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Einzige's Roommate is Not God
2005.11.01 (Tue) 15:25
PZ Myers pointed us to a fresh post over on The Lippard Blog by co-host Einzige, who presents a clever little parable:
You start to wonder about what you might make yourself for dinner when suddenly you are startled by a loud gunshot, followed by what sounds like a body falling to the floor. Rather than getting the hell out of there you somewhat foolishly run to the other room to see what happened. Once there, you see your roommate standing there, arm outstretched, holding a still-smoking pistol pointed at what is now, apparently, a corpse.
Your roommate looks at you and says "Santa Claus did it."
- Sincerely believe that your roommate is telling the actual truth?
- Decide that, because you didn't actually see your roommate fire the gun, you just can't know one way or another whether Santa did it?
- Consider your roommate a murderer, and the claim to be the rationalization of a mind that has snapped?
It's a very apt description of three basic mindsets in regard to the existence of superpowered deities: a) the fundamentalist believer; b) the undecided agnostic; and c) the firm atheist.
Eric, a commenter on Einzige's post, had this to say in apparent defense of true believers:
If my roommate was Jesus (were I Christian) or Allah (were I Muslim), etc.; then A would be the appropriate choice. However, since I think most Christians would agree that we share a faith in God, not in men, that C is the best choice since I obviously live with a lying murderer. Or someone working on an insanity defense.
But Eric is missing the point of the parable. The roommate isn't God — Santa Claus is, for the purposes of this parable. And claiming that Christians "share a faith in God, not in men," is a red herring...simply because, in reality, Christians (and other religiosos) are putting their faith in the men who told them that God exists in the first place.
The roommate is those men — either your pastor or reverend or daddy or theocratic dictator...whoever first filled your head with tales of the Super Magic Man in the Sky. The roommate (mortal men) is asking the protagonist (any person) to believe a claim (Santa's existence in the parable, God's existence in the analogy) that not only has no substantiating evidence for it, but seems to have plenty of evidence against it, that you can see with your own eyes. In keeping with the analogy, Eric is incorrect — Christians would choose option A, simply because of the fact that they actually did so in accepting the Christian faith.
That's why it's called a "parable," Eric — don't take the story literally. Understand the context.
Eric does, however, seem to thoroughly understand that belief in God is not a "reasonable" (as in rational) choice:
There's nothing that says Christians (or other religious folk) are obligated to give up reason (accepting of course that there are some unreasonable things we do, such as believe in God).
Exactly, Eric — and in the parable, your belief in God (and his all-powerful capabilities) translates to a belief in Santa (and his all-powerful capabilities), which means that in the parable, you would choose option A.
Hey, we've got no problem with people who choose to hold irrational beliefs and acknowledge their irrationality in that respect. We just think Eric missed the boat in his interpretation of the parable.
A high-five to Einzige and the Lippards for that post. Oh, and a shout out to Rockstar, who mentioned ass gnomes in his comment! Regular readers know that we've got a soft spot for ass gnomes. Just below the colon.
If you've got any comments on the parable, head on over to the original post on The Lippard Blog and post 'em there.
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[ Filed under: % Bullshit % Religion ]
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HBloom, 2005.11.02 (Wed) 08:58 [Link] »
Rockstar, 2005.11.02 (Wed) 09:55 [Link] »
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HBloom, 2005.11.03 (Thu) 08:51 [Link] »
HBloom, 2005.11.03 (Thu) 08:59 [Link] »
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Grendel, 2005.11.03 (Thu) 11:44 [Link] »
HBloom, 2005.11.03 (Thu) 12:22 [Link] »
The Two Percent Company, 2005.11.03 (Thu) 14:39 [Link] »
Fan-man, 2005.11.03 (Thu) 17:27 [Link] »
The Two Percent Company, 2005.11.03 (Thu) 23:57 [Link] »
HBloom, 2005.11.04 (Fri) 06:52 [Link] »
Rockstar, 2005.11.04 (Fri) 09:18 [Link] »
Fan-man, 2005.11.04 (Fri) 09:37 [Link] »
HBloom, 2005.11.04 (Fri) 11:13 [Link] »
Grendel, 2005.11.04 (Fri) 19:28 [Link] »
Eric Wallace, 2005.11.05 (Sat) 02:40 [Link] »
The Two Percent Company, 2005.11.05 (Sat) 13:12 [Link] »
Grendel, 2005.11.07 (Mon) 17:46 [Link] »
The Two Percent Company, 2005.11.16 (Wed) 13:54 [Link] »
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