Answering the CARM

Answering the CARM

Why should we leave apologetics to the bad guys ? Why should we leave it unchallenged, for that matter ? Christian arguments often lend themselves to unbridled idiocy or hilarity – think only of the ontological argument, which has been described as a linguistic sleight of hand. Today, in a wonderful show of atheist apologetics, I will take the time to examine the argument of a supposedly serious organization which calls itself the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry. We learn from the About CARM page that it is in fact the work of one person named Matt Slick, who is “an associate pastor and elder”. Well, let’s just say it doesn’t start very well.

I laughed out loud when I read the header of one of their sections on the main page, which is : “Got Doctrine ?”. Oh yea, Biblical doctrine is so “hip”… the milk of the soul ! But enough disgression, let me now discuss the sub-section which interests us which is appropriately labeled “atheism”, which they have, properly, put under “philosophy”.

Surprisingly, the opening text is quite accurate : “Atheists range from strong to weak. Some atheists outright affirm there is no God. Others say they choose not to exercise faith in the concept of God thereby neither acknowledging or denying God”. They forgot to mention our agnostic atheist friends, but that is admittedly on a different level of debate. Their explanations and definitions are also surprisingly accurate. The problems begin when we actually get to arguments.

They of course pretend to have evidence for their particular sky-pixie. Let’s look at this, shall we ? After which I will take the time to point out their funniest blunders.

The title seems bold enough : “Answering Atheist’s Objections – I don’t see any convincing evidence for the existence of God”. We can suppose that they want to answer to this objection in some way, by giving us evidence or a reason why we don’t need any. Their arguments will be in red, and my translation or comments in green.

The argument begins thus :
“I don’t see any convincing evidence for the existence of God,
A. That does not mean there is no God.”

That is quite obvious. But the reason given is rather… funny :

“i. Since you cannot know all evidence, it is possible that evidence exists that proves God’s existence, or at least supports his existence.”

Translation :
We should start by insulting people’s intelligence, that’s good… in fact, that’s what we’re best at – after all, we’re Christians.
Okay, what should we say… oh yea, here : you’re not omnipotent like God, so you can’t know that there’s no piece of evidence for sky-pixies in the universe somewhere, where the IPU is grazing. Wait, that also means that there may be evidence of the IPU somewhere, or even evidence that the Star Goat ate God millions of years ago and left a smelly methane cloud ! Hmmm… do we really want to continue that way ? Ah sure, they’ll never see thru it anyway.
So as I was saying, God’s old smelly socks may be hidden somewhere on Pluto…

“a. Therefore, it is possible that God exists. i. If it is possible, then faith has its place. ii. If it is possible that God exists, then you should be an agnostic (an agnostic holds that God may exist but he is unknowable.)”

Translation :
Now that we have established that you are too stupid to see thru the idea of sky-pixies, we can say that it is possible that God exists, and therefore you should be agnostic, and faith has its place. Wait a second, don’t weak-atheists also hold that gods may exist ? And didn’t we just try to pretend that we were using reason, not faith, to make our argument ? Geeze, do you really think they’ll see thru that one ? Let’s hope they’re as stupid as our parishoners, otherwise we’re in trouble.

“B. It is possible that there is no evidence at all for God. i. But this cannot be stated absolutely, since all evidence would need to be known to show there is no evidence. a. Therefore, since all evidence cannot be known by any one person, it is possible that evidence exists that supports theism.”

Translation :
Let’s repeat ourselves to make sure they really get it. Non-omnipotent = can’t know everything = can’t know whenever gods exist or not. We’ll just assume they don’t know that we *can* know that gods don’t exist, especially our own brand of sky-pixies. Let’s hope they also forgot that, according to our own special brand of logic, the Star Goat could also exist.

“C. Then what kind of evidence would be acceptable?”

Translation :
Ah, now that we have “established” that gods may exist, let’s try to twist our reader’s mind around so he comes to accept our pitiful subjective doublespeak as evidence.

You get the idea. The rest of the “argument” contains such gems as “But, do you have a presupposition that God does not exist or that the miraculous cannot occur? If so, then you cannot objectively examine the evidence”. Their text called “Entropy and Causality used as a proof for God’s existence” is even worse – they use the old refuted Cosmological Argument to argue that a supernatural being caused the universe. Ho-hum. At least they have the courage to admit that “I admit to making a leap of logic and assert that the supernatural, uncaused cause is the God of the Bible”. Because of course, we all know that the IPU was the one who created the universe, not God.

Maybe they don’t rate very high in the “proof” department, but what about their other arguments ? Maybe they have some good points to make.

“Can an Atheist be ethical ?”. Such is the ridiculous question that they ask, conveniently forgetting to mention that religion is immoral. Of course atheists can be ethical – they are not bound to ridiculous religious dogma and are free to pursue ethical righteousness (and yes, some of us wear mixed fibers).

The CARM is quite aware of this, and they begin “The answer to this question is a definite, ‘Yes.'”. Unfortunately, their reasons are once again rather deficient : “Atheists are people who, whether they like it or not, have the law of God written on their hearts (Rom. 2:15)”. Well slap me around and call me Suzie ! I had no idea I had the law of a sky-pixie pencilled in on my blood-pumping organ. And why exactly have doctors not found out about this abuse of our body by mythical beings yet ?

Okay, okay, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. They may have meant to metaphorically express that we all have ethical principles in us. Indeed they do elaborate : “They have a sense of right and wrong. They must work with people and being unethical in society would not server (sic) them very well”. Nice of them to break their tradition of taking atheists for idiots and actually acknowledging the moral superiority of atheism. Why they think that this is the “law of God” is however quite mysterious, since it is an atheistic trait ! Note in passing the lack of divine inspiration in the making of their web site : I doubt God would make a mistake as obvious as “server” instead of “serve”.

Their subsequent claims are standard Christian fare : atheists are all relativists, we follow the Ten Commandments (which ones ?), atheists are too stupid to find morality, with an admission at the end that they would rather not eat shellfish or wear mixed fibers than follow a rational system of morality.

More surprises await us in “Concerning atheist attacks on Theism”. But before this, they admit to being puzzled about the reason for the existence of atheism. “(…)If God doesn’t exist then what’s the big deal? Why not let the theists believe in God the way a child believes in the tooth fairy? To the atheist neither exists”. I didn’t know 92% of the population believes in tooth fairies ! Not that I’d be surprised. Neither did I know that tooth-fairyists were lobbying to have their Ten Biting Suggestions hanged in courtrooms or a moment of prayer for the Tooth Fairy In The Sky. Learn something new every day.

No, the surprise is that they are quite aware of their intellectual impotence ! Indeed, and I quote, “Many atheists I’ve spoken to tell me that I cannot think logically, that I am deluded, and that I believe in myths… Atheists have told me that religion is only a giant con-game designed to get peoples’ money, that clergymen are in business for themselves, and that I was mentally ill for believing in God”. At least the truth is starting to get to them. But he attempts to refute these claims by saying :

“It can’t be Christianity because the Bible teaches us to love God and love our fellow man. It teaches that the fear of the Lord is wisdom, that credulity (truthfulness) is a way of life, and that eyewitness accounts of the miraculous is one of the evidences for its validity. Of course, the atheist would argue with all of this because he must.”

Makes perfect sense. How beautiful is the Christian’s glorification of myths and credulity ! Also, the Bible is all about love :

“The Lord is a man of war” (Exodus 15:3). In the Bible alone, God has killed or has ordered killed 813 812 people, only counting the occasions where the number of victims was explicit. You also have to include the Flood (the entire population of the earth except for eight survivors), every first-born of Egypt, and all the other wars ordered to “God’s people”.
“Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass” (I Samuel 15:3)
“I came not to bring peace to the world, but rather a sword” (Matthew 10:34)
“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26)

It also promotes wisdom :

“For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate. Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Corinthians 1:19-20)

Do I have an amen ?

“It seems to me that if the atheists were in power, that their views of religion being cruel, evil, and unreasonable would force them to either imprison the ‘offenders’ or legislate complete and total annihilation of all things religious. No wonder they are working against the Lord and His people.
Does atheism really teach freedom? No. It teaches bondage for its adherents and for those who disagree with it.”

And we end on a juicy bit of doublespeak. What is that you are saying about the Religious Right again and their complete disrespect of the separation of Church and State ? Nah, they must not be “true Christians”. It’s obvious that a disbelief must necessarily entail “annihilation” and “bondage” ! There’s no way that belief in warrior sky-pixies could ever lead to violence, nosiree. In fact, we have historical evidence that religion has never lead to any form of violence whatsoever.

Some other nice bits of irony can be found :

“Well, to be fair, an atheist can no more prove there is no God than he can prove that there isn’t an ice-cream factory on Jupiter. The problem does not lie with the atheist, but with the theist who demands such an impossible and illogical request. Generally, you do not try to prove a negative. If I asked you to prove there wasn’t an ice-cream factory on Jupiter, could you do it”

Everybody knows there *is* an ice-cream factory on Jupiter, right next to the IPU shrine put there by travelling Grays. But then again I guess it’ll take some time for the Christians to get on with the times.

“To label an atheist as a religious person is to put up a roadblock to any effective communication. It would be like someone saying to a Christian, “You believe in a mean, tyrannical being who likes to torture people.” The Christian would simply role (sic) his eyes and think that the person doesn’t know what he’s talking about”

It’s good that they are aware of their own denial, but they’re probably really trying to say that their OT god isn’t really a tyrannical, blood-thirsty being. Maybe someone needs to read his Bible again ?

“Pride is a harmful thing. It caused the fall. It ruins marriages. It leads to anger and self-righteousness. It has no place in the Christian’s life.”

Wait a second. Aren’t Christians the ones who think that by praying to their sky-pixie, the fabric of reality itself will bend around to their whims ? If that’s not pride, self-righteousness and arrogance, I wonder what it could be. And how exactly does pride ruin marriages ? Paper-thin Christian marriages, maybe. Ah, and we see belief in the mythical “fall” here, despite the already-established evolutionary theory.

“To a Christian, there are experiences that science and logic cannot explain and these experiences are real.”

I guess they have not noticed yet that trying to deny logic is self-refuting.

“In some of the discussions I’ve had with atheists, when I’ve made a valid point in logic, I have been insulted.”
“I’ve been told by atheists that I’m an idiot for believing God, that if I were truly intelligent I’d abandon my anachronistic thinking, etc. I’ve yet to meet a single humble atheist.”

These complaints can be easily explained by pointing out that he considers the Cosmological Argument a “valid point in logic”. If you remember that, it makes perfect sense that he would get insulted. It’s like an atheist using the “rock that cannot be lifted” argument and expecting to be taken seriously.

“For example, one atheist stated that the Trinity was illogical because three gods could not be one God. I had to correct him and show him that the Trinity is the doctrine that there is only one God in three persons, not three gods.”

Ah, this must be the New Maths that they’re talking so much about. One god = three persons. Of course ! It makes perfect sense. Now where did I put my rosary ?

All in all, an interesting web site for atheists who want to read and spot some basic apologetics mistakes. It’s not nearly as bad as most Christian web sites, however.

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