Delusions about delusions

Surprise, surprise. The Gnu Atheist activists seem to think all religious people should be diagnosed as mentally ill because they suffer from delusions. We learn about this totally novel attack [cough] when Jerry Coyne recommended yet another atheist book to his fans. No, not PZ Myers’ book. Coyne continues to ignore that one for some reason. Instead, it’s an upcoming book by Peter Boghossian. I’m dying to comment on Coyne’s recommendation, but let’s get back to the professor’s diagnosis. Coyne writes:

What I wanted to post, beyond this recommendation, was something in the book that I didn’t know. The DSM of psychiatry, explained in the excerpt below, defines delusions in such a way that religion is really one of them. But then it exempts religion from the psychiatric diagnosis of “delusion” because it is widely held. Here’s an excerpt from Peter’s book, which I post with his permission (the bolding is Peter’s, but I would have bolded it, too!):

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), is the single most important text used by clinicians. It is the diagnostic rulebook. Currently, the DSM grants religious delusions an exemption from classification as a mental illness. The following is the DSM-IV’s definition of delusion:

“A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everyone else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary. The belief is not one ordinarily accepted by other members of the person’s culture or subculture (e.g. it is not an article of religious faith). When a false belief involves a value judgment, it is regarded as a delusion only when the judgment is so extreme as to defy credibility. Delusional conviction occurs on a continuum and can sometimes be inferred from an individual’s behavior. It is often difficult to distinguish between a delusion and an overvalued idea (in which case the individual has an unreasonable belief or idea but does not hold it as firmly as is the case with a delusion)” (2000, p. 765).

Again, religion gets a pass in society. Why should someone’s belief be a delusion only if it’s held by a minority of people? In the important respect of being “an incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained,” and one that “defies credibility,” religion is a delusion. But note how religious faith is specifically exempted.

Not so fast there, professors. Some of us value critical thinking and, as such, would like to take a closer look at that definition (the sentence you two wanted to pass over with your highlighting):

A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everyone else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary.

Start with the core issue that makes the atheist an atheist – the existence of God. In the atheist mind, of course God belief is perceived to be “a false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality.” That comes with the atheism. No basis for making psychiatric diagnoses there. But what about the rest of that statement? Is belief in God sustained “despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary?” Of course not. It would be delusional to think there is some incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence that shows God does not exist and we theists struggle to sustain our belief despite that proof. Thus, belief in God fails to qualify as delusion.

In fact, we can see this clearly from the empirical data. Take the leader of the Gnu atheist movement. He himself does not agree there is “some incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence” that shows God does not exist. In fact, he even recently backed away from the label of “atheist”:

There was surprise when Prof Dawkins acknowledged that he was less than 100 per cent certain of his conviction that there is no creator.

The philosopher Sir Anthony Kenny, who chaired the discussion, interjected: “Why don’t you call yourself an agnostic?” Prof Dawkins answered that he did.

An incredulous Sir Anthony replied: “You are described as the world’s most famous atheist.”

Prof Dawkins said that he was “6.9 out of seven” sure of his beliefs.

“I think the probability of a supernatural creator existing is very very low,” he added.

A man who thinks he has some incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence that shows the non-existence of God does not acknowledge his uncertainty about the existence of God and call himself an agnostic. Such a man would proudly score himself a seven out of seven and declare the non-existence of God as a proven fact instead of relying on some mealy-mouthed, vague hand-waving about very low probabilities.

So if the leader of the Gnu atheist movement doesn’t think such incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary exists, why are we supposed to think it exists?

Yet we need not stop with the Leader of the Gnus. Anyone who has ever interacted with the Gnus knows that they do not come to us preaching about their incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence that God does not exist. Yes, now and then a nutty Gnu will try to make that case. But most of them are smart enough not to overreach on that one and instead begin mewing about there being no evidence for God. And that’s fine. I’m sure there are many Gnus who see no evidence for God. But those of us who value critical thinking can easily tell that claiming there is no evidence for God is NOT equivalent to providing incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence that God does not exist.

So while Coyne and his fans may wring their hands about psychiatrists not diagnosing God belief as some type of “pass,” the professor doesn’t seem to understand that he and all of his fellow atheists have failed to disprove the existence of God in an incontrovertible manner. As such, it is logic that prevents us from making that diagnosis. God belief does not fit the DSM-IV definition.

Of course, the DSM-IV’s definition of delusion relies extensively on subjectivity. For example, if atheists want to insist the DSM-IV’s definition does apply to religion (because of the atheists’ own subjective sense of what has been “proved”), we can just as easily turn the tables to define Gnu atheism as delusional belief system. For example, a very common belief among the Gnus is that Religion is Evil. And this is a fringe, minority belief that is almost exclusively held by Gnus who maintain and sustain it when there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. In other words, delusional Gnus calling the rest of the world delusional.

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46 Responses to Delusions about delusions

  1. G. Rodrigues says:

    Premise 1: x is an atheist in the (inane) sense of lacking belief in God.

    Premise 2: x also holds that someone who believes in God is delusional.

    (1) if x lacks belief in God, x does not have proof that there is no God.

    (2) If x has no proof that there is no God, he has the false belief that because one believes God one must be delusional.

    note: the point here is not that someone who believes in God cannot be delusional; rather, that by premise 2, x believes that *any* believer in God is delusional.

    (3) x holds a false belief, and based on it he makes a value judgment of believers in God as delusional.

    (4) but the false belief held by x is extreme and defies all credibility, precisely because not only he does not have a shred of evidence, but from such absence, he pretends to know the psychology of all believers in God and judge them delusional.

    (5) but by the APA, this defines x as delusional.

    (6) A sizeable contingent of the Gnus do hold both premise 1 and 2.

    (7) A sizeable contingent of the Gnus are delusional.

  2. Atheism says:

    If by ‘obvious and incontrovertible’ you mean 100% certainty then nothing is really that certain (outside of mathematics). If what is meant is that so obvious that normal people would change their minds once aware of the disproof…then yes theists are delusional. The problem of evil is an obvious disproof of a loving god. That Christians continue to believe is evidence of their lunacy.

  3. Nathan Duffy says:

    A thoroughgoing materialism is an absurdity that should be classified as a superstition as it necessarily can’t be true. A finite series of contingencies by definition can not account for its own existence. QED. So, even if one bought Boghossian’s argument that religious beliefs should be so classified (he offers no compelling reason to do so, though), we’d have to throw almost all atheists in there as well. If we’re all delusional, though, then it becomes meaningless to classify anyone that way.

    That’s in the best-case scenario for the atheists, though. In reality, only certain religious claims ought to be classified as delusions, while the vast majority of them rightly escape such a classification because the vast majority of them aren’t philosophically or empirically refutable. While the single belief at the heart of atheism is.

  4. Michael says:

    If by ‘obvious and incontrovertible’ you mean 100% certainty then nothing is really that certain (outside of mathematics).

    incontrovertible: synonyms: indisputable, incontestable, undeniable, irrefutable, unassailable, beyond dispute, unquestionable, beyond question, indubitable, beyond doubt, unarguable, undebatable

    Militant Gnus might think the nonexistence of God qualifies, but that is simply a function of their extremism and closed-mindedness.

  5. ullrich fischer says:

    Most Atheists, while lacking proof that absolutely no ill-defined “creator of the Universe and inactive since that heroic act” God exists, certainly DO have absolute, incontrovertible logical proof that the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam does not exist. His definition is self-contradictory. That is all the proof we need. Most theists are not content with the nebulous “created All, then left it alone to fend for itself” God. Most have specific definitions which can be and have been tested for internal consistency and for conformity with the laws of nature. All three definitions have been definitively disproved.

    Just as there is no evidence for a pink tutu wearing teddy bear orbiting some as yet to be discovered planetoid in the outer reaches of the solar system, so is there no absolute proof that such a thing does not exist. That lack of proof does not make it reasonable to believe such a thing does exist. Similarly, with the vaguely defined God of the Gaps. While there is no absolute proof that such a God does not exist, the lack of such a proof is not the basis for a reasonable belief that such a God does exist. Especially so, given the centuries long trend of gap after gap being filled in by the forward march of science without any need for the God hypothesis.

    The absurd belief in a transcendental God is not the bottom of the depths of delusional thinking to be plumbed amongst true believers. Most believe various patently absurd dogmas like the Catholic belief that mumbling some arcane incantations over a soda cracker converts it to the flesh of Christ or that a Prophet (Peace be upon his un-named personage) rose to heaven on a winged horse, or that every word in the Bible is literally true. All of those dogmas can be and have been logically, historically, scientifically, or all three ways, disproved.

    As Sam Harris so poignantly points out: “[Religion] allows perfectly decent and sane people to believe by the billions what only lunatics could believe on their own. If you wake up tomorrow morning thinking that saying a few Latin words over your pancakes is going to turn them into the body of Elvis Presley, you have lost your mind. But if you think more or less the same thing about a cracker and the body of Jesus, you’re just a Catholic.” Similar assertions regarding Evangelical Christian and Islamic doctrine can also be made with similar justification.

    The incredibly courageous Indian Atheists doubtless have similar arguments refuting the myriad gods and religions infesting their subcontinent.

    The recurrent violence against Atheists perpetrated by various religions provides very convincing evidence for, if not absolute proof of the hypothesis that deep down, most true believers know that what they believe is an indefensible and false dogma. When one side in a debate resorts to violence, that pretty clearly demonstrates that they have run out of arguments in defense of their position. As the late, great, Isaac Asimov said: “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.”

  6. Jeff Long says:

    As far as I’m concerned, it’s about plausibility. I’m in Peru at the moment where god is the Roman Catholic god and Mary answers prayers. A few months ago I was on Dubai where the god is Allah. Before that I was in India, where there are many gods such as Lord Ganesh and Lord Shiva. Before that I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Arusha, Tanzania and it was all about Jesus except to the Massai people. I always ask, and I always get the same answer. The god or gods of the geographical location and of the parents of the person speaking just happened to be the only one true god or gods, and the person can tell me how they’re sure because their god or gods answers their prayers day in and day out, and they experience their god or gods in their lives. So either most of them are delusional, or all of them are delusional.

  7. Michael says:

    As far as I’m concerned, it’s about plausibility.

    That’s cool. But as far as the DSM-IV is concerned, it’s about “A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everyone else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary.”

  8. Michael says:

    Most Atheists, while lacking proof that absolutely no ill-defined “creator of the Universe and inactive since that heroic act” God exists, certainly DO have absolute, incontrovertible logical proof that the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam does not exist.

    They do? So what is this absolute, incontrovertible logical proof that the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam does not exist? And who gets to decide if the proof is absolute and incontrovertible?

    BTW, since you personally believe you have some absolute, incontrovertible logical proof that the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam does not exist, can you admit to being closed-minded about this issue?

  9. TFBW says:

    If what is meant is that so obvious that normal people would change their minds once aware of the disproof…then yes theists are delusional.

    You’re saying that a normal person would change his mind once made aware of the problem of evil, so anyone who remains a theist once aware of that problem is delusional? I detect a hint of question-begging there.

    The problem of evil is an obvious disproof of a loving god.

    I have here an introductory philosophy text which covers, in chapter five, arguments for and against the existence of God. It is so bold as to draw atheistic conclusions at the end of the chapter, based on the argument from evil (which, incidentally, is the only argument against the existence of God). They do not, however, go so far as to call it an “obvious disproof”, as you do. Rather, they say that the evidence available to us tips the scale in favour of the hypothesis that God does not exist.

    That Christians continue to believe is evidence of their lunacy.

    … and that’s why this remark is unreasonable “fringe nut extremist atheist” talk.

  10. Michael says:

    Just as there is no evidence for a pink tutu wearing teddy bear orbiting some as yet to be discovered planetoid in the outer reaches of the solar system, so is there no absolute proof that such a thing does not exist. That lack of proof does not make it reasonable to believe such a thing does exist.

    You are arguing against a straw man, as no one said belief in God is reasonable simply because it cannot be disproved. The claim that is be scrutinized is whether, according to the DSM-IV, belief in God can be clinically diagnosed as a delusion. It clearly cannot.

    Similarly, with the vaguely defined God of the Gaps. While there is no absolute proof that such a God does not exist, the lack of such a proof is not the basis for a reasonable belief that such a God does exist.

    Yet atheists demand Gaps as evidence for God.
    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/god-of-the-gaps-atheism/
    Go figure.

  11. Owen says:

    The claim that theists make is that an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving god created the Universe and wants a loving relationship with all of his creation. But so far, no such god has spoken or appeared clearly to everyone in the world. Nor has any theist has provided any universally reliable proof that such a being exists. So, unless and until this situation changes, it’s unreasonable to think that such a god exists.

  12. Owen says:

    Sorry, I meant “Nor has any theist provided….”

  13. Michael says:

    Yes, you think it is unreasonable. But that’s not the issue here. The DSM-IV was raised (and not by me) and it was argued that since religion conforms to the definition of delusion, we should diagnose religious belief as such (but for some unknown reason, religion is given a “pass”). The DSM-IV states: “A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everyone else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary.” That “no such god has spoken or appeared clearly to everyone in the world” hardly amounts to incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence of the non-existence of God.

  14. ullrich fischer says:

    Michael. The incontrovertible proof is based on the IMHO inescapable premis that something which is completely black and completely white at the same time cannot logically exist. The God of Abraham is defined to be infinitely powerful. That in itself is a logical contradiction, so such a God cannot exist. As yourself “Can God create an object which he cannot move?” Whether you answer yes or no to that yes/no question, the conclusion is that God is not all-powerful. There’s your proof. Similar arguments about God’s other “infinite” properties exist to disprove His Existence based on his other defined properties.

    As for the not absolutely logically proven, but definitely proven beyond a reasonable doubt assertion that no god of any kind exists, check out Dr. Victor J. Stenger’s excellent books showing how lack of evidence for an active god disproves (beyond a reasonable doubt) the existence of such a god, and lack of necessity for a creator god makes the hypothesis that there is one, redundant and useless for explaining how the real world works. I specifically recommend “God: The Failed Hypothesis” and “Quantum Gods” for an explanation of how Theist arguments for a creator God based on arguments from Physics and Cosmology fail.

  15. ullrich fischer says:

    Michael, Who gets to decide what is incontrovertible proof? You do. Do you accept the premise that something defined to have logically contradictory properties cannot exist? An object cannot be a cube and a sphere at the same time, right? If so, the God of Abraham cannot exist. Similarly, if you agree that it is unreasonable to assume there is a pink tutu wearing teddy bear out there at the edge of the Solar System, you should also agree that it is unreasonable to assume that a vaguely defined creator God exists.

    As for being closed-minded, I would change my mind in a second if I were confronted with incontrovertible evidence for the existence of a creator God or even for some limited, not logically impossible, Abrahamic meddler God. What would it take to change your mind? Evidently more than all the evidence and logic which has accumulated against your dogma in the 2000+ years over which your dogma has evolved. Ask yourself, who is really closed-minded? Do you believe singing “Blue Suede Shoes” over your morning pancakes turns them into the flesh of Elvis Presley? If not, how do you justify your belief in the equivalent absurdities in your specific religion’s dogma?

  16. Michael says:

    As for the not absolutely logically proven, but definitely proven beyond a reasonable doubt assertion that no god of any kind exists, check out Dr. Victor J. Stenger’s excellent books showing how lack of evidence for an active god disproves (beyond a reasonable doubt) the existence of such a god, and lack of necessity for a creator god makes the hypothesis that there is one, redundant and useless for explaining how the real world works.

    Stenger is a god-of-the-gaps atheist. I don’t find his god-of-the-gaps arguments to be convincing at all. I think they only resonate with those who think like creationists.

  17. Michael says:

    As for being closed-minded, I would change my mind in a second if I were confronted with incontrovertible evidence for the existence of a creator God or even for some limited, not logically impossible, Abrahamic meddler God.

    Do you expect me to accept this on faith or do you have evidence to support this claim?

    What would it take to change your mind?

    First things first. Where would you score yourself on Dawkins 7 point scale? Like Coyne and Dawkins, are you a 6.9?

  18. Owen says:

    Ullrich is right. Michael, would you say we should all believe in and adore Fay the Super-Fairy just because someone somewhere might say she has not been proven conclusively not to exist?

  19. Michael says:

    Ullrich is right. Michael, would you say we should all believe in and adore Fay the Super-Fairy just because someone somewhere might say she has not been proven conclusively not to exist?

    No, what I expect is that if atheists want to invoke the DSM-IV in order to personally attack other humans, that they should meet the burden of showing the DSM-IV says what they say it does. Instead of skipping over the DSM-IV definition, read it. I’m not the one who brought it to the adult table.

    Owen, does it make you feel somehow superior to think of your “opponents” as being infected with viruses that inflict mental illness?

  20. Crude says:

    The God of Abraham is defined to be infinitely powerful. That in itself is a logical contradiction, so such a God cannot exist.

    Defined by who? It certainly can’t be Christians, or Jews. Omnipotence is expressly regarded as not covering logical contradictions, and ‘infinite power’ itself doesn’t lend itself to that conclusion. So, strike one.

    Similarly, if you agree that it is unreasonable to assume there is a pink tutu wearing teddy bear out there at the edge of the Solar System, you should also agree that it is unreasonable to assume that a vaguely defined creator God exists.

    The arguments, evidence and inferences that lead to the belief in a creator God – whether vaguely defined or specifically defined – are of vastly superior quality and number to the arguments, evidence and inferences related to pink tutu wearing teddy bears. Idiots may believe otherwise, of course – but I’m not too concerned what idiots think. Strike two.

    I would change my mind in a second if I were confronted with incontrovertible evidence for the existence of a creator God or even for some limited, not logically impossible, Abrahamic meddler God

    Evidence is only incontrovertible relative to the willingness of an individual to accept it. PZ Myers would deny any and all evidence for God – for him, incontrovertible evidence does not exist. For a person who claims they would, there’s always the possibility (even likelihood) that they’re full of it.

    Strike three.

    Between this and the fact that atheist materialists – not merely irreligious, not agnostics, but atheist materialists specifically – are so small in number even nowadays, it would seem that PeteBog is unwittingly giving an argument for committing atheists under the DSM.

    Now, I’m not saying that Ulrich and Owen should be thrown in an asylum and given therapy until they sincerely believe in God and pray to Him each night. In fact, that sounds kind of monstrous, and I’d oppose it. I am saying that they should seriously consider whether or not they want to play the past atheist game of ‘belief in something contrary to the will of the state/elite means you are literally mentally ill and need treatment’, because if so, it may well be their sexual organs hooked up to the electrical generators.

  21. TFBW says:

    @ullrich fischer: the Bible explicitly denies that God is “infinitely powerful” in the oxymoronic way you use the term. “If we are faithless, he remains faithful. He can’t deny himself.” [2 Tim 2:13, WEB, emphasis added] This gives an explicit example of what God can not do. Elsewhere, it says, “all things are possible with God,” but this should be understood in the context (usually a contrast with what is possible for man), and not pedantically interpreted as entailing logical impossibilities.

    Still, I hardly expect that this is news to you. My response here is a pretty obvious one, and it seems unlikely that you haven’t seen it before. Suffice it to say that you have not attacked anything that most Christians or Jews actually believe, whether or not you think they should believe it on the basis of your analysis. It’s therefore fair to call your argument a straw man and dismiss it accordingly. And, as such, it provides no support for the position that real theists are delusional. Imaginary ones, yes.

    On the other hand, it raises the question as to why you falsely ascribe such beliefs to other people in the first place. It seems to be based on an incorrect inference about external reality — one that you sustain, despite being informed by the people in question that it is not what they believe, which surely constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary. I’d therefore be justified in calling your behaviour delusional if it weren’t for the fact that I ascribe it to your deeply-held Gnu religious beliefs, and religious beliefs get a free pass for some reason.

  22. ullrich fischer says:

    TBFW, right. Whenever something really absurd comes up in the Bible, the stock answer is “it doesn’t really mean that”, “You’re taking it out of context”, “It is only a parable”, etc. Yet when the very same believers are trying to convert gullible people, they do clam that God is all-powerful and they do point to whatever parts of the Bible support whatever argument they are making at the time. I suppose when you want to deny that the Bible supports slavery, you come up with similar excuses, but still, the words are in there, and they are and can be used to support pretty much any horror you wish to excuse. The Bible contradicts itself hundreds of times. The God of the Bible, whichever definition of Him you wish to cherry pick from it, is contradicted if not within your specific choice of verses, or in hundreds of other places within the same book. That is not a straw man. That is based on the actual “holy” text.

  23. Michael says:

    Ullrich,

    You declared that you had “incontrovertible proof” that God did not exist. Synonyms for incontrovertible are indisputable, incontestable, unassailable, beyond dispute, unquestionable, beyond question, unarguable, and undebatable. Since your proof can be argued and debated, it is now clear you have no “incontrovertible proof.” Your declaration has been defeated.

    Now the question remains – do you have evidence that you are open-minded about the existence of God or do you expect us to accept that claim on faith?

  24. TFBW says:

    The God of the Bible, whichever definition of Him you wish to cherry pick from it, is contradicted if not within your specific choice of verses, or in hundreds of other places within the same book.

    Irrelevant. Your claim was that God clearly does not exist because he entails a logical impossibility. I pointed out that theists don’t actually believe that God is “omnipotent” in any sense that entails a self-contradiction. Instead of backing away from your obviously false beliefs, you choose to deflect with some irrelevancies about biblical interpretation. Yes, the Bible can be interpreted almost any way you want to if you force it hard enough: witness your interpretation that it proclaims self-contradictions. That doesn’t change the fact that you firmly believe obvious falsehoods about what theists believe — and then declare them delusional on that basis. The irony is overpowering.

  25. Atheism says:

    “You’re saying that a normal person would change his mind once made aware of the problem of evil, so anyone who remains a theist once aware of that problem is delusional? I detect a hint of question-begging there.”

    It’s no more question begging than observing that someone who genuinely believes that  Sagan’s invisible green dragon is following them is touched in the head. 

    Michael apparently takes incontrovertible in this context to be synonymous with mathematical certainty. But anyone who isn’t a sophist can see that this standard of proof would make all empirical knowledge impossible. What the DSM means by incontrovertible are beliefs which the evidence shows to be obviously false (e.g. the belief that there are no people). 
    It’s obvious that the existence of evil is an obvious disproof of a loving god. The idea of a hell where people are eternally punished for thought crime is an obvious disproof of a loving god. Any educated person who reads the Bible can see that it is full of historical, scientific and moral absurdities.  So there is actually very good ‘incontrovertible’ evidence against Christianity.

  26. Michael says:

    Michael apparently takes incontrovertible in this context to be synonymous with mathematical certainty.

    No. I simply go to Googl, type “incontrovertible,” and pull up the synonyms: indisputable, incontestable, undeniable, irrefutable, unassailable, beyond dispute, unquestionable, beyond question, indubitable, beyond doubt, unarguable, undebatable.

    I’m not sure why this is so hard. Do you insist we all dumb down the definition of “incontrovertible” so you can label religious people as mentally ill?

    What the DSM means by incontrovertible are beliefs which the evidence shows to be obviously false (e.g. the belief that there are no people).

    I see. So it’s “Atheism” who knows that “the DSM means?” Did you help write the DSM-IV?

    It’s obvious that the existence of evil is an obvious disproof of a loving god. The idea of a hell where people are eternally punished for thought crime is an obvious disproof of a loving god. Any educated person who reads the Bible can see that it is full of historical, scientific and moral absurdities. So there is actually very good ‘incontrovertible’ evidence against Christianity.

    This is all obvious to you, Atheism. That is it obvious to you does not necessarily mean it is obvious to everyone else, as you are not the Center of Reality. But since it is so obvious to you that God has been disproved, will you be honest and admit that you are closed-minded about the existence of God?

  27. TFBW says:

    It’s no more question begging than observing that someone who genuinely believes that Sagan’s invisible green dragon is following them is touched in the head.

    It’s no more question-begging than using that analogy is.

  28. Justin says:

    More strawmen from Atheism, lol.

    I prefer the burrito test myself… Can God microwave a burrito so hot that He cannot eat it? If so, He is not omnipotent. If not, He is not omnipotent. CHECKMATE, you delusional theists!!!

  29. Atheism says:

    “I see. So it’s “Atheism” who knows that “the DSM means?” Did you help write the DSM-IV?”

    If you take incontrovertible to be synomous with mathematical certainty then empirical knowledge becomes impossible. So this cannot be the intended meaning of the term in this context. This is obvious to anyone who is not an idiot or a sophist. The authors of the DSM are not idiots or sophists. But it is very likely that you are.

  30. Atheism says:

    “But since it is so obvious to you that God has been disproved, will you be honest and admit that you are closed-minded about the existence of God?”

    Accepting that a belief is false does not entail that you would be willing to change your mind if new evidence comes in.

    For example, I think flat earthism is obviously false. But it is conceivable that somebody could show it to be true. It’s possible. But this possibility does not make flat earthism any less false.

    Nor does it make me ‘close minded’ or ‘dogmatic’ or ‘a fundamentalist’ for thinking that people who believe who in flat earthism are basically stupid.

  31. Atheism says:

    “Accepting that a belief is false does not entail that you would be unwilling to change your mind if new evidence comes in.”

    That’s what I meant to say.

  32. Owen says:

    Michael, you asked: “Owen, does it make you feel somehow superior to think of your “opponents” as being infected with viruses that inflict mental illness?” My feelings here are completely irrelevant. As for Fay the Super-Fairy, if there were an island full of people somewhere who believed in her, would you say they were rational or irrational?

  33. Justin says:

    So, then, “delusional” and what qualifies as deluded is a subjective determination and this whole discussion boils down to whose appeal to ridicule fallacy is more valid. The discussion is thus moot.

    However, it is entertaining.

    Atheists believe that actions are deterministic and we are simply “dancing to our DNA”. Thus, atheists must “pretend” or “act as if” they have free will. Militant Gnu atheism of the variety “Atheism” embraces is therefore the belief that he is bound by the laws of physics to be a catalyst for changing the deterministicaly formed beliefs of other clumps of organic matter… all by arguing against beliefs the other clumps of organic matter do not hold, but which Atheism himself is deterministicaly predestined to believe they hold.

    Either atheism is wrong; or we’re all dancing to our DNA and the laws of physics have an absolutely WICKED sense of humor.

  34. The Deuce says:

    Don’t forget! Today’s atheists who claim their ideological opponents are mentally ill are actually the *complete opposite* of yesterday’s atheists who institutionalized their opponents as mentally ill. Those guys were actually *religious* because [insert bullshit rationalization here].

  35. Justin says:

    The Olde Atheists actually had better arguments.

  36. Its truly ironic that theists, who admit no possibility that their faith could be wrong despite a total lack of evidence, find fault with a scientist who’s honest enough to admit that their exists some small possibility that he could be wrong despite overwhelming evidence.
    And this is supposed to be a point scored on the theist side?
    Hardly.

  37. Michael says:

    Its truly ironic that theists, who admit no possibility that their faith could be wrong despite a total lack of evidence, find fault with a scientist who’s honest enough to admit that their exists some small possibility that he could be wrong despite overwhelming evidence.
    And this is supposed to be a point scored on the theist side?
    Hardly.

    Surprise, surprise. Another atheist who leans heavily on the crutch of stereotype. Newsflash to Bruce – I fully admit my faith could be wrong. Here, let’s make this simple. Take Dawkins 7 point scale. Dawkins and Coyne score themselves as 6.9. How do you score yourself?

  38. Surprise, surprise. If you admit you could be wrong, then you lack faith.
    I would rate myself on Dawkin’s (rather silly) scale as 6.999999.

  39. Michael says:

    Surprise, surprise. If you admit you could be wrong, then you lack faith.

    No, it’s because I know I could be wrong that I have to rely on faith. I admit my faith could be wrong. Will you now admit you were wrong in assuming all theists cannot admit their faith could be wrong?

    I would rate myself on Dawkin’s (rather silly) scale as 6.999999.

    So you are a closed-minded atheist. I’m fascinated by your sense of certainty. What would it take it get you from a 6.99999 to a 6?

  40. I have already mentioned on another thread an example of evidence that would be sufficient for me to accept theological hypothesis.
    Now it is your turn. How would you rate yourself on Dawkins scale? Tell me, Michael, what you believe and why you believe it.

  41. Michael says:

    I have already mentioned on another thread an example of evidence that would be sufficient for me to accept theological hypothesis.

    Pay attention. I did not ask you for an example of evidence that would cause you to become a theist. I asked what it would take to go from a 6.9999 to a 6.

    Now it is your turn. How would you rate yourself on Dawkins scale? Tell me, Michael, what you believe and why you believe it.

    Not so fast. I told you I am fascinated by your sense of certainty.

  42. Telling you what it would take to get me to a 1 is insufficient?
    OK then, to get me to 6 from 6.99999 would take exactly 16.66527775 percent of that. Do the math.
    Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.
    Now, your turn again Michael. Answer my questions: how do you rate yourself on that scale, what do you believe, and why do you believe it.

  43. Michael says:

    Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.

    It’s not a stupid question. You score yourself as a 6.9999 and I am, in essence, asking you what it would take to cause to be a little less certain in your atheistic beliefs. After all, a 6 is still an atheist (and was how Dawkins originally scored himself).

    Look, we have now seen the evidence that you mind is enslaved to stereotypes, you don’t understand what faith is, and that you are closed-minded about this issue. This explains why you are stumped by my question. Rather than use this as an opportunity to learn and grow, you lash out at me as asking a “stupid question.” The question is not stupid at all, as belief change in human beings is usually gradual.

  44. I’m not stumped by your question. I answered it to ten decimal places.
    You are evidently stumped by your own question, since you fear to answer it.

    Your evidence that my mind is a slave to stereotypes is as fanciful as your religious beliefs. Beliefs you must not hold very strongly, since you’ve been asked twice now to share them with me and you’ve yet succeeded in mustering up the courage to do so.
    An atheist directly asks you to share your faith, and you decline. Hmph. Some evangelist you are…

  45. Michael says:

    I’m not stumped by your question. I answered it to ten decimal places.

    You never answered the question by telling us what it would take to move you from a 6.9999 to a 6.

    You are evidently stumped by your own question, since you fear to answer it.

    LOL. I answered it over 12 months ago.

    Your evidence that my mind is a slave to stereotypes is as fanciful as your religious beliefs.

    Not at all. You rolled in here proclaiming:

    Its truly ironic that theists, who admit no possibility that their faith could be wrong despite a total lack of evidence, find fault with a scientist who’s honest enough to admit that their exists some small possibility that he could be wrong despite overwhelming evidence.

    I then informed you:

    Newsflash to Bruce – I fully admit my faith could be wrong.

    Clearly, you came here with a mind shaped by stereotypes.

    Beliefs you must not hold very strongly, since you’ve been asked twice now to share them with me and you’ve yet succeeded in mustering up the courage to do so.

    An atheist directly asks you to share your faith, and you decline. Hmph. Some evangelist you are…

    If there was evidence your brain was capable of processing my answers in an open and fair-minded manner, I’d happily answer. But “answering” a closed-minded, militant atheist is a waste of time.

  46. trev says:

    welcome to the DSM-5 where religious CAN be classified as delusional…Delusions are fixed beliefs that are not amenable to change in light of conflicting evidence. Their content may include a variety of themes (e.g., persecutory, referential, somatic, religious, grandiose)(APA, 2013).

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