Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – claims, evidence and research when debating a literalist Christian

Here on WordPress, you can search for blog posts on a certain subject by using keywords. As a blogger, you can set keywords yourself (you can see them at the bottom of this post) and I also think that the system also finds them to be able to bring back search results. I have a search set up to bring up posts that reference atheists and atheism. Most of these are from atheists, but about a third of them are by theists, usually Christians. Of these, in my experience about 90% of them do their best to try to convert atheists and to disparage them, often repeating false claims, making baseless claims without evidence and making some very poor arguments. The internet is certainly full of such nonsense, from conspiracy theorists, holocaust deniers, xenophobic twits, etc.

Since I do not like to allow such things to remain unaddressed, and don’t have an infinite amount of time, I occasionally pick one and ask questions about their post. In some cases, there are no comments allowed, so I ask questions through mail form. Sometimes I get a response, sometimes I don’t.  One of the other respondents is here, where again Pascal’s Wager is being touted.

Those readers who have been with me awhile may want to find other things to read since some of this may be repetitive for them. The bit below isn’t as biting as my writings usually are since I was behaving.

I recently found a post on a Christian pastor’s website that can be distilled down to: Richard Dawkins should believe in my god because there he says that there is a probability that this god exists and any possibility should be taken. Most will recognize this as a variant as Pascal’s Wager. I asked him this question about his assertion: “If your argument is valid (that Dawkins should worship a god since he says that there is a small probability of one), why do you not believe in other gods and live your life as if they aren’t there?”

We started off having a pleasant discussion, with him complimenting the question but it quickly turned south when he declared that nothing would change his mind and that he was not going to participate anymore, that how dare I explain what a circular argument is to someone who has taken years to get a philosophy degree, accusations that I was attempting to humiliate him, that I didn’t respect his religion, and told me that he wished me good luck because, as an atheist, I’d need it. Unfortunately, this is how more than a few of these interactions go; rather than answers, I get threats.

I informed him that I was going to use my correspondence to him as a basis for a blog post and asked if he would allow me to post his side of the correspondence to make sure everyone could see his side. I wasn’t too surprised that he refused, despite no reason given. So, I will use what I wrote in reply to address the general arguments that have been offered by various Christians in the past here and on the . No need to let research and writing go to waste.

Argument 1: I believe in only one god and the others don’t exist. I know that this is true because their claims are contradictory. The claims of other religions are untrue because there is no evidence to support them. I know this as a certainty; there is no probability of another god. It’s illogical not to believe in my god because there is a low possibility of it existing.    

The problem with this claim is that it needs evidence to support the claim that the theist’s god exists and no others do. The bible is offered as evidence, but what most theists don’t acknowledge is that the bible is the claim, not the evidence. The bible makes the claim that the god exists and the events therein are true; it cannot be used as evidence for the very claims it makes.   Dawkins, in the discussion of his seven point scale, admits that there may be some low probability of a god when he scores himself at 6.9, but there is the same probability for the existence of fairies. We can’t be absolutely sure that *some* god doesn’t exist. In that the theist’s argument depends on this probability, their claim that they know a certainty about other gods doesn’t work. Continue reading


What the Boss Likes – update on the remodel, random things I’ve enjoyed

The kitchen is finished all but for the painting. Since this was nice fresh drywall, I had to give it two coats of sealer/primer and now am *finally* getting the color layer on, a lavender called “garden fairy” (I want a job naming colors). I’m doing a high gloss finish since it’s a kitchen and we’ve had splatters appear on our 9 foot ceilings by evidently some spaghetti sauce trying to hit escape velocity (like this steel plate may or may not have done). Now for two hours of waiting to see how it looks on one wall before continuing.

Right now, I’m making some pasta puttanesca, resting my very sore body (using all sorts of muscles I don’t usually use) and unfortunately just crushed a chili pepper for it in my fingers and touched my nose. Whee.

Now onto the random bits.

We had a bottle of Evolucio Blaufrankisch from Hungary. Very good red wine with a very cherry taste. Also had a bottle of Primal Roots California Red Blend. This doesn’t have any cabernet sauvignon, so it is light on the tannins.

Baked some triple cream brie.  Very good with cherry preserves, roast beef (a leftover) and fig and olive relish from Tait Farms.  All with baguette like bread.

I watched Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas. This is a Dreamworks animated film from the early 2000s. Though it is not a “real” Sinbad movie (those are the ones from the 60’s-70’s with Harryhausen stop motion animation), it was good. A strong female character, a good villain and fun dialogue, some of which may generate uncomfortable questions from children to their parents. A good adventure flick.

Also watched Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Just beautiful and a good story. nothing particularly new but are there really any “new” stories?   I also loved Besson’s The Fifth Element.

I got a copy of What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. for Christmas This is by the fellow who does the XKCD webcomic. I chortled over it as I was reading it and had a great bit of fun learning new facts, like exactly how amanita mushroom toxin works. You can see what if questions and answers on the website if you follow the “what if” up in the left corner or here:

The weather has been colder and snowier than usual (we’re getting a touch of the nasty noreaster coming up the coast of the US), at least usual for the overly warm winters we’ve had recently. I have a pair of Carolina wrens as visitors and have given them a stick of butter to peck at, as well as some bread and cat food.   Two years ago, we had a nest of them in a roll of carpet I had put out to dispose of. They are notorious for putting nests in silly places, and this was right outside of our kitchen door too. We went out once without paying attention and there was a sudden explosion of fledglings. We tried to catch them and put them back but they took off under the hostas, never to be seen again. No idea if the little critters survived. We never saw this species before until that incident two years ago.

Well, that’s about it. Next post will be about a recent discussion I’ve had with a theist and some information about how facts and evidence work in supporting claims. Fair warning, if you don’t want to see my unvarnished opinions on politics and religion, avoid blog post starting with “Not So Polite Conversation”.