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 IAmAnAtheist » Assuming Atheism

Assuming Atheism

The below item is part of my "Conversations" series.

An atheist and a Christian sitting on the beach

Fabian: It’s been a nice day.

Grace: It’s been pretty perfect.

Fabian: I appreciate your just letting me relax. I know you prefer running around and having long conversations, but I really wanted to just sit in the sun and listen to the water.

Grace: Any time. Besides, I knew you needed to wind down, and I knew that if we started talking I’d say something about nature or God that would get your atheism in a twist.

Fabian: Come on, I’m not that bad.

Grace: Sometimes you are. I try to be reasonable about it, but you have to admit that you get pretty irrational sometimes.

Fabian: Since when? When have I ever been irrational about atheism?

Grace: Since pretty much always. For example, what’s your favorite argument against God?

Fabian: You know, ever since Northridge, it’s "Why would a loving God allow earthquakes?"

Grace: Exactly, and that’s an irrational argument.

Fabian: How is that irrational?

Grace: To even ask that question, you have to think "If I were a loving God, what would I do about earthquakes?" But putting yourself in God’s position assumes that God is like a human, and if God were like a human He wouldn’t be divine at all, so there would effectively be no God. By asking what God would do, you’re assuming atheism, and since atheism is the answer you expect to the question, you’re begging the question. That’s a logical fallacy.

Fabian: That’s ridiculous. I’m not asking what I’d do if I was God, I’m asking how it can be logically consistent for an all-loving deity to allow natural evils.

Grace: It’s the same thing. If you admitted that we as humans can have no real understanding of the nature of and infinite God, you wouldn’t ask the question in the first place.

Fabian: You ask "What would Jesus do?" all the time. Isn’t that the same problem? Assuming you know God’s mind?

Grace: Jesus had a human part, so the question is about what Jesus would do as a human. It’s completely relevant.

Fabian: You yourself talk about what God wants and why God did things. You do it all the time.

Grace: I know some of what God plans and wants through the Bible. I’m not attempting to put myself in His place.

Fabian: Then how do you know that God will keep His promises and that what He says in the Bible is true?

Grace: God has always kept His promises, and God is all good so we can trust Him.

Fabian: How is God’s past performance any promise that His future performance would be the same?

Grace: Because He’s all good. I said that.

Fabian: How does God being all good tell you that you can trust Him?

Grace: Why isn’t that obvious?

Fabian: Because of what you said before about begging the question. You can’t believe God’s promise because He is good and good people don’t lie, because that would be treating God like a person and assuming atheism, right?

Grace: You’re twisting my words. This is exactly why I didn’t want to get a conversation started. It’s logically obvious that being infinitely good is incompatible with lying.

Fabian: It’s logically obvious that being infinitely good is incompatible with letting people die in earthquakes.

Grace: God is serving a greater good by allowing natural evils. You know that. I’ve explained it to you.

Fabian: Maybe God could serve a greater good by lying sometimes if it got people to behave properly.

Grace: Lying never leads to a greater good.

Fabian: So lying to your enemies in a time of war isn’t good?

Grace: For humans, maybe, but not for an infinitely good being.

Fabian: Didn’t God once help the Israelites fool their enemies into thinking their army was larger than it was?*

Grace: I don’t remember anything like that. If something like that’s in the Bible, either you’re misrepresenting it or God had good reasons for what He did.

Fabian: Then you’re saying that we can’t use the fact that God is good to make predictions about what God would do.

Grace: Right! Doing that assumes atheism.

Fabian: Then what’s the point of saying that God is good if "good" doesn’t describe God’s behavior?

Grace: It perfectly describes His behavior, we just might not understand how since we’re not on God’s level.

Fabian: Doesn’t that mean that there’s no possible way to tell if God is good by His behavior? Since any conceivable action by God is compatible with a "good" deity whose nature we don’t understand?

Grace: Nothing that God does could be incompatible with goodness because God is infinitely good.

Fabian: Which would you say is worse: begging the question or circular reasoning?

Grace: That’s not circular reasoning. Come on — can we just enjoy the last of the day? The sun’s going to set in a little bit.

Fabian: Fine. But, for what it’s worth, you were definitely right about not getting me talking before.

Grace: I’ll remember to remind you of that constantly in the future.

*2 Kings 7:6: "For the LORD had made the host of the Syrians to hear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites, and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us."


If you have a conversation that you’d like me to consider publishing on this blog or in an upcoming book, please see the conversation guidelines.

Posted on November 20, 2013 at 8:18 pm by ideclare · Permalink
In: Conversations

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