Tag Archives: evidence

No Evidence For Jesus

I know I just wrote an article about this, but this happens to be an ongoing debate and I find it absolutely hysterical how it’s going down.  I argued that we don’t have any actual evidence for the existence of Jesus and watched the Christians come out of the woodwork screaming that there was.

Oh yeah?  Present it.  Let’s see this evidence.  And the most common thing that came up was that there was a consensus of historians that Jesus was real.  Other than appealing to authority, that doesn’t actually tell us why these historians hold that position.  It doesn’t actually present the evidence.  This is something I’ve seen time and time again.  In fact, all of the people who claim there is evidence can do no more than link to other people who claim there is evidence.  Nobody actually gets around to presenting the actual evidence they claim to have!  Someone believing that there is evidence is not evidence in and of itself.

Jerry Coyne had an article recently over on his blog on this very thing, that Peter Nothnagle has argued that not only is there no actual evidence, there’s no reason to take people who argue that there is evidence seriously.

So my challenge is this:  come up with a single piece of contemporary, demonstrably eyewitness evidence, a single account of a real historical Jesus, not the mythic creation that appears in the Bible.  Just one.  That’s all I’m asking.  Of course, I already know none exists, but watching Christians try to twist and contort their way into this imaginary evidence is amusing.  I really have no horse in this race because I have no problem thinking that there may have been one or more people upon whom the myth of Jesus was posthumously draped, but thinking it’s likely isn’t evidence either.  I just love watching the delusional squirm.  And squirm they do.

Theists Have Nothing

I’m sure this is something that every atheist who ever takes on religion has seen, but it  still pisses me off every single time it comes up, as it has a couple of times recently.  You know, the theists who say “we have evidence, we’re just not going to show it to you because you’ll refuse to see it!”  This recently happened over on my YouTube channel, where a theist popped into one of my videos, spouted all kinds of insults and when I told him to present his evidence, he said “I will, I promise, but first answer all of my questions” and when I did, he just deleted all of his comments and ran away.  I wish I could say I was surprised.

This is closely related to the other theist statement, “I don’t have to prove anything to you, I feel God in my life all the time!” Well how the hell do you know that?  You simply identify something in your life as God, you haven’t objectively determined if it actually is this God thing that you worship, you just assert it.  And as I’ve asked for years, and gotten no credible response, how do they actually know that this thing they supposedly experience is their god and not the devil of a competing pantheon, sent to lead them astray?  What tests have they actually performed to know that this isn’t the case?  None, of course.

And while they’re right, they don’t have to prove anything to anyone, there is no law requiring them to trot out their proof, that doesn’t mean that if they can’t or won’t do so, they won’t look like idiots.  Try to imagine how scientists would be viewed if they did the same thing.  “We can prove that our scientific hypothesis works but we don’t want to.  Na na na na boo boo!”  They’d be laughed out of the scientific establishment, as well they should be.

But theists really don’t care.  Their beliefs are emotional, not intellectual.  They believe things without evidence because it makes them feel good to do so.  And when someone points this simple fact out, they double down on blind faith because they have backed themselves into a corner.  They cannot admit to themselves that they have acted irrationally, they have to keep clinging desperately to that faith because without that, they have nothing.

Maybe that’s just the truth though. They have nothing.  Nothing at all.

Theists Don’t Know What Evidence Is

Honestly, the religious really are stupid.  Have you ever asked a theist for evidence for the existence of their god and they will throw all kinds of entirely unrelated nonsense at you that really has nothing to do with what you asked for?  It’s happened a lot lately, I think they realize they have nothing at all to offer but they have to do something or look like complete fools.

One Mormon, responding to my request, claimed that the Book of Mormon mentioned the Egyptian name Ammon a lot. Ammon is the most common ancient Egyptian name.  Therefore… GOD!  Uh… what?  Yeah, it is as stupid as it sounds.  The problem is, that isn’t answering the question that was asked at all.  Even if you are going to say that something gave Joseph Smith that information, how do you know it was God?  How do you know it wasn’t aliens or something else?  Leprechauns perhaps?  I’m asking about the existence of God and unless you can draw a direct and demonstrable causal link between God and your supposed event, you’re not addressing the question one bit.

I suspect that theists understand this, consciously or otherwise, and are simply trying to avoid looking foolish when they have nothing at all to present.  Instead, they make claims that have nothing at all to do with the existence of God and just make an irrational leap from that claim to God being real.  They also don’t like having this pointed out, as our Mormon friend did. The second I didn’t take his argument about the Book of Mormon seriously, he got pissy and took a quick powder, tossing some insults along behind him.  Apologists hate being caught with their theological pants down, I guess.  You either get unrelated arguments or the claim that if you can’t prove them wrong, they don’t have to prove themselves right.

It’s times like this that I shake my head, chuckle to myself and leave them to their self-imposed ignorance, knowing that everyone watching is either equally as deluded as they are, or has realized that their emperor is standing stark naked.  Either way, I win.

I’m Right Because I’m Right

Lots of people out there who are actually offended that anyone disagrees with them, to the point of calling anyone who opposes their point of view abusive.  Disagreement isn’t abuse, it isn’t offensive and so long as it isn’t done in an insulting way, you shouldn’t feel bad about it.  In fact, if you do feel bad that someone challenges your beliefs, then your beliefs are pretty poorly supported out of the gate.  Saying “I’m right” doesn’t make you right.  You have to prove that you actually are.

Let’s be honest, you are only correct on any particular subject if you are actually correct and the only way to demonstrate that you are actually correct is to have some kind of objective evidence of critically evaluated reasoning to back you up. If you have that, you ought to be able to present it to all challengers in order to convince them that you’re actually correct in your assertions.  If you cannot, then you have no good reason to think you’re right in the first place.  If your evidence does not convince your detractors and they can point out logical fallacies and failures, then you need to go back to the drawing board. Of course, we all know this isn’t how it works in many cases.  People get emotionally attached to their opinions and really couldn’t care less if they are objectively correct or not.  It makes them feel good, therefore they have to be right.  There are any number of examples that I could give, of course, but I wanted to limit it to just a few.

Religion is probably the biggest one that comes to mind.  The overwhelming majority of religious adherents are emotionally attached to their beliefs, such that even daring to question them results in a serious emotional reaction, not a rational one. Most religious people cannot step back and evaluate their beliefs critically, they are not able to doubt that what they believe is true, they just have to have blind faith because to do otherwise causes emotional pain and suffering.  That’s why you really can’t argue with the majority of religious believers because they cannot even imagine being wrong, it isn’t even a remote possibility for them, they are fundamentally convinced, not by reason or logic or evidence, but by feelings.  It makes them feel good. That’s all they care about.

Then we get to the other end of the spectrum with feminism.  Feminism is rarely associated with religion but it looks an awful lot like it.  Modern feminists, particularly third and fourth wave feminists, are really indistinguishable from the religious in their faith.  They believe the things they believe because they are emotionally invested in believing them.  It doesn’t matter if they are true or not, it doesn’t matter if they have any evidence to support the craziness like the patriarchy and the gender wage gap, they just have to be true because their entire ideology depends on it and there is no point in challenging them on it because disagreeing, to them, is the same as “raping” them, which is idiotic in and of itself.  The same is true of other fanatical beliefs, like some of the more extremist libertarians who follow essentially the same path, they believe what they believe and anyone who doesn’t agree is the enemy.

Just to show you that this is ridiculously widespread and not necessarily politically connected, I wrote a review on my other blog about this season of Dominion where I pretty much panned it, said I was done watching it and, if there’s any justice in the world, it would be cancelled (and it was).  I gave my reasons why I thought it was an actively bad show.  The responses I got were just mindless insults, both on the blog, on Facebook, on Google+, etc.  Nobody could be bothered to explain why they liked it, why they thought I was wrong, or to defend the show against my charges, they could only say “you suck” and “you’re a hater” and other mindless crap like that.  There’s no conversation to be had with people like that, they cannot be reasoned with, they are right and everyone else is wrong, so there, fuck you.

But how can anyone actually discuss their positions, regardless of what those positions are, if they are unwilling to even examine or think about what they already believe?  How can they find out if they are wrong if they won’t listen to the criticism leveled against them?  Simply put, they don’t care and in not caring, they have excused themselves from any form or rational conversation.  There was a time that I wasted a lot of time on debating abortion and creationism and all of that, but no longer, because it doesn’t actually accomplish anything.  Nobody will change their minds.  Nobody will listen to the arguments.  Nobody will look at the evidence.  In the end, you’ve just wasted your time and the other party leaves even more self-assured that they were right all along.  What’s the point in that?

Lacking Credible Evidence

I’ve been having a discussion with a theist recently, but it takes a very long time because I keep having to take breaks because otherwise, I’d have to get to a hospital with a concussion from whacking my head on the desk over and over again.  See, this theist insists they have evidence for the supernatural.  They are some kind of vague eastern mystic type of theist, they don’t believe in any specific gods, just some kind of weird woo-woo nonsense.  But he has evidence, really!

What kind of evidence, you might ask?  Well supposed eyewitness testimony!  There are tons of people who make all kinds of unsupported claims about the supernatural, that many people just can’t possibly be wrong!  Therefore, he has evidence that his beliefs must  be true!

Of course, he refuses to even identify his specific beliefs, I haven’t the slightest clue what kind of vague eastern mysticism he buys into and it could be anything at all.  Heck, I ran into someone recently who literally believes that Thor is real, so I’m not ruling anything out.  But of course, he isn’t just talking about people who believe his specific kind of woo is real, he means *ANY* kind of spiritual claim.  Someone believes in ghosts?  It’s evidence for his cause!  Someone has some experience with some god?  It’s evidence for his cause!  It doesn’t even matter what god it is!  So long as it is a claimed supernatural experience, it counts!

But when I point out that none of these experiences actually has any demonstrable basis in fact, that all of these people are just arbitrarily assigning an emotionally comforting cause to their otherwise unexplained experience, he doesn’t care.  Why? Because they use eyewitness testimony in the courtroom and admit it as evidence, therefore it is!  Never mind that eyewitness testimony is the weakest form of evidence in any court case, that doesn’t matter!  He even admits that it’s weak evidence, but it is evidence nonetheless.  I pointed out that, were a case to go to trial, with the supposed evidence he favors, the lawyers would rip the witness apart, up one side and down the other, completely discredit the testimony and probably hurt the position of whatever side he was testifying for.  So what?  It’s evidence!  Declare victory!

Never mind that nothing he presents is at all credible or demonstrable, it’s just empty claims, made of pure emotion and wishful thinking, that wouldn’t stand up to a moment’s rational scrutiny.  He still has evidence, no matter how admittedly weak or flimsy and so long as he can claim evidence, he’s not going to let it go!

Yes, it is a waste of my time to try to convince him how absurd he’s being.  I know that.  It takes all of my self-control to keep from unleashing a string of four-letter invectives at him for how stupid he’s being because he combines his stupidity with that other far-too-common characteristic of the religious.  He’s smug as hell about it.  He acts like having these ridiculous beliefs with his laughable “evidence” makes him better than everyone else.  He’s just wrong.  He just won’t admit it. That’s what pisses me off.

Being Right All The Time

i-am-rightIt’s a very common human foible, but lots of people have the psychological need to be right all the time, to defend their views to the death, even if those views are factually wrong, simply because their ego will not permit them to admit that they were actually mistaken.  I think this is very commonplace among evangelical and fundamentalist theists, they hold that their beliefs can never be wrong and, when shown that what they believe is actually false, instead of changing their views, they will double down on the false beliefs because their egos will not allow them to be wrong.

I’ve been suggesting this to theists for a while now, especially those who completely ignore any and all evidence that their beliefs are factually incorrect, and I had one of them come back and accuse me of the same thing.  I want to be right all the time.  Well yes, but not in the same way.  See, they’re going to cling to a belief, right or wrong, because it is the belief that they are emotionally attached to.  I, on the other hand, if I find that a belief is wrong, I will reject that belief and go find another that is better supported by the evidence.  As such, I do want to be right, I simply go find better beliefs if I find weaknesses in the ones I hold.  That’s an entirely different thing than the religious do.  My beliefs are fluid, they can be changed if they are found to be faulty.  Religious beliefs are rigid, they can never be changed for any reason, even if revealed to be wrong.  I suppose in some sense, we both want to be right all the time, I just want to be actually right, they just want to present the illusion of rightness.

So what is best?  I think clearly the ability to change your mind on the issues as new information becomes available is best, but the religious seem oblivious to that.  They believe they have the eternal Word of God that can never change, it must always be exactly the same because otherwise, it weakens their religious beliefs.  Therefore, they cannot ever modify their beliefs for any reason, it reveals a flaw in their God if they do.  I have no gods to keep happy.  I just go where the evidence leads.  It makes for a superior position.

So if anyone tells you that you’re trying to be right all the time, explain it to them in small words how your position is vastly superior to theirs and why.  We all ought to strive to be right, not by defending untenable positions, but by continually following the changing information landscape and planting our flag on those ideas that are best supported at the time.

“I Have Evidence! Oh Wait…”

Lack-EvidenceThis is a common experience among atheists who attempt to debate theists, the theist will claim that they have objective proof that God is real, but they’re not  going to present it because atheists won’t believe it anyhow.  This happened again recently when a theist, who I think ended up getting banned from the forums for being such an ass, started making the same kind of arguments that we’ve all seen before.

He said, “Back about February I said I would present my scholarly research showing that there are seven written eyewitness records of Jesus contained within sources underlying the four canonical gospels, but that I would wait until April 15th when my tax season business was done. Soon I changed that, that I saw no indication that DC&R was a place for serious discussion. ”  Sure he would.  We all know better.  It would not be a scholarly research paper, it would be nothing more than empty, unsupported claims.  In fact, he pointed to several other posts he had made where he claimed that atheists refused to engage him and were trying to “shut down debate”, but all of those posts were simply unsupported assertions, calls to faith and the like.  I pointed this out to him and said that if he had done some research, he should present it, or better yet, publish a  book on the subject for all to read.

Of course, that didn’t work, there’s always an excuse.  Now he tried this:  “I should state here that three years ago on Theology Web I was developing the aforesaid Thesis and was using the internet to test out whether I had anything worth trying to promote. I was open to being refuted. (I can’t even prove that, it’s true, because all the files on TWeb were lost in a catastrophic computer crash there in 2013. TWeb has since reopened without what was lost. I next experimented with FreethoughtandRationalismDiscussionBoard, but the atheists in charge there closed down their Biblical History Forum and eventually their website when they could not refute me. But I can’t prove that either.) I assumed, in fact, that there must be a flaw in such an enormous reversal of current scholarship whether evangelical or anti-Christian. I still could be wrong, but the prime case against my Thesis is that no one else believes it. “The Consensus must be right”, they all say, even though everyone admits that the Consensus is just indeed that, a mere convention that the gospels are not by eyewitnesses BECAUSE they are dated after 70 A. D. It ain’t necessarily so!”  Ah yes, he *HAD* evidence, but it’s all gone now so he can’t present it!  I see how it is.

And finally, the kicker, when it became obvious that he wasn’t getting the responses he wanted and didn’t like me pointing out that he was following a very typical and predictable apologist path.  He said, “No, I’m nothing like any of the Christians you have ever encountered.”  Yes you are.  You are exactly like most Christian apologists I have ever encountered.  You make unsupported claims without any objective evidence, then when this simple fact is pointed out, you insist that you can prove it, you just won’t, or there’s some reason that evidence is not available, but you assure us that it really exists.  Sound familiar?  It certainly does to me.

This is exactly what the conspiracy theorists do, of course, they don’t have any evidence either but they’ll sure tell you that they do, even if they refuse to present it because nobody would listen to them, everyone is part of the conspiracy.  By definition, anyone who doesn’t take them at their word must be part of the conspiracy, otherwise they’d certainly accept these entirely unsupported claims as utterly true, right?

Way back in episode 30 of The Bitchspot Report Podcast, we talked about the similarities between apologists and conspiracy theorists and found that they shared just about all of the major problems and all of the same fallacies. Paranoia, arrogance, the inability to answer direct questions and present evidence, obsessive dedication to the truth of their claims in the face of overwhelming proof that they’re wrong, etc.  In fact, the similarities are so striking that I consider religious apologetics to just  be a form of conspiracy theory and it’s no surprise that the most religious people tend to buy into conspiracy theories or embrace conspiracy concepts in their religious beliefs.  Remember, the world is out to get Christians, right?

So I have no doubt this guy will just vanish into the ether, still believing that he’s beat us all.  After all, according to him, “ I think I am getting the best of an atheist, deist, or agnostic, so they stop replying to me.”  No, they stop responding to you because what you say is a joke and you’re not rational enough to recognize it.  However, he’ll never admit his own failures because admitting his beliefs are wrong is tantamount to admitting that the religious beliefs that define him are faulty and he’ll never, ever allow that to happen.

It’s sad when people are so ignorant, they can’t even recognize how ignorant they are.

Fine, Educate the White Folk

white-privilegeI came across this quote from Katie McDonough of Salon Magazine on Tumblr earlier today and it struck me as strange, not because it’s anything new, but because, like most similar quotes, I doubt Ms. McDonough has any real clue what she’s talking about.  Therefore, I thought I’d invite liberals who agree with Ms. McDonough’s position to educate the white folk.
The quote in question is:
… like many white people – he doesn’t want to confront racism and white privilege because those things have — and will continue to — really, really help him out in life. And the reality is that he doesn’t have to confront this stuff, either…. That’s exactly how white privilege works.
Katie McDonough of Salon tries to explain racism to a privileged white racist Princeton freshman.

Now I’ve run into people who make these exact same claims in the past and I’ve asked them, since clearly I don’t want to confront racism and white privilege, why don’t they point out specific instances of demonstrable white privilege in the world.  Not their opinions, not their feelings, actual cases that can be proven to be white privilege.  And you know something?  None of them can do it!  Oh sure, they can tell you things that they think are white privilege but they can’t demonstrate that it actually is caused by it.

There is a lot of anecdotal information thrown around, such as claims that more white people are admitted into college than black people with the same grades.  Where is that data?  Let’s see how you factored out other potential data that may influence the results?  For example, if more whites have the money for college than blacks, then you would expect them to be represented at a higher rate.  We might have a discussion about why blacks are less able to pay for college, assuming that turned out to be the case, but that does not prove that college enrollment is racist.  To do that, you’d have to show that college enrollment boards specifically sideline non-white applicants on purpose, for the specific reason that they are non-white.  Where is that data?  Do you have it, or do you just assume that, because there are more whites than blacks in these colleges, it must be racism at work?

The same is true of the prison population.  Lots of liberals think that can only be attributed to racism.  Maybe it’s more attributable to the fact that blacks commit a disproportionate percentage of the serious crimes in America. Oh sure, there have been times where specific drug crimes, for instance, that were more prevalent in the black community got a harsher sentence but those times are long time now.  It’s also not racism when people with private legal representation get better treatment than people who have to rely on a public defender.  It’s stupid, it’s legal inequity, but it’s not racism.  This whole thing can be better explained by the fact that there are more blacks living in poverty than whites.  And no, that’s not racism either.

In fact, while the FBI reports 3x the number of whites arrested for violent crime, taken as a percentage of the population, blacks are still over-represented, particularly in crimes like murder, robbery and for some reason gambling.  Maybe if they don’t want to go to prison for these crimes, they shouldn’t be committing these crimes. In the last census, blacks made up 12.7% of American citizens, yet they commit 28.4% of the crimes.  In virtually every crime category, more than 12,7% of the crimes are committed by blacks.  In fact, the only category I could find where they were under-represented was DUI.  Tragically, black juveniles commit 51.4% of all violent crimes in America and this often leads to not only a life of crime but a life of incarceration.  This just isn’t a product of racism, but of a culture that pushes black kids to become criminals.

Then I see people complain that blacks are pulled over on routine traffic stops at a rate higher than whites. Sure, they commit crimes at a rate higher than whites!  If we want to look at this a different way, men of all racial groups are pulled over at a rate far, far higher than women.  Why?  Because men commit a disproportionate number of the crimes!  Is this now a sexist issue?  No, it’s a realistic issue.  Police have to use their time efficiently and when they see something they identify as odd going on, they need to take what they know about criminal behavior and apply it.  Heck, I’ve been pulled over by the police for no reason before.  They ran my license and registration, it came back clean and they sent me on my way.  There were two officers in the car, one black and one white.  Was it an inconvenience?  Sure.  Was that a racist stop?  Certainly not.

I’ve yet to see anyone demonstrate that white privilege actually exists.  It’s a perception, brought on by liberals and the toxic “black community”, pushed by people like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who make their living off of the poor blacks who think the world owes them a living.  The Democrats have told them for years that they deserve special rights and privileges because of what’s happened in the distant past, it’s what keeps the poor black community voting for the political left.  You don’t see the left standing up and telling the blacks or the Hispanics or anyone else in their political pocket, that they need to get up and get to work and make something of themselves. That would be political suicide, they’d lose votes by the ton.  Yet that’s really where whites, by and large, have gotten successful.

So please, let’s stop with these ridiculously absurd complaints about white privilege.  It doesn’t exist and until you can prove that it does, you’re just doing the ever-popular liberal emotional whine.  In fact, I’d argue that the liberals have been far more damaging toward the health and welfare and success of black Americans, by far, than anything that white privilege might be responsible for.  Maybe if the left wants to see blacks succeed, which of course, they don’t, they might want to start empowering blacks to make something of themselves, make good decisions and get out of the ghetto altogether.  Of course, they won’t do that, it might cost them votes.