In my article “Science is no substitute for religion: A Reader’s Journey Through God or Godless (Part 7)” I critiqued John Loftus’s attempt to claim science for atheism. For example, Loftus writes:
“Science answers questions and solves problems. Religion has never answered one single question or solved one single problem.” (50)
Part of my response to this particular tendentious claim consisted of pointing out that Christianity “has answered many questions and solved many problems, not least of which are those two grand questions concerning human meaning and purpose.”
This prompted Ed Babinski to write the following comment:
“Please provided a detailed list of Christianity’s “answers” to such questions and “many more questions” that you claim Christianity has “answers” to. And list them by degree of your personal certainty concerning each “answer.” Many religions and philosophies claim to “answer” such questions. The hard part comes with further discussion.”
Note in particular the condescending sneer quotes that Ed places around the word answer. Clearly Ed intends to challenge the claim that Christianity has provided answers. He begins by requesting a “detailed list” of Christianity’s answers. I’m going to bypass the request since I already referred to two areas: meaning and purpose. Moreover, I am quite sure that Ed is not so ignorant of Christianity that he is unaware of what the Christian answers are to these topics.
So what is Ed’s problem? What’s behind the sneer quotes? Is he merely playing the troll? Perhaps, but I suspect that instead he is suggesting that Christian answers are illegitimate pseudo-answers because they fail to command a consensus from those who contemplate them. This interpretation is supported by the final statement, “The hard part comes with further discussion.” I suspect that Ed is alluding here to the fact that the answers Christianity provides do not yield consensus.
This is a very strange objection for Ed to make since the answers that atheists, naturalists, and humanists provide to these same questions also fail to garner any consensus. Thus, if Christian answers are deserving of Ed’s sneer quotes for this reason then the answer provided by atheists, naturalists, and humanists are equally deserving.
As bad as that is, it gets even worse. You see, Ed’s rejection of answers that fail to garner consensus is based on a philosophical position which itself has failed to garner consensus. Thus, if Ed rejects positions that fail to garner consensus, then he should reject the very demand that positions should be rejected if they fail to garner consensus. In other words, Ed’s objection is self-defeating.
Let me suggest that Ed pick up a copy of my book The Swedish Atheist, the Scuba Diver, and Other Apologetic Rabbit Trails and then carefully read chapter 16, “Naturalism, scientism, and the screwdriver that could fix almost anything.” There he will find some helpful answers for his philosophical conundrum, no sneer quotes required.