March 31, 2021

Arguing with Idiots Atheist Edition

Timothy Birdnow

An argument erupted on Facebook with a smug atheist. First, Bob Clasen says:

Religious people have done bad things, therefore all religion is nonsense. True or false? Instead of "religious people” substitute any other kind of people, like scientific or political or philosophical or sports or educational or entertainment industry or musicians.

Jennifer sneers:

Strawman. No one makes this argument. The actual argument is that religion is irrational nonsense that pressures people to do bad things BECAUSE it is irrational nonsense.

Or, as Steven Weinburg put it, "With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.”

Lance Sjogren replies:

Jennifer SnowReligion has also led people who lived a destructive life to adopt a moral life that uplifts them and those around them. I am nonreligious myself, and since I believe in reason, I feel the need to speak up when religiophobes make ludicrous derogatory generalizations about religion.

Jennifer fires back:

Bob ClasenIrrationality is not found in WHAT someone claims but the means by which they claim to KNOW it. I can claim the sky is blue because a sparkly fairy shoots moon juice at it and the claim is irrational even though, yes, it's TRUE that the sky is blue.

Religion is irrational because it is not based on facts but on claims that have no foundation. It doesn't matter what it tells you to do or not do, the problem is that there is no evidence whatsoever for the source of the claims.

And no, "stuff exists and I don't know why" is NOT evidence for an all-powerful creator any more than my socks going missing is evidence of gremlins. NOT knowing something is the OPPOSITE of evidence.
The fact that evil people act in the name of religion does not mean that religion does NOT promote evil entirely on its own any more than the fact that since some people excuse their bad actions as a result of drunkenness means that being drunk can encourage you to act poorly. Both can be true at the same time.

Bob Clasen replies:

Timothy BirdnowWell even though I don't agree with Snow's schtick, it can be argued that those regimes had their own religion. Atheism is itself a religion. In my view, Wokeism is a religion. And example of the evil type of religion, one which dehumanizes people and promotes authoritarianism. I also believe there are good religions. As well as religions that have good and bad elements as well as good and bad factions.

I respond:

Jennifer replies:

Mockery is not an argument nor a claim--calling someone a hypocrite doesn't even mean that what they claim isn't true. It means that THEY don't BELIEVE it's true, since their actions don't match their claims.

Mocking hypocrisy is a poor attack on an ideology because, yes, just pointing out someone is a hypocrite doesn't indicate WHY they were a hypocrite. It could be an error of knowledge. It could be deliberate evasion. You don't know just from the action what the error involved was.

However, when someone's only claim is "you must believe this or do this because I said so", no better attack is required, because there's nothing TO attack. There's no evidence to refute, no reasoning to pick apart. The claim is arbitrary and should be dismissed as such, with the added seasoning that the person making the arbitrary claim clearly doesn't even believe it themselves.

Lance SjogrenAtheism is not a religion. It is not even an ideology. It is a LACK of religious ideology. Atheists believe all kinds of things, from the hardcore rational to incredible flakes. The only thing they have in common is a lack of religion.

Calling Atheism a religion is as idiotic as saying that an orange is a pear because it's not an apple.

Fitz Grisly much like religious apologists, hence its appropriateness
. Seriously, any high schooler would be embarrassed by the level of logic on display here. If you're going to try to defend religion, at least have the good taste to pull out some high quality arguments instead of repeating the half-baked illogical crap that any rational person could refute in their sleep.

I respond:

Excellent point Bob Clasen; there are all manner of religions, even those that claim to be nnn-religions. Richard Dawkins, the ultimate atheist, once admitted his religion was scientism, a mystical belief in science that is not justified by reason.

That is where Jennifer Snow's argument above is wrong - and in fact irrational. There are all manner of acts of faith taken when accepting "science" or "reason". The argument that the idea of God creating the Universe is irrational is dwarfed by the irrationality of a universe which created itself. And some of the things in quantum physics and cosmology require huge acts of faith. The Many Worlds hypothesis, for example, was created primarily to get away from the Anthropic Principle (which says the Universe is uniquely tailored to our needs), which is a strong argument for the existence of God. So, it's better to believe in an infinite number of universes so as to be able to explain how THIS universe is so conveniently fitted to our needs rather than say there is a deity who created it with us in mind?

Also, it has always been recognized that there is more than one type of reasoning. The atheists employ inductive alone, because they do not believe in knowledge that is inherent. But that was the basis of the United States, that some truths are "self-evident" and Natural Law "Nature and Nature's God" gave us the beliefs that we are all created equal and have inalienable rights. That cannot be justified in a logical way. If one eshews the notion of Natural Law one is forced to accept Rousseau's view, which is that all morals and standards are arbitrary and subject to the determinations of the General Will. So there are no moral standards, just suggestions and compulsion to follow the codes laid out by the society at large.

There is considerable evidence for the existence of God.

One example; in science elegance and beauty are often used as a determinant of the turth of a theory. Why? How is such an unobjective standard of value? Is it not perhaps that beauty and elegance come to us as innate knowledge? Scientists use that standard all the time without being able to explain it.

There are things like the Golden Spiral, that suggest a kind of order to the Universe that conflicts with the fundamental rule of entropic decay. And there is the fact of the Big Bang itself, which suggests the Universe had a beginning and will have an end. It bothered atheist scientists something awful, and led to things that failed like the Steady State theory. The Big Bang is still there, though, despite it's startling similarities to the Book of Genesis.

And we accept all manner of things we personally did not experience. Have you personally seen a quark? A Gluon? A Boson? We accept these things on faith in the end. They are based not on direct evidence but on what we see happening and think these things mean. That doesn't mean you cannot apply reason, and test it for logic. But that doesn't mean you reject science out of hand because you personally haven't experienced it. We see the same thing with God; He is not measurable or visible but we see how God affects the perceptual universe, just as we infer quarks from how subatomic particles behave.

And what of the Bible?

There are reasons to think the Bible is Divinely inspired. The relative unity of the multiple books of the Bible, for example, suggests an organization that is counter-intuitive in such a hodge-podge. Now, I understand the counter-argument; the Church left things out (like the Gospel of Jude) but still, passages are often echoed in other books in a way that suggests a kind of unity. There are historical examples in the Bible that scholars dismissed but later found to be accurate. One example the existence and location of Nineveh. William Paley wrote about that. Sir William RamseyOURLXTX There was Sir William Ramsey who verified the accuracy of the Book of Acts in Asia minor as another example.

Then there's this.
McGurvey points out that the "fiction" in the Bible is actually quite accurate in many details of foreign lands and events.

And then there are the prophecies in the Bible. I know what happens; critics try to claim a later date for many of them to explain their accuracy. But who is right and who is wrong?

Another point; the Bible has survived where all other such books have disappeared or been forgotten. Who reads the Egyptian Book of the Dead, for instance? What is it that has made the Bible stand the test of time?

The Dead Sea Scrolls too show the Bible has largely remained in tact, despite centuries. It's amazing, really.

And what of the science in the Bible that was unknown at that time? The Book of Isaiah 40:22 says the Earth is a sphere, for example. The Book of Job said the Earth floats free in space. There is mention of undersea volcanic vents in the Bible. These are just three examples. I am not saying the Bible is a book of science, but that there are things in it that should not have been known at that time by a bunch of goat herders.And the Book of Genesis gives the description of something strikingly similar to the Big Bang, and the progression of life from plants to animals to people is amazingly modern.

The Bible is also unique insofar as the message is quite different from that of other religions. It shows it's heroes warts and all - unlike other such books which make their heroes bigger than life. It also offers an unique path to salvation. In most other religions Man is seen as perfectible by his own efforts (sacrifices and the like) or has no hope at all (like the Egyptians since only Pharoah and his cronies had eternal life) or the Greeks (who became shadow-like entities in a gloomy underworld.) The Bible is quite unique in that way.

In the end it comes down to what you BELIEVE, be it in the existence of God or in a universe that created itself, runs itself, has no purpose, and yet manages to have happily been fitted exactly to our needs. Change any one variable in physical laws and human existence would be impossible. We are supposed to believe in that?

BTW Frederich Hoyle was an atheist who advocated for the Steady State theory and he calculated the possibility of life spontaneously generating. He came up with a number of years necessary for that that was far greater than the entire universe. Later efforts have whittled that down some, but it still seems incredibly unlikely that life could have spontaneously formed in the alloted time. Hoyle hated that, but he could find no way around it. He became a devotee of Panspermia, the belief life evolved elsewhere and came here. But he never was able to square even that.

Jennifer Snow you say "Atheism is not a religion. It is not even an ideology. It is a LACK of religious ideology" If that is true, why do you and so many other atheists get so upset about it? You should just smile kindly and dismiss the superstition. That you and the rest of your kind make it a crusade is proof it IS a religion. You just cannot bear to admit that fact to yourself. You guys wouldn't sue over crucifixes in military cemetaries or ones that are visible from highways if you were not religious.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 11:24 AM | Comments (14) | Add Comment
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