Tuesday, February 24, 2009

We get email

I imagine everybody's good and fatigued by two solid weeks of playing philosophical word games with professional word gamers, so let's dial it back and enjoy a more typical theist email.

You don't get the full effect of these two messages by "J" (full name withheld by me) because they originally arrived as giant unbroken paragraphs, and I'll be breaking them up in order to respond.

hey , while you're so busy trying to get people to prove the existence of God to you on your little low budget talk show, why not prove to us that God does not exist. you can't can you? it's called a stalemate. there is no way for either side to prove anything concerning the subject.

Perhaps you have misunderstood the meaning of the word "atheism." What it means is that we don't believe in the existence of any gods, not that we regard it as a certainty. I also don't believe in, for example, Spider-Man – but I would never claim to conclusively prove that he doesn't exists.

Do you believe in Spider-Man?

i know he exist because of the things i prayed for and other thing i have seen in my life. i have a bulging disc in my lower back which pressed relentlessly against my sciatic nerve. it caused me pain every single hour of everyday for months. i tried multiple medicines, physical therapy, and hot/cold compresses. nothing worked for long. one day my mother convinced me to get prayed for by my sister who had just gotten saved. {laugh if you like} my sister prayed for me over the phone from beaumont, tx to seattle, wa long distance and the very next day all that excruciating pain was gone. you could say it was all a coincidence or it would have stopped on it's own that day anyway. you could also say what my atheist buddy travis said and claim it was the power of positive thinking. whatever. all i know is the day after i got prayed for, after MONTHS of severe pain, it was gone.

There are two fallacies in this argument. One is known as "post hoc ergo propter hoc." Just because one event happened after another event, it does not follow that one caused the other. People experience severe pain all the time, and that pain goes away all the time. People pray all the time. Odds are very high that at some point, somebody who will be praying for their pain to go away and it will go away shortly afterwards. Odds are also high that many people pray for pain to go away and it doesn't.

This leads to the other fallacy, which is called confirmation bias. When you pray for something and it happens, it looks like the prayer did the job. When you pray for something and it doesn't happen, you can dismiss it as not praying hard enough, or "It wasn't God's will." When something good happens without your prayer, you don't notice it. Thus, if you already believe in prayer, then of course your belief is confirmed over time.

the things in this world are to perfectly planned out for it all to be a result of some random asteroid crashing into earth while it was still in it's molten stage and cooling. to perfectly organized for humans to derive from sea sludge to reptile to ape to man. male and female; the ability to mate and reproduce. all random, right?

No. These things are enabled through regular behavior by natural patterns, which makes matter behave in a non-random way. Undirected, but that isn't the same thing.

a woman's clitoris being a focal point of extreme pleasure and the underside near the head of a mans penis being his is all a huge case of random coincidences. i guess our genitalia evolved to experience pleasure. couldn't be because God wanted us to experience these sensations to make us happy and strengthen the bond with your mate while we reproduce.

Look, I um...



Did you seriously just present the clitoris as proof of God? I uh...

I have to confess that's a new one on me. For once, I'm completely speechless.

i could give you example after example, but i know it would not convince a mind as closed as yours. all i can say to you if you desire proof is. die. after that, you and every proud, arrogant, and uplifted human who thinks so highly of themselves will know there is a God. However, it will be a pointless revelation while you are burning.

Nice. When your arguments are this ineffective, I suppose threatening people with imaginary torture is one kind of backup plan. Not a GOOD backup plan, mind you. The clitoris was better, I think.

i guess making yourself feel better by just erasing God from your existence is the thing to do since you will have no restriction on taking part in whatever hedonistic behavior you desire. do you have any idea of the types of thing i would do if i didn't believe in God. i'm bi-polar with an extremely bad temper. if i didn't have God to keep me in check i know i would hurt anyone who pissed me off and kill anyone who did anything bad enough for me to want to kill them. and screw the police since i would not care about jail or the death penalty because there is no after-life. right? i'd probably kill myself afterwards anyway just to prevent them from locking me up.

It's always fascinating to learn what kind of crazy psychopaths are drawn to Christianity. You set a shining example for your religion to live up to, buddy, I can tell you that.

i'd just be going back to the dust right? no judgement. no heaven or hell. point is, what's the meaning of anything if God is not involved in the lives of earth's inhabitants? sorry this email is so long.

i'm j**** by the way.

Nice to meet you, J. I don't think I'll be getting together with you for coffee anytime soon. You might want to talk to a decent psychiatrist about that angst you're feeling... it doesn't sound like the religion is cheering you up much.

That was just one of the two messages. The second is just as bad, but I'm not in the mood anymore.


  1. Do I understand J correctly? Before he knew that God existed (presumably thanks to the Miracle of the Pain Relief), he went around hurting and killing people?

  2. I prefer the clitoris argument over the eye argument, because, as far as I know, the development of the eye can be proved rather easily, while I don't think I've ever heard the evolutionary proof of the pleasure in sex.

    Huh. Well, good read nonetheless.

  3. "but..."

    Is that a cliffhanger?

  4. Actually, there are many hypothesis on the evolution of pleasure and sex (and things like male and female orgasm), but the one I hear most has to do with the pleasurable sensation producing more sex (thus a better chance of conception) and an increase in pair-bonding. I know chimpanzees have been shown to have pleasure at sex so we are not the only animal like this.

    I too am curious about the hanging but....

  5. I'm gonna paraphrase something I've heard on the AE before. If the only thing keeping J from murdering and beating up people is the presence of a god, then I'm all for his delusion.
    The thing is, considering the combative nature of his letter, it wouldn't be surprising he he did haul off and wail on an atheist. He can just pray for forgiveness after all.

  6. Thanks for breaking it up into bite-sized paragraphs! It's always an eye-opener to read these types of e-mails, but crazy theists tend to be fond of run-on sentences and paragraphs, which make it a nightmare to wade through.

    I'm not sure what his rationale behind the "If I didn't believe in an afterlife, I wouldn't be afraid of jail" line is. As somebody who doesn't buy into an afterlife, I don't want to spend the one life I have rotting in a cell. But hey, that's just me.

  7. This is a perfect candidate for the Fundies Say the Darndest Things website.

    Even though it's an e mail and not a blog or message board post, can we hold out the possibility of POE here?
    I mean, J**** didn't just give us one or two standard knee-jerk anti-atheist talking points, he hit for the cycle. It maybe more appropriate to look through this again and determine how many typical lines of BS he didn't throw out.

  8. There should be a page devoted to the clitoris argument on iron chariots.It is truly the atheist stumper of the century.

    I'll stop there before my head explodes from sarcasm

  9. The shape of a banana as proof of god has nothing on the argument from the clitoris. That is alsolutely classic, can it really be serious?

  10. You need to make a section on your site for "Hate" mail or something.

  11. Yes, a hate mail area could provide us all with hours of fun in between shows and would require very little effort from you guys (simply copy and paste!)

    I tried looking for the clitroris argument on Iron Chariots...... but I couldn't find it ;)

  12. @Badger3k

    Actually, I was thinking about that, but came to the conclusion that sex doesn't need to be pleasurable. It's already an instinct, so I was curious what evolutionary purpose that extension of sorts had, but I suppose you answered it.


  13. I was always taught that talking about the clitoris makes baby Jesus cry.

  14. CausalListener:

    Nothing NEEDS to be pleasurable, but pleasure is one incentive that our bodies have for engaging in productive behaviors. It feels good to eat. It feels bad to be hungry. It feels bad to get hit on the head. It feels good when you stop getting hit on the head. Etc.

    Sex is one of those behaviors that you need to survive. Or more importantly, that your genes need. You exist today only because your ancestors desired sex and sought it out. The fact that sex feels good is a relic of the fact that your nervous system adapted to replicated itself, and doing the nasty as often as possible is one component of a larger strategy for survival and replication.

  15. Stephen Gould once wrote an article in which he dealt with some of the suggestion re: the evolution of the clitoris. His take on it was that it didn't evolve for a purpose in itself; it's an analog to the penis, a sort of fortunate evolutionary byproduct.

    I knew God couldn't possibly be that generous.

  16. An intelligent designer would not put the playground so close to the sewage works.

  17. People like this guy always leave me feeling like for once I actually DON'T want to debate the existence of god with theists anymore. That is...if they genuinely think they would go nuts and start raping and killing if they lost their faith...I actually find myself wanting to do a complete turn around and make SURE that they maintain their faith.

  18. Actually I thought the troublesome position of the clit was an argument against ID. Couldn't those nerves be better placed.

  19. @Our life together

    Like where?

  20. Kazim:

    Thanks! Ya' learn something new everyday.

    Now, why couldn't my high school teach the way you do. Innuendo and all! :P

  21. My, what low self esteem. None of them capitalize their "I"s, it's always "i know he exist", "i guess our genitalia", "i could give", etc.

  22. Angry Atheist: @Our life together

    Like where?

    Someplace where it was sure to get sustained stimulation for the majority of women. Quite a lot of women (I hesitate to say a majority without some hard numbers) don't get enough stimulation on the clitoris during vaginal intercourse to reach climax. This is part of why there is such a market for vibrators, french ticklers, vibrating cock rings, and 'putting your hand down there.'

  23. we really need to get some joke/sarcasm icons on here

  24. Jared Diamond is a kick-ass writer. "Guns, Germs and Steel" is required reading for every thinking person. I also read half of "Collapse" but had to quit when it got too depressing.

  25. Please tell me theists will start saying "look at the clit" instead of "look at the trees".

    They'd get more attention that way.

  26. Angry Atheist: we really need to get some joke/sarcasm icons on here

    I would have responded the same way, but it would have been funnier. You know, in a Cousin Balky sort of way. I think.

    Stronger Now: Please tell me theists will start saying "look at the clit" instead of "look at the trees".

    They'd get more attention that way.

    So would the clit. Finally, feminists and fundies have a common cause!

  27. TomF.,

    How do you know I wasn't referring to clits getting more attention?

  28. Of COURSE the clitoris is proof of God...

    "Oh God... Oh God!... OH GOD!"

    You never hear, "Oh Darwin" do you?

    I thought not!



PLEASE NOTE: The Atheist Experience has moved to a new location, and this blog is now closed to comments. To participate in future discussions, please visit http://www.freethoughtblogs.com/axp.

This blog encourages believers who disagree with us to comment. However, anonymous comments are disallowed to weed out cowardly flamers who hide behind anonymity. Commenters will only be banned when they've demonstrated they're nothing more than trolls whose behavior is intentionally offensive to the blog's readership.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.