Monday, March 9, 2009

Sophistry and the Straw Man

"If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one present, does it make a sound? Scientifically, the answer is yes. Sound is basically the vibration of air. Philosophically speaking however, the answer is no. The concept of sound is meaningless without an audience. Using this extrapolation, Agnostics have cleverly crafted an ideology which boldly claims that because of our incapacity to detect or prove God, then one is not rationally inclined to believe in God. However, I think my agnostic friends have confused two essentially unrelated ideas. Ignorance is only proof of ignorance, not proof of non-existence. The two concepts are mutually exclusive. But that’s not the only thing amiss in this peculiar flavour of atheism."

Well, if God is perfect, so is his world.

The Best of all Possible Worlds

One of the tools of sophistry (false reasoning) is the creation of a straw man just in order to demolish it as representing something else. In this bit of sophistry, Xenocrates suggests that agnosticism is a flavor of atheism, which it is not. If religionists and atheists want to quarrel forever about something they cannot know, that is their privilege and much good may it do them. Let them leave honest agnostics out of their fruitless quarrel.

Agnosticism is merely the admission of those who do not know God that they do not, in fact, know God and that they make no claim concerning his existence, his non-existence or his attributes. A stronger claim would be that God is unknowable and that those who claim to know of his existence or nonexistence or attributes or wishes are either delusional or charlatans. I am personally inclined to this view but I do not claim to know that it is true - nor do I claim that delusions cannot be useful to some people at certain times.

Because of certain limitations of the human mind, sophistry is a formidable foe.

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