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Aug 04 2007

The long term consequences of religious misology

For those of you who haven’t kept up with the comments to the previous post, we have a new Christian troll (this one anonymous) who’s boldly carrying on the tradition of lunatic unreason championed by the great Dan Marvin. His argument basically boils down to, “God exists because I say he does, and I have don’t have any burden of proof to meet. If you don’t believe me, it’s your problem.” Tracie and I have been taking him on, she with her usual firm but diplomatic calmness, and me with my usual two-fisted combination of ridicule and icy rebuttal. Another commenter, Lui, has been prompted, after wading through anon’s absurdities, to cry out in despair: “What is this, an episode of Transformers? Do you have ANY idea how stupid [one of anon's moronic arguments] sounds?”

He really and truly doesn’t, Lui. He has not been properly trained in critical thinking, and doesn’t understand the difference between knowledge and belief. Like most fundamentalists (and here and on the TV show I’ve seen this pattern over and over), all of his opinions are shaped by faulty assumptions.

Because he has been raised to believe in the truth of the Bible unquestioningly, he thinks everyone else is obligated to do so in the same way. He cannot comprehend that anyone could legitimately be skeptical of claims made in a holy book compiled nearly 2000 years ago, and which is the product of a primitive, pre-scientific, unenlightened and extremely cruel culture. This is why his only response to skeptics asking for proof is, “I don’t have to show you proof, you just have to believe what I say.” He considers evidence — something any educated person understands is all just a normal part of the process of how we learn about the world we live in — to be an improper and inappropriate demand when it pertains to his religious faith. This is the special pleading fallacy in a nutshell.

Sure, it’s fun to pound on guys like anon, but I’ve found it’s also sadly true that it is profoundly difficult, if not impossible, to get them to understand how powerfully deluded they are, and to accept the educational challenge to overcome it. If anything, that this kind of deeply irrational religious thought is so widespread in our world today is a grim testimony to the failure of our educational system.

Only in a society where anti-intellectualism and ignorance has taken such a firm hold could clowns like Ray Comfort and Ken Ham be taken the least bit seriously by anyone capable of thought. Where but in a society that has openly rejected reality in favor of fantasy could $27 million be raised for a folly as stupefying as the Creation “Museum”? Fundamentalism, and its militant misology (a favorite word of mine — look it up), is likely to have a profoundly damaging impact on our culture in the coming years. I’ve been convinced for a long time America is on the decline towards turning into an intellectual third world country, with Christianity boldly leading the race to the bottom. Guys like Dan Marvin and anonymous merely cement that worry. Unless something is done to improve education and minimize the damage done by faith-based ignorance and institutionalized irrationalism, then very soon we will be as dependent upon other nations for our science, our medicine, everything to do with having a decent quality of life, as we currently are on the Middle East for our oil.

10 comments

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  1. 1
    vjack

    I cannot help but wonder at the motives of any Christian troll who appears on an atheist blog. It seems to me that a troll either hopes to convert the blog owner or readers to his/her delusion or is simply looking to pick a fight. Many Christians visit out of curiosity or a genuine desire to learn something, but they don’t end up being trolls. For the true troll, I’m just not sure there can be other motives besides conversion or fighting.

  2. 2
    NotThatAnon

    I wish Christians (or any other theist believers) would post here and take it seriously. I come to this blog and watch the TV show ever in the hope that a resoanble debate will be found. I find the atheist like Martin, Matt, Tracie, et.al. are indeed reasonable — it is the Christians that always have failed to provide the good facts and reasons to support their extraordinary claims and assertions. I guess the day will have to come, for each person watching that the Christians simply don’t have any good reasons or facts to provide.

  3. 3
    Martin

    I do think anon is taking it seriously, as best he knows how, Otheranon. He just hasn’t got the skills to provide, as you put it, the good facts and reasons to support his extraordinary claims and assertions. Deep down he knows that, I think. So he covers his rear by saying he doesn’t have to, and is naive and foolish enough to think he can get away with it.

  4. 4
    Jacob Wintersmith

    I’ve been convinced for a long time America is on the decline towards turning into an intellectual third world country, with Christianity boldly leading the race to the bottom.Nah. Awful as things may be, they have been getting better, not worse. Then again, if that troll had turned up on my blog, I might have been driven to despair top. Your anon troll is… incredible. I grew up as an Anglican; sure, I eventually decided that my fellow churchgoers were misguided, but none of them were… that… painfully… stupid. It’s not often you see someone reduce their own ideas to aburdity.

  5. 5
    Patrick Quigley

    Aaaaahhh!!! Matt, why did you point me toward that last comment thread?!? My eyes! My brain! My brain is leaking out of my eyes!!!

  6. 6
    Anonymous

    Martin: I am an atheist and evolutionist. Prove to me there is a God.Me: I do not think I can do that, because of your presuppositions.Martin: Why not?Me: Because your presuppositions will not allow you to examine without bias the evidence that I present to you for God’s existence. Martin: That is because there is no evidence for God’s existence.Me: See? There you go. You just confirmed what I was stating.Martin: How so?Me: Your presupposition is that there is no God; therefore, no matter what I might present to you to show His existence, you must interpret it in a manner consistent with your presupposition: namely, that there is no God. If I were to have a video tape of God coming down from heaven, you’d say it was a special effect. If I had a thousand eye-witnesses saying they saw Him, you’d say it was mass-hysteria. If I had Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in the New Testament, you’d say they were forged, dated incorrectly, or not real prophecies. So, I cannot prove anything to you since your presupposition won’t allow it. It is limited.Martin: It is not limited.Me: Yes it is. Your presupposition cannot allow you to rightly determine God’s existence from evidence — providing that there were factual proofs of His existence. Don’t you see? If I DID have incontrovertible proof, your presupposition would force you to interpret the facts consistently with your presupposition and you would not be able to see the proof.Martin: I see your point, but I am open to being persuaded, if you can.Me: Then, I must ask you, what kind of evidence would you accept that would prove God’s existence? I must see what your presuppositions are and work either with them or against them.

  7. 7
    Patrick Quigley

    Ooops. I meant ‘Martin’ not ‘Matt’. You see? Those insane posts have destroyed the brain cells that let me distinguish between AE hosts.

  8. 8
    Martin

    Anon’s little Socratic dialogue is such a deliciously target-rich environment that I’m going to destroy it in its very own post.

  9. 9
    Anonymous

    Oops didn’t give credit for that scenarioSource: http://www.carm.org/apologetics/presuppositional.htm

  10. 10
    Martin

    Well anon, at least you can pat yourself on the back that this is one bad argument that isn’t yours. Still, doesn’t redound to your credit that you actually were silly enough to try to use it here.

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