Monday, December 12, 2011

Why David Spero is an atheist

David Spero has a guest blog post at Pharyngula explaining why he's an atheist. His post is below, with my commentary.

Why I am an atheist – David Spero
December 4, 2011 at 9:48 am PZ Myers
Dave Niose, president of the American Humanist Association, posted recently over at Open Salon a copy of a letter he received from an atheist friend.
The president of a tiny loud claque of litigious atheists has a last name that sounds like "noise". I love irony.
The friend wrote the letter to his own 11-year-old daughter, who was “very upset about her father’s non-belief” — particularly his refusal to pray for her (something apparently advocated by the friend’s wife, who is a Christian).
I won’t comment on a family situation I know next to nothing about, but it did remind me of the very issue that began the unraveling of my own faith: prayer. About 20 years ago, I was on a path to ministry. I was in the middle of co-founding a fellowship organization on my college campus and had just finished drafting the group’s constitution (as required by the school to be an official student organization and thus receive activity funds) when I had a moment of clarity while praying for guidance. Yes, I appreciate the irony.
The path I was on would have led me to fervent proselytizing. I was 19 years old, post-Catholic and in training to present the Word to non-believers. I studied the Bible with an ordained mentor and doggedly researched apologetics. I was going to provide irrefutable answers in defense of Christ in debate.
But there were no irrefutable answers.
The classical demonstrations for God's existence-- Prime Mover, First Cause, Necessary Existence, Greatest Good, Final Cause-- are irrefutable. Critics have tried for several millennia to destroy these arguments, and no one has laid a glove on any of them.

Unlike the arguments for God's existence, knowledge of Christ is not the result of irrefutable logical arguments, and was never intended to be. Knowing Christ is a knowledge of the heart, as Pascal observed. It is a deep kind of awareness, like coming to love the person you will marry. It is a powerful kind of knowledge, but different from logical proof. So many of the things we know are knowledge of the heart. No one "reasons out" his love for his spouse or child. Yet that love is one of the things of which we are most sure.

Very few things that we believe in life are logically proven. The existence of a Prime Mover, First Cause... is one of them. Most of what we know is knowledge of the heart.

It doesn't seem as though David was intellectually prepared for the ministry.
I decided to keep on it — after all, I was just getting started and I had faith more would be revealed as I continued in my studies. But each revelation was more suspect than the last. Every question I had was answered with circular reasoning (e.g., why believe in the Bible as the inspired word of God? Because the Bible says so.).
No one makes the argument that we should believe the Bible is God's word because the Bible says so. Logical nonsense is the provence of atheists ("everything came from nothing"..., "there is no objective moral law, and it's immoral to believe that there is..."), not Christians.

Christians believe that the Bible is God's word because the Bible reveals deep truths that lead us to see that its ultimate Source is God. Augustine said it best: "I believe in order to understand". The Bible casts light on life in a way that is so profound and hews so closely to truth that we conclude it is God's word.

David's assertion that we believe the Bible because the Bible tells us so is an idiotic caricature of real Christian belief. Thank goodness he didn't become a minister.
Finally, while praying to understand God’s will, a giant hole ripped in the fabric of my belief: Who am I praying to? Why? Why does God require me to pray when he is supposedly omniscient? What does that say about the nature of the god I’m praying to?
It says, David, that God wants you to know Him, personally. Prayer is for you. He doesn't need prayer. You need prayer, and He loves you and wants to bring you to Him. It's analogous to when a father accepts a penny from his toddler as a "gift for Daddy". The father doesn't need the penny, but he delights in his child's love and gratitude. The meaning of prayer is the relationship it fosters.

Prayer is God's gift of Himself to you.

You don't understand that, David, and you were going to be a minister?
The God I believed in was supposed to be perfect. Too perfect, in fact, for mortal minds to fathom. Ultimate love. True goodness. Omniscient. Omnipotent. Omnipresent. The whole nine yards and then some. Whenever something about God didn’t make sense to me, I countered myself by saying my definition of God must simply be too narrow. But because of that, God soon became just an infinitely broad but paper-thin abstraction.
That's because you never met Him, in prayer or otherwise. Christ is many things. "Paper-thin abstraction" isn't one of them.
It was then a very small step to the realization that the concept of a personal God was absurd. Eventually, I came to understand the fallacy of the “God of the Gaps“. There was no chance I’d turn to another religion; it was clear they’d all fail the litmus test instantly.
The "God of the Gaps" fallacy is an idiotic argument. The inference is that science is continuously explaining things previously attributed to God. This foolish argument confuses primary with secondary causes. Science sheds light on secondary causes. It is silent on primary causes, which are the domain of philosophy and theology.

Scientists are, for the most part, grossly incompetent philosophers and theologians. Like you, David.
I claimed to be an agnostic throughout my 20s. I left open the door to the idea of a higher power but, again, was pretty sure the matter was too complex to be comprehended. It wasn’t until my 30s that I faced the issue head on and realized I had been making the same weak excuses.
David, you never understood Christianity and never met Christ in any way that you understood.
A sequence of events and introspection ultimately left nowhere for my intellect to hide. Once I allowed myself to practice skepticism honestly, the absurdities appeared everywhere I looked. There was no God.
Your intellect still hides, and your simplistic caricature of Christianity doesn't count against the existence of God. None of your skepticism is honest, or really skepticism. You need to understand what you are rejecting, which you don't. Rejecting something without understanding it isn't skepticism, but its opposite. You are a credulous atheist, willing to believe in God's non-existence without really engaging the issue.
And it quickly became clear that many of civilization’s messes — either directly or indirectly — were catalyzed by some form of religion.
Right, David. Embracing the metaphysics of Marx and Stalin and Mao is such a rational response to civilizational messiness. You just jumped from the greatest source of good for mankind (Christianity) to the most malignant evil (state atheism). As I said David, you're no skeptic.
My eyes were opened, and I was faced with one big question: Now what? It didn’t take long to understand that the only sane response to an insane world was to roll up my sleeves and try to make it a better place. All alternative responses were (and remain) unacceptable. Ultimately, I discovered my ideals matched those of organized Humanism.
If God doesn't exist, whence your passion for human betterment? How very un-Darwinian. If there is no God, there is no source of objective morality, and no objective good or evil. Merely animals struggling to procreate. "Atheist benevolence' is an oxymoron.
So yes, you could say that prayer accidentally provided me with guidance. It was exactly the spark I needed to put me on the right path.

Your service to mankind, David, was that you did not become a minister, and thus you could not destroy the faith of people who trusted you. I encourage you to become a real skeptic. Learn real Christian theology. Pray earnestly.

And apply your skepticism to your own atheist pabulum. 

16 comments:

  1. The classical demonstrations for God's existence-- Prime Mover, First Cause, Necessary Existence, Greatest Good, Final Cause-- are irrefutable.

    Except that your "irrefutable proofs" are all based on nothing more than presuppositionalism. And as a result, are not irrefutable, but are self-refuting unless you buy into the premises.

    But once again, you smear on your clown makeup and pathetically try to leech on the popularity of Pharyngula in a desperate attempt to gain attention. It is really sad watching you suck PZ Meyers' dick in an effort to seem relevant.

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  2. Wow, Anon, that’s very crude, very vulgar.

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  3. Why do atheists have such foul language?

    This is because they know that their position is untenable and they hate to be discovered.

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  4. Pépé, vulgarity is not a domain exclusive to Atheists.

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  5. @Iko Ouro Preto
    vulgarity is not a domain exclusive to Atheists.

    You are right, but seems to me atheists more easily fall in vulgarity; what anon said above is the epitome of vulgarity and it even shocked you!

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  6. Very well said Dr. Egnor!

    With reference to Myers blog, I'm still somewhat amused that he fails to hold the atheopathic submissions of his sycophant base to the same standards of "proof" and "logic" he demands of his critics. After all, didn't Myers previously rant about how he hates the "dictionary atheists" (that is, the atheists who have no thoughtful rationale to offer as to why they are atheists).

    I guess even Myers is not above condescension once in a while.

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  7. Pepe,

    Michael Egnor is the one who liberally uses the word 'bullshit' to describe the comments of others. So 'what's good for the goose, ...' I've taken to use to describe some of Michael's more outrageous assertions.

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  8. @bach

    I am sorry to burst your overinflated ego but bullshit is the very best description of all your comments so far!

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  9. Anonymous,

    PZ does exactly what Michael does. He writes a thread and then leaves it to his readers to comment, rarely making any further comments.

    Michael does much the same, even ignoring comments and questions directed at him.

    I don't read all of PZ's threads, and if I'm not interested in the thread, I don't read the comments, particularly if there are many, as usually happens. An average thread on Pharyngula in half a day will often get 50 or more comments.

    I'm not interested why other atheists became atheist. I'm only interested in why I became an atheist, and whether I can justify it.

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  10. @bach
    I'm only interested in why I became an atheist, and whether I can justify it.

    Navel gazing won't help you justify your deluded worldview but proves how full of yourself you are.

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  11. "Deluded worldview."

    Now THAT'S rich..

    And David Spero said "And it quickly became clear that many of civilization’s messes — either directly or indirectly — were catalyzed by some form of religion."

    Egnor, he's right. Throughout history millions have been murdered, raped, demonized, deported, etc. IN THE NAME OF RELIGION. And in THE NAME OF GOD. You always trot out Stalin, Mao, etc. for your weak argument against that sentiment. When you have several different societies with "god on our side" you know things are going to go bad. Because anything can be attributed to an interpretation of an old book.

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  12. Pepe:
    "Why do atheists have such foul language?

    This is because they know that their position is untenable and they hate to be discovered."

    Really? You think that's why...hmm. We have no defense of our arguments, as they'll crumble with the slightest refute. So naturally, we'll swear. Do you even think before you post something? Or are you just there to be a cheerleader for people like egnor, who are more intelligent than you?

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  13. @back & @Mold

    "Atheism is a disease of the soul before it becomes an error of understanding....."
    (Plato)

    Now I see why you have problem understanding things!

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  14. "Do you even think before you post something? Or are you just there to be a cheerleader for people like egnor, who are more intelligent than you?"

    This is the part that gets me every time.
    This arrogance and elitism. Language be damned.
    To attack the personal intelligence of an individual because they do not adhere to your world view?
    WEAK. Very weak. The blowjob comment was higher brow.

    Foul language?
    I see that as a universal human phenomenon. There can be many reasons for a rash of such verbal filth, and I myself am not about the occasional blast in my own capacity.
    But in this case, it is combination of immorality, laziness and group/herd-think tainted with just a hint of homophobia (the felacio remark).
    Why should it be a shock that the philosophy that decries morality as illusion, is the LAZIEST form of positivism, and is the modern home of elitist academic conformists should produce lots of foul mouthed, lazy, conformists (and BIGOTS galore!)? It should not be a surprise at all.
    Spoiled children cry a LOT.
    The language is not what hits me, it is the elitism.
    It is crystal clear in the post itself.
    This person is scapegoating religion and religious faith.
    Again, this is morally and academically lazy.
    In Toronto this year lots of young black men stole cars. If we follow the simplistic logic of the commie convert here, we will deduce the best way to rid Toronto of Auto mobile theft is to either A)Remove the black men, or B)Cause them to no longer be 'black' (physically or culturally).
    That is of course TOTAL BULLSHIT. Obviously, cars WILL be stolen in Toronto, regardless of culture or skin pigment.
    The same can be said of this poster's analysis of religion's role in conflict, and history in general: Bigoted, Childish, lazy and inaccurate.
    This kind of positivist and elitist language ends in death camps and mass deportations.

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  15. Crusaderex:

    Pot, meet kettle. How many of YOUR posts have insulted someone, or given a blanket statement of how stupid or immoral all atheists are?

    The ultimate in arrogance is the assertion that there's a supreme being in the sky and that you're his chosen people! Or he loves US, but of course you'll go straight to hell because you don't 'love' him back.

    "I'll pray for you." What a condescending line of fluff.

    I've said it before, but after thousands of years of christians having their way, of bullying and killing people simply because they don't profess to 'believe' or adhere to a certain dogma, maybe there are people who DON'T FOLLOW THE SAME ARROGANT WISH-THINKING AS YOU.

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