Indeed, his opponent, who’s pseudonym is Beechbum, succeeded in alerting us as to how not to argue, provided us a virtual list of atheist talking points, and thus, succeeded in discrediting himself whilst leaving Marcus’ points unscathed.
Marcus responded to his Beechbum point by point in the post Response to Hammock Highlights: In Defense of Rational Thought.
I thought that it may be instructive to merely point out that Beechbum peppered his arguments with:
1. Arguments from a lack of knowledge of the Bible’s concepts, contents and contexts.
2. Arguments from outrage—something makes me angry so it must be wrong and I do not have to propose an argument but merely assert outrage.
3. Arguments to ridicule—something strikes me as silly and so it must be wrong and I do not have to propose an argument but merely poke fun of it.
4. Arguments from personal incredulity—I find it hard to believe something or, simply do not believe it, and so it must be wrong and I do not have to propose an argument but merely assert my lack of belief in it.
5. Arguments from emotion—replacing reasoned discourse with emotionally charged statements that are very exciting and try very, very hard to hide a lack of rebuttal by replacing argument with seeking to cause emotion in the audience.
Let us consider a sample of these and then you can head over to Marcus’ blog and see how he responded:
Here is a sample of the emotional and belligerent grenades:
…fundamentalist diatribe…apologetics are the greased pig…a sea of ignoramuses…your god(s) is a contemptible war monger…sadistic artifice of the deluded…typical in Bronze age cultures…your mythical patriarchal deity…blood lust…mythical patriarchal deities…delusions…manufactured self-loathing of Christians…this preposterously insane concept…absurdities…ethical atrocities…fundamentalists…that's just sick…mythical creator in this bronze age story…distorted superstitious irrationality…It's all a script for a sick 'B' movie…our father who art in heaven blah blah blah…apologetics are so lame as to be embarrassing…This sky fairy of yours…what fearful people do to feel good like a child sucking their thumb, holding on to that security blanket of eternal life…security blanket…tyranny of theocracy…
Beechbum; “the bible is a work that was canonized 1,685 years ago, when it was transliterated, edited, then rewritten into a form markedly different than the book now being discussed…”
Popular talking point indeed yet, fallacious; my essays responding to Bart Ehrman may be instructive on this point.
Beechbum; the Bible “has been completely discredited as a collection of lies, myths and allegories”
This is indicative of Beechbum’s generic, generalized, grandiose, baseless and un-evidenced assertions.
Beechbum; “apologetics that continually start with the conclusion that god(s) exist, then work out the story in reverse.”
The apologetics that continually start with the conclusion that god(s) exist, then work out the story in reverse are the apologetics that continually start with the conclusion that god(s) exist, then work out the story in reverse.
Yet, the apologetics that do not continually start with the conclusion that god(s) exist, then work out the story in reverse do not continually start with the conclusion that god(s) exist, then work out the story in reverse.
The essay On the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the Invisible Pink Unicorns, et al. may be instructive on this point.
Next come a familiar litany of unfounded, unhistorical, un-argued references to slavery, genocide and human sacrifice. Having dealt with these elsewhere I will simply provide the following as resources in responding to these: slavery here and here, genocide here, human sacrifice here and here.Note the point that even in condemning slavery, genocide and human sacrifice not one single argument is offered but mere outrage.
Beechbum references that God “commanded the deaths of all those poor Amalekites.”
It never ceases to amaze me how in their zeal to condemn any and all things Jewish and Christian so many atheists overlook or excuse the utter brutality of Gentile Pagans.
Poor Amalekites? The Amalekites waited until the, still itinerant, Israelites were without water (in the desert) so that they and their livestock were about to die of thirst and then decided that it would be a good time to attack them as “The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim” (see Exodus 17).
What about “poor Israelites”? Indeed, the poor Amalekites thought the following to be a good strategy “When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and cut off all who were lagging behind” (Deuteronomy 25:18). They waited for the most worn out and slow to lag behind and slaughtered them. No wonder that in 1st Samuel 1:2 some translation use “ambush” or “waylaid” referring to lying in wait for and attack, to accost or intercept unexpectedly.
This is even though God had purposefully had the Israelites avoid them “the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwell in the valley; tomorrow turn and move out into the wilderness by the Way of the Red Sea” (Numbers 14:25), still the poor Amalekites sought the Israelites and attacked, “Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who dwelt in that mountain came down and attacked them” (Num 14:45).
Thus, in self defense, “Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites.’”Also, “Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country” (Judges 6:3).
The poor Amalekites also joined Moad and the Ammonites in attacking Israel (Judges 3:12-13).
They also joined the Midianites “and other eastern peoples” against the Israelites (Judges 3:33, 7:12).
This was why “Saul attacked the Amalekites” (1st Samuel 15:7).
Beechbum references “a jealous god(s).”
He does not seem to consider the distinction between being jealous “of” and being jealous “for.” God is never jealous “of” anyone/thing but He is jealous “for” us. He writes “god(s)” due to a misunderstanding of the Trinity, to which we shall get.
Beechbum; “slaves are mentioned in the ten commandments (the tenth one about coveting maidservants or menservants)”
This is another unhistorical and uncontextual as what he apparently hopes that you think of when he say “slave” has nothing to do with being a “maidservant” or “manservant.”
Beechbum; “The bible or god(s) character is an observers opinion”
This seems to be stating that the bible’s, or God’s, character is judged based on an observer’s opinion.
What a fascinating admission of the utter relative nature of his condemnations as they are not absolute but relative to his personal preferences which are premised on his personal preferences.
Beechbum; “Our morality is the result of millions of years of evolution”
Indeed, evolution functions based on survival of the fittest and eating your neighbor—great moral system.
Beechbum; “a bronze age tribe of desert goat herders…typical in Bronze age cultures…bronze age myths…mythical creator in this bronze age story”
Genetic fallacy aka ad hominem; it is no refutation to merely note when a concept came about.
Beechbum; “‘infinite punishment for finite deeds’”
This misses the point that hell is about a person choosing eternal damnation rather than eternal forgiveness (see here and here). They do not choose God and so in choosing sin they choose to keep sin eternally.
In the history of humanity no one has ever argued that a punishment is to last as long as it took to commit a crime. Imagine someone who shot another to death; since it takes less than one second to pull the trigger they will spend less than one second in prison.
Hell is eternal because sin is eternal.
Beechbum; “No one can…no one can….No one should…I can't believe anyone would…”
This is part of the Beechbum’s very own dogmatheistic authoritarian dictates; his very own thou shall not and thou shall. The “I can't believe anyone would” is an arguments from personal incredulity; truth is not based on what Beechbum can or cannot believe.
Beechbum; “The genius of our Founding Fathers…”
Indeed, the “The genius of our Founding Fathers in this regard was the realization that” they must declare our independence, via the Declaration of Independence, not upon human authority but upon that of “our creator…nature’s God” who gave us rights which then the government protects.
Beechbum; “the crucifixion narrative - never happened and that's the good news.”
No evidence is provided for this positive affirmation of the crucifixion’s non-occurrence; it is a merely argument from dogmatheistic authority.
Beechbum; “The trinity is a load of irrationality…god was himself and JC and the holy spirit, monotheism if one closes one eye and the brain when looking into the apologetics. Do you feel stupid yet?”
This is a great example of Beechbum’s modis operandi as he combines an argument from personal incredulity with a lack of knowledge of the Bible’s concepts, contents and contexts and an argument to ridicule.
Again, something may strike us as absurd but also be true such as that light behaves as both a particle and a wave—as Prof. Richard Lewontin wrote:
What seems absurd depends on one's prejudice. Carl Sagan accepts, as I do, the duality of light, which is at the same time wave and particle, but he thinks that the consubstantiality of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost puts the mystery of the Holy Trinity "in deep trouble." Two's company, but three's a crowd.
For an exposition of the Bible’s elucidation of the Trinity see the parsed essay that began with God’s Nature and Trinitarian Doctrine and ended with List of Relevant Biblical Citations.
Note that philosophy and science quite logically lead to the conclusion that the universe has a creator and even implies some of the creator’s characteristic—as elucidated in On the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the Invisible Pink Unicorns, et al.
We may logically conclude that this creator existed beyond/outside of time, space and matter and is thus timeless/eternal, spaceless/not limited by spatial dimensions/not restricted by locality and immaterial/non-physical/without extension in space/spirit.
Now, attempt to ascertain whether a description of this creator as one being yet, three persons, or one what yet, three whos, is sensical or nonsensical. You will readily discern that we simply have no way of conceptualizing what it is like to exist beyond/outside of time, space and matter and that thus.
The Trinity may not be provable merely by observations of nature yet, it is no refutation to charge the doctrine with irrationality; it is not tri-theism, not a triad, not a tripartite, it does not assert that 1+1+1=3 or any such thing. It constructs the doctrine of the Trinity where it may very well exist; beyond that which we experience directly: time, space and matter.
Beechbum; “This god character is, without a doubt, extremely evil”
Another unfounded argument from outrage as he never even gets around to defining “evil.”
Beechbum; “those perpetrating the most heinous crimes against humanity, have done so using the instruments of religious inculcation…”
This is a very, very, very popular well-within-the-box-atheist-group-think-talking-point whose discrediting is long overdue. It has, in fact, been discredited yet for personages such as Beechbum facts cannot win out over a good polemic.
Consider that the “Encyclopedia of Wars” (New York: Facts on File, 2005) was compiled by nine history professors who specifically conducted research for the text for a decade in order to chronicle 1,763 wars. The survey of wars covers a time span from 8000 BC to 2003 AD. From over 10,000 years of war 123, which is 6.98 percent, are considered to have been religious wars.
Beechbum; “smarting off to ones parents is a capital crime in the ten commandments, punishable by death”
Herewith Beechbum joins The Sam Harris-Cliff Walker-Richard Dawkins School of Biblical Illiteracy.
It is fascinating to note that when Richard Dawkins mentioned this, he referred to “disobedient children.”
When Sam Harris mentioned it he referred to children who “talk back to us.”
Cliff Walker states “Execute stubborn kids” and manipulates the text via an ellipses points filled conveniently selective quotation.
Considering the immediate and greater context we note that the Bible refers to stubborn, rebellious, disobedient, gluttonous, drunkards who “smiteth” and curse their parents and have already been chastened (Exodus 21:15, Leviticus 20:9 and Deuteronomy 21:18).
Thus, we are not dealing with little Johnny who refuses to put his toys away or says, “No!” to mommy and daddy. Rather, the references are not to a little child but to someone who is stubborn in their rebellious, disobedience and is violently drunk to the point that they beat up their very own parents, lives off of their hard work in a gluttonous manner, then curses them, and has already been chastened. Also, in order to carry out a stoning there had to be at least two eyewitnesses.
Beechbum; “Christians…don't even know that they are using religion in place of actually thinking”
Did you get that? He doeth bequeath that the world’s 2.1 BILLION Christians (and that does not count those who lived in the past 2,000 years) are not thinking personages. The generalized, generic and malicious nature of the statement discredits itself.
Beechbum; “brain washing, inculcating, and indoctrinating children”
Another very, very, very popular well-within-the-box-atheist-group-think-talking-point which has been responded to and discredited in various ways here.
Beechbum; “Christianity has never given humanity anything substantive, science has progressed in spite of religion which is only the organization of primitive superstitions into a force for totalitarianism”
Obviously, another generalized, generic and malicious statement that is devoid of evidence. Also, a good example of an atheist who appears to think that referencing “science” makes some sort of point for atheism and against Christianity.
The fields and methods of science were established by theists—mostly Jews and Christians—who premised their conception of science upon their theism: God created a rational creation which humans may discern, explore and understand.
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