Let’s try this concept on for a second. You agree to play tennis with someone that claims they are pretty good. Damned near professional, they say. You, on the other hand, played with some friends a few times in college. Eh, it’ll be fun, you figure. At least you’ll get some exercise. Nothing serious, just fun.
You meet this person to play. However, much to your confusion, instead of meeting at a tennis court, you meet at an open park. There is a generally flat surface, but no court. No lines marking fouls, and no net.
Confused as hell, you begin to play. Your opponent calls the fouls. Incoming service clearly out to the wrong side is called in. Service that bounces so low it would have had to go under the net is called in. Your opponent seemingly can not miss, despite an obvious margin of error.
When it’s your turn to serve, they have to be perfectly on target. Without the net, your opponent frequently calls the ball as a net ball. And even if they attempt to return the ball, and botch it, it is retroactively called foul and their point.
It doesn’t take very long to realize that the so-called “nearly professional” opponent is anything but. If there was a competition court with net, they would barely rate as a beginner. But without the net, and calling shots subjectively, their scoring miraculously increases.
This is what it is to debate a theist.
Religious apologists, including many of the defenders of the faith that have commented on my blogs, have exhausted countless words attempting to remove the net from the game. They’re almost proud of it, as if removing the net makes them superior thinkers. But it makes them dishonest.
Many may comment here, and say something like I’m “ignorant” or some other such ad hominem attack. But they have planted the flag. They have defined the game. Here is the net they have established for themselves:
We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
and was made human.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried.
The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again with glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will never end.
And we believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life.
He proceeds from the Father and the Son,
and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified.
He spoke through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,
and to life in the world to come. Amen.
This is the net established for all Christianity at the Nicene council in 325 CE. This net is not a mere “timeless first mover.” This net isn’t just something to serve over. This net is to serve a tennis ball 400′ through a hole 4″ in diameter and hit a deuce court that is 5″x8″. This is exceptionally specific. And yet the argument served up is so watered down that the arguer could almost serve the ball backwards and try to claim victory.
The cosmological argument, in various forms, is so far removed from the conclusion as to be useless. Even if the premises were correct (they aren’t), the argument can at best demonstrate that something did something. That’s a few steps short of even demonstrating and intelligent something. This low-ball approach covers somewhere around half of the “arguments” for god.
After that, there’s all the other arguments devoid of evidence, such as miracles and prayer and morality. If you thought the evidence for Kalam was sketchy, you were right. The rest of these arguments are wishful thinking at best, and they only bat the ball a couple more feet.
Let’s pretend that there really were miracles. Okay, we have exactly zero confirmed miracles. But don’t let that stop us. Let’s pretend there’s been a bunch of confirmed miracles. At best, that serve gets us over the net of “something intelligent” that we don’t yet understand. Even with a confirmed miracle in the modern age, it would not prove that pre-teen Mary’s uterus was one-way.
It does not make anyone a professional tennis player to announce the location of the net, and then just calling a fair serve by bouncing the ball around. It’s a ridiculous game. They set a mark, and a very specific mark at that, but when it comes time to demonstrate they just chuck random crap out there until something seems to stick. And it almost always only sticks with believers. Everyone else rolls their eyes.
The Spartan Atheist