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This is why atheists appear angry…(follow-up from yesterday) February 19, 2009

Posted by shaunphilly in religion, atheism, polyamory, culture.
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An email, sent in continuation of the conversation I blogged about yesterday, is included below. I post this for two reasons. One, it is a prime example of how some fundamentalists “debate.” Second, it is to show why atheists look angry to some people; it’s because we have to put up with absurd bullshit like the following.

(I edited the formatting to make clear which comments are mine and which are his. I have not changed anything except formatting, and excluded nothing. My comments are italicized, his are bold-faced.)

I was not aware that we were engaged in a formal debate, but such is the nature of blogging I suppose. To comment on your second reply:

Again, I have made no presupposition.

Sure you have. You have said God does not exist without having searched every possible corner of the universe, or every realm of existence. You presuppose you have weighed all of the evidence available but you have not.

Secondly, to claim that we have the same set of evidence seems to imply that you know what I know, and I doubt you do. Do you have some sort of special knowledge that is unavailable to me?

No, I do knot know everything that you do, but I do enough about me and the context of creation to place you within it, and to understand, at least in part, where you are coming from. This I can do because God has spoken to us through his Son, Jesus Christ. There is a sense in which I can identify with everybody, and to this degree I am able to “know” you.

I did not choose the conclusion I made, I was simply not convinced of a certain proposition because I didn’t see what was offered as evidence sufficient to stand up against scrutiny. Thus, I didn’t choose to make a different conclusion (and even if this were valid, what would prevent me from simply observing that the same is true for you?).

The same is true of me, which is precisely my point. Do you honestly believe you were forced to come to a single conclusion, that no alternative views were agreeable, or at least available to you when you denied God’s existence?

You say I’m not convinced because I do not want to be convinced. I find this response obnoxious, arrogant, and assuming.

Yes, I will have to admit that this seems to be the case, but I am not speaking on my own authority. Scripture condemns your unbelief. See Romans 1. You purposefully suppress the knowledge of God in unrighteousness. If this sounds simplistic, it’s because it is. God’s wisdom seems foolish to “big” thinkers, and he has done this to put to shame those who refuse to submit to his authority. Again, your unbelief stems from anarchy, not philosophy.

You don’t know anything about my background, personality, etc. Is it possible that you simply want to believe that anyone who does not share your conclusion must be hiding behind some insecurity, fear, or desire to be free from some responsibility of some god? Why else would you place the blanket assumption upon all non-believers with this reason other than to mask your own potential bias? Is it possible that I genuinely would want to know if a god existed but simply do not find the so-called evidence convincing?

What is so unconvincing? And before you launch into detailed scientific or philosophic explanations, please note that I will simply move these arguments onto my table as arguments supporting the knowledge of God, which, again, brings us back to presuppositions.

I have no presupposition in this matter. I am not claiming anything absolutely, so you cannot level the argument against me that I am “building [my] entire world on a belief which [I] cannot absolutely substantiate” because I am not trying to do this at all. Your response to me is entirely straw-man and disingenuous. Yo have not responded to me but rather a caricature of an atheist you have built up in your mind.

First of all, “There is no god” is speaking with totality and finality. You are certainly making an absolute claim when you declare this to the world.. The fact that we are even debating this issue only proves my point.

You say you rest your case on revelation. Which revelation, and of what? The revelation of one of the various Islamic theologies? Perhaps it is of Jewish origin? Maybe Zoroastrian? The problem with revelation is that there are so many kinds, and they cannot all be true.

Exactly. God has spoken to us through Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who is God incarnate, as manifest in the pages of the Christian scriptures. I suppose I could argue that your atheism has spawned a thousand contrary worldviews as well. But if you charge me with being narrow minded, I will have to plead guilty. Again, I have no problem with this because my presupposition allows me to do this.

Yes, you are being subjective, and so am I. I never claimed objectivity (I actually think objectivity is impossible. So now you do have an absolute claim of mine that I will have to back up, if yo desire me to do so.) so your criticism in this regard is also a straw-man.

I only meant that you have raised yourself to the position of intellectual superiority by claiming you have come to the sum of all knowledge (available to you). If there is no god, then you become the ultimate authority. There is no one to tell you how to interpret reality. I realize that I am also making a judgment about the evidence, and likewise proposing to have arrived at the sum of all knowledge. But the difference is that I am acknowledging, not that I have decided what truth is, but that God has revealed it to me/us. Therefore, I receive an interpretation of reality, but you form one because you contend their is no one higher than you who would have the authority to do so.

And your claim that my reasoning is insufficient, rather than the evidence, wthout even asking what my reasoning is! This explodes with the implication that you are responding not to me (again) but to some model of what an atheist must think, which stems from your inability to comprehend that someone might think, genuinely, that the data is insufficient for belief in such a being as a god.

You said:

You simply submit to another authority, which is your presupposition that there is no God. You say “There is no god” and behold, you are convinced there is no god.

Again, this is not my presupposition. But I must remind you that it is you that makes the proposition that a god exists. The burden of proof always is with the person making the claim.

Are you not making a claim as well? How do you know that God does not exist in another universe (though I myself do not believe this)? You say you understand this universe, but you are not certain that this is all there is, or at least, you should not be so certain. In this regard, the burden of proof rests on your shoulders. Sure, I must give an account for my reasoning, but I submit the Scriptures, which, if entirely true, make perfect sense of creation. You, on the other hand, submit a proposition that rests, not on the revelation of a Supreme Being, but on your own idea of what supreme knowledge is, i.e., naturalism, materialism, existentialism, or whatever, as long as God is not in the equation.

You make the claim that god exists, that the evidence is sufficient, etc, so you hold the burden of proof to show why this is the case. I claim that the evidence is insufficient for me to believe, and I would be happy to explain why this is the case. But rather than asking my reasons, you assume them and attack those assumptions. Bad form.

I disagree. I am well aware of the general tenets of atheism, so I do not presume anymore than you offer by way of wearing such a label. Likewise, you assume many things of me because I am a theist.. There is no reason to criticize my “form.” I am quite sure you do not have any original thoughts; nor do I. I have a general understanding of scientific and philosophic arguments against the existence of God. Do you really need to expound them again to me, as if I would need to do the same to you regarding arguments for the existence of God?

I must admit that my assumption here, and it is an educated guess as I run into this all the time, is that you are projecting the weakness of your argument onto me. I have no desire to reject god.. In fact, if a god exists I would like to know very much because the truth matters a lot to me. God, if it is worthy of the title, would know precisely how to convince me, and has not done so.

Again, this is simply not true. Remember, my presupposition allows me appeal to a higher authority, who, if he/she/it does exist, makes perfect sense of my interpretation of the “evidence.” If God exists, then my interpretation makes sense. You are simply throwing out the possibility of God’s existence, which allows you to “debunk” my belief in God. But you have not really thrown God out of the picture; you have merely painted another picture of the world without him in it, and are presenting it to me now as a “fact.”

My point is this: you are going around in circles, as am I; however, I am allowed to be circular in my reasoning, whereas you are required, because you claim ultimate authority over knowledge, to get behind an original thought and break the circularity of your reasoning. But you cannot do this because you always come back to your presupposition “God does not exist,” as if this is a priori, but it is not. Your grounds for arguing against him are the same grounds by which I prove his existence. You are simply beginning at an entirely different starting point.

I do not wish to launch into some sort of debate over God’s existence. I believe you are probably aware of my defense already. If I were to write you a million pages on reasons for God’s existence, I suppose you would simply turn my argument around to favor your proposition. In other words, and as I have already said, your defense is not merely intellectual, but volitional. You have ample evidence to believe in God but you choose not to. The greatest minds have debated this very topic and in the end few cross over to the other side. Why is this? Because you will stick to your guns no matter what because you have already decided in your head and heart that you will not be under the authority of any god, even though God has shown himself plainly to you.

This whole world makes perfects sense if viewed through the person of Jesus Christ. Since he is King of the Cosmos and Savior of sinners like us, I ask you to turn to him in joyful belief and hope. And if you think I am silly, so be it. I should only expect such criticism.

So, I invite yo to present the evidence that compels you. If it is evidence I have not considered, I would be glad to hear it.

Thanks for your response.

Notice how he ignores that last part there?

My favorite part at the end was the following:

The greatest minds have debated this very topic and in the end few cross over to the other side. Why is this? Because you will stick to your guns no matter what because you have already decided in your head and heart that you will not be under the authority of any god, even though God has shown himself plainly to you.

This is a classic example of projection. This is precisely the type of presupposition he is doing (he’s allowed to because it it true!), yet levels it at me. Again, I have not claimed that god does not exist. I’m saying I’m not convinced that one does. No matter how often I say this, he repeatedly attacks this straw-man as my proposition.

This is why atheists appear angry to so many people.

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Comments»

1. Conversations with Fundamentalists « Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia - February 19, 2009

[…] And here […]

2. Gerry - March 2, 2009

shaunphilly:

I must commend you for posting the entire presumably entire text of your exchange with a theist and Christian discussant on the existence of God.

And for not using foul language, except in your introduction you say:

[quote]
An email, sent in continuation of the conversation I blogged about yesterday, is included below. I post this for two reasons. One, it is a prime example of how some fundamentalists “debate.” Second, it is to show why atheists look angry to some people; it’s because we have to put up with absurd bullshit like the following.
[unquote]

Please express your thoughts without bringing in bullshit, unless for you bullshit is totally all right in polite discourse.

Instead of absurd bullshit, say — if I may suggest: nonsense.

I think both your Christian co-discussant and you are into one ultimate presupposition:

For him there is a higher authority, God, and he has confirmation from revelation.

For you there is no higher authority except yourself, period.

By the way I came to this blog from looking up with Google the question “is it possible to discuss with an atheist,” and the first hit that appears on my monitor screen is the following, which led me to this very informative blog so far participated in by people who use polite language predominantly.

[quote]
A fellow blogger and I discuss atheism…sort of « The atheist …Is it possible that I genuinely would want to know if a god existed but simply do not find the …. This is why atheists… on A fellow blogger and I discuss… …
shaunphilly.wordpress.com/2009/02/18/a-fellow-blogger-and-i-discuss-atheismsort-of/ – 34k – Cached – Similar pages –
[unquote]

I like to ask you whether you have a concept of the God for which you don’t have sufficient evidence to conclude to His existence.

And what is evidence for you as a human being, and what kind of and how much of do you think to be adequate as a human being for you to conclude to the existence of God.

Gerry

3. shaunphilly - March 2, 2009

First, I don’t have any problem whatsoever with so-called “foul” language. I do use it commonly, when I feel it is appropriate. And I think that “bullshit” was the perfect word to use there.

Second; I have many concepts of god. When I talk to a theist, I leave it to them to define ‘god’ so that I am not making reference to a straw-man in my defense of not believing. All I can say is that every definition I’ve heard either I don’t believe exists, wouldn’t call a deity (example: the universe, as with pantheists. This is no different than my naturalism, and I think it creates such a vagueness that it becomes a vacuous term.

Third; I’ve said many times that god, if it exists, would know what would be sufficient evidence for me. So god either doesn’t want me to believe, doesn’t care if I believe, or is unable to demonstrate its existence. I don’t know what the evidence would look like. Everything I’ve seen that people call evidence I don’t see as anything more than a fallacy. Speacial pleading seems to be the favorite.

4. luke - August 1, 2009

@shaunpilly: I am suprised that you persisted with trying to debate the issue! Clearly the antagonist had no interest in attempting to look objectively at your arguments. I am of the mind that anyone who relies on such circular logic is beyond rational debate (personal opinion). Kudos to you for sticking with it though. 🙂

Like yourself I have always had the opinion that if ‘god’ wanted and/or needed me to know if its existence it would demonstrate its existence in such a manner as I would no longer question the ‘truth’. Or at least no more that I question any ‘truth’. 😉


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