Subject: Rejection and lack of belief (was: Some Questions) Summary: Let's not make it too

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Path: ncsuvm!ncsuvx!mephisto!tut.cis.ohio-state.edu!cs.utexas.edu!turpin From: turpin@cs.utexas.edu (Russell Turpin) Newsgroups: talk.religion.misc Subject: Rejection and lack of belief (was: Some Questions) Summary: Let's not make it too hard ... Message-ID: <7644@cs.utexas.edu> Date: 19 Jan 90 22:57:08 GMT References: <18522@dartvax.Dartmouth.EDU> <7413@chaph.usc.edu> <1078@dinorah.wustl.edu> Organization: U. Texas CS Dept., Austin, Texas Lines: 62 In article <1078@dinorah.wustl.edu>, mary@dinorah.wustl.edu (Mary E. Leibach) writes: > Methinks it is less a matter of us choosing not to accept Him, as it > is a matter of you proving to us beyond a doubt that your God exists > as you say He exists. If you provide such proof, and your reader > believes you are correct, and still refuses to accept Him, then and > only then can the reader be held accountable for making a choice. A > person cannot choose to offend what that person does not believe > exists! Mere mention of your beliefs does not constitute absolute > proof. Ms Leibach has a good point, but I think it can be made stronger by asking for something more reasonable than proof "beyond a doubt". Many atheists (perhaps not Ms Leibach) would believe if only there were evidence for god even as strong as there is for the mundane facts of life, for example, that the Roman empire ruled the Mediterranean for centuries, or that Cepheid variables provide an approximate measure of astronomical distance, or that many computer chips are manufactured in Japan. As it is, theists have great difficulty explaining why we should put any more stock in their gods than in Santa Claus. As long as this is the case, Ms Leibach's point holds. If there is a Santa Claus, then I am willing to accept his gifts. If there is a Christ, then I am willing to accept his sacrifice. But until the Christians can provide a reasonable account of their beliefs, I am no more willing to believe in their Christ than I am to believe in Santa Claus. Their feeble attempts to blame the non-believer for her or his lack of belief usually relies on the equivocation that Ms Leibach exposes. "What else can god do," they ask "with those who reject him?" When justifying the salvation (and damnation) scheme that is part of their religion, they paint this rejection as an issue of contrary will, as if a man who has fallen off a ship were pushing away a life preserver. But in this sense, rejection has nothing to do with the issue of belief, which must be addressed *prior* to the question of acceptance or rejection. If we are to stick to the analogy of the man overboard, it is as if he comes across another person who has been swept overboard also. This person is a Christian and says he will give the first fellow one of his life preservers, and makes a throwing motion as if doing so. The first man sees and feels nothing, and so he asks "What direction did you throw it?" The Christian says he can't exactly say. The first man who still sees nothing asks "What color?" The Christian says the issue of color isn't applicable because this kind of life preserver is invisible. The first man, still splashing around for the life preserver, asks "How will I know when I have grabbed ahold of it?" The Christian responds that it feels a lot like duck weed. They are both in the middle of a lot of duckweed, and the first man wants to know how he can tell the difference between it and the life preserver. The Christian responds that there is no objective way he can tell this. At this point, the first man observes that the Christian is himself holding onto a lot of duckweed, and it doesn't seem to be helping him any. He decides he is better off trying to swim to shore than relying on the Christian's "life preserver". The Christian shouts "Well, if you drown it's your own damn fault for being so contrary!" Russell

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