Friday, April 24, 2009

Anti-Intellectual Tendencies in Atheism

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Adolf Von Harnack, 1851-1930
Major liberal Bible scholar


This is a statement by a troll on a Message board:


In reply to this post by jimbo
Last edited by Metacrock : Today at 03:06 PM .




Fact is, "exegesis" was developed and honed just to thwart such attacks as mine. They are just specious explanations that ARE NOT BIBLICAL! THAT IS NOT WHAT IT SAYS, FOLKS! It is what it says and not just when it is convenient for your position! I don't fall for that "commentary" BS! I now well how to read and interpret things for myself, including the Bible! What we have here is the phenonenon described in the book WHEN PROPHCY FAILS. Read it!


I realize that this guy does not represent all atheists. But I have seen many other atheists reflect this same idea. In fact the whole concept of the "Courtier's reply"


Atheists are always coming up with little gimmicks. Anytime you trump them with real knowledge they get up set and find a gimmick. The Jesus myth theory was such a gimmick. Jesus was such a compelling figure and there is some decent evidence he rose from the dead, so to counter that they just pretend he never existed, and give it a little name and make up some pseudo intelligent sounding crap pertaining to it. The "default" and the "extraordinary evidence credo" these are all gimmicks atheists made up and they are passed off as pseudo official sounding quasi logical tactics that in actuality mean nothing.

The latest is the Courtier's reply. This is it:


I recently referred to the "Courtier's Reply", a term invented by PZ Myers to rebut the claims of believers who insist that their superstitious beliefs are ever so much more sophisticated than the simple version that Dawkins attacks.

PZ's response deserves much more publicity because it goes to the heart of the debate between rationalism and supersition. I'm going to post his original Courtier's Reply below (without permission, but I'm sure he'll understand) but before doing so I need to remind everyone about the original fairy tale [The Emperor's New Clothes]


This is a statement by a reductionist scientism king. Larry Moran is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Toronto. He's on a blog called Sand Walk.


So What this courtier's reply is saying is that if the skeptic says stupid things about theology and demonstrates that he knows nothing about it and the theist says "O your criticism is invalid because you don't understand what you are criticizing" then all the atheist has to do is say "that's the courtiers reply" and the theist is supposed to go "O my God, I've violated a law of logic!" and give up and stop believing in God. But in realty it's into a log of logic, I never heard it in a logic class.It's not in a logic text book, and the meaning of it is silly. I'ts just saying 'You can't point out my ignorance of theology because I will not allow theology to have any kind of validity or importance and religious people may not not any sort of human dignity." That's all it's saying. It's nothing more than anti-intellectual stupidity.


Sanders lauds PZ Myers's version of the tactic,Here is Myers statement about it:


The Courtier's Reply
by PZ Myers


I have considered the impudent accusations of Mr Dawkins with exasperation at his lack of serious scholarship. He has apparently not read the detailed discourses of Count Roderigo of Seville on the exquisite and exotic leathers of the Emperor's boots, nor does he give a moment's consideration to Bellini's masterwork, On the Luminescence of the Emperor's Feathered Hat. We have entire schools dedicated to writing learned treatises on the beauty of the Emperor's raiment, and every major newspaper runs a section dedicated to imperial fashion; Dawkins cavalierly dismisses them all. He even laughs at the highly popular and most persuasive arguments of his fellow countryman, Lord D. T. Mawkscribbler, who famously pointed out that the Emperor would not wear common cotton, nor uncomfortable polyester, but must, I say must, wear undergarments of the finest silk.


Dawkins arrogantly ignores all these deep philosophical ponderings to crudely accuse the Emperor of nudity.

Personally, I suspect that perhaps the Emperor might not be fully clothed — how else to explain the apparent sloth of the staff at the palace laundry — but, well, everyone else does seem to go on about his clothes, and this Dawkins fellow is such a rude upstart who lacks the wit of my elegant circumlocutions, that, while unable to deal with the substance of his accusations, I should at least chide him for his very bad form.


Until Dawkins has trained in the shops of Paris and Milan, until he has learned to tell the difference between a ruffled flounce and a puffy pantaloon, we should all pretend he has not spoken out against the Emperor's taste. His training in biology may give him the ability to recognize dangling genitalia when he sees it, but it has not taught him the proper appreciation of Imaginary Fabrics.





In other words, knowledge of theological subjects is just plain bull shit and it doesn't matter if Dawkins doesn't understand it because it's not worth understanding. So it's not valid criticism of him to say that. Except the problem is, if he understood theology he would see that his criticisms are wrong. The criticisms he makes are almost always about fundamentalists views. Since he refuses to accept that there are other non fundamentalist types of theology, when you point it out he just says O that's ridiculous because all theology is crap so it doesn't matter--but if he knew that he might not make the criticisms becasue they don't apply. But it's not worthing knowing that. he's just reasoning in a cirlce.

Here's his logic:

Him: religion is evil superstiion because fundies believe X

Liberal: we don't beileve x

him: that doesn't matter becasue religion is all crap no matter what. so even if you don't believe the thing I say is crap you still your own crap that must be stupid because you are religious. I know it's stupid because religion is stupid. Of course that's based on the stuff that you don't believe but that doesn't matter.

Narrow minded anti-intellectual brinkman ship in a most unsophisticated manner.

A very emotionally immature atheist tried this on me recently. Here's how it went.

Brent: All religious people believe in big man in the sky.

Me: process theology doesn't believe in big man in the sky

Brent: that's nonsesne all religous people do so they mustt.

Me; you clearly don't know enoguh about theology to say that

Brent: Courteiers reply! Courtiers' replay!

Like some magic king'x X that's suppossed to mean something. Clearly it's stupid because they are only trying to dodge the fact that their criticisms are based upon things they don't understand and that don't apply. Its' an attempt to hide their ignorance. They are committing an informal fallacy with the use of this gimmick. It's called "ipsie dixit." It means "truth by stipulation." They are saying in effect "I simply stipulate that I will not allow you to have knowledge. AT this point on your knowledge is now void becasue I declare to be so, since it's religion and religion is stupid."

Again their reasoning is quite circular since the reasons they would give for reducing religion to superstition don't' apply to modern sophisticated theology, but the fact that it can be labeled "theology" and they don't even know what that means, they stipulate that it must be stupid. So even though their reasons don't apply they just demand that they must do so any way.

Again they are merely stipulating truth and insisting they are right without any just reasons. It's idiotic to try and criticize a whole field you know nothing about. To make up for appalling ignorance they imply a third rate gimmick that is actually made up of two informal fallacies: ipsie dixit and circular reasoning.


This anti-intellectual tendency is not confined to this one tactic. The new tactick, which I have noticed for a few years now, is to deny any sort of discipline of scholarship that has developed within the theological community. So any self defense that a believer could make is automatically suspect and wrong merely becasue it is theological. But then one wonders how the skeptics knowledge that theology is all bull shit could ever have developed in the first place? When we consider the history of Biblical scholarship it becomes clear that the atheists are merely arguing in a circle.

The history of scholarship shows us that it was not invented in answer to pressing atheist attacks on the bible. There was no body of talented intelligent atheists pressing for a logical reading of the bible in the days before modern Biblical scholarship. Modern scholarship grew out of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment in answer to the re-birth of classical learning and the advancement of scientific knowledge. One of the first modern textual critics was Erasmus. Erasmus, who live din Rotterdam in the Northern Renaissance, never had a body of atheists to contend with. The major scholars who created modern Biblical scholarship in the 19th century were arch liberals and practically skeptics themselves, such as Von Harnack. So clearly scholarship is a trick to protect the bible from the "brilliant, Penetrating analysis" of these arrogant know nothing who are too lazy to read a couple of books.

This tendency in atheism, the revenge of the trolls shows the true intellectual bankruptcy of Dawkamentalism. They are actually spitting on their own roots when they say since, since modern skepticism and modern Biblical scholarship both grew out of Renaissance humanism. Clearly so when they don't even know that just ten years ago their predecessors on atheist boards (secular web for example) lauded liberal Bible scholars such as John Dominick Crosson. They will quote the Jesus seminary guys without even know these are Bible scholars, this is the product of Biblical scholarship.

18 comments:

A Hermit said...

I won't take issue with your criticism of the way it's used ion that comment, but I thin Myers intended his 'Courtier's Reply' in a much more narrow sense; he was responding to creationists who deny the obvious (that life evolves) and hide their ignorance of biology behind a wall of irrelevant theology. The point is that one needn't study theology in order to refute the ignorant creationist criticisms of people who haven't studied Biology.

Speaking of which, why are you linking to this ignorant, hateful webpage? http://www.scholarscorner.com/apologia/deathtoll.html

Darwin's theory of evolution is responsible for the Holocaust?! Really Joe, you know better than that...

J.L. Hinman said...

that is a good comment. I'm glad you pointed that out for me. I think I'll stick it on an edited version.

I meant to say that but got side tracked in the fiddly bits of trying to put links in and find the graphic and all that.

J.L. Hinman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J.L. Hinman said...

Hermit are you missing what that site said? Social Darwinism? He didn't' say Darwin's theory he said social Darwinism, that was an evil right wing scam. Don't you know what Social Darwinism is?

A Hermit said...

"Hermit are you missing what that site said? Social Darwinism? He didn't' say Darwin's theory he said social Darwinism, that was an evil right wing scam. Don't you know what Social Darwinism is?"Yes I do Joe; do you not read the stuff you link to? Here's the part you missed:

"Hitler's view of the Master Race was highly influenced by both Nietzschean Philosophy and modern, Darwinian evolutionary view of science. So we can also obviously see that evolution must be wrong because it led to more than 6 million Jews and 5 million non-Jews murdered in this quest for F├╝hrer worship and absolute power."And yes, I also realize the writer excuses himself by saying this is all "tongue in cheek", but then that's how Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh excuse their hatemongering...

It's not as bad as the "death to the Homos" site you used to link to here, but it's still offensive.

J.L. Hinman said...

on the front page it says social Darwin.

do you think that guy can count? can't he be right about one thing and wrong about about another? I'll find other sites that show that atheism has murdered millions.

A Hermit said...

"on the front page it says social Darwin."That's why it's important to read the whole thing...;-)

"do you think that guy can count? can't he be right about one thing and wrong about about another? I'll find other sites that show that atheism has murdered millions."Why? Does it really help anybody to throw around hateful slander like that? (And don't start in about atheists who do that kind of thing; if it's bad for them to do it, it's bad for you and other Christians to do it, too...)

J.L. Hinman said...

First, do you think saying that Stalin killed missions is slander? you wan that swept under the rug. o they don't count as real atheists no no no because they did stuff we don't like.

how totally unfair of us to remember it, but it so obvious and just for you to harp on the ignorance of fundies.


secondly, you still think the way to do criticism is to harp on individual mistakes made by me. why do you think that?

why should I tolerate it?

A Hermit said...

First, do you think saying that Stalin killed missions is slander? you wan that swept under the rug. o they don't count as real atheists no no no because they did stuff we don't like."The slander is in the implication that atheists like me have anything (apart from an absence of belief in God) in common with Stalin.

You want to criticize Stalinists I'm right there with you; try generalizing from Stalin to atheism in general and I'm going to object.

Your beloved Liberation Theologists, being Marxist in their outlook, have more in common with Stalin than I do...

There' also this repetition of the "atheist-nazi" theme which you are constantly returning to, with some evolution bashing thrown in for good measure. It's nonsense and I think you know it...

"secondly, you still think the way to do criticism is to harp on individual mistakes made by me."I'm trying to explain to you, as nicely as I can, that you undermine your whole message when you associate yourself with nonsense like this "body count" game. I keep hoping that someday the light will come on and you'll get it...

J.L. Hinman said...

First, do you think saying that Stalin killed missions is slander? you wan that swept under the rug. o they don't count as real atheists no no no because they did stuff we don't like."The slander is in the implication that atheists like me have anything (apart from an absence of belief in God) in common with Stalin.

You want to criticize Stalinists I'm right there with you; try generalizing from Stalin to atheism in general and I'm going to object.


that is the very same logic used by those who say "Christianity caused the crusades, religion causes 9/11" and so forth. Sorry to disappoint you but i don't do this blog just for you. you are not in the league with those real stupid kinds of Dawkies, but they are like that. Stalin was an atheist.Your beloved Liberation Theologists, being Marxist in their outlook, have more in common with Stalin than I do...



Not the Trots. Some of them are Trots.There' also this repetition of the "atheist-nazi" theme which you are constantly returning to, with some evolution bashing thrown in for good measure. It's nonsense and I think you know it...


I've never done any evolution bashing. Just because some site dos is no big deal. do i have to agree with every single thing a site says or I can't link to it? If you had a blog I bet you would link to real narrow minded Dawkie sites."secondly, you still think the way to do criticism is to harp on individual mistakes made by me."I'm trying to explain to you, as nicely as I can, that you undermine your whole message when you associate yourself with nonsense like this "body count" game. I keep hoping that someday the light will come on and you'll get it...


but it doesn't

A Hermit said...

"that is the very same logic used by those who say "Christianity caused the crusades, religion causes 9/11" and so forth."If you object to other people doing that why do you do it?

J.L. Hinman said...

"that is the very same logic used by those who say "Christianity caused the crusades, religion causes 9/11" and so forth."If you object to other people doing that why do you do it?

so they will see what the logic they use really implies.

why don't you study debate and rhetoric? Most of what I is based upon what I learned as a college debater. If you don't understand American policy debate you are probably going to be out of loop on most of what I say.

A Hermit said...

"so they will see what the logic they use really implies."That's fine if you make it clear that's what you're doing; in fact I do the same thing whenever this "body count" nonsense comes up (see, I'm capable of getting it in spite of being so woefully uneducated..) But putting up a link to this kind of crap with no comment isn't an argument, it looks like endorsement.

J.L. Hinman said...

do you see how anti- intellectual atheists are? this is the point I was making, why are you wasting my time criticing my links when you are not address the issue of this thread?

Stalin was an atheist. like or not he was. he killed millions, like it or not he did. make of that what you will. the next time an atheist blames war and hatred and social ills on Christians, let's remember, atheists have killed 100,000,000 people.

A Hermit said...

"do you see how anti- intellectual atheists are? this is the point I was making, why are you wasting my time criticing my links when you are not address the issue of this thread?"No need to get insulting, Joe.

I brought it up because it's a link to an offensive, anti-intellectual web page, which seems to undermine your complaint about atheist "anti-intellectualism" when you link approvingly to theist anti-intellectualism.

How about a little consistency?

J.L. Hinman said...

wouldn't you criticize any page I put up?

A Hermit said...

"wouldn't you criticize any page I put up?"No, just the ignorant hateful ones that blame atheists and evolution for the Holocaust or advocate death for homosexuals...;-)

I get that you need a place to vent about some the characters you run into on the `net, but there's no need to be linking to crap like that...

XAtheistX said...

You call atheists 'anti intellectual?" That's the funniest thing I've read since the funny pages in my youth.

You are the anti-intellectual. All religious people are anti-intellectual because in order to believe they cannot think! From the looks of this blog you do that very well.

You also act like a huge asshole most times too which doesn't help your silly case much. Case in point is the tired old claim that atheism was responsible for the Holocaust. Get your facts straight.