The Stephen Fry Syndrome: Part II

This is a direct continuation from Part I (astonishingly) so read that first.

Here we are, then, having a bit of a play around with some of the sound bites that get erected as defensive shield walls by people.

“Every thinking man is an atheist.” Ernest Hemingway

Ok, Ernie…but what if I think hard about what you’ve just said, and I disagree. What if, actually, the idea that I accept everything on blind faith is misinformed, and that I’ve thought long and hard about this? Or does the sheer fact that I can think make me an atheist?

Me:1 Greatest-Novelist-Of-All-Time: 0

There are, of course, people who accept all sorts of propositions without much thought, but being wrong is not the same as being unthinking. I thought for a long time during my GCSE Maths exam, and still got the worst score in the school’s history – but then, according to Hemingway. I’m an atheist now, so it won’t have any lasting significance.

“Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”  Douglas Adams

Yes, of course it is. Frankly, if I thought for an instant that there were fairies anywhere in my garden, I would move house immediately.

But when you see a beautiful garden, mightn’t you think that there was at least a gardener?

It reminds me of the God of Gaps thing: the idea that theists attribute to our Magic Sky Clown anything in the world that we don’t understand. In fact, for most of us (I hope) God is simply the best explanation of what we do know from Science and the world around us.

“If you’re an atheist, you believe this is the only life you’re going to get. It’s a precious life. It’s something we should live to the full. Where if you’re religious and you believe in another life, that means you don’t live this life to the full because you think you’re going to get another one. That’s an awfully negative way to live a life.”― Richard Dawkins

Aside from the fact that RD has used ‘religious’ as a bizarrely catch-all term, this is classic uninformed presumptuousness. I would agree that if someone fails to appreciate this life because of the prospect of a future one, then that’s flawed and negative. But the Christian message isn’t ‘forget this life, there’s another coming along shortly’. In John 10:10, Jesus says:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Jesus doesn’t just want us to live life to the full, He is the one who offers it.

And finally for this week…

“You can’t convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it’s based on a deep-seated need to believe.” Carl Sagan

This is a good example of how being a genius doesn’t guarantee that everything you say will be genius. Who does this apply to? Every single person who believes in God? The theoretical-physicist John Polkinghorne? The geneticist Francis Collins? Me?

Please understand this: for most Christians, our Faith is not blind obedience to a childhood indoctrination, but something that we have put our trust in based on the evidence around us, not in spite of it. To say my belief is not based on evidence is uninformed, a bit arrogant, and quite rude. We may be wrong about God, but let’s not build up straw men like this.

Furthermore, I think Sagan is right about us (all of us) having a deep-seated need to believe. We all need to put our trust and faith in something (look at the change in mindset of Arsenal fans since Mesut Ozil arrived). We may put our faith in Science to explain everything, but we are all wired to ground ourselves in something we can trust. And wouldn’t it make sense, if God was real and wanted us to engage in relationship with Him, that he would at least give us a few hints. If we had no in-built need to believe or trust anything, we would never find Him. The fact that we all have this longing to believe is a good sign that there is something worth believing in.

Right, good. So, get involved in the comments section, follow us on Twitter @cvmdemolition. Have a lovely day!