Are Atheists Redefining "Reason"?
by Luke Nix
As many are likely aware, in one week, there will be a gathering of atheists in Washington, DC. They have dubbed this the "Reason Rally". The idea is to promote the idea that atheism is more reasonable than religion. However, if you read this blog and other blogs like it (see the sidebar), you are also aware that there are many reasons that people believe Christianity is true, and atheism is not. But are the organizers of this event actually promoting "reason"?
If this rally was going to consist of mainly atheist scientists and philosophers offering their reasons and encouraging Christian peers to critique and engage their reasons, I could understand the title of "Reason Rally". Unfortunately, the organizers are doing no such thing. Instead they have chosen to appeal to improper authorities, resist peer review, and encourage an atmosphere of personal attacks- all pointing toward a deliberate rejection of reason and possibly even an intentional redefinition of the word "reason". This all reminds me of my school days…
One of the first things that I learned in Philosophy 101 was the proper and improper way to appeal to authorities. Simply put, a proper authority is someone who is speaking in the context of the discipline they are trained in. An improper authority is one who is speaking in the context of a discipline they are not trained in. To find an improper appeal to authority, a person needs to look no further than TV commercials. Celebrities sign contracts to promote many different goods and services. If a basketball player promoted a toothpaste, this is not a proper appeal to authority; however, if a dentist (not an actor) promotes a toothpaste, it is a proper appeal to authority. There is much more about dealing with appeals to authorities in my post, "Do You Rely On Authorities?".
Please notice that the organizers of the Reason Rally are using people not trained scientifically to provide conclusions about scientific data. They are also using people not trained in philosophy or metaphysics to support metaphysical claims (that God does not exist). Science can be used to support philosophical conclusions, but it cannot be used to draw them. What is needed is the combination of both scientist and philosopher. The philosopher to provide the argument and support the philosophical premises, and the scientist to support the scientific premises…
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