The Importance of Reasoned Skepticism

Isn’t it weird that so many self-proclaimed “skeptics” and “freethinkers” seem so self-assured of everything they believe in, just like the “ignorant Christians” they spend so much time attacking? “Question authority,” they proclaim out one side of their mouth, while vomiting rigid and sometimes archaic scientific formulae out the other. “Think freely” they bark, only to chastise those who don’t live up to their (often contradictory) standards. In practical experience, very few atheists actually seem willing to question or think freely, when it really gets down to it. Just like true believers, atheists hold to plot points on a narrative–only their’s is backed up by evidence and reality (at least in their own minds). We’ve heard it all before, right?

Rather than rehash the obvious, let’s take a different approach.

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Book Plug: Evidence for the Existence of God

If you commented or read at CSA much, you might remember a commenter that went by the name of Martin. Well, Martin recently informed me about his new book titled Evidence for the Existence of God, written under the pen name James Kelly and available in Kindle edition for $1 on Amazon. The book is available for free Sunday March 10th and Monday March 11th. I especially liked how he addresses various objections to each of the arguments he presents, which are essentially just recaps on the classic Thomist arguments. For example, in reference to a common atheist retort against Aristotle’s argument from kinesis:

Objection: What about virtual particles? Virtual particles pop into existence without a cause. Or beta decay, where atoms decay without any cause.

It’s far from clear that there is no cause. There are at least a dozen different interpretations of quantum mechanics, and about half of them theorize that there is a cause and half do not. This objection relies upon a simplistic understanding of causation. If all causation is “billiard ball” causation, like little balls or particles bumping into each other, then perhaps quantum mechanics might provide some evidence against it. But causation is not like that. The sun causes plants to grow, magnets cause metal to move, volitions of agents, water freezing or melting, and so on are all examples of causative relations that are not simplistic billiard balls knocking into other billiard balls. So the observation that there is no particle bumping into an atom causing it to decay is not evidence that there is no cause at all.

I sent Martin a few questions, which turned into a mini-interview of sorts. Enjoy, and download the book!

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Presumptions & Inferences

Since I’ll be revisiting the following four concepts in various epistemological arguments in the future, especially those pertaining to alleged miracles, I thought it would be good to introduce them now.

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Why Was Man Such A Rare Creature?

I came across a copy of Jim Marrs’ Rule By Secrecy the other day. Towards the end of the book, the author makes passing reference to an interesting question that may or may not have implications for the conventional evolutionary narrative. Since I’m neither an “evolutionist” or “YEC”, don’t interpret this as an attack on the former or an endorsement of the latter. When it comes to the evolution vs. creation debate, the only thing I hold to is that God created. I don’t know how, or how long it took—and unlike the staunch supporters on either side, I won’t pretend to know. That said, Marrs writes:

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A Reminder To The Willfully Ignorant

If you haven’t read it already, I highly suggest Neil Postman’s The End of Education. It isn’t about (a)theism per se—it’s actually about how the transcendent, unifying narratives of previous generations have been replaced by “gods” of consumerism, technology and economic utility—but Postman raises many points with direct import to (a)theist debate. For example,

…the Big Bang theory of modern astronomers is not so far from the story of the Beginning as found Genesis. The thought that a group of camel-riding Bedouins huddling around a fire in the desert night four thousand years ago might ponder the question of how the universe began and come up with a narrative that is similar to one accepted by MIT professors in the late twentieth century speaks of a continuity of human imagination that cannot fail to inspire. (p.112-113)

But of course, as most of the enlightened, rational atheists already know, there is no evidence for God. They may as well discard Postman’s candor entirely.

The Greatest Thing In The World: Index

The following is an index for Henry Drummond’s sermon on 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (the “love” passages), reprinted from the complete, unabridged version of “The Greatest Thing In The World” by Spire Books (ISBN unknown). Highly recommended for believers of all types and atheists interested in learning more about the Bible.

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The Greatest Thing In The World: The Defence (2)

*The following is reprinted from the complete, unabridged version of “The Greatest Thing In The World” by Henry Drummond, Spire Books, ISBN unknown

I have said this thing is eternal. Did you ever notice how continually John associates love and faith with eternal life? I was not told when I was a boy that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should have everlasting life.” What I was told, I remember, was, that God so loved the world that, if I trusted in Him, I was to have a thing called peace, or I was to have rest, or I was to have joy, or I was to have safety. But I had to find out for myself that whosoever trusteth in Him—that is, whosoever loveth Him, for trust is only the avenue to Love—hath everlasting life The Gospel offers a man life.

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The Greatest Thing In The World: The Defence (1)

*The following is reprinted from the complete, unabridged version of “The Greatest Thing In The World” by Henry Drummond, Spire Books, ISBN unknown

Now I have a closing sentence or two to add about Paul’s reason for singling out love as the supreme possession. It is a very remarkable reason. In a single word it is this: it lasts. “Love,” urges Paul, “never faileth.” Then he begins again one of his marvellous lists of the great things of the day, and exposes them one by one. He runs over the things that men thought were going to last, and shows that they are all fleeting, temporary, passing away.

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The Greatest Thing In The World: Analysis (Conclusion)

*The following is reprinted from the complete, unabridged version of “The Greatest Thing In The World” by Henry Drummond, p.37-41, Spire Books, ISBN unknown

So much for the analysis of Love. Now the business of our lives is to have these things fitted into our characters. That is the supreme work to which we need to address ourselves in this world, to learn Love. Is life not full of opportunities for learning Love? Every man and woman every day has a thousand of them. The world is not a play-ground; it is a schoolroom. Life is not a holiday, but an education. And the one eternal lesson for us all is how better we can love.

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The Greatest Thing In The World: Guilelessness, Sincerity

*The following is reprinted from the complete, unabridged version of “The Greatest Thing In The World” by Henry Drummond, p.37-39, Spire Books, ISBN unknown

Guilelessness and Sincerity may be dismissed almost with a word. Guilelessness is the grace for suspicious people. And the possession of it is the great secret of personal influence. You will find, if you think for a moment, that the people who influence you are people who believe in you. In an atmosphere of suspicion men shrivel up; but in that atmosphere they expand, and find encouragement and educative fellowship. It is a wonderful thing that here and there in this hard, uncharitable world there should still be left a few rare souls who think no evil. This is the great unworldliness. Love “thinketh no evil,” imputes no motive, sees the bright side, puts the best construction on every action. What a delightful state of mind to live in! What a stimulus and benediction even to meet with it for a day! To be trusted is to be saved. And if we try to influence or elevate others, we shall soon see that success is in proportion to their belief of our belief in them. For the respect of another is the first restoration of the self-respect a man has lost; our ideal of what he is becomes to him the hope and pattern of what he may become.

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