Monday, March 10, 2008

Theistic arguments

In comments, The Celtic Chimp pretty well summarizes the arguments for belief in God.
God does want you to believe, he just doesn't want to give you any kind of testable evidence. After all, where would the fun be in that.

I don't doubt God cracks up every time he looks in on the creation museum. How could you not explode in laughter when look at a bunch of 'scientists' trying to convince themselves that humans and velociraptors cohabited peacefully as vegetarians. Those huge claws, and razor sharp teeth are perfect for eating grass and those powerful hind legs allow it to run at great speed; very handy for chasing down the faster species of tree.

And lets not forget, being a gullible dupe is the highest virtue. You should be more virtuous and believe what the guy in the fancy costume is telling you. Don't be cynical now. Just because he relies on you buying his fairytale to make a living he is really only calling you names like fallen and sinner for your own good. He has the magic formula that can prevent you from being eternally boiled in lava by the omnibenevolent, loving and forgiving God so you had better show that dude some respect. Honestly Larry, loads more people believe this than don't so you must be wrong. I mean when has the mob ever been wrong before???

You want evidence you say. Well I saw a statue move once and I had a kind of a dream about a snake. I think it was singing karaoke tunes....anyway that obviously means that God wants us to repent ours sins. Oh and that statue, I was staring at it without blinking for five hours and I can tell you it definitely moved at least a quarter of a centimeter. FACT. QED.

I don't know Larry, sometimes I think you just don't want to believe. All this evidence and still you don't fall to you knees to thank Jesus Christ, your personal savior for saving you from being punished by the all-merciful God for something you didn't do. Talk about ungrateful.

I will pray for you Larry, no need to thank me.
The Chimp has his tongue planted firmly in his cheek, but the truth is that theistic "arguments" are just this ridiculous. The only "sophistication" you'll ever see in these "arguments" is in throwing enough big words, vaguely-defined terms and circuitous pseudo-logical babble to hide the underlying stupidity. "I don't understand him, therefore he must be smarter than me."

Religious believers are in a terrible bind. (I'm not talking here about the deists, the mystics, the sloganeers and even the woo-woos, with whom I have other problems. I'm talking about the hundreds of millions of people actively supporting parasites and predators.) They've lived their lives in mortal fear, sacrificed pleasure, comfort and peace of mind, parted with substantial amount of money, and, in many cases not only allowed the clergy to rape their children but actually defended them. If you've sacrificed yourself, your money and your children, how could you ever admit that it's a lie, that you've been played for a fool? You can't. You'll swallow any lie, condone any atrocity, rather than admit you're an idiot.

I'm a lot luckier than I am smart: I was raised without any sort of indoctrination or brainwashing. I was indoctrinated only to be honest and caring. I'm not stupid, but I'm not that smart, but I don't bullshit and lie because I don't want to bullshit and lie to myself. I can't take credit for this honesty, though. I just happened not to have been raised to believe that some lie was the most important truth, so important that it should be protected against reason itself. Develop an antipathy to bullshitting yourself, and you'll almost automatically seem twice as smart, twice as courageous, and much better looking.

People such as my wife and DagoodS deserve the real admiration. They actually had to think their way out of their brainwashing, lose their community and lose or risk their families, all for the sake of the truth. That takes real brains and real courage, not just my own accident of a benign upbringing.

There's no one in Nigeria sitting on a million dollars that needs only your bank account to access. The Brooklyn Bridge is not for sale. And not a single one of your priests or prophets or the authors of your scripture knows anything more than you do about God (and you don't know fuck all): Anyone who says differently is trying to con you. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is, and what could sound more too-good-to-be-true than the promise of everlasting paradise (the bait) and the threat of everlasting punishment (the hook).

I'm sorry you've been played for a fool, but you have been. There's no easy or respectful way of saying it, but I'm really not trying to insult you; I'm trying to help you: I'm trying to shock you into taking that priest's hand out of your pocket, and out of your son or daughter's pants.

7 comments:

  1. The only "sophistication" you'll ever see in these "arguments" is in throwing enough big words, vaguely-defined terms and circuitous pseudo-logical babble

    I have been dealing with this form of religious argument a lot lately and I have come to find it by far the most irritating. Those using this style absolutely refuse to say anything specific. They won't even say that God exists! He exists apparently in way that is beyond our conception of existance and therefore cannot be said to exist. They seem obsessed with Idolatry, so much so that the mantra of the 'sophisticated' theist is 'God cannot be a member of any set'. If you actually go ahead and apply any characteristics to God then something or someone unworthy might share that characteristic, which by some impressive theistic (reasoning?) arrives at idolatry. This presents no problem what so ever when the Theist then wants to tell you what God thinks and feels. God is good (in way we can't understand of course) etc. They plow on in total hypocrisy. Any attempt to point this out is countered with frantic hand-waving, spell casting and linguistic gymnastics. They will tell you with a straight face that they know God is unknowable. It is hard to know what to do with that.
    The icing on the cake is the fact that it is all delivered in the guise of being intellectual superiour. We silly Atheists and our logic. We really should stop being so four dimensional and start opening our minds to transendant thought. Truth comes from revelation not investigation. Poor little Atheists and their misguided rationality. When will they learn?

    There is nothing more infuriating than some idiot who has just blatantly contradicted himself patronising you by patting you on the head for not having the sophistication to understand why it makes sense.

    It feels to me like trying to convince someone who is on fire that they are on fire. If the fire itself can't convince them, what can you possible say to change their mind?

    I tried to be patient with this stuff in the hopes that there might actually be some sense lurking under all the fopish language. I have so far been disappointed. I am stating to feel dirty even engaging it. It is like taking a big bite out of a dogshit sandwich and instead of spitting it out I start dicussing the flavour.

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  2. Saint Gasoline put it best: [paraphrase] "Well, I accept a contradiction as axiomatic, and anything follows from a contradiction, including YOU'RE WRONG."

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  3. You are too kind, Barefoot Bum. At least I live in a time where, thanks to the internet, we have far greater access to sources. We can learn of some book or article from about any side on any position and with a few clicks order an inter-library loan, or even buy it on amazon.com.

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  4. cc-

    now, now. dogshit only exists in such a way that you can't ever directly experience it. you can only talk about it as though you had experienced it, but didn't, as in 'this argument tastes like dogshit.' everyone knows what dogshit should taste like, but no one has ever actually directly tasted dogshit. if they had directly tasted dogshit, it wouldn't be dogshit anymore, it would be something that tasted like dogshit, but wasn't.

    everyone knows dogshit can't be a member of any set, except when it's mistaken for nihilistic horseshit.

    scott

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  5. You see, Scott, this is where a good philosophical and theological education would help avoid the charge of lack of subtlety directed at the non-theist community.

    You're painting with too broad a brush: There are some very subtle points I think you're ignoring. Are theistic arguments really dogshit? Why not horseshit? Perhaps they're bullshit. And are they unadulterated bullshit? Are their proponents chickenshits or just no-good-shits?

    It makes a difference, you know!

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  6. Scott, Larry, that was great.

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