Friday, January 30, 2015

Humanist Philosophy Podcast

This is an introduction to the Institute for Humanist Philosophy Podcast. In this episode Dr. Jay N. Forrest will introduce you to the podcast, give you its objectives, and explain the general plan. The Institute for Humanist Philosophy is an educational initiative for the research and promotion of a human-centered worldview fostering human well-being.

For More Information
Institute for Humanist Philosophy

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Most Atheists are Agnostic

An Atheist is one "who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings." An Agnostic is one "who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience."

Very few Atheists believe with absolute certainty that there is no God of any kind. This is not a weakness, but a strength. Unlike believers, Atheists are humble and realistic about their knowledge of reality. We don't know everything, therefore what we don't know might be God. But Atheists are also committed to following the evidence. And there is simply no conclusive evidence for "the existence of a supreme being or beings."

Now just because you can't disprove with certainty "the existence of a supreme being or beings," doesn't mean they exist. I can't disprove the existence of Mermaids, Elves, Gnomes, Fairies, and Unicorns either. Does that mean that they exist? Of course not. Science operates on induction, and all inductive knowledge is contingent. Therefore science, by its very nature, cannot prove the non-existence of anything.

In logical there is a thing called the burden of proof. When making a claim, such as God exists, the burden of proof is on the person asserting the claim. This is a logical fallacy called argument from ignorance, or the appeal to ignorance. It is saying that a claim is true because it has not yet been proven false. Using a logical fallacy means you are not thinking straight. You're being irrational.

Atheists are the one's who are truly humble, for they acknowledge their limitations. They don't claim to be all-knowing. Believers, on the other hand, claim absolute certainty that God exists. They claim to know all of reality, with such complete clarity, that there is no possibility that they could be wrong. They mistake the feeling of certainty with an accurate assessment of the facts. They simply don't know how to properly weigh the evidence in an objective and unbiased way.

Atheist - Unabridged
Agnostic - Unabridged
Philosophic burden of proof

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Atheism and the God Probability

Well known Atheist, Richard Dawkins, is the one who popularized the spectrum of theistic probability. Theism is the belief that there is a supreme being who is above and beyound the universe (transcendent), and yet is present and active in it (immanence). The major religions that hold this view are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The spectrum of theistic probability is a way of categorizing one's belief regarding the probability of the existence of a deity.

First there is the strong Theists. They believe 100 per cent in the probability of God. Next is the De facto Theist. They believe there is a very high probability that God exists, but short of 100 per cent. Towards the middle are those leaning towards theism. They believe the probablity that God exists is higher than 50 per cent, but not very high. Right in the center are those who are completely impartial. There is a 50/50 probablity that God exists. Then we have those leaning towards atheism. They hold that the possibility that God exist is lower than 50 per cent, but not very low. Then there are the De facto Atheists. They hold that there is a very low probability that the God exists, but still short of zero. And at the very opposite extreme of the strong Theists, are the strong Atheists. They know there is no God.

The problem with this spectrum of theistic probability is the word theistic. It can be used both for Theism or for the believe in any kind of deity whatsoever. For example, when it comes to the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, I am a strong Atheist. I know there is no such God. But when it comes to other views of God, I am not as certain. Albert Einstein said he believed in the "pantheistic" God of Baruch Spinoza, but not in a personal god. He also called himself an agnostic, while disassociating himself from the label atheist, preferring, he said, "an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being." Now I don't believe in the "pantheistic" God of Baruch Spinoza. But I am not certain that one does not exist. In this case I would be a De facto atheist.

I actually went from being a strong Theist to being a strong Atheist in regard to the existence of the God of the Bible. In my journey I actually moved down the spectrum as I learned more about the Bible, science, and religion. In April 2011 I was near the middle. By December 2014, I was a strong Atheist, or more actually, a strong non-Theist.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Church's History of Torture

The Roman Catholic Church has been, as history clearly demonstrates, the persecutor of those who don't believe. It has been the enemy of reason and knowledge. Medieval history records how the Church stifled learning and knowledge. History demonstrates how notoriously immoral the lives of various popes and hierarchy really were. This period is called the dark ages. It was the midnight of the world's moral and intellectual life.

By some estimates, there were over a million Protestants murdered and cruelly tortured by the Roman Catholic Church during this period. Joseph McCabe, a former Franciscan Monk did the reasearch and said, "The total number of Manichaeans, Arians, Priscillianists, Paulicians, Bogomiles, Cathari, Waldensians, Albigensians, witches, Lollards, Hussites, Jews and Protestants killed because of their rebellion against Rome clearly runs to many millions."

How they were tortured is also a fact of history. Men and women were led into torture chambers or left to rot in dark dungeons. Some were stretched on the rack until their limbs snapped. Others were flayed alive, burned at the stake, or had their feet placed in iron boots filled with molten lead. Heavy pincers were used to tear out fingernails or heated till they were red-hot, and then they were applied to sensitive parts of the body.

Other heretics were rolled back and forth on rollers which had sharp knife blades and spikes sticking out of them. Another instrument of the Catholics was the thumbscrew. This instrument was used for disarticulating fingers. And lets not forget their "Spanish boots," which were used to crush a persons legs and feet.

The Iron Maiden was a hollow instrument the sized and figure of a woman. Knives were arranged in such a way and under such pressure that the accused were lacerated in its deadly embrace. This torture device was sprayed with "holy water" and inscribed with the Latin words meaning, "Glory be only to God."

Victims, after being stripped naked, had their arms tied behind their backs with a hard cord. Weights were attached to their feet. The action of a pulley suspended them in mid-air, and could be dropped or raised with a Jerk, thus dislocating joints of the body. While such torture was being employed, priests holding up crosses would attempt to get the heretics to recant.

Some who rejected the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church had molten lead poured into their ears and mouth, eyes were gouged out. Others were cruelly beaten with whips. Some were forced to jump from cliffs on to long spikes fixed below, where, quivering from pain, they slowly died. Others were choked to death with mangled pieces of their own bodies, with urine, or excrement. All of this was done by the express command of the Roman Catholic Church.

H. H. Halley, Halley's Bible Handbook (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1965) p. 793.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Postmodern Atheism

Traditional Atheism says that, "there is no God or gods." It is a dogmatic statement. This is easily disproved by simple logic. Do you know everything? No. So what you don't know might be God. The only way that you can categorically deny the existence of God is to literally be an all-knowing being.

Postmodern Atheists are a wiser. They say, "I have no belief in God or gods." It is not a dogmatic statement, it is simply a statement of belief. A belief that then leads to a natural question, "Why don't you believe in God or gods?" Which can be answered simply, "Because there is no credible evidence for the existence of God or gods." Then the debate leads to the examination of the evidence.

The simple fact is that Christianity has been wrong on almost every scientific fact. For example, the Earth was created some 6,000 years ago. False, the Earth is about 4.54 billion years old. Man was created directly by God. Wrong, man evolved from the apes. The Sun revolves around the Earth. False, the Earth revolves around the Sun. And the list goes on.

Even on the topic of ethics, Humanist surpass the ethics of the Old Testament. The God of the Old Testament commands Israel to commit genocide. God commands the annihilation of seven nations in Deuteronomy 7:1-5. Here God tells them to "utterly destroy them" and to "show them no mercy." Doesn't wholesale slaughter of nations seem a little incompatible with love and mercy? Humanists would rightly condemn such criminal acts, but the Bible sanctions it.

God even commands them to kill men, woman, children and infants in Numbers 31:16-18 and 1 Samuel 15:2-3. Now notice, God says to "kill both man and woman, child and infant." Can you imagine taking a sword and stabbing a little helpless infant in the womb? Any Humanist would condemn such actions, because our ethical standards are higher than that. Clearly we can be good without God. In fact, we are better without this kind of God. It is sad to see pastors and theologians try to justify such cruelty.

Now think of the worst tortures in all of human history. Now name one torturer that you admire and respect. Dare I state the obvious fact, torture is wrong. It is evil. Even the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church states, "Torture, which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity."

Please notice that "torture... is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity." That is, unless God does it. right? Again the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, 'eternal fire.'" Since when is it wrong for humans to torture, but OK for God to? And since when it is loving to torture anyone? A God that tortures people is not to be worship, but rejected and abhorred.