Friday, July 10, 2009

The Worshippers Box.

I have been talking a bit with Christians on various blogs and such and have noticed certain differences in the way they think and the way I do. I don't say this so much to insult them but more to point out that the atheist/theist divide may be as much about barriers to communication as it is about knowledge and education.

One thing I have noticed is the definition of evidence. To a worshiper, faith comes first. So from the perspective of faith, anything that might support their worship is evidence no matter how vague. That is why, many of them will with complete sincerity point to a few, short references to early Christians and their practices as proof that their man god was real. They also take a, clearly forged passage added to the works of the scholar Josephus as proof of the existence of Christ. To a believer this is sensible and they see non believers like myself as being stubborn fools for not recognizing it. To me however all of the references put together, including the gospels, at the very best prove that there was a man named Yeshua, who led a cult. He was executed for heresy, his followers founded a very successful religion and eventually wrote a bunch of stories about him that they may or may not have believed to be true. There are no historical witnesses who actually document miracles and resurrections. There were many scholars and commentators at the time who very likely would have commented on a man raising the dead, curing plague victims and the blind, performing powerful magic and rising from the dead himself. This video gives a list of such scholars that failed to notice these supposed miracles and also gives a case against the sources who do. It is not definitive but certainly useful and interesting.

The other trait I have seen that distinguishes the believers mindset from the non believer is that the believer sees the world as being about worship. I have seen many Christians have an incredibly difficult time believing that someone doesn't worship something. Even if you can convince them that you don't secretly believe in their god and just pretend not to because you love to sin, they will still act as though you worship someone. Charles Darwin is a favorite. Christians love to call us evolutionists and act as though we worship Darwin. They go to great lengths to impunge his character, calling him a fascist and anything else they want because they want to "destroy our faith." I read a very long multi thread discussion where this one, obviously fanatical, minister had claimed that Darwin was a social pariah and womanizer. After much biographical evidence refuted that he began claiming that the ships logs of the HMS Beagle had the captain recording that Darwin was a habitual hash smoker. Eventually a great deal of research, culminated in proving he was a liar and that there was no such reference, he then claimed Richard Dawkins had hidden away those portions of the log books. You get the idea. Anyway even though we had fun disputing him, chastising him for bearing false witness and generally showing him to be a loon and a liar, we didn't need to. If Darwin were all of those things...so what? It wouldn't change his theory, it wouldn't change all of the work that had been done since, it wouldn't make his work less important. I have also been accused of worshiping professor Dawkins, and of course Satan. I think the confirmed Christian really believes such tactics will work. Not necessarily because he is stupid but because it is how he views the world working.

I think atheists often have the same problem. We in general, like evidence. I know I have a very difficult time understanding how I can present, iron clad conclusive proof of something, and have the Christian I am discussing counter with some absurd and barely comprehensible psuedo science, or even more likely a bible verse. Again I think this is not because they are necessarily less intelligent, but because evidence means different things to them. To them an insignificantly small possibility that science could be wrong about their belief, through the speed of light slowing down or radio carbon dating not working or whatever is proof that such must be the case, because it supports their religion, which they have faith is true. Likewise even the most flawless and solid case that contradicts their religion, must be false because they have faith that their stories are true so it must be the evidence that is wrong.

Evidence does get through to some believers, but I think only those who already have questions anyway. That is why I feel that the best way to truly reach out and show believers a better way is to lead by example. Live as an outspoken and public atheist. Show that you are moral and honest. Live a good life and show that faith is not necessary for virtue or happiness. I think this will create more doubts than a million pieces of evidence. If you want a person to abandon a lifestyle, it would be helpful to offer a better one.

1 comment:

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