Intellectually Dishonest Atheists

As philosopher Edward Feser has pointed out, some atheists are simply not intellectually serious. They may be very ignorant or uneducated, directly dishonest, deeply confused, ill-informed, willfully obtuse, ideologically dogmatic, or just plain stupid; the end result is the same: it is not possible or fruitful to have a serious, rational discussion about God with such people. Here are some red flags which will alert you that you are dealing with an intellectually dishonest or defective atheist:

✅ 1. A persistent inability or refusal to distinguish God from a god or gods. This is a distinction 3 or 4-year-old children can easily grasp, so any atheist who claims not be be able to grasp it is either severely intellectually impaired or lying. In almost all cases, the atheist is simply attempting to conflate God with a god in order to set up a strawman and/or trying to annoy you by belittling God—while ignoring the basic conceptual distinction that all European languages mark by differentiating the word “God” from the word “god” by capitalization. As the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy explains, in the entry written by atheist philosopher J. J. C. Smart:

‘Atheism’ means the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God. I shall here assume that the God in question is that of a sophisticated monotheism. The tribal gods of the early inhabitants of Palestine are of little or no philosophical interest. They were essentially finite beings, and the god of one tribe or collection of tribes was regarded as good in that it enabled victory in war against tribes with less powerful gods. Similarly the Greek and Roman gods were more like mythical heroes and heroines than like the omnipotent, omniscient and good God postulated in mediaeval and modern philosophy.

Theists have little to no interest in discussing gods, at least not when God is the topic of discussion. If an atheist wants to discuss gods, he is free to do so, but he cannot pretend talk of gods has any bearing on or relevance to a discussion about God.

✅ 1.1 A persistent inability or refusal to distinguish God from such things as imaginary friends, faeries, wizards, spaghetti monsters, Santa Claus, or other fabulous, fictitious, or mythological entities.

✅ 1.2 A persistent habit of paraphrasing religious ideas in ways which are deliberately ludicrous, derisive, or tendentious, e.g. describing the resurrected Christ as “a zombie,” or God as a “sky daddy.”

✅ 1.3 Persistent use of the fallacious “I just believe in one god less than you” rhetorical trope.

✅ 1.4 Persistent use of tendentious and irrelevant rhetorical mischaracterizations of Christianity, e.g. as “Bronze Age mythology.” Christianity, of course, dates from long after the so-called “metallic” ages, in fact from the prime of the Roman Empire, on of humanity’s civilizational high points. And Judaism, its precursor religion, derives almost entirely from the Iron Age up through historical times—not that the age of a teaching has any bearing whatever on its truth-value.

✅ 1.5 Persistent dishonest characterization of God as some kind of “cosmic tyrant” or “cosmic oppressor” (interestingly enough. the position of Satan).

✅ 1.6 Persistent dishonest characterization of God, especially in the Old Testament, as a moral monster.

✅ 1.7 A persistent inability or refusal to distinguish miracles from magic, usually paired with a tendency to attribute magical powers to nature, e.g. in such claims as “the universe created itself out of nothing” or “properties such as consciousness just emerge out of unconscious matter, because they do.”

✅ 2.0 Belief in scientism, the logically incoherent claim that “only scientific knowledge is valid/real/genuine knowledge” or that “only science or the scientific method can establish the truth-value of propositions,” claims which are neither themselves scientific nor established by science, and hence, self-defeating, and which entail such absurdities as “no human being knew anything before Europeans in the 1600s.”

✅ 2.1 Persistent claims that science, which studies physical nature by means of empirical observation and quantitative measurement, has any bearing on the question of the existence of God, who is by definition, beyond nature, not empirical, and not measurable in terms of quantity. Persistent insistence that claims about God must be proven “scientifically” or that any evidence for God must be “scientific” fall into this category.

✅ 2.2 The claim that Galileo Galilei’s run-in with the Roman Catholic Church in 1633 proves (somehow) that there is some kind of natural antipathy between either (a) science and religion, or (b) science and Christianity, or (c) science and Catholicism. This indicates a complete ignorance of the history of the Galileo affair, and is merely a recycled weaponized meme of the early Enlightenment.

✅ 2.3 Use of the non sequitur that the multiplicity of religions proves that no religion is true, either wholly or in part. By this logic, of course, one may also “prove” that no scientific theory is or can be correct, wholly or in part, since there are always rival theories.

✅ 2.4 Claiming or assuming that the atheist, a finite being who is not all-knowing, is not all-powerful, is not all-wise, and is not all-good, nevertheless is in an epistemic position to know with certainty what an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-wise, all-good being would or would not do or have done.

✅ 2.5 The belief the atheist knows the true or real origin of religion in human pre-history, a matter which, since it occurs far in human pre-history, we have no certain knowledge of, but only conjecture.

✅ 2.6 The peculiar belief held by some atheists that their total ignorance with respect to God and divine matters is in fact an infallible indication of their intelligence or wisdom or knowledgeableness precisely about the things about which they know nothing.

✅ 2.7 Repeated assertion of the evidently false claim “there’s no evidence for God.”

✅ 3.0 Persistent use of the burden of proof fallacy, that is, the rhetorical trope which combines an argument from ignorance (“my position is the default position,” i.e. “my position is true until proven false, so I need not argue for it) with special pleading that the atheist be allowed to use arguments to ignorance in support of atheism (i.e. “atheism is true because I am totally ignorant about God or divine matters”).

✅ 3.1 Chronological bigotry, i.e. the absurd belief that human beings who lived prior to (say) Richard Dawkins were one and all somehow mentally inferior to anyone living today, up to and including the greatest minds of the past. This would also include the belief that all human beings in the past were incapable of skepticism or critical thinking, or were somehow exceptionally gullible or credulous in a way we, the Enlightened Moderns, are not.

✅ 3.2 “Arguments” that consist wholly of posting atheist memes, e.g. “Eric the God-Eating Penguin.”

✅ 3.3 “Arguments” that consist of no more than exercises in blasphemy or obscenity.

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46 comments on “Intellectually Dishonest Atheists

  1. Once you understand they’re either propagandists or in the spell of propagandists it becomes easier to see all this.

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  2. arensb says:

    You ignore the fact that a lot of theists make the same mistakes you accuse atheists of making, e.g. when they give credit to Jesus for a game-winning touchdown or say that a prayer and a ritual can change the length of someone’s legs.
    On the other hand, I gave Edward Feser a fair shot, but he turned out to be laughably unconvincing.

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    • Catherine A. says:

      I’m adding argument 3.1a, namely that atheists hold themselves to be different and superior to anyone who lowers themselves to pray, which is why the chronological bigotry is so easy for them.

      That’s where you’re at, right? Some atheists have read Mere Christianity and found it unconvincing. (I’m sure you read Edward Feser, “fair shot” is up for some doubt.) Almost any apologetic is going to be unconvincing if you’re not ready to deal with God and remove yourself from the center of your universe.

      In the end, your inability to process the arguments and evidence for God is your problem. You are the odd ball. Giving credit to Jesus for a touchdown is far more common, logical, and humble way of thinking then pretending there is no God.

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      • arensb says:

        That’s where you’re at, right?

        This appears to be a variation on “You’re just too attached to your sin to bow down to Jesus”.
        That’s like saying, “The reason you’re not a Muslim is your sinful love for bacon.”

        Giving credit to Jesus for a touchdown is far more common, logical, and humble way of thinking then pretending there is no God.

        Eve, I’d like your take on this comment, particularly in light of 1.1, above.

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    • Eve Keneinan says:

      I’m curious as to what you found in Feser that you consider “laughable.”

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      • arensb says:

        See the link above.

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        • Eve Keneinan says:

          I didn’t realize you yourself were the author of the criticism of Feser’s book. The thing that disturbs me the most, and seems to make it unlikely you could ever be convinced by any metaphysical argument for God, or indeed (if your were consistent) any argument for anything whatever, is that you seem to countenance “for no reason,” “just because,” and “it just is” as legitimate ‘reasons.’ The problem with allowing such things into one’s ontology is that they cannot be cabined. Suppose Smith shoots a friend of yours, Jones, in the head with a shotgun. Jones’ head flies apart and Jones ends up dead. You are, of course, outraged and wish to take Smith to task for murder. But Smith, having read your critique of Feser, notes that you cannot really be sure that his firing a shotgun had anything to do with Jones’ head blowing apart—it could be “just one of those things that happen.” Similar, the fact that Jones’ death followed his head flying apart can’t really be said to explain Jones’ death. One event happened very soon after the other, but causation? Again, we cannot be sure that Jones didn’t just die “for no reason”, that it isn’t “just how things are.” “I know,” says Smith, “that my ‘it’s just the way things are’ explanation makes you uncomfortable (and it probably makes it sound to less clever people than you that I am trying to avoid a murder charge in a ridiculous way), but as you and I both know, the universe is not obligated to conform to our expectations! As a rational person, you cannot in good faith blame me for Jones’ death, without supposing that the universe has some kind of intelligible order that could be understood by us. But you don’t believe that.”

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          • arensb says:

            Aren’t you committing the fallacy of appeal to consequences, “A implies B, B is undesirable, therefore A is false”? In this case, “just ‘coz” implies that I can’t sue Smith; I want to sue Smith; therefore “just ‘coz” is false.
            At any rate, if you want to say that “God” is a cause for something, please provide evidence for that claim.

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            • Jonas says:

              You… you totally missed the point. Both here and several times in your review, by the way. Eve did not say that it is wrong because it’s undesirable for some personal reason, you are wrong because you’re falling into a category mistake

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              • arensb says:

                Then would you be kind enough to do what no one here has been willing to do, and explain my mistake to me, so that I can avoid making it in the future?
                If you leave comments to my original posts, that might help, since everyone will be able to easily refer to what I wrote.

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        • spokanesam says:

          I happened to take a glance at some of your reviews, one caught my eye in particular, your entry on ‘black and white morality .

          You claim that Feser doesn’t understand potentiality. Why? I’m still not clear on that.

          You just seem to say ‘well embryos and people in persistent nonresponsive states can’t presently engage in rational thought, so Feser is wrongful to say they have a rational soul.’

          Now, since embryos mature themselve toward being able to presently engage in rational expression and reflection, a self-directed path of development, this indicates they have an active potential for rationality (as opposed to a merely passive potentiality to become a being with such a potentiality); that they have it in merely radical form, doesn’t change that. Feser is correct so far.

          Concerning Terri, your argument that ‘she would never have become rational again barring a miracles’ likewise is unpersausive. She still was numerically identical with the her preinjury self, right? So she still has a potentiality for rational thought, even if only radically, rooted in her nature. (Simmilarly, people in reversible comas have a blocked capacity, not no capacity, for rationality.)

          And, no, what he says about humans possessing a rational soul isn’t just ‘having human DNA.’ This seems to be the same mistake that the Katha Pollitt makes about George and Tollefsen’s animalism. Concerning the relationship of the soul and DNA, Moreland and Rae have some helpful comments in “Body and Soul.”

          Your complaint that in extreme cases – ectopic pregnancy and Euthanasia – the rule to not kill doesn’t apply is strange if you take seriously two things: you can never intend evil (not even so good can come) and what is good is determined by a things nature, or at least isn’t subjectively determined. I think these are reasonable to belive. From them you get: ‘You can never intentionally kill an innocent person.’ ‘Better to suffer evil than commit it,’ ‘let justice be done though the world perish ‘ and all that.

          Now, Regarding ectopic pregnancy, I’d recommend Kaczor’s discussion in “The Ethics of Abortion.” One should be careful to distinguish between direct abortions – always impermissible – and indirect abortions, which can be permissible if they abide by the principle of double effect.)

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          • arensb says:

            Concerning Terri, your argument that ‘she would never have become rational again barring a miracles’ likewise is unpersausive. She still was numerically identical with the her preinjury self, right? So she still has a potentiality for rational thought, even if only radically, rooted in her nature.

            Can you please expand on this? That is, can you please present a plausible path by which Terry Schiavo might have gone from missing half her brain (as at the time of her autopsy, and presumably at the time when she was in the news) to carrying on a conversation in plain English?
            I don’t know of any such path. And so to say that she was “potentially” rational is nonsense. Yes, she used to be able to think rational thoughts. But that ceased long before her heart stopped pumping blood.

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    • Eve Keneinan says:

      I’m not talking about theists. Are you just making a tu quoque? I suggest not talking to any theists who do these things either.

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    • andrewmbrew says:

      Reading your critiques, it is clear that you have not understood a word Feser wrote, and that appears to be because your mind was closed from the beginning. A textbook case, in fact, of not being intellectually serious, although it is clear that you take yourself very seriously indeed.

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      • arensb says:

        Would you please show me how I’m wrong, that I might avoid being so wrong in the future?

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        • andrewmbrew says:

          Well, let’s start with your preface.

          I wonder who told you that Feser was a Serious Theologian. He is a philosopher, although philosophy at a profound level cannot but touch on the matter of theology. Having noted that atheists routinely ignore his arguments, you go on to ignore his argument at considerable length.

          You object to Feser referring to homosexuals (a term invented to suggest that erotic attraction to the same sex is equivalent to such attraction to the complementary sex) as homosexuals rather than as “gay people” (a term invented much later to refer to a political movement to normalise such attraction). Why?

          You quote Feser’s calling the serious proposal of same-sex marriage a sign of moral collapse and metaphysical absurdity. You do not attempt (as a prelude, perhaps, to demonstrating why he is wrong) to deal with why he calls them so. Instead, you note that California has not fallen in to the sea, nor the heads of conservatives publicly displayed on pikes, as if either of these things had been predicted, or were relevant in any way. This sort of sneering posturing is, alas, a common marker of the sort of un-seriousness under discussion.

          You write that Feser “tends to use the terms “atheist”, “secularist”, and “liberal” mostly interchangeably”. No, actually, he doesn’t, although there is of course a good deal of overlap between the three communities. Perhaps you might identify as all three, which is why you (not Feser) are unable to distinguish shades of meaning critical to understanding his remarks?

          We cold treat each of your chapter responses in the same way. I did not read them all, but in the several that I read I did not see you once grapple with what Feser was arguing. In each case a few words from the argument is take as a springboard for you to strut your superiority – Plato’s notion of forms, for instance, is of no interest to you except as an opportunity for you to tell us what Plato ought to have meant, and all the objections you have that Feser did not address. And so on… It would be tedious to continue.

          You display no interest in learning. This is not a matter of intelligence, with which I am sure you are well endowed. It is matter of curiosity and openness to new ideas. Ultimately it is a matter of honesty, for you tell us (and, no doubt, yourself and your circle of like-minded acquaintances) that Feser’s arguments are laughable, when in fact you display no interest in understanding them, let alone in either refuting or being persuaded by them.

          Are you aware, I wonder, that Feser himself started in much the same position as you, as an atheist who regarded these arguments as easily dismissed? The difference is that he had the intellectual integrity to actually read them and make sure he understood them. Having done so, he was convinced that they are sound, and now teaches accordingly, having been personally transformed by the experience. Do you have the guts to follow his example, or are you happy to continue to strut and sneer?

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          • arensb says:

            I wonder who told you that Feser was a Serious Theologian.

            Dean Esmay, I believe.
            If you’re saying that I should have called him a philosopher who presents arguments for the existence of a god, rather than a theologian, then that seems like hair-splitting to me.

            You object to Feser referring to homosexuals (a term invented to suggest that erotic attraction to the same sex is equivalent to such attraction to the complementary sex) as homosexuals rather than as “gay people” (a term invented much later to refer to a political movement to normalise such attraction). Why?

            If you’ll reread your parenthesized phrases, and reflect on why you felt the need to include them, you may answer your own question. Insisting on saying “homosexual” rather than “gay” is a form of virtue-signaling among homophobes.

            as if either of these things had been predicted, or were relevant in any way.

            I was going to make a list of dire predictions that had been made about what would happen if gay marriage were legalized, but then I found that the folks at Right Wing Watch had already made it for me.

            Plato’s notion of forms, for instance, is of no interest to you except as an opportunity for you to tell us what Plato ought to have meant, and all the objections you have that Feser did not address.

            But you don’t say that I got it wrong, so presumably that means I understood what Feser said about Plato’s forms; you just disagree with the reasons why I don’t think they’re useful.

            The difference is that he had the intellectual integrity to actually read them and make sure he understood them. Having done so, he was convinced that they are sound, and now teaches accordingly, having been personally transformed by the experience. Do you have the guts to follow his example

            I don’t need to go back to the originals, since Feser has kindly done so, and even written books explaining them.
            At least in “The Last Superstition”, he clearly felt that he was able to do so in 300 pages, because he had space left over for insults. So I know he didn’t leave out anything important.

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            • andrewmbrew says:

              a philosopher who presents arguments for the existence of a god

              See rule 1 in the OP. Not serious.

              that seems like hair-splitting to me

              Not all splitting is hair-splitting. I have already noted that you have trouble with distinguishing things that are different. That habit of intellectual sloth contributes to your lack of understanding, although it is not at the root of it.

              Insisting on saying “homosexual” rather than “gay” is a form of virtue-signaling among homophobes.

              So you say. I wouldn’t know. I don’t move in those circles. I have never known it to be used that way.

              you don’t say that I got it wrong, so presumably that means I understood

              No, it means you did not rise to the dignity of being wrong, because you made no intelligible argument.

              I don’t need to go back to the originals

              More intellectual sloth. Not serious.

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          • arensb says:

            So anyway, do you have any substantive disagreement with what I wrote? Or is it just small stuff like Feser’s job description, and ad homs?
            It’s just that ultimately, the goal of the whole enterprise would be to come up with evidence for God, or at least an argument for the existence of God, that holds up under scrutiny.
            Atheists have been accused of taking pot-shots at intellectual lightweights like Ray Comfort and Kent Hovind, and ignoring the serious thinkers. But whenever I ask who the serious thinkers are, I get pointed to people like C.S. Lewis and his trilemma, or Alvin Plantinga (of Mozart Argument fame), or Edward Feser, who apparently thinks that the purpose of the moon is to orbit the earth.
            In short, as far as I can tell, the ideas of the Serious Thinkers are just as silly and lacking in evidence as the ideas of the lightweights, just expressed in much better writing.

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            • Eve Keneinan says:

              Please substantiate your view that Margaret Wolfe Hungerford, the 19th century trash romance novelist, is the last word within the Western philosophical tradition concerning τò καλόν. You seem to be unimpressed by the arguments of Plantinga and Feser because you are caricaturing them as strawmen of your own devising—and then noting how weak the strawmen you have constructed are. The trouble, of course, is that this says nothing about the quality of Plantinga’s or Feser’s arguments, but about your inability to accurately grasp and express their arguments.

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            • andrewmbrew says:

              It is not possible to have substantive disagreement with vapid posturing. It is clear that you do not begin to understand the arguments that you tell yourself you are demolishing. It is clear from every sentence you write that the reason you do not understand them is intellectual pride, and the laziness that comes from it. This is not ad hominem. I am not saying “You are a bad man, therefore your conclusion is false”. I am saying ” You are a proud and lazy man, therefore you have not bothered to present an argument, or to understand those presented by others”.

              an argument for the existence of God, that holds up under scrutiny

              Get back to us when you have applied some scrutiny, or even identified the target.

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            • MP says:

              The main problem is that you seem to read all those writings only to make fun of them, without an effort to understand what they mean. Thus you take “The moon is “directed toward” movement around the earth, as a kind of “goal.”” and translate it to “the purpose of the moon is to orbit the earth”, ignoring all the quotation marks. Just ask how “goal” with quotation marks is different from “goal” without quotation marks, and it becomes clear that you are proudly attacking a strawman.

              Not that you are winning against that strawman either – you do not even try to get anywhere close to proving that it is wrong to say that “the purpose of the moon is to orbit the earth”. You only give a cue to laugh.

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              • arensb says:

                The main problem is that you seem to read all those writings only to make fun of them, without an effort to understand what they mean.

                You’ve got it backwards: I’ve read people like Feser and Plantinga, allegedly serious thinkers, and found their arguments ridiculous.
                Feser, in particular, comes across as a sloppy thinker who commits elementary errors in reasoning, and is woefully and willfully ignorant of science.
                See here for more details.

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                • Eve Keneinan says:

                  MP is, I think, correct when he says the problem is that you read in a highly biased way. I just re-read Plantinga’s article on Dawkins’ book. It is tightly argued and on-point, as are all Plantinga’s works.

                  I was tipped off when you wrote “I’ve read people like Feser and Plantinga, allegedly serious thinkers, and found their arguments ridiculous.” Well, if you find their arguments ridiculous, this suggests a defect in your reading, rather than these authors, because they are both highly regarded in the field of professional philosophy—Plantinga especially is regarded as one of the seminal thinkers of the 20th century. Even atheist philosophers who work in the philosophy of religion acknowledge this. And philosophers in general are (1) not particularly easy to intellectually impress or fool with sophistry and (2) not prone to having a theistic bias which would color their assessment of the cogency of an argument. Plantinga is highly regarded as a thinker because he is a very good philosopher. And so is Feser.

                  So after I re-read Plantinga’s review of Dawkins, I read your review of Plantinga. You begin by doubling down on Dawkins’ ridiculous claim that being an “out” atheist is “dangerous” (especially for an academic) by an argument from anecdote—or I suppose, Dawkins’ claim could be argued to be (as you do) true in a technical way, such as my saying that it is “dangerous” for me to walk the surface of the earth, since I risk being struck by a meteorite—given that I can find an example of this happening, it is technically true that I am in some non-zero degree of danger from this. Your example of a Kansas professor being beaten up is hardly proof that academic atheists are in substantial danger. You make Kansas sound like Pakistan, which it is not.

                  Soon after, I find this remarkable sentence: “It’s been a long while since I read Climbing Mount Improbable, so I can’t tell whether this is an accurate criticism or not. Obviously, if this is a fair summary, then Dawkins is wrong. Just because something is possible doesn’t mean it’s true. But I suspect Plantinga’s leaving something out ….”

                  Let’s just process this for a moment. “I can’t remember Dawkins argument, but if Plantinga’s presentation of it is correct, then Plantinga is right and Dawkins’ argument is worthless. But instead of bothering to check on this, I am going to assume Plantinga is being deceptive in some unspecified way and double down to defend Dawkins anyway.”

                  Do you have the faintest clue about how obvious your bias is here? You note that Dawkins might well be wrong and Plantinga right—and then continue to defend Dawkins and bash Plantinga. All without bothering to investigate.

                  So not only is MP right that you are a biased reader, andrew is right that you are intellectually slothful reader, unwilling to do the work.

                  I just noticed I already said this a few days ago, and it seems to me dead on: “You seem to be unimpressed by the arguments of Plantinga and Feser because you are caricaturing them as strawmen of your own devising—and then noting how weak the strawmen you have constructed are. The trouble, of course, is that this says nothing about the quality of Plantinga’s or Feser’s arguments, but about your inability to accurately grasp and express their arguments.”

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                  • arensb says:

                    I can’t help but notice that you haven’t actually shown that I’m wrong about anything. I may be biased, but that doesn’t make me wrong.

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                    • andrewmbrew says:

                      Just extraordinary.

                      If Eve had placed a job advertisement for a living demonstration of a dishonest/defective atheist, she could hardly have found a better candidate.

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                    • Eve Keneinan says:

                      I’m not arguing that you are wrong. You are, but that’s not the point at issue. The point at issue is that you are exemplifying what this post is about. You are a prime example of a intellectually dishonest or defective atheist—an exhibition of blatant bias is certainly either dishonest (if willful) or an intellectual deficiency (if unknowing).

                      This very post is an example of this. You changed the subject, which is about your inability to work through serious arguments.

                      Yes, it is technically true that (say) a 4-year-old child who critiques Steven Hawking on an issue in physics might (however improbably) be right—but that isn’t a good reason to engage said child in a serious debate about physics. Anyone “might be right” about anything, given that standard. That would be like saying that evolutionary biologists ought to listen to completely uneducated creationist fundamentalists because they “might be right.” Indeed, if I’m not mistaken this is a common “go to” argument for creationists—they talk a bunch of nonsense, and when the nonsense is dismissed rather than seriously rebutted, they say “You haven’t proved I’m wrong!” But the truth is, we need not worry about the views of someone concerning subject X or argument Y who clearly knows nothing about subject X or clearly does not understand argument Y.

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                • theofloinn says:

                  I read through some of your posts at the link you provided and found that you did not understand what Dr. Feser had to say. You seemed to dislike his conclusions and from that dislike presumed that his arguments must be deficient. Somehow. For example, the way you misinterpreted the whole purpose of the moon is to orbit the earth thingie, as an example of a final cause, when in fact a) a stable orbit around a primary just is the equilibrium manifold for such a body and b) orbiting a planetary body just is what makes something a moon.

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            • theofloinn says:

              You are confusing “final cause” with “purpose.” A “purpose” is one species of final cause, but we are so accustomed to using “cause” for metrical efficient causes, that it might be better to avoid the term entirely. Say “telos,” instead. Some other kinds of teloi are:
              1, Termination: Something simply comes to an end. A chemical reaction runs to completion; a physical system reaches equilibrium, as when a river winds up at the lowest accessible gravitational potential; the story says “The End.” BTW, Aristotle noted that regular repetition counted as termination: so a body was at rest (“unchanging”) if it regularly repeated itself. This would include Belusov reactions, atomic clocks, orbits, and the like.
              2. Perfection. Something achieves everything it needs to achieve in order to be the sort of thing it is. An acorn grows to become an oak; a tiger cub becomes a mature tiger; a mixture of sodium and chlorine becomes a salt.
              3. Intention. And of course there is, as you have noted, intentional actions: a bird does not gather and assemble twigs at random, but in order to build a nest; a lioness pursues a gazelle in order to secure a meal; and so on. Intentional teloi may be instinctive or voluntary. (Note that a saucer of milk may be a first mover of a kitten’s progress across a room, but insofar as the kitten’s walking, the saucer of milk is itself an unmoved mover: as a final cause it is not an action/reaction thingie.)

              However, one does grow curious as to what you mean by “evidence.” As a mathematician, I may have a different criteria for evidence than you do.

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              • arensb says:

                Due to the way this site is formatted, it’s hard for me to tell which comment you’re replying to, I assume it’s one of mine. As far as final causes go, I don’t see them as being particularly useful in describing the real world, unless you’re talking about human intentions.
                Aside from that, I don’t see how lumping all three of your subcategories under the umbrella term “telos” helps us understand the world. In particular, #2 and #3 seem quite subjective.

                one does grow curious as to what you mean by “evidence.” As a mathematician, I may have a different criteria for evidence than you do.

                Math and science are different. In particular, mathematics need not describe the real world. I touched on this in the first part of this post.

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                • andrewmbrew says:

                  I don’t see how lumping all three of your subcategories under the umbrella term “telos” helps us understand the world

                  Actually, these are all under the umbrella term “final cause”, which is under the umbrella term “telos”, which is under the umbrella term “natural philosophy”, which is roughly analagous to, but more thorough than, what you call “science”. Scientists have traditionally found categories and taxonomies quite helpful their work.

                  Certainly, understanding the meaning of technical terms is helpful. Perhaps you can do science using the idiom of the street, but it makes life unnecessarily hard on yourself. If you take the trouble to understand the technical terms in the text you are reading, rather than translating them into vague approximations, and then attributing the meanings of the approximations to the original argument, you will go a long way toward understanding what you read.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • arensb says:

                    You are, of course, free to organize concepts any way you like, and of course hierarchies are useful. It’s just that the three concepts that you named don’t seem to have much in common, so the category “telos” doesn’t seem useful: whenever you say “the telos of X”, don’t you need to make it clear whether you’re talking about 1) the ultimate fate of X, 2) the way you prefer X to be, or 3) the reason X was created?

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          • Eve Keneinan says:

            I want to leave a quick historical note here: “homosexual” was coined to describe a sexual perversion, that is, sexual attraction to a member of the same sex. “Heterosexual” was also the name of a sexual perversion, that is, a morbidly unhealthy attraction/obsession to persons of the opposite sex. In the original usage of “heterosexual,” it would probably include those we call “transgender” today—since wanting to BECOME a member of the opposite sex would no doubt have been regarded as a sexual perversion and mental disorder which involves a morbid obsession with the opposite sex (which it still is, in some quarters of the medical community).

            “Heterosexual” did not, originally, mean “normal, non-perverted sexual attraction,” there being NO NEED for a clinical word to describe the healthy, normal state. “Heterosexual” was shifted to mean “normal” in a very successful political maneuver meant to suggest that “hetero-” and “homo-” were simply two species of the same genus, “-sexual.” It worked too. Same thing with the term “cis”—a wholly unnecessary word which describes the default, normal, healthy state of a person who does not experience the pathological condition of gender dysphoria.

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  3. theofloinn says:

    @arensb
    Telos can be thought of as the “towardness” of nature, without which natural laws would be impossible. You complain that knowing the telos doesn’t help you do anything. This is correct; and the Modern conception of Science as the Handmaiden of Engineering and Industry demands that we do something with it, preferably something profitable. But telos surely tells you what it is that you can do. Combining chlorine and sodium produces salt and not petunias. That this does not surprise you only means that you have internalized the final causes of this particular instance while simultaneously denying that finality does not exist, which is a bit incoherent. But many folks are content just knowing what buttons to press and never look under the hood.

    The taxonomy of final causes [termination, perfection, intention, deliberation] was intended only to show how folks can box themselves into a mental corner by conflating finality with one particular species of finality and thus flailing against a straw man. Sometimes, they will mock that rivers do not “intend” to reach the sea — though they do indeed move toward the point of lowest gravitational potential. “Intention ain’t in it.” Or they might claim that evolution by natural selection has no teleology, which is tantamount to a claim that it is not a natural scientific law! (You cannot have a scientific law that A causes B unless there is a B for A to cause. Greater fitness for its specific niche comes to mind; or more broadly, “the origin of species.” Someone should write a book.)

    Like

    • arensb says:

      @theofloinn
      I think that you and I agree on quite a lot. In particular, I suspect that you’ll agree with large portions of this post where I argue that to understand evolution, you have to ask “what can this organ (or gene, or structure,…) do?”, rather than “what is it for?”. And yes, there’s too much of an emphasis on practical applications of science, as opposed to just understanding how it works, even if that doesn’t do anything.
      And yes, of course without regularities in the universe’s behavior, we (almost certainly) wouldn’t be around.

      Having said that, when I say that Feser’s ideas on Forms, final causes, and so on aren’t useful, I mean that they don’t help us understand the universe. Thomists (or scientists publicly espousing Aristotelian-Thomistic ideas) didn’t figure out that electricity, magnetism, and the weak nuclear force have the same Form. Or that the telos of the universe is to expand. More generally, as far as I can tell, even if you believe that everything has a final cause or “towardness”, that doesn’t help you figure out what that “towardness” is. And while you’ve distinguished three separate types of telos, Feser uses final causes to argue that various sex acts are immoral because, at root, “that’s not what penises are for“. So if you want to use the term “telos”, then you have to be sure to make clear to your audience whether you’re talking about “this is how X behaves” or “this is what X ought to be”, or what.

      I won’t say that you can’t believe in teleology and also be a good scientist. Hell, you can be a creationist and still be a good scientist (just not in biology, obviously). But it’s something that you have to overcome (a negative skill modifier, to put it in gaming terms).

      Like

      • arensb says:

        @theofloinn

        while simultaneously denying that finality does not exist

        I assume you meant “denying that finality exists”, meaning final causes.
        I don’t, as a matter of fact, claim that there’s no such thing as a final cause. If nothing else, people make things with very definite purpose, aim, directedness, call it what you will, all the time: an iPhone 6s has a very definite purpose: to make money for Tim Cook.
        However, the fact that some things have final causes doesn’t mean that everything has a final cause.

        Like

        • theofloinn says:

          Naturally if what you have is not a thing, it might not have a final cause. It might not even have an efficient cause. For example, when Darwin said “I look at the term species as one arbitrarily given, for the sake of convenience, to a set of individuals closely resembling each other…”, he necessarily pinned the origin of a species to an arbitrary human decision to designate these individuals as a species and not those individuals. This is actually subversive of his own theory, but what the heck.

          By the same token, to complain that material causes are not efficient causes seems a bit awkward if one is a materialist. But that is only because of chronocentrism: the imperial imposition of Late Modern vocabulary onto earlier discourses. We could use the original terminalogy of aitia or even refer to them as becauses since the modern constriction of causation to a subset of efficient causes has seized the modern mind. But those terms may be even more confusing.

          Also, there is more to formal causation than mere shape. It includes what we might call the connectivity. Von Hayek referred to it tangentially in his Nobel speech, “The Pretence of Knowledge”: Organized complexity here means that the character of the structures showing it depends not only on the properties of the individual elements of which they are composed, and the relative frequency with which they occur, but also on the manner in which the individual elements are connected with each other. You will recognize this as reference to the matter making up the system (i.e., the elements) and the form of the system (i.e., arrangement of the elements). It is the form that endows the system or “thing” with its powers. A sodium atom and a chlorine atom are made up of the same matter: protons and electrons. What makes one a flammable metal and the other a poisonous gas is the number and arrangement of those parts.

          Keep in mind that without a final cause — without a towardness — there cannot be an essential cause. A cannot cause B “always or for the most part” unless something in A “points toward” B; that is, B is a final cause of A.

          Only nowadays, with talk of “emergent properties” are we getting back to formal causes and the hierarchical structure of causation; and with potential fields, attractor basins, and equilibrium manifolds are we seeing a re-awakening of final causation.

          Like

          • arensb says:

            @theofloinn

            it might not have a final cause. It might not even have an efficient cause.

            I’m not seeing a problem here. At worst, it sounds as though you’re saying that some things don’t neatly fall into a conceptual framework that demands that everything have four causes. Which is fine: the world is not obligated to conform to our desires.

            the origin of a species to an arbitrary human decision to designate these individuals as a species and not those individuals.

            You mean, the fact that the boundaries between species are fuzzy? That’s no secret, and it’s actually predicted by evolutionary theory. Plus, species are largely defined by gene flow and the ability to interbreed, so they’re far less fuzzy than higher-order classifications like genera or families.

            to complain that material causes are not efficient causes seems a bit awkward if one is a materialist.

            Why is that? And who is making that claim?

            Also, there is more to formal causation than mere shape. It includes what we might call the connectivity.

            Right. You can take five kg of hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon, and connect them one way to make a ferret, and another way to make an azalea. Or, more realistically, you can melt down a plastic chair and make it into a plastic garbage can.

            without a final cause — without a towardness — there cannot be an essential cause. A cannot cause B “always or for the most part” unless something in A “points toward” B; that is, B is a final cause of A.

            Then is there a difference between the statement “A points toward B” and “A is a final cause of B”, or are they just different ways of describing the same thing?

            Only nowadays, with talk of “emergent properties” are we getting back to formal causes and the hierarchical structure of causation; and with potential fields, attractor basins, and equilibrium manifolds are we seeing a re-awakening of final causation.

            Were these things actually developed by people using Aristotelian philosophy? If so, what, by whom?
            The reason I ask is that the paragraph above sounds like nothing so much as someone claiming that Nostradamus or the Bible Code predicted 9/11 or the Kennedy assassination, or an astrologer explaining someone’s personality after being given their time of birth. Except that these “predictions” only come after the events they’re supposed to predict, which means at worst that the “predictions” are just ways of coming up with an interpretation of a vague set of data to confirm what we know to be true; or at best that the source (Nostradamus, Bible Code) cannot be used to reliably predict future events.
            So were things like emergent behavior actually predicted by Aristotelians (and if so, why aren’t they winning theoretical science awards left and right)? Or are you just shoehorning phenomena into your preferred mental framework?

            Like

            • theofloinn says:

              it sounds as though you’re saying that some things don’t neatly fall into a conceptual framework that demands that everything have four causes.

              No, I’m saying that it would not be a thing.

              You mean, the fact that the boundaries between species are fuzzy?

              No, I mean that if we take Darwin at his word, a species isn’t defined fuzzy, it’s defined arbitrarily. That is, what constitutes a species is a matter of human decision, and that decision is then the origin of that species. Which is sort of self-defeating.

              Then is there a difference between the statement “A points toward B” and “A is a final cause of B”

              Certainly. You have the second one backward.

              Were these things actually developed by people using Aristotelian philosophy?

              Heisenberg is the only Modern I know of who expressed himself explicitly in Aristotelian terms; but one needn’t know one is “using” something, as M. Jourdain was surprised and delighted to discover he had been speaking prose all his life without knowing it.. The mere fact that folks are groping their way back toward it seems to indicate that the concepts were abandoned prematurely.

              So were things like emergent behavior actually predicted by Aristotelians?

              Certainly. Wholes have properties that their constituent parts do not. Hence, the concept of minima developed by the Aristotelians: that when matter is divided finely enough it reaches a point when it can no longer support a particular form and must take on a simpler form.

              Like

  4. Eve Keneinan says:

    To everyone in this thread or any other comments thread, I am sorry that the way the threads are set up sucks—it is not in my power to change.

    Like

  5. Jon Day says:

    I’d like to preface this by stating that I’ve not read the comments section, and am almost entirely unaware of what the discussion is about there (I very quickly skimmed until the formatting was messy). I am placing this content here, because it is directly related to the OP (and not the subsequent discussion). I do apologize for any inconvenience in doing so, and hope it doesn’t interrupt anyone’s dialogue.

    I would also like to state that what you are about to read is “how I see it” after reading the list of items. This is also not meant to be entirely comprehensive, but rather just a brief overview of some problematic items I noticed immediately upon reviewing the list.

    I would posit that anyone who is being intellectually honest would have noticed these particular fallacies and inconsistencies, but who knows. I also could be totally wrong about what appears to me to be fallacious, and am willing to curb any arrogance in accepting that possibility.

    Here goes…

    1.5

    This is pretty subjective. Depending on the reader’s perspective, the actions of “God” could reasonably/rationally be viewed as “tyrannical” or “oppressive”. For a person of faith, it might difficult to grasp this position, because the belief that God is wholly benevolent is a fundamental basis of that very faith. The believer is likely to begin with the axiom that God’s actions are wholly “good”, and then proceed to argue from this premise as though it is inherently true.

    To deny this claim, based on the subjective perspective of the reader, is not fallacious. It might not be preferable to a person of faith, and may be difficult for them to accept/understand, but it is not fundamentally fallacious, lacking in insight/intelligence, nor intellectually dishonest. It would be fallacious to force an opponent to grant your premise as true, simply because it helps your case.

    Bertrand Russell deals with this issue fairly well in “Why I am not a Christian”, though I’m aware that it’s not entirely bullet-proof. I’m more mentioning it to show that it’s not some intellectually dishonest or pigheaded position to take.

    1.6

    Once again, this is subjective. The claim that “God” is not a moral monster relies upon a presupposition that the actions performed by said God are entirely benevolent, even when the outward appearance of these actions does not necessarily reflect this notion (dependent on the perspective of the reader).

    To a degree, this is a relativism/subjectivism fallacy. Multiple actions carried out by the God depicted in the Old Testament would be condemnable if performed by man, but are not condemnable when performed by God. However, these actions are primarily only justifiable for the person who has accepted that all of God’s actions are ultimately good, because God can only do good (this is also begging the question). *this is also covered in Russell’s talk*

    1.7+2.0

    This is a bit of a false equivocation. There are physical laws that we can point to which describe the way in which this so-called “the universe created itself from nothing” (which is an example of reductio ad absurdum) concept works. No such method exists for the concepts of “miracles” nor for “magic” (both of which fall into a similar category with regard to a lack of physical explanation, and rely solely on the belief that a non-empirical force is responsible). I’m not saying true or false one way or the other, merely that the concepts of magic or miracle are not comparable to “something from nothing” as it’s presented in current scientific literature.

    On that note, science (in some form or another) has existed since long, long before the 1600’s, so it’s unclear why the sentence “which entail such absurdities as ‘no human being knew anything before Europeans in the 1600’s'” was even included. That seems like a complete non-sequitur, and definitely does not reflect a desire for intellectual honesty.

    2.4

    This is a case of special pleading. In this case, the believer is allowed to assert the infallibility of God based on assumed characteristics of God, but then asserts that the non-believer is not entitled to do the same with regard to the opposite conclusion, and a skepticism with regard to those proposed characteristics. Though on the surface these are seemingly different notions, they are actually two sides of the same coin.

    The way this is written also utilizes a form of begging the question, in which it is simply assumed that what is said about God’s nature is inherently true, overlooking the fact that one must first believe this proposition to be true for it to be meaningful in any way.

    In an intellectually honest discussion, one should be able to question anything within reason (which I posit would include this notion). To say that it’s not reasonable to do so seems to be little more than a means of demanding special treatment for one’s accepted axioms (a mixture of special pleading, begging the question and stacking the deck).

    3.0

    In this case, the writer is shifting the burden of proof from the positive claim to the negative claim. Since person 2 cannot claim Y is false without Y first being proposed as true, it is up to person 1 who made claim Y to prove that it is true, not vice versa. This paragraph would be better suited to an anti-theist, who attempts to make a positive claim (IE, that God certainly does not exist), as opposed to merely dismissing the positive claim as untrue, which is the position of pure atheism (without the further introduction of anti-theism propositions).

    3.1

    I don’t have reason to disagree with this in its entirety, but it does fail to address a key point. While it may be true that it cannot be automatically assumed that modern knowledge is superior to the knowledge of antiquity, it isn’t an unwarranted assumption. The primary reason this would be a fairly standard assumption to make, is due to the fact that learning is a progression. Each generation learns from, and adds to, the knowledge obtained from the previous generation. As an example, the average physics student probably knows the theories of Newton far better than Newton himself did. This does not negate the genius of Newton, but rather is an inherent aspect of the progression of knowledge. I would say that the average modern theist (with the exception of Islamic extremists) has progressed a great deal from the rudimentary notions presented in their religion’s original format(s), which isn’t very different from assuming that modern minds are better suited to handle some particular information than the minds of antiquity.

    In conclusion, I’d just like to state that my only intention here was to show that there are some logical inconsistencies presented (at least in my opinion and upon my cursory engagement with the material), and that the writer seems to be holding his opponents to a higher standard of intellectual scrutiny than he may be holding himself to. To me it seems like a great deal of this list was derived from people who were being intentionally annoying, and likely just reciting jargon they’ve heard from others. So I do understand the motivation and the frustration, but it does seem like including the above fallacies in this critique is a bit of “shooting yourself in the foot”.

    I don’t know the writer personally, and am not attempting to criticize him on a personal level. I am “literally” just responding to the text as it appears on the page, and for no other purpose than to provide my thoughts, as unimportant as they may be.

    I myself do not have much stake in this. I’m not an “atheist”, but rather am a “non-theist”. My interest here is less in the theological aspect of the discussion, and more in the nature of intellectual honesty as it pertains to theological (or really any form of) discussion/debate.

    If anyone wishes to discuss what I’ve written, you’re welcome to reply. I cannot guarantee I will be able to respond in a timely fashion, but will do my best.

    Like

    • Eve Keneinan says:

      The horrible formatting of the comments is something I AM UNABLE TO CHANGE. I have tried, and it’s just not up to me. That seems a significant problem with WordPress, but there’s nothing I can do about it now.

      I don’t honestly see much of substance here, so I’ll keep the replies brief:

      1 Calling something ‘subjective’ doesn’t make it so.
      2 Redefining other kinds of knowledge as “science” doesn’t make them science, nor make scientism a legitimate or even coherent position.
      3 Special Pleading, as I have noted in many places, does not and cannot apply to God, since God is necessarily “special” is every respect.
      4 The objection to 3.0 is a version of the very move it is trying to refute. It is exactly the fallacy I name. The author commits a burden of proof fallacy in attempting to dismiss the burden of proof fallacy objection.
      5 The objection to 3.1 is also a version the very thing it is meant to refute. It dismisses any problem of chronological bigotry via an appeal to chronological bigotry.

      I do appreciate the civil tone, which is uncommon among atheists, but I’m sorry to say I find nothing of real substance here. You do say your reading was cursory, but the fact you are misgendering me suggests it was VERY cursory, perhaps a bit too cursory to warrant commentary.

      Like

      • Jon Day says:

        I can see that you feel that there is little “substance” in my response, which is a bit unfortunate considering the amount of substance I provided vs. your response here, which contains virtually none. That’s also unfortunate because the entire subject of your original post deals with being “intellectually serious”, which, if I may say, does not seem to be of interest to you (at least not within the context of your response to my critique of your post).

        I don’t know why you are yelling (all caps) at me about the comment thing. I only mentioned it to explain why I didn’t read the entire comments thread, not to indicate that I didn’t understand you are unable to fix it. I’ve seen people complain about others not reading the full comment thread in other scenarios, and wanted to be sure to cover that before replying, in case I repeated information or arguments that were already presented in the comments.

        On to your response:

        1. Calling something subjective does not make it subjective, you’re right, but something being subjective does make it subjective. Similarly, simply saying the phrase “calling something subjective does not make it so” does not negate the claim that something is subjective. Since you provided no further elaboration, I’m left to assume you have no real argument against that point.

        2. I haven’t redefined any form of knowledge as science, nor did I advocate for “scientism”, nor did I state that “scientism” is a coherent position. My statement was an objection to the over simplification, and lack of intellectual honesty with regard to your description of the history of science, as well as the non-sequitur that was presented (please reread both of our comments for clarity). In reality, science has existed since well before the 1600’s. If you care to dispute that, it would be great if you would actually do so, as opposed to providing a response that is void of substance, and lacking in any form of intellectual seriousness (the very objection that was made in reference to atheist arguments).

        3. Special pleading does apply to God, with reference to an argument being made for or against God’s existence (and thus, the very nature of God). You saying that “special pleading does not apply to God” is, quite literally, special pleading. This is especially the case when debating the very existence of God (the acceptance of which would be required to accept the “special nature” of God). You’re using circular reasoning in an attempt to remove the special pleading fallacy from the argument you’ve presented. Using a fallacy to cover another fallacy isn’t a suitable rebuttal, it’s just double-fallacious.

        4. This is false. I even provided a counter example in which the burden of proof can be reasonably shifted, which would be the case in an example of an anti-theistic approach to the argument. However, void of an anti-theistic approach, (IE, not a positive claim that God does not exist, but rather the disbelief of the claim in the affirmative), the burden of proof lies on the claimant who is arguing for the affirmative. I have provided no fallacy of shifting the burden of proof. It is, in fact, you who has done so, which is the very problem I was addressing. You simply restating the erroneous argument you already presented, doesn’t really constitute a substantive response.

        5. I did not attempt to dismiss “ANY problem with chronological bigotry”. If you actually read my comment, you will see that I did no such thing. You are using a form of absolutism in your response that I did not present in my statements, and thus it is just a strawman. I merely stated that there are aspects to the notion of “chronological bigotry” that are not inherently irrational or fallacious. I also pointed out that it is not inherently part of atheistic argumentation, in that theists are very often guilty of the exact same thing. Therefore, using it as an example of how atheists are specifically “not intellectually serious” is misleading, and frankly, intellectually dishonest.

        I’m glad you appreciate the “civil tone”, though I must say I didn’t feel the same level of respect in your own response. I understand your concern about “misgendering” you, and apologize if this caused you some discomfort, it certainly seems a big issue in today’s politically charged climate. My mistake was that I read the first paragraph which introduces the name “Edward Feser” as meaning that the following list was a compilation of material written by this very person (IE, I did not assume that you wrote the list, but were merely providing it as written by another party). I do, however, have to point out that the way in which you mentioned “uncommon for atheists” seems to imply that I am an atheist. I specifically mentioned that I am not an “atheist”. Therefore, your mistake was in simply not really reading what I’ve written, which you reflected in the entirety of your response. This leads me to wonder why I should accept your criticism with regard to a proposed lack of substance contained therein.

        It’s certainly what I expected to find however. In my experience, neither theist nor atheist are “intellectually serious” in most cases.

        You’ve essentially proven this by skimming what I wrote, and providing an extremely simplified response that contained nothing at all in terms of substance (the very thing you chastised me for, quite unfairly I must say). This is further shown by your severe attachment to the label of “atheists”, which I believe to be part of a divisive nature inherent in internet/armchair “philosophers” who are really only interested in feigning intellectual superiority over having any kind of “real discussion”.

        Also, for your edification, my use of the term cursory was not intended to imply the same thing as skimming (which is clearly what you did with my post), but rather that I did not spend a great deal of time with the content. That doesn’t mean I didn’t adequately absorb the material to a degree that would enable me to critique what’s presented within the context of a basic discussion, nor would it be a justification to dismiss my response…at least not if you’re “intellectually serious”.

        I’m afraid this is about all the time I have available to engage in this particular discussion. The only reason I’m even here is because of the thread on Twitter, in which I pointed out the fact that your argument contained fallacies. I was told that I merely claimed they existed but did not provide any, and so I wanted to be sure I satisfied that obligation (precisely because I am intellectually serious). I feel I’ve more than adequately presented my argument, and really don’t see this as being a fruitful discussion based on your response.

        However, I do wish you the best of luck in the rest of your “philosophical” endeavours.

        Like

        • theofloinn says:

          On item #3:
          An argument for the existence of God is not in itself “special pleading.” Special pleading is to apply criteria, principles, and/or rules to other people or arguments, while exempting yourself or certain circumstances from the same critical criteria, without providing adequate justification. (Whether the criteria are adequate is open to argument.)

          For example: to argue that “Everything has a cause… except God is uncaused” would be special pleading; which is why none of the traditional philosophers ever made that argument.

          On item #1:
          Our hostess originally referred to the tendency of some arguing the atheist line to Persistent dishonest characterization of God as some kind of “cosmic tyrant” or “cosmic oppressor”. Your response was that it was okay to do so because it was a subjective impression that some might have. (Depending on the reader’s perspective, the actions of “God” could reasonably/rationally be viewed as “tyrannical” or “oppressive”.) Of course, I thought the same of my father when I was a child, esp. when I had been forbidden from and/or punished for something. Yet, as I matured, I learned that, no, he was a loving father concerned for my well-being. He was not in objective fact a tyrant or oppressor. It was my impression that was subjective; not his actual properties. So clearly, our hostess was correct to remind you that Calling something ‘subjective’ doesn’t make it so. This is clearly different from the Modern scientific view of, for example, color, which holds that color is inherently subjective; that is, it exists in the observing subject and not in the observed object. You should hear some of the subjective impressions people have had about statistical inference!

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