Posts Tagged by logic

Apologetics Academy of Atheists, Seekers, and Christians (Fall Session with Habermas)

The ministry hosting this website (sntjohnny.com) also puts on an online apologetics academy.  The fall session is coming up.  Dr. Gary Habermas will be guest lecturing on the historical Jesus and the evidence for the Resurrection.  It is possible to attend these lectures without being enrolled in the academy.  Those enrolled in the academy, regardless […]

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Arguing about the morality of a thing with an atheist is pointless

In my view, it is pointless to debate the morality of anything with an atheist until he is willing to admit that moral assessments imply the existence of the immaterial and transcendental realities that must exist if those assessments reflect anything more than one’s favorite flavor of ice cream.

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The Explanatory Fallacy

In the nearly 20 years or so of debating with various kinds of non-Christians, I have often encountered a way of thinking that I think is self-evidently flawed, but oddly common nonetheless. What I mean is this: as soon as you press the point, they drop the principle, recognizing it can’t be maintained as tightly as was presented. A moment later, or in another conversation, the principle is re-presented.

The principle is this: that a proposition is true if it explains something. Or, a belief is to be preferred if it explains something. Or, the better belief is the one that explains the most.

At first blush, this principle seems pretty solid. After all, don’t we give weight to an idea, hypothesis, or theory if it provides an explanation for something else? If I come across the body of a clearly murdered person and the evidence points to another person who is known to have hated the victim, wouldn’t we say, “Well, that explains that. He hated him.” ? Well, yes. It does explain it, but it still doesn’t follow that he actually murdered anyone. The time honored tradition for hanging a murder verdict on someone does include motive- but also means and opportunity. Merely having a hypothesis that ‘explains’ the facts does not prove the hypothesis. One must corroborate it. If it cannot be corroborated, it doesn’t follow it isn’t true. We just have to be careful how we weight it. We certainly would not (or ought not) sentence a man to death for it.

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The Living and the Dead and Rational Thought

One of the things I’ve come to realize is the truth of this statement: As the dead do not know the living, or even that they themselves are dead, so too irrationality does not know rationality. Augustine argued that evil was not a ‘thing-in-itself’ but always some good thing that has been corrupted.  Evil is […]

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Is there such a thing as ‘Christian’ music, writing, art, etc?

I try mightily to keep myself from having unexamined beliefs. I turned one up, though, in the last month or so, no doubt because of the writing contest and online apologetics conference I was working on. The writing contest, for example, is labeled as a Christian writing contest. I began to think about how an endeavor like writing, or any endeavor at all, could justify being termed ‘Christian’ and realized I had never really thought about it much before, and had rather accepted the presumptions that had been handed down to me. I hate it when I do that! Even if the presumptions are right!

However, what I turned up when I began my examination may surprise the reader. In Evangelical circles, the Christian sub-culture is a constant temptation and Christianese the prevailing language, which I myself attack in this post warning about Christianese and shibboleths. There is a silly sense within Christendom that you can slap the label ‘Christian’ on front of something and you’ve sanctified it. The truth usually is that it’s merely been rendered more marketable within the Church.

The reader would be wrong if he thought that the presumption handed down to me was the one I just described, however.

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On Free Will, Fair Trials, and the Problem of Evil

Here is the part of Mark’s argument where I saw a parallel: the KSM trial won’t be a ‘show trial’ because the outcome isn’t rigged. I retorted that there was no doubt in my mind that if KSM was declared innocent, whether on the merits of the case or because of a technicality, there was no way that KSM wouldn’t end up in custody again, which is in effect an unfair trial under the constitution, for if a person is declared innocent under the constitution, he is free to go. Mark replied that what happens after the trial is irrelevant to the fairness of the trial.

I will leave aside other aspects of the conversation which you can read for yourself.

I find this to be an interesting argument that seems to be the same argument that many atheists appear to be running with when they decide that it is likely that God doesn’t exist because a loving, omnipotent and omniscient God wouldn’t allow such horrible evils to occur.

What is the alternative? Let us imagine that every time someone did an evil thing, God swooped in and prevented it. If this happened, would we imagine that that person really had free will?

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Atheists strain to demostrate my description of them is not a strawman

We knew it was coming: the accusation that my paraphrase was a strawman.

Indeed, virtually every aspect of my ‘paraphrase’ was reflected in the answers that spewed forth, from the hypersensitivity to perceived insults “lay off the ridicule” “that’s just arrogance” while barbs are flying from their own side “are you just some smart a– 12 year old kid who got a certificate in your local church “Defense of Christianity” Sunday School Class?” to the random ‘catch-all’ argument that proves atheism right, the smug reference to ‘ancient books’ such as “You base your thought process on a 1900+ year old set of desert scribblings.” Throw in the knee jerk attempt to force the theist to argue in the terms that the atheist himself is dictating, not the terms the theist is actually presenting, “what in the world does bible god have to do with the Big Bang?!? It is not in your bible, stop trying to hijack the BB theory and pretend that your god caused it.” Let’s not forget the constant ‘rebuttals’ that in fact we ‘don’t know’ and ‘can’t know’ from people who apparently are atheists, and not agnostics.

All these are variations of my paraphrasing.

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