Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Law’

Video of William Lane Craig’s misrepresentation of Sam Harris during and after their debate on morality

03/02/2014

Further to my posts reviewing the debate on morality between atheist Sam Harris and Christian apologist William Lane Craig, together with Craig’s distortions of Harris’ written work, nooneleftalivekibo has cited my first post in the above video, for which I am grateful and flattered.

Having watched a few nooneleftalivekibo’s other videos, I recommend those that expose Craig’s misrepresentation and quote-mining of Stephen Law, Michael Ruse and Stephen Hawking.

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Stephen Law’s ‘Evil God’ Challenge

03/05/2010

The Saturday, 1 May 2010 edition of Premier Christian Radio’s Unbelievable? is well worth a listen for philosopher Stephen Law’s ‘Evil God’ Challenge: Why is it more reasonable to believe in an all-good god than to believe in an all-evil god?

Law’s opponent on Unbelievable? was Denis Alexander of The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion.  You can download the PDF of Law’s paper.  Scanning the blogosphere, Luke over at Common Sense Atheism has published two discussions of Law’s challenge:  Part 1 discusses the ‘Evil God’ Challenge itself, while Part 2 gives some Christian responses.

It is hard to see why an all-powerful, all-good God would unleash so much suffering upon the sentient creatures of Earth over hundreds of millions of years.  Why not posit an all-powerful, all-evil God to explain all this suffering, as many religions have done?

In defence of the Evil God hypothesis, we can use reverse versions of the theodicies that Christians use to defend the Good God hypothesis:

  1. Free will. Evil God gave us free will, so we sometimes choose to do good, even though Evil God hates it.  And free will also allows us to be morally responsible for evil acts, which Evil God loves.  He could have made us into puppets that only do evil, but then he would not have the pleasure of seeing us choose evil.  To maximise evil, Evil God designed us so that we can perform evil acts from our own will.
  2. Character-destroying. Why does Evil God create some beautiful things?  For contrast.  To make the ugly things look uglier.  Why does Evil God make some of us unusually healthy and wealthy?  To make the suffering of the sick and poor even greater.  Why does Evil God let us have children that love us unconditionally?  So that we will worry endlessly about them.
  3. First order goods allow second order evils.  Some evils require certain goods to exist.  For example, jealousy could not exist without there being someone who has something good for you to be jealous about.  Evil God had to give some of us good things so that the rest of us could feel jealousy.
  4. Mystery.  Evil God has a plan for how all the apparent goods in the world will ultimately lead to maximal evil, but Evil God is so far beyond our reasoning ability that we cannot understand his plan.

The ‘Evil God’ Challenge is an ingenious exposition of how utterly vacuous theology is as an academic subject.  The theologians’ conclusions have been arrived at before they have conducted any research or put pen to paper.  They invent various models of gods out of something that does not even qualify as thin air and move the essential characteristics of that god around like the rows on a Rubik’s Cube so that their god is logically consistent and broadly conforms to the empirical facts of the universe.

However, like characters in a computer game with superhuman powers, the models of these gods have little application to the real world.  They exist very much in a world called “virtual reality”.

Chris French on Radio 4’s Beyond Belief discussing guardian angels

31/12/2009

manicstreetpreacher hits 60 posts for 2009!

Paul S Jenkins over at Notes from an Evil Burnee has posted the podcast links to an appearance by Professor Chris French, whose superb lecture on paranormal experiences for Merseyside Skeptics’ Society I reported earlier this year, discussing whether angels exist on Radio 4’s Beyond Belief.  The presenter, Ernie Rea, is joined by French, Emma Heathcote-James spiritualist author of Seeing Angels and Greek Orthodox priest, Father Gregory Hallam.

The show’s title is all too apt: it really does defy belief!  I can barely accept what my own ears tell me; that Auntie is giving airtime to such spurious nonsense.  If I’d have been there I would have been tempted to swing a punch at Emma Heathcote-James just to see whether her guardian angel would do anything to protect her!  She clearly accepts that visions of guardian angels are the paranormal experiences flavour of the month following on from previous crazes such as ghosts and alien abductions, but like Fox Mulder from the X-Files, the woman just wants to believe…

Heathcote-James is so wrapped up in it that she has either deluded herself into believing anything she hears about angels or is preying on basket cases (like the woman they interviewed partway through) in order to sell books.

UPDATE 01/01/2010

Philosopher Stephen Law has blogged on this show as well and describes Heathcote-James as “very irritating” and has reproduced a typical piece of theological obscurantism from Father Gregory Hallam.  Hallam’s retort is in response to Chris French’s suggestion of objective evidence of angels if e.g. under controlled conditions they provided information to those who claim to communicate with them that could be checked and which could not have been acquired in any other way:

My problem with your answer Chris is you are subjecting these phenomenon to certain criteria and tests in relation to scientific evidence and you’re actually talking about a confusion of categories of truth here.  I understand that you operate in the realm of anomolistic psychology and that this is a kind of a difficult interface between science and human experience but I think that unless we are actually clear how to assess each piece of evidence according to appropriate criteria we risk just making no sense at all.

Thanks for clearing that one up for us, Greg…