Friday, October 09, 2015

Why aiming to marginalize is a self-defeating enterprise

One question that interests me is the question is whether debate of any kind can do anything to marginalize an opposing viewpoint, or whether there is a way of conducting discussion with the intent to marginalize, or whether all you can do in arguing against a position is to show that it is mistaken.
I am inclined to think the latter. If you are going to discuss something, you are required to be as fair and as respectful as you can be, as is required by the Principle of Charity.
I am familiar with Wolfgang Pauli's expression "not even wrong," but I think all that debate can do is establish wrongness. Now you might do so well in criticizing something that no one will ever again want to defend the opposing view, but there is nothing you can do to aim for that result. You just have to argue that you are right, and argue well.
That is what critiquing an opposing view involves. You have to work hard to understand your opponents. You will perhaps preach well to the choir, but your opponents will have every right to accuse you of the straw man fallacy. People who are informed about what they believe will look for misrepresentations in the work of people who are trying to ridicule them. And in my experience, they will typically find it.
For people who want to abolish philosophy of religion, for example, I am inclined to use a version of the pro-choice slogan: "If you don't believe in abortion, don't get one." If you can't find in yourself enough intellectual sympathy with an opposing viewpoint to deal with it fairly, you are probably better off leaving criticism of that viewpoint to others. Nothing requires you, as a theist or an atheist, to write argue for what you believe.
The predominance of religious believers in philosophy of religion, to me, has a pedestrian explanation, believers are articulating what they do believe, so they are more likely to do philosophy of religion. They think that religion holds the right answer to the basic questions of life. Atheists think that religious answers are the wrong answer, which means the right answer lies elsewhere. People may be concerned about answers they think wrong, but most people don't find it very exciting to devote themselves to wrong answers. They want to spell out the right answers.
It's not niceness, so if people ask "Why do we have to be so nice" they are missing the point. The issue is just doing the job of criticizing effectively. If you don't think you have to try to be fair, you probably won't do a good job.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Shadow to Light on conversion and deconversion: We have met the enemy and it is us, or is it them?

When someone becomes a Christian, what sets the stage is the following intuitive insight: There is something very wrong with me; I need to change.
When someone becomes an atheist, what sets the stage i(s) the following intuitive insight: There is something very wrong with them; they need to be stopped.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The Great Commission, atheist style

Therefore, go and make atheists of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Richard Dawkins,  and of Sam Harris,  and of Christopher Hitchens. 

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the atheism that you have.

Seriously, why all the witnessing for atheism? 

Here's a site where you can get atheist tracts to pass out. 

Aiming to marginalize

Religious apologists complain bitterly that atheists and secularists are aggressive and hostile in their criticism of them. I always say: look, when you guys were in charge, you didn’t argue with us, you just burnt us at the stake. Now what we’re doing is, we’re presenting you with some arguments and some challenging questions, and you complain.-A. C. Grayling
Really? Tim Chaffey replies: 
Finally, Grayling’s quote is ridiculous. When were atheists burned at the stake by Christians? Christianity was the dominant faith in the U.S. for over 200 years. When has an atheist ever been burned at the stake in the U.S.? When were atheists burned at the stake in Europe? Did the Catholics do that? I know that many Christians were burned at the stake (Hus, Ridley, Latimer, Cranmer, Sattler, et al.). So where is the evidence that Christians in power burned atheists at the stake?
Most importantly, are atheists just arguing? No, some of them seek to marginalize religious belief. This is their stated purpose. Here is actor Chris O'Dowd: 
“There’s going to be a turning point where it’s going to be like racism. You know,You’re not allowed to say that weird shit! It’s mad! And you’re making everybody crazy!

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

How to criticize religion without being a bigot


Finish this sentence

 If someone uses the n-word a lot and makes a lot of crude jokes at the expense of African-Americans they have got to be a......

Monday, October 05, 2015

What the laws of nature tell us

“But, don’t you see,” said I, “that science never could show anything of the sort?”

“Why on earth not?”

“Because science studies Nature. And the question is whether anything besides Nature exists—anything ‘outside.’ How could you find that out by studying simply Nature?”

--C. S. Lewis

Natural laws only tell you what will happen as long as there is no interference in the system from the outside. Furthermore, those laws can’t tell you if such interference is going to occur.


Saturday, October 03, 2015

Tim McGrew's Argument from Undesigned Coincidences

If it's all made up, how did this happen. Here. 

Why did we go into Iraq?

 Is it possible that what we sought to create over there was a democratic "beachhead" that was supposed to lead other Arabic nations to accept democracy? That has the advantage of being a more noble motive than oil, but it has the disadvantage of being doomed from the start.