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March 22, 2012

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You can read here how the organizers answer the following questions:

What do you hope to achieve from this Rally?

Why are we doing this?

The word 'reason' doesn't appear in either answer. But Melida and others (The linked guy and Frank Turek, for example) go on and on about the name of the rally.

RonH


......uuuuuuhhh If the rally is not concerned with "reason" perhaps they ought not to call the rally ...."Reason Rally"...think maybe?

Vic,

If atheists claim to have no beliefs about God, why should we be surprised that their Reason Rally has no concern with reason?

Vic,

The name doesn't matter much. I wouldn't fixate on it.

RonH

Dawkins seems to think it does. "Thousands will converge on the world’s leading capital city to celebrate the crowning human virtue of reason." Etc.

Amy,

Sometimes reason plays a subsidiary role. For example:

... it is the self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit that gives us the fundamental knowledge of Christianity's truth. Therefore, the only role left for argument and evidence to play is a subsidiary role.

William Lane Craig in Reasonable Faith p47

RonH

I have friends, neighbors, and relatives who are gay and/or non-believing and/or feminist and/or of Arab descent.

For me, the rally is about better lives for these people.

RonH

Ron, how is it that the rally will make these people's lives better? What about the rally will do that if it is not to promote that the beliefs of gay, non-believers, feminist, and Arab descent (not sure I understand that distinction) isn't more "reasonable" than those that oppose those views?

But rational and logical errors are pervasive throughout “The God Delusion,” so much so that University of Florida philosopher Michael Ruse, an atheist, would endorse Alister and Joanna Collicutt McGrath’s “The Dawkins Delusion?” by saying, “‘The God Delusion’ makes me embarrassed to be an atheist, and the McGraths show why.”

After having read through most of Dawkins' "The God Delusion", I can see why Michael Ruse finds it to be an embarrassment.

“I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: Oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous. And God granted it.”
― Voltaire

How the worm doth turn.

Ron...

According to the news reports the only "fixating" being doen is by dawkins with his "demanding that we grant them equality"...Not sure what that means but it probably means more than just letting then be free to fixate as they pleawe.... So many victims...so little time...

Vic,

Maybe if you don't fixate on Dawkins you wont fixate on ... what was it? ... I have to look ... oh, yeah ... the name of the rally.

RonH

Bennet,

I'm lost; what's your view?
Who is the worm?
Upon whom doth he turn?


RonH

Someone (apocryphally Mark Twain or possibly Johnny Carson) noted that to explain a joke is like dissecting a frog. You may take it apart, find out how all the parts work, and possibly understand it better--but the frog won't survive the process.

It'll come to you.

Doesn't seem to be much of a rally for equality for anyone, either. I mean, why would they bother allowing the fools from Westboro Baptist ? I can't think of any other reason than to take WBC's extremist views and paint all Christians and other theists with a caricature resembling those views.
It seems that Dawkins et al. seem to be fixating on ridding the world of theism, so it's not surprising if anyone is a bit miffed when some particular group of people think they have a monopoly on reason and tolerance and poorly attempt to portray themselves with such qualities.
I'll concede that some of those following some form of theism certainly aren't the epitome of tolerance and reason, either, but these qualities certainly aren't somehow much more prevalent among the new atheists, either.
At least Michael Ruse has the honesty and integrity to call out Dawkins for what he is.

.. it is the self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit that gives us the fundamental knowledge of Christianity's truth. Therefore, the only role left for argument and evidence to play is a subsidiary role.

William Lane Craig in Reasonable Faith p47

I believe there's a distinction to be made here, though. From what I recall, this statement applies to knowing. This does not apply to showing the claims of Christianity to be true.

James,

It is a little hard to discern a clear rallying cry, isn't it? One can only hope it goes so "well" as the Occupy movement, although I suppose "We are the 2-4%" doesn't really have the same ring to it.

James,

You don't need to rely on what you can recall; you can read.

Should a conflict arise between the witness of the Holy Spirit to the fundamental truth of the Christian faith and beliefs based on argument and evidence, then it is the former which must take precedence over the latter, not vice versa.

(page 37)

Craig is saying he'd go on as a believer no matter what. He doesn't say 'appearance of a conflict' or 'slight conflict'. The 'witness' trumps any and all evidence.

RonH

Ron,

You're quote-mining out of context. Taken in its whole, that section explains that the witness of the Holy Spirit is sufficient reason to believe for those who do not have time or resources to, say, parse Anselm's Ontological Argument. They may know Jesus is true because they may speak to him, through the Holy Spirit.

He also adds that the Witness takes precedent because some arguments for God might be poorly-reasoned, but the direct witness of the Holy Spirit is knowable without having to rely on syllogism or deduction.

In the same way, I might know my wife loves me because I know my wife. I don't need to be able to offer evidence or explain it rationally, but it is nonetheless the case.


Now, all that aside, what in the blue blazes does it have to do with whether the name of the Rally is well-chosen, whether Richard Dawkins thinks Atheism is more reasonable, or the price of tea in China? You've attempted to throw out several red herrings in this thread, and the worst part for you is that they're all, in themselves, insipid and fallacious. But they do aid in distracting from what is either a disingenuous or foolhardy insistence that the "Rally for Reason" is not an equally disingenuous and foolhardy attempt to slander theists, especially Christians, under the ruse of a 'celebration of secularism.'

Fortunately, I suspect that much as the Occupy Movement merely shows the world that "direct democracy" is a nice word for "mob rule", this little fiasco will go to show the real face of New Atheism. It's not in favor of anything specific, it's merely a noisy mass centered on pseudo-intellectualism, self-adulation, sophistry, and its rallying chant becomes "There is no God, and we hate Him."

Bennet,

You're quote-mining out of context.

That's not true. This should be plenty of context to see that I distorted nothing. In fact, there are plenty of other sentences I could have quoted to make the same point.

Role of Argument and Evidence

But what about the second point: the role of argument and evidence in
knowing Christianity to be true? We've already said that it's the Holy
irit who gives us the ultimate assurance of Christianity's truth.
Therefore, the only role left for argument and evidence to play is a subsidiary role. I think Martin Luther correctly distinguished between what
he called the magisterial and ministerial uses of reason. The magisterial
use of reason occurs when reason stands over and above the gospel like a
magistrate and judges it on the basis of argument and evidence. The min-
isterial use of reason occurs when reason submits to and serves the gospel.
Only the ministerial use of reason can be allowed. Philosophy is rightly
the handmaid of theology. Reason is a tool to help us better understand
and defend our faith; as Ansclm put it, ours is a faith that seeks under-
standing. A person who knows Christianity is true on the basis of the wit-
ness of the Spirit may also have a sound apologetic which reinforces or
confirms for him the Spirit's witness, but it does not serve as the basis of
his belief. Should a conflict arise between the witness of the Holy Spirit
to the fundamental truth of the Christian faith and beliefs based on argu-
ment and evidence, then it is the former which must take precedence over
the latter, not vice versa.

A Danger

Now there is a danger in all this so far. Some persons might say that we
should never seek to defend the faith. Just preach the gospel and let the
Holy Spirit work! But this attitude is unbalanced and unscriptural, as we
shall see in a moment. For now, let us just note in passing that as long as
reason is a minister of the Christian faith, Christians should employ it.

An Objection

Some people disagree with what I've said about the role of argument and
evidence. They would say that reason can be used in a magisterial role, at
least by the unbeliever. They ask how else we could determine which is
true, the Bible, the Koran, or the Baghavad-Gita, unless we use argument
and evidence to judge them? Now I've already answered that question: The
Holy Spirit teaches us direcdy which teaching is really from God. But let
me suggest two other reasons I think those who support the magisterial
role of reason are wrong.

First, such a role would consign most believers to irrationality. The vast
majority of the human race have neither the time, training, nor resources
to develop a full-blown Christian apologetic as the basis of their faith.
Even the proponents of the magisterial use of reason at one time in the
course of their education presumably lacked such an apologetic.
According to the magisterial role of reason, these persons should not have
believed in Christ until they finished their apologetic. Otherwise, they
would be believing for insufficient reasons. I once asked a fellow seminary
student, "How do you know Christianity is true?" He replied, "I really
don't know." Does that mean he should give up Christianity until he finds
rational arguments to ground his faith? Of course not! He knew
Christianity was true because he knew Jesus, regardless of rational argu-
ments. The fact is that we can know the truth whether we have rational
arguments or not.

Second, if the magisterial role of reason were valid, then a person who
had been given poor arguments for Christianity would have a just excuse
before God for not believing in him. Suppose someone had been told to
believe in God because of an invalid argument. Could he stand before God
on the judgment day and say, "God, those Christians only gave me a lousy
argument for believing in you. That's why I didn't believe"? Of course not!
The Bible says all men are without excuse. Even those who are given no
good reason to believe and many persuasive reasons to disbelieve have no
excuse, because the ultimate reason they do not believe is that they have
deliberately rejected God's Holy Spirit.
Therefore, the role of rational argumentation in knowing Christianity to be true is the role of a servant. A person knows Christianity is true
because the Holy Spirit tells him it is true, and while argument and evi-
dence can be used to support this conclusion, they cannot legitimately
overrule it.

Please excuse any remaining OCR errors.

RonH

Ron,

For one thing, turn the page and he goes on to explain that none of these make good reason for someone *else* to believe. They aren't arguments. They're ways Christians can know God is real. If you accept the premise of Trinitarian Theism as true, then it's all pretty obvious. If there is a God, as described in said view, then he certainly could speak to people and they wouldn't need any other proof. You presume that to be untrue, and read everything else in light of that presumption. He's talking about epistemics as it pertains to believers in Christ, not debates with agnostics et al.

Of course, none of this is germane to the OP, or the subsequent comments, but only goes further into tap-dancing around the real issues as a means of distracting us (or perhaps yourself).

What is it on the next page that changes the meaning of the things I quoted?

Ron,

What do the things you've quoted have to do with whether the New Atheists commit offense against reason? Your comment is tantamount to "Forget about that. Bill Craig believes in God! Let's talk about that instead!"

Ron,
As I was saying, and what I think Bennett is trying to get across, is that what you've posted out of RF (including the passages in your previous post) is related to knowledge in oneself of the truth of Christianity. It only says that the Holy Spirit testifies and witnesses to an individual.
Once again, nothing in that section supports anything saying that reason takes a backseat when showing others why Christianity is true.
It seems that Craig is only saying that reason plays a subservient role when affirming personal knowledge of Christ.

James,

Precisely. It's little different from saying "I don't need logical arguments to prove that I have two feet. I can see and feel them at the end of my legs. And if someone came to me with a logical argument which claimed that I had no feet, even if it sounded very persuasive, I would know they were wrong."

Dawkins and Reason
http://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/dawkins-mock-them-ridicule-them-in-public/

James and Bennett,

The context of the passages I quoted was 'knowing' not 'showing' so I took nothing out of context.

Anyway, showing and knowing are connected.

If I show to you that there are as many real numbers between zero and one as there are real numbers in total, then you know that surprising fact.

I can show you that you know something by appealing to your own first person experience of it.

If I show myself something, then I come to know it.

Nothing in what Craig says about knowing/showing brings a different meaning to the sections I first quoted.

Mainly what he's doing is introducing his section on argument. And speaking of that seque...

Once apologetics is allowed to enter the picture, the objective difference between their epistemic situations becomes crucial, for since the non-Christian only thinks he has a self-authenticating experience of God, when in fact he docs not, the power of the evidence and argument may, by God's grace, crack his false assurance of the truth of his faith and persuade him to place his taith in Christ.

Now this by God's grace is very interesting. Craig is a careful and efficient writer. He doesn't normally use words for the hell of it. So what do these words mean hee?

I don't know. It seems to have something to do wi it's to do with irresistible grace (which I think he denies).

There are as many real numbers between zero and one as there are real numbers in total. Craig would not invoke God's grace to explain why you know that after I show it.

And if you could show someone the 'witness of the Holy Spirit' then maybe Craig would not say...

Philosophy is rightly the handmaid of theology.

...whether talking about knowing or showing or anything else.

I know that using those '' just above might annoying some people people. I don't want to annoy people but have you ever noticed how many words Christianity has its own meanings for?

witness
life
death
truth
...

The Christian meanings are SO different from the everyday meanings I sometimes can't allow myself to use the words with those meanings without '' marks.

Dawkins Direct

RonH

Ron,

What. Does. It. Have. To. Do. With. The. Main. Point?

Any of those Christian words too confusing for you? I can't make them any shorter or simpler or less contextualized.

Bennett,

OK, can we clarify some terms?
I think some main points from the (3!) OP's were:

1) "Reason Rally" means 'rally mostly about reason'.
2) But, Atheists don't reason or reason badly.
2) And, Christians reason well.

You want to add, subtract, or modify that list?

What do you mean my "It." ?
My last comment?
Is that what "It." means?

I don't need your help with the Christian words.

RonH

By the way, I'm all for staying on topic.
But if you falsely say I've quote-mined I might defend myself.

You may subtract the second (2) (which I suspect you meant to be a 3?) It wasn't stated in the OP. In fact, Christians weren't even mentioned. We're talking about the first two points. Even if Christians were complete dunces, it wouldn't make the New Atheists or the RforR crowd less unreasonable. If you wish to say "That is merely the pot calling the kettle black," then you must first concede that the kettle is black. That is, that your position is equally invalid. And right now, we're talking about them. I don't blame you for wanting to change the subject, but it's clear that that's all you want to do.

Now, as to points (1) and (2).

For point (1) all you've managed to come up with is that this Rally wasn't really about Reason. Brother, you ain't wrong. But you imply that it would be unreasonable to infer that it was supposed to be, based on some statements the organizers made.

This is patently absurd. If they had named the Rally "The Eagles Farewell Tour" and then announced "This is a concert about having fun and listening to the music of Radiohead" with no mention of the Eagles, there is reason aplenty to look askance at their intentions. Given that their other stated intentions, per the speech Daron linked, include "ridiculing" Christians, I think it's fair to abductively reason that they wouldn't scruple at lying about whether they meant to propagandize for the implication that Atheism = Inherently Reasonable, and Religion (Mostly Christian) = Inherently Unreasonable. If they claim this was not their intention, and also that I am unreasonable to think it so, then I will call them a liar to their face.

As to (2) we haven't had much of a discussion on. Asking whether all Atheists reason well or badly is clearly too broad, but the discussion quickly focused on the New Atheists, which is more managable, and their most public representative, Richard Dawkins. He and his (now Three) Horsemen have set themselves up as prophets and enjoy a large following. If it's fair to bring Bill Craig into this discussion--despite the fact that he did not write the OP, did not publicly comment on the Rally, did not attend the Rally, and was not mentioned at the Rally--then certainly it is fair to bring up Dawkins, who organized, attended, and was the keynote speaker at the Rally, where he dictated the tone and content, and where his name was chanted like a rock star by his followers. If any person's views are ripe for discussion, it would be that man.

Your critique of Dr. Craig's assessment of Christian epistemics--an in-house discussion directed at Evangelical Christians, and thus quite literally an example of preaching to the choir--may or may not hold water. I do not think it does, but it is also not germane to the issue. I may or may not be wearing an ugly tie, but making it subject for discussion won't change whether or not the Rally for Reason was a propaganda tool for hate speech, or whether New Atheist dogmatism is irrational.

There may be a speck in Craig's eye, or there may not. Whether that objection goes through or it doesn't won't budge the plank in Dawkins' and those who regurgitate his bigoted bile.

#3 (nee second #2) was in the first post.

That is, #3 (nee second #2) was explicitly in the post called "Rally for Reason" the other day.

It's a celebration of liberty from something they don't believe in. Don't be shy,come out the closet guys and celebrate.. er what was that again?

Then strain at that particular gnat over in that thread. What of the camels?

The first post "Rally for Reason" invited a contrast of attitudes toward reason of two the groups.

I think that was immature. I tried to get people to read about why the organizers said they held the rally. I tried to say: Don't judge a book by it's cover. I got nowhere.

Then I thought: what if the name of the rally was to critique Christian reasoning? How would that turn out?

Rather than consider the average Christian who is (like the average non-Christian) pretty bad at reasoning, I figured I'd look at the 'top' which I hear is Craig.

He was on topic.

Your epistemology becomes fair game when you critique mine.

The idea of 'in-house epistemology' is fair game before you finish saying it. In other words, it's bollocks.

Thanks Bennett.

Ron,

You're attempting to shoot the messenger (and hitting yourself in the foot--nothing that Craig says is wrong, on the premise of theism, and saying it's irrational because you know there's no God is circular). Atheists say the same thing about Dawkins and the New Atheist movement. Are you going to critique them for their theology too?

You're right that the other thread went off-road--because you disingenuously attempted to defend the notion that WBC being invited was anything but another propaganda ploy. You pretend to be wise when you wish to talk down others, then play the fool when asked to defend your reasons.

This is all just you performing a tap dance to avoid the issue of whether the demagogues of New Atheism are, as they claim, being reasonable. As it is practically self-evident that they are not, you try to draw attention away from the man behind the curtain.

Either you are being intellectually dishonest with yourself, or deliberately dishonest with the rest of us. Do you even know which it is anymore?

To Bennett,

If quoting Voltaire makes you happy, then here's one by him:

A witty saying proves nothing. - Voltaire

I can say that's more or less what you proved with your quote. If you honestly agree with men like Voltaire then we have nothing to be surprised about since Voltaire himself also said: "Better is the enemy of good."

I can honestly say that the arguments that most atheists throw come from academic ignorance and religious intolerance. And the atheists that throw good ones (but I personally know that ultimately none of them are good at all), those people never call themselves atheists.

Cornelius,

Can you give an example of an atheist who satisfies the conditions you mention? This is an atheist who...

1) throws good arguments which...
2) you know are ultimately not good (at all) and...
3) never calls herself an atheist.

You distinguish between two kinds of atheist: those that call themselves atheist and those that don't. You gave one application of this way of carving up the world. Do you have other applications for it?

I think Voltaire actually said, "The best is the enemy of the good."

Le mieux seems to be 'the best' and 'the best' makes more sense.

Why do you say 'better'?

RonH

Cornelius,

Did you miss the rest of the thread here? If I agreed with Voltaire, I wouldn't be Catholic. In point of fact, I heartily agree with you that men like Voltaire, JS Mill, Chris Hitchens, and a pile of others have found clever, sparkling ways of saying fetid, insipid things.

Thus my comment about the worm turning. Voltaire was an atheist who found Christians absurd. Now it is the atheists whom Christians may find absurd.

Ron,

If I didn't know any better, I'd say you were sprinting for the briar patch. Again.

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