Sunday, June 03, 2007

Rebuttal, Defense, And A Hornet's Nest...that sort of rhymes

Recipe for Surprise:

1 long stick
1 big hornet's next
1000 angry hornets

While approaching nest, be sure to carry the long stick properly.
After choosing a sufficiently large nest, whack it a few times. Once the
nest is well-shaken...RUN! ....or you can stand your ground
and try to reason with them.....good luck with that!

I have a slightly obsessive streak to my personality, so I check my sitemeter quite often to see how people get to my blog; what search terms they used; if they run screaming in the other direction, bored by my rather mundane life, etc. Imagine my surprise when I found someone being referred to my site from Hmm, I thought to myself, that's odd. Clicking on the link led me to Mr. Cline's portion of which is a detailed section on atheism and various atheist issues and questions. And there, in this large compilation of information, was my name and blog site. Apparently, he had come across my blog and decided to quote it in his own blog-like article. That's OK. This is the internet after all, and it is posted for all to read.

I responded briefly to him, simply because I was so surprised that I wasn't really thinking too much about what to say. Here's the article he wrote if you'd like to check it out, and the comment I left, before I launch into a more lengthy response. The posts he references are all in my May Archive. You can open the May folder and each should be easily accessible. I recommend reading them in entirety if you are really interested in that sort of thing.

In the very first paragraph Mr. Cline writes:

"A popular argument for Christians is known as the "first cause" argument: it purports to prove the existence of a god by insisting that the universe could not exist or have been caused by any other means. A common retort from atheists is to ask what caused this god — after all, if the universe requires a cause and explanation, then surely this alleged god does as well; if not, then why say that the universe does?"(emphasis mine)

The first sentence is not exactly true. First Cause does not purport to prove the existence of God. It can be used as an argument to assert God's existence, but does not in and of itself, claim to prove anything. It is a question to be pondered.

The last sentence is double talk. This does nothing to prove or disprove God. Basically, this sentence merely says,"If you don't have to explain where God came from, then we don't have to explain where the Universe came from." While perhaps feeling that this statement somehow levels the playing field, it still does not answer First Cause. The reason that atheists have to explain it is because those are the requirements that they, themselves, have chosen. Christians have never said that they require scientific proof of God's existence. However, if an atheist declares that there must be evidence for belief, then they should be required to supply it for their own belief/disbelief. Their rules, not mine. I am only asking them to be consistent. It is silly to dismiss God's existence for lack of scientific evidence, and then in the next breath, declare that you don't require a scientific explanation for the lack in your own belief/disbelief system.

The next quote:

"For one thing, we don't need to have a final answer to something in order to know that something else definitely isn't the answer. "


So, we don't need to know that 2+x=4 in order to say that "x" is not 6? If 2 +x=? then how can we definitively tell ourselves that "x" is, most assuredly, not 6?

I don't think that approach would work in math. In order to rule something out, you must know what everything else is, except for the one unknown.

In his quote from my post, he links to his own articles.

"By the time a person boldly declares themselves an atheist, they usually have their minds made up; otherwise, they would simply call themselves agnostic or say that they don't "think" that there is a God. "

What's so funny about this is that he inserted links to pages about the terms agnostic/atheist, seeming to try and disprove my opinion. If you go to the links and read through them, they don't contradict this statement, and can even support it. So, I'm not sure what his intent was.

He did the same thing here by linking my text to another article about Meaning.

"But, of course, atheists would deny that there is any meaning to humanity's journey. Meaning implies purpose. Purpose implies intention. "

Once again, the link leads to an article that explains that meaning for an atheist can be found in an individual's life, but it doesn't disprove what I am claiming about atheists and a lack of meaning for humanity's journey. I may find a book very meaningful, but what has that to do with all of Humanity? Nothing, because we are talking about two different concepts. Atheists do deny that there is any inherent meaning to Humanity's journey. At no point does he say differently, so why the link to an irrelevant article?

Here's a good one. I wrote in one of my original posts:

What bugs me most about atheists' thinking is that it is so often illogical and hypocritical in its application...and later on...What smug atheists often fail to do is to use their own logic on their beliefs.

His response:

"according to Terri here, all atheists are often illogical and hypocritical. That's as bigoted and suggesting that all blacks are often criminal, or all Jews are often greedy. " (typo is his)

Wow. I've never been called a bigot before. Preposterous. Saying that Atheists can be illogical and hypocritical in their thinking, when approaching the existence of God, is not even close to the other two comparisons--one is simply about intellectual arguments that are made, and the others are about the character of an individual. The criticism is of the "thinking" not the person. Perhaps, I shouldn't have used the word "smug." Not all atheists are smug. I was responding to some snarky comments by the Rational Response Squad, not trying to say that all atheists are smug.

Mr. Cline concludes with:

"but ultimately, people who presume to post about and criticize others like this have an ethical and an intellectual obligation to do at least a little work checking facts and their assumptions before proceeding."

Well, you can go to my last post about atheism and read what I have to say about obligations, be they ethical or moral. Why do I have an obligation in a Universe that has no inherent meaning, purpose, right, or wrong?

Once again, my criticism is aimed at the thoughts and arguments of atheists, not the character of atheists. Also, I read through many of Mr. Cline's articles and still have yet to find a single answer to any of the themes proposed in my posts. What I did find was a lot of post-modern thinking that consisted largely of the rejection of ideas based on an inability to be certain of any truth. OK. Well if that is the modus operandus of atheism, than how can an atheist be sure of their version of truth? If nothing can be verified, and all belief systems stem from confirmation bias and misconceptions, what is it that sets an atheist above the scope of such influence? Did they swallow a magic pill, a la Matrix, and now they can see clearly and are free of this dastardly influence, yet everyone else is woefully subject to its deceptions?

Further, Mr. Cline criticizes my post as being pure assumption. He claims that I should do research and check facts before posting my opinions on the subject. What is so intriguing about this claim is that as I read through many of Mr. Cline's articles, none of them are based on facts. There are lots of opinions, intellectual ideas, and in-depth thoughts about atheism and theism, but those are not the same as "facts." I did not come across a single reference or link within his writings to any source, other than his own ideas, in all of the articles through which I waded. I, on my personal blog, must check my facts, but he, contributor to a widely used internet resource, is not required to list any? That is not only a double standard, but shows a misunderstanding for the level of research required for very different types of writing--one being personal, the other being academic.

There is much more that I have to say, but I will save it for another post. This one is already quite lengthy.


divineconspiracy said...

see what happens? you start linking to other blogs, now you're famous! :)

great points, I think you've hit it right on the head, very articulate.

terri said...

famous....or infamous? hehe

What's so funny is that I had decided to stop doing posts on atheism for a while, only to be drug into another one.

Those hornets are really mad. :-)

Makarios said...

I think that, hands down, yours is pretty much the best blog going. Nice work.

terri said...

"the best blog going"

Wow. I appreciate the compliment, though I am not quite sure that I can live up to it.

I always see lots of room for improvement in my posts.

Thank You.