An obscure oldie from 5 years back.

Discussion (54)¬

  1. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    There’s nothing like a circular argument to make the head spin.

    Why believe in God?
    “The Bible says we have to.”
    How do you know the Bible is right?
    “The Bible is the received word of God.”
    How do you know that?
    “It says so in the Bible.”
    But how do you know the Bible is correct?
    “Because God said so.”
    “In the Bible”

  2. Nosnoraevad says:

    Kinda like that ad:
    “It’s true!”
    “How do you know?”
    “I read it on the Internet. They can’t put anything on the Internet if it’s not true.”
    “Where’d you read that?”
    “On the Internet.”

  3. Reasoning? says:

    This came to mind…

    “If you could reason with religious people, there would be no religious people.”- House M.D

  4. Nassar Ben Houdja says:

    Logic and reason, they drool
    Evolved into arguments of a fool
    The world has been jerked
    And otherwise twerked
    Dancing to the tune of a mule.

  5. two cents' worth says:

    A good article on “faith in reason” is on the Web at http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2013/11/faith_in_science_and_religion_truth_authority_and_the_orderliness_of_nature.html?wpisrc=burger_bar

    Quoting from that article, “The conflation of faith as ‘unevidenced belief’ with faith as ‘justified confidence’ is simply a word trick used to buttress religion. … Reason—the habit of being critical, logical, and of learning from experience—is not an a priori assumption but a tool that’s been shown to work. It’s what produced antibiotics, computers, and our ability to sequence DNA. We don’t have faith in reason; we use reason because, unlike revelation, it produces results and understanding.”

  6. omg says:

    For those who have not seen it (10 minutes well spent):

  7. two cents' worth says:

    omg, I agree that the Tim Minchin video is well worth the 10 minutes it took me to watch it. Now, whenever I deal with religionistas or the like, and my irony meter goes “spoing,” I will know to check my “diplomacy dike” for cracks. (Note to self: when spending Thanksgiving with my much-loved mom and step-dad next week, resist any of their attempts to steer the conversation towards religion. Otherwise, if things go on as they have been, I’ll never need to pay to get my tongue pierced, because biting my tongue will have done the job.)

  8. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    The last panel really tickles me; God desperately trying find an argument for God’s existence is the perfect analogy for religion, which is desperately trying to find arguments to justify its own.
    And Barmaid’s ‘Shoot’. So cool she out-Fonz’s the Fonz (how ‘now’ am I 😉 ).

  9. two cents' worth says:

    AoS, my mom occasionally mentions that she wants to learn about the logical proofs of God’s existence, which is why this cartoon and the Tim Minchin video are so timely for me 😉 . My diplomacy dike will surely be put to the test when I visit her and my step-dad (both devout Roman Catholics) next week.

  10. Dan says:

    Two cents’ worth,

    Can’t tell you how much it annoys me when idiots try to smuggle their nonsense past me with that conflation. Grrrrr!


  11. Mary2 says:

    The last panel is so very true. I am a fan of watching a ‘The Atheist Experience” an American community television call-in show wherein theists are asked to phone in and try to convince the panel of the existance of god. They are generally asked ‘what do you believe and why?’ but the complicated theological arguments some people bring up are eyebrow raising. No one believes in god because of the Kalam Cosmological Argument (discussed on this site a couple of weeks ago): this is the kind of argument one uses to justify belief after the fact. Every time one of the atheist panel members smacks down a justification for god the theist immediately switches to the next argument with ‘well, what about ….’ – just like Jesus in the last panel.

  12. Author, this one is deep. Mo uses logic to claim that logic is invalid and Barmaid points this out so surgically. Delightful.
    And omg, I had not seen it and well worth the 30 minutes. I had to watch it 3 times.

  13. floridakitesurfer says:

    Two cent’s worth,
    I would argue that the article you cite has missed the critical step that makes science so effective while theology and philosophy are so ineffective. It isn’t reason at all. Theology and philosophy both use reason. They both examine the problem and think deeply about the problem. Science starts there as well, but that doesn’t distinguish it. What makes science so effective is that it uses evidence as the final arbiter of the correctness of the reasoning process. I had a hypothesis last week that was kind of obviously right. I realized that a simple math equation performed on the data we had collected (simple for me) would validate or invalidate my idea. I was wrong. No ifs ands or buts, my idea didn’t pass a mathematical analysis on real world data. If I were a philosopher or theologian, I would still be quite enamored of my own cleverness in coming up with my idea.


  14. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    I haven’t yet watched omg’s link so don’t know exactly what ‘diplomacy dike’ refers to, but I’m going out on a limb here and assuming it’s a dyke* as in ‘protective earthwork’.

    two cents’ worth, have you tried telling your mother that there are no logical proofs of God’s existence, but only logical fallacies? Dare you suggest, maybe as you’re taking leave, that she might benefit more by reading this instead?

    Mary, scottspeig returned to that very conversation today (two cartoons back if anybody’s interested). Sadly, he’s come back with more of the same. For instance, he lists the following 1. Kalam Cosmological argument 2. Cosmological argument from Contingency 3. Moral argument 4. Application of mathematics in the known universe 5. Teleological argument from fine-tuning 6. Ontological argument from the possibility of God’s existence to his actuality, but only as secondary reasons for his belief, the primary cause being the evidence! that he’s seen and experienced personally. Oh, and he suggests I watch more William Lane Craig 🙁
    I think scottspeig would benefit greatly from watching or reading something that isn’t trying to de-bunk the science, because I get the feeling he doesn’t realise just how much the science is misrepresented – to say the least – by Craig and his ilk. But then again, they’re men of God: they cannot possibly lie.
    Can they?
    scottspeig (sorry for shouting, fella, I just want to get your attention), we can carry on the conversation either here or on the original thread; you choose.

    Darwin, there is, of course, a problem with Mo’s claim that ‘…reason requires faith in reason to sustain it, therefore it is circular’. Reason requires evidence to sustain it, not faith. There you are, Mo, circle broken. That one’s on me.

    *Pedantic correction of the spelling; I’ve just been informed by my interweb that ‘dyke’ is an ‘English variant of the U.S. ‘dike’. Fuck off! We gave you the word; we were using it quite happily for many centuries before North America was stolen from the indigines. Yes, we may have adapted it from the old Norse dik and the Dutch dijk, but we, despite our reputation for arrogance, do not insist that the Dutch is a mere variation of the correct spelling.

  15. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    FKS, evidence roolz! 😉
    Have you used the freezer joke yet?

  16. Mary2 says:

    FKS, You could always find another reason why your hypothesis is true. Because the data is located outside of space and time or works in mysterious ways or similar.

    AOS, I’ll have to go back and chat with Scottspeig. I’m not very knowledgeable on logical falacies or ‘sophisticated’ apologetics: time to bone up.

    Oops, I assumed ‘dike’ was a typo. Although ‘Strayan English swaps between following the Poms and the Yanks, on the matter of dykes we go with the ‘y’.

  17. Chris Phoenix says:

    Hate to say it, but we shouldn’t be too smug about this one. It’s completely legitimate to say, as Jesus and Mo did, “Regardless of whether I agree with your rules, they are internally inconsistent, so you should not use them.”

    Their problem, as other commenters have pointed out, is the conflation of meanings of “faith.”

  18. Adrian says:

    This circular argument also appears in one paragraph of “Alcoholics Anonymous” about why we should turn our lives over to a Higher Power.

  19. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Chris, as I pointed out in my post third above yours, we don’t play by internally inconsistent rules; the need for evidence breaks the chain. Faith has nothing to do with science and rationality, and in my opinion, ever-so ‘umble though it may be, anybody who trots out the ‘science is as much a matter of faith as religion’ bollocks needs an education.

    Mary, here’s everything you need to know about logical fallacies, and the link I gave to two cents’ worth further up this page shows the theological arguments for what they are.
    And as it’s now 2am, I’m off for a nap.

  20. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    I think my link for you is broken, Mary, so here it is in full; https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/

  21. floridakitesurfer says:

    That joke is super fun to tell. When I read your version, I thought it was a true story right up until you told the punch line. So I have been telling it the same way. I’m getting good laughs, but half the fun is the uncomfortable look on people’s faces before they realize it is a joke.

    Exactly! A religious idea will never be scrapped. There is always some way to rescue it. That is an awesome property if you wish to assert that you are correct. It is a terrible property if you wish to actually BE correct. In the meantime I still don’t have a hypothesis to explain the phenomenon that my team has observed. But I am better off with an “I don’t know” than I would be with an “I’m sure I am right” that is actually wrong.


  22. Bartman says:

    For an illustration of bad arguments:


    Pretty pictures too!

  23. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    FKS, seeing the reactions of the listeners to both the story and the punchline is one of the great joys of being able to tell ‘shaggy dog story’ type of jokes well; it’s certainly the reason I’m such a fan of them. I’ve got hundreds of them.
    I don’t suppose you want to share an outline of your hypothesis with us? You never know, somebody here might be able to point you in a new direction.

  24. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    hotrats, I’ve just seen your Bernard Manning joke on the last thread, and I think he might have made another, that is if my memory is correct and it was Manning who nearly got himself lynched in a Catholic club when his joke about the club treasurer fell a little flat?
    For those who don’t know the story, Bernard Manning had been booked to do his stand-up act at a Catholic club (and if you know of Manning, that’ll come as no surprise), and a couple of weeks before his appearance there had been a story concerning the club in the press. The club had beeen losing money for a while despite doing a roaring trade, and an inestigation had led to the arrest, trial, and conviction for theft of the treasurer.
    So on the night the compere introduced Manning who walked onto the stage, looked back at the life-sized wooden crucifix on the wall behind him, pointed to Jesus and said “I see you caught the bastard that was fiddling the books”.

    The reaction to what I think was a bloody good joke was not good…..

  25. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Please imagine a comma between ‘for theft’ and ‘of the treasurer’ back there. No treasurers were reported stolen, just money.

  26. Chiefy says:

    This one goes so well with the book I just finished, “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist,” by Geisler and Turek. The authors are so enamored of the quality of their logic, while implicitly arguing that their faith is beyond logic. Frustrating to read–I kept annotating “AB”* in the margins, but it gives insight into fundamentalist thinking.

    *AB: “arrogant bastard!”

  27. ottebrain says:

    Lol. It’s so confusing…

  28. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Chiefy, change ‘faith’ for ‘intelligence’ and you’ll have the most honestly-titled book ever published.
    Oh, and if the book has contact details for the authors, please drop them a line; there’s two of them, the title should be ‘We Don’t..’

    By the way, one of the recent cartoons has been visited by a really nasty piece of shit. http://www.jesusandmo.net/2013/10/04/anti/#comment-182729 . Funny how he waited until the conversation had moved on.

  29. Chiefy says:

    AoS, while the title certainly should be “We,” given the quality of argumentation throughout their book, that correction would be picking gnats out of the soup while ignoring the pigeon carcasses. I plan on writing a criticism of it so that I can satisfy my urge to rant, and because it is quite a popular text in fundie circles.

    Our ‘friend’ Jason seems to use the same kind of logic.

  30. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Ahh, you must mean no logic at all.
    You will of course point us toward your critique when it’s finished? I do like a well-written trashing of nonsense; I recall Dawkins mentioning one he saw about about a book of post-modernist drivel which simply said “This book fills a much-needed gap on the bookshelf”.

  31. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Please ignore the superfluous ‘about’, my fingers appear to have developed a stutter.

  32. Chiefy says:

    AoS, I didn’t even notice notice.

  33. mary2 says:

    Chiefy, gnats and pigeons? Too graphic (but beautifully clear and descriptive) illustration. Loved it.

  34. Undeluded says:

    Old chestnut:

    Q – How can you tell when a politician is lying?
    A – His lips move.


    Q – How can you tell there is no god?
    A – Listen to someone use logic and reason to prove there is one.

  35. omg says:

    Don’t worry if you looked 3 times at it, since I found this video, I watched 10 or 20 times (in a few years) just for the fun. It is so brilliant.

    If you have some time, look at other videos from Tim Minchin. Some are quite funny.


  36. OMG Yes indeed. Time Minchin is brilliant and on the right side of every issue as near as I can tell. I’m a major fan, and have been since The Pope Song. http://vimeo.com/11338327
    Always worth a listen, even with the new, sanitized and saner Pope now trying to reform much of the church teachings.

  37. Damn typos. Tim Minchin, not Time Minchin. Sigh.

  38. JohnM says:

    Tim Minchin also shows he has a spiritual side – with his Xmas song from this time last year.

  39. hotrats says:

    An aposite quote from Ken Norris (1924-98), a renowned marine mammal biologist, conservationist, and naturalist, who did pioneering work on dolphin echolocation.

    The scientific method is nothing more than a system of rules to keep us from lying to each other.

    That’s why any scientific approach to religion has to stop after page one, due to analytical atrophy, induced by dogmatic assertion of unjustified assumptions. From the scientific point of view, it’s a system designed to keep us lying to each other literally until Kingdom Come.

  40. Undeluded says:

    Hotrats – Thank you! That quote is absolutely BRILLIANT!

  41. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Coincidentally, last night I came across this whilst reading;
    If a faithful account was rendered of Man’s ideas upon Divinity, he would be obliged to acknowledge, that for the most part the word “gods” has been used to express the concealed, remote, unknown causes of the effects he witnessed; that he applies this term when the spring of the natural, the source of known causes, ceases to be visible: as soon as he loses the thread of these causes, or as soon as his mind can no longer follow the chain, he solves the difficulty, terminates his research, by ascribing it to his gods…
    When, therefore, he ascribes to his gods the production of some phenomenom, does he, in fact, do any thing more than substitute for the darkness of his own mind, a sound to which he has been accustomed to listen with reverential awe?

    Paul Heinrich Dietrich, Baron von Halbach Systeme de la Nature, London, 1770.

    I guess they were too polite to call ’em ‘liars’ in the 18thC.

  42. hotrats says:

    Oh dear; an opening quote instead of an apostrophe for ’em. A case of ironic ‘Smart Quotes’? No POTWA… this time.

  43. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    Hotrats, what are you on about? I abbreviated them to ’em, and as the opening quote-mark is the same punctuation character on the same key as the apostrophe I really don’t see what you mean.

  44. hotrats says:

    Craving the indulgence of those who comment by typing in the ‘Comment’ box, which uses unisex ‘second’ (as in degrees, minutes, seconds) signs for quotes:

    A typeset apostrophe (tail down and left) is the same shape as a closing quote, the other way around from an opening quote (tail up and right). The ‘Smart Quotes’ in your WP is smart enough to use an apostrophe/right quote between two letters (I’m, isn’t, Dave’s) but always uses a left quote after a space ( ‘em), which, ironically for a ‘smart’ feature, isn’t always what you want.

    To get a proper apostrophe, assuming you can be arsed, you need to hit the ‘quote’ key twice, and delete the first one.

    If you really can’t see the difference, you also may need to to go to Specsavers.

  45. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    I know the rule about apostrophes, I just didn’t know how to get the closing quote mark at the start. Cheers, hotrats.
    But that’s still a bit fussy even by UPOTWA standards. 🙂

  46. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    And they still look no different.

  47. hotrats says:


    a bit fussy even by UPOTWA standards.

    Ya, it’s my entry for the prestigious ‘Trivial Quibble of the Year’ Award.

    BTW you can also for example write ‘fuck’em’ and then add the space.

    Another deep quote, this time from the late Philip Larkin, who was once asked why, in his retirement, he started each day with three glasses of port before breakfast:

    “Well you’ve got to have some fucking reason to get out of bed in the morning.”

  48. omg says:

    I read this today, and there is so many things to say about it. But where must I start? I think I will let you make your own mind, but just a few ideas:

    From the text: “He also warns that rising global economic inequality is bound to explode in conflict.”

    I don’t think he was referring to the Catholic Church when he talk about “economic inequality”. Did he refer to the fortune the Roman Catholic Church own? I don’t think so. Did he talk that the Church should redistribute his fortune to help the porous? I don’t think so.

    Also in the text :”This month the Vatican launched an unprecedented survey of the views of lay Catholics on modern family life and sexual ethics.”
    It would be nice if the church stay our of people bed room.

    The “funniest” part of the article is the last one : ‘”I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor!” he goes on.’

    Did he notice that he is a politician. He is the head of a state. For me, that make him a politician.


  49. omg says:

    To follow my last post ( I have not found how to put two link in the same post):

    In Mexico, the church is performing exorcisms to try to stop the violent crimes that are caused by the fact that people are so poor. So the pope is telling that the economic inequality kill but at the same time, the church tell that the violence are caused by the Devil and it should be exorcised.

  50. Chiefy says:

    Thanks for that last link, omg, although it made me feel a little ill. Of course you know that the Catholic Church is only part of the problem. Superstition comes in many forms.

  51. omg says:

    Chiefy, I know that superstition came in many forms, but the church (Catholic or other church) just feed on the superstition that people have.

  52. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    omg says:
    November 26, 2013 at 11:08 pm
    Chiefy, I know that superstition came in many forms, but the church (Catholic or other church) just feed on the superstition that people have

    It doesn’t just feed on it, omg, it’s built its entire existence on it.

  53. Acolyte of Sagan says:

    I followed a link today which took me to the Muslim Times website. It’s brilliant, some of it is genuine piss-your-pants funny. Like this, for example: http://www.themuslimtimes.org/2011/12/religion/a-challenge-for-dawkins-where-did-carbon-come-from
    Where carbon came from is supposed to be a challenging question? Is it really 2013CE?


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