Chapter 1: syetenb
WARNING: What follows is the very essence of TL;DR. You may actually be slightly less intelligent after reading all of it. No one should do so. There is one confirmed case of a poor American girl who read this whole page, and now all she can read is Dan Brown books. In an Australian accent. Don't be like Becky. Do not read this page.
There follows an exact transcript, without any editing, of an email I sent to syetenb in 2007, master of a website which proves god exists. I'm posting this now because of a long debate Sye had with Matt Dillahunty last week which makes total mincemeat of everything Sye stands for.
The only alterations are as follows: numbers inserted by me refer to the notes at the bottom; some formatting HTML so the words don't all run together, mainly the addition of line breaks; and the italicisation of all syetenb's remarks, to make it easier to tell apart our respective contributions. This email was the last email that was sent in our exchange. During this exchange it was made clear that we gave permission for our words to be reproduced, so I'm not doing something behind his back. I was given to understand that he put my stuff on some Christian website for others to discuss, but I have no evidence of this.
Is it universally true that 1 + 1 = 10 in the binary system, or is it arbitrary? Is it universally true that if you add 2 OBJECTS to 2 OBJECTS, you get 4 OBJECTS, or is it arbitrary?Well now you're just playing around with words. I managed to prove your theory incorrect*1, and you're grasping at straws. Just accept that you made a mistake and move on.
How do you account for universal truth, and the universal, abstract, invariant laws of logic according to your worldview? You see, each of these are only steps to the proof on my site, yet each demonstrates the inconsistency of your position.I don't agree with that at all.
Well, it would show the absurdity of your position, but no, I want you tell me if you believe that only things which can be demonstrated to be true are valid beliefs. (as the question states).You're asking if the only things which can be demonstrated to be true are valid beliefs. Well, if you regard valid beliefs as necessarily true, thenyes.*2
Alright, what is the evidence that your ability to reason is valid?I went through this before with you, on the site.*3 The ability to reason we have is the only one we have to work with. If you show me some other system with which to compare it, maybe I could see what you're trying to get at.
You are the one who said that the steps to my proof had other options, this is the FOURTH time I am asking you to provide them, since you won't, it is glaringly obvious that you can't. By the way, I can easily point to options you have missed. For instance, you neglected to include in your first step "I believe that God created everything out of nothing."*4No, that option is covered with "I believe that things can be created out of nothing." Are you coming to realise the answer to your own question yet?
Your argument is that the steps to my proof have other options, yet you provide exactly zero.*5No, I think we're getting around to it. If I just told you the answer you're looking for, you wouldn't understand. You have to be brought to see it for yourself. You're getting there though. As you can see above.
I don't blame you one bit for not wanting others to see your arguments.*6 I would be more than happy to have these e-mails posted, but I understand why you do not. Quite simply I have asked questions that you cannot answer according to your worldview. Let me summarize:I really don't care where you post these emails. You have my permission to do so.
1. Is it universally true that 1 + 1 = 10 in the binary system, or is it arbitrary?The adoption of a binary system in the first place is arbitrary.*7 Try to focus - stay on track.
2. Is it universally true that if you add 2 OBJECTS to 2 OBJECTS, you get 4 OBJECTS, or is it arbitrary?Hmm. I can think of cases where that would not be true.*8 So I guess it's arbitrary.
3. Do you believe that only things which can be demonstrated to be true are valid beliefs.I don't accept that what you're asking is a valid question.*9
4. How do you account for universal truth, and the universal, abstract, invariant laws of logic according to your worldview?I don't. Things are what they are.*10
5. What is the evidence that your ability to reason is valid?That's not a valid question.*11
6. What are the other options to the steps to my proof, which you claim exist?I'm bringing you around to them with each email. You're doing very well. Don't panic.*12
You can continue to play the dodge and weave game and avoid my questions, but I will not tolerate your attempts to do so much longer.Tolerate?*13 You emailed me, Sye. I don't care about converting you to atheism. I don't care if you never believe what I believe. I have no intention of trying to convince you that I am right. I think most atheists are like that. They really don't care. It only becomes a problem when a religious belief causes governments to disobey their own laws, or when government funds are used to pay for religious agendae, etc. I don't believe in god, any kind of god. I think the world we have is the one we've got, and we should probably worry about this one instead of worrying about what's going to happen after we die.
But you know, you believe that Jesus can remove the stain of sin from your soul, or whatever, and well done you for that. Hope that whole thing works out.
Thing is, people who do not collect stamps,*14 do not make list of myths regarding the religion of non-stamp collecting!That's because people who do not collect stamps are not subject to the same level of ignorance and stupidity as atheists are.
Nice try though.
*1In trying to provide an example of something that was universally true, syetenb made the fatal mistake of using 2 + 2 = 4 as an example. 2 + 2 = 4 only makes sense if you accept a decimal system, which people have done seemingly for no other reason than we have ten fingers.
*2Here, I demonstrate how syetenb was begging the question, despite the way this question was phrased. If you express X in terms of X, you're really not moving anywhere. If you read what he's asking carefully, you'll see what I mean. It's one of the first things you learn in philosophy 101.
*3This refers to an earlier, protracted posting session onon an Irish message board (now defunct) which turned quite nasty pretty early on. He, and his partner in Christ, A*4*J were making all sorts of strange claims and becoming irritated when their arguments were disproven. Eventually A*4*J stopped posting, and syetenb was banned from the site for trolling. Unfortunately, there are no penalties for trolling in real life.
*4I don't know where he got this one from. I state quite clearly in my proof that the option for creating yourself is included. Maybe he doesn't know what ex nihilo means.
*5I didn't tell him that he neglected to include an option for some things being completely true some of the time. I honestly didn't think he would understand. My hope was that I could get him to see it himself. A quick check of his site reveals that he has not yet taken account of such an obvious omission.
*6Like note 4, I have no idea where he got this. I never told him I didn't want anyone to see what I wrote. My response confirmed that position as clearly as I could.
*7Well, it is. He was searching for some absolute truth, and as I found counter-examples, he kept moving the goalposts. It's a big field, but eventually he would run out of places to move them.
*8For instance, holes. Or raindrops.
*9This question he was asking is utterly nonsensical. It's the equivalent of asking if you think reason is reasonable, or if whiteness is white. It looks like a real question but it's completely meaningless. From our exchanges on the message board, I think syetenb honestly believes that if you ask someone a question that has no answer and they don't answer it, you've achieved some sort of debating victory.
*10I am indebted to Ludwig Wittgenstein for this elegant and often stunning rebuttal of some of the more insane theories of reality or knowledge.
*11Again, he's asking me how I know reason is reasonable. Which is like asking how I know a triangle has three sides. It's a triangle because it has three sides. Argh! Even several months later, in these footnotes, I'm getting frustrated that people this retarded are allowed to live.
*12Sadly, this was the last email in the exchange. As I noted above, he has not changed his site to adjust for reality. Even Alan Greenspan has now acknowledged that his model of reality had a fundamental flaw.
*13I was becoming more frustrated, as you can see, with the advanced retardation with which I was being regularly presented, masquerading as debate. This was one email, folks. One out of fuck knows how many. And I read them all. His use of the word "tolerate" seemed especially patronising, and frankly mysterious, as he emailed me first.
*14This was a reference to an analogy I made about those who regard atheism as "just another religion". I made the point that atheism could only be another religion in the same sense that not collecting stamps was a hobby. He almost made a valid point here, but fell at the last fence of logic.
Apparently this guy is a professional troll. On a whim, I put his name into Google, and discovered this same guy trolling: James Randi's forums, where he had his ass handed to him; Free Thought Forums; and even some Christian Forums! In every one, he presents the same broken arguments. Every time, several people try to explain where he's going wrong, and every time he either refuses to accept their arguments or just ignores them. Other people who have noticed the passage of this troll through their field of influence include this guy and this guy. I'm starting to think that he has some psychological problem, given that he seems to be annoying every single person he comes across online. Furthermore, his condescending attitude seems to be in direct opposition to the amount of posters who regularly prove him incorrect. Does he really believe that he's right and everyone else is wrong? Very possibly. If so, then he should be pitied rather than disdained, and maybe Christianity is the best place for him.
I'll let Stephen Law, editor of the Royal Institute of Philosophy and senior lecturer in Philosophy at Heythrop College, University of London, have the final word: bullshit.