• The ‘New’ Atheism: 10 Arguments That Don’t Hold Water?: A Refutation, Part 4

    Chapter 4: ‘…and may be used in evidence.’

    A4 ‘Faith (belief without evidence) is a virtue. The more your beliefs defy the evidence, the more virtuous you are.’

    Poole begins by stating the following,

    In Root of all Evil? Dawkins states that ‘Science weighs the evidence and advances. Religion is hidebound belief for belief’s sake…’ and ‘…the whole point about faith is that even massive and constantly accumulating evidence cuts no ice.’ But is this true? (30-31)

    The author cites John Montgomery, Professor Emeritus of Law and Humanities, as stating how he used the “legal standards of proof by preponderance of evidence and proof beyond reasonable doubt” as his criteria for believing “that God exists.” Of course, this is nothing but an appeal to authority and Poole further argues that there are forms of evidence that can be examined. Poole cites the bible and argues,

    These testimonies illustrate the point that evidence today will have to be indirect – reported speech. Tests for the reliability of these authors, as well as of other historians such as Tacitus, Pliny and Josephus, draw upon the usual canons of historical evidence. (33)

    There are numerous reasons why the bible cannot be trusted, one of which is the fact that these so called “historians” actually got a great deal incorrect as revealed by archeology. Having been proven wrong on many other issues it is only logical to suspend judgment until the facts can be checked. Until then, it’s most wise to disregard much of what the bible says. [1]

    Next, the author actually believes that he has avoided the same criticism he levels against the New Atheists. In his introduction he quoted Antony Flew,

    In an earlier philosophical work, Flew cautioned that it would not

    …do to recognize that of a whole series of arguments each individually is defective, but then to urge that nevertheless in sum they comprise an impressive case… We have here to insist upon a sometimes tricky distinction: between, on the one hand, the valid principle of the accumulation of evidence, where every item has at least some weight in its own right; and on the other hand, the Ten-leaky-buckets-Tactic, applied to arguments none of which hold water at all. (9)

    Then, Poole argues that his case truly is a case of “cumulative evidence, each having some small value, [that] can add up to ‘proof by preponderance of evidence and proof beyond reasonable doubt’, while steering clear of the Ten-Leaky-Buckets-Tactic explained in the Preface.” (33)

    He then brings forth his so called evidence. He mentions several standard theistic arguments:

    1. Why is there something rather than nothing?
    2. The seeming fine-tuning of the universe.
    3. The existence of beauty and moral values, including principles of obligation and fairness.
    4. Revelation.
    5. The “evidential value” of religious experiences, including answered prayer.
    6. Historical evidence, “drawing on both secular and religious sources.”

    Poole fails to go into any kind of detail at all about these supposed evidences. Of course, each of them are horribly bad arguments and do in fact represent a “Ten-Leaky-Buckets-Tactic,” despite the author’s denials. Each of these arguments have been dealt with in numerous places. Needless to say, they’re all greatly flawed. [2]

    In the final section Poole very briefly discusses the resurrection and again cites the bible as his “proof” that Jesus (and others) did in fact become raised from the dead. Once again, the bible is not a reliable book to be basing your beliefs on. Second, there has never been any confirmed evidence of any supernatural occurrences. If they do not occur now, why should we believe they did occur in the past? If supernatural phenomenon occurs at all surely it’s on-going and does not just occur in certain time periods, especially not with all of the stories of supernatural phenomenon occurring throughout all periods of history. This is proof people believed in the supernatural throughout the past also, but due to our more advanced technology we are better able now then they were to determine whether or not these experiences were true representations of reality. All evidence to date shows they are not. [3]

    Poole dismisses the very scholarly treatments that have disproven the resurrection and says, “Many have attempted to disprove the resurrection story but, so far, without noticeable success.” (38) I suppose Poole has not read the excellent collection of essays by noted biblical scholars in the book The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave, edited by Robert M. Price and Jeffery Jay Lowder.

    Like the vast majority of this book thus far, Poole has failed to cite any sources for his alleged evidence. At the end of this chapter he relies on another argument from authority by citing Simon Greenleaf, Professor of Law at Harvard University, on the supposed reliability of the gospel accounts. (39) Once again, the facts entirely contradict Greenleaf’s statement.

    1. Several books lay out this evidence. A few are as follows:

    The Case Against the Case for Christ: A New Testament Scholar Refutes the Reverend Lee Strobel, by Robert M. Price, American Atheist Press, 2010

    Who Wrote the Gospels?, by Randel McGraw Helms, Millennium Press, 1997

    The End of Biblical Studies, by Hector Avalos, Prometheus Books, 2007

    Jesus, Interupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know About Them), by Bart D. Eheman, HarperOne, 2009

    The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Anceint Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts, by Israel Finkelstein & Neil Asher Silberman, The Free Press, 2001

    The Bible Against Itself: Why the Bible Seems to Contradict Itself, by Randel McGraw Helms, Millennium Press, 2006

    Biblical Errancy: A Reference Guide, by C. Dennis McKinsey, Prometheus Books, 2000

    2. The following books are good resources on these arguments:

    The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe is Not Designed For Us, by Victor J. Stenger, Prometheus Books, 2011

    The above books on the bible are excellent resources about the historical claims and claims to accuracy about the bible.

    Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong, by Marc D. Hauser, HarperCollins, 2006

    Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity, by John W. Loftus, Prometheus Books, 2008

    3. Pseudoscience and the Paranormal, by Terence Hines, Prometheus Books, 2003

    Category: Uncategorized


    Article by: Arizona Atheist