Wednesday, 25 April 2007
Polemical note, for atheists
The polemic I’m going to address is one I rarely use because it only has rhetorical force on the pop-culture level. I don’t blame anyone for using it. Bringing in the common ground emotional hedges already in place for your average theist can be useful and using this bit is a very quick and potent way to do that. However…there are problems. And for those interested…those atheists that may have no idea what to do when a theist doesn’t respond how they expect…here’s some polemical advice:
Polemic: a controversial argument, as one against some opinion, doctrine, etc.
Thus, here is the “card” you may choose to play:
Atheist: “Everyone is an atheist when it comes to thousands of other unpopular gods. I’ve just dismissed one more for basically the same reasons you dismiss all those others.”
Of course…some theists’ knee jerk reaction is of course complete denial:
Theist 1: Nuh uh. I’m not an atheist. (Dostoyevsky_had_it_rough…dead link, sorry)
Atheist: So you think these other gods exist?
Theist 1: No.
Atheist: Then you are an atheist in regards to these other gods.
Theist 1: Nuh uh! I’m not an atheist.
Atheist: Whatever you say…[dramatically roll eyes]
Sam Harris dropped the ball a bit on this one when he was on the Colbert Report. It seemed like perhaps he was a bit nervous…who knows what he’s going to confront, right? Not exactly a serious conversation, but here’s an alternative route:
Theist 2: Nuh uh. My god is just better than those gods. (Colbert, henotheism)
Atheist: The Bible says there are no other gods but Yahweh (Isaiah 45:5).
Theist 2: Oh c’mon, that’s just what my god tells dumb Christians to keep things nice and simple…just a little white lie…
Atheist: Notice also that if there are other gods…then what happens when one religion is doing better than another? Does that mean that god is now more in power? When your prayers to one god fail…would you try a few others?
Theist 2: Of course not, I’m not disloyal.
Atheist: Even if it’s pretty “clear” that Allah must be kicking ass in the spiritual realm? Islam, if I’m not mistaken is doing quite well in numbers these days. Are you sure you don’t want to get in before the Islamic Judgment day?
Theist 2: We’ll just wait and see…
Atheist: Sure you will.
Fortunately one does not come across many liberal henotheists…
The following is of course the most appropriate response from orthodox Christianity:
Theist 3: Nuh uh. Those “gods” might be demons in disguise with various failed anti-god campaigns throughout history. (Robert Turkel)
Atheist: Even the ones that solicit good behavior?
Theist 3: Perhaps God accepts them despite their error.
Atheist: Then why in the world doesn’t God just come to them and correct their errors from the top down via separate but entirely consistent ways? Isn’t this market opportunity? Why be the author of confusion dishing out separate and conflicting confirmatory visionary experiences?
Theist 3: God works in mysterious ways.
Atheist: Mysterious…as in confusing?
Theist 3: God is not the author of confusion. Man is.
Atheist: So…man can find is way to God on his own without God drawing him?
Atheist: I see you’ve retracted your “maybe.”
Theist 3: Maybe.
Atheist: Thus we have demons perpetrating different versions of theism that solicit good behavior and your god has absolutely nothing to do with it?
Theist 3: Uh…
Atheist: And these people are going to be damned by it? For their own ignorance…despite having participated in the theism presented to them?
Theist 3: Well maybe God draws them to him…but not via their false god.
Atheist: And the demons are cool with this? They don’t mind cooperating in this salvation?
Theist 3: Well maybe these people are just mistaken and there isn’t even a demon behind it.
Atheist: Thus…you are an atheist towards these kinds of gods…
Theist 3: Sometimes…yes.
Atheist: Was that so fucking hard to admit?
It’s so easy to win debates when you control what everyone says, eh? Lol