Sunday, October 02, 2011

Top 10 Fallacies of Fundamentalists

Fundamentalist Christians have a skewed view of the world. They live in a world where facts are irrelevant and evidence is what you find in the bible. Because of this slanted approach to reality, fundamentalist beliefs are riddled with inconsistencies, contradictions, and scientific inaccuracies. Here is my countdown of the top 10 fallacies believed by fundamentalists:

10. The world is about 6,000 years old. It and everything on it were created in six literal days.

The only possible way this could be true is if God also created the evidence for an old earth when he created everything else. He would have had to create the fossils and then arrange them in order of complexity. He would have had to create the daughter elements produced by radioactive isotopes in situ. He would have had to create the ancient varves underneath the lake beds in Australia and the layers in the glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica complete with pollen grains of ancient plants and he would have had to create the light beams in transit between the distant galaxies and the earth. And the purpose of all this extra creation? To throw us off so that in the millennia to come scientists would falsely believe that the world is much older and the faithful would have to either believe this worldly baloney or have the strength of their faith to deny the evidence and keep believing. In other words; God tricked us so that only the gullible or the stupid would go to heaven.

9. God is all-loving, all-knowing, and all-powerful.

Epicurus had it pegged centuries before Jesus was born. An omniscient, omnipotent, and infinitely-loving god is incompatible with the presence of suffering in the world. And there is no way to rectify the situation. All Christians can offer are lame analogies or make up excuses and contrivances for God like, "The lord works in mysterious ways." It also presents a conundrum in logic to say a being is both omniscient and omnipotent. An omnipotent being can do anything, including change its mind. But an omniscient being knows everything, including the future, so he would know beforehand if he were going to change his mind. Therefore, was his mind actually changed?

8. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.

The problem with that is that Jesus is supposed to be divine and eternal. How can a perfect, divine being suffer? And even if he did suffer in body, so what? He was supposedly present with God in heaven from the beginning and after he died he went back to heaven to be with God again, so where is the sacrifice? In order to sacrifice something, the thing you're sacrificing has to be lost or destroyed. What was destroyed in the Crucifixion/Resurrection scenario? Nothing.

7. Atheists are angry and mad at God.

Some atheists might be angry. So might some Christians. But if atheists are angry it isn't because they are atheists. And how can they possibly be mad at something they don't believe exists. Those who appear angry might better be described as frustrated. Some of us continue to be frustrated with the fact that so many people we know are still laboring under the delusion that a personal, loving God exists and they use that "knowledge" to inform their decisions, some of which might affect the personal liberties of the atheists.

6. Prayer works.

Prayer cannot possibly work. It can not only be shown that prayer requests are not answered any more often than what would occur by random chance, but even by the Christian doctrine itself, prayer cannot work. Christians believe (because the bible says) that God's will is always done. So if you pray for something that is already God's will, your prayer will seemingly be answered. But since God's will is always done, you would have gotten the same answer even if you had not prayed for it. If your prayer is not part of God's will, then your prayer won't be answered at all. So either way, prayer is useless and never results in God changing his mind to satisfy your desires.

5. The bible is the inerrant Word of God.

Yeah, right. And I have this bridge in NYC I'll sell you cheap. I can't list them all here, but take a look at this vast collection of biblical contradictions for starters. And it's no better when it comes to stating scientific facts. It says, for example, that insects have four legs, that the earth has four corners, and that Jesus could see all the kingdoms of the world from atop a mountain in the Middle East.

4. The end is near.

The end (Second Coming, Rapture, End of Days, whatever you want to call it) has been near for the last 2000 years. The first person to predict the end was Jesus himself. He told his disciples that some of them would still be alive when God established his kingdom on Earth. The Apostle Paul thought it would happen within his lifetime. And ever since those days, Christians have been waiting and praying for the end of time. There's probably not been a generation pass that Christians didn't think would be the last generation. And it's still going on today. The reason it hasn't happened yet is because it's never going to happen. It's a false belief and those who believe it are deluded.

3. Quoting Scripture is the best way to save lost souls.

From the number of bible verses I get quoted to me I'm sure this one must be true. "Only a fool says in his heart, There is no God." I hear that one all the time. I reply, "Yes, but a wise man says it right out loud." Quoting the bible to an unbeliever in an attempt to convince him of God is like quoting Clement C. Moore to someone in order to prove the existence of Santa Claus. There is nothing in The Night Before Christmas that would convince a skeptic that Santa Claus is real. Similarly, nothing in the bible is evidence that God exists or that Jesus is his son.

2. Believing in evolution (or global warming or the Big Bang) takes just as much faith as believing in God.

Faith is a strong belief without evidence, or in the face of evidence to the contrary. It's often spouted that atheists have faith too - faith that the sun will rise in the morning or faith that a dropped object will fall. That's not faith. It's belief supported by vast amounts of evidence. I know the sun will come up tomorrow because it always has. More importantly, I can go look up the mathematical equations that describe celestial orbits and I can prove the sun will come up with math. We know evolution is true because we have facts and evidence that supports it. We can make predictions based on those facts and evidence and the predictions always hold up. Fundamentalists want Creation taught in science classes. I would almost say go ahead and teach it side by side with evolution if I knew teachers would do it fairly. That's right - list all the empirical evidence for evolution on one side of the board and list all the empirical evidence for Creation on the other side and let the students decide which view has more actual evidence supporting it. Evolution would require more space than the board has. Creation would require no space at all, because there is no evidence.

1. God exists.

Of course it all boils down to this. There is a strong belief among all Christians that the personal God of the bible exists and that Jesus is his son. That belief is why they are called Christians. But why do they believe it? Pick out any single fundamentalist Christian and drill down into the reason he or she believes. They may have a variety of answers - they believe in the bible; they were raised that way; they had a personal experience with the Holy Spirit - but all of those reasons are houses of cards. There is zero corroborating evidence that anything substantial in the New Testament is true. There is lots of evidence that supports the notion that much of it was forged, that none of the Gospels were written by the man whose names appear in the titles, and that it was compiled centuries after the supposed facts by a committee of arguing bishops whose main goals were political. Personal experiences with the Holy Spirit can be easily explained away as normal, natural hallucinations or by a form of mass hysteria. The mind can play lots of tricks that seem real, but which are only natural occurrences. What it really all boils down to is how you were raised. If you were born in the American South, odds are really good that you are a Baptist. If you were born in Saudi Arabia, odds are excellent that you are a Muslim. And someone born in India is likely to be a Hindi. You believe what your parents, friends, and pastors taught you. But they only believe what they do for the same reason. If the entire premise is faulty, then any beliefs that come from it must be wrong. Using historical analysis, textual criticism of the bible, and scientific inquiry, it can be proved that the original premise of Christianity is probably false. Therefore, any and all beliefs deriving from that premise are equally invalid.

Of course, as the demented house therapist said on the original Miracle on 34th Street, when you attack someone's delusions they become violent. With fundamentalists, their knee-jerk reaction to contradictory facts is to dig deeper into their faith and hold on for dear life. Facts and evidence are useless against delusions. But those who are more open minded or who are still trying to make up their minds about religion may benefit from the facts. And this countdown just presented 10 of them.


1 comment:

John Kiss said...

What if god does exist but not in the way that fundamentalists view it?