Dawson's Posts to the Theism vs. Atheism Web

May-June, 2002

In May 2002, I, Dawson Bethrick - known on MSN chat circles as "CertainVerdict,", was invited to join the Theism vs. Atheism Web - an e-mail discussion ring devoted to debates between theists and atheists on such topics as "Does God exist?" "Is Christian morality fit for man?" and others which involve a broad range of philosophical issues. Because I am an Objectivist, I am consequently an atheist. As I am fond of saying, "I don't believe in invisible magic beings." Of course, invisible magic beings disapprove of my non-belief, but that's another story. ;)

The following 67 posts, ranging in size from 1 to 33 kb, were posted to the Theism vs. Atheism Web between May 3 and June 14, 2002. A large majority of my posts are interaction with Christian apologist Peter Pike, who hosts a website on the internet - www.debateatheism.org - which showcases his apologetic stance. Much of the energy I put out in my posts to the Theism vs. Atheism Web is devoted to introducing theists like Mr. Pike to Objectivism, a philosophy with which most theists have very little firsthand familiarity.

Each post follows the same basic format. Quoted statements are introduced with the underlined name of the author with the quoted statements appearing within quotation marks. My responses follow without quotation marks.

I put in my 2 cents on the following threads:

Notes on the Story of Abraham and Isaac from Gen. 22 (4 posts)

Question: Are there Atheistic Terrorists? (4 posts)

The "Virtues" of Catholic Morality? (4 posts)

The Epistemology of Certainty (26 posts)

Demon Reasoning (3 posts)

Sundry Topics about "Freethinkers" (13 posts)

The Epistemology of Proof (9 posts)

Comments about Peter Pike (PWP) (3 posts)

Who Won the Debate? (1 post)

Let the debates begin!



Notes on the Story of Abraham and Isaac from Gen. 22 (4 posts):

Abraham, Isaac, and Little Voices in the Head (Abraham No. 3 - May 3, 2002): "Bone" asked some topical questions about biblegod's desire for Abraham to be willing to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. I reply to those questions and introduce some new points of my own. (6 kb)

The Unreasonableness of a God Who Desires Human Sacrifice (Abraham No. 5 - May 3, 2002): In this response I make some additional points about the unreasonableness of the Judeo-Christian god of the Bible. (6 kb)

A Review of Pike's "The Sacrifice of Isaac" (Abraham No. 9 - May 8, 2002): This is my review of Christian apologist Peter Pike's essay The Sacrifice of Isaac. (13 kb)

The Lessons of Abraham and Isaac (Abraham No. 10 - May 12, 2002): My final comments on the story of Abraham and Isaac. (13 kb)


Question: Are there Atheistic Terrorists? (4 posts):

Can an Atheist Be a Terrorist? (Atheist Terrorists No. 3 - May 5, 2002): I point out that terrorism is not the exclusive domain of religionists, in spite of the current call for "jihad" against the west by Muslim clerics. For it is certainly possible for atheists to instigate terrorism. (7 kb)

The Goal of a Collectivist (Atheist Terrorists No. 5 - May 5, 2002): I point out that religious and secular dictatorships are motivated by "the lust for power over others."  (3 kb)

Hitler and the Power Lust Inherent in Religion (Atheist Terrorists No. 8 - May 6, 2002): Contrary to typical Christian attempts to distance themselves from Hitler and his atrocities, I show how Hitler was a religious man and considered himself to be "doing the Lord's work." (10 kb)

A Point of Clarification to Godless6 (Atheist Terrorists No. 9 - May 6, 2002): In this message I offer a few final points of clarification about the nature of collectivism and its likely role in terrorism. (3 kb)

The "Virtues" of Catholic Morality? (4 posts):

Why Should One Be Moral? (Catholic Morality No. 3 May 6, 2002): An encounter with Christian apologist Peter Pike and his questions about morality, such as "What objective reason is there to hold to morals?" (4 kb)

What is the Proper Definition of 'Morality'? (Catholic Morality No. 6 May 7, 2002): Here I interrogate Peter Pike's responses to determine what definitions the Christian apologist is assuming in his unsupported assertions.(7 kb)

Does Man Need Morality? (Catholic Morality No. 7 May 7, 2002): Here I continue my interrogation of Peter Pike's views of morality, looking to see how 'biblical morality' addresses this crucial question (if it does). (13 kb)

Examining Meta-Ethical Considerations (Catholic Morality No. 8 May 7, 2002): In this message I attempt to educate Peter Pike on the radical nature of Objectivist morality while simultaneously deflecting his misrepresentations of the Philosophy of Reason. (20 kb)

The Epistemology of Certainty (26 posts):

Pike's Enshrinement of Certainty (Certainty No. 2 May 15, 2002): I examine Peter Pike's attempt to argue against the certainty of Objectivism while making room for his god-belief. I note that "the road to god-belief is always paved with fallacy." (14 kb)

Definitions, Dreams and Peter's Persisting Skepticism (Certainty No. 4 May 16, 2002): Here I point out the importance of being consistent with one's philosophical commitments and expose the stolen concepts which plague Peter Pike's extreme skepticism. (28 kb)

The Fundamentality of Existence and Pike's Continued Squirming (Certainty No. 5 May 16, 2002): Here I continue to try to educate Peter Pike on the nature of Objectivism's fundamentals. It is apparent, however, that Pike resists this new learning. (21 kb)

Pike's Package-Dealing (Certainty No. 6 May 16, 2002): I continue my relentless sparring with Christian apologist Peter Pike's persistent misunderstanding of reality. Pike attempts to conclude that "existence, in its root form... is consciousness," which is a blatant package-deal. (18 kb)

Plumbing the Depths of Peter's Denial (Certainty No. 7 May 16, 2002): I again interact at length with Peter Pike's attempts to skirt around his stolen concepts and other cognitive faux pas. (31 kb)

The Persistence of Evasion (Certainty No. 8 May 16, 2002): And again, I point out the fundamental errors choking Peter Pike's attempt to package-deal existence and consciousness as if these concepts had identical meaning. (17 kb)

The Primacy of the Material of the 'Immaterial' (Certainty No. 9 May 16, 2002): In this message I carefully explain to Peter Pike why the concept 'immaterial' is epistemologically subordinate to the concept 'material'. This has grave consequences for Peter's overall position, whether he recognizes it or not. (18 kb)

The Senses Are Not "Inaccurate" (Certainty No. 11 May 18, 2002): In this posting I present a short argument pointing to those facts which tell us that the idea that "the senses are inaccurage" is based on a stolen concept. (5 kb)

Did I Hear Something? (Certainty No. 13 May 20, 2002): I post a short statement intended to make a point. However, since the Peter Pikes of the world, like all Witch Doctors, are predisposed to disintegrated thinking, my point most likely fell on deaf ears. (2 kb)

This Horse Has No Pulse (Certainty No. 16 May 21, 2002): In this message I confirm that there is no use in beating a dead horse, even though Peter Pike continues to administer doses of cyanide to his own position. (22 kb)

Surveying More of Pike's Unargued Assertions (Certainty No. 21 May 23, 2002): In this message I expose numerous baseless claims cast around by the apologist Pike, such as "Physical existence is not necessary to determine the axioms of existence, consciousness, and identity," and "The world is not necessarily physical in nature." I challenge Pike to present his overall argument in the form of a formal syllogism. Will Pike rise to the occasion? (13 kb)

The Conceptual Permafrost of Religious Illusion (Certainty No. 23 May 28, 2002): Here I press the apologist Pike to explain his position that "if we deny all physical existence, existence still is." I note that "Reality doesn't 'snap into order' simply because Peter is in denial." (27 kb)

The Persistence of Fallacy  (Certainty No. 30 May 29, 2002): In spite of my numerous attempts to educate apologist Pike that the fact of existence is not open to proof (since it must be assumed in order to construct any proofs), Pike still commits himself to cognitive error. (1 kb)

Pike's Syllogisms (Certainty No. 33 May 31, 2002): Peter Pike, per my challenge, attempted to present his argument "in the form of a lucid syllogism," and I examine Peter's premises. Do Peter's arguments have any lasting substance? (22 kb) 

The Trappings of Mental Disfigurement (Certainty No. 34 May 31, 2002): I reply to a series of plaintive statements by Pike, who has by this point become visibly frustrated by the failure of his attempts to rock my foundations (which is his ambition), let alone convince me that his god-belief has genuine rational merits. (15 kb)

Interview with the Monkey (Certainty No. 35 May 31, 2002): I interact with questions and criticisms posed by "Monkey" and devote much space to correcting the misunderstandings which saturate the assumptions in his statements and questions.  (33 kb)

A Reply to Godless6 (Certainty No. 40 June 2, 2002): Here I reply to the congratulatory statements of another atheist on the Theism vs. Atheism Web. Expect some comments about statements made by Peter Pike. (4 kb)

Correcting Pike... Again! (Certainty No. 43 June 3, 2002): In this posting I emphasize - for the umpteenth time - that Peter Pike simply does not comprehend Objectivism if his statements are taken to reflect his understanding. (2 kb)

Is Objectivism a Materialist Philosophy? (Certainty No. 55 June 5, 2002): I briefly answer a simple question posed by Peter Pike, who posts a quote from a materialist philosopher and asks whether or not it describes Objectivism. (Why can't Pike simply read something by an Objectivist to learn what Objectivism teaches?) (2 kb)

Can the Senses Sense the "Immaterial"? (Certainty No. 58 June 6, 2002): I give a brief reply to yet another question posed by the hardheaded Peter Pike, a question which he would be able to answer for himself if he devoted some effort to studying Objectivism firsthand. (3 kb)

The "Non-Physical" as an Attribute of Entities (Certainty No. 59 June 8, 2002): In this message I respond to some questions posed by Peter Pike, who wanted to know more about the interaction of the "non-physical" with the senses. (13 kb)

Einstein, Gravity, and Objectivism's Implications in the Field of Physics (Certainty No. 62 June 10, 2002): In this posting I respond to questions by Lordbyron, who is concerned about the implications of the Philosophy of Reason with respect to current thinking in the field of physics. (6 kb)

More Discussion on the "Immaterial" (Certainty No. 63 June 10, 2002): I interact with a number of questions from Monkey, who wants to know how I would justify the position that the "immaterial" - if it exists - is dependent upon the "material." (7 kb)

Entities Versus Attributes (Certainty No. 65 June 10, 2002): Citing various Objectivist sources, I respond to Monkey's questions about the distinctions between entities and attributes. (16 kb)

The Engine of Pike's Resentment (Certainty No. 67 June 11, 2002): In this mesage I respond selectively to Peter Pike's accuasation that Objectivism's rejection of the supernatural is unjustified. (2 kb)

Dawson's Last Word on the Certainty Thread (Certainty No. 78 June 14, 2002): This is my brief comment in response to Godless6 to close his case on the thread. (2 kb)

Demon Reasoning (3 posts):

Should Debate Not Be "So Argumentative"? (Demon Reasoning No. 3 May 27, 2002): Someone with the moniker "human spirit" objects to argumentative debate and thinks people should become humble in order to realize peace. Here's my reply. (8 kb)

What Would Get My Attention? (Demon Reasoning No. 5 May 27, 2002): "Monkey" asked an atheist what he would accept as evidence of a god. Here I give some suggestions on what kind of evidence would "get my attention." (3 kb)

A Reply to Monkey about Miracles, Universes and Ayn Rand (Demon Reasoning No. 12 June 4, 2002):  "Monkey" responded to my May 27 post to the Theism vs. Atheism web, taking exception to my admission that an instance of a miracle would "get my attention." Here's my reply to "Monkey." (11 kb)

Sundry Topics about "Freethinkers" (13 posts):

Definition of an Atheist (Freethinkers No. 15 May 31, 2002): - Dawson provides the Theism vs. Atheism Web with a proper definition of 'atheist'. (6 kb)

Atheism is Normal (Freethinkers No. 21 June 3, 2002): - In this posting I attempt to explain to Christian apologist Peter Pike why atheism is actually a normal condition for man. I respond to numerous questions by Pike, who of course takes exception to the rational position.  (18 kb)

Abortion is a Woman's Natural Right (Freethinkers No. 25 June 3, 2002): I respond to a question by Peter Pike about abortion and why a woman's right to choose supercedes the supposed rights of a fetus. (3 kb)

Do You Want To Murder? (Freethinkers No. 39 June 4, 2002): I respond to a presumptuous statement by apologist Pike, asking a poignant, direct question. (1 kb)

The Bible Versus Individual Rights (Freethinkers No. 44 June 5, 2002): Christian apologist Peter Pike insinuates that man's individual rights are "God-given." Do the biblical citations which Peter provides in support of this claim actually support this claim? Here I show why they don't. (5 kb)

Man's Basic Right: To Exist for His Own Sake (Freethinkers No. 52 June 8, 2002): In this message I give succinct answers to three questions by the ever-inquisitive Peter Pike on the issue of man's rights. (2 kb)

The Ten Commandments Versus Man's Rights (Freethinkers No. 53 June 8, 2002): In a response to Christian apologist Peter Pike, I point out the incompatibility of the "10 commandments" with Man's individual right to exist for his own sake. (12 kb)

Jesus' Silence on Slavery (Freethinkers No. 54 June 8, 2002): Here I point out to Christian apologist Peter Pike that the New Testament's "savior" Jesus Christ nowhere condemns the practice of slavery. I show why Peter's evasions on this issue only support my case that biblical religions are not compatible with man's right to exist for his own sake. (8 kb)

Christianity Versus Man's Rights (Freethinkers No. 55 June 8, 2002): In a detailed post, I explain to apologist Peter Pike that the Bible's failure to inform and incompatibility with the doctrine of man's individual right to exist for his own sake make Bible-based religions fundamentally antagonistic toward man. I also explain why these facts refute the common belief that America was founded on "biblical principles." (14 kb)

The Image of God Is Not the Basis of Man's Rights (Freethinkers No. 56 June 8, 2002): In this posting I reply to Peter Pike's claim that man's rights are "dependent upon God's nature," even though he admits that "the Bible isn't clear on what specifically the image of God is." (8 kb) 

The Bible's Hatred of Man's Right to Exist (Freethinkers No. 58 June 10, 2002): Here I provide a virtual storehouse of ammo against the idea that the rights of man identified in the Declaration of Independence find their source in "Scripture." (16 kb)

Peter's Appeal to Authority (Freethinkers No. 60 June 10, 2002): Peter had submitted a set of quotes from America's founding intellectuals (reposted here) to support his position that the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution are religious in nature. The Rev had also submitted a set of quotes (reposted here) from the same intellectuals which calls into question Peter's position. Meanwhile, I explain why quotes do not supercede the nature of the principles of the founding documents in question. (4 kb)

American Philosophy and the Virtue of Selfishness (Freethinkers No. 62 June 11, 2002): In this message I explain to Peter Pike that America owes its success as a nation to the rational selfishness engendered in the concept that the individual has the right to exist for his own sake. (26 kb)


The Epistemology of Proof (9 posts):

Starting Points (Proof No. 6 May 9, 2002): Here I interact with Christian apologist Peter Pike's questions about the validity of the Objectivist axioms. It is clear that Pike thinks that the Objectivist axioms pose a lethal threat to his god-beliefs. He should. (26 kb) 

Logic and the Law of Identity (Proof No. 9 May 10, 2002): In this posting I attempt to explain to Peter Pike how logic is a method of non-contradictory identification whose basis is the law of identity, as informed by the Philosophy of Reason. Who could disagree with this? (18 kb)

Pike's Effete Clash with Objectivism (Proof No. 12 May 10, 2002): Christian apologist Peter Pike again attempts to criticize Objectivism, this time citing quotes from the Ayn Rand Institute. Do Pike's points hold water? I show why they don't.  (22 kb)

Lordbyron the Inquisitor (Proof No. 13 May 10, 2002): In this message I respond to a series of nifty questions lobbed by someone who dons the moniker "Lordbyron." I discuss the nature of axioms and offers some details on the nasty 'stolen concept' fallacy. (17 kb)

Peter's Test of Time (Proof No. 14 May 10, 2002): Peter Pike challenged me to unravel a poorly conceived puzzle which is supposed to invalidate the Objectivist axioms. Here is my response. (4 kb)

Axioms, Godel, and Lordbyron's Confusion (Proof No. 20 May 13, 2002): Here I interact with another set of questions about the Objectivist axioms posed by Lordbyron. (21 kb)

"God exists" as an Axiom? (Proof No. 21 May 13, 2002): This tiny post in response to Lordbyron is pithy and to the point. (1 kb)

The Non-Circular Nature of the Objectivist Axioms (Proof No. 23 May 13, 2002): Peter Pike attempts to accuse Objectivism of circularity since the axioms are readily admitted to be unproved. I simply point out how and why Peter misses the point. (7 kb)

Informing the Context of Proof (Proof No. 25 May 13, 2002): Again, I explain to thickheaded Christian apologist Peter Pike why a proof of the axioms is neither possible nor necessary, and that this fact does not mean that one must accept the axioms "on faith." (15 kb)


Comments about Peter Pike (PWP) (3 posts):

Those Nasty Splinters (PWP No. 5 May 15, 2002): In this message I correct a frequently encountered misconception of atheism (atheism is not a worldview!), point out that apologists must consult sources outside of the Bible in order to defend it, and ask the perennial question: "Why read the Bible when you can read Atlas Shrugged?" (5 kb)

Christianity Versus America (PWP No. 7 May 15, 2002): Here I point out to Peter Pike that the philosophical foundations of the Constitution of the United States are not Christian in nature. (15 kb)

Cornering a Theist on the Run (PWP No. 8 May 15, 2002): In what seems an endless chore, I combat numerous misrepresentations of the Philosophy of Reason peddled about by Christian apologist Peter Pike, who is obviously in over his head. In this reply to Pike, I piont out, "Proof is the process of logically relating that which is not perceptually self-evident to that which is perceptually self-evident." (18 kb)


Who Won the Debate? (1 post):

Why My Writings Are So "Wordy" (Who Won? No. 24 May 11, 2002): In a short note to "The Rev," I explain why my mailers are so lengthy. (2 kb)

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