Posts Tagged “appeal to popularity”

Rick Warren — about whom I’ve blogged many times, the fundamentalist preacher who built a megachurch in southern California, and created the lucrative “Purpose-Driven” publishing empire — just revealed his complete ignorance of freethought and atheism. According to the Raw Story:

Not believing in a Supreme Being takes more faith than believing in one, according to Pastor Rick Warren. “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist,” Warren told Fox News anchors Steve Doocy and Martha MacCallum Monday.

Warren puts forth arguments against atheism which are so old and tired that he has little rational excuse for trotting them out yet again. I’ll go over them one by one:

“You know, Steve, if I’m walking down a mountain and I see rock out of place and I go ‘that’s an accident.’ If I’m walking down a mountain — on the trail — and I find a Rolex that’s evidence of design,” he explained. “It actually takes more faith not to believe in God than to believe in God.”

This is known as William Paley’s “watchmaker analogy,” a teleological argument, which is fallacious, and for several reasons. One of those failures is that it’s based solely on a subjective determination of what must have been “made.” Subjectivity can never be construed as objective veracity. Another failure is, one can know a watch is only human-made because one can walk into a factory and see them being designed and crafted. When it comes to the Universe, however, it is not possible to watch an “intelligent designer” (or deity) manufacture a new universe. (At least, no one has yet done so … and I don’t expect it ever will happen.) So, Rick, strike one!

While Warren scoffs at atheists, he seemed to respect every other belief system. “The are 600 million Buddhists in the world. There are 800 million Hindus. There are one and a half billion Muslims and there are 2.3 billion Christians. The actual number of secularists in the world is actually quite small outside of Europe and Manhattan,” said Warren.

Warren’s appeal to numbers … i.e. there are billions of “believers” but nowhere near as many non-believers, ergo, believers must be correct … is fallacious. This fallacy goes by many names; formally as argumentum ad populum, and less formally as the appeal to popularity, the bandwagon fallacy, appeal to consensus, democratic fallacy, appeal to the majority, etc. It fails, because reality and veracity are not up for a vote. That many people believe something does not automatically make it true. At one time nearly all human beings thought the Earth was at the center of a universe only a few thousand miles across; we have, however, found this is not so. If one followed Warren’s reasoning, we’d have dismissed Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo as mindless cranks and would still think we were at the center of the universe. So, Rick, strike two!

Bashing on atheists isn’t new for the pastor who has also compared gay marriage to pedophilia.

Warren is wrong here, folks. Gay marriage has nothing to do with pedophilia. It can’t … because marriage (of any kind) is a partnership between adults capable of entering into a contract; while pedophilia is an adult having sex with a minor. The two are completely and totally unrelated — and by definition. So, Rick, strike three — you’re out!

But wait, there’s more!

In April of 2007, Warren told Newsweek that he “never met an atheist who wasn’t angry” and that “far more people have been killed through atheists than through all the religious wars put together.”

While it is true that 20th century massacres and atrocities have killed more people than anything prior, and not all of them were done for religious reasons, keep in mind that these were political regimes, not religious ones.

The medieval Church which orchestrated the Inquisitions, was primarily a religious organization. The wars in the Middle East known collectively as the Crusades, had at least some religious motivation. The invasions of Europe and the Middle East by central Asians, under Genghis Khan and then under Timur the Lame — in their time the single most devastating conflicts in all of history, which were not exceeded until the 20th century — were partly motivated by religion: In Genghis Khan’s case, because his Mongol gods of heaven told him he would be a mighty ruler, and in Timur’s, because he wanted to spread Sunni Islam in places which were, in his day, primarily Shi’ite.

As for people like Hitler, who orchestrated the Holocaust, it hardly seems possible for him to have repressed and then slaughtered so many Jews, if not for centuries of Christian-inspired anti-Semitism. One can, therefore, also chalk up the atrocities of the Third Reich — at least partly — to religion.

Not to mention the fact that, while Warren condemns — and dismisses — atheists as “angry,” I definitely see a lot of sanctimonious anger on the part of lots of religious folk, too. Including himself! So, Rick, not only have you struck out, you whiffed an extra time!

If anyone isn’t clear, by now, what kind of bellicose, sanctimonious, ignorant creep Rick Warren is … well, you now have your evidence. He’s also proven himself a hypocrite by dismissing atheists as “angry” without acknowledging the religious are often just as angry, if not moreso. (Note to Rick: Your own Jesus specifically, clearly, explicitly, and unambiguously ordered you, as his follower, never to be hypocritical. So I’d be careful if I were you.)

Hat tip: iReligion Forum at Delphi Forums.

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