by: John Tyrrell
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Tracking down the source of a silly "intelligent design" cartoon, I came across an old Christian website (Are you good enough to go to heaven?). And this site contains the full version of "The Atheist Test", apparently the basis of the comic.
Now this little test - and it is little in spite of being spread out over five tedious pages - contains a number of lame arguments for intelligent design and the existence of the Christian God. And it is not surprising that the arguments are lame because the "test" is adapted from the works of Ray Comfort - you know that the banana is the atheist's worse nightmare guy - and yes - the argument immediately following the evolution of the coke can in this test is the re-iteration of the banana nonsense.
But let's move on to page three and four of this ridiculous "test."
The declaration "There is no God" is what is known as an absolute statement. For an absolute statement to be true, I must have absolute knowledge.
Here is another absolute statement: "There is no gold in China."
What do I need to have for that statement to be true?
A. No knowledge of China.
B. Partial knowledge of China.
C. Absolute knowledge of China.
"C" is the correct answer. For the statement to be true, I must know that there is no gold in China, or the statement is incorrect. To say "There is no God," and to be correct in the statement, I must be omniscient.
To make the absolute statement "There is no God." I must have absolute knowledge that there isn't one.
At a certain level, that is true. But the vast majority of atheists today do not make that absolute statement. Essentially, most atheists are de facto agnostics, claiming that they don't know there is no god, but believing on a balance of probabilities that there is no god.
And the gold in China analogy used in this so-called test is not a good analogy. It should be unicorns in China, or yeti, or leprechauns etc. Arguably, you cannot make the absolute statement there are no unicorns, yeti, or leprechauns in China without absolute knowledge - something none of us possess. And yet a lot of people - probably even Ray Comfort - would have no problem stating flatly that there are no unicorns in China.
But let's assume it is a reasonable analogy. Then what does it force the Christian Ray Comfort into? If he thinks that this analogy makes it impossible for non-believers to deny the possibility of his god, then it makes it impossible for Ray Comfort not to believe in the possibility that Thor, Bosatsu, Zeus, Cthullu, Amun, the FSM, Chuang-Mu, Papa Legba, Bel, or any other deity that you can imagine exists.
If Ray Comfort (and the owner of the Are You Good website) really believe absolute knowledge is require to deny the existence of their particular malignant deity, then absolute knowledge is required to deny the existence of every god ever proposed, every god that might be proposed in the future, and every possible god that humankind has not the time or inclination to imagine.
And if Ray Comfort can somehow comfortably exclude the possibility of any god except his particular version of the Christian God without absolute knowledge, then he cannot legitimately criticize others for adding his deity to their list of exclusions.
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