Debate: Stringer-Hawkins (the Irrational Precept that theism is delusional)
Attention: All responses to my Case, unless they are from Mr. Rook Hawkins himself, will be ignored. This is a debate between me and Rook. If anyone else wants to debate with me on this subject, or any, they can send me a message either via MySpace here: http://www.myspace.com/biblethumper , or here at rationalresponders.com and we can arrange for a separate debate. Otherwise, you are merely a spectator here and your words will be regarded accordingly.
I have been challenged to a debate by your very own Rook Hawkins, but I'll start with a Side Note:
Rook, let's try and keep this debate civil and fair if you don't mind. If you do mind, it will not end well for you, and that's not a threat. I am not here to bash you or anyone personally; that's not how I debate, but I found your conduct the other night to be irrational and pretty outrageous considering the claims that you and your friends make about religion. I have yet to lie to you or anyone about what I said about you; and if you don't remember (you obviously don't), Marsage has already confronted you about certain laws in our country concerning libel in a chat room and closed that issue over a year ago. You even apologized to me for threatening me with a lawsuit. Also, I didn't even say that I beat you or "pwned" you, as someone else put it, in any debate. This is the same accusation you made against me a year ago, and it was a lie then as well. Either your friends lied to you about what I said, which was, word by word "I've debated Rook before," which is true and you know it, or you lied to me when you said that they told you something different.
You and I haven't spoken to each other in a year and you know it. If we have I'd like to see a transcript of our discussion and the date along with it. As for the thread I supposedly ignored you in, I'd like to see that as well, since I have no idea what you are talking about.
If you don't want people talking about you at all, which is what you said Christmas night in the stickam chat, then you should consider practicing what you preach and stop broadcasting your vicious views about me all over the internet. It seems you, Brian and Kelly all enjoy talking about me a lot more than I was aware of. There is nothing I have said behind your back that I wouldn't say to your face, since I wasn't lying, and I'm not afraid of you despite your ruthless attacks on me personally. I will not be bullied this time, Rook.
I always knew I would not do well attempting to debate you (or anyone in RRS really) in a chat room over it, (especially when I have three people cussing at me simultaneously with a three minute lag), and I have never claimed otherwise, but this is a forum. I can get my case out without you interrupting me every single second. And the topic at hand is concerning delusions and mental instability. Try to keep calm, Rook, whereas acting as you did the other night will only help me prove my case: if anyone is delusional, it's the atheist.
Telling me that I'm delusional and retarded won't get you anywhere unless you can prove it. You are very good at vigorously and ruthlessly jabbing at people with hateful and cruel words, but they mean nothing to me unless you can show how they are true, which is exactly what you'll have to prove to win this particular debate if you look at the resolution. Otherwise, you're just emotional, immature, and most importantly, irrational to the core.
Here is my First Affirmative.
Resolved: Theists are not delusional for believing in God
"Delusions" are something atheists accredit theists with almost every time I hear them speak on the subject of whether or not God exists. In fact it seems to be one of the main arguments made against theists today; Rook's favorite word when I used to chat with him was actually "delusional," along with "don't project, Sarah, you're projecting," but I find this belief about theism to be very irrational. Being "rational responders", you will realize that the resolution is accurate. As a side note, I would also like to make the case against those who would see theists, mainly concerned with Christianity, as mentally unstable somehow and therefore their belief that there is a God is a psychological one with irrational reasons and premises, ultimately leading to delusion. I think this issue goes hand in hand with the resolution, and so both will be addressed in my case.
The definition of the word "delusional" that I will be referring to in this debate is from the American Heritage Dictionary at dictionary.com: A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence, especially as a symptom of mental illness.
I will make my case based on this definition until a better definition of "delusional" is presented along with any other definitions I use.
Some other words that will need defining in order to accurately present my case are as follows:
Illness: a. Poor health resulting from disease of body or mind; sickness. b. a disease. (American Heritage Dictionary, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Illness)
God: A being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, the principal object of faith and worship in monotheistic religions. (American Heritage Dictionary, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/God)
My case will consist of three Contentions, each containing their own sub points and conclusions.
Contention 1: Invalidating evidence has not been presented to the Theist
In order to call someone delusional, we must first show that their false beliefs have been held in spite of invalidating evidence according to the definition. The atheist has yet to present this invalidating evidence to the theist if it exists, and if it does, the atheist cannot rationally claim that all theists hold their belief in spite of the evidence without generalizing because to make such a claim would require the atheist to know every theist living in the world today personally, but no one does of course. If Rook can show how I specifically have held to my beliefs in spite of invalidating evidence though, we can logically conclude that I am delusional.
Before I move on to my next contention, I will go over some prevalent arguments used by atheists to show the theist's psychological delusions. I will give reasonable arguments to confirm that they are not invalidating evidences, nor do they stand to rational analysis. I'm sure that Mr. Hawkins has plenty of other arguments he will hopefully be presenting as invalidating evidence in his First Negative, and when he does I will address those arguments. Until now, I will just get a few of the ones I've been seeing a lot of lately out of the way.
Sub point A: Wishful Thinking Argument Doesn't Disprove God
The first argument a lot of atheists use as supposed evidence that theism is irrational or deluded is the concept of "wishful thinking," which Sigmund Freud, one of history's famous atheists, was known to assert very prominently in his writings. The concept of wishful thinking asserts "such a belief is untrustworthy because of its psychological origin. That is, God is a projection of our own intense, unconscious desires; He is a wish fulfillment derived from childish needs for protection and security," says Professor Paul Vitz of the New York University Psychology department (1).
In Freud's The Future of an Illusion (1927, 1961) he makes this statement:
[R]eligious ideas have arisen from the same needs as have all the other achievements of civilization: from the necessity of defending oneself against the crushing superior force of nature. (p. 21)
And thus, as Prof. Paul Vitz points out in his paper the Psychology of Atheism, Freud goes on to conclude that religious beliefs are:
illusions, fulfillments of the oldest, strongest
and most urgent wishes of mankind . . . As we
already know, the terrifying impression of
helplessness in childhood aroused the need for
protection-for protection through love-which
was provided by the father . . . Thus the benevolent rule of a divine Providence allays our fear of the danger of life. (p. 30)
If you analyze what Freud is saying here, he's making the claim that anything with a psychic origin is invalid. This would make physics, biology, and psychoanalysis itself invalid (ironically), since they all originate with some sort of psychological roots. Therefore the argument is mute and defeats itself. In psychoanalyzing the theist by claiming anything with a psychic origin is invalid, Freud cuts the very branch that he's sitting on and invalidates his own methods of examination.
Moving along, Freud is also saying that belief in God comes from the "fulfillments of the oldest, strongest and most urgent wishes of mankind……Thus the benevolent rule of a divine Providence allays our fear of the danger of life." The only religions this theory can apply to though, is either Christianity or Judaism when looking at Freud's description of God. Freud's assertion isn't accurate when it comes to a good majority of world religions including pagan religions which originated before Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism. Therefore it fails to show how God cannot exist using the argument of Wish Fulfillment.
Finishing up this sub point A, I will conclude that even if the concept itself works in specific situations and shows how people only believe in God because they have a psychological yearning for a father figure who protects them from the evil world around them, this does not disprove nor refute in any sense of the word the existence of God. This only proves that people want God to exist; it doesn't mean He doesn't exist. Example:
Let's say I am lying in bed one night in complete pain and agony. I long earnestly for morning to come. I fear the death that might come from my pain, I fear the darkness surrounding me, and I wish for someone to help me. This does not mean that dawn will not come or that I won't receive any help. In fact, I can rationally and logically believe that morning will come indefinitely because it comes every single day around the same time. It is a reliable and reasonable desire, so just because I want something to happen or to exist, that does not mean it doesn't exist or it won't happen.
Additionally, if you ask a theist why they believe in God, it's quite rare that you'll come across one that will actually say "because I want Him to." If one were to claim He exists only because they want Him to, then the belief would be fallacious. This is not so though.
Although many false beliefs and ideals can come from wishful thinking, Freud's argument that it is true concerning theism simply doesn't work.
Sub point B: "Who Created God" Argument Fails
The next argument atheists like to use when debating with theists is the argument of what I am calling "Who created God?" What generally happens in this particular instance is the theist will be giving evidence and substantial, logical and rational support for the existence of God, and the atheist will throw them off with, "Well…let's say God does exist…who created God?"
To make a potentially extensive answer to this argument short, in order to have a Universe at all, we must either have an infinite God or an infinite Universe. If God is the cause of our Universe, but is still subject to our laws, someone must have created God, right? Sure. Even so, it doesn't matter if another God created this God; God still exists, and that's the debate. Let's pretend God IS created by another God, you die and you're an atheist, and God is asking you why you refused to believe in Him. You tell him, "Well…I figured if everything has a cause then you must have a cause too. Who created you?" This won't get you out of judgment, and it doesn't disprove God's existence either, but rather, a possibly infinite number of gods.
Secondly, there is no reason why God would need a cause for His existence if He answers to the description the Holy Bible gives Him. If He is infinite and He created the laws, time, space and matter that we are subject to, then He is outside of those laws and it doesn't affect Him because they were His creation. It's as if someone were to say submerging an artist in a tank of water would destroy him because doing the same to his painting would. The artist is not made of paper, ink, or paint. Submerging yourself in water only gets you wet, unless you refuse to come back up for air of course. The painting and the painter are two different things; to compare the creator to its creation in this manner is silly.
Let's not forget that this argument, even if valid, doesn't disprove God's existence, but rather helps to show His existence even more by pointing out that everything needs a cause. The atheist simply fails to realize that the God of Christianity, if valid, isn't subject to the same laws that we are, and would be infinite; therefore He does not need a creator. But then the atheist will say "Well if your God can be infinite, why can't the Universe be infinite? Then there is no need for God." That is true, but science and logic will tell you that with entropy and the aging of the Earth, this is impossible.
Not only that, but it would make our experiences and knowledge with other laws and patterns in the Universe confused and discombobulated to say the least. If the Universe doesn't need a cause since it's always been here, how can we trust this law that says this or that law that says that, which all implies that nothing material can actually be infinite? And if we can't really trust any of the implications that the Universe's laws provides us, how can we trust science at all? This is of course only if the Universe is infinite. I believe it is not, but rather a perfect God created the Universe with laws of nature that are consistent in order that we might develop science which we can trust. If Evolution is our origin though; if our existence happened by chance and chaos, there is no reason for me to believe this law of science is reliable for any amount of time because anything could change at any moment by the same chance that caused us to exist in the first place.
Put simply, the atheist is stuck. They must either expect us to believe it all happened SOMEHOW, without God, by faith…in nothing, OR they expect us to believe that the Universe is infinite, which doesn't make any sense based on the most recent, scientific affirmations.
Claiming God must have a creator is not only against His character, but it fails to disprove His existence as well.
Sub point C: The Problem of Pain Doesn't Disprove God
This argument generally goes, "if there is an all loving, perfect, all powerful God that created all of this, why is there so much pain and suffering in the world? If God really loves us, He wouldn't allow us to suffer, right?" Well to begin, I will quote C.S. Lewis as he wisely states:
"Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free-wills involve, and you will find that you have excluded life itself."
Without the inevitable consequences that come from our poor choices and decisions, all rational thought, accountability and responsibility ceases to exist. An irrational world that mustn't reap what it sows would contradict God's character of being perfectly just and omniscient. Not only that, but to eliminate pain and suffering would keep us from our free will. To eliminate pain is to eliminate the consequences of actions, and actions come from choices. If we have no choice, we are robots who cannot experience what it means to truly love or care for another person, nor to hate another person. Or, as Dr. William Lane Craig puts it in his debate against Corey Washington:
"First of all, if God is all-good, is it necessarily true that He would want to create a world with no suffering? I don't think this is necessarily true. It could be that if God were to create a world of free creatures in which He intervened every time to rescue us from harm, this would be a world in which rational behavior was completely impossible. It would lead to total irresponsibility, total irrationality in our actions. It would mean that you could drive as fast as you wanted on the highway, you could drink or eat any substance you wanted to, you could do anything to another person, you could act anyway you want, and nothing harmful would ever ensue as a consequence. I think that when you think about this, clearly it would make rational behavior completely impossible. So if God creates a world that operates according to certain natural laws, then the fire that warms us will also be the fire that burns us, and it may well be the case that an all-good God would want to create a world governed by natural law, which includes the possibility of harm.
Of course it's also possible, as the Christian believes, that there's an afterlife, in which God will compensate us for the harms that we have borne if we have borne these in courage, faith, and trust in Him. Every immoral act will be punished. So, if you put that into the equation, I think it makes it clear that it is not necessarily true that an all-good God would have to create a world in which there is no harm.
Secondly, if God is all-powerful, can He in fact create a world of free creatures in which no harm occurs? I think this is clearly not necessarily true. Given human freedom, God cannot guarantee how people are going to use that freedom. And if He intervenes every time to prevent people from choosing evil, then we turn into puppets or marionettes. So if God is going to create a world of significantly free moral agents, He has to allow them to make choices for evil, and therefore it may not be within God's power to create a world of free creatures in which evil does not exist. Therefore, I don't think Dr. Washington has been able to prove either of these premises to be necessarily true. And therefore he hasn't been able to prove that harm and God are logically incompatible." (2)
So Dr. Craig basically obliterates any hope of using this argument as evidence against the existence of God and there are very few philosophers today that will agree with Dr. Washington in saying the existence of pain is incompatible with a good, loving, and just God. In fact, as Craig actually points out after he demolishes Washington's argument from harm, it is widely affirmed by philosophers that this argument from harm or pain and suffering simply doesn't work, and Craig goes on to quote a few different philosophers which affirm it.
The argument that the problem of pain devastates any belief in God was actually one of the main reasons C.S. Lewis decided that there must be a God. The argument uses the premise that it's evil to do this but it's okay to do that. Lewis describes his old atheistic beliefs and explains how he came to theism and ultimately Christianity in What Christians Believe:
"My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too-for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist-in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless- I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality-namely my idea of justice- was full of sense.
Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning." (3)
And so in conclusion to this Sub Point C, the problems of pain and suffering in the world do not contradict the nature of the Christian God, nor do they disprove His existence on the premise that a good perfect God would allow suffering for the sake of a rational, consistent Universe while giving justice to those who had to suffer and to those who need to suffer for their actions in this life and after.
Contention 1 Conclusion
In conclusion to my first Contention, the atheist has yet to provide the theist with any invalidating evidence of God's non-existence thereby making it irrational to call the theist delusional. If my opponent has such evidence, he should provide it in this debate as well as showing us how I have held to my belief in spite of this evidence.
There are probably dozens to even hundreds of other arguments that the atheists have come up with over the centuries to attempt disproving God, but these are just the main ones that I have heard most frequently while listening, reading and participating in debates over the existence of God. If my opponent feels that there are other arguments, or even one of the arguments I have already discussed, which invalidate the existence of God, he should provide them in his first or second Negative. If he fails to do so but brings up a new argument in our final rebuttals, the argument will be ignored because of Mr. Hawkins' failure to abide by the rules of debate. It is actually called "sliming" (http://www2.ccsd.ws/hgfaculty/debateTeam/JargonGlossary.pdf) and I will use the rules of debate as strictly as I can because I feel this debate should be carried out fairly for both of us and I doubt there will be any moderator or judge, at least not a neutral one.
Contention 2: Atheists have been known to be Delusional and have Irrational, Psychological Reasons for Unbelief in God
In complete affirmation to the Resolution that theists are not delusional, for my second Contention I will show how atheists have actually been known to be delusional and practice their unbelief as a direct result of irrational, shallow and psychological reasons. This of course does not mean that all atheists are delusional and irrational in their unbelief in God, but many are as a direct result of labeling the theist as delusional as you will see in my 3rd Contention. There are many atheists sincerely searching for the truth, wanting evidence. C.S. Lewis was one of those atheists, along with Josh McDowell, Antony Flew, and many other famous Christians/theists today. When one honestly searches for meaning and for evidence, they will find God. The atheists of the RRS, however, are only searching for a fight.
Sub Point A: Atheists have Superficial, Irrational Reasons for Unbelief
In Professor Paul C. Vitz's paper entitled "The Psychology of Atheism," he shares some of his history as an atheist with us and tells of many different reasons why someone might want to be an atheist. Some of his most shallow reasons were popularity, fitting in, and making life more convenient to him. He writes,
"…through reflection on my own experience it is now clear to me that my reasons for becoming and for remaining an atheist-skeptic from about age 18 to 38 were superficial, irrational, and largely without intellectual or moral integrity. Furthermore, I am convinced that my motives were, and still are, commonplace today among intellectuals, especially social scientists."(4)
The following list is a compilation of social reasons why many atheists become and remain atheists according to Professor Paul Vitz's paper from the Psychology department of the University of New York. None of them however, are rational reasons, nor are they acceptable as intellectual in the least.
1. "General Socialization: An important influence on me in my youth was a significant social unease. I was somewhat embarrassed to be from the Midwest, for it seemed terribly dull, narrow, and provincial. There was certainly nothing romantic or impressive about being from Cincinnati, Ohio and from a vague mixed German-English-Swiss background. Terribly middle class. Further, besides escape from a dull, and according to me unworthy, socially embarrassing past, I wanted to take part in, in fact to be comfortable in, the new, exciting, even glamorous, secular world into which I was moving. I am sure that similar motives have strongly influenced the lives of countless upwardly mobile young people in the last two centuries. Consider Voltaire, who moved into the glittery, aristocratic, sophisticated world of Paris, and who always felt embarrassed about his provincial and nonaristocratic origin; or the Jewish ghettos that so many assimilating Jews have fled, or the latest young arrival in New York, embarrassed about his fundamentalist parents. This kind of socialization pressure has pushed many away from belief in God and all that this belief is associated with for them.
I remember a small seminar in graduate school where almost every member there at some time expressed this kind of embarrassment and response to the pressures of socialization into "modern life." One student was trying to escape his Southern Baptist background, another a small town Mormon environment, a third was trying to get out of a very Jewish Brooklyn ghetto, and the fourth was me.
2. "Specific Socialization: Another major reason for my wanting to become an atheist was that I desired to be accepted by the powerful and influential scientists in the field of psychology. In particular, I wanted to be accepted by my professors in graduate school. As a graduate student I was thoroughly socialized by the specific "culture" of academic research psychology. My professors at Stanford, however much they might disagree on psychological theory, were, as far as I could tell, united in only two things-their intense personal career ambition and their rejection of religion. As the psalmist says, ". . . The man greedy for gain curses and renounces the Lord. In the pride of his countenance the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 10:3-4).
In this environment, just as I had learned how to dress like a college student by putting on the right clothes, I also learned to "think" like a proper psychologist by putting on the right-that is, atheistic-ideas and attitudes.
3. "Personal Convenience: Finally, in this list of superficial, but nevertheless, strong irrational pressures to become an atheist, I must list simple personal convenience. The fact is that it is quite inconvenient to be a serious believer in today's powerful secular and neo-pagan world. I would have had to give up many pleasures and a good deal of time.
Without going into details it is not hard to imagine the sexual pleasures that would have to be rejected if I became a serious believer. And then I also knew it would cost me time and some money. There would be church services, church groups, time for prayer and scripture reading, time spent helping others. I was already too busy. Obviously, becoming religious would be a real inconvenience." (5)
Sub Point B: Atheism is a result of the Oedipus Complex
Along with the social motives of the atheist and their desire for convenience, there is another significant and psychological reason for why a lot of people carry a strong disbelief in God. Right next to Sigmund Freud's world renowned atheism, he emphasized the psychological and unconscious issues people have as a central theme in his career. What he didn't realize is that the flaws he enjoyed searching for in other peoples' beliefs were all too prevalent in his own life and mind.
Many atheists like to quote these famous atheist philosophers for the profound and seemingly intellectual words they spew, but what none of them seem to realize is that there is more to these people than their anti-religious beliefs.
One of Freud's most famous works was the Oedipus Complex which, for Freud at least, was the childhood desire to sleep with his mother and kill his father.(6) I actually remember learning about this complex in the four month psychology class I took in my last year of high school. The exact words that came from my teacher's mouth that day were "Freud was a sick, sick man…and…you should not take this complex seriously…but, he is one of the most famous and recognized philosophers and psychologists of all time." I find that statement amusing to this day.
While Freud was trying to blame belief in God on wish fulfillment and delusion, through the Oedipus Complex, he has done the theist a great service in showing how the atheist can blame their unbelief in God on this complex. Vitz puts it this way:
"Now, in postulating a universal Oedipus complex as the origin of all our neuroses, Freud inadvertently developed a straightforward rationale for understanding the wish-fulfilling origin of rejecting God. After all, the Oedipus complex is unconscious, it is established in childhood and, above all, its dominant motive is hatred of the father and the desire for him not to exist, especially as represented by the desire to overthrow or kill the father. Freud regularly described God as a psychological equivalent to the father, and so a natural expression of Oedipal motivation would be powerful, unconscious desires for the nonexistence of God. Therefore, in the Freudian framework, atheism is an illusion caused by the Oedipal desire to kill the father and replace him with oneself. To act as if God does not exist is an obvious, not so subtle disguise for a wish to kill Him, much the same way as in a dream, the image of a parent going away or disappearing can represent such a wish: "God is dead" is simply an undisguised Oedipal wish-fulfillment."
In order to demonstrate this Complex in perfect working order, there is a list of the world's most famous atheists who all interestingly have the very same contempt for their father as the complex describes. Vitz describes it as the "defective dad" syndrome. By defective Vitz means the fathers were in their children's eyes either dead, abusive, weak, or abandoned their children.
Voltaire, Freidrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, Ludwig Feuerbach, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre, Thomas Hobbes, Sigmund Freud, Hitler, Stalin and Mao Zedong all have this "defective dad" issue, either losing their fathers at an early age and viewing them as weak, or being mentally and physically abused by them (7). To read a more detailed and especially informative description of this theory, read Prof. Vitz's paper here: http://www.leaderu.com/truth/1truth12.html.
Contention 2 Conclusion
In conclusion to my Contention 2 we can reasonably affirm that atheists are perfectly capable of being delusional in their unbelief because they can be psychologically unstable due to early childhood traumas involving their father figures, and superficial in their desire for convenience and a good social standing. Therefore, there is no reason to believe theists are delusional since it is really the atheist that is delusional. The belief itself is not really due to rational, logical examination but they mislead people into thinking this. The truth may be difficult to believe a lot of times, but that doesn't make it a lie.
Contention 3: Atheism Cannot Account for the Definition of Proper Function
In my last Contention I will address the issue of what it actually means to properly function as a human being. This is the heart of the argument atheists use in order to show theism is delusional. The arguments that theists are somehow ill will not work unless we have some sort of idea of what it means to be healthy. So what does it mean to be healthy? Well, Alvin Plantinga addresses this issue in his paper entitled "Theism, Atheism, and Rationality" perfectly. He says,
"What you take to be rational, at least in the sense in question, depends upon your metaphysical and religious stance. It depends upon your philosophical anthropology. Your view as to what sort of creature a human being is will determine, in whole or in part, your views as to what is rational or irrational for human beings to believe; this view will determine what you take to be natural, or normal, or healthy, with respect to belief. So the dispute as to who is rational and who is irrational here can't be settled just by attending to epistemological considerations; it is fundamentally not an epistemological dispute, but an ontological or theological dispute. How can we tell what it is healthy for human beings to believe unless we know or have some idea about what sort of creature a human being is?" (
The Christian or the theist, believing that God is the creator of everything, the Authority by which we determine everything, can provide a logical, rational answer to the question of what it means to properly function since we only need to look to God and ask Him what we should be doing. The atheist, however, cannot. Plantinga continues on in his paper to describe what he finds is a problem with the idea of proper function:
"So far as nature herself goes, isn't a fish decomposing in a hill of corn functioning just as properly, just as excellently, as one happily swimming about chasing minnows? But then what could be meant by speaking of "proper functioning" with respect to our cognitive faculties? A chunk of reality-an organism, a part of an organism, an ecosystem, a garden patch-"functions properly" only with respect to a sort of grid we impose on nature-a grid that incorporates our aims and desires."
Who would know what proper functioning is more than the One who created whatever we are discussing? "My car works properly if it works the way it was designed to work. My refrigerator is working properly if it refrigerates, if it does what a refrigerator is designed to do. This, I think, is the root idea of working properly. But according to theism, human beings, like ropes and linear accelerators, have been designed; they have been created and designed by God," says Plantinga. It would be going out on quite a limb to think otherwise indeed. When you wonder if something is functioning properly, it's working how it was designed to work by whoever created it. But if people are just mistakes, or accidents…if everything we know, see and feel is just *poof*, here by chance, who is the atheist to tell anyone they aren't working properly since the atheist cannot account for what it means to work properly at all? If there is no Designer with an intended purpose, there is no such thing as "proper function." My beliefs which you find irrational are merely in disagreement with you and therefore you view me as delusional, but you cannot rationally claim that I am in fact delusional unless you can tell me what it means to properly function.
If my opponent can account for proper function without a designer with a specific intent for His creation and a specific design by which they should operate, then he might be able to win this debate. I don't think he can though, since the entire argument that theism is delusional depends entirely on what properly functioning really means. One can only be delusional if we can determine what it means to be logical and rational and that the person in question (me) does not hold to these standards.
First Affirmative Conclusion
In Conclusion to my First Affirmative and my 3rd Contention, we can reasonably affirm that the theist is not delusional for believing in God. We can affirm this for the three reasons I have presented in my case. 1) There is no invalidating evidence that has been provided by the atheist; all theists cannot be accounted for in the attempt to show theism as holding its belief specifically in spite of this supposed evidence. 2) The unbelief in God can be rooted in superficial, psychologically unstable and delusional causes. 3) The atheist cannot account for what we would determine proper function is in order to show that the theist is delusional, and/or not working properly.
I challenge my opponent now to prove what exactly it means to function properly, since this is what he will need to prove in order to claim anyone is delusional at all. I challenge him to present us with some invalidating evidence by which the theist must resist in order to be called delusional also, and I challenge him to show how the psychological, irrational and superficial reasons for being atheist are somehow justifiable. Otherwise, it is the atheist who is projecting. It is the atheist who is delusional.
Thank you for this opportunity, Rook. I hope this experience can be enlightening and entertaining for both of us. I look forward to your First Negative.
3. Lewis, C.S. (2005) The Rival Conceptions of God. What Christians Believe pp 12-14.
4. See Reference #1.
5. See Reference #1.
6. Freud, S. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Trans. James Strachey. 24 vols. London: Hogarth, 1953-74. (http://www.cla.purdue.edu/academic/engl/theory/psychoanalysis/definitions/oedipus.html )
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