Wednesday, June 1, 2011

god = God Ontology Debate

The stated purpose of this blog is to discover some useful elements of religion, and then rinse the taint of religion off them. There are many people who effectively address the basic philosophical questions concerning the existence of a theist god. The questions themselves have been addressed so many times that for each one of the questions any moderately-inquiring person can find a multitude of adequate responses. Regardless of the robustness of the responses to theism the questions persist. The typical interchange between the augmentative theist and an indulgent atheist follows a predictable path:

  1. The theist, after disparaging atheists for something (or everything), produces their “clever” argument
  2. The atheist categorizes the argument.
  3. The atheist refutes the argument.
  4. The theist responds by pointing out that they have a different argument that is not refuted by the atheist’s refutation of their original argument.

This gets tiresome quickly, and is best left for those with stronger constitutions than mine. Unfortunately this exchange is also an attractor for many other interchanges between theists and reason. Once the idea of god is peeled away from a something the question of the existence of god becomes more important than the original thing. The fantasies of creator, created, divinity, and spiritual precedence raise questions about the mere existence of original thing. God and original thing become part of a tautological whirlpool spinning into a circular logic where god and everything must co-exist because…well…they just have to.

Science is some kind of cosmic apple juice from the Garden of Eden. Those who drink of it are doomed to carry the burden of original sin.” -- Lewis Branscomb

This is one of the great reasons why religiosity musty be scraped off of modern civilization; it is only because people are involved in making the arguments, and people are intrinsically worthwhile (for the most part), that we should pay this special attention to the sticky residue traditionally left behind by religion. We can distil the atheist’s moral imperative in the statement: “you, not your argument, are worthwhile”. This leads inevitably to the fact that some people (spouses, parents, authority figures, …) are more worthy of special consideration than others.

Some types of argument for god’s existence, like the wildly popular “convert or die” argument, are extremely convincing, and no refutation based solely on rhetorical logic is possible. The suicide-vest version of this argument class seems to make the news every-other day. We need to make it clear that there is no need in modern civilization for any theist to resort to this type of argument.

Others classes of argument spin themselves into such a tight circle that I’m not sure where they start. One such argument type is the “fine-tuning” argument.

Every once in a while, usually during a bout of evangelical atheism, I am personally confronted by the God Ontology Debate. Since the person bringing up the GOD here is the focus of my conversion efforts it is dismissively patronizing to simply say: “Go read Dawkins”; or if I am feeling puckish: “Go read Hitchens”. I am stuck directly responding. I have decided to write down a couple responses to the more common (or annoying) GODs so I can say: “I wrote down a few thoughts on that...here why don’t you go read it”. Although this might be dismissive I hope, since I am the one personally writing the stuff down, that it is not overly patronizing.

"The most original sin is not the thinker's but the poet's." -- Jose Bergamin

A little while ago I wrote up a response to “Pascal’s Wager”. In a few days I will put up my thoughts on the “Fine-Tuning Argument”.

Then I may leave the arguments alone for a while.


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