Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Small Mind, Closed Mind

Over at Shadow To Light, the militant theist Mikey is so obsessed with trying to find fault with everything said by any atheist, that he is completely closed to the possibility that they might be saying something reasonable.  And what is it that he is raving about now?  An atheist has concluded that there are no gods.  How outrageous.  But it's not merely that this atheist doesn't believe in Mikey's fantasy.  What has Mikey drooling and frothing is the notion that the atheist is being inconsistent with his own "Official Position".  If this sounds strange to you, I would have to agree.  But remember, this is Mikey, and his capacity for reasoning is clearly limited by his affliction.  I'll try to make this all a little more clear.

It seems that Mikey has read a review of a book written by David Silverman (who is president of American Atheists) called Fighting God.  That unfavorable review appears in The Socratic Catholic, and contains several quotes from the book.  I won't focus on the quality of the review.  I'm sure theists will take delight in its negativity.  But for those who are interested, here is another review with a different perspective.  At any rate, it is those quotes that Mikey has focused upon, because he would never actually read a book like that with the objective of understanding the thinking of an atheist.  So he starts out with a limited perspective derived from a few quotes in a negative review.  The first one that upsets Mikey so greatly is this:
Atheists like me are what I call conclusionary. We have concluded that gods are myths because we’ve seen sufficient evidence and heard or read sufficient arguments to convince us there are no gods. - Silverman (quoted)
What's wrong with that, you might ask?  It's the fact that this atheist has made a conclusion based on the evidence, which, Mikey tells us, means that Silverman would never again listen to any evidence or change his mind.  His mind is closed.  Never mind the fact that Silverman never said any such thing - in fact he says the opposite of that, and that's even in one of the quotes that Mikey cites:
But this is not stubbornness. If any god, anywhere, were proven real even once, I would convert, quit my job, and donate all the proceeds of this book to the correct god’s religion. - Silverman (quoted)
So Silverman actually says he would believe if he was given reason to believe, and Mikey, with spit drooling down his chin, calls that "close minded".  Because Silverman uses the word "concluded", Mikey insists that the atheist has committed the cardinal sin of holding an "affirmative belief".  And evidently, in his little uncomprehending brain, that is equivalent to being permanently closed off to any and all evidence.  This despite the fact that Silverman says his conclusion is based on the evidence, and he would believe if that evidence were different.  But in Mikey's view an atheist is not allowed to draw a conclusion from the evidence.  [As an interesting aside, what might we say about Mikey's belief in God?  Perhaps he is the epitome of open-mindedness because he doesn't bother with evidence?]

And why, you might ask, should an atheist not be allowed to make a conclusion based on the evidence?  Because, Mikey tell us (with little balls of spit flying from his mouth), that's a violation of the "Official Position" of atheism, as stated on the website Silverman's own American Atheist organization.  As Mikey triumphantly points out, that website says:
Atheism is not an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes. It is simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods. Atheism is too often defined incorrectly as a belief system. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods. - American Atheists
That's right.  That's the way most atheists define atheism.  And Mikey sees this as the height of hypocrisy.  He takes that statement to mean that an atheist can't have any affirmative belief about God.  But Mikey didn't read past the first paragraph on that site, which offers additional information that never made it into his little pea brain.  It says the lack of belief is the one common thing shared by all atheists.  If you lack belief in God, then you are an atheist.  That's the definition.  But it doesn't say that atheists must be agnostic.  It doesn't say that atheists can't have affirmative belief.  It says this:
The only common thread that ties all atheists together is a lack of belief in gods. Some of the best debates we have ever had have been with fellow atheists. This is because atheists do not have a common belief system, sacred scripture or atheist Pope. This means atheists often disagree on many issues and ideas. Atheists come in a variety of shapes, colors, beliefs, convictions, and backgrounds. We are as unique as our fingerprints. - American atheists (emphasis in original)
But Mikey didn't read that far down the page.  Instead, he goes off on another rant about Silverman's use of the word 'proof':
First, note that he demands “proof.”  Not evidence.  Not a rational reason to believe.  He needs proof.  He claims to “search for truth,” but will accept nothing less than PROOF. - Mikey
Let us not accuse Mikey of reading Silverman's words with any measure of charity.  He couldn't possibly have meant "evidence as proof", could he?  No, Mikey would never have the charity to admit that any atheist would say something reasonable.  So let me repeat the quote from St. Ignatius of Loyola, as stated in the beginning of the very same book review that Mikey uses as his source of outrage:
In order that the one who gives these Exercises and he who makes them may be of more assistance and profit to each other, they should begin with the presupposition that every good Christian ought to be more willing to give a good interpretation to the statement of another than to condemn it as false. If he cannot give a good interpretation to this statement, he should ask the other how he understands it, and if he is in error, he should correct him with charity. If this is not sufficient, he should seek every suitable means of correcting his understanding so that he may be saved from error. - St. Ignatius (quoted)
'Nuff said.

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