God's Existence, Science and Faith, Suffering and Evil, Jesus' Resurrection, and Book Reviews

Showing posts with label Reason. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reason. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Norman Geisler- 10 Quotes on Logic and Christianity

Introduction

Over the years Dr. Norman Geisler has had a profound effect on the way that I think philosophically and theologically. Through his defenses of the Christian worldview (the essentials and nonessentials) in his numerous books and lectures I have been better equipped analyze views, defend the Gospel, and "worship the Father in spirit and in truth" (John 4)

One of the early books that set my path to being able to logically evaluate arguments was "Come, Let Us Reason" (click or tap the title for my full chapter-by-chapter review). In the book, he provides Christians with an introduction to logical thinking that will help them in identifying false claims (that may sound correct on the surface) and in defending true claims. I have compiled a few of my favorite quotes from that excellent book in this post. If you have not picked up a copy yet, I highly recommend that you do.


Why Do Christians Need Logic?- Logic and God

"Logic is a way to think so that we can come to correct conclusions by understanding implications and the mistakes people often make in thinking."

"From the standpoint of reality, we understand that God is the basis of all logic. As the ultimate reality, all truth is ultimately found in him. He has created the reality that we know and in which we have discovered the laws of logic. Even Jesus said, 'I am...the truth' (John 14:6). He has structured the world in such a way that these laws cannot be denied; however, we did not know God first and then learn logic from him. He exists as the basis of all logic (in reality), but we discovered logic first and came to know God through it. This is true even if we came to know God through his revelation, because we understand the revelation through logic. In the order of being. God is first; but in the order of knowing, logic leads us to all knowledge of God. God is the basis of all logic (in the order of being), but logic is the basis of all knowledge of God (in the order of knowing)."

Quote from book "Come Let Us Reason" by Norman Geisler: "From the standpoint of reality, we understand that God is the basis of all logic. As the ultimate reality, all truth is ultimately found in him. He has created the reality that we know and in which we have discovered the laws of logic. Even Jesus said, 'I am...the truth' (John 14:6). He has structured the world in such a way that these laws cannot be denied; however, we did not know God first and then learn logic from him. He exists as the basis of all logic (in reality), but we discovered logic first and came to know God through it. This is true even if we came to know God through his revelation, because we understand the revelation through logic. In the order of being. God is first; but in the order of knowing, logic leads us to all knowledge of God. God is the basis of all logic (in the order of being), but logic is the basis of all knowledge of God (in the order of knowing)." #Logic #Reason #Epistemology #Philosophy


"We use logic in the process of knowing God, but that does not mean that God came after logic in reality. without God, nothing could have existence. God is the basis of all logic in reality and he is in no way inferior to logic. Logic comes from God, not God from logic. But when it comes to how we know things, logic is the basis of all thought, and it must come before any thought about anything, including God. For example, I need a map before I can get to Washington, D.C. But Washington must exist before the map can help me get there. Even so, we use logic first to come to know God, but God exists first before we can know him."

"Unless valid inferences can be made from what is known to what is unknown, there can be no theological argumentation. Whether in a discussion between Christians on a matter of interpretation or in a debate with a non-Christian, no one could prove any point without the laws of rational inference."

How Do You Think Correctly?- Using Logic

"Using syllogisms is called deductive logic because it involves deducing particular conclusions from general statements. In inductive logic, we start with the particulars and reason to general principles. Deductive logic starts with the cause and reasons to the effect, while inductive logic starts with the effects and attempts to find the cause. That is why deductive reasoning is called a prior (prior to looking at the facts) and inductive reasoning is called a posteriori (after seeing the evidence). Syllogisms are more philosophical, and inductive arguments are more scientific. The biggest difference, though, is that deductive arguments yield necessary conclusions (that is, the conclusions are necessarily true if the premises are true and the inferences are valid), but inductive reasoning yields only probable conclusions. The conclusions might have a high degree of probability, but they are still not as certain as deductive conclusions."

"You may not know what the significance of some piece of information is, but you must note it in case it becomes important later. Even the smallest clue may change the whole direction of your understanding."

"Analogies can be used to present very strong and effective arguments, but analogies are good only when there are strong similarities and only nonessential differences between the things being compared."

Quote from "Come Let Us Reason" by Norman Geisler: "Analogies can be used to present very strong and effective arguments, but analogies are good only when there are strong similarities and only nonessential differences between the things being compared." #Logic #Reason #Analogy #Philosophy


How Can Thinking Go Wrong?- Fallacies In Logic

"Whenever there is controversy over an issue, the appeal to authority is weakened in direct proportion to the strength of the controversy...All appeals to authority ultimately rest on the evidence that the authority has. The only reason to quote an authority is that he knows the evidence better than we do. The letters after his name don't mean a thing without the evidence to back up his position."

"[Special pleading] is [a] way to make certain the opposing view doesn't get a fair shake. Here only the evidence that supports one view is cited, and the rest is left out...If there are ten studies that show your view to be false, ignore them and make a big point about the one that confirms your conclusion. Really, this argument counts on the listener to be ignorant of the facts. That way anything can be claimed, and no objection can be raised. However, if someone knows about the other ten studies, you're in trouble. This kind of argument can be torn apart easily if all the facts are made known."

Quote from "Come Let Us Reason" by Norman Geisler: "[Special pleading] is [a] way to make certain the opposing view doesn't get a fair shake. Here only the evidence that supports one view is cited, and the rest is left out...If there are ten studies that show your view to be false, ignore them and make a big point about the one that confirms your conclusion. Really, this argument counts on the listener to be ignorant of the facts. That way anything can be claimed, and no objection can be raised. However, if someone knows about the other ten studies, you're in trouble. This kind of argument can be torn apart easily if all the facts are made known." #Logic #Fallacy #SpecialPleading #Philosophy #Reason


"[No] view should be accepted on the basis of ignorance. That is no way to find truth! Let positive evidence be presented and evaluated for both sides, and the truth can be known...If a conclusion is false, it is only a matter of finding the fallacy or the untrue premises (or both)."

For more great quotes from Dr. Geisler on various other topics, see these posts:


Here are my chapter-by-chapter reviews of other books he (co)authored:

Monday, June 5, 2017

Book Review: Come Let Us Reason

Introduction

It is necessary that Christians be able to think properly. As we discuss our worldview with unbelievers and present arguments for God's existence and the resurrection of Jesus Christ it is necessary that we present sound arguments. It is also necessary that we be able to properly identify mistakes in arguments for other views so that the unsaved will see that their view is actually false and they need to change it. I read "Come Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking" many years ago, and it helped me greatly with being able to order my thoughts and identify incorrect thinking. This has helped me tremendously as I "tear down arguments against the knowledge of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5) and "provide a reason for the hope that I have" (1 Peter 3:15). I recently read the book again to refresh my memory and to write this review. As usual, the review will provide a chapter-by-chapter summary of the book's contents and conclude with my thoughts about the book.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Why Is The Image of God So Important?

The Image of God, Intrinsic Human Value , Free Will (the ability to choose other than what we do choose), Moral Responsibility (objective obligations and duties), and the ability to reason (possess knowledge). #Anthropology #Psychology #HumanOrigins

Introduction

Those who follow this blog are aware that I not only defend "mere" Christianity, but I also defend specifics in the Christian worldview. As I have written before, I believe that if a Christian is defending an incorrect detail of their worldview to a skeptic, that skeptic can easily use that incorrect detail as an excuse to reject the entire worldview (even though this is not logically reasonable). Over the last few years of interacting with fellow Christians regarding the details of our worldview, one of the doctrines that are not discussed explicitly very often, but other debates directly affect, is the doctrine of the Image of God. I have noticed that some positions in the other debates imply different views of the Image of God, and these different views of the Image of God can be used to test the positions in the other debates. But before I get into those debates, we need to know why this Judeo-Christian doctrine is so important in the first place.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Is Religion the Practice of Avoiding Truth?

Is religion the practice of avoiding truth? Is it a willful delusion? Is it blind faith? The naturalist must tread carefully if they wish to ask such questions.

Introduction

A month or so ago, I came across an interesting challenge to Christianity. A skeptic told me that religion was an exercise in avoiding truth- a willful delusion. He observed that many Christians (and religious people, in general) tend to believe the claims of their "holy" books over what has been discovered about nature, history, or the very nature of reality. He noticed that many religious people have a precommitment to a particular understanding of the world and no amount of evidence provided will persuade them otherwise. He, as an intellectual, does not want to make this same mistake. In this post, I want to explore the possibility that he is making the same mistake based upon the philosophical foundations of the claim he makes for rejecting religion, and Christianity specifically. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

5 Threats Of Demanding Certainty To Change Your Beliefs

Introduction
With the continual exposure to scientific, historical, and philosophical evidence for God's existence, I am continually reminded of just how strong the case for God is, in general, and the truth of Christianity specifically. Often times I wonder how someone can have enough faith to be an atheist. It is often claimed by skeptics of God's existence, and specifically the intelligent design argument, that it is best to not conclude the necessity of a designer until all naturalistic possibilities have been exhausted. This seems to provide a safe, reasonable haven for the skeptic faced with the evidence. But is it really reasonable and thus, safe? What are the implications of this claim? I want to take a few minutes to examine the reasonableness of this escape route.

There exists three possible explanations for natural phenomena: chance, necessity, and design. If chance and necessity are eliminated, then there is no other option except design. The skeptic's claim reacts to the design proponents' attempts to rule out chance. As long as humanity does not reach omniscience and research continues, the appeal to what we do not yet know prevents us from being certain that the decision to remove chance from the table of options is correct. While this does seem to make sense, five threatening implications do come to mind that should make us question its reasonableness.

The Threat to Everyday Decisions
First, certainty of the accuracy of our decisions is rarely obtained prior to the decision and less often demanded before making a decision. Most decisions that we will make affect the future in some way. Because we do not know all the current events that will intersect with our decision, we cannot be certain that our decision is the right one. However, it is rare that the lack of certainty will prevent us from making a decision. Most of the time we will base our decision on evidence of what may be the best option. We do not allow the lack of certainty of the correct option to prevent us from disregarding the others and acting upon the most reasonable of the options.

The Threat to Sincerity of Requests for Evidence
Second, skeptics often request "extraordinary" evidence for the existence of a designer. An example that comes to mind is "if it were written in the stars 'Christianity is true,' then I'd believe." While this particular request to be demonstrated by playing "connect the dots" on a high resolution image of the galaxy, one could easily escape their commitment if more difficult requests were met by simply saying, "we cannot rule out chance because not all natural explanations have been investigated." Thus the demand for certainty to remove chance makes the request for extraordinary evidence more of an insincere demand. All evidence presented for God's existence, no matter how strong, could be disregarded.

The Threat to Reason
Third (almost), the implication of the second does not only apply to evidence for God's existence, but it can be applied to anything, reinforcing the implication of the first. Not only would this prevent us from making a decision, it would also prevent us from changing our minds about anything. We could overcome any objection to any belief we have by merely observing that no one is omniscient and that the lack of certainty does not mean that our view has necessarily been shown to be wrong, thus we are justified in maintaining it. The less evidentially-supported belief is maintained despite the evidence against it and/or the more evidence for an alternative view, and this is praised as being more reasonable than changing the mind.

The Threat to Scientific Research
The lack of certainty and reason are used to make the skeptic's view practically indubitable, which (fourth) implies that all investigation and research is merely for confirmation of current beliefs, with no real interest in discovering what is true or changing one's beliefs and practices to reflect reality. Included in that is the understanding that one already has all the correct beliefs (practical omniscience), making investigation and research actually a waste of time, money, energy, and other valuable resources.

The Threat to Itself
Finally, the practice of using the lack of certainty to avoid the more evidentially-supported option or to affirm the less evidentially-supported option necessarily removes the idea of NOT doing so from the table of reason...but THAT cannot be valid on this view, for we are not omniscient and do not have certainty that this practice is the better one. Anyone who says that they are reasonably holding to a view, because the lack of certainty allows it to remain on the table despite the evidence, has not applied that same reasoning to the reason they made the decision. For if they did, they would no longer have a reasonable reason to do so. Ultimately, this reasoning self-destructs. If an idea self-destructs, it cannot be true, and any idea that is not true is not wise to act upon.

Conclusion
The evidence for God's existence and the truth of Christianity piles up day after day. Yet skeptics still believe that they can reasonably escape the conclusion by exploiting the fact that no challenger knows everything, thus cannot possess certainty to remove all options from the table of possibility except the one they wish to convince the skeptic is true. However, this reasoning necessarily implies five threats that cannot be ignored. If this reasoning is practiced, then these five implications must be accepted to remain logically consistent. However, the implications are too great to accept (not to mention the impossible one), thus it is best to refrain from using the lack of certainty to avoid unpalatable conclusions.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Book Review: Agents Under Fire

"Agents Under Fire: Materialism and the Rationality of Science" by Angus Menuge

Introduction

This reviewer has long been interested in the discussions about the existence of agents. Since the teleological argument depends on the existence of design being a legitimate concept, and that being dependent upon the existence of agents, Angus Menuge's book "Agents Under Fire: Materialism and the Rationality of Science" (Hardcover, GoodReads) was quite appealing. This reviewer balked at the price on Amazon, but it was given as a gift, and this reviewer was ecstatic delve into it immediately. The book is 215 pages divided into eight densely packed chapters. This review is designed to be a chapter-by-chapter summary to prepare the reader to tackle this challenging text.


Preface


Dr. Menuge begins the preface of the book by stating that his purpose behind writing Agents Under Fire is to defend the existence of agency (a non-natural entity capable of reasoning and purposing). He explains that this is a pivotal question in debates about intelligent design, for if there is no agency then there is no agents to design anything (to compare the "designs" in nature to)- design even is an illegitimate concept and should be completely discarded.

Menuge defines two key terms for understanding the book: Strong Agent Reductionism (SAR) and Weak Agent Reductionism (WAR). SAR represents a complete "explaining away" of agency by positing that all decisions are the results of natural cause-and-effect systems- no thought, reason, or purpose are involved in such systems. WAR attempts to explain agency in natural terms- making agency a product of nature. He then offers some quick points of critique of each, but saves the deeper content for later.

Following the definitions is a chapter-by-chapter summary that helps the reader get his or her bearings and recognize how the book will flow. Some people are tempted to skip prefaces of books, but this is a case where doing so will make following the book much more difficult.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Faith vs. Apologetics

Last week I read an article that I found to be quite disturbing. The title is "Christianity's New F-Word". In short the author takes issue with the current revival of Christian philosophy and apologetics- saying that Christians are so scared of being associated with "faith" that they succumb to the world's reason and methods. The author believes that instead of testing the truth of Christianity or historical reliability of the Bible, we should simply assume that they are true, and our faith will be more rewarding. I have many concerns with this article; however, I want to address just three of them today.

"Secular" Reason?
I have written many times about the coexistence of faith and reason (the most recent is "Is Faith Logical or Emotional?"), so I'm not going to rehash that information here. However, I would like to point out that the author undermines their own argument by implying that "secular" reason and methods can't be trusted. If we are to follow and understand the author's argument, we must first accept the basic laws of logic. If those are not reliable, then neither is any argument made that follows the rules of logical reasoning reliable.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Raising Children Without God?- A Logical Christian Response

Introduction
Earlier this week an article made it onto CNN's iReport that has caused quite the furor in the Christian and atheist communities. The piece was originally published as a blog post entitled "Why I Raise My Children Without God." In the post the author explains that she has lied to her kids about what happens when they die and what heaven would be like. She asks why parents should tell their kids things that they don't even believe. She follows that up with seven reasons she believes that teaching children about God is wrong and should not be done.

I want to look at this from both an emotional and logical perspective (in that order). I will respond to all of her complaints and include links to other posts that have more detail. I will conclude by providing Christianity as a viable alternative and how satisfactory answers to those complaints can only be found in Christ.

I urge you to read the post in its entirety before continuing with this post. To prepare yourself to authentically answer the challenges, ask yourself these questions:

Monday, January 14, 2013

Internal Debates and Apologetics

Internal Debates Versus Apologetics
Not too long ago I was in a discussion with a fellow apologist. We were discussing several different controversial topics in Christianity (age of the universe, Calvinism vs. Arminianism, and God's attributes). After a while he made a very strange statement. He told me that these discussions about science, philosophy, and theology weren't really important to apologists and only served to divide and cause unbelievers to run from Christ.

He took the position that apologists really only needed to defend the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to establish the truth of Christianity. His main support for that claim was that no other worldview can accommodate the resurrection of Jesus, so if it can be shown to be an historical event, all other worldviews are eliminated from the possibility of being true.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Is Faith Emotional or Logical?

So many people, both religious and non-religious, believe that faith is purely emotional, and in most contexts people imply the word "blind" before "faith". While few others believe that faith is logical- that it is firmly grounded on something. Lately, I've been reading the book "Emotional Intelligence" by psychologist Daniel Goleman and a few thoughts came to mind regarding this seeming dichotomy between faith being based on emotion versus being based on reason. Before I go into that connection or disconnection, though, I want to establish what I mean by "faith".

Faith in Time
I hear people all the time say that they "have faith". It seems to inspire them and those around them, but it often leaves me confused. Sure, someone can say that they "have faith". But when I hear this, I am compelled to ask a few questions:

"What do you have faith in?"
"What makes you believe that thing is worth placing your faith in it?"
"Why do you need to put 'faith' in something anyway?"

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Necessity Of God And The Death of Philosophy

I saw this image on Facebook the other day (states "God isn't an option, He's a necessity"). As a Christian I accept this because it is a part of the truth of Christianity (and consequently, reality). But the unbeliever doesn't tend to accept it or even appreciate the significance of this statement...especially if they claim to know anything (even as minimal as that they exist). Formally put, here is one way to present the argument:

1. Evolution is driven by survivability of organisms
2. Human brains and senses are the product of evolution
3. Therefore human brains' and senses' existence is driven by survivability- From 1 and 2
4. Beliefs come from the human brain reacting to sense experience
5. Therefore beliefs exist based on assistance to survivability- From 3 and 4
6. Humans believe that God exists
7. Therefore the belief that God exists exists based on its assistance to survivability- From 5 and 6

8. God does not exist
9. Therefore evolution favors false beliefs over true beliefs if the false belief helps survivability more than the true belief- From 7 and 8

10. Therefore the human brain and senses cannot be trusted to yield truth about reality (knowledge)- From 2 and 9

Monday, October 29, 2012

Double-Edged Sword of Authorities

We all like to cite and appeal to people who are well trained in the discipline that we are talking about. We also tend to denigrate arguments or claims of someone who is not trained in the area being discussed. The fact that someone has mastered a subject means that they are an extremely valuable resource that should not be dismissed, while someone who has not studied as in-depth, by necessity of the situation, does not have as much knowledge. It seems only logical to prefer the word of the person with the greater knowledge to the person with lesser knowledge.

All arguments consist of premises and conclusions. A proper authority is preferred when supporting the truth of a premise, but that does not mean that their logic is valid. If the logic is not valid, then the conclusion does not follow. Because of this, appealing to a proper authority does not guarantee that the conclusion follows. So, even though appealing to an authority is helpful, it is not sufficient. It is in this case that someone with lesser knowledge, but good reasoning may have an advantage, but not necessarily. More knowledge could still be used to demonstrate that the conclusion is over-stated.

Appealing to "proper" authorities when making an argument requires more than just someone who can support the truth of the premises. There should also be an appeal to someone who can support the logic of the argument. Interestingly, most of us support our premises with citations, but we rarely support our logic by citing proper authorities on reasoning.

But just as citing an authority to support a premise does not necessitate the truth of the premise, neither does citing an authority to support our logic make the conclusion necessarily follow. This brings up the reason that we all need to make sure that we understand proper reasoning. We have to be able to accurately assess arguments and determine if the conclusions actually do follow. A great introductory resource that I recommend is Norman Geisler's Come, Let Us Reason. Its not too long and is easy for the beginner. All apologists should be familiar with this resource as it may be one that they can recommend to help people understand and evaluate the logic of the arguments presented to them. .

Many great resources regarding proper reasoning and logic can be found at Apologetics 315.


More posts regarding appeals to authorities:
Do You Rely Upon Authorities?
Peer-Reviewed Only, Please


Monday, October 15, 2012

Questions That Are Off-Limits- Part 2

Last week we looked at questions that atheists tend to shy away from for whatever reason, and we looked at questions that are truly off-limits to those in an atheistic world. Today, we will see if Christianity has any such questions. 

What is Off Limits In The Church?

One of the great advantages of Christianity over atheism is that the questions that are off limits in atheism are central to Christianity- God exists and He does have a purpose for all the pain and suffering that we experience. But does Christianity have its own questions that it says are off limits that may cause the worldview to implode?

The Culture of "Questions Not Allowed"

Around the age of 12 or 13, I discovered that my asking questions was quite annoying to many people. Generally, people didn't mind my asking a couple basic questions here and there. But when I started asking a lot of questions, or my questions began to point out a real issue between two of their claims, their demeanor changed. I noticed this especially in church. People didn't mind my asking some basic questions about Christianity, but when I started getting into deeper theology, they ran. Some rebuked the questioning. This gave me a very sour feeling around many fellow Christians as if asking tough questions about what we believed was off limits. This was one of the reasons that I drifted away from the Church. My thoughts were these: if Christianity is true, why are Christians so afraid of being challenged? Christianity was for the intellectually weak and emotionally driven.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Fear of Atheism

Introduction
Last week an apologist friend of mine posted a fairly common atheist challenge to a private Facebook group. The specific version is this:
"Why are you so AFRAID of atheism? What is it about thinking you have a big daddy in the sky that you need to believe in that you just can't let go of? Aren't you arguing because REALLY you are AFRAID it is all just a big lie and you know that all your cherished religious beliefs are false?"
This challenge has three individual questions that need to be addressed on their own. Let's look at the first one.

Why are you so AFRAID of atheism?
When I first saw this question I wasn't sure why it was asked. The reason is that it assumes that the theist IS afraid of atheism. Many could put forth reasons for why atheism is nothing to fear. The chief one would be that if God does not exist, then there will be no one to account to after death for the lives we lived. If there is no one to account to, then why not live like you want? Atheism offers a freedom to follow our desires without fear of eternal consequences. As long as we are acting within the confines of the cultural laws, we don't even have to fear consequences while we're alive. Further if we don't like a law, all we have to do is rise against the law, and it will eventually be changed. Cultural relativism rules the day.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Your Challenge Does Not Apply- The Strawman

Lately I've been having a lot of discussions with fellow Christians about different ideas. Typically we're are on different sides of the debate and are trying to come to either an agreement, compromise, or understanding. One of the things that I have noticed all too often (I wouldn't worry about a couple times) from too many people and from the same people after I've pointed it out, is that they will offer a challenge that does not even apply to my view. Last week I discussed "zombie" topics in Christianity. One of the identifiers of a zombie (person) is that they continue to argue against "strawmen".

"Um, that's not what I believe."
The strawman is a slight (or not so slight) variation of an argument or position that is easier to defeat than the real argument or position. This is a fallacious way to argue because it does not actually address the challenge at hand. Its power comes by the fact that the nuances of the incorrect argument or position can be so close to the actual one that those listening may not recognize the difference, and believe that the actual challenge has been addressed and defeated when, in fact, it has not been addressed, much less defeated.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Providing Alternative Explanations

There have been several times that someone provided me a phenomenon that supports a specific worldview. They implied that this support for their worldview demonstrated that my worldview was false. The most recent example that comes to mind is a debate that is inside Christianity. As many, both inside and outside the Church, know, Christians debate the age of the earth/universe, and along side that debate tends to be a lesser known debate about the geographical extent of Noah's Flood (whether the flood was worldwide or localized to a single geographical area).

I currently hold that Noah's Flood was a localized event. (I'm not going to go into a huge defense of this position here because the purpose of this post is just to make a quick point, which Noah's flood being local is not it.) A friend of mine gave me two pieces of evidence that he states can only be explained by a geographically world-wide flood. These two being the large amounts of sediment all over the land and aquatic fossils being found on top of many mountains. He told me that this was evidence that the whole world was covered by water, and further concluded that could only have been Noah's flood (worldwide).

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Reasons In and Out of a Worldview

"I believe that anyone sincerely seeking Truth is going to find it. The problem is, most people are not looking for Truth, they are looking for evidence to support their assumptions. It takes a lot of humility to actually pursue Truth sincerely."- Rachel Oja*

In so many of my interactions with people, I have found that they have already made a commitment one way or the other to certain worldviews and are looking for intellectual reasons to either maintain that commitment, be public about the commitment or escape another commitment. I know people who are ready to accept any worldview except for X and others who are committed to accepting any form of worldview Y. Some are currently in worldview Z but are looking for intellectual reasons to either remain in or to get out.

I have found that Christianity is not immune to this observation. Some people are looking to get in but need intellectual reasons, while other are looking to get out but need intellectual reasons. I have seen people leave Christianity because someone asked them "well, who created God?". I have seen people come to Christianity for "fire insurance". Neither of those being logical reasons.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Danger of Overstating Conclusions

Have you ever played the electronic game 20 Questions? If you haven't, this is what it is: You think of an object and the computer will ask you "yes/no" questions until it narrows down what you are thinking about. If you answer 20 questions, and it can't figure out what you're thinking about, you win. I've tried it a few times, and I've been able to stump it a couple. :) What the computer does is ask questions to get answers. It uses these answers as premises in an argument. Let's say that I'm thinking of something. It asks me if it is an animal; I tell it "yes". It asks me if it is fury; I say "no". It asks me if it is black; I say "no". If it asked only these three questions, and told me that me that I was thinking of a frog, it would be wrong (I'm thinking of a lizard). A frog does match the answers that I gave (the premises of the argument), but it does not match exclusively. The conclusion that the only thing that I could possibly be thinking about is a frog, is an overstated conclusion.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Can We Be Good Without God?

One word and one phrase need clarification in this question. "Good" and "without God".

I want to look at the phrase "without God". My first clarifying question would be "do you mean 'without God's existence' or 'without believing in God'?" The answer to this question will determine how my unasked question about the meaning of "good" will be answered.

If the atheist answers "without God's existence," then it is quite easy. The answer is "yes" and "no"- both meaning the same thing and being just as valid as the other. Since atheists must base their morals on sociocultural contract theory, "good" (which is a moral term) has no objective, intercultural definition. So, one person in one culture may answer the question "yes" (basing his answer on the "goodness" of general behavior), and another person in another culture may answer the question "no" (same basis). If God does not actually exist, this answer does not change even if someone believes that He exists.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Psychology Class- Part 12 of 12

Well, we are finally at the end of my Psychology Class series. If you want to start from the beginning, here's the link for the introduction post. If you haven't read the series, nothing in this post will make sense.

In the introduction, I promised that I would conclude by explaining my own behavior with regard to my requirement to take this class (plus two more). As I was going through the class, I noticed one peculiar thing about the psychological theorists: they would develop a theory and seemed to apply it to everyone, except themselves. The Behavioral theorists performed experiments and theorized that all behavior was the result of the environment. My question to them is simply this: "What environmental factors caused you to do the experiment?" The theorists never attempted to answer such a question. These theorists seemed to act as if they, themselves, were "immune" to or "above" their own behavioral theories. I've noticed this with some other theorists in other disciplines, but I won't go into those right now. This is why I felt that it is important that after I posted the series, that I analyze myself based on what I have posted.