Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Argument Logs: The Atheist Who Couldn't Disprove Fairies

Yet another argument log (Ugh, I get into too many pointless arguments) wherein a Cult of Gnu brand atheist makes a few interesting moves.

* When arguing that fairies don't exist, they fought against the idea that they have any need to define what fairies even are, preferring to go with a kind of 'We all know what they are and that they don't exist so therefore let's not even define them but just agree' argument.
* Likewise, apparently they can apply this sort of reasoning to God, without defining what God even is.
* A sidebar atheist (the usual plagiarist) insisted that it's 'axiomatic' that all claims start out assumed negative.

Bonus: after attempting to argue that agnostics are just atheists of a particular variety, they proceeded to fight tooth and nail against the idea that, in the absence of evidence for or against a given claim, the proper position is one of agnosticism. Huh.

All in all, a pretty fun argument just for the unintentional hilarity of it all. Meeting a Cult of Gnu brand atheist who can't give much of an argument against the existence of God is nothing new. Meeting one who cannot even give much of an argument against the existence of *fairies*? Maybe that's not new either, but it's my first actual encounter with such a creature.

Intellectually, the valuable lesson here is that Ockham's Razor can be weaponized for theistic and anti-naturalist use. I doubt this is original to me in any way - I'm pretty sure George Berkeley arguably or even explicitly made use of this when he advanced idealism - but it's something that doesn't get seen often enough.

Theists and anti-naturalists have to learn how to be skeptics and blasphemers. This doesn't mean abandoning anything relating to theism or anti-naturalism.


Syllabus said...

*rolls eyes*

Yeah, I basically just bailed out of that one. Seemed to be going around in circles, I'd said pretty much all I had to say, and I wasn't interested in getting sucked in any further.

Craig said...

When I follow that link I get to a discussion for a post titled "Boghossian's Agenda" which doesn't seem to involve fairies in any way.

Crude said...


Well, when you're dealing with someone whose whole schtick is avoiding defining what they're talking about, there really isn't much to say.


Yeah, the opening post and the conversation that follows aren't tightly linked.

Karl Grant said...

What I especially loved about that conversation was the part where Paps tried to imply my mom was incompetent for criticizing the DSM-5; which lasted all of one post when I pointed out he had been criticizing and demanding changes be made to said manual since his very first post on that thread and Boghossian, who he was defending, was doing the same thing. Then we get the interesting spectacle of Paps saying oh no, no he ain't criticizing that there DSM-5 manual but...but the religious exclusion needs to be dropped. I mean normally you have to pay to see that kind of comedy.

Crude said...

Linton's a moron who regularly shoots himself in the foot. His plagiarism - which I cite repeatedly, I know - illustrates how he thinks. He literally does not know what he's talking about most of the time, but he finds it very emotionally important to say SOMEthing negative whenever he can. That is not an atheist who has been convinced by evidence. That is a scared old man who is fighting past phantoms.

My personal favorite was one time his insisting that if the supernatural existed the only way we could ever know about it was employing methodological naturalism. That was around the time I realized, this guy is not merely nasty, he's - pardon my language - real fucking stupid. And I don't say that easily. I didn't call BDK that, I certainly never called Dan Gillson that, and there are various atheists who I won't call that simply because they aren't. But holy hell, he qualifies.

Karl Grant said...

Oh I agree. Dan seems like a nice intelligent guy, BDK may have trolled as Zach but stupid he was not. But I am starting to think I'm Skeptical might be beating Paps out as the biggest dumbass at Dangerous Idea. He shoots himself in the foot almost as often. Hell, last two discussions I've had with him saw him say blogs don't count as legitimate sources of evidence, and this was while I started the conversation by taking him and frances to task over double-standards no less, while trying to use a post at a skeptic blog as a source of evidence against Stephen Meyer (and when I called him on it I ended up with a truly bizarre post of him calling me a dolt and then relating a story of how he didn't want to take nap when his mother told him to when he was five years old). In the other, he put these two sentences Why should God create the whole vast universe so that we can occupy such a tiny piece of it? It has nothing to do with how big we are in relation to some other object literally back-to-back. I mean, it is one thing to say two contradictory things in a discussion but back-to-back in the same paragraph? How dumb can you get?

Crude said...

I think the issue is that Paps reacts to being called out on his stupidity by either frantically trying to change the subject, or abandoning the thread. Skep will just keep doubling down and making it worse each time.

Linton at the end of the day is probably self-aware that he's pretty goddamn dumb and ignorant of what he's talking about. Skep's big flaw is he really thinks that being a Cult of Gnu atheist makes him smart, so he tries to think his way out of the holes he gets into and it's just kind of sad to watch.

Karl Grant said...

I think that about sums it up, especially where Skeppy is concerned. Remember, my mom is a psychologist by trade so I have read a few books on psychology and psychiatry over the years; been reading them on and off ever since I was a sophomore in high school and I am getting close to thirty now. Bizarre as it may seem, I think that post about his mom and being forced to take a nap when he didn't want to was a psychological defense mechanism in action.

I had him pretty much cornered and dead-to-rights on the double-standards with the blog posts and I think deep down he knew it. But to admit that would mean admitting A) he lost an argument with a theist (which would mean admitting that maybe he isn't as smart as he thinks he is, or that he doesn't have everything figured out, and that is not allowed) and B) he would be forced to chose between abandoning the blog posts from Smilodon's Retreat critical of Stephen Meyer or allow my examples to be admitted as valid evidence (which would also mean admitting he failed). So he responds by insults to soothe (actually, stroke would be a better term) his ego and than latches on to anything that would shore up his confidence in his own intelligence. And also I got this feeling about Skeppy that on one hand he looks down on us as being intellectually inferior but at the same time he wants our respect, admiration and approval. That is why he tells us this nap-time story and that is why he keeps coming back engaging us in conversation no matter how many times he says he is done talking with dolts like us. It ain't enough for him think being a Cult of Gnu atheist makes him smart, he wants us to acknowledge that this is so. He wants vindication.

Paps also wants vindication; he wants to reinforce his beliefs. And he also wants our approval. But like you say he has this awareness of his flaws and shortcomings that Skeppy lacks; which probably comes from age and experience. So he tries to hide it using purple prose and plagiarism. But if he was twenty or so years younger I think he and Skeppy would sound almost identical in their posts.

Of course, I am just guessing here.

Acatus Bensley said...

hey there crude I would like to ask if you realized that it's not that atheists have no reason or evidence to believe but that they don't WANT to believe. Seriously after studying them for months I've discovered they won't even attempt to believe. It's like they'll always scrutinize faith but try to validate atheism which I don't personally think can be validated. They'll even try to talk their way out of accepting blatantly obvious evidence that proves the super natural. You could literally show a video of Jesus descending to earth and they'd try their hardest to rationalize their way of accepting it. Send your response to my email.

Crude said...


Sorry, I'd reply to your email, but I don't know exactly how to get it - Google+ is a mystery to me right now. This will have to do for now.

Briefly - I actually agree that for many atheists, evidence or reason is an absolute red herring. It's no coincidence that most people who call themselves atheists out and out despise every God they talk about, and in fact want to talk about nothing BUT the gods they despise. This has never been about reason or evidence, it's been about social and political ambitions for most. For others, more emotional aspects, and who knows what other kind of personal phantoms.

Not that theists are beyond such things, but they also tend to recognize it a bit more in my experience at least.