Monday, January 23, 2012

Metaphysical Jokers

My recent experience with debating what I consider New Atheists has led me to conclude that there is a prevailing notion in debates and discussions today.  The concept is that as long as I can defeat my opponent's arguments I demonstrate that I am right.

The model of argument for the New atheist is the following.  Attack, attack, attack, attack.  During my entire discussion the focus was on my arguments for God.  The mode of argumentation was clearly to put the theist on the defensive.  When I started conversations about their own assumptions, this led to complaints about "changing the subject."  Given that the forum was a atheist Facebook fan page one would think that the participants would be open to critique of their philosophical viewpoints.

But this principle is not limited to New Atheists.  Open any political, social, religious, or philosophical commentary these days.  The prevailing mode of discussion is "why my opponent is wrong."  Much time is spent dissecting the various  ways those who hold views in opposition are incorrect.  Very little if any consideration is given to how the arguer is right.

While this is the main mode of argument there is an even more insidious form of this kind of argumentation.  The type who argues that nothing can be known.  No greater truths, nothing beyond the basic sense can be known with any certainty.

I call these "metaphysical jokers."  Like the iconic villain from the move "The Dark Knight," these individuals simply destroy in an attempt to prove everyone wrong.  They propose nothing, advance nothing.  They only detract, destroy, obliterate.  Oftentimes they will employ arguments that contradict each other when attacking different positions.

They do not believe anything, and only leech off of those who do.  They do not seek truth.  They do not attempt to hold any ideas.  Oftentimes they are the worst of advocates, but retreat in the face of any counterargument.  They have no beliefs they will defend, but only act upon.

This is the modern sophistry.  The natural end of unrestricted critical doubt.  The emptiness of undisciplined thought.   It is anti-thought.  A betrayal of reason.  And a perversion of the our ability to think.

Is this what reason ultimately brings us to?  By no means.  But first we must examine the root error in this line of "anti-thinking."  This we will examine later.

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