Why Believe The Bible
But Not (Say) A Tabloid?
Dylan S. Combs
I have been an atheist for as long as I can remember. It appears no less than obvious to me that one should refute religion, for they all seem to imply that humans cannot find happiness within themselves, but they must look to a higher power to find that. I shall point out Christianity, for it is the one that I have the most of a problem with. I can't believe that people would consent to live in ignorance and fear like that. Who would want to live a life in which you constantly feel inferior, unworthy, and ashamed of choices that you have made only because a book tells you that it is wrong to do so? If you believe that book, why not any other book you pick up? I have always said that one should be wary of giving a Christian a tabloid, for his mind is obviously oriented to believe anything written down.
However, the reason that atheists do not believe that a god exists is because there is no proof for it, correct? I feel that I am relatively safe in saying that, for it is the most obvious reason I can posit. Everyone who has studied any logic at all knows that it is an obvious fallacy in an argument to assume the existence of something because something or someone that is unqualified to make the statement that it exists, does say it. It is the fallacy of appealing to false authority, or Argumentum ad Verecumdiam. The Bible is simply a book, and there is no evidence to prove its holiness. Therefore, appealing to it and stating that a god exists because it says so is a blatant fallacy. Being that the only evidence any Christian has for their god is the Bible, for without it, no one would know anything of Christianity, Judaism, or Islam, even, any logical person can simply overlook any argument for these religions, for they are all based solely on books with no authority.
One can further go to analyze the religions, find contradictions in their texts, and even raise questions as to why a god as described in their manuscripts is even worthy of worship, or should this vengeful, destructive god even be rebelled against? I know that if Christianity turns out to be true when I die, if by some amazing chance they are right, and I end up standing in front of their god, I will gladly insurrect against him. I have logic on my side, and knowing that I am raising perfectly valid questions and have an excellent reason not to believe, I gladly oppose any deity that condemns me for that. Sure, Christians will use visions of hell and descriptions of a terrible afterlife for all eternity to try to force you to listen to them out of fear, but the majesty of our humanity is that we are free to choose not to be afraid. We are free to choose to exist by our own terms and to find value for each other out of intrinsic beliefs and emotions that no one can claim to be incorrect. For, if you are to tell me that my intrinsic notions are incorrect, then you admit that you, yourself, could be incorrect as well, and why would I, or any other rational being, listen to you over myself?
A Question for Strong Atheists
Given the reason that atheists such as myself believe no god exists, I would like to ask strong atheists why it is that they believe there is absolutely no god. Is that not committing yet another fallacy? Argumentum ad Ignorantiam -- the fallacy of assuming that something is false simply because of a lack of proof. Just as there is no proof that there is a god, there is no proof that there absolutely is not. The fact of the matter is that there are infinite possibilities. For all we know, my doorknob could have created the universe, but it is just one out of infinite -- the smallest fraction there ever could be. So, by choosing an absolute truth, such as the existence, or non-existence of a god, you are choosing one possibility out of infinite. Those are some pretty slim odds.
I just thought I'd bring that up for discussion. I am so glad I found this website -- it really is comforting to know that there are more out there such as myself, and that I am not alone. Sometimes it can feel that way.
-- Dylan Combs
January 29, 2004
I am glad that we have developed methods for being able to determine truth from falsehood that are more accurate than simply counting the possible outcomes of a question, calculating the odds against "guessing" the correct one, and resigning to the notion that whatever we decide is no more or less realistic than any of the other choices!
Besides, unless some strange form of non-Aristotelean logic has taken over our experiential state of reality (as opposed to, say, Planck space, wherein, I hear, all bets are off in this regard), it seems that existence and nonexistence would be a binary, either-or choice.
Still, as Isaac Asimov stated (and you as well said, in so many words):
I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I'm a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally I am an atheist. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time.
In other words, to be a strong atheist is, in my opinion, a choice based in want or desire (and a valid one, to boot). I cannot remember exactly where it was but someone once paraphrased from Michael Martin's book, Atheism. A Philosophical Justification, saying that if I look and look for a pair of glasses that I think I left in a room, and after turning the room inside out, still cannot find them, there comes a point where I simply say, "There are no glasses in the room."
I could still be wrong, and one of our senior partners, Dutch physics student Victor Gijsbers once explained this to me in a personal letter, while he and I developed a portion of the FAQ centerpiece, "Introduction to Activistic Atheism": He said that those of us who have thought through the philosophical arguments for and against the existence of God (or, as I prefer to say, the truthfulness or falsehood of the various god-claims), we rightly call ourselves strong atheists. I'm not sure where he was coming from on that one, but I think Martin's argument would suffice at this point. What Victor was saying to me, though, was that being a strong atheist does not preclude our changing our tune if it should turn out that we are in error: we are in no way committed to remaining atheists should this turn of events take place. We would, like the scientist, simply say, "Oh, you're right! I was wrong about that!" and adjust our outlooks accordingly.
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