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Attempted “Logic” Fails

On the website CantonRep.com, Ron L. Dalpiaz wrote a letter to the editor about the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s “Imagine No Religion” billboard in Canton, Ohio. The letter appeared on December 18th, 2008.

Mr. Dalpiaz evidently does not approve of the billboard, nor does he approve or agree with the FFRF’s Annie Laurie Gaylor’s comments about religion. That’s understandable. I don’t always agree with everything she says, either, even though I’m a FFRF member. One of the wonderful things about this country (the USA) is our freedom to disagree and express our disagreement. The First Amendment of our Constitution guarantees that.

In that light, I would like to point out the logical failings of Mr. Dalpiaz’s statements and show that, in numerous cases, his statements are the exact opposite of what is actually true. Sadly, I see this kind of illogical rhetoric all the time and it’s frustrating to say the least.

Here’s the letter (quoted) along with my comments.

“Imagine No Religion”: A Canton billboard bearing this message was pictured in a Repository article (“Group blames religion for world’s woes,” Dec. 11). Quotes from Freedom From Religion Foundation spokeswoman Annie Laurie Gaylor include: “We are the largest, national organization of freethinkers; we all disbelieve in the same God.”

A logic check is in order. If no God exists, then there is nothing to disbelieve in, and no need to waste time and money discrediting a nonexistent being. One must assume she perceives a being, an existing God.

Yes. A logic check is in order, but not a check on Ms. Gaylor. To atheists, “God” is a concept… an idea. It’s a concept created by man. So, of course, the concept of God exists, as do the concepts of the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, Zeus, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, and Russell’s Teapot. However, beyond the concept, we don’t believe any of them actually exist. Mr. Dalpiaz seems to be saying that in order to disbelieve something, it must actually exist in the first place, which is patently and obviously false.

Gaylor again: “When government gets into suppressing speech, that’s the worst form of censorship,” arguing that religion and belief in God are a “great source of divisiveness.”

Government censorship is bad. Perhaps debatably the worst, but definitely bad. As for religion and belief in God, history has shown repeatedly and unequivocally that they are a source of divisiveness. Anyone who’s ever had a high school history class (and paid attention) can verify that. Anyone who’s relatively up to date on international current events can verify that. The situation within Iraq is a prime example. The situation between Israel and Palestine is another.

Recall the divisive efforts of atheists such as Michael Newdow campaigning to remove “In God We Trust” from our coinage, and the relentless ACLU anti-Christian campaigns.

They file suits in government courts. Their logic system condones suppressing constitutionally guaranteed religious expression.

Newdow filed suit to remove “In God We Trust” from coinage because it violates the First Amendment. The Supreme Court did not agree, though they came close, by ruling that “In God We Trust” is not a religious phrase, which relegates “God” to the level of a political slogan… a mascot.

The ACLU does not create or run anti-Christian campaigns. Mr. Dalpiaz obviously does not understand the idea of civil liberties in accordance with the First Amendment. The ACLU files suits to preserve the separation of church and state in order to keep our country from heading down the path of becoming a theocracy. The ACLU is definitely not anti-Christian. Contrary to Mr. Dalpiaz’s statement that their “logic system condones suppressing (sic) constitutionally guaranteed religious expression”, the ACLU fights for the exact opposite. They are attempting to preserve that guaranteed religious expression… for everyone, not just for Christians. The ACLU does not file suit to stop churches from holding services or to stop Christians from expressing their beliefs. They file suit to stop Christians from trying to insinuate their dogma and their ideology into our government.

“We just think if you’re going to believe in something, have some evidence for it, and not just faith,” says Gaylor.

No evidence supports atheism. It is a belief system based on atheists’ faith that no God exists.

In a way, Mr. Dalpiaz is correct in that “no evidence supports atheism” but in a backward sort of way. It’s not really that no evidence supports atheism but that a complete lack of evidence supports atheism. Since there is no evidence of the existence of a supreme being, nor has their ever been evidence, atheism is a logical and rational conclusion.

In addition, Atheism is not a belief system. It is one belief (or lack of belief)… period. There is no set of rules, no dogma, no holy book, nor any ideology. In my case, it’s a lack of belief in the supernatural, including God. In some atheist’s cases, it’s a belief that there is no god. There is a distinct difference, but in both cases, there is no belief system.

If there is no God, why are atheist freethinkers so threatened that they must launch anti-God campaigns?

Atheists are not threatened by God. They are threatened by anti-intellectual, uneducated religious zealots who want to insinuate their religious dogma into our government. They are threatened by religious fundamentalists who, because of their hypocritical lack of tolerance, want to throw out the First Amendment of our Constitution and create a government based on Christian theology.

Though Mr. Dalpiaz doesn’t give a specific example of the atheist’s so-called “anti-God campaigns,” it’s more likely that the actions are geared toward either protesting the lack of church-state separation or toward protecting existing church-state separation. It seems that many Christians view such actions as anti-God, rather than pro United States.

God is no threat. Fundamentalist religious zealots attempting to commandeer the government are a threat.

Imagine no religion? Easy. Daily, we see the negative results of a society losing its religious heritage.

As 2009 approaches, corporate and personal greed and corruption are leading to suffering not seen since the Great Depression.

Since Mr. Dalpiaz wasn’t specific about what he means by “religious heritage,” I’ll have to leave that alone. I will say, however, that the United States, though populated mostly by Christians of one form or another, does not have a “Christian” government and was not founded on “Christian” principles. For more detail, see my related post about why the United States is not a Christian Nation.

As for the negative results that Mr. Dalpiaz is seeing, the only ones specified are corporate greed and corruption which he says are leading to suffering. I’m not sure if I understand what the connection is between atheism and these “negative results” since Mr. Dalpiaz again avoids any specifics. Perhaps the insinuation is that the lack of belief in a divine creator has somehow magically trounced Wall Street? I don’t know and I don’t want to presume to know what Mr. Dalpiaz is thinking in this case.

We need to ask if religion is to blame. Are the “intellectual elites” who strive to eradicate God from our nation worthy of our allegiance?

Or might it be that religion, which identifies the loving God who presented us with the guidelines for correct living based on Judeo-Christian principles, the only hope we have?

Oh, the Grand Finale! There’s so much of a train wreck in these last three sentences that it’s almost hard to know where to begin.

Again, with another vague statement, Mr. Dalpiaz says we need to ask if religion is to blame… for what? The “negative results” mentioned earlier? Was that ever a claim? I don’t recall Ms. Gaylor saying that. Perhaps I missed it.

Then comes the perennial favorite of religious folks and right-wing conservatives… the “intellectual elites.” In Mr. Dalpiaz’s case, it seems he feels that the “intellectual elites” are striving to eradicate God from our nation. There are two issues here. The first is his reference to intellectual elites. This always seems to mean “people with more education than you have.” I’ve always heard this stated as a negative, insinuating that it’s not good to have an education… that it’s not good to be intelligent… that it’s not good to understand science or to think rationally. This is ignorant absurdity at its worst. Why do religious zealots (and right-wing conservatives) so frequently criticize education and intelligence? Why does it seem to be more popular in this country today to be an uneducated, “everyday Joe,” anti-intellectual than to be someone who strives to educate onself and think with rationality and logic?

The second issue is that he somehow feels (let me paraphrase) “smart people are trying to get rid of God.” I don’t think that’s the case at all. I think smart people are trying to protect the Constitution of the United States from right-wing religious zealots, but I don’t think they’re trying to get rid of God. Based on Mr. Dalpiaz’s previous statements, I’ll just assume that he misinterprets the actions of the “smart people” because he’s not clear on what the First Amendment says.

On to the last sentence; Mr. Dalpiaz’s sweeping statement of Christian self-righteousness. The reference to a “loving God” is somewhat laughable, given Biblical text. The collected actions of the Biblical God are more vile and heinous that all the actions of the mythological Greek and Roman gods combined. Perhaps Mr. Dalpiaz isn’t referring to the Biblical God, though he does imply that with a reference to Judeo-Christian principles (which are?).

I’m almost sure that he isn’t referring to the Bible when he mentions “guidelines for correct living,” either, since the Bible is full of horrendous “guidelines” what with all the stoning, slavery, and subjugation of women (and that’s the New Testament).  There are some good things, yes, but as a good Christian, I don’t think you’re supposed to pick and choose what you want to follow. I don’t think anyone who’s actually read the Bible could rationally say that its contents provide the “only hope we have.”

In general, Mr. Dalpiaz misses the entire difference between being anti-God and being pro-Constitution. Keeping church and state separate is a basic principle of the First Amendment and when Christians try to maneuver their ideological dump truck up to our governmental system, rational people are going to respond with protests and action in order to preserve the deliberately secular system of government created by our Founding Fathers.

So worship all you want. Pray all you want. Celebrate whatever holidays you want to celebrate. Just don’t expect to be using government money or government property and don’t expect to get your ideological “values” established as part of our government.

2 Comments

  1. Aaron says:

    Nicely put.

    Sometimes, when the ignorant flavor of Xtians try to use their brains, it makes my brain hurt watching them.

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