I have searched the four corners of the internet to bring you, dear readers, these really recommended posts. This week, we explore the Quran, egalitarianism, evidence for the truth of the Bible, the Dark Ages, and more! Check them out. As always, drop a comment to let me know what you thought! Have a post you think I’d be interested in? Here’s your place to share it (but don’t just leave a link! Tell me why I’d like it).
Is the Quran the Book of God? Debate Transcript– This is a very lengthy written debate between a Muslim and Christian on the topic: “Is the Quran the Book of God?” It is well worth a read as it shows the methodology that Muslims frequently use in debates. The cross-examinations, in particular, are highly useful. Although it is lengthy, I do really recommend that you read through this to get a better understanding of the places Christians and Muslims differ. The Christian, I think, did a fantastic job of showing that the Quran claims the Old and New Testaments are inspired, while also showing that one cannot simply claim corruption. The Quran says the Bible is the word of God, but then contradicts the Bible.
Why I’m an Egalitarian– An excellent post in which Leslie Keeney gives the reasons she holds to an egalitarian view–that women should be allowed full participation in leadership in the church and home. She addresses several biblical and social arguments.
Undesigned Coincidences– Tim McGrew points out, in this phenomenal post, the evidences for the truth of the Bible we can find even in those portions we so often skim past. Paul’s greetings provide us with confirmation of the details of his travels as found in Acts, for example. This post is Part 4, but it is standalone in content. Check out my own posts on this argument.
The Dark Age Myth: An Atheist Reviews “God’s Philosophers”– Christianity really slowed down scientific progress during the Dark Ages, right? Wrong. Here, an atheist explains how ridiculous such claims are historically.
Bad– Another great comic post from Adam4d, this one poignantly shows the truths about human nature.
Ad hominems, Special Pleading, Straw Men & Red Herrings: John Loftus’ Response to MandM– John Loftus has written a number of works attacking Christian theism from multiple angles. Here, MandM respond to a critique he leveled against their satirical moral argument. In this post, they analyze Loftus’ arguments in a number of different lights.
Helpful as usual! Keep scouring, devouring and delivering the goods. Appreciate your gift.
Regarding the article The Dark Age Myth: An Atheist Reviews “God’s Philosophers”, I couldn’t help but compare and contrast the time when the catholic church dominated European cultures (and its effect on scientific output) then, and islam’s domination in many parts of the world and the scientific output from these parts today.
Although many muslims practice excellent science, the fact of the matter is that when one’s endeavors are subjected to religious evaluation (and authority) first, the output of knowledge is very small. When the religious evaluation is discarded entirely, the output is vast. To claim that religious support for inquiry into reality (or, to be more accurate, support only accessible inside the acceptance of a certain metaphysical model of how reality is) enables output really does stand in direct conflict with the very idea of following the evidence where it leads. The article’s author, Tim O’Neill, doesn’t do this or make any such claim, of course, because history doesn’t support it; what he does is the next best thing (for religious apologists) and suggest that religious influence when it dominates a culture isn’t so tyrannical that it kills those who dare to inquire into reality during this time, and only on this basis of despotic brutality does he then suggest that the widespread understanding that religious belief detracts from the pursuit of knowledge is what he calls a ‘myth’.
Is that true?
Well, that (in a nutshell) is the central problem with his thesis: he fails to account for the fact that religion (and those who operated as its senior officers) really did exert tremendous influence in keeping its metaphysical model (that is factually wrong) supreme rather than support the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. Yes, many religious denominations invested in universities and facilities (like observatories) and funded specific kinds of research (as well as the arts) but did it do so with no theological strings attached?
By exercising this influence, this support we can hypothesize negatively influenced the output of knowledge… on the macro level we can test for this against today’s world: theocracies produce trivial amounts of knowledge by cultures under the same kind of influence today. We can also test the hypothesis on the micro level: scientists who endorse Young Earth Creationism, for example, produce trivial amounts of knowledge in the biological sciences. Religious belief does not give impetus to gaining knowledge for its own sake (for the sake pf pursuing what’s true) but hinders its pursuit unless done within a theological model that is granted more authority than what reality shows us is true about it.
This is an endemic problem that acts as the religious hand inside the glove of pursuing knowledge and we see its negative influence in the world around us all the time.
And would you say the metaphysical view of naturalism has no similar dominance/influence in academia (here granting your points for the sake of argument)?
Let me answer you this way: is there an equivalent kind of sectarian divide in, say, chemistry? Biology? Physics? Do we find a regional correlation between belief in a kind of quantum mechanics of, say, Utah that has a different metaphysical model than one believed in by the tribes of Uzbekistan?
There simply is no equivalent kind of metaphysical view in naturalism… other than pointing out the fact that when we allow reality to arbitrate our beliefs about it, we end up with a lot of really useful explanations that – unlike religious belief – works the same for everyone everywhere all the time.
Any worldview would work the same for everyone all the time if it were universal. I’m not sure where the argument is.
It’s not the ‘worldview’ that is universal (creationists, for example, hold a rather different one); it’s a method that successfully works to reveal how reality works. In a metaphysical model, we require certain axioms that may or may not be accurate deduced from selected criteria (or, in the case of faith-based beliefs like religion imposed on reality then assumed and excused as true regardless of contrary evidence). In what you call the ‘natural’ worldview, we allow reality to arbitrate our explanations about it and try to eliminate any reliance whatsoever on faith-based belief. That’s why the same cell phone will work for anyone, whereas accepting Jesus as our savior only woks on those willing to believe it to be so. The hint is that is too often ignored is that ONLY in faith-based belief do some of us assume that such faith is a virtue; in all other areas of human activity we understand the same kind of faith to be a vice. Even the most devout people partition their reasoning to practice exactly this in their daily lives (which is why we won’t pay a plumber to pray away the blockage in the pipe or assume it to be a virtue for the mechanic to perform an exorcism on our faulty fuel line). In a nutshell, ‘naturalism’ is adduced from reality; in contrast, metaphysics is imposed on it. The resulting products from each pronounce which method deserves our confidence… and only one works.
I’m willing to allow the reduction of naturalism to a research method, but then one can’t use it to make any sort of metaphysical claims, which is what your comments continually do in regard to naturalism.
“It’s a method” refers to science that investigates the reality we share and allows it to arbitrate claims made about it. The religious claim the term ‘naturalism’ to describe the results because there’s zero evidence for anything else. Lots of inquiries have been made into ‘super’natural claims and all have produced no compelling evidence for any such agencies. None…. when there could have been, and should have been, if these claims were true. All we have, then, is ‘naturalism’ supported by the method of inquiry we call science. All the time. Everywhere. For everyone. That’s why the philosophical terminology is ‘methodological naturalism’. This not an a priori position but one adduced because it works. To try to phrase this understanding as a ‘meta’physical claim (‘meta’ meaning ‘beyond’ the physical, beyond the natural) is a gross misrepresentation of anything I have claimed because metaphysics doesn’t produce knowledge about reality; it produces empty claims. Methodological naturalism in any fair comparison produces technologies, therapies, and applications that work for everyone everywhere all the time. We call this understanding about reality and how it operates and by what mechanisms link cause with effect to be ‘knowledge’. In comparison, faith-based beliefs use the method of metaphysics, the method of assuming an a priori position for hidden supernatural causal agencies in this reality for which there is no compelling evidence.
None of these are metaphysical claims.
“The religious claim the term ‘naturalism’ to describe the results because there’s zero evidence for anything else. Lots of inquiries have been made into ‘super’natural claims and all have produced no compelling evidence for any such agencies.”
This is fairly equivalent to the Humean claim about miracles. What this really amounts to is “I and those who agree with me say there is no evidence. Therefore there is none.” Your argument is entirely metaphysical, yet you claim to be beyond metaphysics. Your claim is to limit reality to a certain extent; that is itself a philosophical, metaphysical claim.
I’m not limiting anything and am wide open to compelling evidence of a supernatural realm that contains agencies that cause effect in this reality. Should any such compelling evidence arbitrated not by faith-based beliefs but reality come forth, I am quite willing to treat it honestly and fairly and incorporate its existence into my knowledge base. But until such a time, my respect for reality (and its arbitration of metaphysical and supernatural claims) outweighs my willingness to be credulous (and limits the extent to which I feel justified to elevate my faith-based beliefs to be a sufficient substitute), which I think this is an intellectual virtue.
Claiming the current state of knowledge (about no evidence for a supernatural realm revealed by metaphysical musings of causal agencies) is actually a metaphysical claim itself is simply wrong; making this accusation is to misidentify and intentionally obfuscate the state of reality (and its role to establishing degrees of confidence is explanations about it). That has nothing to do with me and everything to do with you. All you need to do to change my mind is provide this compelling evidence adjudicated by reality. Why is this so difficult? After all, you’re willing to claim belief in causal agencies that supposedly ‘exist’ within this alternate reality… so why can’t you provide compelling evidence from this reality we share to demonstrate it so that I, too, can adduce the same beliefs? This convincing evidence should be there if true… and it isn’t. That’s not a metaphysical claim: it’s an accurate observation. This difference matters.
I suspect the reason you cannot demonstrate why faith-based belief is justified is because the supposed existence of this alternate reality (and the agencies attributed to existing there but somehow able to cause effect in this one by some magical mechanism) exists only as an idea in your mind. That you allow yourself to believe that such a realm exists and has agencies that cause effect independent of your mind is to assert that you have compelling reasons to do so. The problem is that these reasons are not adduced from reality but manufactured in your mind and then imposed on it. These reasons depend on faith-based belief for their justification and do not exist independent of it. That’s a epistemological clue, a hint, a statement that reveals the source of the reasons faith-based beliefs continue to survive in spite of and contrary to reality’s damning arbitration of them. Again, this has nothing to do with me. Clearly, without compelling evidence from reality, ask yourself how you have come to ‘know’ about this supernatural realm and the causal agencies it supposedly contains. That honest answer reveals the source of your faith-based beliefs: your willingness to believe them even when reality doesn’t support the claims. That’s why these reasons are not adduced from reality (and why you cannot demonstrate why confidence in them is justified independent of accepting the faith-based reasons). None of these observations I make are metaphysical but are based solely on observing and respecting the physical reality we share.
I have any number of arguments on here which argue for the existence of God and showing the bankruptcy, in partciular, of naturalistic and physicalist paradigms. I don’t really see a need to rehearse the arguments in this conversation.
The bottom line is that your position is a limited one. The fact that you don’t recognize it is disturbing, but seems fairly par for the course.
“In comparison, faith-based beliefs use the method of metaphysics, the method of assuming an a priori position for hidden supernatural causal agencies in this reality for which there is no compelling evidence.”
The classical arguments I’ve heard for theism (cosmological, moral, ontological, teleological) in no way assume God’s existence a priori. They conclude God from reasoned premises. I think you’re beating up on a straw man.