Don’t smite me… No duh.
Heeeey, guess what? I’m fine. I can be as irreverent and disrespectful as I want. No deity ever does anything about it. And since I don’t live in a Middle Eastern country or a rural isolated area of Africa, the worst that ever happens is religious people stop talking to me. And that ain’t so bad. As I mentioned last time in the post about reification, the Biblical world where stuff happens such as god coming down and doing shit, is something of myths and fables and the imagination, that we are supposed to accept existed thousands of years ago. It isn’t real.
As much as you reify your Biblical world and your god, it is just an idea. God is an abstraction that explains the unknown and puts it in a neat little black box, a ready-made magical answer to everything. If you’re a believer, you simultaneously know that god is abstract, and forget it, but because you treat this abstraction as something concrete, it remains conveniently undefined and ambiguous. And convenient. Above all, it is a great convenience that your god remains undefined because you never have to qualify what this vague idea of a god actually is. When somebody questions it, it’s easy to turn the tables and expect them to satisfy the burden of proof. But that’s not my main subject today…
Today I want to comment on this stupid Dawkins scale that pops up in every atheist group over and over again:
According to every other analysis everywhere:
- Positions 1 and 7 are impossible.
- Number 6 is left as the strongest possible (in other words rational) atheist position.
But I call bullshit.
I get the drill. I can’t prove that some unfalsifiable god doesn’t exist outside of the bounds of the laws of physics, and I can’t prove a negative; therefore the strongest position I should rationally take is that of an agnostic atheist. According to this argument, the existence or lack of existence is unknowable. But I still don’t buy it.
I also can’t prove that there isn’t a monster hiding under my bed. Maybe it moves when I look there? But you know while reading this that the monster is not real and I made it up.
Here’s the thing… Even in that argument, god is treated as something concrete. It reminds me of the media bias called false balance, where two “sides” of an argument are always treated as equal, even if one side is a fringe view based on outright nonsense. (Edit: That seems to be an example of a fallacy I hadn’t heard of: Argument to moderation.) The two sides here are positions one and seven; certainty that a god exists versus certainty that a god does not exist. Sure, when you phrase it like that, it seems reasonable. But it isn’t. God is nothing more than an abstraction. So god certainly exists, but not like theists think… God exists only as an idea. God is man-made but it is the reified deity that the argument refers to. And thus it is perfectly reasonable to take position seven. I don’t have to prove that a man-made fictional deity doesn’t exist, just like I don’t have to prove there isn’t a monster hiding under my bed.
I’m struggling to express this clearly and reading it back, remain uncertain if I have. Have I? There are multiple claims of gods, and believers often quote the words of their various claims (like the Bible or whatever) but seem to miss on something important: the existence of a claim does not make the claim true. It is evidence only of the belief and not in the subject believed. The fact that many such claims exist only makes it interesting in terms of the need to believe, and the mistake of treating this abstraction as concrete being common. If even Richard Dawkins can bake this mistake right into his scale, it says more about the way the human brain works than it does about an idea, like god, that the human brain came up with. I hope Dawkins would agree with me on this.