Thursday is melt your brain with theo-philosophical reasoning day

Good morning, Christopher Hitchens! I'd like to trade you my argument that a transcendent plenitude of being is the necessary predicate of universal contingency for your rat's ass. No? Not gonna do it?

It’s Thursday, and you know what that means: its time to read theist critiques of the philosophical logic behind contemporary atheism! You don’t remember us doing this every Thursday since the creation of this blog? Well, I do, and the onus is on you to prove that we haven’t. In the meantime, I’ll be running for the local school board. Nah—I’m just messing with you. You can’t prove a negative, unless you use an indirect proof to demonstrate that assuming the negative’s opposite results in a logical contradiction—like, for example, when you point out that an omniscient god could not also be omnipotent, since his certain knowledge of the future would delimit the field of his own actions. That’s one of the many appealing but ultimately bankrupt arguments* for atheism that Eastern Orthodox theologian David Hart mentions in his dense, insightful and enormously infuriating indictment of “the new atheism” in May’s issue of First Things, which I assume is on your coffee table right now. Hart, who is the author of a book called Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies, (beach reading!) contends that the present cottage industry in books indicting religion is a poor, pale imitation of atheism’s great past. He writes like CS Lewis listening to a tape recording of his own voice, but he makes an interesting point. From the standpoint of rigorous logic, contemporary atheism has become sufficiently popular that it needs to start watching its ass.

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Friday links! Directionless assemblage of events edition

Oh, to be young in Warra Wanna

It’s Friday, and that means it’s time to fit the irregular detritus of the week into a taught chain of causal, um, links. The problem with contemporary life—if I can just jump right into it here—is that it’s increasingly non-narrative. Ever since the basic unit of work went from stalking a mastodon over the frozen plains for two weeks to franking insurance forms in a cubicle for eight hours, human life has become more and more episodic. That’s great for creating a mood but bad for developing character, to put it in workshop terms. Maybe that’s why the character of our nation has been so moody lately, with alternating factions declaring crisis amid recovery, victory in stalemate, strategem in disaster and vice versa, pretty much anew every morning. There must be a narrative in there somewhere, since yesterday will definitely not be happening again today, but sometimes the story seems hard to follow. Maybe we’re just looking at another week’s episode in the long-running melodrama of stupidity versus sense. Maybe stupidity has won, and the rest of the performance will be a puppet show, with shrieking socks debating each other in the same idiot’s voice. The fact of the matter is that not everything happens according to some plan, and our best evidence for destiny is still assembled in retrospect. This week, retrospect reveals only a startling refusal to cohere. As you move from the structure of your workweek to the short-form improvisations of the weekend, consider Camus’s assertion that meaning is only something we make for ourselves, and therefore so is meaninglessness. It is the edge between our desperate understandings and an indifferent universe where stories are made, and it’s the friction in the joint that gives them heat. It’s a cold morning in the Combat! blog offices, so let’s get a little fire going, huh?

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