Over at OzAtheist, yet another apologist is telling me how in the absence of God-belief I have no basis for morality

13 11 2008

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, two men soaked in God-belief sprayed acid on two schoolgirls.


And in Somalia, 50 men soaked in God-belief buried a 13-year-old girl up to her neck and threw rocks at her head until she was dead. This occurred in a stadium in front of about 1000 god-soaked spectators. Her crime? She had been gang-raped by three men while traveling on foot to see her grandmother, and attempted to report the incident to the local authorities . . . the local authorities being the Islamist al-Shabab militia. They promptly accused her of adultery, and she was sentenced to death in a Sharia court.]

Link to the OzAtheist post, if you’re interested.

Have I spotted a flaw in Christopher Hitchens’ challenge?

20 08 2008

(In which I blatantly steal content from OzAtheist’s Weblog, in lieu of having anything original to write about.)

If you’ve ever listened to Christopher Hitchens in debate or discussion on matters religious in the time since he published God Is Not Great, you’ll be familiar with the challenge he invariably poses to his theist antagonists:

Name one ethical statement made, or one ethical action performed, by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever.
The second challenge. Can anyone think of a wicked statement made, or an evil action performed, precisely because of religious faith?

The second question is easy to answer, is it not? The first awaits a convincing reply.

It strikes me that there are two problems with Hitchens’ challenge, and they are kind of interrelated. Read the rest of this entry »

Let a thousand atheist flowers bloom . . .

3 02 2008

The MySpace debacle ironically appears to be breathing new life into the formation of online atheist communities. At OzAtheist, Bruce plugged a new Adelaide-based atheist MySpace group. And (thanks to Protium for the hat-tip and the invite) I’d like plug a new Perth-based Atheists Meet-Up group.

Although I’m from Perth myself, the fact that I am based in Japan for the next year-and-a-half probably rules me out as a member, but if it is still operating when I get back home, I may consider attending. I say may, because I work in the education industry, and as you know, a large proportion of schools in Australia are in the independent sector. Which means they are allowed to discriminate against atheists. Wait . . . let me rephrase that. They’re partially taxpayer-funded, which means they are allowed to discriminate against me because of my atheism even though they benefit from my tax contributions. In any case, the reality of the situation is that, in a so-called liberal democracy, I have to keep mum about my lack of religious beliefs if I want to secure employment in many schools in the independent sector–even though my specialty, English teaching, has nothing to do with religion (at least, nothing to do with religious indoctrination). And the need to keep mum, unfortunately, may preclude me from joining communities such as the Perth Atheists Meet-Up.

But it won’t stop me from plugging it here, in the hope that other Perth-based readers may be encouraged to join.

Are there good arguments for the existence of deities/the supernatural that don’t require supporting evidence?

2 02 2008

At OzAtheist, Christopher asks:

If it could be shown, through logic, that God, as you both have defined him [or her, or it], exists then would that be considered sufficient reason to justify belief?

My response follows . . .

I should reiterate that I don’t think you can use logic as a source of truth about the world and the universe, and therefore I don’t think arguments that rely upon logic alone–that is, to the exclusion of evidence–could ever be considered sufficient reason to justify belief.

I’ve used the following example in a discussion with SS2 in another thread, but it bears repeating here. Let’s take President Bush’s famous 2001 statement “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists,” and restate it in logical terms: Read the rest of this entry »

At what point do we cast away Ockham’s Razor?

25 01 2008

OzAtheist poses a great question: “What would convince you that God is real?” I don’t want to steal his thunder, so I suggest commenting on his blog if you want to answer his question directly. But here is part of my contribution:

IMHO, answering the question “What would convince you that God/Jesus is real?”, from a non-theist point-of-view, implies answering at least the first two of the following:

1. Under what conditions is it reasonable to suspend methodological naturalism and parsimony in accounting for unexplained phenomena?
2. If there is an unexplained phenomenon in regard to which we must suspend methodological naturalism, why should “God did it” be considered the default explanation?
3. If there are conditions under which we must accept “God did it” as a viable explanation for a hitherto unexplained phenomenon, how do we know “God” = “The Christian God?”

Ratiosimilitude: A few thoughts on faith vs. reason

7 01 2008

Some of you, particularly the owner of the blog who by now must be getting sick and tired of the whole affair, may have been following my “debate?”/”discussion?” with a commenter by the name of Saved Sinner over at OzAtheist. Indeed, I don’t quite know how to describe the “exchange” (and not even that term seems to suffice), given that my interlocutor’s contributions are limited to repeating religious mantras and abstractions ad infinitum, imploring me to read his holy book, evading my simple requests to properly substantiate his religious truth-claims (i.e. without the use of religious dogma), and crying foul when such evasions as well as the flaws in his reasoning are pointed out to him. Furthermore, I am accused by Saved Sinner of ignoring the evidence he says he has provided in support of his religious dogma, even though the “evidence” in question consists entirely of the aforementioned religious mantras and holy book, and so cannot reasonably be accepted as good evidence. And when this is pointed out to Saved Sinner, it falls on deaf ears as he insists, mantra-like, that he has presented the evidence. Read the rest of this entry »