Monday, January 1, 2007

No, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus. Or God.

I received a comment on one of two (but not the last) blogs that I've written about Kent Hovind, PhDuh. I feel compelled to respond to it in more than just a return comment because I think this person is representative of a fundamentalist view of atheism and is deserving of a proper response. I mean no disrespect by any of this, but some things must be addressed because we atheists seem to be the most misunderstood group on the planet. This person is exactly the type that I wish to read my blog and hopefully get something from it.

Kent Hovind opened the door to criticism of the beliefs he espouses simply by making them public. His intent is not only to make you believe evolution is a myth, even though the overwhelming evidence makes it a fact, but to win you over to religion. Just another reason to examine his ideology. My initial intent with the blog on him was to critically examine his views in the debate that I dissected, but it soon turned out that I could no longer take his inanity. His recent legal problems, while not related to his personal beliefs per se, do in fact go towards who he is. I have a rule: I respect others' right to beliefs, but I do not have to respect the beliefs others hold when such beliefs are demonstrably wrong and harmful. It is the courage of people such as Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins that have moved me to come forward and make my voice heard. I save my vitriol for those that deserve it: the Bill O'Reillys, Ann Coulters and Kent Hovinds of this world.

Am1specialkitty wrote:
Maybe this man doesn't have a degree. But his speech is not his own. History is documented for that time period. Only the misguided try to discard it. Why are you so scared of the truth. What have you done that you feel you can't be forgiven for. Why must you have so much hate for christians that you feel the need to attack them.

My sympathy is with you. For if you are right and I am wrong you lose nothing, but if I am right and there is a God, you lose everything. And for that I pray for you, that one day you find faith. Faith isn't something that can be documented. Faith is something that's not touchable. Faith is simply belief in what you know inside to be true and no longer deny.
Maybe this man doesn't have a degree. He does, but it is not from an accredited university. This makes his PhD null and void, so I guess I don't disagree with this. But he is certainly insecure about it.

But his speech is not his own.
Yes, indeed much of it is. The creation story may not be his own, but trying to shoehorn dinosaurs into this mythology is very much his own idea. And not a good one. It shows the desperation and the lengths people will go to to try to preserve their beliefs, no matter how much evidence to the contrary is presented to them.

History is documented for that period.
Only the misguided try to discard it. Indeed it is. The Romans were almost obsessive in their record keeping. Curious that there is no mention of a miracle-working carpenter in any contemporary literature. If you are thinking of the gospels as your documentation, forget it. It is well-documented that none of the gospels was written during Jesus' life, nor are their authorship known. How could the gospels be at all accurate after 40 years of word-of-mouth?

Why are you so scared of the truth?
I am a man of Science and am thus interested in nothing but the truth. I do not blindly accept anything, however. I've found that common sense often enough turns out to be common nonsense. If you take everything at face value you get what you deserve in the end. So-called creation science is a good example. Proponents assume the Genesis story as truth without question, and then try to find evidence in support of it. See anything wrong here? If you blindly believe in the creation mythology, what need do you have for evidence? It seems to me that it is creationists that are afraid of the truth. The tendency to ignore all other evidence in favor of tidbits supporting the creation legend is not scientific in the least. Especially when those tidbits are generally twisted by omitting important adjunct information. One of Hovind's beliefs is that dragon legends are evidence for dinosaurs living amongst H. sapiens. He also believes (in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary) that T. rex was a herbivore (this allows T. rex to be on the ark without making a meal of Noah). It seems to me, however, that dragons had a fondness for princess meat. So, he picks and chooses the parts he likes, ignoring all else. This is just sad. He has no interest in looking for the truth at all. I'm sure he believes the creation story, but if he truly believes it to be true, then what does he fear from starting ab initio without assuming any end point? If Genesis is true, all evidence (not just the ones he picks) will point to it as being truth no matter your starting point.

What have you done that you feel you can't be forgiven for. Nothing. I actually have a clear conscience. Why do Xians always feel that atheists deny the existence of god out of guilt and fear of punishment for some terrible act? Why this assumed immorality of atheists? This is actually downright insulting, even in ignorance. You know nothing about me, yet you assume I must be some sort of axe murderer. Sorry to disappoint you, but I will put my sense of ethics and morality, and indeed my whole life, up for comparison with any Xian's.

This is so similar to a point that Hovind attempted to put forward that I have to discuss this further. Why do Xians (not all, certainly, but often enough to exasperate me) think that atheists are denying the existence of something that to them is so obvious, there must be some nefarious reason? They say, "Look around you! How could this all have just come into being?" But instead of trying to answer that very question, some supernatural being is generated to explain it. It is the very fact that some people weren't satisfied with the accepted answers obtained through sheer laziness and apathy, and began to search for real answers that many like me have come to realize that there was never a need to have created a deity in the first place. This planet's inhabitants would be much happier without religion to create intergroup violence.

Why must you have so much hate for christians that you feel the need to attack them. I have absolutely no hate for Xians. None. I can see that some would think that Xians are my target. It is baseless belief that I fight against. I find it interesting that religious people are allowed to proselytize and convert others to their beliefs, but when an atheist does it he/she is condemned. People of all sorts of faiths put aside their differences and attack free thinkers like Richard Dawkins. Why are religion and religious beliefs held unaccountable? What makes them sacrosanct? We have this social taboo that religion is not to be touched. That changes now. When inappropriate beliefs affect myself and others I will challenge them with vigor. So why do I not think that religion is harmless? Watch CNN. America has become a theocracy in all but name. This endangers everyone's freedoms. The Founding Fathers would be appalled at what is happening south of the Great White North.

My sympathy is with you. For if you are right and I am wrong you lose nothing, but if I am right and there is a God, you lose everything. Ah, Pascal's Wager. You realize that this is perhaps the most discredited argument of the religious apologist? Aside from the fact that you have only a small chance of having selected the right god if god indeed exists, you do indeed have much to lose if you are wrong. You have wasted the whole of the one life you had to live on a lie. If I'm wrong I can hold my head high when I meet god and say to him, in the words of Betrand Russell, "Not enough evidence!"

And for that I pray for you, that one day you find faith. I know you mean well, but having someone pray for me is insulting. I would prefer that you do something constructive with your time. Prayer has indeed been shown to have no effect at all, aside from possible psychological factors. It is much better to have said that you would hold me in your thoughts, or something along that line. I can respect that. I think about friends and family all the time, and I hold hopes for their happiness and well-being in my mind. That's just caring. I think you meant that, but you were being totally (probably unintentionally) insensitive to the beliefs I hold, and hold because of evidence.

Faith isn't something that can be documented. Faith is something that's not touchable. Faith is simply belief in what you know inside to be true and no longer deny. Faith is asking a friend for a favor and believing they will carry it out because they have always been there for you before. Faith is believing that Science will continue to find answers to the questions rightly important to our species, such as where did we come from, is there anybody else out there, how did the universe come into being? I have more faith than you can know. Believing in something devoid of any supporting evidence and all evidence pointing to the contrary is not faith, however. It is BLIND FAITH. Blind faith is not something to be admired or congratulated. Blind faith is like a someone falling from a cliff desperately grasping at the lone blade of grasp to avoid their doom. It is blind faith that has lead to witch hunts, burning of heretics and suicide bombers.

I do have one question: why do you believe what you believe? Everyone should answer this question for themselves. I would really like an answer. And not one like "Because it's in the bible." That answers nothing and creates more questions. I mean, really dig deep down to understand why it is we believe what we believe. The answers are far more difficult to express than you might think. If your faith can survive that, I'll have a lot more respect for it.

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