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Sunday, February 10, 2013

19th Century Horsemen

Inspired by Four Horsemen identified by Greg Epstein (2007), Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche and Freud, in Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe and Massimo Pigliucci's (2010) exposition of the Pre-Socratic philosophers in Nonsense on Stilts How to Tell Science from Bunk, I set out to fill in the gaps from Socrates to Darwin. Here I take up where Epstein left off and identify four Horsemen of the 19th - 20th century.

I use four classic ontological arguments as my basis of comparison.

The argument from evil- If the gods are real, they have a lot of explaining to do. Ludwig Feuerback knew that faith in supernatural power was an alienation of the self.

Lack of empirical evidence- Discovery trumps revelation. The incorporeal is immaterial. Robert Ingersoll observed that religion's claims were founded on faith, not evidence.

The argument from inconsistent revelations- All religions can't be right, so they're probably all wrong. Sectarian religions are mutually contradictory, internally inconsistent and incoherent. Charles Bradlaugh saw Christian piety as inconsistent with human dignity.

The argument from reasonable nonbelief- If the existence of the gods were self-evident, everyone would believe. The burden of proof is on religion. William Clifford condemned credulity in moral terms.

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