A lot of people are saying ‘atheism’ is what we call it when people don’t believe in gods.1 The more traditional meaning of ‘atheism’ is the belief that no gods (or certain types of gods) exist. This newer (nontraditional) type of atheism is sometimes called ‘soft atheism’ as opposed to ‘hard atheism.’ I will describe atheism, consider reasons that the newer definition of ‘atheism’ can lead to confusion, and I will consider reasons why people might prefer this newer definition. (more…)
The problem of evil refers to the fact that certain traditional views of theism involve contradictory beliefs. The problem is that God should be willing and able to make sure evil doesn’t exist, but evil exists. Some theists argue that atheists can’t reject the existence of God based on the problem of evil because atheists would then have to assume objective morality exists, but objective morality requires God. I will argue that the theist’s argument is irrelevant in consideration of one argument against one type of traditional theism, but it is somewhat relevant against another. Even so, both arguments are unsound. (more…)
The term “default position” refers to a belief (or lack of belief) that is preferable prior to debate or before any evidence is considered. Many people claim that some belief (or lack thereof) are default positions, so everyone who disagrees with those positions has the burden of proof. What exactly is a default position, and do default positions exist? (more…)
This is part 2. Go here to see part 1.
I have created a new form of Stoicism that doesn’t require a god that I call “Neo-Aristonianism.” I will now present a second new form of Stoicism (that doesn’t require a god) that I call “Common Sense Stoicism.” Neo-Aristonianism is a skeptical form of Stoicism that requires as few assumptions as seem necessary for a potentially comprehensive virtue ethics. Nonetheless, many assumptions are very plausible and many of us will prefer a more ambitious virtue ethics that involves some of these assumptions. (In particular, the existence of certain intrinsic values.) That’s where Common Sense Stoicism comes in. (more…)
Stoicism is one of the most neglected philosophical traditions, but I think it’s informative and helpful. I also think it’s likely that Stoicism’s been neglected in recent times because the Stoics believed in a deity, and now philosophers shy away from any philosophy involving God. For these reasons I will present a new form of Stoic ethics I call “Neo-Aristonianism” that doesn’t require us to believe in a deity. (more…)
We should generally prefer beliefs and theories that are well justified and don’t require ambitious metaphysical or religious assumptions. “Metaphysical” beliefs are beliefs about reality, and “ambitious” beliefs are difficult to justify in a satisfying way that would lead to anything resembling certainty. We attain absolute certainty when we have a belief that couldn’t possibly be wrong. (more…)
We can learn how to think more like a philosopher by engaging in philosophical debate, reading philosophy, thinking about the nature of philosophical argumentation, and examining the thought process of philosophers. A philosophy professor can be very helpful as a guide to help people engage in philosophical argumentation by helping them verbalize their arguments and avoid fallacious reasoning. Since I am writing about philosophical argumentation, I am not able to help guide your philosophical thoughts as you engage in philosophical debate. However, I can help you peer into the thoughts of someone who engages in philosophical thought. In particular, I will discuss the thinking involved with constructing a philosophical objection. (more…)
Successful religions have historically been appealing to both the educated and the uneducated. They have appealed to the greatest minds and “experts” (the most distinguished philosophers and scientists) and people who aren’t especially interested in fully understanding life’s greatest mysteries. First, I will argue that the success of religions partially depends on appealing to both of these groups because (a) the religion needs educated people to join and persuade others that the religion is probably true (b) sometimes only the greatest minds can convince educated people that the religion is probably true. Second, I will argue that religions have lost the support from the experts that they need. This doesn’t mean that all religion will die off forever, but it does mean that truly successful religions of the future will probably have to regain support from the experts. These will probably be either revised versions of current religions or entirely new religions. (more…)
I was a guest contributor at Camels With Hammers by posting “Philosophy can Debunk Myths about Atheism.” In particular, many theists argue that atheists must reject morality, meaning, and knowledge because these things can only exist if God exists. Or of course, the atheist must convert to theism precisely because we know morality, meaning, and knowledge exist–and God is required for these things to exist.
Rather than prove that atheism is compatible with morality, meaning, and knowledge I merely discuss my personal understanding about why the natural world seems sufficient to explain the existence of these things. The theist will have to prove my personal understanding to be false or we have no reason to think God is required for such “facts” after all.
Go here to find out what I have to say on these issues.
The Thinking Christian, Tom Gilson, thinks moral realism requires God, and says that the following questions are somehow a problem for atheistic moral realists (mainly concerning a potential eternal moral reality.) I will respond to the questions using my own perspective, but atheists and theists alike will disagree about how to best answer them: (more…)
Is atheism immoral, evil, sinful, satanic, or unholy? Atheists are one of the most hated groups in the United States. Many religious people openly admit they think that atheism is immoral. I will argue that atheism is not immoral. First, I will give some evidence that atheists are despised. Second, I will describe two ways people think atheism is immoral. Third, I will provide arguments that atheism is not immoral. Fourth, I will take a look at arguments people use to conclude that atheism is immoral. If we have good reason to believe that atheism can be morally permissible (rational from an individual’s standpoint) and we have no reason to think atheism is immoral, then we should agree that atheism is not immoral. (more…)
One common objection against just about any philosophical argument is considered by philosophers to be amateurish – Philosophy can’t give us the truth. The implication is supposed to be, “Philosophy can’t give us the truth, so we might as well give up on arguing about such things.” This is especially a popular objection to moral philosophy in general, but it is little more than a declaration of one’s ignorance and distrust towards philosophy. The main problem with this argument is merely that philosophical arguments are usually not intended to actually give us the truth once and for all, and even natural science fails to do so. The point of philosophy tends to be to tell us what it is most rational to believe, or what is probably true given our current information. (more…)