Friday, April 30, 2010

Leesen to da Reethum Don be Scaret; Atheism

I am posting this blog in response to a question raised by Lysis at

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.

Scenario #1

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.

Scenario #2

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.


Taylor said...

These are wonderful analogies buddy. Jodi loved em too

Anonymous said...

I suppose this falls to me to answer this.

First of all, the existence of music can be demonstrated to a deaf person. Your last addition, the one about the deaf person and the blind person willfully unbelieving, is completely unnecessary; they are already willfully ignorant in the original story you presented. You wrote that the deaf person understands the mechanics of air disturbance, harmonics, and the human ear, and yet does not "believe". The blind person can be sunburned, and, if he wishes, have someone whom he trusts look at a plant cell under a microscope and tell him that he sees chloroplasts. He could even conduct experiments: plants grow where he'll be sunburned, and they'll die out where his skin is safe, etc.

These illustrate a point: the idea of music and the sun have predictive power and can be falsified even to a person unable to detect them directly.

If, on the other hand, the blind person explained the sunburn by saying that it was an act of an invisible force in the universe, and the blind "scientists" involved in "disproving" the sun formed a Sun Discovery Institute which was involved in pushing the notion of Intelligent Burning, we might have a more appropriate analogy.

Captain said...

Great ‘anonymous’ really good thoughts, thanks for posting.

First remember that my post was not to prove the existence of God, but to show how many religious people justify their belief.

Your post is a great example of Atheist justification and illustrates how many Atheists think, so thank you.

I think I could clear the water a little by solidifying the symbols in my analogy.

Music = Spiritual connection to the divine.
The Sun = God himself, herself, whatever.

Hearing = Feeling a spiritual connection to the divine; an emotion.
Seeing = Innate or inner knowledge of the existence of God.

A deaf person can believe in sound and harmonics but does not believe that sound produces “music.” Music is just a “believer’s,” term for the biological process of air hitting the eardrum. Physical forces, measurable and explainable, sound. Music is a delusion, a false interpretation of sound.

= An atheist can believe in emotion and emotional response, even the mechanics of how emotion is created in the body, but does not believe the emotional response is a divine connection. “Spiritual experience,” is just a “believer’s” term for an emotional response to stimuli. Physical forces, measurable and explainable, emotion. Spirituality is just a delusion, a false interpretation of emotion.

You can prove to a deaf person that sound exists just as you can prove to an atheist that emotion exists. You cannot prove to a deaf person that music exists; it’s something you have to hear to understand. Of coarse my deaf friend could trust his hearing friends, but why should he, they could be deceiving themselves – Thinking the sound is music when really it’s just ripples in the air hitting their eardrums.

You’re right, a Blind person can believe in the existence of heat, he can see the result of sunburn, he can test plants and ask a friend he trusts, but none of that proves conclusively the source of the burns and heat, only that the heat exhibits itself under certain conditions. There is no need to appeal to “an unseen force.” The burns are a result of chemical damage in the cells. Plants behave that way, skin behaves that way, it is in their genes.

= An atheist can feel things like love, altruism, joy, charity, he can see the way these feelings change people. How people thrive where charity is felt and perish in the places it isn’t. But there’s no need to attribute this feeling to “an unseen force in the universe.” That’s just the way humans behave, it’s in their DNA.

You’re right a blind man could ask a friend he trusted but maybe his friend is deceiving himself, trying to believe in the sun, perhaps in order to conform to a Heliocentric society. Maybe he was just brought up to believe in the sun and never questioned it. Most people throughout history have believed in the sun but that’s no proof. If there is only one sun and everyone can see it, then why do so many societies have such different ideas about it? Why do some describe sunshine as harsh and deadly and others as gentle and soothing?

Atheists could ask the bulk of humanity throughout the world, but why should they? The world could be deluded and if there is only God, that everyone can feel, why are there so many different ideas about him?

This explanation makes perfect sense. The atheists I know are extremely intelligent rational people, so are my deaf friend and my blind friend, but they all have to be skeptical, accepting only what they can see or hear for themselves.

My deaf friend will never believe in music until he hears it, my blind friend will accept the sun when he’s seen it.

My assertion is that the deaf man, the blind man and the Atheist are reasonable people who, for one reason or another, willfully ignore evidence.

Err... said...

The point of this article is to explain how theists view atheists, and it does the job, I suppose. Just to be clear, "atheism" is the lack of belief in one or more gods. That's all. The reason atheists do not believe in any deity is the same reason that no one believes in leprechauns, unicorns, or wizards; there isn't sufficient evidence to accept their existence as valid.

Now, I could explain why the analogies used in the article are flawed(it is perfectly possible to prove the existence of the sun with no visual aid, and explain how sound can be perceived as music), but the issue at hand is the theist's view of atheists. The conclusion of this article is that atheists all experience a spiritual connection to something divine, but refuse to accept that it is a god.

Irony at it's finest.

I don't think I'll try to convince anyone that the idea of a conscious, all-knowing, all-powerful being that cares deeply about what humans do is absurd. There are better, more charismatic people who can do this for me.

I just find it incredibly depressing that this is how people feel about anyone who chooses to rely on evidence, logic and reason. It's a shame that these people waste away a large amount of their lives hoping for something more. Life is such a precious thing that we've all been lucky to have, and yet some people still spend it asking for more. All this while tutting at anyone else.

Captain said...


Thanks for commenting. You’re right the analogies aren’t perfect but I’m glad they were a starting point for discussion.

You are right to believe in reason and evidence. So do I. I would be weary of putting too much trust in the "scientific minds." that claim mastery over reason and evidence. Science has given us plenty of Leprechauns in the past; remember Jean-Baptiste Lamarck.

Also remember that calling something absurd doesn’t make it false, plenty of truths sound absurd when we first hear them.

Your claim that scientists believe in facts and evidence and others use faith is a false dichotomy.

Many scientists are theists and even the most devote Atheist lives by faith, only a fool would deny that.

As my original post suggests Atheists simply deny the evidence that Theists point to, selecting which evidence they want to “see” and drawing their conclusions from there.

I will also leave the task of presenting this evidence to the more poetic among us, consider this song;

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder, consider all the works thy Hand hath made, I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder, Thy pow'r throughout the universe displayed;

Stanza 2:
When through the woods and forest glades I wander I hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees; When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze;

Stanza 3:
And when I think, that God, His Son not sparing; sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in; that on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing, he bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul (there’s the key to the evidence,) my Saviour God, to Thee, how great Thou art! How great Thou art! Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee, how great Thou art! How great Thou art!

Scientists recognize that this song in the soul exists; you can measure the reaction when someone is exposed to beauty. Anthropologists acknowledge that there is a measurable physical response to the “hero tale,” the eternal story of the sacred king.

Atheists admit the existence of this “sound,” it can be observed and measured, they just can’t hear the music. Keep listening you’ll get it.

As to feeling sorry for the Theists among us; Though you came off condescending when you wrote it, I believe your sentiment is sincere and it does you credit. It might ease your mind to know that the scientific statistics tell us that believers live longer, healthier and, yes, happier lives then their Atheist counterparts.

Again thanks for posting, if you’re looking for more on this subject, they really beat it to death on the original post,"I don't believe in Atheists," at;