Here is a repost of my favorite inviolate laws of internet atheism, with a few new added at the end.. I'm sure I've forgotten many--so if you have any you'd like to add, leave them in the comments.
1. The Law of the Converts: Every atheist who claims to have been a devout Christian was. Every Christian who claims to have been an atheist, wasn't.
2. The Pharyngulyte Corollary to the Law of the Converts: The more the atheist's deconversion was due to encountering someone similar to a Revrun' Mike, a prototypical Baptist minister who wears a white suit, chews tebaccy, routinely preaches on evilution and miscegenation, and instructs young children (under six, when they're impressionable) with explicit images of unimaginable torture in hell (which they must color in Sunday School), the more credible and weighty is the testimony.
3. The Law of the Biblical Knowledge: Atheists in general know more about the bible than Christians—who in fact only read certain parts of their so-called holy book.
4. The Law of the Biblical Scholars: Atheist biblical scholars are credible because they have no agenda. Christian biblical scholars lack credibility because they have an agenda.
5. The Law of the Useful Idiots: Dime-a-dozen atheist Religious Studies professors such as Hector Avalos at Iowa State are useful. Just don't let them know that when we're in charge the first thing on the chopping block will be Religious Studies Departments. 1
6. The Law that Blind Faith is The Ultimate Christian Virtue: Christians are never told to think, only to accept without thinking. Using your brain, they are taught, is not sporting. Those pesky Bereans are never a model for actual Christians. And never mind that those praised for their faith in the Faith Hall of Fame (Hebrews 11) had no need for blind faith since they spoke to God, demanded proof of God, and witnessed miracles. (This is also known as the Tom Gilson is Neither Law.)
7. The Law of Bright Darkness: The worse the behavior of a Christian, the more honest the Christian is. For example, this comment from a reader on Ed Brayton's blog 2:
If you really want to see the most honest adapation [sic] of what the bible and Christianity really stands far if you follow the most literal interpretation of the bible, go to Phelps.
8. The I-Say-Therefore-I-Am Law: Questioning the sincerity of self-identified Christians such as Fred Phelps (or the Big H—-you know, that guy with the funny little mustache) is immediately dismissed as a No True Scotsman Fallacy. The definition of a Christian is: "anyone who claims they are a Christian."
9. Exception to the I-Say-Therefore-I-Am Law: Anyone questioning the atheism of an inconvenient self-proclaimed atheist is granted blanket immunity from the No True Scotsman Fallacy. It's only fair.
10. The Ipso Facto No Atheist Is That Bad Law: Stalin and Mao were not atheists. They were demigods of the religions Stalinism and Maoism. We know this because mass murder on such a scale can only be committed by religionists.
11. The Law of "When Ken Ham is right, he is really right!: YECs like Ken Ham are the dumbest jackasses in the world. Except when they interpret Genesis One. For that single chapter in the bible they are exegetical savants.
12. The Coyne Corollary to the Law of Ken Ham: Ken Ham is also correct in his claim that modern science and Christianity are incompatible.
13. The Law that Logical Proofs regarding God are like Diodes: All logical proofs for God are trivially wrong 3. However, the construction:
P1: God is omnipotent.
P2: God is omnibenevolent.
P3: Human suffering exists.
C1: Therefore P1 and/or P2 is wrong.
C2: Therefore God does not exist.
14. The Law of the Atheist Hermeneutic: The most important verse in the bible is "Judge not, lest ye be judged." This means that Christians cannot judge Fred Phelps (for example) to be apostate. How dare they! As for the verses that follow (don't give what is holy to dogs, pearls before swine,--verses that would seem to presuppose judging) as well as the verses which seem to indicate how they are to judge (by their fruit) —and also those verses that describe excommunication—which again presupposes judging--well for Christians to bring those up is disingenuous.
15. The Ruby Tuesday Law: The second most important passage in the bible is
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."
This means that the only reason Christians don't call for stoning of blasphemers or condone slavery is that they are cafeteria Christians. Arguments that this passage means anything other than "All Levitical Laws are still in effect" are to be dismissed as evasive. Be prepared to dismiss summarily alleged counter-arguments such as:
- Jesus encountered blasphemers and didn't call for their stoning.
- Jesus upgraded the law in the Sermon on the Mount. (To, effectively, not "What Would Jesus Do?" but "What Would Jesus Think?")
- A phase transition occurred on the cross--it wasn't just an interlude after which things returned to normal.
- Jesus violated Levitical rules on the handling of lepers and the Sabbath.
- Jesus claimed he was Lord of the Sabbath and that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
- Peter has a vision telling him to ignore the Levitical food laws.
- The church's first council, recorded in the Book of Acts, voided the sacrosanct law regarding circumcision.
- In the Old Testament animal sacrifices were commanded. In the New Testament their use for the same purpose would be an abomination.
- Consider this passage concerning Jesus:For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, (Eph. 2:14-15).
- Consider this passage about Jesus the new High Priest:For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well. (Hebrews 7:12).
All these are but red herrings. The full force of the Old Testament law—a law intended for a nation that no longer exists—is still in effect, and only honest Christians like Fred Phelps admit it. All others are cowardly hypocrites.
16. The Law of Small Miracles: All theists believe in the mother-of-all-miracles: that the creative force behind the universe is God. Some such theists (e.g., His Vomitousness, The Bishop John Shelby Spong) are
useful tolerable because while they quietly accept this big miracle, they loudly poo-poo what are by comparison itty-bitty miracles, like Jesus walking on water.
17. Irrefutable Proof that Miracles can't happen: Miracles, by definition can't be explained by science. Everything can be explained by science. Therefore miracles can't happen. Because they can't be explained by science. Therefore science and religion are incompatible.
18. The Law of Axiomatic Incompatibility: Science is how we know what we know. Science demands experimental testing. Nothing is exempt from this requirement. Except for The Holy of Holies: The Incompatibility of Science and Religion. It has no observable effect. Nobody has ever designed an experiment that demonstrates the incompatibility. But nevertheless it's true axiomatically. Like A = A.
Here are some newbies--in some cases related to the laws above.
19. The "We Know" axiom: This is a more general case of the Law of Axiomatic Incompatibility. This is a common favorite of internet atheists, as the use of the “we know” axiom is another method that has the advantage of precluding the need for evidence or rational debate. Anything that “we know” is simply—true. You might read, for example, “we know that most of Paul’s letters are forgeries.” (Here is a typical example of this kind of argument.)
20. The Super-duper Paul of Tarsus View: Atheists often attribute the Apostle Paul with powers far beyond what Christians grant. To wit: it is often suggested that he a) did not exist. And yet in spite of not actually being real he managed to b) usurp Christianity, creating an entirely new religion quite different from that taught by Jesus—who by the way probably did not exist either. And c) Paul managed, while not existing, to steal Christianity —through the use of forged letters. Remarkable! In a nutshell the "super Paul" view is that two people who never existed created two distinct religions (fraudulently). Then later fools, who believed in both of these non-entities, merged their contradictory teachings into a franken-religion.
21. Atheist Biblical Inerrancy: Internet atheists have a form of biblical inerrancy which goes like this: The King James Version of the bible mentions unicorns. Therefore, ipso facto, quid pro quo, quod erat demonstrandum, the biblical writers believed in mythical one-horned horses— guess they missed Noah’s boarding call, ha ha!! Any attempt to go back to the biblical Hebrew to investigate the word, or to suggest that the KJV translators might have used unicorn as something different that the modern picture of myth is, of course, heresy.
22. The Universe is Atheio-centric: This is the myth that Christians obsess over atheists, think about them all the time, are afraid of them, hate them, irrationally . The truth of course is that we rarely think of them, are not afraid of them, don’t hate them, and wish only that if they criticize us they do it intelligently or at least with humor. Dear Dawkins, the look we give you when you say “if god invented everything, then who invented god?” or “religion ruins everything” is not one of fear or hate or anger or puzzlement, it is a look of boredom. And no, we don’t obsess over you. When I hear atheists mentioned in church it is usually along the lines of Christians need to behave better; our behavior should distinguish us from the atheist, but it doesn’t. And really—try to remember that you are not as famous as you think—the real world is not the internet. My church is made up of educated people—lawyers and NASA engineers, teachers and shipbuilders. I suspect I am the only person in the church who has heard of PZ Myers, even though he is “so famous” that Sam Harris (now of him we have heard, and also Dawkins, but who is this Myers? Who is this Coyne?) correctly dubbed him the “shepherd of internet trolls” and the purveyor of a “odious blog.” That demonstrates a certain internet notoriety—but in the real world it translates to a big fat zero. We wouldn't be afraid of you even if we knew you--which we don't.
23. Up to 30,000 and counting: This is a composite myth that is usually stated something like: There are 30,000 Christian sects each one claiming to know the absolute truth. (Here is a typical example.) First of all there are not 30,000, but more like 800. The 30,000 comes in part from things like counting independent Baptist churches as separate sects, even though their theology is indistinguishable. Secondly, very few of these sects, only a few on the lunatic fringe, claim to be inerrant. Hell, most people do not agree with everything jot and tittle in their own church’s doctrine statement, let alone claim their church has sole ownership of the “absolute truth.” Of course atheists have their own stratification (where the mouth-breathers are "dictionary atheists" and those who can offer a spirited defense of their atheism are True Atheists™. And they even a brand new denomination, Atheism-Plus, with its own iconography and wiki. But that's different. We know.
24. Jack Chick Developed Our Curriculum Myth: This is the certain knowledge among many internet atheists that we get our kindergarten Sunday School materials from Jack Chick. That we send four-year-olds off to class and they return with nicely colored pictures (stay in the lines, Billy-Bob, like your sister/cousin/aunt Billie-Bob did!) of sinners in hell screaming in agony—dancing in flames while being skewered by ferocious demons. In the top center, lording over the entire scene, Satan is laughing, and saying: “it all started when they were bad children who sassed their mammas!” We keep the Crayola factory running day and night with our insatiable demand for red, orange and yellow crayons.
25. Back in the Closet Rule: One of the verses at the fingertips of every internet atheist is Matt. 6:6: But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Oh noes, where dat come from?) The atheist apologist will plunk this gotcha verse down knowing we never read it (see #3. The Law of the Biblical Knowledge.) It will be applied to any instance of public prayer in this manner: Stupid christoidjits don't even read their own babble! No nuance is permitted. It cannot be, as the context suggests to some, that this is a reference to personal petitions and confession, not corporate prayer. And of course the fact Jesus himself prays in public (e.g., Matt 19:13, Luke 3:31, esp. John 17) as do the apostles on numerous occasions (Paul, alone, more than 20 times) must never be interpreted that maybe, just maybe Matt. 6:6 is not a blanket prohibition of all praying in public. For Dawkins's sake, may it never be! No, these counter-examples are only allowed to be applied to the theory that babble is full of inconsistencies.
1 In a broken-clock sort of way, on this I am in agreement.
2 To be sure, I would bet the farm that Ed would call this guy an idiot.
3 See footnote 1.