I was recently asked how I knew that gravity was real.
You know, I once tried living my life, sort of as a test to myself, in a way where gravity might not be real, and it just made me happier living knowing that there is gravity. I’m pleased and happy believing in gravity. My life has more meaning because I believe in gravity.
I was also asked how I knew that the world is round.
I looked at people that believe the earth is flat, and they just seem snarky and angry. When I believe the world is round, it feels right, and ball earth people just seem happier to me.
But Spartan Atheist, did someone kidnap you and hack your website? How fucking stupid are you being right now?
Exactly dear reader. The answers I gave above ARE stupid. They don’t have anything at all to do with whether gravity or a spherical earth are real. They are just dumb feelings. You don’t need feelings to find out if things or real or not, because real things exist, and therefore there is evidence of their existence.
Common people and scientists alike, when asked why they believe in something real, discuss evidence. No matter if the subject is gravity, ball earth, the superiority of a particular product, if they will get a job, or if it will rain tomorrow, the discussion centers around evidence.
Now, this is not to say that some people suck at interpreting evidence. There are flat earthers that don’t believe in gravity, for example. But they don’t base that on feelings, they base it on their (logically fallacious) interpretation of the evidence. If you ask them why they believe the earth is flat, the entire discussion is based on their interpretation of available information, often couched in piles of assumptions. But this article isn’t about correctly interpreting evidence, I already did that here.
This never happens when you ask a religious person why they believe in their religion. Yeah, if you launch a bunch of “evidence this” and “evidence that” at them, you will get a response in kind. But if you ask a religious person in a non-threatening, truly curious way, why they believe in their religion, you don’t get an evidence-based answer. You get feelings.
Being happy. Doing good. Finding meaning. Inner peace. Wanting it to be real. These are both the first and last answers given by religious people. If you don’t believe me, go try it! Find a religious friend, and just tell them you have a little thing you’ve been thinking of, and you just want to ask them a question and you want their honest answer. If they agree, ask them why they believe in their specific religion. Their answer will discuss happiness, goodness, meaning, peace, or wanting it to be real. I guarantee it.
Now if you press them, the supposed evidence excuses come out. But they already gave you their honest, most important answer. And depending on how well you can demonstrate their evidence sucks (because there is absolutely no evidence for god), then they eventually resign from logic and evidence, and go back to happiness, goodness, meaning, peace, or wanting it to be real. (i.e. “well, I have faith”)
Nobody does this for things that are real. Real things don’t require feelings, because they are real. Real things affect other things in the real world, which means there is evidence of their existence. We can’t see air, but we see the interaction. So I don’t have to want, be happy, find meaning, or want air to be real. I just blow up a balloon. Ta da!
Hope, bad excuses, and hope. These are not convincing. These are not how we describe real things. If your god was real, you wouldn’t need faith.
The Spartan Atheist