Thursday, July 27, 2017

Prescriptive Oughts and Atheism: Round 3

Sometimes I miss comment replies for a while.

Then I will notice them and note that I should write something in response, but life happens and I forget.  This is one of those times.

I was having an enjoyable exchange with apologist Maverick Christian (referred to as MC), and his last comment on that thread was left unanswered.  Since the exchange is interesting I've decided to put another actual post on the topic up rather than leave good content buried in a comment thread.

I actually hope that MC doesn't mind my responding so late in this fashion, and I apologize for there being such a delay.  That all said, lets begin.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Outrageous Statements and their Defenders

Note: This post has been updated, per the request of John Loftus to include an additional exchange.

With a title like this, you'd think I was going to have a rant about a shitty Christian apologist making outrageous claims about atheism.

Except I'm about to go on a rant about two atheists that I'd otherwise admire making outrageous and indefensible claims about theists.

I'm talking about David Silverman and John Loftus.

There's been some buzz because Justin Schieber publicly criticized this meme from David Silverman's book Fighting God, which was created by Dr. David Madison:

This prompted some rather astounding defenses of Dave Silverman on Twitter from one John Loftus:
So rather than go back and forth with John Loftus on Twitter, I had a brief window of free time to give a full treatment to the criticism of this idea.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Are Atheists celebrating Intellectual Regression?

I had shared the following atheist meme on Twitter, which prompted some reaction from some theologians/apologists I follow.



The strongest reaction coming from Randal Rauser who penned a post about the topic which reveals more context to the quote which I wouldn't endorse.  I'd recommend reading his article.

I posted the following as a comment on his blog, but I liked the themes here so much I decided to include it as a post of my own so as to not lose it. Hopefully it's helpful to others who can strongly relate to the meme, as I do. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Randal, Reductionism, and Something About Mary

So I was having a pleasant little bit of a Twitter back and forth with theologian and apologist Randal Rauser on philosophy of mind.  Then I went about part of my holiday weekend and when I checked Twitter again I had my mentions blown up and saw that our exchange had attracted some others and got more than a bit testy, and I think confused.


Bad things happen when you try to discuss something like philosophy of mind on a platform like Twitter.

Randal then wrote a blog post regarding the discussion with others on Twitter, which prompted me to finally make good on my comment to Randal about writing my own post about why I thought reductionism wasn't all that implausible.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Prescriptive Ought Part 2: The Revenge!



Maverick Christian (hereby MC) took the time to respond tomy post on his conception of a “prescriptive ought” and I’ve just had too much going on in the real world to craft a proper reply till now.   

In the interim he’s also been busy on a few Facebook threads on the Real Atheology page giving some additional descriptions on how he grounds his prescriptive ought, which I’ll be responding to here as well. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

I was on Real Atheology Episode 11 - On God and Ethics




So last weekend I got to appear on the Real Atheology Podcast hosted by Justin Schieber and Ben Watkins.  We discussed the moral argument and my last set of videos, as well as some additional objections to the argument. 

It was an absolute blast and I was thrilled to be on the show.  I really encourage you to give it a listen and to check out the rest of the Real Atheology catalog.

You can listen to the MP3 on their website or watch it on their YouTube channel which I've embedded here.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Mysterious Case of the Prescriptive Ought



A while ago I had a very pleasant debate on the moral argument with a person named Wade who blogs under the nickname Maverick Christian.   He’s been commenting on the Real Atheology Facebook post I made regarding my new video series, and I wanted to write a post explaining the problems I see with his views. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Quick Counters to the Moral Argument - Objectivity



Note: What follows below is a transcript of this video
I wanted to cover some of the best objections to the moral argument for gods existence in their own smaller, easier to digest videos.
To sum things up quickly, here’s the standard moral argument for god’s existence:
1.       If god does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

2.       Objective moral values and duties exist

3.       Therefore god exists

This objection is going to cover problems with the kind of objectivity theistic ethics provides as it relates to moral values.  I intend to show that theistic ethics isn’t quite as objective as apologists claim it to be, and once they try to fix the objectivity problem I’m going to point out, they lay the groundwork that can allow for a similarly objective moral value system that is compatible with atheism.

Quick Counters to the Moral Argument - Moral Duties



Note: What follows below is a transcript of the video
I wanted to cover some of the best objections to the moral argument for gods existence in their own smaller, easier to digest videos.
To sum things up quickly, here’s the standard moral argument for god’s existence:

1.      If god does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

2.      Objective moral values & duties exist

3.      Therefore god exists

This video is going to show the numerous problems with saying if god does not exist, then objective moral duties cannot exist.

Quick Counters to the Moral Argument - Value



Note: What follows below is a transcript of this video



I wanted to cover some of the best objections to the moral argument for gods existence in their own smaller, easier to digest videos.
To sum things up quickly, here’s the standard moral argument for god’s existence:
1.       If god does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2.       Objective moral values & duties exist
3.       Therefore god exists

Quick Counters to the Moral Argument - Brute Facts



Note: What follows below is a transcript of this video

I wanted to cover some of the best objections to the moral argument for gods existence in their own smaller, easier to digest videos. 
To sum things up quickly, here’s the standard moral argument for god’s existence:
1.       If god does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

2.       Objective moral values & duties exist

3.       Therefore god exists
This video is going to cover an objection about what are called “Moral Brute Facts”, which is an idea I got from reading the work of atheist philosopher Erik Wielenberg.

Four Quick Counters to the Moral Argument



I've had this project on the backburner for far too long.  One problem I've had with the long form videos going into refutations of apologetic arguments is that they're long, complex, and can be hard for someone not well versed in philosophy to understand.

As such, I've decided to break down the best arguments I had from my long back and forth series on the Moral Argument with William Lane Craig. 

Above is a playlist that contains four videos I've just created, each one tackling it's own stand alone objection to the moral argument.

You can look at each individual video and read the transcript by going to the following pages:

Objectivity
Value
Brute Facts
Moral Duties

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Missing the Point on Randal's Sermon?

As these tend to go, I had a response post by Randal regarding my critique of his sermon on faith and evidence.

Randal believes I've missed his points and was vitriolic.

Let me begin the reply by going through his three major points, and we'll touch on the last part at the end.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Responding to Randal's Evidence Sermon



It was odd, but a week ago I saw a Twitter notification that Randal Rauser, an apologist I like and respect, had released an audio sermon about Christianity, Faith, and Evidence.
Since I had a full plate of work that I could do while listening to something somewhat engaging, I decided to give it a listen.
It was absolutely infuriating.
Throughout the entire sermon I kept having the mental image of Joe Pesci yelling “Get the fuck outta here!” as we went from one doozy to another. 


 "You gotta be fuckin kidding me!" also works


This felt rather appropriate, because as one of the cherished Patron Saints of Atheism - George Carlin tells us, praying to Joe Pesci is statistically as effective as praying to god.
Woe betide those who go against Cardinal George


So I wanted to get a post together that goes through what’s wrong with it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Progressive Non-Contradictions - Responding to Elijah

On Twitter I saw a Elijah, an apologist I've had pleasant interactions with in the past go off on his own created hashtag called #ProgressiveContradictions. He's compiled a list of them in a post on his website.

I was a bit disappointed at reading some of these because frankly I expected better from Elijah. In very few cases did he highlight any actual hypocrisy that could be traced to the larger progressive movement.  But the vast majority of cases were going after the most superficial kinds of supposed contradictions - either interpreting statements in the worst ways, or ignoring underlying philosophy which underlies most of the statements and renders it non-contradictory, or just simply presenting views from two sides of the spectrum within progressivism and pretending that individuals hold both views on a topic that is internally contested. 

Honestly this is some kind of bush-league Fox News talk show kind of stuff that you wouldn't expect an educated thinker to engage in.

I pointed out how if an atheist or liberal did this, then Elijah would go nuts and pen blog posts detailing how wrong or stupid the critiques were. Like lets say:

Conservatives say they're pro-life, but for the death penalty! #ConservativeContradictions

Christians believe their god is perfectly mercifuly and perfectly just, but they're mutually exclusive! #ChristianContradictions

Christians say they believe in a god who is three persons, but there is only one god. #ChristianContradictions

Christians believe Jesus was fully man and fully god, but a being can't be completely two different things! #ChristianContradictions

In each case the conservative/christian can give an underlying philosophy or understanding to resolve these problems. While I may not agree, that doesn't mean the statements are inherently incoherent.

Elijah challenged me to show how his examples were not contradictory, and so that's where I intend to get to work.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Responding to Cosmic Skeptic on the Kalam


Recently I saw an apologist I enjoy interacting with throwing some heat at a video by atheist YouTuber Cosmic Skeptic on his latest video about the Kalam.  Since I’ve got a deep history with the argument I wanted to check it out.  You can view the video here:



In short I think Alex is correct that the Kalam is unsound, but he’s right for the wrong reasons in a few cases, and he makes a few other errors along the way. I mentioned this to him on Twitter and he kindly asked me to expand – hence this post.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Atheism and the Intrinsic Value of Human Beings

During a Twitter exchange yesterday I brought up the idea that atheists could account for the intrinsic value of human beings in order to counter the idea that only theism could account for our intrinsic value.

The atheist compatible basis for intrinsic human value is fairly simple: The capability to value anything at all is intrinsically valuable.

Since some human beings have the capability to value something, those that do are therefore inherently valuable.

This idea was challenged by an apologist and theologian I happen to respect and interact with fairly often Stephen J. Graham.


Stephen asks: "Why is the ability to value necessary for possessing intrinsic value?" (Emphasis his)

There is a response to this question, though at first I should make an important point.


The question is somewhat malformed, because like any question for the basis of value, or why something has value - you eventually come to a terminus of your explanation to which one can always ask "but why does that give something value?"


This is as true for theistic conceptions of value as it is for atheistic ones. After all, even if theists say that god simply is defined as being valuable, one could ask why we should consider a being like that to be valuable?


So at some point we reach an explanatory ultimate with regard to value.  The best we can do is evaluable whether or not we consider that explanatory ultimate to be sufficient.


My Answer

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Hemant gets the Moral Argument wrong, badly

It's generally rare that I want to write against an atheist, but here is a case where someone I really like, Hemant Mehta, gets things really wrong in a way that's damaging to how atheists are perceived.

Dennis Prager put out another one of his shitty Prager University videos that is just a conservative hack going through a presentation of the moral argument for god's existence.

Hemant tries to give a takedown of the argument and he mangles it - badly.

This in itself isn't really noteworthy - lots of atheists fuck up responding to apologetic arguments. I've done it tons of times. When that happens, I hope someone comes along and points out where I've made an error and that's what I'm attempting to do here for Hemant.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The last bit of advice for Michael Nugent

I've written two other posts for Michael Nugent on his upcoming debate with William Lane Craig.

Thus far I've focused on refuting Craig's arguments, which is largely my main purpose behind this blog/YouTube account.

But a debate with a prominent apologist isn't completely about simply showing that their cumulative case approach of arguments doesn't work.  A debate is as much about the show between two debaters, and the interactions on stage are going to sadly play far more of a role in viewers minds about "who won" rather than whether Michael was able to refute all of Craig's arguments.

So this is my final piece of advice: Attack! Attack! Attack!

How? Well lets get on to it.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Advice for Michael Nugent - Part 2

Last week I wrote a post dealing with a wide variety of problems for the Kalam Cosmological Argument as a piece of advice for Michael Nugent in his upcoming debate with Christian apologist William Lane Craig.

While I don't intend to go into nearly as much depth here, I did want to sketch a few objections I find to be very strong to the common arguments Craig presents: The Fine Tuning Argument and the Moral Argument.

So lets begin.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Randal Rauser convinces me on the rationality of specific religious belief

I've done a bit of posting on whether or not there is rational justification for belief in a specific religion.

David Marshall tried to get "inside" the argument and state that one could justify belief in specifically Christian miracles. My last post was a long reply about why that isn't at all convincing.

Randal however took the opposite approach, going "outside" the argument to reject my overall approach.

After some back and forth in his comment section, he's convinced me that the argument I'm going after isn't going to undermine rational belief in a specific religion. Here's the relevant text from his comment that really brought the point home:

Saturday, February 18, 2017

David Marshall & The Oppressed Faithless Disciples

A few days ago I put up a post questioning whether or not belief in specific religions could be rationally justified. I'm not completely sure that this argument works yet, and so I specifically requested rebuttals.


The first response I got comes from Christian apologist David Marshall.


Unfortunately for David, his response had quite the opposite effect - I'm now more convinced there's some teeth in the argument. Lets get into a number of misconceptions and problems with David's rebuttal.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Advice for Michael Nugent on Debating William Lane Craig

It was recently announced that Michael Nugent, the Chair of Atheist Ireland, will be debating Christian apologist William Lane Craig.

Michael reached out for advice over Twitter and while I gave him a quick bit of info, I wanted to put together a primer for him on a few key points he may want to use in his upcoming debate.  I figure this can possibly be useful for people looking for a quick overview on counter arguments to Craig's standard argument line as well.

Before I get into the grimy details, I wanted to note a few things.

Are there rational justifications for belief in a specific religion?



I’ve had this idea percolating in my head for some time, and a Twitter interaction with Randal Rauser has forced me to finally put words down in support of it.


My thoughts are fairly ambitious as far as Counter Apologetics goes, though I’m not yet certain the argument will work.  So consider this a request for rebuttals. 


The idea is that jumping from mere theism to belief in a specific religion is not rationally justifiable. This concept isn’t necessarily new.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Book Review: "An Atheist and a Christian Walk Into a Bar..."



“An Atheist and a Christian Walk Into a Bar..” is a collaborative work between atheist Justin Schieber and Christian theologian and apologist Randal Rauser

If you’re familiar with my work, you’ll know I’m a big fan of Justin’s work on the Reasonable Doubts Podcast and his new ventures in the Real Atheology YouTube channel which just transitioned into its own podcast.  I also happen to have a bit of a soft spot for Randal.  Randal is one of those apologists that strikes me as quite very honest about how arguments and the like work out, even if we disagree about the conclusions.  If I had to pick an apologist to go have beers with, Randal is one of the few I’d be happy to do so with. 

So those are my biases, coming in I happen to like both authors. Spoiler Alert: This is a positive review.