Saturday, 23 October 2010
Earlier I posted an excerpt from my upcoming Skepticon talk, Dear Christian. In came the stalwart defenders of Jesus exclaiming that not all Christians act that way and wondering how I could lump them all together. One commenter snidely mocked my "atheist-atheist" conversation.
Here's the thing: I've spent the last five years speaking with Christians and pretty much know the game backwards and forwards by now. Behold, the following part of the talk (which was written last week):
At this point, many more moderate believers will respond that not all Christians believe the way of those who would refuse medical care to the poor or deny loving couples visitation rights in the name of Jesus. I will counter that I don’t believe it is enough to simply disagree with them. The villains of faith are trying to act in accordance with god’s will, as are you. You just believe god wishes something different. Sadly, your reasons for thinking you are privy to the will of a creator are just as bad as theirs, and I cannot criticize unreason on the one hand while giving it a free pass on the other just because it happens to line up with reasonable conclusions. As Sam Harris concisely put it; we do not need bad reasons to be good, and I will not disrespect you enough to treat you like you do.
It's like that's what Christians almost always say at that point. Weird.
A more apt description would be that if some kid is using a magic 8 ball to answer a question on a test and he gets it right, while another kid uses it to decide to steal another kid's lunch money. We need not act like the bully is misusing the magic 8 ball, nor do we need it to achieve correct answers on tests. Even though it worked in one case, both of their reasons suck. We should do away with the 8 ball and teach kids to study.
The same is true of religion. Sometimes religion gets people to do good things for lousy reasons. Other times it gets people to do positively horrific things for those same bad reasons. But we do not need bad reasons to be good, and you can't expect me to give magical thinking a free pass just because sometimes it lands in a sensible spot - the metaphysical debris that comes following it is too much of a pain in the ass on a societal level.
So despite the insistence by some that I cannot lump all Christians together I can only respond that yes, I can. All of you believe in some dude rising from the dead and walking on water for no good reason. Every single one of you has nothing but shitty reasons for believing in god. This is something you all have in common that needs to change if you care at all about your responsibility to be informed.
A couple more people said that I had ignored the powerful arguments of faith. How often have I heard that stark, depleted line? As usual, it was not followed by telling me what any of these knock-down evidences for god was. I invited one commenter, puella_sapiens216, to tell me just what those arguments are. I'll even go one step further. I promise to post her arguments as a blog post (with my commentary of course, but if the arguments are so good what will that matter?) so the whole xanga world can see them. I'm sure they'll be amazing.
Like I said, I have spent the last five years talking with religious people on a daily basis. Here are the facts of the matter:
1. You all have the same array of arguments you've read from the same authors. You have read no critical literature of them. (I have done both)
2. Most of you haven't read the bible. (I have)
3. Virtually none of you have given any other religion the same fair shake you demand we give the bible. (I have)
4. Polling has confirmed that atheists, on the whole, know more about your faith than you do.
5. You all believe on faith, and always turn to it like it's something to be proud of when all your other arguments have been crushed.
6. When pressed, you can think of nothing that could change your mind.
I could keep going, but that's enough to satisfy me. Think I'm wrong? Throw out some of these amazing reasons.
And lastly, as a preview to my upcoming tussle with puella_sapiens, in answer to her outraged question, "So, I guess all of us Christians are idiotic for having faith and belief that isn't "scientifically proven"?" I can only answer that while not all Christians are idiots, belief in the basic miracle claims/tenets of Christianity is idiotic - not because they lack scientific proof for their beliefs, but because their reasons are lacking no matter what sphere they are pulled from. The very definition of idiotic is believing silly things and/or lacking the mental acuity to liberate yourself from idiotic beliefs. Don't like it? Fine. Hit me with a good reason to believe (and pray to whatever god you like that it's not an idiotic reason, because I will use it to take your words and feed them to you).