Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

February 25, 2008

Christian Discusses Religion on Atheist Show

Filed under: culture, religion — Tags: , — codesmithy @ 9:50 am

I can only imagine the Christian caller got a little too hyped up believing Bill O’Reilly’s assertion that it takes as much faith to believe in god as not believe. In fact, O’Reilly’s assertion is that it takes more faith not to believe in god, that framing is why they pay him the big bucks. As the hosts were quick to point out, any sensible discussion has to start with what do we mean by god. Typically in America, people mean a Christian god or at least a deity that can satisfy the constraints of a given holy book. These distinctions and oft-conflicting requirements usually elude the lay-believers wishing to argue with atheists. However, the caller does show some intellectual dishonesty in not disavowing a belief in Leprechauns. Does he go out chasing ends of rainbows every time it rains?

It isn’t that atheists are absurd skeptics. Most are willing to believe that it will take Pluto approximately 248 Earth years to orbit the Sun, the theory of the atom, or that evolution explains the emergence of the human species. However, some claims, like big-foot or pixies, haven’t met their burden of proof. Atheists also put god in that category. Believers, again, try to turn this around and say that evolution hasn’t met their rigorous standard of proof. As I mentioned before, that stands on a rail of intellectual dishonesty, because if one takes such a stance, then they should admit what evidence it would take to change their mind. Frequently, they invoke a variant of argumentum ad consequentiam, which is a logical fallacy. It should be obvious that the idea that there exists a telepathic, invisible, omnipotent, omniscient, everlasting deity would take quite a bit of evidence. More than a book that people have copied and changed over hundreds of years full of fantastic tales and virtually nothing else.

Atheists don’t mean there is no god unconditionally. However, we might argue as Epicurus did.

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

We have reliable ways of determining true beliefs from false beliefs.  There are reasons atheists believe what they do, but one of those reasons certainly isn’t faith.  It is telling why some believers believe what they do by the techniques they use: fear and intimidation.


  1. Woah man I really didn’t see that coming. Props on your endless patience, I would have no doubt hung up on that clown after he took his line of questioning into it’s 3rd or 4th circle.

    Why does it always seem like this is the case though. By that I mean as soon as Christians get backed into a corner they flip out about you going to hell or you’re the devil or you’re going to damn your entire family… or in this case your head is fat and needs to be punched in apparently? lol
    What happened to this famous “Christian morality” that we atheists lack? Frankly if thats a showing of it I’m not all that upset.

    Comment by MiKE — June 9, 2008 @ 1:39 pm

  2. Just for clarification, I didn’t field the call, I just came across the video and posted it.

    My best explanation to why people react like the caller is cognitive dissonance. At the root of religion there is fear. As PZ Myers says, everybody would like to believe there is a heaven. And I doubt anyone would enjoy Hell, although, if it is anything like the Divine Comedy, I think I would enjoy hanging out with the virtuous pagans.

    What does atheism offer: an eternity of oblivion? Doesn’t sound like much of a contest.

    Atheism doesn’t win in the market place of ideas based on the appeal of the afterlife versus other possibilities. It wins because it is most likely to actually be true based on what we currently know. As such, it becomes necessary to point out religion can’t justify the claims it makes. This is not an enviable position to be in, but a necessary one.

    In actuality, I find labeling oneself an atheist sort of ironic. It is sort of like declaring that one does not collect stamps as a hobby. What I do consider atheism to be is rationality conquering fear. It is a personal battle that takes place in everyone’s mind. For the caller fear won, and in the victory tried to spread that fear into the minds of others.

    Comment by codesmithy — June 10, 2008 @ 6:23 am

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