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I guess I had it coming, Vox Day wants a fight!

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on April 5, 2009

And I must oblige. It appears I have ruffled the feathers of one super-intelligent (at least according to him) Vox Day. Apparently my entry was lucky enough to attract his attention and not only that, but he felt like he had to reply and put me in my place. Well I can’t let a challenge go unanswered, now can I? What kind of run-of-the-mill atheist turns the other cheek? None that I know of. Se let the spanking begin.

First, Mr. Vox wants to take a shot at my challenge of his claim that they (religious) are more intelligent than us (atheists). While it is quite ridiculous to make that statement for any group in relation to any other group, nevertheless he clearly means to say that religious people are smarter than the atheists. Here is the original statement from his first entry (emphasis added):

This hasn’t yet made its way down to the run-of-the-mill internet atheists, whose primary form of “debate” still consists of calling people stupid despite the fact that all of the available evidence demonstrates rather conclusively that the objects of their ridicule are, as a point of fact, rather more intelligent than the atheist himself.

Which I immediately challenged, since we know well that there is no such evidence, thus he must be relying on some “unorthodox” (my exact word) definition of evidence. Mr. Vox took exception to that.

Logical and empirical evidence. Or, to be more specific, logical, documentary and statistical evidence. Let us consider the most readily available example: Since I am known to possess, at a bare minimum, a Mensa-required +2SD IQ, it is obvious that most of my atheist critics are statistically bound to fall well short of that not-terribly-impressive level.

Ok, ignoring the fact that, by the very same rules of statistics, so would most religious believers, it is quite ridiculously childish to argue that a sample of one constitutes evidence when one is comparing two groups as large as atheists and believers.  I am not American (although I have lived in this county for 10 years I learn new things about it every day) so I am not that familiar with IQ tests, nevertheless it is my understanding that regardless of your IQ score, stupid statements remain stupid statements, religious and atheists alike. A high IQ does not inoculate one from saying stupid stuff, now does it? And replying to a direct question of “where is the evidence you mention” by saying “sure there is evidence”  and leaving it at that without pointing to said evidence, does not do you much good on the stupid department.

Basically Vox thinks that “I think so” should be considered good evidence.  Well, personally I would expect something a little more firm such as say, at the very least, an article in a major wold newspaper, referring to some survey/study with a title of something like, oh I don’t know “Intelligent people ‘less likely to believe in God” perhaps? Or this one maybe? Now that is what I would  consider as evidence, but Vox’s word, unfortunately does not count. Sorry Vox but that’s just the way it is and it doesn’t matter how much you deny it, evidence will never be defined as one person’s word in any dictionary!

Now personally I must say that I consider this to be an exercise in futility because it is quite stupid to proclaim any group of people smarter than any other group of people, especially when the groups are not formed based on intelligence standards to begin with. There are very smart people that are atheists and there are very smart people that are religious, and then there are stupid people on both sides. Their level of intelligence is not at stake here though, even though Vox seems to want to make it about that. What is at stake is their behavior with respect to one issue and one issue only, belief in God. You could be an astrophysicist and still believe in God. I don’t know how you’d rationalize that, but whatever, it’s your choice. But I can’t help but call you stupid if you say something stupid in an attempt to defend your belief, solely because you happen to be quite smart when astrophysics is concerned. Smart people do stupid stuff all the time and guess what their stupid actions are called….stupid.

It is, of course, amusing to see an atheist suggest that I might elect to make use of an unorthodox definition of evidence, when almost every single atheist claim that “there is no evidence for God’s existence” requires ignoring the standard definitions of evidence provided by every English language dictionary from American Standard to Webster as well as the definitions used in the American legal system.

No Mr Day, having strict standards for evidence is not a shortcoming of skeptics and atheists as you would like to suggest, at the contrary it is a virtue. Some very intelligent men have said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and is there a more extraordinary claim than God? Vox uses the typical strategy of most anti-scientists, more specifically trying to use the everyday use definitions of certain words in an effort to minimize or avoid the more rigorous requirements that a scientific approach demands. Ever heard the “it’s just a theory” slogan? Vox is doing the same here with the word evidence. And why stop at the American legal system I wonder? Why not look at other legal systems? How about Sharia? How about evidence from a woman is half as good as evidence from a man. Maybe we should look into that?

The evidence that Vox has in mind is useless, for that same “evidence” can be applied to any God that ever lived (figure of speech of course). Does that make you a Muslim Vox? Does this mean you believe in Allah? Surely the evidence the Muslims present for him is no less than the evidence  you think you are presenting for your God, so which hypothesis does this evidence support? Which God? Evidence that supports no hypothesis or all hypotheses is not good evidence at all. Surely, you must know that.

Then Vox bravely takes on my hypocrisy charge. If you remember from my first entry I had said (apparently I misspelled the word hypocritical. Bummer!):

Bit hypocritital no? First he says that our primary form of “debate” is calling people stupid, which of course must be wrong, then he turns around and presents his argument/debate which basically amounts to nothing more than calling us fools. Now, I’m nothing but a mere run of the mill internet atheist, who is mentally inferior as demonstrated by all the available evidence, but this sort of reasoning sounds a little….well…..stupid foolish to me!

Vox obviously does not like that. Who likes to be called out on their hypocrisy? So he counters as such:

This is precisely the same sort of thing we have seen so often before. Call it the First Law Fandango. Because Skepdude possesses an above-average intelligence, he assumes that because he does not understand what an individual of superior intelligence has written, that individual and/or his reasoning must be stupid, foolish, hypocritical, etc. But there is a basic logical flaw in his errant attempt to find hypocrisy here, because it is eminently obvious – based on the readily available documentary evidence – that a single reference to a well-known Bible verse is neither a) an argument, nor b) my primary form of debate. So, no, not in the least bit hypocritical.

I posses an above-average intelligence? Thanks, that’s quite nice actually, but I guess this guy is quite trigger happy with compliments (he does refer to himself as an individual of superior intelligence after all), so I will take that with a grain of salt. Well thanks to my above-average intelligence I know that hypocrisy means preaching one thing and doing the opposite, such as for example complaining of one’s use of the word stupid while using the word fool yourself. That’s pretty straight forward, as far as I can tell and where you’re getting your words/ideas from (the Bible, the Quran, the Yellow Pages) makes no difference. See the hypocrisy lies in the conflict between what you say and what you do, not where what you say comes from. Come on, didn’t they have a section on hypocrisies on the IQ tests?

Even if I had been making an argument there in the second of those two sentences – which I was not, I was merely offering scriptural support for my assertion that atheism has been around for a very long time and will probably always exist so long as there is conceptual space for it – a single argument does not dictate any specific form of debate, much less define my primary form of debate.

He’s right that I was too generous to use the words argument and debate, it would have been more accurate to say his statement, so I guess I stand corrected on semantics there. Nevertheless, let us look at the specific sentence in his original post:

Atheism will always exist. As it is written, there have always been fools who have said in their hearts that there is no God.

So did he make an assertion that atheism has been around for a long time? Sure he did. But did he not also call all atheists fools? See it is right there, in the middle of the second sentence. He is paraphrasing the Bible, but it is clear, I think, that this is a statement that he agrees with. How do I know he accepts what the Bible says on the issue? Because he is using that paraphrased verse to support his statement, namely that “Atheism will always exist”. You don’t use an untrue statement to support your own claim now do you? So I don’t know why Vox is embarrassing himself implying that he doesn’t think we’re all fools over here. I don’t know what Vox is thinking. Pointing at claim/statement #1 does not negate that you made claim/statement #2.

So to recap, Vox Day did not address my specific challenge of where this evidence of his that shows the regligious to be more intelligent than us. Instead he gave us what I am going to call (and trademark) as the Argument From My Awesomeness. Then he proceeded to make a complete buffon out of himself by claiming that saying on his blog that we are fools somehow does not mean that he’s saying on his blog that we are fools (a stance he must take I think if he is to even try to not to look hypocritical). Instead, as usual with anti-scientists,  you get rhetoric, dancing around the questions and some failed attempts at humor. The fact remains that his original claim that “all of the available evidence demonstrates rather conclusively that the objects of their ridicule are, as a point of fact, rather more intelligent than the atheist himself” is as unsupported one entry later as it was when he first made it. I am still waiting for Mr. Day to be generous enough and point us to this evidence so we may evaluate it for ourselves.

Ball’s on your cort Vox.

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