Sunday, July 17, 2011

FacePalm of the Day #109 - The Atheist Literature Club: Religitics - Aftermeeting Discussion 2 - No, mine!

funny gifsJohn Loftus posted the following on his blog: Lots of facepalms here.
Here is a debate between Valerie Dennett an atheist, Zakir Deedat a Muslim, Greg Turkel a Christian, Hugh Talmage a Mormon, and Moritz Duam a Jew. This is what I'm talking about!

Here is what he linked to. He thinks that it shows exactly what the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF) would look like if it were put into practice in a real discussion between the major religions of America. It is presented as if it is a real transcript of real people talking about religion. There are a couple of things that make me skeptical. 1. No one makes me believe that anyone of the participates know what themselves or the other participates believe beyond  straw men and what anyone can glean from mainstream media. 2. No one offers any serious apologetic for why they believe what they believe beyond ridiculing others. 3. The names of the participants could possibly be made up. I've annotated the post exaplaining where it fails to be convincing and the OTF. 

A little while after the meeting, Valerie stepped back into the room. The men were still arguing.

"There is absolutely no truth in the Koran." Turkel was saying. "Only a fool would follow the teachings of Muhammad instead of Jesus."

Anyone who would say this means that they have never read the Qur'an. There is some good in it. Some things that are in it that are true. Unfortunately it is a charge many ignorant Christians make.

"The plain fact is that the bible was corrupted!" Zakir shot at him. "Only the Koran is the real work of God."

Funny, how I've never heard a Muslim disagree with this statement despite the fact that no one can demonstrate it. I can't blame them because the Bible contradicts the Qur'an. Although the Qur'an does not say that the Jewish and Christians scriptures are corrupted  but if the Muslim does not believe that then there is much he or she must answer.

"The Koran got everything wrong about Jesus," Turkel replied.

Well, not everything. Sinless. Born of  a Virgin.  Nope, the Qur'an did not get everything wrong about Jesus. This is one of the reason why I think that this piece is fictitious (doesn't rate the status of  "parable"): a real knowledgeable person would never say something so outlandish.

"How do you know?" Zakir asked him, harshly.

He doesn't Turkel was asked about how he knew the Qur'an says nothing correct about Jesus, Notice how Turkel doesn't answer the question. .

"There are four men who wrote about the life of Jesus," Greg Turkel answered him. "All of them agree with each other about what went on in his life."

I agree but that doesn't answer Zakir's question.

"Nonsense!" Zakir shot. "Each of those men were late and disagreed with each other fantastically. There are swarms of contradictions among them! Only the Gospel of Barnabas is the true depiction of the life of Jesus, where he admits that he is not the messiah!"

What happened to the discussion  of the Qur'an? Zakir is just as bad as Turkel. No proof is offered that the Gospel of Barnabas was not corrupted and that the New Testament was not corrupted.

"Rubbish!" Turkel snapped, pointing a finger at him. "You know darn well that that 'gospel' is even later than Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John!"

Now that's true. 

"That's right, " Hugh Talmage joined. "The New Testament writers are more reliable than Barnabas."

Now that's true.

"Oh, excuse me," Zakir mocked. "And we are also to belief that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri?"

I admit that this is a weakness in Mormon Theology but it doesn't help the conversation

Hugh turned red with rage and was about to respond when Moritz Duam overrode him.

Sure would like to have seen the Mormon respond to that charge, but who ever made up this conversation probably doesn't know what the Mormon Apologetic is. 

"Even though Barnabas is late it doesn't help the gospels." He argued. "For they portray a man who was not the messiah."

Oh, another argument people make who don't know better. And no substantiation  offered whatsoever.

"He WAS the messiah," Greg replied. "He met the standards of the messianic prophecy!"

Agreed, and it's demonstrably true.

"No he didn't!" Moritz yelled. "The messiah is to reveal himself when all on Earth belief in God. That has never happened!"

Sure would like to know where in Tanak that is written. It's just thrown out there and no reference. 

"How do you know such a thing?" Turkel yelled back. "Were YOU there?"

Neither were any of the speakers. Adds nothing to the discussion. 

"Of course not," Moritz said hotly. "But I didn't have to be there to know that the Christians just stole from the Hebrews!"

More inflammatory argument. Anyone bother to pick up a book? All of the first Christians were Hebrews.

"Rubbish!" Turkel responded, pounding the table.

Oh that's a useful come back.

"It's the truth." Moritz countered. "Why else would the bible contain the works of the Hebrews? We all know that the old and new testaments don't match. The Christians simply took a man from history and tried to make him fit the prophecy!"

And the proof is...?

"Both are right and wrong," Hugh Talmage spoke up. "Joseph Smith got down and prayed which church to join, and an angel of the lord told him that none of them have it right. Not that all of them, particularly Christianity, but..."

And the proof is...?

"Oh, be quiet," Zakir shot. "Nobody takes your faith seriously, not even some of the other Mormons. You are essentially on par with the church of scientology."

Well...that's no way to change another man's mind.  Not that proof or evidence would work, but it's always better to try it.

"You've obviously never read the Book of Mormon," Hugh snapped at him. "It would change your life if you had."

I find that most Atheists think that this is the kind of answer is the only one all theists have. Not true.

"No, it would not."

A better answer would be "It didn't." 


"I highly doubt that."

If you haven't tried it, then you haven't applied OTF very well have you. The answers given show that none of the speakers have applied the OTF to any one else's worldview.

All three men answered at the same time. Even Valerie scoffed at the idea. She was resting her chin on her hand, listening to them men argue.

Valerie scoffed for a different reason than the  men. 

"Why?" Hugh asked, turning red.

Duh. Not much of an apologetic. 

"Your ideas are absurd, that's why." Moritz said. "You actually think that ancient Jews sailed to America?"

"Well..." Hugh tried.

Should have let Hugh try to present evidence. 

"Not to mention that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri," Zakir sneered.

"All seem very unlikely," Turkel finished.

To dismiss a man on possibility  is not enough. Where is the discussion? Facts. Evidence. 

"Look, you want to know why I believe," Hugh asked, still red. "You really want to know."

"Not particularly," Mortiz replied.

And that is the problem in discussions like this. No one listens to the other person. 

"It's because I asked for the truth," Hugh asked. "I got down on my knees and I asked God himself if it was true. And he told me, I could feel it in my stomach, his precense as he..."

And that's not a good enough reason to follow anything.

He couldn't finish because Zakir and Moritz guffawed in the middle of his speech. Turkel chuckled softly to himself. A smile came onto Valerie's lips.

Of course most Atheists seem to think that this is the only reasoning theists are capable of.

"He says he felt it in his stomach!" Zakir mocked, wiping his eyes. "He does not think that it was just a case of indigestion?"

Oh, yes. That's destructive. 

"Perhaps it was the indigestion of the angel, Moroni!" Moritz joined.

Right. Helpful

"That is as ridiculous as the claim that Jesus rose," Zakir laughed.

When you make fun one person, you always open yourself up to the same.  Which is it that's ridiculous: the angel's Moroni's indigestion or that the Book of Mormon brings conviction of truth when reading it.

"Now hold on!" Turkel scolded. "That's another bogus claim. If you think Jesus didn't rise then you're as low as Hugh!"

Careful. As a Mormon, Hugh would believe in Jesus' Resurrection.

"Hey!" Talmage cried, outraged.

"How can you believe such nonsense!?" Zakir asked. "The story is so implausible!"

Which story, The Resurrection or Mormon mythology theology?

"Well, how can you explain the fact that Josephus, a secular Jewish historian, confirmed the resurrection?" Turkel asked.

Problem is Josephus didn't, but that doesn't mean the Resurrection did not happen.

"Nonsense!" Moritz countered. "That passage in Josephus was not written by any man of the Jewish faith. He never would have called Jesus the messiah, and he believed a whole different man was the messiah!"

Many knowledgeable scholars would disagree. Why isn't any of their work cited?

"But he mentioned Jesus twice!" Turkel replied.

Yup, but this comeback is poorly constructed. 

"So what?" Moritz asked. "Even if that was true, it wouldn't show that he rose from the dead! Besides, he was talking about a completely different Jesus, which wasn't an uncommon name, you understand."

Now that is not a great comeback.  No way to prove it that Josephus was talking about a different man than the New Testament is about.

"Many secular historians mention Jesus and..."

That's true. 

"Most of their testamonies are discussing what Christians believe!" Zakir snapped. "They are completely irrelevant to your case!"

And the fact that Christians believed in a man from Galillee was God made flesh, and died from their sins freeing them from sin and death is not irrelevant at all in showing who Jesus is.

"Are you insinuating that Jesus did not exist?" Turkel growled.

Which I thought was Turkel's point. 

"Of course not," Moritz said. "There is little history on his existence, though there is some. But there is even less that he was the messiah. Less that he rose from the dead."

Okay, so Mortz is trying to explain what he meant. But he overstates his case.

"You're spewing nonsense!" Turkel snapped at them. "That's almost as wrong as saying that the Gospel of Barnabas was the real account of Jesus!"

Yup, that's wrong. But I doubt that would make anyone see that. 

"The bible was corrupted!" Zakir yelled. "We, Muslims, know this. None of your evidence is good enough!"

What evidence is that? How do Muslims know this. 

"There is no reason to believe that Muhammad was any more than a fraud!" Turkel countered.

Oh more unsubstantiated accusations follow others. 

"Has it occured to any of you that you ALL might be wrong?"

It was Valerie. The men looked at her.

We should all consider that. Even the Atheist.

"What are you talking about?" Zakir snapped.

"I mean, listen to yourselves," Valerie said, pushing up her glasses. "You all accuse each other of being wrong while claiming that your religion is right. You critize every other religion harshly and find it foolish to believe. But, let me ask you something. If you were to examine your own religion like you do for others, do you think that you'd still believe it?"

That's a good question.  Does Valerie do the same?

"Oh, so the ATHEIST thinks she knows how the world works?" Zakir growled.

Only God knows how the world works. 

"I didn't say that," Valerie replied. "I just think that you should all look at what you believe from my perspective. I wasn't always an non-believer. I was actually a Christian growing up. But I began to question my views and I took the position of an outside and looked at my religion as a skeptic would. I realized that nobody, unless having been brought up to belief it, would buy the stories of religion."

Did John Loftus write this, drivel? It ignores the fact that people convert to other religions all the time. 

"Valerie, you failed to do the simplest thing in the world," Hugh Talmage told her. "All you needed to do was pray to God for verification and..."

All she needed to do was open up the  Bible and do some research. 

"He would answer if I had an open heart," Valerie finished for him. "I've heard that a hundred times, Hugh. The thing is, I did have an open heart and I did pray. But any feeling I got was just me feeling something because I felt I was suppose to feel something. That wasn't enough for me."

It was nothing to do with an open heart. If God doesn't open it, it won't be opened.

"Have you actually read the Bible, Valerie?" Turkel asked. "If you have, you..."

Turkel and Talmage's answes are the same to Valerie. A knowledgeable Christian wouldn't give the same answer.

"Would believe the truth that lies within it," She finished. "I have read the Bible, Greg. I didn't find it very convincing."

And this is how we know what anyone's spiritual state is:

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. -1 Corinthians 1:18-25

"How come?" Greg asked.

"Well, I don't believe in talking snakes or donkeys, for one," Valerie told him. "I don't believe that a man can rise from the dead. I don't believe that a man can live in a whale. I don't believe that a man can cause another man to rise from the dead. I also don't believe in unicorns, which are mentioned in the Bible."

Valerie can believe whatever he or she chooses. However that doesn't make it wrong or right. And if  "unicorns" in the  Bible is offensive then read another translation. Modern translations more correctly translate those passages. Unicorns cannot be found in Hebrew culture. so we know that isn't what was thought to be in original texts.

"Well, I'm not sure why the authors mentioned unicorns," Turkel said. "I'm open minded about it. It could be metaphorical for something, it could be they mistook something for a unicorn. But, my main objection to you is that you are clearly biased in your assesment of miracles. You assume, out of hand, that they never occur. That's completely circular."

Bad answer.

"I never said that I KNOW miracles don't happen," Valerie replied. "I said that I don't believe that they do. There's a difference. Maybe I should have said that I'm very skeptical of claims of miracles.

Oh she misspoked.

I think David Hume was correct in what he said about miracles. I mean, what is more likely? That the laws of nature were suspended so that you might be revived from the dead, or that the person telling you this is gravely mistaken?

So although you don't KNOW miracles cannot happen, she and other choose to believe they didn't. That makes sense. 

It's not circular, it's a question of what's more likely. If I told you that I could make a flashlight fly into my hands, you'd probably dismiss me as having imagined the whole thing. And rightly so."

Or one would be a Jedi. Much sense as a flying spaghetti flying monster. My question would be why? Each and every miracle in the Bible had a reason.

"So you don't believe in God?" Moritz asked. "How can you be so sure? Isn't your atheism just as much as a faith position?"

Good question.

"Not really." Valerie replied. "I would say that I'm more of an atheist against religion. About the notion of God, I am more of an agnostic. I just don't think, if there is a God, that we are able to understand him or what he, or she, or they, or it want us to do."

Standard answer when an atheist gets too close to the fire.

"Your position is laughable," Zakir growled. "Only a fool would not believe in a divine creator."

"Really, Zakir?" Valerie asked him. "I read a very interesting book once and the author suggested to people of faith that they take a test. He called it the Outsider Test for Faith. Basically, you take the position of a skeptic and you anaylze the claims of your religion like an atheist or an agnostic would. Then, if your religion passes, you have a good faith. Unfortunately, he, nor I, think that any religion passes that test."

She didn't answer his question.

"That's foolish!"


"Absolute nonsense!"

"That's just absurd!"

All men raged at her at the same time.

Give her a second.

"Let me ask you something, Valerie," Greg Turkel said. "Have you subjected your faith to this test that you're talking about. Have you questioned your skepticism as an outsider to it?"

Another good question.

"An outsider to skepticism is a person of faith," Valerie told him. "They already believe and of course they would find it difficult to believe what I do. But atheism isn't a faith. If all religions fail the outsider test then atheism, the lack of belief in religions, is all that is left. Or you can be an agnostic if that suits you better."

So the answer is  "No."

"Well, I promise you that the Christian faith passes that test with flying colors." Turkel said. "I was once in your position, Valerie, but I found the truth in God's word through his son."

"Yes, but did you consider anyone else's faith before finding Jesus?" Valerie asked. "Did you see if perhaps Zakir was right? Or maybe Hugh?"

I have. They failed. 

"Only a fool would believe the nonsense of the 'Latter Day Saints'," Zakir sneered. "But if anyone who takes such a test were to apply it to the Koran, they would not be able to rationally deny that the Koran is real vessel of truth."

"Nonsense!" Turkel and Moritz both raged.

"I'm tired of your bashing my faith!" Hugh cried, outraged.

They began arguing again. Valerie sighed and buried her face in her hands again. Then she stood up and walked out of the room.

No one not even Valerie was willing to "put up or shut up"  Which is the problem in most of these discussions. No one truly really ready to step up. :Loftus has tried to posit that the OTF can be found in the Bible. I agree. Look at the account of Elijah on Mount Carmel. Elijah through down the gauntlet and slapped his opponents with the proverbial glove. 

20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
   But the people said nothing.
 22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the LORD’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”
   Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”1 Kings 18:18-24
Fair enough. This was the OTF in action. If you ask God to do God stuff in your life and willing to follow the evidence wherever it goes. You will find God!

The Atheist Literature Club: Religitics - Aftermeeting Discussion 2 - No, mine!
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