Why Evidence is Irrelevant for New Atheists

Dawkins tweets:

As we have seen, for atheists like Dawkins, there is nothing that could ever count as evidence for God.  But if they ever did decide to count something and acknowledge the existence of God, nothing much changes.  For them, God would go from the “most unpleasant character in all of fiction” to the “most unpleasant character in all of reality.” Thus, rather than deny Him, they would oppose Him.  Instead of being atheists, they would be antitheists or antiGod. Instead of following Christ, they would become antichrists.

In other words, when it comes to New Atheists, the “atheist” position is the veneer.  The anti-God position is the core.  That’s what this new atheist book tells us.

 

 

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53 Responses to Why Evidence is Irrelevant for New Atheists

  1. Andy says:

    As we have seen, for atheists like Dawkins, there is nothing that could ever count as evidence for God. But if they ever did decide to count something and acknowledge the existence of God, nothing much changes. For them, God would go from the “most unpleasant character in all of fiction” to the “most unpleasant character in all of reality.” Thus, rather than deny Him, they would oppose Him.

    1. That presupposes that if there is a God, it can only be the God described in the Bible.
    2. You say that this illustrates that “evidence is irrelevant” for people like Dawkins in this respect. But the more accurate description seems to be “evidence for the *existence* of the “God of the Bible” would not lead them to reevaluate their opinion about whether supreme goodness is one of the attributes of that “God””.

  2. Allallt says:

    The simple fact that some has doubts on two levels–evidence for existence and as a functional model for morality–does not mean one of the objections is a veneer for the other. They are both legitimate concerns.

  3. Gary Good says:

    It’s much simpler than that: Evidence is not the issue. There is plenty of evidence for God all around us. The issue is that the atheist interprets that evidence according to his naturalistic/materialist worldview. The problem is that the atheist has faulty presuppositions.

    I had an atheist friend who claimed he didn’t believe in God because he has never seen evidence for God’s existence. He said if someone presented him with evidence for God, he would believe. I asked him, “what evidence would I need to provide him in order for him to believe in God?” He thought about it for a few days, and said that he couldn’t think of any evidence that would convince him that God exists. I thanked him for being honest and told him that this was the response I expected. Although he previously denied that he had any presuppositions, I pointed out that he just demonstrated that he interprets all evidence through his presuppositions.

  4. Andy says:

    The issue is that the atheist interprets that evidence according to his naturalistic/materialist worldview.

    Atheism doesn´t presuppose naturalism and quite a lot of atheists are not naturalists.
    Also, I´ve never seen *anyone* reject arguments for the existence of God along the line of “yeah, that´s logically valid, but it´s not naturalistic so I reject it”.

  5. ConorH says:

    Looks like that last thread regarding the “Worst Atheist Book” was a bit premature…

  6. Doug says:

    @Andy,
    Yes: according to surveys, “quite a lot of [self-labeling] atheists” believe in a “higher power”. Things that make you go, “huh?”
    (btw, Gary said “evidence”; Gary did not say “arguments”)

  7. Andy says:

    @Doug,

    Yes: according to surveys, “quite a lot of [self-labeling] atheists” believe in a “higher power”. Things that make you go, “huh?”

    Not really. The problem with those polls is that many people are confused if the poll is asking for their own personal beliefs or for association with specific religious (or nonreligious) groups. There are polls that show that only ~55% of British Christians actually believe in a higher power for example (i.e. they are culturally Christian but don´t believe in the key doctrines of Christianity).
    But that´s not what I had in mind at all, I was rather thinking about atheists that don´t subscribe to naturalism but rather some form of idealism, or neutral monism, or some form of dualism, or just haven´t made up their mind about what the fundamental building blocks of reality are – all of those views are perfectly compatible with atheism.

    (btw, Gary said “evidence”; Gary did not say “arguments”)

    So…..?

  8. Crude says:

    Also, I´ve never seen *anyone* reject arguments for the existence of God along the line of “yeah, that´s logically valid, but it´s not naturalistic so I reject it”.

    But we have seen the value of ‘logically valid’ arguments dismissed by atheists – the habit of saying ‘that’s theology/that’s philosophy therefore it’s totally without value from the start’ isn’t uncommon.

    And we’ve seen plenty of people who insist ‘there’s absolutely no evidence for God’s existence’, and then turn out to be playing incredibly fast and loose with their definition of ‘evidence’, or even be unable to even describe what that evidence should even look like.

    You may as well say ‘I’ve never seen ANYone say that they reject an argument PURELY because they dislike the conclusion, so it seems totally unlikely this is done.’

    1. That presupposes that if there is a God, it can only be the God described in the Bible.

    Not in an important way. All we need here is to recognize that the existence of God, full stop, eviscerates atheism on the spot, and turns Christianity into not just a live option, but a fairly dire one considering what Mike has outlined. If God exists, the lion’s share of the stock atheist objections to Christianity vanish on the spot.

    Atheists of that stripe don’t just dislike the Christian God. They intensely dislike people who like the Christian God.

    Atheism doesn´t presuppose naturalism and quite a lot of atheists are not naturalists.

    The sort of atheists who aren’t naturalists – particularly the ones who would explicitly reject naturalism – are also the words of atheists who are entirely unlikely to regard themselves as atheists to begin with, and aren’t likely to be regarded by atheists by anyone except for that very small subset of atheism committed to the modern ‘atheism is just a lack of belief, because otherwise atheists make up only a tiny fraction of the irreligious’ schtick.

  9. Crude says:

    I think my comment got filtered! Let’s see if it comes out.

  10. Michael says:

    1. That presupposes that if there is a God, it can only be the God described in the Bible.

    No. What is does is acknowledges the following facts:

    1. Barker’s book about “God” is about the God of the Bible.
    2. Dawkins agrees with Barker and thus promotes the book to his New Atheist fans.
    3. When it comes to this issue of God, the New Atheists devote the vast majority of their attention and focus on the God of the Bible.

    So let’s not pretend that Xochiquetzal, or any other deity, is relevant here.

    2. You say that this illustrates that “evidence is irrelevant” for people like Dawkins in this respect. But the more accurate description seems to be “evidence for the *existence* of the “God of the Bible” would not lead them to reevaluate their opinion about whether supreme goodness is one of the attributes of that “God””.

    I find it amusing when people try to project a level of intellectual sophistication to the New Atheists. Considering the ham-handed approach of the Gnus, my description is more accurate:

    But if they ever did decide to count something and acknowledge the existence of God, nothing much changes. For them, God would go from the “most unpleasant character in all of fiction” to the “most unpleasant character in all of reality.” Thus, rather than deny Him, they would oppose Him. Instead of being atheists, they would be antitheists or antiGod. Instead of following Christ, they would become antichrists.

    Actually, it is even more accurate to note that most New Atheists are already antitheists and antiGod. It would just become more obvious.

  11. Michael says:

    The simple fact that some has doubts on two levels–evidence for existence and as a functional model for morality–does not mean one of the objections is a veneer for the other. They are both legitimate concerns.

    Please. The New Atheists are not people “with doubts” and “concerns.”

  12. Andy says:

    @Michael,

    No. What is does is acknowledges the following facts:

    1. Barker’s book about “God” is about the God of the Bible.
    2. Dawkins agrees with Barker and thus promotes the book to his New Atheist fans.
    3. When it comes to this issue of God, the New Atheists devote the vast majority of their attention and focus on the God of the Bible.

    So….? None of that means that if there is a God, it can only be the God described in the Bible.

    I find it amusing when people try to project a level of intellectual sophistication to the New Atheists. Considering the ham-handed approach of the Gnus, my description is more accurate:

    No, your description is confused. You are mixing up whether x exists with what x would be like – those are quite distinct questions and you treat them as one and the same.

  13. Bilbo says:

    I’m not sure I completely object to the New Atheists’ position on this. For example, let’s say that the Calvinist interpretation of the Bible is correct, and that God only predestines some people to Heaven, while allowing everyone else to burn in Hell for eternity, even though God could have saved everybody. I would object to such a God, and I would refuse to worship him.

    Now I do not think the Calvinist interpretation is correct, so I do not object to worshipping the God of the Bible. However, if someone thought that Calvinism was the correct interpretation, I can understand why they would object to worshipping such a God.

    Likewise, there are other moral objections to the God of the Bible. I think there are reasonable answers to those objections. But to those who do not think there are reasonable answers, I can understand why they would object to worshipping the God of the Bible.

  14. Crude says:

    Bilbo,

    I would object to such a God, and I would refuse to worship him.

    Actually, you’d do whatever that God wanted. That’s pretty central to the idea, yeah?

    I can understand why they would object to worshipping such a God.

    Let that be the case, but that doesn’t impact Mike’s point at all.

  15. Crude says:

    I am not even an atheist so much as an antitheist; I not only maintain that all religions are versions of the same untruth, but I hold that the influence of churches and the effect of religious belief, is positively harmful. Reviewing the false claims of religion I do not wish, as some sentimental materialists affect to wish, that they were true. I do not envy believers their faith. I am relieved to think that the whole story is a sinister fairy tale; life would be miserable if what the faithful affirmed was actually true…. There may be people who wish to live their lives under cradle-to-grave divine supervision, a permanent surveillance and monitoring. But I cannot imagine anything more horrible or grotesque.

    That would be Christopher Hitchens.

    Notice that Hitchens is leveling his view at ‘all religions’. It would apply, seemingly, to any omnipotent God.

  16. Michael says:

    So….? None of that means that if there is a God, it can only be the God described in the Bible.

    So….? Can you quote the place in my blog entry where I assert that if there is a God, it can only be the God described in the Bible?

    No, your description is confused. You are mixing up whether x exists with what x would be like – those are quite distinct questions and you treat them as one and the same.

    No you are confused. Note the title of this blog entry. What I am pointing out is that evidence concerning the whole “x exists” debate is irrelevant to the New Atheists. If they ever did decide to count something and acknowledge the existence of God, nothing much changes. For them, God would go from the “most unpleasant character in all of fiction” to the “most unpleasant character in all of reality.” Thus, rather than deny Him, they would oppose Him. Instead of being atheists, they would be antitheists or antiGod. Instead of following Christ, they would become antichrists.

    BTW, you seem awfully intent on running interference for the New Atheists with these distractions. So I have a simple question for you: Are you a New Atheist?

  17. Andy says:

    @Crude

    But we have seen the value of ‘logically valid’ arguments dismissed by atheists – the habit of saying ‘that’s theology/that’s philosophy therefore it’s totally without value from the start’ isn’t uncommon.

    Yeah, I´ve seen things along that line. But what I haven´t seen is a rejection of an argument based on a commitment to naturalism.

    Not in an important way. All we need here is to recognize that the existence of God, full stop, eviscerates atheism on the spot, and turns Christianity into not just a live option, but a fairly dire one considering what Mike has outlined.

    Obviously. But this:
    “You think that the Bible describes an evil God, therefore you think that if there is a God, God must be evil”
    – is still a non sequitur unless you presuppose that the God of the Bible is not just a “live option” but rather the *only* possible option.

    The sort of atheists who aren’t naturalists – particularly the ones who would explicitly reject naturalism – are also the words of atheists who are entirely unlikely to regard themselves as atheists to begin with, and aren’t likely to be regarded by atheists by anyone except for that very small subset of atheism committed to the modern ‘atheism is just a lack of belief, because otherwise atheists make up only a tiny fraction of the irreligious’ schtick.

    I don´t know where you got those ideas but I grew up in a largely atheist community and work at a secular university surrounded by fellow atheists, and naturalism usually is a complete non-issue. I also don´t subscribe to naturalism, have said so on more than one occasion, and that has never led anyone to call me “not a true atheist” or anything along that line. Afaict, atheist philosophers that are unsure about naturalism or explicitly reject it are not that uncommon (based on the philpaper surveys, there should be a sizeable fraction of atheist philosophers that reject materialism and who thus cannot be called “naturalists” as the term is commonly understood).
    See also:
    http://stephenlaw.blogspot.de/2014/09/secular-humanism-dont-define-it-as.html

  18. Andy says:

    @Michael

    So….? Can you quote the place in my blog entry where I assert that if there is a God, it can only be the God described in the Bible?

    You didn´t. But without that assumption, your conclusion is a complete non sequitur.

    No you are confused. Note the title of this blog entry. What I am pointing out is that evidence concerning the whole “x exists” debate is irrelevant to the New Atheists. If they ever did decide to count something and acknowledge the existence of God, nothing much changes. For them, God would go from the “most unpleasant character in all of fiction” to the “most unpleasant character in all of reality.” Thus, rather than deny Him, they would oppose Him. Instead of being atheists, they would be antitheists or antiGod. Instead of following Christ, they would become antichrists.

    Suppose that there is a book about Bigfoot that describes how Bigfoot enjoys to hunt down humans for sport and flay them slowly when he captures some. The book further calls Bigfoot the “most noble and gentle creature to ever walk on this planet”. Now, a Bigfoot skeptic says that there is no evidence that such a creature exists, but even if it would, based on this description, it would be clearly neither noble nor gentle but rather quite cruel. So a Bigfoot believer replies “See! Evidence is *irrelevant* to those Bigfoot skeptics, even if they eventually decide to count something as evidence for Bigfoot, they still wouldn´t believe that Bigfoot is the most noble and gentle creature ever!”
    Do you see how the Bigfoot believer in that analogy is being illogical? If not, I can´t make it any clearer than that.

    So I have a simple question for you: Are you a New Atheist?

    No, I´ve already been an atheist before it was cool.

  19. Crude says:

    Andy,

    Yeah, I´ve seen things along that line. But what I haven´t seen is a rejection of an argument based on a commitment to naturalism.

    As I said: “You may as well say ‘I’ve never seen ANYone say that they reject an argument PURELY because they dislike the conclusion, so it seems totally unlikely this is done.’”

    – is still a non sequitur unless you presuppose that the God of the Bible is not just a “live option” but rather the *only* possible option.

    I’ve quoted Hitchens targeting quite a large slice of Gods. But it’s not a non-seq, for the reasons I’ve already stated:

    “All we need here is to recognize that the existence of God, full stop, eviscerates atheism on the spot, and turns Christianity into not just a live option, but a fairly dire one considering what Mike has outlined. If God exists, the lion’s share of the stock atheist objections to Christianity vanish on the spot.”

    I don´t know where you got those ideas but

    For one thing, statistics about the number of people who describe themselves as ‘atheists’ as opposed to ‘agnostics’, ‘irreligious’, ‘nothing-in-particular’, etc.

    I also don´t subscribe to naturalism, have said so on more than one occasion, and that has never led anyone to call me “not a true atheist” or

    Oh? What supernatural things do you believe exist? Either way, New Atheism is largely an American/UK phenomenon.

    Name the prominent atheists who openly reject naturalism. My guess: the best you’re going to be able to manage is someone on Law’s level (rather obscure), or someone like Thomas Nagel, who’s better known and is basically persona non grata in atheist circles.

  20. Michael says:

    You didn´t. But without that assumption, your conclusion is a complete non sequitur.

    Huh? My “conclusion” was “But if they ever did decide to count something and acknowledge the existence of God, nothing much changes.”

    Remember that
    1. Barker’s book about “God” is about the God of the Bible.
    2. Dawkins agrees with Barker and thus promotes the book to his New Atheist fans.
    3. When it comes to this issue of God, the New Atheists devote the vast majority of their attention and focus on the God of the Bible.

    Do you see how the Bigfoot believer in that analogy is being illogical? If not, I can´t make it any clearer than that.

    You don’t get it, do you? Remember my last blog entry where you posted dozens and dozens of comments? Did you ever bother to read it?

  21. SteveK says:

    “I also don´t subscribe to naturalism”

    I’ll ask the same question Crude did but in a different way. What beliefs do you have that don’t fit within naturalism?

  22. Michael says:

    You don’t get it, do you? Remember my last blog entry where you posted dozens and dozens of comments? Did you ever bother to read it?

    Runnin out of time.
    Here it is: https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2016/01/26/the-head-fake-2/

    Now read this post in the context of that post.

  23. Andy says:

    @crude

    I’ve quoted Hitchens targeting quite a large slice of Gods. But it’s not a non-seq, for the reasons I’ve already stated:

    “All we need here is to recognize that the existence of God, full stop, eviscerates atheism on the spot, and turns Christianity into not just a live option, but a fairly dire one considering what Mike has outlined. If God exists, the lion’s share of the stock atheist objections to Christianity vanish on the spot.”

    I don´t see how what you say here is even so much as *trying* to show that this:
    “You think that the Bible describes an evil God, therefore you think that if there is a God, God must be evil”
    – is not a non-sequitur without the assumption that the God of the Bible is the only possible option.

    For one thing, statistics about the number of people who describe themselves as ‘atheists’ as opposed to ‘agnostics’, ‘irreligious’, ‘nothing-in-particular’, etc.

    Like for example?

    Oh? What supernatural things do you believe exist?

    Define “supernatural”, or, alternatively, define “natural”.

    Name the prominent atheists who openly reject naturalism.

    I guess you are setting a very high bar for “prominence” here since Law would be “rather obscure”, so I´d go with Noam Chomsky and Slavoj Žižek – if they don´t count as “prominent”, then you might as well abandon the term.

  24. Andy says:

    @Michael

    You don’t get it, do you?

    You took the words out of my mouth.

  25. TFBW says:

    Andy said:

    I also don´t subscribe to naturalism, have said so on more than one occasion, and that has never led anyone to call me “not a true atheist” or anything along that line.

    Go immediately to Jerry Coyne’s blog and advertise your disposition towards naturalism. Use a stopwatch to time the interval between hitting submit, and your first response which describes you as an “accommodationist” or “faitheist” (code words for “not a true atheist”). Also take note how long it takes you to receive a ban from posting there. Report back to us tomorrow with your findings.

    No, I´ve already been an atheist before it was cool.

    Oh — hipster atheist.

  26. Michael says:

    You took the words out of my mouth.

    You would need to show how my conclusion entails the assumption that if there is a God, it can only be the God described in the Bible.

  27. Andy says:

    Go immediately to Jerry Coyne’s blog and advertise your disposition towards naturalism. Use a stopwatch to time the interval between hitting submit, and your first response which describes you as an “accommodationist” or “faitheist” (code words for “not a true atheist”).

    I know what those words mean and I have been called an “accomodationist” before, but for *completely* different reasons. And I have no idea why you think that there is any connection between naturalism(!) and labelling someone as an “accomodationist” / “faitheist” the former has literally nothing to do with the latter. Also, I´m banned at Coyne´s blog (well, strictly speaking I don´t know if I´m “banned” but the first comment I tried to post – which was critical but courteous – was never approved).

    Also take note how long it takes you to receive a ban from posting there. Report back to us tomorrow with your findings.

    Your point being? I can only presume that it´s something along the line of “Coyne is an ass, therefore…..”.

    Oh — hipster atheist.

    I only know “hipster” as meaning something like this:
    “The hipster subculture is composed of affluent or middle class young who reside primarily in gentrifying neighborhoods.[2][3] It is broadly associated with indie and alternative music, a varied non-mainstream fashion sensibility (including vintage and thrift store-bought clothes), generally progressive political views, organic and artisanal foods, and alternative lifestyles.[4][5][6] The subculture typically consists of white millennials living in urban areas.[7][8] It has been described as a “mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behavior”.”
    – but that makes absolutely no sense in this context. So could you please explain what a “hipster atheist” is supposed to be?

  28. Andy says:

    @Michael

    You would need to show how my conclusion entails the assumption that if there is a God, it can only be the God described in the Bible.

    I already did. I can try it in another way:
    Suppose that Dawkins accepts some events, including a personal relevation, as conclusive evidence that there must be a capital-G God, however, part of the relevation that Dawkins got entails that the God that actually exists is not described in the Bible, doesn´t approve of the Bible, has nothing to do with Jesus, and never interacted with the ancient hebrews or with the followers of Jesus in any way.
    You say that you do NOT presume that the God of the Bible is the only possible option, so you cannot rule out that what I just said is how Dawkins would “decide to count something and acknowledge the existence of God”.
    Now, pray tell, if this is what would happen, how could your conclusion that “…nothing much changes. For them, God would go from the “most unpleasant character in all of fiction” to the “most unpleasant character in all of reality.” Thus, rather than deny Him, they would oppose Him. Instead of being atheists, they would be antitheists or antiGod. Instead of following Christ, they would become antichrists.”
    – still follow?

  29. TFBW says:

    Andy,

    And I have no idea why you think that there is any connection between naturalism(!) and labelling someone as an “accomodationist” / “faitheist” the former has literally nothing to do with the latter.

    Since you’ve been banned by Coyne already (you had the temerity to post something critical), you’ve missed out on the opportunity to pass that gem of knowledge on to him and his readers. I’m pretty sure one or both of those words would have been used had you told them that naturalism is optional for atheists.

    So could you please explain what a “hipster atheist” is supposed to be?

    You said you were an atheist before it was cool. “I was/did X before it was cool” is a common hipster meme.

    I suppose you don’t subscribe to naturalism, because that’s so mainstream.

  30. Andy says:

    TFBW

    I’m pretty sure one or both of those words would have been used had you told them that naturalism is optional for atheists.

    And I´m pretty sure that they wouldn´t be, because those two things simply have nothing to do with each other. Not subscribing to naturalism has nothing to do with accomodationism (neither in the strict sense nor in the sense that is commonly used in atheist forums) and it also has nothing whatsoever to do with whath you think of religious faith – what it is, whether it has a value in some contexts or not, if it should be criticized (and if so how harshly) etc.pp.
    Have you actually ever seen anyone being labelled a “accomodationist” or “faitheist” for not subscribing to naturalism?

    You said you were an atheist before it was cool. “I was/did X before it was cool” is a common hipster meme.

    Aha.

    I suppose you don’t subscribe to naturalism, because that’s so mainstream.

    And I suppose the only reason for why you believe in Jesus is that you are such a conformist.

  31. TFBW says:

    Andy,

    And I´m pretty sure that they wouldn´t be, because those two things simply have nothing to do with each other.

    You’re tediously pedantic about what words mean and how they may and may not be used, even when the words were invented by other people for the primary purpose of disparagement.

    And I suppose the only reason for why you believe in Jesus is that you are such a conformist.

    By the way, rejecting things on the grounds that they are “so mainstream” is another stereotypical hipster trait.

  32. Andy says:

    TFBW,

    You’re tediously pedantic about what words mean and how they may and may not be used, even when the words were invented by other people for the primary purpose of disparagement.

    You are right of course, and for the same reason, people at Coyne´s blog would also probably call me a libtard and a rethuglican for not subscribing to naturalism. Because those are also words that have literally nothing whatsoever to do with naturalism but that were invented for the primary purpose of disparagement, makes total sense.

    By the way, rejecting things on the grounds that they are “so mainstream” is another stereotypical hipster trait.

    You don´t say. By the way, accepting things on the grounds that they are so popular is typical conformist behaviour.

  33. Michael says:

    Now, pray tell, if this is what would happen, how could your conclusion that “…nothing much changes. For them, God would go from the “most unpleasant character in all of fiction” to the “most unpleasant character in all of reality.” Thus, rather than deny Him, they would oppose Him. Instead of being atheists, they would be antitheists or antiGod. Instead of following Christ, they would become antichrists.”
    – still follow?

    It would still be the case that nothing much changes. Dawkins would claim a personal revelation that a God exists, but it is not the God of the Christians. In an odd, paradoxical way, he would claim to be vindicated, arguing he was never so much against “God” as he was against the way the Christians described God. So all his anti-Christian and anti-God of the Bible rhetoric would remain. His fans would explain away his new revelation with his recent stroke, but would insist his anti-Christian and anti-God arguments are as solid as ever. You don’t seem to understand that the New Atheist movement is largely an anti-Christian, anti-God of the Bible movement. That’s why when Coyne writes a book about “Faith vs. Fact,” by “faith” he means the Christian religion. That’s why Buddhist Sam Harris can become a leader in such a movement. That’s why Bill Maher can be a New Atheist leader while promoting pseudoscience. That’s why Dawkins, Harris, and Maher all have said the word “atheist” doesn’t really apply to them. That’s why Barker’s book about “God” is really about the God of the Bible. That’s why the New Atheists devote the vast majority of their attention and focus on the God of the Bible.

    Look, this blog focuses on New Atheists, not atheists. And I come as a Christian, not a generic theist. The New Atheists claim the Christians are wrong, and thus deluded, stupid, and/or dishonest. Okay, but what if the Christians are not wrong? We are allowed to contemplate that thought, are we not? When Dawkins was asked what he would count as evidence for God, he raised the example of Jesus returning during the Second Coming and then dismissed it as evidence since it could be an alien trick. He then realized that nothing could count as evidence.

    What I am pointing out that even if he changed his mind on this, and decided to count it as evidence for God, it would not matter. What if Christians are right? As I explained in the previous blog entry:

    I do not think God is all that interested in whether or not someone believes He exists. He is interested in whether or not someone believes they are a sinner. So, if the Super-Duper miracles were to occur, note the reaction of the atheists. Would they repent of their sins? Would they beg for forgiveness? Would they choose to worship and follow Christ? No. Not at all. They would simply reassert their sins of pride and arrogance. They would maintain their self-centered perception as judge of all reality.

    The biggest head fake of all is this notion that atheists are atheists because of “the evidence.” We’ve seen that the non-existence of such “evidence” is a matter of subjective opinion, but what is far more important is whether or not the self-centered views of the atheists can acknowledge the need to repent of their sins. For it’s not whether or not there is some gap out there that would force some atheists to say “Okay, I’ll tentatively say there’s a God.” What matters is whether or not atheists can admit their need for salvation.

    So it’s not me presuming that if God exists, he must be the God of the Bible. It’s me presuming that if God exists, he could be the God of the Bible and what if that is the case? It’s me reacting to the New Atheist chest-thumping that Christians are wrong/deluded and asking “but what if we are right?” Even if we were right, and we could convince Dawkins of this, he would still reject God.

  34. Michael says:

    Andy: Also, I´m banned at Coyne´s blog (well, strictly speaking I don´t know if I´m “banned” but the first comment I tried to post – which was critical but courteous – was never approved).

    Yet Andy has posted 150 comments here, most of them critical, a few not so courteous.

    As we can see, this blog is far more tolerant of dissenting views than the popular New Atheist blogs.

  35. Andy says:

    @Michael

    It would still be the case that nothing much changes. Dawkins would claim a personal revelation that a God exists, but it is not the God of the Christians.

    This is just ridiculous. So even if Dawkins would accept that there is a God, and even if he would start worshipping that God, that is all still “nothing much” because it isn´t the God you believe in.

    In an odd, paradoxical way, he would claim to be vindicated, arguing he was never so much against “God” as he was against the way the Christians described God.

    And how exactly would that be “paradoxical”?

    So all his anti-Christian and anti-God of the Bible rhetoric would remain.

    So…..?

    You don’t seem to understand that the New Atheist movement is largely an anti-Christian, anti-God of the Bible movement.

    I do understand that very well, but I fail to see your point or how any of this is supposed to contradict what I pointed out. Unless you presuppose that the only God that could possibly exist is the God of the Bible, none of your conclusions here follow.

    Look, this blog focuses on New Atheists, not atheists. And I come as a Christian, not a generic theist.

    Do you realize how many words you could have saved by just saying “yes indeed, this is about the God of the Bible and only the God of the Bible”?

    Okay, but what if the Christians are not wrong? We are allowed to contemplate that thought, are we not?

    Of course you are, am I not allowed to point out that your conclusion doesn´t follow *unless* you limit it to the Christian God instead of “God, period”?

    So it’s not me presuming that if God exists, he must be the God of the Bible. It’s me presuming that if God exists, he could be the God of the Bible…

    Wrong. Your conclusions don´t follow at all if you say “could” instead of “must” unless you´d modify your conclusions to say that those conclusions *could* follow IF, and ONLY if, the “God” that exists is either the God of the Bible or very similar to the God of the Bible.

    Even if we were right, and we could convince Dawkins of this, he would still reject God.

    You disagree with Dawkins about more than one thing. In this context here, you disagree with him about a) the existence of God and b) the goodness of the God ***OF THE BIBLE***.
    And you complain that even if Dawkins would eventually concede that he was wrong about a), he still wouldn´t concede b) – but why the hell should he? The two are complete distinct questions and you steadfastly keep pretending that they are one and the same.

  36. Andy says:

    @Michael

    As we can see, this blog is far more tolerant of dissenting views than the popular New Atheist blogs.

    That is also illogical because the specific observation here only permits the conclusion that your blog is far more tolerant of dissenting views than Coyne´s blog, not “popular New Atheist blogs, period”. Coyne would be an example of close to zero tolerance for dissenting views and, say, Mehta´s blog would be an example of close to 100% tolerance for dissenting views (try to be as blunt and offensive as you can in the comment section of the Friendly Atheist blog if you don´t believe me).
    It is not difficult to find popular Christian blogs that are run by people that are just as much of an ass as Coyne is (first one that comes to mind would be Wintery Knight) – but I wouldn´t conclude from that that every Christian blogger must be the same.

  37. Michael says:

    This is just ridiculous. So even if Dawkins would accept that there is a God, and even if he would start worshipping that God, that is all still “nothing much” because it isn´t the God you believe in.

    It’s nothing much because he would sound essentially the same. It’s not the God “I believe in.” It’s the God he spends most of his time complaining about.

    So all his anti-Christian and anti-God of the Bible rhetoric would remain.

    So…..?

    Nothing much would change. That’s the point.

    I do understand that very well, but I fail to see your point or how any of this is supposed to contradict what I pointed out. Unless you presuppose that the only God that could possibly exist is the God of the Bible, none of your conclusions here follow.

    No, I do not have to presuppose that the only God that could possibly exist is the God of the Bible. I need only presuppose that the God of the Bible exists. If He existed, and Dawkins and the New Atheists were convinced of this, nothing much would change. My conclusion does not depend on the belief that the only God that could possibly exist is the God of the Bible.

    Do you realize how many words you could have saved by just saying “yes indeed, this is about the God of the Bible and only the God of the Bible”?

    And what do you think Dan Barker’s book – the subject of this blog entry – is about?

    Of course you are, am I not allowed to point out that your conclusion doesn´t follow *unless* you limit it to the Christian God instead of “God, period”?

    The Christian God is what Barker, Dawkins, and I mean by “God.” I already pointed out that that Xochiquetzal, or any other deity, is irrelevant here. Barker, Dawkins, and I all agree that we are not talking about Xochiquetzal when we are talking about “God.”

    Wrong. Your conclusions don´t follow at all if you say “could” instead of “must” unless you´d modify your conclusions to say that those conclusions *could* follow IF, and ONLY if, the “God” that exists is either the God of the Bible or very similar to the God of the Bible.

    No, instead of cutting off my point, you should deal with it all:

    So it’s not me presuming that if God exists, he must be the God of the Bible. It’s me presuming that if God exists, he could be the God of the Bible and what if that is the case?

    The conclusion doesn’t have anything to do with assuming that a deity can only be the God of the Bible. The conclusion follows from the empirical observations that New Atheists primarily attack Christians and the God of the Bible (the subject of Barker’s book). That is the essence of the New Atheist movement. Thus, even if they could be convinced evidence for this God exists, they, and the movement, would not change.

    You disagree with Dawkins about more than one thing. In this context here, you disagree with him about a) the existence of God and b) the goodness of the God ***OF THE BIBLE***.
    And you complain that even if Dawkins would eventually concede that he was wrong about a), he still wouldn´t concede b) – but why the hell should he? The two are complete distinct questions and you steadfastly keep pretending that they are one and the same.

    You don’t seem to grasp the irrelevance of your simplistic point. It does not matter if the two are complete distinct questions. The point is this: Even if Christians are right (which would mean God = God of the Bible), and they could convince Dawkins of this, he would still reject God.

  38. Michael says:

    That is also illogical because the specific observation here only permits the conclusion that your blog is far more tolerant of dissenting views than Coyne´s blog, not “popular New Atheist blogs, period”.

    I stand corrected. This blog is more tolerant of dissenting views than the very popular blog of a New Atheist leader – Coyne. Same for Myers’ blog. Harris does not even allow comments.

    Coyne would be an example of close to zero tolerance for dissenting views

    Exactly. And the New Atheists don’t have a problem with this.

    and, say, Mehta´s blog would be an example of close to 100% tolerance for dissenting views (try to be as blunt and offensive as you can in the comment section of the Friendly Atheist blog if you don´t believe me).

    Mehta is an interesting case. He quit his job to become a full-time blogger and internet activist, so it would stand to reason he has such a high tolerance – he makes part of his income from people clicking on his blog and the more comments, the more clicks. Also, I suspect he doesn’t read the comments of his own blog. In fact, he came here once and admitted he does not have the time to police his own blog.

  39. Andy says:

    @Michael

    It’s nothing much because he would sound essentially the same.

    That´s just false.

    It’s not the God “I believe in.” It’s the God he spends most of his time complaining about.

    That doesn´t contradict my point at all.

    So all his anti-Christian and anti-God of the Bible rhetoric would remain.

    That also doesn´t contradict my point at all.

    Nothing much would change. That’s the point.

    That´s just false.

    No, I do not have to presuppose that the only God that could possibly exist is the God of the Bible. I need only presuppose that the God of the Bible exists.

    *headdesk*

    If He existed, and Dawkins and the New Atheists were convinced of this, nothing much would change. My conclusion does not depend on the belief that the only God that could possibly exist is the God of the Bible.

    Yes, only on the God of the Bible existing which would naturally rule out the existence of any other God because the God of the Bible is a monotheistic God and this is of course *totally* different from what I said and doesn´t just rephrase the exact same point.

    And what do you think Dan Barker’s book – the subject of this blog entry – is about?

    The God of the Bible. Doesn´t contradict my point in any way, shape or form.

    The Christian God is what Barker, Dawkins, and I mean by “God.” I already pointed out that that Xochiquetzal, or any other deity, is irrelevant here. Barker, Dawkins, and I all agree that we are not talking about Xochiquetzal when we are talking about “God.”

    Please point to Barker and Dawkins conceding that if there is a God, it can only be the God of the Bible.

    The conclusion doesn’t have anything to do with assuming that a deity can only be the God of the Bible. The conclusion follows from the empirical observations that New Atheists primarily attack Christians…

    Because attacking religions that are distinct minorities in their countries or no longer exist would obviously be equally rational targets for criticism.

    Thus, even if they could be convinced evidence for this God exists, they, and the movement, would not change.

    Because believing that your God doesn´t exist and believing that your God does exist is actually one and the same.

    You don’t seem to grasp the irrelevance of your simplistic point. It does not matter if the two are complete distinct questions. The point is this: Even if Christians are right (which would mean God = God of the Bible), and they could convince Dawkins of this, he would still reject God.

    Consider this hypothetical dialog:
    John: Leprechauns are greedy and fictional.
    Thomas: Actually, Leprechauns do exist, here is the evidence for that.
    John: Hey, you are right! So Leprechauns do exist after all, then I retract what I said about their existence and just say that they are greedy.
    Thomas: What?? I just demonstrated that they exist, how can you say that they are greedy when you know they exist??
    John: Erm… maybe because their existence and their greediness are two distinct topics and demonstrating their existence does exactly nothing to show that I´m wrong about them being greedy?
    Thomas: But they EXIST, how can they possible be greedy if they EXIST?? How do you not get that you must be wrong about them being greedy if they EXIST??

    What “Thomas” does in this dialog is exactly what you are doing here.

  40. Michael says:

    It’s nothing much because he would sound essentially the same.

    That´s just false.

    You have yet to show this. To show this, you would need to make the argument that if Dawkins was convinced by some evidence that the God of the Bible existed, he would renounce New Atheism and become a Christian.

    That doesn´t contradict my point at all.

    It might not contradict your point, but it shows your point to be an irrelevant tangent.

    I noted, “No, I do not have to presuppose that the only God that could possibly exist is the God of the Bible. I need only presuppose that the God of the Bible exists.”

    You replied: *headdesk*

    Er, are you under the impression that the claim “the God the Bible exists” is identical to the claim “the only God that could possibly exist is the God of the Bible?”

    Please point to Barker and Dawkins conceding that if there is a God, it can only be the God of the Bible.

    Why? What Barker and Dawkins argue is that a) the God of the Bible does not exist and b) the God of the Bible is a Mean Monster. What that tells us is that even if they abandoned a), they would still remain anti-Christian and anti-God (the essence of New Atheism) because of b).

    Because attacking religions that are distinct minorities in their countries or no longer exist would obviously be equally rational targets for criticism.

    The rationalization is irrelevant. What matters is the empirical observations that New Atheists primarily attack Christians. That’s why when Barker wrote a book about God, and Dawkins promoted it, it was about the God of the Bible.

    Consider this hypothetical dialog:

    John: Leprechauns are greedy and fictional.
    Thomas: Actually, Leprechauns do exist, here is the evidence for that.
    John: Hey, you are right! So Leprechauns do exist after all, then I retract what I said about their existence and just say that they are greedy.
    Thomas: What?? I just demonstrated that they exist, how can you say that they are greedy when you know they exist??
    John: Erm… maybe because their existence and their greediness are two distinct topics and demonstrating their existence does exactly nothing to show that I´m wrong about them being greedy?
    Thomas: But they EXIST, how can they possible be greedy if they EXIST?? How do you not get that you must be wrong about them being greedy if they EXIST??
    What “Thomas” does in this dialog is exactly what you are doing here.

    Nonsense.

    Why do you keep twisting my words? I never claimed or assumed the only God that ever could possibly exist is the God of the Bible. Just as I never claimed or assumed that an acknowledgement of God’s existence must mean that God is not a Mean Monster. No where do I argue that if Dawkins accepts the existence of the God of the Bible, he must abandon his characterization of the God of the Bible. On the contrary, I’m taking him at face value and assuming he means it. Look, in this blog entry, I am not disputing his characterization. I’m simply noting what the New Atheist perceptions tell us about them. Even if Christians are right (which would mean God = God of the Bible), and they could convince Dawkins and Co. of this, they would still reject God (because they think he is such a monster). It’s not about the evidence.

  41. Andy says:

    @Michael

    First you say:

    You have yet to show this. To show this, you would need to make the argument that if Dawkins was convinced by some evidence that the God of the Bible existed, he would renounce New Atheism and become a Christian.

    And then you say later in response to my “What “Thomas” does in this dialog is exactly what you are doing here.”:

    Nonsense.

    Why do you keep twisting my words?

    I can demonstrate that you are doing *exactly* what “Thomas” did in my hypothetical dialog and I did demonstrate it, but I cannot understand it for you. In fact, you seem to be incapable of understanding it because right here you first admit that you are doing *exactly* this but you don´t even realize that you admit it.
    For you, the existence of the entity that the authors of the Bible had in mind when they wrote the biblical documents and the goodness (or lack thereof) of said entity, are the exact same issue, there is no difference whatsoever between the two and if Dawkins is wrong about the former, then you think that he logically must concede that he is wrong about the latter as well. This is illogical. It is ridiculously illogical. That this is a complete and thorough non sequitur could not be any more obvious but you really seem to be incapable of understanding it, so I give up.

  42. Andy says:

    @Michael,
    After re-reading your comment, I think I misunderstood what you meant, it appears that this is what you have in mind:
    1. Hypothetically, Dawkins would accept some evidence that would convince him that the entity that we call “God of the Bible” here does exist and concedes that he is wrong about the existence of this entity.
    2. If #1 happened, Dawkins would not concede that he is wrong about the goodness of the “God of the Bible” unless you can present evidence that his evaluation of the goodness of the “God of the Bible” is flawed.
    3. Because Dawkins is not willing to accept the claim that the “God of the Bible” is good without any evidence for this and without any arguments that dismantle his own aimed at showing that the “God of the Bible” is evil based on his characterization in the biblical documents, you conclude that evidence doesn´t matter to him.

    Is that what you are trying to argue here?

    I find it hard to believe that this is what you are trying to argue because then you are quite literally saying “you are unwilling to accept x *without* any evidence for x being true and without your arguments against the truth of x being dismantled, therefore, evidence clearly does not matter to you” – and that would be the most ludicrous claim I´ve seen in a long time.
    But if I misunderstand what you are saying in this comment here, and also in the one I wrote just before it, then I have literally no idea *at all* what you want to communicate here and you might as well write in chinese.

  43. Zaparozhets says:

    Allallt,

    The simple fact that some has doubts on two levels–evidence for existence and as a functional model for morality–does not mean one of the objections is a veneer for the other. They are both legitimate concerns.

    I think this is a fair comment. On the other hand, that both can be legitimate concerns doesn’t seem to make it impossible that for some people one set of objections or concerns aren’t secondary, or maybe even just a veneer, to the other.

    I seem to remember coming across coverage of a TV interview Dawkins did with Mehdi Hasan somewhere on this blog in which Dawkins states something to the effect that questions of good and evil are/were never so important to him as his enthusiasm for science and his commitment to promoting science. If this is true his engagement with questions of good and evil (from what I remember of the God Delusion there’s quite a lot of morality related material in it) could be interpreted as secondary or in some way instrumental; he does it mainly in so far as it can be used to promote a scientific worldview and undermine the credibility of what he sees as opposed to science.

    Alternatively, as Michael suggests here, the science and evidence stuff may be secondary or even a kind of veneer to people who are mainly concerned with and inspired by more moral and ethical questions.

    The kind of arguments needed in each of the cases are quite different, and perhaps the moral arguments can end up being more complicated. Taking an example suggested by the above comment; is the God of the Bible, in his non incarnate ‘Father’ form or person even actually presented as a functional model for human morality? From what I know about the content of the Bible I guess this would be open to question.

  44. Michael says:

    I can demonstrate that you are doing *exactly* what “Thomas” did in my hypothetical dialog and I did demonstrate it, but I cannot understand it for you. In fact, you seem to be incapable of understanding it because right here you first admit that you are doing *exactly* this but you don´t even realize that you admit it.

    No. I understand your point just fine, which is why I am able to score it as irrelevant. You don’t understand the core issue here. As I explained before, “From the Christian perspective, the core issue here is not, and had never been, “the evidence.” The core issue is rebellion and the manner in which we love our sin. So the question that gets us closer to the heart of the matter is not “what type of data would count as evidence for God?” It is, “if you were convinced God exists, would you repent of your sins and stop rebelling against God?”

    Barker’s book, and its popularity among the Gnus, shows us the answer is no. They would simply lash out at God as the sinner.

    BTW, you said you would become a Christian is there was evidence for the NT God. Are you going to read Barker’s chapter on Jesus. I think he is supposed to be making the case that Jesus is no better than the OT God.

    For you, the existence of the entity that the authors of the Bible had in mind when they wrote the biblical documents and the goodness (or lack thereof) of said entity, are the exact same issue, there is no difference whatsoever between the two

    That’s not what I think. Please practice the Golden Rule and stop putting words in my mouth.

    and if Dawkins is wrong about the former, then you think that he logically must concede that he is wrong about the latter as well.

    Where did I ever say this? I’m noting the postures of Barker and Dawkins. What Barker and Dawkins argue is that a) the God of the Bible does not exist and b) the God of the Bible is a Mean Monster. What that tells us is that even if they abandoned a), they would still remain anti-Christian and anti-God (the essence of New Atheism) because of b). This clearly illustrates that the whole “I would become a Christian if only you Christians had evidence” posture is not true.

    This is illogical. It is ridiculously illogical. That this is a complete and thorough non sequitur could not be any more obvious but you really seem to be incapable of understanding it, so I give up.

    That’s what you get when you keep arguing against the words you put into my mouth (even to the point of favoring your mock dialog over the words I have actually written). The words I wrote were as follows: In other words, when it comes to New Atheists, the “atheist” position is the veneer. The anti-God position is the core. That’s what this new atheist book tells us.

    I told you – even if the God of the Bible did exist, and Dawkins knew this, nothing much would change, except for the fact that the anti-God essense of the New Atheist movement would become obvious. All this chest-thumping about the need for evidence is a distraction.

  45. Andy says:

    @Michael

    No. I understand your point just fine, which is why I am able to score it as irrelevant. You don’t understand the core issue here. As I explained before, “From the Christian perspective, the core issue here is not, and had never been, “the evidence.” The core issue is rebellion and the manner in which we love our sin. So the question that gets us closer to the heart of the matter is not “what type of data would count as evidence for God?” It is, “if you were convinced God exists, would you repent of your sins and stop rebelling against God?”

    And the mistake you keep making here is that you observe “New Atheist x wouldn´t change his mind on issue y even if I showed him evidence that demonstrates that he is wrong on issue z” and conclude from that that evidence does not matter to x. And this is illogical, no matter how often you repeat it.

    BTW, you said you would become a Christian is there was evidence for the NT God. Are you going to read Barker’s chapter on Jesus.

    I very much doubt it because there doesn´t seem to be much if anything there that I haven´t heard before. If anything, I might read Avalos’ book on the same matter.

    Where did I ever say this? I’m noting the postures of Barker and Dawkins. What Barker and Dawkins argue is that a) the God of the Bible does not exist and b) the God of the Bible is a Mean Monster. What that tells us is that even if they abandoned a), they would still remain anti-Christian and anti-God (the essence of New Atheism) because of b).

    And as long as they believe b) to be true, what the hell is wrong with that? You could argue that they are wrong about b) as well, but you don´t do that – instead, you say that they don´t “care about evidence”, but you haven´t given them any evidence that shows them to be wrong on b) in the first place!

    This clearly illustrates that the whole “I would become a Christian if only you Christians had evidence” posture is not true.

    I didn´t read most of what Dawkins’ wrote on such matters but did he ever say anything that would suggest that he would become a Christian if you had evidence demonstrating the existence of the “God of the Bible” instead of suggesting that he would NOT become a Christian just because of that because it would do nothing to prove him wrong on the goodness of the “God of the Bible”?
    If Dawkins never suggested the former, then, again, what is your problem here? If you think he´s wrong on the goodness of the God of the Bible, then argue against his views on that matter – why would it even occur to you to criticize that someone doesn´t change his mind on one issue because he was proven wrong on a DIFFERENT issue?

    In other words, when it comes to New Atheists, the “atheist” position is the veneer. The anti-God position is the core.

    We have a) the existence and b) the goodness of the God of the Bible. And based on a New Atheist writing a book about b) – you conclude that the denial of a) is actually just a veneer and the denial of b) is the core. How the hell does that follow? You did nothing at all to show that the alternatives that a) is the core and b) the veneer, or that neither one is the core / more central than the other, are false.

    I told you – even if the God of the Bible did exist, and Dawkins knew this, nothing much would change, except for the fact that the anti-God essense of the New Atheist movement would become obvious.

    1. So you seriously intend to say that it isn´t already obvious NOW, despite Dawkins calling the God in question the “most unpleasant character in all of fiction” in a bestselling book and despite him endorsing another book that elaborates on this?
    2. “I believe God x actually exists and find him abhorrent” and “I believe God x is just a fictional character, and find him abhorrent” are actually quite different.

  46. Michael says:

    And the mistake you keep making here is that you observe “New Atheist x wouldn´t change his mind on issue y even if I showed him evidence that demonstrates that he is wrong on issue z” and conclude from that that evidence does not matter to x. And this is illogical, no matter how often you repeat it.

    I’m not the one repeating this spin. You are.

    Look, my blog entry contained a total of nine sentences. Let’s review.

    As we have seen, for atheists like Dawkins, there is nothing that could ever count as evidence for God.

    Here I am connecting the current blog post to those in the past, where we have explored empty nature of the demand for evidence. It turned out that nothing could ever count as evidence for God.

    But if they ever did decide to count something and acknowledge the existence of God, nothing much changes.

    Here is the new point that I am adding to the mix. Note the focus is still on the “no evidence for God” posture, but here I am adding that if, for some odd reasons, New Atheists did “decide to count something and acknowledge the existence of God”, then “nothing much changes. ” What do I mean by “nothing much changes?” I then elaborate.

    For them, God would go from the “most unpleasant character in all of fiction” to the “most unpleasant character in all of reality.” Thus, rather than deny Him, they would oppose Him. Instead of being atheists, they would be antitheists or antiGod. Instead of following Christ, they would become antichrists.

    In other words, the basic “Christianity is evil, so we must fight against it” posturing that defines New Atheism remains. I’m noting the postures of Barker and Dawkins. What Barker and Dawkins argue is that a) the God of the Bible does not exist and b) the God of the Bible is a Mean Monster. What that tells us is that even if they abandoned a), they would still remain anti-Christian and anti-God (the essence of New Atheism) because of b).

    You seem to have this strong need to show that I am wrong. But to satisfy that need, there is only one way to go about it. You would need to show that if the New Atheists acknowledged the existence of God (and remember, both sides are talking about the God of the Bible here), there would be huge changes.

    I then note the two dimensions to New Atheism.

    In other words, when it comes to New Atheists, the “atheist” position is the veneer. The anti-God position is the core. That’s what this new atheist book tells us.

    You replied:

    We have a) the existence and b) the goodness of the God of the Bible. And based on a New Atheist writing a book about b) – you conclude that the denial of a) is actually just a veneer and the denial of b) is the core. How the hell does that follow?

    Very good. Sounds like a good topic for another blog entry. The “no evidence for God” posture is the official posturing that is presented to the general/academic public. It is an expression of scientism that creates the impression the posture is intellectual/sciencey in nature. The “God is evil” posture is not the primary message that is presented to the general/academic public. And it’s more of an emotional posture. The core emotions here would be fear and hate. Now, there are two reasons to think this would be at the core. First, humans beings are typically motivated by emotion, not intellect. Intellect is used to justify emotion and/or disguise its role. Second, we have independent evidence that the New Atheist movement is guided by emotion, not reason.

    And as long as they believe b) to be true, what the hell is wrong with that?

    It’s not an issue of them being right or wrong with b). It’s that b) gives us information about the New Atheist movement.

    1. So you seriously intend to say that it isn´t already obvious NOW, despite Dawkins calling the God in question the “most unpleasant character in all of fiction” in a bestselling book and despite him endorsing another book that elaborates on this?

    It’s obvious to those who follow the New Atheists. But it’s not the primary way the Gnus posture for the general/academic public. If you encounter a Gnu in another context, and note that he/she is “anti-God” and “anti-Christian,” do you think he/she would acknowledge this? As one with experience, let me tell you – they don’t.

    2. “I believe God x actually exists and find him abhorrent” and “I believe God x is just a fictional character, and find him abhorrent” are actually quite different.

    Sure. But we are not talking pure logic here. We are talking about the New Atheist movement, a sociological phenomenon that is the mass expression of human psychology. From this perspective, both positions yield the same result. After all, we are talking about a movement where a Buddhist and an anti-vaxxer apatheist can be leaders.

  47. Kevin says:

    Andy,

    In a nutshell, Michael is saying that New Atheists claim to be motivated by reason and evidence, and mask most of their writings in such terms. However it is entirely obvious that hatred of God and Christianity (and Islam secondarily) is what motivates them. They are not primarily an intellectual movement. They are a hate group of anti religious bigots who would hate God and Christianity even if Jesus was on Earth in full glory right this second.

    B does not follow from A, and Michael isn’t claiming it does. B is the motivation, A is the cooler sounding rationalization.

  48. Andy says:

    @Michael,

    In other words, the basic “Christianity is evil, so we must fight against it” posturing that defines New Atheism remains.

    And can you give any reason for why it would or should NOT remain other than “you guys have been shown to be wrong about x, so you should concede that you are wrong about y as well although we´ve geven you no reasons that demonstrate y to be true or dismantled your arguments against y being false”? If you cannot – then honestly, what is your point here?

    What that tells us is that even if they abandoned a), they would still remain anti-Christian and anti-God (the essence of New Atheism) because of b).

    Of course they would, and you´ve so far given no reason to show that this is problematic or somehow connected to a disregard of evidence because you have not even tried to present any evidence somehow relevant for b).

    You seem to have this strong need to show that I am wrong.

    Not wrong, just nonsensical – you keep complaining about some people not conceding that they are wrong about b after being shown to be wrong about a and I keep pointing out that this just doesn´t make any sense.

    You would need to show that if the New Atheists acknowledged the existence of God (and remember, both sides are talking about the God of the Bible here), there would be huge changes.

    Well, apparently, the only thing you´d count as a “huge change” would be a conversion to Christianity while a transition from not believing in your God in the first place to believing in your God and opposing him would be “nothing much”. I´d see it as a pretty significant change but we can chalk this up as a subjective disagreement about what constitutes a “significant change”.

    Very good. Sounds like a good topic for another blog entry. The “no evidence for God” posture is the official posturing that is presented to the general/academic public. It is an expression of scientism that creates the impression the posture is intellectual/sciencey in nature. The “God is evil” posture is not the primary message that is presented to the general/academic public.

    It might not be a “primary message” but it still very much is a “message” and not something that is hidden in any way.

    Now, there are two reasons to think this would be at the core. First, humans beings are typically motivated by emotion, not intellect.

    That is kind of trivial given that “motivation” is intrinsically emotional – a being that is 0% emotion is a robot and could *not even in principle* be “motivated”.

    It’s not an issue of them being right or wrong with b). It’s that b) gives us information about the New Atheist movement.

    But you didn´t uncover any information that was not also entailed by just taking their words at face value – it´s not as if they ever denied b) or were coy about explicitly affirming b).

    It’s obvious to those who follow the New Atheists. But it’s not the primary way the Gnus posture for the general/academic public.

    It might not be the main focus, but it´s not hidden in any way either – it´s actually impossible to miss for even just a casual observer (I didn´t read the vast majority of New Atheist literature and virtually never listen to public speeches by them and it still could have been hardly any more obvious to me that this is part of their position)

    If you encounter a Gnu in another context, and note that he/she is “anti-God” and “anti-Christian,” do you think he/she would acknowledge this? As one with experience, let me tell you – they don’t.

    Depends on what you mean by “anti-God” and “anti-Christian”. I support secularism in the sense intended by the US founding fathers, for quite a lot of people, that means that I am “anti-God” and “anti-Christian” and a “communist” (most recent example http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/franklin-graham-only-one-election-left-save-america-godless-secularists ). So you´d have to be a little more clear on what exactly you have in mind when you say “anti-God” and “anti-Christian” because I doubt that you´d agree that these phrases essentially mean nothing more than “opposed to a Christian theocracy”.

  49. Ratheist says:

    The Bible says if you beat your slave and he gets up, you’ve done nothing wrong. Christians are so brainwashed that they actually try to rationalize this disgusting crap.

  50. Kevin says:

    Ratheist, I look forward to you proving that it is wrong without invoking your opinion or nonbinding biological urges.

  51. Michael says:

    And can you give any reason for why it would or should NOT remain

    I am not arguing whether or not God exists, nor am I arguing whether or not God is Good. I’m pointing out that if the New Atheists ever did decide to count something as evidence for God’s existence and acknowledge the existence of God, nothing much changes.

    then honestly, what is your point here?

    I’m pointing out that if the New Atheists ever did decide to count something as evidence for God’s existence and acknowledge the existence of God, nothing much changes.

    Of course they would, and you´ve so far given no reason to show that this is problematic or somehow connected to a disregard of evidence because you have not even tried to present any evidence somehow relevant for b).

    That can be explored in another blog entry, for the “God is an Evil Monster” posture is problematic for the “There is No Evidence God Exists” posture. What only matters here is that even if they abandoned a), they would still remain anti-Christian and anti-God (the essence of New Atheism) because of b).

    Not wrong, just nonsensical – you keep complaining about some people not conceding that they are wrong about b after being shown to be wrong about a and I keep pointing out that this just doesn´t make any sense.

    No, this is nonsensical. What you have here is your subjective interpretations of my words. I simply commented and observed. But you have spun it as me “complaining.” Do you do that to cast me in a negative light? Why would I complain about New Atheists digging themselves a deeper hole to climb out of? I write that even if the New Atheists acknowledged the existence of God, nothing much about the movement would change – they would still remain anti-Christian and anti-God (the essence of New Atheism). You twist my words to make it sound like I am demanding that they are supposed to abandon their perceptions of God if they were to acknowledge the existence of God. I making no demands about what they are supposed to do. I am noting what would they would do.

    You need to stop twisting my words.

    Well, apparently, the only thing you´d count as a “huge change” would be a conversion to Christianity while a transition from not believing in your God in the first place to believing in your God and opposing him would be “nothing much”. I´d see it as a pretty significant change but we can chalk this up as a subjective disagreement about what constitutes a “significant change”.

    Well, yeah, the former change would mean the New Atheist would have to abandon the New Atheist movement, while the latter change would not mean this. The New Atheist movement tolerates leaders who are Buddhists and anti-vaxxer apatheists.

    Look, the question of God’s existence and the question of God’s goodness boils down to subjective disagreement. Apparently, there are only certain types of subjective disagreements you think we should be talking about.

    It might not be a “primary message” but it still very much is a “message” and not something that is hidden in any way.

    So? New Atheism comes with lots of messages (Christians are child abusers, Faith is a Dangerous Virus, Jesus never existed, atheists who are not New Atheists are cowardly wimps, etc.) God is Evil is among them. But the one message that is fuctions as the official posturing to be presented to the general/academic public is the “there is no evidence for God” message. This is the message that is supposed to create the impression that this is all a scientific, intellectual dispute, with the New Atheists just happening to be Pro-Reason and Pro-science. With that message, and given the major focus on Christianity and the God of the Bible, people might actually get the impression that if there was only some evidence for this God, the New Atheists would become Christians. Imagine that. Are you troubled by the fact that my nine sentence blog entry punctures that illusion?

  52. Kevin says:

    He ignored my summary of your position and will likely ignore yours too, even though it’s clear that you’re not attempting to claim that accepting the existence of God means that you must also find his character to be noble.

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