Friday, February 13, 2009

Answering Typical Athiest Misconceptions About Belief in God: for Bill Walker


Poster Bill Walker on my other blog (Atheist Watch) has this to say:

First let's set the context. I had written a piece answering a blog article which was directed at Atheist Watch. The article featured atheists writing in and saying "I am not full of hate, atheism is not a hate group." I was correcting their misconceptions about what I mean by the mission of atheist what "to expose hate group atheism."

to wit:
I have said from day one of this blog that I a not claiming that all atheists are like this. There is a fundamentalist end of the atheist spectrum that fits the profile of a hate group (see the post on this blog). That is segment is growing and is probably fueled by the internet.

that leads a commenter to say assert this (Bills Walker's first comment):

We Atheists are not a HATE group. We are a HATED group. This is because we have been vilified from countless pulpits. We are not 'customers'. We hav put behind us ALL of the primitive tribal gods created by our primitive ancestors.The HATERS still believe in one or a few. Don't hate them, feel sorry for them.
part of my answer included this:


but nevertheless if I had proof there was no god would still talk about God as though I believed in him because it's better than being a cynical moron who closes off possibilities of life for a narrow minded number cruncher ideology.

But that's not gonna happen because God is real and you are merely missing the boat. you are missing joy you could have because you are foolish. You want to rebel against Daddy and you let that keep you from truth. For the sake of childish rebellion you miss what's there for you.

Then he makes the statement I will respond to here:

Bill Walker (the main statment I'm responding to):

It is not possible to prove a negative. I can't even prove there is no Santa Claus. Common sense, logic intelligence, education etc. all tell me there is no Santa Claus, the same thing tells me there's no god. Question : What do you think would be your religious beliefs had you been born to Muslim parents in the Middle East ?

Now, it's not that this is so profound or different from anything I hear all the time. In fact I'm responding in a special blog spot not because it's such an amazing and different kind of statment, But because it' rather typical (no offense to Mr. Walker). It embodies many of the assumptions that atheits make that I want to get under and dislodge. I'm answering it becuse it's the sort of I hear from atheists all the time.

The first idea that he puts forth which I want to answer is this:

It is not possible to prove a negative. I can't even prove there is no Santa Claus.
He actually has this backwards. This is the Christian's line. He has asserted that belief is outmoded and he somehow knows it. It is therefore his burden of proof to show how he knows to that. I say "you have no real evdience that would prove that" he trys to shift the burden to me by saying "well no one could prove it therefore it's not reasonable to expect me go." But that must means it's not reasonable for you to aruge it. IF you can't prove it conclusively you have to at least give a very strong indication based probability or a strong indciement of belief in some sense. You can't slough it off on the believer to defend belief having merely put it out that you think belief is unjustified but you don't tell us why. Then of course his comments are non responsive becasue I intimated that I believe because of the effects of belief upon my life. That's my reason for believing, he gives no indication as to why that is inadqueate. Given the fact that he advanced the argument about the nature of belie it is certinly his burden to at least a reason why he feels that way.

Here's his attempt to do that:

Common sense, logic intelligence, education etc. all tell me there is no Santa Claus, the same thing tells me there's no god. Question :

Wait a minute. Logic, intelligence and education don't tell you there is no Santa Clause, at least not up frong. First before those things weigh in (due to the average age) most people usually abandon belief in Santa because their first suspicions about the belief are met with the stark confession that "yea, no one over the age of ten believes in Santa (and very few that old)." We all know it' s a put up job, we are just playing a joke on little kinds because we think it's fun.So no one takes Santa seriously, at least no with permeate teeth. Such is not the case with belief in God. My parents told me about Santa but when I turned three years old I immediately began to suspect that something was up and they didn't make attempt to hid the hoax once I voiced my suspicions. I asked my Grandmother, she said "If I give you a present I am your Santa." I said "I will take that as a no." (meaning no Santa). She just shrugged and went on planting bulbs.

I never felt that way about God because I felt the presence of god when I was four years old. I had the kind of mystical experiences I had wen I became "born again" so I knew God was real. My parents truly believed God was real. That was a totally different thing then Santa Clause. I never felt the presence of Santa, although on Christmas I have always felt a sens of love. But that's God not Santa. So the idea that God is just a more serious version of the same thing is unfounded and meaningless because the two are not analogous at all. It is somewhat likley that the idea of Santa Clause have been influenced by ideas of God but not the other way around. Santa didnt' really exist as such until very late in Western cutlure (his myth really got going as late as the nineteenth century). He was a composit figure based upon a lot of little European spirits of the season: Father Christmas (Briton), Black Peter (Holland), Sender Clause (Holland, Scandinavia) There's an Irish guy, father winter in Russia, Obufona (who is a woman) in Italy. These are all pagan gift giving spirits associated with the winter Soltace.

It may be possible that the idea of gods was influenced similar notions from the distant past. This is so because God is not a big man in the sky. The true concept of God in Christianity is that God is actually being itself not "a being." Where God tells Moses "I am that I am" this is translated as "I am begin itself" in the LXX (see Exodus 3:11). We experience god at the mystical level, beyond words, thoughts and images. We have to load those experinces into cultural constructs in order to talk about them. Thus we create religious ideas analogically and metaphorically in order to have conversation about them. The concept of God as a big man in the sky is probably related to the same process by which numina (household spirits of home and harth) were translated into gift giving holiday elves and then into an advertising symbol for a major soft drink.

This in no ways negates the concept of the divine as a clear and present reality int he lives of about six billion or more people on earth (90%). About 5% "don't know" and 3-4% actually claim some justification for asserting that no such deity exists. But the concept of "the divine" need not be anthropomorphic, conscious (although it can be) or place din the category of "a big man in the sky). The concept of God progresses and keeps pace with modern aspirations and understanding. Thus it is not analogus to compare belief in God to primative tribal gods.

finally there are tons of good reasons to belive in God. many of these have been formulated into arguments for the existence of God. I urge to read my list (the arguments I've tried to fasion) be sure and read the Prologomina to God arguments first. Without that you are bound to take them wrong and not understand them.

Some of my favorites include:

Argument from Cosmolgoical Necessity

Fire in the Equasions

Argument from Religious Experince

Thomas Reid Argument

The Feeling of Utter Dependence

Ground of Being

Trnascendental Signifier (not to be confussed with "TAG")

It is also important to understand why we don't God arguments. I have tried to develop a new approach that frees us form the bickering and unfinished aspect of the God argument, and that indicates the a priori nature of divine reality. For that the TS argument (see above) would be very important to read first. There are several articles I've done for the blog: The real reasons for belief,

Realizing God,

On my Realizing God appraoch

Existential Ontology part 1

Existential Ontology Part 2

One important concept to understand is that atheists tend to think that making an argument for God means that one is trying to assert an unfounded notion first then make up a reason to accept it having already committed to it for no reason. Part of the reason for this is the bastardized verion of faith that atheists use. Atheists impose a non theological understanding of faith when they arbitrarliy say it means "believe soemthing without evidence." Obviously believers have "evidence" in the form of reasons. Arguments are merely an attepmt to expalin a process that originates deep in the pyche and bypasses words and understanding, to people to whom we cannot lend our experinces. I can't make Bill Walker feel what I feel when I sense the presence of God. So all I can do is tell him reasons that construct of bits and pieces of my understanding in an attempt to influence him into seeking God on his own. But the average atheist takes this as the totally reason for belief and assumes that it comes after an irrational commitment made for some sperious reason. But arguments are extracted from phenomenological apprehensions which are the true basis of faith: given that they are existential in nature and pretian to our basic working epistemology as sentient beings, the true basis of fatih is valid as any reaosn can be. Thus the concept of God is already a commitment before the arguement is contrducted.

Atheist try to do it the other way around. They assume that belief is complied based upon arguments and that those arguments come after a shallow and irrational blip that 'causes' bleief as some aspect of a flawed psychological mechanism. Here the atheist stoops to a fallacious bit of reasoning that I have seen them work a hundred times: "you can't make an argument until you prove the argument." That is, they will argue that making an argument demonstrates that the concept of God is not based upon solid reasoning becasue if it was we would be able to prove the arguement before we make it. Conversely they will ague then that all God arguments assert the existence of God before they prove them. This is nothing more than a failure to understand what arguments are. All argumentation attempt to demonstrate by formal logic the nature of a prosition. Arguments are not scientific experiments where the object of proof can be demonstrated empirically. Even empirically based arguments have to present the argument fore any proof is discussed. This is just the logic works and it's common sense. It would be stupid to insist that an argument, destined to be the proof for proposition X, but be proved before Propositno X can be presented. That's just confusing emprical experimental resutls with logical proof.

If the arugment is the proof how can you prove the argument without making the argument? That's an illogical recursion that I see atheists devle into all the time. When Walker asserts that "education" tells him there is no God just as there is no Santa, that is totally irrational. Educatino tells me there is a God. He's already stipulated that you can't prove "there is no God" (can't prove the lack of God). So all you can 'prove' is the likihood, probablity, or the unreasonableness of a proption. But he never atteampts and I can tell you know he can't. There is no argument fo rthe unliklihood or unreasonable nature of the God concept that can be pulled off.

Read the materials I offer above and you will see.

I wil present part 2 on this same blog in a couple of days. That will answer his final statment:

What do you think would be your religious beliefs had you been born to Muslim parents in the Middle East?

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