|Welcome to Uncommon Descent. Feel free to comment.|
Still, Kairosfocus had made a "challenge" to me, so it would have been nice if my post was accepted--even if the offending part was snipped. I hate to leave a challenge unanswered.
Dialoguing with Kairosfocus is difficult, and his foggy prose doesn't help. Now, I make no boasts of my own style; I mean only to point out that Kairosfocus has an information-rich and opinionated style that an interlocutor must work through. Kairosfocus gives long, ranging comments laced with snide remarks. For example, he begins his comment to me with this bit:
You of course must know about the recent exchanges here at UD (and in the penumbra of objector sites) that showed that there is a basic clash whereby evolutionary materialist atheists strongly tend to deny the reality of self-evident first principles of right reason; leading them to absurdities such as asserting that quantum physics provides empirical warrant — by contradiction to prior expectations! [oooopsie . . . ] — to dismiss the key laws of thought such as the law of non-contradiction.In only two sentences, Kairosfocus raises many topics:
See the reductio ad absurdum on denial that is a hall-mark of trying to dismiss self evident first principles?
(1) The recent purge of ID critics from UD.From the two sentences above, we understand that Kairosfocus writes in emotionally charged terms of attack (exchanges, clash) and irrationality (deny, self-evident, right, absurdities). For this reason, his long posts are akin to the Gish Gallop, a barrage of charges and dismissals that make dialogue difficult, if not impossible.
(2) A "basic clash" between atheists and theists.
(3) Atheists deny "principles of right reason."
(4) Atheists say absurd things.
(5) Atheists say that quantum physics allows "key laws of thought" to be dismissed.
(6) Atheists are forced into reductiones ad absurdum when they do #3 and #5
The charges are totally false, if I must dignify them by pointing this out. Atheists do not deny "principles of right reason." For most atheists that I read and observe, reasoning rightly and well is a primary concern--as well as a factor in why they are atheists. Part of good reasoning includes examining one's assumptions: everything is available for questioning and nothing is sacrosanct. That Kairosfocus and his friends want to surround their parochial version of "right reason" with high, barbed-wire fences--on pain of bannination from UD (the horror!)--tells us that intellectually there are places they refuse to go. Such refusal again makes real dialogue extremely difficult.
Nevertheless, I have aimed to give dialogue the old college try. Here's what I wrote, and you'll notice I gave a long-ish reply to match what was given to me. Your comments are invited.
I do indeed know about the recent exchanges at UD. The purge of ID critics was duly noted. In fact, it became a source of amusement for many folks, myself included, who think UD and its leadership are more bluster and bullying than substance. The “evolutionary materialist atheists” that I read were not denying first principles at all. They were demanding that first principles be considered with proper nuance and not simplistically.
I am an atheist, but I am not an “evolutionary materialist atheist.” I tend to be satisfied that modern biology provides the best available explanation for the diversity of life on earth. I also lean to materialism as being sufficient to account for everything we see and experience in the universe. But I am not an “evolutionary materialist atheist” because I am neither a biologist nor a physicist. I simply do the best I can understanding the information before me and concluding as seems correct. My atheism, if I may be personal, starts with understanding the history of the Bible, the history in it, and the history of the religions that take the Bible as Bible: the point is that evolution and materialism were not and are not the prevailing factors in my reasoning about theism. But I digress….
My questions were directed to jstanley01. The expression “rational foundations of reason” didn’t make sense to me. It would have been like saying “the happy foundations of happiness.” Seems a bit circular, doesn’t it?
I hear your argument that an atheist and a theist equally rely on faith. You say this here:
the vaunted “bright” atheist is just as much relying on faith as the Christian whom he mocks as ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked and/or blindly credulous.I'll quibble with you on the kinds of faith employed by an atheist as opposed to those of a theist, but I get your larger point: we’re all working as best we can with what we got.
As for my “patent and irresponsible, unfair strawman caricature”: what I said,
Folks here refuse to grant atheism intellectual permissibility.is either generally true at UD or it is not. We can establish the truth of the statement with a poll:
(1) Is atheism a “reasonable faith”?
(2) Is it possible for atheism to be a “reasonable faith”?
I also hear your objections about atheists. You say we are pretentious and do not face the challenges of building our worldview from the ground up, which I assume is what you feel theists do. Personally, I try to develop and refine my worldview from the ground-up. I think I've done an OK job, and I see many atheists who have done the same. If you disagree, please show me specifically where I or others need to shore up our worldview.
You then say,
If evolutionary materialist atheism cannot stand on its own feet and ground itself as a reasonable faith on matters of accuracy to reality, coherence and in particular accuracy to the reality of ought, then it is not worth holding.I totally agree. If atheism is not true, then one is better off adjusting her or his thinking. However, I happen to think it’s probably true. You clearly think it is not; what’s more, you think it is incoherent and inaccurate “to the reality of ought” (a difficult phrase to parse). That’s fine. In my opinion, Christianity (speaking generally and for example) is untrue, incoherent, and less than ideal in many of its official moral strictures.
We need to disagree, then.
Your points on Hawking and Lewontin are noted, but don’t carry much weight with me. Generally, you criticize these folks for what you wish they would have said and not what they actually say. You may now wish to retort that I am being unfair, obstinate, twisting words, lacing in red herrings and the like. I get it. But you now know my opinion, and I think that opinion is highly defensible, if you care to press me on it.
Thanks for the playbook on right reason. Yes, I think atheism works well for  through . Atheism also does a better job than theism on  and . Your footnote tries to answer, but does not, the questions that I know you know are coming:
Are gods something “that are”? If so, can it be found why they are? If so, how can it be found (what methods) why deities exist?So, we arrive where we started: atheism seems quite reasonable to me, and not to you. And theism seems quite reasonable to you, and not to me.
Do gods have a beginning or may cease from being? If so, can it be found why they begin or cease from being? If not, can it be found why they do not begin or cease from being?
But I never asked for atheism to get a free pass from you. Don’t ask that theism get a free pass from me.
Finally, you may be aware that UD moderators typically hold my posts for several hours (when they allow posts to pass). This is frustrating. I will therefore not engage further on this conversation, not because I don’t want to but because it’s too irritating to be moderated all the time. Thanks for understanding.