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CTDL 102: Disservice to athiesm

I hesitate to post this one, because A) it is a large departure from a lot of other CTDL entries and B) it’s likely to tick some people off. Of course since you’re reading this I’ve posted it anyway.

My last post basically said I’m dancing between the agnostic’s camp and the theistic evolutionist’s camp. I don’t think the belief that a strict view of “God” that looks exactly like any given religion is a particularly intellectually defensible point of view when viewing a sufficiently large sampling of data. That said, I do have a lot of respect for people who hold religious beliefs and have faith in a higher power. I don’t have to agree with your interpretation of the world to understand that you’ve arrived at it based on your history, study, and unique point of view. I’m not out to “convert” anybody to or against any religion, I think empowering people with knowledge that is as unbiased as possible is beneficial to us all. This goes for science, or politics, or people’s view of the practitioners of various religions.

I can understand an atheist POV that says “All the evidence I see points to there not being any God that fits any model put forth by those who believe in a God and hence it’s not worth my time to search for him.” Though, a tautological view like strong Atheism seems a tough one to “prove”, likewise a belief in concrete evidence for a personal God that wants me to do X or Y is a pretty tough one as well.

I came across this site somewhere and just had to comment on the inanity of the arguments used as “proofs” that God is imaginary. Below are a sampling of the proofs offered. Mostly they seem to be in the variety of “people are hypocrites / the Bible doesn’t agree with itself or us all the time, so God is imaginary” vein. It seems almost like an argument against Santa that hinges on the author having gotten crappy Christmas gifts. I think that there are good arguments to be made against the concept of God, it’s just that these are not them (and in spectacularly bad ways).

Example #1:

Building a large sanctuary and indoor basketball courts is an exercise in vanity, ego-boosting, selfishness and human pride. These attributes are the opposite of Jesus’ prescriptions and everyone knows it.

Church congregations regularly and willfully ignore Jesus’ teachings because they know that Jesus is imaginary.

[From God is Imaginary - 50 simple proofs]

Really? That passes as a proof? That there are hypocrites in Christianity proves God is imaginary? Not to mention the assumption that because there are people (and an awful lot of them) who act hypocritically in regards to the “give to the poor” mandate must mean that they “know that Jesus is imaginary.”
Example #2

Simply take a moment to think about the following statement:

“Hello, my name is Jesus. I love you deeply. I have loved you since you were conceived in the womb and I will love you for all eternity. I died for you on the cross because I love you so much. I long to have a loving personal relationship with you. I will answer all of your prayers through my love. But if you do not get down on your knees and worship me, and if you do not EAT MY BODY and DRINK MY BLOOD, then I WILL INCINERATE YOU WITH UNIMAGINABLY TORTUOUS PAIN IN THE FIRES OF HELL FOR ALL ETERNITY BWAH HA HA HA HA HA!”

Yes, this is the central message of Christianity. See John 6:53-54 and Mark 16:16.

[From God is Imaginary - 50 simple proofs]

A) hyperbole for effect is one thing, this is just silly
B) It’s a pretty far leap to say that this is the core message of Jesus. It may be the core teaching of some types of Christianity, but there’s a verse in Matthew in response to a question about the greatest commandment (which would seem to me to indicate a “core message” more than the bit during the last supper.

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. A second likewise is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Example #3

It is when you start thinking about the Bible in this way that you understand something very important about the Bible. Either the entire Bible really is God’s Word, or the entire Bible was written by primitive men with absolutely no input from God. Here is the reason for this very strong dividing line:

If part of the Bible came from God and part came from primitive men, you do not know which is which. You dod not know if Jesus really is resurrected, or if that’s just a make-believe story inserted by primitive men. How do you know if God wrote the Ten Commandments or not? If any part of the Bible has been polluted by primitive men, you have to reject the whole thing. There is no way to know who wrote what, so the entire book is invalid.

There really is no middle ground and the Bible has to be an all-or-nothing book. Either the entire Bible came from God, or none of it did.

[From God is Imaginary - 50 simple proofs]

The leap in logic here that the Bible must be “all or nothing” which doesn’t even bother to set up a straw man is mind boggling to me. This is a “baby out with the bath water” sort of scenario akin to “let’s throw out the US Constitution because it begat laws that make it illegal to own a camel in wyoming and that’s just silly”. I personally think considering the Bible the “inerrant word of God” is a horse-pill I can’t swallow, but I can also see that just because somebody acknowledges that the documents have flaws doesn’t count as proof God doesn’t exist. There are whole realms of study involved in attempting to get back to the oldest versions of the texts (read Bart D Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus for an interesting agnostic POV).

There are a lot of arguments that could be made for or against God, but both sides have a very tough job ahead to “prove” something to the other side, one way or the other. One could “prove” any number of theological concepts are impossible and wrong, but it wouldn’t disprove the existence of a God that lives outside the realm of science for those who want to believe in a God that exists outside the realm of science. And any “proof” that God exists based on personal experience isn’t proof to somebody who doesn’t want to believe. If lack of any physical evidence of a God is evidence enough to you that there isn’t one, then nobody’s spiritual awakening will convince you otherwise. If you’ve got a belief in God that isn’t wrapped up too tightly in a specific theology and you want to believe in him, then nobody’s “proof” is going to convince YOU otherwise.

I like to hear a good argument and reason for somebody’s beliefs, and the God is Imaginary site doesn’t seem to fit either of those criteria.

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