Sunday, 15 July 2012

How atheists avoid considering arguments to prove the reality of the Christian God

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This is pure autobiography...

IF the argument is about the reality of a deity - arguments such as the Five Ways of Aquinas, for example - then it is rejected because obviously such simple 'proofs' cannot prove the reality of something as complex and many-faceted as the Christian God.

And obviously simple arguments could not prove the reality of any kind of god which might have some personal relevance.

So such arguments are not engaged with, or perhaps held at arms length and studied academically - so that whether they are right or wrong becomes a matter of at most mild interest.

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YET if the kind of multi-stage argument that might prove the plausibility and reality of something-like the complexity and relevance of the Christian God - an argument which would necessarily combine metaphysics, logic, history, psychology... all sort of things - then the atheist reacts with Woah there buddy! - One thing at a time! You seems to be assuming an awful lot of stuff.

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So, anything short and simple is obviously too short and simple; anything more complex is too long, and too speculative.

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It's a combination of what purports to be hard-nosed skepticism with a short attention span honed on the sound bite.

There is already a word for this: sophomoric - the wise fool. Wise in his skepticism, foolish in his impatience - productive of armour-plated arrogance.

And this is applied to the fundamentals of life, to the most important questions a man can ask himself...

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5 comments:

The Great and Powerful Oz said...

As a Universalist, I'm not quite as deeply invested in the Christian God as you are. My belief is that God is far too complex for humans to understand and that Christians only have a small part of the truth.

James James said...

"IF the argument is about the reality of a deity - arguments such as the Five Ways of Aquinas, for example - then it is rejected because obviously such simple 'proofs' cannot prove the reality of something as complex and many-faceted as the Christian God."

Erm, no. They are rejected because their premises are wrong or the are logically invalid.

joetexx said...

I aspire to the state where I can take a vacation from blogging while tossing off posts like the last two. I readvHeretics year ago but did not recall this incredible passage about carpe diem.

Anthony said...

Right.

I think part of this typically manifests as "Other smart, informed people have looked at this, and found it doesn't have good logic, doesn't fit with the facts, and so on. I know this because the other smart, informed people I know and read are atheists, or only vaguely theistic. Therefore, I don't need to waste my very limited time figuring out these arguments and what's wrong with them. I mean, if it were true, wouldn't smart people like myself being *saying so*? Yet, they aren't. Therefore, it isn't true. Q.E.D."

When they do look at them, they typically seem absurd, because a) they purport to show God exists, and we know that God does not exist, and b) they don't understand what is actually being said - the concepts or way words are used are often different (for example, consider typical contemporary notions of causality).

bgc said...

@JJ - "They are rejected because their premises are wrong or the are logically invalid."

Not so. But the point is that I accepted *plenty* of arguments whose presmises *were* wrong and whose logic *was* invalid; and arguments whose consequences were absurd, and assertions which were contradicted by direct personal experience... so that can't be it.


Anthony - I'm really talking about myself. And I don't think this particularly applied to Christianity, not least because I have always read and rated-highly a lot of Christian writers - although it did apply to politics.