Sunday, July 25, 2010

Intellectual Honesty

I love the above picture simply because it represent the most common misconception of atheism--namely that atheism is a philosophy in and of itself, such a misrepresentation amounts to little more than religious polemic against atheism and a thinly veiled straw-man. Which begs the question--who is more honest--atheists or believers?

In a conversation over at another blog, I had mentioned that Christian apologists bend the truth in their favor every chance they get. We can guess the reason for this is because they want to validate their "truth" claim about God's existence. Although, this only amounts to theological arguments designed to 'sound' convincing because their is no readily available evidence which could easily prove, in a second, what apologists try so desperately hard to. This is why it is call "Apologestics" after all.

Following my statements that apologists bend the truth, I offered that, in the religious discourse involving all forms of rhetoric, it would be an unfair double standard not to allow atheists to do the same. Granted, bending the truth here is in reference to making one's rhetoric persuasive, making the "truth claim" all the more believable, but ultimately has no impact on the truth of the matter.

A Christian friend offered that I was simply being unfair by implying Christians were dishonest, and reversed my questioning, offering:

"Atheist apologists bend the truth in their favor every chance they get. To expect Christians not to be allowed to do the same is a double standard."

Oh, I agree. I wasn't saying that atheists never lie. But I was making a distinction... atheists aren't the one's claiming God exists. We're not saying there is all this evidence which, to our dismay, nobody rightly sees... but ignore this small set back... God is real--just take it from us. That's exactly the opposite of what atheists are saying. So atheists aren't at fault--since it's not up to us to qualify the theist statement about God's existence.  

In fact, I think we could agree that Christians, being theists, make the truth claim "God exists" their core defense for faith. Because if God wasn't real, then faith would be unjustified. So a lot hinges on the claim. The question "Does God exist?" arises, however, due to a lack of convincing support. 

So the question remains unanswered. Nobody knows either way, for 100% certainty, if God exists. I mean, if somebody did know for sure that "God exists" then they would win the Nobel Prize for Theology for proving God's existence beyond a reason of a doubt. This has not occurred.

Basically my point amounted to this: when it comes to the truth claim that "God exists" atheists are being truthful in stating that such isn't so. It simply hasn't been proved.

Because the claim to know God exists is not yet proved, we know that, yes, it is an insincere statement whenever a Christian espouses God is real.

Atheists who say a deity is 100% non-existent may be jumping the gun too, since we can't know if some nebulous deity, some form of a god, exists or not... but we can cite how improbable and far-fetched it is. We would still be justified in not believing in it.

But let's not fall back onto citing that vague perception of a deity and then force it into the framework of our faith--if the deist concept of god turns out to be real then this is distinctly NOT the Christian God. 

What I think most atheists are saying is that your *specific God (e.g. the Christian God of the Bible) does not exist. I think this claim, that the Christian God is erroneous, has an abundance of support. And more importantly, is in no danger of being refuted.

So I see no problem with atheist integrity on this point. Whereas I find most Christians are putting all their faith in the hope that it's true--and then claiming ad hoc that because they feel it's true, it is. This is simply circular reasoning--and doesn't suffice when making blatant truth claims.

Either God exists or he doesn't. Since there is no tangible evidence, and anything which Christians tout as evidence is spurious at best, I think we can safely assume atheists aren't the ones who have to worry about the "truth" of the matter. Furthermore, you can't assume to be proved correct when you have absolutely no trustworthy evidence, no proof to speak of, and say it is the truth. This simply amounts to a falsehood and wishful thinking. A noted delusion.

When it comes to the question of God, the atheist has *nothing to lose.

I predict the Christian rebuttal might be, "Unless God turns out to be real... then atheists are in heaps of trouble!" But then that's assuming, A) that God is real (more useless conjecture at this point), and B) it presumes too much since you're claiming to know God's mind is made up about concerning all atheists--and that's dishonest to the core.

And I've already mentioned how the Bible can't be trusted... so to say the "Bible told me so..." is just begging the question.

Yet when the atheist points out that the Bible is faulty, that the Christians concept of God is flawed, and that Christians presume to know to much, and by sheer observation is doesn't seem like God exists... this is being honest with what reality depicts.

I'm not saying atheists never lie. Nor am I saying that Christians don't have an honest bone in their body. These are simply unfounded stereotypes. Besides this, I was once a Christian and my integrity, my desire to know the truth, lead me to atheism simply for the sheer fact that it was the only position which didn't leave me with any cognitive dissonance. Whereas Christian apologetics depends on one's ability to constantly suspend their disbelief. 

Honesty is vital if we're ever going to discover the unadulterated truth, and that's all I'm saying.

Advocatus Atheist

Advocatus Atheist