Thursday, October 18, 2007

Please tell me that this is a joke.


[Updated below, for the sake of vacuous cementheads like commenter "fergusrush."]

[Whoa ... apparently, we've just been infested with a pile of "crooks and liars." And to think this was such a nice neighbourhood. :-)]


Neo-con hero Dinesh D'Souza certainly knows the audience for whom he's writing:

... Consider [Christopher] Hitchens’ discussion of one of the classic Christian proofs for the existence of God. Hitchens takes up Anselm’s so-called ontological argument, and he makes short work of it. Basically Anselm argues that God is, by definition, a being than which no greater can be conceived. But if God is such a being, he must exist. Why? Because if it didn’t, then he would be a being than which a greater could be conceived.

Anselm’s argument seems like a theological rabbit pulled from a rhetorical top hat. Yet when you ponder the logic. it is surprisingly strong.

And, yes, this really is what passes for deep thought in the wankersphere. Is it too early to start drinking heavily?

MY, ONE DOES GET COMMENTS. And right on cue, regular commenter and defiler of all things logical "fergusrush" reads this snippet from Dr. Dawg:

Atheists surely do not have to define what it is they don't believe in. Good grief!

to which the ferg blows a gasket and descends into logical absurdity thusly:

No, dawg, of course not!! Heaven forbid they should have an idea of what it is they are strenuously denying the existence of.

Dr. Dawg is, of course, entirely correct, since when someone professes to be an atheist, one is simply stating a lack of belief in a particular supernatural deity, nothing more. Said deity does not have to be completely defined and, in fact, a poorly-defined deity makes said lack of belief even more logical and defensible.

I'm guessing poor fergie simply has no clue what the word "atheism" actually means, so I'll be happy to help him out. After which I would hope that ferg would understand the insipid lack of sense in describing an atheist as someone who is "strenuously denying the existence" of anything. But having read enough of ferg's contributions to this site, I am decidedly not optimistic.

BONUS TRACK: With all due respect, here's what you can do with your "perfect" God.

69 comments:

Crabgräss said...

No, no, it works perfectly.

A dragon is, by definition, the beast who is best at breathing fire. But if a dragon is such a beast, then a dragon must exist. Why? Because if a dragon didn't exist, then a creature better at breathing fire could be conceived.

Wow. I've never taken this much acid before. Whoa, look at my fingernails.

Ti-Guy said...

On that point, Crabgräss...sometimes, I really do envy the Rightards. Their state of mind must be the equivalent of being high all the time, but without any chemically-related side effects and not too much motor skill impairment.

Imagine having a state of mind that provides you with the glorious conceit of thinking that you, personally, will have finally managed to prove the existence of God, after so many great thinkers, over so many centuries, have failed to do so. What a never-ending trip!

mikmik said...

Oh, my head hurts as well. Hey, i like it, crabgrass! just saw your comment. Doing blotter for breakfast myself.
I was freaking about multiple creation events last night myself, and number one, Russel, first principal of causes or whatever. I should say multiple events because I was just yakking about possibilities.
Just thought of something. It has to do with numbers. What event would produce god, and it must be a random event, or it would not have happened. I we know, by inference, that random events of unlimited numbers have not happenned. Only this one ever has. If there are repeatedproductions of realities, without limits, we know it has not happenned.

Ooch mae heed is in need of ale!
I am afreak, I know. I would slay dragons, but get houseflys! ies. spelling=shaet

Crabgräss said...

Ti-Guy, no kidding.

Not to mention the joy of never having to suffer through any kind of dilemma. One choice is right and the other is wrong, no need for second thoughts. No wonder conservatives hate the Senate.

mikmik - I trust you've seen the bats, too?

M@ said...

Yet when you ponder the logic. it is surprisingly strong.

Yeah, I remember pondering that logic in a first-year philosophy tutorial myself. I believe we determined that the perfect martini must therefore exist, and went off in search of it, and... funny, I don't remember much after that. I guess I was given some wingnut welfare and a sense of smug self-satisfaction born of ignorance and arrogant pride.

Oh, wait, no. I think I got drunk. At least I didn't feel so bad about myself when I woke up as Dinesh will feel when he does. If he ever does.

Ti-Guy said...

Growing up in a religious environment provided me with enough examples of loonie tunes (like Dinesh DeSouza) to prevent me from ever being curious about acid.

"This is your brain. This is your brain on Religious Fundamentalism. Any questions?"

Sheena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sheena said...

Sigh...
Christopher Hitchens is #4 on my list of next husbands.

David said...

You guys see bats? Crap. All my vodka lunch gets me is angry. And this post about Dinesh is not helping.

Ti-Guy said...

Christopher Hitchens is #4 on my list of next husbands.

Who are nos 1-3?

Crabgräss said...

Christopher Hitchens is #4 on my list of next husbands.

#1 = Crabgrass!!

On #2 and #3 I'm not sure.

David, try tequila instead of vodka. And maybe don't wait until lunch. That's very likely a big part of your problem right there.

fergusrush said...

It is good to see that some things in life remain constant and dependable, like CC's cherrypicking of quotes and the monkey crew's razor-thin attention span and subsequent inability to read linked material.

"Anselm’s argument seems like a theological rabbit pulled from a rhetorical top hat. Yet when you ponder the logic. it is surprisingly strong. Philosophers of the caliber of Descartes and Leibniz have accepted the validity of Anselm’s ontological argument and given their own versions of it. Others, such as Aquinas and Kant, have considered the argument defective. But not one of them takes Hitchens’ line, which is to accuse Anselm of arguing that everything that can be conceived must exist.

This is emphatically not what Anselm is saying. He is not so foolish as to claim that if you can imagine a unicorn, therefore a unicorn must exist. Anselm’s argument only applies to one special case. God is defined, even by atheists, as a being of the highest conceivable perfection. Now such a being can exist only in the mind, or in the mind and in reality as well. Anselm argues that it is greater or more perfect to exist both in the mind and in reality, than to exist in the mind alone. Therefore God must exist, because otherwise he would not be a being of the highest conceivable perfection.
As centuries of commentary on Anselm confirms, this is an argument that seems hard to accept, and yet it is not very easy to refute.
"

Context can be a real bitch.

Crabgräss said...

Fergus, that's an airtight argument.

I'm thinking of the perfect motorcycle. It's absolutely perfect in every sense of the word. So it had better fucking exist, because if it doesn't, frankly it would suck rather obviously in that department. It would not be perfect. Therefore the perfect motorcycle exists.

Same goes for mousetraps. This is fun.

I bet you want ice cream now.

M@ said...

You're right, we totally forgot to take it in context. Forgive me for not mentioning his special pleading ("Anselm's argument applies to one special case") and his argument from authority ("Philosophers of the caliber of Descartes and Leibniz have accepted the validity of Anselm’s ontological argument").

So you're actually convinced by D'Souza's argument, FR? Or is this going to be just another pointless debate where you assert nothing in particular -- other than that CC and his commenters are wrong for vague and unspecified reasons?

Adam said...

Of course, as an atheist, I do not concieve god(s) as the "highest conceivable perfection". No god I have ever seen an actual religion based around would fit that description.

And if logic is to hold, it can't be applied to just one special case and never anywhere else (well, maybe in some higher mathematics, but those cases are defined as part of larger overall sets of logic). Atheists and theists both can picture a unicorn (horse + long single horn on head) pretty well too.

And it wasn't a cherrypick, since the quote CC provided really sums up the whole bit pretty well, which seems to be saying that this is a reasonable argument. It's not. Hitchens is hardly the first one to point this out, since the criticism he levied dated back to the time of Anselm (Gaunilo's criticism). For D'souza to not know of that criticism means he's not familiar, at all, with the original argument.

Ti-Guy said...

and the monkey crew's razor-thin attention span and subsequent inability to read linked material.

We only behave that way because it makes you so bitter and hissy.

Although, I must admit, I didn't really bother reading Dinette DeSetta's piece, because it's widely known that he is a complete and utter moron.

Crabgräss said...

On top of all the other problems with the argument, wouldn't the "highest conceivable perfection" include very high marks on accessibility? Or are we not really fit to assert that accessibility is an important matter?

Are we in a position to assert that actual existence is important? Maybe it's best for this perfect being to exist only in the mind, just as it's apparently totally cool for Him to be invisible, silent, and entirely unreachable to a great many of the creatures he so dearly loves.

This is a ridiculous discussion.

M@ said...

This is a ridiculous discussion.

True for almost any discussion about the relative merits of people's invisible superheroes. Don't worry though -- mere ridiculousness is not enough to deter our Dinesh.

fergusrush said...

"So you're actually convinced by D'Souza's argument, FR?"

He's not making an argument in support of Anselm's view, m@. D'Souza is comparing Hitchens's view of Anselm's argument with the views of other notable philosophers in history. D'Souza states "(a)s centuries of commentary on Anselm confirms, this is an argument that seems hard to accept, and yet it is not very easy to refute. Hitchens certainly doesn’t do it".

crabgrass,
Clearly, you were the most obvious target of my earlier remark.

adam,
It is cherrypicking because it deliberately plays to the likes of tigger, who will read no further.

tigger,
Why don't you just admit that you don't read further because you know you'll just miss the point anyway?

Crabgräss said...

Ferg - which earlier remark?

Crabgräss said...

Never mind - I see that you had made just one.

But are you saying you can only apply this argument to God? Isn't that giving God a bit of a leg up before you even get started?

Someone or something so brilliant shouldn't require this kind of favouritism.

Anyway, something that's supposed to be so perfect - if it's not particularly accessible, how perfect is it? You give it a break on that point? Wouldn't, you know, being available to help out make God even better?

I'm not trying to be glib, but just pointing out that you have selected an arbitrary measure for perfection (more perfect if it exists) and excluded some that I think would be pretty damn special (more perfect if it were around to help out). How do you reply to that?

Ti-Guy said...

Why don't you just admit that you don't read further because you know you'll just miss the point anyway?

What point am I missing? That ontological arguments are unpersuasive or that Dinesh DeSouza is a hateful cretin?

Whatever, Missus Hissy. I'm sure I'll get over it.

fergusrush said...

"But are you saying you can only apply this argument to God?"

Crabgrass, I'm not saying anything at all about God, and neither was D'Souza. He was talking about Hitchens, the references to Anselm being used as illustrations of his point about Hitchens. I was observing that CC has, once again, teased his audience with a misleading snippet from another website and tried to pass it off as something that it is not.
The whole proof of God's existence thing is beside the point in both cases.

Mentarch said...

DeSouza's piece is proof again of the old axiom "garbage in, garbage out".

On a related note: this is proof again that fundamentalists can only argue with philosophy and theology, whereas science seeks to actually demonstrate experimentally (and thus validate) its findings to describe, and explain, reality.

Then again, fundamentalists are easily satisfied with empty (non)arguments and outright fallacies - provided, of course, these support their ignorance-based beliefs.

Nothing new here.

fergusrush said...

"What point am I missing? That ontological arguments are unpersuasive or that Dinesh DeSouza is a hateful cretin?"

See what I mean? Missed by country mile. Again.

Funny to watch, though.

Ti-Guy said...

Now, the Hissy Miss is doing his "broken record" routine.

In response to "What point am I missing" you should really answer "If you can't get it, I'm not going to explain it to you." That one really riles me up.

Dr.Dawg said...

Well now, Ferg, hold on, hold on a minute.

You can't have it both ways. DeSouza claimed that Anselm's logic is "hard to refute." That's more than a dig at Hitchens.

Why not start with the concept of the "highest conceivable perfection," as in "God is defined, even by atheists, as a being of the highest conceivable perfection. "

Let's leave aside for a moment the inconvenient fact that atheists don't spend a lot of time defining things that they don't believe exist, so that the latter claim is dubious and not backed up by any evidence. What does "the highest conceivable perfection" mean, exactly? The notion is completely, utterly arbitrary. Yet, if we can't get to that in any clear way, how do we get beyond it to notions of "God?"

"Perfection," as in immortal? Without any messy spots? Incorruptible? Or does an exemplary progress of mortality have its own perfection? Or a ribsteak when one is really hungry? And Satan is, as we all know, perfectly dreadful.

Anselm is in fact being a sneaky old saint, concealing the notion of God in his very formulation. But the trivial case has already been made: even if DeSouza and yourself try (unsuccessfully, I might add) to say that this is a unique case, the exact-same argument can indeed be used about a martini or a motorcycle. Anselm's proof is really a tautology: God exists because he is perfect, and not to exist would be an imperfection--therefore God exists.

"Hard to refute?" Come, now.

Adam C said...

Well, D'Souza claims that Hitchens "didn't (refute) it". Of course, he doesn't tell us what Hitchens said. He also doesn't tell us what Descartes or Aquinas said. It's not really much of a comparison. And as Dawg says, D'Sousa does indeed come out in support of Anselm.

And it's not at all difficult to dispute. How could I understand a perfect being without being perfect myself? How could I understand omniscience without omniscience? What's the difference between "perfect to infinity" and "perfect to infinity plus one"?

fergusrush said...

D'Souza writes: "Anselm’s argument seems like a theological rabbit pulled from a rhetorical top hat. Yet when you ponder the logic. it is surprisingly strong. Philosophers of the caliber of Descartes and Leibniz have accepted the validity of Anselm’s ontological argument and given their own versions of it. Others, such as Aquinas and Kant, have considered the argument defective. But not one of them takes Hitchens’ line, which is to accuse Anselm of arguing that everything that can be conceived must exist."
He is not arguing Anselm's point, he is relating what others' positions regarding Anselm have been, as well as contrasting them all to Hitchens's view. D'Souza's line "when you ponder the logic. it is surprisingly strong" I took as a reference to the historical longevity of the debate, not as D'Souza's opinion of the logic's merit.

"Let's leave aside for a moment the inconvenient fact that atheists don't spend a lot of time defining things that they don't believe exist, so that the latter claim is dubious and not backed up by any evidence."

If atheists don't spend any time defining the very thing they label themselves as against, they run the risk of looking like idiots:
"I'm an atheist."
"What's that mean?"
"I don't believe in the existence of God".
"What is 'God'?"
"I don't know, I've never defined it. But I don't believe in it anyway."


"...even if DeSouza and yourself try..."

Again, I have not entered into the "Anselm" debate.

fergusrush said...

"Of course, he doesn't tell us what Hitchens said. He also doesn't tell us what Descartes or Aquinas said."

No, he doesn't; he just tells us that they are differing opinions. Which, of course, supports my point that D'Souza is not defending Anselm's view so much as telling a story about it to illustrate a point about Hitchens, who is the topic of D'Souza's column.

"And it's not at all difficult to dispute. How could I understand a perfect being without being perfect myself? How could I understand omniscience without omniscience?"

If I may ask, what does the "existence" of God have to do with "perfect understanding" of God? They are two distinct ideas.

Dr.Dawg said...

Your reading of DeSouza is enormously kind, to put it mildly. The logical strength of an argument is not determined by the longevity of a debate, for crying out loud.

Atheists surely do not have to define what it is they don't believe in. Good grief! All they have to do is, when presented with various notions of Supreme Being, henotheist, Arian, trinitarian, etc., etc., ad nauseam, is to say--prove it! Until you do, I don't believe it. The onus is entirely upon the other side, which is adding one theistic concept or another onto the world of experience.

Crabgräss said...

Okay, Fergus, D'Souza's assessment of Anselm's logic is what is at issue, not the question of whether God exists. I say that D'Souza's assessment of Anselm's logic sucks, and that he's admiring, with a straight face, exemplary circular reasoning. Anselm's argument is in fact easy to refute (see above). Whether Hitchens properly does so I can't say, not having seen his "line" (as D'Souza puts it) in its entirety. But I believe that the point of the post was that D'Souza appeared to be rather impressed by some obviously circular reasoning. "This is what passes for deep thought" was the statement. I don't see that as a misrepresentation or an attempt to take D'Souza's words out of context.

Bed time. Good night, all.

the rev. said...

Anselm's logic is circular and therefore a useless argument for anything.

CC, it is never too early to start drinking heavily, just ask Christopher Hitchens

mikmik said...

I was observing that CC has, once again, teased his audience with a misleading snippet from another website and tried to pass it off as something that it is not.
The whole proof of God's existence thing is beside the point in both cases.

Fine. Your 'observation' is injherent in opinion an unstated, hey?

We don't talk about philosphers now. We will go into causes, please.

The bats my friend refers to. They are theoretical, of course. I know what he means, i have been terrified by them. This man, CG, is respected now, already.

Now, you phoney fuck, fergusrush, let's make the talk? No refernce or allusion, please and okay.

I have already stated the absurdities of considerations being possible as thoughts. Go to my fucking website.

CC points out evident bombastic assumptions, no more. You have no point to him, it is names calling and unsubstantiated.

I, however, have this deep issue with your evident frauds. Hitchens is mere annayance, yes? He is.

We make the logic now, okay it is. It is proven not a god. This is how? Because as i have talked about the realms of possible, why possible is meaningless, every possible should happen but has not.

It must have, but isn't. Why, I akd to you this. Any gods are not because they will have expressed themselves in all ways and is on record. It is deep part of our reality, but it is not. The deep part of our reality is apparent and only it has happened for all possibilities include that we know from these possibilities of all possibilities, they choose or not, it is happened.

I can't say it, just that it is not, and therefore, it never has been possible, for if possible, it has been this way, and we have known it, for thus realizayion has occurred already, and is reality. If it was, it is. that is my speech.

If it was possible, it is being right now. Noy sense to you?????

All this will have been, and is been now. It is known, and if possible all these things, the possible that was known and shared is done, it has happenned. It has not.

All of one things, it would be inclusive if it has ever happened, and it would be because it is the one that includes the knowledge to all, it would have been, and this being, it would be known, because it has happenned, because these all things could have happenned.

Because they have not. We know this, because the one thing that would happen if all had the possibility to happen, it isn't, or it would be known.

Understand this? Please. If random events have transpired, they have been now. They always have been, they will have happenned due to chance, they will have been immediate, and always inclusive.

Please you know this.

It is thinkng we do, but we have this ability to remove the apparently obvious that is not apparent.

i am not fucking with you. I mean to talk about this. Show me I am wrong, I want it badly. If it is a possible event, all are possible, therefore all possible includes what is real and is it? has it been? It must, ot it hasn't allowed as possible. Possible means has happened. Do you get this thought!!!!!

I don't give a fuck about this insipid tripe Hitchens. He is sanctimonious and pretentious, and ultimately demonstratably false. He does not have that which is the realization of who we are, the respect for humanness, for which is an expression of our one reality, which cannot have been, or all would have been.

Fuck you into face if you don't talk back to me with thoughts about my wrongness. I want them to be shown. It means something.

fergusrush said...

"The logical strength of an argument is not determined by the longevity of a debate, for crying out loud."

The longevity of the debate shows that eminent philosophers over a long span of history have felt Anselm's argument to be worthy of reflection and response, not scorn. In other words, the logic is strong enough to keep coming back and forcing itself to be taken under consideration. Whether it is accepted or rejected is up to the individual; it's philosophy, not physics, there can be no definitive answer.

"Atheists surely do not have to define what it is they don't believe in. Good grief!"

No, dawg, of course not!! Heaven forbid they should have an idea of what it is they are strenuously denying the existence of.

fergusrush said...

Mick, I tried to understand your comments but I cannot. Oh well.

mikmik said...

Oh well. funny this, you point at someithing, but your oiunting is about pointing.

You are a fucking chickenshit. I just had a martini, dry, vermouth.

Lets happen, Okay? first year crap. The obvious paradox that Pascel misunderstands. You here still?

i want to do this step by step. no bs about misunderstandings, now I am clear.

You are here. You answered and I like this, it expresses some interest.

We are not, because we think. Corpus Callosum, ergo cerebral cortex, is latin. Cogito etc, I like laughing.

We are not known because we think. Yes, we have awareness, of course, but this is now the priniple of Bertrand Russel. Which is first, they minkey or the blogging tory? We know, first tory, then slimes, then life.
I digress.

Tell me what is happening at this instant. Do you think, and percieve, or is this an artifact, and how do we know?

I will come soon, then about more. i wish to learn from you, if I am incorrect, and i wish to share.

Oh, we know, this precedes all. I am is first. Is high school still, perhaps, I never studied this stuff, I only read about critical thinking.

It is first to happen, you are there to recieve it. This we know. I know it. you are. This I know and respect, and ae ... shuddup, mike!

We have to establish this, seems so simple. And it is! wish hitchens only figment, but not.

Now you get. 9:40 now, I am ten back, and I will relearn my english, thanks for sharing with us. With me.

Scotian said...

Fergusrush:

You are asserting that atheists are "strenuously denying the existence of" God, yet you provide zero evidence to support this assertion. Funny thing, most atheists I have met could care less about it, they aren't the ones strenuously trying to prove/disprove anything, for them it is simply an obvious fact and it is those that believe in the myth of God(s) that are the ones acting in a "strenuous" manner to explain that which they cannot or do not know about. This is typical of your argument in this thread, you make unfounded assertions, act as if they are undisputable unarguable fact, and then get annoyed when the rest of us simply look at you and think what a git. It is not because of your beliefs so much as your absolute inability to recognize and differentiate between your assertions, your beliefs, yours suspicions and actual facts.

BTW, your original comment was to bitch that CC had chopped the quote and therefore misrepresented its meaning in his criticisms. Yet it has been shown by others in the thread already that the full quote only underscores CC's critique, not weakens it as you would have us believe. Therefore even on your original purpose for commenting you have failed to make anything remotely resembling sense let alone a sound argument/position.

You are clearly outmatched here by the regulars, and while you may feel you provide an important service, about the only service I see you providing is that of useful idiot, as in showing just how fallacious the thinking of those that agree with movement conservative's precepts truly are. That and I suppose some comic relief for your cute childlike belief that just because you believe a thing and assert it that this makes it true/fact. Sorry but the world is far more complex and far less clear than that, and your inability to make such basic distinctions in your thinking/writing is why we all here think you are a fool far more than for any particular political beliefs you may have. It is alas all too often that such thinking appears within the political right these days to a far greater extent than anywhere else, back when I was a young it was the hard left that tended to be this out of touch with reality. Boy have things changed over the past few decades.

Don't give up your day job (unless trolling progressive blogs and counter-blogging for the CPC happens to be it, in which case then you need to find another job because you suck at this one).

Adam C said...

If I may ask, what does the "existence" of God have to do with "perfect understanding" of God? They are two distinct ideas.

According to Anselm, the latter proves the former - and you put my "perfect" in the wrong place. It's "understanding perfection".

But let's see: we can consider an argument on its merits, or we can just rely on how long people have been arguing about it. Heck, if some people still believe the world is flat, it must be hard to refute.

Having wasted my time on Wikipedia looking up Anselm's examples of Descartes and Leibniz (both well over 200 years old), I find their thoughts on this particular subject even less persuasive than the original. Descartes essentially boils down to "I think there is a God, therefore He exists, because I'm not smart enough to think of Him without His help".

Generously, I might compare Leibniz's theory to the Intelligent Design fixation with "irreducible complexity".

M@ said...

So, according to Fergus, CC is to be criticised for cherrypicking and thereby misrepresenting D'Souza's argument -- except that we're not allowed to talk about the relative merits of that argument, because that's not what you're talking about.

No, we're supposed to be talking about the relative merits of Hitchens' argument, which CC did not represent, and which, oddly, D'Souza did not represent either.

But we can talk about whether Anselm's argument has merit in terms of how long people have been talking about it. Because that, according to Fergus, is what D'Souza is talking about when he says "the logic is strong" -- the longevity, and not the logic, of the argument.

So, in summary, CC is dumb and so is anyone who agrees with him. Uh, yeah, Fergus. Quod erat et cetera.

pretty shaved ape said...

fergus twists and writhes:

"Of course, he doesn't tell us what Hitchens said. He also doesn't tell us what Descartes or Aquinas said."

No, he doesn't; he just tells us that they are differing opinions. Which, of course, supports my point that D'Souza is not defending Anselm's view so much as telling a story about it to illustrate a point about Hitchens, who is the topic of D'Souza's column."

all of which is so very, very different from:

"like CC's cherrypicking of quotes and the monkey crew's razor-thin attention span and subsequent inability to read linked material."

so dinesh gets a big, fat pass from hall monitor fergus. dinesh makes his arguments about another author and his work without presenting reference, draws a conclusion from out his rump and remains credible. cc quotes dinesh's article directly and is somehow guilty of insufficient context and cherry picking. check.

"God is defined, even by atheists, as a being of the highest conceivable perfection."

well speaking on behalf of all of the atheist that read outlandish crap like this and wonder just how these fibs get ascribed to us, bullshit. atheist have no need to describe, define or codify god. we can't get through a day without some helpful, publicly broadcast reminder of all of the wonderful wonderfulness of wondergod and jesus, the boy wonder. but since it is at issue, here is how i, as an atheist, describe god, magical, illusory concept being(s) created to allay the fear of the unknown for the ignorant; a make believe authority used to enforce basic social mores and rulings; a vehicle for charlatans and parasites to manipulate for power and profit; a fantasy creature.

that being said, some folks take great comfort in their magical sky buddy, so god is an occasionally useful bit of idiocy. but perfect? fuck no. if we limit ourselves to the christian sky buddy, what omnicient and perfect being could be so stupid as to face rebellion from within the ranks of his own angels? what perfect being, all knowing and all powerful, craves fear and worship to such a gluttonous extent that he would lay waste to all of creation in a great flood? or sizzle his creatures and creation by halting the sun's progress in the sky? there is blessed little evidence of perfection in this god business or in his/her/its creation.

Sheena said...

summary here...

Ti-Guy said...

Well, Fergus won. Yay! *acck pthttt*.

fergusrush said...

"I'm guessing poor fergie simply has no clue what the word "atheism" actually means, so I'll be happy to help him out. After which I would hope that ferg would understand the insipid lack of sense in describing an atheist as someone who is "strenuously denying the existence" of anything. But having read enough of ferg's contributions to this site, I am decidedly not optimistic."

It is kind of you, CC, to take the trouble to link to your earlier posts on "atheism", but it is unnecessary. I would prefer, instead, that you not misrepresent what I said about atheists needing to "define" that to which they are opposed. "Completely define" is your phrase, not mine.

My exchange with dawg, which causes you such grief:

"Atheists surely do not have to define what it is they don't believe in. Good grief!"

"No, dawg, of course not!! Heaven forbid they should have an idea of what it is they are strenuously denying the existence of."

By your reckoning, I am wrong to expect someone who opposes something to know anything about it? You, for instance, are against "conservatives"; am I to assume, then, that you actually know nothing about them? And that you see no logical need to know anything about them?

As for my description of atheism as "strenuously denying the existence" of "God", it seems a suitable choice of words to describe a man who has published a book in defense of his atheism.

pretty shaved ape said...

poor dim fergus tries so very hard:

"By your reckoning, I am wrong to expect someone who opposes something to know anything about it? You, for instance, are against "conservatives"; am I to assume, then, that you actually know nothing about them?"

problem is fergus, that though we might be on opposite sides of some ideological gulf, conservatives actually exist. and since we're on about knowing and not knowing when engaged in debate, you might check in with all your team jesus pals and see how very much they know about wicca, hinduism, islam and a variety of other faiths that they are so very quick to deny, decry and dismiss as the work of da debbil. how many of our christian, conservative buddies are perfectly willing to burn a book without reading or investigating its actual content or context? too bloody many. further, you have not offered an iota of proof that atheists don't know about god. most all of us are routinely subjected to a wealth of information about god. it is exactly that knowing that helps us to determine that it is a fantastic story, the greatest fiction ever sold.

so how about you crawl on back to your self fulfilling bunker of stupidity and cuddle up with your blinkered pals and stop bothering people.

Cliff said...

Congratulations CC, you just got linked by Crooks and Liars - Your hit counter's probably going to melt!

counter-coulter said...

Cliff said...
Congratulations CC, you just got linked by Crooks and Liars - Your hit counter's probably going to melt!


Damn! Somebody already beat me to it...welll...congrats on the CrooksAndLiars nod anyways!

counter-coulter said...

Dr. Dawg is, of course, entirely correct, since when someone professes to be an atheist, one is simply stating a lack of belief in a particular supernatural deity, nothing more.

Not to make too fine a point, but I would disagree with this definition. I would define an atheist as someone who believes that there is no supernatural deity. A minor point to be sure, but I believe one that needs to be distinguished from, say, an agnostic who believes that the existence of a supernatural deity is unknown and unknowable.

Dr.Dawg said...

"By your reckoning, I am wrong to expect someone who opposes something to know anything about it?"

Well, Ferg, you're getting it all wrong, see. I don't "oppose" God, in which case it would obviously be necessary to know my enemy. I simply don't think he exists. And so it is up to the DeSousas and Anselms of this world to produce evidence--to show me.

Suppose (just to make it simply) you came running to tell me that a Woozle was hiding in the woods. Besides "big" and "fierce" I couldn't get anything else out of you. I really think it's up to you to prove the existence of this phantasm. And the neat thing is, I don't have to describe your own nightmare in detail--that's up to you. All I have to do is to question the material existence of it.

Clear, now? Good.

Cliff said...

In the rules of debate it's the person making an affirmative statement who has to defend it. Therefore 'there is a God' is the statement that needs to be supported and defended not 'there is no God'.

Atheists are not required to define the nature of the flying spaghetti monster in order to justify not believing in the flying spaghetti monster.

Robert said...

Which god does this prove the existence of? Jahweh? Allah? Baal? Wotan? Sun Myung Moon? It seems to apply equally well to all of them, right? And therefore they all exist?

Crabgräss said...

No, Robert - just the one. It's a sort of special case.

fergusrush said...

Sorry, dawg, but you're mixing up two different ideas: I didn't say you "oppose God", I used "oppose" to refer to CC and "conservatism"; to you, I said you needed to have a definition of the thing whose existence you deny. Clear?

"I simply don't think he exists."

Don't think who exists, dawg? What is the "he" to which you refer? Define "he". Once you've done that, you will have demonstrated my point.

PSA,

My "team jesus pals"? LMFAO! I most certainly don't belong to "team jesus".

CC said...

*Sigh*.

Once again, poor ferg seems incapable of parsing simple English, so I will explain it to him again.

As an atheist, I don't need a complete (or even semi-complete) definition of the Christian "God" to state that I don't believe in it.

For me to profess a belief in something, I would normally require two things:

1) a clear definition/description of the object in question, and

2) abundant evidence that that thing exists.

If all I'm presented with is an arm-waving, wishy-washy, theologically inconsistent morass of nonsense, I really have no choice but to take the position that I don't believe in its existence.

Put another way, ferg, if someone came up to me and asked me whether I believe in the existence of "gazorninplats," since I have no idea what that could possibly mean, the only logical answer would be "no." If that word is left undefined, what other answer could there possibly be?

In short, ferg, Dr. Dawg is correct, and you are being your typical clueless self. We're all shocked, I'm sure.

fergusrush said...

"Atheists surely do not have to define what it is they don't believe in. Good grief!".....dawg

"I would normally require two things:

1) a clear definition/description of the object in question,....
"......CC

"In short, ferg, Dr. Dawg is correct,..." ....CC

So, when you say that dawg is correct, are you speaking about the part where he disagrees with you?
At least try to get your story straight.

Adam C said...

Fergus: clearly the quotes from DD and CC in your above comment are in complete agreement when placed in context. DD says that one should not have to define something that one does not believe in. CC says that he cannot believe in something without a clear definition. There is no contradiction there.


Please tell me that you're making some attempt at satirizing "cherrypicking quotes", and that you're not an idiot.

Crabgräss said...

FR, you have to distinguish between positive and negative. It's really important.

For example, inclusion of the word "not" in a phrase can substantially alter the meaning of what's being said. It's sort of a logic thing.

Dr.Dawg said...

"Sorry, dawg, but you're mixing up two different ideas: I didn't say you 'oppose God', I used "oppose" to refer to CC and 'conservatism'; to you, I said you needed to have a definition of the thing whose existence you deny. Clear?"

OK, last time for this, and then it's to the principal's office for you.

As noted, CC and I are in substantial agreement. You stated that atheists need to know what it is that they don't believe in. I pointed out that this is specious. I gave an example. How does one know, in detail, everything that does not exist? The preceding statement is a restatement of your indefensible position.

I don't believe in Woozles until you can *show* me a Woozle. I don't have to know bugger-all about Woozles in the meantime. Clearer?

CC said...

You'll note, dr. d, that ferg still has not yet wrapped his tiny mind around the difference between:

1) I do not believe there is a God, and

2) I believe there is no God.

The second position actually states an explicit belief in non-existence (which would have to be defended), while the first simply professes a lack of belief and requires no defense at all.

I even provided links to earlier posts I wrote in which I explained that distinction, which ferg has either not read, or does not understand. And until he does, he will continue to make an absolute ass of himself.

Dr.Dawg said...

I was pleased to see your earlier note about "perfection," CC. Seems I just reinvented the wheel.

Your distinction is important. Denying the existence of something is even more difficult, in fact, than proving the existence of something. Better simply to wait for evidence (or revelation) and take the sceptical position in the meantime.

Do I think there is likely something more to what we are than the world of the senses reveals? Well, put it this way: every age figures its got the whole thing taped. We're no different in the early 21st c. There must be more. But a Supreme Being? Show me. Because without evidence I am not about to assent to the existence of a chief/patriarch/President/Prime Minister in the sky. Cui bono, I say, and I don't like God's obvious resemblance to George W. Bush.

But I'll give Ferg this: he's genuinely trying to argue an indefensible position. That takes...well, I dunno. It's Friday, and I'm inclined to be generous. I'm still waiting for him to produce his Woozle, and in the meantime, I'm going to have a perfect mug of sake.

fergusrush said...

CC,

I did read your linked posts and I do understand them.

You wrote above:
1) I do not believe there is a God, and

2) I believe there is no God.


Clearly different, I've no problem with that. All I'm saying is that, in each case, the subject of the above sentences, "I", has to be aware of the object of each sentence, "God", for those statements to make sense. Such awareness implies a certain minimum knowledge about the object in order to make the judgements the sentences express.
Is this really an indefensible postion, in your eyes?

Dr.Dawg said...

All I'm saying is that, in each case, the subject of the above sentences, "I", has to be aware of the object of each sentence, "God", for those statements to make sense. Such awareness implies a certain minimum knowledge about the object in order to make the judgements the sentences express. Is this really an indefensible postion, in your eyes?

Well it is in mine. You tell me that something exists, and all I have is your account. Nothing more. And your account might be quite incoherent. Against all that, I simply say "Show me."

I don't have to know anything at all about the object of your fantasizing, which is likely your own invention. Your account alone is sufficient to bring out my rampant scepticism. Why is this so hard for you to understand?

Crabgräss said...

A couple of friends and I are driving just north of the city tonight to flog a dead horse that I found last weekend.

Any takers?

Crabgräss said...

No??

Oh, come on!!

mikmik said...

for my description of atheism as "strenuously denying the existence" of "God", it seems a suitable choice of words to describe a man who has published a book in defense of his atheism.

By fergusrush, at


Haha. You ignored me. I will descrie athiesm yo you right now, you stupid simple fuck. It has been described many times, and you still infantile straw mans, that have alwys been demonstrated.

You will look fucking stupid now, to all people that visit here. You are to be ridiculed, and you even like this!

cannot talk direct to me, you simply stupid fuck?. I piss into your yellow mouth, my words of contempt. Avoidance, you are the very essence of chicknhearted trivialitites.

You are a child. Talk about our existense? You avoided me.

Shut your fucking very sourmouth, my friend. So pathetic and demonstratably idiotic. What you represent is mocked and revealed, here.

Ti-Guy said...

We're no different in the early 21st c.

That means twenty-first century, in case anyone's wondering.

My whole life as an academic, spent railing against specialist, elitist vocabulary, all for naught.

...*sob*

malkie said...

cc said: 'Put another way, ferg, if someone came up to me and asked me whether I believe in the existence of "gazorninplats," since I have no idea what that could possibly mean, the only logical answer would be "no." If that word is left undefined, what other answer could there possibly be?'

But cc, we do have at least a *clue* about "gazorninplats". Quite apart from the Google results, there was an issue of Mad Magazine in the 60s (I think) with an article about the 'infinite number of monkeys' proposition, in which one of the monkeys typed: "To be or not to be: that is the gazorninplats. Don't you remember?

Adam C said...

Does that mean that "It was the best of times; it was the blurst of times" was a rip-off?

Dr.Dawg said...

"If God did exist, it would be necessary to abolish him." --Bakunin