Missing the Point?

I was browsing through the Times blogs yesterday and I came across one by John Humphrys (which was actually an extract from “In God We Doubt” about to be published by Hodder & Stoughton) carrying the title “In God we doubt” with the following tagline:

He went looking for God and ended up an angry agnostic – unable to believe but enraged by the arrogance of militant atheists. It’s hard to see the purpose of the world, he says, but don’t blame its evils on religion

As you can see, there was no way I wasn’t going to read this!

Overall, this is a reasonably well written piece. While it isn’t good enough to make me interested in buying the book it may well appeal to some people with wavering faith and the writing style is certainly inoffensive on the whole. John Humphrys is basically explaining how he went from being brought up a good Christian to his faith wavering and finally he “deconverted” to agnosticism. I wont go into the nonsensical idea that “agnosticism” is anything other than a complete wet lettuce of a philosophical idea, which has at its root the basic assumption that God does exist but is insufficiently proven for worship, that is for another day.

There is one, possibly major, problem with the whole piece and (I suspect) the line of reasoning from which it flows. After a lengthy and introspective introduction, Mr Humphrys identifies what he sees as “the attitude of those militant atheists who seem to hold believers in contempt.” (It is interesting that he makes a list of seven points, but again this diversion can wait). His reflection on “militant atheists” produces the following list of characteristics, faults and problems: (These are opinions which “militant atheists” are supposed to hold to)

1. Believers are mostly naive or stupid. Or, at least, they’re not as clever as atheists.

2. The few clever ones are pathetic because they need a crutch to get them through life.

3. They are also pathetic because they can’t accept the finality of death.

4. They have been brainwashed into believing. There is no such thing as a “Christian child”, for instance – just a child whose parents have had her baptised.

5. They have been bullied into believing.

6. If we don’t wipe out religious belief by next Thursday week, civilisation as we know it is doomed.

7. Trust me: I’m an atheist. I make no apology if I have oversimplified their views with that little list: it’s what they do to believers all the time.

After sharing his earth shattering wisdom the reader is further encouraged to discover each point in detail. It is here that I largely gave up on any hope for him. The explanations and rebuttals follow, now with my rebuttal of his rebuttal…

1. This is so clearly untrue it’s barely worth bothering with. Richard Dawkins, in his bestselling The God Delusion, was reduced to producing a “study” by Mensa that purported to show an inverse relationship between intelligence and belief. He also claimed that only a very few members of the Royal Society believe in a personal god. So what? Some believers are undoubtedly stupid (witness the creationists) but I’ve met one or two atheists I wouldn’t trust to change a lightbulb.

In his first sentence he gets it spot on, but possibly not in the way he thinks and despite his scorn for this it is his first point and he goes to great lengths to try and dismiss it. The reality of the matter is no “militant atheist” I know really thinks all theists are dumb and I would be interested in seeing the published information to support this idea. There are very intelligent and well educated theists – this goes without saying – and equally there are retarded atheists. Here, Humphrys has created a strawman and then attacked it. He tried to demolish it with an appeal to ridicule but, come the crunch, he failed. Nothing in what he writes actually says anything relevant to the point he tries to address so I suspect this is actually proof some atheists are dumb.

The strawman used by Humphrys reads that atheists think theists are “mostly” dumb or not as clever as atheists. Nothing that he writes contradicts this idea, except the appeal to ridicule at the beginning – and if it really is so clearly untrue, why address it first and foremost? If he strongly thinks it is false, then why is he using phrases like “reduced to using a ‘study'” (with sneer quotes)? Strawmen are wonderful things, but they need to be used properly…

2. Don’t we all? Some use booze rather than the Bible. It doesn’t prove anything about either.

Here he continues the strawman and again says nothing. I am not sure what point he is trying to make here. Does he mean to imply that religious belief is “good” because some people need alcohol to get through the day? Is he saying that the Bible (or what ever religious belief) is nothing but a crutch for people with problems and then claiming it doesn’t prove the original (yet strawman) argument he presented? If so, he is sadly mistaken.

After what he must feel was a rapier-like strike with the first point, Mr Humphrys descends into meaningless, pointless sentences like point 2. I am sure, somewhere, it means something but reading it on the Times Blog is baffling. He has no means of dismissing the claimed idea, for example with point 2 he does not even attempt to explain why intelligent theists are not simply clinging to their belief like an alcoholic clings to their bottle, he just says (an intellectually lazy) “so what.” For example:

3. Maybe, but it doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Count the number of atheists in the foxholes or the cancer wards.

Again, he has no point other than a strawman. He has no way of dismissing or even disagreeing with it and finally he trots out the old stalwart of the theist case – Atheists in Foxholes. Now, anyone who has read “God Is Not Great” will know that Christopher Hitchens is indeed someone who has been an atheist under fire, as have I and many, many other people I know. In all honesty, I know more people who have been an atheist in a foxhole than a theist.

But even if we assume the claim is correct, it leaves open the argument that the gods the theists are worshipping are somewhat neglectful. Surely they should be caring for their believers more than unbelievers, so why is it so many of the faithful are made to suffer…?

4. True, and many children reject it when they get older. But many others stay with it.

This leaves me with a massive “eh?” So what? He agrees with the militant atheist claim, so what is his point?

5. This is also true in many cases but you can’t actually bully someone into believing – just into pretending to believe.

Mr Humphrys is misrepresenting the “militant atheists” claim here so that he can simply add a rebuttal in the form of a twist. Obviously he is thinks it is ok for religions to bully people into observing their practices because, deep down, the person doesn’t believe in them. Madness.

6. Of course the mad mullahs are dangerous and extreme Islamism is a threat to be taken seriously. But we’ve survived monotheist religion for 4,000 years or so, and I can think of one or two other things that are a greater threat to civilisation.

It seems his liberalised anglican upbringing is showing here. Fundamentalist Islam is, indeed, dangerous in the short term violence aspect but the reality is no amount of terrorist attacks can destroy civilised democracy. Yes, people may die but then people die every day. The destruction of civil liberties that is following the fear of Islam provides a more long-term worry. The destruction of education being forced upon the west by Fundamentalist Christianity is more likely to do long-term harm to our societies ability to exist than people with semtex strapped to their chests. (Even “liberal” Holland is suffering – for example). The “harm” caused by religion is not always exemplified by planes flying into towers – think of the oppression of homosexuals, the subjugation of women, caste systems, refusal of medical treatment for minors etc.

Also, I am not sure his history is up to speed either. While Judaism may have been around for 4000 years, it is certainly a lot shorter period of time in which monotheistic death cults have been dominant on a global scale – let alone people who get their orders from the voice in their head god having access to nuclear weapons.

7. Why? For those of us who are neither believers nor atheists it can be very difficult. Doubters are left in the deeply unsatisfactory position of finding the existence of God unprovable and implausible, and the comfort of faith unachievable. But at the same time we find the reality of belief undeniable.

Again, we have the illusion of a middle ground which is more reasoned, more acceptable, than the non-belief of Atheism. This middle ground has been largely created by theists who seek to undermine the idea that atheism can exist. It is not logical to have no opinion on the subject unless you have given it no thought. I am confused by the concept of finding the existence of god implausible but the reality of belief undeniable. Working through what passes for logic is giving me a head ache but I will try:

Mr Humphrys is asserting he is an agnostic because he finds the existence of god implausible but the reality that people “believe” in god is undeniable so he can’t think of himself as an atheist.

Did I get it right?

It has that wonderful ring of being “true” but it isn’t. Just because lots of other people “believe” something with all their hearts does not mean it is true. For centuries people believed that the Earth was the centre of the solar system, that the solar system was the universe, that stars were ancient warriors, that the gods sat on top of Mount Olympus and interfered with mankind and so on. Not one of these things were true and all the belief in the world will not overturn that.

It strikes me that, although Mr Humphrys describes himself as an “agnostic” and ridicules the idea that children are indoctrinated into religious beliefs, he is suffering from this indoctrination. He (I assume) will certainly agree that lightning is not the result of Zeus’ anger, that Neptune does not control the oceans and Loki is not spreading global mischief. He (again, I assume) will agree that there is a continent across the ocean from Europe, that the Chinese are not devils, that elves do not live in woods, dwarves do not mine gold in the Norse mountains, faeries do not steal Irish children and the tooth fairy is not responsible for the coin under the pillow.

All of these things have at some point been believed to be true by people over the world. All of them. They all have as much evidence for existing as the Christian God. If the existence of belief is proof of existence, then they exist. The existence of the things I mentioned is implausible and unlikely, but this seems not to matter to Mr Humphrys.

I find myself wondering if he really does doubt the existence of god.

On a final note, and getting back to the subject of this diatribe, Mr Humphrys closes with:

As for the fanatics – religious or secular – history suggests they succeed only to the extent that we allow ourselves to be defeated by our own irrational fear. For every fanatic there are countless ordinary, decent people who believe in their own version of a benevolent God and wish no harm to anyone. Many of them regard it as their duty to try to make the world a better place. It is too easy to blame the evils of the world on belief in God. In the end, if we make a mess of things, we shall have ourselves to blame – not religion and not God. After all, he doesn’t exist. Does he?

While I actually agree with the first part of this (and this is why I feel the “fear of Islam” is more worrying than the effects of actual terrorism), he finishes it up by missing the point completely. I know of no atheists who blame god for the world’s troubles. The blame has, at times, been placed on religion which, despite the assertion he closes with, is something he seems to be agreeing with. The people are making a mess of things. They are making a mess of it under the idea that they are working to a higher power and worldly suffering will be followed by a reward in the afterlife. This is the result of religion not secularism.

(I will leave looking at Giles Fraser to others for now but if you have spare time read the comments, they are priceless – even Fr Brian Storey pops up!)

[tags]John Humphrys, Humphrys, Religion, Belief, Christianity, Faith, Delusion, God, Bible, Logic, Fallacy, Strawman, Appeal To Ridicule, Philosophy, Society, Culture, Understanding, Times Online, Logical Fallacy, Confusion, Islam, Monotheism, History, Agnostic, Atheist, Militant Atheist, In God We Doubt, Book[/tags]

If it’s good enough for Dawkins..

This blog has a special fondness for El Morya since Black Sun Journal brought him to our attention. So, what great news on Black Sun Journal that he has a MySpace profile and MySpace friends!

I wrongly assumed that these would be standard imaginary friends of the sort the Internet is full of – invented blog personae for internet marketing blogs that don’t seem to market anything as much as fill cyberspace with empty links to other linkfarms.

But oh joy, these are real blogs to cheer your heart if you are the sort of person who finds humanity too reasonable for your taste (There must be some people who feel that.)

The El Morya MySpace profile has the fantastic El Morya picture. A young looking 99, indeed. imagine you crossed Osama bin Laden’s standard mugshot with a Victorian Sunday school picture of Christ. The profile background sound is sounding suspiciously like Handel’s take on circus music as played on those call-centre answering machine loops that make you want to beat your brains out with the headset.

(Yes, my classical music knowledge is rubbish. It’s probably some tune that everybody recognises. Well, OK, I sort of recognise it. Pomp and Circumstance? Don’t mock. I’m trying to be musically erudite here.)

El Morya’s interests include not very inspiring paintings by Nicolas Roehrich Who? He’s not Raphael that’s for sure, although I seem to remeber that one of El Morya’s cronies is supposed to be Raphael, so you think they could have got him in to do the painting.

I had to visit his MySpace friends. Given a choice between reading the posts and looking at the friends’ profiles, this wasn’t a difficult decision. I decided to stick with the ones with human pictures.

A few bits that give the flavour.
Earthstone Co-creations:

My name is Jennifer Salness, and I am a energy healer, crystal intuitive & dealer, editor, podcast co-host, ETC. Multi-dimensional!

(The exclamation mark so perfectly encapsulates this site.)


In my search for Truth of our origins, I have had some amazing spiritual experiences that has changed my life and view of God and the world forever. I believe in angels. I love to interpret dreams for Spiritual Growth and I practice Gendai-ki Reiki for energy Healing

Lauren other worlds

I am an artist, author, and life-after-death survivor, which might account for the fact that I am also a contactee, a mystic, clairaudient, clairsentient, and more. I have no doubt that we are each great souls having a human experience and it’s my mission to help others remember who they truly are, help others understand that we can learn through enlightenment rather than through pain, and also help eradicate the fear of death and any belief in separation from our own Truths. …..
My nickname is Walks Between Worlds. I’ve been to “the other side” too many times to count, my most extreme “journey” having lasted 3 days.

Look, I’m sorry to be pedantic but that isn’t a nickname. “Yozzer” is a nickname. I defy anyone to shout “Oy! Walks between Worlds!” when they spot a friend across the street.

Anyway, I’m getting bored with the human friends. (And I am becoming a tad embarrassed for my gender.) So I am impressed to see how many divine and mythical beings have MySpace profiles.
Heaven on Earth , Divine Union, Mary Hath Chosen and loads more.

Ah, God. Wow. See, there is a God. And, in the 21st century, even for the divine being, creating a MySpace profile is so much more convenient than carving words onto stone tablets. A lot of us have been feeling a spiritual void since the great Blog of the Gods has fallen out of existence, with no posts since July 11th, so I’ll quote the great man himself here…..

About me:
People call me by many names; Jehovah, Allah, Father, Yahweh, Adoni, Elohim, Ahura Mazda, Hashem, ECT…But most call me God. I’ve been around since before “The Beginning”. I’m a pretty nice guy when you get to know me. But be warned I do have a bit of a temper. A lot of People think that Evolution and science disproves my existence. But see if you got to read the full Bible you’d know that I made several humanoid creatures before I settled on Adam and Eve. And the thing you call the big bang I called “Let there be light.” Anyways. Acknowledge me, Treat others as you want to be treated, be good and we’ll get along fine. Oh and to let you know I’m very busy you’re not the only planet I have to watch over you know. So sometimes my responses to prayers are slow and some time the answers are just no.

Who I’d like to meet: I already know every one. But not everyone knows me …

Wow, it starts off almost paraphrasing the the words of the old Rolling Stones song Sympathy for the Devil But in reverse. (Well, I thought so….)

Blimey God’s friend list is unsurprisingly even more star-studded than El Morya’s; Jesus, St. Michael, Saint Gabriel – Archangel, Archangel Raphael (Ah ha, the ascended Raphael isn’t the painter or the Mutant Ninja Turtle then, my bad), Zoroaster, Moses, Muhammed, the Peace of God be upon him, Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Peter, Saint Paul the Apostle, Buddha, St. Francis of Assisi, Saint Joseph, Shiva, GANESH, Tara, kuan yin, Krishna, Kali-Ma, Saint Germain, Babaji, ENKI, (who?) Tenzin Gyatso. (who?)

Is that A list or what?

Wow, Christians really are weird…

As a result of growing up with an entirely secular background, in (at the time anyway) the very secular United Kingdom, there is a large part of me which refuses to accept that people like the posters on Teens4Christ really exist. This part of me is convinced they are just trolls, or kids who are living out a fantasy life which is a sanitised version of Dungeons and Dragons or the like.

By chance, following a link on FSTDT, I came across a thread which purports to be a poll asking atheists what they would do if they were possessed by demons. Seriously. The choices given were basically exorcism & convert to Christianity, exorcism but don’t convert, no exorcism and become friends with the demon/devil and no exorcism but don’t become friends. The choices, if honestly presented, give a scary insight into the mind of the “teen” who made this post. Bring back D&D, that’s all I can say…

To highlight my point about the sheer off-the-wall nutjobbery, this is what the conversation degenerated to: First a post by Esther:

oh my goodness I just heard on the news that a man was caught choking a three year-old girl and I guess they were doing an exerocism on her. thats so awful! I know demons are real but whenever someone says they see an angel or demon I always think there crazy. angels appeared to people all the time in the olden days in the bible so I shouldnt think that but would you guys believe if you heard someone on the news who said an angel talked to them?

And then Follower (who initiated the thread) replies with:

That’s what’s tough about Demon possessions. You have to make sure the person doesn’t have a mental condition first. Otherwise, Holy water and chanting won’t help.

Mentalists. I can only assume this is a debate between pre-teens in the manner of how secular kids will discuss if Ninjas can fight Batman. (Reassuringly, later on Follower states he is not yet of college age, hopefully some education will eventually rub off on him.)

Sadly, there is one poster, rch10007 apparently adult and mature enough to be an admin there, who seems to demonstrate that there is little chance this “younglings” will change with age. [tags]Logical Fallacy, Logic, Philosophy, Society, Culture, Atheism, Christianity, Belief, God, Anti-Atheist, Exorcism, Demons, D&D, Role Playing Games, Dungeons and Dragons, Fantasy, Ninjas, Madness, Woo, Nonsense, Weird, Possession, Catholic, Hatstand[/tags]

Fundamentalist Newton?

The Boston Globe has an article purporting to show that Newton believed in Intelligent design so he couldn’t possibly get a decent post in a modern university.

They reach this conclusion via a mode of rhetoric that makes you want to chew your own arm off. It’s like one of those long drawn out jokes in which the punchline is supposed to come as shock.

That is, they characterise the beliefs of an unknown professor in a succession of paragraphs that are supposed to make you think he’s a real extremist fundamentalist.

Not many modern universities are prepared to employ a science professor who espouses not merely “intelligent design” but out-and-out divine creation.

Of course, Dawkins’s name gets drawn in, Dawkins somehow having the ultimate say over all academic appointments in the fundy worldview. Continue reading

Chain Letters

Now that I am back online, I am suffering from the mountains of chain emails my “friends” send me, thinking I am actually interested in reading some nonsense about how sending this email to 10 people in 1/10th of a second will make my wish come true.

I have found one which is strangely interesting – but, I suspect, not for the reasons the originator wanted. The “Friend” who sent it to me is some one I have not seen face to face for about 10 years now and (based on the other emails they send me), they have either been born again or think I am. Pretty amazing really.

Anyway, the email, titled “Wow, what a wake up call,” reads: (it is long, so it is after the fold)

Continue reading

Perils of Faith

Well it seems Toutatis does indeed work in mysterious ways. After reading, and responding to a post which chastised this blog and Atheists in general, for concentrating on attacking Christianity, I stumbled upon an article in the Daily Mail which managed to shock even my jaded mindset.

On the off chance some of you are faint hearted, I should warn you the original article has a some pictures which could be construed as quite shocking although given the subject matter they could be worse. If you visit the Mail article please be aware of this and don’t come crying to me afterwards.

The Daily Mail carries an item about a 17 year old girl who was beaten to death (in Northern Iraq) by her family, while “hundreds” [according to the Mail] of onlookers cheered and shouted support of the murderers. In typical Daily Mail writing style the article begins:

Continue reading

The Commenters Delusion

I was toying with the Blind Commenter as a title, but decided it would be too obvious 🙂 . I have been reading some of the opinion blogs on the Times today, which is always enjoyable. The main three have been two by Ruth Gledhill (On Dawkins and on Scientology), and thanks to Nullifidian’s blog, I read one by William Rees-Mog, again on Dawkins. As is often the case the columns, being written by sensible journalists, are well presented (with the exception of Rees-Mog but he is different kettle of fish) and the arguments are structured.

Fortunately, for me, the same most certainly can not be said about the people who leave comments. Yes, some are sane and balanced, but others range from mildly confused to massively off the deep end. In this post, I will look at some of the more pertinent comments and explain why I think they are at least a little, ahem, confused.

Continue reading

Who did design the designer?

I have been reading through some theist (predominantly Christian) blogs which have discussed the televised debate. Oddly, most theists went well for them, so I can only assume I am now living in an alternate dimension and no longer interact with the real world.

One recurring theme (and I am not going to link to the sites as there are a lot and I don’t want any of them to get hits from this blog!) I have found is the argument from design and it’s counter argument of “who designed the designer.” A majority of the theist blogs seem to think the argument from design is a solid bit of logic which supports the existence of God. Yeah, I was surprised as well. Oddly, when they discuss the counter argument ( “who designed God?” ) in every one of the instances it is dismissed without an answer. An example of the dismissal read “This told me I was watching a debate broadcast for people who have never studied these arguments before.”

Now, while I am sure it is good to have a cutting remark or two like that saved for future reference, it fails to answer the question. I have studied the arguments and yet to see anything, other than special pleading, which explains the need to have a designer who was not designed.

Does anyone know the answer to the question? (Without special pleading, of course).

On a slightly related topic, if you haven’t already done so, I strongly suggest you visit a website called “Proof that God Exists.” It is so funny it must be a joke.

[tags]Theism, Religion, Belief, Atheism, Philosophy, Logic, Logical Fallacy, Special Pleading, Nutters, God, Culture, Madness[/tags]

Ray Comfort – Did I miss something?

Amazingly, it seems not everyone thinks Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron made fools of themselves during the debate with the “Rational Response Squad.” It has been mentioned on this blog, Nullfidian’s Blog and Pharyngula if you want to read more / watch the footage.

I should point out, the footage is painful. Comfort / Cameron are broadly clueless and debate in the style of 10 year olds (as do the RRS, but at least they are young and enthusiastic). Comfort claims to be able to prove the existence of God without using the bible, but opens the book pretty much every time. The whole crux of the theist argument is an appeal to fear. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Oddly, despite this, some theists think Comfort did well. Seriously. And more than one theist crackpot thinks this… On the Shepherds Scrapbook site, the post begins:

Ray Comfort’s “debate” happened this afternoon (watch here). I’m at least very thankful for his presentation of the gospel message, although he said he would not open his Bible.

Amazing really. Theists are wonderful creatures, I just don’t think I can eat one whole.

[tags]Atheism, Belief, Theism, God, Religion, Debate, Rational Response Squad, Christians, Bible, Philosophy, Society, Culture, Logic, Arguments, Logical Fallacy, Kirk Cameron, Ray Comfort, Stupidity, Woo[/tags]

Science and Religion?

(*Update: it seems while I was writing this, the post I am discussing vanished from the Savvygeek site – it may have been posted in error, but I think the comments made in it were common enough that they can be addressed anyway*)

There seems some debate recently about reconciling science and religion (or even if some thing is possible). For the record, this is something I have no major issue over, religion is (to me) nonsense so if scientists want to be religious it is no different than if they think socks and sandals look cool. I also see no driving reason for science and religion to be “reconciled,” nor do I have any idea how such a thing can take place.

Today I came across a post on Savvygeek called “Religion Vs Science” which made some points which intrigued me. Broadly the post is saying: Continue reading

Arrogant Idiocy

Well there is a rant brewing, but sadly here in the Ivory Why Dont You Towers we are short on spare time so I can not do justice to a video posted by what seems to be the single most objectionable person I have ever had the misfortune to see. PZ Myers has posted on Pharyngula about it and pretty much says everything which needs to be said. Check it out for the full details.

In a nutshell, this snotty, arrogant kid called Kelly Tripplehorn (snope entry for background) has posted a video in which he claims his “corporation” will offer US$1000 to anyone who can solve the philosophical problem of Induction. Yeah, that is correct. $1000. Wow. Alfred Nobel, eat your heart out. Barely enough to buy a low end laptop to solve one of the major philosophical problems.

To crown things off, the nutcase Tripplehorn goes on about how “he” solves the problem by invoking God. What absolute madness. He demands a reasonable, self consistent, internally logical argument from Atheists but not his own reasoning.

I would like to go on record, having noted his only requirement is “without invoking God” to say the problem is solved, and the universe is logical and ordered because it is the will of Freya. She is neither the Abrahamic God Tripplehorn talks about, nor a generic “God” (as she is a Goddess…).

I await the US$1000. Hopefully I can use it to buy a new SatNav…

Varnishing the truth

I was wondering whether scepticism might have become too much of a habit with me, yesterday.

I suffered a wholly-predictable fake vitiligo ill effect, through ignoring the “wear gloves” warning on a can of floor varnish. Plus, I suffered the loss of what would have been a 25 to 1 return on a small investment, when I ignored the Grand National tip given to me by a drunk in the street. So I woke up this morning feeling that a bit more willful gullibility might profit me.

However, reading an old post on Deep Thoughts about unconvincing arguments for the existence of god, I was forced back to my natural state. Mojoey reckoned that the argument about having a had personal experience of god was

.. my personal favorite because I hear it the most, and what can you say? So they talked to god…

This brings up my own ideas about personal experience of transcendence. To which I am going to subject you, sorry. Continue reading

I’m channelling God

The God channel, Euro version, is one of the delights that Virgin Media haven’t let fall off the list. It’s too easy a target but I’m not constrained by any rules of engagement here. The only other channel that managed to be simultaneously comic, mindnumbing and stomach-turning was the Fashion Channel and that seems to have gone.

Between the theologically incomprehensible Jewish Voice and the hypnotically tedious In Touch, presented by the pastor of some Atlanta Baptist Church, there is an awesome advert for an event for the Easter weekend, being held at Kingsway International Christian Centre (KICC.)

Massively oversized strongmen wearing tight Lycra patterned costumes. (I thought they were wearing US flags but that may be a false memory, caused by the traumatic effect of exposure to ten minutes of Jewish Voice.) Very garish stage and stage effects and loud music. You see them doing typical World’s Strongest Man feats – smashing through towers of breeze blocks with their bare hands and so on.

I am utterly baffled by the connection, here. Christian Centre & (unlikely to be 100% “natural”) Strong Men?

Except maybe it’s “These dudes could do some serious smiting. Beware godless hordes.”

Theistic Follow Up

Previously I made a post which examined the logic (or lack thereof) in a post made on parabiodox. Today I see there has been a follow up post that addresses some of the “issues” I made, so I think it is only fair that I (in turn) address some of the new comments.

First off, I have to say “thank you” to parabiodox for his reasonable, and generally kind comments. I am flattered. The blog post begins:

This is a very readable, calm and intelligent response to a rather bombastic blog entry from me.
Of course the only reason I wrote it was I was hoping that someone would come along and write the kind of response that Why Dont You Blog? has provided.
Myself I do indulge in a bit of calm and measured article writing once in a while, but what’s wrong with a bit of mud-slinging as well ? Variety is the spice of life I think.

I couldn’t agree with the sentiment here more. There is nothing wrong with a bit of mud-slinging and, to me, the reason people blog is to get issues of their chest. At least this way no one gets hurt (unless they are very thin skinned..). Blogs would be boring places indeed if people did not rant, rave and froth every now and then.

Talking of mud-slinging I did detect a bit of it in the article Theistic Logic, the implication being that this is the way all theists think, of course as I know only too well it definately isn’t.

This, I am not to sure about. Where ever possible I try to avoid stereotyping people into a particular school of thought, and I certainly pounce on it when people try to do it to me, so I hope this is an interpretation issue more than anything else. Looking back on the previous post, the closest example I can find is when I begin “Sadly this is an infuriating example of the theistic line of logic.”

Now, that was never intended to mean it was the way all “theists” think – but it is a common fallacy which is used in many, many, blog posts where theists refer to atheists. Parabiodox continues:

The blog entry was parabiodox thinking, and there’s only one member of that particular philosophy to date.

While that is reassuring, ( 🙂 ) it is not completely accurate. IMHO most blog posts only speak for the line of thought adopted by the person who made the post, however this is a line of thought which is echoed across dozens of blogs (and is often found in the comments section on atheist blogs). While parabiodox does indeed seem to follow a unique philosophy, the fallacies in this particular post are reasonably common.

Theistic Logic

(or lack thereof). The joys of Technorati have brought me to a post on parabiodox today, titled “Moderate Christians, Fundamentalists and Atheists (where’s the connection?)”

Sadly this is an infuriating example of the theistic line of logic. Obviously when I say logic, I mean fallacies…

The post (in full) reads:

Wednesday, March 21, 2007 Ignorant and Proud Labels: rants

“One does not have to be a fundamentalist to put a Jesus fish on one’s car. Some of those who do so are certainly fundamentalists, but many more would better be described as moderate Christians. And yet, they share at least something with the fundamentalists – some degree of pride in their faith (i.e., their belief of something without evidence).”

Also shared with the Atheist faith of course, if you accept the author’s premise.

But of course there’s a lot more evidence for the existence of Jesus than there is for the non-existence of God.

Now, for so little words there is so much “illogic.” Starting with the first sentence: There is no such thing as the “Atheist faith.” It is meaningless. Any argument surrounding such comments is crying out to be accused of woo.

The second sentence is interesting – mainly in the way it is constructed. I actually know people called Jesus so I agree there is a lot of evidence that Jesus exists. If we are talking about a Jewish carpenter, 2000 years ago then I am also happy to accept that Jesus existed. The important issue is: Was this Jesus the Son of God (while being God at the same time)?

Now here the evidence retreats to the land of woo. What “evidence” is there that this Jesus is the son of God?

In addition to this, the argument uses a fairly blatant form of fallacy (False Dilemma). It tries to present the existence of Jesus and the non-existence of God as the two opposing sides with the implication that proving the existence of Jesus falsifies claims of the non-existence of God. This is nonsense.

There is more evidence for the existence of Reindeer than for the non-existence of Santa, therefore there is a Santa Clause. Evidence for the non-existence of something which doesn’t exist is notoriously hard to come by (what evidence is there that the tooth fairy, unicorns, floating teapots etc dont exist?). In general terms, what is required is evidence that something exists. The more fantastic the claim, the stronger the supporting evidence has to be for it to be accepted. Unless of course you are a devout theist, when no evidence is required for belief…

[tags]Religion, Theist, Theism, Christian, Christianity, Belief, Philosophy, Logic, Logical fallacies, Rants, Society, Culture, Atheism, Atheist, Evidence, Faith, Jesus Christ, God, Fundamentalist, Santa Claus[/tags]