The Dishonesty of my Interactions with Theists
Recently, I have been called “closed-minded” in arguments with theists. I have been told that I accept “real” science because it supports my worldview. I have thick skin, the comments do not bother me as such. What bothers me is that the particular theists that I am debating have the entire conversation upside down. Let me explain.
I, and most of the other atheists that I interact with are very open-minded. In fact, they are among the most open minded people that I know. Just about every atheist that I interact with does something along the lines of the following:
- Listen to idea x
- Research, read, learn more about idea X (This includes reading what the experts on idea X have to say. What have their studies shown? Does idea X have logical fallacies? Is there proof? What are the critiques of that proof, etc).
- Either accept or reject idea X based on evidence/facts/sound logic
I realize that the above list simplifies things a bit, but I think you all get the point. For me, and most of the other atheists that I interact with, evidence is of the utmost importance.
With this view, how can I be anything other than open-minded? I will take whatever viewpoint the above process leads me towards. I do not use my worldview to help form what I believe. What I believe, through evidence, leads to my worldview.
I do not believe in non-supernatural evolution because I am an atheist. One of the reasons I am an atheist is because I believe all life on this planet happened through non-supernatural evolution. I would make the same argument for cosmology/origins of universe. I do not believe that the universe lacks a supernatural creator because I am an atheist. One of the reasons I am an atheist is because I believe we did not need a supernatural being to create it.
I was asked in an interview by Grundy who blogs at Deity Shmeity, he interviewed a bunch of atheist bloggers and it is well worth your checking out. You can read them here. In that interview he asked me what it would take for me to believe in god. My answer was:
I would need to see some concrete proof to believe in a god. No proof that is theological, philosophical, or metaphysical would really suffice. Those are all old news and I do not see anything new coming from those fields. I do not see how science will ever uncover a god, but if it did, through the scientific method, through the rigors of peer review, that could do it. I would buy something as simple as a mass prayer actually working to heal someone. I suppose there is a good reason why religions always reject that challenge i.e.—have all Catholics pray to heal a blind guy. If that kind of thing actually worked, I would be willing to rethink my view. In truth, I do not see any of those things happening.
To expand on that idea. I would accept any strong scientific and empirical proof. By strong, I mean one that has been vetted—tested, repeatable, peer reviewed, falsifiable, etc. I am quite open to the idea of believing in a god. I have just not seen any credible evidence for doing so. I would argue that my view is common to the vast majority of atheists that I interact with. We follow where the evidence leads us. (Please bear in mind that acceptance of a deity is no way an acceptance of any of the current religions, that is a separate topic).
I would further argue that most theists that I interact with are the ones who are closed-minded. They reject many advances in knowledge from science because they do not fit into their religious worldview. They bend over backwards in attempts to explain away the evidence. The presupposition of a deity is so central to their worldview, they refuse to look at things differently. (Again, before the theist commenters attack me, I am referring to the majority of theists that I interact with). Where is the open-mindedness in that? Where is the honesty in that? Where is any concern for learning the truth about existence in that?
Many of these same theists will then point to theist scientists, who have largely been discredited by the vast majority of the scientific community to bolster their case. We are told that the vast majority of scientists are either wrong or are in league conspiring against religion. Where is the open-mindedness, honesty, and value to truth in pointing to failed and/or conspiracy theories to support one’s case? Yet, I (and other atheists) are often the ones accused of just those things at this point in the conversation. It becomes a dead end. ..but not because of my closed-mindedness, but because of the theist’s refusal to think “outside the box” of the religion to which they subscribe.
I have already done that thinking. I was a theist. I have already done what I am asking them to do. I do not find that closed-minded or dishonest at all.
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