Why Think When You Already ‘Know’?

little-girl-wearing-big-round-glasses-14230209Quite a few of the objections I hear to theism are based in a particular understanding of theology. It amazes me how many of them come from people who insist ardently that we shouldn’t engage in theology. Alex Rosenberg is a good example; after arguing that all knowledge is scientific (and, consequently, that theology should be ignored as a source of knowledge), he writes this:

A version of theism worth believing must at a minimum attribute to God the intention to produce us and not just some intelligent creature or other (The Atheist’s Guide to Reality, p. 88)

I have no idea how, without undertaking some theology, Rosenberg can reasonably claim to know this. Is it really crucial the teaching of every religion, and even the concept of God, that God meant to produce humans specifically? Is it completely unbelievable that he’d be willing to create (or even did create) different species elsewhere in the universe? Whether one answers ‘yes’ or ‘no’, one has gotten into theology.

This is a common problem. In fact, it is not unlike the oft-heard complaints about the idea that God would have created the whole universe “just for us”. It wasn’t until I heard this complaint that I’d ever even considered the idea that humans are God’s only reason for creating the universe. I’d always assumed that there were many things about creation which God intended. Again, we’re discussing theology whether or not I’m correct.

It is also worth mention that, even if we accept Rosenberg’s position, this is no discredit to theism. He goes on to claim that God couldn’t have seriously intended create us because our coming into being was so improbable. Of course, one would think that doing the improbable would be within the capacity of an omniscient and omnipotent God.

But Rosenberg doesn’t stop to consider such an objection. Doing so would be to partake of the forbidden fruit of studying theology. Never mind that his own position is every bit as theological–the only difference is that it is terrible theology.

This is the reason why so many have argued that an understanding of theology is needed in order to refute God’s existence. It is the only way to know whether or not God, as he is actually defined, is even being addressed by one’s argument.

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4 responses to “Why Think When You Already ‘Know’?

  • Ray R.

    When you speak of god , are you referring to Yaweh , Wotan , Thor , Zeus , Poseidon , Quetzalcoatl , Ra , Amen , Isis , Vishnu , Shiva , Guan – Yu , Guan – Yin , Marduk , Enlil , or another of the thousands of gods invented throughout human history ? Do I really have to know theology in order to claim that the burden of proof for the existence of any god has not been met ? I dont believe so . In this sense , I would tend to agree with Dawkins . One not need study ” Faeriology ” , in order to claim Fairies don’t exist . If you have a preference for one particular god over another , what is your reason ? Why is the particular god ( or gods ) in which you just happen to believe in real , and the others not . Please provide some evidence .

    • Debilis

      I speak of the God of Christianity.

      Do I really have to know theology in order to claim that the burden of proof for the existence of any god has not been met ?
      Yes. You have to know enough theology to know whether or not that statement is true.

      The type of support needed would be vastly different for, say, a pagan god and a transcendental God. Rosenberg, like most of the atheists I encounter on the internet, doesn’t understand this difference. He gives a half-hearted attack against pagan deities and seems to think that covers them all.

      But I’ve written about the “fariyology” comment already. If one is going to comment about a subject, one should know something about it first.

      If you have a preference for one particular god over another , what is your reason ?
      Almost none of the proposed gods in all of the history of religion are supported by the arguments given on this blog (or by modern theists more generally). Neither the first cause argument, the argument from the regularity of the universe, the argument from morality, the argument from fine tuning, nor most any of the others do the slightest thing to support over 99% of gods.

      This is in addition to the fact that almost none of the arguments given against gods on the internet apply to the God of Christianity.

      But, explaining why that is would require teaching some theology. It is no wonder, then, that Dawkins and Rosenberg don’t know this.

      Why is the particular god ( or gods ) in which you just happen to believe in real , and the others not . Please provide some evidence.
      I’ve already posted quite a few reasons to believe, including objective morality, the applicability of science, teleology, the irreducibility of mind, and the contingency of the universe among others.

      But, you seem to speak as if materialism is true unless one can demonstrate that exactly one god-concept is superior to all the others. This is simply false.

      Materialism is not only completely unsupported, but I’ve put up quite a few reasons why it is false. Simply demanding evidence for God does not change that fact.

      • Ray R.

        Again , there is no evidence for the existence of any god . I really don’t see any more evidence for the existence of the god of Christianity , than for , say , Vishnu . A religious person born in India would more likely than not argue vociferously that their deities exist , while the god of Christianity doesn’t . That person would offer the same , or very similar reasons for disbelieving in the Christian god , that you offer for disbelieving in their gods . The vast majority of people follow the religion of their parents , and that in turn is usually dictated by where they are born . Had you been born in Saudi Arabia or India , it is almost certain that you would not be a Christian .
        The fine tuning argument is not evidence , it is a philosophical argument based on faulty premises . Philosophy is a fine and wonderful human construct , but as a tool for determining the nature of the world around us , it , like religion , has largely been replaced by science . That is the reason you won’t ever see the likes of great religious thinkers like Tertullion , Augustine or Aquinas again .

    • Debilis

      If you’re simply referring to a lack of evidence, there’s no reason to mention Vishnu.

      If a Hindu would like to show up, I’ll point out the problems with Vishnu that don’t apply to the Christian God. But that argument has nothing to do with why materialism is false.

      Rather, we need to look at the evidence I’ve cited. I named the arguments directly in my last comment, and provided links to longer discussions. Simply repeating that “there is no evidence” is not a response.

      But, you do at least mention the fine tuning argument, but you don’t say anything about which premises you reject, or why you reject them.

      As to the attack on philosophy, there is no evidence at all that metaphysics (which is the relevant branch) has been “replaced by science”. In fact, it has not; simply saying that it has, and predicting (without support) that there will never be great religious thinkers does nothing to show that this is the case.

      Last, and most importantly, there isn’t any evidence here that materialism is true. If you really believe that we shouldn’t accept any claim without evidence, then we should expect some evidence for materialism.

      And this is what no one can provide me. In spite of years of asking, no materialist who has requested evidence for God has ever been able to give me any evidence whatsoever that materialism is true.

      This leads me to think that the request is more rhetoric than rational.

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