Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Atheist Test: Test Four & Five

If you'd like to see a copy of the Atheist Test for yourself, you may visit the following link: The Atheist Test pamphlet

To review any of the previous posts in this series, follow any of the links below:

The Atheist Test
The Atheist Test: Test One
The Atheist Test: Test Two & Three

No Gold in China

This portion of the test will assess your knowledge of gold in China. But first, the test is prefaced with a short explanation concerning "absolute statements". The author begins by claiming that the statement "There is no God" is known as an absolute statement. And furthermore, he argues that in order for an absolute statement to be true one must have absolute knowledge while making such statements. By this, he means to say that one must be omnipotent to make correct absolute statements.

Then he gives another example by saying, "There is no gold in China".

One would require absolute knowledge of China to know for sure if thar's gold in them thar hills.

This could possibly be the author's most flawed argument.


Because . . . if one must have absolute knowledge in order to declare that "There is no God", then . . .

wait for it . . .

wait for it . . .

One needs to have absolute knowledge to declare that "There is a God".

And furthermore, to declare that God's name is YHWH and that he can only be accessed through Jesus Christ alone would require absolute knowledge as well.

And also, one must have absolute knowledge to declare that the Bible is God's word and the claims are completely true.

The same goes for one's interpretation of the Bible as being absolutely correct when compared to any contradictory interpretation.

Thus, one would also need absolute knowledge to make statements such as "Thor is not a real God". Or, YHWH is the only true and living God".

The author cannot have his cake and eat it, too.

Having said that, let's take test four:

Test Four

What do I need to have for that statement [there is no gold in China] to be true?

__ A. No knowledge of China.
__ B. Partial knowledge of China.
__ C. Absolute knowledge of China.

The author asserts that "C" is the right answer.

Well, I can have my own little test right here:

My Test

What do I need to have to make the absolute statement "There is a God"?

__ A. No knowledge of the Universe.
__ B. Partial knowledge of the Universe.
__ C. Absolute knowledge of the Universe.
__ D. An ulterior motive.

Some may choose "D" as the correct answer. But, keep in mind that not everyone who pushes religious belief in God has an ulterior motive. No doubt the religious world has plenty of charlatans and confidence men (and women). But sincere and honest people can be found within the religious world.

In that vein, I will also assert that "C" is the correct answer. Also, since the author insisted that "C" was the correct answer to his test, I'll will say that "C" is the correct answer in my test as well.

More on Absolute Knowledge

Now the author attempts to further his argument about absolute statements. He says openly that these statements require omniscience. He then suggests that even if you had one percent of all knowledge of all the Universe, you must realize that God could exist somewhere within that realm of your ignorance.

I agree with that last part. And that's the nature of agnosticism. I will agree that God could exist somewhere in that realm of information of which I am ignorant. But, the theist is also bound by the same problem once this argument is introduced. Somewhere within the theist's realm of ignorance could rest information that proves God is an artifice of our social and cognitive development by way of evolution. An atheist feels quite confident of this idea already, while an agnostic generally finds this notion quite compelling. Agnostics often lean towards the same conclusions as atheists. However, the agnostic still takes into account that possible margin for error-- even when the possibility of error might be somewhat small.

Agnostics Think Buildings Don't have Builders

Now, for my favorite part. The author follows with the argument that an agnostic person cannot be an atheist. Also, he argues that agnosticism is no different from declaring that one can never know if a building ever had a builder.

Oh, and by the way, the agnostic is standing there looking at the building in question while making such a statement.

Agnostics and atheists may not be the same. The author finally makes an interesting point! I may have to change my label from atheist to agnostic as a result.

I think I'll officially label myself as an atheistic leaning agnostic.

Even though the author has made a good point, he doesn't waist time going astray. Agnosticism is about admitting the lack of knowledge or information. A good agnostic will admit that enough information is not available to make "absolute" statements. But, an agnostic person isn't necessarily agnostic about everything. Not every agnostic will not look at a house and wonder if it had a builder or a construction crew. Ample evidence from every day experience shows us that artifacts require human hands.

And here is where the author revisits a previous argument-- everything with order must have a designer. This may be true with everything people invent. Again, an artifact requires human hands; however, the processes of nature and the formation of our Universe as we know it may not need a designer.

Remember, "everything with order must have a designer" is an absolute statement. Does the author claim to have absolute knowledge of everything?

Generally, an agnostic simply realizes that the insistent claims of God's existence could be flawed. After all, God doesn't seem to come forward and make himself overtly apparent to everyone. Nor does he make his preferences clear as to which religious faith he wants everyone to accept. Science doesn't disprove God, as I've said several times before. But, science seems to show that the Universe has evolved in a way that doesn't quite correlate with the claims of mainstream religious texts and their followers.

What's an agnostic to do?

Test Five

The man who sees a building and doesn't know if there was a builder is:

__ A. Intelligent
__ B. A fool
__ C. Has an ulterior motive

The only purpose of test five is to misrepresent agnosticism by making it look stupid.

But to me, agnosticism is an intelligent and honest option under these circumstances.

An agnostic mindset endeavors to be open minded by recognizing the limits of human knowledge. Yet, the agnostic mindset still continues collecting more knowledge.

The method of good scientific practice seems very much like this, in my opinion.

And I also think that someone who endeavors to achieve intellectual honesty is less likely to be full of ulterior motives.

So, can we say that the author of the Atheist Test pamphlet is without ulterior motive?
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