The Cowboy Who Wasn't There: E-book Companion Site

Sunday, October 2, 2011

To Be or Not To Be a Choir Boy?


I Am An Unfriendly Not-So-Famous Atheist Who is Not Preaching to the Choir

When it comes to famous atheists (i.e., those who have been on the cover of Time Magazine as but one example), many Christians will attack their work and them as people. When it comes to atheists who are not so famous, whether or not many Christians attack their work and them as people depends. It depends on whether or not they are considered friendly or unfriendly to Christianity, and it depends on whether or not they are "preaching to the choir." I find that there are several books written by unfriendly non-famous atheists who preach to the choir that get many glowing reviews from other atheists but are ignored by Christians because they don't consider their works to be informed.

I am an unfriendly non-so-famous atheist who is not preaching to the choir. ;-) So my work and person gets attacked more than other non-famous atheists. I would hope atheists would understand this. Many do.

Actually John, to your own credit you are semi-famous, but I think you try to say that you are "not-so-famous" so that you will actually convince people you are a humble person. Lee Strobel and Matt Wittelberg both mention on occassion and know you by name. So you do have a celebrity, you're just more along the lines of being the Tom Cruise of New Atheism.

And you're not "preaching to the choir"? REALLY? How exactly do you have anything groundbreaking to offer people? Many people including myself haven't seen anything new. You spend more time piggy backing other people's celebrities (atheist and theist) to make a name for yourself or to get your face out there. How is that not preaching to the choir?

You write books where most of the content is written by other people, and yet you still pass yourself off as the main author. You're not preaching to the choir, John?

Your OTF argument is your brand name for an argument that is fairly common amongst anti-theists. You know John Hick after all, I have one of his books for a philosophy class I'm currently taking. In his work Philosophy of Religion (which was published in the mid to late 1980's) he writes: "If I had been born in India, I would probably be a Hindu; if in Egypt, probably a Muslim; if in Sri Lanka, probably a Buddhist; but I was born in England and am, predictably, a Christian...Thus Hume laid down the principle "that, in matters of religion, whatever is different is contrary; and the that it is impossible the religions of ancient Rome, of Turkey, of Siam, and of China should, all of them, be established on any solid foundation."" (pg. 110). David Hume lived in the 18th century, Johnny boy. What's that about you not preaching to the choir, again?

Wait...stop. He's absolutely right. He's not preaching to the choir because the majority of his audience are people who (as I like to say on one of my other blogs) prefer to wear the words "critical thinking" as a fashion statement rather than acknowledge it for being an individual pursuit that can take many different shapes and forms.

Monday, September 12, 2011

John the Seer

"Human beings will evolve into different sorts of creatures, perhaps like the Na'vi of James Cameron's movie Avatar. Then the Bible will clearly be an antiquated book. The salvation of the human race and the incarnation of the second person of the trinity will have no relevance for the creatures we are yet to become. Christianity will fall into the dustbin of history just like all other dead religions. Too bad this assured end is far off into the future. But it WILL happen, just as assuredly as I am writing this today in the year 2011." - John Loftus' prediction for the future fate of Christianity, as can be found here.

I guess John's enchantment with high-budget CGI blockbusters has caused him to believe that there is some truth and reality to the fictional universe of James Cameron. What really sticks out to me as an eye-opener is this bit: "Human beings will evolve into different sorts of creatures...." Yes, evolutionarily speaking, and if you are convinced that everything should still be in place for that long, we will at some point evolve into "different sorts of creatures." But John gets the strange notion that we will eventually end up like an alien species of tall blue and stalky tribal people. Hmmm......

I'm not even exactly sure what such speculation this seems to serve or to what good productive informative purpose this post is directed towards. What is the point? A million different things and outcomes could occur. Who is to say we won't be wiped off the planet before the next thousand years pass? Quite frankly unless we have some sort of imminent knowledge and the resources to act, who cares?

And by stating that the Bible "will clearly be an antiquated book" does John mean to say that it will be regarded as a relic or as a piece of meaningless garbage? Of course we can probably place our bets on the latter, but I would personally "predict" that the Bible will continue to be known as a renowned piece of literature (at the very least) for millenia to come.

In his emotional plight with his "Christian" past, John seeks to mainly give Christianity a bad name almost to the point of speculating and downplaying Christianity's end. Of course religions have come and gone but the unique thing about Christianity and indeed modern times are a few things to be noted:

1. For one thing, it is almost undeniable that Christianity has been perhaps the most influential religion in the world for the past two thousand years.
2. Its influence on the world whether by European colonization and conquered land or through modern technological means and networks such as the internet have given it a global-wide presence that has been unlike any other religion in known history.
3. Given population growth, the rich historical influences Christianity has had on almost every Western nation and civilization in existence, and its global presence through technology and extensive membership is likely to ensure that Christianity will remain a permanent piece of civilized history, however long civilization should prosper.

Even in the event that Christianity should "fade out" in its "validity" or membership does not necessitate that it will be forgotten or even merely regarded as just another "dead religion." Again, John's speculation here comes from wishful thinking. It would seem his past has clouted his objectivity that what he once accepted in his mind is simply unacceptable or most definitely will be for the rest of the living world.

But it seems to me that while people like Loftus would like to hope for the downfall of the Christian religion, reality will paint a different picture. The best indication anyone has of the future in this instance is that Christianity will likely remain a part of mankind forever in some shape or form, even if it loses its institutional endorsements.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Don't Say We Haven't "Told You So"

Remember when I made the prediction that John would continually fall for his own formula with such predictability? A while back I had posted this before John went ahead and decided to work on The End of Christianity:

Books of this type of nature are very much reflective of their titles, and this is intentionally so. John's premise for The Christian Delusion is to quite simply demonstrate that Christianity is based in delusional thinking, not an accurate assessment of reality. Just as well, The End of Christianity is meant to imply that Christianity is a dying movement.

But wait, Sam Harris' book The End of Faith is of the same exact vein. So what grounds does John have for claiming originality or the production of new contributive works?

Is this ultimately the best John has to deal out? The title of his next book might as well be Christianity is Not Great: How Christianity Distorts Everything. This is all in an attempt to divert attention away from the original publication of where this title (and subsequently the premise) is based from, and it seems as if John is fulfilling this predicted line of reason rather unsurprisingly but in a manner which already adds insult to self-inflicted injuries. Sort of like how Stephanie Meyers writes a series of books about old concepts and mythological creatures yet can't get it together to the point of where the story is actually engaging to the reader, or why the reader should even care to begin with. In simpler terms, what does John bring to the table that can't be found elsewhere?

This I posted a week ago right around when John revealed the time that The End of Christianity would finally be published:

It's a sheer disappointment John can't present a work that doesn't:

A. Piggy-back the publications of other, more well known celebrity figures.
B. Start from a point of reference that isn't initially reactionary or an attempt to strongarm the opposing side.

Let's face it though, this is what we have gotten in the past and this is what we are going to receive from John. His whole purpose here is to go out on a limb against Christianity (at least, that's the tentative purpose and it works on the assumption that his blog truly deals with such). Make no mistake my readers, this will be an ongoing pattern to come.

And now:

Hmmm...right before John releases his newest book, he starts work on another (again, with the title derived from a atheist figurehead much more widely known and respected than himself). Is this not an indicator of immense desperation?

Eventually John will run out of inspirational material and will be forced to come up with something from scratch. The question is not whether this is a likelihood or a possibility, but if John has the capacity to execute this task when the time comes.

Does John have enough to muster an offensive force by himself, like he would have you believe? I suppose in John's mind the rapid rate and frequency by which these books are published would communicate to the world that John is a formidable opponent in the academic world. He can take on anything. He's dedicated to the finish and he won't rest until he sees things through.

He lays out his "goal" quite succinctly on the home page to the site for The End of Christianity:

My goal as an atheist author and editor is to help provide the intellectual underpinnings of the New Atheist movement with regard to the Christian faith. As best as possible I plan on leveling broadside after broadside after broadside against the Christian faith in hopes that together we can help sink the good ship Christian in this century. As a former evangelical myself I also wish to introduce my evangelical friends to these skeptical authors.

I think skeptics who are genuine critical thinkers would beg the question: If John's books are based on other people's books which have the intent on changing the mass' minds in regards to religion and faith, then what good do these books serve?

If the books John pens due to their ability to incite inspiration already effectively achieve the objective of demonstrating to many that religious faith is a bogus scam, why does John need to get out there and "contribute" in such a manner? If John needs to do this, then there should be at least one individual out there for every single religion known to man, right? We need an atheist or former believer to write books attacking Islam and the same goes for Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, paganism, voodoo, Judaism, Anglo-Saxon Norse mythology, etc., etc., etc.

Realistically, we are faced by more of a threat from radical Islamic terrorism than we are any other ideology at this point, and on a world wide scale. This is almost indisputable fact. Is the religious right in America a problem for our political system? Yes. Does the Religious Right manipulate and deprive people of their finances and quality of life? Arguably so. These problems do exist and are concerning. But they are not to the extent of such forces as Al-Qaeda, who will stop at nothing to see our climactic demise.

So with that said, I say John is doing a greater disservice on behalf of the community than he is doing a service. In essence, he offers nothing that his audiences aren't most likely already convinced of and are aware about. It's just that many of them would rather cling on to a published work which reaffirms these beliefs more and more and more. That's it in a nutshell.

And as far as John goes by being diplomatic with those he desires to persuade, it seems that he is again reluctant to acknowledge his own vices:

As I see it, John is utterly and direly confused my friends. He confuses competitive teen-like angst as constructively handling his relationships with others and thinks that he is helping to fortify houses by toppling bricks on top of roof tiles.

We can only wonder if and when John will ever learn his lesson.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Motives of Disingenuousness

I'm not a fan of going on a full out crusade against an individual (unless of course, you were Osama bin Laden, prior to getting shot in the noggin ;)), and it's certainly no one's business to point out whenever someone gets caught lying or trying to commit other such "sins" on a 24 hour basis. Some people (like Arnold Schwarzenegger and yes, even Mel Gibson) need to be accepted for being human and thus imperfect.

Almost consistently we have attempted to outline a framework detailing the motives of John Loftus. I'm not a fan of Freudian psychoanalysis either, and despite the claims and suggestions of some who have posted here in the past, I'm not obssessed with John Loftus as a subject of study. No, my intent is on unveiling the true substantiated contents (if they could be called such) which are an extension of John Loftus' bodies of "work", so to speak.

That means if John Loftus is going to lie to make a point about an organization that lies to get their way, I would like to clear things up for people that aren't going to notice it at first. This is not based on an opinionated bias as John has admitted in the past (and sorry, you'll need to search through our archives if you're not familiar with the information I'm alluding too) that lies and deceptional tactics are irrelevant to what the goal or objective is. In that sense, John is very much of a utilitarian mindset.

As regulars have probably noticed whenever I log on here I catch a glimpse of news over at Debunking Christianity, just to see if I could venture even slightly into new material for this blog. Sure enough, I found another post in which there are glaringly loose ends that need some serious fastening:

I am against sexism, most emphatically, without any doubt at all. In fact, one of the main reasons I do what I do is because of what religion has done and continues to do to women. I argue against religion for that reason alone. There are a lot of women bloggers for which I am truly thankful. But it seems as if there are few women scholars to link to in the blog world. Several of the ones PZ Myers links to have not yet earned a college degree, or they have just entered into a master's program. Oh, I know, the women atheist scholars of tomorrow are with us today in training, so yes, let's encourage them by all means. But where are the women atheist scholars of today? We need your voices more than ever. Help us, please. We are mere men.

It seems to me that anyone with basic brain functioning would easily pick up on another pattern John has used, and it's no surprise it deals with partial truth (in essence, constituting lies). Is this really why you have a bone to pick with Christianity John? Doubtful. You've blamed your devestation of faith on a woman you chose to have an extra-marital affair with and you hardly own up to any responsibility on your part. Yet you are seriously suggesting that the reason why you are opposed to faith is because it promotes sexism?

For argument's sake it would be a pleasant luxury to actually trust what John relays to people myself included. But it seems he is only capable of producing face-palm tragedies.

Honestly John, what do you really hope to accomplish with this?

Enlightening others to the realization that Christian is false?

Promoting your name to establish a legacy amongst the New Atheist movement?

To alter the cultural perceptions of "religion" as you would call it?

To convince people that atheism is more of a beneficial philosophy to the mind and body of the individual than theism is by comparison?

These goals are more distinct than I think people would like to acknowledge, especially with regard to the culture wars. And more like a professional politician, it would seem that John will make as many stabs as he can at issues which have little to do with each other and string them together to rally support for himself and the establishment of his own legacy. At the end of the day, as has been established in numerous different contexts and in the not-so-distant recorded past, it still stands to reason that actions speak louder than words.

I am not a prude, nor a feminist (at least in a strict sense), and I am not suggesting that John is a mysognist. But this is fishy to say the least, as are most of John's claims about similar issues. John, you cannot essentially put the responsibility of your deconversion on a seduction which you did not have the willpower to overcome and then expect to at the same time be a champion for the cause of female atheists. Because if your deconversion is based mostly on the actions of women that were involved in your life, how can you be combatting religion on the basis that it is sexist against women? Isn't accusing Linda (your partner in the affair) of being nearly wholly responsible for that point in your lifetime sexist by itself?

John and friends miss the point when I bring such things to light in that they will no doubt interpret this as a mallicious strawman or ad hominen tactic. But this is important to discuss nonetheless. If John is truly concerned with being open, honest, truthful, and rational with his intended audience, he would address these issues at some point. Unless he makes the assumption that they are too stupid to figure these tidbits out for themselves.

And of course, if the latter is true, it is not enlightening to suppose that this would make John out to be more like the enemy than even he himself realizes. Suppose that he addresses sexism in order to illicit ranks from an additional demographic that he has only had slight affiliation with in his writing career. If that is the case and he thinks he can get away with this without being caught, then he would indeed be more of a sexist than he would probably be willing to admit.

And while we're at the heart of this therapeutic breakdown, we might as all well be asking John one simple direct question:

Can you tell us how you really feel?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The End of Innovation

It's a sheer disappointment John can't present a work that doesn't:

A. Piggy-back the publications of other, more well known celebrity figures.
B. Start from a point of reference that isn't initially reactionary or an attempt to strongarm the opposing side.

Let's face it though, this is what we have gotten in the past and this is what we are going to receive from John. His whole purpose here is to go out on a limb against Christianity (at least, that's the tentative purpose and it works on the assumption that his blog truly deals with such). Make no mistake my readers, this will be an ongoing pattern to come. Here's another promo for his third upcoming release in what seems to be in a line for his second series of sorts:

This book has taken a year and a half from conception to find its way into your homes. It's been a lot of work but worthwhile nonetheless. It went to press and will be available mid-July. Tell others about it. It's a pretty damn good book, named after Sam Harris' The End of Faith.

Expect the smear campaign to start soon afterward on Amazon, as it happened (and continues to happen) to my other two books. It's a war over there from deluded believers who think what I'm doing is a much more serious threat to their faith than most others, whether that's true or not (hey, they're deluded so why should we think they know who best to target?).

John, I know I've spoken about this thousands of times before but, this is actually very counter-productive to what you are hoping to accomplish through all of your efforts. You have to accept and come to terms with "smear campaigns". Do you know anybody that has published anything that has gone uncriticized?

And with that said, by utilizing the "deluded" categorization, you are being excessively forceful with your message, and the means by which your package is presented only confirms this and even seems to reveal your desperation for getting others to take you seriously.

I would contend that a true artist and visionary does not go out of his way to promote their works, they let the works speak for themselves. They are not vicious and adamant or invested into getting "into the fight", and doing whatever it takes to win. This seems ridiculous to New Atheists because they perceive their circumstances as likened to a civil rights movement, and civil rights movements are not typically won by being passive. But think about the case of Gandhi, who did not advocate physical retaliation against the oppressive forces of his time.

Tactics can only be successfully counteracted by tactics, and the tactics used in counteraction should be chosen wisely. It is almost never in the case that using the same tactics as the enemy will bring you victory, you must devise a means of circumventing the traps and expectations the enemy has planned for you to bring you to your defeat, and this is still an issue of tactics, except that they are not drawn up in a sloppy fashion.

It is unwise for instance, to stoop to the anticipations of the enemy by playing out your counteraction strategy by going with full head on force, this should be a contingency of sorts you rely on as a last resort. Therefore John, your campaign must be one that innovates, and you have yet to do anything of the sort.

Perhaps you will come to terms with your flawed approach and learn this lesson for the next installment. I would actually be interested if you do start becoming more creative and original. But seeing as you would currently rather mock and choose to ignore your critics suggestions and takes, this could only be considered a pipe dream.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

John's Psychoanalysis

Here's one trend that's becoming common over at John's circle, and it involves a great deal of attempts at trying to encompass the mentality and mindset of Christians and reduce it to psychological terminology. While seemingly parroting this trend from the likes of folk such as Richard Dawkins, John Loftus seems fond of pointing out that a great deal of the Christian opposition is "deluded" and does so with the same flippant regard as Dawkins:

Many Christians treat skeptics like me as if I am the enemy to be debated and not a fellow human being interested in the truth. That is surely one of the marks of a brainwashed or deluded person too.

This is deliciously ironic. Seeing as John spends his time venting about how primtive and superstitious it is to subscribe to the tenets of Christianity, is it any mystery that he would, to some degree, be perceived as an "enemy to be debated"? In fact, the existence of DJ's blog doesn't really indicate he's interested in anything else but debating with Christians. He aims at trying to conjur up arguments and push the envelope of controversies in many cases. Now the question is, what is his aim when he writes posts such as these?

Perhaps it requires going back a little further in time to the original post John alludes too:

Below in no particular order are what I consider the ten marks (or characteristics) of a deluded person. I think even educated Christians will agree with most of them.

The fascinating thing about this line of reasoning is that we see it stemming from individuals totally without credentials in a psychological field, and yet nonetheless, these individuals (some of them highly respected and credible scientists like Dawkins) proceed to make psychological assessments. At first this seems harmless, but the effects of such statements and their influence on the impressionable (which in modern times seems to be the majority of the worldwide web) have dangerous and detrimental implications. The definition of delusion used here by John is defined on his own personal parameters, which in turn translates to his own opinionated viewpoint, not based on anything that mental health professionals deem to be "deluded." In essence, such a wreckless use of words means that anyone may call someone "not in tune with reality" delusional because they derived the defintion from or other such similar means.

You might want to consider from this checklist how many of them apply to you. To the degree that more of them apply then the more likely you are deluded by your faith. Now it's quite possible that Christians can be deluded and yet their faith is true, in the same sense that a person might be brainwashed or indoctrinated into believing the truth. But the point is that if you're deluded then you have no reason to believe.

Overall, John is correct. And as a matter of fact, many Christians believe in their faith for no other good reason than they were brought up in those traditions, or it just so happens to be the religion of choice because they are most familiar with it. Not because they have examined and analyzed different perspectives or compared their own faith to other religions. Not because they have considered the possibility that they might be dead wrong. In other words, no critical thinking is included in the puzzle.

But now that we've already established the opinionated bias for this defintion of what it means to be delusional, what follows is going to be rather suspect. In the same light of John's opening statement here, it is also true that John may arrive to the right conclusions all for the wrong reasons (is John delusional perhaps?).

A deluded person is more likely than not one who...

2) As an adult never adopts nor cultivates the adult attitude of doubt. All adults must revisit the religious faith taught to them by their parents since #1 above is undeniably true. That means they must doubt. Doubt is the adult attitude.

This is of course dependent on the presence of a "religious faith" by which one has to be brought up in, unless of course John is meaning to imply that atheism, agnosticism and deism can be included in the list.

Furthermore John needs to establish the extent by which doubt is necessary to cultivate "the adult attitude of doubt." Is it more wise to be a skeptic or a cynic? Is doubt needed with regard to everything or only in the cases of religious faith? How can John except people to follow along with this reasoning if the words being used are not defined in specific terms?

3) Never reads widely or is exposed to other points of view in the media. I'm talking about non-fiction works about the sciences, different cultures, different faiths, and those written by skeptics or non-believers. To escape from being deluded, believers should read books that are written by people within different cultures and faith communities, and watch programs on the History Channel, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, PBS, 60 Minutes, Dateline, and yes, YouTube.

Very nice John, well done. This means we can pretty much classify those living in third world countries without access to the internet, television, print, and the media as "deluded" for having the beliefs that they do. Let's also not forget scientific illiteracy. After all, it is the fault of the people in these given nations for not boning up on their organic chemistry and quantum physics, even if it might mean certain death for them at the hands of their own government or socioeconomic class. Bravo, bravo.

4) Does not travel widely including travel into different cultures. A deluded person only experiences a small slice of the pie. One must experience the world to see how others live. The more the better. Such a person basically stays within the social confines of like-minded religious people. The Amish are the extreme examples of this. Many believers only have believing friends. Even if believers cannot travel the world they can still step outside their social grouping to meet other people who think differently. Most believers do not trust people of different faiths or non-believers. Seek them out. Attend a freethinker's group meeting. Get to know them. Become friends with them.

More of a reiterated version of the previous point, and one that still doesn't do much justice for itself, let alone serve as sound advice on the behalf of others. Again, third world countries? What about India and the Caste System? If you are an untouchable, what then John? They are restrained to their own delusional prison imposed on them by government sanction and thousands of years of tradition?

5) Never studies deeply into the nature of his or her adopted faith. The more you know the less you believe, the less confident you become, and the more you doubt.

A reiteration of the first point (which we have already addressed) in that one is deluded by subscribing only to the faith they were brought up in. I tend to agree completely with John on points like these, but the only problem with this is that John must demonstrate that it is universal that the more one knows about their faith, the less they believe in it. This is not always true, and it may be that one chooses to study the "nature" of their faith and becomes even more convinced of it, even if it is contrary to common sense and logic. Allot of it just depends on the person more than what the person has studied and how much they know about their particular religion.

6) Lies in order to defend one's faith. There are plenty of examples of this, from faking stories about finding Noah's Ark, to fudging the truth when there is no reasonable response, to making up personal healing stories, to claiming a conversion from a position of intellectual atheism (versus a practical atheism) to Evangelical Christianity like Lee Strobel and David Wood, to personal and unjustified attacks on anyone who questions one's faith in order to poison the well against them, to debate tactics like the ones used by Bill Craig and Dinesh D'Souza who as debaters, just like boxers in a ring, are out to win the debate no matter what must be said in order to win it. These are liars for Jesus to various degrees. If you have to lie to defend your faith then you need help.

Trashing the name of your "former mentor" again are we John? It is funny that John has continued to push for a debate with Dr. Craig, but yet behind his back he chooses to make as many fatal jabs as he can.

Maybe there is something here which might indicate John suffers from a projection complex, now that we are referencing the subject of psychology. Because it is certainly the case, as we have often discussed in the infancy period of this blog, that John will also lie to save face, even when his position is without defensive merit. Need we dig up the past once more?!

And John's truthful and intellectually honest response:

Technically, I didn't lie.

Prove to me I did.

Besides, it doesn't matter that you know I started the Blog. I don't care. People will still visit there regardless, and I will continue sending people there.

You are the dishonest one.

Hmmm..very interesting. John certainly seems like he's qualified to point out the delusion of lying for a position that clearly can't be defended, even through lying. That's because of course, despite the age of the incident itself, John is guilty on all counts of this himself.

Moving on...

7) Preaches to people who think differently rather than rationally engaging them. I am constantly amazed, bewildered, frustrated, and bored with the kind of responses I see from believers who comment here at DC. They come here preaching. They pontificate. They quote mine from the Bible. They even say we're going to hell with glee. Many of them merely mouth the words of the creeds and affirm what they believe, rather than actually engaging us with a rational discussion about the basis for believing in the first place. They come here preaching to us from an ancient superstitious set of texts rather than showing us why we should believe them in the first place.

Well John, again, that is really reflective of the type of atmosphere you create. You play mostly on the emotional aspects of Christianity rather than rationally engaging believers. Your blog is a treasure chest of arguments on how the existence of suffering negates an omnipotent and caring deity. You point to recent disasters (like the earthquake in Japan) as reasons for why God can't and doesn't exist. You hardly ever address things besides. You do not explain why calamities in the present support your arguments and yet those of the past do not matter so much (and this is not to say that your point isn't realized, I understand you do this to communicate to believers) and most importantly, you never address the fact that the people of ancient times were well aware of natural disasters simply based on the fact that suffering is a common theme throughout the Bible, and natural disasters have persisted forever.

8) Claims he or she does not need evidence to believe. Take notice Alvin Plantinga and Bill Craig! This is utterly delusional thinking especially when we consider all of the things they must take as properly basic beliefs coming from the witness of the Holy Spirit. As someone said, "what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence." Anyone who claims his or her faith does not need evidence, even if true, ought to take a reality check.

Fair enough, but this means that the skeptic "community" can no longer define fatih as "belief in something without evidence." Right?

9) Must be convinced that his or her faith is impossible before seeing it as improbable. Time after time believers will claim I have not proved that their faith is impossible, and so lacking this kind of proof they still claim to have a reason to believe. However, we're always talking about probabilities. So even if it's still possible to believe in light of a number of problems for faith, it's still an improbable faith and that should be good enough.

Shaky grounds here. There are plenty of skeptics who would pick at aspects of religion (like the resurrection of Jesus) as impossible, and they play on this to suggest that without some sort of possibility factored into the equation, we can automatically reject the faith.

So this is a matter of whom you are addressing. And of course, it's one-sided and directed only at believers of faith.

10) Must denigrate the sciences in order to have faith. This is what I see time after time. Believers denigrate the sciences in a number of ways in order to believe. That's because faith demands it. Some believers don't even know what I'm talking about. Since science tells us prayer doesn't work then it doesn't work. It tells us the universe is 13.7 billion years old. It tells us we evolved. It tells us there was no Israelite Exodus from Egypt. It tells us the Nativity stories in the Gospels could not be true. It tells us virgins do not have babies. It tells us that dead people do not bodily rise from the grave. Christians must denigrate science in order to believe. Science or Faith? Science has a track record. Faith flies planes into buildings. Science all the way, hands down. End of story.

And now ladies and gentlemen, the jaw-dropping unanticipated climax to John's rant on psychoanalyzing religious believers.

Science tells us prayer doesn't work? Science says virgins don't have babies? All of this is of course in light of the fact that John moans about how believers don't engage him with rational discourse. Well, if one were to put faith into a box comprised of denial and refusal to consider evidence, and defines faith as a reliance on these aspects yet expects believers to back their faith with evidence, then it stands that John would have believers do the logically impossible. Contradict their own stances while somehow maintaining them in a non-contradictory fashion.

Clearly someone doesn't take the time to work out the kinks to their own arguments and assessments of mind.

Friday, March 11, 2011

New Sister Site: Introducing the WBC Watchdog

This may not interest anyone who reads this, but I've finally made the committment to create a website on the Westboro Baptist Church and stick with it. You'll find the link on the sidebar.

The catch to this blog is that, while it does not show any sympathy for the Phelps' extremist views, it also dispells the popular myths surrounding the church, and will attempt to document facts about them and their philosophies in order to better "know thy enemy".

If you happen to be interested, go and check it out. It's of course still a work in progress, but with the passing of time I'll be adding more material and beefing it with more resources.

Thanks anyway.



Nick (ApologiaPhoenix) a somewhat contributor here and frequent moderator over at TheologyWeb, brought this to my attention as I was skimming the March 2011 Screwballs thread:

If you've kept up on any recent news lately, you'd know perfectly well that John is talking about the tsunami mass earthquake which hit Japan sometime mid to late evening yesterday.

Now it's not so much that I disagree with John's viewpoint on the nature and extent of these disaster and their implications for theological beliefs. It's just, well...

Check out the title: Devastating Tsunami Hits Japan. You Want Evidence There Isn't a Good Omnipotent God? Here it is.

*Sigh*....does this sound like anything new from Debunking Christianity? If you answered no, then you would most certainly be correct. Anything bad that happens in the world on a major scale is likely to get pinned down by John and like-minded folk as evidence that there is no good omnipotent God.

Except when these arguments turn into a formulated pattern, and become a franchise just like the majority of John's other arguments and propositions, then where does there effectiveness lie? Where is the substantial content? Where is this "evidence" that John speaks of. At some point it becomes an "argument" which relies on your emotional suggestiveness. Does it actually address anything on a cerebral level? Does it provide anything of coherent structure? NO. It's really quite similar to the tactics used by one of my favorite and often mentioned domestic terrorist groups, PETA. I have compared John to people who endorse PETA (even though I cannot state as a matter of fact that John would be amongst those who do) because he relies mostly on the power of suggestion rather than the power of reason. What does PETA do to convince people that eating meat is wrong and abhorrent? They compare eating chicken McNuggets to the Concentration Camps, they prey on children with videos of the horrific and illegal torture of endangered species. Do they at all attempt to explain such statements as why eating meat is "wrong" for humans to do? Never.

In the same sense, does John provide anything of content beside videos and soundbites, news clips, and rehashed arguments? We await the day that John could commit to actual substance. That is a hope and anticipation of ours here on this blog. And if somehow John could explain in this particular instance, how its implied significance is different or moreso than in other previously mentioned cases, then we will afford John that merit.

John writes just above the embedded video:

"Here it is. Try explaining this rather than explaining it away."

And in conjunction with a comment made this very morning:

"Mike, I written about tragedies before and every time I do some people say I'm insensitive. But if I wrote about a distant event in the past it would not be fresh on people's minds."

Well John, maybe you could look at this way: You do make a fuss about just any type of calamity that comes to your attention. You have a tendency like that of the media to skew these events to fit your perspective, just like the media's allegations that Jared Loughner was a right-wing conspirator, not a registered Independent with severe psychological problems not related to religious affiliations or even politics.

And something else you fail to touch upon is what I've already brought up in this post: You fail to explain how the recency of an event makes it much more signficant than those of the past. What does this earthquake prove about anything? What could it possibly indicate? You leave these questions hanging in the air for the individual to decide. That's employing the same reasoning used by Creationists, John. What does this prove that couldn't somehow be proven from the distant past?

Keep in mind that because calamities have always been a fact of life, such instances were happening even during the time the Bible was being written. Does this make the Bible true? No, not by necessity. But it does show that it is a very small probability that ancient people were ignorant and oblivious to natural disasters. The key is to pinpoint what the ancients were conveying about their world at the time that they wrote this material which is now affecting our contemporary society. John makes no effort really to address any of these topics. This is why his arguments fall flat on their face.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Our Mission Statement

You know almost every organization has one in some form or another, and while we aren't some large online corporation or business group, I think what YouTube user Anekantavad (however you pronounce that :P) said in his most recent reply to famous internet atheist celebrity Pat Condell sums up the mission and intended purpose of this blog as a whole. Given that I am a non-Christian staff member/founder of this blog, this is what stands out from our typical rants against Debunking Christianity. We are, in more or less terms, dedicated to providing critical analysis of the New Atheist movement and its various forms. Pat Condell being amongst one of many notable individuals within the movement itself, serve as an example to what I am specifically referring too.

Let this speak for itself. Enjoy:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Are There Really Atheist/Skeptic Apologetics?

Guest commentator Morrison recently wrote that we have become inactive here with our posts and updates while John Loftus of Debunking Christianity ups his level of "aggressiveness." While this means very little in terms of significance to myself and JP Holding (because what we are usually faced with is what John has discussed plenty in detail before and it can only become irritatingly repetitive), I figure what the heck as usual. This blog exists for a reason. Keep in mind, however, the reasons for such sporadic intervals in updates is simply based on two major factors: 1) This blog is not our lives and neither is John Loftus, believe it or not, and 2) There are, admittely, more important priorities at stake other than debating on the internet. I'm sure even our detracting critics can agree with these sentiments, even if they don't believe for a second they apply to us the staff. This blog is somewhat fun to manage and it also gives us a medium for calling out John's material in a way he despises and would preferably censor [except when he attempts to do so here, he gets bitch-slapped, not us ;)], it's not a career job for us and this blog has made very little in terms of profit and income. After all this is Debunking Loftus, not Debunking Christianity (:P), and our approach to these subjects of discussions stems from an entirely different even if somewhat similar rationale.

The title of this post was prompted by John's self-defense against a skeptic's critique of his infamous but ineffective and shortcoming OTF (otherwise spelled out as "Outsider Test for Faith" for you noobs). To those of you that have kept up with this blog since the exact date of inception, what you are about to skim over is probably not something that will keep you too terribly interested or will really stick out in your mind as intriguing or intellectually stimulating, but we'll take a jab at it anyway.

John Loftus: I will offer a brief response to Thrasymachus who claims that the Outsider Test is a failure.

I'll place his words in blockquotes:
I’m not a believer, but I’m also not convinced that the OTF is the rhetorical silver bullet it is made out to be. I hope to clarify and augment the OTF to avoid some of the more common criticisms, and hopefully cut through some of the confusion between Loftus and his detractors. In the final reckoning, though, I will show the OTF isn’t a significantly persuasive force for Atheism.
The OTF is no silver bullet. There are no silver bullets. If that is the standard then all counter Christian apologetics fail.

Our commentary: There are no "silver bullets" lurking around that you might be able to spot John? None at all? If there are no "silver bullets" than by what term or labeling reference do we ascribe to the intent of bolstering confidence in your arguments, your colleagues' arguments, or even the arguments of New Atheists in general? If there are no arguments out there that stand out from the rest, then isn't it a rehashing of old and limited materials to defend a worldview/cause not worth defending?

As I penned back in 2010 in one of the entries to my logic series concerning John's favorite forms of argument, I specifically listed the fallacy of equivocation (i.e., double meaning for a single, specific word) as one argumentative pattern trait we can attribute to this line of reasoning. To what exactly am I referring too? John's strung together sentence of "counter Christian apologetics."

Now I may appear to be a pain in the ass for going here, but why should a "counter Christian" worldview (more specifically in this case, atheism/agnosticism/skepticism) need apologetics at all? Again, atheism according to many belonging to the New Atheist movement and related groups state with fervor that atheism is merely the disbelief in the existence of God or a god. What exactly is there to defend here?

And of course, without having self-recognition or introspection in mind, John has argued this too. So, it would seem quite strange that one would be an apologist for a worldview that espouses nothing more than a disbelief in deities, wouldn't it?

There's an interesting trip wire that never seems to get answered/resolved by John and the like. Instead, it usually boils down to dealing justice against Christians because they are running the spinwheel like a high speed car chase, and someone needs to put them in their place.

And let's just take away atheism from the picture for a second. Now what are we left with exactly? "Counter Christian apologetics" conveys unspecified and undefined meanings. It fails for explaining things. Are we rooting for pagans? Muslims? Jews? Buddhists? Hindus? Oh, none of the above?

So what is it really? It's the defense of a negative, a position not swayed or determined by the tenents of any faith or doctrine. It's just intended to counteract the nonsense of religion and its grip on society.

What’s the test?

What exactly is the outsider test? “to test their own adopted religious faith from the perspective of an outsider with the same level of skepticism they use to evaluate other religious faiths” isn’t entirely clear. This lack of clarity – both from Loftus and his critics – makes the argument very hard to dissect indeed.
John Loftus: I'm sorry, what isn’t clear about it? I first proposed it on a blog post and have refined it since then. What matters is how I articulate it now.

Our commentary: Yes and no, John. If you are going to put forth a faith-shattering argument, it should account for any potential loopholes. Even if you are a human being and therefore incapable of constructing the perfect argument, your goal is to bring a religion down to its needs and then sever its head from the rest of the body. And Thrascymachus did specify what wasn't clear about your argument. You boldy propose that the primary mechanism for getting your argument off the ground is to create more doubt in one's religious beliefs by cross-examination. However, this falls flat on its face because you are making an erroneous assumption about individuals based on groups. You are defying categorical logic.

John Loftus: I have defined the outsider as the consistent skeptic, a person who uses the same level of skepticism to evaluate all religious faiths.

Our commentary: Again, you spell your defiance and reluctance to embrace categorical logic in spades with this statement. Your argument is improbable by its very first premise, and by this it cannot lead and follow into subsequent premises and is deprived of a valid conclusion. You tread into deep territory with this one, because consistency once again varies from individual to individual, and furthermore because humans are fallible and without a constant system of checks and balances of the self, you run short on ammunition as to what a "consistent skeptic" is (think 9/11 truthers, many of whom may and do have valid political points about the government, yet are relunctant and unwilling to see the reality of September 11, 2001: That is to say, it was not plotted by the United States government, it was a successful terrorist attack employed by Al Qaeda).

Now it's time to go back to the drawing board. I'm sure many of you will enjoy ripping this to shreds, but I need to do more important things now. Until my next post...