The Great Chain

The Great Chain

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Evidence For God SHOULD Be Overwhelming. Irrefutable. So Why Is It That The Best Believers Can Come Up With Boils Down To Special Pleading and Arguments From Ignorance?


In responding to Bill O'Reilly's recent expression of ignorance over how the tides are formed, comedian Stephen Colbert remarked "There must be a God because I don't know how things work."  This pretty much summarizes not only O'Reilly's religious ignorance, but that of MANY believers.  Because whenever we ask believers to provide proof for their fantastical belief that there is an invisible sky man who holds the Universe together, intervenes in our affairs, answers our prayers, smites our enemies and bestows knowledge upon us via revelation, they ALWAYS punt, retreating into vague mutterings and hand waving to explain away the very simple fact that they do not have any evidence.

The simple fact is that if there really WAS an invisible supernatural entity intervening in our daily lives, answering our prayers, smiting His enemies and revealing knowledge to us, the evidence would be literally EVERYWHERE.  The evidence would be overwhelming.  Instead, we have... ... ... ... silence.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Do Theists Have Any Idea How Many Freebies We Give Them?

We are constantly accused of being angry and militant and mean and harsh and all manner of nastiness.  But looking at our debates, looking at the methods we employ to argue with theists, looking at the ground we regularly concede to even engage with theists, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that if anything we are too generous to theists.

Do theists have any idea how many freebies we give them?  How many assumptions we grant them?  How far we go in assuming their points arguendo?  Do they realize how nice we are being?

We regularly grant them the assumption that some manner of god exists and then proceed to dismantle theism from there.

We regularly grant them the assumption that their specific god exists and then proceed to dismantle theism from there.

We regularly grant them the assumption that their preferred sacred text is true and then dismantle its internal structure, logical consistency and factual accuracy from there.

We grant theists every possible courtesy and every possible point of argumentation and still have no trouble dismantling their theology and somehow WE are the assholes?  Damn logic and those pesky facts and their atheistic bias.

One would think that theists would recognize this generosity, would recognize our charity in going along with their assumptions for the sake of argument and would occasionally reciprocate.

But there is no reciprocity.  Ever.  In fact, unless we tacitly accept many of their assumptions at the outset, many theists simply will not or can not engage at all.

Perhaps there is simply no way around this.  Perhaps this is because as soon as theists allow themselves to make atheist assumptions, the shield of faith and the sword of the spirit are no longer viable defense mechanisms and they find themselves utterly defenseless.

Do we make these assumptions because as soon as they start making our assumptions we win?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cutting The Universe Down To Size

One of the fundamental assumptions of every theistic worldview is the assumption that God is aware of and cares for the human species, human civilization, human morality, ethics, behavior, etc.  Obviously, if God was not aware of or was uninterested in our affairs, it would not have taken the time to regale our ancestors with stories, perform miracles, answer prayers or otherwise intervene in our affairs, let alone sacrifice itself to atone for our allegedly naughty behavior.

The obvious corollary to this assumption is the notion that our species and our planet is somehow important.  That we are relevant.  That we matter.

This assumption falls to pieces when we consider the true size and scope of the Universe and consider our place within it.

Imagine that the entirety of the observable Universe, every planet, every star, every black hole, every galaxy, every gas cloud, everything that humanity has ever or will ever see, were reduced to the size of a 1,000 square foot apartment.  Your apartment.  You own it.  You built it.  You furnished it.  You are far and away the most intelligent, powerful and capable being in that Universe.  For all intents and purposes, you would be God.  Congratulations, you are God of your apartment.
Now imagine that our galaxy, the Milky Way, is somewhere in that Universe.  What kind of object do you suppose would be roughly the same size?  Posing this question to theists generates a wide array of answers.  Some assume that our galaxy would be the size of the couch.  Others guess the size of a television.  Others guess something the size of a lamp.  None have guessed anything smaller than a coaster.
None of them are even close to the reality.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Religion vs. Conspiracy Theory

What is the difference between religion and a conspiracy theory?  Let's find out!

Does the belief system attribute historical events to the machinations of a mastermind with seemingly limitless power, cunning and ability?

Does the belief system exhibit a chronic lack of conclusive or dispositive evidence?

Does the belief system explain away contradictory evidence by claiming that the contradictory evidence was planted by the mastermind to mislead or fabricated by enemies of the belief system?

Does the belief system exhibit disdain for rational criticism?

Is the belief system non-falsifiable?

Is there any evidence of lack thereof that could alter belief in the machinations of the mastermind?

Does the belief system offer a more complicated and evidence free explanation of a process or event that can be explained with the use of logic and evidence?

Does the belief system regularly utilize special pleading, appeals to authority, bare assertions, arguments from ignorance, argumentum ad populum and other logical fallacies to support its arguments?

Do critics of the belief system describe it as outlandish, ridiculous and irrational?

Actually... Now that I look at it, the two are indistinguishable.  Never mind, move along.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It is so Good to be Godless

It is the start of a new year and once again I am glad to be godless.

When theists rail against atheism, they often speak in apocalyptic terms, as if we represent some kind of shambling zombie horde, just itching to burn churches, put believers in camps, devour brains, and of course, eat babies.  It is almost as if they actually believe that atheism somehow strips the world of beauty, of meaning, of purpose, of wonderment.  To that, I can only shake my head.

It is good to be godless.

Far from stripping the world of wonderment, I have found the world and our Universe to be a far more magnificent, magical, awe inspiring place once I let go of the illusion of god.

I am humbled in the face of the Universe.  I feel reverence and awe when I look up at the cosmos.  I feel inspired by the magnificent and abundant beauty that has arisen all around us.  And that feeling of reverence is only compounded by the realization that there is no plan, no design, no authorship.  Those moments of randomness where a chance glance outward captures the rays of the setting sun perfectly echoed in the clouds.  Or a single wind warped tree clinging to the side of a cliff.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Intolerable Arrogance of Theistic Worldviews

Almost nothing illustrates the psychological phenomenon known as projection more vividly that the ubiquitous theistic pronouncement that atheists are arrogant.

In theory, atheists are arrogant because they have the temerity to suggest that revealed knowledge is less reliable than knowledge earned through observation, calculation, measurement and experimentation.  The temerity to suggest that perhaps ancient collections of mythology and folklore may not be the most efficacious method by which to seek understanding about the Universe, the origins of life and the human condition.

In practice, however, theists proclaim that atheists are arrogant to conceal the mind blowing narcissism, arrogance, egocentrism and maddening anthropocentrism that lies at the heart of their cherished mythology.  Theists proclaim the arrogance of atheists not because of the substance of our arguments, but because of the simple fact of our existence, because ad homenim attacks are the only way they can deal with the fact that the entire Universe makes a mockery of their own arrogant certitude.  It is projection made manifest.

To illustrate, let's examine a few comparative statements of belief and see which exhibits greater arrogance.

Theist - I KNOW God Exists.
Atheist - I do not believe that God exists but do not believe that it can be definitively proven either way.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Dumb Theistic Argument of the Week

double face palmIn response to my contention that the law Yahweh provided was ludicrously inadequate and was in fact highly immoral, Anonymous responded thus:

"God provides laws regulating everything when no laws existed, do you get the point? No laws were there which could say that one action was better than another. Making laws established parity for the behavior of the people he was going to send many more prophets to. This is an example of God teaching men proper behavior piece by piece, not suggesting slavery is not objectively immoral, but that humanity had to be brought to a point where they could accept and live with the knowledge that it was so."

This statement is mind bogglingly ignorant and counterfactual on almost every single level.

1.  "God provides laws regulating everything when no laws existed, do you get the point?"  Apparently I don't get the point...  As a threshold matter, let's dispense with the ludicrous contention that no laws existed.  The Mosaic Law was developed somewhere between 700 and 800 BCE.  In contrast, the Code of Ur-Nammu was codified somewhere around 2050 BCE, the Laws of Eshunna somewhere around 1930 BCE, Codex of Lipit Ishtar somewhere around 1870 BCE, the Code of Hammurabi somewhere around 1750 BCE.  This does not even include other codes of laws extant in the Far East.  In other words, far from the Mosaic Law simply coming into being 'when no laws existed,' the Mosaic Law was actually merely a restatement of codified legal codes that had been in existence throughout the Middle East for over a thousand years.  Indeed, much of Mosaic Law was copied directly from the Code of Hammurabi.