Saturday, June 20, 2009

All About Atheism: An Extensive Guide

Looking for an article dealing with atheism? Look to this article by Mariano of Atheism is Dead, where you can find lots of other atheism links. Or, download the 32-page PDF here.

Article here.



Peter said...

Asking creationists to tell "All About Atheism" is like getting the truth about Christianity from Sufi Muslim. Disappointing post of ad hominem and strawmen links from Apologetics315.

Brian said...

Please let us know what the ad hominems and straw men are; and explain how your comment is not an ad hominem itself.

Lee said...

I've not read the pdf yet so really cannot comment, but it looks like Peter said it before I did anyway :-)

The blog "Atheism is Dead" is a poor place for discussion in my opinion, but maybe it has changed since.


Brian said...

Sure would be nice to hear some engagement with the content instead of prejudicial ad hominem statements. : )

Peter said...


argumentum ad hominem = "argument against the man"
From the article:
Christopher Hitchens, ... asks the philosophically naïve question,
[Dan Barker's] “reasoning” [why is that in quotes?]

The article is more about atheist comments not about atheism with compulsory Stalin reference.
Mariano runs several hate blogs (ad hominem blogs) against prominent atheists Dawkins, Harris and Barker. Links to those sites are on the front page of atheism_is_dead blog.
BTW, have you notice that always uses agry face picture of Dawkins. I guess they want him to look bad...

A straw man = "misrepresentation of an opponent's position"
From the article:
"atheists define “evil” based on personal preferences. This means that they cannot logically formulate an argument for the problem of evil without first providing an absolute definition of evil."

No need for "an absolute definition".

"There may be as many reasons that people choose atheism as there are individuals who make that choice. These range from philosophy or science to emotion or rebellion and various combinations of such factors."

Most atheists I know left a religion because they found it false or the contradictions in the religion. Article does not address the most common reason why people leave.

BTW I have tried to comment couple of time on the atheism_is_dead, but my comments never appeared there. I don't think they really want to discuss issues.

It is very sad if you really think the article is good description about atheism. Please try to understand your opponent before arguing with them.

Why my comment is not ad hominem: My second sentence described my feelings towards the post. As you can read I do not attack any person. I have followed this blog for a while because of the regular great audio link finds, so I know the normal high quality of the posts.

Lee said...

Hi Brian,

You mean I will have to do some reading and actually attack a real argument rather one of my own imagination?

That doesn’t sound like fun at all :-)

OK, lets see how far I have to read this pdf to find the first ad hominem statement…

Erm… page 1 “there are various sects of atheism” and “this sect” (when referring to Weak atheism)

Now call me old-fashioned but I thought this term ‘sect’ meant a movement with heretical beliefs or practices?

Maybe I am just too sensitive, but that doesn’t sound very nice :-)

Now I know this document isn’t written for me, so I don’t think I need to waste any more time on it.

If someone reads it and wishes to check it with reality, then please ask me and other atheists questions relating to it. Happy to be the test case for questions.

Maybe the document is right, maybe it is not – but be sceptical.

I believe it was written by a creationist Christian with a chip on their shoulders, would this be a good source for an unbiased account on atheism?

Take care


Brian said...


Thanks for continuing the discussion. First off, let me say that you are completely free to disagree with the contents of links posted here by me! I'm okay with that, so thanks for chiming in.

I don't want our interaction here to dwell on non-important issues or nit-pick particulars that make no difference. But that being said, I struggle to see how the examples you mentioned are even ad hominems. For instance, the mention of Christopher Hitchens asking a question that is philosophically naive -- why would that be an ad hominem? Would that not just be the opinion of the writer to say that someone's comment is naive? If the argument a person is trying to make does not rely on a personal attack in one of its premises, it is not an ad hominem - and therefore not fallacious for that reason.

However, I do think that you can disagree with the conclusions that Mariano is making. But find what his conclusions are, identify his actual premises, and tell us why you don't think the conclusion follows from the premises.

It makes no difference to the argument whether or not Mariano runs hate blogs of any sort. For you to discount his article because of such things as that is to commit a circumstantial ad hominem yourself. For all we know, he could be a any negative thing you want to identify him as, but that does not show a particular argument false.

In addition, just because someone has web sites that are against various atheists does not mean that they are fallacious because they are against the men. Again, all I am saying here is that if we are going to cry foul, let's identify some particular conclusions that Mariano has come to and explain why his reasons don't support those conclusions. I am completely willing to agree on such matters when I can be shown why reasons don't support conclusions.

Regarding the straw man bit about why people are atheists, he seems to cover his bases when he says that the reasons are many and varied. He doesn't claim to know what the most common reason is. And I wonder how you might be able to extrapolate from your personal interactions to the whole... from "most atheists I know" to the majority of atheists.

As for not being able to comment on the AID website, that is sad and unfortunate. I will never block comments here unless they are offensive, spam, or harassing -- so far you've passed with flying colors! : )

The reason I suggested that your comment was committing a fallacy was because it seemed to imply that because the person who wrote it was a "creationist" that it was not accurate. That would be a classic ad hominem, to officially over-use the term!

At any rate, I hate to nit pick, so sorry to make a lengthy comment on this item. I would just much rather prefer to pick out particular conclusions that are made and explain why the reasons don't support the conclusions. Comments that just discount entire articles with the mention of a alleged fallacy or two bug me.

Oh, and I totally agree with you on the nasty picture thing. I personally despise when blogs/sites/news media use the worst pic they can find of the person they are writing against. Not good at all.

Thanks for your kind remarks about this site, and I do hope you continue to visit. You are welcome. By the way, if you happen to be a dad, Happy Father's day!

Take care.

Brian said...


Welcome back - and Happy Father's Day... at least from the US/UK version... I believe it is the first Sunday in September down under??

Come, come now, Lee, my friend... to say that someone's use of the word "sect" commits the ad hominem fallacy is... shall we say, over-reaching? Maybe you are confusing "sect" with "cult." I don't know. Yes, you are probably being too sensitive there! : )

If someone reads it and wishes to check it with reality, then please ask me and other atheists questions relating to it. Happy to be the test case for questions.

I heartily agree. Don't take Mariano's word for it. Do further research and hear the angles. As for finding an unbiased account of atheism? Good luck with that!

bossmanham said...

In my opinion, calling people out on fallacies is becoming a fallacy in and of itself. It is done far too often and simply shows an unwillingness to engage the issues.

Peter said...

Hi Brian,

Thanks for your comments. I rather not start analysing the article deeply. It has just too many things wrong. If you post a link to a more balanced and thoughtful article then maybe.

I did not dismiss Mariano's argument because he runs hate blogs against atheists. I dismissed them because the strawman arguments and because I have seem plenty of better and more balanced articles about atheism written by other Christians. I'm would image he would dismiss Muslim article about Christianity where his picture would be next to the word "naive" or his "reasoning" would be in quotes.

I also did not dismiss his Kalam's argument because he called Hitchens question naive. I dismiss it because he does not provide any evidence for his claim that "God is eternal" and "everything that begins to exist has a sufficient cause". But any serious article should not have "naive" next to your opponent anyway. I'm puzzled if you don't see that as ad hominem or poisoning the well.

Anyways thank for the steady stream of nice audio link posts.


Lee said...

Hi Brian,

I forgot it was Father's Day - you're right it is different down here in Oz but not sure when it is since it is still new to me. (Only been down here for 4 years) You might be right though

As for 'sect', well we can debate whether it is an ad hominem since I suppose it isn't really against the person as he used it. However it is certainly trying to 'poison the well' with the use of emotional wording.

Personally, I couldn't care less - once someone starts to use such phrases I just turn off so it becomes 'white noise' to me – if there is a valid argument between the white noise, I cannot hear it as a result.

Oh, and I was being ‘sensitive’ purely for the humour of it – I assumed you noticed :-)


Hi bossmanham

calling people out on fallacies is becoming a fallacy in and of itself. It is done far too often and simply shows an unwillingness to engage the issues.

Yes and no.

Showing that an argument is in fact a logical fallacy shows just that – calling it as such is a short hand way of saying there is no reason to engage since there is nothing to argue against.

It saves time (and for someone who has ‘lazy’ in their picture, you should understand this) :-)

However, I do also agree that it can close a discussion sometimes - but you have to remember there isn’t any discussion happening between the author of these fallacies so I do not see the problem in this case.

If you wish to have a discussion on why I (and others) think the arguments are fallacious – then just ask with a specific example. (Thus actually opening up a discussion)

The fallacy I called was 'poisoning the well' - am I right or mistaken?


Cowloogi said...


You are indeed being oversensitive. Firstly, an ad hominem is when someone attacks the person instead of the argument. Simply saying that there are different 'sects'( groups with different beliefs see definition # 4) is not at all an insult, as there are certainly different sects in all other religions. The word sect in this context means what was described in the previous sentence, obviously, considering atheists generally speaking have no inherent dogma or practices like most religions do(which follows from the fact that atheism is not a religion). Even if it did, the word 'heretic' need not be an insult as it is simply saying that the individual being spoken about does not adhere to the majority view within a certain belief system. As for 'poisoning the well' and it being an 'emotional response' makes no sense. It's quite odd that out of all the things that could've been alleged as an ad hominem you choose a short phrase which simply states that there are different groups(sects) of atheism. Quite often is it stated by the non-religious, anti religious, even the religious themselves that there are many sects within Christianity. This is true, and is not an attack on any individual(which would be an ad hominem) or even the group itself. Perhaps you should read a bit farther and use a bit more brainpower, and maybe a dictionary the next time you are looking for a fallacy that does not exist

Lee said...

You are indeed being oversensitive.

it was a joke!!! :-)

bossmanham said...


A good portion of the time an argument is called a fallacy when it's not.

Justin said...

Wouldn't the argument that "Asking a Creationist to tell all about Atheism is like getting the truth about Christianity from Sufi Muslim" be fallicous in itself? I mean, being biased about something does not always direct someone away from the Truth about the matter, They are just pointing out the Inconsistencies they see in the Philosophy in Atheism, just as Atheist fail to do. And Likewise

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