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Dec 30 2011

I want to see Alvin Plantinga pwned

You know, I really despise Alvin Plantinga’s ‘philosophy’ — it’s more of an obsessively masturbatory exercise in theological babbling. Jerry Coyne has been slapping him around a bit, in part because there is a new book out called Science and Religion: Are They Compatible?, in which Dan Dennett and Alvin Plantinga go at it.

I really want to read that book. It’s got to be at least as entertaining as Bambi Meets Godzilla. But they don’t have a Kindle version! So go read Coyne’s post, and go order the book for yourself if you’d like, but could you also click on the “Tell the Publisher! I’d like to read this book on Kindle” button? For me? Pretty please?

70 comments

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  1. 1
    Sastra

    Plantinga’s “argument:”

    “Both untutored observation and current research in the scientific study of religion suggest that a tendency to believe in God or something like God, apart from any propositional evidence, is part of our native cognitive endowment…”

    Yes, and no. Studies have shown that human beings seem to have an innate tendency towards magical thinking, anthropomorphism, animism, and teleology — a tendency which tends to diminish as the child ages. This shouldn’t be surprising: children are egocentric, and all cultures have forms of superstitions in their traditions and histories.

    But this cuts against Plantinga’s point, not towards it. “God” is just one of many, many forms of supernaturalism: it’s not unique. And we understand and accept that at the very least most of these forms are cognitive errors. This goes towards suggesting that the “God” version is also an error, because it is based on known errors.

    Furthermore, if theistic belief is true, it probably doesn’t require propositional evidence for its rational acceptance. As I argue in Warranted Christian Belief, if theistic belief is true, then very likely it has both rationality and warrant in the basic way, that is, not on the basis of propositional evidence. If theistic belief is true, then very likely there is a cognitive structure something like John Calvin’s sensus divinitatis, an original source of warranted theistic belief.

    None of this follows, and none of this allows us to weed out the “sensus divinitatis” from the common folk biases which lead us to sense things that are NOT true.

    The whole argument is based on the assumption that people who believe in God – and believe in God correctly — have special senses that science can never discover. Yeah, right. This isn’t just special pleading — it’s self-serving elitist propaganda. It would and could never be accepted by a skeptic, for it places the questioner on a lower level where you may not ask questions.

    A rational argument which isn’t supposed to persuade an opponent is not a real rational argument. It’s an extended and elaborate chant of “neener neener neener.” No philosopher would be caught dead using such a thing.

    This is not philosophy. I say it’s theology, and I say to hell with it.

  2. 2
    Daniel Fincke

    For what it’s worth, here’s my general refutation to all like Plantinga who ridiculously claim that the theory of evolution gives no reason to deny the existence of a designer god.

  3. 3
    Dick the Damned

    How many “sophisticated theologians” do we have to read before we abandon the whole enterprise as a bad, mind-numbing business?

    The answer depends upon which side one is on. From the side of the religious dupes i argue with, you can’t get enough of them. From my perspective, i got bored with them long ago. But, it might be argued, there’s always the chance that one will come up with the goods.

    The religious dupes i argue with seem to think there’s value in the arguments of the “sophisticated theologians”. I point out that it’s just wishful thinking. That does seem to shut them up.

  4. 4
    stonyground

    Why are we Gnu Atheists assured that so called sophisticated theology is much more difficult to refute than the silly claims of religion generally? This guy throws around unsupported assertions, circular arguments, non-sequiteurs and states as facts things that are demonstrably untrue. Why is refuting such stuff supposed to be difficult? Is it because he uses big words and sometimes you might have to look them up?

  5. 5
    shelleyblondeau

    <<<is not assured of increased difficulty of sophisticated theology.

    However! I might as well cut and paste because typing those words is hard!

  6. 6
    Chris Hallquist

    I think I did a pretty good job of pwning Plantinga on evolution here.

  7. 7
    anteprepro

    So, Plantinga’s argument is premised on the idea that “unguided” evolution wouldn’t lead to accurate senses, and Dennett points out that, actually, it would, because the Sophisticated Theologian conveniently ignored the natural fucking selection part of “unguided” evolution. Oh, and his explanation for why Superman is not as good of an explanation for guided evolution as God is because God is bigger and is a “necessary being” (i.e. God exists by definition, per the ontological argument). I looked up Plantinga’s reason for believing this, and found his modal ontological argument on the Pfft:

    1.A being has maximal excellence in a given possible world W if and only if it is omnipotent, omniscient and wholly good in W; and
    2. A being has maximal greatness if it has maximal excellence in every possible world.
    3. It is possible that there is a being that has maximal greatness. (Premise)
    4. Therefore, possibly, it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent, and perfectly good being exists.
    5. Therefore, (by axiom S5) it is necessarily true that an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists.
    6. Therefore, an omniscient, omnipotent and perfectly good being exists.

    Axiom S5 allows one to either state that possible means necessarily possible or to remove an operator and claim that possibly necessary means necessary (which, apparently, is the controversial part of the axiom). What Plantinga does then is translate “possible” from 3 into possibly necessary in 4 without using S5 (it should be necessarily possible if he had), and then translates possibly necessary into necessary using S5. So, God is a better explanation then Superman because he’s bigger than Superman and because Plantinga is coasting along on logic he’s abused decades ago.

    Why are we Gnu Atheists assured that so called sophisticated theology is much more difficult to refute than the silly claims of religion generally?

    Generally, we aren’t, and we mock the idea of “sophisticated theology” due to that. Even when it doesn’t represent the beliefs of the lay-believer, the arguments are still laughable.

  8. 8
    davidct

    To truly understand the theist arguments one is required by theists to have a PhD in Theology. As a truck driver friend of mine pointed out PhD stands for “Piled higher and Deeper”. If it were real it should not take that much study to have grounds to believe. The exercise is just a way for intelligent people to stay deluded.

  9. 9
  10. 10
    RFW

    “go read Coyne’s post”

    Sorry to interrupt the flow of serious commentary, but I must point out that this may be a harbinger of a new era in history: The Myerses get an adorable kitten. Or even The Meyerses get a basket of adorable kittens.

  11. 11
    mikepl

    PZ,

    The book you’re (and Coyne is) talking about is over 1 year old. Plantinga’s latest book “Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism” was released this month.

  12. 12
    Daniel Fincke

    I also wrote this post countering Plantinga’s notion that naturalism cannot account for truth.

  13. 13
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    So go read Coyne’s post,

    I’ll pass, thanks.

  14. 14
    Glen Davidson

    What, you haven’t seen him pwned?

    Just check the web, he uses the lamest shit, like the ontological argument. The mere fact that he uses huge numbers of words to cover what a pile of steaming, uh, cattle product, doesn’t change the fact that he has nothing.

    Glen Davidson

  15. 15
    anteprepro

    My homage to Plantinga’s Greatest Hits

    The Modal Proof of Superpowered Humans:
    “I am Superman if I have superpowers in all possible worlds.
    It is possible that I am Superman.
    Therefore, it is possibly necessarily true that I have superpowers.
    Therefore, it is necessarily true that I have superpowers.
    Therefore, I have superpowers.”

    Plantinga’s EAAN, Unapologetic edition.

    “Perhaps Paul very much likes the idea of being eaten, but when he sees a tiger, always runs off looking for a better prospect, because he thinks it unlikely the tiger he sees will eat him. It is well established in the most highly esteemed of Philosophical Journals that people who only avoid tigers due to disbelief that the tiger will be effective in killing them will be just as likely to avoid death as those with a general aversion to being killed. This belief will get his body parts in the right place so far as survival is concerned, without involving much by way of true belief, even though it involves a larger amount of conveniently interlocking false beliefs. And, of course, there are no other predators that one must have similar fallacious beliefs about in order to continue this survival while being virtually suicidal. There are only tigers in this world of ours. Perhaps our subject thinks the tiger is a large, friendly, cuddly pussycat and wants to pet it; but he also believes that the best way to pet it is to run away from it. The fact that the person will still most likely seek out those cuddly furballs so that he can “pet it” by running away is entirely irrelevant and would in no ways increase the risk to the person’s life more than simply believing that tigers are dangerous…. Clearly there are any number of belief-cum-desire systems that equally fit a given bit of behaviour, even if the number and specificity of beliefs involved spits in the face of parsimony, and even though those systems of beliefs still result in more risk of running afoul of natural selection than simpler, accurate beliefs.”

    The Free Will Defense:
    God must allow people to freely choose good or evil actions because God won’t settle for only shades of good to neutral. Also, it’s impossible for us to not do bad stuff. God doesn’t prevent those evil actions from having consequences for other, non-evildoers because…He allows natural evil (biological ailments, natural disasters) to occur because….

  16. 16
    Dabu

    Alvin Plantinga: A sophisticated theologian, who can marshal a host of intelligent, nuanced arguments in favor of god-belief, claiming that humans have a magic god-sniffing nose.

    Force locomotif for the 21st century.

  17. 17
    rbh3

    … could you also click on the “Tell the Publisher! I’d like to read this book on Kindle” button?

    Some of us aren’t part of the Amazon crowd of semi-cool kids, and instead use the cooler Nook. :)

  18. 18
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    Some of us have no use for DRM’d books, too. ><

  19. 19
    The Lorax

    I just finished listening to these two debate; Camels with Hammers posted some audio. PZ gets a plug when Dennett gets his chance to talk, which was cool.

    When I heard Alvin mention Behe I facepalmed. Hard. Seriously, I think I bruised myself. I can’t believe people still take that seriously; Behe has been SOUNDLY defeated from almost every direction, including a court of law, and no one has ever, ever, produced any evidence of intelligent design. Besides which, we know from papers from the Discovery Institute that “intelligent design” was in fact nothing more than a re-label of creationism. Hasn’t he ever heard of “cdesign proponentsists”? ‘Cause that still makes me laugh.

    Anyway, I have neither the time nor the attention span to voice a full opinion on the debate, since I’d have to re-listen to it a few times in order to write a satisfactory response, but I can say that Alvin, whilst building up to some good points, ends up failing miserably. Dennett could have done better by defending his perspective on the question rather than just pointing out the flaws in Alvin’s argument (which he did very well, I think), but overall he did well and was enjoyable to listen to.

  20. 20
    Azuma Hazuki

    I will be watching this post with much close interest. Perhaps this is due to knowing less philosophy than archaeology and text criticism, but I think of Plantinga as the most honest and least batshit-insane of the lot of Calvinists/presuppositionalists we have to deal with.

    There’s always a bit of cognitive dissonance here when I think I’ve rumbled one of his arguments, something along the lines of “Wait, what? Did You Just Out-Argue Cthulhu?” I mean, he’s old enough to be my father and he has graduate degrees in this stuff, and I’m just a snarky lesbian computer geek with a useless geology bachelor’s. But the arguments were well and truly destroyed, even by me. They really are that ill-conceived.

    I don’t understand why people continue to use defeated arguments, and in particular why Plantinga feels the need to hide behind an illegal use of modal logic to make a point which even he admits isn’t completely convincing. And the “sense of the divine” is yet another piece of special pleading and question-begging, in addition to being one of the only places where evopsych actually has something useful to say (sorry, guys!).

    Why doesn’t he just pack it up and go home? He must have enough money from speaking fees to retire in luxury now.

  21. 21
    ibyea

    Oh, that guy. I heard of him from my philosophy professor. It was obvious that he didn’t like what Plantinga had to offer, even if he outright didn’t say it.

  22. 22
    gyokusai

    Apparantly, if you’re outside the U.S., you can’t “tell the Publisher I’d like to read this book on Kindle”—neither on Amazon’s local or U.S. website. Even if you have your own darn Kindle store! Works fine with a proxy, though.

    What’s desperately needed in all countries except the U.S, is a browser with not only a “private tab”, but also a “proxy tab” option. I’m so sick of this.

    Also …

    @PZ, you might want to treat your watch to a new battery; Amazon’s publication date for this book is September 10, 2010.

  23. 23
    unclefrogy

    everything I have ever read by believers to join scientific understanding of the world or evolution make me nuts. I do not ever remember any of them ever not ignoring the simple fact that there is no clear line between species taken in the long view of the history of earth. It is a solid continuum between the first cells and what we see existent now on earth. that is the fact as we find it. there is the implied separation of humans from the natural world to some degree which is always exaggerated and made like it is so profound. It seems to me that that is really the whole point of the argument whether stated or not “I am not descendant from no monkey”
    All of it by which I mean religion is about making humans special and superior to all other things a special concern of this god/universe.
    it is especially manifest in “sophisticated philosophers” who are just trying to convince everyone that they are so superior so smart so sophisticated that they could not possibly be just mostly naked apes who are aware that they are just temporarily alive but because of their superiority from “creation” that the universe will let them live forever and everyone should listen to them and they should get the most bananas and sex.

    uncle frogy

  24. 24
    'Tis Himself

    I couldn’t care less if a book is offered in Kindle. I like dead tree books.

  25. 25
    shouldbeworking

    I like dead tree books too. There are better uses for batteries…

  26. 26
    Ichthyic

    PZ,

    The book you’re (and Coyne is) talking about is over 1 year old. Plantinga’s latest book “Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism” was released this month.

    since Plantinga hasn’t had a new argument in decades, I suspect that arguing last year’s book will more than suffice.

  27. 27
    Marcus Ranum

    Presumably the believers in “theistic evolution” don’t believe in a soul or an afterlife, since there is no pathway that would argue for ensoulment and the idea of an afterlife is patently absurd. I haven’t read Plantinga but does anyone know if he offers a theory on that topic?

    Theistic evolution sophistimacated theologians are just supernaturalist boneheads with PhD in make-believe.

  28. 28
    Kel

    The book isn’t at my local library, so I’ll give it a miss.

  29. 29
    Matt Penfold

    Plantinga is one of those philosophers who give philosophy a bad name. He seems to think that reality must conform to his philosophical reasoning (I use the word reasoning quite inaccurately), rather than philosophy having to take into account the unreasonableness of reality.

  30. 30
    truthspeaker

    gyokusai says:
    30 December 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Apparantly, if you’re outside the U.S., you can’t “tell the Publisher I’d like to read this book on Kindle”—neither on Amazon’s local or U.S. website. Even if you have your own darn Kindle store! Works fine with a proxy, though.

    What’s desperately needed in all countries except the U.S, is a browser with not only a “private tab”, but also a “proxy tab” option.

    It’s needed in the US, too. For example, if you want to watch video on the BBC web site that is only intended for viewers in the UK.

  31. 31
    Fukuda

    @27

    Presumably the believers in “theistic evolution” don’t believe in a soul or an afterlife, since there is no pathway that would argue for ensoulment and the idea of an afterlife is patently absurd.

    The entire building of religion (all of them without exception, from animism to New Age to Catholicism) falls apart without dualism, without the soul. You have to believe in bodiless minds to believe that the big ape in the sky (or your nearest shrine) will answer your prayers or that you’ll live forever without a body. (Being a Kurzweilite is another possibility)

    So yes, theistic evolutionists believe in the existence of the soul(at least their deity’s one), explicitly or implicitly. It’s easy to give excuses for the existence of a human soul when you claim that evolution is guided by your favourite deity, his true intentions being “obscure” after all.

  32. 32
    Kel

    I’m always surprised that anyone can take the EAAN seriously. Even if there’s no evolutionary account as to how it could possibly be that there could be selection for reliable beliefs, at best all Plantinga has done is offered a conjecture. Has he put his conjecture into an evolutionary model? Has he run simulations? Has he proposed novel patterns that could be tested against observation? If not, then he’s hardly said anything worth saying. Call it scientism if you must, but given that Plantinga’s making grand pronouncements about what evolution can and cannot do, the very least should be some empirical means to discern whether it’s true.

    The phrase “not even wrong” comes to mind…

  33. 33
    David Marjanović

    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/12/30/the-ontological-argument-kitteh-style/

    So awesome! So succinct! So true! I iz happeh kitteh =^_^=

    The Modal Proof of Superpowered Humans:

    Tsk, tsk, tsk. Superman isn’t a human. He’s from Krypton !!

    Never forget: The Amazing Spider-Man is Peter Parker in a suit. The goddamned Batman is Bruce Wayne in a suit. Clark Kent is Superman in a suit.

    Force locomotif

    Force locomotive. La force.

    I don’t understand why people continue to use defeated arguments

    1) Abject ignorance of anything outside their field. Old joke about specialists who know more and more about less and less till they know everything about nothing. Scarily common.
    2) Stupidity (for instance failure to understand that the arguments are defeated).
    3) Dishonesty (first and foremost to oneself).

    Take your pick(s). I pick 1, and I’m not sure about 2 and 3.

    “sophisticated philosophers” who are just trying to convince everyone that they are so superior so smart so sophisticated that they could not possibly be just mostly naked apes who are aware that they are just temporarily alive but because of their superiority from “creation” that the universe will let them live forever and everyone should listen to them and they should get the most bananas and sex

    Philosophy is the art of understanding the universe using a three-pound monkey brain.

  34. 34
    imthegenieicandoanything

    Didn’t Alvin Plantinga have a cameo way back when, in the movie “Animal House”? Wasn’t he the folk-singing guy whose guitar Bluto smashed to bits?

    Alvin Plantinga: another aging, pretentious, empty guy posing to cage drinks and pick ups impressionable girls instead of bothering to do an honest day’s work, ever.

  35. 35
    Kel

    I don’t understand why people continue to use defeated arguments

    On the podcast Philosophy Bites, a few weeks ago, they had philosopher Frank Jackson on. He was talking about his thought experiment Mary’s Room, which was initially an argument for the epiphenomenalist nature of consciousness. His initial paper has had many replies, many people arguing what was obviously wrong with it yet each paper picked up something different that they thought was wrong with it. Eventually Frank accepted that the argument was flawed, that a certain reply he accepted made the argument untenable. But even now there are people who still accept the argument, and think it’s sad that Frank has since recanted.

    The point being is that sometimes it’s not immediately obvious that an argument is flawed, and even if there is criticism, it may not be that the criticism is good or well-received. Plantinga may not think that the replies are good enough, or that they’ve satisfied the problem that was set out. I’ve seen others defend Plantinga’s argument with sincerity on the premise that it’s not obviously wrong and that there are serious questions that have not been addressed. I thought he was wrong and argued as such, but I don’t think that he consciously was using an argument he thought defeated. He seemed to genuinely believe in it.

  36. 36
    myeck waters

    imthegenieicandoanything #34

    Didn’t Alvin Plantinga have a cameo way back when, in the movie “Animal House”? Wasn’t he the folk-singing guy whose guitar Bluto smashed to bits?

    The charming guitar guy was an actual singer-songwriter, Stephen Bishop.

  37. 37
    rorschach

    Since I’m planning to indoctrinate my child to think for himself and to love and understand science, I prefer books in a form so they can be innocuously positioned on a bookshelf, so that when he is old enough he will check out what daddy likes to read. I can’t see that happening with a Kindle. Hence, no Kindle.

    Sastra “Like”+1

  38. 38
    Serendipitydawg(rebel without paws)

    I can never see sophisticated as anything other than sophist because it always flags some kind of long winded and specious reasoning whenever it is applied to theology.

  39. 39
    Azuma Hazuki

    @39

    They do come from the same linguistic root you know.

  40. 40
    Serendipitydawg(rebel without paws)

    @Irene Delse,

    They certainly got Ecclesiastes 2 right.

    LOL indeed.

  41. 41
    Circe

    I have a sincere question about Platinga’s argument. Let’s assuming all its premises are true, and let’s also assume that all the steps are valid. I now feel like the Queen in Alice in Wonderland who could believe “six impossible things before breakfast”, but let’s do that anyway.

    Where does the argument show that the gender of the resulting Deity has to be male? Why does He exist? Why not She? or It?

  42. 42
    Kel

    I have a sincere question about Platinga’s argument.

    The argument doesn’t show that it’s male. There’s nothing in the argument at all about the deity’s gender, let alone if deities can even have gender.

  43. 43
    Serendipitydawg(rebel without paws)

    @Azuma Hazuki,

    Indeed, but sophisticated has moved on somewhat.

  44. 44
    Wowbagger, Designated Snarker

    Circe wrote:

    Where does the argument show that the gender of the resulting Deity has to be male? Why does He exist? Why not She? or It?

    Yeah, I have that problem with these kinds of ‘arguments’ as well – showing that a god is can possibly exist is vastly different from showing that their specific god (and only their specific god) definitely does exist.

    If they were intellectually honest there’d be no way they’d conflate the two – but they aren’t, and so they do.

  45. 45
    rbh3

    Actually, the data suggest that there are multiple “gods.” I’d refer you to “Introduction to Multiple Designers Theory”, but the Panda’s Thumb is down for about week while it’s moved to Arizona.

  46. 46
    rbh3

    Oops. Reed is maintaining the post archives during the move, so Multiple Designers Theory, along with some validation data. :)

  47. 47
    Circe

    Kel:

    Wel, the argument shows nothing, since it is wrong at so many levels. But I find it telling that it is always put in terms f the Juadeao-Christian “God”. And, HE, the argument purports to show, exists. Even if the argument dis not have as many holes it has, I find is strange that its fans could convince themselves that the Deity popping out of it had to be their particular one, complete with a nice white beard and with the requirement of a human sacrifice of himself to himself so that he could forgive a couple of kids who metaphorically stole an apple.

  48. 48
    Kel

    Circe, which argument of Plantinga’s are you saying that purports to show that God is a He? I’m unfamiliar with any that do.

  49. 49
    Sastra

    I’m in the habit of referring to God as an “it” — unless it’s a specific reference to the Biblical God and even then I often slip. I think that’s because my background is mostly “spiritual but not religious” with a more nebulous, less obviously anthropomorphic god akin to creative energy or a cosmic “consciousness.” When I talk about God, that’s what I reflexively imagine. A transcendent it. I think it’s also a better form of God to deal with in theological/atheist arguments, because it’s more basic, stripped of detail. It’s sort of the generic substrate behind all the different versions and cuts to the chase. I hope.

    It’s interesting though how some theists think I’m deliberately trying to be insulting. Others don’t seem to be paying attention: I’ll get liberals insisting that I must only be aware of fundamentalist versions of God and ignorant of their far superior metaphorical version … which apparently still has sex and is a He.

    Thou art not more Transcendentalist than moi — and it’s still wrong.

  50. 50
    Serendipitydawg(rebel without paws)

    Actually, the data suggest that there are multiple “gods.”

    The BBC had a recent programme by Dr Francesca Stavrakopoulou that postulated the theory that xianity was originally polytheistic and has been systematically cleansed.

    Very interesting, should it become available to watch in your region.

  51. 51
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    @ Serendipitydawg:

    Some Christian denominations are still polytheistic, in some fashion. Faith in Mary, Mother of God, comes to mind.

  52. 52
    Serendipitydawg(rebel without paws)

    Sorry, I’m not making 100% sense (it is 02:15 here…):

    I should say polytheistic roots.

  53. 53
    David Marjanović

    The argument doesn’t show that it’s male. There’s nothing in the argument at all about the deity’s gender, let alone if deities can even have gender.

    But surely being male is a necessary condition for perfection…?

    </black humor>

  54. 54
    Serendipitydawg(rebel without paws)

    @Irene Delse,

    Indeed, and this was one of the smoking guns that Dr Stavrakopoulou cited. There are a few other remnants that she dug up which various Jewish scholars were dismissing and reinterpreting to achieve monotheism.

    I can’t for the life of me remember who she said his wife was but there was a section of the bible that had a total rewrite between the version in Hebrew and SJV; it certainly wasn’t a translator’s interpretation, the difference was stark.

  55. 55
    Serendipitydawg(rebel without paws)

    KJV! Really, it is now bed time.

    Happy new year DDMFM.

  56. 56
    Kel

    But surely being male is a necessary condition for perfection…?

    I would have assumed his argument for Christian warrant and the retreat to metaphysics would be more appropriate: that even if every reason in the world was presented that gender assignment to deity is indicative of unjustified anthropomorphising, that Plantinga would be justified in referring to God as male.

  57. 57
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    Re the polytheistic roots of Christianity: I’ve read the presentation on the BBC website and that doesn’t surprise me. In fact, what they are talking about is something that archaeologists and historians, including historians of religion, have been saying from some time. But it’s even earlier than Christianity: the old Hebrew religion itself was polytheistic before they began believing that their local god was the God, the only one worth worshipping, stronger and more holy than the gods of neighbouring peoples. Theologians are a bit wary with this notion, but they can’t deny evidence from Bible exegesis. And several verses in the Ancient Testament say things like “Yahweh is exalted above other gods”…

  58. 58
    raven

    I can’t for the life of me remember who she said his wife was but there was a section of the bible that had a total rewrite between the version in Hebrew and SJV;

    It wasn’t xianity, it was the OT.

    God’s wife was the goddess Asherah.

    Asherah is mentioned quite often in the OT and always negatively. But there is a huge amount of evidence that she was an important figure at one time and got erased due to politics.

    I’ve always taken this as data that the OT god isn’t too powerful. He just let a bunch of humans get rid of his wife!!!

  59. 59
    raven

    FWIW, the early parts of the OT are filled with polytheism. And you can trace the struggle the monotheists had getting rid of all the other gods.

    The 10 commandments say not to worship other gods. It doesn’t say they aren’t real though, they are just not the gods of the Hebrews.

  60. 60
    Circe

    Kel: Plantinga’s argument(s) purport to “show” the existence of the Judaeo-Christiuan “God”, who is always referred to as “male”. I realize this is much like quibbling about whether Snow White was left handed or right handed, but my point was how peddlers of these arguments never bother to show why exactly the deity popping out of their argument has all the other properties that they attribute to it.

  61. 61
    Serendipitydawg(rebel without paws)

    It wasn’t xianity, it was the OT.

    Indeed. Her main thrust was the OT though she espoused a view that both Judaism and xianity maintained polystheistic traces, despite much editing and text selection.

  62. 62
    Kel

    Circe:

    Plantinga’s argument(s) purport to “show” the existence of the Judaeo-Christiuan “God”, who is always referred to as “male”.

    If that’s the case, then I’m not sure how that can be counter to any particular argument other than perhaps Plantinga’s belief itself. What the arguments can show is well explored by Michael Martin here. Because, as you rightly point out, there is a gap between the arguments and what people attribute to God.

    I get the point you are trying to make, and I agree that calling God male (or anything gendered) is an arbitrary (to the point of view of the God) piece of historical contingency. But if Plantinga’s arguments aren’t saying that God is male, then it’s a non sequitur to what he is trying to establish. He may unjustifiably believe that God is male, or have an argument as to why he thinks it’s justified to believe God is male. But whether or not God is conceived of as male doesn’t counter what the arguments are seeking to do.

  63. 63
    marella

    I have clicked the Amazon button for you but I doubt it will do much good. If I had a dollar for every book I’ve requested as an e-book I’d be able to eat a really good dinner at a fabulous restaurant, lobster even. Amazon needs to do something urgently about the books available electronically or the whole enterprise will fail.

    For those having location difficulties, go get Hotspot Shield, it will solve your problems and it’s free. Google will find it for you.

  64. 64
    shouldbeworking

    So humans killed the wife of god. Now I have answer when my religious nutbar of a cousin asks why I hate god.
    “Because he shafted us on the hit we put on his misses!”

  65. 65
    Circe

    Kel:

    But whether or not God is conceived of as male doesn’t counter what the arguments are seeking to do.

    I already put in the rider that my observation was contingent upon the Herculean logical leap of assuming that his argument(s) proved anything about the existence of any kind of deity at all. I was just pointing out that even if they worked there would still be the very challenging step of showing that this deity is the same thing as the one described in the Bible before going “Ergo, Jesus!”. Somehow, or at least that is my impression, peddlers of these “*-logical” arguments always ignore that last step.

  66. 66
    Kel

    Fair enough, Circe. I think we’re in agreement.

  67. 67
    Azuma Hazuki

    @65

    Yes, I’ve been stumped by this for ages. All Plantinga’s MOA actually says is “IF you don’t look too closely when I switch from predicate to modal logic, it is not completely batshit to believe that there may be a God of some description…no, no, S5 isn’t controversial at all! Stop that! Go away!”

    Apparently they only reckon with established religions, and don’t take into account any of the infinite variety of pantheist or Deist Gods there may be.

  68. 68
    Kel

    My favourite part about Plantinga’s ontological argument is that he admits that it doesn’t show anything other than if you accept the premises it’s rational to believe the conclusion.

  69. 69
    John Phillips, FCD

    Irene Delse, I also hate DRM and love real books, but I also now wouldn’t be without my kindle app on my Xoom for being able to take my full library anywhere. However I don’t, for good reason, trust Amazon fully so I like a non Amazon backup. To that end I just use Calibre (freeware) with a free plugin available via google, it takes 5 minutes at most for the necessary install of both Calibre and the plugin.

    Then I either download the books to my Kindle PC app or copy them off my tablet and drag and drop them into Calibre with the plugin enabled. Then I can either just leave them in their native kindle format, i.e. .mobi, but now free of DRM in my Calibre library on my SAN, or, if needed for a non-mobi compliant reader, can convert them into some other format.

    I just got Hitchen’s God Is Not Great for 99p (~$1.60) in their 12 days of Kindle sale. They also have a whole stack of free books by writers like Ingersoll and Payne, to name but two, as well as many of the classics for free.

  70. 70
    zarkoff45

    If you want to see Alvin Plantinga pwned, then check out these youtube videos:

    http://youtu.be/oSjRRp_3SSI

    Part 1 :
    http://youtu.be/eU-wpNOyuas
    Part 2 :
    http://youtu.be/D65WS8l8oCA
    Part 3 :

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