Basing belief on faith.
Posted by Jeff on January 16, 2009
Last night I attended a meeting of the Stanford Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics group. It was entertaining, especially since there were four people there who were representing various christian groups on campus to offer an ‘outside perspective’. The topic of discussion was about the correlation between religion and social actions such as charity. Well, as these types of discussions so often do without a steadfast moderator, it veryquickly devolved into a debate on the existence of God, the plausibility of christianity, etc. Compared to the debates I’ve had with christians in the past, however, these guys were great! Their arguments were relatively reasonable and they were perfectly willing to admit when their rhetoric didn’t hold water.
Of course they seemed genuinely surprised when most of the atheists in the room ‘admitted’ to their being a possibility of god existing, considering that they, like most religious people, had a sort of caricature notion of what being an atheist means. The main thing about this exchange that really bugged me, however, was the persuasive technique that I’ve heard sooo many times and I can never seem to make the silly christians realize how flawed it is. Basically thus:
Have you ever tried just asking God if he’s real? Just talk to God and ask him to show himself to you and he will!
So. The great proof of the existence of the Almighty is to already accept the fact that he’s there and then wait for confirmation on that? Sorry people, but that’s not how it works. Aside from the fact that this notion assumes that everyone who doesn’t believe in God is trying desperately to, it also requires a sort of pre-belief belief! I guarantee that none of these guys is going to make the same request of Odin, fully open to him proving himself. Because, frankly, if they did he would. That’s how this works. You set yourself up psychologically to accept proof of the divine and then you accept anything at all as proof of the divine. It’s like confirmation bias but even more self-manufactured.
Overall, I did enjoy the conversations last night and would enjoy doing it again sometime. But sometimes I reallywish the god crowd would come up with some original shit. I’ve heard all the old apologetic stuff multiple times and it really gets boring refuting the same arguments in every single discussion.