In all these discussions about God and proof, one of the things I’m starting to believe is that atheism is more of a personality trait than a belief system. As I said in my last post, it was only when I approached the possibility of God with humility, set aside my fears of looking like a fool or being wrong, that I was able to see the abundant proof in front of me.
As usual, former atheist John C. Wright says it best. Below is a comment he makes after mentioning that he had a series of profound religious experiences:
You might wonder why, if God can convince atheists to worship Him merely by dropping by for a visit, He does not do it more often. The reason is that it does not help, not at all, not a bit. When I suffer doubts, when my faith gets weak, my faith in my memory gets weak too. Faith and faithlessness have NOTHING TO DO with evidence presented to reason or senses. It has to do with a humble will and an upright heart. If God presented evidence to skeptics, all that would happen is that skeptics would doubt their evidence. If God gave a logical argument to prove His own existence, all that would happen is that skeptics would doubt the power of logic to prove anything.
(via Mrs. Darwin, who emailed me the link)
Read the whole thing. It’s wonderful.
His comment reminds me of an experiment I thought of recently: go to an atheist forum such as the Raving Atheist and ask the folks over there what God could do to prove himself to them. Then, take their responses, and spoof a site like Yahoo News or the New York Times and write a fake news article describing the breaking news that these events have just taken place. Now post this article at a different atheist forum and ask them if they now believe. Then just sit back and watch the atheists at the new forum attack the story and list reason after reason that it does not necessarily prove that God exists.
I’ve never done this because of logistical issues, mainly that it would be too hard to get a URL that would seem like a real news site. Also, it’s hardly worth spending the time to do since it’s obvious what the results would be. Let’s say that the atheists at the second forum believed that the article was real, that the events described actually transpired. Does anyone really think that the responses would be along the lines of, “How could I have been so wrong? I hope that God will have the mercy to forgive me.”
At least in my case, atheism was a defense mechanism. I was surrounded by proof of God’s existence, but in every case I looked away. I described myself as open-minded and skeptical; I was really defensive and cynical. I called myself a realist; I was actually just a pessimist.
All of this was ultimately rooted in pride and fear. Because of my pride, I had a great fear of being wrong. The prospect of seeming naive, vulnerable, or (the worst case scenario) unintelligent was intolerable to me. Believing only in the material world at hand, in things that could be reduced to mathematical equations or demonstrated in a lab, ensured that at least I was never wrong. People could say that I was lacking in spirituality, but at least they couldn’t say I was stupid.
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