I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist book review

Jul 23, 2012 | Posted by: roboblogger | Full story: Tuscon Citizen

I donít have enough faith to believe Geisler and Turek are being honest.

Conversing with theists about their religious beliefs and why I reject them is an enjoyable activity. Iíll gladly read any books anyone suggests and share my opinions of them if they are willing to review material I suggest. Recently, a Christian friend of mine suggested I read his copy of I Donít Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Frank Turek and Norman Geisler, with a forward from David Limbaugh (Rushís brother).

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“It's just a box of rain...”

Since: May 07

Knoxville, TN

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#1
Jul 23, 2012
 

Judged:

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This review is also a nearly perfect summary of the arguments we've seen on the various threads here on the Topix atheist forum. There's really not much to add, and I suspect that most of the posts in this thread will either reiterate the points of the article or take the interesting little off-topic side trips that help to make this forum worth reading.

It did occur to me while reading the article that theists are a bit clueless when they fail to realize that focusing their arguments on refutations of science is ultimately self defeating. These are arguments they cannot win, and in trying, they only help to damage the credibility of the religions that they seek to promote. Even non-scientists like myself can easily see the paucity of their arguments and claims because of the fallacious twists and turns in their "logic."

I have never seen an argument for religion that was based on sound logic. The consistent use of fallacies to support religious claims leads me to believe that they cannot be supported without such deception even if that deception is not always deliberate. Given that, it's hard not to conclude that religion itself is a fallacy.

That which can only be supported with deceptive fallacies is likely to also be such.
havent forgotten

Lamoni, IA

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#2
Jul 23, 2012
 
NightSerf wrote:
This review is also a nearly perfect summary of the arguments we've seen on the various threads here on the Topix atheist forum. There's really not much to add, and I suspect that most of the posts in this thread will either reiterate the points of the article or take the interesting little off-topic side trips that help to make this forum worth reading.
It did occur to me while reading the article that theists are a bit clueless when they fail to realize that focusing their arguments on refutations of science is ultimately self defeating. These are arguments they cannot win, and in trying, they only help to damage the credibility of the religions that they seek to promote. Even non-scientists like myself can easily see the paucity of their arguments and claims because of the fallacious twists and turns in their "logic."
I have never seen an argument for religion that was based on sound logic. The consistent use of fallacies to support religious claims leads me to believe that they cannot be supported without such deception even if that deception is not always deliberate. Given that, it's hard not to conclude that religion itself is a fallacy.
That which can only be supported with deceptive fallacies is likely to also be such.
I always appreciate your cautious approach. You do not claim too much. You discuss the mistakes of those who do claim too much. Your conclusions come as an on balance preference for rationality as an approach - rather than rationalization of superstitions, OR insistence on an arrogant knowledge-claiming unbelief that claims to be sure and to have no responsibility to prove anything. I do not know if you have seen my feud with Skeptic, but he is the sort of atheist whom I do not think is a Skeptic - I just think he is a different sort of fundie.

I will not back off of the term agnostic atheist. To me a real skeptic needs to be skeptical about many things, and yet to reach some tentative conclusions and preferences, without being insistent or dogmatic about them. which is how you seem to me. I consider myself a skeptic and do not like to see someone who is a Claimer to Know steal that term.

“It's just a box of rain...”

Since: May 07

Knoxville, TN

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#3
Jul 23, 2012
 
havent forgotten wrote:
<quoted text> I always appreciate your cautious approach. You do not claim too much. You discuss the mistakes of those who do claim too much. Your conclusions come as an on balance preference for rationality as an approach - rather than rationalization of superstitions, OR insistence on an arrogant knowledge-claiming unbelief that claims to be sure and to have no responsibility to prove anything. I do not know if you have seen my feud with Skeptic, but he is the sort of atheist whom I do not think is a Skeptic - I just think he is a different sort of fundie.
I will not back off of the term agnostic atheist. To me a real skeptic needs to be skeptical about many things, and yet to reach some tentative conclusions and preferences, without being insistent or dogmatic about them. which is how you seem to me. I consider myself a skeptic and do not like to see someone who is a Claimer to Know steal that term.
If memory serves, you joined our discussions after the long and protracted (and sometimes, no often heated) discussions about the various types of atheism. In the end, most of us agreed to define our terms as follows for the purpose of discussion in this forum:

Gnostic/agnostic--one who does not [believes/does not believe] that it is possible to know for certain whether any deities exist

Theist/atheist--one who [believes/does not believe] that deities exist

Undecided--one who doesn't know what to believe about one or both of the dichotomies above

These can form eight combinations (a gnostic is, by definition, not undecided): gnostic theist, gnostic atheist, agnostic theist, agnostic atheist, agnostic undecided (about deities), undecided (about agnosticism) theist, undecided atheist.

The meanings should be fairly obvious. The twist that I didn't expect was the undecided bit--a Boolean null state suggested by a rather odd young man that nevertheless could not be ignored or dismissed. It allows for the common misconception of what agnosticism is to be incorporated as another very real possibility.

Almost all who were here at the time self-identified as agnostic atheists, myself included. A small number self-identified as agnostic theists, gnostic theists, or gnostic atheists. To my way of thinking (and yours, no?), skepticism implies agnosticism as defined above as well as occasional, albeit hopefully temporary, indecision.

Certainty is the enemy of inquiry. Ofttimes the most intelligent initial attitude in any inquiry is indecision. For a true skeptic, even the most basic conclusions must be revisited in the face of new and contradictory information. Those who are never puzzle or confused rarely move forward intellectually.
havent forgotten

Lamoni, IA

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#4
Jul 23, 2012
 
NightSerf wrote:
<quoted text>
If memory serves, you joined our discussions after the long and protracted (and sometimes, no often heated) discussions about the various types of atheism. In the end, most of us agreed to define our terms as follows for the purpose of discussion in this forum:
Gnostic/agnostic--one who does not [believes/does not believe] that it is possible to know for certain whether any deities exist
Theist/atheist--one who [believes/does not believe] that deities exist
Undecided--one who doesn't know what to believe about one or both of the dichotomies above
These can form eight combinations (a gnostic is, by definition, not undecided): gnostic theist, gnostic atheist, agnostic theist, agnostic atheist, agnostic undecided (about deities), undecided (about agnosticism) theist, undecided atheist.
The meanings should be fairly obvious. The twist that I didn't expect was the undecided bit--a Boolean null state suggested by a rather odd young man that nevertheless could not be ignored or dismissed. It allows for the common misconception of what agnosticism is to be incorporated as another very real possibility.
Almost all who were here at the time self-identified as agnostic atheists, myself included. A small number self-identified as agnostic theists, gnostic theists, or gnostic atheists. To my way of thinking (and yours, no?), skepticism implies agnosticism as defined above as well as occasional, albeit hopefully temporary, indecision.
Certainty is the enemy of inquiry. Ofttimes the most intelligent initial attitude in any inquiry is indecision. For a true skeptic, even the most basic conclusions must be revisited in the face of new and contradictory information. Those who are never puzzle or confused rarely move forward intellectually.
thank you for your very interesting explanation of the earlier discussion. obviously I am an agnostic atheist, and I usually assume the most sensible commenters are also agnostic atheists! skepticism implies agnosticism, but beyond that one can have opinions - but no claim to be sure. the "I doubt it" about one thing is pro forma, and the "I doubt it" about another thing is "I think that is ridiculous!"

I do not like the term gnostic because of its root meaning being to know.
To me the opposite of agnostic atheist is hard atheist - because I think they claim to know and do not know. I call that hard! in two senses - hard headed, and difficult to prove what they claim to know.(two reasons it is unnecessary to be a hard atheist)
I agree with you on many things. your attitude is part of it. a bit more patient than others. more personal in what views you have come to have, rather than imposing them as if you are certain.

I really do not believe that certain things can be known, and I do not know what things cannot be known. I think that is agnostic in spirit, because I stop short of claiming that some things can never be known. To me agnostic is used as a modifying term with regard to most things. It is used as a noun with regard to any claim to know about a God. One can be an agnostic atheist in both senses - both an agnostic (noun- I think it comes from Huxley) and an atheist. and an atheist who does not make a claim to know. I think the earlier meaning from the greek roots applies to not making knowledge claims about whatever the issue, and not merely regarding the existence of a God, if I recall my dictionary correctly!
havent forgotten

Lamoni, IA

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#5
Jul 23, 2012
 
hope that made sense. I did not divide it out into groupings. i tend to stream of consciousness at times!

hard atheist to me means someone who claims to know and have proof that there is no God. I like the word hard. not the words strong or gnostic. it is not knowing, it is claiming to know, in my opinion. and in my view, it is not strong - it is bullying, not strong.

I do not like the words soft or weak, as its opposite, since they have a bad connotation. I like the word agnostic as a modifier - meaning a not-knowledge-claiming person. so I am an agnostic atheist.

I think there were historical gnostics, also, that have given the term a more diverse meaning.

As for theists, yes, there are agnostic theists and "hard" theists who claim to know there is a God - and probably to know a bit about what it is like, their God. I like the agnostic ones better, as to their not making a knowledge claim. However, as to what God each group believes in, there is so much variety, that I would like best those who believe in a god that is not mean and nasty, unless they think it exists and do not like it, which would be my view if I were a theist.
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Lamoni, IA

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#6
Jul 23, 2012
 
I should also explain that I was raised as an agnostic and as an atheist - though we used the term agnostic more, for sensible reasons in a religious town! I often call myself an ecumentical agnostic, and emphasize looking for common ethical views - such as first do no harm. I advocate an ethic I call informed kindness. To mean well, and to learn as much about what is the effective thing to do in any situation in order to do the kind thing - which often means knowing what expert to reach and how and how fast. I have cops in my town and county on speed dial. I do not trust cops in a nearby jurisdiction.

I was always comfortable as an agnostic, and felt sorry that other people believed in things I thought were silly, or really bad - especially as I read the bad stuff in the Bible.

I did believe in the existence of 8 fying reindeer at one time, briefly - perhaps 4 years at most. I did not believe in Rudolph, I knew that was a story book. I also doubted glowing noses.

“It's just a box of rain...”

Since: May 07

Knoxville, TN

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#7
Jul 23, 2012
 
I understand the preference for "hard atheists" as opposed to "gnostic," and since the meaning is clear, I doubt that anyone has a problem with it except that its logical opposite is "soft." Many here have the same objections to that term that you do. That's no problem when skeptics are chatting among themselves, but the inevitable evangelists tend to pounce on such trivia.

The best known historic gnostics were (and are, I think) a religious sect that was once prominent in Egypt (I sure someone will correct me if my memory is playing me false), and is usually capitalized. In lower case, as I understand it, the word usually denotes the philosophical proposition that reality in general and religion in particular is knowable.

In the end, none of this matters greatly. What does matter is clarity, i.e., that we understand eachother's posts as well as is possible given the inherent barriers such as diverse points of view or even deliberate misinterpretation. We see the latter a lot from (mostly Christin) evangelists and apologists.

For so many here, it's all about winning, which is a pity. If more were here to learn from others and discover new ideological vistas, it could be an enriching forum.
havent forgotten

Lamoni, IA

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#8
Jul 24, 2012
 
NightSerf wrote:
I understand the preference for "hard atheists" as opposed to "gnostic," and since the meaning is clear, I doubt that anyone has a problem with it except that its logical opposite is "soft." Many here have the same objections to that term that you do. That's no problem when skeptics are chatting among themselves, but the inevitable evangelists tend to pounce on such trivia.
The best known historic gnostics were (and are, I think) a religious sect that was once prominent in Egypt (I sure someone will correct me if my memory is playing me false), and is usually capitalized. In lower case, as I understand it, the word usually denotes the philosophical proposition that reality in general and religion in particular is knowable.
In the end, none of this matters greatly. What does matter is clarity, i.e., that we understand eachother's posts as well as is possible given the inherent barriers such as diverse points of view or even deliberate misinterpretation. We see the latter a lot from (mostly Christin) evangelists and apologists.
For so many here, it's all about winning, which is a pity. If more were here to learn from others and discover new ideological vistas, it could be an enriching forum.
well, people like us want to understand each other, and have a good chance of doing so, I think. one of the best ways to understand is to discuss words and their meanings and not take definitions for granted. when we are sensitive to connotations, and historical usages, and to different meanings of the same word - agnostic as a noun and as a modifier, for example, we get it. I also think that the intent to understand - rather than to flame others - is a major facilitator of our good conversations - which is your point regarding many on here. I have a problem with a few socalled atheists, and there seems to be a link between their offensive style and their excessive claims to know and to not have to prove anything. The most explicitly agnostic atheists are the easiest to understand, since I "get" that view from the inside out, so to speak, since it is my own view. I can understand what a few folks are getting at -IRYW for example - when they claim they know "provisionally" that there is no God. but to me the sort of provisional acceptance that something is a fact is related to needing to act in some way that relies on assuming that, and on finding that it is not a disaster to do so! I just don't see any need to act on one assumption or the other regarding some truth about a god or God. It is not a practical matter what is true. It is a practical matter what one believes. One should not be made mean and nasty by one's beliefs. Atheism has nothing else to it in addition to not believing in aGod or god or gods or Gods. Theism is often just the beginning of a very complex combination of nonsense, leading in many case to unkind behavior, or behavior unwittingly causing bad consequences (voting Republican is my usual example!) again, this is just a free-flowing set of thoughts, which is what can be interesting if one is not afraid of some fool trying to come in and pounce on some tentative thought or phrasing.
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#9
Jul 24, 2012
 
I do not mind inviting believers to pounce on the phrase - "it is not a practical matter what is true" (regarding a God or god). For me, it is not.I do not think we can ever know what is true, but I think we can find sources of dangerous behavior in certain beliefs about what is true. I also think we can find sources of kindness in certan beliefs about what is true - but if the kindness is based on fear of hell if one is not kind to others (as in Matthew around 34 or so), then that is not a very charming motivation.

Since: Mar 11

United States

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#10
Jul 30, 2012
 
This was a great review and indeed it shows many of the lame arguments that Theists use. I try to surf the creationist sites and how to convert an Atheist pages and videos on YouTube and you see time and time again these lame arguments.

There most likely is no god so hey be kind to each other and enjoy life :)

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