Monday, February 20, 2012

The Reason Rally and True Reason

On March 24th, 2012, a large event will take place in Washington DC called the Reason Rally. The purpose of this event is to promote the naturalistic (atheistic) worldview as being not only compatible with but demanded by reason. Speakers at the rally will include Dr. Richard Dawkins and Dr. Lawrence Krauss. Both offer passionate arguments against religion and are sure to fire up the crowd.

As many Christians are aware, their worldview offers an understanding of the world that is not only reasoned through carefully but can explain much more of reality than can the naturalistic worldview. Christian apologist William Lane Craig offered a philosophical and scientific critique of Dawkins' book "The God Delusion" that can be found here. Craig also debated Krauss here.

There will be a Christian presence at the rally that will offer reasoned responses to the ideas and challenges that are proposed. They will be offering both positive arguments for the truth of Christianity and negative arguments against the truth of the naturalistic worldview (see my post on the importance of offering both positive and negative arguments here). I state this explicitly because the only arguments atheists (including Dawkins and Krauss) tend to offer are negative against religion (in general). They do not offer positive arguments for their atheism (atheism is assumed to be the default position if "religion" is argued to be inconsistent with reality or "evil"), nor do they address claims of specific religions. The web site for this coordinated Christian presence and response can be found at http://www.truereason.org/. The Christian Apologetics Alliance will also be publishing a book in response to the rally in early March.


I noticed that an atheist posted to Reddit one of the blog posts promoting True Reason. What caught me as interesting is the question that (s)he asked follow atheists: "Can we all agree to treat them with the civility and humility that fellow humans deserve?" (emphasis mine). Please notice that the question assumes that humans have intrinsic value. If they didn't, then there would be no reason to claim that humans deserve civility and humility. On the atheist worldview, man is just as valuable as any other form of life (or non-life too). If man has evolved from other life-forms, value must have evolved at some point or been intrinsic with the original life-form. Unfortunately, value is metaphysical; it is not a physical attribute that could evolve or exist in a naturalistic world. The atheist must borrow from the Christian worldview in order to make the claim that humans actually possess intrinsic value. This is the true irony of the idea of a "reason" rally for atheism. If they were truly being reasonable, they would assert that humans have just as much value as anything and everything else. If they want to ascribe intrinsic value to humanity, they must ascribe it to everyone(thing) else. I address this issue in more detail in my post on the logical problem with the idea "human equality" in the naturalistic worldview- Martin Luther King Jr. vs. Evolution

For more resources that offer reasonable responses to the claims of naturalists, please see My Favorite Apologetics and Theology Websites section in the right column of this blog.

Here are other posts regarding the Reason Rally:

The Reason Rally and the Westboro Invitation- Carson  Weitnauer
Reason Rally: Secular "Values" and Reason- Greg Reeves
Is Reason Reasonable?- Ratio Christi
Reason Rally 2012- Glenn Peoples
Come to the Reason Rally!- Tom Gilson
The Reason Rally and Reasonable Faith in an Uncertain World- Mikel Del Rosario
The Reason Rally- Carson Weitnauer
A Brief Word on the Reason Rally- Austin Gravely
Reason Rally- Stephen McAndrew
Reason Rally 2012- Christina Szymanski

8 comments:

  1. As an atheist, I welcome you to the Reason Rally. However, I do find it bemusing that you would waste money that could be used to help people to bother the rally's attendees with the same nonsense we've already considered and rejected. If you would do some internet searching, you can see that to be the case, that all your apologetics have failed, especially WLC's claims. Oh and human life can hve a value without any magical god to bestow it. We don't have to have your god or Allah, or Vishnu or Tezcatlipoca to care about our fellow humans. If this is the best argument you have, you really should give the rally a miss. The mouths of the lions won't be sealed per your myth there.

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    1. @clubschadenfreude
      Thank you for taking the time to post your comment. You state:

      "Human life can hve a value without any magical god to bestow it."

      Are you talking about objective or subjective value? If the latter, then I agree with you, but subjective value is all that can be found in atheism, and there exists no reason for some one to say that the "bad" treatment of another human is wrong. If the former, this is an assertion that requires some support. Do you wish to defend that position?

      Regarding the need to believe in God to act moral, please visit this post: Can We Be Good Without God?

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  2. "Unfortunately, value is metaphysical; it is not a physical attribute that could evolve or exist in a naturalistic world."

    A sense of equality, empathy, and various other natural phenomenon that implicate the idea of the Golden Rule (present in almost every religion in human society) demonstrate the natural evolution of equality; human societies that respect one another and work together survive better than those who don't.

    This was true for thousands of years before the resident Caananites in Israel decided to create mythologies surrounding El and stop worshiping Baal and Ashera. You don't get to come along and claim that natural human tendencies like empathy and respect are "borrowed from the Christian worldview"

    That would be like me claiming that I'm an atheist and I invented the lightbulb, despite the fact that it has already been invented. God should have started speaking to the Israelites before 950 BC if he wanted to get in on a piece of the empathy pie.

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    1. @CoffeeShopAtheist
      Thank you for your comment. I want to state that I would have no problem accepting what you are saying if it weren't for one point that is often missed about the Christian worldview. God did not begin speaking to man with Israel. He began at the creation of mankind. He also reiterated his law to Noah when humanity went through a bottleneck. God's law was passed down from the first humans and communicated to their offspring. Thus a mechanism exists for it to be present in all cultures prior to the official recording of the details of God's law. God not only "got in on a piece of the empathy pie", He is the source of the empathy pie.

      Keep in mind that I am not saying that an atheist must borrow from the Christian worldview in order to be empathetic or respectful. I am saying that without intrinsic value on the subject, there is no objective reason for one to choose respect over ridicule or empathy over indifference when acting towards another human being. We can appeal to the flourishing or survival of humanity, but that assumes that humanity flourishing or surviving is, itself, an objective moral good. There must be a foundation for coming to that conclusion, and naturalism cannot account for such a foundation.

      Again, we can agree that it IS good. But Christianity has an objective foundation for making the claim, where as naturalism does not.

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  3. Humans have mirror neurons. This is why every man in the world cringes when another man gets hit in the nethers. Morality started like this:

    "Hey! I don't want to die! I like being alive! Tell you what...if you agree not to kill me, I won't kill you either."

    Followed by:

    "Hey! I've got stuff! I like having stuff! Tell you what...if you agree not to take my stuff, I'll agree not to take your stuff."

    And so on. Morality is a hallmark of a social species where the survival of the individual is dependent on the survival of the society that the individual is a part of. The fact that so many in our society are completely unethical, trying to get away with whatever they can get away with, that renders the idea of morality as an ideal, something that humans have set up to keep the little people in line. There is nothing mystical about it. Theists assert that all of this is due to some mystical eternal being but all they have to offer are myths starting with the idea that the Bible is the infallible word of that being. When the premise is unprovable then what follows is mere conjecture with little practical value. You may say that the "Big Bang Theory" is the same thing and you may be right...though there is evidence for it...but no one is flying planes into buildings, mutilating the genitalia of children or withholding health care from people in the name of the Big Bang Theory.

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    1. An Atheist,
      Thank you for your comment. Do you believe that you have shown how objective morality is grounded in society, or that you have shown that morality is indistinguishable from a social contract?

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    2. I'm not sure what An Atheist means, but it seems to me that neither of those is the argument he makes. The way I see it, he is outlining an atheistic perspective of the origin of morality, heavily simplified, of course, but still potentially accurate. It is possible that even animals may be described as following a code of morality. You will never see a predator kill for fun; whether this is because they don't understand the concept of fun is up in the air, BUT the apparent "laws" that are followed by animals have done a much better job of being sustainable - and protecting the earth - than the organized codes that humans have come up with

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    3. Itarion, I'm not sure what An Atheist is contending for either. That's why I asked. Let's wait to see what he says...if there is a third option that he actually means, I'm sure he'll let us know. :)

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