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Burden of Proof

Here is an email I received in response to one of my essays.

Burden of Proof

Julie Phillips : : 2002-09-04

I remember I read somewhere you saying that the burden of proof is on those who believe. But atheism is a faith too.

It is faith in the sense I don’t believe there are leprechauns, fairies, Roman Gods, Babylonian gods, Egyptian gods, tyranosaurs in the sewers of New York or Israeli gods. Nobody has shown me even any evidence for any of these things, so it seems foolish to believe in them. If such evidence should appear, I will change my mind, then. Just as the onus is on the scientist to show invisible atoms are real, the onus is on the Christian to show the invisible, do-nothing Yahweh is real. For all practical purposes, he might as well not exist.

You can not disprove the existence of God or the truth of Christianity. You complain that so many Christians try and witness to you by sharing with you their personal experience of God. You say it is imaginary. But you’re the same. All you have to go on is your own gut feeling that it isn’t true. I’ve looked through your comments and you have no proof.

You could equally well argue I have no proof there are no leprechauns or fairies. I have no proof that Allah is not the big cheese. I have no proof the Lock Ness Monster is a fraud. There is more evidence that the Loch Ness Monster and alien abductions are real than there is evidence for God. All you have to vouch for the existence of The Christian god is a gut feeling. At least for Yeti and Bigfoot there are some DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) hair samples.

You have not even exposed yourself to any other religion. How can you possibly know yours is best? You are deluded believing in an invisible man in the sky spying on you, but because your delusion is popular, you don’t get locked up as a lunatic.

Yours are the mournful wails of a child who refuses to give up her belief in Santa Claus. You want Santa to exist, therefore he must exist! You feel in your bones he exists. Therefore he must exist. It would be intolerable if it were otherwise. The universe does not care what you want. It is what it is. All the wishing in the world that there be a God won’t make it so. You can make an ass of yourself ignoring the complete lack of evidence for the Christian god, but you can hardly expect others to do so. What you are doing is no less silly that asserting fairies exist just because you love fairies.

You have deep feelings. You are convinced this is God. I think you are deluded, why? Because Roman citizens felt the same way you do toward Yahweh about Zeus; Vikings would happily die for Wotan, not to mention modern day Muslims in their fanatical worship of Allah. If anything they are even more intense than you are, yet God is telling them the Christian God is a sham and their God is real. Could it be you are all kidding yourselves, puffing yourselves up with self-importance thinking the creator of the universe has taken time to speak to you specially?

The other reason I think you are deluded is that if God touched someone, they would be transformed. People who claim to have been touched by God it seems to me are just about the dorkiest people going. There is no smell of the divine about them at all. They are basically losers who try to gain status by claiming divine favour.

You come up with hypotheses and quotes from scholars but nothing that really sways anyone.

Yes, for Christians this is not a matter of logic, but of emotion. It is also a matter of brainwashing. People rarely come to Christianity by logic, nearly always by emotion or brainwashing. Does it not trouble you immensely that babies grow up to believe in the gods of their parents? It is purely an accident of birth that you are a Christian, not something inherently attractive or truthful about Christianity. Had you been born elsewhere, you would be banging the drum for a totally different religion with equal fervour.

In contrast, for atheists the issue is not nearly so emotional. The Jewish, Roman, Christian, Roman and Norse gods all seem equally improbable. We atheists combat Christians for spreading their bunk with the same distaste for untruth we have for people who sell phony medicine cures. It is just a general distaste for lies and untruth. It has not nearly the charge it has for the Christian. The Christian God is just one of thousands of gods that man has proclaimed. Logically at most one could be genuine. The odds are then the Christian one is just one of the phonies. I am personally convinced the Christian depiction of God is way off base. I discuss what I think the true nature of God is in my essay. There may be a god, but he is nothing like the buffoon depicted in the Bible.

And not all Christians are afraid to look into the evidence. Very few scientist are atheists. And a fair number are Christians and I don’t just mean scary creationist science (not that I disbelieve in the creation. Just trying to see things through your eyes, for all the good it’ll do me). Some of us have listened to atheist arguments. Some of us really thought about this before we committed ourselves. After all, no one wants to be committed to a lie.

I think you are affronted by the notion that your sexuality might be sinful. I know I’m asking what, to you and many others, will seem like a ludicrous question, but why does that bother you so much? Separate the Bible from the Kristians who are abusive. Why does the suggestion that homosexuality might be wrong bother you?

The only people who have tried to kill me were Kristians. I went through I period of my life when I got three telephone death threats a day from these people. You can read in these feedback pages the typical sentiments of Kristians. You can see why I hold them in such low esteem. They think they are the world’s most righteous people, but they are the most insufferable.

My boyfriend’s ex-flatmate was a gay Christian and it’s really difficult for him but he still has faith and still lives the life of a Christian. I’m sure you will say the more fool him or commiserate because he’s been brainwashed etc. I think that’s because people are really preoccupied with their own rights, the right to be happy, the right to sleep with whoever they want, the right to be with the person they love, the right to be selfish. We live deluding ourselves that life is ours to do what we want with. It’s not. It’s a gift. I don’t think that your sin is any worse than my sin or anyone else’s (there will no doubt be Christians who disagree with me but I’m used to that). The difference is that Christians admit their sinfulness and turn to God for help. You don’t want to do that. But maybe that’s because you think God asks too much of you. But that’s what being a Christian is. You make sacrifices and you’re better for it.

On the other hand, if you really don’t feel God calling to you, why the big attack on the Bible? Why the desperate need to prove us wrong and be vindicated before a bunch of people whose opinions, if you’re right about us, shouldn’t matter to you? Just wondering.

I see modern day Christianity as the source of so much of today’s troubles including overpopulation, persecution of gays and callous disregard for the environment. Getting rid of Christian superstition will make the planet a much nicer place to live. In that sense, you could say I am called by God, to get rid of this phony religion. God is supposedly Truth and Kristianity is the arch enemy of truth.

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