Saturday, February 28, 2009

How to argue like a Theist

Just use these 15 proven debating techniques and you will never have to cede any point of logic to any atheist regardless of the evidence!
1) Selective Silence - When confronted with data which fails to jibe with your cherished beliefs about the harmless and beneficial nature of religion, just ignore it. Don't respond. Keep asserting your opinion over and over again. If you ignore the scientific or social evidence consistent with short and long term ill effects from religion, perhaps it will just go away.
2) Obscurantism I - "Studies and statistics can mean anything!" Be sure to dismiss any and all studies as a misinterpretation of the facts without ever having to actually read the studies. This is much easier to achieve when coupled with a condescending or mocking tone, or if prefaced by the call to authority statement "Everybody knows that...". In relation to scientific evidence, refer to method 1 or method 7 "straw man demolition" which we will explain later.
3) Obscurantism II - "You can make a study show anything you want it to show." Be careful, though. Studies which show any measurable benefit from religion are, of course, a mysterious exception to this supposed "rule." So be sure not to get caught ignoring the rare study that will back your claim. Refer to method 1 when asked why your study is valid but not the contrary example.
4) Treat All Research Data As Merely Someone's Opinion - "People who do scientific studies are all a bunch of permissive anti-religious bigots." or "Scientists have an anti-religion agenda" or even " Why do scientists always feel they have to attack us? Other things (groups, ideologies, scientists) do bad things too". A useful variation on this approach is to ridicule anything and everything and everyone you don't like as "intolerant". Carefully avoid defining what this term means. Hence, there will be no limit to what you can dismiss as "intolerant" without further elaboration. Of course, be sure to behave as if merely labeling something "intolerant" exempts you from refuting it any further.
5) Slander All Researchers - "It is easy to fake research data. Therefore let's ignore decades of accumulated research by assuming it is all fraudulent without any actual evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the researchers." This method is excellent for arguing a position such as the young earth hypothesis, or flood geology which has no empirical research support whatsoever. If you are feeling particularly bold, combine this technique with technique #13 (Conspiracy references). Insinuate that all published evidence of harm from religion and faith is the work of a vast atheist conspiracy against traditional family values. To back yourself up, cite something a caller said on right wing talk radio show late last night.
6) Diversion - Change the subject. If possible, try to divert discussion away from how to think of and critique belief in god onto meta discussions about who was more "rude" to whom and which "side" is more guilty of offending the other. In short, make yourself out to be the victim of those awful anti religious atheists rather than faith being the framework within which evils thrive. Claiming to be a victim of "evangelical atheists" and charging all non-believers present with being agents for an anti religious agenda works well also. (This technique works especially well when combined with technique #14-Ad hominum)
7) Straw Man Demolition - Invent off-the-wall positions, attribute them to the atheists, then express indignation, shock and disgust. Example: "Evolutionists think that the eye formed by accident". Be sure to name names and to "warn" newcomers to the newsgroup about what So-and-so "really" believes. When So-and-so attempts to explain their actual views and that no one says that evolution of the eye was an accident at all, call them a "liar" and lecture them publicly, repeatedly, and at great length, for their "dishonesty."
8) Faith- The ultimate argument for any theist. Merely fall back on the statement that it is "just what you believe" or that "it is a faith thing" and then become offended that anyone would question your beliefs! Continue to act like it is unthinkable to question someones belief and that it simply is uncivilized to target Christians with such persecution. Ignore or deflect questions as to the morality of your faith, or the divisive and harmful nature of religion by the all encompassing blanket of being offended that anyone can question someones beliefs. Continue to act the victim of persecution when asked why religious beliefs are the only belief systems that are unassailable by criticism and ask why the questioner would offend you so deeply. Put the onus on him to defend why he is so uncivil as to "attack" Christians in this way without any regard to the real questions that he poses about the harm (or truth) of such beliefs on the world around it.
9) False "Either/Or" Dichotomies - Assume that if a person is NOT religious then they must just want to sin, or that they must therefor have no moral standard. Then condemn them for being immoral. Repeat this over and over again as if it were an established fact. Be sure to lecture them about how much more harmful their immorality is for society at large and refer to straw man arguments for Hitler, Mao and Stalin (the combo attack really works!). With luck and persistence, this will eventually get the atheists so upset that they will waste all their efforts defending their morals and their want to sin and not criticizing your religion. This will prevent them from sharing any stories about humanistic and societal approaches to morality and family values which have worked in many different societies. And if you really get lucky, the atheist might get so fed up after you calling them sinful and immoral repeatedly that they will verbally blast you. Then you can sadly and publicly reflect on how awful it for the only defense of an atheists position is to yell.
10) Anecdotal Evidence - Claim that your own anecdotal experience, or the experiences of other families whom you have "seen," is more valid than large random samples of thousands of respondents statistically controlled for a wide variety of variables and published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Mention stories of your own "How he came to me in a dream" or "how he saved me from drugs" or even "How I lived through a terrible accident" as evidence. No one can question your personal stories, and if they ask why you feel that it wasn't just a dream/strength of character/luck that saved them, use your unassailable big gun "It is what I believe" or "it is a faith matter" without having to back up that belief at all. Be sure to say, "it never did ME any harm!" and hold yourself up as an example of superior morality and family values. Brag about religious people whom religion has helped, citing only gods influence and belittling any strength the individual showed in helping themselves. Tell stories about how the kid down the block was lost to drugs, promiscuous sex and immorality and how God turned that person into the model of morality that he is today. Repeat this technique as often as necessary until your tormentors give up in frustration. Then declare victory. Of course, be careful to accept as evidence only anecdotes which support your position. Anecdotal evidence of harm from religion merely indicates that the person speaking is inferior/immoral as a person and should grow up, get a life, and quit whining and that the person reciting this evidence needs to be more tolerant (see also technique #14).
11) Old Testament denial- When pressed by questions regarding the morality of the bible and the old testament (i.e.- prescribed slavery, rape, murder, sex trade rules, death to sassy children etc...) merely state that the new testament supersedes the rules of the OT without speaking about their morality. Ignore subsequent inquiry regarding the fact that the 10 commandments and homosexual immorality comes from the OT or that Jesus commands adherence to old testament canon and make no statement on their relation to the other less desirable rules inscribed therein (this can derail your argument and set you in a spin of cognitive dissonance that the evil atheist will pick up on).
12) Know-Nothing-ism - Remember that "Ignorance is Strength." If you are really, really, really ignorant about statistics and research methods, you need never admit defeat in an argument. Claim that even the most exhaustively random, large, and representative sample of evidence can't possibly tell us anything meaningful and that only by gathering information for every possible circumstance can we obtain useful data (which is clearly impossible this is known as the epistemilogical method of debunking knowledge). Then claim that your own opinion is more valid than the results of "some study" of a representative scientists who are clearly working within an anti religious agenda. Whenever anyone politely attempts to explain the scientific method and how it precludes any agenda, blast them as a "lunatic evangelical atheist" engaged in "pop psyche pap psychobabble." Remember, as long as you don't understand, or pretend not to understand, you don't ever have to concede any points. (For advanced study of the Know-Nothing-ism technique, see any issue of The Creation Science Review or Flat Earth News. See also, technique #4).
13) Conspiracy Theories - The fact that the entire corpus of scientific research on the world has failed to find evidence for any divine artificer, the young age of the earth, flood geology, the existence of Jesus or miracles of any sort while finding numerous strong correlations with a wide range of long-term ill effects proves that the scientific community is plotting to undermine traditional family values. When asked why no religious researchers have been able to empirically demonstrate evidence of any of those things, extend the scope of the conspiracy to include all grant funding agencies as well ("no scientific organization would fund such a venture because they are too anti religious to want the truth"). When asked why the existence of rich, religious organizations such as the Creation science centreor Liberty University have still not facilitated the publication of research studies showing evidence for the existence of a divine artificer or any of the creation myths, ignore the question (technique #1) and change the subject (technique #6).
14) Ad Hominem - When confronted with an abundance of research evidence consistent with long-term harm or the false nature of religion, and with an absence of any such evidence consistent with your own position, attack the person speaking. Accuse them of "lying" about what the research says; if challenged to provide evidence of such lies, just keep repeating the charge over and over again without evidence or use method 7 (straw man). Accuse their children of being juvenile delinquents on crack (since they weren't taught the morals of religion, they must be cold, ruthless, drug-addicted, psychopaths... no additional evidence is needed. If pressed for evidence that lack of religion invariably leads to such outcomes, say "wake up! look around you! get a clue, moron!!!" etc.) Remember, as a believer, you may have no relevant formal training, no idea of what a publishable "study" is, and no concept of what makes one line of reasoning valid and another one invalid. But by golly, you can post mean-and-nasty flames as well as any PhD.-holding commenter ever could! Nothing levels the playing field and eliminates the many unfair advantages atheists possess better than a good, content-free, mud-slinging, flame fest.
15) Argument By Assertion - Declare yourself to be in the right and that "everybody knows" what you say is true. Whenever anyone asks you to support your claims with evidence, explain The Truth once again without explaining how you know with such certainty. (Claiming to have a personal relationship with God who told you so Himself is an acceptable variant on this strategy, but if pressed on the validity of mental patients who have a close personal relationship with Napoleon, use method 1(ignore) or 6 (distract) ). If pressed, treat your interrogators with steadily increasing condescension, as if they must be too dim-witted to understand what you are saying and therefore need to have it all explained to them one more time in patronizing baby talk; then tell them once again what the Truth "really" is while once again buttressing your position with no evidence. Then ask them, "NOW do you get it??" Never stop. Just keep repeating this technique indefinitely. Eventually, the atheists will lose patience with you and will show it. Then switch to technique #6. If they are really mad at you, this might be a good time to use technique #9 also.

This should get you started down the road that god commands (1 Peter 3:15- be prepared to defend the faith in the face of challenges and questions which come from unbelievers). So welcome to the new logic of the new testament.
Unassailable, unquestionable, and unbelievable.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Meet your Myth.

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” -Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion)

In years gone by and before my faith evolved into free thought, I would have thought this statement to be an anti-religious rant by someone with both unreasoning hatred for and little knowledge of God.

Now I am not so sure...

How well do we know exactly what morals the bible espouses?

How well do we follow "Gods will"?

How well do we even know the "god" to whom we supplicate ourselves in adulation and prayer, and with whom so many profess to have a personal relationship?

Is this relationship a two way street based in inalienable truths or is it a comforting thought that is defined by each person to fit their needs.

Lets take a look together.

There is a suspension of disbelief that surrounds and shrouds "god" in a veil of piety that few can rail against without being labeled "immoral" or "intolerant".

Our society places this veil over our senses every day sidestepping the ancient message of god by giving us assertions to his being that infer to us his motivations and his character. And who are we to disagree?

"In god we Trust"

"God rest his soul"
"God bless you"

"Its in Gods hands"
"Holy (insert word here)"

"Good God!"

and even "God's last name is not "Dammit."" ~Author Unknown

Ok, well, maybe not the last one. But you get the point, every day we are inundated with references to his "morality", goodness, infinite forgiveness, and the peace that comes with belief. Song , TV shows, movies, love stories, poetry, literature, and even news about statistically improbable things happening to good people are all references to this (Miracle on the Hudson, Miracle babies, miracle cures to disease). Now clearly some of these things are not a direct reference to god per se, and maybe they have entered into the venacular as common use sayings (I still say "Oh my god!" in surprise and amazement) but they still serve to obfuscate the image of what god really is (as defined by his own book)

It is behind this veil of societal inferences that we must peek in order to get to the truth beyond it. The first time I pulled back the curtain to see what lay behind it I was shocked.

What is behind it? The only thing that can stand in true statement to the nature of "god".

His own book, the bible

Now understand that I am in no way submitting the bible to you as evidence of his existence, but I DO submit that the morality of the god myth can only be found in the content of the book that defines it.

Lets look to this book for guidance....

I think that we can overlook the good things in the bible and define him by what he is willing to do that we would determine is immoral. Charles Manson espoused a love for music, creativity and loyalty but we wouldn't use him as a spokeperson for those things because of the evil that he stands for. In short, if God condones terrible things, he is a terrible guy no matter how he tries to mitigate it. Shouldn't we expect perfection from a being that is supposed to stand for perfection? Of course we should.

Lets open his book.

Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT says "you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land."

Slavery? Really? Maybe that is a bad example, maybe we are reading it wrong. Lets look again....
Exodus 21:20-21 NAB "When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property."

Hmmmm beating your slaves? That didn't help.

OK ok, but surely slavery was the way of the day and no self respecting, all powerful, all wise being could be expected to instruct them NOT to have them without having them reject him so lets move on....

Exodus 21:7-11 NLT-"When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are."

EEEK! Selling your daughter into slavery (which the owner may choose to marry at his whim), seems a bit harsh... but who could blame him, girls were such a bother back then. Even still....
(Judges 21:10-24 NLT) Murder, rape, and pillage at Jabesh-gilead? (still not helping)
(Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NLT) Laws of Rape (Hey Jesus, have a bad break up or something? You are pretty bitter towards women)
(Deuteronomy 22:23-24 NAB) Death to the Rape Victim (OOH, I guess I didn't know HOW bitter!)
(Zechariah 14:1-2 NAB) God Assists Rape and Plunder
(Wisdom 3:5-7 NAB) Human sacrifice(Deuteronomy 17:12 NLT) Kill people who don't listen to priests

I think that we can stop now.
He kills;Witches;
Children for Hitting Dad;
Children for Cursing Parents;
Fornicators (mmm fornisacrilicious);
Followers of Other Religions;
False Prophets;
Entire Towns if One Person Worships Another God;
Women Who Are Not Virgins On Their Wedding Night;

followers of Other Religions;
Anyone who Approaches the Tabernacle;
People for Working on the Sabbath;
Brats (quite terribly I might add);
The Curious as they looked at the ark;
Good Samaritans for keeping the altar from falling;
Sons of Sinners;
Jericho and everything in it (plants, animals and EVERYTHING);
He has an Angel of Death;
Presumably to kill the Families of Sinners; and
ALL of Babylon.

Rape, Sex slavery (for your daughters no less), murder, infanticide, genocide, fratricide, misogyny,pillaging and war? Sound familiar? Maybe you aren't so far off Richard.

All wise and the source of our moral order?

I think not. (killing for all offences? Not very imaginative either!)
If these are the morals that he teaches, count me out. I am a better person than he is, and so are you.

So to those of you who thought you knew him, but didn't.....

May I present to you..... (Drumroll)

Jesus of Nazareth, the biggest bastard the world never knew.