Sunday Toons: The Emperor’s New Apologetics

In the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes, a couple of con men exploit people’s vanity by pretending to be tailors whose work is so exquisite that only the truly wise can see it. The emperor, not wanting people to doubt his wisdom, ends up parading around nude in public, and all the courtiers and nobles convince themselves that they, too, can see his fine new clothes, and are therefore not stupid. The charade comes to a humiliating end when a child too young to be vain about his intellect asks, “Mommy, why is that man naked?”

Of course, nobody would try to pull a scam like that today, would they? Well, not unless they were selling apologetics and scholarship instead of trousers and jackets. And speaking of which, here’s an excerpt from JP Holding’s attempt to deal with last week’s Toons.

Dumplin’ just shows how stupid he is when he says that my observation was “trivial and superficial.” Dumbass, it’s the key to Paul’s whole argument! You’re just too stupid to understand the relevance of appeal to the example of an ingroup leader within the context of a collectivist society.

Yes folks, JP has an argument so refined and so sublime that only the truly wise can see it. You can’t find any fault with it. You can’t even point out any shortcomings. If you criticize it at all, you’re just proving that you are not wise. Obviously so, since you cannot perceive the brilliance of JP’s argument, which as we mentioned before is so refined and so sublime that only the truly wise can see it. And I don’t care what dangly bits you happen to see hanging out.

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Posted in Amusements, Sunday Toons, The Gypsy Curse, Unapologetics. 7 Comments »

TIA Tuesday: The chainsaw runs out of gas

I’ve been looking forward to the end of this chapter of TIA: low-hanging fruit is supposed to be easy to pick, but when it hangs so low that you have to squat down to reach it, it gets tiresome. At least “Occam’s Chainsaw” sputters to a halt on a fairly light note as he tries to address what he calls the “three rational atheisms.” And lo and behold! Vox falls prey to the Gypsy Curse!

There are three variants of atheism that can be considered at least partly rational: these can be described as Somerset atheism, Nietzschean atheism, and Post-Nietzschean atheism.

Somerset atheism is the common practice of moral parasitism described in the previous section. It is a partially rational atheism that functions perfectly well on an individual level but cannot function on a societal level because it depends entirely on the existence of an external morality to support it.

Christianity, of course, borrows its morals (such as they are) from the surrounding cultures, which is why the only real moral innovation in Christianity is the impractical and rarely-practiced notion of loving your enemies and doing good to those who hate you. In his haste to do evil to his enemies, Vox accuses them of a flaw that is actually a Christian failing, thus fulfilling the Curse and repeating the stumble that has brought him down so often in TIA. But we still have two more atheisms to go…

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Posted in Atheistic Morality, The Gypsy Curse, TIA, Unapologetics. 3 Comments »

Flatland: the rest of the story

I’m pleased to see that Anthony Horvath wants to discuss my analysis of his attempt to excuse the contradictions in the Gospel story. Alas, in true Gypsy Curse fashion, he seems to have misunderstood my arguments, and consequently accuses me of having misunderstood him. For instance, I remarked early on that, while Horvath’s announced topic concerned transcendence and immanence, the bulk of his discussion concerned what God can and cannot do, i.e. how transcendence applies to the question of what God can and cannot do. Horvath apparently understood that to mean that I thought transcendence was an entirely separate and unrelated topic, which gives him a license to dismiss my entire argument as the irrelevant consequences of an incorrect analysis.

H. Professor’s failure to see how these two fundamental claims about the nature of the thing under discussion connect to the rest of the argumentation I made is the underlying mistake of both of his posts.  That we are talking about an entity that is both transcendent and immanent is absolutely critical to the rest of the argumentation.  In fact, H. Professor makes complaints that I already answered- but because he fails to see the relation between these attributes and the rest I said, he fails to recognize them.

The last sentence reveals the second prong of Horvath’s attempt to make my arguments irrelevant: because I considered each of his arguments step by step, pointing out the problems that require further defense, he accuses me of raising objections that he had already answered (in subsequent parts of his post). He apparently did not understand that I was following the flow of his own logic: that there must be a reason why the “God can’t do nonsense” argument does not suffice to end the discussion, and why Horvath feels compelled to seek other solutions. I simply laid out what those unresolved problems are, at the beginning of the discussion, so that we could approach the rest of the discussion with an appropriate background.

There is a lot more I could have said, of course, and I’m grateful to Mr. Horvath for having given me the opportunity to explore this topic further. He raises some interesting points, and clarifies some others, and, if you can bear with me through a longish post, I think we’ll see why his defense of the Gospel actually constitutes a full-fledged concession of defeat, and a retreat into universal agnosticism.

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Posted in CAMWatch, Realism, Science, The Gypsy Curse, Unapologetics. 6 Comments »

“Fan” mail

From time to time I see references to this blog in the comments people submit to other blogs. They’re especially interesting when they come from Vox Day supporters, like this one does. I’m particularly fascinated when Vox’s supporters find fault with my arguments at the precise points where I agree with Vox.

For example, in referring to last Tuesday’s TIA post, “Mike T” writes:

It is a very weak argument, that fails to even understand the point that Vox was making that the Golden Rule is simply not a moral statement at all because it provides no inherent, objective guidance on what we should do. If a psychopath or a sociopath were to follow the golden rule as the foundation of their moral code, it could lead to some extremely *ahem* “interesting” situations. Hence why Vox said that the Golden Rule only makes sense as a means of applying a pre-existing, objective moral system to your actions.

Mind you, Vox didn’t actually say that the Golden Rule makes sense as a means of applying a pre-existing, objective moral system (at least not in Chapter 14 of TIA), but he did say that it was not a perfect basis for determining morality, and I did agree that “Yes, the Golden Rule is not a perfect and infallible guide to morality.” But if agreeing with Vox makes my argument weaker, then perhaps I ought to revisit the topic.

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Posted in Atheistic Morality, The Gypsy Curse, TIA, Unapologetics. 1 Comment »

Colson’s Religulous Review

Chuck Colson recently watched Bill Maher’s Religulous, but he’s not too offended by it. Instead, he sees it as just another platform from which to preach his gospel. He zeroes in on a scene where Maher is interviewing some believers at a truckers’ chapel.

He reminds them that guys in prisons and foxholes hang on to religion because they have nothing else. And then he says, “But you guys aren’t dumb.” In other words, Maher’s point is that the truckers should know better than to believe in God—unlike all those dumb prisoners and soldiers out there who don’t know any better.

Having been in prison myself, let me speak for those prisoners. Recognizing your need for God isn’t a question of “smart or stupid.” It’s a matter of recognizing who you are; your own insufficiency, the sin in your own heart—and prisoners get that. And then you have to recognize your desperate need for a Savior.

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Posted in The Gypsy Curse, Unapologetics. 1 Comment »

Sunday Toons: More blaming the victim

Continuing his critique of my post on Compromising God, JP Holding devotes a separate page to the question of what atonement means, especially in light of his views on eternal punishment. (Oddly, he entitles his web page “Apologetics vs. Bible-based faith,” an apparent reference to a completely different and unrelated post.) And as usual, he begins by urging his readers to assume that I’m stupid (and thus can safely be ignored).

When people can’t get yoor basic stance on things right, you know you’re dealing with some stupid. Guess what that makes poor Dumplin’ Dumbash.

His address to my material on the atonement begs to assume that I hold a view of hell as “eternal torment.” Not quite — if by that Dumpy means literal fire and brimstone.

The gypsy strikes again: Holding has garbled what I said about his stance on eternal punishment. I didn’t call it “eternal torment” nor did I say anything about “literal fire and brimstone.” I used the same term Holding uses: “eternal punishment.” But perhaps that’s also wrong? Let’s look at the link Holding has posted (twice!) that explains what he really means about hell.

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Posted in Sunday Toons, The Gypsy Curse. 3 Comments »

Sunday Toons: The authority of men

In this week’s Sunday toon, JP Holding explains why he responds to my posts by giving me “mean” nicknames, insulting my intelligence, and in general mocking me personally in any way he can. He does it because

It’s so much easier to attack the person than attack the argument…

Of course, true to the spirit of the Gypsy Curse, he intended that as a personal attack on me. Nor did he stop there: the full sentence reads, “It’s so much easier to attack the person than attack the argument; but to be fair, Dumpy isn’t competent in even knowing what the arguments are, or even who is making them, so who can blame him?”

Jesus must really have ticked off that poor old gypsy.

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Posted in Sunday Toons, The Gypsy Curse, Unapologetics. 17 Comments »

Sunday Toons: The Trilemma’s New Clothes

For today’s trip to toonland, I want to finish up a few loose ends in Holding’s attempted defense of C. S. Lewis’ famous “Liar, Lord or Lunatic” trilemma. First, though, let’s take a quick look at a comment Holding made about this blog in the “July Screwballs” section of theologyweb. He introduces a comment of mine with this little gem:

And, Dumplin’ Dumbash on why he responds to me, and why he therefore has Dunning Syndrome:

The reference to “Dunning Syndrome” is apparently a reference to an Ig-Nobel-award-winning paper (available in PDF here) in which authors Kruger and Dunning discuss people with very low mental aptitude (e.g. 12th percentile) having impaired ability to assess their own intellectual performance. Wikipedia has an entry for this phenomenon under “Dunning-Kruger Effect” (not “Dunning Syndrome), and describes it as “the phenomenon wherein people who have little knowledge (or skill) tend to think they know more (or have more skill) than they do.” Holding wants to accuse me of suffering from this problem, but in his rush to accuse, he mistakenly calls it a “syndrome” and gets the name of the authors wrong, thus demonstrating that he really doesn’t know as much about this condition as he thinks he knows. The gypsy curse strikes again!

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The Gypsy Curse

It’s like a scene from an old B-grade black-and white horror flick: Jesus is walking down some dank alleyway in Jerusalem and carelessly bumps into an old gypsy woman, knocking her in the mud and muck, and then thoughtlessly laughing at her misfortune. Her deepset eyes blaze, and she scowls at him. “A curse upon you,” she mutters. “From now on, your followers and supporters will be unable to accuse their critics of any fault or fallacy without being guilty of the same thing themselves.” He, like all B-grade movie heroes, doesn’t take her seriously until her curse starts coming true. Only then does he realize, to his horror, that the curse is inexorable, inescapable, and infallible.

I’m not the only person to see this curse in action. PZ Myers has a post about a reporter, in Salon no less, who falls prey to the old gypsy’s revenge. According to the reporter,

Myers has earned notoriety with his blog, Pharyngula, in which he reports on new developments in biology and indiscriminately excoriates those he views as hostile to science, a pantheon of straw men and women that includes theologians, journalists and churchgoers.

Having accused Myers of excoriating straw men and women, he then goes on to attack a bizarre version of Myers’ views which he seems to have defined by taking the opposite of whatever Myers actually said, and calling it “what he really means.”

And in the background, thin and distance, you can almost hear a gleeful cackle.

 
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Posted in Amusements, The Gypsy Curse. 8 Comments »