Wednesday, October 27, 2004

From the CADRE Blog, BK has an quotation about the intellectual decline of atheism. Of course, you do not need to tell me that many atheists on the internet are not exactly intellectual giants but the point about Anthony Flew and Dan Barker is also instructive. Flew is an esteemed, though very old, philosopher who has recently been having something of a crisis of faith over his atheism. Dan Barker is a musician who writes low brow books about how he hates Christianity.

Of course, you could retort that many Christians are not exactly brilliant intellects either. True indeed, but I'd suggest that this doesn't matter much. At root, Christianity does not claim to be an intellectual movement but a religion for everyone whether they are packing high calibre brains or not. And sure enough there are enough high calibre brains to make a mockery of any claim that Christians cannot be that clever.

Atheism however claims to be based on reason, rationality and logic. It is almost entirely an intellectual movement and consequently if it is losing the philosophical conflict it loses everything. The rude health of Christian philosophy and the decline of atheist thought is a much bigger threat to the later than it would be to the former. Atheism risks becoming something that people of a certain age and mind set grab onto instinctively (largely because it makes them feel intellectually superior) but will drop when it turns out that actually the clever guys are all in the other camp. I don't want to declare victory too early but the signs look good.

Of course, after the defeat of atheism, the much more difficult job will be the defeat of apathy.

13 comments:

phonoman said...

Dear Bede

I have to say I agree with this post, I had been thinking about this subject for awhile. I will be candid and say I am an atheist in doubt of my views. As an atheist who once accepted the pagan copy cat thesis, Dan Barker as a credible source on anything, I have evolved a long way to completely rejecting the PCT, and I know consider Dan Barker to me nothing more then a low brow atheist, who any scholarly Christian could refute easily…in writing (oral debates are different, Dan is a sound byte king)

I have also come to the conclusion people who reject the following claims must do it based on a philosophical prior.

a.) existence of Jesus
b.) crucifixion
c.) Empty tomb
d.) Conversion of his follower

Each of these claims take singularly it to unremarkable to be rejected, certainly Jewish Messianic movements were common enough in Judea, crucifixion is well known, empty tombs happen more then a bit and people convert to other religious views rather frequently. Its only when you put it all together do you at least have to say “ that’s odd”. Too reject those four claims I would have to in all honesty say we can know nothing about Ancient History.

Atheism is failing as a movement because as you noted earlier without its intellect it’s nothing…. Dan Barker will never be an intellectual, as it says in the bible- “ Can the leopard change its spots”. Richard Carrier is good but I have certainly read many better historians then him. Farrell Till is completely in decline, as much as he would never admit it J.P Holding is seriously bothering him and his endorsement of such poor arguments as the Christ Myth and Pagan Copycat are simply ludicrous.

Atheism has become a religion, which aims itself completely at people hurt by religion. If everyone followed his or her religious teachings as they should then atheism would be far smaller then it is today. It also does offer some people a since of intellectual snobbery, seeing many Christians use poor arguments which are easily refutable. As a new religion it has to take in its converts, and no one made any promises these converts would be brilliant. Christianity can accept that, atheism cannot.

jack perry said...

Can we really get rid of atheism without getting rid of apathy first?

Believers can thus have more than a little to do with the rise of atheism. To the extent that they are careless about their instruction in the faith, or present its teaching falsely, or even fail in their religious, moral, or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than to reveal the true nature of God and of religion.Gaudium et Spes, 19

Anonymous said...

BK writes about the decline of atheism.

This from a guy who writes that micro-evolution has been contaminated by sin???

http://christiancadre.blogspot.com/2004/10/evolution-and-darwinism-three-meanings.html for a good laugh.

Bede said...

Phonoman, thank you for your interesting and very honest comment. Even granted all the facts about Jesus you list, the resurrection is still far from proven. Indeed, using the methods of history it never can be. This is much of the reason I have little time for 'evidential' apologetics which claim to prove things which are beyond proof.

Killer Monkey said...

Even granted all the facts about Jesus you list, the resurrection is still far from proven. Indeed, using the methods of history it never can be. This is much of the reason I have little time for 'evidential' apologetics which claim to prove things which are beyond proof.I agree. Nothing in history can be proven with a certainty that some claim, or try to acheieve. In fact, practically nothing in our day to day existance can be known with 100% certainty (apart from the laws of logic or mathmatics). However, one can reach reasonable conclusions from known facts. This is why wild-eyed conspiracy theories aren't given as much credence as accepted theories on historic events. This is why many intelligent people like C.S. Lewis look back at the events of Jesus's death and come to the conclusion that it seemed something extrordinary happened there. It's also why many atheists have been compelled to come up with ludicrous Jesus myth theories; because if these things did take place, it seems likely that something out of the ordinary occured.

I think a lot of apologetics fall into a bit of a trap here; the skeptics and the atheists demand complete proof in order to believe. And when apologists try, and fail, it reinforces their skeptism and makes it appear they've won the argument. Apologists should instead claim that the resurrection is just the most reasonable theory we have, and continue to point out the weaknesses of their opponents arguments.

I didn't think phonoman was saying that the resurrection is proven by the facts about Jesus; only that many atheists resort to non-intellectual arguments to deny those facts. I feel this only points to the weakness of their theories, because if their arguments best fit the facts, they wouldn't have to go out of their way to deny them.

phonoman said...

I do feel that “ Killer Monkey” made some of the comments that I was going to make in response, but I still want to get my two cents in anywise. In the west Atheism (especially in Europe) has become very much an evangelical movement, which in of itself there is nothing wrong with this (I do believe people have a right to tell others about their beliefs) But the problem with it is the same problem that faces religion, people tend to join a movement based on less of its intellectual merits than their own personal motives. The fact that peoples world views tend to get questioned during their teenage years and new (or old) views solidify during your young adult years does not help this situation at all (I certainly did not know enough at 20 when I made my decision for atheism)

I will use myself as an example. As a young child I was sent to Baptist school, extreme fundamentalist Baptist School. It taught Young Earth Creationism, anti-Catholic, Anti-Jewish bigotry and frowned upon mixed race dating (Just something seemed down right sinful about it) Of course the only thing the Christians their loved to was preach hell fire and damnation. So of course being 13 years old I converted. I got sick of being made fun of by my fellow classmates and harassed by the faculty. Of course I was afraid of “ what would happen if I died tomorrow” Who wouldn’t at that age?

Still things didn’t get any better. By the age of 15, I had failed my freshman years (seems fundamentalist have no love or concern for children who are diagnosed as learning disabled, that just “secular”, dare I say Satanic nonsense) I moved down to Georgia with my family, and my family mercifully put me back in public school (of course now being a fundie myself I wanted to go back to Baptist school) and I meet a wonderful teacher who helped me in every way. To my eternal shame I thought seeing he was a Catholic he wasn’t Christian. I will say he is more Christian then anyone I knew at that Baptist school. He taught me how to learn and by my junior year I was on the academics team. MY senior years I was second in command of the Team, and we took second place in the entire State. I also had joined the National Guard my Junior Summer, did Basic Training, though hard it gave me a tremendous boost of self confidence. By the age of 19, my senior years I was coming to strongly disbelieve in the indoctrination of my youth. By the age of 20, at college I had completely renounced it and had a strong loathing for it. (Among my biggest complaints was I felt violated for being taught Creationism as science. I really loved science and that for years ruined it for me)

I want to note hear I did not make my decision based upon the evidence. I made my decision based on how I was treated. I searched for the evidence after I made the conclusion. While intellectually wrong I think people can understand.

So at college I became the resident skeptic. It didn’t help the Christians going against me I knew the bible way better then them, and being a history major I could roast them with ease. I had no trouble finding all those little Christian Pimples like the inquisition or the witch trials. I was also a very dedicated Skeptic, I once had a Christian remark to me I studied the Bible more to disprove then Christians studied to learn it. If someone was being bothered by Christians often they sent that Christian to me, they knew I would roast them. Also new converts were warned to avoid me like the plaque, I just might cause doubt. I am proud to say I roasted the most knowledgeable Christian on my campus so bad, I sent him into intense prayer for two weeks.

I would have happily keep on going with this had it not been for two things.

a.) I was a history major. I just had to research my views. And I found the Pagan Copy Cat thesis simply didn’t measure up, so I quit using ( I never knowingly used a bad argument) and that my claim the NT author misused the OT also wasn’t true, they used it no differently then other Jews of the Period.

b.) I meet a Christian Girl and we actually came to care for each other. Kinda hard to hate a religion when if circumstance were a bit different you would be marrying a member of it. Some might suggest I would hate it more cause it got in the way, but the best part of her was made by Christianity. I would not have carried for her I suspect had she not had these Christian traits.

So with those two events I really started studying the writings of Theist such as Bill Craig and N.T Wright. I also read the works of Craig Blomberg and compared them with Arguments of Mack and Price. I found my training as historian could not let me deny the four factors I mentioned earlier. I also couldn’t reject the claims of the conversion of Paul or James, nor the odd picture that was developing before me. Bloody heck I couldn’t then or now think of a secular alternative which explains it all. Even if you don’t accept inerrancy you still have to accept the four points I mentioned earlier, there is no rational reason not to. They are too mundane to reject.

I wrote this long blog to help explain why atheism is taking the face it is. Atheism is attracting members to it who have had intense hurt come at the hands of Christians, such as me. Also the vast, vast majority of atheist learn at least a little something from their fellow atheist about the Bible, which is dare I say it more them most Christians now. Lastly they tend to be better grounded in history and the historical theories on the Bible, unlike their Christian counterpart. So the “intellectual” victories against Christians tend to be easy to come by, it was no contest before the battle began. So this gives a false feeling of intellectual security and when you’re secure in your views, why do further study? Many Christians ( but not all) who become atheist easily could fit into either the poorly read, or the poorly treated category. I was both.

On the nature of evidential apologetics for my last comments. The apologetic is not worthless. If the resurrection occurred logically then it should produce evidence. That’s what apologetics try to do. No amount of evidence can turn the resurrection into a fact, it can at best be the best explanation for all the factors I mentioned earlier.

phonoman said...

Second half of my post

I wrote this long blog to help explain why atheism is taking the face it is. Atheism is attracting members to it who have had intense hurt come at the hands of Christians, such as me. Also the vast, vast majority of atheist learn at least a little something from their fellow atheist about the Bible, which is dare I say it more them most Christians now. Lastly they tend to be better grounded in history and the historical theories on the Bible, unlike their Christian counterpart. So the “intellectual” victories against Christians tend to be easy to come by, it was no contest before the battle began. So this gives a false feeling of intellectual security and when you’re secure in your views, why do further study? Many Christians ( but not all) who become atheist easily could fit into either the poorly read, or the poorly treated category. I was both.

On the nature of evidential apologetics for my last comments. The apologetic is not worthless. If the resurrection occurred logically then it should produce evidence. That’s what apologetics try to do. No amount of evidence can turn the resurrection into a fact, it can at best be the best explanation for all the factors I mentioned

Anonymous said...

What other supernatural events from the first century are proved by anonymous sources, whose authors use each other as sources, deliberately changing what has been written to suit their own private agendas?

You wouldn't hang a dog on the evidence of the New Testament, let alone conclude that a corpse turned into a new form of matter, previously unknown and never seen since.

Anonymous said...

'.....my claim the NT author misused the OT also wasn’t true, they used it no differently then other Jews of the Period.'

And Jews of the period misused the OT, just as Christians did. The Gospels are products of the superstitious times they were written in.

Look at Paul's taking a law about oxen and claiming it is about something the author never meant, and would never have dreamed of meaning.

Bede said...

Paging Mr Steven Carr, presently posting here as Anonymous: Please stop trolling around. If you have a comment to make then do so, but it seems you are presently just up to your usual tricks. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Bede continues to demonstrate the intellectual inferiority of atheism by his ignoring points and name-calling of people he doesn't like.

Meanwhile, what other supernatural events happened in the first century?

Did a cow really give birth to a lamb, as Josephus claimed in the Wars of the Jews - a work written within 10 years of the facts, by a direct participant, and one who claims to be reporting the eyewitness testimony of many to this claim? Surely this is far better attestation than the Christian claim that Peter found a coin in the mouth of a fish.

Anonymous said...

what consequences resulted in believing that a cow gave birth to a lamb? none. unlike believing that a man was the Son of God which meant a drastic change in beliefs and lifestyle by both jews and gentiles. as i'm sure you know, the jews were a strictly monotheistic people so equating a man with God was blasphemous and was to face rejection (which was bad enough in this group oriented culture), persecution and salvation. not to mention equating man who was CRUCIFIED -- the the most offensive, humiliating, shameful and disgusting way to be executed in the ancient world -- with God.

this wouldn't have been any easier for gentiles who considered the jews to be inferior and superstitious. for them to accept a jew as the world's savior was to turn their back on everything they were raised to believe about custom, tradition, religion and behavior in this honor and shame society.

in other words, believing that a cow gave birth to a lamb was not big deal and had no consequences. believing a blasphemous claim that a (jewish) man was God which resulted in rejection, persecution, a change in beliefs and lifestyle, etc is not something that would be easily accepted.

and, of course, is the fact that a cow supposedly giving birth to a lamb would have been a one time event as opposed to Jesus' three year public ministry.

oh, also, there were obviously no hardcore opponents to the cow-giving-birth-to-a-lamb claim who were motivated to discredit it as there were people who wanted to discredit christianity. and no skeptics or opposition who drastically changed their beliefs overnight over something they had nothing to gain from and everything to lose by doing so, etc.

so yeah...it's a silly comparison.

jason_r

BK said...

I want to thank "Anonymous" for showing quite clearly the state of the intellectual movement for Internet atheism: scraping the bottom of the barrel. I anxiously await your evidence that my post on the fall of man having a negative effect on the process of micro-evolution was as ridiculous as you claim. Until then, you are merely proving Dr. Reynold's point by continuing to belittle without engaging.