Saturday, November 13, 2010

Negating the Negations: My Objections to the Omniscience and Learning Argument

In his Omniscience and Learning argument Ryan Stringer attempts to prove that God doesn’t exist. The main thrust of the argument is that there is a contradiction in God’s omniscience since God wouldn’t be able to know what it is like learn since he has always known everything. My surface response to this argument is that, even in my atheist days I would have found this argument to be not very persuasive. It’s along the lines of can God create a rock so big that he can’t lift? These arguments just feel lame.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Are Prayers Answered?

In a recent post on his blog “Debunking Christianity” John Loftus shares a letter that he got from a concerned Christian friend. The letter and John’s response discus whether prayers are answered. John correctly responds that the Confirmation Bias is the main flaw in his friend’s argument that answered prayers are proof that God exists. The Confirmation Bias could mislead believers into thinking that their prayers have been answered. Given enough time and prayers they could be “answered” by chance. 

However, I think that John has a theological misunderstanding about prayer. God answers all payers with a yes, no or maybe later. John claims that his friend should be able to pray for and get anything if God exists and loves him. I think John is confused about who created whom. If man created an omnipotent God to do our bidding then we should expect that he would follow all of our orders, and that all of prayers would be answered with a yes. That’s not the case; God formed us so we could worship Him. Since God is omniscient, omnipotent and in control it is not reasonable to expect that John’s friend could pray that God make him the Supreme Dictator of the Universe and that everyone should bow down to him, and that his prayer would be answered with a yes. Just imagine the horrors of a genie like God! Osama Bin Laden could pray that the West be annihilated and the God/genie would snap his fingers and poof! The United States is gone. God knows what is best for us, that a new Lamborghini or that being the Supreme Dictator of the Universe is not good for us so he says no to these prayers, even though we may really want them to be answered.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Evolution of Man’s Best Friend

I enjoyed NOVA’s presentation of “Dog’s Decoded” last night. It showed an interesting sexual selection experiment where scientists selected unaggressive foxes and bred them together. After the eighth generation the foxes went from snapping at humans to acting friendly like dogs. Astoundingly, the foxes started to have lighter coats and curving tails just like dogs! There was also an interesting nature vs. nurture study where a wolf cub was raised like a dog. The study showed that you can’t nurture a tame wolf, and that dogs have been genetically created to be our companions.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Objections to the Santa Principle

On Matt McCormick’s blog "Atheism: Proving the Negative" he discusses the Santa principle which is an attempt to disprove the existence of God in addition to Santa and the Tooth Fairy. He writes:

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Stalemate

It is an incontrovertible fact that it is impossible to conclusively prove or disprove the existence of God. This means that New Atheists are just as dogmatic, illogical and faithful as the average church deacon. Should we all throw our hands up and become agnostics? I argue that the best thing to do is make the leap of faith given the plausibility of the Christian faith and the potential gains of making the leap.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Of Bedbugs and Theodicy

In Susan Jacoby’s column “Bedbugs and the theodicy problem” she asserts that the existence of bed bugs challenges the idea that a benevolent God exists. This is a variation on the problem of evil in that it asks why a loving God would create insects whose sole purpose seems to be making the lives of His created beings miserable. I have four objections to this argument:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Two Views of Reality

Pablo Picasso. Portrait of Dora Maar. Oil on Canvas. 1937
Attending the excellent Picasso exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum got me thinking about seeing multiple sides of things simultaneously. In several of Picasso’s paintings like “Portrait of Dora Maar” the viewer can simultaneously see the front and side of the subject. I feel the same way when it comes to interpreting events. The left over skeptical side of me says that agents act of their own accord and that natural events occur because they are impelled by Newtonian physics (or perhaps Quantum Mechanics). The newer Christian side of me says that sometimes God may intervene in the universe.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Disenchantment of the Postmodern World

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

A series of posts from the 13.7 blog got me thinking about the state of our postmodern world. Our whole perspective changed during the Industrial Revolution. Humanity went from struggling to provide enough food to survive to having an abundance of it. We no longer (for the most part) needed to obsess about survival. Leisure was born giving society at large more time to think and aspire to greater things.