Monthly Archives: February 2014

Book Plunge: A Manual For Creating Atheists

Part of the reason I didn’t write a review on the blog for Peter Boghossian’s A Manual for Creating Atheists is because I knew that my reaction was the same as most Christians who are informed in matters of faith and philosophy. Sure enough, Nick Peters wrote the exact review that I wanted to.

Deeper Waters

Manualforcreatingatheists

What do I think of Peter Boghossian’s book on creating atheists? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Boghossian’s book in the past month or so has been the subject of great conversation on the internet. Why is this the case? Is it because there’s a new argument in here? No. There’s nothing new. Is it because there’s a really powerful demonstration of atheism in here? No. That’s not here also. It’s because now, Boghossian claims to have a way to apply principles of critical thinking and train others in them so that they can become “street epistemologists” with the goal of deconverting others.

Unfortunately, what I’ve seen is that these epistemologists are thoroughly unequipped for the job, and it’s no surprise because the apple has not fallen far from the tree.

And yet at the same time, I found great confirmation for so much of what I’ve been saying…

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Is the Bible Imperfect, or Was God Unable to Create it Perfect?

Dave, an atheist on Twitter, was arguing with Man-E, a Christian who blogs here.  The subjects were many, but one thread had to do with inspiration.  Dave poses this seemingly unanswerable question:

This is what we in the business call a “false dichotomy.”  The reason?  A serious misunderstanding of divine inspiration.

God is not a suit-and-tie executive and the 40+ authors of Scripture weren’t beleaguered secretaries trying to take dictation.  It was, unfortunately, a little less precise.

It was more like God gave an author an idea, and left that author to write his own expression of that idea.  So the essence of what the Scripture reports is perfect, but the method of that expression is fallible since it was man who committed it to writing.

To complicate matters, we have copies of copies of copies.  While these have proven very reliable as we uncover older and older copies, some variants have creeped in and that hampers us.  Further complicating it is the cultural gap that exists between the ancient Israelites of the second millennium BC or the early Christians of 2000 years ago, and the average 21st century citizen.

So what we have is that God is capable of creating a perfect Bible.  However, the task of writing the law was given to man and the task of preserving and teaching the Word of the Lord also to man.  The textual variants, the cultural gaps, and all of the other barriers to understanding that Word are man-made, but not insurmountable.

To overcome it, you either need to roll up your sleeves and study ancient culture and customs.  Or crack open a good Bible commentary.  I personally have a concise commentary and a Bible dictionary, both of which help me understand things in the Bible that aren’t immediately clear.  There’s even an online Bible, the NET Bible, which helps with translating the ancient languages (in case that question ever pops up; but unless you blog on apologetics it rarely will).

If you’re not the solitary, bookworm type, there are people that have studied ancient culture and customs and own those resources I mentioned.  They might even have better ones than I do!  The Bible, in fact, mentions that not everyone is called to be a pastor or teacher (see 1 Cor 12, esp vv. 27-31) — and it is only through using all of our spiritual gifts as a body that we can grow and prosper.

To me, Dave is neither making an argument, nor a very good point within the context of a larger argument.  All Dave is doing is whining that God expects him to work to understand things.  And who wants that?

I think J.P. Holding is on to something here:

Defeating Religion in One Easy Step, part 4

Part 4 — Explanatory Scope

Luke Muehlhauser, the proprietor of Common Sense Atheism, has proposed that we can defeat religions in one easy step.  To do so, he takes a broad look at different arguments for God and notices what they all have in common: They all posit God as the best explanation for something.

Luke identifies the following four criteria for a good explanation:

  1. It’s testable and it passes the tests we give it.
  2. It’s consistent with our background knowledge and experience.  (What philosopher Tom Morris called The Principle of Belief Conservation).
  3. It’s simpler than the alternatives.
  4. It has good explanatory scope — in other words, it explains a wide variety of data.

I’ve already argued that God creates a testable hypothesis and that this hypothesis passes that test.  I also argued that God doesn’t violate Morris’s Principle of Belief Conservation.  Yesterday, I argued that God’s own complexity doesn’t mean he isn’t a simple explanation.  Today, I will talk about the explanatory scope of God and make my concluding remarks. Read the rest of this entry

Defeating Religion in One Easy Step, part 3

Part 3 — Simplicity

Luke Muehlhauser, the proprietor of Common Sense Atheism, has proposed that we can defeat religions in one easy step.  To do so, he takes a broad look at different arguments for God and notices what they all have in common: They all posit God as the best explanation for something.

Luke identifies the following four criteria for a good explanation:

  1. It’s testable and it passes the tests we give it.
  2. It’s consistent with our background knowledge and experience.  (What philosopher Tom Morris called The Principle of Belief Conservation).
  3. It’s simpler than the alternatives.
  4. It has good explanatory scope — in other words, it explains a wide variety of data.

I’ve argued that God creates a testable hypothesis and that this hypothesis passes that test.  Yesterday, I argued that God doesn’t violate Morris’s Principle of Belief Conservation.  Today, let’s find out if God, as an explanation, is too complex. Read the rest of this entry