Sunday, 3 February 2013

Pity The Poor Apologists.

Spare a thought for Christian apologists. It must be awful for them - apart, that is, from all the money that the more devious ones get from their credulous customers in return for cognitive dissonance trauma therapy in the form of books, speaking engagements and TV chat and televangelist show appearances. Imagine what it must be like having to promote fallacies for a living like, to paraphrase Christopher Hitchens, "...an unctuous merchant in a bazaar come before us with ingratiating smirks and outspread hands, offering consolation and solidarity and uplift, competing as they do in a marketplace".

But what makes it worse for them is that the Bible itself so frequently flatly contradicts them and pulls the rug out from under their feet, so they have to plough on regardless, hoping no one has noticed. Take, for instance the stock-in-trade fall-back position when all the logic has failed and every argument has been defeated yet again - that their god is eternal and exists outside space an time and so doesn't need to be explained because the evidence bar is at ground level, whereas science of course is required to jump an impossibly high bar and provide proof of the origins of everything, including, so it seems, the origin of the nothing before there was something, whilst conceding that there was time and space before there was space-time.

This tactic is used to make several apologetics 'arguments' look to the unsophisticated both logical and honest, particularly:

  1. The Cosmological Argument, where apologetic salesmen claim the right to assume that everything requires an explanation in terms of cause, except their god which is granted a free pass to make the logic work.

    Briefly:
    1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
    2. The Universe began to exist.
    3. Therefore, the Universe had a cause.

    Originally devised by Al-Ghazali to 'prove' the existence of Allah (and therefore that the Qu'ran is the literal word of Allah), it has since been purloined by William Lane Craig who earns his living using it to 'prove' the existence of the Christian God (and therefore that the Bible is literal word of God).
  2. The Ontological Argument devised by Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury under William II of England. Briefly, this argues that, because a necessary aspect of perfection is existence, and because one can conceive of a perfect god, such a god must exist. (No really!). Believe it or not, this is still trotted out despite being refuted by, amongst others, Thomas Aquinas, David Hume and Immanual Kant, and by being so obviously an absurd attempt to define God into existence which, if it were true, could be used to define anything one wishes into existence. Shame about the manifest fact that it only works for imaginary invisible things but never for real things.

    It is of course nothing more than the anthropocentrically arrogant view that a god must exist because one is necessary for the believer and a vindication of the view that man creates gods in his own image.
  3. The Teleological Argument, also known a 'Paley's Watch' which argues that the appearance of design implies a designer and, since living things look like they were designed, there must be a designer (which is of course, the Christian God if you're a Christian; Allah if you're a Muslim, and whichever your favourite creator god is if you happened to have parents brought up in a different 'faith').

    This was refuted by Darwin and Wallace in 1859 but is never-the-less still trotted out by and to people who have managed to remain ignorant of descent with modification and the power of natural selection to produce the semblance of design by a natural process. Some religious apologists earn their living by providing their customers with reason to maintain this ignorance and to convince themselves that this ignorance trumps anything science can produce.

    It ignores the obligation to apply the argument to their own god who is, naturally, granted an exemption from the need to have its design explained. "But [insert designer god] has always existed so doesn't need to have it's origins explained!"

The problem for all these standard arguments however, is that whoever wrote the Bible failed to anticipate that future apologists were going to need this fall-back, get-out-if-jail-free card in order to get round the fact that there was no evidential or logical support for the notion they were writing about, and promptly scuppered the whole thing with the following passage reporting what one of the prophets claimed God had told him:

Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.

Isaiah 43:10

Oops!

So, Isaiah says that God says that he had a beginning and will have an end, and that before him there were no gods and there will be none after him. God also says that gods are 'formed'. To make matters worse, this is the same prophet whom Christians love to claim prophesied the birth of Jesus, so 'proving' that Jesus was who they claim he was. Obviously what's happened here is that the writer assumed all that was then known was all that was going to be known, so never anticipated apologists coming up against the arguments science can now put forward, so never imagined so much would hinge on them getting away with persuading people that God is eternal as a escape clause.

So, Christian apologists, in view of the fact the God says he is not eternal and has not existed for ever, but was once 'formed', how do you answer the following:
  1. What caused God?
  2. How can a perfect god be imperfect in that one day it will cease to exist and once had no existence?
  3. Who or what designed God, or what natural process gave it the necessary complexity to be able to create the Universe and monitor and record all human thoughts and actions?

Alternatively you could explain why you disagree with what God said in the Bible and by what process do you came to know better than the god whom you claim created everything and knows all?

You might need to spend a while thinking up the answers, or maybe you could send the questions to William Lane Craig, or whomsoever is your current favourite 'leading' apologist, asking them to come up with an answer. It must be awful for you trying to eke out a living by denying the very thing you are being paid to promote and having to struggle to present arguments that even your supposedly omniscient god says are false.

I bet you sometimes wished you had chosen a more honest way to earn a living, don't you?





submit to reddit


14 comments :

  1. Whoever wrote the Bible failed to anticipate (not: anticipated)... minor error, good read.

    Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  2. Just as they refuse to admit that what the believe in is garbage, I refuse to feel sorry for them. Their true agenda is to prescribe how people think, by scaring them with threats of terrible things after they die. They want people, especially children, to be as stupid and ignorant as they are, and are prepared to foster any lie in order to gain control. They are not worthy of pity, only scorn and ridicule.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Does it bother you to lie? Do you feel like the ends justify the means? I think you feel so strongly about the spread of atheism that you will do anything to make your opponents appear to be liars, and to make strawmen of opposing arguments for your audience.

    I was thinking of actually publishing another article (on my non-profit blog) in response to this as I did in previously in writing my article Why The Kalam Cosmological Is Not God Of The Gaps http://thereforegodexists.com/2013/01/why-the-kalam-cosmological-is-not-god-of-the-gaps/. But since you never bothered to reply to it, and since you have enough people sending you rebuttals in their blog I thought I would just leave a comment.

    1 - The Cosmological Argument. I will just post an excerpt from the article that I posted above.

    This is not an argument for the Christian God, for the traits attributed to God in His revelation to man would be an unjustified consequence of this argument. One cannot conclude that the personal mind has omnipotence or omniscience from this argument. To insert the Christian God, Zeus, or a peanut-butter sandwich (as Rosa suggested) would all be unjustified because the traits that they contain do not follow deductively (Also a peanut-butter sandwich, and Zeus are contingent upon space and therefore could not be the cause of space).

    The traits of this personal transcendence are left in open question for future inquiry.

    2 - The Ontological Argument

    The contemporary treatments of this argument, such as those proposed by Doctor Alvin Plantinga are much different from that of the Archbishop. Although it is a little abstract and even though I think that it is a sound argument, it is usually not convincing. But I will spell it out.

    It hinges on the philosophical concept known as "possible worlds". A possible world is not an alternative universe, or another dimension located in physical space. A possible world is a philosophical term for a world that could have existed; that is a logically coherent example of how the world could have been. For example, there is a possible world wherein Hilary Clinton was elected president instead of Barack Obama in 2008. There is a possible world wherein I did not write this article. There is a possible world wherein you stayed up all night last night. A possible world is an example of a logically coherent version of reality.

    In a possible world, an omnipotent and omniscient being exists. But for the being to be omniscient and omnipotent, it would have to be able to affect and know of all possible worlds, including the actual world. Note that being expanded into the actual world is exclusive to the omniscience and omnipotence feature, it would not work on a taco or a unicorn, one could only say that they existed in some possible world, but not in every possible world or the actual world.

    This rebuttal is also not saved by saying that the taco is omnipotent or omniscient. If that were the case, then it would cease to be a taco. We would have to remove everything that makes it a taco, and therefore there just is no such thing as an omnipotent, omniscient taco.

    3 - Isaiah 43:10

    I have seen much cherry-picking on your part in this blog and typically any theologian would tell you that it is a surface misinterpretation. With this particular passage, we do not need a thorough exegesis or Hebrew to make this point. To say "there are no gods before me," does not say that God is finite. That statement could be true if God were eternal.

    This is crank philosophy and theology at best, and at worst it just flat out lies and ignores rebuttals. You plow ahead angrily without any regard to what the opposition says. You are either lying or ignoring points that do not fit into your beliefs and make you uncomfortable (there might be a term for that).

    I am not trying to be offensive. But I am confused about why you never account for any opposing opinion. You think that nobody who disagrees with you has anything of value to say, or at least, you want your audience to think that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies

    1. Ah yes; cherry picking. You say:

      ‘To say "there are no gods before me," does not say that God is finite. That statement could be true if God were eternal.’

      Which is of course true if that is how you wish to interpret it, however the sentence finishes:

      ‘neither shall there be after me.’

      Which completely negates the idea of the speaker being eternal; he (it?) has acknowledged that this is not the case.

      Delete
    2. Why is it that to say "there will be nothing after me," is to say that there will be something after me? In this case it is indicated that X will not come after him. The reason for that being true could be that there is nothing after him. I do not see how that is inconsistent with this statement. You are flatly incorrect.

      Delete
    3. >Does it bother you to lie? Do you feel like the ends justify the means?<

      I bet you wish you didn't need to open your attack with an ad hominem so you could debate like people who really believe what they are pushing, don't you?

      Am I right in thinking that your 'rebuttal' consists of accusing me of not responding to a blog I knew nothing about? And this after accusing me of lying!

      Well, let's look at your 'arguments':

      You 'forgot' to explain why your god 'follows deductively' but that privilege is not to be granted to any other gods, or indeed any other daft notion. Is this merely special pleading on the grounds that your favourite god needs a lower standard than other gods to get by, otherwise it would fail like all the other gods do? If not, what's your justification for granting it this special dispensation? Has it special needs requiring affirmative action, maybe?

      On the subject of Kalam, how did you decide what should be included in the set of things which don't begin to exist, and what was your basis for restricting it only to your god and no other, please? Which natural entities did you consider and how did you eliminate them all? If you did not do this, why should that not be regarded as a dishonest attempt to beg the question by rigging the conditions so that the answer could only be the one you a priori had decided, please?

      On the Ontological Argument, you have 'forgotten' to explain why again your preferred answer gets granted special privileged denied to other entities. Why should this not be seen as another dishonest attempt to rig the conditions so only your a priori conclusion is permitted to emerge? Is this another example of your god requiring a lower standard that other gods, and any possible natural entities in order to succeed?

      And finally we get to the subject of the blog itself:

      I believe your dishonest attempt to explain away the embarrassment of Isaiah 43:10 whilst accusing me of doing the very thing you were caught doing yourself has already been noted by another contributor. Did you think it wouldn't be?

      If you wish to try again, this time without attempting to rig the conditions in favour of your favourite conclusion, and without the give-away ad hominem, you are very welcome.

      And how about this time allowing for the fact that the Bible unambiguously refutes the notion of an eternal god in Isaiah 43:10 in your arguments. I realise it renders ALL your favourite apologetics entirely redundant but that's a problem for you, not for me.

      Alternatively, you could explain why you think God lied to Isaiah or Isaiah lied to us, and then proceed from there.

      Good luck.

      Delete
    4. I was hoping we were going to get a little better than the usual need to redefine the meanings of every-day words to make the Bible say something other than what it clearly says, when what it really says is too embarrassing.

      For a perfect communicator, the author of the Bible seems to need this rather more frequently than one might expect. It's almost as though believers find the Bible as hard to believe as I do.

      Delete
  4. Rosa, an ad hominem fallacy means to attempt to refute a view by attacking the person who holds it. I am simply not doing that, so you are just mistaken when you accuse me of that. I opened in such a manner because it is quite clear that you are often lying or ignoring points.

    1 - Cosmological Argument

    I did not place the argument for how it follows deductively because that was not your objection. Your objection was that it was an arbitrary submission of the Christian God, when that is not the case. That is a point which you did not reply to.

    2 - Ontological Argument

    Again, you intentionally misrepresent the argument. That is precisely why I accuse you of lying. You KNOW how the argument goes, but for the sake of your audience, and to evade objections, you move the goal posts. This is NOT an argument for the Christian God.

    3 - Isaiah 43:10

    I see you just asserted that i was wrong and that I was changing definitions. But if I asked you what definition I changed, you would not be able to answer. Again, that is why I accused you of lying and moving the goal posts.

    I will repeat my objection. Why is it that to say "there will be nothing after me," is to say that there will be something after me? In this case it is indicated that X will not come after him. The reason for that being true could be that there is nothing after him. I do not see how that is inconsistent with this statement. You are flatly incorrect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Attaboy Richard.

      Avoid answering all the questions and go for the diversion. You've been practising, haven't you.

      BTW, for future reference, moving the goalposts doesn't mean asking you a question you can't answer and which exposes the fallacy in your dishonest methodology. I realise you are indulging in religious apologetics and thus feel that any trick which gets the reader to believe in your god is justified, just as a snake-oil salesman thinks anything which get a sale is justified, but that's not the same thing as honesty.

      Third time lucky: would you like another try, this time with added honesty and integrity?

      Delete
  5. Well if you would rather not address anything I said, you obviously do not have to. You might, (as always) for the sake of your audience, want to make it seem as though I am being dishonest rather than actually engage the discussion. But you do understand my answers and you understand the refuted points. It is my hope that you do not continue to ignore them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Still determined to get off the point as quickly as possible rather than address any of the point I put to you, eh?

      Are you under the impression that people haven't seen this standard apologetics tactic before? Hint: the word 'standard' is a clue.

      All the comments are still available, by the way, even if you don't want to look at them.

      Delete
  6. Rosa, why not continue our debate? What are you afraid of?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We never started a debate. When I challenged you to a fair debate in a neutral forum, you panicked and ran away crying, then lost control completely and had to have all your abusive and threatening Twitter accounts taken down. If I recall, your warning is still in effect.

      The record of your abject cowardice can be read here.

      Thousands of people have read it and you are still being mocked daily on Twitter for your spectacular public cowardice.

      Do try to come to terms with reality and with your limitation, Manuel. Subjecting yourself to this daily ritual of humiliation and abuse is never going to change the reason you were expelled from St Joseph Seminary and why the Catholic church has dissociated itself from you.

      If you wish to continue to be humiliated, can I suggest you do it on your blog, which seems to consist of the few people who go there now doing so to laugh at you.

      BTW, can you try to comment on the blog you are replying to in future, please, rather than parasitising my blog when you'r own is getting so few readers?



      Delete

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.

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