Refuting Fundies via Amazon
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11-06-2013, 04:28 AM
Refuting Fundies via Amazon
Comments and ratings greatly appreciated. Smile

http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-revi...centReview

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Written by Comfort, published by right-wing reactionaries at World Net Daily. Need I say more?

http://www.amazon.com/review/RCLH5BZ72F7...hisHelpful

Quote:"Creation Isn't Evident

......despite what Comfort, Cameron, Eric Hovind and their ilk will try to tell you. Modern life is indeed complex, but it need not always be that way. Recent experiments have shown that abiogenesis (life from non-living materials) is possible. And despite what you may believe or have been innocently indoctrinated to believe in Sunday school and/or what passes as biology "teachers" in recent years, given the Bush administration's tax cuts (we have rational, science-minded people to thank for keeping biased, right-wing, totalitarian creationist literature out of states outside Texas).

Now on to Ray's "explanations" as to why an all-loving, all-powerful and all-knowing god would allow any suffering (let alone the surfeit of misery experienced every day by sentient beings).

The Problem of Evil is an insurmountable one for Christians (and all other theists who believe in a perfectly loving, all-powerful and all-knowing god). There have been intense and motivated efforts over the past two millennia to defend such a position rationally, and they have all failed. Miserably. Utterly. And in many cases, dishonestly.

Some approached involve invoking an unknown "greater good" defense (which throws god's omnipotence under the bus. An omnipotent deity could simply actualise a desired goal without needing to use suffering as a "middle man"). Attempts to shift the problem by asserting that human happiness is not the goal of life (but knowing god is) removes the omnibenevolence and omnipotence of god (if you love someone, you don't want them to suffer. It really is that simple).

Here, Comfort takes the old canard of free will. Unfortunately, free will is meaningless unless everyone has an equal amount of it. This is undeniably NOT the case. Not everyone is given the same lifespan, physical strength, mental acuity, political clout, financial resources, and so on. Comfort is pontificating from the luxurious confines of his residence, funded by conveniently gullible sheep. This has certainly damaged his ability to empathise with the billions who live on less than a dollar each day. And the thousands who starve to death every time the Earth completes a full rotation.

Comfort also, perhaps unwittingly, advocates a social Darwinism in which the rich and physically powerful are able to murder, rape and steal from weaker individuals (and are therefore less able to exercise their own free will to prevent their own suffering). Comfort, by his own admission, worships a cosmic pedophile who revels in granting freedom to abhorrent individuals while getting his jollies from seeing the most vulnerable suffer and die in agony (only to get thrown into even more torture in the Christian vision of hell).

Lastly, a loving god would take away free will from those who would willingly surrender it in return for a life without suffering. Funnily enough, Comfort seems to believe in a heaven without suffering but with all the bells and whistles of freedom. So why not create that universe from the get-go and stick with it? Why create a universe with even the possibility of corruption? It certainly is not something a perfect god would do. Then again, a perfect god would not blackmail beings he supposedly loves for eternal worship.

Eternalism doesn't work as a dodge. If a god has perfect foreknowledge, then he's still responsible. And as we experience a coherent, cohesive set of events, I don't see how eternalism could be true.

NONE of the theodicies thus far created hold any water. Why? Because an omnipotent deity does not need to use evil to achieve greater goods.

Any such being could achieve the desired outcome from the get-go, no suffering required.

Comfort engages in numerous logical fallacies. He commits special pleading to let his god off the hook. He clearly does not hold his god to the same moral standard as his god supposedly holds humans to. An all-powerful, all-knowing being who did nothing while billions starved to death is just as guilty as someone who caused such deeds personally. Might does not make right.

Painting god as a loving father who "suffers with" us is almost as bad. Such a god doesn't do a thing to alleviate suffering.

As for miracles, well, all miraculous claims have already failed the test of empirical studies and analysis. Take the famous Templeton Prayer Study (2006), which empirically tested 1800 heart patients split into three groups.

(1. Patients who were told people would pray for them)

(2. Patients who were not told people would pray for them, but people did pray for them)

(3. Patients who were not told anything, and nobody prayed for them)

The patients who knew they were being prayed for ended up with the most post-surgery complications (likely due to expectation bias)."

The Worst Fruits of Spin-Doctoring Made Manifest.

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http://www.amazon.com/review/R3FWO38FNA8...hisHelpful

Quote:In a book that purports to discuss morality, one must wonder why Copan wasted two entire chapters (7 and 8) on the ancient dietary laws of the Israelites. Wouldn't it be more practical and helpful to instruct the Hebrews about microbes, disease and proper sanitation? And let's not forget that any dietary prohibition contradicts Genesis 1:29 (And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat).

The first few chapters have Copan attempting (and failing miserably, mind you. Try applying his arguments to any human leader and you'll see just how far he gets before tripping over his own shoelaces) to paint his god as a gracious master. Nonsense. There is no justice or mercy in demanding that the Israelites obey him "lest they be utterly destroyed." It's blackmail. A wife-beater would find myriad "reasons" to continue to abuse his wife from reading Copan's book.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (the verses instructing the Israelites to murder disobedient children) is likewise given the revisionist mumbo-jumbo treatment. The parents are expected to "confer" with the elders before the execution. But such a meeting would be purely for show. The outcome is already a given (and parents are permitted to lie about their children, slandering them as drunkards and gluttons).

Moreover, it is utterly unjust to punish children for what their parents did (this is even picked up by authors of the Old Testament in the tomes of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Why would a perfect judge impose such patently absurd and unfair rules? Well, according to Copan, these verses (Exodus 20:5 and Exodus 34:6-7) don't even exist. On page 94 he references Deuteronomy 24:16, which does state that children are not to be punished for the moral failings of their parents. But this was written in the 7th century BC, well AFTER the majority of the OT.

(Jeremiah 31:29-30

In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge. But every one shall die for his own iniquity.

Ezekiel 18:20

The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.)

In Chapter 6, Copan attempts to soften the blows that slavery, harsh corporal and capital punishments, and orders to slaughter neighbouring tribes by stating "Well, they were stubborn, and god did the best he could do with the Jews at the time." Come again? Is this really the best an allegedly omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent being can do? Let's ignore the mass infanticide and genocide that supposedly occurred during the Noahic flood (which never happened). Copan no doubt believes that god created humanity, and could have done so in any way he so chose. Therefore, he could have made the entire human race loving and compassionate. Instead, he fashions barbarians that would cause Ghengis Khan to turn bright crimson with embarrassment. I don't recall too many dictators (save the fictional YHWH) who slaughtered so freely without invoking god or placing themselves upon a "divine" throne with an infinite and unaccountable mandate.

In summary, instead of taking the moral issues in the Old Testament seriously, Copan attempts to trivialise the accounts provided in his own holy book (which goes against Revelation 22:18-19

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book)

and even attempts to redefine genocide (while simultaneously inserting his own interpolations into the text) by stating that "it's not genocide because a few women and children escaped the Israelites' wrath." This is abhorrently unctuous and deplorable. By that definition, the Holocaust wasn't genocide because Hitler did not succeed in slaughtering all of the Jews. Simply claiming that the Israelites were "better than the surrounding tribes at the time) doesn't come close to cutting it. If the edicts of the OT god are not the edicts of a moral monster, then morality has lost all its meaning. Simple semantic sophistry won't even make it past a rudimentary logic or debating course. Copan is clearly preaching to the sorely convinced (despite his desire for this book to be a response to the new atheists).

Sources:

Is God a Moral Monster by Paul Copan
Is God a Moral Compromiser by Thom Stark (available for free online)

Quote:Copouts, Evasions and Hidden Assumptions Aplenty

CS Lewis is held by many to be the premier Christian apologist of the 20th century. Unless one is morbidly naive, or has yet to encounter the counterarguments to Christianity in particular and theism in general, I honestly cannot see where his appeal lies.

The Problem of Evil is an insurmountable one for Christians (and all other theists who believe in a perfectly loving, all-powerful and all-knowing god). There have been intense and motivated efforts over the past two millennia to defend such a position rationally, and they have all failed. Miserably. Utterly. And in many cases, dishonestly.

Some approached involve invoking an unknown "greater good" defense (which throws god's omnipotence under the bus. An omnipotent deity could simply actualise a desired goal without needing to use suffering as a "middle man"). Attempts to shift the problem by asserting that human happiness is not the goal of life (but knowing god is) removes the omnibenevolence and omnipotence of god (if you love someone, you don't want them to suffer. It really is that simple). On page 104, Lewis concedes that not everyone suffers equally. He does not give a reason for this, and indeed, admits that our puny human minds cannot understand why god would allow some to live decades in comfort and luxury while others suffer for months or years on end. To quote Lewis himself: "The causes of this distribution I do not know; but from our present point of view it ought to be clear that the real problem is not why some humble, pious, believing people suffer, but why some do NOT (emphasis Lewis', in italics). Our Lord Himself, it will be remembered, explained the salvation of those who are fortunate in this world only by referring to the unsearchable omnipotence of God."

That's not an explanation. Lewis is falling back on the ancient and ubiquitous appeal to ignorance. God's mysterious ways are beyond us. Well, by that "logic," he could send all Christians to hell and everyone else to heaven, and Lewis, by his own admission, would just have to suck up an eternity of torture.

The old canard of free will is often invoked. Unfortunately, free will is meaningless unless everyone has an equal amount of it. This is undeniably NOT the case. Not everyone is given the same lifespan, physical strength, mental acuity, political clout, financial resources, and so on. Lewis is pontificating from the luxurious confines of his residence, funded by conveniently gullible sheep. This has certainly damaged his ability to empathise with the billions who live on less than a dollar each day. And the thousands who starve to death every time the Earth completes a full rotation.

Lewis also, perhaps unwittingly, advocates a social Darwinism in which the rich and physically powerful are able to murder, rape and steal from weaker individuals (and are therefore less able to exercise their own free will to prevent their own suffering). Lewis worships a cosmic pedophile who revels in granting freedom to abhorrent individuals while getting his jollies from seeing the most vulnerable suffer and die in agony (only to get thrown into even more torture in the Christian vision of hell).

Lastly, a loving god would take away free will from those who would willingly surrender it in return for a life without suffering. Funnily enough, Lewis seems to believe in a heaven without suffering but with all the bells and whistles of freedom. So why not create that universe from the get-go and stick with it? Why create a universe with even the possibility of corruption? It certainly is not something a perfect god would do. Then again, a perfect god would not blackmail beings he supposedly loves for eternal worship.

While Lewis is usually a good writer, capable of spinning yarns to attract the attention of children and young teenagers, he also assumes that there is a deep, overriding purpose behind suffering. This purpose is so important that it is more critical to his god to NOT end suffering now, but to let things run their "natural" course until his plan is complete. In service of this goal, he creates a short story that is akin to an essay on theistic evolution, and how man is ultimately responsible for the Fall and his own corruption. If god knows everything, including the future, then he orchestrated the fall (and everything else) before setting his plan into motion. Arguing that god exists outside of time is a lazy copout, nothing more.

As a 'loudspeaker' for the Christian god, pain has done more to drive people away from him than anything else. An all-knowing, all-powerful and all-good god would not allow any suffering, even in the service of a so-called "greater good." And if such a god desires suffering for a greater good, then it would follow logically that his followers should cause suffering to convert more people. After all, that is god's best tool for getting our attention, is it not? Fortunately, CS Lewis and most Christians today do not follow this logic to its end point. Those who do open hospitals and hospices and waste money on bibles rather than food (explaining why only 25% of tithes go to benefit indigent people around the world). CS Lewis realised this, which is why he asserted, in chapter 7, that while evil acts can lead to "greater" goods such as pity and compassion, the individual who commits evil is not justified simply because positive benefits will flow.

The hypocrisy here is glaringly apparent when Lewis moves on to depict his god as using good men as "sons" and evil men as "tools" to achieve his goals. Such an obvious double standard is patently hypocritical and serves to do little except expose Lewis' advocacy of divine fiat for what it is - blind obedience (which is the antithesis of sound moral reasoning).

His childishly puerile attempts to justify hell are perhaps the only thing worse. According to Lewis' theology, pain is used by god as a teacher, a "flag of truth in a rebel fortress" (p. 122). This obviously misses the point - an omnipotent god would not need to use pain. If a tri-omni deity knows good from evil without needing to suffer, why couldn't he have simply created humans who were likewise omniscient? This is yet another obvious point that is glossed over by a highly overrated apologist.
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12-06-2013, 05:21 AM
RE: Refuting Fundies via Amazon
I guess these are alright for "refuting" the books in question, but I personally prefer to leave sarcastic reviews.

My girlfriend is mad at me. Perhaps I shouldn't have tried cooking a stick in her non-stick pan.
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12-06-2013, 11:38 AM
RE: Refuting Fundies via Amazon
Wow. Very impressive. 150 Amazon reviews. The ones I've read here and on Amazon have all been well-written, well-argued, passionate, and convincing.

Nice to have you here. And keep fighting the good fight. Smile

Religious disputes are like arguments in a madhouse over which inmate really is Napoleon.
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12-06-2013, 12:56 PM
RE: Refuting Fundies via Amazon
(12-06-2013 05:21 AM)Starcrash Wrote:  I guess these are alright for "refuting" the books in question, but I personally prefer to leave sarcastic reviews.

Epic!

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14-06-2013, 06:02 AM
RE: Refuting Fundies via Amazon
(12-06-2013 05:21 AM)Starcrash Wrote:  I guess these are alright for "refuting" the books in question, but I personally prefer to leave sarcastic reviews.

Thanks. Smile The trouble with thorough refutations is that they tend to get glossed over by most Amazon customers.

Love those tongue-in-cheek reviews, Starcrash! XD Surprised they actually sell uranium on Amazon, though. Maybe they're just empty tins?
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30-06-2013, 01:09 AM (This post was last modified: 30-06-2013 01:12 AM by AyameTan.)
RE: Refuting Fundies via Amazon
Some new reviews I wrote in the last few weeks (and also longer ago).

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Quote: Not a Scientific Forensic Investigation

Fuhrman's bias is apparent from the book's first chapter. He intersperses emotional quotes from the Schindlers and their advocates with factual and clinical statements of fact by Michael Schiavo, George Soros and the other half of the issue. It's a subtle tactic, and it's often effective at garnering grassroots support (one only needs to look at the misplaced sanctimony and indignation of any extremist today). This goes on for several dozen pages (with thinly veiled accusations directed at Michael).

Fuhrman's goal, as a former homicide investigator, is to discover what happened to Terri to cause her collapse (a tall order, given that almost all evidence since her fall in 1990 has been discovered or eternally lost). An interesting fact that was gleaned from his investigations include how Terri did NOT collapse due to a heart attack. OK, so what? In criminal trials, the prosecution has the burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. None of this is provided. This book is filled with conjecture based on testimony so clouded and tainted with anti-choice bias that none of it can be trusted without careful scrutiny. Needless to say, none is provided. There is no cross-examination; only one-sided, anti-Michael vitriol and diatribe.

He accuses Michael of inconsistency when he discovered the body. He either hasn't spoken to a psychologist or doesn't know the first thing about trauma. PTSD isn't the only possible outcome. Memories can be altered, lost or confabulated. It would be rarer for Michael to act normally and recall every detail with surgical precision after seeing his wife unconscious on the bathroom floor.

The conclusion? Nothing but wild speculation as to what happened on the day Terri collapsed for the final time. Save your time. Read the books by Michael and Terri's family. But don't read this obvious attempt to cash in on a tragedy. No one will win if you do.

http://www.amazon.com/review/R2UM1BHIB0X...hisHelpful

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Quote:Nothing Factual to Speak Of

This film was funded by right-wing Christians and populated by well-meaning individuals who, sadly and mistakenly, believed that Terri was not brain dead, but merely "disabled." Starting from a premise of quicksand, things go downhill from there. We are asked whether Terri was a person (she died after her brain injury with a shell being sustained by medical technology) and how she should be treated.

The implication, of course, is that Terri was murdered, Michael Schiavo is a heartless beast and living wills/advance directives/DNR orders are a tool of the "Culture of Death" (contrasted with the Culture of Suffering). As her husband mentioned in his take on the whole debacle, almost no 27-year-olds have living wills. Perhaps the only good outcome of this farce will be the parade of people clamouring for DNR orders, advance directives and powers of attorney to prevent horrors and tragedies for families in the future. Claims that Terri showed signs of recovery, speech and the hope for a full recovery, even if true, were soundly refuted by the evidence of countless court-appointed neurologists (who did not have any vested interests, unlike those on the pro-life payroll).

The interviewees claimed that Terri was not kept alive by machines (ignoring the feeding tube). While the family suffered a tragic and profound loss, their inability to accept reality did not do anything to improve the situation. Terri's responses were involuntary and random. She was unaware with no hope of ever regaining awareness. The autopsy conclusively proved that she was blind. Everything the Schindlers did "for" Terri was really done for themselves, to make themselves feel better.

This film is designed to tug at its viewers' heartstrings, but it won't have much of an effect on anyone who hasn't already been assimilated into the frenzy whipped up by the rabid religious right. Anyone who has studied both sides of the case fairly and even-handedly will have to conclude that Terri died in 1990, a husk was kept alive by machines and compassionate nurses, and that Terri had no "interests" to fight for. The Religious Right exploited this tragedy and set two families against each other. They should be ashamed of themselves. I know I would be if I used personal tragedies for political ends.

The most revolting statement comes as an anti-choicer berates and sanctimoniously preaches at the audience about Terri's manner of death. Dehydration was the only option since assisted suicide and euthanasia are not legal in Florida. They were responsible for Terri's gruesome end. The only silver lining was that Terri could not feel a thing.

http://www.amazon.com/review/R2H8C3PGW5E...hisHelpful

Quote:Rewrite your Sexual Roadmap

As Darrel outlines early on, using a map from the American Colonial era would be useless in today's modern world. Skyscrapers, back alleys, gang territory etc. would be conspicuously absent. So too with religion and sex. In the latter case, however, the consequences are far more dire than not finding the Space Needle after a few hours of sojourning in Seattle.

Religious myths about sex covers a short chapter, and some more humour is present in the Mormon "teachings" for adolescents maturing into sexual beings. Tragically, the issue is largely skirted and the words "sex" and "masturbation" are eschewed in lieu of religious buzzwords and euphemisms. It's a riot.

One of the most obvious effects is the sexual repression of Catholic priests and how their seminary "education" turns them into vicious predators. As their sexual development is frozen at ages 13-16, so too is their ability to relate to adults in a romantic way. Unfortunately, their hormones still rage and 10% of them (watch Deliver Us From Evil) will become pedophiles for life. The next most obvious effect can be seen in the scandals of Ted Haggard, Difatta, Craig and Allen in a predictable pattern. It's only a matter of time before those of Frank Turek's ilk are involuntarily outed (unless they chemically castrate themselves). Only those who are asexual could possibly lead a healthy or fulfilling life as celibate prelates.

The brutality of the Magdalene Sisters can be seen in their treatment of young girls imprisoned for "crimes" such as acting seductively, sex outside the bounds of marriage and being raped. Horny nuns + sexual repression + unquestioned power = torture and abuse.

Roman and Greek sexual practices and mores are explored in great detail. Sexual practices and behaviours and dictated by cultures, not from any innate commands from on high.

What was sex like before religion? Looking at nomadic hunter-gatherer societies, women collected at least half of the food. This gave them power equal or greater than men, even in countries with full-blown women's suffrage. Sadly, these tribes were either exterminated or forcibly assimilated by agrarian tribes.

Sexual identity and kinks are formed through genetics, epigenetics (gene expression) and culture. How one is raised can leave a lasting imprint. Childhood fears of balloons popping can re-emerge as a fetish for the experience that instigated that fear to begin with.

Darrel's sex study, appearing in the book's latter half, comes to one simple (and, in hindsight, obvious) conclusion: leaving religion is the best thing you can do for your sex life. No more guilt about masturbation (it won't turn you gay). No more timorous conversations regarding kinks and fetishes. No more sex only for procreation.

Among the exemplary advice that Darrel proffers for his readers includes the notion that everyone is normal. Everyone's sexual desires are normal, and so long as no unconsenting adults or minors are being harmed, go for it! Have a blast! Humans are one of the most sexually active animals on the planet, having sex multiple times (including masturbation) without having children.

http://www.amazon.com/review/R13KB64QSUJ...hisHelpful

Quote:Seth's Arduous Sojourn from Obedience to Virtue

When I listened to this audiobook, I was stunned and almost incredulous when Seth made it known that his deconversion was consummated in 2009. I was so used to hearing his numerous podcasts that it seemed much, much longer ago.

Interspersed with quotes from listeners and supporters at the outset of each chapter (my personal favourite concerns god and his surfeit of Twitter accounts and hence his multiple personalities), this audiobook is an intensely personal and honest story of Seth's journey from devout believer to doubter and finally to an unabashed atheist. The book starts with his first taste of radio and its Christian messages. After a long stint, he was eventually downsized. The seeds of uncertainty were sown with the death of his dear friend Rich, who was an adamant and impeccable spokesman for Christianity. Seth proceeds outline how his inklings of anxiety and uncertainty deepened after 9/11, the debate between Hitchens and Boteach (available on YouTube) was the crucial turning point. Unsurprisingly, Seth was quite unimpressed by Boteach's lack of evolutionary knowledge, lack of mid-20th century history (claiming that Hitler was motivated by evolutionary principles) and other cheap tactics. It led to his reading of Farewell to God by Charles Templeton and Dan Barker's Godless.

After reading the more unsavoury verses in the bible (to put it mildly), Seth was incredulous and could not reconcile these actions and orders with an all-loving, all-powerful and all-knowing deity. And who could blame him? On the final step towards his complete jettisoning of Christianity, Seth asked his family and community of fellow believers for explanations and justifications. Sadly, they were far from bastions of reason and utterly failed to convince the modern Doubting Thomas of Yahweh's perfection. Four primary defender "prototypes" were encountered:

Feelers: Those who feel the undeniable "presence of the holy spirit" but are unable to give actual answers when pressed. They are, predictably, the easiest to defeat in a debate and usually the first to run whimpering away to their spiritual leaders.

Theologians: Apologists with a strong foundation of religious knowledge (which happens to be utterly impotent when wielded against non-believers or members of other religions).

Folklorists: Hack scientists like Kent Hovind and Ray Comfort who latch on to any plausible-sounding evidence without verifying its accuracy.

Foot soldiers: Generally the most outspoken and aggressive defenders. Although angry, well-rehearsed and passionate, they lack either the logical syllogisms or the facts to prop up their faith.

The remainder of the book deals with Seth's admission of his lack of belief to his family (leading to profound trauma and tears for a mother who now believes her son is lost to eternal torment), his journey towards atheism, fighting the innumerable harms of religion and how he started his smash-hit podcast. Crestfallen after seeing a great number of atheist videos online that were lacking in verve and production qualities, he directed his experience and expertise as a radio host towards storytelling, with superlative results.

One of his final pieces of advice is an entreaty for atheists to treat their opponents with respect and measured rage. Anger, says Seth, should be a last resort. Upon reflection, he is absolutely correct. One catches more flies with honey, after all.

When bishops and priests dismiss child rape as "petty gossip", anger and irate retaliations are justified. When torture is legalised as "suffering with compassion" and assisted suicide is steadfastly opposed, anger is perfectly rational. Anger was what propelled the civil rights struggles of the 20th century and today.

Filled with hope, honesty and internal wrestling, Deconverted is a tome for the centuries.
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