Archive | June 2011

Religion is the enemy of independent thought and sceptical inquiry

Arguing with Theists has got to be one of the most annoying activities of the non-religious.  It gets very repetitive and I can only tolerate it for so long these days.  They don’t have any new arguments and they’ve all been debunked countless times.  It always comes down to one point, they can’t prove their claims and we can’t disprove their claims.  At this point they usually make one of two mistakes, either they assume that a belief in a god is the default, or they assume the probability for a gods existence/non-existence is equally likely.  These are both wrong.

No one can be called upon to prove a negative.  That is a logical rule because it is impossible, especially if the claim starts with a being that is immaterial and exists outside of our space-time.  That is why the burden of proof rests solely on the people making the claim.  Rejecting a claim put forward without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.  Stating that no gods exist is justified, just as claiming leprechauns don’t exist is justified.  We are justified in making that claim because Theists have never lived up to their burden of proving his existence.  To prove something empirically exists, you must provide empirical evidence to support it.  When something does not exist, empirical evidence for its non-existence does not exist.

Logical arguments are not evidence.  A logical argument can be made to move an idea into the category of hypothesis, but no further.  If you want your idea to progress into the category of theory (by theory, I mean in the scientific sense of theory) you must provide empirical evidence.  Without empirical evidence your idea will remain a hypothesis until a better explanation comes along to replace it.

This process works because it lets in good ideas and keeps out bad ideas.  As soon as you let in gods based on logical arguments, you must let in spiritual healing, astrology, voodoo, homeopathy and all the other crap of the day.

Let us start at the root of what is wrong with religion…Faith!

Believing despite the lack of, and often in opposition to, evidence. How anyone holds such a concept as a noble quality baffles my mind. They seem to confuse Faith with Trust. Trusting someone who has earned it is obviously a good thing and giving complete strangers limited trust is mostly beneficial. When I stop to ask for directions, I have no reason to assume that s/he will lie to me. I did lie once when giving directions, but it was an honest mistake.

In religion you are commanded to have Faith regardless. And even encouraged all the more when reason points in the other direction, as if having Faith in the most implausible is somehow more admirable. Absolutely bonkers logic!

If they’re Bible thumpers they may throw Job at you or Abraham. Job, who had his Faith tested by God who allowing Satan (notice how the Christians move all blame from God to the Devil) to spoil his life, only to reward him later. And Abraham, who was commanded to kill his only son to prove his Faith. God stopped him just in time, but I can’t imagine their father son relationship being quite the same after that. If you know your Bible it can be a lot of fun to get into a biblical argument, but don’t worry if you don’t, you don’t have to take the argument there. They have the burden to prove that this mismatch of documents, which don’t agree, and was written long after the fact by people who weren’t there is reliable.

Their final argument for Faith: Faith is a gift from Jesus, God, Allah, etc. If their chosen deity has not given you the gift (label used sarcastically) of Faith, you can’t possibly understand.

This is their end of conversation argument. I just think it’s arrogant. Normally followed up with: “If you truly looked for (insert deity here) you would be blessed with Faith.”

So it’s our fault! I know it would be wrong of me to speak for all Atheists, but I have to say, if you care enough to call yourself an Atheist it must be because you have spent some time considering the likelihood of a supernatural being who created the entire universe and cares about something as insignificant to the universe as us. As Richard Feynman used to say, “It’s not in proportion!” I don’t know the statistics off the top of my head, but I think the Mormons are the only group who has read their holy book as much as Atheists (Don’t quote me on that.)

In my opinion, most Atheists are Atheists because they looked deeper into their religion. Whereas, most believers continue to believe because they refuse to look at their religion critically (I’d say honestly.) They have confirmation bias (To them holding the belief is more important than why they believe it.) Of course that’s only this Atheists opinion.

Quote: “Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.” Thomas Jefferson