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Sunday, December 02, 2007

Two Religious Points

Two quick points:

(1) I may have said this before; I can't remember. In any event, I think perhaps the single goofiest argument for atheism is when they list some implications of the existence of God (whether it's his allowance of the Holocaust or whatever), and then conclude, "I don't want to believe in a God like that."

They say this with self-righteous huffery, as if they've just blown up their silly theist opponent. In any other argument, this would be such a childish stunt that it wouldn't even occur to anyone to try it. "You think if the US hadn't entered World War I, then Hitler wouldn't have come to power!?! Well I don't want to believe in a historical narrative like that. QED."


(2) The Catholic Church has been responsible for some terrible stuff, I grant you that. (BTW I was raised Catholic but am no longer one; I'm simply trying to correct a common simplification.) And then there's all the Galileo stuff; maybe Gene can give us a good link as to why the typical Dawkins-esque story here is wrong too. But I bet a lot of people don't know where the term "devil's advocate" comes from. It's from the old Church practice of appointing someone to argue against canonization, to make sure the nominee was deserving.

10 comments:

  1. I find it amusing when people point to fortuitous events in their lives as the intervention of god, and thus as proof of god's existence.

    God seems to get involved in American football, politics and Nascar racing quite a bit. I even read in the St Petersburg Times recently about how he helped a dumb kid swim his way out of Lake Tarpon.

    A couple of years before she died, my grandmother told me about how god intervened in her life. She fell in her garage, and with a broken hip was only able to moan for help. A neighbor heard her, and helped her to get medical assistance. She told me that god saved her. I told her that god indeed did a fine thing. It's a real shame he allowed a whole bunch of children to get brutally raped and murdered that day, but at least he rescued an 80 year old. Let's forget about how he broke her hip in the first place.

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  2. Yup. These sorts of arguments are a theological travesty.

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  3. I agree that if someone is trying to convince an atheist of the existence of God by reference to fortuitous events, then yes that's silly. (On the other hand, I don't think it's crazy for a believer in the Judeo-Christian God to be grateful for good things and yet not bitter over bad things.)

    In any event, the existence of invalid arguments for God doesn't excuse the ridiculous arguments put forth with confidence by "sophisticated" atheists. After all, the Christians are "supposed" to be idiots so it's not surprising that they can't argue. But I have heard very educated and "scientific" atheists make just the type of argument I pointed out in (1).

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  4. "The Runners on the Paths of Stardust choose not to ponder who shot such arrows through time, or why, or whether there was one archer or many. [...] All we claim to know is that there is suffering in the time-bound worlds, and that there is release from that suffering. That release is the realization of the meaning of meta-space."

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  5. So once you realize the meaning of metaspace, you're all set?

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  6. Is that a valid analogy, though, Bob - comparing the United States' impact on history and the impact by God's (in)actions on history?

    God is generally regarded as having the qualities of omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence.

    He, unlike anyone or anything else, e.g. the United States, can do anything..

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  7. The ultimate statement of this for me is Hannibal Lecter's. He pretends to commiserate with his FBI nemesis; in fact he is accusing him of murder in an ongoing attempt--quite successful--to drive him batshit by suggesting that his mind works just like Lecter's. ("Do you know how you caught me, Will?") "God won't begrudge you one little murder. Why, just last week He dropped a church roof on a hundred and forty of His congregants while they were grovelling through a hymn. He'll let you have just one. God always comes out ahead."

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  8. John, in PUCK that's the way things work.

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  9. What I take atheists to mean when they say things like this, is that even if that kind of God existed, they would not see him as worthy of worship or obedience.

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