This came from an unusual source, a friend laughing so hard I just ‘had’ to see what was so funny. The scary thing was that this wasn’t a office joke mail or a lol-cat, but an actual article. An apparently serious article too.
Okay, not that apparent once you start reading it. I got one paragraph in and I got the grins too.
Here’s the link http://www.ncregister.com/reasoning-with-atheists.html and even if you’re as sleep deprived as I am at the moment, the funny should leap out at you.
“I want to talk rationally with atheists but starting the conversation by suggesting that the discard the rational foundations of their thinking.”
Okay, that’s funny.
JENNIFER FULWILER says you can’t reason with atheists… and she is right; theism has NO rational tools which might be applied effectively. Rational thought is what causes people to leave behind their divine security blanket, you can’t use it to get them to do a 180 and come right back. In fact one of the most effective atheist ‘eye opening’ techniques is to get people to read their bible, look at the horrors it encourages, look at the contradictions, and look at how stone age morals and xenophobic writings apply to the modern world.
Faith is an emotional crutch, not an intellectual construct. Churches exist because of the sense of belonging, the spirit of community (on the positive side) and the feelings of guilt and need for a ‘force’ that forgives us our darkest urges and provides external constraints (on the negative side). Let’s face it, there comes a time when we all just want to stop worrying and have someone to tell us what to do, so much better when that someone has the authority of a thousand year old book behind them. Better still when you can shop around to find an interpretation that is telling us to do what we want to do anyway.
The scariest thing about being an atheist, other than having to face death as a end to everything we are, is that of the independence. You hurt someone, you have only yourself to blame. There is no bearded man in the sky telling us what to do, not force of evil usurping our will. We have to think out our every action and decide for ourselves whether it is right or wrong. More often than not this comes down to “would I want this to be done to me”. It’s actually a lot more difficult… who’d have thought that morality wasn’t black and white?
Back to Jen’s approach. (wonder if she minds being called Jen?)
Okay Atheist person, let’s sit down and for a moment assume that there is a God. Now from this starting point I want to convince you that religion X is rational. Hmmmmm… am I the only one that sees a problem with this? You’ve asked someone to accept something without evidence, that has no supporting proof, thus discarding any critical evaluation and rational understanding, and now you’re asking them to apply those rational processes to your case points.
I’m sorry but once I’ve put aside rational argument, scepticism and logic, then any case becomes presentable.
- The moon is made of cheese? Yes, certainly, cut me a slice.
- There a dolphins living in the bottom of my underwear draw? Let me open the draw a pinch to make sure they get some light.
- There is a God? Sure, why not let his mother be a virgin and his life-story be a carbon copy of the terrible pagan god that came before but was only a myth.
As an added bonus Jen quotes a bit from G.K. Chesterton that I’ve always considered completely insane.
“Poets do not go mad; but chess-players do…. Mathematicians go mad, and cashiers; but creative artists very seldom”
Really? No mad poets? Could it simply be that we expect madness from the creative and tolerate it as eccentricity? That when the linear and logical mind breaks down that madness is self-evident, but when the artist does the same we simply shrug and say, “he’s in his blue period” or “yeah, but he’s ‘creative’”.
“To accept everything is an exercise, to understand everything a strain. The poet only desires exaltation and expansion, a world to stretch himself in. The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”
The poet guesses, the theologian assumes. Worst still, neither can be proven wrong because their path places no value on truth, only on belief. The scientist studies, and wants to know. There is always another wonder, an undiscovered secret, no scientist is willing to pretend they know everything; such delusional self-assurance is the domain of the priest or fanatic.
Okay there is some good writing here, and I enjoyed the premise. Silly as it is.
Yet you can’t be taken seriously when the foundations of your argument might as well be fashioned of tapioca pudding. Oh and apparently PZ Myers is waiting for a follow up article about converting atheists using drugs and rapid cranial application of a Jesus approved conversion device (aka a hammer ).