Rejecting the Entire Conversation

imagesIt seems that attacking the idea that metaphysics is a valid discipline is a staple response of many in the discussion over God’s existence.

Personally, I find this rather astonishing. When I first began debating, I expected requests for evidence, questions about the existence of evil and suffering, and discussion about how evolution relates to theism. What I didn’t expect is a complete rejection of the topic for discussion.

Rather, I assumed that anyone showing up for a metaphysical debate already agreed that metaphysics was a valid topic to discuss. The fact that so many disagreed on this point, and seemed to feel no hesitation about rejecting (even ridiculing) metaphysics left me with two possible theories:

1. The New Atheist movement is interested only in rhetorical persuasion, and is therefore unconcerned about whether or not its claims are logically consistent.

2. These people don’t actually know what metaphysics is, and are unaware that their own position is every bit as metaphysical as theism.

I tend to suspect that the former idea is more true of people like Dawkins, Krauss, and Harris than their lip-service to reason would have us believe, but I like to think that the latter is the main issue for most (that being the more morally excusable of the two).

As such, I find that most who attack metaphysics get very stumped when one explains what the use of metaphysics actually means. In most of these debates, it is simply applying logic to the question at hand. And, so far, I’ve not encountered anyone willing to respond by dismissing logic.

Moreover, most seem hesitant to dismiss those metaphysical principals that are the basis of science – at least, so long as it is being pointed out that they would be demising science by doing so. As such, the metaphysical concepts of Ockham’s Razor and Sufficient Reason are a little more safe than others.

I say “a little more” because so many have been willing to reject sufficient reason in discussions on, say, the Kalam Cosmological Argument (which asserts that the universe must have a cause). It seems odd that the basis of science isn’t more treasured by this group. But, rather than read implications into that, my point is that the rejection of these principles is deeply anti-science, and should be rejected on those grounds.

I suspect that it is going to become increasingly well-known that a rejection of metaphysics is a rejection of science (not to mention all rationality). If that happens, Those who have based their argument in the rejection of metaphysics will begin to look very foolish.

So, for those who are simply interested in the rhetorical value of sound-bytes, this may not be the wisest choice, even then.


2 responses to “Rejecting the Entire Conversation

  • Arkenaten

    The way you present your arguments/dress them up gives them a similar feel to ID, and the way they tacitly deny that they are Creationists.

    I think I would rather accept what Hume said (though I know little about him)

    Once again, if honesty is the best policy, ditch the metaphysics for now and lets examine where you derive your notion of truth namely the bible.
    Let’s sort this out first, step by step, story by story, along with supposed divine revelation, then we can gladly discuss metaphysics all day long.

    Show me the truth of Moses and Exodus, the story of creation and the garden of Eden, and Noah.
    Oh…and if you are up for it,walking on water.and the Resurrection.

    Until then, metaphysics is nothing but ‘mind masturbation’.

    • Debilis

      I don’t make any claims about what the average person will feel when they read my thoughts.

      But I do know something of Hume, and he was simply wrong. By his own standards, the page he wrote his argument on should be burned. As such, it refutes itself.

      Why would throwing out metaphysics be more honest? I actually believe that they are important (and did since long before I became a Christian). “Ditching” metaphysics is what would be dishonest for me.

      But how do you know that the Bible is where I derive my notion of truth? Personally, I don’t know that. I’d say that I’ve derived it from experience. I have no idea how one would derive a notion of truth from the Bible. One has to already have a notion of truth in order to understand it in the first place.

      But, no, metaphysics is not something we can dismiss as irrelevant until I can prove the truth of various sections of the Bible (or, rather, your interpretation of those sections).

      These are entirely different subjects. And I specifically refer to metaphysics because:

      1. It isn’t based on the Bible (it pre-dates Christianity, in fact), and

      2. It is clearly a valid area of study (it is the basis of science, for instance).

      It is a strange non-sequitur to say “we can’t deal with metaphysics until you’ve proved that Christianity is true”. Are you claiming that only Christians can engage in metaphysics? That one must believe in the Bible in order to know whether or not the foundations of the scientific method are valid?

      It seems rather strange if you are. But, if not, then there is no reason at all to make this demand.

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