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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Quentin Smith - The Gratuitous Fallacy, part I of V

Please note that this post has been moved to True Freethinker’s Atheism category.


  1. So your argument is... that because evil has no defined meaning people who don't assume theism can't us it? You do realize theism only fixes the problem if you have God declare that certain things are evil... in which case it is as arbitrary as a person doing it!

    Evil is simple. It is acting in an immoral way. Since morality is based upon people's needs and desires, there is no hard and fast rule for what is evil

    In case you are curious you are making the "atheists are stealing from Christianity".

    ""Atheists often argue about morality, against evil, to the likes of “I don’t like…” or “I don’t agree with…” or “That’s just wrong” or “I have a visceral dislike of…” Of course, these are mere expressions of personal opinions which carry neither weight nor consequences when they are violated.""

    You do realize that morality is almost entirely about personal opinions? It isn't evil to torture some one who enjoys pain if they ask you to. It isn't evil to toss some on in a pool- unless they can't swim.

    "Secondly, it was obvious that since there is evil in the world, no all-powerful and perfectly good being could have created the world. This is a presumption whereby the atheist claims to have omniscience. They are claiming to know the reason or lack of reason for any and every evil event and claim to know that it was gratuitous."

    Obviously you haven't heard of the wonder known as "logical argument" or "proof". Here is how it works- if the assumptions of an argument are true AND the argument follows the rules of logic, THAN the conclusion is true. Knowledge about the universe is completely irrelevant except how it gives the assumptions.

  2. In case you are curious, you have to actually show that Christianity has a valid definition of evil that atheists use before you can lambast them for stealing it. Given that atheists think many things theists value are worthless, you probably won't be able to do it.

  3. Samuel Skinner;
    My friend, it is good to hear (or read) from you again.

    I most certainly do not lambast atheists for “stealing” Christian morality—I actually applaud them for doing so. This is even though on absolute materialism if we commit immorality and get away with it, we simply got away with it and there are not ultimate consequences. Hitler committed suicide when he chose to do so and simply got away with murdering millions upon millions of people.

    No, my argument is not that “because evil has no defined meaning people who don't assume theism can't us[e] it.” Rather, the point of my post (and the other parts to come) is the claim that evil is gratuitous when we do not know that this is the case.

    Is something evil because an atheist says so or does an atheist say so because something is evil?

    I understand that atheists think that they can explain everything—from the universe, to life, to morals—by claiming that it just is—argumentum ad brute factum.

    To define “evil” as “acting in an immoral way” is tantamount to stating that evil is evil or that immorality is immoral.

    I disagree with you that “It isn't evil to torture some one who enjoys pain if they ask you to” since such a person is obviously deeply disturbed and requires assistance and not torture.

    You misunderstand not only my point about the atheist claiming to have omniscience but also misunderstand logic. You could have an airtight, perfectly accurate syllogism and still end up with something that is not true (or not necessarily true).

    For example, over at Atheism is Dead I made the point that Prof. PZ Myers teaches atheism in his science classroom based upon Prof. Myer’s own statement that atheism and science are “inseparable.”

    The syllogism goes thusly:
    1) PZ Myers believes that that atheism and science are “inseparable.”
    2) PZ Myers teaches science.
    3) Therefore, PZ Myers teaches atheism.

    The syllogism is sound but do I know that he teaches atheism in his science classroom? I have no idea.



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