Begging the Question Fallacy #2

#Atheist #atheism


This is another very popular fallacy that I’ve frequently had employed on me.  It becomes a fallacy because at no point in the argument, does the proponent support their premises.  They find ways to restate their claims (religious doctrines) so that the argument they use, just gets repeated.  It is sometimes known as the circular argument fallacy.

There are many examples of this type of theist reasoning.

Example 1: The theist claims their god created the universe. When asked for evidence to support this, they claim everything around me qualifies as evidence.  This has simply restated their original claim. God created the universe therefore the universe proves god exists.

Example 2: The theist claims that god is the source of all things good and wonderful. If I ask why therefore bad things happen (like the Haitian earthquake or babies getting cancer) I’m told this is caused by Satan, or Demons, or our sinful nature etc.  This is just a restatement of their religious doctrines. Neither any evidence to support their god or some demonic force is ever produced.  It is utterly circular.  Good things come from god, bad things come from Satan. All bases are now covered.

Anonymous asked
Atheism Plus. What says you -- good thing or crock of shit? @Leftymatt

Well, from perspective of someone living a long long way from the epicentre, it seems to resemble a US squabble, and is destined to die a slow, lingering death. I haven’t seen any wider acceptance of the campaign, and I’m not persuaded there is the leadership to make it work.  I haven’t really bothered following the machinations as I don’t think it has a future.

I’m not sure that means I think a crock of shit- more it is set on a path towards irrelevance. Dawkins et al. didn’t become prominent atheists because they were white males. They became prominent because they did the hardwork. They stuck their necks out when atheism was less visible, they endured the threats and insults and they articulated their position. I don’t think this point is well understood. In comparison, having a blog is a pretty tenuous basis to be a “prominent” atheist.

Anonymous asked
OK There's no god, now what?

One is tempted to say that’s been the system all along :) I’d like to live on a planet where people supported the ideals of humanism and societies more akin to liberal democracies.  That does seem to correlate with lack of religious beliefs. 

Faulty Analogy Fallacy #1- God & Air

#Atheist #atheism

The Faulty Analogy fallacy is a common logical mistake, and for that reason, employed with astonishing frequency by theists. Analogies are not a strong argument in the first instance, and the Faulty Analogy inflates this weakness by claiming two things are more alike than they really are.

One instance of this is the argument that because I believe air (or oxygen) even though I can’t see it, it is reasonable to also believe that god exists even though I can’t see this either.

The first problem is we’re not talking about related things.  The god-claim has far more properties to it than just lack of visibility. It branches deep into supernatural properties.  Air and god are not similar things.

The second problem is that is also absurd. It uses a strawman fallacy as well. I accept things exist on the basis of the evidence that support it. I don’t use a visible/invisible criterion.  I accept music exists, not because I can see notes but because I can hear them. Evidence isn’t defined as only that which can be seen.

For this reason, it fails utterly. There is evidence that air (and oyxgen) exist.  Air has many physical properties. Descend rapidly and you’ll notice the air-pressure changes as your ears pop. We map out air-pressure on weather maps. Photographers know that air will change light.  You can see the effect of haze if temperatures are too high.  You can see colour shifts as sunlight hits air at different angles. The low angles of sunrise and sunset accentuate the red tones.

Similarly, you can see oxygen.  In liquid form its actually a pale blue colour.  But it also interacts with iron.  Anytime you see rust forming on iron, you can see oxygen.  It’s combining with the iron atoms to form that orange residue.

Creationists & the faux-Martyr ploy

- #Atheist #evolution

Oddly, there seems to be a perception that creationist claims aren’t accepted in the scientific community because of an antipathy towards religious beliefs.  This is simply not true.  The fact is that many scientists have religious beliefs. I’ll concede that the level of religious belief is lower than the general public and is often less extreme.  Nonetheless, we can identify Christians who have played a significant role in modern biology and research on evolution.  Dobzhansky for instance, was one of the key players in the development of the modern synthesis.

The antipathy in fact comes from the intellectual dishonesty of modern creationists. In the early 1980s the philosopher of science, Ruse, examined ‘creationist science’.  There wasn’t really any.  Rather, creationists would try to appropriate other people’s research. And this was done in an entirely intellectual dishonest way.  Only the parts that could be manipulated and distorted to support a creationist view were taken.  This is one the greatest transgressions against the scientific method one can take.

In short, its not the religious beliefs of creationists that have earned them the opprobrium of the scientific community.  It rather is the sheer laziness of not undertaking their own research, combined with the intellectually corrupt practice of trying to steal the work of others.

Anonymous asked
I've heard the argument that scientifically speaking, humans are both apes and monkeys. Do you agree?


That’s a sort of yes and no answer :)  In a morphological sense, humans are apes and there are many characters that separate apes (Family Hominidae) from monkeys.  These include the flattened rostrum, rounded brain case and closed suborbital bones.

In a cladistic sense, one that emphasises or evolutionary origin then we are catarrhins (we’re nested within the old-world monkeys which all share the downward orientated nostrils- from the middle eocene 45-40mya). But at a higher level we’re also nested within the whole Primate order (63mya). 

So it kind of means what scientific measure you are wanting to employ.  By some measures we are a type of monkey (as are all apes) and by others we are distinct from other monkeys.

Hope that’s not too confusing :)

What Xtians really hear when you ask…

#atheist #atheism

One of the more frustrating things about dialogue with Christians is they never seem to listen to your questions. For example, if you ask

"What evidence do you have that substantiates your claim that god exists?"

they seem to hear

"let’s spend lot’s of time in debating what evidence really means so I can take whatever answers you provide and try to misrepresent them until I think I can spot a tiny gap. At which point allow me to throw a truckload of bullshit at that gap- over your objections of dishonesty- asserting that this meets the standards of evidence.”

If I’m asking for evidence, that’s what I want.  Not a prolonged, agonising exercise in wordplay until you think the opportunity to drop a whole bunch of assertions that aren’t evidence, into the debate as evidence, is created.

There are simple standards of evidence that are used in scientific or legal settings that stress the elements of corroboration and objectivity. That’s the standard you need to reach to make a god-claim credible.

Religious Criticism: The 10 Commandments of Logic


1. Thou shall not attack the person’s character, but the argument. (Ad hominem)

2. Thou shall not misrepresent or exaggerate a person’s argument in order to make them easier to attack. (Straw man fallacy)

3. Thou shall not use small numbers to represent the whole. (Hasty generalization)


@BtheCalvinist - bigbang science

Ok, the short potted version is:
1) a singularity is a super-hot, super-dense object of largely compressed subatomic particles and lots and lots of energy.
2) As it expanded energy was converted to matter based on Einstein’s equation (E=MC2), this rapid process left behind largely hydrogen and helium (one of the predictions is that helium should make up about 25% of the universe’s matter, which has been confirmed).
3) as part of the expansion it created space-time (from relativity theory, space-time is one parameter, not two dimensions). This is why all galaxies are moving away from each other- there’s not a centre- space-time is created as the expansion starts. There is in effect, no void or empty space the singularity was situated. This is also why asking what happened before the big-bang is a bit like asking what’s north of the north-pole. It’s incoherent. (And also why an explosion doesn’t fit- there’s no space for the ‘bit’s to fly into and there’s no ‘centre’).
4) There are several theories as to why the singularity began to expand. One is that there was a quantum fluctuation- the quark/antiquark balance in the singularity was momentarily thrown off balance. This suffices to initiate such an expansion. Another uses gravity. Gravity in special circumstances can be a repulsive, not an attractive force. Such circumstances could have arisen in the singularity. In string-theory we could also employ colliding branes (with the added inference that the universe could be ekyprotic, undergoing an eternal cycle of expansions and collapses). We don’t actually know what the trigger was. We do know that there seems to be several natural ways it could happen however.
5) Once a singularity expands it can be shown it will do so very rapidly. In doing so it should generate a universe that is flat, homogenous and isotropic. These are all the parameters we observe of our current universe.
6)Other evidentiary support for a big-bang expansion is the presence of cosmic background microwave radiation in the universe, a prediction that was famously confirmed in the 1960s.

Anonymous asked
In your opinion, what is the definition of existing or 'to exist'? This isn't meant to be an overly-ambiguous philisophical question-I think its essential to understand your personal definition before you can properly know what you really believe or don't.

I disagree. I think my definition of existing has no relevance to the veracity of belief. 

In my opinion, after seeing the myriads of people slaughtered as result of religious beliefs over the centuries, to have children die today of medical neglect, to be tortured because of accusations of demonic-possession, to be abandoned by the thousands- maimed & sometimes killed- because of the belief about witchcraft, to mutilate their genitals, to threaten them with torture if they don’t believe in gods, to persecute & cause suicides amongst teenagers because they’re gay, or to threaten them with violence if they try to uphold the constitution, it all comes down to this. Religion is a a crime against humanity.  It is a hazard to the mental and physical health of our children.