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Plantinga makes astonishing statement
Posted: 25 December 2012 06:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Dom1978 - 25 December 2012 05:59 AM

... even though you claim to have been de-converted through philosophy ...

question

No, I never claimed to have been de-converted through philosophy. I grew up in a non-theistic family and have never been a theist of any kind. What happened is that before taking philosophy of religion I considered myself an agnostic. Afterwards, I realized that it was more accurate to call myself an atheist.

Dom1978 - 25 December 2012 05:59 AM

I believe that most people are far more likely to reject their religion for other reasons. The main one is that we can see that there are many different religions, all having very similar myths, stories, social institutions, miracle claims, rituals, and all the rest of it. These sociological and historical considerations are going to be far more powerful than things like the problem of evil. It’s always going to be possible for some smart religious person to come up with ingenious philosophical arguments for why God allows this or that to happen, but the evidence from history and the social sciences just stares us straight in the face, and it becomes obvious that all religions are human creations. Given all of this evidence, there’s no need to bother worrying about cosmological or ontological arguments. I guess this is why people like Dennett want children to be taught about all the religions of the world, but they wouldn’t think it worthwhile to teach kids POR. Philosophy can still be useful for attacking specific religious doctrines like heaven/hell and the atonement, though.

Sure. No disagreement there. History of the Bible and of religions is a potent mechanism for taking apart religious dogmas. But some people are interested in the more theoretical bits, and they may be best approached through a more philosophical technique.

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Posted: 25 December 2012 07:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Dom,

Philosophy is way too underrated and given a bad rap. It is not intended to be ‘abstract’ as though it is obscure and trivial. In fact its function is to be concrete and exacting. It is the foundation of all learning but has been abandoned in many educational circles due to the very fact that it encourages thinking and questioning which usually threatens the status of many people’s goals, whether it is economical, political, personal, or religious. A PHD is a philosophic degree in a particular area. It should remind us that any philosophy is really an in depth study of something. Religion as such, is important because it is so pervasive and relevant to everyone due to the effects it has on people’s minds. Plantinga and Dawkins are both philosophers of religion. The only difference is their audience and the methods they use to communicate. But the audiences become participants of the philosophy by merely listening and comprehending. So I think it would be wiser to have a society that was educated in the logic, rhetoric, and the common terms and arguments of religion in order to be able to be fairly informed and capable of adequate judgements.

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Posted: 25 December 2012 05:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Sorry Doug. For some reason I’d got it into my head that you had been a Christian at one point. 

Now, let me give you an example of what I hate most about POR. Atheist philosophers will say there’s no way that an all-loving and all-powerful God created this world with all its evil and suffering. Sinwburne and Plantinga will then respond by saying that despite appearances this could actually be the best of all possible worlds. If God had made a world with less suffering, then you always would have had less freedom and less aesthetic beauty. We live in a world where our actions have real consequences, where we can really help or harm people, and where what we do matters.

That example is pretty typical of POR. You get to a point where my intuitions tell me this and his intuitions tell him that, and you just can’t make any progress. Of course, philosophers will say we can make progress using things like probability theory, modal logic, and possible worlds, but as far as I can see it all comes down to people having different intuitions about questions that we probably shouldn’t be talking about in the first place. Even if it is possible that this world was created by an all-powerful and all-loving God, so what? What we want to know is whether the Bible is divinely inspired or whether it’s ‘human all too human’.

Time after time, philosophers of religion dodge the important questions. Bob price recently commented on the Bible Geek that he is now on William Lane Craig’s blacklist. This doesn’t surprise me at all. Craig is perfectly happy discussing the cosmological argument with philosophers, but he gets extremely uncomfortable when Price starts asking him how he can be sure that the Bible is divinely inspired and that the church fathers left out the right books. He really doesn’t want to go there.

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Posted: 25 December 2012 06:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Dom1978 - 25 December 2012 05:33 PM

Sorry Doug. For some reason I’d got it into my head that you had been a Christian at one point. 

No worries.

Dom1978 - 25 December 2012 05:33 PM

That example is pretty typical of POR. You get to a point where my intuitions tell me this and his intuitions tell him that, and you just can’t make any progress…. What we want to know is whether the Bible is divinely inspired or whether it’s ‘human all too human’.

But here’s the thing: eventually it all gets down to intuitions. If you start doing Biblical history you will find that there are well-schooled equivalents to Plantinga in the history departments, who say that though the Bible may not be literally true in every jot and tittle, nevertheless it was divinely inspired and the miracles (at least, the important ones) really happened.

If someone tells you that their study doesn’t get down to intuitions, you will know that they have a number of intuitions which they have left conveniently unquestioned. The difference here is that it’s hard to get away with that in the context of a philosophy discussion. It can be easier in other contexts.

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Posted: 26 December 2012 02:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Unfortunately, the whole proposition is, at this point in time, untestable. As such, especially given the evidence of myth taken from earlier myth (like Noah), the internal contradictions, and the various singular events that went on without witness, it looks like something somebody made up after the fact.

Do I have an evidence for that? Obviously not. Do I see any evidence whatsoever for a Christian god? No.  There is at least as extensive literary support for various Indian Subcontinent myths, Norse, Celtic, Finnish, Hungarian, Russian and so on, all different, but with the common theme of encouraging behaviors that ensure the survival of the tribe in pre-medical, pre-technical, pre-government times.

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Posted: 26 December 2012 05:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Doug, I guess it’s the particular way that philosophers of religion use intuitions that bothers me. On the one hand, you have someone sitting in their armchair and using their intuitions to try to figure out what sort of universe they would create if they existed outside time and if they were all knowing and all powerful. On the other hand, you have someone who has studied all of the different religions of the world in depth and has come to the conclusion that it’s just no longer plausible to say that my religion is true and all the others are false. Both people are using their intuitions here, but I would only criticize the first person.

The Christian philosophers I’m talking about here don’t know much about other religious traditions, and this is only to be expected. An evangelical Christian is not going to waste time studying the myths and holy texts of other cultures. They’re only here for a short time, and they have to spread the gospel and save souls. The sad thing, though, is that philosophy is not a threat to them. Craig freely admits that he accepts the dogma of biblical infallibility, and he knows that no philosopher will ever challenge him on this. And so he and atheist philosophers can go on discussing the cosmological argument and the objectivity of morals all day long, and his evangelical Christianity will never be threatened in the slightest. This is why it’s so refreshing to see Maitzen going after the things that evangelical Christians actually believe, rather than just going on about pointless abstract things. Thomas Nagel’s essay ‘The Absurd’ is also a serious threat to evangelical Christianity, as it shows how the very idea of ultimate purpose/meaning in life is incoherent. But again, Christian philosophers just do not want to talk about this. They want to stay in their comfort zone of discussing whether some abstract perfect super being might possibly exist. The really absurd thing is that this God is not even the God of the Bible anyway!

[ Edited: 26 December 2012 05:47 PM by Dom1978 ]
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Posted: 26 December 2012 11:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Dom1978 - 17 December 2012 06:30 AM

Doug, he does talk a little bit here about why he’s a Christian. Basically, he just says that the Christian story is the most beautiful story he’s ever heard, and that Christianity simply feels right and has the ring of truth to it. Also, he seems to think that religious beliefs are innocent until proven guilty, so that he is perfectly rational to go on believing these things unless someone can come along and show him that these beliefs are logically impossible. But the point is that the Muslim or the Mormon could say exactly the same thing. What we want to know here is why Plantinga thinks that his beliefs are more likely to be true than those of the Muslim or the Mormon, and he just doesn’t want to deal with that.

It’s obvious then, that he had never read it. He just ‘hears’ the story pieced together to make a coherent narrative, because if you actually read the bible there is not ‘one’ story, but several.

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Posted: 27 December 2012 01:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Dom1978 - 23 December 2012 10:43 PM

I must admit, I have changed my mind a little bit about the philosophy of religion. I used to think it was complete rubbish and a total waste of time. I now think that it can be of some use so long as it is used to criticize specific religions and it takes into account all of the evidence that’s been gathered from other disciplines. There is something absurd about a situation where you have atheist and Christian philosophers sitting in their armchairs and trying to use reason to argue about the truth of Christianity.

Just reading back,

Is it important that it be true?  If the practice of any (all) religions works, how would you know which were true or false?  Does it matter?
If it were false but not destructive, no harm done. But in reality this is not the case, in fact belief and belonging to a religion has become an extremely contentious and dangerous way of finding “peace within and without”.

But I personally have no problem with the secular values contained in christian teachings.  It is when words like “Truth” and “The Way” are mentioned that I become uncomfortable.

[ Edited: 27 December 2012 01:18 AM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 27 December 2012 06:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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But I personally have no problem with the secular values contained in christian teachings.  It is when words like “Truth” and “The Way” are mentioned that I become uncomfortable.


Just as a point of clarification Write, what secular values are you referring to (to which secular values are you referring, for you grammarians)? love thy neighbor? I completely agree with the “truth” and “the way” reference.

 

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Posted: 27 December 2012 07:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Write4u, I think it matters to most of us whether Christianity is true or not. We’d like to know whether prayer works, whether miracles happen, whether the Bible is a magic book, and whether there’s an afterlife. Even if you feel really happy being a Christian now, in the future when people look back on your life, they’re going to laugh about all of the ridiculous things that you claimed to be certain about, and so your life will be less good. I guess I’m agreeing with Aristotle here that a good life is about much more than just subjective happiness in the here and now. 

I think my main problem here is with philosophy, and with what’s it’s become. Today professional philosophy is a very technical discipline mainly having to do with logic. To be a good philosopher in this sense is just to be good at writing in a certain way. You’re supposed to be very clear and precise at all times, and to use all the philosophical jargon like necessary/sufficient conditions. If we understand philosophy in this way, then it’s certainly possible for a fundamentalist Christian to be a good philosopher, and indeed these people now seem to dominate the sub-disipline known as philosophy of religion. 

However, if we understand philosophy as the love of wisdom, as the genuinely open-minded search for the truth, no matter what that may turn out to be, then fundamentalist Christians should have no place in philosophy, since they already know the truth and are only interested in trying to think of ever fancier ways of doing apologetics. A philosopher in this second sense would be a wise person, someone who knows a lot about all the sciences, and someone who would be interested in trying to understand this universe and who we are.

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Posted: 27 December 2012 04:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Is it important that it be true? 

Yes. If it’s true, it matters quite a bit. All that hellfire and damnation and whatnot.

If it isn’t…and I have no reason to believe that it is…then it’s all just another scam where the clergy is picking your pocket under colour of divine authority.

For whatever it’s worth, if God(s) exist, then surely s/he has much better things to do then become obsessive compulsive about whether or not we’re married to somebody we’re having sex with.

And since when does supposed “Omnipotance” need money?????

Overall, with religion, I grok a wrongness.

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