The Gospels, Personal Relevance, and A Priori Commitments

The Reconquista Initiative

Presents…

The Gospels, Personal Relevance, and A Priori Commitments

Note:  Please be advised that this essay was inspired by David Marshall’s blog post located here:  http://christthetao.blogspot.ca/2017/01/epic-rap-battle-jesus-vs-alexander.html

When speaking about the gospels, as well as the veracity of all the records for Jesus’s life, unbelievers often point to the fact that there is a great deal of dispute amongst scholars concerning the details of Jesus’s earthly existence—especially when compared to the relative agreement that scholars have concerning the details of the lives of other historical figures—and such unbelievers point out this fact as a means of undermining both the credibility of the gospels and certain Christian claims about Jesus Himself. And so indeed, unbelievers thus bring up this issue as a reason to reject the claim that we can know much about the life of Jesus. However, there is often an ignored reason for why there is such a major dispute concerning the life and times of Jesus and so relatively little dispute about other ancient figures: namely, personal relevance. After all, for the unbeliever, if the gospels are true, then this not only means that his entire worldview is false, but also that, suddenly, he is morally at fault for various things, he is morally responsible for those faults, and there are even potentially everlasting repercussions to his faults if he does not repent of them. Thus, the debate over Jesus is not merely an academic one, as it is in the case of most other historical figures. Rather, it is a debate which affects every single one of us, whether we want it to or not. And in such a case, both motivated reasoning and cognitive biases can flare up to a major level in anyone who wishes to deny the evidence for Christian theism, such as the evidence found in the gospels.

Therefore, the issue of “relevance” concerning the gospels is a point that cannot be overlooked. In fact, it is so important that one wonders whether one should, before having a discussion with a non-believer, ask them whether they would genuinely come to believe that Jesus had caused miracles to occur or that God had resurrected Jesus from the dead even if they had ten eyewitnesses to the events in question as well as video evidence of both Jesus’ miracles as well as his death and subsequent resurrection. Since I doubt that many of them actually would believe in Jesus’s miraculous workings or his resurrection even given such evidence—rather, they would grasp at any naturalistic explanation possible, such as that ‘aliens’ did it or that the video evidence was forged—then it soon becomes reasonable to believe that such unbelievers’s current objections to the gospels are merely objections meant to give more plausibility and apparent legitimacy to their already existent a priori rejection of Christianity and the gospels. In essence, their current objections against the gospels—which, though not without merit, are all-too-often exaggerated and selectively-skeptical—make it easier for them to maintain their intellectual credibility in light of their a priori commitment against theism and Christianity; and such objections certainly make such unbelievers seem more rational than if they outright admitting that no amount of historical evidence would ever convince them to believe in miracle-working Jesus or in his miraculous resurrection from the dead.

And lest you think that I am merely “supposing” that some atheists would react this way, note the following examples.

First, note atheist JJC Smart, when, on page 46 of the 2003 second edition book Atheism & Theism, he states the following:

 [QUOTE] …someone who has naturalistic preconceptions will always in fact find some naturalistic explanation more plausible than a supernatural one… Suppose that I woke up in the night and saw the stars arranged in shapes that spelt out the Apostle’s Creed. I would know that astronomically it is impossible that stars should have changed their position. I don’t know what I would think. Perhaps I would think that I was dreaming or that I had gone mad. What if everyone else seemed to me to be telling me that the same had happened? Then I might not only think that I had gone mad—I would probably go mad. [UNQUOTE, bold emphasis added]

Second, consider arch-atheist Richard Dawkins, who, in an interview with fellow atheist Peter Boghossian, which can be found on Youtube under the title “Richard Dawkins in conversation with Peter Boghossian”, essentially admits that no evidence can convince him that God exists. Here is a transcript of their conversation between the 12 minute and 30 second mark and the 15 minute and 30 second mark (and please note that I am indebted to the ‘Shadow to Light’ blog for this transcript):

[QUOTE] Boghossian: What would it take for you to believe in God?

Dawkins: I used to say it would be very simple. It would be the Second Coming of Jesus or a great, big, deep, booming, bass voice saying “I am God.” But I was persuaded, mostly by Steve Zara, who is a regular contributor to my website. He more or less persuaded me that even if there was this booming voice in the Second Coming with clouds of glory, the probable explanation is that it is a hallucination or a conjuring trick by David Copperfield. He made the point that a supernatural explanation for anything is incoherent. It doesn’t add up to an explanation for anything. A non-supernatural Second Coming could be aliens from outer space.

[Peter Boghossian begins to speak and is in full agreement with Dawkins, arguing, for example, that if the stars spelled out a message from God, we would first have to rule out alternative explanations, like an alien trickster culture.]

Dawkins then agrees with Boghossian.

Boghossian then asks him: So that [stars aligned into a message] couldn’t be enough. So what would persuade you?

Dawkins: Well, I’m starting to think nothing would, which, in a way, goes against the grain, because I’ve always paid lip service to the view that a scientist should change his mind when evidence is forthcoming. [UNQUOTE, bold emphasis added, https://youtu.be/qNcC866sm7s%5D

Third, in a Pharyngula blog post which was written on the 9th of October 2010, accessed on the 14th of January 2017, and titled “It’s like he was reading my mind”, atheist PZ Myers—author of the aforementioned popular atheist blog site—also admits that no evidence could convince him that God exists:

[QUOTE] Steve Zara has a nice article at RD.net [Richard Dawkins.net] that is actually saying the same thing I’ve been arguing at recent talks: There is no possibility of evidence to convince us of the existence of a god. … There is no valid god hypothesis, so there can be no god evidence, so let’s stop pretending the believers have a shot at persuading us. [UNQUOTE, bold emphasis added, http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/10/09/its-like-he-was-reading-my-min/%5D

Finally, Steve Zara—mentioned above—in an article on ‘richarddawkins.net’, which was written on the 30th of July 2011, and accessed on 14 January 2017, and titled “There can be no evidence for God (revisited)”, writes:

[QUOTE] …we should challenge the very concept of gods, we should not let believers set the rules of the game with flim-flam about the possible truth of Biblical miracles, or other ways of knowing reality, or necessary beings. We should make it clear that all arguments that lead to gods are wrong because they lead to gods! God is a singular mistake, a philosophical division by zero, a point at which the respectability of arguments break down. God is out of the question, the ultimate wrong answer. [UNQUOTE, bold emphasis added, https://web.archive.org/web/20140121204114/http://old.richarddawkins.net/discussions/642394-there-can-be-no-evidence-for-god-revisited%5D

In light of the above quotes, is anyone surprised that such unbelievers would vociferously argue that the gospels are not persuasive and that they would use any means necessary to make their objections against the gospels and against any historical record which supported Jesus’s historical nature? Of course not, for doing so is the only way to maintain their intellectual credibility in light of their a priori anti-theistic commitments. In fact, given the above quotes, it is not even shocking that some unbelievers try to outright deny the very existence of Jesus, for doing so makes their dismissal of the gospels that much easier. And so, while points can indeed be made concerning certain weaknesses in the gospels, we cannot lose sight of the fact that objections against the gospels would be made no matter how good the evidence for them was. In fact, funnily enough, Jesus himself tangentially admits as much in a more general way in Luke 16:27-31 when he says that some people would not believe in the miraculous or in Christian theism even if they saw a man raised from the dead, and so Christians should not only not be surprised when people readily deny the evidentiary value of the gospels, but they should actually predict that this will be the case in many instances.

Finally, it should be noted that while Christians are not immune to the same problem as the one identified above, this problem is not necessarily as acute for believers as it is for unbelievers. After all, even if the gospels are deemed to be weak historical evidence, a Christian could nevertheless remain a Christian on purely philosophical grounds, or on the basis of Paul’s writings, or the Christian could even move to fideism or to Reformed Epistemology as the grounds for his faith; or even, the Christian might lose Christianity, but he could remain a religious theist, and so the blow to the Christian would not be nearly as much as it would be to the unbeliever if the unbeliever had to admit that the gospels were powerful historical evidence. Thus, for the Christian, changing his perspective on the gospels would not be nearly as life-changing as such a change would be for the atheist. Thus, a good case could be made that the atheist’s drive to deny the strength of the gospels is greater than is the believer’s drive to affirm their strength.

And so, the long and short of it is this:  as unpleasant as it might be to have to question a person’s motives and worldview commitments when dealing with their arguments concerning the gospels, the fact remains that when it comes to assessing the gospels, a person’s a priori commitments concerning them are highly relevant, and so they simply cannot be ignored. And this is a point that should never be forgotten when discussing the gospels with an unbeliever.

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Anno Domini 2017 01 14

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam

 

Atheism, Agnosticism, and Bullshit

The Reconquista Initiative

Presents…

Atheism, Agnosticism, and Bullshit

In the previous essay “Lack-of-Belief Atheism is Bullshit”, it was argued that the testimony of a number of individuals, both atheist and theist alike, as well as the experience of this author, provide the reasonable grounds to believe that the popular assertion made by many modern atheists, which is that atheism is simply a lack-of-belief about the existence of God or gods (hereafter just God) rather than being a positive belief claim, is, in fact, a bullshit move which is employed by atheists not because it is true, but because it helps them avoid the burden of proof for their position. And so, the evidence provided supported the contention that lack-of-belief atheism is, in essence, a shell game used to give atheists a rhetorical advantage over theists concerning the question of who bears the burden of proof.

In this essay, yet another point will be provided which will add a slight amount of further grounds to support the idea that lack-of-belief atheism is indeed more of a rhetorical tactic than a legitimate position. And this point stems from the blending of negative lack-of-belief atheism with agnosticism. Indeed, the conflation and overlap that occurs between lack-of-belief atheism and agnosticism is another point which is sufficiently suspicious that it deserves to be noted.

Now, to understand this overlap between atheism and agnosticism, consider first how atheist Michael Martin, in his “General Introduction” to the 2006 Cambridge Companion to Atheism, defines atheism:

[QUOTE] If you look up “atheism” in a dictionary, you will find it defined as the belief that there is no God. Certainly, many people understand “atheism” in this way. Yet this is not what the term means if one considers it from the point of view of its Greek roots. In Greek “a” means “without” or “not”, and “theos” means “god.” From this standpoint, an atheist is someone without belief in God; he or she need not be someone who believes that God does not exist. Still, there is a popular dictionary meaning of “atheism” according to which an atheist is not simply one who holds no belief in the existence of a God or gods but is one who believes that there is no God or gods. This dictionary use of the term should not be overlooked. To avoid confusion, let us call it positive atheism and let us call the type of atheism derived from the original Greek roots negative atheism. [UNQUOTE]

But Martin, in the same work, then defines agnosticism as follows:

[QUOTE] Agnosticism, the position of neither believing nor disbelieving that God exists, is often contrasted with atheism. However, this common opposition of agnosticism to atheism is misleading. Agnosticism and positive atheism are indeed incompatible: if atheism is true, agnosticism is false and conversely. But agnosticism is compatible with negative atheism in that agnosticism entails negative atheism. Since agnostics do not believe in God, they are by definition negative atheists. This is not to say that negative atheism entails agnosticism. A negative atheist might disbelieve in God but need not. [UNQUOTE, bold emphasis added]

So observe how Martin defines agnosticism as neither believing nor disbelieving in the existence of God, which means that the agnostic lacks a positive belief in either the existence or the non-existence of God, just as the negative-atheist allegedly does. And so, as per Martin’s definition, agnosticism is thus best construed as the middle position between positively believing and positively disbelieving in the existence of God; it is directly between positive-atheism and positive-theism on the spectrum of theistic belief. Thus, agnosticism is indeed a lack of belief concerning God’s existence, just as negative-atheism is claimed to be. And even Martin himself admits that negative-atheism overlaps with agnosticism. And while Martin argues that these two positions are not identical, Martin himself provides the very means to undermine his own claim that these are two separate and distinction positions—although explaining why this is so will be the topic of a separate essay.

Note as well that Martin is not the only one who implicitly admits the overlap between negative-atheism and agnosticism. For example, Matt McCormick, in his online article “Atheism” on the ‘Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy’ website, accessed on the 25th of November 2015, also defines agnosticism as a lack-of-belief when he says:

[QUOTE] Atheism is the view that there is no God … It has come to be widely accepted that to be an atheist is to affirm the non-existence of God.  Anthony Flew (1984) called this positive atheism, whereas to lack a belief that God or gods exist is to be a negative atheist… Agnosticism is traditionally characterized as neither believing that God exists nor believing that God does not exist. [UNQUOTE] (http://www.iep.utm.edu/atheism/, bold emphasis added)

Notice how McCormick, like Martin, does indeed tacitly admit that both the negative-atheist and the agnostic have a lack-of-belief concerning God’s existence, thereby again demonstrating the conflation that occurs between these two terms.

So the point here is that there is a clear overlap between agnosticism and lack-of-belief atheism, and even atheists, such as Martin and McCormick, admit as much. But this fact, in turn, offers the grounds for a reasonable person to suspect that what the unbeliever is trying to do in defining atheism in a manner that overlaps it with agnosticism is to gain the advantage of agnosticism’s burden-free position while at the same time still being able to call himself an atheist; thus the negative-atheist gets the rhetorical benefit of “proudly and boldly” calling himself an atheist rather than labelling himself as a (perceived) wishy-washy agnostic, but at the same time, the atheist receives the agnostic’s debate advantage of not having a burden of proof for his own position. And so, for the unbeliever, branding one’s self as a lack-of-belief atheist is to his rhetorical advantage all around, which is precisely why it is reasonable to suspect that this is the primary reason for why the unbeliever seeks to define atheism as a mere lack-of-belief.

Furthermore, this whole issue is made all the more suspicious by the fact that there is no need for the existence of the label of negative-atheist (and again, this will be discussed in a separate and longer essay). After all, if the label of agnostic encompasses the idea of a lack-of-belief in God, as it does, and if it can be modified to encompass numerous types of lack-of-belief, as it can be, then there is no need for the overlap and conflation between agnosticism and lack-of-belief atheism, especially given that the latter is unnecessary and could thus be justifiably shaved away via Occam’s Razor.  Consequently, atheism could be left with the more standard definition of being the positive belief that God does not exist whereas agnosticism would be the position where there was a lack-of-belief about God. And yet, atheists, and in particular negative-atheists, tacitly maintain this overlap between negative-atheism and agnosticism in spite of the fact that not only is there no good reason to do so, but there is a good reason not to do so: namely, as mentioned, Occam’s Razor and the appeal to parsimony, which should motivate the atheist—who so often invokes Occam’s Razor in other matters—to cut off the unnecessary limb of negative-atheism from the tree of agnosticism, thereby making matters linguistically simpler by removing the overlap between these two terms. But the fact that atheists are not willing to do this, even though many of them do indeed realize that negative-atheism and agnosticism all too often overlap, is suggestive of the fact that there may be an ulterior motive at play in the desire to maintain the idea of negative-atheism regardless of its overlap with agnosticism.

And so, the long and short of it is this: the existence of overlap between negative-atheism and agnosticism, as well as the atheist’s desire to maintain this overlap even when there good reasons not to do so, and no equally good reasons to maintain the overlap, can thereby lead a reasonable person to suspect that the atheist is indeed maintaining such an overlap for less-than-forthright purposes, such as for the purpose of gaining a rhetorical advantage over the theist when it comes to the burden of proof.  And so, in light of this reasonable suspicion, we once again get a whiff of intellectual bullshit coming from the atheist camp when it comes to their endless drive to ensure that atheism is defined as a mere lack-of-belief concerning the God question.

Additional Note:  Atheism versus Agnosticism

As an important side-note to the question of whether negative-atheism is simply conflated with agnosticism, please be aware that in response to this issue, some atheists assert that the difference between atheism and agnosticism is that atheism allegedly deals with belief claims whereas agnosticism deals strictly with knowledge claims, thereby implying that a person could be an atheist and an agnostic at the same time without an overlap necessarily arising between these two terms. Although addressing this particular objection in full is outside the scope of this essay, let two things be said about it. First, the author is aware of this objection and has a number of responses to it which show that the objection will not save negative-atheism from its conflation problem with agnosticism. And second, the fact that numerous sources do not define atheism and agnosticism in the manner that this objection desires—and both Martin and McCormick are a case-in-point of this fact—means that the claim that this objection makes is readily disputable.

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Anno Domini 2017 01 13

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam

Lack-of-Belief Atheism is Bullshit

The Reconquista Initiative

Presents…

Lack-of-Belief Atheism is Bullshit

In his famous essay “On Bullshit”, philosopher Harry G. Frankfurt defined the so-called ‘bullshitter’ as a person whose main aim is not to communicate truth, nor even to consciously lie, but rather to make statements that further the bullshitter’s own ends and suit his agenda irrespective of the truth or falsity of those statements. And having followed the ‘New Atheism’ movement since 2007, and having actually been converted back to Christianity by Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion, it needs to be said that numerous years of experience have shown me that in terms of how they initially present their atheism to others, many modern atheists can indeed be reasonably seen as intellectual bullshitters.

Now, the aforementioned assertion is a serious one, but to understand the rationale behind it, we need to reflect on the fact that in recent years, there has been a great push to define atheism in a mainly negative sense, where atheism is understood as simply a lack of belief in the existence of a God or gods (hereafter just God, unless otherwise noted). Indeed, rather than being a positive belief which explicitly asserts that God does not exist, atheism is now primarily perceived as a mere negative lack-of-belief concerning God’s existence. And not a day goes by without some atheist on the internet or in print proclaiming this alleged truism, so this is not a fringe point-of-view. But viewing atheism in this type of negative manner leads to a situation where, in any debate between a theist and an atheist, the burden of proof is almost always placed on the shoulders of the theistic God-believer. And indeed, consider, for example, what Austin Cline, an ‘Agnosticism & Atheism Expert’ at the popular website ‘atheism.about.com’, says in his online article “Who has the Burden of Proof?”, which was accessed on the 8th of August 2016. Cline says that:

[QUOTE] …some burden of proof always lies with the person who is making a claim, not the person who is hearing the claim and who may not initially believe it. In practice, then, this means that the initial burden of proof lies with those on the side of theism, not with those on the side of atheism. (http://atheism.about.com/od/doesgodexist/a/burdenofproof.htm) [UNQUOTE]

And in his online article “Is Defining Atheism as a ‘Lack of Belief in God’ a Cop Out?”, also accessed on the same day and on the same website, Cline, in the context of arguing that it is a myth that atheists seek to avoid the burden of proof by defining atheism negatively, nevertheless admits that atheists can indeed avoid the burden of proof by doing so. He says:

[QUOTE] …if atheism is just the absence of belief in gods, then it’s not making any claims that all atheists must defend, and therefore the only burden of proof lies with religious theists themselves. (http://atheism.about.com/od/definitionofatheism/a/LackBelief God.htm) [UNQUOTE]

Now, with these points in mind, one of the reasons that it can be reasonably believed that a solid number of modern atheists are intellectual bullshitters is precisely because, in contrast to Cline’s claim that it is a myth that atheists use negative-atheism to avoid the burden of proof, many atheists truly do appear to employ the ‘atheism as a lack of belief’ shtick as a means of skirting the burden of proof when in a debate with a theist. And they do so even though they don’t actually lack a belief in God, but rather, they positively believe, at least to some degree, that God does not exist. And please note that you do not have to take my word for this. Consider, instead, the words of atheist Luke Muehlhauser, the author of the website ‘commonsenseatheism.com’, which was very popular during New Atheism’s heyday. In his 23rd of February 2009 article “Atheism and the Burden of Proof”, which was accessed on the 8th of August 2016, Muehlhauser states the following:

[QUOTE] But most intellectually-inclined atheists I know do not merely “lack” a belief in God – as, say, my dog lacks a belief in God. Atheists like to avoid the burden of proof during debates, so they say they merely “lack” a belief in God. But this is not what their writings usually suggest. No, most intellectual atheists positively believe that God does not exist. In fact, most of them will say – at least to other atheists – that it’s “obvious” there is no God, or that they “know” – as well as we can “know” anything – that God does not exist. Thus, if the atheist wants to defend what he really believes, then he, too, has a burden of proof. He should give reasons for why he thinks that God almost certainly doesn’t exist. (http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=597, bold emphasis added) [UNQUOTE]

Note how Muehlhauser—who did indeed run a very popular atheist blog with numerous commentators and who interviewed dozens of atheists and theists alike—states that 1) most of the intellectually-inclined atheists that he knows do not merely lack a belief in God, and that 2) atheists will admit to other atheists that they know that there is no God, and also that 3) atheists like to avoid the burden of proof in debates. So here we have an atheist with a solid number of connections in the atheist community, tacitly admitting that lack-of-belief atheism is often just a shell-game meant to help atheists avoid the burden of proof.

But Muelhauser is not the only individual to notice these points about atheists. For example, the author of the ‘Shadow to Light’ blog—which is a blog that has been keeping a critical eye on the New Atheist movement since 2012—has offered the following observation in a blog post titled ‘“There is no God!” – A Common Atheist Belief’, which was written on the 4th of January 2017 and accessed on the 11th of January 2017:

[QUOTE] In the previous posting, I showed that atheist activist leaders subscribe to the belief that “there are no gods.”  That is, their atheism is not a lack of god belief.  Their atheism is a belief that God does not exist.  But just how common is this? There is actually quite a bit of evidence to support the contention that atheism as a belief – a belief there is no God – is actually very common.  And I base this is on my own experience interacting with many, many atheists over the years.  If you yourself have similar experience, consider how well this evidence resonates. (https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/there-is-no-god-a-common-atheist-belief/#more-4618, bold emphasis added) [UNQUOTE]

And after providing a number of arguments to support his contention, the author of that blog post concludes with the following:

[QUOTE] Add it all up.  Atheist activists proudly proclaim “there are no gods” and give each other awards for doing this.  Their atheist followers cheer all of this.  Those who follow the atheist activists likewise preach that religion is delusion, score themselves as a 6.9-7 on Dawkins scale, and have trouble articulating what evidence for God would even look like.  The evidence clearly indicates the atheist activist community is a community of believers – people who believe “there is no God.” It’s time for this community to be honest with itself and with others. (https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/there-is-no-god-a-common-atheist-belief/#more-4618, bold emphasis added) [UNQUOTE]

Furthermore, and as mentioned at the start of this essay, I myself have been following the New Atheist movement in earnest for approximately a decade of time, and during this time I have read and/or interacted with dozens if not hundreds of atheists. And what this experience has shown me is that atheism, when defined as a lack-of-belief, all too often is little more than a debate tactic used by atheists to deny that they positively believe anything about the God question, thereby allowing atheists to appear intellectually legitimate when they avoid the burden of proof for their position (however, in fairness, it should be noted that most of my interactions with atheists was through the internet, and so a self-selection effect may have been in play in my particular case).

And so, the long and short of it is this: quotes such as the ones provided above, alongside the experience of numerous individuals who have been immersed in the atheism / theism debate for many years, do indeed provide some evidence that the atheist’s embrace of lack-of-belief atheism is often not a reflection of what the atheist truly believes, but rather, it is just a disingenuous move to help the atheist achieve a rhetorical advantage in his intellectual fight with the theist. And it is precisely such evidence, when combined with further points, which provides us with the grounds to reasonably believe that when it comes to lack-of-belief atheism, many atheists are, quite simply, intellectual bullshitters.

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Anno Domini 2017 01 11

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam

Objections to Horn Two of Atheism’s Other Evolutionary Dilemma

The Reconquista Initiative

Presents…

Objections to Horn Two of Atheism’s Other Evolutionary Dilemma

In a previous essay titled ‘Atheism’s Other Evolutionary Dilemma’, it was argued that the atheistic-naturalist is forced into a dilemma given that his worldview is essentially wed to the grand naturalistic version of the evolutionary narrative, which is indeed the only live option that the atheistic-naturalist can appeal to in order to explain the existence and development of all life. On the one hand, if the atheistic-naturalist denies the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative, then he suddenly has a worldview that has no viable explanation for the existence and apparent design of living things, as well as having a worldview that is thus based on blind faith given its lack of an explanation for biological life. On the other hand, if the atheistic-naturalist binds himself to the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative, then the fact that that narrative has no evidence for many of its major claims—such as, for example, abiogenesis or the emergence of consciousness—also means that the atheistic-naturalist’s worldview is based on blind faith. So whatever way that he turns, the atheistic-naturalist’s worldview is not one based on evidence, but rather it is a worldview built on a foundation of faith. And since believing things on the basis of blind faith is allegedly antithetical to the spirit of atheistic-naturalism, then this dilemma means that atheistic-naturalists should actually cease being atheistic-naturalists, for they hold a worldview which is antithetical to one of their own stated principles. And so this is a serious dilemma for the atheistic-naturalist. But, as with all arguments, some objections can be offered against them, and this one is no different, and so it is precisely those objections, or at least the ones related to the second horn of the dilemma, which this essay will address.

Now, the second horn of the dilemma notes that if the atheistic-naturalist does indeed tie himself to the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative, then he also encounters the problem that his worldview is based on blind faith, for the fact is that the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative has little to no evidence for many of its major claims—such as, for example, abiogenesis or the emergence of consciousness. And so, if the atheistic-naturalist embraces naturalistic evolution as the explanation for biological life—as he essentially must since it is his only live option—then he still does not escape from the charge that his worldview is one which is based on a blind faith and a lack of evidence concerning many of the most significant claims that he believes. And yet, in response to this horn of the dilemma, the atheistic-naturalist can mount two main objections.

Enough Evidence

First, the atheistic-naturalist can simply claim that, in fact, there is sufficient evidence for all of the major claims of the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative. Now, in the face of such a claim, the only truly appropriate response is laughter, for anyone making this sort of a claim has, quite frankly, drank the naturalistic Kool-Aid. After all, the truth is that atheistic-naturalists, apart from largely fact-free and often contradictory speculations, actually have no explanations for such events as the origin-of-life, or the existence of consciousness, or the existence of human language and rationality. And this is not even to mention the fact that more mundane issues, such as the origin of eyes or wings or molecular machines, are given little more than a naturalistic just-so story as the explanation for their existence. Thus, it truly is the case that any atheistic-naturalist who asserts that there is evidence, let alone sufficient evidence, for many of the major claims of the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative, is living in a fantasy world. So this is the first point to make.

However, let us, for the sake of argument, dive into this fantasy world as well, and let us thus pretend that there is evidence, even good evidence, for many of the claims of the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative. Does this fact help actually help the atheistic-naturalist? Not necessarily, and the reason for why this is so is deliciously ironic, for it is a case in which the atheistic-naturalist is hoisted up by one of his own favorite petards: namely, that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Indeed, since many of the claims of the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative are truly extraordinary given that they are by no means mundane or common or observed or experimentally confirmed, and since they defy many aspects of our repeated experience—after all, we have no experience of life coming from non-life naturalistically, or consciousness emerging without prior breeding by conscious people (and these are just two examples that can be provided). Furthermore, as atheistic-naturalists routinely love to stress in the case of extraordinary miracles, it would take a massive amount of directly observed evidence for them to even consider contemplating the idea that a miracle occurred, and so is it any different for a non-naturalist to ask that the same standard be met for claims which the non-naturalist considers extraordinary in nature, such as that life can come from non-life naturalistically or that consciousness can emerge from mere matter-in-motion. Thus, the point here is, is that even if the atheistic-naturalist had evidence for all the major claims inherent in the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative—which he does not—this fact, in and of itself, would be insufficient to make belief in atheistic-naturalism rational for many individuals given the atheistic-naturalist’s own endorsement of the idea that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, for since many of atheistic-naturalism’s claims are extraordinary, and since this saying is largely subjective, then the atheistic-naturalist could never—or at least only with great difficulty—provide the extraordinary evidence necessary to make belief in his extraordinary claims rational. And so, as stated, the atheistic-naturalist is hoisted by his own petard.

Thus, the first option that the atheistic-naturalist proponent of naturalistic evolution can use to avoid this dilemma comes with its own serious difficulties and it does not negate the force of the dilemma.

Reasonable Faith

Now, the second option that the atheistic-naturalist who endorses naturalistic evolution can use against this dilemma is to essentially appeal to the so-called ‘success of naturalistic science’. Indeed, the atheistic-naturalist can claim that since science has allegedly been so successful in providing naturalistic explanations for physical phenomena while at the same time never having had to appeal to supernatural explanations for such phenomena, then it is reasonable to expect that science will provide us with a naturalistic explanation for the phenomena that atheistic-naturalism cannot, as of yet, explain. In essence, this is a position of ‘promissory-naturalism’, where the atheistic-naturalist has faith that science will eventually provide an answer to the problems that atheistic-naturalism currently cannot explain. And by appealing to this sort of promissory-naturalism, the atheistic-naturalist can claim that his belief in the worldview of atheistic-naturalism is not one which is built on blind faith, but rather it is built on a reasonable faith, which is borne from the success of science, and which assures the atheistic-naturalist that atheistic-naturalism will eventually have all the answers it seeks. There are, however, a vast number of problems with this appeal to promissory-naturalism.

First, note that, at best, this objection means that atheistic-naturalism is based on a reasonable faith, and yet, for all that one hears from atheistic-naturalists, one would get the impression that any position based on faith is not a rational one, and so it can be wondered why atheistic-naturalists can have a faith position, even an ostensibly ‘reasonable’ one, when they normally deny the validity of such positions to other worldviews. Should not such allegedly evidence-demanding atheistic-naturalists remain, at best, agnostic about atheistic-naturalism until and unless the grand claims of atheistic-naturalism are shown to be the case through evidence? And, to make matters worse, since such atheistic-naturalists also routinely claim that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, then, once again, we can wonder if it would not be more consistent for such atheistic-naturalists to refrain from believing in the grander claims of their worldview until and unless the extraordinary evidence for those claims was presented.

Second, and connected to the first point, it can be wondered whether atheistic-naturalists are truly consistent when it comes to this appeal to the present success of some discipline as being the grounds for having a reasonable faith in that discipline’s future success. For example, imagine a Christian who argues that since we continue to find ancient copies of the New Testament and the Gospels, then we can have a reasonable faith that we will soon find a Gospel dating back to within a few years of Jesus’s life; now, would the atheistic-naturalist be willing to grant the Christian a reasonable faith in this case, or in another case like it, or rather would the atheistic-naturalist simply dismiss the Christian’s promissory-gospelism and tell the Christian to come back once he actually has the evidence in hand, and then the atheistic-naturalist will believe it? Since it is almost a guarantee that the latter is the case, then can the atheistic-naturalist be any more surprised when people do the same with his promissory-naturalism?

Third, note that the atheistic-naturalist’s alleged claim that science has been so successful in providing naturalistic explanations for all phenomena and never having to appeal to supernatural explanations is a rather grand claim, and yet it is one which is readily disputable. For example, the certified miracles of Lourdes provide a number of cases of events examined by science which nevertheless have no naturalistic explanations. Furthermore, a number of cases in Craig Keener’s massive book Miracles also provide numerous examples of events that science arguably could not explain. So the claim that science has been so successful at explaining alleged supernatural events naturalistically is not only highly questionable, but even false. And while it is true that the atheistic-naturalist will no doubt dispute the aforementioned claims in favor of the miraculous, it can also be noted that perhaps trusting an atheistic-naturalist’s impartial assessment of these things is about as sound as trusting a defendant’s mother to be an impartial juror at that defendant’s murder trial.

Fourth, another cause for concern with the ‘success of science’ appeal is that quite often, when the so-called naturalistic explanations are examined in detail and with some scrutiny, what was claimed to be a naturalistic “explanation” turns out to be much more of a naturalistic just-so story. Indeed, when the atheistic-naturalist is asked to provide a clear explanation of how some phenomenon occurred naturally, what is all too often encountered is actually just a naturalistic conjecture, supposition, and appeal to possibility and/or plausibility. Or it is a massive extrapolation based on very meager evidence. For example, within evolutionary biology, because micro-evolutionary changes are seen to occur and are posited to have a blind and unguided naturalistic explanation for their occurrence, this evidence is then used to support the claim that massive macro-evolutionary changes can occur and thus serve as the explanation of all life. But this is just an astounding extrapolation that is completely unwarranted by the evidence that supports it. And so the point here is that the appeal to these naturalistic just-so stories and extrapolations in place of actual explanations raise doubts concerning just how seriously we should take the claim that science has been so successful in providing actual naturalistic explanations for phenomena, rather than just providing naturalistic possibilities for those phenomena. At the same time, another factor to note is that in certain cases, the explanations that atheistic-naturalists offer, do not actually explain the phenomenon in question, but rather just explain it away. For example, concerning consciousness, certainly atheistic-naturalists do not actually explain what consciousness is or how it arose, but rather they simply say that consciousness is an illusion, thus not explaining the phenomena in question, but rather just eliminating it from consideration. And so this is another technique that should give one pause concerning the claim that scientific explanations for phenomena have always moved in the direction from supernaturalism to naturalism, for in many cases, and for some of the most important phenomenon—such as consciousness, is just one example—the atheistic-naturalist is not so much explaining the phenomena in question but simply getting rid of it so that it does not cause an impediment to the rationality of his worldview. And so, the fact that many proffered naturalistic explanations are not even really explanations at all thus makes the appeal to promissory-naturalism a rather weak promise.

Next, note that the ‘success of science’ appeal is also rather general, and as such, it is questionable whether the appeal to the success of science actually works when science is separated into different disciplines, as it should be in order for it to be properly appealed to in support of the cause of atheistic-naturalism. For example, do the successes achieved in physics or chemistry apply directly to biology or psychology? Of course not, for these are all separate fields, each with their own successes and failures, and each with their own track-record. So when discussing such a thing as the naturalistic explanation for a historical event like the origin-of-life on our planet, which is the purview of a forensic science, it is rather unsound to appeal to the success of an experimental science like physics in order to claim that origin-of-life studies will ultimately provide a naturalistic explanation for the origin-of-life. Furthermore, in certain fields, and thus when looking at particular disciplines, such as origin-of-life studies, it is questionable whether science has been moving towards having a naturalistic explanation or actually away from it; indeed, consider, for example, that science has been studying the origin-of-life since, arguably, the time of Darwin, and yet not only is science not closer to an explanation for the origin-of-life, but given the complexities discovered by science in even the simplest cell, a naturalistic explanation for the origin-of-life seems further from discovery at present than closer to it. Indeed, when the first cell was thought to be nothing more than just a glob of stuff, a naturalistic explanation for it seemed highly plausible, but as science showed us that the cell was a thing filled with complexity and molecular machines, the provision of a naturalistic explanation for such a thing seems further off than it was before, not closer. Thus, science itself, by trying to find a naturalistic explanation for such things as the origin-of-life, and yet not finding such an explanation even after both greater and longer searching for it, thus pushes us away from a naturalistic explanation, not towards one. And the same could be said for such things as the naturalistic explanation of consciousness, language, and so on. And so, in many cases, science is making the chances of finding a naturalistic explanation for certain phenomena less successful, not more so.

Finally, even if, for the sake of argument, it was granted that science was been successful in always providing naturalistic explanations for certain phenomena, this would not necessarily count as evidence in favor of atheistic-naturalism. Why? Because science, as it is practiced today, is a discipline that uses an approach of methodological naturalism, which in essence, states that only naturalistic explanations are viable scientific explanations. And so what this means is that of course science has always provided naturalistic explanations for certain phenomena—when it provides explanations at all—for those are the only types of explanations it is allowed to provide in order for those explanations to count as scientific ones! And so can it be any surprise that science always seems to come up with naturalistic explanations? Can it be any surprise that a scientific explanation is always a naturalistic one? Of course not, for the whole system is designed to only accept naturalistic explanations. But then the whole ‘success of science’ shtick is just a Catch-22: if an explanation is naturalistic, it is scientific, but if the explanation is not naturalistic, then it is not scientific, and so naturalistic explanations cannot fail to be scientific while non-naturalistic explanations can never be scientific. In fact, the use of methodological naturalism means that science will appeal to a naturalistic explanation for phenomena even if it is the false explanation for that phenomena! Furthermore, since the atheistic-naturalist can always appeal to promissory-naturalism, what this means is that the atheistic-naturalist never has to admit that some phenomena does not have a potential naturalistic explanation, for he can endlessly claim that science is still seeking an explanation, and since a scientific explanation must be a naturalistic one, then if a scientific explanation is ever found, it will be considered naturalistic. But what all this means is that the appeal to the success of science as a support for the reasonableness of promissory-naturalism is both useless and without force, for it is a rigged game where science always generates naturalistic explanations, and where no explanations exist, promissory-naturalism can be continuously and endlessly appealed to. And so, given the fact that promissory-naturalism is the magical promise that never expires, the appeal to promissory-naturalism does not look reasonable, but rather it appears contrived, unfalsifiable, and dogmatic.

And so, for all these reasons the appeal to the success of science as a means of making belief in promissory-naturalism reasonable is a rather weak move; furthermore, since we are not merely worried about a naturalistic explanation for how some phenomena came about naturalistically, but whether it even can come to be naturalistically, then the fact is that, in such a case, it is more rational to wait for to see if a naturalistic explanation is even possible for the phenomena identified in this dilemma than it is to trust to promissory-naturalism. Consequently, this option does not save atheistic-naturalism from the force of this dilemma.

Agnosticism and Theism

Now, in saying all of the above, please note that the dilemma that the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative provides to atheistic-naturalism is not, in and of itself, an argument for theism. Rather, it is a dilemma which is meant to show that the atheistic-naturalist, in order to be rational, should be an agnostic about the truth of atheistic-naturalism, but he should not be an actual atheistic-naturalist, for it is not rational to be so. Thus, at best, this dilemma should merely move an atheistic-naturalist away from atheistic-naturalism towards agnosticism, but not necessarily towards theism.

Finally, and as argued in these past three essays, let it be noted that while atheistic-naturalism suffers from a dilemma where both horns point towards blind faith when it is coupled with the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative, the same problem does not arise for a worldview like theism, especially Christian theism. After all, on theism, God is infinite in power, ability, and knowledge, which means that we know, by definition, that God would have the power to create life, consciousness, and so on. Thus, on theism, while there might be a question of how God created these things, there is no question that God could do so, and so theism is a worldview that does indeed have a genuine ‘reasonable faith’ concerning these questions, for we know that God could do these things even if we do not know how He did them. By contrast, atheistic-naturalism, as argued, only has a blind faith concerning these matters given that it neither knows how these things occurred naturalistically or even if they ever could occur naturalistically. And this is the critical difference, for whereas theism, by definition, knows that God could create these things, the atheistic-naturalist does not even know if these things could come about on atheistic-naturalism, let only how they did come about. Therefore, whereas theism combined with evolution offers no ‘blind faith’ dilemma to the theist, naturalistic evolution combined with atheistic-naturalism does indeed offer such a dilemma to the atheistic-naturalist.

And so, the long and short of it is this: the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative does indeed pose a dilemma for atheistic-naturalism, and the various objections that can be mounted against this dilemma do not save atheistic-naturalism from its force. Thus, in light of this dilemma, the atheistic-naturalist, if he is to be rational, has good grounds to move away from atheistic-naturalism and towards agnosticism.

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Anno Domini 2017 01 06

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam

Objections to Horn One of Atheism’s Other Evolutionary Dilemma

The Reconquista Initiative

Presents…

Objections to Horn One of Atheism’s Other Evolutionary Dilemma

In a previous essay titled ‘Atheism’s Other Evolutionary Dilemma’, it was noted that the atheistic-naturalist is forced into a dilemma given that his worldview is essentially wed to the grand naturalistic version of the evolutionary narrative, which is indeed the only live option that the atheistic-naturalist can appeal to in order to explain the existence and development of all life. On the one hand, if the atheistic-naturalist denies the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative, then he suddenly has a worldview that has no viable explanation for the existence and apparent design of living things, as well as having a worldview that is thus based on blind faith given its lack of an explanation for biological life. On the other hand, if the atheistic-naturalist binds himself to the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative, then the fact that that narrative has no evidence for many of its major claims—such as, for example, abiogenesis or the emergence of consciousness—also means that the atheistic-naturalist’s worldview is based on blind faith. So whatever way that he turns, the atheistic-naturalist’s worldview is not one based on evidence, but rather it is a worldview built on an edifice of faith. And since believing things on the basis of blind faith is allegedly antithetical to the spirit of atheistic-naturalism, then this dilemma means that atheistic-naturalists should actually cease being atheistic-naturalists, for they hold a worldview which is antithetical to one of their own stated principles. And so this is a serious dilemma for the atheistic-naturalist. But, as with all arguments, some objections can be offered against them, and this one is no different, and so it is precisely those objections, or at least the ones related to the first horn of the dilemma, which this essay will address.

Now, as mentioned above, the first horn of this dilemma claims that if the atheistic-naturalistic disassociates himself from the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative then he suddenly has a worldview that has no viable explanation for the existence and apparent design of living things, as well as having a worldview that is thus based on blind faith given its lack of an explanation for biological life. Furthermore, the overwhelming appearance of design in living things—a fact admitted by many atheistic-naturalists themselves—suddenly becomes a major problem too, for if the atheistic-naturalist has no means of explaining this appearance of design in a naturalistic way, then it suddenly becomes eminently reasonable to believe that the appearance of design in living things is present because living things actually are designed by a designer.

Now, in answer to this first horn of the dilemma, the atheistic-naturalist can simply note that while the denial of the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative would leave a large gap in his worldview, his worldview is still logically tenable even with this gap. However, there are two responses that can be made to this claim. First, it is possible to agree with this point, but then to note that the dilemma is ultimately not meant to deny the mere logical tenability of atheistic-naturalism without the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative, but rather to point out that atheistic-naturalism is a worldview built on blind faith, and that is a point which the aforementioned objection does nothing to negate. But second, it is actually questionable whether atheistic-naturalism would be tenable—perhaps logically tenable, but not reasonably tenable—without including its only live option of the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative as the explanation for all of biological life. After all, explaining the origin of life, language, consciousness, rationality, and so on are foundational issues, and any worldview which not only has no explanation for how these things came to be but does not even know if they could come to be on the worldview in question, is arguably not a reasonable or tenable worldview, at least not if one wishes to avoid charges of fideism. Add to this issue the fact that life gives off the overwhelming appearance of design, with the natural implication that there exists some type of designer, and it suddenly becomes less-than-tenable for a naturalistic worldview to have no explanation for the existence of biological life in the face of such a forceful appearance of design in biological organisms. And so, as stated, it is quite questionable whether or not atheistic-naturalism actually is tenable in any real sense without attaching itself to the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative.

Next, the atheistic-naturalist, in repudiating the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative, could offer some other naturalistic narrative to account for the origin and development of all biological life. For example, perhaps the atheistic-naturalist could claim that biological life is the result of accidental but massive freak mutations which changed biological organisms completely in one fell swoop and that such changes occurred numerous times in the past, thereby accounting for all the variety of life that we currently see. However, any such alternative narrative would very likely be even more implausible than the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative, and it would very likely be based on just as little evidence, if not even less, than the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative itself, and so the main thrust of the dilemma would still remain in force even with the attempt at offering an alternative naturalistic account of how biological organisms came to be on atheistic-naturalism. Furthermore, the fact that no atheistic-naturalists offer such a different account in any serious way, but rather always appeal to naturalistic evolution of some type as the method of accounting for the existence and development of biological life, thereby offers good evidence of the intellectual poverty of trying to offer a completely different naturalistic account for the origin and development of biological life.

Finally, if the atheistic-naturalist denies the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative, and in light of the overwhelming appearance of design in biological organisms, thus appeals to some kind of naturalistic design as the explanation for biological life, then such an explanation might be viable, but it merely pushes the question of explaining biological life in a naturalistic fashion in the direction of having to provide a naturalistic account of how our designer came to be naturalistically. In essence, an appeal to naturalistic design does nothing to help the atheistic-naturalist towards explaining or accounting for biological life, it merely pushes the issue back one step. And, at the same time, since the atheistic-naturalist, in this case, is admitting to the design of biological organisms, then this admittance, in and of itself, provides support to those individuals pointing to the supernatural design of biological organisms, such as many individuals in the Intelligent Design movement. So by admitting to the design of biological organisms, even if only admitting to the naturalistic design of such organisms, the atheistic-naturalist is nevertheless providing aid and comfort, so to speak, to his ideological enemies, and this is something that the atheistic-naturalist would likely not be willing to do. And so the design option is available to the atheistic-naturalist, but it is a very dangerous option indeed, for it ultimately does little to help his position, but it does greatly help the position of his ideological opponents.

And so, the long and short of it is this:  the objections that the atheistic-naturalist can mount to the first horn of the dilemma summarized at the start of this essay simply do not improve the atheistic-naturalist’s position at all. Thus, the atheistic-naturalist’s best hope to solve this evolutionary dilemma is to object to the second horn of the dilemma, and it is precisely those objections which shall be examined in yet another essay.

Happy New Year to Everyone, and if you wish, then please support this work here: www.patreon.com/reconquistainitiative

Anno Domini 2017 01 01

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam

Atheism’s Other Evolutionary Dilemma

The Reconquista Initiative

Presents…

Atheism’s Other Evolutionary Dilemma

Although atheistic-naturalism—the most popular and arguably the only coherent and consistent form of atheism—is not necessarily wed to affirming and accepting the grand narrative of blind and unguided evolution, the fact of the matter is that in practice, for the atheistic-naturalist, the grand theory of naturalistic (meaning blind and unguided) evolution is the only game in town. Consequently, the atheist has little choice but to affirm something like naturalistic evolution and naturalistic abiogenesis as not only the explanation for the beginning of life and its future development, but also as the explanation for such things as human rationality and consciousness. But the fact that the atheistic-naturalist is essentially bound to such a theory presents the atheistic-naturalist with a dilemma which is highly detrimental to the rationality of his worldview as well as to his own intellectual consistency. And so, to understand the problems that arise for the atheistic-naturalist due to connection to naturalistic evolution, consider the two horns of the dilemma that the atheistic-naturalist must face.

Horn One

Initially, consider that if the atheistic-naturalist decides not to affirm the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative, then the atheistic-naturalist runs into two problems. First, because the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative is the atheistic-naturalist’s only live option to explain the existence and development of life, and yet given that, as even many atheistic-naturalists themselves admit, life readily looks designed, then if the atheistic-naturalist does not appeal to something like the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative as his explanation for the fact that life clearly appears designed, then the option of design suddenly looms large for both the atheistic-naturalist and everyone else. Indeed, if the atheistic-naturalist cannot even appeal to something like the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative as his way of trying to account for not only the existence of life but also the way in which life appears designed, then it is not surprising that people would thus readily start to affirm the fact that life looks designed because it is designed, and that some type of designer must thus exist. So denying naturalistic evolution and abiogenesis causes the design option to become the only live and reasonable option available to explain the existence of life and its apparent design.

But now, the second problem is that if the atheistic-naturalist does not affirm his only live option of the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative, and yet if he also does not affirm design as the explanation of life, then the atheistic-naturalist thus has such a large and gaping hole in his worldview that it could easily be objected that his worldview is irrational, or, at the very least, it would be a worldview based on blind faith. After all, if the atheistic-naturalist cannot explain something as fundamental as the existence and development of life on his worldview, but nevertheless still believes that it “somehow” occurred naturally and without design, then this is quite clearly a fideistic position. Indeed, for while an atheistic-naturalist could deny the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative without offering anything in its place and yet still technically remain an atheistic-naturalist, holding to such an overall position, especially in the face of the challenge of design and the appearance of design in life, would thus be a position which was one not based on evidence or argument, but rather on mere blind faith. After all, as even atheist and evolution-proponent Richard Dawkins says on page 6 of the 2006 Penguin edition of his book The Blind Watchmaker “…although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” So without Darwin, there is no intellectually fulfilled atheism, and that, quite frankly, would be a serious blow to atheistic-naturalism as a coherent and rational worldview.

But the problem stretches even further, for most atheistic-naturalists pride themselves on not holding anything on “faith”, and especially not on blind faith; and so to an atheistic-naturalist who holds to such an anti-faith perspective, then, in order to be consistent, the atheist-naturalist should not hold to a worldview that has a ‘blind faith’ component to it, and thus the atheistic-naturalist should not be an atheistic-naturalist at all. And so this overall problem is the first horn of the dilemma that evolution presents to atheistic-naturalism.

Horn Two

Now, the second horn of this problematic dilemma arises if the atheistic-naturalist does indeed affirm the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative, as he essentially must do and as he almost always does. And what this second problem is, is that it once again makes atheistic-naturalism into a worldview that is based, in substantial part, on blind faith. After all, no matter what sort of just-so stories are offered, and no matter how many appeals to “possibility” are made, the fact remains that numerous major portions of the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative have not been demonstrated at all and are believed to have occurred on the basis of nothing more than faith alone. Consider, for example, the utter absence of any evidence, let alone comprehensive evidence, for a naturalistic explanation for the origin-of-life, the Cambrian Explosion, the development of other body plans, the emergence of language, consciousness, rationality, and so on; and this is not even to mention the more mundane concerns about atheistic-naturalism having little more than just-so stories as the explanation for the development of such minor things as eyes, wings, and so on. And so accepting the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative means accepting large aspects of it on faith; it is, once again, a fideistic position.

Now, it needs to be understood that the problem here is not that the atheistic-naturalist lacks any explanation or evidence for how things like life, consciousness, rationality, and so on, came to be naturally—although this problem is bad enough even on its own—but rather, the problem is that the atheistic-naturalist does not even know whether it is possible at all that these things could come about naturally. Sure, it is ‘logically possible’ in the broad sense that these things could come about naturalistically—after all, there is no logical contradiction in them—but this does not mean that these things are physically possible in the real world given the conditions that operate in this world. And by way of analogy, consider that it is ‘logically possible’ in the broad sense that an unassisted human being, today, could run ten thousand miles per hour, but this does not mean that it is physically possible given what human beings are today, and given the conditions of this earthly environment, etc.; and indeed, no human being could actually run that speed today even though it is logically possible that one could. And, as stated, the atheistic-naturalist has the same problem: he can claim that it is possible that life can come from non-life naturalistically or that consciousness can do the same, but making such an appeal to mere possibility in the broad sense is ultimately vacuous, for it does nothing to show that such a thing is possible in this universe. And sadly for the atheistic-naturalist, the only way to show that such a thing is physically possible, is to actually show it come about. And yet doing so in a clear evidentiary way would be very difficult, if not impossible; however, until and unless the atheistic-naturalist does so, then a major component of his worldview is, as stated, based on nothing but blind faith. Furthermore, and as with the first horn of the dilemma, for any atheistic-naturalist who normally refuses to believe anything on blind faith, then the fact that a major and critical component of his worldview is held to be true based on nothing but blind faith means that such an atheistic-naturalist, if he is to remain consistent, should cease being an atheistic-naturalist at all.

And so, the long and short of it is this:  for all practical purposes, atheistic-naturalism is wed to the grand naturalistic version of the evolutionary narrative, which is the only live option that the atheistic-naturalist can appeal to in order to explain the existence and development of all life. Yet if the atheistic-naturalist denies this connection, then he suddenly has a worldview that has absolutely no explanation for the existence and apparent design of living things, as well as having a worldview that has a critical dollop of blind faith attached to it. On the other hand, if the atheistic-naturalist ties himself to the grand naturalistic evolutionary narrative, then the fact that that narrative has no evidence for many of its major claims also means that the atheistic-naturalist holds to a worldview based on blind faith. And so either way that he turns, the atheistic-naturalist does not hold a worldview based on evidence, but rather he holds to a worldview where some of its most critical components have no supporting evidence at all. And since holding to certain beliefs on the basis of blind faith is allegedly anathema to many atheistic-naturalists, then this dilemma means that they should cease being atheistic-naturalists, or at least they should stop pretending to be consistent ones. Now, there are indeed objections that can be mounted against this dilemma, but those objections will be addressed in a separate essay.

Still a Merry Christmas to all, and so, if you wish, then please support this work here: www.patreon.com/reconquistainitiative

Anno Domini 2016 12 29

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam

Christian Rhetoric and Re-Naming Christmas

The Reconquista Initiative

Presents…

Christian Rhetoric and Re-Naming Christmas

In the battle between different worldviews, it is simply a fact that many people, at least initially, are not swayed by reason, but rather by rhetoric, polemics, and a perception of worldview confidence. For this reason, Christians in general, and especially the Christian apologists with an aptitude for it, need to start couching Christian truth in a confident rhetorical and polemical approach in order to make the presentation of that truth more persuasive and effective. This does not mean lying, nor does it mean being disrespectful, but it does mean calling a spade a spade, not issuing unwarranted and groveling apologies, not trying to seek false common ground, and not trying to placate a worldview opponent just to be “nice”.

And so, in light of the above, and given that it is Christmas, it is suggested that Christians, at Christmas, can engage in a minor rhetoric action to make their Christmas witness a bit more forceful and confident. Indeed, given the modern secular attempt to literally de-Christianize the word “Christmas” and turn Christ’s Mass into little more than a secular day of festivities, it is, arguably, time for Christians to become more forceful in clearly yet briefly elucidating what the real meaning and purpose of Christmas is: namely, that it is the day to celebrate the Incarnation of Christ through His birth as a Man. Thus, it is proposed that Christians actually stop using the term “Merry Christmas” and replace it with something even more provocation, such as ‘Happy Incarnation Day’ or ‘Happy Christ’s Birthday.’ In fact, even adding something as minor as ‘…the day of Jesus Christ’s birth’ after an invocation of ‘Merry Christmas’—essentially, saying, ‘Merry Christmas, the day of Jesus Christ’s birth!’—would be an excellent rhetorical way of showing that Christians are not afraid of affirming what Christmas truly is about. And indeed, hearing any one of these different Christmas greetings for the so-called “Holiday Season” would make it clear that we are not celebrating some secular materialistic holiday that just happens to be titled “Christmas”, but rather that we are celebrating the very birthday of the Savior of the World. And using such terms would also show that we, as Christians, are not afraid of expressing that truth to one and all. And so, to all of you, Merry Christmas, the day of Christ’s most glorious and salvific birth!

 Happy Christ’s Birthday to all, and if you wish, then please support here: www.patreon.com/reconquistainitiative

Anno Domini 2016 12 24

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam

Apologetics and Western Civilization

The Reconquista Initiative

Presents…

Apologetics and Western Civilization

As a writer who wishes to support the West’s re-embrace of the cultural principles and social pillars that made traditional Western Civilization the best civilization that Man has ever been graced with, but as a writer who also spends a great deal of time writing on the topic of Christian apologetics, a number of legitimate and interesting questions can thus be asked of my work: namely, what do Christian apologetics have to do with helping to re-establish traditional Western Civilization? Indeed, why spend so much time arguing about things that seem only indirectly related to the issue of fighting for traditional Western Civilization when that time could, allegedly, be spent more productively? And why the focus, in large part, on apologetics against atheism and secularism?

Now, as stated, these are good and interesting questions, and they deserve an answer. And so, apart from the very obvious and very brief answer that one primarily argues for Christianity because one holds Christianity to be true, it can also be stated that the other brief answer to these questions is that the reason one engages in Christian apologetics is because Christian apologetics is integral to the survival of traditional Western Civilization. That is why, in a nut-shell, one argues for Christian apologetics. But as this short answer is likely to be unsatisfactory, let me provide some more detail concerning this matter.

First, traditional orthodox Christianity—in contradistinction to its modern progressive variety, which is essentially the undemanding spiritual secularism of this world—is one of the key pillars of traditional Western Civilization. Thus, no Christianity means no Western Civilization. Now supporting this assertion is not the point of this essay, and regardless, supporting such an assertion would require an essay of its own, but let me nevertheless offer a few points in its favor. Consider that human beings are religious and transcendence-seeking creatures, so they will always seek such transcendence; furthermore, civilizations, almost universally, are integrally linked to some kind of religious or “higher” ideology, and Western Civilization’s religious ideology has been traditionalist Christianity. Thus, arguing and reasoning for traditionalist Christianity, which is what apologetics does, is critical, especially since without a robust and intellectual form of Christianity being defended, Christianity will not survive. Indeed, for while rhetoric and emotions may move some people to embrace Christianity initially, a purely emotive and psychological style of Christianity will not be sufficient to sustain it for most people, and thus apologetics is a key component towards keeping Christianity viable as a worldview. At the same time, and alongside the point that Christianity is required for Western Civilization, a case can be made, in my view, that a culture build on liberalism, materialism, progressivism, secularism and practical atheism simply will not have the will to resist other cultures nor be robust enough to fight for itself—as evidenced, for example, by secular Europe’s present demographic winter and their weakness in the face of a migrant invasion—and so countering atheism and secularism is also critical to aiding Western Civilization. And since apologetics do indeed tackle atheism and secularism, then is this also why apologetics are highly important.

Second, another pillar of traditional Western Civilization is the use of reason and empiricism—something, if should be noted, which was practiced by Christian philosophers and the scholastics long before the Enlightenment—and since Christian apologetics is based on reason and empiricism, then engaging in Christian apologetics thereby supports this other pillar of Western Civilization.

Third, a man converted to traditionalist Christianity is a man who will quite naturally become a supporter of traditional Western Civilization, and since intellectual apologetics not only creates converts, but often creates very influential converts—think C.S. Lewis, for example—then apologetics offers not only indirect support for Western Civilization in this way, but can also be a force-multiplier through the potential creation of converts who eventually serve to aid Western Civilization to an even greater degree than anticipated.

And so the value of Christian apologetics, both in the obvious sense of arguing for that which is true, and in the sense of being a tool which supports traditional Western Civilization, cannot, in my view, be overstated.

Now, from a personal perspective, note that the reason I argue so much concerning apologetics is simply because I have an aptitude for it as well as a great interest in it. And indeed, not only do I have an abiding interest in this field, but I also believe that I have a number of unique and important contributions to make to it. For example—and these are just a very few brief examples—I believe that we all have an incorrect view of the issue of how the burden of proof is determined, and that atheism is a wholly irrational view which undermines itself, and that nearly all of the objections against Christianity can be quite easily answered in certain unanticipated ways. Furthermore, while I find that there are many good people arguing for Western Civilization from non-apologetic angles, and thus those other fields are saturated, I find that a great deal of modern Christian apologetics, though excellent, is nevertheless repetitive. And since I believe that I do indeed have some novel items to add to the field, this is why I write on the topic of Christian apologetics to the degree that I do.And so, the long and short of it is this:  engaging in Christian apologetics is vital to Western Civilization because Christianity is vital to Western Civilization, and apologetics are vital to the maintenance of a robust form of traditionalist Christianity. And from a personal point-of-view, I engage in apologetics because I believe that I have something unique to add to the discipline. Now, whether or not that is actually the case, is something for you to decide as you continue to engage with my work.

Think apologetics is important, then please help and support my efforts at  www.patreon.com/reconquistainitiative

Anno Domini 2016 12 17

Non nobis Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam