June 09, 2016

Why Atheism and Polytheism are Illogical

This may be discouraging for atheists, but in accordance with the latest definitions of "atheism" by the most respected sources, atheism is illogical. It's important to use the most accurate and reputable definitions. While you probably shouldn't use a Black and Decker drill as a tool to perform medical surgery, you also probably shouldn't use Webster's dictionary for philosophical definitions, if you have philosophical sources available.

Definitions of "atheism":

"Atheism’ means the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God." (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

"The theory or belief that God does not exist." (Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy)

Why Atheism is Illogical

Summary Argument

1) With respect to agnosticism, if atheism means, "the negation of theism" and the “denial of God's existence,” and history shows that there is no convincing evidence to demonstrate that theism and God have been negated and denied, then choosing atheism is illogical.

2) History shows that atheists have not logically demonstrated probability that theism and God have been negated and denied.
3) Therefore, with respect to agnosticism, choosing atheism is illogical.

Expanded points

1. The burden is on those who wish to affirm a belief or position to offer reason and evidence in support of such. 
2. According to Stanford, "Atheism means the negation of theism, the denial of the existence of God." And Oxford defines atheism as, "The theory or belief that God does not exist." - with both definitions implying a positive claim is being assumed, as opposed to agnosticism, in which a lack of belief is emphasized.

3. Philosophical definitions of "atheism" in context are more appropriate than a generic description as, "a lack of belief in God" - which also could apply to agnosticism. 
4. In terms of logic, the atheist truth claim, “God does not exist,” is not an analytic truth claim and is not strictly provable. Likewise, the truth claim of atheism is not a synthetic one because it cannot be strictly demonstrated. For these reasons, atheism cannot be strictly proved.

5. In terms of probability, it is not enough to critique the theist fine tuning argument. To prove atheism is superior atheists need to provide a superior probability argument, among other things. If you search the Internet, you will most likely find as I did that "probability argument for atheists" turns up only probably arguments for theists, as criticized by atheists, which is not adequate.
6. In terms of metaphysics and metaethics, the belief that science has all the answers is not empirically demonstrable and is logically weak, however, top atheist authorities, such as Hawking and Dawkins, lean toward positivism. In comparison to theism, answers to many important metaphysical questions and convictions remain unresolved and incoherent for atheists in general.

7. The atheist may claim that belief in theism and God should be dismissed as ludicrous or undefinable, but some of the greatest minds in science and philosophy have believed in God and defended theism with logic and reason, and the background of arguments for God remain a challenge to atheists.

8. Pursuant to points 1 to 7, theism and God's existence can neither be lightly dismissed nor effectively disproved. In contrast to theism, the lack of atheist answers to important metaphysical questions reveals a lack of holistic efficacy for atheists. Therefore, with respect to authoritative definitions of “atheism” and “agnosticism,” atheism is illogical.

Constructive Affirmation

A first criticism of the above points may be the definition of “atheism” used in point two. However, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is considered authoritative and this definition is required for the disambiguation of atheism and agnosticism.

Point four underscores that atheism cannot be strictly proved with logic. The truth claim, “No bachelor is married” is an analytic truth claim that demonstrates logical certainty, without the need to actually observe a bachelor. The phrase “married bachelor” is clearly negated as a logical contradiction. The truth claim, “God does not exist” offers no such analytical foothold. And by contrast, synthetic truth statements cannot be determined based solely on logic, and are based on experiences that contingently true. However, unlike analytic truth, synthetic truth cannot be determined absolutely. The PhilosophyOTB website reviews this problem for atheists in depth with four essays.

In terms of probability, it's not enough to merely nitpick the theist fine tuning argument. To affirm and effectively demonstrate that atheism is superior, a superior and highly convincing probability argument in favor of atheism must be presented. A cursory search for "probability argument for atheists" only turns up probability arguments for theists. Any atheist is free to post any such argument at my blog comments, if they have one.

In terms of metaphysics, many authoritative atheists today, such as Hawking and Dawkins, lean towards logical positivism, which basically denies metaphyscs outright. The positivist belief that science has all the answers, however, has been rejected by authoritative secular philosophers, with descriptions of, “Logical positivism's fall,” that, “nearly all of it was false," that it is now, “dead, or as dead as a philosophical movement ever becomes". If anyone believes that positivism has been convincingly reused, please post a link in the comments of this post. As has been pointed out, logical positivists may claim: “All statements that can't be empirically verified are meaningless.” But critics can reply: “It's impossible to empirically verify that claim!” Logical positivism is the philosophy that emphasizes a need for verified “meaning: and cannot verify that its own statements are meaningful. The inefficacy of positivism has been described by a blogger: “What is surprising about logical positivism as outlined by Wittgenstein, is that any representation – whether picture, sound recording or text – should make sense only to the extent to which we can split it into individual statements about what is the case...” Obviously, a picture can make sense and convey intended meaning without the analytical dissection of each element. Three objections to positivism are noted at this linked blog, with no apparent rebuttal. The late Karl Popper claimed, "A theory that explains everything, explains nothing." He was emphasizing that positivism, claiming to explain everything by verification, was in itself unverifiable and incoherent.

Wittgenstein also elucidated the folly of logical positivism. He underscored that ethical issues are not verifiable for positivists and are of a transcendent nature. Ethical questions result in incoherent answers from secular atheists. For example, I've found that secular atheists generally have a moral conviction that bestiality is immoral. They seem to always claim that animals should be able to give consent before engaging in any sexual physical pleasure with humans. Yet, the same people will claim that animals do not need to offer consent before they are slaughtered, butchered and consumed (by these very people)! Atheists cannot refute claims of personal religious experience, cannot explain how immaterial minds came from material substance, or how peer-reviewed dislocated mind-body near death experiences could possibly occur. Scott Youngren elaborates on a number of these metaphysical problems for atheists and why Ockham’s Razor ultimately supports theism rather than atheism. The challenge for the atheist is to provide cogent answers to metaphysical questions that are more convincing than explanations and arguments from theists.
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy outlines the historical philosophical background behind the valid claim that, "Faith and reason are both sources of authority upon which beliefs can rest." underscoring that, "Reason generally is understood as the principles for a methodological inquiry, whether intellectual, moral, aesthetic, or religious. Thus is it not simply the rules of logical inference or the embodied wisdom of a tradition or authority."
Point seven is important because there is a trend among New Atheists these days to try to dismiss theism and God's existence based upon shallow and illogical excuses. For example, there are at least seven reasons why Richard Dawkins' excuses for not debating William Lane Craig are illogical.  Likewise, defending his "Evil God Challenge," Stephen Law has make the false claim that it is not necessary for atheists to overcome the stronger theist arguments in order to validate atheism. Craig describes Law's illogical position: "In the debate, Law made the remarkable claim that the cosmological and teleological arguments are not even part of a cumulative case for theism! This is clearly wrong."

A brief search of the Internet reveals that popular atheist sites offer sophistry as an alleged defense of atheism. Examples include this statement: "If God is omnipotent, is it possible to create a rock so heavy that it cannot be lifted by God?" or this one: "Can you present your logical "proof" against any other God than your own?" Matt Slick outlines that the first example is a weak objection because,  "...God cannot do something that is a violation of His own existence and nature." The second question is an evasive tactic. As shown by the disambiguation of "atheism" and "agnosticism" from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the onus is on the atheist to positively negate theism and to deny God's existence, or, to accept the alternative, to take a stance of agnosticism. For the theist, the request for "any other God" is incoherent, because God is logically a singularity. See the latter argument in this post disproving polytheism. 
The Christian apologist C.S. Lewis offered, “If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning.” This offers a valid epistemological challenge to atheists. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has outlined that faith and reason are both sources of authority, with regard to a holistic approach towards understanding meaning, significance, ethics, aesthetics and other poignant subjects.

With regard to authoritative definitions, atheism is illogical and agnosticism is more of a logical position for skeptics of theism. I believe that Christianity offers the most logical conclusion with the most explanatory power. If any atheist wishes to challenge the points outlined, please post in the comments or a link to your rebuttal.
Why Polytheism is Illogical

1. Polythieism is defined as, "The belief in, or worship of, many gods" (Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy)
2. A god is defined as a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship; specifically :  one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality.

3. As a conceptual possibility, a god must be either eternal or not eternal.

4. Something eternal can be considered as literally "perfect" while something created cannot.

5. Something eternal and perfect in many qualities would be dynamically perfect and superior.

6. Many gods cannot conceptually be eternal and dynamically perfect because this would pose a problem for the law of identity, where A = A, where existence equals essence, because eternal dynamic perfection cannot be shared by separate entities.

7. It would be incoherent to propose one god with one will and with perfect authority if another separate god with a separate will had perfect omniscience and perfect omnipotence and omnipresence, and his is because the "perfection of cohesion" and unity cannot be obtained by one limited god or shared across the wills of many limited gods.

8. Ultimately, if "perfect perfection" literally exists, it must exist as a transcendent dynamic perfection, as a type of singularity, as the prime authority and prime mover.

For those that would offer that the Trinity represent many gods, this is a misunderstanding. The Trinity does not represent many gods with separate wills, but one God of three aspects. The rabbis describe this as a compound unity. This is exemplified by a cluster of grapes that is one cluster and grows from one vine, but has distinguishable aspects and features.
Tags: definitions of atheism and agnosticism,  Is it possible to prove a negative or prove nonexistence? atheism is illogical, atheists have the burden of proof, proving a negative, holding a burden, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Atheism is illogical, crisis, depression, Olaf Simons

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