Christian Cowardice and the Suicide Tactic

Christian Cowardice and the Suicide Tactic April 5, 2019

A popular tactic within the Christian apologetics community is to identify and reject self-refuting arguments that are used against them. There is some wisdom here, but dig into this advice and you’ll find that it betrays a fear to confront the actual arguments.

What is a self-refuting statement?

A self-refuting statement is one that defeats itself. You can reject it without additional evidence or argument. Here are a few examples.

  • “This sentence is false.” If we assume that it’s true, the statement itself tells us it’s false.
  • “I will not respond to that.” Uh . . . you just did.
  • “Nobody goes there anymore; it’s too crowded” (Yogi Berra). The place can’t be both empty and crowded.

Popularity of this approach with Christian apologists 

Identifying a self-refuting argument is a quick way to parry an attack. You needn’t bother with a rebuttal if there’s no argument to rebut.

This is called the “Road Runner tactic” in I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (2004) by Geisler and Turek. The atheist whose argument has self-destructed is like the coyote in the cartoon who suddenly looks down to discover he has run off a cliff.

The approach is called the “Suicide Tactic” in Tactics (2009) by Greg Koukl. He wants the Christian debater to point out that the argument has committed suicide.

Here are some examples from Koukl’s book that are more relevant to apologetics.

  1. To someone who says, “There are no absolutes,” the Christian could point out that that sentence gives no exceptions and so claims to be an absolute. It defeats itself. Or to “There is no truth,” the Christian shows that the sentence claims to be true, thus defeating the claim.
  2. “The Bible must be flawed because people make mistakes.” But if people make mistakes, that sentence is itself subject to error. And if the atheist wants to salvage his position by arguing that people don’t always make mistakes (and that his sentence was correct), then the Bible might also be correct by the same loophole.
  3. “Only science gives reliable truth.” But why is that statement trustworthy? Where is the science behind it?

And that’s that! (Or is it?)

Koukl says, “When a view commits suicide, it cannot be revived, because there is no way to repair it. Even God cannot give life to a contradictory notion.”

Not necessarily. Only through a strict and uncharitable interpretation can we dismiss these statements as meaningless. They might be clumsily worded, but they’re not meaningless. In fact, each of these examples is easily salvageable.

  1. Instead of “There are no absolutes,” say, “I see no evidence for moral absolutes” or “If you claim that there is absolute truth, provide evidence to back up that claim.”
  2. Instead of “The Bible must be flawed because people make mistakes,” say, “The Bible can’t be declared flawless if it was written by flawed people” or “Bible manuscripts disagree, so we can’t be certain what the originals said.”
  3. Instead of “Only science gives reliable truth,” say, “Science delivers—consider the computer you’re typing on” or “If religion gives reliable new insights about reality, like science, I want to see examples.”

If the point were that clarity matters and that we should be careful how we construct arguments, that’s valid, but Koukl is not interested in careful wording. He wants to use this as a caltrop or rhetorical trick, an excuse to avoid dealing with the argument. This is what a debater does; this is not what someone interested in exploring the evidence does.

Christian cowardice and avoiding the burden of proof

The honest Christian would want to find any truth behind a claim. Is it poorly worded? Then fix the wording. Watch out for games like this where the Christian looks for the easy out rather than actually confronting any issue that’s there.

Used this way, the Suicide Tactic is just a dishonest gimmick to avoid the issue. The larger goal of apologists like Koukl—and they’ll often admit this—is to avoid the burden of proof. Making a claim and defending it is difficult, so he looks for opportunities to dupe the other person into doing that. He wants to attack, not defend.

In the first place, the Christian is the one making the remarkable claim—“God exists” or “Jesus resurrected,” perhaps—and so is obliged to gives reasons to accept the claim. But more important, the Christian can never win the argument if they shirk their burden of proof. Sure, they sidestep being embarrassed by not being able to defend their position well, but they also sidestep the opportunity to convince someone that they’re right.

Apparently they find that shouldering the burden of proof for defending the Jesus story is actually a burden.

Religion is a byproduct of fear.
For much of human history, it may have been a necessary evil,
but why was it more evil than necessary?
Isn’t killing people in the name of God
a pretty good definition of insanity?
— Arthur C. Clarke

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(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 3/30/15.)

Image from Miroslaav Vajdic, CC license

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  • eric

    the Suicide Tactic is just a dishonest gimmick to avoid the issue.

    Well, yeah, but that’s the difference between trying to win a debate rather than advance our understanding. IMO evangelists and apologists are unashamedly out to win a debate; their goal is to create converts. Lawyers function this way too (it’s the way the system is set up, antagonistically. A lawyer that – like a scientist writing a paper – pointed out the flaws in his/her own argument would likely be violating the ethics of their profession, because that’s not their job. In contrast, it is very much the scientist’s job to identify the limits and major caveats of their research in the research write-up).

    On the other side, it’s generally scientists and some other academics that try to advance understanding…and for those folks, the rhetorical tricks are frustrating and a sign of intellectual dishonesty. They want to advance hypotheses that get shot down. They want to lay out the pros and cons of their own points. They generally (but not always…grammar nazism is like the dark side…always seductive…) ignore wording mistakes or nitpicking minor points in an otherwise interesting argument.

    Different tactics or ‘rules’ for different goals, different objectives. And the theists are often operating under the rhetoric and debate rules/objectives, not the truth-seeker ones.

    • NS Alito

      After years of participating in the cre/evo debates, I’ve come to appreciate this cartoon:

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/14d71e2af28dcc91b875f70e72a049ed492f896821b877b0b718523383bd09da.jpg

      • Greg G.
        • Creationists like to mock evolution with deeply profound witticisms like “from goo to you via the zoo!” and yet they’re happy with God making Adam from dirt.

        • Greg G.

          Yeah, why is there still dirt?

          Sort of a mock Suicide Tactic.

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          “If dogs came from wolves, then why are there still wolves?”

          That question also works.

        • Greg G.

          If Caucasians came from Europe, why are there still Europeans?

        • Kodie

          If god can breathe life into dirt once, why didn’t he ever do it again, and secondly, why is it so hard to believe that life arose from non-life, just not a whole grown human man instantly, and a woman made from one of his bones? I mean, who else was there at the time to record this story anyway?

        • WCB

          I like Genesis 2. God decides to create animals so Adam won’t be lonely.

          God: Are you sure you don’t like the tyrannosaurus?
          Adam: No! Absolutely not!
          God: How about the manatee?
          Adam: Not at all.
          God: Hyuk! Hyuk! Hyuk! Not even this cute little platypus!
          Adam: How long is this going to go on?

          Genesis 2 paints God as a goofy idiot. Liberal type Christians want me to go all gaga and grin vacantly with how deeply inspiring this is allegorically. (Cue Jordan Peterson here.) Bible literalists get PO’d when I point out it makes God out to be a moron, hardly a being capable of creating an entire universe. I have had a lot of fun with this over the years. You creationists want mockery? OK. Here it is! Genesis 2 claims God is an idiotic dumbass. How inspiring is that?

        • God was new at being a daddy. You’ve got to grow into that role, y’know.

        • Greg G.

          He created millions of species in an afternoon and expected Adam to develop feelings for one. It was speed dating in warp drive. Adam got 6 milliseconds to name the species and connect on a personal level.

      • Damian Byrne

        I’ve been debating Christians for years, and you’re right. It’s NEVER one book vs another, as they imagine it to be. I for one have never read Darwin’s book, and I never plan to. It’s mostly out-dated by this point. They just don’t seem to get the difference in their thinking. My worldview does not depend on a single author who writes a book being absolutely correct.

        • NS Alito

          They’ve never been trained to think for themselves, or think critically. As one former JW put it, “We were trained to gaslight ourselves.”

        • Greg G.

          I watched the movie Gaslight this morning. Missed the first half-hour… or did I just forget that I watched it?

        • NS Alito

          No, dear, I’m pretty sure you didn’t watch Gaslight this morning.

        • Greg G.

          It was on Turner Clas…. OICWUDT

        • I marvel at Creationists who gleefully point out some moral failing in Darwin or they misquote from his books as if anyone cares. I suppose since they rely on authority, they assume that we must as well.

      • Michael Murray

        I like the way the cartoonist has tried to put more people on the bottom left corner than on the right. But I expect the proportions are more like 300,000 : 1 than 3 : 1

        • NS Alito

          One of the Great Moments in Cre/Evo Pwns was the plaintiffs’ lawyer* putting a stack of research journals containing papers on the evolution of the immune system on the railing of the witness box where Michael Behe claimed there was no evolutionary mechanism for the human immune system.
          ________
          *Kitzmiller vs. Dover, 2005

  • NS Alito

    3. Instead of “Only science gives reliable truth,” say, “Science delivers—consider the computer you’re typing on” or “If religion gives reliable new insights about reality, like science, I want to see examples.”

    It’s SOP for Matt Dillahunty to get the people who say they believe based on faith to acknowledge that “faith is not a reliable path to truth” by pointing out the sincere faith (like suicide bombers) that people have in other religions.

    • Pofarmer

      I watched one where he had this poor guy just stuttering and stammering. He knew he was cornered but couldn’t process the correct answer.

      • Doubting Thomas

        I’ve seen a few of those. They’re a thing of beauty.

        “But….but…but my faith is different because my faith is TRUE.”

        • Pofarmer

          I’ve actually been through that with my wife after she read “The True Beleivers”. She said exactly that and I just gave up. The God Virus has her.

        • Doubting Thomas

          If it makes you feel any better, my wife just asked me to pull a tarot card so she could see how her day is going to go.

        • Pofarmer

          We got a Geranium from my Grandmother after she passed away. She was very good with plants. It’s sitting on a coffee table between the couches in the living room window and looking lovely. My wife says this morning. “Grandma must be helping me.” I just bit my toungue. I mean, it’s mostly harmless supernatural woo, bit it sneaks out in harmful ways and behaviors and emotional responses.

    • WCB

      When it comes to the natural world, which we can see and experience so we know that exists, only science has ever had success explaining anything in that natural world. Religion has explained nothing. Not theology, not mysticism, not occultism. Theology has a perfect record. It has never successfully explained anything about the nature of the natural world. Why then would I accept theology can explain anything about a supernatural realm of a God that may not even exist? The burden of proof for anything beyond the existence of a natural world is on the shoulders of the theists et al. Good sound evidence.

      • NS Alito

        Hell, science has even explained why so many people have supernatural beliefs.

        • Pofarmer

          Not only that. Science can explain pretty much ALL supernatural beliefs, and why they occur. We don’t have to pick and choose which one is the right one when we realize they are all based on the same mechanisms.

  • Anthrotheist

    “Used this way, the Suicide Tactic is just a dishonest gimmick to avoid the issue.”

    I might suggest that it is also useful for subtly setting or shifting the unspoken rules of the conversation into black-and-white terms, given that the tactic relies on absolute concepts that are absolutely mutually exclusive without any possibility of nuance.

    • Too bad they don’t seem similarly mincing and over-careful when defining miracles, or what testable properties their god possesses. Good point, we can turn it around.

  • Chiropter

    If we assume that apologetics have more to do with keeping the faithful in pews than converting new people, this approach makes more sense. None of those statements represent actual arguments that I would make in debating with a theist. That’s irrelevant though.

    As a thoroughly indoctrinated teen, I saw Greg Koukl speak live. I thought he was great – all those zingers! All that proof! And how stupid were all those atheists who actually thought like that, right? Who would ever want to hang out with morons like that? It never occurred to me that it was a straw man and most real people don’t use those arguments or de/convert due to a good zing.

    His speeches did a great job of feeding the persecution complex the church had been honing in me since birth, temporarily shoring up my doubts and questions, and making me feel smugly superior to all the illogical atheists out there. His tactics didn’t need to stand up to reality; they just needed to align with the right Evangelical talking points.

    • Dude will never go broke teaching his tribe new ways to be smug gits or to dishonestly present their sales pitches. Dishonesty and arrogance are two of the cardinal Christian virtues.

      • Kit Hadley-Day

        Quite, there are plenty of people who post here, if they where more greedy and less moral, who could make bank swapping sides, i am sure we could do at least as good a job of defending religion as these guys do, if we where intellectually bankrupt of course.

    • I Came To Bring The Paine

      If I may ask, what led you to deconvert?

      • Chiropter

        It was a combination of many experiences over several years, but in (long) summary:

        – No loving, just deity would create sentient, limited beings only to torture them for eternity because they didn’t reach an impossible standard determined by that same deity. That’s sadistic and evil by any standard.

        – For all Jesus’ claims about unity, one of the only guarantees about any Christian anywhere on the spectrum from Fundamentalist to Progressive is that they’ll disagree with other Christians. Fiercely and regularly.
        You’d think a god could make his will a little more clear at some point, but… apparently not.

        – On a related note, Christians are just people. Every group and denomination claims that True Believers are transformed, sanctified, supernaturally improved. In 25 years of intense, devoted church involvement, I never saw it.

        I believed guys like Greg Koukl who mischaracterized non-believers, but when I got more experience with the world, I saw that people everywhere are… human. There are good and bad ones in every group, including religion. When “God’s chosen” priests and youth pastors are raping people on the regular, that’s not a compelling show of God’s transformative power.

        – The church has changed and adapted thousands of times throughout history. All those unquestionable moral standards shift on the regular. They just don’t mention that in Sunday school. Being around long enough to see it happen on a large scale was disconcerting.

        – Religion is unfalsifiable. If I’m at work or in a social group, and something isn’t working, we figure out why and try a new approach. In a church, you’re shamed for noticing and blamed for causing the problem. That’s neither healthy nor useful. There’s no mechanism for determining if something is wrong. An omnimax god ought to be able to do better.

        – All those “promises of God” simply never pan out in reality. The world looks exactly the same as it would if there was no active god shaping it.

        – Yes, the final element was specific, personal experience. The Bible says anyone who truly seeks God will find him. I knew my faith had failed, but I didn’t want it to. My whole identity had been built on Christianity.
        I literally cried out to the Christian God, begging with total sincerity for any sign, any word that he existed and cared.
        I got silence, and I was done.

        That’s probably way more than you wanted, but it took a lot before my belief completely crashed.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Congrats on your escape.

          Religion is unfalsifiable.

          I think most religions actually are falsifiable. It’s that the religious don’t like the outcomes of the test.

          What would we expect a loving, capable parent to do if their child was starving and they had food? What would we expect someone with a fire extinguisher to do if a person nearby caught fire?

          If a god is described as omni and loving, then we would expect them to intercede as any loving being would. God fails.

        • Chiropter

          Well, yes. Internally, there is always some way to explain away doubts and questions though. There are no straight answers within the church.

          Why doesn’t prayer work, for example? The proper Christian response is that maybe God said no, or he wants you to wait, or he wants you to ask again to teach you perseverance. There is absolutely no way to tell which it might be.

          In a human parent or teacher, that wall of silence would be rude at best and negligent at worst. In a god, people fall all over themselves to excuse it away rather than concluding no one is out there answering.

        • The “mature” Christian realizes that prayer doesn’t work reliably, as Jesus promised many times in the NT. But of course that’s just a band-aid to cover up the NT being wrong.

        • WCB

          A common response from the theists is that the age of miracles ended about the time of Jesus’s death. The promises of great miracle working ability was only for his disciples of that age and time.

        • Greg G.

          Psalm 77 is a lament about God not performing miracles in the author’s lifetime like he did in the past.

        • Kodie

          How are you going to learn not to catch on fire if god just puts you out. Makes you wonder if the firefighters are doing god’s work (as many theists would believe) or piss him off for interfering in his parenting process and spoiling his children.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Lightning rods on churches are an attempt to thwart god’s wrath.

        • epeeist

          I think most religions actually are falsifiable.

          The problem being that you can rescue things from falsification using a suitable set of ad hoc auxiliaries.

        • Doubting Thomas

          But if you allow ad hoc amendments to rescue a belief, couldn’t every belief be considered unfalsifiable?

          Also, wouldn’t the belief + the ad hoc = a new belief of sorts?

        • Greg G.

          Also, wouldn’t the belief + the ad hoc = a new belief of sorts?

          Yes, but the ad hoc part becomes a silent assumption, only considered when needed for a rescue.

        • epeeist

          But if you allow ad hoc amendments to rescue a belief, couldn’t every belief be considered unfalsifiable?

          Well yes, but each time you add another auxiliary you reduce the force of your original belief, look at Camping’s original claim about “the Rapture” taking place in May 2011 and when it didn’t happen reinterpreting this as a “spiritual” judgement day.

          In my youth I was a member of a small Marxist group, it was their constant reinterpretation of Marx in an attempt to cover the fact that things hadn’t happened as he predicted that was one of the major reasons I turned away from Marxism.

        • Damian Byrne

          ” Yes, the final element was specific, personal experience. The Bible says anyone who truly seeks God will find him. I knew my faith had failed, but I didn’t want it to. My whole identity had been built on Christianity.”
          This was me as a child. I had a bad upbringing, and often, when things got too tough, I would go up to my room, and pray, focusing on the picture of Jesus that I had on my wall. Basically as pure and innocent as you could get. Not once did I get a feeling or a sign or anything at all to indicate that there was some sort of god hearing me.
          I was up until recently a member of a debate forum. Been on it for four years. At some point last year, I got into a discussion with a Christian, and this person had the balls to tell me that he didn’t believe me when I said I had once been a Christian and that the lack-of-god-while-praying was a factor in my deconversion. Had the audacity to ask for evidence. He said that according to his Bible, Christians are people who never doubt, who never leave the flock.
          Here’s the thread if you want to have a read…
          https://debatingchristianity.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=34287

        • Chiropter

          It wants me to create an account to read, but I believe you. 🙂
          Unfortunate, but not surprising. If anyone can be a true believer and still lose their faith, that can be deeply threatening to those still in the religion. I’m sorry you had that experience.

        • Damian Byrne

          Oops. Sorry. Didn’t realise that that part of the site is not open to non-members. It’s one of the reasons why I dislike Christianity so much – its defenders are liars. Here’s what the link is about. Christian member had asked another atheist (not me) to seek God, and you will find him, to pray. The atheist replied he’d done that, bought the t-shirt but not gotten a god. Atheist asked Christian why, if the Christian would not accept the atheist’s witness of having sought God and not found him, why others should accept the Christian’s witness of having sought God and found him. The reason I called the Christian a liar is because he initially framed it as a test, that could go either of both ways. However, as discussion continued, it was revealed he never meant it that way. He literally said “Let all men be liars, and God true”. The statement (in his mind) is that if you seek God, you WILL find him, no ifs, ands, or buts, no asterisks, no terms or conditions. So…since people like myself are reporting back saying we haven’t found God…we must be liars then. That’s the only explanation. He found God, that makes the statement true, therefore anyone who says they sought God must never really have sought him at all. Never mind me and other people explaining to him how awful it was for us in our Christian days, of praying to the point of tears.

        • Pofarmer

          So, I assume you’ve read Thomas Paine, but. Even if revelations were real, there is no reason to trust someone else’s revelation. You don’t have have access to it. You can’t verify it. You can’t tell if the other person interpreted it correctly, etc, etc. The only revelation that should mean anything to you, is your own.

          There was a time when my wife and I were feuding. I was done with Catholicism and wanted to be done with Catholic school and the brainwashing that was going on. I told here that i thought that Jesus wanted me to show her this or that passage in the bible, and she just outright rejected it for whatever reason because she wanted to be Catholic, and Catholic’s said otherwise. It was a pretty great illustration of why revelation is bunk, and that was long before I ever started searching and reading and found the info that is out there now on the World Wide Web.

        • I wonder what the net effect modern tech has on religion. Examples like yours, where individuals can research the other side of the story that their religion doesn’t want them to know, makes me hope that it’s a net positive (that is, it’s net anti-religion).

        • Pofarmer

          I know for myself I never would have had access to all the things I had available online both for free and as books to buy through places like Amazon. It’s kind of a 2 way street though, as believers can find all manner of things as well. Honestly though it was probably on friendly atheist and may be here where I saw atheist giving theist ideas no quarter that it really started the sea change.

        • I suppose if you’re eager to remain siloed, you can find more narrow Christian topics that would support that. But that’s just more of the same. An insulated fundamentalist teen who suddenly realizes that there’s a big world out there with some very contrary views can sample completely new things.

          Reminds me of a conference where I met a newly-skeptical woman. She was using a Kindle to read The God Delusion. And looking at her, who knows what she was reading? it could’ve been a devotional for all anyone could tell. And that included her husband.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, my wife still likes paper books. She’s currently been reading some dreck by Matthew Kelly, and some crazy assed nun that’s all about praying for people in Purgatory. I like to have a little chat with her about how you verify beliefs, but I’m pretty sure it won’t end well.

        • I suppose it’s nice of her to spend effort to help strangers in torment … ?

        • Pofarmer

          Something like that…….

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          Thanks. We appreciated your testimony.

        • MR

          Thanks for sharing this, Chiropter. Question:

          Being around long enough to see [the church change and adapt] on a large scale was disconcerting.

          Can you elaborate on this? For me, coming from a Protestant background, there were at least two key things, abortion and the role of government. I was curious if your experience was similar or in other areas.

        • Chiropter

          I was too young to observe the abortion transition. I think birth control, education, and marriage equality were big ones for me.

          When I was growing up, abortion was already a big bad, but contraceptives and family planning were completely accepted. As I got older, and closer to potential marriage age, the Evangelicals took a hard right turn on the subject.

          Suddenly birth control was abortifacient, the Quiverfull movement was gaining more wide acceptance nationally, and maybe God wasn’t so sure about condoms either. Those had been Catholic sentiments – and sentiments that we’d mocked for being too legalistic.

          Education took a similar turn. There were always people on the fringe who though women didn’t need higher ed and colleges were scary, liberal bastions. Still, plenty of people in my family and church were educated professionals in some capacity, and I was always encouraged to do well in school and then go to college. If nothing else, I ought to know enough to be able to homeschool my future children.

          Right up until I actually went to college. Then the codependent combination of the GOP and Evangelically-fueled religious right started turning pretty hard against higher ed. My decision to go on to grad school was not a popular one among my fellow church members.

          On the liberal / progressive side, marriage equality became a thing. As social support for LGBTQ+ people grew, suddenly there were Christians using the Bible to say that God loved gay people and didn’t consider them (us?) abominations anymore. So… God changed his mind? Or God had been okay with the mistreatment and oppression of queer people up until the 2000s? Either way, it seemed suspect.

        • MR

          Interesting. I forgot about gay marriage. That was a big one for me, too. I saw it a little differently, though. I hope you don’t take offense, but I believe the reason we have gay marriage is because, like abortion, Republicans needed some hot button to rally the troops around and in so doing pushed the culture in the opposite direction.

          In the beginning, the general gay population wasn’t pushing for gay marriage, certainly not in any legal sense. My church, however, was making a hell of a stink about gay marriage and there was this huge disconnect between what my church was saying and what my gay friends were saying.

          When the first law against gay marriage was imminent, in Massachusetts, I think, I remember asking many gay friends and acquaintances about it, because I really didn’t get a sense that gays were pushing for marriage. Not one then was interested in getting married. I got reactions like, “I don’t need to be married to love someone.” “Why do I need to get married? If I’m in a relationship and it doesn’t work out, I can just move on.” “Marriage is a religious thing and my religion has rejected me, so I have no desire to get married.” “I don’t need to be married to be in a committed relationship.” “I don’t want a committed relationship!” Nothing surprising, but no one was pro-marriage.

          Once laws began to be passed, you saw people beginning to debate and take the side of gay marriage, which of course fed the Christian fire. It was a win-win for Republicans. I watched my gay friends evolve over time from “I don’t want to get married but they can’t tell me I can’t,” to “I don’t want to get married, but I have every right to if I wanted to,” to “They have no right to tell me I can’t get married, even if I don’t want to,” to “I want to get married!” to “Guess what! We’re getting married!”

          To watch gay opinions, let alone the general public’s, evolve over time was fascinating to me. To me it was clear that the Christian push to eradicate what was essentially a strawman, eventually ended up bringing the very thing they feared into existence. When you have someone telling you, “You can’t do this, and I’m going to make sure you can’t do this,” the natural reaction is to say, “Hell, I can’t!” And then you have a majority of the population saying, “Yeah, why can’t they?”

          This led me to question, Why would God foment a controversy, and in that controversy essentially bring about the very thing that he would be against? It made no sense to me. What did make sense to me was that this issue was good at bringing people to the ballots to vote Republican. It seemed clear to me that politicians were using this to manipulate religious people.

          In my youth, all government was suspect. Government, in general, was one big conspiracy that was going to bring about the Antichrist. But, somewhere along the line, without me realizing it, my people began to champion one party. I’ll never forget the day I saw George Bush addressing an evangelical group. This was before it was really understood that evangelicals had coalesced behind him. He was giving some typical politician’s speech, “You know this… (I don’t remember what), and you know that…, and,” leaning forward with a wink and a nod,”you know what I believe!” The crowd went wild. It was code, and I knew that code. I stood there a little stunned. This was precisely the thing I had been warned against in my youth, and yet here they were eating it up.

          This was a huge blow to my faith. My first thought was, “For want of a conspiracy, we became a conspiracy.”

        • At least here in Australia, I think part of what brought gay marriage into the mainstream was recognising the legal protections marriage provided that weren’t available to same-sex couples. But I also think part of it was “Look how many other enlightened countries have it. How can we still be lagging behind?” To some extent the case for Yes became “This is a more general plebiscite about LGBT acceptance”, while the case for No became “It’s an attack on our religious freedom, general morality, and probably lots of other things” (I know I have a co-worker who told me they had voted No not because they were against LGBT people specifically, but because they believed the scare campaign about it being a referendum on all kinds of other things).

        • MR

          Yes. If we could just go back in time and ask, what stoked that fire?

        • Kodie

          That’s not my impression at all. Gay people could always get married, it just wasn’t government-sanctioned, and they didn’t have any benefits or privileges that heterosexual spouses took for granted. Gay couples also had a relatively hard time getting a child, but surrogates and sperm donors, etc. allowed it, and maybe foreign adoption, but US-adoptions were more difficult. While married people who divorce have also their marital rights to property and custody, the legal issues weren’t the same for gay partners who were as fully committed as though they were legally married, but also have their messy break-ups and no legal back-up to divide property or grant custody to one parent or the other. Like say, if one lesbian had birthed a child, what does the other parent get, custody-wise, that a biological father or adoptive married parent would take for granted?

          I thought an issue when I was younger, you don’t see many out gay people in the first place, so the main issue was plain old civil rights if someone found out you were gay and outed you, or you were out, about keeping jobs or housing, and other discrimination. Of course, one of the main factors about preferring the same sex is for sex and relationships, so you could be a gay person but single, and nobody needed to know or ask, until you want to introduce your SO. Like most people, I think, we’re conditioned to seek these relationships and plan to have a life just like everyone else, so why should being gay cut you out of a nice family and a nice house to live in and a nice job to pay for all of that? I’ve heard most of my life of gay partners having a ceremonial event to pledge themselves to each other, and not that they didn’t need to be married to know they’re committed. Because you don’t, and that may be coming off the hippy-dippy days when living together as a straight couple became more common, and didn’t want to get that piece of paper.

          You need it for protections and benefits that married people get from the government and their employers, etc., I thought once the trend of gay people to be out, to be proud, to feel safe to do so in most places, because it became illegal to discriminate against them, and they were more visible, raising the confidence for other gay people to also come out or not even go in, they realized being in a committed relationship was not enough, or the natural next step. I thought the Obergefell v. Hodges case was brought because of how spouses in committed relationships and families were discriminated against or not recognized as legal spouses in or by states that still hadn’t legalized marriage equality for gay people, in cases where they sought the equal benefits and recognition and legal protection that heterosexual couples get, and were not getting. All along, before it was common to even know one person who you knew was gay, I’m sure these troubles getting recognized were there, just very sadly, that they couldn’t say anything or bring complaint that they were in a committed relationship when something terrible happened. I guess for most event-free dual-income households, being married or not married is the same thing, but it’s to have the same rights and privileges of being married, of being seen as an equal parent to your children, etc.

  • Doubting Thomas

    It’s easier to use word games than it is to acknowledge the fact that you’re evidence sucks.

  • skl

    In the first place, the Christian is the one making the
    remarkable claim—“God exists” or “Jesus resurrected,” perhaps—and so is obliged
    to gives reasons to accept the claim.

    They do give reasons. It’s just that some people refuse
    to accept those reasons, while others have accepted those reasons for thousands
    of years.

    But more important, the Christian can never win the
    argument if they shirk their burden of proof.

    Faith is not decided in a court room or a science laboratory. Faith is
    beyond lawyers and scientists and their “burden of proof.” But some people just don’t understand that.

    • Greg G.

      They do give reasons. It’s just that some people refuse
      to accept those reasons, while others have accepted those reasons for thousands
      of years.

      Their reasons do not involve evidence. That is an important factor.

      Faith is not decided

      That is all that need be said. It is wishful thinking. The thought process is as reliable as blindfolded dart throwing in every other aspect of life.

      • skl

        Their reasons do not involve evidence.

        They have evidence, too. It’s just that some people refuse
        to find that evidence compelling, while others do find the evidence compelling, for thousands of years.

        • Greg G.

          You know they have evidence? Present it.

        • skl

          You know as much as me.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Don’t flatter yourself.

        • Greg G.

          They say they have evidence. There is a big difference between having evidence and claiming to have evidence. If they had evidence they wouldn’t talk about the need for faith.

          Don’t say they have evidence until they abandon the faith crap.

        • NS Alito

          If they had evidence they wouldn’t talk about the need for faith.

          As noted earlier, they wouldn’t have apologetics.

        • skl

          You seem to be assuming that faith and evidence are necessarily mutually exclusive. But they’re not.

        • Greg G.

          Yes, they are. Where you have good evidence, you do not need faith. Faith goes where the evidence does not.

          I have evidence that my wife exists. I do not need faith to believe that.

          I have no evidence for a fire-breathing dragon sitting next to me on the couch. I would need faith or some other delusion to believe that.

        • skl

          Yes, they are.

          No, they are not.
          (Just ask the Democrats who still have faith that Trump colluded with the Russians.)

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Evidence
          – Don Jr.’s Russia meeting
          – Mike Flynn’s promise to end anti-Russia sanctions
          – Carter Page being investigated LONG BEFORE joining the tRump campaign for suspicion of being an unregistered Russian asset in the US

          The list goes on, no matter what your Cheeto tRumpenfuhrer tells you.

        • Pofarmer

          Let’s not forget Paul manafort giving proprietary polling data to – yep Russians.

          And isn’t it interesting the NRA’s campaign contributions have dropped substantially?

        • faith

          I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

        • skl

          That oldie – “faith is the assurance of things hoped for,
          the conviction of things not seen” – seems to fit pretty well.

        • What does that even mean, and how is it compatible to evidence?

        • Right–faith meaning belief without evidence. I’m familiar with that definition, but “belief without evidence” doesn’t describe attitudes about Trump’s collusion.

        • skl

          No, faith/belief is probably always sparked by evidence. The
          evidence may be considered to be very weak to very strong.

          In some cases, like with some people’s faith in Trump’s
          collusion, the faith appears less and less justified the more and more the evidence is investigated. But the faith continues.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Just because an idea is *sparked* by evidence doesn’t make it right.

          Lightning was once believed to be the spear(s) of a ‘god’.

          And those who believed it were very sincere.

        • You just said faith is compatible with evidence. So what is your point here?

        • skl

          You just said faith is compatible with
          evidence. So what is your point here?

          Just that faith is usually, perhaps always, sparked by
          some type of evidence. The evidence may be considered to be very weak to very strong, but it is evidence. (In the case at hand, you would say “very weak”, while others would not.)

          The evidence never proves that the object
          of faith is true. The evidence may never even show beyond any
          reasonable doubt
          that the object of faith is true. Otherwise, I
          suppose we’d be talking about an “object of fact”, not
          an “object of faith.”

        • So you’d define “faith” as something like “trust”, or an inference that is based on the evidence a person thinks they have?

        • Greg G.

          Just that faith is usually, perhaps always, sparked by
          some type of evidence. The evidence may be considered to be very weak to very strong, but it is evidence. (In the case at hand, you would say “very weak”, while others would not.)

          A baby rabbit is evidence of baby rabbits, not evidence for baby-rabbit-making gods. Faith takes over where the evidence ends.

        • skl

          Faith takes over where the evidence ends.

          But faith is not unrelated to evidence, is not without evidence.

          Oh, there could be some who have faith “just because”, “I just do”.

          But generally speaking, a person’s faith seems to be sparked by some combination of evidence and reasoning. They give a reason or reasons for their faith. The evidence and reasoning never proves the object of faith, but it sparks or supports the faith.

          I think we’re done here.

        • Greg G.

          But generally speaking, a person’s faith seems to be sparked by some combination of evidence and reasoning.

          Faith can be related to a lot of things that are not necessary for it. Faith can be a standalone, too.

          I can have faith that my car is still parked outside. I can go look, too. If the car is still there, I will see it, which is evidence that it is there. I can not then say that I still have faith it is there because I am actually looking at it.

          If one has evidence for the existence of something, one cannot say they have faith for the existence of it. A religious person who claims to have faith in God’s existence is implying that they do not have evidence.

        • skl

          We’re definitely done here.

        • Is Greg kicking you while you’re down? Yeah, that’s mean.

        • Greg G.

          You were done after the first reply.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          YOU are done here, since you refuse to accept that your assertions must have *evidence*, else we’ll rightly deny them.

        • Pofarmer

          It seems more honest to say that faith is generally caused by miss understood evidence and poor reasoning.

        • Greg G.

          I think faith can be caused by well-understood evidence and poor reasoning, too. Having faith despite the evidence and reason is the most admired form of faith. But when faith aligns with the evidence, it is no longer faith because it is “things seen”.

          I think it is funny when Christians tout the wonder of religious faith but when challenged, it is just trust.

        • I would call belief in spite of strong and compelling evidence to the contrary to be “faith.”

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Demonstrate ANY situation where faith and evidence coincide and BOTH ARE NEEDED.

        • I don’t assume that ice cream and cars are mutually exclusive–I can eat ice cream while driving; I can own ice cream as well as a car; etc.–but they’re pretty different. They certainly aren’t supportive. And that’s the problem with faith and evidence.

        • al kimeea

          you’ll soon get a hefty fine for eating that ice cream while driving around here distractedly

        • Define “faith”.

        • skl

          “Belief.”

          Or you could go with the bible’s “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

        • Susan

          “Belief.

          No. “Belief” is a whole other term.

          you could go with the bible’s “the assurance of things hoped for, the convictions of things not seen.”

          So in no way, evidence.

          Superstition despite the evidence, and with no evidential support.

        • Greg G.

          “Belief.”

          There is your problem. Knowledge is justified belief. Faith is unjustified belief. Knowledge is supported by evidence. Faith is not.

          A word can have different meanings and different connotations. The religious people use the definition you give until they are called on it, then start saying “faith means trust”. A person might trust a deceptive person but trusting someone that you only hope exists is not trust, it is faith.

        • So my belief in the Sun’s existence is faith?

          I’m still unclear on what this phrase means.

        • Greg G.

          Your belief in the existence of the Sun is faith at night. Seeing the Sun in the sky is evidence that it existed a little over 8 minutes ago.

        • That seems more skeptical than it seems is warranted to me.

        • Greg G.

          If the Sun exploded five minutes ago, we wouldn’t find out about it for another three minutes or so. But it still wouldn’t make the news.

        • I see what you mean, but it still seems like a reasonable inference that the Sun exists. Of course, if it were to explode we likely would have forewarning anyway.

        • al kimeea

          I’ve heard that one before. It’s a head scratcher.

        • This just seems silly to me.

        • al kimeea

          IOW wishful thinking that hopefully gains favour with an evil, spiteful genie

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Belief can be mistaken.

          Try disbelieving in gravity and stepping off the observation deck of a skyscraper.

        • Kodie

          The conviction of “things not seen” means there is no evidence.

          Faith is an emotional state of denial.

        • People believe all kinds of stupid, incorrect assertions because of that exact flaw in our rationality. Congrats, sort of, for revealing that Christianity, every other religion, and Bigfoot hunters all operate with the same kinds of PROOF YES PROOF.

          In fact, that’s what the scientific method is supposed to eliminate: our flaws in reasoning. That’s why it doesn’t reveal support for any supernatural claims. And that’s why you despise it with all your heart.

          You ache with the desire to hold your beliefs for a good and solid reason. Science would give you that, if any such reasons existed. But none do. So you must either come up with fake science to do that job, or demonize, negate, and dismiss it and its conclusions. It’s so funny to me to see Christians perform this cheap carnival trick to gain for themselves that kiss of validity. So funny.

        • NS Alito

          To be fair, they didn’t have to have good and solid reason back when they could just burn heretics at the stake. Ah, the good old days….

        • Greg G.

          Torture them until they concede you are right, then burn them before they can recant.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, certainly very few without armies oppsed them. It’s why I say I think religious beleif had a genetic component. Non beleivers were actively weeded out for centuries.

        • NS Alito

          Well, evolutionarily speaking, people who didn’t go along with the powerful party’s line got weeded out. There are idioms across all cultures to describe people who know better than to speak up.

          Rita Mae Brown said: “I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.” There are other rewards, including not being killed, not being beaten, not being suspected or accused of every crime, not being shunned, not having the opportunity to prosper and reproduce….

        • skl

          Captain Cassidy?!!

          Let’s see… ahh… I think I see how this works:

          You can respond with a comment to me on this blog, but I’m not allowed to comment on your blog.

          Pretty odd, though.

        • Chiropter

          She has clearly stated rules for commenting on her blog, and you broke them.
          Nothing odd about cause and effect.

        • skl

          That rule being ‘questioning what she writes.’

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Really?

          Demonstrate that.

          It’s more likely you were banned for violating the rule against proselytization.

        • Pofarmer

          Or generally being a dick.

        • Greg G.

          Pretty odd, though.

          No, she can respond to you here and you can respond to her here on this blog because you are not banned here. You got banned over there so you cannot post there. Pretty simple.

        • Pofarmer

          Kinda like ole James McGrath.

        • skl

          Right. In her open-minded, oh-so-rational, empathetic, egalitarian,
          and inclusive view, she gets to comment when and where she pleases, but I don’t.

        • Greg G.

          She has the right to start a blog and that gives her the ability to ban twits.

          You have the right to start a blog and block irritating people.

          You can converse or not on other blogs.

          Quitcher whinging.

        • skl

          You can converse or not on other blogs.

          But not on hers.

        • Greg G.

          Whose blog are you talking about here again? That’s right, HERS!

          Do you know why you can’t comment on her blog? Because she doesn’t want you to and it is her blog.

          Start your own blog and ban her. Then it will be even. I have a better idea. Start two blogs and ban her on both. They you will be winning.

        • You broke the rules, and now you’re banned. Deal with it and move on.

        • skl

          I don’t know what rule or rules I supposedly broke.

          But I have moved on. I had no choice.

          I’m just wondering why @Captain Cassidy hasn’t.

          She bans me from her blog, then goes searching for me to
          talk to me on another’s blog!

        • Greg G.

          But I have moved on. I had no choice.

          You do not understand “move on” either. If you had moved on, you wouldn’t cry about it, especially in public.

        • Yeah, that must be it. You’re just so thoughtful, so provocative, that, try as she might, she just can’t get you out of her mind, so she scours the internet looking for ways to engage with that powerful brain.

        • Greg G.

          I remember when her posts appeared in Recent Comments. She also replied to Anthrotheist and Chiropter. Yours was not the first she replied to. She may have clicked a Patheos trending link for the article. There are other options to consider besides the paranoid ones.

        • LastManOnEarth

          Don’t flatter yourself.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          But I have moved on. I had no choice.

          Sure doesn’t SOUND like you’ve moved on….

          And you’re a mendacious, facetious sack of insincere crap in asserting you don’t know, since you were told MULTIPLE times what not to do on RtD.

        • MR

          Whaa-Whaa! Captain Cassidy gets to make a compelling, honest point here on this blog, but she won’t allow me to play my stupid, dishonest game on hers. Whaa-Whaa!

        • Wow–it’s almost like there are penalties for being an asshole.

          Who knew?

        • skl

          Depends on how you define a**hole.
          At Patheos Nonreligious in general, I found it means
          ‘Anyone who disagrees, challenges, or otherwise takes
          exception to what the typical PN blogger or commenter say.’

          To your credit, you’ve not only not banned me but frequently
          respond to my comments.

          Quite unlike the Captain.

        • Pofarmer

          I suggest you peruse the Catholic Channel and see how many blogs either don’t have comments at all or heavily, heavily moderate them.

        • Susan

          Depends on how you define a**hole.

          Well, there’s you. Someone who pretends to raise an issue, never acknowledges the responses, and repeats the same crap over and over for years without being honest.

          In short, someone who makes a career out of being a disingenuous weasel.

          I found it means

          Bullshit. You have behaved like a proselytizing weasel on every site I’ve ever seen you participate in. You have developed a well-earned reputation.

          Bob S. is very patient. He lets your bullshit fly. And the chips fall where they may.

          you’ve not only banned me but frequently respond to my comments.

          And you have behaved like an asshole every time. Also, when many other commenters here respond, you behave like an asshole.

          i.e. You ignore the responses, pretend you don’t understand the responses, and use the same dozen or few tropes over and over again, as though no one had called you on them.

          It doesn’t surprise me that you’ve been banned elsewhere.

          Because you’re a perpetually disingenuous weasel.

          In this case, you reap just what you sow.

        • skl

          You poor girl.
          You seem to have an addiction to people you consider a**holes.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Nope.

          An addiction to opposing bad-faith lying is a GOOD thing, skl.

        • MR

          You poor girl.

          Make that a condescending asshole.

        • Kodie

          I wish you could recognize how dumb you sound all the time.

        • MR

          But there are plenty of us who would like to see your dishonest ass banned.

        • Pofarmer

          He started out here as a lying liar claiming he was an atheist. He’s tried that shit on various blogs and been banned. He gives weasels a bad name.

        • Greg G.

          You present terrible arguments at an adolescent level.

          but I don’t.

          Again…. start your own blog and comment all you want.

        • skl

          Greg G,
          You need to ask yourself why you spend so much of your time
          on what you consider “terrible arguments at an adolescent level.”

          Good night, Greg G.

        • Susan

          Good night, Greg G.

          Look at you, acting like an asshole again.

          Proselytizing and refusing to engage in reasonable efforts to address your proselytization.

          If that gets you banned elsewhere, based on already established rules, then don’t be a whiny brat about it.

          The only reason you weren’t banned here a long time ago is because Bob S. is too busy and understaffed to see the long-term pattern of proselytizing and refusing to engage.

        • Greg G.

          You need to ask yourself why you spend so much of your time
          on what you consider “terrible arguments at an adolescent level.”

          No, I don’t. I know why.

        • skl

          So, you know why you spend so much of your time on what you consider “terrible arguments at an adolescent level.”

          Feel free to tell the rest of us.

        • Greg G.

          I feel free to tell you. I also feel free to not tell you. If you understood, you wouldn’t need to be told but if you need to be told, you wouldn’t understand anyway.

          You keep saying goodbye, good night, and good day, but you never leave.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          but if you need to be told, you wouldn’t understand anyway.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbuR0uonPQI

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Unpulled weeds choke out flowers and vegetables.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Such a blog would be as barren as the desert surrounding Ozymandias’ shattered statue…

          😉

        • Joe

          she gets to comment when and where she pleases, but I don’t.

          Food for thought there.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          skl -> Rationality translation: “I’m an asshole, but she’s not, so she’s welcome more places.”

        • MR

          skl -> Rationality translation: “I’m a dishonest asshole, but she’s not, so she’s welcome more places.”

          FTFY

        • LastManOnEarth

          Go ahead and ban her on your blog then.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You violated RtD’s Rules of Engagement.

          Actions, both good and bad, have *consequences*.

          You knew the rules, and violated them with your eyes open.

          Don’t start whining NOW.

        • Seriously? You’re bragging because you haven’t been banned here yet?

          Reminds me of Trump bragging that the summary of the Mueller report didn’t say that there was as much evidence of illegal activity as there might’ve been. That’s a pretty low bar. Ditto for you.

        • skl

          No. No bragging whatsoever. Just stating facts. Surprising facts.

        • Yeah, startling–you act like an asshole and you get banned. Stop the presses.

        • Greg G.

          Surprising facts.

          No, not surprising at all. You think you have a rapier wit but you are sparring with a broomstick wit.

        • skl

          A rapier-armed warrior such as yourself should leave the poor broomstick people alone.

          Good day, Greg, the bully barbarian.

        • Greg, the bully barbarian.

          You’re saying Greg should fight with people of his own intellectual mettle and leave defenseless people like you alone?

        • Greg G.

          You have a point that I am a bully. I appear to have engaged in a battle of wits with an unarmed man.

        • Someone told skl to never bring a knife to a gunfight. So he’s brought a water pistol.

        • epeeist

          So he’s brought a water pistol.

          And not even a super-soaker, but one he got from a Christmas cracker.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          When you finally stop tilting at windmills (better analogy, IMHO) and come to your senses, we won’t need to contest you, as you’ll be among the rational, and ashamed of your former advocacy of superstitious idiocy.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s interesting you mention bigfoot hunters. When my kids were younger, and we were still kind of converting to atheism, we got into the show “finding bigfoot.” It took some time, but we all figured out independently it was bullshit, lol. It think realizing that was one of the keys to them seeing through their religious indictrination as well. And then shows like “Brain Games” that did episodes in the neurological biases that produce religious experiences and “faith”.

        • Greg G.

          Did you ever see “Mountain Monsters”? It had some mountaineers from West Virginia traveling around the Appalachians looking for different Bigfoot, each had a special name and they gave a history for it going back a couple hundred years. It was actually filmed near their hometown about 15 miles from my hometown. A good friend who lives next door to my mother played a witness in one show.

          I was at a beach resort near Vung Tau, Vietnam last year, and saw a rerun of it on Animal Planet.

        • Pofarmer

          Yes. I was waiting for one of those guys to shoot one of the other guys. Lol.

        • You assume it is compelling.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Faith is gullibility.

      Don’t inflict it on those less gullible than yourself.

    • Right–faith isn’t decided. You believe whatever nutty BS you want, and that’s that.

      If you actually want to argue your faith-based beliefs, then it’s not faith anymore. Now you’re in the domain of evidence, and you’ve got none.

      • Paul

        “If you actually want to argue your faith-based beliefs, then it’s not faith anymore.”

        Is that why you don’t talk about your humanism, Bob?

        “Now you’re in the domain of evidence, and you’ve got none.”

        Everyone has the exact same evidence. The evidence is interpreted through one’s worldview.

        • Doubting Thomas

          The evidence is interpreted through one’s worldview.

          For reasonable people it should actually be more like “One’s worldview is determined by the evidence.”

          I’m not a naturalist because I decided to interpret the evidence through a naturalistic worldview. I’m a naturalist because the evidence all points to naturalism being true.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Yup, theists love to conflate presuppositions with conclusions. Sure, the conclusion becomes a pressupposition for the next investigation, but it never stops being a conclusion.

        • Is that why you don’t talk about your humanism, Bob?

          Huh?

          Everyone has the exact same evidence. The evidence is interpreted through one’s worldview.

          Then use your evidence to argue for the Christian worldview.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          A worldview could allow a person to believe that gravity doesn’t apply to said person, leading that person to step off a tall building and die.

          Such contrafactual beliefs are called delusions and psychoses.

          Religion is one such belief.

        • Michael Neville

          You keep pounding the same manta about worldviews. Our worldviews are based on evidence. Your worldview is based on presuppositions. If evidence doesn’t support your presuppositions then you discard the evidence.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          You’re still implying your worldview is somehow superior.

          DEMONSTRATE that before you try to be snide.

      • skl

        If you actually want to argue your faith-based beliefs, then it’s not faith anymore.

        Not really. Their faith argument is not without evidence. Faith and evidence are not necessarily mutually exclusive (just ask the Democrats who still have faith that Trump colluded with the Russians). It’s just that some, such as you, just don’t find their evidence compelling.

        • Then use whatever you want to show that the supernatural worldview makes sense.

          As for the Mueller report, it hasn’t been released yet. As for Democrats using faith, all I care about is conclusions based on evidence. I call that trust.

        • WCB

          It is not a situation where what matters is if supernaturalism makes sense. What matters is if there is good evidence that a supernatural realm actually exists. I can make something “make sense” as special pleading, or a set of claims that is at least coherent. But evidence is a whole different matter. If one predicates a claim based on a set of a priori claims that are not demonstrated to be true and may very well be false, then that final claim is not demonstrated at all.

          The usual theist concept of God rests on many various theories, the exact claims depending on the specific theist. God is simple, outside of time and space and on and on. Not one of the many possible extraordinary claims can be proven or demonstrated to be true.
          Most certainly not useful for use as foundations of further claims.

        • Greg G.

          Faith and evidence are not necessarily mutually exclusive

          Faith begins where the evidence ends. They are exclusive.

        • Pofarmer

          Hell, quite often faith exists in strong opposition to the evidence.

        • skl

          No.

        • Rudy R

          Many Democrats are waiting to read the Mueller report to draw a conclusion. Only thing we learned from your little bit of nonsense is that your a Trumpster.

        • Michael Neville

          Faith is what you need when you don’t have evidence. If you do have evidence then faith is superfluous.

        • skl

          No.
          If you want more words, feel free to peruse the rest of the thread.

        • Michael Neville

          Next time you disagree with me try a real rebuttal. Yer rong is utterly meaningless other than to show that you can’t rebut what I said.

        • WCB

          It is the quality of “evidence” that matters. Bad or silly claims that are easily debunked don’t work as evidence.

    • WCB

      “What can be asserted without evidence can be denied without evidence.”

      – Christopher Hitchens

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      An excuse is NOT a *reason*.

    • Their reasons fail, and the fact that many accept them proves nothing.

      What is it decided by, if any form of evidence isn’t relevant? Personal preference? Whim?

    • Kit Hadley-Day

      The point is the reasons are not based in reality enough to survive even the most casual of observation by someone who is not already invested in believing them.

      ‘Faith is not decided in a court room or a science laboratory. Faith is
      beyond lawyers and scientists and their “burden of proof.” But some people just don’t understand that.’

      this is probably the most elegant thing i have ever seen you write, the reason most rationalists get upset is not because other people believe in irrational things, its because those people try and suborn the language and techniques of science to prove that their beliefs are justified, if the religious would stop doing that, and stopped trying to force their beliefs on other people then the world would be a much happier place.

  • JustAnotherAtheist2

    “There are no absolutes,”

    This statement is perfectly valid, it only becomes self-contradictory when apologists equivocate. When Turek speaks of “absolute truths” he means an entity with independent existence. This is distinct from “truth” as a mere proposition label. As such, it being true that there are no absolute truths is self-consistent.

    “The Bible must be flawed because people make mistakes,”

    I’ve never encountered anyone using this argument.

    “Only science gives reliable truth.”

    This is oversimplified to the point of being a strawman. The real thought would be more aptly expressed as, “science is the only reliable method we know of for exploring external reality”. Despite apologists’ objections, this is both self-consistent and testable by science. Two wrongs for the price of one!

    The examples don’t even need rehabilitation, all one needs is to know how to spot silly word games and bad philosophy.

    • What baffles me is apologists like Koukl who think that they have completely cleared the field and that their antagonist will then have no rejoinder–except for admitting defeat and moving on to another argument. I wonder if they ever test-drive their ideas.

      • NS Alito

        I remember at talk.origins we would get a steady supply of people coming in with the same irrefutable proof of how biological evolution, radiometric dating, geological stratigraphy, etc., were all laughably wrong. May Athena smile upon Mark Isaak’s work to collect and index the refutations to their failed arguments. It saved us a lot of time.

        [ http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/ ]

        • Greg G.

          Ah, the good ol’ days…

      • Kit Hadley-Day

        like many apologists, i suspect he mistakes being walked away from in disgust the same as proving his case. he probably thinks he has won every debate he has had and thinks laughter is a sign of someone losing an argument.

  • Paul

    “Instead of “There are no absolutes,” say, “I see no evidence for moral absolutes”

    Everyone has the exact same evidence. Bob is just interpreting the evidence through his humanism worldview lens. So he’s really saying “From my humanism worldview, there are no moral absolutes.”

    • Michael Murray

      We don’t all have the same evidence. We haven’t all read the same books, had the same experiences, gone to the same parts of the world …

      You could of course rewrite it again

      “I have not seen sufficient evidence to persuade me of the existence of moral absolutes”.

      • Paul

        But you can still read those books and travel to other parts of the world. Will you be persuaded afterwards? If you view things though the lens of humanism like Bob, you will read those books and see other parts through that lens. You wouldn’t be persuaded. Persuasion will occur if you put on different lenses and come to the conclusion that that worldview offers a better explanation of the same evidence.

        • Pofarmer

          You seem to be arguing for maximum moral Subject tivity.

        • Paul

          No. The fact that people have different worldviews doesn’t make things subjective. Facts are objective and we all have same facts. I’m saying that people interpret the facts through their worldview lens.

        • Pofarmer

          How does that not make your worldview subjective?

        • Greg G.

          No. The fact that people have different worldviews doesn’t make things subjective. Facts are objective and we all have same facts.

          It depends on the worldviews, though. A worldview that values faith over evidence is far more subjective than one that does not.

          I’m saying that people interpret the facts through their worldview lens.

          The less objective the worldview is, the more subjective the interpretation of the facts will be.

        • Paul

          Sounds to me like your biased towards particular worldviews – your worldview is coloring your opinion of worldviews.

          Using science we can describe the predictable, consistent way in which the universe normally behaves. Science is based on the underlying uniformity in nature. But why is there uniformity in nature? What is the foundation for this principal? If the universe came into existence through natural, directed processes, why would there even be uniformity in nature?

        • Susan

          If the universe came into existence through natural, directed processes, why would there even be uniformity in nature?

          Why wouldn’t there be?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          I’m not sure that ‘natural, directed processes’ is even a rational idea, applied to a Universe showing no sign of volition.

        • Greg G.

          Sounds to me like your biased towards particular worldviews – your worldview is coloring your opinion of worldviews.

          Your worldview shapes your perceptions, observations, and conclusions. Your worldview is just cognitive dissonance. My worldview is shaped by my perceptions, observations, and conclusions. I have held your worldview. It doesn’t stand to honest scrutiny even from within the worldview.

          If the universe came into existence through natural, directed processes, why would there even be uniformity in nature?

          That question does not come from honest scrutiny. If the universe came from a natural process, it would be a single undirected process. There could be nothing but uniformity besides quantum fluctuations.

          If you were honest, you would turn the question around and ask, “Why is there nothing but uniformity beyond quantum fluctuations if the universe was created by a powerful being with options besides uniformity?”

          Don’t let your cognitive dissonance shut down your mind. Think harder. Think it through.

        • Grimlock

          If the universe came into existence through natural, directed processes, why would there even be uniformity in nature?

          What is the alternative to there being at some point regularity/uniformity in nature?

        • epeeist

          Complete aside.

          A naturalistic theory called “General Relativity” predicts the existence of black holes. Yet again, the theory is shown to be veridical

        • Grimlock

          Science, man. Gotta love it!

        • epeeist

          But why is there uniformity in nature?

          I don’t know and, more to the point, neither do you.

        • I’m saying that people interpret the facts through their worldview lens.

          That sounds like “people have biases.” Yes, they do.

        • Paul

          What I’m trying to say is more along the lines of “people have axioms.” But, yes, they have biases too.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Axioms should stand on their own, regardless of the belief of lack of belief on the part of the person told that axiom.

          Religious presuppositions DON’T stand on their own when faced with lack of belief.

        • Joe

          How do you get around the exact same problem you accuse us of?

        • epeeist

          I’m saying that people interpret the facts through their worldview lens.

          Facts are truth-makers for propositions. The import of your claim is that truths are relative to world-views.

        • Michael Murray

          Now you are just speculating. You’ve know idea how Bob and I would behave if we had different evidence.

          I’m probably over reacting to the fact that you seem to want to make this a personal comment about people you don’t know. Why not stick with “peoples weighing of the evidence depends on their world view”. I’d prefer “peoples weighing of the evidence depends on their priors” but the principle is similar.

        • Paul

          “You’ve know idea how Bob and I would behave if we had different evidence.”

          You don’t have different evidence. You have the same evidence. It could be the case that you have different worldviews, in which case you would view the evidence differently. I happen to know that Bob’s worldview is humanism. I didn’t say that’s what yours was, I was saying “If.”

          Yes, it does sound like “peoples weighing of the evidence depends on their priors” is very similar in principle to what I was saying.

        • Michael Murray

          Different evidence to what we currently have! You are assuming that we would reject the additional evidence we would need to gather to have the same evidence as you.

          I can see a rabbit hole opening up here and I just don’t have time to let the ferrets loose at the moment. So I’m going to stop. Thanks for the conversation.

        • If my preliminary viewpoint was humanism but then the evidence consistently pointed elsewhere, I’d quickly drop that flawed viewpoint and find one that worked better. My viewpoint/worldview is always tentative.

        • Paul

          I would agree with most of what you said. It’s not the evidence doing the pointing. It’s which worldview can account for the evidence.

        • Pofarmer

          Lot’s of different worldviews account for different evidence – differently. Hindu’s and Christians and Navajo’s all see Morality differently, for instance. There’s only one worldview that attempts to account for the basic morality of all 3.

        • Get specific if you’d like. What evidence and what worldview are you talking about?

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          It IS the evidence doing the pointing, in any rational worldview.

          You’re adding unsupportable presuppositions.

        • Kodie

          I would agree with most of what you said. It’s not the evidence doing
          the pointing. It’s which worldview can account for the evidence.

          No, it’s not. Christianity makes up fictional guesses to account for the evidence. You have to remove your bias and apply some critical thinking.

        • Kodie

          You seem to be brainwashed.

    • Rudy R

      What is the exact same evidence?

      • Paul

        We live in the same universe, the same galaxy, live on the same planet, have the same plants, animals, rock layers and fossils, etc…

        • Greg G.

          We all get the same warm feelings inside with confirmation bias. Some take that as evidence for their religious beliefs. Others realize that it is unreliable as evidence, else they would lead to the same religion.

        • Rudy R

          Ok, evidence based on naturalism.

        • Paul

          If your worldview is Nauralism/Material, you’ll interpret the evidence through that lens. But if matter is all that there is, how do you account for the immaterial such as laws of logic?

        • Rudy R

          If you follow the evidence you provided as examples, it points to a naturalism/materialism worldview. Laws of logic are an emergent property of a brain state, just as wetness is the emergent property of multiple H2O molecules. Laws of logic describe fundamental precepts about the universe we live in; they do not prescribe the universe we live in. Other universes could have other laws of logic, provided there is a brain in those universes to describe those laws.

          Seems to me you are conflating immaterial with the supernatural. The immaterial is not inconsistent with naturalism. No brain = no logic.

          Incidentally, the laws of logic are tentative propositions on our existing, known, physical evidence. If our understanding of the universe changes, the laws of logic could change.

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          The laws of logic are derived from observation and a little bit of statistics.

          They’re mental maps of physical phenomena.

          Next question?

        • Joe

          And we’ve all seen the same number of gods with our own eyes: Zero.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Then explain how that *same* *evidence*, and not merely a will to believe, leads you to your preferred deity.

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      Yet another apologist trying to pretend we are stuck in a perpetual rear-view perspective. Thankfulky this isn’t the case; we humans have profound predictive capabilities.

      In that vein, what successful predictions has religion made? And what tests did it help formulate?

    • Michael Neville

      First you need to define “moral” and “absolutes” and show a connection between those two ideas. Then you have to show that “moral absolutes” are possible anywhere besides that abstract, i.e., they exist in the real world.

      • WCB

        A popular apologetic is the claim of God’s simplicity. God’s substance and God’s essences are one and the same. Side stepping questions of where God’s omniscience, omnipotence, goodness et al came from and how they came to be combined in God’s substance. God then is the basic foundation of al that exists and nothing is needed to account for God. Thus God is the source of all, and is thus an absolute, accounting for all absolutes such as morality. There is no meta-ethical morality outside of God ad beyond god that limits God. Most theists parrot the line that God is the foundation of absolute morality, without realizing where this all comes from. God’s simplicity is found in for example, Augustine’s On The Trinity and The City Of God.

        Of course, the Bible claims God is also merciful, compassionate, just, fair and other moral superlatives. Which seems to be untrue if we look at tales of God’s committing atrocities, ordering massacres and genocides, and failure to act such as in the case of say, the Holocaust. If God is merciful, compassionate, just and fair, these qualities must be necessary and God must act on these necessary attributes, which are supposedly all one and the same. which calls the whole simplicity of God claim into question, and makes the claims of moral absolutes coming from God questionable also.

        Many theologians claim God does not owe us any moral obligations and God is not a moral agent. Special pleading that vitiates the whole claim about God being a foundation of moral absolutes.

      • JustAnotherAtheist2

        Very well said. Asking theists for clarity in their terms is a great way to expose flaws…. or a great way to end the conversation when they leave in a huff.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          nothing makes a theist more uncomfortable than being made to define terms, so much of apologetics relies on equivocation or subtle word play.

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Yes, if I had a nickle for every time a theists dodged a request for clarity on “begin to exist, I’d be doing pretty well for myself. Even more so if I got bonus comp whenever the question was deemed sophistry or a diversion.

        • Kit Hadley-Day

          for a group that claims they stand in for the ultimate source of all knowledge and wisdom in the universe they sure hate clarifying anything

        • JustAnotherAtheist2

          Lol!

    • Joe

      If we have the same evidence, a “moral absolute” would be quite easy to identify.

      • Paul

        Not if you have a different worldview.

        • Joe

          Facts are independent of world view.

        • epeeist

          Facts are independent of world view.

          You have to be careful here in that facts are mutable. For a long time it was accepted fact that diseases were caused by “humours” or “miasms”. This we now know to be false.

          However, the OP’s thesis fails on self-reference, if it is the case that everything is seen through a world-view then the statement “everything is seen through a world-view” must be seen through a world-view. So what world-view would that be?

          The hypocrisy tend to kick in when he makes strong requirements of those who are not religionists but gives religion a free pass.

        • Paul

          That’s what I’ve been saying. Facts are objective and they are the same for everyone. But what you make of the evidence is based on your worldview.

        • Joe

          Then the same applies to you, and we can’t then know anything true.

  • Kuno

    To someone who says, “There are no absolutes,” the Christian could point out that that sentence gives no exceptions and so claims to be an absolute. It defeats itself.

    If only someone would have pointed that out to George Lucas…

    https://memegenerator.net/img/instances/63798546/only-a-sith-deals-in-absolutes.jpg

    • A lot of people noted it later.

  • Lex Lata

    Yeah, Koukl’s examples are just semantic legerdemain, and contain more than the recommended daily allowance of straw. Maybe useful for scoring imaginary points in theists’ heads, but not a real engagement with the genuine issues.

    “There are no absolutes.” “There is no truth.” “The Bible must be flawed because people make mistakes.” “Only science gives reliable truth.”

    What credible heathen has actually asserted these things? At best, these are simplistic caricatures of serious positions, more along these lines–

    “Scripture provides poor and inconsistent evidence for the existence of transcendent moral absolutes.”

    “There’s as much corroborating support for the truth of the Bible’s miracle narratives as there is for the wonders in the Iliad and the Odyssey, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and other works of antiquity.”

    “Science is a more reliable method for understanding the natural world and universe than tales transcribed during humanity’s credulous adolescence by unknown authors who believed that plants predated the sun.”

    Etc.

    • Well said. If he weren’t quite as confident, I wouldn’t find this argument so annoying, but the more arrogant he is, the longer and more satisfying the fall.

      Perhaps this is another example of me misunderstanding the audience. A Christian eager for a pat on the head might lap this up.

      • Kit Hadley-Day

        all apologetics are good for is giving intellectual cover to believers, I have yet to see one that can even vaguely hold up under the scrutiny of someone that does not already accept the ‘God’ premise

  • WCB

    The problem of reification. Treating a hypothetical as a fact. Thus we have the concept of a the existence of a supernatural realm. There is no evidence of such a thing, no proof of supernaturalism’s existence. But it is used as a foundation, gap to stuff God into, which is treated as real, even if it is not actually real.

    Theology is shot full of reifications. God is transcendent. We treat claims about God as true, even if there is no evidence for such claims and often there is strong evidence against such things. Omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence and more. A priori claims which are made, taken as true, and then dodging the issue of proof and evidence, or in this case, the lack there of. Now its a game of deflection, of Plantingian defenses, shifting te burden or proof, and at last resort, God is incomprehensible, utterly beyond human understanding and therefor not disprovable. Playing these sorts of theologian’s apology games.

    • Greg G.

      The MGB Ontological Argument does that by starting with “It is possible that a Maximally Great Being exists in some possible world.” Step 2 is “Since it is possible that it exists in some possible world, it must exist in all possible worlds.”

      That is reifying the possibility. In the first statement, it is merely saying we do not know that it is impossible for a MGB to exist but in the next, and all following steps, “possible” suddenly means “actually possible”.

      But the argument works as a refutation of an MGB. In the final step, it can be refuted by the Problem of Unnecessary Suffering which means it cannot exist in this possible world, which implies it cannot exist in all possible worlds, which implies that doesn’t exist in any possible world.

      • WCB

        We can abstract this sort of argument out thusly:

        If X is possible in some world, X is possible in all possible worlds
        If X is possible in all possible worlds, X is possible in this actual world.
        X exists in the actual world.

        It’s baloney when you lay it out. X is meant by Plantinga to mean God. But could be many Gods, or a natural world without Gods.
        It is all a matter of presentation, of rhetoric. Or sophistry if you like.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontological_argument#Alvin_Plantinga

        • Michael Neville

          Plantinga is arguing for a possible deist god. He goes from there to insisting that he means his favorite god, which is special pleading. Why anyone takes Alvin Plantinga seriously when he does his Christian apologetics is a mystery.

      • Damian Byrne

        Oh don’t get me started on the MOA. Always ask them, BEFORE they make the argument proper, just what an MGB is. After all, it’s not an everyday term, it’s not something most people already know. One jackass I debated on it did me the favour of explaining what it is. It’s the Maximally Great Being, and in his preamble BEFORE his argument, he explains that the MGB CANNOT FAIL to exist. In other words, the very thing he’s trying to prove, he builds into it by sheer definition. A rigged result.
        So always get that explanation out of them. Ask what what an MGB is, or get them to agree on what “possible” means, get them to agree that “possible” can return either a “true” or “not true” result, just like anything else we might wonder about (Is it true Donald Trump is the current President of the USA?).

        • Joe

          the MGB CANNOT FAIL to exist.

          There must be an infinite number of MGB’s popping into existence every second, in that case. Because who is to say more than one can’t exist at the same time?

        • Greg G.

          I think they try to imbed it in the definition that the MGB must be singular, as two would be identical and indistinguishable. But that form of deism rules out trinitarianism, I think.

        • Joe

          Of course, that assumes they are constrained by logic, in which case are they maximally great?

          Or, there could be any number of beings with the exact same maximum level of greatness.

    • I Came To Bring The Paine

      My tactic would be to use the exact same arguments as they do but replace “God” with “Superman”.

      • Michael Neville

        Superman is obviously a myth because no real person would wear their underwear on the outside!

        • epicurus

          I did when I was 3, I was trying to be superman. I walked over to the neighbors down the road who got a good laugh out of it. Somehow flight and other powers eluded me, despite the carefully placed underwear.

        • Greg G.

          Tying a towel around my neck and jumping from the porch railing didn’t get the elevation I expected either.

        • I Came To Bring The Paine

          He only metaphorically wears his underwear on the outside. 🙂

    • Joe

      Every supernatural claim I’ve heard comes from exiting theological beliefs, cultural beliefs and/or fiction.

      There is no mention of gods before mankind started telling stories. Certainty there is no evidence of worship prior to a certain point in human evolution.

  • You’re right, in most cases these claims can just be reformulated into a logically consistent form. Though some views are self-refuting, I am suspicious generally of these claims because they are mostly “gotchas” with no substance.

  • Grimlock

    To someone who says, “There are no absolutes,” the Christian could point out that that sentence gives no exceptions and so claims to be an absolute. It defeats itself. Or to “There is no truth,” the Christian shows that the sentence claims to be true, thus defeating the claim.

    What’s up with this? I’ve several times seen Christians who are convinced that atheists don’t believe that there is such a thing as truth. I can’t recall seeing an atheist claim that. Is this one of those relativism things, where atheist = relativist in all things?

    • JustAnotherAtheist2

      Pretty much, with a side order of pressupposing that god is necessary for their platonic “truth” to exist. When you insert god by definition, of course atheists won’t believe it. The trick is to then equivocate so it sounds like atheists don’t accept the godless usage, either

    • Joe

      I just replied to a poster on Facebook who claims there can;t be truth in a Naturalistic worldview.

      I am baffled about that because something natural can’t help but be “true”.

      • eric

        I think in some cases the theists confuse knowledge with fact, or truth with certainty. (Most) atheists may think there is an objective reality, but our knowledge or certainty about our knowing is never absolute. IOW, we can always be wrong about what that truth is. The theist sees this as a flaw. But as you say, it is not the same as philosophical relativism; “there is a truth, but I can never be absolutely certain what it is” is quite different from “there is no truth.” And both are far more humble and reasonable than “there is a truth, I absolutely know what it is, and any time reality looks different, it is reality that must be wrong.”

      • Chuck Johnson

        I am baffled about that because something natural can’t help but be “true”.

        The natural things are true because they are perfect representations of themselves.
        It’s the human understandings and perceptions about natural things which are scrutinized as to being true, false, or partly true and partly false.

        No human understanding is complete and perfect.

        A good definition of truth would be: “Truth is those stories which best explain the available evidence”.
        This takes into account the fact that perceived truth changes as the available evidence changes.

    • Doubting Thomas

      When I’ve seen them do it, they don’t say that atheists don’t believe in truth, they say atheists don’t believe in Truth. For some reason Christians think capitalizing words make them mean something different.

      But what the atheist is usually saying is something like “we can’t be absolutely certain about anything because of the limitations of our senses.” This is, of course, true, even for religious people A few months ago there was a Christian on here that said he got around this problem because god revealed to him that what he believed was true. It was, for me, a novel new way to fail at reasoning that I hadn’t heard before.

  • Joe

    “The Bible must be flawed because people make mistakes,”

    I’d say it is flawed because it contains some easily verifiable mistakes.

  • JBSchmidt

    In a book for Christians about handling apologetics, there is nothing wrong with including a chapter teaching a Christian to be aware of self refuting statements. Not only when listening, but also when speaking (in fact, he has given examples of Christians making self refuting arguments). The chapter is less about actually proposing one hit wonders to astound your atheist friends, but rather equipping Christians with an understanding of logic.

    You are again manipulating the words of a writer, to attack on grounds that were not written about, in order to insinuate ignorance.

    • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

      Nope.

      We’re accusing the apologists of setting up strawmen for the express purpose of knocking them back down.

    • You are again manipulating the words of a writer,

      1. “Again”? When did I do it before?

      2. When did I do it this time? Show me where I mischaracterized Koukl’s words/meaning.

      • JBSchmidt

        2) I thought I was fairly clear. You took a chapter written for Christians to understand logical fallacy, plucked quotes out of context and created an argument that Kouhl never intended that portion of his work to have. You twisted something out of the text that context shows was not the authors intent. If you wish to challenge that he uses those specific statements incorrectly, go for it. However, in fairness to the author you should be pulling them from texts in which his purpose was to use those statements to challenge your beliefs. As proof that your context is wrong, I included that he has used the format to challenge Christians in their use of the same logical fallacy, not challenge Christian beliefs as you are incorrectly asserting.

        1) I pointed them out in a previous thread. Not sure why I need to keep repeating myself.

        • 2) Nope. I was careful to present Koukl’s argument fairly. If you’re saying there’s a subtle point that I got wrong, sure, that’s possible. But if you think I misquoted him in a significant way, I need quotes.

          I hope you noticed this: “If the point were that clarity matters and that we should be careful how we construct arguments, that’s valid.”

          1) I’ve seen zero instances of my misquoting a Christian author, including this one. If it’s a hassle to provide evidence, then I’ve still seen evidence for zero instances.

        • JBSchmidt

          Here let me quote you, “I misquoted him in a significant way”. Now I will build an argument around that proving you are a liar. Is that fair or do you deserve the context of the rest? Seems dishonest to hide behind quotation marks when you are using them disingenuously.

          “I hope you noticed this”

          Sure did and it is irrelevant because you are assuming an intent not stated by the author. Since he has used the same attempts to teach logic using what Christians have said; your assertion that it is a trick falls flat.

        • If there’s an argument in there, I can’t see it. In simple English, show what I said and how that doesn’t match what Koukl said.

          If you’re correct, I need to fix this post. If you’re not, that’s slander.

        • Greg G.

          Here let me quote you, “I misquoted him in a significant way”.

          That is called “quotemining.” When you remove a piece of text from its source, it might seem to say something it does not mean at all in context. There are many Bible verses that say, “there is no god.” The text says things like “There is no god besides me” or “the fool says in his heart, ‘there is no god.'”

          A quote taken out of context that retains the meaning it had in context is just a quote.

          If you are trying to make the point that Bob quotemined Koukl, then show that what Bob quoted has a different meaning in context than it does in Bob’s article. It would be as simple as supplying the context so that the quote can be seen to have a different meaning.

          But since you didn’t do that in the first place, your claim is empty.

  • Chuck Johnson

    Contradictory sentence:
    “I will not respond to that.” Uh . . . you just did.

    Not really.
    The content of the original remark (the “that”) was not responded to.
    So it’s not all that contradictory.

  • Chuck Johnson

    “Nobody goes there anymore; it’s too crowded” (Yogi Berra). The place can’t be both empty and crowded.

    When Yogi said that, he apparently meant that nobody that he knows of goes there.
    The place is (seemingly) empty of people that he knows but crowded with people that he doesn’t know.

    Yogi had a habit of leaving out part of his logical explanation.
    This often had humorous results.

  • Chuck Johnson

    Or to “There is no truth,” the Christian shows that the sentence claims to be true, thus defeating the claim.

    To make this non-self-refuting we must add some word definition.
    “There is no perfect, absolute truth.” is non-self-refuting.

    Sometimes people mean this definition of truth.