Friday Roundup

One person’s story

Another person’s story and worth the listen: Is belief in God irrational? No.

Jupiter is indeed strange and with cyclones 900 miles wide, we might add extremely hostile…

When it comes to fake news, truth, we must hope, eventually wins

What many don’t know: One of Darwin’s greatest supporters was a devout Christian

This looks like a good book and one that addresses issues at the very core of the western liberal project, and issues that, sooner or later, secular western liberals will have to face up to and address…

Again, perhaps humor is the only way to get through this

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5 Responses to Friday Roundup

  1. Burk says:

    Hi, Darrell-

    Thanks for the Veritas link. I found the speaker very eloquent, but seriously lacking in rationality. Her exposition toward the end about the problem of evil was particularly painful as an excercise in apologetics- hunting for some way, any way, to make it all make sense.

    But let me back up to the core of her argument, which seemed to be that, as a professional metaphysician, her standards for evidence were not very high. Not everything apparently has to be proven and cut-and-dried to be “rational”, in her book. This is where she turned to the way that we as humans naturally want to have reasons for things, and hunt high and low for them. She even mentioned the Bible/Gospels as being full of reasons for having the faith, wherever that stage of faith is as you go through them.

    The key point is that, unfortunately, all those reasons can be summed up as totally unavailing as a philosophical proposition, which she implicitly admitted, as she is still looking around for something more compelling. Even you say that they all boil down to faith- faith comes first, not second, ultimately. And as rationalizing beings, we then hunt for reasons, and by golly, find them in spades, in dubious precincts, like mythified history, archetypal dreams (Revelation), and the like.

    Most disturbing was her argument from context, where she claimed that she was a smart cookie, and was going about her search in the right way, so therefore what she believes is ipso facto rational. I am sure Trump thinks that way too! No, without reasons, and warranted ones, you are not being rational, whatever the conducive context- sorry. In her case, the problem was not drugs, or bad morals, etc. But was just the condition of being human, which predisposes so many people to be misled, whether by an appalling con man cum politician, or by a supposedly “deep” and venerable tradition. You might enjoy a podcast on the absurd history of purgatory– another great and rational belief.

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  2. Burk says:

    Heck, let me go on a bit and turn to the speaker’s discussion of sports teams, subjectivity, and ambiguous, which is to say, unwarranted, belief. She brushed all this off as not meeting the seriousness of the tenor of religious belief- it couldn’t possibly be that our choice of religion is not more warranted, and every bit as subjective, as our choice of sports teams, since we have all these deep philosophical and theological discussions, right?

    Sorry, but again, without real, warranted reasons, you are indeed precisely in the same position. As our world wide experience with Islam is making so clear. These supernatural beings and religion in general are beliefs entirely as subjective and and unsupported, and yes, contigent, as other matters of subjective taste. She and you and other religious people should own this situation and realize that, yes, I like my religion for the masses, the ceremonies, the connection with others, the way it makes me feel… full stop. Trying to make it all “right” and philosophical is going down a doomed road. Both philosophically and morally/operationally.

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    • Hi Burk,

      As to the problem of evil, she was being wise not to act as if it is an easy topic or give a simplistic and shallow answer. I have no idea why that is “painful” to you or why anyone would think it meant she was searching for an answer to make “sense” of something.

      “But let me back up to the core of her argument, which seemed to be that, as a professional metaphysician, her standards for evidence were not very high.”

      You are confused. That was not the core of her argument, but of yours.

      “Not everything apparently has to be proven and cut-and-dried to be “rational”, in her book.”

      Ummm, that would be in most reasonable person’s books. If you think anyone’s philosophy or epistemology, including your own, is “cut and dried” you know nothing of either.

      “…Even you say that they all boil down to faith- faith comes first, not second, ultimately…”

      Yes, I do say that and I say it mostly to you and your philosophical naturalism/scientism. She said nothing that I thought undercut such a view.

      “Most disturbing was her argument from context, where she claimed that she was a smart cookie, and was going about her search in the right way, so therefore what she believes is ipso facto rational.”

      I did not hear that line of reasoning in her remarks. Not sure what you are referring to.

      “…Sorry, but again, without real, warranted reasons…”

      We do have warranted reasons. Allow me to translate what you are “really” asserting:

      “Sorry, but again, without real, warranted (meaning without adopting my philosophical naturalism/scientism, without adopting my philosophical view of what a “real” and “warranted” reason is to begin with) reasons…”

      I think most reasonable and rational people would make this observation: Belief in God, or transcendence, or the Christian narrative as true, may be something I disagree with, something I think has significant problems, but it is not something I would assert is irrational or unreasonable to believe. That is indeed the widest, largest consensus of most intelligent people both now and in times past. That you fall outside that consensus is something that should give you pause.

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      • Burk says:

        Hi, Darrell-

        That is why I am here- because what you claim as the consensus is woefully deficient.

        There is a huge proportionality problem here as well. Given that the evidence that Ms. Sullivan adduces for her beliefs is modest, if it amounts to anything, and from her story is also heavily subjective, what does it imply and allow? It does not imply a relationship with Jesus, and headlong dive in to Catholic orthodoxy. Or any kind of commitment of such a momentous sort. It would merit only the most vague and hypothetical consideration that maybe, there might be something like a deistic deity, at best. As the old mantra has it, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

        Everything else about the commitment we see here- the masses, the morals, the talks to the benighted, etc. etc. are all functions, not of belief rationally arrived at, but of psychological affinity- exactly the kind of thing she so demurely brushes off in her sports team analogy. And what we see through history is exactly what you would expect out of a tribalistic affinity system – great deeds of good and caring, along with the usual wars against infidels, book burning, intolerance, competing teams with contrasting, yet equally “supported” beliefs, etc.

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  3. Burk,

    “That is why I am here- because what you claim as the consensus is woefully deficient.”

    Again, that should give you pause. You might ask yourself why it is the consensus and if you have enough warrant to feel comfortable outside it. In most cases, it is those who fall outside the consensus who are in need of extraordinary reasons and warrant. Again, a rational reasonable person would claim that belief in God or transcendence is reasonable and rational, but not necessarily true or without significant problems. That you cannot muster such a response is not only woefully deficient as to perspective, sensibility, and thoughtful reflection, but again puts you well outside the bounds of reasonableness and on the fringe of possible views. Nothing wrong with that, but it certainly makes it hard to take seriously.

    “There is a huge proportionality problem here as well…”

    She wasn’t addressing a relationship with Jesus, or Catholic orthodoxy, only if belief in God was rational. Why would one even address such if a person was not even willing to entertain the idea that belief in God was rational to begin with? Regardless, it wasn’t the point.

    We could also chalk up atheism to psychological affinity, simply another “fan” as if it were of a sports team, a tribe, doing both good and evil in the world, supporting it all with their “belief” there is no God or transcendence. We could do that, but it would be a woefully deficient, one-sided, self-serving, painfully self-unaware, shallow, and simplistic analysis. So we will leave such an analysis to others to make about everyone else but themselves.

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