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“Well, you can’t prove that god doesn’t exist”.

Uh, yes I can.

I’m sure many of you have heard this “argument” before. Here’s a three-pronged destruction of this attempt to dodge the question that no theist can answer (“What proof do you have?”). The last nail in the coffin is saved for last – I’m sure many of you have heard the first two points but not many will have heard the last.

1. Why are you asking me to disprove your theory? That’s a burden of proof fallacy. You came up with the idea, you prove it. You don’t see me running around screaming at people “Prove I can’t fly!”. When a scientist comes up with a new theory, it’s backed by years of research, correlation with existing years of research, multiple experimentation and is then peer reviewed. When a theist has some theory his only proof is “well, you can’t prove it’s wrong”.

Well guess what? That’s literally irrational behaviour. For a refresher, see my post about Rationalism but the short of it is that rational behaviour is based on mathematical likelihood. It’s highly likely that jumping into lava will kill you, therefore it is irrational to believe otherwise. In terms of the burden of proof, the burden lies with whoever is making the extraordinary claim. As Carl Sagan once said:

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

What does this mean? Imagine I claim there is a tree in my backyard. Would a rational person contest my claim (at his own expense)? No, because even if I’m lying it’s highly likely that there is a tree in my backyard and there is little reason why I would lie about it – therefore not much proof is needed for me to assert my claim. Now, what if I claimed that I had a cat riding a unicorn shooting rainbow lasers in my backyard? Would you require proof before believing that? Apparently theists wouldn’t.

2. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Just because something hasn’t been proven to not exist, doesn’t therefore mean that it does. That’s a logical fallacy called false dichotomy. It’s also stupid – because you can think up myriad things that can’t be proven not to exist. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is a crowd favourite. Russel’s Teapot is another – you can’t prove that there isn’t a teapot orbiting Jupiter but there’s no rational cause for you to believe that in the first place.

Sometimes this is used to defend religion – just because there is no evidence of god doesn’t mean that god doesn’t exist. Well, science doesn’t work in absolutes but there is literally no rational reason for you to believe in god. However, I can indeed prove that god (or at least the definition of god as is understood by the major religions today) does not exist, which makes it doubly irrational to believe.

3. There can never be any proof of god. Why? Let’s take a look at the foundation of proof. As with the Rationalism movement, mathematics is a fundamental concept for proof. 1+1=2 regardless of what you apply it to, what you believe in and what you experience with your senses. Therefore, it follows that maths is the absolute proof – if it can exist, it can be described mathematically in some way or form. Mind you, not everything that is mathematically reconcilable exists (or at least not all of them have been proven). Maths is just the large boundary separating the possible from the impossible – just because it’s possible doesn’t mean it’s real; but if it’s impossible then it’s definitely not real.

The problem? You cannot mathematically describe god because that would be akin to removing his omnipotence. If the singularity is a point of infinite mass and infinite gravity, how do you describe a god that created this infinity? 2 x infinity? Infinity squared? It’s still infinity. Are you thus claiming that god is equal in power to a singularity? God, by definition, breaks all universal laws and defies all mathematics. It is therefore impossible to provide any proof of god – and by extension god cannot rationally exist. It is an empty concept that has lingered since ancient times for small minds to placate themselves in the absence of knowledge.

Many theists acknowledge this problem and have said that it is impossible to find any evidence of god in the universe because the act of finding such evidence would mean that god is bound by some sort of parameters allowing us to find his hand in things – hence removing his omnipotence. Fair enough, at least these people acknowledge that there can never be any evidence. The question then remains, if you’ve accepted that there is absolutely no evidence in existence to support your faith, why do you still blindly follow?

I’ve been slacking off on posts even though I have plenty of material to talk about. I guess it’s just a bit daunting to completely conceptualise and write about something complex so I’ve just taken the lazy route.

However, given that I have made plenty of posts about logic and science (and by extension, the lack of logic and science in certain religious arguments), I feel like I can take the lazy path one more time and simply copy and paste a “debate” I had with a Muslim.

Once again, I must preface any of my posts relating to religion with the disclaimer that I am not making a post to disprove the existence of god. I think that decision is up to the individual. To me it’s perfectly clear and self-evident. However, I am here to disprove the arguments used by theists.

Names have been substituted to retain privacy. This also relates somewhat to my post about tips on creating unbeatable arguments. You must excuse me though. I was unusually snappy in this debate. I’m normally much more formal and polite but this person was just frustrating on so many levels. It didn’t help that his English was atrocious and as I often champion literary prowess on this blog too, it was quite annoying to see so many English mistakes. My only excuse is that this person annoyed me on the 3 fronts I am most passionate about: English, Science and Logic. So again, excuse me for resorting to words like “stupid”. Keep in mind though, some things I said were meant to be offensive. You can’t “win” an argument against someone who’s too far gone into the world of ignorance, but you can incite an emotional response by saying certain things (in this case claiming that Christianity has more interesting arguments and that is perhaps why Christianity is a larger religious body than Islam). I only said that so I would “win” in some sense because my “opponent” was obviously not intellectually capable of keeping up.

Last disclaimer: This is pretty long, especially because he rambles a lot and 95% of what he says is both irrelevant and reminiscent of indoctrinated propaganda. Also, I apologise if anyone finds this racist. I have nothing against Muslims as a people, I was just quoting statistics.
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Context: I made a Facebook post wishing Copernicus a happy birthday and thanking him for the heliocentric model. He replied thanking Islam for having the correct answer before any scientist. Some of my more intellectual friends and I laughed it off but he proceeded to PM me and I figured “Hey, I’ve never really debated a Muslim before”.

Normally, I focus my arguments on Christians, simply because Christianity is the largest religious body and has the most influence on society (re: teaching creationism at school and creating the anti-science mentality). These propagate ignorance and stand in the way of human progress so I tend to argue strongly against them. As a result I didn’t really need to use any scientific evidence in my argument against this Muslim. I just used pure logic. The rest is self-explanatory:

Muslim:

You got to stop grouping all the religions together! If you want to find an arguement for God then pm me! I have it ready for you!

Sceptical Prophet:

I can group them all together because they’re all based on the same mistake: unreliable, or utter lack of evidence. If you have a response giving any real evidence I’m welcome to hear it.

Muslim:

Your ignorance towards the very fact that you think all the religions have the same mistake is your downfall! If you are going to be worth my time then ur going to have to distinctively separate Islam from the rest because at least then I don’t need to spoon feed you what is already been proven by scientists, professors and many many other high positioned people which includes mathatictions doctors etc etc.

– The Quran has not been changed from its original form
– The Quran teaches it followers not believe blindly but to go out and learn and test things
– The Quran has scientific facts which has baffled scientists over many generations because it keeps being relevant to its time. For example the quran has verses explaining how each planet has its own orbit something at the time was very different to the christains point of view that the world is flat. An example to how it is relevant scientifically today is the specific detail of how a baby is born and its stages that have been proven by the leading professor at the time in Child development. Scientific facts that today like In the Ocean having waves over waves has only been discovered recently.

The historical foundation which is very strong for Islam is that THE WHOLE OF ARABIA was founded because of it! The prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) didn’t know how to write nor didn’t know how to read yet God sent him with his verses of Quran guide the world, not of a message that is new but a message of Believe in One God and follow its messager which God has been doing for many generations!

So firslty the fact that you have said ” unreliable” and ” utter lack of evidence” proves to me that you are so ignorant that you really believe that no one can match ur intelligence pfft grow up! Now since all that is set aside this is what im putting forward to you!

My Religion teaches me that God the almighty is nothing of this world He is 1, meaning there is only One God. He is no human or animal or being that can be described because he is nothing of this world! My religion teaches me that the universe began at some stage when everything was together ( big bang) And I believe that it was Allah the almighty who did it because what created the universe COULD NOT OF BEEN apart of the universe!

If my religion teaches me all these things then what proof do you have that God Doesn’t exsist? I have disproven ur foundation or ideology that religion isn’t capbable of science! Disprove my religion don’t group it with false religions! Because the moment u bring science in no other religion except Islam stands firm!

my opinon is that your assumption on the fact that there is no God is that you have beaten the ideas of other religions! lol and that gives you the right to look over Islam?

Bring me your proof that God doesn’t exsist or better yet put forward for me your evidence so that Islam can disprove it with science!

Sceptical Prophet:

First of all you made an assumption error. You said my ideology is one where Islam rejects science. I never said that, did I? I’m quite aware many Islamics are concordists. Second you find false correlation. You think that certain accurate observations leads to a correct conclusion. It does not; not unless there is a causal relationship. Further, Islam was the centre of the scientific world in its Golden Age. We got Arabic numerals and the naming rights of most of the stars in the sky. Then along comes Al Ghazali who spreads the ideology of religion over science. Lo and behold, the fall of Islam. Religion has set all your countries back hundreds of years. Once upon a time your people made good observations but now they war and suffer in poverty. There hasn’t been a single Islamic Nobel Laureate in science.

Lastly, you make a burden of proof fallacy. I don’t have to provide evidence god doesn’t exist. That’s not logical. You are the one with the unscientific claim therefore you must provide evidence. Nobody says “hey, I discovered this, but you have to find the evidence yourself”. When you propose a theory you are the one who needs to provide evidence. That’s why I group Islam with the rest of them; you still haven’t provided any evidence.

Muslim:

I’m putting forward to you that every single observation made due to evidence in the Quran has reached and has proven to be a correct conclusion! I already said that to you, with reference to your casual relationship what better relationship to have when you have a book that has the words of God continuously producing showing science that when u take it and go out to learn if it is true IT SUPPORTS THE QURAN. You see psychologically you have said to me you never said Islam rejects science or ur ideology is one tat reject science. Thats rubbish the fact that you group all the religions and deem them wrong is on the basis of the lack of ” SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE” and when I said that leaves you out in the open I meant it because the Quran gives out parables and lessons and states many things, it also says to the reader and challenges the reader to disprove it!

So when a book tells its reader ” you will not find in this book any errors” and the book has science in it can’t you put the pieces together and say “oh every single observation has led to a correct conclusion” Before Islam came the people in the desert had nothing! After Islam EUROPE and the world where benifiting from what Islam gave to the arabs! It wasn’t some guy who preached religion over science! I said to you before that In Islam your meant to go and learn for yourself and test things and even includes the Quran.

Amazing isn’t it when the Muslims put their book to the test it only propagated them in knowledge whereas it only propagated christians to be atheists! I will emphasize it one more time in Islam science never left the religion! In fact it is through the religion that the science has had its foundation! Why? because when God says something in the Quran then YOU THINK IN UR HEAD ” if it is from God then he must get it 100% right or else how can a GOD get something wrong” and when you travel to see whether it is correct or not and u find it to be correct it only INCREASE UR FAITH! Ah you see how amazing is it! When you are told to go learn things and test things it makes ur foundation stronger as a believer and a means of evidence!

You don’t have to provide evidence god doesn’t exist? Thats not logical? you do realise that over the history of human kind only recently has the idea of atheisim has occured! So logically speaking to believe in a deity of any sort is the more common one in the history of human kind! So therefore the fact that you claim that believing in nothing is actually not logical.

I laugh so hard when I read your last paragraph because i knew you would not take the time to understand what I wrote before! I predicted that you would be arrogant and that would be your downfall!

The fact that I have said there is 1 God and stated the many observations that have lead to many CORRECT scientific discovers as evidence to my claim! I have already put forward to you something which is hard for you to swallow! And that is how can science prove religion! Burden of proof fallacy???? If I have put something forward to you which you can test however can’t prove it wrong and reach to conclusions that it is actually correct DOES IT NOT PROVIDE EVIDENCE? Its simple! Disprove my claims ! Show me how science disproves religion! SHOW ME HOW HUMAN KNOWLEDGE can be more vast than God’s knowledge! Bring forward your evidence that God doesn’t exsist! If you have none then Disprove my religion! If you can’t then know when you die you disbelieved out of Ignorance to the fact that Your Lord Created you and that he is only ONE!

 Sceptical Prophet

Again you use a non sequitur. There is no causal relationship, you’re grasping at straws. How is evidence of an observation evidence for anything besides that observation itself? Congratulations, you have written evidence of the observation that the sun rises at dawn. Is that evidence of god? No. It’s evidence that the sun rises at dawn. Stop trying to force a square into a circular hole. You still haven’t given any evidence of the existence of god – only evidence of natural observations.

Here’s an example that might help you understand. Is an encylopedia evidence of the existence of a magical tortoise? It certainly contains a lot of facts about the natural world. But there’s no causal relationship between observations and my magical tortoise, unless there is an actual observation of the magical tortoise itself.

This applies to your next “point” too. What if there are no errors in my encyclopedia? It still doesn’t provide evidence of a magical tortoise. Also, you’re trying to argue against history here. The FACT is that Islam fell from power when Al Ghazali preached religion over science. No matter how you try and talk around this fact, it remains a fact of history. You can’t change it – it’s already happened and you can see today that Islamic countries are suffering more for it. If the Quran was such a great scientific book, why is it that Islam has contributed nothing to science in the last millennia?

Also, your understanding of science is laughable. Religion has nothing to do with science. Science is the observation of how things in the universe work. Science existed from the moment of sentience. It predates the Quran. The Quran was only written in 610. Are you trying to claim science didn’t exist before 610? In fact, how can you even think that the Quran is the word of god. Are you saying that god didn’t exist before 610? Or do you think the world is only 1400 years old?

Add to that the fact that modern science was born from Ancient Greece, and the Greek Pantheon was completely separate to Islam. Again, you cannot argue with history. Nothing you’ve claimed so far is correct.

Also, regardless of how long religion has existed, the one making an untestable claim is the one that must provide evidence for it. I can see things around me every day that I don’t need to prove. Do I need to prove to you that trees exist? That water exists? No, because it’s common and it’s testable. God is not testable. There is no evidence of it, and therefore if you want somebody to believe in god’s existence you must provide evidence for it. That’s what logic is, son.

Plus, many religions believed in different types of gods and multiple gods. Does that mean all of these are correct? No, because you’d have to provide evidence for that particular god.

Your last paragraph is a non sequitur. It has no relation to anything we were discussing; you’re just (again) assuming a causal relationship where none exists. Refer to beginning of this post.

Remember, we’re still at step one. You haven’t provided any evidence that god exists. When you do, we can move to step two: discussing whether that evidence is acceptable or not. Keep in mind there has to be a causal relationship. Evidence of something that axiomatically provides evidence of god is a bare minimum.

Muslim:

Are you ignoring my posts? because I’m reading ur reply and majority of it I have answered it! Come on I know you can do better! Give me a valid answer or ur evidence for you think God can’t exsist! Reading you reply its lacking because I know u have been over looking my replies! This is me giving you another chance to reply with a solid answer because its really lacking.

If you don’t think so just notify me so that I can continue to show you that you are wrong!

Sceptical Prophet:

You obviously haven’t read my post properly because you haven’t answered anything. My first question still stands: what proof do you have that god exists? Proof of god, not proof of other things that you think, by extension, proves god. That’s called a non sequitur. You haven’t provided any actual proof of god, therefore nothing you’ve said has contributed. Like I said, we’re still at step one.

If anything, it just sounds like you’re avoiding the question by accusing me of not answering and by pretending you’ve already answered the question. You have not. If you don’t have an answer, just say so. No shame in that; plenty of religious academics admit they don’t have the answer to certain things. Plenty of scientists also admit the same thing.

Muslim:

Kk so I take it you think ur reply was enough!

Let me begin to destroy your lacking argument

remember when I said I believe in 1 God who is nothing of this earth, meaning nothing can resemble God or look like god. He is no human animal sun idol etc etc etc….. Why did I say that? Well if you read then you would of noticed that the big bang is from God because what created the universe could not of been apart from the universe! So you have yet to address that point and I said in my first post! So clearly you have been running away trying to make circles because you have no answer! Oh wait let me guess are you expecting me to show you God in person? Like Oh look this is God there we have proved it? No thats just stupid! Do you know why? because if God was to be anything of this universe then He would not be God, DO YOU KNOW WHY? Because the universe began with a BANG! So whatever has a begging can’t possible be a God!

Omg I told you at the start that Islam isn’t a new religion God has already sent messangers before and I am taught to believe in the previous prophets and their books but in the books purest form! Not what the bible is today! So to spoon feed you I believe in Jesus as a Prophet, Adam, Moese etc etc etc! So no if you read books you know that its stupid to say to a Muslim ” DO YOU BELIEVEW GOD EXSISTED AT THIS MOMENT!” what am I a christian? are you using a christains arguement against me? Saying that what did God come into a human form at this time so what was God doing before for thousands of years? No bro please your too easy!

With every single evidence that I have put forward to you, I’m still waiting for you to disprove any of them! Now with the magical turtle, really magical turtle, is that the best you have to offer? How foolish of you to underestimate the Quran. Didn’t I already tell you from the first response ( farout how annoying this is to repeat myself) That the Quran continue to be relevant to its time! Dude I believe in 1 God and he is my creator so logically speaking he has the lifestyle set out for me so that if I followed it I will live a happy life! So when I read this book and it has answers to whats happening in my time, gives me lessons from the previous generations and teaches me how to combat the future! It also tells me to put it to the test, so that I learn more and be on more stronger foundation! IT PROVES THAT IT COULD NOT COME FROM A MERE HUMAN BECAUSE WHICH SCIENTIST WHO HAS BROUGHT FORWARD A THEORY THAT HAS LASTED FOR OVER 1400 YEARS without people saying, it should include this! Or we have found this to be wrong? So please through away this Magical turtle!

I CHALLENGE YOU TO BRING ME UR BEST ” GOD DOES NOT EXSIST THOERY” AND I WILL DESTROY IT WITH MY RELGION! bring it to me! you said to me in our first convo that you know more, can defeat me in a discussion about God! I have put forward so many things THAT YOU CAN’T EVEN ARGUE AGAINST!

The only reason why I open this convo was to see what arguements you have

against your lord!

So that I may learn and maybe answer it

but so far I see none

Woe onto you! What will you say when you face Allah ? You can’t even produce a logical answer to why u don’t believe in God!

Sceptical Prophet:

My first question still stands. You’ve written a lot of irrelevant stuff. The only thing you’ve said that even attempts to answer my question is “god created the big bang because the universe has to be created by something outside the universe”. I don’t think you’re able to come up with a better argument so I’ll assume that’s what you’re sticking with.

So – is the big bang evidence for god? Nope. Again, you’re using evidence for something unrelated. The big bang is evidence of a singularity from which the universe expanded, and an explanation for expansion and CBR. It has nothing to do with god. Further, you claim that it has to have been started by something outside the universe, which is completely ignorant of science. Quantum mechanics allows the big bang to create itself.

You claim Islam teaches you science that remains relevant but the Islamic people, and especially yourself, are very lacking in scientific knowledge. Also, the “science” in the Quran is not fully fleshed theory. It’s just singular, unexplained observations. That’s the most primitive form of science. I can observe that the sun is hot for thousands of years before knowing the exact mechanics why.

Also, you missed the point about the magic turtle. I thought it would make it easier for you to understand but it seems to have confused you. An encylopedia can remain relevant but still not prove a magic turtle exists. The point is you’re still using evidence of other, unrelated things to try and prove god.

As for the ”Quran in its purest form” what does that mean? Are you claiming that the Quran has existed since the beginning of time? Again, where’s your evidence?

So, you’ve provided one very weak argument being that the universe need a a creator. I’ve already told you it doesn’t. What else you got?

Muslim:

The Quran was revealed to the prophet Muhammad ( peace be upon him) via recitation! The prophet Muhammad is the last prophet to come on this earth. There have been other prophets before him which God has sent to guide mankind. To every nation God sent messangers and prophets to guide them. The Torah which was given to Moses for the children of Israel was a book full of light and a guidence for that time. However over time the jews went astray and started to change what was in their book! When Jesus came it was told that he was the Messiah ( however most jews rejected him), the christians that followed Paul believed that he was the son of God! Thats why if you read the bible you would notice that Matthew mark luke and John it emphasizes that Jesus is only a man and not a God but it is Pauls writings that misleads the people. As well as that how many bibles are there? There too many types! Every christain sect takes what they want and puts in what they want! The Quran seening as though it is the last revelation has come to confirm what has come before and to shed light on the misconception that humans have to tamper with! When ever a book of God has been touched by humans the book becomes full of contradictions and become a victim to arguements! Thats why with the jews and christians they have problems with theology. Prophet Muhammad ( peace be upon him) was a man who could not read nor write, a man who lived in the desert! And his people where known as the worst people on the earth!

So a man who could not read or write, come to his people and recite such words! The miricle of Prophet Muhammad is the Quran, therefore the foundation of Islam lies with the Quran! There is only one Quran and it has been in its original form ever since it was first revealed! It contains verse along the lines of ” In this book you will not find error”

Why do I say this? Its simple, the fact that the Quran has all these scientific facts or observations ( which you speak that are lacking) it leaves itself vulnerable to being disproved! So you sit there acting as it I have no idea what the hell science is! When it was the Muslims that gave birth to tools in which scientists use which is hypoethising, observing and putting things to the test! I told you that the Quran is relevant to its time! You fool its not a book that teaches you how to get a Bach in chem or phys! Its a book that teaches you to go out and tests it observations. As time progressed new things have been discovered which was already in the quran! So a book that invites people to put it to the test and has been for over 1400 years! mathematiions, scientists you name the profession whether it has to do with Medicine, history, biology, astrology, thoelogy name whatever you want and enter the quran with the intention to test it and you find that ” IN THIS BOOK YOU WILL NOT FIND ERROR” I say to you THAT THE QURAN IS FROM GOD, GO DISPROVE IT IF YOU REALLY BELIEVE GOD DOES NOT EXSIST!

So if you did read my paragraphes you would be like ” so what?” I can’t open the Quran and on page 34 the answer to how many planets are there or the formula of general relativity! No you fool think! A man 1400 years ago who could not read or write, brought words that included this much knowledge that EVEN TODAY WE ARE DISCOVERING? You say I have not proven God, you fool i have brought you evidence you so far you haven’t been able to disprove so in a way you are agreeing that either these obersations are correct or they are lacking! You fool how can a man know that the universe once began with a bang WHEN THE THEORY CAME INTO EXSISTENCE SCIENTIFICALLY 100 YEARS AGO! How can a man bring such a book when the books before him have been DESTROYED BY SCIENTISTS? Do you know why? because the books before where touched by humans! But this Quran hasn’t SO I STILL STAND WITH THE SAME THING! THE WORDS THAT MUHAMMAD ( PEACE BE UPON HIM BROUGHT) WERE NOT FROM HIM BUT FROM GODDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD. Disprove this claim then u disprove Islam! Because every Muslim believes that The Quran came from God and the very mirical of Muhammad( peace be upon) is this Quran! You idoit the encyclopedia is written by humans! How many mistakes can you find in an encyclopedia or how many humans have to take things out or put new things in! This QURAN HAS NOT BEEN TOUCHED FOR 1400 YEARS ITS STILL IN ITS PUREST FORM! How have I misunderstood? I already told you to through ur magical turtle in the bin!

Please try better!

Sceptical Prophet:

Thanks for the lecture on religion but once again, irrelevant. Your vision is too narrow. God sent messengers and prophets to every nation? What about times pre-dating nations? When humanoids lived in tribes? Caves? When we evolved? When we were fish? When we were single celled organisms? Did god exist then? Were there messengers or magic books? Where’s your proof?

Also, the Quran says “Do think about what you read in the Quran too much or you will begin to doubt what is said”. So much for allowing you to be free thinking.

I don’t know if you fail to understand the point of each argument brought forth but you’re still talking about irrelevant stuff. I know the Quran has observations in them. They are not really “scientific”. They are simply observations – written empirical evidence. A scientific theory is observed, tested, retested, peer reviewed and encompassed by equations and empirical evidence. The “science” in the Quran is only simple observation. I don’t know why you keep going on about your supposed “science” because it doesn’t make your point any stronger. Yes, there are observations in the Quran. Are they very scientific? No. They’re primitive; which is fair enough because the Quran was written in primitive times.

Also, you claim “new things” have been discovered that was already in the Quran. First, you should source such a claim. If you don’t give specific examples, I can only answer this generally, which I already did. First, you can observe the sun is hot. You can write that down but not know how it works. It could take a thousand years for someone to come up with the exact model of atomic fusion of higher elements to describe the process of the sun being hot. That’s a “discovery” but it doesn’t mean we didn’t always know the sun was hot. You act like the Quran says things we’ve never known before but the reality is science just hasn’t had an accurate theory to describe it.

Again, please learn the difference between a scientific theory and an observation. You trying to compare observations in the Quran to fully fledged scientific theories is like trying to say a drop of water is the same as an ocean.

” “Seest thou not that Allah sends down rain
from the sky, and leads it through springs in
the earth? then He causes to grow, therewith,
produce of various colours.”
(Qur’an 39:21) ”

Ok, congratulations. Islamics have observed that rain falls from the sky and leads through springs in the Earth. They falsely attributed this to god. What evidence is there that god caused this? None. They have a simple observation and give it the easiest answer. This is not evidence of god. This is evidence that rain falls from the sky. This is the third time I’ve tried to make you understand that evidence for something is evidence for that thing only. You cannot claim something unrelated is evidence of god.

So that’s one big problem you still need to fix. Stop pretending you have evidence when you don’t. My first question still stands, what evidence do you have of god?

Second, you start to ramble a bit. I don’t know what you mean by “the books before him have been destroyed by scientists”. I can disprove the claim that “the words of Muhammad were not from him but from god” though. That’s easy to disprove. Step one: where’s your evidence? Done. You have no evidence that his words were the words of god. There are a dozen better explanations that are statistically and logically more likely.

“Because every Muslim believes that the Quran came from god”. That’s an anecdotal fallacy. It’s meaningless. In fact, 95% of everything you write is meaningless and has nothing to do with what we’re talking about. Here’s how I would destroy this quote. Who cares what every Muslim believes. They have no proof therefore it is just a belief. I can equally claim that every Christian believes Islam is wrong. Does that make every Christian right? There are more Christians than Muslims. But no, it doesn’t make them right because anecdotal “evidence” is not real evidence.

You still don’t understand the encyclopedia reference. I can’t really dumb it down further. The point is, just because a book is relevant or has facts in it doesn’t mean it’s evidence of something unrelated. If you still don’t understand that, then just don’t bother talking about the encyclopedia anymore. The encylopedia reference was just meant to help you understand that evidence of one thing does not equate to evidence of something unrelated.

Considering you’re still babbling about unrelated stuff, please stick to the topic.

I posit the question, what evidence of god do you have?

Your replies have included:

1. You claim the universe requires an outside creator to begin. I destroyed this argument and you obviously have no reply to it because you ignored it. Fair enough; I’m correct about this.

2. You claim messengers and prophets have been sent to every nation. First of all, you have no proof of this. Second of all, you ignore a good 4 billion years of time before we had nations. Does that mean god only existed when the first messenger was sent? Also, you do realise the Quran was written in 610, so it is only around 1.5 thousand years old. How does any of this prove god exists?

3. You claim the Quran contains accurate science. Not only do you fail to provide any examples, you fail to realise that a few obscure sentences does not equal a scientific fact. It takes much more to be science. Further, even if the science was accurate, how is that proof of god?

Please limit your responses to only those 3 points. So far you haven’t said anything else relevant.

Frankly, I’m disappointed. Maybe the reason Christianity is a bigger religion because it offers better arguments. At least if I were debating with a Christian I’d have a lot more arguments to play with. Christians can bring up absolute morality, axiomatic scientific evidence, the bible, cross referencing of recorded events and number of copies of scripture. The only real argument I’ve heard from you is “the universe requires something outside the universe to create it”. Everything else you’ve said isn’t really evidence of god at all.

Muslim:

LOL wow so thats it? Wow your even readying what I’m writing! Wow is it that much of a hassel for you to actually read into it or are you scared to actually not even be able to disprove it! Your exactly what I predicted you where, someone who just walks around in circles and continues to be ignorant to what I’m saying. Like look how evident it is that ur skimming through my writings! ” whats you evidence that the Quran is from God” done?? BRO ROFL GO READ IT! Here I will repost it

” A man 1400 years ago who could not read or write, brought words that included this much knowledge that EVEN TODAY WE ARE DISCOVERING? You say I have not proven God, you fool i have brought you evidence you so far you haven’t been able to disprove so in a way you are agreeing that either these obersations are correct or they are lacking! You fool how can a man know that the universe once began with a bang WHEN THE THEORY CAME INTO EXSISTENCE SCIENTIFICALLY 100 YEARS AGO! How can a man bring such a book when the books before him have been DESTROYED BY SCIENTISTS? Do you know why? because the books before where touched by humans! But this Quran hasn’t SO I STILL STAND WITH THE SAME THING! THE WORDS THAT MUHAMMAD ( PEACE BE UPON HIM BROUGHT) WERE NOT FROM HIM BUT FROM GODDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD. Disprove this claim then u disprove Islam! Because every Muslim believes that The Quran came from God and the very mirical of Muhammad( peace be upon) is this Quran! You idoit the encyclopedia is written by humans! How many mistakes can you find in an encyclopedia or how many humans have to take things out or put new things in! This QURAN HAS NOT BEEN TOUCHED FOR 1400 YEARS ITS STILL IN ITS PUREST FORM! How have I misunderstood? I already told you to through ur magical turtle in the bin!” <– where if your answer to that?

ROFL this is too easy! ” “Seest thou not that Allah sends down rain 
from the sky, and leads it through springs in 
the earth? then He causes to grow, therewith, 
produce of various colours.” 
(Qur’an 39:21) “

And your making fun that its just an observation? YOU FOOL! thats a parable to how God will ressurect us on Judgement day! See how its relevant to us today? Revealed 1400 years ago and yet today WE CAN GO OUTSIDE AND TEST IT AND UNDERSTAND THAT OMG ITS TRUE? MAYBE THE SAME WAY THIS EARTH COMES BACK MAYBE WE TOO WILL? <– please don’t skim through it!

“Thanks for the lecture on religion but once again, ” Bro seriously? I told you from the start DON’T THINK EVERY RELIGION IS THE SAME! Thats why I had to educated you a bit! But you refuse to give a valid answer and still call it rambling!!

“irrelevant. Your vision is too narrow. God sent messengers and prophets to every nation? What about times pre-dating nations? When humanoids lived in tribes? Caves? When we evolved? When we were fish? When we were single celled organisms? Did god exist then? Were there messengers or magic books? Where’s your proof?” The book of torah to Moses ( what is called old testement) the book of David ( also in the old testement) The goespels of Jesus ( known as the New testment) LOL and now ur going to talk about fishes really evolutions? So if we involved from fishes then how come they still exsist? OMG LOL no wait let me bring in a more common answer So we are evolved from apes BUT WAIT A MINUTE THEY STILL EXSIST! You giving me a theory that is yet to be proven properlly? Or have gound breaking evidence? Want me to show u fossils that disprove this claim? LOL

Are you an idoit? ” You still don’t understand the encyclopedia reference. I can’t really dumb it down further. The point is, just because a book is relevant or has facts in it doesn’t mean it’s evidence of something unrelated. If you still don’t understand that, then just don’t bother talking about the encyclopedia anymore. The encylopedia reference was just meant to help you understand that evidence of one thing does not equate to evidence of something unrelated.” I explained the Quran has not been changed I explain that there are many things to support it but guess what? The encyclopedia is from humans where as it is changed from time to time! IF A BOOK WAS FROM GOD THEN THERE SHOULDN’T NEED FOR A CHANGE OR ADD ON. AS WELL AS THAT HOW MANY PROFESSIONALS ARE NEEDED TO HELP THE ENCYCLOPEDIA? When my prophet couldn’t even write or read?????? Till now you have to tell me ” dude there is a mistake here in the Quran HAH! HOW CAN THIS FROM GOD”!

“Frankly, I’m disappointed. Maybe the reason Christianity is a bigger religion because it offers better arguments. At least if I were debating with a Christian I’d have a lot more arguments to play with. Christians can bring up absolute morality, axiomatic scientific evidence, the bible, cross referencing of recorded events and number of copies of scripture. The only real argument I’ve heard from you is “the universe requires something outside the universe to create it”. Everything else you’ve said isn’t really evidence of god at all.”

ROFL STOP I CAN’T TAKE IT LOL!!! CHRISTAINS HAVE BETTER ANSWER? They can’t even tell who is God!! The mistakes in science within the book! Omg and LOL their claim that the world is flat ROFL! Better arugments? Oh wait you referring to how its much bigger ROFL DO THE MATHS BUDDY! Islam started after Christianity I believe in Jesus! The fact that its growing at a faster rate than CHristianity is PROOF YOU KNOW JACK!!! Like here let me help you!

I as a Muslim can answer this! ” Can God create another God?”
as well as ” Can God create a rock SOO big that he can’t lift it?” As well as ” WHO WAS BEFORE GOD?” LOL All three are the best arguements against Christians that have so much problems! Where as I laugh and the best you can give me ” your still rambling”

come on I gave you an example on how hard I want questions! Give me an example!

Give me a question that can disprove what I have said

and actually read what I say!

 

I don’t need to show you evidence like quotes and stuff! As if you will take it into account? As if you will even debate it all your going to say issssss ” its a book!” where I’m arguing about logic! Amazing yeah! Many people who don’t believe in God argue that HOW CAN U JUST BLINDLY BELEIEVE YOU LOGIC MAN!! I’m too ahead of You!

Why am I communicating in the fashion its because when you say things without looking at all the evidence

don’t state it as facts! Don’t say every religion is the same and their all wrong

when u have no idea about Islam

take ur time to read plz!

Sceptical Prophet:

Actually, you just have poor comprehension skills or are entirely ignorant of what constitutes evidence.

1. Re: Evidence that the Quran was from god.

You say “A man who could not read or write brought words that included knowledge even today we are discovering”. First, what does reading and writing have to do with bringing words? Words can be verbal. Second, you still fail to source your claim. What knowledge are we only just discovering? I have made a distinction several times between observational evidence and scientific evidence. Just because we only just discovered HOW something works doesn’t mean we only just discovered it. There’s a vast difference between observational evidence and a fully fledged scientific theory. Interestingly enough, despite how omnipotent god is he only seemed to be able to provide the most primitive and unexplained knowledge, right? Just an observation and some vague words that could reference any concept. You’d think all powerful god would know exactly how to describe a phenomenon via mathematical and scientific processes, but no. He only has a primitive understanding of it.

2. Re: How can the Quran know the universe started with a bang.

You are easily satisfied. I guess that’s a prerequisite to being religious. First of all, let’s see what the Quran says about the Big Bang.

The Quran states : ‘The heavens and the Earth were joined and we clove them asunder’.

First of all, if you think one vague sentence constitutes “knowing” something, then you’re an intellectual failure. That’s like saying I know how gravity works: things tend to move towards other things. No, it’s a little more complicated than that, buddy.

But let’s assume one sentence is enough to really know something, which it obviously is not. EVEN THEN, the Quran still fails. The universe is 13.7 billion years old. The earth is 4.5 billion years old. How are they joined? They didn’t even exist at the same time 5 billion years ago.

Plus, clove them asunder? Last time I checked, the Earth is still a part of the universe. Not really asunder is it?

3. Re: He brought a book when the books before him had been destroyed by scientists.

This is so stupid I’m not sure if I interpreted it correctly. For the fourth time, the Quran was written in 610 AD. There are so many ancient writings that pre-dates 610AD so I don’t see how you can claim “the books before him had been destroyed by scientists”. Plus modern scientists didn’t exist until much after 610 AD. Galileo was one of the earliest to challenge religion with his scientific views and even then he was still religious. And guess what, he lived from 1564, which, in case you didn’t realise, is a good 800 years after 610, when the Quran was written. So how can scientists destroy books (which no scientist would ever do) if scientists didn’t exist back then? The closest thing to scientists at that time were natural philosophers, and they were highly religious people.

4. Re: My answer to the magical turtle.

I already said in previous post the magic turtle analogy is to help you understand the difference between evidence for something and evidence by extension. You have a very poor grasp of what constitutes evidence, so I’ll help you out later.

5. Re: The quote about rain in the Quran.

I don’t see how resurrection is relevant to us today. There is no evidence of a religious judgement day, nor is their evidence of resurrection. Nor is there evidence of god, which we’re still discussing and which you have still failed to provide evidence for. Also, why on Earth would I need to go and test a simple observation? You still don’t understand the purpose of evidence and the burden of proof. I can see clearly around me that rain falls from the sky. I don’t have to test this or prove this. I cannot see god AT ALL. Therefore I have to test this and prove this. There are no tests or proofs for god, therefore the logical conclusion is that god does not exist. You are trying to claim that god does exist, therefore the burden of proof is on you. However, you still haven’t provided any evidence, therefore the logical conclusion is still that god doesn’t exist.

6. Re: Evolution

You have just quoted the number one stupidest evolution quote in the world right now and as a result, I have really lost faith in your ability to come up with intelligent responses. “So if we evolved from fish, how come they still exist”. That’s like saying, “the British colonised Australia so how come Britain still exists?”. There is no rule anywhere that says if a species evolved from another species, the previous species must be entirely wiped out. Evolution is a result of natural selection and natural selection is dependent on variables limited to the context of certain groups of species. I thought you Islamics were meant to be scientific? Evolution is the foundation of all modern biology. If you’re trying to argue that Islam does not believe in evolution then I’m going to have to conclude that despite your claims, Islam is as unscientific as you can get. How can you even believe in the Big Bang and not evolution? Evolution is vastly more proven than the Big Bang, and there are dozens of examples of evolution happening RIGHT NOW. I’m really disappointed now.

7. Re: Quran has no need to change or add on.

So you’re saying everything there is to know in the universe is already in the Quran? That’s why we don’t need to add on? First of all, that’s intellectual suicide. You’re claiming we can never learn anything more. Second of all, it’s absolutely stupid to believe the Quran contains everything there is to know, and thus doesn’t require anything to be added on. I feel no need to elaborate this point because it quite obviously defeats itself.

8. Re: Christian responses

I didn’t say Christians have better answers, I said they have more answers. You’ve provided two answers to my original question: what evidence do you have of god. The first was that something has to create the universe. You ignored this after I easily proved you wrong. The second was that the Quran is obviously from god. I have proven that it is not. At least a Christian would have more arguments, you’re just harping on about the same weak arguments.

9. Let me help you one last time.

You’re very bad at grasping the concept of evidence so I’m going to help you. There are a few types of acceptable evidence.

Direct evidence: You can show directly that something proves the existence of something else. For example, if you can show me a tree then I have evidence that trees exist.

Indirect evidence: You can show through causal relation that something proves the existence of something else. For example, if you can repeatedly demonstrate through tests that consuming cyanide causes death, then that counts as evidence that death can be caused by, but not limited to, cyanide.

Axiomatic evidence: You can show that something suggests the existence of something else. This is the weakest type of evidence but it still counts. For example, the effect of gravity is observed but the process is not understood. We can see objects gravitate towards each other but cannot observe the force acting on those objects. This suggests the existence of a type of force. The current popular theories are gravitons (a type of particle) or gravitational waves (a type of wave). If you can demonstrate a situation that can ONLY suggest the existence of god (meaning that there is no better explanation) then you can axiomatically provide evidence of god. Weak evidence, but still better than anything you’ve come up with so far.

This is your last chance to say anything interesting. You’ve failed to understand the simplest points I’ve put forth and have been running circles around the same argument for the last 3 posts. Unless you come up with something substantial in your next post I can’t be bothered replying any more.

I’m sure many of you have heard this commonly used argument. Indeed, I see it mentioned at least a few times in any sort of forum for religious debate. Essentially, it goes:

“[Insert famous name] was religious”.

It literally is just a name drop. This “argument” implies that because somebody famous (usually for something intellectual) was religious, there is more (intellectual) reason to be religious. A common example of this is “Einstein/Galileo/Darwin was religious”, thereby insinuating that if a scientific visionary was religious, it is automatically more scientific or intellectual to be religious. It always amuses me when theists try to use science or logic against scientific or atheistic claims – because it doesn’t work. This is called an appeal to authority logical fallacy. So much for using logic.

As usual, I’d like to point out I have nothing against theists. I tend to write a lot of counter arguments to theism but that’s simply because there’s so much material. In general, I just like correcting people and spreading knowledge (hence this blog). Whether or not that person is religious has nothing to do with it – I commonly correct atheists about their scientific claims too.

Anyway, the moment you identify an argument as a logical fallacy it pretty much renders the entire argument void already. But where’s the fun in that? In classic Sceptical Prophet style, let’s take it one further. Let’s flip that argument back on itself.

Whenever I encounter this argument, my first step is to identify it as a logical fallacy. I throw that in their face right off the bat simply by stating: that’s a logical fallacy called appeal to authority; your argument is already worthless. Next I lay on the hurt. This is where I flip the argument back, and though it is partially a technique to win arguments (one of many I covered in an in-depth analysis to winning arguments) it is also logically sound. Think about it yourself.

First: Ideologies do not instantly go from one extreme to another. Nobody spends two thousand years believing a Wolf God swallows the sun and yells at it to bring the sun back (Viking explanation of solar eclipse) and then suddenly wakes up the next day and says, “Hey, you know what? I don’t think it’s a Wolf God; it’s probably just because the Earth orbits the sun and the moon orbits the Earth so eventually the moon will orbit to a point where it lies between the Earth and the Sun, thereby blocking out the sun for a while.” Ideas, concepts and theories change over time as new information is discovered (at least they should in an ideal world; certainly, some institutions are slower to change). To claim otherwise is to declare intellectual bankruptcy; you’d be giving up the pursuit of knowledge by saying what we “knew” thousands of years ago is as accurate as we’ll ever get.

Second: It was the social paradigm to be religious back in these peoples’ times. Social paradigms are strong things. A cannibal society would have no ethical concern with eating human flesh but in our modern society, it is against the paradigm to do so. Therefore it is not strange for somebody who grows up in our modern society to have an aversion to eating humans. That’s just what society is like and how people are raised. “XYZ was religious” doesn’t mean diddlysquat if everybody was religious (especially if there were adverse consequences to not being religious – such as banishment, social exclusion and punishment).

Third: These “people of authority” you are name dropping were not your orthodox religious followers. They did not believe in the “standard” belief system of their time. If they did, they would never have questioned things. Why would Darwin suggest evolution over creationism if he was strictly religious? The very fact that he challenged the beliefs of this time meant that he was a pioneer in critical thinking. It’s meaningless to say he was religious because he challenged the correctness of those beliefs.

Conclusion: Some theists might like to use appeal to authority fallacies to try and suggest the intellectual superiority of theism or downplay a scientific argument. What they don’t realise is that these very people whose names they are using were essentially the forefathers of atheism. Yes, the creators of atheism were religious. It sounds like a contradiction but it’s not. Remember, ideologies don’t change instantly. For them to make a transition, people are required to challenge existing beliefs and nudge it in a new direction. These people had the courage, free spirit and critical thinking to say “Hold on, this thing here is wrong”, and the culmination of that approach to life resulted in what atheism is today – a rejection of beliefs without substantial evidence. Even though they were religious, by challenging the standards of belief in their own times, these people nudged us in the direction of atheism.

Don’t go around accusing people of being idiots (let me do that), but just remember two things: if anyone uses this argument, you can use this information as a counter-argument, and there is literally no argument a theist can put forth that there is no good answer to. Have faith (get it?): science, reason and logic will trump tradition. It is no longer the social paradigm to be born and raised religious – now we have a choice. Change might have taken far too long but eventually, more humans will realise that we cannot possibly know less about our world and universe today than we did thousands of years ago. To claim that old traditions trump new information is an admission of intellectual relinquishment – it would be akin to saying that we are incapable of learning anything new and thus there is no purpose in education or knowledge.

One of the things you’ll often hear when asking people why they are religious is that it is comforting. The idea of life after death, an eternity with your loved ones and belonging to something greater than yourself can be immensely reassuring to many people. By comparison, the scientific view may seem cruel; the universe doesn’t care about your existence and once you die, you simply cease to exist.

It’s been said many times that what’s comforting is completely irrelevant to the pursuit of truth. I completely agree. I posit that anyone who needs such comfort so desperately as to turn a blind eye to the truth is a sad and sorry person indeed. Anybody who uses this reason as a justification for their religious beliefs is, perhaps, so damaged or so afraid of responsibility that it may not be healthy to wean them off religion by encouraging the pursuit of truth.

So I offer an alternative view. I have never questioned the value of my existence because of this simple fact.

Something is only precious because it is rare.

Think about that for a moment. The rarer something is, the more precious it becomes. What’s the rarest thing of all? Life. You will only ever have one life and it is an opportunity for you. If you were born to die, the only thing that defines you is what you do while you are alive.

What theists consider to be comforting – the promise of eternal life – I think is just cheapening the value of life. It is no longer rare because it is no longer fleeting. It is not precious.

If you have an infinite amount of time to do something, there is no urgency to make every moment count. There’s no strong need to love, learn, spend time with your family or even live.

As for belonging to something greater than yourself, what bigger thing is there than the universe? The atoms in your left hand could have come from a different star than the atoms of your right hand, billions of years ago somewhere in the universe. Some people feel insignificant when they think about how vast the universe is, but just imagine – your entire existence was created by things infinitesimally greater than yourself.

So what’s more comforting? That’s up to you to decide. But for me, life has never been more fleeting, and thus precious, more tiny, and thus grand, than when I discovered science and truth.

A friend of mine (Nav) requested that I write about this topic so I decided that I might as well. Anyone who’s tried before knows that I’m a very difficult person to argue with. As far as credentials go, no girl friend has ever won an argument with me (gasp!). I am a little hesitant about giving away some of my “secrets” but heck, I can always tell if someone tries to use these on me so I guess I don’t have that much to lose.

This is actually quite a deep and complex field. You’ve been warned: this will be a long read. But then again, could you take me seriously if I said the secret to an unbeatable argument was only 300 words?

I’m going to go through the gritty truth – not an idealised version of arguments where whoever’s being logical wins. Of course, logical fallacies will come into play, but not quite in the way you might expect. I tried to limit it to 9 tips but in reality it’s not so clear cut. Everything relates to everything else and it depends on the scenario of the argument too. So before we get to the 9 official tips, let’s take a look at some scenarios you’ll have arguments in. In general, I think there are three:

  1. Academic discourse: Including but not limited to debates organised by academic institutions. This can just be an online discussion about an intellectual topic.
  2. Argument with peers: This can also include online discussions, but also with colleagues (both from work or school). The difference here is that there is some sort of recognition here – you know them, though not necessarily well.
  3. Arguments with close friends: This scenario is the tender one because you have some sort of emotional attachment to the person. An extreme scenario of this category would be arguing with a partner. Otherwise it could just be arguments with friends (sometimes in good spirit and sometimes not).

What you need to understand is that you have to treat these three scenarios a bit differently. I won’t go into it too much but it should be common sense. For scenario 3, you should call it quits earlier than you would for scenario 1. At times it’s more important to avoid hurting someone you care about or creating long-lasting dissent than being correct. This might sound funny coming from me because I love being always right.

By contrast, in an academic discourse you can continue arguing a matter until you run out of proper evidence (or if there’s a time limit that expires).

With peers it really depends – you don’t want to offend your boss, for example, but most of the time you can probably push things a little farther (because you won’t know each other well enough to get personal). This is how I have so many religious friends even though I often argue about it – I just try not to take it too far.

My point here? Just be careful. With great knowledge comes great responsibility – don’t go ruining your relationships by being unarguable against.

Now to the main body: 9 Ways to Create an Unbeatable Argument. In reality, each technique is used in combination with others to create a statement/argument. Because of this it’s hard to list them one by one and give examples. After you’re done reading all 9 you can go back and check if you can identify each tip and emboldened word. Also, my apologies if you feel a religious context seeping in – the two things I argue about most are science and religion. This is simply because there are more debates about those two things than anything else that I’m interested in; I mean no offence. Also, for the sake of a control group, I assume all arguments have an objective third party (a two person argument is pointless, it can always just get stuck with both parties disagreeing). The only time a third party isn’t needed to judge the “winner” is when your goal is to convince your opponent (in which case success is determined by your opponent).

1. Call your opponent out on everything. And I mean everything. It takes a lot less effort to attack a position than it does to defend one. Why? Because a scientific/logical method is that you must provide proof of your position before you can formally consider it to be a position at all. A scientist can’t just come out and say “here’s my new theory”. He/she must provide a peer-reviewed academic publication with mathematical and empirical proof. This is where the difference between a hypothesis and a theory comes in: the hypothesis is the idea. After it is proven it becomes a theory. Incidentally, this is also why many science-orientated minds disapprove of the validity of religion. A scientist presents a theory by saying “here’s my proof” whereas a theist presents a theory and says “well, you can’t prove it’s wrong”. Although technically you can prove it’s wrong to a pretty good degree. Oops, I brought up religion already. Sorry guys, it was just for example’s sake.

Anyway, if you don’t get it by now, the gist of it is that if your opponent says something to support his/her argument, by calling it out they are forced to defend their position by providing proof. Proving something is a lot harder than asking someone to prove something. In a way, this can even be used as a red herring. Example time:

Opponent: “We know gravity exists and we know quantum mechanics works, so there must be a way to discover quantum gravity”.

You: “But how do you know gravity exists? It hasn’t ever been observed as either a wave or particle”.

The above is an intentionally ambiguous example. The existence of gravity has been questioned before. Don’t get me wrong, something with gravity-like effects definitely exists, it’s just our understanding of it that’s being questioned. However, this is a problem that has never been solved so by calling them out on it they’re forced to give evidence of gravity. If you put them on the defensive, they can’t continue their argument until they’re done defending. It takes me only two short sentences to call them out on something that most people would consider to be a solid fact, but I guarantee it will take my opponent more than two sentences to provide evidence of gravity.

But wait, there’s more. This is the number 1 tip because it incorporates the most into it. Calling them out on stuff goes beyond red herrings. If they legitimately say something wrong, you call them out on it too. Even if it appears obvious to an onlooker, call them out on it. Do it sarcastically, mockingly or offensively, just do it appropriately (don’t go insulting your boss) and do it with impact.

Opponent: “There is no scientific consensus that climate change is real”.

You: “No consensus? Maybe my opponent here should actually read some scientific publications before we continue this debate.”

Short and sweet. Call them out on it, it makes them look bad. If they use a logical fallacy, call them out on it. Name the fallacy (see: tip number 6), say they used it and mock them (appropriately) for it. Never leave anything unspoken. In one minute you can call someone out on at least 6 things (10 seconds each). That’s at least minus 6 points in the eyes of the onlooker.

2. Know your shit. Sounds bleedingly obvious but I have to stress it. I will not try and argue about something I don’t have enough relevant material for. I’ll argue with a layman about science but I won’t argue with Hawking about black holes. I’ll argue with Christians using their own religion but against any other religion, I’ll argue using only logic and science. The more you know, the harder it is for you to appear wrong. Note, I say appear wrong. I’ve been in plenty of arguments where I realised half way that I was wrong but I always manage to salvage the arguments using tips 3, 4 and 7. A good opponent will call you out on anything wrong you say, so keep tip 4 in mind.

It’s also good to have an understanding of the more common arguments that are used (for example, absolute morality is almost always mentioned in atheist-religious debates) and familiarise yourself with ways to deal with these arguments: such as my Debunking the Absolute Morality Argument (which, by the way, you might realise features a lot of the techniques I mention in this post).

3. Use an evolving argument. What do I mean by this? A lot of things really, but essentially I just mean don’t be pig headed. Being stubborn is bad because it’s often very easy to be called out on. An onlooker can easily see when someone is being stubborn about something. This relates a bit to the next tip (tip 4) but if you feel like you’ve hit a wall with one approach, change approaches. Never dig yourself into a hole. If you get stuck, throw a red herring (tip 1 and tip 8) and change tacks.

This also applies for being on the offensive. First consider your goal: is it to convince somebody or something simply win the argument or just to assume an unassailable position (a logical position that cannot be dismantled, at least not easily). Let’s assume your goal is to convince somebody. Some people do not listen to reason or logic or science. If your goal is to convince someone, you have to play by their rules (this situation doesn’t really require a third party – winning the argument depends on whether or not they’re convinced).

Opponent: “The Earth is 6,000 years old. How do you know your science is right? I’ve heard there are problems with how they date things”.

You: “Ok, let’s forget all the scientific evidence for the age of the Earth and the universe for a second. Why do you think the Earth is only 6,000 years old? Because the bible says so, right? But how do you know the bible is right? Well that’s because a lot of scholars have analysed it and confirmed when it was written and that the dates in the bible match up with other texts and real events that happened. But wait, how do they know when the bible was written and whether or not the dates are correct? Using scientific methods to date them (tip 5). So you can’t say science is wrong when it comes to dating or you’ll be saying that you don’t believe the bible is true (tip 1).

That example is good for tip 5 but for now just take it at face value. You cannot convince them no matter how much science and evidence you present. Don’t get stubborn, change tacks. What’s something that will work? Something that their own beliefs are rooted in. A religious fundamentalist’s entire existence revolves around the bible. Therefore, instead of using science, use the bible against them.

4. Learn when to concede points. Sometimes you’re going to be wrong. It’s unavoidable. Sometimes an argument evolves to the point where you realise you were wrong about something. At times you can use semantics to avoid being called out for being wrong, but remember tip 3! Don’t get stubborn. If you’re obviously wrong and you keep denying it, it becomes even more apparent to everyone that you’re wrong. Cut your losses and make the first move: admit it yourself. But that doesn’t mean throw in the towel. Admit smaller mistakes to push bigger points.

You: “Actually, you were right about the homogeneity of the universe. It’s not actually perfectly even. But that’s not relevant to the purpose of this debate. The fact remains that there are no detectable anti-matter galaxies, and you still haven’t provided any evidence otherwise (tip 1).

In a way, this is also a red herring. You assume the position of “the bigger man” by admitting you’re wrong, but you also redirect the flow of the debate to something else which you have the upper hand in. By focusing on what you’re winning, you can easily be wrong about many things and still win the argument.

5. Predict where the argument is going. Although this is number 5, it’s probably the most advanced and powerful of the techniques. There are two parts to this: cutting your losses and guiding your opponent.

Cutting your losses is pretty straight forward. If you can foresee in the near future that one of the points you were arguing is going to be turned around or proven wrong, steer the discussion away. If it’s unavoidable, correct yourself before your opponent has a chance to call you out on it (tip 4). Cutting your losses also relates to tip 7, which I will go into more later.

Guiding your opponent is the tough one and it’s something you need to do subtly. Remember the example in tip 3? This passage in particular is guiding your opponent:

Why do you think the Earth is only 6,000 years old? Because the bible says so, right? But how do you know the bible is right? Well that’s because a lot of scholars have analysed it and confirmed when it was written and that the dates in the bible match up with other texts and real events that happened. But wait, how do they know when the bible was written and whether or not the dates are correct? Using scientific methods to date them.

You pose a question then answer it for your opponent. By doing so, you can create an apparently flawless chain of causality. However, keep in mind subtlety. If your opponent knows what you’re doing, they’ll reject it. In the example above, I answer each question with a reasonable answer. For example “a lot of scholars have analysed it and confirmed when it was written …” is not aggressive or disparaging in any way. It almost sounds like I’m complimenting or aiding my opponent’s position.

You can go even subtler still by picking points to discuss that will lead into some of your stronger points. Assuming an academic discourse, if they push 5 points, but one of them leads into a field that you have limited knowledge of, respond to only 4 of their points and guide the argument away. If you use tip 1, most of the time they won’t even realise you haven’t responded to something because they’ll be put on the defensive.

If done correctly, you can create a “logical trap” in which you confine your opponent to a few possible responses and have strong rebuttals to each one.

6. Know your buzz words. Here’s where the logical fallacies come in. To clarify this also includes tip 2; know some good, prepared arguments that you can whip out and adapt to any situation. Logic and science are universal, so any argument based on these can be used in a large variety of situations (though keep in mind science branches off into a lot of things so make sure you know enough of it to argue a point).

For a list of common logical fallacies, you can refer to a post I made earlier with their names and examples: Logical Fallacies. I wanted to shorten that list to ones commonly used in debates but I just ended up re-listing them all, plus some (which I will now add to that post). Just learn a few – some are so obvious you’ll remember them easily. What do you do with your buzz words? Tip 1. Whenever you see one used, call them out on it. Tip 1 combined with buzz words creates the biggest impact because you can use an officially documented fallacy to show your opponent is wrong.

Other buzz words include (just to name a few): logical/illogical, causal relationship, unscientific, academic/intellectual, proof/evidence, and any other relevant terminology to whatever field you are discussing.

Remember, you can out-verbalise your opponent and even win by doing so. People often ask me why proper English is so important. Here’s one of the reasons. I can argue with terrible English until the cows come home but I’ll still look like an idiot who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

UniVerz can Haz no crEAtEr cuz sciEnce sAy beginNIngs lyke biG BanG is sinGularety and SmaLL lyke PartiLcLE so QuAtum mekanikz alloW smaLL thing aPpeaRZ soMethIng fRom NothInG.

Despite being correct, if you ever saw that quote I wrote up there you would instantly think the guy is an idiot and brush aside anything he has to say as the ramblings of an undereducated simpleton. This is just an extreme end of the spectrum. The point is that with good English and buzz words you can out-verbalise your opponent and create more impact, as well as appear more correct (even if you’re not).

7. Cover all your bases. This relates a bit to tip 5. If you predict that some of your arguments have flaws that will be exploited, prepare your course of action. Hesitation and stumbling will reveal guilt. This is something I’m particularly good at because I always know exactly what’s wrong with what I’m saying.

Think of it this way – it’s much easier to poke holes in an argument than prepare one yourself right? So just think about what you’re saying and poke holes in it yourself. If you find a hole, get ready to patch it up. Just don’t get stuck on the defensive – defend it quickly and concisely with no hesitation and go back on the offensive.

You: “Global warming will cause global increases in temperature that will cause sea levels to rise and food sources to suffer”.

Opponent: “But how do you explain the lower temperatures we’ve been seeing? That’s proof that global warming is a hoax”.

You: “I use the term global warming in it’s original context. Were you unaware they changed the official term to climate change? Because it doesn’t just make hot weather hotter, it makes cold weather colder. You pretty much just proved what I’ve been saying all along, the climate is changing – hence climate change.”

The above example also features a bit of tip 5. You can intentionally leave a “hole” in your argument to lure your opponent into bringing it up. But let’s assume I was actually genuinely mistaken for using the term “global warming” instead of “climate change”. I don’t need to admit it (tip 4) because I can just use semantics to cover it up. My response quickly corrects my mistake, attacks the opponent subtly (almost an ad hominem) and redirects the flow of the argument to the main point.

8. Don’t be afraid to break the rules. “It’s not cheating unless you get caught”. Logical fallacies are wrong to use as a basis for your argument, but you can use them to deliver your argument. Reductio ad absurdum, strawman fallacies, red herrings, ad homniem and appeal to emotion are the ones I commonly use, but I do them subtly in a matter-of-factly way so that they can’t be easily called out. For example, if I ever get called out on a red herring I’ll just say brush it off by implying that I thought the result was obvious but if my opponent needs me to specifically spell it out for them, then I’d be happy to do so. Or the little ad hominem in tip 7 where I say “Were you unaware they changed the official term to climate change?” I can simply pretend to be a genuine question rather than an insult to undermine my opponent’s credibility. It appears to be more like a genuine question because I go on to show a causal relationship, thus explaining it to my opponent as if I genuinely believe he doesn’t know (the climate is changing – hence climate change).

But if any of your core points are based on logical fallacies, you’re going to have a bad time. Only use them to create impact, the foundation of your knowledge should always be solid.

9. Quit while you’re ahead. It’s always better to end with a bang than drawing it out and dying off slowly. If you feel like you’re coming close to running out of points, or that the flow of the argument is going to shift away from you, quit while you’re ahead. But don’t quit quietly. Quit with impact.

You: “Well I’ve provided countless pieces of evidence as well as demonstrated the logical causality (tip 6) for each. My opponent seems hung up on this [one] particular point even though I’ve shown it to be false with [these] arguments (tip 1). I don’t feel any need to indulge his stubbornness (tip 3) any further as I’ve already made it pretty clear that [this] is true. If he still wishes to argue then I’m sure no amount of reason will ever reach him.

End it on your terms. You already have the upper ground so there’s no need for you to continue. Plus, by ending it with the suggestion that any continuance of the argument is indicative of some character or reasoning flaw in your opponent, if they choose to respond with a continuation of the argument, they’ve pretty much just proved your point.

Another religious post? I’m on the verge of being an atheist bully here aren’t I? Well, suffice to say I just like poking holes in incorrect logic and it has nothing to do with my own beliefs (which are not really atheist anyway).

So I’m sure many of you have heard of the “absolute morality” argument posed by theists. In fact, it’s almost inevitably brought up by any professional debate (many of which you can watch on Youtube – it’s fun listening to how people construct logical arguments). The crux of the argument is that without (a) god(s), we cannot have absolute morality. The arguments leads on to say atheists have no absolute morals because they cannot know that their morals are “absolute” without god telling them that it is. Therefore, the existence of absolute morality (such as an aversion to murder) is proof of god’s existence.

Again, I don’t wish to insult any of my theistic friends, but this argument is absolute codswallop. Unfortunately, I always get the feeling that other debaters fail to properly dismantle this “argument” (maybe because Youtube comments usually lack intelligent input). So I’m going to lay it out, step by step.  Again, this is mainly directed towards Christianity – as it is the largest religion and thus the one I pay attention to most.

Let’s approach this as if a theist has proposed absolute morality as evidence of god. I will proceed to do something I love – flipping an argument back on somebody with logical principles. Let’s begin:

Without (a) god(s) there can be no absolute morality.

1. Then are you accusing all atheists of being immoral?

Yes – Then you are “playing god” by judging someone, which is god’s job. “James 4:12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you–who are you to judge your neighbour?“. If you attempt to argue against the negative implications of playing god (which most Christian ethicists are in agreement on as a sinful thing), then you must re-examine a whole range of other issues such as euthanasia and abortion, as well as accepting the fact that you are in direct defiance of the bible (including the verse I included above, as well as others).

Further, you are not only at odds with your own holy scripture and beliefs, you would be objectively immoral for being arrogant enough to claim superiority over another human being based on their beliefs. You cannot say “yes, all atheists are immoral” because that’s tantamount to saying “I, playing the role of god, judge all atheists to be inferior people”.

No – This is your only acceptable answer due to your own theistic beliefs.

ButAtheists are only moral because god gave them morality, regardless of whether or not they believe in god. That’s one possible argument, but here’s why it’s wrong. First, if atheists are moral then atheism is not a sin, which means the rejection of god’s existence is not wrong, which suggests that it is correct or that god doesn’t give a damn. Both are quite likely, but that would raise questions about the validity of religious organisations and holy scriptures, which implicitly and explicitly say otherwise.

Further, all of that is moot anyway because this argument is circular reasoning (a logical fallacy in case you guys forgot). The purpose of bringing up absolute morality is to prove the existence of god. God has not yet been proven so you cannot say that god gave atheists morals yet. You can only accept that atheists either have or do not have morals. If, at the end of this debate, you prove the existence of absolute morality, then you can say you have proven god’s existence (based on this argument – which is not comprehensive), and then after that you can say that god gave atheists morals, which returns you to the first problem I proposed in this paragraph.

But Atheists have no basis for objective morality. They cannot know that a moral is objective without the existence of god. This is the most common route taken. If you watch atheist-religious debates, you’ll often hear the argument follow down this path. If you’ve paid attention to the previous steps, you’ll realise that the reason why (or part of the reason) this argument always turns to this option is because the above options are not viable. No theist can answer any of the above alternatives without breaching their own belief system, as well as that of society and of logic.

Here’s where the fun begins. If atheists are moral but they reject the existence of god, that means that they do not get their morality from god/religion. Again, you cannot argue that they already have morality from god because that takes you back up to circular reasoning. This is tantamount to saying that atheists are intrinsically moral. That means that atheists act morally for the sake of being moral, and not for anything else. However, theists believe that their morality is given to them by god, therefore it is in fact morality given by authority (which, by the way, is not objective). By now, some of you may already see what I’m getting at – but let’s not spoil the surprise.

One of Sam Harris’s examples come to mind, though he used this example to prove a different point. Imagine a classroom scenario. If the teacher tells a child to hit the child next to him, the teacher – as the authority figure – is giving the child an authoritarian imperative. This act would not be immoral in a classroom scenario (yes, the teacher would get in trouble, blah blah – think of a closed system or this example will just get bigger and bigger, but still end in the same result). As the act is not immoral and has come from an authority (if it helps, think of the teacher as a pseudo-god), the theistic child will go ahead and beat up his classmate. The atheist, however, would not. Why? Because the atheist’s morality is not dependant on authoritarian edict. It is intrinsic, as I have said.

Morality can only be morality if it is done for the goodness of its own sake, not because it was given by an authority figure. Therefore, atheists are more moral than theists. The fact that – as the theist puts it – “atheists have no basis for objective morality” is in fact evidence of the atheist’s superior morality. If you want to argue otherwise, you go back to point number one, which will lead you back down to here.

*     *     *

That argument is what I think of as a “logical trap”, in which you force your “opponent” down a path that results in a conclusion suiting your own argument. There are, however, much shorter ways of debunking the whole “where did morality come from” thing.

If you remember Occam’s Razor and Rationalism, you’ll know that god – as the highest possible level of complexity and inexplicableness – is always the last option. Logically, if you have any other explanation, it will be more likely than the existence of god which cannot be explained at all. Fortunately, science not only has explanations, it has very likely ones.

The first I’ll point out is from Richard Dawkins. Morality is evolutionary. That is a fact. It is the reason why moral paradigms have changed over time – even amongst religious peoples. We no longer oppress women as much, nor do we put down the disabled or mentally retarded. Torture and execution are no longer as commonplace, nor is homosexuality as strongly opposed. But most of all, think of this: if murder was not immoral, do you think we, as a species, would have ever come to inhabit large cities? No, that would be stupid. If morality was not part of the evolutionary process, our species would not exist in its current state. Natural selection weeds out the unproductive traits. Even past religions that included human sacrifice were weeded out due to the evolutionary stupidity of such actions – their followers could not propagate because their populations were limited by human sacrifice, and eventually they died out.

The second is one that appeals more to reason than any specific science. Do you really think that if tomorrow we proved that the bible was fraudulent, theists around the world would start killing everyone they see? And if any theists are reading this – do you think that if your own beliefs were disproven, you would revert into an out-of-control sinner? If you do, I feel sorry for you. Your identity and morality should not be that fragile.

As usual, I hope this post hasn’t offended anyone religious. The goal was really just to demonstrate logic at work.

This is not so much a logical principle as a demonstration of why something is illogical. Some of you may have heard of Pascal’s Wager (or Gambit). Again, I try to keep religious views out of this blog so keep in mind this isn’t proof of why god doesn’t exist – it’s just proof of why Pascal’s Wager is logically flawed.

So, basically Pascal’s Wager is a thought experiment that paved the way for decision theory (based on probability). The premise is that god may or may not exist and the conclusion is that based on a risk-return probability, you are better off believing that god does exist. The thought experiment roughly follows this process:

  1. “God is, or He is not”
  2. A Game is being played… where heads or tails will turn up.
  3. According to reason, you can defend either of the propositions.
  4. You must wager. (It’s not optional.)
  5. Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.
  6. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (…) There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.

Ok, so why is this wrong? First, it is based on a false dichotomy fallacy. Which god? People often forget, due to the self-absorbed nature of humanity, that there is more to the world than just what they believe in. Let’s not forget that there are any number of gods that are believed in equally strongly by their respective theists.

Second, if we factor in the existence of multiple gods, we must also factor in the potential punishment of following the wrong god. The first commandment makes it pretty clear that at least some gods don’t like it when you choose the wrong one. Additionally, the game is no longer a wager between two options. You have multiple options, with each option – except atheism – promising reward and punishment.

By now, we’ve pretty much destroyed step one of Pascal’s Wager. If you’re keeping up, you’ll release we’ve destroyed step two as well (it is no longer a 50/50 chance – heads or tails is no longer valid). But wait, there’s more! It was never an even chance to begin with. Recall two other logical principles I’ve mentioned, Occam’s Razor and Rationalism. A deity is the ultimate extreme of unlikeliness based on Occam’s Razor (because a god is inexplicable and has no beginning), and based on this, we can use rationalism to conclude that it is not reasonable to consider god as a “truth”. Remembering that rationalism deals with a priori knowledge and probability of likelihood, this is not to say that a god doesn’t exist, it’s just saying that the chances of a god existing are lower. That leaves us with atheism having a statistical edge (no solid numbers, it could be a lot or a little based on your personal beliefs, but atheism definitely has an advantage in terms of statistical accuracy, whether large or little). So not only is it not “heads or tails” any more, it’s far from it.

Now, considering that you are wagering for reward, we must ask ourselves, will this behaviour be met with reward? That is to say, if you choose to follow a religion in the hopes of winning some divine lottery, even if that religion was correct, will that god reward you considering your motive? Probably not. Again, statistical speculation based on scripture; it is often said that man cannot ever understand the mind of god, so there is a chance that god will reward you for betting on him, but given that such an action would conflict with the concepts of morality and ethics taught by religion, it would be a pretty self destructive process.

We’re at the end now – and given the logical reasons put forth above, we have reshaped the playing field of this game:

  1. A god or many gods or no gods may exist.
  2. A game is being played … where there are at least 20 options (based on a list of the major religious groups in this world), and the atheism option has at least a slightly better probability of being correct (exact amount debatable).
  3. According to reason, you can defend any of the at least 20 propositions.
  4. You must wager. (It’s not optional).
  5. Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering in a certain god or lack of god. In wagering for the existence of one of at least 20 gods, you may gain some reward from one god (in the unlikely event that god rewards you for your motive being to bet on him) if you are correct, and will receive punishment from at least 20 gods if you are incorrect. Further, you have a lower chance of being correct than if you pick the atheism proposition.
  6. Wager then based on your risk aversion (financial principle that basically means how much risk you are willing to take on an investment). However, risk aversion assumes rational investors that tradeoff risk for return. A rational investor will not pick a higher risk option (punishment from 20 gods with a lower chance of being correct is pretty risky) if the return does not offset taking on such risk (reward from 1 god; it depends what you think the reward will be then, and whether or not you will even receive this reward). Hence, betting on anything besides atheism (the safe bet), would be considered irrational both from a financial perspective, a statistician’s perspective and a logician’s perspective.

Again, it really depends. If somehow, you think it’s better to bet for one of the religions, it’s really up to you. The thought experiment is just pointing out that you’re better off betting on atheism (given the parameters of Pascal’s Wager). Again, I’m not trying to force any beliefs on anyone, nor am I even an atheist. I simply wanted to break down Pascal’s Wager so the topic of atheism was inevitable. Keep in mind, there are more parameters than just the ones put forth by Pascal’s Wager, so even by disproving it, you can still believe in god. However, this lack of encompassing parameters is the very same reason why Pascal’s Wager fails.

Apparently, an “Atheist’s Wager” also exists. I only bothered to take a quick look at it and it is more of an alternative to Pascal’s Wager with a broader scope concluding that choosing atheism is better than choosing a religion. I just want to differentiate the two topics – this post is pulling apart Pascal’s Wager and using it to demonstrate that Pascal is in fact wrong. The Atheist’s Wager is a thought experiment that follows a similar process to Pascal’s Wager. The difference here is that I am starting from Pascal’s Wager to tear it down, whereas the Atheist’s Wager seems to be a more accurate alternative (it can be a standalone).

This is another logical “principle” to add to Occam’s Razor. The two may seem quite similar, but this is the broader category. Occam’s Razor is a single principle whereas rationalism is an entire field of study in epistemology (the philosophy of knowledge). Rationalism is often associated with the introduction of mathematical models into philosophy, and the pioneers in this approach were Rene Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, and Gottfried Leibniz. You should have heard of at least one of those three philosophers as they are quite famous.

Rationalism is any view appealing to reason as its source of justification. That means that our knowledge can be developed a priori (existing in the mind, independent of experience) through reason. This is arguably the opposite position of empiricism, which holds that all knowledge must come from experience.

For example, I can reasonably argue something predicated on the assumption that this doesn’t exist:

I wouldn’t be required to disprove the existence of the image above because reason dictates that it doesn’t exist. If you want to get more technical, you’d be very hard put equating the mathematical probability of the reality of the image above (hence, it is irrational). This is a bottom up approach similar to the one in Occam’s Razor. Unfortunately, the boundaries reason are often blurred by subjective experience and external teachings, which is why the introduction of mathematics into reasoning was so ground-breaking.

Because rationalism allows for a priori knowledge, it extends our understanding of everything, and provides a logical basis for the understanding of much deeper things. Because empiricism postulates that knowledge can only come from sensory experience, we would have no logical basis for undertaking any work based on the work of others (because we did not experience the thing ourselves), and thus we would have no basis for any advanced science at all. Rationalism essentially broadens the mind by allowing for a logical process by which we can determine “fact” – where fact is the most reasonable explanation. At this point, I should mention that 100% certainty in anything is impossible, so our world operates on a basis of highest probability (so we say that it is a fact if I drop a ball, it will fall to the floor, but there’s actually a tiny probability that a gravitational anomaly would suck the ball up into space at the speed of light).

So here’s the crux of the matter: arguments based on that tiny possibility that something might exist are irrational (and thus illogical) because rational conclusions are based on the most reasonable, mathematically reconcilable answer. If we link this to methodological naturalism, we come to the conclusion that the most logical answer is the simplest one that can describe the given phenomenon.

Ok, I’m getting sick of all the ill-informed arguing over this math problem. I’ve been seeing replies everywhere trying to prove one answer correct, and even some replies from youtube channels claiming to specialise in maths. Everyone is missing the one, fundamental truth. But let’s save the bombshell for later.

This is the equation: 6/2(2+1) = ?

Now, stop quoting your calculators and Wolfram or any other crap like that because the program is only as accurate as you make the equation. And that’s the answer. This equation is wrong. A maths equation should never be written like this – the point of the parentheses is to make the equation easier to solve, and the point of the equation is to lay out an easy to solve problem. If you make it obscure what you mean, the equation is written incorrectly. This is something I’ve confirmed with two university professors (just to make sure I was right, which I am as usual). In reality, the equation should have been written either as (6/2)[2(2+1)] or 6/[2(2+1)].

Now, I know people have been arguing over the “two answers” to this, one going left to right after parentheses, making the answer 6/2*3 = 9 and the other using multiplication first making it 6/6 = 1.

As I’ve said, the correct answer is that the equation is written wrong. However, if you were to force me to pick one incorrect answer over the other, I would pick 1. Why? Because it’s more intuitive.

First of all, 6/2(2+1) implies 6/[2(2+1)] because the entire point of factorising the 2 with parentheses is to make it a single term (drawing from algebraic mathematics). That makes the 2(2+1) a single term, and thus the denominator of the fraction.

Second of all, nobody writes 6/2(2+1) and expects people to interpret it as (6/2) * (2+1). That’s just a retardedly queer way to write an equation. You would clarify it by writing the fraction properly (with the 6 over the 2 and the (2+1) at middle height).

But again, this is precluded by the fact that the equation is just written wrong. I hope this clears up the issue.

I’m adding a new category devoted specifically to logic because it’s something too many people lack these days. Logical thinking is something that will help you in all aspects of life and is a prerequisite to be taken seriously on any academic matters. Now I’ve mentioned logical fallacies before but those are things to avoid doing. This one is the opposite – a logical surety if you will.

Lex parsimoniae, otherwise known as Occam’s/Okham’s Razor is a logical principle coined by English logician (what a cool job), theologian and Franciscan friar Father William d’Ockham. It is often mistakenly interpreted as “the simplest explanation is the best explanation”, but in reality it asserts that competing hypotheses should be settled by selecting the one that makes the fewest assumptions, then adding complexity to that hypotheses in a way that I consider analogous to “building a tower from the ground up”. Obviously, this is axiomatic – it should make sense now that I’ve explained it to you. If you’re going to construct a logical argument, it makes more sense if your starting point is a fact – otherwise you’re basing your entire argument on assumptions that may not be true.

Incidentally, I was reminded of this logical principle when one of my Science and Religion lectures mentioned Ludwig Feuerbach’s philosophy on god to be incorrect because he addressed the issue of god from “humankind upwards instead of from god downwards”. Obviously, I completely disagreed with that point, mainly due to Occam’s razor. It does not make sense to address the issue of god from god downwards, because that makes the assumption of god a prerequisite for the existence of god, which is logically flawed.

As always, I try to keep this blog religion free so remember, I’m not trying to say god doesn’t exist here. I’m merely pointing out that in this specific example, it’s logically flawed to say you should start building your tower from the top down.

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