A Brief "State of the Debate," and The Top Ten Worst Arguments!

In this article, I'll first give a light presentation of my opinion on the "state of the debate," and then identify and briefly discuss the top five worst theistic and the top five worst atheistic arguments circling around today.

(EDITED NOTE: I realized just now how raw and unedited this post is, and I do not at this time have the luxury to correct it; please forgive the poor writing!)

For those who know me personally, I've started searching for intellectuals anywhere from Christians to Positive Atheists to discuss the arguments for all sides in the best and most challenging manner possible. I've made a few good friends, acquaintances, and at least friendly occasional pen-pals from this effort; the owner of this blog is one, as well as Dr. Quentin Smith, NW Missouri Skeptic Society president Landon Hendrick (who takes a rare attitude on his Christ Myth convictions many Mythers need to study and emulate) and CodewordConduit over at reflectionsofthedamned.blogspot.com.

And that's just the nonbelieving crowd - big named believers such as Bill Craig, Gary Habermas, Paul Copan, MaryJo and Roger Sharp, Veritas48 from Youtube, and even the controversially regarded Dr. James White and J.P. Holding, have all welcomed my attempt to approach the arguments as friends and scholars, despite my occasional slipups in my attitude. Today I was pleasantly surprised when Norman Geisler added me out of the blue as a friend on Facebook. Even the universally maligned Ray Comfort has taken time out to lend an ear to what I have to say.

One thing I've learned - when it gets down to the logic, even those who are very controversial on both sides of the coin will show their very best. I'm thankful to all these atheists and theists for helping me begin my seemingly insurmountable quest to analyze all the evidences while listening to me attempt to dismantle the arguments many of them have spent their lives formulating.

Unfortunately, though, there are cases when I run across people from either side who, when relieved of all the masks, have not reflected properly on the important question of the evidences for and against Christianity. Instead of clear thought and thorough research, several old, refuted, and often horrific canards come out of the woodwork of their mind, and those who are bright enough to know better accompany these overworked and dried up arguments with often unwarranted, bitter anger. Unfortunately, I have encountered more of this on the nonbelieving side, to which I say: wake up! Freethought isn't the four bestsellers from the "Four Horseman" - it's many other less popularized but more thoughtful works, as well. It's odd that many believers know more nontheistic works than the newest crop of nonbelievers!

The results are similar for the believing side, as well. Although generally kinder, hostility exists aplenty, some at a level too stunning to ponder for long. One need only visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzGbSL7om5E to see the depths that a believer (who otherwise has some decent presentations of arguments for God) can fall despite their moral conscience. To those not well-read on the believing side, there's more than what your pastor told you - Craig, Plantinga, classic Aquinas, and many others will expand your philosophy, but as with atheists, you ought to read works which challenge these thinkers, also. One ultimately believes or disbelieves honestly through his or her own reason, not that of a Michael Martin or a N.T. Wright.

As for the "top ten worst," I must first state that the following list represents my own opinion, and should NOT be regarded as a definitive statement of belief on the part of any other poster here on this blog. This is from my own experience and is a reflection of my own worldview. So take it with a pillar of salt, if not just a grain. :)

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TOP FIVE WORST THEISTIC ARGUMENTS

5. "Atheists killed so many people this past century. Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao, ..."

While true, this argument presupposes that atheism in and of itself was responsible for their atrocities. But while some of these deaths indeed were due to participation in beliefs, such executions serve more as an autobiography of these dictators' worldviews in general.

If one should, in the dictator's view, dedicate one's life to the State, then it would follow under their wicked conviction that those who dedicated their lives to God ought to die. But even in these cases where belief was the cause of their untimely death, the underlying worldview used atheism as a tool to further the overall dictatorial structure. Atheism, like any other claim on theism, should never be instigated as law. But it does not follow that there is something inherent in atheism qua atheism which logically necessitates the murder of believers.

4. Pascal's Wager.

I don't have much to say about this argument, other than its presupposition that the Christian God is the only one to consider within the sole context of this wager. Many critics like to come up with cute additions, such as gods who would eternally reward nonbelievers, but the real axe to the head of the wager is that it fails to include Allah, a widely believed Deity Who punishes nonbelievers eternally as well.

And that counterexample doesn't even concede internal Christian struggles, such as exclusive High Calvinism (the belief that only Calvinists will be Saved), Church of Christ exclusivity, denominations which lack belief in Hell, and so on.

Long ago I once heard an anecdote about a rather forward preacher saying that if he were God, he'd send "just in case" believers on the fastest bobsled to Hell. After all, escaping the possibility of Hell does not mean you follow what Christ gave as the Greatest Commandment - to love God with all one's being.

3. "You have to believe in God - you don't think nothing made everything, do you?"

With apologies to my friend Mr. Comfort, this one's just a flat-out clunker, for it implies there was a time which nothing existed, followed by time in which the Universe began to exist. But there is no "time before time," since time is correlated one-to-one with the existence of the Universe! This fact is universally accepted by philosophers and scientists alike who have reflected on the question carefully. Even the greatest arguer for the Kalam Cosmological Argument, Dr. William Lane Craig, recognizes this despite the rhetorical appeal of the statement (1).

2. The Watchmaker argument.

All right. This one's an argument I have to harp on my fellow skeptics about - it's bad, really bad, and nonetheless it seems, especially recently, like the ultimate argument to refute when discussing atheism.

And it still crops up, sometimes in its more applicable form (e.g. its cousin the Fine-Tuning Argument, seen most famously from Drs. Craig and Geisler, involving the universal constants and their narrow range for life; this is worlds better and more challenging, albeit faulty) but, for the novice apologist, it's still the old watch on the beach.

The problem, of course, is that a watch by definition is a man-made object, a fact which, if unrecognized, of course ties the budding skeptic opponent in knots; however, once one realizes the trick of using a man-made object in a presentation of a hypothetical natural object of great structure, the argument can be slain with little effort. Many highly organized and complex structures are observed directly in nature - my typical example as a stormchaser is a classic springtime supercell, which, in some cases, may form from completely disorganized hazy soup to a finely stacked, rotating, platelike structure with distinct parts and functioning. At times, these natural structures may even pop seemingly from nothing to form a large and devastating tornado within half an hour. With meteorological knowledge of shear, atmospheric energy, frontal boundaries and drylines, lifting mechanisms, and many other detailed physical contributors, these extraordinarily complex phenomena can be accounted solely by the forces of nature.

1. "Hitler was an atheist! Einstein believed in God!"

Guess what the top bad atheist argument will be? The description of these two assertions is right down there with their atheist brothers in horror.

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TOP FIVE WORST ATHEISTIC ARGUMENTS

5. "Stupid ignorant barbarians made it up a long time ago to explain stuff."

While valid rhetoric if stated properly, this version is what I've seen the most. Looking past the almost always inherent prejudice mixing up lack of cultural knowledge with lack of innate intelligence, the conclusion doesn't even follow from the statement. It's what's known as the genetic fallacy, or the logical error which associates a belief's truth value directly with the nature of those from whom the belief originated.

4. "There are no proofs for God. Therefore, God does not exist."

This would be like saying "there are no proofs for Fermat's Last Theorem. Therefore, it's false," which would've made a laughingstock out of any professional mathematician making such a claim before Wiles' proof. While I am not harmonious with its companion, now on buses in a city near you - "Therefore, God probably does not exist" (I personally gripe because of the inability to assess such probability meaningfully) - this statement at least does not commit the logical fallacy of the Argument from Ignorance.

A companion statement is that one is not called upon to prove a negative. However, if it may be given to the theist that the Theistic God is not internally incomprehensible, and that the Theist has attributed observable evidence to this Deity, then if the atheist wishes to state that this God definitely does not exist, he or she must attribute the Theists' given evidences to another cause. Otherwise, the skeptic in this case must claim the aforementioned position of agnostic-atheism. A more concrete example of what I mean is that it is possible to disprove logically that there exists a Jupiter-sized planet between here and Mars (assuming equivocation is not performed), for one may demonstrate that the "Jupiterists" evidences are not present, or in the case of, say, some gravity anomaly, that an entity other than a planet is the cause. This would logically prove the negative.

3. "You're all atheists to Zeus, Thor, and all that; I just believe in one God less than you do."

This is rhetoric that Dan Barker commonly uses in debates to get a chuckle from the crowd and loosen up the seriousness a bit. Incredibly, I've recently witnessed some atheists using this as a proof that God doesn't exist. I will not name names, but one of these atheists was participating in a formal debate. While a cute icebreaker in the proper context (I once heard a theist counter with, "you're a theist like me; I just believe in one more god than you"), it is disappointing to see this crop up as an actual supposed argument. Remember, folks, an atheist is one who holds, roughly stated, that no gods AT ALL as so far defined, exist, NOT that one god in particular doesn't exist. Barker probably is aware of this and, again, just uses it as rhetoric - that's as most as it should be worth when you're not joking or illustrating a point. In and of itself, it's a category error if you use it as an official argument!

2. "God can't exist. If He did, then could He make a boulder so heavy He couldn't lift it?"

This is a beast of a bad argument that just won't die, and it's usually stated with an air of triumph. This one's close to my own heart, because there's a post deep in the Secular Web archives a dozen years or so back, where I, as a new and haughty atheist and devout parrot of Ingersoll, confidently proclaimed this like one who is settling one of mankind's biggest questions and closing the books of the most important philosophers in history during a break between Abstract Algebra and Computer Science II.

The argument, of course, attempts to show that omnipotence is incoherent. I think I saw an attempt to sophisticate this argument long ago, but even if that could be done, the vast majority of theists this side of Cornelius Van Til don't hold God as being able to do the logically impossible.

1. "Hitler was a Catholic! Einstein was an atheist!"

Sharing first place with bad theistic arguments are the two gentlemen who, among novices, seem to be the two top theologians of all time. Inevitably, it's one's religious worldview that always generates their respective theological conclusions, with Hitler always taking the opponent's side and Einstein always taking the side of the arguer. On Youtube, news talk shows, soundbitten radio programs, and in churches and skeptic meetings alike all across the world, the greatest authority of belief in God and the greatest authority of disbelief in God will almost always make an appearance in an uninformed discussion (and, shamefully, in many informed ones). And in every case, they become the ultimate paragons of their assigned beliefs - which may, 24 hours later in the same coffee shop chair but with a different know-it-all pontificating in it, switch completely in their nature.

This is just a shameful embarrassment. Not only does the conclusion not follow either way, but the transparency of bringing up these names for effect is clear. These men were not theologians, and even if they spent all their lives reading up on Warranted Christian Belief or the Impossibility of God or whatever, the actions which defined their lives do not in any way take away or add to the validity of the beliefs that they are for the moment assigned.

Keep on trucking with as bad of arguments as you want, both sides of 'ya. But stop this one, okay? Einstein pleaded to not be brought up in this framework, and I'm gonna respect his wish from now on; Hitler, of course, deserves no mention for anything outside of the context of the study of man's inhumanity to man. Likewise, I'll duke it out if you think one of these bad arguments is better than I think --- as long as you're not gonna defend this one.

And if this blog ends up with hundreds of replies full of bitter debates on Hitler-believed-this or Einstein-believed-that, the tiny, far distant cry you'll all hear will be me when I recognize how inevitable Godwin's Law is. :)

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Hope you all had fun with the list - remember, it's just my opinion, and not necessarily that of the other writers here (I know in particular the prove the negative comment and the critique of the atheists killed x people last century comment are a bit like topic grenades, but just remember, this half of this post is meant more for fun than serious argumentation and criticism).



42 comments:

Sye TenB said...

Hey Darrin,

I sense more intellectual honesty in you than most atheists/agnostics that I encounter, and perhaps in the future we can get together and have a good exchange. I don't know if you are familliar with my website, but it may give you something to chew on.

Cheers,

Sye

Darrin said...

Heya Sye,

I saw you at CC's blog earlier today. I challenged you to a debate on TAG, if John (owner of this blog) approves, we could do a couple of rounds over time both here (for my side) and on your blog.

I've been waiting quite a while for two or three people well-versed in TAG to see my arguments - I have one already, you'd make two if you accept! :)

Darrin said...

Oh, Sye, just to fact-check: Van Til DID in fact hold that God could do at least some logically impossible things, right?

Sye TenB said...

Darrin said: "Oh, Sye, just to fact-check: Van Til DID in fact hold that God could do at least some logically impossible things, right?"

I doubt it, as I understand it, it was his position (and is mine) that logic is derived from God's very nature, and God cannot be 'not God.' It would be like asking "Could God do at least some things that are impossible for God to do?"

As far as a debate goes, keep me posted as to how you would like to do this. I'm tied up with a few blogs now, but they usually die down after a while.

Eternal Critic said...

Hey sye. Your little quiz on your site is logically flawed and completely stacked towards a foregone conclusion, which I'm sure you know.

I.E, in step one: Saying one does not believe in absolute truth and asserting a true or false question about whether one absolutely believes that, does not speak to a belief in an all emcompassing abolute truth. Facts are absolutely true. Caesar was killed on the floor of the senate, 2+2=4. but those aren't what one would consider truths, those are facts but hardly what any philosopher would consider great Truth. Ontological truth is not the only truth.

Step 7: Saying laws of science and mathematics are unchanging is one thing, but saying morality has not is absurd. It is clear that over time morality has evolved and changed. The Jews murdered children and women according to the supposed orders of God. Why is it now wrong to do so? Clearly this has changed. Nobody today would argue that a jericho situation is acceptable.

I'd continue the quiz, but the fallacious conclusions are already clear.

strangebrew said...

Playing foregone conclusions appears to be a theists only way through the maze of logical thought!

They think they know where they are going...but like to rig it as a certainty!

Tis neither clever nor honest...but each to their own!

kiwi said...

Those are very bad arguments indeed. So bad that I wonder, have you actually heard any people use them? ;)

Worst theistic arguments:

5) I have never heard it as an argument for theism. The Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao argument is a counterargument to the claim that religion is the source of all evil.

4) Pascal's wager is not an "argument"; it just gives a pragmatic reason to believe. It cannot be an argument for theism, as it acknowledges that theism could be false.

3) Bad argument indeed.

2) I don't think the design argument is that bad. The uniformity, apparent design and beauty of the universe IS puzzling, if theism is not true. The argument obviously does not work alone, but in a cumulative case for theism it cannot be dismissed so easily.

1) No comment.

Worst atheistic arguments

5) Atheists often commit the genetic fallacy it seems.

4) I've never seen this argument used. The claim I see all the time is: "There is no evidence for God, therefore we should act as if God doesn't exist".

3) Meaningless atheist slogan that serves no purpose in any context.

2) Maybe I'm missing something, but why using the term "omnipotence" in the first place, if actually God can't do this, this and that?

1) No comment.

sunnyskeptic said...

I guess I haven't really heard any atheists use those arguments seriously, except maybe the very young ones who are immature and just coming out in regards to their atheism.

I guess what I hate most of all is when you do point out to someone who believes that only religion can give you morals that there are bad people who are religious AND non-religious, they always just say no, and that the bad people aren't 'real christians'. I mean, I would never say a bad atheist wasn't a real atheist, I would just say they were an asshole... I don't know why they can't own up to the fact that there are just good and bad people in the world, and that's just the way it is.

goprairie said...

here's another worst theistic argument: that sye's stupid website that changes the meanings of words proves god exists. what a joke. smugness does not make something true. or useful.

Sye TenB said...

goprarie said: ” smugness does not make something true. or useful.”

Is that true? If so, what makes THAT true?

Steven Carr said...

"Stupid ignorant barbarians made it up a long time ago to explain stuff."

I see.

So if somebody stupid and ignorant just makes up a claim that black people are inferior to white people, it is committing the genetic fallacy to point out that that claim was just made up by a stupid ignorant person?

And if L. Ron Hubbard makes up Scientology, it is committing the genetic fallacy to point out that it is just made up?

Personally I think Jesus was a robot created by Mr. Spock from Star Trek, as an early version of Data from Star Trek - TNG

Of course, I just made that up.....

What is wrong with pointing out that made up things are made up?

Congratulations on having Norman Geisler as a friend on Facebook.

SE said...

Steven Carr,
you have a great talent for stating the obvious when no one else is willing to. Don't ever stop.

Sye,
your website, unfortunately, is so bad it's not even fair to call it illogical (that would be a compliment, actually). I'm willing to believe, however, that you don't realize this, and are well meaning in trying to lead others to what you view as the truth.

As to this: goprarie said: ” smugness does not make something true. or useful.”

Is that true? If so, what makes THAT true?


Well, Sye, I'm afraid it's self-evident, or do you honestly think smugness does make something true?

Eternal Critic said...

Is that true? If so, what makes THAT true?"

Sometimes things are self evident Sye. You've attempted to try and "prove" something backwards. You've started with an assertion, and are looking to make that true through the questions you asked.

You've also fallaciously concluded that for something to exist in any fashion something must -make- it so. I pity the people who fall for your arguments due to their superficial clarity.

kiwi said...

A lot could be said about Sye TenB "proof". In short, it is a complete mess.

First, if there would be an irrefutable proof that God exists, you can be sure that all the Christian apologists in the world would use it to convert people. The fact that so many of them avoid those kind of arguments like plague should tell you something.

"Absolute truth exists" and "absolute truth does not exist" are both meaningless claims, unless they are clarified.

Basically the argument is that we can't account for abstractions (like the laws of logic) if the universe is material only. But... This is obviously absurd. Yes, we do claim that the laws of logic exist, but they "exist" as abstract principles, they don't exist out there, so there is no need to account for them.

Harry Potter exists as a fictional character, but Harry Potter doesn't "exist". I don't need to account for the existence of Harry Potter, all I need is to point out is that Harry Potter is a fictional character. Similarly, I don't need to "account" for the laws of logic, all I need is to point out that they are useful abstract principles.

Also, you seem to think the only alternative to materialism is theism. This is false. A person could accept your reasoning and still not be a theist. Ie, one could believe there is more to reality than the material universe, and be able to account for abstract realities, without being a theist.

(I'm not even going to bother commenting the crass "if you don't believe in God it is because you repress the truth".)

trendyhipster said...

"... the vast majority of theists this side of Cornelius Van Til don't hold God as being able to do the logically impossible"

Most theist claim that their God is all knowing and all powerful, which is logically impossible. God can do the logically impossible when it helps the theists case, like needing their deity to be the most powerful and most knowing. God can't do the logically impossible only when it doesn't matter

NAL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darrin said...

>> kiwi

It's unbelievable, but I've heard them frequently on "wider" forums such as Youtube commentaries and websites involving bands whose fans are generally religious (or irreligious) but not at all well-versed in the arguments.

Theists use the Pol Pot/Stalin/Mao thing in literally every interview they have on a national news network which involves interaction with or questions about atheism. I didn't put the atheist parallel "theists had the Inquisition, yak yak yak" but that's IMO a marginally better argument as one is supposed to stand for a Deity during those torturous events (it's still faulty though). But I digress.

In public, amongst friends and family, and with understandably (but regrettably) malinformed preachers and high school "rebel atheists," the Hitler and Einstein appeal is by far and away the number one argument used. If someone I know is not well-versed confronts me, it's typically only a matter of time. If you've confronted the coffehouse, thick-rimmed glasses, Joel Osteen-totin' Christian, you're guaranteed that this presentation will be FIRST for you to supposedly ponder and say, "hey, man, Einstein, who could disagree with the smartest man in the world? And I don't wanna believe what Hitler did and say God doesn't exist! Gollee gee, I guess you guys win!"

Man, if I had a nickel ... and, worse, if you search out Facebook, you'll find out that there are dedicated videos on the topic of Einstein's and Hitler's theologies. Don't even get me started on PalTalk lol.

So yes, I hear those ALL the time, but hardly ever from the people in the midst of the arguments. These are things you'll find in the convos with your local church group, or at the cigarette hideout next to the high schools. In short, these are the ones that the people who do not have the time nor interest (nor, sadly, aptitude) to study always repeat.

Except the "one less God" one. Like I said, it isn't an argument, and I think Barker et. al. don't intend it to be one. At most it's just a little exercise in equivocation to make the believer think like an outsider. But it's not really prominent outside of a growing few in the Atheist v. Theist room in PalTalk and a few very serious and straight-faced ragers on Youtube. I don't think it's in any way harmful to name names, thinking about it: I believe it was either Zindler or Stein that put it up seriously and not as a "warm up your brain" icebreaker and humorous bit.

BTW I didn't mean to imply that these were arguments directly for God's existence or God's nonexistence for each and every case here. But some, unfortunately, are confusing them as such. Pascal's Wager was my old Youth Minister's favorite "apologetic argument" back at Colonial Baptist in my hometown in Texas. He'd draw the square and everything.

There is actually one Theistic argument and one Atheistic argument that would have bumped the list up a little, but both of these are way, way too controversial in their respective circles for me to even mention in a post meant more as non-serious, pop commentary than actual scholarship. The atheist one in particular would potentially stuff this commentary with more spite, hate, ridicule, and so-on some-such, than if I came out and posted that I believed on a Kierkegaardian leap of faith and now spoke in tongues. There are a few people very well-spoken and studied for one version of this argument, although even some of them are haughty; the pop version of this argument is not only horrendous, but is becoming widespread throughout "Youtube atheism" as the ultimate, Da Vinci Code-esque secret lorded over the believer as the supposed ultimate Christianity-killer.

Oh, okay, it's the astrological/Pagan influences-prove-Jesus-never-existed Zeitgeist argument, spread like the Superflu by that particular piece of filth Anti-Semitic movie. And everyone arguing Myth from this take is, nearly without exception, the most militant of believer and nonbeliever alike.

inb4 10,000 replies to this

Darrin said...

>>NAL

Careful to not just skim, my friend. Read that whole paragraph. I promise my writing, while amateur, isn't as boring as a 200+ paper on elliptical curves from Wiles would be =D

Sye TenB said...

Eternal Critic said: ”Hey sye. Your little quiz on your site is logically flawed and completely stacked towards a foregone conclusion, which I'm sure you know.”

Is it absolutely flawed? How do you account for the laws of logic by which you make this claim, and why do they necessarily apply to my website?

Sye TenB said...

Strangebrew said: ” Playing foregone conclusions appears to be a theists only way through the maze of logical thought!”

How do you know that your reasoning about this, or anything is reliable? A foregone conclusion perhaps?

Sye TenB said...

SE said: ” Well, Sye, I'm afraid it's self-evident, or do you honestly think smugness does make something true?”

No, but if we are going to reduce our argument to self-evident truth, then the existence of God is self-evident. Enjoyed the debate!

Sye TenB said...

Kiwi said: ” Yes, we do claim that the laws of logic exist, but they "exist" as abstract principles, they don't exist out there, so there is no need to account for them.”

I don’t need to account for God, cause he exists ‘out there.’ Thanks, enjoyed the debate!

NAL said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sye TenB said...

Trendyhipster said: ” Most theist claim that their God is all knowing and all powerful, which is logically impossible.”

According to which laws of logic is this impossible, how do you account for those laws, and why do they necessarily apply here?

kiwi said...

"I don’t need to account for God, cause he exists ‘out there.’ Thanks, enjoyed the debate!"

Hum... Okay?

Damien said...

What I liked most about Sye's quiz was the part on moral values. I played along with the obviously slanted wordage and chose the option that harming children could be right (forget that there is no option for "it is neither right nor wrong, ultimately" so I had to substitute) and then I was told that I am a hypocrite that obviously is lying about my morality and that I need to take a time out and think about how wrong I am.

FLAWLESS ARGUMENT! I'm surprised this isn't in the papers by now. "Theist Destroys Atheism With The Argument From 'Get Lost'"

Darrin said...

Sye, I'm gonna create a new post with your link here in a bit, so you can move the debate there, to make sure people have their say on this post in particular. Besides, if I put the link out there, it's probably going to attract ten times as many people for you to engage, lol.

Drawing up some outlines of what I need to do, but I have to know, as a necessary precondition to making an official post challenging your TAG, what you define "Laws of Logic" to be. I will ask that question officially in the upcoming post linking your site, so put your answer there as well for people interested in my upcoming response to reference.

Looking forward to it! Hang on just a second and I'll get that link up here.

Darrin said...

>>sunnyskeptic

You in fact reminded me of an omission!

Academic Apologetics' most heinous argument by far is when the line "if God did not exist, there would be nothing really wrong with raping a little child" is presented. I always get a little shocked hearing Dr. Craig state that at all. It's his lowest moment by far, sort of like the gentleman who posted the video asking why all atheists don't kill themselves.

I'm not sure if Bill really understands the gravity of what he's saying, but it's one of the worst presentations ever. He's not the only one guilty of that by ANY means. The argument itself is a respectable case, but the intended "extreme examples" are often so bad that it takes away attention from the underlying case itself.

Darrin said...

>>Stephen Carr

Good point to reflect on here:

//
What is wrong with pointing out that made up things are made up?//

You'll have to pardon my amateur status, but I'll propose that if you either know by experience or can logically prove via evidence or logic that human(s) "X" created "Y," and that "Y" could have not arisen any other way (might be easier than it sounds here ...) then you can avoid even the tightest claim of this fallacy.

Of course some of the examples you gave admitted right off the bat they were made up (the Data example etc.) so in that case it's quite an easy exercise.

What's not so easy is MY case, namely that Tony Stark built the entirety of the New Testament in a cave. With a box of scraps.

Gandolf said...

Hi Darren,i agree with much within your post.

But i also maybe think that though some arguments on either side might get hard to handle and can make people cringe.Its still maybe better to have (more) people discussing these things.As in the past we humans maybe have not bothered or maybe even been a little to frightened to.

And people have many different levels of knowledge and intelligence,and to learn have to start somewhere.

Sure sometimes its best to keep quiet and listen and learn,speaking for myself there is plenty of times i find myself way out of depth and just read and listen trying to learn in silence.

But as you even said in your post you remember beginnings where you discussed things you would not really bother with now.I wonder if when you think about what you learned in the process,was it then really such a waste of time?.

Im sure many people when these things are discussed might feel a bit of headache coming on ,but a little patience and/or even a few pointers thrown in might help pave the way.And unless its a locked room where you have to physically remain in torture ,it seems to me mostly we only need to read or listen to what we choose.

I could be very wrong and im almost thinking twice of posting this,but hey if i dont ask the questions and discuss it.I`ll still be left wondering.

P.S....I also agree discussion works best if it can be kept friendly.And i dont like being rude or nasty ,but still maybe? at times there is a need for being frank or the use of some humor.

What do you and others think.

Sye TenB said...

Darrin,

If you just want to post the link, please put it into the form of a challenge. I have been joking around with the folks here, but I am spread too thin to engage in a free for all.

It is my contention that universal, abstract, invariant laws are based in the nature and character of God, as He has revealed to us in His word. I also proceed with the expectation that the laws of logic will continue to hold based on God's requirements of us, and His promises to us.

Now, the people here may disagree with my foundation for logic, but I would like the challenge to be such that I will endeavour to engage those who provide an account of, or explain how, universal, abstract, invariant laws make sense in their worldview, and on what basis they proceed with the assumption that they WILL hold.

The we can compare claims. (This tends to whittle out those who are only interested in drive-by mud slinging).

Sye TenB said...

Darrin,

I see that you have posted it already. Alright, let me review, and I'll get back to you.

Jason Long said...

I actually don't think atheist arguments 5 and 2 are bad. While 5 doesn't necessarily prove anything, people will generally agree that some variation of 5 will explain most religions that are not their own (without the tone of bigotry). 2 makes sense to me in the fact that God is the creator of the universe, and therefore the creator of laws of logic. To suggest that God created something he cannot undo is absurd to me. Otherwise, God himself would have to be logic, which is also absurd to me. Just my opinion.

Gandolf said...

Darrin need to apologize!,just noticed i made a rather stupid spelling mistake with your name.

Totally unintended sorry !,i have a friend with the same name yet spelled the way i have.

I should have double checked more thoroughly.

David B. Ellis said...


I saw you at CC's blog earlier today.


What blog are you referring to?

Could you link to it?

strangebrew said...

'Strangebrew said: ” Playing foregone conclusions appears to be a theists only way through the maze of logical thought!”

How do you know that your reasoning about this, or anything is reliable? A foregone conclusion perhaps?'

Only to a theist apparently!

RD Miksa said...

Good Day Darrin,

I just wanted to address an issue concerning your statements about Pascal's Wager. I have actually written a derivative version of the Wager titled "The Evolutionary Wager: How the Ideas of Charles Darwin, Richard Dawkins and Evolution Itself Negate Atheism and Point to Christianity" which I would love for you to look at and critique, if you have the time and the inclination. This essay can be found at www.theevolutionarywager.blogspot.com or I could e-mail it to you in a Word Document--my e-mail is rdmiksa@gmail.com. This "Evolutionary Wager" addresses and answers all the objections normally raised against Pascal's Wager.

For example, you state that one of the problems with Pascal's Wager is that "the real axe to the head of the wager is that it fails to include Allah, a widely believed Deity Who punishes nonbelievers eternally as well."

While this specific objection seems powerful initially, it fails on close inspection. The reason is that in Islam, being an atheist is considered to be a much greater sin than being a "Person of the Book," so if, for example, one had to chose between Christianity, Islam or Atheism, the wager may not help one choose between Christianity or Islam, but it would certainly push an individual to choose either one over atheism. Furthermore, verses in the Koran seem to indicate that Christians will also be saved, which would, pragmatically speaking, incline one to choose Christianity over Islam because as a Christian, Allah will save you anyway. (“Believers, Jews, Christians, and Sabaeans—whoever believes in God and the Last Day and does what is right—shall be rewarded by their Lord; they have nothing to fear or to regret (Koran V. 2:62[130]).”)

Anyway, I address all these points in the Evolutionary Wager and if you would like to read it, please let me know.

Thank you and take care.

RD Miksa

kiwi said...

RD Miksa, interesting.

I would disagree with (1). Why should we fullfill our evolutionary drive to the maximal level?

Evolution is a "blind" process; to model our life based on a blind process is not rational, it is like letting a blind person driving our car.

We should make decisions based on goals we have set; I think it is much more rational. Most people who are intellectually curious about the universe and life will tend to care about truth, so they'll choose a worldview that is most likely to be true, not the most useful for survival.

Perhaps some people will pick the Christian worldview for pragmatic reasons. I don't have a problem with that. But I personally would not feel comfortable to pick a worldview that way.

Prometheus said...

If it is a study of Christian evidences that you are interested in, I highly recommend the paperback "Who Was Jesus? Fingerprints of the Christ" by D. M. Murdock It is a CSI type investigation into all the evidences put forward by Christians.

Kyle P. said...

Hey everyone, sorry I'm late to the game. Darrin, you said,
"The argument, of course, attempts to show that omnipotence is incoherent. I think I saw an attempt to sophisticate this argument long ago, but even if that could be done, the vast majority of theists this side of Cornelius Van Til don't hold God as being able to do the logically impossible."

That's about the only thing that I found disagreeable. The reason is that even from Van Til on, theists still don't have a good response. The reason is that it is NOT logically impossible to create a stone so big that we cannot lift it. It is only because of their ridiculous definition of "god" that the claim becomes "being able to do the logically impossible." That does not mean the argument itself is flawed, but rather than their definition is wrong (in my opinion).

I'll be reading with great interest - Dr. Stephen Law had a...less than interesting discussion with Sye before. Sye uses the argumentum ad nauseum approach to debate, so just be aware of that (or you will be after the 9th or 10th time he repeats his only line).

Swimmy Lionni said...

RD Miksa,

I agree with kiwi that evolution provides no moral imperative. Furthermore, picking religions has nothing to do with maximizing genetic fitness, as we cannot reproduce after we die.

Since you seem to be into decision theory, Julian Sanchez's quick take is, I think, even better than the "infinitely many gods" argument.

UNRR said...

This post has been linked for the HOT5 Daily 2/15/2009, at The Unreligious Right