Brandon writes on Siris: Moran and the 'Courtier's Reply'.
Larry Moran suffers what looks like a complete lapse of critical thought in a recent post on the so-called 'Courtier's Reply'. As he puts it:I don't talk about the "problem of evil" when I'm discussing the possible existence of supernatural beings and neither do many other atheists.Atheists and theists often discuss the existence of God. Unfortunately, these discussions often degenerate into classic Christian apologetics where the main goal of the theist is to rationalize why his or her god doesn't conflict with rationality.Now, Moran is usually pretty reasonable; but this argument is so thoroughly absurd and irrational that he should be ashamed to have put it forward. Let's abstract from the situation a bit to show why. Take a position, A, and a contrary position, B. Now suppose that A gives an objection to B. To this objection, B responds with an argument, whether good or bad, that the objection fails. To which A replies, "This sort of apologetics has nothing to do with the fundamental question of whether B is true in the first place." But this is demonstrably false, of course; B's argument was dealing with an objection put forward by A. What A is trying to do is irrational: he's trying to rig the argument so that his objections are never answered, independently of whether they can be, by dismissing any answer that might be made to them as 'apologetics that have nothing to do' with the original question.
Before long they are rambling on about how to resolve the problem of evil or why god doesn't reveal herself. These problems only exist once you've accepted the premise that there is a god/spirit. This sort of apologetics has nothing to do with the fundamental question of whether god exists in the first place.
So it is here. The reason theists talk about the problem of evil or the problem of hiddenness is that atheists typically raise these as objections to theism.
The point of the Coutrier's Reply is that theists bring up these "problems" when they should be discussing whether gods exist.
The Courtier's Reply does not apply when atheists engage in discussions about the problem of evil or any other problem that theists have when they're trying to reconcile superstition and rationality. It only applies when theists try moving the goalposts—which they do all the time.
It's unfortunate, too, because it makes Moran seem more unreasonable than he probably is. He ends by saying that he would be happy to discuss evidence for theism. This would sound somewhat more sincere if he hadn't just finished giving an argument for why he doesn't have to listen to any responses to any objections he might raise against this purported evidence.I said I'd be happy to discuss any evidence for the existence of a spiritual world and I stand by that statement.
Brandon, if you or anyone else wants to debate the existence of the supernatural then, by all means, give it your best shot. Give me the evidence for the existence of god(s) and I promise to listen. Maybe I misunderstood your "evidence." Are you saying that the presence of evil in the world is evidence that god(s) exist?