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Plantinga!

I should pay more attention to the Digital Cuttlefish — apparently, the recent rash of “Plantinga!” in my in-box might be because Plantinga has an interview on the NY Times Opinionator, and it’s making the same stupid argument my correspondent gabbled at me.

DC has taken care of the gist. Let me point out one thing that jumped out at me, bizarrely. It’s his rejection of Russell’s Teapot.

Russell’s idea, I take it, is we don’t really have any evidence against teapotism, but we don’t need any; the absence of evidence is evidence of absence, and is enough to support a-teapotism. We don’t need any positive evidence against it to be justified in a-teapotism; and perhaps the same is true of theism.

I disagree: Clearly we have a great deal of evidence against teapotism. For example, as far as we know, the only way a teapot could have gotten into orbit around the sun would be if some country with sufficiently developed space-shot capabilities had shot this pot into orbit. No country with such capabilities is sufficiently frivolous to waste its resources by trying to send a teapot into orbit. Furthermore, if some country had done so, it would have been all over the news; we would certainly have heard about it. But we haven’t. And so on. There is plenty of evidence against teapotism. So if, à la Russell, theism is like teapotism, the atheist, to be justified, would (like the a-teapotist) have to have powerful evidence against theism.

<blink, blink> Seriously? He rejects the Russell’s Teapot idea because he can only imagine a methodologically natural process for launching it into orbit, and because we lack concrete physical evidence of the technological apparatus for putting it in space, we have evidence that it doesn’t exist?

Alvin Plantinga, go look in a mirror.

If that is sufficient cause to dismiss the space teapot theory (which I’d agree with, actually, and I suspect Russell would, too), then the complete absence of evidence for the origin of a god; the conflicting stories about the nature of these gods; the frivolity of the supernatural manifestations of these gods; the lack of a natural framework in which to explain the machinations of these hypothetical gods; all that is evidence against theism, and justifies the rational rejection of god-belief.

Also, here’s Russell’s own account of the teapot.

Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.

Notice that he does not postulate launch facilities in Siberia to put it into space — it just is, as if “affirmed in ancient books”. His whole point is that in the absence of corresponding evidence, with only the testimony of religious texts, you are justified in rejecting the teapot hypothesis.

So Plantinga willingly flips into pure materialist mode to dismiss a claim of an orbiting teapot, and then happily flips back into supernaturalist mode when he wants to believe in a god, and he doesn’t even notice. Some philosopher.

I’m not even going to try to puzzle out the rest of the interview. Too much exposure to Plantinga causes brain damage, as the state of his fans testifies.

Comments

  1. doublereed says

    So basically, he doesn’t actually understand what Russell’s Teapot is about.

    Alvin, I think you need to make sure you understand the question before answering it…

  2. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    And Platinga’s fans give us the Courtier’s Reply?

    Truly bizarre that someone can be considered expert in a field where that person doesn’t understand the discussion.

  3. Iain Walker says

    Plantinga has earned his place in the Philosophical Lexicon with not just one but two entries:

    alvinize, v. To stimulate protracted discussion by making a bizarre claim. “His contention that natural evil is due to Satanic agency alvinized his listeners.”

    planting, v. To use twentieth-century fertilizer to encourage new shoots from eleventh-century ideas which everyone thought had gone to seed; hence, plantinger, n. one who plantings.

    http://www.philosophicallexicon.com/

  4. Akira MacKenzie says

    This is exactly why I reject and despise most philosophy and all “metaphysics” as nothing more than naval-gazing rationalization of superstitious dipshits who can’t deal with reality, from religionist scum like Plantinga to post-modernist fuckwads who had one pot-influenced viewings of The Matrix movies too many.

    A is A, moron. Reality is real. There is nothing to discuss or debate. Take your “narratives” and your “fictions” and shove them into whatever bodily orifice is most physically painful and the most socially humiliating to be figuratively penetrated.

  5. says

    Indeed. I cannot, for example, see any mechanism by which Jesus could have been resurrected from the dead because they didn’t have cardiopulmonary resuscitation in 32 AD. So why am I supposed to believe that again, as opposed to believing in the teapot?

    The man is incapable of simple thought.

  6. Reginald Selkirk says

    For example, as far as we know, the only way a teapot could have gotten into orbit around the sun would be if some country with sufficiently developed space-shot capabilities had shot this pot into orbit.

    Just to play Captain Obvious for a moment, note that Plantinga has ruled out supernatural explanations for the Teapot(PBUH), and considers this a reasonable thing to do.

  7. david says

    Aliens!!! Tea-drinking aliens!!! They put the teapot there, just in case humankind runs out here on earth.

    There. Now Plantinga has to believe in the teapot.

  8. Akira MacKenzie says

    Plantiga believes in a omniscient, omnipotent cosmic tyrant that magically “poofed” everything into existence, but he wants to quibble about orbiting teapots?

  9. sc_1afdbca0f6f2896b62f4140e94e557d8 says

    Russell published his famous teapot argument in 1952, years before anyone had the technology to place anything in orbit around the Earth, let alone in a solar orbit between Earth and Mars. Does Plantinga think that because the news would have reported it if someone on Earth launched it is a more a persuasive argument for it not being man-made than that it was impossible at the time for it to have been man-made? Does he even realize that the whole point of the argument is that the teapot is not man-made?

  10. WhiteHatLurker says

    I had thought the subject was a portmanteau of Bazinga and plant. False advertising to draw in the unsuspecting …

  11. sqlrob says

    Sorry, the pot was left by small furry aliens from slhkjhf 6, which was completely wiped out by the supernova that created the Crab Nebula. It’s the last remaining artifact of their civilization, and that’s why we haven’t seen it yet.

    Your move Plantinga.

  12. kevinalexander says

    as far as we know, the only way a teapot could have gotten into orbit around the sun would be if some country with sufficiently developed space-shot capabilities had shot this pot into orbit

    Alan, we do have copious clinical evidence for the brains power of confabulation in the face of mystery. We also know that such fables can be spread as infectious memes especially when hypnotic techniques are used and most especially when begun at an impressionable age.
    I recommend dancing the macarena five times a day with a colander on your head while facing Markam.
    You could also try spinning around. That works. Or else you could bob your head back and forth while chanting in front of an old stone wall while hitting your head now and then. Hitting your head on the floor works too. The possibilities are endless.

  13. raven says

    Plantinga is an idiot. It’s telling that he is also considered one of the best theologians around.

    He is a Presuppositionalist. He assumes god is real. Then he uses pages of words to…prove god is real. My cat could do that.

    This is true of most or all of theology. It starts by assuming that its subject is real. And then veers off into the ozone riding that horse.

  14. Cuttlefish says

    Well, yes, everybody should pay more attention to Digital Cuttlefish… but I would have bet that the post that PZ would have noticed would be the Templeton one. So much for my predictive abilities.

  15. Akira MacKenzie says

    pwuk @ 19

    OMD, it’s full of tea leaves.

    ALL THESE WORLDS
    ARE YOURS EXCEPT
    EUROPA
    ATTEMPT NO
    TEAVANA FRANCHISES THERE

  16. Sastra says

    Really, if you’re going to claim that God is detected through a special form of ESP all humans have been given called “sensus divinitatis” — a sense which is sadly not working in the people who don’t detect Him due to their ‘sin’ — why the hell do you bother with making any rational argument at all? It’s not an argument; it’s a blanket refusal to grant common ground with the infidel.

  17. panzagloba says

    Plantinga’s earned plenty of mockery, no doubt about that, but he’s not an idiot. (He’s a master of motivated reasoning and is totally unconscious of his own blind spots.)

    When he’s doing his philosophy with a collaborator who disagrees with him and is willing to keep him honest (as was the case with his original Problem of Evil research), it’s up to code. (Which is also not to say that no honest and reasonable person can disagree with Plantinga’s PoE analysis.)

  18. okstop says

    @#4:

    Well, just because Plantinga is an idiot doesn’t mean that metaphysics is vapid, and “A equals A” is utterly uninformative, as tautologies tend to be. Let’s not swing from one extreme to the other. In fact, good philosophy is the best way to *demonstrate* that Plantinga is an idiot. I’m sure Cuttlefish demonstrates this nicely.

    Let me also draw attention to Pigliucci’s takedown of Plantinga’s idiocy, here: http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/is-alving-plantinga-for-real-alas-it.html

  19. alexmcdonald says

    GG: So your claim is that if materialism is true, evolution doesn’t lead to most of our beliefs being true.

    AP: Right. In fact, given materialism and evolution, it follows that our belief-producing faculties are not reliable.

    Here’s why. If a belief is as likely to be false as to be true, we’d have to say the probability that any particular belief is true is about 50 percent. [Say, ain't that a surprise! Now I understand what "equally likely" means] Now suppose we had a total of 100 independent beliefs (of course, we have many more). [What? We have in excess of 100 beliefs that might or might not be true? Independent beliefs? How many axioms does one man need?] Remember that the probability that all of a group of beliefs are true is the multiplication of all their individual probabilities. [WTF, is this guy serious???] Even if we set a fairly low bar for reliability — say, that at least two-thirds (67 percent) of our beliefs are true — [But wait -- it was 50/50 a minute ago...] our overall reliability, given materialism and evolution, is exceedingly low: something like .0004. [Uh... what?] So if you accept both materialism and evolution, you have good reason to believe that your belief-producing faculties are not reliable.

    Proof, if any was needed, that there are degrees of non-mathematician-ness and that Plantinga is of a negative degree. I calculate it as -2.0387. Percent. Or something.

  20. raven says

    GG: So your claim is that if materialism is true, evolution doesn’t lead to most of our beliefs being true.

    AP: Right. In fact, given materialism and evolution, it follows that our belief-producing faculties are not reliable.

    This is gibberish. Plantinga has whole books like this.

    1. Paraphrasing, Sagan’s wife, Carl didn’t want to believe, he wanted to know.

    2. We don’t have to or need to believe anything. Thanks to modern science, we can find out and…know.

    This is BTW, the basis of our modern Hi Tech civilization. You don’t have to believe in your iphone, computer, or car. They will work even if you don’t believe in them.

  21. ryancunningham says

    “Now suppose we had a total of 100 independent beliefs (of course, we have many more).”

    So why isn’t this true for theists?

  22. Nick Gotts says

    When he’s doing his philosophy with a collaborator who disagrees with him and is willing to keep him honest (as was the case with his original Problem of Evil research), it’s up to code. – panzagloba

    What that indicates to me is that Plantinga is an idiot – as shown by the dreck he produces when working alone – and anything reasonably competent produced when he’s collaborating should be marked down to the credit of the collaborator.

  23. Pierce R. Butler says

    Daz… @ # 14: But is it Delft, or Wedgwood?

    For several years after first hearing of Lord Russell’s teapot, I visualized it as made of the finest sterling silver, with elegant chasing and a spout modeled after a swan’s neck, reflecting the light of sun and stars as it slowly spun through space.

    At least now we know it’s not one of those cheap aluminum jobs with a built-in whistle. Even Russell’s well-developed democratic principles wouldn’t go that low.

  24. Sastra says

    In fact, given materialism and evolution, it follows that our belief-producing faculties are not reliable.

    No, it follows only that our belief-producing faculties are not perfect little truth-knowers without any need for input and correction from the environment.

    In other words, given materialism and evolution, it follows that there can be no sensus divinitatis.

    Plantinga is making what I believe is called an “own goal.”

  25. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @Pierce R. Butler:

    You are confusing the Russell Teapot – which orbits the sun – with the Russell Teakettle, which spins through the outer layers of the sun, its copper bottom generating the magnetic anomalies that lead to loop-flares.

    Please do not confuse Teapot and Teakettle. It leads to incomprehensible theology, and we can’t have that.

  26. says

    I’ve read a fair amount of Platinga; and, to put it mildly, I don’t agree with him. He is not a dogmatic or unpleasant individual, however. He’s actually a rather genial guy. I wonder what it says about you that responding to him takes the form of a group hate session. Is it so infuriating that somebody on the face of the Earth disagrees with you?

  27. says

    I wonder what it says about you that responding to him takes the form of a group hate session. Is it so infuriating that somebody on the face of the Earth disagrees with you?

    I think you are ascribing hate and anger to comments where none exists. I do not see much evidence for either of these. Mocking his silly argument, perhaps, but I think it would be foolish to compare that to hatred.

  28. Dhorvath, OM says

    It’s infuriating that his genial manner matters enough to mention when discussing our disagreement with his ideas.

  29. raven says

    Is it so infuriating that somebody on the face of the Earth disagrees with you?

    NO!!!

    It is dismaying that someone so clueless is taken seriously.

    Plantinga is just consistently wrong about everything and it is so easy to see it.

    He’s actually a rather genial guy. I wonder what it says about you that responding to him takes the form of a group hate session.

    Whether he is a genial guy or a sadistic killer says absolutely nothing about the validity of his truth claims. What your pointless comments say about you however is obvious. You are a troll, trolling.

    PS We don’t hate Plantinga. We are laughing at him. Your belief generator is malfunctioning and needs to go in for repairs.

  30. raven says

    Is it so infuriating that somebody on the face of the Earth disagrees with you?

    Not at all. If the fundie death cult xians would just stay under their rocks and leave us and our society alone, no one would care!!! It’s a free country. We aren’t opposing those who believe Mount Shasta is occupied by UFO aliens, the Amish, or people receiving messages from other dimensions via their microwave ovens.

    This is just the old, What is the harm of fundie death cult xianity? Of which, Plantinga is a prominent defender, a Xian Reformed.

    Well the harm is vast and ongoing. Racism, misogyny, creationism, anti-education, xian terrorism, right wing extremist politics, science and reality denial, global warming denial, social problems, child abuse, and on and on. It’s why Freethoughblogs exists. It’s why US xianity is dying.

  31. alexmcdonald says

    #32 jimharrison

    Is it so infuriating that somebody on the face of the Earth disagrees with you? He’s actually a rather genial guy. I wonder what it says about you that responding to him takes the form of a group hate session.

    I don’t really care whether he’s avuncular/in therapy/on the bobsleigh team at the Olympics. The bits marked AP — wot he wrote — is drivel. I can’t disagree with drivel (where do you start?) or hate the driveller (and hate is far too strong a word).

    Seriously, you want us to take him seriously because he’s genial???

  32. says

    Oh, and also:

    Calmer than you, dude.

    I am not sure why people often think that there is so much anger and frothing in cases like this. Sometimes I am tempted to think they are reading their own reactions into others, thinking that everyone reacts as they do, but I suppose it might just be a convenient way to try to stifle those that do not believe arguments have to be all about who is genial and nice, but instead are about the arguments presented.

  33. Reginald Selkirk says

    jimharrison #32: He’s actually a rather genial guy. I wonder what it says about you that responding to him takes the form of a group hate session.

    I have never met Plantinga the person. You should note that not one of my comments refers to his manner, or his mother. My only exposure is to his ideas. His ideas suck badly. It’s not just that they’re wrong, it’s that they are so far wrong that I must put in question either Plantinga’s competency, or the standards of his field. How you come to characterize this as a “group hate session” is very curious. Now, when you are through with your oh-so-carefully-disguised holier-than-thou ad hominem attack, we can get back to discussing Plantinga’s latest revelation of really really bad ideas.

  34. opposablethumbs says

    Funny, I don’t see anybody angry – a little tired, perhaps, of seeing the same old drivel being trotted out yet again, as if it were something new that hadn’t already been refuted innumerable times over many, many years – but I do see a lot of people laughing at Plantigna for proudly demonstrating that he must either be inept or intellectually dishonest (or, of course, I suppose he could always be both). jimharrison, what does it say about you that you somehow manage to read this thread as being a “hate session”???

  35. Brother Yam says

    Plantinga is wrong. The Teapot is there because we know it is there; we are born with a sensus teapoticus.

    There, I run rings around you logically.

  36. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @raven:

    Mount Shasta is occupied by UFO aliens, the Amish, or people receiving messages from other dimensions via their microwave ovens.

    Actually, Mount Shasta is occupied by Amish of Alien descent who fled Pennsylvania and Ohio after receiving messages from other persons’ microwave ovens, said messaging convincing them that they hadn’t sufficiently shunned electrical technology.

    @jimharrison, #32
    If you can’t tell the difference between an idea and a person, you won’t be commenting very productively around here.

  37. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Jim Harrison: “He’s actually a rather genial guy.”

    I understand he’s also written lucidly about the Congo. What does that have to do with the quality of his excrement wall paintings?

  38. says

    a_ray_in_dilbert_space,

    I understand he’s also written lucidly about the Congo. What does that have to do with the quality of his excrement wall paintings?

    I would be interested in seeing that, not only as my only experiences with Plantinga have been things like this, but because I am quite interested in the Congo.

  39. Sastra says

    jimharrison #32 wrote:

    He’s actually a rather genial guy. I wonder what it says about you that responding to him takes the form of a group hate session. Is it so infuriating that somebody on the face of the Earth disagrees with you?

    You need to put Plantinga’s theology into context. It’s not just that his arguments are bad. It’s not just that he’s claiming that the atheists are wrong. He is using a mainstream forum with an intellectual reputation to explain why we atheists are profoundly irrational and therefore rejecting God. And he is doing this from a position of power in a culture in which the majority despises the minority of atheists and believes that we’re worthy of damnation — asking for it — from a Loving God which is the source of all wisdom. We’re not just mistaken: we’re morally bankrupt, closed-minded, and foolish.

    This is very dangerous territory. It’s not just an academic debate. The stakes are higher than usual, aren’t they?

    They will smile sweetly and say it’s a shame if you’re damned. And they can be damned nice and mean it.

  40. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Travis,
    Alas and alack. The bit about the Congo is a vague reference to a long past Pharyngula thread. A certain poster assumed the role of tone troll and suffered the fate of all such on Pharyngula, during which SC said, “…although he has written lucidly on the Congo”–it sort of became a meme for damning by faint praise.

  41. says

    So why isn’t this true for theists?

    Because they can appeal to a magical deity who makes their beliefs true. Really. That’s the argument.

  42. David Marjanović says

    He’s a master of motivated reasoning and is totally unconscious of his own blind spots.

    If that isn’t stupid, I don’t know what is.

    So if you accept both materialism and evolution, you have good reason to believe that your belief-producing faculties are not reliable.

    Two words: evolutionary epistemology.

    I keep being astounded that Plantinga hasn’t heard of that. How is this possible for a philosopher?

    Actually, Mount Shasta is occupied by Amish of Alien descent who fled Pennsylvania and Ohio after receiving messages from other persons’ microwave ovens, said messaging convincing them that they hadn’t sufficiently shunned electrical technology.

    Also, Shastasaurus is awesome.

    I would be interested in seeing that, not only as my only experiences with Plantinga have been things like this, but because I am quite interested in the Congo.

    This is a running gag about Greg Laden, who has done bizarre things like publishing e-mails of commenters on his blog and making a convoluted, extremely poorly explained thought experiment where the readers were asked to imagine that a named commenter was anti-Semitic (she’s not by any stretch of the imagination), but “has written lucidly about the Congo”.

    (Turns out he was edited lucidly about the Congo.)

  43. says

    Ahh, I thought at first it might have referred to the incidents dealing with Laden, as I have been around since long before that but I have somehow never come across this used as a joke. It all makes sense now and I definitely see the applicability. I am going to blame this on my lack of coffee today.

  44. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    I drink tea. Then I can blame my obvious failures on lack of coffee at any given moment.

  45. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    @David M:

    Shastasaurus is indeed an awesome set of creatures, though how they really stack up to shonisaurids I don’t know. I look forward to more samples as more and more people find out about the AlienAmishAnti-Microwave occupiers (they are the 0.0001%), causing the release of more land-capable ichthyosaurs to hunt down those crazy kids.

  46. Akira MacKenzie says

    Is it so infuriating that somebody on the face of the Earth disagrees with you?

    As long as the opinions we’re disagreeing with are fucking up the world, I would say that we have a moral obligation to be infuriated.

  47. zenlike says

    Shorter jimharrison: criticizing someone’s ideas is “holding a group hate session”. Waaaaaaah!

    (BTW, have we really arrived at the point where philosophers can spout any old nonsense and nobody can criticise them? If that’s the case, maybe philosophy is a dead discipline.)

  48. raven says

    wikipedia:

    Lemuria[edit]

    Mount Shasta has also been a focus for non-native American legends, centered on a hidden city of advanced beings from the lost continent of Lemuria.[2] The legend grew from an offhand mention of Lemuria in the 1880s. In 1899, Frederick Spencer Oliver published A Dweller on Two Planets, which claimed that survivors from a sunken continent called Lemuria were living in or on Mount Shasta.[3] Oliver’s Lemurians lived in a complex of tunnels beneath the mountain and occasionally were seen walking the surface dressed in white robes. In 1931, Wisar Spenle Cerve wrote a book, published by the Rosicrucians, about the hidden Lemurians of Mount Shasta that cemented the legend in many readers’ minds.[2]

    This belief has been incorporated into numerous occult religions, including “I AM” Activity, The Summit Lighthouse, Church Universal and Triumphant, and Kryon.[4]

    While we are explaining obscure references, there are several groups who really do believe Mount Shasta has people living inside it. These beings are refugees from Lemuria.

  49. stevem says

    Re Plantinga:

    <late to the party> As others have said; Plantinga completely missed the point of the Russel’s Teapot. [Plantiga, look over your head, the point is sailing way over your head]. Does Plantinga even acknowledge the existence of “allegory/metaphors”? Or does he label it to be a malfunction of our imperfect, biolo-chemical brain?
    If he does, then, ‘atheism is right, we *are* just random products of random processes. If he doesn’t, then, “Why did your god-given perfect brain miss the point so completely. Ask Gawd for His excuses.” (/snark).
    Seriously, He has missed the point of “Teapot” and then extrapolated it beyond all reason. <PlantingaFail>

  50. anteprepro says

    Plantinga’s evidence against teapotism is that there is no evidence supporting it and very little conceivable way that it could come to be? Well fucking fancy that. It is almost like lack of evidence for teapotism is sufficient “warrant” for a-teapotism!

    Rejecting Russel’s Teapot in such a way that is perfectly parallel with the arguments atheists have been making constantly regarding “burden of proof”, while conveniently ignoring that fact in favor of pretending you just scored a point for theism? Oh Sophisticated Theology….you are too tricksy for me!

  51. mbrysonb says

    For still more shits & giggles you can have a look at Plantinga’s famous and truly terrible argument against naturalism, which he has (to the shame of my profession) marketed at ‘respectable’ conferences around the world. It’s as bad as this tea pot nonsense, but (of course) far more elaborate: evolution, he claims, could never be expected to make us reliable knowers of our world, because we could do just as well with systematically false beliefs and bizarre desires that lead us (despite our best intentions) to prosper. (Of course any such system of false beliefs and bizarre desires could also be interpreted as a system of true beliefs and sensible desires- but Plantinga never seems to consider the obvious retort: belief and desire contents are not determined independently of the circumstances that the beliefs and desires are causally connected to. The notion that mental states have intrinsic content fixed independently of the role they play in our behaviour and interactions with each other is widespread, I admit, but it’s very silly.

  52. woozy says

    I wonder if Plantinga is simply talking down to Gutting and his readers (which would make him a patronizing asshole if he is).
    His argument of odd-star-ism is obviously wrong that I’m astounded he himself didn’t see the flaw (atheists believe there are are an odd number of stars because there is no evidence that there are an even number of stars… which means theists believe there are an even number of stars based on no evidence??? Surely *that’s* not justifiable either) but it hints at a coherent viewpoint of specific evidence supported belief systems vs. non-specific evidence and lack thereof. But only *hints* at; doesn’t support with any argument that basic logic can’t rip apart.
    Then his counter of Russel’s teapot… He’s actually correct in objection to the teapot on material grounds as lack of evidence for is evidence against. But I can’t believe he doesn’t get that the whole point of the argument is that the same reasoning should apply to a deity. Except maybe he does. The reason Russel’s teapot seems so absurd but a deity doesn’t is because a teapot is so much more material whereas a deity is supernatural. Russel’s teapot isn’t actually an argument against God so much as a demonstration as to where the burden of proof lies and the fallacy of viewing theism as a default and atheism as the variant. If you believe, as Plantinga apparently does, that belief doesn’t require evidence then Russell’s teapot is absurd to believe without evidence because a teapot is material but believing in a deity without evidence is less absurd because deity is supernatural.
    I find this idea that believing in something without evidence remarkable. (I’m not sure how or whether he differentiates between evidence and reasons; Human beings believe all sorts of things without evidence but they always have a reason.) If he actually believes this I wish he’d give his …. reasons. But I suspect he is talking down to his audience. I can accept belief without evidence but I can not accept holding any such belief to scrutiny or placing any firm value on it. I believe Vitamin D is good for my moods. I believe this because my doctor told me this and as I was having bad moods and taking vitamins seemed like an easy thing to do so I decided to choose to believe it. As I believe it with utterly no evidence, it ranks as one of my very least cherished beliefs and one which I can not defend or argue for. I wouldn’t bet a bagel, much less my soul, on this belief.

    In any event, I don’t think I like this Plantiga guy, but I’d like to know if he is the idiot he appears or a condescending obfiscator.

  53. anteprepro says

    In any event, I don’t think I like this Plantiga guy, but I’d like to know if he is the idiot he appears or a condescending obfiscator.

    Betting on the latter, woozy. He has been in this game for far too long, playing far too shrewdly, and dodging around far too many poignant criticisms of his ideas to really be as stupid as many are taking him to be. It’s the beauty of the Sophisticated Theologians: having the intelligence to hide your stupidities, and to defend lack of substance with style.

  54. Anri says

    jimharrison @ 32:

    I’ve read a fair amount of Platinga; and, to put it mildly, I don’t agree with him. He is not a dogmatic or unpleasant individual, however. He’s actually a rather genial guy. I wonder what it says about you that responding to him takes the form of a group hate session.

    You are confusing hate and anger with the exhausted frustration of watching someone who is clearly not truly stupid act stupid and try to make other people around him stupid. Doing that isn’t actually a nice thing to do. It’s dishonest and repulsive. But I guess it’s a living.

    Is it so infuriating that somebody on the face of the Earth disagrees with you?

    A nice thing about being right on a given subject: it make people who disagree with you wrong.

  55. David Marjanović says

    like publishing e-mails of commenters on his blog

    …by which I meant publishing e-mail addresses of commenters on his blog. *facepalm*

  56. says

    Plantinga doesn’t even get the orbital characteristics of the teapot right. Russell said in orbit between Earth and Mars; Plantinga just says in orbit around the Sun. Hell, every teapot we know of is in orbit around the Sun.

  57. Athywren says

    Is it so infuriating that somebody on the face of the Earth disagrees with you?

    I adore it when somebody disagrees with me. It’s an opportunity for discussion, which is an opportunity to learn. I used to leap into discussions on youtube all the time, because no matter how small the topic, I’d learn something from it, and that helped to expand my horizons and refine my opinions. I very rarely do so now, and when I do, I’m usually quite short and blunt in my commentary. Why? Because while I’ve been learning, they’ve been remaining stagnant. I can map out the discussion quite easily.
    What if I’m wrong? If there’s no god and I’m right, I win nothing when I do. If there is a god and I’m wrong, I lose everything.
    Look at the eye! Darwin himself, if we cut him off mid-sentence, said that it was inconceivable that the eye could evolve!
    I’m just angry with god and I want to sin.
    The very fact that I’m using logic to make my points proves that god exists – how does logic exist without a mind to keep the laws of logic working?

    It’s just so tedious.
    We are wandering a desert of empty arguments and broken ideas, crying out for a drop of water, and you think it’s a hate fest? Give us something new! Something interesting! Something that might open up new avenues of thought that we’d never considered before! Something, anything, to slake our thirst.

    Disagreement is beautiful, it’s when the disagreement is so utterly devoid of intellectual sustenance that it gets infuriating.

  58. David Marjanović says

    We are wandering a desert of empty arguments and broken ideas, crying out for a drop of water, and you think it’s a hate fest? Give us something new! Something interesting! Something that might open up new avenues of thought that we’d never considered before! Something, anything, to slake our thirst.

    *steal*

  59. Azuma Hazuki says

    Plantinga is…odd. Unique among every single apologist I’ve ever read, he’s the only one who doesn’t leave me with “Danger, Will Robinson! Psychopath off the starboard bow!” vibes (so essentially he’s the anti-Bahnsen…).

    But his arguments are so hideously bad that they underflowed the sense-make counter and wrapped around to the point that I didn’t trust my own refutations of them for the longest time because “Wait, no, it can’t be that easy…what did I miss?!”

    The evolutionary argument against naturalism shows that he understands neither, and also is even worse than me at math (and I failed Calc II three times in a row…). I seriously spent half an hour just reading it over and over to make sure there wasn’t some subtle point that had gone over my head, but no, the man is serious.

    His Free Will Defense not only fails but takes the entire basis of orthodox Christianity with it; he says outright that God cannot, under any circumstances, create a world where free will obtains and sin does not. Leaving aside the two gigantic assumptions he sneaks in there (that we in fact are “significantly free,” and that his God is beholden to logic, which comes with its own set of probems…), he also states outright that free will is the most important thing to Yahweh, which flies in the face of what Yahweh did to the Pharaoh…

    But he runs into a wall here: by his logic, one must ask if free will exists in heaven. If it does not, God apparently does not value it in all possible worlds, and Plantinga is also at a loss to explain how, let alone why, Satan not only rebelled but took a full 1/3 of the heavenly host with him. If it does, one must assume at least the logical possibility of sin also exists there, meaning that over infinite time, everyone will be thrown out of heaven since by the law of large numbers, everyone will at some point piss God off (again).

    But if free will does obtain in heaven and sin does not, Plantinga’s argument crumbles, as he said that precisely this state of affairs is what God cannot create! Furthermore, God is then on the hook for any evil that does exist, since he is maximally free, omniscient, and omnipotent, and consciously decided to create a state of affairs worse than the one he already did (heaven).

    I came to that independently, before reading essentially the exact same thing but better-worded on infidels.org. Alvin has a problem.