Atheist Certainty vs The Reality

Sam Harris poses this question, “One wonders just how vast and gratuitous a catastrophe would have to be to shake the world’s faith?” He goes on in support of this question; “The Holocaust did not do it. Neither did the genocide in Rwanda, even with machete-wielding priests among the perpetrators. Five hundred million people died of small-pox in the twentieth century, many of them infants. God’s ways are, indeed, inscrutable. It seems that any fact, no matter how infelicitous, can be rendered compatible with religious faith.”

Yes, one wonders that belief continues despite a purported lack of evidence.

Mr. Harris, why hasn’t the evidence of there being no God changed the religious views of billions of people through the number of centuries that you might want include in consideration? Why, if the evidence is so apparent, so powerful, and beyond question, does Atheism not represent the dominant worldview? That is the question that you must answer before excoriating the belief of others, whether or not they are able to slake your cynically formulated demand for apologetic proof.

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7 thoughts on “Atheist Certainty vs The Reality

  1. “Why, if the evidence is so apparent, so powerful, and beyond question, does Atheism not represent the dominant worldview?”

    Because of the irrational, emotional desire of most humans to give some outside meaning to their lives. The desire for justice and order when sometimes there is only injustice and randomness. And the simple fact that children generally listen to the things their parents tell them, and so religion has latched on.

    • Hey morse, good points. Your second point is interesting but begs the question. My mom told me about Santa and yet, as I grew up I discovered evidence to the contrary so I no longer believe. Adults would not continue to believe something entirely contrary to their reality, even if they received the information from their parents.

      • “My mom told me about Santa and yet”

        The ‘problem’ with Santa is that he is given specific physical characteristics and attributes. Generally speaking, the religious do their best to keep descriptions of their deities as vague, nebulous and changeable as possible.

        If Santa was described as a feeling you get, with no physical body, and that he existed outside of nature so that science couldn’t detect him, and worked through his believers (like your parents) to deliver gifts, I imagine certain people would find it much easier to believe in him.

  2. Good point, Doulos. Harris makes also makes some good points in support of his excoriating of religion. But horrific religious excesses do not condemn faith, but only religion itself.

    • Christian! Been a long time. Hope your boy continues to do well in the Corps. Harris’ points tend toward hyperbole which makes him a tough read for the rational and informed. Example, he brings up Rwanda and the machete wielding priest(s) as though the entire Catholic presence turned as one and took up the long knives against their parishioners. Those without sufficient background lap this stuff up and repeat it over and over.

  3. I think the thrust of Harris argument is that a theodicy that’s consistent with any state of the world (i.e. any level of suffering or horror from nearly none at all to monstrous and nearly absolute) is essentially Panglossian. That is to say that by being able to explain anything at all, it doesn’t explain or point to much of anything, including not having much in particular to say about God.

    It’s the same as if someone argued that the discovery of X in the universe proves conclusion Y. But if that same person would also argue that the non-existence of X also proves conclusion Y, then it seems more as if the existence or non-existence of X really isn’t relevant to conclusion Y.

  4. Drew, if Harris is claiming naivete on the part of billions of believers it’s simply because he cannot honestly interact with the evidence that undergirds this belief. He’s deeply dishonest and immature in his approach which amounts to nothing but juvenile mockery and angry ad hominem attacks.

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