To see the original post in question see here:
Well, well! What an interesting turn of events. A frequent poster from the British Centre for Science has happened upon one of my blog posts regarding laymen atheists who try to respond to Christian websites. The poster then proceeded to inform eyeonicr that I chose their site as an example of the inefficiency the new atheist movement’s ineffectiveness at responding to Christians.
The person who reported it to eyeonicr is an atheist named Mr. Ashley Roberts. Ashley Roberts is a frequent stalker of Bob Sorenson aka Piltdown Superman. In fact, Ashley Roberts made a thread on Bob Sorenson in late 2012 where he has been trying to track Bobs every move since.(Jeepers creepers!) These are the kinds of things you have to deal with when you speak out against these people. Concerned citizen? Maybe. Bat Crazy? Possibly. Bob, just mail that guy an autograph.
That aside, let’s turn our attention over to eyeonicr. Which is a website started by a kid who has currently been out of high school for a few years. He responds to quite a lot of ICR’s material and some atheists seem to have a fondness of him. I still find it strange that atheists harp on some Christians for being unqualified to speak on these subjects yet some of them rally behind this guy. Not to say, of course, that his arguments are invalid due to his qualifications.
Eyeonicr’s words will be in italic and mine will be in plain text.
Enough with Sorensen’s babblings, though – we’re interested in Petersen’s original post. He begins by saying:
“It is no secret that online Christian apologists are greatly outnumbered by atheists on the internet who want to try to debunk arguments for Christianity or young earth creationism. In fact, websites like answersingenesis and icr.org have websites that are filled with atheists that watch for articles and then almost immediately respond to every single article that is brought out.”
While this may be a fairly accurate description of what I do, so far as I am aware there aren’t actually hoards of other blogs with the same purpose. To my eye, then, Petersen has inadvertently exaggerated his complaint. There may be no shortage of internet atheists, but there might be of this kind.
Notice that I said that there are websites dedicated to responding to Christian pages. The writer on eyeonicr(I believe his name might be Peter) only refers to blogs. Possibly an accidental slight of words. Nevertheless, I can give examples:
http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/index.html <—A lot of the material here are written by atheists and they respond to numerous Creationist websites and arguments.
I also want to point out a distinction in my quote. The only two websites that actually take time to try to respond to every article that is brought out by icr and aig are the first two links I mentioned. The rest of them are websites that archive numerous responses to other Christian/Creationists websites. The list is of these kinds of websites is quite large. Further, on Peter’s blog its heading states: “Just another anticreationist blog.” Hmm.
“Regardless, he goes on to add:
“Most of the responses put out by atheists to these Christians websites(I only gave two examples) are absolutely horrendous. By which I mean void of any meaningful substance. They tend to be riddled with logical fallacies and ad hominem attacks.
One thing you have to remember though is that many of these people who are writing these refutations are merely laymen. Many times they will cite a scientific study but then by hopefully sheer ignorance they will get the implication of the story incorrect. Sometimes they will even demonstrate that they don’t understand what the article is really saying.”
It occurs to me that “logical fallacies and ad hominem attacks” is redundant, and more importantly that the above quote is a subtle example of poisoning the well. In a situation like this you could go back and forth forever accusing the other person of this or that fallicious argument, which is why I don’t like doing it.”
Oh my. Poisoning the well? Methinnks you don’t understand what it means Peter. What is poisoning the well? Here it is:
“To poison the well is to commit a pre-emptive ad hominem strike against an argumentative opponent. As with regular ad hominems, the well may be poisoned in either an abusive or circumstantial way. This is the definition from the link:
1. “Only an ignoramus would disagree with fluoridating water.” (Abusive)
2. “My opponent is a dentist, so of course he will oppose the fluoridating of water, since he will lose business.” (Circumstantial)”
Poisoning the well is a subset of the informal fallacy “ad hominem,” which rejects a conclusion made by an individual due to a trait of the individual. The quote he is referring to is describing what I see happening on the blogs. I didn’t say that the reason why they are getting it wrong is because they are atheists, or because they are laypeople. Describing what happen’s when people write about scientific matters with a lack of understanding of them and then saying that they lack understanding due to them being an atheist or layman are two different things. I used eyeonicr as an example of this phenomenon because Peter is a layman and he does draw erroneous conclusions from articles he reads by icr. I demonstrated a short snippet of it in Online Atheists and You Part 1 I never made the case that the reason why they don’t understand it is because they are atheists or layman.
“I am unaware of what Petersen’s own qualifications to call other people “laymen” are. His about page claims:
I am fairly well versed in science but my main focus is Philosophy and Biblical Theology. I consider myself a freelance philosopher. I have done extensive study of scripture, philosophical and theological works.
What ‘well versed’ means to Petersen is not elaborated upon.”
No qualifications are needed to identify someone as a layman. You have no specific knowledge in many of the areas of science you are addressing while responding to ICR. You are a kid who recently graduated high school. Labeling you as a layman would be accurate.
The definition of a layman is(according to the cited website):
n pl -men
1. a man who is not a member of the clergy
2. a person who does not have specialized or professional knowledge of a subject science for the layman”
Don’t take it as an insult Peter, I’m also a layperson as I am not an expert in either science or philosophy. I do, however, know enough to respond to other laypeople like yourself.
What do I mean by well versed? I mean that I am very familiar with concepts in both science and particularly philosophy. It doesn’t make me an expert, but it does help me be informed. Nowhere in my about section did I claim to be an expert. It appears that you are just trying to extrapolate my about page in order to add credibility to the straw man fallacy you committed.
I’d like to add that if he has an issue with qualifications when calling someone a layperson or responding to critics I’d like to know what business he has responding to Creationists that are more qualified than he is. It seems like a rather significant double standard in my eyes. Now, don’t get confused. I don’t have any issues with you responding to ICR as a layman, but remember, the point of my first post was to demonstrate a layman atheist misunderstanding what a Creationist with an M.S. in biotech is saying.
“So where do I come in? He says:
I’ll give an example, eyeonicr.com is an atheist website that camps icr.org and responds to a lot of the articles that it brings out.”
“eyeonicr.com” is not the URL of this blog, but of course you already knew that. Petersen does seem to be quite bad at linking to things – his precise target is the short Lawrence Krauss portion of my then-recent post 2012 in Review: Astronomy (you will want to re-read that post for context), but that isn’t actually mentioned. He quotes from both my post and the press release that I quoted.”
Peter is right on two counts. 1. I messed up on the link to his website. 2. I am bad at linking things as had just started blogging when I wrote the post he is referring to. However, as you can see from this blog post. I’m learning quickly. It’s a shame that what he is right about has nothing to do with the subject matter.
“The issue at had is whether Krauss is “redefing reality” in arguing that something can come from nothing: I claimed that “Krauss is arguing that our definition of ‘nothing’ does not reflect reality,” while Petersen says:
You see, physicists [ED: There seems to be something missing here] particularly the physicists that are atheists are trying to get out of the “from nothing, nothing comes” conundrum by redefining the word nothing to mean physical fields, quantum vacuums, etc. But if you have those, you do have something. This is the reality that Brian Thomas is referring to. The author here is trying to dispute semantics. The reason being is that he has absolutely nothing of substance to say about the alleged redefining of nothing that Lawrence Krauss is bringing to the table.
It’s true that I didn’t say much of substance, but as this is indeed a semantic game that should really be a given. Perhaps I should instead have said that Krauss is arguing that nothing, as Petersen wishes to define it, either can’t exist or would be unstable. But I haven’t read the book, so I’m not the expert that Petersen thinks he is.”
The reason why it is a semantic game is because people like Lawrence Krauss decided to abuse semantics in his book “A Universe from Nothing.” In fact, what Krauss committed is equivocation.
If it is unclear to you Peter, let me spell it out further.
Recall in my first post where I gave an example of a dialogue between a Christian and an atheist:
Christian: You can’t really believe that a universe came from nothing.
Atheist: Of course the universe came from nothing. Nothing is really just vacuums and sometimes physical fields.
^^This is equivocation. Here is the definition from http://www.fallacyfiles.org/equivoqu.html:
“Equivocation is the type of ambiguity which occurs when a single word or phrase is ambiguous, and this ambiguity is not grammatical but lexical. So, when a phrase equivocates, it is not due to grammar, but to the phrase as a whole having two distinct meanings.
Of course, most words are ambiguous, but context usually makes a univocal meaning clear. Also, equivocation alone is not fallacious, though it is a linguistic boobytrap which can trip people into committing a fallacy. The Fallacy of Equivocation occurs when an equivocal word or phrase makes an unsound argument appear sound. Consider the following example:
All banks are beside rivers.
Therefore, the financial institution where I deposit my money is beside a river.
In this argument, there are two unrelated meanings of the word “bank”:
A riverside: In this sense, the premiss is true but the argument is invalid, so it’s unsound.
A type of financial institution: On this meaning, the argument is valid, but the premiss is false, thus the argument is again unsound.
In either case, the argument is unsound. Therefore, no argument which commits the fallacy of Equivocation is sound.”
You see Peter, Lawrence Krauss’s entire argument is a word game. The typical argument from a theist philosopher is that from nothing, nothing comes. Because from literally nothing, you can’t have a cause for the universe to begin to exist. And if the definition of “nothing” in Lawrence’s context means a vacuum and physical fields then it would entail that “nothing” is eternal, which is patently absurd. Also, in my post about the Kalam Cosmological Argument I gave a fairly detailed analysis of why an eternal universe can’t work, whether it be the universe itself or just quantum activity:
What Lawrence Krauss does is try to answer the argument by redefining “nothing” to mean a vacuum and physical fields. But merely redefining words does not change reality. There is a clear distinction between reality and semantics. Not only that, but he tries to redefine the question of “what is nothing?” as a scientific question instead of a physical one. But the question of nothing is actually a metaphysical question, just as the questions such as “What is logic? What is morality? Why are the laws of logic valid? What is love?” All of these are questions that science can’t directly answer. Krauss is wrong on both accounts. It is rather clear that Krauss is not a philosopher as well, especially when he says that reality is what science says it is. Lawrence should probably read my article here because it appears that no one discussed the philosophy of science with him, or he is just willingly ignorant of it:
He goes on in this vein for a while, before saying:
I didn’t respond to the entire article because I simply don’t have time to, but as you can see, I easily dispatched the arguments(or lack thereof) that I did address on his posts.
Petersen’s use of pluralisation here is puzzling, because so far as I can tell the Krauss point was the only part he chose to respond to. By the way, a disclaimer like this could actually be a fairly effective counter to the Gish gallop. There are two things that should be done differently, however: the “I can’t go through all of this” disclaimer needs to come before you try to, and more importantly the argument that you chose to address needs to actually be representative of all the others. The Krauss thing was more of a philosophical aside, and so fails on the second point.”
Now Peter is starting to attack my writing style, which has nothing to do with the validity of my response to not only Krauss’s claims but also to Peter’s description of it.
What Peter fails to realize is that that article was about vocal online atheists in general and was not meant to be a rebuttal to his post, for if it were, I would of addressed more than that single tangent of his article. One of my friends showed me the article in question and I chose to use part of it as an example of how a lot of online atheist’s responses do tend to be fallacious when you examine the arguments that are used. I didn’t feel that I had to spend time going through your entire post in order to make my desired point on my first post regarding online atheists.
Don’t forget that I responded to your complaint about the comments made by Brian Thomas from ICR to help demonstrate that you didn’t understand Brian’s point. Further if you have an issue with me mentioning philosophical matters when responding to your post then I suppose that you should stop trying to talk about philosophical matters on your blog. You can take that advice for free.
“The post goes on to talk again about those atheists swarming “anything apologetics related [that] comes up online,” and beyond that decides to post some videos of debates, before concluding:
It’s important to note regarding these atheist websites, a “response” from an atheist website to a Christian or creationist article does not automatically amount to a valid rebuttal. If you watch the videos above you will see that atheists are not capable of holding up to scrutiny when their views are challenged, particularly in person(because they don’t have access to google to try and look up every argument/question/answer!)
“I will admit that I can’t do much in the way of a “valid rebuttal” here myself – mostly because there isn’t much in the way of science to talk about (which is what I tend to concentrate on), and also because the whole post is really hard to read. I hope I at least gave you the gist of it, though.”
The post I made was not meant to be one about science, it was a post to highlight how easily you a layman atheist(Such as yourself.) misunderstands what a Christian says. I thought that since atheists harp on creationists so often, using an example from your misunderstandings of what Brian Thomas said would be pure gold. The fact that you tried to respond so I could further point out this fact makes these sweeter.