Challenge to the New Atheists


Re: What Do New Atheists Actually Believe?

Well, here’s my answers anyway:

1) Why is there anything? & 2) What caused the Universe?

Our normal everyday notions of cause an effect are based on our experiences of things and events in the universe. The universe itself is not a thingin the sense of things that we are accustomed to dealing with. It’s perfectly obvious that existence cannot have a cause in the conventional (efficient) sense, as a cause must precede its effect.

3) Why is there regularity (Law) in nature?

Because nature is made up of a large number of simple and perfectly identical things – subatomic particles.

4) Of the Four Causes in nature proposed by Aristotle (material, formal, efficient, and final), which of them are real? Do final causes exist?

Causes, in this sense, are possible answers to the question “why?”. Whenever a person asks that question, they are asking to be told a story, a narrative explaining something. Thus, causes are about our perception, they are about how we make sense of the world.

So “real” becomes a little problematic. Certainly, final causes exist when people do stuff.

5) Why do we have subjective experience, and not merely objective existence?

Not sure. When you bend a plank of wood, the fibres within it undergo strain. Is it reasonable to talk of the wood’s “experience” of that strain?

6) Why is the human mind intentional, in the technical philosophical sense of aboutness, which is the referral to something besides itself? How can mental states be about something?

I don’t see the difficulty. Why shouldn’t they be?

7) Does Moral Law exist in itself, or is it an artifact of nature (natural selection, etc.)

It’s an artifact of nature. In particular – of human nature. We are social mammals. We see moral law in dogs, chimpanzees, all sorts of things. Moral law is that set of instincts and drives that have resulted in societies.

8) Why is there evil?

We use “evil” to describe two kinds of things: things that arouse our fear and things that arouse our disgust. We are capable of fear because we are frail and mortal.

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