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Ten “Oh so clever” questions for Atheists January 29, 2022

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Questions, Responses.
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Herald Newman, over at The Truth Seeking Atheist, bit the bullet and watched a YouTube video from evangelical christian and professional apologetics professor Braxton Hunter.  Hunter laid out “Ten Questions for Atheists”, and Herald did the work of transcribing the questions from the video.   I’m accepting his transcriptions rather than try to duplicate the effort.  You can read Herald’s answers to these questions here: Answering Braxton Hunter

And if you really want to, you can see the original source video here: Braxton Hunter Video.

I think these questions are a good example of the typical apologist’s usual style of interaction with non-believers, so I’m going to look at each of them in some detail.  Since this is going to be pretty long, I’ll split it into several posts

1 – What facts about reality, that you and I agree are real facts about the way that the world is, does your worldview account for, but my Christianity doesn’t account for, or at least doesn’t account for it well?

“Account for” is one of those clever phrases apologists really like to use.  They like to pretend that if something is “accounted for” in their system, as in, they have an explanation for it, that means that they have the correct explanation, which is not necessarily the case at all. After all, Rudyard Kipling’s The Just So Stories accounts for camel humps and elephant trunks, but that doesn’t make it not fiction.  A better phrase to use would be “consistent with”.  Here’s some things that I observe about reality that are inconsistent with the claims of christianity:

The universe is vastly hugely enormously larger and vastly hugely enormously older than it needs to be if it were created with us in mind.  (Whereas if intelligent multicellular life is a low-probability event that takes a long time to develop, then a very huge very old universe is the only place where you could expect to find it.)

Except for the teeny sliver of it we live on, the rest of the universe appears to be overwhelmingly hostile to our form of life, and utterly indifferent to whether we survive.  Go to any random spot in the universe, and what will you almost certainly find?  Nothing, because you’ll be very quickly, extremely dead.  There is no reason this would need to be the case in a universe created for us.

Likewise, our own planet is largely indifferent to our wellbeing.  Most of it is covered in water, and a significant fraction of the land area is not habitable, either being too cold, too dry, or too mountainous.  Natural disasters happen without regard to the safety of humans, or which invisible friend they claim to have.

The bodies of living beings are often living beings are often bodge jobs; ours certainly are.  From backwards retinas to fallen arches, we have to make do with modified components from our recent ancestors, even when they are not optimal for the job.  A god with the ability to design beings from scratch could do a lot better.

And of course, and this is a point I often make, there are thousands of religions in the world, and despite thousands of years of trying, humans have not been able to come to any kind of consensus on what sort of god there is, what we can know about it, what it wants of us, and how we should live in response to that.  Human religion is a big confusing mess, and human brains aren’t up to the task of fixing this problem.  A god that didn’t know about this, or didn’t have the ability to fix it, or didn’t care enough about us to fix it, certainly isn’t consistent with the benevolent omnimax Biblegod preached by the christians.  I’ve discussed this idea in greater length before, you can find that discussion here.  

2 – If your definition of atheism is merely that it is the lack of belief in God, and you’re just waiting to be convinced, but then you speak of [God] as if he is in some way synonymous with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or fairies, doesn’t that at least send the message to your listeners that you actually believe that there is no god?

Here we see a common equivocation that apologists use to confuse their listener.  The word “god” is a mushy badly defined word.  It can refer to the particular god of a specific religious sect, or to any being ever worshiped by humans, or to some vague deistic “first cause,” or to any of the enormous number of possible beings that might be classified as a “god” if they were shown to exist.

In this case, the apologist is conflating a stated lack of belief in “some god” with a lack of belief in “their specific god”.  So that I don’t make that same error, I will call the generic idea of some sort of vague higher power “god” with a small “g”, and the smitey fundagelical literalist being that the apologists are pushing “Biblegod”. 

Now while I can’t claim to have proof of there being no god of any sort, I certainly have opinions about the probability of certain proposed gods’ existence.  My assessment of the likelihood of the christian god’s non-existence is so close to 100% that I feel comfortable rounding it off to 100% for regular daily purposes.  So yes, I think that your Biblegod doesn’t exist in the same way that I think Santa Claus doesn’t exist.  Some christians get very butt-hurt about the comparison between their god and a children’s fairy tale, but that doesn’t mean that the comparison isn’t apt.  

3 – When atheism becomes part of someone’s worldview they typically change their positions on other issues like abortion, sexual morality, and a number of other things. I actually have several videos of well known atheists saying there’s nothing wrong with prostitution, that they hope their children don’t save themselves until marriage, and that sex workers should be put up on a pedestal no different than the military. I didn’t use those here because I didn’t want to seem combative to individuals specifically the individuals who made those statements. But even if you didn’t become an atheist “just so you could sin”, and I believe you, do you at least understand why those moves could send that message to people who might say that to you?

When someone leaves a religion, especially one like fundagelicalism that includes an intense indoctrination, they often have a lot of baggage to unpack. They have not only been taught to believe unquestioningly in a set of religious dogmas, but there’s also a whole set of social and political dogmas that were packed right in there too.  As someone rebuilds their opinions after having left such a religion, they have to take a look at each of their views on each of these dogmas individually, and figure out whether there is a good reason to continue to hold them, other than “my religion said so.”  And so a lot of the regressive, patriarchal, authoritarian stuff eventually gets dumped.  Not all ex-christians wind up as progressive liberal thinkers, but most of them take a big step away from the hard-right-wing positions that were pushed on them.

And notice here how the apologist is picking on some of the culture warrior’s favorite topics.  That’s not an accident.  He skipped over the issues that his religion teaches that most deconverts don’t change their views on, like feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, healing the sick, and generally being a kind and responsible person.  The sort of thing that Jesus told his followers to do, and they will say that it’s the kind of thing believers should do, but mostly they just don’t want to do it. Nope, our apologist is harping on sexual morality, a favorite hot-button issue.  He says “ I didn’t use those here because I didn’t want to seem combative” but he certainly did use it because he wanted the fundagelical christians to see him sneer at how “immoral” those non-believers are.  I think they are here as a dogwhistle for his real audience.

When I’m deciding what my positions are about sex work, sex outside of marriage, abortion, or homosexuality, I’m arriving at those opinions based on my internal code of ethics, and my view that people should be allowed to live their lives free of the prudery of religious morality police.  I am most certainly not arriving at my positions based on how they might “look” to those still within religion, that doesn’t concern me in the least.

More to come in Part 2.  

Comments»

1. Steve Ruis - January 30, 2022

Regarding #2 I have proof! :o)

The Logical Ontological Argument
1. It is possible that a maximally great being does exist, but the probability is vanishingly small.
2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists with a vanishingly small probability, then there is a vanishingly small probability that a maximally great being exists in some possible world.
3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world with a vanishingly small probability, then it exists in every possible world with a vanishingly small probability.
4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world with a vanishingly small probability, then it exists in the actual world with a vanishingly small probability.
5. If a maximally great being exists in the actual world with a vanishingly small probability, then there is a vanishingly small probability a maximally great being exists.
6. Therefore, there is a vanishingly small probability that a maximally great being exists.
Note Is there any example of a maximally great anything? No. So, the idea is imaginary in the first place.

Liked by 2 people

2. Nan - January 30, 2022

You write exceedingly well, Ubi! You lay out the supposed “facts” of the believer and then systematically and patently counter them with cogent evidence.

Now I’m off to read Part 2!

Liked by 1 person

3. Nan - January 30, 2022

I wanted to add that I fully agree with your comments related to the Universe. Christians that think their god is “the ultimate” need to spend more time reading about Astronomy and other sciences.

Liked by 1 person

Ubi Dubium - January 30, 2022

Yes, the more I learn about the Universe the smaller and more inadequate their “Mad Blood God of the Desert” becomes in comparison.

Liked by 1 person

Herald Newman - April 28, 2022

The apologist will reply that God had to create an enormous and old universe so that we could see the majesty of God at work. This is why God is never an explanation – Whatever situation we find ourselves in God will always have a way to be jammed in there real good.

Liked by 2 people


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