Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Buckle Your Seatbelts

This is going to be a fun ride.

The blogger formally known as The Raving Atheist is now The Raving Theist, and shows that conversion in no way impairs one's sense of humor.

Just so.

Reading some of the "I wonder how this guy went from being so rational to being a godidiot" comments (getting linked to by PZ Myers doesn't exactly raise the tone of one's commentariat -- though to be fair the "godidiot" term was one used frequently by Raving Atheist before becoming a Christian) I've been rather struck by degree to which those who spend lots of hours frequenting online atheist watering holes refuse to admit that one can be rational and still be a theist. For people who supposedly take all their pointers from science, this seems a rather odd view, since one of the obvious corollaries of the scientific method is that there are almost always multiple rational explanations for a given set of evidence. However, two different explanations as to what underlying process produces the evidence will generally produce different predictions about the world. And the scientific process involves trying to see which (if any) of these sets of predictions bears out in reality.

The question of God's existence gets prickly, in part because atheists and theists often not only do not agree on what the predictions of theism and atheism would be, but they also don't agree on what evidence currently exists. Speaking for myself, I think that a form of atheistic materialism is a rational conclusion given a certain body of evidence that one might have personally experienced or read about -- however I think that the predictions which atheistic materialism would make about reality do not fit with my experience of reality. (For instance: I do think that free will exists. And I do think that qualities such as Justice and Goodness have objective existence.) Thus, I reject atheistic materialism. However, I think one can hold it perfectly rationally -- so long as one is willing to also assent to its implications.

The difficulty with the louder of the Raving Theist's commenters is that they do not seem to see it as remotely possible that one could be rational and come to the conclusion that theism is true. The which suggests to me, at least, a certain narrowness of viewpoint -- and perhaps a lack of understanding of how evidence, theory and prediction work when applied to something philosophical or theological rather than the question of which ball will fall faster off the Tower of Pisa.


Rick Lugari said...

Reading this post and skimming the content of the Raving Theist's posts and comments. I was reminded of a GKC quote. When I googled it I found a couple more.

- Roman Catholicism is indeed a great and fixed and formidable system, but so is atheism. Atheism is indeed the most daring of all dogmas, more daring than the vision of a palpable day of judgment. For it is the assertion of a universal negative; for a man to say that there is no God in the universe is like saying that there are no insects in any of the stars.

- There are arguments for atheism, and they do not depend, and never did depend, upon science. They are arguable enough, as far as they go, upon a general survey of life; only it happens to be a superficial survey of life.

- I do not feel any contempt for an atheist, who is often a man limited and constrained by his own logic to a very sad simplification.

John Farrell said...

Excellent post. Witness, btw, the irrational hostility with which Antony Flew's 'deconversion' was greeted by the "new" atheists--and he didn't even become a Christian, essentially a deist if I recall correctly.

Charles said...
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