Inspired by actual events

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Hi Glenn!

Sitting here at my keyboard, in isolation from the rest of the world, I have come up with the ultimate argument against all religious belief – especially Christian belief. I have not consulted history to see if anyone has addressed this question before. I have not read any contemporary literature on the subject to see if anyone is currently addressing the issue. I have not spent even two minutes wondering how somebody might respond to it. Not that I really want there to be a response to it, but that’s not the point.

The first step in the argument is OMG. These people actually believe in a sky daddy (yes, they believe he is a man and that he also lives in the sky). How childish and stupid.

The second step in the argument is also OMG. They also believe in zombies. They say Jesus rose from the dead! That’s exactly like a zombie. Now I know, it’s not like any of the zombies in movies or books about zombies, because zombies in movies in books aren’t actually alive, they’re just reanimated. And they’re decaying and stuff, and they eat brains and a bunch of other stuff that makes them nothing like a resurrected person. But here’s the thing: It’s a lot funnier if I describe Christian belief as belief in zombies. And any attempt to take away my fun is just superstition and rationalising. The point is, I use the word zombie to refer to a person whom God has raised from the dead. So Christians believe in “zombies.” Haha! They believe in zombies!

The third step in the argument is EW. Christianity is bad. Christianity has tortured, raped and and butchered more people in the world than anything else. Anything. And if atheist people and movements, when they arose in large numbers, caused disproportionately more suffering per capita by a factor of tens of thousands, that just proves that they were really following some sort of religion. And if someone challenges me on the facts of what I say about what Christianity has done, although I technically haven’t “studied” the historical facts in any sort of detail, it’s obvious that any such challenges are a defence of torture and killing in God’s name. All this blather about studying history is a way of putting up a smokescreen. The fact is, millions and millions of Christians killed, maimed and tortured because they thought their sky daddy told them to (and did I mention that they believe in zombies).

And then there’s the Bible. OMG LOL the Bible. Talking snakes! And… talking snakes! And there’s utter carnage and slaughter on every page. Their god virtually drinks the blood of his enemies and encourages men women and babies to strangle their enemies with their own guts and butcher entire civilizations without so much as batting an eyelid. Now I know, those brainwashed fundies reply, talking about “genre,” and about being willing to “read ancient documents in their literary and historical context,” and “learn to pick up on clues in the text itself that a certain passage is deliberate hyperbole,” and they even tell me that I’ve misreported what the bible says at times. But whatever! As if I need to invest time and study in learning about fairy tales! I don’t need to study that nonsense to know that it’s nonsense. I know what it all means because… if it didn’t mean this then I couldn’t sneer like this. I know exactly what’s right and wrong, and unless the Bible says that everything I believe about morality is true, then it’s a sexist, homophobic, gharish monstrosity of evil.

Speaking of ethics, all sorts of people claim to know the right thing to do based on what their god says. Even people who blow themselves up and kill people believe that. Therefore if you believe that morality is based on what god says, you believe in suicide bombing. And you also believe in relativism, since “god” justifies all sorts of relatively different practices, and since they aren’t all objectively the same, you have to believe that morality is relative and not objective. I believe in a secular basis of morality. Sure, some people who don’t believe in any gods also end up doing awful things, but you can’t attribute that to me. Not every atheist is the same you know. We all believe that there are objective moral facts, it’s just that I believe the facts are different from what some other atheists believe. That’s not what relativism is. Learn what relativism really is! And don’t talk to me about being ignorant of how all these issues are addressed in “the literature.” That’s bluffing. I know a good argument when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now.

And speaking of morality again, ugh, those Christians when it comes to abortion. Those pro-lifers are so scientifically illiterate and deliberate liars. Everyone knows that the embryo is part of the mother’s body and so it’s a choice for the woman to do what she likes with her body. Nobody should tell another person what to do, so I’m telling those pro-lifers to shut up and stay out of it. They’re entitled to think that abortion is unjustifiable homicide, but believing that something is unjustifiable homicide is no reason to try to have the law changed to stop people doing it! You’re just a bunch of men trying to control women. Apart from those of you who are women. And forget the male celebs who support us. And why SHOULD she force me to be a father just because I wanted a little action? Control freak…

And last but not least, I conclude my powerful and unanswerable argument by noting that since the rate of child abuse within the Catholic church by clergy is about the same as the rate of child abuse among the public, there’s almost certainly no God and you all support child abuse if you point out any statistical information to me. Any. At all. Ever.

I came up with this argument and therefore it’s awesome and there is no answer to it. You believe crazy stuff and LOL @ your religion. Who am I? I’m the online skeptic who visits your blog and wastes you with my awesome logic.

[new person]

And I am also a sceptic who does not know the above person, but who wants you to know that sometimes Christians’ computers incorrectly show the people having the same IP address when they don’t really. Trust me. I just want to say that the above poster is right. I was blown away by the power of his logic. You Christians believe in sky daddies and zombies and slasher gods and you support suicide bombing and harrassing innocent women and abusing babies. LOL at you.

[new person]

Yeah, that IP address issue is common that’s true. And poster #1 is so right. Amazing argument dude. I’m looking forward to seeing how the Christians will try to back paddle now! It will be very telling if they don’t get back to you.

====

Yes. Inspired by actual events.

EDIT: I should have added, feel free to add you own examples, but only if they are based on actual encounters.

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{ 60 comments… add one }
  • Jonathan February 2, 2011, 11:10 pm

    Simply fabulous!

  • Madeleine February 2, 2011, 11:31 pm

    I love it! Some of the lines are hysterical! I particularly loved:

    “As if I need to invest time and study in learning about fairy tales! I don’t need to study that nonsense to know that it’s nonsense. I know what it all means because… if it didn’t mean this then I couldn’t sneer like this. I know exactly what’s right and wrong, and unless the Bible says that everything I believe about morality is true, then it’s a sexist, homophobic, gharish monstrosity of evil.”

    “Nobody should tell another person what to do, so I’m telling those pro-lifers to shut up and stay out of it. They’re entitled to think that abortion is unjustifiable homicide, but believing that something is unjustifiable homicide is no reason to try to have the law changed to stop people doing it! You’re just a bunch of men trying to control women. Apart from those of you who are women. And forget the male celebs who support us.”

    I lurved the new person comments – I so loved them! That particular issue is really peeving me off right now on my own blog.

  • ropata February 2, 2011, 11:44 pm

    PS:
    How dare you ask me to defend my assertions with ‘evidence’ or ‘links’. WTF is goggle for anyway? I made the assertion, it’s up to YOU to prove me wrong.

    PPS:
    Here’s a funny youtube video that explains why all Xtians are a bunch of idiots, its got cartoons and everything!!11!!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vM5n8jESUEk

  • Matt February 3, 2011, 12:16 am

    Glenn, there simply is no intellectual case for Christianity beyond claiming fairies exist. Of course I have never examined the intellectual case for Christianity, but thats because there is no point in examining the case for something which consists of no more than claiming fairies exist. This is no circular reasoning btw, you are just rationalising your position using clever sounding arguments.

  • Tom Gilson February 3, 2011, 2:58 am

    Youtube is a great source for these inspiring actual events: There’s a logical disproof of God, which is amazing for its simultaneous mix of philosophical acumen and ignorance; and this set of “complete disproofs” of God, which ends its first segment, “If God is only good and not something else, then God cannot also be omnipresent.” That’s logical enough, I suppose. Acumen and ignorance again.

  • Odgie February 3, 2011, 5:16 am

    Followed the link here from Tom Gilson’s site. This gave me a genuine LOL moment. You are now in my reader.

  • Steve K February 3, 2011, 5:21 am

    “I can’t believe how confident I am in my assertions. See this link? *Link to rant* – Someone else on the Internet agrees with me. My confidence is really high because I’m so smart and objective, I transcend any cultural influence / zeitgeist. Speaking of Zeitgeist, have you seen the movie? No God and Americans planned 9/11. Baseless assertions are powerful arguments. At least, for me. And I’m moral because I observe moral behavior. (I didn’t just use moral as an equivalent term to “good”). Take care OMGZombieLOLS.

    (This article is hilarious, btw).

  • Colin February 3, 2011, 7:51 am

    Mockery is solid logic don’t you know. Even Richard D knows that.

  • Colin February 3, 2011, 7:52 am

    Matt, maybe you could devote an issue of Fallacy Friday to trying to pick holes in this apparently water-tight argument?

  • dignan February 3, 2011, 9:02 am

    I guess I will be the first to present an alternative view, even though the blogger did not solicit one.

    I know that there are a lot of Christians who “check their brains in at the door” and thus make easy targets for such an attack on themselves. It was Ghandi who said “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Yes, a lot of bad has been done and is being done “in the name of Christ”. Let me first off apologize on behalf of the Christians out there who do not uphold the very teachings they proclaim, myself included at times.

    I find it harsh to proclaim that anyone that believes in God, or a “sky daddy”, is “childish and stupid”. Surely you don’t claim to know all that there is to know in the universe. Let’s just say that of all there is to know, you comprehend 10%. That’s all the knowledge in all the books in all libraries in all the world. Languages, math, science, chemistry, physics, quantum physics. 10% is generous would you agree? So of that 90% that you do not know; is it possible that there is a “sky daddy?” I submit that it is at least possible. So when you say that those who are investigating the possibility of a God in the universe are “childish and stupid”; you are basically stating that you are a god who knows all there is to know and that those investigations are futile.

    Your analogy of Jesus being likened to a zombie is not a fair comparison. Yes, you clarified that it is not the same as the “Hollywood depicted zombie” but if that is the case, what kind of zombie is left? A zombie is defined as a soulless corpse said to be revived by witchcraft, which is not how the Bible depicts Jesus raising from the dead. I know it is your definition, but let’s stick with how most of the world defines things. Humorous, maybe, but strong argument it is not.

    Now about your argument of “EW”. Is Christianity itself bad, or is it the people that make up Christianity? This argument is used frequently to say that “Christians are evil” and “Why would I want to be a part of that group?” It is easy to point out how bad someone else is in order to make oneself feel better. The problem is, as humans we are all capable of such evil regardless of whether we wear the Christian banner or not. To be fair and balanced in your argument, let’s not forget Lenin, Stalin (3 million executed on record, estimates of up to 60 million under his regime), Hitler (30-45 million), Mao Zedong’s regime (40-70 million deaths attributed), Mussolini. The point here is to show that as humans we are capable of terrible acts of evil, thus the need for God. We will destroy ourselves if allowed. I encourage you to actually research this more before posting one-sided statements. Be open to both sides, and try to view the world through a different lens.

    Regarding the Bible, with its “carnage and slaughter on every page”. Really? How can you make that statement if you haven’t actually read “every” page? How can you argue against a book that you haven’t actually picked up to read in full? Yes, I understand you don’t want to “invest time and study in learning about fairy tales” but it is childish to make comments on things you know nothing of. It is important to know the facts before making arguments/statements about said facts. But hey, people under the Christian banner do the same when arguing about evolution and how it was “impossible to have evolved from apes” when the fact posed is “that we share the same ancestry as apes not direct descendents of apes”, is that right? Yes, there are some stories in there that seem impossible to believe, “talking snakes”, a man living in the belly of a great fish, people walking on water, etc. But Hollywood comes out with garbage all the time and I bet that doesn’t stop you from going to watch the “zombie” movies. You probably don’t believe in zombies, vampires, and werewolves, but are willing to check out those kinds of books or movies. Why? You state that you “know what’s right and wrong” yet are also obviously concerned just for yourself when you say you want to “get a little action”. I guess that girl/guy means nothing to you and it is okay to treat them like scum in your world of right and wrong. I’m not trying to say I am better than you, I’m just hoping to get you to think about your statements. Let’s reason these things out.

    As you moved into ethics I had a hard time wading through the argument. I will probably come off as an elitist with this statement and endure the firing squad, but I don’t believe that everyone’s view of God is the right one. Yours, for example, in my opinion is not correct. You are an atheist who describes God as one that “drinks the blood of his enemies and encourages men and women to strangle their enemies with their own guts and butcher entire civilizations without so much as batting an eyelid”. This is your worldview of God. I must say that if it were the only picture of God in my life, I would consider myself an atheist too. We must challenge those who make choices “in the name of God” to see if indeed God instructed them to do so in the context of His morals displayed in the Bible. I am reading a book that tells the true story of two men who committed an atrocious murder of a mother and her baby girl “in the name of God”. They believe God instructed them to do this, and I have to ask myself “Does the Bible support this type of action today?” Morality is set within each one of us, because God has placed it there. We use the Bible partly as a map to wade through this life. So, no, I don’t believe that God commands “suicide bombings” or believe that God justifies all sorts of relatively different practices. God is absolute and his law fits every genre, culture, or society. My advice is don’t let a rotten apple spoil the whole bunch. It seems we would probably agree on the same objective facts regarding common morals, but attribute the source of those morals to different origins.

    I wish I had it in me to speak toward the abortion issue. To be honest I have not researched it enough to officially form a view/stance on the issue. It would take more time for me to do that, which I am out of at the moment. One thing I did note is that you stated earlier, “Not every atheist is the same you know”, implying that you aren’t like those other atheists that do evil things. Well I wish you would hold that same view towards Christians on the topic of abortion. Not every Christian is out blowing up abortion clinics. Your choice of words like “those Christians” and “those pro-lifers” are blanket statements that you are in opposition to if the tables were turned. To say that all Christians view abortion as “unjustifiable homicide” is a naïve statement.

    But there is another naïve comment you made. You say there is no God because of the “rate of child abuse in the catholic church by clergy being the same as the rate of child abuse among the public”. I’m not sure how to address that, really. Again, another blanket statement follows “you support child abuse if you point out any statistical information to me” or, in other words, if you try to defend this statement.

    I sense a narcissistic attitude on your confidence of this argument.

    Please consider what was written above. I welcome your feedback, not your insults.

  • Damian February 3, 2011, 10:30 am

    Dignan, I hate to break it to you but what you read above was actually written by a fellow Christian in frustration regarding a recent encounter with non-Christians on another blog. It’s a bit of a caricature but sums up nicely the level of many of the arguments that were produced. Although, to be fair, the arguments were in response to a pretty narrow-minded OP.

    That said, yours has been the most reasonable and productive response I’ve seen amongst the vitriol that has been produced on this topic. You’ve just raised the level of conversation on Beretta and MandM. Although I don’t personally agree with many of your points you’ve made them in a way that people can at least engage with.

  • Glenn February 3, 2011, 10:58 am

    Damian, nice attempt at “divide and conquer”!

    Dignan, this blog post is a parody of the many bizarre arguments that I have seen at this blog and elsewhere by confident visitors who think that this sort of approach really is a great way to humiliate and “defeat” Christians online.

    It’s nice to see that you see through it too!

  • Glenn February 3, 2011, 11:38 am

    Here’s the way I see it: When it comes to the silly comments that people make about sky daddy, zombies, relativism etc as detailed in the OP (all of which are comments that have been made here or elsewhere on multiple occasions), these remarks are common and yet they involve absolutely no effort, honesty or intellectual integrity. They are not the kind of thing that people should sit down and write a lengthy or careful response to. Such a response is not needed or warranted.

    If someone campaigned in politics by hurling dog poo, you wouldn’t respond with a detailed explanation of where that tactic goes wrong. And if someone did so, a member of the dog poo flinging party who disapproved of the throwing would not actually be saying anything profound by saying to the person who did so: “Good show good show, your respectable reply certainly separates you from the other people in your party who just derided the poo flingers. You’ve raised the tone of the discussion, unlike your fellow party members.”

    In that situation it would be pretty clear what was going on: The carefully worded rebuttal of poo was never required to begin with. The respectable poo party member who didn’t fling poo, but who chastised those who didn’t respectfully engage the poo – while also praising the one who did – is not actually being neutral in the politicking. Anything but! To be honest I consider that approach to be rather passive agressive in nature: Presented as fair and detached, but in reality just another way of adding fuel to the fire.

  • Peter Byrom February 3, 2011, 1:12 pm

    “You Christians think that just because you can’t disprove God then he must exist! When will you guys ever learn to think logically? There is zero evidence for your God, and I don’t have to prove he doesn’t exist because any idiot knows you can’t prove a negative, and therefore God doesn’t exist!”

    “All these arguments have been refuted so many times. Look at the evidence, and no I’m not going to share my sources with you or explain why they fail!”

    “What kind of Medieval moron believes in absolute morals? Everybody knows morality is relative and subjective. There are no moral “oughts” in this universe. People who believe that kind of stuff always end up killing, indoctrinating and abusing other people, and those things are downright WRONG!”

    🙂

  • Brendan February 3, 2011, 3:44 pm

    I don’t know if anyone else has gotten this but I have “All religions are the same mythologies based off of aliens giving technology to ancient peoples from ____________ Culture.”

  • Mike Godfrey February 3, 2011, 11:21 pm

    Hello Glenn-I have nothing intelligent to add except OMG -great article!
    Incredulity covers a multitude and I mean I multitude of inconsistencies LMAO.
    Cheers,
    Mike Godfrey

  • Tim February 4, 2011, 12:08 am

    that must be what all those beasties are saying as they poke and pull hair in Grunewalds awesome painting of St Anthony…

    especially liked “lol @ your religion” and the whole Zombie thing… real classy

    lovely empty arguments, but they sure got somebody riled up

  • Harvey February 4, 2011, 5:03 am

    Strawman much?!!
    Putting together “typical comments”, as if they all appeared in a single post, especially by including patently stupid and intentionally pejorative statements which imply that the “poster” knows what he/she is talking about without needing to read and understand the Christian Bible may be amusing, but, it seems to me, adds nothing whatsoever to mutual respect or understanding among believers and non-believers. This would be especially ironic, inasmuch as several of the responders here have suggested that people sincerely interested in dialogue should be fair and open minded. Having said this, I must, in fairness, identify myself as an atheist, who has arrived at that understanding of the reality of his present existance after extensive study and debate, over a period of many years. Like most atheists (but certainly not all) I began as a member of a major Abrahamic religion (but not Christianity, born in this country and raised and educated here. English is my cradle language. Over the years, I have studied fiorst my birth religion, later msot of the other “majors”, several of the minors, and, eventually, come to the personal conclusion (belief, if you will) that no deity exists, let alone one that requires/deserves any attention on my part. Since I am fully comfortable at this point in my life (age 72) with the belief that when I die I will cease to exist or, at least, return to whatever state of existance I may have had before my conception, it appears that I do not have (or have as yet not discovered) a “God-shaped hole” in my heart or psyche. It aslo seems that I have not required guidelines or “laws” of behavior dictated by any scripture to have arrived at thoughtful and kind ways of dealing with my fellow human beings and other living things.
    Were it not for the fact that many of my Christian brethren have frequently found it necessary to remind me in public and in private that I am doomed to an eternity of horrible torture for having failed to hear and accept “the good news” of their (quite varying) chosen religious sects, I would be quite content to ignore them and continue to support their right to freedom OF religion, if only they would equally respect my freedom FROM religion. Unfortunately, this is becoming progressivley less the case (at least here in the USA) as my life has proceeded.

  • Jared February 4, 2011, 5:28 am

    You forgot to mention something about Hitler being a Christian. Also forgot to accuse Christians of being almost holocaust deniers.

  • Jared February 4, 2011, 5:30 am

    Oh, and Christianity is really just a rehashed Mithra legend.

  • Eric February 4, 2011, 5:35 am

    This is a good one:

    Science has taken us to the moon, and is the source of the very computer you’re using to communicate with right now, while religion has produced nothing of value. Hence, god does not exist.

    This is good, too (it’s related to Glenn’s step 3, but distinct):

    Religion has produced nothing but war and oppression. Hence, your religion is false. Oh, and you only believe that war-causing, oppressive religion because it all sounds so nice and fluffy, and you want to believe in fairy tales. (And they accuse *us* of cognitive dissonance?!)

    Here’s another:

    If you can’t produce physical evidence that your god exists, he doesn’t exist. And if you try to define him as immaterial, well that’s either arbitrary or the same as nonexistent. If you now try to show why it’s not arbitrary, or to draw all these fancy distinctions between the immaterial and the nonexistent, then you’re too caught up with pointless semantics. So either show me physical evidence for your immaterial being — which means show me physical evidence for your nonexistent being — or you’re irrational, deluded, etc.

    Here’s one more:

    If there were a successful argument for god’s existence, then someone would have published it by now and won a Nobel prize. But no one has yet won a Nobel prize for demonstrating the existence of god. Hence god does not exist.

    I can’t resist one last example:

    Bad and stupid people believe in god. You believe in god. So you give support to bad and stupid people. Why are they bad and stupid? Because they believe in god.

  • Jared February 4, 2011, 7:09 am

    And to prove any of the above points: some guy on YouTube said so.

  • Matt February 4, 2011, 9:18 am

    Harvey the problem is the above is not a straw man, I get people writing to me comments of the substance above, all the time.

    Moreover, your life story comments about study can be reciprocated, I was not brought up in a Christian home, at 14 I began reading on Islam, Marxism, Christianity and other religions as well as reading the bible, at 17 I joined a very liberal church, I then meet some Christian University students, I studied Philosophy as my under grad and post grad degrees, I have a doctorate in Theology, I have studied intensely much of the debate in the literature and I am convinced God does exist.

    During this time, I have constantly been denounced as “stupid” irrational, evil, sexist, homophobic, racist, and quite regularly get the kind of sneering cocky sarcastic comments of the sort Glenn write above written to me and about me from people so sure of there obvious intellectual superiority. Often from people with degrees in the sciences who by there own admission and comments show not the slightest familiarity with the history of theology, philosophy or the issues involved in these matters. Just visit RichardDawkins.com and look at the comments section to see precisely examples of this sort of thing.

    We can all tell these stories, the question is why the atheist community so often publishes stuff like this and then turns around and says “straw man” when others point it out. This seems at times to be a concerted passive aggressive strategy.

  • Geoff February 4, 2011, 10:11 am

    One has to admit that “Christians” are just as bad as anyone else, and usually worse. I once made a list of names, but I cant find it now, but it included such things as; spawn of satan, the devil, wife beater, rapist, pedophile, child beater, abuser, idiot, fool, clown, pervert, etc

    Whilst I might be an idiot/fool/clown – I am certainly not any of the others. I was quite surprised to find posts on a forum “Geoff is a rapist, he admitted it” – stuff like that.

  • Glenn February 4, 2011, 12:40 pm

    Harvey, I understand how convenient it would be to dismiss these examples as straw men, but they simply aren’t. Some of these comments were made here at this very blog.

    Secondly, while I have seen more than one of these comments made in the same post, I never claimed that they all occurred in one comment. You will note that the blog post is called “inspired by actual events.” Plural. It wasn’t inspired by one comment that contained all of this nonsense, but many comments which, when combined, contain all of this nonsense.

  • Glenn February 4, 2011, 1:12 pm

    I thought it might be a mixture of sad and amusing to Google around for some examples. Not hard to do!

    http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message1331672/pg1

    If you dont want people making fun of your beliefs, dont have stupid beliefs.

    You people believe in an invisible sky daddy and a jew zombie. Case closed.

    http://mashable.com/2009/12/15/1-in-6-cell-phone-toting-teens-have-participated-in-sexting-study/

    “Good sense”, I guess the invisible sky daddy zombie knows best. Doesn’t he? What the hell is wrong with nudity? Really?

    http://www.thegoodatheist.net/2010/10/14/well-said/
    “An invisible sky daddy didn’t save all those Chilean miners;”

    and

    They may have been relying on Jesus to help them but stupid religious sheep are reading it wrong. It’s more like Jèsus from Logistics. Not the fictional zombie.

    http://www.nunutv.com/whats-the-point-of-saying-the-god-always-existed-why-not-just-admit-you-dont-know-like-the-rest-of-us/

    I start off by telling them the following:
    What a crazy religion you practice.
    1) You believe in a magical sky-daddy
    2) You believe your sky-daddy has a zombie son and a ghost for a friend.
    3) You tell us your sky-daddy loves us all
    4) Your sky-daddy needs money – he really does
    5) Your sky-daddy loves us, but if we don’t kiss his a*s, he will burn us in eternal agony
    6) Your sky-daddy really loves us.
    After that, I take after them for the laughlines in the bible. Talking snakes. Talking donkeys. All the good stuff.
    They are delusional people, better left alone. I mean, do you provoke the monkeys when you go to a zoo? Same thing.

    http://www.beretta-online.com/wordpress/2009/relativism-or-human-rights/

    Once we bring our gods, etc., into justification of moral actions we open ourselves up to worst sort of moral relativism. And we ignore our won ability to use moral intuition and logic.

    http://openparachute.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/can-science-shape-human-values/

    To ignore objective facts and use “scriptural” or “divine” command arguments can only – at best reinforce intuitive reactions which can in some cases be very bad (eg racism, homophobia), or at worst lead to complete moral relativism where anything can be “justified” by one’s tame god, religious leader or ideological/political leader.

    http://religiouscrossroads.tribe.net/thread/74a03d91-57d8-4c08-9942-ebf57ab4ae9c

    If I claim that Invisible Death Spiders from Dimension X are telepathically controlling you, you don’t need a degree in ‘Invisible Death Spider’ studies in order to challenge the claim.

    There is no logical support for any god.

    http://www.asktheatheists.com/questions/1185-why-do-atheists-try-to-be-authorities-on/

    Richard Dawkins points out that to talk knowledgeably about fairies, one doesn’t need a degree in fairyology. No more does one need a degree in theology to criticise irrational beliefs. Read the Nicene Creed (if you can find the ‘correct’ version) or the derivation of The Trinity . See if you can do either without laughing or shaking your head in disbelief.

    http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/18832
    “Having a degree in a religion is like knowing all the lines to all the Star War Movies. It is a degree in BULLSHIT!”

    I don’t think anyone really doubts that I could do this for a while, so let’s just all agree that these are not straw men, OK?

  • Glenn February 4, 2011, 1:51 pm

    Geoff: It’s important to note a distinction:

    1) Being a jackass (which is what you appear to be talking about in relation to some Christians)

    2) Believing that you’ve made a great logical argument when you’ve actually just been a jackass or said something that’s far sillier than you could dare to imagine (which is what I’m referring to here)

  • david winter February 4, 2011, 2:34 pm

    Glenn,

    How long do you think it would make to make a list of Christians making the mistake of (2) on the internet?

    I don’t think the Dunning Kruger effect is limited to atheists…

  • Glenn February 4, 2011, 3:29 pm

    David, well, as long as you don’t simply count every very poor argument as a case of 2) (genuine cases of 2 being of similar quality to the cases I listed here), it would take quite a lot longer. What’s more the widespread pattern of the same crazy, derisive and poor thought out arguments is also at issue here.

    What I do find instructive is that there are some atheists who would look at each of these ridiculous arguments/comments and assume that they must be straw men, or that they couldn’t be all that common. They aren’t straw men, and they are common.

  • david winter February 4, 2011, 3:54 pm

    I really don’t think so. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been present Pascal’s Wager as if it was it was all anyone needed to hear, or told atheism was wrong because if there was not God there would be no morality and everyone would go around killing everyone, or (my very favourite) asked why there will still monkeys if we evolved from monkeys (or the modern equivalent, where does information come from, oh, not I’m going to define information, oh, in that experiment the information came from the people that designed the experiment, show me experimental evidence that wasn’t designed by a person then I’ll believe…)

    Usually, the people who are loudest in presenting their beliefs are the people that have spent the least time thinking about alternatives. It’s easy to yell when you’ve never considered the possibility you might be wrong.

  • Geoff February 4, 2011, 3:58 pm

    Glenn, true that..

    Although, when they do “2”, and you show how they were wrong, you end up with what I said 😛 I think its just human nature.. but in the words of the great theologian SCC:
    “You say it’s only natural for me to act that way, but I have not been made… only natural” 😛

  • Steve K February 4, 2011, 4:10 pm

    “Christians use the same dumb arguments and are as insulting as atheists.
    ERGO THERE IS NO GOD!”

  • Glenn February 4, 2011, 4:13 pm

    Steve, um….

  • Steve K February 4, 2011, 4:15 pm

    Sorry about that.

  • Matt February 4, 2011, 10:53 pm

    Glenn you forgot this gem from Richard Dawkins’ site, here’s how his readers critique Richard Swinburne:

    “Comment 1 by LucyFir
    Hooray for yet another pompous and long-winded essay that doesn’t provide proof of gods. Is it too much to ask for evidence of the existence of anything supernatural?

    Saturday, 16 December 2006 at 8:20 PM | #13203
    Comment 2 by Pilot22A
    At the end of the day Mr. Swinburne, you still believe in invisible supernatural beings and silly ancient fairy tales and Dawkins doesn’t.

    How do you account for that?

  • Glenn February 5, 2011, 12:25 am

    Well Matt, a certain parallel exists here between such comments and the end of John’s Gospel:

    “Trollish sceptics did say these things many other times in many other ways as well. If every one of those instances were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

  • Haecceitas February 5, 2011, 4:28 am

    The argument (while admittedly pretty devastating) fails to be the ultimate argument against Christian theism because it fails to mention that the sky-daddy that Christians believe in is a magical sky-daddy.

  • Harvey February 5, 2011, 5:54 am

    Matt:
    “We can all tell these stories, the question is why the atheist community so often publishes stuff like this and then turns around and says “straw man” when others point it out. This seems at times to be a concerted passive aggressive strategy.”

    Which “side” in these discussions of the existance or non-existance of the Abrahamic God is the more often guilty of ad hominem/pejorative/sneering/lack of any understanding of the arguments under discussion depends at least in part upon which side is “receiving”.
    I.E. If one is a Christian apologist, comments like those cited above will far outweigh those in support. Conversely, as I suggested, every one of these can be readily observed in reverse on atheist/agnostic websites. It seems fair to say that whereas atheists are frequently going through the emotional turmoil brought on by trying to “escape” from one’s birth religion (including alienation of family, friends, and the larger social network represented by many churches), the majority of believers (particularly so-called fundamentalists) are seeking the only affirmation of their faith that they can achieve in this life by trying to convince as many other folks as possible that they “have it right”. It seems to me that both camps in this discussion are decidedly “passive agressive”, albeit for different reasons. On the one hand, we non-believers are frequently approached, both publicly and privately, whether we are interested or not, and on a frequently aggressive basis, to “hear the good news” and accept Christ as our personal savior. On the other hand, most atheists (at least in my experience) have no particular brief on whether or not religionists choose to practise their particular faith, providing it is carried out in private or in other appropriate circumstances, such as a church or other event, wherein people can choose to ignore that observance. Imposing religious ideas on the public under circumstances in which people cannot “change the channel” or not attend (i.e. religious displays on public, tax supported properties/opening “prayers” at school or governmental activities/etc.) is, in my opinion, also passive agressive. It has been my repeated experience that many Christians, at least in the U.S., see an atheist’s
    objection to any of these public activities as “an attack on Christmas/the family or “persecution” and limitation of the believer’s freedom OF religion, rather than their own attempts to abrogate the non-believer’s freedom FROM religion.
    If these alledged representative posts do not fit “strawman”, they certainly seem to represent “tu qouque”.

  • Brandon February 5, 2011, 7:10 am

    “As a Christian, you cannot be an intellectual. It is simply impossible and illogical that a Christian intellectual exists. It just can’t be. The laws of the universe are against such a thing.”

    That’s according to a skeptic on youtube with whom I once had an encounter.

  • Glenn February 5, 2011, 11:32 am

    On the other hand, most atheists (at least in my experience) have no particular brief on whether or not religionists choose to practise their particular faith, providing it is carried out in private or in other appropriate circumstances, such as a church or other event, wherein people can choose to ignore that observance.

    It looks like you believe you have a right not to be exposed religious practices and beliefs.

    The thing is, freedom from religion in this sense is incompatible with free exercise. In spite of this, it’s remarkable how many people use the phrase “Freedom from religion,” expressing the view that there exists some right to be sheltered from beliefs they’d rather not encounter.

    Not in the free world there doesn’t.

  • Harvey February 5, 2011, 3:18 pm

    Glenn:

    Please understand that I do not suggest that either free speech or practise of religion should be limited, except to the extent that either of these are imposed upon others against their will. Free speech does not extend to yelling “Fire” in a crowded theater when there is no fire. Freedom of religion does not extend to imposing one’s particular version of religion on individuals who do not care to listen or agree with such “teaching”. This does not prevent believers from publishing their beliefs in the press, on TV or radio, on billboards, etc. In all of these instances the non-believer can choose to ignore the message, change the channel, not read the billboard, not attend the revival meeting. Freedom of speech and religion does not, however, support forcing anyone else to pay attention to you or be forced to take part in any of your observances against their will. If the free practise of your religion requires you to proselytize, even against the willingness of your chosen candidate for salvation, you must understand how this might limit his or her freedom FROM religion. Once again, at least in the U.S., our Constitution quite clearly protects us from such imposition of beliefs we do not share or agree with.

  • Glenn February 5, 2011, 3:45 pm

    OK Harvey, so freedom of religion is enough then, since it involves not being forced to belong to a religion. Freedom FROM religion is a linguistic trick to make it sound like freedom of religion implies much more. The turn of phrase need not have been invented. If you’ve got freedom of religion, then you’ve got enough. What more could you want? It’s better to keep things clear.

    [As you will know already, the constitutional ban on imposing religion applies to congress passing legislation, but for the sake of not picking irrelevant fights and going off on tangents I’m letting that slide, so let’s imagine that it applies to each and every citizen in some way, as you seem to think.]

    Nobody has the right to freedom from being exposed to things they don’t like in public. Instead of talking about religious people keeping their religion in private, let’s turn it around for the sake of accuracy: The public square is a place where people are free to express themselves (which, you have now said that you agree with, which is encouraging). If any particular atheists don’t like religion, then those atheists can go in private where they won’t be troubled by pluralism.

  • Harvey February 5, 2011, 4:15 pm

    Glenn:
    “Nobody has the right to freedom from being exposed to things they don’t like in public. Instead of talking about religious people keeping their religion in private, let’s turn it around for the sake of accuracy: The public square is a place where people are free to express themselves (which, you have now said that you agree with, which is encouraging). If any particular atheists don’t like religion, then those atheists can go in private where they won’t be troubled by pluralism.”

    I couldn’t disagree with your first sentence more completely. What about public nudity, for example? However, the “public square” once meant the grassy field in the center of town where communal cattle were grazing and people might give political speeches. Today it includes many government owned and tax supported venues (such as city halls or courtrooms) where no expression of a particular religion is appropriate. If a church fronts the public square, it has a right to any public expression it may choose (although the tax exempt status of most religious institutions impacts the taxes of all of us, forcing us to support it even if it isn’t “our” church, but I’ll let that slide, as well). It doesn’t have the right (or the need, in my opinion) to have a religious service on the steps of City Hall. I can choose to pass the church property by, but I cannot always avoid city hall in the conduct of my day to day life. Needles to say, I am only using these commonly understood examples of ways in which organized religion oversteps its proper place in many communities and, I might add, shows disrespect for and lack caring about the “rights” of those who do not happen to agree with it.

  • Glenn February 5, 2011, 4:30 pm

    Harvey, your nudity example absolutely misses the point here for two reasons. Firstly, it has nothing to do with my statement. I referred to being sheltered from things on the grounds that one doesn’t like, and bans on nudity have to do with decency, not with what people prefer to see or not see.

    Secondly, it misses the point because we both know the constitutional principle we’re referring to: Forbidding the action of government to impose a religion, or to stop people from freely exercising a religion. That’s all.

    No imposition, no prohibition. That’s the issue, and you’re introducing a third claim (actually a lot of people do it): No allowing people to be exposed to a religion in public when they don’t want to see it.

    Now, using government property to hold a religious service must be assessed based on whether or not it amounts to an establishment of religion. That’s it. Anyone who thinks it does amount to such is more than welcome to make their case. No problem. I realise how hugely convenient it would be to introduce the idea that those in public who don’t like religion ought to be shielded from it. That would certainly speak to the issue of having a religious service on the steps of city hall – the trouble is that it has nothing to do with the two principles int he constitution: Establishing a religion or prohibiting the free exercise of a religion.

    Freedom of religion (in terms of those two principles) is enough. Asking for freedom from religion has nothing to do with your rights. If anybody’s non religious outlook is fragile enough that they need a government mandated right to freedom from religious expression, then you need to ask why.

    So again: You have two principles to appeal to: If you think anything amounts to a government imposition of religion or a government suppression of the free exercise of religion, then you get to appeal to the right to freedom of religion.

    If those principles don’t protect you from something, then go to a private space where you don’t have to see it.

  • Matt February 6, 2011, 5:45 pm

    Harvey, you are welcome to show me where a best selling Christian apologist with an analogous repuation of Richard Dawkins, has a website where say top athiest philosophers of religion like Paul Draper, or Micheal Tooley, or William Rowe is dismissed the way Swiburne is above.

    I am familar with most of the work of the leading Christian apologists and I know of none that carries on the way Dawkins and his followers do.

  • Joey February 7, 2011, 8:30 pm

    God isn’t real because if he were, he would have given me what I prayed for!

  • Harvey February 8, 2011, 6:51 am

    Glenn:

    “Freedom of religion (in terms of those two principles) is enough. Asking for freedom from religion has nothing to do with your rights. If anybody’s non religious outlook is fragile enough that they need a government mandated right to freedom from religious expression, then you need to ask why.”

    So you choose to say. Freedom from religion certainly has everything to do with a person’s rights. If a government is forbidden to “establish” a religion, it is certainly enjoined not to “support” any religion, particularly when it may be the one of several that is most widely practised by its citizenry(i.e. Christianity, in this case). Allowing observances of a particular religion in public and on the premises of a tax-supported government owned site would clearly be construed as “support”.
    If anyone’s RELIGIOUS outlook is “fragile enough” that they must express it under inappropriate circumstances (i.e. wherein non-believers or memebrs of a different religious tradition cannot choose to avoid such expression, it woiuld seem that they are not as convinced that they “have it right” as they would have the rest of us believe.

  • Harvey February 8, 2011, 7:03 am

    Matt:

    How a blogger (or several such) may have chosen to “dis” a Christian apologist on an atheist blog is neither relevant to any actual dialogue, nor is it a surprise, given our propensities as imperfect human beings. Ad hominem arguments seldom, if ever, carry any intellectual weight. Moreover, although this is really in no way a defense of such behavior, atheists have no “authorities” or generally accepted “apologists”. Richard Dawkins’ writings and opinions regarding the existance of a deity happen to coincide largely with my own, but he in no wise “speaks for me”, nor would I refer to him as an authority in my discussions with believers. Since atheism has no “Scripture” and no doctrines, let alone any organized establishment like the various recognized religions, there is nothing to “defend”.

  • Glenn February 8, 2011, 7:52 am

    Harvey – the reference to fragility was about the way that some believe they are protected from worldviews that bother them when they frankly are not.

    You seem to be trying to tell me that in a society with freedom of religion, the government should not endorse one religion. This is by no means a deductive inference, but since you never tried to present the argument I suppose I can’t accuse you of failure. I’m no longer certain what your point is other than saying that you don’t agree with me. I am sure this is merely due to my slowness. No matter I suppose!

  • Josh March 4, 2011, 3:44 pm

    LOL. IF ONLY!
    I wish god and christianity were like this! THAT WOULD BE ASSUME! I wouldnt mind fighitng zombies or some bloodshed–thats why I love videogames.
    UInfortunatly that is not the christian god, nor is it anything like an \atheist logic!
    But hey, at least in some abstract since, you were able to see some of the absurdities of religion, and laugh at it.

  • Josh March 4, 2011, 3:45 pm

    awesome*

  • Glenn March 4, 2011, 4:51 pm

    “UInfortunatly that is not the christian god, nor is it anything like an \atheist logic!”

    Josh, I’m glad that you recognise that this is not the Christian God. However, if you think that this kind of attack on Christianity is not made by any atheists, then you might want to try using Google. 🙂

  • Glenn March 4, 2011, 4:57 pm

    I really don’t think so. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been present Pascal’s Wager as if it was it was all anyone needed to hear, or told atheism was wrong because if there was not God there would be no morality and everyone would go around killing everyone, or (my very favourite) asked why there will still monkeys if we evolved from monkeys

    See David, even if you think that Pascal’s wager (which does not aim to show that atheism is false) or the moral argument (which actually does not say that people would do more evil if they don’t believe in God) are unsound arguments, that does not put them on the same level as genuinely trollish arguments like “you may as well believe in fairies” or “Jesus is a zombie” or “you have a magical sky daddy.” So they’re not examples at all. Granted, the quip about monkeys is genuinely daft, but to be honest the only time that I have actually seen that example presented is when evolutionists (not necessarily atheists) present it as an example of how not to argue.

  • Christian March 13, 2011, 1:05 pm

    Something funny happened at school recently which reminded me to get around to making a post in this section.

    Some people insulted my favorite band, AILD because they were in his opinion a “silly christian metal band”. I simply told him this is no problem, because God does exist and the bible is trustworthy, and the fact that they hold the correct view on a highly controversial and incredibly important issue should be something to be celebrated. Next thing I new, I was up for a little “form-class debate”, me against him and about six of his friends.

    The next day, I came to school with the kalam cosmological argument up one sleeve, the argument from Fine-Tuning up the other, and the moral argument tucked into my sock for good measure. I gave the cosmological argument first, and this is what followed.

    In response to the Kalam Cosmological Argument: “Hey Christian, did you know some of the ancient pharaohs heads were a bit elongated? This proves that they were aliens! haha! What do you have to say to that? >:]”

    LOL!

  • Glenn March 13, 2011, 1:51 pm

    Well it’s true, Christian. He nailed you. 😉

  • Non-Christian July 29, 2011, 1:46 pm

    Well if the Egyptians weren’t aliens then we wouldn’t have the Stargate stories, would we? I mean, how long did the American government think it could hide this from the public?

    Anyway, all Christians are stupid and all atheists are smart, especially if they were once Christians. I mean, we all know that the IQ goes up the minute it is no longer suppressed by religion. It works in reverse, too. Any atheist that becomes a Christian immediately loses functioning brain cells. Aren’t there MRI studies to prove it?

    Of course, my ideas are identical to all internet skeptics, especially the American ones.
    /sarcasm

  • Andy Gray November 17, 2011, 1:17 pm

    Have you heard this before? This is the “Best Summary of Christianity Ever” by Mageth from the Internet Infidels, and recently posted on a facebook group discussing religion (see my website link).

    God himself created man and woman and placed them in a garden, in “his own image”, but got righteously angry at them when they ate, against his wish, and after being tempted by a talking serpent that god himself had somehow allowed to slither about in the garden, a tasty, beautiful fruit, though he himself had placed it there but neglected to instill in his creations the knowledge of good and evil so that they would know it was wrong to eat it. Being omniscient, of course, he knew all this before he started, but was apparently unable to do anything about it because he had planned it this way from the beginning, and apparently god cannot change anything he already knows, in spite of the fact that he’s omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent.

    Later, God himself impregnated a virgin so that he himself could be born a human, a ManGod. This was necessary, apparently, because only his own ManGod blood could appease himself and deliver humans, who he created, and who he knew would muck things up by eating the fruit, from his own righteous anger.

    Of course, he waited several thousand years to implement this divine plan, in the meantime taking the righteous action of drowning every creature on the planet except a few he could stuff on a boat. Not to mention handing down a Law that served to further condemn every one of us, and in which Law he himself had them frequently sacrifice animals to appease himself, though he knew the blood of animals didn’t really appease himself.

    Much later, god, in a garden, prayed to himself to “take this cup” away from himself, though he himself knew that he himself had planned the coming events from the beginning and knew that not even he himself could save himself, even though he was god and omnipotent, omniscient, etc. Accepting this, he said, in effect, “Not my will, but my will.”

    God then sacrificed himself to himself to save us from himself. (or had himself sacrificed; not much of a distinction between the two, really) Before dying, he himself asked he himself why he had forsaken himself.

    He himself, being dead, then raised himself from the dead less than 40 hours later, though he himself had said he’d be dead for three days and three nights, which he could do because he was still alive, and later he himself pulled himself up into heaven where he himself apparently already was, and where he himself is described as now sitting at the right hand of himself.

    He himself then sent himself (or a ghost of himself, if you please) back to earth to be a comfort to us, though he himself is still sitting at the right hand of himself.

    And, glory hallelujah, he himself promised that he himself will return someday, though he himself is already here, and will still be there, to snatch up those who believe the god blood sacrifice story he himself told us, and kill the rest of us who don’t believe the god blood sacrifice story, no matter how nice we were otherwise. But, since killing us isn’t enough to appease his righteousness, he himself will then judge us, though according to ManGod he himself will also not judge us, and being a god of love will cast most of us into hell for an eternity of suffering. He has to, of course, because he is a righteous, just god, and can’t figure out a way to save anyone who hasn’t been redeemed by god-blood, even though he is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent, and loves us all.

  • Glenn November 17, 2011, 9:56 pm

    Well Andy, that’s a summary of modalism, not orthodox Christianity.

    But the original author of that description doesn’t strike me as someone to let picky things like accuracy or having at least a modest understanding to he position one is criticising get in the way of a good laugh. But given its association with the infidels website… yeah, kinda makes sense.

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