Thursday, October 24, 2013

One more waste of time

The genuine reason why I have no interest in 'converting' an atheist:

Trying to convince an atheist that God exists is like trying to sell them water when they'd rather purchase beer.

I have this odd propensity to watch YouTube videos by atheists, and debates about atheism versus theism. I already know there's no resolution. I already know that all interested parties have preconceived conclusions (including me, of course) despite their insistence of the verity of their infallible personal logic. I already know that even viewing these intellectualized shenanigans is ultimately a waste of valuable time.

But I just can't help it.

I think the impetus for gawking at them is quite similar to my occasional guilty indulgence in a Jerry Springer episode; the heated spectacle is amusing in its futility. Call it morbid fascination, but there it is. Understand this: by calling attention to this foible of mine, don't imagine that I believe it acceptable. I'm as ashamed of my amusement in this area as I'm entertained by said spectacle.

There is a particular video, starring Mr. Hemant Mehta, that lists the "15 things to NEVER say to an atheist," which I watched this morning. More important than the items I'm about to address, I'd say the two most significant aspects of his video are the sarcastic intonation that accents his delivery, and his overconfidence in his approach to the issue. The issue being, of course, the validation of atheism by theists. Nevermind that for someone truly confident in his belief, that sort of validation is not required.

Here is a link to the video:  Advice from a "friendly" atheist

Because I am weak, and I just can't help but waste more of my time, I will now address each of the 15 things, in the briefest manner I can muster.

1) "Where do you get your MORALITY?" 
Jews and Christians don't assume atheists are lacking morals; they just recognize that the morals of the atheist do not intentionally come from God. The concept that all human beings can effectively follow their own moral codes and still coexist peacefully is wishful thinking and displays a lack of understanding about human proclivities. The believer attempts to follow the moral code as set by God, thus removing the torture of self-doubt regarding the unpredictable nature of individual morality.

2) "Your life must be so EMPTY."
Emptiness in one's life occurs when one believes something is missing. Human beings are not always able to pinpoint the cause of their emptiness. They make assumptions about what causes it, and what can relieve it. The believer in God believes that the big picture questions, such as "What is the purpose of life?" merit at least some effort to try and arrive at an answer. For the atheist, the answer is easy: the world is entirely subjective, so of course the meaning of it all is only that which the individual ascribes.

3) "Why are you MAD at God?"
Atheists, for the most part, can't be mad at something they don't believe exists. If they are mad at anything, it's the annoying concept that they are answerable to an entity placed higher than them in the whole of existence.

4) "You can't DISPROVE God."
Attempting to prove the existence of God is a fool's endeavor. God has deliberately hidden Himself on purpose, and human beings are not supposed to be able to physically qualify His existence. For the atheist, this concept provides much amusement, because they're not interested in exploring the reason God would purposely do such a thing, only in laughing at the alleged ignorance of the believer. Comparing God to Zeus is like an orphan comparing one's unknown biological father to Santa Claus; that's why believers dismiss the idea so easily.

5) "What if you're WRONG?"
According to the Hebrew and Greek scriptures, God would never punish an individual for sincerely seeking the truth about existence. Believers, for the most part, do think about the nature of the god they believe in. Most don't enjoy the prospect of questioning their own beliefs however, and therefore unfortunately don't give much credence to Christ's earnest support of asking the hard questions. Fear is no substitute for the confidence that any genuine truth will withstand all attempts to debunk it. The atheist thinks he or she embraces this challenge by indulging in texts that support the atheist position. The concept of shame is not one atheists (and materialists, for that matter) care to entertain. So, instead of punishment, perhaps the atheist might consider how they may see themselves eventually, if their spiritual worldview just happened to be incorrect. Incorrect in relation to the Being that gave them the greatest gift of all and sustained every beat of their hearts while being scoffed at and relegated to non-importance. Ingratitude of epic proportion.

6) "You just have to have FAITH!"
Having faith in God and using one's mind are not mutually exclusive. Proclaiming that critical thought is the only path to understanding, and that faith is the product of a closed mind, are only logically connected for a person who views a belief in God as ignorant. This is easily rebutted by the existence of great minds in history and in current academic circles that believe God exists. Not completely understanding a mystery is not a cop-out; it's simple honesty (just ask Lawrence Krauss). Indeed, believing in something just "because I want to and it makes me feel good" is a dumb reason to believe in something; and that includes those who feel better about believing that the God of the Hebrews does not exist, in order to be accountable only to themselves.

7) "Just OPEN your HEART."
Aluminum tin foil hats notwithstanding, Hemant is correct. No one is ever going to be able to provide indisputable physical proof of God's existence. The atheist's heart isn't so much closed to God, but open to anything else but God. Hemant's claim to being open to the possibility is a perfunctory lie, as demonstrated by the sarcasm in the video.

8) "You were never REALLY religious."
The claim about "a lot of atheists" coming from "religious" families is more anecdote than fact, but yes, some atheists do emerge from believing families. The same is true for the inverse; some Christians emerge from non-believing families (just ask William Lane Craig). These anomalies are only indicative of the existence of free will in the individual. Religion has never been equal to faith in God; religions are a man-made framework for the formalized worship of God. An atheist's guarantee on these matters is just as reliable or unreliable as a believer's guarantee. One of the most common proclamations of a Jerry Springer guest is, "You don't know me!" Yes, most of the viewers don't know Hemant Mehta personally; does this mean they are incapable of any kind of profiling accuracy? Not necessarily.

9) "What happened in your CHILDHOOD?"
Just like a theist, an atheist's childhood wasn't necessarily traumatic for the individual to believe what he or she believes. However, the simple armchair psychologist's observation that one's relationship with one's father is often similar to how one views God, is often not far off base. The mistake atheists may be making in this regard is that the father-child relationship has to be riddled with trauma. Trauma is not necessary; the true inner intentions of the grown individual are evidence enough.

10) "Have you read the BIBLE?"
At the risk of being arrogant, I must declare Hemant's guarantee in this section of the video to be of very little worth. While it is true that many Christians are unfortunately not curious enough to read the text that their own beliefs are based on, through the years I have personally spoken to several atheists, and their knowledge of the Bible is always lacking in terms of applied knowledge. Most of their information comes not from the actual text of the Bible, but in other texts written about the Bible; texts usually created for the purpose of debunking the Bible, not understanding it.

11) "I will PRAY for you."
Of course prayer to a god that doesn't exist would have very little value to an atheist. However, the atheist's reduction of the prayer to worthless and irritating waste of time is merely indicative of the atheist's typical (and often denied) antagonism toward the value the believer places in his or her belief.

12) "Do you worship the DEVIL?"
The wrong assumptions of the few are not representative of the many. However, as Satan's persona seems to change from tempter to destroyer between the Old and New Testaments, it would be prudent to observe that there could be more involved in one's choices than one's own subjectively flawed logic.

13) "You must be AGNOSTIC."
All I can say in response to this issue is, "who cares?" This particular section of the video sounds oddly similar to the whole debate between homosexuals, bisexuals, and transgender individuals; e.g. the homosexual judgmentally declaring that the bisexual is irritating and not being honest about his or her sexuality.

14) "Isn't atheism a RELIGION?"
Of course atheism is not a religion. Of course it is a rejection of the existence of God. Atheism is a belief system however, based on the materialist ethos that if you can't experience something with the five senses, or physically qualify it in a lab, then it can't possibly exist.

15) "Why are you so ANGRY?"
The truth about atheist ire: they're angry because, for various reasons, they don't want to live in a universe that is created by God of the Hebrew scriptures. Hemant was not being honest with himself; he indeed has a beef with the higher power. That's where the following cognitive dissonance comes in:

  * "People do a lot of crazy things in the name of God"; but what about the vastly greater number of crazy things people do with no connection to God at all?

  * "Passing laws that restrict LGBT rights or women's rights"; these are the actions of the politically conservative, not necessarily the actions of a Jew or Christian, per se. Hemant is confusing conservative political activism with the religious affiliations they use to achieve their legislative goals. In the hands of a politician, religion is just one more useful means to an end.

  * "Bad science curriculum decisions"; this is most likely a reference to the desire to include Intelligent Design as a companion study alongside unguided evolution. This is an entirely different discussion, but suffice it to say that open-mindedness is more claimed than demonstrated by the most adamant evolutionary biologists.

  * "Revisionist history curriculums"; and these would be what? The only blatant revisionist history I'm aware of is the repainting of historical figures and events with the joyless strokes of the pernicious nihilist.

  * Hemant "value[s] the truth, and value[s] people's rights." Of course he values the truth; his subjective version of it, just like everyone else on the planet. Of course he values human rights; this is the rallying squawk of anyone who thinks the way to change people's minds is to scare them with lawyers and pseudo-intellectualizing the real issue, which is who has the freedom to think what.

  * "The Christians in power often don't value human rights"; let's see how that assertion stacks up against the next person who decides to walk into an abortion clinic because the living tissue inside her is not really a human being until a particular group of people declare it so.

  * "Talk to an atheist"; sure, why not? They're as interesting or boring as anyone else. Just don't expect them to look away from the mirror and become interested in the creator of their universe.

  * "Try to get rid of the stereotypes from your mind"; good advice, perhaps Hemant should take it as well.

  * "It's offensive, it's disrespectful in a lot of cases and it shows that you assume a lot of things about us"; I can only speculate the degree of cognitive dissonance present that prevents Hemant from seeing these qualities in his own point of view.