Atheism is Illogical Part Four: Evidence and Fallacies – The Atheist’s Headache

We have seen in Part 1 and Part 2 that atheism is a belief and a truth claim. We saw in Part 3, the belief of atheism is inherently illogical as a truth claim. Now, as promised, we turn to the issue of evidence.

So far we have not touched on the favorite argument of the atheists, the main plank of their platform: the claim that there is no evidence for God and therefore there is no God, and belief in God is wrong and delusional. Certainly, that argument is fallacious–the classic argumentum ad ignorantiam fallacy. So, even if we grant atheists their claim that there is no evidence for God they are still illogical to argue from that there is no God. Once again, atheism is completely illogical. But are the atheists correct in their assertion that there is no evidence for God?

What is Evidence?

This is one of those questions that everyone thinks they know the answer but if they thought about it they find it is not so simple. We want to think that what counts as evidence is something clear cut, but the reality is that it is not. Like most of human culture, what counts as evidence is a matter of subjective opinion. Some might object that this thing called “science” can determine what objectively counts as evidence. The trouble with that is that “science” is not a divine force but a human activity created and continued by human beings with all the inherent frailties that come with that. C.S. Pierce argued that “science” is superior to other methods of fixing “truth” in that, unlike individual or authoritative methods, it takes into account multiple perspectives to reach a consensus. It’s the old “two heads are better than one” idea and it works. But science, though the best method for answering many questions, is still subject to human subjectivity and all human limits in perception and thinking. All scientific perspectives are still relative to a human observer. And, of course, we can only think about what we can perceive, so the limits of human perception is a very important issue for all human inquiry and especially science. Science has been very good at attempting to overcome the limits of human perception though inventing and using instruments to extend our ability to perceive. When Robert Hooke published Micrographia in 1665, it fundamentally changed the way we viewed our world, showing us what we, including scientists, could not see before. So what counts as evidence is dependent on human limitations and human subjectivity.

So the atheist demands evidence of God. That’s fair. So what would constitute evidence of God? The atheist usually gives a simplistic response of demanding God show himself or herself as though the way divinity should behave is through columns of fire or booming voices. True, some religious types do believe God manifests in that way (or used to anyway) but the majority recognize the atheist demand for the cartoon silliness that it is. Obviously, a deity, or messenger thereof, popping up like the Metatron in Bethany’s bedroom would constitute evidence but demanding that evidence be of a particular character is irrational not to mention unscientific. Let us look at an analogy that will clarify the issue.

The Atheist’s Headache

At this moment, you either do or do not have a headache. Please tell us which. Oh, and with your yes or no answer (there are no other possible options), please provide proof of your answer. No, saying you have a headache or not is not proof. What, you can’t provide any proof? Any evidence at all besides your claim? No? So we have to take your word on it for what you are experiencing? Why, yes, that is right, we would. We would, in fact, be irrational not to mention unscientific and unfair, to demand you supply evidence of whether you do or do not have a headache. Yet, the fact that we cannot prove whether anyone does or does not have a headache is not a disproof of the existence of headaches or proof that anyone who claims to have one had no such experience.

And any honest person at this point sees the relevance of this to atheism’s argument. God could be like a headache, not in that God is a pain (though that is possible) but that God could be something that is experienced such that the reality of the experience is impossible to prove to another–like such realities no rational person denies like love, loyalty, and so on. The atheist will almost certainly respond that “a headache is something inside a person’s head and so is God, ha, ha, ha.” However, that juvenile red herring would not address the fact that all experiences are like that. Did you see the sunrise this morning? No, a photograph doesn’t prove it because that doesn’t prove that you saw it. How about this: did you notice the bird singing while the sun was rising? You could perhaps prove there was a bird singing at sunrise but you cannot prove that you noticed it at the time. And let’s take that another direction: if you did not notice the bird singing at sunrise that in no way is evidence that there was no bird singing at sunrise. That is obvious to any rational person and yet it is the same argument that atheists insist on: they don’t notice any evidence for god therefore there is no evidence there is a god. The atheist fallacy is they want to turn human limitation and subjectivity into a universal objective proof.

Conclusion

So the list of what the atheist cannot prove is identical to the list of atheist beliefs: god does not exist, there is no evidence for god, belief in god is irrational, belief in god is delusional, and so on. The atheist is left with no evidence whatsoever, no rational argument, no position to stand on. Ironically, the theist at least has an out unavailable to the atheist in that the theist can stand on the premise that his or her experience of a divine being is ineffable and thus impeachable. That is a possibility. The atheist can only counter that he or she has no such experience, but that does not entitle them to their next step which is that god does not exist. Can a blind person rationally argue that because they cannot see there is no evidence for the existence of light and therefore belief in light is irrational and delusional? Of course not, but that is identical to what the atheist argues. So while theists have something to talk about in their alleged experiences of god the atheist can contribute nothing to that conversation. That may explain why so many atheists actively try to sabotage and silence discussion about religious experience and belief (and don’t deny it atheists you know you do).

This discussion leaves the atheist with only one possible response: accepting that atheism is not a rational rejection of a proposition but an emotional expression of a lifestyle choice–a life without engaging in the discourse about the nature of the absolute. Here finally the atheist is on at least some kind of solid ground, staking a position outside of the discourse, living a life where the discourse does not matter to the atheist. But here still we see a lack of logic of the atheists: they seek to be outside the discourse but still claim the right to critique those engaging in the discourse. If atheism is this removal of self from the discourse then they have rendered themselves irrelevant to the discourse. One of my colleagues responds that it sounds like I am telling the atheist to be quiet and stand in the corner. My response is that if I and a friend are talking about baseball and you jumped into the middle of that discourse saying baseball is a stupid game and no rational person should discuss it, everyone would agree that you are being rude and boorish. You need not stand in the corner but if you have nothing to contribute to the discourse, why speak? For example, I have zero interest in NASCAR, it more or less does not exist for me, but I do not inflict my belief onto NASCAR fans, do not promulgate anti-NASCAR sentiments, and certainly do not say things like NASCAR fans are irrational and deluded and should be quiet about their beliefs. The atheist should ask himself, why bother speaking if you have nothing to contribute to the conversation? Anyone openly brandishing the label atheist is showing not disinterest in the conversation but active intent to antagonize others. As mentioned in Part 1, living without belief in god requires no label, it is simply living. Adopting the label “atheist” is adopting an antagonistic stance against religion and religious people. We see such behavior on any other topic to be immature and so should we see the atheist in that way. If that thought offends them then it is a sign of something deeper bothering them and they should deal with their personal issues in a more constructive way.

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16 Responses to Atheism is Illogical Part Four: Evidence and Fallacies – The Atheist’s Headache

  1. Constructive and engaged conversation welcome; ad hominem will be deleted as spam.

  2. FanaticMan says:

    “At this moment, you either do or do not have a headache. Please tell us which. Oh, and with your yes or no answer (there are no other possible options), please provide proof of your answer. No, saying you have a headache or not is not proof. What, you can’t provide any proof? Any evidence at all besides your claim? No? So we have to take your word on it for what you are experiencing? Why, yes, that is right, we would. We would, in fact, be irrational not to mention unscientific and unfair, to demand you supply evidence of whether you do or do not have a headache. Yet, the fact that we cannot prove whether anyone does or does not have a headache is not a disproof of the existence of headaches or proof that anyone who claims to have one had no such experience.”

    Not that I’m ever fond of using science to undermine conceptual issues, don’t PET scans cause huge problems for this analogy whilst in turn bolstering the pro-science camp?

    Separately, this solipsistic approach:

    “Did you see the sunrise this morning? No, a photograph doesn’t prove it because that doesn’t prove that you saw it.”

    also leads to a lot of academic discussion in philosophy circles (phew, back to safety) and could hardly be considered a conclusive argument, no?

  3. Good questions. To the first, brain imaging does not illuminate as much as the materialist crowd want it to. They assume their materialist conclusion prior to the experiment. They, for example, conduct an experiment where they ask the subject a question and then their brain imager lights up and they go “aha, see the brain is causing thought.” This is the cause and effect fallacy because it is just as, if not more, likely that what their brain imager is picking up is the effect of the thought not the cause of the thought. Even if they conducted a controlled study that said all people reporting experiencing a headache shows a particular response on the brain imger and all people not reporting experiencing a headache do not show that response, there is still no way to separate out causes and effects of pain-experience-imager data.

    My example of noticing the bird at sunrise is a conclusive argument only in that it points out that someone claiming they did not experience something is not a disproof of that something. If multiple individuals can truthfully say they heard the bird at sunrise, another individual saying they did not cannot impeach the testimony of the others because it shows only that the latter individual did not notice. I think this adds weight to the rejection of the atheist non-experience argument. It in itself does not conclusively prove the atheist wrong, but combined with the other arguments, it defeats the atheist’s argument.

  4. FanaticMan says:

    Many thanks for the swift response. Regarding your first paragraph, I don’t feel this quite brings the issue fully into light; causation aside, the correlation is evident to the extent that all the people participating can mutually reinforce the use of the word and the sharing of the experience ‘headache’. I mean, you could make all sorts of argument about causation in any case as, per Hume, it can only ever be regarded as a belief– All science being inductive reasoning. The moment you encounter the black swan, etc.. I don’t think this could be analogous with a concept such as ‘god’, no?

  5. If we accept, as we must, that all psychic states are undemonstrable (like a headache) then we must accept that so is religious experience. That being the case, the atheist has no standing in dismissing religious experience. The atheist is like a person saying “no, you don’t have a headache.” And equally childish.

  6. FanaticMan says:

    “If we accept, as we must, that all psychic states are undemonstrable (like a headache) then we must accept that so is religious experience.”

    This analogy would be fine if religious experience were analogous sensation to a sensation such as a headache, question aside of whether a headache is the same or similar to another headache. Is a ‘sudden realisation’ analogous to a headache, as an example? I think it’s worth mentioning the difficulties language here has in categorising concepts (as well as those to which it gives birth). What could be the criterion of correctness for differentiating various types of hallucinations from religious experience, for instance, in your view? Or schizophrenic bouts? How do we know that people who claim to have a ‘religious experience’ are all sharing the same, or even remotely similar occurrences? I only ask as there is of course a wealth of literature examining ideas surrounding social reinforcement in this context; I mean, it’s certainly no coincidence that most religious people had either a religious upbringing via their parents or their schooling. The same applies to any number of other concepts acquired.

    “That being the case, the atheist has no standing in dismissing religious experience.”

    Given what I’ve said above, the atheist could certainly be entitled to treat it as, for instance, a paranoid delusion or some other neurological affect. Ironically, though, that would be considered a more offensive stance I suppose.

  7. “This analogy would be fine if religious experience were analogous sensation to a sensation such as a headache.”

    In terms of any external judgement of another’s experience, yes it is. You witness no more or no less of another’s headache than a religious experience. That was the basis of my article. Whatever story you create to try to explain away religious experience, it does not magically give you a god’s-eye view of another person’s consciousness. The atheist has no justification whatsoever to determine whether someone’s claim of a religious experience is delusional or not. The atheist’s dismissal without evidence or justification of others’ religious experience reveals the prejudice and irrationality of atheism.

  8. FanaticMan says:

    I must say, I don’t subscribe to the ‘god’s-eye’ view of consciousness; Wittgenstein and G. Ryle beat it out of me. Cartesian dualism does nothing for me.

    “The atheist has no justification whatsoever to determine whether someone’s claim of a religious experience is delusional or not.”

    Part of the reason being exemplified by this. Solipsism, to me, seems irrefutable, which always concerns me as an academic foundation. I suppose in the same way a concept such as ‘god’ is irrefutable, where absolutely anything and everything can be said to apply or to save the vague and specious idea.

    Similar, I suppose, to an argument such as “we’ll never actually *know* what colour grass is [on a noumenal level, perhaps] because we’re only equipped with the organic faculties we have; note how this differs with a lion’s, for instance. Which one of us is correct? Is there no ‘correct’ in this instance?’ etc. etc. ‘We all call grass green but do we *actually* all see the same colour when looking at it?’

    The quoted sentence above has problems for me in that, as I’m sure you’ll very readily agree given your above argument, it doesn’t matter whether that ‘experience’ is religious or not since the logic applies to *all* experiences and all ‘private’ sensations, where, alas, I concur with contrary literature. The reason we all mutually refer to a headache *meaningfully* (or the colour of grass) even if, philosophically, it’s quite possible to create all sorts of intellectual puzzles, is from a cultural appreciation for what we are trying to refer; where, socially, our language facilitates this. The fact that so many religious concepts or metaphysical concepts occur in particular communities where these ideas are nurtured, encouraged, or maintained rings alarm bells for me.

    Still, I found this a very interesting read and thank you for sharing it; especially for taking the time and having the patience to respond to my queries!

  9. I appreciate your thoughtful response. Like your earlier ones, it offers much to think about.

    You are understanding the intent of my argument correctly that I am equating religious experience with any and all other human experience in terms of its impeachability by a third party. The absurdity of the atheist is in taking a ‘god’s-eye’ view of another consciousness than their own.

    “The fact that so many religious concepts or metaphysical concepts occur in particular communities where these ideas are nurtured, encouraged, or maintained rings alarm bells for me.”

    In terms of quantity of religious experience, it is found universally in all human cultures, past and present regardless of their environment, technology,and most important to your point, language. That the religious experiences are expressed predominantly in terms of the norms of that culture should not surprise us because all human experience is xpressed predominantly in terms of the norms of that culture and thus it should not raise any alarm for you. We can extend the headache analogy: people will express to others their experience of a headache in the language and practices of that culture and we would never suggest that similarity of expression means the expressions of headaches are somehow suspect. In regards to your point about certain ideas being “ideas are nurtured, encouraged, or maintained” in a culture (a good point), we can apply this to headaches as well. If an individual feels free to admit they have a headache they are more likely to do so than in a culture where admitting to pain is discouraged. Look, for example, at how men are discouraged from admitting they suffer from depression of poor self-esteem and therefore repress any such feelings, but if supported in expressing such feelings, they are more likely to admit and discuss them. Same with religious experiences. So we should be more surprised if we didn’t find more people sharing their religious experiences in a culture that nurtured such sharing.

  10. johnsandel79 says:

    If I might offer my two cents:

    “You are understanding the intent of my argument correctly that I am equating religious experience with any and all other human experience in terms of its impeachability by a third party. The absurdity of the atheist is in taking a ‘god’s-eye’ view of another consciousness than their own.”

    If I may interject, although it looks as if discussion has come to a civil halt here, I feel FanaticMan hit the crux of the problem by focusing on the Cartesian dualism of the above. There has been a trend of academia from the early twentieth century to present (Wittgenstein – Ryle (and other OLPs) – Searle – Dennett, to name just one trend) that has dismantled the idea that it would be ‘absurd’ to claim to be able peer into another’s consciousness, purely because the language used to express this idea has constructed an errant approach to the subject matter; that is, that the mind-body dichotomy is outdated, misleading, and inaccurate.

    “In terms of quantity of religious experience, it is found universally in all human cultures, past and present regardless of their environment, technology,and most important to your point, language.”

    Also, I’m not sure what FanaticMan would have to say on the matter, but I wouldn’t be able to agree with this myself. I mean, James’ very concept of ‘religious experience’ is such a very new one and, as I’m aware from my own years spent living throughout Asia, would be completely incompatible and unintelligible to certain eastern cultures– Kensh? being a prime example. Such believers would not be able to relate. The western world might interpret or even claim parallels but it could never be verifiable except among… westerners! And even then it seems likely to suggest there would be widespread disagreement about *what* constitutes ‘religious experience’ in any case since, invariably, the supposèd sensations will have been reportedly wildly differently depending on culture and time!

    As a by the by, I did wonder whether the Pirahã would technically qualify. The Swedish, as well. Or is their remnant religious language (in the latter’s case) purely a relic of a bygone time now?

  11. johnsandel79 says:

    Also, I thought this excerpt might be of interest to both of you:

    “And the problem of interpretation is another defeater of religious experience. The inference from a subjective experience to its interpretation in religious terms is not very obviously a necessary, let alone sufficient explanation. As far as we know, no private experience comes with the tag ‘sent by God’ attached to it. The way we choose to interpret an intense subjective experience is contingent upon available discourses in our socio-cultural environment. Wittgenstein’s ‘Beetle in the box’ analogy might be very useful in this case. (Wittgenstein was hinting to a form of fundamental epistemic relativism which coincidentally reduces religion too to one ‘language game’ among many. Restricting the ‘beetle in the box’ thought experiment to religious experience might be very revealing.) Let’s imagine that every individual that had a religious experience was like someone who had a box containing something they call ‘beetle’. ‘No one can look into anyone else’s box, and everyone says he knows what a beetle is only by looking at his beetle’ (Wittgenstein, 1984, p.373).? But each individual might have a totally different thing inside their box, thus what the concept ‘beetle’ stands for (the content of the box) becomes irrelevant. That is, the subjective experience becomes irrelevant and the only relevant thing is the language we choose to interpret that experience. The religious interpretation of an experience, which seems to be an arbitrary interpretation, reveals us only the readiness of an individual to associate certain experiences with a religious vocabulary (a language game) but not some objective truth about the world, let alone the existence of God, for there is no logical necessity to infer God from powerful emotions or extraordinary experiences. ‘People will interpret the experiences they have in terms of the beliefs that they have available to interpret them with’ (Ward, 2011) ?says Keith Ward, and then, quite nonchalantly he states ‘I think there is a God. So I’m going to interpret those experiences theistically’ (Ward,2011). Ward seems to acknowledge the total contingency and arbitrariness of interpretation, confirming Pascal Boyer’s thesis that ‘it is the prior concept that makes sense of the experience rather than the opposite’ (Boyer, 2001). So employing a certain vocabulary traditionally used when trying to make sense of certain unfamiliar mind states and psychological experiences doesn’t warrant the truthfulness, the non-contingency of that vocabulary. This habitual association between powerful, even life changing experiences and religious discourse seems to be rather a psychological than a philosophical theme.”

    This, I assume, are some expanded thoughts on your own point, FanaticMan?

  12. Kevin Stern says:

    I first want to say that I loved your article. I often make this claim about atheists, but because I am an undergrad, I am typically attacked and called stupid. I do not have the credentials, such as yourself, and other commenting, so I hope I am not embarrassing myself by replying…I have read or skimmed all of the reply to ensure you have not already addressed my statement, but I wanted to comment anyways…Now I agree that semantics plays a role, but I do not fully agree with your evaluation of “agnostic atheist.” Brian D. Buckley touches on this in the reply area of your second section. I do agree with your claim that agnostic is the only intellectually honest position. Neil deGrasse Tyson also makes this claim. This may not be the dictionary definition, but I take the term agnostic, one step further. Not only would I define it as not knowing, but I also consider it to mean that we do not have the ability to know at this point in history with our current knowledge and technology. Because of this, agnostic is my intellectual conclusion, which you have stated is the only intellectually honest one.

    What I disagree with, is that one cannot be an agnostic atheist. Agnostic is my conclusion, but atheism is my OPINION. I consider myself a true agnostic, but if I were forced to guess, I would lean towards there being no god. My wife on the other hand is an agnostic theist/deist. She does not claim to know, but she believes it is more likely that there is a god or higher power. When I call myself an agnostic atheist, I am not confused, I am simply stating my conclusion and my opinion. The difference is that I do not claim that my opinion is scientific or supported by science, only that that is the direction I lean, if that makes sense? I am very careful to make this distinction because I find intellectual honesty to be of the upmost importance.

    I respect what you are doing by using the dictionary definitions. I agree with the vast majority of what you are saying and use the dictionary definitions myself, specifically when atheists try to define “mental illness.” At the same time, dictionary definitions are very tricky when talking about belief. When one studies religion in an academic setting, like I do, we find that people’s beliefs rarely, if ever, fit into a dictionary definition. Look at all of the different denominations of Christians that believe, in some cases, VERY different things. Mormons consider themselves Christian. There are also Christians that do not believe in the divinity of Christ. But who are we to tell them their beliefs are wrong, or that they are not Christian by a dictionary definition?

    Though I do agree that most atheists are expressing a truth claim in their stance, I just feel the need to point out how this can be complicated. I understand what you are doing though. You are doing the same thing I do…you are putting the militant New Atheists in their place by showing them that their reasoning is not superior or perfect, and that they are actually hypocrites.

    One final thing…I wanted to comment on one of your quotes…

    “One other point I want to address: though I am non-religious, I do NOT think religious belief is stupid or wrong. Some of the most amazing, intelligent, wonderful people I have known are religious believers, and I think their beliefs have a lot to do with their positive attributes. I respect those good people who believe in deities (I do not mean Fundamentalist zealots who only believe in their hatreds); I do not respect those who hate and denigrate believers.”

    This is exactly how I feel and this is the view I am trying to promote in the atheist community. This is what I have learned in the study of religion and is actually the only intellectually honest stance. Anti-theists and the New Atheists are oblivious to the fact that they are, by the dictionary definition, bigots. I wish there were more people like you promoting these obvious facts, but at the end of the day, you are not going to change the minds of atheists, because they are just as religious as those they hate…

  13. Thanks for that great reply, Kevin, and your kind comments.

    I am a college professor, and I get attacked by some if I apply any critical thinking to atheism. It was when I noticed in my classes how atheist students were so dogmatically resistant to discussing their beliefs that I started to delve into why. Then I started seeing the same in some of the faculty. It soon became obvious to me that ad hominem and wild strawman projections were dominant in atheists and that these were attempts to hide some deep insecurity they had about their beliefs.

    I think your comments on dictionary definitions are excellent. It’s a big reason why I have no patience for reductionism of any kind, fundamentalism or atheism. The phenomena of the world, especially of human beings and their beliefs are far too varied and complex to reduce to simplistic definition. That said, if you use a word then you have to use it properly in order to be understood. This is especially true in science and philosophy where we argue about the meaning of words constantly.

    On the subject of “agnostic atheism” that you bring up: you raise the important distinction between two positions within agnosticism. The first is often called “weak” agnosticism, expressed as “I do not know” and the other is often called “strong” agnosticism, expressed as “no one can know.” Weak agnosticism is a personal admission, but strong agnosticism can easily become a universal claim if it is the claim “it is impossible to know.” If so, then the critique of atheism as a truth claim equally applies to strong “impossible” agnosticism. I think the position you express, “we do not have the ability to know at this point in history with our current knowledge and technology” is a reasonable one, but probably not falsifiable. But it avoids the problem inherent in the claims of atheism and strong “impossible” agnosticism.

    Then I think you get to the heart of he matter by saying: “atheism is my OPINION.” Exactly. That is all atheism is, an opinion. I have no problem with that. But that isn’t what most atheists believe or say. Most atheists clothe their OPINION in what they think science and logic are (though they misunderstand both) and portray their atheist OPINION, as KNOWLEDGE and how dare we not acknowledge their superior intellect. So as long as you admit that it is your opinion that there is no god, and not pretend you have any proof for such opinion, then that is defensible, but understand that means your opinion is not better or different than the opinion there is a god. Because if you claim at all that your opinion is preferable to the opinion that god exists, for example. “it is more likely there is no god” then you are making a truth claim and have to provide proof for why your opinion has validity whereas the contrary opinion does not. So, you are right, your opinion is not scientific or supported by science only your personal opinion. To that you are entitled. My objection is only to any claim of atheism beyond mere opinion and conjecture. And yes, I say the exact same to those who believe in god and advance their opinion as, dare I say, gospel truth not open to discussion.

    Neil deGrasse Tyson is an example of what I object to. He has at times professed to be an atheist though he other times disingenuously says he’s agnostic to avoid the reality that atheism is indefensible as anything other than unscientific opinion. Given that Tyson frequently ridicules any belief in anything supernatural and draws a polemical distinction between “science” as good and “religion” as bad he is clearly making the truth claim there is no god despite the fact that he cannot prove his claim and is being illogical. Tyson is a hypocrite.

    You express the attitude I wish we would see more from those who are non-believers. You state it brilliantly when you say: “Anti-theists and the New Atheists are oblivious to the fact that they are, by the dictionary definition, bigots.” And “you are not going to change the minds of atheists, because they are just as religious as those they hate.” I could not have said it better.

  14. Kevin Stern says:

    I am glad I found your site. I often feel so alone because I do consider myself part of the “atheist community” but I get in so many arguments because it seems as if hating religious people is a requirement. Because I consider myself part of that community, I try to rid it of bigotry and hypocrisy. I do not blindly believe what someone else says because of the simple fact they are in my “community,” which can really turn people again you…I was also planning on going into teaching (which I decided against, because with two kids, I do not have the time and money,) but I still try to teach those around me because ignorance is the leading cause of intolerance and hate, which seems rampant in the atheist community. I thought I would be able to make some progress because atheists always talk about education, science, and logic but it turns out they are just as difficult as creationists when it comes to the topic of evolution…
    For as much as they love education, they sure criticize it as soon as it is something they do not agree with. They find out I have education in the area and are more than willing to listen…then I am just some stupid, arrogant undergrad. So instead of giving them my opinion, I scan the pages of books written by Ph.Ds and that turns into “me and my texts books,” “Second and third rate scholars,” and “cherry picking…” The reality is that I am more than qualified to say the things I do because 90% of what I say comes from a few intro college courses, if that. There is intro to scientific reasoning (which includes an intro to the idea of statistics,) intro to philosophy, and any class that teaches one how to research and use critical thinking. If I do need to explain more than that, I have the unique ability to read and comprehend books written by Ph.D.s. The conversation usually ends (thus it is not advanced,) by them calling me stupid, a liar, or a believer (I have concluded that being called a believer is supposed to be an insult…)

    I do wish they would be more open to listening to me because my education could not be put together better when talking about these topics…I will try and keep this brief…I started as a Kinesiology major, but soon became a Religious Studies major (focusing on Ancient Near Eastern Religions and the Abrahamic religions, with my minor being in Jewish Studies) and Ancient Mediterranean Studies major. I then picked up an Education major (which basically requires you to take a class in everything,) which caused me to drop my AMS major 2/3rds of the way through and pick up a History major. Those then shifted to studying religion in America, the evolution-creationism controversy, and the history and philosophy of science. The first topic for my Sr. Paper was the rise of the New Atheist movement but I changed topics because it was more of a journalistic piece, than a history piece. My topic changed to Darwin and how his religious beliefs influenced the different editions of Origins. I could literally major in “the history and philosophy of science and the design arguments. I have taken classes ON THOSE TOPICS in the following departments: Religious Studies, Education, Biology, History of Science, History, and Philosophy. I have had a number of courses (on being Darwin and Design) with Alan Love. Alan has a Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of science and a Masters in Biology. I would argue that atheists would/should value what I have to say…they would argue that I am a moron…

    I mean I am an undergrad (the language requirement is hold me up) but I recently did an interview on Al Jazeera American because of a bit I typed up a couple years ago…I am not sure how many of our New Atheists friends are doing interviews on the world’s largest media outlet, but my guess would be, not many…

    I was not aware that Neil deGrasse Tyson is a hypocrite. Then again, I have not really read more than a paragraph of what he has said (we read his statement on “Does the Universe have a Purpose.) I guess I just use his quote because he is someone the atheists generally like…It is sad that we have many great scientists and promoters of science that fall into these traps. I mean I think Bill Nye did a wonderful job debating Ken Ham on creationism, but then he goes on Bill Maher and cracks some jokes. Bill Maher is a person I am a big fan of and I agree with him 99% of the time. But then he has to go an open his mouth about religion. He is so big when it comes to “facts” and “experts” but every time he has a scholar of religion on there, he just ignores them and says “nope religion is stupid” or something along those lines. So many atheists are ignorant to the fact, or blatantly ignore, that we have scholars of religion. We have an area of study called Religious Studies, which people earn Ph.D.s in, do research, and write books. When I use the term “Religious Studies” atheists do not even have the sense to Google the term, they just assume I mean theologian…No, they do more than speculate about the Bible…

    If you are personally not familiar with the area of Religious Studies, I would recommend that you look into it if you have some time. I would suggest looking into Stephen Prothero and his book God is Not One. In it, he addresses atheism and talks about the New Atheists, or angry atheists. He makes the argument that based on his definition of religion (the 4 Cs) one could define the New Atheists as religious. I could not agree more and came to that conclusion before I even read his stuff. They are more similar to religious fundamentalists than they are different. Though he is not a scholar of religion, Chris Hedges wrote a book saying the same thing. The book is called When Atheism Becomes Religion: America’s New Fundamentalists.

    I try to promote Religious Studies as much as possible so that I do not have to explain introductory level stuff to atheists. The most irritating claim is that religion is a mental illness or a virus, often made by people such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. I am told that Dawkins is one of the world’s greatest “intellectuals,” and he is a scientist, therefore that claim is correct (And if I can read a list of logical fallacies correctly, I believe that is one 😉 ). By the way, how can I get the title “intellectual?” Do I just go around and say stuff that people want to hear? Anyways, Dawkins is not the first to make this claim. This claim was first made by Sigmund Freud about 100 years ago…We evaluated the argument in my introduction to Religious Theory course. Using the book Eight Theories of Religion by Daniel L. Pals, I can point out 14 reasons why that claim holds no weight and why it is not a scientific claim. Carl Jung did not even agree with Freud, and it’s not like Jung is new or unknown. If you want a laugh, I typed up a sarcastic bit of this claim using a diagram of the scientific method, one which the atheists so readily show to religious people. I won’t post the link here on your site, but if you are interested, I can email you the link.

    It is just so frustrating that I have to explain, to the worshiper of science and logic, that the claim “religion is a mental illness” is not scientific, nor is it a coherent argument. It is not that I am just way smarter than everyone else, I simply know how to read and introductory level book, understand the basic format of a logical argument, and can follow a diagram of the scientific method…See, it should be people like me that explain obvious and simple things to people. People with Ph.D.s have actual work to do. But I guess it is always going to be hard to explain something to the smartest guy in every room…

    Anyways, thanks for reading my ramble. I look forward to reading the rest of your stuff…

  15. Pingback: Atheism is Illogical, Part Three: The Illogical Proposition that is Atheism | Philosophy Out of the Box

  16. Pingback: Atheism is Illogical, Part One: Atheism is a Belief and a Truth Claim | Philosophy Out of the Box

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