Christian Blind Faith? (Dialogue with a Blind Faith Atheist)

Christian Blind Faith? (Dialogue with a Blind Faith Atheist) October 25, 2015
Original title: “Blind Faith” (?): Dialogue with an Atheist, Challenged to Produce Any “Positive” Rational Evidence for Atheism (vs. Jon)
BlindMan'sBluff
Blindman’s Bluff at The Nephew’s Soiree; photograph by Willo Hausman, from A Christmas Carol (12-29-11) [Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0 license]
(4-6-12)
Jon is a former evangelical, now an atheist, with whom I have had cordial relations and a few amiable debates. He’s been at my house in a group discussion (and probably will again), and I’ve attended his atheist / agnostic group several times (being the main presenter once). His website is called Prove Me Wrong. Jon’s words will be in blue. The following is a condensed version of an exchange in one of my comboxes.
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Well we should get together again. So much we can talk about. Are you a science denying anti-evolutionist? Just kidding with the inflammatory language there. Does God exist? Does the Bible contain errors? Is it rational to believe Jesus rose? These are all fun topics.

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How about this one: you defend atheism without running down something (or anything) else: positive reasons for why you believe as you do. Is it possible? Will the universe self-destruct if an atheist doesn’t run down Christianity and the Bible to try to shore up his view? :-)

That would be a quick one though. Why don’t I believe in God? Same reason I don’t believe in unicorns. Because there’s no compelling evidence.

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What happens at that point is we start talking about evidences Christians like to offer and if I criticize them would I be breaking the rule to not run Christianity down? I’m actually pretty positive about Christianity, as you probably know. 

Why have a discussion then, if you can’t offer me one positive reason why anyone should be an atheist? If something is so indefensible, it obviously isn’t rational; therefore, no rational person should ever espouse it.

It’s just a basic rule of argumentation that I’m sure you know. The burden of proof falls to the one that makes the positive assertion.Let’s suppose I propose the existence of an extremely small polka dotted fish which happens to have knees, toes, and feathers. I say let’s have a discussion about why you don’t believe in it. Why don’t you believe in it? And if you have no argument other than that I haven’t provided any evidence, does that make your view indefensible and irrational?

Okay, so by thus implying that you have no positive assertion about atheism to make, you concede that atheism is such that it cannot be proven at all, since it has no positive assertion: a key element of “proof.”

Something that cannot be positively asserted, seems to me, to be logically reduced to mere irrationality and subjective mush. That being the case, no rational person should accept atheism; having no positive, rational proof for itself. It is only “not x.”

Even rejecting Christianity or theism in general (for whatever 10,000 “reasons” you can offer up) is no reason to adopt atheism (and you now describe yourself as an “atheist” on your blog, not an agnostic, as formerly).

To say, “x version of ‘God’ is nonexistent” is not the same as to say “no possible ‘God’ can or does exist.”

And having no reason for believing something is pure fideism: faith in faith, minus all reason. It requires far more faith and turning off one’s rational faculties than Christianity ever did, as I have contended for 30 years or more . . .

This is profound thinking that you give us. Imagine! All you can come up with is:

“I am an atheist for no reason other than that it rejects belief in imaginary things such as unicorns, goblins, dragons, and leprechauns (among which silly things are all Christian doctrines).”

I must confess that such depths of wisdom, insight, and “proof” are quite beyond me. But I trust that with further enlightenment from you I can at least grasp why any thinking person would adopt such a ridiculous worldview that amounts to merely claiming:

“I reject patently absurd things that clearly don’t exist, but have nothing positive to offer anyone in favor of my alleged belief-system. All I can do is spend my time running down myths.” 

Actually I agree with you based on the way I think you are defining atheism. I can’t prove there is no God with certainty, if you mean any kind of God. I don’t pretend I can. When I say I’m an atheist I just mean it the same way I mean I don’t believe in unicorns.

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I wasn’t asking for that, but rather, for any positive arguments and reasons whatsoever . . . you have conceded that you can’t even offer that, which is quite extraordinary.

I can’t really prove it,. . .

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Nor, apparently, give any rational evidence whatsoever in favor of it (by your own virtual admission) . . .

but I believe it anyway.

Exactly! That is the very essence of a fideistic true believer: something I have never been and never will be, because I value reason far too much.

Thanks very much for your honest confession that an atheist can give no reason for anyone else to be an atheist other than rejecting “the belief in leprechauns and unicorns” (ho hum; big wow; yawn . . . zzzz)

Rarely has a debate been so easy . . . :-)

It’s not fideism. It’s a rational belief based on the available evidence.

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It is irrational mush, and a form of fideism.

Generally it’s very hard, sometimes practically impossible, to prove a universal negative. But we are still rational to reject the belief in leprechauns and unicorns. Maybe for you that means I’m an agnostic, not an atheist. I have no problem with that.
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Just so you know, when I invoke unicorns I don’t mean it in a mocking way. Is that believable? I hope so. That’s actually why I invoked a fish with odd features. I want to talk about the existence or non-existence of something neither of us believe in just so I can understand what qualifies as proof of the non-existence of a thing in your mind. Unicorns imply childish belief, and I don’t think belief in God is childish and I don’t want to mock it. So I just want to be clear about that.

Let’s just say a fish with an odd feature. Say feathers. When you quote me above saying “I believe it” what I’m saying is I believe that there is no such thing as a fish with odd feathers. How about you? Do you believe in fish with feathers? I assume no. What if someone said this made you a fideist? Because you can’t prove there are no fish with feathers, right? You can’t scoop all the fish out of the ocean and check. So why do you disbelieve in fish with feathers when you can’t prove it?

Really, explain the logical process that leads you to the conclusion that there are no feathered fish. I think the logic is not fideistic and leads you directly to the logic that leads me to belief in the non-existence of God.

I appreciate that you don’t have a mocking intent. Neither do I. My sarcasm can get rather barbed at times, but it always has a serious polemical (socratic) intent.I believe certain things, and I have reasons for why I believe them.

You can’t tell me why you believe what you do (i.e., in a positive and non-negative way, as I have challenged you to do): have not yet given any positive, pro-active rationale. All you can do is tell me what you don’t believe, and to some extent, why.

You are spectacularly proving my point: that atheism is perfectly irrational and unworthy of allegiance on the same basis.

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