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Sunday, February 10, 2013

20th 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. I use four classic ontological arguments as as basis of comparison with the New Atheists.

The argument from reasonable nonbelief- If the existence of the gods were self-evident, everyone would believe. The burden of proof is on religion. Russell's teapot is a classic example of a proposition that we do not take on faith.

The argument from inconsistent revelations- Sectarian religions are mutually contradictory, internally inconsistent an incoherent. They can't all be right, so who's to say they're not all wrong? Madalyn Murray O-Hair understood that no interpretation could salvage supernatural revelation.

Lack of empirical evidence- Discovery trumps revelation. Einstein believed in reason and evidence.

The argument from evil- If the gods are real, they have a lot of explaining to do. Carl Sagan celebrated the world on its own terms, not as capricious deities would have it.

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