Who takes the likes of Sye Ten Bruggencate seriously?

In the in the discussion thread on presuppositionalism, a couple people brought up Sye Ten Bruggencate’s website ProofThatGodExists.org and Stephen Law’s lengthy series of replies. Scanning over Stephen’s replies, I don’t know whether to be impressed by his patience or feel a bit sorry for him for having caught such a terrible case of SIWOTI syndrome.

I hadn’t read either Sye’s website or Stephen’s responses in awhile, so I’d forgotten just how bad Sye’s argument is. I can say without exaggeration that he makes Bill O’Reilly look smart. Beyond that, words fail me. Which probably makes it good I can quote Stephen’s first post here:

Checked out the “proof”. So it runs: if you believe in objective laws of logic and maths and science and moral truths (that are immaterial, by which author means not made out of material stuff), you must believe in God because, er, they couldn’t exist if God did not.

Clearly, the author really thinks he’s got a “proof”. But it is shot full of holes.

First, where’s the argument that objective laws of logic, etc. require the existence of God? There isn’t one. Just the assertion that they do. Yet, amazingly, this is offered as the “proof”.

The author’s chutzpah is kind of breath-taking. Only a religious zealot would dare offer this as a “proof” with a straight face.

Note that, even if the laws of logic DID require the existence of some sort of deity to underpin them, we could still ask, why this particular God – the Judeo-Christian God? Particularly as there’s overwhelming evidence that there is no such being (see my “God of Eth”).

Click the link to Sye’s site and you’ll see how utterly obvious that Stephen is right, but it ends up being a huge struggle for him to get Sye to acknowledge the simplest points.

It’s enough to make me wonder if Stephen was getting sucked in to taking a persistent nobody seriously; what I’ve written previously on outrage in the atheist blogosphere is relevant here. But I think Sye may not be a nobody; apparently he’s been supporting himself as a full-time apologist since 2008 and Eric Hovind, son of notorious young-earth creationist and tax cheat Kent Hovind, appears to be a fan of Sye.

So who the hell is giving this guy money? I can understand why people buy William Lane Craig’s books or Lee Strobel’s books, but here I’m feeling unusually confused. One possible explanation, though, comes from the young-earth creationist connection. Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis is also a fan of presuppositional apologetics, and it’s not hard to see why: he uses presuppositionalist rhetoric to dodge questions about the evidence for his claims.

Young-earth creationism is unheard of among “sophisticated apologists,” even ones who identify as evangelical like William Lane Craig. Craig may be willing to lie blatantly about gay people, but even he knows the prevalence of young-earth among Christians is an embarrassment. Yet it is prevalent; studies consistently show between a third and a half of Americans are young earth creationists.

There’s a market for reinforcing those people’s pre-existing beliefs, but if you want to sell to that market, coming up with evidence and arguments for those views is going to be tough. Much better to just respond to all requests for evidence and arguments with shameless bullshittery.

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