I stopped reading Triablogue some time ago, but today I decided to make an exception. After I posted my comment about the twin hypothesis, I thought to myself, “I’ll bet Steve Hays responds to this and uses the ‘Village Atheist’ tag.” My prediction was accurate. (See his post here.)
In my comment, I didn’t defend the twin hypothesis. I didn’t even lay out Cavin’s case for the Twin hypothesis in his Ph.D. dissertation. All I did was define the hypothesis in order to prove the point that Reppert did not consider a mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive set of possibilities. It wasn’t my goal to defend the twin hypothesis. I certainly didn’t expect anyone to find the twin hypothesis convincing based upon my stating the mere definition of it, anymore than I would expect anyone to find any controversial hypothesis about any subject convincing, just by hearing the name and definition of that hypothesis.
Again, it wasn’t my goal then and it isn’t my goal now to defend the twin hypothesis. I do not even claim that it is true. But I do claim that it cannot be so simply dismissed on the uncharitable, ill-conceived grounds Hays provides. In fact, all of Hays’ “Is Jeff…” questions are misdirected; the questions should begin, “Is Cavin…”(Without going into details, I’ll just say that Hays’ objections are about as sophisticated as atheists who think “What caused God?” is some kind of “Gotcha” question for theists, as if they had never considered such objections before.) Regardless, I’d encourage anyone interested in the topic to read Cavin’s Ph.D. dissertation, which implicitly answers all of Hays’ objections.
An interesting fact about the dissertation: it was written at the University of California at Irvine under the supervision of philosopher of science Brian Skyrms and the late philosopher of religion Nelson Pike. UC Irvine is a well respected school; Skyrms is (and Pike was) highly respected. Because Cavin successfully defended the twin hypothesis in his dissertation at such a prestigious university under the supervision of such well-respected philosophers, Cavin hardly deserves to be ridiculed as a “Village Atheist.” Ditto for Keith Parsons. In the past, I might have been offended on Cavin’s (or Parsons’) behalf if Hays’ use of the ‘Village atheist’ tag weren’t so misplaced; I now think it is a badge of honor for an atheist to be called a “Village Atheist” by theists like Hays.
Atheists have their village idiots. Theists have theirs. But neither Cavin nor Parsons nor Hays belong to such groups. In fact, notice how calling someone a village idiot (or village atheist or village theist) personalizes the debate; instead of talking solely about the arguments, Hays also brings in implied judgments about the intelligence of the persons who make those arguments. But this is simply embarrassing. For Hays.