Recently, Dave, the pastor from a church in England who I have addressed before, has been on a tear to insist that atheists are wrong. As usual, an atheist can’t comment on his posts and they are evidently intended on preaching to his own flock, so that they don’t know what the facts are about atheists and atheism. His latest couple of posts focus on a common point that many atheists make: that a Christian or any other theist, is an atheist to every other god claimed *but* their own. These theists, for various reasons, deny the existence of gods that other humans have no trouble believing in at all.
The discussion starts out with Dave making an interesting claim, that no one can believe in his “one true God” without this god revealing itself to that person “belief in the one true God can only come through revelation as he speaks to you, reveals his true character and causes you to see your need for him”. That certainly shoots the common, but not universal, Christian claim of free will. If I don’t believe, it’s not my fault, it’s this god who damns me to eternal torture just *because*. He claims that the revelation is in the bible, which does bring up quite a few problems; foremost that even Christians don’t agree on the true character of this god, what it wants, what it does, what parts of the bible are literal or not, and what it takes to be “saved”. I do appreciate him in giving a pair of instances where the fact that Christians don’t agree and even this god can’t get them to agree is shown so well.
The pastor doesn’t seem to get the intent of pointing out that he only believes in one god and that he is atheist to ever other one. This line of argument is to point out that, despite the fact that all theists have the same evidence for their god: none, they all insist that theirs exists and no others do. When they claim that a non-believer in their god can’t definitively prove that their god doesn’t exist then so it *must* exist, they forget that this would mean that they can’t definitively prove other gods don’t exist either, and thus we have a bunch of theists who are stuck with believing in a lot of gods. Claiming that they have a “one true god” is no more meaningful than the next theist claiming exactly the same thing.
Dave also claims that “the atheist would not want us to put his “no god” option alongside the 3000 “god” options for comparison and with good reason” which is not true at all. It would be a bit silly since then one would be trying mightly to compare apples to oranges. My conclusion that there are no gods, including the Christian one, is based on the fact that there has never been any evidence for any of the gods claimed to exist, and no evidence of any of the essential events that define these religions. I can show that entirely different events happened rather than what is claimed in the myths of religions. The claim of “potential truth” is nothing more than the Russell’s Teapot argument. There is potentially a teapot in orbit around Jupiter, but that potential, aka probability is very very small. When one adds more and more detail about the teapot, that it is an Edwardian silver tea set, complete with tea tray, made by Oneida, and it has three sugar lumps in the sugar bowl, the probabiilty gets smaller and smaller. In that the gods of most, if not all, religions have just as much detail, and those details can be examined and tested, the probability of those gods goes down too, until, this god becomes some vague critter, living under a rock on Ceti Alpha 5, and nothing like the gods that humans claim to worship.
Dave is right that one certainly doesn’t have to counter each example to demonstrate the truth of one’s position. What he forgets is that one has to go through at least a few of the examples to show why one should believe in one particular god and not another. He proposes to sort gods into those you should worship and those you shouldn’t. And we can see there this is going, where his god fits his definition of what a “god” is and everyone else’s god doesn’t. How convenient. Nothing like stacking the deck in one’s favor.
It is no surprise that he cannot show that his monotheism is any better than polytheism, pantheism, or panentheism. He also cannot show that his god, one often claimed that one can know it, have a relationship with it, but is at the same time immanent as well as transcendent, is better than a distant and unknowable god or one that is no longer around anymore. He dismisses other god options for no discernable reason other than they are not his version.
Curiously claiming that the discussion is now only between people who do believe in his god, Dave abandons us atheists. Which is a little odd since he started out criticizing the atheist’s view of things. For him, the priority it that the “right” god is being talked about, and that everyone knows this god “correctly” and worship it properly. He also goes onto try to misrepresent the idea of polytheism, assuming that all polytheistic religion believe the exact same thing. No, polytheistic religions do not often have some magical divine force over all of the other gods, including the creator gods. Some do, and some have each god being responsible for some part of reality. And the last of his things supposedly worth consideration, the false claim that everyone, no caveats, has to answer the question he poses: ““Do you believe in an eternal, personal, loving God who created the World, continues to sustain it?” My goodness, it’s about as honest a question as “Have you stopped beating your wife?” It’s quite amusing to watch him try to assume such attributes are the best, have no evidence for this, and then try to force people to give him a yes, or be seen as worshipping the gods he has tried to define as bad, ol’ nasty gods.
He goes onto claim that only his version of the Christian god has these “vital” attributes: “such as love, sovereignty, wisdom, holiness etc” Alas, there is no evidence that Dave’s god is personal or knowable at all, especially since Christians don’t agree on its attributes. Nothing to say that any of these are “vital” e.g. required at all. All that is being denied is something that has no evidence for it at all, and it can be pointed out that other gods are certainly claimed to be loving, sovereign, wise, holy, etc. For all of the claims of this god “clearly reveals himself to all as the eternal, loving, just, sovereign, personal God” to everyone, that’s simply one more baseless claim. We can just look at the thousands and thousands of sects of Christianity, plus other religions to know this to be the case.
The claimed “logical misteps” are all added by Dave as strawmen and needed by pastors and priest to deceive their flocks. They do their best to poison the well, and all for their own benefit. To claim that there is only one ever one question “Do you or don’t you believe in God?” requires an assumption that there is only one god and it’s just like Dave claims it is, with no evidence at all. That’s not very logical.
Dave follows this gem up with an even better one, about the Flying Spaghetti Monster. He does finally seem to get that most, if not all other religions, claim that “that its god made the Universe, controls it answers prayer etc.” He doesn’t quite seem to get that the FSM is satire and he has evidently not done one bit of research into what the FSM is. I’m wondering if he’s as fearful of looking into it, as he is looking into other religions because he’ll find the reasons for his religion so much the same and so very poorly supported.
Unfortunately, he builds his claim on the lack of logic in the prior post, where he makes incorrect claims about other religions, and ends up demanding that one must believe in his god alone. He claims that the FSM is not a “unique additional option out of 3000 gods”. This seems to be arguing that uniqueness is a feature of his god and that is reason to believe in it. However, the Christian god, in all of its variants, isn’t unique at all, and if it were unique, that attribute still does not mean it exists. It is a creator god, common in Bronze/Iron Age mythologies, it requires blood sacrifice, it evidently was part of a bunch of gods considering archaeology that shows that the early Canaanites/Israelites have their god having a wife, and we do have the bible having this god speaking to others when its wanting the tree of life to be kept out of the hands of Adam and Eve, so they don’t become just like those gods. It requires obedience to rules, it needs temples, gold and young girls as war prizes. It is ignorant of what it can’t see in some places and supposedly omniscient in others. It has a physical existence, having feet to stand on, and a backside to see. It is petty, greedy and murderous and it can’t even succeed in fulfilling the definition of love that its supposed holy book gives.
Now, if one knows about the Flying Spaghetti Monster, one knows that it isn’t just a “ball of spaghetti”; it’s a made-up entity initially create to show how ridiculous creationism/intelligent design is. Either Dave is indeed as ignorant about the FSM as I’ve indicated above, or he is intentionally giving misinformation about a deity that is made of spaghetti, has a beer volcano and a stripper factory (yes, the human kind of stripper). If the latter is the case, it is most curious that he thinks he has to make the FSM sound more ridiculous. Is he that frightened?
Again, Dave tries to claim that his version of his god, for which he has no evidence, is better than the “ball of spaghetti” (hereafter called BOS) because it is an “active, personal loving God”. Now, if one takes the various Pastafarian writings about the FSM (not a “ball of spaghetti) seriously, the FSM is indeed an active, personal and loving god, because it gives us a heaven with beer and strippers. Dave hilariously tries to claim that the BOS is somehow an impersonal god. I hate to tell him it’s just pasta. Since we have no evidence at all that Dave’s version of the Christian god intentionally created anything, much less “human beings out of grace to be loved by it and to love it back”, there is no reason to think that it any better than the BOS.
There is no more reason to believe, or to doubt the FSM as there is for Dave’s god. If we must assume the possible existence of one, and as many Christians insist accept that as evidence that it *must* exist, then we must also assume the existence of the FSM, and thus it must exist too. I do wonder where Dave got this out of a religion or out of science since it doesn’t appear in any one of those as far as I know (if anyone knows of a myth that says universe started from accident out of chaos, please do tell me). I’m guessing that Dave has no idea what the Big Bang is describing and is trying one more false claim to misinform his flock.
Humans don’t live in a world of monster or beasts (unless you simply mean just animals). Some people act monstrous but they aren’t monsters like the hydra, Godzilla, Grendel, Grendel’s Mother, dragons, rocs, harpies, the mysterious Leviathan and beasts in the bible, etc. Humans have survived pretty well, and we have taken on disease, war, etc doing our best to lessen and hopefully stop them. Human effort is required, no god needed to survive. We may indeed be accidental by-products of the universe as Dave tries to claim as a bad thing. It’s up to us to give meaning to humanity, not depend on some spook who can’t even get its message straight to its believers.
Dave claims we have a “choice” between his version of his god, claimed to be active (what does it do? Evidence please), loving (it can’t even come up to the standards in 1 Corinthians 13), creator (evidence please), and a world where we are just here by accident. No, we have a choice to believe in other gods, just as valid as Dave’s, including other version of the Christian god. We can be agnostics. We can be atheists who have no problem in being a supposed accident, who find meaning in our lives with no problem. Dave is right, in a way. One may as well be an atheist as believe in his BOS or his god; none of them do anything for humans despite baseless claim after baseless claim from all religions. It’s up to us to take care of ourselves and each other.