Phil Robertson uses a straw man argument to make a stupid point.

strawmancardPhil Robertson, for those of you who don’t watch Duck Dynasty, is one of the darlings of the Religious Right for his very conservatives views on everything from gays to atheists. You might of heard about him back when he got kicked off his own show for some bigoted comments about homosexuals he made in an interview with GQ magazine only for A&E to turn around and reinstate him before the show resumed filming. It had everyone on the Right in an uproar and A&E decided the show’s ratings were more important than having principles.

Anyway, he’s still giving interviews where he says awesomely stupid things. His most recent was on Friday over at “Trunews”, a Conservative Christian website run by Rick Wiles. While discussing healthcare insurance Robertson veers off into a tale of an atheist whose daughters are raped in front of him, his wife is decapitated, and his dick is cut off to make a point about right and wrong:

“I’ll make a bet with you,” Robertson said. “Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude?’”

Robertson kept going: “Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if this [sic] was something wrong with this? But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun. We’re sick in the head, have a nice day.’”

“If it happened to them,” Robertson continued, “they probably would say, ‘something about this just ain’t right.”

via Phil Robertson Hypothesizes About Atheist Family Getting Raped And Killed | Right Wing Watch.

The problem with this — other than it’s somewhat disturbing the sort of things Robertson fantasizes about — is it’s a straw man depiction of what atheists think. About the only thing Robertson gets right is the fact that atheists don’t think there’s a God or Gods that’ll judge the killers for their actions. To suggest that that means we don’t think there’s such a thing as right and wrong is simply not true. I’ve yet to meet an atheist who has espoused the sincerely held belief that there is no right or wrong.

It’s not difficult to come up with a moral system that doesn’t rely on edicts from God(s) to establish right and wrong. There are several different systems of Secular Morality already. Ranging from Secular Humanism to Freethinking to Consequentialism. Personally, I tend to fall in the Freethinking category, but there are aspects of Secular Humanism I adhere to as well.

On top of that, the morality depicted in the Bible is not only questionable at best, but God himself has a hard time adhering to it. At various times he’s commanded his followers to break any number of the Ten Commandments he supposedly considered so important he wrote them down for us. Apparently it’s OK to break the rules when God commands you to. In fact, if the fictional killers in Robertson’s twisted tale were acting under the orders of God I’m willing to bet that Robertson, had he some reason to believe that were indeed the case, would consider them perfectly justified in following through on them. It wouldn’t be the first time God had ordered his followers to wipe out people He considered bad (see the tale of Vengeance on the Midianites in Numbers 31: 1-47 for a great example).

religionhorriblepersonPeople like Robertson who believe that without God to tell them right from wrong there’s no reason for them not to go around killing and raping worry me. One would hope that there’s more than just a book of fairy tales keeping these people from being monsters. Considering the truly heinous things a large number of Christians are capable of in spite of their belief that God has defined an objective morality and the threat of eternity in Hell, it would be a nightmare if they could be convinced that those things don’t exist.

Every so often on Facebook I’ll see an image macro come up that says: “I am a Christian. You can ridicule me. You can torture me. You can kill me. But you cannot change my mind.” All I can think when I see it is: Given what some of you think is OK if God doesn’t exist, it’s probably for the best you’re so closed minded.

8 thoughts on “Phil Robertson uses a straw man argument to make a stupid point.

  1. This isn’t just a badly-conceived parable to illustrate a point about morals or having a strong belief in a “moral” hierarchy, There are literally millions of other subject matter to use as an example that doesn’t involve graphic sexual violence.

    No, this is a case where a window of this man’s psyche opened up and displayed what has really been swirling around just underneath the surface.

    Maybe this man really does need a “Gawd” to keep him from acting out on some of the hellacious chunks of depravity that occupy the corners of this man’s mind. But what happens when he gets that faith shaken up a bit? Do the bodies start stacking up?

    Are there already bodies?

    The man is on a mission from gawd. He talks to gawd. He believes that gawd talks back to him. Given the glimpses of what is just below the surface in this man’s thinking, is it too far of a stretch not to think that this man might hear his gawd tell him to rape and kill the homos and the atheists in the name of his gawd?

    Notice that in his parable, the two guys doing all of the raping, mutilation, and killing are there to teach the atheist man a lesson. If you study it closely, these aren’t two atheist guys, these are believers who are showing the atheist why he needs to have gawd in his life.

    Is Phil Robertson one of these two guys?

  2. Mr. Robinson might not be the best example of “xian”, he’s demonstrated quite the devotion to Mammon. And living in an amoral and immoral manner has impacts in this life on us and those around us, no God needed.

  3. Tim H., I would agree with you that Robertson is probably not the best example of a Christian, but there are a lot of people out there who apparently think he’s a great example of a Christian. He keeps getting invited to speak to large crowds of Christians and is praised for the things he says. So whose word should I take on the matter?

  4. Les, I would have to agree with you and add the following —

    Yesterday, I posted the comment I made above on my FaceCrack page, and ended up losing three of my FaceCrack “friends” who thought I was attacking a “Christian”.

    I do not and never would consider Phil Robertson a “Christian”, and no matter how much I tried to explain that, at the end of the argument, they left still believing that I was attacking a “Christian”.

    It isn’t as if I am going to miss them or anything, it’s just that a lot of these people will circle the wagons around anyone who calls themselves “Christian” if they think someone is attacking them.

    But they are usually the first ones to talk bad about Muslims or Atheists, or anyone else who isn’t in the Christian club.

  5. Let’s see, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”
    Hmmm – nothing in there about Christians, or Church Members, just, “neighbor.”
    Which translation of the Babble are they using????

    🙂

  6. Les, take your own word, you know it best. Remember that Sturgeon’s law applies well in any human endeavor. Don’t forget they’re not all that way.

  7. The God of judgment is a superstition, no different from the ancient belief that someone struck by lightning is being punished for offending the gods. These are archaic ideas older than the Bible, long ago debunked by critical thinking. Such notions do not qualify as “objective morality.” If your God is not objectively provable, and if religious people are constantly fighting about what is or isn’t moral, then religious morality is just as whimsical as anything that secularists might come up with.

    I don’t believe in right and wrong if it means what Robertson intends, i.e. static laws that come from on high that are clearly defined, with no shades of gray and no human subjectivity. Secular morality, and the realization that I can’t do everything that I may want to do because of various internal and external pressures (guilt, empathy, cops) is lacking in such pretenses, but that is not a hindrance to living an accountable life. It is the religionist who is not accountable, because his faith provides him with plenty of outs (born again, once saved always saved, confession, deathbed repentance, etc.)

  8. Yep, Les, the usual. Gosh, you haven’t raped anyone, and neither have I. I guess we’re not “real” atheists.

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