Atheists who were not the cream of the crop

Atheists who were not the cream of the crop November 16, 2014

Bored with Christianity, I’ve been poking around Muslim channels, curious as to what they’re saying. I always love the anecdotes where the religious person talks to atheists. This commenter discusses what’s basically a mini textual Muslim Chick tract.

I set up my own text formatting.

One of the scholars of Islaam, known as Abu Haneefah (d. 150H) once debated some atheists.

He asked them:

What do you say about someone who tells you that he had seen a loaded ship without a captain and a crew amidst a strong storm, but sailing well towards a safe harbour [ thereby saving itself]? Do you intelligently accept this?

They said: “Our reasoning cannot accept this“.

Abu Haneefah then commented:

If your reasoning does not accept the story of a ship without a leading crew, then how do you accept a whole universe with all its varied conditions and complex nature running without a Creator in full charge?

So the atheists were dumbfounded and came to believe in Allaah.

I would like to have a word with these supposed former atheists.

First and foremost, even if they did not have an answer to the question, why the conversion? Not knowing the answer merely means that one doesn’t know the answer. That doesn’t mean that Independent Proposition B is correct.

Why did they pick Islam? Why not Catholicism or Mormonism? Did they just pick the closest religious person in proximity, and go with that?

Secondly, I don’t grant the analogy.

First, within the analogy, there’s an apparent equivocation. Initially, I thought the ship was talking about the planet Earth… but the author seems to be switching to talking about the whole universe. Is the ship the planet or the universe?

If he’s talking about the universe, it’s not a “loaded ship”. Humanity’s occupation of the universe is almost incalculably small. If anything, the universe is “loaded ship” of hydrogen and black holes. If it’s the Earth, it isn’t “sailing well towards a safe harbor”… then again, neither is the universe. What is he talking about?

If anything, the atheists would be inclined to believe that there’s likely other life out there. Instead of being on a ship sailing towards safe harbor, the universe would be filled will hundreds of billions of ships, some of which have people, most of which don’t. Some of the ships with people on them get pummeled by meteors, which sometimes wipes out life, and sometimes leave some behind, which repopulates the planet. Of course the ships that are “sunk” (I guess I’ll continue the analogy) won’t have intelligent life on them to contemplate their existence. For all of us, we’re just hanging on for dear life, hoping for the luck of the draw.

Life on this planet is bound to be extinguished in about a billion years. At that point, we’re expecting the sun to initially swell, charring the planet. Maybe life will exist in subterranean alcoves? Is this the “safe harbor” he means? Were the previous 5 mass extinction events safe harbors?

I understand that these people may not accept the science behind these positions, but if the basis of the argument is asking the atheists what makes sense to them, wouldn’t their knowledge base be important? Or were they as scientifically illiterate as the scholar?

The author subtly inserts an Argument from Design that’s wrapped in an Argument from Ignorance. That is, since we don’t know how a universe with complex life could arise, let’s just go with Magic Man in the sky, as an explanation, and assert that it must be purposely set up the way it is, instead.

As usual, the apologist here is starting with an unfounded presupposition. He starts with the premise that complexity cannot exist unless it’s designed. It’s possible that complexity requires nature, not design. That’s what we see in demonstrable reality – that the only things we can actually confirm are designed, are simplistic compared to the surrounding nature. From what basis do these people assume that complexity cannot arise unless an intelligence is behind it?

Though, I don’t actually start with the premise that complexity requires nature. My approach is different. I acknowledge that complexity exists. Then, I ask, “how did this come to be?” Whatever explanation I accept will be sufficiently supported by evidence, otherwise, my belief-status on that question will remain “pending.”

Logical fallacies do not further knowledge.

Assuming these atheists that he talks about real, I think I’d chew them out before Abu Haneefah.


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