Observations

November 30, 2010

When are the New Atheists going to learn that saying God is immoral or some command of His is immoral is the logical equivalent of saying the 1st Amendment is unConstitutional?


Atheist Contradictions – Bad Logic

November 30, 2010

Another point Dr. Plantinga made at the EPS Conference I attended regarded Richard Dawkins notion that the ‘the evidence of evolution reveals a universe without design’. As Dr. Plantinga states it the argument goes as follows:

1. We know of no irrefutable objections to its being logically possible that all life came about by way of unguided Darwinian processes:

Therefore,

2. All of life came to be by way of unguided Darwinian processes.

Interestingly atheists apply the same logic to any number of aspects of the universe and reality. As “We know of no irrefutable objections to it being logically possible that the universe arose uncaused, therefore…” and “We know of no irrefutable objections to its being logically possible that human consciousness and self-awareness came about through natural processes, therefore…” and so and so forth.

To understand how fallacious this logic is, one need only consider it in light of the possible occurrence of other unlikely entities, like unicorns:

“We know of no irrefutable objections to its being logically possible that unicorns exist,

Therefore

Unicorns exist.”

Of course atheists for the most part would deny that unicorns exist, even if they employ the logic that would justify a belief in unicorns. It s absurd to conclude that just because something is logically possible, it must therefore be the case. It is logically possible my wife would say yes when I asked her to marry me – but that fact in and of itself didn’t make us married. Yet it is also upon this basis that the New Atheists declare evolution, and science itself to be incompatible with a belief in God; in the end all they actually prove is that atheists are really bad logicians.


Obama – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

November 30, 2010

There is a misconception that those on the right (including myself) have nothing good to say about the President. While it is true that there is much to criticize about this President, and I have been a regular critic of his policies, the fact is he is capable of positive action and wise choices.

Two instances come to mind, one a few weeks back, one just yesterday. While on the whole the President’s trip to Asia failed to produce any substantive benefit for our country, Obama’s overtures to India are to be lauded. India is a natural ally and has been too often ignored by previous administrations; it is a competitor to China, and a democratic one at that.

He also gets kudos for his announcement yesterday that he intends to seek a freeze of federal wages. It’s a rather obvious move; one Republicans have been calling for the last few weeks, but it shows he got some sense of what needs to happen with spending from the last election.

The bad news for President Obama is the Korean situation. Though the press seems to have already forgotten this is the second attack by North Korea this year, the first being the sinking of a South Korean ship in March by North Korea. At that time our response was tepid and in retrospect ineffective in preventing further attacks. South Korea has promised that the North will ‘pay the due price’ for their attack. And it is now clear North Korea is completely committed to the development of nuclear weapons, which coupled with their willingness to use unprovoked force, only makes the future even direr.

Like many problems he faces Obama inherited this situation; but he has only made it worse with a vacillation on foreign policy and his perceived weakness around the world. If he cannot engage North Korea in a way that reduces their aggressiveness, they will only continue to advance their military advantage in the region.

The ugly reality is the recent Wikileaks dump of government documents that has embarrassed the administration and caused anxiety amongst our strategic partners. In one sense the release will be minimized by the sheer volume of documents available. With its short attention span and it inability to document detail, the media will have a difficult time making a cohesive story out of the documents available.

The bigger problem of course is the way the event undermines trust in the US government and this administration. It will certainly diminish our ability to communicate strategically with other countries and thus diminish our ability to deal with various international problems in a way that protects our interests. But it is not only our international concerns that will suffer; much government policy is predicated on the notion that information held by the government is ‘private’, whether one talks about financial records of citizens, medical records that the government will access via our new healthcare laws, or the exposure one faces at the airport. Obama’s administration has sought to greatly expand the intrusiveness of government into our lives – and given its failure to protect critical foreign policy secrets, their will be less confidence that the government can be trusted to run other programs that require the expanded collection of the personal details of our citizens.

Optimally a government would handle such an event with the sharpest possible reprisals – trying the leaker with treason and using international pressures to pursue some sort of sanction against Wikileaks, but given his track record it seems unlikely Obama will deal act so decisively.

In short with an antagonistic Congress, a failing economy, increasing tensions in Asia, and the exposure of millions of classified documents Obama faces a Sergio Leone style Mexican Standoff of epic proportions – so far though he seems to be the one with no bullets.


The Intolerance of New Atheism

November 27, 2010

One of the myths atheists like to perpetuate is that religious belief is inherently intolerant and uncivil, and that it’s elimination will render our society more tolerant of various beliefs and behaviors.

Now obviously this has been definitively disproven in places like the Soviet Union, but modern atheists cling to the idea anyway. Nonetheless At a recent meeting of the The Council for Secular Humanism, Paul Kurtz who is one of the founders of the council who was ousted by New Atheists, claims he was censored by the organization for the first time in his life. Consider for a moment what that means – a man who has spent his life challenging the religious majority his entire life faced his first censorship from a New Atheist dominated organization. That this should be the case should come as no surprise to those who are familiar with the history of secularism. The atheist Soviets who desired a overtly atheistic order became increasingly strident, the Stalinists killing off the Trotskyites whom they didn’t see as committed enough to the cause.The Maoists felt compelled to drive large segments of the population into re-education camps to ensure their conformity, as did the North Korean leaders later still.

That the New Atheists lead by PZ Myers and others should purge the ranks of those they don’t find sufficiently committed to the cause is merely another instance of this intolerance. They see civility as weakness, not comprehending that it is instead the foundation of civilization, a state they seem to disdain.

The freest society in history resulted from the Christian Reformation for a reason; inherent in that movement was the respect for human conscience – it is becoming increasingly apparent the New Atheists are a threat to this fundamental belief.


Observations

November 26, 2010

“The one who has Christ has everything.

The one who has everything except for Christ has nothing.

And the one who has Christ plus everything else does not have more than the one who has Christ alone.” –Augustine


A Joyful Duty

November 24, 2010

It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, and to be grateful for His benefits. -George Washington

We live in difficult times, but have a universe of blessings to be thankful for. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving


Blogging the EPS Conference 3

November 24, 2010

Another breakout session I attended was by Dr. Frank Beckwith, Professor of Philosophy and Church-State Studies at Baylor University. He spoke on Natural Rights and the New Atheists, primarily discussing how New Atheism undermines the notions of moral rules and inherent rights. I have been following the writings of Dr. Beckwith for sometime having blogged about an analysis of his on gay marriage a few months back and so it was great to see him in person. This particular discussion was as thorough as I had hoped on the topic.

He began by noting an inherent contradiction in the atheist position. He did so by way of noting how New Atheists like Hitchens and Dawkins adopt the language of purpose and meaning while denying that it exist. The example he cited for Dawkins was from The God Delusion where Dawkins laments the fact that geologist Kurt Wise had surrendered a promising secular career in science because of his adherence to Biblical truth. Dawkins writes:

….I find that terribly sad; but whereas the Golgi Apparatus moved me to tears of admiration and exultation, the Kurt Wise story is just plain pathetic–pathetic and contemptible. The wound, to his career and his life’s happiness, was self-inflicted, so unnecessary, so easy to escape. All he had to do was toss out the bible. Or interpret it symbolically, or allegorically, as the theologians do. Instead, he did the fundamentalist thing and tossed out evidence and reason, along with all his dreams and hopes.

Beckwith pointed out that this situation is only and ‘sad and contemptible’ if one believes that it is wrong not to live up to one’s talents and abilities – a belief that only makes sense if one believes we have an intrinsic purpose or design to live up to and that some morality prompts us to live up to that purpose. Of course Dawkins believes in no such purpose and so to lament one not fulfilling it is itself irrational.

From their Beckwith went on to make the point that if moral rules or rights exist, they are not physical – thus they defy empirical observation. According to the New Atheist rationale then, they do not exist. To contend rights do exist is to deny a materialistic and naturalistic view of reality. I find this interesting considering the consistency with which atheists will assert the ‘right’ of homosexuals to marry – if atheism doesn’t exist, not only do homosexuals not have a right to marry, no one else does either! They can’t even argue it on the basis of ‘equal rights’ because it is an assertion of inherent good or rights which cannot exist in the atheist worldview. All talk of objective inherent rights is nonsense when proffered by an atheist.

Beckwith went on to respond to the notion that morality and rights might be a product of evolution, and thus are inherent to us humans as social beings – the problem with that view is that the tendency to suppress rights and dominate others could as easily be justified by the same rational, and so there is no particular force in such an argument for rights.

Ultimately the existence of morality and rights is best explained as a product of intelligent intent – that we were designed to live a certain way and best do so when we can flourish according to that design. And that the adoption of certain morality and respect for certain rights best allows us to live in accordance with that design. This was the motivation for the assertions in the Declaration of Independence and subsequent adoption of the US Constitution – and interestingly, other human rights charters. The concepts of rights and moral duties are unintelligible apart from the concept of God, and New Atheism either contradicts itself by adopting the language of rights and responsibilities, or undermines these notions all together.