Sunday, 27 December 2009

Part 7: Summary

From the series: 6 Ultimate Reasons Not To Be An Atheist?

In summary
The most surprising element is at the end of the video, where the authors tie these six "fallacies" to every word written in every book by the new atheists. Now of these six points, only one really stands out as a necessity: point 4. Maybe point 5 if one was to be generous. But as much as I try, it might be undesirable but irrelevant for the other four points. The problem with making appeals to consequences based on desire is that one is at best making the case for it being undesirable as opposed to wrong.

In The God Delusion for example, Dawkins spends a good portion of the book discussing morality. Not in terms of what ought to be, but a discussion of the evidence. Some philosophical hand-waving is not going to take away the points Dawkins makes about the origins of morality or the problems associated with claiming morality comes from God?

The problem as I highlighted in the first post is that they see atheism as an alternative world-view, which it is not. Atheism is the implicit or explicit rejection of the notion of interventionist deities. It's the not-belief, non-belief, it doesn't actually define anything. It doesn't make any positive claims about the nature of anything, yet it is being treated as if it should.

I tried in these refutations to get past such semantic distinction and move onto practical discussion. I'm not sure if I've succeeded in this, for some it might appear as if I'm shifting the goalposts. And I did in a way, but I think I did it in such a manner that made it relevant. Like the point on absolute truth, the makers of the video made an incredibly weak argument, but instead I chose to pursue an explanation befitting of the question asked. I feel this is a more intellectually honest way of going about it, because just countering their arguments is hardly going to counter their objections. A bad argument for a real problem doesn't go away with destroying the bad argument.

What I saw in this video was a couple of teenagers who are looking for an ultimate defeater argument of atheism, yet all it did was highlight that they haven't seriously considered what it actually means to be an atheist. They haven't read the books (a good place to start would be John W. Loftus' Why I Became An Atheist) nor are they very familiar with the concept. Given they link to a Conservapedia article on atheism, they aren't going to really understand.

And that's the problem, they just don't understand what they are arguing against. Because they don't understand, they can't develop effective arguments against it. Instead what is concocted is an elaborate straw-man that sounds good but will only resonate with others who also don't understand.

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