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A sociopaths can likewise claim to be happy and fulfilled. How fuzzy feelings offer any veracity to one's newfound secularism is anyone's guess.
It's also conspicuous that one is averse to "mental gymnastics". That's just the problem with many who cling desperately to a secular worldview. They're intellectually lazy and averse to anything that requires rigorous thought. Of curse, that doesn't entail that their secularism is necessarily false. But it does represent an inability or unwillingness to form a robust world view.
2 years ago on The Dreadful Dangers of Learning to Think: A Cautionary Tale – By Jane Douglas
It's unclear what "that" is to which you refer. However, I'll just assume that you refer to something Jane wrote. However, Jane offered no argument for monotheism being "not good", precisely because Jane offered nothing upon which to predicate her moral judgements. All she offered were emotive, autobiographical feelings about how she thinks God is a big meanie. Well, criminals think the cops are big meanies as well, but their opinions are also irrelevant.
"Elsewhere are arguments for monotheism being wrong, as in mistaken."
We've still yet to see one.
You wrote: "The object is as physically there as the entity making the sensory observation, a fact both the child and the observer are aware of"
On the contrary, it's not a fact of which the child is "aware" in any epistemically verifiable sense. Rather, the child, like everyone else, first assumes (unless he's a solipsist) that his senses are reliable and correspond to an external reality, and ONLY THEN, based on those first principles, can he proceed to verify his experience. And note that I'm not suggesting that the child has sat down and reflected on these first principle. Most people don't bother examining what they believe or why they believe it. They just wander along their lives with their assumptions. But note that without these first principles, the existence of the person whom the child is ignoring is not as you suggest, "clear and unequivocal". After all, if you were having an hallucination, would the objects of your hallucination clearly and unequivocally correspond to an external reality? Without beginning with the first principle that your life isn't just one big hallucination, you could never say to have clearly and unequivocally been aware of anything.
Finally, it's not at all clear what the likes or dislikes of the child have to do with the ontology of the person whom he's ignoring, nor what it has to do with liking or not liking God. In fact, my earlier point was that a disposition of liking or disliking has no logical relevance to the ontology of any entity, God or otherwise.
No, you're still failing to grasp the nature of first principles. When you make claims about our observation of, say, gravitational behavior, you're already placing faith in a number of first principles, e.g., that there is a mind-independent world, that you have access to this mind-independent world, that your senses are generally reliable, that you can identify objects and classes, that laws of logic apply to reality and to the phenomena that you presuppose is real, and so forth. None of these premises are provable, and yet you accept them and apply them in your daily life. These presuppositions are matters of faith, not subject to verification.
As for your analysis of the person of Jesus, you're simply misinformed. Even most non-Christian historians admit to the existence of Jesus, whose historicity is supported by far more evidence than, say, Alexander the Great, a figure whose historical existence I suspect you wouldn't doubt. It's also noteworthy that you operate on the premise that the biblical record cannot itself be treated as an historical account, another premise you accept by faith, and for which there is no argument. The fact is, one can choose to take the New Testament record as a reliable historical document without treating it as infallible scripture. The only reason an atheist would choose not to do so is because most atheists have an a priori faith commitment in materialism/physicalism/naturalism, so they dismiss any account that doesn't comport with their metaphysic.
Finally, note that Christian particularism is irrelevant to the ontology of theism. One need not be a Christian to be a theist, so skepticism about Christianity doesn't help buttress the atheist's case.
You're absolutely correct. Everyone's world view is indeed predicated on some set of axiomatic set of foundational premises, including the one that recognizes it as fact. That's precisely where epistemology leads us. This is why I don't knock the "fact" that atheist's must have faith in some set of first principles. What I do criticize is their false pretense that they don't rely on faith-commitments, when nothing could be further from the truth.
You asked whether we can argue anything if everyone's world view is based on differing faith. Well, there are a lot of first principles most of us do agree upon. Moreover, if rules of logic are one of those things on which we agree, then we can certainly begin to eliminate many particular propositional claims. For example, since empiricism is logically self-refuting, we can eliminate the claim which asserts that reality is limited to what can be observed through sense experience alone. My point being, simply because we must begin with some set of first principles, that doesn't mean we're left in a sea of relativism or skepticism (which are both self-refuting positions anyway).
On the contrary, every world view requires faith in some set of foundational axiomatic premises on which one then proceeds to build further. Any notion that atheism is exempt from clinging to its own set of presuppositions is a failure to understand the epistemological enterprise. One only needs to iteratively ask the atheist, "How do you know", following his chain of premises until he comes to some foundational set of beliefs for which he can provide no further deductive argument, but which serves as his faith-commitments. And take note that I'm not knocking the principle of "faith". I'm only exposing the atheist's hypocrisy, insofar as he has the hubris to actually believe that his world view is rational, while everyone else is making a blind leap into the absurd.
Furthermore, it's not clear where you're getting your definition of faith, but it appears you're equating faith in Biblical theism with fideism, which is not at all the same. The Bible doesn't contrast faith with reason. In fact, Jesus was clear that the greatest commandment included loving God with all of your mind. The Bible only contrasted "walking by faith" with "walking by sight" (i.e., empiricism). As it turns out, most atheists do subscribe to an empiricist epistemology, which, as any logician can tell you, is logically self-refuting. In other words, the Bible instructs us to not submit our world view to a logically absurd theory of knowledge. Contrary to the notion that Biblical faith is opposed to reason, it is, in fact, opposed to the very irrationality to which so many atheists cling. Mark Twain, as it turns out, knew not whereof he spoke.
Nothing in your response provided an rational justification for your rejection of theism. When you write, "For every cuddly Christian doctrine there is always a cold, dark, horrifying one lurking in the shadows", you do so as if that constituted an argument. Well, criminals may find prison to be cold, dark, and horrifying, but that doesn't refute the existence of prison either. You continue to offer these emotive expressions which tell us nothing more than that you happen not to like God. Well, big whoopee. How is that at all an argument against theism?
You also offer an absurd argument, in which you suggest that, because theists may have different views, that that somehow casts doubt on the veracity of theism. Hey, NEWS FLASH, atheists represent a myriad of views as well. Come to think of it, corner ten people who fit into the any similar ideological category, and you'll find that they differ on any number of ideas. The point is, you begin by addressing epistemology, and then switch gears and an offer a conclusion which makes ontological claims.
Apparently, the only thing "free" about freethinkers is that their thinking is free from reason or logic.
@DylanCarmichael In addition to my prior response to you: there isn't any "clear and unequivocal" evidence for the existence of the person the child doesn't like. Such "evidence" must itself rest on prior assumptions about the reality of a mind-independent world, the reliability of one's sense, the ability to classify entities, mind, identity and a host of other such presuppositions. And note that I'm not doubting those presuppositions, but only observing that your belief in the person the child doesn't like has prior philosophical commitments which, given your statement, were apparently invisible to you.
1) I would invite anyone to go back and read what Jane actually wrote. "Higher Order Thinking Skills" was indeed capitalized. Whether that constituted a curriculum is entirely irrelevant to my point. Jane engaged in a bait and switch, because clearly the GOP's opposition wasn't to higher order thinking skills, but instead was opposed to that which masked as such.
2) Regarding Jane's first principle, she impugned her prior theistic beliefs based on the fact that they rest on a set of invisible "assumptions", as if her newfound faith in atheism isn't predicated on similar "invisible" assumptions as well. What's sauce for the goose…
3) You claim amazement at the notion that this post was about the ontological status of theism (why your state of amazement is relevant, we're not told). Jane's entire post implied that actually using logic and reason will lead one away from theism, and yet all she offered were a litany of anecdotes offering no logical warrant for embracing atheism.
4) On the contrary, the only thing the post demonstrated is how sloppy thinking and subjective prejudice changed Jane's mind. Moreover, fancying oneself a "freethinker" doesn't validate poor arguments.
5) Given Jane's rejection of God, upon what ontological ground is she (or any atheist) able to predicate any moral judgement issued against Him? Or is she merely being arbitrary? In fact, without such a rational ground for ethical ontology, your list of unproven allegations becomes a moot point.
6) Is there an argument to accompany that latter claim? You've examined and defeated every theistic argument? Or are you, like Jane, merely closing your eyes and ignoring valid reasons for theism out of existence?
Finally, you note that Jane's post was nothing more than "autobiographical material". Yes, and that was exactly my point. Jane offered her autobiographical material AS IF it constituted logical reasons for her newfound faith in atheism, when there was nothing logical about it whatsoever. If that is what constitutes "freethinking", one has to wonder why its adherents elevate its rational value.
For one who claims to have embraced logic and reason, your entire screed is one logical fallacy after another, lacking anything resembling a cogent argument against Biblical theism.
For openers, you quote the GOP platform, which clearly states that the Higher Order Thinking Skills it opposes is not, in fact, the ability to use higher order thinking skills, but is in reality an opposition to outcome based education masking as higher order thinking skills. You then proceed to knock down a straw man by pretending that the GOP platform, in fact, opposes higher order thinking skills. No logical person would fall for such sloppy legerdemain.
You wrote that, "The myriad assumptions upon which Christianity is based were simply invisible to me", apparently ignorant of the fact that every single world view, including your new found faith in secularism, is predicated on some set of first principle, which, in your case, remain invisible to you.
You recounted how you embraced a Christian world view because of your early emotional baggage. How on earth does that constitute an argument against theism? All you've done is offer us a bit of autobiographical information that has no logical relevance to the ontological question of theism.
You offered personal anecdotes, e.g., about friends who treated you poorly, about your internal doubts, about your friend Suzie who was opposed to asking questions, and so forth -- can you please explain to us how any of that constitutes an argument against theism?
You then state that, if God is real, you want nothing to do with Him. Well, that's nice. It's not a rational argument against theism, but it's nice that you've clearly admitted that your world view is ground in a personal prejudice, and not on anything resembling logic or reason.
Another absurd reason for your new found secularism was that you had homosexual children. If their behavior is sinful, you'll just reject the ground upon which any moral prohibition against homosexual behavior rests. That's like rejecting the existence of a legislative body because your children are criminals. You don't like moral rules, so you'll reject them. It's an infantile way of thinking. It's like a child who doesn't like you, so he places his hands over his eyes and believes he can ignore you out of existence. It's utterly childish thinking.
Finally, you end with the snarky warning that people ought not to think, otherwise they might become "the boss of your very own brain". Honestly, it's not the offensiveness in your hubris that I find troublesome. It's that fact that you exhibit any hubris at all, as if you actually offered anything of substance to undermine theism.