An introduction


In the past, a few theist bloggers have been featured on this site for different reasons but mainly because they either censor comments they don’t like or engage in a hit and run game where they make outlandish claims about atheism and when these are questioned they don’t respond. Today I am introducing an apologist, Debilis, who I must say is not guilty of the above crimes and to her credit I must say she engages with anyone who comments on her posts.

She is being featured here, as you will notice when you visit her blog, because of her obsession with creating a caricature atheist whom she then argues against and obviously ends up showing that atheists generally and new atheists specifically are either dishonest, uneducated on Christianity and many other faults she can find.

Having read most of her posts, I think her greatest failing is a misunderstanding of atheists and atheism in general. Atheists are like every other human being, maybe a bit more rational, but victims to the same frailties and flaws attendant to members of our species. We are only united in lacking a belief in gods, that is it. Again to use Dawkins, Dennette, Harris, Ayaan Hirsi and the late Hitchens as a standard of measure of who atheists should be is simply ridiculous. It should interest her that the many books I have read on atheism are not written by the above group and that if she, as she claims to be, were intellectually honest she could look further than she has done. In several posts, she has offered response to Russell’s why am not a Christian and has used it as a launching pad for attacking New Atheists[whoever these are]. In her posts you will notice her vitriol is aimed at New Atheists though she doesn’t say where these group of atheists differ from old atheists.

She says this of atheists

The confidence and scorn with which they attack all religion is wildly out of proportion with the (lack of) evidence and logical rigor they provide as support for their claims.

and does not provide evidence to support the claim that we don’t provide evidence. On the discussion of whether god exists, the theist has failed to define a coherent god [ she believes in the god of classical theism; this will be addressed at the end of this post], having failed at the definitions they have failed to show evidence for this god[this is impossible without a coherent god], and lastly have failed to show that theism is true.  The atheist [talking for myself and those I know] have to be confident because we know what we are talking about and can defend it. So she must indeed show where we fail or withdraw.

[…] a sense of loss when I think about the shallowness of the modern discussion on religion.

What shallowness is she referencing here? Who is being shallow? And how deep does she want us to get?

And the New Atheists, for all their sloppiness of thought, their commitment to rhetoric over rationality, and their refusal to understand the subject being discussed, have forced the Church to think.

Anytime a person in the church dares to think for themselves they end up quitting. As proof of this there is the Clergy project, an online group of former church ministers who no longer hold to supernatural beliefs. I have linked posts by Eric at Choice in dying, a former church pastor who writes mainly about the right to assisted dying but also on atheism. So to call atheists sloppy without providing proof is condescending to say the least and an insult to our [atheists] collective intelligence.

That is, a group of raging atheists calling Christians moronic, while using arguments that just a little study could overcome…

What arguments are these? Atheists have been classified as being second only to rapists, so don’t worry being called moronic at least they[atheists] can defend their use of invective against Christians and whilst saying this, I hardly meet atheists calling you moron.

They may well have set in motion events which will lead to theism being stereotyped as the intellectual position.

When this happens it will no longer be theism.

In order not to make this post longer, allow me to discuss the god of classical theism and its problems. I know this is the god she refers to her in her posts[ she told me].

The god of classical theism has the following qualities

  1. Transcendence
  2. Omnipotence
  3. Omniscience
  4. Omnipresence
  5. Absolute benevolence

 The following five qualities can not coherently be held by one person/ being. Transcendence means out of time and space and omnipresence means he is everywhere all the time. So either this god is beyond time and space and impersonal and having no need to create the universe[immutable and self-sufficient] or he is everywhere all the time.

Can god do something that is logically impossible? Or better still can god create a stone he can’t lift. If he can’t do this, it rules out the omnipotence argument and all we then can say that of this god is that it can only do logically possible things which again it has failed to do e.g it is logically possible for an all-powerful god to prevent an earthquake, something this god has failed to do even once.

If god knows everything, that is the present, the past and the future, then  he can’t change it. Whence then is the omnipotence? The three qualities, that is, omnipotence, omnibenevolence and omniscience can’t be coherently possessed by one individual.

As I said in the beginning of this post, the Christian apologist has their work clearly marked out;

  1. They have to define a coherent god
  2. show that such a god exists

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

52 thoughts on “An introduction

  1. Mordanicus says:

    As a religious atheist I do not oppose religion as such, the only thing I do is questioning certain believes (including my own) through the use of logic. In fact most atheist (both religious and secular) do not hate religion or god, however they are asking whether such believes are logically tenable or whether we should rejects them. This is something which some theist do understand, or not willing to understand.

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    • Hey Mordanicus,

      Could you please define “religious atheist”? I’m sorry, I’m just a little confused about your terminology.

      Thanks in advance

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      • Mordanicus says:

        A religious atheist is a religious person who lacks a believe in god.

        The obvious question is of course what constitutes a religion and hence what a religious person is. For me religion consist of being a good person, feeling to be part of the universe/nature and acceptance of eventual death.

        This concept of religion does not include the existence of god(s) nor the need to worship him/them.

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  2. archaeopteryx1 says:

    Here’s a group who appears to share Debillis’ views: http://wonkette.com/509246/sundays-with-the-christianists-home-schooled-biology-so-bad-it-lost-a-lawsuit#more-509246

    The article is simply too long to repost here, hence the link.

    arch

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  3. john zande says:

    What a silly little camper she is…

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  4. esog87 says:

    I really enjoyed this post. It is frustrating beyond belief when someone on either side of the argument does not make an intelligent case. Thank you for laying out some of the logical problems with a classical theism in a relatively easy to understand way.

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  5. So you say theists make outlandish claims, and then you say “Anytime a person in the church dares to think for themselves they end up quitting.” Hypocrite much?

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    • makagutu says:

      Where is the hypocrisy James? Did you visit the clergy project page or choice in dying or do you want more examples?
      And can you respond to the two questions at the end of the post?

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      • I plainly pointed out your hypocrisy and you failed to respond.

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        • makagutu says:

          How did I fail to respond? I said every time a person in the church begins to think for themselves they quit and gave examples to support that. I have asked you do you want more examples.
          Can you answer the two questions at the end of the post?

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          • It’s hypocritical to accuse people of being outlandish and then say things that are outlandish. Some of the greatest minds in history are Christian voices. You’re ridiculous.

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            • makagutu says:

              Were they great voices because they were Christian or for some other reason and can you name them?
              What do you teach your congregation? I have asked you to answer two simple questions, you still ignore them and are dwelling on my claim on Christians which I am not going to withdraw so that you know.

              And you are a fine example of what I am referring to.

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              • You’re an example of a hypocrite, and I’m not going to answer your question until you answer mine.

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                • makagutu says:

                  The rule on commenting on this blog is you be civil and as long as you keep to that we have no problem.
                  You call me a hypocrite and insist I haven’t answered your questions. I answered your questions and I asked you if you needed more evidence you chose to stfu!
                  You can preach to your sheeples, but when you come here and make claims you must be ready to support them. So either you have an answer to my question or you don’t and are a fraud for preaching things you don’t believe.

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                  • Mordanicus says:

                    Many theists are not interested in debating, in an academic sense, but in proselytising and when they are confronted who don’t for their fallacious reasoning, they often angry and quit. The point is that many theists are believers for psychological reasons instead of rational arguments, this make debating them difficult.

                    In Dutch we have an expression for those who quit a discussion when they realise there are loosing: taking a cowardly retreat (de laffe aftocht nemen).

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  6. Debilis says:

    I’ll give this one an overall positive.

    Obviously, I disagree with much you’ve said, but it is definitely worth noting that many of the comments I’ve made are only true of a certain type of atheist. I’d thought I’d made that clear, but apologies if I did not.

    Also, I’m in full agreement that more should be said. I had been thinking of my posts as conversation starters, not final words on any subject.

    On those grounds, I appreciate the response, and think we might agree on more than it seems.

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    • makagutu says:

      Granted, I allow you to disagree but would you be kind as to tell me where you disagree.
      I appreciate your response and look forward to further discussion.

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      • Debilis says:

        Fair enough.

        1. As to the first quotation, I agree that I didn’t provide evidence there, but do feel that it is widely available on the internet. One of my favorite examples is the famous Courtier’s Reply meme, in which both Richard Dawkins and P.Z. Myers defend the idea of remaining ignorant of the subject they are discussing.

        2. As to who is being shallow, Dawkins and Meyers (and the bulk of their fans I’ve encountered), among others.

        3. It is more than a bit bold to say that “anytime a person in the church dares to think for themselves they end up quitting”. Do you have any evidence at all for this?

        Wouldn’t philosophers who convert from atheism to theism (such as Anthony Flew and Edward Feser) disconfirm this?

        I have to assume that you don’t seriously mean any, but I haven’t yet even seen evidence for most. Is there any evidence at all for that?

        4. As to the easiness of overcoming their arguments, I think Dawkins’ Boeing 747 Gambit is a good example. There is no logical law of inference that could draw the conclusion from the premises, and the “who designed the designer” presumes, rather than shows, that God was created. It doesn’t take much study to see the problem with this argument.

        5. Nor, moving on, do I see any reason why theism being seen as the intellectual position would make it something other than theism. This doesn’t seem to follow at all.

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        • makagutu says:

          Hey,
          5. is it possible to maintain theism as an intellectual position? I think it is not because it requires believing in things hoped for, you need faith not reason.

          4. Dawkins is responding to C.S Lewis who I think raised the Boeing Gambit, just as the priest who raised the watchmaker argument. So you must show me how Dawkins’ argument is false.

          3. well, you mention Anthony Flew an interesting person because last I checked he didn’t believe in a personal god. Two his conversion happened at a very late stage in life such that to use him as a defense can be classified as lame. You ask for evidence and it is part of the post. I linked two articles, did you read them? I can go and name many more. Anyone who was raised religious, yours truly included, and is now an atheist support my claim. Read Jean Meslier, a few of his articles appear on this blog. You may find them interesting.

          2. in what is Dawkins and PZ shallow? I need help with this really.

          1. so your criticism should be of Dawkins and PZ not all atheists.

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          • Debilis says:

            Greetings once again, and here we go:

            5. I think this is a misunderstanding of faith.
            Many abuse the term, but it doesn’t counter reason. It simply means personal commitment to what one claims intellectually.

            4. By Dawkins’ own definition, God isn’t complex (because God is not made out of parts, arranged or otherwise).
            It also assumes that God came into being. That is, it is an argument against the probability of something as “complex” as God coming into being.

            3. I’m not sure why “late in life” makes this “lame”, unless you are arguing that he did this simply out of fear of death. This being the case, you should note again that he didn’t believe in a personal God. His new position wouldn’t have been any more comforting than atheism.

            But, no, every convert to atheism is not evidence. First, this is because you said “anytime” meaning that you need to show that all people who are not atheists have never thought critically. Those who have become atheists would only relevant if you’d said “many times”.

            Nor do we have any way of knowing what percentage of conversions to atheism are based in such thought, and what other factors are at play here. It is terribly oversimplified (and unscientific) to simply ignore these complications.

            2. First, in the fact that they openly defend claiming to refute experts in a field without actually studying it. That is intellectually shallow.

            1. My criticism was of Dawkins and PZ (and their fans), not of all atheists.

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            • makagutu says:

              Greetings and hope you are well.
              5. I don’t know how you claim we abuse the term faith unless you have a new definition of the word.

              4. Where is Dawkins wrong? Theists and theologians have said god is incorporeal, without parts, without passions, unchangeable and immutable. Seriously, you pick the wrong arguments to attack. I believe Sir Isaac Newton was religious, you should read what he thought god was and then we could have this discussion.

              3. I didn’t mention that he had a fear of death, not really, on the contrary, there is evidence that suggests he had lost much of his rational faculties and though a number of people don’t trust wikipedia, I think you can read the wikipedia entry on Flew as a start.

              so are you suggesting it is possible for one who has been a theist to become an atheist without some critical thought whatever the cause that leads to this person having such thoughts? I don’t think you mean that really!

              2. experts in what field? Please I hope you don’t mean theology because you can’t be an expert in the study of nothing. Are you suggesting that before i critique Islam I have to be an Imam?

              1. Granted

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              • archaeopteryx1 says:

                Mak – RE: “I don’t know how you claim we abuse the term faith unless you have a new definition of the word.”

                She redefines terms to suit her needs – see her redefinition of “evidence” —

                arch

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                • Debilis says:

                  It seems a little odd that the atheists who criticize me for wanting to define “faith” tend to be the same one’s who insist that it should be atheists, not theists, who define “atheism”.

                  But, if you want to put forward definitions (of any of these words), I’ll run with them. But you need to show why faith/evidence, by your definition, is relevant to the discussion.

                  So far, I’ve not been given a reason to think this.

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                  • makagutu says:

                    Not exactly, that is not his point. We haven’t stopped you from defining any word into existence, no what we are saying is you are not going to shift definitions to suit you. And on atheism you can define it all you want as long as your definition reads a lack of belief in the existence of gods.

                    But you need to show why faith/evidence, by your definition, is relevant to the discussion.

                    It is relevant that definitions or meaning of words are agreed on or it will be a case of trying to shoot randomly hoping that one bullet will hit the bull’s eye! I don’t think that is your intention.

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                    • Debilis says:

                      I don’t think I have shifted definitions. I’m using the same one’s I’ve been using since long before I ever had a debate with an atheist (which was the first time I ever heard the “belief without evidence” definition).

                      But saying “you can define all you want, so long as you use this definition” is insisting on a definition. That’s fine, but it is strange to then be surprised if I say “you can define faith all you want, so long as your definition reads accepting personally what you believe intellectually“.

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              • Debilis says:

                I appreciate the thoughts, as always.
                But, as for a response:

                5. I define faith as “personal commitment to what one believes intellectually”.
                By that understanding, I don’t see any reason to think that faith and reason run counter to one another.

                4. Yes, theologians have said God is timeless and without parts. For Dawkins, then, to say that God’s coming into existence is improbable because he is a complex arrangement of parts is a complete non-sequitur. He would know this if he were to read on the subject.

                3. I am not weighing in on why people become atheists at this point. I was simply arguing with the idea that there does not exist one person on this planet who has thought for his/her self and remained a theist. Not even one? I’d definitely want support for that.

                2. I do mean theology. Whether or not it is “the study of nothing” is exactly what is at issue. One would think that Dawkins should bother to check how God is being defined before claiming to settle the question of whether or not he exists.

                But no, I did not say you need to be an Imam in order to refute Islam; nor did I claim that you need to be a priest/pastor to refute Christianity. I claimed that demanding that one doesn’t have to look into what a given religion actually claims in order to refute it is intellectually shallow.

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                • makagutu says:

                  Hope you are well today. Just one side issue first, I referred to you as she coz I wasn’t sure. Hope you didn’t offense, there was no malicious intent.

                  5. I don’t know what you mean when you say a personal commitment to what one believes intellectually. It simply doesn’t make sense. You believe something because you are convicted about its truth nothing more nothing less. Faith requires you believe without evidence, reason requires you question your beliefs. Many theists I interact with, and they are many, insist they question their beliefs. Doubt for the believer is misunderstood and taken to mean the same thing with the position of the skeptic and it really isn’t the same. Here, this topic has been covered.

                  4. You lost me. In the response that you gave earlier you said Dawkins has said god is simple because it has no parts now you say the same Dawkins has said god is complex. Which is which and where is the reference. I’d do well to read for myself.

                  3. You think for yourself on many things[this is also in doubt, I don’t think we think]. What am referring is no one has thought for himself about the truth of any religion and remained a theist, if there are those who remained, then those are exceptions.

                  2. Last I looked at The Catholic Encyclopedia, they define theology as the study of the nature of god. The reason I call theology study of nothing is the same theologians when it suits them say the nature of god is unknown, they have said god can’t be comprehended by human minds, and they haven’t moved from the position advanced by Anselm in the C13. What then are they studying? What conclusions have they made, what predictions? Nothing. So Dawkins is within his rights to say what he says because no one has defined god coherently. If there be such a coherent definition, I will be glad to look at it.

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                  • Debilis says:

                    No, I wasn’t offended. I’ve been trying to keep my responses short, and decided it wasn’t really even worth mention.
                    So, no harm done.

                    Let’s see here:
                    5. The idea is that people often state things, but the belief is incomplete (i.e. “I believe that this parachute is completely safe, but I won’t jump out of the plane”). Faith is putting these two sides of ourselves into synch.
                    So, no faith does not require that you believe without evidence. I’ve never heard any theist support that idea.

                    4. Dawkins claims that God is complex in “The God Delusion”, it is pivotal to his “Boeing 747 Gambit”. But, God is simple according to the definition he gives.

                    So, yes, he does seem to be saying both. This is part of the reason why I reject the argument.

                    3. If there are exceptions, then “anytime” is not justified. But I’m not sure how you know what rough percentage of theists have thought freely about the truth of their religion. I don’t claim to know which is the more common situation, and wonder what information would support the idea here.

                    2. Yes, theology is the study of the nature of God. Knowing what sort of thing God is defined to be would be germane to determining whether or not exists. If Dawkins claims that there is no coherent definition of God, then he has no reason to make probability claims about God’s existence.

                    I agree that there are many unresolved questions about God’s nature, but I don’t know of any theologian who claims that God’s nature is simply unknown.

                    Okay, done.
                    I’ve been pleased with this discussion (and hope you are as well).

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                    • makagutu says:

                      Oh yes, have been pleased with the discussion. You are most civil even when we disagree unlike some people like the one directly below this comment who instead of contributing to debate hurls invective then runs away!
                      I think we can continue the debate later on each of the topics

                      Like

  7. “New atheist” is a marketing buzz phrase of theists these days. Nothing more. With any “movement” there are always going to be followers who do not have the time or desire to study all the arguments. This will always be the case as long as we live in a free market society.

    I find it amusing that theists use this buzz phrase when the OVERWHELMING majority of theists have not put thought one into their beliefs.

    This person you are highlighting admits that “new atheist” is a mere conversation starter on get blog. A hype generator. Yet this person ridicules others for making ridiculous claims.

    When it comes down to it – does it matter what the argument is for atheism? I don’t think it does. It only matters to the theist who is desperately clinging to a dying system. Making excuses and distracting themselves with fallacies in language.

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    • makagutu says:

      I think the word is pejorative and used by theist apologists who do not want to address the atheists’ arguments. And in a way they want to appear sophisticated in the process.

      Like

  8. Mike says:

    I guess you need to edit your post as Delibis is a He and not a She. I remember from his comment that he said something like “he always makes fun of it with his wife” so I guess Delibis is a HE 🙂

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      I saw that and I will.

      Like

    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      Debilis was called, “she” in Mak’s original, opening statement, and I just took it from there – I will use a different personal pronoun in the future, but it’s not worth going back and correcting Thanks for the heads up, Mike!

      arch

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