Monday, January 20, 2014

Short-form Thoughts

SFT #1: On Mental Illness & Climate Change.

I find a less recognized way in which religion harms society is in how it encourages many theists to deny the negative effects of mental illness and climate change. Because the existence of these things imply that, if there is an agency behind everything, that agency doesn't have our best interests in mind, they refuse to consider that they are real. This denial delays or thwarts the prospect of working on and potentially fixing issues that inhibit individuals' well-being and threaten our lives.

SFT #2: Disbelief in Magic

Theists often misunderstand why I disbelieve the bible. Let me be clear--it's because of the talking animals, duplicating seafood, parting seas, magic plagues, transforming matter, and resurrections. There are other valid reasons to be skeptical, but reasons 1 thru 100 are all the violations of common experience and observation that are not naturally possible. The same reasons that theists, hopefully, would doubt a tagline like "based on a true story" for Lord of the Rings.

SFT #3: Seeing Through Most Any Apologetic Argument

How I see religious apologetic arguments:

Formation 1.
Make an assumption that can only be true if God is real.
Use that assumption to say God is real.

Formation 2.
Find something with an incomplete explanation.
Substitute with a complete explanation based on the assumption that only God can be responsible.
Use that assumption to say God is real.

(In both cases, it would burn less calories to just assume God is real.)


  1. Grundy,
    Exactly which arguments for the existence of God (besides the fine-tuning and Paley design argument) satisfy SFT#3? For example, how does the cosmological argument, or the argument from contingency, satisfy SFT#3?

    1. Our theory for the origin of the universe is incomplete (the Big Bang covers only the inflationary period from a hypothesized singularity, but what came before, if anything, and what was the catalyst for the inflation is very unclear.) Christian apologists substitute with the complete, assumed explanation of divine magic via an eternal deity did it. They then use the assumption to say God is real.

    2. Correct, but the classical theistic proofs make no use of cosmology; that is, they don't really care whether the universe is eternal or whether it began at some time. The only argument that explicitly argues for a beginning of the universe is Craig's KCA. The traditional arguments for God's existence (e.g. the argument from motion, the argument from contingency, the argument for the simplicity of unconditioned reality, ontological argument) make no use of this God of the gaps reasoning.

      Moreover, most of these proofs are deductive and therefore do not make any explicit "assumptions". They follow logical premises whereby each premise is argued for. None of this involves sneaking in assumptions through the backdoor.

      So, if you view "any" argument for the existence of God under these terms then it seems your comprehension of these proofs is lacking.

    3. "Correct, but the classical theistic proofs make no use of cosmology" the first thing you asked for is how the cosmological argument satisfied SFT#3. It's literally called the cosmological argument, granted there are a bunch of formations of it.

      The assumption is the ruling out of every explanation that isn't God. God is only "necessarily true" if those assumptions are at play.

    4. Yes, forgive me for being sloppy with my terms. The traditional Cosmological arguments obviously make use of cosmology in the wide sense, but they make no use of yielding to what physics tells us of cosmology (e.g. Big Bang Cosmology).

      Moreover, I'm still confused with why you continue to predicate the charge of "assumption" at these arguments. A logical deduction does not make assumptions. Most logical proofs for the existence of God (e.g. the ones i listed previously) only end at God; they do not begin with God. and if they do not begin with God then there is no assumption present. The reason that every explanation that isnt God is ruled out is because these syllogisms end at a being that is necessary, pure being, immaterial etc, and from there it is deduced that only one explanation accounts for these attributes. Now, whether one agrees with these deductions is one thing, but there is no assumption predicated in these arguments.

    5. That God is necessary is the assumption.

    6. Not at all. That God is necessary is a conclusion deduced by logically prior steps, and, therefore is not, by definition, an assumption. The whole point of a deductive argument is to arrive at an inference that has been supported by premises. So, how can the conclusion be an assumption?

    7. Since I think we both made our points already on your blog, here is a plug for those interested in coming to their own conclusions.

  2. "The same reasons that theists, hopefully, would doubt a tagline like "based on a true story" for Lord of the Rings."

    This is great! I may steal it!

  3. Each of these short from thoughts warrants applause. I especially loved the one about religious arguments. So Bravo Bravo Bravo.