Friday, January 3, 2014

A Manual for Creating Atheists: Anti-Anti-Apologetics 101 (Part II)

This post should be much shorter because some of the defenses that Boghossian points to really are insufficient and not ones that I would use or teach others to use.

4. My faith is true for me.

This would be one of those defenses that really does not amount to a defense. My advice to Christians is not to use it. If your faith is true, it is true for everyone, not just you.

5. Science can’t explain quantum mechanics.

Boghossian sees this defense as an attempt to undermine reason. His response may reveal a certain level of discomfort. There is no question but that science nor human reason do not have all the answers and are not omniscient. It is for that fact alone that a wise move would be not to rule out ontological or epistemological possibilities on the basis of imperfect processes for discovering truth. Yet, Boghossian does just that. So much for doxastic openness.

6. You have faith in science.

Boghossian says, “Science is the antithesis of faith.” But that is only true if one accepts Boghossian’s attempt to redefine faith. I have already said from the perspective of Christian theism that his attempt fails. There are a number of testimonies from science that Boghossian accepts on the basis of testimony. We all do. Is it reasonable to conduct our own scientific investigation into the claims of science before we accept them as fact? Does not the scientist have an amazing faith in the uniformity and laws of nature? Is the scientist not confident that the law will remain in force, providing the necessary conditions to carry on with her research? And at the same time, has any science been discovered that provides proof for why the laws of nature are what they are? It is simply beyond the ability of science to account for this uniformity. It results in an infinite regress of tests so that the end is never discovered. Faith is unavoidable, even in science. The same is true for reason. What would reason be without laws of logic? Yet, these laws, immaterial in nature, are affirmed and assumed with the greatest of confidence. No one can account for them. They cannot be accounted for logically or empirically. Faith is unavoidable, even for the rationalist.

7. You have faith your partner loves you.

Regardless of Boghossian’s argument here, believing your partner loves you is always a belief based on faith not evidence. Every act of a partner that we interpret as love could be interpreted as one of manipulation. Our choice to interpret it as love is a choice of faith. There is no evidence for love, really, apart from faith. If you have ever been on the wrong end of betrayal, you know this all too well.

8. My faith is beneficial for me.

Boghossian resorts to the folly of introducing the Taliban into this part of the discussion. What a foolish response! Evidence from over 1,200 studies and 400 reviews has shown an association between faith and a number of positive health benefits, including protection from illness, coping with illness, and faster recovery from it. Of the studies reviewed in the definitive analysis, (3) 81% showed benefit and only 4% harm.
In the popular imagination, religion commonly underlies florid mental illness such as psychosis. In reality though, religiosity has been shown to protect against psychosis, and patients who used religion to cope had better insight and were more compliant with medication.

In four out of 86 studies mental health was worse among the religious, typically where there was harsh, judgmental and authoritarian leadership. (12) But compared to the wealth of evidence above, proven harm has been reported rarely, generally in isolated case reports and studies of atypical religious communities. For instance, there have been outbreaks of rubella among the Amish who refused vaccination, and the refusal of Jehovah's Witnesses to receive blood transfusions is well documented. The very unorthodox Christian Scientists may seek medical help late, due to their belief that sickness is illusory, and this can endanger life. Click here for entire article

Boghossian is clearly going against an insurmountable number of large studies on the question of the relationship between faith and health. If he is successful in his mission, the professional medical studies indicate that rather than helping people, he will actually be causing them great harm. How noble is that? And for what: all because he doesn’t like the idea of God.

9. Life has no meaning without faith.

Boghossian’s answer is to once again rely on his illegitimate definition of faith. But this is no answer at all. It is begging the question. Boghossian points to children, the arts, charity, reading, hobbies and other activities to provide meaning in life, but this is exactly backwards. None of these things have meaning apart from meaning in life. Children do not bring meaning. The meaning that is inherently present makes children meaningful. Meaning has not scientific or rational explanation. It is just there, confronting every one of us. What kind of meaning does a tadpole have? Does a frog have more meaning than its tadpoles? Does sperm have any meaning? Does a child have meaning in the mother’s womb? If so, stop murdering them. What is it then that gives a child meaning upon exciting the mother’s womb? These things do not have meaning because we assign it to them through rational or empirical processes. They have meaning apart from our recognizing it or not. They have meaning because they have their source in God. The very reason we cannot deny meaning in life only makes sense if God is there. Why does your blood boil at the very thought of someone claiming that a newborn baby is no more valuable than a roach? Atheism cannot explain that phenomenon. Science cannot explain it. There is no empirical evidence for meaning. There is no logic that can establish meaning. Meaning exists in the area of faith. Without faith, one cannot possible begin to account for meaning in life. All they can do is what Boghossian did: beg the question and avoid the facts.

10. Why take away faith if it helps get people through the day?

If we all exist for about 70-80 years and then we cease to exist, with no purpose for being here, and life really has no intrinsic meaning, how can any noetic structure be superior to any other? How on earth could it really matter what worldview a person adapted? Why would it make a difference? Unless that worldview were going to subject me to pain and misery somehow, like perhaps many forms Islam, why would I even care?

11. Without faith, society would devolve into morality.

It depends on how one defines morality. To reject faith according to the Christian Scriptures is immoral in and of itself. So the answer from the Christian perspective is yes. The problem for faithless living is that there is no logical reason one can offer for following someone else’s moral code. In fact, morality has no logical way to defend itself. Science is of little help as well. Morality, being immaterial, is entirely beyond the science. When we enter the field of ethics, we enter the field of theology or philosophy. Human reason can only account for morality if God truly exists. Otherwise, humanity has no mechanism by which it can make the human experience of morality intelligible. Morality is most certainly in the realm of faith. It is something we all believe is there, but we cannot offer scientific proof for it nor can logic help us account for its undeniable presence either. I realize there have been attempts to provide a biological explanation for morality. But such an experiment, if proven (which it will not be) would do more to destroy the idea of morality rather than affirm it. For instance, the pedophile could not be held accountable for his actions because it was not his fault but rather biological processes in his brain that made him act the way he did. Poppycock! There seems to be no limit to the absurdity that man is willing to go in his attempts to purge God from society.

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