1 More Brutal Truth About Atheism

I had orignally considered posting about the atheism undermining the notion of Free Will as one of the 7 Brutal Truths About Atheism but then it would have made it 8 brutal truths, and that didn’t have the same ring to it. Also, I have posted about this earlier, but I think it should be included as an additional consideration here.

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24 Responses to 1 More Brutal Truth About Atheism

  1. Justin says:

    There’s one more brutal conclusion (at least) that I’ve reached in my three years of actively debating with atheists. At its core, atheism is a logically incoherent, childish, and dishonest philosophy. I’m hesitant to post such a statement lest others think I’m acting quite unChrist-like. However, it’s the inevitable conclusion I’ve reached, for several reasons.

    First of which is the atheists’ logical incoherency, especially with respect to morality. Of all of the atheists I’ve met and debated online, perhaps 9 out of 10 or more view morality as both subjective and relative. Just as many contend it is the product of evolution and societal influences, or, as C.S. Lewis put it, the “herd instinct”. I find that atheists, and perhaps people in general, have cheapened the meaning of words, but the ramifications of a “subjective” morality are profound. It means that we simply cannot judge other systems of morality anymore than I can condemn someone’s opinion of Mexican food. It tickles me to see atheists criticize the Christian God (my God) as immoral. They have no logical basis to do so, and they actually argue that they have no basis for doing so, without admitting it. It’s an obviously self-contradictory position to take.

    Secondly, if you’ve debated more than a handful of atheists, you soon come to realize that the most common atheist argument is the appeal to ridicule fallacy. When all else melts away, their moral objections to the Bible laid bare as logically inconsistent, they resort to these types of argument, almost 100% of the time. Great thinkers are not immune, including Dawkins and Hitchens. As if making fun of something disproves it… On a side note, I picked up Peter Hitchens book The Rage Against God and found that book interesting as it presents what conservative Americans have always known, but from a British point of view. It is a very refreshing read.

    Third, science is not on atheism’s side. Like it or not, the authors of the Bible did not invent the cosmology found in the Bible, and the Bible is not a scientific text. The little cosmology found in the Bible was used as found at that time, so that the scripture’s metaphors would make sense to the people the authors addressed. The Bible is simply not a scientific text. That never was its intention, and to set the Bible up as a scientific treatise and then tear it down is a gigantic strawman argument that is all too prevalent in the atheists’ arsenal. It is much rather like disavowing weathermen because the use of the terms “sunrise” and “sunset” imply geocentrism. It’s nonsense, which brings me to my fourth point…

    Atheism excels in building strawmen to attack. If I had to choose between being an atheist or worshipping the god atheists claim I worship, I would undoubtedly choose atheism. In three years of online debate with atheists, I have NEVER come across an atheist who is willing to discuss or debate God as Christians see Him. It’s this persistent use of the strawman fallacy that adds to the juvenile flavor of the atheist position.

    Thanks again for the excellent blog.

  2. jackhudson says:

    Thanks for the comment Justin. I agree that one of the most frequent inconsistencies I run into with atheists is the claim that God is immoral, or that atheists can be as moral as Christians, while denying than any objective measure of morality exists. It’s like claiming one is the tallest person in the world while denying that there is an objective way to measure height.

    I know I have heard similar concerns from Peter Hitchens (who is a Christian), about his brother of Christopher Hitchens in their conversations about morality.

    As far as using ridicule, I think atheists see that as being passionate – they feel that previous attempts at advancing atheism have been too timid, and thus a more aggressive stance is necessary for success. Interestingly, this vociferousness is primarily directed at Christians, who are least likely to respond in kind. One rarely sees it directed at Islam, which I think in part is some evidence of cowardice. Interestingly, in the end what they are undermining isn’t religious belief, but civil society which requires a modicum of respect – not for others beliefs, but for the rules which allow us all to live together.

    A number of good points there.

  3. kenetiks says:

    There’s one more brutal conclusion (at least) that I’ve reached in my three years of actively debating with atheists. At its core, atheism is a logically incoherent, childish, and dishonest philosophy.

    Atheism is not a philosophy.

    First of which is the atheists’ logical incoherency, especially with respect to morality. Of all of the atheists I’ve met and debated online, perhaps 9 out of 10 or more view morality as both subjective and relative. Just as many contend it is the product of evolution and societal influences, or, as C.S. Lewis put it, the “herd instinct”. I find that atheists, and perhaps people in general, have cheapened the meaning of words, but the ramifications of a “subjective” morality are profound. It means that we simply cannot judge other systems of morality anymore than I can condemn someone’s opinion of Mexican food. It tickles me to see atheists criticize the Christian God (my God) as immoral. They have no logical basis to do so, and they actually argue that they have no basis for doing so, without admitting it. It’s an obviously self-contradictory position to take.

    Then you’ve had it explained to you where you got your innate sense of morality from. You got the explanation, you just rejected it.

    Atheism excels in building strawmen to attack. If I had to choose between being an atheist or worshipping the god atheists claim I worship, I would undoubtedly choose atheism. In three years of online debate with atheists, I have NEVER come across an atheist who is willing to discuss or debate God as Christians see Him. It’s this persistent use of the strawman fallacy that adds to the juvenile flavor of the atheist position.

    Let’s forget the enormous logical fallacy that impends here for a second.

    No atheist that I know of is going to make such a concession, ever. This would render the debate utterly pointless. No debate is going to be fuzzy, warm and on your own terms. This is something that everyone has to just deal with.

    Second, the God you “see” is not how the whole thing got started and is not even in the same character as the deity of the “Old Testament”. Thus the want, fails.

    Third, even given such a concession, if the evidence does not support the biblical account, the concession will be irrelevant as your argument falls apart anyway.

  4. kenetiks says:

    As far as using ridicule, I think atheists see that as being passionate – they feel that previous attempts at advancing atheism have been too timid, and thus a more aggressive stance is necessary for success. Interestingly, this vociferousness is primarily directed at Christians, who are least likely to respond in kind. One rarely sees it directed at Islam, which I think in part is some evidence of cowardice. Interestingly, in the end what they are undermining isn’t religious belief, but civil society which requires a modicum of respect – not for others beliefs, but for the rules which allow us all to live together.

    Where did that come from?

    An immense amount of debating from atheists is directed squarely at Islam. A simple google search will return a good number of great material.

  5. kenetiks says:

    I had orignally considered posting about the atheism undermining the notion of Free Will as one of the 7 Brutal Truths About Atheism but then it would have made it 8 brutal truths, and that didn’t have the same ring to it. Also, I have posted about this earlier, but I think it should be included as an additional consideration here.

    I was about to comment but I see a link to an entire post on the subject so I’ll head over there.

  6. Justin says:

    Kenetiks,

    Atheism is not a philosophy? Sure it is. I think the fact that so many atheists do not understand the ramifications and the logical outworkings of atheism give the impression that atheism isn’t a philosophy. Neitzsche, Hume, Kant, etc., might disagree with you.

    As far as how I came by my innate sense of morality, I compare it to mathematics. I came by my innate sense of mathematics primarily from Mr. Johnson, my high school math teacher. That in no way proves that mathematics is subjective. 2+2=4, even if I had to learn it. By comparison, coming by morality naturally or by being taught does not prove it subjective, either.

  7. Justin says:

    “No atheist that I know of is going to make such a concession, ever. This would render the debate utterly pointless. No debate is going to be fuzzy, warm and on your own terms. This is something that everyone has to just deal with.
    Second, the God you “see” is not how the whole thing got started and is not even in the same character as the deity of the “Old Testament”. Thus the want, fails.
    Third, even given such a concession, if the evidence does not support the biblical account, the concession will be irrelevant as your argument falls apart anyway.”

    Well, simply dictating that someone’s argument falls apart without demonstration sure is convincing. That aside, I find another interesting notion that atheists have, of the Heavenly Grandfather. You know, the old guy, approaching senility, sitting in his back yard, urging the parents to “just let those kids do what they want, as long as they’re happy”…

    Without specifics, I find it difficult to see how the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament differ.

    As to conceding a point, I don’t hold it against atheists who make strawmen, I just point them out.

  8. kenetiks says:

    Kenetiks,

    Atheism is not a philosophy? Sure it is. I think the fact that so many atheists do not understand the ramifications and the logical outworkings of atheism give the impression that atheism isn’t a philosophy. Neitzsche, Hume, Kant, etc., might disagree with you.

    Atheism is a disbelief in deities. Rather simple really.

    As far as how I came by my innate sense of morality, I compare it to mathematics. I came by my innate sense of mathematics primarily from Mr. Johnson, my high school math teacher. That in no way proves that mathematics is subjective. 2+2=4, even if I had to learn it. By comparison, coming by morality naturally or by being taught does not prove it subjective, either.

    Apples and oranges.

    Humans have an all but innate sense of what you call morality. This occurs irregardless of your assertions.

  9. jackhudson says:

    An immense amount of debating from atheists is directed squarely at Islam. A simple google search will return a good number of great material.

    You know, you are right; that was far too general. True of some well known atheists, but not all.

  10. kenetiks says:

    Well, simply dictating that someone’s argument falls apart without demonstration sure is convincing. That aside, I find another interesting notion that atheists have, of the Heavenly Grandfather. You know, the old guy, approaching senility, sitting in his back yard, urging the parents to “just let those kids do what they want, as long as they’re happy”…

    You’re assuming there actually is a senile old guy.

    Secondly I really don’t see where a demonstration is necessary. Even if provided it would simply be shrugged of. Reality is no competition for faith.

    Without specifics, I find it difficult to see how the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament differ.

    As to conceding a point, I don’t hold it against atheists who make strawmen, I just point them out.

    Wanton destruction vs Let’s everyone hug? And you don’t see any difference in the old and new testament, at all?

    Drowning almost the entire species, massacre, rape and utter obliteration of tribes from the face of the earth.

    To such a claim to exclusive morality you have a very shallow sense of it, if you cannot tell the difference between the two.

  11. jackhudson says:

    Atheism is a disbelief in deities. Rather simple really.

    Except this disbelief implies certain truths about reality upon which one forms one’s view of the world. It’s like saying being an anarchist is simply denying the validity of human political structures. This may be true, but it is still a philosophy that forms ones view of politics. The same is true of atheism.

    Humans have an all but innate sense of what you call morality. This occurs irregardless of your assertions.

    I am not sure how one can say this given the wide variety of behaviors humans exhibit. If some humans feel justified in murdering others, and others feel it is wrong, in what sense is morality ‘inanate’?

  12. kenetiks says:

    Except this disbelief implies certain truths about reality upon which one forms one’s view of the world. It’s like saying being an anarchist is simply denying the validity of human political structures. This may be true, but it is still a philosophy that forms ones view of politics. The same is true of atheism.

    Atheism does not say anything at all about my personal philosophy.

    I could be a marxist, a communist, a national socialist, a secular humanist or I could be a sociopath.

    You are trying to apply a strict set of guidelines on something that has no guidelines. Watching you do this is like watching a man in all serious attempt to bolt a bicycle wheel onto a tank. It’s never going to work.

    Now that being said. You are correct in one sense. Since I am an atheist I do apply a different worldview than yours. But only in the narrow sense. The proper statement is “Atheists have philosophies” not “Atheism is a philosophy”.

    I am not sure how one can say this given the wide variety of behaviors humans exhibit. If some humans feel justified in murdering others, and others feel it is wrong, in what sense is morality ‘inanate’?

    I had a lengthy reply going on and I just deleted it. It occurs to me that I’ve missed an important piece of information.

    Would you please explain your view of human morality/ethics. Nothing lengthy, as short and concise an explanation as possible.

  13. Raynot says:

    [quote]In three years of online debate with atheists, I have NEVER come across an atheist who is willing to discuss or debate God as Christians see Him. It’s this persistent use of the strawman fallacy that adds to the juvenile flavor of the atheist position.[/quote]

    The “atheist position” doesn’t require straw men. It’s possible that the atheists you’ve chosen to debate offer juvenile arguments, but that’s a comment on you. “God as Christians see Him” is not an easy phenomenon to pin down. Different Christians offer inconsistent and contradictory gods. That might explain why atheists tend to accept that your God is the one described in the Bible.
    If, instead of offering “the Christian God” for discussion, you could list the properties of your own god as you experience him, you might get a more pertinent discussion.

  14. Justin says:

    Raynot, I was rather a captive audience in the previous forums, seeing as they were Christian forums that allowed atheists to post there. I don’t see how it is a comment on me as to what other atheists turn up on a Christian message board. That’s like saying someone else’s bad driving is my fault because I was driving on the same road.

  15. jackhudson says:

    Atheism does not say anything at all about my personal philosophy. I could be a marxist, a communist, a national socialist, a secular humanist or I could be a sociopath.

    You seem to be mixing and matching here. Marxism, communism, and National Socialism are poli-economic systems, not personal philosophies. And they are all related to secular humanism in that they reject the divine as a source for morality and purpose in human lives. In that sense all atheists are essentially secular humanists. They are also invariably materialists (in the philosophical sense, not economic) and given to naturalism and scientism.
    Obviously being a sociopath is a personality disorder, not a personal philosophy. Not sure why that is there.

    You are trying to apply a strict set of guidelines on something that has no guidelines. Watching you do this is like watching a man in all serious attempt to bolt a bicycle wheel onto a tank. It’s never going to work.

    It is a belief system that firmly entrenched in the above mentioned philosophical frameworks. I mean what atheist could deny that reality is primarily the result of material forces, or that nature is all there is and still be an atheist?

    Now that being said. You are correct in one sense. Since I am an atheist I do apply a different worldview than yours. But only in the narrow sense. The proper statement is “Atheists have philosophies” not “Atheism is a philosophy”.

    Our philosophies flow from our worldview, as I detailed above.

    Would you please explain your view of human morality/ethics. Nothing lengthy, as short and concise an explanation as possible.

    Sure; its not terribly complex.
    God exists as eternal unchanging being and has a certain nature, a nature which is the locus of moral good. By design He created humanity to reflect this nature in the way they thought and lived. He also gave them the freedom to choose whether or not they would live in accordance with His nature as reflected by how they chose to act with regard to His commandments, which are expression to us of His nature. In choosing to reject those divine expressions of moral truth, we have become corrupted in our ability to reflect God, and act in accordance with His nature – His design for us to best live our lives. Thus we experience moral conflict with others and within ourselves, and have no grounding by which to confidently understand how to act.
    Make sense?

  16. Raynot says:

    Justin said:
    “Raynot, I was rather a captive audience in the previous forums, seeing as they were Christian forums that allowed atheists to post there. I don’t see how it is a comment on me as to what other atheists turn up on a Christian message board.”

    It’s a comment on you that you generalise “the atheist position” from the arguments of those atheists who show up on a Christian forum. You might get a more intelligent hearing if you presented your ideas on an atheist forum. You would certainly be more likely to learn what “the atheist position” is.

  17. jackhudson says:

    It’s a comment on you that you generalise “the atheist position” from the arguments of those atheists who show up on a Christian forum. You might get a more intelligent hearing if you presented your ideas on an atheist forum. You would certainly be more likely to learn what “the atheist position” is.

    I don’t know – I took a pretty thorough look at the forum you came from, and I am seeing what looks like one long harangue. I don’t see many people who are skeptical of the atheist position being treated civilly or seriously.

  18. Justin says:

    Raynot,

    Honestly, in my experience, my comments are not a generalization. In fact, the two leading modern atheist comentators, Hitchens and Dawkins, do precisely what it is that I’ve said.

    As for not understanding the atheist position, I understand it quite well, having been told at least 1,000 times that I don’t understand it before, and then having it explained to me. Each explanation was slightly different and some were contradictory. To be fair, Christian denominations are like this as well, so this is not something negative I raise against atheists. Suffice to say there is an “atheist position” is a little bit simplistic. But, in my experience of debating and reading Dawkins and Hitchens, I think my experience is precisely what it is and is as I described it.

  19. kenetiks says:

    You seem to be mixing and matching here. Marxism, communism, and National Socialism are poli-economic systems, not personal philosophies. And they are all related to secular humanism in that they reject the divine as a source for morality and purpose in human lives. In that sense all atheists are essentially secular humanists. They are also invariably materialists (in the philosophical sense, not economic) and given to naturalism and scientism.
    Obviously being a sociopath is a personality disorder, not a personal philosophy. Not sure why that is there.

    The inclusion of political and social frameworks with a mental disorder were thrown in on purpose. You seem to want to nail down atheism to a certain framework. It does not work that way. An atheist is not bound to any set social, political or moral framework. I can say atheists tend to be thoughtful, kind, loving, generous and intelligent people but this isn’t a rule. Atheists can be anything.

    It is a belief system that firmly entrenched in the above mentioned philosophical frameworks. I mean what atheist could deny that reality is primarily the result of material forces, or that nature is all there is and still be an atheist?

    Atheism is not firmly entrenched in any set philosophical frameworks. No one is denying the matter or that nature is all that is but this says absolutely nothing about the ethical or philosophical framework of the person in question. I cannot stress this enough.

    Sure; its not terribly complex.
    God exists as eternal unchanging being and has a certain nature, a nature which is the locus of moral good. By design He created humanity to reflect this nature in the way they thought and lived. He also gave them the freedom to choose whether or not they would live in accordance with His nature as reflected by how they chose to act with regard to His commandments, which are expression to us of His nature. In choosing to reject those divine expressions of moral truth, we have become corrupted in our ability to reflect God, and act in accordance with His nature – His design for us to best live our lives. Thus we experience moral conflict with others and within ourselves, and have no grounding by which to confidently understand how to act.
    Make sense?

    Yes and No.

    Do you derive these from your books(of the bible) or “moral conflict within yourself”?

  20. jackhudson says:

    The inclusion of political and social frameworks with a mental disorder were thrown in on purpose. You seem to want to nail down atheism to a certain framework. It does not work that way. An atheist is not bound to any set social, political or moral framework. I can say atheists tend to be thoughtful, kind, loving, generous and intelligent people but this isn’t a rule. Atheists can be anything.

    I don’t where you got the idea that I think atheists hold to a particular political or social framework – I think many past socio-political-economic systems and beliefs were the fruit of atheism, but I don’t think that being an atheist requires one to adopt these particular forms of government or economy. I imagine many don’t because they are smart enough to recognize the utter failure of such systems.

    Nonetheless, as far as philosophical positions, as I pointed out (and you seem to have not acknowledged) modern atheists are invariably materialists, devoted to naturalism, and advocates of scientism, all certain philosophical positions. None of which of course has anything to do with this post which appears uncontested thus far.

    Atheism is not firmly entrenched in any set philosophical frameworks. No one is denying the matter or that nature is all that is but this says absolutely nothing about the ethical or philosophical framework of the person in question. I cannot stress this enough.

    You just acknowledged that atheists do not deny that, “matter or that nature is all that is” – those are the core definitions of materialism and naturalism, i.e. philosophical positions. Not only did you not stress enough your point, you admitted mine.

    Do you derive these from your books(of the bible) or “moral conflict within yourself”?

    As a Christian, I believe that Scripture as much as it contains and expresses certain moral principles is God’s expression to man of objective moral truths derived from His own nature. It is the only truly objective source of moral expression. As a Christian I also believe I have a conscience which can be informed directly by God, and that I can be informed by the wisdom of others who have successfully lived out God’s moral principles in their own lives. This is part of what we call wisdom.

  21. kenetiks says:

    I don’t where you got the idea that I think atheists hold to a particular political or social framework – I think many past socio-political-economic systems and beliefs were the fruit of atheism, but I don’t think that being an atheist requires one to adopt these particular forms of government or economy. I imagine many don’t because they are smart enough to recognize the utter failure of such systems.

    Repeated statements to the effect of “atheism is a philosophy.”

    Nonetheless, as far as philosophical positions, as I pointed out (and you seem to have not acknowledged) modern atheists are invariably materialists, devoted to naturalism, and advocates of scientism, all certain philosophical positions. None of which of course has anything to do with this post which appears uncontested thus far.

    I’m not sure your use of the term “scientism” and I almost wish to say such a thing does not even exist. If you mean advocacy of science then I suppose I do advocate learning through science. But science itself is not in any sense that I understand, a philosophy.

    As far as the original post I’ll comment on it shortly when I get another chance too.

    You just acknowledged that atheists do not deny that, “matter or that nature is all that is” – those are the core definitions of materialism and naturalism, i.e. philosophical positions. Not only did you not stress enough your point, you admitted mine.

    The honesty to perceive matter and the natural world as it is, is not to me a philosophical position. It’s an admission of the obvious.

    As a Christian, I believe that Scripture as much as it contains and expresses certain moral principles is God’s expression to man of objective moral truths derived from His own nature. It is the only truly objective source of moral expression. As a Christian I also believe I have a conscience which can be informed directly by God, and that I can be informed by the wisdom of others who have successfully lived out God’s moral principles in their own lives. This is part of what we call wisdom.

    But you do not live strictly by it?

    Also, what could you possibly infer from others that you could not infer from the text?

  22. jackhudson says:

    Repeated statements to the effect of “atheism is a philosophy.”

    I didn’t call atheism a philosophy per se, though not to call it one is picking nits as I have detailed – atheists adhere to certain philosophies as part and parcel of their atheism.

    I’m not sure your use of the term “scientism” and I almost wish to say such a thing does not even exist. If you mean advocacy of science then I suppose I do advocate learning through science. But science itself is not in any sense that I understand, a philosophy.

    The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy refers to scientism this way – “the view that any meaningful question can be answered by the methods of science”. I addressed it in my post here.

    The honesty to perceive matter and the natural world as it is, is not to me a philosophical position. It’s an admission of the obvious.

    Saying you do not consider it a philosophical position does not mean it’s not a philosophical position. One could make that statement about anything. “I do not consider a belief in God to be a religious position, merely the admission of the obvious”. Such an answer only means you aren’t familiar with the relevant philosophies, not that they don’t exist.

    But you do not live strictly by it?

    Christian moral principles as they are outlined in Scripture? I certainly strive to.

    Also, what could you possibly infer from others that you could not infer from the text?

    Well, I can infer from a book on physics certain objective principles necessary to build a rocket to go to the moon. I may not get how to employ those principles to carry out that particular task – to do that, I would be best served by consulting with people who already have produced such technology and have the expertise to do so.
    In the same way, as I look to apply the moral principles contained in Scripture, I can )and often do) look to people who have already successfully employed them to do the things I seek to do – faithfully love my wife, be a good father, serve others, be a good citizen, etc.

  23. kenetiks says:

    I didn’t call atheism a philosophy per se, though not to call it one is picking nits as I have detailed – atheists adhere to certain philosophies as part and parcel of their atheism.

    I’m still not quite sure you can nail this down to “certain” philosophies. But read on below.

    The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy refers to scientism this way – “the view that any meaningful question can be answered by the methods of science”. I addressed it in my post here.

    Saying you do not consider it a philosophical position does not mean it’s not a philosophical position. One could make that statement about anything. “I do not consider a belief in God to be a religious position, merely the admission of the obvious”. Such an answer only means you aren’t familiar with the relevant philosophies, not that they don’t exist.

    Here I must stop the direction this is going.

    First, I have never particularly liked philosophy. The downside to this is I have never pursued it with any more than a glancing and passing interest.

    Now, since you have brought several decent points to my attention this has caused me to challenge some notions I’ve had on philosophy itself. This is not a concession of defeat on any particular point mind you. I simply think that at this time, someone who is more adept would be better suited to talk about this subject.

    I have enjoyed our talking and will continue to do so when I have the time but I will simply not go any further with this issue until I get myself vastly more up to speed.

    Regards,
    kenetiks

  24. jackhudson says:

    First, I have never particularly liked philosophy. The downside to this is I have never pursued it with any more than a glancing and passing interest.

    Now, since you have brought several decent points to my attention this has caused me to challenge some notions I’ve had on philosophy itself. This is not a concession of defeat on any particular point mind you. I simply think that at this time, someone who is more adept would be better suited to talk about this subject.

    I have enjoyed our talking and will continue to do so when I have the time but I will simply not go any further with this issue until I get myself vastly more up to speed.

    The pleasure is all mine, it’s been a great conversation. Feel free to stop by anytime.

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