Friday, February 8, 2013

Adventures at CARM - I am an atheist. I don't believe in God


Chipmunk eating
I've been digging through carm.org for curiosity's sake. So far, these are the episodes of my adventures:

Today I'm tackling the objection/answer "I am an atheist. I don't believe in God"
An atheist is defined primarily in two senses:  Someone who says he believes there is no God, and someone who simply lacks belief in God.  An atheist cannot rationally say he knows there is no God, because he would have to know all things in order to know if there is or isn't a God.  If he says he believes there is no God, ask him why he believes that way, and begin there.  If he says he lacks belief in God, then ask what he does believe in, and start there.
Actually, that's not a bad start. I basically agree with him. To claim knowledge (something that is demonstrably true) about the non-existence of a thing would be basically impossible to pull off. I find that position to be wholly irrational.

On the other hand, I can say that I think the god claims are bunk, probably in the same way that Slick would think that faeries, dragons, Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster are bunk. We see people making such things up all the time, with a lot of attempts at evidence, but usually finding out they are hoaxes.

Ultimately, my position is that the claim that a god exists is currently undemonstrated.

The only bit I'd disagree with is the last sentence - asking a non-believer what he/she does believe in. I'm not sure how that's relevant.

If I started saying, "I believe in rotating my crops every year so that the plants I'm trying to grow don't ruin their own soil year after year", that wouldn't really be relevant to any theological debate.

The final sentence should be "If he says he lacks belief in God, provide the evidence, because you have the burden of proof."

Ironically, despite starting off on basically the right foot, this is the point of no return into Incoherent Gibberish Land for this article. From here, we descend into madness.

I always get around to the question of, "How did we get here?"  Since creation and evolution are the only options, I have something further to work with.
Uh what? No, this isn't a true dichotomy just because you say so.

First, he appears to be lumping together cosmology, abiogenesis and evolution into just "evolution." That's incorrect. Second, can he prove that there are no other possibilities? Wouldn't that be as arrogant as the atheist who claims that there is no God?

If his position is that these are two positions that we know of, that'd be more honest, but still be wrong. Which "creation"? From which religion? Given that abiogenesis/evolution are essentially umbrella terms for basic concepts, there could be more than one way that abiogenesis, for instance, could happen. It's possible there's 3rd, 4th and 5th possibilities that we haven't even thought of yet.

So no, no true dichotomy. Not yours.

Let's say for argument that the current concepts of evolution and abiogenesis are wrong...

Now demonstrate that god/creationism are true. You actually need to provide positive evidence.

I won't hold my breath.

An agnostic says he doesn't know if there is or isn't a God.
Yay, semantics again.

I'm an agnostic atheist. I don't know and I don't believe. The atheist who claims to know there's no God - that'd be a "gnostic atheist".

I'll ignore his usage of the word "agnostic" because he's literally talking about the vast majority of self-described atheists, who find the "atheist" metric more useful for identification than the gnostic/agnostic metric (most theists are agnostic too).

(Usually after saying this I challenge them to explain the prophecies of the Old Testament fulfilled in the New
Logical Fallacy Detected: Argument from Ignorance
Logical Fallacy Detected: Circular reasoning - Bible confirming the Bible

I state how the Bible is unique that way, and that only God can make prophecies that are 100% accurate.
Logical Fallacy Detected: Argument from Ignorance

Then I ask him to explain how that could be done if there is no God.)
Logical Fallacy Detected: Argument from Ignorance

Power rangers with multiple explosions around them
Power Rangers!

Oh wow! I just got slammed by a "volley of AfIs".

I don't buy for a second that the bible made 100% accurate predictions. I've heard many apologists take this route, and typically what I hear is a combination of one or more of the following:

  • Incredibly vague, temporally unbounded (no expiration date) claims that could easily be retrofitted to match any number of things in history.
  • Claims that are spun and manipulated, definitions that are stretched beyond recognition, all in a desperate attempt to make it sound good.
  • Sharpshooter Fallacies
  • Prompted fullfillments.
Let me explain what I mean by the last one.

If I go to a restaurant and order a hamburger, does it take magic to figure out that I'm probably going to get it? Do I need a universe-creating pixie to inform me of this?

When you have an old book that makes a lot of claims about the future, the book's followers can, and often do, try to make them come true. Like before, these "prompted fullfillments" of supposed prophesies can come true without any magic/god involved. That's what tends to happen when the prophesies are common knowledge, and you have a slew of people who are grasping at straws to try to make their religious beliefs seem relevant.

When Slick says "I ask him to explain how that could be done if there is no God", we have a term of that.

"A staggeringly cataclysmic failure of imagination."

Just because he can't think of any other ways (or even everyone else) doesn't mean his argument from ignorance stands. This particular logical failure is more specifically an "Argument from Personal Incredulity."

Further, let's say, for the sake of argument, that the Bible does indeed have exacting prophecies that are detailed down to the hour with exact names and places, and with detailed scientific information that would make modern science blush. What could we then conclude?

Well, here's some possibilities:
  • A universe-creating all-knowing entity dropped us a memo.
  • Time travelers from the future.
  • Aliens who can maybe see into the future.
Slick essentially decides to pluck his favorite ludicrous answer out of a hat with no rhyme or reason. It's lunacy especially since the latter two options make fewer assumptions and violate less known laws of reality. They are therefore more likely, as per Occam's Razor.

This is Slick's A-game? Here he was, addressing an atheist, and he had the opportunity to come out swinging with flaming fists of Accurate Knowledge. This is what he chose? This is the best he's got?

It's no wonder he has such a difficult time convincing anyone who doesn't already buy into his superstitious bullshit.

Assuming the Bible did make those 100% accurate predictions, my position would be that we don't know how that came to be, because we have insufficient evidence to support a claim. That's what rational people do.

An argument from ignorance is the absolute bottom of the barrel in terms of quality of logical fallacies. It's literally saying "we don't know, therefore, we know." The only way that he could have constructed a more irrational and illogical argument is if it was complete non-sequitur - incoherent gibberish. Something like "God is real because mushrooms mowing the law SINE WAVE what's going on rock"

... and this was his A-game.

If there is no God as you say, then in the end I lose nothing. But if there is a God like I say, in the end you lose everything.
Nice. He decides to top off his volley of arguments from ignorance with the single dumbest argument ever conceived (covered this last time).

It's telling. A plethora of logical fallacies, and then followed up by emotional manipulation and threats.

That's what you do when you run out of actual evidence.

Why don't you believe in God?
Insufficient evidence. Threatening me doesn't qualify.

Is there any reason for you to intelligently reject His existence?
Is there any reason for you to intelligently reject the existence of a trans-galactic inter dimensional space-banana that's coming to consume us in one million years?

Nice loaded language - "reject", huh? From my perspective, there's no existence to "reject". What I reject is the "evidence" that's been put forth, typically failing due to one or more problems, like failing to meet the standards of evidence, or having logical fallacies at their core (see "fulfilled prophesies").

My intelligent reason for not believing is due to the theists having not met their burden of proof.

Or, do you simply desire not to believe in Him?
I have no such desire. My desire is to ensure that what I believe is accurate. I want to maximize how many true things I believe, and minimize how many false things I believe.

If someone successfully points out that I'm taking something on faith, I will, without mercy or compunction, hunt down that unsupported belief and stomp it flat. Faith is one of the dumbest things one can have, and I will have none of it bouncing around in my mind, degrading and corroding my capacity to think clearly.

This requires a process - one that is demonstrably effective at accurately determining the truth.

If you'd like me to consider an alternative epistemological framework, you'll have to define it, and then demonstrate that it works consistently.

The Bible doesn't attempt to prove that God exists. It simply speaks as though He does. 
I noticed that. It annoys the shit out of me. I'm reading through the damn thing saying "... evidence? ... evidence... please? Whoa, yet more unsupported claims! Nice!"

Maybe I can't prove to you there is a God, but I can introduce Him to you through His Son Jesus Christ
I take it you've:
  1. Demonstrated that Jesus was a real person
  2. Demonstrated that Jesus had supernatural powers
  3. Demonstrated that Jesus has any kind of relation to a supernatural unvierse-creating entity
Unless you meet all three of these requirements, introducing me to your silly book of fairy tales is not bound to convince me of such an absurd claim.

and you can judge for yourself if the Words of Christ in the Bible convince you of His existence.
I've read it. Heck, I have it on audiobook. I have three copies on my shelf. When I work, I typically listen to podcasts. Sometimes I'll switch to the the audiobook. I also got the Qu'ran audiobook, but the production quality is far less interesting (Jordi La'forge is a regular voice actor on the Bible one).

I'm not convinced. 

Like I said, it appears to be a book that doesn't relate to reality that much, that makes long sequences of ridiculous absurd nonsensical unevidenced claims. I find Jesus's teachings to be wanting, if not downright problematic and harmful at times.


So let's sum up. I'm an atheist who doesn't believe in God, and Slick's answer is:
  1. Bombardment with idiotic arguments from ignorance.
  2. Emotional manipulation and threats
  3. "Read the Bible - it'll warp your mind until you discard logic, reason, epistemology and critical thinking to the point where you'll start believing something that has a deafening void of any supporting evidence!"
Got it!

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