Friendly reminder: There are men and moments for which reading almost anything with the word “atheism” is detrimental.
(This essay is clearly imperfect and is not intended to be final.)
Before I say anything, I wish to clarify my position on the potential fruitfulness of such debate (in circumstances it’s Halachically permissible, of course).
Various Torah teachers have claimed the following (I don’t recall real proof):
All the intellectual back-and-forth on these matters (both in the mind and actual dialogue) cannot lead to decisive victory by logic. In other words, both sides are bluffing.
The only rational goal of thought on these matters is to broaden and strengthen the “rhetorical advantage” of the truth; to show Judaism is most certainly not logically fallacious, not completely unproven, not clearly immoral, etc. There is no “silver bullet” on either side, no unarguable argument. Why would this be so? To leave mankind with free will.
Why would this be so?
To leave mankind with free will.
I don’t know what it’s called, so I hereby name this view “Atheism of the Gaps” (a spin on the known “God of the Gaps“).
Much of the argumentation with atheists shows they demand a higher standard of evidence than they themselves require elsewhere. The standards of proof they demand are not, in fact, used by anyone even in the hard, exact sciences. This is defended by comparing the self-correcting nature of science, etc. mostly lacking in religion, but this ignores the fact that practical exactitude is not demanded (in Judaism, anyway: “Lo nitna Torah lemalachei hashares”).
But this definitely does not mean triumph, because God is not a “hypothesis“, anyway. So, when the religionist attempts to get others (or in the mind: to encourage himself) to perform certain actions (if only by personal example) there is always the simple answer: “You can’t make me!” and its crafty, academic twin: “More evidence, please!”
(I say religionist, not “Jew”, because the sole, true definition of religion is “Judaism”; all other “religions” were and still are pseudo-intellectual and pseudo-emotional avoidance of Divine obligation (see the first chapter of Leibowitz here). Indeed, all human history is the battle between Judaism and “Anti-Judaism”, see a summary here.)
Indeed, the ultima ratio of human action is human will, as described elsewhere.
Alternatively, this can be abridged as “presuppositionalism”. In short, the metaphysical naturalist cannot defeat hard solipsism, and cannot induct logical induction itself. Some add he cannot defeat ethical nihilism and relativism (myself, I’m not sure). Ergo, anything he says and/or thinks (including “good morning”) is either viciously circular or violates the law of non-contradiction.
G. K. Chesterton: “Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all.”
(Disclaimer: I have not yet fully understood presuppositionalism.)
By the way, those few using deductive apriorism elsewhere (e.g., “Man acts” in economics), must admit it might be useful here, too. Kindly cease with the “Show me!”