Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Facebook Arguments And Scarecrows

Today, as I am wont to do, I got into a Facebook argument. It went about as well as it could have, but the person arguing with me had a very set idea in his mind of what an atheist is. I present the argument below. It started with my comment on a friends post about the Governor Perry prayer thing.

  • Revrnd Skyler Dudley I watched the clip of Rachel Maddow going over this thing. It's scary that they are trying to intertwine religion and political policies.
    5 hours ago · 

  • Kim Every person has a religion and religious beliefs. For that reason, there is no way to separate them.
    5 hours ago · 

  • Revrnd Skyler Dudley I have no religion or religious beliefs. It's not impossible to separate them, either. Catholic Govener Quinn has told the Catholic Church in Illinois if they won't play ball with the civil union thing, they won't have their licenses renewed for adoption services. He has gone against his faith to say that discrimination will not be tolerated, or funded by the state.
    5 hours ago · 

  • Kim 
    Again, I state, everybody has religious beliefs. Do you believe in God? By answering yes OR no, you have just expressed a religious belief. Is there an afterlife? By answering yes OR no, you have just expressed a religious belief.

    Your illustration about Catholic Governor Quinn means nothing. It simply says that he values something else (gay rights or the rule of law or his sense of justice or something) above what he values adoption/marriage values.

    Secular humanism and atheism are religions. They require faith, have a system of beliefs, values and morals, describe where man came from and where man is going. They exhibit every characteristic of a religion.

    5 hours ago · 

  • Revrnd Skyler Dudley 
    Secular humanism and atheism are religions like bald is a hair color. They do not require any faith. We use science, testable evidence, etc. I know of no collection of beliefs for Humanists other than be good, certainly not religious beliefs that require the supernatural. Humanism and atheism also do not claim to know where man came from or where he is going. We are mature enough to say that we don't know, but we are looking in to it.

    Just because I don't believe in god or an afterlife does not make those religious beliefs. From the evidence I have seen and gathered and read, I see no way they can exist. That's fact-based reasoning, not supernatural reasoning. I'm sorry, but your semantic booby trap is easily seen, and disarmed.

    My illustration of Governor Quinn means everything. He ignored the tenets of his faith to do the right thing. That is separating your religion from your politics. It doesn't matter if he values gay marriage, the fact remains. He separated his religious feelings from his politics. Trying to deny that is silly.

    4 hours ago · 

  • Kim  
    utter balderdash... It takes tremendous faith to believe, for instance, that man evolved from the lowest life forms. There is no way you can have "testable evidence" because we are talking about history, unless you have a time machine and can go back and observe what happened. The transitionary fossils don't exist, but scientist take it by faith that they must have been there.

    You have put your faith, hope and trust in the "fact" that there is no God, no afterlife, no accountability, and no supernatural. I have put my faith, hope, and trust in the "fact" that there is a God, I will face Him after I die and be accountable to Him, and the natural world we see is not the only reality.

    4 hours ago · 

  • Revrnd Skyler Dudley 
    Oh boy.....

    Look, there are plenty of transitional fossils,​ki/List_of_transitional_fo​ssils. Technically, all fossils are transitional. Evolution is a constant thing. It takes no faith to observe evolution, the evidence is all around. I know that is a wikipedia link, so you will most likely discredit it, but it does provide it's sources. Feel free to look at them.

    I have put no faith into anything, again your semantic booby trap is easily seen and disarmed. I trust the evidence, because it holds up to testing etc. If we don't have an answer yet, I'm OK with saying "I don't know" instead of "God must have done it!". I have trust in evolutionary theory because we have evidence it works. this is not the same faith you are talking about. You are attempting to use 2 definitions of the same word to make it out that I have an equally (in)valid way of sorting fact and fiction. You are using the definition for religion. You have faith because without it, there is no 'evidence' for god. I have 'faith' in things, I suppose, However its based on trust and previous action. "I have 'faith' my friends will continue to be good people." This is because I have observed that they are good people, not because a book tells me they must be. You see? 2 different definitions.

    As far as accountability, WTF? Is this a subtle way to say I'm immoral? You really should just come out and say it, if it is what you are implying, or not bring it up at all. I have my fellow humans to be accountable to. I have to deal with the consequences of my actions just like anyone else. If I actively try to do harm, I will have to answer for that in the courts. I'm sorry to inform you but there is no reason I can't be good without god, and I don't need a supernatural father figure to scare me into good behavior. It's not moral or good to the right thing because you are afraid of a spanking (hell) and you want a cookie (heaven).

    4 hours ago · 

  • Kim 
    The evidence is sketchy at best.

    I totally agree with you that doing the "right" thing because you are afraid or want a cookie is not moral or good.

    I don't see two definitions at all. Neither position has full, conclusive evidence. Christian faith, properly defined, IS based on evidence, but, just like humanist or atheist faith, fills in the gaps in evidence with a trust that the system makes the most sense and best explains the way things are. Only a fool would content that their system (whether Christian or not) has absolutely conclusive evidence.

    I have studied both creationism and evolution, as described by those who know it best, and I believe, based on the facts and based on my worldview, that Biblical creationism best describes the way things are and the way things have come to be. You can believe differently, based on the facts and based on your worldview, but what you can't do (and be intellectually honest) is say that my belief is irrational and yours is not. The facts are not the question. I see the facts and interpret them one way, based on my worldview and presuppositions. You see the facts and interpret them another way, based on your worldview and presuppositions. Neither of us is truly objective. Nobody is...

    In regards to your somewhat irrational comments about accountability, I was, in no way, saying that you are immoral or that you don't expect to be held accountable for your actions. I was simply referring to the fact that atheists do not believe there is a "higher power" or "ultimate judge" to whom they must give account after death.

    2 hours ago · 

  • Kim 
    Back to the original of religious influence on politicians, I still maintain that every person has religious beliefs that affect the way they govern. So, a person who is a Christian and a legislator believes that all people have value, as defined by God and because they are created in God's image, including the unborn, so they work to make laws to limit or outlaw abortion. That is a religious view impacting political decisions. On the other hand, you have a legislator who is an atheist, believes that man is a product of evolution, that the product of conception has no value until we define that it has value, works to pass a utilitarian law for the convenience of the mother. That is also a religious view impacting political decisions. I see no difference.

    2 hours ago · 

  • Revrnd Skyler Dudley 
    I can be intellectually honest in saying that science is rational and religion is not. Religion has dogma, science changes as it learns. I can be entirely intellectually honest when I say creationism is irrational and willfully ignorant of the facts. I have never said science has all the answers, quite the contrary. I said science is mature enough to say it doesn't know. The facts are the question. They are what they are, there is not several definitions of truth. There is only truth. Science attempts to find it with evidence, research, and testing. Religion claims to already have it.

    Again, atheists don't have faith as you define the word. We have faith based of testable evidence, not hope. Please stop referring to atheism or humanism as religions, because they aren't, as much as you want them to be. It requires zero faith for me to disbelieve in god. (If not, then you also participate in many religions, since you don't believe in Zeus, Allah, Odin, etc. That must take a lot of faith!)

    I don't believe my comments on accountability were irrational. We are having a discussion on the internet where it is hard to determine what voice anything was written in. Go back and read your comments on accountability and tell me you can't see how that could be taken the way I took it. And you are correct, atheists don't believe in a higher power to judge us.

    Back to the original topic. Atheists don't make decisions based on religious views, WE DON"T HAVE ANY! You keep making these claims that because religion has something to say on a subject that it makes anything an atheist says on that topic a religious view point as well. That is absurd! I could say the same thing about sports. An athlete has an opinion on the economy, so any choices anyone makes on the economic crisis were sports opinions! And it is possible to separate a persons religious views from his politics. I don't think many politicians care to, but it is entirely possible. My example of Governor Quinn shows this to be the case.

    about an hour ago · 

  • Kim If you are unwilling to accept that highly intelligent people have looked at the facts and researched the science and honestly come to the conclusion that creationism makes more sense than evolution, that creationism is irrational "willfully ignorant of the facts", and "science is rational and religion is not", then there remains no place for a discussion and I begin to wonder who is the one decreeing dogma.
    about an hour ago · 

  • Revrnd Skyler Dudley I'm sure there are highly intelligent people who think creationism is right, but the overwhelming majority of scientists in the world take evolution as fact. They do so because it has evidence to back it up. Were evolution to be completely disproven, I would have no problems in changing my mind.
    about an hour ago · 

  • James
    A belief that life sprung up from where there was no life by sheer chance out of some primortial ooze, surviving, multiplying, and evolving into ants, dinosaurs, monkeys, chickens and every other creature on the planet takes alot more faith than any religion I have ever read about. And not only that but plant life also came from this primortial ooze and evolved into trees, grass, seaweed and every other form of plant life on the planet? Science is important but facts and theories are two different things. And you need very strong faith to believe in God or to not believe in God.

    23 minutes ago · 

  • Revrnd Skyler Dudley 
    Sigh... You don't need faith to not believe, why can't theists get that? I don't have 'faith' that there is no god, I Just haven't seen any evidence for him. Do you have 'faith' that there is no Zeus? Please stop telling me what I have or don't have.

    In science, a theory is not the same as a theory in everyday slang. Example, I say "I have a theory as to why Billy is such a jerk." that's the colloquial usage. Science would say "I have a hypothesis as to why Billy is such a jerk." A theory, in science, is a set of rules that can be used to make predictions and that have yet to proven wrong. Like gravity. Gravity is just a theory, but not 'believing' in it does not make one float away.

    It is quite awe inspiring to look at the diversity of life and realize, though the chances were so small, that it happened and it happened naturally. It takes no faith to examine the evidence. We have the fossil record, which is much larger today than it ever has been, and we have DNA. Through genetics we have found that all life on this planet shares a portion of their genetics, a fact that is predicted with evolutionary theory. Also, for the formation of life you are looking at a branch of science called Abiogenesis. They have a few ideas as to how life developed, but it's still a relatively young science. Evolution does not attempt to say where life originated, it simply explains the diversity of it.

    6 minutes ago · 

  • Revrnd Skyler Dudley Also, I am completely comfortable with saying that I don't know how life developed. It seems less silly than a magic man who made everything in 6 days, and made man from dirt.
    about a minute ago · 

There are a couple of things that struck me about this argument.

First, Kim seems to have a very set idea of what atheists are. He sets up a scarecrow (or straw man, but I like calling them scarecrows). To him we are another religion, and it takes more faith to not believe. This is patently absurd. It takes no faith to not believe. I feel my argument above adequately points out that absurdity. He also attempts to use the 'faith' semantic booby trap, which is very easily torn apart. However he fails to recognize what he is doing even after I point it out. To him, I still have 'faith'. It's ignorant and condescending. You don't get to define my beliefs, or what they mean, for me. You may believe in a god and religion, but that doesn't mean everyone has to. A worldview does not have to be religious by default.

Next, Kim seems to think I'm going to let him get away with saying both of our beliefs may be equally irrational. I'm not a polite or accommodating atheist. I don't play well with others when they claim their hocus pocus is perfectly rational, but science is dogmatic. I don't allow people to be willfully ignorant of the evidence, and then tell me I got the answer wrong. I admit science isn't perfect, but it has a system to add new information and get rid of incorrect information. Religion sticks to its dogma.

Finally, At the end of the discussion he accuses me of using the same tactics that he does, i.e. dogma. This is a common tactic I have seen when theists argue with me. Let's accuse atheists of being just like us! It doesn't work, and it's not true.  I go with the evidence, and if it's refuted I will be happy to change opinions. With his creationism it is clear that no evidence will change his mind. That is dogmatic. It irks me so that they don't have a clear grasp of what evolution is, but say it's wrong. Read a fucking biology book! Learn what the theory actually states!

My reason for posting this is to show that there are still people who can't wrap their minds around atheism. It's impossible for them to get that I am a non-believer. So they make things up, misrepresent facts, and refuse to listen, instead choosing to tell me what my atheism is. I don't tell theists what there religion is, I let them tell me what they believe. I have no problems with most theists, but I do have problems with people who look down on me and attempt to tell me what my beliefs are. I have problems with people who choose to ignore and distort evidence because it doesn't fit in their world view.

So ya, that was the argument I got in today. (Notice how I didn't touch on abortion. That is whole new can of worms). It was much fun!

(Sorry about the break in the argument. Nothing was omitted or edited, I just had issues with copy/paste)

This is the part of the argument that took place after my post here.

    • Kim An eternal, all-powerful being who could create everything in 6 seconds if He wanted seems less silly to me than life starting from nothing with no personality and somehow transforming slowly over billions of years into consciousness, personality and determination. See? It all depends on your point of view and worldview. One is just as valid as the other, depending on where you start.
      about an hour ago · 

    • Revrnd Skyler Dudley The difference being there is evidence for the natural process of evolution, and no evidence for the existence of any god, let alone the Christian god. They aren't equally valid.
      56 minutes ago · 

    • Kim I could say the same thing, because my studies over the last 30 years have convinced me that there is no evidence for macro evolution and significant evidence that the Bible, in its entirety is true. You decreeing that there is no evidence for the existence of God does not make it so.
      53 minutes ago · 

    • Revrnd Skyler Dudley 
      I would like to see this evidence. the bible doesn't count, as it can't offer proof of it own veracity (that would make it a tautology). Also, personal experiences aren't valid evidence either, there is no way to replicate or study them. I want outside sources that prove every part of the bible is true, as you claim.

      Also, do you think that micro-evolution is real? I don't want to make any assumptions about your beliefs.

      49 minutes ago · 

    • Kim Micro evolution is self-evident and Biblical creationists have never argued against it. Micro evolution is the change that happens within a species, like distinct breeds of dogs evolving. What I don't see evidence for is one species transforming into another.

      I would refer you to:

      44 minutes ago · 

    • Revrnd Skyler Dudley all macro-evolution is is micro-evolution over a long period of time. Again, the fossil record holds many 'transitional' forms.

      Neither of those groups has the evidence I asked for. Both have been refuted by science as being incorrect.

      41 minutes ago · 

    • Kim That's what I thought...
      40 minutes ago · 

    • Revrnd Skyler Dudley I still want your evidence for the bible being 100% correct. Also, how can a book with so many contradiction be 100% correct?
      39 minutes ago · 

    • Kim 
      My perception is that you aren't interested in the facts. You have your mind made up (you might say the same about me) and nothing will change it. I referred you to some information, which I am sure you have not read, and you write it off.If I referred you to a book, like Josh McDowell's "Evidence That Demands a Verdict", you probably have some reason why that wasn't worth looking at. BTW, Josh McDowell started his research, as a skeptic, to disprove the Bible. He was intellectually honest, though, and ended up changing his mind completely when he saw the evidence.

      27 minutes ago · 

    • Revrnd Skyler Dudley 
      I dismissed those web sites because I have already seen them shot down. Was it just that book that lead you to believe in the bibles veracity? If it has compelling evidence I would take that into consideration. I'm always willing to re-evaluate.

      You also didn't answer my, I believe, legitimate question on how the bible could be 100% true with all the contradictions in it.​brary/modern/jim_meritt/bi​ble-contradictions.html

      20 minutes ago · 

    • Kim 
      No, I have read many books, both for and against the veracity of the Bible. I have read the Bible through many times and have looked at many of those so-called contradictions. Most come from an obvious and basic misunderstanding of the meaning and purpose of the message of the Bible. I have no interest in going through them.

      The bottom line is that one believes what one wants to believe and what justifies one's lifestyle. I am completely satisfied, both emotionally and intellectually, with my choice of belief and lifestyle. If you are as well, I wish you the best.

      11 minutes ago · 

    • Revrnd Skyler Dudley Thank you for the well wishes and the discussion! I wish you the best as well!
      9 minutes ago · 


  1. I will update this argument as it goes on if anyone wants to see it.

  2. I would be interested in reading more. According to anthropologists, atheism is not a religion. I've got my text book somewhere that describes all the many reasons why. Of course, with his willful ignorance about such topics as science he probably wouldn't believe it anyway.
    It's people like that, though, that give religious people a bad name. Do they not realize it is completely possible, and acceptable to many scientists and religious leaders to combine evolution and creationism. I think that the idea would be that the creator set up the motions and then evolution took over after that, but I wouldn't presume to speak for everyone, merely point out that it is possible. Of course, that also requires someone to not interpret the Bible or whatever literally so....
    I won't even start on the whole "Everyone has a religion so their viewpoints must all have a religious influence". Thank you, but I am perfectly capable of holding two different viewpoints at the same time. I can look at something through my own personal worldview but yet I can also look at that same situation and realize that my worldview is not the same as everyone else and so can make decisions that are contrary to what my worldview might tell me.
    I think you are dealing with someone who is intentionally pig headed, unfortunately.

  3. I can't seem to make the text black. Sorry about that.

    I feel he is trying to justify what he has already decided to be true. Oh well.

  4. It was just getting interesting too...

  5. I know! I kinda felt like he decided he was taking his ball and going home. But that's OK, I'm sure there will be another opportunity soon, there always is!