Theism, Athiesm and Agnosticism

After I got back from my run this morning, while stood in the kitchen making a cup of coffee I switched the television on and half caught a typical “Sunday Morning Religious Debate Show” - you know; the worst kind - where the producers have thrown two groups of people together that are going to argue, and dressed it up as some kind of “high brow” discussion programme.

I’ll admit I wasn’t watching it properly, but the few minutes I saw pretty much boiled down to the atheists not being able to get a word in while the theists contradicted themselves, bullied, tried to take some sort of high ground, and misconstrued every observation or comment made by anybody presenting an opposing view. It was disconcerting.

In the end the kettle boiled, I made my coffee, and got on with my day - but a part of it stayed with me all day, niggling away at me…

Why do people have to take sides? Why can people who believe one thing or another not live and let live? It seems to me that whenever anybody makes some kind of statement about their own beliefs, somebody else will come along and jump down their throat - claiming high ground, spouting quotes, or presenting a rebuttal.

It would appear that “having an open mind” (Agnosticism) is not allowed. I’ve sat on the fence for years, and have been questioned many times about it by friends who have huge faith in their Christian God. Over the years I’ve become far closer to “not believing” in any kind of “creator” for all kinds of reasons. Partly the irrationality of different groups of people believing in “their” version of such a creator, but mostly the total and utter lack of material proof.

Most theists would approach the lack of proof question with the argument posed by Palmer Joss in Carl Sagan’s book “Contact”;

Palmer Joss: Did you love your father? Ellie Arroway: What? Palmer Joss: Your dad. Did you love him? Ellie Arroway: Yes, very much. Palmer Joss: Prove it.

The argument uses misdirection and emotion to manipulate. The proof of the love for her father is the strength of the memories of the time spent together when he was alive.

One comment made by a philosophy professor on the TV show today has stuck with me, and I thought I would share it - at the time he was addressing a particularly outspoken theist who wouldn’t shut up… (I can’t remember his exact words, but hopefully can communicate the gist of it)

“If we discover that an intelligent creator can be proven to exist tomorrow, a scientist will have no problem dealing with it. It will be something to learn about - to ask questions about - to study. If science proves without question that there is no such thing as God tomorrow, you will have a major problem dealing with it.”