Saturday, October 20, 2007

Lame Apologetics

In general I find Christian apologetics rather dull, but I found this piece rather amusing.  It's called What Atheists Kant Refute by Dinesh D'Souza.
He starts out in the usual fashion, by fabricating a belief out of nowhere and pretending it's what atheists believe and base their arguments on.  In this case, it's the Fallacy of the Enlightenment, the belief that human reason and science can, in principle, eventually understand all of reality.  This was a popular Enlightenment belief but much less popular now.  In the first place, it may not necessarily be a fallacy, and in the second place, I've never met an atheist who believes it nor bases arguments on it.
Next, he brings up Critique of Pure Reason by Kant.  He appears to be blissfully unaware that this monumental tome was the beginning, not the end, of a 150-year-long massive revolution in our understanding of logic.
Then he claims that Kant proved that our knowledge is limited by our limited sensory apparatus, utterly unaware that technological gadgets, even in Kant's day, were already available to detect and measure things far beyond the scope of human senses.  I'm sure Kant was aware of these scientific instruments, but D'Souza appears not to be.
Then he observes (correctly, for a change) that atheists routinely dismiss religious claims for lack of evidence.  Of course they do!  Lack of evidence is grounds for eagerly seeking further knowledge, not for believing silly doctrines dreamed up out of thin air!
Somehow he has concluded that Kant's philosophy "opens the door to faith," which admittedly, Kant himself apparently claimed.  I'll admit I can't figure out how Kant justifies this conclusion.  It sounds like a suspiciously close relative to Pascal's Wager, which is not taken seriously by very many people any more.
D'Souza then dismisses what he calls the "ignorant boast" that atheism operates on a higher intellectual plane than theism.  Since theism, as far as I can tell, operates on the intellectual plane of children in their playpen arguing over whether their imaginary fairies are wearing pink dresses or blue dresses, I don't see why it's an ignorant boast to recognize your own intellectual superiority.
At last, in his final sentence, D'Souza strongly implies, without quite actually saying, that theistic belief offers a mystic pipeline to a form of knowledge beyond the scope of science.  I don't think so.  If something can't be known by methods accepted by science, it can't be known by mere humans.  Science uses observation and logic, the primary components of rational thought.  Theism uses doctrine and faith, the primary components of hogwash.
And now I'd better punch the Publish Post button so I can sit back and finish laughing at Dinesh D'Souza's jibberish.


Sheldon said...

It is an amazingly shallow argument he has there. So there may be limits to our knowledge through reason and observation. That may or may not be true, but it does not follow that theology can fill the gap. That simply employs a more basic fallacy. Non sequitor.

Spanish Inquisitor said...

Now that was jolly good fun, too!

Did you see this, in a related post?

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

Just watched Hitchens versus McGrath, a similarly lame apologist.

Hitchens was coherent and strightforward in his argument. McGrath seemed to waffle on and end it all saying it was a matter of faith.