22 God-Awful “Reasons”

I ran across a YouTube video called “22 Reasons to STOP BELIEVING in God” by The Atheist Voice.  Well, why not? It’s only 3 1/3 minutes long, and has nearly half a million views.  So let’s go through these 22 reasons and see if any of them comes close to a GOOD REASON to stop believing in God.

NOTE: It turns out that “22 Reasons to STOP BELIEVING in God” really means “22 Reasons to STOP BEING A CHRISTIAN.” Maybe not surprising, but I thought I’d warn you.

NOTE: Reason 1 is pretty bad. It’s the sort of thing a freshman in a philosophy or theology class would say. But they go steadily downhill from there. You have been warned.

NOTE: I apologize for how long this is going to be. I didn’t realize that, while it’s a short video, it’s also a Gish Gallop.  For those of you who don’t know what a Gish Gallop is, it’s the rhetorical technique of throwing out so many one-liners that your opponent is overwhelmed by them, since each one would take a lot more than one line to answer, and you get many—in this case 22—flung at you at high speed. This principle, noted by Charles Manson prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi also applies here:

vincentbugliosionesentence

This imbalance between the ease of asserting something in one sentence and the need for a lengthy argument to refute the assertion, combined with the Gish Gallop, actually makes this little video rather time consuming to answer.  Not difficult, but still time consuming.

Reason 1: If God knows everything we are going to do in the future, then we don’t have free will. But we do have free will.

Answer: This objection is somewhat sensible. It’s the kind of thing a freshman might come up with in a philosophy or theology class.  The error here is the failure to grasp that God does not exist IN TIME.  What this means (to keep it simple) is that God knows what you “will do” in the  future because from God’s point of view YOU ARE DOING IT RIGHT NOW AND HE IS SEEING YOU DO IT.  Now, it should be obvious that someone seeing you choose something doesn’t eliminate your free will. If I watch you order a Pepsi rather than a Coke, I don’t somehow control you. The error here is to mistakenly think of God as an entity in time, right now, but having knowledge, right now, of the future.  However God is not in time, but eternal. To be eternal does not mean (and has never meant) “to endure throughout all time” but “to be outside time entirely.”  If you want a philosophically rigorous account of this, I refer you to Boethius’ On The Consolation of Philosophy.

Reason 2: If God doesn’t know what we are going to do in the future, he isn’t omniscient.

Answer: God does know, so he is. Although I should note that, as with “omnipotent,” “omniscient” is a clearly defined term.  It means “knows everything possible to know.” One “limit” for example on God’s knowledge is false things. God cannot “know” something which is false.  If you do not have 33 brothers, God cannot “know” you have 33 brothers.  Because knowledge, by definition, is of true things only.  One rhetorical technique sometimes used by atheists is to redefine terms such as knowledge, and to pretend that it is possible to know false things, and then claim to impugn God’s omniscience if He fails to “know” false things.  This is much more common in the case of omnipotence, which like omniscience, is well-defined: the ability to do anything possible to do.  If a task is inherently contradictory, such as “give man free will while at the same time withholding free will from man”, one has NOT specified a task God is “unable” to do; one has merely said something self-contradictory, which is nonsense.  Logically, saying “God cannot do [self-contradictory thing X]” is a cogent as God cannot do [nonsense word W].”  And obviously, saying something like “God cannot farblefringersilize a vodvomormonort,” is hardly a strong proof that God is not omniscient—unless you are able to coherently define your terms.  The proper response to the old freshman question “Can God make a stone so heavy He can’t lift it?” is to ask “What do you mean by the property ‘cannot by lifted by something that can lift anything’?”  It’s really an appeal to an image concrete task (lifting a stone) which seems to make sense of the thing, but it’s logical form is “Can God do something He cannot do?” or “Can God do [meaningless because self-contradictory phrase]?” e.g. “Can God make a thing that is not what it is?” But God’s “inability” to do nonsense is not a limit to His power—because nonsense is not a something that it is possible to do.

Reason 3: God couldn’t stop a murder when there were only four people on earth.

Answer: Please tell me the freshman objection isn’t going to be the strongest one? God could have, didn’t, next. I will note that this is a very common atheist argument PATTERN: it assumes that God ‘would have done such and such’ or ‘if I were God I would have done such and such’—but of course no human being, not even atheists (even though they sometimes seem to think otherwise) are omniscient and infinitely wise. The theist, holding that God is all-knowing and all-good, holds that God always acts in the way that is best, even if the reasons for this are not apparent to us.

Reason 4: If we’re supposed to be God’s special creatures, then the universe is full of a lot of wasted space.

Answer: This argument from the “bigness” of the universe is one of the worst possible arguments “not to believe in God.” First, it’s a non sequitur, insofar as we don’t actually know that the rest of the universe is “wasted” as opposed to FOR SOMETHING UNKNOWN TO US.

What is truly ridiculous is that this ridiculous argument is FELT (not reasoned, obviously) to have some sort of point. And I think it does have a kind of resonance with a certain kind of emotional attitude towards life and existence, and not a healthy one.  I’m going to give this insipid argument far more reply than it deserves, because the replies are of much greater worth than the “objection”:

Here is G. K. Chesterton, from Orthodoxy:

Herbert Spencer would have been greatly annoyed if any one had called him an imperialist, and therefore it is highly regrettable that nobody did. But he was an imperialist of the lowest type. He popularized this contemptible notion that the size of the solar system ought to over-awe the spiritual dogma of man. Why should a man surrender his dignity to the solar system any more than to a whale? If mere size proves that man is not the image of God, then a whale may be the image of God; a somewhat formless image; what one might call an impressionist portrait. It is quite futile to argue that man is small compared to the cosmos; for man was always small compared to the nearest tree. But Herbert Spencer, in his headlong imperialism, would insist that we had in some way been conquered and annexed by the astronomical universe. He spoke about men and their ideals exactly as the most insolent Unionist talks about the Irish and their ideals. He turned mankind into a small nationality. And his evil influence can be seen even in the most spirited and honourable of later scientific authors; notably in the early romances of Mr. H.G. Wells. Many moralists have in an exaggerated way represented the earth as wicked. But Mr. Wells and his school made the heavens wicked. We should lift up our eyes to the stars from whence would come our ruin.

But the expansion of which I speak was much more evil than all this. I have remarked that the materialist, like the madman, is in prison; in the prison of one thought. These people seemed to think it singularly inspiring to keep on saying that the prison was very large. The size of this scientific universe gave one no novelty, no relief. The cosmos went on for ever, but not in its wildest constellation could there be anything really interesting; anything, for instance, such as forgiveness or free will. The grandeur or infinity of the secret of its cosmos added nothing to it. It was like telling a prisoner in Reading gaol that he would be glad to hear that the gaol now covered half the county. The warder would have nothing to show the man except more and more long corridors of stone lit by ghastly lights and empty of all that is human. So these expanders of the universe had nothing to show us except more and more infinite corridors of space lit by ghastly suns and empty of all that is divine.

In fairyland there had been a real law; a law that could be broken, for the definition of a law is something that can be broken. But the machinery of this cosmic prison was something that could not be broken; for we ourselves were only a part of its machinery. We were either unable to do things or we were destined to do them. The idea of the
mystical condition quite disappeared; one can neither have the firmness of keeping laws nor the fun of breaking them. The largeness of this universe had nothing of that freshness and airy outbreak which we have praised in the universe of the poet. This modern universe is literally an empire; that is, it is vast, but it is not free. One went into larger and larger windowless rooms, rooms big with Babylonian perspective; but one never found the smallest window or a whisper of outer air.

Their infernal parallels seemed to expand with distance; but for me all good things come to a point, swords for instance. So finding the boast of the big cosmos so unsatisfactory to my emotions I began to argue about it a little; and I soon found that the whole attitude was even shallower than could have been expected. According to these people the cosmos was one thing since it had one unbroken rule. Only (they would say) while it is one thing it is also the only thing there is. Why, then, should one worry particularly to call it large? There is nothing to compare it with. It would be just as sensible to call it small. A man may say, “I like this vast cosmos, with its throng of stars and its crowd of varied creatures.” But if it comes to that why should not a man say, “I like this cosy little cosmos, with its decent number of stars and as neat a provision of live stock as I wish to see”? One is as good as the other; they are both mere sentiments. It is mere sentiment to rejoice that the sun is larger than the earth; it is quite as sane a sentiment to rejoice that the sun is no larger than it is. A man chooses to have an emotion about the largeness of the world; why should he not choose to have an emotion about its smallness?

It happened that I had that emotion. When one is fond of anything one addresses it by diminutives, even if it is an elephant or a lifeguardsman. The reason is, that anything, however huge, that can be conceived of as complete, can be conceived of as small. If military moustaches did not suggest a sword or tusks a tail, then the object would be vast because it would be immeasurable. But the moment you can imagine a guardsman you can imagine a small guardsman. The moment you really see an elephant you can call it “Tiny.” If you can make a statue of a thing you can make a statuette of it. These people professed that the universe was one coherent thing; but they were not fond of the universe. But I was frightfully fond of the universe and wanted to address it by a diminutive. I often did so; and it never seemed to mind. Actually and in truth I did feel that these dim dogmas of vitality were better expressed by calling the world small than by calling it large. For about infinity there was a sort of carelessness which was the reverse of the fierce and pious care which I felt touching the pricelessness and the peril of life. They showed only a dreary waste; but I felt a sort of sacred thrift. For economy is far more romantic than extravagance. To them stars were an unending income of halfpence; but I felt about the golden sun and the silver moon as a schoolboy feels if he has one sovereign and one shilling.

And if Chesterton isn’t enough, I also refer the reader to John C. Wright’s blog post “Earth Looked so Small as to Make me Ashamed of Our Empire” and “Size Does Matter.”  Enjoy!

Reason 5: The myth of a great flood and a virgin birth were around long before Jesus came around. Maybe those are just elements of an interesting story.

Answer: Christians have always known this.

A more interesting question is WHY certain stories and themes repeat themselves throughout the world’s mythology.  To take things in order, the flood was not said to have happened at the time of Jesus, so it isn’t clear what why stories of a great flood pre-dating Jesus would be evidence against … what? Universal stories of a great flood may not be conclusive evidence FOR a great flood, but they sure as hell aren’t evidence AGAINST one.  “Everyone, everywhere speaks of a certain event; therefore, this event did not happen.” This is a strange argument, at the least.

But the Christian account suggests that the myths and the mythological in general served as a kind of divine foreshadowing. Remember, Jesus is not in any way a “mythological” person, but a living, concrete, historical person. In Christ, myth becomes reality.  Another way the virgin brith was foreshadowed was prophesy.  That certain cosmically important events were foreseen or foreshadowed is not an argument that they didn’t happen.

The fundamental distinction that needs to be held on to is that Jesus is a historical person, not a myth.

I won’t, here, get into all the ways in which the “mythological stories that pre-date Jesus” are far less common that is often suggested.  To take a simple example: it is almost certain that the parallels between Jesus and Krishna are a result of Hindu priests taking their tales from the Christians, and not the other way around (Krishna tales first appear around 600-800 AD).

And isn’t this supposed to be “22 Reasons to STOP BELIEVING in God”?  It seems it is, in reality, “22 Reasons to STOP BEING A CHRISTIAN.”

Reason 6: Virgins can’t get pregnant.

Answer: Really? THIS is a “reason” to stop believing in God? Really?

God is all powerful. God can cause a virgin to become pregnant.

Oh, God. That freshman level objection you started with really is going to be the strongest one, isn’t it?

Reason 7: Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin: Christian. Barney Frank: Not a Christian.

Answer: So? St. Francis of Assisi: Christian. Joseph Stalin and Adolph Hitler: Not Christian. Also: Barney Frank? Not an atheist.

Reason 8: Christians disagree among themselves about some things, so Christianity is false.

Answer: Disagreement doesn’t prove no one is right. Scientists disagree with each other. Flat-earthers disagree that the earth is spherical: does that “prove” that all theories about the shape of the earth are false? Atheists disagree with other atheists; therefore atheism is false. See how convincing that is?

Reason 9: The Bible is full of contradictions.

Answer: No it isn’t. Learn how to read it properly.  You didn’t give any examples, so I won’t attempt to refute any.

Reason 10: If God made us in His image, why do we have vestigial organs and body parts that often fail?

Answer: The Christian teaching is not and never has been that “made in the image of God” means God has a human body. He doesn’t. This question is just stupid.

Reason 11: 99.9% of all species are extinct. How many “do-overs” does God need?

Answer: So above re: the “wasted space” argument, since this is basically a “wasted species” argument. Lacking omniscience, why do you think this is not according to the divine plan? What percentage of species SHOULD BE extinct, according to you? “If God existed, no species would be extinct.” Is that the premise here? Why would you think that?

Reason 12: “God doesn’t exist because I said so.”

Answer: There’s just no bottom to this, is there?

Reason 13: The Holocaust.

Answer: Yes, we know God permits evil. Your point? Can you refute this claim, for example? It always seems to me like the argument from evil rests an inability to imagine something so good and perfect that would make any finite amount of evil worth it. But of course, that is precisely WHAT GOD IS.

motherteresa

Reason 14: The proof people give that God exists is often based on their personal experiences. “It’s the sort of proof we would NEVER take seriously if it were applied anywhere else.”

Answer: There are no impersonal experiences. ALL experience is personal experience. What else would it BE? What’s your point?

And about the “we’d never take it seriously,” that’s false. We have NO EVIDENCE WHATEVER that anyone besides ourself is CONSCIOUS—other than THEIR own personal experience that they are, and them telling us.  It is no more UNREASONABLE to believe reports about experiences of God than it is to believe in other minds. And if you don’t believe in other minds, you are a manifestly irrational person who has ridiculous standards of belief, probably due to some sort of ideology.

In fact, the ONLY people I have ever heard DENY that other minds exist are atheists who have realized that our evidence for other minds is very similar to our evidence for God, and who (therefore) want to close that possible door. I really don’t believe them when they deny believing in other minds, not least because they are bothering to TELL ME, a presumably mindless automaton, all about it.

Reason 15: Too many of God’s followers, using Bible verses to support their beliefs, have made life worse for other people.

Answer: Many have. But how does that impugn the truth of Christianity? Christianity doesn’t teach that Christians will be good people. It teaches (1) they should be, and (2) most won’t be.  Also, many Christians have lived lives of charity and service to their fellow man, due to their Christian faith.  Do you really think the world would be a BETTER PLACE if Christianity with its commandments to love one’s neighbor and practice charity, did not exist?

Reason 16: “No matter what Ray Comfort says, God didn’t create bananas to look like this. They evolved this way without God’s help.”

Answer: Setting aside the fact that you correct YOURSELF, and note that bananas WERE INDEED engineered to be as they are, albeit by human beings, you offer no evidence that any case of evolution was “without God’s help.”  How do you propose to prove that evolution is UNGUIDED?  Seems like you are just question-beggingly assuming it. Most Christians don’t see a contradiction between evolution and Christianity—that’s only some loony Protestant fundamentalists.  And yes, thinking all Christians are loony Protestant fundamentalists must be very comforting, because they are living straw men.  But, sorry to tell you, eventually you’ll have to address serious and educated Christians, if you want to discredit Christianity, and not merely its lunatic fringe.

Reason 17: Every time science and religion go head to head, science wins.

Answer: When has this happened?

Reason 18: You don’t need God to be a good person.

Answer: Well, you do need God to have a good reason to be a good person, or a rationally coherent ground for your ethics.  Also, atheism renders at least two virtues impossible: piety and faith. So, without God, you can’t be a fully good person. And even more, our ability to be good is limited, and at the end of the day, we are incapable of being good in an exemplary way, without God’s assistance, viz. divine grace.  So, this is a half-truth. An atheist can be, for a given value of “good”, a relatively good person as far as natural human effort can accomplish, except for the virtues which his atheism actually prevents him from having.  But no atheist can be holy, that is, a saint. So atheism does put a definite ceiling on how good you can be.

Reason 19: People have been saying that Jesus is coming back in their lifetime for many, many, many lifetimes.

Answer: Yes, they have. But Christian teaching is very clear that we do not know when Jesus will return.  Again, human beings are highly fallible, which includes Christians, and are prone to overreach in their claims to know things—much like your claim to know, e.g. that evolution is unguided by God.

Reason 20: God works in mysterious ways is typically a euphemism for “stop asking hard questions.”

Answer: No, it isn’t. It’s a convenient expression for the rather obvious point that we are not in a position to evaluate, know, comprehend, or judge the actions of an infinite, all-powerful, all-knowing being.  As I Christian I’m perfectly content to say “I don’t know” about many things. “I don’t know” seems to be the sane answer to “Why did God do X or not do Y?” So it’s more like “stop asking unanswerable questions, and expecting an answer.” Unanswerable questions are neither “hard” nor “easy.” They simply cannot be answered.

Reason 21: Natural disasters.

Answer: Again, God permits evil, including natural evils, such as natural disasters. We never said he didn’t. If your claim is “God as Christians understand God would not permit natural disasters” what’s your argument that He wouldn’t? How do you know? Where did you get the yardstick to measure the actions of an infinite being? This seem to be yet another variant on “I, atheist X, am in a position no know what God, an omniscient and all-wise being, would or would not do in situation S, and to make judgments on the basis of my knowledge.”  But this premise is either false or you are, yourself, omniscient and all-wise.

Reason 22: You were made in God’s image—except for your foreskin, apparently; you need to cut that off.

Answer: Well, you managed to save the worst for last. Frankly, I didn’t think you could go lower than “God doesn’t exist because I said so” but this may have done.

I’m done, and I am now a dumber person for having gone through this. I hope you, readers, enjoyed it more than I did. My pain is over now, at least—for now.

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40 comments on “22 God-Awful “Reasons”

  1. Jeezus, I’m an atheist and I could destroy all of those arguments without breaking a sweat. That’s awful. You are a brave soul for taking on this task and I salute you.

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  2. notabilia says:

    Here is an article that you should think long and hard about, and why, because you are so irrational, you are so immoral. And not just you, but the other irrational, highly immoral nonsenese-believers here on wordpress.

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161121144725.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ftop_news%2Ftop_science+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Top+Science+News%29

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    • Jason says:

      This is ludicrous. It’s probably generous to say that there are around a hundred thousand people worldwide who know enough about evolution to build a complete logical case in casual conversation. I have read several books on the subject, I read all the right blogs (West Hunter, Razib, John Hawks, etc) and even I need to grab a resource from time to time when I defend it. People ought to stop publishing crap like this that equates evolution with common sense and basic reason. On its most vast timescale, evolution by natural selection as the fundamental scientific theorem for all of life highly counterintuitive – that’s why Darwin had to take a boat around *the whole world* to gather enough evidence to demonstrate it.

      And as for political “fact checkers,” if you think a guy is more likely to be right because he self-applies the label of fact-checker, I have some real estate in Florida you might be interested in.

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      • notabilia says:

        Yo seem to be arguing against some phantoms in the air – the article is only tangentially about evolution, but much more about the imperative to equate irrationality with immorality.
        Keep arguing with yourself – that way your are always right.

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        • Jason says:

          Allow me to rephrase what you are saying:

          “You seem to be arguing with phantoms in the air because you are arguing with only parts of the article and not its main thrust.”

          What?

          Anyway, if you want me to address the main thrust, I’d be happy to.

          It is indeed a morally responsible thing to in general apply calm, rational thought to one’s actions and arguments. It is folly, however, to attempt an equation of morality with rationality. For example, when I walk down the hall at work, there is a particular metal pole that I like to hit with the palm of my hand, producing a pleasant (to me anyway) reverberating noise that lasts for perhaps two seconds. At some level, I believe this action brings me luck – just a form of silly magical thinking. I know in my rational mind that it is silly, but I also know that it is harmless, so I do it anyway. To call such behavior immoral would be ludicrous. There are rational actions, irrational actions, moral actions, and immoral actions. One can construct a Ven diagram where there would be overlap between the rational and immoral, the moral and the rational, the irrational and the immoral, and perhaps even the irrational and moral.

          And, I’d of course be happy to see a cultural shift toward everyone calming down and thinking for a few seconds before speaking, but I doubt that will happen any time soon. The Greeks invented logic a little over two thousand years ago. Passion and magical thinking have been with us since the dawn – they have a bit of a leg up.

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          • notabilia says:

            There are degrees of irrationality, of course – from silly superstitions like yours to extremely consequential and deleterious ones like smoking, climate change denial, and religion.
            We all have some degree of unconscious irrationality to our thoughts, but the more a society can establish a brake on the cultural approval of deleterious irrationality, the better.
            Yes. you are right that “magical thinking” has a long and sordid history, as well as enduring pull, but we might as well confront it while we can.

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    • Eve Keneinan says:

      To draw from a scientific study which shows that some people “moralize rationality” more than others the conclusion, as the author if the study does, “we SHOULD moralize rationality” is an obviously irrational inference. From the fact that “some people do X to a high degree and others do not,” how does he purport, rationally, to infer “We should all do X to a high degree”?

      Since the report actually makes those who highly “moralize rationality” sound very much like condescending bigots, it’s hard to see why he would assume this is a good thing.

      And since I have spent my life around highly educated intellectuals, I am in a good position to judge that morality and rationality in no way correlate. Rationality very easily devolves into being highly skilled at means-ends deliberations without the slightest bit of conscience. It was intellectuals who engineered the genocides of the 20th century—they were EFFICIENT and HIGHLY RATIONAL—for a given value of “rational”, namely the kind of means-ends efficiency most often cited as the paradigm of rationality by those overly enchanted with science and/or the Enlightenment.

      Given the choice of living among the “irrational” Amish or the “rational” leaders of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror, I’d choose the irrational Amish any day of the week. Between the simple piety of uneducated country Christian and the “rationality” of a sophisticated Machiavellian urbanite, once again, “rationality” seems to correlate highly with wickedness.

      My conclusion is that most of those who, as per the cited study, “moralize rationality” are acting in a way that is manifestly irrational in so doing. They are mistaking a non-moral quality for a moral quality, and in so doing, are making false (and often bigoted) judgments about the moral character of others.

      The contempt which people who fancy themselves “rational” shower upon those of simple faith and piety is disgusting. In them, the vice of arrogance rings loudly and clearly.

      The Christian faith has always rejected this sort of thing:

      “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

      “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
      and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart.”

      Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to the Greeks, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”

      [St. Paul, 1st Corinthians 17-25]

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      • notabilia says:

        Sure, “rationality” can be turned inside and out, but there are huge and ridiculous leaps you take in defense of the poor, beleaguered pietists of the Crusades, the Inquisition, anti-abortionism, the American military empire.
        How is state genocide supposed to be termed “rational” it was manifestly irrational, being based on nothing but pseudo-science, as our current incarantions of monotheistic religion. We can, and should, debate how to establish “rationality,” but it is not going to come through fundamentalist citations of some ancient cult.
        You are in quite the favor of the Amish – have you ever considered what is like to be a woman in that abusive, horrific patriarchal order? Has its prelapsarian credo won the day against the forces of technology?
        This ridiculous pose of victimhood in the generous employ of the wicked intellectuals of the academy is preposterous. If your identification is so strongly with the Amish, why did you not join them?.

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        • Jason says:

          She didn’t say she wanted to be Amish. She said she’d rather be Amish than walk to work with human blood sloshing up to her ankles. What are you smoking?

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          • notabilia says:

            No kidding. Yet “the Amish” are always (or Marilynne Robison’s case, anyway) invoked as a kind of sacrosanct rebuke to all the mean ol’ atheists who dare to trample on religion’s pure nobility. The Amish are a patriarchal cult, as any testimony from a fleeing member can suggest, full of horror for women and children, so let’s retire the ritual invocation, shall we?
            And yes, we agree, it is “irrational” to suggest walking around in the sloshing blood of humans.
            Now that we all agree, let’s be as rational as we can, given that we are a fanciful species.

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        • Eve Keneinan says:

          Human beings are, as Aristotle said, rational animals. That means than reason is constitutive of our being—not that human beings will be generally reasonable. Experience teaches us that they will no be reasonable.

          One mystery is: since human beings have to capacity for reason, why do they behave in ways so manifestly irrational?

          You can give a naturalistic evolutionary account of this, in which case you end up saying (with Nietzsche) that reason is merely a tool, and certain kinds of irrationality are more important.

          Or you can give the Christian answer: that we are fallen beings. Existentially, the Christian account (even if recounted in mythological language) seems be the accurate one: human beings are ontologically broken. We are fallen beings, containing some kind of flaw in our very being, such that we are constantly not how and what we should be. We are rational beings, and yet we are not rational. We are moral beings, yet we are immoral. Etc. The Christian account is rational, because it explains this state of affairs. No other account, to my knowledge, manages to do so.

          Look at some of your examples of “irrationality”: The Crusades, an entirely just war in the light of the Islamic Conquests; and “anti-abortionism”? What is irrational about that? You go on to say that genocide is irrational. Why is mass killing of unborn children rational? Why is genocide irrational? I suspect you are just cherry picking things you don’t like and calling them “irrational,” and things you do like and calling them “rational.” Which is what people who “moralize rationality” do. Which of course was my point.

          As for the wonders of technology, I’m less impressed by it than you are. It has given us many useful things, but it has not made us, as far as I can tell, happier, wiser, more just, or more virtuous. And of course technology has also provided (and continues to work to provide more) means to annihilate our own species. If we do end up using our technology to destroy ourselves, that cost won’t be worth any possible technological gains.

          Finally, the academy is very corrupt, and everyone knows that it is. Professors openly shill for their ideologies and—like you—justify this by claiming it to be “only rational.”

          Atheists are sometimes fond of accusing Christians of ad hoc justifications in which they say of whatever they want to do or believe “it’s God’s will.” In fact, Christians are rather constrained in their actions and beliefs by Christian orthodoxy. But atheists all too often fall into the trap of ad hoc justification of anything they want to do or believe because “it’s rational.” We know Mao’s and Stalin’s murders of millions were “rational”—because they were “scientific,” based on the “science” of Marxism. What? Marxism isn’t a science, you want to say? I can cite literally thousands of those academics you trust so much who say otherwise, not to mention thousands of figures in history who not only believed in the complete “rationality” of Marxism—but acted on it.

          Like

          • notabilia says:

            Obviously your response falls into the “irrational” camp, just as any defense of harsupicy, astrology, fake moon landings, or any other of the millions of contemporary and historical myths and superstitions would be. And yet science, as David Wooton explains in his recent “The Invention of Science,” has been in one continuous revolution against these baseless dogmas.
            It’s been hundreds of years now in this revolution, yet we still get persistent nonsense refracted in bizarre and seemingly immovable religion-based anti-science, as in calling the necessary and widely used practice of pregnancy termination as planning as “genocide.” This is evil – poor women will be forced to bear their children as a result of this lunatic condemnation of their rights to decent family planning an on-going horror that will be recorded as evidence of religion’s worst appeals to irrational hatred, which you exemplify in all that you write here.
            We will always have to define anew what “rationality” means, and on that we probably agree.
            Anyone who clings to refuted, evidence-less pre-literate mythology is going to have to contend with being called “irrational,” just as the blood-letting “doctors” and phrenologists and phlogistonists, your predecessors, were. As that one study indicated, making our provisional attempts at rationality become aligned with morality will be a welcome advancement from this misery-inducing protection of anti-humane irrationality, such as the bizarre vituperation you peddle.

            Like

            • theofloinn says:

              Actually, the blood-letting thing was the height of science in its day. There was nothing irrational about it. The same is true of phlogiston, although when it was finally identified it was called “oxygen” and its properties were somewhat different than expected. More troubling is the Darwin-denying propensity of those approving of destroying their children in utero: “[E]very single organic being around us may be said to be striving to the utmost to increase in numbers” and “each organic being is striving to increase at a geometrical ratio.” The Origin of Species, p. 66, 78-9

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              • notabilia says:

                There’s no “actually” about it -as Wotton;s formidable book says, humans are always in a ferocious battle to determine what is “rational,” and there are huge swaths of charlatans and irrationalists such as yourselves in every field, often with great and enduring cultural and social power, that must be fought against. Doctors were killers until fairly recently, and you “anti-abortionists” are killers of the poor. You are an absolutely hopeless cognitive wreck if you cannot see the massive suffering you countenance by your denial of birth control and safe pregnancy termanation – yet you run the country now!

                Like

                • Jason says:

                  I’m glad I commented on this originally for subscription – this is starting to get seriously weird. I’ve entered a true bizarro universe where female polar bears who kill their cubs read long denunciations of observations from the Voyage of the Beagle before undergoing the act. It’s a world where condoms and the pill retail at $2500 instead of chump change, and the editors of National Review have a stranglehold on the culture of the United States.

                  Anti-abortionists (did I forget my scare quotes?) run the country! Who knew?

                  If I liked popcorn, I’d pop some – this really is entertaining.

                  Like

                  • notabilia says:

                    Did your cult sleep through this last election cycle in the US, and now Europe?

                    Like

                    • Jason says:

                      Are you talking to me? What cult do I belong to? You seem to be making an awful lot of assumptions about the people you are “arguing” with. It’s making me feel really amused at your comment from a few days ago about how I seemed to be arguing with phantoms or someone else or whatever.

                      Like

                    • notabilia says:

                      How did you come to your “anti-abortion” views, them if not through a cult?
                      You are not a woman. You will not give birth. You will not house, nor raise, nor provide financially for the millions of children that will have to be born to poor women, which you are not, because of your anti-human views. Only a cult produces such chilling, evil ideology. ‘ Fess up.

                      Like

                • theofloinn says:

                  “Rational” does not mean “agrees with notabilia.” It means reaching a conclusion by reasoning from known facts. When blood-letting was common practice, it was base soundly on what people knew — or thought they knew — regarding the medical sciences. Also, a “rationalist” might ask about the actual reasons for death among the poor before blithely imagining it had something to do with “pregnancy termination.” (We assume you do not count the unborn children among the dead.

                  Like

                  • notabilia says:

                    You seem to have no idea of what the point is you are arguing about. Yes, “rational” is a phrase that must established anew by successive generations of humans, but we must always do so, and thanks to the advancement, however provisional, of science, we now know that blood-letting was a form of killing, not healing. In our case, we know, with all the benefits of modern science, that abortion is a safe and beneficial form of birth control for all women, especially poor women, whose lives are condemned to unrelenting suffering because of the religion-based insanity by folks like you.
                    Let’s count the actually-born that have died because of your misbegotten life – the poor women without recourse to abortion, the poor villagers subject to the extraction of the substances that made your keyboard. Then we can talk about how you are going to adopt each and every one of the millions of babies other women will have to carry to birth because of your fatwa – how will you have room in your hovel?

                    Like

                    • theofloinn says:

                      My keyboard more than likely was extracted in China, where abortion is not forbidden but was so mandatory that the imablance of boys over girls has resulted in roving gangs of young men in South China raiding northern Thailand and Burma to kidnap women.

                      Since opposition to abortion long-predated any currently practiced religion, it’s hard to see how it is religiously based. It’s in the Hippocratic Oath from ancient Greece.

                      I must be getting old, because I can remember when feminists were saying that abortion was emphatically not for birth control and those claiming it was were using the Slippery Slope argument.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • notabilia says:

                      You should really do more research on the production of your keyboard, your bacon double cheeseburgers, any of your precious figurines, your cellphones, any of the mass-produced cheap objects make up your privileged death-style – and then go live there, in the poisoned air, water, villages, and death-ravaged homes of the 80% of humanity that lives in poverty.
                      You are a figure of killing and of death, mass killing and mass death, yet instead of trying to mitigate this awful fact by permitting poor women to have plentiful and safe abortions, you and the Catholic Church and the Religious Right and the horrific White House now staffed by your kind will only spread more irrational condemnation of this humane right.

                      Like

            • Eve Keneinan says:

              If I needed more evidence of the rationalization of evil under the banner of “rationality,” it is here in your justification of the mass murder of children under the heading of “the necessary and widely used practice of pregnancy termination as planning”—just look at the contortions of language you had engage in. “Necessary”? For what? “Widely used”? How is that a rational justification?

              Not to mention your exceedingly “rational” inability to read. I never described abortion as “genocide.” I asked you why one is “rational” but not the other—since the greatest genocides to date have been exercising in “rational” planning.

              Anyone who espouses the manifestly irrational, self-refuting position of scientism is going to have to put up with being called irrational—because he is.

              Like

              • Eve Keneinan says:

                Eventually, God willing, we will end the horrific evil of abortion, and this literally demonic “rationality” that sees good in the murder of children. This is the calculating rationality of Moloch and Carthage, which made the Romans understand “Carthago delenda est.”

                Like

              • notabilia says:

                Again, you are engaged in lunacy. Abortion is necessary for women for whom birth control was not an option after sex. How simple is that?
                Sex is positive. Not having to bear children is positive. Yet you want to wrap your distorted, irrationality-soaked mind over some imaginary “connection’ you feel with these zygotes.
                This is a sick, dangerous expression of inner psychic turmoil that you express. What are these zygotes to you, these millions of not-children, not-viable, other women’s fertilized eggs to you, but a convenient image of the contempt you feel for humanity, and for yourself?
                You have never done a single thing for these poor Third-World women, or these poor American women, but offer them condemnation for having sex. You have never held their zygotes. Who are you to find some completely false identification with the millions of never-tobe-born zygotes?
                You have, however, bought and consumed and eaten and stolen and cashed paychecks as 80% of humans live in poverty, much of it exacerbated by horrible, depraved Christian women stopping the availability of birth control and abortion.
                That should be completely clear to you. The word “genocide” is evidently beyond your extremely limited comprehension abilities, but if that term can apply to any peoples’ actions, is to the on-going suffering and death you and your kind have perpetuated upon the poor human beings of this earth. There have been many, many killings of humans by other humans in our history, but when this on-going mass murder is so soaked in hypocrisy and vituperative condescension as your anti-abortion, anti-atheist crusade is, what else could deserve first prize?

                Like

                • theofloinn says:

                  Again, instead of a rational analysis you give us an emotional screed, full of adjectives. You were asked “why” abortion is “necessary.” Your response is “Abortion is necessary for women for whom birth control was not an option after sex,” which is simply a repetition of the initial claim.

                  You say, “Sex is positive,” but you do not specify whether you mean the male sex or the female sex. One suspects by “sex” you actually mean “coitus” and by “positive” you mean “good.” On this there is no argument, even from the “irrational” Church, although most religions, including the Stoics and others, did not worship the penis as the followers of Priapus did and had no need of relieving the man of the consequences of his actions.

                  You say, “Not having to bear children is positive,” but from a Darwinian, evolutionary prospect it is quite the opposite. As Darwin wrote in The Descent of Man,:

                  “Man, like every other animal, has no doubt advanced to his present high condition through a struggle for existence consequent on his rapid multiplication; and if he is to advance still higher, it is to be feared that he must remain subject to a severe struggle. Otherwise he would sink into indolence, and the more gifted men would not be more successful in the battle of life than the less gifted. Hence our natural rate of increase, though leading to many and obvious evils, must not be greatly diminished by any means. There should be open competition for all men; and the most able should not be prevented by laws or customs from succeeding best and rearing the largest number of offspring.”

                  If you have a rationally thought out alternative to the science of evolution, you are welcome to present it. Or even a rational argument why abortion ought not to be preferentially aimed at female offspring. But all we are getting are emotional rants.

                  Like

  3. Jason says:

    Thanks for the post, Eve. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

    Something to consider w/re to evolution is the way the Earth seems to ask evolution to fill various niches. For example, the way whales and dolphins are similar in various ways to fish because the sea demands it of them despite their drastically different evolutionary paths. It’s possible that in the same way the universe demands an intelligent being capable of understanding. And then, obviously, if God exists, it was God creating this demand. I’d be careful of suggesting that evolution is guided in any other way – the intelligent design crowd gets shot down pretty easily once they have left the public sphere and have entered the world of peer review. So much so that say, for example, Michael Behe has never submitted a paper on it. He just writes books for the layman. Why? Not because what he’s doing is science, but because people who don’t understand evolution like the idea of God consciously guiding it.

    Like

    • Eve Keneinan says:

      I would see no particular reason God would need to intervene in particular cases, as opposed to simply engineering the system of existence to function has He intends. As has been noted many times before, evolution is not in any sense a creative force—it merely selects from among what has come about for whatever reason.

      If one asserts that “mutations are random,” that is in effect to make CHANCE a real cause. This is not something we know for certain or can know. There seems to be no way, even in principle of distinguishing the claim “This happened by chance” from “this happened for reasons unknown to me.”

      Like

      • Jason says:

        “There seems to be no way, even in principle of distinguishing the claim “This happened by chance” from “this happened for reasons unknown to me.” ”

        I’m not sure that’s quite true. In the case of flipping a coin, for example, I can flip it 1000 times and if it is a fair coin, I’m going to get somewhere in the area of 500 heads and 500 tails. Say, 497 heads and 503 tails out of my first 1000 trials.

        If I flip the coin for the 1001st time and get the result of heads, I think both you and I would feel fairly confident saying “This happened by chance,” but not, “This happened for reasons unknown to me.” For those incredibly knowledgeable of the chemical reactions that occur in mutations, I imagine it’s somewhat similar.

        Like

        • TKDB says:

          As a matter of fact, coin flips are quite precisely a case in which “chance” is merely a shorthand for “reasons unknown to me”. Anyone versed in Newtonian physics (which, granted, we know are not a 100% accurate model of the workings of the world, but are at least close enough to be perfectly adequate for day-to-day macroscopic events like coin flips) can tell you that the outcome of the coin flip is determined by physical laws. It’s just that it depends on a myriad of factors which we lack the ability to measure with sufficient precision (and even if we did we couldn’t process the necessary calculations unaided), so we simply chalk it up to “chance”.

          However, if you set up a coin flip in such a way that you know all of the variables (which, in practical terms, generally means setting up a controlled environment where you can determine the variables in advance), the element of “chance” disappears. You could build a machine that flips the coin with a certain amount of force applied in a certain specific way every time, in an enclosed space that prevents air currents from interfering. Or really, you don’t even need to go that far — practice long enough and you can figure out a way to get a coin to flip just the way you want it every time (generally by flipping it with relatively little force, so it turns rather slowly in the air and you can easily predict/watch how many times it turns in the air). The same principle applies to dice rolls, which is why casinos require measures like rolling against an angled backstop. A sufficiently dextrous gambler can learn how to roll dice in such a way that he guarantees (or nearly enough so to come out with plenty of winnings in the long run) a favorable roll…as long as he’s simply rolling on a table, so as to minimize the variables. An angled backstop introduces more variables than any human can reasonably hope to control without mechanical aid. (Or at least the overwhelming majority of humans, to the point that the tiny outlier who could manage it isn’t worth worrying about to the casino’s bottom line.)

          The only area where “chance” may not be simply a shorthand for “reasons we don’t know” is in quantum physics, but even there the theory is not absolutely unassailable.

          Like

          • Jason says:

            I think this makes sense in a way and appreciate the reply. I still feel like there is a difference between saying I know nothing about why it landed heads vs there are far too many variables for me to calculate, but maybe I’m not thinking about it correctly. Food for thought.

            Like

          • Eve Keneinan says:

            Does chance real?

            That is, is chance a real feature of the cosmos or only an apparent one?

            Plato seems to suggest it is, and Aristotle that it is not.

            It’s a very interesting question.

            Like

  4. […] many theistic objections to that definition, and I will write about that soon. For now, I ran into this blog post, and I felt that responding to it will be a great way to ask some of my questions […]

    Like

  5. parrhesia says:

    I agree that most of them are not even sophomoric. However, I’d say that in addition to 1 (free will and omniscience), also the problem of evil/theodicy, the (im)possibility of “godless morality”, and the “wasted space” arguments are interesting enough to merit discussion, e.g. in an introductory seminar to philosophy of religion or similar.

    The avoidance of “wasted space” is related to arguments like Leibniz vs. Clarke or Kant’s cosmology (Kant was convinced that all planets were inhabitated because otherwise it would have been such a waste…). The Chesterton quote is brilliant and it is interesting question why the “vast (or wasted) spaces” seem psychologically so fascinating and somehow seem relevant to our image of man. (An interesting atheist tidbit using the vastness of the universe is “A free man’s worship” by the youngish Russell),

    Like

  6. theofloinn says:

    Regarding the size of the universe and “wasted space.”

    My understanding being that per general relativity space is a consequence of matter (and not a Newtonian “stage” on which matter struts and frets), the size of the universe is a result of the amount of matter. If the amount of matter were much larger than it is, the mutual gravitational attraction (bending of space-time) would result in the collapse of the universe back into a monobloc long before stars and planets could form and intelligent life arise.

    OTOH, if the amount of matter were much smaller than it is, the universe would have dissipated into a thin soup long ago and never congealed into galaxies and the like, and again, no life would have arisen.

    Several generations of stars were needed to fuse the higher elements in supernovae.

    Hence, the universe, like Little Bear’s Porridge, is “just right” to produce a life-bearing planet. There is no “waste.” It was all necessary. Now, there might be more than one, but to produce just one such planet, the universe pretty much has to be as big as it is.

    Like

    • Eve Keneinan says:

      It has also been noted that considered logarithmically, human beings are almost exactly “in the middle” as far an the smallest things we know and the largest. We appear to be “centered” in scale, if not in space (but we now also know that “the center of space” is relative thing, not a real one).

      Like

  7. questionmark says:

    Eve,
    I found your blog today thanks to a facebook friend, and am please to have done so, based on your introductory post and this one.

    This is an enjoyable but frustrating post, as you so ably point out.
    Concerning “Reason 19: People have been saying that Jesus is coming back in their lifetime for many, many, many lifetimes.”
    I believe now that this is an area that could be a challenge, for a time, if atheists had any real depth of knowledge concerning revelation (Scripture as a whole, not merely The of John, though it plays a vital role) and the concept of audience relevance. And with that challenge I also believe would come awakening, if that’s not too pretentious a statement.
    Have you seen, or considered this quote from C.S. Lewis?
    “The apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, ‘This generation shall not pass till all these things be done.’ And He was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else.”
    This seems to be an imaginary objector quoted by Lewis, and the answers that still insist on something yet future are quite unsatisfactory. However, I believe there is an answer in Preterism, and wonder if you have had a chance to study that doctrine?

    I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    Like

  8. Jason says:

    This response to Notabilia is bumped down as there was no more thread room:

    Notabilia says:

    “How did you come to your “anti-abortion” views, them if not through a cult?
    You are not a woman. You will not give birth. You will not house, nor raise, nor provide financially for the millions of children that will have to be born to poor women, which you are not, because of your anti-human views. Only a cult produces such chilling, evil ideology. ‘ Fess up.”

    Setting aside the fact you clearly don’t know what a cult is, I never said I was anti-abortion. I expressed incredulity that the people running the country were anti-abortion. The current administration obviously isn’t, and Republican politicians are generally only nominally so when talking to the right people. Donald Trump, for example, has probably personally paid for hundreds if not thousands of abortions, given he owned a beauty pageant. I doubt he gives it a second thought.

    But, since you asked, in your typically assumptive and insulting manner:

    The central question of abortion legality is this: When does the law protect a human being from being killed by another human being? Some people choose conception. Some people choose birth. There are a few whackos out there that think it should be okay to kill your toddler until it learns how to talk – frankly, it would not surprise me if you were one of them. The vast majority of the American people think the line should be drawn somewhere between twenty weeks and six months after conception. Once you’ve decided that a twenty-four week old unborn baby is qualified for the right to life, then you need to follow your decision down the logical road of making abortion after that point a crime.

    I’d write another paragraph here explaining where I fall on this spectrum and how I’ve come to reach my conclusions, but at this point I am confident anything I say will fall on deaf ears. You are clearly deranged, or at least do a fairly good job of imitating such a state. I am done wasting my time engaging with you, Notabilia.

    Like

  9. We are driving down the excessive way and the automobile decelerates after which picks up in gear.

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