Saturday, March 24, 2012

Matt McCormick on Hallucinations

This is a pretty interesting article on the commonality of hallucinatory experiences. Keep this in mind next time you hear an angel story from Moreland or a Ghost story from Habermas.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What makes an Atheist a "New Atheist"

I've been rather antagonistic about the "New Atheist" movement ever since I made this blog. However, I read an interesting post by Chris Hallquist here that criticises my approach, and of which I largely agree with. He argues (rather succinctly) that there is no real difference between a regular Atheist and a "New Atheist", and that therefore the term "new atheist" is meaningless. For instance, is a New Atheist an atheist that is antagonistic to organised Religion? If this is the case, "New Atheism" certainly isn't very new. Does it refer to Atheists that are unknowledgeable of the Religions they critique? Because I cannot envision a world in which everyone knows everything about every Religion. Who the hell has that much time to spare anyways.

I usually thought of a "New Atheist" as being someone who satisfied a two part criterion; Firstly, they criticise religion without having a sufficient knowledge of that Religion; and secondly, they are unnecessarily antagonistic towards it. However, both these points beg the question. How can one define exactly how much is "enough", anyways? A critique that works for one Religion or sect will clearly not work for another. So, does one have to know everything about all religions in order to be able to critique it? We have the same problem when it comes to defining "unnecessarily". Plus, since when was an ideas truthfulness contingent on how well it was delivered. This reminds me on an ironic quote from Neitzsche:

"We often refuse to accept an idea merely because the tone of voice in which it has been expressed is unsympathetic to us"

It seems like the term "New Atheist" is best understood as an "us VS them" term. At least from an apologetic perspective. Of course, there will always be atheists who are crackpots, much like there are Theists like Norman Geisler. But do these individuals really need a special label? Maybe Theists want to make atheists look as potentially irrational as they are. I mean, there are many modern examples of supernatural beliefs causing pain and death, but are there any examples of secular beliefs that can do the same? This whole thing really reminds me of an episode of South Park called "Go God Go", where Atheists fight amongst each other in the future over what to call themselves. Perhaps it's this type of mentality that leads to the "New Atheist" caricatures we see today.

At any rate, I'm going to put less effort on criticising new atheists, and more on actual arguments for the existence of God.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The dark of the moon

In my view, there are three common types of Religious believers. There are those who say "the moon is green and there is nothing you can do to change my mind"; those that say "the moon is green, but it appears white due to a clever magical illusion"; and finally those that say "the moon is green- metaphorically, although in reality it is actually white". The first type of Religious believers will just flat out deny any evidence you give them, like Norman Geisler. The third group, on the other hand, will quite literally be atheists in disguise, like John Dom Crosson. And the second option, which seems most popular amongst Religious people, just looks like compartmentalization to most Atheists. I'm not saying Theism is irrational- but one can see why one might see things that way.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The strangest thing I've seen in a while...

This is just surreal. Bob Larson, the exorcist guy, saying that Magic underwear is superstitous?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

New Atheism is not a Cult

You know, I usually don't get myself caught up in the politics of the atheist movement, but this article just pissed me off. Written by the supposedly agnostic Bryan Appleyard, it attacks the New Atheist movement, going as far as to call it a cult. Now, anyone who has read my blog knows my opinion towards Dawkins and co. They are good talkers, but less than impressive Theologians. Furthermore, I have had run-ins with "New Atheist" types before, and their ignorance is staggering. But to call the New Atheism a cult? What does he even mean by a cult anyways? Something like the Jim Jones movement? Because I seriously doubt that New Atheism is ever going to have its own Jonestown.

But enough about that. I agree with him that the New Atheist movement is embarrassing- even if I find it much less embarrassing. Where we differ a lot, however, is in why we find it embarrassing. I find the new atheism embarrassing primarily since it endorses Jesus Mythicism. Many notable New Atheists  hold that mythicism is either true or likely true, like Dan Barker, Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers and the late Christopher Hitchens. Many of them never even bothered reading respectable secular historians like the ever popular Bart Ehrman. Another thing that irritates me is that the New Atheists criticise Philosophy without even remotely adequate knowledge of it. Now, I am not saying that they have to learn Philosophy in order to be responsible Atheists. That's just absurd. What I am saying, however, is that they should only critique it if they know it. It's like me rating a film one star out of five without even watching it. My rating of the film would be worthless.

Appleyard, on the other hand, just hates the tone of their voice. That's it. He hates them because they are mean and they poo poo the ideas of non New Atheists. I still don't see the resemblance to Jonestown. Sorry, but the New Atheists are not planning to exterminate Religious people. Yes, they want you to convert- but they don't want your bodies in a concentration camp. Besides, its not like their the only group that wants you to join them. Ever heard of the Mormons? The only serious offense the New Atheists committed was sending hate mail and death threats to Alain De Botton for his atheist church idea. And, although I find it embarrassing, I couldn't help but remember that Dawkins gets hatemail as well. In my view, the New Atheism is comparable to an ordinary Religion- but not a cult. And if Appleyard wants to defend the rationality of Religion but irrationality of the New Atheism, he will need to sow how they are actually different.

Oh yeah, and he also goes into a rant over how Communism was Atheisms fault, and how Darwinism is false, and a bunch of other shit nobody takes seriously. The Communism thing is absurd, considering that Communism was based off of Lamarkian Evolution, not Darwinian Evolution. But I'm not even going there. If he wants to bitch about Communism and Evolution, maybe he'd find the likes of Dinnish Desouza interesting. Communism and Evolution are non issues most professional Atheists rarely ever think about. If were gonna complain about the New Atheists, lets at least use real issues, like that they undermine Philosophy and NT Scholarship.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012