Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Not believing in something does NOT mean you believe that opposite is true.

Not believing in something does NOT mean you believe that opposite is true. 

Of course I get told often that this is not correct. I get told that because I do not believe there is a god, I must necessarily believe there is NO god. I recently had someone block me on twitter because I was trying to show them this isn’t true.

It seems The Theist [i] is so determined to make atheism a belief or ‘faith’ on its own that they’re prepared to simply make stuff up about it. It’s an interesting strategy to reply to ‘Your faith makes no sense’ with ‘...yeah well you have faith too!’ rather than actually presenting an argument defending the reason for having faith. It’s almost as though they recognise that their position is so weak that it can’t be defended so their only alternative is to drag atheism down to the faith level, because then suddenly ‘we’re all the same’.

But that’s not the purpose of this post. This post will demonstrate that the statement - ‘If you don’t believe something, you believe the opposite is true’ – is false.

The existence of god is binary (but not necessarily a 50/50 chance). Either god[ii] exists, or god does not. Another binary possibility is the flipping of a standard coin. A coin has an obverse side and a reverse side. These are pretty much universally known as Heads and Tails.

If I flip a coin, catch it, and place it on the back of my hand, it is going to be either Heads side up, or Tails side up. They are the only possibilities.

So imagine I flip the coin, catch it, place it on the back of my other hand and keep the coin hidden from your view in the traditional style. But rather than ask you to guess before I immediately reveal the result, I simply tell you that the coin is heads. 

Would you believe me? I hope you respond with ‘of course not’. Why would you? I’ve kept the result hidden not only from you, but also from myself. I have no way of knowing which way the coin has landed and neither do you. So the logical and only reasonable response is to say no, you don’t believe me. Of course I could claim to ‘know’ that the coin has landed heads up. I could say that I was foretold that it would happen that way. I could say that I’ve got a really old book that tells me about coins landing heads. Hey, you might even just find I have a trustworthy look about me and that you just ‘want’ to believe me, or you may even feel that the consequence of believing me and being wrong is so small that you’re simply happy to say you believe me. But none of these things would give you good enough reason to believe me.

Now let’s agree you’ve said, and with good reason, that you don’t believe me that the coin is heads. The next question is – does that mean you necessarily believe the coin is tails? Again the right response is - of course not. Nothing you have said indicates that you believe coin is tails. All you’ve said is what you do NOT believe,  not what you do believe. Sound familiar?

The god/no god debate is the same. The claim is that god exists (the coin has landed heads) – and then the question: do you believe me? With no satisfactory reason to think the claim is true (despite any assertions the claimant might make), the answer is no, I do not believe that god exists (I do not believe the coin is heads). Does that mean I believe god does NOT exist (that the coin has landed tails)? No it does not. It simply means the claimant has not provided sufficient evidence to make their claim believable. Take note – ‘Their’ claim. Their claim is ‘A god exists’. This claim says nothing about god NOT existing. And since the claim says nothing about god not existing, the response of ‘no, I don’t believe you’ says nothing about my stance on god not existing.

Bottom line is – my lack of belief in the claims that there is a god does NOT mean I believe there is no god.

[i] This is a term I’m going to use for a generic amalgamation of the theists I encounter, mainly on twitter. When I use this term I’m not saying this applies to ALL theists or that what I’m writing about in one post applies to the same theist I was writing about in a previous post. It’s a way I’m going to say ‘Some of the theists I’ve encountered’ but in fewer words.
[ii] I was indoctrinated into Catholicism as an infant before coming back to atheism later on in life and I live in a western democracy that’s population is largely Christian so when I think ‘god’ I’m thinking Yahweh – god of the Christians and the Jews (l admire Richard Dawkins’ description of the Old Testament god). But I use the term generically. Like ‘The Theist’ I’m using ‘god’ as a short way to say ‘gods or goddesses’. 

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Yahweh loves me...right?

Yahweh loves me...right? This is what I hear a lot from Christians. Even though I'm an atheist, Yahweh loves me.  

The thing is, according to common Christian views, I'm still going to burn in hell. I get told this is my fault because I've been given free will. That's right - Yahweh has given me free will to decide whether or to believe in him. But should I use that free will to not believe in him, John 4:16 means I don't get to heaven. (Believe in me or burn forever! - Hardly what you'd call a fair choice)

The problem is, again given a common Christian version of events, that Yahweh allowed me, knowingly - because he's  omniscient, to be created without the ability to believe in him. You see I don't 'choose' to not believe in Yahweh - I'm not capable of it. The arguments presented to me for Yahweh's existence are not what I find convincing. One doesn't choose what they do and don't believe. I like to point out that I cannot believe in Yahweh just as a Christian cannot choose to believe I *am* Yahweh. 

Yet many Christians are still of the belief that this 'Yahweh' loves me. 

I have people I love and I would do whatever I could to prevent them from burning for eternity. My question to the Christian is this - Does Yahweh have the power to prevent me from burning in hell, even though I don't believe in him? If so, why does he not invoke this power? I am a human being that he 'loves', right? Remember, I'm not 'choosing' to not believe in him, I've been created without the ability to do it and this happened under his watch. 

Yahweh is omniscient so he knows what it takes for each individual to believe he is real. Presumably he knows this for me too. He has, for billions of Juedo/Christians, convinced them he's real. But not me?  As I type this I have no belief that Yahweh exists and no belief that the pathway to him is through Jesus. If this whole bible, Jesus, Yahweh thing is true, I'm hell bound.

So given I'm going to hell, and I'm doing so with Yahweh knowing, before I was conceived, let alone born, that this would be the case, - because he allowed me to exist without the ability to believe in him, and given that he could correct this situation in an instant if he wished - how exactly is he showing that he loves me?