Death of Logic

A good start.  Now let's get the rest of them.

(from Gaspirtz)

I made the mistake of going by Clown Hall today. That’s when I realized that their name isn’t descriptive enough. It’s not just a site populated by conservative clowns who bumble and stumble with illogic and misfacts. It should be called “Clown Car Hall”, because no matter how fast you shoot them down, another comes spilling out. (For the record, I am not actually advocating shooting conservatives here. Just clowns. Conservatives are human.)

The first thing spilling out of the car when I arrived was a column by Cal Thomas, titled “Death of An Atheist”. It’s an amazing accomplishment. You have to admire the craftsmanship that went into it. It is one of the most concentrated pieces of fundie fail I’ve seen in ages. I hope you have some free time. This will take a while.

[Christopher] Hitchens railed against those who believe in God. While an original writer, and smart, there was nothing original about his unbelief.

It’s true. The non-existence of God has long been established as a virtual certainty.

Such views have been expressed since the dawn of humanity. They have also been answered by some of the wisest people who have ever lived.

Not answered persuasively, but answered!

There is a difference between “smart” and “wise.”

But you can add “ass” to the end of either word to get pretty much identical meanings!

As that Scripture in which Hitchens disbelieved says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10)

This is a typical fundie debating tactic. They just pull quotes out of their ass the Bible and act like that’s some sort of evidence to support their claim. Here’s a quote for you, Cal:

The end of your teens is the beginning of wisdom teeth.

You can attribute that one to me. I’m sure it proves something. Did I win the debate yet?

I have always found atheists to be interesting people…

…because they just may be the world’s smallest minority group…

Actually, atheists are one of the fastest-growing minorities.

…one that gets smaller still as its members pass on and meet God face to face.

Now Cal has wandered off into the logical brush. Somebody grab a cattle prod and bring him back.

Still, atheists demand physical proof of God’s existence, as if they could bring God down and make Him into their image. What kind of God would that be?

The God of the Old Testament.

He would be their equal and, thus, not God at all.

Wasn’t that what that whole Jesus business was supposed to be about? God made flesh and all that? Then for the next 2000 years, God made into a biscuit.

Evidence, alone, has never moved anyone from unbelief to faith.

By definition, it can’t. If there’s evidence, there is no need for faith.

If proof were enough, all of the unbelieving contemporaries of Jesus (and Moses) would have believed in God because of the miracles they performed.

That suggests that they never performed any miracles. In fact, the evidence that either even existed at all is scant for the former and non-existent for the latter.

Two people presented with exactly the same information can respond in opposite ways. Faith is not based solely on facts. It is a gift from a God who exists.

It’s actually a curse from our evolutionary history. We needed to be able to make correlations based on feeble evidence. Suppose you’re a caveman walking through the forest. You hear the leaves rustle, then a tiger jumps out, yet you somehow survive (perhaps by performing a ritual human sacrifice (i.e., you trip your slow, fat cousin, so he gets eaten and you escape)). The next time you hear the leaves rustle, it’s in your best interest to assume there’s a tiger in the brush, not a squirrel.

It’s probable that religious folks have been worshiping a squirrel for the last 4000 years.

Hitchens wrote a book called “God is Not Great.” It’s a clever title, but how would he have known, since they had not been properly introduced?

They probably had been introduced. People come to my door all the time, trying to introduce me to God.

C.S. Lewis, once an atheist and thus conversant with the subject, wrote after his conversion, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

I hope that isn’t the “proof” that converted C.S. Lewis. If so, he’s even more of an intellectual featherweight than his reputation indicates. If I’m reading it correctly, that’s the old “I see the proof of God everywhere. Just look around!” argument. In other words “Somebody had to create the universe!”

It’s also a good lesson in not believing what appears to be true. The sun doesn’t rise. That’s an illusion caused by the rotation of the Earth. C.S. Lewis was not a flat Earther. He knew that was just a poetic expression. However, for millennia, people did believe that the sun rose and set. No, actually, they “knew” it. They looked around, and they saw it every day. It had to be that way.

Likewise, you can’t look at the existence of the universe and “know” that it had to be created. That is a logical jump that you have no basis for making.

Some people exist, however nervously, believing that this life is all there is. The late singer Peggy Lee put the result of such faith this way: “Is that all there is? If that’s all there is to life, then let’s break out the booze and have a ball, if that’s all there is.”

Although you can’t swill booze and engage in merriment 24/7, it is nonetheless good advice (in moderation). Too many religious people make themselves miserable in this life in order to buy themselves booze and merriment after death. The tragedy is that they are never allowed to enjoy the one life—the one existence in any form—that they will ever have.

Why contribute to charity, or perform other good deeds? Without a source to inspire charity, such acts are sentimental affectations, devoid of meaning and purpose.

What a cold, sterile life Cal Thomas leads. His only motivation for helping others is to acquire brownie points from God. It’s also selfish. Presumably he plans to spend those brownie points to buy his way into heaven.

If survival of the fittest is the rule, let only the fit survive.

The Straw Man argument actually serves two purposes. One is obvious, and one is less obvious. In its obvious use, the person making the argument invents a simplified (and often mischaracterized) version of the opponent’s position and logically dismantles that. It makes him look like the winner of the debate (at least to those who don’t understand the other side’s actual position). (The crocoduck is the most hilarious use of the Straw Man argument of all time.)

The less obvious use of the Straw Man argument is to convince the speaker himself. Cal Thomas is mischaracterizing evolution as being solely about survival of the fittest. That’s an important element, but the forces that drive selection and evolution are more complex. Furthermore, the survival of the human species is driven by more than just biological evolution. No society could endure if it lived by the animalistic “there’s always a bigger fish” rule alone.

But Cal Thomas likes his oversimplified version of evolution. He can comfortably reject that version. That version doesn’t challenge his beliefs about the universe and his place in it.

That was the sentiment of Ebenezer Scrooge before his visitation by those three spirits and his subsequent transformation. Let the poor and starving die, he said, “…and decrease the surplus population.”

It’s not just Ebenezer Scrooge:

Who is to say such a notion is wrong without a standard by which to judge wrong.

Certainly not the Libertarians or the teabaggers. I have no idea what this has to do with Christopher Hitchens’ death, but Cal Thomas brought it up.

To object to God is to create morality from a Gallup Poll. In Gallup We Trust doesn’t have the same authority.

That’s a cute line, but it’s irrelevant. Nobody is objecting to God. We’re only objecting to the behavior of some of the people who believe in him.

To his other point, we do create morality from a Gallup poll. Not an actual Gallup poll, but by the consensus of the governed. That’s how, over the centuries, we have determined that genocide, slavery, and capital punishment are wrong, to name just a few. All three of which, by the way, are approved by God as “moral” and “good”.

Hitchens was a gifted writer, but who gave him the gift?

This is a retread of the C.S. Lewis argument from above. It exists; therefore God made it that way.

Why was he not a gifted actor, surgeon or athlete? Why was he not talentless? Was it an evolutionary accident, which would mean his gift and his life were meaningless and merely a “chasing after the wind”? (See Ecclesiastes) Apparently he thought so.

And this is a retread of the “quote the Bible for proof” argument. Cal is starting to peter out (See Peter).

An atheist will tell you he doesn’t need God in order to be good, or perform good works. Maybe not, but the very notion of “good” must have both a definition and a definer.

Yes. Good is defined by the collective agreement of society. The definition of good has changed throughout history.

We cannot allow good to be defined by God. He is one of the most atrocious monsters in all of literature.

Who is the author of evil?

Based on the evidence provided in that last link, obviously God.

And if God is nonexistent, why do we call it evil?

Good point. We shouldn’t. Evil is a mythological term that has no usefulness in an enlightened society.

Is one person’s evil another person’s good? Does such a view lead to ethics that must inevitably be situational?

Yes. Not all situations are black and white.

(BTW, the essence of that quote predates the movie.)

Scripture warns, “The fool has said in his heart ‘there is no God.’” (Psalm 14:1)

I love that quote. Fundies love to slam it down on the table in triumph, as if to say “Checkmate, bitch!”

Get back to me when you come up with a better argument for that point, will you Cal?

In this season when many celebrate the object of their faith, there is no joy in the death of one who had faith that God does not exist. Hitchens now knows the truth and that can only be the worst possible news for him.

Actually, Hitchens can’t “know” that. He stopped existing a few days ago.

In the extremely unlikely chance that there is something after death, it cannot be the God and heaven described in the Bible. That book is so full of contradictions and inaccuracies that it can’t be an accurate description of the afterlife. That means that it is the fundies who will be in for the rude shock when they depart this mortal coil.

30 Responses to “Death of Logic”

  1. bunkie Says:

    That means that it is the fundies who will be in for the rude shock when they depart this mortal coil.

    Except that they won’t know either – because they will have stopped existing too.

  2. Ron Britton Says:

    Bunkie:

    Except that they won’t know either – because they will have stopped existing too.

    In all likelihood, yes. I was referring to the remote chance that there is something after death. It will not be what they’re expecting.

  3. Troy Says:

    Well dissected. I’d disagree with Cal about a couple more issues. Carl Sagan was not an evangelistic atheist. He was evangelistic about science and while even in Cosmos he merely asked the question of God’s existence, no conclusion was really drawn on it. As for calling Hitchins a gifted writer, if as Cal believes he was spewing poppy cock how would he be called gifted? While some people have a knack for things due to interest and focus and skill from courage the appearance that it is a gift is an illusion. Just as a magician hides his preparation to create the appearance of magic.

  4. Ron Britton Says:

    Troy:

    Excellent points. I never got the impression that Carl Sagan ever pushed his atheism. That “gifted writer” business is also baloney now that you draw it to my attention.

  5. JB Mason Says:

    In the extremely unlikely chance that there is something after death, it cannot be the God and heaven described in the Bible.

    Thank you for that. It needs to be said more often. Christianists are so fond of making the leap from “there could be a god” to “it must be the God of the Bible”… but then logic was never their strong suit.

  6. Jeff Says:

    Well, because you’re all being so even-tempered, I’ll weigh in with my trademarked vitriolic loathing.

    Hitchens now knows the truth and that can only be the worst possible news for him.

    The love to gloat, the psychotic fucks. Here are a couple of gems I cane across:

    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/decemberweb-only/christopher-hitchens-obituary.html?start=3

    Threats – it’s all they have, and they absolutely revel in them. Anyone who says they don’t eagerly anticipate our impending damnation is a liar or a fool.

  7. Sue Blue Says:

    Jeff – threats and hate=Christian definition of “love”. As in “Jesus loves you….but you’re gonna burn in hell forever and ever!” “Love your neighbor as yourself….but only if he/she goes to the same church and is the same color as you!” And don’t forget that wives, in order to show their “love” for their husbands, must “submit to him in all things.” Note that the man is not required to “love” his wife. So, from this we can conclude that to Christians, “love” is a synonym for vengeance, bigotry, and misogyny, just to name a few.

  8. Brian Says:

    I have to say I do agree with something that twit on the radio said: Hitchens would definitely not have enjoyed being in Heaven, at least the one described by most Christians. For that matter neither would I. How terrifying would it be to have your individuality, your wants and desires, and your love for everyone in your life to be consumed for all eternity by your requirement to worship a tyrannical cosmic monster who deserves neither your praise nor your adulation? There will be no chance for enlightenment or intellectual fulfillment, no opportunity to answer big questions about our universe, just an unending sentence of kissing God’s ass with no opportunity for escape or reprieve. I like to imagine that upon being shown the glorious future he would be missing, Hitch unflinchingly gave God both middle fingers and a resounding “Fuck you” to our loving creator. I confess that fantasy gives me a little smile.

  9. Jeff Says:

    Something else that bothers me about this – so much that I’m up at 4:00am thinking about it:

    Two people presented with exactly the same information can respond in opposite ways. Faith is not based solely on facts. It is a gift from a God who exists.

    So, faith is a gift, and you can’t have faith unless God decides to give it to you – but you’re still responsible for not believing?

    Fundie apologetics sites are full of “arguments” attempting to reconcile the conflict between predestination and free will. They all fail miserably, but you can’t tell them that. It all makes perfect sense to them. We don’t get it, because we don’t have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.

    The human capacity for denial and cognitive dissonance would appear to be endless. This is the reason I have no hope for the future.

  10. Ron Says:

    Scripture warns, “The fool has said in his heart ‘there is no God.’” (Psalm 14:1)

    I wonder why those who quote this verse never quote the remainder: “They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.”

    Is it because reality conflicts with scripture or because they’ve never actually read the passage in its entirety?

  11. Sue Blue Says:

    I got into trouble as a teenager in a church group for asking if anybody had ever wondered exactly why Satan rebelled against God. If worshipping god was so resplendently wonderful all the time, and brought such fabulous rewards, why was Lucifer not content? The pastor told me that Lucifer was doing a power-grab; he wanted God’s power and wasn’t content to be second fiddle. Okay…but that doesn’t answer the question, does it? Why wasn’t he content with worshipping his creator? The fact that God created someone who was capable of rebelling kind of throws a monkey wrench into that whole “omniscient and omnipotent” idea. I asked if anyone had ever looked at it from Lucifer’s point of view. Here’s this god who demands unquestioning, perfect loyalty all the time. What’s he really done to earn that, huh? Is he some kind of narcissist that creates beings just to have someone to kiss his ass all the time and tell him how great he is? Why would someone want to be around a bastard like that? Apparently, this pissed off not only Lucifer, but a third of all the angels – which must have been quite a large number. Now, angels are further up the hierarchy than humans, so they’re probably pretty smart. Even so, they weren’t convinced that god deserved respect…so NOT omnipotent, dude! Needless to say, all I got out of this argument was some stink-eye and an invitation to leave.

  12. Jeff Says:

    @Sue Blue – Oh, yes – God forbid you should challenge their delusion.

    I’ve tried suggesting that if humans sinned right out of the starting gate, there must have been something wrong with the blueprint. Needless to say, you don’t get anything remotely resembling a straight answer.

  13. Cyc Says:

    Very well done, just had a chance to read through this and loved every moment of it. It really is absurd that even a fraction of those arguments can be seen by many as even slightly convincing.

  14. akg41470 Says:

    Best article in a long time. Good to have you back.

  15. Ron Britton Says:

    akg41470:

    Best article in a long time.

    Unfortunately, you’re right. I recently looked through some of my old articles and was impressed. I don’t know how I maintained that level of output.

    This blog is like urine. Its flow decreases with age.

  16. B.R. Says:

    This was a really well-done piece. The way fundies gloat over the deaths of their opponents tells me everything I need to know about the cult of the Jewish Sky Zombie.

  17. Infidel753 Says:

    Have you considered bringing this response to Cal Thomas’s attention? It’s such a devastating take-down, and so totally exposes his illogic and incoherence, that I’d think it would give him serious pause at the very least.

  18. Ron Britton Says:

    Infidel:

    They tend to be blind to their illogic. That’s how they fool themselves in the first place. He’d be able to justify to himself why each of my points doesn’t really apply.

    It also seems vain to send emails to people saying “look what I just did!”

  19. Shannon Says:

    @ Jeff: They take it a step further. I have two children on the autism spectrum and have stopped seeking support on autism websites, because it is so common to see idiotic fundies spewing garbage on them. I don’t get out much because of my daughter’s social anxiety, so now there is no support open to me at all, but being without it is better than seeing the idiotic, hateful shit they post every day. I have been told that the christian god is punishing my children for my sins by afflicting them with autism, and that they’re being punished for their own sins – the ones they committed while still in the womb, among other ridiculous things. It makes me so sad to see this, for their children as well as mine and I can’t help feeling that a brutal and terrifying ‘deliverance’ (exorcism) lurks in many of their children’s futures.

    It never ceases to amaze me, the hateful bullshit they attribute to their god (things would be considered horrible/sinful/evil if done by other humans) yet they still manage to find a way to justify the things he does in their minds and still think of him as ‘loving’.

    Explaining this to them is of course, pointless. All you’ll get in response is the old ‘god’s ways are different from man’s ways’ canard and a reminder of how true the ‘teaching a pig to sing’ analogy really is.

  20. Jeff Says:

    @Shannon: Explaining this to them is of course, pointless. All you’ll get in response is the old ‘god’s ways are different from man’s ways’ canard and a reminder of how true the ‘teaching a pig to sing’ analogy really is.

    Yep. I say it all the time – engagement is useless and a complete waste of time. The handful who have the capability to leave that world will do so anyway.

  21. Sue Blue Says:

    So many have covered this argument better than I can – Hitchens and Dawkins and Sam Harris and Carl Sagan all addressed it: Truth, facts, and reality are not decided by popular vote. I don’t know why this is such a difficult concept for fundies to grasp. That millions share their delusions does not mean said delusions are real or true. Not all opinions are equally worthy. “Alternative” viewpoints don’t deserve consideration just because they exist. This is why “faith” is meaningless.

  22. Jeff Says:

    I don’t know why this is such a difficult concept for fundies to grasp.

    Neurology. Hardwiring. At this point, you’d have to work very hard to convince me otherwise.

  23. Sue Blue Says:

    Jeff, you may be right. It may explain why people like Francis Collins, not to mention some members of my own family, who have been highly educated in science (especially biology, chemistry, or physics) can still believe in god. They like to pretend that this gives them some sort of extra virtue, as if coming through years of rigorous study requiring the use of critical thinking, reasoning, logic, and application of the scientific method with their faith stubbornly intact somehow validates that faith. To me it just seems to indicate something fundamentally wrong with their brains. I had my doubts about religion even as a child, but it was my medical education that really killed off any vestiges of superstition for me. Once I developed a knowledge of biology and understood how natural selection works, I could no longer even pretend to have a belief in god. I know there is a lot of study going on in neuroscience about the origins, whys and wherefores of religious belief – very interesting stuff!

  24. Sue Blue Says:

    @Shannon: It sounds like no support at all is better than what you get on those websites. What christians call compassion is worse than hate. They seem to have only two stances when it comes to tragedy: a.) if you’re a “good” christian and something bad happens, god is testing your faith, like Job; and b.) if you’re a backslider or an atheist and something bad happens, you’re being punished. There really are no innocent victims in their worldview. That they can call a god who would punish innocent infants and children for their parents’ sins a loving god is just fucking heinous in my opinion. By their definition, a parent who beats and murders their child is just a loving disciplinarian like god… which actually happens, come to think about it. Then there are the conspiracy theorists and the crazies who want to blame autism on vaccines and evil government plots. Anything to avoid facing and dealing with things that, unfortunately, just happen biologically. Blame and guilt just makes it that much harder to effectively move on, live and love.
    When my son was killed in 2005 I encountered many of the same hateful and hurtful assumptions from christians as you have. I’ve had to give up twenty-plus years of supposed friendship with neighbors and others who I thought I could count on for support, all because of their nasty christian attitudes toward death and suffering. It is a common theme in my bereavement group – most don’t feel supported or loved by their church. They get blame, snide remarks about judgment, dismissal of their grief with such crap as “you’ll be together again if you have faith”. Just plain cruel. I’ve never encountered this amongst atheists. Some of the most kind, helpful and supportive people during my grief were atheist bloggers I’ve never even seen.

  25. Jeff Says:

    Sue, I’m so sorry. It’s the worst thing that can happen to a parent.

    As for the rest of what you’re saying — yes, but their perennial excuse is “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven”, and that God won’t overlook your lack of belief because of anything anyone else might have done to drive you away, etc.

    Toxic belief system. It has no right to exist.

  26. Jim Jones Says:

    Jeff Says: “Neurology. Hardwiring. At this point, you’d have to work very hard to convince me otherwise.”

    My working hypothesis is that 98% of people are as dumb as a sack of rocks. I see no evidence so far that I am wrong – quite the reverse.

    In general, atheists have to think about religion. Theists don’t and can’t. If I am ever on trial, give me an all atheist jury.

  27. Jeff Says:

    My working hypothesis is that 98% of people are as dumb as a sack of rocks.

    Agreed. I can’t believe we’ve made it this far. I’m convinced we won’t last much longer.

  28. Parrotlover77 Says:

    @Sue Blue – You had a shitty 2005 too, I see. I lost my first wife in 2005 (she was 26). Her parents are basically fundie but her mom actually got pretty decent support form their church. I have mixed feelings on the whole thing. On the one hand, it seems to help her and her friends at church are very supportive. But on the other hand, the whole “you will see her again in heaven one day” type of thought process seems to slow down the healing process since religion keeps promoting the thought that she still exists in some form. It’s like it prevents the part of the grief process where you, for lack of a better term, “let go” which delays moving on and letting yourself enjoy life again.

    I’m just glad that everybody stopped bothering me about finding god / going to church / etc within a couple weeks. I don’t know if I could have taken it for much longer.

    ETA: The Jehovah’s Witnesses are inhuman scum. I guess they just send letters to the family of everybody in the obituaries every week. I got a hand written note and it went on and on about what needed to be done to save my late wife’s soul. This about a week after she died. That pissed me off so much.

  29. Ron Britton Says:

    PL:

    But on the other hand, the whole “you will see her again in heaven one day” type of thought process seems to slow down the healing process

    It’s interesting that you then added that note about the Jehovah’s Witnesses. I went to a JW funeral a couple of years ago and was rather stunned. Everybody was happy! There was no grieving!

    The JW’s apparently believe that when they die, they don’t go to heaven or hell. They just fester in the ground in some sort of suspended animation until Jesus comes back. Then they all crawl out of their graves like a scene from some sort of bad horror movie and shamble off behind Jesus (presumably yelling “Brains!”) and smite Satan. Then everyone goes on up to heaven for tea and crumpets. Or something.

    Anyway, that’s a diseased approach to coping with death. It completely suppresses the natural grieving process and must surely be producing psychological problems.

  30. Sue Blue Says:

    Yes, 2005 was a banner year for major shittiness. And I found the smarmy attitudes and platitudes of church people to be the shitty gift that keeps on giving. Or keeps on stinking. It really is a major impediment to healthy grief resolution.

    My SDA family believes the same thing about the dead. The dead “know not anything” according to the bible, so they believe in the whole Second Coming Reanimation thing too. On the up side, they don’t believe in ghosts or mediums speaking to the dead or any of that shit—but then I wonder how they square that with the whole concept of the “Holy Ghost” and the passages where the bible talks about spirits of the dead. I hate the whole stupid idea. I think facing the fact that our loved ones are gone forever and don’t exist except in memory takes much more strength of character and a determination to appreciate the life we have instead of wasting it waiting for some bogus future life.