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Oct 13 2009

A response to Real Scotsman — err, Real Theist

Over at Vizhnet’s brand-new blog, someone commenting under the name of “realtheist” (whom DanJ believes is Daniel Maldonado, owner of the Real Theist blog and an occasional commenter here), left a very VERY long comment in reply to me and in defense of our favorite apologist Zdenny. I reproduce it herein, as Vizhnet has stated he debates only on Twitter and I want to save it for posterity in case he decides to clean up again. I’ll break it down paragraph by paragraph.

I am amazed at your ability to suggest what zdenny is doing is “wrong” when you’re an atheist. How could you possible account for zdenny being “wrong” seeing as how your worldview holds not basis for objective morality?

The problem here isn’t OUR worldview, it’s YOURS. Yours precludes the possibility of an objective morality that does not derive from some law-maker. I posit, as I have posited elsewhere, that true objective morality is perfectly possible within a social species for the purposes of natural selection and selfishness. A population with no compunctions against eating or killing members of its own species is unstable, and if the killing outpaces the birth rate, will collapse and die out. Thus, natural selection favors populations that are capable of social structure and able to help the least amongst themselves. This is why inhuman acts require that you dehumanize the victims. This is a specialty of religions (edit: and of the anti-animal-testing radicals), that claim the non-religious are infidels worthy of death. From my own comment, linked above:

Let’s explain morality from a naturalistic standpoint. See if you follow.

Good is defined as an action that is objectively the best course of action for three things, in descending order of importance: a) humankind as a whole, b) your local society or the groups to which you belong, and c) your personal being. This “objective good” is not a subjective good imposed by God. It is merely what is the best course of action to preserve those three things. Sometimes to do good you have to sacrifice C to benefit A, e.g. the archetypal one guy saves the world (this is comic book, or bible, stuff — you know, fantasy), or even just eliminating a serial killer from your midst. And sometimes, people are born with a mistaken sense of this order, thinking that C is more important than A or B, causing psychopathic or sociopathic behaviours.

Evil is defined as something that is objectively detrimental to, in diminishing order again, a) humankind as a whole, b) your local society or social groups, and c) your personal being. However, to the individual, C will often get inflated priority due to our sense of self preservation. A cataclysm like a meteor headed for Earth could wipe out the planet and would obviously be viewed as a great evil, when in actuality it is a thoroughly neutral event with no agency behind it. A person like Hitler or Stalin who, regardless of his belief systems, decides to wipe out huge tracts of humankind thus weakening our gene pool and harming our future ability to survive, is considered objectively evil. A person who molests children who cannot otherwise defend themselves is objectively evil. A person who rapes people, causing untold trauma to women and hurting them physically as well as mentally, is objectively evil. Wars are objectively evil, though they might be fought to stop genocides, which are objectively greater evil.

Do you see how it works? No need for a sky daddy.

Seems pretty easy, doesn’t it? Though because it explains things in a lot of words and doesn’t involve an invisible man, obviously it must be wrong and atheists must be immoral.

What Zdenny and people like you do when you espouse such nonsensical claims and convince others of their verity, then dehumanizing anyone that continues to disagree with you, is terrifyingly immoral. What you do when you say some humans have more rights than others, is disgustingly immoral. What you do when you say the laws written in a book that’s 1675 years old (I’m revising up to the Council of Nicaea from now on by the way) should supercede the laws of a progressive, modern, free country is disturbing and, again, immoral. And my judgment of such derives almost exclusively from the objective morality of what is good for humankind as a whole. Your backward ideas are no longer adequate and are doing tangible harm to humankind. They are no longer needed.

You’re mistaking that argument here I believe. I know plenty of atheist’s who love. The very fact that they love and are atheist’s at the same time do not prove that love exists apart from God. What zdenny is pointing out is that Love comes from the Biblical God and none other. Whether you believe that it did or not has no bearing on the fact that you can and will love.

You’re arguing against Zdenny then. He’s said that “real love” is derived from God, and what we have is not only not that same thing, it’s “just a chemical process that could change tomorrow”. You’re arguing that atheists partake in that same love without acknowledging God’s the source. Go talk to him and see if you can merge your philosophies or you’re going to argue against him on that point.

Besides, from an atheistic worldview, love doesn’t exist. Love isn’t a virtue to the atheist, because everything is relative and nothing is absolute. This defies the logic you claim you hold fast too daily.

Relativistic morality is one thing I’m decidedly against. I don’t believe that every culture should have the right to set what’s moral and what isn’t, and the punishments for such immorality. For instance, I’m horrified by blasphemy laws, by “honour killings”, by radical animal rights activism involving exploding things, by oppression of sexual or racial minorities by bigots, by oppression of women by religions, by oppression of anyone by anything.

As for “love doesn’t exist”, it does too. Anyone who says I don’t believe it exists has a less-than-nuanced worldview, and knows nothing of mine.

People like Jason commit horrible assumptions in the name of science and present arguments that other scientists have refuted. I see this constantly and it quite frankly annoys me to see atheist put up a facade of so-called “science” and hide behind it as if it proves your illogical worldview.

Name ‘em. I’m waiting. Not just the fallacious arguments I have made, but the scientists that rebut them, and the science behind their rebuttals. I reserve the right to rebut any counterargument though, using other, likely more mainstream (and less religious) scientists, and the proper science they employed to get their results.

The problem isn’t “hard facts” or “evidence” because the theory of evolution is filled with holes that cannot be patched up. There are a number of secular scientists who are challenging the Darwinian theory without the influence of the Christian faith. One example of this is at http://www.dissentfromdarwin.org/

Science as a self-correcting mechanism is not monolithic, so there will be holes as we discover them and figure out what plugs them up. Your religion, on the other hand, is monolithic — it will not change in the face of better evidence. And there’s been roughly 1675 years of better evidence since your particular foundational text has been written. For evolution, there’s been only 150, and all of it is presently accounted for and integrated into the theory.

And that list of scientists contains a huge number of people that have nothing to do with evolutionary biology or biology in general. Some aren’t even in the life sciences! In answer to that paltry list, the NCSE created Project Steve — a list of scientists who have advanced degrees in biology, and whose name is Steve. Oh, and there’s one other criterion: they have to agree with this statement.

Evolution is a vital, well-supported, unifying principle of the biological sciences, and the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of the idea that all living things share a common ancestry. Although there are legitimate debates about the patterns and processes of evolution, there is no serious scientific doubt that evolution occurred or that natural selection is a major mechanism in its occurrence. It is scientifically inappropriate and pedagogically irresponsible for creationist pseudoscience, including but not limited to “intelligent design,” to be introduced into the science curricula of our nation’s public schools.

This list dwarfs yours, at 1100 signators and counting. Steves make up roughly 1% of the scientific community, so it’s even self-limiting, and still far outstrips your efforts to find people with PhD’s in Truthology from Christian Tech that are willing to commit to anti-science.

You claim zdenny’s logic defies logic. Explain to me how your logic supports logic? According to you, Science is the authority over everything, or am I wrong to assume you believe that? You all presuppose the uniformity in nature, mathematical truths and LOGICAL truths prior to examining anything via the scientific method. Yet you have not realistic explanation for these truths as you cannot prove them “scientifically.” You must presuppose these concepts before you even begin to use the scientific method meaning you are making HUGE assumptions prior to examining nature.

Logic is a human construction superimposed on the world in an effort to help categorize what’s real and what isn’t. Your effort to say that logic does not prove logic’s existence presupposes that logic even exists, and it also assumes that any such objective “thing” that you call logic is a result of some designer that poofed everything into existence ex nihilo. That’s far too many assumptions for my liking. I’d rather assume that, like everything else in this universe, what you see is what you get — “logic” (if there is such a thing) is just a byproduct of the physics and chemistry that have resulted from whatever event caused the big bang. As there are be places in the universe where physics as we know it breaks down, there could be places where logic also breaks down. (Like, say, R’lyeh.)

Edit: Additionally, science is the objective study of reality. Reality trumps everything, and is the ultimate authority over everything, not science, as science is just our attempt at getting as close an idea about reality as is possible. What’s real is real. What isn’t, isn’t. Studying what’s real gives us a good idea what “real” encompasses. And “real” is not, at present, looking like a property of the specific god you’ve proposed in Yahweh.

Your worldview cannot account for the uniformity in nature, laws of logic and the truths of mathematics, as all of these are rather invisible concepts that have Intelligent implications. Instead you suggest “nothing” turned into “something.” Two contradicting concepts violating the law of non-contradiction, yet you suggest zdenny defies his own logic? You are defying your own logic when you presuppose the concepts mentioned above because your method of understanding our world is using circular reasoning.

I do not suggest “nothing turned into something” at all. I suggest that we don’t know what “caused” the Big Bang (edit: if “caused” is even an accurate word). To say that there was “nothing” before the singularity implies there was no singularity (edit: when it could have existed forever, or could have been a totally different something that makes no sense in the scope of what we understand to be time or space). Since we have little knowledge of the extradimensional branes that we have figured probably exist outside the scope of our universe, they could as easily be both the source for the universe’s matter to seed the initial singularity, or they could be the cause of the big bang, or both. Or they could be a deity. But they’re almost certainly not Yahweh, since none of the other features of your book’s deity could be ascribed to such a being.

Jason’s so called arguments for the support of evolution are filled with regurgitated information I’ve read in science journals, papers, and essays over and over again. None of these provide me with compelling information that somehow in someway everything exists from nothing. The so called “models” provided for the Big Bang and the universe’s existence from non-existence are less and less compelling the more I read.

They don’t have to be compelling if they’re derived from the evidence. You can feel free to prefer reality as determined by the Council of Nicaea a long time ago, but lots of new evidence has come up since then.

And I happen to think that the idea that everything is one long chain reaction from the initial cause, is transcendent and divine, and the honest concerted effort to determine the means and methods of this chain reaction is our lot as a species and our only hope at salvation. If you’d rather hedge your bets on a death cult that says “rape and pillage the land, it’s all yours guys, just worship me and when I come back to destroy the Earth you’ll get to come worship me some more”, you feel free.

I especially like point 12 of vizhnet’s little critique of zdenny’s comments. “It’s about being there for the less fortunate,” This is an absurd claim from your worldview. There are no unfortunate people according to your worldview because no objective value’s exist. This is like a guy who told someone recently , “So you’re saying that I have cancer but God love me!” No, instead the atheist is saying that “you’re a random chance accident and that unfortunately you got the short straw, you’ll soon be weeded out by natural selection and die. Who cares though, your life is meaningless, this universe is meaningless, so deal with it.”

You sure do know how to phrase it so lovingly! Yeah, everything is one long chain reaction, and yeah, in the grand scheme of things a life or two here or there is not particularly meaningful, but in aggregate, we have meaning. We have meaning as a species that’s capable of self-determination and capable of examining and discovering this universe from which we were born. Since you’d prefer a death cult where your life only has meaning if you’re praising the right god come armageddon, of course you’d see this as cold and meaningless. But what makes life worth living is life itself, not some cosmic high-score board afterward. Life, love, fraternity, happiness, and being a benefit to society empirically and objectively; all of these are Earthly pursuits, and the most divine of them all. You can be good with your god, but you can be even better without him.

Wow what a great concept of love! Once again, I will never suggest my atheist cousin doesn’t love me or his daughter. Rather, I am suggesting that his worldview is completely inconsistent with the fact that he loves in the first place. No objective morality, no objective values equal no inner conscious to love, be nice, or do anything of the “good” things we do.

Jason thinks what zdenny believes is “wrong” and what he does is “wrong” yet he has no basis to believe anything is wrong. Wrong doesn’t exist in the atheistic worldview because it isn’t objective. To simply suggest it’s what we commonly accept only transfer’s ones subjective opinion onto a group making it logically impossible.

I covered this earlier, but I’m including the whole comment in its original state just chunked up, so I can’t rearrange.

This blog PROVES your utter disregard for the good of Christianity over history and will obviously place it’s faults under the microscope in 1,000,000 X Zoom so no one can see the murder, rape, war, immorality ATHEIST’s commit on scales LARGER than anyone one religion has caused. Keep on tryin’ to prove to the world that you’re all full of the love that you can’t logically believe in. In the end, it should work out for you right? Natural Selection in a world of meme’s.

Have fun.

Despite your attempt to make religion vs atheism a tally score of who has the higher body count (which you’d lose anyway, no matter which religion you choose, since you have to bend the goalposts significantly to ascribe the major massacres to atheism at all), there are a number of other ways Christianity specifically is extraordinarily evil, not the least of which being that it causes good, intelligent people like you to have large swathes of your mental capacity short-circuited, preventing you from ever accepting reality and the understanding we have of it as derived from evidence. This is the greatest evil of all.

12 comments

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  1. 1
    CyberLizard

    You’re pissing in the wind, Jason. It ain’t going to make a lick of difference to these folks. But keep up the good fight ’cause it gives many lulz to see these theistards get their asses handed to them XD

  2. 2
    Dan J

    ·APPLAUSE·

    Wonderful response, Jason. After reading more of ZDenny’s posts on his blog, and Daniel’s posts over at his, I feel another long diatribe coming on (after the laughter and facepalms subside). But there are other things I need to post about as well, not the least bit related to religion.

    Keep up the great work.

  3. 3
    Vizhnet

    Next! ;-)

  4. 4
    Daniel Maldonado

    http://realtheist.com/?p=334

    My reply. Have fun.

  5. 5
    Daniel

    Did Dan J really look up my IP and google map it? Seriously!? Does he do this often?

  6. 6
    Jason Thibeault

    Daniel: what? Where did you get that idea, that DanJ looked you up at all? I don’t see anything indicating such either here, at his place, at your place or at Vizhnet’s.

  7. 7
    Daniel

    He left a comment on my blog that I didn’t let through making statements about my house and where I live (i.e. on a court, by a golf course). Even though it’s not my current residence, it’s still discomforting. I don’t really have any interest in making personal statements about your guys’ life. I don’t hate you or dislike the least bit even though tensions between us can get rough.

  8. 8
    Dan J

    I left a comment on your “Ultimate Proof” entry (following zdenny’s comment), but it certainly had nothing to do with where you live.

    As you haven’t commented on my blog, I wouldn’t have access to your IP address in the first place, and your IP address would not be enough information to get your street address.

  9. 9
    Jason Thibeault

    That is a bit disconcerting, yes — and I’d be a bit skeeved out about people digging up personal information about me, no matter how easily obtainable I stupidly and regularly make it. That said, information about people is grossly easy to obtain. Fifteen minutes of Google searching would probably net you enough on me to be able to firebomb my house (a bit of a scary thought considering the violent types that support people like Camilla, from that other thread).

    For what it’s worth, no matter how wrong I think you happen to be, I harbor no malice toward you. Nor do I condone making people uncomfortable by searching out personal information on them.

    As for your sur-reply to my reply to your reply to Vizhnet’s reply to Zdenny’s comments (wow)… it’ll come in due course. Suffice it to say, I take exception to all the hand-waving and “that’s just your opinion”. Zdenny trying to say that me and PZ Myers are in disagreement is a bit more ripe a target at the moment, and it needs answering (not the least reason being PZ is not exactly a religious leader and I don’t have to kowtow to him; other reasons include the fact that he and I aren’t actually in disagreement at all).

    As soon as I get some time. It’s in short supply today.

  10. 10
    Jason Thibeault

    A case of purposefully mistaken identity, then? Perhaps, Daniel, you could provide me with the IPs from which this supposed-Dan that hit your moderation posted? I can provide personal contact information if you feel the need.

    For what it’s worth, Dan’s right… just having the IP would net you, at best, what county in what state. It’d take more digging than that.

  11. 11
    daniel

    Dan left two comments same Ip address. One was from Dan j and the other from a “dan” I found my address via website look up rather easily. I changed the information now but still feel kind of weird about it.

  12. 12
    Dan J

    That both comments would have come from the same IP address also concerns me, and the security of my own network. I intend to uninstall the squid proxy server on my router when I get back home, after I check its access logs.

    Thanks for the information, Daniel.

  1. 13
    Err, Lousy Canuck | Real Theist

    [...] recently commented on an atheist blog and received honors at Lousy Canuk’s website for the comment I left.  This is my reply to his reply, as it is rather lengthy and cannot [...]

  2. 14
    zdenny » Blog Archive » Moral Law Contradiction

    [...] Jason disagreed with PZ Meyers stating, “true objective morality is perfectly possible within a social species for the purposes of natural selection and selfishness. A population with no compunctions against eating or killing members of its own species is unstable, and if the killing outpaces the birth rate, will collapse and die out. Thus, natural selection favors populations that are capable of social structure and able to help the least amongst themselves. This is why inhuman acts require that you dehumanize the victims” [...]

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