#4: Dawkins Admits Nothing Can Persuade Him God Exists

Since the year is winding down, I think I will repost the top 5 most popular blog entries from 2015.  The fourth most popular one was entitled, “Richard Dawkins Admits That Nothing Can Persuade Him God Exists” and was posted on August 31, 2015. I think this was an eye-opener for some, as Dawkins can’t think of anything that he would count as evidence for the existence of God.   This, of course, means that all that talk about be willing to believe as long as someone can come up with some evidence has been dramatic posturing. Anyway, coming in at #4 – 

We have seen that the central claim of New Atheism – “There is no evidence for God” – is equivalent to saying “There are no Gaps.” That is, the evidence that the atheist demands is a Gap – something that cannot be explained by natural laws. Yet the same atheist will insist that the God of the Gaps approach is not a valid way of determining whether God exists. Heads I win, tails you lose.

Of course, don’t make the mistake of thinking that if only you could find a big enough Gap, the New Atheist would have to embrace that as evidence for God. After all, that’s not how it would work with Richard Dawkins, the most famous atheist alive. Dawkins made this clear some time ago in an interview with atheist Peter Boghossian. You can see the demonstration for yourself in the video below. It starts at 12:30 and goes to 15:30. I’ll post a transcript below the fold.

Here is the transcript (with the relevant claims):

Boghossian: What would it take for you to believe in God?

Dawkins: I used to say it would be very simple. It would be the Second Coming of Jesus or a great, big, deep, booming, bass voice saying “I am God.” But I was persuaded, mostly by Steve Zara, who is a regular contributor to my website. He more or less persuaded me that even if there was this booming voice in the Second Coming with clouds of glory, the probable explanation is that it is a hallucination or a conjuring trick by David Copperfield. He made the point that a supernatural explanation for anything is incoherent. It doesn’t add up to an explanation for anything. A non-supernatural Second Coming could be aliens from outer space.

[Peter Boghossian begins to speak and is in full agreement with Dawkins, arguing, for example, that if the stars spelled out a message from God, we would first have to rule out alternative explanations, like an alien trickster culture.]

Dawkins then agrees with Boghossian.

Boghossian then asks him: So that [stars aligned into a message] couldn’t be enough. So what would persuade you?

Dawkins: Well, I’m starting to think nothing would, which, in a way, goes against the grain, because I’ve always paid lip service to the view that a scientist should change his mind when evidence is forthcoming.

As Dawkins says, even if the Second Coming of Christ were to actually occur, Dawkins would not consider even that evidence for God. In his mind, it would be more likely that aliens would be playing a trick. Dawkins has painted himself into a corner with his extreme skepticism. In his mind, God = the supernatural and natural explanations, no matter how vague or incomplete, are always better than explanations that invoke the supernatural. Thus, it is not surprising he effectively admits nothing would persuade him to believe in God. In fact, he even makes a Freudian slip in acknowledging that all along, he has merely been paying “lip service” to the view that “a scientist should change his mind when evidence is forthcoming.” It’s all been an illusion.

As atheist activist PZ Myers once wrote, ” There is no valid god hypothesis, so there can be no god evidence, so let’s stop pretending the believers have a shot at persuading us.”

It is indeed time New Atheists stop pretending they can persuaded with Gaps.

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44 Responses to #4: Dawkins Admits Nothing Can Persuade Him God Exists

  1. GRA says:

    Shadow, thought you might like this site: https://atheistmax.wordpress.com/

    I thought it was rather ironic that it has the same picture mast as your site and it concentrates on religion. it’s basically your site’s “twin.”

  2. Dhay says:

    Not S2L’s twin. This guy emotes all over the place. I distort only a little — his other ‘reasons’ seem to be of much the same type and of much the same level of rationality — when I summarise that when he suddenly, completely and irrevocably decided (“realised”) there was no God, it was because God had allowed the murderer of schoolchildren at Sandy Hook to find a parking spot there.

    Reading on through his posts, it doesn’t improve from there.

  3. Atheist Max says:

    This is what Dawkins said,
    “Well, I’m starting to think nothing would, which, in a way, goes against the grain, because I’ve always paid lip service to the view that a scientist should change his mind when evidence is forthcoming.”

    He is saying the chances of finding evidence of a god are about the same as making Alchemy work – which is about zero.
    He is not refuting the scientific approach or his willingness to consider evidence, but he is speaking to the futility of seeking something for which thousands of years has produced nothing; i.e. a GOD.

    PS:
    Dhay , My problem with God vis-a-vis Sandy Hook Elementary was not only the slaughter but the realization there was a fundamental, immoral flaw in the notion of prayer. In my emotional distress I practiced my religion and sought out my God. In doing so I realized it would be immoral for a god to come to my aid if he could not attend to those children first. The possibility of God’s intercession in my needs (as had been preached to me all my life) had itself become a starkly immoral act.
    A moral God cannot exist under those circumstances.

  4. Atheist Max says:

    Furthermore, I do not claim gods are impossible. Atheism isn’t a claim. It is an opinion.
    Theism is a claim.

    I only say the particular, moral God which I believed in and gave attention to through church and prayer isn’t listening and his existence no longer makes a whiff of sense.

  5. Michael says:

    He is saying the chances of finding evidence of a god are about the same as making Alchemy work – which is about zero.

    Wrong. Pay attention to the question he is answering: “What would it take for you to believe in God?…..So that [stars aligned into a message] couldn’t be enough. So what would persuade you?” He is not answering any question about the chances of finding evidence for God. Afterall, how could he possibly answer that question without first explaining what would count as evidence for God?

    He is not refuting the scientific approach

    Correct. He is simply not engaged in any scientific approach (although he pretends otherwise).

    or his willingness to consider evidence,

    He is too closed-minded to “consider evidence.” After all, he just told the world that all religious beliefs are stupid.

    but he is speaking to the futility of seeking something for which thousands of years has produced nothing; i.e. a GOD.

    Nope. He was stumped by a simple, basic question – What would count as evidence for the existence of God?

  6. Atheist Max says:

    Okay.
    Why don’t you answer the question?
    What would constitute evidence for God?

  7. Atheist Max says:

    Michael,

    Richard Dawkins is missing some evidence of God according to you. Where is this evidence you speak of? Why isn’t it being offered to him?

    And what evidence would prove to you that Allah is the true God? or Vishnu?

    And If you cannot define the God you are trying to prove, how can you expect a scientist to “accept the evidence” when the definition is being rejected by the very person making the claim?
    You want it both ways! You want to define God so that he cannot be defined, yet you are shocked someone would dismiss evidence under those circumstances! Either admit you cannot provide such evidence (which is what Dawkins is trying to say) or provide the definition of the God you are providing evidence for so it can be looked at critically!

  8. Michael says:

    Okay.
    Why don’t you answer the question?
    What would constitute evidence for God?

    Trying to change the topic, eh? The title of this blog entry is “Dawkins Admits Nothing Can Persuade Him God Exists.” Dawkins is the most popular atheist alive and has run around for years making “there is no evidence of God” claims. Thus, it is newsworthy when it turns out nothing would persuade him God exists.

    Richard Dawkins is missing some evidence of God according to you. Where is this evidence you speak of? Why isn’t it being offered to him?

    You are arguing with your shadow here. Can you quote where I said “Richard Dawkins is missing some evidence of God?” I’m merely pointing out that the man who insists there is no evidence for God has no idea what evidence of God might even look like.

    And If you cannot define the God you are trying to prove, how can you expect a scientist to “accept the evidence” when the definition is being rejected by the very person making the claim?

    More shadow boxing. Can you quote the place where I try to prove God? Can you quote where I expect a scientist to “accept the evidence?”

    You want it both ways! You want to define God so that he cannot be defined, yet you are shocked someone would dismiss evidence under those circumstances!

    Now are are becoming delusional. I’m not trying to have it both ways. I’m not defining God nor am I shocked because Dawkins would “dismiss evidence.” I’m simply pointing out that when Dawkins was asked about what he would count as evidence for God, he was stumped. The man demands evidence, yet has no idea what such evidence might even look like.

    Either admit you cannot provide such evidence (which is what Dawkins is trying to say) or provide the definition of the God you are providing evidence for so it can be looked at critically!

    You keep trying to rescue Dawkins by putting words in his mouth. It’s not what he is “trying to say” (as if he needs your help to communicate). It’s what he said. When asked, ““What would it take for you to believe in God?…..So that [stars aligned into a message] couldn’t be enough. So what would persuade you?”, he could not think of an answer.

  9. Atheist Max says:

    I’m not trying to rescue Dawkins or anybody else.

    If God cannot be defined there cannot be evidence to confirm the definition. It is your own wishful thinking to see this as a Dawkins ‘Shocker’.

    I doubt Dawkins is the ‘most popular atheist alive.’ I can think of a hundred more popular living Atheists than Dawkins:

    Bill Gates
    Warren Buffett
    Barney Frank
    The Dalai Llama
    James Randi
    Stephen Hawking
    Alan Alda
    Dave Barry
    Steve Wozniak
    Noam Chomsky
    Ray Romano
    Billy Joel
    Steven Pinker
    Bill Nye
    Matt Dillahunty
    William Shatner
    Helen Mirren
    Gene Wilder
    Julia Sweeney
    Diane Keaton
    Martin Amis
    Penn and Teller
    Arthur Miller
    Barry Manilow
    Adam Savage
    Dan Dennett
    Stephen Frye
    Larry King
    Lawrence Kraus
    Mick Jagger
    Kiera Knightly
    Brad Pitt
    Neil deGrasse Tyson – “I’m agnostic but I don’t believe in a god” (definition of Atheist)

    And most of those Atheists would agree with Dawkins – as would most Theists:
    If one refuses to define what one means by “God” it is logically impossible to claim a piece of evidence confirms its existence. Therefor no evidence of God exists.

    If believers would be willing to define God, Dawkins is willing to examine the evidence for it – he has said this on hundreds of occasions.

  10. Michael says:

    I’m not trying to rescue Dawkins or anybody else.

    Sure you are. That’s why you are trying to spin his words to make it sound like he didn’t mean what he meant.

    If God cannot be defined there cannot be evidence to confirm the definition. It is your own wishful thinking to see this as a Dawkins ‘Shocker’.

    Did you notice that when Dawkins was asked, “What would it take for you to believe in God?…..So that [stars aligned into a message] couldn’t be enough. So what would persuade you?” he did not ask Boghossian to define God? Look, you can argue “God is not defined, thus a meaningless concept” OR “there is no evidence for God.” You can’t argue both, since the “no evidence” claim assumes some definition.

    As for your list, Dawkins is more famous than Krauss or Pinker. Barry Manilow is more famous than Dawkins, but Manilow is not famous for being an atheist (in fact, I’ll bet most people did not even know that).

    I’m simply pointing out that when Dawkins was asked about what he would count as evidence for God, he was stumped. The man demands evidence, yet has no idea what such evidence might even look like.

  11. Kevin says:

    You say “atheism is not a claim.” I’ve had many atheists say “There is no god.” That is a claim.

    So, is saying “there is no god” not a claim?

  12. Atheist Max says:

    Kevin,

    Atheism means “I do not believe a God exists.” That is all it means.
    It is not a claim. It is an opinion.

    We Atheists are completely aware that some kind of God may exist someplace in the universe – I have no special information one way or the other. That God may even be watching me as I type this. There may be more than one god – perhaps several thousand gods, as the Hindus say.
    God may be a manifestation of everything – or he might be the negation of everything. He might intercede in our lives or he might not. I can’t know.
    I have no problem speculating on the question of gods. Atheists don’t close the door.

    But if you tell me you know which god is the real one, I don’t see how you can claim it. What tells you this information?
    You have every right to believe it. But if you have no reason for your beliefs I will shrug it off.

    I may say, in casual conversation, “There is no god” – but if pressed I will gladly clarify that
    “I don’t know if a god exists, but I don’t believe one does.”

  13. Atheist Max says:

    “when Dawkins was asked about what he would count as evidence for God, he was stumped. The man demands evidence, yet has no idea what such evidence might even look like.”

    You haven’t answered that question, either. Are you stumped, too?
    I’m an Atheist and I haven’t been able to figure out what sort of evidence would prove god either. If God exists, he would certainly know how to provide me with evidence (if he wanted to) which would prove his existence. God would know what I need to see.

    Look – you win. I’m not trying to defend Dawkins. Call Dawkins ignorant on religious matters – fine.
    But don’t discredit his science! His scientific record and his books on genetics are unimpeachable.

    I’m trying to show you that Dawkins’ point is valid. One can be open to evidence of a God (as I am) without having the foggiest idea of what such evidence would look like!

    Consider some possible evidence:
    1. Suppose God’s voice booms from the sky over New York City and speaks to everyone in a language everyone could understand. It would need to be investigated just to be sure we were not being fooled by some trickster. Any evidence which was measurable MIGHT refute itself as not being supernatural (outside of nature) since “Supernatural” means it isn’t measurable by natural means. It would not be conclusive as evidence of a god but instead it might be evidence of certain remarkable technology as yet unfamiliar to us.

    2. Suppose god appears as a man who heals everyone he touches – and he brings them to perfect health. What is the mechanism to make this healing work? Does it work even if the man doesn’t actually touch the sick person? What are the limits to this person’s power? Can he cure death? Can he bring people to health more than once? If there are limits it would not be conclusive evidence of a god since this also might be a new technology – perhaps an alien technology we have never seen before.

    It is not easy to come up with what sort of evidence would fundamentally prove God. Our own limitations as humans preclude us from witnessing supernatural things.

  14. TFBW says:

    Before deciding to engage Atheist Max in discussion, I recommend that you glance at his blog, just to get a feel for his overall stance on the subject and the rigour of his arguments. I scanned the front page until I reached a post which started, “below is a short excerpt from Richard Carrier’s fascinating and exhaustively researched book, The Historicity of Jesus,” at which point I felt that I’d narrowed it down sufficiently.

  15. Michael says:

    You haven’t answered that question, either. Are you stumped, too?

    Nope. But I’m not running around demanding to know why atheists won’t accept the evidence for God. Any talk of evidence would first have to explore the subjective dimension to evidence.

    I’m an Atheist and I haven’t been able to figure out what sort of evidence would prove god either.

    Who said anything about proof? The question asked was, What would it take for you to believe in God?” I simply ask what would merely count as evidence for God. Better yet, what would cause you to merely suspect God exists? Are there any data that might function as a mere clue?

    If God exists, he would certainly know how to provide me with evidence (if he wanted to) which would prove his existence. God would know what I need to see.

    This is the Argument From Narcissism. Reality does not revolve around you. What’s more, what makes you think God is so concerned about whether or not you believe He exists?

    Look – you win. I’m not trying to defend Dawkins. Call Dawkins ignorant on religious matters – fine.

    But don’t discredit his science! His scientific record and his books on genetics are unimpeachable.

    Dawkins is the one confusing things by misleading the public into thinking science has anything to say about the existence of God.

    I’m trying to show you that Dawkins’ point is valid. One can be open to evidence of a God (as I am) without having the foggiest idea of what such evidence would look like!

    How silly. If you don’t have the foggiest idea of what such evidence would look like, how can you be sure there is no such evidence?

    Consider some possible evidence:

    So you were not serious in demanding definitions first above.

    1. Suppose God’s voice booms from the sky over New York City and speaks to everyone in a language everyone could understand. It would need to be investigated just to be sure we were not being fooled by some trickster. Any evidence which was measurable MIGHT refute itself as not being supernatural (outside of nature) since “Supernatural” means it isn’t measurable by natural means. It would not be conclusive as evidence of a god but instead it might be evidence of certain remarkable technology as yet unfamiliar to us.

    So, as Dawkins says, this would not be evidence for God because aliens could be behind it. Are you saying we need to find something that could not possibly be explained by natural causes?

    2. Suppose god appears as a man who heals everyone he touches – and he brings them to perfect health. What is the mechanism to make this healing work? Does it work even if the man doesn’t actually touch the sick person? What are the limits to this person’s power? Can he cure death? Can he bring people to health more than once? If there are limits it would not be conclusive evidence of a god since this also might be a new technology – perhaps an alien technology we have never seen before.

    Why would any of this be considered evidence for God?

  16. Atheist Max says:

    TFBW,

    I’m interested in Richard Carrier’s arguments. But I’m also interested in C.S. Lewis and I’ve read everything on these subjects. They are interesting.

    But please do not assume and interested, well-read person is unworthy of debate.

  17. Atheist Max says:

    Michael,

    “Better yet, what would cause you to merely suspect God exists? Are there any data that might function as a mere clue?”

    I spent 49 years as a devout believer in Jesus Christ. Prayed every day. Raised my two kids in the church and loved Jesus as much as any Christian you will ever meet. I did not merely ‘suspect’ God existed – I defended God’s existence as a certainty. Since leaving religion (or, as it left me) 3 years ago I have examined this question deeply.

    You ask, what might cause me to suspect God exists? Is there any data that might be a clue?

    1. Love is incredibly powerful – it feels almost otherworldly in its fullness. My love of my children was a sort of revelation, which as a Christian made a lot of sense at the time. I thought, “this love I have for my child, it must be the same sort of love God the Father must have had for us when humans when we emerged into existence.” Though it was not proof of God, I felt I had a new insight into what God’s love was all about. It validated the Biblical idea of God’s love – His desire for us and His protection of us.

    2. The deep longing to thank someone for life. Life is so amazing, it often feels as though we got something for free just to be alive. Each day is full of beauty and challenges. It seems innate to many people to want to reach out to something and say “Thank you”. This is innate longing was a validation which seemed to prove a God must exist – for as the lilies of the valley are provided for, so is the longing in the heart.

    3. The sense of eternity. Death seems impossible somehow. We humans are clearly unable to consider the possibility of death and as I said before, love feels strong enough to survive death. The idea that something is eternal in the human spirit was compelling to me.

    But since my perspective on these matters has changed, I feel unconnected to any such arguments today. I understand why these feelings exist and why they are almost universal to all people and cultures. Love, longing and eternity are no longer evidence for a God’s possible existence. I would have to look elsewhere – even leave it up to god to show me.

    And as for your comment about “narcissistic” – what exactly do you think prayer is?

    You asked, “how can you be sure there is no such evidence?”

    I’m NOT. I have no clue what it would look like! It is like you are asking me to find the color GmQ!I*#6TR! I wouldn’t know where to start!

    Since you do apparently believe a god exists why don’t you explain YOUR evidence?

  18. TFBW says:

    @Atheist Max:

    … please do not assume and interested, well-read person is unworthy of debate.

    I didn’t say or mean to imply that you are unworthy of debate. I just wanted everyone to have some idea of the kind of debate they would be getting into, if they chose to engage. No point letting good data go to waste by ignoring it. For my part, I’m happy to let Michael do the work in this case. He has a great knack for maintaining focus, and I think that’s going to be a valuable asset in this context.

  19. Michael says:

    But since my perspective on these matters has changed, I feel unconnected to any such arguments today.

    Very good. So you can see how one’s perspective defines whether or not data exist as evidence. So unless we have the same perspective, how much sense does it make to demand evidence?

    In your case, the things that once caused you to be certain that God exists no longer can exist even as mere clues. Something caused a radical gestalt shift for you. It’s hard for me to empathize because I don’t have, and have never had, such a sense of certainty. Certainty has never been important to me.

    I understand why these feelings exist and why they are almost universal to all people and cultures. Love, longing and eternity are no longer evidence for a God’s possible existence. I would have to look elsewhere – even leave it up to god to show me.

    So your new perspective allows you to interpret these data differently. See how it works? But it’s worse than that if you ask me. I don’t think those feelings you speak of are anywhere near as universal as you think. What I have found to be universal are things like selfishness, the need to control, and the need to come out on top. And much of this is amplified by scores and scores of people living in either the past or the moment.

    And as for your comment about “narcissistic” – what exactly do you think prayer is?

    Didn’t you ever study the Lord’s prayer? Jesus was clearly teaching us how to pray. And I don’t see anything there about meeting my emotional and psychological needs.

    You asked, “how can you be sure there is no such evidence?”

    I’m NOT. I have no clue what it would look like! It is like you are asking me to find the color GmQ!I*#6TR! I wouldn’t know where to start!

    Okay, here is where you go completely off topic. This blog entry was not about you. It was about Dawkins and his followers who constantly preach there is no evidence for God and mock people for believing in God. It’s one of the most common talking points of the New Atheist movement. In fact, just today Dawkins tweeted that all religious belief is stupid. And his army of fans retweeted his proclamation. Don’t make the mistake of trying to defend Dawkins by importing your idiosyncratic views into his mouth. Instead, you should acknowledge I am correct in pointing out a fatal flaw in Dawkins’ posture and then distance yourself from him.

    Since you do apparently believe a god exists why don’t you explain YOUR evidence?

    I told you – we would have to first reach agreement about the subjective dimension to evidence. But before getting to even that, you’d have to agree that my blog entry about Dawkins is spot on accurate. Otherwise, you’d just be changing the topic.

  20. Atheist Max says:

    “And I don’t see anything there about meeting my emotional and psychological needs.”
    Excuse me?
    Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive…”
    That sounds like a self-selected group of very self-interested people with emotional and psychological needs.

    you should acknowledge I am correct in pointing out a fatal flaw in Dawkins’ posture and then distance yourself from him.
    I’d be glad to, except that I am not sure we have settled this. Dawkins is wrong to say he rejects evidence. But I think it is fair to examine why he says it and what he is driving at. You should acknowledge he is right about the extraordinary difficulty in finding any evidence for something which refuses to be defined and is partly defined as something for which there are no parameters.

    This blog entry was not about you.
    Of course it isn’t. I’m merely trying to illustrate the problem with your argument.

    Certainty has never been important to me.
    Do you not read the things you write? You are so certain Dawkins is wrong you cannot consider the possibility he may have a good point despite his terseness.

    Dawkins and his followers who constantly preach there is no evidence for God and mock people for believing in God.
    I don’t know what you mean by followers. There is plenty of good reason to mock an absurd position which states:
    “You are a fool to expect evidence for God and yet a worse fool to deny evidence exists.”

    Dawkins should have made your life easier by simply saying he would be glad to accept evidence if it emerged (Though religious people will never submit to evidence or the lack thereof) But you would have lost his wise insight that such evidence would be poor by definition.

  21. Atheist Max says:

    Michael,

    “So unless we have the same perspective, how much sense does it make to demand evidence?”

    It makes plenty of sense to demand evidence no matter what the claim is. I have an advantage as I have seen religion from within and without and can argue both ways. But this does not mean truth is arbitrary.

    Atheist Max’s Believer’s Lament:
    “You are a fool to expect evidence for God and yet a worse fool to deny evidence exists.”

    Yes, such a position should be mocked. In this way, The New Atheism is no different from the old Atheism of Robert Green Ingersoll and the Freethinking nation in the 1880s when Ingersoll said, “The preacher knows that I know that he does not know.”

    So Dawkins may be saying (paraphrasing) “Look, you don’t know, and i don’t know so don’t pretend you care about evidence when that is the one thing you won’t accept anyway.”

    I’m happy to believe in a God again (if it could reasonably be arranged) I’m not keen to the idea of my eventual physical annihilation. But if being dishonest is how we get to believe, I’ll have to pass.

  22. Doug says:

    I find it fascinating how often the atheists I run into invoke “honesty” as a cornerstone of their position (viz.

    But if being dishonest is how we get to believe, I’ll have to pass

    )
    Atheist Max: thank you (I mean it sincerely) for being honest enough to acknowledge that love, gratitude and a sense of eternity represent honest grounds for considering God. In science, when we are open to the data leading us in the direction of a certain hypothesis, it is often remarkable how much more evidence we then encounter. On the other hand, if we discount an hypothesis (however correct), it usually involves a discounting of that “initial evidence”.

    But more fundamentally, the invocation of “honesty” in one’s dealings with God strikes me as a category error. I God in the same way that I feel music and love my wife. I don’t God in the same way that I know my phone number or the principles of my scientific research. Sure: “honesty” can come into play with both creative and interpersonal endeavors… but when it does, it usually signals that something is broken.

  23. Doug says:

    apologies: my “markup” failed above… it should read:
    “I {verb} God in the same way that I feel music and love my wife. I don’t {verb} God in the same way that I know my phone number of the principles of my scientific research.”

  24. Michael says:

    It makes plenty of sense to demand evidence no matter what the claim is.

    Wow. I see you did not answer my question – So unless we have the same perspective, how much sense does it make to demand evidence?” You yourself just provided a nice example where the same data are viewed differently. You once viewed those data as something that delivered certainty about theism and now you don’t even consider them as clues. Have the data changed? Has the world changed? Nope. You and your perspective changed. You said it yourself.

    I have an advantage as I have seen religion from within and without and can argue both ways.

    You have no such advantage. I have also seen religion from within and without and can argue both ways. In fact, I have the advantage of once being an atheist without having my head clouded by the anti-religious fever of New Atheist propaganda.

    But this does not mean truth is arbitrary.

    I agree that truth is not arbitrary. But the ability to know truth is clouded by all sorts of things.

    Atheist Max’s Believer’s Lament:
    “You are a fool to expect evidence for God and yet a worse fool to deny evidence exists.”

    Did someone say this? Or is that you just trying to spin the world around you?

    Yes, such a position should be mocked.

    Are you making something up in order to mock it?

    In this way, The New Atheism is no different from the old Atheism of Robert Green Ingersoll and the Freethinking nation in the 1880s when Ingersoll said, “The preacher knows that I know that he does not know.”

    So are you a New Atheist?

    So Dawkins may be saying (paraphrasing) “Look, you don’t know, and i don’t know so don’t pretend you care about evidence when that is the one thing you won’t accept anyway.”

    Why is it so important to you to defend Dawkins? Is he your hero? You keep trying to translate his words as if you are the one with the superior ability to communicate. Yet Dawkins is the one with the rep for being an expert communicator. I think we need to go with his words, not your translation. Dawkins was answering Boghossian’s question – ” “What would it take for you to believe in God?…..So that [stars aligned into a message] couldn’t be enough. So what would persuade you?” Dawkins answer: “Well, I’m starting to think nothing would, which, in a way, goes against the grain, because I’ve always paid lip service to the view that a scientist should change his mind when evidence is forthcoming.”
    Dawkins is the one who pretends he cares about evidence and even commits a Freudian slip about paying mere “lip service” to the need for evidence. Yet the man can’t even think of anything that could possibly count as evidence for God.

    I’m happy to believe in a God again (if it could reasonably be arranged) I’m not keen to the idea of my eventual physical annihilation. But if being dishonest is how we get to believe, I’ll have to pass.

    Why? You dishonestly twist the words of others and dishonestly put words in my mouth. And now you want me to believe, on faith, that you would be “happy to believe in God again?” It seems to me you are quite happy with your new found room to be dishonest. Look, if you are going to demand evidence from others, you should be willing to oblige such demands yourself. Can you provide evidence that you are sincere in being “happy to believe in God again?”

    Excuse me?
    “Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive…”

    That sounds like a self-selected group of very self-interested people with emotional and psychological needs.

    Wow. You are deeply confused. I see nothing in there about emotional and psychological needs. I see an acknowledgment that my existence is owed to God. I see an acknowledgment of the pain and suffering that I cause. I see a commitment to forgive others who cause me pain and suffering, rather than fulfill the emotional and psychological need for payback. And then there is the rest of the prayer you so conveniently cut out.

    Your confused understanding is actually telling me something about you. It sounds to me like your Christian faith was rooted in emotion and social interaction. You “loved Jesus” and cite emotional evidence for your belief. And now you think the Lord’s prayer is about meeting emotional needs. It makes me wonder if emotion played a big part of your transition to atheism (which also comes across as emotional). Did you suffer some form of emotional distress and God did not fix it? Your emotional needs were not met, so you came to the conclusion that God, who is supposed to meet those emotional needs, does not exist?

    I’d be glad to, except that I am not sure we have settled this. Dawkins is wrong to say he rejects evidence. But I think it is fair to examine why he says it and what he is driving at.

    There you go twisting his words again. Dawkins did not say he rejects evidence. He couldn’t think of anything that would count as evidence. He says he used to think the Second Coming of Christ would be evidence, but now thinks it better to explain such a thing in naturalistic terms. He finds himself in the position where nothing would count as evidence for God.

    You should acknowledge he is right about the extraordinary difficulty in finding any evidence for something which refuses to be defined and is partly defined as something for which there are no parameters.

    Did you notice that when Dawkins was asked, “What would it take for you to believe in God?…..So that [stars aligned into a message] couldn’t be enough. So what would persuade you?” he did not ask Boghossian to define God? Look, you can argue “God is not defined, thus a meaningless concept” OR “there is no evidence for God.” You can’t argue both, since the “no evidence” claim assumes some definition.

    Of course it isn’t. I’m merely trying to illustrate the problem with your argument.

    You have done no such thing. My “argument” is to simply point out that when clearly asked by a very sympathetic interviewer, Dawkins could not think of one thing that would count as evidence for God. Your “illustration” is you insisting, “Maybe he meant this, no, maybe he meant that. Yeah, that’s what he meant. Hold on, maybe he meant something else.” You are the one who seems to have the problem with what he actually said.

    Do you not read the things you write? You are so certain Dawkins is wrong you cannot consider the possibility he may have a good point despite his terseness.

    First, there was nothing terse about his rambling reply that went on for about 3 minutes.

    Second, I should clarify that when it comes to big issues, metaphysical issues, certainty is not important to me. That does not mean none of the little things in life can’t be obvious. It’s basic reading/listening comprehension skills that tell me Dawkins could not come up with one thing that he would count as evidence for God. Can you tell me what he would count as evidence for God?

    I don’t know what you mean by followers
    .
    People who follow him, buy his books, defend him at all costs. The evidence suggests you as one possible candidate.

    There is plenty of good reason to mock an absurd position which states:
    “You are a fool to expect evidence for God and yet a worse fool to deny evidence exists.”

    Mocking positions you put in other people’s mouth, eh? More evidence you are a follower of Dawkins.

    Dawkins should have made your life easier by simply saying he would be glad to accept evidence if it emerged (Though religious people will never submit to evidence or the lack thereof).

    But since he doesn’t know what it even might look like, how would he know it if it emerged?

    But you would have lost his wise insight that such evidence would be poor by definition.

    Dawkins did not make the subjective “good vs. poor” evidence claim. He simply could not think of anything that would count as evidence.

  25. Atheist Max says:

    MICHAEL,

    “You and your perspective changed. You said it yourself.”
    Yup. Upon discovering the Emperor was wearing no clothes he was shocked and embarrassed for himself. But he had a clearer picture of his predicament.

    I have the advantage of once being an atheist without having my head clouded by the anti-religious fever of New Atheist propaganda.
    Tell me why you were an Atheist before and why you believe in Jesus Christ now. What propaganda about Jesus was so compelling?

    So are you a New Atheist?
    I have no belief in God. That means I am Atheist.
    After discovering I had lost belief in God I looked at the religious commands and expectations placed on believers and began to question whether they might still be good beliefs even if a god did not exist. That led me to more questions.
    What does “new” Atheist mean?

    Why is it so important to you to defend Dawkins? Is he your hero?
    I give a damn for Dawkins. But I thought his point (which you refuse to engage about) was a valid one. I don’t care much for President Nixon either – but his point about opening China to the world has proven to be valid. I was focused on Dawkins argument – not me and not Dawkins. You didn’t address his point at all.

    “Dawkins is the one with the rep for being an expert communicator.”
    Dawkins has expertise in only two areas that I know about; biology and neurology. Are you against biology or neurology? Why would you think he is a good communicator?

    “….Yet the man can’t even think of anything that could possibly count as evidence for God.”
    And neither can I – and neither can you. What is your point?

    “It seems to me you are quite happy with your new found room to be dishonest.”
    Name something I said which was dishonest.

    I see nothing in there about emotional and psychological needs.
    Prayer is selfish. It is an ancient tribal plea asking for favors: “Give ME..” “Forgive US..” “Grant ME..”
    Shame on you.

    “I see an acknowledgment that my existence is owed to God.”
    That is guesswork. Nothing more than speculation. You don’t know if you were made by one God or two Gods or 300 gods or 1200 gods or 3,000,000 gods – or NO gods.
    You are making up your one God in your mind and trying to con me that it exists. If not, prove it.

    “I see an acknowledgment of the pain and suffering that I cause.”
    Oh really? I notice you also see your incredibly selfish (and free) ‘get out of jail card’ too. That is what the prayer is really all about – imagining yourself pure again without a whiff of evidence it can be arranged.

    “I see a commitment to forgive others who cause me pain and suffering rather than fulfill the emotional and psychological need for payback.”
    You are kidding yourself and it is shamefully transparent. Your emotional need is to feel superior and righteous – and you succeed without exacting physical revenge. Instead, you simply elevate yourself above those who ticked you off and claim yourself pious. That is a Freudian delusion of the highest order.

    “And then there is the rest of the prayer you so conveniently cut out.”
    The Lord’s Prayer is fatuous nonsense. “Lead us not into temptation” is a depraved idea, it is the selfish notion that you are not responsible for your crimes, but that a hidden hand is partly to blame – perhaps even God himself who wanted you to commit a wrong. It is immoral hogwash.

    Your confused understanding is actually telling me something about you.
    And your unlettered, uneducated and simplistic views about religion and prayer tell me a lot you as a person who has no self-awareness.

    It sounds to me like your Christian faith was rooted in emotion and social interaction.
    You again miss the insights. Emotion is the only argument for God. Nothing else is remotely valid.

    You “loved Jesus” and cite emotional evidence for your belief.
    Love is an emotion. Are you denying this? Unlike you, I took Jesus into my life “To Love and Serve the Lord.”
    This is an emotional argument and nothing more. The Lord’s Prayer is cloying, emotional piece of nonsense – and yet you defend it – while telling me I’m the emotional one? Nonsense.

    …. makes me wonder if emotion played a big part of your transition to atheism (which also comes across as emotional).
    I pointed out the turning point was discovering the IMMORALITY of God’s promise to aid the afflicted – not some unmet need of mine. Try to read with care if you can manage it.

    “Your emotional needs were not met, so you came to the conclusion that God, who is supposed to meet those emotional needs, does not exist?”
    I REPEAT – The immorality of God’s promise is what convinced me Yahweh was intellectually impossible. Emotion is your fetishized little straw man, apparently. You have worn it out.

    “Dawkins…couldn’t think of anything that would count as evidence.”
    And neither can you. So what?

    “Did you notice that when Dawkins was asked…”
    Yes I watched it. So what? Why not try to WOW HIM with your amazing evidence then? Oh, cuz you don’t have any either. What tedium!

    “Dawkins could not think of one thing that would count as evidence for God.”
    And neither can you. And neither can I. Which is why there are Atheists who simply can’t believe in this god.

    “It’s basic reading/listening comprehension skills that tell me Dawkins could not come up with one thing that he would count as evidence for God.”
    YET I notice you can’t come up with any evidence either!

    “Followers are…People who follow him, buy his books, defend him at all costs.”
    Oh for Christ sake! Dawkins is an opinionated biologist. So what?
    Are you “a follower” of Einstein just because you agree with the theory of Relativity? Are you a ‘follower’ of Jonas Salk because he cured Polio? Are you a follower of Mick Jagger because you like the song, “Can’t get no Satisfaction” ?
    For crying out loud. How ridiculous!
    Furthermore, you are the true follower here, not me – You follow a legendary man named Jesus who even the gospels admit was a liar, a theif and a self proclaimed instigator of mass murder: “Bring to me those enemies of mine and execute them in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)
    I follow evidence wherever it leads, not spokesmen.

    “Mocking positions you put in other people’s mouth, eh? More evidence you are a follower of Dawkins.”
    The TWO purposes of your entire blog entry about Dawkins are to mock him for saying evidence for God is pointless. And then to mock him again for expecting such evidence.
    Read what you write for a change.

    “But since he doesn’t know what it even might look like, how would he know it if it emerged?”
    And in this respect he is exactly like you – he is not interested in evidence for God. Why should he be? Believers have refused to provide any. There is absolutely no reason to believe a god exists.
    What is your problem?

    “Dawkins….He simply could not think of anything that would count as evidence.
    For the 1000th time – NEITHER CAN YOU! and neither can I!
    There is no evidence for God because no evidence (APPARENTLY) is possible!

  26. Michael says:

    What does “new” Atheist mean?

    Assuming you are sincere (a very risky assumption), I don’t have the time to spoon-feed you. Try something called “Google.”

    I give a damn for Dawkins. But I thought his point (which you refuse to engage about) was a valid one.

    His “point” was that he could not answer the question; he could not think of a single thing that would count as evidence for God. This, of course, renders his “there is no evidence for God” as empty rhetoric. This has been explained to you.

    Dawkins has expertise in only two areas that I know about; biology and neurology. Are you against biology or neurology?

    Wrong. The man has no expertise in neurology. I think you have confused him claims about another one of your heroes.

    Why would you think he is a good communicator?

    Because that is what he is famous for. Writing pop science books.

    “….Yet the man can’t even think of anything that could possibly count as evidence for God.”
    And neither can I – and neither can you. What is your point?

    Yes, neither can you. So your atheism depends on you hiding the goalposts. Your position boils down to this: “I have no idea what evidence for God would even look like. I just know there isn’t any!!” I think TFBW was right about having a discussion with you. 😉

    Name something I said which was dishonest.

    You wrote: “Richard Dawkins is missing some evidence of God according to you. Where is this evidence you speak of?”

    I never claimed Dawkins was missing some evidence. You dishonestly put words in my mouth. I asked you: Can you quote where I said “Richard Dawkins is missing some evidence of God?” You ignored my question.

    Another example. You asserted: “And If you cannot define the God you are trying to prove, how can you expect a scientist to “accept the evidence” when the definition is being rejected by the very person making the claim?”

    So I asked, ” Can you quote the place where I try to prove God? Can you quote where I expect a scientist to “accept the evidence?” No response from you.

    It’s dishonest to put words in my mouth and disrespectful to ignore my questions. Since I don’t have time for that type of behavior, it’s bye-bye time for you. Which leaves us with one last parting challenge. In a couple of days, it will be very easy for me to forget you and your arguments because they posed no challenge to me. Dime a dozen. Will you be able to say the same? 😉

  27. Atheist Max says:

    Michael,

    “look on google”
    Thanks. “New Atheism” is a tedious jargon; a catch phrase for people think Islam is as dangerous as Christianity once was 100 years ago. Is that you?

    “Because that is what he is famous for.”
    So Justin Bieber and the Kardashians are brilliant because that is what they are famous for?

    “Writing pop science books.”
    “The Selfish Gene” and “The Magic of Reality” are excellent books. You have not read them because you closed your mind – the same crime you accuse Dawkins of doing. You are no better than Dawkins in that case.

    You say, “I have no idea what evidence for God would even look like. I just know there isn’t any!!”
    There isn’t any evidence from you.

    “….your arguments…posed no challenge to me. Dime a dozen. Will you be able to say the same?”
    Are you 12 years old?
    Seriously.

    Jesus said, “Bring to me those enemies of mine and execute them in front of me” (luke 19:27) and millions of innocent people have been slaughtered. Mohammed said similar things.
    I care about what is true. You don’t. That is something you have to live with.

    Shame on you. Your parents should be arrested for indoctrinating such fear in you.

  28. Kevin says:

    “Emotion is the only argument for God.”

    That any thinking human can actually believe this is sad.

  29. Michael says:

    Thought I’d let AtheistMax have the last word. Notice he doesn’t address the dishonest tactics he uses and ends with saying my parents should be in jail.

  30. Kevin says:

    Also has no idea about the context and purpose of Luke 19:27.

  31. Doug says:

    “Lead us not into temptation” is a depraved idea… It is immoral hogwash.

    Black is white. Bad is good. Lies are truth. Chaos is order. Behold the paragon of moral clarity!

  32. Dhay says:

    Dhay > This guy emotes all over the place. I distort only a little — his other ‘reasons’ seem to be of much the same type and of much the same level of rationality — when I summarise that when he suddenly, completely and irrevocably decided (“realised”) there was no God, it was because God had allowed the murderer of schoolchildren at Sandy Hook to find a parking spot there.

    I think there was a de facto denial of my summary from Atheist Max, but if he doesn’t want people to come to the same conclusion as I have, he’s going to have to re-write the relevant blog post.

    Dhay Reading on through his posts, it doesn’t improve from there.

    I had refrained from causing a diversion from the post’s main issue, but feel free now to point out to anyone who’s interested a few things I had spotted about Atheist Max’s website.

    As TFBW correctly points out Atheist Max is a Jesus Myther. Anyone who cannot understand the absurdity of that position should read through the Labarum website posts, linked at top right. Exploring Our Matrix, also linked, often covers the same ground.

    Atheist Max’s “How We Know Jesus Stole His Sermon” post claims that “historians have always known this sermon [the Sermon on the Mount, or the Beatitudes] amounts to little more than a watered down version of sayings well known from ancient Sanskrit and Hinduism. Much of it sounds exactly like the Dharma a cluster of primitive sayings which pre-dates Jesus by at least 300 years.” Ah, historians have always known, eh; so which ones? — what’s the source or sources for this claim? — but Atheist Max does not tell us; and this is probably because Atheist Max himself does not know — almost certainly plagiarised the text on both sides of the comparison from from the 25 December 2011 “The Beatitudes of Lord Jesus and Lord Buddha” post on the Great Middle Way website, which it matches word for word.

    Atheist Max’s website is peppered with Bible quotes, and he has made great show above of what a keen Christian he was, yet one of the supposed beatitudes which Atheist Max quotes is “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see Truth.” That’s a Buddhist-flavoured eisegesis, I’d say, of Matthew 5:8; what it very recognisably isn’t — does Atheist Max actually know his Bible — is a quotation from any Bible translation that I know of (see https://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Matthew%205:8 for a comparison of different renderings of this verse); nor is it in the Catholic Jerusalem Bible, which would show up via Google in the online Missal readings. Only a Buddhist (or possibly a Gnostic) would give credence to the idea that Jesus would have said “see Truth”. Atheist Max, then, is either shoddily ignorant of one of the most familiar and most-quoted parts of the Bible, or willfully deceptive.

    We’ve seen dodgy eisegesis of the Lord’s Prayer above — now we see dodgy text. And not just this little bit: Atheist Max’s posts are peppered with apparent quotations in quotation marks which are obviously Atheist Max’s idea of a summary or paraphrase or eisegesis of the original; what’s in quotation marks should be a quotation, but very often plainly isn’t.

    Links provided by Atheist Max point not to BibleHub or to BibleGateway (OK, once, but then without credibly supporting the rather vague and vacuous claim it was supposed to evidence) but instead to himself; and once to a The Independent newspaper article on Islam; and more recently to a string of YouTube videos.

    Then there’s many quotations which, like the claimed Matthew 5:8 beatitude, look sort of right, but which aren’t: Atheist Max gives book, chapter and verse(s) but not the Bible translation version; when I go looking to see if Atheist Max’s source uses a literal translation philosophy, and what the other translations say, I generally find I cannot find the text he “reproduces” anywhere among them.

    One, but certainly not the only example is on Atheist Max’s “Riddles for Believers” page, where he claims that 1 Corinthians 6:10 says that “All drunkards go to hell.” [Quotation marks original.] No translation (see https://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/1%20Corinthians%206:10) says that.

    So it looks like Atheist Max is frequently using unidentified (and not readily identifiable) dubious translations, is supplying his own dodgy summary or paraphrase of how he thinks a passage should be translated, or is deliberately deceptive.

  33. TFBW says:

    It’s not that he’s a “Jesus Myther” as such. On scanning his site, I noted that there was a common thread to the posts: that is, he repeats anything and everything which is anti-Christian, uncritically. In fact, “uncritically” doesn’t do it justice: he repeats anything and everything which is anti-Christian as though it were unassailable fact. By the time I got to the post where he describes Richard Carrier as “exhaustively researched”, I figured I had sufficient confirmation of that hypothesis. We’re not looking at confirmation bias here: we’re looking at full-blown rationalisation in overdrive. Carrier is probably not the shabbiest source there: he’s just a crank; dig a little deeper and it wouldn’t surprise me if you find some outright hoaxes as well.

    The part where Max said, “emotion is the only argument for God,” also added some context. If he’s sincere about that (and let’s assume so for argument’s sake), then his former belief in God was only ever grounded in emotion. It now looks like anti-Christian emotions are running high. Perhaps he’d like to think that his new position is more intellectually grounded, but one doesn’t change a lifetime’s habit of emotionalism so easily, and I think that fact is plain to see here.

  34. Michael says:

    Well, I am going to lose that challenge. Doubt I can forget the Gnu who thinks my parents should be a jail for indoctrinating me. Kind of fits into the whole “religion is child abuse” meme the New Atheists promote.

  35. Reddington says:

    Shame on Atheist Max the fool of all fools! He is a demon! He is a godless heathen who needs to have Satan take him to the darkness of the underworld. May Christ crush his soul and break his spirit and tame his vile beguiling tongue. DETESTABLE MAX!!! You are wrong Max. WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG!!!! HOW DARE YOU CHALLENGE THE GLORY OF THE LORD ALMIGHTY WHO SHALL NOT BE MOCKED!!!! SHALL – NOT – BE – MOCKED!!!
    Oh, Atheist max heathen of the heathen nation fall to your knees and beg, beg, BEG FOR FORGIVENESS MAX!!!

  36. Kevin says:

    Thank you, Poe Reddington.

  37. Kevin says:

    Also, your alleged proofs that God is imaginary have been refuted so many times, I can’t imagine how any rational and knowledgeable person still presents them as arguments.

  38. Refute This says:

    Nothing about religion makes any sense.
    Miracles – if they happen – would only confirm the ‘loving god’ plays favorites in an arbitrary and cruel way. To help one dying child directly and in an obvious way would (supposedly) destroy her free will. To let another child die in agony would protect her free will but discredit the claims about intercession of prayer!
    It is a lose/lose equation.

    The existence of God makes no sense. The claim that he tinkers with our lives makes no sense. And we are all worse off for having these wishful cultural delusions permeating all our cultures, commanding obedience and blinding us to the reality all around us.

  39. Kevin says:

    The existence of God makes no sense. The claim that he tinkers with our lives makes no sense. And we are all worse off for having these wishful cultural delusions permeating all our cultures, commanding obedience and blinding us to the reality all around us.

    Do tell, exactly in what tangible ways would my life improve if I were somehow convinced that atheism made any sort of sense?

  40. TFBW says:

    Of what is that comment meant to be apropos, Refute This? It seems disconnected from both the post and the previous comments. You are, in point of fact, the first person to use the word “miracle” on this page. Was the comment meant to be releavnt, or is it just a random outburst of atheist propaganda?

  41. Michael says:

    Reddington and Refute This are Atheist Max’s sockpuppets. There is another 15+ comments from him today that I did not let through.

  42. Dhay says:

    Kevin > Thank you, Poe Reddington.

    This guy has done an excellent job of copying the style of the Poe “Ugly” letters to Richard Dawkins.

    It certainly evidences the pretend-Christian style of post or letter which a hate-filled anti-Christian can and does stoop to at the drop of a hat.

    This guy (Atheist Max pretending to be another and listing the other’s website as his? — it makes no difference to my point) — this guy has done such an excellent job of copying the style of the Poe “Ugly” letters to Richard Dawkins that I wonder whether perhaps he wasn’t copying.

  43. TFBW says:

    Atheist Max said:

    I spent 49 years as a devout believer in Jesus Christ. Prayed every day. Raised my two kids in the church and loved Jesus as much as any Christian you will ever meet. I did not merely ‘suspect’ God existed – I defended God’s existence as a certainty. Since leaving religion (or, as it left me) 3 years ago I have examined this question deeply.

    Michael said:

    Reddington and Refute This are Atheist Max’s sockpuppets. There is another 15+ comments from him today that I did not let through.

    I really hope Atheist Max was lying about his age and history. To be a dogmatic, middle-aged, emotionally-grounded Christian is one thing, but he’s demonstrated that there’s plenty of room to go downhill from there. I can but hope he’s as genuinely puerile as he sounds, and the whole back-story was just lies for the lulz. At least that way there’s hope that he’ll grow up.

  44. Dhay says:

    This is on a tangent, and I’ve made this point before in general terms, but Atheist Max’s flip-switch conversion from fervent Catholic to fervent anti-Christian atheist provides me a concrete example:

    The experimental subject selection method used by Sam Harris in his “The Neural Correlates of Religious and Non-Religious Belief” selected for a group of consistent strong Christians and for a sharply contrasting group of consistent strong atheists (excluding everybody in-between).

    It occurs to me that the sharp contrast could well be more apparent than real: the Christian group amounted to Atheist Max (Mark One) look-alikes; the atheist group amounted to Atheist Max (Mark Two) look-alikes; that is, both groups were Atheist Max look-alikes.

    If Harris had compared the neurological patterns for belief and disbelief in Atheist Max (Mark One) with those in Atheist Max (Mark Two), he would surely have obtained identical results.

    That two Atheist Max look-alike groups should have identical neurological patterns for what each group believed, and identical neurological patterns for what each group disbelieved, is perhaps to be expected, perhaps even inevitable.

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