To all the truly liberated thinkers:
Although I was not specifically ‘de-converted’ from Christianity by Professor Dawkins’ works, his ideas had a profound, albeit indirect, effect on my beliefs. Below, I have tried to express my personal understanding of the Christianity that I had believed, as succinctly as possible. Enjoy!
“How can you be so sure [that the Abrahamic God does not exist]?”
“I’m about as sure as you are that Santa Claus isn’t real.”
“Of course Santa’s not real – everyone knows that he’s made up.”
“Exactly. He’s made up.”
As a former Christian, I make no use of hyperbole in proposing that the fundamentalist Christian’s entire belief system is flawed from the ground up, and have no qualms in openly proving my point. Below, I will systematically analyze a few of the underlying faults of Christian logic, conclusively establishing that sound reasoning never validates Christianity.
The deep-seated nature of faith and religion in Man’s psyche might lead one to believe that their complexities are far from graspable. However, upon closer examination, I personally found that the intricacies that I had initially imagined about fundamentalist Christian beliefs were disappointingly and paradoxically straightforward. Instead of the delusions being a convoluted web of contradictions, it occurred to me that these systems of beliefs were essentially layers of fallacious arguments built on top of each other.
At the core of the fallacies lies the notion that the conclusion has already been established, and that the burden of proof is on the shoulders of the non-believer. Instead of assuming that God is a theory – on the basis that “He” is not physically observable or testable – the believer assumes that the absence of God is a theory. To illustrate the absurdity of this line of reasoning, it might be considered that even Christians are Atheists about fictional characters such as Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, despite not being able to positively disprove them. On the other hand, Christians have already decided, with near absolute certainty, that the Bible is the unadulterated Word of God, and use those same scriptures to circularly validate the Bible’s own reliability.
In other words, fundamentalist Christians allow their doctrines to obey a different standard of reasoning; although evidence is eventually accepted, it is only approved of if it substantiates the provided assumption, which immediately defeats the purpose of evidence-based reasoning. It might even be said that Christians, ironically, are the ones who truly build their proverbial houses on sand.
While identifying the presence of this fallacy does not empirically disprove the proposed axiom that God and the Bible are true, it is a persuasive criticism against the validity of Christian logic. Since conclusions precede proper reasoning, the Christian’s proposition is never falsifiable. In stark, antithetical juxtaposition, the most basic reasoning is fundamentally reducible to a tentative position, where a thesis is presented to be proven with clear criteria, such that any reliable evidence and testing will either corroborate or contradict it. As a result, it can be said that Christian “reasoning” is simply not reasoning at all.
This kind of circular reasoning leads to an elimination of any evidence or explanation of a phenomenon or context that does not agree with the presumed conclusion. For instance, a fundamentalist stance on the side of creationism unreservedly rules out any other explanation for the origins of life and the universe. While most Atheistic evolutionists accept Darwin’s conceptualization of the Origin of Species by natural selection as truth based on reason and evidence, Monotheism is not strictly ruled out in principle – it is merely unproven and much less reasonable. On the other hand, given that fundamentalist Christians have already settled immovably on a literal interpretation of the first chapters of the book of Genesis in the Bible, even the most conceivably compelling evidence is insufficient to convince believers otherwise.
Faith, then, enables believers to justify their circular, unfalsifiable arguments with conviction. The Apostle Paul wrote that “without faith, it is impossible to please God,” and Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” As much as faith is merely an amoral suspension of reason, it is euphemized and venerated in Christianity as a highly-esteemed virtue. Many Christians will be quick to justify faith as a hearkening to the supernatural, but that argument is easily dismissed since the supernatural is equivalent to the unobservable, and anything that is unobservable is physically unprovable. Even if the Christians were, in fact, correct, there would be no feasible way to prove it.
An unrestrained analysis of fundamentalist Christian logic proves it to be unreasonable. It presumes axiom, appropriates only evidence that corroborates the assumption, rejects any contradicting evidence and reasoning, and then uses faith to justify its position.
However, the discomforting clincher is that the fundamentalists are the only believers that are truly consistent in biblical interpretation. Those who accept scientific truths such as evolution by natural selection and the 4.54 billion year age of the Earth must choose to believe the literal, in-context interpretations of the Bible selectively. The Christian Bible can be only either the inspired Word of God, which is to be taken whole, or the compiled writings of many mistaken religious people. Simply put, if the fundamentalists are wrong, the rest are wrong too. From a purely rational perspective, then, the Christian Bible and God are plainly not rational beliefs.
K H Tan