I'm not sure if it's clueless or masochistic . . . but on our forum there's some Christian guy challenging atheists and Christians to make belief videos and pit them against each other on YouTube. If he's never watched a Hitchens or Harris debate or if he's never debated against an atheist himself, then I guess he must be clueless. But if he has . . . then he must be a masochistic glutton for punishment.
I have no intention of making such a video -- at least not for this guy's challenge -- but I've got a "script" ready, if I ever change my mind. The following was posted to his forum topic, "I am Greatness Challenge":
Normal people don't go around proclaiming their greatness. That's a sure way to put a target on your back. I have to wonder what the heck you're thinking!
I'd make a video but I'm hideously ugly and have a snake protruding from my nose and mouth. So I'll just leave the following "script" instead. You can read the script on camera for me and post it to YouTube; with or without a snake protruding from your face.
First of all, I want to make clear that I'm not arguing that God does not exist -- I'm arguing that nobody knows anything whatsoever about the supernatural: and God is as supernatural as it gets. It is unreasonable for people to expect others to humor them while they speak knowingly of things they can't possibly know.
I want to distinguish between the natural realm and the realm of the supernatural (there seems to be a lot of confusion about the difference). The natural realm is our entire universe and everything in it, including Earth and life. The supernatural is, by definition, outside this realm: therefor there is NO evidence for it and NO contact with it. NO knowledge of it is possible.
I'm sure there will be some of you who will claim belief in the supernatural is based on holy scripture. Others will claim a personally transforming spiritual experience. There’s plenty of other explanations for faith but, as I’ll explain, scripture and spiritual experience are not valid reasons for supernatural belief.
Religions have an obvious, self-serving, purpose for recursive claims of divinely inspired scripture. But take a real look at your scripture (no matter which scripture you subscribe to). NONE of it hints at (much less reveals) divine inspiration. ALL of it is obviously written by scribes of the era and region of origin. All scripture reflect the limited knowledge, local customs, social structure and ancient ethics of their origins. Besides, if scripture is one's source of faith because it's divinely inspired, then one must presume God exists to inspire it in the first place. That's what I mean by "recursive claims of divinely inspired scripture": it's circular logic -- a self-contained, closed, system of belief.
Jealous, vengeful, god(s). Blood sacrifice. Ignorance of natural phenomena. Provincial enemies and concerns. Slavery and subjugation of women. Physically impossible claims and stories. Are these the traits of a timeless God . . . or of ancient, ignorant people of specific geographic regions?
As for anecdotal conversion stories of spiritual experience -- they're NOT evidence. To skeptics, they're not even emotionally compelling. The brain's God Module (Google "brain God Module" for details), or similar neurological feature, easily explains these transcendent experiences. It's interesting to note that those who observe the "spiritual experiences" of others, often describe them as "mental breakdowns". It's also interesting to note that spiritual experiences often occur during personally stressful or traumatic periods (i.e. “I hit rock bottom”). Additionally, there’s the intriguing case of temporal lobe epileptics who are prone to "hyper-religiosity". And, finally, mental institutions around the world are packed with people suffering from spiritual and/or religious delusions. With these facts in mind, labeling yourself as a born again Christian (i.e. converted via spiritual experience) might be construed as an admission of mental instability or weakness (due to a sensitive God Module or other neurological anomaly).
All this just reinforces the FACT that NOBODY knows anything about the supernatural (God, Satan, heaven, hell, leprechauns, etc.). Never have. Never will. Anybody who claims otherwise is lying or delusional. Any such claim is an insult to intelligence. Period.
I’m not naïve enough to think that I’ll change minds instantly or alone. But I do believe that all the atheist rationale you're exposed to will eventually have a cumulative effect. Once exposed to our ideas, they’re in your brain and you can't exorcise them. Whether they reside at a conscious or subconscious level, they’re there.
Hopefully, you’ll one day realize that your faith is exactly that: faith. Nothing more, nothing less. If that day ever comes, you’ll no longer concern me because you'll no longer claim objective reasons for faith. It will just be something you choose for subjective, personal, reasons.
If only believers would admit that their faith has no objective, logical, explanation – that it’s simply a matter of personal preference – then fundamentalism would evaporate. Religious extremism would quickly die out and there would be nothing (religious) to fight about.
A world without religious fanatics and violence . . . wouldn’t that be nice?