First, a little heads up to creationists who think they can convert atheists. These kinds of arguments don’t work…
Having said that, there are a couple of points of interest here…
Creationists in general often share the same kinds of rhetoric when it comes to religious apologetics, but this is an interesting place where Christians and Muslims differ:
- Christian literalists, such as those guys from Answers in Genesis, invent their own science. They have their own universities and dubious qualifications in science that has been twisted to follow their dogma.
- Islamic scholars, on the other hand, will take things they observe in real science, and twist their own doctrines, reinterpreting them such that they “predict” things that have been proven to be true.
Both are wrong. It’s just interesting that they take the opposite approach. But whether you change the science to match the dogma, or try to interpret the dogma in such a way that it somehow predicted the science even though it clearly did not, you’re still wrong.
The post I refer to today was shared by a Muslim, so it tries to claim that the fires of Hell, as described in their religious text, burn black, “as it says” in modern science and thus the Quran is correct. Except they fuck it up, because such a fire will burn white, not black. Thus their claim couldn’t be more wrong. Still… white… black, they had a 50/50 chance of getting it. Regardless, there are many of them who do nothing but make this kind of argument in debate groups, some of which are quite comical because they take verses about, for example conception, and try to read actual science into them.
Of course threatening someone who doesn’t believe in life after death, or a soul, with eternal torment, in a literal fire, to their incorporeal soul, is never going to convert anybody. That’s without even considering that a deity that created beings only to torment them forever if they don’t worship him would be evil. And there’s no reason such a creator would demand worship anyway.
What fascinates me the most about such arguments is that those who make them seem oblivious to bias. Someone brought up Christian, for example, only ever takes Christianity seriously. So if you present a claim to an atheist who used to be Christian, the chances are high that you’re dealing with an atheist who is only interested in debating Christians. They don’t believe in Christianity, but having been raised Christian will at least have a reaction to Christian claims. It might be an emotional reaction. It could be some kind of trauma. It might even be anger, but we are all biased, even if only a little. Thus much of the time, you will only have something to debate if the atheist at least used to believe in your religion. Claims from other religions are perceived as little more than jokes. I try to be aware of my bias and at least make an effort to engage even with other creationists apart from Christians, but still… such bias is understandable. I’d much rather engage with somebody who believes in something I used to believe myself because I have an emotional investment in it, than something I never even considered believing in, even before I became an atheist. We don’t all do this though.
Creationists, though, are not only unaware of the biases in atheists they deal with, but unaware of their own biases too. This is where it gets amusing even if we atheists are not biased towards our own former religion, because creationists will often make similar non sequiturs but reach different conclusions. So they present similar arguments such as the argument from first cause, Pascal’s Wager, or the argument from morality, and then leap to “therefore god”. But ask them “which god?” and they get confused. This is because they all beg the question, all start with the conclusion that their (specific) god exists and then use motivated reasoning to make pseudo-logic that arrives at that predetermined conclusion. But they don’t realize they’re doing this, don’t realize that the conclusion does not follow, and hence the confusion at “which god?”.
I wrote this hours ago but was down with a cold today… Feeling much better now after much cold medication and a few hours sleep but I have no recollection of what the last paragraph was supposed to be. I like it anyway. I think it is important for us to be aware of biases, our own and that of others. Some people seem to enjoy endless debating, even when talking past each other and never getting anywhere. Not me. I’ll point out what I see that’s wrong, including the biases and assumptions, and if the other person makes the same argument again, rephrased but no better, I just leave. No point in wasting more time.