Regardless if we know a how to use a bunsen burner, to suggest that unbelievers are generally smarter than believers indicates that they themselves (the unbeliever) are naturally more intellectual than those ‘who believe.’ In other words, unbelievers are far to smart to fall for something so dim-witted as Christianity, Santa, invisible unicorns, leprechauns, and divine spaghetti noodles. Perhaps this is just a result of evolutionary programming?
However, it seems to me that the same reasons that most of the population is not composed of “intellectuals” would be the same reasons that most Christians are not “intellectuals.” But just because most people are not intellectuals and most Christians are not intellectuals, it doesn’t mean that Christianity cannot, or is not, intellectually viable. So even if the unbeliever can stump uncle Bob with the ‘mere possibility of the existence of multiple universes’ does not mean that his objection is successful (perhaps only for an occasion).
Yet, televangelism doesn’t set the bar for Christian theology, ethics, and intellectualism (or philosophy). In fact, on the academic level, the philosophical strength of Christianity has been on stride since Plantinga’s God and Other Minds, in 1967. Quinton Smith, a prominent atheist philosopher explains how theists are not outmatched by naturalists (with much thanks to Alvin Plantinga):
This is not to say that none of the scholars in the various academic fields were realist theists in their “private lives”; but realist theists, for the most part, excluded their theism from their publications and teaching, in large part because theism (at least in its realist variety) was mainly considered to have such a low epistemic status that it did not meet the standards of an “academically respectable” position to hold. The secularization of mainstream academia began to quickly unravel upon the publication of Plantinga’s influential book on realist theism, God and Other Minds, in 1967. It became apparent to the philosophical profession that this book displayed that realist theists were not outmatched by naturalists in terms of the most valued standards of analytic philosophy: conceptual precision, rigor of argumentation, technical erudition, and an in-depth defense of an original world-view. This book, followed seven years later by Plantinga’s even more impressive book, The Nature of Necessity, made it manifest that a realist theist was writing at the highest qualitative level of analytic philosophy, on the same playing field as Carnap, Russell, Moore, Grünbaum, and other naturalists. Realist theists, whom hitherto had segregated their academic lives from their private lives, increasingly came to believe (and came to be increasingly accepted or respected for believing) that arguing for realist theism in scholarly publications could no longer be justifiably regarded as engaging in an “academically unrespectable” scholarly pursuit.
Naturalists passively watched as realist versions of theism, most influenced by Plantinga’s writings, began to sweep through the philosophical community, until today perhaps one-quarter or one-third of philosophy professors are theists, with most being orthodox Christians. Although many theists do not work in the area of the philosophy of religion, so many of them do work in this area that there are now over five philosophy journals devoted to theism or the philosophy of religion, such as Faith and Philosophy, Religious Studies, International Journal of the Philosophy of Religion, Sophia, Philosophia Christi, etc. Philosophia Christi began in the late 1990s and already is overflowing with submissions from leading philosophers. Can you imagine a sizeable portion of the articles in contemporary physics journals suddenly presenting arguments that space and time are God’s sensorium (Newton’s view) or biology journals becoming filled with theories defending élan vital or a guiding intelligence? Of course, some professors in these other, non-philosophical, fields are theists; for example, a recent study indicated that seven percent of the top scientists are theists.1 However, theists in other fields tend to compartmentalize their theistic beliefs from their scholarly work; they rarely assume and never argue for theism in their scholarly work. If they did, they would be committing academic suicide or, more exactly, their articles would quickly be rejected, requiring them to write secular articles if they wanted to be published. If a scientist did argue for theism in professional academic journals, such as Michael Behe in biology, the arguments are not published in scholarly journals in his field (e.g., biology), but in philosophy journals (e.g., Philosophy of Science and Philo, in Behe’s case). But in philosophy, it became, almost overnight, “academically respectable” to argue for theism, making philosophy a favored field of entry for the most intelligent and talented theists entering academia today. A count would show that in Oxford University Press’ 2000–2001 catalogue, there are 96 recently published books on the philosophy of religion (94 advancing theism and 2 presenting “both sides”). By contrast, there are 28 books in this catalogue on the philosophy of language, 23 on epistemology (including religious epistemology, such as Plantinga’s Warranted Christian Belief), 14 on metaphysics, 61 books on the philosophy of mind, and 51 books on the philosophy of science.
The overall indication is that Christianity offers a respectable and defendable worldview (see Two Dozen (or so) Theistic Arguments). Quinton Smith recognizes this as an intellectual (even though he disagrees), but it’s difficult to note others who are willing to make the same public statements. But as long as unbelievers are using arguments from spaghetti (a.k.a. spaghettium ad argumentium), it shows the utter lack of understanding, respect, and unwillingness to have a conversation. Unbeliever’s arguments of spaghetti monsters, leprechauns, fairies, tea pots et al, don’t show their oppositions weaknesses, but their own ignorance and obscurantism.
A few months ago a friend emailed me a clever collection of terms he previously retrieved from a message board called “The Believer’s Dictionary.” The list of terms and descriptions are both amusing and sobering. The dictionary provides an overwhelming sense of familiarity when conversing with skeptics. Anyone who has spent a diminutive amount of time dialoging with petulant internet atheologians will immediately appreciate The Believer's Dictionary. I tried to track down the source of this with no avail. I have a suspicion it’s from a Muslim message board due to some specific annotations; however, I am unsure. Regardless, the material is a *must* read! If anyone knows the source, or is able to track it down, please let me know—I would like to provide a link to the original source if I can.
I enjoy reading from The Skeptic’s Dictionary: it’s a useful resource for learning about common nonsense (for example, who first spoke of the imaginary “gray men” aliens, these having been similar to the aliens on an episode of The Outer Limits which had recently aired). All the same, though, I have some bones to pick—more with trendy pseudo-intellectual sorts of skeptics in general than with the Dictionary itself, so I thought I’d list them here as my own dictionary about the common pitfalls of skepticism. So far I have twenty-four entries; with time I may add more. So without further ado, here is The Believer’s Dictionary!
“Ancient = stupid” fallacy: The skeptics’ own version of Erich von Daniken’s famous arguments in favor of the existence UFOs. The absurd misinterpretations and reinterpretations of myths coming invariably from art (poetry, murals, songs, statues, etc.)—which is by definition a nonliteral medium—as being necessarily entirely literal when regarding ancient religions even though modern art is not the same way. This is used as fodder for stereotypes about religion as a universally mythical thing that always ends up getting “explained” by science. (See also THE OL’ SWITCHEROO.) This results in the very most insulting false depictions of ancient people as being dumber than modern people (not more unlearned: dumber)—somehow capable of believing, for example, that lightning is literally the scepter of a god even though it looks nothing remotely like a scepter and sometimes strikes in more than one place at once, or that a chariot literally pulls the sun even though one can never be seen.
Atheist’s catch-22: The tendency of many atheists to adhere to a stereotype about atheists in response to that same stereotype. This stereotype is that they’re all morally wretched: they get so angry about this that they resort to crude, childish, spiteful attitudes in response, often to the point of mockery (a massively popular hallmark of skepticism), and in doing so become morally wretched, and as such by attacking the stereotype they end up feeding it.
“Break it, don’t buy it” fallacy: The specific type of ad hominem attack countless millions of skeptics use as a reason to reject religion, that the atrocities, terrorism, crusades, etc. caused by breaking the rules of numerous religions somehow discredits the value or believability of the religions themselves. (You’d think that if anything, that would indicate the opposite.) This makes about as much sense as rejecting the Bill of Rights because of the Patriot Act that defies them in the name of the same country.
Coincidence-clustering bifurcation: The double standard many skeptics hold wherein if something extraordinary happens once or twice then it’s just a fluke, whereas if extraordinary things happens frequently then it’s due to the mathematical principle known as clustering. In other words, nothing can ever convince these skeptics since every possible situation is seen through its own respective presumption. They’ve left no way for anything ever to convince them that they’re wrong. When believers do this it’s called closed-minded blind faith; when skeptics do the same thing here it’s just seeing things scientifically. How about that? See also SCARBOROUGH EFFECT.
Consciousness: To the average non-soulist, somehow the same thing as the soul or equivalent to it in some way. They see consciousness as defining our being ourselves, our being “in there”, so to speak. For some strange reason it never occurs to them that people are themselves, fully “in there”, when dreaming, and we dream while we’re unconscious. Therefore the self and consciousness can’t be the same thing entirely—when we dream we’d be having a self while having no self. See also SELF.
The Ever-shifting Burden of Proof: The mysteriously changeful criterion for who should have the burden of proof in any discussion between skeptics and believers (for example, over the issue of God’s existence)—now it’s the person *introducing* the claim who has the burden of proof, now the person with the *extraordinary* claim, now the person with the *positive* claim—whatever is most convenient for the skeptic at the particular moment.
Freethinker: An irreligious atheist—after all, we open-minded people all know that no one who disagrees with you can possibly be capable of thinking freely.
God: To a skeptic, the word “God” means “whatever particular theory of what God happens to be like (not who He is) according to the prevailing, orthodox, mainstream ideas where the skeptic lives”. This is why “incompatible properties” arguments for God’s nonexistence never involve merely the basic denotation of “creator and ruler of the universe” that you’ll find in any dictionary (usually in those exact words), and also why so many atheists (many of them intelligent people with English as a first language) claim to disbelieve in God because the word doesn’t really mean anything.
Great Lie of Skepticism: “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Few die hard skeptics who ever say this and then see what seems to be a ghost/angel/whatever are likely to actually change their mind like they more or less promised they would. They’ll just keep on denying, saying that they were hallucinating, dreaming, having their senses play tricks on them, etc. Now of course they may very well be completely correct about that, but my point is not the accuracy or inaccuracy of such a conclusion but the dishonest, closed-minded double standard involved.
Identity crisis: The confusion materialists (in the philosophical sense of the word “materialism”) always make between what something is made of, or how it works, and what it *is*. Without this confusion, materialism probably wouldn’t even be a possible belief.
“Knowledge is power” fallacy: Perhaps the single most irrational argument in the history of human beings, the idea that God either doesn’t exist or isn’t good because He knows what’s going to happen before it happens and therefore nobody is free to do anything else. Why should foreknowledge of another person’s choice (assuming that God goes from one moment to the next along with us in the first place, which is improbable) cancel its being a choice at all? Foreknowledge does not equal causation. We know that the people around us are going to die someday: that does not make us murderers. If we went back in time and watched
Lincolngive the address, it would not qualify us as his speechwriters. We all know that the sun will rise tomorrow: that does not mean we’re making it happen. How do intelligent people ever fall into this nonsense?! But then there I go, sounding like a skeptic. Gettysburg
“Lack of belief”: An almost comically nonsensical and incoherent phrase used by many atheists as a redefinition of atheism for their own convenient purposes. Flies in the face of every English dictionary ever printed in the history of planet earth. Is never explained precisely, but apparently refers to nonbelief as opposed to disbelief. For example, the atheists ask, wouldn’t someone who’s never heard of God be an atheist? The answer is clearly and undeniably “no”, since the official definition of “atheism”, used universally by all but these select few atheists (even by most other atheists, from what I understand) is someone who has heard of God and disbelieves in Him. “So what do you call people who have never heard of God?” the label-obsessed people ask? Call me crazy, but how about “people who have never heard of God”?
Mind-reading contradiction: The idea that skeptics hold who profess disbelieve in mind-reading yet nevertheless are themselves capable of reading the minds of believers, knowing impossibly all the supposedly psychological reasons for our belief even if they don’t know us at all. The way I see it: either mind-reading is possible, or it isn’t. If it is, I see no reason why prejudiced pseudo-Freudian skeptics should have a monopoly on it.
Mythicism: The disbelief that Jesus (P) never existed, invariably based on the supposed lack of definitive historical evidence for his existence. The problem here is that history up until the invention of recording devices in the nineteenth century is a huge heap of guesswork for modern people, and so very little of it (if anything) can really be known with a tenth the surety everyone blindly assumes exists. Were the mythicists consistent with their logic, they would disbelieve not only in the existence of Jesus (P) but also about half of the people they ever heard about in history class from grade school through college.
Obsolete: In reference to arguments for God’s existence, this means “rebutted at any time by any disbeliever at any point in history, however poorly, illogically or incompletely”. You can imagine how angry the skeptics would get if we believers flipped it around and said the same thing in reference to their own arguments.
The Old Switcheroo: Replacing the ancient meaningless labels like “the action of spirits” which once “explained” why the universe works the way it is with more modern meaningless labels like “the forces of nature” and saying that we’ve now “explained” what people previously thought was something else. One may as well take something people once “explained” by dubbing it ickywicky and “explain” it by calling it glooberflek instead.
Organized religion: Bizarre redundancy used with enormous frequency by skeptics despite the fact that, just by definition, there could never possibly be any such thing as a disorganized religion.
Razor reverence: Blind, more or less religious faith in Occam’s Razor, a general rule that works best as a last resort rather than what many skeptics think it is, which is a near-absolute rule almost along the lines of a law of nature. One more excuse for not having to accept the complexity of life, perhaps: people of all stripes seem to have a problem with that.
Religion: As skeptics define it: “Whatever religion is the prevailing one where the skeptic speaking lives, because of course no other religions exist in the world”. Western skeptical writers judge all religions by Christianity; those in Islamic countries regard Islam as if its beliefs are the same as all religious beliefs; and so on. Prime examples of this nonsense are H.P. Lovecraft’s charge that his problem with “religion” is the idea of a God of everything caring enough about a cosmic flyspeck to send His only son to redeem it (for as we all know, every religion throughout history has taught just that) and Richard Carrier by his own confession declaring, “Yep, I’m an atheist,” after finishing the Bible (for as we all know, it’s impossible to believe in God without believing in the Bible).
Santa lag: The feeling of weariness and vague nausea a theist gets after approximately the 9,000th time hearing an atheist who thinks he’s real cute compare the existence of God to the existence of Santa Claus—an analogy that’s as inaccurate as it is insulting, since Santa Claus is a deliberate lie which the people teaching it never believe in.
ScarboroughEffect: Believing that God/the afterlife/ghosts/entrail reading/whatever aren’t real because there is no scientific evidence for their existence. Since these things are by definition supernatural and therefore outside what science can detect, what this attitude boils down to is, “Because there is no scientific evidence for its existence, we disbelieve in this thing that could never yield scientific evidence even if it were to exist since it is supposed to be outside the parameters of science.” One may as well conclude that Mexico Citydoesn’t exist because one can’t find it anywhere in . I named this principle after the song “Are You Going to Scarborough Fair?” in which a series of impossible-to-meet criteria are given as the only way for the narrator of the song to be persuaded of something. See also COINCIDENCE-CLUSTERING BIFURCATION. Australia
Scarecrow Syndrome: The stereotype many skeptics hold that no other reasons (even incorrect ones) for religious belief of any kind, or even belief in the existence of God, are possible except intuitive or emotional ones. Apparently we believers are incapable even of false logic; nothing could ever motivate us but our hearts. Similar to the belief many Bible-bangers have that no one can reject Christianity for any reason except some wicked, selfish desire as opposed to disagreement that the religion’s doctrines appear to be true or even believable. I named this principle so not only because of the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz who had a heart but no brain, but also because the syndrome I’m speaking of here is a form of “straw man” argument. See also MIND-READING CONTRADICTION.
Self: To most non-soulists, the same thing as self-awareness. Since when does someone have to be aware of something in order for it to exist?? See also CONSCIOUSNESS.
Superstition: To a skeptic, any belief in anything whatsoever that’s supernatural or paranormal, however ill fitting a label “superstition” may be to the belief in question even from a disbelieving point of view for anyone who knows what the word “superstition” means.
In response to a claim that creationism and ID are unfalsifiable and therefore “not science”, I left the below comment. I though I would post it here as well:
The Designer is not falsifiable per se (I’ll agree). However, creationism makes falsifiable claims. There is more to creationism than “God created the heavens and earth.” When you say that creationism is “not falsifiable”, it comes off (on my end) as a blanket statement. I see it all the time. “Creationism is not falsifiable” on the one hand, but on the other “creationism is demonstrably false” It sounds schizophrenic (CS is simultaneously unfalsifiable and falsified).
Creationism is filled with assumptions that can be tested. However, on both sides of the fence, there are theories that are abstract; they are general concepts that by no means be tested directly. Moreover, only predictions about the physical world which can be drawn from the theory can actually be subjected to test or experimentation. This puts God out of the field of testability and thus He is un-falsifiable in relation to direct scientific detection.
Another thing is that falsification seems to be inappropriately used as this transcendent line of demarcation. However, scientific theories are typically integrated into a much larger framework of presuppositions (via philosophical) and assumptions that not only entice conclusions, but ultimate characteristics of any given theory.
Evolution has its issues as well. When all else fails, evolutionist appeal to the unknown, and even unknowable naturalistic causes that science has not yet discovered, and in reality may never discover.
However, if I may note, saying that creationism is “not science” is used as more of a type of ad hom toward creationism and a semantic smokescreen that tends to demote it’s merits before even engaging the issue. It’s a sneaky way to poison the well. In addition, if creationism can't be falsified, then no possible fact or event could count as evidence against creationism. It would follow, then, that Darwinian evolution does not falsify creationism. However, they make contradictory claims.
Take for example Intelligent Design Theory. ID theorists propose that some features of biological organisms are irreducibly complex; Darwinists (in the complete naturalistic sense), however, deny that any are irreducibly complex. Ipso facto, this contradistinction alone denotes that ID theory can be falsifiable by showing X biological organism are not irreducibly complex. Darwinists contend that there are no irreducibly complex organisms and thus ID’s claim is false. However, if that claim is false, then it is falsifiable; therefore, if ID theorists propose what is possibly a false claim, it is open to falsification. Thus, evidence for Darwinism is evidence against creationism and ID theory and evidence for creation or ID theory is evidence against Darwinism.
We have falsifiable propositions either way, thus, we have theories that are open to falsification.
Not only do we only know God through Jesus Christ, but we only know ourselves through Jesus Christ; we only know life and death through Jesus Christ. Apart from Jesus Christ we cannot know the meaning of our life or our death, of God or of ourselves. Thus without Scripture, whose only object is Christ, we know nothing and can see nothing but obscurity and confusion in the nature of God and in nature itself (Pensees, 417).
Not only do we only know God through Jesus Christ, but we only know ourselves through Jesus Christ; we only know life and death through Jesus Christ. Apart from Jesus Christ we cannot know the meaning of our life or our death, of God or of ourselves. Thus without Scripture, whose only object is Christ, we know nothing and can see nothing but obscurity and confusion in the nature of God and in nature itself (Pensees, 417).
If we’re convinced that we are just matter in motion, one physical compilation of meat trapped in a bag thickly coated in various skin types, arisen from miraculous spontaneity of happenstance—what meaning can there be outside of utter nihilism?
Under self reflection, there is this ineffable sense of meaning, purpose and reason why we are here. Is this sense a byproduct of delusion? Are all things in vain? “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Or can there really be meaning when God is not in the equation? This is a very difficult and disquieting question if it’s taken seriously.
The question at hand is not something to take lightly, nor are the conclusions inconsequential. One must take an honest look at their own worldview and take it to its logical conclusion. Does a naturalistic worldview provide meaning? Some argue that God is not required for meaning. However, can they provide a satisfactory answer, or are they deceiving themselves? William Vallicella articulates the road to self-deception and nihilism as follows:
If death is the utter annihilation of the individual person, then life is ultimately senseless and ultimately hopeless. This cannot be evaded by saying that one's life can acquire meaning if it is placed in the service of the lives of others. For their lives too (and the lives of their progeny and their progeny's progeny ad indefinitum) are, on the annihilationist assumption, ultimately senseless and hopeless. Human life is in every case the life of an individual; so even if human beings existed at all times, that would do nothing to insure ultimate meaningfulness.
Of course, there are proximate meanings, hopes, and purposes even if ultimately it is "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." One can lose oneself in them. But to do so involves self-deception: one has to mistake the proximate for the ultimate. One has to burden fleeting concerns with a meaning they cannot bear. One has to fool oneself.
For example, one has to fool oneself that writing a book, starting a company, founding a family are all ultimately meaningful when the only way they could have any ultimate meaning is if they were part of a life that had a direction that wasn't about to be cut short in a few years.
To put it bluntly, we have no future if naturalism is true. But we cannot live without meaning. An existential trilemma looms. Either we cultivate self-deception by ascribing to fleeting concerns ultimate meaning, or we recognize their transiency and ultimate meaninglessness when considered in and of themselves and put our faith and hope in a transcendent meaning, or, avoiding both self-deception and the life of faith, we embrace nihilism.
Or consider the white flag swayed by Quentin Smith at the end of his article Moral Realism and Infinite Spacetime Imply Moral Nihilism:
I do not believe my theory differs very much from that of many or most people. There is a sense that my life, actions and consequences of actions amount to nothing when I am considering the value of an infinite universe. Our emotional responses to acts or states of affairs we believe have positive or negative value occur when we are narrowly focused on “the here and now”, on the people we interact with or know about, ourselves, and the animals, plants and material things that surround us in our daily lives. In our daily lives, we believe actions are good or bad and that individuals have rights. These beliefs are false, but we know this only on the occasions when we engage in second order beliefs about our everyday beliefs and view our everyday beliefs from the perspective of infinity. Most of the time, we live in an illusion of meaningfulness and only sometimes, when we are philosophically reflective, are we aware of reality and the meaninglessness of our lives. It seems obvious that this has a genetic basis, due to Darwinian laws of evolution. In order to survive and reproduce, it must seem to us most of the time that our actions are not futile, that people have rights. The rare occasions in which we know the truth about life are genetically prevented from overriding living our daily lives with the illusion that they are meaningful. As I progress through this paper, I have the illusion that my efforts are not utterly futile, but right now, as I stop and reflect, I realize that any further effort put into this paper is a futile expenditure of my energy.
Even Bertrand Russell could not avoid his own brutal conclusion:
Such, in outline, but even more purposeless, more void of meaning, is the world which Science presents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home. That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man's achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins -- all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul's habitation henceforth be safely built.
All this is rather depressing, but a gloomy and dismal existence doesn’t falsify naturalism. The naturalist, however, is forced to take a short view of meaning in order to escape the imprisonment of these dreaded implications. Finding meaning becomes the here and now; it’s the plate in front of me; and the burial of ultimate hope. Even if the naturalist is right, what does it matter? What does it matter to me if the species survives? What does it matter to me that others starve? What does it matter to me that he or she is raped? What does it matter to me if the sky falls? What does it matter to that bodies burn? What does it matter to me that possessions are stolen? What does it matter to me that laws are broken? What does it matter to me that I am right and you are wrong?
Why should I not just “get mine?” And why do I care about anyone else who gets trampled along the way? Is there anything outside of subjectivity or nihilism that I can appeal to? Can blind processes fool me into thinking that it matters?
It seems to me then, that there is no satisfaction to be found in annihilation and a naturalistic worldview leads to meaninglessness and despair. We desperately cling to this rock we call earth as it swiftly rotates around our insignificant sun that is barely a speck of dust in the universe. We hold on as if something is awaiting, but we will fade away and the universe shall never notice. We can sink our fingers into society and make it a better place before we turn to dust, but as our carcasses disintegrate, society will perish as well. When the cycle of nature destroys all, it won’t matter if you cared for people or ate them; the universe could care less.
Finding meaning in a framework of blind causes is self delusion. And those who blindly clench their eyes closed and hold on to purpose are disconnected to the reality of their beliefs. William Lane Craig frames the inconsistency as follows:
First, the area of meaning. We saw that without God, life has no meaning. Yet philosophers continue to live as though life does have meaning. For example, Sartre argued that one may create meaning for his life by freely choosing to follow a certain course of action. Sartre himself chose Marxism.
Now this is utterly inconsistent. It is inconsistent to say life is objectively absurd and then to say one may create meaning for his life. If life is really absurd, then man is trapped in the lower story. To try to create meaning in life represents a leap to the upper story. But Sartre has no basis for this leap. Without God, there can be no objective meaning in life. Sartre’s program is actually an exercise in self-delusion. For the universe does not really acquire meaning just because I give it one. This is easy to see: for suppose I give the universe one meaning, and you give it another. Who is right? The answer, of course, is neither one. For the universe without God remains objectively meaningless, no matter how we regard it. Sartre is really saying, “Let’s pretend the universe has meaning.” And this is just fooling ourselves.
The point is this: if God does not exist, then life is objectively meaningless; but man cannot live consistently and happily knowing that life is meaningless; so in order to be happy he pretends life has meaning. But this is, of course, entirely inconsistent–for without God, man and the universe are without any real significance.
I often wonder why some affirm the dogmatism of materialism, and then act as if there is some ultimate justice, as if they themselves had a right to freedom and the pursuit of happiness. The universe does not offer this. There is no contract, there is no guidance; only material on a path to destruction.
However, even though the universe does not know you; God does. What we do in our lives today has an eternal effect. There is such a thing as meaning in life; that ineffable sense of meaning, purpose and reason why we are here, was written on your heart by God (Rom. 2: 15). For if there were nothing lasting longer than you; then meaning would not follow you.
It comes down to a choice in true Pascallian fashion: one can embrace the inevitable outcome of their worldview—despair, or we can follow that innate desire within ourselves that only God can satisfy.
"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." — C.S. Lewis
For whatever reason, some people are ‘hell bent’ on creating this false tension between what they call “religion” and science. Take this video for example:
Here is my observation:
- From the outset, the speaker already disclosed his “dislike” of all religions. One can only guess where his conclusions follow.
- The speaker never defines what he means by “religion.” He seems to want to muddle up all religions into one class of bogus beliefs. This, however, is problematic, since diverse religions approach science differently.
- The speaker asserts that science and religion are not compatible. What are his reasons, you ask? See bellow:
- The speaker states that the problem is that “People don’t understand what science is.” He goes on to enlighten us of what science “really” is (and all this time I thought I knew!). The speaker states: “The point of science is really that we can never know absolute truth.” A couple problems (a) This is a self refuting statement. Is it absolutely true that science is really that we can never know absolute truth? (b) That’s not what science intends to do. To the contrary, science helps us to understand reality and how things work in the world, and the universe. Moreover, science rests on the presupposition that there is truth and that their conclusions are reliable.
- The speaker states that we can never say that “This is correct.” However, he is stating that he is correct is concluding that science and religion are irreconcilable. Thus, his whole polemic on the incompatibility of science and religion falls apart based on his denial on truth. In making his point about us not being able to state “this is correct”; then we can’t state it’s correct that science and religion are incompatible. In making his point, he refutes himself.
- He does make a good point about science consistently correcting itself. However, we don’t have to worry about how gravity may all be wrong. Just because some theories are later corrected, it doesn’t follow that all scientific theories are wrong or will change. To the contrary, science is becoming more precise, even though it’s still self correcting today. Many of the today’s theories are reaffirming yesterday’s hypotheses, rather than overturning them. Though, there are several today, that may be corrected in the future.
- Following his polemic, he goes on to state that science can disprove religion conclusively (go figure), but the religious people will believe anyway! So as we see, first he asserts that (a) science shows us we can’t know truth (b) science is constantly changing and we can’t be sure about everything; however, when it comes to religion, (c) he says that science can show it to be “conclusively” wrong. I will give him the Twinkie defense if he wants it.
- His conclusion: Science and Religion are incompatible because Religion holds that there are absolutes truths vs, Science which demonstrates that there is no absolute truth. And that is the absolute truth! Again, this is self refuting. Nevertheless, it was interesting.
- On the last note, I want to state that there is no controversy of Science vs. Religion (that’s and ‘apples vs. oranges’ scenario). This is a false dilemma. If there is a conflict, it’s Science vs. Science. When it comes to Christianity, the Bible teaches how to get to the heavens, but not how the heavens go (Galileo). There is often a sub-par conflict artificially fashioned between the Bible and Science, but if there is any tension, it’s between science and theology. There is a big difference.
One thing the guy has going for himself is some cool hair and an accent to go with it. Nevertheless, he needs to ascertain what he is stating without chopping his own head off.
When I started my blogger account I thought it was going to be a breeze. Just fill in a small form and in seconds you have your own blog. However, one question on the form stumped me: on the Display Name: it stated, “Required: The name used to sign your blog posts.” To my horror, it occurred to me that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to use my real name. There isn’t any specific reason why I cannot per se; but I have a somewhat uninteresting name. I decided that I was going to use a pseudo name. However, making a decision was difficult. Pseudonyms can have various meanings, interpretations and connotations. I had not given it enough thought. Like an impulsive superhero using a bead spread for a cape, in the heat of the moment, I chose the moniker “Brain Fry.” To my demise though, some people took too much poetic license with it. Rather than focus on what I was stating, they focused on my moniker. In addition, I noticed that, due to our natural human condition of ‘typing lethargy’; Brain Fry was frequently gutted down to ‘BF.’ Thus, I just chopped it down to its applied acronym.
However, apparently “BF” can be an acronym for several different connotations (I will let you use your imagination). Some have chosen to make the inference known. Moreover, I have grown bored with my current moniker. I was considering unmasking your phantom blogger, but I thought I might give one more try. I came up with Beowulf.
There is nothing particularly special about the name; nothing that has some story behind it to link to me. Even the epic poem doesn’t have special ring to it other than some Christian connotations. In short, I just chose it; I don’t know why and I reserve the right to change it again. Nevertheless, it’s changed.
As everyone is aware, ‘typing lethargy’ demands condensing of the name. Thus, if you wish, you can refer to me as “wulf”, not to be mistaken as wolf!
File your complaints accordingly
I am not particularly fond of divorcing the arguments against same-sex marriage from the Biblical standpoint. My position is that the Bible offers the most authoritative refutation of same-sex marriage as a direct revelation from God. However, there is a case against same-sex marriage that does not depend on Biblical passages. In fact, Frank Turek Offers an argument against same-sex marriage without using a single Bible verse. He presents his case first in summary and fields the common objections. Following, he goes further in depth to substantiate his argument with substantive data and analysis to support his premises. I think Turek’s argument stands or falls on his referenced studies. Given contemporary division on the subject, some may be able to counter his data with new or more reliable data that undercuts his premise that same-sex marriage is detrimental to society. Nevertheless, he offers precise counters to the common objections to notion itself that deserves a reading.
If anyone likes to be trapped in a box, I recommend joining the ranks of postmodernism (post-mo). J.P. Moreland defines post-mo in Truth, Contemporary Philosophy, and the Postmodern Turn as:
“As a philosophical standpoint, postmodernism is primarily a reinterpretation of what knowledge is and what counts as knowledge. More broadly, it represents a form of cultural relativism about such things as reality, truth, reason, value, linguistic meaning, the self and other notions. On a postmodernist view, there is no such thing as objective reality, truth, value, reason and so forth. All these are social constructions, creations of linguistic practices and, as such, are relative not to individuals, but to social groups that share a narrative.”
If anything were to tear down a foundation, post-mo does it like no other. I often hear Christians engage postmodern thinkers in the Church through “dialogues.” However, this seems to have been, at least thus far, unproductive. Postmodernism seems to box a person into their own language construct. All values, concepts and meaning are created through your esoteric community, which you cannot escape. This invisible barrier of social deterministic structure and language confine you from other communities; nothing can be communicated in a meaningful way. What’s interesting though is that the post-mo wants us to understand this, as if there is a secret trap door that only they can crawl through and correct you when you’re wrong. But they do this because people, in reality, don't act as if post-mo is true; it’s just lip service.
J.P Moreland has expressed his strong opposition toward post-mo. He states that “[N]ot only are postmodern views of truth and knowledge confused, but postmodernism is an immoral and cowardly viewpoint such that persons who love truth and knowledge, especially disciples of the Lord Jesus, should do everything they can to heal the plague that postmodernism has and inevitably does leave” (Ibid). Now those are strong words, but I think within the context Christianity, Scripture and meaning, he has warrant for intense concern. Post-mo philosophers and theologians; however, fancy their language penitentiary view enough argue in volumes of books in attempt to persuade people outside their ‘community’. Hence, on its face, post-mos’ in action seems self-referentially incoherent.
I particularly like the way Plantinga articulates post-mo as a position with out any real substance:
As we are often told nowadays, we live in a postmodern era; and postmodernists pride themselves on rejecting the classical foundationalism that we all learned at our mother's knee. Classical foundationalism has enjoyed a hegemony, a near consensus in the West from the Enlightenment to the very recent past. And according to the classical foundationalist, our beliefs, at least when properly founded, are objective in a double sense. The first sense is a Kantian sense; what is objective in this sense is what is not merely subjective, and what is subjective is what is private or peculiar to just some persons. According to classical foundationalism, well-founded belief is objective in this sense; at least in principle, any properly functioning human beings who think together about a disputed question with care and good will, can be expected to come to an agreement. Well-founded belief is objective in another sense as well: it has to do with, is successfully aimed at, objects, things, things in themselves, to borrow a phrase. Well-founded belief is often or unusually adequate to the thing; it has an adequatio ad rem. There are horses, in the world, and my thought of a given horse is indeed a thought of that horse. Furthermore, it is adequate to the horse, in the sense that the properties I take the horse to have are properties it really has. That it has those properties - the ones I take it to have - furthermore, does not depend upon me or upon how I think of it: the horse has those properties on its own account, independent of me or anyone else. My thought and belief is therefore objective in that it is centered upon an object independent of me; it is not directed to something I, as a subject, have construed or in some other way created.
Now what is characteristic of much postmodern thought is the rejection of objectivity in this second sense - often in the name of rejecting objectivity in the first sense. The typical argument for postmodern relativism leaps lightly from the claim that there is no objectivity of the first sort, to the claim that there is none of the second. As you have no doubt noticed, this is a whopping non sequitur; that hasn't curbed its popularity in the least. Classical foundationalism, so the argument runs, has failed: we now see that there is no rational procedure guaranteed to settle all disputes among people of good will; we do not necessarily share starting points for thought, together with forms of argument that are sufficient to settle all differences of opinion. That's the premise. The conclusion is that therefore we can't really think about objects independent of us, but only about something else, perhaps constructs we ourselves have brought into being. Put thus baldly, the argument does not inspire confidence; but even if we put it less baldly, is there really anything of substance here? In any event, by this route too we arrive at the thought that there isn't any such thing as truth that is independent of us and our thoughts. The idea seems to be that objectivity in the first, Kantian sense, necessarily goes with objectivity in the second, external sense, so that if our thought isn't objective in the first sense, then it isn't objective in the second sense either. And what has happened within at least some of so-called postmodernisms is that the quite proper rejection of the one - a rejection that would of course have received the enthusiastic support of Kuyper and Dooyeweerd - has been confused with the rejection, the demise of the other - an idea that Kuyper and Dooyweerd would have utterly rejected.
Alvin Plantinga, "Christian Philosophy at the End of the Twentieth Century," The Analytic Theist: An Alvin Plantinga Reader, pp. 332-334
As time passes though, it is my impromptu suspicion that the post-mo pendulum will fade back into the oblivion of ideas that arise on the pendulum, but swing right back away-- or --for the sake of Christians, at least down to the depths outside the veil of value.