Class Warfare Blog

May 2, 2020

The Same Old, Lame Arguments

The question is often posited as to why religious apologists, especially Christian apologists, keep using old arguments that have been refuted centuries, if not millennia ago, arguments like Pascal’s Wager, or Anselm’s arguments, or Tertullian’s arguments.

I think I finally understand and it is from a “follow the money” style approach such as serves well in politics. There is a perception that the arguments proffered are designed to convince nonbelievers to become believers, and if any of this actually occurs, I suggest that that is incidental. I think the main audience for such apologetics is not unbelievers, but believers, to keep the faithful in their pews, as it were.

Offering an intellectual argument for why one’s faith is well-founded, even if there is little understanding of the argument by the hearer, lends credence to their faith in the form of “see, this college professor/philosopher/well-educated person believes and he has reasons, even if I do not understand them.”

The re-use of hoary old arguments is based upon some simple facts: one is that the arguments were convincing the first time they were offered (convincing to believers, that it) so if a modern believer hadn’t heard of that argument before, it is a revelation. Young believers on sites such as Quora ask naïve question referring to these arguments as if they were slam dunk conclusive . . . because the people offering them don’t offer a balance treatment when doing so, they only point out the “obvious.” (A balanced treatment would offer discussions of why the argument works at some level and fails at others, such as would be offered in a college philosophy classroom.)

A second reason is that apologists don’t get paid by atheists. They get paid to speak at religious conferences, they get paid because a religious publication accepts their offerings for publication (often professors must “publish or perish”), they get paid to be a guest speaker at a church, they get paid to debate atheists (normal in neutral or churchly settings).

The major admonition in public speaking is to “know your audience.” Most audiences can follow a short snappy argument, but not a long point by point dissection of that argument, for which they have little patience and possibly little understanding either.

Apologists do not often point out that nothing can be “proven” through a philosophical argument. If you have brute facts as premises and a bulletproof argument, then all you have is that “if the premises are true, so too is the conclusion.” In other words, the conclusion is inherent in the premises. If the premises are false or simply are not brute facts, then the conclusions will be also. So, a common method of tweaking an argument is to “tweak” the premises. Here is a common premise used in the Cosmological Argument for the Existence of a God or Gods: “If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.” If this “premise” is accepted, you will conclusively prove that a god created the universe because the only two options are “explanation/no explanation” and we all think there is an explanation. The reason for that conclusion is that the conclusion is buried in the premise. Another way to state that is; “If the universe has an explanation of its existence, the only explanation is God.” So, no other explanation, of the myriad possibilities, is allowed. Well, then, “God created the universe!”

But that premise is not a premise, it is a mere assertion, an assertion of faith in fact. To understand this consider these variations of that “premise?”
• If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is Allah.
• If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is Yahweh.
• If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is Anubis.
• If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is Odin.
• If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Can you honestly argue that any of these is “obviously true,” the normal criterion to be applied to premises in logical arguments?

In fact, one cannot put “God” or “gods” in a premise of a philosophic argument because those are matters of faith and not “brute facts,” that all would agree to. (Another form of religious persecution being directed at Christians, I am sure.)

So, Christian apologists and others, keep trotting out the same old, tired, lame arguments that have existed as zombie arguments for centuries because they have new audiences coming out of Sunday Schools around the country and well that’s what they get paid to do.

10 Comments »

  1. I see people like Ray Comfort use these techniques to catch people by surprise. They are the more “natural” atheists that haven’t honed any arguments, but simply don’t believe (have a hunch) there is a god. I’m sure many of these people have better answers after giving it a few moments of thought. Like L’esprit de l’escalier, or stairwell humor—thinking of the perfect reply after it’s too late (or after the camera is off) but I know people like Ray edit responses out that we’re convincing counter arguments. That’s the way the operate.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by jim- — May 2, 2020 @ 11:17 am | Reply

  2. an intellectual argument for why one’s faith is well-founded, even if there is little understanding of the argument by the hearer, lends credence to their faith in the form of “see, this college professor/philosopher/well-educated person believes and he has reasons, even if I do not understand them.

    That (and his arrogance/greed) is the bedrock of Craig’s entire career.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by john zande — May 2, 2020 @ 3:47 pm | Reply

    • I should think so. Surely his reasoning isn’t making him a star.

      On Sat, May 2, 2020 at 3:47 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by Steve Ruis — May 2, 2020 @ 9:47 pm | Reply

  3. The one and only reality that I think basically kills every apologetic argument is the fact nobody will ever know there is a god while they are still alive.

    Of course theists may be convinced of a god within their own heads due to their emotional brain activities and this much science does know, but the pure fact for theists and sceptics is that you will have to die first to find out, but even then the truth may still be unknown to the dead (we have no brain) and of course will always still be unknown to those that live.

    It is one fantastic marketing system that can not be replicated or even argued against but is used for hundreds of different gods and deities around the world, and to think it all started out with simple primitive stone age people who needed to survive in a world as much mentally as they did physically, it is simply amazing that the modern evolved brain still uses this system to combat insecurities.

    Liked by 3 people

    Comment by sklyjd — May 2, 2020 @ 8:26 pm | Reply

    • On top of that one cannot prove an afterlife until they die and even if there is such a thing as a souls, the life one has then has to be far different from what they have now.

      And … on top of that, when you die you find out the purpose of your life when you can do nothing to effect that purpose.

      Plus, what if you don’t like “your purpose”? Maybe you are to serve God … at His parties, as His bartender? So, all of pain and suffering of mortality was for that?

      On Sat, May 2, 2020 at 8:26 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — May 2, 2020 @ 9:50 pm | Reply

  4. As far as I’m concerned, there are two types of preacher/apologist. One who truly believes all of the bullshit, and the other knows it’s bullshit and is in if for the money/what prestige there is among the believers.

    Neither of them have convincing arguments for their gods, and the reality is they really don’t have to work that hard for the believer. The believer tends to dutifully accept every baseless premise presented as fact, that comes from the mouth of their preacher/apologist.

    These people also vote… Probably why we have an orange idiot in the White House.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by shelldigger — May 3, 2020 @ 9:27 am | Reply

    • I think we have our current POTUS because the Dems put up a weak candidate and a lot of people stayed home. (That and her campaign was weak, weak, weak. How can a candidate run on his business acumen and then not have all of his failings as a business man pointed out.)

      On Sun, May 3, 2020 at 9:27 AM Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — May 3, 2020 @ 10:22 am | Reply

      • Well then the case is made for NOT staying at home the next time! 😉

        Like

        Comment by shelldigger — May 3, 2020 @ 10:37 am | Reply

        • It would be if our choice for president were other than between Tweedledee and Tweedledumber.

          Like

          Comment by Steve Ruis — May 3, 2020 @ 10:41 am | Reply


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