Saturday, September 17, 2011

Views of logic: theism vs atheism

I saw this post on the PleaseConvinceMe Blog and just had to comment on it.  The post is exploring the idea that theists don't respect the laws of logic or the laws of physics, while atheists do.  The person who wrote the original argument about this said that in debating with theists, any time an atheist would almost pin down the theist in a logically (or scientifically) indefensible position, the theist's reliance on miracles could get them a free out, as it were.  Thus, there's really no point in discussing these matters with theists because you can't even reason with them.

This may come as a surprise, but I actually like this argument, not because I think it's convincing, but because it provides a lot of interesting things for me to think about.  Here is a re-posting of the argument:
You see, in the [Roadrunner] cartoon, the central gag is that the laws of physics apply to the coyote, but not to the Roadrunner. The Roadrunner can step off a cliff, stand in midair, taunt the coyote, and then race across to the other side. If the coyote tries it, the laws of physics kick in and he's met with a long whistling fall and a dramatic splat at the bottom of the canyon.

So it is with theists and atheists. Theists live in their imaginations and have no respect of logic or the laws of the physical laws of the universe. The laws of physics are more like conveniences to them. When it servers their purpose they will quote them, but the minute they contradict what they believe, they happily toss logic and reason out the window. If the atheist raises a logical contradiction, or points out an impossibility according to the laws of physics, the theists shrugs their shoulders and says, "it's a miracle, God can do anything". They are not bound by the laws of physics within their own minds and imaginations and they've taken that to believe that neither is the rest of the universe.

There's no arguing with that. You can't have a logical debate with someone who has no respect for logic. Just when you think you have them pinned down and there's no logical way out of it, much like the Roadrunner, they toss logic and the laws of physics to the wind and ignore everything you said.

You can't have a debate if both sides can't agree to the ground rules. Theists imagine anything is possible simply because they have an imagination that can dream up anything they want. Atheists realize that isn't the case. But in most cases atheists haven't realized this fundamental flaw. They keep thinking that if they only try hard enough, if they only go back to the drawing board one more time, that they can design the perfect logical argument which the Roadrunner... I mean, theists... cannot escape.
I have a lot of answers to this, which I will post later.