Wednesday, December 27, 2017

"What would convince you?"

Often Christians seeking to defend their religious views will ask non-believers what they would accept as convincing evidence that their god-beliefs are true. This is a common baiting tactic deployed in an effort to expose some vulnerability, either personal or philosophical, or to corner them into making some damning concession.

For example, in their radio discussion, Greg Bahnsen asked George H. Smith, author of Atheism: The Case Against God, what he would consider convincing evidence that the Christian god is real. In response to this question, Smith quipped something to the effect that a “giant hand” reaching down from the sky and grabbing him by the scruff of the neck would probably get his attention. Smith states, “that would get me thinking.” (Find the audio recording here; a transcript is available here.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

“Where did morality come from?”

I often find theistic apologists asking this question to non-theists. While some individuals may be genuinely interested in finding an answer to this question, apologists tend to pose it in an effort to stump people who do not hold that morality is sourced in a supernatural consciousness which issues commands and demands obedience. Sadly, this “Gotcha!” tactic is all too often successful as a sparring device, as the kinds of responses many non-believers give to this question often leave the unmistakable impression that either they had not considered the question before, or that they had considered it but never came to any satisfying answers.

Of course, theists gravitate to questions of this sort because in the final analysis, their theistic worldview depends on having no answers. What this means is that believers are hoping for responses that essentially reduce to “Gee, I donno!” revealing a gap of knowledge in which the believer’s inflatable god can be made to fit quite comfortably. As such, the purpose of this question is not to probe an important philosophical area of inquiry, but to corner thinkers into surrendering their minds to a primitive belief system.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Do Atheists Face a Dilemma Inherent in Atheism?

Steve Hays of Triablogue has yet again come out with another hit piece to malign “atheists” generally. He must really resent people who don’t believe in the god he has set up in his fantasies. Equally fantastic seems to be the paradigm case he paints of the average atheist, plagued by scandalous internal deficiencies and haunted by inescapable quandaries. If Hays’ dark characterizations of atheism and atheists were so true, one wonders why anyone would ever be an atheist!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Christian Hope

There’s nothing like the hope offered by Christianity:
There’s a lot there to look forward to when you’re a believer.

I’m reminded of Richard Noone’s predictions for May 5, 2000 in his book 5/5/2000: Ice.

I know what you’re thinking: that didn’t pan out quite as predicted. But don’t worry, I understand that there’s a revised edition.

Oh, wait, that dates from before the failed predicted date.

But I’m sure David Meade’s nailed it this time! Planet X is here with a vengeance, and it’s going to X us all out of existence.

So, nice knowin’ y’all! It’s been great. Have a cold one and enjoy your precious last moments.

by Dawson Bethrick

Monday, August 28, 2017

D'oh!

Christian apologist: I don’t understand why atheists make such a big deal about God when they say God doesn’t exist. Why make a big deal about something that doesn’t exist?

Me: I don’t understand why Christian apologists make such a big deal about neutrality when they say neutrality doesn’t exist. Why make a big deal about something that doesn’t exist?

by Dawson Bethrick

Friday, July 28, 2017

Do Gardens Imply the Existence of Invisible Magic Beings?

Christian apologist James Anderson has posted another fun little blog entry, this one titled On Fairies and Gardeners, over on his site Proginosko. In this entry Anderson objects to overt comparisons of the Christian god to fairies while implicitly comparing man’s cognitive faculties to a garden implying the existence of a gardener. Anderson opens his blog with the following announcement:
I’ve been revisiting Richard Dawkins’ best-seller The God Delusion in preparation for an apologetics class I’ll be teaching next week.
Anderson is writing this in July 2017. And yet, back in April 2009, more than eight years ago if I have my math right, Anderson announced his conclusion (referring specifically to The God Delusion, mind you) that “Dawkins’ case against theism is philosophically inept” (see here). With such a condemning assessment, I’m wondering if Anderson has changed his mind, or whether he prefers to spend his time sparring with low-hanging fruit before a captive audience in his classroom. Consider the impressionable young minds who have chosen to take on the burden of a heavy student debt at so early a time in life as to sit through such a course. Indeed, just what kind of living does one set out to achieve with an education in “apologetics”? Perhaps if one confuses a career with a living, it could be said that Anderson may be doing fairly well as a vested member of the professoriate.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Andy Bannister on Atheism

I’ve always been amazed, sometimes terrifyingly so, at how routinely, how matter-of-factly, how unquestioningly, persons who are otherwise demonstrably intelligent will gleefully repeat and deliberately spread misinformation. And yes, I’m sure I have many detractors who think similarly of me – though they may not grant that I’m at all intelligent! It’s as though societal norms were inherently stacked against facts, reason and evidence in favor of unexamined assumptions, false narratives and elaborate pretenses, all shielded from scrutiny in a way that would put a mother bear protecting her cubs to shame. What is this apparent gravitational pull that empowers deceit and dupery to draw adult minds like fresh droppings attract flies?

I’m sure readers here can think of dozens of examples of this frightening phenomenon right off the top of their heads, but the case in point I have in mind today comes from a short video I recently saw on YouTube. The video is titled Is atheism a belief? and I found the link to it on this entry of the same name posted by Steve Hays over on Triablogue.

Now by posting a link to the video, I can only suppose that Hays approves of its content, for he offers no criticisms or disclaimers in linking to it. And although it’s not surprising to find Christian apologetics blogs spreading propaganda, I’d like to think that Hays would have at least some regard for consistency given his own expressed understanding of what atheism is when he wrote "technically, atheism is just a statement of what an atheist doesn't believe rather than what he does believe" (see the comments section of this blog). (I went back and forth about this with one apologist late last year – see here for some of the juicier tidbits from that exchange as well as for a link to the full discussion.)

Monday, May 08, 2017

Anderson on the Lowder-Turek Debate

James Anderson recently published his review of the Lowder-Turek Debate

Over the past several years I haven’t been watching a lot of these debates – maybe two or three a year, if that. I did watch the debate between Sye Ten Bruggencate and Matt Dillahunty earlier this year, and I did in fact draft up some thoughts on it that I wanted to share on my blog. My notes are still sitting on my hard drive waiting for me to revisit them. Maybe later I’ll get back to them.

Then I saw Anderson’s dust-up on the Lowder-Turek Debate. After reading Anderson’s review, I thought I’d like to watch the debate. At two hours and twenty-some minutes, that takes a chunk out of my day, so an investment like that better be worthwhile. So I watched it.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Sye's Fixation with "Insane" People

I’ve been asked to comment on a common tactic used by Sye Ten Bruggencate and those who copy his apologetic strategies. (See the comments section here for the original request.) The tactic is an interrogative maneuver by which the apologist seeks to commandeer the conversation and steer it in a direction intended to lead to a ‘gotcha’ moment, its goal being to trip up the non-Christian rather than to actually validate the position which the apologist should be defending.

The tactic consists of the following formula:
Sye: Do you agree that there are insane people whose senses and reasoning are not valid?
Sye's oppoenent: Yes  
Sye: Then how do you know you're not one of those people?
The obvious goal of this tactic is to trap the opponent in a death spiral of his own making. But the success of this tactic clearly depends on accepting the premises embedded in the leading question, as the opponent’s answer demonstrates.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Incinerating Presuppositionalism: Year Twelve

We come now to that time of every year in which I honor the blog entries of the past year with a post listing each one out, beginning with last year’s anniversary posting.

Now, readers of my blog (all two of them!) have probably noticed that my posting activity has been slowing down over the past couple of years.

There are several reasons for this.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

More on Hearing Voices in His Head

In this post, I pick up from my previous entry and explore Anderson’s appraisal of the objections that he considers in response to apologetic appeals to “internal testimony of the Holy Spirit.”

Before doing so, it may not be necessary to point this out, but I will in case it slips anyone’s mind, namely that appeals to “internal testimony of the Holy Spirit” as Christianity informs this notion logically assume the existence of the Christian god. So if this assumption is disputed, then appeals to the “internal testimony of the Holy Spirit” are premature at best. At any rate, it is viciously circular to appeal to “the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit” in an attempt to validate the claim that a god exists in the first place, for such an appeal assumes what’s needed to be validated in the first place. And as I have pointed out numerous times in the past, we have no alternative but to imagine any god one claims to believe in.

Even when it comes to apologetic arguments, we have no alternative but to imagine the god whose existence those arguments are intended to prove when we come to their conclusions.

For example, consider the following argument:
Premise 1: If the universe was created, then God must exist in order to have created it. Premise 2: The universe was created. Conclusion: Therefore, God must exist in order to have created it.
Here it should be clear that, even if we accept the premises that the universe was created and that a god must have created it, we have no alternative but to imagine said god when we arrive at this argument’s conclusion. The same problem afflicts all apologetic arguments, thus serving as a great equalizer of sorts in leveling all apologetic arguments to useless rubble.

So if apologists cannot overcome weaknesses such as this, then I submit that there’s no hope for any defensive artifice they may attempt to erect on behalf of their religious beliefs. This does not bode well for Anderson’s defense of the notion of enjoying “internal testimony of the Holy Spirit,” for while I can in fact imagine that Anderson’s god exists and that he has in fact received revelatory transmissions from that god, I am nevertheless acutely aware of the facts that I am merely imagining these things and that I have no alternative to doing so if I am to contemplate his god-belief claims.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Hearing Voices in Your Head

Recently Christian apologist James Anderson published an article titled How Do You Know That the Bible Is God’s Word? in the Christian Research Journal. In it he defends a magical form of knowing known among Reformed Christians as “the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit.” This notion is essentially a safely lever which apologists can pull when their apologetic defenses are shown to be the fault-ridden vehicles they are, so it’s not unsurprising to find Anderson producing a defense of this notion, since it stands as a refuge in which apologists will inevitably need to seek shelter.

In setting up his case, Anderson makes reference to John 10:27, which inserts the words “My sheep hear my voice” in Jesus’ mouth. The idea here is that, if someone doesn’t believe (presumably on first hearing), then that person is to be dismissed as not numbering among “the Lord’s sheep.” Of course, none of this constitutes an argument; rather, such claims are asserted in place of an argument, much like a slogan or platitude, and has no more substance than “Four out of five dentists surveyed…”