Tom Gilson writes about how an atheist professor committed the straw man fallacy, and what it means.
We need to turn to his PSU talk, wherein he speaks (after about 29:00) of “three core reasons for why one believes one’s faith tradition is true…. Reason number one: Miracles. We’re going to examine a few miracles.”
Let me pause and ask you to consider which faith-truth-convincing miracles he might want to examine and debunk. The resurrection? Healings? Visions? No, none of these. Ladies and gentlemen, for the safety of your clothing, lower your drinks. The miracles he chooses to debunk, and thereby to destroy the faith-enhancing credibility of miracles, are:
- Transubstantiation: the substantial change of the Eucharist elements into the body and blood of Jesus, according to Catholic doctrine…. and
- Tongues, or glossolalia.
So this atheist philosophy professor thinks that Christians argue for God’s existence using transubstantiation and tongues.
Have you ever seen any Christian scholar talk about that in a debate? I haven’t even seen it in blog posts, much less books or papers.
Now if I were going to give arguments for God’s existence, I would offer arguments like these:
- origin of the universe
- cosmic fine-tuning
- origin of life’s building blocks
- origin of biological information
- molecular machines, like the ribosome
- limits on mutation-driven change
- Cambrian explosion
- galactic habitability
- stellar habitability
- the effectiveness/applicability of mathematics to nature
- free will
- objective moral values and duties
- the minimal facts case for the resurrection
Dear atheists: those are the kinds of arguments that you see in actual debates and read in actual apologetics books. And those are the arguments that need a response. But before responding to those arguments, they have to be understood properly by reading the primary sources where those arguments are laid out in a rigorous way, e.g. – The Design Inference. And when you respond to them, you should cite the original texts, with page numbers, to show that you understand them.
What I really find disturbing about this Boghossian fellow is how the audience reacts:
His performance in both these lectures amounts to a parade of fallacies.
Yet if you watch these two lectures through to the end, you’ll find that the audiences eat it up; or many of the people do, at any rate. They’re being taught by a distinguished looking university professor. They like what they’re hearing. It agrees with their prejudices. And — in the role of an educator, mind you — he’s leading them on with obviously fallacious thinking. There’s something seriously wrong about that tactic.
I’m really not sure why anyone would applaud someone like Boghossian who is clearly more interested in ridicule than debate. What does this say about atheism? I mean – these people are applauding something that could be corrected by reading a short, introductory book like Lee Strobel’s “Case for a Creator”. Yet they don’t appear to be educated enough to even do that. Worse, the atheist professor is actually encouraging them to persist in their ignorance. Either the professor hasn’t read introductory books on apologetics or he just finds pleasure in hearing the sneers and jeers of the mob, as he feeds them lies and propaganda.
Here’s my suspicion about atheism. I don’t think that most rank and file atheists really are interested in truth at all. They are more interested puffing themselves up and in putting other people down. This Boghossian episode is not an isolated case. You can see this in action with the 1-star reviews of books like Darwin’s Doubt. The negative reviewers don’t reference page numbers or cite passages, because the reviewers haven’t actually read the book. And they don’t feel that they need to read it in order to insult it. In their view, proper atheism is about mocking – not about informed reasoning. For them, the less that is known about what the opposition really believes, the better. Should we take this forced ignorance to be a central tenet of the atheist worldview, then? What is a good name for this predilection they have for preferring stand-up comedy to rational thought?