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Friday, January 24, 2014

The Fifth Horseman 11

This is the first of what Peter Boghossian calls his Interventions. I can't testify to the veracity of these dialogues, but it is clear that he intends them as examples of how he puts his anti-apologetics into practice. Notice how in addition to being an unmitigated asshole, he's not actually trying to convince his colleague of anything, merely plant some seeds of doubt. My own recommended response is in italics, underneath JM's responses. Pay attention to how at each point, they disrupt the Street Epistemologist's attempt to move the dialogue onto a rote path that permits him to attack without having to defend even the most absurd assertions.

The dirty little secret of the Socratic method is the way it can be used to create false dilemmas and illusionary contradictions. This is why you never, ever, grant someone attempting to use it the right to define anything, or even agree with any of their seemingly legitimate statements. Instead, force dictionary definitions on them, as doing so reliably disrupts their attempt to present their false dilemmas as well as calls their credibility into question as they attempt to deny that a dictionary definition is as legitimate as their own question-begging inventions.
I’ll now show how I’ve used these responses in two brief informal, dialectical interventions. The purpose of the interventions was to change targeted beliefs held by my interlocutors. The first intervention was with a colleague (JM) I bumped into on the street.

JM: What you seem to want to do is to take away everyone’s faith.

PB: Yeah. Why is that a problem?

JM: Well what the hell do you think? I mean what do you really think?
VD: Because what other people believe is not your business. And because faith is proven to be beneficial to literally billions of people around the world. Materially beneficial. (see anti-apologetic #8)

PB: It’s not about what I think, it’s about what you think. Why is that a problem?

JM: I’m not one of your students. Don’t answer a question with a question.
[Excellent response - VD]

PB: Okay. Here’s what I really think. I think I should be given some type of community service award for devoting my life to helping people learn to reason effectively. Now could you please answer my question? Why is helping people to abandon their faith a bad thing?

JM: Because for the most part these are good, decent people. You’re taking good, kind, Christian people and you’re taking away something that they rely on.
VD: Don't try to evade the question. I asked you why you think that isn't a problem. I didn't ask if you think you should be given an award or if you think the Trail Blazers will win next weekend. Answer the question!

PB: Do you think the thing that they rely upon [faith], do you think that will lead them to the truth?

JM: Of course not. No sane person could. But it [faith] not only makes them feel good, it also keeps them in check. What do you think would happen if you and X [a colleague] had your way?
VD: You seem to think that faith is an epistemology. It isn't. It is nothing more than choosing an operative axiom, just like one does in science and mathematics. You're committing a category error.

PB: What do you think would happen?

JM: You know what would happen, that’s why you’re asking me what would happen. They’d be murdering and raping and who only knows what else.

PB: So you mean that by taking away a bad way of reasoning the natural consequence is that people become murderers?

JM: The reason that a lot of people don’t rape and murder in the first place is because of religion.

PB: Well what about Scandinavia?
VD: What about it? Scandinavia has the highest rape rates in Europe. Sweden does, to be specific. You're proving the point. (See anti-apologetic #11)

JM: You people love to talk about Scandinavia.

PB: Well?

JM: Well that’s not the same.

PB: The same as what?

JM: The conditions there are not the same as the conditions here, and you know it.

PB: I have no idea what you’re talking about. What do you mean?

JM: You know exactly what I mean. I mean they’re not analogous, and you’re making them analogous.

PB: You mean if all other variables were held constant and the Scandinavians became more faithful, the murder and rape rates would drop?

(Sigh and a long pause)

JM: You’re impossible.

PB: So are you willing to change your mind and agree that helping to rid large numbers of people from an unreliable process of reasoning will not have a detrimental effect on the society?

(Sigh)

PB: Well?

(Sigh)
JM got off to a good start, but instead of pressing after he initially knocked Boghossian back, he gave up. But where JM really went off the track here is with his consequential appeal to immorality. This is defensible, but only if you're prepared to go into considerably more detail than he was. A much better line of response concerning the negative effect of what would happen if Boghossian got his wish is the inevitable decline and fall of Western society. Atheism is observably parasitical on a religious population and it is much harder for Street Epistemologists to deny falling birth rates and the mass replacement of the increasingly irreligious First World population by religious Third World immigrants than to defend the question of whether people are more or less moral than before.

Of course, it's hilarious that Boggie interprets (sigh) as "you win, there is no intellectually credible response to the brilliance of your wit and reason" rather than "wow, I cannot believe what a hopeless asshole you are." Vegas would give shorter odds to Boghossian having a higher-than-normal Asperger's Quotient than to Peyton Manning facing the 2013 Vikings secondary.

Labels: ,

85 Comments:

Anonymous TJIC January 24, 2014 9:11 AM  

> PB: I have no idea what you’re talking about. What do you mean?
>
> JM: You know exactly what I mean.

I love how JM is on the horns of a PC Bright dilemma: he's torn between attacking religion by citing Muslims, and, on the other hand, he knows that he can't say anything bad about the dark skinned Other.

Comedy gold.

Anonymous Paul Sacramento January 24, 2014 9:23 AM  

I found this interesting:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

Note that the rate in Northern Europe is 1.5 and that is actually higher than southern (1.4) and western Europe (1.0).
Not sure how these divisions are in reality BUT Spain is .8 and Portugal 1.2 and they are most certainly Religious countries.

Anonymous AJ January 24, 2014 9:26 AM  

I would avoid using the high rates of rape in Sweden as an argument since these are either feminist "rapes" or real rapes commited by the muslim immigrant population which is decidedly non-secular.

Anonymous Sigyn January 24, 2014 9:28 AM  

"Intervention"...More like "interruption". Did he even bother to ask JM what he was doing at the time? If he was "on the street", he was likely on his way to somewhere else and had something else on his mind when he got ambushed.

Of course Bogsy wouldn't notice that, since "fixing people" (i.e., "turn everyone into me!!!") is the first and foremost thing on his mind all day long.

Anonymous The One January 24, 2014 9:36 AM  

Think you are giving to much credit by responding logically. If they want to be asses agree and amplify.

PB: Yeah.Why is that a problem?

TO: Let me ask you a question about evolution. How many wings does a male roaster have?

PB: Two

TO: Know I'm going to try to trick you. How many beaks does a male roaster have?

PB: One

TO:okay, last question. How many teeth does a cat have?

PB: No idea

TO: So you know more about cock than pussy...

Anonymous The One January 24, 2014 9:38 AM  

*Now

Anonymous Sigyn January 24, 2014 9:38 AM  

I would avoid using the high rates of rape in Sweden as an argument since these are either feminist "rapes" or real rapes commited by the muslim immigrant population which is decidedly non-secular.

That has nothing to do with the fact that Bogsy cited Sweden as an example of how low, low, low crime rates are in secular nations. They are demonstrably not. Making the counterpoint puts the burden of proving that secularism leads to safer/freer/healthier/happier back on Bogsy.

This is rhetoric, not dialectic. Don't get confused.

Anonymous VD January 24, 2014 9:38 AM  

I would avoid using the high rates of rape in Sweden as an argument since these are either feminist "rapes" or real rapes commited by the muslim immigrant population which is decidedly non-secular.

That's because you don't know how to debate effectively. You should want to get Boggie discussing why the Muslim immigrants are there and how that relates to societal secularism. It's a trap.

Anonymous x January 24, 2014 9:39 AM  

JM: What you seem to want to do is to take away everyone’s faith.

PB: Yeah. Why is that a problem?

JM: Because I'm a Muslim.

PB: Sorry good, Sir. Allah is good. Now, if you can excuse me, I have a cab to catch...

Anonymous Jesse January 24, 2014 9:41 AM  

I'm sorry, I know this adds NOTHING to the discussion but I can't get over my mind's association of the name "Boghossian" with "Boss Hoggian" and the visuals are hysterical.

Anonymous x January 24, 2014 9:42 AM  

PB: So are you willing to change your mind and agree that helping to rid large numbers of people from an unreliable process of reasoning will not have a detrimental effect on the society?

Black Guy:

Black Guy: I jus' knocked yer ass out, son!

Anonymous Susan January 24, 2014 9:44 AM  

As an Oregonian, I am loving how you used one of the worst teams in the league as your example. That was great and the team known as the Fail Blazers locally deserve it.

I am also hoping for great success in your efforts to help turn folks into good rebukers of atheism. It has been needed for a long time.

Blogger Joshua_D January 24, 2014 9:49 AM  

x January 24, 2014 9:39 AM

JM: What you seem to want to do is to take away everyone’s faith.

PB: Yeah. Why is that a problem?

JM: Because I'm a Muslim.

PB: Sorry good, Sir. Allah is good. Now, if you can excuse me, I have a cab to catch...


Heh. That made me laugh.

Anonymous x January 24, 2014 9:50 AM  

Still... at least PB didn't bring up "bronze-age bloodthirsty war-gods" or "pink unicorns" or "the tooth fairy" in his fictional sales pitch. So maybe Bogs is a standard deviation or two above Lud and the other aspies you get around here?

Anonymous Josh January 24, 2014 10:00 AM  

His interventions are the worst sales pitch ever. He should retitle them "how to lose friends and annoy everyone"

Anonymous Josh January 24, 2014 10:01 AM  

His interventions are the worst sales pitch ever. He should retitle them "how to lose friends and annoy everyone"

Anonymous Psuedo-Nate January 24, 2014 10:07 AM  

Any chance we could pack off PB to Afghanistan so he can talk the Taliban out of there faith, creating a Utopian state with opium poppies for everyone? I mean since large world of 3rd worlders doesn't seem to matter...

Blogger IM2L844 January 24, 2014 10:09 AM  

"You seem to think that faith is an epistemology. It isn't. It is nothing more than choosing an operative axiom"

I like this a lot!

Anonymous Feh January 24, 2014 10:10 AM  

If this conversation is reported by the Bogmeister as a shining example of his own effectiveness at argumentation, I'd have to be skeptical that he reported it correctly. What is JM's version of events? I presume the interaction is not available on youtube for others to watch and evaluate.

Anonymous zen0 January 24, 2014 10:10 AM  

Sociopath:

As a personality disorder, it is characterized by enduring antisocial behavior, diminished empathy and remorse, and disinhibited or bold behavior.

added bonus:

How to spot a Sociopath

Anonymous x January 24, 2014 10:14 AM  

I presume the interaction is not available on youtube for others to watch and evaluate.

No, we're supposed to have faith in his written accounts being the truth.

Just this once.

Anonymous Salt January 24, 2014 10:15 AM  

So you mean that by taking away a bad way of reasoning the natural consequence is that people become murderers?

I'll put it to you this way. Bad reasoning yielding consecutively good results beats your self-stated good reasoning as to the natural consequences as everywhere your reasoning grows more bad things happen.

Anonymous Alexander January 24, 2014 10:21 AM  

PB: So are you willing to change your mind and agree that helping to rid large numbers of people ... will not have a detrimental effect on the society?

Fixed that for him. No reason not to state in plain English the inevitable result of trying to force rightthink on a population that does not want it.

Anonymous Starbuck January 24, 2014 10:23 AM  

VD, I see what you did there. I have no problem with people debating, although I am no good at it myself. However, debating Atheists on the existence of God seems rather infantile doesn't it? No matter what you say, no matter how well you prove your point. They will always say they won. Because you cannot produce a Living God in front of them. Is there any point to this? Seriously, I am questioning if I should just avoid them because I can get no where with these people.

I have come to the conclusion that it is pointless with them. But you keep on keeping on. Why?

Anonymous Alexander January 24, 2014 10:25 AM  

Because you are not trying to convince them (or rather, you try but accept it's a shot in the dark.)

What you are primarily doing is destroying their credibility to third parties, and so neutralize their bile when released on the population at large.

Anonymous Anonymous January 24, 2014 10:32 AM  

I would have stopped PB and insisted on a definition of faith. And the Miracle on 34th St. definition would not be accepted. The only definition of faith I will discuss is Heb 11:1"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." I am sure there would be no discussion at all. But VD, what is wrong with being an asshole? Of course one should be a smartass and not a dumbass.

Anonymous zen0 January 24, 2014 10:35 AM  

Why?

I daresay its for the children.

Blogger IM2L844 January 24, 2014 10:37 AM  

Seriously, I am questioning if I should just avoid them because I can get no where with these people.

Among dozens if not hundreds of failures I can count exactly one verifiable hardcore conversion, but it was worth it in the end. Maybe I'll get another before it's over.

Blogger Wednesday January 24, 2014 10:38 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Anonymous FaustsBargainSale January 24, 2014 10:39 AM  

This series, and this post particularly, have been very helpful. When I read the book, I was able to see the flaws in Boggy's arguments, of course, because I have an IQ above room temperature. But I certainly wouldn't have been able to point them out this clearly. The dictionary trick especially; I've seen you use that before in any number of debates, and it always struck me as rather pedantic. Now I see exactly why you do it, and it's a very formidable trick.

I hope there are a few more of these to come, this is immensely instructive.

Anonymous Huckleberry - est. 1977 January 24, 2014 10:45 AM  

How is this an intervention?
Judging by the limited scope and tepid enthusiasm on the part of JM, along with the whopper of a clue that JM is a "colleague", Bogs is literally preaching to the converted.
Street Epistemology.
If this actually happened impromptu* "on the street" and not in a Portland JC adjunct faculty lounge, I'll eat my hat.

* I do allow for the possibility that Bogs waited outside JM's house, hiding in the bushes, ready to accost the poor fellow "on the street" as soon as he left the house.

Anonymous x January 24, 2014 10:50 AM  

However, debating Atheists on the existence of God seems rather infantile doesn't it? No matter what you say, no matter how well you prove your point. They will always say they won. Because you cannot produce a Living God in front of them. Is there any point to this? Seriously, I am questioning if I should just avoid them because I can get no where with these people.

Proverbs 26:4-5: Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.

vs.

1 Peter 3:15 But gin your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

Anonymous NorthernHamlet January 24, 2014 10:53 AM  

Huckleberry - est. 1977

I was just about to reply with the same thing.

I'm assuming there's more of these conversion stories, but this one has nothing to do with convincing anyone they should be an atheist.

It's all just saying: hey you should care enough to politicize your atheism. When the other atheist cares so little about religion he won't even really argue about it, Bog takes it as a win.

Blogger Quadko January 24, 2014 10:54 AM  

I would avoid using the high rates of rape in Sweden as an argument since these are either feminist "rapes" or real rapes commited by the muslim immigrant population which is decidedly non-secular.

But the vaunted-by-atheist fellow-travelers-with-femenists secular Swedes in charge either allow or can't control the behavior of the populations, so it's probably worth having that discussion as well. "So, atheist secularism in charge is impotent to act in the good of the population - what's the benefit?" And that's accepting PB's "Scandinavia is a secular paradise with no problems" premise, which is both bad technique and not true anyway!

While we are at it, Norway has a state Lutheran church and the Norwegians I work with definitely consider Norway a Christian society and Norwegians Christians. Sweden created a Lutheran "Church of Sweden" in 2000 after being more generically Lutheran before that. Denmark's official church is the "Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark", Finland's is the "Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland", and Iceland's is the "Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland". I'm seeing a pattern here. Apparently Boghossian is really campaigning for an official state "Evengelical Lutheran Church of the USA", given his desire to replicate Scandinavia here. Seeing how fast and loose he is with definitions, he probably thinks "atheist" means "Lutheran" - you know, because Luther wasn't God.

Anonymous Salt January 24, 2014 10:55 AM  

Or as a cruelty artist. I know that is in there too. Somewhere.

Blogger Nate January 24, 2014 11:00 AM  

Fish. Barrel. ***BANG***

Anonymous Cold Calculus January 24, 2014 11:07 AM  

VD: You seem to think that faith is an epistemology. It isn't. It is nothing more than choosing an operative axiom, just like one does in science and mathematics. You're committing a category error.

Is this not the unraveling of PB? That science in actuality is a faith-based system as well? From Peano's Axioms to the Four Fundamental Forces of the Universe, Science operates from axiomatic unprovable beliefs.

As a Christian, my axiom is Jesus (and the canonical teachings of the Bible).

VD has cited in the recent past Thomas Kuhn's Structures of Scientific Revolution. How many reigning scientific paradigms have there been? Put another way, how many faith-based (faith borne from observation) axiomatic scientific paradigms have there been?

Let's see.

The Flat Earth Paradigm.

The Geocentric Universe Paradigm.

The Newtonian Three Space Paradigm.

The Relativistic Space Paradigm.

The Quantum Space Paradigm.

The Grand Unified Theory Paradigm.

The No-Solar-Impact Climate Model Paradigm.

And on and on. Science truly is faith-based. And that's fine.

NB: Any "scientist" that states: "The science is settled" is neither a scientist nor does he understand the Scientific Method. Science, by definition, is never settled. I have at best an armchair interest in scientific developments, but I have recently heard or read that there might be speeds faster than light, that there are unexplained and unexplainable masses (or antimasses) of matter in the universe, that maybe there is a fifth universal force, that Saturn's rings are impossible, that Jupiter's hexagon is impossible, etc.

Anonymous Earl January 24, 2014 11:08 AM  

Starbuck, I was convinced of many things online through debates on forums like this. I remember one time on Digg I shrieked that religious people were ok with the death penalty and not ok with abortion. Someone simply said "If you can't tell the difference between a criminal and an unborn baby, then I don't know what else to tell you."

I was like, "Well. Yeah. Whaddyaknow. Thanks."

But I see some merit in the view that people innately tend toward certain opinions on many matters. I always knew abortion was killing, but I thought of it as justified or acceptable killing.

Anonymous Alexander January 24, 2014 11:15 AM  

Sweden is something that you should always bring up:

They generally won't want to touch the fact that it's Muslims, so either the secular state utopia is to blame, or it's actually not a secular state despite the last twenty minute praise of the secular state of Sweden you just endured, or they blame the Muslims.

If they do the latter, you make them clarify that for the record, they are placing Islamic migration as the cause of increased rapes in the west. You've now isolated the atheist
from his fellow travelers if he says yes, and if he says no then force the original three choices back on him.

You can either leave him there, alone and sad if he says Yes to the Muslim question, or you can press on: So the secular state actively chooses to import people that they know will increase the rape count against the local population, and that's moral?

Scandinavia is a godsend because the statist will work himself up to orgasm expounding Scandinavia as the pinnacle of human society. Then you crucify them with it. It works for immigration. It works for oil. It works for religion. It works for social welfare.

In fact, it's probably a good idea to go ahead and get the lefty on the record about how awesome Scandinavia is with regards to everything before debating any actual points.

Anonymous Earl January 24, 2014 11:16 AM  

Vox, I want to say thanks for this series. I have taken two new items from it which never dawned on me:

1. The infinite worlds theory of atheists, which logically leads to the necessity of at least one world with a Creator God, and that this one would probably be it. I always knew infinity was an easily assailed position, but I was never able to whittle my attack down to such a short but sweet statement like that. Thanks.

2. Faith is choosing an operative axiom. Not bad. I've always struggled to define what faith is, demurring when it comes to soul-seeking non-believers, or refusing the debate when it comes to hostile challengers. It is a mysterious gift that I recieved from God, and it is not something I can explain to non-believers-- just like I could not understand it at all as a non-believer myself. So while your definition doesn't stand in as the perfect all around definition, it is another short and sweet nugget for the wolves and goats and swine to chew on. Thanks.

Blogger Longstreet January 24, 2014 11:23 AM  

"If this conversation is reported by the Bogmeister as a shining example of his own effectiveness at argumentation, I'd have to be skeptical that he reported it correctly."
Yes. After what I've read of the book so far, and from what I know of Boggsy from other sources on the interwebs, I seriously doubt the conversations happened as he reports them (if they happened at all). He either VASTLY overestimates his own ability or he is an atrocious liar. Given his bullshit made-up-to-fit-my-argument definition of faith I leaning towards liar.

Go to Christ the Tao and read that blogger's account of the email exchange he had with Boghossian. That's the sort of honesty and openness you can expect from the man.

Blogger IM2L844 January 24, 2014 11:30 AM  

If this actually happened impromptu* "on the street" and not in a Portland JC adjunct faculty lounge, I'll eat my hat.

I'm guessing it was a classroom exercise with one of his intimidated students who rightly knows which side his bread is buttered on. Pissing off the professor is seldom a productive endeavor.

Blogger Nate January 24, 2014 11:34 AM  

By the way Vox... if it helps... Minnesota just hired Jerry Gray as a Secondary Coach. He coaches his guys to play off to much... he's timid... and way to conservative.

So...

Good luck.

Anonymous VD January 24, 2014 11:37 AM  

I have come to the conclusion that it is pointless with them. But you keep on keeping on. Why?

Because of this: "This series, and this post particularly, have been very helpful. When I read the book, I was able to see the flaws in Boggy's arguments, of course, because I have an IQ above room temperature. But I certainly wouldn't have been able to point them out this clearly."

I have a talent, or a skill, for this sort of thing that many people lack. So, I am able to give them a weapon with which they can defend their faith. That's one reason. The other, of course, is that I loathe bullies and enjoy being free to unload on those who have it coming.

Blogger CarpeOro January 24, 2014 11:47 AM  

"VD January 24, 2014 9:38 AM

I would avoid using the high rates of rape in Sweden as an argument since these are either feminist "rapes" or real rapes commited by the muslim immigrant population which is decidedly non-secular.

That's because you don't know how to debate effectively. You should want to get Boggie discussing why the Muslim immigrants are there and how that relates to societal secularism. It's a trap."

I'd go the opposite way and double down on exposing Swedish ills. Bring up the high out of wedlock birth issue. Then follow on with the higher failure rate for non-married couples. Then seal the deal with crime statistics for children from single mother homes.

Anonymous alexamenos January 24, 2014 12:04 PM  

I'd go the opposite way and double down on exposing Swedish ills. Bring up the high out of wedlock birth issue. Then follow on with the higher failure rate for non-married couples. Then seal the deal with crime statistics for children from single mother homes.

I'd give Bogs every opportunity to blame rising rates of rape in Sweden on hordes of invading Muslims. It's very tempting bait with a big hook in it.

It ought to be really, really easy for secular Swedes to thwart the raping hordes, but they can't, or won't. Why not?

Anonymous VD January 24, 2014 12:11 PM  

Minnesota just hired Jerry Gray as a Secondary Coach. He coaches his guys to play off too much...

Which is probably five yards closer than they played last year. It can't get worse.

Blogger Outlaw X January 24, 2014 12:12 PM  

Always, always, always stay on subject. I remember when Our philosophy teacher chose me to debate another classmate on the existence of God and him to debate that God does not exist (gave us a week to prepare). No matter Our beliefs. It was an assignment required. He was always creating tangents which I would not allow until he set a trap for himself. He talked about God (all knowing) saying Sunrise and Sunset. I allowed the question because I knew where it would lead. He said surely God would know that the Sun does not rise or set but the earth rotates. I then used it against him and said do you say sunrise and sunset or do you say the when the earth rotates about a position where the sun appears above the horizon, or do you say when the earth rotates to where it appears the sun falls below the horizon, or do you say as I asked sunrise and sunset? Of course he had to admit even though he knows the sun doesn't rise or set but the earth rotates he still called it sunrise and sunset. Needless to say I won the debate according to the class voting, But this was TX. Of course this is a small example from high school.

Watch the tangents and tricks and if they step in the cow poop let them.

Anonymous hygate January 24, 2014 12:16 PM  

Boghossian seems much like the Hare Krishnas that infested airports a few decades ago. The fact I'm not responding to you nor answering your questions doesn't mean you are winning an argument. It means you are an annoying ass and I have better things to do with my time.

Anonymous VanDerMerwe January 24, 2014 12:16 PM  

"They generally won't want to touch the fact that it's Muslims, so either the secular state utopia is to blame, or it's actually not a secular state despite the last twenty minute praise of the secular state of Sweden you just endured, or they blame the Muslims."

I know a lot of punk internet atheists who don't mind criticizing Islam and so on.

Anonymous x January 24, 2014 12:20 PM  

I know a lot of punk internet atheists who don't mind criticizing Islam and so on.

Name names.

Anonymous Anonymous January 24, 2014 12:26 PM  

1 Peter 3:15 But gin your hearts...

Excellent advice. I prefer Glenlivet, but to each his own. I too would like to add my admiration for the precise dismantling of this Street Epistemologist. The false dilemma advice is excellent as well. I have recognized this false dilemma from JW circles, e.g. - "God submits to nobody. Jesus was submissive to God, therefore Jesus cannot be God." Forgetting, that Jesus willingly submitted himself to the will of the Father - emptying himself - and taking the form of a slave.

Either you are evil or good. There's another good one. Here I appreciate Luther's (and others) teachings that we are simul - sinner/saint, free lord subject to none / dutiful servant subject to all. Thanks again - this would make a great book - much more usable, IMO that other apologetic resources out there (and this after just finishing W.L Craig's "On Guard: Defending Your Faith).

Anonymous hygate January 24, 2014 12:26 PM  

"punk internet atheists "

I think "internet" is the operative word there.

Blogger Markku January 24, 2014 12:30 PM  

Scandinavia is not currently religious, but it has been VERY Christian until recent times. Of course there is going to be an amount of hysteresis before society devolves to barbarism.

For example, the penalties for blasphemy against the Christian God in Finland:
1734 - 1890: Death penalty
1890 - 1970: Max four years in prison
1970 - 1998 Max two years in prison
1999 - present time: Max six months in prison, but from that date on, blasphemy against any legally recognized deity (doesn't include Flying Spaghetti Monster yet) carries the penalty. Also, the language was changed in such a way that now the nature of the offense isn't a crime against the actual deity like before, but against the people who believe in it.

Anonymous Pinakeli January 24, 2014 12:57 PM  

This guy sounds like an old Vaudeville act.

PB: I bet you $20 I can prove you're not here.

JM: I'll take that bet.

PB: Are you in Houston?

JM: No.

PB: Are you in New York?

JM: No.

PB: Are you in Los Angeles?

JM: No.

PB: Well, if you are not in Houston, New York, or Los Angeles, then you must be somewhere else, right?

JM: ...Yes.

PB: If you're someplace else, you can't be here. Pay me my $20!

JM: Well, if I'm not here I can't pay you.

Blogger Nate January 24, 2014 1:46 PM  

"Which is probably five yards closer than they played last year. It can't get worse."

I would encourage you to look at the way the Titans CBs played in 2012 when Grey was running the show on his own. 15 yards to 20 yards off on every play.

They moved up tighter this year but only because Greg Williams had a lot of influence in the room and wanted them tight.

Blogger RobertT January 24, 2014 2:24 PM  

" It’s not about what I think, it’s about what you think. Why is that a problem? "

Whenever I run into this line of conversation, I always get the impression it's a dimwitted attempt to humiliate me. This guy would be making a mistake if he made this statement to me. Church bells would go off in my head and I would take responsive action, probably turning the tables on him. it would not end well.

When I first realized this was the Socratic approach i was disappointed because I don't think it's all that bright of an approach. If it's purpose is to convince observers, it may work, but I doubt it would convince anyone to whom it's directed.

Anonymous Krul January 24, 2014 2:58 PM  

Of course, it's hilarious that Boggie interprets (sigh) as "you win, there is no intellectually credible response to the brilliance of your wit and reason" rather than "wow, I cannot believe what a hopeless asshole you are."

Evidence that, contra his stated goal, Bog's actual intention is to silence those who disagree with him.

Tellingly, this includes fellow atheists like JM here, who is targeted only because Bog considers him to be too tolerant of religious faith in others.

Anonymous hygate January 24, 2014 3:42 PM  

"Bog considers him to be too tolerant of religious faith in others"

Didn't the communists have a phrase for this? "Insufficient ideological commitment?" "Deviationist?"

Blogger Duke of Earl January 24, 2014 3:43 PM  

I'm afraid that in person I would just stare blankly at him, wondering what on Earth he was talking about.

I'm not too good on the face to face confrontation thing. Written down is much easier as it allows time to get my thoughts into order.

When I talk with people I prefer to explain things in a non-personal fashion, for example.

Faith in Greek is pistis, which has among its meanings 'trust based on prior performance,' especially within the context of an interpersonal relationship.

Hebrews tells us that it is the hope of things as yet unseen, and that flows naturally out of the usage of pistis. Imagine that I have a son, who knows me due to being my son. If I say to him, "son, I'll bring you a chocolate bar when I come home," he'll have an expectation, a hope, that when I come home he'll get a chocolate bar. He hasn't seen the chocolate bar, but because he trusts me he expects a chocolate bar. Likewise those who trust God look forward in expectation to God fulfilling his promises and bringing us into his kingdom.

For the first Christians their faith (trust and loyalty) was rooted in their experience of the risen Jesus. The evidence of God raising Jesus from the dead vindicated Jesus's claims to be representing God in a unique way. In the language of patronage Jesus was the broker of God's favour in a way no one else was.

Whilst we ourselves do not have the personal experience the first Christians had, we do have their testimonies recorded in the Bible and from that we can infer five basic facts about Jesus's death.

1. He was crucified by the Romans, which means he was quite dead.
2. A relatively short time later his followers were reporting that they had seen him alive again.
3. His brother James, previously presented as sceptical of his brother's claims, became a believer and later the head of the Jewish Church.
4. An outright enemy of the new movement, Saul, became a most loyal follower of Jesus, Paul, after an experience on the road to Damascus.
5. Jesus's tomb was empty on the third day after his crucifixion.

These basic facts, agreed to by most scholars who have looked at the matter, fit the story given in the gospels, that God raised Jesus from the dead. That is not to say there could not be an alternative explanation, but those that have been proposed generally fail to explain one or more of the basic facts.

Jesus didn't die? Point 1, 3, and 4.
His disciples hallucinated or lied? Point 3, 4, and 5. etc

Now some might say that God does not exist therefore the "God raised Jesus from the dead" explanation cannot be true regardless of whether or not it is the best explanation for the evidence. However that is not argument in good faith, it is simply begging the question for atheism.

Of course begging the question for atheism is what Boghossian does best.

Blogger Markku January 24, 2014 3:50 PM  

We already have a word for what Bogs wants to define faith as, and it is make-believe. So, one might expect that he would phrase the argument as "religious belief is make-believe".

But that would be too intellectually honest. Even the person of average intelligence would immediately see that this is now the point of contention, and the entire argument must hinge on it.

No, but rather he would like to slip that assumption into the discussion without drawing too much attention to the fact that it has been made, and thereby befuddle the person not yet familiar with dialectic with an intellectually dishonest person.

Anonymous Krul January 24, 2014 4:01 PM  

The first intervention was with a colleague (JM) I bumped into on the street.

Heh. I wouldn't be surprised if he meant this literally. As in, he physically collided with JM and wouldn't let him go until they had an "intervention".

"Faith Monster! CHARGE!"

Anonymous Catan January 24, 2014 4:11 PM  

I'm hoping for the next VPFL to have the Faith Monsters and Street Epistemologists.

Blogger JCclimber January 24, 2014 4:26 PM  

Bog monster is happily obeying his master and targeting the young impressionable minds of college students.

I am certain that Christians and especially Christian evangelists who are out there humbly doing Gods work ( in other words, exluding most televangelists) have angels working with them and protecting them.

I am just as certain that Satan has some of his legions of demons on "guardian angel" duty with his evangelists: witch doctors, spiritualists/psychics, Darwinists, and crusading atheist philosophers.

I wouldn't recommend going up against them in person without calling on the Lord in prayer, as you won't be arguing just against another human. Remember we are fighting against the power of the air, the prince of this world. And he isn't going down meekly just because he lost 2,000 years ago.

Blogger Bogey January 24, 2014 5:26 PM  

I'd go the opposite way and double down on exposing Swedish ills. Bring up the high out of wedlock birth issue. Then follow on with the higher failure rate for non-married couples. Then seal the deal with crime statistics for children from single mother homes.

That's a problem right there, most of us don't carry around the rape statistics of Scandinavian countries in our head, much less the marriage statistics. How about just knocking the shit out of Boggy than while he's on the pavement bleeding say "whoops I forgot the Golden Rule."

In all seriousness this is a good series.

Blogger Bogey January 24, 2014 5:30 PM  

..and the answer to all that raping, Swedish women need to stop being so hot.

Blogger Markku January 24, 2014 5:37 PM  

..and the answer to all that raping, Swedish women need to stop being so hot.

This is the one time when "let them eat cake" is actually good advice.

Anonymous Scooter Downey/Christian in Hollyweird January 24, 2014 5:42 PM  

"I have come to the conclusion that it is pointless with them. But you keep on keeping on. Why?"

Because it bears fruit. These debates are public. Vox has arguments that are unique and challenging. Any atheist with a small window still open in their mind will be intrigued by them. With any luck, they'll come here more often and be challenged. TIA was instrumental in my faith journey to Jesus.

Anonymous kh123, distant relative of Comrade Feliks Edmundovich January 24, 2014 6:09 PM  

"Didn't the communists have a phrase for this? "Insufficient ideological commitment?" "Deviationist?""

Counter revolutionary activity. More to the point because it was an arrest-worthy offense.

Anonymous zen0 January 24, 2014 7:29 PM  

@ Scooter Downey/Christian in Hollyweird

TIA was instrumental in my faith journey to Jesus..

Welcome home, pilgrim.

Anonymous PTR January 24, 2014 7:47 PM  


"VD: You seem to think that faith is an epistemology. It isn't. It is nothing more than choosing an operative axiom, just like one does in science and mathematics. You're committing a category error."

This is point worthy of its own post. Are you taking the Peter Hitchens line that one virtually arbitrarily adopts the Christian worldview because (for whatever reason, aesthetic, intuition...) it seems the right one?

Anonymous hausfrau January 24, 2014 8:46 PM  

I have come to the conclusion that it is pointless with them. But you keep on keeping on. Why?

Just as encouragement to keep up these posts I wanted to throw my two cents in. Most people will never be big game hunters. But almost all of us can learn to shoot rabbits. This is a fortifying series even if I never run into an argumentative atheist in person. Reading the posts of others debating the pros and cons of the responses is also educational. It's a different way of thinking.

Blogger tz January 24, 2014 9:08 PM  

11? I thought that was Spinal Tap...
Is it ok to pray that an asshole becomes constipated? Hmm, "pate" means the top of the head, which might be up...
Then wipe yourself off with the Courtiers three-ply bathroom tissue.

I think I should be given some type of community service award for devoting my life to helping people learn to reason effectively.

You are free to give yourself any award you desire, but for it to mean anything you must be doing objective good, yet you don't (seem - I'm fast-forward) to believe morality is objective. If you wish an award for that, you need to demonstrate you help people actually reason, not regurgitate talking points without though more effectively.

PB: So you mean that by taking away a bad way of reasoning the natural consequence is that people become murderers?

JM: The reason that a lot of people don’t rape and murder in the first place is because of religion.


Removing one form of bad reasonig to substitute it with a different but equally defective form of reasoning is no gain. To say either "god exists, therefore reason must submit to that premise" or that "god does not exist, therefore... submit" misses and begs the question. Your reason is slave to your paradigm.

PB: Well what about Scandinavia?

Do blondes really have more fun? If so, perhaps it is because ignorance is bliss. Is that what you are advocating?

PB: So are you willing to change your mind and agree that helping to rid large numbers of people from an unreliable process of reasoning will not have a detrimental effect on the society?

Stalin and Mao rid large numbers of people based on their dissenting ("unreliable" in your argot) process of reasoning. You are a monster.

Blogger tz January 24, 2014 9:14 PM  

"without though more effectively" -> "without thought more effectively"

Anonymous FritzG January 24, 2014 10:16 PM  

"Atheism is observably parasitical on a religious population"

How is not believing in the Christian God parasitical of Christianity. I wonder if you are implying that the mores professed by Christians were non existent outside of and before and after Christianity? If this is the case, I wonder if someone can list those mores that are professed only from and as a result of Christianity?

I doubt this can be done.

Blogger Bogey January 24, 2014 10:35 PM  

This is point worthy of its own post. Are you taking the Peter Hitchens line that one virtually arbitrarily adopts the Christian worldview because (for whatever reason, aesthetic, intuition...) it seems the right one?

Which was interesting because he pointed how moral one could be without making that arbitrary choice, yet he's benefited a great deal from a society informed by Christian morals and he knew no different.

Anonymous Y January 24, 2014 11:39 PM  

""Atheism is observably parasitical on a religious population"

No true Scotsman fallacy.

Blogger Lud VanB January 25, 2014 2:57 AM  

""Atheism is observably parasitical on a religious population"

in the same way that every population was parasitical on the population that preceded them

Anonymous VanDerMerwe January 25, 2014 3:07 AM  

FritzG, sure. For one I doubt that we'd have developed so quickly if it wasn't for the Church creating Cathedral schools which later became universities, the early scientists grasping that the world is intelligible because of God, and that the early monks who preserved ancient Greek and Roman writings. Never mind all the art built for the sake of God. Or the Scholastic jurists hashing out natural law which led to the concept of human rights - because of a personal creator God. Never mind the hospitals or the abolition of slavery either, or equality under law. Never mind that Christianity and the Church helped tribes organise into nations under Christian kings and by people converting to Christianity. Never mind also that Christianity did away also with infanticide and helped secure the status of women and children by forcing the husband to look after his wife through marriage, support of widows etc.

The fact is that we don't know how pagan Europe would have developed, they certainly trashed Rome and after that, what? Most likely it would remain the same collection of tribes until the arrival of the Muslims who'd probably convert many to Islam.

The modern atheist is born into a post-Christian world which still enjoys many of the moral and cultural aspects of Christianity. To then steal these values from Christians and then say you'd have had them anyway does not make sense. I don't see how you can correct for the presence of Christianity now and say that the ideas your humanistic atheist has developed is purely his own, not influenced by anything he saw, read or was brought up with as the default (Christian) position.

Anonymous VanDerMerwe January 25, 2014 3:11 AM  

"in the same way that every population was parasitical on the population that preceded them"

Sure. The Afrikaaners down in South Africa adopted cow hide shields and Zulu tactics. Or the Australians adopted Aboriginal law and science.

Anonymous Incurvatus January 25, 2014 8:09 AM  

For two weeks I'd hoped I wasn't the only one who'd kept reading that wrong.

Anonymous Incurvatus January 25, 2014 8:33 AM  

An " A++++++ " summary, Duke of Earl.

Blogger Lud VanB January 25, 2014 4:02 PM  

"Sure. The Afrikaaners down in South Africa adopted cow hide shields and Zulu tactics. Or the Australians adopted Aboriginal law and science."

they don't need to adopt every practices and customs to be considered parasitical...after all, you don't consider atheist to be parasitical to Christians because they( the atheists) believe in gods do you?

Blogger Duke of Earl January 25, 2014 4:22 PM  

But as atheists keep telling us, "we're all atheists, atheists just believe in one less god than Christians do."

Therefore the atheists borrowed the general Christian indifference to non-Christian deities, and just extended it by one more.

Anonymous FrankNorman January 26, 2014 2:08 AM  

Looks like some people here do not understand what is meant by "parasitical" in this context.

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