Thursday, October 29, 2015

Red herrings don’t go to heaven either

They say that pride goeth before a fall.  And if you’re Jerry Coyne, every fall goeth before an even bigger fall.  The poor guy just never learns.  Show him that he’s shot himself in one foot, and in response he’ll shout “Lock and load!” and commence blasting away at the other one.  It seems the author of Why Evolution is True has got it into his head that a Darwin Award is something it would be good to win.  And this week he’s made another try for the prize.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Repressed knowledge of God? Part II

We’ve been discussing the thesis that human beings have a natural inclination toward theism, and that atheism, accordingly, involves a suppression of this inclination.  Greg Koukl takes the inclination to be so powerful that resisting it is like “trying to hold a beach ball underwater,” and appears to think that every single atheist is engaged in an intellectually dishonest exercise in “denying the obvious, aggressively pushing down the evidence, to turn his head the other way.”  (Randal Rauser, who has also been critical of Koukl, calls this the “Rebellion Thesis.”)  In response to Koukl, I argued that the inclination is weaker than that, that the natural knowledge of God of which most people are capable is only “general and confused” (as Aquinas put it), and that not all atheism stems from intellectual dishonesty.  Koukl has now replied, defending his position as more “faithful to Paul’s words” in Romans 1:18-20 than mine is.  However, I don’t think this claim can survive a careful reading of that passage.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Koukl responds (Updated)

Christian apologist Greg Koukl kindly sent me a response to my recent post about the discussion generated by his recent comments about atheism, natural theology, and Romans 1:18-20.  With his permission, I post it here.  I’ve been thinking of writing up a follow-up to my recent post anyway, and when I do I’ll comment on Greg’s remarks.  But for the moment, here is Greg’s response, for which I thank him: 

Feser’s concern, I think, is partly the result of taking general remarks made in a video blog about Romans 1 and asking of it the kind of precision not generally possible in that format.  In a brief verbal summary of an issue there is little opportunity for nuance regarding the kinds of concerns brought up in Feser’s thoughtful 2,500 word blog, which may account for my own remarks appearing “glib."

Friday, October 16, 2015

Repressed knowledge of God?

Christian apologist Greg Koukl, appealing to Romans 1:18-20, says that the atheist is “denying the obvious, aggressively pushing down the evidence, to turn his head the other way, in order to deny the existence of God.”  For the “evidence of God is so obvious” from the existence and nature of the world that “you’ve got to work at keeping it down,” in a way comparable to “trying to hold a beach ball underwater.”  Koukl’s fellow Christian apologist Randal Rauser begs to differ.  He suggests that if a child whose family had just been massacred doubted God, then to be consistent, Koukl would -- absurdly -- have to regard this as a rebellious denial of the obvious.  Meanwhile, atheist Jeffery Jay Lowder agrees with Rauser and holds that Koukl’s position amounts to a mere “prejudice” against atheists.  What should we think of all this?

Friday, October 9, 2015

Walter Mitty atheism

While writing up my recent post on Jerry Coyne’s defense of his fellow New Atheist Lawrence Krauss, I thought: “Why can’t these guys be more like Keith Parsons and Jeff Lowder?”  (Many readers will recall the very pleasant and fruitful exchange which, at Jeff’s kind invitation, Keith and I had not too long ago at The Secular Outpost.)  As it happens, Jeff has now commented on my exchange with Coyne.  Urging his fellow atheists not to follow Coyne’s example, Jeff writes:

If I were to sum up Feser’s reply in one word, it would be, “Ouch!” I think Feser’s reply is simply devastating to Coyne and I found myself in agreement with most of his points.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Why can’t these guys stay on topic? Or read?

Jerry Coyne comments on my recent Public Discourse article about Lawrence Krauss.  Well, sort of.  Readers of that article will recall that it focused very specifically on Krauss’s argument to the effect that science is inherently atheistic, insofar as scientists need make no reference to God in explaining this or that phenomenon.  I pointed out several things that are wrong with this argument.  I did not argue for God’s existence.  To be sure, I did point out that Krauss misunderstands how First Cause arguments for God’s existence are supposed to work, but the point of the article was not to develop or defend such an argument.  I have done that many times elsewhere.  Much less was my article concerned to defend any specifically Catholic theological doctrine, or opposition to abortion, or any conservative political position.  Again, the point of the essay was merely to show what is wrong with a specific argument of Krauss’s.  An intelligent response to what I wrote would focus on that.