Shafer Parker, Answered
Report Magazine has a cover story that just begs to be taken apart. It is written by Shafer Parker, who has a better command of the language than, say, Charlotte Allen, but there are enough stupid turns to warrant a smackdown.
We shall start with this paragraph. Oh yes, we shall:
Regardless of where they run, the bus ads must themselves cause the reader to ask: why the nuanced declaration, "There's probably no God?" Freethinkers are supposed to be atheists, who by definition are certain there is no God. Unless, that is, they're not so certain. It may be that after being beaten up logically by an apparently unending stream of Christian debaters, the truth has finally sunk in that until the marrow is squeezed from every subatomic particle in the cosmos and beyond, no one can state definitively that God does not exist. Notwithstanding atheist claims regarding the certainty of the non-existence of God, they are forced to admit that until all is known about life, the universe and everything, in theory he might still be found to be existing somewhere, thus making the cautionary "probably" a necessary insertion.Parker needs to talk to an atheist. I only say that because certainty is not available in anything except dogma. I mean, I can say with a very very high degree of certainty that the computer I am typing on will not just randomly float up to the ceiling. Can I say that with 100% certainty? No. More like 99%. Atheists are not "certain" that there is/are no god(s), we recognize that there is absolutely no evidence for the existence of said and live our lives as though there were no god(s) up there (or down there or under there) watching us on some celestial CCTV.
I love the bit where Parker says that atheists have been, "beaten up logically by by an apparently unending stream of Christian debaters". That is maybe the funniest thing I have read in a long long time. Who are these master debaters that have swash-buckled the atheists off the plank? Dinesh D'Souza? Alister McGrath? You have got to be joking.... Please enlighten me.
The bit about holding off judgment on god(s) existence until we know everything in the Universe is just ludicrous. So, because we can't prove for certain that there are no flying six-legged green buffalo on Venus, we can't logically be ahexabuffavertovenesian aeralists? That's just childish and stupid. That's called "shifting the burden of proof" and it is just not allowed. If YOU make the claim that there's an invisible man in the sky watching us and judging us, perhaps you could offer up some evidence before you call us atheists lame for saying we think you are full of horse pucky.
On to the next bit:
In fact, the atheist bus ads represent 17th-century French philosopher Blaise Pascal's wager in reverse. (Pascal said a person should "wager," or bet, that God exists, because by so doing the person has everything to gain if it turns out to be true, and nothing to lose if it turns out false.) Thus, the atheist's conclusion – "stop worrying" – becomes a complete non sequitur. Logically, the atheist ad's argument leads back to Pascal's original outcome: namely, that as long as there is the slightest chance God does exist, human beings are better off if they behave accordingly.What? This is a twist that requires some essplanin'. Pascal said that either there is no god, or there is a god. If He exists and you believe then you get eternal bliss, if you don't believe then it's the fires of Hell for you, my man. If there's no God and you believe, you lose nothing. If you don't believe, you lose nothing. The atheist bus signs have no relation to this silly false dichotomy (quadratomy?) We say that there is no evidence for any god(s), so just be a good person and enjoy your life. The fact that the word "probably" is in there lets everyone know that we, differing sharply from the religious folks, are not dogmatic and are open to new evidence should any pop up. We are not, however, holding our breath.
Next bit is this lovely bit of dodging:
It would never occur to Hitchens to write, as London Times columnist Matthew Parris did this past December: "Now a confirmed atheist, I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa: sharply distinct from the work of secular NGOs, government projects and international aid efforts. These alone will not do. Education and training alone will not do. In Africa Christianity changes people's hearts. It brings a spiritual transformation. The rebirth is real. The change is good."Here's the Parris article from The Times Online. I do not think that you will find any half-educated atheist who would say that everything religions do is evil, but what you will see is the subtitle of Hitchens' book - How Religion Poisons Everything. The good work by missionaries in African countries desperately in need of clean, safe drinking water is to their immense credit. The other side of that is evidenced by someone like the damn Pope, Chief Leader in a Dress, who shows up and tells everyone that the AIDS crisis in that continent will not be helped by condom use, but will be made worse. The good work done by so many poisoned by an "infallible" leader. This is our point and it is over-looked by Parker.
Finally comes Dawkins' The God Delusion, in which the author's intolerance and scorn toward those who believe is explained as his subjection of religious beliefs to the same rigorous examination afforded any scientific theory (except Darwinian evolution, of course – the justification of which has formed the matter for most of Dawkins' published work). Dawkins is convinced that all religions "close people's minds to scientific truth, oppress women and abuse children psycho-logically with the notion of eternal damnation."I had to cut this paragraph off because of the dumbness of Parker's whining about Darwinian evolution not being held to scientific scrutiny. I love it when an ex-minister, pro-life, pro-family voice (so read - anti-women's rights, fag hating) starts talking about the scientific theory of evolution by natural selection as though he were an authority. Talking to a man whose life has been consumed by evolutionary biology and telling him that the evidence supporting the theory is not held up to scientific standards. Do you think that Parker has ever heard the term, Scope of Practice? No, I don't think so. Scientific evidence for the theory of evolution? Here you go. Spend a weekend getting through that, sir.
And lastly, thankfully, blissfully....
But in spite of the apparent growth of atheism among the young, Hugo Meynell, retired professor of religious studies at the University of Calgary, suggests atheism is unsustainable in the long run. "The universe is intelligible," he argues, "and the very existence of science depends upon the fact that it is knowable, uniquely pre-shaped to be understood by the human mind. This did not happen by accident. We are part of a purposeful creation, and that implies the existence of a Creator."The quote from a retired religion professor: for when you absolutely, positively have to misunderstand every point a rational person makes. Accept no substitutes. "The universe is intelligible"? It's nice to just say that and have folks think you're being all deep, but you are declaring it with no evidence whatsoever. Sadly, that is typical of a mind warped by the authoritarian decrees of religions. Mind poisoning once again. We are not, "part of a purposeful creation", we just are. Apologies if that is too much for your brain to handle, but that is the way it is. Live your life with purpose and it shall have it. Spend your life drunk, high and violent and that shall be your legacy for eternity.
Atheists believe that this life is the only one we have and as such, we try to make the most of it so that our legacy - the memories of us in our friends, family and children - will be one that is worth keeping alive. That is heaven, sir.