philosophia Christi. Another option would to write a book in the philosophy of religion that defends presuppositionalism and get it published by a Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Routledge, Blackwell, or Cornell University Press.

    I’m perfectly willing to admit that I’m wrong and that the “there are no atheists” idea is NOT silly, but I’d like to see some more buy-in from Christian philosophers first. NOTE: by “buy-in,” I don’t mean acceptance of the idea, but evidence that non-presuppositionalist Christian philosophers believe the idea deserves to be taken seriously.

    Regards,

    Jeff

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11250370621742484257 Paul Manata

    Hi Jeff,

    Sorry, I did not mean to imply that you thought that *they* were silly but that their *system* was. And, you linked to people who write about “silliness.” :-)

    Anyway, I find it odd that you discount many definitive and standard reformed systematics theology texts (Hodge, Berkof, et al) as well as many “top theologians” (cf. Murray’s commentary on Romans) as well as someone’s dissertation from a reputable university.

    And, I’m not offended because I don’t expect you to think of me as anyone special, but my argument still stands whether or not it has been in a journal or not.

    I’m also sure that you are aware that many thesis would not and have not been accepted into journals because of the current dogma and paradigm. I’m sure you’re aware of Kuhn on this issue.

    Anyway, thanks for the interaction.

    best,
    Paul

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06301266195728601566 Bacon Eating Atheist Jew

    Do I believe my Dog isn’t God? I’m very sure she isn’t. Can I be 100% sure that she isn’t God? No. And I feel the same way I do about my dog being God as I do as anything being God. Does this make me Agnostic or Atheist? In fact, I can’t prove that I’m not God for sure.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10289884295542007401 Jeffery Jay Lowder

    Paul — I was re-reading your latest post, where you again made reference to Bahnsen’s Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Southern California. According to the link you provided to the “something of an abstract” of his dissertation, at note 54, Bahnsen provides the title of his dissertation: “A Conditional Resolution of the Apparent Paradox of Self-Deception.” By itself, the title makes it sound as if the dissertation might not contain a defense of the transcendental argument or the “no atheists” claim at all. (It could be the case, for example, that Bahnsen’s analysis of the concept of self-deception is reasonable, but an individual does not have to engage in self-deception in order to be an atheist. In other words, there are real atheists in the world.)

    I realize, however, that Bahnsen might have tackled such topics in his dissertation, even if only briefly, despite the fact that the title doesn’t make an obvious reference to such topics. So rather than speculate, I’ll pose the question directly. Have you read Bahnsen’s dissertation? Does it contain either a defense of the transcendental argument or the “no atheists” claim?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02291279515593765181 the metaphysician

    JJL:

    “Yes, you’re correct that both Sean and Steve are presuppositionalists.”

    I won’t presume to speak for Steve, but just to clarify and get everyone up to speed on where I stand, I would no longer characterize myself as a presuppositionalist (of the vantilian variety, anyway). I still appreciate a lot of the apologetic material that have been authored by presuppositionalists (e.g. Bahnsen’s massive tome on VT), but I don’t think I agree anymore with that school of thought that there is a “silver bullet” transcendental argument that proves that only Christian theism provides the preconditions of intelligibility. I think that presuppositionalists of the vantilian variety are setting themselves up for a fall when they make such lofty claims for their proposed TA. I think it is preferrable to incorporate various presuppositional insights into what is an overall classical (cumulative case, “which way does the evidence point” type) approach to apologetics.

    “The fact that I think the ‘there are no atheists’ idea is silly doesn’t mean I don’t respect Sean and Steve;…”

    I think that Bahnsen’s self-deception model does show that it is consistent with all the evidence that the atheist puts forth as to why they don’t believe in God that they really do so believe. That is, his self-deception model can render coherent the supposition that there are no atheists, despite the protestations to the contrary.

    However, I do have doubts about whether that model does, in fact, correctly apply to actual professed atheists, like yourself and Jim (Lippard). Let me briefly explain.

    In a typical case of self-deception, the person’s actions contradict their professed beliefs. For example, a guy who’s self-deceived about his sexism might say that he believes in equal treatment of women in the workplace, while acting in such a manner that is inconsistent with his professed beliefs, e.g. he flirts and harrasses his female workers, or belittles them, etc.

    If it is claimed that Bahnsen’s model of self-deception actually applies to professed atheists we have to ask: What behavior of atheists are inconsistent with their professed belief that there is no God? Bahnsen would say: that they continue to rely on the uniformity of nature, the laws of logic, and assume justice and fair play, despite the fact that, on the atheist’s worldview, there is no rational basis for these things.

    At this point the atheist (or anyone else) could rightly ask: But why think that? And note that the above answer seems to presuppose (!) that his vantilian TA successfully accomplishes what it sets out to do: to show that only under Christian theism does uniformity of nature, logic, morality, etc. make sense.

    So, whether Bahnsen’s model of self-deception actually is applicable to professed atheists crucially depends on the prior question of whether his TA is successful. I think that it is not.

    “…on the contrary, I have great respect for them and I have always enjoyed and profited from reading what they have to say, which is why I link to their blogs.”

    And ditto for you, which is why I have your blog, Naturalistic Atheism, linked from mine.

    “(By analogy, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sean or Steve thought that atheism is silly and absurd. And if they did, I wouldn’t personalize the issue and take it as a personal attack on me.)”

    I do think that there are versions of atheism that does sound silly, e.g. the crass materialistic kind which identifies existence with materiality. That’s silly. But there are other forms of atheism that I wouldn’t characterize in that way. For example, Nathan Salmon (one of my professor) is an atheist, but he is a kind of a “platonist” when it comes to meanings, properties, and other abstracta. I highly respect the man, and although I think he is wrong about his atheism, I definitely don’t think it is out and out silly (as Bahnsen was wont to portray atheism). I just think it is, overall, less plausible than theism.

    “Maybe Sean will be the one to publish a defense of the transcendental argument, or the related idea that there are no atheists, in a reputable publication such as Faith and Philosophy or Philosophia Christi.”

    If I do publish such a paper, I think it will be a critical look (with an emphasis on “critical”) at that argument, rather than a defense of it.

    For whatever it’s worth, I will have a chapter on the transcendental argument for theism in a forthcoming Festschrift for (the late) Bob Passantino(of Answers in Action). It won’t be a technical piece (so the editors admonished me!), but will be on the level of what you might find in an academically oriented InterVarsity Press book. When contacted by its editor, I was hesistant about doing it, but I finally agreed to do it because I thought that it would be a nice way to pay tribute to Bob (who was a personal friend of mine). So, stay tuned for that.

    “Another option would to write a book in the philosophy of religion that defends presuppositionalism and get it published by a Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Routledge, Blackwell, or Cornell University Press.”

    Don’t hold your breath. The closest thing to presuppositionalism to be released by OUP, for example, was Plantinga’s Warrant and Proper Function and Warranted Christian Belief. These (excellent) books are still miles away from presuppositionalism proper. I think that presuppositionalism is “too antithetical” (to use Paul’s phrase) to get published in such places. (This is probably why Bahnsen never published in “secular” presses).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10898199059774425884 shargash

    It is a solecism to associate a “proof” with anything in the realm of naturalism. Proofs are constructs of the artificial world of mathematics and logic. For example, it is impossible to “prove” that the earth goes around the sun.

    Naturalism must concern itself with a preponderance of evidence rather than engage in the sterilism of a search for proofs. IMO, the preponderance of evidence is that there is no god(s). We do not need to postulate a deity to explain the workings of nature, and a deity as the prima causa is no less arbitrary than to say “it just happened that way.”

    In any case, agnostics are barking up the wrong tree. Atheism refers to belief. Do you believe in god or not, Yes or No? To reply that you don’t cannot prove/disprove the existence of a god is to dodge the question by confounding knowledge with belief.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08367983630108000071 odrareg

    Atheists who write as to be read in justification of their atheistic heart and mind, that there is no God understood as the maker of everything, are confessing very conspicuously to intelligent and insightful people that they are suffering from insecurity in regard to their profession that there is no God.

    Just stop writing and live like an atheist and obey the laws of the land, and be happy, that is the best proof that you are not insecure with your lifestyle and career as an atheist.

    And about the laws of the land, if you are in a democracy, get your lawmakers or your courts to change them or to interpret them to your heart and mind.

    Otherwise you are very insecure about being atheists, that is why all these writings endlessly to show to mankind that you are perfectly justified in professing yourselves as deniers of God's existence or invincibly ignorant of His existence, God as understood to be the maker of everything.

    Stop already, for in every word you write in justification of your atheist identification, you are exhibiting your insecurity in regard to the certainty and merit of your atheist heart and mind.

    It's just like the law bar exam funker writing forever why he should have passed the bar exam, in letters to the editor of every newspapers in town, when with every word he writes mankind is seeing in him a refusal to face the truth and reality that he is not up to the bar exam, and instead should try again by preparing himself better, or give up the law career.

    Pachy

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