The Secularist Critique
a philosophy of religion blog from a catholic perspective

Friday, January 31, 2003  

Some clarification of what anti-secular means to me. There are two completely opposed modes of being in the world, we could call one the religious mode, and the other the secular mode. Each has its own philosophy and ideology that provide the most foundational contexts for behavior and outlook etc. In some societies today, and especially the one I live in (America), the secular mode is the dominant one. The fact that I oppose this secular mode of being in favor of the religious one, does not commit me in any way to the particular details of any specific religion or theology, though I do indeed practice a specific religion. I don't have to defend or agree with every detail of every theology and religion out there in order to be in favor of a religious mode of living in the world. What I am affirming is a world view that tends to have certain characteristics in common at a very general level. While I might think that one religion is superior to another, the very fact that person is religious in any way is a huge improvement to the secular outlook of life. In the same way a person can be for science in general, without having to adhere to any specific scientist's particular theories about something. I don't see anything incoherent about this.

| posted by theist | 5:48:00 PM

Raving Atheist has thankfully rooted the 'first cause' argument back in its historical setting from Aquinas and justifies the premise that 'everything has a cause' as being a fair reading of the statement that nothing is the efficient cause of itself. Not every philosopher accepts this interpretation, only the sloppy ones, because 'everything has a cause' is in no way the same as saying 'nothing is the efficient cause of itself'. For Aquinas, an efficient cause is something that bestows existence on something else. Aquinas takes it to be obvious that in the world, things come into existence that did not exist before and these new existences are caused by something other than themselves because self-caused existence is contradictory. So it is not literally everything that requires a cause, but the observed coming into being of things in the world, or in the case of the other arguments, motion that requires a mover, becoming requires an agent, etc. etc. So we have two principles. 1. Every beginning of existence requires a cause. 2. Nothing is self-caused. Aquinas then reasons that in order to account for actual existence, there must be a cause of existence which is not itself being caused to exist by something else. Where is the contradiction? If there is a being that is the uncaused cause of existence, it neither contradicts the first principle because it did not begin to exist, nor does it contradict the second principle because it's not caused at all, let alone self-caused.

You may seek to deny that such a being exists, but there is nothing contradictory about it or the argument.

| posted by theist | 5:32:00 PM

Thursday, January 30, 2003  

Diana Hsieh is another philosopher propogating the straw man premise 'everything must have a cause'. She says:

'The Cosmological Argument attempts to prove God's existence by arguing: "Everything has a cause. And so every cause must itself have a cause. Since we cannot have an infinite chain of causes, there must therefore be a First Cause, something that was not itself caused by anything else. God is that First Cause." The most obvious problem with this argument is that it is self-contradictory. First, it says that everything must have a cause. Everything. Then, it says that there must be something (God) that does not have cause. The premise contradicts the conclusion.'

Again, it would be good if atheists actually consulted the actual historical sources for these arguments instead of making them up so that they are conveniently contradictory. I'm starting to think though, that it's not really about truth, but creating a nice little self-affirming bubble to live in, one where they can go on believing that belief in God is analogous to santa clause blah blah blah.

| posted by theist | 2:10:00 PM

Wednesday, January 29, 2003  

The raving atheist, commenting on a traditional argument for God, says:

'The question "who made God?" is, in fact, part of the traditional atheistic refutation of the "first cause" proof of the almighty. That argument states that God must exist because everything, including the universe, must have a cause. The Squad's answer -- that "nobody" made God - simply contradicts the premise of the argument, i.e., that everything must have a cause. So asking "who made God?" points up this particular logical deficiency.'

Apparently, atheists don't actually read the arguments, they just make up fictitious premises that are easy for them to refute. The amazing thing is that ever since Bertrand Russel goofed up the argument, publishers like prometheus press have been continuing the error. Now that's professional competency! I challenge anyone to show any historical 'first cause' argument that contains the premise 'everything must have a cause'. Good luck.

| posted by theist | 7:00:00 PM