I know it isn’t quite the end of the year yet, after all the malls haven’t been assaulted by pag… I mean Christmas decorations (are atheists already chanting “pagan” before the festive season has even commenced?). However, bad jokes aside, I don’t want this list to give the impression that I somehow hope for atheists to mess up and then write about it. That would be quite unChristian like of me, and I am not that sort of person who wishes to capitalize on others’ misfortune. After all, I love people which means I love atheists too. But what I do want to do is to counter some of the many false claims, and just some of the really silly things, that atheists have made this year. I also don’t pretend that Christians do that much better either; in fact, I could probably make a list double this length of really silly things Christians have said/done (but that’s for another time). I also don’t want to give the impression that this list applies to all atheists out there, because it doesn’t in the same way not all Christians believe dinosaurs were really on Noah’s ark. Nonetheless, here is my list:
1. Reason Rally (Silly Reason: Expecting and claiming too much)
The Reason Rally was expected to be something really big. It’s meant to be one of the central atheist gathering show pieces of the year. However, it turned out to be a major flop given what was expected. They expected 30 000 attendees but probably got 5000 (that’s a generous estimate); they expected to raise $100 000 but failed to hit a quarter of that ($24 834, 81); onstage equipment gave them issues, and so on. This is silly, and embarrassing for them, because atheist writers are so vocal about how quickly their numbers are growing and how quickly they are relieving the world of its religious delusions, but when they try and organise a gathering nearly no-one pitches up. I think most people just don’t care (after all, more people seem to pitch up for a schoolboy rugby match where I live with half the publicity, half the funding and so on).
2. Atheists are Freethinkers (Silly Reason: Because there is no such thing as a “freethinker”).
This always makes the list because it is so overtly naïve (atheists should really avoid defining themselves in this way). Essentially what the atheist is arguing is that he is a freethinker because he has released himself from the clutches of religious belief. However, as soon as someone doesn’t agree with him, or think like him, then she is no longer a freethinker. So is the atheist even a freethinker in the first place? To answer, no, he isn’t simply because he has just adopted another non-religious dogmatic worldview. The atheist is just as shrouded in dogma as is the most ardent Christian/religious believer. And since everyone has a belief it is not possible to ever be a “freethinker” in terms of operating without at least one belief.
One could go on about how a naturalistic worldview undercuts the freethinker concept due to the atheist’s inability to ground his rationality. After all, on atheism, what we take for a “rational thought” is no more than electrochemical frizzling in our brains. Also remember that on the atheist’s worldview our thoughts are wholly deterministic. In other words, “free-thinking” would be illusory as our thoughts, actions, and dreams are solely determined by genetics, background, and environment. Not much room for any freethinking in there.
3. Only Gays, Buddhists, Agnostics and Atheists Allowed! (Silly Reason: Uhm, why?)
Around April this year an atheist “shotgunner” as I like to call them, Jason Mevin, argued rather viciously although he didn’t convince me much. According to Mevin I am not allowed to use Facebook because it, as he said, “was created by an atheist (Mark Zuckerberg) or a pair of atheists (Larry Page and Sergey Brin), using an OS created by a Buddhist (Steve Jobs), or an agnostic (Bill Gates), or an atheist (Linus Torvaids) that is executed through hardware based on the work of a homosexual atheist (Alan Turing).”
So apparently only gays, atheists, agnostics and Buddhists can use Facebook and computers nowadays. Probably wouldn’t total to an impressive number of active users (Facebook might just go bankrupt). Only thing Mr. Mevin overlooked was that it was a Christian, Charles Babbage, who designed the first mechanical computer. He can try and factor that into his argument.
4. “I’m an agnostic atheist!” (Silly Reason: Because you can’t hold to two exclusive worldviews at the same time).
In a recent debate I had with the Dutch Atheist he made the following remark, “It is important to clarify our position here: we are agnostic atheists.”
This is a common claim by atheists; the ones that copy the one liners from other atheists who copy from other atheists who copy from other atheists who copied the one liner from Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion. But as I pointed out is that atheism and agnosticism are not the same worldviews. Atheists affirm the non-existence of God whereas agnostics tend to sit on the fence. That’s the way it has traditionally been defined and it’s the definition supported by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the vast majority of encyclopaedias, and so on. They are mutually exclusive.
Maybe someday I will redefine myself as being an atheist Christian. I can’t you say? I know!
5. “Atheism is Not a Belief.” (Silly Reason: Because it is).
We could say a lot here but saying one’s worldview is “not a belief” is essentially to have at least one belief: the belief that one’s worldview is not a belief… after all, I am pretty sure he believes it.
6. “Philosophy isn’t evidence!” (Silly Reason: Because the atheist proposing has a philosophy).
This is another line from my debate; he says, “Philosophical notions or metaphysics at best and thus present us with no evidence at all.”
It was very hard not to pounce on this one. Why? Because this atheist is a philosophical naturalist… Naturalism is itself a philosophical system of thought that draws conclusions about the natural world that goes beyond the available empirical evidence. The naturalist assumes that God does not exist but, as he knows, he cannot prove it. He assumes that objective moral values do not exist though he cannot prove that either. He assumes that a physical world of objects exists externally to his own mind which is an unprovable metaphysical assumption that he, and the rest of us (unless we’re solipsists), think is a reasonable belief. The point is that not only can’t this atheist help but to actually engage in philosophy but his entire atheism is underpinned by a philosophical system of beliefs. In other words, to say that philosophical and metaphysical “present us with no evidence at all” is effectively to attack one’s own atheism! It’s like me saying Jesus’ deity and resurrection “presents us with no evidence at all” that Christianity is true.
7. “Follow the evidence until…” (Silly Reason: Because you’re not really following the evidence).
This one didn’t exactly take place in 2016 but I find out about it in 2016, and want to include it anyway. Lawrence Krauss, a well-known atheist scientist, rightly says that being “Open minded means conforming to the evidence of reality whether or not we like the implications.”
That’s fair, we can grant him that. After all, that would be a good rule of thumb because we should be obligated to follow the evidence where it leads. However, a little later he concedes, “I can’t prove that God doesn’t exist, but I’d much rather live in a universe without one.”
So what is it? Should we follow the evidence where it leads or not? Or should we follow the evidence until it conflicts with our hope of an outcome and then dismiss it? If evidence suggests that it is improbable that God exists then we should all become atheists; however, if evidence suggests that it is probable that God exists then we should all become theists (thankfully the evidence is in the affirmative). After all, Krauss would agree… until something pops up that he would “much rather” not have popped up. One thing I’ve learnt is that atheists like Dawkins, Harris, Krauss etc. espouse bundles contradictions. They say one thing one minute and an entirely contradictory thing the next… very common.
8. “We’re friendly and we won’t offend you, but we’ll blaspheme your religion just for the fun of it.” (Silly Reason: Because deliberately blaspheming someone’s religion is insulting.)
I did a brief review of Blasphemy Day recently, and much like the Reason Rally, no-one really cares too much about it; after all, it is scarcely known. However, according to Justin Trottier, a coordinator of Blasphemy Day, they are “not seeking to offend, but if in the course of dialogue and debate, people become offended, that’s not an issue for us.”
As I pointed out in the review most people would agree that there is a line that generally shouldn’t be crossed in civil dialogue. And I think deliberately insulting the beliefs of people might cross that line. However, that is not me saying that we need to respect the false beliefs held by people because we have the right, as well as the intellectual obligation, to critique false beliefs; that is why I critique atheism. However, we should remember that false beliefs are held by people and, as mom repeatedly told me (or rather raised her voice), it is preferable maybe not to call them names while trying to convince them they’re wrong about something? I soon deduced that this was just common sense without my mom having to tell me.
So, saying Blasphemy Day is a day that’s “not seeking to offend” and a day hoping to nurture “dialogue and debate” won’t tend to go down too well with a Christian when an attendee has hung up a painting of the Last Supper with Jesus portrayed as Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck? Or maybe dialogue with a Muslim might be possible if you’re not painting a naked Muhammad who looks a tad too white for comfort? Again, just good old common sense.