Thursday, February 25, 2010

Atheist Test: The Second Coming

I'm almost ashamed to confess that the simple little booklet that Nicole found on the train is still on my mind.  The Atheist Test is really a piece of work.  I've read it a couple times now and I've realized that I love it.  Check out that link first before finishing this entry - give it a read.  I'll wait.

Funny, right?  Let me count the ways.

1)  It's well-plotted.  It has to be, since it's examples are so particular.  For instance, it talks about how the banana was clearly meant for human consumption because it has, amongst other things, a pull tab, a slip-resistant skin, is easily held in one's hand, etc.  Clearly an excellent design.  The problem here is that the banana is almost the only fruit that fits the bill.  Imagine making these arguments for a coconut or a prickly pear.  Maybe we're supposed to infer that only the banana comes from God, all other fruits are here merely to tempt us into sin.  Freudians and feminists could argue about that one till doomsday.

2)  I'm in love with the overarching logical theme, best exemplified in this excerpt: "The odds that ten oranges would fall by accident into a straight line are mind-boggling, let alone ten rows of five."  Never mind looking for context - it really is that absurd.  The author is basically asking us to ignore one incredulous, albeit possible (given non-zero odds and 4.5 billion years of earth history), explanation, and then to accept another even more incredulous, supernatural explanation.  The booklet says it in different ways throughout.  A building with no builder?  Crazy!  But a building whose builder was an omniscient ghost?  Now you're making sense!

3)  It is completely unaware of its own failings, which, granted, is a prerequisite for stubborn, blind faith.  Every one of its arguments could be easily turned on its head and used to "prove" the opposite point.  It teaches us that unless you know everything about something, you can't make an absolute statement regarding that thing.  I don't know everything about the universe, so I can't say, "there is no God."  Do you see where this is going?  It's fun and easy, try some on your own!

4)  It compares faith to a television broadcast.  We don't understand how the TV works (nobody does, that's impossible!) but once we have the right receiver, we can witness the power and the glory of the television "waves."  In this analogy, God is in the TV.  Marilyn Manson had it right all along.

There is so much more in there, sports fans, there really is.  This post is getting a little long, but for the love of the Saints, go stew on it a while.  It's rare that such a short work of literature is so brimming with intrigue.

Stay tuned for my sequel to it, The Agnostic Test.  All questions, no answers.

2 comments:

Shnickie said...

Very cleverly written post. Many praises for the author! (Hip hip hallelujah! Hip Hip ...)

Ancient said...

Either that test was written by Ray Comfort or he stole all of its ideas. Reading that was so god damn frustrating that were it not for your excellent summary I would have been compelled to create my own (with much less subtly). It's not really a matter of atheists or agnostics vs. the faithful. It's more about free thought, not accepting everything your told. In that case, name your blog "Penny Thoughts", because I think yours are actually worth something.