The title of Chapter 2 of this book is titled 'Why Should Anyone Believe Anything At All?', and lo and behold, it actually makes some points I agree with. Truth is something that can be known, or as far as human capacity goes, understood to the point of effective usage, and that it is better to believe something that is true rather than something that is false.
However, while this chapter makes some points I agree with, the authors continue the fallacies of:
1) the progressive atheist straw-man, and;
2) the fallacy I like to call 'nihilism is the opposite of God' - this is where Turek and Geisler (as well as fundamentalist Christians in general) make the inference that anyone who does not believe in any god whatsoever (but specifically their God) is automatically a nihilist, i.e. they have no morals, purpose or direction in life.
This is patently untrue. I would argue (from personal experience, if that is to be considered an argument at all) that being an atheist has made me a better, more caring and considerate person and has allowed me to find my own direction in life, which is reaping financial benefits.
One of the points I do agree with with comes in a section titled 'Western Logic vs Eastern Logic' where Ravi Zacharias (of all people) makes a point that not all logic systems are created equal or are equally useful (my paraphrasing). Completely agree!
But of course, Turek and Geisler keep on shooting at those mythical moral relativist university professors, the same ones I would also take issue with (if I could find any), and then act as if they have defeated every atheist - the very definition of the strawman fallacy. I know it shouldn't upset me, but it does - Turek and Geisler keep shooting down the irrational atheists and the progressive atheists and the atheists who are atheists because it's fashionable, but they are yet to (so far) take on arguments from rational atheists.
It wouldn't annoy me too much if they titled their book "I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be An Irrational Atheist" or "I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be A Liberal Progressive Atheist", but they call their book "I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist", and then Christians keep telling me that this book is the best argument against atheism in general when (so far, two chapters in) it clearly isn't.
The fact that they keep defeating and then trumpeting victory over progressive idiot atheism, then acting as if that defeats atheism as a whole - especially my kind of rational atheism - annoys me. It annoys me to the point I went out and bought this specific domain name to create a website to refute their arguments.
Turek and Geisler's next argument then comes in trying to apply The Roadrunner Tactic to David Hume and Imannuel Kant, no less.
The Roadrunner Tactic, you ask? It's their word-play game that shows that some statements made by atheists (read: moral relativists) are self-defeating and useless. Well, surprise surprise, I agree with that as well. That's why I don't subscribe to irrational atheism which uses self-defeating statements.
So their schtick is to make Hume's Principle of Empirical Verifiability out to be self-defeating by recounting a story of when one of the author's attempted to be a smart-alec during a university course and state that because Hume's Principle was not either true by definition or verifiable empirically, it was self-defeating and thus false.
Just to recount, Hume wrote:
If we take in our hand any volume — of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance — let us ask, “Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number?” No. “Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence?” No. Commit it then to the flames, for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.
Which then leads to the statement that there are only two kinds of meaningful propositions - those that are true by definition (i.e. mathematical, logical, et al), or those that are empirically verifiable. This forms the basis of study called Logical Positivism.
So Geisler, trying to make Hume sound self-defeating, he actually misses Hume's point. By resorting to word games and sophistry to make Hume seem wrong, it shows he hasn't got any arguments to prove Hume wrong on the point he actually made. All Geisler has to do to prove Hume wrong is to show that there are meaningful propositions that aren't true by definition, or that there are meaningful propositions that aren't empirically verifiable - but of course, Christians cannot win on logic or facts, so they do the Presuppositional tactic of twisting definitions to make the square peg fit in the round hole.
But all this misses yet another point - Hume is, at the end, correct! Hume, in stating that meaningful propositions are ones that are true by definition, is the definition of his Principle!
And again, Geisler and Turek miss yet still another point - by (thinking they have succeeded in) defeating Hume, they think they have defeated atheism. They have not defeated atheism, because atheism is not defined by or owned by one person. You can defeat as many people as you want and as many logic positions as you want, but if you cannot prove a god exists, you have not defeated atheism.
Memo to the enemy: If you want to defeat us atheists, all you have to do is either show us a god (whichever one it is you want to prove to us) which would prove that a god exists, or prove beyond objective doubt (i.e. not relying on sophisticated philosophy) that there is a god.
We will no longer be atheists. We may not worship the god you show us, but you will have convinced us our atheism is wrong.
The next part of the chapter takes a swipe at Immanuel Kant, who is quoted as saying, "The structure of your senses and your mind forms all sense data, so you never really know the thing in itself. You only know the thing to you after your senses and mind form it".
And the problem here is what exactly? Kant isn't wrong. The truth about reality is that your brain is a reality interpretation machine. Everything you sense is because your brain facilitates the senses for you.
I was never a big reader of Kant, so the rest of the stuff they write about Kant to refute him, I don't really care for. They can talk as much smack about Kant as they want, but again, just because they defeat one proposition from one atheist at one point in time doesn't mean they've defeated all of atheism for all time.
Anyway, this chapter goes on and on about truth and logic stuff, plays the straw-man a bit more, then ends with this prescient point:
"The bottom line is this: regardless of what the real truth is concerning religion and morality, our lives are greatly affected by it today, and perhaps even in eternity".
Yep. And in my view, theists are yet to prove their god exists, but have no problem in making sure we act as if their god exists.
Until next time, merry Christmas, happy new year, look after yourselves and each other.
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