Friday, May 04, 2007

Arguing against religion

My cousin-in-law (if it's not a real term, it damn well should be), Kyle, made a comment that all you need to win an argument against theists are Ockham's Razor and the Atheist's Wager (I'm not sure I know that one).

The thing is, there's a huge difference between what an atheist "doesn't believe" and what a theist "doesn't believe."

An atheist says "I don't believe in X" and means "I don't believe X exists"

A theist says "I don't believe in X" and means "I believe X exists, but it's a sin/occult/tool of Satan, so I'm against it."

Theists also seem unable to recognize this difference.

Hence the common: "Why do you hate God?" Once this gem pops up, the argument is over. Even though the same language is spoken by both parties, communication is clearly not happening.

I recall reading (I don't remember where) about a woman who thought Carl Sagan was arguing for the existence of an invisible, intangible dragon in his garage (Demon Haunted World). That is the kind of communication disconnect we're dealing with.

Plus, I'm pretty sure that most theists don't understand Ockham's Razor any better than they do the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

I have been told that "God did it" is a simpler explanation than the Theory of Evolution.
Showing that:
a) The person has no idea what Ockham's Razor (and probably the Theory of Evolution) really says.
and
b) The person has no idea how complicated the idea of God (aka the Sky Djinni) is.

Note to Kyle: I put this here, rather than just emailing you, so that I could say "cousin-in-law"

Later,

7 people have spouted off:

JOSHUA S BLACK said...

You have an aptly named blog. Because only a fool cannot see that there is a God.

You believe in gravity--but you've never seen it. Why? Because you see the effects of gravity--you're anchored to the ground!

Now, God's existence can be proven by the same token: The very fact that you can see--that 137 million light-sensitive cells all work together to give you a better view of the world than the best man-made camera, tells you that the Maker of the eye is far superior in all ways, especially power and intelligence, to the maker of the camera. Such superiority is honored with the title "God" by over 6 billion people in this world. What's your problem?

I think I know what it is: the existence of a God means that you are not the end all--you have someone to answer to for every breath that you have taken. Jesus said, "Every idle word that a man shall speak, he will give account for it on the Day of Judgment." Scary thought, isn't it? But it's true. And ignoring uncomfortable facts doesn't make them go away.

Face reality, man. God does exist, and He punishes sin, too. But He is willing to forgive you, if you will simply repent.

John said...
Thank you for proving my point.
5/4/07, 10:35 PM
Qalmlea said...

Oh, great. The argument from design. I'd like to sue for my knee, for celiac disease, and for my near-sightedness. Oh, wait, isn't the designer supposed to be omnipotent? I'll drop my suit for some bodily corrections.

The argument from design requires an incompetent designer. Why do people have lower back pain? Because our backs evolved from animals who did not walk upright (and because people don't learn to straighten their sacrums, but that's another story). If there's a designer, why'd he do such a lousy job, eh? [/rant]

John said...
Creationists either don't see the bsd 'design' or chalk it up to the Fall.

They've had thousands of years to work on their apologetic nonsense.
5/5/07, 5:49 PM
Qalmlea said...

Ah, but the Fall is no solution. Either there's a ridiculously vengeful god (who is still, somehow, absolutely good), or humanity is equally as powerful as god, since human actions undid so much of god's work. A third option is the good ol' Gnostic heresy of an equally powerful evil deity.

So three options:
1. Childish god. (Not worthy of worship.)
2. Humans as powerful as god. (So why worship god?)
3. Opposing deity as powerful as god. (Might be a reason to choose one over the other if one was actually better... might not, too)

Likely comeback: "God works in mysterious ways." Response: "Oh, so you don't have a clue about this either."

John said...
That pretty much sums it up.
5/6/07, 10:07 AM
Kyle Szklenski said...

I would argue that only a deluded person can see that there IS a god. I recommend to all here the Beyond Belief 2006 videos, which I found from richarddawkins.net under the best articles section. They're long, but well worth their time.