Here's a Link to My Interview on The Narrow Mind

Link here. Pastor Gene was respectful, professional, and intelligent. His assumptions make him say bizzare things, though. Anyone who wants to comment one way or another, can do so here. I sure said "Uh" a lot. I know better than that.

After hearing it just now, I realized there were some statements Gene made that I could've jumped on that I didn't. I probably misunderstood Gene and Paul a couple of times, too. It's tough being in the heat of battle. It's also really strange that I didn't realize Paul Manata and I were talking at the same time, again. But I hope I got some of my points though.

What I wanted to convey was that when it comes to explaining why something--anything--exists, we all run into improbable absurdities, so Christians have a misplaced confidence level when they think our arguments are silly. Such a confidence level reminds me of Holocaust deniers and Muslim suicide bombers. It's their confidence level that I think is silly. I ask them questions that I think are tough and they turn around and riddicule those questions. That's what I vehemently object to! I also wanted to convey that history is a very poor medium for God to reveal himself, if he exists, because all of us judge history from our present experience--all of us! Lastly, when it comes to the arguments of Christians who think it's absurd that we use logic and act on our moral notions without an ultimate foundation, that those same types of arguments can be leveled at their God, if he exists. Did God create the laws of logic and morality, or does he have to abide by a logic and morality he didn't create? Can he, as a spirit, move a material object? How? Can he think? Thinking demands weighing temporal alternatives. Is he free to choose his nature? How could he have decided who he would be if he always and forever had his nature?

I wasn't trying to convince them their world-view was wrong so much as I was trying to show that the atheist arguments are not silly. If I could just get them to admit that, then it was worth the effort. If they would just admit this we could have a decent, civil and respectful discussion. My point wasn't that their position alone is absurd, but that both sides of this debate start with brute facts which cannot be sufficiently and totally explained. They won't admit this because they need to be confident, hopeful, and full of faith to please their God, who who will reward them because of their faith.

People mention the title to this blog as if I am hostile to Christianity. If I am hostile to anything, I am hostile to the attitudes of Christians who would treat atheists like me with disrespect, distain, and laughter. The Blog title is to attract attention, and that's its main function. And yes, I do think Christianity is false for so many reasons. But I have always wanted to have a respectful discussion, as much as possible. It appears that the only way this can be done is to help them see that they do not have a corner on the truth. But I probably argued in vain....

29 comments:

Joe E. Holman said...

I enjoyed the exchange. I thought you did quite well John. I liked your relaxed round-table discussion attitude.

I too was VERY impressed with Cook's letting you talk--a thing not often found on Christian hosted radio shows.

I will say Cook thinks VERY highly of himself! Just listening to his advertisements during the break turned my stomach. He really thinks he's somehow proving Christianity to people, loves to hear himself rattle. I could tell as he finished off with a little preaching bit after you were done. Honestly, I was almost as disgusted by that as listening to Limbaugh!

I thought it was funny though how Manata made a big deal of you thinking god-belief was absurd. He doesn't seem to realize we all find the beliefs of our philosophical opponents ridiculous. It's like he gets so lost in the point he's trying to make that he forgets the psychology behind belief. "Absurd" is neither here, nor there anyway, just a dispositon of thought, not something that can be proven or disproven.

Wished I would have heard the whole thing. Missed about 15 or 20 minutes of it, but a good exchange.

(JH)

Bruce said...

There was a caller who insisted that you really believed in God and it was just Jesus you had a problem with. From what I could tell, his argument was that all atheists believe in God, they just don't want to admit it? Did I hear that correctly?

Seems pretty arrogant to me. "You say you don't believe in God, but I know you really do." That just seems like an easy cop-out on the caller's part. No need to justify his own beliefs, he can just accuse you of secretly agreeing with him and thus there really is nothing to argue about.

valuablecrop said...

Yes, Bruce you did hear it properly. However to accuse Sye of arrogance for believing what Christian's have believed for a couple of thousand years, and is explicitly taught in the Bible, is ridiculous. Gene didn't disagree with Sye saying that Loftus believed in God. Gene was diffrentiating between general revelation in nature, which is enough to leave men without excuse for not believing in God, but is non-salvific, and special revelation in the Word of God, which is salvific. Loftus misunderstood what Gene was saying and assumed Gene was defending Loftus when he was doing nothing of the sort. Gene sounded surprised when Loftus started thanking him for doing this!

Bruce said...

Thanks for the explanation valuablecrop.

Gene was diffrentiating between general revelation in nature, which is enough to leave men without excuse for not believing in God

So no person has an excuse not to believe in God? How is this not arrogant? How is this even a credible argument? It isn't. It is merely a way of cutting off any real discussion by asserting you can never be wrong. Yep, pure arrogance.

If John was confused then I don't blame him. Maybe he was assuming that Gene and his callers would at least try to use some form of logical reasoning to make their point. Apparently he was wrong.

Sye TenB said...

Isn't assuming that you are right and we are wrong also arrogance?

Would you also call the person who insisted that in base ten mathematics 2 + 2 = 4 arrogant?

The question is not who is arrogant, the question is: Who is right? Since with atheism there is no absolute standard by which one could call anything right, I'll leave it up to you to do the math :-)

Martin Wagner said...

jxdiSince with atheism there is no absolute standard by which one could call anything right, I'll leave it up to you to do the math :-)

Once again, a theist attempts to take a swipe at atheism and ends up slipping on a rhetorical banana peel of his own making. Clearly Sye TenB hasn't a clue what atheism entails. Atheism is simply the disbelief in gods. It is not, in and of itself, a method of determining facts about other subjects; for that purpose, you will find that most atheists trust the scientific method, which does provide a more than adequate set of standards for determining what is right.

If atheists assume that they are right and theists are wrong, it is only because theists have failed to meet their burden of proof regarding God's existence. And where God's existence is concerned, theists bear the burden of proof, period.

Come up with a proof of God that's as solid as base ten math, Sye, and we'll be less "arrogant".

Bruce said...

Isn't assuming that you are right and we are wrong also arrogance?

I don't recall making that statement in this thread. I am critiquing the callers argument, not advancing one of my one.

Would you also call the person who insisted that in base ten mathematics 2 + 2 = 4 arrogant?

Are you implying that religious belief is as solid as fundamental mathematical concepts? They are not even close. You are comparing apples and oranges. Your analogy doesn't work.

The question is not who is arrogant, the question is: Who is right?

Agreed. Arrogance just makes it so much harder to see when your own arguments are nonsensical.

Since with atheism there is no absolute standard by which one could call anything right

And thank God for that, otherwise I wouldn't be able to have gay sex with my dog and then kill my neighbor to drink her blood.

Yeah, I'm being a smart ass tonight. But seriously, to imply that the existence of God is as certain as 2 + 2 = 4 is an insult to mathematicians everywhere. You can believe that God is self-evident if you want, but to project that belief onto everyone else is pure arrogance and wrong.

Ghost said...

I find it hypocritical for an atheist to say that Gene or Paul are arrogant for speaking with confidence about their faith when John quite openly admitted that he is certain that Christianity is false. If one is arrogant then all are equally arrogant.
I must admit John, that you actually seem to have a great deal of faith, but that faith is misplaced in a science which is constantly changing and often unreliable. God on the other hand is unchanging and completely reliable.

The fact that you don't understand how God can be immaterial yet move material just goes to show that you are not God. It adds nothing to your argument that there is no God. If you did understand then perhaps you would be God with God-like powers. Failure to understand something is not a valid argument to debunk that idea, it simply shows that one is ignorant of that higher knowledge. Same goes for your "chicken and egg" rationality with regards to logic and morality.

I must say overall I was a bit disappointed because I have heard some very excellent arguments from Atheists over the years, but didn't find your attempts to discredit Christianity to be of much substance. Still, perhaps I will find some more interesting arguments on your site.
Peace.

JImmy Li said...

I have yet to hear that show
I"m overwhelmed with school work

Sye TenB said...

Atheism is simply the disbelief in gods. It is not, in and of itself, a method of determining facts about other subjects; for that purpose, you will find that most atheists trust the scientific method, which does provide a more than adequate set of standards for determining what is right.

By your own admission, atheism is making at least 2 positive claims here: 1. That the position of disbelief in God is a possible position, and 2. That the scientific method is trustworthy.

Tell me, by what absolute standard are either of those claims true?

Sye TenB said...

"Are you implying that religious belief is as solid as fundamental mathematical concepts?"

No, I am saying that belief in the Christian God is a necessary precondition to make sense out of any 'fundamental mathematical concepts.' In that sense, belief in God is more certain than 'fundamental mathematical concepts.' What is a 'concept' in a materialistic worldview?

You can believe that God is self-evident if you want, but to project that belief onto everyone else is pure arrogance and wrong.

Isn't projecting your belief that I am wrong arrogant?

Fred K said...

The funniest thing is how Manata tried to "win" the discussion. These guys turn each exchange into a battle. You cannot go into a discussion with them expecting a civil exchange because it isn't viewed that way by them. Each conversation is somehow a battle for their imaginary worldview and they aren't going to budge an inch. Paul exclaiming excitedly, parodied, 'you have admitted your absurdities in your worldview, and I won't..so I win!' is evidence of the confrontational nature of these bozos and the true intent of any conversation with them.

One mistake you made is assuming Cook was trying to be fair. He really was trying, with moderate sucess this time, to make you look foolish. Had you actually stepped up to the plate and offered good arguments, they would have gone into extreme attack mode. As it was, they didn't need to.

When will people learn to avoid these clowns?

Anonymous said...

Sye's answer above is evidence of the idiocy of these types. Focus on open minded people in the future and stop beating your head against the wall.

Anonymous said...

"No, I am saying that belief in the Christian God is a necessary precondition to make sense out of any 'fundamental mathematical concepts."


Bullshit, pure and simple.

Nothing but a random assertion, Sye. Now, provide some credible evidence this invisible pink Uni...er...God exists, or STFU. Like a cigarette smoker claiming that 'this is my last pack', You are only convincing yourself.

Paul Manata said...

Fred,

What are you talking about?

Are you paranoid?

It was a call in show. John's been on before. John knew what to expect.

John called my worldview absurd. he basically made fun of it and people who believe it.

I simply called in and pointed out some stuff he believed. To my chagrin, he admited his view was absurd. So, I capitalized. What do you think I should do?

I then said we can set his worldview aside and see if he can make good on his public assertion that my position was absurd. If you listened to the show, you'd note that he failed miserably.

So, he admitted hia view was absurd - so I didn't need to show that it was, he admitted it.

I don't admit mine is (I guess that's a fault?). So, I asked him to show how it was. He didn't.

At the ned of the day his worldview was shown to be absird, by him. Mine was not.

Call thta what you will.

Funny how when I interact with an atheist, and it doesn't go well for the atheist, it can't be because he has a shoddy position, it's got to be that I'm a big ass. Well, whatever helps you sleep at night.

Joe E. Holman said...

Manata, why are you so concerned with the idea of what is or isn't "absurd"? That is a personal estimation. It holds no validity in and of itself. Means nothing to argue about. You are so angry and bothered when your worldview is attacked, like a combative teenager who is new to the world of debate.

Of course John and all other atheists and agnostics find your worldview a knee-slapping, rolling belly-laugh and ridiculous to the core. So what? You find ours that way too. Big deal. But that's not something you argue about. Argue about the mechanics of a belief if you're going to argue.

John came willing to discuss ideas. He did. You aren't satisfied with his answers, and we sure as hell aren't satisfied with your theistic inferiority complex either. It's the way of the world! Please drop the childish "I win the debate" mentality.

Hearing you talk, the impression I get is of a good-looking but emotionally disturbed ROTC kid with a temper problem, trying to provoke a petty, ego-driven, Beverly Hills 90210 sort of dispute with his peers. Drop the childish high school crap and just relish the discourse!

(JH)

Jon Curry said...

Quite a stark contrast between John's basic civility level and that of Paul. Paul you sound so combative and angry towards those that disagree with you. This is unfortunate. Steve and Gene are arguing with my brother over at Triablogue that namecalling, ridicule, insult, etc are exactly what biblical Christians are supposed to do with people like us. I suppose you would agree, which perhaps explains your tone. Clearly John does not feel the same way towards you and other Christians, nor do I.

One point I'd like to make about the first caller. Was that you, Sye? Anyway, the caller said he didn't want to grant that God knows what it would take for John to believe in him, because you think John already believes in God but does not admit it. But that just pushes the problem back a step. God knows what it would take for John to recognize his own belief in God, yet God does not provide what is needed. God is still to blame.

Frank Walton said...

My review here.

Sye TenB said...

Yes Jon, that was me who called in.

"God knows what it would take for John to recognize his own belief in God"

This is very close to what I said. I think that God knows what it would take for John to admit his belief. Your point is taken however, one would have to admit one's belief in order to recognize it.

"yet God does not provide what is needed. God is still to blame."

This is where we diverge. The Bible teaches that man is 'without excuse' for suppressing what he knows to be true. The Word of God is my ultimate authority, I take God at His word. I can't say that I know how this works, but I would not want to stand before God, having denied Him.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Christian and just stumbled upon your blog. I appreciate your respectfulness and thoughtfulness. Thanks for sharing.

Steven Carr said...

'But that just pushes the problem back a step. God knows what it would take for John to recognize his own belief in God, yet God does not provide what is needed. God is still to blame.'

2 Thessalonians 2 says that God deceives people.

I think if somebody is deceiving somebody else, they deserve part of the blame for that person being deceived.

JustinOther said...

I simply called in and pointed out some stuff he believed. To my chagrin, he admited his view was absurd. So, I capitalized. What do you think I should do?

If you listen again, he pointed out that others believe that things in his worldview are absurd, not that he believes his worldview is absurd.

What I think you should do is not get defensive. As soon as your position is challenged, you act like a cornered animal and try to turn the subject around. For example, you said that atheists believe that lizards turned into birds. Nice piece of spin that was. In a way, that is correct, however we do not believe that it happened instantly due to the magic of an omnipotent deity. The evidence is strongly in favor of a gradual, and I know you hate this word, evolution over many millenia.

The question which has always amused me is this: Can God create a rock so large and heavy that he himself cannot lift it?

I respect your devotion to your faith, however I feel that if you were completely secure in that faith, you would not have need to get defensive.

JustinOther said...

Two more things I just thought of:

1) I find it offensive also that John was accused of denying that he believes in god. I do not believe in god and would be, and am, very disturbed that one would accuse me of basically lying. I think that this is the arrogance that bruce was talking about.

2) I have no proof that god does not exist. I will concede that point easily. I also have no proof that unicorns, leprechauns and pink elephants do not exist. This makes none of them more real. The burdon of proof lies not with the one who denies the claim of existence, but with the one claiming existence. A prosecutor must prove that a defendant committed a crime. That is his or her burdon of proof. It is not the responsibility of the accused to prove innocence (that is assumed until proven otherwise). Therefore it is the responsibility of those claiming the existence of god to prove that, not the opposite.

Anonymous said...

To Justin Other: RE: The question about God being able to create a rock He can't move: I've seen this before. The question is if God CAN create a rock that He can't move then He's not all-powerful. But the alternate scenario is that if God can create a rock He CAN'T move then He's also limited in His abilities to create something He can't move. The second scenario draws a faulty conclusion that ultimate power would be a weakness or proof that God does not exist. Scenario 2 would in fact be more descriptive of omnipotence. No, God can't be overcome by His own creation - I suppose that would mean He is omnipotent - if that is perceived as a weakness or proof of non-existance then I suppose one is entitled to that perspective.

JustinOther said...

Anonymous

I didn't mean to imply that the rock scenario proves non-existance. Non-existance cannot be proven as far as I know. I just find it an interesting concept.

FredK said...

Just getting back around here. Paul, John in spite of the weird history you all have together, was attempting to have a normal dialogue with you guys. You jumped, like a meth addict spotting a dropped wallet, at his 'admission' with juvenile zeal.

It is 'absurd' or wonderous, that many things exist in reality. It is statistically insignificant that we could be reading and typing these words. This is the idea I believe John was attempting to convey. You showed up, again, with your six shooter on, cowboy boots and imaginary wanted poster and missed the point entirely.

Your problem Paul, is not what you believe, but the juvenile, abrasive, Hyper-active manner in which you convey it.

All the studying of philosophy in the world won't change this. You need a fundamental change in the way you deal with people if you ever hope to garner any respect. As it stands, you are a parody of what you think you are.

Mark G. said...

Hey guys, I just got done listening to the podcast- it was very interesting!

What bugged me the the most was when Paul Manata almost jizzed over his supposed "victory" in the "debate" when all the Christian Debunker (sorry, i forgot your name) was doing was being intellectually honest and admitting to some "absurdities" in his own worldview. He did this just to have some humility and commonality and go from there intelligently in the conversation. Paul has the type of personality to jump on these opportunities as if the other is admitting defeat and this just hurts the conversation or "debate". I hate it when I am involved in a conversation or debate and when trying to show humility and admit ignorance on a certain point, the other jumps on this as an opportune time to declare victor.

This impedes us from being able to have civil discourse and interesting discourse, as well. There is so much we could learn from atheists, hindus, christians, buddhists, mormons, etc. but if all we care about is "winning the debate" then no one ends up being edified. Nothing is learned. Ego's are puffed up, that's all.

Also, I thought it was funny when you said, "are you listening to yourself"? on a certain point. It is interesting to see the cognitive dissonance occuring in others right before our eyes and they can't see it even happening.

Hope to hear more from you in the future- Great job!

Mark G. said...

...quotes I thought relevant to the podcast:

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge". -Charles Darwin

"Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's own ignorance". -Confucius

Anonymous said...

It was pretty good until Paul came in like a bat out of hell. Absurdity is kind of hard to philosophically define. "There are invisible elephants floating around my room right now", this is not logically impossible, but we would expect any normal person to dismiss this as silliness.

Kind of like me claiming a 22" cock. If you ask for evidence I'll ridicule your empirical assumptions, if you claim I don't have enough blood to fill it, I'll use arguments against inductive certainty. If someone knows enough philosophy, it seems they can find some way to defend any belief they may want to hold.