(Before you read this or decide not to, I would like to point out that at the end of writing this blog, I came to a very different conclusion that the one that I hoped to point out. I will address it at the end of the post, and if you’re not interested in the subject matter, you may find my conclusion interesting.)
http://www.godisimaginary.com is one of my favorite sites. It’s written for the layman, and while some of it’s arguments are admittedly bad, they are laid out in a clear concise and plain way. The few fallacies and errors are easy to spot.
Whenever a Christian or Atheist puts together a popular well-thought out argument, there are always people on the opposing side who decide to undertake the challenge of debunking the entire argument, usually due to confirmation bias. I want what I believe to be true so the things you state that contradict that CAN’T be true!
For today, I am going to be examining The Rational Choice’s attempt to debunk the “proofs” from http://www.godisimaginary.com. So yeah, this is going to get really complicated. Before reading this I would go read two things:
The Rational Choice’s first 10 rebuttals on this page. It’s pretty short and I will be quoting from it quite a bit.
The Rational Choice accuses God Is Imaginary of a non sequitur. The Rational Choice straw mans the argument into “Prayers aren’t answered therefore God doesn’t exist.”
The actual argument here is: The Christian says he answers prayers God. The Christian Biblical God cannot lie because he is perfectly moral. Prayers are not answered therefore The Christian Biblical God does not exist.
God Is Imaginary is specifically arguing against the Biblical God and even says this in the first paragraph, “One way would be to find a contradiction between the definition of God and the God we experience in the real world.”
He’s showing a logical contradiction. God cannot fail to answer prayers, tell us he’s going to answer prayers, AND be incapable of telling a lie. Therefore if we show that God is not answering prayers either God is a liar (in which case he’s not the Biblical God), he hasn’t told us he’s going to answer prayers (in which case the Bible is untrue and the Biblical idea of God is false.
The Rational Choice then states that “He did not promise that He would give us whatever we desire.”
I was going to link to all the verses that explicitly say this, but I realize the God Is Imaginary already listed all the ones I was thinking of. The Rational Choice dismisses all of these by stating that these verses are “taken out of context”, and don’t actually mean what they say they mean. Jesus was just making a point about how God can use a tiny amount of faith to do impossible things.
It’s just a coincidence that in EVERY one of those verse, Jesus is illustrating this point by telling people that WHATEVER THEY ASK FOR THEY WILL GET. He wasn’t telling people that what they ask for is what they get, only that if they have faith then God can do great things……such as getting them whatever they ask for. Sorry, the context card is not going to work.
This was dismissed by The Rational Choice except to clarify “Also worthy to note here is that the writer seems to think that God must answer yes to every prayer…but where in the Bible does it ever say that? No where.”
But wait, a prayer is a request for God to do or give something, and Jesus in Matthew 21:21 “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
This is about as clear as saying a “God will answer yes to all your requests” so The Rational Choice is demonstrably wrong here once again.
The Rational Choice makes the point here about a non sequitur and this time he’s actually right. God is Imaginary’s point that other God stories and similar mythic tales to the Bible’s invalidate it does not follow, but it does point out a possible explanation for the Bible being a myth.
Okay maybe The Rational Choice’s charge of non sequiturs was more on the money that I originally was willing to admit. This proof from God is Imaginary did not show that God doesn’t exist because “science”, but like the previous one, it makes a point. Science has never been debunked or negated by anything remotely resembling a supernatural phenomenon, whereas the inverse is almost always true. Supernatural explanations get replaced with natural ones all the time.
The Rational Choice gives up here and screams “CONTEXT!” then moves on. Here’s the problem with this context argument, or any argument regarding the Bible. The Bible is not a coherent monolithic document. It is easily taken out of context and can be used in almost any fashion to justify any action or belief. So when someone gets it “wrong” it’s difficult not to see both sides of it, but to me that shows that this book is not divinely inspired also. The fact that it’s such a confusing collaboration of documents containing justifications for all sorts of actions. I think God Is Imaginary’s point that such a book doesn’t have the qualities of a divine document is accurate.
The Rational Choice is really good at dismissing or completely ignoring the point, and shoving it aside with a…rationalization. Here he quarrels with God is Imaginary’s use of Rick Warren’s particular theology. And again, he’s right that not every Christian agree with Rick Warren, but he missed the point.
The point is this. God has free will in choosing what type of universe to create, what type of people to create. He also has perfect knowledge. Knowing exactly what consequences his actions will cause. This illustrates that God knowingly created evil. Not just “the capacity for evil”. God directly, knowingly created evil. This is far from a perfect plan.
Here, God is Imaginary compares the extraordinary nature of the biblical claims to similar extraordinary claims to equate how we should approach these types of claims. The Rational Choice disregards this with “Just because the preceding stories are true/false, however, they have no bearing on the truth value of the succeeding story. He ends with another little rant against prayer.”
And while he’s right, he’s missed the point. One being false doesn’t make the other false, but the manor in which we dismiss one as false is the same manner in which we can safely dismiss Christianity as false.
We have equal amounts of evidence (none) to support the equally extraordinary claims, so we should dismiss them all equally.
To be honest here, I side with The Rational Choice on this one. God is Imaginary didn’t put forth a proof so much as he tried to debunk NDE as proof of God. I don’t really have much to say about this except that I don’t know much about NDE’s except what comes from hearsay evidence. I don’t think there is a scientific consensus about whether or not these actually occur.
Proofs 8 and 9
Nothing specifically addressed with these points because they are a reiteration of prayer.
I admit, I have come to a very different conclusion that I had hoped to on the onset of this quest. My hope was to show how erroneous apologetics can be, but I came to a different conclusion. Apologetics AND counter apologetics can both be erroneous. I knew this of course, but the theist pointed out some very good problems with the atheist’s arguments.
To me, this is important. We should seek to find flaws in arguments that we accept as valid. This is the heart of skepticism and why I will be focusing my efforts less on being anti-God, and more on being a rational skeptic. The two go together quite well because being skeptical naturally leads one to reject the claims of God that lack evidence, but my focus will be slightly more on promoting how to think better, rather than “how not to believe in that stupid God of yours.”