YEC Atheists


(Daniel Deen) #81

I’m late to this party, but I’ll throw my two cents around as I can…

No clue! I get that many go up against YEC as it is a vocal and public component to conservative Christianity that makes headlines. Thus, the public enemy to engage is a YEC and it is easy to assume that most any Christian’s default position is YEC.

Jerry Coyne has a category of “sophisticated theologian” that he uses for people like Plantinga. He is not friendly toward the “sophisticated” as well. He is definitely more than a YEC atheist. In fact, he also entertains the idea with more seriousness than most that Jesus was NOT a real person. Search around on his site of historicity of Jesus and sophisticated theology to see how much further Coyne goes than YEC atheism.

Hmmm… but via parity shouldn’t it be our burden to prove absolutely? I’m not comfortable with this line of thinking…

Yes, but in what world is a properly basic belief about God fool proof? In fact, one of the problems I have with Plantinga’s argument is that it is unclear to me how one can cross check the religious properly basic belief. When Plantinga uses examples such as memory, perception, other minds as examples of properly basic beliefs, is seems apparent that we can cross check the basic beliefs for accuracy. I am warranted in my memory that I played backgammon with a friend last night as the belief was delivered according to Plantinga’s scheme – yet, I can easily cross-check that belief against others to see if it is true that I played backgammon with my friend last night and didn’t lucidly dream it. I am unsure how Plantinga accomplishes this with properly basic religious beliefs, he seems to give them a certain status above other properly basic beliefs.

A Christian who is a philosopher that takes umbrage with Plantinga’s properly basic model is Richard Swinburne (Oxford) – back in the day, he and Plantinga had lively exchanges as to religious epistemology. Moreover, Plantinga is first a metaphyscian and Swinburne is a philosopher of science.

Welcome to Peaceful Science!

The book to read in terms of applying this to Christianity is:

Correct, but those are necessary to get conversations/arguments started and require a minimum of metaphysical commitment on both interlocutors’ conscious. A properly basic belief in God, particularly the Christian God, seems to load the properly basic deck metaphysically. The axioms of inductive/deductive inference are the sorts of things that all people can take as properly basic in the sense that there really is no way to have dialogue without them. I am suspect of God being on this same footing… As Josh is fond of saying, God reveals himself to us through the person of Jesus of Nazareth. If no one comes to the Father except through Jesus, then in what way is that properly basic?

But less so than metaphysics!

This is a really interesting concept in theology regarding the hiddenness of God that I think cuts both ways – How does @r_speir know that God is not hiding from him even as he is wrestling with God’s Word on these issues? Read about Jacob wrestling with God/Angel in the desert or the book of Job to see how even believers need to be humble in their struggles…

I was more playing with the relationship between “philosopher” and “surfer” as I am a philosopher who teaches in Southern California and happens to surf when I’m not grading or herding children at the house.

But again, I can calibrate my belief regarding other minds against other beliefs in a way that is unclear to me how Plantinga’s properly basic belief in God is able to be calibrated.

Holy Smokes you have thought through this. I can’t promise I’ll carefully read all you’ve written, but I feel obligated to skim it as I need to find out if I agree with your above “edit”!

(John Harshman) #82

I’ve read @structureoftruth’s explanation of why he can’t be an atheist, and I’m underwhelmed. Serious straw-man. Just sayin’.

(Daniel Deen) #83

Noted. I suspect that I am going to disagree with certain aspects of his thought even as a Christian. However, I recognize through my limited interaction with @structureoftruth here at Peaceful Science that he has a very good grip on the philosophy. That is not something to be ignored in my book even if I ultimately disagree.

(Nathan H. Lents) #84

This is the only statement in this post that makes any sense.

(Matthew Dickau) #85

I plead innocent on the charge of straw-manning. :slight_smile: The “Why I Can’t Be An Atheist” post is only a summary, and I argue every one of those points in more detail in earlier posts.

(John Harshman) #86

I found the summary adequate grounds for straw-man detection. Of course you don’t agree, and I’m not accusing you of dishonesty. What I mean is that I don’t find your objections valid.


That would certainly be an interesting debate to have if people are willing.


That’s not how it works. I also concede the possibility of Zeus and Odin which eliminates God. I also conceded the possibility that at least one religion has to be wrong.

I see that you can’t show us how you have disproven the existence of Zeus and Odin.


I am willing to settle for a secular society where religious rules and influence stay at a personal level and not at a governmental level. Religiosity appears to be a part of the human condition, so I don’t see any reason to even try and eliminate it.

(Jordan Mantha) #90

One of the problems with this is that people rarely make rational decisions about beliefs. Rationality is usually in the justification, not creation, of beliefs it seems to me. I think there is something to “rational foundations” in terms of a philosophical milieu that one generally takes for granted as one does science or philosophy or theology, etc. but I would say that it is far from a prerequisite.

So it would be an interesting debate from a philosophical perspective, but I can’t imagine it really being that reflective of how decisions are made normatively.

(John Dalton) #91

I agree totally. No intent or desire to eliminate anything here–just saying I’d like to see it! There’s a lot of things I’d like to happen, but they’re not all very likely :slight_smile:

(r_speir) #92

Ah, but you must allow the gods to speak for themselves.

You see, Zeus and Odin allow for all Gods in the pantheon. Thus you are incorrect that the possibility of Zeus and Odin eliminates the God of the Bible. Quite the opposite is true.

What Zeus and Odin fail to recognize – and what you also fail to see – is that the moment they allow for all Gods, the God of the Bible immediately eliminates their possibility. For the God of the Bible has already spoken in this manner: “I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God.”

When you concede the possibility of all Gods, Zeus and Odin are eliminated and your argument is overthrown.


You have stated that if God exists then Zeus and Odin can not. If Zeus and Odin exist, then by definition we have falsified the existence of God by your own argument.

That’s the most backwards argument I have ever seen. Possible doesn’t mean true. If we find a dead body we can say that both natural causes and murder are possibilities. Saying that murder is a possibility does not automatically eliminate natural causes.

(r_speir) #94

You are confused here and wrong. I don’t know how to help you. I can only hope that you see it later on.

I already know this. Who are you informing? We have been discussing possibilities only.


If I find a dead body and admit from the outset that foul play is a possibility, do I now have to admit that natural causes could not be the cause of death?

(r_speir) #96

If you are trying to build analogies you are going about it wrong. Taking your cue, the only possible analogy that comes to mind is

We have been led to believe that you and your friends are all possible suspects in a murder until we enter the courtroom and learn that all your friends are imaginary. Thus, you are the culprit.

All possibilities being equal, all suspects are not.
All possibilities being equal, all Gods are not.


Let’s continue with your argument. As soon as we admit that one specific person is possibly the murderer, wouldn’t that mean no one else could possibly be the murderer other than that one specific person?

(r_speir) #98

I’ve enjoyed the exchange but afraid we are just starting to repeat ourselves. Here is my closing statement and then you can offer yours.

  1. All Gods being possible, it is found that the God of the Hebrews is in fact the only possible God.
  2. God being a possibility, he cannot be a non-possibility. The possibility of God exists and cannot be annulled.
  3. Whereas it is God’s nature to hide himself, that God cannot be discerned with the senses becomes evidence for his possibility.

(John Harshman) #99

Hopelessly confused. I think the first equivocation is between logical possibility and physical possibility.

The second problem (in your point #1)is that all gods being possible (and that just means logically possible), that implies nothing about your god being the only possible one. Even if it implied (which it doesn’t) that only a monotheistic god were possible, there are many available monotheistic gods, of which your god is only one.

Point 2 is where the equivocation mentioned above happens most strongly.

Point 3 is another problem. How do you know it’s God’s nature to hide himself? Wouldn’t that be a strange attribute for a deity? And you could use this same argument to show that there’s an invisible, intangible unicorn in your kitchen. That you can’t see or feel one is good evidence that one is there, right?


Your first premise is your conclusion. That is called “begging the question”. If your entire argument is just asserting God exists with no premises to back it, then it isn’t much of an argument.