Thursday, June 14, 2007

Why Do Theists Lie?

Last week in The Times letters page, in a response to a previous article by Christopher Hitchens, Paul Wooley, a Director of the religious pressure-group Theos defined atheism as a faith, and implied that it was indistinguishable qua faith from Xtianity - his own particular faith, and the one which his group was set up to defend from rationality, logic and science. Wooley then declaimed that people like Hitchens, Dawkins and Grayling were extreme fundamentalists, implying all the same disapprobation for them as when that appellation is applied to Xtian or Muslim psychopaths. Unurprisingly, Wooley did not use the opportunity to address the central tenet of Hitchens' article, or that of atheism itself: that there is no credible objective evidence that this entity called 'God', which Wooley is paid a handsome salary to defend, exists.

Not to be outdone in the abuse stakes, an ignoramus who called himself the Rev. Kerby Rials joined in, and claimed that atheism is a religion, per se, and a failed one at that. Furthermore, Rials declared that what he calls the 'atheistic religion' was the most vile experiment which had been perpetrated on a long-suffering world, and that it was no more than "a refuge for those fleeing from God." Unsurprisingly, Rials did not use the opportunity to address the central tenet of Hitchens' article, or that of atheism itself: that there is no credible objective evidence that this entity called 'God', which Rials is paid a handsome salary to defend, exists.

But then the voice of reason chimed in, assuming the persona of one Graham Brown, who recognised correctly that atheism is neither a faith nor a religion, but then went on to dismiss it on the grounds that Hitchins' criticism that different religions differ in their interpretation of god(s) doesn't mean that ALL religions are not true. Correct, Graham, but sadly for you it doesn't mean that ANY ONE religion is true either. Unsurprisingly, Brown did not use the opportunity to address the central tenet of Hitchens' article, or that of atheism itself: that there is no credible objective evidence that this entity called 'God' exists.

Not to be outdone in the ratiocination stakes, one P. Thomas Murray attacked Hitchins for not being able to prove that 'God' doesn't exist. Murray continued with by paraphrasing Chuang Tzu's 'butterfly dream', whilst completely missing the point of that learned sage's philosophy: reality exists irrespective of and independent from subjective perceptions, thus if 'God' exists, there must be some empiric evidence independent of those who claim 'He' does. Unsurprisingly, Murray did not use the opportunity to address the central tenet of Hitchin's article, or that of atheism itself: that there is no credible objective evidence that this entity called 'God' exists.

Four letters, all attacking atheism, yet the writers of them deliberately distorting facts and avoiding the real issues: there is no credible objective evidence that this entity they call 'God' exists and there never has been. That is why so-called 'sophisticated theologians' and 'devout believers' have declared over the millennia that facts must be denied when these conflict with their faith.

And despite the lies uttered by Messrs. Wooley, Rials, Brown and Murray, atheism does not deny the facts; it simply acknowledges THE FACT that there is no credible objective evidence that this entity that theists call 'God' exists.

Oh, BTW, if anyone out there has such evidence, don't be shy, share it with us and I, for one, will use my best endeavours to ensure that you are given the recognition that you so truly deserve.

7 comments:

Alan Mackenzie said...

At the risk of sounding like a pedant, you misspelled Hitchens' name.

The people you referenced in your article are committing the fallacy of equivocation, by using the term faith interchangeably to mean two different things. It is a standard trick, used by apologetics to shift the burden of proof to those who disagree with them. Those unfamiliar with classical logic may fail to identify this sophistry, however, like you, I am not fooled.

If we define atheism as the absence of theism, which it is, then we are left with theists making a positive claim that carries a burden of proof. It is not up to atheists to demonstrate that there is not a God. It is theists who carry the burden of proof to demonstrate that there is a God.

Alan Mackenzie said...

but then went on to dismiss it on the grounds that Hitchins' criticism that different religions differ in their interpretation of god(s) doesn't mean that ALL religions are not true.

Not all religions can be true, but they can all be false.

Not to be outdone in the ratiocination stakes, one P. Thomas Murray attacked Hitchins for not being able to prove that 'God' doesn't exist.

One can, for example, in limited circumstances, prove by means of a priori reasoning that certain things cannot exist, if the premise leads to a logical impossible conclusion, i.e. that no married bachelors exist. However, with reference to Hume's problem of induction, it is not normally possible to prove that certain things do not exist in universal terms.

As you will no doubt be aware, when someone cannot prove that their position is true, they will demand that the skeptic proves that Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Jesus, does not exist.

Four letters, all attacking atheism, yet the writers of them deliberately distorting facts and avoiding the real issues

What is new here? Religious sophists hope that, by repeating their defective arguments, the public will eventually accept them. Hopefully the public will get bored instead.

The Merchant of Menace said...

At the risk of sounding like a pedant, you misspelled Hitchens' name.At the risk of sounding like a pedant, you misspelled Hitchens' name.

Well spotted, so I did, but now corrected, thanks.

Religious sophists hope that, by repeating their defective arguments, the public will eventually accept them. Hopefully the public will get bored instead.

Hopefully the public will do no such thing. Hopefully the public will become more vociferous in expressing their disapprobation at the complete and utter falsehoods on which all religions rely for their foundations, as well as for the unscrupulous, manipulative and dysfunctional religious apologists who continue to project those lies onto the rest of us.

Alan Mackenzie said...

I think that the biggest threat to the Christian religion in this country, is not atheist activism, but indifference. The Anglican church has practically thrown God out of the window in an attempt to survive, yet congregations are falling in numbers.

I would indeed hope that the public will condemn this, but I think the reality is very different.

Papalazarou said...

"Why Do Theists Lie?"

because the facts and the truths do not support their nonsensical position - of course

The Merchant of Menace said...

"Why Do Theists Lie?"

because the facts and the truths do not support their nonsensical position - of course


Yes, that is raaather inconvenient for them, to put it mildly!

But frauds like Robert Godwin PhD (gosh, I am sooo impressed by his qualifications),do not allow minor issues such as those you mention to discomfit him, because he ripostes with the equally fatuous nonsense that the only reason that we do not experience the reality of (his) 'God' is because we are not as advanced as he is in developing and using our 'higher powers' - in other words, he's just another irrational, dysfunctional, needy and manipulative psychopath who will say and do anything to justify himself.

Paddy's World said...

I only just came across this piece.

It is you who misses the point.

No evidence that God exists? Of course He does. And those of us with faith are aware of ample evidence. You may not accept it, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

I will ask you two questions.

One, can you prove this isn't all a dream?

Two, why is it necessary for you, and your ilk, to be abusive towards those with whom you disagree?