Atheists are Dogmatic too! Sound Familiar?

Atheists are Dogmatic too! Sound Familiar?

Christian apologists often fall into the same category of poor researchers and dishonest rhetoricians. Today as I was reading Richard Carrier’s Not the Impossible Faith, which is a direct rebuttal to J.P. Holding’s book The Impossible Faith, I came across this excellent quote in which Carrier describes the shady tactics of apologists like Holding.

The fact that he didn’t do so simple a check as this proves that Holding is just mining his sources and doing the absolute minimum to prove his case instead of honestly and seriously studying the sources and making sure his claims are correct. Holding doesn’t read Josephus. He just jumps to single sentences that help his case—not even caring if there are any other sentences that hurt his case. And while I knew the facts, and then took the trouble of tracking down the exact references, Holding is completely ignorant of the facts, and therefore incapable of tracking them down. Instead, he just uses what he wants and ignores the rest—the truth be damned. In fact, the truth is apparently so irrelevant to J.P. Holding that when he can’t find facts to help him, he just makes them up, as we’ve already seen above…. But J.P. Holding “can’t” be wrong, so he gets to make up any “facts” he wants to secure his case…. Instead of admitting that I refuted his claim, he pretends he made a completely different claim. (pp. 72-73)

I share this quote with you, because in my experience such tactics are used time and time again by religious apologists to the point where it sounds like they all went to the same school of thought and rehearsed the exact same lines and agreed on the same strategies only to fail and, instead of correct themselves and revise their strategy, the next apologist repeats the exact same routine ad nauseam. Why is this? Because as Carrier correctly observes, the apologist is doing the bare minimum required to prove his case.

Now, let’s ask ourselves, is this any way to assert the truth of a claim? Suppose NASA commissioned a new rocket prototype, then when the time comes to unveil the newly designed interstellar flight vehicle instead of a proper blueprint, NASA officials are given a rough drawing in crayon of a pretty red rocket instead. Upon asking about whether or not the children’s diagram was a joke only to be reassured that this was the real deal, don't you think this would cause any NASA technician to raise an eyebrow? Wouldn’t you agree that this minimum attempt to offer something concrete not only makes us lose credibility in the person presenting the crude drawing, who promised us spaceships, but gave us doodles which even a three year old could accomplish, not only have they lied about what they knew but they failed to fulfill their promise of handing over a real rocket, truthfully now, don't you think such deficiency shows an incompetence and insincerity of stunning magnitude?

It’s strange to me that Christian apologists are so shocked that when they offer their counter arguments to atheism only to find atheists becoming even more skeptical and weary of the theist claim. The religionist will of course say that this is “atheist dogma” (as if there was such a thing), but what they have failed to see is that this isn’t any form of dogma, this is the proper response to the lack luster arguments they provide—so utterly unconvincing—as to actually cause the skeptic to become even more skeptical!

So the next time an apologists throws around the term “atheist dogma” just point out the truth of the matter. However, seeing as how they probably won’t accept anything which would require anything above the bare minimum effort, simply draw them a picture of God, preferably in crayon, and ask them if they’ve seen this deity lately. If not, no skin off the atheist’s back. If, however, they answer in the affirmative, remind them that you’re not referring to the likeness but to the actual person, and if they insist that they "know" he is real then ask them to show you some convincing evidence. If they fail this task—then your skepticism is justified and their beliefs are proved completely baseless. If, on the other hand, they inform you that the drawing looked more accurate before you put anything down on paper, just politely smile and walk away. Let them mull over what just went down.



  1. This is excellent..... This is some very good insight into the religious mind. So true. I have very little first hand experience with these types of folks. I can handle them not knowing, or not being exposed to pertinent types of information. What I cannot handle is the refusal to learn. They need to be held accountable for their lack of efforts in learning.

  2. "I share this quote with you, because in my experience such tactics are used time and time again by religious apologists to the point where it sounds like they all went to the same school of thought and rehearsed the exact same lines and agreed on the same strategies only to fail and, instead of correct themselves and revise their strategy, the next apologist repeats the exact same routine ad nauseam."

    It's worse than that, because generally the apologists don't realize they are failing. In fact, they usually think they are making devastating arguments.

  3. I'm glad you liked it.

    I just see this sort of thing all the time.

    It seems that most apologists I deal with just want to profess the "truth" of their convictions, and confuse this feeling, this devotional tract, with literal facts which equate the real truth.

    When I wrote Christian apologetics (when I was still a Christian) it was to rationalize my faith. But today's Christians don't even try to do this. They just are blinkered, truly, in their unthinking capacity--but as Voltaire once espoused:

    "It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere."

  4. Great quotes... Very true. I guess the part that I cannot wrap my head around is the lack of learning. Confounds me. If someone presents you with an argument that is airtight, would you not embrace it?

  5. Tink said.."What I cannot handle is the refusal to learn"

    I understand what you say , but i sometimes wonder if its always "so much" about a refusal to learn.I mean can you imagine Jim Jones followers intentional refusal to learn when it meant heading directly towards their death.Or some mother intentionally refusing to considder the harm they put their children under when not allowing use of blood transfusion.

    In my opinion i think its must also have lots to do with a type of confusion like Tristan suggests.And i agree with GCT many times these folks think they make devastating arguments.I bet many Jim Jones followers felt Jim did.I see on a site online, ex cult member faithful folk from the same cult i was born into showing they seem to feel they make devastating arguments directed towards other folks still caught up in the cult.Yet im left thinking how many of their arguments could also still be applied to their own faith they now hold outside the cult.I "chose" to leave the site because i found it easier than biting my tounge and saying nothing,and i really dont enjoy offending folks.It was like standing in the middle of a bitchy fight while folks slapped each other to try to prove who was real Christian and who wasnt.All it seemed likely to acheive, was reinforce the persecution and seige mentality of the cult.

    To me it seemed more profitable to show i wasnt interested anymore in being involved in personally attacking or picking on their particular cult.Now i make sure i argue from a point that trys to show how the real danger is devotion on charisma and faith.That what can also be dangerous for non believers too, such as voting for a useless failed politician simply because you happen to feel comfortable and drawn to them.

    Atheists could be accused of being dogmatic ,and maybe some real extra bad non believers really might have some extra special reason to wish to believe God doesnt exist.But i dont see this as the norm,non believers just dont see the evidence of God.After all it would take a pretty bloody stupid non believer to think simply denying the existence of God ,might be helpful if they see evidence that God might actually exist.

    This idea would suggest maybe non believers try to use the ostrich head in the sand method, expecting this might somehow save them from any judgement.I dont see how it stands up to logic or common sense.

    Imagine thinking somebody like Dawkins or Hitchens etc might be betting on maybe the ostrich approach might be helpful.Especially after all the threatning storys theist tell of atheist promoters supposedly burning extra badly in hell.

    Most ex faithful folks only "dare" deconvert after much deep thought.

    Tristan like Tink and GCT , i enjoyed this post of yours.


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