Why You Can’t Argue With God

Over the past week or so, I have taken the (not recommended) path of commenting on other people’s blogs rather than posting my own. Partly because I didn’t really have time and partly because I couldn’t think of a juicy topic to get my teeth into. This was probably a bad idea but I did learn some of the strange ideas that people who post under the ‘atheism’ tag have. I say not recommended because it can be incredibly frustrating dealing with people who have already made up their mind about your opinions without even knowing what they are. It is not so much the lack of understanding of the arguments and evidence but the refusal to accept that opinions other than their own are valid which I find so difficult. However, I was given the fuel for this post so I thought I’d share some of it with you.

The first and possibly most bizarre reaction I got was that if I, or anyone else for that matter, cared enough to comment on a post criticising it, I must think it to be correct and it was my sense of guilt from my sins that were causing me to disagree with Christian teaching rather than any actual lack of belief on my part. I wasn’t really sure how to answer this because really if you start off with that you can’t really go anywhere, anything can just be batted away with the same response. Of course it doesn’t really stand up to any logical argument, one can accuse anyone of secretly agreeing with oneself if one wants but that will never make it true, when I asked why she had posted under the ‘atheism’ tag she (unsurprisingly) didn’t answer. This kind of thinking may work for people who post on conspiracy theories about the moon landings but their suppositions are not taken seriously by anyone who has the power to implement public policy. In short, I don’t comment on conspiracy theorists pages because I don’t care whether they think that or not and their thoughts will not affect me, if one of them got elected to a position of power my view would almost certainly change. Anyway, this doesn’t alter the fact that having a strongly held opinion on a point of view is not equivalent to agreeing with it, although this may be true of some homophobes it is a bit like saying that everyone who campaigns for lower taxes secretly wants to pay more, it really doesn’t hold any water (holy or otherwise).

The next reaction I came up against was an invitation to disprove the existence of god. If you’re reading this (and of course you are), you may have read my previous post ‘There Is No Onus Of Disproof’, where I asserted what is in the title of the piece but there is more to it than that. The burden of proof is put on the believer, not for some arbitrary or ‘standard practise’ reason. That burden has to be put on the believer because it is impossible to prove the non-existence of anything, especially when the believer has chosen to describe the object of his or her belief as being in some way ‘above’ the physical world and therefore impossible to detect using not only current scientific methods but also any possible conceivable or even inconceivable scientific apparatus. We’ve come a long way since the renaissance when we realised that facts about the world needed to be found by real-world experiments and could not be deduced from purely Greek philosopher style rational reasoning, let’s not go back eh?

Now on to one of the ones I love. ‘You must believe in god and his teachings because you’re not in prison for crimes against humanity’. I love it because its one of the oldest ones in the book and is quite easy to counter. That assertion can only work if one of 2 premises is true :

  • Every person who lived before the complete version of the bible was available to them (or was never taught it in their lifetime) had no morality and consequentially they were all serial-killing maniacs or:
  • Morality was injected into the human psyche at the time of creation and has been inherent ever since despite only being written down piecemeal over a couple of thousand years.

The first point is clearly wrong because we wouldn’t have survived as a species if it had been the case, while there have clearly been many examples of them throughout history, serial killing maniacs have to be a small minority or they would be having to kill each other before long and I wouldn’t have thought they’d be too great at procreation, farming or city building. The second point is one that many evolution deniers believe to be factual, yet if it were true, the question wouldn’t need answering. If you believe that god gives you your morality and it is not learnt, how can you question why I have morals? If you believe that it is the belief in god that gives you your morality, we go back to the first point. More on this in ‘The True Origins Of Morality’ and ‘All Morality Is Relative’.

Another argument doing the rounds, although only by the more moderate sections of the believing community (I know that it’s not really a community but the word helps with the description) is the whole ex nihilo thing, that nothing comes from nothing. This could be a topic I write a separate post on later but I think I need to touch on it here. The theory goes that if the universe was created in the ‘Big Bang’, there had to have been a cause, this ’cause’ is god, a bit like Aristotle’s unmoved mover (actually a lot like, it’s a total rip-off). This makes assumptions which are not known to be true. Firstly that there was a ‘before’, time itself was created at the Big Bang so I’m not sure it makes any sense to speak of ‘before’. Secondly that all things have a cause, quantum fluctuations do not, it seems sensible to suspend judgement when we cannot know if all things must have a cause. Thirdly and I believe most importantly, why would any cause have to be conscious? The supernovae whose debris we are made of were not conscious and neither is any other creative or destructive force in the universe that we know of (other than our own), it is not a logical conclusion that any ‘first cause’ would be conscious, aware, omnipotent, just or any of the attributes humans so often attribute to god.

When all else fails, I’m usually told that I’ll find out I was wrong when I spend eternity in hell. Aside from the fact that eternity in hell would be no different from eternity in heaven ( I may explain that later), what those who say that don’t realise is that they have just stated knowledge of god’s intentions for me, showing their vanity while using his name. That’s real blasphemy.

Thanks for reading

Rowan

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3 Responses to Why You Can’t Argue With God

  1. Larry says:

    Great post. I’ve tried talking to a lot of religious people and I don’t advise it…

  2. imbrocata says:

    Reading a good book by Kenneth Daniels which deals with a lot of these same issues as well as the difficulty in getting Theists to examine their own beliefs as critically as they examine everything else – good luck with that=P (the book is: “Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary)

  3. Tafacory says:

    Bloody brilliant. Cheers.

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