Boxing Pythagoras

Archive for the tag “atheism”

Every now and again, I stumble across a list of questions posed by a person on one side of an argument towards those on the other side. These questions are intended to be somewhat Socratic, leading a person towards an intended conclusion solely through his or her own answers; however, they very rarely actually have that effect.

I came upon just this sort of list from a blog called Adherent Apologetics. I’ve interacted with that blog’s author a few times before and found him very respectful and sincere; as such, I decided to take a few minutes to set my answers to his questions to page in the hope that we might begin to get a better understanding of one another.

A review of the Dillahunty v. Jones debate, Part 2

In my first post on this debate, I focused on the issues which I had with Matt Dillahunty’s performance in this debate, particularly in the ways in which he responded to Michael Jones’ claims. Matt generally did not deal directly with Jones’ positions, but rather attempted to undermine them on foundational reasons and, unfortunately, I think he missed the mark with his responses.

In this second article on the debate, I intend to discuss the arguments which Michael Jones raises, despite the fact that he does not really get much time to discuss their nuances directly in the particular debate. His arguments are interesting and different than the usual rehashing of the Kalam or Fine-Tuning or Anselm’s Ontological arguments. That, alone, is often more than enough to grab my attention. After having been interested in apologetics for 20 years prior to being an outspoken atheist for another 10 years, it’s a rare thing, indeed, to be presented with an entirely unfamiliar argument for the existence of God.

A review of the Dillahunty v. Jones debate, Part 1

As anyone who has read much of Boxing Pythagoras will likely already know, I am rather fond of debate. I quite enjoy listening to, reading, and watching debates between two people on a great variety of subjects– all the moreso when the subject happens to be one with which I am heartily interested. Recently, two YouTubers got together for just such a discussion. Matt Dillahunty is the president of the Atheist Community of Austin and one of the hosts of a broadcast called The Atheist Experience. Michael Jones is a Christian apologist who created a YouTube channel called “Inspiring Philosophy.” Both men are very intelligent and I have greatly enjoyed listening to both, in the past. When I heard that they were going to debate the topic, “Are there good reasons to believe in God?” I was quite excited to give it a listen.

Unfortunately, I was very let down by the debate. I spent a great deal of the two-hour long discussion cringing and yelling at my computer. While it might be easy for one of my readers to think my discomfort was caused by the Christian conversant, the truth is that it was the atheist who had me so upset. This was honestly one of the worst debate performances on the part of Matt Dillahunty which I have ever seen.

On Causal Simultaneity

Several times over the life of this blog, I have discussed the Kalam Cosmological Argument– as well as other, similar cosmological arguments for God. They are exceedingly popular topics within theistic apologetics and are therefore levied quite often. As a reminder, the Kalam is often formulated as follows:

1. Anything which begins to exist has a cause for its existence.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause for its existence.

The theistic apologist will usually then argue that the only possible cause for the universe’s existence must be God. Detractors and critics of these cosmological arguments, like myself, often point out that this doesn’t seem to make much sense when applied to the universe, as a whole. After all, “the universe” includes time, and if the universe began to exist, then that implies that there must have been a first moment of time. However, if there is a first moment of time, the universe exists in that moment; and since there are no moments prior to the first, there is literally no time prior to the universe’s existence during which it could have been caused.

There cannot have been anything which existed before the universe because there is literally no such thing as “before the universe.”

The prolific philosopher and theologian, Dr. William Lane Craig, addresses this issue in a manner which I find to be rather curious. Dr. Craig acknowledges that it is nonsensical to assert that there must have been something before the universe which caused the universe to exist. Instead, he invokes the notion of causal simultaneity— that is, the idea that a cause can be simultaneous with its effect. With such a notion in place, Dr. Craig argues that the implications of the Kalam are salvaged and that God must still be the cause of the universe.

Finding Jesus in your Philosophical Toast

On a blog called Theolocast, Christian apologist Todd Clay recently published an article entitled “31 Reasons to Believe in the God of the Bible.” In the article, Mr. Clay discusses a plethora of different ideas by which he claims that “the God of the Bible has made himself obvious to the world.”

Despite Todd Clay’s assertions, God’s existence is still not obvious to me. In fact, the arguments which he presents are quite bad. Indeed, it seems to me that he is claiming to have found Jesus in his philosophical toast.

On Aquinas’ Five Ways

In his seminal work, Summa Theologica, the celebrated Christian philosopher, Thomas Aquinas, engages with the question of the existence of God. He notes that there are certainly objections to the claim that there exists such a divinity, but Aquinas believes that these objections can be overcome and that this existence can be shown to be well-founded. The eminent philosopher then lays out a list of arguments which he supposes to make this case. These arguments have come to be known as Aquinas’ Five Ways, and they have been so influential in philosophy that many theologians and apologists still cite them as if they are authoritative logical proofs, more than 700 years after the Italian priest set them to page. On the contrary, however, it seems that there are a number of issues which prevent Aquinas’ Five Ways from being quite so powerful, now, as they may have been in his own day.

Commentary on my Catholic Answers call

On Monday night, I called into the Catholic Answers radio program to give the reason why I am an atheist. My stated reason was that I have not been offered any convincing reasons to believe that deity exists, and the discussion quickly turned to the subject of the Cosmological family of arguments. Unfortunately, a live call-in program does not offer the best forum for back-and-forth discussion, so I wanted to take some time to respond to a number of the things which Trent Horn said, in our dialogue.

This past Monday night, the Catholic Answers Live radio show on EWTN hosted an episode in which they asked, “Why are you an Atheist?” They restricted callers to atheists or agnostics, and asked those respondents to tell the hosts, Patrick Coffin and Trent Horn, why they are either atheist or agnostic. Anyone who made it on the air would be sent a free copy of Trent Horn’s book, Answering Atheism. Curious to see how the apologists would respond to my position– and also, to be sure, looking to get a free book– I called in to the show to offer my position. The audio recording of Monday night’s discussion is available here, but for those of you who do not want to take the time to listen to the whole show, I’ve transcribed my discussion in this article.

I would like to say that it was an absolute pleasure to talk to Trent about this subject, and I found him to be utterly sincere, entirely respectful, and genuinely interested in having a dialogue. I can honestly say that, brief as it was, this was one of the most enjoyable conversations I’ve ever had with an apologist. I am very much looking forward to receiving Trent’s book, now, and I promise that I will review it here on Boxing Pythagoras.

Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t give a huge thank you to Elaine, the call screener for the show. She seemed an absolutely lovely woman, extremely kind and respectful. After my call dropped due entirely to problems on my end, she very graciously moved me back to the head of the line when I called back in.

The transcript follows, edited only slightly at the very beginning, due to my phone troubles.

Proof that π=2√3

There is an inherent danger attached to blindly accepting the word of someone who sounds like they are presenting a rational, scientific claim. Too many people are willing to accept a proposition solely because they’ve heard it from someone who bears the appearance of intelligence. The line of thought seems to be, “Well, he’s smarter than me, so he must be right!” Unfortunately, this sort of fallacious reasoning goes largely unchecked, and often becomes formative in the common understanding of entire groups of people.

For almost the entirety of your mathematical education, you have been taught that the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, which we affectionately refer to as π, is something close to $3\frac{1}{7}$, or about 3.14; however, today I’m going to show you that your math teachers were wrong. In actuality, the value of π is exactly 2√3, or about 3.46.

Why I am a godless Heathen

Having already related to my readers Why I am not a Christian, I thought I might take some time to talk about what I am: I am a godless Heathen.

It is not uncommon to find modern atheists who jokingly refer to themselves as “godless heathens.” They use the title satirically, to poke fun at the unwarranted derision laid upon a person by some Christians over the simple fact that atheists don’t believe in God. It hearkens back to a period when Christianity had actual legal authority, in the Western world, and the charge of being a “godless heathen” was a criminal offense resulting in a capital punishment.  However, this is not what I mean when I use the term “godless Heathen,” as in the title of this article. To be fair, I also intend this sort of tongue-in-cheek reference, but my usage actually carries a further weight which is not generally shared by most of the other atheists that I have met. When I say that I am a “godless Heathen,” I am actually referring to the fact that I am an atheist who practices Norse Heathenry.

I understand that the thought of an atheist adherent to a polytheistic religion might seem fairly paradoxical, at first, so allow me to elucidate.