Calvinball
Posted: 15 December 2006 03:21 AM   [ Ignore ]
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In Bill Watterson’s excellent comic strip "Calvin & Hobbes" the six year old Calvin and his imaginary friend Hobbes (a stuffed tiger) enjoy playng their favourite game of "Calvinball". The only permanent rule of Calvinball is that the rules are made up while you are playing the game. In practice the rules usually turn out to be anything that helps Calvin win.

After debating religious belivers for more than 10 years, i think "calvinball" quite accurately describes their approach to a debate,  in which the rules are whatever the believers need them to be in order to claim points for themselves. Of course a rule that is convenient in one context (f. ex. "organized complexity requires design") may often prove inconvenient in another context, for another argument or even another [i:e30307b2e1]part[/i:e30307b2e1] of the [i:e30307b2e1]same [/i:e30307b2e1]argument (f. ex. "who designed the designer?"). Therefore such Calvinball-rules tend to be seen as valid only for as long as they are needed before they are cancelled by another improvised rule ("God has always existed" etc..), and so forth indefinately…

A favourite strategy of Calvin is declaring the ground he is currently standing on to be "outside the field", or a "free-zone" where rule X doesn’t apply. Declaring that something is "outside the physical universe" etc. (whatever that might mean?!?), doesn’t mean that you are free to invent any [i:e30307b2e1]bullshit[/i:e30307b2e1] you want without any justification.

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Inventing excuses to believe is not the same as having good reasons to believe.

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Posted: 15 December 2006 04:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Well, the Calvinball rule-that-trumps-all-rules is that having “faith” is a good thing!

In every other part of their argument, they are implicitly saying that reason and evidence are paramount. To take the classic example, the theist tells us that we have evidence for “intelligent design” and that reason tells us that what looks to be designed must have been designed by an intelligent being.

But then when reason and evidence tell against their arguments, they no longer abide by reason and evidence, instead resorting to “faith”.

This is simply hypocrisy.

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Doug

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Posted: 15 December 2006 08:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I agree.
Here are some more examples:

- God is claimed to be trancendent, unfathomable, unaccessible to human knowledge, while the believers themselves claim to have knowledge of his existence.
- On the one hand nature is claimed to be so fantastic and wonderful and perfectly designed that nothing less than a divine creation is sufficient to explain its existence. On the other hand any suggestion that such a wonderful nature is capable of giving rise to anything more complex than a rock is dismissed as absurd.
- The religious claim reason for themselves and their faith while counterarguments are dismissed because “reason fails”.
- Counterarguments are dismissed because “there is no such thing as objective truth”, while faith is portayed as objective truth (typical argument among moderates).
- The religious claim all human morals for themselves and their faith or for God, while any example of immorality in the Bible is dismissed because “our morals is not God’s morals” and “who are you to think that your morals should apply to God?”
- Not even the believers themselves would accept their own arguments if put forth by someone of a different religion, but if atheists don’t accept them we are accused of being arrogant.

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Inventing excuses to believe is not the same as having good reasons to believe.

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Posted: 18 December 2006 03:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Every now and then, a Christian will bring up the ancient canard, “it takes more faith to believe in Evolution than it does to believe in God.”  My traditional response is, “Thank you!  I assume you believe that faith is a good thing, and you are complimenting me on the fact that atheists have so much more of it than you Christians do.”

This usually leaves them stunned as they try and think of a way out of the hole they have dug for themselves. smile

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Posted: 18 December 2006 03:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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[quote author=“advocatus”]Every now and then, a Christian will bring up the ancient canard, “it takes more faith to believe in Evolution than it does to believe in God.”  My traditional response is, “Thank you!  I assume you believe that faith is a good thing, and you are complimenting me on the fact that atheists have so much more of it than you Christians do.”

This usually leaves them stunned as they try and think of a way out of the hole they have dug for themselves. smile

Very good rhetorical ploy, advocatus.

But take care with it ... in the final analysis I’m sure you don’t want to give them the idea you agree with their opinions that faith is a good thing, or that one needs faith to believe in evolution.

In fact, so far as I can see, the only way they could believe one would need faith to believe in evolution is if they are entirely ignorant as to the evidence.

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Posted: 20 December 2006 02:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”]In fact, so far as I can see, the only way they could believe one would need faith to believe in evolution is if they are entirely ignorant as to the evidence.

Yes, that’s usually the point I eventually get around to (once they are able to speak again).

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