Saturday, July 28, 2012

6 Reasons to Believe in God - Reason 5 - God is Perusing You


Chipmunk looking over shoulder
Always make sure you're not
being followed!

Lately, I've been deconstructing a webpage that describes six reasons to believe in God. I first saw it as an ad, and decided to look into it.

My prior posts are:
Today's Reason - #5 - God is Pursuing Us (dust your tracks!)

5. Does God exist? We know God exists because he pursues us. He is constantly initiating and seeking for us to come to him. 
I was an atheist at one time. And like many atheists, the issue of people believing in God bothered me greatly. What is it about atheists that we would spend so much time, attention, and energy refuting something that we don't believe even exists?! What causes us to do that? When I was an atheist, I attributed my intentions as caring for those poor, delusional people...to help them realize their hope was completely ill-founded. To be honest, I also had another motive. As I challenged those who believed in God, I was deeply curious to see if they could convince me otherwise. Part of my quest was to become free from the question of God. If I could conclusively prove to believers that they were wrong, then the issue is off the table, and I would be free to go about my life. 
I didn't realize that the reason the topic of God weighed so heavily on my mind, was because God was pressing the issue. I have come to find out that God wants to be known. He created us with the intention that we would know him. He has surrounded us with evidence of himself and he keeps the question of his existence squarely before us. It was as if I couldn't escape thinking about the possibility of God. In fact, the day I chose to acknowledge God's existence, my prayer began with, "Ok, you win..." It might be that the underlying reason atheists are bothered by people believing in God is because God is actively pursuing them. 
I am not the only one who has experienced this. Malcolm Muggeridge, socialist and philosophical author, wrote, "I had a notion that somehow, besides questing, I was being pursued." C.S. Lewis said he remembered, "...night after night, feeling whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England." 
Lewis went on to write a book titled, "Surprised by Joy" as a result of knowing God. I too had no expectations other than rightfully admitting God's existence. Yet over the following several months, I became amazed by his love for me.
This reason is weird. 


It doesn't actually have a reason stated - it more digresses into complaining about atheists. Perhaps maybe the point is that if you try to believe, God will make himself known to you? No, I got it - this is an Argument from Personal Experience - something which is necessarily first-person.


Anyway, let's go through this blob of words. I'm just going to tear into this one all chipmunk-like, and squeak obnoxiously when I detect a bad argument.
Does God exist?
Great question! Let's find some evidence and see!
We know God exists because he pursues us.
Alright, I shut my lights and peered out into the darkness. I've looked behind me many times. I've dusted my tracks. I'm sure I'm not being followed.

I don't know God exists. That's why I'm an atheist. I have yet to see any actual evidence supporting this assertion (and no, logical fallacies do not count as evidence).
He is constantly initiating and seeking for us to come to him. 
I haven't observed any indication that anything like this is true. What are you talking about? I see religious nuts, but no indication that any supernatural entity exists, at all, anywhere, ever.
I was an atheist at one time.
I love the "I used to be an atheist" arguments! In my mind, it's like the person just said, "I used to be rational!" - well good for you!

People can become atheists for bad reasons (such as from emotional circumstances or just plain ignorance), and those who become atheists for bad reasons can stop being atheists for bad reasons. I think part of the point of this tagline is to try to gain some kind of credibility with atheists, I think.

Yeah? Well, guess what? I used to be a believer in Christianity. Does that build credibility with you?
And like many atheists, the issue of people believing in God bothered me greatly.
I don't think he actually talked with other atheists. The mere fact that people believe in a higher power doesn't tend to bother us. It's what the believers do because of those beliefs. For instance, I currently have no animosity towards the Jewish people, because they aren't taking actions to drag America back into the Dark Ages, for instance (that I know of).

If someone believes in God, and they aren't bothering anyone else, I could care less.
What is it about atheists that we would spend so much time, attention, and energy refuting something that we don't believe even exists?! What causes us to do that?
Easy. It's not about the beliefs. It's about the believers. Evangelical Christians today are steadily attempting to reduce science education into Sunday school, trying to enforce their doctrine onto everyone else through legislation, and a plethora of other things.


By refuting the beliefs, we deconvert people, which translates into less people doing incredibly stupid things.


This shouldn't be surprising. Skeptics in general attack things like homeopathy, crystal healing and other new age frauds - as things that waste our time, waste our money, and prevent us from fixing real problems. What we're trying to do is prevent the religious from sabotaging American scientific literacy, freedoms and damaging basic critical thinking and analysis skills in the general population.


This isn't some petty vindictive agenda - it's real world problems being caused by theists.


Refuting bad ideas is basically mental hygiene.
When I was an atheist, I attributed my intentions as caring for those poor, delusional people...to help them realize their hope was completely ill-founded.
So, basically you were an asshole? When it comes to the topic of hope, atheists have replaced false hope with reality based hope. Part of the deconversion process is replacing the religious emotional framework with a reality-based one. It's necessary most of the time for the sake of the person.

That's not even the goal of any atheist I've ever heard of. The goal is to try to convince theists to join the rest of us in the real world - a better, more exciting, true world. Hope wasn't even a topic, other than something that needed to be repaired from the damage of theism.

I don't think that having a sense of hope that's predicated on the existence of Batman is healthy.
To be honest, I also had another motive. As I challenged those who believed in God, I was deeply curious to see if they could convince me otherwise. Part of my quest was to become free from the question of God. If I could conclusively prove to believers that they were wrong, then the issue is off the table, and I would be free to go about my life. 
You are an odd individual. The only reason why atheists aren't free to go about their lives is because the theists keep pestering us, slashing our tires, firing us from jobs, de-friending us on Facebook, going on Fox News and telling the world that we're evil amoral people, destroying science education, rendering it impossible for atheists to run for any public office, knocking at our doors trying to convert us, costing America $71 billion a year in tax revenue, etc.

We're happy to live our lives, if only theists would let us.

The reason we confront these beliefs is because they're the root of all these "evils".

So far, you don't sound like you were a terribly rational atheist.
I didn't realize that the reason the topic of God weighed so heavily on my mind, was because God was pressing the issue.
Strange, it weights on my mind because the asshat theists keep walloping me over the head with it.

This line of argumentation is fairly obnoxious, by the way - Atheists don't actually disbelieve in God! They know, deep down inside, that there is one - they're just denying it. How do I know? Well, because I was afflicted with this hallucination, and I'm going to project that on all other atheists! Can I get an amen, brother!
I have come to find out that God wants to be known. He created us with the intention that we would know him.
How do you know this? How do you know there's a god at all? The author appears to have vanished into fantasy world - I'm not following what he's saying.
He has surrounded us with evidence of himself and he keeps the question of his existence squarely before us.
Wait, what? Where?

Hell, I came to this website to see what the "reasons" were for believing in a god. I thought that meant evidence. No evidence was provided - only logical fallacy after consecutive logical fallacy.

Please, dear author, can you cite one piece of evidence that isn't an argument (arguments aren't evidence, by the way), that doesn't employ a logical fallacy, and actually follows the standards of evidence?

One? Please?

I look at the world around me, and all I see are natural mechanisms and processes. I'm not seeing even a hint of anything supernatural in any way, shape or form. Just what are you talking about?
It was as if I couldn't escape thinking about the possibility of God.
I'm sorry for you. Most atheists don't have that problem.
In fact, the day I chose to acknowledge God's existence, my prayer began with, "Ok, you win..." It might be that the underlying reason atheists are bothered by people believing in God is because God is actively pursuing them. 
Author is careening deeper into fantasy world. To believe in God without sufficient evidence is insane. It's definitionally irrational.

As I explained before, the reasons why atheists are bothered by theists is because they keep pulling stupid crap - we don't care that they believe - it's their actions. I don't care if someone out there believes in Zeus. I will care once that person starts introducing legislation to replace science class with Zeus-worship, though.
I am not the only one who has experienced this. Malcolm Muggeridge, socialist and philosophical author, wrote, "I had a notion that somehow, besides questing, I was being pursued." C.S. Lewis said he remembered, "...night after night, feeling whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England." 
Now we're getting into another type of logical fallacy - Argument from Popularity.


It doesn't matter if only one person on the face of the planet doesn't believe - theists are still wrong until they prove their God claims. And no, I'm not surprised that there are other irrational people on this planet with similarly crippled critical thinking skills, such as yours.


Unfortunately, it happens. I hate to say it, but many irrational atheists exist too. That's life.
Lewis went on to write a book titled, "Surprised by Joy" as a result of knowing God. I too had no expectations other than rightfully admitting God's existence. Yet over the following several months, I became amazed by his love for me.
You mean that you finished Ascending into Insanity. I understand that.

I'm still waiting for evidence for a God. Your personal experience with delusion is not valid evidence.

This is My Personal Experience

Chipmunk
As long as we're talking about personal experiences, here's a brief overview of mine.

I grew up in a Christian household - a fairly casual/liberal one. We had crucifixes everywhere, Bibles lying around, etc. We used to go to church every Sunday (my god - was church boring!)

I believed in God, not because I had ever experienced anything supernatural, but merely because I was raised in a household where it was simply regarded as fact.

A number of incidents happened that started to chip away at my belief. 

One day, my mother came to me and said something to the effect of "If you believe enough, you can move mountains." My 12-year old self thought that was awesome, and of course, decided to look off into the distance at the mountains, and, well, try to move them! Nothing. I didn't walk away from that thinking, "Oh, I just didn't believe enough" - I walked away concluding that the claim was in error.

Every time I wished on a birthday candle, or broke a wishbone, it was a strike against superstitious thinking.

Slowly, gradually, my belief waned, year after year. At one point, I was in my room at night praying to God to give me any sign that he was real. Nothing. 

That wasn't the end of my belief, but it continued to wane until my early 20s, when I was introspectively thinking about my belief in God, and I came to the realization of - "You know what? I don't actually believe in God anymore... I guess that makes me an... atheist." I simply found that my belief in God did not correlate to reality at all, ever.

I had done an "audit" of my entire life's experiences, and discovered a staggering void of any supernatural experience or anything. I found that my prayers were for things that would have happened anyway, and if they didn't, I rationalized away the discrepancy. I found that the "efficacy" of prayer was indistinguishable from prayer not working at all.

What I found was that life with a belief in God was exactly the same as a life without a belief in God. After that, it was simply Occam's razor. 

For awhile after that, I didn't care much about the subject at all. I started to become an "atheist activist" as I became more aware about the damage theism was doing to society around me - to things I cared about, like science and society - which leads up until now.

I probably left quite a number of things out, but that's the basic idea.

So, dear author of website, let me ask you - why is your personal experience more valid than mine?

You can try to excuse the scenarios when I didn't observe anything supernatural, but that doesn't matter. The only thing that matters in Arguments from Personal Experience is what I think I experienced, right? That's the problem with these types of arguments - how much they correlate to reality is irrelevant.

Recap

I'm still not entirely sure what the "reason" for believing in God was supposed to be. It appeared to be some kind of anecdote/testimony that has no relevance to me.

On top of that, the author seemed to be a delusional/irrational atheist, and because of that, had a systemic failure of intellectual functionality, leading him to believe irrational claims.

I'm not sure why that's a reason for me to believe in God.

I'm still waiting for, you know, evidence.

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