Category Archives: Religious belief

The evil-god hypothesis.

From Born Again Pagan (click to enlarge).

Stephen Law has published a paper on theology called the evil-god challenge. Law’s position is that the problem of evil, and the Christians’ assorted theodicies, can be mirrored by the hypothesis that the supreme being is supremely evil instead of supremely good.

This evil-god is subject to the Problem of Good, just as belief in God is subject to the Problem of Evil, and can respond with the exact same theodicies. So for instance you have the free will theodicy, that God created humans with the capacity to do evil in order to let them freely choose good; evil-god likewise created humans with the capacity to do good so they could freely choose evil.

Or take the greater good theodicies. Theologians argue that evil builds character or that evil is necessary for higher-level goods. The evil-god proponent can likewise argue that good provides contrast to the evils of this world, and that good is necessary for higher-level evils.

So the general argument is that the problem of evil, and its attending theodicies, find a perfect symmetry with regards to good and evil. This is a strong argument, so strong that William Lane Craig himself admits its validity:

I suspect that Law thinks that theists will try to deny the symmetry between these two cases. But that would be a mistake. The two situations strike me as symmetrical—I would just say that in neither case would we be justified in thinking that the probability is low. Just as a good Creator/Designer could have good reasons for permitting the suffering in the world, so an evil Creator/Designer could have malicious reasons for allowing the goods in the world, precisely for the reasons Law explains. My initial response, then, still holds: we’re just not in a position to make these kinds of probability judgements with any sort of confidence.

The fact is that Craig, currently the most prominent theologian, nonchalantly admits that he has no way to distinguish between the chance of God existing and the chance of evil-god existing. This is no small slip, but a rather devastating critique of Christianity as issued by its biggest advocate!

However, he does have an objection:

I talked earlier about reasons to think that the Creator/Designer of the universe is good. Suppose we concede for the sake of argument that an evil Creator/Designer exists. Since this being is evil, that implies that he fails to discharge his moral obligations. But where do those come from? How can this evil god have duties to perform which he is violating? Who forbids him to do the wrong things that he does?

But this is asinine. Due to the symmetry, we can ask the exact same questions about God. Where does God’s moral obligation to be good come from? Who forbids God to do evil? It’s mind-boggling to me that Craig asks these questions, because he already knows the answer to those questions: God is inherently good, it’s part of his nature. Likewise, we can reply that evil-god is inherently evil and that it’s part of his nature.

Another counter which comes up often against the evil-god hypothesis is that evil is merely an absence of good, and that therefore there can be no symmetry between good and evil.

To be honest, I have never been able to make sense of this argument. How does one measure “the absence” of good? Every action that we evaluate is an action that exists in itself, not an “absence of” anything. One example is that disease is “an absence of health.” But this only works if you remain at the most abstract level: in reality, any disease is brought about by specific factors and is a presence of something, not an absence.

If we’re validated to talk at such an abstract level that disease is “an absence of health,” then can’t we equally say that health is “an absence of disease”? Actually, that seems to me more reasonable than the reverse. But both are pointless statements.

Another common example used is cold:

“Cold” isn’t a thing. It’s a way of describing the reduction of molecular activity resulting in the sensation of heat. So the more heat we pull out of a system, the colder it gets. Cold itself isn’t being “created.” Cold is a description of a circumstance in which heat is missing. Heat is energy which can be measured. When you remove heat, the temperature goes down. We call that condition “cold,” but there is no cold “stuff” that causes that condition.

While this is true, it does not prove anything about good and evil, which are not forms of energy but ethical concepts. Furthermore, there may be no cold “stuff” but there is also no heat “stuff.” The molecules themselves are not “heat” or “cold.” It is only “stuff” for us because hot and cool are both sensations that happen because of “stuff” such as neural impulses and specific neural circuits for the sensations of heat and cold.

Here is a different criticism:

As I noted earlier, since Law is ambiguous about the specific attributes of an evil God, one has to think he means a God with completely opposing attributes to the broadly traditional monotheistic God: maximally cruel, unjust, selfish, and so on. And as a maximally selfish being, this evil God would have to be exclusively concerned with itself. Not only would it be exclusively concerned with itself, but it would have to be concerned only with itself to the logically maximum degree possible.

The claim being that an infinitely selfish being would never devote itself to anything else, making creation impossible. But this is a bizarre objection: selfishness and altruism are both concepts about the relation between one person and the people in their life. Never mind that God does not fulfill any test of personhood, but no being can be “maximally selfish” by itself any more than a being can be “maximally altruistic” by itself. Likewise, cruelty and injustice are relational (and contradictory) attributes, just like mercy and justice are relational (and contradictory) attributes.

The very concept of a selfish being existing alone is nonsensical: selfishness by its nature is parasitical and needs productive beings to extract surplus value from. Christianity is a great example of a parasitical ideology, because it flourishes on the labor of productive people and gives nothing in return (except for sending the money earned by others to charities, bolstering its own reputation on the back of others).

So the evil-god hypothesis works very well for the problem of evil, but I think we can go a step further and show the symmetry in other theological arguments as well.

Let’s start with the moral argument, since it’s very much related to what I’ve already talked about. According to the moral argument, objective morality can only exist if God exists. Why would God want to create objective morality? Because God is good and wants us to do good, of course. But the same applies to anti-god: anti-god would want to create objective morality because anti-god is evil and wants us to do evil.

What about all the evidence of God, like intelligent design, the universe, and the Bible? An evil-god would leave the same kind of traces of its creative act as God, and given the incredible number of evil acts supposedly sanctioned by God in the Bible, it seems that the Bible is better evidence for evil-god than for God.

There is one final argument I want to discuss because I think it points to an interesting fact. One of the Christian reactions to the evil-god hypothesis is that obviously no one would believe in evil-god, and therefore the argument is moot.

This totally misses the point, in that the fact that no one would believe in evil-god is one of the premises of the evil-god hypothesis. The point is that, if the evil-god hypothesis is just as valid as the God hypothesis, but the evil-god hypothesis is clearly absurd, then the God hypothesis must be just as absurd. So stating that “no one would believe in an evil god!” merely confirms the validity of the evil-god approach. Of course no one would believe in such a thing; so why do people believe in God?

But this brings me to another question: why would no one believe in evil-god? I think that for Christians the term “believe” is equivocated with the word “worship” in a way which simply does not make sense to atheists.

For atheists, to believe something simply means to hold it as a true proposition. To an atheist, the idea that one could believe in evil-god is not particularly incoherent (or at least no more incoherent than the idea of believing in God). But to a Christian, the idea is absurd because no one would want to worship a god that wants you to suffer (never mind that God does it all the time).

So to a Christian, there is there an asymmetry that cannot be refuted. But this (like the “absence of good” argument) relies on a peculiarly Christian form of reasoning, which can only make sense within the faith. Outside of the faith, it can only be described as a sort of semantic disconnection.

Blood worship is pretty creepy.

Blood worship seems to persist even though we’re far from the mass sacrifices of “pre-Columbian” societies or the Igbo (although in both cases their European conquerors killed many more people than sacrifices would have). Granted, we are not yet over human sacrifice, but at least we hide it.

Blood consumption has been part of accusations against perceived enemies. Vampires are one obvious example. There is also blood libel: for centuries Jews were accused of kidnapping gentile children to bake with their blood or kill them to release their blood.

The origin of these accusations, in turn, lies in the belief that Jesus’ blood has special powers. Jesus’ blood “covers” our sins and cleans our conscience. Jesus enjoined his disciples to drink his blood. His blood is part of the ritual of transubstantiation. Catholics are especially interested in Jesus’ heart and blood, to nauseating levels.

The book of Revelation tells us that angels kill so many humans that the resulting blood covers a distance of more than 300 km (something like the distance between New York and Washington). Now imagine all that blood clotting and… yeah.

For a religion that’s supposed to be concerned with the immaterial and the supernatural, the afterlife, the spiritual matters, it seems rather strange for it to be so concerned with something as mundane as blood. Is it merely a prolongation of the Jewish concept of blood sacrifice, or are both the manifestation of some plague monster lying in the collective unconscious?

I have no qualifications in mythology or psychoanalysis, so I will refrain from making such analysis, although perhaps it’s worth noting that the concept of “blood memory” has been associated with the collective unconscious before.

The blood worship of Christianity is creepy, but many other beliefs about blood are creepy. Look how natalists harp on perpetuating the bloodline. Based on this belief, they insist in having children of their own instead of adopting one of the millions of desperate children in the world.

Do they literally believe in the importance of the blood itself? No, I obviously don’t think so, otherwise blood transfusions would be much more opposed than they are today. The bloodline is a metaphor for the extension of the self into one’s children, grandchildren, and so on. The parent is, in the sense of extension, the “consumer” of the blood, the life-force of the child: the life (and death, in those cases where a child dies) of the child glorifies the parent. That’s much creepier than any blood consumption.

From the consumption/extension end, we go to the complete opposite when we look at menstruation, which for millennia has been used as a reason to subjugate women. The Bible tells us that a menstruating woman is “unclean”:

Leviticus 15:19-24
And if a woman have an issue, and her issue in her flesh be blood, she shall be put apart seven days: and whosoever toucheth her shall be unclean until the even. And every thing that she lieth upon in her separation shall be unclean: every thing also that she sitteth upon shall be unclean. And whosoever toucheth her bed shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. And whosoever toucheth any thing that she sat upon shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even. And if it be on her bed, or on any thing whereon she sitteth, when he toucheth it, he shall be unclean until the even. And if any man lie with her at all, and her flowers be upon him, he shall be unclean seven days; and all the bed whereon he lieth shall be unclean.

Leviticus 15:28-30
But if she be cleansed of her issue, then she shall number to herself seven days, and after that she shall be clean. And on the eighth day she shall take unto her two turtles, or two young pigeons, and bring them unto the priest, to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And the priest shall offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for her before the LORD for the issue of her uncleanness.

So when women issue blood, it’s considered a sign of their unclean nature. But when Jesus does it, it’s a fucking sacrament. Go figure.

Oh, the subjectivism of it all…

From Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

Subjectivism is a topic I used to talk a great deal about when I was writing about Christianity. Fundamentalist Christians typically claim to have an absolute moral system, an absolute authority, to have all the answers written black on white in the Bible, and so on. But the more you argue with them, the more their arguments plunge into relativism and subjectivism.

I don’t like using the words “objectivism” and “subjectivism” because they are used in many conflicting ways, so I want to clarify exactly what I mean by “subjectivism”: what I mean is any belief which attempts to justify a fact of reality by appealing to personal experience, like feelings or the imagination. If it ceases to exist once you stop experiencing it, it’s subjective (or as Philip K. Dick once said, reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away).

Or in simpler terms, your reasoning is subjective if you’re trying to argue that what’s in your head somehow changes the nature of reality. You may have a strong belief that you can fly with the power of thought, but you can’t actually do it. No belief should be held without some kind of evidence.

So for instance, when you ask Christians how they justify their beliefs, eventually you reach the bedrock of “I just feel like God is operating in my life” or “I have faith in the Bible as the Word of God.” There is no intellectual foundation of Christianity, only feelings and imagination. People don’t become Christians because of a scientific discovery or a logical argument.

Logical Christian arguments are marshaled in the defense of faith, not out of any search for truth. We can see this because the logical arguments used are extremely general and cannot possibly demonstrate what they are supposed to prove (e.g. the argument from design only proves that a designer exists; whatever that designer is cannot be deduced from the argument). Facts (and non-facts) are deployed in the service of feeling.

The same thing happens when you examine Biblical morality. When you start questioning rules from the Bible, you inevitably get the answer that those rules only applied to those people at that time. It takes very little effort to turn a supposed Christian absolutist into a Christian relativist: all you have to do is start asking hard questions.

Liberal feminism is also subjectivist. The main difference is that, while religion is only subjectivist when you question it, they’re subjectivist from the get-go. There is no veneer of reality there at all.

Meghan Murphy wrote an article about the most common rebuttals presented by proponents of burlesque, but her list applies equally well to any other feminist issue (prostitution, pornography, rape, BDSM, gender identity):

1) You haven’t done enough “research”
2) You don’t understand
3) Anything I do that makes ME feel good is feminist!
4) But there are women in the audience! Women erase sexism!
5) Boylesque ["men do it too"]
6) Different body types in burlesque = feminism
7) If you don’t like burlesque then don’t go to burlesque shows
8) You are turning me into an object by talking about the objectification of women
9) I’m not being objectified because I choose to objectify myself
10) You have to be on the inside to understand/form a valid critique
11) You’re a prude and you hate boobs

So there are two categories of arguments here, ones that are just plain subjectivism (3, 4, 5, 8, 9), ones that claim that the critic is just not good enough (1, 2, 7, 10, 11), and arguments that are just factually wrong (6).

I would classify the second category of arguments as being subjective in nature also; whether a critic doesn’t “get it” from your perspective, doesn’t like something, or is a prude, does not objectively make them wrong. In essence, the argument is that the evidence that the critic is wrong about burlesque is that the critic doesn’t like burlesque, but there is no connection between not liking something and being wrong about it. I don’t like murder but that doesn’t mean I must therefore be wrong in believing that murder is wrong.

If you come back to the subjective arguments, you see their nature very easily. Take for example rebuttal 3, “anything I do that makes ME feel good is feminist.” If you don’t debate feminist issues at all, this may seem like a straw man, but the fact is that if you go on Meghan Murphy’s blog and look at the comments, or any other feminist blog that talks about feminist issues, you will find that argument used regularly.

So you get people who complain that they like doing whatever and you can’t tell them what to do. But feminism doesn’t tell people what to do. The point of feminism is to make a systemic analysis of existing institutions and understand how they sustain the Patriarchy, not to tell individual women what they should or shouldn’t wear, what they should or shouldn’t do, and so on.

But my point here is that an argument like “anything I do that makes ME feel good is feminist” is subjective because it states that a person’s feelings determine reality. What is or is not feminist is a fact of reality, and therefore has nothing to do with anyone’s feelings.

Rebuttal 9 is another good example. The concept of “choice” is used constantly to justify the exploitation of women. At a superficial level, it’s a case of blaming the victim: they “chose” to be exploited or oppressed, so it’s their own damn fault. This liberal position must be absolutely rejected.

The other problem is that this concept of “choice” adds absolutely nothing to the argument; at best it can only mean that you believe you are in control of a situation. So even in that best case scenario all that’s being said is “I’m not being objectified because I believe I am in control of my own objectification.” So what? Again, you are free to believe you are capable of doing anything, but without any actual evidence, we’re not having a discussion about facts.

The other problem is that it’s not in fact true that we are in control of our own objectification, simply because we have a limited control over what other people think. Yes, obviously we can change how we present ourselves and that will change other people’s opinion of us, but that’s not gonna stop objectification within a given institution.

Take burlesque, for example. You can say it’s “ironically sexist” or “an affirmation of different bodies” or “art” or whatever, but what men see when they go there is a woman taking off her clothes. The objective you pursue when you take off your clothes does not change the objectification. So maybe you enjoy it, or you’re helping other women come to terms with their bodies, and that’s fine, but the objectification does not go away because these other things are also happening.

Oppression does not depend on you accepting it as oppression; in fact, the rulers are much better off if you refuse to accept that you’re being oppressed, or if you completely misidentify who’s oppressing you. They love it if they can get you to fight, well, pretty much anyone but them.

To me the most puzzling thing is that not only is the subjectivism front and center, but they seem even proud of it. In any other area of thought we’d consider this bizarre and irrational, but this doesn’t seem to even enter their minds. I can’t say why that is. I don’t think liberal feminism is particular irrational compared to, say, Creationism or Neo-Nazism or whatever. And yet I would guess that few Creationists or Neo-Nazis would brag about how subjectivist they are; people generally believe that their beliefs are generally factual (whether they are correct or not is another matter).

The concept of “empowerment” puts us through the same mental gymnastics. People do not use the word “empowered” to designate that a person has gained, you know, actual power: they use it to mean that a person believes that they have more power. Evidence for having been “empowered” does not consist of looking at actual power but rather of looking at how the person feels.

This leads to laughable statements like “stripping for men is empowering” or “beauty is empowering.” It may feel good for a woman to strip or be beautiful, but it does not in itself confer any power. Only looking at actual power relations can tell you whether an act is empowering.

Or an even simpler test: do men in positions of power do it? I know this is not a novel idea, but it works. Do the Koch Brothers strip? Does George Soros strip? Do they put on makeup every day? If not, what connection can there be between these things and power?

If anything, beauty is disempowering. This entry from Meghan Murphy discusses how the beauty mandate is used to attack both the women following it and feminism:

Beauty is not power. As evidenced by patriarchy. Pretty ladies continue to be exposed to sexism on a daily basis despite their “freedom” to “showcase their beauty.” In other words, if beauty were power then women would have real power in this world and would no longer be marginalized based on the fact that they happen to have been born female.

The myth that “beauty is power” is actually super destructive because it tricks young women into thinking that if men want them, they will be empowered, which is, alas, not true. Because the kind of “power” that comes from having men lust after you is fleeting and holds no real weight in the grand scheme of things. It might make you feel good momentarily, until you realize that men don’t respect you because they like your boobs, nor will your fuckability bring things like political power and freedom from male violence. As long as women are seen as (and see themselves as) pretty, sexy objects, they will continue to to be viewed and treated, primarily, as sex-holes for men (i.e. not full human beings but the kind of beings who were invented for men to use and abuse and play with and then discard when they get bored).

Also, friendly reminder that real “power” doesn’t run out when you turn forty. Men don’t suddenly become invisible and irrelevant when they reach middle age and that’s because they haven’t bought into or been fed the ridiculous myth that their power lies in their ability to be youthful and have a perky butt. Society treats older women as invisible and younger women as objects. That’s not power.

Gender atheism is the next misunderstood idea…

Radical rejections of established ideologies are always misunderstood and misinterpreted to some extent. Atheism, as a radical rejection of religion, is still a misunderstood idea, although its status is being somewhat mitigated by a rather strongly held party line and increasingly visible popularization.

Anarchism, on the other hand, has been going in the reverse direction. From its heyday in the 1890s, its defeat in the Russian Revolution, and its concrete if brief expressions during the 20th century, it has been vilified at an ever-increasing pace until present time. Nowadays the public understanding of anarchism is pretty much worse than non-existent.

With the Internet resurgence of radical feminism and anti-genderism arises the reframing of “gender atheism.” As I’ve argued before, it is one that I support as well. It may not be elegant, but it drags down genderism from its untouchable status to the status of being as irrational as religion, and points out that gender atheism is as reasonable and rational as, well, atheism.

Unfortunately, gender atheism piggybacks on atheism but inherits the misunderstandings of atheism as well. I believe that as gender atheism becomes more well known, it will go through the same phase of misunderstanding, with little relief in sight. Already the genderists are declaring agender and gender atheism as kinds of gender, in the same way that atheism has been declared a competing (and therefore inadequate) religion to Christianity.

The other misrepresentations of atheism are also more and more frequently popping up in discussions about gender. We’re seeing arguments about how the individual’s feelings (e.g. “gender identity”) are more important than facts. We’re seeing arguments that anti-genderists are depraved (e.g. anti-Christian) or bigots (e.g. “transphobic”) who don’t respect other people’s beliefs. We’re seeing the pseudo-scientific arguments (evolutionary psychology, innate gender) and the attempts to legislate their beliefs.

God is bullshit, and so is gender. But genderism and religion are both totalizing belief systems: they are supposed to encompass all possibilities and human thought is supposed to exist entirely within their framework. These belief systems are especially dangerous because they are harder to escape; their totalizing nature reduces doubt to some aspect of themselves. Traditionally, to reject one’s gender roles has meant to reject God’s laws, so both have been intricately connected.

All religions have liberal and fundamentalist branches. Genderism has its fundamentalist branch (traditional genderism) which exploits people’s sense of duty and tradition, and its liberal branch (trans genderism) which exploits people’s desire to tolerate and be compassionate. In that particular way, it works like any other religion.

Atheism is a lack of belief in God. Gender atheism is similarly a lack of belief in gender. Atheists see God as a social construct used to manipulate and exploit people; gender atheists likewise see gender as a social construct used to manipulate and exploit people. Gender atheists are angry at the damage that genderism inflicts on human societies and are interested in freeing children from the indoctrination of gender, which is based on fantasy instead of reality.

There is no gender atheist organization (to my knowledge) and such an organization is unlikely to arise in the near future. So there are obvious limits to the comparison. But the basic principle is that both are a form of liberation- liberation from indoctrinated dogma, liberation from pointless obligations, and ultimately freedom to think beyond what’s proscribed.

Unfortunately I don’t think there is much of a future in gender atheism. In the area of gender, we are more or less living in the equivalent of the Reformation, and, if the historical analogy holds true, we’ve got a long ways to go before gender atheism is even on the radar. But insofar as there is some developing consciousness about it, I think it will go through the same misrepresentations than atheism has gone through. So that’s something to look forward to.

Compartmentalization: how we entrap our own minds.

Atheists talk a great deal about compartmentalization from the standpoint of looking at religion and its absurdities. We look at a religious person and how they can, in one breath, profess belief in the most horrible, irrational moral precepts on the basis of the Bible, and in the next, proclaim their respect for other people. We observe that they seem to insulate their religious beliefs from disproof by putting them in a box and, by doing so, keeping them scrupulously separate from their other, more rational beliefs. So we call that “compartmentalization.”

Stephen Jay Gould’s framing of the relationship between science and religion as “non-overlapping magisteria” represents an attempt at intellectually justifying compartmentalization. Such attempts must necessarily fail in practice, because science and religion are necessarily overlapping: if science does not address origins and the nature of things, then it cannot operate on measurable material facts, and if religion does not address measurable material facts, then it is myth, not religion.

But there’s a lot more to compartmentalization than just putting some irrational beliefs in a box. Not only does it do that, but it also becomes an impervious springboard by which one’s non-material or non-rational beliefs can be applied to material, rational reality without fear of refutation.

It is not just that the Christian fundamentalist believes that women, homosexuals and black people are inherently inferior, and that ey puts these beliefs in a box. It is also that ey uses these beliefs to talk about the real world and to attack real people in real ways. Christianity is a political issue, a social issue, an intellectual issue, an ethical issue, because Christian fundamentalists use their bigotry as an argument and as a motivation in the world, against the world (“the world” is evil, God’s laws are good).

The same thing applies to beliefs about matters of fact. Creationists have one set of epistemic standards that apply to the question of the development of life on this planet, and another set of epistemic standards that apply to everything else, and never the twain shall meet. But they then take those Creationist standards and use them to attack education, evolutionary science, materialist answers about human nature, and so on.

The fact that these beliefs are in the box means that they are elevated to a special status amongst that person’s beliefs: beliefs which inform our actions but which are considered to be immune from refutation. So they necessarily become of prime importance.

Obviously, compartmentalization does not only apply to religion, but I have never heard of this sort of analysis done on anything other than religion. In Compartmentalizing women means you’re a sociopath, blogger Elkballet delves into the issue of compartmentalization and how it applies to porn use.

Her analysis can be applied to any area where irrational beliefs are protected from refutation. In all cases, our million dollar question is: given that our starting position is one of not wanting to harm others and of respecting fairness, how does a person grow up to become a soldier, a rapist, a fundamentalist Christian, or in this case a regular porn user?

Because if the user didn’t compartmentalize it away from rational thought, hide it in a special place in his brain where critical thinking couldn’t touch it, there’s no way he could justify his enjoyment of something clearly painful, degrading, and humiliating. He couldn’t justify enjoying something where this is a high likelihood that at least sometimes the woman is really being raped, is a trafficked woman. So because it feels good, it gets put away someplace where those thoughts can’t apply to it. It would not be possible to enjoy porn as it exists today were it not for the “ability” to place it behind special logic-proof walls.

Elkballet deduces from her examination of the psychology of compartmentalization that this process is the natural result of our enjoyment clashing with one’s natural morals.

But how does this apply to religion or statism? In those cases, we’re not talking about enjoyment but conditioning; the case of pornography merely adds a step before the conditioning. People are hooked on pornography and then receive its messages, while people generally start by receiving religious dogma (whether they come to enjoy it later is another issue). No one is forced to watch pornography by their parents or by society (although the sexist message itself is present everywhere and can hardly be avoided).

So in those cases it is the dogma that clashes with our natural morals. Every case has a different form of rationalization, different default responses, different thought-stoppers, but they all have them.

* In the case of Christian believers, we have “God is good itself and the source of all good,” “God knows better than we do,” “God works in mysterious ways,” “Christian morality is absolute and necessary anyway.”

* In the case of statists, we have “they’re just bad apples,” “the law maintains order in society,” “if you’re not evil you have nothing to fear,” and as a corollary, “if you have something to fear, you must be evil.”

* In the case of natalism, we have “well, life is not fair,” “new people can experience all that’s wonderful in this world,” and “I have the right to have children.”

* In the case of feminism, we have individualism and liberalism acting as general rationalizations (“it’s her fault for putting herself at risk,” “we’re all equal now so everything that happens to you is your own fault”), and evopsych and other forms of gender essentialism act as thought-stoppers (“men can’t help what they do, so there’s no point in arguing about it,” “that’s the way women should be”).

Elkballet also discusses how compartmentalization piggybacks on existing hierarchies in order to dissociate between “good” and “bad” people or situations.

Compartmentalization.. causes the user to feel entitled to label women as human or not, real people or things to fuck, etc… Only a person in a position of entitlement could experience this type of god complex, deciding who is and isn’t human, who does and doesn’t deserve abuse based on whether she turns him on… This means some people actually begin to feel some woman (all of whom are thinking, breathing, feeling, human beings) deserve to be raped, deserve to be beaten, tortured, murdered, etc… Because this user has learned to compartmentalize. When something revolting happens to a woman, she can be compartmentalized away as a “disgusting pig” or a deserving “slut” because porn has taught him that some women deserve this treatment. Some women are born for this, to be fucked brutally, to be raped.

In parallel with this, the porn user also feels that he is one of the “good” guys, that he is sublimating his (inescapable and biological, according to the rhetoric) desire to hurt women through something “unreal” (because otherwise he would be painting himself as someone who derives enjoyment from someone else’s suffering), and that it’s okay because everyone’s doing it or everyone should be doing it.

All compartmentalization partakes of these same processes. Again let me review:

* Christian believers divide people in saved and unsaved; the unsaved (unlike actual humans) deserve eternal torment, and they deserve to be persecuted in life. The unsaved are not worthy of being treated like human beings because they can’t be moral anyway.

* Statists divide people in criminals and non-criminals, citizens and foreigners, “legal” humans and “illegal” humans, productive and unproductive people (in a capitalist context), and so on. Criminals deserve punishment by virtue of not obeying the law, foreigners deserve to die because they aren’t protected by the law, “illegal” humans deserve to be separated from their families, unproductive people deserve to be poor. Generally the rationalization here is that people who don’t obey the law are innately evil (and usually that most or all people are evil and deserve to be punished) and that morality can only be maintained by government fiat.

* Most natalists hold to categories of “lives that are worth starting” and “lives that are not worth starting” (although some extremists do believe that all lives, no matter how diseased or handicapped, are worth starting), and use this to “prove” that most acts of procreation are justified. This is not hierarchical in nature, but the hierarchy between parents and children is used to justify the “right to reproduce” and props up other natalist arguments (“I don’t care what the consequences are to my child because I decide what’s good for them”).

* Anti-feminists obviously support the gender hierarchy, and they support their belief in the gender hierarchy through various forms of essentialism, that women deserve to be inferior because of some biological or psychological defect. The flipside of that is the fact that women deserve to be raped, mutilated and killed because men’s equally unwavering attributes (“men can’t control themselves,” “men are biologically made to rape”).

She also talks about this concept of “good porn.” Porn users regularly trot out the bizarre concept of “feminist porn” (which has been sighted about as often as Bigfoot, another mythical creature) as some kind of proof that pornography is not woman-hating. They argue that if only all porn was replaced by “feminist porn,” pornography would be all right.

But feminists know that this is nonsense. Pornography is inherently objectifying and violent whether it’s “feminist” or not. An evil system is not improved by giving it even more credibility while addressing no issue whatsoever. Putting women in charge of pornography and changing the actresses so that some of them are fat or black doesn’t address anything that’s wrong about pornography, but calling it “feminist” does give it credibility it does not deserve.

Likewise, radicals in all other areas are very well aware that gradualism or moderation is ultimately futile. Trying to encourage a government to moderate its military spending has never actually lowered military spending. Telling Christians to moderate their beliefs does not get them to do so. Telling people to make less children rarely has a positive effect.

What does work is changing the incentives of society itself. Religion becomes more moderate because it is dragged along by social consensus. Governments only channel more resources towards welfare programs, and stop attacking the rights of the poor, when people stand up for their rights and take to the streets. As for not having children, people having a livelihood that doesn’t depend on using children as virtual slave workers thanks to industrialization seems to be helping quite a bit, and so does working against domestic violence.

Another example of moderation, as regards to neo-liberalism this time, is the belief in “responsible consumption”; the theory being that by moderating our consumption, by consuming the right things, and by recycling our consumed products, we can help the environment and stop exploiting people in the third world. But we know that would change absolutely nothing. Most of the pollution is generated by industries, not by landfills. Moderating consumption will not slow down the economic growth in China and India, which will dwarf any slowing down of consumption in the Western world.

The gender hierarchy provides porn users with the tools to objectify and categorize women, because the belief in the inferiority of women comes with its own rationalizations and categories (such as “sluts,” “bitches,” “dykes,” etc). These categories are filled with beliefs which further the aim of the porn user (“sluts can’t be raped,” “unlike most women they really love doing this,” “sluts deserve to be roughed up”). Compartmentalization leads to objectification leads to a culture of violence and depravity.

The Problem of Evil v the Problem of Suffering.

Using our cognitive limitations to explain away the existence of evil must logically lead to a complete collapse of the Christian worldview. From Philosophical Disquisitions.

Everyone who knows anything about Christian theology, or who has ever argued with Christians, knows about the Problem of Evil. The simplest argument goes like this:

1. If an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent God exists, then evil cannot exist.
2. Evil exists.
3. There is no omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent God.

This argument is logically airtight but conceptually complex, which makes it more vulnerable to attacks. There are a number of variants of the Problem of Evil which either nail down some specifically unexplainable kind of evil or deal with attacks by demonstrating that they also lead to contradictions.

As examples of the former, one can talk about “gratuitous evils” (such as a deer dying in a forest fire without any witnesses), unbelief, evil in the Bible, or poor design; as an example of the latter, the Moral Argument from Evil demonstrates that if the theodicies are true and all the evil that happens is justified, then there is no reason for Christians to try to intervene to stop evil, which is clearly absurd.

Even though the arguments are numerous and the approaches to the topic are many, the gist of it is simple: evil exists in this world, and we shouldn’t expect this to be true if this world was created by a just God.

Antinatalists have a similar argument, although again it takes different forms: for the sake of nomenclature, let’s call its general form the Problem of Suffering. We can express it like this:

1. Creating suffering is an evil act.
2. Procreation entails the creation of suffering.
3. Procreation is an evil act.

Variants of this argument include Benatar’s Asymmetry, the consent argument, anti-frustrationism, ecological arguments (e.g. VHEMT), and so on.

What is being argued here is not the non-existence of God, but rather the ethical status of procreation. Still, we can partially rephrase the Problem of Evil to show the obvious parallel:

1. Creating evil is itself an evil act.
2. God’s creative act included the creation of evil.
3. God’s creative act was an evil act.

You can probably guess the rest of the argument. The point here is that both arguments are about the creation of suffering and harm.

Obviously most atheists will accept the Problem of Evil but not the Problem of Suffering, since most atheists are not antinatalists. But why? I would say most atheists would accept human suffering as an evil, and that therefore they would consider the creation of suffering to be an evil act as well. And the premise that procreation entails suffering is equally obviously true. So there does not seem to be any substantial difference between the two arguments.

I anticipate certain objections. I think it is likely that people would answer, for example, that the parent does not create the evil itself but only the conditions for it. But this is equally true of God: I don’t think anyone claims that God literally created a forest fire or an HIV infection, that these are the result of natural law and human action subject to cause and effect, that God is only the most distal cause. The same is true of parents in relation to the suffering experienced by their children.

A further objection along these lines would be that parents, unlike God, are not omniscient, but I don’t really see the relevance in this case; parents are aware of the risks in having children, and therefore should naturally assume that they could happen to their children as well. Granted, breeders are not known for their sense of reality, but they don’t lack knowledge. They just don’t care. People who are committed to an indefensible course of action usually don’t care about the consequences, otherwise they wouldn’t be doing it.

Natalists attempts to reframe the issue are about as successful as the theodicies to the Problem of Evil. In fact, we can see some obvious parallels between theodicies and reframings.

For example, natalists will argue that pleasure cannot exist without suffering, that they are both part of life and that therefore we must just passively accept people going around creating more and more suffering. This is very similar to the theodicy which states that good cannot exist without evil, and that therefore we must accept that God just had to create evil. But obviously atheists do not accept this rationalization.

Another rationalization holds that our lives contain more pleasure than suffering, and that therefore procreation is “worth it.” This is similar to the theodicy which states that suffering is necessary for some “greater good,” which in this case would be the pleasures in one’s life. Again, this theodicy is not accepted by atheists, so why should we accept it in the case of the Problem of Suffering?

I think we could go down the line of the theodicies and convert them easily into rationalizations of procreation. But since they are already unconvincing in their theodicy form, they don’t really matter either.

Some people try to argue that suffering is not really evil, and generally try to make a relativist argument. But this is no help here since relativism goes against the Problem of Evil as well: if there’s no such thing as objective moral standards, then there can be no universally observable concept of evil, and we can hardly fault God for the existence of something that doesn’t exist.

Compounding this fatal flaw is the fact that most, if not all, instances of evil in the Problem of Evil are also instances of suffering referred by the Problem of Suffering; if the latter are all invalid, then the Problem of Evil is rather trivialized, I would think (I could be wrong on this, but if anyone can name me an instance of evil from the Problem of Evil that does not generate suffering in some sentient life, I’d love to hear it).

The Problem of Evil has attained such a prominent place because it is so very obvious (which is also why it’s been discovered so early and why it’s been such a theological preoccupation). The Problem of Suffering is equally obvious and I’m sure it has popped up in the minds of a lot of people from all eras and places. For obvious reasons, it has never been fashionable enough to get its own name.

I don’t think the parallel between divine creation and breeding is particularly surprising. Breeders are by nature arrogant and authoritarian, and God has the arrogance and authoritarianism of the breeder times trillions. The idea that God is a substitute father figure is not by far new, but it seems to fit perfectly here, although it seems to me equally fruitful to look at the father as a mini-God. Do fathers not want to breed “in their own image” (the image of the “bloodline” or “genes”) and do they not seek to keep their children in naive ignorance like God does in the Garden of Eden myth?

The sum total of that human perversity we call “pedagogy” or “child-raising,” after all, consists of deciding what to do with one’s total control over another human being. It has nothing to do with love. This can also be said about most religions and cults; despite their self-serving rhetoric, they have little to do with love and a great deal to do with control over other human beings on all possible dynamics.

I’ve already written an entry in the past linking atheism to anarchism, which a lot of atheists resisted. So I want to reiterate here that I am not stating that atheists must become antinatalists or anything of the sort. What I am saying is that logically speaking the Problem of Evil should lead one to accept the Problem of Suffering and antinatalism in general, that there is a strong parallel in the arguments and objections. Whining that your poor fee fees have been hurt (like I’ve gotten by the shovelful after my atheism/anarchism entry) will be mocked mercilessly.

Geisler’s evangelistic questions for atheists.

A shorter version of Geisler’s “evangelism.”

Apparently there is this book called Conversational Evangelism, written to help Christians fool non-Christians into believing in God (which is pretty much all that evangelism is). Norman Geisler, author of the book, explains what evangelism is:

Evangelism is every day and in every way helping your nonbelieving friends to take one step closer to Jesus Christ…

[W]e should do all we can to make our manner of communicating the Gospel as inoffensive as possible even if the message of our Gospel may be offensive to some.

The role of the evangelist is fundamentally one of manipulation. Evangelists will lie openly if they can get away with it, and covertly if they cannot. In all cases, their objective remains to enforce agreement with the inter-subjective beliefs of their particular brand of Christianity.

One particular device that Geisler promotes in his book is to use questions against unbelievers, and he provides lists of questions for different categories such as atheists, agnostics, Islamists, Hindus, Buddhists, and so on.

Questions are a fairly common device in evangelism, because they are a more subtle form of manipulation. Asking someone a question seems open-minded and seems to give the freedom to the answerer. But evangelists, like any other marketing peddler, use leading questions in order to entrap the answerer (“wouldn’t you want the best possible product for your home?”).

In doing so, however, they must assume that the answerer is ignorant. This is why their questions look so imbecilic to atheists who actually understand the premises of the questions. I will examine Geisler’s proposed questions for atheists one by one and expose the manipulation underlying them.

1. Are you absolutely sure there is no God? If not, then is it not possible that there is a God? And if it is possible that God exists, then can you think of any reason that would keep you from wanting to look at the evidence?

Most atheists want to show themselves as being “open-minded” to the possibility of God existing and don’t want to appear dogmatic. Geisler knows this and tries to appeal to this feeling in order to get them on a slippery slope.

Once the atheist admits that it is possible that God exists, he then tries to put Christianity’s foot in the door by exploiting the atheist’s imagination. Of course one can imagine reasons that would keep one from looking at evidence, but that doesn’t mean those reasons are actually true. This is a very insidious technique that will inevitably lower the atheist’s confidence. Once you’ve poisoned the well, so to speak, you can move on to the next questions…

2. Would you agree that intelligently designed things call for an intelligent designer of them? If so, then would you agree that evidence for intelligent design in the universe would be evidence for a designer of the universe?

Again with the hypothetical questions (this one can basically be reduced to “but what if you were wrong? wouldn’t you be wrong then?”). He is preying on people’s imagination. Sure, if there was evidence for intelligent design, then it would be evidence for an intelligent designer. But no such evidence exists. You will note that presenting evidence is not Geisler’s game here: he’s doing evangelism, not apologetics; as such, his concern is in attacking the confidence of the atheist and, ultimately, the efficacy of the human mind (observe the latter especially in questions 4, 5 and 10).

3. Would you agree that nothing cannot produce something? If so, then if the universe did not exist but then came to exist, wouldn’t this be evidence of a cause beyond the universe?

Again with the hypotheticals. I think Geisler is trying to bank on some atheists’ ignorance, hoping that some believe that the universe came to exist or that there is evidence for intelligent design. Apart from that, I think my answer on question 2 pretty much addresses this one too, since it’s the exact same tactic. Nothing is actually being argued or proposed: it’s pure manipulation.

4. Would you agree with me that just because we cannot see something with our eyes—such as our mind, gravity, magnetism, the wind—that does not mean it doesn’t exist?

This is Geisler’s first use of what could be called anti-epistemic tactics, not telling us how to know but telling us that our means of knowing are flawed. How else can we know that something exists unless we can perceive evidence of it in some fashion with our senses? To deny the senses is to “cut one’s own head.”

Geisler is using the time-honored tactic of attacking the senses (your senses are flawed) in order to validate nihilism (you really can’t know anything!) and then have God spring out of his box and “rescue” us from this benighted state (truth comes from God). The trouble is that his basic premise is wrong. We perceive our own minds. We perceive the effects of gravity and magnetism. We can feel the wind. These are all sensory methods.

But with this attack, he is setting up the next question. We can observe now that these questions are not meant to be used in isolation but are actually a progression: first Geisler uses hypothetical questions to sow some doubt, then he launches into an attack on the senses. Later he will use these as a springboard into more specific questions.

5. Would you also agree that just because we cannot see God with our eyes does not necessarily mean He doesn’t exist?

This is merely a rehashing of question 4. Note how again Geisler is manipulating people’s desire to be “reasonable” and “open-minded” by forcing them to agree. No one likes to contradict other people and not go along, not in a normal conversation; remember these questions are to be used in informal settings, which makes it a lot easier to manipulate people because our guards are down and we’re thinking about being polite more than anything else. Geisler aims first and foremost to get the atheist to admit that God could exist through the imagination, and then, starting with the next question, he’s gonna start skirting apologetics to drive the point home.

6. In the light of the big bang evidence for the origin of the universe, is it more reasonable to believe that no one created something out of nothing or someone created something out of nothing?

You see here that Geisler is “inspired” by the Kalam argument. But his reformulation is confusing, probably on purpose. It makes no logical sense to say that “no one created something,” and the strange formulation will lead the naive answerer to pick the second option, thereby making it seem as if the Christian has a point. The aim here is clearly to deceive (what “big bang evidence”? how can “no one” create something?) and to trap the atheist in a false dilemma (how can anything come out of nothing, whether it was made by “someone” or not?).

7. Would you agree that something presently exists? If something presently exists, and something cannot come from nothing, then would you also agree that something must have always existed?

There is nothing wrong per se with this question, but it follows the progression, because it primes the atheist to think about God, and so does the word “somebody” in the previous question. The only criticism I would have of his tactic here is that this question should come earlier: the next question will resume the pseudo-apologetics approach.

8. If it takes an intelligent being to produce an encyclopedia, then would it not also take an intelligent being to produce the equivalent of 1000 sets of an encyclopedia full of information in the first one-celled animal? (Even atheists such as Richard Dawkins acknowledges that “amoebas have as much information in their DNA as 1000 Encyclopaedia Britannicas.” Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (New York: WW. Norton and Co., 1996), 116.)

First of all, I don’t believe it should take an intelligent being to produce an encyclopedia; an AI should be able to do the job just as well, given all the information already available on the Internet.

But besides that, the deception is in the second half of the question. Geisler is now “inspired” by Creationists, who claim that evolution says that the cell was the first organism. But this is a straightforward lie. No evolutionist says that cells, which are ridiculously complicated and themselves the result of an integration of numerous organisms over a long period of time, were the first organisms.

I think here that Geisler is counting on the fact that evolution is hardly taught in the United States and expects atheists to be ignorant that he is telling them a lie. This shows you, if you were not convinced yet, that Geisler’s method is fundamentally dishonest.

9. If an effect cannot be greater than its cause (since you can’t give what you do not have to give), then does it not make more sense that mind produced matter than that matter produced mind, as atheists say?

An interesting point to raise on this question is that this strange expression “an effect cannot be greater than its cause” only comes up in apologetics. It sounds scientific, but it’s not. How are we supposed to measure “greater”? “Greater” how? In size? In force? In complexity? How is any of this to be measured?

That being said, I’m not sure why Geisler thinks using this question is a good tactic. Again he is priming the atheist to think about God, but “mind produced matter” is a nonsensical way to get there. A mind can only produce things of the mind, therefore it cannot be “greater” than matter, which produces both things of matter and things of mind.

Perhaps he is trying to invoke the fact that our minds can grasp vast concepts like eternity and infinite space, and that they thus appear to be “greater” than matter, which is limited by the laws of nature. But this “greatness” is just an intellectual illusion. No matter what high concepts we can imagine, our mind is still servant to matter. If the brain is damaged, the mind is damaged. If the brain dies, the mind dies. More complex brains produce more capable minds.

10. Is there anything wrong anywhere? If so, how can we know unless there is a moral law?

11. If every law needs a lawgiver, does it not make sense to say a moral law needs a Moral Lawgiver?

There is no point in treating these two questions separately because they make no sense without each other. All Geisler did here was take the moral argument and make two questions out of it. Pretty lazy.

The crux of the deception here is in the equivocation between a law as legal construct and a law as moral principle. These are two completely different animals, but Geisler treats them as if they both worked the same way (as authoritarian processes imposed on people, therefore needing an authority to create them). Equivocations are the intellectual con man’s version of the shell game.

12. Would you agree that if it took intelligence to make a model universe in a science lab, then it took super-intelligence to make the real universe?

Okay, I really have no idea what Geisler is on about now. Is this one of those weird urban legends that circulate in Christian circles, like how they believe that NASA has mapped out the “missing day” from Joshua 10. Maybe these morons really do believe there is a miniature universe in a laboratory somewhere. I wouldn’t put it past them.

13. Would you agree that it takes a cause to make a small glass ball found in the woods? And would you agree that making the ball larger does not eliminate the need for a cause? If so, then doesn’t the biggest ball of all (the whole universe) need a cause?

There are a few… minor… factual errors in this question. First of all, the universe is not a ball, and neither is it made of glass. Most of the matter in the universe is hydrogen, which can only be naturally made into a solid ball under unimaginable pressure (such as the core of a planet). Secondly, it wouldn’t be outside of the realm of possibilities to find a natural glass ball in the woods, since such things do actually occur (although mostly in the form of obsidian) and are not “made.”

At any rate, it’s obvious that Geisler is continuing his “greatest hits” strategy of pseudo-apologetics and is now using the Watchmaker argument. This will therefore only convince those atheists who have somehow never heard of the Watchmaker argument. Everyone else already knows that it’s a form of circular reasoning.

14. If there is a cause beyond the whole finite (limited) universe, would not this cause have to be beyond the finite, namely, non-finite or infinite?

Another hypothetical meant to prime atheists for thinking about God. Yes, obviously anything that is “beyond the universe” would also have a nature different from things within the universe, but so what? If I was a bat, I could fly, but I am not a bat.

15. In the light of the anthropic principle (that the universe was fine-tuned for the emergence of life from its very inception), wouldn’t it make sense to say there was an intelligent being who preplanned human life?

The anthropic principle (or at least, one version of it) states that the properties of the universe must be compatible with the emergence of life, otherwise we wouldn’t be here in the first place. This is simple logic.

Saying that the universe was fine-tuned implies that someone or something actively modified the universe so it could support life. This has nothing to do with the anthropic principle; rather, we’re back in the realm of the urban legends. When was it ever shown that “the universe was fine-tuned for the emergence of life from its very inception”?

So at this point I assume the atheist (in the ideal scenario where all questions have been answered in the “correct” way) is supposed to collapse and scream “my life is a lie!!!” Without this whole process, the question doesn’t really make any sense. Why should we assume that an intelligent being did it? Why, because only God could create all this information, of course. How do we know the universe was fine-tuned? Why, because it’s exactly like a gigantic bead of glass. All of this makes sense now!

After reviewing all these questions in one swoop, we see that the main instrument of conversion here is not argumentation or outright lying, but a lot of attacks on one’s reasoning abilities, a lot of priming, and loaded wording as well. None of them are really about convincing you of anything directly, but mostly about stimulating your imagination and exploiting any area of ignorance or uncertainty you may have. That is the nature of the manipulation that Christians are taught to use on unbelievers in order to “bring them to Christ.” Sick stuff.

“Historical science” and “observational science.”

In the famous debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham (see here for my opinion on this debate), Ken Ham used as his most basic argument the difference between what he called “historical science” and “observational science.” This sort of argument is not new. The more fundamentalist Creationists have maintained the party line that what they call “historical science” is inherently unreliable, that we can’t know anything about the past, and so on.

Recognizing that everyone has presuppositions that shape the way they interpret the evidence is an important step in realizing that historical science is not equal to operational science. Because no one was there to witness the past (except God), we must interpret it based on a set of starting assumptions. Creationists and evolutionists have the same evidence; they just interpret it within a different framework. Evolution denies the role of God in the universe, and creation accepts His eyewitness account—the Bible—as the foundation for arriving at a correct understanding of the universe.

You may notice that this is similar to another dichotomous reframing which has been propagated by Creationist organizations: the one between “microevolution” and “macroevolution,” where “microevolution” happens and “macroevolution” cannot happen and is a false “interpretation” of the data.

This “historical science” business is another minor distinction made by scientists that got blown up into a whole system of thought by Creationists. Yes, there is such a thing as “historical science,” but it designates a difference in the type of evidence used, nothing more (incidentally, evolution does not qualify as “historical science” because we do have direct experimental data about it). It does not imply that “historical science” is bogus because “no one was there to witness the past.”

This is expressed even more simply by Ken Ham by telling children to scream to their teachers “were you there?” if they ever bring up evolution. I assume this is supposed to accomplish something, although I have no idea what. Perhaps it is supposed to instill some doubt in the stupider science teachers.

We can also see some connection with presuppositionalist argumentation, in that both try to reduce secular reasoning to the status of assumptions and presuppositions, and then propose God as the ultimate answer.

As in presuppositionalism, the fundamental premise of the false dichotomy is correct: it is true that we interpret the past “based on a set of starting assumptions.” But what they don’t (want to) understand is that everything is interpreted “based on a set of starting assumptions,” not just the past, and Christian fundamentalists have no problem at all reframing the “observational”/ “operational” in terms of their theological assumptions. So the distinction is a dishonest one on the Christians’ part.

On the topic of evolution specifically, Creationists have no problem twisting observational results about evolution to suit their own beliefs (for a specific recent example, see the Lenski experiment; for a more general overview, see the Eye on the ICR blog). During the debate, Ken Ham had no problem arguing against direct observations such as tree rings, fossils, and so on and so forth.

He claimed that his basis for doing so was because we have no evidence that the laws of nature remained the same in past centuries. Bill Nye rightly pointed out that this an extraordinary claim and that it has the burden of proof. But more importantly, it flies in the face of the presuppositionalist boast that the uniformity of natural law can only be explained by the existence of God.

Either science is effective because God ordains the unchanging laws of nature, or science is ineffective at “historical science” because the laws of nature change all the time. Both of these claims cannot be true, and Christians evade the issue by equivocating between “historical science” and “observation science.” They use the success of physics and chemistry to “prove” that God backs the scientific endeavor, and then they use the supposed failures of evolution to “prove” that we should believe God instead of science.

The further issue with the reasoning presented to us by the Creationists talk as if believing in God is some kind of axiom which their opponents simply reject for no good reason.

One problem is that there are plenty of Christians who accept God’s “eyewitness account” (a rather odd term for something that doesn’t have eyes) and yet also believe in evolution. This fact alone destroys the Creationist argument I’ve quoted above.

But the most important problem is that rejection of God’s “eyewitness account” is not an unjustified assumption. The Creationist wants you to first believe that “accepting God’s eyewitness account” and “denying the role of God in the universe” are the same kind of proposition, and then to believe that “accepting God’s eyewitness account” is better than “denying the role of God in the universe.”

But this surely can’t be right: “accepting God’s eyewitness account” is far less parsimonious than the alternative, and therefore requires evidence of God’s existence at the very least. “Denying the role of God in the universe” should be the default assertion, and all others should be rejected. They are therefore not of the same kind at all.

Therefore the statement that “Creationists and evolutionists have the same evidence” is in fact an admission of defeat. To hold a valid belief in Creationist would require additional evidence than holding the default. Absence of such additional evidence means that Creationism cannot in any way be a valid belief.


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