Theists or atheists: Who is more rational?

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The Opinion Pages in the New York Times on Sunday had an intriguing feature, asking whether atheism is a rational belief. A theologian argues in the piece  that there's an absence of evidence to support atheism as a logical position, that the best atheists could prove is that God might not exist.

Atheists, on the other hand, would say that burden of proof in this debate rests on the believers, because the amount of evil in the world contradicts the existence of God.

Guests:

William Lane Craig, Research Professor of Philosophy at the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University, a private Christian University based in La Mirada, California

Michael Shermer, founder of Skeptic Magazine        

Written By: AirTalk
continue to source article at scpr.org

22 COMMENTS

  1. “that the best atheists could prove is that God might not exist”

    And still doing better than the theist who can’t prove that it does. :) Seriously, if this is the best you can do … don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Adios religion thanks for the bedtime stories and Christmas … but take the rest of it with you on your way out.

    Note to theists: don’t try to argue at the level of reason and even worse evidence. When you have to go to such convoluted lengths to try and make the dots join up it has to take a special kind of desperate obliviousness to keep talking.

  2. @OP – Theists or atheists: Who is more rational?

    This is the wrong question.

    The question should be:- “Who applies what rationality they have to the evidence in the real world/universe?”

    Then it is “No Contest”!

    Guests: – William Lane Craig, Research Professor of Philosophy

    Ha! ha! ha! “Research?”????? Expert in filledsloppery – Pass the obfuscation word-shovel and fallacy generator! -
    enough said!

  3. @OP – A theologian argues in the piece that there’s an absence of evidence to support atheism as a logical position, that the best atheists could prove is that God might not exist.

    Which god??? There are thousands of them, and no default assumptions to any of them.

    Theologians have been making up this sort of rubbish since there were theologians. It simply demonstrates their inability to think logically or to avoid the presuppositions of circular thinking.

    Shouting assertions about logic, is not the same as actually using it as a deductive process!

    Atheists, on the other hand,

    Who would have guessed a false dichotomy would follow?

    would say that burden of proof in this debate rests on the believers,

    Yep! Evidence is required for which ever gods the theologians claim to follow!

    because the amount of evil in the world contradicts the existence of God.

    That is a minor point, but is essentially a strawman – side-tracking away from the real issues of the burden of proof and the absence of evidence for gods or any particular god.

    It just looks like more fallaciously entangled Craig ramblings.

  4. “… asking whether atheism is a rational belief.”

    Please correct me if I am wrong, because this matters. Arguably, a belief is not a rational belief. Rational means you did some work to get there, belief means you gave up on the work and just got there (via the thought equivalent of a magic carpet).

    • In reply to #9 by 4as4is4:

      “… asking whether atheism is a rational belief.”

      Please correct me if I am wrong, because this matters. Arguably, a belief is not a rational belief. Rational means you did some work to get there, belief means you gave up on the work and just got there (via the thought equivalent of a magic carpet…

      I think you are confusing belief with faith. You can believe in something because of evidence and disbelieve a claim because you don’t think it has met the burden of proof.
      However you do not need evidence to disprove something in order not to accept a claim. As SaganTheCat has already said lack of belief is not a belief. The reason why belief and disbelief are not the same and why you can’t logically just turn !belief into belief is that belief implies there is a claim to be evaluated – if you don’t believe a claim you aren’t necessarily providing a claim to be evaluated. I can disbelieve in a God as a prime mover without having to provide a counter explanation of how the universe formed or how life started and just say I don’t know.

  5. “You say atheism requires evidence to support it”

    Surely the whole point about what we have been finding out via investigation, examination, theorising, challenge and back to investigation, is that things have built up according to bottom-up processes? The duck, rather than being commanded or intended into duckhood, was simply the produce of an earlier duck, stretching back over millions of earlier ducks that incrementally approximate to earlier life forms. The duck is contingent on and adapted to chemicals, other life forms, food supply, warmth, sunlight, moisture, instincts… There is simply no trace of external instruction (which would reveal itself in something that is NOT contingent on chemicals, food supply etc.). We looked.

    And the desperate reach into the fine-tuning argument (popular among theists because it is too mathematically daunting for most people to explain without getting in a knot) has reduced the top-down Creator argument to its last dwindling refuge. The Seven Numbers are the bottom of everything, not a commanding height of complexity, morality and the creation of life. Most things you can think of that are higher up the complexity ladder than these numbers have been explained, and of the Creator, not a trace.

    I am, for example, quite happy to state that Pengiun Books did not start the 2003 Iraq War. I can’t prove so in the narrow definition that I uncover a carved plaque stating that this was so, but I can be fairly confident that the lines of communication, influence, benefit and so on that might prove me wrong do not and never did exist.

  6. ” Theists or atheists: Who is more rational? “

    I ma beginning to wonder.

    Why waste time ” debating ” these pontificating pustules such as WLC when time and time again they are show as bags of empty verbosity easily pricked and burst with a call for evidence.

    Then I remember at one time, long ago, I was sitting on the fence and rationality came along tipping me over to the better side of this endless debate.

  7. “the best atheists could prove is that God might not exist”. Right. The thing is, it does depend on someone’s definition of “God”. If you go Spinoza on the thing, then no one can prove there is no “God”. If you define “God”, as that omnisicient, omnipotent and inherently “good” entity, then I’m quite sure Epicurus (I think the quote is attributed to him), made that said entity vanish in a puff of logic with that dilemma of evil argument. I am also still waiting for proof that “God” might exist. Isn’t having proof that it might not exist not better than no proof that it might exist? Because, let’s be honest, there is no such proof, unless you think “It might exist because an old book tells me so” counts as proof, which it doesn’t.

  8. I have to give WLC some credit for being such a slick snake oil salesman. When you look at the product, there’s nothing there, – but hold on what’s this. ? A plethora of philosophical terms that sound so reasonable and logical. The “first cause” argument, every action has a cause, goes back infinitely into the past, except the universe is some 13.82 billion years old. What caused the big bang ? This is where the salesman slips in his “outside the universe” God, because his logic demands a “cause”.

    Then comes the sleight of hand where this first cause isn’t just any old god, – no this one is special and of course happens to be Jesus ! The Jewish carpenter, who constructed the universe, even though He was outside of space and time ! Then this same carpenter is born of a virgin, as a man, dies as a man, and floats off to join Himself in heaven !

    Of course when asked for evidence, WLC has none and instead relies on his philosophical and linguistic skills. King Bloody Cobra, crawling on its belly among the lowlife of ideas !

  9. I read the intro on this page. “Oh no” I thought “bad start – atheists as belief”, then it got worse

    Guests:

    William Lane Craig,

    I don’t now if I can bare to look at the actual article.

  10. WL Craig is employed at ‘a private Christian University’. These anti-academic institutions are sprouting up all over. There is no obvious reason to pay any attention to their employees who are advocates for a cause and not serious academics.

  11. Atheists, on the other hand, would say that burden of proof in this debate rests on the believers, because the amount of evil in the world contradicts the existence of God.

    Um no. Even if the world were full of love and hugs, atheists would still argue the burden of proof is on the claimant because and only because they are the claimant. If you make a claim you back a claim. Hitch said it quite rightly, claims without evidence and be rejected without evidence. That is all. The amount of “evil” (there is no such thing) and or “happiness” (a vague value) are not proof for or against a god or gods.

  12. Theists or atheists: Who is more rational? What do we mean by “rational” in this question? Those who are thinking more clearly or sensibly or thoughtfully? How can any person be so certain that their perception of reality is accurate or likely to be accurate? Could it be that all of us, atheist, theist, or otherwise, are misguided in our understanding of reality? Could it be that some of us are able to sense, see, experience, parts of reality that others cannot? Could it be that reality is made up of various or endless realities? Could it be that reality is endlessly changing, and therefore impossible to define? Who can be so certain?

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