I am posting this blog in response to a question raised by Lysis at www.attheagora.blogspot.com
Most of the arguments about God follow this pattern:
If God does not exist than religion is absurd.
If God exists than religion is the most essential avenue for investigation truth.
If a man claims to be the Son of God, or have talked with God then he is insane. Unless, of course, he is the Son of God or a real prophet.
If God does not exist than millions of people do mumble to themselves every night before they go to bed.
If God does exist than prayer is a holly communion with the divine.
The arguments don’t work because they are based on the issue being debated.
Instead of an argument I would like to present the following illustrations, not to convince atheists of my position but to help them understand how we religious types think. Hopefully it will help free up the dialog.
Imagine you are a musician whose best friend is deaf. Because of his deafness he does not believe in music. You try for years to convince him that music exists, and that it is beautiful, but you get nowhere. You take him to the symphony. He sits respectfully but afterward claims he heard nothing. Furthermore he claims that you didn’t hear anything either.
Just telling him you can hear the music does no good. He doesn’t really believe in hearing at all. You can’t explain it to him. Hearing is a little bit like seeing, and a little bit like feeling, but it’s really something completely different from seeing or feeling. He can’t understand.
But what about the hundreds of thousands of people throughout time and across societies that claim to hear music? This doesn’t prove anything. In fact it casts doubt on the existence of music. So many people claim to hear it but they have so many different ideas about what music should sound like. Why are there so many genres? How can you claim that the music you hear is beautiful when there are so many different music groups? Your friend has even talked to two people who listened to the same symphony and each described the experience differently.
He suspects that some biological or social disorder accounts for the widespread belief in music. Perhaps a music gene.
And what about the negative or destructive forms of music? You have to admit that there are many ancient and contemporary types that are abhorrent.
“But somehow you have found the truly beautiful music right?” He asks sarcastically.
He points out that music groups insight violence and promote drug use. People waste their money and their lives chasing after this unseen, undetected “sound.”
Your friend is firm. Music does not exist. If it does then you must prove it to him. There can be no appeal to popular belief or personal testimony. Show him something concrete.
The fact that you can produce waves in a pool with sound waves does not convince him. He admits that you can produce waves in the air but he denies that this is sound, and certainly not beautiful music.
If you cannot prove it conclusively then we must remove musical instruction from the schools and certainly stop wasting any government money on musical institutions or celebrations.
In addition to being a musician you are a scientist. One of your colleagues, very well educated and intelligent, is blind and therefore does not believe in the sun.
You point to the evidence. What about the heat from the sun? Surely he can feel that. He can, and so admits the existence of heat. But he cannot believe that some enormous body somewhere in unreachable space is the source of all heat.
He has felt heat from other people, he has felt fire, therefore he admits that there are bodies that create heat. But your idea of a sun is ridiculous. You claim that there is a body so large that it can provide heat for every living thing on earth and everything that has ever lived.
Not only this you go on to make the absurd claim that all heat, weather from a fire or a human body comes indirectly from the sun. That in fact the sun is the catalyst for all life on earth.
You also claim that this unseen sun holds the entire solar system in balance. He admits that there is gravity and that gravity holds the entire earth system (he dislikes the term solar system) in place. But he cannot believe in a source of all gravity.
He can’t explain exactly where heat or gravity originate, but he is confident science will one day explain it. He quotes several brilliant blind men who are very close to disproving the solar delusion through science.
What is to be done with our friends? We are making the claims, therefore the burden of proof is on us.
I understand that my examples are not exact; picking them apart would be a good exercise so please comment..
If you'll indulge me, would now like to take the images a step further. I believe the following addition will draw the analogies closer to reality but also make them more controversial.
I believe that the real situation is more hopeful and more cynical.
I suspect that our deaf friend is not really deaf but has stopped his ears up with cotton. Our blind friend is not blind but holds his eyes tightly shut.
More than this or deaf friend can still hear the music faintly through his ear plugs. Our blind friend can still sense, vaguely, the light beyond his eyelids.
I suspect that the atheists I know, who happen to be some of my favorite people in the world, are in this state of willing denial.
They certainly work hard to maintain their disbelief, much harder than many of my religious friends work at maintaining their faith. They study their atheist texts much more ardently than many religious folks study their scriptures.
Like I said these illustrations are not arguments but explanations. I hope they help any atheist to gain a better perspective of our position.
As I stated in the opening I am perfectly aware that my analogies are ridiculous unless of course they are correct.
He that hath ears let him hear.