Apologetics

The Parable of The Angry Fundamentalist New-Agey Cafeteria Christian

Posted on February 25, 2014. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Humour, Original Sin, Personal, Politics, Religion, Science, Social Justice |

Or Why I Don’t Think Your “Angry Fudamentalist Atheist” Exists, Any More Than I Think A Cogent Argument Exists In Your Article

“I believe that science offers solid evidence for God,” she said- eyes peering over her hot cup of coffee.
Was she engaging me because she knows I’m an atheist blogger, I wondered?

"Coffee Talk"-Image by John LeMasney via lemasney.com

“Coffee Talk”-Image by John LeMasney via lemasney.com

Wendy was the wife of a close friend, who had done me a solid the week before. To express my gratitude, I was treating her to coffee at one of those swanky $10 latte joints. Was she trying to be argumentative? I didn’t want an argument. I flashed a coy smile. “Well, I’m not here to judge your personally held beliefs,” I said, “but for the record, the God you believe in is probably so vague that it is immaterial for us to argue the point,” I was trying to diffuse any hostility and maybe open a dialogue about her confused cafeteria Christianity, since she brought it up. She was having none of it.

“No,” she said leaning forward, “I still believe in the biblical God” her words loud enough to push me back in my chair. I tried to pacify her. “I’m not interested in shadowboxing a vaguely effective but specifically affected triune God. You can self-identify how you please ” I said, trying to avoid the inevitable.

“I believe in all of it!” She was becoming increasingly hostile. I was unsure how to respond. Her husband also identified as Christian, but we’d had a great discussion about skepticism as well as relationships, friends and past experiences on a road trip all the way from Toronto to New York City. As I was parsing a reply she cut me off before I could drop a syllable, “I think science and philosophy prove the Christian God.”

Should I tell her I that science can not and will not vindicate personal faith? That the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which infers a more dynamic universe than we previously imagined, doesn’t mean what Deepak Chopra thinks it means? That even the loosest allegorical reading of the Bible is entirely inconsistent with what we understand from evolutionary biology and geology, that there is no place for anything more than the most uninterested of Gods as the artistic author of creation- like the man who first created the first rectangular wooden frame taking credit for the Mona Lisa? It seemed she was more interested in contorting her faith into an abstract forgery of science that might look science-y if you tilted your head and squinted really hard from 100 yards. I wondered if she had ever read a peer-reviewed article in her life. I tried my best to explain.

“You know,” I sighed, “There have been so many discoveries in biology and physics in the past hundred and fifty years, it’s a shame that they haven’t been understood by the informed general public. They talk as though we’re still talking about large gaps in knowledge that could as easily be filled by God as by curiosity. Anything more specific than a ‘Prime Mover’ requires increasingly intricate apologetics that render the biblical Word impotent at best and demonstrably false at worst, leaving someone arguing for the bible as The Word Of God–a God who is like a puppeteer pulling strings, controlling the progression of life, saying, ‘I shall redeem you of Original Sin through faith in Me’- without anything more than naked faith in Bronze Age mythology. That’s nutty. That’s not an open mind, that’s creating religious fan fiction”

She broke in. “But God is an awesome God who used scientific laws to bring forth His Creation!”

“Let’s roll with that idea for now,” I interjected, hoping that my concession might stop her from bottling up, “but you must have some immutable traits of the God you believe in. Everyone does, and many Christians have the same concept of what makes their God uniquely Christian. That He felt His creation was perfect. That He created man in His likeness. That we are cursed by His anger. That He is perfectly moral and just- that salvation can come only through belief in Him.  That He performed and continues to perform miracles big and small. Those facts are definitional to your God. If you claim to be a Christian you must choose to ‘believe’ your God possesses these attributes. Yet all of these premises are logically incompatible with each other- and are equally incompatible with what science has shown us.  Imagine what it would be like if you simultaneously agreed that you were a virgin and the mother of your children, and yet that’s exactly the inconsistency of your epistemology!” I chuckled, knowing that she would immediately get the inside joke. I thought the analogy was apt, that it might make her ask more questions. It didn’t.

“The Bible is as much allegorical as literal” she quipped. “I believe that no inconsistencies exist between facts and the Word of God . I told you: I believe that science proves Christianity!” She rhymed off an incoherent word salad of Deepak Chopra buzzwords. She was becoming increasingly agitated. She started to talk about the very personal experiences she had that made her certain of God. I listened. She raised the holocaust as an example of atheism inspired nihilism, along with some horrors that she thought proved Free Will.

I obliged. “I agree there are horrible people in the world.”

“It’s not just people, it’s the wages of sin. But with such a world, how could you deny we need salvation?” she asked. It was an honestly asked but dishonestly pondered question.

I still proceeded as though I was talking to a liberal thinker, open to discussion. I knew her to be quite liberal on other issues, such as politics and sex. So I took a swig of my Venti fair trade Peruvian dark roast and plunged in, “You know, I think I have something insightful to say about this,” I offered. “If a religion is going to take root and spread- it has to have some explanatory value to the people who adopt it.  If a religion said ‘people are always benevolent’ then you could imagine how worthless that religion might be to people seeking an explanation for observed phenomena.  Religions start the same way science does- with an interesting and perplexing question.  The difference is the process used to provide an answer.  Science tests a hypothesis, religion dictates an answer.  We ‘appear’ to be sinful not because we fell from perfection but because we are risen from instinct.”

“I already told you, I think God is necessary for science to work- Who created the laws of nature and physics?” she interrupted. In her head Laws were created for man, man was not a creation of the laws . I stopped. I wanted to ask what she thought science really said about spirituality, the appropriation and perversion of physics, the hijacking of great thinkers like Einstein and Bohm, who would never have imagined their complicated work being obfuscated to lend credibility to the dubious claims of touchy-feely New Age Mystics. I wanted to, but I didn’t because I realized she didn’t want to engage with the questions; she already knew all the answers. She wasn’t interested in an informed and honest discussion. That’s when I realized….

I was talking to a fundamentalist. What I was saying threatened her very identity and construct of life. My coffee shop companion knew that God existed, and by God the knowns are going to fit the narrative whether they require reshaping or not. Most people adjust their beliefs to new evidence, she just makes the evidence sound something like her belief. Where I would adjust my narrative, she would adjust the knowns. I remembered being told that her mother died a few years ago. Clearly she had wrapped that faith around her like a security blanket.

This was not my first time trying to discuss science with a fundamentalist, but every other time they were Young Earth Creationists or Climate Deniers. The whole conversation seemed eerily similar. I was talking to someone who claimed to know exactly how ‘it’ is, who believed in a flexible, infinite, and compassionate universe that was designed to nurture them (despite every available fact in biology, astronomy and physics) and believed it with a kind of pseudoscientific cognitive dissonance as dogmatic as Biblical literalism.

A fundamentalist is not willing to consider the unsettling possibility that the universe is governed by immutable, explainable, and observable rules that require no intervention in order to function.  A fundamentalist will systematically disabuse themselves any part of a fact that might contradict his/her epistemology or faith, be it carbon dating or theoretical physics. A fundamentalist does not want to examine specifics and presuppositions, or really study and understand concepts, scientific or philosophical, that otherwise could be twisted into ignorant half-truths–similar to the bumper sticker slogan of Biblical literalists, “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.”  The new fundamentalists say “God said it, I wan’t so badly to believe it- that I’ll make the facts agree with it.”

When did Liberal Christians become the new fundamentalists? I have known many Liberal Christians beginning with the Pastor of my past church, who passionately defended the difference between knowledge and faith. But this new breed is different: pompous, unmoved, and belligerent, insistent that science owes them absolution from the sin of blind faith.   These people feel that fundamentalism is the opposite of what they profess, because they have staked out the middle ground. There is no virtue in the middle ground when you are discussing facts- any more than I might call you open minded because I want gays to have equal rights, someone else thinks they should have no rights- and you want to compromise that science recently suggested that “gay” might not even exist. My mind is not blown.  I’m nonplussed. And do you need to be so angry?

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Random Religious Texting: The Great Commission Goes Wireless!

Posted on April 25, 2012. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Internet Etiquette, Original Sin, Personal, Religion |

So I’m sitting at my desk at work the other day just wrapping up with a customer, and my cell phone beeps with an incoming text message.  (I like my phone to make an old-school “beeper” sound when I get text messages, because I’m an ironic hipster.  Hey!  Remember beepers?) 

Anyway, I assume it is my wife, since she texts me about 247 times daily- and since it’s nearing the end of my shift I assume she wants a bottle of wine to have with dinner or that we are out of sour cream to have with the Greek Potatoes.  I check my phone as soon as the customer leaves, and there is a message from a number I don’t recognize.  It’s from a different area code- 519 (Western Ontario, about 5 hours away)- I don’t know anybody who lives there.  The gentleman sending me the message is Philip W. (I assume, since he signed the text “Philip W.”) and he’s either mistyping phone numbers into his phone or randomly texting people  about their “walk with God”.  I’m not sure.

Here is what he wrote- and how I responded:

 

 

I was really hoping he would have texted me back.  That’s the “great” thing about the Great Commission though, you only need to speak the Word- if people don’t want to listen that’s their problem….. even if it is cryptic and insincere.

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Taking On Theology Pt. 1:Original Sin, And Why I Think Christians Have Misread Scripture.

Posted on June 14, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Original Sin, Personal, Religion, Rob Bell, Universalism | Tags: , , , |

Authors Note:  Before deciding to comment on this post, please read other posts on this blog.  I was going to hell (or not) before I wrote this post, and my personal opinion of a longstanding Christian doctrine is the least of my problems, assuming you have some brilliant insight into the veracity and mind of your God.  This post is meant to challenge the doctrine of original sin, and if you think it falls short-the comment box gives you a place to argue your case.

From What Is Clearly Seen…..

When I was a boy, my mother used to read “Bible Stories For Children” to me at bedtime.  The second story in the book was about Adam, Eve, and a talking snake.  It was a watered down but engaging version of the story of “The Fall” from Genesis 3.   When you are a child, you don’t worry yourself with talking snakes, or eternal curses.  What I took away from it is four simple things:

  1. When you are given an order, even if it seems stupid and unreasonable, you may not fully understand the reason why it was commanded, or the consequences

    She obviously grabbed the wrong "low-hanging fruit"

    of disregarding it.

  2. Peer pressure can get you in trouble.
  3. If a snake starts talking to you, you should really just walk it off.
  4. God should have made the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil bear walnuts instead of fruit, at least then it would have made it difficult to eat.  Or at the very least mangoes, because they taste like crap.

As I got older, and started becoming active in church, I learned that other people had interpreted the story entirely different from myself.  There were a few new lessons that I guess I was supposed to garner from Genesis 3.

  1. Women ruin everything.  They are incorrigible.  Men are the head of the household because just look what happens when you let women get their way.
  2. I am born evil.  Adam passed his evil homunculus down to every succeeding generation, making me and my progeny forever culpable from conception for displeasing God.  Way to go, Jackass!

Here’s the thing though.  I read that story in my storybook and in my bible.  I just was not seeing it at all.   So I read it again.  Still not seeing it.  I asked someone else.  They said “Ahh, read Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15, and it will all make sense.”  So I ran to my bible, thinking I had finally got the key that was going to unlock this whole issue.  I read Romans.  Then 1Corinthians.  Then Romans again.  Then I thought, “really?”.

I’m looking at the text, and I’m not seeing man as having a “curse of Adam”, or being born sinful, or depraved. I think there is something instructive about the comparison between the two, or else why would Paul draw the comparison.  Something is being taught here, I just want to examine what that is.   Let’s go verse by verse (All passages in red are from NKJ Version): (more…)

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Why William Lane Craig Is A Vacuous Tit, Part 2: Craig Considers Abortion A “Loving Act”, Feels For The Poor Abortion Doctors Who Do God’s Good Work.

Posted on June 4, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Humour, Religion |

Us atheists hate William Lane Craig.  He’s such a paragon of bullet-proof logic.  I find myself having

Dr. Death shows his fangs in this file photo.

to re-think everything I’ve ever assumed based on his biting critique of my worldview.

God has certainly blessed this man. (fair warning, that link takes you to la-la land)

He almost had me rushing down to the river for a baptism, ready to drown in The Spirit- until I found out that he is not just Pro Choice, a stand I completely agree with….but Pro Abortion.  As in it is the best possible thing for a mother to do.  As in it is preferred to letting fetus’ go full term.

William Lane Craig thinks killing babies is the Christian thing to do.  I can’t possibly condone the senseless murder of children just to save their precious little souls.  I guess I’ll have to remain an atheist.

Quoting Dr. Death himself:

Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation.  We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy.  Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives.

So Dr. Death Craig is making it perfectly clear that the murder of infants actually constitutes their salvation.  My own un-Christian worldview has me tied too firmly to my earthly, naturalistic perspective.  Shame on me for putting earthly value on these poor little souls.  I should be ashamed of myself, I guess.

So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites?  Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgement.  Not the children, for they inherit eternal life.  So who is wronged?  Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli soldiers themselves.  Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children?  The brutalizing effect on these Israeli soldiers is disturbing.

This is where Dr. Death Craig is pleading for Christians to show compassion and

In this photo, Dr. Craig contemplates how he might undermine his own arguments.

mercy to the poor abortion doctors, who are just assisting in the salvation of infants.  Shame on you for being so judgmental!

But then, again, we’re thinking of this from a Christianized, Western standpoint.  For people in the ancient world, life was already brutal.  Violence and war were a fact of life for people living in the ancient Near East.  Evidence of this fact is that the people who told these stories apparently thought nothing of what the Israeli soldiers were commanded to do (especially if these are founding legends of the nation).  No one was wringing his hands over the soldiers’ having to kill the Canaanites; those who did so were national heroes.

That last part dovetails nicely with Dr. Death Craig’s  statements in several debates that morality is objective.  I believe it is.  Dr. Death wants you to know that it isn’t really.  If you lived in  the Bronze Age Middle East, it is entirely relevant to remember and give weight to the moral compass of the time.  Since an eminent and well respected Christian Apologist has told us that proper interpretation of the bible is that morality is relative, and since he concedes along with me that morality is objective, he is de facto telling me that the bible is not to be trusted.

Or maybe he is not to be trusted….

Regardless, William Lane Craig is a Vacuous Tit.

Thanks to Café Witteveen for the heads up.

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Presuppositional Apologetics: More Q & A With Someone Who Has Lots Of Q, But Lost All His A….

Posted on May 28, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Religion, TAG-Pressupposational Theology |

He Keeps Losing His A’s….Maybe He’s an “A-Hole”

I have been having a presuppositional debate discussion talking to  with Dan for the past two weeks or so, where he has continued to take the only tack that a presuppositionalist can take.  He has lots of questions, he has no answers.  TAG (Transcendental Argument for God) theology continues to be a combination of really good and really irrelevant questions  designed to question the basis of the atheist worldview.  It doesn’t positively argue anything, it just assumes that if a Christian can confuse someone with a competing worldview, that this makes Christianity true by default.  Those who play the presuppositional game will rarely answer your questions.  That is not part of the trick.  Answering questions would reveal how bereft their own worldview is, so the focus must always be on the competing worldview.

Dan’s last comment, where he dutifully dodged answering any questions about his worldview, proves this point:

I have too many questions that you NEED to answer to move on. Your refusal to answer such questions places the discussion in a stale moment and stalls the entire point I wish to direct the conversation to.

Truer words have rarely been spoken by Dan.  He does NEED me to continue to feed his script.  He DOES want to direct this conversation somewhere my questions would complicate.  If I refuse, I rob him of the fodder he needs to continue the semantic game that is TAG apologetics, but afford him the opportunity to imply that I lack the ability to answer.  The problem is that all these questions are new.  He never asked them before.  So my “refusal” is based on not answering questions never asked.  This post is designed to answer these new questions, and hopefully impel Dan to defend his own statements and beliefs.  That will never happen (see above), but one can hope….

Dan:

To say that source of all logic is the brain, begs the question of who’s brain? You see, in a sense-data environment, like you’re worldview claim of the brain, things are merely subjective. If we saw a table we would be both arguing the color size and shape of it because of our perspective. You would be screaming that its oval from your angle and I would be saying that its a circle since I am above it. We would exhaust our words discussing the color because of the way the light is shining on it (subjective). You would call it dark brown and I would be calling it light brown, etc. Same with time you could say the day is very very long and I would say, since I took a nap, it flew by very fast. Its all perspectives and subjectiveness. To say that logic originates only in the brain is nonsense! Sure, you could assume that since I had my eyes closed and was sleeping that time did not exist at all, or sped up to accommodate, or direct, the feeling of shortness. You could assume that cat that you were looking at suddenly leaped to another point of the room instantly since you looked away for a moment. But is that itself reasonable? You are claiming a sense-data ONLY world. But that alone is unscientific and illogical. There are things OUTSIDE of the senses (sense-data) that helps us understand our environment. Intuition and instincts to just name a few, as well as other things.

Dan continues the argument that logic exists independent of a logical being.  This continues to blur the lines between reality, facts, laws, and convention.  I have never said that logic is a convention, (more…)

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Presuppositionalism: Solving a Headache With A Lobotomy

Posted on May 16, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Religion, Science, TAG-Pressupposational Theology |

Could the argument from incredulity get any more objectively silly? If you answered “No.” to this question, you and I need to talk.

See, you have been living in a world where theists are only marginally insane, you have not been introduced to the fruits of having to create a plasticine reality to justify a confused mythology,  you have never heard of presuppositional apologetics, let’s call it presup., for short.

Don’t worry.  I’m here to help.  Get that pot of coffee brewing, take a load off.  You are about to visit the fringes of sanity; if you come out the other side intact, then I’ve done what I set out to do.  Presup remains a tricky argument to counter because it is packed with loaded questions, misplaced definitions, bait and switch, and technical jargon.  It stands on your ignorance, and it falls on close inspection.

What the F#@% Are Presuppositionalists Even Talking About?

Yeah, I know.  Some troll just came into a good thread conversation and dropped a steaming pile of nonsense on your lap.  I bet it went something like this:

You: Can you believe some people believe the earth is only 6000 years old? SRSLY!

Your Friend:  Dude! I so know what you’re talking about!  YEC’s…..for the LOL’s, right?

S#!+ For Brains: Excuse me, my good fellows.  How do you know the earth isn’t 6000 years old?

Y: OMFG! SRSLY? It’s called evidence, homey!  Have you heard of it?

YF: Totally.  Case closed. Sucks to be you!  I know because the evidence says so.

SFB: No. You see, you don’t know.  You don’t know anything.  You cannot have knowledge of anything in your worldview.  If you do, it is surely circular!  In order for anything to make sense, you need to presuppose the existence of God.  You are a theist and don’t know it!

Y:  WTF.  That s#!+ makes no sense.  You are ridiculous.

YF: What the F#@% does that even mean?  Of course I know S#!+, like, I so know you are a douchebag.

SFB: Ahh! Can you prove that you know anything?

This is where it starts.  You just got served with a steaming pile of presup nonsense.  This is the “knowledge” variation.  There is also the “morality” variation, the “existence” variation, and the list goes on.  First, I guess we should dispense with the definitions.  In this post, I’m just using the first two.  The third definition for Moral Presup will be the subject of it’s own post, though I have argued against it in the past.

Argument From Incredulity:  The assertion that a premise is true or false based on insufficient knowledge, willful ignorance, or misunderstanding of probability.

An argument from incredulity was the good old standby of theologians for years.  Eventually though, people started figuring out that we could use the tools of reason to answer those nagging questions in our universe.  Below is a cursory list of incredulous assertions (theistic and otherwise), followed by their reasoned explanations:

  • The earth is suspended on a firmament→ Yeah. Turns out the earth is held in space as a result of it’s gravitational relationship to the sun.  Who knew?
  • The moon is a source of light→ Again. Seems logical, but turns out it is just a giant reflector of the large gaseous sphere we call the sun
  • Illness is caused by evil spirits→Really?  People thought that? Yep.  And unless you define “evil spirit” as being a microscopic organism, you are probably wrong.
  • Humans sperm is a humunculus→ That’s right.  Turns out your sperm is just a boring nucleus of chromosomes that require a diploid bond to take any real form.  Sorry to burst your bubble.  Thankfully, this allows us to sidestep the uncomfortable conversation with our girlfriends about whether sperm is the dietary equivalent of “Soylent Green”.
  • Rainbows are God’s “shout out” to the LGBT community→No matter how cool that sounds (and I still want to believe it), turns out light refracts off of water molecules in the atmosphere.  Science ruins all the fun.

So science seems to have ruined everything.  Slowly and methodically, it seems that superstition gets squeezed out of the world we live in.

How does one manage to “win back” our world for hocus pocus, superstition, and anthropomorphic Godheads?  Enter Presuppositionalism.  This takes the old argument from incredulity:

We don’t know how this happens→.·. God

and changes it to this:

We can’t know how anything happens without God→.·. God

Bam! That will learn ya.

So,

Presuppositionalism:  God is the source of knowledge, reason, and logic. Claiming otherwise is circular reasoning, because you need to use logic and reason to verify logic and reason.  There must therefor be something that transcends logic and reason.  That something is……wait for it…….wait…for…it……GOD! Boo Ya.  If we claim to know anything, we first must presuppose the existence of God.  Whether we deny it or not.

The Moral Presup Argument:  There can be no objective morality without something that makes things objectively good or objectively bad.  Guess what that something is?  No. Really, Guess….Without G-O-D, actions are just a matter of preference.  If God doesn’t exist, people can’t say there is anything wrong with murdering people, or molesting children.  If you don’t think child molestation is the bee’s knees, you instantly presuppose God.

Yeah, I know, that sounds absolutely retarded.  And it is.  But, and this is a big but, how do you show that it is, in point of fact, retarded?  Well, let’s just rejoin your conversation from earlier…..

You:  How do I prove I know anything?  Well I use reason to test what I know against evidence.

S#!+ For Brains:  How do you know that your reason is reasonable?  If you test logic and reason with logic and reason, then you create a viscous circle.  You need to account for reason in a non circular way, and that requires God.

Your Friend:  That is Ten Drumsticks short of an Ice Cream Truck! WTF?

SFB:  So you can’t account for reason then?  Thanks for coming out, Jesus loves you, your going to Hell, and God Bless!

Holy mother of an imaginary zombie superhero!  What just happened?

Well, I’ll tell you.  Here is your logical chain:

  1. Humans possess logic and reason
  2. In order to prove this, we need to use logic and reason
  3. Circular reasoning is a logical fallacy
  4. Therefor we must presuppose something without logic or reason in order to account for logic or reason
  5. That something is God, and by God I mean the God of the Bible, YHWH, God of Abraham, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

So the presuppositional argument is that we cannot reason God’s existence, there is no rational proof for God; we must accept the entire premise on faith in order to avoid “circular reasoning”.  They can’t explain why we must presuppose any God, or that God in particular, just that we have to presuppose something, and then they insist that there is only one possibility to presuppose.

You see, in order to reason which supposition we ought to presuppose in order to avoid our circular reasoning, we would also have to use logic and reason.  So really, you can’t just assume a Christian God, because if you assumed Him, then you would have to deny that the Bible is evidence of God’s existence.  If you claimed the bible is proof of His existence, you would have to use logic or reason, and that would be off limits- else you yourself commit the fallacy of circular reasoning.  Essentially what I am saying is that Presuppositionalists commit circular reasoning every single day.  They just think that by adding an extra step, that you won’t catch on.

The Parable of Presuppositional Logic

Imagine that a chair stands on the ground in front of you.  Your legs are tired, you wish to rest.  You go to sit down, when someone interjects:

You can’t sit on that chair,” the man says, “it will surely fall to pieces under your weight!”

“It looks perfectly sturdy,” you say,”it appears to be made of oak, with four sturdy legs.

You think that now” says the man, “but I know chairs, and this one is no good.  If you allow me, I will fix it so that you may sit.”

Very well.”

Then the man pulls out a cushion.  He plopps it down on the chair.  “There!” he says, “Now it is perfectly safe.

What are you talking about?“, you say, dumbfounded.  “All you did was put a cushion on it.  That makes it no more safe, or sturdy.

Maybe.  Maybe not.”  says the man.  “Yet if you really think about it, I surely made it more comfortable.

Thus ends the parable of presupposition. Presup can’t change the nature of anything.  It doesn’t add structure to anything.  It just takes something that works perfectly well and makes your use of it less of a pain in the ass.  You feel like you are sitting on a cloud, and so long as you don’t look down, you can keep imagining it was so.

Does The Cushion Make The Chair More Sturdy?

So where does this leave us?  What did we learn today?  Hopefully we all agree now that presuppositionalism is just bait and switch.  It is adding a step for no good reason. You still disagree?

Tell me then.  What is the difference between these two propositions:

Athiest Reasoning

  1. Humans have reason and logic
  2. Reason and logic are the culmination of activities in our brain as a means to interpret, interact, and express the reality in which we exist
  3. the source of reason and logic, then, is in our brain, but dependent on the input of reality
  4. If I wish to prove reason and logic, I must appeal to the source of reason and logic.  This is circular reasoning, but not viciously circular.

Presuppositionalist Reasoning

  1. Humans have reason and logic
  2. The source of reason and logic is God, as is the source of reality.
  3. If I wish to prove reason and logic, I merely need to appeal to God.
  4. If God is the source of reason and logic, then I must appeal to the source of reason and logic to prove reason and logic.
  5. I also must appeal to reason and logic to prove that the source of reason and logic exists.  Oh, and appeal to reason and logic to argue that the bible was authored by the source of reason and logic.  This is not at all viciously circular, or begging the question.

So they have made the chair more comfortable by changing the definitions and assuming their premise by fiat.  So long as you focus on the cushion and not the chair, you can keep believing you don’t need four legs and solid ground.  The chair is more comfortable because it hides your need to examine what lies beneath.

Welcome to presuppositionalism.

To end this post, I will pull two quotes from the previous post that started this discussion.  I think that Jason basically sums up this whole post in a single comment:

Dan The Atheist Debunker:You cannot use a term “suppose” three time only to conclude an “actual” afterwords. Your logic and critical thinking skills are certainly lacking. Please try again. Thanks for the smile though. I will cherish it.

Jason:“You cannot use a term “suppose” three time only to conclude an “actual” afterwords.”

Says the guy whose entire argument boils down to “Suppose the Bible is true. Therefore, God actually exists.”

Presuppositionalism:  The best way to avoid begging the question is to start by begging the question.

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Let’s Keep the Big Picture, please

Posted on May 14, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Religion |

Apparently, I ruffled a few feathers with the opening sentence of my last post. Good – at least it gets the dialogue going, but I learned a few things in the process. As I have stated before, I am more interested in discovering why people believe what they believe as opposed to simply arguing about random rants. It has been said that some people determine truth based on what they feel is true as opposed to what they have reasoned to be true and I couldn’t agree with this more. There is a difference between fact and opinion, however, and even when someone reaches a conclusion based on opinion it can be very distant from any definition of truth.

Sometimes it takes a series of questions to get someone to open up and share their views and expose their beliefs for examination and I encourage this type of discussion. Conclusions from faulty logic and presuppositions are easily revealed and flushed out. This saves everyone involved a lot of wasted time arguing about generally insignificant topics instead of focusing on the big picture.

The fact is that everyone who subscribes to any religious belief fits somewhere within a definable structure. It’s easier to pan back a bit to reveal a timeline of various belief systems.

Religious Timeline

Now it may be easy to proclaim “Me likes truth”, but it becomes clear that this statement becomes vacuous when discovering the source of that belief is a self-authenticating text impervious to critical examination.  Like it or not, your religion was created somewhere and modified by someone. Your “truth” is relative to you, but not to the rest of us. Good luck defending it.

So, religious followers out there, I ask you these simple questions:
1.   What religion do you believe, how long have you followed it and how did you come to that conclusion?
2.   Is there anything that could be presented to you that would cause you to change your belief? (and please explain why or why not)

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But It’s Not About Me

Posted on May 11, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Religion, You're Not Helping |

Many theists are annoyed by the fact they believe in something they cannot logically defend. When discussing religion with an adherent, you can usually break down the argument to where reason ends and faith begins. Unfortunately, from time to time you run across a believer who tries to shift the entire discussion about what I believe or don’t believe. Instead of actually trying to defend what they believe, they waste your time trying to attack a position that was never introduced in the first place. That’s like questioning the reporter. It’s not about me.

Even if you define the term “atheist” in its narrowest sense of asserting the non-existence of a deity, it still has nothing to do with defending the believer’s position. It’s merely a distraction to shift any burden of defending their claim. I wonder if two theists with conflicting ideologies would suffer the same fate. There seems to be more tolerance from adherents towards people with any faith rather than dealing with someone with no faith.

So, it all comes back to my original question of asking “why do you believe what you believe?” Your answer should be about your position, not mine. It’s not about me.

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On Debating With Theists….

Posted on April 18, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Religion |

Today I read (and watched) two posts that deal with what happens when atheists and theists discuss religious claims.  One is a video from “The Atheist Experience” that was brought to my attention by my good friend Dan of Camels With Hammers.  The other is a post by Christian friend of this blog John Barron Jr. of Truth in Religion and Politics, where he waxes nostalgic about a debate he had with an atheist on the subject of the burden of proof in debates.  Both are worth checking out for entirely different reasons.

The “Atheist Experience” clip shows what happens when theists make unsubstantiated claims and then honestly follow their own logic.   A weaker man would have resorted to changing the subject, or getting angry, or hanging up, but the caller honestly listens to the host and eventually concedes the point.

In the other post, John argues that if someone wants to claim that any statement is false, they must come prepared with evidence- that to take a stand against a proposition, you must first prove that proposition false.  Though I agree that we ought to be willing to back up our claims, I still hold that all propositions are not created equal:

From “Win By Default” by John Barron Jr:

In any discussion there is no default position, since once a proposition is offered, there are only three options, and two of them must be defended:

  • Affirm the proposition.

If someone offers “P is true”, and you concede P is true, there is nothing more to discuss.  The debate is over.

  • Deny the proposition.

If someone offers “P is true”, and you deny the truth of P, your position if skepticism does not protect you from defending your position.  Neither the one affirming, or the one denying the existence of the plane is correct by default.  Since before the claim is made, there is no position at all, there is nothing to defend.  But once P is offered in either direction, no one is correct by default.  A denial is in fact a position.

  • Withhold judgement for further information.

Here you are neither affirming or denying P, and thus are offering no position, and have a burden of proof.  It is only this soft-Agnosticism which bears no burden.  But this is not what GOD or the skeptic argues.  Like affirming P, this also ends the discussion.

It is important to realize no one sits in a position of privilege in any discussion.  Everyone has an opinion, and every opinion requires justification.

Anyhow, the video is 12 minutes of pure genius, and John’s post will leave you with something to think about…even if it is a bit convoluted.

Follow the links, and I welcome discussion.

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Why Willian Lane Craig Is A Vacuous Tit: Part 1

Posted on April 6, 2011. Filed under: Apologetics, Atheism, Religion, TAG-Pressupposational Theology |

Dr. Lawrence Krauss, Professor of Physics, Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University, recently debated Dr. William Lane Craig,  in a debate entitled “Is there evidence for God?”.  The debate is available in it’s entirety on Youtube.  I plan to have a follow up post based on the debate tactics and apologetics of Craig, and as a primer I wanted to offer the insight of someone who has actually debated him.  So without further ado, here is the ruminations of Dr. Krauss on his debate with Craig, which is available on Facebook, as well as a video of the debate.

A response and perspective on debate with Craig.

by  Lawrence Krauss

It sometimes surprises me, although it shouldn’t, how religious devotees feel the need to regularly reinforce their own convictions in groups of like-minded individuals.   I suppose this is the purpose of regular Sunday church services, for example, to reinforce the community of belief in between the rest of the week when the real world may show no evidence of God, goodness, fairness, or purpose. (more…)

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