A Critical Look at Common Atheist Talking Points

Atheist blogger Kevin Davis attended a Lifetree Café gathering at a Lutheran church where the topic of discussion was atheism.  Davis was annoyed by something:

The next discussion question: What is the attraction to atheism?  This one bothered me. I took the opportunity to clear up some misconceptions.  Atheism isn’t something people get recruited into or attracted to from an ideological perspective.  It has no dogma or doctrine.  Atheism is a conclusion based on a lack of evidence.  No one decides to become an atheist because it’s glamorous.  Why would you willingly join a minority position that is attached to an unshakable stigma and is legally discriminated against?  We’re not “giving up on God” or “angry at God” or any of those other assertions. We simply used critical thinking to come to the conclusion that the supernatural folklore of millennia ago is unfounded and archaic.  

This is a very common self-serving talking point among the atheist activists and I find it to be highly inaccurate.

First, when Davis insists it is the mere use of critical thinking that leads to atheism, he paints a picture where it is atheists alone who have a special talent for such thinking.  For it is clearly implied that those of us who are Christians lack this skill, otherwise, why are we still Christians?  The problem for Davis is that there are many Christians who use critical thinking to reach the conclusion that Christianity is likely to be true.  This means that since critical thinking can lead to two opposite conclusions, the mere use of critical thinking is insufficient at explaining why people become atheists.

Of course, at this point, the atheist is likely to double down on that self-serving self image, arguing that critical thinking skills are not involved in anyone becoming a Christian because if critical thinking skills were involved, the person would reach the conclusion of atheism.   And round and round it would go.  So let’s use some critical thinking skills to analyze Davis’s talking point.

I took the opportunity to clear up some misconceptions.  Atheism isn’t something people get recruited into or attracted to from an ideological perspective.  

This is simply false.  There is clearly a distinct evangelistic dimension to the New Atheism movement.  Consider just some of the evidence (off the top of my head):

  • Atheist activist Richard Carrier has said , “My objective is to make more atheists. I am an evangelist for atheism.”
  • Atheist activist Peter Boghossian wrote a book, popular among the atheists, entitled, “A Manual for Creating Atheists” and Carrier taught on online course around it: “Boghossian proposes a particular approach to one-on-one atheist evangelism that is science-and-experience based, and valuable to learn. If you have friends, family members, colleagues, whom you want to escape religion, and improve their standards of belief-formation, this course is for you. If you want to make more atheists through one-on-one interaction with anyone (people you meet on the street, at events, while manning an “Ask an Atheist” booth, anywhere), his book is a must-read, and definitely worth taking a course on, even if you don’t agree with everything it says.”
  • American Atheists are putting up billboards around the country trying to attract people to atheism:

The billboard features a mother looking over her daughter’s shoulder as she reads a text from a friend who asks her if she’s going to church this Christmas. Her response? “Lol. No way. I don’t believe that stuff anymore.”  This isn’t the only design American Atheists is using this year.

Other cities across the nation are getting another billboard that puts a political spin on the holiday by modifying President-Elect Donald Trump’s famous campaign slogan: “MAKE CHRISTMAS GREAT AGAIN,” followed by “Skip Church!”

  • Here’s an atheist activist whose video (promoted by Dawkins’ webpage) is entitled, How to Convert a Christian to Atheism
  • New Atheist authors often brag about the email they get telling them how their atheist book converted people to atheism.

I’ll stop.

Suffice it to say that there is a distinct evangelistic dimension to the atheist movement that seeks to convert people into atheism.

Next claim from Davis:

It has no dogma or doctrine.  Atheism is a conclusion based on a lack of evidence. 

Davis insists there is no dogma or doctrine to atheism and immediately proceeds to list it. The whole notion that atheism is simply a conclusion based on a lack of evidence is the dogma/doctrine of modern day atheism.  Let’s consider the evidence to support my claim.

First, the dogmatic nature of this position is evident to anyone who has actually argued with an atheist.  After arguing with hundreds of atheists, I have yet to encounter one who will not back off the extreme nature of this dogmatic posture.  That is, I cannot find an atheist who argues as follows:

I agree there is some evidence for theism, enough such that theism can be considered a reasonable position.  However, I find this evidence to be unconvincing and weak, thus I remain an atheist.

Instead, I have reliably discovered, time after time after time, that atheists cling to the “there is no, NO, NO(!) evidence for the existence of God” dogma.

The extreme, dogmatic nature of this doctrine shows itself in how the atheist movement portrays religious people as delusional, mentally ill, stupid, and/or dishonest.  You can only view theists in such a way if a) you perceive yourself as having superior thinking skills that b) discover there is NO evidence for the existence of God.  It’s so obvious that only the delusional and mentally ill would dare disagree with you.

Second, Davis wrote something else that undercuts his position:

On to the next topic. We’re starting to get into the nitty gritty now. We were provided the definition of atheism — a lack of belief in a deity and lack of belief in anything supernatural.  I’d go with the former and drop the latter.  Atheism doesn’t reject supernatural concepts by definition; it just refers to the lack of belief in gods.  While it’s true most atheists reject all supernatural ideas, some do believe in ghosts or spirits or other supernatural concepts not related to gods.

He is correct in noting there are many atheists who believe in ghosts, spirits, and other supernatural concepts.  In addition, some believe in UFOs and various conspiracy theories.  Thus, while we are told that atheists, as a group, reject belief in God because of critical thinking and a lack of evidence, there are many who believe in ghosts, spirits, along with other supernatural and paranormal phenomenon, ……because of the same critical thinking and consideration of evidence?  Look, if the atheist is going to posture as a member of a group devoted to critical thinking and evidence, that message is contradicted when you also admit the existence of ghost-believing fellow atheists.

Third, and perhaps most damaging, is that while atheists believe their atheism stems from a consideration which finds no evidence for God, it turns out the “no evidence” position is not rooted in critical thinking.  How can we tell?  Simply ask the atheist to explain what type of data they would count as evidence for God.  What type of data would cause them to merely suspect God might exist?  If you do that, you will find that the vast majority of atheists struggle mightily with this simple question (that stems from a position of critical thinking).  After all, how can anyone claim there is no evidence of X is they don’t have the foggiest idea of what would even count for X?  Such a person is admitting they are intellectually blind when it comes to the consideration of X.  If you are sure there is no evidence for X when you have no idea what evidence for X would look like, you are being classicly dogmatic.

If the atheist does answer the question, you will find that the vast majority of them will demand some type of demonstration/event for which no natural explanation is possible.  Put simply, they need some type of miracle.  Yet if one were to argue that God exists because there is something that cannot be explained by natural causes, this would be shot down as the illegitimate appeal to the “God of the Gaps.”  So it’s “Heads I win, Tails you lose.”  Only miracles can count as evidence for God, but holding up miracles as evidence of God is the “God of the Gaps” fallacy.  What guides this heads I win, tail you lose approach is a strict adherence to dogma: there is no evidence, and can be no evidence, for God.

The “no evidence” position of modern day atheism is not rooted in careful analysis guided by critical thinking.  It is more of a slogan and rallying cry that is rooted in shallow thinking.

Finally, Davis claims:

No one decides to become an atheist because it’s glamorous.  Why would you willingly join a minority position that is attached to an unshakable stigma and is legally discriminated against?  

I’m not buying this one, as Davis seems to think we still live in the 1950s.  In 2016, it’s considered cool, edgy, and hip to be an atheist.  It’s supposed to mean you are smart, you stand out, you are different, you think for yourself, you love science.  In fact, it’s so cool and edgy that you can hang out with others online and mock the religious kooks.

There are plenty of reasons to become an atheist that have nothing to do with some well-developed critical thinking skill set.  After all, how else do you explain the fact that so many atheists have so much trouble with critical thinking?

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31 Responses to A Critical Look at Common Atheist Talking Points

  1. RegualLlegna says:

    The gnus are the type of person that will never get that nobody can make a system, ideology or law of any kind if there is no dogma to make the base idea. Is the same with right actvist that never become say the duties and reposabilities that give true validity to the rights and laws.

  2. keithnoback says:

    Ah, I am hurt! I don’t think that any version of theism can succeed or fail on evidence.
    Certain things associated with ‘guy in the sky’ versions of theism, e.g. a truly disembodied mind, appear to fail metaphysically.
    Certain versions of theism seem to be internally consistent, though they do not seem to be necessary in any way.
    In those cases, it comes down to what one feels satisfied with. I am satisfied with monism, that’s all.

  3. SteveK says:

    What does evidence for monism look like since you are satisfied with that?

  4. FZM says:

    Certain things associated with ‘guy in the sky’ versions of theism, e.g. a truly disembodied mind, appear to fail metaphysically.

    Is this basically a point from general philosophy of mind? In the past I’ve tended to think that a strong argument against Cartesian dualism is provided by the ‘causal closure of the physical’ principle, though apparently various arguments have been developed (e.g. by David Chalmers) against this ruling out the possibility of some kind of non-physical (as physical is usually understood) mental substance with the physical world.

    I haven’t had a chance to read any of them personally, but they sound interesting.

    Certain versions of theism seem to be internally consistent, though they do not seem to be necessary in any way.

    I guess the Aristotelian, neo-Aristotelian, Neo-Scholastic etc. argument must all fail then. I think these ones tend to reject the Cartesian kind of metaphysical framework which underpins a lot of philosophy of mind, as well as proving that the existence of something like God is necessary.

  5. JunkChuck says:

    I read things like ” the atheist is likely to double down on that self-serving self image” and shake my head. I wouldn’t wish atheism, a state I’ve occasionally described as a “slow erosion,” on anyone, for many of the reasons that Mr. Davis suggests, but can be summed up by considering that atheism is the last socially acceptable bigotry. I was raised in a strongly Methodist family and took the moral lessons to heart, and it was the hypocricies of the greater church–tempered only by the examples of some very fine individuals–that began the process of the mystical elements of that system being washed away. In the end, I don’t believe in my own primacy, beyond serving as a productive and positive member of my community, in a true “ashes to ashes” sense. A heavenly reward, a puppet-master in the sky, seems ludicrous–but in a way I envy those who believe it so strongly. I would like nothing more than to feel that I would rest in the arms of benevolent divinity, reunited with my friends, my loved ones. my favorite old dog. I’m jealous that I believe–as strongly and devoutly as my most spiritual friends believe in their secured immortality–that I’m destined to return to the mud from which I sprung. What is self-serving about that? I know I’m a dead man walking, and while I focus on doing my living in the here and now, rather than waiting on some future on a distant plane, the doom follows me. I try not to engage with Christians, who almost universally seem–and this befuddles me–offended by my personal beliefs, as if they somehow denigrate their own conviction, much in the way that some folks feel their traditional marriages are endangered by same sex marriage. Why is that? Does my mortality frighten them? Is the stink of death they disdain? If anyone has a right to outrage, it is the non-Christian element in this nation, including both atheists and followers of “false gods.” Christianity seeps into every facet of our lives–schools, government, media. It is exhausting, and I think you would find that most atheists are not seeking to convert, but rather than to be understood, to have a voice, and to be heard. Consider how lonely it can be, surrounded by the faithful, disdained for no better reason than “lack of faith.”

  6. JunkChuck says:

    Correction: early in the above, I meant to say that “bigotry against atheism is the last socially acceptable bigotry.” Sort of changes things a little!

  7. I found this statement interesting:

    First, the dogmatic nature of this position is evident to anyone who has actually argued with an atheist. After arguing with hundreds of atheists, I have yet to encounter one who will not back off the extreme nature of this dogmatic posture. That is, I cannot find an atheist who argues as follows:

    I agree there is some evidence for theism, enough such that theism can be considered a reasonable position. However, I find this evidence to be unconvincing and weak, thus I remain an atheist.

    But in this piece by Jeff Lowder, he takes the exact position you say atheists never take.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularoutpost/2016/1/15/why-do-so-many-people-have-a-winner-takes-all-approach-to-evidence-about-gods/

    There are real “old atheists” out there. The gnus just yell louder.

  8. Kevin says:

    I’m assuming he meant New Atheists, and did not specify.

  9. John Hendee says:

    Interesting page I just found on FB.
    Here is something I wrote recently.
    John Hendee; Chair of World Evangelism at Hope International University. One Man’s Perspective on Aggressive Atheists
    In this writing I want to share my thoughts about those I will choose to call the ‘aggressive, evangelizing, advocating atheism atheists’. (I’ll refer to them as AEAAA).
    They are a small fraction of the small atheist population in the world. They seem to be fighting for a cause, as those who are up in arms and feel challenged to attack, discredit and humiliate those who believe in God.
    They are actively trying to ‘convert’ other unbelievers in atheism to their way of thinking, or damage or destroy the faith of those who do believe in God (at least God of the Bible). I don’t see them going after Hindu’s, Muslims or Buddhists very much.
    Oh I know some of them tie it all to political issues and believers or churches having certain special rights or benefits from the government that others might not have, or their imposing their beliefs on them in the public sector. I’m not writing about those kinds of issues. That is a different issue.
    But suffice to say, I don’t need the ten commandments in public places, nativity scenes out and about, crosses on public lands etc. for me to maintain my faith in God. It isn’t built on those things; never has been, never will be. But for me the issue I’m addressing goes in a different direction.
    I’ve known many atheists over the years. Many have been fine people; responsible, upright citizens, good neighbors and work associates.
    I’ve seen many of them become Christians, much to their own initial surprise, but to their joy in life. C.S. Lewis, the author of the Chronicles of Narnia books and once an atheist, wrote of his conversion process in a book he wrote and titled, “Surprised by Joy.”
    I’ve found that there are a number of basic things that impact a person to become or declare themselves an atheist. I haven’t found anyone yet who has said they were ‘born’ an atheist.
    Many become atheists through a secular, evolutionary education. Any one of many science classes in high school or college seems to make it clear that one must choose evolution or God. Many former atheists, even scientists, will testify of that.
    There are those who become atheists as a result of some crisis, loss or suffering in their life. In their thinking, they couldn’t reconcile the tragic event with a God of love.
    Many become or remain atheists due to the Moral issue. They know that if they believe in God, they will have to change their life style. Since they don’t want to do that, it is ‘out’ with God. Oh, I’ve known many who ‘played this card.’ That was basically my approach when I was an unbeliever. My concept of God was skewed and wrong. I thought God was a kill joy. I’ve learned he is anything but that.
    Some people have used the inconsistency of other’s Christian life as an excuse to dismiss it all. That is what my dad did for 79 years of his life. He used among other things one of my married aunts who ran off with the choir director at her church as his reason for rejecting his need for God. “I’m better than she was.”
    I remember when I didn’t believe in God. I did my best to avoid those who did. I wanted nothing to do with them. From where I stood, they didn’t have anything I wanted, needed or was interested in. I had no interest in conversing or interacting with any of them about anything. I thought they were rather foolish and I had no need for them in my life.
    Over the years I have been amazed at the irritation, annoyance, bitterness and anger some atheists (AEAAA) hold for those who do believe in God. Avoiding them isn’t part of their strategy. A ‘head on assault’ is the plan. Take them down, humiliate and ridicule them for their silly ‘faith in God’.
    It is most interesting how some of them (AEAAA’S) seem to make it a life mission to challenge and discredit those who believe in God. You can even Google and find their efforts to do so related to well known Christian leaders who used to be atheists. You can Google most all former atheists who have become Christians and are well known; you will find someone who tries to discredit them, their conversion, their explanations, their arguments and reasons for becoming a Christian.
    It seems as if the AEAAA lay awake at night, irritated at what they see has happened in the lives of others who used to be counted among their ranks. They apparently feel that those who have become believers are ‘an affront, a personal embarrassment, a serious challenge’ to their own unbelief system. It appears they feel it necessary, their life task to ‘take them on’ in an effort to protect their own ‘unbelief system’. They will not be proven wrong by the other’s foolish decision or beliefs.
    Their irritation and annoyance (of the AEAAA’s) seem rather absurd to me. Maybe they are just ‘bored’ atheists. Is this the best they can find to do with the little bit of time they have left?
    I assume most all of them (AEAAA) don’t believe in God or life after death and that when they die it is over. Lights out. Get a dust pan and mop or broom to clean it all up. Finished, ended, over, end of game, lights out, plug is pulled, shut the door, it’s all she wrote, blank screen, nothing more, close the book.
    They could die tomorrow or the next day or live another 20 or 40 years before cancer, heart attack, or something gets them. It is reported that about 54,000,000 people die every year. Sooner or later they will be in that report.
    That being the case whatever time they have left IS IT!
    What is absolutely amazing to me is why anyone who truly believes that would waste 5 minutes, 5 hours, days, weeks, or months: Writing books, developing arguments for their position, Preparing and giving speeches, Debating others, formally or informally, Posting on FB, Challenging those who don’t agree with them, Holding protests, or campaigns with banners, etc. Trying to discredit those who do believe, Getting a degree so they can teach somewhere propagating their views as they try to make their own converts to their non-faith (faith that there is nothing more.).
    So what if they win the argument that it all ends when you die? Give them a trophy. Big deal. Good grief. What an empty victory.
    If I believed what they do, (and I used to) I would consider it an absurd, incredible, pathetic, boring, useless waste of the little bit of time that I had left, whatever time that was, trying to convince others they are wrong in believing that there is life after death.
    Who gives a hoot if others believe it or not. I wouldn’t want to waste my precious little bit of time trying to convince them that they are wrong instead of spending my time doing something I found fun, pleasurable, enjoyable, etc. So I’m trying to convince others that there is NO hope after they die?,…..again…..how bored can you get?
    How pathetic it must seem to them (AEAAA) to watch others live out their life thinking there is something more. I guess they feel a ‘moral obligation’ to rescue those foolish ones from their pathetic beliefs. Again, who gives a hoot?
    So what if they (AEAAA) feel judged by some of them (believers) and their life style. Who gives a X#@&# what anyone else believes.
    Oh, so spending my time trying to convince others that there is NO hope is honorable? Ya. Sure. Now that is surely a distorted view of honor. What difference does it make if I persuade some of them into believing that when we all die, it is over?
    What a life mission! What Good NEWS I have for them! “There is NO hope.” Is their drive in converting people from this false hope driven by love and compassion for those poor creatures of faith? How moving! How inspiring! How rewarding! How fulfilling. How loving. Don’t you feel better now?
    And to think, instead of eating, drinking, drugging, sexing, etc. you were sacrificing your precious little time to convince humanity that they have no HOPE. What an exciting life mission. “Oh it gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.”
    Oh the gratitude others must have for being educated in the knowledge that they are about to return to a pile of ‘star dust’. You can go to sleep at night feeling satisfied you made it clear to others that when they die, it is all over. Poof.
    Ya, sure. If it wasn’t so sad, I would say it is pathetically hilarious. But there is nothing hilarious about it.
    Now, if the AEAAA’s are right and it all ends with death, we all lose at that point. But I guess no one will know they lost. For some, thinking they will go into oblivion is probably assurance for them in a weird way.
    But if the ‘God believers’ are right then the AEAAA’s lose big time. The Bible speaks of life after death without God as being “outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.” I assume that means the people who are there are grieving over their bad decision. And to think of what they could have had.
    The amazing thing is that there IS HOPE, even for AEEEA’s. Their not believing in God or life after death doesn’t eliminate it all.
    But it would be well worth their (AEAAA’s) time to find a reasonable person, a believer, who is educated in the faith, and sit down with them and listen with an open mind and heart.
    Take a serious look at it.
    There are many worthwhile videos to watch on YouTube that will help show there is good reason to believe the Christian message unless you have a ‘locked in’, predisposed mindset that nothing can change. The interesting thing is that many of these videos are of people who used to be atheists.
    Josh McDowell ; Josh was an atheist who set out to disprove Christianity. You can see and hear his life story by going to YouTube and look for: Josh McDowell Story (updated). You can also see other videos of his on YouTube; The Bible is True; Prophesies Jesus Fulfilled; Is the Bible Reliable and Accurate?
    Lee Strobel; Lee was an atheist. You can find many of his videos on YouTube; Atheist to Evangelical; The last Bible Verse I read as an Atheist; The case for Christ; the Case for a Creator
    Dr. David Wood; David was an atheist. You can find many of his videos on YouTube; Why I am a Christian; Atheism, Islam and the Dawkins Dilema.
    Dr. Jonathan Safarti; He is a physicist with many videos on YouTube; The Greatest Hoax on Earth, 1 or 2
    The Atheist Delusion; a 60 minute video on YouTube. Very interesting.

  10. FZM says:

    Junkchuck,

    I try not to engage with Christians, who almost universally seem–and this befuddles me–offended by my personal beliefs, as if they somehow denigrate their own conviction

    If your personal beliefs about Christianity are along the lines of this:

    A heavenly reward, a puppet-master in the sky, seems ludicrous

    …and you tell Christians that this is your idea of their beliefs they may start to feel that your beliefs denigrate their own convictions.

    If anyone has a right to outrage, it is the non-Christian element in this nation, including both atheists and followers of “false gods.”

    Believers in religions other than Christianity might also get outraged if it looked like atheists were instrumentalising them and their beliefs to leverage/promote atheism.

  11. Michael says:

    I don’t think that any version of theism can succeed or fail on evidence.

    That’s fine. But Kevin David thinks it does and so do many, many atheists. That is what this blog post is responding to.

  12. Michael says:

    I’m jealous that I believe–as strongly and devoutly as my most spiritual friends believe in their secured immortality–that I’m destined to return to the mud from which I sprung. What is self-serving about that?

    That is not what I was responding to. The self-serving posture was quoted above:

    Atheism isn’t something people get recruited into or attracted to from an ideological perspective. It has no dogma or doctrine. Atheism is a conclusion based on a lack of evidence. No one decides to become an atheist because it’s glamorous. Why would you willingly join a minority position that is attached to an unshakable stigma and is legally discriminated against? We’re not “giving up on God” or “angry at God” or any of those other assertions. We simply used critical thinking to come to the conclusion that the supernatural folklore of millennia ago is unfounded and archaic.

  13. Michael says:

    But in this piece by Jeff Lowder, he takes the exact position you say atheists never take.

    I didn’t take that strong, universal position. I simply shared my own experience: “After arguing with hundreds of atheists, I have yet to encounter one who will not back off the extreme nature of this dogmatic posture. That is, I cannot find an atheist who argues as follows…..”

    After reading that blog post, Jeff is indeed someone who doesn’t adopt the extreme “no evidence” position. I was impressed. But the exception does not prove the rule.

  14. Talon says:

    After reading that blog post, Jeff is indeed someone who doesn’t adopt the extreme “no evidence” position. I was impressed. But the exception does not prove the rule.

    I second this. JJ. Lowder is fairly unusual among vocal atheists, especially online; for every Lowder there are at least 4 Myers or Loftus types, a few self promoting pseudo-intellectuals like Sam Harris and at least one conspiracy kool-aid Christ-Myther with Zeitgeist and the poorly sourced works of Acharya S. memorized. Lowder represents a style of atheism that went out of fashion when Madalyn O’Hair appeared, one that focuses more on argument and exchange and less on trading in stereotypes, strawmen, ad hominems and outrage at conservative religious “troglodytes”.

    Vic Reppert has more patience than most, he graciously hosted 2 rambling atheist clowns (im-skeptical and Papa Linton) at his blog for quite some time before finally asking them to stop commenting. Sadly, Linton and Skeppy are far closer to the average vocal atheist than Lowder.

  15. TFBW says:

    JunkChuck said:

    Correction: early in the above, I meant to say that “bigotry against atheism is the last socially acceptable bigotry.” Sort of changes things a little!

    Funny — I thought it was more accurate the first time around. Dawkins promotes anti-Christian bigotry from the main stage and atheists cheer him. Some object when he promotes anti-Muslim bigotry, calling it “Islamophobia.” Dawkins says that’s not a word. Apparently “Christophobia” isn’t in any atheist’s vocabulary, though.

  16. keithnoback says:

    Michael,
    I know, but surely you don’t think those guys encompass all those who are not theists, or the non-theistic philosophies. I don’t think Creflo Dollar is the last word in theology.
    SteveK,
    No evidence, rather, the interaction problem and what it implies. Can you present me with a truly dualistic schema? I agree with Chalmers when he says, “When someone speaks of a separates substance, I’m not sure what they mean…” (slight paraphrase).
    FZM,
    I think those ideas get to the meat of the problem. They all seem to default (after much argumentation) to the notion of a big teleology. Regarding existence, something meant to do that. I don’t think that we can ask that question (What is it all about?) of existence, but for those who think we can, theism provides a working hypothesis. Yet it does not resolve the very same questions about God – Why is the deity there? What was the intent behind the structure? How is the world sustained? All of these questions cannot be made sensible when applied to this version of God.
    Why not stop at Sartre’s epistemological position: existence precedes essence?

  17. GRA says:

    The young woman in that youtube video promoted by Dawkins is Jaclyn Glenn. No wonder her tone is the way it is: She knows she’s supported by Dawkins so she kicks it up a notch to please her idol. It all sorta makes sense now.

  18. pennywit says:

    Where do you stand on Kevin Davis’s desire for greater communication and understanding between theist and atheist? It seems to me that you ignore the forest in favor of burning the trees.

  19. Kevin says:

    Pennywit,

    Sounds like an excellent idea that will be utterly rejected by 100 percent of New Atheists. They aren’t interested in dialogue.

  20. pennywit says:

    Kevin Davis seems interested in it …

  21. TFBW says:

    Oh, come on, pennywit. Criticism of particular claims made by a person does not imply opposition to everything that they have ever claimed. What’s with the “burning the trees” hyperbole? That said, it’s hard to take a stance on something which is simply not in evidence here. I gather Davis has written a book called “Understanding an Atheist” (as though atheism were a unified thing any more than theism is a unified thing), but that’s as much as I can determine from reading the linked article. You might want to raise the question in a context where the details of the thing you want to discuss are actually part of the subject matter, rather than being tangentially related.

  22. pennywit says:

    *Sigh*. It seems to me that Kevin Davis went to the Lutheran event with the specific intent to engage in dialogue with Christians. Rather than discuss that overall goal or assess whether Davis is successful in his endeavor, this blog entry seems concerned with attacking Davis on small-bore elements of his narration.

  23. TFBW says:

    So you think we should overlook the inaccuracies in his claims and focus on how nice it was of him to go with “intent to engage in dialogue?” If not that, then what, exactly? In his own words, he went to “see what their perspective was as well as seize the opportunity to shed some light on any misconceptions that may be discussed.” That seems fair enough, but not worthy of special praise or immunity from criticism.

  24. pennywit says:

    So you think we should overlook the inaccuracies in his claims and focus on how nice it was of him to go with “intent to engage in dialogue?”

    Hardly. I just think this commentary’s small-bore focus completely ignores Kevin Davis’s overall mission, and that makes this commentary weaker overall. A few things I observe about Davis:

    * If Davis really wanted to observe Christians’ thoughts about atheists, he should have been a bit more incognito.

    * Did he attempt to start dialogue, or was he interested in promoting his book?

    * Did Davis’s visit and his subsequent write-up promote harmony (or at least detente) between atheists and theists, or did he simply reinforce existing stereotypes?

    I don’t think that zeroing in on a few of Davis’s statements, without a greater examination of their context, really provides anything new or substantive.

  25. Kevin says:

    I didn’t see anything in the link indicating that Kevin Davis is a New Atheist. New Atheism is a form of anti-theism that has almost as much contempt for so-called “accomodationists” or, the more pejorative term for atheists who want to cooperate with theists, “faitheists”. Davis seems to be one of those that Jerry Coyne and Sam Harris would attack.

  26. Dhay says:

    Pennywit > Where do you stand on Kevin Davis’s desire for greater communication and understanding between theist and atheist?

    I’ll give my personal answer: Kevin Davis seems a nice enough chap, judging by his linked long blog post and by the description on Amazon of his book, Understanding an Atheist: A Practical Guide to Relating to Nonbelievers, which is plainly aimed at promoting understanding rather than division. So power to his elbow regarding his desire for greater communication and understanding between theist and atheist.

    I note that his mere five Amazon reviews in two and a half years (only one of which was a verified purchase) indicates that his moderate stance is not being bought and owned by anything like the numbers who buy into the books of New Atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Jerry Coyne, Peter Boghossian and John Loftus.

    Davis’ rejection of his former Christianity because of “lack of evidence” – an insufficiency to convince him? – probably isn’t the same as the New Atheists’ rather extreme claim of no evidence; this latter is exemplified by Boghossian’s “Nada. Zip. Nothing.”:

    In the next [PowerPoint] slide I’ve compiled a comprehensive, historical and contemporary list of all of the evidence and all of the reasons that one should consider when examining whether or not there’s a god or gods. [Blank slide, laughter and applause.] There is no evidence. Nada. Zip. Nothing.

    https://ffrf.org/outreach/item/16754-think-what-would-make-you-into-a-believer

    Davis’ wish for mutual understanding contrasts strongly with the scorn and derision and intense dislike of it’s-OK-to-get-along-together accommodationists™ that characterises (defines) the typical New Atheist – they are poles apart.

  27. TFBW says:

    @pennywit:

    I just think this commentary’s small-bore focus completely ignores Kevin Davis’s overall mission, and that makes this commentary weaker overall.

    That’s because the post isn’t about Kevin Davis per se, but rather about the common atheist claims (e.g. that “atheism is a conclusion based on a lack of evidence”) which Kevin just happens to have repeated in his attempts to “correct misconceptions”. Basically what you’re saying is that the post should have been about something else — i.e. you want to change the subject. Give over — the blog owner gets to decide what to talk about. You’re not obliged to follow, and unsolicited advice of this sort is going to get old very quickly.

  28. Michael says:

    pennywit: Sigh*. It seems to me that Kevin Davis went to the Lutheran event with the specific intent to engage in dialogue with Christians. Rather than discuss that overall goal or assess whether Davis is successful in his endeavor, this blog entry seems concerned with attacking Davis on small-bore elements of his narration.

    That’s an odd complaint. I was not focused on grading some relatively unknown atheist on his personal mission. I was focused on a the very common talking points he employed. I pointed out the errors and fatal flaw in those talking points and the points I make would apply to thousands of atheists, not just Davis. I’m focused on the larger picture.

  29. jbsptfn says:

    TALON: Vic Reppert has more patience than most, he graciously hosted 2 rambling atheist clowns (im-skeptical and Papa Linton) at his blog for quite some time before finally asking them to stop commenting. Sadly, Linton and Skeppy are far closer to the average vocal atheist than Lowder.

    You should check this out:
    http://christiancadre.blogspot.com/

    There are two entries on the first page that have to deal with Skeppy and his willful ignorance of Joe Hinman’s book.

  30. Pingback: A Critical Look at Common Atheist Talking Points | A disciple's study

  31. Dhay says:

    John Hendee > I’ve found that there are a number of basic things that impact a person to become or declare themselves an atheist. I haven’t found anyone yet who has said they were ‘born’ an atheist.

    Out of a wall of type, which I was reluctant to wade through, those two sentences caught my eye. But:

    I’ll restate it: atheism is a lack of belief in gods. You were an atheist at birth; we all were. Nobody is born believing in a god, just as nobody is born believing in Bigfoot. In fact, you’d never even know what Bigfoot is if nobody created this creature.

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/dawkins-7-point-scale/#comment-8212

    And in subsequent responses by the same person:

    Everyone is an atheist by default, nobody is born believing that any gods exist.
    … and …
    What I’m saying is that everyone is born an atheist, and that atheism is simply the lack of belief in gods. Since nobody is born believing in gods, atheism is the default position.

    I think you’ve found someone now.

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