The Importance of Reasoned Skepticism

May 6, 2013

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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Countering Drange: Introduction

April 6, 2013

I recently found an old printout of Theodore Drange’s 1996 critique of the so-called “Argument From The Bible.” Drange was an early contributor to Internet Infidels, and to this day I still hear atheists occasionally praise him as some sort of competent critic. When I stumbled across the printout, I asked myself why I’d saved it. After reading a few snippets, it all came back to me: I saved it because it’s another shining example of the illogic that passes for rational criticism in atheist circles. So, from time to time I’ll be addressing certain points in this article. First let’s take a look at Drange’s summation of the Argument From the Bible.
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Stanislav Grof On Materialistic Science

“Materialistic science, in its effort to gain knowledge of the world of matter and to control it, has engendered a monster that threatens the very survival of life on our planet. The human role has changed from that of creator to that of victim.”
—Stanislav Grof, HR Giger (Taschen Icon Series)

Two Kinds Of Revelation

April 1, 2013

Nee on direct vs. sought revelation:

“The revelation of God in our spirit is of two kinds: the direct and the sought. By direct revelation we mean that God, having a particular wish for the believer to do, draws nigh and reveals it to the latter’s spirit. Upon receiving such a revelation in his intuition the believer acts accordingly. By sought revelation we mean that a believer, having a special need, approaches God with that need and seeks and waits for an answer through God’s movement in his spirit.” —Watchman Nee, The Spiritual Man V.2, p80

Sensing The Spirit

March 31, 2013

In normal thinking we arrive at conclusions via reasoning, deduction, inference, analysis, etc. This is the sensing of the mind (which Nee would call “soul” or “soulical” sensing). This differs from spiritual sensing, which can be described as response or knowledge acquired without mental processing (revelation). Nee writes:

“The spiritual sensing is called ‘intuition,’ for it impinges directly without reason or cause. Without passing through any procedure, it comes forth in a straight manner. Man’s ordinary sensing is caused or brought out by people or things or events. We rejoice when there is reason to rejoice, grieve if there is justification to grieve and so forth. Each of these senses has its respective antecedent; hence we cannot conclude them to be expressions of intuition or direct sense. Spiritual sense, on the other hand, does not require any outside cause but emerges directly from within man.” —Watchman Nee, The Spiritual Man V.2, section 5

Watchman Nee On Body, Soul & Spirit

March 28, 2013

(A)theists often argue over dualism. For the record, I’m not a dualist. I concur with the Bible’s depiction of a human being as a tripartite (three-part) entity. Most Christians follow in Descartes’ footsteps by defining a human being as a soul with a body. However, this position is not biblically grounded. Several verses point to either a clear or implied distinction between body, soul and spirit (cf. Hebrews 4:12, Luke 1:46-47, 1 Thess. 5:23, etc.). Watchman Nee explains the respective functions of each entity, with his usual clarity and eloquence:
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Book Plug: Evidence for the Existence of God

March 10, 2013

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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Is Neil deGrasse Tyson Confused About Objective Truths?

March 5, 2013

From Twitter:

You don’t need to be a scientist to know Earth’s age or that life evolved. You just need be one who embraces objective truths.

When I read stuff like this, my heart sinks, especially when it comes from a scientist. Isn’t it sad? Despite the fact that the official age of the Earth and practically every scientific “fact” has bowed to new discoveries, here we have a scientist implying that *NOW* we can be sure. The problem is, Neil’s comment suggests he is unaware of the most elementary observation a scientific-minded critical thinker can make: How many “objective” truths of the past are in the scientific dustbin of the present?
I’m with Neil, in a sense: I embrace objective truths. I just think it’s unscientific and irresponsible to imply that today’s “age of the Earth” is among them. Haven’t we learned from the past?
Think critically, people. Question all self-proclaimed experts.

Lack Of Love For Man: Serious Trouble!

February 20, 2013

May we all take this to heart:

“A serious trouble with many who are engaged in Christian work is their lack of love for man, their lack of esteem for man, their failure to realize the value of man in God’s sight… God is the Creator of all men, and no person is fit to be His servant who dislikes or despises any one of them.”

—Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Worker, pp. 33-34

Whodathunk? A Religious Claim, Supported By Science!

February 19, 2013

From Yahoo News: Subatomic Calculations Indicate Finite Lifespan for Universe. This ties in perfectly with yesterday’s criticism of JT Eberhard’s “Redefining Truth” schtick.
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