Well, according to Michael Ruse, any way.

Can any qualified philosophers comment? I found the philosophical arguments in TGD and God is not Great fairly persuasive, but I'm just a musician and a bureaucrat, not a philosopher. Do Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennet et al attack philosophical strawmen? Is the ontological argument really as dumb as it appears to be?

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Hey Radu,

Yeah, I get that. Ruse is an 'atheist butter' and the ontological argument is dumber than a of box of stupid. How the hell does someone as dim as Ruse get to make a career out of such gibberish? I could do that, no sweat, and I bet it pays better than what I do too....
I've taken one too many philosophy courses than I care to state but here's the way I have seen it stated over and over.

If one is aware of one's self then one is aware of itself only. If one cannot be aware of anything other than oneself then everything else is subjective. If one cannot understand the nature of objectivity then one can only rely on what one experiences through flawed senses. Now with that being said, since we are acutely aware of our own sense's, one must make inferences and value judgments of ones surroundings. For instance I know the floor beneath me is solid, because I know it was solid yesterday and my experience says its solid based on color, shape, etc.

Now since the concept of 'God' cannot be measured or quantified in the way that I can measure the length of said floor for instance (or the weight, the color, and shape), 'God' cannot exist without an accurate way to quantify or measure it's existence. I know the grass exists because I see it outside and so does everyone else. I know that it is probably green, with grass like characteristics. Since 'God' has none of the characteristics that make up our natural and familiar world, 'God' must not exist. There is no way to sense this presence.

Ok so since that is out of the way then what is feeling? Can 'God' be a feeling? Feelings are not really quantifiable in the philosophical realm because it goes back to that subjective idea that one experiences one's own existence. SO again, not measurable or 'provable'

Now this goes to the burden of proof argument. The burden of proof does not lie with the non-believer, it lies with the believer. I can believe that all dogs are female; however it is my responsibility to prove that all dogs are female. Think up as many crazy arguments as you choose, however that burden of proof lies with the belief. Since one cannot systematically provide enough evidence for the proof to be real, 'God' must not exist.

Again, I'm seriously condensing the argument to a readable and understandable level for a forum post. Please feel free to follow up....
Very succinct. Thanks for laying it out so well. The philosophy courses were not a waste. I have heard way too much gobbledygook from philosophical types that I knew was crap. It's nice to hear something sensible for once.
Who is arguing that creationism is only bad science? I've never heard this particular arguement before.

I'm not even sure where philosophy comes into the arguement. This is about religion, not philosophy. This is about keeping church and state seperate, not the annihilation of religion. We'd all like to see religion go away but I think most of us are rational enough to admit that's not going to happen, at least not for a long time.
And yes the ontological argument is as retarded as it appears to be lol...
The dead giveaway on the ontological argument is that they had to come up with a new version of it. If it hadn't been debunked there would be no need to change it. The new version isn't really any different from the old one and it was just as quickly laid to rest.

Philosophical arguments for the supernatural are always so convoluted that you know they are trying to hide something.
Can any qualified philosophers comment?
What "qualifies" one as a philosopher?

“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.”- Albert Camus

That sounds about right to me.
Mmm, Camus. I quote that all of the time. :D
I love that Camus quote. Shakespeare got there way before him though: "to be or not to be - that is the question."

In fact, I would argue that all religions that offer an afterlife are answering that question as mostly 'no.'
I think that's right. Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens have crafted fairly good polemics against religion, but they do little more than superficially rehearse the philosophical arguments against theism. Most serious theologians would be able to give pretty coherent responses to many of the arguments that those three raise. Honestly, though, putting together a careful philosophical treatise on religion was probably not their goal--they're writing for popular audiences, and are more interested in policy than philosophy. None of this is to say that any of these three is flatly wrong about any of this stuff; my point is just that their arguments aren't hugely sophisticated from a philosophical standpoint--they don't get into many serious objections to their positions.

Dennett, I think, is the exception. He's a professional philosopher--his work on religion is only a tiny minority of his impressive corpus--and that shows in (for example) Breaking the Spell. His writing on the topic is much more careful and philosophically nuanced--he's also far less shrill than the others. Of the New Atheists, he's by far the one that I respect the most.
Ralph, I agree. I grew up with my own brand of magical thinking, and i can still feel it tugging at the corners of my mind every now and then. Magical thinking is comforting; it gives one the illusion of having understood something about the universe. When you feel you understand something, you can feel more in control of your place in the scheme of things.

I was listening to a radio show the other day; it was a phone in with a herbalist/homeopath guest. People were calling in, describing an ailment they suffered from, outlining (usually dismissively) the treatment prescribed by mere doctors, then getting down to details about the herbal/homeopathic remedies they'd tried, or were wondering about trying. The guest was listening carefully, then engaging with the callers in detailed discussions of the effects of this herb or that potion. He was always ass-coveringly careful to remind the callers to keep taking their medicine.

Listening to this charade, it struck me that alternative medicines give uneducated, unscientific, non-medical people the illusion that they have some special, integral, natural understanding of the world. Religion is the same thing.

There is a vital misunderstanding between many of the faithful and atheists. Atheists see a world that is, by default, a natural one, and expect supernaturalists to explain why the supernatural is a reasonable addition. Religiots see an intrinsically 'godly' world and expect atheists to support the additional assertion that they should remove the supernatural from their worldview.

In short, atheists and believers start from different baselines.
"In short, atheists and believers start from different baselines."

It's interesting that you should say that, because I've always come back to that idea as well. When reading debates between atheists and theists it has frequently seemed to me that they're talking at cross purposes, because each side starts from within a different paradigm (if I may borrow a phrase). I've often wondered whether that isn't the fundamental source of a lot of misunderstandings between both sides, particularly when it comes to the question of evidence. An atheist expects empirical evidence and doesn't get it, while a theist doesn't understand why subjective/supra-natural evidence (such as miracles or "feeling" God) is not acceptable within the natural world view. What we need is a way to bridge this gap so that we start from a place of mutual understanding.




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