In my experience of discussing the question of God with people, there seems to be a recurring attitude that I often encounter among atheists that I think deserves some scrutiny, for I regard it as a mental sand trap that can hang people up and prevent them from having a forthright discussion about God’s existence. Now, I am not at all generalizing here in saying (or even implying) that all atheists fall into this trap, and whether it is a trap at all would have to be determined on the merits of my points that follow — I could, after all, be completely mistaken. But, if we value candid discussion here (which I hope we do), we have to start somewhere. So here we go.
Hello Readers! Hope everyone had a good Christmas.
When discussing the existence of God, the realms of evidence to be considered quite literally span the gamut of possible disciplines; there’s applicable information to be considered everywhere, from cosmology to history to philosophy to mathematics.
Most every great thinker I’ve heard on the subject, whether they be for or against the existence of the Almighty, usually specialize in one discipline: Dawkins in biology, Lennox in mathematics, Ehrman and Habermas in history, etc. So it got me curious which specialties were more common among the readers of this blog. (I’m a philosophy guy myself.)
Feel free to weigh in on the poll below — and, as always, your comments are most welcome!
I’d like to conclude (for now) the discussion on scientism. (If you wish, you may read Part 1 or Part 2.) Pending any objections, I think a solid case has been made that, for those who wish to take seriously the debate about God’s existence, relying solely on scientific evidence isn’t going to cut the mustard; there must be a place for non-scientific, subjective evidence to play a part in the discussion. And, from that point, I’d like to discuss the question left unanswered from the last post:
What does subjective evidence tell us about the existence of God?
Merry Christmas, one and all! Thought I’d post something quick and light today to have a break from the weightiness of the discussion on scientism.
I’ve had a cold the past couple days, and being not much use on my feet I felt a jones for classic movies. So I watched most of Citizen Kane (am I a Philistine that I don’t see what’s so great about it?) and 12 Angry Men. The latter, in my opinion, is one of the best movies ever made: If you haven’t seen it, get your hands on it ASAP and give it a watch — and if you have seen it, get your hands on it and watch it again. Great movie. (Some spoilers follow for those who haven’t seen it.)
We left the discussion in Part 1 in a difficult position, I think:
- There are two types of information: objective (scientific) and subjective (non-scientific).
- Objective information is, on the whole, much more reliable — but because of its limited scope, it cannot tell us definitively whether God exists or not.
- If we wish to explore seriously the question of God’s existence (which means we must go beyond the bounds of science), then we are left only with subjective evidence, which is, as a rule, less reliable than objective evidence.
What, then, are we to do?
I wanted to start the ball rolling by discussing a philosophy that, in my experience, tends to stymie the discussion about the existence of God — and that is scientism.
The way I see it, scientism is a sort of “silent killer” of robust theological discussion, because it’s a bias that seems often to be taken for granted as being true — and, as such, tends to float under the radar, eluding the kind of direct scrutiny that I believe it deserves. Those that hold to it often don’t seem to recognize that they have, in fact, adopted a theoretical world-view, but instead seem to view it as a self-evident truth — and this, I think, makes it difficult for such a one to have real, meaningful discussions about God. I am generally distrustful of any philosophy that inherently and automatically discounts competing philosophies out of hand — and scientism, I believe, is one such philosophy.
My name is Seth, and I’m a recovering intellectual.
I say intellectual not because I consider myself intelligent, but rather to describe my typical approach when interacting with the world. I am most comfortable in situations that can be understood and resolved intellectually. My knee-jerk reaction is usually to attempt to rationalize, analyze, and deduce.
I say recovering because I have come to realize that this approach is not always the most appropriate. (more…)