Prager persuades? Really?

GilDodgen, one of the lead IDiots at Uncommon Descent, recently posted about how he used to be an atheist and was then converted to Christianity — sound familiar? I think atheists must really be underrepresented in the census, because apparently every Christian larva must go through a multi-year developmental stage of intense atheism, by their account. Anyway, he talks about what persuaded him that there is a god, and it was…Dennis Prager. Seriously? I’ve heard Prager, I’ve read his articles, he’s a simpering godbot, and I can’t imagine anyone who attaches the slightest importance to evidence based reasoning being persuaded by that guy.

Two things: first, here’s one of the videos by Prager that Dodgen claims converted him. It’s titled “The most important verse in the Bible” — yeah, that sounds like something that would suck an atheist right in.

The most important verse in the bible is the very first one, which he claims is unique to Judaism and Christianity in that it defines god as something above nature, therefore his religion is the very bestest one of all time. Also, his religion is special because it is the only one that doesn’t have its god coming down to earth and rudely copulating with human beings…Prager is Jewish, so he’s excused, but this is going to be a surprise to all those Christians who believe the Holy Ghost slipped a fertile little ectoplasmic tendril up Mary’s hoo-ha and made Jesus. Furthermore, that first verse tells us that there is purpose in the universe, and therefore it’s the only thing that gives us meaning. It’s pure wish fulfillment: Prager wants an external meaning imposed on his existence, therefore there must be a source of that meaning.

Only an idiot would be convinced by that.

Second, here’s a surprise: there exists something called Prager University. Apparently it’s really easy to create a university: you just say you’ve got one, name it after yourself, and create a website. Presto! Soon I shall have to announce Myers University, which I’m locating in my bathroom.

Prager University is notable for its awesome philosophy.

Prager University offers a wide variety of courses on different subjects. This list is expanding all the time. All our courses share one distinct characteristic — they are five minutes long. We actually believe that great themes can be communicated and understood in a short period of time. Of course, we encourage all our students to enhance their study with additional courses and further reading. We have lots of suggestions for you.

ENROLLING
Enrolling in Prager University is a snap. We just need your name, email address and the city and country in which you live. You can enroll right now by completing the form to the right.

FACEBOOK CONNECT
Share with your friends that you are enrolled in Prager University and invite them to become your classmates.

CREDIT SYSTEM
Rewards and Credits:
Every time you watch a video you receive a credit. Just be sure to log in before you watch a video so that we can credit your transcript. This way you’ll also be able to track the number of courses you viewed and shared.

For every course viewed you will earn one credit. These credits can be applied towards acquiring a Prager University degree.

By sharing videos you will become eligible to enter contests and to earn cash and other prizes.

One course, which gives you one credit, consists of ONE (1) five-minute video on youtube. All you have to do to get a credit is watch it. By this standard, any one of my courses, which involve sitting through an hour-long lecture a couple of times a week for 15 weeks, ought to be worth about 400 credits, instead of the measly 4 we give out. And that doesn’t take into account all the homework, the lab time, or the demand to study for tests and write papers.

But dang, we’re behind the curve here. Prager also gives prizes for contributing in class? This isn’t a university, it’s a joke.

Comments

  1. Maverick says

    The first verse? Seriously?

    For reference, here’s the verse: “In the beginning Elokim created the Heavens and the Earth.”

    Nothing there about any sort of purpose in this creation. Also, nothing on how he created it, or what he does with it (other verses have some of that, but not this one).

    I get the feeling that Prager chose this verse because he didn’t have the mental fortitude to sustain reading the Bible after the first few words.

  2. says

    By “dictionary” definition there is nothing about atheism which a-priori imputes significant intelligence. It’s only the rationalist flavor of atheism which requires some level of intelligence and education, and then only for the activists who are seeking active engagement and challenge.

    In consequence, I’m quite willing to take at face value those who claim they were once atheist who have converted to Christianity or some other religion. It’s a statement which tells us much more about their qualities than those of the beliefs they espouse.

    – TWZ

  3. Louis says

    Ahhhh the old “I used to be an atheist but then…”

    {Smells the heady fragrances of irrationality past}

    Yesssss. Yes. This is a good vintage of utter bullshit. Note the heady vanilla notes and slight aroma of burnt oak. Clearly this was bullshit from the Americas, they have a tendency to over oak the white bullshits I find.

    {Sniffs deeply again}

    Mmmmmm clearly this was bullshit filtered through christianity, look you can detect the amines from the fish scales used to clean the bullshit up.

    {Holds bullshit to light, swirls it}

    Ahhh I see it has legs. This is quality bullshit. It has fermented for a long time. It is unusually effective for a usually weak bullshit. Strange, but potent. It’s possibly been adulterated.

    Louis

  4. Sili says

    Dennis Prager. Seriously? I’ve heard Prager, I’ve read his articles, he’s a simpering godbot, and I can’t imagine anyone who attaches the slightest importance to evidence based reasoning being persuaded by that guy.

    It’s not the reasoning what does it.

    It’s when he jumps on your back and injects the parasite into the base of your skull.

  5. chigau () says

    The most important verse in the Babble is Deuteronomy 23:13

    As part of your equipment have something to dig with, and when you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover up your excrement.
    -NIV

  6. says

    I really don’t think some conservative Christians mean the same thing by ‘atheist’ as I do. I think they might mean, “I didn’t spend as many hours in prayer and worship as I do now.” I don’t think they can possibly mean, “Having made a serious examination of the evidence, I came to the reasoned conclusion that the gods probably do not exist.”

  7. Larry says

    Wow, a degree from Prager U would look really shiny next to my degree in Electrical Engineering from that no-name school located in Palo Alto, CA. And it sounds as difficult to get as collecting the entire set of action figures from boxes of Cocoa Puffs.

    I’m gonna get started TODAY!

  8. Insufficient Cringe says

    Yeah.

    “I used to be <something I don’t like> but now I am <something you should be>”.

    What is the name of that construct? Something people probably learn in Marketing 101. Related to appeal to authority, but something about engorged ego dominating over low self-esteem.

    For those at the back of the class. It is always a lie.

  9. Stonyground says

    My favorite Bible bit is Ecclesiastes Ch.9 Vs.4-10. It basically says that there is no afterlife, when you’re dead you’re dead, so make damn sure that you get a life and live it to the full.

  10. says

    I was not just an ordinary, garden-variety atheist, but a really obnoxious, nasty, self-aggrandizing, pathetically prideful atheist like Dawkins.

    Not agreeing about Dawkins, but clearly he must have been what he says he was, as he’s clearly a really obnoxious, nasty, self-aggrandizing, pathetically prideful theist.

    And wow, Genesis 1:1 says that God is an exceptionally egotistical prick, much like Gildo, but actually capable. That proves God.

    All science so far.

    Glen Davidson

  11. says

    Ooo, the crux of Prager’s argument is that he’s so great that he couldn’t be an unplanned contingency. God must have created him and Gildo.

    Too bad if you want to be a scientist, but if you’re coming up with rationalizations for being an insufferable jerk, Genesis 1:1 is great.

    Glen Davidson

  12. Brett says

    Most of those people like GilDodgen are folks who grew up in devout Christian homes, or at least active ones. They then caught a case of Preacher’s Daughter Syndrome, fell off the wagon for a while, and eventually came back running to Mama – I mean, God. They never were atheists, and never really had an intellectual position of real atheism even when they were.

  13. Helena Constantine says

    Too bad for Prager, Gen 1:1 reads, “When god began to create there was a heaven and an earth” meaning that he worked from pre-existent materials, just like Marduk.

  14. IndyM says

    From Prager “University”‘s course page:

    The more university education a person receives, the more likely he is to hold secular and left-wing views. With an effort to undo these anti-religious views, the following courses give rational, reasonable expression to the Biblical worldview and Judeo Christian values.

    LOLOL. I want a PU degree!

  15. says

    Um. Dennis Prager is Jewish. Gil Dodgen was converted to Christianity by listening to Prager? Something (lots of something) doesn’t compute here. Dodgen owes his renewed faith to someone who will burn in hell (per standard Christian dogma). Very interesting.

    As someone who is on record as strongly disdaining sports, I nevertheless find myself eagerly anticipating the prospect of a rivalry between the great institutions Prager University and Beck University. May I suggest combat football?

  16. IndyM says

    @PZ

    Feel free to locate Myers University in your bathroom, but I promise that nothing will be stinkier than a PU degree.

  17. cag says

    Soon I shall have to announce Myers University, which I’m locating in my bathroom.

    And the only degree that will be offered will be a BS.

  18. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    Nigel,

    That’s it. I’m quoting Bible verses on FB now. That’s a brilliant idea.

    Noooooooooooo! My fb feed is a delightfully bible-free place, don’t crap that up for me!

  19. cag says

    Soon I shall have to announce Myers University, which I’m locating in my bathroom.

    Will you be accepting transfer students who only have a BM?

  20. says

    “that first verse tells us that there is purpose in the universe, and therefore it’s the only thing that gives us meaning. ”
    If there is purpose and meaning in the universe, what is the purpose of that purpose and the meaning of that meaning?

  21. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Only an idiot would be convinced by that.

    well

    GilDodgen, one of the lead IDiots at Uncommon Descent

    right

  22. DR says

    The thing most people seem to have missed is that converted Christians will often claims they were “atheists” not because they didn’t believe in any god before they converted, but because they didn’t believe in the RIGHT god before they converted. For example, someone who was a soft Methodist before conversion will often claim they were atheists, because they didn’t REALLY believe in “God”. You see the wordplay there?

  23. says

    The first verse in the bible is the single most important one, because if that is not the case, if what it says in Genesis 1:1 is not the case, then nothing that follows matters.

    uh, yeah. ok, aside from the fact that some ancient Christians disagreed with that, any atheist, even a dictionary atheist, who heard that, would just shrug and say “well, yeah”. That’s not convincing to an atheist, since you need to care about whether the bible matters for that argument to carry any weight. So probably, he was just a fuzzy non-fundie christian, or maybe like those dutch atheist christians at most.

  24. Loqi says

    Five minutes on youtube is worth a credit? I better tell my university about this, because apparently I waaay overshot that computer science degree and really ought to be refunded for the amount of time and money I wasted on it. If I knew that weekend I spent learning esoteric programming languages for the lols was the same as four years of lectures, I’d have just skipped the whole college thing.

  25. Ibis3, féministe avec un titre française de fantaisie says

    Christians who believe the Holy Ghost slipped a fertile little ectoplasmic tendril up Mary’s hoo-ha and made Jesus.

    According to tradition, the ectoplasmic tendril went into her ear, not her hoo-ha. (Don’t ask me how it was supposed to get from there into her uterus.)

  26. says

    in fact, asie from Heddle, whom at this point I’m willing to believe that he once was a dictionary atheist, I’ve only ever encountered one believable convert to conservative Christianity out of atheism: some dude on RR kept on trying to correct (accurately, which is the important part) the stupid shit the Rapturites were saying about atheists being angry at god etc. So, because this one guy actually knew how atheists behaved and thought, I’m willing to believe he was one.

    Oh, and possibly the Raving Atheist, who converted apparently solely so he could stop having cognitive dissonance about his anti-abortion stance

  27. says

    “The most important verse in the bible is the very first one, which he claims is unique to Judaism and Christianity in that it defines god as something above nature, therefore his religion is the very bestest one of all time.”

    This argument is so frustrating. I recently had the pleasure of sitting in the middle of a circle of Christians who informed me that what makes their religion super super special is that it is not based on a “prophet,” like Islam, but on Jesus, who himself was the embodiment of God, or whatever.

    First, this is historically inaccurate. But even if it wasn’t, who gives a fuck? Adherents to a particular religion seem incapable of realizing that the peculiar metaphysics of their faith do not make intrinsic sense to everyone else or hold any intrinsic wow! factor that everyone else is bound to find compelling. So your crazy story differs slightly from this other crazy story…and this is compelling, why?

    If you think the flavor is very important, it means you’ve already drank a lot of the Kool Aid.

  28. Mike de Fleuriot says


    Soon I shall have to announce Myers University, which I’m locating in my bathroom.

    And If I turn up to Myers U, just for a couple hours, I can bet that I will learn much more than from Prickers U or whatever it’s called.

  29. kiki says

    How To Speak Evangelical, Lesson 268:

    ‘I used to be an atheist’ = ‘I never really gave a moment’s thought to the issue of whether there was a god or not until the first time someone walked up to me and said, “Good day sir, have you ever wondered if Jesus has a plan for you?”, at which point I said “Holy cats, you’re absolutely 100 percent right!” and became a Christian.’

  30. Khantron says

    I was wondering where I heard Prager’s name before and now I know, he was the guy who criticized Keith Ellison for swearing in on a Quran.

  31. kiki says

    The more university education a person receives, the more likely he is to hold secular and left-wing views.

    Well no fucking shit.

    “The more exercise a person takes, the lower their body mass index becomes. Here at Praeger’s Gym we aim to counteract this unbiblical tendency with enforced donut consumption for every five minutes’ exercise.”

    “The more training a person receives, the better they become at a skill. Here at Preager Recruitment we aim to reverse this liberal trend by administering repeated blows to the head at the end of every training session until the candidate’s test scores are lowered.”

  32. Midnight Rambler says

    Regarding atheist “conversions”: you have to remember that a significant proportion of atheists aren’t rationalists like (presumably) the majority of people here, but disbelieve in god for fairly stupid reasons. There are a lot of people who actually are atheists because they’re “angry at god” or otherwise feel that the world indicates that god couldn’t be like what they project it to be. Usually after being tepid believers or having fundamentalism rammed down their throats.

    You could argue whether those people are really atheists, since a lot of them probably think in the back of their minds that there is some kind of deity and just want it not to be there. But since a lot of theists only believe in god because they want to feel that there’s something else out there and not out of conviction, I think we can leave them all as what they self-identify.

  33. says

    “i am too insignificant to have any actual meaning, and therefore there must be an external meaning so that i do have an actual meaning!!” I feel sad to anyone who is not satisfied with a personal meaning of life.
    Five minutes long? It takes me five minutes just to type out this comment!
    “here watch this video” “okay *starts it and plays solitaire while it plays*” Ooh, prizes. And when you graduate, you can spin the wheel to possibly earn a super diploma, or even a triploma! I want to run an experiment, see if you can learn more at this thing or by reading Wikipedia for the same amount of time.
    And yes, Facebook. Clearly the most important part of anything that has anything at all ever.

  34. Dutchdoc says

    .. my interest and expertise in basic science, engineering, and especially highly sophisticated computational algorithms, led me to recognize the ..

    Speaking of being self-aggrandizing and pathetically prideful …

  35. says

    I’ve been wondering about this “No True Scotsman” fallacy atheists keep rambling on about. I think I’ve got it now:

    “No true atheist would ever change his mind and become a theist.”

    “No true atheist would ever find Genesis 1:1 impressive.”

    And here’s an exact quote:

    “Real atheists don’t become Christians and they don’t join any other cults.”

    So those who do, weren’t. Q.E.D.

    You have no idea how such reasoning simplifies that task of historians.

    David

  36. Matthew says

    Two kinds of ex-atheist that I can think of off the top of my head: those who never were, and those who have experienced a personal crisis.

  37. says

    interesting that you had to change “persuasive” to “impressive” to make you faux-point, as well as ignore the acknowledgment that sometimes dictionary atheists do convert, but not all theists who claim to have been atheists are honest about it.

    IOW, you have to bullshit to make your point, thus you have no point. Go troll elsewhere.

  38. says

    “Real atheists don’t become Christians and they don’t join any other cults.”

    So, True AtheistsTM say that, David lackwit? I guess I’m not a True AtheistTM in your mindfuck.

    It’s your usual intelligence and honesty on display here, dumbfuck.

    Glen Davidson

  39. Matthew says

    David Marshall, your post indicates that you don’t understand what is or is not an example of the No True Scotsman fallacy. Look it up again, and see if you can find your error. Hint (so stop reading now if you think you can do it on your own): the difference between being something sequentially vs. simultaneously….

  40. says

    “Regarding atheist “conversions”: you have to remember that a significant proportion of atheists aren’t rationalists like (presumably) the majority of people here, but disbelieve in god for fairly stupid reasons. There are a lot of people who actually are atheists because they’re “angry at god””

    No, Midnight rambler, bring angry with the christian god, if you believe in it, is a very sensible response. Even if it existed, a monstrosity like that wouldn’t deserveto be worshipped.

  41. Forbidden Snowflake says

    Roger:

    No, Midnight rambler, bring angry with the christian god, if you believe in it, is a very sensible response.

    As you have said, it’s sensible if you believe in it. Denying its existence even though you believe in it because it didn’t get you a pony is no more reasonable than believing in a god because you think it might be nice if one existed.

  42. Anri says

    #43:

    I’ve been wondering about this “No True Scotsman” fallacy atheists keep rambling on about. I think I’ve got it now:

    “No true atheist would ever change his mind and become a theist.”

    “No true atheist would ever find Genesis 1:1 impressive.”

    And here’s an exact quote:

    “Real atheists don’t become Christians and they don’t join any other cults.”

    So those who do, weren’t. Q.E.D.

    You have no idea how such reasoning simplifies that task of historians.

    David

    Um, I disagree with the statement that no real atheists ever become religious. I personally haven’t met any, and I suspect that the majority of that type of conversion stories are bullshit, but maybe not.
    When a former atheist, actual or otherwise, gives me a rational reason for such a conversion, then I’ll consider such occurrences worth my time. Hasn’t happened yet, of course, but you never know.

    So, I’m sorry, did you have a point, or did you think this was a hyper-clever gotcha moment for you?

  43. Matthew says

    Roger, if you are “angry at god” then you acknowledge that god exists, no? Similarly, hating religion (because of a bad experience as a kid, for example) also does not mean you are an atheist. Given the god-bothering that goes on in the US, you’d almost HAVE to be atheist as a matter of principle.

  44. Jack van Beverningk says

    From the Prager University website:

    President of Prager University, Dennis Prager, is one of America’s most respected thinkers.

    And Dawkins is the self-aggrandizing and pathetically prideful one?

  45. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    You have no idea how such reasoning simplifies that task of historians.

    You aren’t an historian. You are a proselytizer who tries, and fails spectacularly at this blog, to use history to justify your presuppositions of your imaginary deity and inerrant babble. In other words, a non-intelligent mental wanker with nothing cogent to say.

  46. KG says

    David Brooks Marshall the Liar@43,

    No, most atheists don’t claim, contrary to your latest lie, that no true atheist ever becomes a Christian. Any who do make that claim are simply wrong. I’ll give one example that many here are familiar with: heddle, who used to comment here before the commitment to feminism shared by most regulars (rather than that to atheism) led him to flounce out – and unlike most flouncers, to stick his flounce so far. I doubt that many who read his comments over a long period question that he had indeed been an atheist. We would indeed think he was wrong about the cause of his conversion – it seemed fairly obvious to me that it resulted from falling in love with and marrying a Christian, whereas he, of course, attributed it to the Holy Spirit – but that he had been an atheist, and one who had actually thought about the issue, I never saw reason to question. Nor do I recall anyone else doing so, though I could be wrong.

    What most of us do believe is that many evangelising Christians who claim to have been atheists were never anything of the kind – and this is generally based on their own testimony, in which it turns out that they were brought up as Christians, stopped praying and going to Church, perhaps for some years, and then had what they interpret as a direct experience of God. They then decide that they didn’t really believe in God until this happened, and interpret this former state as atheism.

  47. says

    Glen: “So, True AtheistsTM say that, David lackwit? I guess I’m not a True AtheistTM in your mindfuck. It’s your usual intelligence and honesty on display here, dumbfuck.”

    LOL! I was quoting “Human Ape, #26.” Evil of me, I admit: directly quoting an atheist in this very thread to show that the premise of the thread is based on a particularly clear example of the most trendy “fallacy” in the Gnu arsenal.

    But don’t worry, Glen. You’re among friends, here. You don’t have to show that you follow the argument, notice the bright lights all around you, or even tie your shoe laces correctly. Just mumble on.

  48. says

    Anri: If you want to meet a lot of Christians who used to be atheists, I suggest you visit a few communist countries. (Not that there aren’t some here, too.)

    I’m putting together an anthology right now; so far at least of the contributors were solid atheists before they converted to Christianity and became missionaries or evangelists. One actually taught communist philosophy in the Peoples’ Liberation Army.

  49. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    I’m putting together an anthology right now; so far at least of the contributors were solid atheists before they converted to Christianity and became missionaries or evangelists. One actually taught communist philosophy in the Peoples’ Liberation Army.

    I’m sure it will tear up the best seller list like your other, um, works.

  50. Kagehi says

    My favorite Bible bit is Ecclesiastes Ch.9 Vs.4-10.

    I think I just saw the next atheist billboard. lol I mean, seriously, if they think quoting Bible bits means something, quote back. This is perfect. Just needs a bit of something else added. Like, “For those that imagine prayer working, or rewards in an after life, here is what your Bible has to say about that:” Or, something to that effect.

  51. usagichan says

    David marshall @56

    Indeed, #26 wrote

    Real atheists don’t become Christians and they don’t join any other cults.

    Just by definition, real athiests can’t become Christian (they would be ex-athiests) or for the same reason join any other religious cult… of course the use of a dictionary definition of athiest could be regarded as a little disingenuous, but far less so than the habit of the religious of quoting out of context – perhaps Ape’s missing the qualifier “religious” from cult confused you?

    As for ex-Communist conversions – Those that have a chance to do something that had been forbidden all their lives jump at it, and exchange one dogma for another – the certainty of Communism is destroyed so they reach for another “certainty” to remain in their comfort zone. And we should be surprised at this?

  52. says

    What a sad thing to read, people converting from what is often a pseudo-religion for its believers, Communism, to real religion, from one irrational belief to another.

  53. Tim DeLaney says

    The “I used to be an atheist, but …” gambit is about as believable as “I used to be a strict vegan, but now I am an avid deer hunter, and I eat raw, freshly killed venison every chance I get.”

    Not impossible, of course, but it doesn’t have the ring of truth. There are examples of well known atheists changing their minds, but generally not to fundy Christianity. (Google “Antony Flew” for an example.)

  54. David Hart says

    Slightly tangential, but I am now actively involved in the drug policy reform movement (a ‘legaliser’, if you will, but we would rather express it in terms of legalisation-plus-regulation than mere liberalisation). When I was at school I was, in retrospect, a passionate prohibitionist, assuming that if these substances were dangerous to use then it was obvious that people shouldn’t be allowed to use them – indeed it was a baffling mystery to me why alcohol wasn’t on the list of banned drugs. I can’t say exactly when I ‘converted’; my views on the subject underwent a shift too gradual for me to notice, as I became aware, piece by piece, of the death and destruction that the war on drugs causes, which I hadn’t been told about as a child. So anyway, the point is, I can understand a similar thing happening with religious conversion and not being dishonest (while aware that it sometimes is dishonest).

    Though to be fair, I don’t think I’ve ever used the ‘I used to be a prohibitionist like you’ argument in debate with anyone.

  55. Miki Z says

    Insufficient Cringe @ #8:

    What is the name of that construct? Something people probably learn in Marketing 101. Related to appeal to authority, but something about engorged ego dominating over low self-esteem.

    I like to call it ex post ficto, but I don’t know if there’s a standard name for it.

  56. Tim DeLaney says

    @ David Marshall:

    In the former Soviet bloc, professing atheism was de rigueur, and it wouldn’t surprise me if there were many closet Christians among Soviet bloc “atheists”.

    I’d be interested if you could point to any publicly professed atheists in the USA who converted to born again Christianity. (Sorry, Kirk Cameron doesn’t count.)

  57. says

    LOL! I was quoting “Human Ape, #26.” Evil of me, I admit: directly quoting an atheist in this very thread to show that the premise of the thread is based on a particularly clear example of the most trendy “fallacy” in the Gnu arsenal.

    Yes, dumbass, I knew very well that you were generalizing from one example. Fallacious moron.

    But don’t worry, Glen. You’re among friends, here.

    Even better, most here are neither as stupid nor as dishonest as yourself.

    You don’t have to show that you follow the argument,

    Actually, fuckwit, a single example isn’t an argument.

    You need remedial thinking.

    notice the bright lights all around you, or even tie your shoe laces correctly. Just mumble on.

    Here’s a fact, shithead. You didn’t bother with the fact that my example (I explicitly did accept Gildo’s conversion prior to your dimwitted comment) destroys your “argument,” even though such a fallacy didn’t require disproof by my example.

    You didn’t make an argument, and you just lie that you did. I undercut your lie, and you didn’t follow. But if you didn’t have nothing projection of your dumbassery to rely upon, you’d have nothing at all. Not that your stupidity beats nothing at all, you’re even too dumb to realize that.

    Glen Davidson

  58. says

    So anyway, the point is, I can understand a similar thing happening with religious conversion and not being dishonest

    did you just compare going from a non-empirical worldview to an empirical one (i.e., becoming less ignorant) to religious conversion? Even if we assumed most dictionary atheists are simply ignorant of religion, how is the conversion and act of becoming less ignorant?

  59. says

    Evil of me, I admit: directly quoting an atheist in this very thread to show that the premise of the thread is based on a particularly clear example of the most trendy “fallacy” in the Gnu arsenal.

    oh yeah; quoting an idiot who sees the world in simplistic black-and-white terms is totes proving something about all the other people in this thread.

    If you want to meet a lot of Christians who used to be atheists, I suggest you visit a few communist countries.

    I spent the first third of my life in one and still know people from there, and I assure you, atheists have not been converting in droves; rather, religionists that were previously practicing in hiding or were closet-believers have come out in the open. the only actual believers in communism there were actually opportunists though, so those “converted” to the next power-source the moment communism fell (i.e. Catholicism, in the case of Poland)

  60. Anri says

    Anri: If you want to meet a lot of Christians who used to be atheists, I suggest you visit a few communist countries. (Not that there aren’t some here, too.)

    For the record, I consider any state-mandated position on the magic sky fairy, either for or against, to be as asinine as the Roman Senate voting Augustus to be a demigod.

    I have no idea if those officially declared atheist by their government honestly and thoughtfully self-identified as such. I will say that assuming they were strikes me as naive at accepting an Imam’s statement that homosexuality does not exist in his country.
    Does anyone actually believe that the communists states were truly successful in banishing religion from the hearts and minds of their citizens? I sure don’t.

    But again – what’s your point? I was specifically saying that I don’t doubt that conversions such as this do happen. What part of what I’m saying do you dispute?

  61. Acronym says

    Countdown to Gil Dodgen posting at UD….

    “Oh my, I seem to have stirred a hornet’s nest at Pharyngula!”

    “I am Dawkin’s worst nightmare”

    “I can speak French”

    “I can play the piano”

    “I use LS-DYNA at work so i’m not stupid”

    “Darwinism is transparent nonsense, intellectually bankrupt and clearly in its death throes…”

    …..etc.

  62. HairyChris says

    Riiight. This guy really is a bit of a tit, isn’t he?

    I’m trying not to facepalm myself to death.

  63. says

    I didn’t see it mentioned above, but has anyone checked out their graduation requirements?

    GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS:
    We don’t have enough courses yet to offer a degree, but we will get there soon. However, you’ll get credit (see above) for the courses you do take. When we’re ready to offer our degrees, you’ll be in the first graduating class!
    –http://www.prageruniversity.com/enroll.html

  64. Midnight Rambler says

    LOL! I was quoting “Human Ape, #26.” Evil of me, I admit: directly quoting an atheist in this very thread to show that the premise of the thread is based on a particularly clear example of the most trendy “fallacy” in the Gnu arsenal.

    Because our resident morôn provocateur is supposed to be representative of atheist thought?

    The main purpose of Human Ape is to remind everyone else here that the religious don’t have a complete monopoly on stupidity and bigotry.

  65. says

    Tim #66: One of my contributors was an American atheist before conversion, a big fan of existential philosophy, Marx, plus a little dabbling in Zen; not that unusual. Another (a scholar probably more than half the people here would recognize, and would admit has contributed substantially to human understanding), called himself an agnostic, which often edges up against atheism in practice. But admittedly, in the US, conversion stories to atheism are probably more common right now, than the other way around, for some of the same reasons that conversion stories from atheism to Christianity are more common in China.

    Jadehawk: Which country is that? If I implied that they are all the same, or that I know the situation in all of them equally well, then my mistake.

  66. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    While I have no doubt there are some atheists who converted to Christianity, I strongly suspect that this number is a whole lot less than the number of Christians who claim to be ex-atheists. That’s because Lying for Jebus™ is a well respected and well practiced tradition among many Christians, particularly when they’re proselytizing to the heathen.

  67. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Yawn, poor DBM, per usual, sounds a bit deranged, a bit of a liar and bullshitter, and a bit presuppositionalist. After all, if he was a person of honor, truth and integrity, when he had his chance to prove his imaginary deity deity existed, he would have done so with conclusive physical evidence. Lacking that conclusive physical evidence, which (surprise) was the case, he would have shut the fuck up. After all, if you can’t put up, and can’t shut, all you can do is lie and bullshit, and DBM is well practiced in his lies and bullshit. That should be obvious to the most casual observer…

  68. says

    Jadehawk: Which country is that?

    lol

    anyway, again: you’re arguing against a strawman if you think most atheists disbelieve that there can ever be converts out of atheism to christianity. it happens, it just doesn’t happen as often as evangelical christians would like us to believe

  69. says

    Let me try to make my point a little clearer.

    Atheists often appeal these days to the so-called “No True Scotsman” fallacy. But often they do so on much weaker grounds than one could with #26, or even Myer’s OP.

    For instance, if I say that Ander Breivik was not (as Myers called him) a “fundamentalist Christian,” or a Christian at all, I will likely be accused of committing NTS fallacy. That’s even if I give independent reasons for thinking he was not in fact a Christian in any meaningful sense — see my second-to-last blog post, where I do so. Someone did accuse me of NTS for that post, as I recall.

    But Myer’s OP gives NO historical and precious little other reason to doubt that this Prager fellow was once an atheist. True, unlike #26, he is not so crude as to directly claim he couldn’t have been one; but the insinuations cling to the OP like seaweed to the oars of a tangled row boat off Alki point. This appears a much clearer instance of NTS than many that I have seen called as such. It may sound paradoxical, but people seem to feel the force of an argument more strongly when its to their back, than in their faces.

  70. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Yawn, still no solid evidence his imaginary deity exists, or his babble is inerrant, from the liar and bullshitter DBM. Must be a character defect, which can’t recognize the truth in the form of lack of solid and conclusive physical evidence when it is in his face. And if it can’t see the lack of evidence, what makes it think its presuppositional bullshit and lies are convincing…

  71. Zmidponk says

    David Marshall #43:

    I’ve been wondering about this “No True Scotsman” fallacy atheists keep rambling on about. I think I’ve got it now:

    “No true atheist would ever change his mind and become a theist.”

    “No true atheist would ever find Genesis 1:1 impressive.”

    And here’s an exact quote:

    “Real atheists don’t become Christians and they don’t join any other cults.”

    So those who do, weren’t. Q.E.D.

    You have no idea how such reasoning simplifies that task of historians.

    Actually, I think you’ll find many atheists, perhaps even most of them, actually accept there were some atheists who actually did convert to Christianity, or some other religion, mainly because atheists are such a diverse bunch, it’s impossible to say it cannot be the case that there is no atheist anywhere who is gullible/idiotic enough to fall for the bullshit spouted by religions and religious folk. This diversity is also why you do get some atheists who make the, frankly, idiotic claim that no atheist ever converted (though I’m not entirely sure that’s what Human Ape was claiming). However, what is even more idiotic is to take such claims and use them to say that ALL atheists claim this, like you have, mainly because all that is required to disprove this is for other atheists to come along and admit that it happens – as has happened in this very thread.

    The original point of the blog post is that, when you get an evangelising religibot who publicly announces or proclaims themselves to be an ex-atheist, and uses this supposed conversion to try to argue in favour of their religion, which is a startlingly common event, fairly often, to an actual atheist, what they say about their supposed ‘atheism’ exposes them to be either confusing ‘slightly less serious about my religion’ with ‘atheism’, or simply lying about ever being an atheist. In Dodgen’s case, we have the claim that a video about ‘the most important verse in the Bible’ converted him. To an atheist, the Bible is completely unimportant, and most simply view it as, at best, an interesting book of fairy tales and myths (personally, I wouldn’t even say that about it – even as fiction, it’s a badly written mess), so a video espousing Genesis 1:1 as the most important passage in it is no more likely to convert an atheist than a similar video about the most important passage in J.R.R. Tolkien’s works would convert an atheist to the worship of Ilúvatar.

  72. bookworm says

    Helena Constantine @15

    Not quite. In the Hebrew the verb is in the completed aspect (past tense in this case), and ‘the heavens and the earth’ are introduced with direct object markers. But, the morphology of the first word usually translated ‘In the beginning’ could be stretched to ‘In a beginning …’

  73. Audley Z. Darkheart OM (OS), purveyor of candy and lies says

    Hey, David Marshall!
    Sell any books this week, you best-seller you?

  74. Chris says

    And what’s the MOST important part about the MOST important verse in the bible that Prager is “forgetting” to mention?
    THAT verse was written by a HUMAN,subject to a biased interpretation by a HUMAN,and chosen to be the first verse by a HUMAN.And of course because Humans are privy to what “god” knows and are completely infallible that verse is above all skepticism and must be taken at face value…cough!…choke!…

  75. says

    There are atheists who might be persuaded by Prager’s crap, but they’re the shallow type — dictionary atheists.

    The kinds of atheists who wouldn’t be impressed at all are those who are atheists because they have a deep philosophical commitment to evidence-based reasoning. The reason we can confidently say that our kind of atheist would not be convinced by his act is that 1) he presents no evidence for his god, and 2) his reasoning is poor and illogical, relying entirely on the subject falling for something he wishes were true.

    This is not to say that atheists can’t become Christians…just that the approach Prager takes is aimed more at existing Christians and looks very, very silly to atheists.

  76. michael says

    Atheists converting to Christianity – I think it works like this: Young fundamentalists turn into rebellious teenagers and stop going to church for a few years, but they never give up their belief in god and eventually they decide the time has come to be born again. That is the point (they say) when they became committed Christians and before that time they were not “true believers” – which means they must have been “unbelievers” aka “atheists”.

    Some of them probably think they really were atheists – others just repeat the fiction because they know it sounds good when they are called upon to testify.

  77. ekwhite says

    David Marshall:

    Assuming that GilDodgen was once an atheist and converted to Christianity, what does that prove? I was once a devout Southern Baptist before I became an atheist. Does that disprove Christianity?

  78. Anri says

    Let me try to make my point a little clearer.

    Atheists often appeal these days to the so-called “No True Scotsman” fallacy. But often they do so on much weaker grounds than one could with #26, or even Myer’s OP.

    Because, and I think we can agree on this, Christians often invoke ‘No True Scotsman’ in explaining away actions they are uncomfortable with in people who self-identify as being part of their faith.
    Just as soon as we no longer have Christians saying ‘Because he was a bad guy, he can’t be any part of my wonderful faith’, we’ll stop calling bullshit on it. Deal?

    For instance, if I say that Ander Breivik was not (as Myers called him) a “fundamentalist Christian,” or a Christian at all, I will likely be accused of committing NTS fallacy. That’s even if I give independent reasons for thinking he was not in fact a Christian in any meaningful sense — see my second-to-last blog post, where I do so. Someone did accuse me of NTS for that post, as I recall.

    Without getting too involved in the specifics, you can always set the definition of ‘Christian’ to mean any given thing at any given time to include people you like or exclude people you don’t like. In fact, it seems to be a very common practice. And, of course, these definitions are inconsistent and mutually exclusive, in many cases.

    The problem arises when we try to make any assumptions about what being a ‘Christian’ actually means. In other words, what’s the difference between a term with a myriad individual, exclusive, internal definitions and a term with no useful meaning at all?

    But Myer’s OP gives NO historical and precious little other reason to doubt that this Prager fellow was once an atheist. True, unlike #26, he is not so crude as to directly claim he couldn’t have been one; but the insinuations cling to the OP like seaweed to the oars of a tangled row boat off Alki point. This appears a much clearer instance of NTS than many that I have seen called as such. It may sound paradoxical, but people seem to feel the force of an argument more strongly when its to their back, than in their faces.

    Actually, the point of the OP is that the verse cited isn’t compelling or convincing, as evidence by this bit:

    Only an idiot would be convinced by that.

    He’s not saying that Dogen wasn’t an atheist. He’s saying that if Dogen found that argument compelling, he’s an idiot. He’s saying the these ‘one-verse-conversion’ stories read like Jack Chick Tracts – and are just as believable.

    Let’s try this: Do you find this story convincing?
    Do you find it to be reasonable that upon reading the first verse of the bible, an atheist (who apparently had been completely ignorant of the bible previously) would slap his head and convert?

    Does any of that sounds remotely likely?
    Really, you don’t have to answer here, just turn it over in your head a bit.
    Is it impossible? No, of course not.
    But – like all other claims – we must ask: is it likely?

  79. Scott Simmons says

    Irony: the advertisement which showed up in my Google Reader newsfeed attached to this blog post was for Liberty University. “Earn the degree you always wanted,” the ad copy says, clearly unaware of the mockery it was being subjected to by being delivered in this context.

  80. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    The first line of a 2500 year old creation myth that some Hebrew priests stole from the Babylonians is the most important verse in the Bible? That’s like saying the most important line in Star Wars is “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”

    I would have thought something from the crucifixion or the Sermon on the Mount would be more important. Something like “blessed are the cheesemakers.”*

    *Well, obviously it’s not meant to be taken literally; it refers to any manufacturers of dairy products.

  81. says

    kiki #38:

    “The more exercise a person takes, the lower their body mass index becomes. Here at Praeger’s Gym we aim to counteract this unbiblical tendency with enforced donut consumption for every five minutes’ exercise.”

    I know this is off-topic, but this analogy is not only factually inaccurate (‘normal’ body-mass index is not correlated to good health; in fact, the body-mass index itself uses flawed mathematics), it promotes fat-shaming. In future, please refrain from using analogies that promote marginalizing — and in many cases unhealthy — cultural norms.

    anyway, again: you’re arguing against a strawman if you think most atheists disbelieve that there can ever be converts out of atheism to christianity. it happens, it just doesn’t happen as often as evangelical christians would like us to believe

    Nor does it have the intellectual rigour that they claim it to have, or that the Christians would like us to believe it has, and it indicates that the position of atheism was based on a similarly intellectually bankrupt position — if it was a conscious position at all, or if it even was atheism.

    The key here is that the argument that ‘converted’ the ‘atheist’ is — like any attempted conversion tactic — something we’ve seen before. In this context, a ‘true atheist’ would be someone who has analyzed their position and dealt with such arguments, for being converted on such arguments betrays the same ignorance held by the religious folk. As always it is religious thinking, not religion itself that is the key focus.

  82. says

    I know an atheist who converted to christianity, because his girlfriend was into it and she had the sex he wanted. So he went to church and all that kinda stuff. Of course, he didn’t really believe it, but how many christians actually do? I’d say he was probably more sincere about his religion than most of them because he was lying for temporal bliss, whereas they’re lying for an afterlife of eternal bliss. Otherwise you have to say that there’s some kind of litmus test of faith that makes you a “true christian” or not, which, if you think about it for a second, is pretty giggle-worthy. :)

    As someone else pointed out Anthony Flew also appears to have become a christian. He appears to have been suffering from dementia but that’s also no more or less “real” than my friend who was suffering from skirt frenzy.

    I’ve a good friend who is a mormon and once played the “I used to be an atheist party animal” card on me. He said, quite honestly, that he was in love with the woman who is now his wife, and cleaned up his act, started following church rules, and became a more stable provider to increase his marriage-worthiness. That’s my rewriting some of his description of what happened, but it seems fairly typical. Now when someone says “I was an atheist but…” I usually interpret it as either that they decided to conform with some social norm or other that they associate with religion (in my friend’s case that meant giving up the booze) or that they never really thought about it and finally made a decision what they are willing to claim publically to believe. This, I think, is why so many believers find Dan Dennett’s arguments about religion to be so unsettling. He’s basically pointing out to them that they’ve chosen to position themselves in a fractal space of highly personal beliefs that are probably unique to them – which means “kiss your certainty goodbye.” In the case of my friend, I merely asked him how it was he knew he was a mormon (believed everything mormonism says) versus that he knew he liked this particular woman (wanted to do whatever it took to get her) That was the end of that discussion.

  83. The Stranger says

    I love how Prager practically spits out the word copulate as if holding the word too long on his lips will cause them to burn off.

  84. says

    Addendum – wouldn’t it be fair to say that anyone who “converted to christianity” because of, say, Pascal’s Wager wasn’t really a believer – that they were more of a nonbeliever that was hedging? So that knocks a lot of “believers” off the table right there.

  85. Pierce R. Butler says

    Huh. After recent events in Montreal, I’d hoped that provo-trolls using the initials DM wouldn’t show up on these pages for a while. *sigh*

    However, this is Pharyngula, and it still only takes one p-t to derail a thread – despite the best efforts of those like that naive optimist in # 87.

  86. David Marshall says

    PZ: I don’t, probably, know Prager as well as you do. But conversion is often less about a single telling argument, than a Eureka moment at which things begin to click and facts and lines of reasoning that have been working away at you for some time come together — like a koan. Maybe that’s what happened in this case?

    Zmidponk: “However, what is even more idiotic is to take such claims and use them to say that ALL atheists claim this, like you have.”

    When? Where?

    Anri: I suggested a possible explanation to PZ above; but I’m only speculating, not knowing the man.

    Purveyor of candy and lies: “Sell any books this week, you best-seller you?”

    Actually, I’m kind of busy writing them, right now. It amuses me though that some people think my aim in posting here is to hawk books — my advice is, don’t go into sales, you’ll be sadly disappointed.

  87. Moewicus says

    Gil Dodgen’s fuller conversion story, such as it is, is available here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/author-gil-dodgen-discusses-his-loss-of-faith-in-adulthood/

    Short and to the point, at least. Apparently he decided materialism didn’t make sense–as a child?–and then listened to Dennis Prager for a long time and at some as-yet-undefined time became a christian. Apparently the real light-bulb moment for him is a story that sounds like utter bullgeschicte:

    I remember saying to a scientist, “I don’t get it. I read a book that said there was an explosion known as the Big Bang, and that all the laws of physics were fine-tuned to make life possible. Wouldn’t this require design and purpose?” Unfortunately, the response I got was, “Only mindless, uneducated religious fanatics ask that question. It was all an accident. Stop asking stupid questions.” But I wasn’t mindless, uneducated, or a religious fanatic. I was an atheist!

    Some scientist actually said that? I doubt any scientist would say “it was all an accident”. That is moron-speak for “god can’t not have didit”. He goes on to say:

    A light went off, and I said, “Materialism doesn’t make sense. Design and purpose in the cosmos makes much more sense to me.” And I just gravitated away from atheism.

    So he gravitated away from atheism after reading some books as a kid? Or as an adult? This would seem to contradict his later account:

    I was not just an ordinary, garden-variety atheist, but a really obnoxious, nasty, self-aggrandizing, pathetically prideful atheist like Dawkins. I prided myself in using my intellectual capacities in an attempt to destroy any belief that materialism cannot explain everything.

    If this is true, why didn’t he ever look more deeply into the nonsense about fine-tuning? What Richard Dawkins-style atheist listens to Dennis Prager for 20 years? This guy’s story doesn’t add up. Which isn’t to say it couldn’t if he clarified the chronology. I for one can’t see anyone with any intellect finding anything Dennis Prager says convincing. Clearly he did not take pride in mocking this nonsense because Prager’s stuff is pathetic. Prager University is like driving up to a suburban lemonade stand, complete with cute backwards Es and everything, and finding it staffed by a couple of 40 year-old men. It’s just embarrassing for everyone involved.

  88. Ibis3, féministe avec un titre française de fantaisie says

    @David Marshall

    This isn’t a no true Scotsman fallacy on the part of the atheists here. It’s an equivocation on the part of the believers. When the word ‘atheist’ is used by Christians in this context (i.e. “I used to be an atheist, but I converted.”), they usually don’t mean that they were an atheist in the sense used by both atheists *and Christians* in other contexts. They usually mean that they were indifferent to religion or had only some vague belief in God or a “Higher Power”. They don’t mean that they had carefully considered the evidence, researched various religions, thought about it, and finally came to the conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to support the claim that any gods exist. Converting to religion from the first state of mind is mind-numbingly ordinary. But they use the word atheist because it disingenuously brings to mind the second state of mind–which is that of most *professed* atheists. When Christians denounce and condemn atheists they are certainly using the second definition, not the first.

    This is why atheists get angry when Christians say they were atheists prior to conversion. Because they’re usually lying (by pretending 2 when they mean 1). Why don’t they just say “Before I converted, I didn’t know what I believed.” or “I used to be apathetic about the existence of God.”? Because the PR value isn’t as good.

    [[To be perfectly fair, some Christians have been taught and believe that there is no such thing as definition number 2 atheists--that anyone claiming to have concluded there is no God (a short form for the number 2 position), is actually lying and is only just really, really angry at God...or is a depraved sinner and wants an excuse to sin. That's not what *they* mean when they say they were atheists either though.]]

  89. raven says

    The first verse in the bible is the single most important one, because if that is not the case, if what it says in Genesis 1:1 is not the case, then nothing that follows matters.

    So why is this idiot a xian then?

    The first verse is just fiction written by iron age sheep herders. It has nothing to do with reality. It just says goddidit, the all purpose nonexplanation of lazy theists.

    We know the universe is 13.7 billion years old and the Big Bang happened. Since we look back in time with our telescopes, we can see it.

    Oh well, look on the bright side. 1.5 million people dropped off the church roles last year. They leave in order of best and brightest first. Obviously Dodgen is neither the best nor the brightest. US xianity is slowly dying. I used to be a xian myself until the fundies woke me up and drove me out of the religion.

  90. Forbidden Snowflake says

    Occam’s Blunt Instrument,

    Addendum – wouldn’t it be fair to say that anyone who “converted to christianity” because of, say, Pascal’s Wager wasn’t really a believer – that they were more of a nonbeliever that was hedging?

    Not really, because that presumes a clear divide between really believing shit and putting on an act. There isn’t. People have psychological tactics for persuading themselves of things, for keeping doubts at bay and for living with cognitive dissonance. Does the phrase ‘fake it ’till you make it’ sound familiar?

  91. Moewicus says

    The “Four Big Bangs” video that Dodgen links to is also good for a laugh. Watch as a former professional baseball player misunderstands Anthropology, Psychology, Biology and Cosmology in rapid succession! That kind of performance can only come from a true athlete and a razor-sharp intellect.

  92. says

    Why is it none of these ex-atheists can actually point to the evidence that convinced them? The testimony’s are always a kin to the “This is when I fell in love with Doctor Who” stories.

  93. Francisco Bacopa says

    Almost everyone who claims to have been an atheist before becoming a Christian is lying. There’s a whole “my sins were horrible”aspect to Christian conversion. People will confessto worse sins than they ever did in real life because that makes them more special. The more sins you have, the more God’s grace has worked in your life.

    In more intellectual circles the worst sin is atheism, so many will present themselves as former atheists to make themselves seem grace-saved badasses.

    Claiming to be a former atheist gets you the adulation of peers.

    There might be some people who struggled with faith and rejected the faith of their youth when they converted to their new strain of religion. They might describe their struggling period as atheism.

  94. elwoodius says

    You can’t use reason to argue someone from a position they didn’t use reason to get into … or somesuch, from someguy, sometime.

    So while not impossible to convert an atheist (one who has thought about it) – it would be pretty bloody unlikely, given the extraordinary claim/extraordinary evidence burden.

  95. erikfrombc says

    Didn’t Father Guido Sarducci have a 5 minute university? I recall it being a great comedy routine.

  96. Ibis3, féministe avec un titre française de fantaisie says

    @84 Maybe so (I have no Hebrew, so I’ll take your word on it), but the rest of the first creation myth clearly shows the Elohim working with materials that were already there. I just did a brief rundown of the thing over on another site:

    The Elohim shape the world from already existing stuff, the order following a pattern familiar to those who know Sumerian religion. The wind sweeps over the waters (the primordial ocean). Light is separated from dark, a dome is used to separate the water into two: above the sky (the water that lies beyond the dome is what later falls to earth as rain of course) and below it . Below the dome, water and earth are separated and the earth generates plants. Then two large lights and lots of small ones are created and set in the sky dome. Then come all of the animals generated by the earth, and finally humans (presumably also from the earth), fashioned to resemble the gods. Humans are put in charge, and the gods take a weekend.

    That might as well be a summary of the start of the Sumerian theogony. It would be interesting to know if there is any etymological connection between the words used here for waters, wind, heaven etc. and those used in Sumerian or Akkadian/Babylonian sources where they are associated with gods.

    In any case this Prager guy seems completely ignorant of the mythological antecedents of his precious bible.

  97. Ibis3, féministe avec un titre française de fantaisie says

    @ raven #101

    The first verse is just fiction written by iron age sheep herders.

    It’s a toss-up. The Elohist was likely of iron age sheep herder stock, but the source material was lifted from a bronze age or perhaps even copper age farmer.

  98. says

    Not really, because that presumes a clear divide between really believing shit and putting on an act. There isn’t. People have psychological tactics for persuading themselves of things, for keeping doubts at bay and for living with cognitive dissonance. Does the phrase ‘fake it ’till you make it’ sound familiar?

    Yeah, but if they believed in an all-knowing god, the god would know they were faking it, even if they didn’t. I guess that what I’m saying is that the only real “believers” are the ones that are completely faith-addled past the point of even being rational enough to consider Pascal’s Wager (which anyone with any sense wouldn’t consider at all, so I’m setting the bar super low here)

  99. se habla espol says

    the only real “believers” are the ones that are completely faith-addled past the point of even being rational enough to consider Pascal’s Wager (which anyone with any sense wouldn’t consider at all, so I’m setting the bar super low here)

    I beg your pardon, OBI: once upon a was, I was a preteen. I spent a lot of that time, 7-10 yo, trying to make sense out religions, with an eye towards eventually picking one. This included thorough readings of the Wholly Babble, attending Sunday Schools, Sunday Services, Sunday evening meetings, and Wednesday evening things, at various congregations of various christianities.
    During that time, I independently reinvented Pascal’s Wager, considered it, and thoroughly demolished it. Seems like I was 9 or 10 at the time. I didn’t even know PW had a name until I was over 60. To the kid I was, it seemed an obvious strategy to consider, and an equally obvious ploy to dismiss.
    Super low bar? At 7 yo, my standard reading test scores said I was reading at college level (grade 13+). That’s why reading the Wholly Babble was no big deal. That, too, would point towards that kid having at least a modicum of sense.
    None of the christianities, or any other religions I encountered, ever made any sense.

  100. Anubis Bloodsin III says

    Anyone who claims to have been an atheist before deciding to drool after jeebus is just a rather shallow, incredulous cretin of a dimwit and not particularly worthy to be given much in the way of attention.

    Atheism is reason based in the real world…either some one has lost their reasoning ability or they had naff all to begin with and paid nothing around them much attention apart from how to gain personal advantage from it.
    The first glittery shadows has flitted by on the wall and dumbfuck has gone scampering after it like a not particularly bright puppy!

    Load of fucking bollox, these fuckers are light weight flotsam and jetsam of the exaggerated kind.

    He was never an atheist he just never thought about it…possibly far to busy pocking his nose or watching intertube porn!

    They all claim this turgid conversion tale it must be a particularly xian meme and they are told to trot out this verbal crap as a kind of initiation ceremony to test their true resolve to spout utter balderdash without blinking!

  101. Owlmirror says

    Anthony Flew also appears to have become a christian vague and confused deist.

    Fixed.

  102. Sneak says

    er, before being welded together by Charlton Moses, weren’t the separate entities of Yahweh and Elohim storm and mountain gods? Or something?

  103. KG says

    For instance, if I say that Ander[s] Breivik was not (as Myers called him) a “fundamentalist Christian,” or a Christian at all, I will likely be accused of committing NTS fallacy. – David Brooks Marshall the Liar

    He is* certainly not a fundamentalist Christian. He just as certainly is a Christian: not only does he self-identify as such, his voluminous screed is full of Biblical quotations, aimed at justifying his planned atrocities; and while he says he himself does not have a “personal relationship” with Jesus, he makes it clear that he accepts that other people do, which no non-Christian could believe, because Jesus, assuming he existed**, has been dead for nearly 2,000 years. So yes, you are indeed guilty of the NTS fallacy.

    It’s worth saying that the pathological hatred of Muslims and leftists that motivated Breivik is also found among atheists, including some who have frequently posted at Pharyngula. It is this far-right populism, not Christianity, that primarily bears any blame for the atrocities that goes wider than Brevik, but this does not change the fact that he was, and as far as we know is, a Christian.

    BTW, do stop using “Myer’s” as the possessive of “Myers”. Correct is “Myers’”, or “Myers’s”.

    *Interesting that you say “was”: the man is still alive, and we have no reason to believe his convictions have changed. I’ve done the same myself, I admit.

    **For the record, I provisionally accept the scholarly consensus that he did.

  104. Anubis Bloodsin III says

    Flew was a perfect patsy for the Un-intelligent design mafia!

    Being elderly and slipping into his dotage certain xian apologists went to work eliciting a geriatric gem out of a previously avowed fairly famous atheist.

    It stank of a set up…Primarily by Varghese and subsequently Habermas exaggerated the confusion of Flew’s language.

    Seemingly it was a combination of Schroeder’s fine tuning debacle and Varghese reportedly had fed the ID line about DNA origin and confused Flew with semantics…then when the brown and smelly hit the whirly thing a nominally puppeteer-ed Flew was moved to blame Dawkins for not being specific!

    Flew got very confused and very grumpy about it not realizing the potential damage he had wrought on the world of philosophy.
    Simply because his confusion muddled not only his language but his intent.

    Seems Flew got very embarrassed about being mislead and tried to regain his credentials and only managed a rather pathetic flip flopping…he had backed himself into a corner…Xians skipped away well pleased…!

    Evidence that Xians have little to absolutely no integrity when pimping for souls!

  105. Sneak says

    @116, oh yeah, aside from her, Exodus 6:2-5 states Space Ape tells Heston that Yahweh and Elohim (I think, could be El Shaddai – I hope so, the sand worms of Arrakis are boss) are the same deity but the patriarchs were unaware of this. I always figured that was a convenient edit to get more goatherds from the other team on board.

  106. Bookworm says

    Ibis3 @108. Happy to agree with you, for the most part. I was only quibbling against a translation that stretched the text just a bit far. But that says nothing to the fact that creation myths ended up in Genesis. As far as individual words go, it would again stretch it to denote additional meaning to ‘earth’, ‘heaven’, ‘water’ or even ‘spirit/wind’, since they are so common, but again this doesn’t discount wholesale borrowing. Even the difficult phrase in v2 that suggests an empty nothingness, if you’ll forgive the tautology, doesn’t speak to any uniqueness, since The Akkadian crearion myth Enuma Elish has earlier parallels. And Elohim is a plural noun, but again that doesn’t mean much, since it’s paired with a masculine singular verb. But what it doesn mean is that if this guy used the first verse of Genesis to convert, he should be rights have converted to an Akkadian religion.

  107. Anri says

    #98:

    Anri: I suggested a possible explanation to PZ above; but I’m only speculating, not knowing the man.

    From where I stand, you’re not ‘offering an explanation’, you’re accusing people of intellectual dishonesty/laziness and hypocrisy.
    See, like this (#56):

    LOL! I was quoting “Human Ape, #26.” Evil of me, I admit: directly quoting an atheist in this very thread to show that the premise of the thread is based on a particularly clear example of the most trendy “fallacy” in the Gnu arsenal.

    Now, if you’re suddenly saying ‘Ah, well, wait, maybe a lot of atheists don’t accept that, and I don’t mean to accuse them of anything, this just struck me as ironic…’ than suck it up and say so.
    If, on the other hand, you’re just ‘trying to have an interesting debate’, please look up the term ‘JAQing off’.

  108. M says

    It cracks me up that religious nuts never quite seem to figure out that atheists don’t belief in their holy book.

    They have this weird and small-minded mindset where they think everyone either beliefs in their religion, or secretly beliefs in their religion and is being rebellious or something.

    I think maybe atheistic intellectual rigor is confusing the poor things. They take the fact that many atheists say they cannot disprove their god to mean they are open to the possibility. Where in truth moth atheists belief in Yahweh just as much as they belief in Santa or Goblins.

    (In fact if you’d ask me. Goblins are MORE probable then Yahweh, because Yahweh has all these weird logical contradictions about his omni powers, whereas the idea of short green humanoids breaks far less laws of physics, as silly as it is.)

  109. Zmidponk says

    David Marshall #98:

    Zmidponk: “However, what is even more idiotic is to take such claims and use them to say that ALL atheists claim this, like you have.”

    When? Where?

    Well, I’ll put it this way – that’s what your first post implies, you have done nothing that corrects that implication thus far, and, if you accept that the claims you have highlighted do NOT represent the position of atheists universally, your argument has no point. So you’re either making an argument that is wrong, or pointless. Which is it?

  110. Scott says

    The god-squad types always say they were atheists and then became born again, but I wonder if they were really atheists. Either they’re lying or their definition of atheism is pretty loose. I suspect the former.

  111. speedwell says

    And then again there’s my 94-year-old grandmother’s case. (Bear with me on this, I have a point.)

    Born Jewish (to the extent that makes sense) and raised atheist, Grandma was an atheist until the age of 83 or thereabouts. Then God afflicted my mother with cancer as a way of bringing her mother to Christ. Over the next few years Mom provided Grandma with evidence of God’s saving power as Mom maintained her faith in spite of her trials. Mom went miraculously into remission as a proof of the power of prayer. When the cancer came back a couple of years later, Mom realized that she hadn’t completely convinced Grandma, and she worked on Grandma’s heart until Grandma prayed with her and accepted Jesus into her heart. A few years after that, Mom died, secure in the knowledge that she had won her mother’s soul for Christ.

    Of course, that’s not how Grandma describes it.

    At Mom’s funeral, I told Grandma, with some trepidation since I had only heard Mom’s side of the story, that I was an atheist. Grandma’s response, “Yeah, well, so am I.” After a short, stunned silence, I asked her why Mom said that Grandma converted. Grandma said, nonchalantly, “Oh, yeah, that, well, the praying and the Sunday stuff, it got me out of the house and it made your mother happy. I didn’t really take any of that bullshit seriously. It just meant so much to your mother when she was sick.”

    Team Grandma FTW. :)

  112. Dianne says

    Mom went miraculously into remission as a proof of the power of prayer.

    Hmmph. Once again god gets all the credit for a remission, not the people who actually worked for it. For example, speedwell’s mom, who I’m sure did the vast majority of the work that brought her to remission, even temporarily.Why don’t cancer patients ever give themselves credit for beating (or at least beating back) their disease?

    Speedwell, I’m sorry for your loss. Your grandmother sounds like a wonderful woman. May she be one of the 120 year survivors of the deadly disease called birth.

  113. Tim DeLaney says

    I’d like to suggest a convention:

    atheist: One who lacks belief in any god, but rarely gives the matter any serious thought, and is generally unwilling to discuss the matter in any detail–sometimes referred to as apatheism.

    Atheist: one who rejects belief in god for reasons s/he can articulate, but who rarely engages in the question by, say by reading the Bible with a critical eye. The Atheist generally believes that religion is a harmless fiction, but not a fiction that cries out for debunking.

    Atheist: one who rejects belief in god, and furthermore holds that fervent belief in god and religion does incalculable harm to humanity. The Atheist is familiar with such thingas as Pascal’s Wager, the problem of evil, the common arguments for theism and their refutations, and so forth. S/he is an activist at least to the extent of blog participation, and sometimes much more (attending conferences, supporting organizations, and the like). Atheists are generally more supportive of PZ than of Phil Plait, but not always.

    I don’t suppose this convention will catch on, and I would certainly agree that there are gradations between each type. But I would confidently assert that an Atheist converting to a born again Christian is probably as rare as the creature in Pharyngula’s banner here on FTB.

  114. Jim Mauch says

    This reminds me of a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln. A reporter asked him what he thought of his opponent’s ideas.

    He said: “He has dived down deeper into the sea of knowledge and come up drier than any other man I have known”.

    Whether Lincoln actually said it or not this is the quote I think of when I hear the obscure theology the people pass off as rational thought

  115. says

    chigau (#5)

    That reads so much better in the KJV

    And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:

    And you missed the most important part: the reason, in the very next verse, for all this sanitation:

    For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp…

    and you know how gods hate to step in crap.

    Or do they?….

  116. David Marshall says

    Ibis #100: Some of your comments make sense, but this is not part of the definition of atheism:

    “They don’t mean that they had carefully considered the evidence, researched various religions, thought about it, and finally came to the conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to support the claim that any gods exist.”

    This again suggests at least an attenuated form of NTS fallacy: judging an empirical claim about a particular member of a sect by one of that sect’s ideals, that one thinks ought to apply to members in general.

    Maybe there are some atheists somewhere who are this objective, but careful and objective research into religion is certainly not an essential part of what the word “atheist” means, arguably less so than “loving, not murdering, your enemies” is an implicit part of what “Christian” means. (Since “atheism,” like “theism,” only defines what one thinks, not how one comes to think it, or what one does about it.)

    As for Christians “lying” about having once been atheists, who knows what a person once thought better than the person who thought it? Maybe some Christians are lying, but if you’re going to make the claim stick, you’ll need better evidence to support it than I have seen in this thread so far.

  117. Terry says

    Prager is just wrong about copulating gods. Just check out Genesis 6:1-4 angels of God taking women as wives and producing a race of giants. In fact, if you read on, this very god/human sex fest is the cause of the Biblical flood!

  118. David Marshall says

    Zmidponk: I neither said, “implied,” nor even thought that “all atheists claim that no atheist ever converted to Christianity” — a strange and ridiculous generalization.

    But you know that; you just don’t want to admit the error, apparently.

  119. KG says

    certainly not an essential part of what the word “atheist” means, arguably less so than “loving, not murdering, your enemies” is an implicit part of what “Christian” means. – David Brooks Marshall the Liar

    Nothing can be “less so” than “not at all”. Claiming that loving one’s enemies is an implicit part of what “Christian” means is the epitome of the NTS fallacy – and indeed, of dishonesty – as it enables just about any Christian to be excluded from the definition when that is convenient for propaganda purposes.

  120. Zmidponk says

    David Marshall #136:

    Zmidponk: I neither said, “implied,” nor even thought that “all atheists claim that no atheist ever converted to Christianity” — a strange and ridiculous generalization.

    OK, I will accept that I was incorrect in my understanding of your argument. So your argument’s not wrong, just pointless. Thanks for clearing that up.

  121. Hypatia's Daughter says

    #133 richardelguru
    There are a”Chariots of Iron” Wiki & a podcast (in honor of Judges 1:19 – “And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.”)
    Next up: “Latrine Shovels of The Lord”.
    I never could figure out how a god who made everything could find anything he made “unclean”…..

  122. Michael S says

    I guess someone who is completely ignorant of all things could still be considered an “atheist.”

  123. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    No, David Marshall, you’re wrong again (but then you’re usually wrong when you’re bloviating about atheists). It’s not a NTS when Ibis said that the kind of “atheist” who decides to Come To Jebus™ isn’t the type who:

    …had carefully considered the evidence, researched various religions, thought about it, and finally came to the conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to support the claim that any gods exist.

    There are many types of atheists. There are the ones described by Ibis who have seriously considered the question of god(s) and decided, on the lack of evidence for such critters, they almost certainly don’t exist. There’s other kinds who have come to atheism for emotional reasons. Often they’re angry at god or have issues with the church they were previously affiliated with or just became lukewarm, non-observant goddists. Dodgen was likely one of these latter kind, the ones who never rejected gods but stopped actively worshiping them.

    Most if not all of the Pharyngula atheist regulars are the type of atheist described by Ibis. We ask ourselves “is it likely I’ll become a goddist?” and the answer is emphatically “No.” We also ask ourselves “is it possible I’ll become a Jebusite goddist, worshiping the sadistic bully described in the Bible and preferring a 2500 year old myth to reality?” and the answer is “not only no but FUCK NO!”

    We also have had numerous instances of goddists, particularly fundamentalist Jebusites who do worship the sadistic bully described in the Bible and prefer a 2500 year old myth to reality, who come to proselytize at us. Often these goddists will announce “I used to be an atheist but then I found Jebus.” Often in discussion with them we discover they were originally Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879 and, after a period of sleeping late on Sundays, they are now members of the Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915. And then there’s the out-and-out Liars for Jebus™ who think that lying for Jebus doesn’t count as a sin because it’s for Jebus’s sake.*

    As a result of these things, we tend to be skeptical when some goddist proclaims their prior atheism.

    *Most Liars for Jebus™ have never heard of St. Augustine, let alone his treatise On Lying. Augustine talks specifically about Liars for Jebus™:

    Wherefore, from the doctrine of religion, and from those utterances universally, which are uttered on behalf of the doctrine of religion, in the teaching and learning of the same, all lies must be utterly kept aloof. Nor can any cause whatever be found, one should think, why a lie should be told in matters of this kind, when in this doctrine it is not right to tell a lie for the very purpose of bringing a person to it the more easily. For, once break or but slightly diminish the authority of truth, and all things will remain doubtful: which unless they be believed true, cannot be held as certain. It is lawful then either to him that discourses, disputes, and preaches of things eternal, or to him that narrates or speaks of things temporal pertaining to edification of religion and piety, to conceal at fitting time whatever seems fit to be concealed: but to tell a lie is never lawful, therefore neither to conceal by telling a lie.

  124. Ibis3, féministe avec un titre française de fantaisie says

    @bookworm

    And Elohim is a plural noun, but again that doesn’t mean much, since it’s paired with a masculine singular verb.

    We know that the original story was about gods. The plural for the proper pronoun suggests that some memory of the original context is retained. The Elohim (in the closely related Canaanite religion) were the family of El, i.e. the pantheon of gods. Was the Elhoist or his immediate source a monolatrist or henotheist? I think there is significance here. Once a person starts investigating the history of the text, seeing it in the light of an evolving culture, it no longer has the sheen of being unique or even special.

    But what it doesn mean is that if this guy used the first verse of Genesis to convert, he should be rights have converted to an Akkadian religion.

    Do you mean “does” or “doesn’t”?

  125. says

    Hypatia’s Daughter

    Thanks for the links (would they be pseudolinks, like pseudocode?). Interesting.

    I think that a lot of the divine “Ewwwww!” stuff comes about because the unclean whatever was created by a different god.
    And you know how jealous those buggers can be.

    btw
    sorry about your Mum.

  126. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    Since David Marshall wants to know how we know if someone is Lying for Jebus™ or not, if they are it becomes obvious in their comments. Some guy says “I studied evolution and accepted it but now I embrace GODDIDIT.” Then discussion about evolution reveals their knowledge of it is on a par with their knowledge of written Sanskrit. Likewise when questioned about their previous atheism they’ll make vague evasions about why they didn’t believe.

    There’s a saying in the National Football League: “As a player you can bullshit the spectators but you can’t bullshit the other players.” Many Liars for Jebus™ think our knowledge of evolution, goddism (Jebusism in particular) and other topics is on a par with their knowledge of written Sanskrit. They’re often shocked to discover they can’t bullshit us, no matter how hard they try.

  127. CJO says

    We know that the original story was about gods. The plural for the proper pronoun suggests that some memory of the original context is retained. The Elohim (in the closely related Canaanite religion) were the family of El, i.e. the pantheon of gods. Was the Elhoist or his immediate source a monolatrist or henotheist? I think there is significance here.

    Genesis 1 is a P text (P for Priestly) in the standard Documentary Hypothesis. The “Elohist’s” writings, it is believed, had already been merged with the J text into a composite by the time P was written. Why P has Elohim in Gen 1 is that P never uses “Yahweh” in the narrative before that name is revealed to Moses. Even though the roots of the Hebrew religion are certainly in Canaanite polythesism, Elohim probably really was a singular proper noun for the author(s) of P, a title rather than a personal name, taking a meaning something like “God of gods”. That certainly leaves henotheism open as a possibility, though, for otherwise who are these other gods for Elohim to be God of?

  128. Anri says

    There’s a saying in the National Football League: “As a player you can bullshit the spectators but you can’t bullshit the other players.” Many Liars for Jebus™ think our knowledge of evolution, goddism (Jebusism in particular) and other topics is on a par with their knowledge of written Sanskrit. They’re often shocked to discover they can’t bullshit us, no matter how hard they try.

    This.
    The number of people (mostly faithful, though there are some exceptions) that expect us to be Chickian Atheists* is astounding.
    I suppose there might be some people in the western world that are honestly unfamiliar with the general outline of the story of Christianity – but these people must be vanishingly rare.
    A number of people appear to honestly believe in one-verse-conversions – I wonder if that’s because that’s how they remember their own experience? I can certainly say that my atheism was a step-by-step process, many years in the making, and still less than perfect.

    Hmm, I seem to have lost track of my point, and I’m maundering, so I’ll just stop here.

    (*As in Jack Chick, of course.)

  129. speedwell says

    I am happy to report that my energetic, snarky, take-no-prisoners, bottle-redhead grandmother’s two most serious health problems are high blood pressure and depression (the latter much less so since she decided to become more socially active in her retirement community). She plays penny poker with a group of 70-year-olds she calls “the old ladies.” She will quite likely outlive me. I wish you all could meet her. :)

  130. Ibis3, féministe avec un titre française de fantaisie says

    @David Marshall

    I’d say that you missed my point entirely, but I don’t think you did. I think you’re just being wilfully obtuse because it suits your purpose.

    Most of the time, when Christians and professed atheists use the term atheist, they mean to refer to people like Dawkins & Hirsi Ali & PZ & Benson (as well as most of us): people who have rejected the God(s) hypothesis because they don’t find it credible.

    Currently, in common use, this is the definition used by all parties. The equivalent common use definition for a Christian would be: people who believe that Jesus was the son of God who died for our sins.

    Let’s imagine for a moment that I wanted to marry someone whose parents were religious and couldn’t bear the thought of their darling boy or girl getting married outside of a church. It would be equivocation on my part to go to the minister and say “Yes, I’m a Christian.” Technically, by another definition of Christian, I am one because I was baptised Catholic and have never been officially excommunicated. Surely, you would agree though that I was being dishonest. Why? Because everyone would assume I meant that I was a believer, not that I merely have the technical credentials. Someone pointing out my dishonesty would not be using a NTS fallacy.

    We aren’t denying that both definitions are valid in their own way, but deceitfully using one when you’re implying you’re using the other is lying.

  131. speedwell says

    To add a bit to what ‘Tis said about how to tell when someone is a “Liar for Jesus”…

    I hold that a person is lying who makes a statement claiming, as a fact, something that they can’t possibly know to be true. Whether or not they actually believe what they claimed, whether or not they hope it is true, whether or not it even is true or not, it is something that they cannot know.

    Therefore, any Christian who claims to speak on behalf of God, or who claims to have spoken to God, or who claims to have been saved, or who claims that their prayer has been answered, or who claims God loves them or other people, or who claims God “makes” them do or feel or think anything, or who claims any of the other purely internal things Christians claim to “know” in a purely spiritual way, is a liar. They may have emotional states to which they are referring, or they may hear voices, or they may earnestly wish for a God of love and power. But their claim to be able to know such things is false and a lie.

  132. Ibis3, féministe avec un titre française de fantaisie says

    Genesis 1 is a P text (P for Priestly) in the standard Documentary Hypothesis.

    My mistake. I was looking at this late last night and forgot that this was P and not E. Thanks for the erudite correction.

  133. raven says

    psalm 82:

    God presides in the great assembly;
    he renders judgment among the gods:
    deleted for length

    6 I said, You are gods;
    you are all sons of the Most High.
    7 But you will die like mere mortals;
    you will fall like every other ruler.”

    The early OT is filled with polytheism. In psalm 82, god threatens to fire his brother gods. Thee is no record that he actually managed to do so though.

    The OT writers also got rid of his wife, Asherah. No wonder the OT Sky Monster was so cranky. Despite claims of how powerful he is, he couldn’t even keep a bunch of sheep herder humans from disappearing his own wife.

    Amusingly, considering the fundies fear of the word “evolution”, the literary analogous process occurs often in the bible. You can see it in god changing from the humanoid and not very powerful OT Sky Monster to the abstract more benign and omni-everything god of the NT. Also in the invention of the afterlife, rise of satan, disappearance of human sacrifice, and creation of hell.

  134. Vicki, running low on patience says

    I don’t think it’s useful to include “can’t know to be true, but believe because of internal states” as lies in the “lying for Jeebus” sense. The liars for Jebus are the ones who tell stories about being ex-Muslims who were trained for Jihad before they converted, when that has no relation to their actual life histories.

    When people claim to be ex-atheists when they mean they didn’t go to church often, or were of a different denomination, they’re lying. But someone can conclude “there is no god” not based on careful examination of the data, but because some priest said “god will cure your mother’s cancer if you pray,” and they pray, and their mother dies anyhow. (By itself, that’s evidence against the power of prayer, but “prayer won’t change medical results” doesn’t prove “there are no gods.”) If that person said “I used to be an atheist, I’d be inclined to believe them: I don’t quiz people who say they’re atheists on why. (I don’t usually quiz self-identified believers on their reasons, either, outside a forum like Pharyngula.)

  135. raven says

    (I don’t usually quiz self-identified believers on their reasons, either, outside a forum like Pharyngula.)

    We know that anyway. It isn’t even necessary to ask.

    The vast majority of xians are xians because their parents were. Any number of studies and common observation shows this beyond any doubt.

    Children born to xians end up xians.

    Children born to Moslems end up Moslems.

    Children born to Hindus end up Hindus.

    It’s not inevitable, but the correlation is very high.

  136. speedwell says

    Vicki, if there is a sense in which someone can be called a liar without rancor, that is the sense in which I mean it. Liars in this sense are people who make a claim that something is a fact when they don’t, even can’t, know that it is a fact. They are saying something contrary to the truth in a context where they are attempting to persuade somebody else that what they are saying is the truth, and that they have definite authority to make the claim.

    In other words, it would be a lie for me to say “Schrodinger’s cat is dead.” It would also be a lie for me to say, “Schrodinger’s cat is alive.” It would not necessarily be a lie to say, “Schrodinger’s cat is probably dead, given that if the scenario described a real event at all, the cat was placed in a box with a fair amount of radiation in 1935, and presumably left there well past any cat’s ordinary lifespan.”

  137. speedwell says

    I just made the selfsame mistake when I said “contrary to the truth”, above. They are not necessarily making a claim contrary to the truth; they are simply making a claim that something is the truth when they don’t have any knowledge about the correct truth value of the claim.

  138. Qwerty says

    I went to the website and there is a video on how the Vietnam war was won and then lost.

    This is some idiocy that I’ll have to check out when I have time. Of course, the self-deluded will always find a reason to believe the unbelieveable.

  139. bookworm says

    ibis3 @ 142: thanks for the correction; my bad (it was late at night here). And absolutely agree with you that the Genesis text is not unique or even special. From a Hebrew language point of view, it’s even highly unlikely even that whoever wrote/redacted Genesis 1 didn’t write Genesis 2, but the fundies wouldn’t have that as an option.

  140. Owlmirror says

    From a Hebrew language point of view, it’s even highly unlikely even that whoever wrote/redacted Genesis 1 didn’t write Genesis 2,

    I think you have one too many negations in there.

    (Genesis 2 is definitely a J text, starting from about verse 5.)

  141. bookworm says

    Yep, one too many indeed. Having a great day of typos and grammatical inconsistencies. Really need to put the wine down when I type. Ta for the correction.

  142. David Marshall says

    Tis Self #141: Of course there are “many varieties of atheists;” one of the reasons I take an interest in the phyla — it’s a jungle over here.

    But my point was correct. Ibis claimed that “most professed atheists” are as she described:

    “They had carefully considered the evidence, researched various religions, thought about it, and finally came to the conclusion that there was insufficient evidence to support the claim that any gods exist.”

    This is plainly wrong. For one thing, “most professed atheists” today live in China (where 77% say they have no religion), and have with only rare exceptions done any such thing. Nor (with all due respect) do I think many western atheists fit this description.

    I’m sure most Pharyngula regulars are, as you say, well-educated; but the dispassion and objectivity that Isis also assumed, and PZ seems to as well, are a little hard to buy, and I’ve been reading atheists probably for longer than some posters here have been alive.

    The world is full of liars. I’m often called one myself, when duller skeptics (of whom, observe, there are plenty here, too) find something I say incredible, and choke on a more coherent answer no doubt stuck in their gullets. Atheists often make much of pre-conversion superstitions, too; likely some exagerrate. But words like “atheist” and “Christian” have fuzzy boundaries. I don’t even accuse Anders Breivik of “lying” when he calls himself a Christian, I just say he uses the word incoherently. Some skeptics seem to love to throw that word “liar” around. In some cases, I ultimately conclude that they’re projecting, or deflecting.

    Thanks for the Augustine quote. I haven’t read that treatise, though sometimes cite his similiar quote on foolishly representing science.

  143. David Marshall says

    Ibis: Some Christians may intentionally equivocate in the way you describe. My main point is simple: you can only tell that someone is “lying” about having once been an atheist, if you have historical evidence that he never was one, not if you think you can punch holes in one of the arguments by which he purports to have come to faith.

    But, of course, if you just like throwing the word “liar” around for fun, have at it!

  144. 'Tis Himself, pour encourager les autres says

    The world is full of liars. I’m often called one myself, when duller skeptics (of whom, observe, there are plenty here, too) find something I say incredible, and choke on a more coherent answer no doubt stuck in their gullets.

    You’re right, Marshall. You’re often called a liar but not because people refuse to admit you might be right about something. You’re called a liar because you tell lies.

    Now I know you’re going to call me a “duller skeptic” or some such nonsense because you refuse to admit that you tell fucking lies about atheists. After all, it pains you that the vast majority of atheists live happy, fulfilling lives without The Big Guy In The Sky. You find it annoying that these atheists don’t give you and your belief in TBGITS the respect you think you and it deserve. And you’re dismayed that the Pharyngula commentariat treats you as a figure of ridicule because of your belief in TBGITS. So you tell lies about us. It’s human nature. If I was as forlorn as you, if I was disdained by intelligent, educated people, and if I felt beholden to a sadistic, bullying Big Guy In The Sky with the maturity of a spoiled six year old, then I’d tell lies too.

    BTW, I notice you ignored the evidence that we expect goddists to lie to us. After all, just because so many of them do tell obvious lies, like pretending to have been atheists when they’ve been nothing of the sort, is no reason to call them liars. You certainly agree.

  145. Ing says

    The world is full of liars. I’m often called one myself, when duller skeptics (of whom, observe, there are plenty here, too) find something I say incredible, and choke on a more coherent answer no doubt stuck in their gullets.

    how about the ones that call you an idiot for not understanding reason?

    “You don’t know the answer so I can make up an answer that fulfills all the criteria needed to solve the problem and thus claim it is plausible”

  146. chigau () says

    richardelguru @133
    I chose the NIV because it contains the word “excrement”. *snigger*
    —-
    The subsequent verses are about God™ merely looking at the poo not actually stepping in it.
    —-
    This is old news because I was without internets for about 24 hours.
    And I Survived!

  147. KG says

    The world is full of liars. I’m often called one myself – David Brooks Marshall the Liar

    I call you a liar because the very first post from you I saw here was dishonest:

    My books are scorned by semi-literate, angry atheists, and praised (so far universally, with the one known exception of Hector Avalos) by people with Phds in many fields, regardless of their views — including some atheists.

    I found a clear counterexample: an excoriating review from someone who was clearly neither an atheist, nor semi-literate. David Brooks Marshall the Liar later pretended his claim had been quite different:

    But as far as I know, no CHRISTIAN (the original claim) has posted any such thing of any of my books.

    That was not the original claim, as can be seen by anyone who cares to look; so this was an outright, barefaced, shameless lie. David Brooks Marshall is a proven liar, and I shall continue to point this out until he apologises for lying and promises to stop it, at least in his posts here.

  148. KG says

    Tsk – I have myself made a false statement at #169. It was not the very first post I saw from David Brooks Marshall the Liar: on checking, I find there a couple of prior posts from him on the same thread. I apologise for this inaccuracy, and for not checking that before posting. Now if David Brooks Marshall the Liar can show that he similarly admitted and apologised for his false statement about his original claim once I pointed out its falsity, I will apologise to him for saying his false statement was a deliberate lie.

    I note that on the same thread David Brooks Marshall the Liar lied that “groupthink” is rife on Pharyngula, with PZ as “Puppet Master”. There are numerous Pharyngula threads on which regular posters argue furiously among themselves, and tell PZ he’s wrong. If David Brooks Marshall the Liar had a shred of integrity, he would apologise for this lie also.

  149. Brownian says

    I note that on the same thread David Brooks Marshall the Liar lied that “groupthink” is rife on Pharyngula, with PZ as “Puppet Master”. There are numerous Pharyngula threads on which regular posters argue furiously among themselves, and tell PZ he’s wrong. If David Brooks Marshall the Liar had a shred of integrity, he would apologise for this lie also.

    As far as self-described historians go, he’s an incredibly shitty one. He’s a intellectual coward, and so are his Christian fans.

  150. KG says

    Moreover, it’s thoroughly chortleworthy that a self-styled “scholar” who thinks the correct possessive form of our esteemed host’s surname is “Myer’s”, should accuse anyone of being “semi-literate”.

  151. says

    I beloved up to you will obtain performed proper here. The sketch is attractive, your authored subject matter stylish. nonetheless, you command get got an edginess over that you wish be turning in the following. ill surely come more earlier once more as precisely the same nearly a lot often inside case you defend this hike.