Intelligent Design

If You are Going to Be an Atheist, at Least be a Courageous Atheist

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As I have often written in these pages, happy-faced New Atheists are simpering cowards. They say you are a cosmic accident with no more intrinsic value than a grub worm.  There is no meaning.  There is no foundation for ethics.  Everything you do is utterly determined by impersonal natural forces, so free will cannot exist.  Indeed, even “you” cannot exist, because the most primordial of your experiences – your subjective self-awareness – is an illusion.

But, hey, be happy.

Barf.

There is a glaring disconnect between their premises and the conclusions that must follow from those premises, and their unwarranted optimism.  Cowards that they are – they steadfastly avert their gaze from their conclusions so they can retain their optimism.

I can respect (while disagreeing with) a sincere atheist.  Faith – even a reasoned and reasonable faith like Christianity – can be hard.  I am currently reading Job.  That book is, above all, a study in the difficulty of believing in a loving God who, nevertheless, allows evil to exist.  I can certainly understand – and continue to respect and even love – someone who wrestled with that difficulty and succumbed.  My own grandfather lost his faith when one of his sons died.  Yet he had a profound impact on my life, and I loved him dearly until the day he died.

My grandfather was not an optimist; he was deeply pessimistic and cynical, some of which I absorbed.  For example, I learned at his knee that the government sometimes lies to us.  One of my earliest memories – I was probably six or seven – was sitting in my grandfather’s living room watching a news anchor report the latest communist body count numbers from Vietnam.  Papa yelled at the TV, “Shaw, shaw, shaw; they’ve killed everyone in North Vietnam three times.”  Decades later we all learned he was right, that the government had grossly inflated those numbers to prop up support for the war.

The atheists who comment in these pages loudly insist that atheists can be good people.  And I have never disagreed with them.  I am not disgusted by atheists as such.  I am disgusted by the cowardly atheists who whistle past the graveyard while refusing to gaze into Nietzsche’s abyss.  A sincere and honest Christian must wrestle with the theodicy.  A sincere and honest atheist must wrestle with despair.

Camus (Kam-oo) was a brave atheist.  And, given his premises, there cannot be the slightest doubt that he was right when he said the only interesting question is whether to kill yourself in the face of the patent absurdity of life without meaning.

Camus would be just as disgusted with the smiley-faced New Atheists as I am.

UPDATE:  Perhaps Camus had read Dostoyevsky.  In The Possessed, the character Kirillov was an atheist and a nihilist.  Shortly before taking his own life Kirillov, says, “I can’t understand how an atheist could know that there is no God and not kill himself on the spot.”  HT: Dick

Here is the Stanford article on Camus for those interested in a more in-depth look at his views.  An excerpt:

“There is only one really serious philosophical problem,” Camus says, “and that is suicide. Deciding whether or not life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question in philosophy. All other questions follow from that” (MS, 3). One might object that suicide is neither a “problem” nor a “question,” but an act. A proper, philosophical question might rather be: “Under what conditions is suicide warranted?” And a philosophical answer might explore the question, “What does it mean to ask whether life is worth living?” as William James did in The Will to Believe. For the Camus of The Myth of Sisyphus, however, “Should I kill myself?” is the essential philosophical question. For him, it seems clear that the primary result of philosophy is action, not comprehension. His concern about “the most urgent of questions” is less a theoretical one than it is the life-and-death problem of whether and how to live.

Camus sees this question of suicide as a natural response to an underlying premise, namely that life is absurd in a variety of ways. As we have seen, both the presence and absence of life (i.e., death) give rise to the condition: it is absurd to continually seek meaning in life when there is none, and it is absurd to hope for some form of continued existence after death given that the latter results in our extinction. But Camus also thinks it absurd to try to know, understand, or explain the world, for he sees the attempt to gain rational knowledge as futile.

61 Replies to “If You are Going to Be an Atheist, at Least be a Courageous Atheist

  1. 1
    Dick says:

    For a couple of examples of atheists willing to take their atheism to its full conclusion go to the url below. As Barry suggests above, it’s pretty bleak:

    http://clearysviewpoint.blogsp.....ilism.html

  2. 2
    chris haynes says:

    Why should an Atheist say that life is absurd?. Meaningless yes, but absurd, not necessarily.

    And why is suicide the proper response to the meaninglessness of life? Wouldn’t a better response be a life of ease and pleasure? Follow the path laid out by the Europeans. Get yourself a cushy nothingburger job, say as a NASA Astrobiologist, with nobody watching how late you come in, and great bennies to milk. Add a hedonistic lifestyle, and make sure there are no kids or anything else that might require more than the minimum of effort. You’ll have lots of company.

  3. 3
    Barry Arrington says:

    Chris at 2.

    You obviously did not read the linked Camus article or even the excerpt in the post. Go back and read them. If you still don’t know the answer to your question, come back and we will talk.

  4. 4
    Latemarch says:

    Barry@3:

    I may be wrong. Often am.
    But I suspect that Chris has his tongue firmly planted in his cheek.

  5. 5
    Barry Arrington says:

    Chris, if Latemarch is correct, I apologize.

  6. 6
    critical rationalist says:

    @Barry,

    You seem to be oblivious to your own philosophical view that life can only have meaning if it was specially created by some creator.

    But that’s a value judgment on your part. Nor does it seem to fit with the idea that ID doesn’t say anything about the designer. Specifically, you seem to find the meaning in what some other creator supposedly had for you.

    But how do you know what the purpose actually is?

    if ID isn’t about the designer, then how do we even know it’s actually achieved its goal, as opposed to ended up with something incomplete? What competence level doe it have? Or perhaps the designer is actually a committee of designers and we’re a series of compromises, in that none of them actually got what they wanted, etc. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

    Also, if the designer wasn’t created for a purpose, why didn’t it think its life was meaningless? Why did it bother creating anything? Or, if it was created for a purpose, why should its purpose be any more important than the purpose we have for the things we create?

    IOW, your belief that only a life that was created for a purpose has value is, in and of itself, a value decision on your part.

    So, value comes from sources which you deem authoritative, which is a philosophical view. Not to mention the problem of having to use reason to identity a supposed authoritative source of meaning, interpreting that source, etc.

    Again, it all comes down to authoritative sources, identifying them and interpreting them.

  7. 7
    critical rationalist says:

    @Barry

    And, if you’re speaking theologically, as opposed to supposedly “scientifically”, you still have the same problem. Identifying a infallible source of meaning, interpreting it, determine when it’s relevant to a specific problem to solve, etc.

  8. 8
    chris haynes says:

    To clarify my thought, its obvious that if Athesism is true, then life has no meaning. Any half-wit can see that. Even me.

    My problem is understanding the idea that one should kill oneself because life had no meaning. Why?

    To those who adhere to Atheism, the only three things you should care about are me, myself and I. But why kill yourself? Why don’t you just milk it for everything you can get? Get a cushy BS job. Be a con man, or maybe an upscale parasite. Perhaps a NASA Astrobiologist. After all, there’s no reason to do anything useful. No need to sacrifice for others, to be courageous, to show virtue.

    Of course, knowledge of the Natural Law is given to all man. Which means Atheists too. As a result Atheists are often nice people, even though they can offer no coherent reason for being such.

  9. 9

    A/mats are mildly entertaining when they make value judgments and then complain about others making value judgments.

    As for life being absurd under the a/mat banner, I recommend books and videos by William Lane Craig, Ravi Zacharias, and Dennis Prager. All moral judgments are absurd under the a/mat faith. Even a/mats know this… but rarely admit it.

  10. 10

    Dick @ 1: Thanks for sharing that link.

  11. 11
    Seversky says:

    What does it mean to say life has meaning? If it is that we were created for a purpose in the mind of the creator then meaning is whatever an intelligent agent decides. So if God can choose a purpose/meaning then why can’t we?

    You assume that if the Universe – which includes us – were created for a purpose then it must be for the benefit of humanity. Yet the suffering and evil in this world and the unremitting hostility of the vast majority Universe to life as we know it would suggest otherwise.

    You ask why don’t atheists commit suicide out of despair at the hopelessness of it all? Very simple, if this life is the only one we get then why not enjoy it to the full while we can?

    In fact, you can turn the question around. I remember a line from the only novel written by Winston Churchill when he was a young. In it, the hero is quoted as saying – I can’t remember the exact words – something along the lines of “If I really thought there were life after death then I would kill myself out of irresistible curiosity.” So why don’t you? Why suffer here unnecessarily?

    As for the nonsense about natural moral law or objective morality, who cares about how we behave towards each other except ourselves? The Universe? Unless you are buying into the conscious Universe idea, it doesn’t care about us one way or the other. It’s not capable of it. If we were created but we are not working out as the Creator intended then why bother with some embedded moral force when it is only marginally effective? Why not just wipe the slate clean and start afresh? God did it with the Great Flood so apparently He has no qualms about mass biocide when it suits his purpose.

    As an a/mat I believe that the natural world is all there is. We only have limited access to it through our senses and we have only been able to build up a limited stock of knowledge about it in the brief time we’ve been investigating it. I suspect we have only scratched the surface of the true nature of reality. I would love to know what humanity will know a thousand years from now. That isn’t going to happen but it doesn’t stop me being curious. I see no compelling reason to believe in the God of Christianity or any other faith but I can’t absolutely rule one out. When it comes right down to it all we have in the first instance are each other so that’s where we should start. If we can’t make a go of things on our own then maybe there is no hope for us.

  12. 12
    ET says:

    What does it mean to say life has meaning? If it is that we were created for a purpose in the mind of the creator then meaning is whatever an intelligent agent decides. So if God can choose a purpose/meaning then why can’t we?

    You can choose a purpose/ meaning. Yours doesn’t transcend your life. Yours may or may not be for the common good.

    You assume that if the Universe – which includes us – were created for a purpose then it must be for the benefit of humanity.

    Not necessarily. What we would want/ need to do is determine that purpose. Of course we would all hope it would be for some benefit and hopefully for us.

    Yet the suffering and evil in this world and the unremitting hostility of the vast majority Universe to life as we know it would suggest otherwise.

    It is how we deal with such things that we will be judged. In a perfect world there isn’t any impetus for learning. “Vaal hungers” isn’t the type of world I want to be part of.

    As an a/mat I believe that the natural world is all there is.

    Good for you. Your faith is very, very strong as you don’t have any evidence to support it.

  13. 13
    J-Mac says:

    “If You are Going to Be an Atheist, at Least be a Courageous Atheist

    I’d say the same should apply to Christians:

    If You are Going to Be an Christian, at Least be a Courageous Christian.

    What I mean by that is, if a Christian can’t face the reality because his Christian faith prevents him from doing so, he or she is a coward, the same way an atheists is a coward who can’t face the reality of his beliefs…

    So, Barry’s formula should equally apply to both systems of belief and not just one, as he suggests because of his obvious bias…

  14. 14
    Aeneas Pietas says:

    Well, you know what they say: there is never an atheist in a foxhole.

  15. 15
    J-Mac says:

    I’d say Billy Graham was one of those cowards who knew what was right; what he should be doing but never got around to do it because his influential friends would have been disappointed with his actions… If you choose friendship with the politician over the friendship with the Lord, how can you expect to be in the presence of the Lord after you die, if you betrayed the Lord?

    I may not be a smart man, but I know where Billy’s love was…

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    Whether or not atheists have the courage to ‘gaze into Nietzsche’s abyss’, the hopelessness inherent to the atheist’s worldview still rears its ugly head and, regardless, still takes its toll on their life:

    “I maintain that whatever else faith may be, it cannot be a delusion.
    The advantageous effect of religious belief and spirituality on mental and physical health is one of the best-kept secrets in psychiatry and medicine generally. If the findings of the huge volume of research on this topic had gone in the opposite direction and it had been found that religion damages your mental health, it would have been front-page news in every newspaper in the land.”
    – Professor Andrew Sims former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists – Is Faith Delusion?: Why religion is good for your health – preface
    https://books.google.com/books?id=PREdCgAAQBAJ&pg=PR11#v=onepage&q&f=false
    “In the majority of studies, religious involvement is correlated with well-being, happiness and life satisfaction; hope and optimism; purpose and meaning in life; higher self-esteem; better adaptation to bereavement; greater social support and less loneliness; lower rates of depression and faster recovery from depression; lower rates of suicide and fewer positive attitudes towards suicide; less anxiety; less psychosis and fewer psychotic tendencies; lower rates of alcohol and drug use and abuse; less delinquency and criminal activity; greater marital stability and satisfaction… We concluded that for the vast majority of people the apparent benefits of devout belief and practice probably outweigh the risks.”
    – Professor Andrew Sims former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists – Is Faith Delusion?: Why religion is good for your health – page 100
    https://books.google.com/books?id=PREdCgAAQBAJ&pg=PA100#v=onepage&q&f=false

    Atheism and health
    A meta-analysis of all studies, both published and unpublished, relating to religious involvement and longevity was carried out in 2000. Forty-two studies were included, involving some 126,000 subjects. Active religious involvement increased the chance of living longer by some 29%, and participation in public religious practices, such as church attendance, increased the chance of living longer by 43%.[4][5]
    http://www.conservapedia.com/Atheism_and_health

    Can attending church really help you live longer? This study says yes – June 1, 2017
    Excerpt: Specifically, the study says those middle-aged adults who go to church, synagogues, mosques or other houses of worship reduce their mortality risk by 55%. The Plos One journal published the “Church Attendance, Allostatic Load and Mortality in Middle Aged Adults” study May 16.
    “For those who did not attend church at all, they were twice as likely to die prematurely than those who did who attended church at some point over the last year,” Bruce said.
    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/06/02/can-attending-church-really-help-you-live-longer-study-says-yes/364375001/

    Of snakebites and suicide – February 18, 2014
    RESULTS: Religiously unaffiliated subjects had significantly more lifetime suicide attempts and more first-degree relatives who committed suicide than subjects who endorsed a religious affiliation.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....d-suicide/

  17. 17
    J-Mac says:

    On related note: The rate of abortions in so-called Christian countries has skyrocketed. Who should be blamed?
    The Christians who have too much sex but can’t afford to raise the family of too many kids?
    How about the Church that insists that contraceptives are the curse from Satan?

    BTW: There are thousands of villages in Africa where there are no adults because they all died of HIV. If the Church allowed the use of condoms, the majority would have been saved.
    I think the Lord must have been proud of those Christians that stuck to the Church dogma rather God’s command to value human life…

  18. 18
    Latemarch says:

    Re: J-Mac

    Luke 6:22,23 (NET)

    “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and insult you and reject you as evil on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and jump for joy, because your reward is great in heaven. For their ancestors did the same things to the prophets.”

    On related note: The rate of abortions in so-called Christian countries has skyrocketed. Who should be blamed?
    The Christians who have too much sex but can’t afford to raise the family of too many kids?
    How about the Church that insists that contraceptives are the curse from Satan?

    It’s not the Christians having abortions.
    And hardly anyone pays attention to the teachings of the Catholic Church on contraception.

    BTW: There are thousands of villages in Africa where there are no adults because they all died of HIV. If the Church allowed the use of condoms, the majority would have been saved.

    As if you had even the vaguest notion of the root causes of the HIV epidemic in Africa.

    Would it be too much to ask you to educate yourself?

  19. 19
    J-Mac says:

    Latemarch,

    So, do you deny the prohibition to use contraceptives, such as condoms, by the Holy See?

  20. 20
    Latemarch says:

    J-Mac@19

    So, do you deny the prohibition to use contraceptives, such as condoms, by the Holy See?

    No. What I deny is that it has anything to do with why they refuse to use condoms.
    Did you know that they believe that HIV can be cured by deflowering a virgin?

  21. 21
    J-Mac says:

    @20 Latemarch,

    Why would religious people use condoms, if hell fire is supposedly awaiting them for doing so? Can you see the contradiction?

  22. 22
    J-Mac says:

    “Did you know that they believe that HIV can be cured by deflowering a virgin?”

    Could using a condom help?

  23. 23
    Latemarch says:

    J-Mac@21

    It’s estimated from various polls that world wide about 85% of Catholics use birth control. That includes Africa though the percent there is probably somewhat lower. Apparently that teaching from the Church is not very effective nor believed.

    I’m not Catholic and have no love loss towards the Catholic church. Happy to lay problems that they cause at their feet but in the case of HIV in Africa it’s not rampant because of the Catholic Church or their stance on condoms. Catholics only make up 16% of sub-Saharan Africa of which at least 70% are happy to use condoms. Not that influential one way or the other in the HIV epidemic.

  24. 24
    Seversky says:

    Aeneas Pietas @ 14

    Well, you know what they say: there is never an atheist in a foxhole

    Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers

  25. 25
    Origenes says:

    My problem is understanding the idea that one should kill oneself because life had no meaning. Why?

    Life having no meaning is only a minor problem. That is, if I were an atheist, the non-existence of rationality, fee will and personhood would be a more prominent reason for acute depression.

  26. 26
  27. 27
    Molson Bleu says:

    “On related note: The rate of abortions in so-called Christian countries has skyrocketed. Who should be blamed?”

    Actually, abortion rates have been declining. Is it because people are increasingly only having sex for procreation purposes? Not bloody likely. Or is it because more Christians are doing what I chose to do decades ago and not listen to the priest about birth control?

    Christianity, like any other faith, is greatly affected by those who find themselves in positions of power within their respective religious denomination. The world would be a much better place if followers were more courageous and questioned what they were being told “as gospel” by their leaders.

  28. 28
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    Life having no meaning is only a minor problem. That is, if I were an atheist, the non-existence of rationality, fee will and personhood would be a more prominent reason for acute depression.

    Except you’d have to add the assumption that reason and rationality comes from authoritative sources. That’s a philosophical assumption we do not share.

    IOW, you’re projecting your problem on me.

  29. 29
    critical rationalist says:

    “On related note: The rate of abortions in so-called Christian countries has skyrocketed. Who should be blamed?”

    Unless something is prohibited by the laws of physics, the only thing that would prevent us from achieving it is knowing how.

    This would include the knowledge of how to transfer embryos into women who cannot conceive to build artificial wombs that could bring them to term for adoption for parents who cannot have children of their own.

    IOW, we don’t need a miracle. We just need the knowledge of how to make the necessary transformations.

    Does God possess this knowledge? If so, it seems that it would be simple for him to provide us this moral knowledge, as he supposedly provides other moral knowledge.

    What gives?

  30. 30
    LocalMinimum says:

    critical rationalist @ 29:

    You say that as if people haven’t described human fetuses as “clumps of cells” and “simple as a potato”, where people run puppy mills.

    You’re assuming we wouldn’t have buildings full of growing embryos that get poured into the trash like surplus milk at the end of the season.

    Technology doesn’t solve morality.

  31. 31
    groovamos says:

    c. r. But how do you know what the purpose actually is?

    Thank you for that. A perfectly succinct summary of the dilemma of the materialist. A dilemma as mind set which requires a certain psychological state as prerequisite. At the risk of oversimplification, such a mind set can be simply described as fear. The fear is existential and is fear of our source or more properly our Source and our future encounter with. How can one have a deep intuitive feeling of one’s purpose in such a state?

    A personal note. My life has been a double decker sandwich of two periods of materialist fundamentalism sandwiched between the typical universal early childhood belief, a middle period of interest in mysticism and and current dualist interest in transpersonal psychology. My second materialistic period (ca. age 28) saw infrequent lapses into dope smoking which sometimes led me into a metaphysical terror based on a perceived inevitable annihilation of my being. Such an existence was not bound to last, and ended at age 32 with a realization that my stance was not sustainable, along with a sudden personal interest in studying the literature regarding psychedelic therapy and its corroboration of what Aldous Huxley called the “perennial philosophy” at the core of all traditions.

    You know what? for several days after regaining belief in my own immutable core being, I literally perceived a cosmic host rejoicing at my return to the path of sanity. Pretty remarkable for someone just a few days before a committed atheist.

    Here is how Grof puts it, when materialists confront in themselves the cosmic implications of a shattering encounter with birth and death in deep experiential psychotherapy (sometimes with the aid of psychedelics):

    “The individual comes to realize, through these [perinatal] experiences, that no matter what he does in his life, he cannot escape the inevitable; he will have to leave this world bereft of everything that he has accumulated and achieved and to which he has been emotionally attached. The similarity between birth and death – the startling realization that the beginning of life is the same as its end – is the major philosophical issue that accompanies the perinatal experiences. The other important consequence of the shocking emotional and physical encounter with the phenomenon of death is the opening up of areas of spiritual and religious experiences that appear to be an intrinsic part of the human personality and are independent of the individual’s cultural and religious background and programming. In my experience, everyone who has reached these levels develops convincing insights into the utmost relevance of the spiritual and religious dimensions in the universal scheme of things. Even hard-core materialists, positively oriented scientists, skeptics and cynics, and uncompromising Marxist philosophers suddenly became interested in a spiritual search after they confronted these levels in themselves.” (Realms Of The Human Unconscious pp 95-96)

    Note the important phrase “an intrinsic part of the human personality”

    In other words materialists due to their perceived involuntary psychology, have cut themselves off from an intrinsic part of their being and cannot help but post questions like the one above by Critical Rationalist.

  32. 32
    critical rationalist says:

    @chris haynes

    To clarify my thought, its obvious that if Athesism is true, then life has no meaning. Any half-wit can see that. Even me.

    And it seems obvious to the ancient Greeks that if they left an infant outside to die due to exposure, that wasn’t infanticide. Does that seem obvious to us now?

  33. 33
    critical rationalist says:

    @local minimum

    You say that as if people haven’t described human fetuses as “clumps of cells” and “simple as a potato”, where people run puppy mills.

    Currently we have a limited number of options. If we had that knowledge, we’d have significantly better options. Vastly better options. With the right knowledge, it could be done cheaply and efficiently. Possibly in the time it takes to have an abortion.

    You say that as if I’m a utopian. Problems are inevitable, but solvable.

    Ansswers lead to better problems to solve, which lead to even better problems to solve, etc.

    You’re assuming we wouldn’t have buildings full of growing embryos that get poured into the trash like surplus milk at the end of the season.

    Have you done research on the number of abortions and number of adoptions? How many people cannot conceive?

    Again, it’s a matter of knowledge.

    Technology doesn’t solve morality.

    .

    What is the purpose of morality if not to help better solve moral problem? Is it some kind of test or a way to determine if we go to the good place or the bad place?

  34. 34
    critical rationalist says:

    @groovamos

    Thank you for that. A perfectly succinct summary of the dilemma of the materialist.

    I’m referring to the epistemological question of “how do you know what the purpose of the designer actually was?” You, here refers to you, being the ID proponent, not me, being the non-theist.

    How can one have a deep intuitive feeling of one’s purpose in such a state?

    Why should anyone’s intuition be a good source of knowledge about some supposed external designer’s purpose? How does intuition overcome the issues of competence, compromise, etc.?
    If we start out with conjectures, which we then criticize in an attempting to discard errors, how do you find errors in your intuition?

    IOW, it seems to me that reason comes first for both of us. This is because any such source must be identified and interpreted. If you take that seriously, you must use reason to determine when it’s applicable, etc. And that causes you to act in a way that is equivalent to not believing the inability of any such source.

    In other words materialists due to their perceived involuntary psychology, have cut themselves off from an intrinsic part of their being and cannot help but post questions like the one above by Critical Rationalist.

    I always find it particularly odd that, when I try to take ID proponents seriously, they end claiming I’m somehow “not open” to the possibilities. But that’s my point. Apparently, I’m more open about the possibilities of ID’s designer than they are. At which point, their conclusions don’t follow.

    And we’re the ones that lack imagination?

  35. 35
    JVL says:

    There is no meaning.

    Um, from your perspective I suppose. That doesn’t mean an atheist doesn’t see and experience meaning. Don’t you think it’s very theist-centric to only take meaning from your view of a ‘god’.

    There is no foundation for ethics.

    Again, your view. I think there are ways of creating ethical systems without a deity. If I’m right, and there is no deity, then your ethics has been completely created by humans.

    Everything you do is utterly determined by impersonal natural forces, so free will cannot exist.

    Hmmm . . . . . I think there is plenty of room for some kind of ‘free will’ even in a materialistic universe.

    Indeed, even “you” cannot exist, because the most primordial of your experiences – your subjective self-awareness – is an illusion.

    I know what some scientists say about self-awareness but I think it’s too early to close the book on the subject.

    I don’t understand your continual attacks on atheists on a blog supposedly created as a forum about Intelligent Design. Since you haven’t been clear I’ve always taken the view that (if the Intelligent Designer was some advanced alien being) Intelligent Design is not incompatible with atheism.

    If you’re going to insist that the intelligent designer was the Christian God then you’re talking about theology and not science. So, which is it?

  36. 36
    Barry Arrington says:

    JVL @ 35:

    Barry: There is no meaning.

    JVL: Um, from your perspective I suppose. That doesn’t mean an atheist doesn’t see and experience meaning. Don’t you think it’s very theist-centric to only take meaning from your view of a ‘god’.

    Of course, A-Mats see and experience meaning just like everyone else. Yet, on their premises, there is no meaning for them to see and experience. See here for why that is the case.

    So they see and experience something that, on their premises, they should not be able to see and experience. That would cause any rational person to reject their premises as false. Yet they don’t. Because they value their commitment to philosophical materialism more than they value rationality.

    Barry: There is no foundation for ethics.

    JVL: Again, your view.

    And the view of every single prominent A-Mat. Check Provine, Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Rosenbert. JVL, you really should get out more; you don’t seem to know what your own side says about the subject.

    JVL: I think there are ways of creating ethical systems without a deity.

    Of course there are. And they all, by definition, share this in common: They are grounded in subjective preference determined by evolutionary forces – i.e., no foundation at all.

    JVL: If I’m right, and there is no deity, then your ethics has been completely created by humans.

    That is true. In fact, that is the very point I made stated in another way. I am beginning to suspect that you don’t understand the implications of your own metaphysics.

    Barry: Everything you do is utterly determined by impersonal natural forces, so free will cannot exist.

    JVL: Hmmm . . . . . I think there is plenty of room for some kind of ‘free will’ even in a materialistic universe.

    That you think that means, again, that you run from the conclusions compelled by your premises. You are exactly the kind of atheist I have in mind in the OP.

    Let me spell it out for you. The materialist believes, by definition, that nothing exists but particles and the impersonal natural forces that move them. Therefore, the category “particles and the impersonal natural forces that move them” exhausts the possible causes for all phenomena. It follows that for any given action the collection of particles called “JVL” takes, that action was utterly determined by impersonal natural forces. Therefore, JVL has no free will.

    Again, all prominent materialists reach this conclusion (Dennett, Dawkins, Harris, etc.). That you resist it means only that you want your theistic cake with its free will icing and you want to eat it too. In other words, you don’t have sufficient courage to face the conclusions compelled by your premises.

    Barry: Indeed, even “you” cannot exist, because the most primordial of your experiences – your subjective self-awareness – is an illusion.

    JVL I know what some scientists say about self-awareness but I think it’s too early to close the book on the subject.

    I presume you cannot give any reason for thinking those scientists’ conclusions are premature, else you would have given it. Again, you blindly reject the conclusions compelled by your premises, because you don’t have the courage to face them.

    JVL: I don’t understand your continual attacks on atheists on a blog supposedly created as a forum about Intelligent Design.

    Read the OP again. Perhaps you missed this part: “I am not disgusted by atheists as such. I am disgusted by the cowardly atheists who whistle past the graveyard while refusing to gaze into Nietzsche’s abyss.”

    You are simply wrong. I did not attack atheists as such. In fact, I specifically said there have been atheists I have respected and loved.

    Again, I despise not atheists as such. I despise atheists like you, who want to espouse atheism but don’t have the guts to accept the conclusions absolutely compelled by their premises.

    JVL: Since you haven’t been clear I’ve always taken the view that (if the Intelligent Designer was some advanced alien being) Intelligent Design is not incompatible with atheism.

    At a certain level it is not, which has been explained many times. That you have missed (or, more likely, ignored) all of those explanations is no one’s fault but your own.

    JVL: If you’re going to insist that the intelligent designer was the Christian God then you’re talking about theology and not science. So, which is it?

    Read the OP again. Did I insist that ID theory posits that the intelligent designer was the Christian God? Let me answer that for you. No.

    JVL, the OP does not even discuss ID theory. It discusses cowardly atheists who tuck their tails and run from the conclusions compelled by the premises of the metaphysical materialism that almost always comes with atheism — atheists like you JVL.

  37. 37
    Allen Shepherd says:

    I lived in Africa for several years during the 80’s. Condom use was not based Catholic teaching, as there were not that many, but a significant few.

    One African told me using a condom was like taking a shower with a rain coat on. I could understand the analogy! The meaning was clear.

  38. 38
    EricMH says:

    It’s funny when people blame the Catholic Church for social ills when so few Catholics follow its teachings.

  39. 39
    J-Mac says:

    EricMH,

    It’s funny when people blame the Catholic Church for social ills when so few Catholics follow its teachings

    I have to agree with you on this…

    If all or the great majority of Catholics followed at least the fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church, such as the 7th commandment, none or few condoms would be needed…

    Since the great majority of Catholic “leaders” don’t seem to believe in the teachings of their own church, what should be expected of their followers?

  40. 40
    LocalMinimum says:

    CR @ 33:

    Your argument is predicated on the idea that we’d take the moral route, and do what good can be done with the technology, and not the evil.

    I was not pointing to deficiencies in your moral approach given the technology, I was pointing to the equal immorality such technology can enable.

    What keeps us from building embryo farms and doing whatever terrible/profitable thing we want with the “product”? Technology enables this. Morality is the only thing preventing it.

    What is the purpose of morality if not to help better solve moral problem? Is it some kind of test or a way to determine if we go to the good place or the bad place?

    What a strange statement. If you had said, “What is the purpose of technology if not to help better solve moral problem?”, it would have been comforting, if naive sounding. To determine if we go to the good place or the bad place? How about to make the place we’re at better rather than worse for ourselves and our fellow inhabitants?

  41. 41

    J-mac @ 15: A/mats are cowards when they preach their a/mat faith as if it has some redeeming social value, which it doesn’t. Stop faking. You act and live as if life has ultimate meaning and value, but there are no such things in a/mat faith-based philosophy.

    You are delusional, and you are the real coward. Stop lying to yourself. Embrace your a/mat nihllism.

  42. 42
    J-Mac says:

    Truth Will Set You Free

    J-mac @ 15: A/mats are cowards when they preach their a/mat faith as if it has some redeeming social value, which it doesn’t. Stop faking. You act and live as if life has ultimate meaning and value, but there are no such things in a/mat faith-based philosophy.

    You are delusional, and you are the real coward. Stop lying to yourself. Embrace your a/mat nihllism.

    O’RLY?

    Well, I think the only way out of this for you is that you are going to have to prove your claim…

    I hope you live up to your name Truth Will Set You Free… Otherwise I’d suggest you change your name to Falsehood Will Set You Up…

  43. 43
    JVL says:

    Of course, A-Mats see and experience meaning just like everyone else. Yet, on their premises, there is no meaning for them to see and experience.

    I disagree.

    So they see and experience something that, on their premises, they should not be able to see and experience. That would cause any rational person to reject their premises as false. Yet they don’t. Because they value their commitment to philosophical materialism more than they value rationality.

    You frequently assert that but I disagree. The fact that meaning may be a human construct does not preclude it’s being perceived.

    And the view of every single prominent A-Mat. Check Provine, Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Rosenbert. JVL, you really should get out more; you don’t seem to know what your own side says about the subject.

    I have no obligation to any of those people and IF that’s what they’re saying then I disagree with them.

    Of course there are. And they all, by definition, share this in common: They are grounded in subjective preference determined by evolutionary forces – i.e., no foundation at all.

    Again, your opinion. I don’t happen to think it’s all due to evolutionary forces although some animals seem to have a sense of fair play. As I said, if there is no god then it’s all man made. What would that say about your perception? Would you be delusional then?

    That you think that means, again, that you run from the conclusions compelled by your premises. You are exactly the kind of atheist I have in mind in the OP.

    It means I don’t think materialistic is the same thing as deterministic.

    Again, all prominent materialists reach this conclusion (Dennett, Dawkins, Harris, etc.). That you resist it means only that you want your theistic cake with its free will icing and you want to eat it too. In other words, you don’t have sufficient courage to face the conclusions compelled by your premises.

    Well I have heard Daniel Dennett discuss free will and I don’t think you’ve summarised his view correctly.

    I don’t know if we have free will. I know it feels like we do. And I act as if I do, i.e. I take responsibility for my actions. For example, I try not to hurt other people because I know what it feels like and I don’t want others to suffer. The Golden Rule works as a pretty good starting point for a system of ethics and has been around a lot longer than Christianity.

    I presume you cannot give any reason for thinking those scientists’ conclusions are premature, else you would have given it. Again, you blindly reject the conclusions compelled by your premises, because you don’t have the courage to face them.

    I think all scientific opinions are conditional and (mostly) temporary. And, since there is ongoing research in the field then they can’t have figured it all out.

    You are simply wrong. I did not attack atheists as such. In fact, I specifically said there have been atheists I have respected and loved.

    That’s very considerate of you since you clearly think that they think you’re delusional.

    Again, I despise not atheists as such. I despise atheists like you, who want to espouse atheism but don’t have the guts to accept the conclusions absolutely compelled by their premises.

    And I reject your categorisation of what some atheists believe.

    Did I insist that ID theory posits that the intelligent designer was the Christian God? Let me answer that for you. No.

    IF the great unknown and undetected designer was an alien being then that kind of damages anything other than a rather severe form of theistic evolution if you want to still believe in Gad. Since you’re not a theistic evolutionist then you do not believe that the designer was an alien being. Correct? Which means you’ve already jumped to a conclusion without sufficient evidence. I think.

  44. 44
    Origenes says:

    CR@

    Origenes: … if I were an atheist, the non-existence of rationality, fee will and personhood would be a more prominent reason for acute depression.

    CR: Except you’d have to add the assumption that reason and rationality comes from authoritative sources.

    Nonsense. I would never suggest that that reason and rationality comes from authoritative sources. Who in his right mind would? Rationality must necessarily come from within. For X to be rational, it cannot be the case that rationality comes from a source external from X — authoritative or otherwise. A rational X is not a sock-puppet.
    Instead, my simple point is that an atheistic materialistic world cannot house rationality, free will and personhood. As Barry Arrington points out:

    … the materialist believes, by definition, that nothing exists but particles and the impersonal natural forces that move them. Therefore, the category “particles and the impersonal natural forces that move them” exhausts the possible causes for all phenomena.

    “Particles and the impersonal natural forces that move them” are not rational, not free and not personal. No matter how you arrange blind particles, they will never be rational, free and/or personal. Therefore an atheistic materialistic world cannot house rationality, free will and personhood.

  45. 45
    EricMH says:

    @BA, You might despise them, but it is entirely consistent with atheism to just make up whatever meaning feels good and be entirely inconsistent in ones’ reasoning. Hence, postmodernism.

  46. 46
    critical rationalist says:

    For X to be rational, it cannot be the case that rationality comes from a source external from X — authoritative or otherwise. A rational X is not a sock-puppet.

    You misinterpreted what I meant by authoritative source. You exhibit rationality because some authoritative source wants you to. You are not a sock puppet because some authoritative source wants you to be otherwise. In the absence of such a source to endow it, there can be no rationality.

    So, in this sense, rationality comes from authoritative sources.

    … the materialist believes, by definition, that nothing exists but particles and the impersonal natural forces that move them. Therefore, the category “particles and the impersonal natural forces that move them” exhausts the possible causes for all phenomena.

    Yes. If you define materialism as excluding rationality, then being such a materialist would, well, exclude rationality. That’s basically a tautology. However, I’d suggest that’s a rather impoverished definition of materialism.

    To use an example, there are no non-physical computers. However computers have made the leap to universality in that they can run any algorithm that any other universal computer can run. When an explanation resolves itself in a higher level of simplicity, that is quasi-indpendednt by nature of being nearly self contained, this is emergence. The existence of this sort of explanation doesn’t require some kind of non-material realm.

    This sort of false dichotomy contributes to the sort of nihilism that people here claim to be against. Apparently, they don’t realize that they play a significant part in perpetuating it.

    This thread actively serves to perpetuate it by suggesting if we don’t accept the belief that some knowledge is subject to criticism then there can be no knowledge, including moral knowledge. That doesn’t solve problems, it perpetuates them.

  47. 47
    critical rationalist says:

    @LM

    Your argument is predicated on the idea that we’d take the moral route, and do what good can be done with the technology, and not the evil.

    No, It’s not. We’re the ones that have to choose. That doesn’t change. My argument is, unless prohibited by the laws of physics, the only thing that would prevent us from achieving a win-win scenario in the case of unwanted pregnancies is knowing how.

    Right now we don’t possess it And, if we take theism seriously for the purpose of criticism, God would possess this knowledge but has chosen not to share it with us. So, we cannot make that choice, should we choose to.

    So, from my perspective, “the evil” is the absence of knowledge or actively preventing the growth of knowledge. Suggesting something is immune to criticism does just that: prevents the correction of errors.

    Moral knowledge is relevant in the context of solving concrete moral problems, as opposed to existing independent of them in some abstract sense. That’s because moral problems are what we actually face and they have concrete impact on the outcome.

    Example? The problem of unwanted or dangerous pregnancies. This is a concrete problem in that the woman finds herself with two choices: An abortion or carrying the child to term, then giving it up for adoption. It’s a woman’s body, so it’s her choice. Now she has another choice with what to do with her body.

    Note that, the supposed evils you’re referring to could be done with a natural womb as much as an artificial womb. The key difference is that the woman doesn’t have to actually cary the child inside her body, which is one of the primary reason why abortions occur. it could be transferred to anther woman who couldn’t conceive, or even to an artificial womb, so it could be adopted. Or the woman might find she was mistaken about what she wanted and decide to keep the child after all.

    Those are options she currently do not have. That would change the landscape dramatically.

    Parents who want children will have options they wouldn’t have had otherwise, because they would have been aborted. Right?

    And, if the process can be developed in a way that sufficiently emulates a normal development process, including interactions with the mother, etc., all births many transition to using artificial wombs in the future, including those that were planned.

    Again, nothing would prevent the evils you refer to then, either.

    We still have to choose what we want. But when faced with moral problems to solve, we can have better choices that allow for better outcomes for everyone. And even the option to find out we may have been mistaken about what we wanted. That’s because, we guess what we want and then criticize our guesses.

    What a strange statement. If you had said, “What is the purpose of technology if not to help better solve moral problem?”, it would have been comforting, if naive sounding.

    Moral knowledge grows like all other knowledge. In the same sense, it probably seemed strange to have one law of motion for both apples and planets, when gravity was unified by Newton.

    How about to make the place we’re at better rather than worse for ourselves and our fellow inhabitants?

    We wake up every day and have to make choices. We must solve moral problems. And our actions effect others. Regardless, it’s still us that must choose.

  48. 48
    john_a_designer says:

    This is an excerpt from Jean Paul Sartre’s 1946 lecture on existentialism.

    The existentialist… finds it extremely embarrassing that God does not exist, for there disappears with Him all possibility of finding values in an intelligible heaven. There can no longer be any good a priori, since there is no infinite and perfect consciousness to think it. It is nowhere written that “the good” exists, that one must be honest or must not lie, since we are now upon the plane where there are only men. Dostoevsky once wrote: “If God did not exist, everything would be permitted”; and that, for existentialism, is the starting point. Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist, and man is in consequence forlorn, for he cannot find anything to depend upon either within or outside himself. He discovers forthwith, that he is without excuse. For if indeed existence precedes essence, one will never be able to explain one’s action by reference to a given and specific human nature; in other words, there is no determinism – man is free, man is freedom. Nor, on the other hand, if God does not exist, are we provided with any values or commands that could legitimise our behaviour. Thus we have neither behind us, nor before us in a luminous realm of values, any means of justification or excuse. – We are left alone, without excuse. That is what I mean when I say that man is condemned to be free. Condemned, because he did not create himself, yet is nevertheless at liberty, and from the moment that he is thrown into this world he is responsible for everything he does. The existentialist does not believe in the power of passion. He will never regard a grand passion as a destructive torrent upon which a man is swept into certain actions as by fate, and which, therefore, is an excuse for them. He thinks that man is responsible for his passion. Neither will an existentialist think that a man can find help through some sign being vouchsafed upon earth for his orientation: for he thinks that the man himself interprets the sign as he chooses. He thinks that every man, without any support or help whatever, is condemned at every instant to invent man. As Ponge has written in a very fine article, “Man is the future of man.” That is exactly true. Only, if one took this to mean that the future is laid up in Heaven, that God knows what it is, it would be false, for then it would no longer even be a future. If, however, it means that, whatever man may now appear to be, there is a future to be fashioned, a virgin future that awaits him – then it is a true saying. But in the present one is forsaken.

    I agree with Sartre on a number of points, not because I am an atheist but because I think Sartre is courageous enough to be intellectually honest about the implications of an atheistic world view. Let’s highlight just a few of his points:

    ”There can no longer be any good a priori, since there is no infinite and perfect consciousness to think it. It is nowhere written that “the good” exists, that one must be honest or must not lie… “

    Let me quote myself [again]. This is something I have said before more than a couple of different times on a couple of different threads:

    I try to avoid getting involved in discussions or debates with any of our regular interlocutors because I don’t believe they are being intellectually or ethically honest. The logic here is really very basic and straightforward: If there are no true interpersonal moral standards or obligations how can we trust anything anyone says or asserts? I don’t think that we can. To have an honest discussion or debate you need some kind of interpersonal, or “transcendent,” standard of truth and honesty– even if it’s a traditional or some kind of “conventional” standard. Why would I trust somebody else’s subjective standard for honesty and truth when he starts out by arguing there is no standard of truth or honesty?

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/why-do-atheists-deny-objective-morality/#comment-648525

    In other words, telling the truth and being honest only makes sense if there is an objective standard of truth and honesty. That’s a self-evident truth, therefore, any viable system of morality must be based on the fact that there really is moral truth.

    ”Dostoevsky once wrote: “If God did not exist, everything would be permitted”; and that, for existentialism, is the starting point. Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist, and man is in consequence forlorn, for he cannot find anything to depend upon either within or outside himself.”

    How could we have a functioning society if this is true? Well maybe we could if we were governed by a tyrannical strongman. However, only he would be free– in fact, to rule ruthlessly and cruelly because there is nothing really wrong with cruelty and ruthlessness. Indeed, he could always argue that cruelty is necessary to maintain “justice” and order. You can’t say that that kind of government doesn’t work. Just look at North Korea. What are Kim Jong-un’s beliefs? Who is he accountable to?

    If that’s true democracy only works because we have been somehow deluded into thinking that universal human rights actually exist. Is that what human right are reduced to, a delusion?

    ”Nor, on the other hand, if God does not exist, are we provided with any values or commands that could legitimise our behaviour. Thus we have neither behind us, nor before us in a luminous realm of values, any means of justification or excuse. – We are left alone, without excuse. That is what I mean when I say that man is condemned to be free. Condemned, because he did not create himself, yet is nevertheless at liberty, and from the moment that he is thrown into this world he is responsible for everything he does.”

    Here is the fatal flaw in Sartre’s thinking. Under naturalism/materialism (where an atheist must begin) there is no basis for any kind of free will, therefore, there can be no such thing as personal freedom and responsibility.

    Please note, these are not Barry’s beliefs about atheism. These are a well know an influential atheist’ beliefs about atheism.

  49. 49

    JAD @ 48: Excellent comment. Well done. Sadly, there seems to be a shortage of such honest a/mats in today’s world. They are fakers. Claiming atheism/materialism but refusing to accept the implications that come with it.

    It is hard to find honest a/mats these days.

  50. 50
    JVL says:

    We wake up every day and have to make choices. We must solve moral problems. And our actions effect others. Regardless, it’s still us that must choose.

    Our actions AFFECT others. It’s not that hard folks.

  51. 51
    JVL says:

    Since you’re not a theistic evolutionist then you do not believe that the designer was an alien being. Correct?

    I clearly got that wrong. Sigh. My apologies.

  52. 52
    Origenes says:

    CR@

    Origenes: For X to be rational, it cannot be the case that rationality comes from a source external from X — authoritative or otherwise. A rational X is not a sock-puppet.

    CR: You misinterpreted what I meant by authoritative source. You exhibit rationality because some authoritative source wants you to.

    I exhibit rationality because I want to – freedom. Not because some authoritative source wants me to.

    CR: You are not a sock puppet because some authoritative source wants you to be otherwise. In the absence of such a source to endow it, there can be no rationality. So, in this sense, rationality comes from authoritative sources.

    You do not understand. Again, rationality can only come from within — from freedom. Not from any external source. God as an ultimate explanation of my existence does not preclude that I am the sole authority of my thoughts. I am perfectly free to think whatever I want.

    CR: If you define materialism as excluding rationality, then being such a materialist would, well, exclude rationality.

    Nonsense, I do not define materialism as excluding rationality. I define materialism as what it is and consequently I point out that rationality cannot be accommodated by it.

    … I’d suggest that’s a rather impoverished definition of materialism.
    To use an example, … computers. … emergence.

    Irrelevant to rationality. Computers only execute orders given by intelligent designers.

  53. 53
    Eugen says:

    J Mac:

    Seversky is an atheist

    Seversky expresses his position eloquently

    Seversky is smart

    Be like Seversky

  54. 54
    critical rationalist says:

    @JAD

    The existentialist… finds it extremely embarrassing that God does not exist, for there disappears with Him all possibility of finding values in an intelligible heaven.

    From this essay on rationalism…

    The Dogmatic Structure

    Popper identified an authoritarian strand at the heart of Western epistemology in a paper delivered to the Royal Society in 1960 and reprinted as the Introduction to Conjectures and Refutations. In this paper he set out to resolve some aspects of the dispute between the British and the Continental schools of philosophy. The British school insisted that the source of all genuine knowledge was observation; in contrast the Continental school promoted intellectual intuition, the perception of clear and distinct ideas, as the basis of true beliefs.
    Popper pressed two claims:

    1.Both sides were wrong.
    2.Each had more in common than they realised.

    As to each side being wrong, he argued that observation and reason each have roles to play in the growth of knowledge, but neither can be described as authoritative sources of knowledge.

    As to their common features, they share a certain religious tone in their authoritarian attitude to the alleged sources of knowledge. They also share the naively optimistic view that the truth is clearly visible to all those who are willing to see it, meaning those who employ the right method and the right source of knowledge.

    Popper showed how overly optimistic theories of knowledge, combined with a strong element of moralism about being right, produce a very nasty downside – the conspiracy theory of ignorance. George Orwell described this as applied by Catholics and Communists: “Each of them tacitly claims that ‘the truth’ has already been revealed, and that the heretic if he is not simply a fool, is secretly aware of ‘the truth’ and merely resists it out of selfish motives”.
    Popper explained that the traditional theories of knowledge are essentially concerned with authoritative sources of belief. Consequently no amount of debate between rival schools does anything to challenge the authoritarian framework assumptions that they all share.

    In contrast, he argues that no ideal sources exist and all “sources” are capable of leading us in the wrong direction. He proposed to replace the question of sources by very different questions: “How can we generate better ideas to promote the growth of knowledge?” and “How can we hope to detect and eliminate error?”‘ For new ideas we have to make use of our imagination. For error-elimination we have to use all forms of criticism to the best of our ability (see the four forms of criticism described in my previous article on Popper).
    The question of the sources of our knowledge, like so many authoritarian questions, is a genetic one. It asks for the origin of our knowledge, in the belief that knowledge may legitimate itself by its pedigree…if possible from God.

    […]

    Relativism, Dogmatism and Critical Preference

    In the light of Bartley’s ideas we can discern a number of possible attitudes towards positions, notably those of relativism, dogmatism (called “fideism” in the scholarly literature) and critical preference (or in Bartley’s unfortunately clumsy language, “pancritical rationalism”.) Relativists tend to be disappointed dogmatists who realise that positive confirmation cannot be achieved. From this correct premise they proceed to the false conclusion that all positions are pretty much the same and none can really claim to be better than any other. There is no such thing as the truth, no way to get nearer to the truth and there is no such thing as a rational position.

    Fideists are people who believe that knowledge is based on an act of faith. Consequently they embrace whatever they want to regard as the truth. If they stop to think about it they may accept that there is no logical way to establish a positive justification for their beliefs or any others, so they insist that we make our choice regardless of reason: ”Here I stand!”. Most forms of rationalism up to date have, at rock bottom, shared this attitude with the irrationalists and other fundamentalists because they share the same ‘true belief’ structure of thought.

    According to the stance of critical preference no position can be positively justified but it is quite likely that one, (or some) will turn out to be better than others are in the light of critical discussion and tests. This type of rationality holds all its positions and propositions open to criticism and a standard objection to this stance is that it is empty; just holding our positions open to criticism provides no guidance as to what position we should adopt in any particular situation. This criticism misses its mark for two reasons. First, the stance of critical preference is not a position, it is a metacontext and as such it is not directed at solving the kind of problems that are solved by adopting a position on some issue or other. It is concerned with the way that such positions are adopted, criticised, defended and relinquished. Second, Bartley does provide guidance on adopting positions; we may adopt the position that to this moment has stood up to criticism most effectively. Of course this is no help for dogmatists who seek stronger reasons for belief, but that is a problem for them, not for exponents of critical preference.

    So, it seems that Sartre’s existentialist is a “disappointed dogmatist”

  55. 55
    LocalMinimum says:

    We wake up every day and have to make choices. We must solve moral problems. And our actions effect others. Regardless, it’s still us that must choose.

    Agreed.

  56. 56
    Origenes says:

    CR@

    CR: Popper explained that the traditional theories of knowledge are essentially concerned with authoritative sources of belief. …
    In contrast, he argues that no ideal sources exist and all “sources” are capable of leading us in the wrong direction.

    Applying this principle to Popper himself, it follows that Popper is also no ideal source and also capable of leading us in the wrong direction. Moreover, whatever source that lead Popper to believe that “no ideal sources exist and all sources are capable of leading us in the wrong direction” must itself also be no ideal source capable of leading us in the wrong direction. IOWs Popper has produced yet another self-defeating idea — his trademark.

    CR: He proposed to replace the question of sources by very different questions: “How can we generate better ideas to promote the growth of knowledge?” and “How can we hope to detect and eliminate error?”

    First Popper tells us that there is no source of information that we can trust (which is obviously a self-defeating statement) and next he asks: given there is no source we can trust (including ourselves) is there still a way forward? The answer to that silly question is:
    If we, arguendo, accept your self-defeating concept, mr. Popper, then, no, there is no way forward.

    CR: For new ideas we have to make use of our imagination. For error-elimination we have to use all forms of criticism to the best of our ability (see the four forms of criticism described in my previous article on Popper).

    Another nonsense idea by Popper. Criticism cannot help. Criticism is also no ideal source and can also lead us in the wrong direction.

  57. 57
    critical rationalist says:

    @Origenes

    Applying this principle to Popper himself, it follows that Popper is also no ideal source and also capable of leading us in the wrong direction.

    Yes. You’re an example of this, as you has misinterpreted what he meant in that sense. You’ve been led in the wrong direction. To quote Popper…

    It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood.

    Popper is no exception. In fact, there is an ebook that criticizes interpretations of Popper. You might want to read it.

    Moreover, whatever source that lead Popper to believe that “no ideal sources exist and all sources are capable of leading us in the wrong direction” must itself also be no ideal source capable of leading us in the wrong direction. IOWs Popper has produced yet another self-defeating idea — his trademark.

    Popper doesn’t prefix each statement with “This is a conjecture: …”. So what? Do you really consider that a good criticism?

    First Popper tells us that there is no source of information that we can trust (which is obviously a self-defeating statement) and next he asks: given there is no source we can trust (including ourselves) is there still a way forward? The answer to that silly question is:
    If we, arguendo, accept your self-defeating concept, mr. Popper, then, no, there is no way forward.

    If what you mean by “forward” is justificationist in nature, then yes. But, that ignores Popper’s view that we should give up the search for justification which, apparently, you either glossed over or are well aware of but choose to ignore because you don’t want to actually engage the argument.

    Another nonsense idea by Popper. Criticism cannot help. Criticism is also no ideal source and can also lead us in the wrong direction.

    Already addressed. Nothing can help in the quest for justification, because justification is impossible. For your convenience….

    a standard objection to this stance is that it is empty; just holding our positions open to criticism provides no guidance as to what position we should adopt in any particular situation. This criticism misses its mark for two reasons. First, the stance of critical preference is not a position, it is a metacontext and as such it is not directed at solving the kind of problems that are solved by adopting a position on some issue or other. It is concerned with the way that such positions are adopted, criticized, defended and relinquished. Second, Bartley does provide guidance on adopting positions; we may adopt the position that to this moment has stood up to criticism most effectively. Of course this is no help for dogmatists who seek stronger reasons for belief, but that is a problem for them, not for exponents of critical preference.

  58. 58
    Origenes says:

    CR@57

    Origenes #56: Applying this principle to Popper himself, it follows that Popper is also no ideal source and also capable of leading us in the wrong direction.

    CR: Yes. You’re an example of this, as you has misinterpreted what he meant in that sense. You’ve been led in the wrong direction.

    An extraordinarily weak response. Stating that my interpretation of Popper’s claim is wrong, is, on its own, not a counter-argument.

    Origenes: … Popper has produced yet another self-defeating idea — his trademark.

    CR: Popper doesn’t prefix each statement with “This is a conjecture: …”. So what? Do you really consider that a good criticism?

    Yes, pointing out that a statement is self-defeating is first-rate criticism. And BTW only a moron can seriously hold that a self-defeating statement can be fixed by the prefix “This is a conjecture: …”
    “This is conjecture: I always lie.” is not any better than “I always lie.”

    CR: … But, that ignores Popper’s view that we should give up the search for justification which, apparently, you either glossed over or are well aware of but choose to ignore because you don’t want to actually engage the argument.

    If there is no justification for knowledge then there is no knowledge.

    CR: Nothing can help in the quest for justification, because justification is impossible. For your convenience….

    Then there is no way forward whatsoever — including by way of criticism. Besides ”Nothing can help in the quest for justification, because justification is impossible.” …. what could possibly justify that view? Nothing? Okay. But why, in the blue blazes, should anyone listen to Popper? If there is no justification for the view that there is no justification for anything, what could possibly convince us of that view? Why should we not hold the opposite view?

    1. There is no justification for any statement.
    2. There is no justification for (1).
    3. (1) is not justified.

    CR: … we may adopt the position that to this moment has stood up to criticism most effectively.

    Why? Per your own words: “justification is impossible”. Why should we “adopt the position that to this moment has stood up to criticism most effectively”? Because that particular position is justified by its resilience to criticism? If so, that would be no different from good old “justificationism.” But, of course, that is exactly what you guys try to do: smuggle in justification.

  59. 59
    J-Mac says:

    So, it looks like the time has come for me to face the truth and make up my mind whether I should support the atheistic/materialistic views, like the view of material, soulless body, or the theistic views with the immortal soul that survives the death of the body and either inherited the heavenly realm or the fiery hell…

    Ever since I have been challenged by Truth Will Set You Free and others I have been thinking about it for few days and it looks like I’m going to need help of all of you… Simply put, it is not an easy decision. So, please help me out to make the right one.

    As you may remember that one of the reasons I question some theistic/ Christian believes is the teaching of the immortality of the soul.
    In Gen 2:16 and 17 we read

    “16 God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
    So, according to the bible scripture, in God’s own words, the penalty for eating the forbidden fruit, which meant disobedience and sin, was supposed to be death. There is no mention of the survival of anything, like a soul, that was going to continue living in a spiritual realm, either in heaven or hell…

    God said: “…You will surely die…” No hell, no afterlife, no nothing is ever said…

    After Adam and Eve sinned, one would hope that God would surly tell them all the details about their future regarding the continuation of their life as immortal souls… And yet, nothing again:

    Gen 3:19

    “By the sweat of your face, You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”
    God said: “…You will return do the ground… because from it you were taken…”
    So again, no word about the immortal soul continuing to live on in the spirit realm as the theistic/Christian teachings claim…
    Instead, God clearly tells them that they are going to return to where they were before…
    So, as you can see, if I were to accept the theistic/Christian teaching of the immortality of the soul, which continues after death, I would have to go against God’s own statements that are clearly the opposite to the beliefs of many Christians, including the many at UD, like Truth Will Set You free, BA777, ET, and many, many others…
    However, this is not the end of the story…
    When Satan convinced Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, what did he tell them the effect of the eating of the fruit would be?
    Well read it for yourself:

    Gen 3:1-5

    “1 Now the serpent (Satan) was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’? 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. 3 But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’?”4 (Satan) “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil.”

    So, obviously you can see the real problem I would have if I were to accept the theistic/Christian teachings of the immortality of the soul that survives death.

    I would not only be supporting Satan’s claim that the eating of the forbidden fruit doesn’t lead to death, but rather to being like God, I would also have to be forced to claim that God, yes the Christian God, is a liar… because he said if you sin, you will die…

    So, if I decide to stick with theists and support the teachings of immortality of the soul, like the true Christians like TWSTF, BS77, kf and many others believe, I actually would have to claim that God is a liar and Satan’s claim when he said:

    “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil.”

    was actually true…

    So, please help me to make the right decisions.
    If I stick with the beliefs of TWSYF, BA77, Kf and many others at UD, I’m going to be a hypocrite, and accuse God of lying. But if I support God’s statements and expose Satan as slander and lair, the true Christians at UD are going to continue to claim that I hide my true beliefs and you will call me an atheist/materialist… What should I do?
    BA77, TWSTF, ET, KF and others; what would you do if you were in my situation?

    I think, I have no choice and I’m going to support God’s claims and oppose Satan’s falsehood even though I’m going to risk to be abused by you and called names like a/mat…
    After all, if I can’t be true to myself, why even bother to breath? We agree at least on one thing: God is righteous and truthful even when hypocrites accused Him of being a lair….He will repay everyone in full…We can be assured of that…

    I’m just wondering: Who is it going to ?
    Am I going straight to hell?

  60. 60
    john_a_designer says:

    What survival value would there be for an evolved species of hunter gatherer primates, like Homo sapiens, to seek some kind of higher purpose and meaning? Does higher purpose and meaning really exist or is it just some kind of accidental quirk of nature? A psychological mirage? An illusion or delusion?

    Yesterday (2/28/18) the U.S. government honored the life and ministry of evangelist Billy Graham by putting the coffin carrying his body on public display in the rotunda under the dome of U.S. Capitol Building. He was one of only four civilians to ever be honored this way. But why? Some say it was because of his legacy. From a naturalistic/ materialistic perspective does anyone really have a legacy? In the grand scheme of things does anyone’s life really have any purpose and meaning? Dose anyone’s life have any more purpose than anyone else’s?

    Camus may have been a courageous atheist for pointing this out to all of us, but what was his purpose in writing about it? Why did he want his works published? Why did he seek notoriety and honor? Why, for example, did he accept the Nobel Prize for literature in 1957? Why if life absurd and meaningless did Camus participate in this charade? It seems so hypocritical to me.

    Back in the 1980’s I took a vacation with some friends in the upper peninsula of Michigan. While there we took a guided tour of an old copper mine whose reserves of copper had long since been depleted. After the tour and lunch we decided to take a hike through a nearby densely wooded area. It was there, hidden in the undergrowth we stumbled on the bricks and foundation stones of an old house… then we discovered another… then another. We soon realized that there had once been a thriving community here. Now it was gone– all gone and forgotten. Then we discovered some grill iron fencing. Most of it was no longer standing. Beyond the fencing we found a simple thin stone slab gravestone… then another and another. There were dozens of them. Many were the graves of young children. Most of the children were less than three years old. At the time we discovered the gravestones, all the deaths were less than 100 years old. Now they were just there– just there in a long forgotten cemetery that no one cared for or cared about any more. That’s the so-called legacy of most human beings who have ever lived.

    The biological half-brother of Jesus said it most truthfully and bluntly when he said, “What is your life? You are [just] a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

    If there is no transcendent meaning and purpose to our existence then that is indeed the honest truth.

  61. 61
    J-Mac says:

    I’m looking for courageous Christians who are not afraid to face challenges to their faith…Is this the right blog?

    Or, is it the blog of self-proclaimed Christians who fade away when their beliefs are challenged and they continue on with their preconceived, supposed Christian ideas, as if nothing happened?

    I have been wondering what Christianity is about and what it should be about…
    As a former Roman Catholic, I find some of the attitudes of Catholics on this blog either ludicrous or unacceptable even for atheists…

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