Monday, July 11, 2011

Atheists and Unicorns, NOT An Emotional Appeal--A Rebuttal of JW Wartick's Argument

Recently, I successfully rebutted JW Wartick's claim that the unicorn argument is merely an appeal to emotion--which it is not. I demonstrated that there is as much evidence for unicorns (Actually, there is more, as the Greeks, the Chinese, and even the bible mention unicorns!) as there is for his god. In the course of my rebuttal, Wartick offered the cosmological argument against the unicorn, which I showed that if we accepted his argument, that it would be a proof that Jesus is not divine! It was at that point that he refused to post my last two comments, even though they did not violate his TOS.



This is a clear illustration of how disingenuous and dishonest "Christians" can be. It is no surprise however, as their doctrine tells them they are "born sinners" and can't help themselves from lying, cheating, stealing, raping, killing, etc. It's their "nature" after all--according to their religion. (I disagree however, as we can choose to do right or wrong, or in this case, to be a legitimate scholar.) His argument and our conversation follows:



Wartick's Argument:


"You may have heard it before. “I’m an a-unicornist, just like I’m an atheist.” “I don’t believe in unicorns, nor do I believe in God.” “There’s as much evidence for unicorns as for God.”
What are these statements supposed to show?
Whether intended or not, these kinds of statements are simply emotional appeals. The atheist is attempting to psychologically discredit Christianity without ever engaging any kind of logical reasoning.
Think about it, when you hear these phrases, what rational process goes on? There is no rational link between unicorns and theism. There is no reason to correlate the two.
Theists could just as easily use psychological appeals, but there is no need to do so. Such pejorative language doesn’t serve to foster discussion. It’s preaching to the choir. It is useful only for increasing dogmatism. So why do atheists use it so frequently?
Again, the key is to note that those who use this phrase are not doing so in the interest of academic honesty or discussion, but in the interest of psychologically weighting the discussion in their favor before it even begins. Rather than looking at the evidence, they dismiss it.
But what about another common use of the unicorn within atheism? Namely “I can’t prove there is no God, just like I can’t prove there are no unicorns.”
While this initially seems plausible, it only remains plausible if one assumes positivism. We can actually prove there is no God. If the Christian’s account of God was found to be incoherent, then God would not exist. It would, in fact, be impossible for God to exist were his nature contradictory.
So even in this use of the phrase we find that the atheist is committed to a dogmatic assumption of positivism. By assuming that God can only be disproven by empirical evidence, they uncritically advance a philosophical enterprise which has largely been abandoned within modern philosophy.
A word of advice: focus on the arguments at hand, not pejorative language."



My reponse: I read your blog post today, and posted a counter argument (It can be found here.) on my blog to your claim that atheists make an “appeal to emotion” when stating that there is as much evidence for god as there is for unicorns.



JW: I appreciate your interest in my post. I think the whole case really boils down to this statement you make in your response:
“The correlation between the two [God and unicorns] is the fact that there is no evidence for either.”
This is a completely unsubstantiated claim. Have you examined every piece of evidence brought to the table to defend theism? Have you explored every corner of the galaxy? Have you read every philosophical work presenting logical evidence for the existence of God?
You’re making an assertion of a universal negative. You must support that claim somehow, yet in the whole post you don’t. And that’s the problem with statements like the ‘unicorn’ phrase: they are mere assumptions.



My response: Exactly! That’s my whole point! Christians claim to “know” god exists, is not a claim of knowledge, it is a mere assumption. How does a Christian know that Brahman is not god, or Zeus is not god, or that unicorns do not exist? Have they been to every corner of the galaxy? Now do you see the correlation?
The theist is the one that is making the claim they know something exists. Where is the evidence? Just like the unicorn may actually exist, but where is the evidence? The fact that you cannot present evidence, does not mean that the unicorn does not exist. Likewise, with Brahman, Zeus, or any other god or goddess.



JW: You’ve made use of an interesting tactic, trying to shift the burden of proof. You have made the claim “There is no evidence for God’s existence.” I’m asking you to support that claim rather than present red herrings.



My response: To continue, first, let me remind you that I am an Ignostic Atheist. By Ignosticsm, I mean we use the physical sciences to explain the world around us, and there is no need to posit the hypotheses of gods/goddesses. We have better hypotheses to explain events in our physical world. I have no need to assert that god does not exist. However, I do refute arguments for god’s existence, and show that such hypotheses do not do a better job.
I stand by my negative claim, with regards to the lack of evidence for God’s existence.
A person is justified in believing that X does not exist if all of these conditions are met:
1. the area where evidence would appear, if there were any, has been comprehensively examined, and
2. all of the available evidence that X exists is inadequate, and
3. X is the sort of thing or entity that, if X exists, then it would show.
In this case, “X” is the evidence for god’s existence. On the above grounds, I am justified in claiming there is no evidence for god’s existence. If anyone provides me with any new evidence, I will weigh it accordingly.
However, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that there is some evidence for the existence of a god. The strength of the unicorn argument is that the evidence for god’s existence, if it exists, is no stronger than the evidence for unicorns, or leprechauns, or Zeus, or Brahman, or Diana, or……..thousands upon thousands of other posited gods and goddesses.
Note, that the above fact undermines the Christians claim that Yahweh is the one and only god. So again, the strength of the unicorn correlation is to remind Christians that there is as much evidence for their god, as there is for unicorns, and that their lofty claims of “knowing” god exists, has no foundation or support.



JW: What kind of evidence is the referent? It seems that throughout the past several thousand years many philosophers have been convinced by evidence for God’s existence.



My response: Yes, and plenty of philosophers and others were convinced the world was flat–but that too turned out to be false.



JW: You didn’t answer my question.



My response: My referent is any kind of evidence. In the end I believe all the “evidence” fails, or is inferior to other, better hypotheses and explanations.
But again, for the sake of argument, let’s assume you can provide some evidence. This is another strength of the unicorn argument. Can someone provide evidence for god, that doesn’t also apply to the unicorn? And if so, for the Christian, does it apply (the SAME or similar kind of evidence) to Brahman, Zeus, Jupiter, Diana, and so on? This presents a dilemma for Christians who claim there is only
one god, and that god is Yahweh–as that evidence would also prove Brahman, Zeus, Jupiter, Diana, and so on.–Reductio ad absurdum.
As stated above, the strength of the unicorn argument is that the evidence for god’s existence, if it exists, is no stronger than the evidence for unicorns, or leprechauns, or Zeus, or Brahman, or Diana, or……..thousands upon thousands of other posited gods and goddesses.
Note, that the above fact undermines the Christians claim that Yahweh is the one and only god. So again, the strength of the unicorn correlation is to remind Christians that there is as much evidence for their god, as there is for unicorns, and that their lofty claims of “knowing” god exists, has no foundation or support.



JW: You wrote, ” In the end I believe all the ‘evidence’ fails, or is inferior to other, better hypotheses and explanations.”
Again, as has happened before, you’re equivocating. This sentence implies there is evidence, but that it fails. That is not the same as the universal negative, “There is no evidence.”
You wrote, ” Can someone provide evidence for god, that doesn’t also apply to the unicorn?”
Not sure if this is even a serious question, but obviously the cosmological argument (both Leibniz and Kalam) along with teleological, ontological, moral, etc. are evidence that would not apply to the unicorn. A unicorn cannot even fulfill the requirements of them.
You went on to say, basically, that the evidence could be used for other gods. This is simply false. Show me manuscript evidence that says Zeus is a maximally great being–the “form” of the good. Show me manuscript evidence that states that Brahman transcends the world and is not the world itself, etc, etc. As usual with atheists when they talk about gods, you have made them all the same. Maybe that makes it easier to reject them, but it’s not based upon facts.



My response: No, I am not equivocating. I am assuming that there is evidence for the sake of argument in order to do a reductio ad absurdum.
My argument has two prongs. The first prong says that if you provide evidence for the Christian god, the same type of evidence can be given for the unicorn. If it does not apply to the unicorn, it will apply to many other gods. So if the Christian is not skewered by one prong of the fork, he is skewered by the other. Note, the arguments you mentioned (cosmological, etc.) can be applied to many other gods and goddesses. Even WL Craig admits such arguments do not prove the Christian god, as they can be applied to many other gods.
Furthermore, note that I said “same or similar” type of evidence. In this case, the type of evidence would be “manuscriptural.” I am not committed to any particular statement that it says, as the same then could be turned around and used against the Christian. In other words, I could pick any characteristic that a manuscript says about any god or goddess, or a unicorn that Yahweh and Jesus do not have, and then argue that that proves that that particular god, goddess or unicorn is true, and the Christian god is not.
Your claim that the Christian manuscript says that Yahweh/Jesus is good seems to rest on the notion, the hidden premise, that if a manuscript says something, Y, about a god, X, then that god, X, must be Y! And if so, then that god must exist! Note, that this then could be applied to all of the religions that have manuscripts, and any manuscript that mentions unicorns.
Worse yet, the particular claims that Christians make often times apply to other gods and goddesses and unicorns. Now, we have some manuscripts that say that god “X” is good. For example, the Bhagavad Gita says that Krishna is the “infallible one” (18:73) and is perfect. If Krishna is infallible, then he is perfect and all good, as he would be totally virtuous. Therefore, if we accepted this type of argument, that is, if a manuscript says it is so, then it is so–which we don’t–then we can say that there is as much evidence for Yahweh as there is for Krishna, based on the manuscript argument. Thus, the Christian would be skewed by the other prong of the fork, and my argument holds.
Lastly, you have underestimated the power of the unicorn. “In China, the unicorn is believed to rule the heavens along with three other immortals: the dragon, the phoenix, and the turtle. Together, these creatures rule the heavens as well as parts of the earth. Unicorns rule the land animals. The Chinese unicorn, is gentle and kind and good, and refuses to use his horn as a weapon.”*
An early written account of the Unicorn appeared about 5,000 years ago in Chinese manuscripts where the Unicorn can appear in many different physical forms but is most commonly described as having the body of a deer, the tail of an ox, the hooves of a horse and of course a single short horn growing out of the middle of its forehead. The emperor Fu Hsi became one of the most revered of all Chinese rulers, and there is a record in the Bamboo Books of the appearance of a unicorn at his palace in 2697 BC, shortly before his death. Therefore, according to the “manuscript argument” unicorns must be true!
“Manuscriptural” evidence has to meet the conditions and criteria for good evidence. We have many manuscripts, and just because a particular manuscript states something, it does not necessarily make it so. Manuscripts must also meet the conditions of what counts as good evidence.



C. Rodrigues: (His "point" refers to Wartick's comment below.) J. W. Wartick will surely respond to this post. Anyway, when you say:
“My argument has two prongs. The first prong says that if you provide evidence for the Christian god, the same type of evidence can be given for the unicorn. If it does not apply to the unicorn, it will apply to many other gods.”
You are mistaken. The arguments for God’s existence (Kalam, contingency, etc.) apply not to many gods as you say but to *very few ones*, and surely not to unicorns. Claiming otherwise, just betrays a gross misunderstanding of the arguments. In fact, I can only recall 3 to which all the arguments apply. Since two of them are the same God, you can drop the count to 2.



JW: Again, I can’t really improve on this comment so I’ll let it speak for me.



My response: According to Christians, there is only ONE god, and for a counter example to this, it would only take 2. As you said, you can think of at least 2!–thank you very much for proving my point.
If we are to accept JW Wartick’s argument in favor of manuscripts, then he himself has proven the unicorn exists.
Just for fun, let us see how many gods would be proven if we accept the cosmological, teleological, ontological, and moral arguments for god.
The cosmological argument is basically the “first cause” argument, and would apply to the Greek god of creation, Zeus; the Indian Brahma, from a Trimurti of three gods also including Vishnu and Shiva, is described as performing the act of creation; an African god of creation named Amma, and to almost every supreme being conceived by various cultures around the world.
As for the teleological argument, it goes without saying that the above gods would also have “designed” the universe as they created the universe.
Again as for the ontological argument, the above gods were also conceived as the greatest possible being, so, according to the ontological argument, they must also exist.
As far as the moral argument goes, we know that the aforementioned cultures and gods also had moral values, and ethical codes. So, the moral argument would apply to all those gods as well as most of the other cultures and gods.
Therefore, in fact, the cosmological, teleological, ontological, and moral arguments would apply to the majority of supreme beings, if not all the supreme beings of all the various cultures.



JW: You wrote, “My argument has two prongs. The first prong says that if you provide evidence for the Christian god, the same type of evidence can be given for the unicorn. The second prong states that IF IT DOES NOT APPLY TO THE UNICORN, IT WILL APPLY TO MANY OTHER GODS.–and so far, this has held up.”
Suppose for the moment, I grant your argument (I do think it’s terribly wrong, but I’ll grant it for the following). Why should this negatively affect the case for the existence of God in any way? I could equally provide parallel arguments for any belief by simply picking two things which would fit evidence on either side of an issue. For example, we could look at the various interpretations of quantum mechanics, the debate between the Minkowskian and Lorentzian interpretations of relativity theory, etc.
The core assumption that you’ve left out of your argument is that somehow a diversity of opinions about a topic is supposed to undermine it’s truth. Why should it undermine belief in a specific God that someone can say the evidence for that God applies to other gods or a (arbitrarily chosen, because you could choose any number of other examples) unicorn any more than the idea that evidence for relativity theory can serve as evidence either for the Minkowskian or Lorentzian interpretation of relativity theory?
The argument makes an assumption which is highly contentious, and you’ve successfully hidden it by dancing around the issue thus far. Again that assumption is that having more than one interpretation of evidence means the thing evidenced is undermined. Yet again, for almost any belief we have, we could illustrate a huge number of scenarios that could alternatively explain the situation.
Perhaps it is supposed to be the mythic nature of the unicorn which leads us to be incredulous about belief in God.
Very well, let’s consider my belief that my experience is real.
Well the evidence that my belief is real can be evidence either for the supposition that my experiences are real or evidence that I am a brain in a vat. Yet surely I am justified in taking it as a given that what I experience is real. But look! There is something mythical (and silly!) to believe in that could equally match the evidence! According to the way you’ve utilized your argument, Cathy, we shouldn’t believe that our experience is real. (This may be a relief for some!)
So I see no reason to be perturbed in the slightest by your argument.
But then let’s look at another supposition which you have not argued to support whatsoever. Namely, that similarity in types of evidence means that the evidence is the same. Your argument about other Gods and arguments like the Kalam is that this “type” of evidence can support (certain) other gods. But here again we’ve seen a gross ignorance of an implicit premise in your arguments. You’ve been assuming that you can take individual arguments for the existence of a (theistic) God and by showing they can each match other gods, you have sufficiently rebutted them. I see no reason to see this to be the case (see above). Not only that, but you’ve assumed that types of evidence mean the evidence is equivalent. How much archaelogical/historical evidence do we have for the truth of the Upanishads verses the Bible? You’re making the claim they are highly similar. Back up that claim! Not only that, but do the Upanishads rely upon historical evidence or do they rely on their philosophical exposition of reality. I admit to being only vaguely familiar with these writings, but because of your willingness to act as though you know them front and back, I assume you know them very well. So tell me, does the philosophical nature of the Upanishads and Vedas (of which I’ve read only portions) parallel the historical nature of Judaism and Christianity? Note that the historical claim in the manuscripts about Jesus is the central core of Christianity. Does Hinduism rely upon a single historical truth claim in the Upanishads as deeply as the “people of the Book” do?
I sincerely doubt it, but I leave it to you to do the work here, you’re making these impressive claims, after all.
So we see there are some serious, gaping holes in your argument. I see no reason to accept it as anything but trivial.



My response: As I mentioned before, I am an Ignostic Atheist, and a Peircian pragmatist, but I am not a relativist. While there may be many hypotheses and interpretations, and while everything may be seen from different perspectives, and everything is theory laden, some hypotheses and interpretations are better than others.
The fact that there are competing or contrary hypotheses and interpretations does not mean there is no objectivity. Let me illustrate how this works by explaining to you the Hypothetico-Deductive Method:
The Best Explanation Move is a scientific move.  It is founded on having a hypothesis, which makes predictions, which are confirmed by observations. This is known as the scientific method or the “Hypothetico-Deductive” method. We pose a series of hypotheses and then see if the predicted consequences actually follow. If they do, we conclude that a hypothesis is confirmed. Two conditions must be met for the best explanation move: 1. The first condition to be met is that you must  have a hypothesis, which makes predictions, which are confirmed by observations, and 2. The second condition is that a hypothesis has to do a better job than any of its existing rivals.  I will use two examples to illustrate:
For example, we now think that infectious diseases are the result of microorganisms.  In the past, people used to think that disease was the result of bad air, usually the night air–or the result of being inhabited by evil spirits.  A simplified discussion of this is revealed in the following argument, with:
h = germ theory of disease
O1 = when we examine the blood and lungs of those who have an infectious disease (such as tuberculosis) we find a microorganism ( in the case of tuberculosis, the mycobacterium tubuerculosis)
O2 = the observation that when this microorganism is injected into animals who can contract the disease, and they do contract
O3= those who have never been exposed to the disease do not have the microorganism
h’ = infectious disease is caused either by bad night air or by evil spirits.
P1.  If h, then O1, O2, O3
P2. O1, O2, O3
P3. h does a better job in explaining the disease phenomena than h’.
P4. h fits in with other related h’s that are themselves confirmed.
C. Therefore, h.

These premises are ones we have greater confidence in because the battle between the germ theory and its major rivals is one that is over.  Now, there may be some groups, for example, Christian Scientists, who still think that diseases are a result of not being in the proper relation to God, and there will always be disagreements among people.  Nevertheless, the fact of disagreement does not show that we are not justified in asserting with great confidence that we are correct.  However, we must be prepared to look at new evidence and admit, however unlikely we now think this is, that our theory was mistaken.
The requirement of P3– that a hypothesis has to do a better job than its existing rivals–is the key to what makes an acceptable hypothesis.  The germ theory accounts for such phenomena as transmission of disease, and gives a theoretical foundation for vaccination.
Let us look at another example; human reproduction.  One hypothesis is that sperm contains a complete human being–a homunculus–and that the egg contains the nutrients for the growth of this homunculus.  The hypothesis we think is correct is that half of a newborn’s genetic material is supplied by the sperm, and half by the egg, and there is no homonculus.  While both explain human reproduction, the contemporary genetic account is better, as it explains heredity as well as the fact of reproduction.  It fits with other biological findings, and allows us to develop crops and animals suitable for certain environments.  This is generally true of competing hypotheses: We choose the one that does a better job in explaining the phenomena, not the one that simply does a job in explaining the phenomena.
With reference to whether a god exists, or what types of gods exist, or whether unicorns exist, we have competing hypotheses and interpretations. The Christian claim is that there is only one true god, and that god happens to be Yahweh. However, when Christians try to provide proof of this, they are better scientific explanations that can explain the phenomena rather than positing a supernatural entity, as the supernatural is always going to be the least likely explanation.
Now, back to the power of the unicorn argument. In the case of Christians trying to prove Yahweh exists, they cannot do a better job than a unicornist trying to prove unicorns exist!
So again, the strength of the unicorn correlation is to remind Christians that there is as much evidence for their god, as there is for unicorns, and that their lofty claims of “knowing” god exists, has no foundation or support. Likewise, the fact that there are competing gods and goddesses and hypotheses and interpretations, is again to illustrate to the Christians, that they can offer no more proof for Yahweh, than a unicornist can for unicorns, or the Greeks can for Zeus, or the Hindus can for Brahman, etc. This does not mean that no god exists, it just means that the Christians have not made their case that a god exists, and that god is their god, Yahweh.
As an Ignostic Atheist and pragmatist, I will go with the best explanation, which just happens to be the scientific explanation, because they do a better job in explaining the phenomena.



JW: I find it interesting you immediately dropped the argument about the Upanishads. Perhaps its another instance of sweeping assertions I’ve seen you make throughout your comments here (i.e. unable to back claims up, but perfectly willing to make them).
Your rebuttal here utterly misses the point of my own argument. As I pointed out, your “dilemma” is spurious at best, even were it true. I could parallel anything in the world with a similar argument. Yet by your reasoning we should therefore distrust everything. Should we therefore trust the reasoning that lead us to this point?
Finally, you keep saying that there is manuscript evidence for unicorns. Again, suppose I grant this rather silly claim (unicorns, after all, are a species of rhinoceros [check your dictionary/zoology]). Suppose I grant it in the case of the mythical creature.
Well now we’ve exposed yet another serious implicit assumption you’ve made without argument or evidence! Namely, you’ve assumed without argument that the Christian manuscripts match reality no more than the unicorn manuscripts! But that’s exactly what’s at issue in arguments like these. Simply quote mining from google books, as appears to be your methodology, doesn’t help much when we’re talking about real historical events. Those events recorded in the Bible either are or not real historical events. Yet we have archaeological evidence for many of the places, people, and even events in the Bible. Please present your own archaeological, paleontological, etc. evidence for the unicorn.
The bottom line is you’re making your argument with a bevvy of assumptions. This type of argumentation may work for internet atheists, but I intend to be more careful with my sources and argumentation. I already pointed out the fallacious nature of your dilemma in a previous comment. You’ve failed to even attempt to salvage it. I already pointed out an assumption you made regarding the Upanishads and Vedas, you failed to even mention that I’d dealt with it. I pointed out that your argument would undermine all experience. You simply ignored that.
I see little reason to let you keep using this as a platform to promote dogmatic, anti-intellectual atheism.



My response: One last note. Since you brought up the experience argument, we can use that in another example to illustrate what I just argued above. According to the experience argument, if I experience god, then god must exist. I experience god, therefore god exists. Now the Christian argues that they experience Yahweh and Jesus and therefore Yahweh and Jesus exists. But wait! The Hindus have experienced Brahman, and they claim via the experience argument, that Brahman is the supreme being–god. And so on…
Likewise, some people like the Emperor Fu Hsi, have experience unicorns, so via the experience argument, they too must exist! Some people have experienced pink flying elephants, so via the experience argument, they too must exist! This is the weakness of the experience argument, for a person may or may not have had an experience. They may have certain sensations of a phenomenon, even if that phenomenon does not exist. The main problem with the experience argument for Christians, if it were accepted, is that it would prove too much! i.e. that Brahman exists, unicorns exist, pink elephants exist, etc.



Your threat by stating that you have “little reason to let you (me) keep using this as a platform to promote dogmatic, anti-intellectual atheism.” is to be expected, since you cannot prove your case. It illustrates lack of honesty and how poor your scholarship really is. If you were a true scholar you would admit your mistake in regards to the unicorn argument. But your ego won’t let you.
To say that the Christian version is better, means that you would have to show that it is the best, and not just parallel to them. The Upanishads, the Chinese manuscript stand up to the same type of scrutiny that the bible does–if not better.
You said: “So tell me, does the philosophical nature of the Upanishads and Vedas (of which I’ve read only portions) parallel the historical nature of Judaism and Christianity? Note that the historical claim in the manuscripts about Jesus is the central core of Christianity. Does Hinduism rely upon a single historical truth claim in the Upanishads as deeply as the “people of the Book” do? ”
I did not think this was even worth responding to. As I pointed out, your claims are biased and prejudicial against other religions, without offering any evidence or support. Look up the historicity of the Upanishads and Vedic scriptures for yourself–it’s easy to do. Or are you afraid? The people mentioned, the places, the battles that took place in the Vedic scriptures, have as much or more historicity than the Judeo-Christian claims. I make no distinction between philosophy and religion. As a matter of fact, a religion that is more philosophically based would have a tendency to be better at explaining phenomena than the ones that are less philosophically based. But it is all “philosophy.” To try to distinguish Christianity as somehow non-philosophical shows how stupid it is in that you need to make the distinction to try to make it sound better.



JW: Cathy, I’ve already rebutted your claims. You’re making positive assertions like “all faiths have the same evidence.” Please provide evidence rather than saying “Go look it up! It’s there!” We both know that is not an argument, but an escape route.



My response: Saying that you rebutted the argument is not the same a rebutting the argument. You rebutted nothing. You said the unicorn argument had no reason behind it. I provided you with the plausible reason behind the unicorn argument. I also went further when you tried to ignore the argument by citing the use of “manuscripts” and showed that the unicorn even answers to your manuscript contention. Next I further showed that you can provide no better argument for the Christian god that can be given in similar fashion for the unicorn, and if not for the unicorn, then for other religions–none of which you rebutted.
If it were not for your bias and prejudice, you would not have listed the arguments for god’s existence as if they were for the Christian god exclusively, and I had to show you that they also apply to the gods of other religions. As a side note, the ontological argument even applies to the unicorn!
So in fact, your argument against the unicorn argument was rebutted. I provided a plausible reason, and similarly showed that the unicorn argument is a good correlation to the argument for god’s existence.



JW: Given that we’re just talking past each other at this point, I’ll let the reader decide for themselves which argument is better. We’ve seen that Cathy’s argument, as she says explicitly, is a dilemma which has two horns. To use her words: “The first prong says that if you provide evidence for the Christian god, the same type of evidence can be given for the unicorn. If it does not apply to the unicorn, it will apply to many other gods.”
To support the first horn of the dilemma, she searched google books and pointed out an instance in which unicorns are said to be good. This, she asserted, was equivalent to saying that God is good in the Bible.
To support the second horn, she argued that arguments for the existence of God can apply to many different gods.
My response to the first horn was to ask her to support what she called “manuscript evidence” for unicorns with any kind of historical, archaeological, scientific, etc. data. She failed to do anything, and literally her source for her argument was a search in google books. Contrast this with what I pointed out about the Christian Bible: it’s statements are corroborated by evidence found in archaeological digs which support names, persons, events, etc. (I never argued this was comprehensive–no picture of history would be comprehensive). Yet Cathy continued to insist that her Google books searches provided evidence for her argument. I leave it to the reader to decide whether they side with random searches on the internet, or with archaeological research over the past several hundred years.
In response to the second horn, I pointed out that most of the arguments for the existence of God could only support specific types of God. The cosmological argument (of the Leibnizian variety) could only support a necessarily existent deity. Anyone who does any kind of research about gods of the past would know many would not be ontologically necessary (they could be killed, for example). Other arguments could be brought forth to multiply problems with Cathy’s claims. Yet, in Cathy’s own words, her counter to my objection is, “If it were not for your bias and prejudice, you would not have listed the arguments for god’s existence as if they were for the Christian god exclusively, and I had to show you that they also apply to the gods of other religions.”
Further, I pointed out that I could grant Cathy’s dilemma and it would not undermine belief in God. The reason I provided was because we could make exactly parallel arguments about anything in experience. Cathy’s rebuttal to my counter-argument was “You rebutted nothing” along with some random argument against religious experience–which I never brought up.
So again I leave it to readers to decide. They can side with Cathy and simply use an ad hominem attack combined with a blatant misrepresentation of my view (I never argued that theistic arguments applied exclusively to other gods. I never denied that they could be used for other gods. I denied that this mattered whatsoever, given that I could parallel this type of argument with many others).
Or they can side with the arguments I’ve presented and not undermine belief in anything.



My response: First of all, I cited a legitimate manuscript that makes reference to historical and archeological “facts” Whether it is on “google” or not is neither here nor there. Even the bible is on google! I put the reference in the post, so that it readers could easily read a little background information themselves. The manuscript is an ancient Chinese text.
The name of the manuscript is the “Bamboo Annals,” a manuscript found in a Chinese prince’s grave in A.D. 281, and the emperor Fu Hsi became one of the most revered of all Chinese rulers, and there is a record in the Bamboo Books of the appearance of a unicorn at his palace in 2697 BC, shortly before his death.
Fu Hsi was the emperor that saw a Yellow dragon-horse, a kind of Qilin (unicorn) that emerged from the Luo He which is a tributary of the Huang He. This was around the year 2852 BCE. In that year, there was an eclipse of the sun which was also recorded, perhaps for the very first time, on April 23rd.
On the animal’s coat, Fu Hsi saw markings which he perceived as symbols of a written language.Some say this was the origin of Chinese calligraphy. However, he is at least credited with the discovery of the trigrams and invention of knotted cord records which led to written script.
The invention of the Qin (lyre) to Fu Hsi. who wished to harmonize mind-heart with the universe. By the late period iritual music. Its seven strings were tuned to the five pitches of the natural pentatonic scale.
It’s statements are corroborated by evidence found in archaeological digs which support names, persons, events, etc., and astrology.
Archaeologists have uncovered urban sites, bronze implements, and tombs that point to the possible existence of the Xia dynasty at locations cited in the Bamboo Annals, and other ancient Chinese texts. In 1959, a site located in the city of Yanshi was excavated containing large palaces which some archaeologists have identified as the capital of the Xia dynasty. Unlike the oracle bones of the Shang dynasty, there are no written records from the period to help confirm the Xia dynasty’s existence. Through the 1960s and 1970s, archaeologists have continued to uncovered urban sites, bronze implements, and tombs at locations linked to the Xia in ancient Chinese historical texts. At a minimum, the Xia dynasty seems to have marked an evolutionary stage between the late neolithic cultures and the later Chinese urban civilization of the Shang dynasty.
I hope that the majority of readers on your site are familiar with the issues and problems related to the questionable historicity of the bible.–so let’s just forgo that. Such questions can be raised for both manuscripts.
Religious prejudice is a terrible thing….and as Buddha would say, “The fool who thinks he is wise is just a fool. The fool who knows he is a fool is wise indeed.”
Religious prejudice also makes one blind. Wartick, in his prejudicial religious zeal, has provided us with an ontological argument against the trinity, and Jesus being god. Wartick wrote:
“In response to the second horn, I pointed out that most of the arguments for the existence of God could only support specific types of God. The cosmological argument (of the Leibnizian variety) could only support a necessarily existent deity. Anyone who does any kind of research about gods of the past would know many would not be ontologically necessary (they could be killed, for example). Other arguments could be brought forth to multiply problems with Cathy’s claims.”
Wartick points out the cosmological argument (of the Leibnizian variety) could only support a necessarily existent deity, in which case, such a deity would be immortal, Which Wartick seems to think goes against non-Christian gods that could be killed. But note, according to Christianity, Jesus was “killed” on the cross! So let’s set out Wartick’s claim logically.
Let us assume the cosmological argument from contingency (of the Leibnizian variety) is valid and sound and that Wartick is correct that it could only support a necessarily existent deity if and only if that deity is ontologically necessary (could not be killed).
If Jesus was killed on the cross, then he would not be ontologically necessary.
Jesus was killed on the cross.
Therefore, Jesus is not ontologically necessary.
If Jesus is not ontologically necessary (He was killed on the cross), then the cosmological argument of the Leibnizian variety proves that Jesus is not God.
This is absurd for Wartick, since he claims that Jesus is God. The only move open for Wartick is to reply that Jesus was resurrected–but so was Dionysius, Quetzalcoatl, Krishna, and others.
So if we accept the cosmological argument from contingency of the Leibnizian variety, then Jesus is not god. If we accept the resurrection move, then the cosmological argument would not only work for Jesus, it would work for Dionysius, Quetzalcoatl, Krishna, and others.
So, Wartick’s attempt with the cosmological argument from contingency (of the Leibnizian variety) fails to show that most of the arguments for the existence of God could only support specific types of God, and we know he means the Abrahamic gods, because if he doesn’t, it would be a refutation of the claim that their god is the only god in the first place, which would be a moot point–Foiled again–you are welcome to try again though.
Wartick went on to say:
“Further, I pointed out that I could grant Cathy’s dilemma and it would not undermine belief in God. The reason I provided was because we could make exactly parallel arguments about anything in experience.”
I already pointed out above that I made no such claim:
“As I mentioned before, I am an Ignostic Atheist, and a Peircian pragmatist, but I am not a relativist. While there may be many hypotheses and interpretations, and while everything may be seen from different perspectives, and everything is theory laden, some hypotheses and interpretations are better than others.
The fact that there are competing or contrary hypotheses and interpretations does not mean there is no objectivity.” –I have provided a better interpretation and explanation of the unicorn argument than you.
You can not grant my dilemma , as to do so would mean that it does not undermine belief in the Christian God, or the Hindu God, or many other Gods and Goddesses, and/or the unicorn.–all of which would undermine the Christian claim that their God in the one and only God.
Here is Wartick’s actual argument from experience, as stated from above:
“Very well, let’s consider my belief that my experience is real.
Well the evidence that my belief is real can be evidence either for the supposition that my experiences are real or evidence that I am a brain in a vat. Yet surely I am justified in taking it as a given that what I experience is real.”
Likewise, Fu Hsi is surely justified in taking it as a given that what he experienced is real, i.e., his experience of the unicorn was real; the Hindu’s experiences of Krishna are real, the Greek experiences of Dionysus are real, etc.–foiled again. Your experience argument does no work.
This post concerns whether or not the unicorn argument provides reasons, as opposed to just an emotional appeal. I have argued successfully and I provided a plausible reason, and similarly showed that the unicorn argument is a good correlation to the argument for god’s existence. The strength of the unicorn correlation is to remind Christians that there is as much evidence for their god, as there is for unicorns, and that their lofty claims of “knowing” god exists, has no foundation or support. Likewise, the fact that there are competing gods and goddesses and hypotheses and interpretations, is again to illustrate to the Christians, that they can offer no more proof for Yahweh, than a unicornist can for unicorns, or the Greeks can for Zeus, or the Hindus can for Brahman, etc. This does not mean that no god exists, it just means that the Christians have not made their case that a god exists, and that god is their god, Yahweh.



JW: I often have difficulty figuring out if you are intentionally misreading my arguments or just oblivious. For example, you wrote that I argued against Jesus because of my counter example of gods who could be killed. I hesitate to point out the obvious, but I feel your argument forces me to do so: these other gods literally stopped existing. Nowhere in Christian orthodoxy does anyone suggest Jesus’ death means his nonexistence. I summarily dismiss your wrongheaded argument.
Again, a mispotrayal of my argument occurs in the argument from experience. I was not making an argument for theism based on that (though I do elsewhere). I was pointing out that your own arguments undermine experience. I therefore summarily dismiss that wrongheaded argument.
I’m going to ignore your other arguments because they’re just repetitions of previous ones. I already made my conclusion above, in which I showed readers the logical errors in your argument, which you continue to make. Your dilemma proves too much. It can be used against everything. Therefore, I dismiss it.
As far as unicorns go. I hope that my readers can mostly figure this out for themselves, but unicorn is literally a variety of rhinoceros. Look it up in your dictionary (rhinoceros unicornis).
You utilize caps lock to make points, repeat points to absurdity, and then claim that you’ve defeated my arguments. I specifically showed the flaw in your dilemma (namely that it undermines all belief) and you’ve not even attempted to answer it. This demonstrates once more that there is an immunity to rational arguments built in to your style.
Readers, look through the comments and note Cathy’s argument. I provided a lengthy response to it in which I broke the dilemma down. I granted her points, and then I showed that they lead to absurdity. Has she responded to this, at all? No. She’s merely repeated the arguments. This will be the end of her repetitions.



MY RESPONSE THAT HE DID NOT POST:
I gather that you know that I set your argument out correctly and showed how ridiculous your claims are, which is why you did not post my last response, which I have repeated below. You want your readers to think that you are correct, instead of just "manning up" and admitting your mistake. Your intellectual dishonesty is pathetic. If you want to redeem yourself, post this, and answer to it. Your best answer would be to admit that you made a mistake. At any rate, I will be writing a post related to our conversation (yes, I take pictures of everything--even the things I write that you do not post out of fear--and for no other reason!) I am making reference to your claim about the consmological argument and what you claimed about it someone dies, they cannot be god.



Here is my last posting, that you refused to post.--Post it if you dare....;)
The other gods I mentioned (Dionysus, Quetzalcoatl, Krishna) died and were resurrected. According to the bible and Christianity, Jesus DIED on the cross. Either he was dead or he was NOT dead. If Jesus could be killed, then according to what you wrote, he could not be a god. If he could not be killed, and he did not die on the cross, then his pretend "death" would have been meaningless. If you do not think that Jesus' death meant his nonexistence, what makes you think the death of Krishna, Dionysus and Quetzalcoatl means their nonexistence?--oh yes, that's right, your religious prejudice.

I won't repeat my pragmatic position again, but nothing I said undermines experiences, and what you said about experiences applies to Hindus who experienced Krishna, Greeks who experienced Dionysus, and Mexicans who experienced Quetzalcoatl.

You cannot just "dismiss" arguments. You must show that they are invalid, not sound, provide a counter argument, or show that they are weak (in the case of inductive arguments) You have failed on all accounts. Your "mere assertions" do not change the fact that your arguments hold no water.

You cannot just "ignore" arguments and hope they disappear like magic. You have not shown any logical errors in my arguments, and my dilemma arguments cannot be used against everything. It can be used to do what it was intended to do--to show the strength of the unicorn argument, and shows that you cannot provide any more proof for the Christian god, than the Greeks can for Dionysus, and the Hindus for Krisha, and many other gods. It cannot be used against the claim that Obama is the president of the United States right now--see how easily your claim is refuted. I didn't just dismiss your argument, I provided you with a legitimate counter argument.

According to Fu Hsi, in the Bamboo Annals, unicorns are not rhinoceroses, and they rule from heaven, and they never use their horn for evil, and they bring good to humans.

My dilemma argument does not undermine all beliefs--just the ones implied by your arguments, which I have already refuted. It does not for instance, undermine the fact that Obama is the president of the United States right now.

Lastly, your emotional appeal to your readers is neither here nor there. I say to all--reread the above arguments carefully. If you do not understand logic and argumentation, please read and study an Intro to Logic text. Take each argument and set them out on paper and go over the pros and cons.

It ought to be clear to you that Wartick's claim that the unicorn argument provides no reason, and is just an emotional appeal, was refuted. This is why over the past post, he has stayed away from the conclusion he drew in his original unicorn argument. He has not mentioned it in his postings against me in quite some time. That is because he knows his argument has been refuted, and that is why he keeps trying to put forth weak red herrings, and stays away from his original conclusion. I have argued successfully and I provided a plausible reason, and similarly showed that the unicorn argument is a good correlation to the argument for god’s existence. The strength of the unicorn correlation is to remind Christians that there is as much evidence for their god, as there is for unicorns, and that their lofty claims of “knowing” god exists, has no foundation or support. Likewise, the fact that there are competing gods and goddesses and hypotheses and interpretations, is again to illustrate to the Christians, that they can offer no more proof for Yahweh, than a unicornist can for unicorns, or the Greeks can for Zeus, or the Hindus can for Brahman, etc. 

In conclusion, JW Wartick has a lot to learn--about honesty, integrity, and how to argue effectively.

























1 comment:

  1. Wow , That post was Awesome Cathy ! I ave found myself making the same logical appeals. The truth is they are so much easier then a logical construct that will lose many in the details ,and most people just are not smart enough to follow a line of reason to it's Logical conclusions . People are lazy they want quick one liners,and snappy comebacks. The topic of faith has degenerated to the equivlient of two retared kids arguing over who's invisable ,magical best pal is more powerful.While we Atheist mock them.Thanks for the free class Professor ! I wish I could sit in on one of your lectures. Take care Cathy C.sbj1964

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