Evangelical Realism has moved

Just in case anyone is still looking for new posts here (and in case my previous announcement was unclear), I’ve moved the ER blog back to its WordPress roots. Please update your bookmarks.

Thank you.

 
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Defending the Courtiers

Alan Roebuck, at intellectualconservative.com, has what he hopes is a stinging comeback for PZ Myers’ argument commonly known as “The Courtier’s Reply.”

Atheists have a new tactic to avoid confronting the voluminous evidence for God: When your debate opponent catches you dismissing valid scholarship, cry “Courtier’ Reply!”

Predictably, he does not link to Myers’ original article, but rather presents his own hand-crafted version.

Continue reading at the new home of the Evangelical Realism blog.

 
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XFiles Weekend: The Christian war on secular culture

(Book: On Guard, by William Lane Craig. Chapter 1: “What is apologetics?”)

In this week’s installment, Dr. William Lane Craig addresses the topic, “Why Is Apologetics Important?” As I mentioned last time, apologetics is important because God’s failure to show up in real life leaves Christians without an objective basis for their faith, and therefore they have no alternative but to rely on the works of men like Dr. Craig. But that might be a bit blunt for a book intended to encourage Christians to keep believing, so he offers three other reasons instead…

Continue reading at the new blog site

 
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OMG, Harold Camping was right. Well, sorta.

It’s the second coming of somebody anyway.

 
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The definition of goodness

Let’s start with an analogy: a river flowing across the countryside. Where the slope is nearly flat, the river meanders, wandering here and there according to the influence of various local factors. Where the slope is more pronounced, the river follows a definite course. With a bit of effort, a primitive farmer can use the river for irrigation. Lacking any kind of pump, though, he’s going to find that not all attempts to harness the river will be successful, and that the most successful approaches all have one factor in common: remembering that water flows downhill.

Morality is like the river, in that there are some circumstances where it is fairly easy to make it become what we want it to be, as well as other circumstances where, do what we will, the “water” is going to follow its natural downhill flow. But if morality is like the river, then what is the landscape that shapes its natural course, and what force of “gravity” pulls it downhill? That one is a little more complicated to explain.

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Posted in Atheistic Morality, Realism. 16 Comments »

Ontological perfection

Nick seems to have made himself scarce around these parts lately. It’s a shame. I was really looking forward to hearing some of his answers to the questions I raised. Maybe we can tempt him into coming back if we started discussing ontology and related topics, though, so let’s have a look.

Nick is quite right: your definition of “existence” will have a significant influence over whether goodness exists independently of our perception of it. So let’s ask the questions Nick alludes to. What do we mean when we say something exists, and what does this tell us about the reality and nature of things?

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In which I am disappointed

Last week I pointed out to Nick a fairly serious logical flaw in C. S. Lewis’ argument for Moral Law, as presented in Chapter 1 of Mere Christianity.

By asserting the existence of a disobeyable Law, therefore, Lewis is implicitly assuming, in his premise, the existence of the intentional law-giver that is the goal of his conclusion… By incorporating the assumption of an independent Observer/Participant into his definition of “law,” he biases the fundamental vocabulary of the discussion, and makes it difficult or impossible to argue the case, using his terms, without being led inevitably to the predetermined conclusion.

This is a very serious logical fallacy which, if unaddressed, undermines the validity of all subsequent Thomistic argumentation regarding natural law. I then posed a fairly simple question for Nick:

My main question is about Mere Christianity, and about Lewis’ apparent failure to produce a logically valid introduction to Thomistic thought. A sound and correct philosophical foundation should have made it easier for Lewis to produce a coherent and non-fallacious summary, albeit a potentially incomplete one. How then do you account for this discrepancy…?

I was frankly looking forward to Nick’s reply, given his extensive readings (especially as compared to my own). How would he address this problem? Would he agree that Lewis was presenting an unsound argument, and try to excuse him on the grounds that he was summarizing something much more complex? Would he try and make a case for the existence of a disobeyable law independent of any Observer with opinions and preferences about our behavior? Would he admit that “disobeyable law” already assumes the existence of a Divine Law Giver, and plead that in this special case it’s ok to assume one’s conclusion?

I was very interested in seeing how he would reply, but I didn’t expect him to reply like this:

I believe the question, if I’m understanding it rightly, concerns if Lewis is contradicting himself about a law of nature that cannot be broken supposedly and a law of morality that can.

Also, it concerns why we should believe if it cannot be measured or is not tangible in some way.

As they say in lolspeak, I am disappoint.

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Posted in Atheistic Morality, Realism. 10 Comments »

A question for Nick

I’m glad to see that Nick shows no signs of being a hit-and-run commenter, nor is he here to harass us with mere thoughtless trollery. He is engaging in real issues, he’s giving forthright answers, and when he speaks he does so with care and thoughtfulness. His tone may strike some as, shall we say, disrespectful, but in my opinion he is absolutely and 100% entitled to it, and he is welcome to continue. We will gain his respect only when and if we earn it.

In the interests of focusing on the heart of the issue rather than on tangents, let me begin by conceding that Nick has read more books on the subject of the ontology of good, Thomist philosophy, and so on, than I have. He has recommended Budziszewski, so I will give him a go. (Nick, would Written on the Heart be a reasonable starting place? When you have kids in college, the $10 book has certain attractions over the $70 hard cover, which is what Amazon is charging for The Line Through the Heart.)

Meanwhile, I do have an on-topic question for Nick, which might open up some common ground for fruitful discussion.

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Posted in Atheistic Morality, Realism. 29 Comments »

Answers for Nick

As I mentioned before, I’m not shutting down this blog completely, and we have a new guest in the comments, with some interesting questions. Since Nick asks such good questions, I’m promoting them to a post of their own, so that I can answer them more completely.

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Posted in Atheistic Morality, Comment Rescue, Unapologetics. 61 Comments »

The end of the “angry atheist”

Well, folks, it’s time for my weekly dismantling of Christian apologetics, but I’m afraid it’s not going to happen. As some of you have pointed out, Lewis is appallingly easy to deconstruct and falsify, to the point that the continued effort is becoming both tedious and repetitive. Also, my own life is taking somewhat of a different direction, and in the spirit of the New Year, I’ve been doing some thinking and course correction.

I’ll give you a little of the background below the fold, but if you’re impatient, you can just skip to my new blog over at Changing Religions.

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