Monday, August 24, 2009

This Is So Stupid

atheism, atheist, christian, ontological, anselm, god,
I'm pissed off somebody got paid to write it. Honestly, I would have written something for the New York Times equally as stupid for half the price. I don't even have to know what the price was.

The Self-Thinking Thought by Nathan Schneider

Seriously, the entire article can be summed up by Mr. Schneider's drawing above. Think of something. Imagine it doesn't exist. Nonexistent things aren't really all that great. So if this thing really is great, it must exist. This is Anselm's Ontological Argument.

That is the stupidest proof of god I have ever heard. Pascal's Wager at least has the element of fear to it. This is just . . . silly. Oh, hey, you think spaghetti is great? Well, now imagine there is no spaghetti- haha, you spaghetti's not so great now, is it!

The thing is, I can totally imagine anything not existing, including spaghetti, god and myself, for that matter. The fact that Anselm apparently can't imagine god not existing is a failure of his imagination, not a proof of god. That, or Anselm presupposed that god is great, and worked backward from there. Either way, stupid. Really, really stupid. Stoooooopid.

Anyway, Anselm's exercise in something that vaguely resembles logic made Mr. Schneider feel better about things. Or something. Then he dumps on atheists.

I let the rapture in his proof take hold of me. For passing moments, lying on my back with the book in my hands, I came to sense the whole enormity of a God wrapped around my little mind, like a lonesome asteroid must feel touching the gentle infinity of space. Then, always, my mind wandered elsewhere and I forgot some movement of the logic. The whole thing dissolved away, along with the sense of certainty. I started to remember the echo of Kant’s devastating complaint against Anselm: existence is not a predicate. God seemed to disappear.

But I read on. I was reminded it wasn’t God’s existence that plagued Anselm — of that, he had no doubt — it was the phrasing. Modern arguments and evangelists and New Atheists have duped us into thinking that the interesting question is whether God exists; no, what mattered for Anselm was how we think about God and about one another.

Sure, for Anselm, you know a freakin' monk living in the eleventh century, the question was not whether or not god exists. It is a question, though. And Anselm's "proof" doesn't answer that question. And dealing with any other question before answering the existence question is like trying to decide the proper way to care for an animal you aren't even sure exists. "Do you think lillies are poisonous to unicorns?"

Seriously. Schneider gets paid for this.


  1. I don't know, I think the author admitted in the article that it was really no proof, just that it didn't matter to him that it wasn't. I think Schneider did write well about a mystical connection with human experience. But I do find it perplexing that he finds satisfaction in a circular argument, it would seem to kill whatever could be experiential.

  2. i couldn't tell, to be honest. at the beginning of the article, he's all like "look- it's proof!" and at the end he's all "language of friendship, not logic".

    fail either way.

  3. The greatest idea for me would be for me to sprout wings and fly. Now, I think it doesn't exist, so it can't be that great. So it must exist. I will sprout my wings today!

    Reductio ad absurdum for the win, again.

  4. Damn it- I asked for spaghetti. Why didn't I think of wings?

  5. It's amazing that people actually take the ontological argument for God's existance seriously. I remember the first time I learned about Anselm's supposed proof -- I thought, that's it? Really?

  6. PF,

    It was either wings or super cool mind powers, both were awesome. Ooer can I change to both?

  7. I was going to just reply "Existence is not a predicate!", but apparently this guy doesn't understand what that means. Or really, it seems, doesn't care.

    What... what is even the point of this? "Here's a proof, oh wait it's nonsensical, well I don't care, I'll believe the conclusion anyway for no reason I care to explain, the important thing is what the proof tells us about the conclusion, which is nothing because the proof is nonsensical (but let's ignore that part)?"

    Also, is this text box behaving weirdly for anyone else? :-/

  8. I think Dragons are pretty much the most awesome thing EVAR. I'm imgaining they don't exist. Wait, but Dragons are fucking awesome! Duh. They must exist.

  9. I wanna cry now. This is officially, and I kid you not, the single stupidest thing I've ever seen or heard. In over a decade on the Web, even traveling amongst Comfort's blog, WorldNutDaily, all that crap. Schneider and his little graphic beat 'em all.

  10. See, for people who already assume their god is the supreme thing of all things...all they can do is make arguments based on ideas they already accept as true. They never actually *prove* those initial ideas *to be true*. Why? Well, because they can't. Anyone can make a logical argument *assuming* the premise is correct. Sigh. It's sad to me how smart they think they are. Pascal's Wager is silly too. All it says is, "Pick the religion that doles out the worst punishments in the afterlife and follow it. That way if you pick wrongly, you're still getting less punishment that you would have." Who makes decisions in life based on escape of punishment? Sorry, I don't live in fear.


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