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The Greeks Showed that Objective Morality Is Possible

This quotation below, demonstrating the ancient Greek philosophers' proof of an objective foundation for ethics, is dedicated to atheists who think that since in a godless world values must be subjective, we can establish morality with only an arbitrary starting point, say, the maximization of well-being or minimization of suffering. (See my "Should Humanists Be Utilitarians?") Because this is an admittedly arbitrary starting point, it surely cannot serve as a launch pad for a rational morality, for as Hume would say (erroneously), although reason can tell us if our means will get us to our ends, it can be no help in saying if our ends are worthwhile. Or: reason is merely a "slave to the passions" and ought to aspire to be nothing more.)Fortunately, an alternative is available to us, which is rooted in the philosophies of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics. The quote is from Roderick T. Long's Wittgenstein, Austrian Economics, and the Logic of Actio…

Palpably Absurd

Never yet has a God been defined in terms which were not palpably self-contradictory and absurd; never yet has a God been described so that a concept of him was made possible to human thought.
--Annie Besant, "Why I Do Not Believe in God" (1887)

Responses Right and Wrong

Theist: I believe God exists.Wrong atheist response: What's your evidence?Right atheist response: What are you talking about?

A Feature Not a Bug

Atheists undermine their strongest case when they restrain their confidence in logic because it is self-evident. That you must use the law of identity even in attempting to refute it is a feature not a bug.

Any Schmuck Can Be an Atheist

The virtue of reasonableness is the most potent weapon in the atheist's moral arsenal. Atheism has value only when it flows from reasonableness. There are irrational forms of atheism, and these are usually worthless. Suppose, to take an extreme case, that you deny the existence of everything. Nothing, you argue, can be known to exist. Naturally this position will lead you to deny the existence of a god along with everything else. You are an atheist, but so what? The irrational and self-contradictory nature of the premise from which your atheism proceeds negates the value that your atheism might other have.Atheism is a consequence, not a cause, of reasonableness. There is nothing praiseworthy in atheism as such. Any fool can disbelieve; any idiot can proclaim to the world that God is an illusion. There is nothing inspiring in this, nothing to command respect. That one disbelieves in a god is unimportant, but why one disbelieves is supremely important.--George H. Smith, Atheism, Ayn…

What about Religious Experience?

Callers to online atheist talk shows frequently cite their personal experiences as evidence for the existence of God or a god. That is, they directly perceive God through their sensations. This will not do. What's open to challenge is not the experience itself--we may take the callers at their word--but their interpretation of what they feel. They can be absolutely certain they felt something, but what they may not be regarded as infallible about is their explanation of their experiences. To be taken seriously, their explanations must be open to examination and criticism.I can witness a breathtaking sunset at the beach and be overcome by a good feeling I never experienced before. But how I interpret that feeling is another matter entirely. If I explain it by the sheer splendor of the sight, that is entirely plausible and worthy of acceptance by others. Not so my claim that I experienced God's presence or something extranatural. If I submit that as evidence for the existence of…

Life Is Fine-tuned to the Universe

While slight changes in the constants of physics could make life as we know it impossible, what about life as we do not know it? We have no reason to believe that our kind of carbon-based life is the only form that is possible under every possible variation in constants and the laws of physics. I have shown that long-lived stars, which are regarded as necessary for the building of the chemical elements that constitute living structures, can be expected for a huge range of physical constants. Similarly, [physicist] Anthony Aguire examined the universes that result when six cosmological parameters are varied by orders of magnitude and found that they do not preclude the existence of intelligent life.Furthermore, modern cosmology indicates that multiple universes may exist with different constants and laws of physics. In that case, it is no more surprising that we live in a universe suited for us than it is that we live on the planet suited for us—Earth rather than Mars or Venus. The uni…