Saturday, November 27, 2010

Peotillomania

"Hitchens Beats Blair in Religion Debate." Well, I guess that settles that! Let's get God's tombstone ready! Oh, wait, what? You say Hitchens himself was "sorely defeated" by "the most fearsome and effective" (or is that "interesting but stupid"?) William Lane Craig? And Richard Dawkins is rude? Is that a point for God or for Jesus? Who's keeping score?

I said before that two years of debate class, along with philosophy, made school worthwhile for me. Arguments can certainly be fun and informative. But I swear by the severed schlong of Osiris, I don't understand why cheerleaders for either side put so much stock in these debates. We've all seen examples of clever sophists getting the rhetorical better of someone who doesn't excel at having to think on their feet, and while I don't agree with the old saw about not being able to reason someone out of a position they didn't reason their way into in the first place, it is true that most believers, even if backed into a logical corner, will toss the old "gut faith" smoke grenade and make their getaway.

I went through a very brief phase of reading these sorts of pro-and-con arguments over God's existence, but the sudden onset of narcolepsy put an end to that. Not to mention my conviction that in the absence of any sort of immortal soul, the Big Fella's existence or lack thereof is rendered irrelevant.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I almost didn't look up the definition of peotillomania but I'm so glad I did. ;-)

noel said...

It means "post-pubescent male", no?

noel said...

Been wrangling a bit with Nathan Schneider of killingthebuddha that you linked. I think I totally convinced him to become an atheist. I mean, that's what should have happened, if you ask me. Actually, he pretty much ignored my main point, which was that the more rigorous a proof of God's existence is, the less personal or defined the God. A First Cause ain't necessarily listening to prayers.

The Vile Scribbler said...

Droll Noel strikes again!

The Vile Scribbler said...

...we only know something is good because we measure its goodness against a pure goodness which is most good of all.

We can go on all day piling up superlatives about the goodiest goodness that has ever goody-gooded, but we only understand the concept of goodness in relation to its opposite. It's meaningless to talk about a "pure" goodness, eternal and unchanging.

3. Therefore, there must be a being which is perfectly good.

A being? Uh, no. We might be able to have a concept of perfect goodness, but that's not the same thing as goodness being embodied.

I had to force myself to keep reading past the bit about the "historicity of the resurrection" and the "veracity of the Bible".

noel said...

So many holes in so many arguments. Intelligent Christians seem to realize they're fighting a losing battle when they present these arguments, but they continue anyway. I actually prefer the "God is known to me by personal experiences" approach. Then I can say, "Yeah, I get that too. But I took a lot of acid in the eighties so I don't expect anyone else to believe me."

The Vile Scribbler said...

A good friend of mine studied briefly at Liberty U., Falwell's school, before moving on to Purdue. He's one of those who learned to read Greek and Aramaic to study the original texts; he and his wife have thought about joining a movement called the New Monastics. In up to his eyeballs, is what I'm saying.

Anyway, he would often ask me to talk about this stuff with him, but I always weaseled my way out of it. I'd say, look -- most Christians, if they have any intellectual reasons at all for their belief, accept one of the big three: cosmological, ontological, argument from design. If you point out that all three have had the shit kicked out of them repeatedly for centuries, they might feel consternation for a moment, then they'll just shrug and go back to accepting on faith. The rest of this wankery only matters to religious intellectuals and has no bearing on anyone's personal experience. Basic empirical facts undermine the most elaborate rationalizations, so thanks, but no thanks.

I can respect people who are content to just believe without evidence, too (as long as they don't preach, then) -- it's supposed to be about faith anyway, is it not? If you had solid reasons for believing, what would be the need for faith?

The Vile Scribbler said...

Also, Ebonmuse has had a few criticisms of Craig's apologetics you might enjoy reading.