Monday, December 6, 2010

Taking the negative view


Atheism and skepticism have nothing to offer when it comes to evidence, but they do have plenty to say contra theism and the Christian worldview. In fact, skeptics can't say anything of note, so why should they be taken seriously? Skepticism is self defeating as a worldview, because the battle cry of skepticism (It is true that we need to be skeptical) espouses nothing more than relativism.

What about atheism? Again atheism offers no positive reasons why one should believe in the non-existence of God. Atheistic arguments always seem to take the negative view against theism or Christianity. About the only argument that atheism has is the argument from evil, but even this argument fails to show the non-existence of God, because recognizing evil means there must be a moral law. Evil points out that this world is not the way it is suppose to be. The most damaging part of the argument from evil is how to reconcile evil with an all-powerful and omni-benevolent God, but again this does not show that God does not exist.

What about the Christian worldview, does it offer positive evidence for its view? On the Christian world view a positive cumulative case can be made for the existence of God and the truthfulness of Christianity. Various arguments concerning the existence of God can be given such as: the Kalam cosmological argument, the design arguments (moral, mind, biological, astronomical), and revelation. All of these arguments placed together are pieces of a puzzle that reveal a positive case for God's existence. The late Anthony Flew stated that the cumulative argument can't be sustained if one of the arguments is flawed. He compared the cumulative approach to a leaky bucket; all you need is one leak to drain the bucket. However, it was a design argument (DNA information) that convinced Flew to change from atheism to theism. The cumulative approach brings many arguments together that support one another in order to show that theism is the most rational approach.

Like the cumulative approach for theism, the historicity of the Christian worldview offers cumulative evidence to show it is the most logical view. The cumulative evidence of Christianity rests on the person of Jesus. As Paul stated in his letter to the Corinthians, " If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God (1 Cor. 15:14-15)." The evidence rests primarily on the person of Jesus and his resurrection, which includes: prophesy, secular writings along with the gospel narratives, the empty tomb, the women as the first witnesses of Jesus, the resurrection occurring in Jerusalem, the post-mortem appearances, and the changed lives of the disciples.

Atheism and skepticism can present no positive case for their worldview, only the negative tearing away at theism or Christianity. Part of the problem with these worldviews is that they rely too heavily upon a Humeian system of proof. The late atheist, David Hume, set the bar way to high for anything that could even be considered as truth. In fact, his own standard of absolute, 100% proof, can not be sustained to show that his view of what should count for truth should be accepted. Much like David Hume's reasoning, atheism and skepticism attacks theism and Christianity in such a way they do not have to justify.

Atheism and skepticism are forced to take the negative view, because meaninglessness is ultimately what they are arguing for. As C.S. Lewis rightly pointed out, "Atheism turn out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning."[1] Taking the negative view does nothing to advance one's cause, and yet, this is exactly the approach of both the atheist and skeptic.

[1] Lewis, C.S., Mere Christianity, p. 46
  • For a detailed article on "Hume and a cumulative case argument", by Doug Geivett - click here



20 comments:

Tylor said...

Part 01

Thanks Shelby for making your comments. But I think some things need to be said and for you to flesh out.

"Atheism and skepticism have nothing to offer when it comes to evidence, but they do have plenty to say contra theism and the Christian worldview."

Well, it is true atheism by itself has nothing to offer when it comes to evidence because atheism isn't really a positively evidenced based claim. Skepticism is often what leads to an atheistic position. Though, an unhealthy skepticism isn't helpful.

"In fact, skeptics can't say anything of note, so why should they be taken seriously?"

I just don't think that is the case. I would imagine skepticism is what has led to more sophisticated arguments for Christianity. Skeptical thinking helps sharpen worldviews.

“Skepticism is self defeating as a worldview, because the battle cry of skepticism (It is true that we need to be skeptical) espouses nothing more than relativism."

I guess it depends on how skeptical you are. I don't think being skeptical of claims as a method is self defeating.

"What about atheism? Again atheism offers no positive reasons why one should believe in the non-existence of God."

I think it offers plenty of reasons why one should not believe in God. First, many atheists point out how the case for God has not been made. Second, they have shown where the idea of God, at least understood by Christians, cannot exist.

"Atheistic arguments always seem to take the negative view against theism or Christianity. About the only argument that atheism has is the argument from evil, but even this argument fails to show the non-existence of God, because recognizing evil means there must be a moral law."

There are many more arguments against God than the argument from evil. Also, one does not need to believe in "evil" to use this argument against the Christian God. Rather, it can be used as an internal critique.

"Evil points out that this world is not the way it is suppose to be."

If evil exists. That claim needs to be established. There are things that many people don’t like. But just because one doesn’t like them doesn’t make them evil in any objective sense.

"The most damaging part of the argument from evil is how to reconcile evil with an all-powerful and omni-benevolent God, but again this does not show that God does not exist."

Maybe not logically impossible, like a circle-square. But it does make it much less attractive and seemingly implausible.

"What about the Christian worldview, does it offer positive evidence for its view?"

Not very good positive evidence.

Continued in the next comment.

Tylor said...

Part 02

"Various arguments concerning the existence of God can be given such as: the Kalam cosmological argument,"

First, this assumes the a-theory, or dynamic theory, of time. Given that this theory is, scientifically speaking (though I admit it seems more commonsensical given that is how we seem to experience time), is less probable than its alternative (static theory of time) the argument is already on shaky ground, if not lost. It also doesn't get you YHWH. I realize it is often used in a culmative case but I don't think the resurrection establishes YHWH and that is the only part of the case that gets you there (assuming it succeeded).

Part 02

"the design arguments (moral, mind, biological, astronomical)"

The designer doesn't need to be YHWH. It could be anything. And that's assuming there is a designer. Maybe there is something else going on completely beyond our imaginations. Maybe there is a multiverse. I also find it hard to find design arguments convincing because one would need to know what the universe was actually for. Sure, if it was designed for human life maybe its constants are improbable. But there is no way to know whether the universe was designed for human life. That's an unprovable assumption. Maybe, if the universe was designed for stars, the constants are slightly less probable. Maybe it was designed for something we don't even know yet.

"and revelation."

Not sure why the Bible should be considered revelation from a super being. Even assuming the resurrection happened (which is what is needed to even begin to think the Bible may be the "Word of God") this wouldn't prove a thing. Maybe Jesus was resurrected by an evil God. Maybe Jesus was brought back from the dead by a powerful God, but not the classical Christian God. Maybe Jesus was brought back from death by mistake. Maybe Jesus was brought back from death by aliens.

Also, it doesn’t establish that, say, Esther is the Word of God. Or which form of Isaiah is the Word of God. Or whether 3 John is the Word of God. It just shows that a man who was resurrected believed some undefined collection of books could be used when making points to people. Just in the same way Jude or Paul quotes sayings and writings not considered to be divine.

Then there are all the reasons to think that Jesus actually didn't come back from the dead. Maybe the disciples lied. Maybe the disciples were mistaken. Maybe the disciples were fooled. Maybe it was a combination of these things. And that's assuming the accounts are accurate. What if they aren't? What if the Jesus mythers are correct and the whole thing is largely a fabrication?

"All of these arguments placed together are pieces of a puzzle that reveal a positive case for God's existence."

Maybe it's a positive case, but it doesn't lead one to the conclusion that the trinitarian YHWH exists. Even if it succeeds (which it doesn’t).

"However, it was a design argument (DNA information) that convinced Flew to change from atheism to theism."

To deism would be more precise. And Flew didn't believe the design argument led to trinitarian YHWHism.

Continued in the next comment.

Tylor said...

Part 03

"The cumulative approach brings many arguments together that support one another in order to show that theism is the most rational approach."

Not by a long shot.

"Like the cumulative approach for theism, the historicity of the Christian worldview offers cumulative evidence to show it is the most logical view."

Not really.

"The cumulative evidence of Christianity rests on the person of Jesus."

The character of Jesus may be great. Christianity may have done some good things. But it doesn't mean its core teachings are true.

"As Paul stated in his letter to the Corinthians, " If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God (1 Cor. 15:14-15).""

I don't really agree with Paul here. Sure, if Christ had not been raised what you believe is false (even IF Jesus was raised what you believe could very well be false). But Jesus had some teachings that are attractive. Not all of them, but there can be no question that his teaching helped the West in several respects. So the faith wasn't totally in vain. It was just in vain when it comes to life after life after death.

"The evidence rests primarily on the person of Jesus and his resurrection,"

Which isn't really very good evidence. At least by today's standards. And if you want to argue that it was good by ancient standards that won't get you very far. So what if it is good by ancient standards (which I don't grant)? Ancient standards aren't really the best standards.

"which includes: prophesy,"

Really? Typological prophesies aren't really that great, nor are they what most people think of as good evidence. Even seemingly direct prophecies are a little too ambiguous to be definitive. And even if they aren't ambiguous, they aren't conclusive nor can we be sure Jesus actually fulfilled them in the way they were intended.

"secular writings along with the gospel narratives"

All the secular writings could possibly justify in a best case scenario is that there was probably a Jesus and he was known to be a magician/miracle worker/teacher who had followers and who had a following continue after his death. That's at the most. Hardly what you need.

"the empty tomb"

So what if the tomb was empty? Assuming this is true there could be any number of reasons why the tomb was empty besides YHWH raising him from the dead.

Continued in the next comment.

Tylor said...

Part 04

"the women as the first witnesses of Jesus"

So what? Maybe the earliest Christians wanted to appeal to women? Sure, men wouldn't take it seriously but woman would. And maybe men who liked women would be attracted to the story because they knew they would find women at the meetings. This part of the story says nothing beyond the fact that the tomb was empty. And that’s assuming the tomb was actually empty.

"the resurrection occurring in Jerusalem"

So what? Because people could check the tomb?

"the post-mortem appearances"

Doesn't prove resurrection. Maybe Jesus was resuscitated for a time? Maybe they were being deceived by an evil God? Interestingly, many didn't recognize Jesus at first, but only after an extended period of time.

"and the changed lives of the disciples."

Maybe they really believed what they were saying. But that doesn't mean what they said was true.

"Atheism and skepticism can present no positive case for their worldview"

Well, skeptical thinking, especially in science, has helped produce amazing results. One could argue that skeptical thinking, like democracy, isn't perfect but the best approach we have. The results of science back this claim up. Also, while atheism is a position, it's not a worldview. Naturalism is a worldview, but it isn't entailed by atheism.

"Part of the problem with these worldviews is that they rely too heavily upon a Humian system of proof."

Maybe certain forms of skepticism. Doesn't mean we throw the baby out with the bath water.

"The late atheist, David Hume, set the bar way to high for anything that could even be considered as truth."

Maybe he did. Doesn't mean we throw the baby out with the bath water.

"In fact, his own standard of absolute, 100% proof, can not be sustained to show that his view of what should count for truth should be accepted."

Of course one doesn't need 100% proof to rationally believe something. But I don't think Christianity even meets .5 on a 1 point continuum of rationality.

"Atheism and skepticism are forced to take the negative view, because meaninglessness is ultimately what they are arguing for."

Ok, so everything is meaningless. Doesn't mean YHWH exists.

"As C.S. Lewis rightly pointed out, "Atheism turn out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning.""

Not sure why that is the case. Humanity has evolved to create meaning. Thus, we know what the concept of "meaning" is and know how to create it for ourselves (even if there is no such thing as ultimate, non-subjective meaning). Therefore, we should be able to look at the universe and figure out if it appears to be functioning as if it has meaning. Of course, there is no way to know if it has meaning in an objective sense, but at least we can conceive of and ask the question justifiably in a meaningless universe.

Continued in the next comment.

Tylor said...

Part 05

"Taking the negative view does nothing to advance one's cause, and yet, this is exactly the approach of both the atheist and skeptic."

Sure. But that doesn't prove YHWH's existence. And of course, a case for naturalism can be made. But making a case for naturalism and being an atheist are two different things.

Chad said...

Shelby,

Great post! I just wanted to let you know that I featured it here.

Godspeed

Shelby Cade said...

Hi Tylor,

Thanks so much for your response. I think you make some good points, especially concerning what you had to say about skepticism. I agree that a healthy skepticism sharpens our beliefs in order to give them more justification. Ultimately the quest for truth is the most important endeavor for the big questions of life. You and I are aware that many in our culture accept blindly many different worldview positions without really sifting through the evidence; I see it all the time at church. :)

I don't have time to answer all your points, but will make a few comments. First, the approach of the blog was to contrast the explanatory positions of atheism and theism/Christianity (which are two separate subjects). You are correct in some of your points that God/Christianity is not proved by some of the points made. Overall, I was trying to show that Christian theism offers a coherent cumulative case of arguments to support its position. I find no such method of argumentation from atheism. If atheism is the worldview you believe to be true, then why do we find no coherent cumulative arguments to support your worldview?
The arguments I hear from atheism are random such as the many worlds guess (I don't think you want to try and defend this) and Hawkings recent statement that physics caused the universe. It's like the only way the atheist has to argue is to constantly say, "What about this and this..." This way of arguing puts forth no explanatory evidence, but is only conjectural gibberish.

Concerning Jesus and the Christian worldview, I think it is incumbent upon you to offer a more rational theory. When the evidence points to someone rising from the dead, that gets my attention. Well, there is much more I could say, but I'm glad you took the time to respond. I may in the later blogs address some of your points. Until a better explanation is offered, I'm sticking with Christianity, based upon the evidence.Blessings to you, my friend. - Shelby

Tylor said...

Part 01

Hi Shelby,

This blogger limit on the length of comments is annoying!

Thanks for responding. I will eagerly await your future blog responses. But till then, I want to interact with a few things you said in response to my comments.

“You and I are aware that many in our culture accept blindly many different worldview positions without really sifting through the evidence; I see it all the time at church.”

Yes, the church is full of uncritical minds. From what I have seen, very few read their Bible, very few can even give an inkling of why they believe or any substance to what they believe. And when they get to university they obviously fall like a house of cards. The downside is is that when they fall they just fall uncritically into whatever worldview is currently being espoused on their campus. Obviously, I agree more with those worldviews but I’d rather they come to those positions because of their critical thinking and not because it’s popular.

“Overall, I was trying to show that Christian theism offers a coherent cumulative case of arguments to support its position. I find no such method of argumentation from atheism.”

I appreciate that. However, I think you are conflating atheism and naturalism. The two are not the same. Atheism doesn’t require much in the form of argumentation. Of course, a positive case for it can be made (showing how the concept of the Christian God is illogical or impossible, etc.), but it is suffice for someone to be an atheist just believing that the case for God hasn’t been made. On the other hand, naturalism would need a more robust defense. And in that area I think there is a lot of argumentation.

“If atheism is the worldview you believe to be true, then why do we find no coherent cumulative arguments to support your worldview?”

Well, I do not think atheism is a worldview. It is a position on a very specific question. Naturalism is a worldview however, and it is shared by many atheists, but not all (the recent survey of philosophers just released bears this out as well). And I think there are quite good arguments for naturalism.

Continued in the next comment.

Tylor said...

Part 02

“The arguments I hear from atheism are random such as the many worlds guess (I don't think you want to try and defend this) and Hawkings recent statement that physics caused the universe.”

Well, the many worlds/multiverse hypothesis is of course unprovable (at least in the near and probably far future). However, I think it is at the very least as good of a hypothesis as the God hypothesis. It’s not like scientists are saying unicorns created the universe (I’m not comparing the God hypothesis to belief in unicorns). Rather, they are positing something that seems reasonable, at least as reasonable as God. As for Hawkins statement, well it does seem a little silly when taken literally. Of course, his definition of “nothing” is not the common everyday understanding of nothing as non-being. When one realizes this his hypothesis makes a little more sense. Of course, he is still stuck with questions like why these particular laws of physics exist the way they do and a lot of other why/how questions. But I would imagine Christians have similar mysteries in their worldview.

For example, how can an omniscient being exist? Would not an omniscient being need to know all possible knowledge? And if that is the case, is there not an infinite amount of possible knowledge? There is at the very least an infinite amount of mathematical knowledge. But how can an actual infinite exist? Isn’t that the basis of the Kalam argument? That’s more of a problem than a mystery. A mystery would be more like how can an immaterial mind create matter? Or how can a timeless being think? That’s seems like a mystery that while maybe not outright illogical has to be at least thought of as a mystery.

“It's like the only way the atheist has to argue is to constantly say, "What about this and this..."”

Well, that of course is a little unfair. I see Christians do this all the time as well. Also, not all atheists make the same kind of positive claim that Christians are making. A valid atheistic position is to say I’m just not convinced as of yet that the claim “God exists” is true. Christians don’t have that luxury. They can say the atheist hasn’t convinced them their belief is false but they can’t say they aren’t convinced by the case for Christianity and still rationally accept it. They would have to at least accept the validity of their own religious experience even if they felt all other arguments were inadequate.

Continued in the next comment.

Tylor said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tylor said...

Part 03

“This way of arguing puts forth no explanatory evidence, but is only conjectural gibberish.”

Not really.

“Concerning Jesus and the Christian worldview, I think it is incumbent upon you to offer a more rational theory.”

Not necessarily (I’m assuming you’re talking about the resurrection here.). I think it would be fair to say that maybe no explanation is a good one and that the evidence unfortunately is not enough to make a conclusive claim either way. One could point out that the Gospels and Paul just aren’t reliable enough to warrant the claim that someone did something that normally never happens (resurrection).

But let’s say we accept the points of the current popular argument for Jesus’ resurrection. That Jesus died on a cross, was buried in a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea, that his tomb was found empty by a group of his women followers three days later, that many people reported seeing physical appearances of Jesus for aprox 40 days after this, and that his followers proclaimed his resurrection and Gospel even though there were many reasons not too [E.g. antithetical to Jewish ideas about the resurrection (no concept of an early resurrection) and God becoming human, persecution, etc.] on pain of death.

For starters, even if this argument works, does this prove Trinitarian YHWHism? Not at all. At most it proves that Jesus rose from the dead. It’s says nothing about why he was raised, how he was raised, or who did the raising. Maybe an evil God raised him for a joke. Maybe time travelers wanted to change history. Maybe Jesus wasn’t human but rather an alien with healing ability and wanted to enlighten the human race. While these ideas seem unlikely they don’t appear to me to be any less unlikely than a trinitarian YHWH. Extraordinary events usually require extraordinary explanations and thus while the God hypothesis is reasonable as an extraordinary explanation so are many others (note I’m not using the canard that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, that I think is clearly false as it is incredibly improbable and miraculous that I would exist and yet there is a very simple non-extraordinary reason for my being here. I’m using a more nuanced statement that I think the Christian should be very willing to accept as it at least makes God a reasonable hypothesis).

So, even if you can prove Jesus rose from the dead, it doesn’t get you traditional orthodox Christianity. It just gets you “Jesus rose from the dead”
And that’s assuming your case has been made. Obviously, there are many problems with all those lines of evidence, all starting with the question whether the sources we get those lines of evidence are reliable.

Tylor said...

Part 04

“When the evidence points to someone rising from the dead, that gets my attention.”

I can appreciate that. But that doesn’t all of a sudden mean the Nicene Creed is true.

“Well, there is much more I could say, but I'm glad you took the time to respond. I may in the later blogs address some of your points. Until a better explanation is offered, I'm sticking with Christianity, based upon the evidence. Blessings to you, my friend. – Shelby”

Maybe the problem is that an explanation isn’t really available. Maybe Christianity spread not because it was true but rather because it had some powerful radical ideas, images, and life transforming power relative to the culture at the time.

Thanks for the dialogue Shelby. I will await your response or further blog posts.

Shelby Cade said...

Hi Tylor,

Your four part response only confirms what I said previously. You are all over the map. Your talking about the Nicene Creed and orthodox Christianity has absolutely nothing to do with the original blog. You have shown exactly what I bloged about, that atheism has no concise way to argue. At least the Christian worldview can be evaluated based upon a cumulative case. Atheism can make no concise case, because you are arguing for meaninglessness, so what does that make your method of argumentation?

You are correct by saying the church is full of uncritical minds, but the same also goes for atheism. Many who claim to be atheistic accept the tenets of atheism blindly, believing without investigating the evidence. My advice to you, is to not be critical of Christianity, unless you can show that it does not match up with the truth. You have given no evidence to show Jesus did not physically rise from the dead. All you have presented is the same old rehashed conjecture.

As far as naturalism and atheism being different, I would say they are different in definition only, but they are playing on the same team. Naturalism assumes there is no such thing as the Supernatural, which sounds a whole lot like atheism. And, atheism not being a worldview on your count is a complete cop-out. Worldview is defined as, an intellectual perspective on the world or universe.

I could go on, but am afraid I'm wasting time and energy if you are unwilling to offer a concise argument for atheism or naturalism that would tip the scales in your favor. Being unwilling to admit atheism as a worldview only compounds the problem of meaningful dialogue. By the way, the definition for a worldview comes by way of Oregon State University, which is not exactly an abode of conservative thinking. I will give you the last word if you choose to respond.

Tylor said...

Part 01

Thanks Shelby for the response. And of course, I have some more comments ;)

“Your four part response only confirms what I said previously. You are all over the map. Your talking about the Nicene Creed and orthodox Christianity has absolutely nothing to do with the original blog.”

I think that is a little unfair. If you notice in my comments I am responding directly to your claims. If I am all over the map it is because you took us there.

“You have shown exactly what I bloged about, that atheism has no concise way to argue.”

I think I made a few arguments. But maybe that’s not what you are looking for? Are you looking for syllogisms? Is that what you mean by “concise”? So like the following:

1.There is a natural world. (various evidence could be shown)

2. This is agreed upon by Christians and atheists alike. (sort of a lowest common denominator)

3. To show there is anything beyond the natural world (the supernatural) it is incumbent on the person making the claim to provide reasons or evidence for that claim.

4. The Christian claims there is the supernatural.

5. Therefore it is incumbent on the Christian to provide reasons or evidence for the supernatural (from 3)

6. If the Christian does not provide sufficient reason for belief in the supernatural (where sufficient is defined as more likely than its negative) he is unjustified in believing in the supernatural. (from 3, 4, 5)

You have not provided sufficient reason to believe in the supernatural. Therefore, as it stands, naturalism is the more rational worldview to hold.

Also, to be an atheist I don’t have to prove that there is no god or gods period. That would actually be impossible. There is no way I could prove that every conceivable idea of god/gods do not exist. Thus, I am open to the possibility of some sort of deist god or maybe some sort of super beings pulling the strings. I said as much in my above comments. However, it is possible to provide arguments as to why the Christian God doesn’t exist and thus be an atheist in regards to the Christian God. Two standard templates for these types of arguments would be:

Tylor said...

Part 02

(By God I mean the traditional orthodox Christian understanding of God)

1.If the God exists, then the attributes of God are consistent with one another.

2.Some attributes of God are not consistent with one another.

3.Therefore, God does not and cannot exist.

&

1.If God exists, then he must have attribute x.

2.Attribute x is impossible.

3.Therefore, the Christian God does not exist.

So, for example, I could make this argument:

1.If God exists, then he is perfect.

2.If God exists, then he is the creator of the universe.

3.A perfect being can have no needs or wants.

4.If any being created the universe, then he must have had some need or want.

5.Therefore, it is impossible for a perfect being to be the creator of the universe (from 3 & 4)

6.Hence, it is impossible for God to exist (from 1, 2, and 5).

Or this argument:

1.If God exists he is omniscient.

2.To be omniscient one must know all facts.

3.But there are an infinite amount of facts.

4.An actual infinite is impossible.

5.Therefore, God cannot be omniscient. (from 2, 4, and 4)

6.If God is not omniscient he cannot exist. (from 1 and 5)

Thus, contrary to your claim, an atheist could easily make a cumulative case against the Christian God. Provide a couple of arguments like the ones above, show that various Christian arguments do not work, critique the Bible, and viola, you have a concise cumulative case for atheism, at least in regards to Christianity. Now maybe these arguments don’t work. I’m sure you will think that they don’t. But don’t make the silly claim that atheists never or cannot argue a concise cumulative case for atheism.

“At least the Christian worldview can be evaluated based upon a cumulative case."

Yes it can, and I think it fails.

"Atheism can make no concise case, because you are arguing for meaninglessness, so what does that make your method of argumentation?”

False.

“You are correct by saying the church is full of uncritical minds, but the same also goes for atheism. Many who claim to be atheistic accept the tenets of atheism blindly, believing without investigating the evidence.”

I agree and I said as much in my above comments.

“My advice to you, is to not be critical of Christianity, unless you can show that it does not match up with the truth.”

My advice to you is not to accept Christianity unless you can show that it does match up with the truth. You have not.

Continued in the next comment.

Tylor said...

Part 03

“You have given no evidence to show Jesus did not physically rise from the dead. All you have presented is the same old rehashed conjecture.”

Remember, one of my points was that even if Jesus was physically raised from the dead that doesn’t mean Christianity is true. Now, I don’t think the case is made for Jesus being raised physically from the dead, but we can discuss that in another blog post.

Furthermore, even if Jesus was raised physically from the dead, this does not prove “resurrection”. Many people were raised from the dead physically in the Bible, but they all died again. You have no evidence that Jesus didn’t die at a later date. Just because his disciples saw him ascend into the sky is in no way evidence that he is now still alive. Nor because his body had certain peculiar type qualities (walking through walls & disappearing for example) does this prove that he is still alive. And even if you could prove he was still alive, which you can’t, that doesn’t mean he won’t die in the future. Thus, it is impossible for you to prove the resurrection. At most you can prove he rose physically from the dead and that doesn’t get you the whole host of other beliefs you desire (e.g. the Nicene Creed).

“As far as naturalism and atheism being different, I would say they are different in definition only, but they are playing on the same team. Naturalism assumes there is no such thing as the Supernatural, which sounds a whole lot like atheism.”

All naturalists are atheists, however, not all atheists are naturalists.

“And, atheism not being a worldview on your count is a complete cop-out. Worldview is defined as, an intellectual perspective on the world or universe.”

Atheism is not a worldview. Naturalism is a worldview. Atheism is but one part of a worldview. For example, an atheist could be a Buddhist or he could be a naturalist. Atheism is but one feature of several worldviews. Thus, it is not a worldview in itself. You keep conflating the two.

“I could go on, but am afraid I'm wasting time and energy if you are unwilling to offer a concise argument for atheism or naturalism that would tip the scales in your favor.”

I’ve offered arguments and critiqued yours. I believe the scales are in my favour.

“Being unwilling to admit atheism as a worldview only compounds the problem of meaningful dialogue.”

No, calling atheism a worldview is what is compounding the problem of meaningful dialogue. I think what you really are arguing against is naturalism.

“By the way, the definition for a worldview comes by way of Oregon State University, which is not exactly an abode of conservative thinking. I will give you the last word if you choose to respond.”

I have no problem with the definition.

I mainly responded to this article because it's main thesis is plainly false. Atheism can and does offer positive reasons why one should believe in the non-existence of God. You may disagree with them, but atheists provide them nonetheless.

Thank you for the dialog.

Shelby Cade said...

Tylor,

Thanks so much for your recent comments. I will not rebut them here, only make a few comments. I very much appreciate your most recent 3 part comments, they were direct and to the point. I shall blog later on some of what you had to say.

You are correct by saying that atheism cannot be proved, and I'm sure you are in agreement with me that theism/Christianity cannot be proved. When people speak of proof, unfortunately they usually mean something like a David Hume type proof, which is impossible no matter where you stand (this is what I referred to on the original blog).

You said the scales tip in your favor and of course I see it differently. I think we are on the same page here, in that, a inference to the best explanation based on the evidence is what we are after. Thanks for your correspondence. You have given me and others (if they have followed your comments) much to think about. I hope you and your family have a great holiday season. - Shelby

Tylor said...

Shelby,

No, I don't require Humeian type standards of proof. I think something can reasonably be believed if the idea is more reasonable to believe than its negative. There is also a subjective element to everything we believe and so one has to be flexible. Unfortunately, I just don't think Christianity meets the grade.

Thanks for the dialog. I hope you and your family have a good Christmas and enjoy it in the way you find best.

- Tylor

Thom said...

Intriguing exchange between Tylor and Shelby. And the winner is . . .

The pursuit of Truth, capital T permitted?, is a journey. We seem to encounter problems when we make it an end. With Christianity, as with all beliefs, the pursuit has come to an end. Christians are now the purveyors of Truth, quite a responsibility. Unfortunately, Truth as an end becomes suspect when those not in compliance will be held accountable for not agreeing. At least Tylor doesn't condemn those not in agreement with him to some everlasting punishment.

Albeit, Tylor misses the ultimate point of the Resurrection, his arguments are well expressed and articulated. I only wonder if God doubts Tylor's existence as much as Tylor doubts God's.

Shelby Cade said...

Hey Thom,

Thanks for the comment. Unfortunatly, you seem to have a skewed view of truth. Truth does not depend on how many individuals believe or who agrees with it. I plan on answering Tylor's last arguments against the existence of God later (I see his arguments as being weak, contradictory, or one of the premises is incorrect).

You are correct concerning the resurrection, for if Jesus never rose, then those who wear the name of Christ are simply wasting their time. I'll add, that the evidence for the bodily resurrection far outweighs the evidencce to the contrary.