Saturday, December 27, 2008

Pitfalls for "Atheists" to Avoid

Take a look at this article by Doug Eaton. I love it when theists (fundamental christians in particular) tell me what I'm like because they obviously know everything about atheists. Doug has compiled this list of 11 things that are bad advice for any atheist to use. According to Doug, the use of any such advice will harm my cause (whatever that is).

1. Assume that because you compare theism to believing in pink unicorns or fairy tales that you have made a good argument.
Doug, first tell me how comparing theism to believing in pink unicorns is a bad argument. How is believing in God is any different than any other belief of supernatural beings?

2. Become hostile and use degrading vulgarities while maintaining that Christianity is an immoral religion.
Nobody has ever given me that advice. Hostility and vulgarities are not good ideas, ever. Christianity isn't necessarily immoral, but I do consider some aspects of certain sects of Christianity immoral. Misogyny, brainwashing (indoctrination), denial of basic freedoms, etc. are immoral to me and I've seen these things in Christianity.

3. When you are having trouble answering an argument posed by a Christian theist, simply say, “well even if this were true, it doesn’t prove the existence of the ‘Christian’ God.”
I think Doug may be talking about certain classical arguments to the existence of God (teleological and cosmological in particular). In this case, the arguments may hint at the existence of a "god thing", but that "god thing" is not necessarily the God of Christianity (or even intelligent). In my opinion, jumping to the conclusion that it must be "God" is not logical at all. How can we know that it is God and not Pellumie the Densest Dot in the Universe of Dense Dots or anything else we can imagine.

4. Assume that simply because you explain a phenomena from a naturalistic perspective that it constitutes an argument which must be true.
I really don't understand what Doug's complaining about. For one thing, I believe that everything probably has a naturalistic explaination. We don't have all the explainations yet, but we are narrowing them down. Simply because I can explain a phenomena from a naturalistic perspective does not mean that the explaination must be true. It simply means to me that it's more likely to be true.

5. When arguing against the Christian God, simply say that you only believe in “one less god” than most people, as if that does not require you to defend an atheistic understanding of cosmology, anthropology, ethics, philosophy of history, philosophy of politics, philosophy of science, and epistemology.
I like that argument. I don't know why you'd have to have an understanding of all that stuff. It's a good point. Me not believing in the existence Yahweh is not any different than my dad not believing in the existence of Odin. My dad doesn't need to understand Norse mythology or to have read the eddas to justify his non-belief in Odin. I don't need to have a complete understand cosmology, anthropology, ethics, or philosophy to justify my non-belief in Yahweh either.

6. Make metaphysical statements that suggest that metaphysics are a useless waste of time.
Metaphysics are a useless waste of time. However, that's only my opinion.

7. Argue that we should only believe things proven by empirical evidence without proving it with empirical evidence.
Huh? Doug, you're losing me. Do I need to prove why I need to prove something before I can prove that I can prove it? Circular reasoning makes my brain sleepy.

8. Use logic like it is a universal, transcendent, unchanging reality when atheistic naturalism cannot account for universal, transcendent, unchanging realities.
Lost me again, Doug. Be careful with that circular reasoning. You could poke someones eye out with it.

9. Argue that there is no evidence to believe in the existence of God because all the evidence that is produced fails to pass the standards of evidence which have been constructed from the belief that God does not exist.
The reasoning just goes round and round! I'm starting to feel a little queezy. For one thing, all the evidence that is produced fails to pass my standards of evidence. My standards of evidence is based mainly on believability.

10. Argue that human beings are robots, puppets, and machines programmed by natural selection in a closed system of cause and effect, and then argue for free thought and moral agency.
Funny that robots, puppets, and machines are all things that require an intelligent designer and none of them are things that evolve through natural selection. You're analogy is flawed, Doug. Also, there's no closed system. The Earth is an open system that gets energy from the Sun. The cause and effect is marred by random mutations caused by radiation from space and the Sun. Also, freethought and morality are human things.

11. Place your ultimate trust in human reason while believing that man’s mind evolved from lower animals such as monkeys and will continue to evolve until we become the monkeys from which the minds of the future will have evolved.
One of the reasons I am an atheist is because I don't have ultimate trust in human reasoning. Remember, it's human reasoning that invented gods in the first place. Also, evolution doesn't necessarily have a goal. Just because we are descended from gradually more sentient beings, doesn't mean that our further evolution will result in more sentient super-humans.

Hat tip to The Non-Prophets.


Laurie said...

What a complete dullard - and a wanker to boot. Must go visit him...

Anonymous said...

Doug will surely read the latest issue of Scientific American on the theory of evolution. The creationist and apologist will have to counter another attack of the radical scientific community thats only purpose is to debunk religion, when religion is not the study of interest in the first place.
Larry Johnson