In continuation of yesterday’s post I must admit my train of thought has already sailed, only actual examples I wanted to talk about remain and so that’s what I will do today.
IIRC, yesterday I surmised that we should try to beat atheists at their own game, on the premise that what they appreciate in their quest is but a reflection of Kṛṣṇa – logic, honesty, rationality etc. We know that their method is limited and unsuitable for understanding the Absolute Truth but since that’s all they know and Kṛṣṇa’s greatness is unrivaled even in their limited fields it’s not an impossible task but rather a sensible and necessary approach until the moment they are ready to talk about God Himself.
I base this on a simple and brilliant corollary to the ontological argument – if you fully understand what God is, you must accept His existence (more about ontological argument here). The argument itself gives atheists creeps, once they realize how difficult it is to defeat it, and so this corollary is definitely not something they would agree with from the start, yet it is a natural evolution of thought and logic.
Their initial reaction is being dismissive, if you ask for a refutation of it in a public forum nine out of ten would just rant or propose half-baked answers that can’t stand scrutiny. One out of ten would agree that the problem is complex and propose a long-winded explanation meant more to confuse rather then clarify. This, btw, is one of their go to responses to any difficult question – they’ll send you on a wild goose chase with the promise that once you complete your education, learn all there’s to know about philosophy, physics, or biology, you’ll understand why they are right and you are wrong.
No one will accept existence of God simply on the strength of logic, as per ontological argument, which is what is expected by us because we know their opposition to God doesn’t come from knowledge or any other of the professed features of scientific method but from envy present in the heard of every conditioned soul. We can’t cure that by arguments but we can demonstrate their fallacy to them and let them decide what they want to do about God next.
Normally, we should avoid the atheists and preach to those who are favorably inclined towards God but these days atheism catches quite a few souls which otherwise should be “ours” and we need to reclaim them from māyā.
Anyway, examples. Bill Nye is on the post debate tour and on Saturday he appeared on Bill Maher show. Bill Maher is an avowed atheist himself who made a documentary called Religulous a few years ago where he made as much fun about religion as he possibly could. He is also one of those atheists who just can’t shut up about God, which is a trait that needs to be discussed separately.
So, Bill Nye made a guest appearance and he said that he developed a certain amount of respect for Ken Ham (posts about the debate itself here), which surprised Maher quite a lot. Maher said he has respect for Ham’s bladder, in a sense that he respects his right to use a human bathroom, but not for his brain, convictions, intelligence etc. They had an earlier encounter that wasn’t very pleasant, I understand. Nye, however, was very impressed by Ham’s dedication to to creationism. He thought that Ham was just a quack feeding on people’s ignorance but instead he saw an intelligent man who honestly believes in what he is saying and who is trying to make honest to god arguments in defense of his views. That’s progress on Nye the “science guy” part.
Well, not much of a progress overall but it shows that even die hard atheists have the ability to appreciate logic and reason instead of just boasting about it. Let me explain – Nye, with all his credentials, argues on the level of a third grader. He really appears to be mentally deficient, sticking to a couple of well rehearsed points and unable to comprehend any opposing arguments.
In this short dialogue between him and Maher, for example, he again mentioned that there are trees more than six thousand years old and that’s why Young Earth Creationism is wrong. “How do you know that these trees are that old”, asked Maher, and Nye animatedly explained that scientists drill the trunk with increment borers that can extract tree tissue where you can count the number of rings. That’s what we did in third grade, it’s not “science”, and Nye should have learned that YEC proponents have easy answers for this already. This particular third grader hasn’t done his homework, again. Perhaps there’s nothing more to his scientific presentation than his trademark bow tie after all.
First of all, they don’t bore six thousand year old trees. The tree Nye mentioned in the debate and, I believe, showed a slide of, has a trunk that is only a few hundred years old, it doesn’t have anything like six thousand rings. When they say that this tree is nine thousand years old they talk about its root system, not its trunk. Age of the root system was determined by carbon-dating.
Did Nye learn anything about this tree at all? What kind of science is that? He seems to be woefully ignorant for the “scientist” of his reputation and it’s Nye, not Ham who preys on people’s ignorance here.
Afaik, there aren’t any trees with ring count that is greater than YEC age of the Earth and this method isn’t exact as sometimes more than one ring and grow in a year, as YEC people say.
Now, this kind of logic is not going to convince atheists on the first try but but it will sow seeds of doubt. Is it fair – to bank on doubts rather then on straight up logic? Not really, but we have to remember that people’s fascination with atheism isn’t based so much on logic but on emotional attachment in the first place. Despite all their talk about reason and rationality it’s forceful presentation that attracts them most, and that’s why they respond to irrefutable arguments with cheap shots and empty declarations.
This you can try yourself – many of the atheists are incapable of maintaining a civil discussion and only a few will actually try and find proper, “scientific” answers to our questions. Among those only very few will be able to look at their answers critically, and among those there might be some who would admit that their answers can actually be totally wrong. Defeating these rare people might be impossible for us, with out limited knowledge of science, but we shouldn’t worry about such “failures” and instead think of people whose faith in “science” will be shaken along the way.
Ultimately, it’s impossible to prove existence of God, He is beyond the reach of our senses or our logic. The ceiling for this kind of inquiry into Absolute Truth is impersonal Brahman, we should remember this limitation and don’t overshoot. There’s also the fact that knowledge ultimately comes from the Supersoul and if someone doesn’t want to know God in any shape or form and wants to refute His existence no matter what the Supersoul will provide him with necessary arguments. If this is the case – who are we to go against Paramātma?
I have another example in mind but this post is getting long, it’s too late to start anything new, so I’ll stop here.