an atheist viewpoint

thoughts from a non-theist

An Unconvincing Argument from the Comments

In the comments for an article I wrote back in November (here, if you’re interested) a chap called Brian Overholt posted something that I feel deserves addressing in a new post. The original post is about the problem certain Christians have when they claim to ‘have had things revealed to [them] in such a way as they can know them for certain’ by their invisible cloud buddy – basically, I pointed out that the ONLY way to be sure that the message you were getting was correct was to be able to check the veracity of the source of the revelation against what you already know. In other words, the only way to know ‘god’ is omniscient is to be omniscient oneself, so you can check you’re not being lied to.

Anyway, Brian had this to say, which I’ll go through point by point –

“One of the regular mantras of Presubullshitters is that they can have thing revealed to them in such a way that they ‘can know them for sure’. They claim that they know they are correct because an Omniscient being has told them so.”

This is a misrepresentation of the majority of Christians. In my experience, most Christians (myself included) do not claim any direct revelation from God… and would be suspicious of anyone claiming to have heard directly from God today.

Sadly it’s not a misrepresentation of a certain type of Christian. If Brian is lucky enough not to have run aground on the relentless hollow echo chamber of the Presuppositionalist gang he should count himself lucky. These guys (and it’s almost always guys) claim direct contact with their ‘god’, some (like Dan Marvin and Syecular) stating that part of this revelation was supernatural in origin! Even the more easily interacted with (‘easy’ as in ‘not complete arseholes honking their ‘opinions’ over and over in place of actual ‘debate”), such as Dustin Segers, seem to think their god has spoken directly to them

Direct revelation is predominately believed to have ceased with the apostles. God could certainly give new revelation today, but nobody believes that he will, and it would take a lot to convince anyone that a new revelation was legitimate.

Maybe amongst moderates, but I can assure you, Brian, that the fanatical lunatic Fundie Fringe firmly believes that they are getting messages directly from the supposed Creator of the Universe on a daily basis! To be honest, it’s not just the lunatic fringe! Want an example? This video is of a deluded, clearly mentally ill, individual being practically encouraged to share his insanity with the public –

No, that’s not from some comedy program, or an episode of ‘Lunatics Unleashed’, that’s a Christian TV channel gladly talking to a man who is clearly unstable! (You can read more about Pat Robertson’s bonkers outburst here)

So what does lead Christians to believe in an omniscient God? Primarily I would have to say the historical evidence is what convinces most of us. There is significant positive evidence for the accounts recorded in the Bible (especially considering how old they are), and very little evidence that directly negates the biblical accounts. 

Actually, you’ve got that almost 100% wrong. A year ago I dealt with this particularly faulty line of reasoning in this post, go read it then come back.

The only exceptions to this are possibly the creation and flood accounts… but while most Christians will defend the biblical accounts, those stories carry less weight than the History of Israel and the accounts of the ministry of Jesus, which are much more historically solid.

The history of Israel, as laid out in the Old Testament, is (up to the 7th Century BCE, during the reign of Josiah) almost entirely a work of fiction based propaganda. You really need to read ‘The Bible Unearthed’ by Finkelstein and Silberman if you want to learn what archaeology has to say about the ancient past of Israel (you can watch the TV documentary based on the book here). If you’re believing because you think the evidence supports the claims made in the Bible, then you’re on very shaky ground indeed.

Even Jesus has virtually no historical evidence. You may have been told time and time again that there’s loads of extra-Biblical texts that mention him, so you might be surprised to learn that there isn’t a SINGLE genuine account! Don’t believe me? See for yourself in this article I put together last February.

If the historical evidence is convincing enough to someone for them believe that Jesus really did what was written about him… then we have to believe that he was truly God, as he said he was. 

As we’ve seen though, there isn’t any historical evidence at all to even confirm the man existed! And to claim that ‘if Jesus existed then he’s definitely God’ is a logical fallacy that even a child would question.

Could you doubt that he was omniscient? Sure, but why would you? When the guy that walks on water and raises himself from the dead tells me he knows everything… I’m impressed enough to believe him. He’s obviously more than human, and I have no tangible reason to think that he’s lying.

You’ve also no tangible reason to believe he existed, so the rest of your rather bizarre argument for his omniscience collapsed completely

Then beyond historical evidence…..

(which doesn’t exist)

…there are still certain logical and scientific arguments to suggest a creator exists, such as the need for a primary cause and the overwhelming statistical improbability of life itself. 

The need for a ‘primary cause’? I think you need to read up on Quantum Vacuum Fluctuation. I wrote about that back in April, read it if you like, but I recommend you go straight to this excellent article on Infidels.org. I’d also suggest that something being ‘improbable’ is somewhat moot when we’re clearly here to discuss it. It is entirely likely that life is incredibly common throughout the Universe, certainly it is almost everywhere on this planet. Really, Brian, an argument from incredulity isn’t any way to foundation faith!

I find them convincing. And as long as I am convinced that there is a creator, I would think that such a transcendent being (whose knowledge was sufficient to create the universe) would know enough that, for all intents and purposes, he would seem to us to be omniscient.

If you find them convincing I can only assume that you’ve never really thought about, or researched, these issues. Your last line is plain weird though, are you saying that your god might not be omniscient at all, being instead merely almost omniscient? Surely if he’s not entirely omniscient he cannot be ‘god’?

Brian, I recommend you go away and do some research – start by watching ‘The Bible Unearthed’, or watching this video about the history of YHWH (which rips him from the realm of the ‘real’ into ‘the man made’). Your faith is built on sand.

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34 thoughts on “An Unconvincing Argument from the Comments

  1. Alex, Your interaction with Brian's post brought to mind this from Thomas Paine:"…admitting, for the sake of a case, that something has been revealed to a certain person, and not revealed to any other person, it is revelation to that person only. When he tells it to a second person, a second to a third, a third to a fourth, and so on, it ceases to be a revelation to all those persons. It is revelation to the first person only, and hearsay to every other, and, consequently, they are not obliged to believe it.It is a contradiction in terms and ideas to call anything a revelation that comes to us at second hand, either verbally or in writing. Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication. After this, it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it cannot be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner, for it was not a revelation made to me, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him." (Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, 1794)If Brian (or anyone else) wants to tell me about something that he or she thinks I should believe, especially when it is nothing more than hearsay, then such folks ought to understand that whatever it they are peddling needs to be checked against ones only court of appeal: reality. The bible fails this test from the get-go by reversing the subject-object orientation, (i.e., "In the beginning God created…"). The bible might as well just say, "In the beginning, we mystics posit the Primacy of Consciousness in the notion of God, a Consciousness who created Existence, even though doing so is a contradiction since Consciousness depends upon Existence. Anyway, once upon a time…" So when Brian writes that there is "very little evidence that directly negates the biblical accounts," not only has he has failed to acknowledge its hearsay nature, but also the most direct evidence of all: reality.Ydemoc

  2. It's comments like that one that make me glad you pop by, Ydemoc!BTW, I should point out, despite being (IMO) wrong about almost everything he said, at least Brian was polite!

  3. @Hezekiah – I think Alex demonstrates some serious purpose here, just by pointing out what an extraordinarily bad idea a god is.

  4. Alex,You wrote: "It's comments like that one that make me glad you pop by, Ydemoc!"Thanks, Alex. And it was your interaction with what Brian wrote that got my wheels turning. You wrote: "BTW, I should point out, despite being (IMO) wrong about almost everything he said, at least Brian was polite!"Yes, his tone was very non-confrontational. And if he happens to see what I wrote, I hope he doesn't think I was attempting to be anything other than the same. Sometimes, when in a rush to get my thoughts down, I can forget to check my writing for appropriate tone. Ydemoc

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  6. Trinity wrote: "Ydemoc you still interested in another man's genitals?"Trinity is referring to a discussion we had over on Dawson's blog. His claim is/was that Jesus was "fully man and fully god." Given his claim, I simply asked him if he thought Jesus ever had an erection. From what I recall, he didn't answer this. But I did get a lot of huffing and puffing from Trinity about how sick I was for asking it. My follow-up questions to this initial inquiry of Jesus having an erection were along the lines of "Well, if you're not willing to answer this question, have you ever thought about my question before, i.e., wondered yourself whether Jesus had an erection?"Trinity may have answered this one. I don't remember, frankly. But, given his latest inquiry, it's apparent that a Jesus erection has certainly been on Trinity's mind, if not the tip of his tongue.Good stuff, Trinity!Ydemoc

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  8. "it's apparent that a Jesus erection has certainly been on Trinity's mind, if not the tip of his tongue.":D

  9. Alex,To me it looks like that, instead of taking a step back, you've gone into a frenzy. The amount of writing you have put up in the last day is what one might expect from somebody on a bipolar high.I know, I am BP myself and recognise the energy used here. Surely you understand the more you attack these people the more they will write as well. It's a pointless exercise but yuou do it anyway. Why?Some of these new posts are so long no one will even bother to read them. It becomes mind numdbing to try to follow your cross referencing people who probably don't even exist. Just anonymous morons.Try looking after yourself and not worrying about all the arseholes out there.

  10. Nah, I'm fine. Seriously, if you think I've posted a lot this week, you should see previous months.Mostly I do it because I type very fast and think almost as quickly. But why should I explain myself to anyone? Care to explain that?

  11. Holy shit…I had no idea that the The Bible Unearthed book was available in video form!Thanks Alex, soon as I can tear myself away from **&!@ Skyrim I'm going to watch that sucker!

  12. I will agree with Rob on one point: Alex, if you're getting worn out by this, then by all means man, take a break or whatever it is you feel you have to do. Your health (physical and emotional, etc) is more important. It is entirely your call.I find it interesting though, that "Robby" an atheist is trying so bloody hard to get you to stop countering religious claims. Why does Robby care so much about shutting Alex up? Why bother? Given "Robby's" tone in his other posts to Alex, I find it damn hard to believe that he cares about Alex's health.As for why we fight against religion, I've made several comments within this post and Alex has posted about our reasons.

  13. Alex,There are times in life when you do actually have to account for your actions. Else you get put in enforced care (usually with ECT treatment) or jail.Still think you never need to explain yourself? No you don't have to explain yourself to me or anyone on this site. That is spot on and who needs it, frankly? It's just concern for you is all. Not used to that are you? Too paranoid to even contemplate someone should care about your health without some agenda. Wrong. My brother and I do it all the time, it's actually one of the businesses we run but we charge for it there. But we do about three times as much for zip.Mostly though I would suggest you need to explain yourself to you, Alex. You clearly do not understand yourself or what you do, or why.I mean, just look at your contrasts. One post you say no more Godcrap, next you write 5 more about just that.Then you state you are going to take a break or something similar and within a day produce about 5 times what I've seen from you since I first saw this site.And you claim you type fast and think fast and can produce far more than you have just done.As one of my favourite comedians says :"You're making my case", Alex.You see the most recognisable synmptom of bipolar is just what you say you do. Think fast, act fast. And you feel fine too. What a surprise. Anyone on a bp high feels great actually. Absolutely full of energy and talks and thinks so fast no one can keep up.The problem I see is you are angry while on that high. That's not normal as bp high's are mostly "happy", whatever that is. They don't write hate blogs, ever.So you are indeed a contrast but you don't understand how extreme that is yet, do you?You are showing all the signs of crashing my friend and, if you haven't been through that before, it will feel like you have died but somehow your body says you haven't. That's where you find the real Hell. In your own head. I did.At least go see a doc and ask the questions. Look up the symptoms of both depression and bp and try to be honest in answering them, for yourself only.Why do I care? Simple mate, because I've been there. That's actually what started me on the search for God and that concluded with me knowing there is no God. Thus I am atheist.Anyone who has suffered that illness will always try and help someone who shows the symptoms as blatantly as you. And you are not the only one on this site showing such either.Spit at me, do whatever you like Alex. It's your life, your brain you're fucking with, not mine. I came through and am fine these days but it was close.I note the above on your cooments box;"Feel free to write what you want, I don't moderate, delete, or ban…often (if you're a total dick, eventually I'll stop humouring you)."Given you have deleted at least some of my posts it would seem you DO care. A lot. But you don't know why do you? See a professional and find out. Don't have to tell anyone, it's only you that you should be looking after.And you are not doing that.Your deleting is simply fear of truth Alex. It shines through the rest of the crap. Fear.I have noticed there are others saying the same things about you on your site. Obsession. Why do you say one thing and do another. Those sorts of comments come from other than I. I just wrapped it all up for you so you can see it in one piece.And there are quite a few who show signs of various mental delusions, illnesses on this site. Schizoid, depression would be the two I've observed most commonly. These are typified by their unstoppable need to respond to anything even if it's not directly about them.

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  15. Hezekiah Ahaz has proved "Robbie" to be right about one thing at least:Robby HartAnd there are quite a few who show signs of various mental delusions, illnesses on this site. Schizoid, depression would be the two I've observed most commonly. These are typified by their unstoppable need to respond to anything even if it's not directly about them.

  16. HA had no problem implying such a thing about Alex though.

  17. Reynolds,You are the main one that comment was about. I respond to what I read. You respond to what you think is there. Big difference. You can't see the meaning behind words, you just take the word on face value and misconstrue the whole point. Always.Truly, you are lost.You do have delusional thinking going big time. And, no, I have no interest in helping you. Find out for yourself.

  18. Roddy, I'm starting to think you and Trinity might be the same person. Certainly you troll the same way.

  19. Rob, I have no interest in listening to you. Unless you care to show us a screen capture of either your psychology degree OR your psychiatric license, your little "analyses" of me doesn't mean fuck all.Besides, it's not my fault that HA walked into the ditch after that little statement of yours.So long and fuck off if you don't like us here.

  20. You may have a point, Alex…I just realized that "Rob" and "HA" both like to mis-spell my name, and they both like to insult the mental stability and intelligence of those they don't like.Meh. I don't really care though.

  21.      Oh, hi, glad you could make it. What took you so long?

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  23. Alex, is it possible to repost that one comment of Hezekiah that I was responding to? It was the one right after "Rob's" comment accusing us of mental illness. HA went and complimented "Rob" on that post, and in the process, did exactly what Rob accused me of.

  24. RobNo Reynolds. I do not like telling people they show signs of mental illness at all. It's the last thing I would wish on anybody, it's a living hell.So that's why you said earlier that:And, no, I have no interest in helping you. Find out for yourself.! And now you say:Why do you find it hard to believe R? Paranoia is alive and well, right. I mean, I say it, you agree and you find it hard to believe I care.Look at your comment above. It's not paranoia to call out an asshole on his behavior now is it?If it is then you must think that everyone around you is "paranoid".You're taking this trolling thing too far. Now you're starting to trip up over your own statements.As for the "accusing", please. Accusing can be used for anything that a person would not want to be. And no, I would not "stand in the street daring the black plague to get me" are you nuts?Where did you even get that idea? All I did was ask for your credentials so that your "diagnosis" can be verified. At least with the black plague and other physical diseases the symptoms are obvious.Not that you care…you're trying to make yourself look sympathetic to those with real mental disorders while casting aspersions upon my own mental state.Not convincing after some of that shite you've said earlier.RobFurther to the name game. If you look back you'll notice you actually used that name yourself (with an S) which is where others got it from originally. Go, take a look. It's your writing.Do I keep using it over and over? (rolleyes) Do I repeatedly call you "Heart" over and over?It's not like, say, with the teabaggers who deliberately took that name themselves then found out too late what it really meant!Still waiting on the screenshot of your degree which shows that you have a clue as to what you're talking about with your "diagnosis"Other than trolling why are you still here? When you first showed up it was to make a big show about how we as atheists shouldn't even care about what xians are doing. I believe Alex has posted some reasons as to why we do this.AronRa has made a youtube video that does some explaining why we fight the religious.RobJust noticed your comment about me not caring about Alex's health yet you say the same thing. And so has Alex in other words. How dare you assume what I feel! You haven't a clue and I do not lie.Unless you can justify what you just said above then you do lie.Your problem is this: I'm not the only one whose "character" is being revealed the more that they type.I'll say one thing though: Conversing with you is starting to make playing Skyrim look like a productive use of my time.As for what Hezikiah Ahaz said:I pointed out two places where HA and "Rob" acted similar and say that maybe Alex has a point in his suspicions.That's a lot different then "not being able to tell one apart from one another".Mind you, for the purposes of trolling I guess it's close enough. I'm starting to get now why Alex is now deleting HA's posts. HA is supposed to be a xian while "Rob" is supposed to be an atheist.

  25. Ah, yes, Robby and Trinity ARE the same person. Time to delete Robby as well.

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  28. Sadly, this is probably the most honest thing he's said. Typical xian. Be thankful we don't spam your little blog. Though it looks like it could use the traffic.There is a little something called "IP tracking". I and the others you mentioned each have a unique one. No chance for you to copy those, no matter what kind of proxy you use. Thanks to you, Alex will have to resort to Moderating this blog. Though I suspect your true goal is to get him to shut it down altogether. Shutting up the competition…again, typical xian.

  29. Trinity wrote: "You'll never know or maybe even Ydemoc playing games with you."Trinity, is your evidence for me playing games stronger, not as strong, or equal to the evidence you cite for your belief in an invisible magic being? Ydemoc

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  31. I'm not surprised that Trinity deleted the comment above, as it shows just how deranged Christianity is making the poor chap. Here's what he wrote – "Reynold ahhahahahhah.Don't listen to Ydemoc that's me.Who's who?hahahaah"Quite quite mad.

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  33. Trinity wrote: "Don't listen to Ydemoc that's me."I guess when Trinity's bible tells him not to lie, he figures this doesn't apply to him. But we already knew that, didn't we?Trinity's lie is just another example of the lengths Christians will go in their futile effort to make the arbitrary come true.Lie, kill, and steal: All okay, as long as you believe an invisible magic being is on your side.Lovely.Ydemoc

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