Monday, April 9, 2012

The Atheist Experience: be like a little child

This is an excerpt from an old episode of the Atheist Experience TV show, episode #369, hosted by Ashley Perrien and Martin Wagner.

Their caller: "When you're trying to understand things, you have to be like a little child before you accept Christ in your life."

But why is that? Well, little children are naturally gullible. Little children have trouble separating fantasy from reality. And little children tend to believe authority figures - even about such things as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and God.

But children are that way naturally. It's how they can absorb vast amounts of information as they're growing up. Unfortunately, not all of that information is true. After all, your parents weren't infallible.

And it's not a good thing for an adult to be so gullible. Adults should be skeptical. Adults should question what they've been told. Adults should try to be sure they've got good reasons for their beliefs. At the very least, that way, you can avoid passing along bad information to the next generation.

Try thinking about it as an intelligent adult. What's the difference between your beliefs and the dogma of the 2,000 other religions in the world? Well, yours are true, huh? How do you know that? Well, you feel it in your heart,... just like all those other believers do.

This is the whole problem with faith-based thinking. When it's not based on evidence, good evidence, you can't separate reality from fantasy, the truth from wishful-thinking. Everyone believes something different, because they just believe what they want to believe - almost always, what they were raised to believe.

This caller seems to find that impossible to understand. He just repeats his own beliefs, as if it's a magic mantra which will miraculously convert the godless. Yes, we know that you believe what you believe. But why do you believe that? Why should we believe it? Where's your evidence that it's actually true.

After all, every other believer in the world will say exactly the same thing, that he believes his beliefs are true. And many of them believe things that directly contradict your own beliefs, so they can't all be true. (They can all be false, though.)

Put yourself in someone else's shoes. They believe in their religion for the same reason you believe in yours - mostly, because that's what they were taught as a child. If that's not a good reason for them (and it's not), then it's not a good reason for you, either.

And feeling it in your heart doesn't mean a thing, except to indicate that you're human. Little children can believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Little children can have their imaginary friends. Little children can be fantasy-prone and gullible. But we're not children.

And adults should have good reasons for their beliefs.


m1nks said...

This is just the perfect statement to me. It's the thing that I always want to say to the dribbling, ranting fools on the YouTube videos when they (inevitably) get on their hobby horse and join the crusade.

But I never do cos the paragraphs are too short and so's my life :-) Still, if I did, the above is exactly what I'd say!

WCG said...

Thanks, m1nks!

Re. YouTube, there's probably no more useless waste of time than replying to the "dribbling, ranting fools" there.

Of course, I still do it, occasionally. Just can't resist. :)