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Name: Roger Overton
Nickname: Roger Overton
Member since: 2009-05-01 05:49:48
Website URL: http://ateamblog.com
About me: Roger Overton is currently pursuing a Masters degree at Talbot School of Theology. He has addressed various churches, schools and youth camps throughout the United States. Roger was co-editor of The New Media Frontier (Crossway, 2008) and God and Governing (Wipf & Stock, 2009). Roger can be emailed at rogeroverton@hotmail.com.

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Happy 11:11 11/11/11!

So this is what the A-Team blog has come to? ;)

Book Review: The Making of an Atheist by James Spiegel

“If methodological naturalism could account for the existence of everything, it would not be methodological naturalism.”

Naturalism attempts to account for all of reality by strictly natural means. By definition, it rules out the existence of anything supernatural. That is a belief and a claim to knowledge. The case that has been made is that such naturalism can’t account for all of reality and is self-refuting. Spiegel cites a few atheists who clearly advocate this belief, and I’m not sure there’s an atheist around who doesn’t believe this. If an atheist were to allow for any sort of supernatural entities, the allowance would likely bring into question their atheism.

Speigel very accurately and fairly portrays the typical arguments put forward by leading atheists today. The burden is on you, if you want to claim he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, to show exactly where he has misrepresented a particular atheist or what is common to atheism these days. Otherwise, you’re guilty of your own accusations.

Book Review: The Making of an Atheist by James Spiegel

americanatheist,
The book only deals very briefly with atheists’ arguments; less than 10 pages. As I noted, Spiegel sees the primary arguments as the problem of evil and the notion that science can account for all of reality.

In regard to the problem of evil, the response is rather simple. “Even if successful, it only undermines certain beliefs about the nature of God… At most, evil should prompt us to reconsider what kind of God exists, not whether God exists. To give up belief in a world creator because of the existence of evil is a blatant non sequitur.” (p26-27)

Spiegel responds to the second argument in a few ways:
1) Naturalism cannot account for the existence of the cosmos or values of any kind.
2) Naturalism’s methodology, positivism, is self-refuting. “The notion that all beliefs must be scientifically verifiable is, well, not scientifically verifiable.” (p29)
3) Naturalism cannot confirm or dispute the vast majority of non-scientific beliefs that are commonly held- such as differences between good and evil and the meaning of life.

I don’t expect Spiegel’s brief responses to atheist arguments will satisfy anyone who is already an ardent atheist, but it’s important to keep in mind that that’s not the purpose of the book. As Spiegel states in his introduction, his purpose is to provide a Christian account of atheism. And since it is Christian in nature, it is primarily based on biblical doctrine. I understand his assessment of atheist arguments as being a point of support of his biblical diagnosis.

Book Review: The Making of an Atheist by James Spiegel

Benjamin,
You said, “Yes, I suppose it IS easier to simply dismiss somebody’s entire system of arguments as simply Bad so you don’t have to actually think about them.” If you actually read the book, you’ll see that nothing like that is going on here. As I note in the review, Spiegel examines the arguments put forward by atheism and finds them woefully inadequate. Ultimately there’s no good reason to believe in atheism; the cause for atheism lies elsewhere.

Coming Soon To Theaters!

You beat me to it! You know, though, that I’m Murdock. I don’t think I could get used to smoking cigars ;)

Plantinga's "Warranted Christian Belief" Free at CCEL

Great deal for the penniless student, but this is a book every intellectual should really own. This is the only philosophy book I’ve had to put down and worship because of some of the content. It’s that good.

We're live at The Christian Web Conference

Hey Bruce,
It’s been a great conference- perhaps the best one yet. I think my favorite so far was John Acuff from http://www.stuffchristianslike.net. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it turns out he’s an excellent speaker with very thoughtful insights. His talk was on using satire to convey truth. They should have videos of all the sessions up at http://www.christianwebconference.com some time.

Is Christianity Anti-Romance?

Thanks Gabriel,
I agree that the “fire is gone” is a poor reason for divorce, as it’s certainly not a biblical one. It does point to a foundational problem in the marriage- that it was based on fleeting emotions rather than grounded in a deep companionship and external community.

As a young single man I can’t speak from experience on just how a long marriage deepens romance, but I’ve certainly seen that it happens. My understanding is that a good romance is rooted in true companionship, and the true companionship in marriage will inflame romantic love (I would suggest there may be something wrong if it doesn’t). As couples get to know each other even better through the joys and trials of all the years, it seems that greater romance and companionship should naturally follow. One of those things that is always a joy in life to witness is the enduring romance of older couples. :)

A Case for Beauty

Hi Doctorlogic,

I understand that people are praising this post because they believe the arguments are sound. I don’t think it’s fair to accuse them of being motivated purely by ideology simply because you disagree with their conclusions.

Since you’re an empiricist, we’ll probably be arguing past each other here, but I’ll give it a shot.

I should clarify that my case is not that everything we call beautiful is objectively beautiful. There is a subjective beauty that we often confuse with the objective sense. The subjective beauty is much like my love for mint chocolate chip ice cream. There’s nothing universally desirable about the flavor because not everyone has the same tastes. I am arguing, however, that there are some things that are beautiful regardless of taste. If someone fails to recognize beauty in such a case, it is not because beauty is entirely subjective, but because their perception of beauty is skewed. Likewise, not everyone understands the truthfulness of complex mathematical solutions, but their failure to understand does not make the solutions any less true.

First, we’re not all from the same culture. Part of the argument is the regardless of culture, the majority of people agree about what is beautiful and what is ugly. Many Westerners find Eastern art beautiful. You attribute this to us all being human, but that doesn’t strike me a sufficient explanation. We all have different tastes on subjective matters, but beauty seems to be rather universal.

I’m not sure that predictability is a sufficient or necessary condition for objective truth, but beauty is predictive when certain standards are followed. Beauty tends to strike a balance between complexity and simplicity, unity and distinction, originality and resourcefulness, etc. Much like a mathematician must follow certain rules to arrive at the appropriate solution, so an artist must follow certain standards to create something that is objectively beautiful. Simply because we cannot accurately describe every aspect of what those standards are (though we have some understandings), does not mean the standards or objective beauty do not exist.

In regards to the second argument, you’re confusing the objective and subjective qualities. Whether one likes a movie is different from whether a movie is good or bad. I like the movie Constantine, but I do not consider it to be a very good movie. How you might feel about a pedophile in a movie has no bearing on whether it is aesthetically good or not. What most people argue about after a movie is whether the effects, plot or acting was good. There are standards for what make these things good or bad independent of our perception of them.

For the third argument, you’re assuming that the effect defines beauty. Beauty does effect pleasure in us, but something is not beautiful because is effects pleasure. This again is similar to mathematics. We know that 2 + 2 = 4 because we can see that the law of addition was successfully applied to the problem. But 2 + 2 does not equal 4 because we perceive that it does, it equals 4 regardless of our perception.

I do want to thank you for pointing out some things I should have clarified in the original post. I’m glad we can at least agree that a lot of postmodernism is rubbish, even if it’s for different reasons.

The A-Team Blog: Part 2

Good idea Scott- I think I’d prefer to have the categories showing, but archives could definitely be a drop down… Thanks!