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by Anthony Horvath
One of the things that led me to reject atheism is the realization that most of its arguments, if true, mean that we couldn’t possibly know its true. It violates what I call “the Golden rule of Epistemology,” which means, basically, “any epistemological approach that undermines epistemology itself must be rejected out of hand.” I have a long essay written on the subject with many examples, which you can buy on Amazon. Sometimes, it isn’t an argument, per se, but a tactic, or an attitude, or approach to truth propositions, in general, that has the actual effect of undermining our ability to say that we ‘know’ what we say we ‘know.’
One of the areas that I see this frequently is in attacks on ‘religion’ based on the myriad of different interpretations that exist for different passages, and so on. This, is almost always raised in contrast to ‘science’, where, apparently, there are never different interpretations. *rolls eyes* And pretty much every atheist I’ve ever met believes that he is better than his fellow man because he is a man of science, not myth, fable, superstition, or what not. Although, I will grant that the atheists of old don’t share the same arrogance… but then, I wouldn’t have met them, would I?
I saw this line of argument recently in a similar context. As usual, the attempt is being made to distinguish one’s approach as ‘scientific’, over against the pure subjectivity of ‘religion.’ I will save my criticisms of this perspective on ‘science’ for another day, but it was one of the clearest, most direct examples of the self-defeating nature of the argument against religion, I’ve seen in awhile. The correspondent wrote:
A Bible or any written word can be made to say anything you think it says which is why there are so many different sects of Christianity and other religions based on books.
To which I replied,
I am very insulted by that comment. Why did you just call me a moron?
You can see his confusion in his next remark:
For the same reason you commented.”He seems to think that it can be made to say anything that he thinks it can be made to say.” Therefore calling everyone but you a moron for thinking different. Your words. You can choose to be insulted on not. I defend your right to feel that way as much as I defend the right not to be worried about it.
To which I replied,
Why have you now invoked the Scandinavian mud-toad to explain the existence of diabetics?
An onlooker, sympathetic to my correspondent, now chimes in…
Am I having a stroke?
I try to help him understand the situation:
Hey, “any written word can be made to say anything you think it says”, right?
But even now he doesn’t get it.
Why is [this] conversation degenerating into a Lewis Carroll nonsense poem?
The fact that this guy also doesn’t get the joke reveals, in my opinion, just how deeply entrenched this ‘attitude’ is that views words as infinitely malleable… when addressing ‘religious’ matters, and how unaware they are that if their statement was true, it would rebound onto every other matter where ‘words’ were used. So, I have to spell it out…
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