Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Andrew the Atheist's Return

Hello All!!  Sorry I had to be away.  It appears Tim has been chewing the bit waiting for me.  I'm afraid as the holidays approach, I won't be online much.  Sorry again.

Okay, so, I suppose I'll start with this idea that everyone worships something.  I find this ridiculous.  Believe it or not, christians, not everyone thinks like you.  Some people are quite happy NOT worshiping anything.  That is not to say I worship nothing.  That is to say I do not worship anything.  I'd like to flip this around.

Everyone is skeptical of something.  Unlike Tim's assertion about worship, I know that everyone reading this blog is skeptical about something.  Let's take the dragon in my pants, for example.  Anyone actually believe there is a dragon in my pants?  I didn't think so.  Do you apply the same level of skepticism to your belief in your god?  Do you?

My point is that the questions I've been asked about my dragon have been very disappointing.  I've been asked for evidence, and I've supplied it.  Remember the sound of the roar and the stinky breath?  Scientifically reproducible, verifiable, measurable evidence.  When you rejected this evidence, did you come closer to understanding why I reject your assertion the placement of the earth from the sun is evidence for god?  Why not?   And I think that was it.  I was really hoping I'd get some kind of argument against the dragon, but I've nothing.

If we are not skeptical of one thing, that leaves us vulnerable to getting suckered by another.  For example, if I were a believer, more specifically a christian, more specifically a biblical literalist, I would have a hard time understanding science.  My gullibility in believing there is a god has lead to me not understanding properly the world around me.  I might think the world was only a few thousand years old.  I'd have to have wild fantasies about why science did not coincide with my religion.

I could think that  women should not be permitted to speak.  I might think that flying planes into buildings is a good idea.  I think you get my point.  When we are not skeptical about supernatural claims, we become vulnerable to being gullible to frauds.  The supernatural IS a fraud, after all.

Now, on to Hitch's sad passing.

Yes, Hitch was flipping awesome.  Yes, it is sad he is gone.  But atheism is not sad.  It is inspirational.

It is your beliefs I find depressing.  If all my work is for naught, and all I have to do is believe, then why do anything?  My beliefs, not my works, are important.  God's got it all in his hands; he's got some plan.  Why interfere?  Why make things better?  If god wanted to, he'd fix it.  Might as well just wait to die and go to heaven.  There, I won't do anything either.  I'll be happy all the time without a care at all.  Nothing I did in life would matter, and my existence would no longer matter either, as nothing would matter.  I'd just be happy.

No, I find atheism much more inspirational. Perhaps it is not atheism.  Perhaps it is Humanism.

The atheist does not look to the next life to find reward or consequence.  We look to this one.  We find cause to do good and avoid evil here, now, in this life.  WE are the ones who are responsible for our lives.  WE share this existence and have an obligation to make it the best we can.  We need no carrot and stick routine.  We find joy and satisfaction that our actions have real value in this life, no other.  THIS is the life we look to improve, not some fantasy in some other realm.  Why does this life so fail to hold our attention that we have to cheapen it with man-made myths and monsters?  This is the life we look to live and impact.  God isn't here; we are.


  1. When my children are away from home, as they are now and will be for the next few days, I too chop at the bit. I really want to give Tim enough time to make a proper response, but I figure because of the typical holiday activities neither Tim or Andrew will be able to put forth the effort. So I’m giving myself permission to run a muck on this blog in their absence.

    I can only conclude that Andrew was too tired or too busy to actually say anything of import about Tim’s claim that all men worship something because his argument went something like this:
    1. Tim asserts that even atheists worship.
    2. No they don’t!
    2. Tim (and Christians) are ridiculous and egocentric!
    3. Let’s talk about some other stuff now.
    Good one, Andrew, good one.

    Andrew’s following argument about skepticism went something like this:
    1. I KNOW that everyone is skeptical.
    2. Tim asserts stuff.
    3. Let’s talk about some other stuff now.
    Another good one! I just happen to be very skeptical about anything Andrew claims to know, so maybe he lucked out this time around.

    On to Andrew’s argument about the Dragon in his pants, which just happens to be the best one yet. Probably because he stole all the arguments (or what he thinks are the arguments) from other sources. Shall we review what we actually know about his Dragon?
    1. His Dragon is located in a particular location in time and space (his pants, currently)
    2. His Dragon produces a smell (most likely from a disease of some sort).
    3. His Dragon has the physical capability of making sound (probably a cry for help).
    4. His Dragon breathes. I can only assume his Dragon has lungs.(perhaps an anomaly which left it susceptible to disease)
    5. His Dragon is measurable. It has size. It has shape. It has weight. (perhaps small, yes, but with a special device such as a magnifying glass or a microscope we are sure to be able to calculate it’s measurements)
    6. His Dragon must have no mind of its own if it has not attempted to escape from the hell that is Andrew’s pants.
    7. His Dragon must have no will of its own if it does not even want to escape from the hell that is Andrew’s pants.
    Conclusion: Andrew’s miniature Dragon located in his pants is impotent either as a result of it having no mind or having no will or being diseased.

  2. Next Andrew asks if Christians are skeptical about our God. Well the answer is both yes and no. Yes, Christians are skeptical of various claims about God. No, Christians do not apply scientific measurements to God. For example, if a certain believer (whatever that means) makes a claim that God is limited to a particular location in time and space. I, being the skeptic that I am, would say that any god which can be limited by these properties is not a god worthy of worship and so i would dismiss the claim. You might ask why we do not try and measure God or his God-ness. That is because God and God-ness is uncreated (at least that’s the claim being made by most Christians). Only created things have scientifically measurable properties. This concept of non-material, non-measurable, non-scientific is one of the most elusive concepts for believers and non-believers to grasp. It might be impossible even. After all, we are material, measurable, and scientific, how are we expected to cross the chasm that divide the two realities? It would be more true to say that God does not even have “existence” since when we speak of “existence” we are speaking of the material reality we happen to find ourselves. Supernatural (a term coined by Aquinas I think) does not even do justice to God because it has the connotation of God existing (much like nature exists), but only being superior, super, higher, in his existing. God is not just a really, really, big version of another created thing (man, rock, universe, etc.).

    Andrew is right to say that “when we are not skeptical about supernatural claims, we become vulnerable…to frauds“, but the assertion that supernatural IS a fraud depends a great deal upon what is meant by supernatural. My guess is that Andrew has no clue the difference between the claim that the supernatural is the highest form of being, or the claim that supernatural is non-being, or the claim that the supernatural is beyond being altogether. He probably finds himself too busy to bother knowing anything about his opponents beliefs and finds it much more entertaining to try and shock Christians with his creative vulgarity, all the while doing his best to sling muddy insults at Christians in the hopes that they will be bothered enough to.. what?...become atheist? Andrew doesn’t even realize that he is aiming in the wrong direction most of the time. I suppose it is much easier to point one's nose up in the air and refuse actual debate. It can be cute but Andrew is no were close to perfecting the tactic. Hitchens was the master. He was wildly entertaining even if depressingly ignorant of traditional Christian theology. I also have a soft spot in my calloused heart for him because the rumor is that he was once baptized Orthodox. I pray he finds peace and mercy.

  3. Moving on…
    If monergism were true then I would agree with Andrew that our works, and more specifically our beliefs, would be completely irrelevant, The idea that we could interfere with God’s plan would be illogical too. Our existence wouldn’t matter; we would simply be God’s plaything, a very depressing set of beliefs indeed! Lucky for me I’m not that type of believer, but way to go Andrew in successfully pointing out the flaws of Calvinism.

    More than a few atheists look for a feel good philosophy to live by and find it in humanism. That’s nice, but its not really a logical conclusion to atheism. Its more like an unconscious desire to seek goodness, worth, fulfillment, and, dare I say, purpose in life. With this monkey on their back, atheists speak of obligation, responsibility, and value, but there is nothing scientific about these terms. A man is no more obligated to “make an impact” or “be good” than a cell is to multiply or a tree is to process carbon dioxide into oxygen. Atheists, our friend Andrew included, fail to see that they have a subconscious irresistible desire to seek after goodness, worth, fulfillment, and purpose. If this desire is simply a matter of random chance, then so is our ability to reason, and it would be just as viable an option to reason away such desires. We could conclude that they are not necessary, not even noble, simply biologic. If one wanted to be a true, free-thinking atheist he would not be inhibited by such passions. Lucky for us that most atheists are inconsistent in their thoughts and still cling to their god-giving inclinations for goodness and yes, morality.

    Tim, I very much look forward to your thoughts on Andrew’s pathetic little Dragon and other things.

  4. Antonia... two words...

    YOU ROCK!!!!!

  5. Boy, I am sincerely sorry. I missed this post, Andrew. Welcome back. And Antonia, LOVE your comments. I just posted about having a truce over Christmas, so I will hold off and write my thoughts sometime after Christmas before the New Year.

    And Merry Christmas to everyone!

  6. 1. Tim asserts that even atheists worship.

    andrew's response of "no they don't" is entirely appropriate

    as tim has provided no evidence to support his claim

    an outlandish assertion that is presented without evidence can reasonably be dismissed without serious consideration or without the presentation of evidence to the contrary of the claim in question

    throughout the course of this blog tim has time and again attempted to shift the burden of proof in much the same way you just did

    the burden of proof rests on the person making a positive claim
    not on the person who is denying that claim
    if the person making the claim presents nothing in the form of evidence
    then denial of the claim in question is as easy as calling bullshit .

  7. Atheists claim that God doesn't exist. That is a positive affirmation. If they said, they don't know, that's a different thing.

  8. jezz ppl, sign off on your comments please, so that i know who to address my comments to.

    Anonymous #1: Thanks, I think.

    Anonymous #2: Does this work?

    Claimant: The sky is so clear and blue today.
    Objector: Bullshit!
    Claimant: By clear I mean that there are no clouds in the sky.
    Objector: Ridiculous!
    Claimant: Also, by blue I mean that our eye perceives the sunlight as
    it interacts with the gas molecules in the atmosphere.
    Objector: No! You are so silly! You have no evidence.

    Note that the 'evidence' of the Claimant is a defining of terms. The Objector's objections have nothing to do with a lack of evidence; instead the objections appear to be born of an unwillingness to maturely respond and a need to fantasize about his own superiority.
    Welcome to the fray, Anonymous #2. Perhaps you have an objection to the term 'worship'? This might lead to some real discussion, but around here it seems that that is not the priority.
    P.S. Claims can be refuted. It's harder than calling bullshit but I'm sure if you try...

    Anonymous #3: Most Atheists, when pressed, do not actually claim that God does not exist, for the simple reason that they don't need to. They usually have more firm ground if they only claim the unlikelihood of God's existence, hence the dragon in the pants analogy. Now, in practice, every atheist that I know of concludes (in his heart) that God does not exist, even though they rarely officially make the claim. This relieves them of having to prove anything, while allowing them to hold to a position on the issue. You see, it's a win/win for the atheist.

    Tim: Perhaps you can tell me why my more recent comments have not posted. ?

  9. Wassup, Antonia!! Hey, how come YOU get to define my dragon? Did I ever assert any of the properties you assigned to it? Come on now. What you have presented is a carefully drafted strawman. Congratulations. You are now as proficient as Tim at making an argument that fails before you state it fully.

    Here's what I like:

    "You might ask why we do not try and measure God or his God-ness. That is because God and God-ness is uncreated (at least that’s the claim being made by most Christians). Only created things have scientifically measurable properties. "

    Now try this:

    "You might ask why we do not try and measure the dragon in my pants or his dragon-ness. That is because the dragon in my pants or dragon-ness is uncreated (at least that’s the claim being made by most Draconians). Only created things have scientifically measurable properties. "

    See what I did there? Now, if you want to make an argument that REALLY destroys the dragon idea, you need to make sure it does not also destroy your god. By the same token, if you present an argument for your god, you ought to make sure I can't use it to prove my dragon is real.

    And that, my dear, is my point. Tim asked me to disprove god. He asked that because I take the uncommon public position that I believe god is imaginary. If, by this stance, you want me to disprove god, I ask you to first disprove my dragon. Then, I'll use your method to disprove god. Until that time comes, I dub YOU an a-draconist. Seem silly?

    Finally, Tim defined worship as "adoring reverence or regard." He gave a few examples of what I could worship, but failed to provide evidence this is the case. When I presented my argument that everyone is skeptical of something, it MUST be true. You could be skeptical of nothing else but the statement "everyone is skeptical about something" and the statement would still be true. That's how you back up a claim.

    and by the way, Tim: This new format SUX!! :(

  10. Tim,

    I agree with Andrew. This new format is terrible!

    Andrew darling,

    Fear not. I never attempted to destroy your Dragon. I meant the little guy no harm whatsoever. I just assumed your premises about him and reached a conclusion. You never said that your dragon was uncreated and therefore he does not have properties which are only attributed to created beings. That is an entirely different ballgame. Are you in fact claiming such?

    I have to admit I giggled a little when you tried to teach me how to back up a claim. Sometimes you're so damn cute, Andy. Anyway, I agree everyone is skeptical. No need to back anything up.

    Now, what is this you say? Tim has asked you to disprove God!?! What an absurd thing to ask. Let me personally tell you that you can stop worrying your little head about it. It can't be done. The best you can do is to try and prove that the existence of God is unlikely, unreasonable, or unnecessary. Still, even if you are successful in accomplishing any of these things you will still not be able to positively say that God does not exist. And here is why: even very unlikely, unnecessary, and seemingly unreasonable things happen to be true. Dawkins argues as much in The Blind Watchmaker.

    Thinking back to your Dragon, if he has created properties (mass, etc.) then he can be disproved using measures of created properties. For example, odor- a created property- can be measured and tested using created instruments. Holiness, on the other hand, cannot be measured using such methods because holiness is an uncreated property of God. We just don’t have a measuring stick for uncreated things. It’s like asking you to come up with the color of my shoes except you can only use your nose. Since color doesn’t have properties of odor, the method just doesn’t work. You aren’t the only person to make this mistake. Really, really smart dudes make the same mistake sometimes too. Stephan Hawking recently said on a television program that time, itself, is created (came from nonexistence/nothingness into existence) and since there was no time for God to exist in, “before” there was such a thing as time, God does not exist. I almost choked to death when my 12-year-old daughter said, “well, duh, we’ve always claimed that God exists outside of time.” Silly physicist.

  11. I'm sure that by now you are scratching your head and thinking that theists are left in a predicament. They cannot prove the existence of God either, given that all they have to work with is creation, and you are right for thinking this. Neither I nor anyone else can prove by scientific standards (methods that measure created properties) that God exists. The good thing is that most Christians aren't trying to do that; they'd look pretty silly. Okay, I've got to be honest here. Some silly Christians do attempt this and i just shake my head and go on.

    By the way, did you bother with trying to understand the difference between God as supreme being and God as beyond being and God as non-being? It is an important difference in theological discussions about God. I could recommend some reading if you like.

    I noticed that you make a point to stress that you hold to a position that God is imaginary (he does not exist) and that this position is uncommon. Let me share with you (sharing not arguing or proving anything here) that ‘uncommon’ is not the same as ‘unpopular’. Your position is common enough in that it is well known and understood and accepted as one of many options. It is not popular in that greater numbers of people hold to other positions. The most popular position currently seems to be a truly non-religious one. They don't ever give God a second thought. They are in some respects free of God. Ironically, Atheists are often obsessed with God. For those who hold the more popular position, all of this is a non-issue. They are the growing numbers who are not associated with any group. They might consider themselves to be agnostic or spiritual or natural. They are lukewarm. You might like my comment to anonymous #3. It fits with your unpopular position quite nicely. A positive claim without having positive proofs, militant atheists are as logically sound as Fundamentalist Christians.

    As far as worship goes, it might be as easy as asking. Do you give adoring reverence or regard to anything? perhaps another person? your family? yourself? the Indy Colts? The idea here is that all persons find intrinsic value in something (I propose it is usually the self) and so they willingly sacrifice and make offerings to/for that something. The something need not be divine in order to be worshiped unless you hold to a very narrow definition, which is completely fine, just say so.

    Well, boys, it’s been fun but I have more important things to write about now. I might see you around the way.

  12. Oh looky!! More strawmen from Antonia! Sweet. Oh and look!! Tim changed the format! Hm.. He must be watching this discussion to formulate his next post.

    "Still, even if you are successful in accomplishing any of these things you will still not be able to positively say that God does not exist. And here is why: even very unlikely, unnecessary, and seemingly unreasonable things happen to be true. Dawkins argues as much in The Blind Watchmaker."

    Dawkins' argument about the blind watchmaker is EXACTLY how unlikely things are true. They happen through natural processes, not supernatural ones. We can understand, experiment and verify them. For suggested reading, you could try your own source.

    "[There] are the growing numbers who are not associated with any group. They might consider themselves to be agnostic or spiritual or natural. They are lukewarm."

    I've never met a "lukewarm" agnostic, spiritual or natural person. Further, I claim that agnostics do not exist. Every self-described agnostic I've met was really a weeny atheist or weeny theist. But even still, they were not lukewarm. I do find that they tend to combine the ideas from many faiths into one of their own.

    "A positive claim without having positive proofs, militant atheists are as logically sound as Fundamentalist Christians."

    Militant? Seriously? Please. How militant would you say your disbelief in unicorns is? Would you say you militantly believe elves are not real? Is militant the way you describe your position on hydras? And yet, would you not say you would make the positive claim that elves, hydras and unicorns are imaginary? Is it easier to swallow the cognitive dissonance when it is a chaser to more familiar god claims?

  13. Drew,
    I pray your semester is getting off to a great start. It is always good to hear from you. I’ll admit my semester is crazy hectic, but this little blog has been a good stress reliever and an entertaining distraction. My sincere gratitude to you and Tim for the indulgence. Now to the business at hand.
    If I have constructed a strawman, would you be so kind as to point him out to me? Perhaps you could reconstruct him for me so that I more easily identify him. Perhaps you could write out my arguments and number them for me, like I did your arguments. It would really help me to get it right next time. I never want to be destroying anything that isn’t exactly what the other person first has built.
    It seems you aren't understanding what is meant by the term 'lukewarm'. It means that a person is too weenie to go one way or the other. They just won't pick a side, make a stand, or associate with any one group or position. I agree with you; most agnostics are weenies.
    Weenies (neither hot nor cold) abound! <---that's my point.
    Certainly! Dawkins is discussing natural processes, but you seemed to have yet again missed the point. Showing something to be unlikely does not ipso facto mean that it is not true. On this point Dawkins and I agree. The fact that he is talking about physical things and I am talking about metaphysical things doesn’t change the argument. Unless you want to, at the very start, state as a rule that unlikely metaphysical things can't be true, and then go on to "prove" that a metaphysical thing is unlikely, and therefore untrue. That would be kinda’ silly though.
    I seemed to have hit a nerve with my militant comment. Sorry about that. But I'm sure you wouldn't mind it so much if you understood the meaning behind the word. It means combative, engaged in war. Would you not agree that your motivations reveal a close relationship to the word? If not, my deep and sincere apologies. I actually don't mind being called a militant. Christians have historically employed the word, referring to ourselves as the Church Militant. As you may already know we do consider ourselves in a kind of war, albeit a spiritual one.

  14. Next.
    To answer your questions about imaginary creatures, I have made positive claims that they don’t exist. I’ve never been challenged to provide proof about my positive claim. If I were challenged I’d probably just roll my eyes, conclude that the person is a nut, and go on with my life, never giving it a second thought. I doubt I would devote my every waking moment thinking about that person who challenged me or about the creatures themselves. However if, and this is a big if, I couldn’t stop myself from trying to disprove imaginary creatures, I’d do my best to understand exactly what the imaginary creatures are supposed to be. Only then could I know what I’m trying to disprove. For instance if someone said that elves lived in the North Pole, I could look at satellite images of the North Pole. See if there were cities or signs of life, etc. etc. You see this would be possible because the North Pole is a physical space, elves (as far as I know) take up physical space, and so physical modes of measurement could be utilized to prove/disprove their existence. When discussing God, he does not reside in the North Pole, so, (as I explained before) you can’t prove/disprove his physical existence. Maybe you are tired of this argument, but so far it doesn’t seem that you understand what I am saying at all. So, again, I ask. Do you know the difference between these:

    supernatural=supreme being
    supernatural=beyond being
    Your dragon, your elf, your unicorn, your hydras are all fun to talk about but they are nowhere near as bold a claim as God. You equate them all because you have failed to actually understand the gravity of what is being claimed. It’s much more outlandish than those creatures, much more awesome, much more extreme, much more beyond our comprehension. At least show some respect to the great minds of history (greater than mine and yours put together) that have pondered the idea of the Divine with seriousness and reason, ending up on either side of the argument. Andrew, I say this for your benefit, if you want to be taken seriously you must spend more time understanding the arguments and responding accordingly, rather than strutting around like the atheist equivalent of a drag queen compared to a real woman.