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Archive for July, 2012

Irrational Quotes from Famous People on Atheism, Theism and Religion

The purpose of this section of my blog is to expose many of the irrational quotes from famous people on the  subjects of atheist, theism and religion (primarily Christianity). Too many times your layperson  atheist cites these quotes as if they have some deep, devastating-to-theism-relevance when in fact they are irrational or shallow. The quotes are generally cited below as posted on twitter without confirmation or analysis of context. The onus is upon the presenter of them to provide any context to what they cite and not upon the hearer to go do their research for them.

“Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.” ― Isaac Asimov

This is shallow thinking indeed. The obvious question is to ask of it is what constitutes ‘properly read’ and why ought we to think that Asimov’s reading of the Bible was an example of a proper reading of the Bible? What if his reading wasn’t proper and a proper reading was the opposite of his conclusion. That would then make it the case that, ‘Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for theism ever conceived’? Perhaps Asimov provided in more detail what this proper reading consisted of but if so, the atheists who cite it have never provided that context for examination. As it stands as a quote, it is but a demonstration of shallow thinking of a nice soundbite from Asimov and those who repeat his folly.

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“”If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be – a Christian.” – Mark Twain

Why would Christ, if he were here be a follower of himself? How many religious gurus leaders are followers of themselves? Isn’t the whole idea that they are the person to be followed? Of course if Christ were here now he wouldn’t be a Christian because a Christian is a follower of Christ, he is the object of their following and devotion.

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Interesting and Revealing Media Links on Atheism

This section of my blog with list interesting and revealing media links on atheism. Each article is prefaced with a summary of its contents

Praying for Rain: Atheist critics show how petty and small-minded they have become (Washington Post Article July 26th 2012 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/praying-for-rain-atheist-critics-show-how-petty-and-small-minded-theyve-become/2012/07/26/gJQAB9BeBX_story.html

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Jeremy Paxman religious comments were offensive, rules BBC trust (The Guardian July 31st 2012)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/jul/31/jeremy-paxman-religious-comments-offensive-bbc-trust 

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“Parents who believe in miracles ‘torturing’ dying children, doctors warn”. (The Telegraph 13th August 2012)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9473093/Parents-who-believe-in-miracles-torturing-dying-children-doctors-warn.html

Comment: This is an extremely worrying situation showing where the medical profession are in effect trying to overturn the decision of parents as to the timing and circumstances of the death of their child. 

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“A controversial scientist hits back after attempts to ban him from book festival”. (Deadline News 14th August 2912) 

http://www.deadlinenews.co.uk/2012/08/14/a-controversial-scientist-hits-back-after-been-banned-from-book-festival/

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“Petition fails in support of Indonesian atheist” (Washington Post 16th August 2012) 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/petition-fails-in-support-of-indonesian-atheist/2012/08/16/a1308046-e7e2-11e1-9739-eef99c5fb285_story.html

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“The Saturday Interview: Harvard Biologist Edward Wilson”. (The Guardian 18th August 2012) 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/aug/18/edward-wilson-harvard-biologist-interview?newsfeed=true

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Positive or Challenging Statements from Atheists!

This section will note comments from atheists that I consider to be positive or challenging. Although my blog is set up to expose the flawed thinking common with atheists it would be misleading and out of balance to paint a picture that nothing positive or challenging is ever said.

 

A Response to Gender Confused Jesus

This is a response to http://957chatterton.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/gender-confused-jesus.html.

It is an article in a blog that purports to, ‘expose the absurdities of religion and the immoralities of many religions’. This particular article titled, Gender Confused Jesus’ has in an opening note what looks like some kind of disclaimer, ‘This piece is purely to provoke thought and poke fun, nothing more’. One can only guess as how these can be joined together in a coherent manner unless the thoughts provoked are be no more than poking fun thoughts? I personally think this ‘note’ was an afterthought to give the author an escape route if and when the flawed reasoning within it was brought to light as I am going to do in what follows. The author has always got the retort, ‘Well, it was only every intended to poke fun’ so you’re critique of it is misplaced’. Be that as it may the content of it has been voiced seriously by other atheists on twitter and in my view it warrants refutation.

The author begins with the claim that the alleged virgin birth of Jesus is a claimed proof of the divinity of Jesus. He doesn’t supply any references where this claim is made and I personally have not seen it used as such a proof and would be interested to see the structure of such a proof. He then goes on to claim, ‘Jesus is not the only individual in mythology to have this character trait. Horus, Perseus, and The Buddha were all also born of virgins. Note that all of the aforementioned figures are male’. This is the fairly common copycat Jesus claim and is beyond the scope of this article to interact with except to note that it isn’t a substantiated claim, absent even a reference to a source attempting to substantiate it, nor does the author seek to show how it would logically and necessarily follow that even if the claim was true that it would invalidate the virgin birth claim of Jesus.

The author then moves on to provide us with a science lesson on human reproduction and draws the conclusion that on the science of human reproduction that either Jesus was not a man or Mary was not a virgin or the whole story was made up before knowledge of human reproduction was sufficiently known. Following this he then tries to preempt an apologist objection to his argument but from where that objection is derived we aren’t told and provides with the ever nonsensical words of Richard Dawkins.

What he does not address and what is fatal to his argument is that it completely ignores the fact that whilst it is true what science says about the natural reproductive workings that the account is not recording a natural event but a supernatural event. That being so, how does he know what can or cannot occur? How does he know that the supernatural conception of Mary was not of such a nature as to falsify each option in his trichotomy. What can a supernatural conception accomplish? Is it bound by what occurs in a natural conception? None of these question are addressed and I would suggest the author would have no rationally compelling response to them that would save his argument. If one were to label the fallacy which the authors arguments falls to it would either be that of category error (putting supernatural events into the category of natural events) or a strawman argument that is then knocked down.

Whichever is the case, or both what we don’t have is a good argument for a ‘Gender Confused Jesus’.

Atheists and the Assertions they Make then Refuse to Substantiate

Atheists frequently make assertions about God and Christianity which when asked to substantiate they point blank refuse to do so, confusingly thinking that they have no burden of proof for assertions they make to positive knowledge. Usually the conversation ends up with them trying to move the burden of proof to the theist asking for the substantiation of their assertion with them blissfully unaware that they have the burden of proof for their assertions and obliged to substantiate it regardless of whether the person requesting it is a theist, fellow atheist, agnostic or just an interested party.  This section of my blog will record those assertions and, where relevant, remark upon them briefly. Where I list an assertion and the poster then seeks to establish that assertion with evidence I will mark it as such but unless otherwise marked it falls into the ‘assertion made, refused to substantiate’ category.

Such assertions of course fall under the dictum ascribed to the late Christopher Hitchens, ‘That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence’.

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“God is an idea, not a fact. What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”.

This is an assertion – a claim to positive knowledge – as to what God is, an idea and not a fact. If it is not to be dismissed then it must be evidenced as per the very statement the poster includes in his comment.

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“All over the planet people are killing each other over their version of a non-existent God”.

Following the posting of this tweet the poster, although agreeing that, ‘that which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence’, refused to substantiate his assertion that God is non-existent. His final remark was that I could dismiss all I wanted. It well shows that atheists are of the wrong view that they have no burden of proof to evidence what they assert (make claim to positive knowledge) whilst they demand the same from theists

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In response to the statement, “There is no excuse not to know God. Romans 1:20” it was asserted, ‘Except for the fact that no gods exist’.

The atheist responding to this was right to respond to what amounts to an unsubstantiated theistic assertion but wrong in responding with but another unsubstantiated assertion. Perhaps a more appropriate response would have been along the lines of requesting substantiation for the theistic assertion and why the Bible should be regarded as proof of the claim made to those who don’t regard the Bible as ‘Holy Scripture’ from God. Whatever the case, it was requested of the atheist they substantiate with evidence that it is a fact that no gods exist. No response was forthcoming from that atheist.

Update: A response was forthcoming from the poster of the above assertion as follows:

“Plain and simple, the burden of proof lies on you. I can say there is a flying monkey in my closet, unless I can prove it it means nothing. So go ahead. Prove I don’t have a flying monkey in the closet… You can’t can you? Must be there then? Sound crazy? You know why? Because it is stupid logic.

Not only is this a misunderstanding of the burden of proof but it is a clear attempt to shift the burden from the person who has made the assertion (claim to positive knowledge), i.e. a fact that no gods exist, but it exhibits a very poor grasp of logic, not understanding that whilst I would be justified in being highly skeptical that there was a flying monkey in the closet I would not be justified as stating as a fact that there was no flying money in the closet. It is upon such misguided logic that the #atheism of many is based.

Following being notified I had updated my blog to reflect their recent remarks and my response to it the ‘rational, freethinking, tolerant, seeker-after-truth’ atheist indicated they had blocked me.

 

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Atheists and Misunderstandings or Misrepresentations of Theism, the Bible, Christianity or Theology

This section of my blog will be devoted to exposing atheist misunderstanding or misrepresentation of theism, the Bible, Christianity or Theology. Atheists in general are not at all very well informed about these matters and confuse taking Internet quizzes and statistics drawn from them for knowledge. As always I’m happy to stand corrected on anything I post where persuasive reasons are provided warranting that correction.

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“Poorly written fiction: Matthew 10:38 – Referencing the crucifixion before the crucifixion even happened”.

‘And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me’.  (NIV)

This is a misunderstanding of the verse because there is no clear reference in it to the crucifixion. Those who heard these words would have a definite fixed reference point for what is stated in the witnessing of those before Jesus who had to literally carry their cross to their crucifixion. Even if one were to think of Jesus as only a human, the most you would have in this passage is irony, i.e. that in making the statement to something familiar Jesus was unaware that in his own life he would have to literally do this and to his death. Bring in the divinity of Jesus and you then do not have irony, but a subtle fore-telling of Jesus of the manner of his own death (compare Mark 8:34). What we don’t have in either situation is ‘poorly written fiction’ as the author of the comment asserted.

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“Religious beliefs remain unchanged even with opposing evidence. Science changes to fit evidence, even if it’s harsh”. 

This misrepresentation or misunderstanding of theistic beliefs is easily refuted by the counter-examples of changes in religious beliefs in light of evidence on subject matter such as evolution, the causes of diseases, the nature and proper application of the Scriptures (in Christianity) and so on. That these changes in light of the evidence is not universal within religions does not change the fact that within some religions and with some religious beliefs change does occur in light of the evidence It also ignores that the scientific method is set up, via it’s assumption of methodological naturalism, to *only* accept evidence for natural explanations and entities.

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“We’re not split between atheists & theists, but between those that rely upon evidence & those that trust in myths”. 

Aside from the unjustified, begging the question unsubstantiated nature of this tweet it is but a misrepresentation of a large number, if not the majority of theists, who hold their beliefs upon at the very least the perception of some evidence but most certainly not through trust in myths. One also has to wonder upon what evidence the atheists are supposed to be relying upon? We aren’t told nor directed to what that might be.

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“Pascal’s Wager Fixed”. 

Although not defending Pascal’s Wager which is a flawed ‘argument’ for belief in God I have included this post here as it serves well the purpose of showing how atheists either misunderstand or deliberately misrepresent theism. Why they would do the latter in a forum such a twitter where their misrepresentations can easily be exposed is beyond and is for them to answer.

The misrepresentation in this table is in making Roman Catholicism, Baptists and Evangelicals mutually exclusive to each other, something that they are most definitely not. An accurate representation would of course have spoiled the effect of the image on the table but to sacrifice the facts for effect isn’t very rational or honest.

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“Questions that scare religionists “Who created God?” since they claim everything needs a creator”. 

This seems to be a fairly common misconception with some atheists. In fact in response to this comment I replied by asking which religious persons of note claim that ‘everything needs a creator’ and got immediate response from another atheist stating, ‘All of them!’.  It most certainly is true that at lease one religion – Mormonism – believes in an endless regression of creators with no starting point and there might well be others but it is just as certain that the three Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Islam and Christianity, define God as eternal and uncreated. On this definition it is logically absurd to ask the question, ‘Who created God?” for it translates into asking, “Who created that entity that is defined as being uncreated” and that makes no sense. If atheists are going to engage with religious people then they have to do so on the God they believe in and not some strawperson version of that God and with the Abrahamic religions, that means engaging with God as defined as an uncreated being.

Note: I suspect the source of this question and why it is increasingly popular among atheists is Richard Dawkins in his book, ‘The God Delusion’. If so, then it once again demonstrates how uninformed he is on theology as well as how unthinkingly some atheists fall blindly into line behind most anything he states.

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