Posts Tagged ‘evidence’

It’s a mystery.

January 30, 2009

Do you ever get annoyed when, during a debate with a theist, they retreat into “God is mysterious; we just can’t understand him,” when they are confronted with something contradictory or un-answerable?

 

So then, you say, “But you’ve just told me all this stuff about God; how can he be unknowable?  Either you know him or you don’t.”

 

And then the reply is, “We can only understand what he has revealed to us,” and maybe, “Humans are incapable of fully understanding the mind of god.  We’ll get to learn everything in heaven.”

 

And that’s pretty much a conversation-stopper.

 

But…

 

Were you ever in conversation with a theist who tried to stump you on what banged the big bang?  “Maybe,” they say, “it was God?”

 

And you say, “No, look, just because we don’t know all the details about something doesn’t mean God did it.

 

And they respond, “But you should consider the possibility, if you are as open-minded as you say you are.”

 

So you say, “Of course I will consider it if we find evidence to support it, but we don’t have that.”  (Hopefully, during this discussion, you have already defined “evidence” and explained how a hypothesis needs to be testable, repeatable, and disprovable.)  “Besides, everything we know now about the way the world works was once a mystery that we solved because we found evidence.  So even if something is unknown now, it isn’t unknowable, and we will learn about it someday.”

 

And this may also be a conversation-stopper, though I don’t think it needs to be.  We can talk a lot more about science than we can about Heaven and where it is and how we get there and what we find when we get there.

 

But it occurred to me that these two arguments are very nearly the same; they both simply say, “We don’t know yet.”  If one is invalid, shouldn’t the other one be?

 

Plus, do we really want “conversation-stoppers”?  I’d rather end a discussion with something we agree on rather than one party slinking away wondering why they couldn’t explain the reason the other party’s logic was faulty, and then coming up with a really good reason at 3 AM that night.

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More on swear words

October 20, 2008

One of my coworkers is a polite Christian lady, and she generally doesn’t swear around me (she censors herself).  So I have been teasing her lately about how she can swear or burp or whatever around me.  And then I told her about how I said a new swear this weekend when a large spider crawled out of my dirty laundry pile (shut up!) and startled me.  I said, “Christ!”  And then I laughed because I’ve never said that before.  So when I finished my little story, my coworker (who knows I am an atheist) said, “See, you still call on him.”

 

I said, “Jesus is a spider?” and went on walking back to my cubicle.

 

I should have said, “What do you mean?”  But I’m not a fan of starting religious arguments with anyone, much less a person I spend 40 hours a week with.  But seriously, what does she think it means that I use religious profanity?  Does she file that in the “even atheists know there is a god, they just deny him” proof of her deity?  I guess that would go something like so:

 

1. When people are scared or startled or worried, they often blaspheme.

2. Therefore, God exists.  

 

This reminds me: my husband gets quite angry when people point out how much evil is done in the name of religion, or when people refuse to acknowledge all the good that religious people do.  What he doesn’t understand is, even if Christians do a lot of good, that doesn’t make it true– and of course conversely, just because Christians often do bad things, that doesn’t make it false.  It means that various people are good and bad for various reasons.

 

I guess my point is that Christians use very strange things for evidence of their faith, even while they insist that evidence is unnecessary. 

 

Like a few weeks ago when someone tried to tell me that everyone has faith, for example faith that there is a New York even though I haven’t been there.  And when I pointed out that I could go to New York and come back to prove it (not my only argument), he said the Apostle Paul ascended into the third Heaven (or some other integer, I forget) and came back, which proves there is a Heaven.

 

You see why I don’t generally get into arguments about religious things?  I don’t even know where to start when someone says something like “third heaven” — and this is someone from mainstream Christianity!  I thought there wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard of.  Which only goes to show you.

 

I’m not sure what it shows you, but it certainly doesn’t show you that there is a Heaven, or that Christianity is true, or that I believe Jesus is the Son of God sent to save my soul from eternal torment, or that there is a place of eternal torment, or that there is a soul.

 

Jesus Christ on a bike!