One of the top posts on Wordpress the last few days was this one:
Don't ask me to read your holy book
Having just gone through a light discussion with a couple of atheists, I came across the little gem above, which seems to typify the current mode of thinking among non-believers. The premise seems to be that reading a "holy book" is nothing but circular reasoning, since the "holy book" is the thing that validates itself.
Since the issue seems to be circular reasoning, we read on.
Let me quote from our non-believer:
"Let me reiterate what I consider myself to be. I am a skeptic. I am a naturalist (i.e,. I look for natural, as opposed to supernatural causes). I’m not a scientist in the sense that I work with science, but I’m a fan of the scientific method."
"Naturally, I can’t find out if the premise is true by assuming the premise. That would be circular reasoning. "
"This is some elementary advice to theists who wish to justify their faiths to nonbelievers or believers of other faiths: never rely on your conclusion to prove your conclusion."
Talk about being hypocritical. Why is it that people like this want to apply one set of standards to the theist, and another to themselves? It must be ignorance, arrogance or just plain foolishness. Does this writer not see how he shoots himself in both feet right before he puts them in his mouth? He himself is guilty of vicious circulus in probando.
His conclusion of inherent circularity in holy books apply equally as well to his position. "I am a naturalist because I look for natural causes." His conclusion of naturalism is therefore found in his premise, he is a naturalist because he believes only natural causes can exist. It is question begging in his own favor of the highest order. We see no reasoned argument for why naturalism is deemed to be true, but even if we do, we may dismiss it with equal disdain by saying that he should not ask us to read his argument, it assumes naturalism in the premises.
Of course, he will make no mention of the things he holds to by faith (uniformity of nature, omnipotent chance and reliability of the senses), nor will he show the natural causes of the scientific method. Not only is he circular, but the axioms within his circle are firmly suspended in mid-air. For an argument to be valid, the premise have to be undeniable. Clearly, the naturalist premises are not.
The key is how the different schools of thought withstand internal critique. Naturalism struggles with internal critique, because it is inductive by nature. Any of its conclusions can be viewed with skepticism, because we can never examine all the evidence in all relationships in all senses. It further refuses to admit to its own metaphysical components. For example, how can the naturalist prove the laws of logic by use of the scientific method, without being viciously circular? It is a metaphysical assumption held to by a groundless faith.
Christianity may be or not be circular, but it withstands an internal critique much better than naturalism. Furthermore, our friend may be surprised to know that not all circular reasoning is fallacious. Also, there are many proofs for theism and Christianity that are not viciously circular.
This is just a further example of how much the writings of Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and the other pop-lit atheists have set back reasoned thinking and debate. Arrogance and intellectual dishonesty are not arguments, they are sad demonstrations of a bankrupt philosophy hiding behind bravado.