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Unicorns, Fairies, and Santa Claus

This week I have been covering common objections to Theism (especially Christianity) that I hear often from atheists. I received a kind note yesterday from a friend who is agnostic who said that he’d like more info on why I believe what I believe and less about atheists’ arguments. His point was well taken, so I’ll began a new thread of posts next week.

Today, however, I am writing to the many of you who are Christians who struggle with the arguments made by atheists against our beliefs and the evidence that supports them. This article is a little more in depth but if you can get this, you will really have something good to chat about with your atheist friends.

You’ve heard it before that believing in God is the same as believing in Unicorns, Fairies, Santa Claus and the like. Atheists will use these characters in one of two ways usually: 1) They will show the absurdity of believing in imaginary creatures and use that as an analogy for believing in God, or 2) They will ask you if you believe in Unicorns, Fairies, and Santa Claus and when you say, “no” they will try and turn the tables on you and say, “see, now you show me your evidence for not believing in those things.” Or like my twitter friend BOB asked me yesterday, “I now [will] ask you for evidence [of the] millions of things [that] don’t exist. Can I start listing things so you can disprove them?”

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Another very popular argument was born in Stephen F. Robert’s statement made to Theists in 1995 (later popularized by Richard Dawkins) that, “I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

This is a common misunderstanding and conflation of 1st and 2nd order questions. Listen up. This will help you.

A first order question explores the “what” of God. This is the general idea of a being that is God. Alvin Plantinga explained this idea of God as something “having an unsurpassable degree of greatness—that is, having a degree of greatness such that it’s not possible that there exist a being having more.”

Homer’s grand gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus were rejected by Xenophanes and Plato on the basis that there can only be ONE being that is GOD.

It is impossible to have two beings (or more) that possess an infinite degree of greatness. It is a metaphysical impossibility.  A universe with two or more omnipotent, or supreme, or infinite beings is absolutely impossible.

Now,

A second order question explores the “who” of God. This is the possible conceptions of God.

So this means that a Theist rejects all other conceptions of God without being an “atheist” about Thor, Odin etc. because what makes a person a Theist is not the “who” of God but the “what” of God. Rejecting the Thor and Odin “who” type conceptions of god goes hand in hand with the positive accepting of the Theist “what” type of God. I’m not merely disbelieving in the others. I’m believing in One that eliminates the others altogether. It’s like killing a thousand birds with one stone.

So the difference between me and you (theist and atheist) is not the conceptions of God (who is the being God), but the concept of God (what is a being that is God). The Christian God is outside of time, without matter, and is not confined by the material universe. Since unicorns, fairies, santa claus, Thor, Odin, Wotan, Zeus, Ashara… are within time, composed of matter and confined by the universe, you can see how believing in them is not the same as believing in our God.

Can Atheism also be “Apathetic-ism?”

An old buddy from my high school football days (and fellow offensive lineman) objected to my most recent post on atheism. It was amazingly well written and enjoyable to read. I invite everyone to check out Will’s comment on my last post. Since it was a pretty long response and because it is an objection I often hear from atheists, I am going to put up a generalized post here that will serve as a response.

 

LET’S BEGIN

Can Atheism also be “Apathetic-ism?” Can someone call themselves an atheist and also say that they are NOT making any claims about God? That they “just don’t buy what Christians are selling?” 

I agree that people who are truly in the “apathetic” category don’t owe me or anybody anything. They are the ones who aren’t buying anything anybody is selling because they don’t care. They aren’t making propositions about the universe, God, gods, religion, etc. And they aren’t attaching any labels to themselves either (like atheist).

An atheist, however, is not apathetic. By definition an atheist is categorized by his belief and affirmation that “there is no God.” That isn’t an apathetic statement. It’s a very opinionated one.

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I don’t think Christians should go around busting everybody’s chops for fun. It’s bad manners to find people just to argue with–nobody likes an annoying no-it-all. But in a conversation that leads to these types of subjects I think that it’s very appropriate to push a little (in a loving way).

The points I called “TRY TACTICS” particularly apply to a situation when an atheist demands evidence for a proposition, rejects that evidence and proposition, makes another proposition (implicitly or by logical equivalence), and then refuses to believe that they should apply their own rules to themselves. Pick up your categorical logic book and look at the rules for obverting (A) & (E) propositions. “Atheism is true” is the same as “Theism is untrue.” Again… not apathetic.

On unicorns, I admit, I am an “A-unicornist.” I reject the idea that unicorns exist.

If “Steve” wants to argue that unicorns exist he needs to provide evidence. Yes, I need to show my reasons for not believing in unicorns as well—there is no historical, scientific, philosophical, or moral evidence for them. If there is some evidence that “Steve” could provide for me, then I would have to look at it and make a decision about whether or not the evidence was convincing. But… I would still be giving reasons for why I didn’t believe in UNICORNS. I can not take my self seriously as someone who actually calls myself an “A-unicornist” and not have a single reason for why I call myself that. “I just reject what Unicornists are selling” doesn’t actually work unless you are an ostrich.

This is a good example of the misunderstanding of 1st and 2nd order questions. I’ll post about that tomorrow. Blessings.

Are Atheists Playing Fair?

As a Christian, you may have had this happen to you: an atheist challenges your beliefs. They find nothing you are saying convincing, so you fire back and challenge the atheist on their beliefs. After all they have been arguing that we live in a universe that came into existence without a creator.

You find yourself in a perplexing situation. Just a moment ago the atheist demanded that you give good and convincing reasons for your system of beliefs, but now you hear the atheist singing a new song. The atheist argues that no burden of proof is on them to support that there is no God. In fact the atheist swears that she isn’t even making a claim at all. She is merely rejecting a claim and that claim is “God exists.” The burden of proof then is on you–on Christians.

Is that true? Are atheists not making any claims about God? They demand that we have backing for our claims as Christians, but are they free from providing any evidence that supports their side? Let’s examine it for a second.

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Atheism is the belief in no god. (A—theism). Until recently, no one ever questioned that atheists were affirming a position–that is “no god exists.” Even the Oxford dictionary agrees with that. Now, there is a “new atheism” that says atheists merely disbelieve or reject evidence of God. They echo Christopher Hitchens that atheism, “is rejecting that a certain proposition is true” and “is NOT asserting that a certain proposition is false.”

This is a clever move that works too often, but as you’ll see it’s not fair or even logical. Atheists are contradicting themselves and here’s why:

 

TRY TACTIC 1:

If atheism is merely “rejecting that a certain proposition is true”, and that proposition is, “God exists” or “Theism is true”, then if that proposition is false, we know that it must be true that “God does not exist” i.e. Atheism is TRUE! They’re called logically equivalent claims. Seems elementary doesn’t it? It seems obvious here that atheism IS asserting that a certain proposition is false thereby also asserting that the opposite proposition is true. Was Hitchens trying to pull a fast one?

TRY TACTIC 2:

If you present that to the atheist and it doesn’t click try explaining it this way:

Look at the letter A. Let’s make a proposition that “A is symmetrical.” We run tests on the letter and discover, YES, A is symmetrical. That statement is TRUE.

Let’s try another letter, Q. If the “proposition of symmetry,” when applied to the letter Q, is not true, then we can “reject that a certain proposition is true,” but we can also say that it is TRUE that Q is “A-Symmetrical.”

Apply this to atheism…

It is NOT the case that we merely lack belief in Q’s symmetry or “reject the proposition that Q is symmetrical.” The case is actually that we CAN positively affirm that Q is A-Symmetrical! Again Hitchens and those who echo his sentiment seem disillusioned don’t they…

 

CONCLUSION

I hate to break it to the atheists, but you ARE making a claim and that claim is, “there is no God.” Hitchens was wrong. Yes, atheists are rejecting that a certain proposition is true. But they are also emphatically asserting that a certain proposition (Theism) is false and are
thereby making the logically equivalent claim that Atheism is true. Furthermore, for this claim to be substantiated there must be some supporting evidence. You don’t get a free pass. The statement that “there is no burden of proof on atheists to substantiate their claims because they aren’t making a claim,” is obviously fallacious.

EXTRA CREDIT TACTIC 3:

Last thing. A popular christian philosopher has a great analogy about this topic. He pointed out that many people rejected the proposition that he was a kangaroo. It is NOT the case that these people said their position needed no evidence because they were not making a proposition (as if they were just rejecting the claim  that the professor was a kangaroo). Actually it is the presence of evidence that the professor is NOT a kangaroo that allows them to reject that proposition.

Similarly, atheists must find the presence of evidence that the universe was NOT created by a creator God to allow them to reject Christian propositions. Don’t let anybody try to fool you this way.

A look back: Intolerance of ‘Tolerance’

This is truly unbelievable—but not really.

I want to take a ‘rewind back through time’ to August of 2012 and see if there is anything to be learned for today’s unforeseen confrontations. Surely history is destined to repeat itself. The question is, will you be informed? Will you be sharp enough to mete out truth and spot a charlatan?

Remember when a lesbian NYC Counsel Speaker wanted to ban Chic-fil-A restaurants because Mr. Cathy (Chic-fil-A owner) didn’t agree or condone gay marriage? Her justification was, “NYC is a place where we celebrate diversity. We do not believe in denigrating others. We revel in the diversity of all our citizens and their families.”

She continued, “We are a city that believes our diversity is our greatest strength and we will fight anything and anyone that runs counter to that.”

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SAY WHAT?

Didn’t you just say that you “revel in differing ideas” and also say that you “would fight anyone with differing ideas?” So which is it? Do you want differing ideas or identical ideas?

What’s sad and scary is that this contradictory, sycophantic ranting is what is becoming the modus operandi of the secular world and liberalism. Actually, Mrs. Quinn, you do NOT celebrate diversity. Celebrating diversity means celebrating a difference in opinion whether or not it is in line with your particular beliefs. When you try to run a business out of a city because it has differing beliefs than you, that’s not “cultivating diversity.”

Can you fathom what would have happened if Mrs. Quinn was a Christian and was trying to oust a business because they supported gay marriage? World War 3 and Armageddon would have spawned into existence simultaneously.

This is the problem with those who call themselves tolerant  who are like Mrs. Quinn: they support anything and everything as long as it’s not 1) contrary to their views and ESPECIALLY, 2) conservative and/or Christian. But you are smart enough to know that’s not tolerance. If you want to proudly wear the colors of tolerance and celebrate diversity, lets actually see it for ALL people and not everyone but Christians.

See original article on HERE 

 

True Tolerance and Free Speech: The Blogging Begins Again

I took a long break from blogging. I’m revving the blogging engines up again. In focusing on what matters most to me, the threat to true tolerance and free speech in this country is at the fore. This will be my renewed focus. I hope you come along for the ride.

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It saddens me that people become deceived, and refuse to consider views that don’t mirror their own. We see it everyday in the news and in our own lives. A growing number of people are taking it upon themselves to be the thought police. Offended and emotionally charged, they accuse others of bigotry and wrongdoing. This isn’t because anyone has committed a bigoted act but rather because someone merely has an opposing viewpoint.  

Freedom of speech today is only free in the sense that you are free not to bring it out in public. This is especially true if a view is conservative or Christian. If a christian ideal slips passed your lips by accident and someone hears, beware. The fact that you would utter something so contrary to their sycophantic ideology will be so egregiously appalling to them that their unstoppable impulse will be to attack you where it hurts–personally. Have you ever experienced this?

While they are busy spewing ad hominem hatred, no one remembers what the actual debate was about. Dazzled by the illusion, the audience of the public doesn’t notice the slight of hand or the truth of the matter–they are being tricked.

ONE THING becomes clear: Speak at your own risk. If what you say is not the ordained sentiment of the though police, you will become an enemy of diversity and tolerance. Never-mind the fact that they are immune to this obvious hypocrisy in their actions and it seems most of their spectators are as well.

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WE must continue to be kind and loving, but let us not dare give up. It only takes one person to make a difference. If we give up in speaking reasonably and redirecting conversations to the real issues, intolerance wins and speech will no longer be free.

There are a few who hold on to their convictions while at the same time keep their minds open to opposing ideas. They know that those who share differing views do not have to be seen as the enemy. They believe that everyone should be free to disagree with each other without the opposing party calling names or hurling insults.

True tolerance is more than just putting up with people who disagree with you–it’s having love for people who disagree with you. 

This blog site will be founded upon this Love, remembering that everyone has been made in the image and likeness of God. All have value regardless of their views. But we must contend for Truth in kindness and gentleness. This blog site will be an ever reminder of this.