Shit Internet Apologists Say: Whiny anti-gay marriage medley!


Forgive the link dump, but I have just been cleaning up my Non-Prophets News document in preparation for tonight’s show (tune in live!) and I didn’t want to let go of a special segment that was brimming with schadenfreude.

If you’re not listening to The Non-Prophets: Well first of all, you should be. Second of all, I do this regular segment called “Shit Internet Apologists Say!” in which I do a dramatic reading of some recent over-the-top ridiculousness by a religious blogger or columnist, and the other hosts help to pick it apart.

Of course, on the last episode gay marriage had recently become the law of the land, so I did a Very Special Episode where I scattered this stuff in bits and pieces throughout the episode. I don’t keep these news stories forever; however, this batch deserves to be saved for posterity. Some of these I didn’t even get to finish reading.

The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic. … “The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality.” (Really? Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality [whatever that means] were freedoms? And if intimacy is, one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie. Expression, sure enough, is a freedom, but anyone in a long-lasting marriage will attest that that happy state constricts, rather than expands, what one can prudently say.)”
Not surprisingly then, the Federal Judiciary is hardly a cross-section of America. Take, for example, this Court, which consists of only nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School. Four of the nine are natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single Southwesterner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count). Not a single evangelical Christian (a group that comprises about one quarter of Americans), or even a Protestant of any denomination. The strikingly unrepresentative character of the body voting on today’s social upheaval would be irrelevant if they were functioning as judges, answering the legal question whether the American people had ever ratified a constitutional provision that was understood to proscribe the traditional definition of marriage.
June 26, 2015, is a date which will live in infamy.

It is a day on which behavior which is an abomination in the eyes of a holy God was normalized, promoted, celebrated and imposed on a nation built on the foundation of the Judeo-Christian tradition. On this day, the United States become Sodom and Gomorrah.

On June 26, 2015, I saw Satan dancing with delight. For this is the day the music died in the United States of America.

The homosexual lobby, the Gay Gestapo, has drawn an equivalency between support for natural marriage and racism. To oppose sexual deviancy is, in their twisted, contorted and devious thinking, no different than supporting slavery and segregation.

“This ruling is not about marriage equality, it’s about marriage redefinition. This irrational, unconstitutional rejection of the expressed will of the people in over 30 states will prove to be one of the court’s most disastrous decisions, and they have had many. The only outcome worse than this flawed, failed decision would be for the President and Congress, two co-equal branches of government, to surrender in the face of this out-of-control act of unconstitutional, judicial tyranny.”

“The Supreme Court can no more repeal the laws of nature and nature’s God on marriage than it can the law of gravity. Under our Constitution, the court cannot write a law, even though some cowardly politicians will wave the white flag and accept it without realizing that they are failing their sworn duty to reject abuses from the court. If accepted by Congress and this President, this decision will be a serious blow to religious liberty, which is the heart of the First Amendment.”

But I wasn’t especially troubled by the progressive lynch mob and their vulgar, wretched, hateful “love.” I’m used to it. I’ve been more concerned by the large number of self-proclaimed Christians and conservatives who’ve repeatedly informed me that the whole gay marriage issue isn’t important. “It won’t affect us,” they tell me over and over again. 

I’m not proud to say it, but I feel an immense disgust for these Apathetic, Weak, Oblivious, Scared, Distracted, Impotent, Frivolous, Christians And Conservatives (AWOSDIFCACs for short).

The “it doesn’t affect us” mantra has become one of the more common, and absolutely the most damaging, idea circulating through the ranks of the defeatists. It’s a gross and ridiculous lie.
Since the ’90s, approval of divorce, premarital sex, and out-of-wedlock childbearing have climbed steadily, and the belief that children are “very important” to marriage has collapsed. Kennedy’s ruling argues that the right to marry is essential, in part, because the institution “safeguards children and families.” But the changing cultural attitudes that justify his jurisprudence increasingly treat this safeguard as inessential, a potentially nice but hardly necessary thing.

In this sense, the gay rights movement has won twice over. Its conservative wing won the right to normalcy for gay couples, while rapid cultural change has made the definition of normalcy less binding than the gay left once feared.

In vain social conservatives have argued that this combination isn’t a coincidence, that support for same-sex marriage and the decline of straight marital norms exist in a kind of feedback loop, that an idea can have conservative consequences for one community and revolutionary implications overall.

This argument was ruled out, irrationally, as irrational, but it probably wouldn’t have mattered if the courts were willing to consider it. Too many Americans clearly just like the more relaxed view of marriage’s importance, and the fact that this relaxation makes room for our gay friends and neighbors is only part of its appeal.
“Friday, the United States Supreme Court again ignored the text and spirit of the Constitution to manufacture a right that simply does not exist. In so doing, the Court weakened itself and weakened the rule of law, but did nothing to weaken our resolve to protect religious liberty and return to democratic self-government in the face of judicial activists attempting to tell us how to live.

“It is important to note that any clerk who wishes to defend their religious objections and who chooses not to issue licenses may well face litigation and/or a fine. But, numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs, in many cases on a pro-bono basis, and I will do everything I can from this office to be a public voice for those standing in defense of their rights.

“Texas must speak with one voice against this lawlessness, and act on multiple levels to further protect religious liberties for all Texans, but most immediately do anything we can to help our County Clerks and public officials who now are forced with defending their religious beliefs against the Court’s ruling.”

“The Supreme Court has abandoned its role as an impartial judicial arbiter and has become an unelected nine-member legislature. Five Justices on the Supreme Court have imposed on the entire country their personal views on an issue that the Constitution and the Court’s previous decisions reserve to the people of the States.

“Despite the Supreme Court’s rulings, Texans’ fundamental right to religious liberty remains protected. No Texan is required by the Supreme Court’s decision to act contrary to his or her religious beliefs regarding marriage.”

 

Thanks for tuning in, everyone. If you have Non-Prophets news or shit apologists say to share with the show, please tweet any time with the hashtag #NonProphetsNews.

So don’t forget to tune in later this evening for another exciting episode of Shit Internet Apologists Say: “It is Sinful for Men to Wear Kilts!” (Hat tip to David Fitzgerald, noted atheist historian and kilt wearer, whom I just spent time with at the Gateway to Reason convention.)

Comments

  1. Narf says

    Really? Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality [whatever that means] were freedoms?

    Well, the first amendment certainly covers one of those, and the other one is an interpretation of the fourth amendment, with the right to privacy.

    Not surprisingly then, the Federal Judiciary is hardly a cross-section of America.

    This whole rant is so idiotic. You pull from the available pool of lawyers and jurists.  Is it our fault that the most qualified ones aren’t evangelical Christians, in part thanks to the anti-intellectual leanings of those groups?  Isn’t it the political right that’s always railing against tokenism, and yet he wants tokenism in this instance, when it benefits him?

    I always knew Scalia was a hypocritical windbag, but this is bad, even for him.

  2. Narf says

    It is a day on which behavior which is an abomination in the eyes of a holy God …

    And plenty of holy gods, back in the day, were fine with homosexuality, apparently.  Why can’t we legislate based upon what they think?

  3. Narf says

    … progressive lynch mob and their vulgar, wretched, hateful “love.”

    I don’t even have a response to Matt Walsh.  What the hell is he even talking about?  I can’t figure out what he could be referring to.

    Hateful love?  I mean, sure, I can see how he would think gay people are icky, obscene, and perhaps vulgar … even if that isn’t precisely the correct word (funny how I easily came up with two much more appropriate ones, huh?) … since his imaginary friend declares them so, but the last adjective in particular makes no sense at all.

  4. Narf says

    To oppose sexual deviancy is, in their twisted, contorted and devious thinking, no different than supporting slavery and segregation.

    Another point about what Bryan Fischer said:

    In the NPR episode, either Russell or Jeff — I can’t remember which — said that slavery doesn’t fit, but segregation and gay marriage are perfectly analogous.  Actually, if you add in the prosecution and imprisonment of gay people for having gay sex, as many states were doing until fairly recently, you have a close comparison to slavery, if slightly less so than the previous analogy.

  5. Narf says

    @Numenaster

    Right, so Scalia’s god is right out.  He’s a Catholic, which is a non-Christian religion that worships … some other god or demon or something, depending upon which evangelical you ask.  Glad we could clear that up so easily.  😀

  6. coragyps says

    It may be a bit embarrassing to Paxton that he’s been indicted on a couple of felony charges – misleading investors. Probably not, though, as he knows he’s a Good Christian.

  7. Monocle Smile says

    @Narf
    If you’re not familiar with douche-blogger Matt Walsh, he doesn’t appear to live on the same planet as the rest of us. In fact, there’s an entire blog devoted to pointing out what he’s wrong about in all of his blog posts.

  8. Narf says

    @MS
    Isn’t that the case for most of these guys?  I mean, not about the blog specifically responding to every blog post he makes, but the rest of that.

  9. Monocle Smile says

    @Narf
    Yeah, I should probably elaborate. Matt Walsh isn’t some old fossil blustering about how “his country” has gone down the drain. Matt Walsh’s viewpoints are much more nefarious…he could never be mistaken for a Poe, and his biggest issues come from the GIGO principle rather than mind-numbing failures in logic 101. Something about his style gets to me…the passage quoted here is perhaps the most over-the-top thing I’ve ever seen him post, stylistically speaking. He attempts to explain exactly how and why he has his opinions, and he’s actually really good at doing so. The bullshit nature of his starting points and principles and his mansplaining attitude are much more muted than with typical internet apologists.

    I dunno. If you read a few entries on the Matt Walsh blog, you might understand what I’m failing to convey.

  10. Mr. Dave says

    I wish that there was an ice cream flavor based on the tears of these lying, hypocritical and intellectually bankrupt cretins, just so I could taste it. It would probably require an extraordinary amount of sugar in the recipe to bring the bitterness down to a palatable level, though. When the one-year anniversary comes around, it’s going to be interesting to see how many of the disasters predicted by many of these social/political/religious mountebanks come true. Rubbing their noses in that would be a great first anniversary present for them.

  11. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Sort of off topic:

    I don’t really have a better place to post this, but I thought someone might be interested. Long ago, someone came here to publicize their web site, and invited feedback. I offered feedback, which eventually culminated in this:
    http://www.debate.org/debates/Something-regarding-atheism-vs-religion-not-sure-yet/1/

    Links and additional background are included. I have no idea what to expect, but it should be amusing regardless.

  12. Monocle Smile says

    @EL
    I’ll be keeping tabs.
    I am extremely glad that you spelled out the bit about absolute certainty very clearly in your opening gambit. However, I have zero confidence that your opponent will acknowledge this and I predict that this will be used as a distraction at some point during the debate.

  13. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Monocle Smile
    Thanks. I just went on autopilot more or less to describe my basic position and the usual points of contention and confusion.

  14. ironchops says

    @ EL
    I was raised by conservative parents and up until recent times considered myself a conservative also, but…I always hated the conservative position on abortion and gay rights. When I look at the candidates from the republican party now all I see is a bunch of ass clowns!
    Here lately my position is a changing. Now I see myself as a fence sitter with no real position. I see myself as too ignorant to decide. The best I can come up with for now is agnostic-Christian. I want to drop the Christian part but still hang on to it for some dumb reason. I like that you know your own position so confidently. I wish I could.

  15. Narf says

    @ironchops
    Well, just continue to educate yourself on the issues.  On most issues, the more educated you become on the subject, the more you lean towards the liberal position.  There’s a reason that the conservatives are always bashing higher education, since it loses them voters, mostly.  The conservatives lean heavily on sloganeering, because the positions don’t have much depth or … you know, evidence to support their side.

    Sure, you can go too far in the liberal direction, too, but we’re a hell of a long way from having to worry about that.  When a group defames the most centrist, sometimes even slightly-right, positions as communist, there’s something wrong with them.

  16. Narf says

    @12 – EL
    Hmm, why the heck are you going first in the debate, when you have the reactionary position?  I think Mike is cooking things a little, giving himself the last word.  Hell, the fact that you don’t even know what the debate is supposed to be about is a red flag.

  17. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Narf
    Indeed. I’m not taking it too seriously. I’m just going along with it, to see what happens. Had this been a more publicized debate, I would have taken some non-zero effort to address some of those concerns.

    I’m not too terribly worried about him having the last word. Maybe I should be, lol.

  18. Narf says

    Yeah, that’s the biggest thing that concerns me, really.  The format leaves you with one useless post out of five, and I’ve seen religious people do this sort of shit all the time, dithering around for most of the time, then presenting their actual argument in the last response, where it will go without rebuttal.

    Considering that our entire position is rebuttal, that’s problematic.  Like you said, though, it’s not like a significant number of people will see it, so whatever.

  19. Narf says

    Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee!

    “This ruling is not about marriage equality, it’s about marriage redefinition. This irrational, unconstitutional rejection of the expressed will of the people in over 30 states will prove to be one of the court’s most disastrous decisions, and they have had many.

    Oh, hey, speaking of Huckabee, I wanted to make this point, since I totally disagree with Jeff on this issue.  I’m usually with Jeff on most issues, except for free-will, but I think he got this one completely wrong.

    What Huckabee said is still completely fucked, but fucked in a different way.  Huckabee was talking about states that had passed gay rights by popular vote or by vote of the legislature, not the number of states that had previously been forced to marry gay people by previous federal court rulings, before the whole thing got tipped over by the Supreme Court.  That number is fairly low, far less than 20, as Huckabee said.

    Where Huckabee is being … I imagine deliberately dishonest … is in holding up the number of states as the ‘will of the people’.  It’s not.  The majority of the population as a whole would be a definition of the will of the people, if such a thing actually mattered on this issue … which Huckabee didn’t use, of course, because the will of the people is against him, now.  Most of the states that passed gay marriage by vote or whatever are the more populous, blue states.  The fact that Wyoming passed a gay-marriage ban lends almost nothing to the will of the people, since there are only freaking 500,000 people in the state.

    I think Jeff at least agreed that it doesn’t freaking matter anyway, since constitutionality trumps the will of the people, unless the will of the people and the legislature is to pass a constitutional amendment.  He was distorting Huckabee’s point, though.

  20. soul_biscuit says

    Minor correction, Narf: the right to privacy (which includes the right to intimacy Justice Scalia so smarmily rejects) comes from an interpretation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clauses, not the Fourth.

  21. corwyn says

    From the debate EL is participating in (hope you don’t mind):

    In my opinion, if we restrict ourselves to only logic and science, we don’t have sufficient information to
    determine that the possibility of God’s existence is significantly lower than 50%.

    Sure, we *start* with a probability of a god existing at 50%. That is the proposition when we have NO information. And if one is a true clean slate atheist, that is where one should start. However, once a theist makes the merest claim about a god, this proposition usually gets immensely more unlikely. If the claim being made here by the claimant is that there is exactly zero evidence for or against a god, and that they are making NO claims other than that, I would agree. It would put gods in the same category as fulgierwirets.

    God – like you said, not necessarily all-powerful. God’s omni attributes, whether true or not, tend to get in the way of the discussion, in my opinion.

    This isn’t a definition of a god, or anything for that matter, just a denial of some claims. What exactly does the claimant *mean* by the word?

    In a reality where God DOES exist however, we would still have reason and science but we could potentially have an additional source of information: divine revelation.

    In order for this to be true, divine revelation would need to NOT be subject to reason or scientific examination. That is no logical statement can possibly be made about it, and it can not exist in any physical brain. Good luck with that.

    This claim ALONE (i.e. that a god can create information which is not subject to reason, and which CAN NOT be present in a physical brain) is enough to make the proposition that a god exists more unlikely than hard solipsism, and thus no worth giving any credence to.

  22. Narf says

    @soul_biscuit
    Wow, what the hell was that?  I meant the contents of the fifth, and somehow threw in the wrong number.  I don’t know if that was a typo or just a brain glitch, that the error happened in my fingers or my brain.

    What’s the most common pop-reference, in regards to court dramas?  Pleading the fifth, dumbass.  *smacks forehead*

  23. corwyn says

    I was once in a jury pool for a case involving ‘loss of consortium’. How would Justice Scalia describe that if there is no right to intimacy?

  24. ironchops says

    @ Narf
    The Meaning of NARF from InternetSlang.com
    Is that you? The Random Interjectionist?

  25. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @corwyn

    From the debate EL is participating in (hope you don’t mind):

    I do not mind at all. I hope some of the people here find it entertaining. And my reply is up.

  26. Monocle Smile says

    @EL
    I could have predicted MikeManea’s dishonest attempt to pigeonhole you into a “this is the ONLY WAY” position. It’s what happens in lots of these debates…the theist paints a stupid-ass straw man, knocks it down, and then pretends as if their specific position is the only other option. It gets funnier when they can’t even manage to knock down their straw man, like MikeManea.

    Also, I didn’t realize TheoreticalBullshit shared your position re: “methodological naturalism.” Off I go to listen to his talk!

  27. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I hope the landlord’s here don’t mind the hijack.

    @MS

    MikeManea’s dishonest

    Meh, I don’t think there’s any real dishonesty yet. Perhaps some intellectual dishonesty and dishonesty to oneself, but that’s par for the course for a religious person.

    Did you like Scott Clifton’s Skepticon 7 talk? I just watched it again. It’s brilliant.

  28. corwyn says

    Supernatural – ‘any phenomenon which has its basis in entities and processes that transcend ‘ the spatiotemporal realm of impersonal matter and energy described by modern science.’

    Define ‘transcend’.
    Define ‘impersonal matter’.

    Does dark energy count as supernatural?
    Would it have counted in 1980?

    In essence, how do we characterize a newly discovered phenomenon as either natural or supernatural? That is what the definition needs to establish.

  29. ironchops says

    @ Narf
    Ha Ha Ha! I get it! Sort of a more annoyed/cynical Sheldon from Big Bang Theory but you know sarcasm well.
    I be like Pinky! LOL Hey Narf….what’cha doin’? while smackin food in your ear.
    Annoyed yet?

  30. beautifullies says

    “behavior which is an abomination in the eyes of a holy God was normalized” – I fully agree with this statement. It is accurate, AFAIK. A bit like working on the Sabbath, cutting one’s hair, getting tattoos, women wearing trousers, getting divorced and so on. I’m a big fan of (the right to) abominable behaviour, when it is seen as abominable in the eyes of a mythical ‘holy’ god.

  31. Narf says

    @ironchops
    Plus, I’m trying to take over the world.  I’m just taking my time about it.  I play the long game.

  32. Narf says

    … the spatiotemporal realm of impersonal matter …

    What about personal matter … you know, like us.

  33. Narf says

    As you mentioned, we’ve exchanged several emails already and I avoided providing detailed answers to your questions because I was hoping to be able to do it in a structured setting like this one.

    So, check me on this, EL.  It’s sounding like he failed to set up a debate topic and instead chose to make the debate as vague as possible, then made you go first?  Is that what’s going on here?

    Let me start at the end of your opening statement by clarifying that I personally agree with you regarding the nonexistence of the immaterial soul both for the reasons you mentioned and because I think the idea contradicts a sound reading of the Bible.

    What the hell kind of Christian is this guy?  So, he’s throwing out the afterlife?  If you want an afterlife, you need a soul of some sort.  How much of the New Testament is he throwing out, because that’s  the part that deals with the soul and the afterlife.

    I would love to see him try to demonstrate that the concept of an immaterial soul contradicts a sound reading of the Bible.  How does he think the afterlife is going to happen, assuming he isn’t discarding that entirely, while still adhering to a sound reading of the New Testament?

    I believe the role of theists in this debate should be defensive and not offensive.

    And attempting to reverse the burden of proof in … five … four … three …

    … not unless the atheist feels his methodology is the only/most rational one to use.

    Sounds like he’s conflating atheism with skepticism.  Atheism has no methodology.  It has to borrow from other sources for that.

    And yes, skepticism is the most rational methodology, because any other one leads to the absurdity of accepting mutually contradictory propositions, if you’re applying your methodology consistently.

    In my opinion, the theist/atheist debate has multiple layers each of which is dependent on the previous; sort of like a multistory structure where each floor cannot be built until the previous floor is completed.

    So, when the foundation fails …

    Basically, it’s not just that there is difference of opinion between us but atheists consider the evidence to be so obviously and so completely against the existence of God that there must be something wrong with anyone who believes otherwise.

    Yes, because I’ve read the Bible, cover to cover.  It’s a book filled with horrific immorality, which it says is moral, and it’s riddled with historical inaccuracy.  Even the vaunted New Testament, which lots of Christians try to separate from it’s more obviously evil precursor, is obvious mythology.

    He’s the flat-Earther in this debate, and he doesn’t even realize it.

    Premise 1 – Because the theist is the one making the positive claim, the burden of proof is entirely on him.
    Premise 2 – Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
    Premise 3 – The only acceptable form of evidence is Scientific Evidence.

    And I’m guessing, from premise 3, that he’s going to argue that a philosophical argument, without a shred of evidence, actually counts as evidence?

    Premise 1 – The one Known or Given in this equation is that we exist; that plants, animals, planets, and the universe as a whole exist. The universe is not just a random arrangement of particles.

    And there goes his entire argument.  He’s done, on premise 1 of his version of the cosmological argument.  The foundation has failed, and his multi-story structure has collapsed into a sinkhole.

    Please demonstrate that the universe is not just a random arrangement of particles.  Until he can do that, his argument has no foundation.  Do you think he’s going to do that thing that theists always do, trying to force a rejection of the positive claim into a claim of the negative?  I’m expecting that, at some point.  I bet his response to me would be, “Okay, then you have to demonstrate that the universe is just a random arrangement of particles, without a guiding hand.  You have to demonstrate that that guidance doesn’t exist.”  I bet you.

    I’m not sure I’m going to respond to anything else he had to say  I’ll skim the rest, and I’ll address it, if anything worth commenting on jumps out at me.

    In a reality where God DOES exist however, we would still have reason and science but we could potentially have an additional source of information: divine revelation.

    … which is worthless.  Christ, it’s even worse than I thought.  He isn’t even relying on anything as solid as the ‘philosophical arguments are a form of evidence’ argument.  That would at least be better than what he’s proposing.

    How do we differentiate between the revelation of a con artist and the revelation of someone to whom his god is actually speaking?  Hell, how do we differentiate between the revelation of a perfectly honest schizophrenic and someone to whom his god is actually speaking?  Until he has a reliable mechanism to do so, this source of information is so untrustworthy as to be useless.

    He really expects us to accept the sales pitch of con artists and the ravings of schizophrenics as evidence?  I don’t think he understands what that word means.

    Atheists on the other hand feel that logic and science conclusively point in the opposite direction and I disagree with this as well. In my opinion, if we restrict ourselves to only logic and science, we don’t have sufficient information to determine that the possibility of God’s existence is significantly lower than 50%.

    And we have another attempt to reverse the burden of proof, but it was done a little more subtly this time.

    God – like you said, not necessarily all-powerful. God’s omni attributes, whether true or not, tend to get in the way of the discussion, in my opinion.

    But he believes in an all-powerful god, doesn’t he?  This strikes me as a milder version of what William Lane Craig does, flipping between a deistic and theistic god, at random, when it suits his purpose.  Is this guy going to do something similar?

  34. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Narf

    So, check me on this, EL. It’s sounding like he failed to set up a debate topic and instead chose to make the debate as vague as possible, then made you go first? Is that what’s going on here?

    Perhaps that was his intent. Perhaps not. It may also be that he’s so new he doesn’t know any better. I don’t know. I did walk into it the (perhaps accidental) trap knowing full well it was a trap.

    What the hell kind of Christian is this guy? So, he’s throwing out the afterlife?

    I think no. My guess is based on some of the esoteric articles I’ve read by Richard Carrier concerning the post-resurrection bodies. My guess is that Mike believes that in the afterlife, our bodies will be reconstructed with superior materials. There is no immaterial soul, but there still is eternal life in heaven in different bodies. In particular, when pressed, I would say that Mike believes that god remember the brain state of Mike at brain-death and memorizes it, to then later reconstruct a perfect replica with superior indestructible heavenly materials, or something like that. And yes, I’m aware of all of the interesting philosophical problems associated with it – for example the conventional problem with teleporters – is it a clone? Is the original dead?

    So, when the foundation fails …

    To be fair, he did identify at least one, IIRC two, problems with the usual atheist debater. I agree that atheists often misuse the burden of proof concept and the null hypothesis concept. For example, see a few months back where I got into a huge blow-out argument with John from the show, and Frank G Turner. I side with Mike from the debate (and corywn) on this issue, and I side against John from the show, Matt from the show, Frank G Turner, and others.

    For example, Mike said this:

    Premise 3 – Each of these propositions must be supported by evidence and the determination is made by contrasting the various options rather than by placing the entire burden of proof on just one of the options.

    That’s completely right, and I completely agree. That’s exactly the point I was trying to make to John from the show and Frank G Turner. All too often I see atheists get this point of epistemology dead wrong.

    (Of course, Mike then goes on to say “Moreover, all these propositions are extraordinary and therefore all require extraordinary evidence.”, which is IMO wrong. Mike seemingly doesn’t understand Bayesian reasoning and epistemology, and thus Mike seemingly doesn’t understand what “extraordinary” means in this context.)

    Quoting Narf:

    And I’m guessing, from premise 3, that he’s going to argue that a philosophical argument, without a shred of evidence, actually counts as evidence?

    I’m not sure yet. In like the 100 email back-and-forth we had, I was constantly trying to just get him to explain why he believes that the Christian god exists, and he never did. I called him out on being evasive in email. He seemingly is going to try to invoke “divine revelation” as an alternative way of knowing, and assert that “divine revelation” is a way of knowing which is not scientific. I already rebutted that in my debate-post.

    And there goes his entire argument. He’s done, on premise 1 of his version of the cosmological argument. The foundation has failed, and his multi-story structure has collapsed into a sinkhole.

    For the moment, I’ll be generous and assume he’s badly stating a more-conventional variant of the argument, such William Lane Craig’s standard Kalam. tl;dr everything that exists in time need a cause or explanation, the universe had a beginning of time, and thus there needs to be a thing outside of time to be the cause or explanation of the beginning of the universe. Of course, we all here know (hopefully) the plethora of problems with that argument which is argument consisting solely of several naked assertions. Ex: the universe might be eternal in the past, or the universe might be a closed temporal loop, or something even more exotic. If the universe had a beginning, perhaps the beginning does not have an explanation or cause for its existence. If the universe had a beginning and that had a cause or explanation, perhaps the cause is the idea of a ham sandwich – makes about as much sense as a disembodied mind outside of time and space. Or perhaps the cause is anything else from the set of unintelligent things outside of time and space.

    This strikes me as a milder version of what William Lane Craig does, flipping between a deistic and theistic god, at random, when it suits his purpose. Is this guy going to do something similar?

    I myself got a very similar impression of Mike during my private communication with Mike.

  35. Monocle Smile says

    @EL

    That’s completely right, and I completely agree. That’s exactly the point I was trying to make to John from the show and Frank G Turner. All too often I see atheists get this point of epistemology dead wrong.

    Sigh. I still think you talked past the others on this point, EL. There were a number of conflations between ontology and epistemology (with an added layer of “belief”) in that discussion, and this is another one. When John and Frank (and myself) are talking about “burden of proof,” we’re referring to beliefs and not ontology. Personally, I find most discussions about ontology boring and useless because all that really matters pragmatically is epistemology. If someone makes a proposition without support, I am not required to propose and support an alternative in order to not accept that proposition. Now, if we’re trying to determine the actual state of affairs, then it’s completely different and you’re correct. But when someone says “god exists” and offers either nothing or incoherent babble as “evidence,” I’m not required to prove “no gods exist” in order to reject that bald assertion.

    When Matt talks about this topic, he’s been clear in the past that discussing the actual state of affairs is a different conversation. The actual topic is beliefs and justifying beliefs rationally.

  36. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @MS

    If someone makes a proposition without support, I am not required to propose and support an alternative in order to not accept that proposition.

    But when someone says “god exists” and offers either nothing or incoherent babble as “evidence,” I’m not required to prove “no gods exist” in order to reject that bald assertion.

    I politely disagree in some part. Your points as literally stated are not wrong, but it’s the framing of the conversation which is wrong. You’re looking at epistemology and justification in entirely the wrong way. When someone makes an assertion, the onus is on you to take all of the information available to you, then construct all plausible alternative scenarios, then determine how well the available information fits all of the alternative scenarios, and adjust your beliefs accordingly. This is what you have to do as a reasonable person whether they present additional evidence or not.

    In order to reject the claim “a god exists”, it is requisite to internally consider your background knowledge on the topic and all competing claims. You must have alternatives in mind that are at least plausible in order to reject a claim. You are required to show to yourself that at least one other scenario is sufficiently likely to be true.

    That’s Bayesian reasoning.

  37. Monocle Smile says

    When someone makes an assertion, the onus is on you to take all of the information available to you, then construct all plausible alternative scenarios, then determine how well the available information fits all of the alternative scenarios, and adjust your beliefs accordingly

    I can’t possibly agree with this. Given the number of bald assertions I get at work alone, I’d never get anything done. I see an extra step in here…I don’t even start this process unless I have a good reason to think that the claim could even possibly have merit. I see no reason to adjust my beliefs or even expend the effort to question absolutely everything just because someone shits out random babble. Your procedure isn’t even remotely pragmatic. I don’t operate in this fashion and make no apology.

    In order to reject the claim “a god exists”, it is requisite to internally consider your background knowledge on the topic and all competing claims

    I don’t agree, and you must be absolutely exhausted each and every day if you take the infinite amount of time required to investigate infinite numbers of “competing claims.” I don’t really think you fully appreciate what this entails.

  38. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @MS
    Obviously we all employ heuristics and shortcuts to avoid analysis-paralysis.

    It hinges on the exact intended meaning of what you mean to say with “I reject your claim”. If you mean “I don’t have the time to consider your claim, and thus I don’t have an opinion nor belief on the matter”, that’s acceptable. If you mean to say “I have taken a moment to consider your claim, and I lack sufficient evidence and information to accept your claim”, then you need to have examined alternatives, at least a cursory examination.

  39. Narf says

    @36 – EL (quoting Mike)

    Premise 3 – Each of these propositions must be supported by evidence and the determination is made by contrasting the various options rather than by placing the entire burden of proof on just one of the options.

    Err, where did Mike say that?  I don’t remember that, specifically, and a ‘find’ function done with a few words of the quote came up with nothing on the page.  Did he say that in an e-mail or something?

  40. Narf says

    @36 – EL (not quoting Mike, this time)

    For the moment, I’ll be generous and assume he’s badly stating a more-conventional variant of the argument, such William Lane Craig’s standard Kalam.
    .
    .
    .
    Of course, we all here know (hopefully) the plethora of problems with that argument which is argument consisting solely of several naked assertions.

    Yeah, my first thought, after reading the first sentence of this section of yours was, “Yeah, and Kalam is going to get him freaking nowhere, since it’s such a flawed argument, in so many different places.”  I think I was somewhere around a dozen issues, each of them a fatal hole in the argument by itself, the last time I went through Kalam trying to list all of the problems with it.

    About the only thing Kalam gets right is in making a go at masking the special pleading which is nakedly present in EVERY  other version of the Cosmological Argument.  Of course, a definition of a set that only contains one possible item is still special pleading, so it doesn’t actually get around the issue.  It just hides it a little, for anyone not paying attention.

  41. Narf says

    Oh, and yeah, I see the same issue that you do, with the perfect heavenly body, as you’re guessing he might mean it.

    What is the mechanism of continuity that makes that body still be you.  Without a soul to transfer me into that body, why is that heavenly body me?

    He also needs to explain what the hell a ‘sound’ reading of the Bible is.  Logically sound?  Okay, the whole thing is a collection of myths.  That’s the only logically sound conclusion that I can draw from it.

  42. Narf says

    I didn’t use the hyphen in my find string.  Find shouldn’t be case-sensitive by default, should it?  That’s the only thing I can think of.

    I see a problem carried over from his premise 2:

    … (3) there is some other explanation.
    Premise 3 – Each of these propositions must be supported by evidence …

    How the hell do you provide evidence for proposition 3?

  43. Narf says

    Anyway, I didn’t remember that particular quote, because it was in the second half, after I had started skimming.  After he had begun arguing by way of bald assertion, in premise 1 of that set, inserting what should be his conclusion into his premises, I stopped paying as much attention.  When premise 1 is utter bullshit, should we care about premises 2 and 3?

  44. corwyn says

    @EL:

    “I have taken a moment to consider your claim, and I lack sufficient evidence and information to accept your claim”, then you need to have examined alternatives, at least a cursory examination.

    I claim that fulgierwirets exist. Do you accept my claim, if not, which alternatives did you examine?

    I know you don’t accept that there is a burden of proof, but there really is a (call it) a burden of information. The claimant needs to provide enough information to allow you to even begin to consider the question. Your debate opponent has not done so for his concept of gods. In fact, the only positive attribute they have given is that it is capable of revealing information (divine revelation) which is NOT amenable to scientific inquiry of any type. [Were I you, I might be tempted to disprove it based solely on that without even asking form more, but it really isn’t enough for a reasonable conversation].

  45. Skyler says

    I value your opinions! Could anyone please take this survey I made concerning perceptions of Christianity?

  46. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I know you don’t accept that there is a burden of proof, but there really is a (call it) a burden of information. The claimant needs to provide enough information to allow you to even begin to consider the question.

    Agreed.

    Your debate opponent has not done so for his concept of gods.

    Agreed. Although, I haven’t asked for a definition, and it’s possible that he reasonably believes that we’re appealing to the “conventional” notion of a god.

  47. Monocle Smile says

    @EL
    I think corwyn stated my point a bit more plainly.
    Also, I really hate the “conventional” notion of a god, because that itself is a bunch of nebulous word salad, in my opinion. Outside of the attributes of intelligence and agency, I don’t find anything about “conventional gods” to be concrete.

  48. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I know you don’t accept that there is a burden of proof,

    Let me phrase it like this:

    In order to be justified in believing something, one needs sufficient evidence to be warranted in believing it. I’m entirely on board with this concept of the “burden of proof”.

    If someone makes a claim and you decide it’s worth your time to take a moment to consider whether the claim is true or false, or currently undecidable, or perhaps ill-defined, etc., then the onus is on you as a reasonable person to use all of your available information. Choosing to forgo the use of some information just because the speaker did not present it – that is intellectually dishonest. I disagree with this flavor of the burden of proof.

    If someone makes a claim, and you decide that you do not have enough information available to accept the claim as true, and if the speaker then says that there is further evidence out there, and you should go look it up, then it’s often quite reasonable to say “no”, and to say that it’s the job of the speaker to find that information themself, and come next time with citations, snippets, etc., because it’s unfair to require the listener to do the research in many cases like this. I am on board with this flavor of the burden of proof.

    If someone says that the null hypothesis is anything other than “I do not know” and refuses to address shared background information, that’s unreasonable. This flavor of the burden of proof is wrong. However, if someone wants to say that the null hypothesis should be “prayer does not regrow lost limbs”, then I’m ok with that because of the wealth of shared background information. I’m ok with that flavor of the burden of proof. It should then take extraordinary evidence to support the extraordinary claim “prayer can and does regrow lost limbs” – in the usual sense that the claim is extraordinary in the sense that it contradicts a wealth of prior information, and the necessary evidence to support it is extraordinary because the amount of necessary evidence to support that extraordinary claim is massive in scale.

    In other words, I’m just advocating proper and honest Bayesian reasoning.

    tl;dr
    The phrase “burden of proof” is rather ambiguous as I’ve just now realized, and it can mean many things, and I’m ok with some of those things, and I disagree vehemently with other versions.

    PS:
    I am not ok with saying that theists have a special burden of proof that strong-atheists do not have. I am not saying anyone here says that, and at the moment I really think it’s often a case of confusion arising from slight differences in definitions. However, it is wrong to say that the default position is “a god does not exist”. Again, I’m not asserting anyone here actually says that.

    However, it really gets back to this IMAO wrong-headed way of thinking about the world that Matt Dillahunty has frequently advocated in the past, which is that you examine the claim “X is true” in isolation from the claim “X is false”. That’s just wrong. You cannot examine the claim “X is true” without simultaneously examining all competing claims. The default position should be “I do not know if a god exists or not”, and the you should use your available evidence to move you towards the ends of the spectrum as appropriate, towards “a god exists” or “no gods exist”. On this particular matter, it seems that Mike from the debate may understand this aspect of proper epistemology far better than many atheists I have spoken with.

    I would go with a stronger assertion of Mike’s competence on this matter, but Mike from the debate seems to not understand “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”, which is quite troubling. There, I suspect the cause of this problem is a combination of several factors, and featuring prominently is probably Mike’s conflation of the first-cause god with his Christian god hypothesis. I suspect that Mike perhaps-rightly considers the claim of a first-cause god not all that extraordinary, and is upset when the rest of us say that the Christian god hypothesis is extraordinary, because of some intellectual blind spot where he does not see the massive difference between those two hypotheses.

  49. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @MS in 51
    Perhaps I give too much credit towards a consensus on at least some attributes, or I’m imposing my own personal favorite ideas on other people.

    For first-cause gods et al, I agree that the notion is woefully underdefined. However, for gods like Jesus and the Christian god, the Jewish god, and the Muslim god, as described in the holy books, then I think there’s a lot we can work with. Currently, my working definition of a conventional interventionist god “some material or immaterial creature that has intelligence, that frequently interferes in human affairs, and that is very powerful”. In other words, the usual notions of Greek and Roman gods. Or what you might see in a scifi show like Star Trek and Stargate SG-1.

    For Mike, I’m still in the “what do you believe? And why do you believe it?” phase. As I mentioned above, I’ve been pestering him in email for a while to answer these questions, and thus far he’s evaded and chosen to not answer. Hopefully he gets around to that somewhat soon.

  50. Monocle Smile says

    Perhaps I give too much credit towards a consensus on at least some attributes, or I’m imposing my own personal favorite ideas on other people

    Probably more the former. Don’t take this the wrong way, but you have a habit of saying “everyone knows X” or “everyone agrees on X,” and while I agree with what you’re saying, most people will either (wrongly) disagree or be totally lost. It seems to me that you think far, FAR too highly of the human population in matters of epistemology and even logic 101. This isn’t necessarily a failing; it just sometimes handicaps discussion because we’re so used to dealing with people who have either never heard the word “epistemology” or are so dishonest that they deliberate play with words unless you spell everything out clearly.

    Currently, my working definition of a conventional interventionist god “some material or immaterial creature that has intelligence, that frequently interferes in human affairs, and that is very powerful”

    And despite that portrayal in history and in scifi…the portrayals are so radically different that I still think this definition is clumsy.

  51. Narf says

    @EL

    If someone says that the null hypothesis is anything other than “I do not know” and refuses to address shared background information, that’s unreasonable.

    Umm, is this a problem?  I’m pretty sure that’s how almost all of us here treat it, with a few other details added.

    It would be more specific to say, “I don’t know, and neither do you, based upon the pathetic quality of the non-evidence that you’ve presented here as absolute proof of your god.”

  52. Narf says

    @EL, again

    However, if someone wants to say that the null hypothesis should be “prayer does not regrow lost limbs”, then I’m ok with that because of the wealth of shared background information.

    That’s not the null hypothesis, man.  That’s the status quo.  They’re different.

    Aside from that though, yeah, this is what you need to provide extraordinary evidence in order to overturn, since it’s such a foundational component of our worldview … hell, even the worldview of most Christians, I think, if you look at the global population of Christians, rather than just those in the US.

  53. Narf says

    @EL

    I suspect that Mike perhaps-rightly considers the claim of a first-cause god not all that extraordinary …

    I don’t know that the concepts of ordinary and extraordinary even apply here.  It’s completely unexaminable, as part of its definition.  You have to add other characteristics to make it something worth considering, and those characteristics tend to be extraordinary.

  54. Narf says

    @MS

    It seems to me that you think far, FAR too highly of the human population in matters of epistemology and even logic 101.

    My girlfriend has this problem all the time.  When considering the subject of politics, she doesn’t seem to internalize the fact that she and I tend to only associate with people who are in the top 25% or so, in terms of education, intellectual curiosity, empathy, and most of the other traits to we ascribe to brainpower (yes, I’m aware that empathy doesn’t fit into the category I gave at the end there, but it’s another attribute that factors into her bewilderment).

    She can’t really grasp what the bottom half of the human race is like, since she never sees it.

  55. Narf says

    Say, I just had a thought, EL.nbsp; Is it possible that a lot of the disagreement between you and most of the rest of us is a result of us assuming a significant margin of error, and you’re completely ignoring it, in your application of Bayesian reasoning?

  56. Narf says

    @56 – Clay Bonnyman Evans
    Hmm?  I’m not following you.  What is that in relation to?

    Oh, wait, wasn’t there a blog post of some sort that’s associated with this comment section?  I forgot about that.  😀

  57. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Is it possible that a lot of the disagreement between you and most of the rest of us is a result of us assuming a significant margin of error, and you’re completely ignoring it, in your application of Bayesian reasoning?

    I don’t understand what you’re asking. But probably no.

  58. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Narf
    I think I’m still having disagreements with MS, and disagreements with Matt Dillahunty (shit forgot to call in), but I think Corwyn and I are on the same page. I would like to know MS’s reaction to my post 52 here.

  59. Monocle Smile says

    @EL
    I can’t disagree with your further elaboration in post 52. I thought before that you were advocating dedicating as much effort as humanly possible into every bullshit claim with zero additional information given.

    Now, I only ever use “null hypothesis” in the context of an actual scientific experiment or probability calculation, and in those cases, the null hypothesis is the contrary of the hypothesis and used for the purposes of contrast. In very elementary terms, you demonstrate your hypothesis by “disproving” the null hypothesis in statistically significant manner. So I find it cumbersome to use it in colloquial conversation and it’s quite different from the “default position” when it comes to belief. You’re correct about this.

    The other thing is that I typically assume for the purposes of the conversation that no background information exists concerning the specific claim. I find it easier to start from square one and I don’t assume my opponent has done one lick of homework…because with theists, more often than not they haven’t. Now, I’ll break this rule if the claim is so insipid or mind-numbing that it gives me cancer to even think about it.

  60. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Responding to MS In 39, with some more detail.

    You say “unless I have a good reason to think that the claim could even possibly have merit”. When someone presents you with a claim, how do you go about determining if you think that you you have a good reason to think that the claim might have merit? Presumably by doing exactly what I demand – having taken a moment to create an inventory of alternatives (including possibly the “other / unknown” alternative), and determining how well the available evidence fits each alternative. Of course, you don’t have to do that every time someone makes the same claim when no new information has been provided.

    Did you really mean to imply that I required you to do this analysis anew every time someone makes the same claim and with no new evidence? Of course not. Did I mean that you had to do this analysis at least once? Yes.

    Like I said before, Corwyn is right that if the speaker hasn’t sufficiently defined terms, then there’s nothing to accept as substantiated nor reject as unsubstantiated.

    Like I said before, you have to use heuristics and shortcuts where you do this analysis in a half-ass fashion, perhaps using rules of thumb to ignore certain phrases in certain contexts, etc. Avoiding analysis-paralysis is an important skill that we all learn.

    However, to ever accept a claim as substantiated, or to reject a claim as unsubstantiated, and to be intellectually honest, it is requisite to have created an inventory of alternatives, and determined how well the currently available evidence fits each alternative – and not necessarily now, but at some point in the past when you had access to approximately the same relevant information. Can you agree to this?

    Thus, if someone says: “When someone makes the claim ‘a god exists’, we make the determination to accept it as substantiated / reject it as unsubstantiated without concurrently examining / considering the claim ‘no gods exist’ “, can we agree that they’re being wrong-headed?

  61. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Monocle Smile in 65
    Wrote the earlier post before I saw this one.
    For your post in 65, sounds good to me.

  62. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Err, and thanks, and sorry I’m an arrogant condescending ass (or that I merely appear to be so, which is in many ways the same thing). It’s a personality flaw, I know. I really do try to listen to others and correct my mistakes and admit my mistakes. Really.

  63. Monocle Smile says

    Thus, if someone says: “When someone makes the claim ‘a god exists’, we make the determination to accept it as substantiated / reject it as unsubstantiated without concurrently examining / considering the claim ‘no gods exist’ “, can we agree that they’re being wrong-headed?

    No. Because when someone says “god X exists,” we contrast that with “god X does not exist.” If the claim is “something that someone might describe as a god exists,” then there’s not enough information to even begin evaluating that claim. The claim “no gods exist” can only ever be evaluated if the term “god” has a very, very rigid and thorough definition, and I think this is perhaps your biggest mistake. As far as mistakes go, that’s a pretty light one. And I don’t think you come across as an ass…just extremely confident in your thinking.

  64. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @MS
    I still think the consequences of Bayesian thinking still haven’t sunk in. I’m not quite sure. Let me put it like this.

    The claim “no gods exist” can only ever be evaluated if the term “god” has a very, very rigid and thorough definition,

    This is no more nor less true than the claim “a god exists”. I can also phrase it in terms of falsifiability. If we can conceive of coherent hypothetical evidence that would convince us that a scientific claim is true, it necessarily follows that we should be able to name – easily name – specific coherent hypothetical evidence that should convince us that the claim is false. Any criteria which can be used to show some scientific claim is true necessarily entail criteria that can be used to show that the claim is false. In principle.

    I am not saying that the evidence necessary to show it’s true is the same amount nor same quality as the required evidence to show that the same claim is false.

    Can you agree to this general principle?

    The alternative is “having your cake and eating it too”. The alternative is allowing yourself to find evidence that supports a claim, and not allowing yourself to find evidence that contradicts the claim. That violates falsifiability. Falsifiability entails this general principle that for any scientific claim which can be shown it is true, it is also conceivable that we can show it is false.

    PS:
    This is the same flaw that occurred in Matt Dillahunty’s reasoning during my call to the show with him. Matt Dillahunty has demonstrated a willingness to use criteria to show that something is natural, but an adamant unwillingness to use that same criteria to show that something is non-natural – in the show with my call with him. That’s the key flaw. It’s Bayesian reasoning that should force you to recognize this flaw. It’s intellectually dishonest and inconsistent to allow using science to show something is natural without also allowing the real and concrete specifiable situation where shows that something is non-natural.

  65. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Before Corwyn jumps on me, let me offer a correction / addition.

    Suppose someone makes the formal claim “dogs exists, or foobars exist”. Arguably, we can demonstrate that this claim is true, but in a particular formal sense we cannot demonstrate that the claim is false, because one of the subparts of the or-conjunction is malformed and ill-defined.

    The claim “a god exists” is like that. There are several distinct phenomena that we would mostly all agree to be a god, and we have certain criteria to examine that claim. That same criteria also allows – with the right evidence at hand – us to positively affirm that this particular class of gods does not exist. However, there are other classes of gods which are impossible to affirm, and for the same reasons it is also impossible to affirm their non-existence.

    For all of the gods that we can conceive of evidence that would convince us of their existence, we should all be able to conceive of evidence that would convince us of their non-existence. It’s in that sense that every scientific claim can be demonstrated to be true to precisely the same extent that it can be demonstrated to be false. Otherwise you’re doing falsifiability wrong. Otherwise you’re doing Bayesian reasoning wrong.

    We can thus clean it up as follows: In order to examine the claim “this particular god exists”, it is also requisite to examine the claim “this particular god does not exist”. In order to examine the claim “some god exists in a detectable, demonstrable way”, it is requisite to also concurrently examine the claim “no god exists in a detectable, demonstrable way”.

  66. Monocle Smile says

    Can you agree to this general principle?

    Sure, but you’re talking past me again. If some dipshit says “god exists” and provide exactly zero information about this god, how is that a falsifiable claim? How could anyone even go about setting up a test? Matt likes using the “god as a coffee cup” example for this purpose. Labels have meaning, but people love to screw around with the “god” label such that I find it necessary to hammer out a very clear definition before proceeding.

    If we can conceive of coherent hypothetical evidence that would convince us that a scientific claim is true, it necessarily follows that we should be able to name – easily name – specific coherent hypothetical evidence that should convince us that the claim is false

    Unless we’re wrong somewhere along the way. Once you start making mistakes about the claim or the specific evidence necessary to validate the claim, then all bets are off. Think CSI or Law and Order. Or even House. Even once we hammer out a definition, that doesn’t constrain the design space to one single possibility, and thus the testing process isn’t quite so simple. This is why we must deal with specifics such as “god X exists and has properties Y and Z and has done A, B, and C in the past and does D now” rather than examine “some god exists” and “no gods exist.”

    PS

    I really, really wish you’d stop flogging this dead horse, especially because you haven’t managed to muster the effort to catch up with the show. Remember what you said about taking responsibility to investigate claims if there’s a reasonable basis for truth? That applies here.

  67. Monocle Smile says

    Shit, you responded to some of that already. But let’s re-hash:

    We can thus clean it up as follows: In order to examine the claim “this particular god exists”, it is also requisite to examine the claim “this particular god does not exist”. In order to examine the claim “some god exists in a detectable, demonstrable way”, it is requisite to also concurrently examine the claim “no god exists in a detectable, demonstrable way”.

    The former example is fine. The second is sloppy and poor. Because once again…I can just call a coffee cup “god.”

    There are several distinct phenomena that we would mostly all agree to be a god, and we have certain criteria to examine that claim

    There you go again. “Us” as in the regulars on the blog? Sure. Theists? Fuck no. I’ve been presented with dozens of mutually exclusive god claims and that number continues to escalate. The consensus you imagine does not exist among theists, and I think it’s important to recognize that. I must say, you must deal with some highbrow theists often to come to this conclusion…or maybe I’ve been engaging with weirdasses.

  68. Narf says

    I must say, you must deal with some highbrow theists often to come to this conclusion…or maybe I’ve been engaging with weirdasses.

    No, I run into the same issues.  Even when dealing with two Jehovah’s Witnesses, we have to deal with many inconsistencies and incompatible concepts that two members of the same church (temple? … hall?) hold.  If anyone would have their god-concept standardized and regimented, you’d think it would be the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but no.

    You’re excluding the possibility … the high probability … that most theists are a bunch of weird-asses.

  69. corwyn says

    @71 EL:

    In order to examine the claim “this particular god exists”, it is also requisite to examine the claim “this particular god does not exist”. In order to examine the claim “some god exists in a detectable, demonstrable way”, it is requisite to also concurrently examine the claim “no god exists in a detectable, demonstrable way”.

    I think you are wrong here, but it is totally not your fault. Here is an experiment to try, see if you can get a theist to agree to a definition of god which is detectable. I suspect you will find that no matter what definition they are willing to submit, if you conceive of a way in which that god can be detected, they will immediately *change* their definition to remove that characteristic. God concepts are *specifically designed* to be unfalsifiable. Heaven was a firmament above the moon until it became conceivable to go there. Christians will tell you that their god is beyond space and time, but that concept does NOT come from the bible.

    For example in your debate, if you claim (correctly) that ‘divine revelation’ is detectable in the brain of the one revealed to, and that we could thus scientifically analyze that revelation, the original claim will be modified. No theist can allow their god concept to be falsified, they will commit whatever violence to their concept that is necessary, to ensure that.

    An amusing method for this to find a detectable consequence of some aspect of a god concept, and ask the Bayesian question, “if we don’t find this consequence, will your confidence in your god concept diminish?” If you can elicit a positive response to a question like this, you will win the atheist nobel.

  70. Narf says

    @corwyn

    Here is an experiment to try, see if you can get a theist to agree to a definition of god which is detectable. I suspect you will find that no matter what definition they are willing to submit, if you conceive of a way in which that god can be detected, they will immediately *change* their definition to remove that characteristic. God concepts are *specifically designed* to be unfalsifiable.

    Unless you’re dealing with a fundamentalist who is willing to butcher scientific findings, quote-mine the living hell out of every scientist who ever lived, and make authoritative statements about what geology, archaeology, biology, and nuclear physics (radiometric dating) indicate, which almost no competent geologists, archaeologists, biologists, or nuclear physicists would agree with, unless they’re religious shills like Jonathan Wells.  Those guys will present a falsifiable god, then lie like mad about the hundreds of things that falsify him.

  71. corwyn says

    @79 Narf:

    I don’t think I have ever met anyone who said anything like “Rocks older than 10,000 years old would disprove my religion, and no rock is in fact older than 10,000 years old.” My sympathies if you have.

  72. Monocle Smile says

    @EL
    Well, MikeManea responded, and he’s made a few big mistakes.
    The first is his starting question. “How did we get here?” What the fuck kind of question is that? It’s poorly-formed, ill-defined, and simply begs for intentional distortion and equivocation.
    The second is his attempted attack on naturalism. He seems to be saying that we need to have every answer to every question in order to come to the conclusion of naturalism. For some definitions, sure, but you were very clear about what you meant. It’s like he didn’t read that part of your post at all.
    The third is just laughable. He basically whines that science hasn’t come far enough yet to prove his god. The only response I typically give to this balderdash is “Too damn bad. Stop bitching.” He can parrot a bunch of technical points on reasoning, but doesn’t understand how to apply them to his own beliefs. It’s all post-hoc wibbling.

  73. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    @Corwyn

    I suspect you will find that no matter what definition they are willing to submit, if you conceive of a way in which that god can be detected, they will immediately *change* their definition to remove that characteristic. God concepts are *specifically designed* to be unfalsifiable.

    Sure. On one hand, I am referring to the intellectually honest portion of the conversation. For the common theist who wants to ad-hoc repeatedly to save their hypothesis, Carl Sagan covers the appropriate response in his garage dragon parable.

    For example in your debate, if you claim (correctly) that ‘divine revelation’ is detectable in the brain of the one revealed to, and that we could thus scientifically analyze that revelation, the original claim will be modified. No theist can allow their god concept to be falsified, they will commit whatever violence to their concept that is necessary, to ensure that.

    And again, I can agree that theists often do this. It doesn’t make it intellectually honest. If my debate partner tries to pull it, I will invoke the parable of the garage dragon and other principles of intellectual honesty, and argue that such a person is being dogmatic and not reasonable.

    An amusing method for this to find a detectable consequence of some aspect of a god concept, and ask the Bayesian question, “if we don’t find this consequence, will your confidence in your god concept diminish?” If you can elicit a positive response to a question like this, you will win the atheist nobel.

    Agreed. I realize I should start with this point earlier. If the theist is unwilling to admit to specific evidence that would falsify their position, then I don’t really see the point of discussion. (Which is an irritating position to take, because Matt Dillahunty has taken literally the same position but for the reverse side – an adamant refusal to name specific evidence that would convince him of the truth of Christianity.)

    Again, thank you Corwyn for putting things so nicely. I wish I could have used your wording earlier especially on this last point here. That’s exactly what I’m trying to get at.

  74. corwyn says

    @82 EL:

    Thanks.

    Matt’s refusal to name specific evidence that would convince him of the truth of Christianity.

    I do have some sympathy for Matt on this point, because the callers he gets vary so wildly on what they claim for Christianity. It might be hard to know what evidence will convince him. And in some ways no evidence is sufficient for some of the claims he encounters. “My god is omnipotent.” for example, literally requires *infinite* evidence.

    That said, there is certainly some evidence that will increase my confidence that some god exists. The trouble with mentioning some of those things is that people will inevitably confuse that with, what would *prove* some god exists.

  75. Narf says

    @33 – beautifullies

    I’m a big fan of (the right to) abominable behaviour, when it is seen as abominable in the eyes of a mythical ‘holy’ god.

    Forget ‘the right to’.  More like ‘the need to’.  😀  Some people just need to be deliberately offended by us and other irreverent people.

    If someone is wound up that tight, he/she needs to be presented with the object of disdain as often as possible, with the most cavalier attitude you can muster.

  76. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I’m not sure if I took the right way with my most recent post to the debate. I’m not taking that much time to think through my responses, and I’m not taking it as seriously as I could. Hopefully it looks good, and covers everything Mike raised.

  77. Monocle Smile says

    @EL
    I think you took exactly the right way with your recent post. Loads of apologists love to babble through meaningless talking points instead of address the question, and you nakedly called out MikeManea for doing just that. Then you cut right to the heart of the matter instead of wasting time deconstruction his largely irrelevant spiel about “supernatural.” His next post will be extremely telling.

  78. Sequoia Ananda says

    Hey folks, I love what you all do. I have one comment from a technical standpoint about the new way you are doing the videos. The switching back and forth between the two audio sources is really distracting. Perhaps this is something you are working on already but if not, I hope that you can come up with a consistent source for the audio in the video. It is really noticeable that you have two different audio sources coming in and when you switch cameras you are using the different audio feeds.