Saturday, 14 September 2013

Friday, 13 September 2013

Herman Philipse on the Incoherence of 'God'.

“How can one meaningfully say that God listens to our prayers, loves us, speaks to us, answers (or does not answer our supplications, etcetera, if God is also assumed to be an incorporeal being? For the stipulation that God is an incorporeal being  annuls the very conditions for meaningfully applying psychological expressions to another entity, to wit, that this entity is able in principle to display forms of bodily behaviour which resemble patterns of human behaviour. In other words, the very attempt to give a meaning and a possible referent to the word ‘God’ as used in theism must fail, because this attempt is incoherent. . .
. . . If this is so, one might object, how are we to explain the fact that the word ‘God’ and sentences such as ‘God loves me’, appear to be used meaningfully in monotheistic language? But explaining this is not difficult. The religious uses of the putative proper name ‘God’ are parasitic upon, and resemble to a large extent, the ordinary uses of proper names and psychological  expressions for human beings. What religious believers fail to notice is that by substituting ‘God’ for an ordinary proper name in sentences such as ‘John loves me’, or ‘Paul will condemn him’, they cancel the conditions for using meaningfully the words ‘loves’ and ‘condemns’.

Monotheistic believers often are vaguely aware that the meaning of words eludes them when they utter sentences containing the word ‘God’. But they misinterpret this fact as symptomatic of the spiritual depth of religious discourse. They think that the profoundly mysterious nature of monotheistic language points to a transcendent reality, which cannot be grasped by us, limited human beings. In this case, however, the impression of profoundness is caused by a mere misuse of language. As Wittgenstein aptly remarked, ‘the problems arising through a misinterpretation of our forms of language have the character of depth.”

Herman Philipse is a professor of philosophy at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. From 1986 until 2003, he taught at Leiden University, where he obtained his doctorate in 1983. 

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Incoherence of Believing in Something (but you aren't quite sure what).

Richard G Swinburne

In the opening lines of Swinburne's introduction to his book "The Coherence of Theism" he states that by a theist he understands a man who believes there "is something like a person without a body (i.e. a spirit) who is eternal, free, able to do anything, is perfectly good, is the proper object of human worship and obedience, the creator and sustainer of the universe."
This immediately begs the question of what, if anything, is "like a person without a body". This question-begging is only compounded by the additional qualifications that follow in the statement. 

A few lines down Swinburne also reveals his conclusion that "the question of coherence of belief that there is a god cannot be separated from the question of its truth".

So the void Swinburne opens up at the beginning of the introduction is later revealed to be bottomless at its end.

His book is 324 pages long. That's "Philosophy of Religion" for you. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Hitchens has it.

"How much vanity must be concealed - not too effectively at that - in order to pretend that one is the personal object of a divine plan? How much self-respect must be sacrificed in order that one may squirm continually in an awareness of one's own sin? How many needless assumptions must be made, and how much contortion is required, to receive every new insight of science and manipulate it so as to "fit" with the revealed words of ancient man-made deities? How many saints and miracles and councils and conclaves are required in order first to be able to establish a dogma and then - after infinite pain and loss and absurdity and cruelty - to be forced to rescind one of those dogmas?" 
~ Christopher Hitchens, 
"God is not Great"

Craig caught carping

A 1.5 minute long neat exposé of WLC's debating modus operandi; spin, distortion of facts and aggressive volubility.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Bill Maher on religion.

"Religious people aren’t afraid of other religious people.  Oh sure, sometimes they  kill and hate them.  But they don’t fear them.  They only fear the atheists, because we’re the only ones not clapping during Peter Pan. Because religion is kinda like a conga line.  If one person doesn’t join in, you see yourself through their eyes, and you realise you look like a schmuck."

Sunday, 8 September 2013

The Arrogance of Atheism

Theism: the belief that 13.7 billion years ago some atemporal, immaterial. but omnipotent, omniscient & omnipresent entity created a Universe of a 100 billion galaxies, containing 70 sextillion stars and 10^24 planets just so that after a time interval of 13.695 billion years a particular life-form could evolve on one of the planets to sing the praises of said entity. . 

Atheism: The belief that this is probably not true.