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Archive for August, 2012

Tips for Engaging Atheists in Debate on Twitter

This is my tips page for engaging atheists in debate on Twitter. It has to be admitted and pointed out immediately that I don’t always follow these tips myself because sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the quick fire response discussions that don’t allow for some of these tips to be followed or indeed the heat of the moment where calmness, self-control over emotions take over. So these tips are the objective that I think provides the best way to engage in debate and are a reminder to me of what that objective is as well as sharing with others. Feel free to share your suggestions and tips by leaving a comment.

Tip #1 If you have the intention to engage in debate it’s best done when you know you are going to have a few hours free of relatively interrupted time. It’s not good practice to hit-and-run or to start a discussion then have to go eat a meal or  or deal with the kids, or head out to work etc. It’s fine and well if you’re just relaxing and having some banter on Twitter but not for more serious discussions.

Tip #2 Pick your fights! It doesn’t take too much time on Twitter to get to know the time-wasters from the more informed, serious-minded debaters. Whilst it can be fun to trounce the uninformed and indeed sometimes needful, in general time is better spent on the better informed and serious minded atheists. Not only will you get a more interesting conversation but you’ll learn more and have more of a challenge. Any fool can make themselves feel good and look good by only picking on easy targets but the real challenge of any position you hold to is to test it against the best.

Tip #2 Try to make sure that you understand what a person has said before you reply. Too often people can jump into a response thinking the person has said something when there have actually said something different or are saying it for a specific reason, possibly as part of an ongoing discussion or response to another person. What I find helpful practice on these more serious discussions is to open a word document and copy/paste or type in their comments. Read it through a few times to make sure you are as certain as you can be that you’ve understood it properly and then make your reply. The same practice if you are initiating a subject. Post in your initial post then keep a track in the word document of any replies. Also, do any research that has to be done before submitting your reply. Check references, or sources given. Pick out the key point and cross-check it on Google (preferably on :edu sites), compose your reply in the word, double-check it then post it. Not only does this give you a good understanding of the conversation but it allows you to keep track of what has been previously said by both you and your opponent(s) and saves you having to wade back through posts to find what has been said by one or other. A further advantage is that you’ll less prone to indulge in personal insults and attack because it all takes on a more debate environment arena, rather than the often wild and wacky world of Twitter. This also gives you the advantage of having a hard copy of all your conversations with various individuals and on various subjects which can prove to be an invaluable resource in future discussions.

Tip #3 Don’t pretend to knowledge you don’t have. If you don’t know a subject that is raised or the answer to a question asked you do not try to bluff your way out of it. Inform the person you’re not familiar with that subject or point or don’t have a ready answer to it and tell them you will research it and get back to them. Make sure that you then do that research and do get back to them!

Tip #4 Don’t overload yourself by engaging in too many subjects with too many people at the same time. It’s nigh on impossible to competently do so, giving due care and attention to each topic that it deserves. It’s possible to perhaps engage usefully in two or three discussions, even on different subjects if you are doing it following Tip #2 but the more focused your mind is on one particular subject, generally the more effective you’ll present your case.

Tip #5 Be alert for fallacious reasoning, not only in your opponents posts but in your own replies. If you are going to allege that a fallacy has been committed then try to at least outline how it is so or don’t even use the name of the fallacy but explain it (e.g. instead of saying, ‘non sequitur’, say, it does not logically follow that etc…’).

Tip #6 If you get something wrong and it’s pointed out to you be honest and acknowledge the correction. No-one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes now and then. Trying to save face or allowing pride to stop you doing the right thing won’t serve you or the debate anything positive.

Tip #7 Expect to be insulted by atheists. For many of them it’s par for the course in the absence of any arguments for their position or the statements they make. As hard as it is to do, the best course of action is to simply not respond in any way to such attacks and to stick with the argument or point under discussion. (Bear in mind that many atheists follow the poor advice of Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss to mock religion and faith and those holding it).

Statements from Atheists on Morality

This section of my blog will record statements made by atheists on what they view morality to be and what they regard as moral actions or not. Atheists talk a lot about the immorality of Christianity, the harm it does, the Bible and it’s immorality but when you dig deeper into the moral basis of many atheists you find them approving the self-same things they condemn and indeed,  more things than what you’ll find taught in Christianity as ‘moral’. Given that few of them adhere to any objective source of morality what it normally reduces itself to is moral relativism or subjectivism or situational ethics but their words can speak louder than my commentary here.

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Atheist Scientists and the Statements they Make!

This section of my blog will contain statements made by atheist scientists and especially those who are most outspoken on their atheism. Many atheists who consider these individuals some sort of modern day heroes for atheism are unaware of most of what they have actually say and some of the positions they take based on their understanding of or application of science to some of the biggest questions in life which arguably lie outside of the scope of science. It will further record false statements made by these atheist scientists and possibly will go on to provide a transcript with detailed commentary of the debates they have engaged upon and lost badly.

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Richard Dawkins on Infanticide (Excerpted from Peter Singer – The Genius of Darwin: The Uncut Interviews – Richard Dawkins 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ti-WcnqUwLM&feature=youtu.be

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYYNY2oKVWU

This is the transcript of the relevant section from the above link which begins at around 23:12  into the video:

Dawkins: “I can think of no moral objection to eating human road kills except for the ones that you mentioned like ‘what would the relatives think about it?’ and ‘would the person themselves have wanted it to happen?’, but I do worry a bit about slippery slopes; possibly a little bit more than you do.

There are barriers that we have set up in our minds and certainly the barrier between Homo sapiens and any other species is an artificial barrier in the sense that its a kind of ‘accident’ that the evolutionary intermediates happen to be extinct. Never the less it exists and natural barriers that are there can be useful for preventing slippery slopes and therefore I think I can see an objection to breaching such a barrier because you are then in a weaker position to stop people going further.

Another example might be suppose you take the argument in favour of abortion up until the baby was one year old,  say two years old. If a baby was one year old and turned out to have some horrible incurable disease that meant it was going to die in agony in later life, what about infanticide? Strictly morally I can see no objection to that at all, I would be in favour of infanticide but I think i would worry about,  I think I would wish at least to give consideration to the person who says ‘where does it end?’ ” 

Singer: Yes, I can see there is a problem with say, young children, partly because we’re bonded to them very closely in a way we’re not really bonded with the fetus or the new-born infant but I think when people make slippery slope arguments in this area you have to appreciate that it does go the other way, that precisely because we do draw this boundary between us and animals we turn a blind eye to all of that animal suffering as you are more or less acknowledging I think. That of course has disastrous consequences for animals…. 

Dawkins:  I agree. 

Singer: … so that’s why I want to reduce  the sharpness of that difference and one of my objections to a religious viewpoint is it does reinforce that boundary, I mean it says only we were made in the image of God and so on. Obviously neither of us share that view but I think that on the one hand perhaps it has given some protection to humans but on the other hand it’s put the whole of these other sentient beings into this state where we can just use them and abuse them for our ends. 

Dawkins: Yes, yes.

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Bad Objections against William Lane Craig’s Arguments!

William Lane Craig (WLC) is best known for his formulation and defence of the Kalaam Cosmological Argument (KCA), even although he is responsible for and present other arguments to the same end, i.e. demonstrating that on the evidence a god exists or the God of Christianity exists. Whilst there is much material available recording the debate on the arguments it’s necessary to record on this section of my blog some of the bad arguments made against them. Further to that it will put on record the many unjustified, unsubstantiated, and purely insulting, ad hominem assertions that atheists – usually ignore of his arguments – throw around as if doing so often enough will make one of them, any of them, true.

A summary lecture containing some of his arguments can and ought to be viewed at:

http://apologeticsuk.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/william-lane-craig-evidence-for-god.html

And his most famed  argument, the KCA can and ought to be viewed  in full as presented by WLC at

The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe – http://www.leaderu.com/truth/3truth11.html

As always anything recorded as a bad argument is open to challenge and discussion.

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Fallacious Attack on Craig #1 

“Everyone of William Lane Craig’s arguments for gods existence has been refuted or shown to fail scientifically”. 

The fallacious nature of this assertion is obvious from simply noting the fact that not all of Craig’s arguments for the existence of god contain recourse to science in their premises or support of them. The ontological argument, the argument from objective morality, the argument from accepted facts by NT scholars/historians are examples of arguments where science is not appealed to, in any form, in leading from the premises to the conclusion. Since this is the case then what is there in them that could be shown to ‘fail scientifically’? The answer is nothing and if any of the arguments were deductively sound or inductively strong or indeed false then it would be so on some other basis than science.

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Fallacious Objections on Premise One of the KCA #000

Premise One ‘does beg the question…it assumes a beginning’. 

The fallacious nature of this assertion can be seen from the following valid but unsound argument:

P1 Everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence.

P2. Nothing begins to exist.

P3 Therefore nothing has a cause of its existence.

If it were the case that P1 assumed a beginning then it could never go on validly to P2 which states the exact contrary. This demonstrates clearly that no assumption of a beginning is contained within P1 and in a different  argument from the KCA the premise could be part of an argument that since nothing begins to exist therefore nothing has a cause. What invalidates the argument above is the fact that things do begin to exist (come into being).

Premise One – implicitly inserts God into it making the argument circular

This attempted ‘easy’ refutation of Craig’s KCA can be found at: http://freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Circular_argument

It read thus on the KCA:

A noted example of circular argument is one known as “Kalam Cosmological argument”.

Its structure is this:

1. Everything which begins to exist has a cause.

2. The universe began to exist.

3. Therefore, the universe had a cause.
The refutation of the Kalam Cosmological argument is actually rather simple:

The first premise “begins to exist” implies that things that do not begin to exist do not need a cause; they’ve always existed.

So, the challenge becomes to name some things that do not conform to this qualification, things that have always existed.

“God” is the most ready response, but is there anything else in the category of things that do not begin to exist? Is there any reason to think that there are?

If not, that is if god is the only thing that never began to exist, then the argument MUST read thus:

1. Everything which is not god has a cause.

2. The universe is not god.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

So, the person attempting to use Kalam to prove the existence of god is implicitly putting god into the premise, thereby rendering the argument hopelessly circular.

The flaw in this argument is wrong thinking that P1 of the KCA only allows for God to be an example of something that did not begin to exist. That is false as it could equally be the universe (and indeed some argue that the universe is such an example of something that did not begin to exist being past eternal).  Since P1 allows for both God and the Universe to be things that do not begin to exist then it is not true that god is implicitly put into premise 1. What is true that with both options being possible the argument continues on to show that one of those possibilities must be excluded based on good scientific and philosophical reasons. Even on that the only conclusion that is then made in the formal part of the KCA is that universe had a cause of its existence. It is then reasoned, again, from more than possible option that the necessary properties this cause must have is what most people call God and that it is therefore rational to believe that God exists. There is no circularity as charged ans the simple refutation is shown to be a failed attempt to refute the KCA based on either a misunderstanding or misrepresentation of it.

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A Record of Religious Persecution and Oppression

This section of my blog will record religious persecution and oppression from both the offending side, i.e. religions persecuting other persons or groups and persons or groups persecuting religions.  It will mainly consists of links to stories and event relevant to that subject but might also contain more detailed articles with commentary.

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1000 Pakistan women and girls honour killing victims (The Telegraph 07/08/12) 

“Almost 1,000 Pakistani women and girls were murdered last year in honour killings, according to a new report by the country’s leading human rights group”

Full article at:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/9160515/1000-Pakistani-women-and-girls-honour-killing-victims.html

 

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