Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Will You Get What You Ask For?


Luke 11:9-10 tells us that if we ask, we shall receive. If we seek, we shall find. I've seen two interpretations of this verse. The first is that when we pray, what we pray for will be provided. The second is that if we seek god, we shall find him. I'll deal with that one first.

If we seek god, we'll find him, right? Well, this is a rather easy assertion to deal with. The existence of atheists that have deconverted from Xianity is empirical evidence that this simply is not so, especially those atheists who were once fundamentalists - and they do exist. These people wanted to find god, they asked, but no god would present itself to them. If this is not enough, it's been reported that even Mother Theresa (a horrible woman no doubt, but none can deny that she truly wanted to see god) was even unable to find god.

As for the first interpretation, that our prayers will be answered, this is also easily dealt with. Simply pray for a million dollars. When it doesn't appear, you will have disproven this passage. But, the apologist might object that god could still answer your prayer, just on his own timeline! OK, then pray to receive one million dollars right now. Objection defeated. I honestly can't figure out why so many people take this book so seriously.

19 comments:

Robert Madewell said...

GTC said, "The existence of atheists that have deconverted from Xianity is empirical evidence that this simply is not so, especially those atheists who were once fundamentalists - and they do exist."

Yep, Ex-fundie-mentals sure do exist. I'm one of them. I've been tempted to change my screen name to The True Scotsman.

I'm going to do that right now!

The True Scotsman said...

Thanks for the inspiration!

Sandra said...

Were you serious when you called Mother Theresa a horrible person? If so, why?

GCT said...

Sandra,
Please see this link for a short discussion of some of the things that MT has done, etc.

http://www.daylightatheism.org/2008/05/mother-teresa.html

Anonymous said...

Not only will you not get what you ask for, if you're like me and believe in god but have experienced that he is nothing but a masochRistic asshole, you'll find that he is a greedy fucking taker.

I was at my cousin's today, and she is heavily involved in missions. She was watching a video about some tribesmen who got "saved" and then went out to tell others about how grand jesus is. For a moment I found myself being sucked in but then I thought, wait a minute, what is this? I know that I've seen jesus to be an asshole, why am I being drawn in?

And though I've realized this before, it once again hit me like a ton a bricks; it was that same soft, chilling background music that xtians play everytime they're trying to pull at your heartstrings. LIKE FUCKING ALTER CALLS.

If god is awesome, why does he have to rely on emotion to draw people near instead of just showing himself to us in a real, kind, helpful, loving way?

cl said...

Not sure how you'll take to me coming around here, but at any rate...

Again, let me get this straight: The person who says God talks to him or her speaks subjectively and can't prove it, yet the person who says God did not talk to him or her gets pre-clearance? How does one making a subjective statement equate to empirical evidence in your mind? Subjective claims are not empirical evidence, by any means of the word. You've still never cleared that up. Neither person has any empirical evidence, yet, you take the person who tells you God has not spoken to them at their word. Why? Because it fits the conclusion you're looking for? I'm really seeking to understand this logic.

Sandra said...

I am not a believer, but I have noticed that atheists are a dogmatic and narrow-minded as fundamentalists. I see atheism as a religion. Dogmatic belief and a desire to proselytize. That's my take, anyway.

Anonymous said...

cl? can you hear me? was that subjective?

cl said...

Anonymous,

Well sure, I can hear you. Can you hear me? I say God speaks to me. Was that subjective? Of course, and so is the converse statement. Like the oft-quoted bit about George W. Bush and the hairdryer, how does the addition of a negative make the claim any less subjective?

Anecdotes are simply not empirical evidence.

Anonymous said...

cl. I don't in the least follow your logic. How is seeing this text subjective? Anyone who comes across it and has vision can see it. How is the converse subjective? Particularly when it comes to dealing with an inanimate object?

cl said...

Anonymous,

The text itself exists objectively, that is, until a nearby gamma ray burst or solar flare comes along and completely devastates our entire infrastructure of electronic communications, maybe even our entire existence depending on the proximity of the burst or the magnitude of the flare. In fact, many things could change the fact that the text exists objectively. But that's not the point.

When George Bush says that he hears God, he's discredited. (I discredit him too, don't worry). When Mother Theresa says she doesn't hear God, why does she get a free pass? Please, please, pretty please with sugar on top, can anyone show me how a subjective anecdote qualifies as empirical evidence against an inanimate object, but not for an inanimate object?

The argument offered here is, "The person who hears the inanimate object is wrong, but the person who doesn't hear the inanimate object is right. How is either claim provable?

Special pleading, all the way, but I'm open to a solid case demonstrating otherwise.

GCT said...

Sandra,
I'd be careful about the broad brush that you seem to be using. What is it that atheists are dogmatic about? Atheism has no tenets, rituals, theories, etc. It is actually pretty hard to be dogmatic about not believing in the gods of others. I also don't see the narrow-mindedness that you talk about either. What is narrow minded about asking for evidence before accepting an extraordinary claim? You say yourself that you are not a believer, so doesn't that make you an atheist as well? Are you included in the dogmatic, narrow-minded group? Why or why not?

"I see atheism as a religion. Dogmatic belief and a desire to proselytize."

Again, it's rather hard to be religious about not being religious. And, I don't really go out and proselytize. I do argue against religion on this blog, and I do argue elsewhere on the appropriate fora. I'll also stand up and protest against religious intrusion onto our civil rights, and if that is over the top for you, I won't apologize for it.

GCT said...

cl,
You've already been answered.

Sandra said...

Not all religions are 'God' based and it is my assertion that atheism can be a religion. You are perfectly within your rights to disagree with me.

The US Constitution calls for a separation of Church and State and I have been dismayed by the whittling away of that separation over the last 30 years. So I don't think that position is at all over the top.

Personally, I don't hate Jesus. Jesus the man is an historical figure. Jesus the deity, IMO, is a story. Hating either one makes no sense to me. I dislike and often fear, where people go in the name of Jesus, but what does that have to with Jesus? It has more to do with politics which feeds on ignorance.

I do not identify with atheism because I don't give my beliefs on the subject that much thought. And frankly, I've know too many dogmatic atheists.

Anyway, your admonition that I should be careful about what I say sounds somewhat ominous. If you want discourse on your blog, I would reconsider your tone. If you want to rail at cyber-space, then never mind.

GCT said...

Sandra,
"Not all religions are 'God' based and it is my assertion that atheism can be a religion."

You are free to assert that, but no one will accept it unless you can back it up with some reasoned argument. Atheism does not meet the definition of religion in any dictionary that I've ever seen.

"The US Constitution calls for a separation of Church and State and I have been dismayed by the whittling away of that separation over the last 30 years. So I don't think that position is at all over the top."

Thank you, and I share your sentiment that we should have more separation of church and state, not less.

"Personally, I don't hate Jesus."

Neither do I, the blog title is hyperbole.

"Jesus the man is an historical figure. Jesus the deity, IMO, is a story."

I'm not satisfied that Jesus the man was an actual historical figure. He may have been, but we have scant evidence of it.

"Hating either one makes no sense to me."

Agreed. You can't hate something you don't believe in.

"I do not identify with atheism because I don't give my beliefs on the subject that much thought. And frankly, I've know too many dogmatic atheists."

Dogmatic how?

"Anyway, your admonition that I should be careful about what I say sounds somewhat ominous."

It's not meant to be ominous and I'm sorry you got that impression. I simply feel that it's wrong to stereotype, and I would hope that you would feel the same way. What you said sounded like a stereotype to me.

"If you want discourse on your blog, I would reconsider your tone."

Might I suggest that how you take the words written might have something to do with it as well? If you have preconceptions that atheists are all dogmatic and argumentative, you might be reading more into what I say than what is intended. Something to think about.

cl said...

GCT,

"Confirmation bias" fails as an answer to this dilemma.

As does, "Because they're different."

Those are the extent of responses I've been given. I don't care who it comes from, but can anybody present a logical case against my argument? Please, I'm being serious. Someone show me how subjective anecdotes of any type can possibly qualify as empirical evidence!?!?

Sandra said...

Buddhist do not believe in a divine being.

You can't actually state as a fact the existence of god or not. It comes to opinion.

GCT said...

cl,
"Those are the extent of responses I've been given."

Lie on someone else's blog.

GCT said...

"Buddhist do not believe in a divine being. "

I'm well aware that some Buddhists are this way, but you stated that atheism can be a religion. This is what I dispute.

"You can't actually state as a fact the existence of god or not. It comes to opinion."

It's not strictly opinion. The way you state it, it sounds like there's a 50/50 chance that god exists, and it's just as rational to believe in god as not. This, however, is not the case. Sans evidence for god, it is simply not rational to believe in god. My stock quote on this is that if it is rational to believe in god, then it's similarly rational to believe in leprechauns, invisible, pink unicorns, etc.

Secondly, I reject the notion that there's a 50/50 chance that god exists. The gods that have been imagined by humans are rather unlikely. Take the Xian god, for example. This is a god that has traits that are contradictory, and can not logically exist. The chance that the Xian god exists is nil, if the traits ascribed to this god (omni-max, etc.) are correct. I'm willing to say that some conceptions of gods do have some finite possibility of existence, but all of them fall prey to some pitfall or other. It simply isn't true that the chance is 50/50 given the evidence that we have - especially the evidence we have against certain god conceptions.