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Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Dictionary of DisComfort

Ray likes to play war of the words in his evangelism. It's obviously a successful strategy of misdirection as I see people parrot his arbitrary definitions and liberal uses of words in their comments. Case-in-point, in response to my providing context to a Hawking quote Ray mined, a commenter made the following comment to mine:
So Hawking is still leaving it open that either there is a self contained universe or a Creator, thanks for the added quote. This just shows that Hawking is agnostic(ignorant) to just how the universe began. All Ray is trying to show you is that some of the most brilliant men won't settle on speculative claims of the origin of the universe. You beleive [sic] your scientists, I beleive [sic] Gods word. So yes God did it.
To the point on Hawking, the reader obviously does not know what a rhetorical question is or a figure of speech. This reader is guilty of quote mining in his own mind. He scanned through the paragraphs of context I put and honed in on the concluding statement:
But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator? -- Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time pg 141
He ignores the entire chapter wherein Hawking argues and demonstrates the self-containment nature of the universe. He concludes with a sentiment by saying that if the universe really is self-contained, then there's no role for a Creator. This would be the same if you were to give me a recipe for Rock Soup. The basics of it is that you cook an entire soup with a rock sitting next to the pot. I could write a response to you, detailing all the ingredients and how they contribute to it, so as to show how there's no need for the rock. I might conclude such a response with: "If all of these ingredients individually contribute to the taste of the soup and the rock never touches it (so as not to add any of its own taste to the soup), it would gain nothing from the rock. What place, then, for a rock?" It would be false to conclude that I am thus arguing that either the soup's taste is defined by its ingredients or the rock gives it it's taste, simply because I have phrased my conclusion in the form of a question.

But I have digressed again from the point of this post. The point refers to the comment's next sentence:
This just shows that Hawking is agnostic(ignorant) to just how the universe began. (emphasis added)
Atheists are often called arrogant. This statement reminds me of that pageant queen who challenged Hawking to a debate on black holes. Blacks holes and the big bang are Hawking's area of expertise, and you have the arrogance to say that he is ignorant?

I can't fault the commenter too much, though, as he is using Ray's terminology of agnostic = ignorant (and Hawking may be agnostic about the origin). As such the point of this post is to outline some of these terms he liberally redefines:

Ray on Agnosticism and Ignorance

Ray attempts to redefine agnostic to mean ignorant. Why does he do this? To make an ad hominem attack (and logical fallacy). Sadly, it seems many are taken in by the fact that both concern knowledge, so they fail to look them up for themselves. It is also redefining agnostic so as to make it as an insult, as has been tried to be done to the word atheism. Let's define these terms:
Ignorant (adj):
1.lacking in knowledge or training; unlearned: an ignorant man.
2.lacking knowledge or information as to a particular subject or fact: ignorant of quantum physics.
3.uninformed; unaware.

Agnosticism (n): the philosophical view that the truth value of certain claims is unknown or, depending on the form of agnosticism, inherently unknowable.
Ignorance is a statement about a person's lack of information/education on a certain subject. Agnosticism is a view that the truth of a particular claim is unknown or even unknowable.

For example, Ray Comfort is ignorant about Hawking's religious views of a Creator-God when Ray (incorrectly) believes that Hawking believes in a Creator-God instead of (correctly) believing that Hawking views the universe as entire self-contained and with no role of a Creator-God. Ray is ignorant on this because he lacks information and education on Hawking's views. Ray would be agnostic if he were to claim that knowledge about Hawking's religious views is unknown or unknowable.

Ray on Liars

Ray's typical spiel when he's on his soapbox is:
Ray: Have you ever told a lie?
Person: Yes.
Ray: What do you call someone who tells lies?
Person: A liar.
This is very effective as the logical fallacy he commits is very subtle. Here is the structure of it:
Premise A: If you tell lies, you are a liar.
Premise B: You have told a lie sometime in your life.
Conclusion: Therefore, you are a liar.
In this, he has changed the definition of liar from "one who tells lies" to "one who has ever told a lie." Which one is the correct definition?
Liar (n): a person who tells lies.
One could easily flip this fallacy on him with the following:
Premise A: If you tell truths, you are truthful (or a truth-teller).
Premise B: You have told the truth sometime in your life.
Conclusion: Therefore, you are truthful (or a truth-teller).
The reason the above is a fallacy is because the person could have never told the truth ever in his life, except once. As such, just because he has told the truth once does not mean he is truthful. Similarly, Ray's is fallacious because the person could have never told a lie in his life, except once. As such, just because he has told a lie once does not mean he is a liar.

Ray on Thieves

This is exactly the exact same of the above, except stealing instead of lying.

Ray on Adultery

This is one of the more humorous ones, as it's ridiculous ("causing or worthy of ridicule or derision"). His spiel goes:
Ray: Have you ever lusted after a woman?
Person: Yes.
Ray: Jesus said in that whoever has lusted after a woman has committed adultery. Therefore, you are an adulterer.
Jesus redefined adultery in Matthew 5:28 with:
But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
There are two things wrong with this. Firstly, the definition Jesus gives is wrong, adultery is not the same as lust.
Adultery (n): voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her lawful spouse.

Lust (n): intense sexual desire or appetite.
He has just redefined adultery to arbitrarily mean lust. Secondly, this is fallacious as the structure of the argument is:
Premise A: Adultery is the lusting after a woman.
Premise B: You have lusted after a woman.
Conclusion: You are an adulterer.
Ray has committed two logical fallacies (besides the false premise):
1. Bare assertion fallacy: premise in an argument is assumed to be true purely because it says that it is true.
2. Appeal to authority: where an assertion is deemed true because of the position or authority of the person asserting it
I could just as arbitrarily redefine adultery and make a conclusion:
Premise A: Adultery is the posting a blog entry which mentions a woman.
Premise B: Ray has posted a blog entry which mentions a woman.
Conclusion: Ray is an adulterer.
Ray on Atheism

Ray redefines atheism to mean "knowing that there is no god or gods." This is so he can do the following spiel:
To be an "atheist" one needs absolute knowledge. The atheist with integrity must admit: "With the limited knowledge I have at present, I believe that there is no God, but I really don't know ." So the professing atheist is actually an "agnostic"--one who doesn't know.
I will ignore the problems with his above "logic" and instead cut straight to the point and give the proper definition of atheism. I was considering an article called Militant Atheism from Atheist Revolution for inclusion in my top ten list as it does a straightforward job about what atheism is and what atheists believe. I will just copy/paste what vjack writes about atheism:
Atheism comes from the Greek "a - theos," and since the "a" prefix means "without" or "the absence of," we must first make sure we understand theism. Theism refers to the belief that some sort of god or gods exist. A theist is one who accepts the theistic claim (i.e., some sort of god or gods exist). An atheist is one who does not accept the theistic claim. That is, atheism means "without theism" and refers to the absence or lack of theistic belief.
I'll save burden of proof for a later post when Ray posts on it again. But as you can see, Ray has distorted and redefined atheism not only to set up an ad hominem attack, but also to create a straw man argument. Let me give you the following quiz:
Question: Regardless of whether you know or don't know, regardless of whether you have any evidence or no evdience at all... Do you believe that a god or god exists.

Possible Answers:
1. Yes
2. No
3. I am unsure
If you answered anything other than "Yes," then you are, by definition, an atheist. Atheism is a statement of belief; it is not a statement of knowledge.

I'll go into this more when Ray makes a post about atheists not existing.

1 comment:

Adrian Hayter said...

A truly excellent blog post. This site will be added to my feedreader for sure. Thanks for linking to 2 of my articles in another post :)


P.S. Just reading your comment rules, am I allowed to say "Linux pwns Windows" and get away with it? I do hope so.