This was a special edition episode recorded and posted on election night. I was very sad I couldn’t join, but I was, well, watching the election.
Lots of good talk, but the highlight for me was the inclusion of Jerry, an evangelical preacher who “used to be” an atheist.
So tired of that horseshit.
Let’s go to the actual bit. Lee asked Jerry why he was a believer and, after some further conversation including the allegation that Jerry believes in magic, this is what Jerry said:
“I say it’s physics.”
My problem with this argument is…
- While physics demonstrates a consistency in universal, natural laws that accurately predict all cause/effect relationships,
- this in no way necessarily leads to a designer/creator of such laws,
- and even if it did, that still wouldn’t necessarily lead to any specific interpretation of said creator/designer,
- whether generally the Abrahamic one,
- or particularly the Christian one,
- or even more particularly the Evangelical one.
- And the testable nature of physical laws is completely inconsistent with the unfalsifiable nature of all supernatural Evangelical claims.
What’s left is, the universe seems designed because it looks to bear resemblance to things that we know are designed (having detectable, predictable patterns), therefore there must be a designer, and that designer must be whatever socially acceptable concoction I choose to emotionally invest in (because I want to).
The keys, though, are “seems,” “must be,” and “want,” all of which are completely irrelevant to the evidence.
That there seemed to be only five natural elements, earth, air, fire, water, and the fifth essence of, um, er, whatever, doesn’t change the fact that we’ve discovered actual elements.
That there must be an explanation for almost everything, particularly the exotic, yet familiar human eye, brain, and the cosmos, doesn’t change the fact that each of these things has been discovered to have specific components, specific functions, and specific mapped out development timelines completely devoid of the need for any external, intelligent agent.
That there is want for meaning, justice, righteousness or whatever other emotional element people crave doesn’t change the fact that these are all human constructs which, while perhaps fulfilling specific evolutionary needs, bear no inherent significance.
And that’s just my problem with his whole “physics” thing. Now for the horseshit!
“I used to be one of you.”
It’s an extremely persistent popular claim that people like Lee Strobel “used to be atheists.” I can’t say whether any of them ever was. Obviously to claim that they weren’t is to pull a Not a True Scotsman. I get that. But the inconsistency I see is that in every case of which I’m aware in which the believer claims to have been an atheist, he either has no clue what it means to be an atheist, he ultimately admits that he wasn’t, or he relies on the identical fallacies as the worst of the apologists to support his current belief.
Clearly, to claim that one was an atheist leads dramatic weight to the alleged conversion. It’s so much more impressive for a non-believer to turn into a believer than for one who was indoctrinated since childhood to be a believer and all he’s done is remained one.
This is why every time I’ve heard the claim, I’ve asked what convinced the believer. And every time it’s some version of “personal experience,” a reliance on fallacy like “the universe is too complicated NOT to have been designed,” or it turns out the believer has always been one, but had never been as committed to his faith as he is now and so labels his previous lack of commitment a lack of faith.
I don’t know Jerry. I probably never will. Certainly not how Brian knows him. Despite this, I remain confident that nothing he’d ever have to say in defense of his faith would impress me any more than any of the above.
“If you were able to show me incontrovertible proof [that atheism is true]…”
What the fuck was up with his attempt to shift the burden of proof? He used to be an atheist? Awesome. He’s now an evangelical preacher. Fantastic. Then how the fuck is it in his years as an atheist and now as a preacher he’s either never bumped into or is so incompetent a thinker as to not be able to avoid this tired, old trap?
Try this on for size, Jerry. Prove that the Easter Bunny DOESN’T exist.
- Don’t say because no one’s ever seen him. Maybe they weren’t looking hard enough.
- Don’t say kids made him up because the belief in Him, just as what you believe in, developed organically over time.
- Don’t say the claims of Him are impossible because the same applies to your faith.
What you’re left with is you can’t disprove the Easter Bunny. But that’s not your problem. It’s the problem of the Easter-Bunny believer to prove His existence, not your job to prove His lack of existence.
I have to wonder if this truly is the best that people like Jerry can do. An appeal to design, an appeal to conversion, and an attempt to shift the burden of proof. No wonder the evangelical numbers are slipping. It’s only a matter of time before people like Jerry have to get real jobs.
Here’s A-News, the episode on A-News, and here it is on iTunes.