Saturday, September 27, 2008

Derbyshire's Dismissal Part I

John Derbyshire apparently thinks he has made compelling arguments against Christianity and religion in general. Surprise, he hasn’t. I now understand why I never became a regular reader.

In a post on “The Corner” at National Review Online, he first quotes Michael Novak: "It is not credible for atheists to say believers don’t care about evidence."

He then responds: Yes it is, Michael. The Christian religion is founded on the belief that an invisible spirit impregnated a human woman. Not only is there no evidence for that, it is hard to see how there could be any! If I tackle a believer on this point, he invariably says: "You just gotta believe" — i.e. not care about the absence of evidence, or the absence of even the possibility of evidence. QED. Of course, if Michael has a different answer, I'd be glad to hear it.

First, this is a strawman argument; Derbyshire characterizes Christianity in a fashion that sounds asinine, then charges in for an attack on that wobbling dummy. This is an illegitimate form of argumentation, because it can be utilized in making everything known to Man seem absurd. Just once, I’d enjoy seeing an atheist pit his dogmatic disbelief against a strong Christian apologetic, rather than a moronic caricature. And if wishes were horses. . .

Derbyshire also reveals that he’s the type of atheist who believes in one brand of evidence: the scientific variety. All other forms need not apply; not only are they not convincing—they aren’t evidence at all. Documentary evidence? Pshaw. Personal testimony? Flush. It’s funny that atheists cling to “scientific” evidence, anyway, since such evidence no more supports their position than that of Christians.

And what in the world is wrong with having faith? Every human being on planet Earth—and even the handful who reside offworld—exercises faith in his acceptance of certain aspects of reality. Furthermore, if you’re an evolutionist, you’re faith’s bosom buddy. This is the unspoken demand that atheists make when mocking our faith: “You mustn’t have faith in God; everything else is fair game.” If you have faith that mommy loves you, that’s OK. If you have faith that Attila the Hun isn’t the figment of an ancient troubadour’s imagination, that’s acceptable, too. If you have faith that we’re more than just animated pixels in a cosmic video game, that’s just peachy. And if you have faith that you evolved from an apelike ancestor, that life arose from inanimate matter, you’re a well-adjusted, sensible individual.

However, the man who exercises faith in God is a delusional, easily-manipulated idiot.

The humorous part is that many atheists think this is an intellectually consistent, reasonable outlook.

Christianity encompasses far more than "an invisible spirit impregnated a human woman," and Derbyshire know this, if he's ever taken the time to evaluate what Christians believe.

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