I read a post by flyinguineapig (click link to view original article) earlier that asked two questions of atheists. I’m going to attempt to answer them here.
My first question is more general. I see this among atheists and my agnostic friends. People deny the possibility of any deity’s existence because of the lack of some kind of proof. It occurred to me that I have no idea what kind of proof you’re looking for. Furthermore, it seems to me that, in many cases, not just in the case of spirituality, what constitutes proof is at least somewhat subjective. I would love to get a few different perspectives, so my question is, what would prove to you that God exists?
Personally, I don’t deny any deity’s existence. I just see no satisfactory proof (or evidence, whichever word you prefer) that one exists and a myriad of reasons not to believe in the accepted versions of a deity we see in today’s religions. There also isn’t any way to differentiate between which religion would be true and which are false – most religions can claim the same ‘proofs’.
Archaic book full of contradictions?
Most mainstream religions have them. Islam, Christianity and on and on.
Visions and supernatural reasons to believe?
Check! If you’re a Muslim you’ll see Allah and if you’re a Christian maybe Jesus or Mary.
But this question does bring up an interesting point – what constitutes ‘proof’? I see many atheists say something along the lines of ‘there is no evidence for a deity’, and that isn’t true. It’s more accurate to state ‘there is no good evidence’.
Many theists will present their proofs or evidence, such as, say, the bible or experiences or what have you, and the atheist might just dismiss it, but to the theist, these things ARE forms of proof and it has convinced them that their beliefs are valid.
I would argue that the bible isn’t a good ‘proof’, because it contradicts itself, it gives bad advice, it isn’t scientifically sound and historically it’s a bag of ‘let’s play telephone today folks!’, and that’s why I lack belief in it.
But I would go a step further and state that while I’m about 99.5% sure there is no deity out there, I’m about 99.9999999% sure that the Christian deity doesn’t exist. I could say the same about Allah, Odin, Zeus etc. I actively don’t believe in them because the ‘proofs’ against them are so many, the contradictions so great, and the enormity of their claims are so far outside the norms of what we think to be true today.
Many Christians when arguing for their deity will revert to defending their God from a deist perspective because the bible and it’s nonsensical claims are especially difficult to defend.
The deist perspective though is super, super easy to defend.
I’m not sure what it would take to convince me but I’m thinking a God with unlimited power would know and make it possible, especially if it’s a prerequisite to its idea of what it needs from us.
Her second question was:
My second question is a little more personal, but less complicated. I’ve noticed that when atheists write posts or comments, here and in other places, they most frequently attack Christianity in particular. I assume this is partly because Christianity is one of the most prominent religions, if not the most prominent religion in the U.S. and in the West overall. My question here is, do you have an actual problem with Christianity specifically, or do you argue against it the most simply because of its prominence?
It’s the most prominent religion worldwide at the moment and also it tends (at the moment) to flourish in the Western World where we are allowed to criticize it. It’s also easier to criticize something you understand. It’s far easier for me to criticize Christianity, for example, than Hinduism because I used to be a Christian. I understand the religion and I’ve been surrounded by it my entire life.
But if you were a vocal atheist in Saudi Arabia, you’d likely (if you’re not being hunted or killed) be most vocal about Islam.
And there are those who do criticize mainly other faiths. Take Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She’s very vocal about Islam and she has received several death threats because of it.
You should read her book. It’s freaking amazing. Just sayin’.
And there are several people courageous enough to talk about and criticize religion and religious ideas, such as blogger, Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes who don’t target mainly Christianity.
But I do think FPG is onto something here in that many Western atheists will shy away from criticizing anything but Christianity, because of nonsense words like ‘Islamophobe’ or because they’re afraid to be labeled as racist.
If it’s okay to criticize Christianity, it’s also okay to criticize other forms of religious thought. It has nothing to do with race. Anyone can be part of any religion.
Somehow many of us have fallen for this crappy line of thinking.
Magical thinking with dangerous consequences aren’t a uniquely Christian thing and we should be free to question, criticize and disagree with all forms of religious or non-religious thought without fear of being labeled a racist.
So I hope that answers your questions.
If you’re an atheist reading this, I hope you’ll take a second to tell FGP your answers to these questions from your unique perspective.