There are days I wish I’d had the opportunity to attend university so I could form better arguments based on deeper understanding. Unfortunately, that takes money I never could have had, so I am left educating myself on the absurdity of religious claims without the benefit of an formal education.
An assertion that frequently comes up across the Internet from both Muslims and Christians is that “atheism has been debunked” (misrepresenting some scientific finding, or contorting a passage from the Bible or Qur’an.) We’ll forget a moment that atheism is not an assertion, it is lack of acceptance of a claim due to insufficient evidence. I do not believe because Kali worshipers have not provided sufficient evidence. (Wait, wut? I have trouble keeping track of all the god claims that people assert without evidence.)
The claim normally comes (informally) in the structure of a syllogism:
a) The Old Testament predicted X.
b) The New Testament states X occurred.
Therefore, atheism is debunked because the Bible is shown to be accurate.
We’ll skip for the moment the idea that the anonymous authors of the New Testament had the Old Testament already available to them (so nothing in the New Testament really qualifies as a prophecy—a real prophecy would be something not possible to know in the Old Testament, like the existence of North America or the speed of light. Surely a god that created both could have added one line about both of those instead of chapters on who you can enslave and which women are suitable to take as sex slaves after a battle and which ones to put to a sword).
Atheism cannot be debunked: It is merely the non-acceptance of a claim (Odin exists). Atheism claims nothing, so there is nothing to debunk. It is amazing how many religious people still insists that atheism is a positive claim, there is something to debunk, or why we should be stripped of our citizenship (thanks, GHW Bush).
Anti-theism (I know there is no god, a subset of atheism), is a positive claim. Anti-theists make up a tiny percentage of atheists. The strawman fallacy is brought forth to claim all atheists are anti-theists. That is not the case for the overwhelming majority of atheists. Even I, who frequently writes on a number of fora assailing the assertions of religion, am not an anti-theist.
Give any one of us sufficient evidence for a god, and we will believe that god exists. (That doesn’t mean we’ll worship that god, the Christian god for example is an amoral thug in both testaments of the Bible. The New Testament’s “Slaves, Obey Your Masters” instead of “Thou Shalt Not Own People as Property” is about the second-worst example of amorality after the Crucifixion story itself.)
A diversionary tactic used by believers is “what evidence would convince you?” My answer is “I don’t know, but an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent god should know exactly what evidence would convince me if he actually cares about what my eternal being after this one is. So either that god does not have those qualities, it does not exist, or it does not care about whether I know about it.” Most atheists don’t need a second-hand account of stories of tales of legends of translations of political manipulations of an ancient text for which there are no original manuscripts to believe that something is true. I know my bank wouldn’t accept that as proof of payment of my cheques, and I have evidence for my bank and my cheques.
As of yet, no one has proved Odin or any other god (even though Christians and Muslims not only disbelieve Odin, they actively reject the existence of Odin, which is another positive claim without evidence—they are anti-theists about Odin). No amount of claims of personal revelation amount to evidence. The best the Bible can come up with in the New Testament is calling someone a fool for not believing in a god without evidence. Quelle Surprise. If you don’t accept me as true without evidence, you’re a fool. (Just like my bank should accept I have ten million dollars in my checking account, and they’re fools if they don’t accept that. Funny how you need evidence for everything else in life.)
On the other hand, the logical fallacies in holy books are legion. They are ignored by apologists, using the “Texas Sharpshooter” logical fallacy. (That fallacy is likened to firing a rifle at the side of a barn without really aiming. You then draw circles around the ones you want to declare “hits” and ignore the misses. Psychics as found in newspapers such as The National Enquirer are famous for this.)
Just kicking off the first two chapters of the Bible, Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, the creation accounts are mutually-exclusive. That’s not getting past page three and the cognitive dissonance sets in: Adam and Eve are created from dirt in one account, and Eve is created from Adam’s missing rib in another account. The Bible mostly (but not completely) deleted Lilith (the original wife of Adam in the Jewish Midrash) except for a small reference later in the Old Testament (they then claim they didn’t alter the Jewish texts for the Old Testament). My computer background is a reproduction of a painting of Lilith, a frequent subject during the Renaissance period of religious art.
Also for an extra credit question, the Bible states the city of Tyre after it was destroyed would never arise again. First person who can name the country in which Tyre can be found today gets a lollipop and the opportunity to take over the Intertel Atheists group (remember, I’m still a politician and am having trouble keeping up here due to my other duties – other people putting forth their thoughts are most certainly welcome). Tyre indeed arose again, so the god described in the Bible was wrong. That is in opposition to omniscience; it is a monumental apologetics fail (the Bible is true and accurate because theologians say so).
I have read both the Qur’an and the Bible (many times), and I find both lacking. As I live in the USA, I do not have Muslims trying to write their religion into law or taking over a political party or the government, so I concentrate on Christianity. Growing up in a Christian culture (but most certainly not a Christian Nation, see the I Amendment to the Constitution), I am much more familiar with Christian oppression of atheists. Muslims do not have the power in our nation to do that (thought they have more representatives in Congress than atheists do: we have none).
Fun Fact: King James I of England and Ireland, the eponymous sponsor of the King James Bible, or Authorised Version of 1611, was Catholic. As such, the original KJV includes all the books of the Bible that Martin Luther ordered removed in his abridged version used by Protestants today. Many Fundamentalists insist the KJV is the “real” version of the Bible, despite the original Bible being edited to remove the books Luther didn’t like. All Protestants assert their abridged version is the correct version. (Sects that use the KJV will tell you the book is unchanged by God since he handed it down in Ancient Modern English directly to the Apostles, despite the fact that numerous books were removed after the King James Version came out.)
I won’t go into Protestant abridging of the Bible, but if you’re interested, Wikipedia has an article on that.
The original Roman Catholic King James Version of the Bible is available from most on-line booksellers if you want to read the KJV in its original before Protestants shortened it (personally I think taking out the begats instead of Sirach or I and II Maccabees would have been better—the begats are dull and Maccabees is a good war story). As it happens, the Vatican put on an exhibition called “Verbum Domini” (Word of the Lord) in 2012, showing that the KJV is in fact Catholic in origin. (That exhibit also included Jewish and Orthodox documents of the period.) Unsurprisingly, American Protestant churches ignored that exhibition en masse.
As far as KJV bibles go, I purchased The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible for my wife a few years ago as a Christmas present. (Both of us are atheists, and she loves the book with its gilt-edged pages and leather binding.) That book is the Protestant Abridged KJV with a difference.
Many Bibles have cross-references in the margins of pages, called annotations, to highlight alleged prophecy, expand on passages, or to show the ties between different passages of that book. The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible (regrettably it is a Protestant KJV rather than a complete Bible) highlights the cruelty, absurdity, contradictions, genocide, rape, slavery, incest, warfare and such in its annotations.