Showing posts with label apologist. Show all posts
Showing posts with label apologist. Show all posts

Thursday, February 14, 2019

According To The Bible: God Either Changes Or Lies

The following is a real exchange with a Christian Apologist who's written a book and everything.

Christian: If Christianity were true, would you become a Christian?

Me: I would become Christian, but I would try to persuade God to make some changes.

Christian: Because you're so much wiser than omniscient God.

Me: Hey, he occasionally takes the advice of humans in the Bible, and if I was Christian, I would believe that.

Christian: He takes advice from humans? Give me an example.

Me: Exodus 32 shows he changed his plans based on Moses' advice.

(Commentary) In Exodus 32 9 & 10, God says he is angry at the people misbehaving down below and is about to destroy them. Moses advises God to not destroy the people and God listens. Don't take my word of it, read for yourself. There are other biblical examples of God saying is it about to do something and a human talking him out of it, but Exodus is the first that I know.

Christian: I'd hardly call answering a prayer taking advice.

Me: God literally spoke to Moses telling him what he was about to do. Moses persuaded him not to and God did not. What else specifically would you like to see from this exchange to qualify?

Christian: (No comment, links to a GotQuestions which claims God does not change his mind.)

This exchange reminded me that Christian apologetic arguments occasionally conflict with the bible. Apologists depend on maxims like "God does not change" because they support other claims. For example, change denotes time and God is "outside time" and therefore can not change. The author of Exodus wasn't aware of that maxim and therein lies the problem.

Apologists must then make their maxims work within scripture. In this case, if we accept that God does not change, that means he always knew he would say he would destroy those people, listen to Moses, and then not destroy those people. This reasoning, while convoluted, feels comfortable to the apologist in that it fits both God's omniscience and God's unchanging nature within the context of Exodus. But the implications! This means that God knowingly lied to Moses when he said that he was going to destroy those people. God knew that he was not going to destroy those people when he said he was: a textbook lie. An earlier me might argue that God sinned, but I now know how unfruitful that argument is with an apologist. God doesn't sin, full stop, and I can't argue the rules of a made-up concept like sin. God simply lies, which is actually more damning to the Christian worldview. It throws the Word into question. How can we trust what God says given proof that he lies to us?

At this point, the apologist can only argue that God lies to us for some good reason because God is good...he said so...and we can believe him.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Grounding Morality in Reason

Religious apologists often overlook secular reasons to be decent to our fellow man in order to make their arguments that morality can only be grounded in God. For them, I present these ten secular incentives to ground one's morality in reason.

Points one and two can be seen as a catch all and that all following points can be seen as subsets of one and two. The truth is, by making one and two so broad was the only way to cover all the ways people can come to what we consider good behavior. The rest are just some specifics that are probably obvious to all but the most religious of apologists.

1. To avoid negative consequences.

Try to kill, rape, or steal from someone and that someone will be pissed. If the person is able to hurt you, he or she is much more likely to hurt you as a punishment of your previous action. The motivation for the retaliation could be revenge or just to put you on notice that if you try that shit again then you’ll be hurt again. If that person is unable to hurt you directly, he or she may have allies who will. Even if the person has no allies, anyone else who witnesses your transgression may make an example out of you in order to discourage such transgressions in there future against them. This is part of the foundational reasoning for enforced laws in societies.

2. To claim positive rewards.

There are a variety of incentives to act positively toward others. Some speak to other items on this list. Safety, camaraderie, freedom, and charity are just some things we can enjoy in a mutually altruistic culture. Hell, even after you do wrong, good behavior may lessen your sentence.

3. To conform.

Conformity is sometimes colored as a negative, but not here. If most people are violent, you need to conform to violence to defend yourself. However, if most people are generally peaceful except toward violent defectors, you’d do well fit in with the generally peaceful majority.

4. To collaborate.

The division of labor allows for some people to specialize in certain tasks and other people to specialize in others. The result is that each task is performed using less resources and time. Trade comes from collaboration, which is why we can barter or buy food rather than needing to grow or hunt it ourselves-an activity that would otherwise take up most of our time with less net nourishment. All this is possible only if you don’t scare or alienate your community by doing what we consider immoral-especially in excess.

5. To not be alone.

There is a reason long-term solitary confinement is among the worst treatments of prisoners. Everyone I know values some amount of socialization.  It should be obvious that one needs to ingratiate themselves to others to avoid this treatment occurring. At the very least, your actions need to not offend others, as immoral actions often will.

6. To be left alone.

Even if you want solace, you will not find any by being immoral. Act against others and they will naturally act against you. To be alone you need to be neither moral or immoral. You need to be isolated.

7. To realize a winning game theory strategy.

Cooperation may seem like a bad idea when you can cheat to achieve a short-term win, but even if you ignore the other listed reasons, you’d still know that’s a bad idea with a little experience or foresight. Game theory shows that groups that don’t screw each other profit more than groups that defect from cooperation. Caring only for yourself as an individual means gaining less in the long run.

8. To protect oneself.

One, even the strongest one, will never be able to defend himself or herself from a group. I don’t care if you’re Batman, a large enough group will prevail. Being a dick to everyone ensures you will have no allies because everyone will either actively want you to fail or passively stand by while you do. Sure, you can be a dick to some and not others. That happens. In fact, that explains most of the world. Absolute dickishness, however, is a horrible life strategy.

9. To explore emotions.

If you resist acting immorally toward people long enough, you might start to like some of them. Love and other emotions are some of the most valued aspects of life, whether you want to say they are from chemicals in the brain or deities in the sky. Either way, a deity in the sky isn’t needed to explain why we might refrain from acting a fool in order to explore these emotions.

10. To live out one’s indoctrination.

How many of the beliefs that inform our behavior are taken for granted because their source was our first authority figures: our family. You probably know someone who acts in a way different from you because of their different upbringing. To that person, the same applies to you. The things my family told me to do and not do are informed by the other items on this list, but even if they weren’t, I would have still listened, at least when I was young.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Insights into an Apologetic Mind

They See Concepts As Transcendent

Over and over again I see believers talk about concepts as if they exist outside of the mind that conceptualizes them. Morals, meaning, purpose, values, emotions, and the like are most often understood by the secular as constructs created as part of the function of the brain. Without sufficiently intelligent creatures to come up with this stuff, they don’t exist.

I think, to the theist, the concepts are still conceptualized by a mind, but not our minds. They come from the same mind they believe created everything--God’s. For this reason they are understood to be eternal and unchanging because that’s how they see their deity. Concepts that are eternal and unchanging exist whether or not humans or any temporary mind exists and can rightly be seen as being more real than even the universe itself.

I thought believers talk about concepts as if they exist outside of the mind that conceptualizes them, but now I think I was mistaken. I wasn’t considering the mind I don’t believe in. I'm not saying that it's rational or justified, it's just where they are coming from.

They Like Telling Others How They Feel And What They Believe

Christians continue to equate disbelief in God with hate for God. Why do they only confuse these terms in regards to God? They never tell someone who hates ISIS that they don't believe in ISIS. They never tell me I hate Superman because I consider him fictional.

They Like Pretending To Have It Both Ways

Most apologists say God has free will yet does no wrong then say if God made a world without evil he would have to have made us without free will. Using their own reasoning about God, their claim about his inability to make a free, all-good humanity is untrue.

A Christian apologist told me that physical constants and the uniformity of natural laws are evidence for God. A Christian apologist told me that the "constants" varying and natural laws losing their uniformity, what they call miracles, are evidence for God. Imagine if an atheist presented them a similarly structured argument: if x, then God doesn't exist; if not x, then God doesn't exist. How many do you think would accept such an argument?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Infinite Regression & You

Mathematically, .9 repeating is equal to 1. Here's the proof: two-thirds (.6 repeating) plus one-third (.3 repeating) is equal to 1 (.9 repeating) You can think of the 1 as an infinite whole and the .9 repeating as an infinite regress of 9s, yet they are equivalent.

You, in your body, exist in this moment. When did you exist before now? The moment before. These moments regress back to when you were conceived. Before that moments regressed back to the Big Bang. Moments, as I'm using it, is shorthand for any length of time you'd like--seconds, minutes, days, whatever.

Before the Big Bang it gets more complicated because it seems as though space and time as we understand them originated in same singularity as all the matter and energy of the universe. It isn't technically correct to say anything precedes the Big Bang, but that isn't going to stop this thought experiment. After all, believers assume something (God) came before the Big Bang and they won't simply give up that belief because of y'know, physics. So we need to imagine another, greater spacetime-like dimension the singularity is within...or something.

I've already written about possible causes of the Big Bang that don't involve the Almighty. Religious apologists say any non-God cause is only pushing the need for God back a step. "What caused the cause?" they say. The answer, "the cause before that." That's what infinite regress is in terms of religious debate, an infinite chain of causes with our universe as an effect (and perhaps a cause) on said chain.

Back to God. According to believers, God doesn't have a moment of origin, but can still be understood as existing at every moment. When did God exist before this moment? The moment before, ad infinitum. What caused the cause? The cause before that, ad infinitum. God is in the exact same boat as an infinite causal series. One can't argue that one is impossible without arguing that both are impossible.

You can think of God's existence as infinite, eternal, or forever--it's all semantics. God is described by apologists as indivisible. They obviously don't describe God this way because they are informed by evidence, they describe God this way because they want God exempt from the perceived infinite regress problems of secular explanations. To them I ask, if God doesn't exist every moment into the past, at what moment does God stop existing?

Put another way, to avoid the apologist's denial that God's existence can be segmented the same way as literally everything else, let's talk about God's actions marking points on a line. We can pick a point for a reference--in universal apologetics creating the universe is the best choice. So universe creation is point X. Actions after, like creating life or sending his son can be represented as points X1, X2 and so on. Points before X can be represented as -3X, -2X, -1X. This assumes God can act before he created the universe, which he can if he is omnipotent.

Now, when could he act before -3X? Well, -4X. When could God act before -1000X? -1001X! This either regresses infinitely making apologetic objections to secular infinite regress hypocritical and invalid or the apologist must admit there is a point in which God cannot act, just as there is a point in which God cannot exist, making their deity limited and finite. Which begs the question, what caused God?

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Gap In Every Argument

Many arguments for god(s) take something the apologist intellectually doesn't understand and compensates with an assumption that reinforces the belief they've been taught is true. Sometimes they disregard or deny the available information because it doesn't jive with their indoctrination (committing the fallacy of personal incredulity) and sometimes there is no information available in which case they are filling a gap in knowledge with their divine explanation of choice (called the god of the gaps.)

Example time.

Those who use the cosmological argument: "I don't know if the universe has an ultimate origin or what that might be, so let's assume there is and it's God."

Those who use the fine tuning argument: "I don't know if the constants that apply to our universe could be different nor how different nor do I know if there are other universes or variables, but let's assume they can differ wildly and our universe is unique because God designed it that way."

Those who use the argument from design: "I don't know how the diversity of complex organisms could have came to be as they are now, so let's say it's God."

Those who use the moral argument: "I don't know why I feel so strongly about certain things being right and other things being wrong, so God must have made me aware of those moral values."

In the case of the cosmological and fine tuning arguments, humanity hasn't nailed down the mechanics of the origin of the universe nor why the universe has the constants it does. We have theories that cover part of the answer and hypotheses that speculate the rest, but there is enough that we don't know that I consider these arguments, in part, god of the gaps arguments.

The argument from design and the moral argument are different. Since the Theory of Evolution, the only way to find the argument from design convincing is by sticking your head in the proverbial sand to avoid the evidence. Saying they are personally incredulous of evolution doesn't an argument make. The moral argument is more nuanced and, depending on definitions, suffers the same fate of the argument from design. There is enough selective pressure to be altruistic, especially within one's own gene-mates (which some call their family), that that feeling to be good is also covered with evolutionary theory.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Secular vs. Theistic Information

Think of information on a scale of the most subjective to the most objective. I place them on a scale because it can be argued that no information available to us is entirely subjective or entirely objective. The closer we get to objectivity, the more the information is representative of truth. The lower the number, the more subjective the information. The higher the number, the more objective the information.

1. Information from Your Experience

There is a philosophical concept called naive realism which basically works under the assumption that the our perception perfectly represents the world as it truly is. This was an acceptable view for most of human existence, but science has shown us that subjective experience doesn’t match one to one with reality. We construct our perception of things based on senses that evolved to ascertain useful aspects of reality. What you see and hear is very different from what a snake or whale sees and hears. It’s even different from what I see and hear, albeit to a lesser degree. Paired with an incomplete input of reality is the imperfect way we recall it. Memories are reconstructed not replayed. Each recalling alters the events which will remain altered until the next time we recall them which alters them further. It’s the mental telephone game of our past. For these reasons, anecdotal evidence has little place in the lab and eye-witness testimony has lost much of it’s value in the courtroom.

2. Information from Consensus Experience

I put on a pair of black pants only to find my wife pointing out that they don’t match my shirt--because they are actually navy pants. Here we have two differing subjective perceptions and the only practical way to resolve who’s sensitivity to color is more correct is by crowd sourcing the rest of the family. When my kids, siblings and in-laws all tell me that my pants are navy, I have to admit that, regardless of my perception, the consensus is that my pants are navy.

Don’t worry, the majority of the time, your perception will be in line the perceptions of the consensus, but knowing how others observe things is still a big step in knowing that your observations are valid...especially if you’re a user of psychedelic drugs.

3. Scientifically Derived/Methodological Information

The entire point of the Scientific Method is to get as close to objectivity as possible in discovering what is true. Observations are still done with the subjective lens of the scientist’s senses, sure, but so are they recorded by machines. Data is computed and results are quantified to the most objective language, math. The biases of the researcher are overcome with placebos, controls and double blind studies. Finally, everything is peer reviewed and replicated independently. I consider this information as close as we can get to truth. That said, while there is no pragmatic reason to doubt it, I still recognize that it could be an illusion.

4. Philosophical Truth

Everything could be a lie covering the deeper truth of reality. I could be a brain in a vat and the inputs I believe I’m receiving could be electrical signals representing the whims of a mad man. I could be jacked into the virtual world of the Matrix. I could be telepathically manipulated by a trickster god. The only way to discover transcendent truth beyond what I can perceive is, by definition, beyond my ability to perceive. Philosophical truth is a hypothetical that I see no way to realize. Even our perceptions line up perfectly with this truth, I see no way to know for sure that it does. Pragmatically we operate and reason using the axiom that reality, as we understand it, is real--or at least that the what-you-see-is-what-you-get universe is true enough.

What the religious often do.

The religious take philosophical truth, or Truth with a capital “T”, and believe that it is accessible via the deity they believe exists. They then elevate their belief that God exists to the level of Truth, which results in circular reasoning. Because I know God, I have Truth/I know God, because I have Truth. Outside of this circularity, the religious only have the least compelling class of information (1), to back up their claim of possessing the most compelling (4). Consensus and scientific information both trump what they label “Truth” which is a confusing and sometimes dangerous error of the mind.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Incomplete & Circular Apologetic Definitions

Are you healthy? I don’t know much about you, reader, but if you are the average American your answer is probably close to “sure...I guess” or maybe even a straight up “I don’t know.” That’s because the term “healthy” is an imprecise word that means different things to different people. A judgement of health, when poorly defined, is subjective and not very meaningful. If, on the other hand, I asked if you are overweight then provided a scale, tape measure, and the calculation to determine your Body Mass Index, we could objectively see if your BMI is over 25 and therefore overweight.

In debates with religious apologists, I’ve noticed their moral arguments rely on the imprecise meaning of right and wrong--of good and evil. Ask them to define them clearly and you will be met with resistance. Define them secularly and those meanings will be dismissed. Push, and you will likely hear one of two meanings.

  1. Good or evil are inherent properties of the action in question.
  2. That which is right is that which we have a moral obligation to God to do and that which is wrong is that which we have a moral obligation to God to refrain from.

Let’s take the first one first. “Good or evil are inherent properties of the action in question.” The first problem is that most will latter disagree with the definition they provided. If evilness or wrongness is an inherent property of lying or killing, then it can’t ever be right. However, they will almost certainly agree that lying to protect others or killing in self defense isn’t wrong or evil. In Catholicism there is something called The Principle of Double Effect which allows Catholics to break commandments to achieve what they judge to be the greater good. Hell, most theists in America support the death penalty, that should tell you something.

The second problem is that the property definition is incomplete. It’s like explaining to a child that wetness is a property of water without ever getting into what it means to be wet. Wetness could mean it’s liquid, it could mean it’s clear, it could mean it’s made of molecules. What does the property of good or evil say about the actions? From here they might falter and give secular reasons regarding a harm vs. benefit analysis of the actions, which would negate the perceived need for a deity entirely, or they might move to the previously mentioned secondary definition.

“That which is right is that which we have a moral obligation to God to do and that which is wrong is that which we have a moral obligation to God to refrain from.” Not only does this mean nothing to anyone who doesn’t already believe and therefore has no persuasive power, it also undermines the moral argument entirely. Assigning morality a definition that assumes God exists, cannot then be used to demonstrate that God exists. It is a simple example of circular reasoning. The crazy thing is, I’ve heard many apologists be fine with that--to the point that they ask “what’s wrong with circular reasoning?” Jesus Christ!

Don’t follow apologists down the moral rabbit hole until you know just what they mean by right and wrong. Depending on how these terms are framed, morality can be subjective, objective, relative, conceptual, nonsensical or anything in between.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

When Life Gives You Objectively Good Lemons

The moral argument for God is very convincing to Internet apologists because they believe in something called transcendent morality. It comes up by many names including objective morality, absolute morality--and as I prefer, cosmic morality and magical morality. Regardless of the name, it is seen as a moral standard that exists somewhere independent of the minds of mere mortals and supersedes alternative judgements.

That’s the claim. Is there proof? No. Is there evidence? No. The defense for the claim is essentially finding a moral value agreed upon between the apologist and the non-apologist, such as “murder is wrong,” and using that shared common ground to say all other assessments aren’t just wrong from their perspective, but wrong independent of perspective.

What do you think, is murder wrong independent of perspective? In my experience, “wrong” means different things to different people. It is like saying not murdering is better than murdering. “Better,” like “wrong” in this case, is imprecise language that the apologist can leverage during these exchanges. Analogy time. What if I said lemons are an objectively better fruit than blueberries? This seems laughable because we understand taste preferences are opinions. However, we can say something is objectively true here if only I use a clear metric. I value sour flavor. Lemons are objectively more sour than blueberries. This isn’t a matter of taste, we can actually compare pH levels and know for a fact that lemons are more sour and are therefore objectively more appealing to one who values sour flavor.

Apply this to morality. Instead of saying something imprecise like not murdering is better than murdering, which could be subjective or objective depending on the metric used to judge something as “better,” let’s say not murdering allows for a safer world than murdering. This specification allows us to say not murdering is better for those who value safety. That is an objective fact and an instance of an objective moral.

I cannot say anything about one’s morality without saying something about one’s values. Because the majority of us value human life, safety, and equality (at least to some degree) the discouragement of murder is near universal...but transcendent? No, that is neither justified nor demonstrable.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

More Short-form Thoughts

Religious apologists when arguing for the Kalam Cosmological Argument accept and promote the scientific consensus regarding the Big Bang Theory, yet totally devalue the scientific consensus regarding modern evolutionary synthesis when arguing for the Design Argument (and to a lesser degree a variety of other arguments for God.) Convenient.

When I believed in a supernatural creator, it bothered me that other people believed in supernatural creators before the one I believed in was a thing.

Especially since those people's beliefs are seen as B.S. nowadays.

One of the great double standards of religious apologetics is the notion that something from nothing is impossible while the material from the immaterial is fundamental.

Praying for your headache to go away is a bad idea. Praying for your limb to regrow is a horrible idea. Unless you are the world's healthiest hypochondriac, just say "no" to faith healing. The placebo effect can't fix much.

I'm tired of atheists and theists trying to claim Einstein as their own and Hitler as their opposition's. In neither case is it relevant to which worldview is more likely true, which should be the real discussion.

Annnnnnd...I'm raising money for the American Cancer Society again this year. It's more personal then ever since my mom was diagnosed with cancer this year. It you can give a few dollars it would mean a lot and show me that all this blogging does some quantifiable good.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Apologetics: A Displacement of Faith

The simplified presentation of a straight forward theist: "I have faith in God."
The simplified presentation of an apologetic theist: "I have faith in something else that makes God a necessity."

Examples of "something else" include, but aren't limited to:

  • A universe that could only be created by an external agency.
  • Complex life that could only be intelligently designed.
  • Objective and absolute moral values that exist in some way independent from those who value them.
  • An external meaning for life/existence/them personally.

Apologetics isn't so much a defense of faith, just a displacement of it.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

God's Nature: Moral or Imaginary?

I recently joined a Google+ community meant to educate people on counter apologetics. This was my first post.

Here is a way to dismantle the moral argument for God without getting into the subjective vs. objective morality debate.

A more traditional take on the Euthyphro dilemma, a classic problem of the moral argument for God:
If God chooses what is good, does God have a reason for the actions to which he assigns a good value? If so, why can humans not come to the same reason? If not, then someone (God, in this case) arbitrarily assigned good and bad values, which is exactly what theists think is the problem with subjective morality. 
Modern apologists rarely say God decided anything, rather they claim what is morally good is simply part of God's nature. They expect this negates the dilemma. It doesn't. For this reason I recommend presenting a formation more like below to stay with the times.
If God's nature is good and it could be no other way...who made God's nature as such? If someone made God's nature good, then we should probably worship that God...if only we could know why that God made good what it is. There's a potential infinite regress of moral responsibility here which explains nothing. However, if no one made God's nature good, then it's possible for beings to have good natures without a higher being making them as such. Therefore, the same can apply to us.
It's a small distinction that most people should be able to come to on their own, but apologists are highly motivated to not think about how their arguments might fail. We need to show them, repeatedly.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Throwing Apologetics Under the Bus

Here's a line of questioning that undermines the entire field of apologetics.
  1. Do you believe an all-powerful being is possible?
  2. If so, can an all-powerful being deceive limited beings?
  3. Are you a limited being?
  4. Then how can you trust personal revelation, outside authority, historical records, physical evidence or anything that you feel supports your beliefs in a world with an all-powerful being?
Any theist, by definition, would answer "yes" to question one. The answer to question two is necessarily "yes." I think we can all agree that three is a "yes,"especially in relation to an all-powerful being. Which leads us to question four.

I recently asked this question to the Google+ community for the Christian Apologetics Alliance.
In a world where a supernatural entity exists with the power to reveal knowledge to me or others directly or indirectly, how can I be sure that the same or different supernatural entity won't reveal false knowledge?
Here is the link to the original post. The responses, for the most part, refused to acknowledge the entirety of the question. None of the comments were able to adequately answer the question in my opinion, but I encourage you to judge for yourself.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Cause of the Big Bang

At it’s heart, the cosmological argument for God says that anything that begins to exist must have a cause. Used in conjunction with the Big Bang Theory, apologists can rightly argue that our universe at least seems to have a point of origin and therefore a cause. As an atheist, I reject a supernatural creator that did not begin to, what caused the Big Bang? Well, I don’t know (which is a valid response.) I only know of scientifically informed options.

Quantum foam. I can’t explain this better than Lawrence Krauss so I prefer that you come back after reading the book A Universe from Nothing or after watching a relevant lecture. The best layman explanation I can provide is that “nothing” (the absence of conventional matter, energy, space & time) is an unstable state and quantum fluctuations will give rise to something--even the singularity that became our universe.

Self-Causation. Violated causality is a logic no-no, however, it is a valid interpretation of quantum mechanics. If A can cause B which can cause A--then the first instants of the universe, while it was still at the quantum scale, could be it’s own catalyst. It’s counter-intuitive, but that’s the name of the quantum game and why we shouldn’t assume we know how things work at the literal dawn of time.

Result of a Collapsing Star on a Higher Dimension. I'll be honest, astrophysics is even less my area than quantum mechanics. Read this.

Result of a Multiversal Event. It has been theorized that bubble universes interacting could cause a new universe. Or a simulated universe could become complex enough to program a nested simulated universe. Or something. Theoretical physicist Brian Greene has suggested that there is a chance every mathematically possible universe exists.

Big Bang/Big Crunch Cycle. It’s the idea that the universe expands then contracts back into a singularity which expands into a new universe. The cycle is an older hypothesis that is now less likely than once thought.

The universe is essentially eternal and therefore causeless. Yes, there is a point of origin, but I’m not so sure we can regard the movement of time at it’s birth to our standards. For instance, if time moved exponentially slower the closer to it’s point of origin, the 13.8 billion years we think the universe has been around is only correct judging time from our perspective. In fact, it’s essentially eternal.

Magic. Theists draw upon the supernatural in support of their preferred god all the time, so I can just as easily suppose the supernatural as an option that abolishes the need for a god. I firmly believe there is a natural process that resulted in our universe, but even if there isn't, that doesn’t rule out that the supernatural process involved is unguided and spontaneous. Any argument against this can be dismissed with one word: magic.

*Events that precede space and time are nonsensical to our experience. Some of the above options require both a time-like dimension and a space-like dimension independent of our universe, but then so would an eternal deity.

**If you understand the latest in quantum mechanics or cosmology or theoretical physics, please comment with citations. I’ll gladly update this post with more accurate information.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


One of the stupidest ideas in the Christian apologetic handbook is that the ability to construct self-defeating statements says something about the nature of reality. For example, I’ve seen posted twice this last week (here and here) the claim that truth can be known because the statement “truth cannot be known,” is self-defeating. Yes, that particular statement is self-defeating, but to say the opposite must then be true is willfully ignorant. I shouldn’t have to explain why, but I will.

If “truth cannot be known” is a known statement of truth, then it shows truth can be known making the statement wrong. The statement renders itself nonsensical by its own claim, hence self-defeating. However, if a internally consistent statement is all that is needed to ascertain the nature of valid knowledge, how about “we may or may not be able to know truth.” There is nothing self-defeating here. The two reasonable answers to the question of whether or not we can know all truths is not “yes, we can” and “no, we can’t;” it is “yes, we can” and “it’s unknown.”

That’s it. That’s the post. I’ve previously said that evidence and experience inform essential truth while philosophical ideas make absolute truth hard if not impossible to see. It's worth pointing out that our ability to know one truth doesn't mean we can know any or all truths. I've also talked about the one truth that comes to mind that can be objectively determined evidentially by the relational language of math. If you want to know about that, go read those posts. Here I’m only making clear that apologists expose their ignorance by presenting the linguistic straw man of a self-defeating statement. If you are an atheist, please let every apologist know it’s BS. If you are an apologist, stop it. Just stop. You make it hard for us to take future arguments seriously with this crap. I know apologists you respect came up with this line of reasoning, but they shouldn’t make you respect a shitty argument more than it is worth. If anything, their shitty argument should make you respect them less.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Don't Assume Your God is an Asshole

Pascal's Wager is a gamble for a favorable afterlife built on one wild assumptions after another. If you use this, you're assuming there is a God first and foremost. Then you assume there is an afterlife. Then you assume there are multiple versions of the afterlife. Then you assume that belief can dictate where you go in the afterlife. Whether your assumptions are correct or not is no big deal up to this point, but that all changes when you assume that you know the very specific nature of God and what he wants from you. If you're wrong, then you could be the one forfeiting heaven just as easily as anyone else--Christian, Muslim, Pagan, Atheist, whatever. In fact, by making the wager you are worshipping a false idol, a damning sin in most deities books. The end result of the wager is the same for everyone. You are guessing at something that, if you are wrong, could earn you hell. Opting out of the wager is the safest move to avoid the "having other God's before Him" scenario.

The only reason to make the Christian assumptions is to accept the authority of the bible, and, let's face it, if nonbelievers did that then there would be no need for Pascal's Wager in the first place. Turning the gamble on it's head by assuming God will reward atheism and punish theism suddenly puts believers at risk. Why would God reward atheism and punish theism? I could answer "mysterious ways" here and make my wager just as valid as the next apologetic argument, but if you think about it, it is consistent with our own nature. I don't want my kids to worship at my alter, I want them to think for themselves. If I was an absentee father I certainly wouldn't expect them or likely want them to the look for me. Since God shows no sign of his existence, at least to me, He is like an absentee father, but if theists want to assume He's a narcissistic asshole as well, I hope they are comfortable in their very real codependency with a very imaginary master.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Tweet Round-up

How easy was it to offer "God did it" as an explanation for everything when we didn't know things? About as easy as it is to check Wikipedia now that we do.

As an ex-Christian, I feel retrospectively dumb.

When the CAPTCHA I need to fill before posting a comment on a Christian blog is "FUCYOU" it's time to call it a night.

When gullibility is called "faith" and is considered a virtue, it's clear that atheism has a major branding problem.

Deleting your previous post, disabling my comments and blocking me does not improve your argument.

The gospels are loosely based on real events like Field of Dreams is loosely based on Baseball.

You’re not blessed, just lucky. You’re not cursed, just unlucky. Random stuff happens unguided by a fortune god in the sky.

Don't value faith, value trust. Trust can be earned, therein lies its value.

Apologists hate it when I go off script of their William Lane Craig handbook.

Dear creationists, mythology IS taught in schools, so let your religion die out already.

Dear Lord, please grant your followers the wisdom to quit believing in you. #paradoxicalprayer

If people really believed in God, I imagine more would be screaming “GOOOOOD!” to the sky similar to how Kirk yells “KHAAAAN!”

So...God makes a place of eternal torment to send those who refuse to believe he is a loving god? Awesome plan.

Mock the belief, not the believer.

If I continue debating apologists, I may develop a superiority complex.

For more, follow DeityShmeity on Twitter.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


I've been asking theists which argument for God they find most compelling. So far, the Kalam Cosmological Argument is leading the pack. I find this sad. I've already said why, then I said why again, but I'll try a different way of looking at it today.

Again, here is their argument.
  1. Everything that has a beginning has a cause.
  2. The universe had a beginning.
  3. Therefore the universe had a cause.
Maybe apologists just like arguments formulated as obvious sylogisms. That's fine. Here's one.
  1. Everything that exists is finite.
  2. The universe exists.
  3. Therefore the universe is finite.
From this argument we can conclude that God, defined as an eternal being, doesn't exist.

Admittedly, this argument has a few problems. Apologist Glenn helped me hash them out in the comments of his blog. I'll post what is relevant, but you're welcome to view the original exchange here.
  • The premise 1 is not demonstrated. You would have to show that it is true that everything in existence is indeed finite. One of the main points we are trying to demonstrate is whether or not all things are indeed finite, and this sylogism assumes it from the start.
  • If this sylogism is trying to be used to conclude that an eternal creator cannot exist, then the conclusion is assumed in premise 1, and is therefore circular. It would then be saying, ’1: Everything in existence is finite, therefore a non-finite does not exist.’ A tautology at best.
  • The conclusion 3 does not contain the conclusion that an uncaused effect can happen, nor that an infinite string of causes is possible, or that a creator cannot exist. 3 merely says that whatever is assumed in “universe” in 1 is finite.
  • This sylogism does not negate the fact that everything that has a beginning is caused. Even if we call it valid, it merely concludes that the universe is finite, not that a finite thing does not need a cause.
Smart guy, Glenn, he just doesn't apply his keen mind to arguments he agrees with. His first and second points can be applied almost word-for-word to the Kalam. “Everything that has a beginning has a cause” is an assumption, exactly as “everything in existence is finite.” They are both somewhat justified assumptions. They are both generalizations taken from what we know about reality and applied to what we don’t know. How is “everything in existence is finite” any less demonstrated than “everything that has a beginning has a cause?”

Glenn's third and fourth points are valid, but my sylogism doesn't set out to disprove a creator or the Kalam, only an eternal creator, which it does. If God is not eternal, then he needs a cause according to the Kalam Argument. Either both arguments both work here or (as I show below) neither do.

The law of conservation of energy shows something is not finite. If energy cannot be created nor destroyed within a closed system, that implies it is eternal within the closed system. This only tells us that individual quantum particles could be eternal, while the chemistry or biology or whatever they eventually form can't be. I've already discussed how quantum mechanics breaks the classical logic that both these sylogisms really on. The second problem is that eternal in this case can only be defined as lasting as long as the universe. The law of conservation of energy only works for closed systems, in this case that's the universe. Just as causality only works in relation to our perception of time, this law only works in relation to a predefined space. Before the Big Bang, there is no time or space, so both arguments are void.

Thanks for reading, I wish you all a happy and healthy armageddon. I'll see you in hell.

...or more likely in a couple days.