Atheist bloggers everywhere might be familiar with silenceofmind (SOM), a Christian apologist serial commenter who appears to believe to know more about what atheists believe (and don’t) than the atheists themselves. SOM uses non sequiturs, kettle logic, arguments from ignorance, red herrings, naturalistic fallacies, etc. etc. ad nauseum. To say that SOM’s comments are endearing, kind, or harmless is to miss the point SOM is trying to convey. Indeed, a fellow blogger, What comes to my mind…, had some pretty scathing words for SOM last month.
There is a professor I know who studies how Internet comments devolve (usually into comparisons to Hitler or some other fallacies of irrelevance). His methodology was interesting and compelled me to take a closer look at Internet comments. If I read an article or a blog, sometimes I’ll spend more time going through the comments section than the article or blog itself. Sometimes I screen shot interesting or idiotic comments for future use. SOM’s comments are no exception.
But what is most interesting about SOM’s comments is SOM’s refusal to learn from his or her mistakes. The following two screen shots were taken some time apart, perhaps months apart (I don’t time stamp these things. I probably should).
In the first image SOM makes many claims about what atheists believe. Apparently all atheists (or even a majority of us) believe in ObamaCare because it’s what the Atheist Good Book says. In the second image, SOM again makes the claim that atheists believe that “everything happened all by itself,” which would be like saying, “Christians believe that Jesus was born on December 25th.” Both arguments are wrong.
But SOM continues to make these claims about atheists even though I and other bloggers have corrected him/her more times than we can count. To keep making the same errors in logic is a symptom of mental disorder. But there is no reason to believe (other than this weak evidence) that SOM suffers from a mental disorder. Perhaps there is a reason SOM keeps making these mistakes. Perhaps SOM wants to make these mistakes.
Proving this claim is a pretty tall order, and I will not attempt to do so. But we’re all familiar with Internet trolls. And I’d be safe to assume that most atheist bloggers are familiar with Poe (a person who pretends to be a religious fundamentalist with the purpose of arousing strong responses). Unfortunately for me, the Urban Dictionary definition (see the link) claims that SOM cannot be Poe unless SOM admits it. Nevertheless, let’s examine some of SOM’s other strange comments.
Here, SOM appears to believe that because many skeptics have a problem with OT god’s violence, atheists believe that stopping Hitler and Imperial Japan was wrong. Ie. If we condemn divine wrath then we must condemn human warfare. First, the two are completely different. One was the destruction of innocent people (including babies) because god got pissed off. The other is the destruction of guilty and innocent people because nationalism was threatening the human population on a global scale. War to stop homicidal maniacs, even when innocent lives are taken, is not akin to wanton genocide because your feelings got hurt.
I don’t even know where to begin with this one. I’ll allow Santi Tafarella to have the final say here.
“Atheist humanists believe that science happened all by itself.” That is probably the most absurd claim I’ve ever heard. It’s one thing (albeit wrong) to say we believe the big bang happened all by itself, but that the actual scientific method just poofed into existence one day is one of the strangest beliefs I can imagine. I have little reason to believe that anyone, even a five-year-old, would make this claim about atheists.
Again with the conspiracy theories. And again lumping non sequiturs into an argument. The post from which I got this screen shot had nothing to do with global warming, ObamaCare, or corrupt governments. Trolls generally use non sequiturs to further engage the audience.
Again SOM can’t learn that atheism makes no claims about how the universe and world were formed. Additionally, SOM appears to believe that you can either be in love (by not saying sorry) or be an atheist. That’s it. Atheists can’t love and lovers can’t be atheists. I find it hard to believe SOM, or anyone, would think this way.
This one came from today. This comment shows an even stranger departure from SOM’s usual style. SOM claims to have proven without a doubt that god exists (using three sentences). But the first sentence (you have to be pretty liberal in your definitions to call it a sentence) is merely a claim that god is provable and gay marriage is bad. It doesn’t tell us anything. The second sentence isn’t even a sentence. I assume SOM means you don’t need religion to prove god exists and gay marriage is bad, but I could be wrong (since it’s not even a sentence!). Finally, SOM says reason alone will prove god and the evils of gay marriage. Again, this doesn’t tell us anything, let alone prove anything. I find it difficult to imagine that SOM really believes that claims count as proof. This is an extreme example of what we’ve seen from the usual apologetics.
Troll. Classic troll.
I have little reason to think much about who SOM is. I don’t know their gender, their country, their ethnic background, or even their religion. But I was wondering, does anyone else ever get the impression that SOM is Poe?