by Justin Robbins
Robbins is a frequent contributor to the Cowgirl Blog. You can follow him on Twitter at @JustinRobbins15
On Saturday, The Independent Record published an opinion piece by Carroll College Associate Professor of Philosophy and Theology Eric Hall. In it, he essentially implied he was also versed in the philosophy of “contemporary atheists”, which he then attacked as pseudo-intellectual pseudo-science; preferring instead the atheism of yore when, apparently, they really knew how to disbelieve.
The problems with his position are many and varied. His fallacious argument begins with a reluctance to identify the “contemporary atheists” of whom he speaks, continues through the un-atheistic ideas he attributes to them, and concludes with a flourishing death blow; dispatching the enemy he, himself, imagined into being. To use an actual philosophical term, Prof. Hall builds a “strawman” (a fabricated opponent) which he then tears down, using tired apologetics to vanquish ill-defined non-arguments as he goes.
Learning from the professor’s error of generalization and stereotyping, I will speak only for myself. As a forty-something, caucasian, American male who does not subscribe to the supernatural, I am likely what the good professor imagines as a contemporary atheist. I will at least, for the purpose of answering him, assume that mantle.
I will begin by clarifying for him that the terms “empirically verified” and “falsified” belong more appropriately to the realm of scientific, rather than philosophical discourse. Empirical verification literally meaning replication by experimentation, and falsification being the hammer with which all scientific theories are regularly, necessarily and relentlessly pounded.
You see, a theory’s potential to be proven false (falsifiability) yet to withstand uncountable, incessant attempts to discredit it, is actually evidence of the theory’s strength. This is why evolution theory remains perpetually linked to the person and work of Charles Darwin. Regardless of the insatiable, omnidirectional assaults from every conceivable religious entity and crackpot Montana creationist politician, it has remained reliably, fundamentally unscathed since originally published in 1859.
Therefore, Prof. Hall, if you are truly seeking intellectually rigorous, empirically reliable and well-reasoned, defensible answers to life’s questions, you would be better served to look in the Origin of Species before hitting the local creationist museum, let alone the bible. If you still seek the interaction of an actual, contemporary atheist, I’m your huckleberry.