Friday, July 5, 2013

A “Debate” With a Moron About The Irrational Atheist


On Amazon.com I commented on a reviewer's review of The Irrational Atheist to which I have written an in-depth response here. This moron's review and, at the time of this writing, our subsequent back and forth comments can currently be found here.

I quickly left this attempt at a debate because the guy was... well... an asshole. I guess I should have thought twice about trying to discuss anything with him/her, since even their review smacks of idiocy and immaturity. But that's my fault. What follows is the exchange in its entirety with my comments in hindsight about the discussion in bold. My comments will be blockquotes. FYI: My handle on Amazon is “PrimeTruth.”

PrimeTruth:

EM,

Since you asked for atheists to comment on your review I decided to take you up on your offer. Having read Vox's book a few years ago, and after having heavily researched his sources and arguments, I can assure you and anyone else here that Vox does indeed use a lot of strawmen, along with getting several facts wrong. Having said that, he does point out a handful of errors by the New Atheists, many of which many other Christian authors hadn't found until Vox's book came out. So, on that point I give Vox kudos on those points. However, overall the book is largely filled with errors.

The following a few examples:

In the chapter on Daniel Dennett Vox wrote,

"The most interesting thing about Breaking the Spell is not the way it differs from the other three atheists' cases against religion, but the way it specifically refutes them. After Harris does his excellent Chicken Little imitation by clucking about how religion is going to end life on the planet at any moment, Hitchens metaphorically calls the poison control center on it, and Dawkins slanderously asserts that it is worse than child molestation, it comes as a bit of a shock to read Dennett's calm declaration that the secular proposition that religion does more harm than good, to an individual or to society, `has hardly begun to be properly tested,' let alone conclusively proved."

When I read this passage I first believed Dennett was referring to whether or not religious belief was potentially dangerous. After looking up the quote myself it seems that the way Vox presents this partial quote is misleading. Dennett says,

"Even the secular and nonpartisan proposition that religion in general does more good than harm, either to the individual believer or to society as a whole, has hardly begun to be properly tested, as we saw in chapters 9 and 10."

I read both chapters nine and ten to see what Dennett was referring to and it wasn't religious violence or how dangerous religion is. In chapter nine Dennett talks about the studies that show religion seems to improve health and notes that it's not known for sure either way yet. In chapter ten Dennett discusses the subject of morality and religion and concludes that the "presumed relation between spirituality and moral goodness is an illusion."

Vox clearly took Dennett out of context because it wasn't the dangerous consequences of religion Dennett was referring to, but health and morality, which Dennett agrees with the New Atheists in that religion often causes people to act in violent ways.

In the chapter titled "The Red Hand of Atheism" Vox makes use of the old Communists-killed-a-bunch-more-people-so-atheism-is-worse-than-Christianity canard. Here, his entire premise is based upon the fallacy cum hoc ergo proper hoc. He fails to show how atheism was the cause of the Communist atrocities in any way and ignores the fact that it was the Communist ideology, not atheism, which is why I was shocked to find this statement in the chapter,

"The reason Communism has so habitually devolved into violence is because it is an impressively stupid vision that violates both basic human nature in the form of the individual's desire for material betterment as well as the economic law of supply and demand. Its early institution was such a disaster that Lenin was quickly forced to revise some of his more dysfunctional policies, but he was the first in a long, lethal line of Communist leaders who made a practice of always attempting to force their populations to fit the Communist mold instead of adjusting the utopian vision to fit humanity."

Exactly! And when people do not want their property seized the Communists take it by force and further oppression takes place. The answer is right under Vox's nose the entire time, but again, his goal is not historical truth but Christian propaganda.

One of the more surprising things I learned is how badly the chapter on Sam Harris was argued. Based upon the hype I'd read in reviews and Vox's bold and confidant (or perhaps more accurately overconfident) chapter title, "The End of Sam Harris," I was expecting some major butt-kicking. Unfortunately, this alleged butt-kicking never came. While I agree that Vox pointed out Harris' error with the Red/Blue State argument, and he also pointed out that, unlike as Harris seems to imply, most suicide bombers are not Muslim. He also points out the fact that, unlike what Harris argues, the wars of religion have not caused "millions of deaths in the last ten years." Vox gave a high estimate of around 750,000. While Harris was wrong about the total number dead Harris' point is still valid in that many needless deaths have occurred due to beliefs that are no more real than that of Santa Clause. Roughly half a million deaths have occurred due to religious wars in the ten years prior to the publication of The End of Faith.

Out of the fifteen arguments Vox presented against Harris in that chapter only three were valid. The other twelve were either Vox taking Harris out of context or he misread Harris.

The other chapters follow much the same pattern as the one about Harris, with strawmen, quotes taken out of context, and mostly what I call nitpicking; the focusing on statements and arguments that are minor and not central to a book's main premise. Take, for example, this enormous case of nitpicking by Vox in the chapter on Richard Dawkins. Vox writes,

"In Unweaving the Rainbow, Dawkins writes: 'By more general implication, science is poetry's killjoy, dry and cold, cheerless, overbearing and lacking in everything that a young Romantic might desire. To proclaim the opposite is one purpose of this book, and I shall here limit myself to the untestable speculation that Keats, like Yeats, might have been an even better poet if he had gone to science for some of his inspiration.'

Of course, this speculation is as improbable as it is untestable, given the centuries of evidence demonstrating that science is largely incapable of providing the inspiration for passable poetry, much less the sort of great art that religion has reliably inspired for millennia."

Vox spends several pages arguing against this unimportant opinion of Dawkins'! Who cares!? It was merely Dawkins' opinion and he even admitted as much!

Other issues include the facts that the Israeli-Palastinian conflict is based upon religion; the same with the Inquisition and the Crusades, at least in part. For example, the current president of Israel, Shimon Peres, has written, "There is no argument in Israel about our historic rights in the land of Israel. The past is immutable and the Bible is the decisive document in determining the fate of our Land." In addition, Mordechai Nisan, an Israeli scholar of Middle East Studies at the Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has written, "At the very dawn of Jewish history, contact with the Land of Israel established the principle that the presence of non-Jews in the country is morally and politically irrelevant to the national right of the Jews to settle and possess the Land... The Bible states the Jewish right regardless of non-Jewish presence."

Also, atheism did not fuel the Communist atrocities. Their ideology drove their actions. I've written an in-depth piece about this here: http://www.skepticink.com/azatheist/2012/09/04/the-cause-of-the-20th-century-atrocities-was-not-atheism/

One final error, and a big one. Vox wrote, "Sam Harris makes the second version of this argument in Letter to a Christian Nation when he writes that 93 percent of the members of the National Academy of Sciences do not accept the idea of God. Again, this has no significance regarding the fact of God's existence or nonexistence, it is simply intended to pressure the non-atheist to accept the opinion of the elite academy members in lieu of his own."

Sam Harris was not using the National Academy of Sciences to argue against the belief in god; not at all. It's hard to understand how Vox so misinterpreted this paragraph. Especially since the header to this section was titled, "Are Atheists Evil?" This is what he actually wrote,

"If you are right to believe that religious faith offers the only real basis for morality, then atheists should be less moral than believers. In fact, they should be utterly immoral. Are they? Do members of atheist organizations in the United States commit more than their fair share of violent crimes? Do the members of the National Academy of Sciences, 93 percent of whom reject the idea of God, lie and cheat and steal with abandon? We can be reasonably confidant that these groups are at least as well behaved as the general population."

Harris was not using scientists in anyway to argue for the non-existence of god, but was clearly discussing atheism and morality.

Quite frankly, Vox got so much wrong it would take an entire book to point it all out.

Thanks.

As can be clearly seen I addressed a total of five separate errors in The Irrational Atheist. 1) I addressed one example where Vox took Daniel Dennett out of context; 2) I addressed the Communism/Atheism nonsense, with a link no less, where a detailed response could be found (footnotes included!); 3) I addressed Vox's issue with a statement about science being unable to inspire (which isn't even true!) by Richard Dawkins; 4) I addressed in some detail why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is steeped in religious causes, with a few quotes proving my point; 5) I addressed one instance where Vox took Sam Harris out of context. Oddly, however, this imbecile claims I didn't provide any evidence or arguments! My, that sounds so very familiar....

EM:

Since Dennett came out looking pretty good in the book and it wasn't even primarily about him, I don't feel like addressing the issue as to whether he took Dennett out of context; especially since you seem to acknowledge that he didn't take Hitchens and Dawkins out of context in their slander. Your one possible valid point doesn't make for much I'm afraid. I'm not sure it is even valid but I don't want to look it up because it won't effect my view on the strengths of the book.

As for the rest:

You say:
"While Harris was wrong about the total number dead Harris' point is still valid in that many needless deaths have occurred due to beliefs that are no more real than that of Santa Clause. Roughly half a million deaths have occurred due to religious wars in the ten years prior to the publication of The End of Faith."

My response:
Firstly, you concur that Harris was wrong. Good. Nowhere does Vox say that the deaths that could be attributable to religion weren't needless, only that Harris was in error as to the number. As to your numbers, please provide your source and how they reached that number. I like the reference to Santa Clause. Atheists are so clever. And they never use the same line twice. See below where I give my opinion as to the creativity of atheists.

You say:
Out of the fifteen arguments Vox presented against Harris in that chapter only three were valid. The other twelve were either Vox taking Harris out of context or he misread Harris.

My response:
No proof. Just your opinion. I'm glad you said three were valid. That's more than I would give Dawkins and his crew.

You say:
...with strawmen, quotes taken out of context... etc etc.

My response:
Here is the definition for straw man argument:
2. An argument or opponent set up so as to be easily refuted or defeated.
You either don't know what this phrase means or you're hoping I don't know. Whichever it is, I don't care. It is just a canard atheists use. A canard means something that is unfounded or false. When I use words or phrases like ad hominem, canard, straw man argument etc, I know what they mean and I use them honestly and correctly. Try doing the same and at least prove it's legitimate usage by giving a real example. So far I haven't seen you give one. Vox addresses all their major arguments and destroys them. He doesn't change their arguments to make them weaker. As to whether he takes them out of context, that remains to be seen. Overwhelmingly I would say that is false.

Your points about Vox Day's opinion about the poetic ability of atheists is irrelevant. I don't think historically they make good poets, writers or musicians but that's my opinion. I don't need to prove it. Dawkins says they make good poets, Vox and I say they don't. Very few notable poets were atheists but who cares? This is an issue of aesthetics and is irrelevant when discussing facts. Bringing this up really indicates how weak your case is.

Your points about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict being about religion is ironic given that you even quote Israelis saying that it is about land: "There is no argument in Israel about our historic rights in the land of Israel." That was exactly Vox's point; that most wars are about land. Religion is often appealed to in that context. Vox said as much but the issue is most often about territory. In your citation, the word land comes up four times and God not once. You really should be careful in citing something that ends up refuting your position.

You must forgive me but it's getting late and I am not going to look at your link tonight. I will say that given the statistics of how many dictators were mass murderers and also atheists is rather staggering. We can play charades and pretend that there is no relation between the two but that is silly. The correlation is overwhelmingly evident. Vox Day gives the probability in the book and it's correct. There is a very good probability that if a leader is an atheist he is also a mass murderer and a tyrant. The statistics prove it isn't mere coincidence. You can deny it but I don't really care.

You say:
"Harris was not using scientists in anyway to argue for the non-existence of god, but was clearly discussing atheism and morality."

I think Harris did throw that last bit in there to do just what Vox says that he did. Otherwise, he could have used a little more diverse statistic. Citing numbers among the so called intelligentsia was a calculated move. Atheists are often ardent proselytizers.

As it stands, you pointed out one thing that Vox may have taken out of context. Honestly, it's just too late and I am too lazy to look it up right now. That one piece of partially incorrect information is not enough to effect my view of the book. Dennett still said what Vox said he did, even if it was in reference to something else.

I have to hand it to you. I have the review up not even a day and you jumped on it. I noticed that atheists are busy on here. They make up such a small percentage of people but they make up for it by their tireless zeal. I usually don't care what atheists believe but it's their rampant propagandizing that troubles me. Even as a deist, I didn't make attacking religion my main focus even though I was against it. I had a life outside of that.

As can be clearly seen “EM” didn't bother to address how Vox took Dennett out of context. Then, he congratulates me on admitting that Sam Harris made a few errors. I sensed a sense of pride or superiority in his tone, as if Harris or the New Atheists as a whole are completely discredited if they happen to make even one little error. That's obviously an incredible failure of logic on his/her part.

I'm confused by this statement as well, where he said, “No proof. Just your opinion. I'm glad you said three were valid. That's more than I would give Dawkins and his crew.”

Well, had he asked, I could have easily pointed him to my extensive rebuttal to the entire book, rather than simply dismissing what I said without even trying to assume that someone might have done some research on what they say. Then, he shows his close-mindedness by admitting that he'd never concede an argument to the New Atheists. That's highly irrational and highly intellectually dishonest.

He then goes on a rant about what “out of context” and “strawmen” are, when I know perfectly well what they are. I note each instance in my review and gave a few examples in the post. I suppose he/she would rather rant about nonsense than respond to the facts and quotes I cited, which is why I accuse him/her of bluster later on. Really, that's pretty much all this person did and I was finally compelled to call him/her on it.

He/she then makes an enormous blunder and says of the quotes I cited of Israelis citing religious motivations for their attacks upon the Palestinians: “In your citation, the word land comes up four times and God not once. You really should be careful in citing something that ends up refuting your position.”

I literally laughed out loud the first time I read this, since each quote cited mentioned the Bible as the influential document regarding their beliefs! Either he/she didn't read the quotes carefully enough, or he/she is simply intellectually dishonest (or blind).

Regarding the Communism/Atheism charge, he/she simply restated Vox's argument which I had already responded to above, and didn't seem to bother to read the link I gave. And he/she later claims I don't know how to debate? I think this person has some form of personality disorder.


PrimeTruth:

Hi EM,

Thanks for the reply. You wrote, "[...] I don't feel like addressing the issue as to whether he took Dennett out of context; especially since you seem to acknowledge that he didn't take Hitchens and Dawkins out of context in their slander."

I think it's odd that you assume because I didn't explicitly say I thought Vox took Dawkins and Harris out of context that I don't think he did. I absolutely do think he did. He took each atheist he singled out out of context several times. As a matter of fact, I think out of all of the anti-New Atheism books I've read Vox raised the bar on how many times a Christian writer took his subjects out of context.

You wrote, "Firstly, you concur that Harris was wrong. Good. Nowhere does Vox say that the deaths that could be attributable to religion weren't needless, only that Harris was in error as to the number. As to your numbers, please provide your source and how they reached that number. I like the reference to Santa Clause. Atheists are so clever. And they never use the same line twice. See below where I give my opinion as to the creativity of atheists."

I looked up each of the deaths attributable to each of the religious wars Harris cited in 'The End of Faith' on the internet. I came up with roughly the same number as Vox, roughly 500,000 and I believe Vox cited 750,00, a figure he said he rounded up.

You wrote, "No proof. Just your opinion. I'm glad you said three were valid. That's more than I would give Dawkins and his crew."

Not my opinion at all. I've researched Vox's book extensively. If you'd like some examples I'll be happy to provide them. I didn't cite the evidence for lack of time.

You wrote, "My response: Here is the definition for straw man argument: 2. An argument or opponent set up so as to be easily refuted or defeated.

You either don't know what this phrase means or you're hoping I don't know. Whichever it is, I don't care. It is just a canard atheists use. A canard means something that is unfounded or false. When I use words or phrases like ad hominem, canard, straw man argument etc, I know what they mean and I use them honestly and correctly. Try doing the same and at least prove it's legitimate usage by giving a real example. So far I haven't seen you give one. Vox addresses all their major arguments and destroys them. He doesn't change their arguments to make them weaker. As to whether he takes them out of context, that remains to be seen. Overwhelmingly I would say that is false."

I know perfectly well what those terms mean. Vox took Dawkins out of context about the "child abuse" issue, as do you in your review. That's just one example. Another one is the Dennett quote that Vox took out of context. I mentioned it in my post above.

You wrote, "Your points about Vox Day's opinion about the poetic ability of atheists is irrelevant. I don't think historically they make good poets, writers or musicians but that's my opinion. I don't need to prove it. Dawkins says they make good poets, Vox and I say they don't. Very few notable poets were atheists but who cares? This is an issue of aesthetics and is irrelevant when discussing facts. Bringing this up really indicates how weak your case is."

It's an error Vox claimed to have found by Dawkins, so I would say it's entirely relevant. I would agree it's a pointless objection, but if that's the case, why didn't Vox attack meatier arguments?

My point, in case it isn't clear, was that Vox decided to take issue with this meaningless quote. “EM” claims that this point I bring up is meaningless, therefore, it's a very weak objection. I'd agree it's a pointless objection in the case of Vox, but I brought it up because it's an excellent example of many of the pointless nonsense Vox chose to focus on, rather than more substantive points in the New Atheists' books.

You wrote, "Your points about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict being about religion is ironic given that you even quote Israelis saying that it is about land: "There is no argument in Israel about our historic rights in the land of Israel." That was exactly Vox's point; that most wars are about land. Religion is often appealed to in that context. Vox said as much but the issue is most often about territory. In your citation, the word land comes up four times and God not once. You really should be careful in citing something that ends up refuting your position."

Seriously? And exactly WHY are they fighting over land? Talk about taking quotes out of context! Let's finish those quotes shall we? The current president of Israel, Shimon Peres, has written, "There is no argument in Israel about our historic rights in the land of Israel. The past is immutable and the ****Bible is the decisive document in determining the fate of our Land."**** In addition, Mordechai Nisan, an Israeli scholar of Middle East Studies at the Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has written, "At the very dawn of Jewish history, contact with the Land of Israel established the principle that the presence of non-Jews in the country is morally and politically irrelevant to the national right of the Jews to settle and possess the Land... ****The Bible states the Jewish right regardless of non-Jewish presence."****

You wrote, "You must forgive me but it's getting late and I am not going to look at your link tonight. I will say that given the statistics of how many dictators were mass murderers and also atheists is rather staggering. We can play charades and pretend that there is no relation between the two but that is silly. The correlation is overwhelmingly evident. Vox Day gives the probability in the book and it's correct. There is a very good probability that if a leader is an atheist he is also a mass murderer and a tyrant. The statistics prove it isn't mere coincidence. You can deny it but I don't really care."

Yes the number is high, but Vox is employing a fallacy. Vox didn't provide a single shred of proof that the reason the Communists did what they did was due to their being atheists. It was their ideology as I demonstrate in the link.

You wrote, "I think Harris did throw that last bit in there to do just what Vox says that he did. Otherwise, he could have used a little more diverse statistic. Citing numbers among the so called intelligentsia was a calculated move. Atheists are often ardent proselytizers."

If you believe that I think you need to read the entire paragraph where Harris is explaining how atheists do not "lie and cheat and steal with abandon" and cited the 93% figure showing how a majority of scientists do not believe in god and concludes that "[w]e can be reasonably confidant that these groups are at least as well behaved as the general population." He wasn't discussing the existence of god, only morality.

You wrote, "As it stands, you pointed out one thing that Vox may have taken out of context. Honestly, it's just too late and I am too lazy to look it up right now. That one piece of partially incorrect information is not enough to effect my view of the book. Dennett still said what Vox said he did, even if it was in reference to something else.

I have to hand it to you. I have the review up not even a day and you jumped on it. I noticed that atheists are busy on here. They make up such a small percentage of people but they make up for it by their tireless zeal. I usually don't care what atheists believe but it's their rampant propagandizing that troubles me. Even as a deist, I didn't make attacking religion my main focus even though I was against it. I had a life outside of that."

I wasn't trolling the reviews if that's what you're getting at. I just happened to stop by, saw your review, read what you asked of atheists for a debate. I was bored last night and decided to start up a conversation.

Thanks.

EM:

This is going to be short because I didn't see a lot of additional proofs for anything you said previously. So I quote what is substantive enough to warrant a response only.

You say:
I know perfectly well what those terms mean. Vox took Dawkins out of context about the "child abuse" issue, as do you in your review. That's just one example. Another one is the Dennett quote that Vox took out of context. I mentioned it in my post above.

Straw argument fallacy and contextual fallacy are different fallacies. Look it up. You have never proved the former and are weak in proving the latter. Let me point out an irony I thought amusing. Atheists will often cite logical fallacies erroneously. Their appealing to logical fallacy becomes itself a logical fallacy. You've got to admit that is a bit amusing -no?

You say:
It's an error Vox claimed to have found by Dawkins, so I would say it's entirely relevant. I would agree it's a pointless objection, but if that's the case, why didn't Vox attack meatier arguments?

Vox was just giving his opinion, just as Dawkins did. To criticize Vox on this issue and not Dawkins is hypocrisy.

You say:
Seriously? And exactly WHY are they fighting over land? Talk about taking quotes out of context! etc etc et al.

My repsonse:
This is another case of hypocrisy I am afraid. It ties into a point I make below. To say that accusing atheism of being responsible for mass murder is a canard and/or logical fallacy and then do the same to religion is utterly hypocritical on two counts 1) by appealing to logical fallacy and being guilty of the same and 2) by using the attack and saying it's valid on your side but not for the other. You say atheism is unrelated to mass murdering tyranny (I address this below), but say religion is; I say the opposite. We're at an impasse. I am simply going to reiterate what I already said: religion is used as a support for domination but it is not the cause. I won't respond to this issue again unless you can bring something new and substantive to the issue.

You say:
Yes the number is high, but Vox is employing a fallacy. Vox didn't provide a single shred of proof that the reason the Communists did what they did was due to their being atheists. It was their ideology as I demonstrate in the link.

My reponse:
A partial response was given above. To ask the question "did atheism cause mass murder in these situations?" is a misleading one and one that atheists use to their advantage. No. relationship doesn't point to cause here. There is indeed an overwhelming and irrefutable connection between the two. Numbers don't lie unlike those who argue against them. The cause was totalitarianism the means was atheism and the apathy it instills in the leaders that commit mass murder. To state it again succinctly: totalitarianism was the cause, atheism the means. It's the opposite of my religious argument. Religion was used falsely as a means to domination; and the actual statistics of murder attributed to religion is so incredibly low compared to atheistic murder that the reason for this must be addressed. It stands to reason that the numbers are low because religion acted at least partially as a control. Whereas domination that is practiced by atheism there is none. Even if we were to take your number seriously (and I don't at all) and say religion kills 1,000,000 people every ten years. In 100 years that 10,000,000. Atheists killed at least 148,000,000 in 100 years. That's a staggering number. Calling the connection between atheism and mass murder mere coincidence is so utterly ridiculous that I am not going to dignify it with another response, unless logical and irrefutable reasons for us to question the statistics -which you know damn well are staggeringly high. The fact that atheist regimes first set out to destroy religion proves that atheism is the modus. I shouldn't have to site evidence with the French and Russian revolutions and Communist China; you can look them up.

I believe Harris was being deceitful. There is proof (you cited his errors yourself) that he isn't above fooling with data; and I don't put it past him to be a bit conniving.

I want to keep this discussion about data and logical conclusions that can be extrapolated from that. If you respond, please lets not drift into I say, you say and then descend into a circular debate. It's been my experience that atheists want to convince themselves more than anyone else. They handle this in a couple of ways: 1)by being proselytizers functioning under the delusion that winning more people makes their cause right and 2) having the last word makes them right; both are utterly false presumptions. So respond if you have substantive rebuttals. If I don't answer them it is because I don't think you do.

PrimeTruth:

You wrote, "This is going to be short because I didn't see a lot of additional proofs for anything you said previously. So I quote what is substantive enough to warrant a response only."

I discussed Vox taking Dennett out of context (which you refused to deal with), I discussed Vox taking Harris out of context, and I mentioned how Vox also took Dawkins out of context. I did cite reasons but go ahead and believe what you want. I didn't feel like becoming embroiled in 20 separate mini debates so I thought it best to keep the focus small.

You wrote, "Straw argument fallacy and contextual fallacy are different fallacies. Look it up. You have never proved the former and are weak in proving the latter. Let me point out an irony I thought amusing. Atheists will often cite logical fallacies erroneously. Their appealing to logical fallacy becomes itself a logical fallacy. You've got to admit that is a bit amusing -no?"

Yes I know this. I pointed out examples of each. One regarding Dennett and Dawkins, the other regarding Harris.

You wrote, "Vox was just giving his opinion, just as Dawkins did. To criticize Vox on this issue and not Dawkins is hypocrisy."

My point was that this was such a minor issue I felt that it was pointless, which leads me to another issue I saw with the book. Vox nitpicked too much.

You wrote, "This is another case of hypocrisy I am afraid. It ties into a point I make below. To say that accusing atheism of being responsible for mass murder is a canard and/or logical fallacy and then do the same to religion is utterly hypocritical on two counts 1) by appealing to logical fallacy and being guilty of the same and 2) by using the attack and saying it's valid on your side but not for the other. You say atheism is unrelated to mass murdering tyranny (I address this below), but say religion is; I say the opposite. We're at an impasse. I am simply going to reiterate what I already said: religion is used as a support for domination but it is not the cause. I won't respond to this issue again unless you can bring something new and substantive to the issue."

First, you ignored my argument and the facts (typical). Second, there is a major difference here. In the case of religion, atheists can point to definitive religious motives for the many crimes by religious fanatics. On the other hand, no Christian has been able to provide a single piece of evidence that Communists did what they did because they were atheists. It's a matter of motive, not of action.

You wrote, "A partial response was given above. To ask the question "did atheism cause mass murder in these situations?" is a misleading one and one that atheists use to their advantage. No. relationship doesn't point to cause here. There is indeed an overwhelming and irrefutable connection between the two. Numbers don't lie unlike those who argue against them. The cause was totalitarianism the means was atheism and the apathy it instills in the leaders that commit mass murder. To state it again succinctly: totalitarianism was the cause, atheism the means. It's the opposite of my religious argument. Religion was used falsely as a means to domination; and the actual statistics of murder attributed to religion is so incredibly low compared to atheistic murder that the reason for this must be addressed. It stands to reason that the numbers are low because religion acted at least partially as a control. Whereas domination that is practiced by atheism there is none. Even if we were to take your number seriously (and I don't at all) and say religion kills 1,000,000 people every ten years. In 100 years that 10,000,000. Atheists killed at least 148,000,000 in 100 years. That's a staggering number. Calling the connection between atheism and mass murder mere coincidence is so utterly ridiculous that I am not going to dignify it with another response, unless logical and irrefutable reasons for us to question the statistics -which you know damn well are staggeringly high. The fact that atheist regimes first set out to destroy religion proves that atheism is the modus. I shouldn't have to site evidence with the French and Russian revolutions and Communist China; you can look them up."

Your reasoning is in error. There have also been many religious atrocities throughout history. You're employing the same fallacy as Vox did. If someone is going to try to argue that something was the cause of something else, they move prove how it functioned as a cause. Correlation does not prove causation.

You wrote, "I believe Harris was being deceitful. There is proof (you cited his errors yourself) that he isn't above fooling with data; and I don't put it past him to be a bit conniving."

This is ridiculous. Yes, Harris was wrong about a few things, but it's an unjustified assumption to argue that he was doing it on purpose. Additionally, just because someone made an error about one thing, does not automatically make it true that everything they say i[s] wrong. Each claim has to be looked at individually. After having done all the research myself, Harris was correct about the vast majority of claims Vox tried to argue against.

You wrote, "I want to keep this discussion about data and logical conclusions that can be extrapolated from that. If you respond, please lets not drift into I say, you say and then descend into a circular debate. It's been my experience that atheists want to convince themselves more than anyone else. That handle this in a couple of ways: 1)by being proselytizers functioning under the delusion that winning more people makes their cause right and 2) having the last word makes them right; both are utterly false presumptions. So respond if you have substantive rebuttals. If I don't answer them it is because I don't think you do."

You continuously argue that I haven't provided evidence for my claims, but I have. This should be more than clear. I've provided a link to my cumulative case against the Communists are Driven by Atheism charge, I've provided context to Vox taking both Harris and Dennett out of context, and I've provided evidence showing that the Israelis are attacking the Palestinians due to religious reasons. If anyone hasn't provided any reasons it's you, I'm afraid. Rather than getting caught up in your tough sounding rhetoric, I think you'd be better served if you actually provided arguments rather than continuous bluster. If that's all you're going to do I won't bother wasting my time.

Thanks.

It should be obvious how I was beginning to become weary of this individual’s idiotic statements that I haven't provided evidence or arguments. With the exception of my mentioning the Crusades and the “child abuse” issue and Richard Dawkins, I cited evidence for every single point I made. This, all the while “EM” resorts to bullshit and bluster, rather than providing a shred of evidence I'm incorrect.

EM:

This is going to be even shorter. Cogent arguments are getting harder to come by and emotional tirade is becoming greater.

You say:
Yes I know this. I pointed out examples of each. One regarding Dennett and Dawkins, the other regarding Harris.

My response:
You have not provided any examples of straw man fallacy; and have really only given one example of possible contextual fallacy that can be at all possibly called such. The idea that equating Christian breeding to child abuse is something that was taken out of context is so ridiculous that it didn't merit a response that's why I didn't give one. This is so entirely puerile and petty. If Vox provides any of their charges and exposes them to be erroneous, you will simply say they're taken out of context and throw in the straw man red herring for safe measure. It's amusing to see fallacy appeals used so consistently wrong.

Here is an example of bullshit. He/she once again, rather than request the evidence, assumes this is some atheist conspiracy where we all argue “strawman, strawman!!” without providing arguments. I'd agree I've seen some atheists do this regarding Vox's book, but I haven't, and many other atheists have offered reasonable responses to the book as well. This is another example of “EM's” complete lack of rationality. Once again, more bluster without responding to my specific objections. See what I'm talking about?

You say:
First, you ignored my argument and the facts (typical). Second, there is a major difference here. In the case of religion, atheists can point to definitive religious motives for the many crimes by religious fanatics. On the other hand, no Christian has been able to provide a single piece of evidence that Communists did what they did because they were atheists. It's a matter of motive, not of action.

My response:
I've addressed this. I would place my money on a religious leader being more ethical. Numbers prove it. So all of your rhetoric is worthless. Atheism is responsible for the death of millions upon millions just in the 20th century. You can cry all you want about it but those are the facts.

You say:
Your reasoning is in error. There have also been many religious atrocities throughout history. You're employing the same fallacy as Vox did. If someone is going to try to argue that something was the cause of something else, they move prove how it functioned as a cause. Correlation does not prove causation.

My response:
Millions upon millions of dead say otherwise. Accusing religion of inspiring murder when atheists killed 148 million in just the 20th century, just once again proves your own hypocrisy. Correlation doesn't prove causation for atheism but the same argument can be used in defense of religion. You won't allow that because you use your method hypocritically. The thing is: we've got the numbers to prove that atheism breeds mass murder. I like how you ignored my argument and then once again said atheism doesn't cause murder. You can't tie atheism to any kind of ethics at all because it simply doesn't have any. That's why atheist dictators can murder indiscriminately; human beings are no different than roaches or rats according to atheistic ethics.

Once again, rather than deal with my argument and evidence, he parades around this logical fallacy, all the while oblivious that he's being a tremendous hypocrite, trying to tell me I don't know what fallacies are, when he/she is the one resorting to them the most.

You say:
just because someone made an error about one thing, does not automatically make it true that everything they say it wrong. Each claim has to be looked at individually.

My response:
Sorry if someone who doesn't seem to mind lying is someone I don't think I can trust.

Can he/she read? Assuming someone is being intentionally dishonest is intellectually dishonest. You must show that the person knew they said false things before it's even remotely logical to make that claim about someone.

You say:
You continuously argue that I haven't provided evidence for my claims, but I have. This should be more than clear.

My response:
The few you've cited I responded to and found them to be weak. The book is 300 pages long. Funny how if I say Harris is not trust worthy because he is found to be almost certainly deceptive, you say I can't throw out everything he says; but you are willing to do that with Vox Day. Hypocrisy is a stinky cologne. I suggest switching brands.

More bluster and bullshit.

You say:
I've provided a link to my cumulative case against the Communists are Driven by Atheism charge...

My response:
I can already guess what it will be about. It will excuse atheism for it's mass atrocities and beat the dead horse of "correlation doesn't suggest causation." I've already addressed that and you once again turned it around to that same stupid excuse that gives atheism a pass for it's crimes. You're comfortable with that but the numbers speak loudly that all that rhetoric is meaningless twaddle.

”EM” appears to be intellectually dishonest again. He/she doesn't even appear to have read my arguments and he/she assumes I say the same thing as every other atheist. That's too funny for words. I firmly believe my research and arguments raise the bar on this discussion of the Communist atrocities beyond what is currently available, since I provide arguments and context that I haven't seen other atheists use when responding to these ridiculous charges.

You say:
I've provided context to Vox taking both Harris and Dennett out of context...

My response:
I addressed the ones I saw and found all but one to be weak.

Simply arguing that you disagree with my interpretation (and the word “interpretation” is not even the right word. I'd say “fact” is more like it) and that you find it “weak” is hardly what I'd call an argument (at least not a good one by any stretch of the imagination). He failed to argue why Harris was specifically trying to argue that god does not exist when he cited the figure that 90-something-percent of scientists are atheists. It's clear from the context (not to mention the very subtitle where this passage can be found, referring to morality!) that Harris is citing the figure in an attempt to show that atheists are not an immoral bunch, since we don't see thousands of scientists out there robbing and murdering! I find it so hard to understand how someone cannot see this context. It's insane.

You say:
and I've provided evidence showing that the Israelis are attacking the Palestinians due to religious reasons.

My response:
I responded to that and found that your citation worked against you. Sorry, but the argument was weaker than the case for atheistic atrocities.

Purely, absolutely, positively delusional.

You say:
If anyone hasn't provided any reasons it's you, I'm afraid.

My response:
Are you serious? Is this a joke? It was my review you responded to buddy. If you didn't think there were any reasons in there why did you post? I've refuted you on everything. You misuse logical fallacy. You descend into hypocrisy e.g. the methods you use to condemn religion you won't allow to be used against you. You ignore my arguments and in true straw man fallacy turn them into something you're more comfortable with and give me a link.

Once again, purely, absolutely, positively delusional. Yes, I responded to his review, because he asked for someone to respond! Yes, and a link that lead to (gasp!) arguments!

You say:
Rather than getting caught up in your tough sounding rhetoric, I think you'd be better served if you actually provided arguments rather than continuous bluster. If that's all you're going to do I won't bother wasting my time.

My response:
Tough sounding? If that means it continuously makes your arguments seem weak than yeah I suppose it does. Sorry it does that. Blustering is what I would accuse you of -see above on hypocrisy. Please stop wasting MY time. Come with some further examples of contextual fallacy and at least one example of straw man fallacy, otherwise, go preach elsewhere.

PrimeTruth:

Hi EM,

I'm afraid I must end my attempt at a conversation. You had asked for a debate in your review but you must not know what a debate is. A debate is when two parties present arguments and then counter-arguments. I have seen very little counter-arguments from you in your comments. As I said, it's mostly bluster. You've completely ignored a few of the errors I've already pointed out, and while you've given some lackluster responses, they haven't touched my arguments. I see "debating" you is futile so I will leave you and anyone who might read these comments with this. As I alluded to earlier I've already researched Vox's book heavily and have written a response. It can be found here http://www.skepticink.com/azatheist/2012/08/19/the-irrational-atheist-a-refutation/

All of the errors I noted above, and more, are detailed in that link. If you think you're able, maybe you can try to actually debate me in the comment section of the review.

P.S. In your review you wrote, "If you don't like this review, I couldn't really care less but I'd be happy to debate it with you; if you are at least honorable enough to comment instead of just clicking the unhelpful button." Then in your latest reply to me you say, "Come with some further examples of contextual fallacy and at least one example of straw man fallacy, otherwise, go preach elsewhere."

I think it's pretty silly of you to ask for a debate in your review and then accuse someone who accepted your invite of "preaching." Please grow up and learn a thing or two about debate.

Thanks.

EM:

Give me a break. A genuine debate requires evidence and logical extrapolation. All of the supposed evidence you gave I refuted (thoroughly) and showed it to be weak. You simply didn't like that I did.
You are dishonest in the way you appeal to logical fallacy; I never did get one of the many supposed examples of straw man fallacy in Vox Day. That bespeaks that you never had any examples and you were just (to use your word) blustering. You provided some possible contextual fallacies. I only found one that had any merit. You often show yourself to be a bit of a hypocrite in the way you attack religion and Vox Day; the methods you use can be used against you and the authors you love, but that is something you won't allow. I actually never tried to use those methods although they could be used. I only pointed out that you are being hypocritical in using them.

More delusional garbage.

I pointed out in very clear language that the appeal to the fallacy "correlation does not necessitate causation" to be a misleading premise and that, just like it uses religion, totalitarianism uses atheism as it's means; the difference is that religion acts as a mitigating control, whereas atheism has no controls at all; indeed, it induces apathy which is conducive to mass murder. You ignored my argument and once again said the same thing: "correlation doesn't necessitate causation" and directed me to your link. You were then guilty of straw man fallacy yourself in so doing. By appealing to that same syllogism over and over you are recognizing that there is a direct relationship (that's what correlation means after all) while attempting to deny the very same by denying cause. The whole premise is a logical fallacy. You think by denying cause you are denying relationship. That is patently absurd, but you insist on doing it even when someone says the premise is false.

Once again, he completely ignored the link to my response to this nonsense, where I don't even bother with the “correlation does not necessitate causation” argument! Of course, had he actually read the link he was too lazy to read, he would have known this. Oh well. He's/she's the only one looking foolish about now.

You've shown yourself to be dishonest in your manner of discourse and that suggests your beliefs are self-delusional as well. Atheists, such as yourself, must constantly search for reasons to continue in their delusion. You start blogs and search for deer in cages to shoot but throw a tantrum when you come across someone you can not so easily beset with grandiose verbosity. Even if all of your points were valid, there is still 99.9% of the book that wasn't touched. What did you hope to accomplish really? If you won't throw out Harris for his many falsehoods, why should I throw out Vox Day?

This is actually funny coming from a person who has failed to meaningfully address, if not outright ignore, every single argument I presented.

I never specifically addressed atheists in my invitation to debate. In my review, I had pointed out that there were Christians who didn't like the book as well. They might not have liked the review either. They could debate with me as well. Despite what you think, atheists and what they're about, isn't that much of a concern for me as long as they're not the leader of my country. I also drew a distinction in my review between militant atheists, like you and those authors, and other atheists. My criticisms were not especially geared towards atheists in general, only to militant ones.

Oh... so now that I've made him/her look foolish, they try to backtrack and argue that they didn't want atheists commenting on their review. Ummm, he/she said at the end their review, “If you don't like this review, I couldn't really care less but I'd be happy to debate it with you; if you are at least honorable enough to comment instead of just clicking the unhelpful button.”

He/she was clearly inferring that atheists debate him/her since who else would down-vote such a glowing (and highly delusional review) of a book that was mostly nonsense? An atheist!


I was loyal to my invitation and debated, even though it took time out of my schedule that could have been better spent. You simply didn't like the outcome. That's not my fault.

I've got to give him a huge LOL!!! on that one.

One other thing, and this is just for future reference; the founder of Jewish Nationalism aka Zionism was an atheist named Theodore Herzl. His mentor was another atheist named Moses Hess. Moses Hess was also the mentor of the atheist and Communist Karl Marx. The nation of Israel exists because of an atheist and his ideals -none of which were religious. All that comes out of that is in direct relationship to atheistic nationalism, not religious nationalism. The one example of religious atrocity you named as it turns out is ultimately tied to a group of atheists. Ironic. I would really research your position and be careful about your examples.

This argument is just nonsense. Regardless of who a founder of a particular movement was does not change the fact that past and current rationalizations for the suppression of Palestinians are grounded in religion. Idiot!

The point of Zionism was to allow Jews to have a place of their own because of all of the persecution they suffered. This had nothing to do with the founder of this movement being an atheist, you moron (and from what I've read this is very speculative since he made many comments about god and I've found no primary sources confirming this)! It had to do with his Jewish identity!

Here is a little history for this imbecile. Even assuming Herzl was an atheist, when he published Der Judenstaat ('The Jewish State') people were confused by this since no one knew what a Jewish state would even look like, since there hadn't been one since “the expulsion of Jews from Jerusalem and the surrounding region by the Romans in the first century of the common era.” Because of this lack of substance, of exactly what a Jewish state was, Jews began to refer to religious definitions, which leads us to where we are today. The use of the bible for the justification of the subjugation of the Palestinian people. Perhaps he/she needs to read more about history him/herself. (The Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Guide for the Perplexed, by Ian Bickerton, Continuum Books, 2012; 153)

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