Hey, remember that Catholic guy who was writing a column about how atheists are atheists because of daddy issues? He’s back. He had to write a response because the intensity of atheist eye-rolling was annoying him.
In that post, I did not attempt to explain any proofs or evidence for the existence of God—that wasn’t the point. The point was to pose a question: Why would anyone hope against eternal happiness? Referencing a book by Paul Vitz, Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism, I posited one among many possible answers, namely that since one’s own experience with his father (or lack thereof) seems to have a tremendous sway in his perception of God, a bad father might lead a child to wish that God didn’t exist. That thought struck me as terribly sad. Thus, I made a very specific point that we Catholics should be compassionate toward atheists, hence the title. Frankly, I expected rebuttals to this statement along the lines of: “You’re wrong! I had a terrific father, and I’m an atheist! And the same goes for everyone in my college sociology class!”
I waited for this type of rebuttal to pour in. And I kept waiting. But my point went largely unaddressed.
But…but…that was exactly the point of my rebuttal! Many atheists have happy relationships with their fathers, and many Catholics have miserable relationships with theirs, and still remain within the faith. And also, if Jehovah is your role model for paternal parenting, you are seriously screwed up. But I guess he didn’t read my post, or it didn’t count, or something.
So now you might think his follow-up is to defend his position that atheists need pity because they have bad dads. You’d be wrong! I guess he decided his original proposition was indefensible, so he’s moved on to instead insisting that there is too evidence for his god, which is, ha ha, a so much more easily supported claim.
It’s a weird article, though, because he repeatedly refuses to actually defend that claim, but instead says he could have. It’s like a total non-defense. He’s hunkered down in a trench yelling at us, but ready to duck back down at an instant. It’s chickenshit Catholicism.
And his ‘evidence’ sucks.
I could have mentioned a very basic evidence: the existence of matter. How do you explain the existence of matter—stuff like diamonds, oxygen, and Saturn? Atheists frequently reply that if you put a monkey in front of a typewriter for an infinite number of years, he will eventually produce Macbeth. Their point is that given enough chances, a well-ordered universe will eventually just happen. But even conceding the conclusions of the “Infinite Monkey Theorem”, we are left with a prior question: Where did the monkey come from? The monkey might produce Macbeth, but nothingness doesn’t produce somethingness if you just give it enough tries. How do you explain somethingness? As many philosophers like Gottfried Leibniz, the inventor of calculus, have wondered: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” Leibniz concluded that this somethingness meant there must be a Creator.
We know how diamonds, oxygen, and Saturn came to be: reactions in the hearts of stars, and the condensation of gases in the formation of the solar system. The harder question is how did the universe start, what was there before the Big Bang, etc., and in all honesty I have to say that I don’t know. I don’t see how stating with certainty that an anthropomorphic being with intelligence and super powers did it is a reasonable answer, though.
My answer to “Why is there something rather than nothing?”, though, is to say that if there were nothing, there would be no one here to ask the question. That says nothing about what was the initial trigger for our existence. It leaves it as an open question, which I’ll trust the physicists to be able to someday answer, I hope, rather than the theologians.
I could have mentioned the existence of not only the material, but the immaterial. For instance, where in the world does conscience come from? Why does man have a notion of right and wrong, and why is that notion so similar across the historical and cultural spectrum?
Conscience, or the general idea of guilt, obligation, and empathy, is the product of activity in the brain. It’s partly built-in as a function of the theory of mind in social animals, and partly a product of social learning. We’d be lousy (errm, I mean lousier) at building communities if we lacked the ability to interact conscientiously. We have a notion of right and wrong that is constructed by our social environment in our plastic, responsive brains.
What else would it be? The product of angels?
I could have mentioned intelligent design.
You could have. I could have laughed harder.
Intelligent design does not help your case. It’s a circular argument. You’re job is to tell me what the evidence is that the universe is designed, and it does not provide new information to say that there is a hypothesis that the universe is designed.
I could have mentioned causality and the necessity of First Cause, or Uncaused Cause.
Yeah, yeah, right, while invoking an intelligent being who is an exception to that necessity, which means it isn’t really a necessity at all, now is it? I could also argue that the physical nature of our universe is also eternal, and therefore doesn’t require a first cause. Same answer, no hocus pocus with gods.
I could have mentioned plenty of evidence, but it would be rejected by convicted atheists. Atheists are certain God does not exist; that’s that. Of course, it’s impossible to prove that God does not exist, since you cannot prove a universal negative. True-believing unbelievers are, however, untroubled by that quandary. For many atheists—the verdict is pre-determined. Why bring evidence to a show trial?
Hang on there: in the very next paragraph, this guy then asserts that
we are Catholics and it is our loving duty to spread the Good News of the Gospel. He is certain that his god exists so he rejects all criticisms of his religion, while complaining that atheists are arguing out of prior conviction, and are asking him to provide evidence for his beliefs, which he can’t do.
I’m a hardcore atheist, but I’m not claiming to possess absolute truth, Catholics are. I’m saying that 1) believers have failed to provide an internally consistent definition of a god that does not contradict available evidence, and 2) have failed to provide specific evidence that their god is the best possible explanation. Saying that “things exist” is not evidence for “my specific model for why things exist”, especially when there are better alternative models that don’t have the shortcomings of the god hypothesis. There is a fundamental distinction there that they consistently fail to notice.
Oh, well. I look forward to John Clark’s future columns in which he ignores all the criticisms of the last one so he can flutter over to another non sequitur packed with irrelevant claims.