Sunday, August 17, 2008

Though I walk through the valley

If you have ever wondered what happened to Kirk Cameron, the teen star of the 1980's sitcom "Growing Pains", this is what he is doing now. He and an associate are enthusiastic advocates for an overzealous brand of Christianity, and they have their own religious program called “The Way of the Master”.

I am a militant atheist, but I find Cameron’s program extremely entertaining and I watch it just for fun. I get a real kick out of the bold claims made on the program, and the lame and logically fallacious arguments that are offered in support of those bold claims. I don't mean for that to sound too harsh, I respect Cameron's beliefs, as he and others should respect my right to challenge those beliefs.

There are two major claims that are made on the show which I want to briefly address. All the wording is mine, but I have tried to summarize their arguments as fairly as I could:

Claim 1: God exists. We know this because creation exists. If you see a painting, the existence of the painting is proof of the existence of a painter. The same logic applies to the existence of creation and the existence of God.

This argument shoots itself in the foot. I presume that anyone who buys into the above painting analogy would assert that God created the painter. So, who created God? Obviously, this argument sets up an infinite regress and relies on God to terminate it. I’ll put my money on the Big Bang over God as the end point of the regress, thanks.

Claim 2: No one has enough knowledge to be an atheist. Most people who claim to be atheists are really agnostics because no one can disprove the existence of God. It takes more faith to be an atheist than to believe in God.

This argument is an intellectually corrupt word game. You cannot logically disprove a negative; this is why the person making the positive claim has the burden of proof in our justice system. I cannot disprove that invisible gremlins follow me around like the Verizon network everywhere I go, but it is ridiculous to pretend that the possibility that such gremlins exist is on equal footing with the non-existence of said gremlins. It does not make sense to say that you are agnostic about the existence of Smurfs, Santa Claus, Zeus, H.R. Pufinstuf, the tooth fairy or any number of other man-made creations of the imagination. We know that that likelihood of any of those things existing is impossibly small. To suggest that we are relying on faith to dismiss the existence of the tooth fairy, for example, is ridiculous.

Somewhere I read something that can be paraphrased as follows: with respect to most Gods that mankind has created, we are all atheists. Some of us just take it one God further.

Amen to that. Here is required reading on this general topic.


Anonymous said...

I find your mockery of Mr. Cameron's faith to be a little below decency. You're entitled to your position (atheist) but you're corssing the line a little with your post.

I think the meaning of the painting analogy is that it took a creator to create a painting, which is a fairly simply object, in general terms. Yet, you think that the entire universe, with all of its complexities, just somehow spontaneously sprouted out of nothingness. Do you see the irnoy in that? It does seem to be beyond reason that everything could have just came about as a matter or coincidence or happenstance. Of course, I don't believe in the literal interpretation of the bible, nor do all practicing christians. I do however, believe that creation was done by a divine being.

Anyway, I have no issue with you being atheistic. I have several friends who are, and they are several of the nicest, most personable and genuinely decent people I know. Unfortunately, I also know several bible thumpers who are very phony, shallow, hypocritical, and not so nice. It kind of turns people off to religion. Please remember that going to church does not make someone a good person, or a better person than someone who doesn't go to church. And, so called religious people who act like they are holier than thou are not adhering to God's principles in the first place.

Shine on!

Anonymous said...

This whole attack-mode that has been out on the Howard Blog group lately hits me in the same spot as that Hate Flyer from the Explore Howard article.

Cranky is one thing. This stuff here and in the hostility blog adn even on 53 Beers goes beyond tolerable for me.

Hostile blog hosts: you want to know why we have that annoying Civility campaign? Look in the mirror.

Freemarket said...

“I think the meaning of the painting analogy is that it took a creator to create a painting, which is a fairly simply object, in general terms. Yet, you think that the entire universe, with all of its complexities, just somehow spontaneously sprouted out of nothingness.”

So am I supposed to believe that an even more complex being created our complex universe? I don’t see the logic in that.

Thanks for your comment, anon 11:57. I actually respect Cameron for doing what he thinks is right, even though he knows he will take a few whacks on the chin for doing do.

Anon 12:39- perhaps you could start your own blog?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for having the courage to speak out and point out the illogic. It's funny that the people pouting and whining that you are being MEEEEEAN have no problem attacking you for your beliefs. The only difference between you two groups is that yours has logic and sense.

Anonymous said...

FM - this is the 1st anon commenter. Good point about who/what created God. An interesting item to say the least, and certainly a point I had not thought of before. I guess I would have to say that that is where "faith" comes into play - believing in something that you can't necessarily prove is true or exists.

Plus, isn't it more exciting to think that there is more to life than our short time here on Earth. If I die and just turn to dust, and that's it, I will be SO bummed.

I find this "debate" to be one of the coolest things to ponder about - because nobody will know the answer until after they have died, and then they can't tell anyone else the answer. No cheating!

FreeMarket said...

Yeah, I agree. It is very interesting.

You are correct about faith being the key. I would rather take my chances with what can be known rationally or logically.

I view religion as an illusion. If you could take a drug that would make you fall asleep and dream the rest of your life, and you would achieve all your hopes and dreams in your, uh, dream, would you take the drug? I wouldn't. I would want my life to be real, and I view religion as being similar to such a drug.

If I am wrong and I get to the gates of heaven (hell) and god asks me why I was such a jack ass, I'll tell him or her straight up that there just wasn't enough evidence to believe in a God. Burden of proof, dude.

Anonymous said...

1st Anon here again. I don't personally believe that there is heaven and hell, at least not a literal version with fire and brimstone so to speak. I believe that your afterlife depends on you live this life. If your kind and good, then you'll have an enjoyable afterlife. If you were a mean s.o.b. then you'll be not so happy in the afterlife - but not on fire for all eternity. Anyway, it's been fun talking about it.