Atheists are Dogmatic too! Sound Familiar?
Christian apologists often fall into the same category of poor researchers and dishonest rhetoricians. Today as I was reading Richard Carrier’s Not the Impossible Faith, which is a direct rebuttal to J.P. Holding’s book The Impossible Faith, I came across this excellent quote in which Carrier describes the shady tactics of apologists like Holding.
The fact that he didn’t do so simple a check as this proves that Holding is just mining his sources and doing the absolute minimum to prove his case instead of honestly and seriously studying the sources and making sure his claims are correct. Holding doesn’t read Josephus. He just jumps to single sentences that help his case—not even caring if there are any other sentences that hurt his case. And while I knew the facts, and then took the trouble of tracking down the exact references, Holding is completely ignorant of the facts, and therefore incapable of tracking them down. Instead, he just uses what he wants and ignores the rest—the truth be damned. In fact, the truth is apparently so irrelevant to J.P. Holding that when he can’t find facts to help him, he just makes them up, as we’ve already seen above…. But J.P. Holding “can’t” be wrong, so he gets to make up any “facts” he wants to secure his case…. Instead of admitting that I refuted his claim, he pretends he made a completely different claim. (pp. 72-73)
I share this quote with you, because in my experience such tactics are used time and time again by religious apologists to the point where it sounds like they all went to the same school of thought and rehearsed the exact same lines and agreed on the same strategies only to fail and, instead of correct themselves and revise their strategy, the next apologist repeats the exact same routine ad nauseam. Why is this? Because as Carrier correctly observes, the apologist is doing the bare minimum required to prove his case.
Now, let’s ask ourselves, is this any way to assert the truth of a claim? Suppose NASA commissioned a new rocket prototype, then when the time comes to unveil the newly designed interstellar flight vehicle instead of a proper blueprint, NASA officials are given a rough drawing in crayon of a pretty red rocket instead. Upon asking about whether or not the children’s diagram was a joke only to be reassured that this was the real deal, don’t you think this would cause any NASA technician to raise an eyebrow? Wouldn’t you agree that this minimum attempt to offer something concrete not only makes us lose credibility in the person presenting the crude drawing, who promised us spaceships, but gave us doodles which even a three year old could accomplish, not only have they lied about what they knew but they failed to fulfill their promise of handing over a real rocket, truthfully now, don’t you think such deficiency shows an incompetence and insincerity of stunning magnitude?
It’s strange to me that Christian apologists are so shocked that when they offer their counter arguments to atheism only to find atheists becoming even more skeptical and weary of the theist claim. The religionist will of course say that this is “atheist dogma” (as if there was such a thing), but what they have failed to see is that this isn’t any form of dogma, this is the proper response to the lack luster arguments they provide—so utterly unconvincing—as to actually cause the skeptic to become even more skeptical!
So the next time an apologists throws around the term “atheist dogma” just point out the truth of the matter. However, seeing as how they probably won’t accept anything which would require anything above the bare minimum effort, simply draw them a picture of God, preferably in crayon, and ask them if they’ve seen this deity lately. If not, no skin off the atheist’s back. If, however, they answer in the affirmative, remind them that you’re not referring to the likeness but to the actual person, and if they insist that they “know” he is real then ask them to show you some convincing evidence. If they fail this task—then your skepticism is justified and their beliefs are proved completely baseless. If, on the other hand, they inform you that the drawing looked more accurate before you put anything down on paper, just politely smile and walk away. Let them mull over what just went down.