Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I Am an Atheist

I am an atheist when it comes to the supposed existence of an all-powerful Flying Spaghetti Monster that created everything.

It's true that the existence of FSM is something I can neither prove nor disprove 100%. After all, I am not omniscient. I don't know everything there is to know about everything. But I think I am safe in denying the existence of such a being.

For one thing, there is a lack of credible eyewitnesses. If any person has ever claimed to have seen FSM -- and I'm not aware of a single one -- that claim was never corroborated by anyone else.

There are also no authoritative written accounts of FSM making itself known to its creation, and nothing chronicling FSM's work throughout history backed up by thousands of ancient manuscripts. In fact, most of what has been written about FSM has been written by admitted nonbelievers within the last five years.

Furthermore, I know that spaghetti is a physical creation, and as such it cannot exist outside of the material realm. To conclude otherwise goes against all logic and reason.

(By the way, I would use the same arguments against the existence of the Invisible Pink Unicorn.)


Anonymous said...

So, when I eat spaghetti at Olive Garden, would I be partaking of the FSM in communion, as Roman Catholics do with Christ?

Lee Shelton said...

I'm not sure if transubstantiation is taught in Pastafarianism.

P.D. Nelson said...

How do Pastafarians explain all the different sauces? I mean there is alfredo, pesto, marinara, not to mention carbonara.

Chris Wilde said...

Phew! You stopped just in time to prevent yourself from arguing against your own faith! Taken too much further, you might have actually questioned whether the existence of well-preserved documents has anything to do with whether those documents were accurate in the first place. Or how it is that "old" equals "more true".

You might have strayed into how it is that eye-witness testimony is one of the worst, most unreliable forms of evidence (as demonstrated by the court system). And that's even when the eyewitness testimony is in the first person, isn't tied up with religious, ideological, and nationalistic fervor, and hasn't banged around in the rumor mill for decades before a third party writes it down.

You might have addressed that one of the best evidences for things being true a long time ago is that they work pretty much the same way now, and that they leave some trail of natural evidence that supports what the ancients wrote. This is how one distinguishes between history and myth, both of which exist side-by-side, and often interwoven, in an abundance of ancient and well-preserved literature.

But, fortunately, the boundaries you set around what you will not allow yourself to critique kept yourself limited to debunking the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which, like all analogies, can only be stretched so far.

I suggest a next challenge: debunk the Book of Mormon. Debunk the Koran. Debunk the Apocrypha and the Gnostic gospels. Not just out of whether they are consistent with your established canon, but with empirical reasoning. Can you do that without slipping off the edge into critiquing your own basis for faith?

Lee Shelton said...

This was simply a critique of the absurd, straw man argument that a belief in God makes as much sense as believing in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Folks like Richard Dawkins can't seem to get through an interview without mentioning it. If there was an actual history of belief in FSM, then it might be a legitimate comparison, but it's just one of those ridiculous things atheists say because they think it's clever and funny.

The bulk of your comment is stuff we've gone over before. If you want to be consistent, you would have to question everything you've ever learned about historical events since no source is ultimately reliable. But for some reason that only comes into play where the Bible is concerned.

Chris Wilde said...

I find the FSM model to be a good illustration of the infinite variability of a religious world view, thus the unreasonableness of holding to any particular religion on the basis of faith alone, outside of accompanying empirical evidence. The illustration's silliness is to make a point; a point which a lot of people find both compelling and funny, which is why it's so popular. The fact you've heard it a lot may boost your rightful claim to having been around the rhetorical block a few times, but doesn't reduce the significance of the illustration.

Yes, we have been over this before, so I'm going to press the issue a little harder this time, where I may previously have made the mistake of thinking some understated points were more obvious:

No matter how many times you say it, it's simply neither true--nor particularly relevant even if it were true--that historians, archaeologists, etc., are critical of accuracy ONLY where the Bible concerned. No text that claims to be historical gets a free pass. Except, of course, when it comes to willful avoidance on the part of those who have everything to lose if the text they've staked their life on contains error. In any case, pointing out the existence of other ancient texts that are just as weak or worse in their reliability is no defense of the Bible's credentials.

Christians, in insisting they have an absolute truth that is a matter of life/death/heaven/hell, have a pretty important burden of proof compared to somebody talking about Hannibal and his elephants. In further insisting on all the fantastic miracles that had to happen to make the Bible true--miracles of the sort that are conveniently no longer existent or necessary in contemporary Christian experience--Biblical apologists are silly to expect that their truth claims should rank right up there with significantly more repeatable and archeologically verifiable accounts of wars and empires. I really don't understand why Christian apologists are so naive to as think that any historical claim they throw on the table that turns on "and then a miracle happened" should be considered as likely as Washington's false teeth, just because it comes from a well-preserved book. And then they feel jilted when academics don't buy their argument. To me it just goes to show how "a priori" conviction of absolute truth just clouds critical thinking.

In the past, you have often responded to criticism of the Bible's likelihood with a critique of evolution or something like that, where you think non-theistic thought is also an a priori "world view", and more off-base than the Bible is. Again, irrelevant, unless your object is to argue that neither is true, and perhaps nobody knows anything. I know your intent is to show that if there exists no reasonable non-theistic explanation for life, the universe, and everything, this somehow sets the Bible up as answer. But, logically, this puts the Bible in an only slightly-better position than the aforementioned Flying Spaghetti Monster.

In order to defend something as absolute truth, one has to do more than just put the claim in the running as slightly less unlikely than some other unlikely thing. To defend a claim so big as the Gospel, I think you need more to stand on than just a grown-up equivalent of "I know you are, but what am I?" Going back to my previous comment, I think you have to be able to show, for starters, how it is that the Bible is any more likely to be true than any other religious text such as the Koran or the Book of Mormon, that claims to record eyewitness accounts of almost-certainly false events.

Lee Shelton said...

Compared to the Bible, the Koran and Book of Mormon can hardly be considered ancient. They are also full of internal errors and inconsistencies. The Bible, on the other hand - aside from a few minor copying errors - has remained consistent. That's an incredible feat considering the time-span over which it was written, the number of authors it has, as well the vast differences in their backgrounds. It remains the most documented book in antiquity.

But no amount of evidence matters since we all interpret evidence based on our presuppositions. Yes, I presuppose the existence of God because nothing makes sense apart from that. Science itself is meaningless without the existence of God. You said that "one of the best evidences for things being true a long time ago is that they work pretty much the same way now." What about the existence of the universe? If the laws of physics worked the same way in the beginning as they do now, nothing could randomly "happen" to bring everything into existence. As it stands, my position is consistent with what science teaches: life comes from life. Your position allows for the argument that life can come from non-life, something science says is impossible.

Given that, I'm not sure why the burden of proof falls on Christians.

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