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My response to Terry Mirll’s letter to the Daily Oklahoman editor. December 16, 2010

Posted by thegodless in atheism.
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Below is a letter to the Daily Oklahoman editor by a Terry Mirll. Below that is my submitted response to Terry Mirll’s letter. I will provide a link below both letters for any interested in joining the fray.

Atheism is a belief based on religious faith

Published: December 15, 2010
Atheists in New Jersey, displaying that special clairvoyance reserved only for themselves, have erected a billboard telling America that not only is the Nativity a myth, but that the rest of us know that it’s a myth. Further, they assure us, reason is on their side but not ours. But when atheists make these sorts of claims, they’re either lying to us or lying to themselves. I suspect the latter.

Philosophically, atheism is founded on a contradiction. Ask the atheist why he doesn’t believe in God and the standard reply comes in the form of an objection to evil or suffering, such as: “If God exists, then why did He allow the Holocaust?” or “God doesn’t exist because when I was 12 my Mom died of cancer.” In other words, God doesn’t exist because He could do a better job at being God. Got that? He isn’t because He is … (stupid, or uncaring or incompetent). This is clearly a contradiction, which just as clearly refutes the assertion that atheism is based on reason.
Rather, it’s as faith-based a claim as that of any religion. That is, any other religion, because atheism is itself a religion. I should know. Not so long ago, I was calling myself an atheist. However, unlike my brethren in New Jersey, I wised up. May they, too, follow the star that shone so brightly over Bethlehem and understand the truth that it reveals.

Terry Mirll, Midwest City

My response:

In response to Terry Mirll’s letter to the editor claiming that atheism is somehow based on religious faith, I have to say that it is clear that the author is seriously misrepresenting what atheism actually is. In clear and concise terms, atheism is simply a rejection of the claim that there is a god, nothing more and nothing less. Apparently, Terry Mirll is not well versed in rational thought, as he has done nothing but build up a straw man to argue against, by making false claims against atheism. For the record, the majority of atheists actually come to atheism by way of realizing that there is a complete lack of evidence for any gods. In fact, I would dare say that even Terry Mirll has used this technique at some point, unless of course he has not ruled out believing in Zeus, Muhammed, Ra, and the thousands of other mythical entities. All religionists are atheists when it comes to other people’s gods, atheists just take the next logical step. When it comes to liars, I have to argue that it is much more likely for a person to be lying when they are claiming to have answers without any verifiable proof than it is for a person that is only seeking the proof. With regards to Terry Mirll’s claim of being a former atheist, I say that a real atheist would actually care if what they believed in is true, your ignorance of atheism shows you could care less.

Thomas Mackiewicz

Terry Mirll’s letter to the editor page (I can’t get the link to show up through the WordPress app):

http://newsok.com/atheism-is-a-belief-based-on-religious-faith/article/3523646?custom_click=headlines_widget

Logical fallacies of prayer. November 11, 2010

Posted by thegodless in atheism.
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For the sake of argument, let’s stretch reality and pretend that atheists are completely wrong about their stance on the nonexistence of gods. Let’s go a step further and say that one particular god is not only real, but this god also cares for us and chooses to dabble in our affairs. Now let’s pretend that we actually believe religionists that come forward with first hand proof of answered prayers. By taking these first hand accounts, we can ascertain what types of prayers god usually answers. We should also be able to determine what kinds of prayers god tends to ignore. Before I go any further, let me clarify what I mean by the answering of prayers. If I have to pretend that believers are telling the truth about their prayers being answered, I should get to at least require that an answered prayer must not come with any overt human involvement. A recent example of overt human involvement is the hole dug for the purpose of rescuing the Chilean miners. I’ve heard believer after believer claim that the miners were alive from the grace of god. They just throw all the credit to god on this and forget the massive human rescue effort, while it is clearly evident that without human intervention, the miners would have been dead long ago. Human assisted answers will not be counted in my non-scientific examination of prayers.

Examples of answered prayers that believers frequently attribute to god(s): disappearing afflictions and ailments, sudden freedom from stress and addiction, newfound financial stability and wealth, protection from a form of particular harm, safety of self and others, better physical and mental performance, pregnancy and child birth, finding a soul mate, getting a desired job, and accomplishing difficult goals.

Examples of the results of prayers that god has never been reported to have answered (surely someone at some point prayed for these): world peace, an end to all human suffering, resurrection of dead loved ones (Biblical accounts don’t count), immortality, prevention of the death of a crop, animal, or human, prevention of environmental disasters, restoration of a catastrophe or environmental disaster, restoration of ruined vehicles or homes, governmental progress and change (I know religionists praying that Obama will die or get kicked out of office), belief in god or the “right” god (I can’t count how many times unprovoked prayers were said for me to change my heathen ways), and healing of disfigurement or dismemberment.

A person thinking clearly would look at these groups of examples and likely see common themes, which I believe to be that god(s) seem to only answer prayers that are impossible to account for. Another theme evident with the answered prayer examples is that each of the first hand accounts all have natural alternative answers as to how they could have occurred, for instance, when it comes the healing of internal ailments, it would be much more reasonable and likely that the ailment was imaginary, incorrectly diagnosed, or healed by natural means.

As a majority of the commonly reported answers to prayers are suspect and unverifiable, it is left to the believer to demonstrate a prayer that has been answered overtly and inexplicably by any other means. While it is quickly becoming an atheist cliche, I must maintain that it says volumes that visible answers to prayer do not happen. I guess believers with physical deformities and amputated appendages are just shit out of luck.

Nature of prayer. October 14, 2010

Posted by thegodless in Atheism.
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For the sake of the argument, let’s stretch reality and pretend that atheists are completely wrong about their stance on the nonexistence of gods. Let’s also go a step further and say that one particular god is not only real, but this god also cares for us and chooses to dabble in our affairs. Now let’s pretend that we actually believe religionists that come forward with first hand proof of answered prayers. By taking these first hand accounts, we can ascertain what types of prayers god usually answers. We should also be able to determine what kinds of prayers god tends to ignore. Before I go any further, let me clarify what I mean by the answering of prayers. If I have to pretend that believers are telling the truth about their prayers being answered, I should get to at least require that an answered prayer must not come with any overt human involvement. A recent example of overt human involvement is the hole dug for the purpose of rescuing the Chilean miners. I’ve heard believer after believer claim that the miners were alive from the grace of god. They just throw all the credit to god on this and forget the massive human rescue effort, while it is clearly evident that without human intervention, the miners would have been dead long ago. Human assisted answers will not be counted in my non-scientific examination of prayers.

Examples of answered prayers that believers frequently attribute to god(s): disappearing afflictions and ailments, sudden freedom from stress and addiction, newfound financial stability and wealth, protection from a form of particular harm, safety of self and others, better physical and mental performance, pregnancy and child birth, finding a soul mate, getting a desired job, and accomplishing difficult goals.

Examples of the results of prayers that god has never been reported to have answered (surely someone at some point prayed for these): world peace, an end to all human suffering, resurrection of dead loved ones (Biblical accounts don’t count), immortality, prevention of the death of a crop, animal, or human, prevention of environmental disasters, restoration of a catastrophe or environmental disaster, restoration of ruined vehicles or homes, governmental progress and change (I know religionists praying that Obama will die or get kicked out of office), forcing belief in god or the “right” god (I can’t count how many times unprovoked prayers were said for me to change my heathen ways), and healing of disfigurement or dismemberment.

A person thinking clearly would look at these groups of examples and likely see a common theme, which I believe to be that god(s) only answer prayers that are impossible to account for. It is also evident with the examples of answered prayer that each of the first hand accounts all have natural alternative answers as to how they could have occurred, for instance, when it comes to the healing of internal ailments, it would be much more reasonable and likely that the ailment was imaginary, incorrectly diagnosed, or healed by natural means. Because the natural answers are more likely to be true, the believer has a high probability of putting their credit in the wrong place.

As a majority of the commonly reported answers to prayers are suspect and unverifiable, it is left to the believer to demonstrate a prayer that has been answered overtly and inexplicably by any other means. While it is quickly becoming an atheist cliche, I must maintain that it says volumes that visible answers to prayer do not happen. Believers with physical deformities and amputated appendages appear to be shit out of luck when praying for godly intervention, as do believers that have suffered house fires, child death, or voted Republican. It’s a good thing humanity has taken things into it’s own hands. If it was wasn’t for plastic surgery, prosthetics, house insurance, and grievance counselors, we would be in much worse shape. Now if only we would give proper credit where it was due. You never know how inspirational a simple word of appreciation can be.

For the sake of my sanity and my last point, I will quit with the pretending now. Because the probability of an all powerful god is so low and because nearly everyone has bouts of hypochondria, it is statistically likely that believers that believe their prayers have been answered are in actuality only going through a mental ritual all by themselves. Essentially, the believer starts by thinking in their head that they are in need of something, from there they begin looking for anything that can be perceived as an answer to their need. Once they have perceived that their need has been met, they automatically attribute the meeting of their need to a god, completely bypassing critical thinking and ignoring the possibility of natural answers.