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June 28, 2011


Response to “Letter to a Freethinker” from an Atheist

by juju2112

J.W. Wartick posted an open letter to freethinkers recently. Even though I label myself as an atheist and I’ve posted before how I despise the term “freethinker”, I thought I’d respond anyway.

Dear Free Thinker,

What does it mean to think freely?

Does it mean I must be an atheist?

I’ve gotten different answers on this, but usually I’m told you can’t be religious and be a free thinker. The idea is that “freethinkers” are supposed to base their beliefs on reason. People who believe in God don’t usually rely on reason. They lean on faith.

If you’re a believer in God because of reason and evidence, however, then you would be a freethinker.

Reason and evidence aren’t enough to get to the truth, though. That’s just the best strategy we have available. It’s also necessary to have a good working knowledge of how people can be tricked into believing things that aren’t true. There are several common mechanisms in which this commonly takes place, confirmation bias being one of them. These flaws in human perception can fool even a reasonable person. The scientific method is the best way to bypass these flaws.

You tell me there is no evidence for the existence of God.

You say that there is more evidence for unicorns than the object of my worship.

I don’t know that I’ve seen evidence for unicorns, but it’s at least plausible. They are pretty close to horses, which do exist. It’s only the horn we have lacking, and it would be easy for natural selection to make it happen. It just doesn’t seem to be the case that it has.

An all-powerful God, though? There is no evidence. The only “evidence” that’s ever cited is riddled with confirmation bias or arguments from ignorance.

You tell me that I’m an atheist too.

Why do you say “we’re all atheists” when I believe in God?

I believe the idea is that if you don’t believe in Thor but you do believe in God, then you are an atheist with respect to Thor but a theist with respect to God. It’s an attempt to get theists to understand that they require evidence for everything in life except God.

You tell me “That’s just your interpretation”; “You’re wrong”; “I’m right.”

I reject science, according to you. I don’t know how to open my eyes. I’m blind, foolish, and stubborn.

You say that I’m delusional, and that my belief is a disease.

Yep! Now you’re getting it. I shouldn’t be snide, though. I don’t follow your blog closely enough to accuse you of anything.

I have a final question:

Am I allowed to think freely…

Or is it just you?

Ah, one of the reasons I dislike that term so much. I tried to tell my friends that it’s an insulting term, but they said “tough”. I prefer to just tell you you’re wrong. I don’t need creative euphemisms for that.


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4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Joshua Skains
    Aug 14 2011

    You rely on faith that Scienc isn’t lying to you. You rely on faith that there are no conspiracies or intentional manipulations of outcomes to control a people or turn them against a God. You rely on faith that you aren’t in your own Truman Show. You rely on faith that you aren’t in the Matrix. You can’t disprove these ideas. You can’t disprove you are not alone and we are all figments of your imagination.

  2. Aug 14 2011

    Faith is believing in something despite lack of evidence.

    When we say science, we are really talking about the scientific method, the scientific method has tons evidence that it is the best way to find out about the world we live in. The computer you used to comment is a result of thousands of technological inventions, made possible by millions (or more) of discoveries, made possible by the scientific method.

    I can’t argue against all conspiracies without specifics, but we don’t believe in conspiracies without adequate evidence.

    As far as the Matrix, Truman show, (also known as the brain in a vat hypothesis). You are right we have no idea if that were the case, we have no evidence to believe such a theory, so we must live our life as if we have free will, and the scientific method has still been proven to be the best way to find out about the world, even if it is only a fabrication of ones own mind.

  3. Aug 14 2011

    “You rely on faith that Scienc [sic] isn’t lying to you.”

    Science isn’t a thing that lies. To lie implies some sort of intent. Science is a method used to get an unbiased result. Science isn’t always right about everything, but when it is proven wrong on a particular subject it is self-correcting. As far as I can tell, religious leader do lie (with intent) and religion is very, very slow at self correction and never updates.

    “You rely on faith that there are no conspiracies or intentional manipulations of outcomes to control a people or turn them against a God.”

    WARNING! Sarcastic response below!
    You’re right! Religious leaders never take part in conspiracies. Religious leaders never intentionally manipulate outcomes to control people. I’m accepting Christ right now! What part of my dingy do I have to chop off again?

    “You rely on faith that you aren’t in your own Truman Show. You rely on faith that you aren’t in the Matrix. You can’t disprove these ideas. You can’t disprove you are not alone and we are all figments of your imagination.”

    Nope, I can’t. Because, such a thing is unfalsifiable. As such, I assume that it is not the case and live my live like I am one of billions of humans that share this planet.

  4. Nikk Fors
    Aug 15 2011

    Your first argument is to imply that science may be lying to us. Science is a methodology for acquiring information and validating it. Scientists use the scientific method to form their theories and then publish them. At this point they are under review from all the other scientists in that field from all over the world who will work to validate or disprove this theory. This is an ongoing review that is never closed. They may learn through further study a hundred years later that the theory was flawed. This is part of the process where we continue to seek more information and question the information we currently have.

    You bring up ridiculous examples from movies to try to prove how futile it is to search for the ultimate truth. These “theories” are as baseless, and therefore impossible to disprove as religion. When an idea is entertained completely outside of the realm of scientific study, it is necessarily classified as fiction. Just because science is an ongoing process that does not yield all the answers at once, you would have us give up and fall back on the comforts of these fictions. This is laziness. Science has not, nor is it likely to answer all the questions of the universe. The more discoveries we make, the more questions we raise. The universe is infinite, and there will always be more to discover. I choose to celebrate these discoveries and revel in the wonder of this infinite universe we inhabit rather than try to seek some small comfort in the unbased fictions of religion.


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