Why Oliver Cromwell was right to beseech you to think it possible you may be mistaken
Fideism sounds like an interesting tradition to explore further. I appreciated reading that interview. As another former evangelical Christian searching for meaning, I feel very lost.
I’m not sure atheism is for me but because of questions like these I can no longer believe the same way I used to. The gaps cannot be painted over. Some days I miss being able to believe it though, honestly.
I am normally religious (Christian, protestant) and go to church regularly, and I dont really buy the Jesus miracle stuff, I do believe in God, I have just seen to many odd things in life, and the universe is so wild and weird, I just think there is something greater. I guess I would call that God, not really knowing what it is.
One can simplify to 1. There is a God. A big bang, a universe, time itself, had a beginning, and science projects that it will probably have an end, either in a big collapse or in dead stars. As everything has a cause, God is the cause. The universe follows rules. God made the rules. 2. God has benefitted me. Food, air, water, companions, laughter exist, and the universe following the rules has enabled all. I should be grateful. 3. I should express my gratitude in the way I live, treasuring what God has provided and trying to use creation with respect and attempting to make it more like what I think God intends. While there is a lot more that can be believed and people can argue over, certainty for all the rest is absent. These things I can be certain of.
How did "omnibenevolent" become an attribute of God? Omnioptent nd omnipressent can be objectively determined, but good and evil are in the eye of the beholder. Dung beetles and vultures love war; fundmentalists see death as the first step to eternal bliss(for them) and eternal pain for all others.
Many of those questions are fascinating and would be fun to explore. Can you really ever hear a satisfactory answer to a theological question (other than from a hypothetical perspective), if you don't believe in God's existence? Why would an atheist focus on the theological questions when the true source of disagreement is God's existence? For example, if two people disagree about whether abortion should be legal or not, both people can understand the other person's reasons for believing what they believe and still disagree, or more to the point, still be unsatisfied with any answer provided for their questions. If one person thinks abortion should be illegal because life starts at conception, the other person can understand and articulate the rationale behind that belief, and still disagree if the person does not believe life starts at conception. So, in this case, any fruitful discussion would need to begin with whether or not life begins at conception. It is desirable for people to respectfully disagree, and I think we can come to agree on even more if we focus on the critical areas of disagreement. The most enjoyable debate I have ever listened to is one from many years ago between you and philosopher of science Paul Nelson. The Q&A afterwards felt more like a conversation than a debate, a refreshing difference from most creationist/evolutionist debates. I have held an enormous amount of respect for you ever since. Paul Nelson is still around, and I would love to hear another conversation between the two of you. Thanks for all the questions to think about!
It would be instructive to direct these questions to an erudite religious scholar, such as Bishop Robert Barron.
"A book is a mirror, if an ape looks into it an apostle is hardly likely to look out."
Georg-Christoph Lichtenberg. 😴
age of reason and logic? isn't most research funded by corporate interests for profit motives... science to support marketing claims to increase sales, etc?
This is a really terrific discussion. As a non-theist and former Humanist, I have banged my head against many religious zealots who wear the impenetrable armor of belief that defects science, reason, logic and just plain common sense. It usually ends with them feeling more confident in their religious convictions because, of course, they are completely close-minded to any challenges. They reject the questions as beautifully laid out here and for the same reasons.
I like the idea of fideist. But, if I understand it correctly, it seems to be a different rationalization for belief that is otherwise indefensible. Like the other arguments in support of a particular faith, it is ultimately a case of circular logic - I believe in God because I believe in God.
In any case, the roads that lead to monotheism are paved with the anthropic principle that then leads to imaginary anthropocentric beings. Gods are a product of human culture. Other intelligent animals like whales and elephants and ravens and octopuses get along just fine without them. But for humans, gods became necessary to provide explanations for natural phenomena. Then science came along and marginalized them.
Our understanding has reached the point, even though incomplete, where we can say with some confidence that the universe would be the way it is without the need for a deity. And then there is Quantum Physics . . .
If these are even close to being the list of your most important questions, I have some good news for you! These are not new questions and they have intellectually satisfying answers.
I suggest you should just have a real in-depth open discussion about these with a competent Christian (or other religious) philosopher. You have some great candidates even in the pictures of this post (e.g. Steve Meyer, John Lennox and Alister McGrath), but you might also consider others, such as Edward Feser or William Lane Craig.
A live discussion gives you the opportunity to quickly interact with the answers and to narrow down the discussion to the objections and lines of counter arguments that you are most interested in way better than if I start writing responses to all 18 questions, which will at best be brief summaries and would obviously require further responses to counter arguments.
Many of the questions you mention were discussed in a recent Youtube discussion between bishop Robert Barron and atheist philosophy student Alex O'Connor (CosmicSkeptic): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5uzJT7EdD4
When I was a kid I really loved mythology, especially Greek and Roman, and read Bullfinch's from cover to cover. Even though I was a devout Presbyterian, at one point headed for the ministry, it bothered me as to where all those gods, goddesses, wood nymphs, Muses, etc. went off to. Why was that religion pagan, but Christianity (and Judaism and Islam...etc.) were OK. In college I became not only educated, but an atheist. Later, I discovered what happened to the ancient religions and how they morphed into 'respectability'. This was explained by Julian Jaynes in his book "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind." His theories are well-supported by Wittgenstein who destroyed philosophy with a single work "Philosophical Investigations."
It is all in our heads folks and it is mediated by language.