‘We played the flute for you, yet you did not dance; we wailed in mourning, yet you did not weep.’
Update: Looks like an honest naturalist, materialist, atheist has beat me to the punch on this.
Bravo! Must Read!
It feels useless to “debate” the existence of God online. It seems that 95% of the non-believers’ arguments boil down to, if they are not outright, ad-hominem, argument from authority, question begging, fallacy after fallacy — but almost never an attempt on the non-believer’s part to actually reason for themselves. It is very strange since it would appear that, otherwise, such posters are often actually smart, well educated, intelligent people.
Perhaps this should be no surprise, however, since the “high intellectual debates” that top scientists, professors, and philosophers take part in to defend naturalism, materialism, and atheism, also show clear signs of an intellectual breakdown occurring in this area. There is, for whatever reason (sin???), a serious disconnect.
I think a large amount of the disconnect for the layman can be linked to what I see as the main fallacy advanced as arguments by atheists — the argument from authority.
Although within any particular argument there may be other fallacies advanced, it seems that most are assured, finally, in the fact that they are able to cite that so-and-so teaches such and such. And this indicates a big problem indeed: a vast number of people, even very smart people, are not willing or not able to think through these questions for themselves and come to coherent conclusions, one’s they are confident enough about to advance “in the heat of battle” and have them subjected to scrutiny.
Time and time again arguments for the existence and coherence of God, as well as for the incoherence for the non-existence of God and atheism, are just shut down without argument whatsoever. Again, for whatever reason, people are unwilling or unable to formulate and articulate their own reasoning for their position.
But, neither, I think, should this be surprising. For decades now our society has been inundated with the philosophy that materialism has been scientifically established, as if material can account for itself apart from a cause; that naturalism explains everything, from the cosmos to our brain functions. In short, no appeal to God is necessary to answer the big questions: Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?
What is very unfortunate, however, is that, because of this inundation, so many have simply shut-off from even contemplating these questions for themselves (I mean really contemplating them), as well as contemplating the far reaching implications of the materialistic, naturalistic answers they’ve already been spoon-fed.
This, I submit, is the ripened fruit that has come from the years of pseudo intellectualism advanced in the halls of “higher” education. Group think, at least in this area, has been deemed sufficient. The authorities have marked this ground out of bounds for any serious thought or contemplation by “normal” people.
How have they done this? I suspect a very big part has been accomplished quite easily enough. When we ship our kids off to college, professors have it as their aim quite often to ridicule any thought of God. Professors attack viciously those who show any belief in God, and in many cases dare Christians to defend themselves. And what kind of effect does this have on the bystanders? A quite profound one. After all, would a college professor be so aggressive toward religious belief without a good cause? Surely, they would think, the professors are simply being the leaders they are expected to be and using ruthless methods where need be. If God has been disproved, well, Christians should be ridiculed, shamed, and any other thing necessary to “help” them get over their delusion.
The only problem? Well, God has not been disproved; not even close. In fact, the “intellectuals” are often misled themselves. But the effect on the bystanders is on display everywhere it seems. Ridicule for any displayed belief in God is now the most common and “normal” reaction. Outright hostility toward religious belief hardly surprises anyone these days. In other words, what has been happening on college campuses for decades is now on our front lawns. And I suppose you can take that quite literally, too, since even our front lawns are subject to vandalism and lawsuits these days if there are any religious symbols displayed, even around Christmas for crying out loud!
It’s as if the whole notion of actually thinking about the question has been forgotten. It’s treated as a foregone conclusion by atheists nowadays that God has been disproven. Ask them to reason that out, however, and you’ll get some “facts” thrown at you — like the “fact” that there is no evidence for God — some ad-hominem attacks frequently, a sprinkling of Dawkins warmed over, and often enough vitriol directed at God, the ancient Jews, and the Bible. But when a believer actually engages these “arguments”, atheists don’t know where to begin to reason things through coherently using their own brains. Clearly, most have not seriously thought any of this out; not even the elementary things.
This is why I say the “unperceiving” fruit has ripened. The layman atheists have been content to adhere to arguments from authority for so long that they are in many cases just not able to perceive that the actual arguments for naturalism and materialism are self-refuting. In the end, all of the arguments cut off the branch they are trying to rest on. This may be a hard fact to bring oneself to consider, much less accept, for who would advance such arguments if they were not valid? But the question of the existence of God is one question where we ALL have a dog in the fight. It matters at the most personal level possible. It would be a great mistake to dismiss the emotional influences that otherwise upright people are swayed by in this debate.
A recent example of this came on a forum where the debate comes up often, but which threads are usually deleted by moderators. An obviously very smart and well educated fellow (“he” came across as a “fellow”, anyway) said that it was patently obvious that, since God didn’t exist and nature, produced from the Big Bang is all there was, that every event in the universe was predetermined by the events preceding them, all the way back to the initial bang. Well, I agree with him. IF God doesn’t exist, then, yes, all events can be explained by simple cause and effect. But, the topic (I don’t remember specifically) was about things we believed and why, and his argument was supposed to be taken as a disproof of the existence of God (which also makes it circular). Yes, it is an obvious and inevitable conclusion to think that all events in the universe are predetermined if naturalism is true, but that obviously includes our thoughts and “reasoning”. Yet, he was advocating this position as if he had real insight. But what insight can he claim to have if his own position is actually true? None! His “insight” was just the cause of certain particles of matter bouncing around in the right combination to produce the thoughts he had in his brain.
When I pointed this out to him, however, he cited the “authorities” who have written books on the matter, and it was therefore obviously correct, and that my “ass” (his word), on an internet forum, was in no way going to be able to refute it. Now, I still hold very strictly to my position, but it sure would have been nice to be able to actually dialogue with him and see if I may have overlooked something that would undermine my point. But he simply shut off and either would not, or could not, reason it out himself.
I’m reminded of the very well known classic, How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler. In it he said that, until you can take what you’ve read and put it in your own words, you don’t understand it. I’m strongly inclined to agree. And from the looks of it, many atheists don’t understand the arguments for their own declared position.
Now, I expect that last comment to be strongly taken issue with. But, what I said was that many atheists don’t UNDERSTAND the arguments! Not that they don’t confidently and very vocally boast in their position and belief in their arguments. There’s a big difference. It’s when they are challenged on those arguments that the lack of understanding and perception becomes evident.