The Grand Delusion?


While looking over the videos for my previous posting on atheism, I saw another video that appeals to “college-educated, intelligent Christians” to use their education and intelligence to scientifically analyze their faith. There are a number of questions asked (your standard “If God loves us all, why do bad things happen to good people?” and “Why are there so many starving children in the world?” as well as a clever one I hadn’t thought of before, but I’ll get back to that one later), and Christians are asked to answer the questions while thinking logically and scientifically. Most of the time, there is no good answer other than your standard “God works in mysterious ways” or “God must have a reason for all the suffering”. However, when you make the initial assumption that God is imaginary and then go through the questions again, suddenly there are answers that make sense. Bad things happen to good people by chance. Children are starving in Africa because they live in a place where it is difficult to grow food and the people and countries are too poor to be able to import enough for everyone — essentially, there is suffering and starvation because not enough is being done to prevent it. The “inescapable” conclusion is that God is imaginary. However, the video isn’t done there. It keeps going and in my opinion, goes too far.

This video attempts to demonstrate by use of logic that God does not exist. (Of course, they have done no such thing here, they’ve just shown that if you assume that God doesn’t exist, all of these particular questions have a logical answer. This isn’t proof of anything.) But the video goes one step further and asks why it is important to do this. They say that it’s important because there are millions (if not billions) of people around the world who believe in God, talk to God, and ask questions of God. If God is imaginary then these people, the vast majority of the world, are all delusional. According to some stats I’ve heard, something like 95% of the world’s population believes in God in one form or another. It’s one thing to say that you believe something different from 95% of the world, but quite another to say that anyone who doesn’t believe what you believe is delusional.

Secondly, by specifically targeting Christians with a college education, the video’s producers imply that anyone without a college degree is too stupid to understand what the video is saying. This is untrue and just a touch insulting.

Finally, the fatal flaw in this video is that it ironically uses exactly the same faulty logic that many creationists do. There are things that happen in the universe that don’t make sense given our current level of scientific knowledge. Creationists frequently point at these questions, saying that because we can’t answer these questions, the underlying scientific assumptions we’ve made must be false, and so God must have done it all. These questions are unanswered simply because we don’t know enough about the universe to answer them all. It’s even possible that human intelligence is simply not capable of understanding some of the intricacies of the universe. This doesn’t mean that what we’ve learned already is untrue. This video says exactly the same thing, but in reverse — here are some questions that we don’t know the answer to, and because the answers we currently have make no sense, the underlying premise behind them must be false. The logic is just as faulty here.

The clever and interesting question I mentioned above was “Why won’t God heal amputees?” You hear about so-called faith healers, who heal the sick with just a touch. But every now and again, you hear about someone whose cancerous tumour mysteriously disappeared, or a blind person who can suddenly see, or some other “miraculous” case of a sick person being healed through prayer. In some of these cases, the medical community is completely baffled, and so many claim this as proof of God’s existence. But there has never once been a case of an amputee miraculously regrowing limbs. Why not? We’ve already got the question of why God would heal some sick people and not others, but now it’s more specific — why will God heal cancer patients and blind people and ignore amputees? Of course, the fact that we don’t know the answer to this question means precisely nothing, but it’s an interesting question nonetheless.

The simple truth is that it is not possible to prove that God does not exist. There’s always the possibility that He’s out there somewhere, fudging test results to keep Himself hidden. Why would He do this? I dunno, but that doesn’t mean He doesn’t have a good reason. It is, and will always be, a matter of faith. I have written on numerous occasions before that I am an atheist. But I don’t think that people who are not atheists are all delusional or stupid, we simply believe different things. I’m a Jays fan, but I don’t think that Yankees fans are stupid, we just believe different things — neither one of us is wrong. Well, I guess either God exists or He doesn’t, so either atheists or theists are wrong, but since we don’t (and probably can’t) know which group is wrong, it doesn’t really matter.

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