Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Monday, 9 March 2009

Teaching Pigs To Sing

There's an old saying I like to use: Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

But as I'm halfway through the fast and in a suitably ornery mood, I'll disregard that sage piece of advice for the moment.

I've been reading some atheistic arguments over the last few days and the one thing that sticks out is how moronic they are.

Not the arguments themselves, mind you. Some of them are quite well crafted. I mean the atheists themselves. It takes a great deal of persona disconnect and intellectual blinders to successfully argue that atheism has any merit. Okay, I can live with people who do that. It's when they both deny they're doing it and then condemn religious counterarguments for doing the same thing that really gets me.

Take, for instance, a sampling from this dough head's blog:

Still, he was saying things like "there's no evidence for God's existence", and I'm sure that must have been something of a shock to some of the more religious kids (they sure didn't tell me that in yeshiva. God's existence was always a given.

Well, that's a bit of a broad statement, saying there's no evidence. Are we talking scientific evidence? Okay, got us there. There's no scientific evidence for God's existence. Whoa! Good thing we're a faith-based religion that relies on belief, not scientific evidence.

Or does he mean philosophical evidence? Well he can't because too many great philosophers have contructed excellent metaphysical proofs for God's existence. Yes, yes, I know that most of those arguments rely on you having to believe God exists in the first place but here's the trick: the philosophical proofs for a lack of God's existence, chas v'shalom, rely a priori on you not believing in Him as well. In other words, same card game, different suit.

Never be afraid of the truth

Truth, real honest intellectual inquiry, requires you to check your biases at the door. Most modern science and philosophical inquiry fails at this point because the underlying assumptions of the investigator guide his subsequent research and findings. Someone intent on proving that the Arctic ice cap is melting will prove it. He'll measure the part that's shrinking and dismiss the other part that's not as an anomaly. Someone who wants to prove an absence of the Divine will ignore any philosophical arguments that run counter to his theory. No wonder these kinds of people always think they're right.

You make the ridiculous claim that God exists (he doesn't). There is ZERO evidence for his existence (if there is, do let me know. Or better yet, run it by XGH first, chochom).

XGH is a great example of the intellectual dishonesty I noted earlier. Although he's an excellent writer, all his "proofs" rely on first dismissing all his opponent's arguments. Catch him on an inconsistency and he just denies it's inconsistent without showing why. Waste of time. (See the reference to pigs above)

There is no reason for me to take your claim any more seriously than any other yokel or shmo's claim of any other God, be it Jesus, the tooth fairy, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

This is a common rebuttal from the atheist crowd and it's really quite a simplistic one. Another one out there calls it the "pink unicorn" argument but it's a variation on reducio ad absurdum. The position is quite simple: if you say there's a 50% chance for God existing because He either does or doesn't, then there's also a 50% change that there are invisible pink unicorns flying around my room.

Why does this argument work? For one, just because a particular argument has two potential answers, it doesn't mean both are 50% probable. That works with coin flips but not, for example, with crossing a busy street with your eyes closed. In the former it's pretty much 50% but in the latter, even though you once again reduce the possibilities to two options - you either make it safely across or you don't - it's certainly not a 50-50 proposition either way.

And that's only from a scientific statistic point of view. When you get to God, you're now dealing with faith which skews the issue. If you believe (good for you) then it's 100% probably that He exists because you believe He does. If you don't (dumb ass) then it's 100% that He doesn't.

Secondly, if there did happen to be pink unicorns flying around my room, what would that imply? Well, potentially that I'm psychotic. Okay, say the atheists, all religious people are psychotic.

That doesn't quite work out either though, especially if you've ever met someone who truly is psychotic. Psychosis, as medically defined, is a loss of contact with reality. People who hallucinate about pink flyuing unicorns always have trouble dealing with every other aspect of reality. They cannot interact normally with other people. They cannot think rationally. And they cannot intellectually string together a series of coherent arguments. However, people who passionately believe in God can do all those things. They show no evidence of psychosis.

Finally, all this is a dstraction from the real argument. There may be no evidence that God exists (whatever the word "evidence" may mean) but there is also no evidence it doesn't. Yes, taken that way the argument for Him is pretty weak but when you consider that evey atheist insists that you must accept He isn't out there at the start of every discussion, then you have complete hypocrisy. I can't say He's there but they're allowed to say He isn't. (Once again, see the reference to pigs)

Second of all, something you said reminded me of how when I was very frum, I once wrote an essay/article for school about how Torah is our ultimate source of truth and morality, and if science and Torah disagree, we must follow Torah.

This is one of those fake arguments that really annoys me. Why are so many people obsessed with the supposed conflict between science and Torah? Science is there to teach us how the world works and how we can make a better brand of Silly Putty. Torah is there to teach us the moral value of that Silly Putty. Someone who relies on science as a source of truth and morality inevitable becomes morally cold and advocates for eugenics and other moral crimes against humanity. Setting up a conflict, however, is important for atheists. By evaluating Torah using the physical standards of science, they place it in an intenable position and then declare it defeated. But in a battleground of moral ideas, science cannot possible be considered as anything serious and that's not a defect in the nature of science, just what it is, and what it isn't.

There is nothing that requires a god as an answer, whenever people have used god as an answer in the past, it prevented them from seeing the true answer

Sure there is, but for too many people God is like the parent they never did really love or respect when they were told "no". Having a God that is independent of our personal wants and wishes, who provides us with a legal code that it not modified by the trendy mores of secular liberal society, all of this is reminiscent of the parent who made us eat our vegetables or didn't let us going to that movie because it was too violent. A person truly grows up when he realizes that he was wrong and his parents were right but most people remain children at heart, continuing to resent what their parents put them through, whether it was making them 'fess up and say sorry for something they didn't think they did wrong, or just making them do their homework instead of letting them go to their friends us. On a much more cosmic scale, God fills that role. The emotionally and intellectually mature person accepts that he is limited. There is an authority which knows much more and wants to provide him with benefits. All he need to is follow the rules. And the emotional and intellectual child bucks at that. He rejects God because he doesn't, as it were, want to do his homework to reject God nowadays all you have to do is shout "I don't believe."

No, you see, I happen to think it is true that religion often directly causes people to commit atrocities (What do you think causes and enables Muslim suicide bombers to kill hundreds of people and motivate others to do so, as well? What started and fueled the Spanish Inquisition?

Right, and the Nazis and Communists were not religious movements. Idiot Hitchens' explanation of this little flaw is priceless. Yes, well maybe they were atheists but they turned their political beliefs into religious ones so they started acting like religions.

The sad truth is that religion does not directly cause people to commit atrocities. Megalomaniacs who misuse religion directly cause people to commit atrocities. And most of these megalomanics don't really believe in the principles of their religion, nor do they accept that God could possibly disagree with them. In other words, they're self-worshipping atheists. Oh but that would be inconvenient, wouldn't it.

Yes, as humans, we are biased. The difference is that some of us really try to overcome our biases and see objective reality as best as we can, not the reality that we wish was real, but the reality that is real, while you don't seem to try.

Which brings me full circle to my first point. The old "I'm not biased but I've already decided you are!" argument.

I don't think any of these swine will be singing "Summer of 69" by Pink Floyd tonight for Purim but that's a pity. After all their self-righteous bafflegab, they're the real unhappy ones who are missing out. More pity them.


fakewood inc. said...

wow you really have it out for this dude.

Garnel Ironheart said...

No, actually this "dude" really has it out for me. What you don't know is how many e-mails I've sent him asking him to stop attacking me and to just leave me alone. Since I can't respond to personal attacks on his blog, I see no reason why I can't rebut his idiocies on mine.