The ironic dishonestly of religious apologetics and theist debaters

Maybe I came on a little strong yesterday? I was thinking about this again this morning and came to something of a mini breakthrough…

Every believer who debates atheists believes in god. (Obviously.) But what does that mean? … It means that in every case, they believe that they know god exists. If you accept some claim as fact, then it is difficult not to be biased toward it, because you take it for granted that the claim is true. In every case, for every theist I have ever debated, and every argument for the existence of god I have ever read, it is crystal clear that they start with the assumption that god exists. Then they work backwards from there, coming up with strange pseudo-logic that only appears logical to fellow believers (who also think they know god exists) and non sequiturs. Thus every single argument produced is not about evidence for god, but about something else.

Consider this statement, which happens to be the most concise example of the argument, without the bullshit logical statements and other word salad:

Every creation needs a creator.

Now consider this equivalent statement that could be made by a flat earther:

The flat earth is flat.

If you are religious and can’t see the similarity between the two statements, you might have a problem.

In the case of “Every creation needs a creator”, the assumption is obvious. Existence is called creation. A creation needs a creator because it was created, because that’s what a creation is. But by assuming creation, you also assume a creator (implicitly). The second statement, “The flat earth is flat”, is also logically sound. If the earth was flat, it would indeed be flat. Both statements assume their conclusion, and while the first is one a creationist wrote in a debate, the second one was written by me to be funny and doesn’t disguise the circular reasoning by assuming the conclusion implicitly, but states it explicitly instead.

When we debate, we atheists ask for evidence of god, and none is ever produced. Actually I once had the misfortune of debating a group of people who asserted that evidence exists, and then declared victory. They became angry when I questioned what that evidence is and pointed out that asserting that evidence exists is not the same as producing evidence. (Seriously. It pissed them off. “You have not provided evidence. You just asserted that evidence exists, which is not the same thing.” That made them livid.) So we point out that their arguments are invalid. Because they are. Every argument makes as much sense as the single line example given above, just with more words. (And more words makes the assumption less obvious. It usually isn’t stated directly. And the words can be several points, paragraphs, or hundreds of words, or entire books, which seem logically valid, but still only work if one assumes god exists. And anyone else who shares those beliefs does not see through the poor logic.)

And can you guess what we get in return?

In return, we are told what atheism is. We are told what we believe. Then the debate goes off on a tangent about what the definition of atheism is.

And here’s why they do that: On some level, theist debaters must realize that they start with the assumption that god exists. Of course they do, but admitting it would be to admit dishonesty. It would mean admitting that the “logic” isn’t really logical but is working towards a conclusion that was assumed up front. Rather than do that, they frame atheism as a polar opposite belief, the belief that god doesn’t exist. Because if it were true, if we atheists started out with the assumption that god doesn’t exist and worked backwards towards it, we’d be “equal” to them somehow in the debate. And yes, that would make our arguments equally wrong. It’s a tu quoque fallacy of course to accuse your accusers of doing exactly what you’re doing, but let’s not go further down there. I’m mostly trying not to name the fallacies in this post, but I’ll tag them.

Of course that’s not what atheism is about. Many of us start out believing in religion and doubting it. The claim that a god exists is just that, a claim. We simply question that claim, and when no evidence is produced to support it, we reject it. We don’t claim anything at all. We simply reject your claim that a specific god exists. Then we move on… Looking at other religious claims, we see the similarities and the lack of evidence in all such claims. When someone says we “hate god”, we ask, “Which one?”. But theists ignore that, because they assume a specific god exists and ignore all others, ironically believing that those other gods don’t exist. I don’t do that. I don’t hold up your Christian god, for example, and give any more credence to it’s claim than say, Zeus, or Odin.

So at the end of the day, theists claim that atheists are making a claim just like them, because it would be easier if we were. It would be easier if my argument was “there is no god” rather than the more nuanced, “I reject your claim that god exists because I have seen no evidence to support it. Please produce something to show me it is real”.

And that’s why I see no reason to debate them any more. When all I get is someone who assumes their god exists and pretends to be logical about it, dishonestly not admitting the assumption, and who tells me what I believe no matter how many times I correct them, there is nothing to debate. We have no common ground and I am bored of telling them that their straw man of atheism is nothing to do with actual atheism, and even more bored of pointing out how pathetic their arguments are. Reading their nonsense over and over again also makes me angry; it leads to an emotional response. And I am tired of it.


Edit: My apologies for so often adding points in after publishing, but this post was written in a hurry… Also worthy of mention is their argument against atheism is often also phrased something like “It takes just as much faith to be an atheist”. No, it doesn’t. Faith is belief despite no supporting evidence. Atheism is precisely about rejecting such faith because of the lack of evidence, thus it can’t be about having faith. To insist it is, you are again claiming that atheism is the belief that your god does not exist, just phrased differently.

Imagine for a moment that their straw man of atheism were correct. It would result in a debate where you assume one thing, I assume the opposite, and neither of us is willing to change our mind. In reality, since many of us started out as believers, we have already changed our minds. That’s why we’re atheists. It’s the theists who set out to “win” a debate and are unwilling to change their minds. I’m not interested in winning a debate. I’m interested only in the truth. Thus I am not interested in how good your vocabulary is, or how well your prose flows, or how logical your pseudo-logic appears, or how confusing your word salad is, or how much philosophy or scientific jargon you throw into your arguments. If it doesn’t cite evidence for the existence of a god, it’s just words. Words are easy.

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Porn star finds Jesus; takes Him to porn shoot. You won’t care what happens next!

Introduction

Sorry about the mock clickbait title. But I do wonder how many readers got here after clicking the link in Facebook, even though the word clickbait is displayed prominently in the link preview. What is it about clickbait that baits us to click those links even though we know they are going to disappoint?

I remember when I first encountered such links a couple of years ago, they’d often be even more presumptuous than they are now. You’d start with a share on Facebook, promising to show you a video. It always promised something sexually suggestive, or something that provoked a feeling of disgust, or something psychologically interesting, or something else, some elusive thing that you’d need to know, no – have to know, by clicking that link. Then you’d click it and get redirected to a page that still didn’t show you the video, not until after you “LIKE” it and share it yourself. (I never did that; never found out what those somethings were, and am better off for it.) In other words, the share you saw in the first place, the one that sucked you in, was shared by somebody who hadn’t even seen the video that they shared. And that’s just wrong.

I’m not going to answer this question because I don’t know the answer myself. What I’d like is that more people think before clicking those links. Clicking alone generates revenue for someone, somewhere, based on the number of clicks coming from various media, where the statistics are collected by the middle-man affiliate site. If you really want to know that elusive thing promised, Google is your friend. And maybe DoNotLink.com. Don’t help them to earn money that they don’t deserve.

Porn star turned evangelist

I now present that elusive thing that I promised in my own mock clickbait title…

brittni-ruiz-former-porn-star-jenna-presley

Brittni Ruiz. Photo: Youtube/XXXChurch

Brittni Ruiz above is a former porn star, who was known as Jenna Presley. She now ministers to other porn stars in the inappropriately named XXXChurch. You can read a positive article about her here. (Edit: Note that the linked page has an annoying video that plays automatically on loading the page. There’s also a video of her at the bottom of the page, if you can stomach it. Her acting/reading skills have not improved with her departure from porn.)

But something feels a little off about the whole thing. She claims to have cut all ties to the “sinful” porn industry by closing her social media accounts and obviously not selling her sex anymore. But has she really cut all ties? She’s selling Jesus to people in the porn industry now. That’s what these high profile churches do – make money by selling Jesus. But by presenting herself as a former porn star, I don’t believe she has cut all ties. She’s manipulating her status as somebody who used to do porn, via clickbait marketing which appears to be aimed at getting other people to follow her church. But the point is, not only is she manipulating her status as a former porn star and talking about leaving the sinful industry, she’s OK with taking money from that sinful industry.

Apparently she tried to leave the industry before but it didn’t work out. But now she has found another way to make money also without really doing actual work. Jesus is her new cash cow.

I have this theory that some might consider controversial. It goes like this: There is no motivation stronger than addiction, and drug addiction is the primary reason that people sell themselves. Whether they are prostitutes, strippers, or porn “stars”, the people who sell their sex are doing so to get money for drugs. I can’t prove I’m right, but I know that I am right in many cases. That this woman speaks about Jesus and about the porn industry, but does not talk about why she got into that industry in the first place, makes me highly sceptical. This church gig looks like a way of maintaining her lifestyle, nothing more. I don’t know if she is an addict, and will not speculate about that, but I would find it very funny if the end result of the support for this church resulted in a former porn star making passionate cocaine-fuelled sermons to a bunch of credulous morons ready to part with their money for eternal life.

Update: I hadn’t read the linked article properly. I see she has admitted overcoming “addiction to drugs”. So maybe she is sincere and has found (false) hope in religion, as so many others have done before her. But the rest of my criticism still applies, and this seems to support my theory that porn stars are addicts. (Also, according to her story, the drug addiction came after the porn career began. I’m highly sceptical of her timeline. But besides all that, if she were sincere about spreading Christianity, why make use of her status as a former porn star? I don’t buy it.)

Appeal to hypocrisy

Some people might not like my criticism of Ms Ruiz. They might say that the intent of my writing can often be criticized for exactly the same reason. After all, I identify with being an ex-addict and write about the perils of addiction. Isn’t that the same sort of thing as a former porn star preaching to porn stars to turn to God?

No, it isn’t. I’m not making money doing this. I do this in my spare time. But wait, why defend myself? That argument is actually a logical fallacy called a Tu Quoque fallacy. Latin for “you, too” or “you, also” and also known as an appeal to hypocrisy. This fallacy attempts to show that a criticism or objection applies equally to the person making it. In other words, turn the tables on someone by accusing them of being hypocritical in their criticism of you. We’ve probably all heard this kind of argument used against us, in a relationship with a dishonest partner, or as a parent scolding a child. For example, anyone who lies and is confronted about their lies, uses this kind of argument to turn the tables on the accuser. It’s an invalid argument because it takes the argument away from the topic at hand, and redirects it to a personal attack on the person making the original criticism. In this way it is a type of ad hominem.

Actually every atheist has probably also had this argument used against them. Whenever a theist accuses an atheist of being religious in their atheism, they are making use of this same logical fallacy. I get it a lot, since I am vocal in my atheism. Being passionate about not believing and spreading the truth that religion is bullshit is easy to misconstrue as a belief system, which it isn’t. I saw a brilliant retort to this the other day. One atheist, who was confronted with the argument that atheism is a religion, replied with, “Then abstinence is a sexual position just like doggy-style”.