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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hellenist Handbasket

In Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe, Greg Epstein (2007) presented Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche and Freud as the "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" of their time. Massimo Pigliucci characterized the Pre-Socratics as a "intellectually wild" bunch in his (2010) book Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk. I now present the Hellenist Horsemen.

The argument from reasonable nonbelief- If the existence of gods were self-evident, everyone would believe. The burden of proof is on religion. Faith is not a virtue. Socrates' reasonable nonbelief earned him a death sentence for impiety and corrupting the youth.

Lack of empirical evidence- Discovery trumps revelation: the skeptical or naturalistic argument. Hippocrates understood that the God of the Gaps was an appeal to ignorance.

The argument from inconsistent revelations- Cosmopolitan doubt: all religions can't be right, so they are likely all wrong. Aristotle thought that religion was the personification of astronomical features and was used to promote social cohesion.

The argument from evil- If the gods are real, they have a lot of explaining to do. A fictitious god who doles out evil capriciously is no model for civil society.  The Epicurean trilemma is practically synonymous with the problem of evil.

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