The Problem of the Apologist: A Primer

counter-apologetics

I’ve been debating Christians for a very long time. It’s fun, rewarding, and sometimes you can even change minds….if not the person you’re debating, then those who are watching. One thing I’ve learned, however, is when the apologist comes to debate, it’s best to walk away. This isn’t because you’ll lose. It’s because you’ll only be debating dishonest arguments. You see, the apologist isn’t like your run of the mill believer. This person is usually intelligent enough to understand the arguments, but dishonest in such a way as to do some advanced mental gymnastics to avoid having to question their beliefs. Because of this, there isn’t any evidence or argument that can sway them, and they’ll be vague enough that no argument will change the minds of those watching. In essence, it’s an exercise in futility.

In a Street Epistemology forum that I frequent, an apologist showed up. I’ve been watching for a couple days as people who are fairly new to argumentation and situations like this have been falling all over themselves to try out their best arguments. I’ve continuously watched this apologist dodge questions, duck around arguments he can’t beat, and overall dance around to everyone’s frustration. This is why we say that it’s like playing chess with a pigeon.

In light of this, however, I thought I’d deconstruct this particular apologist’s arguments and tactics. Hopefully, it will serve as a bit of a primer to those new to the craft, so they can avoid these situations entirely, or handle them should they have no other choice.

He begins with a fairly neutral introduction.

Hello, everyone. I am not an atheist, but since it seems like most of you are seeking opportunities to perform “interventions,” I thought coming here and opening myself and my beliefs up to criticism and correction could be mutually beneficial to those here also seeking objective truth. I look forward to your questions and comments.

This is followed by a series of questions, most of which he dismisses as not being specific enough.

“What do you believe?” “What brand of theism do you agree with?” “What evidence convinced you that it was true?” “What stage are you at with your faith?”

Now, this is the first common dishonest tactic you should be watching out for. He’s expressed that he’s opening his beliefs to criticism, but wants people to ferret out what his actual beliefs are, but figuring out what questions he’ll answer. He won’t lay out his beliefs in any solid way, because that would make them too easily falsifiable. If he gives a little bit at a time, he can always add or change things to help his arguments as he goes. That would be much harder if he had laid out any belief system from the onset.

His first response.

I am not quite sure what “stages” of faith there are, so maybe you can describe them for me. Hopefully, my response to X answers your question.

X, I am a Christian theist. I tend toward Protestantism, but am less dogmatic on what are widely considered non-essential doctrines. So, as a Christian theist, I am convinced of the existence of the biblical God, that God is a trinity, that Jesus was a historical person with two natures – God and man, that the universe was created by God… the list is extensive, so hopefully questions and comments will tease out more specifics.

Would you mind if I asked both of you what your beliefs are? Are you convinced that God (or anything like him, I suppose) does not exist?

Ok, so we get a few more specifics, that tell us almost nothing. Let’s see, Protestant, but less dogmatic. That means non-specific non-Catholic. That tells us nothing about specific doctrinal beliefs. Believes in the biblical god, god as a trinity, Jesus was a historical person with two natures, and god created the universe. Ok, so still a non-specific non-Catholic. This also places god as a first cause, in that pocket outside of scientific knowledge. Then, of course, turning it around to ask what Atheists believe, while throwing out a common misconception on what atheism means, and affirming that, in order to determine what he actually believes, we need to continue playing 20 questions.

OK, moving on. A single response back to him noting that, as an atheist, we simply haven’t found a reason to believe a god exists. That is to say, we can’t say we know for certain one does not, only that there is no evidence for one. Simple, right? Also, the poster notes that they were once a Christian and that the apologist did not answer their question.

Our apologist replies with yet another question, and no answers.

Pleased to meet you, X. What kind of church did you attend when you were a Christian?

Another post explaining what an agnostic atheist is, what we believe, and why we believe it, as well as some personal details that are mostly not relevant to the greater discourse.

Our apologist replies.

Thanks, X. It is interesting how similar our stories are, yet how differently they have become. I was also raised in a Baptist home and was a committed Christian until college. In college, I stopped going to church and actively, purposefully engaged in un-Christian behavior. But after college and military service, I devoted myself to discovering whether or not there were any good reasons for Christianity. Obviously, I came to the conclusion that the evidence falls in favor of Christianity.

So, to make sure I am clear on your view, as an agnostic atheist, do you claim that God does not exist, that we cannot know whether God exists, or that you simply lack a belief in God?

Again, no answers, just responding with questions that have already been answered.

One of the basic comparisons that we use is that we don’t posit that unicorns exist just because they’ve been written about, but would change out minds on sufficient evidence. This is the same case for our lack of belief in god. This is expressed in the comments.

Here’s the first mental gymnastics that our apologist uses to try and twist around what is a very simple explanation of atheism.

It sounds like you think the evidence leans in favor of atheism, but that you do not think this is sufficient for knowing that atheism is true. That makes me curious as to what amount of evidence you think is needed to say that you know something.

Ya….no. That’s not what was said, and not how it works. There’s no such thing as “atheism is true.” Atheism is merely the lack of belief that a god exists. It’s not believing that the claims of a god are true. This is the negative stance, which can’t be proven. You can’t prove a negative, because it’s merely discarding a positive claim due to lack of evidence. The ONLY thing you can do is provide evidence for the positive claim. Barring that, the negative claim stands.

OK, this is important. It’s expressed in response what I just described, as well as the fact that we don’t need to prove the nonexistence of Santa or fairies, because, when there is no evidence, then the default is non-belief. Remember, in science, the default stance in skepticism, until evidence presents itself. Let’s look at our apologist’s response to this.

I do not think that atheism as you define it entails that God does not exist. Rejecting a claim does not mean that the claim’s negation is true by default. Even the claim that Santa does not exist requires justification – an argument for the physical impossibility of visiting all of the children in the world on the same night, for instance.

Rocks lack a belief in people, but that does not entail that people do not exist by default. Perhaps you mean that atheism is a lack of belief specifically by people. This still does not entail the negation of theism by default.

Someone could tell me the name of the king of Malaysia and ask if I believe that. I would lack that belief because I am unfamiliar with Malaysian officials, but that does not entail that the king is not who that person said it was by default.

So, your claim that Santa “doesn’t exist by default” is something I do not think is warranted by the lack of a belief.

OK, this is another very common tactic. This entails mental gymnastics on a grand scale, and sounds really convincing…..if you have no idea what you’re talking about. First, he’s attempting to redefine what Atheism means. I’m sorry, but words have meanings. You can’t redefine them because your definitions is easier to argue against. This is what we call a Strawman Argument. He’s creating a strawman of our argument that he can more easily attack.

The assertion that rocks lack a belief in people is absurd. Rocks aren’t sentient. Rocks cannot, by nature, “believe” in anything. Now, the rest of his argument sounds similar, but it really isn’t. He refers to things that exist in the world, like the physical possibility of Santa visiting all those people, or the King of Malaysia. These are verifiable claims. You can verify, either through historical records for the King of Malaysia, or physics, as is the case of Santa.

You see, science relies on verifiable evidence. This is why the default on supernatural things is non-belief. These are things that can’t be checked, or tested for. If you say the name of the King of Malaysia, I can do a little research and confirm whether or not you’re correct. Also, as it is something so easily verifiable, there’s no reason for me to not believe you offhand. When you say there is an all knowing and all powerful god who created the universe, there’s no test, trial, study, or research I can do to verify that. THAT’S why the default must be non-belief, because it’s not something that CAN be known, so why posit that it is true?

Ordinary claims are easy to take as truth. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Commenters then explain the burden of proof. The response?

Thanks for the clarification. Would you agree then that a lack of belief does not entail non-existence by default?

Now, let me explain what’s being done here. He’s trying to twist the argument a bit more, to get people to admit that they can’t say with evidence that god does not exist. Now, this has already been said, but he’ll push on requiring evidence for the negative, moving forward. Also note that he still has not answered people’s questions. He now has the group where he wants them….defending atheism, as opposed to deconstructing the claims he hasn’t bothered to make.

From here, it’s explained that science does not make absolute claims, and Russel’s Teapot is brought up. This is the argument that there may be a teapot orbited the earth that cannot be seen or touched. We can’t prove it isn’t there, so why is it any less viable than god? And yet another person asking for a concrete breakdown of the apologist’s beliefs.

I agree with that. I just want to be as honest as possible here and I hope you can be too. You said about Santa that rejection of his existence entails that “He doesn’t exist by default.” Can we agree that was a slight overstatement?

OK, so here he’s just latching onto a bit of poor wording by the commenter. It should have been said “not believing god exists is the default.” That said, this has been explained as well, but he’s going to push on this point. Still no real explanation of his beliefs.

Our commenter admits to sloppy wording, and again asks what evidence the apologist has that god exists.

First, I find several arguments for the existence of God convincing. Second, I find the one or two arguments against the existence of God unconvincing.

The arguments in favor include the Kalam Cosmological Argument, the Moral Argument, the Ontological Argument, and the Argument from the Historicity of the Resurrection. There are dozens of good arguments for his existence, but I think these are the strongest.

The arguments against the existence of God that I hear are generally the Problem of Suffering and the Argument from Divine Hiddenness, both of which I have found plagued with insuperable difficulties.

Alright, this is fantastic. When asked for evidence, he replies with vague references to philosophical arguments. He explains that he finds certain ones convincing, and others not “plagues with insuperable difficulties.” Of course, he doesn’t bother to explain why. He doesn’t tell us what is convincing about some arguments and not about others. This is also an extremely common tactic. Throw out the names of some advanced philosophical arguments, and then move on without explicating, because he likely doesn’t have a full understanding of them to begin with. That said, I’ll give you some resources on these arguments.

This is also a prime example of the Gish Gallop. This is a debate tactic made popular by creationist Dwayne Gish. The tactic is to throw out more assertions than your opponent can possible address in a reasonable time frame, then claim victory when they don’t.

Kalam Cosmological Argument – A good refutation can be found here.

Moral Argument – Some good resources are here.

Ontological Argument – This one has been refuted over and over. Here is a good resource.

Argument from the Historicity of the Resurrection – This can be found here.

Problem of Suffering – This isn’t actually an argument used against Christianity. It’s only really brought up by apologists themselves. We tend to use the problem of evil, which is far more broad. You can learn about that here.

Argument from Divine Hiddenness – Again, this is one rarely used by atheists. It’s far more discussed by apologists. You can read about it here.

So, let me sum this up a bit. He’s basically put out the William Lane Craig school of thought. In other words, he believes what William Lane Craig believes, as opposed to studying the arguments himself. The ones he’s said don’t hold water…well, they aren’t arguments atheists really use, making them yet another strawman he’s erecting to make it easier for him to argue against atheism. This is incredibly dishonest.

The response from the commenters was the simple question of why the apologist thinks that morality requires a lawgiver. Let’s see the response.

Well, for the sake of the whole forum, maybe we can start a new thread that deals specifically with the moral argument. If you don’t mind, I would like this particular thread to be more of an introduction so I can get to know some of you.

I find that conversations of this nature can be intensely personal and emotional. When people do not know anything about each other, they tend to be less civil and more willing to engage in pseudo-intellectual bickering.

So, in the interest of getting to know you X, let me say that you are probably the first atheist I have met in a couple of years to actually admit to making a mistake. I cannot tell you how much respect I have for you because of that. So, genuinely, thank you. What part of the country are you in at the moment?

This is a fantastic dodge. We’re WELL into the conversation now, and some hard questions are being asked. Our apologist then shifts gears, and explains that he doesn’t want to debate any specific topics in the thread, contrary to what’s already been going on. He also reiterates the faux “mistake” of the poor wording from earlier, to assert his control over the conversation.

From here, there are some pleasantries, then the day’s discussion ends. What was accomplished in the course of this discourse? Absolutely nothing. Throughout all of that, our apologist gave only vague answers to some questions, one big Gish Gallop, and a few strawman arguments. The rest of the questions he really ignored.

Overnight, only one commenter posted. They expressed what is being called Hitchens’ Razor. “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” This is a fantastic argument. If you are asserting something with no evidence, then no one is under any obligation to take your assertions as truth. Again, as I’ve said, the more extraordinary the assertion, the more extraordinary the evidence must be.

While Hitchens was a brilliant orator and his wit and charm made him impossible not to watch, he was not a philosopher. His assertion that “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence” is, I think, evidently false.

For example, we cannot in principle provide any evidence that the past existed. Any evidence that we could provide would be in the present. Therefore, all evidence of the past is really evidence of the present. Forensic sciences like early cosmology, crime scene forensics, and historical studies all work on the un-evidenced assumption that the past was real.

Another such example would be the belief that we are not brains in a vat being stimulated to have experiences of the world in which we currently live. Any evidence one could provide for such a thing would come from the illusory world being caused by the brain stimulation, which would not constitute evidence for anything other than the illusion itself.

But as you can imagine, we all reasonably believe that the past existed and that we are not brains in a vat, even though we have no evidence for those beliefs. This was one of the brilliant contributions of Alvin Plantinga, who proposed that there are “properly basic beliefs”, or beliefs that we are rational to hold until being provided an overriding defeater.

The first point is another good example of apologist tactics. It’s a bit of an appeal to authority. He’s dismissing the person quoted because they aren’t a “philosopher.” Neither is he, or most of those he’s debating with. Whether or not someone is a philosopher doesn’t have any bearing on whether an argument is valid. Practicing philosophy doesn’t require you to be a classically trained philosopher.

The rest of his argument take a turn for the absurd, and is a beautiful illustration of apologist mental gymnastics. He claims that we can’t know the past exists. Apparently, regardless of the evidence, records, dating methods, and all the other rigorous ways a historian ascertains the truth, we can’t know for sure that he aren’t….brains in a vat. He attributes Alvin Plantinga for this brain dropping, but it really goes back to Rene Descartes. The problem is the same now as it was when Descaertes wrote “Meditations.” In order to make the argument, you have to assert that something outside of the world we currently experience can even exist. Within the confines of physical laws, we can absolutely know the past existed, and much of what happened in it. The only way to make this argument stick is to presuppose that there can be something deluding us in some way.

Since there is no way that claim can possibly be tested or proven/disproven, then it shouldn’t be asserted within any argument. It goes back to the “non-specific claim, prove me wrong!” problem that we’ve been dealing with. It’s a non-argument, because it can’t exist within what we CAN know. Good try, though.

Now, here, I asked a couple of qualifying questions. These questions should be asked before engaging in any debate with a theist.

To what level do you see the bible as literal vs. parable?

What reasons do you have to not believe in Zeus, Birget, Odin, Brahma, etc.?

The response?

The Bible is a massively complicated assembly of literature, so it is vitally important that we not try to oversimplify things. As you probably know, the Bible is 66 different “books” (some of them are short letters) written by many different authors in different times and locations and literary genres.(Also, the 66 books will vary slightly in number and order between larger divisions in Christianity, like Catholicism, Protestantism, and Greek Orthodox).

So, when we take a look at a particular passage of the Bible, it is crucial that we take into consideration all of these aspects in order to come away with the most accurate understanding of the text. For instance, when the New Testament authors use the phrase “Lamb of God” to refer to Jesus, it would be a mistake to assume that they believed that Jesus was an actual sheep of the “ovis aries” taxonomy. A broader, more complete understanding shows that he was considered a human being. When I read the Bible, I try to dig as deeply as possible into the history, genre, and language as possible so I can discover the author’s intent and understanding of the message he was trying to convey.

Why do I not believe that the pantheon of other gods from other religions exist? First, I think that each of them possess certain attributes that are less than perfect. If God exists, then he is perfect, or, as Anselm of Canterbury put it, a “being than which nothing greater can be conceived.”

Second, my reason for not believing in the deities of other religions is that the evidence for Christianity is very good. Christianity teaches that there is only one God, which means that if Christianity is true, then the gods of other religions do not exist. If one has good reason to believe that 2+2=4, it is not necessary to show that all the infinite answers besides 4 are false, right?

This is fantastic way of not answering questions posed to you. What he’s told me is not what he takes literally from the bible, but that it’s incredibly complicated, and requires a lot of study to figure out what is literal…which is to say, throughout any discourse, he can choose literal vs. metaphor as he needs in order to not be cornered.

Then, of course, his reasoning for not believing in other gods is because his exists, so they can’t. He also cites nonspecific evidence for his. Again, this is a common apologist tact that allows them to commit to nothing, while trying to sound like they have a vast amount of knowledge on the subject.

From here, more people asked for specific evidence, since he’s yet to provide any. I also addressed his arguments in the same way I did above, and expressed that there isn’t a conversation we can have with him because of his answers. Questions are thrown out asking if he values truth and wants his beliefs informed by reality, etc. These are, again, common questions that need to be asked, especially since his previous posts have left us nothing to really discuss that holds value.

Let’s see his list of responses.

Yes, I value truth and very much agree that it is important that our beliefs correspond with reality.
Yes, I understand that my beliefs will affect my decision-making and that my decisions may affect other people.
Yes, it is very important to me personally that I believe truths and not falsehoods.

I do not know what I said to make you think that I would simply change how I interpret the Bible based on what I want it to mean. That is the epitome of dishonesty. Rather, what I said is that I want to find out what the author’s intent is and what the context is actually supposed to mean. This is sometimes straightforward and sometimes very complicated, as I hope you can agree.

Also, what makes you think I am not open to changing my mind? Have I said anything that would lead you to believe such a thing? If not, why would you accuse me of such a thing?

He agrees that he wants his beliefs to reflect reality, but still gives no indication of any evidence to support em. He then, of course, turns things on me. He’s attempting to shift the conversation again, to make himself some sort of victim for being called out on his shallow arguments. I’ve explained the reasoning above.

From here, I finally put things bluntly. I asked for him to explain what parts of the bible he takes literally, since he only described how he decides, not what he’s decided upon. I also asked for his answer to what would change his mind.

I think you missed the part where I wanted this particular thread to be more about getting to know some of you and discussing details about what I believe rather than going into the details of why I think those beliefs are reasonable. I am happy to give those details in other threads, but as I said, when I do not know anything about the people I am speaking with, I find that the conversation is much less likely to be civil and productive.

For instance, your attitude is much more accusatory than either X or Y, who were both willing to share about themselves and have acted pleasantly toward me. I feel like conversation with them can be more open and honest because of those introductions.

I am not saying that you have to divulge personal information about yourself, but just know that I am much less willing to have this type of conversation with someone who is as accusatory as yourself and not willing to share more openly who he is.

Then comes the classic dodge. Let’s get to know each other! This is a great way of not answering questions. He also had created no other thread to answer any questions. Why would he? He’s doing just fine answering nothing specific, and shifting all burden to his opponents. This is something to definitely watch out for. Remember, he came to us wanting to discuss his faith. Only halfway through the conversation did he backtrack and say that he didn’t want to do…what he said he wanted to do…but instead wanted us all to get to know one another.

I should also note that throughout this, you have one member of the group trying to apologize for and make excuses for people being “combative” as she puts it. The problem is that we aren’t discussing casually with an everyday believer. We’re dealing with an apologist who has coming using inherently dishonest tactics in an attempt to justify his own rationalizations and play the victim when cornered. That’s how apologists work.

At this point, I’ve bowed out, as everyone should have when confronted with this type of argumentation. Others continued on. Let’s get on to the next bit of rhetoric.

You first asked for the evidence I used to conclude that Christianity is better than the other religions. I would prefer to word it as “the evidence that led me to conclude that Christianity is true.” As I noted above, I find the arguments for the existence of God plausible – the Kalam, Moral, Ontological, and Resurrection arguments. And I do not find the arguments against the existence of God plausible; rather, they seem to be unsalvageable. Since there are only really two main arguments against the existence of God, I think the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of his existence.

Second, you asked if there are any arguments or evidence that could in principle change my mind about God. To start, I actually have changed my mind about God before. Not

from theism to atheism, but rather what the evidence shows that God is like. My beliefs about God are constantly being modified by the evidence.

But you might be asking more simply what it would take for me to reject belief in God. To that, I honestly do not know. That is like asking what one will do in case he is found in the middle of a bank robbery or what one would do if stranded at sea. It is hard to tell. I would hope that if God did not actually exist, that solid arguments and evidence would be forthcoming. Perhaps it could be shown that the concept of God was logically incoherent or that new evidence showed that Jesus was not raised from the dead (although that would merely show that Christianity was false, not that atheism is true).

Additionally, it would admittedly be very difficult for me to reject my experiences with answered prayer and personal transformation. And while these are much more subjective in nature, I think they are nevertheless good reasons for believing. After all, one cannot escape some level of subjectivity in assessing truth, since all objective truths are analyzed through the lens of our subjective consciousness. Just as it is hard to deny that you know someone after having interacted with them for a long time, it would be difficult to deny my knowing God through experience and learning who he is through the Bible.

As I have said, though, I am willing to be corrected. I want the truth no matter what. I crave it.

Ok, here we get into some fun stuff. These are wonderfully vague assertions that mean almost nothing. Let me break them down.

First, he speaks of evidence….by evidence, I mean he just reiterated the arguments that make sense to him, while not explaining them, and the strawman of what arguments exist against his god. This is fantastic. The fact that certain arguments make subjective sense to you does not constitute evidence.

Then he talks about what would change his mind. In essence, he commits to nothing. That means there is no criteria by which he can be convinced, so he can move the goal post indefinitely. Then he makes that same fallacy about atheism. He says that if we disprove christianity, it doesn’t mean atheism is true. That’s a non-statement. Atheism is purely the lack of belief in a deity. That’s it. There is not proving it true. There’s only whether sufficient evidence exists for a deity. That’s it. But again, the most common apologist tactic is to misuse the term atheism, in order to lay the onus of proof on the negative stance.

He goes on even more to show that he’s not going to change his mind, no matter what’s put before him, while still asserting that he craves the truth. It’s a bit of comedy, really, to anyone who has studied philosophy, argumentation, or even basic critical thinking.

This is all pretty well expressed in the comments from there.

I have indeed studied the Kalam in depth and even taught a class that included the Kalam as part of its curriculum.

First, you say that the Kalam argument is subject to special pleading. Most of the time this claim is leveled against the first premise: Everything that begins to exist has a cause. But this is not special pleading, since there is nothing about God implied by this premise. 

It seems obvious – it is taken as a foundational truth in philosophy – that things that begin to exist do not pop into existence uncaused out of nothing. So, the claim that the argument uses special pleading is simply false. Special pleading involves citing something as an exception to a generally accepted rule. Is it a generally accepted rule in philosophy that “everything (no exceptions) has a “external” cause”? Not at all.

Spinoza put it well – “Since existing is something positive, we cannot say that it has nothing as its cause (by Axiom 7). Therefore we must assign some positive cause, or reason, why [a thing] exists—either an external one, i.e., one outside the thing itself, or an internal one, one comprehended in the nature and definition of the existing thing itself.”

Descartes supports a sort of negative rule that “From nothing, nothing comes.” This means that things that come into being must have something to cause their coming into existence.
This is common rhetoric. The simplest is to ask “Then what caused god?” It again just inserts god into a pocket of scientific ignorance, rather than prove a god exists. It’s an argument well refuted over the years. Here he simply shows how little he knows of how science works, and instead relies on a couple philosophical sound bytes that sound like they agree with him. It still presupposes god to make the argument, as opposed to proving god because of the argument.

This is expressed fairly well by commenters. Prepare for another Gish Gallop.

The first premise does not omit anything. It does not make any reference to God at all, nor is the wording hedged to exclude God. If God does exist and never began to exist, then the claim “Everything has a cause” would be incorrect. But the first premise merely says that everything that begins to exist has a cause, the negation of which is clearly absurd.

Also, many philosophers believe that the set of things which do not begin to exist is infinitely large, due to a realist perspective of abstract objects like numbers and sets. Therefore, the special pleading objection on the grounds that the premise does not “accomodate more than just ‘god'” falls flat. Also, atheist philosophers themselves have traditionally claimed that the universe does not need a cause because they thought it was eternal and never came into existence, so how could it be claimed that the premise is guilty of special pleading?

Additionally, if one claims that everything has an external cause, one begs the question against necessarily existing beings. If a being exists necessarily, then it cannot have an external cause.

Since the special pleading objection fails, one must decide whether the first premise seems more plausible than the negation. So, do you think it is more plausible that things pop into being uncaused out of nothing or that things that come into existence have an external cause?

 You also ask, “What makes you think there has ever been a state of non-existence?” I think the evidence shows that there has never been a state of affairs in which nothing existed. The science leans heavily in favor of an absolute beginning for the universe. If the universe had a beginning, then it must have had a cause. But if time itself had a beginning, as the science suggests, then the cause must have been beginningless. Therefore, there has never been a point at which nothing has existed.

Also, you said that a logical proof does not necessarily describe anything in reality. This is true, but the force of the Kalam argument is that it uses things we know or have good evidence for in reality and shows why those things make it reasonable to believe that the universe was created by a timeless, spaceless, immaterial, powerful, personal being.

I think this is a particularly instructive article for anyone who thinks that the Kalam argument is easily dismissed: Article

Again, this is circular logic. He claims not to be presupposing god, then he presupposes god. He claims nothing can have no cause, but god has no cause. It goes on and on. This is why this argument is so poor. You’re using what we know about the physical world to try and prove the supernatural world. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way, because you apply properties that don’t exist in the natural world to god, making it impossible to prove or disprove using the natural world as a guide. I’ll do a rbutr to that little blog post or “article” later, for kicks.

This was his final argument on the thread. See, the moment you encounter someone who admits that they have no idea what evidence could change their belief, whatever that belief is, then you’re dealing with someone who can do the most intricate mental gymnastics to rationalize their belief regardless of what is put before them. They are not worth engaging in any meaningful way. Our time is always better spent with people who are willing to be honest and have an open discourse. Not those who want to see how many abstract arguments they can put out to what is a mostly amateur group, just to say “those atheists couldn’t argue with my logic!”

There was another thread started to discuss a few finer points, but I think this is more than enough to show you how to handle the problem of the apologist, and why it’s never productive to give them a platform or any credence whatsoever.

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

Thank you for reading Rationality Unleashed! You can “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @rationalityunle. For any questions, concerns, or comments beyond what can be placed in the comments section of the blog, email us at admin@rationalityunleashed.net.

Advertisements

Unleash your input

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s