Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Rom 1 reply, 39: The unreasonableness of today's common atheistical burden of proof shifting and of the typical taunt, "there's no evidence for god . . . "

In following up in the issues regarding Patrick White, I just ran across this example of a "fundamental atheist argument," which gives a typical -- and inadvertently utterly revealing -- illustration of a typical bit of intimidatory atheistical rhetoric:
The fundamental argument for atheism is that there is no evidence or proof for God. [--> my emphasis, this is the evidentialist form of selective hyperskepticism] There is no solid or tangible evidence for God nor a logical argument for God. The existence of God is taken on faith and not by evidence. [--> In fact, all worldviews rest on faith-points, as is shown below and as is discussed here on, including the importance of self evident truths and especially first principles of right reason and more]

-God can not be proven by science which is the main way we study and understand our universe or natural world. There is no theory of God [--> scientism, which is blatantly self-refuting]
-There is no conclusive logical argument for the existence of God. His/her existence is continuously debated. [--> debate proves only disagreement, which is no proof that here is no cogent and compelling logically justified case for God]
-There is no comprehensive definition of God. There are many definitions for the same God as there are many gods. This is problematic if one is to ascertain the characteristics of God to judge if God exists or not. [--> That we may disagree on some aspects of what God is, or that some may disagree that God is, does not mean there is no coherent understanding of God, OED defines: "
(in Christianity and other monotheistic religions) the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme [--> we safely add, Eternal, Spiritual] being," and the Nicene Creed puts it: "We believe in One God, the Father,t he Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth," cf. also WLC's discussion here.]
The fundamental fallacy in this, is that it sets up and knocks over a series of strawmen, driven by a selective hyperskepticism that fails to understand that when it comes to worldview foundations, as my grandpa used to say, every tub must stand on its own bottom

This is of course multiplied by the now all to familiar implicit a priori but question begging and self-refuting assumption -- or even ideology -- of evolutionary materialist scientism.

And, before I go further, I should note that the "no evidence" talking point rings decidedly hollow. 

What is really meant, is that there is no evidence that the atheistical objector is willing to accept or acknowledge as cogent or compelling

That is, too often such an objector is playing a shift the burden of proof rhetorical tactic, buttressed by selective hyperskepticism or even outright closed minded refusal to entertain contrary evidence and reasoning. (A dead givaway of this is a rudely sneering resort to dismissal of "fairy tales" or comparison of principled and serious theism with belief in "Santa Claus" or the like. )

All of this takes on a very different colour when I must note that I have recently had considerable experience of atheists (who in this case are ever so certain that we are always uncertain in our beliefs, knowledge and reasoning . . . ) refusing to accept the patent certainty of outright self-evident, undeniable truths such as that it is undeniably certain that error exists, or that once we are self aware and conscious -- though we may err on what exactly we are -- that first fact of conscious experience is also certain:

What this speaks to is the importance of key self evident treuths, that are like a bull in the china shop of today's popular radical relativism and subjectivism:
a: We may symbolise the Royce proposition, E: error exists. We can then see that if we try to deny it NOT-E, the joint proposition (E AND NOT-E) will necessarily be false, and it is plain that this is a case of error so E is undeniably true. It is a case of absolute, objective, certainly known truth; a case of certain knowledge. "Justified, true belief," nothing less.
b: It is also a matter of widely observed fact -- starting with our first school exercises with sums and visions of red X's -- confirming the accuracy of a particular consensus of experience.
c: So, here we have a certainly known case of truth existing as that which accurately refers to reality.
d: Also, a case of knowledge existing as warranted, credibly true beliefs, in this case to certainty.
e: Our ability to access truth and knowledge about the real, extra-mental world by experience, reasoning and observation is confirmed in at least one pivotal case.The certainty that we are uncertain, is not only absurdly self-contradictory but shown false by direct examples to the contrary
f: Contemporary worldviews — their name is Legion — that would deny, deride or dismiss such [including the point that there are such things as self evident truths that relate to the real world], are thence shown to be factually inadequate and incoherent. They are unable to explain reality.
g: Such worldviews are, as a bloc, falsified by this one key point. They are unreasonable. (And yes, I know this may be hard to accept, but if your favoured system contradicts soundly established facts and/or truths, it is seriously defective.)
h: Of course the truth in question is particularly humbling and a warning on the limits of our knowledge and the gap between belief and truth or even ability to formulate a logical assertion and truth.
i: So, we need to be humble, and — contrary to assertions about how insisting on such objectivity manifests "arrogance" and potentially oppressive "intolerance" – the first principles of right reason (implicit in the above, drawn out here on, source of this clip) allow us to humbly, honestly test our views so that we can identify when we have gone off the rails and to in at least some cases confirm when our confidence is well grounded.
 That also sets a very different context for assessing the issue at stake, as can be worked through step by step here on.

In more blunt terms, if the real problem is rudely closed minded arrogance, or question-begging selective hyperskepticism that exerts a double-standard in examining what one is willing to accept vs what one will stoutly resist to the bitter end at any price, then the problem is not want of evidence, argument or proof, but irrational ideological militancy in atheism and/or its fellow traveller beliefs and/or its near equivalents.

Such cannot really be reasoned with, the can only be identified and exposed.

But, there's no proof for God, you theists are using . . . FAITH!

So -- demonstrably -- are atheists and anyone else for that matter. We must all think, reason and live by faith rooted in finitely remote first plausibles, some of which are self evident, but many of which are taken as a matter of trust as reasonable and helping to make sense of the world. Such need to be assessed on comparative difficulties analysis across worldviews, on factual adequacy, coherence, and explanatory power.

As will be shown in brief, in a moment. 

(Sneers notwithstanding.) 

When it comes to worldviews and their foundations, the most we can hope, aim and work towards is reasonable faith:

Or, from another angle, we can cite Christian Philosopher William Lane Craig, in a response to Biologist and atheism advocate Clinton Richard Dawkins on arguments to God:
. . .  let’s get clear what makes for a “good” argument. An argument is a series of statements (called premises) leading to a conclusion. A sound argument must meet two conditions: (1) it is logically valid (i.e., its conclusion follows from the premises by the rules of logic), and (2) its premises are true. If an argument is sound, then the truth of the conclusion follows necessarily from the premises. But to be a good argument, it’s not enough that an argument be sound. We also need to have some reason to think that the premises are true. A logically valid argument that has, wholly unbeknownst to us, true premises isn’t a good argument for the conclusion. The premises have to have some degree of justification or warrant for us in order for a sound argument to be a good one. But how much warrant? The premises surely don’t need to be known to be true with certainty (we know almost nothing to be true with certainty!). Perhaps we should say that for an argument to be a good one the premises need to be probably true in light of the evidence. I think that’s fair, though sometimes probabilities are difficult to quantify. Another way of putting this is that a good argument is a sound argument in which the premises are more plausible in light of the evidence than their opposites. You should compare the premise and its negation and believe whichever one is more plausibly true in light of the evidence. A good argument will be a sound argument whose premises are more plausible than their negations.
He then continues: 
Given that definition, the question is this: Are there good arguments for God’s existence?
Where of course, we need to identify two caveats. First, that a given argument is not persuasive to the sort of skeptics we are addressing will be no surprise, as they will be found objecting to things that are self-evidently so on pain of patent and immediate absurdity. Plausibility here must mean, to a reasonable, open minded, critically aware, reasonably informed person. 

Second, once we touch on worldview foundations, we are not just dealing with proofs in the strictly deductive sense but grand inferences to best or at least highly plausible explanations anchored in relevant facts, coherence and balanced explanatory power that is neither simplistic nor a patch-work of after the fact assertions and assumptions that are only justified by their plugging ever more and more holes.

With these in mind, we can then address the reality of God as the root of being, from which all other realities come.

So, can a reasonable and plausible, reasonable faith case be made that allows a reasonable person to think there is good reason to accept the reality of God?

The first, and in many ways the best answer is to ask those who know the reality of God as they have met him in life-transforming power. 

For instance, if it had not been for a miracle of guidance in answer to my Mom's prayer of surrender, I simply would not be here today, these forty years now. So, as one who knows God by having met him in transforming power, I have very good reason indeed to think it just as plausible that God is, as that my Mother is. Where the man who has the reality of knowing God personally, is simply not at the mercy of the man who comes armed with a skeptically dismissive or disdaining argument.

But, we are actually at no loss for good reasons to accept the reality of God, e.g., (as I often point out) Jesus is an excellent reason to believe in the reality of God:

Similarly, Peter Kreeft's five arguments here 

1. Argument from Design (0:40)
2. Argument from First Cause (8:04)
3. Argument from Conscience (18:20)
4. Argument from Desire (28:47)
5. Pascal's Wager (34:05)

. . . are not simply "no evidence" and "no proof":

Likewise, his more extended set of twenty arguments here make a lot of sense as a cumulative case in light of the issues faced by alternatives that try to deny the reality of God. (Not to mention the more extensive discussion here on and elsewhere. And, if you want to see my own 101 level worldview foundations survey, cf. here on.)

Believing in the reality of God -- never mind dismissive skepticism -- is quite plainly, reasonable faith. END