Bill Vallicella on the New Atheists:
Theist-atheist dialog is made difficult by a certain asymmetry: whereas a sophisticated living faith involves a certain amount of purifying doubt, together with a groping beyond images and pat conceptualizations toward a transcendent reality, one misses any corresponding doubt or tentativeness on the part of sophisticated atheists. Dawkins and Co. seem so cocksure of their position. For them, theism is not a live option or existential possibility. This is obvious from their mocking comparisons of God to a celestial teapot, flying spaghetti monster, and the like.
For sophisticated theists, however, atheism is a live option. The existence of this asymmetry makes one wonder whether any productive dialog with atheists is possible.
[From Maverick Philosopher: “Some of Us Just Go One God Further”]
His topic is what I have called the Arithmetical Atheism Argument, or the Magic of Misdirection. It’s the atheist’s canard, “everyone’s an atheist, we’re just atheistic about one more God than you.” This amounts to misdirection, in that its apparent reasonability is nothing but illusion. It would be a great argument if it had anything to do with the real question. Its success, however, such as it is, depends on directing one’s attention away from all relevant considerations: for example, “What kind of universe do we live in?” It is the very finality with which such hopelessly flawed arguments are brought forth that produces the asymmetry of which Vallicella speaks.
I expect some atheists to object to his thought that “a sophisticated living faith involves a certain amount of purifying doubt.” It’s not the easiest thing to explain in this format, but he’s right: there is for me a sense of groping toward reality, especially in prayer. Like the Psalms, my prayers are full of questions on the order of, “God, if you’re there, then why … ?” That question ends differently almost every day, for there is so much I don’t understand. I can lean on what I do understand, thankfully, which is enough for now.
While I’m sharing links, I’ll mention a couple more. A new semester is starting soon. Going to college was one of the best things that could have happened to me. For some students it’s one of the worst. Being involved in study and fellowship with other students can make all the difference; it did for me! The Christian Colleges and Universities page has listed their “Top 10 Christian Study Groups,” a guide to getting connected with Christians on campus. A couple of their suggestions are more for high school students, which is fine. I would add InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and Navigators to their list.
And one more for you who are social networkers. Other than blogging, I’m pretty far behind the times with that. I have a Facebook page, and I spend probably as much as five minutes a week on it. But that’s my flaw, not yours, if it is a flaw. You might enjoy connecting with others at Christian.com.