Tag Archives: materialism

The Great Debate – What is Life?

[HT Uncommon Descent]

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The poverty of the 5 senses

Materialists are fond of claiming that all of our knowledge comes to us through our 5 senses.

Supernatural is above or beyond nature. Any belief in a realm that isn’t knowable though our 5 senses. Or al least able to use a provable method of advanced conceptualizing that ties back to our senses and is consistent with everything else that is known to exist in the natural universe. Mysticism is the opposite. It claims that our 5 senses are inadequate to no truth or reality. this effectively removes responsibility from the individuals and places it in the hands of the elite. Who have some secret magical method of understanding truth. It is a winning strategy for those who desire power, who feel small in stature and intentionally or not, foster the powerlessness of their flock.

Dan Barber

This position raises two questions in my mind:

  1. Through our 5 senses, how do we gain awareness of ourselves? Our own thoughts, feelings, desires, etc.? It seems that introspection is not something we engage in with our 5 senses.
  2. How can we be sure that there is nothing outside the realm of or epistemic faculties? It seems that microscopes of all kinds provide evidence that our epistemic faculties aren’t perfect, that there is more about our world that we wouldn’t know without external help.

Dan answers:

A microscope is an extension of sight. Not a replacement for it. We do imagine with our brain. That is what intospection is. And it is an evolved ability that probably came about as we learned to hurl an object for hunting. Or swing from vines. To predict an outcome in the future.

Microscopes and other instruments give us reason to believe that information exists outside the reach our natural epistemic resources. That’s not to say that this information is unknowable, just that we may need help knowing what a cell looks like.

Additionally, It seems that the introspection required to envision a tool like a microscope came not from the realm of 5 senses, but from somewhere else. Before it existed, where did the vision come from and where did it reside? Are we to suppose the physical brain randomly concocted it out of thin air?

I suppose the real question here is: Why should we think that physical matter is all that exists?

It is absolutely amazing how the human mind decides what it wants to see as real and then finds the evidence for such a conclusion. Deductive vs. Inductive reasoning. Inductive is the method i use to counter act my own irrationality in this realm.

So the final question for materialists is this. When you reason, be it inductively or deductively, which of the 5 senses are you using?

Sam Harris on the rape of religion

As a biological phenomenon, religion is the product of cognitive processes that have deep roots in our evolutionary past. Some researchers have speculated that religion itself may have played an important role in getting large groups of prehistoric humans to socially cohere. If this is true, we can say that religion has served an important purpose. This does not suggest, however, that it serves an important purpose  now. There is, after all, nothing more natural than rape. But no one would argue that rape is good, or compatible with a civil society, because it may have had evolutionary advantages for our ancestors. That religion may have served some necessary func­tion for us in the past does not preclude the possibility that it is now the greatest impedi­ment to our building a global civilization.

-Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation

If religion is an evolutionary byproduct which is no longer useful, why should we suppose that Sam’s atheism is any different? Indeed, it seems that if evolution can take us from rape being beneficial to socially condemned, doesn’t it stand to reason that the practice could make a comeback at a future date if evolution (whatever that is) leads us in that direction?

I would be the first to admit that the prospects for eradicating religion in our time do not
seem good. Still, the same could have been said about efforts to abolish slavery at the end of
the eighteenth century. Anyone who spoke with confidence about eradicating slavery in the
United States in the year 1775 surely appeared to be wasting his time, and wasting it
dangerously.

Indeed, it seems that we have little reason to think that rapists today aren’t merely misunderstood revolutionaries who want to drive us back to a more traditional time where men apparently clubbed women over the heads whenever they felt the urge to mate.

After all, if evolutionists are right with regard to our origins, rape is apparently the original “traditional marriage”.

Do Atheists ever become Christians based on logic and evidence?

Many times I hear otherwise committed Christians ask whether logic and reason have ever helped anyone come to faith or not. They largely view Paul’s speech in Acts 17 as a failure and claim he changed his tactics after the incident on Mars Hill.

The Sunday after EPS (which was awesome), I attended Dr Craig’s class with my wife and Wintry Knight. While there we were treated to a tag-team presentation by Holly Ordway and Stephen Notman.

Here is the audio. [HT Brian Auten]

While both presentations are excellent, what struck me the most was Holly’s story. Being a professor of literature, Dr. Ordway was drawn to Christ primarily through the literature produced by great Christian authors.

Before Holly spoke Dr Craig had her help distribute a few books as prizes. Holly provided quotes from great Christian authors and the books were given to the people who could correctly identify the author. From this simple exchange it was evident that Holly loved her craft and took great joy in it.

We (Christians) need to listen more carefully to people like Holly and Stephen. We need to understand how they were borne into the kingdom so we can work at creating more environments that are conducive to conversions that are not merely emotional highs in a concert setting.

Also, we need more people like the ones who were instrumental in Holly and Stephen’s lives. Christians who are equipped and willing to go where the lost are, invest our lives into them, and wait for them to raise the deep questions that no other world view has an adequate answer for outside of Christianity.

Alvin Plantinga: Science & Religion – Where the Conflict Really Lies

[HT Case for Christianity]

Debate: Does the Universe have a purpose?

Animal ethics

This is a long video but well worth it if you want to understand the secular left’s position on animals and their relationship with humans.

The key point, in my estimation, comes in during the Q&A at the end where one of the audience members makes the point that we have to come up with a way of determining the worth of an organism that is not based on that organism’s function or physical makeup because we want to also say that babies, mentally retarded, and physically deformed people posses value as well.

I heartily agree, but the problem on their part is that without an appeal to something metaphysical in our makeup, ie. the soul, there is no reason to think that a human (much less any other “animal”) is any more or less valuable or worthy of protection or consideration than any other physical object on this planet.