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PZ Myers Reviews “Antony Flew Goes to Heaven.”

The brilliant PZ Myers has ‘reviewed’ the second story in my short story collection, “Richard Dawkins, Antony Flew, and Mother Teresa go to Heaven.”   Read it.

As before, I have no interest in responding in any detail, although I might say some things when he is done.  I will say:  “PZ, what makes you think Antony awakes in a garden?”

After reading the last review and the comments it spawned it became apparent that a little extra help on my part is needed.   There seems to be difficulty understanding the texts in question.  Therefore, a reader’s guide for each story has been composed.  You may read the first one, for Mother Teresa, here.

Here again, a reader’s guide is useless if one doesn’t have the actual text to consult.    In that same spirit, ‘criticism’ of my text will not be treated seriously on this blog if it is apparent the person is uninformed.  Actually reading the text is the first step in that- which of course means, minimally, possessing a preferably legal copy of it- and some sign that one actually comprehended it is nice, too.  But I’ll consider it a victory at this point if at least someone takes the time to read what he’s insulting, er, criticizing, before expecting to have those ‘criticisms’ taken seriously.

If you wish to meet that minimal criteria of respectability, you may pick up the books on Kindle and Nook through this link here.

As a final note, conversations about Antony Flew amongst a certain type tend to automatically leap to the assertion that Flew had lost his mind and been co-opted by apologists.  I ‘treat’ this assertion here.

PZ Myers is saying that I said that you must buy my stories in order to have any credibility in questioning them, which is nonsense.   I’ve said that you must read the stories.  There is an important difference there, the latter reflecting simple common sense.  He accuses me of running away and hiding instead of clarifying the stories.  Huh.  I don’t see any emails in my inbox from PZ asking for such clarifications, or sending me his reviews in advance so I can have a fair chance to compose a response before they go live, or any hint that I have any outlet other than this blog to explain myself in any meaningful way if I decided I want to.

How can I possibly be ‘hiding’ when in fact I was never invited to the show?

No one has to buy my books.  They don’t even have to read them.  They only have to read them if they want me to take them seriously.

Then he says I have refused to address anything I’ve written, and in the next breath actually quotes me as saying “I might say some things when he is done.”   And I’m supposed to take you seriously, PZ?  You can’t even speak without misrepresenting me with the sentence contradicting you only TWO SENTENCES AWAY.

Yes, the first sentence of the story was that Flew wakes up in a garden.  Since when did you begin relying on revelation?  Did you empirically verify that Flew did, in fact, wake up in a garden?  Perhaps he was mistaken. Or are you saying that the author of the story has a little extra authority to state what the meaning, intent, and purpose of his stories are, and what is going on in them?

This idea that I should ‘clarify’ anything to you, when you’ve done nothing but insult and demean and given no reasonable outlet for me to make a fair defense, is positively laughable.   You are in no position to lecture anyone about bluster and hiding.  You are hiding in your echo chamber with your minions pouncing on anyone who says anything contrary to your/their views.   And note this, you PZ bots:  this man who has extended no courtesy of response, not even the courtesy of a notification to allow me to respond, is the one telling you what my stories are about.  Maybe you might want to take that into account before trusting the integrity of his assessments in his review.

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209 Responses to PZ Myers Reviews “Antony Flew Goes to Heaven.”

  1. Yep! But now they’ve helpfully demonstrated it for us once again, for those of us who like to on base our beliefs on things that have been -demonstrated-.. ;P

    But good grief! I had to read stories that contained such contradictions as “jovial yet solemn” voices and people who were “A part of the Presence, and yet not”, and then had to watch a so-called author try to take a critic to task for saying that his protagonist had awakened in a garden, when he quite explicitly wrote exactly that, even using the very word in question, “garden”.

    In the immortal words of Monty Python, (The Cheese Shoppe) “What a senseless waste of human life!”

    -Ermine!

  2. “a so-called author try to take a critic to task for saying that his protagonist had awakened in a garden, when he quite explicitly wrote exactly that, even using the very word in question, “garden”.”

    The fact that PZ and you did not understand the significance of my follow up question in relation to the story itself is proof positive that his ‘criticism’ shouldn’t be taken seriously.

    Here’s the simple problem I face: if people didn’t understand English the first time, what is the point in further reply? There isn’t.

    Ermine, recall that I pointed out that this knowledge to PZ came to him by revelation. And yet, he was prepared to accept it without further thought.

    I say this for the benefit of the lurker.

  3. If anyone is interested, tonight (Tuesday, March 8, 2011) I will host an online voice/video/chat debate on the topic: “Do Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence.” Details: Click Here

  4. “No, he was wrong in an ‘actual’ sense.” No. Much like the person who didn’t take out life insurance, he was wrong in hindsight, and, even if he was wrong in a technical sense, his position was still a reasonable one based on the evidence available.

    “And when one’s own attitude is primarily what keeps one from knowing what’s true and what’s not…”. Well that’s the thing, isn’t it? It’s not his attitude that keeps him from believing, it’s the lack of evidence. Christianity may turn out to be true… It’s ridiculously unlikely, but it’s possible. If it does turn out to be true, however, its adherents will be saved solely because they happened to guess correctly. You have dodged this issue a few times now, but the fact remains that there is just as much evidence for Christianity as there is for Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Mormonism and any other religion you care to mention. If you happen to believe in one that turns out to be true, you weren’t insightful, you were lucky.

    “Billions have believed throughout 2,000 years. I think that self-evidently disproves any notion of ‘inability’.”

    OK, so apparently “many people have believed in X, therefore anyone can believe X”. How is this a point? Billions have believed in non-Christian religions, too, and increasing numbers are not accepting any religion at all. Your statement is self-refuting.

    “Probably because it’s not common sense, or sensible in any way.”

    Are you saying that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” is not common sense, or to walk blindly into Christianity isn’t common sense?

    “So no, I don’t really buy your ‘100% sincerity’ or ‘unable to’ for a minute.”

    Well then you’re calling me a liar, which I don’t appreciate.

    “One step at a time mate.”

    No, the point is crucial to the whole argument. This is a discussion about evidence. There is just as much evidence for Christianity as Islam, Judaism, etc. Why do you believe Christianity is true but the others are not? Ask yourself that, and you might obtain a glimpse into why atheists reject all religions, not just the ones they weren’t born into.

    The same argument applies to the many manifestations of Christianity. Yeah, sure, they all believe Jesus is the son of god. But, as I mentioned, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe there are only 144,000 places in heaven. They are convinced that is true. If you’re not a Jehovah’s Witness, you have absolutely zero chance of getting into heaven. Are you a Jehovah’s Witness? If not, why not? Why don’t you believe their “extraordinary claim”?

    “Read Meer [sic] Christianity”.

    I know that these days Christianity caters to a wide audience, but I was unaware that the audience included desert-dwelling diurnal herpestids.

    “I honestly wonder if it’s so inherently ‘impossible’ for you to believe why you even need arguments and evidence to show why you don’t.”

    Haha… there’s no need to wonder – I don’t need the arguments, you do. You are the ones making the claims – you need the arguments and evidence.

    “Again, I ask if you have such a problem with free will why do you even bother arguing?”

    I argue against free will because it is the absurd foundation on which Christianity is built.

  5. “No. Much like the person who didn’t take out life insurance, he was wrong in hindsight, and, even if he was wrong in a technical sense, his position was still a reasonable one based on the evidence available.”

    Nope. It’s still wrong in an actual sense (in both reality and in the story), and due to the fact that the evidence available points to theism in general and Christianity in particular. It just requires one be open-minded enough to view it unbiased. Hence atheists like Dawkins not actually being 100% sincere.

    “Well that’s the thing, isn’t it? It’s not his attitude that keeps him from believing, it’s the lack of evidence. Christianity may turn out to be true… It’s ridiculously unlikely, but it’s possible. If it does turn out to be true, however, its adherents will be saved solely because they happened to guess correctly.”

    No. There’s plenty of evidence for Christianity’s validity. Evidence such as what I previously gave you, and which you responded with simple denial more than anything else. It just takes an open-mind to examine it unbiased. In which it actually DOES come down to a personal attitude.

    “You have dodged this issue a few times now, but the fact remains that there is just as much evidence for Christianity as there is for Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Mormonism and any other religion you care to mention. If you happen to believe in one that turns out to be true, you weren’t insightful, you were lucky.”

    Spoken with all the force of the intelectually lazy.

    “OK, so apparently “many people have believed in X, therefore anyone can believe X”. How is this a point? Billions have believed in non-Christian religions, too, and increasing numbers are not accepting any religion at all. Your statement is self-refuting.”

    My statement was to address your claim of it somehow being an inherent impossibility to believe in Christianity rather than it being a product of your choice (for whatever reason). You do indeed have the ‘ability’ to believe. You just choose not to.

    “Are you saying that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” is not common sense, or to walk blindly into Christianity isn’t common sense?”

    Given we’ve discussed the issues about “extraordianry-etc.”, obviously the former.

    “No, the point is crucial to the whole argument. This is a discussion about evidence. There is just as much evidence for Christianity as Islam, Judaism, etc.”

    And obviously I disagree. There’s actually more evidence for Christianity than anything else in the world. You brushing it all aside as the same thing, is just intelectual laziness on your part.

    “The same argument applies to the many manifestations of Christianity. Yeah, sure, they all believe Jesus is the son of god. But, as I mentioned, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe there are only 144,000 places in heaven. They are convinced that is true. If you’re not a Jehovah’s Witness, you have absolutely zero chance of getting into heaven. Are you a Jehovah’s Witness? If not, why not? Why don’t you believe their “extraordinary claim”?”

    Same reason believing 2+2=4 excludes any and all other possibilities without examining every claim one at a time.

    What’s truly amusing is that you and others have harped about why I don’t believe in the “extraordinary claims” of other religions, when the fact is I actually do (for some of them anyways). As a Christian I can easily accept Mohammed was visited by an “angel” or the existence of ‘Zeus’ as true without batting an eye. Because in Christianity there’s indeed an explanatory for such things in that Mankind and God aren’t the only ‘beings’ said to exist.

    So your questions just show an arrogant assumption of my beliefs when you really don’t know a thing about me.

    “Haha… there’s no need to wonder – I don’t need the arguments, you do. You are the ones making the claims – you need the arguments and evidence.”

    So you’re saying your atheism is founded on absolutely no arguments or evidence? That seems like a case of blind unthinking belief to me. ;)

    “I argue against free will because it is the absurd foundation on which Christianity is built.

    I know. The question is: Why bother arguing AT ALL?

    Not like we have free will to change our minds about our beliefs, riiiiiiight?

  6. You are almost there… “It’s wrong in an actual sense [if and only if] the evidence available points to theism in general and Christianity in particular”. That is your interpretation of the evidence, based on your own credulity. You have simply applied a lower standard of proof to Christianity than you have to other religions, or any other woo you care to mention. It is actually you who is not being sincere when assessing the evidence.

    This whole discussion brings me back to the point I was making way back at the beginning of this thread. You keep maintaining that Christianity has been proven, that all the evidence points to its truth… where, then, is your faith? If faith is a virtue, where is yours? You could end the argument right now by just admitting that the evidence is not conclusive, but you believe it anyway, on faith.

    “No. There’s plenty of evidence for Christianity’s validity. Evidence such as what I previously gave you, and which you responded with simple denial more than anything else.”

    There is some evidence, but it’s spectacularly weak. The arguments you gave were for the existence of god, not for Christianity, and as I said above, even if we concede that there is a god, you still have a long way to go to prove that he is Christian.

    “Spoken with all the force of the intelectually [sic] lazy.”

    And dodged with all the force of a wet sock. Yet again. Jews are equally convinced that Jesus was NOT the son of god. Convince them otherwise.

    “You do indeed have the ‘ability’ to believe. You just choose not to.”

    (a) This is just ridiculous. How many times do I have to say it? You can’t force yourself to believe something. Try and force yourself to believe in evolution… let me know how you go.
    (b) So you are merely choosing to believe in Jesus? You look at the evidence and think “Oh I really could go either way here, but, what the hell, I think I’ll believe”?
    (c) “You have ability to survive in a vacuum. You just choose not to”. Discuss.

    “Same reason believing 2+2=4 excludes any and all other possibilities without examining every claim one at a time.”

    Dodged again, so I will ask again. Are you a Jehovah’s Witness? If not, why not? Why don’t you believe their “extraordinary claim”?

    “As a Christian I can easily accept Mohammed was visited by an ‘angel’ or the existence of ‘Zeus’ as true without batting an eye.”

    Hang on… you believe in Zeus…?

    “So your questions just show an arrogant assumption of my beliefs when you really don’t know a thing about me.”

    Belief in Zeus is not a typical Christian position, so the assumption is entirely valid. Are we to assume you believe in Ra, Wotan, Thor and the Flying Spaghetti Monster until you tell us otherwise? If you want to correct our assumptions, you are free to do so. ONe might wonder, however, why it has it taken you so long to set us straight.

    “So you’re saying your atheism is founded on absolutely no arguments or evidence?”

    Yes, in the same way and to the same extent as your afairyism. Oh, I‘m sorry, I take that back… since I really shouldn’t assume that you don’t believe in fairies.

    “I know. The question is: Why bother arguing AT ALL?”

    Because, as I have explained many, many, many, many, many times above, Christianity impinges on my rights and the rights of my fellow citizens.

    “Not like we have free will to change our minds about our beliefs, riiiiiiight?”

    Exactly. Now you’re getting there!

  7. “You have simply applied a lower standard of proof to Christianity than you have to other religions, or any other woo you care to mention. It is actually you who is not being sincere when assessing the evidence.”

    No, it’s actually when one applies a consistent standard of proof for truth in any subject. It’s atheist’s like you who move the goal post further and further with such standards as “extraordinary evidence” only for the particular subject of religion (thus proving to be an ad hoc), until it becomes inherently impossible to be proven under such a standard. It’s claimed that there’s “not enough evidence” when the truth is no amount of evidence will ever be enough for atheists. That’s why the issue with atheism isn’t about evidence, but a biased attitude.

    “You keep maintaining that Christianity has been proven, that all the evidence points to its truth… where, then, is your faith? If faith is a virtue, where is yours? You could end the argument right now by just admitting that the evidence is not conclusive, but you believe it anyway, on faith.”

    *snort* This is just your misconception of what ‘faith’ means in regards to Christianity as the Bible describes it. Evidence and faith aren’t mutually contradicting. It just means one has to ‘trust’ the available evidence points to this conclusion without
    having full knowledge or experience of events. Much in how you have such “faith” in evolution even though 95% of everything you know about it doesn’t come from your own personal experience.

    Sorry, but the evidence for theism and/or Christianity is indeed conclusive. But since I wasn’t around 2,000 years ago, I have faith I’m interpreting the evidence correctly (as the alternative is to throw away our epistomology completely). ;)

    “There is some evidence, but it’s spectacularly weak. The arguments you gave were for the existence of god, not for Christianity, and as I said above, even if we concede that there is a god, you still have a long way to go to prove that he is Christian.”

    I’m amused you think your opinionated assertion carries any weight with me. As the evidence for God’s minimum existence is incredibly strong, yet you still cling to atheism, you’ll understand if I consider your judgement suspect.

    “And dodged with all the force of a wet sock. Yet again. Jews are equally convinced that Jesus was NOT the son of god. Convince them otherwise.”

    And again the problem comes down to the same thing as it does for atheists – attitude, not evidence.

    “This is just ridiculous. How many times do I have to say it? You can’t force yourself to believe something. Try and force yourself to believe in evolution… let me know how you go.”

    You honestly think proof by assertion is going to convince me?

    “So you are merely choosing to believe in Jesus? You look at the evidence and think “Oh I really could go either way here, but, what the hell, I think I’ll believe”?”

    No, I choose to look at the evidence and accept whatever it’s conclusion is without regarding how it may effect me (and others) personally, rather than the atheistic approach where one builds their beliefs around there personal prefrence of what they like or don’t like.

    ““You have ability to survive in a vacuum. You just choose not to”. Discuss.”

    *snort* Now could it be that given 4,000 years of philisophical debate regarding free will the fact that no one has ever disproven it with the obvious fact that we obviously can’t do just anything we imagine, means your misconstruing the issue? Or do you seriously think you’re the first guy to make this observation in the entire written history of the world?

    “Dodged again, so I will ask again. Are you a Jehovah’s Witness? If not, why not? Why don’t you believe their “extraordinary claim”?”

    What “extraodinary claim” are you talking about?

    And let me ask you a relevant question to your issue – would you say an event witnessed by hundreds, if not thousands, of people is nominally different and more credible than an event claimed to be witnessed by one guy?

    “Belief in Zeus is not a typical Christian position, so the assumption is entirely valid. Are we to assume you believe in Ra, Wotan, Thor and the Flying Spaghetti Monster until you tell us otherwise? If you want to correct our assumptions, you are free to do so. ONe might wonder, however, why it has it taken you so long to set us straight.”

    I don’t think you know what a “typical Christian position” really is given your generalization of every non-athiestic belief being all the same.

    “Yes, in the same way and to the same extent as your afairyism. Oh, I‘m sorry, I take that back… since I really shouldn’t assume that you don’t believe in fairies.”

    Apparently not, since my “afairyism” as you put is IS based on evidence and reason. As like I said believing 2+2=4 obviously means I reject any other conclusion of what 2+2 equals. Though it seems highly hypocritical that you demand people provide evidence for their religious belief when you admit your is based on nothing but your personal will.

    “Because, as I have explained many, many, many, many, many times above, Christianity impinges on my rights and the rights of my fellow citizens.”

    *snort* What rights? If you don’t have free will you don’t have any “rights” to be impinged any more than a rock or your computer has “rights”. So what are these “rights” you claim and where do they come from?

    Your still dodging the issue. It’s useless to argue there’s no free will when the very argument assumes we have free will to consider the evidence and arguments in order to change our mind. So why argue against Christianity to stop ‘impinge on your rights’ if we don’t have the free will to choose not to ‘impinge’ them? Your very attempt to argue disproves you.

    Frankly, this whole ‘free will’ issue is just a sad attempt for you to avoid reexamining your beliefs and behaviour and having to make an attempt to change them. Which is rather lazy.

  8. Even though this discussion is probably no longer being followed, I am going to respond to the question above about the various Religions and why one is true verses the other.

    Christians do not say Judaism is a false Religion. The Jews were God’s chosen people and were first given God’s word in the form of the Torah. They later on added a lot of traditions that God did not command. Furthermore, they were awaiting their Messiah, but when Messiah came, they did not recognize Him (at least those who still call themselves Jews. The Jews who did recognize Him began calling themselves Christians.). They did not recognize Him because they expected Him to come as a king, but instead, He came as a servant. (They confused the first and second coming, which by the way is clearly seen and talked about in their Bible.) Jesus fulfilled every single Bible Prophecy, and those who say He did it on purpose so they would think He was Messiah, I say, could He have determined the place of His birth? And yet it followed prophecy. Did He determine how He would die? No, but it was part of prophecy, 1000′s of years before Christ was born men wrote about what would happen when He died. http://brotherpete.com/index.php?topic=1007.0

    Judaism-many people contributed to the writing of the Torah, and it all flows together and makes sense, and is not contradictory if you understand what you are reading.

    Christianity- Many people contributed to writing the New Testament and the same with the Torah it flows together. It even lines up with the Torah and inlcudes the Torah in its book. It ends with a warning that no man should add to or take away from what is written.

    Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witness, etc.- Can pinpoint one man as the beginning who started it all. This man either added to or took away from what was already written, therefore whatever he writes is fale.

    Muslim- One man, Mohommad the prophet wrote what he thought needed to be said, even though he recognized the vailidity and sanctity of the Christian Bible, he just could not agree with it enough to leave it alone.

    My point is, even in the scientific community something is usually not accepted until it can be demonstrated by several different people, you don’t just take the words of one man unless of course that man is Charles Darwin for some reason. If eye witness accounts matter within the scientific community, why does it not matter 2000 years ago when many eye witnesses attested to the truth of the Bible, who saw Jesus die, and saw Him come back from the dead? Why does their historical account of events no longer matter?

  9. I meant to also add, that just like the Jews did not believe in Jesus because He did not first come the way they expected Him to, atheists do not believe in God because He does not reveal Himself in the way that they expect Him to. Just because God does not come to you the way that you want does not mean He does not exist. It could be that you need to check the motivations of your own heart in pondering the question whether there is or is not a god.

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