Jacob Scribner responds to the hate being dished out at Jessica Ahlquist

So, this article was posted the other day in response to Jessica Ahlquist win in Rhode Island:  http://livefromthecatacombs.blogspot.com/2012/01/i-dont-have-enough-faith-to-be-atheist.html It’s pretty full of crap… but we thought it deserved a good response. So, a new contributor, Jacob Scribner laid it out for this confused blogger…

There’s a lot to go through, so let’s just deconstruct this blog entry one part at a time.

Public schools are funded at both the state and federal level, and holding up a banner with a Christian prayer on it is an endorsement of Christianity because it sends a very clear message about which religion gets special treatment from this organization. By granting that sort of leniency to Christianity, it’s a very underhanded way of endorsing it without making it too obvious. The First Amendment is very explicit about this; if tax dollars are involved, it can’t be religious. It’s as simple as that.

“You say that it affirms the existence of God? Not really. It “affirms the existence of God” in the same way that a poster of Clifford the Big Red Dog on a kindergarten classroom affirms the existence of dump truck-sized house pets. You are free to believe it or not, but the presence of the poster does not mean that the teacher, the school board or the state believe it to be true.”

Wow, where do I begin here?

First of all, who says that it affirms the existence of God? Not me. The only thing that should affirm the existence of a god would be demonstrable extraordinary evidence under controlled conditions.

Secondly, if you’re a Christian, you’re undermining your own god with this argument. By comparing the existence of a god to the existence of an imaginary giant dog, you’re juxtaposing them on equal footing of believability, and frankly, I’m with you on that one. There is precisely as much evidence for the existence of Yahweh as there is for the existence of Clifford the Big Red Dog: none outside of fictional text which is, by very definition, untrue. I honestly don’t understand why you even brought that argument forth.

Thirdly, the difference between a poster of Clifford and a banner with a Christian prayer is that a poster of Clifford is a totally secular display. It has no connection to any religion, nor does it promote or discourage any. The same cannot be said about the latter.

Moving along…

The issue with the banner has nothing to do with offending people. Not being offended is not a right in any free society. This is a matter of legality and equal treatment under the law. How I feel about the banner is immaterial. How the banner violates the First Amendment by being allowed to be displayed by a public school is a very real and very blatant encroachment of the Establishment Clause.

The courts defined atheism as a religion? How does that in any way alter the reality of the matter? If the courts decided that every television has another channel called “turned off,” would that mean that you’d be watching another channel by not turning on your television? That argument is beyond inane and comes out of a complete misunderstanding of what atheism actually is. There is no morality one can develop from simply being an atheist. There are no morals, no values, no laws, no tenets, no dogma, no scripture, no holidays, no rituals, no prayers, no ceremonial garb and no clergy. Atheism is nothing more than a response to a single claim. If anything, atheism is more of an effect than a cause. I’ll use myself as an example. Because I’m a curious person and wanted to make sure whether or not my beliefs were true, I investigated those beliefs to see if they held any water. When I realized that there was insufficient evidence for me to believe such an extraordinary claim, I became an atheist due to my inability to accept the claim.

The only thing that dictates one’s actions is what one DOES believe, not what one doesn’t believe. I think it’s fair to say that between you and me, neither of us believe in the Kraken. To put this into perspective, I need to ask you this; does your lack of a belief in the Kraken have any influence over your own philosophy? Once I have that answer from you, we can delve further into this particular issue or let it be.

“The philosophy religion known as Secular Humanism also goes by another name: atheism.”

Bullshit. There are a lot of secular humanists who aren’t atheists. I’ll even name a few: Steve Allen, John H. Dietrich, Sherwin T. Wine, Rod Serling.

Okay, Kirk Cameron, let me straighten something out for you. There’s no such thing as a “devout atheist.” While I’ve explained how atheism, by its very definition, is the antithesis of religion, you should understand that if you don’t have a belief in a certain thing, you can’t possibly be devout about it.

If by devout atheist, you mean “open” atheist, then I certainly won’t disagree that there are some people who don’t hide the fact that they don’t believe in gods. (I’m one of them, actually.) Be as it may, I’ve yet to meet a single atheist who goes around, defines a god and then proceeds to explain to people why this god doesn’t exist. Speaking for myself, I only respond to claims that people make about certain gods and ask questions to determine how valid those claims are. It’s not my fault if you don’t convince me. I haven’t closed my mind off to the possibility of a god—even though I don’t find the existence of one to be very bloody likely. On the contrary, I’m daring every theist I meet who brings this god claim up to convince me because if we can establish that a god exists then we can move on to an even more important discussion: should we worship this god?

Evolution is not free from dispute. No issue is. The thing about evolution is that despite all of the dispute that it’s received, it has survived the trial-by-fire of discourse and repeated testing. A lot of people seem to think that evolution begins and ends with Charles Darwin, and that’s a complete fallacy because since Darwin, we’ve really expanded upon our understanding on how living organisms survive and adapt over periods of time in certain environments. There were also many evolutionary theories prior to Darwin. Some were true. Some were not. (Look up Jean-Baptiste Lamarck to understand what I mean.) The ones that didn’t conform to the reality of the evidence were disregarded by science, and the ones that were reliably valid have stood the test of time. Darwin’s theory of natural selection was just a very major and important discovery, but even if Darwin had never discovered that, the theory of genetics is all you really need to know that evolution happens. If it weren’t true, you’d never need a flu shot, nor could you ever get a mixed dog.

As for this statement…

“(even though spontaneous generation can’t be duplicated, there are no fossils that even sort of indicate cross-genus mutation, and carbon dating is at best unreliable)…”

That’s a lie. I’m surprised YOU could say that with a straight face.

As for global warming, not every atheist agrees on that. Penn and Teller, who are very open on the fact that they’re atheists, aren’t convinced of the claims of global warming either. But with respect to the topic of your blog, it’s really neither here nor there, so let’s keep rolling along.

“To the Atheist, the process is the supreme being. Logic. Reason. Science. That which cannot be proven empirically has no meaning. While the Christian proclaims faith in that which he does not see, the devout atheist denies that which he does not see and belittles anyone who claims that it does, in fact, exist.”

You’re comparing apples and oranges here. Logic, reason and science are all matters of objectivity. Finding meaning in things is a matter of subjectivity. Meaning is something we place on things, and this meaning may not apply to everyone. It might matter a lot to me whether or not my favorite football team wins the Super Bowl, but to someone who doesn’t place any value on football, the game is meaningless. However, we must both agree that the game is played on a field 100-yards long with eleven men on each side during a one-hour regulation. That’s the difference between subjectivity and objectivity.

And no, not every atheist belittles people who are religious. It might surprise you to know that there are atheists in the world who wish that they could believe as you do. They want to believe that there is a god and afterlife waiting for them once they shuffle off this mortal coil, but due to the lack of evidence presenting itself, they CAN’T believe.

Honestly though, if you think atheists are being rude to you when you talk to them or are belittling your faith, perhaps you should try to look at the conversations you’re having as though you were a fly on the wall and really take the time to understand what kind of message you’re sending when you talk to them. I’ve never even met you, and from what you claim to know about atheists, you are coming across as smug, arrogant, ignorant and stubborn. Being the Christian that you claim to be, I’d have thought you’d be more familiar with the Golden Rule. You know what it is and how it works; you get what you give. If you talk shit, shit is going to fly right back at you and hit you in the eyes.

Science is the de facto supreme being? Science isn’t a being. It’s a process just like cooking or music. It’s a way of doing something, not an object to be adored. Science is also not faith-based. It’s the complete opposite. Science is evidence-based. How you feel about something or who tells you a certain something is irrelevant. The only thing science deals with is the physical universe. What can we observe? What can we measure? What can we test? What conclusions can we draw from these results? What can we compare it to? Can we repeat these findings? Ignorance of the difference between religion and science at a level such as this is migraine-inducing and speaks volumes of how poor American education really is.

The fact that science changes when new discoveries are made is a good thing. If something is proven to be wrong, we should change are minds, and if we expand our knowledge upon something else and learn that there is more going on than we initially realized, we should accept that and increase our understanding. That’s how a rational mind operates. And yes, while it is true that science doesn’t make any attempt to “prove” anything—that’s a matter of mathematics—it does allow us to get within the slightest shadow of doubt to the truth, and some theories have cut that shadow of doubt so thinly that to disprove them would be to turn our whole understanding of the universe upside-down. We still haven’t “proved” that gravity exists, but if you were to test this theory by dropping objects off the roof of your dwelling, don’t be surprised if every object hits the ground eventually.

If you want to talk about exercises in futility, try this one out: demonstrate an inconsistency in the Bible to Ken Ham. If you don’t know who he is, he’s the CEO of Answers in Genesis whose mantra is “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” At least Richard Dawkins concedes that the existence of a god isn’t impossible, just highly unlikely.

I think I’ve said enough and addressed just about everything. Ginny, I really hope you read this and give it some thought. I swear, I’m not trying to convince you that the god you believe in doesn’t exist or that your faith is stupid. All I’m hoping is that you gain a better understanding of where atheists are actually coming from and don’t make the same mistakes twice.

  • Lisa L.

    Well said!!!!!!

  • http://mcskeptic.blogspot.com/ McSkeptic

    Hot damn!

  • TonyL

    Way to GO !!

  • articulett

    If the banner “affirms the existence of God” in the same way that a poster of Clifford the Big Red Dog in a kindergarten classroom affirms the existence of dump truck-sized house pets, then why the brouhaha about taking it down? I can’t see why a school would spend thousands of dollars on a court case to keep a picture of a big red dog up– nor call someone all sorts of nasty names for asking it to be removed. One would think they’d just remove the silly thing. Had the school just removed the banner upon the first complaint, I bet few people would have noticed or cared. Clearly the prayer was not working.Why do Christians imagine that they don’t have to follow the same laws as everyone else?

    • Jim Jones

      “Why do Christians imagine that they don’t have to follow the same laws as everyone else?”

      All people are special, but Christians are more special than everyone else.