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8 comments | Thursday, December 14, 2006

This video is jaw dropping. Watch the whole thing, the last thirty seconds will floor you. My only thought is that this cant be real. *wow*

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2 comments | Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Well, some unbelievers certainly act like it. Christianity is often relegated to the status of belief in leprechauns, fairies and Santa clause or the flying spaghetti monster. Some skeptics insist on making these comparisons as though the very consideration of theism were an intellectual crime. A little more logic and a little more self education, we are told, will solve our God delusions. All we need is more science,…..science, science, science!!!

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.

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