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Wednesday, December 12, 2012


One complaint I've often seen from Christians is that atheists--particularly the so-called "New Atheists"--are rude, disrespectful, and stereotype Christians. Supposedly, a lot of atheists would rather flame you than argue with you, and are inconsistent with their self-proclaimed intellectualism by resorting to insults and smears instead of logic. Let's look at this.

First off, it needs to be said that most Christians don't know how to argue. This itself stems from a basic inability to reason. Here's a secret; do you want to know the foundation of all civilized conversation? Context. Simple context. When someone makes a point, it is logical and mature to address that point. This is how scientists, engineers, doctors, historians, martial artists and other experts converse with each other over ideas. However, when you fail to address that point and either A), make something up that your colleague/opponent did not say, and claim that they said it, or B), take something they did say out of context--i.e., "I accept evolution," "Well, accepting evolution makes you racist, because Darwin was racist"--you have failed the debate and conceded defeat. Why? Because both of the aforementioned tactics are illogical, immature, and worse, dishonest. If you can't be honest, then there's no point in talking to you, because you won't admit that you're wrong, regardless of what the other person says. This stupid, immature, and dishonest behavior is known by many names, but "faith" is the most common one. Here's an example of Christian "reasoning" at work. Below is the exchange between an atheist and a Christian in the comments section of a video covering C.S. Lewis' arguments on free will and determinism.

[cidvisions]The Judeo-Christian god is self refuting. Any being which is omniscient and omnipotent could conceive of and create a universe where free will existed and evil did not. If you say that god was required to include evil in this universe then you are saying that he is not all powerful or not smart enough to figure out a way to make it that did not require it. Just because you can't conceive of a way to do it doesn't mean an omniscient being couldn't.

[elunico13]How do you say anything is evil without the Christian God?
Is the extortion of money from parents through the torture of their child evil???
My answer is yes, because all 3 are made in the image of their creator.
Try to justify that without God. You'll only be able to make shallow sense of it.

 Evil without god is easy. That is just the reality of a deterministic universe. The fact remains that the christian god is supposed to be smart enough and powerful enough to create a universe which has free will but contains no evil. If he did not do this then he wanted evil to be in the universe. Nothing can enter the universe without his knowledge and approval. If he let evil in then he is malevolent.

If the universe was deterministic then you couldn't argue against evil nor know what it is. When you compare determinism with other theories and choose your favorite, you're being inconsistent with determinism.
If you assume the reality of evil, then you have to assume the biblical God exists.
Take the fact of evil away and you don't have an argument at all.
The extortion of money from parents through the torture of their child must have your approval then.

 You forget that the form of the universe is arbitrary in the eyes of the designer. Pain and suffering are only required in a universe with physical matter. Your god could simply change the laws of physics so that we would be beings of pure energy. Sure I would miss beer and BJs but I would give all that up if it meant no woman or child was ever raped again. To assuage your semantics issues I will define evil as unnecessary suffering of the innocent for this discussion.

As a determinist you have to acknowledge that rape is just the way things are. It has your approval because, in your own words,
//"That is just the reality of a deterministic universe"//
If children are tortured, it has your approval also.
"it's just the reality of a deterministic universe".
Pain and suffering..
"it's just the reality of a deterministic universe".
It all has cidvisions approval.
Let's be consistent, right?


 A classic example of the straw-man attack. Instead of addressing what your opponent said, go off-topic and accuse him of endorsing immoral behavior, thus conveniently allowing you to slip away from addressing his arguments. Dishonest, illogical, and cowardly, and many Christians do this sort of thing every day. Of course, it's far more prevalent amongst evangelical/fundamentalist types than others, and some Christians are thankfully more intelligent than this. And of course, how mature is it to goad people into becoming angry, and then trying to use that anger against them, i.e., "you obviously hate God, hur durr", despite the fact that it is patently impossible to hate something that you don't believe exists? Not at all.

And the straw-men/Ad Hominems don't stop there. What about the propaganda Christians have been printing and disseminating about atheists and other non-Christians for centuries? Most students of history have heard of the "blood Libel". In the Middle Ages, this was a racial stereotype of Jews that maintained they kidnapped and murdered Gentile babies, so that they could use their blood to bake their unleavened bread for Passover. This itself is just rehashed propaganda that conservative Romans flung at the early Christians in Rome (the Communion sacraments, where the bread becomes Christ's body, and the communal wine becomes his blood, was misinterpreted either deliberately or accidentally by pagans). So, here is the question; why would the Saved, the Elect, the Chosen Ones, the children of God, those imbued with the Holy Spirit, degrade themselves and besmirch their God's good name by telling lies about people who didn't share their convictions? For centuries? And more importantly, why would they persist in slandering non-Christians well into the modern era?

Modern propaganda against atheists, just to cite one example since I myself am an atheist, and it would take a whole volume or more to cover the various slanders against non-Christian religions, consists of several cheap attacks. The most common is to conflate atheists with Communists, particularly the violent Soviet variety who tortured and murdered millions of people in their countries. Example; "If these secularists ever get control, we'll see what atheists are really like--just look at atheists like Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot". Here's the issue; Communism is an ideology, and a philosophy, with it's own ethics and doctrines regarding everything from religion, the economy, the role of the state, justice, banking, commerce, foreign policy, domestic policy, education, science, and pretty much everything else. Atheism is a rejection of belief in/disbelief in gods. No more, no less. Communism incorporates atheism as it's stance on religion, but unlike atheism, which is essentially a freethinker's conclusion like agnosticism or deism, Communism leaves no room for questioning. In every country it's been incorporated in, Communism has overthrown deities and replaced them/him/her with a new god; the State, which reigns supreme and is above question. Basically, it's a secular fundamentalist cult, replacing the mindless routine of traditional religion with the equally mindless routine of obeying the State in every matter without thought or question. And let's not forget the fact that some Communist leaders like Kim Jong Il have actually set themselves up as gods, including myths attributing supernatural powers to them. In these cases, it's not even the State that is worshiped, but the leader themselves. And to top it off, not a single one of these communist leaders killed people in the name of atheism. Not once. Instead, they killed people in the name of "progress", or "justice". The point; regardless of what hacks like Jack Chick or John Hagee say, communism=/=atheism.

And of course, there are others, many others. Like circular logic. If I were to say that God doesn't exist because an atheist book I read said so, would that be a logical statement? No. Why? Because it's an appeal to authority fallacy and an example of circular logic. So, what justifies saying the bible is true because it says it's true? Like saying that Adam and Eve were real or the Great Flood really happened because they're in the bible? One stupid and immature thing Christians frequently do that pisses off atheists is when they claim that atheists are fools, and then try to "prove" this by quoting Psalms 14;1, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God". If that isn't circular logic--i.e., bullshit--then what is? Needless to say, if I were ever to start my own cult, whether as a way to stroke a God Complex or simply to fuck the I.R.S., the first thing I'd write into my "scripture" would be a nice little Ad Hominem depicting everyone who disagrees with my claims as corrupt, stupid, and evil. It's not like anyone with an I.Q. over the single digits would ever fall for such a blatant trick, right?

Then there's historical revision. This one pisses me off as much as creationism does, because it's goal is the same; to lie, twist facts, cherry-pick data, and try to brainwash people into buying this disinformation and spreading it further afield in order to advance an agenda. Case in point; Christianity is responsible for laying the foundations of modern science, and for all of the great achievements of Western Civilization. In truth, this claim is so obviously biased and myopic that only the most hopelessly ignorant could ever accept it. The foundations of science can be summed up as critical thought, skepticism, experimentation; the method through which scientists test the merits of an idea by holding it to rigorous and thorough standards of proof. This method was NOT pioneered by Christians, but by the ancient Greeks like Archimedes, Pythagoras, and Hippocates, the father of medicine. To see some fascinating examples of Greek science, click here. And it wasn't just the scientific method or medicine that we owe to the Greeks; we also owe them democracy, which they formalized before anyone else (that we know of), and the great tradition of poetry and literature, like the Epics. And let us not forget architecture, which in later centuries would improved upon by the Romans, and then the Christians to build magnificent castles and cathedrals. Did Christians develop and contribute to these things? Yes. But they did not invent them. In fact, there was a very long period, the Dark Ages, where they made very little progress in these areas at all thanks to the theocratic stranglehold of the Church over every facet of society, not so different from modern totalitarianism. In fact, if not for the efforts of the Arabs and Moors who kept Greek works alive in Islamic culture, Western Civilization may have never recovered from the Christian Dark Ages. After all, the Renaissance was essentially just a re-discovery of ideas set forth by the Greeks, preserved and improved in the Arab world, and brought back to Europe by returning Crusaders.

 The point of this post is thus; the reason atheists (and many other non-Christians) don't respect Christians is because they don't deserve it. Sure, not all of you do this. Some Christians leave immature logical fallacies, historical revisionism, science denial, and name-calling to their fundamentalist counterparts. But enough of you do participate in and encourage this type of behavior that it's given your whole religion a bad name amongst other people. Respect is earned, not given. Some Christians I've argued with have at least some degree of my respect, because they don't try to insult me or smear me, and they are usually honest enough to admit when they don't know how to refute a point; but the majority I've argued with are the complete opposite. When you stop lying though your teeth and start arguing at least on a high school level and not well below it, you'll have some respect. Until then, grow up.