Discussion by: stewman_philHello,
My ultimate objective here is to obtain constructive criticism and likely religious counter arguments to the argument that brought me out of my Christian faith. The following paragraph gives a bit of my history. If one wishes, it may not be necessary or useful to read that, and so, you may find it more beneficial to skip to paragraph three.
I am new to this foundation. My wife and I have very recently abandoned our Christian faith. We were not simply bystanders in our faith either. I have evangelized many times. I have even evangelized right on the street. I am a first rate student in engineering about to start graduate school, and so I have some scientific background. I was raised with very common evangelical beliefs such as the Earth is ~10,000 years old, the Bible is literally true, evolution is nonsense, etc. I have never trusted myself a great deal, and as I progressed in my career and education I became astounded by the sheer number of very intelligent people who held orthogonal beliefs. This frightened me. For why should I be so lucky as to be the one person who actually had it right? This led me to delve more sincerely than ever into questioning the beliefs I had been raised to believe. I am very familiar with apologists such as Dr. William Lane Craig, C. S. Lewis, and N. T. White. I watched atheistic scientists debate creationists. I am well versed in a wide range of topics, but I can’t be an expert in biology, archaeology, physics, biblical history, ancient history, and philosophy. Despite some of my ignorance, it didn’t take much sincere searching to conclude that the Bible was not literally true, but becoming convinced that Yaweh is not god was much harder. Let me give you the argument that broke my religious convictions, and see problems or weaknesses in it. I ask you this, because I am tied in emotional and financial ways to intelligent religious persons who will relentlessly assault my abandonment of Christianity. Here is the argument.
No evidence can exist to indicate the existence of only any one specific god. This is because any evidence that supports the existence of any one god is also evidence that supports an infinite number of other gods. Take this for example. Let us imagine that there is a god called Joe. This god is sort of like a psychotic artist. Joe just likes messing with people. He performs some miracles at will, and he gave all world religions their start. He actually does create Jesus, and he is born by the Virgin Mary. Joe raises Jesus back to life. He also creates an angel to talk to Mohammed, and he gives golden plates to Joseph Smith, etc. Oh and by the way Joe is going to send us all to hell regardless of how we live our lives.
Any evidence that applies to Jesus, or Mohammed, or any other religion is also evidence for my made-up god, Joe. In fact, there are an infinite number of gods for which the evidence from any religion could fit. One may be inclined to say: “That is absurd! Such a god is very unlikely.” But why? There is no reason why such a god cannot exist. We cannot even make a statement of the probability of such a being.
Here’s why this broke down my Christian beliefs. This argument avoids the problem of finding out who’s right and who’s wrong about evidence. It proves, as far as I can see, that there cannot exist evidence for only any one specific god, and therefore, belief in any one specific god cannot be based on evidence, and it is therefore based solely on faith.
This was problematic for me, because suicide bombers also live their lives based on faith. In fact, suicide bombers are some of the most faith-filled people who have ever lived. I had always fancied that my beliefs had more going for them than the suicide bomber’s, but they didn’t. This life that I have, the way I treated others, the way I raise my family, and the way I vote were all determined by pure faith despite there being objective facts regarding the welfare of others and society (I’m thinking of Sam Harris’s work here).
My own counter argument to this at first was to say: “Well, everything is based on some faith, even science”. But this is incorrect because science simply describes, predicts, and models reality. That is, the things that each of us really experience. This is not based on faith. There is no faith needed to know that if I drop a pencil it will fall toward the Earth. If the current laws of physics did change with time or space, then that would still not require faith, science would simply give the laws of physics as functions of time and space. Therefore I concluded, rightly I hope, that there cannot be evidence for God and that faith forces me to act in a way which gives no regard to objective facts about the well-being of myself and others.
Thanks for making it through that mini-book, if you did! Sorry for how long it is, but I think it’s all necessary. I intend living this life as a promoter of scientific education and as an aggressive opponent to religious beliefs deciding morality and public policy.