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Friday, February 1, 2013

Byzantine Quorum

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. Here I present Four Horsemen of the Islamic Golden Age.

The argument from evil- If the gods are real, they have a lot of explaining to do. Chance rules the universe.

The argument from inconsistent revelations- All religions can't be right, so they're probably all wrong. This is also known as cosmopolitan doubt.

The argument from reasonable nonbelief- If the existence of gods were self-evident, everyone would believe. The burden of proof is on religion. Faith may be natural, but so is doubt.

Lack of empirical evidence- Discovery trumps revelation. This is the skeptical or naturalistic argument. The natural world is all there is. Miracles are impossible by definition because they require a suspension of the immutable laws of nature.

Cultural relativists who are squeamish about imposing European values on Islam really should consider that Islamic Golden Age philosophers revived the campaign against religious authority well ahead of the Enlightenment.

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