Sunday, October 25, 2009

When Strikes the Obfuscation!

I should probably rename my blog to Comics, Beer, Shakespeare, and Blasphemy. What can I say? I didn't realize when I set it up that I'd still have this much to say about religion by this point. I guess it's just the topic that keeps on giving.

Now I've spent some time poking fun at the likes of dimwits like Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort. I've even gone after Intelligent Design and its supporters like Ben Stein. Just recently, I did a somewhat veiled spoof on the circular reasoning of apologists like Lee Strobel. That's easy stuff though. It's like bragging that you can reach a higher shelf than a two year old. How about trying somebody who's not quite so obviously intellectually bankrupt?

I came across this article on the Huffington Post. It's two articles, actually. The first one is by Christopher Hitchens, and the second one is by Pastor Douglas Wilson. Apparently, the two of them are in a movie together called Collision where they debate the issue of God. I figured that if somebody like Hitchens respects the guy enough to debate him, then maybe I should give a shot at Wilson's arguments as well. I'm not going to copy and paste the entire article here, but I encourage you to read the whole thing for yourself. You'll have to scroll past Hitchens' article (which I haven't read yet in fear of me just parroting his points if I read it first) to find it.

After reading Wilson's article, a good part of me worried that maybe I'm just not smart enough to understand what he's saying. After all, I often feel like the problem I get into when I debate people sometimes is simply that they're not even able to grasp what my argument is well enough in order to even properly debate it. I will concede that this is a possibility here. However, I am a reasonably intelligent person, and from what I can tell, the man is simply engaging in obfuscation (the concealment of intended meaning in communication, making communication confusing, intentionally ambiguous, and more difficult to interpret - definition provided by Wikipedia). Okay, I'm done. No, wait, I should probably make a case for that assertion.

First of all, have a look through Wilson's entire article. Does he, anywhere, make a case for the existence of a god (or more specifically - HIS God)? Of course he doesn't. His whole point is to tear down the atheists. He can't defend his own position, so instead he has to tear down. But this is the thing that theists never seem to understand - we atheists don't have to prove anything. All we're saying is that the theistic point of view doesn't make sense. We're not the one asserting a claim. Just as you don't have to disprove the Flying Spaghetti Monster, we don't have to disprove your faith.

Anyway, he makes a lot of the same illogical conclusions that you see from the dim bulbs like Ray Comfort, only he's a lot better at disguising it amidst intellectual-sounding discourse. Wilson states that according to the atheist worldview:
Time and chance acting on matter have brought about, in equally aimless fashion, the 1927 New York Yankees, yesterday's foam on a New Jersey beach, Princess Di, the arrangement of pebbles on the back side of the moon, the music of John Cage, the Fourth Crusade, and the current gaggle representing us all in Congress. The foam on the Jersey beach and the arrangement of pebbles on the back side of the moon? Yes. Everything else? No. "Chance" did not create the Fourth Crusade (to pick just one of those examples). The decisions on the part of human beings led to that. The votes that people cast led to the "current gaggle" representing us all in Congress.

Sure, theists like to say that according to atheistic evolution, the fact that we're all here is a product of time and chance, so things like what Wilson listed are all ultimately a result of that. Once again though, that's a misunderstanding of what evolution is. Read up on the subject, and you'll find out that evolution is anything BUT chance. The only thing that's random are the mutations. The question of which mutations survive and get passed on though? That's about as un-random as a thing can be.

When he starts to wrap it all up, he gives us the standard Jesus 101 and claims that he's just sharing it to show that:
important point that such a set of convictions makes it possible for us to believe that reason can be trusted, that goodness does not change with the evolutionary times, and that beauty is grounded in the very heart of God.
I always love this argument. So many Christians really seem to be under this delusion that what was considered good and moral amongst Christians has remained ever consistent for the past two thousand years. Are some things the same? Sure. What about that whole polygamy thing? Slavery? Having women shut the hell up and be subservient? Give me a break. Christianity is just as much of a product of a changing environment as anything else is. Once you realize that, it becomes pretty hard to accept.

He then of course ends with a complete strawman, which only makes sense if you read the entire article.

Do I think that Wilson is a moron ala Kirk Cameron? No, I don't. I believe that the man is actually pretty smart. He's at least as smart as me - maybe even smarter. I don't think that I could write the way he does. But here's the thing - it takes a smart person to obfuscate. He's convinced himself of something, and he's too smart to try and use the tired-old arguments that get blown apart like the proverbial fish in the barrel. He knows how to take them and make them sound like something that hasn't been heard before, but the bottom line is that it's the same old crap. Good show of making it sound smart though, Wilson.

Okay, I'm off to read the article by Christopher Hitchens. I can't imagine that he's saying anything new either though.

This "Stan Lee Challenge" is a tribute to The Fantastic Four#55: "When Strikes the Silver Surfer!"

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