Rants and Raves

 Posted by on 20 July 2002 at 5:02 pm  Uncategorized
Jul 202002

Ah, I must have been possessed by the devil to write the following small rant on agnosticism in response to these comments on belief in God from Eric Olsen:

Okay, I’m going to be blunt here. Agnosticism of any variety is damn stupid.

Eric writes, “I agree with Andy that there is no compelling logical reason to believe in God, but there isn’t any compelling logical reason not to believe either.”

Do you believe every wolf-boy story pictured on the cover of the Weekly World News too? Why not? I mean, sure the advocates haven’t proven their case. But the skeptic hasn’t disproven the existence of the wolf-boy either… How about elves? goblins? invisible pink elephants?

Agnostics (whether theist-agnostics, atheist-agnostics, or just plain old agnostic-agnostics) carve out a special exception for God. But the burden of proof applies just as well to God as it does to unicorns, goblins, and wolf-boys.

If people wish to believe in God, I don’t care much, so long as they are honest about the lack of rational justification for their belief. But to distort the rules of reasoning used so well everyday for the sake of putting a rational veneer on that belief is wrong — and, well, stupid.

I’m usually nicer than that.

Perhaps my cantankerous attitude is the result of reading Eve Tushnet’s blog this afternoon. In writing about Christian forgiveness, she quotes extensively from an e-mail from Kairosperson, a portion of which is reproduced below:

Of course, an extraordinary person in the final seconds of his life may forgive his killer, but most ordinary people need at least a little time to reflect on something before offering forgiveness. That we are called to forgive unconditionally and automatically, but often do not, makes it very much worse, as a moral matter. Though I don’t for a moment believe it to be true, it is possible within our theology (because there are so many mysteries in it) that the bank teller gunned down swearing at the thief would be damned on the spot for not forgiving the killer. The victim of rape or torture at least has the time and opportunity to consider forgiveness. (I believe–hope–that the merciful God can create a way in which the victim of a murder is really given a chance to forgive, but there is little comfort on this sunject [sic] to be found in Scripture.)

What sort of monstrous perversion of a morality would damn the victim of a murder to hell because of insufficient time (here, measured in seconds) to forgive the (unrepentant) murderer? Augh! Evil, evil, evil!

In 2001, I gave a lecture on forgiveness and redemption, so I’ve thought a fair amount about the issues surrounding moral wrongs. Oh, and while I’m not exemplifying the non-virtue of humility, I may as well mention that I’ve lectured on arguments about the existence of God before too.

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