09 October 2011

Theists love ad hominem arguments

So someone going by the name tarheeltroll on twitter posted this on 9 October:
"Atheists are overconfident narcissistic intellectuals who refuse to believe that anyone can be more omnipotent than them." (source)
I'm sure that there are some atheists that fit the description tarheeltroll proposes here.  But that also describes a certain number of people in any category, anywhere.

What concerns me is that tarheeltroll is missing the whole point of the atheist stance generally.  (This is not an uncommon argument raised by theists, so everything here applies not only to tarheeltroll, but to all other theists who use this kind of reasoning.)  And that point is this: we defer to the evidence, which exists outside of us.  If we have confidence in anything, it is that an objective universe exists, the operation of which we can understand.  This is itself evident from what we see around us.

I suppose one could argue that nothing is real and that everything is just illusion.  But if that's so then one who believes that may as well just do whatever the fuck one wants.  This will likely land one quickly in an asylum, and that will be that.

No, the only reasonable thing to do is to assume that what we perceive is (roughly) how things are.  From that assumption we build science, which lengthens our lives, increases its quality, and allows us to - in some tiny way - control the universe for our benefit (or harm).  If we accept anything science has to say, then we have to accept all of it, based on the evidence provided, until such time as a better explanation presents itself.

The evidence points quite strongly to there being no god.  If there were good evidence that some god or other existed, I'm quite sure it would be accepted.  But the evidence is lacking, and so one must set aside theistic beliefs if one accepts at all the notion of an objective universe.

It is also quite sad to see people like tarheeltroll conflate the atheist stance with atheists.  This is a very serious error in thinking.  Just as too many people conflate science, the sciences, and scientists (something about which I've written elsewhen), so too is the conflation of atheism and atheists rife with fallacy.  One does not discount mathematics because a mathematician made an error.  Similarly, one does not discount scientific knowledge because a scientist made an error.  To do so is a case of an ad hominem argument, which is by definition fallacious.

Regarding tarheeltroll, it doesn't matter what atheists are - it matters whether the atheist stance is better than the theist stance.  I wish theists would at least come to understand that, if anything, about atheism.

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