Saturday, September 13, 2008

Atheist Starter Kit #01

Ray Comfort of banana fame has his own blog called Atheist Central. I now have him in my blogroll to the right. ---->

Don't let the name fool you. He's a fundy through and through. However, I do like him. He has a sense of satire that can be humorous, though he goes overboard sometimes. (Don't we all.) He's actually the one who motivated me to open this blog. I've wanted to write my own blog for awhile, but was never motivated to until I wanted to comment on Ray's blog. He allows only blogger members to comment. Well, I really wanted to comment, so I opened a blogger account. Now I have my own blog. Thank you Ray!

On his blog, on the righthand panel, he has an essay called The Atheist Starter Kit. Here's his introduction.
If you are a beginner atheist, there's a belief system you should embrace and a language you should learn, or you will find yourself in trouble. Here are ten suggestions for the novice:

I'm going to go through each of the ten suggestions in order. Today we'll look at number one.
1. Whenever you are presented with credible evidence for God's existence, call it a "straw man argument," or "circular reasoning." If something is quoted from somewhere, label it "quote mining."

First, I have yet to be presented with credible evidence according to my standard of quality. I have been given genuine straw man arguments as proof of God. Usually, the christians will try to debunk evolution, thinking that belief in evolution is the reason for my atheism. It is not. Evolution is an easier idea to refute than the lack of evidence of God's existence and my mistrust of biblical scripture (the real reasons I'm an atheist). So, they attack something I know little about, instead of answering my questions about the bible.

Secondly, circular reasoning is abundant in christian theology. The thought behind bible inerrency is circular reasoning.
Anything the bible says is 100% true, because it says that everything it says is 100% true.
I could write a book that says it's 100% true, but that doesn't mean that it is.

Thirdly, Ray himself is a great quote miner. He just recently wrote a post where he suggests that Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) may have recanted in his later years. He uses a quote from Twain to prove his statement. However, the evidence from most of Twain's writing suggests that Twain actually became more anti-religious as he got older.

To close, I'll say this. If you can give me some actual credible evidence for the existence of God, I wouldn't be calling it quote mining, circular reasoning, or strawmen. I'd call it credible evidence. Also, I wish proselytizers would just give me evidence instead of trying to argue. I've heard all the arguments. Just because you are the one arguing doesn't mean I'd believe you over that last guy that gave me that argument. Also, Ray is painting all atheists with the same brush. That's a silly thing to do, because unlike christians, atheists have no doctrinal statements to adhere to.


Bart said...

Whenever you are presented with credible evidence for God's existence, call it a "straw man argument," or "circular reasoning." If something is quoted from somewhere, label it "quote mining."

Classic propaganda. As if Ray predicting that people will call him on his logical fallacies somehow makes them not fallacies. Any reasonable person would explore their reasoning to see if their argument really is fallacious and, if necessary, revise their views. Not Ray though. He uses to confirm his prejudices and the prejudices of those who believe what he says.

The funny thing is that he has mined quote right on his front page. The classic Einstein quote:

"In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views."

Again it is sad how misinformed Ray is, because Einstein rejected the very personal god that Ray espouses. Some other quotes

"The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish... . For me the Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most childish superstitions. And the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people."

"It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly."

But Ray uses one quote to give an impression of Einstein's views which is just fundamentally and intentionally misleading. Lets try the same thing by selecting a quote from Ray's blog:

"It’s now the morning after the hurricane and those that survived are begging for help. They were warned again and again. How could they have been so stupid--to risk their very lives? Hang on. I get it. Now it makes sense. They didn’t believe in hurricanes. Duh.

Based on the above quote, I will use Ray's logic. He thinks the victims of the Hurricane were stupid and did not believe in hurricanes.

You hit the "circular reasoning" nail on the head.

And I don't think anybody really needs to discuss Ray's famous straw man arguments. Just read or watch anything any argument Ray has ever made about evolution, a topic which he has demonstrated time and again that he has absolutely no understanding of.

Robert Madewell said...

Thanks Bart. I had a run in with circular reasoning today. At work, a christian friend of mine told me that he talked to his pastor about me. He told his pastor that I was an atheist that had read the entire bible and asked him why I didn't agree with christians after reading a book as holy as the bible. The pastor told him that I didn't understand the bible because I wasn't saved. Yet, in his sermon, he told his congregation that to gain a better understanding of God, you must read your bible. So to get closer to God you must read your bible, but to be able to understand it you must be close to God already.

There is also a tract I have that says something very similar. It says first that only born again believers understand the bible. Then later in the book it says that the bible tells us how to be born again. So, to find out how to be saved you must be saved already.