David Olson, a catholic priest, has written an article in the La Crosse Tribune today in response to a debate that he attended at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, sponsored by The La Crosse Area Freethought Society and the student atheist group. It is exactly what you might expect, that swooshing sound folks distinctly heard during the debate was all the logic and reason going right over his head.
He starts off with this observation …
Some of the atheist students wore T-shirts that had printed on them, “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”
I like that the atheist students are willing to express an opinion, but I think this bit of jingoism raises a point concerning the perception of God.
And of course, he rejects this because apparently such “jingoism” does not apply to his specific god. Why? Well, all the other gods were “just names for misconceived super beings, beings not much different than humans, just bigger and stronger.” He then proceeds to claim this his specific God is rather special and that the way atheists describe his god as “a tyrant, a competitor with humanity, an authority imposing his will by sheer power or threat” is not at all correct. Perhaps he has a different bible, because in the bible we all have, we find a being that endorses slavery as a rather good idea, and also pushes his followers to engage on a campaign of ethnic cleansing on a (forgive the phrase) biblical scale.
The root of his complaint is that …
the new atheists —Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins, for example — lack the serious intellectual stamina to try to understand sophisticated forms of religious belief
He really does not get it at all.
Regardless of how you describe a “god”, the fact that this description is super-human, or uber-special beyond time and space is not the issue at all. People reject his specific god for exactly the same reason that they reject all other myths regarding such entities – there is zero evidence for all such claims. The claimed behaviour of such beings and the human understanding of such beings, does not change the zero-evidence reason for rejection in any way.
So where does that leave his claim that folks do not understand sophisticated forms of religious belief? Well, belief without evidence, regardless of how “sophisticated” it is, has no credibility. The fact that somebody is prepared to embrace ideas and concepts with no evidence at all, simply identifies them as delusional.
He finishes off by claiming …
They set up a philosophical straw-man and claim victory when they beat the stuffing out of him. The problem with many atheists’ perception of God is they paint a partial picture of God using only partial information rather than the fuller expression of God in Jesus Christ.
Nope, sorry, no biscuit, we do not reject his Judeo-Christian uber-super being because we don’t fully understand it and mistakenly think it just happens to be a complete shit, but rather due to the complete lack of all evidence. The “ah now, that is not true to say god is bad, he just got a bit of bad-press in the old testament, and is really a rather nice loving god” makes no difference, zero evidence is still zero evidence, no matter how you dress up the claim.
It is truly tragic that he can indeed be exposed to reason and logic and have it bounce off, no doubt deflected by the emotional investment he has made in his beliefs.