Thursday, January 13, 2011

Responses to Atheistic Critiques of “Reason for the Season”—Part I

On Jan. 1, 2011, an article that I wrote titled “Reason for the season: Faith not a losing proposition” that published in the opinion section of the Salt Lake Tribune. More than two dozen atheist bloggers got onto the Trib’s site and, what seemed to be oftentimes done in an angrily manner, threw out barbs against the article and, ultimately, me.

I still think the funniest comment came on 1/9/11 when Dr. Gregory A. Clark compared me with a rapist/kidnapper in his rejoinder article printed by the Trib. He wrote: “Eric R. Johnson and Brian David Mitchell are among those who claim that they have personally experienced the Almighty.” (Feel free to look at the previous post to see links to the articles as well as my response to Dr. Clark.)

Let me list some of my favorite response—the ones that, when I read them, caused me to sometimes laugh out loud—and make any of my comments in boldface with parentheses. These posts from 14 different bloggers are listed in the order they were posted and will continue with Part 2 next week.

Magnaboy: “I think comparing the universe or a living being with a ball-point pen is pretty stupid.

Lazergirl4: “Oh, oh! Everything that BEGINS to exist - oh, well now it is so much more clear. Yes, not everything that exists is designed but only those things except God that begins to exist needs the hand of god outside time and space and matter where Kolob is circling the toilet is where god is and not us and so yeah, the big bang seems so dumb now. God, I wish you could have explained that to us all sooner cuz then it would have been you know, a done deal.(Okham’s Razor says go for the simpler choice; choosing an outside source rather than determining if the universe came from nothing or eternal manner seems to be the simpler choice.)

Pete: “You were up at 2am defending your patronizing, self-righteous, psudeo-intellectual (sic) attempt to convince others that your "truths' are indeed true for all?(It was New Year’s Eve, and it was 1 p.m. I happened to look at the Tribune’s site and saw that a dozen comments had already been made on the article that was being printed for that day.)

Pete:  Eric said, "Produce evidence that makes us think, and then we'll determine if your view is sound. " You are so full of yourself. "Makes us think..." No, makes YOU think. 

Oxygenisotope: “Your appeal to thermodynamics is absurd. This comes from a believing BYU scientist.

Melospiza: Eric said, "Howard, my response in this piece was directed at the gentleman who's piece was published earlier in the week." I generally discount spelling and grammar flames and readily forgive obvious keystroke errors as the product of late night fumble-thumbs. But using the contraction "who's" for the pronoun "whose" doesn't seem like the kind of error that can be attributed to simple haste and suggests a general confusion. This came from an experienced English and journalism teacher? (Oh boy, the English professor—yes, it was I—made a spelling mistake on a blog site. It wasn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last. I guess anything the professor says in his article therefore must be invalidated.)

Howard: “This is a pitiful letter for a college humanities instructor. Not believing in theistic mythology (i.e. the Hebrew Bible, Christian Testament, Muslim Koran, Book of Mormon, Hindu Vedas, Buddhist Darmapada, Zoroastrian Avesta, etc.) does not make one an Atheist: it makes one honest.”

Dave_slc: “Why is it Mr. Johnson, that anything we don't understand (genesis of the first atoms, infinite nature of time, etc) must be attributed to some magical, mystical being?  I will be an atheist (not agnostic) until god him/her/it-self comes down in front of me and proves his/her/its existence because evidence shows that things we once thought were acts of gods (solar orbit, rain, tidal activity, etc) in fact were not gods at all but followed the laws of physics quite nicely. Do I know how the universe began? Nope...but that only means I don't yet understand it; not that it is the result of magic powers.(Ahh, so you have “faith” as well. The appeal to having God come down and show Himself to Dave is silly, much like me asserting that “I won’t believe in President Obama unless he comes to Sandy and has breakfast with me.” Just because God doesn’t cave into your wishes doesn’t mean He doesn’t exist.)

Mrgus4: “Hopefully, this teacher does not coach debate.

Shelama: “Even if one decides to believe in a god, what compels the nature and character of that god? There is no evidence that She's not a big-breasted lesbian manic-depressive with multiple personality disorder. History is totally consistent with such a god. What presupposes an "infinite god," a perfect god, a loving god, a just god, a good god, a competent god, or one who even gives a god damn?(Wow, which Bible are you reading?)

Booner1781: “Mr. Johnson, you may be able to construct a sentence without grammatical errors, but apparently you have little knowledge or understanding of cosmology.... or design. Besides, scientists do not claim the universe "began from nothing." They freely admit that they simply don't know what started it all off.  (That’s not what Stephen Hawking says.)

Theboojume: “Yet Mr. Johnson procedes (sic) to slay so many straw men in his article that I thought my hayfever might start to act up from all the dust. His ignorance of cosmology and biology are disturbing in someone who considers himself educated.

Kmaud: “Personally, I feel that I am living my life such that if I am wrong, I should probably be okay - according to most religious systems, my sins are relatively few....I also happen to know quite a few "religious" people who, if what they claim to believe is true, happen to be in a lot more trouble than I am.
(To which religious system could Kmaud be referring? Let’s see: Islam (nope, to hellfire with you!); Mormonism (the celestial kingdom is off limits to you); Christianity (eternal separation from God); atheism (this is your faith, which says to the dust you return after death). Shoot, I just listed the religions of more than half of all people on earth, and in each one, you lose—Big Time. What makes you think you’re going to be OK in the end if any of these systems are correct?)

Kmaud: “Your article is shows a lack of understanding and education and therefore cannot be treated seriously.(So because it is flawed, there must be no need to refute the arguments?)

Shelema: “Personally, I think She prefers atheist secular humanists and reserves for them the greatest possible gift: an eternity of exploring the cosmos (even meeting with Caiaphas, Pilate and poor Jesus), with no bloody religion or singing Her praises. You, on he (sic) other hand, get to sing songs while you forever drink and wash yourself in blood. Enjoy.

Scratchphd: “As usual people like the good Mr. Johnson, seem to want to prove the impossible. I am always amused by this.(A straw man. My article clearly stated that I cannot “prove” God, but apparently this blogger didn’t read it or pay any attention to it. This was common with this particular writer.)

Cosmopolitan: “If religion is all that keeps you from being a serial killer, kindly stick with your religion. But philosophy is clearly out of bounds for you.

To be continued next week in Part 2


Anonymous Keev said...

I'm seeing a definite pattern of "volitional disbelief" here. I'm not seeing anything that "proves" the negative assertion that this irreducibly complex and amazingly well ordered cosmos we live in created itself, ordered itself, then spontaneously "created" (there's that word again) life that would be in itself so complex and self-aware that it could discover and ponder these things. Oh, please check my spelling and grammar as that seems to be the most important factor in determining the validity of an assertion.

9:51 AM  

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