5/13/2012 | Share this article: View CommentsBy WizenedSage (Galen Rose) ~
It appears to be fashionable these days to call atheists arrogant. Over and over we read how Dawkins is arrogant, Hitchens perhaps even more so, and Sam Harris is clearly just a “know-it-all” with an attitude problem. In fact, if you read the postings on this site for a bit, you will “learn” that we un-famous atheists are arrogant, too.
Now, if expressing an unpopular opinion means that one is arrogant, then we have no defense. But, let’s look at a typical dictionary definition of the word: “Arrogant; having or showing an exaggerated opinion of one's own importance, merit, ability, etc.; conceited; overbearingly proud.”
That part about “having or showing an exaggerated opinion of one's own importance, merit, ability,” catches my eye. Isn’t it Christians who claim they are god’s “saved?” Talk about “one’s own importance!” Isn’t it Christians who claim they KNOW which is the real god and what he wants from us? Mightn’t that be an exaggerated opinion of one’s abilities? I certainly wouldn’t claim the ability to identify a real god, with any certainty. So who is the arrogant one, here?
While the Christian claims he KNOWS with certainty that Bible-god is the one true god, I humbly submit that different people have claimed thousands of different gods to be the one true god, we know for certain that thousands of those were false gods, and so I have no confidence that I could do any better spotting the real god than those people did. Do you not see the difference here? The very fact that men have followed thousands of false gods convinces me that we humans are hopeless when it comes to identifying which gods are real and which are false.
But the Christian brushes all that aside, because he knows. And how does he know? Because people told him so, or he feels it, or both. The Bible tells him which is the real god, though how the Christian can tell the Bible is the real “holy” book and not one of the others, like the Quran, the Bhagavad Gita, etc., he seems unable to explain. But, generally this doesn’t trouble him because he feels the presence of the one true god within himself. How he knows which god it is that he feels must remain a mystery.
William Lane Craig speaks of the “self-verification” of the Holy Ghost within himself being sufficient proof of god for him, and most Christians would buy this. Call me a nit picker, but I have a problem with anyone claiming they can feel the truth. I have first-hand experience on this issue which convinces me that these people are just fooling themselves. I once felt the presence of a god, and constantly “conversed” with this god inside my head. I no longer feel that presence. Obviously, god either exists or he doesn’t, and my feelings have never been able to prove it either way because my feelings have been on both sides of the issue. In other words, my feelings failed to prove anything. Now, who is the arrogant one? Is it Craig, who claims he can feel truth, or me, who has no confidence in his feelings as a test of truth? It seems that old adage applies here: Faith means never having to say you’re wrong.
Many Christians are so arrogantly certain that they have the truth that they have no interest in studying further. Many will deny evolution, although they obviously have never read anything on evolution that wasn’t written by creationists.
Also, home schooling is apparently on the rise in America today. Why? Because many Christian parents don’t want their children exposed to unapproved information. Christian parents and preachers seem to be insisting that what people “knew” 2,000 years ago is more important than anything man has learned since. Most Christian congregations encourage their members to avoid marrying outside the faith, and some even frown on members even mingling with non-Christians. There is a pattern here. It appears that Christians are so sure they have the truth that they often actively avoid gaining further information. It seems to me that if one truly wants to find the truth, the real truth, then he should follow the path containing the MOST information. Isn’t this obvious?
I find that most of the atheists I know are hungry for information. A great many are science enthusiasts and are well read in world history. Tellingly, many atheists are also surprisingly conversant in theology. Now who are the arrogant ones? Are those who are constantly seeking more information and revising their opinions really the arrogant ones? That was a rhetorical question – no answer necessary.
So, Christians are convinced they have the truth because they have been told this (by the Bible, preachers, parents, etc.), or they feel it, or both, while atheists suspect there is no god. Now, I don’t know of any atheists who think they can prove there is no god. They merely believe that gods are extremely unlikely, like dragons are unlikely, and so they don’t believe in them.
For myself, I don’t believe in gods because I know I cannot trust my feelings to identify the truth, and I don’t know why I should be able to tell a real god when I see one, any more than those millions throughout history who have worshipped thousands of false gods. Did I say, “when I see one?” Yes, and I meant to say that, for that is exactly the problem, you see. All gods are invisible. How convenient.
As Discordia recently pointed out on this site, the Christian god is all-powerful and can do anything, anything at all, it appears, except prove that he exists. Well, he either can’t or won’t prove it, and it really doesn’t much matter which it is. For thousands of years we humans have been fighting over which is the real god, or which sect has the real truth. We have mistreated each other horribly over these questions, from the Crusades through the Inquisitions, to fighting over abortion and gay marriage. Given this history, I think we humans have a right - and maybe even a moral obligation to each other - to refuse acceptance of the claims pertaining to any god until that god proves his or her existence. If there’s a real god, then he/she surely would understand this position.
It is because I am NOT arrogant that I make this proposal. It is because I recognize that I cannot prove whether there is or isn’t a god. Think about it: why in hell should we humans suffer, generation after generation, for our gullibility - simply because some god can’t or won’t prove that he exists such that we can all agree on it? This is a lousy, unfair deal, and we should simply refuse it. And what kind of perverse, arrogant god would fault us for refusing to beat each other up over gods any longer, while he refuses to prove decisively that he exists?