25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid (Part 10)

25 Stupid Arguments Christians Should Avoid (Part 10) July 15, 2015

Who’s ready for more facepalming? It’s time for more stupid arguments Christians should avoid. For the first post in this series, go to Part 1.

stupid Christian arguments apologeticsStupid Argument #32: Providing good evidence is hard! Look—it’s not like we have photo, video, or audio recordings of the major events recorded in the gospels. You’ve got to make reasonable demands.

I agree that providing credible, high-quality evidence from the first century is hard, but so what? Are you saying that because it’s hard, I should drop my demand for good evidence?

Think of how that would sound if coming from another source. Suppose a Muslim argued that Mohammed’s Night Journey to heaven was historically true, but they didn’t have security cameras in Jerusalem then so we must accept Muslim tradition and holy books.

Or: doing a thorough search of Loch Ness is difficult, so we must accept the anecdotal evidence of Nessie’s existence.

Or: we can’t go back in time to see Xenu’s empire, so we must accept the Scientology mythology.

It doesn’t work that way. We demand evidence to back up the claims. If you make a remarkable claim, you must provide substantial evidence to back it up. The burden of proof is on the person claiming the supernatural, and if that burden isn’t met, we are obliged to reject the claim.

Stupid Argument #33: Hypothetical God Fallacy. “Just because something might seem pointless to us doesn’t mean God can’t have a morally justified reason for it.… The mere fact that I can’t figure out why God allows some of the things to happen that he does … is not warrant for the conclusion that he’s got no such reasons.”

(This quote is from a Christian argument that I analyze here.)

I don’t declare that God doesn’t exist or that, if he does, he couldn’t have good reasons for the nonsense in the world. But who starts by wondering about God’s actions? Who, I mean, but someone with an agenda?

Starting with a presumption of God has it backwards. An honest seeker of the truth will follow the evidence, and that’s the power of the Problem of Evil, which this Christian apologist is trying to refute. The Problem of Evil looks at the problems in the world and considers the properties claimed for the Christian god—all-loving, omniscient, omnipotent. Does this look like a world with such a god? (More here.)

Stupid Argument #34: But I can’t reject Christianity now—I’ve invested so much! If I rejected Christianity now, I’d be admitting that I’d backed the wrong horse for all these years. And what would that do to my reputation in my community? I’ve argued for the Christian position with many people—what would they think of me?

This is the sunk-cost fallacy, which snares many financial investors. Suppose you invested in a stock that now is worth half what you paid for it. Consider two options. If an objective evaluation says that the stock should now rise in value, you would be smart to hold the stock and maybe even invest more.

But what do you do if you don’t have that optimistic evaluation? Instead of cutting their losses, some people buy more. They might rationalize that by buying more at this lower price, they’ve lowered their average purchase price. This is true but irrelevant; an investment should be considered on its own. If you wouldn’t invest if you didn’t own the stock, you shouldn’t double down when you do. Colloquially, we say that this is “throwing good money after bad.”

We see this in many other situations. Lyndon Johnson committed additional troops to the war in Vietnam after it was clear that the war was unwinnable. The Concorde supersonic jet lost money, but the British and French governments continued to back it because they had already invested so much. There are religious believers who don’t want to make an ego-less evaluation of the truth of their beliefs. They sacrifice intellectual integrity to soothe their sense of self-worth.

A good illustration of how hard we’ll try to justify or recoup those sunk costs is the dollar auction. It’s a game in which both the auction winner and the second-place player must pay their final bids.

Two or more players are bidding to win a dollar. Let’s suppose that player #1 opens the bidding with 5¢. That sounds smart—if that bidder wins, their profit is 95¢. Now player #2 ups the bid to 10¢—that also seems to be a good move since a win at this stage will give a 90¢ profit. But here’s the problem: if player #1 lets it go at this point, he’s out 5¢, since as the second-place player, he’d be obliged to pay his final bid. So #1 bids 15¢.

And so it goes, with each one topping the other by 5¢, until player #2 bids $1. Game over? Not quite, since #1 would still have to pay his last bid of 95¢. Better to bid $1.05 and be down by only 5¢ than admit defeat and be down 95¢.

The game encourages irrational decisions, and the rational choice may be to avoid playing the game. This contains parallels with religion, where the smart decision for the doubting Christian may be to cut their losses and just get out.

Continue with Part 11. Find the complete list in one place here

Those who will not reason, are bigots,
those who cannot, are fools,
and those who dare not, are slaves.
― Lord Byron

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  • MNb

    @32: “You’ve got to make reasonable demands.”
    Agreed. Now show my how to resurrect a dead body and we’re talking.

    @34: That was the German argument for continuing a lost war in the summer of 1944.

  • wtfwjtd

    As for stupid argument #32: I won’t even ask for a reasonable amount of evidence for your 2,000 year old Jesus story, in order to believe in Christianity. Just simply show me this: When believers can drink poison without harm, heal sick people, raise dead bodies back to life, all as their religion promises that the true believer can, then I’ll drop my demands for evidence of the Jesus story. Simple enough?

    As for #34: good analogy, but as all things in life, it can be complicated. There was a time in my life that it was somewhat easier and less costly to “go along to get along” than to address those nagging doubts about my Christian faith. As life’s circumstances changed, though, I found that the equation, and the costs associated with non-belief, had also changed. Rather than “double down” and play the (religion) game again, I made the rational decision to dump the mostly worthless stock and build my “fortune” via different means. I’m really glad at this point in my life that I did.

    • Kodie

      Allegedly, an impossible event took place thousands of years ago, and we can’t get any more evidence about it until we die.

      In between, the “effects” one experiences as a human living on this earth in whatever community they do are attributed to Jesus. This is merely the power of suggestion played on gullible people. There is no reason they should or would buy the 2000-year-old story even a little bit or expect us to carry that responsibility to go easy and give them a break. So #32 is total bullshit. They can’t expect us to believe it just because it’s inconvenient for them to provide credible evidence.

      • wtfwjtd

        “They can’t expect us to believe it just because it’s inconvenient for them to provide credible evidence.”

        This sounds silly but…I used to hear this basic sentiment all the time as a believer. The more obscure its origins, the more shrouded in mystery a religious claim, the better. I finally figured out, this is a convenient excuse for believers to accept things that they want to believe.

        “In between, the “effects” one experiences as a human living on this earth in whatever community they do are attributed to Jesus. This is merely the power of suggestion played on gullible people.”

        It’s sad,but there are many, many individuals, families, communities, and even entire countries, that are in many ways held hostage to unsupportable, non-evidenced religious claims. It’s definitely time for mankind to leave this primitive and superstitious thinking in the past, and in history books, where it belongs.

        • Pofarmer

          Not only held hostage, people are dying because of them, going to prison because of them.

        • Kodie

          It gives them “hope”! They are slaves and puppets and pawns to a ridiculous story in the one-day hope that after they die, things will really seem ok for a change. What a pathetic money-making device.

          Between my before and after atheisms, I was intrigued by all manner of fortune-telling. Cards, runes, tea leaves, biorhythms. I think biorhythms was one of the first things I found on the internet (not sure what I was looking for, exactly, nearly 20 years ago). I found it fascinating how similar my biorhythms were to both my siblings, but to neither of my parents, and how disparate my parents’ biorhythms were to each other. I thought tarot cards had cool designs, and while unemployed and actually pre-internet (for me), with no tv, spent whole afternoons trying to read myself the fortune that would click and change my life. To much frustration, I had a discussion with my therapist today, and he as much accused me of expecting him to do magic. Could not be further from the truth – I expect his professional expertise not as a fortune-teller, but having studied human nature, to decipher my ramblings and tell me what to do without dictating to me like an order. Is that so hard? No, it seems and I don’t want to admit it, that psychology must only work on the religious, and I know that is not true. He is just terrible.

          Anyway, mystical, mythical, magical shit I liked in my early 20s that had nothing to do with religion as far as I was concerned, was what I’d now call “neat”. Holy shit, the numerology. Holy shit, the times I tried to leave my body. I didn’t grow up religious, and we never talked about atheism or skepticism at all. I take this was all a normal stage for a late-teen, early-20s woman who wasn’t raised in fear of the occult to find this shit interesting. If I were a Christian to begin with, or fell for it at any time, I feel strongly that it would have been the secret bible codes that would have caught my interest. It seems like a rather “safe” space for Christians to channel their interest in the occult.

          Almost forgot to repeat something I’d said a while ago – how I wanted to be a nun and thought Catholicism was cool. These things inform the person I am today and see the power of symbols, the power of magical incantations, the Latin, the scepters, the incense, the rituals. They make you think something real is really really happening, as opposed to bullshit that is really happening like hungry people, that bar code reader at the supermarket, the price of gasoline, eating something unhealthy because healthy takes more effort for some reason, etc. The wooden pews, the stained glass, the gold, the marble, very similar effect to why you think your bank is better than the bank across the street – and yet for rational people, they still have brochures you can compare to other banks for lending rates or checking fees to find the one where you should keep your money.

        • Pofarmer

          I dunno, I think all a psychiatrist can really do a lot of times is give you the insight to help yourself.

        • Kodie

          He says, like, that’s just your personality, what do you want me to do about it. That’s his insight.

        • TheNuszAbides

          my latest pseudo-ephiphany is that an enduring common core of religion [which subsequently gets buried in the typical ‘hypertribal proprietarianism’ or whatever] is:

          sharing your problems with people you trust is crucial to solving them.

          top two examples: The Confessional, Auditing.
          which might go a long way to explaining why certain *ahem* ‘institutions’ have shown such hostility toward practices such as psychiatry.

        • Pofarmer

          Confessional is an interesting thing. Originally it was that you confessed your sins in front of everybody. Then it got to be where you could confess your sins like once a year at church. Then, at some point in the middle ages, missionary priests got the idea that you could do confessional anytime, daily, or multiple times a day, so you could be maximally saved. The confessional is all about creating a solution to an imaginary problem. Hell, it’s creating a problem where none exists.

        • TheNuszAbides

          indeed, i don’t think these rituals necessarily originated via concern for peace of mind–or if/when they did it didn’t take long for corrupt leadership to tack on the more coercive/authoritarian elements. presupposing the Original Sin/Engram is the core of one of the most negative elements of religion; i was trying to focus on the positive impulse that may or may not [have originally] accompan[y/ied] it. not that i care for the apologetic spin on that perspective, mind you. might occasionally ease discussion with a Believer, though.

        • wtfwjtd

          I’ve read where it’s normal for a lot of people look for patterns in things, and this is why many people are drawn to religion. In your case, you had figured out early in life that religion was BS, but apparently were OK looking for patterns in life via other (non-scientific) means. Younger people don’t have much life experience, and so haven’t been exposed to all the failures of the claims of various things that purport to be able to explain the world around us. I don’t even really know what “the occult” is, I was told it was evil growing up, but whatever. I guess Christianity is afraid that someone else’s made up nonsense might make more sense to some people than their made up nonsense, so they make a big deal of it to make it sound important.
          It’s funny, too, I was always told growing up that my “faith” would grow stronger as I grew older. But I found the opposite to be true–as I saw claim after religious claim get debunked, one by one, my doubts about the whole thing only grew.
          So that therapist was saying that you think he’s supposed to be your psychic? Hmm, sounds like maybe he needs a therapist, or maybe go visit a psychic, so he can discern the difference between the two. I think you are right, I’m not sure that he really knows his stuff very well.
          As for being a nun? It sounds like to me that you were drawn to the order, or as a preacher I used to know put it, “the rigors and routines of organized religion.” People often look for meaning in organization, I think it helps give us the feeling that we are part of something larger than ourselves. (Maybe it’s that pattern thing again in slightly different form).It’s this aspect I think, that makes the symbols, the artwork, and the architecture that you mentioned sound so appealing to a lot of people. It’s gives us the illusion of being timeless, and therefore gives our life more meaning somehow.

        • Greg G.

          “the rigors and routines of organized religion.”

          Parolees sometimes have problems adjusting to a world without structure and routines when they get out of prison.

        • wtfwjtd

          Yes, and the longer they’re on the “inside” the harder it is for them to make it on the “outside”, I’m told.

        • Kodie

          I can’t say I knew too much about religion but I did consider myself an atheist nonetheless. This is where I have difficulties with people crying foul over Christians claiming to being former atheists. I grew up thinking religions were just like a family thing, like having other cultural rituals and being a certain nationality or other, so their home life, different families would do things their own family way. Even though I am pretty sure most of the people where I lived were Catholic, I had a friend whose mother was Buddhist, and she (the friend) was almost psychotically fearful of losing her Buddha charm necklace. Hey, I know what it’s like to lose something you like, a favorite piece of jewelry, but it was something to do with her mother killing her, or superstitious like breaking a mirror and it would be doom for her to lose it. She later converted to Catholicism to marry her Catholic husband.

          It didn’t used to bother me so much, but almost everyone I know who wasn’t Catholic went to Catholic counseling and married a Catholic, except most of these Catholics are the kind who use plenty of ordinary birth control and don’t really seem that pious or religious. Anyway, besides her, I was exposed all during school to here or there, the Jehovah’s Witness who couldn’t celebrate holidays or stand for the pledge, Sikhs who wore turbans or girls who just wore their hair really long. I understood these to be “family” things, like part of their national heritage, more than a sacred belief in an exterior deity or deities. I also never asked a lot of questions, and I still don’t. I don’t treat people as though they are exotic, and ask about their exotic heritage or immigration or religions. I observe the differences are “neat” and therefore probably offensive to make a big deal out of it, as though I were at a freak show. It’s been my understanding that people will talk about anything they like to talk about and just want to be comfortable and accepted being who they are, and my way of honoring that is not batting an eye, not asking nosy questions about what I would not ask a Christian. It’s up to everyone on their own to celebrate who they are.

          I also had this stupid idea growing up that “atheism” was not a big deal either. I had all these people in school and in my neighborhood freely being who they were, and I don’t remember any bigotry against those of a different religion than Christianity (other than Jews! It was, even though a big enough population of Jews were around for schools to close on Jewish holidays, you’d still hear older white people making derogatory remarks – in private. My general assumption was that atheism was in the same category of “what do you believe” that would be just as acceptable to the majority Christians as co-existing with Sikhs.

          I think I just didn’t fit it in that psychic things and witch things and trying to cast spells or other paranormal things like ghosts and astral projection were also religions or supernatural things. I actually was not sure about ghosts until a few years ago when an atheist spelled out exactly why there can’t be such a thing. Without a religion, I’m not sure exactly where I thought “souls” would go, but if you asked me if I believed in ghosts, I would have said I’m not sure either way, but if they do exist, science would figure out exactly what happens at the moment of death. “Ghost lore” would say that “souls” or immaterial blah blah blah, should die and go ? I don’t know, that means heaven or hell, but that ghosts had died in some traumatic way and couldn’t leave. And I wanted to be a ghost, even though apparently being a ghost is a bitter eternity. I wanted to be invisible and fuck with people, and also know what people really said about me after I died. It still bums me out that I can’t both be dead and find out, and I think faking death is too complicated.

          Even saying before I was born, I didn’t exist, and everything was ok – there’s no sensation or memory of that. I would love to go on without the inconvenience of expectations of me and my time. It sort of sucks that life is all the inconvenient being bothered and hassled and worrying about eating every few hours, that death (in heaven or wherever) seems like a place you could cool off and exist without all this pressure, and I think that’s attractive to everyone. Religion seems to appeal to the desire to really go on one very good vacation, like the kind of people who go on a 2-week vacation to a tropical paradise, and decide on a whim to live there and never return to your real life. Your funds will run low and how will you make a living? Selling coconut trinkets?

          Heaven would be like that vacation never has to end and you don’t have to find something to make a little money either, that would make paradise a chore. And if you don’t have any “hope” of that, well, relatively, atheism is depressing. Better to make a lot of money young and retire, so you can go where the wind blows you for the rest of your life. I even think this is why Christian conservatives idealize wealthy people and vote to help them, because it is like playing the lottery – when they work their asses off and make a lot of money too, they will get to play, because they all vote for that system to favor them instead of “punish” them when they get rich – it’s a very appealing model whether living or dead.

        • TheNuszAbides

          the first time i was in a courtroom i had been spending a lot of energy studying theatre historically, practically, and experimentally, from the audience and on-stage and backstage. after about 5 minutes of proceedings, i was recalling the words of a friend’s first visit to Las Vegas: “every brick of every building is designed to make you want to spend money.” ritual (and Greek theatre was originally a religious ritual) and paraphernalia are key to discouraging disruptions and encouraging submission. of course, they’re also key to warrior-culture in-group reinforcement which doesn’t always exhibit submissive qualities…

        • D Rieder

          Because they can’t see any moving parts, they can claim God is simple. That’s their response to those who would demand an explanation for God. THEY think the complex and complicated universe with it’s unlikely organization requires an explanation. But when I say that if the complicated universe requires an explanation so does their God. They respond, “My God, he’s simple.” I don’t think they want it to sound like that…with the emphasis on God…but it has to if their emphasis is always on God.

        • wtfwjtd

          Pardon me for saying this, but…the “God is simple” argument is mostly for the simple-minded. As you said, anyone that give any thought at all to the matter, quickly realizes that a complicated universe requires a bit more complicated explanation than a “goddunnit”.

  • Greg G.

    I remember the first stock I ever bought went down and I couldn’t bring myself to sell it. I learned that the best thing is to sell it, buy a stock you think will go up, then buy the first stock again when you think it might go up. It’s not as easy as it sounds though.

    It’s the way they catch monkeys. They put an orange in a box with a hole too small to get the orange out. When a monkey gets a hold of it, it doesn’t want to drop the fruit so it can get away and avoid capture. We have monkey brains.

  • Regarding #32: We do not definitively have proof for things that happened so far back in history. It is certainly possible Julius Caesar was a fabrication, but the bulk of evidence supporting Caesar’s actual existence isn’t limited to a single collection of stories. There are statues, writings, biographies, actual evidence of thing he did and history he touched. Saying Caesar was a myth would be much more unreasonable than accepting his existence.

    Jesus Christ is the opposite. It is certainly possible he was a real person. However, his evidence is limited to the Bible and its apocrypha. Those sources contradict each other and themselves. There is no first-hand evidence – no signed documentation or self-referential biographies. There is no second-hand evidence aside from the Bible, no notes from authorities or writings from historians at the time. Jesus being a myth is the more reasonable assertion.

    • And aren’t there coins with the image of Julius Caesar?

      Take away the miracle stories from the Caesars and you have the (impressive) events we read in history books. Take away the miracle stories from the gospels and you have a not-very-influential teacher in a backwater long, long ago.

      • Kodie

        That’s not really great logic. Most people who exist or have existed are pretty much nobodies except to the people closest to them. I know some people, particularly Greg G., put in a lot of effort to explain the writings of the gospels to us, but I have to say that’s not up my alley at all, so I forget what I did read and skimmed most of it in the first place. Could the authors of the gospels even have imagined how this thing has taken off? Not being famous is no reason someone couldn’t have existed, and the cult that took off was the one writing about their friend. Maybe they even successfully naysayed a competing cult into the ground and we never heard of them. They use marketing ploys that still work at the market today – two packages of cookies made in similar factories, or even the same factory, one says “tastes home-made” on the front. Not only do you want to try cookies that taste more home-made, it implies the other cookies taste like chemicals in a factory by comparison. They are both chemicals in a factory – “tastes” home-made still doesn’t mean “is”, and they make flavorings that try to get closer to that taste, while still being made in a factory, and the other cookies taste fine. Against competing cults that were likely to gain followers, Christianity had “our leader performs miracles!” “Our leader is a martyr!” “Our leader resurrected from the dead!” Manufactured factory cookies. Other cults had leaders who, according to the implications of the one who raises from the dead, stayed dead and the cult died, and his followers moved on to the next available.

        • Not being famous is no reason someone couldn’t have existed

          Agreed. I’m not saying Jesus didn’t exist. Or did. I’m just talking about the very different role the supernatural plays in the stories of Julius (and other important historical leaders) and Jesus.

        • Greg G.

          Most people who exist or have existed are pretty much nobodies except to the people closest to them.

          Yes, of course. I think Jesus did not exist but the lack of evidence in favor of his existence is a necessary requirement but quite insufficient for that reason. It is that the best evidence for Jesus appears to be taken from sources that are not about Jesus at all. I take that as positive evidence that he is a fictional character. The second best evidence for Jesus is derived from the fictional accounts.

        • Kodie

          I really don’t need a final answer. Existing and being magical are two different things, and my argument was just only that if someone wasn’t famous enough to get on a coin doesn’t mean they didn’t exist. I don’t know too much about the founding fathers (also found pictorialized on money) to know, not only are they frequently depicted fictionally, they are often the only characters in historical accounts of them. Plenty of people existed before formal records were kept, and some of them may have been instrumental in some event but not seemed important enough at the time, or competition for someone who was recorded. In the digital age where it’s hard to escape the grid, each one of us exists outside of our body and in posterity to confirm. There are plenty of eyewitnesses to me daily but none are writing this shit down. If I became famous in some capacity, how much of their testimony from memory would be truthful accounts or just trying to get a bit of limelight. I’m not going to land on either side of the existence question because an ordinary person no matter how real or fictional can’t resurrect, which is the important part. If there were plenty of cult leaders at the time, one could have forged an impression on his followers that another didn’t, or was suppressed, and all were relatively unknown to the population at large, and all could be exalted with miracles in correspondence, but only one that we know of was. Could also be entirely fictional, like Jack Ryan or John McClane. The author had a type in mind and created a full character out of variations on a prototypical cult leader, but with all the dramatic feats of a blockbuster novel/movie/series protagonist.

    • Sophia Sadek

      The problem with the myth position is that there is no single myth. It is as if different groups of people fashioned competing myths. It is more likely that Jesus was an actual person who had students of varying ability and motivation. The students made up competing myths in an attempt to be considered top dog after the demise of their teacher.

      • Greg G.

        I used to think that, too, until I saw The Christ Myth Theory by Robert M. Price. The heart of that book can be seen at New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash where he has collected the work of various scholars who independently found sources for much of the gospels and the sources weren’t about Jesus.

        Since then I have looked at most of the claims about Jesus in the New Testament and found plausible sources for those claims, except for the parts of the Gospel of John that didn’t come from Mark or the OT. Even the epistles only refer to Jesus in terms of Old Testament verses or simple adoration. The closest the gospels can come to Jesus is using the Gospel of Thomas which is Gnostic.

        So, the best explanation is that early first century Christians were Gnostics, which was basically a Messianic cult who believed Jesus lived and dies in Old Testament times but was coming back before their generation ended.

        Then Mark wrote an fictional, allegorical tale, which the some of the remaining gnostics took as historical, and Matthew took the allegories as prophecies.

        The earliest Christians show no interest in the life and teachings of Jesus. The next generation are very much interested in those but the other three gospels rely on Mark but most of their differences are due to theological objections.

        • wtfwjtd

          “The earliest Christians show no interest in the life and teachings of Jesus.”

          Apparently to them, there was virtually no teachings of Jesus. The “Jesus as teacher” meme doesn’t show up until the gospels, and like you said it wasn’t until the late second century that these were even mentioned much by apologists as a defense of Christianity.

          Clearly, Christianity was an evolving movement, mostly based on some kind of Judaism, and to first- and most second-century Christians the character of Jesus was mostly a stooge or bit player. He only became important to later generations.

        • TheNuszAbides

          Son of GodTool of Zealotry”

          yeah, doesn’t have the same ring to it …

        • Sophia Sadek

          I’ll check out the author. We have “Killing History” at our library.

  • katiehippie

    The sunk cost thing kept me married far too long.

    • Kodie

      I think it’s that way with a lot of relationships. And gambling. Gambling fallacy. It doesn’t matter if you’re a few months in or a lot of years. My parents just got divorced a few years ago after married 50 years. I’ve been in relationships less than a year, and you just keep waiting for it to come back to the good times. Stupid love chemicals and fear of abandonment chemicals don’t help at all. You can’t just call it off at the first fight, we’re actually trained (maybe just girls?) from a young age that you have to realize what you love about a person before you say bye you loser. Guys seem to show up one day needing all your affection and validation, and the next day, you know they met someone or the guys called them whipped, and suddenly you’re not important. I’m done trying for these manipulative assholes. Seems I was trained or modeled, as a woman, this submissive (and I think of my mom as the more domineering parent) type to keep trying to change a man back into the guy he was when you met. Guys I’ve gone out with are cool with the liberated thing until a while passes, and suddenly you’re trying to cook and clean like their mother, and nothing is good enough for either him or his mother. It’s like a contest and you don’t want to give up and admit defeat like he or his mother is some prize. I dodged a lot of bullets.

      • TheNuszAbides

        type to keep trying to change a man back into the guy he was when you met.

        can’t remember the source (maybe Fran Liebowitz), but got a kick out of this a while back {insert monogamous-hetero-norms-disclaimer here):

        a woman marries a man thinking he’ll change and he doesn’t; a man marries a woman thinking she’ll never change and she does.

        oversimplified obviously, but ties in with other incidentals, like age-to-beauty-double-standard ratios, men having a longer stable ‘fertility window’, etc.

  • Sophia Sadek

    The sunk cost phenomenon is what keeps them struggling to mistreat homosexuals and other minorities long after losing the legal battle.

    • TheNuszAbides

      and they can thank godless [insert the latest trendy pejorative]s for the greater publicity of questioning authority. maybe the crux of the agony is they want so desperately to affirm/project their tribe’s version of Yahwehjesus (h/t Susan) Authority and yet appeal to the blatantly non-authoritarian ~Revolutionary Ideal~.

  • RichardSRussell

    Re #34, the “sunk cost” concern:

    = = = = = =

    “I do remember one formative influence in my undergraduate life. There was an elderly professor in my department who had been passionately keen on a particular theory for, oh, a number of years, and one day an American visiting researcher came and he completely and utterly disproved our old man’s hypothesis. The old man strode to the front, shook his hand and said, ‘My dear fellow, I wish to thank you, I have been wrong these 15 years’. And we all clapped our hands raw. That was the scientific ideal, of somebody who had a lot invested, a lifetime almost, invested in a theory, and he was rejoicing that he had been shown wrong and that scientific truth had been advanced.”

    — Richard Dawkins PhD, The God Delusion, Part 1

    = = = = = =

    One way to tell indoctrination from education: Does the person at the front of the room invite questions from the audience?

    • Does the person at the front of the room invite questions from the audience?

      And does the blogger allow comments?

  • avalon

    Look—it’s not like we have photo, video, or audio recordings of the major events recorded in the gospels.

    So who is the genius that decided to send Jesus to earth before photos, audio, and video?

    • Greg G.

      Why weren’t George Eastman and Thomas Edison born in the first century BC? That would have fixed that issue.

    • “Israel in 4BC had no mass communication”

      — heavenly Judas in “Jesus Christ, Superstar”

    • Kodie

      The same one who knew that as soon as photography was invented, so would trick photography, the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot.

      • dagobarbz

        That would be us. Hell had Photoshop way before humans!

  • Cognissive Disco Dance

    Yeah you got to know when to cut your losses. For example somebody said there aren’t any pastors who don’t believe what they preach and I said it’s obvious that there are, and they said it’s not possible (i.e. “no true pastors”) so I just got the hell out of there real fast lol.

    • Kodie

      That’s a great example. I will memorize this example.

    • The Rational Doubt blog here is about nonbelieving pastors.


      • Cognissive Disco Dance

        That was actually brought up. According to the troll in question they aren’t pastors if they are non-believers. Although said troll didn’t say what we are supposed to call them then. I guess you could call it a “no true pastors” argument. He/she was probably just being argumentative. I would rather go outside and smell the roses and leave it for greater debaters than myself to settle lol.

        • Thanks for filling me in. I haven’t been reading all the comments lately.

  • D Rieder

    The sunk cost argument seems to go hand in hand with Pascal’s Wager.

    • dagobarbz

      It’s what keeps Scientologists coming back after dumping boatloads of money for nothing.

      They hope that this next one course will pull everything together and everything will suddenly fall into place and make sense.

      That’s a false hope.

  • Jim Dailey

    The stupidest arguments Christians should avoid generally come from the bloggers and their comment box toadies on Patheos Atheist. The genuinely stupidest bloggers are “Friendly Atheist” (who is apparently “friendly” only if you emphatically agree with all his hate-spewing anti-Christian tripe) and Danthropolgy whose evolution stopped somewhere in the lower limbic system.
    Before all you jackass knee-jerk fucktards start screaming like monkeys and throwing feces, be advised that there are plenty of atheists whose arguments I deeply respect. Check out Strange Notions if you want hard-core philosophical difference. But the crap peddled here is mental pablum, fit only for people who had a hard time getting through the 8th grade, and have an axe to grind with God because they didn’t get a bike they REALLY REALLY prayed for.
    But whatever, enjoy yourselves here and compliment yourselves for actually getting all the way through a two paragraph argument. It keeps you from annoying everyone in public I suppose.

    • Dys

      Funny…and I always thought some of the stupidest Christian rants I’ve ever seen were on the Patheos atheist blog sites. And look, you’ve provided another!

      But hey, I’m sure you won’t let anything stop you from being a smug, condescending asshole. The important thing is that you managed to post an idiotic comment to boost your pathetic ego.

      Don’t worry Jim, someday you’ll grow up and realize no one cares what you think.

      • Charleigh Kimber

        For context, Jim Dailey there was banned a year ago from one of the two blogs he’s still ranting about. It wasn’t because of the general violent revenge fantasies he wrote involving atheists. It was because he wrote that he considered it a good thing that an elderly woman died because she was an atheist.

        • Jim Dailey

          That was a genuinely

        • Greg G.

          That was a genuinely

          You forgot to fini

    • Kodie

      Atheists don’t have an axe to grind with god. There’s just “fucktards” like you, who really exist, and who really are fucking “knee-jerk” “hate-spewing” “crap-peddlers.” If we didn’t have to wade through your fallacies and fantasies and bullshit bigotry trying to warp the world to bend to your fucking delusions there would be no problems. What there is instead, is “fucktards” insisting we hate god because you’re too goddamned illiterate to read and comprehend. Don’t blame us because you are too angry and stupid to read. Blame your mother.

    • Susan

      Before all you jackass knee-jerk fucktards start screaming like monkeys and throwing feces

      Like you did as an opening statement? I’ve met you on Strange Notions or someone with the same name as yours. To be fair, I don’t remember you behaving like this so you might be an entirely different person.

      Care to address the article above?

      It’s hard to take your opinions seriously after an entrance like that. About people or philosophy.

      Right now, you seem like a real ass and not a very clever one.

      Maybe in your next comment, you’ll do better.

      EDIT: Now, I think I remember you. I mistook you for Bob Drury. You were there in the early days of Strange Notions before most of the atheists were banned or walked away in disgust at the banning of atheists (including many scientists, philosophers and philosophers of science).

      Aren’t you a deacon? .

      EDIT: 3 days later for the record. No. You are not the deacon. Apologies to him.

      • Ron

        Given his comment history, improvement seems unlikely.

      • They ban the atheist at Strange Notions … but they apparently have the best philosophy! I guess it’s so good they don’t need critique.

        • Zeta

          From Strange Notions’ website: “Thus it is possible for an atheist to regard the whole thing as a cunningly—or not so cunningly—disguised form of propaganda or proselytization.” At least they are honest enough to admit that themselves.

    • Zeta

      I can imagine copious saliva dripping from your big foul mouth as you typed this insulting drivel that is without any substance.

      there are plenty of atheists whose arguments I deeply respect.
      Support your claim by naming and quoting those atheists who have impressed you so much and explain why. Provide some substance instead of insults, hatred and drivel.

      • Charleigh Kimber

        Silence on that one, I notice. Shocking. Why, it’s almost as if he was merely tone trolling.

        • TheNuszAbides

          and (with possibly more or less unconscious irony, not knowing his background) Academic Credential trolling.

    • It’s always fun to get a bracing splash of Christian Luv® now and again.

      Yeah, I bet Catholic site “Strange Notions” has all the best atheist arguments. What I’ve read has been uninteresting, but if you have an actual argument you’d like to summarize here (instead of just bragging about how big your dick is), feel free.

      Or don’t, and we’ll just assume that this is as intellectual as you ever get.

      • Jim Dailey

        I am not going to bother. You go try some of your misstated nonsense at a place where there is some real intellect, instead of preaching to your idiot audience.

        • adam

          So you’ve got exactly NOTHING, but your own bluster and a book of mythology….

        • 90Lew90

          Strange Notions… Another catholic online shrine to Thomas Aquinas, who you love because he can make you feel like you’re the smartest Christians, and whose arguments must be right because you can’t understand them. They’re that complicated. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to Aquinas or any of his enthusiastically fapping cheerleaders that he’d made quite a departure from Jesus, who made his god accessible even to children.

          Jesus gave us parables any dog in the street could understand.

          Not to be outdone, Thomas Aquinas gave us… Three theological syntheses, or Summas; nine treatises in the form of academic disputations; twelve quodlibetal disputations; nine exegeses of Scriptural books; a collection of glosses from the Church Fathers on the Gospels; eleven expositions of Aristotelian works [which are useless, because he only had fragments of two or three of Aristotle’s works, thus enabling him to completely misrepresent Aristotle, and apply his misunderstanding of Aristotle to his own ends]; two expositions of works by Boethius; two expositions of works by Proclus; five polemical works; five ‘expert’ opinions, or “responsa”; fifteen letters on theological, philosophical, or political subjects; a liturgical text; two famous prayers; approximately 85 sermons; and eight philosophical treatises.

          It might be a “strange notion” but do you think one of them might have got the wrong end of the stick with his god stuff?

        • Jim Dailey

          Seems to me you are the person who lacks understanding Lew.

          So to sum up, you are criticizing Aquinas because
          He is difficult for you to understand
          He wrote a lot

          I rest my case about the people that frequent these blogs

        • 90Lew90

          I’m not criticising Aquinas per se and I don’t deny that he was an intellectual giant and worthy of respect as such. But you must admit that the intellectual gymnastics he had to use to give the impression that Christianity actually has some intellectual rigour, and that he had to go mainly to Aristotle rather than the Bible to find the tools to do that, leave him standing in sharp contrast to the simple (but often silly) message of Jesus of Nazareth. One might even say it leaves Aquinas standing in opposition to Jesus, guilty of the arrogant display-of-knowledge that the Bible so explicitly, loudly warns against. Adam and Eve, after all, ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil did they not? And Aquinas’s entire corpus could be summed up as an extended enquiry into the nature of just those things, and an attempt to “know” God in that scheme. I can imagine God being very miffed about such an arrogant pursuit.

          Job 38 springs to mind.

          2 “Who is this that obscures my plans
          with words without knowledge?
          3 Brace yourself like a man;
          I will question you,
          and you shall answer me.

          4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
          Tell me, if you understand.
          5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
          Who stretched a measuring line across it?
          6 On what were its footings set,
          or who laid its cornerstone—
          7 while the morning stars sang together
          and all the angels shouted for joy?”


        • Jim Dailey

          So Jesus ‘ message is “simple” and “silly” ? Not like you, right Lew?

          It could be that Aquinas got into an argument with some windbag atheist, and felt compelled as a Christian to help the poor verbose soul to see the light.
          I am trying to think of some contemporary examples….

        • 90Lew90

          Or perhaps he saw that Christianity had very little solid intellectual credibility, and felt compelled as a Christian to himself become verbose (where Jesus didn’t feel the need) to try to show that Christianity was indeed philosophically sound. In order to do so, he needed a half-baked understanding of Aristotle. You’re also aware of what would have happened to any atheist bold enough to “windbag” in Aquinas’s time, aren’t you. I think you should stop digging.

        • MNb

          Good luck finding an European atheist from the 13th Century. With this silly joke you nicely confirmed the analysis of Charley Kimber.

        • Dys

          I rest my case about the people that frequent these blogs

          Just make sure you include yourself first (and foremost) among the intellectually non-elite.

        • Charleigh Kimber

          Unfortunately for you, you’ve entirely missed the point of Apologetics. They aren’t intended to be working arguments for a god. Indeed, they can’t be, because you can’t argue things into existing for philosophical reasons. You can, however, abuse Logic to say that anything is true. And that’s what Apologetics does. And why? Not to convince others. It’s to keep believers from questioning, to either bolster their beliefs, or confuse them so that they stay in the fold and quiet from shame, convinced that they must believe because someone allegedly more intelligent must be correct if they talk a lot.

          It’s simple to see by way of analogy. Many militaries do not really train recruits to fight professionally in boot camp. Instead, they make them drill enough to convince them that they know what they’re doing. That way, they won’t freeze up in combat, and go in confident… but still close to totally unprepared.

          And that is why Apologists fail so utterly when they go out and try their tricks in the real world. Catholic school doesn’t actually prep them for debate and reason when it comes to religion, but instead teaches them to spout dogma confidently and overlook the hideous flaws. It doesn’t work on others not already indoctrinated with the dogma. Those others rebut the Apologists who get angry and entrench themselves, because no one likes feeling foolish.

          In other words, it teaches you enough to set off the Dunning-Kruger Effect and convince you that you know a lot; when this is proven untrue, the Backlash Effect and the Sunk Cost Fallacy kick in, the former making you angry at the people exposing the liars rather than the people who lied to you, and the latter leaving you unwilling to abandon so much effort. And so you go back to the liars and their other generational victims, while cursing the people who have been fortunate enough to escape Plato’s cave.

        • I’ve already published an article on Strange Notions and then responded here to the rebuttal. Yeah, I’ve been to your “place of real intellect” and didn’t think much of it.

          But you’re not going to waste your time here actually trying to advance arguments or provide evidence? That’s weird … it’s almost like you don’t have any worth making public.

        • TheNuszAbides

          but, but, but it would deeply compromise his integrity to waste his pearls on sites populated by swine.

        • Dys

          So you’re lazy don’t have anything worthwhile to say. Looks like you’re a blowhard Jim.

        • Jim Dailey

          I can’t tell you enough what a pleasure it is to delete your emails from my in box. Please keep posting!

        • Dys

          That’s a weird fetish you’ve got there Jim.

        • Otto

          Catholic intellectuals = professional turd polishers. Yep they are really good at it…but their product stinks.

    • primenumbers

      “Check out Strange Notions ” – the one where they kick off any atheist and ban them for proving the Catholics wrong? And then lie about it? That one? Rather you go here: http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.co.uk instead

    • Otto

      I would be interested in their philosophical arguments for supporting an organization that excuses, hides and implicitly supports child rapists all for the organizations self interest.

      Many of the kids in their care weren’t praying for a bike, they were praying that Father Tom wouldn’t molest them today. Morally bankrupt Catholics like yourself are the worst…asshat.

  • Scott_In_OH

    I don’t think this is quite the sunk cost fallacy. The SCF is the argument that you shouldn’t bail on an investment because you don’t want to admit the investment was a bad one (and you hope–against evidence–that it will turn around and perform positively). When you say

    what would that do to my reputation in my community? I’ve argued for the Christian position with many people—what would they think of me?

    you’re foreseeing significant costs to withdrawing your investment. You’ll get kicked out of your family, your church, your social network. That’s a big deal and not the same as the SCF, I don’t think.

    • Good point. I mixed some valid reasons for inertia (“I’ll lose my Christian friends if I drop my religion”) with the sunk cost fallacy.