Christians Are Not Stupid or Irrational.

This is to address a Frequently Asked Question/Frequenty Offered Claim that Atheists think that Christians are stupid and/or irrational. This is easily shown to be false, at least for the members of DC. There are plenty of demonstrably intelligent Christians, some of them frequent this blog. But how does this perception persist?


It seems to stem from a misunderstanding. Several factors come into play but the most significant factor is the evidence for God. Atheists have a more empirical criterion than Christians do. Generally an Atheist will not settle for any testimonial or subjective evidence while a Christian will. When every Christian argument depends on the existence of God and the premise is disputed for lack of credible evidence by the Atheist, this creates a significant impediment to the resolution of the disagreement. Rationality depends on a conclusion based on reason. A rational argument depends on taking evidence into account. If the evidence is in question, though both sides are arguing rationally, this situation can understandably be frustrating for both sides in the debate and can, in a worst case, degrade into personal attacks (aka an "Ad Hominem").

Another type of exchange occurs when the Atheist analyzes Christian arguments using principles of "critical thinking" and may be perceived to have or may actually have a condescending tone. The act of argument analysis and criticism can in itself be perceived as condescending. On the other hand, I have seen situations where a Christian will initiate the charge against an atheist. The Christian will assert "The fool says in his heart yada, yada, yada...", and then allege that “Atheists think that Christians are stupid, when in reality the Atheist is the fool” and justify the charge of foolishness using scripture.

29 comments:

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Lee:
I would agree with most of your post. In fact, I'd probably be 'kinder' to believers than you are, because I know of quite a few believers for whom the 'acceptance of God's existence' is not a premise but a conclusion. (I think they are wrong, yes, but I do accept they've reached this by a process of reasoning.)

However, sadly, there are a lot of atheists -- not here, and in the blogosphere they are more likely to be commenters than bloggers --who do treat all believers as stupid and/or irrational. (Sometimes they come across as a variant of the 'typical teenage boy' saying "Look, my brain's bigger than your brain because I'm an atheist.")

They make me groan too, but they are out there. This is one of my reasons for coming up with Prup's First Rule:
"Whatever side you take in any religious, political, social, or sexual dispute, you're going to have some idiots agreeing with you."

snakey said...

I don't see the point of this post.
but I tend to avoid the countless and never ending debates between xians & non xians. Who's got the biggest bragging rights of religion.? I think people online who go in for that kind of 'sport' are merely passing the time and stretching their ego's. What else can you do with a useless 'bible degree'?

The thing a tad different with the xians is...that they NEED people to convert - to practise their faith on. Its a rather parasitical relationship...don't you think? It feels sickening to be placated to and 'loved' by a xian online - let alone face to face. Yuk!

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

My point seems to have been made. In fact, Snakey, I will gladly accept authentic love from any direction. Many Christians DO live their faith as they see it. Religion can be an excuse to be as GOOD as you want to be, as well as to be as BAD as you want to be.

I may have intellectual differences with the type of Christians you mention, but I can appreciate anyone whose 'heart is in the right place,' and would only want to convince them that they can be just as loving without the excuse of a God.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Prup and all,
I'm sorry if my article wasn't clear enough. How do you think it could be better?

I tried to address a general principle about DC bloggers and commenters. I addressed this article to the comments on DC from DC commenters and DC bloggers.

DC has a policy of civility and for showing respect, any behavior outside that policy is an exception is it not?

The fact that there a lot of atheists that deride christians for sport is not addressed in the article because (as you point out) it generally does not happen at DC. At DC, I see that as the exception rather than the rule.

To clarify the viewpoint of the article,
I argue that christian belief is based on reason and rational thought. I tried to make it clear that the evidence for the existence of god is what is in dispute and that when reasoning, evidence is taken into account. The quality of evidence doesn't say anything about the process of reasoning. I can reason quite properly that the easter bunny should have problems getting into my house given that he has no thumb. This would be a 'thought experiment'.

Please suggest how the article could be better.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Lee:
I would make only one change in the entire piece.

You wrote and I added in italics
"This is to address a Frequently Asked Question/Frequenty Offered Claim that Atheists think that Christians are stupid and/or irrational. This is easily shown to be false, at least for the members of DC."

Other than that, your article is first-rate, as usual.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Prup,
Done!
Please critique the rest of them as they come out as well!
thanks in advance!

Michael Houx said...

Lee,

I see that you're starting to make some sense in saying Christians aren't irrational.

You forgot to add though that atheists(those who don't believe in any type of God whatsoever) are irrational in an age of scientific enlightenment.

Benny said...

calvin/Houx,

Before you proceed to spam this thread, please answer the questions Lee Randolph and I posed to you at the end of this thread:

LINK

Michael Houx said...

benny,

I've already answered your question over and over again. The cyclic universe model is based on speculative string theory and speculative negative pressure.

Let me quote from the physicist Dr. Michael Strauss.

Roger Penrose, Stephen Hawking, and George Ellis published the space-time theorem of general relativity in a series of papers from 1966 to 1970. In terms of it's impact on our understanding of the universe, this is one of the most significant scientific discoveries of all time. Assuming that the equations of general relativity accurately describe the dynamics of the universe they extend Einsteins work and provide powerful support for the big bang theory. This theorem established that time itself, as well as the dimensions of space, were created at the big bang. The universe was created by something outside of space and time.

The space-time theorem of general relativity indicates that time itself, as well as the dimensions of space, had it's origin outside of space and time. Apparently the Creator is much greater than the universe itself, operating in spatial and time dimensions beyond those found in the universe. Current objections to these conclusions involving quantum tunneling, a proper theory of quantum gravity (string theory), or a proposed breakdown in the laws of physics, have no scientific credibility, are only opinion, and have no basis in any actual scientific theories or observations. Some of these ideas are so speculative that they will never be able to be tested, or have any scientific affirmation. As these hypotheses are fully explored, it is nearly assured that the above conclusions will not change since they are solidly based on known facts.

It's beyond reasonable doubt.

Benny said...

calvin/Houx,

I've already answered your question over and over again. The cyclic universe model is based on speculative string theory and speculative negative pressure.

No, you've dodged my question over and over again. I asked you for evidence that disproves the cyclic universe. Provide it, or admit that you have none.

Roger Penrose, Stephen Hawking, and George Ellis published the space-time theorem of general relativity in a series of papers from 1966 to 1970... This theorem established that time itself, as well as the dimensions of space, were created at the big bang. The universe was created by something outside of space and time.

Ok, so show me the paper(s) and the section where this is stated.

The space-time theorem of general relativity indicates that time itself, as well as the dimensions of space, had it's origin outside of space and time.

Show me the paper(s) and the section where this is stated too.

Your last paragraph claiming that ideas like quantum tunneling and string theory...

have no scientific credibility, are only opinion, and have no basis in any actual scientific theories or observations. Some of these ideas are so speculative that they will never be able to be tested, or have any scientific affirmation.

... is hilarious, coming from a guy positing a God who exists outside our universe in extra dimensions of time and space :)

Oh, and I'm still waiting for you to provide your source for your statement that Physicists tell us that when the probabilities of something reach 10 to the 100 we can conclude that it is a practical impossibility.

And you still have to answer Lee Randolph's dissection of your argument from first cause.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Malvin,
I think you are irrational for at least three reasons.
- you came back as Michael Houx after posting as calvin, why? maybe because....
- either you incompetently or deliberately deceptively tried to back your data with the assertion that Hawking and Einstein believed a god had a hand in the creation of the universe here. Readers should go there and look for my post at At 3:24 PM, May 01, 2007 to see your undoing.
- you keep using a principle that has not been given any validity by experts in the field to support your argument.
- And you have been warned by John that your behaviour warrants a sound banning.

(I know thats four but I said 'at least three' ;-) )

Here is part of the dissection of the argument that Benny was talking about. It features that dubious principle you keep talking about.
Premise: Every effect has a cause.
Premise: The coming into existence of our universe is an effect.
Conclusion: Therefore, our universe has a cause.

Warrant: Since cause and effect operate within time and
since the cause transcends our one dimension of time then it must be in at LEAST two dimensions of time.


I doubt your Warrant. The warrant is the principle which supports your conclusion.

In two dimensions of time there are an infinite number of timelines that run in an infinite number of directions.

I am still waiting for this proof from you to be published in Nature.

Benny keeps refuting you but you keep rewording your claims. Shuffling the words around doesn't make them true again.

Honestly, I think you are being intentionally deceptive and disruptive and I wish your brothers in christ would call you out on it.

exapologist said...

For a helpful critique of this Hugh Ross-type of view about God as existing in multiple spatial and temporal dimensions, see William Lane Craig's critique of Ross's view in the Christian Scholars Review several years back.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Exapologist,
thanks for the help.
did you mean something like this one?
“But I am convinced that Ross’s attempts to invest the (possible) extra-dimensionality of the universe with profound theological significance is misguided and that a corrective is in order.”
William Lane Craig, HUGH ROSS’ EXTRA-DIMENSIONAL DEITY http://www.reasons.org/resources/apologetics/philchristi.shtml#heading3

That would be another reason to add to the list.

I want to point out that I was wrong about something. Calvin morphed into Michael Houx in mid-stream of the Chris Hallquist article, right before my eyes and I missed it. Other commenters picked up on it right away. I wasn't sure till he mentioned the "time in at least two directions" phrase in the "better explanation for existence" article.

since then I did a little research and discovered Houx has a history and got a "dressing down" from Benny because he misrepresented Anthony Flews views.

thats another reason to add to the list. I'm up to five if I scratch the Calvin to Houx rebirth.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

I am still waiting for Michael Houx (any relation to Doctor Houx and if so, which one?) to answer my question to him. I'll repeat it in a short version. If you have 'proven' the existence of a Creator, how do you go from this to proving that your God is the Creator?

Michael Houx said...

Prup,

I'm first trying to establish that there is a Cause at T=0 as the space-time theorem says.

I wasn't trying to be sneaky by changing my name. I just got tired of going by Calvin and I wanted to go by my real name.

William Lane Craig isn't God and he's definitely no physicist.

By the way I have the space-time theorem right here in front of me.
Want to know what it says?

Benny said...

calvin/Houx,

Please cite the paper and the section where the "space-time theorem" says there is a Cause at T=0.

If you want to discredit Dr. Craig, you'll have to do better than that. Please address his arguments. Otherwise do not bring up Hugh Ross's broken arguments again.

No, we're not interested in what you have to say about the "space-time theorem", we want to see the sources for your claims.

Please stop dodging my earlier questions and:

Show me your evidence that disproves a cyclic universe.

Show me the paper and the section where it is stated that The universe was created by something outside of space and time.

Show me the paper and the section where it is stated that The space-time theorem of general relativity indicates that time itself, as well as the dimensions of space, had it's origin outside of space and time.

Show me where Physicists tell us that when the probabilities of something reach 10 to the 100 we can conclude that it is a practical impossibility.

These are all claims you've made, but have failed to back up. Your choice is simple: for each statement, either provide the necessary evidence or admit that you were wrong. If you ignore these requests again and keep spouting the same distortions and lies, you have no business being here.

Michael Houx said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Benny said...

calvin/Houx,

I think that does nothing to prove your Causal Agent.

I note that you've refused to answer my questions yet again. Clearly you have no interest in any meaningful exchange whatsoever. Someone ban this troll please.

live-n-grace said...

There are a LOT more evidences of God existing than of him not existing. However that is not what I base my faith on, then it would not be faith at all.

"1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for."

"3By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." Hebrews 11

I find it takes a lot more faith to believe in the earth and life coming by chance, rather than God creating it.

John W. Loftus said...

Benny, don't feed the troll, Houx, I've had enough of you. Get your own blog. Be gone with you.

Benny said...

Sorry, Mr. Loftus. I just couldn't let the distortions and the lies continue unchallenged. Can I respond to l-n-g, or would that also be feeding a troll?

Michael Houx said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lee Randolph said...

my two cents on trollishness.

Obviously a very trollish commenter should be banned, but a commenter with a little trollishness does help validate our points to a degree in front of our audience.

I think Houx was too trollish. l-n-g, does have some trollish qualities, especially when he's copying scripture into the blog like it's garlic for vampires or something or calling atheists fools. I can't see any other reason to quote the bible to someone that doesn't give it any authority. That does seem to lack an aspect of rationality to me.

Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

I would agree that Michael Houx did, finally deserve his banning. I would, on the other hand, speak up against banning live-n-grace, and deny that he is a troll (which I've always thought implied insincerity and deliberate attempts to provoke anger -- I can think of one recent commentator on 'our side' who I would consider a troll, but l-n-g is sincere and trying to show his side -- and maybe finally realizing the problems with holding up his end).

I'd even argue, as the person who seems most involved with 'taking him on' that I have seen a slow growth in him, a slow willingness to at least occasionally 'think about what he's thinking about' and not to just throw Bible verses at us.

And I would agree with what i think Lee is saying, that l-n-g's very obtuseness at times gives us a good way to make our points which -- hopefully -- will eventually reach him, but more important will affect those who have tendencies in his direction but who might read our responses to l-n-g and begin to think for themselves.

In other words, yes, he can be trying, but I hope he doesn't get banned.

live-n-grace said...

Thanks for the kind words Prup.

I have had times when I've been frustrated on this blog, (I bet you have too), but for the most part, it has helped me strengthen my faith. I find there is no way to change you mind myself, and you should probably know there is no way I'm going to leave the faith. But there's no harm in trying is there? A little like iron sharpening iron, you could say.

Anyways, it doesn't matter to me if you ban me or not. It IS your blog. But I will continue to post verses from the bible, no matter how foolish you think I am or the bible is.

Inferus said...

One thing that has always irked me about Christians is their consistent need to use bible verses to answer any and every question/event in life. If you can't phrase your thoughts independently then I truly do fear about the impact of faith. Believing in something is fine. The inability to accept the possibility of fallibility in any institution and to allow your own critical thinking faculties to atrophy as others tell you what to think and believe is the beginning od the end for any and all institutions as it opens the way for corruption and persecution.

Michael said...

l-n-g said:

"I find there is no way to change you[r] mind myself, and you should probably know there is no way I'm going to leave the faith."

If this isn't the height of unreasonableness, I'm not sure what is. I take the position that it is always beneficial to be open to change, provided that there are good reasons to do so.

I can surely be persuaded if the reasons are convincing, but I've yet to see anything resembling a convincing argument presented.

Christians! You live in a world filled with unbelievers who are open to change their minds! What greater chance could you ask for than to pray to your God to give convincing arguments such that would sway us? You surely have your work cut out for you!

Reason over religion! said...

Well, you'll never succeed in debunking christianity with that attitude.

Faith must be exposed as irrational, regardless of any beneficial qualities it may have. This is because to act on that which we merely believe, as opposed th that which we can know with reasonable certainty, ignores ethical responsibilities under the rule of law. It is important to establish clear parameters for determining the difference. As long as these parameters are clearly established, faith is fine. Obviously it does no harm to pray. But if they are not, the rule of law is jeopardized.

We can live under the enlightened rule of law or medievalism, but not both.

Reason over religion! said...

I read this post again, and it is deserving of serious critcism. You are reducing philosophy from the pursuit of wisdom to intellectual masturbation. I am sorry, I can't put it any nicer than that.