Thinking, Free of Thought
Vol: 23 Issue: 31 Wednesday, May 31, 2017
To an unbelieving skeptic, religious faith is a little like a child’s faith in Santa Claus. This gives rise to the skeptic’s argument that faith stands in opposition to reason and therefore mutually exclusive.
In other words, the “faithful” are those that check their brains at the door before entering church.
Those same skeptics are supremely confident that they are right and you are wrong, which brings us to the dictionary definition of “faith” which is “confidence or trust in a person or entity.” So the skeptic has faith, as well.
Where they differ is in where they put it. The skeptic puts is faith in his own ability to reason, which is in and of itself a bit odd, since they cannot explain exactly how or why the ability to reason came into existence.
Over at the Skeptic’s dictionary, they define faith as “the non-rational belief in some proposition, explaining that, a non-rational belief is one that is contrary to the sum of the evidence for that belief.”
The piece goes on to argue that theologians are playing dirty when they argue that faith means believing in something, but at the end of the day, the skeptic’s argument goes around in circles, arguing by faith in his ability to reason that religious faith is non-rational.
In researching today’s column, I ran across a story headline that summarizes the skeptic’s position; “Choosing Reason Over Faith“. The story was all about how a person that claimed to be pro-life was forced to resign from the pro-life movement because other members of the movement were people of faith.
“After everything that I had done for the pro-life movement, I decided to resign my leadership role at WAFL, effective at semester’s end. Why had I, a successful anti-abortion crusader, decided that the pro-life activist’s path was not one that I wanted to take? The answer is that I could no longer associate myself with a movement that willingly chose faith over reason.”
Is that the choice? It is not possible to have reason and have faith? In any case, after the author’s sense of reason made it intolerable for her to continue to work to advance her alleged principles, those principles began to fade.
“In addition to promoting scientific reason, in my travels as an atheist activist, I have rethought my positions on “life issues”. While I still believe that abortion is unethical, I have less of a desire to outlaw all such procedures.”
So her sense of reason was able to cool her passion to save babies from a position of red-hot activism to “rethinking” her positions on “life issues.” Maybe there are times when a baby has no right to live, she argues.
“In my time at Wellesley Alliance For Life, I realized that a woman doesn’t just have an abortion as another form of birth control; rather, there are legitimate reasons for terminating a pregnancy. For example, a Secular Student Alliance member confided in me that she had an abortion after being raped. Although I would have preferred that she had given her baby up for adoption, it was simply unfair for the State to force her to carry the pregnancy to term.
That is where her argument from reason took her. To the place where she could argue that there are legitimate reasons for taking the baby’s life. The subtitle of her piece? “From a Pro-Life Activist to a Freethought Leader.”
I’ve always been a bit confused by the skeptic’s choice of self-description as that of “free thought.” Free of what? Logic? Where is the logic in arguing that a babe in the womb should legitimately forfeit his life because of some circumstances of his birth but not others?
A reasoned question to ask at this point would seem to be, “Is it a baby in the womb or is it a blob of unfeeling, unthinking protoplasm?” Logically, if one is pro-life, the issue is one of life, not circumstances. Circumstances change, but life, once taken, cannot be restored.
Instead, this free-thinker makes the incredibly chilling argument that it is indeed a baby, but that sometimes, it is ok to kill it.
“Although I have abandoned some of my former opinions on “life issues”, I still believe that abortion is wrong, unless the woman is raped, is a victim of incest, or if the mother’s life is in jeopardy.”
She still believes abortion is wrong . . . because. . . ? Because . . . ????? Ummm, why is it wrong? It is wrong because, ummm, because. . . well, because. . . is it because it means killing an innocent human being?
Logically, if the issue is an aversion to killing babies on the basis they are innocent, then the rape and incest exception is meaningless.
Our freethinker’s thoughts are clearly free of any encumbering, er . . thought. And she makes it as part of an argument favoring reason over faith.
“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” (Psalms 14:1)
Our freethinker’s argument stands as sufficient testimony to the truth of the Psalmist’s words. So do all of the skeptic’s arguments, when broken down into their component parts.
To begin with, none of them are in support of their own position, to wit; there is no God. It then follows that “nothing is responsible for creation.” It is an odd argument to make, since it is even less possible to argue the existence of nothing than it is to argue the existence of God.
It is at least theoretically POSSIBLE that God can exist. Nothing is the absence of everything, and therefore CANNOT exist. So, the skeptic’s argument MUST come in the form of an attack on Something, to wit: a Creator God.
But even then, they cannot launch a direct attack on the existence of a Creator God since they have ‘nothing’ to use to prove their position, so instead, the attack is centered on what you believe about God vs. what they believe about God.
Because make no mistake, they also believe in God in some sense, or logically, there would be nothing upon which to base the discussion. They just don’t want to believe and are seeking justification for that disbelief.
(That’s where our free-thinker ended up when she started splitting hairs about the wrongness of abortion. Notice how abortion got “righter” after she began distancing herself from the concept of God?)
Have you ever been in a debate about God in which you didn’t find yourself trying to prove that God exists? The skeptic’s argument doesn’t offer alternative answers — it only raises questions in the hope you can’t answer them either.
The atheist needs to sucker you into the positive position of proving God exists, because he cannot prove the negative proposition.
Why is that? It is the atheist whose proposition demands positive evidence, since his proposition demands a belief in the existence of nothing. Not an absence of knowledge, but a positive declaration of certainty in the existence of nothing.
There are libraries full of books attempting to prove the existence of God or to argue against the existence of God. There aren’t very many books that attempt to prove the existence of nothing.
The very concept of nothing is something and therefore is instantly disqualified from existence.
Free thinkers believe in nothing. They reach that conclusion by putting all their faith in their own ability to apply reason. The fact that such a conclusion is impossible, based on logic, science and reason, is no obstacle.
If you can believe in nothing, then you can fall for anything.
Featured Commentary: Prophecy by Parallel ~Wendy Wippel