The Atheist Test

I don’t really have a reason, but I’m going to answer the questions from Ray Comfort’s “Atheist Test” anyway. I will not just give the multiple choice responses provided, however, but respond to any flawed reasoning I see as well. Otherwise, this wouldn’t be very interesting, right?

Billions of years ago, a big bang produced a large rock. As the rock cooled, sweet brown liquid formed on its surface. As time passed, aluminum formed itself into a can, a lid, and a tab. Millions of years later, red and white paint fell from the sky, and formed itself into the words “Coca Cola 12 fluid ounces.”

Of course, my theory is an insult to your intellect, because you know that if the Coca Cola can is made, there must be a maker. If it is designed, there must be a designer. The alternative, that it happened by chance or accident, is to move into an intellectual free zone.

The problem with the theory is not that “you know that if the Coca Cola can is made, there must be a maker”. The insult to my intellect is that I am aware that Coca Cola cans have makers. I could, if I wanted to, tour a factory and observe the entire process. I know a Coca Cola can is made because I know it has a maker; I don’t know it has a maker because it is made.

To say that the banana happened by accident is even more unintelligent than to say that no one designed the Coca Cola can.

Not “more unintelligent”, but unintelligent nonetheless, because humans made the banana as we know it, too. The wild banana looks frankly gross; it is green and full of huge seeds, and is almost nothing like the “human-friendly designed” banana Ray describes. However, under creationism, that is the banana “god” designed, so the argument falls pretty flat.

Another criticism of the banana as an example of intelligent design is that coconuts exist. If the banana is to be taken as evidence the world is designed for humans, we must take asparagus berries, which are poisonous, and coconuts, which are very difficult to consume, as evidence the world is NOT designed for humans.

The person who thinks the Coca Cola can had no designer is:
___ A. Intelligent
___ B. A fool
___ C. Has an ulterior motive for denying the obvious

My answer is closest to B, because that person is ignorant of the fact that we know humans made Coca Cola cans.

If man cannot begin to make a human eye, how could anyone in his right mind think that eyes formed by mere chance?

Because we can show that eyes could have developed very slowly as a process of natural selection. Even rudimentary ability to tell light from darkness would be more beneficial than mere blindness, so it is reasonable to think eyes could have evolved.

A. Do you know of any building that didn’t have a builder?
___ YES  ___ NO
B. Do you know of any painting that didn’t have a painter?
___ YES  ___ NO
C. Do you know of any car that didn’t have a maker?
___ YES  ___ NO
If you answered “YES” for any of the above, give details:

A. No, I know humans build buildings, so I assume every building has a human builder.

B. No, I know humans paint paintings, so I assume every painting has a human (or sometimes an animal) as the cause.

C. No, I know humans make cars, so I assume every car has a human who made it (or a robot, sometimes).

Again, the flaw here is that these are examples of things we know are made. We don’t assume they “evolved” because we know their history and how humans invented them. We don’t have a standard for the difference between what is designed and what merely appears designed, and because of evolution, we know things can appear designed from natural processes. Further, because of slim molds, we knows designs can be made by unintelligent beings.

Could I convince you that I dropped 50 oranges onto the ground and they by chance fell into ten rows of five oranges? The logical conclusion is that someone with an intelligent mind put them there. The odds that ten oranges would fall by accident into a straight line are mind-boggling, let alone ten rows of five.

The odds are pretty high, but that means nothing. The odds of a royal flush are ridiculous, but they happen in poker games all the time.

A. From the atom to the universe, is there order?
___ YES  ___ NO
B. Did it happen by accident?
___ YES  ___ NO
C. Or, must there have been an intelligent mind?
___ YES  ___ NO
D. What are the chances of 50 oranges falling by chance
into ten rows of five oranges? ______________________

If you answered “YES” for any of the above, give details:

A. Ish? There appears to be, so far, otherwise we could not do any science. However, in some sense, there also isn’t order, because of quantum mechanics, which I don’t understand and neither do you.

B. Depends on what you mean by “accident”, really. Could the physical laws, that is, the observations of how the universe works that agree so far, be different than they are? I don’t know, because I’m not a cosmologist. What caused the appearance of order in the universe? I don’t know, and neither do you.

C. Not as far as I know. Hypothesizing an intelligent mind based on the appearance of order alone is not enough; we could just as easily hypothesize an unintelligent mind or another, eternal universe. All three fit just as well with the available evidence.

D. Again, pretty high, but that’s irrelevant. A more relevant question, if you insist on talking about the odds, is what are the odds of shuffling a deck of cards and pulling out a King, Queen, Jack, Ten, and Ace of Clubs in that order. Sure, they are high, but it is not impossible.

The declaration “There is no God” is what is known as an absolute statement. For an absolute statement to be true, I must have absolute knowledge.

Here is another absolute statement: “There is no gold in China.”

What do I need to have for that statement to be true?
A. No knowledge of China.
___ YES  ___ NO
B. Partial knowledge of China.
___ YES  ___ NO
C. Absolute knowledge of China.
___ YES  ___ NO

The declaration “There is no God” is an accurate way of phrasing the null hypothesis, which means it is reasonable to hold until there is evidence to the contrary. Further, a statement can be true irrelevant of your level of knowledge. Either god exists or he does not, and if there is no god, it is true to say there is no god, even if it is a position you have not personally justified. Likewise, if a god does exist, it is true to say “God does exist” even if you have not justified that position, which you haven’t. Not only that, but “There is this God” is just as absolute a statement, so Ray by his own logic needs to have complete knowledge before it can be true, and he doesn’t.

This question is irrelevant. A better question is what knowledge one needs to have to be justified in accepting the statement “There is no gold in China.” The answer to that question is, none. It is perfectly reasonable to accept that there is not gold in China until someone shows evidence that there is, even if you have no familiarity with the country. However, it becomes unreasonable to hold onto that null hypothesis the minute someone takes you to China and shows you gold there.

Let’s say that this circle represents all the knowledge in the entire universe, and let’s assume that you have an incredible 1% of all that knowledge. Is it possible, that in the knowledge you haven’t yet come across, there is ample evidence to prove that God does indeed exist?

If you are reasonable, you will have to say, “Having the limited knowledge that I have at present, I believe that there is no God.” In other words, you don’t know if God exists, so you are not an “atheist,” you are what is commonly known as an “agnostic.” You are like a man who looks at a building, and doesn’t know if there was a builder.

This is nothing more than a God of the Gaps Argument, looking for god in the gaps of our knowledge. It is entirely possible that there is ample evidence for some sort of god in the knowledge I don’t have, but it is certainly not the Christian god. Why? Because the knowledge that I do have is contrary to Christianity. Even if there is a god in the gaps of my knowledge, that god would almost certainly have nothing to do with this world and is therefore hardly worth thinking about.

I don’t claim to know for sure no god exists, but until evidence is presented to the contrary, I am perfectly justified in holding to the null hypothesis and calling myself an atheist. Because I understand that there is room for changing that hypothesis should new evidence be presented, I use the phrase “agnostic atheist” to describe myself sometimes.

Further, the analogy of looking at a building and not knowing whether there was a builder is irrelevant, but I’ll play anyway.

The man who sees a building and doesn’t know if there was a builder is:
___ A. Intelligent
___ B. A fool
___ C. Has an ulterior motive for denying the obvious

Again, my answer is closest to B, because we know buildings are built by humans. A person who had never seen a building before could be perfectly justified in wondering how a house sprang up in the middle of his woods, but most of us have seen buildings being built. It is not that we see buildings and say, “Look how well designed for human habitation these are! I bet they were built!” Rather, we see that every building that we look into how it came to be was built and therefore the ones we don’t look into were, too.

Also, pointing to buildings actually undermines Ray’s argument, because if the world were really designed for humans, we would not have needed to work so hard to design a way to inhabit it without dying. If we lived on a world designed for us, we should need neither roofs nor air conditioning nor walls nor heating to survive here.

Perhaps you have questions that hold you back from faith. First, almost every question you have about suffering humanity etc., can be adequately answered.

Source, please. Every answer I’ve seen has been inadequate and/or unsatisfactory.

Second, we have faith in plenty of things we don’t understand. Did you understand the mechanics of television before you turned it on? Probably not. You took a step of faith, turned it on, and after it worked, understanding how it worked wasn’t that important. We accept that there are unseen television waves right in front of our eyes. We can’t see them because they are invisible. For them to manifest, we need a receiver, then we can enjoy the experience of television.

Personally, I’m at least 99% sure I observed a working television before I ever turned one on, making the action not a step of faith but an acceptance of the observed trend. I further was still interested in how it works; I remember reading about the topic, although I don’t remember all of the specifics. Therefore, the only “faith” I have is that induction works, because it has every time so far, which is still induction. This is, again, a completely reasonable position, and we all must accept it in order to function in this world. As Einstein allegedly said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.”

God is not flesh and blood.

Except when he had magic sex with a virgin so he could be born so he could sacrifice himself to himself to save us from what he wanted to do to us for being how he made us, right?

He is an eternal Spirit-immortal and invisible. Like the television waves, He cannot be experienced until the “receiver” is switched on. Here is something you will find hard to believe: Jesus said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21).

You’re right, I do find that hard to believe, because I spent two decades doing my best to love Jesus and then he disappeared in a puff of logic, rather rudely, when I learned more about the world.

Either that is true or it isn’t. Jesus Christ says that He will manifest Himself to anyone who obeys Him. Approach the subject the same way you approached your first television set. Just take a small step of faith. If it works, enjoy it, if it doesn’t, forget it.

I did try that. It didn’t work. So I’ll forget it, since you, Ray Comfort, have told me to.

Everybody, Ray Comfort says I can forget about Christianity!

Or have you an ulterior motive? Could it be that the “atheist” can’t find God, for the same reason a thief can’t find a policeman? Could it be that your love for sin is clouding your good judgment? If the Bible is true, and Jesus Christ has “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel,” then you owe it to yourself just to check it out. God will never let you down. Thank you for taking the time to read this booklet.

Fuck you for wasting my time with this booklet, and implying that I am lying about my motivations and history. I worked harder to find god than I have worked at anything, and he is still silent. The only logical conclusion is that he is not loving or not there.

One thought on “The Atheist Test

  1. Could it be that God seems silent because of the hardness of your heart (your “f–k you” comment doesn’t convince me your heart is soft), and that He has given you the opportunity to believe in Him based on the evidence all around us of creation? Your argument that a building doesn’t prove a designer because we know if was built by someone. If there is no God, and all is just material, then what is a building anyone and what are you anyway more than a bunch of molecules. How can you even know your reasoning is sound and that you even exist. You believe these things because you do exist, you were created by a Creator, and you know a building was built not just because you know how or who, but because of the order and design you see. You are willfully rejecting the evidence for God, and He is still longing for you you to trust In Him. Psalm 19

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