Is Richard Dawkins the Liar?: “Doctor” Jim West’s Dishonesty Revealed

Psychoanalysis is a common method for delegitimizing atheists. For example, Paul Vitz's Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism (2000) tries to show that atheism correlates with absent fathers. Jim Spiegel, a professor at Taylor University, gives us his psychoanalytic theory of atheism in the title of his book, The Making of An Atheist: How Immorality Leads to Unbelief (2010).

Aside from offering poor and arbitrary evidence, this type of psychoanalysis also deflects attention from the merits of any case that atheists themselves express for their views. So, instead of actually listening to reasons atheists give, it is enough for such theists to couch their explanations for atheism in psychoanalytic jargon that features anger, bitterness, and immorality.

Often overlooked is that this sort of reductionist psychoanalytic explanation also undermines the case for theism. For if belief and unbelief are linked to the relationship with one’s parents, then theism may also be due, not to the merits of a believer’s case for God, but to whether that believer gets along with his or her parents.

In any case, Jim West, a popular biblioblogger, recently has made another attempt to apply a psychoanalytic tactic to Richard Dawkins, Bart Ehrman, John Loftus, and to me.

However, this attempt unwittingly reveals more about West than about his initial targets for psychoanalysis. West’s psychoanalytic tactics are found in Richard Dawkins Is a Liar

West is reacting to a poll, conducted by the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, that showed Britain to be less Christian than West apparently would like it to be. See UK poll.

So, West questions the type of people in the sample, and then offers these speculative musings:
“So what kind of ‘Christians’ did the “Dawkins” foundation interview? Disenchanted ones who hang out on message boards hosted by angry atheists? Or did he send his tools into actual Churches and ask actual Christians their views? I doubt it was the latter. Or did he poll angry ‘people’ who used to be ‘Christians’ but who turned from their faith because God didn’t heal them (Avalos) or because they think they’re smarter than God (Ehrman) or because they couldn’t manage their own lives and marriages and blamed God for it (Loftus)...”

Having provided only speculative questions, rather than any actual evidence of Dawkins’s lies, West gives himself license to conclude this:
“Trusting research by Dawkins is like trusting satan to tell the truth.”

Again, there is no actual evidence presented anywhere that Dawkins lied, as is clearly stated in the title of West’s essay.

But, West did unwittingly provide evidence that he himself lied or manufactured data. In doing so, he revealed more about his own psychology than he does about the atheists he targets. According to West, I am one of those
“who turned from their faith because God didn’t heal them (Avalos)...”

Not only is this untrue, but West provides no source from me to justify that claim. In my own biographical accounts, I have repeatedly specified that any chronic illness I encountered occurred AFTER I had become an atheist. Besides, it is difficult to be angry for not being healed by beings that I don’t believe exist (e.g., I am not angry at Zeus or fairies either, by the way).

You would expect that someone accusing Dawkins of lying would then have enough integrity to not manufacture some biographical feature about another person. Or you would expect that someone criticizing Dawkins’s research methods would be willing to offer a source for a such a specific claim (i.e., Avalos turned from his faith because God did not heal him). Otherwise, a charge of hypocrisy seems apt.

West, indeed, did not just try to again portray me as some angry atheist, but he cited a very SPECIFIC REASON for my supposed anger (failure to be healed by God).

When I asked West for his source, he would not offer one. When I asked him to retract his statement, given that he had no source and was now told that his claim was untrue, he simply posted another blog entry titled “Hector Avalos Threats...” with a quote from me:Avalos Threats

That post does not explain to readers the specific claim for which I am requesting a retraction, and so West simply obscures the true context of my request and my quote.

Instead, West makes himself sound courageously defiant:
“I’m not retracting anything and Avalos and all those who align themselves with him or agree with him can do and say as they wish.”

West now makes it seem as though I asked for a retraction for something entirely different or arbitrary. In fact, one clueless individual named Esteban Vázquez interpreted my quote as follows:
“You know, it takes a BIG MAN to threaten someone with a hatchet job for the unspeakable sin of contradicting and dismissing the rock star televangelist of their feverish religion.”

Yet the retraction was not requested because West contradicted me about some arbitrary matter, but because he claimed something that was untrue about my biography and for which he offered no evidence in an essay about Dawkins being a liar. People certainly deserve the right to correct their own biography.

So, at the same time that West waxes indignant that Dawkins lies (supposedly), he is busy telling untruths of his own. West does not bother to support his claims with actual research or sources, but he feels free to say that Dawkins’s research cannot be trusted. What sort of mindset is that?

Of course, this is not the first time that West has been caught using manufactured evidence. In a post from December 7, 2011, he offered this quote suggesting Charles Darwin’s repentance for his earlier beliefs Darwin quote:
I was a young man with uninformed ideas. I threw out ideas, queries, suggestions, wondering all the time about everything. And to my astonishment my ideas took like wild fire. People made a religion of them. ~ Charles Darwin

West offered no specific source for the quote from Darwin’s writings, and other scholars of Darwin have noted that it comes from a secondary source and/or is probably manufactured. See: Undocumented Darwin quotes

Yet, West has not retracted this quote despite a comment that brought this problem to his attention on his own thread.

Yes, this is the same Jim West who claims to have a doctorate from an institution whose existence and accreditation are questionable, and at the same time questions Richard Dawkins’s honesty and integrity. See further: West’s academic claims

This is the same Jim West who said once that he would never blog again, and the who, on November 29, 2010, wrote a post titled: “In which I Respond, for the Last Time, to Hector Avalos.” For the Last Time

But West cannot stop responding to me despite promises to never respond again to me. So perhaps West cannot remember all the untruths he has told, or perhaps he does not know his own mind too well, or perhaps his will is not his own. Whatever the reason, it looks as if some serious psychotherapy is in order for this Avalos addiction he has developed.

I don’t believe in psychoanalyzing theists or atheists without some firm evidence, especially in the form of statements by the subjects themselves. However, atheists cannot leave such psychoanalytic drivel unchallenged, especially when theists are just as vulnerable to manufactured or speculative motives for their theism.

But, we can at least reasonably pose these questions to “Doctor” Jim West:

1. What sort of person manufactures specific motives for a person’s atheism at the same time that he accuses prominent atheists of lying?

2. What sort of person refuses to offer a source when asked to support his claims about the biography of another person?

3. What sort of person refuses to retract an untrue statement after he is told that he has no basis for that statement?

4. Can you provide a specific source to support your specific claim that I am one of those who “turned from their faith because God didn’t heal them (Avalos)”?

5. If you cannot provide a source, would you admit that you are knowingly telling an untruth, and so are not following the same moral standards that you expect of Richard Dawkins and others whom you have accused of lying?

Indeed, West’s psychoanalysis of atheists, much like that of other anti-atheist writers, is shown to be without a solid basis in fact. More importantly, such psychoanalysis seems to reveal more about West and his like-minded theist cronies than about the atheists they target.