Sunday, December 29, 2013

Fragments without Philosophy or Substance

"Philosophical Fragments" is one of handful of blogs on Patheos that I read on a fairly regular basis and have always found the title a bit misleading. Very few of the pieces I have come across involve any deep thinking.
A recent piece, "The Good of Believing In God", provides an excellent example of what a misnomer the blog is. Johnny Moore's December 15th piece starts with this little gem, "Atheism might be in vogue, but it — for sure — hasn’t helped history as much as Christianity.  Believing in God is not only among the most reasonable ideas in history; it is among its most helpful."

Only two sentences in and the piece is already off to rather pathetic start. Even if atheism could be said to be "in vogue" why would it matter? The idea is pretty absurd given that atheists are still considered the most disliked and distrusted minority in the US and the media never fails to promote any number of myths and stereotypes about atheists. It is also rather ridiculous to insist how history might have played out. There is no way to know such a thing. As a thought experiment such speculations can prove valuable but the rest of the piece makes it clear that is not what Moore is doing. He also never backs up his rather definitive statement about the God concept being reasonable or helpful. It is a highly debatable supposition with evidence being available on both sides.

So what is his point? I have no idea why he bothered with this beyond taking an opportunity to attack atheists. Another revealing sentence comes at the start of his third paragraph. "Although atheists might concede that there is no transcendent meaning to life, they are more than willing to take advantage of modern medical know-how to maintain their meaningless existence for as long as possible." Did you catch his rather disingenuous slight-of-hand? If an atheist doesn't agree that there is a one-size-fits-all universal meaning of life (i.e. God) then such an atheist can't possible find any meaning in life at all. The implication is, of course, that we are hypocrits simply because we don't fall for his childish conflation. His reasoning never gets any better.

There are plenty of fragments provided. Nearly all are in essence logical fallacies. In a rather short space Moore relies on, among others, double-standards, misrepresentations, and special pleadings.

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