Thursday, August 30, 2007

Goodnight, Rhology.

Greetings, Rhology!


I have decided not to offer a formal rebuttal to your posting, but rather a concluding summation. This summation shall be my last word in this continuing discussion, although I promise to read any response you might offer. One of the reasons I have chosen not to formally respond is I think your most recent posting is unhelpful and only serves to obscure the issues upon which we have hit. In the posting, you repeatedly pluck single sentences from my composition and then demand they be justified or explained. The problem, of course, is that you intentionally do not quote the very justification and explanation I already have provided in the composition to which you are ostensibly responding. I do not care to repeat myself ad infinitum. So, most of the answers to your questions can be easily found by reading my previous response.

More broadly, as it relates to your objections to my worldview, your line of questioning has grown increasingly hairsplitting, venturing dangerously close to absurdity. As “blacksun” (a commenter on my blog) wrote, “Forcing you to defend the term ‘evidence??’ … That's like arguing over what the definition of the word ‘is’ is.” The commenter continued, “Wow. I know there are loonies out there, but I haven't run into a discussion this absurd in ages.” While “garbage in, garbage out” is an accepted truism, I shall expand that to “absurdity in, absurdity out.” Your most recent line of questioning spectacularly exemplifies that, and I shall not fall into your well-laid trap.

Another problem with your most recent round of questions is that it presupposes your own worldview, which you have utterly failed to substantiate. [Note to readers: Go back to my 3636-word, three-part response a couple rounds back. Of all Rhology’s truth-claims that I called into question, which has he substantiated?] You believe there must be “grounds” for logic, reason and induction? OK, then explain what you mean by “grounds” and explain why those things demand such a foundation. Explain why your god character represents sufficient “grounds” while competing god characters (Vishnu, Enlil, Brahman, Ammon-Ra, Zeus) represent insufficient “grounds.” To this point, your contention is completely unsupported, devoid of evidence or explanation, and hardly coherent because you have failed merely to define your terms. What is more, you continue to presuppose the Bible is a perfect vessel of truth, which is another woefully unsupported truth-claim. In fact, looking back through all our interactions, I struggle to find a single instance in which you provide convincing evidence to substantiate the wild presuppositions upon which your worldview depends. By contrast, in my previous composition, I comprehensively defended my truth-claims and an evidence-centric worldview.

Overall, I am completely happy with the results of this discussion, and I eagerly would invite theists and atheists to read it. Among my achievements are

1. Presenting the case against “unlimited attributes,” which I convincingly argued represent an absurd contradiction of terms. If you posit a god character possessing “unlimited attributes,” and I have proved “unlimited attributes” are absurd, then your god character also is proved absurd.

2. Getting you to admit (sans prodding, no less!) that god and the supernatural are beyond the bounds of knowledge (and, thus, nobody can offer any descriptor in relation to the deity or its native realm).

3. Making the case that human language is only functional in its proper context—that being the natural world. When human language is wrenched from the natural world and shoved into a supernatural one (for example, trying to use the descriptor “infinitely powerful” to characterize your god invention), it ceases to be meaningful because it ceases to be in its context.

Of course, as already referenced, arguably my greatest achievement in this engagement has been demonstrating that, no matter how many times you are asked, you refuse to provide evidence to substantiate your presuppositions. You operate from an entirely presuppositional stance and, when asked to justify it, you instead choose to repeat the fantastical presuppositions being questioned. Once again, in stark contrast, my last composition was a thorough defense of my worldview, addressing every question you raised in a comprehensive, convincing manner.

Finally, I now shall explain how I could be convinced of god’s existence. In short, the only way to defeat atheism’s challenge (the challenge of a lack of theistic belief) is to support theism convincingly. You cannot tear apart atheism’s worldview because atheism, in itself, presents no worldview to tear apart. Atheism is a wholly negative stance, proffering no positive foundation.

Here is a systematic breakdown of an experiment that would transform me into a Christian:

1. Noted atheists Christopher Hitchens, Dr. Richard Dawkins, Dr. Daniel Dennett, Dr. Sam Harris, Dr. James Randi, Penn Jillette, Dr. Michael Shermer and Dr. Victor Stenger scour the country’s morgues to find a dead body on which they would like to experiment. The only absolute requirements are that the corpse must have been of average intelligence whilst alive, with no retardation of any type, and an adult. Other variables are irrelevant. Each atheist chooses a cadaver of his liking. Through a competitive coin-toss tournament, one atheist’s selected corpse is chosen for the experiment.

2. The corpse is brought to an examining area, wherein three doctors (all exhaustively trained in the human brain) study it and judge whether it has suffered brain death. The experiment can only continue when all three doctors agree that the corpse is dead and brain death definitely has occurred.

3. The corpse is brought to a church for the next step, and a holy man is chosen to perform the miracle still to come.

4. Inside the church, with no medical equipment present, the holy man is to say, “By the power of Jesus Christ, the son of god, let this person return to life and full vitality! Do this in the name of the lord!” Then, for no more than ten minutes, all parties involved wait.

5. The corpse would come back to life and then be returned to the hospital from whence it came.

6. Three different doctors (all exhaustively trained in the human brain) perform thorough testing on the newly vibrant corpse. The experiment can only continue when all three doctors agree that the corpse is now alive and brain death has been reversed.

7. A relatively simple examination is administered to the dearly resurrected, to judge whether its brain is working properly. For example, 7th grade algebra would be of representative difficulty. An examination score of less than 50% would indicate a faulty brain and yield a negative result for the experiment.

8. The complete experiment—beginning to end—is broadcast live on television, both nationally and internationally. The production crew (composed of atheists and religionists in roughly equal numbers) must be professional, boasting considerable experience in live broadcasting. Finally, the earlier-referenced atheist cabal must be present for every second of the experiment. No funny business.

Admittedly, lesser evidence might make me question my atheism. Lesser evidence might cause me sleepless nights. However, after giving the issue considerable thought, I have concluded that only an experiment of this rigorous nature could utterly convince me of Christianity’s veracity.

It has been a pleasure.


Yours,

JN

23 Comments:

Blogger John Morales said...

Wow, that's a convoluted experiment.

I figure, given an omniscient god, something a little more biblical would be the thing...

I mean, I and many others would sure be convinced if tonight the stars rearranged themselves as cosmic pixels and scrolled a message which every watcher would read in their own language.

Footage of this event* would be better evidence than various holy books.

*Still panglottal, for added coolness.

3:55 AM EDT  
Blogger John Morales said...

Ahem, omnipotent.

All these superlatives become confusing, obviously.

5:35 AM EDT  
Anonymous Rose Ghost said...

Oh boys, don't fight! I'm going to have to read this whole discussion from the beginning...

1:07 PM EDT  
Blogger The Barefoot Bum said...

Ain't Rho a pip? You had a lot more patience with him than I did. I stopped beating my head against presuppositionist apologetics years go at IIDB.

1:23 PM EDT  
Blogger John Morales said...

I had a quick look at his post attempting to impugn you.

It would seem his philosophical framework is mired in the Middle Ages.

6:04 AM EDT  
Blogger MothandRust said...

Rhology is 'infinitely' annoying but I love watching him work. Hi Alan.

This was a fun read and an apt conclusion before circular reasoning becomes spiral reasoning.

7:12 AM EDT  
Blogger The Jolly Nihilist said...

Hello all,

Thanks for the interesting comments. Keep them coming!

Just one thing I wanted to add....

One can be absolutely certain that, as dedicated as Rhology is to the Christian superstition, if he had had a different upbringing, he surely would have been an equally dedicated warrior for Enlil, Vishnu, Brahman, Zeus, Anu, Nintu, Ammon-Ra or any other of the infinitely various god characters. He has been inculcated to defend Yahweh but, given alternate inculcation, he surely would have served a different deity--with equal dedication and unshakable conviction.

Yours,
JN

1:11 PM EDT  
Blogger Tommy said...

Jolly, I have to respectfully disagree with you in part on your assessment of Rhology.

His faith is the zeal of a recent convert and not something inculcated since birth. As I recall in one of his comments, he described his life as being depraved (though from the picture of him on his blog, I can't imagine what terrible behavior he could possibly have engaged in). At any rate, he clearly comes across as someone who was unhappy with his life, and fundamentalist Christianity gave him a sense of purpose in life, which is all well and good. But what causes me to detest people like him is that he extrapolates from his personal experience that nobody can be truly happy unless they believe exactly what he believes.

Rhology's faith makes him feel an arrogant sense of superiority over us, basically expressed in his attitude "only I can truly be good and moral, you can't, so you can never be as good as me. I'm saved and you're not! Nah nah nuh nuh nah nah!"

Because his self-esteemed is tied to his acceptance that every word of the Bible is literally true, he can never allow himself to concede anything, or else the edifice of his belief will come crashing down and he won't feel special anymore.

And that's my shoot from the hip psychological profile of Rhology.

2:58 PM EDT  
Blogger John Morales said...

I feel it's only polite, since you have been referenced, to let you know I made a comment on his site, and after he responsed I commented again (extract - JN refers to you):

In closing, I note you've made another assertion that I find... um, less than convincing.

Now, I don't know what JN tried to do, but whatever it was, you said that JN begged the question viciously multiple times by "appealing to evidence to justify his statement that all truth must be obtained by examining evidence."

Is this not, essentially, saying that JN's options were to (a) "beg the question" by appealing to evidence or (b) contradict himself by not appealing to evidence.

Obviously, you believe he made a contention that in your metaphilosophy is meaningless.

11:10 PM EDT  
Blogger John Morales said...

Whoops, I should preview.

The quote marks were added (wrongly during post-pasting) to represent italics in the original comment. The opening quote symbol should be here: ...JN "begged....

11:18 PM EDT  
Blogger The Jolly Nihilist said...

Hey John,

Although I have spoken my last word on this subject to Rhology (since somebody must halt the spiral to absurdity), I have no problem clarifying the point for you.

My "first principle" can be summarized thusly: "The road to truth is paved with evidence." That is, evidence is the single most reliable method by which human primates can discover truth.

A valid challenge to this first principle can be summarized thusly: That principle is valid only if it, itself, can be substantiated through evidence. After all, I already have said evidence is the path to truth and my first principle is articulated as being truthful.

That is why, in my extended composition appearing before this one, I utilized evidence to substantiate my first principle. Evidence, itself, CAN be used to show “the road to truth is paved with evidence.” As long as evidence can be used to substantiate my first principle, then I can rationally declare that first principle and be immune to the challenge to which I have referred.

I continue to be nonplussed by Rhology's menacing construction vis-à-vis evidence. As I already have articulated, "evidence" simply means the relevant facts as they pertain to a larger, more complex truth. The appeal to evidence, in short, is one which demands claims be substantiated. I once again defer to blacksun, who rightly pointed out that the discussion was becoming absurd beyond utility—absurdity in, absurdity out.

Nevertheless, I have yet to see Rhology compose a 2000-word defense of his wild and numerous presuppositions. If you read my 3636-word, three-part response from a couple rounds back, you saw that I isolated many of his presuppositions, and he elected never to substantiate any of them in the slightest. He accepts his presuppositions on religious faith, just as he would accept the tenets of Hinduism with utter conviction had he had a different upbringing and been subject to alternate inculcation.

Tommy is correct, as usual; Rhology does not want to have his consciousness raised, by me or anybody else. That is just fine. However, I shall not endlessly defend central pillars of rationality—such as evidence and claim-substantiation—to somebody too enamored of his own dogma to learn and grow.


Yours,
JN

3:04 AM EDT  
Blogger John Morales said...

JN, I've had a look since.

It's all there for anyone to read for themselves.

This reader sees rhetorical obfuscation from one party.

5:02 AM EDT  
Blogger The Jolly Nihilist said...

Thanks for the additional comment, John!

I harbor no antipathy toward Rhology. Simply put, I feel bad that he is slave to a theistic construction and unwilling to have his consciousness raised. I have tried to isolate his presuppositions and, thereby, force him to substantiate that which cannot be substantiated. Realizing that his footing would be unsteady, he instead decided to attack my worldview. After I competently defended the truth-claims he assigned to me, it became clear that he was more interested in rhetorical hairsplitting than substantiating his own numerous truth-claims and presuppositions.

Make no mistake: Rhology is a good debater, able to set rhetorical traps and exude confidence with every sentence. Alas, not even the sharp mind of a good wordsmith can defend a tome in which a woman is transformed into a pillar of salt, a donkey and a serpent speak human language (presumably Hebrew or Aramaic), humans (such as Adam and Noah) live to be older than 900, corpses return to life and roam the Middle East, and human parthenogenesis occurs (without medical instrumentation, no less!) and results in a male child. Oh yes, and let us not forget one of the resurrected corpses rising bodily into the cosmos.

Once somebody lays out all Christianity's truth-claims in a dispassionate yet descriptive way, one is amazed that anybody of considerable intelligence would fall for such a fantastical—and fantastically unsupported—fairy tale.

In truth, there is not much left for me to say, on this issue or the god issue in general. I intend to limit postings on this blog considerably in the future, only composing a piece when I feel I have something brand new to add to the discussion. I recently did a word count on my homepage alone, and found nearly 30,000 words of text—three-fifths of a book. I believe that My Case Against God essentially has been presented, and my case is a sound one.

Yours,
JN

2:30 PM EDT  
Blogger John Morales said...

JN, I think you've probably learnt lessons (if nothing else, frustration management) from your encounter with Rhology, and hope you're not feeling discouraged. There's few enough voices of reason on the Web.

If I may offer a suggestion, when in such a "debate", it's perhaps better to address only 1 or 2 claims per "round". Dealing with multiple points simultaneously requires good will and intellectual honesty on both sides.

6:15 PM EDT  
Blogger The Jolly Nihilist said...

Greetings, John!

No worries…. Our friend Rhology has neither disillusioned me nor shaken my certainty with respect to the atheistic position. On the contrary, my interactions with him have served to strengthen and refine my arguments, and helped clarify my positions in my own mind. My discussions with Rhology have shown that Christians operate based upon unsubstantiated—and unsubstantiatable—presuppositions. The discussions also have given me a chance to outline my own worldview, and justify it piece by piece. As I have capably shown, evidence can be used to demonstrate the utter centrality of evidence vis-à-vis larger, more complex truths.

My decision to scale back this blog has to do with the fact that I believe I have presented My Case Against God almost in its entirety. As already referenced, the homepage alone represents three-fifths of a book. Over the months, I have tweaked each composition and made edits where appropriate. Overall, I feel as though “my job is done” as it relates to contributing to the freethought community. Perhaps, in the near future, I shall publish a book under my actual name, comprised largely of this blog’s content.

In the meantime, I invite everybody to mine the archives and spread the message of rationality wide and far. It takes a lot of patience and effort to reverse theistic certainty, whether it is Rhology’s certainty about Christianity or Osama bin Laden’s certainty about Islam or Mohandas Gandhi’s certainty about Hinduism (at least his interpretation thereof). When people are willing to fly jumbo passenger jets into skyscrapers at 500 miles per hour, or strap high explosives onto their bodies and blow themselves into a billion scraps of charred flesh, it is clear that religious certainty—no matter what the chosen superstition—is pernicious and frightening. I sincerely hope this website has sewn the seeds of doubt into many minds and, perhaps, if only in a few cases, those seeds have grown into the succulent fruit of reason.

Yours,
JN

8:04 PM EDT  
Blogger John Morales said...

I'm very pleased to hear that.

I admire the contribution you've made, and wish you the best.

8:14 PM EDT  
Blogger Rhology said...

Hi all,

Back from vacation, long weekend and all.

Wow, I've caused quite a stir! I appreciate the many attempts to analyse my psyche and all that, and appreciate JN's attributing to me a bit of credit for wordsmithery. I think he's very possibly the more verbose of the two of us, but at least I spell better! ;-)

Anyway, I'll be revisiting JN's post and also posting a response that includes more positive evidence for my position. So far in my interactions w/ the JN (as w/ the Barefoot Bum), I've contented myself w/ poking holes.

So, stay tuned.
Finally, yes, the JN has demonstrated more patience than some. You are to be commended for that.

Peace,
Rhology

2:42 PM EDT  
Blogger Rhology said...

Hi JN,

Here's part of my response to you and Rose Ghost and other commenters.

I've dealt w/ your comment here.

I think your most recent posting is unhelpful

This is entirely due to the question-begging way in which you responded to me. If I ask you a question and then you beg it twice, and then I point that out twice, the direction of blame is clear.

only serves to obscure the issues upon which we have hit.

I disagree 100%. The questions I've asked are easy for a theist and impossible for you. Which is what I wanted to make clear.

you repeatedly pluck single sentences from my composition and then demand they be justified or explained.

And would it kill you to go ahead and justify/explain them?
Why even talk to me anymore? Oh wait, you're not. ;-)

The problem, of course, is that you intentionally do not quote the very justification and explanation I already have provided in the composition to which you are ostensibly responding.

1) Then point that out and make it obvious to me and the readers. Make me look like a fool.
2) All justification and explanation you have made are question-begging. In light of your accusations that I do so, I'm pointing out your inconsistencies.

So, most of the answers to your questions can be easily found by reading my previous response.

Well, they're "answers" in the sense that they are words on a page found directly after a point I made.

Another problem with your most recent round of questions is that it presupposes your own worldview

Precisely. Interestingly, insofar that you assume that communication, reason, and logic are in force in talking to me, you presuppose my worldview as well. You just won't admit it.
I refuse, however, to take on a worldview like yours, which is irrational and cannot even account for the questioning I'm engaging in, in a discussion. As you said, absurdity in, absurdity out. I want to presuppose a worldview that actually makes sense.

Go back to my 3636-word, three-part response a couple rounds back. Of all Rhology’s truth-claims that I called into question, which has he substantiated?

1) All that is intentional. I wanted evidence that evidence is trustworthy 1st. Which you didn't provide. Why should I continue on a futile quest?
2) You keep trumpeting how long your post was. Do you want a gold star for the "Most Words Typed" category?

You believe there must be “grounds” for logic, reason and induction?

Yes.

OK, then explain what you mean by “grounds” and explain why those things demand such a foundation.

"Grounds" = a justification for the foundation of the thing in question.
I can trust evidence, logic, reason, induction, and communication b/c they reflect the character and attributes of a Creator God. W/o Him, they seem to me to be impossible. I'm asking you to justify them. I want you to explain your faith in empiricism.

Explain why your god character represents sufficient “grounds” while competing god characters (Vishnu, Enlil, Brahman, Ammon-Ra, Zeus) represent insufficient “grounds.”

Sure. See how easy it is? Why couldn't you do the same?
1) None of those named are solely God; ie, there are other gods.
2) Several (maybe all) of them have not eternally been God.
3) None of them claim to be the grounds. Why should I think they are if they don't claim to be?
4) All of them exhibit characteristics of having been devised by human imagination. Ie, they are presented as being able to die in their own essence, have sex w/ humans, are gratuitously cruel, etc.

What is more, you continue to presuppose the Bible is a perfect vessel of truth, which is another woefully unsupported truth-claim.

Said he who can't provide any justification for using the phrase "unsupported truth-claim".

Presenting the case against “unlimited attributes,” which I convincingly argued represent an absurd contradiction of terms.

1) Said he who can't provide any justification for using the phrase "absurd" or "contradiction".
2) "Infinite" is an attribute as well. Not limitable. Just give it up - human language is indeed inadequate for the task in all its enormity, but it is sufficiently useful in many ways to describe.

Getting you to admit (sans prodding, no less!) that god and the supernatural are beyond the bounds of knowledge (and, thus, nobody can offer any descriptor in relation to the deity or its native realm).

Quite a non sequitur there. Just b/c God in His entirety is beyond the bounds of human knowledge does not mean that He remains totally incomprehensible given His condescension to reveal Himself to humanity. I've mentioned that quite a few times in our discussion; I don't know why you don't take it into acct. Trying to score cheap debate points?

When human language is wrenched from the natural world and shoved into a supernatural one ...it ceases to be meaningful because it ceases to be in its context.

1) In your worldview, it's not even necessarily meaningful to describe natural or human attributes.
2) Once again you ignore the fact that God has revealed Himself.

no matter how many times you are asked, you refuse to provide evidence to substantiate your presuppositions.

If evidence is not trustworthy (which I've been asking you to assure me of), then what would be the point?

You cannot tear apart atheism’s worldview because atheism, in itself, presents no worldview to tear apart.

That is manifestly untrue - it's why I kept noting the positive assertions you made. If you won't step up to the plate of your positive assertions, this is pointless.

Here is a systematic breakdown of an experiment that would transform me into a Christian:

"If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.".
I don't believe this for one instant. You and they all know God exists; if this occurred, you'd just find some other explanation for it or slough it off into the "ok, well, that gives me some food for thought" category. But it wouldn't do anythg to incite you to believe in the God of the Bible. You are dead in sin and blind to goodness. Repent of your sin and ask God to forgive you, to help you believe. Those are the steps if you are interested in the truth.

Peace and repentance,
Rhology

12:53 PM EDT  
Blogger Rhology said...

Oh, forgot, John.

My framework is not really Anselmian. It's more Calvinistic/Van Tilian.

Just FYI.

12:55 PM EDT  
Blogger Tommy said...

Rhology, every time you type your comments, you show more and more what an asshole you are.

When you get right down to it, all you have to offer is fear.

"You better believe exactly as I do or else you're gonna burn in hell!"

God "condescends" to speak to us. Funny how for all the claims by Christians that the god they worship is a loving and compassionat god, the ideal for the god that you worship resembles a Stalinist dictatorship or a master/slave relationship.

And with that, I am through with you.

Apathetically yours,

TK

7:45 PM EDT  
Blogger Rhology said...

Tommy,

Not exactly as I do. But you have to repent, trust Jesus as your Savior, and desire to serve Him as your Master.
There are secondary issues beyond that. But those three things and their supporting framework, yes. If that makes me a nasty person, too bad.
As if you are less exclusivistic, calling my beliefs wrong. Get over yourself, Tommy.

6:48 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a miserable waste of one's existence...groveling at the feet of a non-existent Master...

Pity.

9:42 PM EDT  
Blogger John Morales said...

And here we are, nearly a year on.

Purely because it amused me, I've kept track of Rhology's blog - true to form, his current post as I write this compares the Jolly Nihilist with Ted Bundy - and, not surpringly, a sad show it is.

Time after time his pseudo-arguments, insinuations, assertions, insensitivity and gaffes are exposed and derided, only to have the game resume the next posting.

Still, even Rhology can learn; he's become somewhat more adept at rhetoric and has a better sense of when to quietly disappear from a thread.

Rhology is an interesting specimen.

7:55 AM EDT  

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