After having an encounter a couple of days ago with Matt Slick, I took a run over to CARM.org to see if he had written anything in response. While I didn’t find anything, I did run across something he calls “Apologetics Dialogues” and in particular, one he labels “An atheist says there is no evidence for God“. Since that’s my position as well, I took a look and, while I think it’s unlikely such a conversation actually took place, even though Matt claims that it did on some unnamed chat room, I think it’s clear that he’s simply taking the worst examples of atheist discussion and trying to present it as the norm.
Therefore, I thought I’d take some of his statements in that “conversation” and apply my own responses, just to show that not all atheists are idiots. Please, go take a look at the original “exchange” to see the way he twists things around.
Matt: Why is it that you do not believe in God?
Cephus: Because there is no evidence that any god, not just the Christian God, exists.
Matt: You can’t say that because you have not looked at all evidence in the world. That isn’t possible.
Cephus: I didn’t claim to have seen all of the evidence in the world. You have not seen all the evidence in the world for the existence of any other gods that you don’t believe in, yet you still hold that no gods but yours exist, right? Likewise, you haven’t seen all of the evidence in the world that unicorns don’t exist but I suspect that’s your position.
Matt: But, if a person asked you what kind of things you’d accept, within reason, as evidence for God, what would you say? If you have nothing to offer, then you haven’t thought your position through… and if you haven’t done that, then can you honestly lay claim to the title atheist?
Cephus: An atheist is simply one who lacks belief in gods. As that is my position, I am indeed an atheist. Regardless, the way the Christian God is typically described, he is all-powerful and all-knowing, thus it stands to reason that God would know what it would take to convince me and would be capable of providing it, whatever it is. Since I remain unconvinced, it is safe to assume that such a deity is unlikely to exist or that he doesn’t care to convince me. If God doesn’t care to convince me, who are you to try to do otherwise?
Matt: The way to believe in unicorns is to find one, or have pictures of one, or a fossil of one, or a bunch of people who said they saw one, and they all described, basically, the same thing: a unicorn. That would be a way.
Cephus: That’s very correct, the way to believe in unicorns is to find one, how can it be any less for a god? Have you found any gods lately? Have you any pictures of one? Any fossils? Any demonstrable eyewitness reports? Anything? I didn’t think so. Therefore, I reject gods the same way I reject unicorns, as a claimed creature for which there is no objective evidence.
Matt: A square circle is a non-sequitur. It is self contradictory by definition. God cannot violate his own nature. Besides how would you comprehend such a contradictory thing if it somehow were able to be done? You wouldn’t know it and your proof would be useless since you couldn’t understand it. Besides, it can’t be done anyway.
Cephus: Yet, according to most Christians, God is all-powerful, he can do anything he wants to do. A self-contradictory action should be quite simple for a deity that supposedly created not only the entire universe, but all concepts within that universe. If God wanted to make a square circle, make up down, left right or big small, he ought to be able to do it or he cannot be logically described as all-powerful, can he?
Matt: Can you violate your own nature? Can you will yourself to be bigger than the sun?
Cephus: You can’t even demonstrate what God’s nature actually is. All you can do is arbitrarily assign characteristics to God which you cannot prove he actually has. People can claim that leprechauns are short men in green clothes that guard a pot of gold, but are they really? Of course not, there are no leprechauns, they’re made up creatures with entirely assigned characteristics, no one has been able to point to a real leprechaun as an actual representative of those features. The same is true of God. Until you can point to an actual, demonstrable God that has those characteristics, it’s just an empty claim.
Matt: Perhaps, but not against logic, since He created it.
Cephus: This goes back to an earlier question about logically contradictory things. If God created logic and had the power to change it at his whim, why could he not simply do whatever he wants to and have it violate logic?
Matt: If God created the universe and everything in it, then he created it out of his own nature. The design and natural laws had to originate in His mind. Therefore, it will have His characteristics woven into it: logic, physics, etc. These are all reflections of Gods awesome creative character. Also, since God is self-sufficient, He cannot be self contradictory. Otherwise, He could not sustain Himself. Therefore, He cannot violate His own nature.
Cephus: This is where it starts getting silly. How do you actually know any of those things? Faith, particularly blind faith, is not a virtue. You’re just accepting a story of how things happened, you have no way of verifying that any of those things actually happened and science does not support your claims regardless. You can arbitrarily assert that God did the things you want to believe he did but I can make counter claims, equally without any verification or validation, that the Flying Spaghetti Monster did things the way I feel like presenting them and we’re at a logical impasse because neither set of claims is demonstrable.
Matt: He could. He could destroy the entire universe. But He chooses not to.
Cephus: How do you know this? Where did you get this information? Certainly, you can claim to get this information from the Bible, but you haven’t shown that the Bible is actually true or a reliable source of information either.
Matt: Why? Just because God doesn’t choose to do something He has the power to do, it does not mean He does not exist. After all, does it prove that you do not exist if you choose not to do something you could do? If you choose not to clap your hands right now, does that mean you do not exist? Of course not.
Cephus: Again, these are just claims, made without any demonstrable source. You can neither demonstrate that God exists, that God has the power to do anything, or that you have any means of making competent claims about God’s desires or motivation. All we have is your say-so about things that you cannot possibly know. Why should we be impressed by that?
Matt: Think about this. God choosing to not exercise His will in something is the same as you choosing not to exercise belief in a god. You could, but you just don’t. Both are a lack of action. So, how can you complain against God for not moving according to your criteria, when you choose to not move at all in believe in Him?
Cephus: No, belief is not something one can choose to do. You cannot simply decide to believe in magical pixies one day, out of the blue, through force of will alone. You have to be convinced that something is actually true to believe it is so. No atheist complains against God for doing anything because no atheist is convinced that God is actually real. I do not choose not to believe in God, I have been presented with no convincing evidence that God exists in the real world. It’s the same reason you do not believe in Krishna or Odin or alien abductions or Bigfoot, assuming that you do not believe in any of those things. I don’t want to put words in your mouth and you can correct me if I mischaracterize you in any of those assumptions.
Amazing how the conversation still makes sense, even more sense this time through, in my opinion. Maybe Matt’s problem is that he’s talking to the wrong atheists.