Aggravating Atheist Double Standards

One of the things I love about atheists is their constant use of complete double standards.  It’s why I can’t be an atheist: I’m way too consistent.

First some background:

Jennifer Fulwiler wrote a post about five Catholic beliefs that would make sense to atheists.  The spirit in which she wrote it would be to show that Catholicism is intellectually honest, not that an atheist would actually agree that those beliefs as true.  As only he can, PZ Myers wrote a response entitled “Jennifer Fulwiler: Vacant-eyed, Mindless Cluelessness Personified.”  He essentially dismissed each point as supernatural nonsense, so no atheist would ever actually agree to any of them.

But that wasn’t Jennifer’s point.  Her point:

I evidently did not make it clear enough that all of my examples were meant only to illustrate the intellectual consistency within Catholicism, and therefore assumed that you would be in a discussion with an atheist who would stipulate belief in God for the sake of argument. E.g. In the case of Purgatory, when I was an atheist I would have said, “All belief in the supernatural is crazy. But if you must believe in all that God and heaven mumbo jumbo, then, yeah, you need Purgatory in order not to contradict your own bizarre little belief system.” (source, emphasis added)

The first comment to that post, addressed to Jennifer, is the atheist double standard:

“intellectual consistency within Catholicism”

I would ask then if it is possible to get a blood born disease from the blood of christ when taking communion?

I read your original article, and as an atheist I did not agree with a single point (none of the teachings made “sense” to me”, and as PZ suggested, I am not convinced you had arrived at your previous atheism from an intellectual standpoint.  It sounds as if you were just a theist in denial or in “thenial” – it happens all the time.

There it is: the No True Scotsman Fallacy.  Basically, DKeane is saying that Jennifer wasn’t a true atheist, because true atheists would never convert to theism.  She’s been a theist all along.

No, he doesn’t specifically say that a true atheist would never convert to theism, but that is the unspoken assumption underlying this brief comment.  No comments asking me to specify where he says that, please.  If you think there is another underlying assumption, then please argue it.

Now, here’s the double standard.  If I say that (for example) Fred Phelps isn’t a Christian, I get accused of the No True Scotsman Fallacy.  There’s a problem with that.  I can show why, from the Bible, Fred Phelps isn’t a Christian.  The No True Scotsman Fallacy requires an ad hoc redefinition of a term to exclude folks that are inconvenient to a position one holds.

Now, I wouldn’t exclude Paula White, Pat Robertson, or Joel Osteen from being Christians.  However, they are also quite inconvenient to my position.  Though each has examples of bad doctrine (Paula White is a Judaizer and divorced her husband for personal gain, for example), I’d like to grant them the benefit of the doubt that they mean well and are simply ignorant of the correct doctrine.  Phelps receives no benefit of the doubt for me, because in addition to embracing heresies, his conduct is unbecoming.

Phelps is a hyper-Calvinist, who believes that only his church is saved.  He doesn’t believe that the gospel should be preached, in defiance of Matthew 28:16-20.  Of the marks of a true Christian in Romans 12:9-21, he does exactly none of them.

  • Phelps curses the United States regularly, which he sees as the enemy of God (and himself, by extension).
  • He doesn’t live in harmony with his own family, let alone the rest of humanity.
  • His church doesn’t associate with anyone, including the lowly.
  • He has repaid evil for evil, once preaching a sermon against his future daughter-in-law, calling her a slut.  This is but one example of him not doing what is honorable in the sight of all.
  • His protests are tantamount to trying to avenge evil for evil, rather than leaving that to the action of God.
  • Show me some good that Fred Phelps has done.

Conclusion: Fred Phelps is not a Christian.  He doesn’t live by any ideals that Christians hold dear, and his doctrine is seriously skewed.  He meets neither the intellectual nor does he evidence any of the spiritual workings that we’d expect to see of a “true Christian.”

So, saying “Fred Phelps is no Christian” is not an ad hoc redefinition.  Those marks of a true Christian have been there, in the Bible for all to read, for 2000 years; I didn’t add them just to say Phelps isn’t a Christian.

However, as inconvenient for my position as the words, doctrine, and actions of Joel Osteen, Paula White, and Pat Robertson are, I really can’t find a reason to not give their claim to Christianity the benefit of the doubt.  Let’s just not judge Christianity by the crazies, okay?

As for Jennifer Fulwiler not being a “true atheist,” or being a “theist in denial,” let’s see that argued as opposed to asserted.

The same has been asserted for Anthony Flew.  It was even proposed that Flew had just gone senile in his old age.  After all, it’s hard to argue that Anthony Flew was always a theist in denial since he did so much to advance the cause of atheism, having participated in many debates and writing several books on the subject of atheism.  Yet, atheists still try to find an ad hoc way to dismiss his conversion, just as they are trying with Jennifer, just as they try with all converts from atheism to theism.

Double standard.  Special pleading.  All of it.

About Cory Tucholski

I'm a born-again Christian, amateur apologist and philosopher, father of 3. Want to know more? Check the "About" page!

Posted on August 4, 2011, in Apologetics. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Sorry, you’re making a hasty generalization, which is a fallacy itself.

    If an atheist made a comparable list of Christians making the same sorts of errors as you have listed, would you conclude that you couldn’t be a Christian because you’re too consistent?

  2. I’d like to readily admit that Fred Phelps isn’t a Christian because of his actions. But you and I both know that we aren’t save by our works, correct?

  3. this is detailed background information on Antony Flew, and his book, and his changnig views:

  4. I actually see what you’re saying about people not being Christians, about standards that should be met…but I think that if we looked at what Jesus recommended and how people live today, NOBODY would be a Christian…and I have to add: ESPECIALLY YOU, héhéhé…I really don’t see how Calvinism works with what Jesus was saying back then…but I’d personally still call you a Christian…as you see, we have to be less harsh, seek a consensus…if they use the Bible and not the Koran or another holy book, (say they) follow Christ, etc, call themselves Christians, I think they qualify, and that’d be much easier on the vocabulary…on the other hand, there’s often a consensus among scientists, and when one of them doesn’t value evidence, behaves in an unscientific manner, one can say: “He’s not a scientist”. I don’t see a double standard there (but maybe I’m biased, héhé)…that said, I do hear that many pastors aren’t terrible fans of Joel Osteen, for instance, maybe there is a consensus…but that’s hard to believe when I watch him preach in his packed stadium and hear most Christians I know praise him…but saying something like “Catholics/Jehovah Witnesses/Adventists aren’t Christians” wouldn’t be easily defensible…

  5. I do actually think Anthony Flew, Francis Collins and the other later-theists were REALLY atheists when they said they were…but I’d add that they’re all probably too easily impressionable (in the way that Newton, even Einstein may have been — I know his beliefs are debated, I’d say he was slightly a deist, maybe — we’re probably ignorant about something that would explain the things those folks converted because of (unable to explain them), but they should (have) hoped for some future discovery, evolution is a fine example of Newton-type arguments against nonbelief being shattered (he talked about how illogical it was to think that the animals “popped into existence” or something)…which reminds me a point from your other short story-post, where you mention the “intolerant” way nonbelievers think one has to accept evolution…I think some nonbelievers don’t (was talking yesterday with one about when, as she said, scientists would finally “prove” it), but if you accept physics, chemistry, other stuff like that, I think it’d be hard for you to explain why, as a (relatively ignorant, as I am) layman, you don’t accept that biological evolution (macro included) occurs, going against the opinion of the majority of scientists…while you embrace what they tell you on practically ANY other subject (hopefully, héhé…I hope you think neutron stars exist, that photosynthesis occurs, even though you never directly observed those things)…

  6. Atheist would believe Elvis is still alive rather that consider for 1 full second that God is real…..True or false?And Why?.

    • I don’t know. I’m not an atheist, as you can plainly see.

      My guess is that an atheist would entertain claims of Elvis being alive more seriously than claims of God’s existence, but that’s a personal opinion based primarily on their overwhelming hostility to the entire concept of God. Yes, I believe atheists hate God, even though they always respond with “How can you hate something that doesn’t exist?” Simple: you can hate its conception. As Randal Rauser put it: “If God exists and he exists as you describe, then I hate him.” See here.

      In other words, TRUE.

      • Héhéhé…I’M an atheist, as you can plainly see…so let me enlighten thee, haha…:

        I agree almost entirely, Cory…I do hate the concept of God put forward by the Bible (or even One who would throw people in Hell at all, or let famine rage in Somalia…I mean, as I said in another comment the other day, you admitted he might be somewhat tyrannical, though “rightly” so, in the past). But I don’t HATE God, ’cause I don’t think He exists…it’s like hating the character Rumpelstiltskin…you probably don’t like the IDEA of him, but you don’t seriously HATE him…

        As for the other part, about Elvis, héhé, I WOULD entertain claims of him being alive (by some natural means, of course) more seriously than Jesus rising from the dead (I wouldn’t take either terribly seriously, though)…again, that wouldn’t go against everything scientists know…as for God’s existence (a deist God, of course…maybe I would put the Christian/Muslim/Hindu One in the same category as the resurrection), I could (do, actually) seriously consider One’s existence…my failure to CONCLUDE that one must exist shouldn’t be confused with an inability to CONSIDER it, héhé…it’s a hypothesis that needs evidence that hasn’t yet been provided, though the failure of scientists to fully explain our origins may be misconstrued as such…again, science has often pushed back the need for a God; it wouldn’t be intellectually responsible to assume that it’s going to be halted at this stage, and to conclude that one is needed because science hasn’t given us a full understand of everything…

    • I was considering replying to your link, but two factors have made me decide that you are not worthy of serious consideration.

      First, in the linked post you say of “apostasy”:

      Christians like those big words like that, it makes them sound smarter.

      That is funny. We use words like that because they convey the specific meaning we are looking for, not to sound big and smart. But you can’t even SPELL apostasy, so we need not resort to wordplay tricks to confound you.

      Second, your About page tells me all I need to know in one sentence:

      Not many people will agree with the arguments I throw out but I cannot help it if some people are irrational about their belief or unbelief.

      Yeah, you’re right and those who disagree with you are irrational. YOU ARE A TROLL. This is all the attention that you will get from me, so enjoy it. You aren’t welcome here and unless you offer something more than nonsensical links I will start deleting your comments. There’s your first warning.

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