Skip to main content

A Place for Honesty, Civility, and Clarity in the Discussion of Christian Theism

Hi all,

This is my first post on my own blog. As such, I should say a few words about my aims. Although I enjoy scrolling through a number of blogs regarding theism in general, and christian theism in particular, I'm often discouraged at the tone of the discussion. It's all too easy for interlocutors to be so caught up in "dueling" their "opponents" that they lose sight of the goal, viz., the pursuit of truth and understanding and the avoidance of falsehoods and incomprehension. I have no illusions about changing all of this, but at least I can try to make a difference, however trifling. Let me just say what should be obvious: any one of us, including myself, may be completely wrong about our views on some matter. Therefore, it's important to cultivate truth-conducive intellectual virtues that will increase the likelihood that we'll come to have more true beliefs than false ones. Thus, one of my main goals for this blog will be to exercise, as best as I can, the virtues of honesty, civility, humility, and clarity. I take these to involve the following: giving the best and most powerful construal of the points of one's interlocutor; giving one's interlocutor the benefit of the doubt; pursuing truth instead of "victory"; aiming to understand and internalize one's interlocutor's views before a critique ever occurs to one. In doing so, I ask those who may choose to join the discussion here to do the same. In the unlikely event that someone chooses to join the discussion, yet expresses their points in a way that plainly goes against these aims, I'm afraid that their comments will be removed.

Regards,

exapologist

Comments

John W. Loftus said…
This is the way to have a civil conversation, guy! I'll put a link to you on DC! We have so much traffic at DC that I couldn't keep up with moderating the comments, but maybe I should.
Wrightsaid said…
A noble endeavor... Debunking Christianity seemed to spiral into another direction from that which it initially proposed. I hope that you will have the time to moderate comments and it won't prove a burdensome employment.
exapologist said…
Hey guys,

I think I'll take your advice and turn off the "moderate comments" function.
Dave Armstrong said…
Excellent and laudable goal. I could write a long article (if not quite a book) about the personal insults and unnecessary nonsense I've already been subjected to at another blog devoted to analyzing the woeful, pathetic deficiencies of Christianity and the supposed manifest lack of character of her defenders (and I haven't been there very long: about a month, I think).

One example of many: one person (an atheist) who frequents there came to my blog and stated that I was "very likely mad." What a way to start a constructive conversation, huh? LOL But then, amazingly enough, he went on to say that he really wants to debate me and I could have free reign to say my piece on his blog.

This person, in the same group of replies, had also decided that I was "not capable of any argument whatsoever", I replied:

"Of course I am not! What person who is 'very likely mad' would be???!!!

"I'd have to be 'very likely mad' to be stupid enough to attempt 'debate' with a person who thinks I am 'very likely mad'.

"And so, wishing to think that I am indeed not (at least to keep up the illusion as long as I can), there really is no choice here."

:-) I thought that was a pretty funny exchange, if I do say so. But it proves the point, does it not? I also wrote:

"It's funny how similar many 'dialogues' with atheists [note: not all; I've had lots of very good, enjoyable ones myself] are to dialogues with anti-Catholics [I'm a Catholic]. One thinks you are nuts, and the other thinks you are an unregenerate damned soul. Which is the worse insult? In any event, dialogue is clearly impossible with such hostile baggage attached to it."

Though I've been absurdly accused of doing something similar to this sort of tripe, I have not at all. I've critiqued ideas. Some folks can't handle that. It makes 'em insecure and really, really mad. Then they're not for me to debate with, because I don't get really really mad or insecure when my opinions are critiqued. I get really really happy that someone has the wherewithal to make a critique that is worthwhile considering, and I always love a challenge. I also wrote a post:

Are all Atheists Utterly "Wicked and Evil"? The Multiple Complex Causes of Atheist Disbelief, Romans 1 and 2, and the Possibility of Atheists' Salvation

http://socrates58.blogspot.com/2006/06/are-all-atheists-utterly-wicked-and.html

It's tough to maintain civility. I hope you succeed. Then this will be one of those very rare places on the Internet where this wonderful state of affairs can actually be achieved. I wish you the best, but be prepared to do some serious moderating for this to occur (I speak as one with almost eleven years' experience on all sorts of Internet lists and boards, and the dynamics are almost always the same, regardless of worldview; I'm just as disgusted with Christian boards, and almost totally ignore them). You'll have to almost certainly ban people: sometimes fellow atheists.

Dave Armstrong
(Catholic and Christian apologist)
exapologist said…
Hi Dave,

It's nice to meet you! I'm not sure if you're assuming this -- so please let me know if you're not -- but just in case, I want to emphasize that this blog doesn't function as a debate site. The goal is just to take a careful look at arguments related to Christian theism themselves. In other words, we'll be solely focused on expositing arguments fairly, examining each part, and the inferential relations between them, and asking ourselves things such as: is this premise true, or more plausible than not? If so, why, exactly? Does this proposition follow from that one -- whether deductively, inductively, or abductively?

Also, I can't really speak on matters I don't know about, but I'm sorry if you've been attacked by others. But I hope that we can refrain from this on this blog, and can refrain from airing, ahem, our dirty laundry here.

All the best, and I look forward to evaluating arguments with you, if you are so inclined.

Best,

exapologist
Dave Armstrong said…
I want to emphasize that this blog doesn't function as a debate site.

. . . I look forward to evaluating arguments with you, if you are so inclined.


I need to know how you are distinguishing "evaluating arguments" from "debate"? I don't particularly care for formal debate as such. I specialize in informal, conversational, Socratic dialogue. If that is agreeable to you, then we should have a lot of fun. I'd be more than happy to provide a Christian take on the subjects brought up here where I feel I am equipped to comment (and time-permitting, as I do write about a lot of stuff).

I tend to shy away from overly-technical philosophical stuff (where one literally has to be a philosophy grad student, etc.), so some material will be beyond my technical ability to discuss adequately.

Just let me know if I violate the spirit and approach of what you would like to accomplish. Sometimes, any of us are just going along and we find that it is offensive in some way to others, when it was not our intention. And these issues can be very subjective as well.

I don't intend to discuss "dirty laundry" at all. I merely mentioned my recent experiences because it was directly germane to the subject matter of the post.

Thanks for the friendly welcome.

Dave Armstrong

Popular posts from this blog

Epicurean Cosmological Arguments for Matter's Necessity

One can find, through the writings of Lucretius, a powerful yet simple Epicurean argument for matter's (factual or metaphysical) necessity. In simplest terms, the argument is that since matter exists, and since nothing can come from nothing, matter is eternal and uncreated, and is therefore at least a factually necessary being. 
A stronger version of Epicurus' core argument can be developed by adding an appeal to something in the neighborhood of origin essentialism. The basic line of reasoning here is that being uncreated is an essential property of matter, and thus that the matter at the actual world is essentially uncreated.
Yet stronger versions of the argument could go on from there by appealing to the principle of sufficient reason to argue that whatever plays the role of being eternal and essentially uncreated does not vary from world to world, and thus that matter is a metaphysically necessary being.
It seems to me that this broadly Epicurean line of reasoning is a co…

Notes on Mackie's "Evil and Omnipotence"

0. Introduction
0.1 Mackie argues that the problem of evil proves that either no god exists, or at least that the god of Orthodox Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, does not exist. His argument is roughly the same version of the problem of evil that we’ve been considering.
0.2 Mackie thinks that one can avoid the conclusion that God does not exist only if one admits that either God is not omnipotent (i.e., not all-powerful), or that God is not perfectly good. 0.3 However, he thinks that hardly anyone will be willing to take this route. For doing so leaves one with a conception of a god that isn’t worthy of worship, and therefore not religiously significant.
0.4 After his brief discussion of his version of the problem of evil, he considers most of the main responses to the problem of evil, and concludes that none of them work.

1. First Response and Mackie's Reply
1.1 Response: Good can’t exist without evil; evil is a necessary counterpart to good.
1.2 Mackie’s reply:
1.2.1 this see…

Notes on Swinburne, "On Why God Allows Evil"

Notes on Swinburne’s “Why God Allows Evil”

1. The kinds of goods a theistic god would provide: deeper goods than just “thrills of pleasure and times of contentment” (p. 90). For example:
1.1 Significant freedom and responsibility
1.1.1 for ourselves
1.1.2 for others
1.1.3 for the world in which they live
1.2 Valuable lives
1.2.1 being of significant use to ourselves
1.2.2 being of significant use to each other

2. Kinds of evil
2.1 Moral evil: all the evil caused or permitted by human beings, whether intentionally or through negligence (e.g., murder, theft, etc.)
2.2 Natural evil: all the rest: evil not caused or permitted by human beings (e.g., suffering caused by hurricanes, forest fires, diseases, animal suffering, etc.)

3. The gist of Swinburne’s answer to the problem of evil: God cannot – logically cannot -- give us the goods of significant freedom, responsibility and usefulness without thereby allowing for the possibility of lots of moral and natural evil. This is why he has al…