why it is bad to misrepresent your opponent when you are ignorant about her ways!


I apologize for the mouthful title of this post, I just couldn’t think of a better one to capture what it is I want to deal with. I was on my many strolls on the internet when I came across a post that decries anti-theists ignorance of religion but came out to show the author seems to be ignorant of atheists or has created a strawman to attack. That this is the case is evident in almost every paragraph, if not all of them.

The post starts thus

Ever since the Enlightenment we have held the rather dumb idea that not having a religion makes you smarter and having one makes you stupid

in which the author is wrong for saying it is a dumb idea. Only the educated are free of superstition and as such whatever little that can be said of the atheist, is, there is one point where she is smarter than the theist and that is with regards to matters of religion. Anyone who applies a little common sense to religion will easily see the folly in it. Am not going to say the religious is stupid, no, just that as long as he is religious, there is an area of his/her life to which he has not applied common sense and he would do himself good if he took time off to examine her religious claims.

We are told

 they assume that the different religions are false, rather than actually argue that they are false

The theist has made a claim about his religion. A theist of a different walk has a belief contrary to the one held by the first theist. And with differing sects and denominations, we have a situation where either all of them are right or are all false or one is right and the rest are all false but to know which is the right one then remains the only challenge to be overcome. The theist who thinks her religion is the valid one has the onus of showing us why this is so.

The author takes issue with atheists for writing a lot about some religions more than others. He writes

there is the fact that they argue against some religions more than others. They certainly argue more against Islam than against Buddhism.

Whereas am an equal opportunity non- believer, I have not met a person of Buddhist persuasion in my entire short life but I am surrounded by Christians everywhere. There is almost a church every where you turn. At the same time, the Christians are trying to have their beliefs made into law. The Hindus are not trying to do this. The Buddhists are not trying to do this. Unless the Christians acknowledge or are willing to acknowledge that their should be separation of church and state, am afraid, I will still have to write about it.

You know a person is in the deep end of numskull when they write

Another thing they do is assume that science somehow disproves God rather than actually showing how.

Science, construed broadly, only deals with testable claims. If you claim your god is actively involved in the events that happen around us, then science can test for that and if there is no evidence of supernatural intervention, then it can be said with confidence that science has disproved the necessity of the god hypothesis. It doesn’t need to do anything beyond that.

There is always the claim made requiring atheists to first have read religious books before they can criticize religion. The OP writes

Anti-theists also show a constant ignorance about religion. For instance, they attack Islam without even having read the Qur’an

You would expect that a person on a mission to show how wrong atheists are would not fall into the trap of committing such fallacies or at least would not be ignorant of Courtier’s reply. You don’t need to be versed in the Koran to critique Islam, far from it. The followers of Mo [piss be upon him] make claims about their deity or their prophet for which nothing in way of a demonstration has been proffered. You don’t need to read the Koran to know that Islam treats one half of the human species as being subordinate to the other half.

And he/she displays their ignorance more when they write

They also do not know anything about the Christian tradition of giving up all your material possessions and living an austere life in service of everyone else. Really, many do not even seem to know about the existence of saints.

We know because it is written, however, the jury is out for the number of Christians who live as described by this fellow. And we also know that the church has designated as saints some men and women for reasons decided on by themselves. However, the recognition of an individual to have lived an exemplary life is not proof of the validity of the belief but only shows how the deeply the individual was convicted.

The author writes

[..] that antitheists are more moral is proof that they are not as intelligent as they think they are

in which it is evident the author is not informed on what he/she is arguing about. When atheists say they are more moral than the believer, it is generally used to imply that their motivation for doing good is not based on a fear of deities but is based on our duties and responsibilities to those we live around. How this negates the intelligence of the atheist is yet to be demonstrated.

How do

friars and sisters dedicated to helping the poor

prove them wrong?

And then we have the often repeated line of atheist killers. We are told

And the atheist mass killers prove that atheism is not better at preventing people from doing moral atrocities, unlike what Warren Ellis would tell you.

and one would want to really be told who killed to further non belief in deities. Who among the atheist killers was motivated to kill because of his lack of belief in gods? And what are we out to settle here? I will say any killing is wrong[ am aware this implies an objective moral value], to do it in the name of a deity is worse.

There is the claim that there are other ways of knowing besides science without telling us really what this are. Here, I take science to mean

is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. In an older and closely related meaning, “science” also refers to a body of knowledge itself, of the type that can be rationally explained and reliably applied.

The author tells us

The same with morality, since the scientific method can’t tell me why I ought to not kill an innocent person (you don’t need a religion to know that, yes, but that is not the point, the point is that science is unable to tell you such things because it is outside of what science does).

If science is applied as the described in the second meaning, I don’t see how it would be inadequate in helping one identify what ought or ought not to be done. To claim or imply that religion teaches morality is to say that whatever a god commands is right.

It has always been written that once a person erects a strawman, there is no losing the argument. The author excels in doing this in almost every paragraph. He writes

Treating religion as a monolithic thing is another thing that antitheists do despite that being completely ignorant

is a strawman and doesn’t represent atheistic thinking. Religious practices and rituals are as disparate as the religious believers. The claims about how the deities or how many there are differ from one culture to the next and it would be foolhardy to treat all of them as one. No atheist that I know of does this.

And the following accusation

Antitheists on the other hand would make you believe that all religions are equal in making people do violent things

is false. Atheistic religions like Buddhism or UU are for most part very peaceful. Islam and Christianity who serve a vengeful god tend to produce vengeful and angry people. What would you expect will stop the christian from dealing violently with me if he holds the belief that his celestial master is going to punish me for eternity?

The author writes

Saying religion is a scam is another, even though that needs to ignore what the religion teaches and whether that religion is actually a scam or not. Certainly there are religious sects that are a scam. But many others are not

and ignores the validity of the claim. As long as the priests, mullahs, rabbis continue to peddle the lie there is a god who loves you and wants your money, it shall remain a scam. The only way to get around this is to prove the god hypothesis beyond what would be called a reasonable doubt.

The claim the author set out to demonstrate, that is

many anti-theists are very ignorant, and their anti-theism can actually make them less smart and intelligent as opposed to more. They have shown to be just as foolish and dumb as religious people, and for that reason should stop their arrogance and condescension.

has not been proven but the contrary seems to have been affirmed, that is, the religious are more ignorant than we actually think them to be and the author of this particular post demonstrates the truth of the claim without a shred of doubt.

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About makagutu

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

34 thoughts on “why it is bad to misrepresent your opponent when you are ignorant about her ways!

  1. john zande says:

    “just that as long as he is religious, there is an area of his/her life to which he has not applied common sense”

    I cannot begin to say how much i enjoyed this line.

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  2. aguywithoutboxers says:

    The believers always attack the non-believers personally because they have no proof, outside of their particular religion, to support their beliefs. Therefore, all they can do is disrespect the non-believer as an attempt to discredit them. It’s a typically childish an immature ploy.

    As to the non-believer focusing primarily on christians and islamists, that is because those are the two major belief systems that try to convert others to their way of believing. Most other belief systems respect the right of others to believe differently.

    I don’t deny anyone the right to hold a belief tradition. I do object when they strive to codify their mythology into law.

    Great post, my Nairobi brother. Very enlightening! Much love and naked hugs! 🙂

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      I have said, anyone can believe anything they feel convicted to do so as long as they don’t purport that these should be codified into law or that their beliefs should be given a special place in the public forum.
      Hugs mate and be well my good brother.

      Like

  3. ah, the usual misconceptions, based on willful ignorance, that a theist revels in. It’s a shame that theism seems to depend on deceit and ignorance.

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    • makagutu says:

      and too much ignorance at that!
      Tell me, how is my geologist friend doing? She hasn’t been seen or heard from in many days.

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      • working lots. And showing the TrueChristian, KD, on my blog comments that he’s mistaken in so many ways. It’s the same TrueChristian nonsense, just a different day. At least he’s a bit more polite than our former root vegetable.

        I just put bottled a new beer and have been cooking so I’ll have a new post soon. I’ve also found a good bit of nonsense from the “God Squad” rabbi that will make a good blog post.

        Like

  4. Arkenaten says:

    I have been giving serious consideration to becoming more religious, but have yet to choose my particular faith or era.
    I thought I might first dabble in Medieval Christianity, say for six months.
    Should give me ample time to get to grips with the rack and the trapido. and most aspects pf witch burning etc

    Then afterwards I might jump forward and have a spell as a Mormon and Jehovah’s Witless and perhaps go on a real live archaeological dig with a few Young Earth Creationists.
    Afterwards a weekend Getaway with the Christian Scientists then a few months on the flipside with a Muslim jihad group…learn the art of handling Plastique and serious revolutionary propaganda., and maybe even a time with some Rabbis to brush up on my circumcision skills for newborns
    Last but not least spend time at Easter in the Philippines(?) and have my self crucified just for fun!
    What a smorgasbaord.

    Yes, the religious are your friends….

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      Maybe you should become a Hindu too, and as Pi says in Life of Pi have a million gods before you try being Catholic and hopefully call the little children to come to you, you know it works good for your cv!

      How a person can be so foolish as to call atheists ignorant while displaying ignorance in every paragraph is appalling!

      Like

  5. Antitheists also show a constant ignorance about religion. For instance, they attack Islam without even having read the Qur’an.

    Once I’m told that Muhammad flew to Jerusalem, then to heaven, then back to Mesopotamia, I don’t need to read the Qur’an to know it’s bullshit.

    Like

  6. fojap says:

    I’m glad to hear of “the Courtier’s Reply.” I just saw that the other day on another blog. It’s a common one, but I didn’t have a name for it. The real trick to it is that they say, “Oh, but you haven’t read x,” but they don’t tell you what bearing x has on the subject. Like that guy on Elucid. on Ath. who brought up Banach-Tarski paradox (I think that was it) without saying why it was relevant. So, basically, I saw it twice in less than two days, and I don’t even set out to argue about atheism on the internet. Personally, I find it maddening.

    I’m not sure if that’s truly a fallacy, however. I think it’s just a technique people use in an argument to distract from the matter at hand. The weird thing is even if you say, “Yes, I know about that,” the person then says that you don’t. They never actually engage with the argument.

    They don’t really get it, because it’s rare that they what the really want is for me to say, “Oh, atheism is wrong.” Even if I did, they would not be satisfied. They want to have their own worldview confirmed. I readily admit that I make no attempt to prove that no god exists. I just say that whether or not a god exists has no bearing on my life, and probably not on anybody else’s. If someone likes thinking about logical or mathematical paradoxes and meditating on the profundity of the universe, be my guest, have at it. Heck, I might join you.

    I actually have known Buhddists, and I’m not about to become one of those either. However, Buhddists in the U.S. don’t bother me, so I don’t bother them. If there weren’t those politically active Christian fundamentalists in the U.S., I probably would bother New Age people before arguing with Christians. I get so sick of people telling me to try Yoga or to go in for some Reiki nonsense. I get sick of garbage versions of Native American spirituality or neo-pagan silliness. If it wasn’t for the legal rubbish, that would bother me a whole lot more than Christianity. I’m actually very familiar with many people who follow that stuff and it’s just warmed over superstitions.

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      The point these Christians and Muslims miss is that for the most part, the Jew, the Buddhist and the Hindu and other polytheists or pantheists are just trying to live their lives peacefully without trying to have their canons as law or even to convert anyone. Christianity is in your face everywhere and all the Christians are worried for your soul like you suggested you had one!

      Like

  7. Eric Alagan says:

    He/she is welcome to believe AND practise his/her religion. Just don’t expect others to subscribe to it.

    Like

  8. Mordanicus says:

    Mak,

    This is one of your better post, which usually of very high quality. Yes, too many theists are misrepresenting atheism, or for that matter all criticism of religion. There’s no point in critiquing ancient religion which aren’t practised any more, critiquing those which affect most people is just a matter of efficiency.

    And on mass killings by atheists, you make a good point. Stalin (who unlike Hitler, was uncontroversially an atheist), did kill people not because they were theists, but they opposed his regime. Both theists and atheists were killed by Stalin for political reasons. Given that more soviet-citizens were theists than atheists, no surprise that most of his victims were theists. However, Stalin was from sometime supported by the Russian Orthodox church. Ironically, it was Stalin who put an end to the large scale prosecution of the ROC, which was common place in the direct aftermath of the Russian revolution.

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I don’t see why these fellow expects that we should start critiquing paganism as practiced in ancient Rome when it is no longer a problem today or why I should berate Hindus, who, even though, are as superstitious as the next religious person, do not attempt to lobby to have laws passed that represent their belief system nor are they trying to convert anyone.

      The people who bring the line of atheists killers are conceding ground that yes we have killed but you guys have also done your bit! It becomes a game of numbers and ignores whether the atheistic regimes accused of mass murders did so to spread atheism or were motivated by being godless?

      Like

      • Mordanicus says:

        Well, in India fundamentalist Hindus are enforcing their beliefs upon others by law. And every year many thousands of people die in India because religious superstitions.

        Like

  9. shelldigger says:

    Mak I am never disappointed with your Random Thoughts. As usual a very well thought out post. Which is good, cuz I don’t feel the need to write a short novel about a point I may feel like nitpicking. Saves me a lot of work your stuff does.

    Yes, a feeble attempt at channeling Yoda…

    Like

  10. Arkenaten says:

    No post in four days? You okay, Noel?

    Like

  11. […] why it is bad to misrepresent your opponent when you are ignorant about her ways! (maasaiboys.wordpress.com) […]

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