THE CATHOLIC HTOWNER:
Over the last few days, I've realized that I've argued with atheists for now over 6 years. While one is bound to hear a few arguments over and over, I've also noticed some claims atheists used to tout but no longer do. If this was a simple matter of adjusting the claim based on new information, that would be one thing, but as far as I can tell, these arguments have pretty much disappeared from atheists' Borg-like collection of tricks.
I am not saying we will never hear these arguments ever again; after all, several of the New Atheism's arguments are just repackaged old ideas that didn't work the first time they were touted and besides, "there's nothing new under the sun."(Ecc 1:9).
Having said that, here are the ones I've gone the longest without hearing with a brief reason why I think I'm not coming across them anymore.
1. "Bart Ehrman said..."
For those not familiar with the name, Bart Ehrman is a religious studies professor out of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill who in the early 2000s gained attention by writing a series of books claiming to raise skepticism towards what the Bible claims about Jesus.
Why do they not use him now? In 2012, he came out with another book that destroys one key pillar of atheism...saying Jesus is a myth or a combination of other people. In a follow-up 2013 article, Ehrman wrote:
These views are so extreme and so unconvincing to 99.99 percent of the real experts that anyone holding them is as likely to get a teaching job in an established department of religion as a six-day creationist is likely to land on in a bona fide department of biology.
2. "Atheists don't gather to worship nothing."
This was a lame attempt used by atheists at one point to try to show atheism isn't a religion or has nothing to do with what people associate with religion.
Why don't they use it now? Because atheist groups have held a pro-atheist rally not once but twice, the second one being in 2016.
But perhaps they were referring to atheists gathering together to not worship something. If that's the case, it's still wrong.
3. "Europe is much better than America and it's thanks to giving up religion."
The notion here centers around Europe not worshipping at the level Americans do, or going to church services as much as Americans, or having prayer practices as high as Americans.
It's obvious why atheists don't use this anymore: Europe is being overrun by Muslims, native Europeans don't have birth rates as high as immigrant populations, said Muslims keep committing terrorist acts, and even one European prime minister even admitted multiculturalism just doesn't work.
4. "Atheists don't blow up buildings."
Yeah, this is a tasteless reference to the 9-11 attacks;it stupidly associates the actions of one faith and concludes all religions are guilty by association.
Why not keep using this? Because it took no time at all to point out atheists did blow up a cathedral in Russia under Stalin...and yes, it was done out of hatred for religion.
5. "Priests rape children."
To be fair, this did have a very brief revival around the release of the film Spotlight, and indeed some priests were found guilty of the charges...
this sound bite fell out of favor--I think--after statistical research found priests were LESS likely to molest children than a child's family member. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Stanford University School of Medicine and even the Department of Education all admit the problem of sexual abuse of minors is found in other places. The D of E even published a study that found child molestation in public schools is a 100 times worse than it is the Catholic Church.
Furthermore, the statement tries tricking you into thinking atheists care about children...but the reality seems to be if the molester promotes secularism, then atheists are fine with them raping as many children as they want.
6. "If atheists left America, you'd lose 0.2% of prison inmates but 93% of scientists."
The percentages vary depending on version heard but the point comes down to atheists claiming they are not in prison as much as Christians but "are super smart people and to be smart, you'll have to be atheist too."
You don't hear about this one anymore because neither one are credible figures.
In the former case, atheists claim the number came from an FBI study on inmate religious affiliation.
Big problem with that claim: the FBI DOESN'T ask inmates about religious beliefs and never has.
The latter number came from a survey given to members of the National Academy of Scientists.
Let's ignore for a moment the vast majority of scientists AREN'T members of the NAS, and let's instead focus on the fact the executive director of the National Center for Science Education once came forward and blasted the study for not being well enough designed to figure out the the religious preferences of much of anybody.
7. "Most scientists are atheists."
Again, let's ignore for a moment the person saying this probably isn't a scientist (but to be fair, the person this is directed to probably isn't either), and let's instead look at the narrative this notion feeds...that being, science and religion are in constant conflict. Surveys have now concluded the majority of scientists are religious and the majority see no conflict between science and religion.
8. "Atheists are smarter than theists."
I remember atheists using this one a few times but apart from the occasional fallacy name drop in its original Latin, I can't for the life of me recall anything an atheist said that didn't come off like they were talking out of their backside.
Why don't you hear this anymore? Because the study that serves as the claim's source came under so many attacks that there's no way to take it seriously today. The most accurate number says the rise in IQ is at best 6 points higher...not significant enough to actually matter. If you do think it matters, then answer me this:
-How come the US is considered a key exception to the study, being highly religious and highly intelligent?
-If you don't consider the US intelligent, how do you explain it getting the same IQ score as France?
-Do you consider it smart for a nation to have taxpayer funded welfare but discourage its citizens from having kids? If you do think it's smart, would you kindly in your "advanced atheist wisdom" explain to me how that would work? If you don't think it's smart, wouldn't that disqualify the majority of high IQ countries from being called smart?
- How do you answer the objection that the higher IQ scores were from having more advanced infrastructures...a trait that has nothing to do with IQ?
9. "The only difference between religion and cults are the number of adherents."
Yeah, the flaws on this one became obvious right from the start. Ignoring for a moment no set number was ever given that distinguishes a cult from a religion, cult experts were also quick to point out quite number of differences between the two.
I've found atheists use these to imply religions discourage independent thought, but anyone familiar with the Church Fathers or any given Christian philosopher knows what a crock that is.
10. Why not a flying spaghetti monster/celestial teapot/invisible unicorn/dragon in my garage?
I've decided to lump these four together because while all four have different names, they all supposedly try to prove religious claims are equally foolish because they can't be verified much like these four.
Think about it: if someone told you there was an invisible teapot or a dragon in their garage, you would either reject it or ask for proof. If you reject it, why? Mostly because it doesn't fit into your perception of those objects. If you did ask for proof, you'd ask for photos, or a way to touch it...means used to test physical objects, in other words.
That's why atheists know deep down their argument doesn't work:
-You can't use something whose existence most people don't accept to refute the existence of something most do accept.
-It tries but fails to refute God not existing by physical means...even though no one ever said God can be known by physical means.
11. "We'll let the experts decide."
Unlike the others, this one appears to make sense: after all, experts are supposed to be smarter than average people and thus their conclusion should be believed.
Why atheists don't use this all depends on whether the atheist saying this tout themselves as the expert and the plethora of questions that must be asked.
If they do tout themselves as the expert, what makes them the expert? Do they have degrees in any related field? Are their findings accepted by anyone in respective fields? Have their conclusions passed peer review? Regardless of how they answered, shouldn't we view this attempt as at best obvious bias and at the very least being self-serving?
If they are in fact not touting themselves as the expert, who are they citing as the experts? Are these so-called experts taken seriously? Are their notions widely accepted? If they're not taken seriously, why bother citing them?
Then again, this was first used because atheists were under the assumption experts agree with the atheist position, but when it later turned out the experts didn't agree, atheists touted several pathetic excuses. It didn't matter if it was saying "the person isn't a real expert", or "one person doesn't make the case for the majority view," or "that person is obviously biased".
It doesn't matter because it was the view of the person educated in the field touting a conclusion reached by mutual consensus of their respective peers. It's an exception to the "argument from authority" fallacy; any textbook on logic can confirm this exception.
12. "Religion is just wish-fulfillment."
We're going back quite a bit with this one, though in an odd twist, it seems like the same argument atheists use time and again. In fact, I doubt whether I should go too much into it, with all the mistakes being so obvious.
Instead, I will point out that since this idea originated with Freud, I submit that atheism itself is Oedipal in nature, but rather than killing the father to have relations with the mother, atheism instead wishes for the death of a heavenly father in order to have a life with no consequences.
And isn't that nothing more than a wish...and an idiotic one at that?