Darling, just don’t put down your guns yet… It’s game on with the Barefoot Bum

The Barefoot Bum left a comment whining that I’d done him some injustice by quoting his post and criticising it.  It’s true: I am a terrible person for quoting his arguments.  It was unfair to use his own words to illustrate his argument.  We atheists can’t stand up to that kind of scrutiny.

A better defence of his ‘argument’ was found back at his blog.

The stupidity starts with the title: “If there really was [sic] a God here, He would have raised a hand by now… the infantilism of atheist moaning.”

Commentary and criticism, even if it’s mistaken, is not “infantile”.

But commentary and criticism is infantile if it’s from and adult and displays ‘markedly childish […] psychological characteristics’ — as the original Barefoot Bum post did.  I guess the defence available to The Barefoot Bum is that he isn’t an adult…

Now, this post could get a bit tit-for-tat, and the Barefoot Bum’s commentary does lend itself towards the infantile (‘One wonders if OTSF successfully completed elementary school, where students typically learn how to read and comprehend simple declarative sentences in the English language.’), but let’s see if we can’t find some high level, thematic discussion of my criticism.


What we do find — amongst the whining and sniveling — is an interesting idea about two-thirds of the way down.

The fundamental principle of atheism is the rejection of ethical and epistemic authority: even if there were some form of objective values, meaning or purpose, they must be knowable to each and every person capable of rational thought. [Source: The Barefoot Bum, ‘How Not to Argue’]

This is groundbreaking stuff.  Since when do we link ‘knowability’ with ‘existence’?

Imagine that there exists an object which is causally inert.  It would be weird to say that the object doesn’t exist by virtue of our being unable to know of its existence.  Indeed, that would be ignoring reality as it is and ignoring that ‘our preferences […] and wishes have no effect on reality except through our actions’.  This isn’t a revolution in thought, by the way.  Positivism has been dead in the water for decades.

But maybe I’m being unfair.  Maybe the Barefoot Bum isn’t saying that it’s a general rule that everything which exists is knowable.  Maybe he’s just special pleading the case of values, meaning, and purpose.  Everything else is mind-independent; values, meaning, and purpose aren’t.  Why do we know that this is the case?  Oh…  Wait.  Don’t ask that question.  It will upset The Barefoot Bum.

Again, I have been unkind and spoken at great length where I could have been more brief:

“bald naturalism” (as opposed to what, hairy naturalism?) [ibid]

Lesson for Only the Sangfroid: the atheist bloggers aren’t that smart.