By HonestDiscussioner

Religion, Philosophy, Politics, and anything else I'd like to talk about

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

An Apologist's "Christmas Gift" to Atheists

The Christmas season is my absolute favorite time of year, where the largest chunk of the population is geared towards making themselves and those around them happy.  For me, I like to buy people gifts, and I put a large amount of effort into finding the perfect thing for all of those in my life. Others give the gift of writing smug, half-assed, and pretentious articles for Fox News while mischaracterizing the alleged intended recipient of their "gift".  

In his article, A Christmas gift for atheists -- five reasons why God exists, William Lane Craig gives very brief summaries of his usual five arguments: Cosmological, Teleological, Moral, Historical, and Experiential. These have been gone over more times than humans can count, and will continue to do so, but what caught me most perturbed was how he chose to chastise, categorize, and describe atheists:

"However, most atheists, in my experience, have no good reasons for their disbelief. Rather they’ve learned to simply repeat the slogan, “There’s no good evidence for God’s existence!” 

"In the case of a Christian who has no good reasons for what he believes, this slogan serves as an effective conversation-stopper. But if we have good reasons for our beliefs, then this slogan serves rather as a conversation-starter. 

"The atheist who merely repeats this slogan after having been presented with arguments for God’s existence makes an empty assertion."

There are others who have been around the atheist block more than I have, but I'm still pretty familiar with atheism, both mainstream and alternative. I know of no atheist who could fit this description. A few might constantly harp on the fact that no good evidence exists, but they are all very familiar with arguments for the existence of God, especially Craig's, and have found them unconvincing throughout multiple presentations of said arguments.


. . . the intended recipients of [Craig's] "gift" are certain groups of believers,
and the gift is one of feeling a smug sense superiority over atheists.

Notice that Craig starts out his criticism by alluding to the "no evidence" mantra as "an effective conversation stopper" for those have no reasons. To me, this seems to insinuate (without directly saying) that atheists are doing this on purpose, as though the last thing we want to do is have a conversation about the existence of God. It's slimy; a way to bring about negative illustrations of atheists in the mind of the reader while not directly dictating the illustration.

Then he moves on to saying "Fear not fellow Christians, for I have way around this dastardly deed! I shall merely present them with evidence!" He regurgitates his terrible, long-ago refuted arguments and then finishes with this:

"The good thing is that atheists tend to be very passionate people and want to believe in something. If they would only put aside the slogans for a moment and reexamine their worldview in light of the best philosophical, scientific, and historical evidence we have today, then they, too, would find Christmas worth celebrating!"

I've seen backhanded compliments before, but this is a category all to itself. It's another use of the "atheists as " trope we see in most corners of Christian apologetics, and done so in a way to makes it seem as though Craig is actually complimenting atheists, when in reality the compliment is that they aren't really atheists, they're just people who let their passions get in the way of what they truly are and will one day recognize as the truth.  I'm reminded of the South Park movie when Cartman decides to be nice to Kyle by telling him "he's not really a Jew" and an offended Kyle has to continue insisting he is. It's further insulting as it asserts that atheists don't find Christmas worth celebrating. Some don't (same with some Christians), but most of us do. The things we find worthy of celebrating are the things most Christians find worthy of celebrating, that being all of the non-Christian things co-opted from other religions like exchanges of presents, kissing under the mistletoe, adorning trees with pretty ornaments, and most of all the special time you spend with your family and friends.  Craig is at least consistent; he always is sure to describe the atheist-theist comparison as far removed from reality as one can take it.

I would call Craig's article insidious if it wasn't so obvious; Dr. Craig can't get past the title without using a falsehood. This piece was in no way written for atheists; the intended recipients of his "gift" are certain groups of believers, and the gift is one of feeling a smug sense superiority over atheists. It's so very blatant as well, not a single sentence is actually addressing atheists directly, it's always "atheists are this" or "atheists do that". He refers to us as "they", not "you". This is a hack job of the highest order.

I really would have liked to have written something more positive for my favorite holiday of the year, but instead I had to feel insulted by an apologist who misses the very spirit of the holiday. I never thought I'd say this, but I expected better from William Lane Craig.

5 comments:

  1. Do you not understand that "atheism" is irrational, for it is a contention based on the impossibility that you all have proven a negative? Therefore, the entire house of cards falls in on itself for it begins to evidence its bigotries, its irrationalities, its biases, and ultimately turns into a neo paganist cult of mortal gods of humanist relativism. Atheists, whether they like it or not, believe in gods (or gods) - THEMSELVES! - but what they don't believe in is Truth.

    I am sure you have thought through the fugue of life beyond good and evil where existentialism tempered with materialist empiricism and sensualist and consumerist release creates its own ontological reality. But in all honesty, we all know that this entire secular world falls on its head. And how? Because at its apex when it really considers facts and beliefs it cannot rationally explain, it is forced to admit its ignorance and lack of competence in even beginning to honestly examine them.

    Thus, only bigots and pagans are "atheists." An honest skeptic can only ever be an agnostic, and one open to learning and proving objective Truth, not trying to assert he has proven a negative in asinine intolerance.

    GET OVER YOURSELVES AND FIND HUMILITY!

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    Replies
    1. "Do you not understand that "atheism" is irrational, for it is a contention based on the impossibility that you all have proven a negative?"

      That's strong atheism, and you can prove a negative if it is logically contradictory. For example, square circle's do not exist and this can be proven through its own definitions. Now I don't necessarily contend that God is like that, but others do. Mainly, I'm an atheist in reference to religious beliefs (I think there are many reasons to consider all religions I've encountered as false) and an agnostic in reference to a specific god. You can use whatever terms you'd like, but please don't equivocate and try to make it out like the plethora of atheists out there all fall under one banner and belief system.

      "But in all honesty, we all know that this entire secular world falls on its head. And how? Because at its apex when it really considers facts and beliefs it cannot rationally explain, it is forced to admit its ignorance and lack of competence in even beginning to honestly examine them."

      This is a baseless assertion. I believe the exact opposite is true. There are so many things that Christianity, for example, can't explain per human behavior. While we certainly don't know everything yet, that's no excuse to insert god in there.

      "Thus, only bigots and pagans are "atheists.""

      You call atheists bigots while maintaining that your view is inherently superior and that all atheists are irrational. This is rather hypocritical, as you demonstrate the very nature of bigotry through proclaiming others are the ones that are bigoted.

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  2. "For example, square circle's do not exist and this can be proven through its own definitions. Now I don't necessarily contend that God is like that, but others do. Mainly, I'm an atheist in reference to religious beliefs (I think there are many reasons to consider all religions I've encountered as false) and an agnostic in reference to a specific god. You can use whatever terms you'd like, but please don't equivocate and try to make it out like the plethora of atheists out there all fall under one banner and belief system."

    Sophistries do not constitute empirical proofs of negative "facts," FOR THERE ARE LOGICALLY NO SUCH THINGS. They merely constitute evasion, ie a "square circle" is not a circle but a square: to insert absurdity to say you have proven a negative is to say you have proven your position to be absurd. Thank you. You may believe that "all religions" are false, BUT YOU CANNOT PROVE THEY ARE. Thus you established a FAITH BASED AND BIGOTED STANDARD.

    There is a DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN ATHEIST AND AN AGNOSTIC. The one believes there is no GOD. The other contends he does not know. Although they may both be skeptics, the one evidences a cocksure faith which leads him to biases and bigotries while the other honestly tries to prove (or disprove) his assertions.

    Strong or mild or whatever atheists... the contention remains the same: you believe you have proven there is no GOD on the basis of nothing other than limited empirical evidence laced with biases and no thorough examination of the scope of even the concept of GOD, MAKING THE ILLOGICAL ASSERTION THAT YOU HAVE PROVEN A NEGATIVE. IRRATIONAL AND CRAZY. That isn't the scientific method. It is pathological behavior. It isn't empiricism. How do you quantify and observe GOD and test for HIS NON EXISTENCE if you can't even define HIS qualities, presence and ontological properties?! How can you evaluate the supernatural rationally without supernatural instruments of experimentation? In other words, the scientific method cannot be observed in your "disproof" of GOD, can it?! Thus, this all becomes subjectivized bias and contrarian faith based speculation touting the irrationality that you are proving a negative. You establish a straw man to knock him down.

    "I believe the exact opposite is true. There are so many things that Christianity, for example, can't explain per human behavior. While we certainly don't know everything yet, that's no excuse to insert god in there."

    You contend that you can rationally frame and explain reality by ignoring empiricism and the scientific method by asserting faith in a groundless bias or a flawed bias whose basis is limited by lack of full samples and adequate controls and competent experimentation in asserting its conclusions?! THAT IS THE DEFINITION OF QUACKERY AND DECEPTION.

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  3. No, sir, Christianity never made the claim that it rationally proved anything. Rather, it asserts by ontological experience and the narrative of existence the presence and actions of GOD in framing life, and thereby it ontologically establishes its constructs as True, not by empiricism, but by the very narrative of life. The distinction here is that this Faith system knows by living, not by proving it is alive to live. GOD is inserted in its matrix by the affirmation of historical experience in life, for the system of living itself is established by its Author, GOD. HE is its Author, not its proof. Therein lies the difference. That's why HE is part of Christian cosmology: HE establishes it.

    Because you make shadow obeisances to an empiricism you can never uphold and establish it as your standard to denigrate others does not mean other faith systems have the same basis. Yours by admission is hollow, for you lack the method, the instruments, the understanding, the knowledge to fully actualize it OR BE TRUE TO IT. If at the outset, you are untrue to your own standards, how can they in any way be taken to be rationally based and legitimate?!

    No Christian asserts he has "proven" anything. He humbly asserts he doesn't know but lives and by living life with metaphysical sensitivities reflexive of the Author of Life provides Truth and Meaning humbly to his existence. By this life his faith is made whole and by living he comes to know and understand his reality. By experience of Life, the Christian knows GOD. He "knows as he is known." The Christian's proof is the breath he takes, the life he leads, the consequences of his moral exploit and the ramifications it has on all of creation, where, in acknowledgement of supernatural realities, the natural is transfigured: and this is not only observable but beneficial. That is the narrative of civilizations the entire recorded history of humanity.

    Empirical proof relegated to narrow categories with limited tools of understanding and evaluation to establish a basis for living naturally fails from the outset because it lacks the competence and scope to fully and honestly evaluate living. This is why your entire reality construct collapses on its head: from the very beginning you lack the infrastructure to even embark on your crusade of empirical proof rationally and honestly.

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  4. "You call atheists bigots while maintaining that your view is inherently superior and that all atheists are irrational. This is rather hypocritical, as you demonstrate the very nature of bigotry through proclaiming others are the ones that are bigoted."

    No, sir, I call atheists bigots and neo pagan worshippers of their own godhood precisely BECAUSE THEY DEFY THEIR OWN CRITERIA OF RATIONALISM AND EMPIRICISM in stating their crazed assertions that they have proven a negative. By the criteria they use in dismissing and indicting faith, they discredit themselves, for in truth, their faith system NEVER honestly MEETS THEIR OWN CRITERIA.

    I call them fanatics, for they fail to evidence a balance and honesty in their approach, a "balance and honesty" they use in their polemics to indict faith. Thus, they only assert a NONSENSICAL FAITH system which consists in stating that aside from mechanical and sundry mathematical truths (which they somehow maintain are constant) that Truth does not exist, that all is relative, that life is but a figment, a contrivance of human imagination, merely a deception of time, place and face. This trivialization of existence and debasement of the human condition to the point of it becoming nothing more than a biological blip on some evolutionary scale is the blackest ideology of dehumanization and barbarism ever attempted to alienate humanity and turn it into a race of naked apes.

    What are the fundamental bases of atheist assertions? Feeble and incoherent and hopelessly inadequate empiricisms laced in biases, innuendos and bigotries which constitute nothing more than superstitions of hate in practice, for they are groundless and irrational in shouting their unscientific contentions. YOU LACK THE SAMPLE AND THE CONTROL TO ARRIVE AT YOUR CONCLUSION, SIR!!!

    You, sir, traffic in relativisms which conspire to create human masses whose lives are unworthy of life, for they never live it in your small, relativist worlds: they biologically inhabit it with their biases before they expire only to produce more dehumanized masses to follow the same vicious and baseless model of reality. Your neo pagan humanism is not aimed at disproving GOD, for you assert you all are gods. No, your evil lies in declaring there is no Truth and that existence is no more than a deception with a simple biological purpose with evolutionary underpinnings whose end is inconsequential.

    You traffic in lies, sir, floated on ignorant bigotries. That is my problem with your neo pagan faith. For at its very outset, using your criteria, you establish it as a false religion.

    Humility at the outset would have prevented your impulse to subject humanity to this crazed inquisition. Humility, sir. The hubris of atheism does not convince: it merely attempts to persecute.

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