Not the same thing

In conversation with Kevin tonight he mentioned my directness in stating the atheist worldview, and compared it to the forcefullness with which a devout Christian would speak.

We did not have time for a full debate – we were both just getting home and each had our own tasks to deal with – so I did not bring up my first thought. I’m going to make note of it here for future discussion.

Because the comment betrays a lack of understanding, I thing, and from anyone other than my good friend I would view the comparison as, well, insulting. I know Kevin means well, though, just as I know he would not be offended by my explaining why I see the motivation for a Christian or fellow theist’s beliefs as far from the foundations from which I speak as could be possible.

There’s so many ways in which they differ, but for the sake of a blog post I’ll stick with just a couple.

First, and most obviously, a devout Christian would not change their mind on their faith, no matter what evidence they were presented with. I, on the other hand, would have to change my stance on any verifiable topic if new, contrary evidence became available. That’s… that’s kinda the whole point.

I speak forcefully because the evidence is behind me. That is what my statements are founded upon. Direct observation by myself and others, repeated and repeatable experiments, theories that make predictions that can be tested… But tempered with the humility to be able to review and incorporate new discoveries or information.

Because Christians argue from a philosophical standpoint of faith and make claims of things that simply can not pass any kind of verification, they are then free to ignore any facts or actions that may erode their faith. There are no facts or observations that could not be rationalized around. In fact, in my life and readings any novel outcomes or details tend to reinforce the faith and mental states of the most devout.

Consider the prayers of someone hanging by a slender branch on a cliff. Dangling there above an abyss, the faithful will call out to their god for assistance. It’s a natural response in a dire situation.

If they then fall, and die, they don’t get a chance to consider that their prayer had zero effect. Any onlookers would rationalize it away as “God called him home”, probably pointing to the prayers of the victim as “evidence” of God’s involvement.

If the poor sap falls, and survives with injuries, they will obviously see that as a victory. “I could have died! And yet, I live. Not walking again is a small price to pay for getting out of that circumstance.”

If the person is rescued, that then also confirms the “power of prayer”. Obviously, God was listening.

See? Every possible outcome will serve to confirm the credulous’ beliefs. It’s like that for most of the devout. They believe for unfounded, illogical, irrational reasons, so there’s no foundation, no logic, and no rationality that could budge them from what they “feel” is true.

My statements may delight you, or they may anger you, but I will happily change my tune if you can demonstrate where I’m wrong. And that’s why my stance is as far from that of a religious persons’ as could be possible. And please don’t insult me by comparing me with those poor, misguided folk.