A self-defeating (or self-refuting) statement is one that fails to meet its own standard. In other words, it is a statement that cannot live up to its own criteria. Imagine if I were to say,
I cannot speak a word in English.
You intuitively see a problem here. I told you in English that I cannot speak a word in English. This statement is self-refuting. It does not meet its own standard or criteria. It self-destructs.
The important thing to remember with self-defeating statements is that they are necessarily false. In other words, there is no possible way for them to be true. This is because they violate a very fundamental law of logic, the law of non-contradiction. This law states that A and non-A cannot both be true at the same time and in the same sense. For example, it is not possible for God to exist and not exist at the same time and in the same sense. This would violate the law of non-contradiction. So if I were to say, “God told me He doesn’t exist” you would see intuitively the obvious self-refuting nature of this statement.
Aaron goes on to explain how to deal with self-refuting statements in the article.
In this post, I want to show you an atheist tweet, and then contrast the atheist tweet with some scientific evidence.
Look at this meme that was recently tweeted by a serious atheist:
That’s the tweet, now let’s see the scientific evidence.
Look at this article from the Weather Channel which talks about the most recent NOAA hurricane estimates:
A new hurricane season forecast issued by The Weather Channel on Tuesday says we can expect the number of named storms and hurricanes in the 2015 Atlantic season to stay below historical averages.
A total of nine named storms, five hurricanes and one major hurricane are expected this season, according to the forecast prepared by The Weather Channel Professional Division. This is below the 30-year average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
[…]The Weather Channel forecast for below-average activity during the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season is consistent with what Colorado State University (CSU) said in its forecast issued on April 9. CSU’s forecast called for seven named storms, including three hurricanes, one of which is predicted to attain major hurricane status.
[…]The 2014 season featured the fewest number of named storms in 17 years (eight storms), but also featured the strongest landfalling hurricane in the mainland U.S. in six years (Hurricane Arthur on the Outer Banks), and featured two back-to-back hurricane hits on the tiny archipelago of Bermuda (Fay, then Gonzalo).
Meanwhile, we should also be concerned about tornadoes, and here is a graph of that:
As of September 25th, 2015 (the black line) is near the record low (the pink line).
By the way, the leftist Los Angeles Times is now reporting that the hurricane caused ZERO deaths. It was much less powerful than the hand-wringing global warmists wanted us to believe.
I understand that it’s fun for atheists to send each other pictures that make them feel smarter than theists, but at the end of the day, we should care about the data, shouldn’t we? I mean, we should be driving at truth using scientific evidence, and not just amuse ourselves with comforting myths that make us feel smug and self-assured.
Who’s irrational now?
Now, let’s take a more generalized look at which group, atheists or theists, are more likely to believe in ridiculous superstitions, using survey data from the center-left Pew Research Center (and not some meme tweeted on Twitter).
Notice the numbers for Republicans vs Democrats, conservatives vs. liberals, and church-attending vs non church-attending. The least superstitious people are conservative evangelical Republicans, while the most superstitious people are Democrat liberals who don’t attend church. I think there is something to be learned from that. It’s consistent with the results of a Gallup survey that showed that evangelical Christians are the most rational people on the planet.
Here’s the Wall Street Journal article about the survey done by Gallup, entitled “Look Who’s Irrational Now“. Again, this is data, and not some meme tweeted on Twitter.
The reality is that the New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won’t create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that’s not a conclusion to take on faith — it’s what the empirical data tell us.
“What Americans Really Believe,” a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.
The Gallup Organization, under contract to Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, asked American adults a series of questions to gauge credulity.
[…]The answers were added up to create an index of belief in occult and the paranormal. While 31% of people who never worship expressed strong belief in these things, only 8% of people who attend a house of worship more than once a week did.
Even among Christians, there were disparities. While 36% of those belonging to the United Church of Christ, Sen. Barack Obama’s former denomination, expressed strong beliefs in the paranormal, only 14% of those belonging to the Assemblies of God, Sarah Palin’s former denomination, did. In fact, the more traditional and evangelical the respondent, the less likely he was to believe in, for instance, the possibility of communicating with people who are dead.
When I think of the “weird” things that evangelical Christians believe, I think of the origin of the universe, the cosmic fine-tuning, the origin of life and the sudden origin of animal body plans in the Cambrian. All of that science is superstition to an atheist, and yet all of it is rooted in mainstream science. Not just that, but support for our “weird” views has grown stronger as science has progressed.
There are many, many arguments for theism in general, and Christian theism in particular:
I can accept the fact that an atheist may be ignorant of the science that defeats his atheism, but that’s something that has to be remedied with more studying of the evidence, not tweeting memes to each other and giggling like children. There is no science that supports atheism, just as there is no science that supports superstitions.
Barack Obama had a lot of confident words and personal charisma during his campaign speeches in 2008. Many young people want to believe that their positive emotional reaction to confident words will somehow make plans “work out”. But can you really compel the universe to give you goodies just by having positive feelings? Does your emotional response to handsome looks and confident words mean that somehow the universe will give you what you desire?
I want to use this article from Investors Business Daily to illustrate the importance of not picking a President based on confident words and personal charisma.
Employer-based health insurance premiums climbed 4.2% this year for family plans, according to an annual Kaiser Family Foundation report. That’s up from 3% the year before.
Since 2008, average family premiums have climbed a total of $4,865.
The White House cheered the news, saying it was a sign of continued slow growth in premium costs.
[…]”We will start,” Obama said back in 2008, “by reducing premiums by as much as $2,500 per family.”
That $2,500 figure was Obama’s mantra on health care. You can watch the video if you don’t believe it.
And Obama wasn’t talking about government subsidized insurance or expanding Medicaid or anything like that. He specifically focused on employer provided health care.
For “people who already have insurance, and the employers who are providing it,” he said at one campaign event, “we will work to lower your premiums by up to $2,500 per family.”
Let’s watch the video. I want everyone to see how confident a clown can sound when he lies about being able to solve problems that he knows nothing about.
He had no record of achievement in this area. None, Zero, Zip. And the same goes for his claims about keeping your doctor, keeping your health care plan, and so on.
But America voted to elect him. There were a lot of voters who did not want to think too hard about economics in 2008, and again in 2012. They did not want to have to put in any work to study the achievements of the candidate in the area of health care policy, to see if he had actually done anything to reduce health care premiums. They had a problem: health care costs are too high. A charismatic clown stepped forward and made their fears go away with confident talk. They made a decision to believe him. They wanted to believe that serious problems could be solved by the words of a charismatic clown, so that they would then be saved from having to evaluate the records of the candidates, to see which of them had put in place policies that had solved similar problems in their past. That’s too much work for the American voter. Better to just pick the one who seems to be able to solve the problem based on surface qualities, like confident words that produce emotional reactions. The universe will adjust because we have a positive attitude.
This is an attitude that no practical engineer like me could take. It’s a recipe for disaster. Nothing important in life – from designing e-commerce web sites, to developing cures to sickness, to constructing jet fighters – is conducted in such a stupid, emotional way.
Now, I’m pretty angry that two of my candidates, Rick Perry and Scott Walker, are out of the 2016 election. And why? Because an unqualified leftist clown is ruining the process with brash, insulting confident talk. Again, we are dealing with a clown who has no record of actual problem-solving in the areas where the American people need problems solved.
Which of these two sounds like someone on an ego trip, someone content to let the Middle East go up in flames and, like Barack Obama, someone overconfident in his own abilities to persuade others? And which sounds like he would practice the sober, principled foreign policy of Ronald Reagan as president?
Yet it is the latter, Scott Walker, who was just forced to drop out of the race, the reality TV star front-runner having sucked so much air out of the room that it was becoming impossible to survive. He laudably called it his patriotic duty to depart, thus consolidating the opposition to Trump.
Walker is one of the most successful governors in the country, having brought unemployment down from over 8% to about 4.5%, and turning Big Labor’s targeting him for destruction into three successive electoral victories in a blue state.
A week ago a governor with a longer record of accomplishment, in a state Americans are flocking to for its vibrant jobs-rich economy, was also forced to drop out. In doing so, Rick Perry of Texas made a statement affirming his rock-ribbed commitment to free-market principles, traditional values and a strong America on the world stage.
Perry and Walker are both leaders of substance. Eight years of the inexperienced, self-obsessed Obama had many Republicans concerned about 2016 looking to the governors’ mansions for someone with a proven track record of actually solving crises and reversing misguided big-government policies. These two may have been the most accomplished figures in the nation in that regard. How is it that they are early dropouts?
Political journalists are having a ball dissecting the ins and outs of fundraising and styles of campaign managing to explain Walker and Perry’s exit. But there is no ignoring the 800-pound loudmouth in the room.
In Donald Trump, the left’s caricature of conservatism — the bombast, the misogyny, the hype-above-substance — is defeating the real thing.
I do hiring interviews in my company. I always make sure to ask questions to test the claims on the candidate’s resume. It’s not hard to find out whether a person knows how to do what they claim to know how to do. Many of the people who show up for interviews try to finesse their way through engineering questions with confident talk, and emotional appeals. We don’t hire them. Why is it so hard for the American people to understand what is at stake here?
I posted this article from The Federalist on Facebook and was surprised by the response. It’s about how the secular left managed to shut down debate by replacing rational thought and disagreement with the practice of using power to silence people who disagree with them.
The article is long, and very very good. I will try to snip enough of it here to convince you to read it. The thesis is that the secular left is trying to push their views on the masses, and succeeding, but not through rational discourse.
How are they doing pushing their agenda, then?
A lot of Americans watched in shock while cultish mobs suddenly attacked the RFRA that Pence initially defended. But the groundwork for mass hysteria like this was stealthily laid for decades, and the minefields sown.
Family breakdown led to community breakdown, which we can see in the decline of trust in society. Ignorance was cultivated in the schools through political correctness and squashing free debate. The academy’s disparaging of western civilization virtually wiped out respect for any serious study of history and civics, as well as for the Socratic method and the rules of civil discourse. Political correctness sewed confusion into the language, particularly regarding identity politics. Youth are now set to be programmed for conformity through the K-12 “Common Core” curriculum mandates.
All of that and more promotes the semantic fog that allows for mind rape. It amounts to an act of “logicide,” to borrow a term from Meerloo, whom I will continue to quote below. To kill logic and reason that might stand in their way, wannabe dictators “fabricate a hate language in order to stir up mass emotions.” Leaders in Indiana, Arkansas, and Louisiana have been unable to understand this tactic and are grossly unprepared to deal with it. So they simply surrendered. In effect, they joined the mob, further endangering everybody’s freedom.
So, a majority of Americans have been presented with the idea that to some opinions on certain topics can be easily disregarded because they are “hate” – i.e., they make a certain group of people feel bad. And if you try to have a reasoned discourse with them, their response will be non-cognitive. They will call you names, try to shame you, and then comes the coercion as a last resort. The coercion can be anything from getting you fired, to vandalism, to violence, to domestic terrorism – in the case of Floyd Lee Corkins.
It turns out that deep within the human spirit, there is some sort of need to join up with a group of people, to feel righteous, and to let go of reason and just let feelings run wild over the rights of others. This is the so-called “mob mentality” which is so possible with groups on the left.
Most who protest the RFRA laws are more likely pawns than true believers. Like the “Occupy Wall Street” crowd, they tend to be atomized individuals who are drawn to the psychic thrill of being part of a mobilized mass that feeds on emotions and can feel a sense of righteousness in the stated pretext. (In the RFRA case, it’s the semantic device of “marriage equality,” but it’ll just as easily be something else tomorrow.) “The ecstatic participation in mass elation is the oldest psycho drama in the world,” wrote Meerloo.
“Crowds and Power,” by Elias Canetti, is a classic work that explores in detail the draw of the crowd for human beings. With the continued chipping away of the organic family of mother-child-father, human relationships inevitably become diluted and more subservient to a mass state. This detachment cultivates human alienation, which draws more people to answer to the call of the mass state’s mob.
Such protesters and their scores of clueless apologists in the media are also utterly detached from the reality of the meaning of laws such as an RFRA. The RFRA only clarifies that the government doesn’t get to coerce us in private thought or to dictate what we are allowed to feel, believe, think, and express. In other words, the First Amendment is not negotiable if we are to have any semblance of freedom in this country.
But the emotional stew in which we are now boiling doesn’t allow logic or reason to prevail.
I was having a chat with a Christian woman recently. We were just sort of getting to know each other and seeing what we each believed. And what was interesting to me (and this is before I read this article) is how we both 1) had a different view of what counts as good literature, good music, good drama, etc. and 2) we were very comfortable with not liking what everyone else liked. In fact, we were talking about how to get along with friends and co-workers who disagree with us on things like politics, marriage, and so on.
I was just reflecting on that as I was reading the article, and thinking to myself “in order to be a Christian, you have to have arrived at your views on issues independently or you will just abandon it whenever the majority challenges you”. Being a rebel is central to the Christian worldview – we have to do our own homework in order to resist the culture. For her, some of that was from her family experiences and her reading and following current events. For me, some of it comes from watching debates and listening to both sides. But the point is that we are both very conscious that we don’t fit in, and we are OK with it. But I think for the majority of people today, it’s not OK for them. They really have this emotional need to fit in with the “nice” group, and part of how they remain in the “nice” group is by refusing to listen to any views that are not their own. That is literally what they are taught in university, for example. They are taught to call anyone who disagrees with them a name.
I was once told by a particularly foolish East Indian man that I was pro-life because I “hated women”. I was trying to explain to him baby development in the womb, and he cut me off, ran to each of my friends, and whispered to them that I hated women. This was a grown man doing this. A computer programmer. That is what you can expect from the secular left today when disagreements arise. I sometimes wonder what that man would have thought if I showed him plugging his ears and running around in circles telling everyone what a hater I was, as I was flipping through a biology textbook and trying to show him the pictures.
But that’s exactly what’s different today. Somehow, the left has made us want to form our views based on the feelings of some group of victims. It’s the worst thing in the world to make these special people feel bad, and we have to be “on the right side of history” (their side) without ever having a rational debate about anything. Feelings of being hurt and offended short-circuit debate now. All the Christians, including me, have had to shut down talking about these things at work, because you never know what kind of psychopath you are dealing with now, and how far they will go to sanction you. It’s sad because some of my co-workers want me to talk policy and law and current events with them. But I can’t – I never know who is listening who will be offended. And that’s exactly what the propagandists are counting on. They want their followers to be little childish barbarians who organize into mobs and threaten and coerce, as we see with the Christian businesses. And they have no shame about taking a person’s job, savings, home, etc. They are unable to see we who disagree with them as human beings, so strong is their hatred of reasoned discourse and their feeling of being “offended”. I literally cannot have a conversation with some leftists because they start to shout insults at me the minute they apprehend that I don’t agree with them on some issue.
If you say that the Christian view is bad because it is exclusive, then you are also at that exact moment doing the very thing that you are saying is bad. You have to be exclusive to say that something is bad, since you exclude it from being good by calling it bad.
There is a difference, a clear difference between tolerance and truth. They are often confused. We should hold to what we believe with integrity but also support the rights of others to disagree with our viewpoint.
Sincerely believing something doesn’t make it true. You can be sincere, but sincerely wrong. If I get onto a plane and sincerely believe that it won’t crash then it does, then my sincerity is quite hopeless. It won’t change the facts. Our beliefs, regardless of how deeply they are held, have no effect on reality.
If my belief is only true for me, then why isn’t your belief only true for you? Aren’t you saying you want me to believe the same thing you do?
You say that no belief is true for everyone, but you want everyone to believe what you do.
You’re making universal claims that relativism is true and absolutism is false. You can’t in the same breath say, ‘Nothing is universally true’ and ‘My view is universally true.’ Relativism falsifies itself. It claims there is one position that is true – relativism!