Wednesday, July 13, 2005

A Theist's 13 Biggest Flawed Understanding of Atheism -- Part 2

This is a continuation from the previous post. Similarly, quotes from the author are enclosed on blockquotes. My response are in the normal format. I will address the remaining alleged flaws in the next post.

7. "Theists should believe in the Invisible Pink Unicorn."
This is in reference to something called the Invisible Pink Unicorn Argument, an amusing little ditty that atheists enjoy bringing up from time to time. The argument says that, since theists have no evidence that God exists, then they can't discount the existence of other "fictitious" Gods, such as—you guessed it—the Invisible Pink Unicorn. On closer examination, this argument actually goes against atheists.
We'll see.

As I mentioned above, theists accept the testimony of others as valid evidence for the existence of God. Literally millions of people believe in God, pray to Him, worship Him, and claim that He has cured their illnesses and changed their lives.
The testimonies of the Moslems are valid evidence of the existence of Allah. The testimonies of the Hindus are valid evidence of the existence of Krishna. The testimonies of the Zoroasters are valid evidence of the existence of Ahura Mazda. The testimonies of the [insert religious adherents here] are valid evidence of the existence of [insert adherentsGod/s here]. Therefore multiple Gods exist. Feel stupid yet?

This can't be said of the Invisible Pink Unicorn, so theists don't believe in it. On the other hand, since atheists reject testimonial evidence, it is they—and not theists—who can't distinguish between the Unicorn and God.
Oh yes it can. Both of these divine beings have no objective evidence.

8. "Religion is the major cause of war."
This is historically incorrect. When it comes to the causes of war, religion comes after politics, economics, territory, natural resources and greed. World leaders who want war have often tried to rally support from their people by tying the effort to their religious beliefs, but that has nothing to do with the real reasons for their wanting to go to war.
I agree to an extent. A religion which does not teach war and violence at its core should not be blame for the sins of its abusive and manipulative followers. But numerous wars, violence, and atrocities, all done under God's decree, are rampant in the Bible. Something someone can use to biblically justify wars. So one cannot claim absolutely that the Bible does not endorse war so long as they have "God's approval".

9. "The crusades and the inquisition show that Christianity is evil."
In any organization, there is the potential for corruption. Those events took place at a time when the Bible was kept under lock and key within the walls of the church. The public was not allowed to read it and had to depend on their priests to do all Biblical interpretations. This was a system that bred corruption. Dishonest priests would pander to dishonest rulers, and the result was sometimes anything but religious. I agree with historians who say that, had the Bible been available to the public, those events would've never been allowed to happen.
Who are these "historians"? The history speaks of a differemt scenario than the author hoped for. Even after the Bible was released to the public, violence abounded. A look at history will reveal that there are several cases of Catholics killing Protestants and Protestants killing Catholics. Protestants, who are known to be "true Bible-believers" have started several attacks against the Catholics. See more historical evidence of Protestants killing Roman Catholics.

Wars subsided not because of the Bible. It quenched because we have finally learned from history and experience that killing each other due to religion is petty, senseless, and does not yield a more civilized, safe, and peaceful world community.

10. "The majority of prisoners/criminals are theists."
This is a bogus argument for two reasons:

(1) Since 90% of the population is theistic, it's not statistically surprising that the majority of people in any given institution would be theists.
So? This does not negate the truth of the above statement. It only affirms it. Secondly, what statistics did the author based her claim that "90% of the population is theistic"?

(2) The relevant surveys, taken within prison walls, are unreliable since prisoners are known to give answers that they feel will put them in the best light in the eyes of prison officials in particular and the public in general. They know it's not going to help their chances for parole if they claim to reject God, so they say they are theists.
Interesting point. The author does not realize that this actually shakens her assertion that 90% of the population are theists. This phenomenon of "pretending to believe in God" can exists outside of the prison system as well. Of the alleged 90% of the world's so-called theists, how many really believe in God? It could be the case that many of these "theist" may just be professing belief in a deity because they feel that a belief in God will put them in the best light in the eyes of those people that they have immediate contact and relationships with, and the public in general. They know it's not going to help their chances of gaining social benefits and advantage and avoiding discrimination and ostracization, if they claim to reject God, so they say they are theists.

11. "Christians have a higher divorce rate than do atheists."
Atheists who use this argument think that it illustrates how hypocritical Christians are.

But in reality, it shows just the opposite.
You will notice here and below that she did not actually make any attempt to refute the issue of Christians having a higher divorce rate than atheists. Well, for one, because statistics actually affirms this statement.

Atheists believe that morality is relative, that is, there is no absolute "good" or "bad" behavior. Atheists therefore get to make up their own morals to fit whatever lifestyle they desire.
What the author did is to paint all atheist with a broad brush by accusing them of being moral relativists. Furthermore, many atheists hold that there are indeed objective basis for morality. I, on the other hand, believe that morality has both objective basis and subjective elements. The author failed to realize that atheists are diverse. Lastly, she also failed to understand that morality and ethics has nothing to do with atheism.

Another thing. The author acts as if Christianity is consistent on their claim of moral absolutes. Just look at Old Testament laws supposedly no longer relevant in the New Testament. Also, slavery was not regarded as immoral several decades ago but now, it's a different story.

I quote Dan Barker:

"Devout, bible-believing Christians cannot agree on what the scriptures say about many crucial moral issues. Believers regularly take opposing positions on such matters as capital punishment, abortion, pacifism, birth control, physician-assisted suicide, animal rights, the environment, the separation of church and state, gay rights, and women's rights. It might be concluded from this that there is either a multiplicity of gods handing out conflicting moral advice, or a single god who is hopelessly confused."

For example, if an atheistic husband finds out his wife has been cheating on him, he has the option of deciding that cheating is okay. The two of them might even decide to have an "open marriage," in which both parties can freely enjoy extramarital affairs. With a morality that can be changed to suit any set of circumstances, atheists have fewer reasons to seek a divorce.
Now she resorts to demonizing the atheists.

Does she have any evidence that the reason why atheist couples rarely get a divorce is due to the reason claimed above? Her blanket assertions are baseless.

If she thinks atheists are a bunch of promiscous sex practioners, then she needs to get a ticket to reality.

Christians, on the other hand, receive their morality from God via the Bible. Those morals can't be augmented to suit the whims of the moment. Infidelity and other such offenses are taken very seriously. After doing what he can to save a marriage, sometimes a Christian literally has to choose between following God or sticking with a spouse who wants to pursue an ungodly lifestyle. Sometimes divorce is the only answer.
Outlandish. Can the author substantiate that the primary reason why Christian couples divorce is due to the reason claimed above? She will be in for a disappointment.

So, it is because of high Christian values—and not hypocrisy—that the divorce rate is higher among Christians, while atheists have fewer divorces because of their changeable standards of morality.
Mere naked assertions. No evidence to back it up.

12. "Atheists do good deeds because it's the right thing to do,while Christians do them because they want to get to heaven."

Both sides of this statement are wrong. Atheists believe in the evolutionary theory that everything a person does can be linked to either the drive to survive or the drive to reproduce. And they do mean everything. They believe that a child loves his mother because the mother is needed for survival; a man loves a woman because she can help him reproduce; people do good deeds because it keeps them from being killed by those who might otherwise dislike them; etc. Christians, on the other hand, do good deeds through the compassion that is taught in the Bible. Going to heaven is simply the icing on the cake.
Another blanket assertion and another attempt to marry atheism with morality. Here's a thought: Say, God removes the heavenly reward and punishment, will you go around murdering people, raping women, robbing banks etc.? If not then your morality is no different than that of the atheist.

Love and Compassion are potentials for every human being. We have the ability to emphathize hence we tend to be compassionate. Second, we see pragmatic effects when we do good. Doing good enhances the quality of our life and doing bad diminishes it. Third, we feel good by doing good acts, especially towards other people. Virtue is ITS own reward. Atheists and theists alike, these are the primary reasons why we do good. But I'll say a Christian's morality is still inferior since the concept of eternal reward and punishment actually cheapens human virtues. Whether Christians admit it or not, eternal reward in heaven and avoidance of eternal torture is a huge motivation why they do good and avoid doing bad thus muddying the intrinsic value of human virtues. Whenever a Christian will remember the eternal reward and punishment while performing a good deed, the genuineness of the act is no longer that genuine.

13. "Can your all-powerful God create a rock that is too heavy for Him to move?"
If you answer, "No," then the atheist will reply, "Then your God can't create such a rock and therefore isn't all-powerful." If you answer, "Yes," then the atheist will reply, "Then your God won't be able to move the rock and therefore isn't all-powerful."

I've read a few long and complicated "answers" to this apparent dilemma, but the fact is, the question itself is problematic, much like the question, "Can God run and walk at the same time?" or even the often-quoted statement, "Everything I say is a lie." (If everything I say is a lie, then that statement itself is a lie, so I must therefore be telling the truth. But if I'm telling the truth, then everything I say must be a lie, and we're back to square one.)
Funny, she gave examples that reinforces the point of the atheist. Her examples are logical contradictions that DOES NOT and CANNOT exist in reality. Is the author then admitting that her omnipotent God DOES NOT and CANNOT exist?

All three examples illustrate the limitations of the human mind and its logic. The "rock" question doesn't say anything about the nature of God nor His power, but our own inability to comprehend something that is beyond our understanding.
They have nothing to do with the limitation of human mind, but rather, all three demonstrate that logical contradiction CANNOT and DOES NOT and CANNOT exist in reality. The "rock" question does say something about God's nature, namely an omnipotent God cannot and does not exist.

When all else fail, Chrsitian theists resort to "God is beyond human understanding". Statements like these are subtle admission that religious claims cannot not stand on their own merits. This "mystery maneuver" is a fundamental concession to the atheist. In effect, it admits that religious belief inevitably has irrational consequences.

I will probably periodically add to this list, so stay tuned.
Better yet, remove all 13 and find other flaws. You haven't mentioned a single one.

4 Comments:

At 8:41 PM, Blogger Euri said...

Everytime I have the time to visit this blog, there's always new post. ^_^

 
At 9:36 AM, Blogger John the Atheist said...

Visit This_isit's slander on atheism @ http://dsweeper.blogspot.com/

 
At 11:10 AM, Blogger DearestWarrior said...

Well argued!
I have an impression that Abby Aaron's article was meant to preach to the member of the boy's choir where Dave sings louder..

joma

 
At 12:15 AM, Blogger The Atheist Seeker said...

Ha ha ha. Thanks brother Joma. Dave is one tough theist nut to crack.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home