Thank You for Telling Me What I Believe

Not too long ago, I got
this reply
from one Ælfheah to a comment of mine:

‘Atheism’, for your information, does not mean a lack of religion, or, for that matter, a lack of religious beliefs. Abram was not an atheist before God revealed Himself to him.

‘Atheism’ means a belief that God does not exist. Merely not believing in God is commonly called ‘agnosticism’. An agnostic is someone who is (theoretically) prepared to believe in God if he is shown some evidence – which is of course a fallacy, given that God is infinite and so would require an infinite amount of evidence for His existence to be “proved”.

And more recently, S. forwarded
this article
by Sam Storms at the ironically-named Banner of Truth:

Do honest atheists exist? By honest, I don’t mean atheists who pay their taxes and keep their promises and choose not to steal or lie. What I mean in asking the question is whether or not there exists an atheist who honestly believes there is no God.

I contend they do not. I contend that they are living and speaking in denial of what they know to be true. I contend that they are labouring to persuade themselves of what is indelibly and inescapably inscribed on their hearts: that there is a God and that they are morally accountable to him.

(emphasis added.)

Gosh, isn’t it kind of these people to tell me what I believe? I
wonder whether they’d be happy to turn the tables and allow me to tell
them who is and isn’t a True Christian.

Storms bases his claim partly on
Romans 1:20,
by way of John Calvin, to add a bit of argument-from-authority sauce
to his argument from authority.

The other half of the argument is the venerable argumentum ad

  1. Look at the universe and the trees and stuff.
  2. Wow.
  3. Therefore, God exists.

The Bible says everyone believes in God. If anyone claims otherwise,
it must be because they’re lying, not because there’s an error in the

Ælfheah, on the other hand, seems to want to redefine 95% of
self-described atheists as agnostics. And his definition of an
agnostic, as someone who would believe in a god if there were good
evidence, fits 95% of the self-described atheists I’ve met.

Except that he then commits the all-or-nothing fallacy:

given that God is infinite and so would require an infinite amount of evidence for His existence to be “proved”.

Okay, technically he’s right: if God is infinitely powerful, then a
feat like building pyramids like the ones in Egypt could be
accomplished either by God, or by humans, or by space aliens. Other
feats, like putting Venus in orbit around Saturn, could be done either
by a god or by sufficiently-powerful aliens, and so forth. Any given
feat could be the work of aliens who are advanced and powerful enough
to accomplish that feat, but are not infinitely powerful. So
in that sense, no evidence is sufficient to establish the existence
of an infinitely powerful god.

But at some point, the question becomes moot. If we’re talking about
aliens who can create universes, rearrange time and space like Legos,
and know everyone’s thoughts, then they may as well be gods, for all
practical purposes. If such a being were demonstrated to exist, you
might as well behave as if it’s infinitely powerful.

But of course theists haven’t demonstrated anything like that. The
argument between theists and atheists isn’t over whether the being
that rearranged stars to spell out “I am the LORD thy God” in Aramaic
as seen from Earth was infinitely powerful, or merely extremely
powerful. The argument is whether there’s any good evidence
for any gods at all.

I can see where this all-or-nothing approach can be useful: “I’ll
never get all of the bugs out of this program, so I won’t do any
debugging”; “I’ll never know everything, so there’s no point in
learning anything”.

So anyway, a True Christian™ is someone who covers himself in
strawberry jam on Fridays while singing medleys of show tunes. All the
rest of you who call yourselves Christians are just lying to
yourselves and to me to mask the shame of not liking jam.

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2 Responses to Thank You for Telling Me What I Believe

  1. the chaplain says:

    You’re a bit behind the times. The early True Christians were, indeed, strawberry jammers. They’ve since divided into grape jam and raspberry jam sects. Then, there’s the newly emergent strawberry jelly sect for those finicky True Christians who don’t like the seeds that came in their jam. Oh, there’s also the Australian Marmite Christian sect – they cover themselves in marmite on Saturdays, not Fridays, and sing Irish ballads rather than show tunes. And, please, don’t get me started on the Southern Peanut Butter sect – every now and then the peanut butter sticks to the roofs of their mouths and it’s hard to tell whether they’re speaking in tongues. Very confusing, really. But, they play their banjos and fiddles mighty well, so one can always clap along, even if one doesn’t know the words to the songs.


  2. Crystal D. says:

    My fiance got a letter delivered to our home address (someone found his name on an atheist site and actually looked him up), and a paragraph of the letter literally started with: “Let me tell you what you believe:” We laughed our asses off at that one. What kind of person writes a letter to a stranger telling them what they believe? 🙂


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