Saturday, January 11, 2014

How to persuade a Christian to become an atheist

It is with both sadness and amusement that I came across this piece, on "how to persuade a Christian to become an atheist." Sadness to see people spreading yet more misinformation on the internet (surprise, surprise) and amusement to see how they have simply taken the pages from "how to persuade an atheist to become a Christian" and turned some things around. The graphics are kind of creepy and the logic is, well, absent, but the methodology is generic "how to persuade person X of argument Y."

One has to wonder why an atheist would want to convert a Christian to atheism, other than for the sake of meanness. A Christian is charged with spreading the Gospel - not so the atheist, who has no gospel. A Christian is charged to help his fellow man by educating him and correcting him when he is in trouble - not so the atheist who has no duty to his fellow man. The Christian can argue that more Christians in the world makes the world a better place in terms of peace and taking care of the poor. The atheist make desire company, but historically atheists have not known to be the most charitable peaceful people. So any reason the atheist has for evangelization would be personal preference based on an unconscious "Christian" desire to "help" others based on cultural surroundings or upbringing, rather than a tenet of his "faith."

I thought it would be interesting to see two people who have read these respective instructions go "head to head." So it occurred to me it might be fun to take this to the next level. "How to persuade an atheist who is trying to persuade a Christian to become an atheist to become a Christian." With that in mind, here are my responses to the responses to the questions in the Christian -> Atheist article. I've copied some of the text, and edited or paraphrased it for brevity. The question part (in bold) is what is asked by the Christian. The normal text is the suggested response, and my rebuttal is in bold italics).
  • What existed before the big bang?
    • We don't know yet.
    • Another theory is that our Universe exists as part of a much larger multiverse.
    The question and answer both beg the issue. We can't properly speak of "before" without time, which as far as we know requires the big bang to have occurred. However, we can ask the metaphysical question, "is time required for causality?" Clearly it is not, since the big bang happened. So the question is not what existed before the big bang, but what caused the big bang? And if you say "the laws of physics" what caused them? And if there's a multiverse, what caused that?
  • Order can't come from chaos, entropy wouldn't allow that.
    • Chaos and entropy describe different things. Entropy can be locally reversed.
    But entropy can't be globally reversed. If you're going to claim it can you have to show me which the laws of physics you wish to suspend for your argument, which undermines your scientific claims. The example used of order coming from chaos is not in fact, order from chaos, but an experiment designed to locally produce order. If the intent of the atheist was to show that an intelligence can design a system which produces order, then yes, I agree, an intelligence can design a system which produces order.

  • Life couldn't come into existence by mere coincidence.
    • It didn't.
    So the atheist concedes the argument, and adds words which make him think he has "won." So be it.
  • Life is too complicated to happen through mere coincidence and random events.
    • Evolution provides a mechanism that is anything but random or coincidental.
    Another concession. And I guess evolutionists who talk about random mutation are wrong as well. Thank you for agreeing.
  • If people don't believe in God, where do they get their morality from?
    • It should scare you to think that the fear of Hell is the only thing stopping the Christian from committing atrocities.
    It would if that were true. However, this shows a lack of understanding of Christianity, since Christians do not claim fear of hell as the source of morality (or even the source of moral behavior). It also ignores the question (irrelevance fallacy). Where do atheists get their morality from?
  • If God doesn't exist why does most of the world believe? (Argumentum ad populum}
    • Just because a majority of people in a group or the entire world believe something does not make it automatically true.
    Correct. The Christian has asked an irrelevant question. However, this says nothing about the truth or falsehood of the claim "there is a God."

  • Something can't come from nothing. (Cosmological Argument)
    • If it is possible for a god to be uncaused then it is possible for the universe to be uncaused.
    Correct. However, Occam's razor demands we choose the simpler proposition. Which is simpler? That one exception exists, or that everything is an exception to the rule?

  • The Bible proves God exists. Why would so many people write about God if it wasn't true? (Argumentum ad Verecundiam, Circular reasoning, Tautology)
    • Any critical examination of the Bible will clearly show it to be full of inaccuracies and contradictions.
    They're both wrong. The Bible doesn't prove God exists, it asserts it. Even if the Bible were perfect in every other way it still wouldn't be a proof. On the other side, where are the inaccuracies and contradictions? Because I have yet to see one which wasn't easily refuted if one looks at the actual text and context, rather than reading isolated misleading claims.
  • The universe and life show clear signs of design.
    • Life reproduces and mutates by itself. The same cannot be said of an inanimate object.
    False. Life does not reproduce and mutate by itself. It needs material and energy outside of itself to do so. The atheist is using the same argument to show lack of design by claiming (without proof) that the universe is not designed. The atheist cannot show evidence of something complex created without intent (or design, but I think intent is a better word to use here), but makes the claim that "everything" is anyway. Intention is not something which can be measured scientifically.


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