I was asked by a fellow blogger to write something on the burden of proof. We often hear the maxim “the burden of proof falls upon the person making the claim” or something like that. Why is this the case? Does it stand?
Faith is a term which is bandied about with carefree abandon, but what does it really mean? As I wrote to Christian apologist David Marshall some years back:
Part of the problem is that you are extracting these issues from their real world application and in a sense making them irrelevant. Let’s apply the faith vs reason to real life instances:
Christmas is over, time to get on to Easter. Someone in Malawi is about to have a debate on national TV with a Christian about the Resurrection accounts and I have been asked to help provide some ideas for the debate, so here goes.
This post will be split into two parts due to its length. This will allow any posters to be able to interact with certain points as we go. Regards, Andreas Schüler.
Can science and religion coexist in harmony ?
A favorite phrase of sophisticated theologians™ is – science tells us how and religion tells us why. But it is not only theologians who claim that there can be no conflict between properly understood science and religion because they deal with different questions. Many scientists, and not only religious ones, support this view as well.
‘Rationality is useless if it is not sound. This is what Martin Luther meant when he called reason a “whore”. Pick the wrong premises, and rationality is utterly screwed. Therefore, merely that someone is “rational” means absolutely nothing about whether that person is well-connected to reality.’
I am reposting this one again because it came up in a comment by Shatterface here. ) This was…
Using Peter Boghossian’s analysis of “faith” from his book A Manual for Creating Atheists, this is part of a project…
I am hoping to have Ed Babinski writing the foreword to Beyond an Absence of Faith, an anthology of deconversion accounts. In a private email, Ed wrote this gem:
…it’s sad that many people either avoid reading books based on views they oppose, or they read them and STILL manage to slough off all the questions raised. The mind is a marvelously creative artist when it comes to finding ways to maintain whatever worldview it acquires rather than juggling and shifting between different worldviews all day long, which takes too much mental energy.
Christmas is upon us, the season of joy and merriment, the season, it seems, of massacres reminding us of other massacres. I have a book out called The Nativity: A Critical Examination, which is available from the sidebar over there. As a result of the book’s release this year, I have been doing a number of public talks on the historicity of the Nativity and have even recorded a radio debate with Randal Rauser which should be available any time soon.
So having posted the Philpapers survey results, the biggest ever survey of philosophers conducted in 2009, several readers were not aware of it (the reason for re-communicating it) and were unsure as to what some of the questions were. I offered to do a series on them, so here it is – Philosophy 101 (Philpapers induced). I will go down the questions in order. I will explain the terms and the question, whilst also giving some context within the discipline of Philosophy of Religion.
I got into a nice little conversation with quality fellow bloggers James East and Counter Apologist today, and we were talking about what grounds our beliefs. I explained that either we had an infinite regress of reasons for claiming something, or there was an axiom (or, indeed, assertion as could be analogised).
Jerry Coyne, author of Why Evolution is True (book and blog), states this insightful piece:
…we justify science rather than faith as a way of finding out stuff not on the basis of first principles, but on the basis of which method actually gives us reliable information about the universe. And by “reliable,” I mean “methods that help us make verified predictions that advance our understanding of the world and produce practical consequences that aren’t possible with other methods”.
Just in case you haven’t seen this old chestnut, or in case you had forgotten its supremely annoying rational defeater,…
So here’s the thing. The Christian seems to historiographically rate the NT over and above the other biblical books so that the Gospels have hermeneutic priority over any other book. My last book (The Nativity: A Critical Examination), and my subsequent radio debate with Randal Rauser, showed that the only time the Gospels are verifiable – that they intersect with known facts and verifiable incidents – is during the nativity accounts of Matthew and Luke.
I’ve been thinking. In doing the philpapers inspired Philosophy 101 series (found here and here, so far), touching on the questions asked in the largest ever survey of philosophers, i thought i would give some nice, basic factfiles explaining what some of the key philosophers have brought to the philosophical table. We hear so much about Aristotle, Plato, Hume and Descartes, but who the hell are they and what did they think (in a really short, easy-to digest manner)?
I was reading a post by Don Severs over on Enough’s Enough entitled (deliberately confusingly, methinks) “Is it wrong to be resistant to opposing Anti-supernaturalism? Or not?”. The post talks about “anti-supernatural bias”, as if atheists reject the claims of the Bible out of presupposition (which can happen) rather than the fact that they are just ridiculous and completely improbable. We can even use objective methodology to arrive at such conclusions (Bayes’s Theorem).
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. A Jewish preacher being the human incarnation of an all-powerful being, dying on a cross and being resurrected from the dead, is probably one of the most extraordinary claims ever made. But a collection of ancient documents like the Gospels is everything but extraordinary evidence.
In my opinion, documents like the gospels could never be sufficient to establish such an extraordinary claim beyond reasonable doubt. And this has nothing to do with a “bias towards naturalism”. I also don´t believe extraordinary claims which do not violate the laws of nature in any way, simply because an ancient document claims they happened.
When thinking about subjects like the fine-tuning argument it becomes apparent that the theist loves to have their cake and eat it. They thrive off a “heads I win, tails you lose” scenario.
What I mean by this can be exemplified as follows:
In the fine-tuning argument when a skeptic argues:
The universe is more fine-tuned for death than life. The size of the universe is so unbelievably and unnecessarily massive that it appears that it is not designed for human life.
Isn´t it interesting how the same argument can be very powerful and persuasive for some people while being completely uninteresting for others? The problem of evil is one of the most powerful arguments against the existence of an all-loving God for many Atheists, but I never cared much about it. I´m not sure why, maybe because I never believed in a God anyway, for other reasons, so speculations about what an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent God would or would not do always seemed kind of moot to me. But nevertheless, I recently thought about the problem of evil when I had a discussion with our local young earth creationist JohnM.