Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Christian Response to Atheism Pt 1

Strange as it may sound, my "mission statement" on this blog is not to try to "convert people to atheism." To posit atheism as a goal just sounds... bizarre.

I'll often use the phase "case study" when examining some apologetics, which denotes what my mission actually is - to try to raise awareness and education about epistemology and science, and to a lesser degree, raise awareness about secular issues. Studying and breaking down apologetic arguments, I think is a fun, and productive way to understand the process - where we get things right, or wrong.

I just tend to think that with a hardy understanding of basic epistemology, critical thinking, logical fallacies, etc, that right now atheism is the most reasonable position. As of today, as far as I'm aware, insufficient evidence is available to support the claim that anything supernatural exists, including any god(s). My atheism isn't an "adherence to a philosophy" or "joining a club". I don't believe because the theists haven't successfully made their case.

My goal is to be correct, whatever my beliefs may be.

In another forum, this video was posted. It's of a Christian apologist accusing The Atheist Experience of fallacies and absurdities. I think it's an interesting case study, because he seems to think his arguments are slam-dunks. Yet, when I hear his arguments, they're practically gibberish.

This is the video he watched (and seems to think the 4 minute clip is the entire show):



Here's his response, which I've been working on transcribing - so you know I'm not making up the transcriptions, although I don't guarantee total accuracy. Any transcription errors are unintentional:


The transcriptions are cleaned up a bit, not including every "um" or "uh", and removing garble. The quotes may end prematurely, since I might have stopped transcribing when I felt he was digressing too much.

Here are the objections and responses he raises...

Hosts asking caller to support the claim that a god exists

The caller began by asking the hosts how they know Jesus/God isn't real - clearly, shifting the burden of proof. They ask the caller how he knows God does exist.

This is what the video response guy... let's call him Bob... says about it.
You live on a ball (called Earth) spinning 60000 miles per hour, governed by laws, and universe governed by laws. The planet is full of highly complex life, including DNA strands and flagellum motors, which are inside of DNA, and are highly complex machines. The whole world is full of highly complex life. The whole world and universe is governed by laws. It all didn't just come from nothing. Just the Earth that you're living on - itself demonstrates that He [God] is - it is right in front of your face, and even if - and the Bible even says as much - that is, you won't be able to deny it on Judgement Day because as soon as you open your eyes, the evidence that he is is right in front of you. But these people [The Atheist Experience] won't allow you to use the Bible - "You can't use the Bible! You can't use that - that won't do you any good - you can't use any scripture" - that's one of their rules, these geniuses that are terrified of scriptural truth.  
Yes, that's his response to the question as to how we would know God exists.

Let's pry this apart a bit, shall we?
You live on a ball (called Earth) spinning 60000 miles per hour, governed by laws, and universe governed by laws. The planet is full of highly complex life, including DNA strands and flagellum motors, which are inside of DNA, and are highly complex machines. The whole world is full of highly complex life. The whole world and universe is governed by laws.
Outside of a few factual errors, such as that our revolution around the sun is about 60,000 miles per hour, not how fast we're "spinning"... yes, the universe exists, it has laws, and there's life, and a lot of it is complex.

... and?

Maybe I can use a few pages Cat Facts to prove that Cthulhu is real.

I can't even follow his line of reasoning. He states some facts... and therefore, God? This argument would only work if we're presupposing that these things could only be real if there was a god - a presupposition without merit.

He continues...
It all didn't just come from nothing. 
While the previous part of his response was essentially relying on an unstated presupposition, he's now setting up a false dichotomy - either it came from nothing, or God is real. Since something can't come from nothing, therefore God is real.

Now, he didn't explicitly elaborate it like that, but that's basically where this line of argumentation goes.

My position is that I don't know how it all started. It may be a natural phenomenon, it might not be. As we're talking about a context (the Big Bang) that is so extreme and bizarre, it may just be true that something can come from nothing - we don't know. All our regular concepts of reality fly out the window at the supposed singularity.

The possibilities are endless. If he wishes us to consider his one asserted explanation (God) as true, he needs to actually demonstrate it.
Just the Earth that you're living on - itself demonstrates that He [God] is - it is right in front of your face...
Yeah, see, it doesn't work like that. We can take the claim:

The existence of Earth demonstrates that God exists.

And simply replace "God" with "an unintelligent natural mechanism that produces planets", and we get this:

The existence of Earth demonstrates that an unintelligent natural mechanism that produces planets exists.

In fact, we could replace "God" with "Allah", "Darth Vader", "Supernatural Cacti" ... anything, and the argument would equally support them all. You can't use the existence of a thing to support something else that you've just asserted as its cause.

As a rule of thumb, if the "evidence" you've provided equally supports contradictory claims... the evidence is crap.
... and even if - and the Bible even says as much - that is, you won't be able to deny it on Judgement Day because as soon as you open your eyes, the evidence that he is is right in front of you.
First, the Bible has no merit with me (more of this comes up later).

Second, this is sort of a Pascal's Wager deformed argument. Fine, when I'm presented with the evidence on Judgement Day, Rise of the Machines, then I'll be intellectually justified in believing it.

... Not a second before.
But these people [The Atheist Experience] won't allow you to use the Bible - "You can't use the Bible! You can't use that - that won't do you any good - you can't use any scripture" - that's one of their rules, these geniuses that are terrified of scriptural truth. 
This is where he starts to digress a bit more, so I'll probably cover it in those sections.

But no, that's not terror you're seeing. It's annoyance at yet another caller who thinks his "Lord of the Rings" book describes real events, and whatever it says is true.... that kind of "scriptural truth"?

Response to Caller quoting Romans and the Captain Kirk quote

Russell Glasser coined the Star Trek Rule:
Before quoting the Bible to atheists, always ask yourself whether the same statement would be just as effective in your mind if you were quoting Captain Kirk.
It's a fairly simple concept. When the caller started quoting from Romans, Matt (the host) rebutted, "And Captain Kirk said 'What does God need with a Starship?'", to try to convey this point that atheists don't find merit with what the Bible says, just because the Bible says it.

Bob objects to this, even though he repeatedly gets the quote wrong (Bob needs to put on his listening ears, I've found).
The guy on the phone didn't even get the chance to finish reading halfway through the scripture, and the rude and obnoxious atheist guy on this program was like "And Captain Kirk said God doesn't need a spaceship", and then the woman sitting next to him - she's like rain woman okay - she's like rain woman - she's like "yeah yeah definitely yeah [garbled - depicting a "yes woman"]". I'm telling you, that's what she reminds me of. Anyway, I'm not usually this brazen but this really sort of made my skin crawl - and I kind of resent having to sit through it, but I was encouraged to respond do it.  
He kinda didn't even address it... the point sailed clear over his head.

That woman, who he spent so much time mocking, is a retired Lt. Col / helicopter pilot / engineer. She'd engineer circles around this guy, with a radius within +/- 1mm.

It's not easy to shove Matt aside when he's on a tear, either.

Response to the repeated claim by the hosts that quoting the Bible won't get the caller anywhere

The hosts were trying to say that atheists aren't simply going to believe Christians because they quote the Bible. Most atheists aren't convinced of things this way, so when trying to explain this to the caller, the hosts would say "quoting the Bible won't get you anywhere".

Bob objects, mostly because he completely misunderstands the hosts' point.
So according to the Bible is not allowed? So you can say anything you want - any absurd notion you want - any reference of anything you want to use - whether you make it up from thin air - and your own opinions - and whatever else, and you can make your own claims of so-called science, but people who call in aren't allowed to use scripture? Oh, so that is the one thing that is against the rules? Scripture, no - ... - you can see the terror, you can see the denial of Biblical truth all over their face. They were trying to deny it, they were trying to act brilliant ... 
At no point did the hosts say it wasn't allowed. That part he just made up.

Bible quotes are going to be as compelling to atheists, as a Muslim saying Allah is real because the Qu'ran says so, would be to Bob.

Unless he's a telepath, no, it's not terror. It's frustration. Yet another person has decided to waste what little time we have left in life, reciting sequences of words from a book of fiction, as though it was factually valid.

I don't particularly care to play this game where each side is asserting what's going on in the head of the other. His claiming that we're in denial about "Biblical truth", and are terrified of it, is about as legitimate as my claiming that he's frightened and in denial about science.

We'd both make counter claims, and we'd both reject the others' claim. No progress is made. At that point, it's just mud-slinging.

Response to hosts asking why they should care what the Bible says

I was going to cut Bob some slack here, until I re-listened to the AE clip. I've watched enough episodes to know that was Matt was asking is why atheists should regard the Bible as true. He just sometimes phrases it in terms of "why should we care?"  The former question (the truth of the Bible) is the more important one, but Bob goes off on a tear about the "why should we care?" question instead - the lesser relevant one.

The reason why I can't cut him any slack is because the immediate preceding sentence Matt spoke, before asking this one, was "quoting the Bible won't get you anywhere because you haven't demonstrated why anyone should consider the Bible to be true or authoritative."

The context was unambiguous.
Why should you care what the Bible says? Let's see - you're refuting the Bible. You're refuting the truth of the Bible. You're refuting the God of the Bible. You're refuting anyone who calls and tries to bring the scripture, talking about scripture. Your whole show - The Atheist Experience - is to come against a - reject, and deny the existence of God - the God of the Bible - that is your objective. It is painfully obvious. You might want to deny it. You might want to make up all kinds of things you can say is the reason for your show, but the bottom line is there really is no way to get around it - ... - is that you are at war and coming against the God of the Bible. So maybe you should care what the Bible says, if you want to try to refute the God of the said Bible. What'd you think - you think that might be a good thing? Huh. Maybe you haven't read it. And if you have read it, you wouldn't be so intimidated, and so fearful that somebody quoting some scripture for you to respond to. Know what I mean?
I agree that, on a basic level, if we're addressing Christians in our society, it helps to be familiar with the core dogma that comprises their Christianity. Similarly, we should care about what the Qu'ran says, or the Bhagavad Gita.

The rest of his response was just empty accusations.

Matt read it. I've read most of it. I don't find the Bible terrifying, as much as I find the idea that people believe it, paralyzingly terrifying.

---

I got about halfway through the video. Maybe he'll have less inane things to say in the second half.


No comments:

Post a Comment