Saturday, August 16, 2008

What is the "Courtier's Reply?"

Atheists are always coming up with little gimmicks. Anytime you trump them with real knowledge they get up set and find a gimmick. The Jesus myth theory was such a gimmick. Jesus was such a compelling figure and there is some decent evidence he rose from the dead, so to counter that they just pretend he never existed, and give it a little name and make up some pseudo intelligent sounding crap pertaining to it. The "default" and the "extraordinary evidence credo" these are all gimmicks atheists made up and they are passed off as pseudo official sounding quasi logical tactics that in actuality mean nothing.

The latest is the Courtier's reply. This is it:


I recently referred to the "Courtier's Reply", a term invented by PZ Myers to rebut the claims of believers who insist that their superstitious beliefs are ever so much more sophisticated than the simple version that Dawkins attacks.

PZ's response deserves much more publicity because it goes to the heart of the debate between rationalism and supersition. I'm going to post his original Courtier's Reply below (without permission, but I'm sure he'll understand) but before doing so I need to remind everyone about the original fairy tale [The Emperor's New Clothes].
This is a statement by a reductionist scientism king Larry Moran is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Toronto. He's on a blog called Sand Walk.

So what this couriter's reply is saying is that if the sketpic says stupid things about theology and demonstrates that he knows nothin gabout it and the theist says "O your criticism is invalid because you don't understand what you are criticizing" then al lthe atheist has to do is say "that's the courtiers reply" and the theist is supposed to go "O my God, I've violated a law of logic!" and give up and stop believing in God. But in realty it's nto a log of logic, I never heard it in a logic class.It's not in a lgoic text book, and the menaing of it is silly. I'ts just saying 'You can't point out my ignorance of theology because I will not allow theology to have any kind of validity or importance and religous people may not not any sort of human dignity." That's all it's saying. It's nothing more than anti-intellectual stupidity.


Here is Myers statement about it:


The Courtier's Reply
by PZ Myers


I have considered the impudent accusations of Mr Dawkins with exasperation at his lack of serious scholarship. He has apparently not read the detailed discourses of Count Roderigo of Seville on the exquisite and exotic leathers of the Emperor's boots, nor does he give a moment's consideration to Bellini's masterwork, On the Luminescence of the Emperor's Feathered Hat. We have entire schools dedicated to writing learned treatises on the beauty of the Emperor's raiment, and every major newspaper runs a section dedicated to imperial fashion; Dawkins cavalierly dismisses them all. He even laughs at the highly popular and most persuasive arguments of his fellow countryman, Lord D. T. Mawkscribbler, who famously pointed out that the Emperor would not wear common cotton, nor uncomfortable polyester, but must, I say must, wear undergarments of the finest silk.

Dawkins arrogantly ignores all these deep philosophical ponderings to crudely accuse the Emperor of nudity.

Personally, I suspect that perhaps the Emperor might not be fully clothed — how else to explain the apparent sloth of the staff at the palace laundry — but, well, everyone else does seem to go on about his clothes, and this Dawkins fellow is such a rude upstart who lacks the wit of my elegant circumlocutions, that, while unable to deal with the substance of his accusations, I should at least chide him for his very bad form.

Until Dawkins has trained in the shops of Paris and Milan, until he has learned to tell the difference between a ruffled flounce and a puffy pantaloon, we should all pretend he has not spoken out against the Emperor's taste. His training in biology may give him the ability to recognize dangling genitalia when he sees it, but it has not taught him the proper appreciation of Imaginary Fabrics.



In other words, knowledge of theological subjects is just plain bull shit and it doesn't matter if Dawkins doesn't understand it because it's not worth understanding. So it's not valid criticism of him to say that. Except the problem is, if he understood theology he would see that his criticisms are wrong. The criticisms he makes are almost always about fundamentalists views. Since he refuses to accept that there are other non fundamentalist types of theology, when you point it out he just says O that's ridiculous because all theology is crap so it doesn't matter--but if he knew that he might not make the criticisms becasue they don't apply. But it's not worthing knowing that. he's just reasoning in a cirlce.

Here's his logic:

Him: religion is evil superstiion because fundies believe X

Liberal: we don't beileve x

him: that doesn't matter becasue religion is all crap no matter what. so even if you don't believe the thing I say is crap you still your own crap that must be stupid because you are religious. I know it's stupid because religion is stupid. Of course that's based on the stuff that you don't believe but that doesn't matter.

Narrow minded anti-intellectual brinkman ship in a most unsophisticated manner.

A very emotionally immature atheist tried this on me recently. Here's how it went.

Brent: All religious people believe in big man in the sky.

Me: process theology doesn't believe in big man in the sky

Brent: that's nonsesne all religous people do so they mustt.

Me; you clearly don't know enoguh about theology to say that

Brent: Courteiers reply! Courtiers' replay!

Like some magic king'x X that's suppossed to mean something. Clearly it's stupid because they are only trying to dodge the fact that their criticisms are based upon things they don't understand and that don't apply. Its' an attempt to hide their ignorance. They are committing an informal fallacy with the use of this gimmick. It's called "ipsie dixit." It means "truth by stipulation." They are saying in effect "I simply stipulate that I will not allow you to have knowledge. AT this point on your knowledge is now void becasue I declare to be so, since it's religion and religion is stupid."

Again their reasoning is quite circular since the reasons they would give for reducing religion to superstition don't' apply to modern sophisticated theology, but the fact that it can be labeled "theology" and they don't even know what that means, they stipulate that it must be stupid. So even though their reasons don't apply they just demand that they must do so any way.

Again they are merely stipulating truth and insisting they are right without any just reasons. It's idiotic to try and criticize a whole field you know nothing about. To make up for appalling ignorance they imply a third rate gimmick that is actually made up of two informal fallacies: ipsie dixit and circular reasoning.

37 comments:

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

The Courtier's Reply, while trying to join the league of logical fallacy labels, has committed one of it's own. It begs the question.

Kristen said...

Here is the reply I made on that blog:

Thank you for enlightening me to the fact that I am stupid, that my personal experiences are all delusions, and that my careful reasoning is completely beside the point-- which is that I am stupid and that my personal experiences are all delusions.

However, may I point out that you have begun with the assumption that I am stupid and that my personal experiences are all delusions, and have not proven these assumptions?

Your "Courtier's Reply" is nothing more than a mockery on top of a mockery. Mocking has the very real effect of nullifying in your own mind any possibility of validity in the thing you are mocking, so that you cannot ever actually consider it on its own merits. It seems to me that this kind of self-congratulatory, group-think atheism is the real Emperor without clothes.

J.L. Hinman said...

good comments Kristen. thanks!

J.L. Hinman said...

All they have to do is read some theology. They are so lazy, or they can't allow themselves to be polluted. But you would think if they had any real brains they would wont to know what the other guys argue. But no, they just want a quick way to put down the enemy without having to actually think about it.

Anonymous said...

And why, exactly, is Christian theology of any intellectual value whatsoever? Why should I respect a degree from a 24-hour greasy spoon?

J.L. Hinman said...

And why, exactly, is Christian theology of any intellectual value whatsoever? Why should I respect a degree from a 24-hour greasy spoon?


How do you know its that, if you have never read any of it? You are only assuming that's what it is becasue you don't know anything about it. If you had read any you would see it's over head. you don't understand it. But you have to have background in philosphy, art, literature, scinece, yes, even science, logic, ancinet langauge history, a score of diffrent subjects. Basically everything comes into play in modern theology. you have to know something about everything.

Don't forget social science and politics.

plus you have to know theology, which is very complex because its been around a long time and has a lot to it. Theology was old and well developed before Christ walked the earth.

There are theology schools at every major university on earth. Oxford, Cambridge,Gottengen, Tubengin, Leipzig, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Georgetown, Northwestern, Berkeley, they all have their theology departments.

Modern theologians are respected the world over. Jurgen Moltmann who teaches at Tugengein is respected by the philosophers there and what he does is of interest to them. Hans Kung was regarded as a major thinker, as were Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr. Niebuhr was an adviser to FDR, Trueman, Kennedy, LBJ. He didn't just lead the prayer breakfast he was a policy adviser.

Alfred North Whithead who invented process theology was the side Kid of Bertrand Russell in writing Pricipa Mathematics. He is highly respect by logicians and even the few scientists who know something about history of ideas respect him.

Oppenheimer (atom bomb guy) was respectful of theology and took it seriously as a subject.

Mystical Seeker said...

Analogies can be useful, but when the other party in a discussion doesn't accept the analogy, or if they think that your analogy is faulty, then you don't win the argument by just taking the disputed analogy for granted and then labeling the other party accordingly. Yet that is precisely what the militant atheists are doing when they invoke the "Courtier's Reply" argument. It isn't actually an argument at all; it is a way of declaring victory and taking their ball home with them--without actually addressing any of the issues at hand.

The Courtier's Reply Argument is indeed a case of begging the question. Those who accuse others of invoking the Courtier's Reply actually themselves take for granted the very analogy that they are trying to establish. They have made a comparison between themselves and the character in the Hans Christian Andersen story who said the Emperor had no clothes. And they furthermore equate God with the non-existent clothes in that story.

The problem here is that militant atheists wear their ignorance of theology on their sleeve, claim that it doesn't matter that they don't actually have any education about what it is they are refuting because they somehow know a priori all they need to know about the subject anyway, and then when someone calls them on it, they assert that those who call them on their ignorance are just using the "Courtier's Reply". The way they are to do this is by asserting that "clothes" is a universally understood concept that even the most uneducated person can identify, and then, somehow, they also assert that the same applies also to the concept of God. Perhaps they think that all nouns in the English language function in this same way, and that all have the same self-evident referent. How they are able to make this leap is rather difficult to say, and since they actually know so little about theology that they cannot explain how it is that they know that clothes are analogous to God. Suggesting that perhaps not all concepts are analogous in this manner with "clothes" is dismissed as the Courtier's Reply, even though the only way they could actually know whether or not clothes are inherently analogous with God would be to study the very subject (God) that they insist a priori that they don't need to know anything about.

The argument says that "a (which I know something about) is analagous with b (which I do not know anything about), and if you assert that b is in fact not like a, you are just like the person in a fictional story who was in denial about the non-existence of a in a specific circumstance. Hah! I win!"

It's a clever rhetorical trick, declaring one's own side the victor by means of a disputed analogy, and, further, an analogy with something that you admit you know nothing about, but there you have it.

H. Jasbalz said...

It seems some of you really don't understand why the "Courtier's Reply" was brought up in the first place. It was brought up to help you understand our point of view. Brent wasn't bringing it up to be mean, he was just trying to explain how he views things.

From this atheist's perspective, there is no such thing as god or gods. I don't mean to say that I've searched every corner of the universe and am 100% sure there is no god. What I mean is that as far as I can tell, there is no god. In other words, I don't believe in your god. That's it. I'm making no claims. All I'm saying is that it's not real to me. If you are going to make extraordinary claims about the existence of a god, the burden of proof is on you. Maybe god exists in your head, but can you show me that he exists outside of your head so I can see for myself?

I've never experienced a miracle, I've never seen a prayer answered and I've never seen any physical evidence that god exists. As a matter of fact over and over, things that were once thought to be supernatural (thunder, disease, earthquakes, etc..), now have found natural explanations. Never in the history of humanity has a natural occurrence been reclassified as supernatural.

If you were trying to tell me that unicorns really exist, I would say the exact same thing. "Prove it"! Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I want evidence. You can't talk me into believing your special brand of fairy tale. I'm a skeptic. Please keep that in mind.

I think the definition of Theology would be helpful in this case (from dictionary.com):

the·ol·o·gy
Pronunciation[thee-ol-uh-jee]–noun, plural -gies.
1. the field of study and analysis that treats of God and of God's attributes and relations to the universe; study of divine things or religious truth; divinity.
2. a particular form, system, branch, or course of this study.

Since I don't believe in gods, theology has no value to me. Studying something that doesn't exist is a really lousy way to spend one's day. I would have the same reaction if someone told me that in order to have an productive conversation, I must study unicorns. No thank you. I don't want to study unicorns. I couldn't care less about unicorns. Keep your study of unicorns to yourself because it's gibberish to me. If I were a unicorn-worshipper, maybe then it would make sense to me to study unicorns?

The "Courtiers Reply" is not a gimmick. It's a clever, funny analogy that explains the atheist's point of view which is that since we don't believe in your god, studying your god and religion is pointless. Studying theology isn't going to make me understand anything. You can talk to me about how fine the emperor's clothes are or how cool your unicorn is or that I need to understand theology, but it's all nonsense from my point of view.

Imagine what it would be like if everyone you knew believed in unicorns? And not only that, but what if they also worshipped unicorns? What if they held a book about unicorns to be the divine truth of the universe? What if they invoked unicorns to advance their political agendas? What if they pontificated about how non-unicorn-believers were indecent people incapable of morality? And what if they claimed that morality can only be predicated on the unquestioning belief in unicorns? If you can imagine this world (switch the word unicorn with Jesus) you now know what it's like to be an atheist in America.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

Hi H. Jasbalz,

I'm an atheist, and I understand that the Courtier's Reply illustrates the atheist's perspective, but to me it is amusing, but about as effective as Pascal's Wager, since it depends on begging the question.

To me it is obvious that God does not exist, at least not a god who is real and tangible to me. This, to me, is still not analogous to the nude emperor.

Mystical Seeker said...

I for one am not telling anyone that they have to study ideas about God in order to have a productive conversation. I am saying that they have to study ideas about God in order to have a productive conversation about God. If you are not interested in theology, by all means don't study it, but then don't turn around and pontificate on a subject about which you proudly know nothing. My complaint is not with atheists in general who choose not to believe in God as they understand the concept, but rather with those militant atheists who not only do not believe in God, but who actively pursue an agenda of engagement about the subject of God's existence, and yet admit their ignorance on the very subject that they invest so much effort discussing. There are a lot of topics that don't interest me and which I don't take the time to learn about, but I don't then engage in internet discussions about those topics in which I loudly proclaim my viewpoints on the subject and at the same time wear my ignorance about it on my sleeve like a badge of honor.

As for the Courtier's Reply argument stating that "since we don't believe in your god, studying your god and religion is pointless", I would only suggest that before asserting anything whatsoever about "my god", you first have to know what "my god" is. It is a perfectly valid choice not to know anything about "my god"; we all have limited time on our hands and obviously are under no obligation to avail ourselves of knowledge about subjects that don't interest us. The issue is not that any atheist has to learn theology, but simply that some militant atheists are trying to have their cake and eat it too; rather than considering in the subject of religion irrelevant and going their own way without any concern about it because it doesn't interest them, they take a great deal of interest in the subject of religion (namely to debunk it) but then make no effort to actually know anything about this subject that they are so interested in.

Simply switching the analogy from clothes to unicorns changes nothing in this regard. Again, if one thinks that God is just like a unicorn, at a bare minimum, in order to make the case for that position, you have to be able to know something this concept of God that you claim is like a unicorn. Simply stating that God is like a unicorn or like clothes in a Danish fairy tale is no argument whatsoever. There is nothing necessarily wrong with ignorance about a subject, as I mentioned above, when it is coupled with indifference. But my issue is not with people who are ignorant and also indifferent, but with those who are actively engaged in the subject about which they are so proudly ignorant.

J.L. Hinman said...

It seems some of you really don't understand why the "Courtier's Reply" was brought up in the first place. It was brought up to help you understand our point of view. Brent wasn't bringing it up to be mean, he was just trying to explain how he views things.


No, he began our association by talking to me as I'm a fool. I am accomplished int he edudcational field adn I will not be treated taht way. It's quite clealry he knows nothing. These modern little Dakinsians think they are superior and they look upon theists, especially Christians the same way Nazis looked at Jews. You can just go down the page and show every single detail is there. They are superior, they are smarter, they deserve to have their views heard we deserve no respect and I've quoted countless numbers of them saying so.

I know all atheists are not like that. The so called 'new atheists' which I will now Call "Dawkinsians" are.


From this atheist's perspective, there is no such thing as god or gods. I don't mean to say that I've searched every corner of the universe and am 100% sure there is no god. What I mean is that as far as I can tell, there is no god. In other words, I don't believe in your god. That's it. I'm making no claims.All I'm saying is that it's not real to me. If you are going to make extraordinary claims about the existence of a god, the burden of proof is on you. Maybe god exists in your head, but can you show me that he exists outside of your head so I can see for myself?


the problem is, the so called "courtier's replay (aka from now on "the brown shirt move") is nothing more than an attempt to ridicule religious views so that they wil not be heard. It is quite possible to say "I don't agree with you, I don't believe your thing," without saying "you are a brain dead idiot and don't deserve to be herd." that's exactly what you and that little freak and all the other brown shirts are saying.

I realize that you are trying to sound nice, but what you say is not logical. Because that brown shirt move is not just saying "I don't bleieve your thing" it's saying "you don't rate a hearing, what you think is garbage and I don't to read it or know about it to nkow what's wrong wtih it.

that is anti-intellectual crap.


See we do believe in God. we think we can prove it but dawkinsians refuse to listen to the proof. they want to mock and ridicule but they refuse to listen so they don't know what they mock.


I've never experienced a miracle, I've never seen a prayer answered and I've never seen any physical evidence that god exists.

yes, but I have. Why does that make me an idiot? Just becasue you have not seen it why doesn't mean it can't be true? why does that mean If I think I have seen it I must be a fool?



As a matter of fact over and over, things that were once thought to be supernatural (thunder, disease, earthquakes, etc..), now have found natural explanations. Never in the history of humanity has a natural occurrence been reclassified as supernatural.


No actually that's not true. It's wrong and it's decpeptivley wrong. But to know why guess waht? you are going to have to read theology! But since you think theology is crap and you don't have to read it, I guess you will never know. But you are wrong about that that is wrong.

Not the way ti is and furthermore many supernatural things have been proven to be the case.


If you were trying to tell me that unicorns really exist, I would say the exact same thing. "Prove it"! Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I want evidence. You can't talk me into believing your special brand of fairy tale. I'm a skeptic. Please keep that in mind.



Obviously you don't want evidence. the courtiers reply thing is saying that you can know that what I think is crap even without hearing the evidence. So obviously you don't want evidence.

I think the definition of Theology would be helpful in this case (from dictionary.com):

the·ol·o·gy
Pronunciation[thee-ol-uh-jee]–noun, plural -gies.
1. the field of study and analysis that treats of God and of God's attributes and relations to the universe; study of divine things or religious truth; divinity.
2. a particular form, system, branch, or course of this study.

Since I don't believe in gods, theology has no value to me.


you are just reasoning in a circle. you just said you want evidence, then you turn around and admit that you don't want to hear the evidence because you disagree with it. so which is it?

I want to hear ideas even I don't agere with them. I don't like accounting. I don't want to hear anything about accoutning. But I know better than to say tah all acountantes are idiots just because I dont' want to be one. some day I may need an accoutnant so know better than to shut them all up.

I want to hear ideas that I don't agree with becuase that's called "learning." It means you know stuff. Even wrong Ideas can give you insight. But what you are saying is you dnot' want to hear something because you don't agree with it. but since you don't know anything about it you don't know if you agree or not.

how can say you want evidence then say You wont listen to evidence becasue you don't agree?

How do you know all ideas about god are stupid if you don't know waht all of them are?




Studying something that doesn't exist is a really lousy way to spend one's day.


that's nonsense. that' utter buck I don't believe you accept it. did you go to the Matrix? do you not rading novels? do you change the chanenl when fictinal shows come on tv?

How do you know its not true if you don't know what it says?

I can destroy every reason;n you have not to believe in God if you would pay attention to my arguments.



I would have the same reaction if someone told me that in order to have an productive conversation, I must study unicorns. No thank you.


why not? you seem to have developed some kind little qusi ehtical bs satnce agisnt hearling what you agree with. that is nothing more than narrow minded. you have made a virtue out of being anti-learning.

Lots' of things in the world of thought require the study of things that don't exist. You can't learn philosophy without hearing things with which you disagree. you can't understand history if you don't study a lot of ideas you wont like. you are choosing to be ignorant and narrow minded.

how are you going to know evidence when you hear it?



I don't want to study unicorns.


why not? What if I were to tell you that you can't understand why the middle ages were the way they were without understand what people thought about unicorns? would you still not want to know about them?

what if I told you that without understanding the middle ages you could never understand why things are as they are now?

why do you think the concept of a unicorn is so meaningful that it somehow should convince me of something?





I couldn't care less about unicorns. Keep your study of unicorns to yourself because it's gibberish to me. If I were a unicorn-worshipper, maybe then it would make sense to me to study unicorns?


stop pretending that you know anmything about religion. Clearly you don't want to know anything about it. so you don't know what it says and you don't weather it's bad or good.

that's the kind of view that I would have hated when I was an atheist. That's the kind of narrow minded bigotry that got black people killed in the 60s.


The "Courtiers Reply" is not a gimmick. It's a clever, funny analogy that explains the atheist's point of view which is that since we don't believe in your god,

clever? you think it's clear to say "I don't know anything about your ideas but I know they must be stupid so refuse to hear them? wow that' so clever. you must think the KKK are geniuses.


studying your god and religion is pointless.

how do you know it's pointless if you don't know what it says.




Studying theology isn't going to make me understand anything.


that's true,it wouldn't. but I 'm sure nothing you study would Make you know anything. You wouldn't understand any other subject either becasue nothing can make you know things. you have to make yourself know thing and you can't do being narrow minded and refusing to understand what other people think.


I am curious how far did you go in school? what kind of grades did you make?




You can talk to me about how fine the emperor's clothes are or how cool your unicorn is or that I need to understand theology, but it's all nonsense from my point of view.


how do you know that if you don't know what we say?

do you not understand the exampel that in the argument that moron Rasmussen he himself demonstrated that since he doesn't theology he just said stuff that I ttoally disproven as false and he wont even look at that becasue he doesn't know anything.'


I don't care if you learn about theology or not just stop pretending you know about stop pretending you know what it says. yo don't', you don't anything. just admit yo are ignorant and that your dislike is based upon a lack of learning.


Imagine what it would be like if everyone you knew believed in unicorns? And not only that, but what if they also worshipped unicorns? What if they held a book about unicorns to be the divine truth of the universe? What if they invoked unicorns to advance their political agendas? What if they pontificated about how non-unicorn-believers were indecent people incapable of morality? And what if they claimed that morality can only be predicated on the unquestioning belief in unicorns? If you can imagine this world (switch the word unicorn with Jesus) you now know what it's like to be an atheist in America.


stop acting like you have proven something because you can rave about mother fucking unicorns. that's not proof of shit. you can't prove any of your viwes about religion because you have chosen ignorance.

the only thing you have proven to me is that atheism is a hate group and it's based upon igorance a lack of learning a real hatred of thought and sill childsih prejudices and superstitions.

J.L. Hinman said...

Mike, I disagree with your views, whatever they are. I don't to hear them becasue I disagree with them, what ever they are.

I'm kidding. Don't worry I don't' think all atheists are like that.

I am assuming Jazbalz is a female? why? I don't know. but I don't mean to be cruel to that person, he/she or whatever.

but why does she/he feel completed to come say this? Since she/he refuses to learn, why bother trying to talk to people about that which she/he refuses to learn about?

how can we have discussion and exchange views, and this person expects me to tolerate and understand that view, but refuses to listen to my view?

btw my arguments do prove there's a God.

Kristen said...

H. Jasbalz,

What you don't seem to understand is that "the Courtier's Reply" completely shuts down discussion or any possibility of it. All theists are confronted with "tell it to the hand, because the face is not listening." It's not just as Mystical Seeker says, that theism doesn't interest you; it's that you've already decided that theism belongs in the garbage dump. If you truly feel that way, ok-- but why be so rude as to point it out? And why expect anything in response other than indignation and affront?

The worse thing is that by comparing belief in God to belief in unicorns, you have shown that you don't know, or care to know, what belief in God actually is. What you are rejecting is a straw unicorn.

You see, we don't mind being told you think we're wrong. We mind being told you think we're ridiculous. If the tables were turned, you'd understand why.

What if I were to say, "all atheists' real problem is that they all had problems with their fathers or father figures; therefore they hate God"? Such a blanket statement would be inaccurate, insulting, dismissive and unfair. But that is what the "Courtier's Reply" slap in the face does to us.

Loren said...

I disagree; I think that the Courtier's Reply is legitimate. It's a way of stating that claims of great sophistication in some subject matter are no substitute for establishing that that subject matter is real. Because if one does not do such establishing, then one might as well be talking about the outcome of a Superman vs. Batman contest or whether Star Trek or Star Wars ships are more powerful.

Astrologers, Tarot-card readers, homeopaths, chiropractors, and theologians of religions one does not believe in can all claim great sophistication in their subject matter, but that's not usually considered arguments for their truth. In effect, we willingly apply the Courtier's Reply to such claims of sophistication.

J.L. Hinman said...

I disagree; I think that the Courtier's Reply is legitimate. It's a way of stating that claims of great sophistication in some subject matter are no substitute for establishing that that subject matter is real. Because if one does not do such establishing, then one might as well be talking about the outcome of a Superman vs. Batman contest or whether Star Trek or Star Wars ships are more powerful.


2 problems:

(1) Dawkins says Christians do or believe X, but the fact is they dont. he got wrong what they say. that means his point is wrong. We say "no we don't bleieve, that you need to know theology becuase taht would show you waht we believe" at that point to say "I don't to read theology because it's not estabished" is no better than saying "I dont' ahve to be right in the criticisms I make I can just stipulate that I'm right, so even when I'm wrong I'm right."

that is crap. that is no way to argue!

(2) It is established. The existence of God and the rationality of bleif is well established and has been for 1000 years. that's why you need to know theology, because that is where you learn about the establishing of the point.


Astrologers, Tarot-card readers, homeopaths, chiropractors, and theologians of religions one does not believe in can all claim great sophistication in their subject matter, but that's not usually considered arguments for their truth. In effect, we willingly apply the Courtier's Reply to such claims of sophistication.

No they can't. Complexity yes, sophistocation, no.

that's argument from analogy, which is a fallacy. modal logic is not on a par with tarot cards. modal logic is real logic, logicians and scientists accept it as valid.

modal logic proves the existence of God.

Mystical Seeker said...

The problem is not the sophistication (or lack thereof) of the subject matter, but ignorance of subject matter. In order to even have an intelligent discussion of the subject matter, you first have to be educated about it so that you even know what you are talking about. This is the fundamental problem with the militant atheist approach that says that one can pontificate about a subject that they are not informed about. Certainly they can pontificate all they want, but they just look like fools when they do so.

The Courtier's Reply argument is just a justification for ignorance.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

As much as I hate to be an atheist arguing against atheists. We know, with absolute certainty that Batman and Superman, and the Star Trek and Star Wars universes do not exist, they are, and always been portrayed as, works of fiction.

We do not know with absolute certainty that a god does not exist. The Courtier's Reply would only work if we changed the original story to be about an invisible naked emperor.

Loren said...

As to sophistication, you ought to look at what the fancier astrologers say, as opposed to reading the newspaper Sun-Sign columns. They talk about trines and sextiles and decans and other such fancy stuff. An astrologer can even make the argument that critics of astrology are ignoring all this wonderful sophistication. Which is the sort of argument that the Courtier's Reply is directed at. In effect, don't brag about what a wonderful theoretical superstructure you have; show that your subject matter is real.

Astrologers also argue that "the stars incline, but do not compel", and they sometimes point to eminent scientists who had been astrologers, like Johannes Kepler. They also point to such phenomena as the Moon making tides, and complain about how closed-minded the mainstream scientific community allegedly is about astrology.

Also, I searched for the modal-logic version of the Ontological Argument, and I don't know if I found your version. However, it's as fallacious as all the other arguments -- it jumps from possibly existing to necessarily existing.

And the same argument applies for an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnimalevolent being also.

Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

"it jumps from possibly existing to necessarily existing."

That's where they all lose me. I'm fully open to the idea of God, but as soon as someone says a god just has to exist I just don't see it.

That and the fact that I still see nothing in my life that I would call a god of any kind. Maybe someday I will, who knows?

J.L. Hinman said...

As to sophistication, you ought to look at what the fancier astrologers say, as opposed to reading the newspaper Sun-Sign columns. They talk about trines and sextiles and decans and other such fancy stuff. An astrologer can even make the argument that critics of astrology are ignoring all this wonderful sophistication. Which is the sort of argument that the Courtier's Reply is directed at. In effect, don't brag about what a wonderful theoretical superstructure you have; show that your subject matter is real.


I know what astrologers say. I know more than the stupid deals in the paper. that does not answer mya argument. Look you are arguing from analogy. you thing if x,y, and z are stupid and illogical, and you don't them, then p,d,q which also don't like must also be stupid. If thing you don't like is stupid than everything you don't like is stupid. that is not an argument doesn't prove anything and it's a fallacy.

you keep ignoring the one crucial fact, by not knowing about theology you get the ideas you attack wrong so your augments are wrong because you don't understand what you are attacking.


Astrologers also argue that "the stars incline, but do not compel", and they sometimes point to eminent scientists who had been astrologers, like Johannes Kepler. They also point to such phenomena as the Moon making tides, and complain about how closed-minded the mainstream scientific community allegedly is about astrology.

again, argument from analogy. that simply has nothing to do with my arguments.

Also, I searched for the modal-logic version of the Ontological Argument, and I don't know if I found your version. However, it's as fallacious as all the other arguments -- it jumps from possibly existing to necessarily existing.


No it does not! you clearly don't understand it. you do not understand it. I'll put up my version of it in the main blog spot.

it is not a fallacy. All kinds of logicians declare it valid.


And the same argument applies for an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnimalevolent being also.


no they don't.

Kristen said...

I've been gone a few days; hope people are still reading comments here--

Loren,

All I can say is that if atheists want to keep their arguments to just this: I don't believe in God, prove there's a God-- then the Courtier's Reply might have some merit if the theists then went on to discuss, not evidence for God, but various understandings of the nature of God-- because the theists would then not be answering the atheists' question. (The fact that atheists define "evidence" so narrowly that one prove Abraham Lincoln ever lived, let alone that there's a God, within the confines of that definition, is beside the point here).

But the atheistic arguments against God go far beyond, "I don't see any evidence for God." They include, as has been said, "Belief in God is like belief in unicorns." This is another topic entirely, having to do with the nature of belief, and whether religious experience is equatable with imagination (my understanding is that different areas of the brain are in use during religious experience than are in use in imaginative episodes). But if we theists then try to address the nature of belief, and the difference between imagination and religious experience-- the Courtier's Reply is nothing more than a refusal to listen.

Further, atheists attack different ideas/conceptions of God for all kinds of reasons, most of which boil down to, "your god is nothing more than a big sky daddy." Then, when theists say, "No, God isn't-- here's all the reasons why"-- it is completely unfair to come back with the Courtier's Reply, because it's not the existence of God that is in question now, but the nature of God.

If atheists want to attack theist's ideas about God, rather than just whether or not God exists, and then use the Courtier's Reply tactic when theists answer, surely you can see that this is just a shutdown of all discussion?

Atheist: "Your God is just a big sky daddy."

Theist, "No, God is the Ground of Being."

Atheist: "Now you're using the Courtier's Reply. I don't care what you say your God is like."

But it was the atheist who started the argument with a statement about what God is like!

The tactic is simply evasive, a pseudo-clever insult, and is a way of attacking theists without having to listen to their defenses.

Anonymous said...

Actually, what the courtiers reply says is this:

Don't tell me that I don't know what I am talking about because somebody once wrote a book that I didn't read.

If you have a good counter argument - present the argument. Don't present me with an endless litany of names and quotes, present me with an argument.

If all you do is present me with the fact that I haven't read every book ever on a given subject, all you are doing is using the courtiers reply, which is nothing more than using cosmo to defend the idea that the emperor is not indeed, naked.

Obviously, this is problematic for theists because generally when they spout off a list of names they assume I haven't read - they haven't read them either.

Anonymous said...

Kirsten

Okay, what you posted:

Atheist: "Your God is just a big sky daddy."

Theist, "No, God is the Ground of Being."

Atheist: "Now you're using the Courtier's Reply. I don't care what you say your God is like."


Is not the courtiers reply, it is quibbling. Whether your god is a sky god or a ground god doesn't change the need to prove the god actually exists.

The courtiers reply lies in appealing to random authorities in the hopes than nobody read them in a bid to avoid actually having to come up with an argument.

It is in avoiding actually arguing your case via repeated appeals to authority.

Now, whether your god is a sky daddy, a ground mommy or a water great-great-great grandson (At least one theory of God could be that he is the time travelling ultimate product of evolution) this figure requires evidence.

Without the evidence, arguing over God's nature is simply establishing what you need to prove. Once you have established this you still need to prove it.

J.L. Hinman said...

Anonymous said...

Actually, what the courtiers reply says is this:

Don't tell me that I don't know what I am talking about because somebody once wrote a book that I didn't read.


but that is nothing more than being stupid. what if we were talking about math? you say something about imaginary numbers, I don't know what they are but I said "don't tell me what I don' tknow I know imaginary numbers are stupid even if I don't know what they are." Don't you agree that would be ignorant?

If you have a good counter argument - present the argument. Don't present me with an endless litany of names and quotes, present me with an argument.



how can you know if it is a good counter argument if you don't know the original argument?

If all you do is present me with the fact that I haven't read every book ever on a given subject, all you are doing is using the courtiers reply, which is nothing more than using cosmo to defend the idea that the emperor is not indeed, naked.


you are just being dense atheioid. no one is just saying 'You haven't read this book>" obviously we are saying you don't understand our arguments because you don't know what our beliefs are. Obviously you have to know that to attack it.

Obviously, this is problematic for theists because generally when they spout off a list of names they assume I haven't read - they haven't read them either.


that's where you are full of shit because I have read them. I have masters in theology and a Ph.D. (abd) in history of ideas. Like most atheists you don't know what you are talking about.
2:53 AM
Anonymous said...

Kirsten

Okay, what you posted:

Atheist: "Your God is just a big sky daddy."

Theist, "No, God is the Ground of Being."

Atheist: "Now you're using the Courtier's Reply. I don't care what you say your God is like."

Is not the courtiers reply, it is quibbling. Whether your god is a sky god or a ground god doesn't change the need to prove the god actually exists.


and yet...that's the way most of them use it most often.

The courtiers reply lies in appealing to random authorities in the hopes than nobody read them in a bid to avoid actually having to come up with an argument.


we aren't siting random authorities are we? all of this is stems from the fact that atheists are very ignorant and can't think so they don't know what intellectual discussion is and they don't know what knowledge is. We are talking about the major thinkers that give Christianity its ideas. So its very stupid of atheist to think they can know about Christianity if they don't its major ideas.

It is in avoiding actually arguing your case via repeated appeals to authority.


they are so cute when they think they can think




Now, whether your god is a sky daddy, a ground mommy or a water great-great-great grandson (At least one theory of God could be that he is the time travelling ultimate product of evolution) this figure requires evidence.



you say that because you don't nkow what the terms mean so you don't know what ground of bein gis so you don't understand why it makes a difference.

Without the evidence, arguing over God's nature is simply establishing what you need to prove. Once you have established this you still need to prove it.


tha's the rub isn't it? because the evidence is there in theology. see? you refuse to read it because you say it's stupid you don't have to read then you make super ignorant comments like this because you being an atheist you are idiot and don't understand intellectual life you don't know what evidence is.

the very thing you refuse to read because you say it's stupid is the evidence, dumb dumb.

Anonymous said...

What possible evidence is there for the existence of Jesus? None
What evidence is there for miracles? None

I would suspect that if evidence existed, then religion would be on the rise and the scientific community would generally accept it. This is not the case.

We can clearly show prayer does not work.

Humans invented religion to help understand the world in a time when dragons existed and the earth is flat. Why do you think religion is dying out? It is dying because everyday we are learning more from SCIENCE. Religion in no way helps us understand, anything.

Courtiers reply is a great way of explaining a common Theist argument that because I don't believe in god, I can't possibly understand him.

If I were to approach you on the street and said a giant panda bear visited me in the night and told me he is the creator of the universe it would then be up to me to prove it. I would think though you would assume I was crazy. This is the argument you present. You claim to know but can't prove it. You claim to understand god then turn around and say we can't understand god.

"The worse thing is that by comparing belief in God to belief in unicorns, you have shown that you don't know, or care to know, what belief in God actually is. What you are rejecting is a straw unicorn." This is a utterly stupid point. Claiming that god can't be understood for some arguments then turning back around and stating that the person just doesn't understand god is illogical. I hope you can see this. Comparing unicorns to god is a good way to show how illogical your point of view is. I claim unicorns exist, however, I can't prove it. This is the same argument you are making.

I would like to end by saying that I truly wish in my lifetime that religion would die out. The world would be so much better.

Metacrock said...

Anonymous said...

What possible evidence is there for the existence of Jesus? None

wrong! there's a huge amount.that's why no historian doubts it. Only dummies doubt Jesus existence in history.

proof Jesus lived as a man in history

What evidence is there for miracles? None


a huge amount of evidence for miracles

I would suspect that if evidence existed, then religion would be on the rise and the scientific community would generally accept it. This is not the case.


qahahaha you idiot! 3% of the world pop is atheist idiots. 90% believe in god you simpleton!

science community is made of dunderheads that's why they are no in philsophy

Metacrock said...

We can clearly show prayer does not work.


you mean by little childish lies like on that stupid ass amputees website. those people are fools.

"close your eyes real tight, say "God I demand a chocolate milk shake right now, if a Milkshake does not appear then there prayer doesn't work." how stupid can you get? Only an imbecile would think that means anything. 15 studies specifically on prayer prove it works. real scientific studied not little dumb dumb meaningless tricks.


Scientiifc investigation of Prayer

Humans invented religion to help understand the world in a time when dragons existed and the earth is flat. Why do you think religion is dying out? It is dying because everyday we are learning more from SCIENCE. Religion in no way helps us understand, anything.

what makes you think religion is dying out. atheism is dying out. Before the 0's America had 3%. In 08 the Pew studies showed it has 1.5% in America. that's going down! Religion is not going down. People are shifting form Christianity to neg pagan or Unitarian or other but they not giving up religion.

Courtiers reply is a great way of explaining a common Theist argument that because I don't believe in god, I can't possibly understand him.


It's imbecilic. It's judgeming something you know nothing about and refusing to learn abou tit. It's an Orwellian ploy right out of animal farm. Go rad Animal Farm b Geroge Orwell you will see atheism in action.

Metacrock said...

If I were to approach you on the street and said a giant panda bear visited me in the night and told me he is the creator of the universe it would then be up to me to prove it. I would think though you would assume I was crazy. This is the argument you present. You claim to know but can't prove it. You claim to understand god then turn around and say we can't understand god.


the way you think about rligion is really idiotic. it's manipulated and brain washed by a bunch of childish fools who are counting on your simplistic thinking to reduce complex and highly intelligent ideas to stupidity through ignorance. You are just like an illiterate guy laughing at books becuase you can't understand them.

dumb little anecdotes and bad analogies are ot proof.


"The worse thing is that by comparing belief in God to belief in unicorns, you have shown that you don't know, or care to know, what belief in God actually is. What you are rejecting is a straw unicorn." This is a utterly stupid point.

Its' obvious, the greatest in human history have always been God believers. From Newton to Alston the major thinkers in all eras of human history have believed in God. The list great thinking atheists is pathetic. Brutrand Russell and Mark Twain, big deal!


Claiming that god can't be understood for some arguments then turning back around and stating that the person just doesn't understand god is illogical.


that's a simpleton's bull shit. you are just saying "God can't be over my head I don't believe in hummm ahahahah HU Duh!



I hope you can see this. Comparing unicorns to god is a good way to show how illogical your point of view is. I claim unicorns exist, however, I can't prove it. This is the same argument you are making.


no it' snot, it's argument from analogy. I hope your little inferior brain can understand the concept I know being an atheist proves you are intellectually inferior to me. But try to think real hard, analogizes are not poof. comparing is analogy. so comparing doesn't prove, see?

let's do it agin becasue you know you can't think well:

(1) Analogies don't prove things

(2) comparison is analogy

(3) the compression of God to Unicorn is comparison, which is analogy, which doesn't prove things, therefore, it's not proving anything.

it's a bad analogy anyway because a unicorn is a thing, it's made of patching to things together, a horse and horn. God is not a thing, God is the basis of things, not a thin himself. God is not made of patching things together but is a whole concept that can't be deconstructed.


I would like to end by saying that I truly wish in my lifetime that religion would die out. The world would be so much better.


but it's not ever gonna. Go read "why God wont go Away" by Andrew Newberg and you will find that God is a percent part of human thought it cannot be taken away.

if you bothered to tryt o learn tings one of the first things you would see as just obvious is that religious people are smarter, atheism is a hate group. it brain washed you because you are feeling bad about yourself and you need the fix of bullying some group so you have put yourself by putting them down. you probalby have a putrid home life and no father. Or a weak father. you need to open your eyes to the true nature of learning.

SPR said...

That last anonymous poster bumped about 40 points off my IQ. I can not believe how stupid people can be, and they wonder why we get a bit shitty with them. I swear he was the newest species to evolve, the homo ignoramus.

Analyst said...

Jesus was such a compelling figure and there is some decent evidence he rose from the dead.

What is it?

Metacrock said...

see my resurrection pages on Doxa

Analyst said...

I took a brief look. Nothing there deals with the real problem: Every piece of evidence confirms that gospel Jesus never existed.

Quote:
The following is a list of writers who lived and wrote during the time, or within a century after the time, that Christ is said to have lived and performed his wonderful works:

Josephus, Philo-Judaeus, Seneca, Pliny the Elder, Suetonius, Juvenal, Martial, Persius, Plutarch, Justus of Tiberius, Apollonius, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, Quintilian, Lucanus, Epictetus, Silius Italicus, Statius, Ptolemy, Hermogones, Valerius Maximus, Arrian, Petronius, Dion Pruseus, Paterculus, Appian, Theon of Smyrna, Phlegon, Pompon Mela, Quintius Curtius, Lucian, Pausanias, Valerius Flaccus, Florus Lucius, Favorinus, Phaedrus, Damis, Aulus Gellius, Columella, Dio Chrysostom, Lysias, Appion of Alexandria.

Enough of the writings of the authors named in the foregoing list remains to form a library. Yet in this mass of Jewish and Pagan literature, aside from two forged passages in the works of a Jewish author, and two disputed passages in the works of Roman writers, there is to be found no mention of Jesus Christ.

Philo was born before the beginning of the Christian era, and lived until long after the reputed death of Christ. He wrote an account of the Jews covering the entire time that Christ is said to have existed on earth. He was living in or near Jerusalem when Christ's miraculous birth and the Herodian massacre occurred. He was there when Christ made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

He was there when the crucifixion with its attendant earthquake, supernatural darkness, and resurrection of the dead took place -- when Christ himself rose from the dead, and in the presence of many witnesses ascended into heaven. These marvelous events which must have filled the world with amazement, had they really occurred, were unknown to him. It was Philo who developed the doctrine of the Logos, or Word, and although this Word incarnate dwelt in that very land and in the presence of multitudes revealed himself and demonstrated his divine powers, Philo saw it not.

From "The Christ" -- John E. Remsberg

(There's also nothing in the Dead Sea Scrolls.)

Metacrock said...

You didn't say you wanted evidence on him existing. You said "is there evidecne he rose from the deas." I hesnse I sent you to the resurrection pages. Now you coplain that he didn't exist.

Obviously if he rose form the dead he had to exist. Did you even read the stuff on the resurrection pages?

I am going to answer in the main blog spot, it will be the major article for today, May 18, 2012. I was wondering what to do it on today anyway.

It's manifestly bunk that there is no evidence he existed, and the things you list are not things historians would accept. Mythers have created their phony historical stadnards. Pleases see the major page of the blog latter to day for more.

Metacrock said...

noting in the dead sea scrolls? depends upon you expect to find. Nothing about Jesus of cousre, he lived a 100 years latter.

Metacrock said...

here's my answeron evidence that he existed

Analyst said...

Quote: "We know next to nothing about Thallus or his works. We don't even know if he wrote only one book or several. The only information we have about him, even his name, comes entirely from Christian apologetic sources beginning in the late 2nd century, and that information is plagued with problems."

Quote: "How someone could call Thallus "the most celebrated of the pagan chronographers of the imperial period" is incomprehensible. The man and the book are equally shadowy to us."

Quote: "... we know for a fact that Phlegon wrote in the 140's AD, and was fond of fantastic stories, so it would not be surprising to find him borrowing this one from Christian literature. But Martin Routh noticed some telling details: the sentence mentioning Phlegon is grammatically and logically out of place."

and so forth. You are desperate to use 'sources' such as these. And your efforts to discredit Philo don't work. Further, the DSS were hidden after the fall of Jerusalem - a generation or two after the supposed Jesus. These manuscripts generally date between 150 BCE and 70 CE.

Metacrock said...

Quote: "We know next to nothing about Thallus or his works. We don't even know if he wrote only one book or several. The only information we have about him, even his name, comes entirely from Christian apologetic sources beginning in the late 2nd century, and that information is plagued with problems."

It's not a valid move to try and cast suspicious on a source just becuase he was Christian. Africanus was a major historian and an authority, so you have to come with more.If you read the materiel I linked to you know we know some things about Thallus. Some of the guys you listed are second century or latter so that's not a valid arguemnt either.

Quote: "How someone could call Thallus "the most celebrated of the pagan chronographers of the imperial period" is incomprehensible. The man and the book are equally shadowy to us."


He's no a major source of evidence either. Celsus is a lot more important. In the fact Apostolic fathers are more important than any of the pagans.

Quote: "... we know for a fact that Phlegon wrote in the 140's AD, and was fond of fantastic stories, so it would not be surprising to find him borrowing this one from Christian literature. But Martin Routh noticed some telling details: the sentence mentioning Phlegon is grammatically and logically out of place."

who said that? what are his credentials? which text?

and so forth. You are desperate to use 'sources' such as these. And your efforts to discredit Philo don't work.

I guess that means you are pretty desperate too. most of the names in your list of argument fro silence were extremely obscure and ot first century and they are people now little about.



Further, the DSS were hidden after the fall of Jerusalem - a generation or two after the supposed Jesus. These manuscripts generally date between 150 BCE and 70 CE.

that's total bull shit. The sites was by different groups at different times.It was even Roman Garrison at one point in second century. Some of the major DSS were hidden way before Jesus' time.

How did the DSS even get into the discussion? I didn't make any claims regarding them.

I find it interesting that you didn't answer any of the major points I made All the improtant stuff that really proves my you avoid like the pleasge. you just attack the week supplemental stuff that isn't a major pillar of the evidence.

the Clesus/Talmud connection proved Jesus existed. That by itself destroys the Jesus myth bull shit. so until you answer that you said nothing.

you also better answer those apologetic fathers.

Josephus. the brother passage is never attacked no one think it's a forgery that proves Jesus existed.

the vast majority of scholars agree that Josephus did talk about Jesus and the TF is just barely tweaked not made up.