Friday, February 22, 2008

Strange things are afoot...

Like most of you, I bounded to my computer first thing Friday morning in the hopes of watching the Preaching Your Funeral ding-dongs deliver their promised pre-death eulogy (and burning in effigy) of Brian Sapient from the Rational Response Squad. I rather suspect from their "press release" declaring him to be one of the world's most wicked atheists that they've maybe seen a couple of videos of him on YouTube or perhaps they encountered him in the list of atheists on Wikipedia. They didn't seem to have a lot of specifics on him that you couldn't get from 5 minutes on the RRS website. Maybe they just saw the Rational Response Squad easily deal with Ray Comfort on Nightline a couple of years ago.

Much to my dismay the video wasn't uploaded to YouTube this morning as promised! In fact, I went to their website only to be redirected to some tripe-filled blog about "apostate churches". (Hey man, is your pastor...biblical?) Could it be that PYF is gone? Their main website is still up, and that blog looks like their handiwork, but PYF is apparently gone. A few of the subdirectories on the preachingyourfuneral.com url are still working, so maybe they're just prettying up their hatred for later. Weird.

If you actually wanted to get your daily dose of redneck Christian hatred you could still look at their KingofTerrors.com website. It's the standard eschatology crap you've seen a million times and it isn't nearly as amusing without the hook of a burning dummy with a celebrity's face taped to it. I promise, you've seen it all before - how to protest not-Christian-enough churches, how gay folks wanna eat your kids, and the keys to a great marriage as presented by a guy with no wedding ring. There's also a handy dandy list of companies that are "homosexual supporters". The Gap? Who would've ever suspected?

Also, if you want to get a rise out of these guys, leave them a YouTube comment about how it's weird to you that an unmarried man devotes so much of his free time to talking about homosexuals. That pushes their buttons real quick. I tried it.

Anyway, I'm not sure what's up here. These fellas haven't made much of an attempt to not be as flamboyantly hateful as possible, so I'm not sure why they would've bothered to take down their crazy funeral site. I'm bothered by these guys primarily because they apparently exist in my neck of the woods - they're apparently based in Henderson, Kentucky.

By the way, even though they don't seem too intent on giving their names out, the nasally preacher from the funeral videos is "pastor" Jeff Butler. I haven't seen him call himself by name on any of his videos or his sites, but he's introduced by that name on the marriage video. I've asked him repeatedly on the comments for his YouTube videos whether or not he actually has any theological training - he has not responded to that, but his utterly unsophisticated arguments against, say, the entire field of biblical textual criticism leave me with the impression that he's making it up as he goes along. I've also found a record of him speaking before the Interim Joint Committee on the Judiciary in Henderson, KY urging the local government to institute the death penalty for drug crimes (because China does it) and to urge the legislature to "stop homosexual activity". I'm not kidding.

Sounds like a real swell guy. Website or not, it doesn't thrill me to have crazies like this in my own backyard.

4 comments:

Garret said...

Hey Skippy, just perusing your older posts and wanted to respond to the Rational Response Squad. I assumed they were going to BE rational, is that wrong? Anyway, apparently it IS wrong because they showed Ray going into his spiel, holding up a painting, and making the point that if there is a painting, there is a painter. Now this is easy, in fact, its a first principal of logic, nobody doubts it- in sylogism it is

1.Complex intricate paintings are made by an intelligence.
2. Here is a complex intricate painting.
therefore
3. This complex intricate painting was made by an intelligence.

No sane person would dispute that a complex, intricate painting that exists has a creator, an intelligence, more specifically a person.
But this is too much for the "Rational Response Squad" on the screen they flash a statement that defies logic, reason and simply floored me, such that I shouted at my computer screen "IDIOTS!" and promptly stopped watching. What was that statement?

"Actually it only proves that there is a painting"

I can't describe the feelings I had at that moment, other than to thank God that they made themselves so transparently wrong that a third grader would see the problem there. They forfeit all right to call themselves rational. There was no reason at that point to watch another minute of them.

Skippy said...

Well, that being said, that's still a pretty weak argument. Sure, paintings have painters (unless they're generated by algorithmic random imaging systems), sculptures have sculptors (unless they're a simulacrum like the Old Man of the Mountain), and constructions have constructors (unless they're artificial-looking natural formations like the Bimini Road), but none of those things are directly analogous to, say, a moose or a sloth. Ray takes things that he knows to be manufactured and then tries to apply a like-equals-like argument to things that are not manufactured.

I'm going to use an imperfect analogy myself here to make a point using Ray's favorite food - the banana. Right now I'm drinking a can of Arizona brand tea, and according to the side of the can it was made in a factory in Lake Success, New York. Now, to call to mind Ray's contention that bananas and soda cans are perfectly analogous evidence of some creator, I can, using Ray's logic, infer that bananas (since they fit in my hand, their outer packaging gives me an idea of the contents, etc.) are likewise manufactured in Lake Success, New York.

...Right...?

Of course not!

That kind of silly reasoning is what happens when you take something with a known origin and try to over-apply your impressions about it to something that is vaguely similar and of a (relatively) unknown origin.

So sure, while it's pretty likely that any given picture you have was created by an artist, my understanding that M.C. Escher drew my desktop wallpaper does not logically translate into an understanding that Yahweh forged my cat on some celestial anvil. That's the argument against Ray that they were trying to make, though admittedly they didn't make it very well.

Coming across as snotty is the price people pay for trying to be pithy when they're not practiced at it.

Garret said...

Thanks Skippy.
I see the point you are making in your analogy, but a problem I see with it.

"to call to mind Ray's contention that bananas and soda cans are perfectly analogous evidence of some creator, I can, using Ray's logic, infer that bananas (since they fit in my hand, their outer packaging gives me an idea of the contents, etc.) are likewise manufactured in Lake Success, New York."

An analogy is where symbols (tokens) replace the concepts (represented by different tokens) in order to clarify said concept in everyday language, with everyday objects. All you have done is literalized the tokens, and pointed out that there are details with the particular tokens used (Arizona bottle and banana) that can cause confusion. It is a great way to show that analogies can be lousy- BUT the real issue is not lousy analogy, but that you are literalizing that which is not meant to be understood literally, only analogously. With analogies, you are only meant to grasp the general framework, and not literalize, otherwise analogies are impossible to make, aren't they? We could pick apart every one, but people would begin to stare at us as though we were a couple of clowns.

I know you understand the point Ray was making, it doesn't sound like it was significant to you at all.

"That kind of silly reasoning is what happens when you take something with a known origin and try to over-apply your impressions about it to something that is vaguely similar and of a (relatively) unknown origin."

It is the only way to create an analogy, to take a concept and present it in a different light in an effort to get a concept across.

"while it's pretty likely that any given picture you have was created by an artist, my understanding that M.C. Escher drew my desktop wallpaper does not logically translate into an understanding that Yahweh forged my cat on some celestial anvil."

You understand the concept-(not that there is a celestial "anvil" but I like the imagery). Now I think you are trying to take the analogy to far. No one could stand in front of a crowd and hold up a painting and say that it alone proves God exists- there are far too many other things to consider- it is simply a way of putting a simple created/created concept out there to place it on the table as it were. He could have come out and talked about Genesis chapter one, but that implants too many biases into the listeners mind- up front start vague with creator.
Think of it this way-
Painting has a painter
man has a creator
or
Painting has a painter
man came from an unguided process over the billions of years.

only one of those is a simple and elegant proposition. This does not prove it to be true, nor should it be meant to.


By the way, the computer generated paintings- the computers were designed by man, and the program is an ideal (non hostile) environment for the creation to occur- a cyberscape created by man.

Peace and love to Skippy-
btw went and met Ray today at the beach- he is an intense man with an iron grip of a handshake- I was kind of sad to note he didn't recognize my name....sigh

Skippy said...

Yeah, but as you saw on the Nightline clip, Ray is essentially trying to hold up a painting and say that it proves that God exists. Ray does not make fantastically complex arguments - he makes soundbyte arguments that sound halfway decent at first glance. The RRS's "it only proves that there's a painting" was a clumsy attempt at being glib in same vein as Ray.

I'm glad however, that you realize that simply wording something into, as you put it, an elegant proposition doesn't make it true. There are plenty of elegant propositions out there that are also purely asinine, such as homeopathy's "like cures like".