It is not so common in philosophical debates to arrive at points of contentions where there really, truly, is indisputable refutation or demonstration. Usually, it is a question of interpretation and the argument can continue on. On my blog I have documented over the years a few points where the argument against the atheist was incontrovertible. The result: silence.
I would like to give free-thinking objective and even handed and mentally superior atheistic friends an opportunity to exhibit integrity by highlighting the three examples (plus a bonus one) that come to mind and calling upon the atheists and their defenders to own up to these refutations. If I had to make a prediction, it would be that they will exhibit all that they renounce in ‘religious fundamentalism’ and do essentially as Dan Rather did in Rathergate, standing by the story after the facts supporting it have been withdrawn.
1. Richard Dawkins. Not long after Dawkins released his Delusion, I tracked down a quote that he employed to further his argument that Christianity was against knowledge and stifled curiosity. The quote was from Augustine’s Confessions but the 45ish word quote was actually spliced selectively out of a longer section 750ish words in length. See my evidence.
Dawkins’s crime here was not the fabrication but the wholesale adoption of the quote without checking it himself. One can see why he wouldn’t, since it played so well into his conceptions. To this day, people are running around the Internet citing this passage and thumping their chest about how anti-knowledge Christians are. To their credit on account of my research, some atheists have backed off. Others have pushed forward, convinced that the ‘underlying story’ is nonetheless true.
I hereby call upon Richard Dawkins to own up to this fabrication and in turn call upon his free thinking lackeys (aka, the ‘Brights’) to abandon this piece of fiction.
2. Richard Carrier. About two years ago Antony Flew released his book explaining why he was no longer an atheist. Richard aka “The Bloodhound” Carrier sent Flew a questionnaire to fill out and the net result was his accusation that Flew’s book was actually written by Christian apologists taking advantage of an old man to put words in his mouth. The only problem with this is that yours truly had been in correspondence with Dr. Flew even before I knew there was a book coming out and in those letters Dr. Flew recounted for me various things that he believed. Many of these showed up in his book. In short, I have in my possession Dr. Flew’s handwritten letters that show numerous correspondences to the book.
This is prima facie evidence that the book substantially reflects the actual views of Dr. Flew. I displayed this in a fairly long treatment here but I suggest you look at Richard Carrier’s article before you look at mine so that you can enjoy mine properly.
As far as I know, to this day, Carrier- who has been informed of my evidence (I informed him) – has not withdrawn his argument or even attempted to rebut it. I am aware of a curt dismissal and no more. In the meantime he’s continued on his merry way bashing the credibility of Flew’s book.
Richard Carrier: man up. Admit that you were wrong on this particular point.
3. Dan Barker. Good ol’ Dan and his ‘Easter Challenge.’ You know this one: The Bible isn’t true because you can’t harmonize the Resurrection accounts… in his rebuttal to a book attempting to do what Barker says is impossible, he makes the statement that Matthew 28:1-8 must be taken as a “discrete, unbreakable element” (because Barker says so). Barker’s argument is that in these passages the disciples are instructed to immediately go to Galilee where Jesus will appear to them for the first time, but in contrast to the other Gospels, Jesus appears to the disciples immediately that day and the days right after that.
In my post, however, I point out the very elementary observation that Galilee was some 80 miles from Jerusalem and the disciples probably (I could be wrong) did not own a car. As such, they’d have to do it on foot or at best on horse. In sum, there is no way anybody knowledgeable about Palestinean geography (as we would imagine the disciples to be) to expect to arrive in Galilee that day or even the very next.
However, I am open to refutation on this point. Thus, I reiterate my challenge to Dan Barker right now: Dan, you live about the same distance from me as Jerusalem was from Galilee. You have the benefits of good roads and well policed high ways. Therefore, if you can set out on foot and arrive in my home area within two days, I shall withdraw my argument. Also, I will treat you to dinner.
If however you fail to achieve this small thing, I call on you to revise your argument concerning Matthew’s use of time. If you refuse to even make the attempt, I call upon you to cease employing this argument until you do.
Austin Cline. I must give Mr. Cline at least some credit. In his post on Pontius Pilate at About Atheism, he asserts: “Pontius Pilate was prefect (not procurator, as some sources say)” but that is not what he originally wrote. What he originally wrote, which is still available in the Google intro to the page, was: “Pontius Pilate was prefect (not procurator, as the gospels say)”. This change was prompted by yours truly contacting Mr. Cline to inform him that the gospels say no such thing. Not long after, Mr. Cline changed his site to reflect reality.
This might seem like a refreshing breath of integrity until I tell you that when I informed Mr. Cline, very cordially, of this fact, he responded by being a big fat jerk. He persisted in this and I don’t know what prompted him to examine my contention. Now, the change has been made, but I note that I never received any kind of acknowledgment (or apology) and that (more importantly) Mr. Cline refused to give the Gospels their due in having their facts right all along. That would have been a nice addition to his Pontius Pilate entry, don’t you think? But no, he simply cuts out his accusation and replaces it with unspecified ‘sources.’
I expect nothing of Mr. Cline here. I add this to cap off the general lesson that I would like to draw here, as the four names I have listed here are prominent atheistic spokespersons: atheists are not the vanguards of reason that they would like us to believe they are; they make mistakes just like everyone else, and no one should think that they are such ‘lovers of truth’ that they willy happily admit it when they are refuted. These examples I have given are minor in the grand scheme of things but I submit that they illustrate why no one should ever defer thinking to anyone else, regardless of how smart they insist they are, how many degrees they have, how high their IQ is, or even if they currently represent the consensus position on a topic, be it evolution, global warming, climate change, etc, etc, etc, etc.
The intellectual elite which I have called out in this post answer to a higher standard and I hope that this post will elicit some acknowledgment that their arguments are not always as rock solid as they suggest. I predict quite the opposite, so again: remember in your skepticism to be skeptical too of the skeptics.