Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Lawyerly atheists


In my experience, internet atheists typically act like lawyers. Lawyers only argue their side of the case. And they use whatever argument is convenient.

Despite their affectation of superior rationality, it doesn't even occur to internet atheists that they have an intellectual duty to do elementary fact-checking, to anticipate counterarguments to their arguments, to anticipate counterexamples to their examples. 

A good philosopher doesn't wait for his prospective critics to raise objections. Rather, he tries to anticipate their objections, not necessarily because he wants to be evenhanded, but because he wants to head them off. That's the way of making the strongest case for his position.

This is entirely absent among internet atheists. They always wait to be corrected. They never anticipate even the most obvious responses to their arguments or factual assertions. They don't even have that mindset. They never stop to ask themselves, If I were a Christian, what are some ways I might respond to that? 

They don't really listen. Rather, it's all about deflecting objections to their position. They reach for anything at hand, however dubious. Internet Arminians behave the same way. 

It's funny how utterly hidebound and anti-intellectual they are. That's why they regard it as treasonous when a real philosopher like Thomas Nagel lets down the cause by honestly considering the other side of the argument–even though that's precisely what a philosopher is supposed to do. That's called critical sympathy.

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