Guided Misconceptions

I was stumbling around Facebook the other day when I came across a link from one of my friends. It was a clip telling a story about someone in America who had to attend a class run by his atheist professor. If you dont feel like watching the clip, the basic overview of the story is; the poor guy was scared of being made a to look like an idiot in front of the class as (for some ridiculous reason) this professor at the end of every year attempted to ridicule and demean his students faith of choice (however, in this instance we are talking mainstream western religion). Long story short, the guy stood up for his beliefs and the professor was made a fool of during his ‘Ill Prove God Doesnt Exist’ demonstration with his chalk not breaking as he expected.

The title of the clip is ‘This Should Keep Us All Thinking’. And it did keep me thinking, however not in the way that the author would have intended. I was so deep in thought at one point that I missed the Reid Highway exit on the Mitchell Freeway, haha. In the end, after talking about it with Fran I came to realise what was bothering me about the clip…


Now Im not anti-christian, nor am I anti-atheist but the entire clip really bugged me… and Im talking about both sides, the atheist professor elements of the story as well as the christian (or more to the point the author of the clip) side to this tale.

Firstly, this professor. Why did he feel the need to demonstrate is obviously ‘superior’ (note: Inject as much sarcasm as humanly possible into that word) intellect by saying (paraphrase) ‘Wow, look God definitely doesnt exist if this chalk doesnt break when I drop it’. This is what I like to call ‘Stupid Atheism’.

Stupid Atheism is when an atheist uses supposed logic to prove God doesnt exist, in a situation where the laws of nature are obviously not going to work in the favour of the God Scenario (ie. the chalk staying intact). Ignoring the fact that chalk is brittle and thin and there are times where a simple flick can break chalk, the simple force of gravity forcing the chalk to hit the floor at a certain angle/level of force is going to make it break… To prove/disprove God based off this flawed argument is the very oppositeof what these atheists think they are trying to do… And it bugs me. Greatly.

Conversely, the christian side of this tale is just as open to debate as the atheist side. I hesitate to call it ‘Stupid Christianity’ because faith by its very nature is illogical, so technically christians are acting as expected (note: Im not implying they are acting stupid, but acting how their faith dictates they should, whereas atheists are supposed to be using logic in their arguments and faith/religion doesnt always follow logic). In any case, basing their argument (in this specific situation) off the fact that the professor happened to drop the chalk and it stays intact, is just as flawed as the professor feeling fully justified in saying God doesnt exist when the chalk doesnt stay intact. Statistically speaking at some point the chalk will stay intact, similar to how when you drop a plate on the floor sometimes it doesnt break. Thats just the way it goes…

These are what I call Guided Misconceptions; Manipulating people into accepting certain situations based off flawed arguments.

In addition to this, the tone in which this video is (to my ears) very smug, and self-satisfied. It feels like in sharing this video the author is patting himself/herself on the back thinking: See how right I am in sharing this video, everyone can a) see my faith and b) surely understand that because this video covers a coincidence its watertight proof of God!

Ive come to the conclusion that true faith is very much a personal thing and it needs to come from the person, rather than outside influences. To try and base it (or even be persuaded) off a clip off YouTube relating a supposed story from somewhere in America is highly flawed in the least. In a situation like that, when the faith is truly tested its probably going to fall down like a house of cards. If thats what the author intended with sharing this story, then Im not sure if they truly understand what faith is, how it comes about and what it represents to the person. Even worse, passing this video around with the general feel of ‘look how right I am’ further detracts from what the author is trying to accomplish. I understand that the video is trying to say that faith is rewarded, but what about a video that encourages research and true understanding about what religion and faith are and how they can help you in life (or alternatively deciding which faiths are simply not for you).

This isnt limited to the western faith either, I think that its best to research all avenues of faith and decide which is best for you. Recently the Eastern faiths and philosophies have started to appeal to me, so I think Ill start delving into the world of Taoism and Buddhism.

Im not sure what category I fall under when people say ‘what do you believe in?’. I tend to think people find their own path towards God, and each way is different. And it most certainly is not a case of who is right and who is wrong, nor someone saying ‘I am right, and you are wrong’. Understanding affects people in different ways, and I wish both hard-line christians and athiests would get this and just stop constantly trying to one-up the other.

I think my beliefs are cherry-picked from each of the faiths (Western and Eastern). There are some issues with Western faiths that I simply cant resolve (due to my somewhat scientific upbringing), and I dont know enough about the Eastern religions, hence my hesitance to say ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that’.

I dont want people to get the wrong idea with this entry. I am nottrying to bash one faith or the other (although I do have issues with Christianity, but thats an entry for another day), I am simply highlighting the deficiencies of the arguments for/against God by atheists and christians and trying to encourage people to research and truly understandwhat it is they are doing (this goes for both people of faith and atheists) before shooting off their mouth (or in this digital age, their keyboard).

I love talking about religion, to the point where I could talk about it with random strangers for hours (and actually have on several occasions), so if you have a different opinion and want to talk about it, by all means leave a comment in the comments section and we’ll start up a discussion, I welcome all opinions and comments 🙂

Note: this is a discussion not a mud-slinging match, any derogatory comments to any faith will be censored mercilessly.

Night all 🙂


One Response to Guided Misconceptions

  1. Kirsty says:

    Nice blog Adam!!! Honestly, when you told me about this blog I expected something different. I totally agree with you. (did you expect that after our other discussions lol??? I didnt!) I grew up in a country divided by religion (Protestant and Catholic) and demonstrated through football, of all things. In Glasgow, Rangers FC is the Protestant football club, and Celtic FC is the Catholic club. It isnt’t about religion any more, so much as violence for the sake of it. I cannot tell you how bad it is – on days when the two teams play each other, you wouldn’t leave the house if you were wise, and you wouldn’t use the subway at all. Tens of thousands of extra police are brought in to all over the city. One day I went to visit a friend who lived in a Catholic part of Glasgow, and I got to their street and it was all cordoned off with police tape. Blood all up the street, all over the parked cars. A man had walked through he street with a blue shirt on (meaning he was a Rangers fan) and was stabbed, beaten, and tabbed some more all the way along the street as he tried to get away from a mob of people. The violence was not about religion or football, but both religion and football fuelled it. I cannot tell you how horrendous the sight was. There are plenty of fans out there who just love the game – was he one of them? Did he think of football or his family in his last minutes? Was it worthy dying to wear a football jersey? Should he have had to (of course not – but believe it or not that is a valid question in my country)?
    All these questions stuck with me for along time. Actually they are still sticking with me.

    I also grew up in the Deep South of the USA – in Florida. There, religion is king and it is really NOT okay to callenge God or Government. As long as the Government is conservative and pro-gun. For very witty discourse on this, see Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson’s comments – don’t let anti-goth/ rock prejudice stop you, Marilyn Manson and Trent Reznor are brilliant individuals and have very interesting insights into American culture. Marilyn Manson in particular has been on the pointy end of American, fear mongering, anti-indiviualist media.

    The ancient Scottish pagan culture was baiscally totally wiped out by the Christian invaders. The Romans at least allowed local cultures to maintain theor own religious beliefs as long as they also worshipped the Roman Gods. The Christians just murdered anyone who refused to co-operate. A millenia of knowledge on earth cultures, religion, and medicine was lost.

    So anyway, for a very long time I had nothing positive to say about organised religion. It has long been a facility for the privilleged to excercise unreasonable power over the less prvilleged. That said, since I started to work in the human services, I have seen some of the good in it. More people than you would imagine rely on the basic provision of food and overnight shelter which (largely Christian) charities. My maternal Grandfather died of tuberculosis after a life on the streets of Glasgow and London, but my mother told me recently that he often said the Salvation Army literally saved him from freezing an starving to death many times.

    I guess it is like you said, everything depends on the individual, and when it comes to religion you really can’t be more general than that. I love the Kevin Smith movie Dogma – if you haven’t seen it I know you will LOVE it. They say, it is better to have ideas than beliefs. People die for beliefs, but an idea can be considered and changed. I like having ideas rather than beliefs.

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