TIA Tuesday: How to disprove Christianity

Last time, Vox used the “play dumb” excuse for not being able to fathom what sort of evidence might convince Dawkins that God was real. This week, he plays even dumber by sharing his own suggested list of potential “evidences” against Christianity.

But if rabbit fossils found in a Pre-Cambrian strata would suffice to disprove evolution, then surely a brilliant scientist like Richard Dawkins should easily be able to come up with a few propositions that would suffice to falsify a specific religion such as Christianity. I suggest a few possibilities:

  • The elimination of the Jewish people would falsify both God’s promise to Abraham and the eschatological events prophesied in the Book of Revelation.
  • The discovery of Jesus Christ’s crucified skeleton.
  • The linguistic unification of humanity.
  • An external recording of the history of the human race provided by aliens, as proposed by science fiction authors Arthur C. Clarke and James P. Hogan.
  • The end of war and/or poverty.
  • Functional immortality technology.

Setting aside the obvious fallacy of demanding that Dawkins prove a negative, it might be fun to take a look at these “evidences” and how they actually relate to the question of whether or not Christianity is true.

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TIA Tuesday: Passing the buck

Over the centuries, believers have evolved a number of techniques for coping with God’s continuous and universal failure to show up in real life. One of the most common ploys is to try and deflect blame from God by blaming people instead. Here’s Vox Day, from Chapter 8 of TIA, to give us an example.

While Dawkins incessantly complains about the lack of evidence for God, he never quite gets around to explaining precisely what proof, presumably scientific, would be sufficient for him. He poses no potentially falsifiable experiment that would suffice to prove or disprove God’s existence nor does he even consider the question of whether any such experiment would conceivably be possible.

Notice the subtle shift from Dawkins’s request for evidence of God, to Vox’s insinuation that Dawkins is insisting on an arbitrary, unspecified, and unreasonably stringent proof of God. God consistently and universally fails to behave as though He believed the things men say about Him, but instead of blaming God’s behavior on God, Vox wants to claim that it is men who are behaving badly, by making impossible demands.

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TIA Tuesday: Ageism and own goals

Having finished (as he supposes) with Sam Harris, Vox is ready in TIA Chapter 8 to move on to atheist number 2 in his erstwhile hit list: Richard Dawkins. As is typical with Vox, he spends the first few pages psyching himself up with a rambling, undocumented rant about how nasty and disgusting his adversary is, and as is even more typical, he does not fail to accuse the atheist of “sins” which he himself is no stranger to. He begins, however, with a canard that is as peculiar as it is mean-spirited:

A California researcher has estimated that the mean age of a biologist’s first noteworthy contribution to science takes place when he is 29.4 years old. So, at sixty-six, three decades after publishing the controversial bestseller The Selfish Gene, it’s clear that Richard Dawkins is well past his scientific expiry, and his latest book, The God Delusion, offers copious evidence that Dawkins has become as careless as he is crotchety in his old age.

You read that right: Vox Day, ad hominem virtuoso, is seriously suggesting that Dawkins’s work has gone downhill because he’s over 30!

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TIA Tuesday: Fit accompli

We’re just about done with Chapter 7 of TIA, or as I like to call it, Road Rage on the Information Superhighway. Vox Day wants so badly to prove that atheists are factually wrong, but on the one issue that really matters—God’s existence—real world facts fail to support him. So instead he treats us to a long, spiteful rant in which he hurls every accusation he can think of against atheists in hopes that at least some of them will stick. Sadly, even if he succeeds in discrediting unbelievers, God still does not show up in real life. In the end, TIA is just an exercise in vindictive futility.

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More TIA controversy

It seems my speculations about Vox Day’s Red County/Blue County argument continues to be my most controversial post in the ongoing TIA review series. Over at Mark My Words, a blogger takes me to task for suggesting that Vox might have changed his mind in the course of working through the numbers on Red State/Blue State voting records as compared with crime statistics for the same regions.

Obviously Vox Day was not seriously considering this a proof as he worked through the numbers. Having not expanded that entry on my first read I didn’t know how silly the reviewer was as I developed my first thoughts about the matter. One would think that perhaps after reading the entire entry the reviewer would be acquitted. Unfortunately, it turns out the incompetence of the objection to Vox Day on this point is even worse than missing the stated intent because the reviewer actually addressed that quote from Vox later in the post.

Yet another Vox supporter who, like Vox himself, accuses me of failing to give Vox the benefit of the doubt, without ever giving me the benefit of the doubt.
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TIA Tuesday: Glass houses

There’s an old saying that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. To which I would add “especially from indoors.”

As we’ve mentioned before, Vox Day has been most generous in the frankness with which he acknowledges the ad hominem nature of his attacks on the New Atheists, notably Sam Harris in Chapter 7. Last time, Vox accused Harris of intellectual incompetence, based on his use of an argument that was indeed spurious, as others have agreed. Unsatisfied, however, Vox closes out Chapter 7 of TIA with a clumsy and rather heavy-handed attempt to accuse Harris of intellectual dishonesty. Let’s watch.

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A history of evil

This isn’t strictly a TIA post, but it is prompted by Vox Day’s remarks about what he calls the “bloody history” of atheism, and also by his complaints that it’s not fair to blame Christianity for things like the Crusades and the Inquisition and the Catholic/Protestant wars and so on. But first I want to talk about something much, much worse, an evil so vile and corrupt that it has killed, maimed, and tortured more people than atheism and Christianity combined. I am speaking, of course, of asantanism.

Not all Nazis were atheists, but they were all asantanists. Not all Crusaders were Christians, but they were all asantanists. Communists under Stalin, Lenin and Mao? Asantanists all. Witch-burners, inquisitionists, defenders of the faith in whatever form: asantanists. Every mass-murderer, everyone who became famous for the cruelty and inhumanity of his or her atrocities, was an asantanist. Of all the people whose names have become synonymous with injustice and evil, not one of them believed in Santa Claus.

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TIA Tuesday: More “fun” with statistics.

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and seen them change their minds about something right in the middle of explaining it to you? If you have, then you might experience a bit of déjà vu when you read the following from Vox Day’s discussion of Sam Harris’ Red State/Blue State argument. See if you can tell how Vox’s attitude changes between the first excerpt, from page 115ff of TIA, and the second from just four pages later:

There are several layers of problems with this apparent proof of Christian immorality. The first is that political identity is a very poor substitute for religiosity… [I]t is absurd to credit all of the supposedly law-abiding behavior of “blue” voters to the 16 percent of them who lack religious faith…. If this isn’t sufficient evidence of the foolishness of trying to equate Democratic votes with atheism, the ARIS 2001 survey reported a higher percentage of Democrats among Jews, Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Pentecostals, Episcopalians, Buddhists, and Muslims than among the not religious, of whom only 30 percent reported a preference for the Democratic Party…. So while the data may be striking, the argument based upon it can only be described as strikingly stupid.

and

What is much more important is the way in which using the more accurate county data demonstrates that Harris’s conclusions are precisely backward. Thirteen of the twenty-five safest cities are situated in RED counties and twenty-one of the twenty-five most dangerous cities are located in BLUE counties. This provides precisely the information that Harris claimed to have sought in vain, it is definitive proof that the social health of Red America is significantly superior to that of Blue America by Harris’s own chosen measure.

Did you catch that? On page 115 and following, Harris’ technique for correlating social health with Christian conservativism is “strikingly stupid.” Yet just four pages later, it’s a “definitive proof” (and not just “a sign,” as Harris called it). What made Vox change his mind so completely? Simple: he found a way to make the voting record say something that he wanted it to say.

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TIA Tuesday: Whatever it takes to make Harris look bad.

By Chapter 7 of The Irrational Atheist, Vox Day is really hitting his stride, and as a consequence is getting a little careless. Despite boasting that TIA is going to beat atheists at their own game by citing documented facts in refutation, he devotes a full four pages at the beginning of the chapter to a series of unsubstantiated slanders and insults directed at Sam Harris. Even more ironically, he accuses Harris of being ignorant just because Harris did not spend time delving into detailed rebuttals of everything that every Christian theologian has written for the past 2,000 years. Coming from an apologist who began TIA by begging off on the whole “Is God real?” question, that’s certainly rich.
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TIA: The War Delusion

Having proved to his own satisfaction that there are no theists in foxholes, Vox continues in the same theme in Chapter 6, “The War Delusion.” His main point is that religion is not the primary cause of most wars, which is perfectly reasonable and accurate. Unfortunately, he pretends that Harris and Dawkins and company are claiming that eliminating religion would eliminate war, which is a pretty blatant straw man. (He even admits at one point that Harris and Dawkins “[never] state that they believe religion is the direct and primary cause of war.”) And even though it’s only a straw man, he still seems to feel compelled to resort to the strategy of oversimplifying, citing a bunch of facts which are inconsistent with the oversimplification, and then claiming to have won the debate. I’ll give him good grades in rhetoric for subtlety and cleverness, but in the end, he still fails to address the question of what role religion does play in human conduct and conflict.

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