Begging the Question Fallacy #2

#Atheist #atheism

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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.

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.

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.

Your authority…what I really think

#atheist #atheism -

One thing I’ve discovered talking to believers, is they’re often quickly discomforted by the fact I don’t take them at their word.  To me, this seems to be a given. It seems to be a hard thing for them to accept. 

I think I understand why.  A believer is coming from a community where they do have authority.  In that community, their knowledge and claims are treated with respect- because in that community, the believer has obtained a degree of authority. And it’s hard to let go of that.  The result is that many Christians or Mulsims I’ve debated, just start by assuming I will concede they have a similar degree of authority.

Well, let me burst your bubble. Outside your community- in the bright light of the internet- your authority counts for squat- nada- nothing- zero.  I’m not going take you at your word for anything.  If you want me to treat you as an authority on these issues, you have to start from scratch.  You have to establish the veracity of your claims with solid evidence. Your word is not going to suffice.

Stepwise formation of the bacterial flagellar system

#evolution
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Every so often, some creationist will come out with the claim that flagellum of the bacteria is an irreducibly complex system.  This points to a dead-Jew on a stick designing it- I mean, an unspecified intelligent creator (wink, wink)- designing it. 

The only problem is that we know that the flagellum is not irreducibly complex. It can be shown to form in a stepwise fashion as per the article attached.

Of course, it does seem that it would be easier to find another way to leave a biological clue for design than the flagellum of a bacterium.  That creator is such a tease…

I am not an evolutionist

#evolution #atheist #atheism -

Until I got on to the web and started interacting with creationists again, I’d never heard this term before.  Lets be clear- I reject it, utterly and totally. 

I am a biologist, not an evolutionist.  That means I’ve spent years at University getting an advanced education.  That means a lot of practical work in the field and in the lab.  It means that I know the difference between a monkey and an ape. I have traveled to, and worked on 4 different continents with a variety of wildlife.  In the course of this work, I have discovered and published things.  I have been exposed to various hazards along the way. I have lost colleagues to fatal diseases and accidents.

At no point in time, have I taken a course in evolutionism.  There are no journals on evolutionism.  There are no academic or government positions that have evolutionist as the title.  The term only exists as a pejorative attempt by creationists to create the fiction that an entire scientific discipline is a mere dogma.

If your claims are built entirely on what you have read on creationist websites and sources, then your beliefs are dogmatic.  There is no symmetry between creationism and biology. Until you get off your arses, stop trying to appropriate other people’s research, and start doing your own, not one iota of credit can be given to the creationist view.

So your god created the universe?

- #atheist #atheism -

The cosmological argument for god seems to be quite popular amongst theists. I guess if you’re going to conjure a proof for god, it’s hard to beat finding one that occurred about 14 bn years in the past. Because all that evidence is so clear cut now right…

Okay, so clearly you’re an expert on cosmology and have a solid grasp of the nature of space-time, quantum-mechanics and general relativity.  I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you haven’t learned all your physics of some creationist website.  You’re not going to make elementary errors like assuming that time is an absolute metric. Or tell me that the big-bang is an explosion. Because that just means I can dismiss your claim based on your transparent ignorance.

So, here’s what I need you to do to make your claim the universe was created by your god credible:

Question 1: How many dimensions are there to the universe?


Ok, this should be easy.  The creator god exists in some dimension outside space-time of this universe.  Clearly you have information on the nature of the universe that has baffled physicists for decades.  So, tell me how many dimensions there are, which one your god is located in, and the scientific proof you have for this number. 

Question 2: When was the universe created?


Again, this should be simple.  Clearly you have been able to solve the Hawking-Hartle no-boundary condition and can identify the exact moment the universe was created.  Please tell me when that was and the scientific proof you have used.

Question 3: Elimination of natural causes

A quantum-fluctuation (a pertubation to the quark/antiquark balance in a singularity) is recognised as a feasible and natural mechanism by which a universe could start a big-bang expansion. Please supply your proof of why this is actually impossible.

Question 4: Elimination of alternatives

Expansion of a big-bang singularity is not the only explanation we have for the universe.  There are also ekpyrotic models which describe endless cycles.  As physics has not been able to eliminate these alternative models, please supply the scientific proof that has so far eluded all of these cosmologists.

- #atheist #atheism -There seems to be a type of theist, who will bombard you with reasons why atheism is wrong as soon as you identify as an atheist. This is very tiresome as it usually doesn’t deal at all, with my objections to your claim that gods exist. Let me try to break it down.
Atheism only means I do not accept your claim that gods exist.  It is defined only by this claim. It starts and stops at this point.
Atheism doesn’t mean I believe the universe was created from nothing. Technically, that is the belief of the Abrahamic religions. As an atheist, I make no claims about the origin of the universe. (And a big-bang singularity isn’t nothing).
Atheism doesn’t mean I think my existence is all down to blind chance. Atheism makes no claims about the origin of the human species. Evolutionary biology does make claims, but doesn’t rely upon blind chance. There’s a reason the term ‘selection’ appears in ‘natural selection’. It’s because it’s selective, not random. See the obvious clue?
Atheism doesn’t mean my life has no meaning. I get plenty of satisfaction from my friends and family, and the work I do with wildlife. If being devoted to your family isn’t enough for you, then that’s not my problem is it?
Atheism doesn’t mean I’m a nihilist or a Marxist.  It just means one thing. I cannot accept your claim that gods exist on the basis of the supplied evidence.
 See, all very simple. The only thing you can deduce if I’m an atheist, is I haven’t accepted your claim that your god exists. There is nothing else about the nature of the world, the universe or the meaning of life you can infer from that label. Any arguments that presume my atheism goes beyond that rejection of your claim, is simply fallacious. So it’s actually very simple.  All you have to do to prove my atheism is erroneous, is prove your god exists.

- #atheist #atheism -

There seems to be a type of theist, who will bombard you with reasons why atheism is wrong as soon as you identify as an atheist. This is very tiresome as it usually doesn’t deal at all, with my objections to your claim that gods exist.

Let me try to break it down.

  • Atheism only means I do not accept your claim that gods exist.  It is defined only by this claim. It starts and stops at this point.
  • Atheism doesn’t mean I believe the universe was created from nothing. Technically, that is the belief of the Abrahamic religions. As an atheist, I make no claims about the origin of the universe. (And a big-bang singularity isn’t nothing).
  • Atheism doesn’t mean I think my existence is all down to blind chance. Atheism makes no claims about the origin of the human species. Evolutionary biology does make claims, but doesn’t rely upon blind chance. There’s a reason the term ‘selection’ appears in ‘natural selection’. It’s because it’s selective, not random. See the obvious clue?
  • Atheism doesn’t mean my life has no meaning. I get plenty of satisfaction from my friends and family, and the work I do with wildlife. If being devoted to your family isn’t enough for you, then that’s not my problem is it?
  • Atheism doesn’t mean I’m a nihilist or a Marxist.  It just means one thing. I cannot accept your claim that gods exist on the basis of the supplied evidence.

 See, all very simple. The only thing you can deduce if I’m an atheist, is I haven’t accepted your claim that your god exists. There is nothing else about the nature of the world, the universe or the meaning of life you can infer from that label.

Any arguments that presume my atheism goes beyond that rejection of your claim, is simply fallacious. So it’s actually very simple.  All you have to do to prove my atheism is erroneous, is prove your god exists.

- #atheist #atheism -
And today’s rule is to make it clear that dragging your neighbours off to be tortured and immolated for the fictional crime of witchcraft, really isn’t allowed.  I can’t see killing people for madeup reasons is the sort of thing a supreme entity would command.  It’d be a pretty dick-move if you did.

- #atheist #atheism -

And today’s rule is to make it clear that dragging your neighbours off to be tortured and immolated for the fictional crime of witchcraft, really isn’t allowed.  I can’t see killing people for madeup reasons is the sort of thing a supreme entity would command.  It’d be a pretty dick-move if you did.