Conversations with Atheistspage 4
From CI to AM:
>> by the way, Greek philosophy did degenerate
into irrationalism - skepticism ... irrationality of ... existentialists
... post-modernists ... mysticism
... drug culture ... New Age.<<
You are making connections that simply don't exist. I could just as easily say that the religion of Isis degenerated into Judaism which degenerated into Catholicism which degenerated into Satanism and Protestantism.
Also, the term "degenerate" is simply your spin. You cannot prove anything in this list is a degeneration. They are just as likely regenerative.
>> The universe in which they live is much like the universe of the atheist -- impersonal matter is ultimate <<
As opposed to embracing the spiritual non-existent and calling it the friendly ultimate!
This idea of the corruption of matter is not a Christian idea. It's extremely ancient. It's a spiritual existentialism. The world is a cold, hard place so you impose your will on it in a pathetic attempt to crush it -- and then you call it rationality. It's an idea not even fully embraced by Christians. When sects like the gnostics or Cathars tried to zero in on it they were labeled heretics. (1)
>> how do you rationally justify knowledge? << For starters, tell me what predictions you can make with whatever your "knowledge" might be and compare that with the predictions science makes every day.
BTW, all of the above did not even come close to answering Q's original question: Why is the selection of your god more rational than the selection of any other? What you seemed to say was that your god claims to be bigger. So is your ultimate rationality: "Claims of might make right?" Or simply: "Braggarts rule?"
From Alan M to CI:
>You are making connections that simply don't exist. I could just as easily say that the religion of Isis degenerated into Judaism which degenerated into Catholicism which degenerated into Satanism and Protestantism.
Also, the term "degenerate" is simply your spin. You cannot prove anything in this list is a degeneration. They are just as likely regenerative. <
You might try reading any standard history of philosophy to see how this degeneration took place. Gordon Clark's Thales to Dewey is a good one for starters. (2)
>For starters, tell me what predictions you can make with whatever your "knowledge" might be and compare that with the predictions science makes every day.
BTW, all of the above did not even come close to answering Q's original question: Why is the selection of your god more rational than the selection of any other? What you seemed to say was that your god claims to be bigger. So is your ultimate rationality: "Claims of might make right?" Or simply: "Braggarts rule?" <
For one, the Bible predicts pretty clearly how atheists will react to rational arguments when confronted with the possibility that God might exist after all. Try reading Proverbs 10:8; 15:5; 17:10 or the reaction of the philosophers in Athens to the apostle Paul's attack on Greek philosophy in Acts 17. (3)
Elsewhere I have repeated atheist Bertrand Russell's statement of the logically fallacious nature of inductive proof. Here it is again:
"Getting back to empiricism again, let's look at the responses offered by you in its defense. We will begin with this notion of inductive reasoning based on empirical observation. Speaking of the laws of logic, atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell (who was a foremost authority on logic) noted that all arguments based on empirical induction are invalid. They have the logical form of a conclusion drawn from a confirmed prediction. They take the form:
if P is true then Q is true
Q is true
hence P is true
The assertion of the consequent is taken as proof of the antecedent, but any intro textbook on logic shows this to be an invalid argument. Consider this:
If that animal is a dog it has four legs.
That animal has four legs.
That animal is a dog.
But obviously, the animal with four legs could be a cat or one of a thousand others. Yet this is the form of inductive proof used by science. We imagine that the ability to successfully predict an outcome tells us a result about what is real. But all it tells us is that our premise made the prediction work. It did not prove that the premise is true . "
Now, as for the notion that Q's question was not answered, I in fact, did not say merely that my God is bigger. I said that it is an entirely different kind of notion than that of the finite Gods of the ancient Greek religion. We are talking about two totally different world views with entirely different ontologies, epistemologies, ethics, and teleologies. You could benefit by doing some basic reading in Christian theology so that you understand what the concept is we are talking about, before raising irrelevant questions. The definition of the terms must be understood before an intelligent argument can proceed and Q's question would have never been made by someone who really understood what the Christian notion of God is.
To Alan from LA:
> Elsewhere I have repeated atheist Bertrand Russell's statement of the logically fallacious nature of inductive proof. <
Have you read anything from this century?
You know, I ran across a quote from Ernst Mayr that's rather appropriate: "No one resented Darwin's independence of thought more than the philosophers. How could anyone dare to change our concept of the universe and man's position in it without arguing for or against Plato, for or against Descartes, for or against Kant?...No other work advertised to the world the emancipation of science from philosophy as blatantly as did Darwin's Origin."
Cziko comments: "It does appear that an evolution-inspired epistemology is resisted by many philosophers because it is inconsistent with their attempts to establish an infallible, justifiable foundation for human knowledge. In this sense, the continually reappearing themes of providentialist rationalism and instructionist empiricism can be seen as attempts to find some bedrock, some firm base on which to base our knowledge..."
Our ability to perceive whatever reality exists is by way of categories and forms of perception that have been fixed prior to our individual experiences through a selectionist process of fit. Our "axioms" are not arbitrary choices at the fundamental levels but, rather, the end product of our evolution and encoded in our nervous systems. They arose through the interaction between our ancestors and their environment. Those with the best fit to whatever exists survived to procreate.
Our knowledge through individual experience begins with that foundation passed down genetically to us and builds through the same selectionist process. We do use the empirical, we do use induction. And, you bet, it does not "prove" the premise to be "true."
> We imagine that the ability to successfully predict an outcome tells us a result about what is real. But all it tells us is that our premise made the prediction work. <
Yes. And that is how we sift and sort through all the axioms and assumptions that can be made (however big a set of things this may be). That which works. It's a fallible process. It consists often of over generalizations and fallacies. But this is how the process works. And it is the only one available to us.
You can debate until you are out of breath about what's "really out there." But it's a pointless and futile exercise. There is no way we can directly perceive whatever that external reality is. Or even if it is. All we have are our predictive models which, as they work, increase our confidence in their assumptions. And, as they fail, decrease that confidence. But you will never know anything with absolute certainty.
And, again, I return to what I said. That which works, works. It is the best fit to the environment at that time. Science works. It produces. There is reason to have confidence in the assumptions upon which science is based. And I see no reason to jettison them for a mythology that kept the species in a dark age long as christianity did. (4)
From QO to AM:
>> You don't appear to understand the nature of the claim being made by Christians when they assert the existence of the Triune God of the Bible. Thor or Zeus (or any of the other gods for that matter) are simply other beings who are alleged to exist in the context of the larger Being that encompasses all things, i.e. the Universe, Nature, or whatever. The God of the Bible is a different sort of thing altogether. He does not exist as a part of a larger Being, rather he himself is the original uncreated Being. Before there was anything else, only the Triune God existed. The universe was created by him out of nothing and is utterly dependent upon him in every aspect of its own being.
Well, I really can't see how that answers my question, Alan. What is more rational about this God you've described than Thor or Zeus? Why do you seem unable to rationally defend your God?
>> That is why all attempts by the atheist to find such a referent end in frustration.
You must not know many atheists. Obviously you don't appear to understand the nature of their claims about reality or their general perspective. But I will help you. I am an atheist, and I am here to help you understand atheistic thought. You are welcome to ask me any question you please. If I can't answer it -- directly and thoroughly -- I will be so shocked that I may actually take your own views seriously.
You could win a convert here.
>> So it is the atheist who shares the presuppositions of the ancient Greeks (after Plato by the way, Greek philosophy did degenerate into irrationalism -
Well, I know that modern Christian thinking degenerates into irrationalism, but this is the first I've heard that atheistic thought does so. Can you defend this assertion?
Please test me. See if my atheistic thought degenerates into irrationalism.
You may consider this a direct challenge.
>> So you tell me, how do you rationally justify knowledge?
When you say "knowledge," I assume you mean something like "absolute certainty about ultimate truth." Is that your definition? If so, I don't rationally justify my knowledge at all. I admit that I do not know with absolute certainty much of anything at all. I am not a creature of faith. If that's not what you are asking, what are you asking? What do you mean by "knowledge"?
>> As for your revelation ... can you show that you have a revelation whose presuppositions are sufficient to sustain rational discourse?
Of course. Certainly my revelation is superior to the Christian revelation in that regard. I mean, no one is asked to put aside their rational thought and believe in supernatural events in order to accept my revelation. That's just one superficial superiority to my revelation. Do you have questions?
From AM to QO
Message text written by QO
You must not know many atheists. Obviously you don't appear to understand the nature of their claims about reality or their general perspective.<
Well, I've read a good bit of atheistic material by different types of atheists, so I think I have a good grasp of this type of thinking. Philosophical materialism is pretty straightforward as a world view and I would say that, in my experience, it is very often the atheist who does not understand the nature of the logical implications of his own metaphysical position. Now maybe you have a new spin on it, so I'm all ears.
How much have you read in the way of Christian philosophy and apologetics? Have you read Clark, Van Til, Bahnsen, Henry, Carnell? (5) Probably never heard of them right? But they have demolished your kind of thinking pretty thoroughly. As for me, I'll read anything you can come up with that you think will prove your case (providing I can get access to it here in Brazil).
The only issue is I am very busy with work and stuff so my responses might be slow in coming.
From AM to QO:
Okay here are some questions. Please tell me what are your basic axioms from which you begin your interpretation of each of the following areas: epistemology, ontology, ethics, teleology. Then I would like to know what your definition of the word "faith" is.
From AM to QO:
Message text written by QO
Well, I really can't see how that answers my question, Alan. What is more rational about this God you've described than Thor or Zeus? Why do you seem unable to rationally defend your God? <
You ought to be able to see the difference between the two ontologies offered by these very divergent systems. If you don't see it, then you need to do some reading in theology and philosophy to get it clear in your mind exactly what is being discussed here.
Your accusation here I find to be rather humorous. It makes me wonder if you actually read what I posted. But I am waiting for an atheist to show me that his system can provide a basis for rational argumentation in the first place. The atheist must establish an epistemology which makes it possible to prove anything. If he cannot do that, then he really cannot demand anything in the nature of proof from anybody.
From IL to AM:
Message text written by Alan Myatt
>You don't appear to understand the nature of the claim being made by Christians when they assert the existence of the Triune God of the Bible.<
Well Alan, God tells me that you don't get the whole thing at all.
So, God tells me you are wrong.
--I (shall I repeat that?) (6)
From LA to Alan M:
> I would respond, perhaps if we start with God and his revelation, then that revelation will give us the truth we need. And from there maybe we can get to the rest of the natural world/universe. At least it's worthy of consideration. <
Please. You go through all these semantic games obviously to obscure that the naturalist view works and produces results. And the more real world results a model produces, the more confidence we have in its premises. (6)
You keep heading this way guy, you're going to reduce things to such an arbitrary level, the only way for the "gods" to sort things out are going to be religious wars between their followers.
From Alan M to J
Message text written by J
>The only demonstrable absolute in the world is that there's no other absolutes. <G><
That works until you come home and find out that it was your house that got broken into and ransacked. Then you want justice. And an objective standard of justice presupposes an absolute standard of morality.
From IL to AM
Message text written by Alan Myatt
>That works until you come home and find out that it was your house that got broken into and ransacked. Then you want justice. And an objective standard of justice presupposes an absolute standard of morality.<
Golly, I'm not sure exactly how you could be more incorrect, but I feel you will manage.
Tell you what Alan, just to cut to the quick of this, why don't you detail just one moral absolute?
-I (an absolute is something that does not change according to time, custom, or circumstances)
From LA to IL
> Tell you what Alan, just to cut to the quick of this, why don't you detail just one moral absolute? <
I'm not sure he'll be able to as--far as I can tell from the arguments in his posts--none of our senses report anything real to us so he'll not be able to find his keyboard.
L (I'm not really here)
From IL to LA
Message text written by LA
> I'm not sure he'll be able to as--far as I can tell from the arguments in his posts--none of our senses report anything real to us so he'll not be able to find his keyboard.
L (I'm not really here)<
Well that explains a lot. I mean, i could see everyone but you and I could read everything but his posts.
I stink, therefor I bathe.
--I (moving the discussion to the hot tub for a beer and a snack)
From L to IL
> I stink, therefor I bathe.
But then, of course, if you had bathed, you wouldn't stink in the first place.
From Alan M to IL
Message text written by IL
me > >That works until you come home and find out that it was your house that got broken into and ransacked. Then you want justice. And an objective standard of justice presupposes an absolute standard of morality.<
you>Golly, I'm not sure exactly how you could be more incorrect, but I feel you will manage.
Tell you what Alan, just to cut to the quick of this, why don't you detail just one moral absolute?
--I (an absolute is something that does not change according to time, custom, or circumstances) <
I've been enjoying your posts. They are quite entertaining. It is taking some time to get my responses together. I was traveling last weekend (it was a holiday here in Brazil) and now I've got a lot of work to get caught up on. I hope to put together a more lengthy general response to you F, B, and L, although you will find a few shorter ones here before that.
Well, you want me to cut to the quick, so I'll try to oblige.
First, your definition of an absolute illustrates the nature of the problem that atheism generates. That is, on the basis of atheistic assumptions there are no absolutes. You are asking me to prove a proposition that belongs to Christian theism on the basis of atheistic assumptions. That, of course, cannot be done. My response is to challenge the validity of the atheist assumptions by asserting that your definition of an absolute is in error. Your definition is essentially one that would be appropriate for the anthropologist who, as a social scientist, wants to describe how it is that societies behave. However, ethics is not primarily about how people behave. It is about how they ought to behave, regardless of what they actually do. So the first thing to do before trying to discover a specific example of a thing is to define correctly what it is. If I want to know whether or not there are mice in the cellar then I have to know what a mouse is before I go and look. If you want to know whether or not there are moral absolutes then you have to know what a moral absolute is first. So here is a definition that would be appropriate in ethical theory:
A moral absolute is a principle of human conduct that ought to be adhered to by all people of all cultures at all times.
The fact that people do not follow it does not mean it is not an absolute. Essentially, this position asserts that there are some things that are intrinsically good and some that are intrinsically evil, regardless of social convention or human opinion. By this definition we will discover that absolutes are general principles which may have different applications depending on the circumstances. That is to say, I believe in and defend the existence of an objective morality. Clearly the existence of an objective and transcendent moral order is necessary for the existence of moral absolutes. And such a moral order can only exist if there is a personal Creator God, distinct from and sovereign over the universe. Hence, in atheism there can never be true moral absolutes. Only opinions.
So you asked me to name one moral absolute. I'll name two. These are moral principles that all people at all times should obey. They are, as summarized by Jesus in Mark 12:28-34, 1) Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. An atheist would not accept the first, but would you want to argue that the second should not be practiced? Unfortunately, none of us has been wholly successful at it. But it qualifies as an absolute that everyone should adhere to, if we grant that the biblical God exists. If we deny that he exists, then there really is no compelling reason why this or any other moral code should be universally binding. (8)
Now, I am curious to know if you think there is such a thing as justice. How would you define it? How could objective justice exist in a world without any moral absolutes? Why was Hitler wrong?
Peace to you,
From IL to Alan Myatt,
>First, your definition of an absolute illustrates the nature of the problem that atheism generates.<
You're an atheist?
>> You are asking me to prove a proposition that belongs to Christian theism on the basis of atheistic assumptions. <<
Nope. You made a statement of fact. I am asking you to support that statement of fact. You have stated that there are moral absolutes. Define one.
>> My response is to challenge the validity of the atheist assumptions by asserting that your definition of an absolute is in error.<<
So, you define an absolute as something other than a basic unchangable item? Is absolute zero around -459 F or is it exactly -459.67 F?
The problem here Alan is that it does not appear as if you understand the difference between logic and opinion. You can hold any opinion you want, but when you state it is fact, well, there are certain practices that must be followed.
>> So here is a definition that would be appropriate in ethical theory:
A moral absolute is a principle of human conduct that ought to be adhered to by all people of all cultures at all times.<<
Well, let's take your definition at face value. Can you give one now?
>> By this definition we will discover that absolutes are general principles which may have different applications depending on the circumstances.<<
So an absolute is conditional? And wet is dry, black is white, red is blue, rich is poor, yada, yada, yada.
>> Clearly the existence of an objective and transcendent moral order is necessary for the existence of moral absolutes. And such a moral order can only exist if there is a personal Creator God, distinct from and sovereign over the universe. Hence, in atheism there can never be true moral absolutes. Only opinions.<<
You have twisted yourself a nice pretzel there Alan. It's not right, it's unsupported by anything, but h***, you actually took time to write it. What a waste.
Tell you what - God tells me you are wrong. He said it, I believe it, that settles it.
>> 1) Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. An atheist would not accept the first, but would you want to argue that the second should not be practiced?<<
Easy - I can't imagine circumstances where I would kill myself. If my neighbor attacked my family, i would have no problem ending their life.
As for loving God etc, that ain't a moral absolute. But bad try.
>>Now, I am curious to know if you think there is such a thing as justice. How would you define it?<<
Whichever way suited me at the moment.
>>How could objective justice exist in a world without any moral absolutes?<<
Well, reality dictates that justice is defined by the culture.
>> Why was Hitler wrong?<<
Because the winning side says so. Me, I happen to agree with the winning side, but I am learned enough to realize that Hitler never considered what he was doing as wrong. Stalin did not concern himself over it too awful much either. The KKK believe they are doing right. Me, I believe they are childish, arrogant, whining, simpletons, but that's just me.
The sad thing about this whole conversation Alan is that you believe you've made any point at all. Here's a clue Alan, even in philosophy it is much preferred that the statements made not be self contradictory.
--I (I fear you will ignore mine and God's advice)
First of all, I did not see a violation of the law of contradiction in my response, so if it is there you need to specifically point out it.
Secondly, I want to point out that it is not I that have introduced a bizarre definition into the discussion. It is you who have done so. You have changed the definition of ethics to fit your preconceived notion of absolutes as dictated by your atheistic assumptions. Clearly you don't have a clue as to what ethics is. Why not get a few intro texts and do some reading? Ethics is about what ought to be, not what is. For over 2000 years philosophers and ethicists have understood the definition of a moral absolute to be a principle that everyone ought to obey, regardless of whether or not they do. Now you want to change the definition to support your own presuppositions (which you of course, do not have in the first place).
Ethics are not the same as physical entities, and hence notions such as absolute zero are irrelevant. This is a serious category mistake, and is a completely fallacious comparison. Maybe I should rephrase my definition of an absolute by saying that my definition is of an ethical absolute. You defined it as something that is always practiced by all people everywhere. You are not going to find many philosophers and ethicists defending that kind of a definition because it has never been considered the correct definition of ethics.
Nope IL, you cannot simply arbitrarily redefine terms like ethics, that have been a part of philosophical discourse for thousands of years, just to suit your idiosyncratic notions of existence. Ethics is about oughtness, and there are absolute oughts. But not in an atheist's universe.
Your decision to kill your neighbor in defense of your family is also purely arbitrary. You happen to have an irrational emotional attachment to them. I bet if your kid were raped you would be outraged and even more upset if the perpetrator got away with. You would be looking for justice, not an opinion.
From ZC to Alan M
>>A moral absolute is a principal of human conduct that ought to be adhered to by all people of all cultures at all times.<<
Your examples of "loving" God or your neighbor do not describe "conduct" and therefore do not describe a moral absolute by your own definition. (BTW, you are "asserting," not demonstrating, the invalidity of empiricism. You are "demonstrating" the opposite, however unintentionally.)
Whether Hitler was "wrong" depends on the point of view. Of course, the overwhelming consensus of humanity, from a myriad of points of view, condemns Hitler. But your question itself exposes the fallacy of your assertion regarding a moral absolute. According to your Biblical authority, you are required to love Hitler as yourself. What then, would your "conduct" have been toward Hitler?
From Alan M to ZC
The Greek word agape, which is the one (of four possible Greek words) used for love here, describes primarily one's conduct and not necessarily how one feels about someone else. The moral absolute, then is that we must act in accordance with the dictates of love towards all people, even our enemies like Hitler. That does not preclude justice, but rather supports it. Also, there are situations where love for others (say the Jews) would demand that Hitler be brought to justice. Your world view has no rational basis for the notion of justice however. It is all a matter of preference only.
You tell me what love is on the basis of atheism? A biological reaction based on hormones? A mechanism for the survival of the human race? What ultimate meaning does it have in a universe where everything ultimately reduces to particles of impersonal matter and energy? And why should anyone care about the survival of the human race when in the end it will all be destroyed anyway?
Why should point of view have anything to do with whether Hitler was wrong? In your universe all points of view are equally valid or equally vacuous. The word wrong implies a standard by which wrong could be determined. But only arbitrary standards could exist in your universe. You would be more consistent to say that whether one agreed with Hitler or not is a matter of one's point of view. In other words, whether one agreed with Hitler or not is a matter of whether one agreed with Hitler or not. There are no rational ethics in an atheist universe because ethics is about oughtness and there is no ought in an atheist universe. Only arbitrary opinions.
I have elsewhere demonstrated the invalidity of empiricism as an epistemology by showing it to be logically incoherent, incapable of accounting for human experience, and hence, irrational. Logical demonstration is a demonstration and not a mere assertion. But in any case, Hume and the Greek skeptics have already made the case better than I. Refute them if you will. Resolve the difficulties they raise for empiricism. Nobody else in the history of philosophy has. Bertrand Russell spent about 70 years trying. He never succeeded. So go for it.
(1) This is an interesting twist . He takes the argument against the ultimacy of matter to be an attack on matter itself, sort of like the gnostic affirmation that all matter is corrupt and evil. This is a straw man argument, since nowhere did I assert or imply that matter is corrupt or evil. In any case, the Christian doctrine of creation affirms that matter is good, because God created it and declared it to be so. In fact, matter could never be seen as good in the absence of a transcendent moral referent that could give it value. In the materialist universe, matter just is, that's all. One could argue that for the materialist all matter will eventually be corrupted due to the unrelenting progress of entropy that will eventually render it into a static state of chaos and disorder. But the point here is to note that the argument against the ultimacy of matter is the only basis for asserting that matter is good in the first place.
(2) At times atheists make assertions based on a lack of familiarity with the history of philosophy and of Christian theology in general. This occurred several times as the discussion developed. Any standard history of philosophy documents the progression from Thales to skepticism and finally to the gnostic mysticism of Plotinus. Another good resource is C. Gregg Singer, From Rationalism to Irrationality which shows clearly how modern thought has degenerated into irrationalism under the influence of Greek presuppositions.
(3) Proverbs 10:8 - "The wise of hearts will receive commands, but the babbling fool will be thrown down." 15:5 "A fool rejects his father's discipline, but he who regards reproof is prudent." 17:10 - "A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding, than a hundred blows into a fool." (NIV) The identity of the fool is given for us in Psalm 14:1, "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'". The fool refuses to receive correction when confronted. He arrogantly escalates his rebellion against his Creator, unless the Holy Spirit graciously grants him repentance. He suppresses the truth in unrighteousness as Paul outlines in Romans 1:18ff, and when confronted with the overwhelming reality of God, he still refuses correction. professing himself to be wise, but demonstrating his folly for all to see. In Acts 17, at the end of Paul's sermon, some laugh at him, a few others say they want to hear more, and a final few believe.
(4) This response shows most clearly the self-contradictory nature of naturalistic, or what this discussant calls evolutionary, epistemology. If it is true that, "You can debate until you are out of breath about what's "really out there." But it's a pointless and futile exercise. There is no way we can directly perceive whatever that external reality is. Or even if it is." and "you will never know anything with absolute certainty.", then on what rational basis could anyone ever know that, "Our ability to perceive whatever reality exists is by way of categories and forms of perception that have been fixed prior to our individual experiences through a selectionist process of fit. Our "axioms" are not arbitrary choices at the fundamental levels but, rather, the end product of our evolution and encoded in our nervous systems. They arose through the interaction between our ancestors and their environment. Those with the best fit to whatever exists survived to procreate."? The naturalist claim to explain the capacity for knowledge as a result of evolution is based on the alleged knowledge that evolution occurred in the first place. But if truth cannot be known on the basis of evolutionary epistemology, then how does he know that the theory of evolution is true?
(5) See Gordon Clark, Three Types of Religious Philosophy, Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, Greg Bahnsen, Always Ready (see also the taped debate between Bahnsen and atheist Gordon Stein), Carl. F. H. Henry, God, Revelation and Authority, six volumes, E. J. Carnell, Introduction to Christian Apologetics .
(6) At this point this particular discussant began resorting to ridicule and ad hominem attacks. The posts became so offensive that eventually I quit responding to them. There was simply no substantive content to respond to. I take it as a rule of thumb that when a debater begins to resort to ridicule against the person of his opponent, that this is an admission of the intellectual vacuity of his own position. Unfortunately, in my experience of dealing with atheists there are those who resort to this, often becoming quite nasty. They simply run out of arguments, and under the weight of seeing their position demolished, they respond with rage and abusive language. This is not the case with all atheists. Many are very civil and polite. It is most unfortunate that Christians sometimes engage in these tactics as well. In any case, it never is helpful.
(7) This seems to be a form of pragmatism, in the tradition of William James. It has been thoroughly refuted in the above mentioned works as well as the helpful Guide to Philosophy by C. E. M. Joad. pp. 448 - 464.
(8) Unfortunately I missed a great opportunity here by not posing another absolute, but I did not think of it until long after these discussions were over. If I were to answer this post again I would present the following as a moral absolute and challenge any atheist to argue against it. Here it is: No man should have sexual relations with a two year old. It is always objectively wrong and therefore immoral to molest a child. I seriously doubt that any atheist would want to argue against this position, but the unwillingness to assert that in at least one circumstance it would be okay to perform such an act constitutes an admission that there is at least this moral absolute. Then the question becomes, if atheism is true, why not? If the moral absolute holds, then atheism cannot be true.
Alan Myatt, Ph.D.