New rule: Integrity and honesty required »« The long term consequences of religious misology

If you’re going to try a Socratic dialogue, make sure you know what you’re doing

Anontroll is up to his usual tricks in this comment thread. His latest attempt to refute me takes the form of one of the most creative straw man arguments I’ve seen here: a faux Socratic dialogue which amounts to the usual dishonest Christian apologist’s stunt of “I will simply tell my opponent what his position is by putting words in his mouth, which will let me flatter myself that I have defeated him.” Too bad it doesn’t work in the real world.

Update: Anon has admitted something I suspected (after all, the spelling and grammar were all better than usual), that he didn’t write this dialogue, but ganked it from here and just plugged our names in (or rather my name, since he still lacks the courage of his convictions to use his own). I have emailed CARM to appraise them of my refutation of their dialogue.

Allow me to construct a dialogue now that actually reflects the way our conversation has gone up to this point. Rather than making up bullshit lines in the interests of pumping myself up (you know, like anon), my exchange will consist solely of things actually said by anon and myself. Among other inaccuracies that my version will correct is that anonymous started this exchange.

I think you will find the reality of the dialogue is a little bit different than anon’s fanciful reconstruction of it. Among other things, you will notice that anon is now attempting to portray his position as being that he’s got gobs of proof, but no matter what proof he offers, I will not accept it. It’s the old “skeptics are closed-minded” dodge. In reality, his actual position on proof is that he has no burden of proof in the first place. So yeah, it’s easy for Christians to manufacture these little dialogues when they’re only too happy to lie about both the atheist’s position as well as their own.

Finally, I will, at the end, repost his original dialogue, but insert the things I would actually say rather than what he thinks I’d say. I’m sorry I’m not able to be as stupid and compliant as I’d have to be to make anon’s script work for him. As many religionists have learned to their dismay, reality doesn’t often conform to your pious, self-flattering fantasies.

So here we go.


Anon: Let me ask this: Why are you depending on man to help your salvation… Remember if you go to man to show you God you will be disappointed forever. Hope this helps you find God, if any of you are truly searching for him.

Martin: You have failed to understand one very rudimentary point: we don’t believe your God exists. We do not think there is adequate evidence to support claims of your God’s existence. …I am willing to be persuaded…by evidence.

Anon: Says who? You? you claim fallacy but who said I have to prove anything to you at all? IN a debate maybe but not real life.

Martin: Then do not be surprised if, from here on out, I decline to take seriously anything you say. Not only that, but why should anybody believe anything you say or consider you a trustworthy person in any way, shape or form?

Anon: If I tell you that you may go to hell for your stubbornness and resistance to His authority and you say prove it in defiance (I will try my best at first) in the end I will just say nope. It truly is up to God to reveal himself to you.

Martin: Again, you are essentially throwing any vestige of credibility you could ever have on any subject out the window…. You turn up here, make claims about your God, and collapse like a cake in the oven upon my very first request for evidence, all on the preposterous basis that you think you can waltz through life never having to account for anything you say. You have no conviction, no sincerity, no honesty, no integrity. You want to tell us we’re wrong for being unbelievers, but you not only fail but flatly decline to give us reasons to think you’re right. …Here’s the deal, anon. Nobody is obligated to believe as you do. I never cease to be amazed by the inability of Christians like yourself to grasp this very basic point.

Anon: Just not believing or what anyone says about God doesn’t work as an excuse and besides all of creation itself is the “ID” of God…. Then you go off in an angry rage about my credibility and such but here was what I was getting at. You are in denial… Take care Martin I still love you enough to tell you your wrong there is God even if He will not allow scientific evidence. But if you want evidence of God’s footprint there is all sorts of that.

Martin: More unsubstantiated claims from a guy who says he doesn’t have to substantiate his claims. Why should I take this seriously? Either present evidence that your God exists, and that all creation is its “ID,” or I will continue to refrain from believing you with complete justification. Once more with feeling: If you want me to believe your claims, you must back them up with evidence. I am under no obligation to believe what you say just because you say it.

Anon: No matter what you believe God is responsible for the outcome, be it repentance or hardening. I pray in your case it is repentance.


And so on… You know, anon just doesn’t seem as level-headed, sensible and brilliant when you read extracts from the actual dialogue we’ve been having, as opposed to the alternate-reality dialogue he’s just made up, does he?

Now, here is my rewrite of the fake dialogue. Note that at no time do I alter any of anon’s own dialogue that he attributes to himself. I do not have to distort or (as he’s done to me here) completely invent statements for him in order to refute him. Though I guess it can be argued that, since the whole thing was a cutpaste from CARM, anon’s already faking his own lines anyway.

Martin: I do not believe in the existence of God. However, I am willing to be persuaded by evidence. Surely, as a devout Christian, you could come up with evidence I would find compelling.

Anon: I do not think I can do that, because of your presuppositions.

Martin: What presuppositions are these? All I have claimed is that I don’t believe in your God, for the very excellent reason that there is insufficient evidence to convince me. What’s more, I know a thing or two about the history of civilization, and I know that there have been thousands of gods worshiped by thousands of religions over the centuries, in addition to the fact that your own religion, Christianity, borrowed many of its legends (like the global flood) and core beliefs (like the notion of a savior born of a virgin and then sacrificed and resurrected) directly from some of these other religions. So, placing your religion in the context of human history further gives me no reason to suppose its supernatural claims are any more valid than any other. Yes, I strive to be open-minded, but I ad
mit things don’t look good for Christianity at this point.

Anon: See? There you go. You just confirmed what I was stating.

Martin: Anon, I cannot help it if you are bothered by the fact that I am willing to state plainly my opinion that your beliefs are irrational and intellectually insupportable. I can understand how that might offend you, but your feelings and my own are irrelevant to the issue at hand, which is: I do not believe in the existence of a deity, and you do. You may be right and I may be wrong. But as the maxim states, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I never said you would have an easy time of it, but I repeat it is not impossible for you to convince me I am wrong.

Anon: 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.

Martin: Don’t be ridiculous. Whyever would I do this? You could also say that I have a presupposition that there are no fire-breathing dragons. But if you showed me a real-live fire-breathing dragon, why would I “interpret it in a manner consistent with your presupposition,” that there are no fire-breathing dragons. You are basically trying to claim that I am lying to you when I say I would be persuaded by evidence, and that I am the sort of person who would deny the evidence of my own eyes. But I have not given you any indication I would do this, and you are simply trying to prejudice the discussion in your favor by claiming that I would. All you’re doing here is a little rhetorical stunt that allows you to avoid meeting your burden of proof for your God claims by stating that the atheist would reject any evidence out of hand no matter what you did. You hope people will not notice you’re doing this, and will instead think you’re being the reasonable one here and I am not, by virtue of some little rhetorical sleight of hand on your part that presumably makes your burden of proof vanish in a puff of smoke. This kind of thing may fly on a fundie forum, but I think the folks here are a little sharper than you think.

Anon: 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: Actually, if those three examples are representative of the evidence you would be inclined to give me, then I’m afraid what is limited is your evidence. Setting aside what you have said to me in an earlier exchange, that your God does not allow scientific evidence of his existence in the first place (though you gave no reason for this), then if these examples are the best you’ve got, you’re right: I would not be impressed. I would have to consider the option that video footage of God could be special effects, because I know what can be done with special effects these days. I would have to consider mass hysteria in the case of thousands of people who claim to be eyewitnesses, because I know that, especially where religious beliefs are concerned, mass hysteria is a very easy thing to make happen. Jim Jones got 900 followers to drink cyanide. Intense religious belief is not the sort of thing that attracts the most well-educated and rational people in a given culture to begin with, and religious services, especially these huge revivals in third-world countries that attract hundreds of thousands of people, are really big on whipping people up into an emotional frenzy in which all higher thinking functions are basically disconnected like a bad hard drive. Finally, you’re right, I would not take prophecy-fulfillment claims all that seriously, for more or less exactly the reasons you said. Indeed, I would list prophecies as a prime example of that which you accuse me of: seeing the world through a set of rigid presuppositions. Interpreting current events in such a way as to seem to fit ancient prophecies is something of a cottage industry in religion. Guys like Hal Lindsay have made a career of it. In his book The Late, Great Planet Earth, Lindsay argued that Biblical prophecy predicted the USSR would invade Israel. His book became one of the biggest selling titles of the 1970′s. Of course, he got everything wrong, but he’s still out there working the prophecy angle.

Are you really saying that these three examples of evidences for God’s existence are all you’ve got? Or are they simply the best you’ve got? If either, then I don’t think you have a good case. And this isn’t due to any “presuppositions” on my part “limiting” my understanding. It’s simply due to the poor quality of your evidence. No scientist would expect to get a paper through the peer review process on such feeble evidentiary support, so why be surprised when I say that no, video footage, thousands of hysterics, or ancient prophecies easily shoehorned into current events don’t impress me much. This is an omnipotent being whose existence you’re arguing for! You truly cannot do better than this? And what about your earlier exhortation not to rely on man, but go to God directly? If that’s the case, what’s wrong with giving me my own “road to Damascus” experience. Saul of Tarsus was not merely a non-believer, he was an active persecutor of Christians. If he can have an incontrovertible conversion event given to him by God directly, why not a little guy like me, who’s never persecuted a soul, and has only said, “I don’t believe”?

Anon: 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: Again, this is just pure nonsense. You’re just projecting the inflexible, dogmatic irrationalism of a religious fundamentalist onto me. If you and I were talking, and I stated a belief that there were no apples within 200 miles from me at this exact moment, and you pulled an apple out of your pocket, I would not, as you insist, shut my eyes and start singing “Mary had a little lamb” in a very loud voice. What I would say is, “Well, fancy that, an apple. Guess I was wrong.” Your insistence that I simply won’t accept any evidence you give me is, as stated before, just a dishonest rhetorical dodge to help you weasel out of your burden of proof. But you give the game away with this one little phrase: “– providing that there were factual proofs of His existence.” This would seem to indicate that, deep down inside where you might actually have trace amounts of honesty that your faith hasn’t rooted out and gunned down, you know that you in fact have no “factual proofs” to support your God claims. You think that accusing the atheist of intractible closed-mindedness will be enough to divert people’s attention away from this fact. But I think you’ll be disappointed.

Anon: 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.

Martin: And I’ve told you, a “road to Damascus” experience would do fine. I’ll give you another. If your God is all-powerful, he could make me omniscient. That would certainly eliminate all doubt. But he needn’t go that far. Again, he’s your God. If he’s all knowing and all seeing and almighty and all powerful, I’m sure he can think of something sufficient to blow away the doubt of a mere, fallible mortal like me.

Comments

  1. tracieh says

    I posted this in the earlier strand that it belonged on, but since the conversation with Anon has moved, I wanted to post here as well, to keep the reply current (I also responded to your first statement at this blog, so at least that part is directly relevant, as opposed to indirectly):Martin wrote: “Among other things, you will notice that anon is now attempting to portray his position as being that he’s got gobs of proof, but no matter what proof he offers, I will not accept it.”Apologists do this frequently. On yesterday’s show, someone called to ask why I don’t believe god doesn’t exist. I held up a coffee mug and said something along these lines, “Here is my coffee mug, it exists. Existence means manifestation, God does not appear to manifest.” He said, “Oh, so you don’t believe in god, because you can’t see him!” I said, “No, I can’t see electrons, but we can see them manifest in experiments where they are shot through metal walls.” It’s the same, really, with things like sound. I don’t “see” sound, but it manifests to me audibly. I don’t “see” wind, but it manifest to me in a tactile fashion. They all still manifest, though, in consensus, objective, examinable reality. God does not manifest in any way that we can examine in objective, consensus reality. Weirdly—everything else that we define as “existing” seems to have no trouble meeting that criteria. If I had told the caller that Harvey the invisible rabbit was sitting between Matt and me, I have little doubt he’d doubt me because Harvey doesn’t manifest in objective, consensus reality—and we can’t examine Harvey. He’d called me delusional. And yet, I should believe in things I can’t examine, or I’m closed minded. I believe MANY things exist, down to minute germs—because they manifest in the way I’ve described above. If god can’t manifest so much as a germ—in objective, consensus, examinable reality…then what are we really saying when we say “god exists”? It seems we mean nothing like what we mean when we say anything else in the universe exists. It seems god exists in the same exact way that “nothing” exists—however, we’re not supposed to say god is “nothing.” And that’s not logical.Anon wrote: “It disturbs me that you said ‘Anything you can tell me about your god is a mere human claim. And anything you have accepted about god comes from a mere human claim (either your own claims or someone else’s).’“So if not humans where do you get any information from? I know you hate Bible verses but it applies to the credibility of eye witnesses that saw what happend. 1 Corinthians 15:1-9”I don’t hate Bible versus, but you tell me not to rely on people, then you turn right around and direct me to Paul. I asked where you get your info if not humans, and you quote Paul. And in the height of irony, Paul ends up referring me to still more people, claiming that hundreds of people are making claims about Jesus/god.If this is where you’re getting your info, those are people.Not only that, but there are even more people, who are living today, who testify to being abducted by alien visitors from other planets. Are you so accepting of those eyewitnesses? Why would I reject first-hand eye witness claims of alien abductees, but accept Paul’s heresay claims of zombie gods?I went to the “proof god exists.” It first defined absolute truth as the following (paraphrasing their implication):Facts are statements that can be true or false. If I make a claim of fact, “My chair wobbles,” it is either true or false. The site defines “absolute truth” by presenting statements of fact. In that way, I agree some things can be as true as we know how to verify.It asked me if laws of logic exist, but laws of logic do not always coincide with reality. Example: Fairies do not exist is a practical reality; however, logically speaking, such a statement on the existence of fairies can be made—depending on how we define fairies (if we say they are magical and can only be seen when the decide, for example).They make a further error in their statement that “absolute moral laws exist.” They test this by asking my personal opinion on certain moral dilemmas. My opinion on what is right doesn’t constitute a moral law—as they are defining it. In fact, they seem to be confusing morals with mores/laws—rules as applied to societies rather than to individuals. If I think it’s wrong to eat meat—does that become moral law for anyone else? Of course not.They gave the following choice:“Molesting children for fun is absolutely morally wrong.” This is incorrect, because my opinion is not a statement of any sort of “absolute” morality. I do not consider it right—but that’s my morality. There are definitely others who disagree with my opinion on this. We see them in the news daily. The other choice at the site was “Molesting children for fun could be right.” Since I know many people—specifically those who molest children—consider it OK to do, I know that there are people who think it’s “right.” To these people, then, the action is “right” and “moral”—so it is “right” to these people. However, this is very different than me saying that I think it’s right for them to do it. I’m willing to enact laws to stop them, because I think it’s disharmonious to society, and I live in that society along with many other vested people who will back me up enough to make this action illegal.The site asks: “If man is the measure of all things – which man? – which society? If someone with enough power happened to like rape and molestation, what right would we have to impose our morality on him?” What would be wrong with the person, or society, with the power imposing their morality on you?This is easy. Each society has it’s own laws. We see this in reality. People work these things out in their social groups, just as other social animals do—like dogs or wolves or other primates. We see animals, including people, do this all the time. Mores/laws are flexible, they are sometimes enacted or repealed. Society takes this responsibility. So, I’m confused by the question. It appears that one would have to be totally divorced from reality to even ask such a thing? Can’t they observe what happens around them in reality?And I don’t oppose these people “morally”—I oppose them legally. So, I’m confused about that question as well. Telling someone “I don’t think this is moral” has no effect whatsoever. While passing and enforcing laws does have an effect. Why would I waste my time making moral arguments to change someone’s mind, when I can effect actual change immediately via laws?In regard to the idea that others can impose their “morality” on me (they actually can’t—they can impose laws on me, but not morality. I can lock up a molester, but I can’t change his feelings about whether what he did was right or wrong—I can’t force my morality on him. However, society allows behaviors that some people think are immoral, and they make things illegal that many people think are moral. Again, the question doesn’t reflect reality. Society DOES do this in the form of laws. Is this site advocating anarchy? When laws are too burdensome for people to bear, our Declaration of Independence addresses exactly how to handle it:“…all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”This site is flawed, and I don’t believe it’s going to offer me any compelling proof of god. I mean, for goodness sake, I can’t e
    ven agree with their primary premises—?

  2. tracieh says

    With regard to the claims on this blog that Martin would be incorrect to assume that “evidence” which could have a simpler, more naturalistic explanation, does, I have to say this is an odd accusation.Sagan addressed this very well in his “Dragon in my Garage” portion of his book Demon Haunted World:http://uberkuh.com/node/127“Gratifyingly, some dragon-size footprints in the flour are now reported. But they’re never made when a skeptic is looking. An alternative explanation presents itself. On close examination it seems clear that the footprints could have been faked. Another dragon enthusiast shows up with a burnt finger and attributes it to a rare physical manifestation of the dragon’s fiery breath. But again, other possibilities exist. We understand that there are other ways to burn fingers besides the breath of invisible dragons. Such “evidence” — no matter how important the dragon advocates consider it — is far from compelling. Once again, the only sensible approach is tentatively to reject the dragon hypothesis, to be open to future physical data, and to wonder what the cause might be that so many apparently sane and sober people share the same strange delusion.”I fail to see where anyone would not use Sagan’s practical approach and come to the same conclusion?Why would god be exempt? Ironically god can only be exempt if one (Anonymous) is biased by his _own_ presuppositions–which it appears _Martin_ is being accused of–in an odd twist of psychological projection on Anon’s part.If someone makes an extraordinary claim, they have to present evidence that can in no way be subject to being faked. It’s not difficult. If it could have been faked, and the claim defies reality–why wouldn’t anyone go with the “faked” hypothesis? We do this with alien abduction, the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot–and right on down the line with every extraordinary claim. But when it comes to god, when we apply that same practical approach, we’re told we’re biased and close-minded…?

  3. Anonymous says

    Tracie said “Existence means manifestation, God does not appear to manifest.” and I agree he may not manifest himself to you. As promised in John 14:21 though he does manifest himself. let me ask you this time are your folding your arms and saying if it doesn’t happen to you then it cannot be real. There are criteria that must happen to have God manifested to you, you do know this right?We had this conversation not to long ago and here is just a few things that was said by true converts. My intellect cannot construct this brilliance so of course this is all hijacked but it was interesting to say the least. One Christian said: “So how does God speak to me? In no particular order:1) Through scripture.2) Through nature (the big things and the small).3) Through other Xians.4) Through other people (all truth is God breathed).5) Through impressions in my Spirit.6) Through dreams (very rarely in my case).7) With an audible voice (extremely rare in my case). Through seeing things with my eyes that are not actually present in the physical world (rare, but it has happened).9) Some things I just “know” without having perceived them.10) Through miracles.11) Through peace, joy etc. (deeper than mere emotion).12) Through things I have written.13) Through science, mathematics, philosophy.14) Through all expressions of love.15) Through reason.16) In music, especially (but not exclusively) gospel / worship music.17) Through d-conversion.com (!)”Another said:I do not know How He is speaking with you. He speaks to me most often in”1.syncronicities…2.impossible “coincidences”…3.things that oddly catch my attention…4.unfolding chains of events5. SYMBOLS symbolism’s found in my dreaming and my waking!6. “double” meanings and “life signs”…7. creation. everything existing in the physical world… speaks of the Spirit. everything.8. supernatural heightening of the senses.9. out and out “impossibilities”10. simple spiritual intuition.He reaches deep in… right where we are…and speaks to each and every one of us…in whatever ways we are most inclined to hear….at a given moment.”These lists are very real and accurate manifestations of God in these days. I have had many of the same experiences and can relate to most all of these things. I understand you don’t know these two Christians but do they seem just insane to you? Again I suppose you feel all of this is still not evidence so the question posed is still out there: “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.”Martin, your anger is boring (and comical), can you have a decent debate or conversation without spewing hatred? You do know you are giving atheists a bad name. You do remind me of the Rational Responders anger. Is this common among atheists?It was your attitude that brought me to say under who’s athority or that I didn’t have to prove your girlfriend is cheating on you hypothetically. If I say I saw it and you do not take my word for it, how is that my responcibility to prove it further, I saw it and I am not lying to you that is all. You can take that iformation however you want. To reiterate in all fairness I said I would go to her first an make her tell you by reasoning to her it is the right thing to do, for your sake. Why do you think I was against you?   Oh and Martin, on a personal note to understand you more, I wish you would answer this for my own curiosity but you are not obligated. Do you have a wife and children? a girlfriend? Do you still live at home with the parents? I am not trying to character assassinate you but I was just curious about your current situation. It seems to me you have a lot of time on your hands, are you just a rich kid at home. Please share.

  4. Martin says

    I am not trying to character assassinate you but I was just curious about your current situation. It seems to me you have a lot of time on your hands, are you just a rich kid at home. Please share.Well, at least I’m not a cowardly little shit who throws out his ad hominems behind the cloak of internet anonymity. But then, you’re a Christian. Dishonesty and cowardice are more or less your stock in trade, are they not?You’re finished, anon. You come here with shitty arguments, then when those don’t work, you borrow somebody else’s shitty arguments. Then, when everything you’ve tried to post here gets a clear and succinct refutation, you lob personal insults at me while at the same time giving me the old “why are atheists like you so angry?” routine. Gee, could it be because people like you are such pathetic, lying, hypocritical little assholes?Let’s take a quick poll of everyone here: Have I given atheists a bad name, or has anon given Christians a bad name? Have I answered anon with uncontrollable anger, or have I addressed his every point in clear and exhaustive detail? Has anon been consistent, lucid, and well reasoned, or has he been a juvenile, emotional, incoherent, self-contradictory liar who projects his own failings on others?Don’t bother taking the poll yourself, anon. You’re banned. Goodbye and good riddance to bad rubbish.Are there any Christians out there who are decent, honest people capable of an intellectually sound and mature exchange if ideas? I’d be impressed just to find one, really.

  5. says

    “So how does Allah speak to me? In no particular order:1) Through scripture.2) Through nature (the big things and the small).3) Through other muslims.4) Through other people (all truth is Allah breathed).5) Through impressions in my Spirit.6) Through dreams (very rarely in my case).7) With an audible voice (extremely rare in my case).Through seeing things with my eyes that are not actually present in the physical world (rare, but it has happened).9) Some things I just “know” without having perceived them.10) Through miracles.11) Through peace, joy etc. (deeper than mere emotion).12) Through things I have written.13) Through science, mathematics, philosophy.14) Through all expressions of love.15) Through reason.16) In music, especially (but not exclusively) gospel / worship music.17) Through thetruereligion.org (!)”Nope, not a single thing in there counts as manifestation of your particular god. All these things could be attributed to any other god, or if you wanted to be more reasonable, to no god. I truely, honestly cannot see how you could actually believe that these count as some sort of manifestation of a god, let alone that it could only be your god doing this. You also are, once again, missing a very key argument that I think was brought up before. You said:”There are criteria that must happen to have God manifested to you, you do know this right?”What are these criteria exactly (nevermind answering, you’re banned)? Belief in your god and the literal interpretation of the bible, even despite all the evidence against it? Asking him, and honestly meaning it, to manifest in some way to me? Years of devotion and study? Going on mission trips to spread the word? Hmm…check, check, check and check, for me. I spent 20+ years as a christian. There was no difference between me and any other christian, except I didn’t accept something so idiotic as “music” or “science” or “dreams” or my own hallucinations as manifestations. Where was a burning bush? Where was a voice in the sky? Where was…well, fuck, where was ANYTHING that didn’t have a more plausible, rational explanation? It never came. I’m not alone, here. Ask around, I’m sure you’ll find plenty of Xian deconverts. Most of them were just as devoted as I was in the search for god, some will even say they believed they found the same “manifestations” you listed, yet we all realized in the end that this was nothing more than us looking for confirmation of our delusions wherever we could find it. There were no miracles, where were no impossible feats, there was nothing that could not have happened even if there was no god. Why did god fail to manifest himself to us, then? Why did we have no evidence? We were “in on the joke”, we should have been privy to all the insider information you and your god refuse to provide atheists, yet us ex-insiders can truly say: there is no insider information, just a bunch of self-deluded idiots trying to make themselves feel better about a world they can’t handle without their invisible friend beside them.I’ll say it again, in simpler language for all the believers out there: I was as much a believer as the vast majority of christians are. One might have even called me a fundamentalist, biblically-literal, young-earth creationist…and it would have been accurate. Stating that atheists just have to believe, or go to god on his own terms, or have faith, does not work because many of us were doing exactly that…only, god never gave it to us! You’re making the false assumption that true christians cannot become atheist, that the atheists you confront were never true christians.Martin: I’ve been a blog lurker for a long time, even before Dan. Oh, what a fun (and informative) ride that was. But to answer your question regarding how others percieved your actions, I saw you rebutting all his questions and attacks, something that anon didn’t even have the courage to do. I didn’t see any hand-waving, I didn’t see any convinient forgetting of any questions anon asked that you you couldn’t find an answer for, I didn’t see any intellectual dishonesty or self-contradictions. Anon didn’t have the courage, or the intelligence, apparently, to give you the same treatment. I did, however, see the insults fly around a lot, as well as the snarky comments. These believers, though, all think they have something new to add, something we’ve never heard before, yet they all end up sounding the same. When you hear the same thing over and over and over again, especially when it’s something so stupid, so easily refuted, it’s easy to get annoyed. You, and others on this blog, still have the ability to debate these people, answering all their questions point by point, with more than enough detail / information to stop anybody who’s actually coming to the debate in pursuit of truth rather than an attempt to spread their dogma. If some snarky comments or insults get mixed in as well, then so be it. Everybody, atheist and believers alike, is getting good information, while us atheists (at least me) are getting a good laugh…so it’s all good.

  6. Martin says

    Well spoken, Chris. Anon (and IP addresses seem to indicate that, yes, it may have been Dan after all, as Dan spent five hours here yesterday, for longer than I do on average — why the guy still has a teeny-tiny little hard-on for us is something I don’t care to contemplate) has already attempted to leave another comment, with the oh-so-predictable whine of “ah-ha, obviously the reason you moderate is to shut down opposing views like mine.” Conveniently ignoring the fact that he’s been banned for infantile behavior and that he was allowed to post his bullshit here several times before his descent into playground insults got him sent home. I mean, people like anon simply seethe with dishonesty. When the lies flow so freely and with such callous disregard for basic human decency, who wouldn’t get angry having to put up with it? What must it be like to be the sort of person who’s literally psychologically incapable of comprehending the difference between lying and telling the truth, to be the sort of person who lies with every word you say? It must be a pitiful, shallow existence, in which the world is nothing but a sound stage where you get to be the hero of your own movie.Ah well. He has to live with his mental illnesses. We don’t. He had his chance. He blew it. When he recovers from his arrested development, maybe he can come back. As it’s unlikely he ever will, I don’t think we have to be troubled by him ever again.

  7. says

    To Anonymous:Please note that you quoted me as saying:>>TRACIE: “Existence means manifestation, God does not appear to manifest.”That quote is accurate, but you failed to include some stipulations I also had stated in my postings:>>TRACIE: They all still manifest, though, in consensus, objective, examinable reality. God does not manifest in any way that we can examine in objective, consensus reality. Weirdly—everything else that we define as “existing” seems to have no trouble meeting that criteria.When you say you agree god does not manifest himself to _me_…>>YOU: I agree he may not manifest himself to you….then you are, in fact, admitting that he doesn’t manifest in consensus reality. And that’s a really big part of the manifestation I was specifically describing. Nonconsensus manifestation is generally considered an individual’s delusion. If I see a pink rabbit all the time that nobody else can see—I’m considered delusional.>>YOU: There are criteria that must happen to have God manifested to you, you do know this right?This is incorrect. “Existence” is not negotiable. This is an observable fact. We see it all the time with everything we _know_ exists. The property of “existing,” as humans understand and define it, does not require that the subject be or do anything outside of perceiving in the way any normally functioning human can perceive. My mug, simply put, manifests (in the way I defined it above) or it does not. I do not have to “believe” in the mug in order to perceive its manifestation. I do not have to perform any rituals in order to perceive it’s manifestation. The mug can be identified by the standard operating human, or it cannot. That’s what consitutes whether or not something “exists.” If it cannot be perceived by a normally operating human—but I still see it, anyway—again, assuming I’m a standard functioning human as well—then it is what is considered a delusion.The ways you list for god’s “speaking” to people either do not represent god, or represent delusion (just a few examples—most of the list falls into these categories):>>Through scripture.>>Through nature (the big things and the small).>>With an audible voice (extremely rare in my case).Through seeing things with my eyes that are not actually present in the physical world (rare, but it has happened).[There are also many Xians who would disagree with this list, and who adamantly say that the Bible is the _only_ message from god today. And that these verses regarding god's manifestations you have provided were only relevant prior to the Bible being available to people. But that’s an internal conflict that doesn’t really affect atheists. I’m just pointing out that Xians don’t agree on how their god "speaks" or "manifests" to them. So, it doesn’t seem to be something anyone can be sure of—not even those who believe it themselves.]Even so, scripture is produced by _people_ writing. You are reading what _people_ wrote, and calling what _people_ wrote “god speaking to you.” Is god these people, then? I feel certain you would say “no,” and yet, this defines god as “people” in a very literal way. Unless you mean god is a metaphor/symbol for the words of people (which I suspect is the case in most believers’ minds—but they are not aware that is what is happening in their own heads—they merely literalize metaphor/symbol).Nature is nature. Again, god = nature. That’s fine, god is a metaphor for nature. That is a Pantheistic statement. But when you literalize it, you are misreading your own head’s signals, again. The human propensity for symbolism is confusing you with regard to where the symbol stops and reality begins.With regard to hearing voices or having hallucinations that no one else can hear—again, that’s exactly what a delusion is defined as—no metaphor is required to cover this.>>YOU: These lists are very real and accurate manifestations of God in these days.These lists are very extensive examples of the many realities that we symbolize via “god.” The problem is when people begin to believe they are “literal” manifestations—in the sense my coffee mug is real.>>YOU: Again I suppose you feel all of this is still not evidenceIt’s not about what I feel, it’s _not_ evidence, no matter what I feel. What you’re offering cannot be examined or verified. Has not been examined or verified. And does not appear to “exist” in consensus reality—as evidenced by the fact that so many people, even other Xians, don’t seem to be able to agree on what constitutes a manifestation or message from their god.I don’t need to tell you that there are people who say my coffee mug exists–and that they have seen it. If you ever were so inclined, you could come and see it with your own eyes, hold it with your hands, bang it against your forehead—because that’s what we can do with “existent” items—because they are part of our consensus, objective, verifiable reality. My mug is not a matter of personal interpretation; but your god certainly appears to be.

  8. says

    >”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.”Just to be clear, I want to see god manifest in “consensus, objective, examinable reality.” I thought I was pretty clear with that definition?

  9. says

    >Let’s take a quick poll of everyone here: Have I given atheists a bad name, or has anon given Christians a bad name? Have I answered anon with uncontrollable anger, or have I addressed his every point in clear and exhaustive detail? Has anon been consistent, lucid, and well reasoned, or has he been a juvenile, emotional, incoherent, self-contradictory liar who projects his own failings on others?To me it’s sort of a two-tiered question:1. Free Speech2. Who owns the blog?If the blog-master (Martin) allows the speech, then it’s allowed at this blog, if not, then it’s banned.I personally avoid sarcastic wit for the most part, or attempts to offend, upset or name-call; HOWEVER, that’s just me. Other people can do what they will–again, within the parameters set down by the BlogMeister.That’s reality. No visitor here is chained to a computer and forced to endure anything they don’t want to. As far as I’m concerned, Martin, it’s your blog–fire away.No matter the level of snark, you do present your arguments. And it’s up to the correspondent whether or not they want to bog down in a dialogue about whether or not you’re insulting, snarky, offensive, or whatever else they feel about your mode of delivery.The fact is, they all have the choice to ignore the “nasty” bits and reply to the meat of the issue–the arguments. That’s what I try to do (I mean when someone is that way to me–you, personally, haven’t ever been nasty to me that I ever recall).If someone says to me “Look B*tch…” and then lays out a really well done argument. I can either address their mode (which I think is somewhat beside the point, which is always, to me, exchange of information) or their meaning (which is what I’m here for). Or I can blow them off entirely and not respond (I recommend this for people who are bothered by being on the “receiving end”).However, as the moderator, you’re in a unique spot to try to regulate a dialogue that allows as much free speech as possible and still maintains an atmosphere of pleasantness to the point that _most_ people feel comfortable posting. So, you have to think in terms that are a bit less “tolerant” with regard to what can be done here. Just because I’m not bothered by X doesn’t mean that 20 other people won’t be–and will leave the blog because of it. I don’t have to worry about that–but YOU not only do, but have an obligation to do so.It’s your blog, man. That’s the reality for the visitors here. If they don’t like it, they don’t have to come around.

  10. Martin says

    …you, personally, haven’t ever been nasty to me that I ever recallAnd how could I? :-)

  11. says

    I think you did a good job, and I don’t think you’ve made ateists look bad at all, (how could you do that anyway except being misunderstood by someone predisposed to making such sweeping generalizations anyway). I’ve never had patients enough to contend with fools, or I’d be doing the same as you are. I’ve been in the Christian community before, (trying to keep the peace with my [now ex-wife] so I feel I’ve paid my dues. Enjoyable read.Thanks.

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