Bringing together non-believers …
Religious people frequently express bewildered incredulity that atheists could believe the universe and/or self-replicating organisms could have come into existence by pure chance. They regard this belief as madness or willful ignorance. Or both.
Well religious people, I have good news. You don’t have to worry about the sanity of atheists after all because they do NOT believe the universe and/or self-replicating organisms came into being by pure random chance. Atheists (many of them, at least) say we should not believe anything until there is good confirmatory evidence.
The origin of the universe and the origin of self-replicating organisms are both hard questions to study. They are hard because they occurred a long time ago (we weren’t there!) and because the passage of time may have obliterated the best evidence. Stephen Hawking put this very well. He said it could be like a drunk searching for his keys under a lamp post: that may not be where he lost them, but it is the only place where he has light to find them. We can only consider the evidence we have and, right now, we do not have enough to arrive at a conclusion.
So atheists do NOT believe the universe and/or self-replicating organisms came into being by pure chance. Atheists simply say we do not understand how these things happened.
But less erudite believers (which, unfortunately, seems to be most of them) have an immediate retort. They say, if you don’t believe God did these things you MUST believe it happened by accident.
No, no, no! That is a false dichotomy. That is to assume there are only two options; either the believer’s preferred god did it or it was random chance. But there are many possible natural explanations and many possible supernatural explanations. It is also possible that there are both natural and supernatural explanations that we are not yet aware of.
In such situations, rational people keep an open mind and keep searching for more evidence. What no rational person should do is believe any earnest claim that my family’s god; Fred, Brahma, Allah (or whatever) did it. Believing such un-evidenced claims really is madness.
By Bill Flavell
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