A sadly common script

Religious dumbasses: not rare and elusive enough.

I spent a year going to church and speaking to members of the congregations.  Before that, as an atheist activist, I spoke with religious people on a daily basis for years on their reasons for believing.  I found that even though there are some apologists who make pretensions to the use of more refined arguments (though I don’t believe their arguments are, at base, any different or better, just more wordy and needlessly complex), virtually all religious people use the same sets of lame reasons.

I try not to get drug into batting them down anymore unless I’m in a formal debate, but sometimes a friend of mine will ask me for my take and I just can’t help myself.  And some days (like today) I wake up with a hangover and decide to take out my frustrations on a poor, defenseless believer.

Below the fold you will be able to read my conversation with “BM” from this morning.  If you have the stomach/patience to read it, you will likely notice how I take the time and care to address every point he makes, while that courtesy is not returned.  Instead, the believer ignores contradictory points and repeats his previous assertion as if no rebuttal had been made.  You will also notice how I must repeatedly beg for evidence (which is never even acknowledged) or for responses to arguments.  Note also at the end, after failing to evince so much as a single reason in defense of his position, the believer preens and flits away, confident in his victory.  If I had a nickel for every time I or Matt Dillahunty or any of the other people who do this shit consistently have run this script, the Catholic church would be envious of our wealth.  This is also why I only engage these idiots in public, where their bad arguments can be held aloft as a testament to the effects of faith on a mind.

Some will accuse me of going after low-hanging fruit, but this is the only fruit on the tree.  This is far and away the norm.  This is faith at its heart and it is ugly, infectious, and deserves no quarter – and so long as I breathe I will give it none.


In my lifetime, i have witnessed far too many extraordinary things take place for me to relegate my life to the limited parameter of logic alone.

You see something you are unable, at present, to explain, and your immediate reaction is to ditch logic?

How did you react to seeing airplanes fly? Defying gravity is pretty incredible.

How did you react to the idea that the Earth is round rather than flat, as it appears to the unaided eye?

Incorporating fantasy into your explanations is not casting off the shackles of logic, it’s a recipe for the production of erroneous conclusions. It amazes me how people try to spin that into something that smells like a virtue.

JT, I too am a logical person. However, logic is certainly not an absolute. Logic is a human attribute; it is subjective, fallable, and finite. I believe that logic is God-given, but logic too often narrows ones scope of vision, and discounts the realm of possibility.

Oh boy…

“However, logic is certainly not an absolute. Logic is a human attribute; it is subjective, fallable, and finite.”

Logic is not absolute? What does that even mean?

Logic is consistent, reliable, and produces information. Humans make mistakes, so our attempts to be logical can certainly be flawed, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the ideal to strive for.

And it certainly doesn’t mean we need to discard it for illogical solutions. Otherwise we start pretending to know things we don’t (often under the euphemism of ‘faith’) and that is fantasy dressed up with pretension, and it’s not a good thing.

“I believe that logic is God-given”

Really? From which god, I wonder. Is it the one who demands we believe things that are rendered unbelievable by logic like people rising from the dead and walking on water? I confess, it always cracks me up when people who believe those things claim to be logical. Perhaps you believe in a different god, but if so I’d be willing to bet a tremendous sum of money that it is no more supported by logic.

Anyway, on logic being god-given….evidence?

“logic too often narrows ones scope of vision, and discounts the realm of possibility”

I’m not sure it narrows our vision. It certainly narrows the conclusions we’re prepared to accept, and that’s a good thing, because some conclusions are flagrantly (as confirmed by logic), wrong.

It seems to me that, though there was once a time when nothing was explained, that everything we have explained since that time has been explained through the use of accurate human reasoning via logic. Everything. I’m open to a counter example if you think you’ve got one.

From the dictionary:ab·so·lute (bs-lt, bs-lt)
adj.
1. Perfect in quality or nature; complete.
2. Not mixed; pure. See Synonyms at pure.
3.
a. Not limited by restrictions or exceptions; unconditional: absolute trust.
b. Unqualified in extent or degree; total: (EX:absolute silence).
4. Unconstrained by constitutional or other provisions: an absolute ruler.
5. Not to be doubted or questioned; positive: absolute proof.
Seems like you’re going with definition 3 when you use it. Ok.

Sure, logic has limitations – we need information to parse with logic. And your solution to this limit is…what?

again…logic cannot be perfected with information, because it too, is limited. All that I am suggesting is that there is more to this life that can be perceived with our 5 senses, or conjured with our peanut brains. I have witnessed events that surpassed what is possible in the natural/physical realm, so my experience makes it impossible for me to deny the reality of the extraordinary and supernatural.
“again…logic cannot be perfected with information, because it too, is limited”

I realize you’re saying this again, but you’re ignoring what I said above. Once we have information to which we can apply logic, it is not limited. It reveals more information and does so consistently (primarily by telling us which conclusions cannot be). Can you explain how it is logic that’s flawed and not human attempts to use it at times?

“All that I am suggesting is that there is more to this life that can be perceived with our 5 senses, or conjured with our peanut brains.”

Name one.

“I have witnessed events that surpassed what is possible in the natural/physical realm, so my experience makes it impossible for me to deny the reality of the extraordinary and supernatural.”

Extraordinary? Sure. Supernatural? How do you know?

Can you explain how seeing something you have yet to explain and then jumping immediately to ‘supernatural’ as an explanation is intellectually defensible?

Once more (and I can legitimately use that language because you have left several of my points, including this one, by the wayside): someone muttering the excerpt from you above in response to seeing an airplane fly is doing nothing but committing themselves to wallow in their ignorance. By saying ‘I don’t know, therefore magic’ they would be hamstringing their potential for explanation. How is this not what you are doing?

I have no doubt in your sincerity when you say you’ve experienced extraordinary things. It’s your conclusion that there’s no tangible explanation just because you don’t presently know it that strikes me as a little (ok, a lot) silly.

Even with unlimited, infallible information logic still cannot be perfected, because the information is processed by an “imperfect” mind. Surely you will not debate the perfection of the human thought process, will you?
I have said twice in this discussion that human reason is fallible, and yet I get this question from you:

“Surely you will not debate the perfection of the human thought process, will you?”

Well no, clearly. What I have said, and getting you to respond to what I have said seems to be a Herculian chore, is that logic, with proper information, works the same every time. Yes, human attempts at it can fail, but it’s still the ideal to strive for. The problem is with our brains (the ones you think god gave us for performing logic), not logic.

Can you explain why logic is not the ideal for which to strive? Or could you answer any one of the above points I’ve made about why your quaint argument from ignorance makes no sense whatsoever?

There is a lot more that that I’d like to say, but I’m not convinced that it would be a productive use of my time. Lets just agree to disagree, okay? Gotta go to work now
I will not agree to disagree.

The world we live in is a paradise because of human reason. We are no longer blind-sided by hurricanes (that god would be responsible for) because we used logic to invent shit like satellite imagery. We can spend more time with our families rather than toiling in the field or on the hunt, once more thanks to human reasoning through logic. The list goes on and on.

And then there are people who wish to pick-pocket the laurels of human ingenuity and hand them to a fictional character (a very pernicious fictional character at that). And there are people like yourself who want to tell us that fantasy is on par with logic (even as you attempt to use logic to support your point). It’s not worth my time to explain this to you while you ignore arguments and reassert your conclusion as though it hadn’t been rebutted, but it is very much worth my time to draw and quarter you in a public forum and to hold you up as an example of what religion can do to a mind.

So no, I will not ‘agree to disagree’. You are wrong, and your error is one that is shared by lots of people on this planet and which hurts our world by teaching people to be satisfied with ignorance.

  • http://cannonballjones.wordpress.com Paul

    “This is faith at its heart and it is ugly, infectious, and deserves no quarter – and so long as I breathe I will give it none.” – Ooh, that gave me goosebumps! Gonna have to try and use that in conversation, with all appropriate attribution of course :)

  • phil loubere

    Nicely, and logically, put, JT. Too bad that using logic on those who discount it will have no effect. But it’s still worth making the argument, for the sake of those who may be beginning to question their illogical faith. Good for you for doing so.

  • Beaux J

    Keep it up JT!

  • http://cannonballjones.wordpress.com Paul

    Really? Damn, I just came here to read about skepticism and atheism but now I’m going to embark on a whole new career! Woo! Freelance programming here I come, it can’t fail! IT CAN’T FAIL!!!

  • Russell P

    Apparently logic is very limited in his opinion because it wont allow his illogic. Interesting conclusion.


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