The Problem With Theist Assumptions

assumptionsOn a relatively recent edition of The Atheist Experience, the show from 11/10 to be exact although it won’t matter because this happened in the aftershow and doesn’t show up in the regular feed, a theist called in and started asserting that the Bible couldn’t have just been written by good and holy men because good and holy men would not have said that God told them what to write, therefore, God must have been responsible.  This is an absurd claim to make, it relies on a lot of really nonsensical beliefs and I don’t know that Matt Dillahunty really addressed it in the kind of detail that he should have.  Granted, it was in the aftershow and he was trying to get out of there and this particular theist was obnoxiously stupid so I place no blame whatsoever on Matt, but this is something that really needs to be addressed.

At issue, and I think Matt did a good job here, is the unwarranted assumptions that the Bible was written by good men.  It was written by men (or humans if you want to be more generic) and humans are not inherently all good or all evil, they are a mix of motivations and drives that, no matter how hard they try, they cannot do things that are all good or all evil because, at least in my opinion, good and evil are inherently subjective anyhow.  Further, I’d argue that, especially in the Old Testament, anyone who wrote those things was an immoral animal, there can be no good or holy justification for the horrors visited upon innocents in many of the slaughters of old.

Of course, where all of this really fails is the blind assumption of God and the goodness of the Bible.  Theists are often blinded to the utter evil contained within the Bible and to their own blind faith in the existence of God to begin with.  This is clearly the case with this caller, whose predisposition to believe God actually exists and actually wrote the Bible entirely overshadow his ability to actually consider the facts in this matter at all.  To him, God is an undeniable fact and he’s just trying to rationalize his way to God without actually demonstrating that God is real.

We see this constantly with religious apologists of every stripe, they are unable to evaluate their holy book, whatever that hold book might be, rationally and objectively, using the exact same tools that we would use to evaluate any textual source.  They have to utilize special pleading for their favored source because they are trying desperately to reach a specific conclusion, instead of following the evidence to see where it really leads.

None of the people who wrote the Bible, or any other religious book, are all-good or all-bad, they are just all-human.  Therefore, assuming that these people are somehow moral paragons because they came up with a book that you happen to prefer is absurd at best, dishonest at worst.  J.K. Rowling, who wrote the Harry Potter books, may be considered an excellent author by her fans, but that doesn’t make her a better person than anyone else  because of it.

People need to learn how to operate critically and rationally and while I’m not thinking that the religiously delusional will ever be able to do that, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be able to explain to them why they are wrong.  Maybe it’ll spark a couple of random neurons into activity.  You never know.

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