Regardless of whether we ask about origin or justification of belief, there aren’t any justifiable grounds for the view that only the theological problem of evil stands behind the atheist’s denial of the reality of a deity.
Of course, the proposition that time is unreal can be understood as just part of another mental exercise, often found in philosophy. It surely cannot be considered a serious attempt to describe reality. But don’t underestimate the tendency of some philosopher to promote one or another form of nonsense, among them, the unreality of time.
One can issue explanations (scientific, neurological, psychological, quasi-psychological) of the processes (neural processes, workings of the sensory faculties) which under lie sense perception. These result in analyses or breakdowns (e.g., reducing things to neural processings) of the processes that underlie a person’s perception of the world. It could be called an “examination of the machinery the makes perception possible.”
But nothing about this work refutes the common-sense proposition that we perceive (see, hear, touch, taste, smell) aspects and objects of the real world.
Rebecca Goldstein over-reaches on behalf of the relevance and effectiveness of rational argument and the role that philosophers – with their rational arguments — played in bringing about an end to slavery and the plight of women (regarded as second-class members of society). Like with Yanni’s grand statement, so with Goldstein’s declaration of rational philosophy being the starting point of humanitarian developments, when we test the grand statement against the actual social and historical developments we find much reason for doubting and rejecting them.
The humanitarian movements that have helped to bring about the end of the institution of slavery have included social, historical, and economic forces not at all philosophical in nature; and have been executed by different people of different backgrounds, most of whom were not inspired by the “theoretical moral arguments” of some philosopher or other.
Proposition: We have as much reason for thinking that the Judeo-Christian God is real as we do for supposing that the god Poseidon, of Greek mythology, is real. In short, neither is real.
This is affirmed by a number of the new atheists and skeptics on religion. However, many from the world of religious philosophy will strongly dissent.
I was struck by the similarity between such Dualist campaign to downgrade physical views of human beings and the story of aliens who snatched the bodies of human victims and replaced them with strange facsimiles. Of course, it may not appear that dualists and spiritualists are out to snatch away one’s body and replace it with an alien likeness….But they do seem intent on reducing the human body-brain to mere matter-in-motion, a primitive form of material existence that cannot support the complex and high level of activity that we justifiably credit to our corporeal nature.
Contrary to the “hunger for perfection,” I agree with the many biologists, historians, and political scientists who deny that the idea of perfection as an absolute by which we evaluate human knowledge has any place in our natural, social world and can at best serve only as a limiting concept.
For some of us (fortunate ones or otherwise) there is a tension in our thoughts about philosophy: We vacillate between the idea that filosofía is our most important possession and the contrary idea that most of the work of philosophers is irrelevant to the important concerns of life.
So, besides possibly being a great intellectual adventure, what is philosophy good for? Maybe the answer is that it is not worth much, if you’re the type of person anxious to act in resolving our many social and political problems, or if you’re the type who wants to go about earning a fortune and acquiring power. (For such types philosophy is likely a waste of time.) But if you’re the type of person who is not satisfied with society’s standard answers to difficult question and if you’re the type of person who has advanced from childhood (where parents prop up you in your walking and the experts do your thinking,) and you desire to walk on your own and think on your own, then maybe study, reflection, and interaction in philosophy is the thing for you. Maybe philosophy is good for something after all.
Trying to specify “the biggest problem in philosophy” can be an interesting exercise for undergraduate students of philosophy; but I’m inclined to classify it with such questionable, idle exercises as trying to say who the greatest philosopher is; or whether Shakespeare or Cervantes was the greater writer.