Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I don't know. And neither do you. Pt 2

A certain little something called empiricism has been invented since the dimwit days of Deus vult. Of course, rare indeed is the theist who understands it, and such is the nature of organised religion that its followers are driven to reject it. I've wandered quite a few forums in which theists have aired their views, and this extract (edited for spelling) from a post from a more or less literate theist is quite indicative of the level of intellectual achievement common to theists. The sentence highlighted in red is irrelevant to our discussion here:

"The words "scientific method" are being tossed around a little too frequently and improperly. There are 2 halves to a scientific method. The first is an experiment-based method. But people always forget the second kind: examination of evidence. In that case, I must protest that our debate has NOT been over faith-based arguments. For example, like it or not, the bible IS evidence. You can't arbitrarily define evidence to be whatever you want it to be. The bible is the most-verified document older than 1000 years, and contains not one but 4 eyewitness accounts. Saying that the bible's evidence is "unscientific" is a form of "posioning the well" a very flawed logical argument."

Speaking plainly, it appears the author is attempting to make 2 points. The first is to attempt to impose his view of what he thinks the scientific method is. The other is that he believes the Bible to be literally true, specifically the New Testament, as is apparent from his mention of 4 witnesses.

On the matter of the scientific method, the author is quite clearly talking out of his arse. The scientific method is the ultimate expression of empiricism, and has quite a few subtle permutations, but they all conform to the same general gyst, summarised in the following diagram, with the creationist "method" shown alongside, for contrast:

If you peeped at the Wiki link, or if you just read a bit of non-fiction, you'll know that the scientific method has existed in more or less this form for quite a long time, and as such, the above author's simplistic view of the scientific method can only be put down to either wilful ignorance or an egotistical drive to force the discussion to conform to his own narrow view of scientific method. As such, his first point is worthless.

The 2nd point, regarding the New Testament being a historically accurate document, needs a little more work. Take these two statements:

For example, like it or not, the bible IS evidence. You can't arbitrarily define evidence to be whatever you want it to be.

We leave these two sentences aside for now, because shortly, we'll be pointing out some New Testament silliness. When this is shown, we will find that he has, himself, arbitrarily defined evidence to be whatever he wanted it to be, and is, once again, talking out of his arse.

A quick search on Google quickly reveals that though there were indeed 4 witnesses, they appear to have tremendous difficulty getting their story straight. The list of contradictory statements is far longer than I'd anticipated, and so I include it in this happy link. Our good friend, Wikipe-tan, also has an adequate article summarising the intellectual bankruptcy of the Bible.

Another common argument put forward by theists in Net forums is this: You can't disprove God. This is hideously flawed in many ways, most commonly the ignorant theist's refusal to put forward a definition of God in the first place. Undefinable, therefore you can't disprove it. But by the exact same token, you can't prove it, either. This line of inquiry is outside of the realm of the empirically verifiable and hence, like proofs put forward by Liebniz and Thomas Aquinas, a lot of metaphysical rubbish.

But to make the same sta
tement within the framework of empiricism, this suggests that, although no observation of God has yet been made, there is no reason to suppose that he won't show himself in the future. This is but a weak attempt to turn empiricism against itself and one can quickly point out that by the same argument, there's no reason to believe that there's no such thing as, say pixies, trolls and unicorns, either. It is presently in fashion among atheists to mock this argument by professing belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which exists on these same grounds. A question well worth considering for any theist when they think they have a proof for the existence of God is: Is there any reason the same proof cannot be applied if I replaced God with the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

I suppose I should mention that I didn't actually post this in the forum where the silliness above appeared. There are 2 reasons for this:

1) Having read the previous 20 or so posts by the author, it was very clear to me that whoever wrote those words was not in any way interested in honest inquiry into the basis of his theism. He responded to refutations
of his arguments either with childish games of semantics or just ignoring them. Hence I choose to post here, away from the silliness of what is a lot of metaphysical dicking about.

2) This article is just me picking out the glaring inadequacies of one paragraph's worth of theistic rubbish. Forum theists have a LOT of rubbish to spout, in a truly prodigous display of logorrhea. For every one post they write, a diligent atheist can quite easily churn out 5 proving conclusively that the theistic position is
rubbish. Few atheists have the energy for that. Comrade Calilasseia of RDF, whom I mentioned in an earlier post, is a shining example to us all.

In this post I have illustrated the absurdity of the theistic attitude towards the unknown, i.e. filling the gaps with God.
Next, I'll have a little something to say about the atheist's attitude to the unknown.

May the blessings of the Flying Spaghetti Monster be with you, always.

1 comment:

Mike said...

that conversation looks familiar :P

thanks for writing this up, im trying to argue with two (stupid i know, its a guilty pleasure) of them and its refreshing to read something that actually follows a valid line of reasoning. and i totally understand why you didnt post this on the forums.