Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Thoughts on mental masturbation

So says the mysterious Jason (profile not public) in a post on DC:

It's not that I'm trying to talk past you. It's just that I find that philosophical arguments only take you so far. It gets to a point when it becomes an exercise in mental masturbation. At some point were going to have to cease convincing ourselves, and each other, as to how we can out wit one another with clever arguments and deal with hard core data.

I'm a little concerned that he described his data as "hard core" here, but let's leave that aside for now.

Jason seems to disparage philosophy here because it is a type of sleight of hand that waves away real evidence for formulated arguments. This is typical, to me, of the neo-positivist atheist crowd, this constant call for evidence. The problem is that evidence in a vacuum is meaningless. Let me give an example:

Penzias and Wilson discovered a weird phenomenon in the universe in 1964. They observed a lot of radiation in the universe that shouldn't really be there. It came famously to be called "cosmic background radiation." That is all they found. They didn't find the Big Bang, a singularity, quantum cosmology, or the cosmological argument. Everything else is an extrapolation from the evidence. That is what we do, otherwise all of this "learning" would be meaningless. We have to make connections and find patterns in the data.

And the way we do that is with philosophy. So it bothers me to hear sketptics claim "evidence" as if there were no need to put it together. They put together arguments against Christianity using philosophy. It is unavoidable.

But I have a theory here. Dawkins, the original high priest of the "Brights" isn't a very good philosopher. TGD has a lot of rhetoric but not a lot of well-reasoned arguments (eg. his centerpiece: Who designed the designer?). This movement is heavy on scientism, but ignorant of the move from postivism that occurred 50 YEARS AGO. Ayers himself rejected it. Relativism is probably one of the most dominant views today, and it is philosophically grounded (even though I'm not a relativist). So calling an existentialist or subjectivist "schizo" or "irrational" just shows a lack of either decorum or (gasp) knowledge of how we actually think.

The truth is that we all stroke our worldviews, and our egos as well in these forums. But if you don't like the implications of an argument, then attack one of it's premises. It's just not becoming of a wannabe to ignore a "hard core" argument.

Raison d'etre

This is the reason that I wanted to start this blog. BarefootBum stated this in a post on Debunking Christianity:

"Dr." Groothuis mentions the cosmological argument and the argument from design. These arguments are jokes. Dawkins mentions both in The God Delusion, and I was able to refute them within the first six months I studied philosophy. This sort of incompetence is inexcusable for someone who puts "Dr." in front of his name, unless that doctor is treating my bunions.

BB is sooooooooooooo smart, and so are all of us here on the biblioblog sphere. He's so smart that he can tell who really is a doctor, and who isn't. He should be on an advisory board somewhere. But when I look at his profile, he is an "amateur philosopher." What???? How can someone with such authority only be an "amateur."

I think that all of us blog because we just want to show how smart we are, even though we don't have the letters behind our names. That's why we always sound so confident, no matter what side we are on. And why we can label each other. On BB's blog his favorite tag seems to be "egregious stupidity."

So I want to expose some of the bluster on both sides here, but of course I'm going to be more generous to Christian posters. I'll comment on comments, but probably not put up a lot of original arguments. I just wanna start something.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I gave in...

I resisted blogging for a long time, but I've had so much fun arguing with people on the biblioblog sphere that I felt I needed to start one. I guess the Outsider Test for Blogging (OTB) was too strong for my feeble mind.

I'm going to try to comment on other pieces and comments that I come across, so there won't be a lot of original argument making here, just stone throwing. It's a lot more fun. And hopefully it gets some traffic.