31 May 2007

Public Service Announcement

Christians! Atheists don't disbelieve in God because they're scared to face the truth about their place in the world, or because it makes them feel less guilty about doing wrong things, or because they secretly know God exists but have chosen to reject God. It takes great courage to try to be a good person in the absence of a received morality, and to face the prospect of oblivion after death.

Atheists disbelieve in God simply because they consider that the available evidence suggests that God doesn't exist. You may well feel that this evidence is flawed or incomplete, but for God's sake do them the basic courtesy of treating their beliefs as an intellectual position rather than a spiritual defect.

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Atheists! Christians and other theists don't believe in God because they've mindlessly absorbed what the church has told them, or because they're too stupid too understand reality, or because they're scared of death and need to invent a comforting fantasy. Theology is a complex, intellectually rigorous discipline, and the prospect of divine judgement with eternal consequences is no less intimidating than that of a simple cessation of life.

Christians believe in God because they consider that they have good reason to think that God exists, despite the evidence you see to the contrary. You may well feel that their reasons are mistaken ones, but for Dawkins' sake give them the respect due to people who have actually thought about all this.

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The sooner everyone accepts this, and starts engaging with each other's points of view without feeling the need to insult, dismiss or belittle, the better.

(I trust we all feel suitably chastised now.)

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