We get email… strike that, we get cut n’ paste


So I see this in my inbox:

Who Created God? A number of skeptics ask this question. But God by definition is the uncreated creator of the universe, so the question Who created God? is illogical, just like To whom is the bachelor married?

This was the first paragraph in a very long email, all neatly formatted in a shiny blue font. Naturally I suspected a cut and paste job, so after ascertaining that this was simply a parrot of the Kalam Cosmological argument, I simply googled key words and found it to be a word for word transcription of this page at Christian-answers.net.

Thus I replied:

Hi,

I see you haven’t troubled yourself to come up with an original argument, but merely cut and pasted the writings of another author citing the Kalam Cosmological argument. Therefore, I will respond in kind and simply link you to a thorough refutation of this claim.

If you want to respond to this page, please email me back in your own words and we will discuss it from there.

He wrote a slightly longer answer, and my counter-response (which includes the full body of his message) is below.

your right russell i didnt write it all myself because I didnt think I had to….

Sure, I don’t blame you — no sense reinventing the wheel. That’s why i did the same thing. I bet you didn’t read the refutation yet, did you?

i know im not going to persuade you that there really is a God.

Not with weak semantic hand-waving like Kalam, you won’t. Present us with some evidence for God, and we’ll be all over it.

i can tell the devil has a deep grip on your heart

It must make your life very simple when you can dismiss any counter-arguments by saying “Well, the only reason you don’t believe me is because you’re a slave to EVIL.” It’s easier than trying to read and understand things, that’s for sure.

and i hope and pray you can see that also….what you are believing is lies. you dont need to have a college degree to see it either….

Yes. I can tell.

I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and I am not ashamed at all to say that.

I don’t think you should be ashamed for saying what you believe. Now, not having the integrity to understand the arguments you’re making and back them up — THAT would make me ashamed.

The reason i believe in Jesus is because of the Bible. I believe it is true. Its proven to be true. through archelogical discoveries and by the power of the Holy Spirit. I know you cant understand that because you havent had that happen….

Okay, so wait a minute. You believe in Jesus because of the Bible… and you think that the Bible is “proven” by virtue of the holy spirit. Either that is a textbook case of circular reason (Jesus and the Holy Spirit are the same thing under trinitarianism, yes?) or you left out the step where you explain why you believe in the holy spirit.

Of course, you throw in the towel when you say I can’t understand something because I “havent had that happen.” (What does “that” refer to anyway?) Proof is proof — it is repeatable and accessible to everyone. Something that only you can understand may be real, or it may be inside your head. In any case, if you don’t think you can prove the existence of God without special pleading, then why did you bother sending us a cut and paste of Kalam?

I can guarentee you have had authority problems in your life. All athiests do. their denying an authority figure over them. its simple even a 6 year old can understand…..

Didn’t I see you in a movie once? “You’re a rogue cop, Glasser! Sure, your unconventional methods and boyish charm get results, but they have no place on this force! Turn in your badge, you’re on leave until further notice!”

And with THAT uninteresting argumentam ad hominem out of the way, I’ll sign off.

Russell

Here’s the final reply, but I didn’t find it worth responding to.

first off yes i did read your refutation. thankyou for it. my reason for emailing you is because i am concerned about your soul. Everybody has a soul whether you deny it or not. Im not a smart asshole thats trying to get you to repent…..i just question your “show” or whatever it is. If their is no God then why do you care about all this? why are you wasting your time trying to persuade people? you still must be fighting a little voice or something?

It’s no mystery why we do a show. Among other things, it’s so we can have the pleasure of getting a rise out of people like this. I’m just sad that it wasn’t on air.

Comments

  1. says

    am i really supposed to believe people like this are concerned about my soul? i hate when they throw that garbage out. i might believe that when talking to my family, but when some schmo on the web says it, it comes off at 100% scoundrel condescension. this emailer needs to be be sent to your FAQ because they rehash some common misconception with every sentence in the final correspondence. when religious people are trying to legislate things based on their doctrine that undermine science, human rights, etc, how can they ask "why do you bother worrying about it?" um, because you're trying to f*&% us!

  2. says

    @gfunkusareliusThat comment was just pure concentrated win front to back.On that same page, I really have a gut reaction to someone saying they are concerned for my soul, especially when they specifically throw in that I definitely have one even though I don't believe in it. That really rankles me. Perhaps it's the fact that I was raised in all that bullshit and it's like the stereotypical Vietnam war vet flashbacks, but I really can't stand that fake concern so reminiscent of a used car salesman.

  3. says

    While I never had this bunch of evangelical christianity in my face (thank goodness for small favors) I get a very slimy feeling from that guy. His goal wasn't to convert the atheists, but to fail and say he tried. He probably thinks he can get away with having a sub par performance since "dem dur atheistz wur eeevul tuh begin wit'" So he ends up feeling he did his god-given duty and has a licence to dream of going to heaven with his 72 sheep… (Oh wait I'm mixing eschatologies again, aren't I?) without having to do the work he's supposed to.

  4. says

    The last couple of shows, it has seemed that the theist callers have been reading from the work of other people.What was worse is that it was also obvious that the callers were reading those arguments without actually understanding what they were reading. The hosts may have missed it while trying to deal with it live, but it is obvious when listening to the recordings… and I recall that the callers WERE caught reading at least once.Why isn't plagiarism enough of a reason to dismiss someone? If they aren't honest enough to admit that they are quoting someone else, then they are taking a giant crap on their own position. Call them out on it, and then hang up on them.

  5. Martin says

    Here is my response:your right russell i didnt write it all myself because I didnt think I had to….Well, there's your problem. You didn't think. And that's tripped up more than one theist. If you'd thought through your email, it might've occurred to you that, as we've been doing our show 12 years, we'd probably heard the Kalam argument before. And we'd know what its flaws were, and how to refute it. You're not alone in this naivety. We still get theists writing us all the time with Pascal's Wager.i know im not going to persuade you that there really is a God.Actually, you probably could. But you'd actually have to have the courage of your convictions, and be prepared to present either strong evidence or a very well thought out argument. Since you were content to let another apologetics website do your thinking for you, your efforts have made you look both foolish and not very engaged in your beliefs.By copy-pasting someone else's argument, and with your sentence above, you have essentially admitted defeat already. If you know you aren't going to persuade us, then what can that mean but that you don't really think your beliefs, or your reasons for holding them, are that persuasive.So why have you devoted your life to beliefs you admit aren't defensible or even particularly worthwhile? If you thought you had strong, defensible beliefs, you would put forth the effort. That you can't be bothered says more about the lameness of the beliefs than about any imaginary "devil" gripping our hearts.i can tell the devil has a deep grip on your heart and i hope and pray you can see that also….What I see is a sad fellow who admits he can't walk the walk, and who has to say childish crap like this to make himself feel better.what you are believing is lies. you dont need to have a college degree to see it either….I know that. Education and intelligence are detrimental to the faith your religion needs.I believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and I am not ashamed at all to say that. The reason i believe in Jesus is because of the Bible. I believe it is true. Its proven to be true. through archelogical discoveries and by the power of the Holy Spirit. I know you cant understand that because you havent had that happen….We don't think you should be ashamed of your beliefs. What you should be ashamed of is that, after declaring pride in your beliefs, you then admit they aren't strong enough to be defended to people who don't share them (us), and that this is somehow our fault. Don't be ashamed of what you believe. But, if integrity matters, do be ashamed you lack the courage of your convictions. Take responsibility, don't blame your failure on those who point your failure out.(continued…)

  6. Martin says

    (…continued)I can guarentee you have had authority problems in your life. All athiests do. their denying an authority figure over them. its simple even a 6 year old can understand…..While it's true atheists reject the idea that authority deserves to be blindly followed, this isn't the reason we don't believe in God. It's because believers like you can't give us good reasons or evidence. And when pressed, you back down all too easily, as you did above. Weak, ill-supported beliefs with no conviction behind them simply aren't persuasive things. Our resistance to the idea of divine authority stems from something else we emphatically believe in: personal responsibility. You could say atheism is a form of maturity, reaching a comfortable state of moral and intellectual adulthood in the realization we have to own our actions and their consequences to make the world the best place for us and our fellow man that it can be. Many theists, on the other hand, are like children, caught in arrested development and looking to outside authority in the form of some divine parental figure ("heavenly father," etc.) to hold their hands through life. "Let go and let God", as the bumper stickers say. But deep down ("even a 6 year old can understand"), you know how childish it all is, eh?

  7. says

    Frustrating as it must be, it is still good that you answer people like this publicly, especially on the air. Not because you are going to change the way this fool thinks(you're not), but as a teaching example to 1) show others how to deal with these arguments," and 2) because there are others following the discussion who you will influence. You should be proud of the number of people who call in or write in to say that you guys have changed their lives in a positive manner. So keep it up, ye of little faith.

  8. says

    I can guarentee you have had authority problems in your life. All athiests do. their denying an authority figure over them.Oh, my. Really, they should simply change the name of the religion from "Christianity" to "Projectionism"; it would be more accurately descriptive. It seems to be about all they ever do.And I agree that it isn't about saving your soul; it's about protecting his belief system. He's deeply terrified you may be right.Actually, though, I disagree with Martin; he should be ashamed, not for being a theist, but for accepting without qualification a belief system that condemns the vast majority of humanity to unending suffering. But I guess that really doesn't matter to them, as long as they get to experience an eternity of bliss. That's all that really matters.Selfish and dumb as dirt – always a winning combination. What a catch for some lucky Christian gal!

  9. says

    And people say religion isn't dangerous!This is evidence that a person can be brainwashed to such a degree that they short-circuit their reasoning skills to such an extent that they can not only believe something that does not fit with reality, but also brush off any criticism or evidence to the contrary with ideas of demons.Some people simply cannot be reasoned with and that scares me. It is only when you consider these attitudes that you can believe someone is willing to blow themselves up for a promise based on nothing but words.

  10. DavidCT says

    I am sure that this individual is certain that his soul is in good shape and has a reservation in heaven. I am sure that he intends to have a front row seat at the golden balcony from which he can look down on the devil inspired atheists getting their just punishment. He will be able to enjoy himself with a clear conscience because he did try to help us find the way.He had better not read the bible too carefully, or he might come across the fine print about the rules for getting into heaven. Once he realizes that he is very unlikely to qualify for the good place then…. He might have to start praying that we are right.I just hope he is as lazy about voting as he is about researching his beliefs. In the end his vote counts as much as mine.

  11. says

    Wow, that was interesting. If you are going to argue, try to stay on topic a little bit. One sentience down one path of argument and then moving on is annoying. It works really well verbal but as Russel ljust showed not so well when written down. Good Job Russell!

  12. says

    gfunkusarelius said… am i really supposed to believe people like this are concerned about my soul?Kind of hard to believe, isn't it? If they were truly concerned about the plight of humanity, one would think they'd be feverishly trying to find actual proof of their deity, as opposed to just sitting behind their monitor, googling atheists to "save". What about going out and actually improving the life of someone less fortunate or demonstrating a tangible example of this love that their Jesus, allegedly, shows for their fellow man? That would be a far better use of the time their Lord and Savior has given them. But, alas…it's the tap, tap on the keyboard that they believe will be the salvation of us lowly atheists. *rolls eyes*Joe said…Why isn't plagiarism enough of a reason to dismiss someone? To be fair, atheists repeat the words of other atheists in conversation and in attempts to make a point. It's not the use of another's ideas that make the argument bad, it's the fact that they can't put their own spin on it at all. They don't use another's words to help clarify their position, the other person's words BECOME their position.Martin said…While it's true atheists reject the idea that authority deserves to be blindly followed, this isn't the reason we don't believe in God. Amen, brother Martin.Authority also needs to be worthy of adoration and following before you pledge your life to said authority. I haven't seen a deity, yet, that I would follow. That's not rebellion. It's discretion.

  13. says

    @Martin I believe the guy who is talking about authority is referring to some work by psychologist Paul Vitz (I believe that it is also mentioned in the section on psychology in "The Cambridge Companion to Atheism".A large number of apostates had some sort of authority issue with a male authority figure in the family or in their church (the number is higher among women although women are mre religious on the whole)."You could say atheism is a form of maturity, reaching a comfortable state of moral and intellectual adulthood in the realization we have to own our actions and their consequences to make the world the best place for us and our fellow man that it can be."This is extremely ironic considering that many atheists adovocate forms of moral relativism and nihilism (like JL Mackie ,Bertrand Russell) and naturalists in philosophy of mind deny that human beings even make free choices or actions or feel sensations like pain (like Daniel Dennett and Andrew Melnyk). "something else we emphatically believe in: personal responsibilityDid you ever read Dennett's "Elbow Room"? Denett denies libertarian free will and then tries to draw a metaphysically arbitrary line as to which behaviours we should punish though all are equally predetermined. Dawkins denies moral responsibility altogether because of determinism.http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2008/06/lets-stop-beating-basils-car-richard.htmlAtheists must be the only people in the world who think "moral and intellectual responsibility" means to deny morality and freedom.

  14. says

    "Authority also needs to be worthy of adoration and following before you pledge your life to said authority. I haven't seen a deity, yet, that I would follow. That's not rebellion. It's discretion."Out of curiousity. Let's say some theist presented you with good evidence for the Christian God. Would you give up your atheism or still hold to your views because you do not htink he is worthy of adoration.

  15. says

    Denett denies libertarian free will and then tries to draw a metaphysically arbitrary line as to which behaviours we should punish though all are equally predetermined. Dawkins denies moral responsibility altogether because of determinism.So? You believe that God created a man so enslaved by his passions that he couldn't resist the one thing forbidden to him – then punished him for it. And you rationalize it by conjuring up an ephemera called free will, for which you have absolutely no evidence other than "Well, God says I have it, and he wouldn't lie to me!"

  16. says

    Out of curiousity. Let's say some theist presented you with good evidence for the Christian God. Would you give up your atheism or still hold to your views because you do not htink he is worthy of adoration.Of course I would give up my atheism if there were strong evidence for believing in a God. Whether I would worship him is an entirely separate question. A person who believes in, but does not worship a god, is not an atheist.

  17. says

    Out of curiousity. Let's say some theist presented you with good evidence for the Christian God. Would you give up your atheism or still hold to your views because you do not htink he is worthy of adoration.Please. Atheists have been presenting you with evidence for God's non-existence for as long as you've been blogging. You won't give it up, because you need to believe. But you won't admit that, because that admission would be tantamount to admitting you don't really have good reason to believe in the first place.Looks like someone's finished with his finals.

  18. says

    "I can guarentee you have had authority problems in your life. All athiests do."That made me laugh out loud. I guess that is why I have had a successful career these past 10 years in the US Army. Everyone knows how well people with authority issues do in the military.

  19. says

    The reason i believe in Jesus is because of the Bible.That is one of the problems I have in conversing with theists: the total waste of time. Not a waste of time talking to them but the waste that you have to go through some labrynthine goobltigook before you get to what they say is the "really real" reason they believe. If the real reason this guy believed is becasue of the bible, why start off with Kalam? Why not start off with the bible instead? Kalam may have confirmed to him what he believes but I doubt that it is what convinced him to believe in the first place. Granted, I also doubt the bible convinced him either, but that is what he claims and if that is false then it is his problem to investigate the real cause.It is usually Pascal's Wager that I get. I constantly get this thrown at me in discussions but after just a few more moments of talking I find that the person I am talking to was not persuaded into belief because of Pascal's Wager. Unless they try to drop the subject, it never fails that when I ask why they presented an argument that even they don't buy their response is because they thought I might. I'm a nice guy so I let them drop the subject after I explain how insulting that is to my intelligence and that if their real reasons for belief are so flimsy that they think no one else would go for them then that should be cause for them to go back and reevaluate.

  20. frucallhammar says

    I usually use that same argument "personal responsability" when trying to have this discussion with theists. The most common anserw is that I'm insane – since when doesent theist have personal responsability? But it is allmost allways the "Im not a beliver, but…" who tend to ridicule me, not the fanatics.And you should see the comments I get when I point out the dimetral (wright word?) correlation faith-education&intelligens… *pjfft* I've been called retard and fanatic more times than I can count.;-)In general I feel like I'm talking to a five-year-old on "my" forum – it doesnt matter who accually, they all have the same ignorant argument. (It is accually swedens largest familyforum, ~ 60 000 posts a day)But here in Sweden there are quite a few non-beliver or agnostics who comes to the rescue when the arguments fall flat for the theists. That makes it more interesting, more challenging and absolutely more educational.However: I will _never_ understand why. But there are soooo many things I just dont understand…:-PLike that sentence "atheists have athority problems" – I am baffeld stunned and amused…:-D

  21. says

    What people like William Lane Craig do is diffrentiate between knowing God exists and showing God exists. For example I may believe in God because of personal experience or revelation or a near-death experience or some kind of miracle I experienced.However that kind of thing is not going to be convincing to anyone here. What you do present is evidence and arguments to see which side is more plausible.

  22. says

    What people like William Lane Craig do is diffrentiate between knowing God exists and showing God exists. Except that Craig has yet to show that any god, let alone his, exists. He and others asserts he has done this but really that is all he has done so far: asserted that a god exists. At best he points out some area where human knowledge is either very limited or nonexistent and claims god. If any of Craig's assertions could reasonably be taken as logical evidence that a god exists, one could only rationally conclude the existence of a deistic- type god and not the one Craig seems to be argueing for. However, even then one must acknowledge that they have accepted a positive claim based solely on ignorance, either the individual's or humanity's as a whole. For example I may believe in God because of personal experience or revelation or a near-death experience or some kind of miracle I experienced.However that kind of thing is not going to be convincing to anyone here. What you do present is evidence and arguments to see which side is more plausible.No, what you do in that situation is admit you have nothing that would ever convince anyone else unless they too have undergone a similar experience, or at least believed they have. You should also admit that, since others have had similar experiences throughout history but declared that a god far different than if not diametrically opposed to yours exists (probably using the same evidence and arguments as you to "prove" its existence, to the same effect as you), you and any others making such claims could easily be mistaken. Not to mention, if your main concern is to figure out which side is the more plausible, using "evidence" and arguments that you don't find convincing yourself as support should only lead to the conclusion that your side can't be all that credible. After all, if your side is reasonable or has any basis in reality, why go to the length of feeding others a complete load? Of course, all of this assumes that the believer has any desire at all to remain intellectually honest. If they don't or are only making a pathetic, half- assed attempt at "saving my soul" to get brownie points with their god, then I suppose what I said doesn't really enter in to it.

  23. says

    "i can tell the devil has a deep grip on your heart"It's comments like this that make me smile.It's essentially the same thing as asserting that someone is delusional, but instead of justifying it in rational, psychological terms, they're claiming that you are delusional because of an invisible, intangible, evil entity.

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