Tuesday, March 05, 2013

A Case in Point, Part I

Recent controversy concerning my proof that the Christian god does not exist has brought a few of Christianity’s more daring defenders out of their comfort zones. We have already seen Prayson Daniel’s unsuccessful attempts to attack my argument (see his blog entries here and here).

I have already interacted with Prayson’s feeble efforts to discredit my argument in a blog entry of my own: see Prayson Daniel vs. the Imaginative Nature of Christian Theism. The discussion in the comments of this entry is particularly fascinating given the fact that Christians are taking issue with my argument’s Premise 1, namely the recognition that the imaginary is not real. Believers are preferring to challenge the premise that the imaginary is not real over seeking to topple my argument’s fourth premise, which affirms outright that the Christian god is imaginary (and not without supporting evidence; see here). The choice to attack my argument’s Premise 1 instead of its Premise 4 suggests, quite strongly I might add, that the believers who take this route are admitting through their actions that they know the god they worship is in fact imaginary. Their concern is not to prove that their god is not imaginary, but to challenge the view that the imaginary is not real.

One comment submitted to Prayson’s blog was particularly noteworthy for the abundance of blunders one can find in its author’s attempts to refute my argument. Posted under the moniker “bethelbaptistchurchblog,” its author does not provide his name (which seems customary for many Christians these days – they apparently want to keep their identities concealed). Trying to remain anonymous might be the only wise move the author made in posting his comment. Throughout his comment, the author incorrectly refers to me as “Beckwith.” This was not his only error, nor was it his biggest. In fact, his comment is so full of fundamental blunders that it is hard to know which one should win an Oscar.

Reacting to Ron Rhodes’ Apologetic:

In my blog entry, I quoted Christian apologist Ron Rhodes’ article Strategies for Dialoguing with Atheists, where he writes:
Some atheists categorically state that there is no God, and all atheists, by definition, believe it. And yet, this assertion is logically indefensible. A person would have to be omniscient and omnipresent to be able to say from his own pool of knowledge that there is no God. Only someone who is capable of being in all places at the same time - with a perfect knowledge of all that is in the universe - can make such a statement based on the facts. To put it another way, a person would have to be God in order to say there is no God.
In response to this, I wrote:
Reasoning like this ignores the broader context of theism, namely that the theist’s god is said to exist outside the universe, that it is not just some item existing within it, like a rock, an asteroid, or particle of dust.
Reacting to my statement, the author wrote:
This misinterprets one of Christianity’s most basic premises, which is not that God exists outside of our Universe, but that the Universe exists within God. This will have significant bearing later in the discussion.
Here the author seems to be disputing my statement simply for the sake of disputing, as though disputing were an end in itself. Or perhaps this is the author’s means of discrediting me in his own mind. He is saying that I am wrong for affirming that Christianity teaches that its god exists “outside the universe,” announcing instead that “one of Christianity’s most basic premises” is “that the universe exists within God.”

What the author affirms in place of the view that the Christian god exists outside the universe, resembles panentheism. As James Anderson explains in his paper The Theistic Preconditions of Knowledge: A Thumbnail Sketch:
According to panentheists, God contains the universe but is not identical with it (i.e., the universe is a proper part of God). The panentheist conception of God is often analogized to the dualist conception of human nature: the universe is thought of as God’s ‘body’, while his transcendent immaterial aspect is thought of as God’s ‘mind’ or ‘soul’.
I confess that the author’s view that “the Universe exists within God” is very hard for me to distinguish from the view Anderson describes here as “panentheism,” which he goes on to critique and find inferior to Christian theism.

Moreover, numerous examples can be gleaned from Christian apologetic literature showing that defenders of Christianity themselves hold that their god exists “outside the universe.” Here are just a few that I found quite readily:

Matt Slick of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry argues:
since a Transcendent God would exist outside the universe and not be dependent on it, it is logical to expect that such evidence for God's existence would share transcendent characteristics. In other words, they would exhibit qualities of a Personal Being who is independent from the physical universe.
Slick makes the following point in his definition of ‘transcendence’:
Transcendence is a theological term that, when referring to the Christian God, states that God is outside of the universe and is independent of it and its properties.. God is "other," "different" from his creation. He is independent and different from his creatures (Isaiah 55:8-9). He transcends his creation. He is beyond it and not limited by it or to it.
Similarly, on the Apologetics 315 blog, we find the following:
Transcendence: That which is higher than or surpasses other things. What is transcendent is thus relative to what is transcended. God is conceived by traditional theologians as being transcendent with respect to the created universe, meaning that he is outside the universe and that no part of the universe is identical to him or part of him.
Lastly, a tract put out by Ron Lewis Ministries titled God His Attributes Study #7 states the following:
God’s transcendence represents His existence outside of and independent from the universe.
So it seems that it is commonly held among Christians themselves that their god exists “outside the universe.” Thus the author’s objection and correction seem aloof of what other Christians are saying. If he disputes the view that the Christian god exists “outside the universe,” his argument is with other Christians, not with me. Thus the conflict here is internal to Christianity. Such a dispute does nothing to challenge my position, since I do not affirm the existence of the Christian god in the first place.

But what’s worse than all this is the fact that the author’s correction does nothing to answer my reaction to Ron Rhodes’ statement. Whether the Christian wants to say that his god exists “outside the universe” or that “the Universe exists within God,” it is clear that, according to either view, looking for the Christian god within the universe should not be expected to result in any success in discovering it. Indeed, the author has ignored the very next point which I stated in my blog entry, which is:
If an atheist had traveled the entire universe and found no god, the theist could easily say he was looking in the wrong place, for the theist says his god is infinite and not part of the material universe.
So again, the author seems anxious to pick gnat droppings out of his beans and deposit them right into his rice.

We will find that such self-deprecating antics are a norm with this apologist.

The author then quoted the following from my blog:
Even worse, given this kind of reasoning, one would have to have searched the entire universe to reject the notion of a square circle.
The author reacts to my point, saying:
This is a logical fallacy. All one needs do to assume that a square circle does not exist, is realize that a “square circle” violates the Law of Contradiction.
Clearly the author does not recognize that my point was stated in response to a Christian’s argument! On my view, I can readily dismiss self-contradictory ideas like “square circles”; incidentally, it is on the same basis, namely the internally contradictory nature of a notion, that we are justified in rejecting the god of Christianity, as I argue in my paper Gods and Square Circles. My point in response to Rhodes’ statement is that, on his view, “no one is justified in believing that square circles do not exist at all” since, given Rhodes’ assumptions, one could never be certain that a square circle might be “hiding behind some asteroid or quasar, or under a pebble on some moon in another galaxy.” The author thus errs in presuming that he is rebutting my position. But indeed, his is not rebutting my position. By implication, he is rebutting the defense of another Christian. Just as in the old Mad Magazine we enjoyed “Spy vs. Spy” comics, here we have Christian vs. Christian. Nice! Only the author is not clever enough to recognize that he’s refuting another Christian’s defense.

Interacting with My Argument:

In regard to my argument proper, the author states:
moving to his premises and conclusion, it is easily demonstrated that none of his premises hold up under scrutiny, and that his conclusion therefore cannot be true.
From this point, the author proceeds to try to refute my argument, premise by premise. That’s right – he wants to show that each of my premises is untrue. This has got to be one of the most unwise moves in apologetic history.

Remember the first premise of my argument? It states:
Premise 1: That which is imaginary is not real.
In response to my argument’s Premise 1, the author produced two paragraphs that are so ripe that every statement needs to be savored for all it’s got. The author begins his response with the following statement:
This is an a priori assumption, and isn’t even accurate on its face.
I’m never as embarrassed for another individual as when I examine the efforts of a Christian trying to defend his worldview. And in this case, it’s like a climax from Mahler’s 9th Symphony: intense, sweet, and cathartic. For the Christian seeking to net another fish, however, such elation on the part of the non-believer is not an intended effect. Indeed, far from desired!

The author provides no support for supposing that my Premise 1 is “an a priori assumption.” However, it is at least nominally relevant to point out the fact that many Christians have no qualms per se with a priori assumptions. So it is curious that the author would lead off with this allegation as if it were damning all around.

For example, presuppositional apologist Michael Butler states that a priori notions are inherent in the transcendental argument for the Christian god’s existence. This would mean that the notion of a priori knowledge is entirely consistent with the Christian worldview.

Butler explains that transcendental arguments as such are distinguished from other types of arguments “by the fact that they appeal only to a priori knowledge – what we can know without any appeal to experience” (“The Transcendental Argument for God’s Existence,” The Standard Bearer: A Festschrift for Greg L. Bahnsen, p. 91). Clearly Butler assumes that the notion of a priori is compatible with Christian theism. Butler never produces an argument for this assumption, but it is indisputably present in what he assumes.

So it’s hard to see why a Christian would consider this to be a suitable objection against my Premise 1, unless of course he is not a presuppositionalist and rejects the notion of a priori knowledge. But this would invite further controversies within the Christian tent which by themselves would only confirm one of the premises I’ve offered on behalf of the conclusion that the Christian god is imaginary. Point 11 in my list of evidences showing why the god of Christianity is imaginary states the following:
Conflicting versions of “the supernatural” among those professing the same religious confession strongly indicate a subjective nature to god-belief, especially given the failure of those who clash with each other due to such conflicts to reach consensus. Within Christianity alone, believers differ on the topic of salvation, the nature of faith, the importance of the resurrection, the nature of the atonement, the role of free will, predestination, hell, heaven, the “end times,” the trinity, God’s love, God’s wrath, God’s judgment, prayer, apologetic methodology, the continuation or cessation of miracles, etc., etc. Where believers find themselves in conflict is in their conception of “the supernatural.” In mundane matters, they find themselves in agreement: mountains are composed of dirt and rock, rivers carry water, trees have roots, cars go on streets, supermarkets sell milk, elected officials can be corrupt, pens have ink, radios receive radio waves, etc. In areas concerning actually existing things which can be perceived directly by means of the senses, there is nearly universal agreement. But in areas which vary from one imagination to another, there is a predominance of conflict and contradiction.
How would two Christians who find themselves in conflict on the question of whether or not there is such a thing as a priori knowledge go about settling the matter? What would be their final court of appeal? Could they consult the bible on this? Where does the bible say anything about “a priori knowledge”? Can it be inferred from what the bible says? Is “revelation” a form of “a priori knowledge”? It certainly is not clear: people claiming to know something by means of “revelation” typically say they’ve had an experience corresponding to what they call “revelation” (otherwise how would they be able to claim they’ve received a “revelation”?), in which case knowledge which is said to have been acquired by “revelation” seems to be a species of a posteriori knowledge. But surely such knowledge is not the same as knowledge acquired by means using the senses. Indeed, one could claim to know anything by means of “revelation.” That is because imagination is in charge. Thus internal conflicts such as we find among various Christian factions can be considered essentially guaranteed since we know what lies behind it.

Of course, I do reject the notion of a priori knowledge since such a notion denies the nature of man’s mind. We need input from reality to develop any knowledge of it, and we need a means of acquiring it, namely the senses. This means experience is required for knowledge. Genuine knowledge of reality comes only by means of an active, rational process which the knower performs volitionally. If one claims to know something apart from experience as such, what he claims to know is not knowledge.

But does this make knowledge of what my Premise 1 affirms beyond our reach? Of course, it does not. I know what is real by applying reason to what I experience, by identifying and integrating what I perceive by means of concepts, and I know what it is to imagine something because I have experienced imagining things. I also know by comparing and contrasting these two types of experiences – perceiving and identifying things which exist independent of me, and imagining things – that they are not the same types of conscious activity. Moreover, I can observe an object while I imagine it undergoing any kind of transformation I can think of, and watch to see if my imagination has any effect on it. I can, for instance, observe a book sitting on my table while I imagine it levitating and flying around the room I’m in. When I observe that the book is not in fact doing what I imagine it is doing, I can see firsthand from this complex experience that the book and what I imagine are distinct from each other. I can, from such observation, formulate the general principle that (a) imagination and reality are distinct from one another, and (b) the imaginary is not real.

So, contrary to what the author baldly asserts, my Premise 1 is not an a priori assumption after all. It is a general principle anyone can draw from experience.

The author also states that the view that that which is imaginary is not real “isn’t even accurate on its face.” We should read this statement autobiographically: it tells us about the author, not about the actual nature of products of imagination. He saying that, from his standpoint, not only that the recognition that the imaginary is not real is not true, but that as a matter of reflex the imaginary should be treated as though it were real.

So on the author’s view, if I imagine an 800-foot tall bunny rabbit doing pushups on the surface of the moon, there really is a giant bunny doing pushups on the moon. Why? Because the view that the imaginary is not real “isn’t even accurate on its face.” So anyone saying that the bunny I imagine on the moon is not real must be wrong, according to the author.

But is that at all rational? Let us examine what else says next.

He asks:
To whom is it not real?
Doesn’t this question suggest the perspective of relativism? It surely seems to. The author seems to be willing to say that something is real “to” one person even if it is not real “to” another. But I thought Christianity rejected this kind of wishy-washy viewpoint. And yet, here is a Christian resorting to an appeal to relativism in order to defend his theism.

If something exists, doesn’t it exist independent of personality, independent of any individual’s viewpoint, independent of anyone’s experience? The author’s question suggests that what exists is in fact dependent on personal perspective, individual experience, perhaps even personal preference. Why suppose that the view that the imaginary is not real “isn’t even accurate on its face,” but the view that something can be real to one person but unreal to another is “accurate on its face”? Would the Christian be comfortable if we say that the Christian god is real “to believers,” but not real “to non-believers”? Would he accept this? I’m guessing not. Christians like to claim that the god they imagine is real to everyone, whether one believes it or not. (In this way, they borrow the primacy of existence principle from Objectivism.)

So again, if I imagine a giant bunny rabbit doing exercises on the surface of the moon, who’s to say the robot I’m imagining is not real? Who’s to say there is no bunny rabbit actually doing things on the moon? Per the author’s retort here, this could be real “to” someone, even if it is not real “to” someone else. On such a view, reality is completely subjective, and what may be happening per the subjective impulses of one person may not be happening per the subjective impulses of someone else.

Like Jesus willfully allowing himself to be nailed up on a cross, the author offers himself as a case in point: Christianity deliberately blurs the distinction between the real and the imaginary, and here is a clear, unambiguous example for all to see.

The author then asks:
What are the conditions for “reality?”
Well, if his previous question (“To whom is it not real?”) is assumed to be conceptually valid in the context in which it was posed, why cannot a similar view be taken in response to the author’s current question? For instance, why can we not say: “The conditions for reality may be real to you, but not to me”? Indeed, if someone addresses the author’s question by identifying some “condition for reality,” why couldn’t someone else come along and ask “To whom is that condition real?”? The author seems to have no integrated, principled structure of thought whatsoever. But that is what we should expect from Christianity as such when it comes to fundamentals, for that is where their worldview confusions have their genesis.

In terms of discourse, it appears that the author is trying to create a smokescreen, a haze concealing some shifty maneuvering with basic concepts, albeit with the clumsiness of a novice unaware of his lack of skill. He apparently expects his readers to be as unclear on basic principles as he is. Perhaps he is accustomed to readers who are willing to go along with the kind of obfuscation he is seeking to implement with such questions. If so, it is good that he has ventured out of his comfort zone.

The author then writes:
I think we can all agree that leprechauns are not “real,”
Wait a minute! To whom are they not real? Has the author suddenly decided to abandon his earlier course of inquiry? Why would he suppose, so quickly after asking “To whom is it not real?”, that he can speak for the anonymous “we” here in such an absolutist fashion? Yes, people generally agree that leprechauns do not exist, that they are not real. But the author’s shift from his previous stance of relativism to a more definite, if not majoritarian, position, is inexplicable, assuming we are expected to take his previous question seriously.

The author then “reasons”:
but if I were to draw a leprechaun on a sheet of paper, it would exist in reality despite the fact that it did not exist elsewhere.
While it is true that when something exists in one place, it does “not exist elsewhere” (e.g., the pebble lying in my backyard exists in my backyard here in Bangkok, not in the backyard of someone living in Minneapolis), it is puzzling that the author might genuinely think that if he draws something he has imagined, what he imagines therefore exists. Surely the drawing exists – as lines on a piece of paper, for instance. But when the author imagined a leprechaun, did he simply imagine a piece of paper with a drawing on it, did he? Is that all that “leprechaun” means? What exactly did the author imagine? I can draw a giant bunny rabbit doing pushups on the lunar surface, but this would not be the same thing as saying that what I imagined is actually real. Again, the author only exposes his root-level confusions here.

The author makes another attempt to provide some reasoning:
If I write a story to accompany the illustration, the leprechaun becomes even more real in that its character, actions and interpersonal relationships are described in detail; the more detail I add to either the drawing or the story, the more “real” the leprechaun becomes.
I have to say, I wish I knew this author’s name. Even more, I wish I could shake his hand and thank him in person for everything he has stated here. For he is confirming the validity and applicableness of Point 3 in my list of evidences indicating the imaginary nature of the Christian god, which in part states:
Adherents learn details about their god from written stories (which puts the Christian god, for example, in the same camp as characters in texts which are known to be fictional). Written stories give the human mind an opportunity to develop vivid imaginations and fantasies. The dominant function of allegory in religious literature is to provide the imagination with the fundamental material to work with in developing lifelike as well as larger-than-life psychological replicas of heroes, villains, events, and cosmic personalities portrayed in religious literature while allowing for a strong element of personal relevance. The Christian believer, for instance, reads about his god in the Old and New Testaments. In these sources, which are dubbed revelatory communication directly from the god he reads about in their pages, the believer finds stories which provide often vivid narratives which the believer personalizes in his imagination of them and accepts as truthful, historical accounts.
So not only is imagination involved here, but also a story to make the imaginary more concrete, to give it “life.”

I made a similar point in my blog The Role of Imagination in Christian God-Belief:
Imagination is a central ingredient to the religious experience. Religious stories are the prime vehicle for religious beliefs: they supply the props and motifs which inspire the initial content of the believer's imagination, and it is the believer's imagination which serves as the fundamental content of his belief experience. In the case of Christianity, it is because the stories of the gospel narratives and other "histories" are 'uploaded' into the believer's imagination and combined with content taken from everyday experiences, that they seem vital, real and alive to him.
Stories fueling religious imagination in the minds of believers are confirmed by the author to play the role I have identified in previous writings on the matter. But why stop there? The purpose of the stories is for the believer to interact with the imaginary as much as possible so that its emotional content influences the believer’s choices and actions. Thus Christianity also has believers pray to the god they erect in their imaginations. Thus as I pointed out in my blog Faith as Hope in the Imaginary:
Prayer is the means by which the believer can commune, albeit one-sidedly, with an imaginary being. Talking to the imaginary makes it seem more real. If practiced consistently, the believer begins to feel like someone is actually listening. And he will take anything – even the barking of a dog – as a sign from the supernatural back to him.
The goal of having the believer interact with the imaginary is to make the imaginary “seem more real” to the believer, just as the author confesses that “the more detail [he] add[s] to either the drawing or the story, the more ‘real’ the” thing he imagines “becomes.” Naturally, if one carries on the pretense that the imaginary is real to the extent that he starts talking to it, the pretended dialogue gives the imaginary a new dimension of seeming real to the believer.

The author then states:
The story and the drawing are limited in scope only by my imagination, not by the constraints of empirical reality; even though leprechauns do not exist in “the real world,” there is, clearly, one leprechaun which does exist– mine.
Notice the first statement: imagination is the only limit acknowledged. The “constraints of empirical reality” are considered irrelevant to the content of the story. And while lip service is paid to the view that something imaginary does not really exist, the blur between reality and imagination resulting from the author’s own personal investment in what he imagines has already been set into place.

So here we have a true act of religious creation: first you imagine something, then you do something to make the imaginary seem more real, including casting it into a story, even talking to it as though it were real. Just as the Christian god is said by believers to have created the universe by an act of consciousness, here we see the tell-tale signs that believers create their god by an act of consciousness, namely by means of imagination.

But here’s the mystery given the position the author is defending: on what basis can he affirm that “leprechauns do not exist in ‘the real world’” when clearly he is implying that something does exist when one imagines it? Blank out.

The author then proposes his own revision of my Premise 1:
In light of this, the more accurate premise would be: That which cannot be imagined is not real. However, since our leprechaun can be imagined, it has been given reality. So to say that God, Who can be imagined, is not real based on the premise that He is imaginary begs the question.
The author clearly wants imagination to have a role in determining what is real. Here the inability of something to be imagined means that it cannot be real. But why would this be what determines what is real? And why would this be an improvement over my Premise 1? The author anticipates neither of these questions, for he does not present any case for his suggested revision to be taken seriously. How would one know whether or not there is something that cannot be imagined in the first place?

What’s also clear is the fact that the author believes that imagining something gives what is imagined “reality,” for he states explicitly that “since our leprechaun can be imagined, it has been given reality.” Stated as this has in the context of defending one’s god-belief, the implication that imagination is in fact the type of conscious activity involved in apprehending the Christian god is inescapable: Since the Christian god can be imagined, goes the author’s reasoning, it has been given reality. The author in turn seeks to use this reversal of reasoning as the basis for leveling a charge of circular reasoning against the view that the imaginary is not real. Unfortunately, like the god the author worships, the fallacy he feigns to have detected in my Premise 1 is clearly a figment of his own imagination.

Really, I’m not making any of this up. It’s all right there on Prayson Daniel’s blog. As I’ve stated before, let Christians hang themselves. Just let them defend their god-belief, and their lunacy cannot fail but to come out.

To be continued...

by Dawson Bethrick


Ydemoc said...


Thanks for another new entry! I posted this over on Prayson's blog:

"Hi bethelbaptistchurchblog,

If you’re still around, Dawson Bethrick has posted Part 1 of his response to your post above. Here’s the link: http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-case-in-point-part-i.html

If you’re not around on this blog any longer, perhaps I’ll venture over to your blog and make this information known to you over there.

We’re looking forward to your interaction."


Ydemoc said...


By the way, over on Prayson's blog, my notification above is currently "awaiting moderation."


ProteusIQ said...

Thank Dawson for another post. As I pointed in my articles and comment I think 1-3 are true.

You keep declaring that my response where unsuccessive but saddly that is not what atheists at reddit philosophy of religion think, and not what atheists that commented on my blog think.

But well, I think the saying: beauty is in the eyes of beholder is true here.


Bahnsen Burner said...

Hi Ydemoc,

Great to hear from you. Thanks for posting a link to my new blog entry over on Prayson’s blog. I toyed with the idea, but not enough to follow through with it.

At least your comment has now been approved. But will bethelbaptistchurchblog see it? Will he reply to it? The further we query, the chances for interaction likely diminish.

I still find it amazing how believers will come out and defend the view that the imaginary is true. They basically concede the whole matter right there. Perhaps I never did need to prepare evidences on behalf of Premise 4 after all. If believers are going to come out and admit that imagining something makes it real, then Premise 4 is not all that controversial.

Of course, it does appear that Christians are divided over the truth of Premise 4. Some come out essentially saying that what they imagine is true and challenge my argument’s first premise. Others say they accept my argument’s first premise only to flop around like a netted fish on the issue of the fourth premise. But that’s what’s so puzzling: Christians claim to be inspired in their knowledge by an omniscient and infallible mind. But if that’s the case, how does one explain the conflicting views which Christians profess? There’s no mystery here if their god is really imaginary; such conflicts are to be expected, and they’ve been innumerable over the centuries. But there seems to be no explanation whatsoever if one wants to maintain that an omniscient and infallible deity is behind all this. Allegations of man’s “sin nature” only suggest that the Christian god is not in control, but rather that man’s “sin nature” holds primacy. If believers accuse other believers of error, then we have to accept the underlying premise that believers can be mistaken in what they claim. But this only worsens matters: how can one determine which if any believers are not mistaken?

I’m sure glad these aren’t my problems!

In the meantime, if you hear back from the fellow who left that juicy comment, please clue me in. Perhaps there will be more to add to my upcoming Part II!


Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello Prayson,

I see that you saw my new blog entry. Very good!

You wrote: “Thank Dawson for another post.”

You’re welcome. The pleasure is all mine.

You stated: “As I pointed in my articles and comment I think 1-3 are true.”

Yes, you did. However, my new blog entry is not a response to statements you’ve made. But it is curious how other Christians essentially come out and confess that the god they worship is imaginary. That pretty much gives away the game, regardless of what other Christians may say.

You stated: “You keep declaring that my response where unsuccessive but saddly that is not what atheists at reddit philosophy of religion think, and not what atheists that commented on my blog think.”

Do you mean “unsuccessful” when you write “unsuccessive” above? If so, I would readily agree that your responses to my argument have been wholly unsuccessful to date. I’ve already given reasons why, and my reasons are insuperable. But you already know that. Why else would you appeal to anonymous nobodies who haven’t brought their objections right here on my blog? And why else would you avoid addressing my questions?

Again, if you agree with my first premise – that the imaginary is not real – why would it be wrong to conclude that something is unreal if there are good reasons to suppose that that something is imaginary? I have asked you this question several times now. I see that you have not answered it. But in the end, your response boiled down to the view that one needs to prove that something does not exist before he can suppose it’s imaginary. But you’ve presented no logical case for this, and given the fact that you agree with Premise 1, it is a most nonsensical objection.

I’m guessing you just haven’t allowed yourself to think it through very thoroughly.

You wrote: “But well, I think the saying: beauty is in the eyes of beholder is true here.”

Yes, my argument is a thing of beauty. It really drives out the cockroaches!


freddies_dead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
freddies_dead said...

I really should proofread my posts more carefully.

Dawson said...

But will bethelbaptistchurchblog see it? Will he reply to it? The further we query, the chances for interaction likely diminish.

I strongly suspect that bethelbaptistchurchblog will imagine that they have replied to your criticisms and, of course, using their logic, that will mean that they will have really replied, as imagining something makes it real.

It's so laughable that it's difficult to think someone could be that absurd. Fortunately I don't have to imagine such an idiot when there really are idiots who think that way.

NAL said...

The leprechaun that the author claims "exists," is still a product of his imagination. Similarly, his god is a product of his imagination, affirming Premise 4.

Just as the author "created" a leprechaun, he also "created" his god. It takes a god to create a god. As Morgan Freeman says:

So if I believe in God, and I do, it's because I think I'm God.

Anonymous said...

I took a look at reddit phyl of religion, and the link that Prayson provided is to his own blog entry, not to Dawson's. So everybody seems to be arguing against a fragment of the argument. The fragment presented by Prayson. Further, they seem as confused and mistaken as Prayson about the argument, and argue for the wrong problems, not against Dawson's argument whatsoever. Example, one person argues that imagining his dog does not make the dog disappear. What the fuck? Who said that would be the case?

Anyway, lots of confusion in reddit. I truly don't understand why Prayson thinks that reddit gives him some support. People talking shit is people talking shit Prayson. Learn to use your brain. The popularity of misunderstanding does not make misunderstanding any less misunderstanding, just like the popularity of your imaginary friend, the one you call "God," does not make it any less imaginary.

Ydemoc said...


What about that, Prayson? What about what photosynthesis reports above? It sure seems, based upon what he's seen, there's quite a bit of confusion going over on reddit as to what they are actually arguing about or responding to as it pertains to the imaginary nature of Christianity. Do you have any insight to offer on this matter?


Justin Hall said...

In m experience Reddit is a self congratulatory echo chamber. Nothing lost by ignoring them.

Ydemoc said...

Hi Dawson,

Just in case you're not already aware of this, over on Prasyon's blog "bethelbaptistchurchblog" has posted a response to your recent blog entry. See here: http://withalliamgod.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/bethricks-unsuccessful-case-against-christian-god/comment-page-1/#comment-6345

From the looks of the reply, you'll have plenty to draw from, not only for "Case in Point, Part II" but perhaps also a "Case in Point, Part III" or even "Part IV"!


Ydemoc said...


In his response, "bethelbaptistchurchblog" wrote: "Being imaginary is not mutually exclusive from being real."

What a great slogan for a Christian bumper-sticker! In certain circles, I bet it would sell like hotcakes!

GOD: Being imaginary is not mutually exclusive from being real.

Or how 'bout this one:

Families that pray together, fantasize together.



NAL said...

A mental image may correspond to an object in reality, but that doesn't mean that the mental image is real.

They're going after Premise 1, again. They have no way to refute Premise 4.

freddies_dead said...

Thanks for the link Ydemoc.

After reading it I can only conclude that bethelbaptistchurchblog is madder than a sack of badgers and dumber than a pile of rocks.

Meh, whatever. I’m just gonna call him "fella" for the sake of clarity.

Clarity? No, it's got nothing to do with clarity, you just don't want to formally recognise the man who has demonstrated you have the critical thinking skills of a particularly slow ameoba.

It's a good job you aren't afraid of ridicule as you've opened yourself up to a veritable shitstorm of it by displaying your crippling stupidity for all to see.

I do love the way you feel the need to restate the premise in terms that you think are more easily dismissed. It seems to be a pattern on Prayson's blog as Prayson himself tried, unsuccessfully I may add, to change the premises to suit his argument. Rather than "more accurate ways of making the statement" you have instead concocted strawmen which have little in common with the original statement - that you've then tried to burn these strawmen instead of dealing with the actual argument is very telling.

Being imaginary is not mutually exclusive from being real.

Wtf? In what way can something that is imaginary be anything but imaginary? This is just ludicrous. You're getting things that are imaginary all mixed up with things that are actually real and think that just because you can imagine something that corresponds to something that is real, that that correspondence somehow makes your imaginary object real.

Things that are imaginary are not real by definition, they have no independent existence. As NAL has already noted, it doesn't matter if your imaginary object corresponds to something real, the imaginary object is still fucking imaginary, it doesn't suddenly become the thing that it corresponds to, nor does it cause something to suddenly spring into existence just because you've imagined it.

Let's look as your latest "example". Imagining a spherical Earth doesn't make your imagined Earth real just because the actual Earth happens to correspond to the one you have imagined. You'd have to be an idiot to think that it does. Of course the Earth didn't change it's shape, this is because real things don't conform to conciousness. The Primacy of Existence means they exist independently of what anyone - including you - thinks, wishes or imagines. It's a shame you didn't exert yourself a bit more, you might have realised how dumb the example was and saved yourself some embarrassment if you had.

In my original argument, I demonstrated that anything, which can be imagined, could be real.

This is just laugh out loud funny. You did nothing of the sort. Drawing a leprechaun that you've imagined means that all you have is a drawing of an imaginary fucking leprechaun, it sure as shit doesn't cause leprechauns to exist and does nothing to show how the imaginary can be anything but imaginary. I'm beginning to think that your favourite tipple is the Haldol with bleach chaser that you accuse people who don't think that imagining things makes them real are drinking.


freddies_dead said...


Failing the first premise, Fella’s entire argument collapses.

The only way to show that the first premise fails is to show us something that is both imaginary and real at the same time - go on, show us a square circle - you may not set much store in the law of identity but you can be absolutely sure that it is pissing all over your chips during this "argument". So far all you've done is imagine a leprechaun, drawn it on a bit of paper and claim that that makes leprechauns real. Which is, of course, utterly absurd. Where are these real leprechauns? Your picture of the leprechaun you imagined is real, but it isn't an actual fucking leprechaun now is it?

And now you're claiming that, just because people could only imagine a spherical Earth at one point, it didn't stop the actual Earth from being spherical. Which is trivially true, after all the Primacy of Existence held then as it does now. However, those imaginary spherical Earths were totally imaginary. It doesn't matter that they corresponded to the actual real Earth, they were imaginings and, as such, weren't real. I don't get how people can't understand this simple point. I can sit here and imagine like crazy that the Earth is spherical and has continents and seas and cities and people and animals etc... etc... - and, while it correspondes to the actual Earth, it doesn't matter how hard I imagine it, even if I could imagine it down to the last molecule, my imagined Earth is still totally imaginary. It isn't fucking real.

I can't really be bothered too much with the rest of his post. He moans about how Dawson uses doctrinal in-fighting amongst Christians as evidence that the Christian God concept is internally contradictory - I note that he makes no attempt to show otherwise. Falsely claims atheists have the same problems - impossible when we don't have any doctrine. Randomly brings up the concept of "false atheists" in order to disparage "false Christians" - I note how he doesn't think he's wrong so he must be a "true Christian". Hypocritically accuses Dawson of a red herring when he's just done exactly what he falsely accuses Dawson of doing, so demonstrating that, by his own logic, he must have a weak argument. Makes the false claim that he's refuted Dawson "TWICE" when he's yet to even come close to demonstrating that the imaginary is anything other than imaginary. Waffles on about what he thinks apologetics is as if it has any bearing on the claims under discussion and finally demands that Dawson provide support for a premise that he's singularly failed to refute and that others (Prayson among them) happily accept.

You couldn't really hope for stupidity of this magnitude but when it drops in your lap like this then it's truly a wonderous thing to behold.

Justin Hall said...


looks like someone else also takes umbrage at the notion that god is simply imaginary. Leper posted a comment to this post of mine


Ydemoc said...

Dawson, freddies_dead, photo, Robert, Justin, NAL,

After I informed "bethelbaptistchurchblog" that Dawson and others had answered his reply to Dawson's blog entry, he (she?) posts the following over on Prayson's blog:

"There is no need to refute Premise #4, when Premise #1 doesn’t pass muster. You (or Dawson, or whomever) hasn’t even gotten to Premise #4, yet. The entire argument is a house of straw. Saying that I’m stupid does not prove the premise, but if it makes y’all feel more important, go on ahead wit’ yo bad selves.

Henceforth, anyone that wants to comment on what I have to say in this thread and expects an answer, can comment here. I have neither the time nor desire to surf the web looking for comments from 'Dawson’s' sycophants.

Attempting to insult me is doomed; it just makes me (and, I suspect, most of the other adults reading this) feel sorry for you, but here’s the thing: if y’all spent less time trying to insult Christians and more time trying to prove Premise #1 is tenable (which it is most assuredly not) you might actually get somewhere."

If anyone is interested, you can read the rest here: http://withalliamgod.wordpress.com/2013/02/01/bethricks-unsuccessful-case-against-christian-god/comment-page-1/#comment-6363


Ydemoc said...

Evidently, he still maintains that "[b]eing imaginary is not mutually exclusive from being real"... that the imaginary is, or could be, real.

Still clinging to the notion that the imaginary is or could be on the same level as that which is actual, this individual aims to completely obliterates the dividing line between fantasy and reality.

And as for his complaint about Dawson not addressing Premise 1? That is laughable, for here is just one of many, many instances of Dawson doing just that:

"But it is still unclear how what he imagines is itself not imaginary. On the one hand, there are objects in the world which we perceive, and on the other there is what we imagine when we rearrange what we have perceived in the confines of our imagination. They are not one and the same. I can perceive the front door of my house – here I am perceiving something that actually exists. I can also imagine the front door of my house, such as when I recall it from memory and form a mental image of it. A key point to keep in mind here is that imagination is always selective. Imagination is not the same thing as memory. When we imagine something, we can pull details from memory, but even here we are selecting which details to pull and focus on. The image in our mind is not an independently existing entity. While imagination itself is in fact an activity which our consciousness performs, the object of that activity is not something existing independent of that conscious activity. It is in the context of imagination that we come closest to approximating what the primacy of consciousness metaphysics could be like."


And as for complaints about Dawson and other posters using insults, this is disingenuous. If I recall correctly, he fired the first volley, by referring to Dawson as "Beckwith." Given how he has referred to Dawson in subsequent replies, I suspect this misspelling wasn't at all a mistake.

Talk about being civil and behaving like an adult!


Ydemoc said...


Thanks! I'll check that out.


Unknown said...

Good blog Dawson. Many Thanks for taking time to think through these issues.

Prayson, Rhodes, or any other Christian theist I have a question for you.

When Adam Lanza, the killer at Sandy Hook Elementary, killed his mother, 20 first graders and six members of the school staff before killing himself because he imagined he was in competition with Anders Breivik who had killed 77 people in a 2011 in a bombing and shooting attack in Norway, since, according to Christian Theism, the imaginary is real, Lanza must have been justified in murdering his Mom and the kids because he imagined he was so justified by virtue of competition with Breivik. What if some theist decides he is imagining his God is instructing him to go forth and cleanse the world of non-believers? Would that theist be justified in murdering Dawson or a group of Buddhists in Bangkok?

If the imaginary is real, then there can be no moral facts forming any basis for a valid ethic. If the imaginary is real, then Hitler and the Nazis were justified in committing the Holocaust because they imagined they were justified.

Best Wishes

Unknown said...

Those who claim premise one is false and hold that [b]eing imaginary is not mutually exclusive from being real"... that the imaginary is, or could be, real. must pay a heavy price.

Without an independent reality that exists apart from consciousness The Cartoon Universe of Theism obtains. Morality cannot exist if consciousness has primacy over existence because any act can be justified by imagining a justification. If premise one is false, then one horn of Euthyphro's dilemma is fatal to Abrahamic theism because God arbitrarily decrees the good making God a mere dictator, and no dictator can be worthy of worship let alone most worthy of worship. Hence, if the imaginary is somehow equal to the real, then God cannot exist.

The bethelbaptistchurchblog person is completely lost in their delusion.

Ydemoc said...

Hi everyone,

Since "bethelbaptistchurchblog" has expressed reluctance to engage any of us over here, and since it is his position that "[u]ntil you can offer a concise, persuasive and civil argument in support of Premise #1, there is no further need for me to respond despite protests to the contrary," I thought, perhaps, he'd enjoy examining some excerpts from Dawson's recent entry over on Prasyon's blog. So I left him a few. Here's the link:



freddies_dead said...

Thanks once again for the link Ydemoc.

bethelbaptistchurchblog said (over on Prayson's blog)...

There is no need to refute Premise #4, when Premise #1 doesn’t pass muster.

Of course this doesn't fit with reality as we've experienced it so far. Both Prayson and bethelbaptistchurchblog have tried to refute the argument but Prayson, after being shown that his claim of irrelevancy didn't hold water has conceeded that Premise #1 is fine. You, on the other hand have done nothing to attack Premise #1 beyond claiming that "imagining things make them real" which is, of course, utterly wrong.

You (or Dawson, or whomever) hasn’t even gotten to Premise #4, yet.

Odd, I'm pretty sure plenty of people have "gotten to Premise #4". Even Prayson - despite his bumbling attempts to make an accusation of irrelevancy stick - has said he accepts the first 3 premises. Your own "arguments" against Premise #1 have been shown to be tripe so maybe you'd like a tilt at Premise 4 for a bit of light relief?

The entire argument is a house of straw.

The redefined arguments both you and Prayson have concocted and then railed against definitely are. However, the one Dawson has stated still stands, if you beleive it to be so weak why haven't you actually addressed it yet? Why do you prefer to interact with strawmen arguments of your own making?

Saying that I’m stupid does not prove the premise,

I don't believe anyone has claimed that it does.

but if it makes y’all feel more important, go on ahead wit’ yo bad selves.

My calling you stupid has nothing to do with a feeling of self-importance and has all to do with your attempts to refute the premise being, well, stupid. Irredeemably so.

Henceforth, anyone that wants to comment on what I have to say in this thread and expects an answer, can comment here.

I fully expect no answer as your "arguments" so far suggest you're incapable of thinking critically about what you're trying, and epically failing, to refute. However, if you do finally come up with something that isn't as stupid as "imagining something makes it real" then I'll comment on it wherever I damned well please.

I have neither the time nor desire to surf the web looking for comments from “Dawson’s” sycophants.

No-one is asking you to "surf the web", you have been given direct links to where the comments regarding your response have been made, so this claim is just so much bullshit.

Attempting to insult me is doomed;

I'm not attempting, I'm succeeding. But, to be fair, you made it very very easy.

it just makes me (and, I suspect, most of the other adults reading this) feel sorry for you,

Save your pity for yourself. You need it more than I do.

but here’s the thing: if y’all spent less time trying to insult Christians and more time trying to prove Premise #1 is tenable (which it is most assuredly not) you might actually get somewhere.

The biggest insult in all of this is your baseless assertion that "imagining things makes them real". I don't think I've ever seen someone take such a huge shit into their own hand and then offer it as if it were pearls of wisdom rather than the steaming pile of effluent that it so obviously is - although MDR certainly came close.


freddies_dead said...


So far all I’ve seen is a Premise that isn’t,

That isn't what? Refuted? I agree. Others, including Prayson himself, find the premise perfectly acceptable and your attempts to refute it have so far been execrable.

a lot of self-righteous posturing,

There's absolutely no need to be self-righteous as I am simply right in pointing out your argument is shit.

verbose insults from people so clearly wrapped up in doubts about their own intellect that they feel a need to attack others’,

Whatever doubts I may have about my own intellect, I can assure you, the only reason you've been insulted about this is soley down to the imbecelic nature of your so called "arguments". Get better arguments and you won't be mocked anywhere near as much.

and puerile back-slapping.

Accusing others of being puerile when you've just argued that "imagining something makes it real" is just hilarious.

Until you can offer a concise, persuasive and civil argument in support of Premise #1, there is no further need for me to respond despite protests to the contrary.

Wait, what? You expect us to offer a "concise, persuasive and civil argument" when you're incapable of offering one yourself? How sweet. I did, however, point out that Premise #1 is true by definition. Words, they have meanings, and one of the meanings of imaginary is "not real". You're free to respond or not, that is your prerogative, however, any attempt to claim that you haven't been given what you asked for will show you for a liar.

In other words: Grow up, try harder, and pretend that this is a discussion about something that people actually take seriously.

When read autobiographically that statement actually makes sense. It's a shame you didn't take your advice before claiming that "imagining something makes it real".

Absent that, this will be my last comment on the matter. I will, however, continue to pray for you.

And I will try to stop laughing at your pathetic attempt to claim that "imagining something makes it real".

Ydemoc said...

Well, "bethelbaptistchurchblog" has left a response to those excerpts I posted over on Prayson's blog. See here:


He's back to writing that: “Being imaginary is not mutually exclusive from being real. As an example of this, a round Earth was imaginary to people in the First Century, but we now know that the Earth is, indeed, round."

And: "...in order to be a premise something must be universally accepted, or nearly so; in any case, it must be well-nigh indisputable, and Fella’s premise comes nowhere close to meeting that criteria."

I don't understand this. What "bethel" writes here seems incoherent. So if "2 + 2 = 5" was "universally accepted"; or if someone considered it "indisputable" that slavery was morally justifiable, this would be the standard for a premise?! Where is any discussion of the criteria being "according to reason" or "in accordance with the facts of reality"?!

Perhaps this is just a bit of carelessness on "bethel's" part. Or, more likely, as Dawson pointed out in his blog entry, it is another example of the author resorting to nothing more than "a majoritarian position" as criteria for a premise.


freddies_dead said...

So rather than accepting that his arguments have been shown to be complete shit - as they surely have - he's decided to double down on the stupid. Why am I not surprised?

Premises aren't accepted/rejected by majority vote and they're only disputed when you've got an actual argument which shows that there is something wrong with them. They're certainly not in dispute when your argument against them is something that the average 5 year old can see is utter bullshit.

It's not carelessness, it's stupidity. It's the only way he can defend his ridiculous worldview. It would be a shame if wasn't so damned funny.

I'm going to go and imagine bethelbaptistchurchblog drinking a Haldol with a bleach chaser and, because I can imagine such a thing, it must be real right? Right guys? Hey, why are you running away? Come back!

Unknown said...

Good job Freddie.

Unknown said...

Hello friends

Ydemoc pointed out that bethelbaptistchurchblog posted an example of the imaginary being real as “Being imaginary is not mutually exclusive from being real. As an example of this, a round Earth was imaginary to people in the First Century, but we now know that the Earth is, indeed, round."

Freddie's characterization of this person as dumber than shit seems justified since Eratosthenes of Cyrene inductively reasoned the Earth was spherical to within 2% of it's actual circumference in the third century bce.


Valid inductive reasoning informing speculative estimates does not qualify as imaginary fantasy.

Best Wishes

Ydemoc said...

I second that. Good job!


Ydemoc said...

Just a little snippet from my most recent interaction with "bethel" over on Prayson's blog:

"bethel" wrote: “In order to engage God, one must believe through faith. Faith is a conscious act. Failure to choose to have faith is akin, in this case, to failure to use a telescope while observing a distant moon.”

I wrote: "I find it interesting that you bring up 'faith' in a discussion about imagination. Dawson has an interesting blog entry entitled: 'Faith as Hope in the Imaginary.' Rationally-minded individuals might want to check it out. Here’s the link:



freddies_dead said...

Thanks guys. I'd love to take all the credit but I simply couldn't have done it without the childish inanities provided by bethelbaptistchurchblog. So thanks to him for demonstrating the absurdity of the Christian worldview ... again.

Bahnsen Burner said...

Hello everyone,

I’m sorry I haven’t been able to chime in for going on over a week now. I’m still here as you can probably infer from the fact that your comments are being “approved”. (I know, yeuch! I miss the good ol’ days too!)

I have finally (!!) finished “Part II” of my interaction with “bethel’s” comment. I’ve posted it here:

A Case in Point, Part II

I appreciate everyone continuing the discussion and posting thoughts on this topic. Freddies, you're on fire! Great to see! And Ydemoc, I really appreciate your efforts to engage the fellow over on Prayson’s blog. I notice that Prayson hasn’t come back around here though. Hmmm…. (head scratch…)

I’ve tried to keep up on reading everything, but I have been so busy with many numerous projects lately, so I haven’t been able to follow everything as closely as I’d like to. My time and energy right now are well divided, and my blog again is having to take second (third, fourth…?) place in my daily priorities. Part II sat on my computer for a long time, and this evening I finally got some time to do the final edits. I’m sure I’ve missed typos and opportunities, but it will have to do for now.

As for “bethel,” I hate to think anyone who is literate enough to post comments on a web page and carry on a dialogue is literally stupid, but then again I cannot ignore the evidence here. He strikes me as serious in everything he has affirmed, and he has consistently affirmed his rejection of Premise 1. I recall that Prayson affirmed agreement with Premises 1, 2 and 3. So how can two Christians be so divided on an issue that is so fundamental? I don’t think “bethel” is thinking things through very clearly, and it’s clear that his urge to protect his confessional investment has clouded any sane judgment he might otherwise have. I can only hope that he has compartmentalized his beliefs from his daily activity well enough that what he argues on the web is not a reflection of what he actually does in real life. Since we really have no way of knowing, we all have to be on guard in this world of crazies spun out of control.

Be well out there everyone. I’ll chime back in when I can.