Exapologist wrote: Thanks for that link. Although I never quite make it to atheism, I see in Alan's post this curious link between atheism and some reductionistic kind of materialism that apologists often link together. So there's this sort of implicit conditional:
If atheism is true, then reductive materialism is true.
Or some similar claim lurking in its neighborhood. Does this seem right? If so, then I wonder what sort of reason one might offer on its behalf. I assume it wouldn't be something to the effect that it would be weird if there were necessary truths if the God of classical theism didn't exist.
It seems to me that the atheist is only commited to something along the following lines:
Whatever turns out to be on the catalogue of things there are, a theistic god isn't in it.
But this sort of claim is compatible with lots of things that go beyond reductionistic accounts of materialism. In fact, it's totally compatible with the view that, e.g., there are necessary truths (including necessary moral truths).
EXAP: I'm not at all sure that the claim that atheism entails reductive materialism is required for this argument. One could argue that nonreductive materialism has difficulty fitting moral truths into the world as well. Even if you admit that such truths can be admitted into one's ontology wihtout compromising naturalism, you still have the problem of how it is possible to come to believe that such and such is a necessary moral truth, at least in part in virtue of the fact that such and such is a necessary moral truth. That is, in my view, what it would be for us to know that something was a necessary moral truth, and all forms of naturalism undercut this possibility.
I happen to believe that if there are objective moral values, the theistic God is the best explanation for why these exist.
Many people do want to use the existence of evil as a reason for preferring naturalism to theism. However, if the statement "There is evil" is part of the argument (as opposed to just saying "there is something the theist is going to call evil), then this argument might raise a problem for theism, but on my view it is logically incompatible with naturalism.
The argument from evil, used as a stick to beat the theist over the head with, can easily turn into a rattlesnake that bites the atheist on the hand.