Friday, 13 April 2012

Take Away The God You First Thought Of.

Hey! I can almost see a wood through these trees!
Here's a neat little trick. It's just like the one religious apologists often play on their audience:

Think of a number, any number. Don't tell me.... (Keep it small to make it easy for yourself in a moment)

Double it.

Now add 10 to the answer.

Now halve the result.

And take away the number you first thought of.

Now, you're probably wondering how I know the result was 5. (If it's not, go back and check your math because you've made a mistake.)

You see the trick here is to be in control of your thoughts. I told you what to think and what to do, so I controlled your conclusion. In fact I started with the answer and worked back from there.

When religious apologists and theologians try to construct a seemingly logical argument for their particular god - any god, it works for them all - they start off with the conclusion that their god exists and work backwards from there.

They then construct an argument about, say, the origin of the universe, or life on earth, or human morals, or the laws of physics - almost anything will do but if it's something really hard which only people who've bothered to learn about will understand, so much the better because that makes it easier to bamboozle you - and include their god in the explanation.

Then they tell you this is the only way to explain whatever it is, and, because their explanation has their god in it, it must prove their god exists. It's called circular reasoning - a logical fallacy - but apologists normally use these tricks.

But, as dear old William of Occam explained, unless a step adds anything essential to an argument it should be pared away with his trusty razor, because the chances are that the least complicated argument is the one most likely to be true. So, fitting a god somewhere in an explanation simply because you want it to be there adds nothing to the explanation and just complicates it unnecessarily. In fact, it adds an almost infinitely complicated step and turns what may well have been a perfectly satisfactory, uncomplicated one into an infinitely complex one.

Of course, religious apologists and theologians dance around the fact that any explanation with a god in it needs to explain the god - what it does, how it did it, where it came from and, most importantly, why the explanation won't work without it.

There's the explanation. It has my god in it. QED. My god exists (and if you can't understand my very clever argument, you're too stupid to - isn't that right very clever audience? [Applause]). Copies of my books are available in the foyer.

Nice work if you can get it.

Of course, their explanation is no different in principle from drawing a picture of a god on a piece of paper and then telling you the picture proves the god exists. But you'd never fall for that one would you... unless the 'picture' is drawn in words in a book.

If only they would take away the god they first thought of they, and you, would see that the answer is zero. They haven't proved a god exists; they've only proved they can fit a god into their explanation... and fool people with it.

By the way, if you're still wondering how I knew what you were thinking, the answer is always half the number you told them to add halfway through the trick. What they start with is irrelevant. I didn't know what you were thinking. I made you think what I was thinking. I could just have told you to divide 10 by 2 but you'd have seen through that trick. See if you can spot these tricks the next time you see a religious apologist fleecing his victims earning his living by helping believers cope with the cognitive dissonance reality keeps causing.

Do you want to buy a bridge? I have a photograph of it to prove it's mine.





submit to reddit




19 comments :

  1. You could say the same about atheists who "then construct an argument about, say, the origin of the universe, or life on earth, or human morals, or the laws of physics - almost anything will do but if it's something really hard which only people who've bothered to learn about understand, so much the better because that makes it easier to bamboozle you.

    Then they imply that is the only way to explain whatever it is, and, because their explanation does not have god in it, it must prove that god does not exist."

    A good example of that can be found here:

    http://rosarubicondior.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/evolution-of-god-hypothesis.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. >You could say the same about atheists who "then construct an argument about, say, the origin of the universe, or life on earth, or human morals, or the laws of physics

      Except, of course, that we can support these claims with evidence, the results of experiments, the falsification of alternative hypotheses, mathematics and logic.

      By contrast, you er... can't. All you can do is fit a god in your 'argument' and then assert that this proves it exists, whilst conspicuously dancing around the need to explain why you put it there in the first place, how it leads to a less complicated answer, how it works, where it came from, what it does, etc., without invoking yet more 'magic' and 'miracles' and hand-waving assertions of unsupported 'facts', and then often having to fall back on trying to divest yourself of responsibility for your claim by demanding science disproves it.

      I can understand why you need to deploy this dishonest tactic but doesn't that approach embarrass you at all? Don't you feel even the slightest shame at needing to abandon personal integrity in order to fool credulous and vulnerable people?

      Delete
  2. I am not "deploying a dishonest tactic" as you put it. If anything is dishonest, it's the false claims and assumptions you have made about me and my arguments.

    You state that "all you can do is fit a god in your 'argument' and then assert that this proves it exists" which is a completely false claim. Firstly I have not fitted 'god' in the way you imply in to any of the arguments I have given. Secondly, I have never asserted anything proving the existence of god.

    Additionally, you state that "we can support these claims with evidence, the results of experiments, the falsification of alternative hypotheses, mathematics and logic." Aside from the fact that you have (for example in the post I have been given) not always been particularly thorough in the provision of evidence, your claims do not prove that god doesn't exist either. Plausible explanations for how the notion of god arose without there actually being a god do not equate to proof.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *[that god does not exist] is probably how I should have ended that last sentence.

      Delete
    2. How amusing that you demand proof for every minutiae of science yet require none at all for your own pet notion. Double standards are of course not so much a fallacy as an example of the casual and habitual intellectual dishonesty which passes for reason in theology.

      It betrays again the fact that you know truth and honesty don't support you.

      Delete
    3. "How amusing that you demand proof for every minutiae of science yet require none at all for your own pet notion."

      Where have I a) demanded proof for every minutiae of science? and b) demonstrated that I require no proof at all for what you so condescendingly refer to as "my pet notion"?

      Delete
    4. So, I am tired and should have thought through that last comment a bit more before I posted it.

      I presume that you have connected my not asserting any proof about the existence of God with "requiring no proof at all." Can I prove scientifically to you that God exists? No. So in that sense I can answer my own question and can understand why you might have come to the conclusion you did. Let me be absolutely clear, however - accepting a lack of scientific proof is not the same as "requiring no evidence or reason."

      Tbat is especially true in this case because there is no scientific proof to the contrary. Your belief that there is no god is similarly based on your interpretation of the evidence and your reasoning rather than scientific proof.

      So back to your assertion about my demanding proof from you - let me again be absolutely clear. I have not demanded proof from you.

      I do however stand by my statement that "plausible explanations for how the notion of god arose without there actually being a god do not equate to proof that god does not exist." To imply otherwise would be misleading.

      Delete
    5. >Can I prove scientifically to you that God exists? No. <

      Just as there is no scientific proof that Thor or Zeus exists.

      Good so far...

      >Tbat is especially true in this case because there is no scientific proof to the contrary. <

      Nor is there any proof to the contrary against Thor or Zeus.

      >Your belief that there is no god...<

      Straw man alert!

      So, can we take it that you also believe in Zeus and Thor, and indeed every other god and half-baked notion for which the above are also true?

      Or have you a double standard somewhere which you are not letting on about?

      BTW, I have never claimed to believe any god doesn't exist. I only ever claim you have no evidence for one (which you've admitted) and therefore there is no evidential reason to believe in any (which you presumably also agree with, except for the god your mummy and daddy said was real).

      So, can you explain this dependence on double standards for your favourite god, please? Is it that you think it can't compete on a level playing field with other gods and with other notions, so you have had to allow it the special privilege of a lower standard of evidence to get by, rather like giving a helping hand to a handicapped child?

      Delete
    6. >Where have I a) demanded proof for every minutiae of science? <

      Here:

      >your claims do not prove that god doesn't exist either.< Posted 14 April 2012 02:48

      Had you forgotten?

      Delete
    7. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  3. You seem to be very selective in your interpretations of what I (and others, I hasten to add) have to say on this blog, inferring all sorts of things which are obviously not meant. If this is deliberate I suggest you look in a mirror before making further comments about dishonesty and double-standards. In any case, you don't exactly help your credibility.

    "So, can we take it that you also believe in Zeus and Thor, and indeed every other god and half-baked notion for which the above are also true?"

    >Why, exactly? Please explain why you think this is a reasonable conclusion to come to.

    "I have never claimed to believe any god doesn't exist"

    >Forgive me for assuming you are an atheist. Are you now trying to imply that you are - in fact - an agnostic or a theist?

    "I only ever claim you have no evidence for one (which you've admitted)"

    > I will remind you that I said that I wanted to be absolutely clear when I pointed out that accepting a lack of scientific proof (which I did admit to) is not the same as having no evidence or reasoned basis for something (which I certainly did not admit to in terms of my belief).

    "Your claims do not prove that god doesn't exist either."

    > No, I hadn't forgotten that I made this statement. But how does that statement equate with "demanding proof for every minutiae of science"? Again I'd be interested to know why you think this is a reasonable link to make.


    "which you presumably also agree with, except for the god your mummy and daddy said was real."

    > Some more sneering comments for good measure, I see.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I don't think Rosa needs to take a look in the mirror at all. She is 100% right when she pointed out your double standards and your dishonesty, JP.

    Oh and JP, here's a few answers for your last comment:

    -Nevermind Zeus and Thor, if you don't get it the first time it is probably hopeless.
    -As for whether Rosa is an agnostic or an atheist (I am pretty sure she is not a theist, although you seem a bit confused at this point) it is obviously neither here nor there for you, b/c you clearly haven't bothered to figure it out thus far. What's it matter now? Funny though how it is always breezed right over and then later when it is pointed out that you don't even know what you are arguing against things get a little funny.
    -So you admit there is no scientific evidence, but you hint at the fact that you have some evidence or some reasoned basis? Let us forget the reasoned basis and get to the good stuff: the evidence. So what is this hinted at evidence?
    -When Rosa said you are "demanding proof for every minutiae of science" she was clearly exaggerating or being cynical, you take your pick. You of course couldn't handle this and flew off the handle. Funny thing is she is not far off the mark and the fact that you don't understand what she is saying is in the least bit surprising.
    -Do you believe in a god other than the one your Mom and Dad said was real? Or is it the same god? Chances are it is the same god and then the sneering comments are not so sneering and just the plain and simple truth. If it is a different god, things don't change much. Except you would become an exception to the rule, or a very small minority of believers who changed faiths.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "She is 100% right when she pointed out your double standards and your dishonesty, JP."

    > Please do point out where I have been dishonest.

    "-Nevermind Zeus and Thor, if you don't get it the first time it is probably hopeless. "

    > I think I got it the first time, thank you, and stand by my point that it is an unreasonable argument to make. There are two statements. 1) There is not (as far as I know) any concrete scientific proof that God does exist and 2) There is not (as far as I know) any concrete scientific proof to the contrary - i.e. that God does not exist.

    Statement 2 is not on its own an argument for any God, and I never claimed that it was. It does not follow from this that I must believe in Thor, Zeus, or in fact anything at all. The only reason for outlining Statement 2 was to clarify that Statement 1 does not make theism untenable.

    >"When Rosa said you are "demanding proof for every minutiae of science" she was clearly exaggerating..."

    Of course it was an exaggerated turn of phrase, but that doesn't mean that I was wrong to challenge the foundation on which the statement was made. It also, for the record, does not mean that I "flew off the handle." As I pointed out, observing that "your claims do not prove that god doesn't exist either" does not equate to a demand for evidence, and so at this point I hold to the fact that it was a false accusation to make.

    "Do you believe in a god other than the one your Mom and Dad said was real?"

    > The implication is that you think I am only a theist because my parents told me God was real. Do you think that I believe in Santa Claus as well? Or do you think that it's only in the area of religion that I am somehow unable to critically think about what my parents told me for myself? (I note of course, that this could be entirely hypothetical because you have made assumptions about my parents without me actually saying anything).

    In terms of why I am a theist, there is plenty of historical evidence to support the historicity of the Bible, the existence of Jesus Christ and the claims about the resurrection. For an example overview see http://www.bethinking.org/resurrection-miracles/intermediate/the-resurrection-fact-or-fiction.htm.

    My personal experience (and that of others) also fits with the idea of a God who a) fits with the Christian God outlined in the Bible and b) interacts in our lives today. In other words, the Christian worldview is a reasonable worldview based on my experiences - I note that if my experiences did not match my worldview I would have to change my worldview if I were to retain rational integrity.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "Please do point out where I have been dishonest." <---At every point along the line.
    "It does not follow from this that I must believe in Thor, Zeus" <---So I take from this you do not believe in Zeus/Thor? Okay, good you are now exercising your mental faculties and you are an atheist. Welcome to the club.
    "As I pointed out, observing that "your claims do not prove that god doesn't exist either" does not equate to a demand for evidence, and so at this point I hold to the fact that it was a false accusation to make." <---You still don't get it do you?
    "Do you think that I believe in Santa Claus as well?" <---It sounds like you must have at one point in time. Now that you are older and wiser you realize that you had been duped by the story of a fake supernatural being who rides a sleigh pulled by reindeer and drops down chimneys and leaves little kids presents. One day you might realize you have been duped by the story of an all-powerful god as well. The parallels btw the two stories is funny too. Santa only gives presents to good little children. God only allows good little Christians into heaven. Santa punished bad children by leaving no them no presents at all, or worse a lump of coal. God punishes non-believers with eternity in Hell. Ha ha ha, god is just a different version of Santa, trying to keep all the masses in line and make sure they behave when no one is looking!

    OH and btw even if your historical evidence proves Jesus existed (which is dubious) that still doesn't prove one way or the other that the bible is a holy text/God's word. Great, a guy named Jesus existed 2,000 years ago. So what? Proves nothing. The claims about the resurrection also prove nothing. And they are just that, claims. Unverified claims, to boot. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Jesus was resurrected. And to make it even more clear, the historical evidence to support the bible (as you claim there is plenty of) is of the most contradictory and nonsensical nature a person could possibly imagine. Noahs Ark? Find that yet? Nope! Shroud of Turin? Not old enough to be Jesus' face! Etc etc etc. Give it a break man. The bible is a bad joke my friend. Wake up and realize that now instead of Santa watching over you making sure you behave it is God instead. Oh something else funny too I just thought of. Santa and God look alike. They are both old men with long white/grey beards. Take Santa outta that red and white suit and put him in God's garb and you wouldn't know the difference. Lol, now that is funny, just thought of it too.........over to you JP!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Please explain to me why specifically not believing in Zeus/Thor makes me an atheist.

    "And to make it even more clear, the historical evidence to support the bible (as you claim there is plenty of) is of the most contradictory and nonsensical nature a person could possibly imagine."

    > Please reference the things you feel are contradictory and non-sensical.

    "Shroud of Turin?"

    > What has this got to to with the historical evidence to support the Bible?

    "Santa and God look alike. They are both old men with long white/grey beards."

    > Are they?

    ReplyDelete
  8. "Please explain to me why specifically not believing in Zeus/Thor makes me an atheist." <---Nah man, I am done explaining things to you. You are clearly too dense to get it.
    "Please reference the things you feel are contradictory and non-sensical." <---Just about all of it, a conservative estimate in my opinion would be about 66% of it doesn't make sense.
    "What has this got to to with the historical evidence to support the Bible?" <---Okay one point for JP. You got me, the Shroud of Turin has nothing to do with the bible, but it does have to do with historical evidence regarding Jesus who is the main character of the bible. This is like picking teeth with you man. No need to be so literal. Oh wait.....
    "Are they" <---Yes they are. Both figments of your imagination.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Going back to Rosa's comment "Straw man alert!" I thought it might be beneficial to consider what is meant by a "Straw Man" in this case. See, for example - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

    A key point is that a Straw Man involves presenting a misrepresentation of the opponent's position. So, I am not sure that the accusation of a straw man in this case is correct.

    If I understand it correctly, the accusation came from my statement that "Your belief that there is no god is similarly based on your interpretation of the evidence and your reasoning rather than scientific proof." This seems to be a fair observation. (and was -for the record- not intended as a criticism seeing as the same can be said of theism).

    If you want an example of a "straw man argument," Rosa has conveniently given one herself here: http://rosarubicondior.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/help-what-should-i-do.html#comment-form.

    ReplyDelete
  10. JP.

    I expect my readers will understand why you felt unable to explain exactly how that is a straw man argument but just wanted them to accept your word that it is.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wow JP, I'm surprised you're putting up with this. These two have no intention to engage with your posts on a rational level - at least there's no risk whatsoever of you being convinced!

    ReplyDelete

Obscene, threatening or obnoxious messages, preaching, abuse and spam will be removed, as will anything by known Internet trolls and stalkers or by known sock-puppet accounts.

A claim made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Remember: your opinion is not an established fact unless corroborated.

ShareThis

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Web Analytics