History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Greta Christina at Alternet

March 31st, 2012 · 1 Comment

The Top 10 Reasons I Don’t Believe in God

“Does God exist?” is a valid and relevant question. Here are my top reasons why the answer is a resounding, “No.”
March 30, 2012 |

….The following is an excerpt from Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless by Greta Christina. The book is available electronically on Kindle, Nook, and soon in print.

I am beginning to find the new atheists tedious, and this piece from Alternet is no exception.
Let me note that I am an ‘atheist’ of sorts, thence also a theist, of sorts, and have no agenda on the subject, as such.
The discussion here by ‘Greta Christina’ is a exercise in futility, to me, but on the surface its arguments will make sense to some.
First, let me criticize the adoption of the now frequent style of Alternet: the bullepoint mania of lists raging in the minds of the idiot Powerpoint generation. No big deal, but ten points in this list is self-defeating and induces its own skepticism. Why not 11 powerpoint bullets?
Here is part of the list:

1: The consistent replacement of supernatural explanations of the world with natural ones.

2: The inconsistency of world religions.
3: The weakness of religious arguments, explanations, and apologetics.
4: The increasing diminishment of God.
6: The physical causes of everything we think of as the soul.
7: The complete failure of any sort of supernatural phenomenon to stand up to rigorous testing.
9: The failure of religion to improve or clarify over time.
10: The complete lack of solid evidence for God’s existence.

None of these arguments are convincing to me anymore.
1. This hasn’t happened, actually. To be sure, very primitive myths of nature have repeatedly found natural explanations, but the issue is beyond complete solution. And much of what is claimed here is the same kind of fraud/myth in reverse that was so common in pre-science. The questions of mind, soul, language, ethics, will, freedom, teleology, and evolution have so far produced stumbling blocks for reductionist science.

A perfect example is Darwinian natural selection mythology, itself often used to justify atheism. I do not think the failure of natural selection is grounds for non-natural explanations, but the fact remains that one of the key foundations for atheist veiwpoints, fails, period.
2.The question of inconsistency is misleading: there are really two broad avenues of world religion, the buddhist/jain stream, and the monotheistic stream. The first stream shows remarkable consistency (by no means total) as to basics, and ditto for, say, Islam, Xtianity. The action of monotheism was to produce a kind of neo-religious consistency in the post-Axial Age.
So this issue is close to stalemate….

More generally, Godel’s Proof powerfully exploits (in)consistency in a logical system to counter completeness in reciprocity, so we can’t hold universal systems to simple consistency (as far as we can be sure). Forms of truth can stand in correlated conjunction (maybe???)
Non-dual religious systems are common in India, and truth is approached by the zigzag of opposites. The dialectic of Hegel suggests one reason for the power of this method (despite the problems of Hegel’s treatment).

3. The weakness of religious arguments is real, in many cases, but springs from Kantian issues of the metaphysics, shared by science in reverse. The weakness of the arguments against god is identical to its opposite. In every case, science fails on the same classic metaphysical polarities, in reverse. The weakness of atheist arguments rivals that of the theist.

4. The increasing dimishment of god–this isn’t an argument. It merely shows that new instruments of propaganda have come into play to recondition large numbers.
6. This one is flat false: we can’t define soul, let alone find physical causes for its existence. One of the key issues, hard to resolve, is whether the categories (e.g. as in Kant) of mind include space/time, which means that an issue of idealism haunts materialism. Soul is a universal inference in almost all human cultures.
The existence of soul has been powerfully suggested by the bardo meditations of classic buddhist practice. So, it is problematical indeed to dismiss ‘soul’ questions…..

9. The progress of religion is not absolute, but it is real: witness the action of the Axial Age, and its attempted reforms of religion.
10. The lack of evidence for god is problematical, if we don’t define god.
The action of ‘god’ in history pointed to by the Israelites was mixed with much confusion but was clearly an empirical revelation of, perhaps not ‘god’ (a term they did not use), a higher power in history. That evidence is spectacular, and denied by new atheists types, leading to suspicions about their agenda.
I don’t think the Axial Age should be taken as ‘evidence’ for god, but unless you define your terms the debate is misleading. The universe isn’t the one atheists point to.
More generally, the question of god, or no god, must confront the vastness of the universe, and, more, the barrier of impossibility in the Big Bang (if we go with that idea) which provokes a classic antinomy of Kant: both sides, theists, or atheistic, are equally confounded.

Greta Christinan is expressing a lot of anger here, but why? The real anger is on the other side, witness Islamic fervor on this issue. I would suggest that the rising anger of the new atheists, fueled by the idiocy of the frustrated Dawkins, is dangerous, and a step toward fanaticism.
You can’t resolve god questions, so anger is immaturity in action.

In general, the failure of the new atheists, following Bertrand Russell, to reckon with a philosopher such as Kant is regrettable. The mediocrity of Russell by comparison should be a warning to new atheists.

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