Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Don't Trivialize My God or The Differences in Our World Views

Our ancestors were severely lacking in accurate knowledge of the physical world. This led them to invent explanations for phenomena they didn't understand. Our ancestors would quite naturally attribute agency to mysterious forces they observed. This attribution of agency is thought by some to have been the precursor of mankinds modern religious beliefs.

The video below is Dr. Oakley's response to the "One Less God" argument commonly heard made by atheists. Most atheists I know think the argument is not only a valid one but also funny and clever. Theist, of course, see the argument quite differently. To them it is neither funny nor clever.

Dr. Oakley claims that the "One Less God" is flawed because you can't compare the true God, Yahweh, to pagan gods. A belief or disbelief in the monotheistic god Yahweh who is transcendent, self-contained and eternal is nothing like a belief or disbelief in the pagan gods Zeus or Thor. The meaning he wants to stress is that there is only one true God, his God, the Christian God of the bible.

Then Dr. Oakley uses the "Empty Angst" argument. (Life without God is meaningless.) It is not an argument at all but an assertion that is made by comparing the commonly held misconceptions about atheists to the Christians idealized image of themselves that places them in a cosmic relationship with the almighty. Dr. Oakley presents his argument in the form of a question. What would you rather believe in, the atheistic world view or the Christian world view? Would you want to be the product of impersonal, random chance, devoid of any purpose or meaning, destined to planetary heat-death, or would you prefer to be a creature of God, created by a divine being, with an absolute, transcendental purpose, with God taking a personal interest in you and your well-being? It is clear the Christian narrative is the only correct choice.

Atheist = all bad. Theist = all good. Theist wins. Black and white is easy to understand. Thankfully for us, Dr. Oakley seems to be a master at making clear distinctions. He can see the chasms we seem to miss entirely.

Dr. Oakley's message when reduced to its core is this. Atheists are categorically, and massively wrong when they suggest the difference between a Theist and a non-believer is the number of gods not believed in. Atheists are wrong to trivialize Yahweh. Atheist don't seem to understand the chasm that lies between them and believers.

If atheists could understand just how bad atheists really are and how good Christians are in comparison, they might then be able to understand just how non-trivial the chasm between them really is.

Dr. Oakley makes it easy for me to understand that the vast chasms that separate people are often generated by a belief in God; the more absolute the belief, the wider the chasm.

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