How many times have you been to church or synagogue or mosque, and in the middle of a sermon someone raised their hand to challenge something the preacher said? Anyone? Of course not. That doesn’t happen because churches are stupidity echo chambers and nothing else. People go to church/synagogue/mosque to find people they can nod their head in agreement with, not to think.
Now, I always thought it would be fun to go to a service, and then just raise my hand after a particularly ridiculous thing was mentioned, and ask a question. I chuckle at the thought, but I’m not in the habit of ruining people’s stupid beliefs in their own house or private place. I only do it in public. But if I were to do so, what question would I ask? I would ask the most powerful of all questions.
There is one question that is very important in thinking through complex problems, in challenging ideas, and destroying poorly conceived beliefs. This works for anything, by the way. Ask yourself what it would take to prove yourself wrong. If you can think of something that will, if demonstrated, change your way of thinking, then THAT is a powerful question. You can usually tell a powerful question like that because it is considered blasphemy in most religions and actually illegal in some places.
So what would it take to prove I’m wrong?
Again, this question should be asked about everything. I think the earth is round. I could be proven wrong if a flat earth model was proposed that better explains airplane routes, for example. Some flat earth models do seem consistent for northern hemisphere flights, for example, but are completely screwed for southern hemisphere flights. But if such a thing was proposed, I would have to consider.
I accept evolution by natural selection is responsible for the diversification of the species. I could be proven wrong if a more modern species was found in the fossil record with earlier species, for example. I trust my partner is faithful to me, this could be proven wrong with pictures or incriminating text messages. I believe my position at my job is secure, I could be proven wrong if I get fired or counseled by my superior. I believe it is impossible to make a perpetual motion machine or generator. I would have to believe if someone did it, tested it, and it really worked. What would demonstrate that I’m wrong about atheism? Demonstrate a god. Any god.
Now, scientists do this all the time. They will make very precise predictions, and results outside those predictions indicate failure. Darwin did this. If you don’t believe me, how many religious people have quoted this one:
“To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree.”
This wasn’t Darwin saying his theory was wrong. If you believe someone didn’t believe their own theory, then still published a book so they could be ridiculed by all their peers, then you’re an idiot or a religious person. Oh, wait. I already said idiot.
No, Darwin was saying that he believes in his theory. He felt very strong about it, actually. But he did say that he had not worked everything out, and that if this particular problem couldn’t be resolved his theory has a huge hole. He predicted the eye would be able to evolve from simple to complex, and if it weren’t possible, his theory was wrong. Darwin, you see, was an honest fellow. And of course, we all know what happened. (Unless you’re a fundamentalist, in which case you’ve been insulated from this next bit.) The eye not only can evolve from the very simple to the very complex without any leaps of “technology”, but it has actually happened more than once, independently. This is to say that sometime AFTER our “tree of life” split, eyes evolved on multiple branches with no common “ancestor eye.”
Further, there are species alive today with eyes in all the various stages of evolution, so we know that slightly less complex still functions down the whole line. There are species with single light sensitive cells, light sensitive patches of skin, indented light patches, bowl shaped light sensitive pockets, bowl shaped pockets with mucus, bowl shaped pockets with mucus and some muscle control, etc, etc, etc. There’s probably dozens of links I could use here, but this one seems pretty decent. This one as well. Darwin said “if this doesn’t work, my theory sucks”, but it turns out it works. This is why we still accept evolution. The thing that could have gone wrong didn’t, and in fact are totally awesome.
So religious folks, you propose a whole lot of weird stuff. Ask yourself, what would it take to prove yourself wrong? I can think of a bunch of things, depending on which version of god you prefer.
Obviously, evolution kills a lot of religions. Ol’ Ken Ham and others wouldn’t spend so much time trying to prove evolution isn’t real if that wasn’t one of them. Religious leaders in southern states wouldn’t be working so hard to make children dumber if that wasn’t the case. But if evolution is true, then your religion’s version of creation is wrong. Not to spoil the ending, but evolution is true (see above). And on a side note, it’s really silly of Ken Ham, specifically, to fight evolution so much, as he specifically said that nothing would change his mind about creationism. But while he has been corrected many times about his misunderstandings on evolution, he continues to spout the same lies. He’s either very stupid, or a liar himself. Or stupid and lying. Or lying to himself.
And there are lots of other things as well! C’mon religious people! Predict the efficacy of prayer! Religious people tell us all the time that they “know the power of prayer”, and why we need to pray to make the world better and whatnot. So do a study. If it demonstrates the desired effect for prayer, great. But if it doesn’t, the idea should be abandoned. Turns out, religious people with religious money and religious backers at a religious institution proposed and studied just this thing. They were gonna stick it to the “evil atheists.” The results? Prayer doesn’t work. Bummer for them…..
Hell, considering the number of times religion got it wrong, it’s a wonder anyone still remains religious. They don’t ask themselves that powerful question- “What would prove you’re wrong?” If something is uncomfortable, they move on. And on. And on until they find something that feels good. This is also called “lying to yourself.”
I don’t call religious people “liars” flippantly. You lie to yourself, your children, your family, and your community. Grow up. Ask the hard questions. Deal with the reality.
The Spartan Atheist