Hmph. PZ gets the emails; I don’t. He gets two-inch putts handed to him; I don’t. So, since he posts his email, I guess I’ll just take the chance and respond to it anyway. “Advice for Atheists” indeed. I refuse to use Comic Sans, though.
1. Stop being so smug.
This “smugness” to which you object
I’d invite you to closely inspect:
Go on, open your mind,
Take a look, and you’ll find
It’s not smugness—we’re simply correct.
Your description’s a bit of a mystery
When compared to a glance at the history—
You know God’s mind so well
You consign us to Hell
And think it’s our rhetoric that’s blistery?
You claim to be humble and meek
Though for God you’re entitled to speak
In that book on your shelf,
Jesus says so himself!
There’s hypocrisy in your critique.
2. Don’t assume every piece of Christian evangelism is directed at you – we want the undecideds, not the decided-uns.
Imagine my shock and dismay—
It’s not me that you want? Well, ok…
But we still may collide;
See, I can’t stand aside,
So I’m here—between you and your prey.
“Undecideds” deserve to be free
From your bronze-age mythology, see?
So although you’re upset
That I pose you a threat,
I’m afraid that we’ll never agree.
3. Admit that the debate about God’s existence is complex – and that it can, depending on your presuppositions, be quite possible for intelligent and rational people to intelligently believe in an intervening deity who communicates through a book.
This is something I’ll surely admit—
One could think that a god was legit,
And may speak through a book,
Into which you may look…
If your presuppositions were shit.
Well, of course the debate is complex—
Why, the rules are designed to perplex!
An omnipotent being
Who hides from our seeing?
Of course such a concept should vex!
I have a book, too, you could buy!
And I’m really a reasonable guy—
If you’d just call me “God”
(I’ll admit, it feels odd)
I would (unlike Jehovah) reply!
4. Admit that the scientific method – which by its nature relies on induction rather than deduction (starting with a hypothesis and testing it rather than observing facts and forming a hypothesis) – is as open to abuse as any religious belief, and is neither objective nor infallible.
While it’s simple to suss out your aims
As your strawmen are playing at games
An empirical test
Can put questions to rest—
Are there any to question your claims?
You may claim we are one and the same,
Though I think you know better—for shame!
Unless you will admit
Your faith might not mean shit,
Then your challenge is nothing but lame.
5. Try to deal with the actual notions of God seriously believed in by millions of people rather than inventing strawmen (or spaghetti monsters) to dismiss the concepts of God – and deal with the Bible paying attention to context and the broader Christological narrative rather than quoting obscure Old Testament laws. By all means quote the laws when they are applied incorrectly by “Christians” – but understand how they’re meant to work before dealing with the Christians described in point 3.
Your advice would be all sorts of fun
If, indeed, such a thing could be done!
With cacophonous voices
Of myriad choices
You want me to stay true to one?
Just imagine my terrible plight—
I must find the religion that’s right,
Though the simplest look
In a history book
Shows, for centuries, all of them fight!
It is more than a little bit chilling
When one sees how incredibly willing
The believers in God
From an alternate squad
Are disposed, for His sake, to do killing!
So please tell me, now, which one is true?
I would be as enlightened as you!
I would argue just one
(It would really be fun!)
And I’d do it, if only I knew!