Rebuttal to the anti-Atheism Essay


Rebuttal to the anti-Atheism Essay


As an investigator of alternatives to Christianity and a new student of Deism, I was excited to find Peter Murphy's article, "Deism and Atheism". I was hoping it would provide a good comparison between these two beliefs, but unfortunately I was sadly disappointed. Quite the contrary, it is a poor attempt to support Deism over Atheism. It uses bad analogies, bad logic, and rhetorical appeals to emotions. Even a novice investigator could spot the eficiencies, to the extent that I wonder how the publishers of the Deism web site could refer to it as "outstanding" in any positive sense.

Murphy's main analogy is that of nature as a painting, and science's exploration of nature similar to studying the paints and canvas. This is straightforward enough (for, indeed, paints and canvas are a part of nature as well, so studying them IS studying nature). But Murphy then claims that "it is not too far a leap" for us to conclude that, just as a painting has a "creator" in the form of a painter, so nature must have some creator. Unfortunately, whether this is true or not, Murphy's "leap" is totally unjustified. Just because you can identify certain characteristics of two things (like nature and a painting) that share common attributes doesn't at all imply that all of their attributes are therefore equivalent. For instance, I can use grapes as an analogy for oranges, and compare how they both have multiple seeds and a skin, are juicy, etc. But that doesn't mean that since these are similar characteristics, and that grapes are grown on a vine, that therefore oranges are grown on a vine. Or, that if I like grapes, then I'll like oranges. And to say that it is "not too far a leap" is ridiculous in a logical argument. If there is any disconnect at all that must be lept, it is too far.

Murphy also accuses Atheists of appealing to "science as an authority which cannot be challenged" for evidence that there is no "God". There are two
problems with this approach. First, Murphy is supposed to be comparing Deism to Atheism. It isn't fair to the reader for the author to find an Atheist
who is especially bad at explaining or defending Atheism, and use attacks against his poor arguments as justifications against Atheism. Although it seems reasonable to expect that Murphy's understanding of Atheism might come largely from his contact with various Atheists, an intelligent author who expects any credibility in a reputable publication must be able to look deeper than that, especially if he wants to come across as an authority. I might as well in this rebuttal say that since I think Murphy's arguments are so bad, Deism must be nonsense. (I expect that most readers would disagree with that logic for one reason or another!)

Second, Murphy appears confused himself about whether or not science will be the final judge. In his introduction he states, "The final resolution of this problem [Deism vs. Atheism] will eventually be up to science to settle." Then he makes the accusation of Atheists noted in the previous paragraph (claiming that their belief in the authority of ! science is "plagued" with problems), and next follows it up with the statement that science makes no claims at all about the existence of a "God". After that, he says it is a "fallacy" to conclude that science will have the final word. Throughout the rest of the article, there are several references to the fact that scientists don't know all the answers now, but are continually learning more. It seems as if Murphy is arguing in circles, taking all sides and the middle of  the issue just so long as he can decry the claims of people who might provide poor arguments in defense of Atheism.

Murphy's rhetoric and choice of words is also disappointing. Atheists "continually resort to logical fallacies" (how ignorant!); Atheists "demand"
(how belligerent!); Atheists "like to shift the burden of proof" (how rude!); Atheists "fear waiting" (how impatient!); Atheists make "sweeping generalizations" (how tedious!). Whereas Deists "recognize the limitations of belief" (how endearing!); Deists "possess the courage to believe" (how courageous!); Deists "should feel free" (how liberated!); Deists "believe there is something more" (how hopeful!); Deists "are willing to wait" (how patient!); Deists "are keeping an open mind" (how noble!).

In conclusion, Peter Murphy's article is far from outstanding. It makes unsupported assertions, uses bad logic, misapplies analogies, takes multiple
contrary positions, and leaves open-minded readers feeling nothing but distate for the article. Murphy makes his own sweeping generalizations of Atheists and Deists alike, resorts to his own logical fallacies, and shifts the burden of making a rational comparison between Deism and Atheism to somebody else.

To read Peter Murphy's counter-rebuttal to this rebuttal click here





















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