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Essay
Bob of QF
I wrote this back in January, and was going over some bookmarks, and recalled it. Thought some might enjoy it.

---------------

Jan 19, 2011

A christian and an atheist are both riding a train, when in a horrific accident, the car is derailed, killing them both.

Oddly enough, they were the only two fatalities.

Even more oddly, the christian was partly right, and not only is there a god, but there appears to be an afterlife, too.

But both were surprised at what it turned out to be like.

A simple room, tastefully decorated with comfy chairs and couches around the room, with current magazines on the end tables, covering a wide range of reading material.

But oddly, no bibles, no quorans, no book of mormon. In fact? No "holy" books of any sort in the room.

There was one door at the end, closed.

Both men looked about, and at first a bit nervous, sat down to wait.

Neither felt the least bit uncomfortable, hungry, thirsty or in the slightest discomfort; both were wearing the clothes they died in, only without any tears, or blemishes.

After a time, an older gentleman came into the room, and sat down at the desk, near the door. The desk faced the rest of the room, where the couches and other stuff were.

Both men jumped to their feet expectantly.

Older man: "I have just a few questions, and we can get you both all sorted out."

The christian then immediately fell to his knees in an attitude of slave-like obescience. The atheist remained standing, and looked a bit sorry for the christian's obvious groveling.

Older man, to the christian: "Now, now, there's no need for any of that. It is unbecoming for a sentient being to grovel like that. Stand up man. Are you not self-aware?"

Whereupon the christian sheepishly gets to his feet, looking somewhat abashed. "sorry" he mumbles.

Older man: "No harm done, really. Now on to the questions."

Both the other men responded with "okay"

Older man: "Question one. Is there a god?"

Christian--butting in before the question was finished, "Certainly!" and grinned like an idiot.

Atheist, after a pause, "Probably not, although I must admit the odds are looking a bit better than I'd previously thought."

Older man, looking to each: "Good."

Older man: "Next question. Is there an afterlife."

Christian--again, butting in before the question was finished, "Certainly!" still grinning like an idiot.

Atheist, "well, it certainly appears that something like that is going on, doesn't it?"

Older man: "maybe. Next question. Is the bible a valid source of information?"

Ever the buttinsky, the christian once more spouts "Absolutely! One-hundred-percent flawless, perfect in every way!" And stands there with this big stupid grin on his face.

Older man, now turns to the christian: "Really. What makes you say that?"

Christian, somewhat taken aback at the older man's less than jovial attitude, "well, the Bible itself says so!"

Older man, "does it, now. Do you not find that strange?"

Christian, "what do you mean,'strange'?"

Older man, "do you not find it odd, that the only place in your world, that claims the bible is accurate, is the bible itself? And there is nothing corroborating that claim, in any way?"

Christian, "Well! There are miracles! Real miracles!"

Older man, "Really? Did you witness these, yourself?"

Christian, now confused, "Well, no... but my sister's cousin's aunt said >she< did."

Older man makes a note in his papers, in front of him. "Indeed" he says, and turns to the atheist who had remained quiet through all this. "What do you think?"

Atheist, "me? I've never witnessed any miracles, if that's your question. And although I've read the bible several times myself, I always found it to be a highly ambiguous set of conflicting ideas."

Christian interrupting, "It is not! You just don't understand it!"

Older man, to christian, "Now, now, let him speak-- you've given your opinion already."

Atheist, "What I meant, is that the bible seems to say one thing in one section, then take it back in another, then in still another, it says things that go against either of the first two. It seems too confused to have been written by a divine being. At least, not by one with any intelligence."

Older man, "I see. So you think that a book written by a real god, would be, what?"

Atheist, "I would expect a real god to use plain and clear language, not the confused mess that constitutes the Bible. I mean, what is more plain than 'try not to kill anyone today'? Why couldn't the bible simply have said that?"

Older man, "If you recall, it did strongly imply that very message, among many other things, of course."

Atheist, "Well, true, but why permit all the unnecessary junk? It just clouds the issue of it's divine origins."

Older man, "So you think that the evidence for the existence of god was less than convincing?"

Atheist, "Yes, exactly that: the reasons to believe in a god are simply not there. And look at the description of the Bible's god: jealous, revengeful, delighting at burnt offerings, needing blood before forgiving, torturing people in hell. That god is not worthy to be a god."

Older man, "Okay. What about other non-biblical reasons to believe in a god? Do you think there are any others?"

Atheist, "Not really. At one time, when humans were ignorant about things, like lightning, belief in gods and such may have helped then cope with the stress of simply living. But this is the 21st century, and we know what causes lightning-- in fact? We know how to avoid it; it's as if we've tamed it. But no, I see no real reason to believe in a god, in the universe at large."

Older man, "So you are certain there is none, then?"

Atheist, "Certain? Hardly-- this very room I'm in makes me pause, but certain? No. Good enough to live my life as if there were none? Yeah-- I just tried to be the best human I knew how. What else can be asked of a mortal, anyway?"

Older man, "What else, indeed. Okay. The questioning is over. You are both wrong, and you are both right. There is a god, but he is an incredibly rational and logical being, and does not suffer fools lightly. The bible is an intelligence test, deliberately created to be irrational and illogical. Anyone who believes it's real, is deemed unworthy, and will be sent back to earth, to try again."

"By the same token, the evidence against >all< deities, anywhere is unambiguous. Anyone who is certain that there are no gods or god-like beings, anywhere, anywhen? Are also deemed unworthy, and will be sent back to earth, to try again."

"The real test of rationality, is this: in the absence of information and hard facts, re: god? The only logical and rational conclusion you can make, is to not make any conclusion at all."

Older man, to the christian: "You have failed. You will be sent back, to try again."

Older man, to the atheist: "you passed. You may go through the door, and meet with god, who will be interested to see what you think of his latest project. Good job."
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
Theory_Execution
Meh, you missed the part where the atheist rushes in and plants a forehead firmly on the nose of this god.
 
catman
Bob of QF wrote:"By the same token, the evidence against >all< deities, anywhere is unambiguous. Anyone who is certain that there are no gods or god-like beings, anywhere, anywhen? Are also deemed unworthy, and will be sent back to earth, to try again."
(emphasis mine)
It seems to me that the word should have been 'ambiguous'. Otherwise, the passage is contradictory. If the evidence against all deities were unambiguous, then gnostic atheism would be the correct view.
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
Bob of QF
catman wrote:
Bob of QF wrote:"By the same token, the evidence against >all< deities, anywhere is unambiguous. Anyone who is certain that there are no gods or god-like beings, anywhere, anywhen? Are also deemed unworthy, and will be sent back to earth, to try again."
(emphasis mine)
It seems to me that the word should have been 'ambiguous'. Otherwise, the passage is contradictory. If the evidence against all deities were unambiguous, then gnostic atheism would be the correct view.


Evidence against...

Smile
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
catman
Yes, but...if the evidence against all deities is unambiguous, then it is conclusive. Therefore, gnostic atheism would be the correct view. Thus, there would be no rationale for sending such a person back to try again.
Edited by catman on 04/15/2011 02:22
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
seeker
The thing that keeps religion alive is that no one can really say with complete certainty that a deity can't exist in some form or other (ambiguous). Were we able to say that a deity can't exist based on evidence then gnostic atheism (not sure I like that term) would be the logical conclusion.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
 
Cynic
For what it's worth, this seems to be all about the validity of the answers, but the real problem is the validity of the questions. If you ask me if I can conclusively prove that any gods exist, my immediate response is "define that and I'll get back to you." Which is of course followed by crickets.

We all agree that it's silly to just pronounce a god to be real based on no evidence and that it's equally silly to pronounce that it cannot exist based upon no evidence. But that's not, in reality, a question we're ever faced with.

If you asked a random person, out of the blue, "What do you think -- does it exist or not?" they're going to blink at you at best and wonder what you're on about. They not going to venture a guess because they have no basis for guessing. And that's pretty much what questions about gods come down to, if one bothers to scrutinize the question at all.

In the presented scenario people are being sent back for failing to admit they don't know when what they've really done is fail to properly ignore the question.
Edited by Cynic on 04/15/2011 13:07
 
Bob of QF
Hunnh... my 2nd post was eaten by the Internet Monster...
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
Theory_Execution
Bob, im not sure I believe this internet monster of which you speak exists. Describe its attributes and I will decide then.
 
Bob of QF
Theory_Execution wrote:
Bob, im not sure I believe this internet monster of which you speak exists. Describe its attributes and I will decide then.


I had created a more detailed reply to the criticism, at length.

Then I posted it, and went elsewhere.

Imagine my surprise, upon return, to see it's vanished as if it never was... and what's worse? I do not remember the bulk of what I said-- I'd have to go back and re-read everything, which frankly, I'm too lazy to do.

Smile

Oh well-- it's all fluff and aether anyway, right?

Pfft
Quantum Junction: Use both lanes

Reality is that which is left, after you stop believing.
 
Theory_Execution
It conjours similar feelings, losing a well scribed post, as when you think of a cutting retort hours after an encounter.

Try as you might to claw back the feeling/content it will be a mere shadow of its former self.

Wouldn't it be awesome to control time, stop it, and rewind up to an hour.
 
catman
I'd like to rewind it about 45 years (except for the VietNam War)!Smile
"If I owned both Hell and Texas, I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas." - General Sheridan
 
Theory_Execution
Ha, there has to be limits tho Catman, and I opted for the hour to try and constrain the idea, but really either way you would end up micromanaging your life.
 
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