Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What if you're wrong about your atheism?

A good question!
This could be a really looooong answer, but I'm going to boil it down.

I could be wrong. There. That's that. See ya later.

But seriously, the only way we have to make decisions is to place your money on the best bet. If you were in a casino and wanted to make some money, your wagers would reflect (hopefully) the best odds of winning. Oh sure, people say they "know" stuff about God, but ultimately that statement is based on a feeling (see my recent post on the problems of making decisions on feeling and personal revelation).

Well, the Theists will argue, you can't prove there isn't a God. My response has been traditionally something like, "Look, I'm not the one making the outrageous statements like: the world was made in 6 days, a world wide flood occurred, or a man died and was brought back from the dead. When you make statements like that you have to back them up with proof. I could tell you the world was made by Magikal Green Hamsters and you would raise an eyebrow and say prove it."

For the sake of argument let's say there is a God. Which god should I go with? I was brought up Baptist but I think it would be arrogant of me to assume the Christian God is automatically the One. What criteria should I use to judge one god against the other? Popularity? Nifty accessories?

Ultimately, I can live my life morally without a god looking over my shoulder. My big secret? I try not to be a dick to other people. That seems to cover a lot of bases.

Ask me anything


  1. Interesting post. Of course the religious will present the argument because they know the answer ahead of time, it cannot be answered.

    I just take the line of flipping it up on them. How do they KNOW their god exists?

  2. As a fellow atheist, I agree. I think it's easier to rule out a particular religion than to rule out the existence of any god or gods whatsoever. For instance, a careful review of the New Testament authors' use of passages in the Old Testament will show that they often misinterpreted texts to use them as prophecies of Christ's coming. For instance, read in it's original context, the passage in Isaiah which the NT authors cite as predicting a Messiah who will be born of a virgin, actually referred to someone who would be born of a maiden - and more importantly, he would be born a short time after the prophecy was given as a sign to the king - not hundreds of years later. Reading other supposed Christ prophecies in their original context will reveal similar truths: The old testament authors did not predict the coming of Christ. This amounts to more than contradictions in the bible. It rules out any sort of Christian perspective except those which are theologically liberal to the point where they essentially boil down to Christian Atheism. Disproving the existence of God involves attempting to prove a negative, which is impossible. This is just one of many similar arguments which can be made that demonstrates the falsehood of Christianity. Disproving a religious perspective which provides a variety of claimed truths which can be evaluated, pitted against each other, and disproven, is actually not that difficult.

  3. @Frank: Actually Pascal left out many options:

    god may punish his followers.
    god doesn't care either way.
    It's the wrong god, thus the "true" god punishes you.

  4. "Magikal Green Hamsters" → LOL

    I've long enjoyed Dawkins' retort to the same question ( link ) ever since I saw it. It went like this: "'What if I'm wrong?' What if you're wrong about the Great Juju at the bottom of the sea?" Would a devoted Christian admit they might be wrong about the Great Juju or Magikal Green Hamsters as you have admitted that you might be wrong about there being a god? Doubtful.


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