One of the pleasures of having a blog devoted to the praise of churchlessness is being exposed to the strange reasonings of religious true believers. If you're a regular reader of comments here, you know what I mean.
I'm sincere about the "pleasure" part. Disagreements are part of the spice of life. If everybody thought the same way, that'd be horribly boring.
But I enjoy creative, strong, substantial arguments in favor of religiosity (or against science and rationality). After almost five years of hearing the same platitudinous, weak, flimsy arguments, I frequently start reading a fundamentalist's comment and think, "Oh no, not this again."
In hopes that the anti-churchless types will come up with some fresh gotchas! to send my way, I'll share three examples of the sort of "religion is right and you're wrong" spurious arguments that keep being repeated here.
(1) Science can't explain X (love, music, consciousness, life, art, whatever).
Yeah, agreed. So what? The scientific method isn't intended to provide explanations about every aspect of existence, human or cosmic.
Some questions seemingly are unanswerable, such as "why is there something rather than nothing?" Others fall into the realm of personal subjectivity. My wife keeps asking me why I don't like to eat pinto beans. All I can reply is, "There's no why. I just don't like them."
Science, however, can explain a whole heck of a lot more than religion can.
So when I'm looking for an explanation to scratch a question mark itch in my mind concerning some aspect of objective reality, I look toward science rather than a holy book -- even if the scientific hypothesis is tentative and incomplete while the religious dogma is confident and well established.
As the saying goes, "it's better to be roughly right than precisely wrong."
(2) There's no proof that X doesn't exist (God, life after death, heaven, miracles, whatever), so that's why I believe in X.
This argument is guaranteed to generate a WTF? in my mind whenever I hear it (and that's often). I can't believe that anyone takes this flawed reasoning seriously. But it keeps popping up in comments, no matter how many times the absurdity of it is pointed out.
A satirical You Tube video does a pretty good job of laughing off this "absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence" argument. Gosh, since there is no evidence that gnomes aren't making the flowers in my garden bloom, it must be true!
Most of the comments on "Ask Atheist Reddit: Can you prove God doesn't exist?" support the same conclusion: it's virtually impossible to prove that something doesn't exist; the burden of proof is on someone to show that it does.
Here's another guy's way of saying the same thing:
First, those who study logic will freely admit that you cannot disprove God's existence. Disproving a statement of instantiation in the context of a very large domain requires visitation of the entire domain. We don't have that technology.
Second, those who claim existence may claim whatever they want, but traditional logic principles and various formal rules of logical debate require the person making the affirmative claim to offer the proof.
Stated another way, you claim existence of God. We dispute your claim. The monkey (your evolutionary uncle...) is on your back as the next step in the formal process.
...Just don't go nuts and try to assert some kind of bonehead logic. That, we will shoot down in a heartbeat.
(3) Skeptics about religion are secular fundamentalists because they're sure there's no God.
Wrong. Skeptics are looking for demonstrable evidence in support of metaphysical beliefs and don't find any. That's what makes them skeptical.
If someone said, "There's an elephant in your kitchen," you'd look around to see if this was true. Not finding an elephant, you'd be justified in saying "I don't believe you."
But who knows? Maybe there is some sort of pygmy elephant that you've never heard of. It could be in a cupboard that you failed to look in. Neither scientists nor skeptics claim 100% surety.
They simply tilt toward accepting the truth that has the most evidence in favor of it. Since there is basically zero evidence that God exists, or for life after death, a sincere truth-seeker is drawn toward the most defensible conclusion.
Which isn't always the most pleasant or emotionally satisfying conclusion. Personally, I'd much rather know that there is a God who will take care of me after I die. But since I don't know that, I can't delude myself that I do.
Every morning I meditate.
I've meditated daily for almost forty years. If God wants to pay a visit to my consciousness, my door is open. I'm not 100% convinced of anything when it comes to metaphysics, mysticism, the supernatural, and non-bodily consciousness.
For sure, I'm no secular fundamentalist. Fundamentalists believe without evidence. I'm a non- believer without evidence. Big difference.