Thursday, 6 January 2011

Responding to an atheist's provocation: I don't know how yet.

I saw a provocative slogan on the Richard Dawkins Foundation website.

I don't think a campaign with this slogan actually went live, but I'm not sure.

Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.

I didn't like it from the start. That other slogan, "There's probably no God, now stop worrying, and enjoy your life" was at least honest. This slogan plays on the common confusion among people about correlation and causality. See: and try to understand this cartoon.

Anyway, I thought about how I could best respond to this kind of slogan, and I am still thinking.
I thought of a couple of options so far:
1) Ignore it. Dismiss it. Avoid the confrontation.
This was my first reaction.
Obviously this is an intentionally written to be provocative. A friend from work told me it's a hyperbole. So how should I respond to a hyperbole? One option is ignoring it. They are attacking at their own time of choosing, with their own choice of words and medium. So? I could try to choose my own time, medium, words, whatever to present a case for Christianity against atheism or other world views.
This could be useful if I feel that I'm not ready to take on the particular provocation. I must learn to rest knowing that God's truth will remain even if I do not defend it. It is His truth that defends me on the last day, not the other way around, ultimately speaking.
2) But then, if I actually met someone who asked me about it personally, I'd probably ask him a few things and depending on that I might respond to him in a few different ways.
What would I ask?
One thing I would ask is this: What do you mean by religion? Define religion for me. Chances are, Christianity won't fit into your definition of religion. Or, your definition of religion will actually include the atheism, or it might even expose that you have a religion of your own called science. Ok, I'm not saying just because you trust science, you take science religiously. However, I know several people who do take their trust in science to the point where it can only described as a religion.

What other ways would you respond to it?

(Photo source: The Richard Dawkins Foundation)


Dave Miers said...

not really sure what i'd say. but good post. :)

Anonymous said...

Science flies to the moon
Science can rain nuclear warheads

Science gives us biological weapons
Christians build hospitals

Science gives us B-52s to rain down bombs.

Christians fly aid into impoverished places.

Science is amoral. I would like to ask Dawkins about the atheistic Soviet Unions murdering of 20 million of its own people. I would like to ask him atheist Pol Pot. Not saying he is immoral, but Dawkins and his fellow travelers have no philosophical grounds to make moral judgments about the actions of creature who arrived on the scene by random mutation and natural selection.

Timothy Wonil Lee said...

@Ron: Those punch lines are kind of things that were floating around in my head as well. But you made it clearer by saying science is amoral.
I also thought about using an analogy to those NRA slogans such as "Guns don't kill people. People kill people" or "Guns save lives" in order to point out there's a deeper problem with people then science or religion we often point our finger at. But I didn't think it would be wise to employ those NRA slogans. :-D