Author: From Reason to Faith

Our goal is to rationally explore concepts of spirituality, as well as the societal and economic circumstances that influence our beliefs.

Evidentialism and the Burden of Proof

By: Michelle Zorzella

2000px-belief_venn_diagram.svg_.png

 

Faith is commonly defined by nonbelievers as belief without evidence. In the words of the late Christopher Hitchens, “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” (God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, 2007). According to some atheists, the lack of evidence in favour of the existence of gods indicates a belief in such an entity is irrational. This argument is representative of evidentialism: the idea that conclusions are only rational (or justified) if supported by evidence. Understood, it is a theory that applies to all doxastic attitudes including belief, disbelief and suspension of judgment. With this point in mind, the question arises: if belief in gods can be deemed irrational on the ground of evidentialism, can atheism also be dismissed if it is not based on evidence? A number of atheists who reject theism on the basis of evidentialism argue their atheism does not need to be supported by evidence. Although they offer arguments in support of this position, the reasons provided ultimately fail to justify this double standard.

(more…)

Atheist Contradictions: Cline’s Elementary Scholarship

[UPDATE: Oct 11, 2019]

By: Michelle Zorzella

As I was doing research for an essay on the topic of agnostic atheism, I came across a curious article written by one of Learn Religion’s atheism and agnosticism experts, Austin Cline. With a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, a Masters from Princeton University and 18 years of experience educating others on the subjects of atheism and agnosticism, one would not expect to encounter such a poorly written article concerning Agnosticism and Thomas Henry Huxley.

In his article, he attempts to provide some details about the life of Huxley and explain his understanding of agnosticism. He quotes the following statement from his 1889 essay on Agnosticism:

Screenshot_20191011-125455

After reading the article, I searched for a copy of Huxley’s essay and began to read it in its entirety. When I found the statement Cline quoted in the image above, I immediately became suspicious. The quote Cline offers is not quite the same as what is seen here in the following source provided by Clark University:

Why does Cline’s quote vary so dramatically from the original? It’s hard to imagine how someone with his experience could miss such an elementary error. The article was updated as recently as March 2017, which means either no one has noticed the mistake or it’s intentional.

This was not the first time I ran into major issues with Cline’s writing.  Some years ago when ThoughtCo was still about.com, Cline wrote an article on “What is Positive Atheism?” which fortunately no longer exists. In my notes for what would eventually become this article, I quoted the following statement from the opening paragraph: “Positive atheism is defined as the positive claim that no gods exist or the denial that the claim ‘at least one god exists’ is false.” Here, Cline makes an elementary error: he employs a double negative. According to his definition, a positive atheist is one who would say the statement “at least one god exists” is not false. One could argue for charity’s sake, that he may not have intended to say atheists do not believe the claim at least one god exists is false– only that the claim lacks evidence. Yet this would hold true only if Cline was attempting to define negative or agnostic atheism. Cline admits this much in the first portion of his opening sentence.

Takeaways: the importance of evaluating our sources carefully cannot be overstated. No matter who is giving us information, it is our personal responsibility to ensure we cite our sources accurately and articulate our ideas without undermining them. Have an editor read over your work before publishing it, especially if the work is meant to be a resource for others to learn from.


[1]https://www.learnreligions.com/agnosticism-and-thomas-henry-huxley-248044

[2]http://aleph0.clarku.edu/huxley/CE5/Agn.html 

When Counter-Apologetics Fail

By: Monique Zorzella

2016-10-28

Atheism Expert Austin Cline of atheism.about.com sets out to debunk an alleged myth expounded by religious apologists in his work entitled Myth: Atheists Believe in Lots of  Unprovable Things, Like Love and Beauty. Cline proposes that a false claim thrown about by theists is that: “Atheists and other so-called rationalists believe in many things they cherish, but which are unprovable: love, value, beauty, etc.”  He suggests this is done as an attempt to establish a false parallel between themselves and atheists when it comes to their “approach to matters of truth”; more specifically, that both Theists and Atheists believe in things that cannot be justified by logic or evidence. Despite his attempts to falsify the claim, the essay ultimately fails to make any cogent argument that would successfully refute the proposed myth.

(more…)

Origins of Original Sin 

By: Michelle Zorzella

Original sin, the Christian doctrine regarding the moral corruption of mankind as a result of Adam and Chavah (Eve) eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. As consequence of their disobedience, all of humanity is imparted with an ancestral fault; that is, a hereditary state of sin which can only be remitted by the will of God.

(more…)

The Identity Fallacy

By: Monique Zorzella

Revised December 16, 2019

By Alex E. Proimos (http://www.flickr.com/photos/proimos/4199675334/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Across many subjects of debate, a popular counter-argument used to rebut the argument made by ones opponent is to point out that it contradicts some aspect of their personal identity. In other words, they find a contradiction between the way in which they characterize themselves and the proposition claimed by the arguer. For this reason, they counter that the proposition claimed by the arguer is untrue. (more…)