The "You've Got To Be Kidding Me" God
There are some arguments that get so old, but they just won't go away. I don't know how many times I have been told that I have a god, and that my god is probably science. This argument is so wrong that it is insulting: it is insulting to me, it is insulting to them, and it is insulting to their god.
It often starts out something like this:
They say, "Everyone has a god, yours is just science."
And I say, "I don't have a god. Science is just a process of getting to the truth."
They say, "Whatever is most important to you in your life is your god."
I say, "That just defines away every form of atheism and agnosticism. We should agree on what a god is first."
They say, "OK."
I say, "I see gods as supernatural beings, incredibly powerful, and capable of affecting the material world."
They say, "That's it."
I say, "Science is nothing like that."
They say, "I thought we were talking about my god."
I say, "If that is the definition of your god, I will accept it."
They say, "But that's not your god. Your god is whatever you put first in your life."
I laugh, and say, "That's like saying rainbows are just like watermelons except one of them is fruit."
They say, "You don't understand."
Ah, but I think I do understand. I just think that they are wrong.
Let's change the object of the discussion a little bit to make it more clear.
They say, "Everyone has a favorite magazine."
I say, "I don't have a favorite magazine. I don't like magazines."
They say, "Sure you do. Whatever magazine you keep in your bathroom is your favorite magazine."
I say, "First let's determine what we are calling a magazine. It is a periodical publication. It contains articles and illustrations. It typically covers a particular subject or area of interest."
They say, "That's it. That's what a magazine is."
I say, "I don't have any magazines in my bathroom."
They say, "Then what do you keep in your bathroom?"
I say, "All I keep in my bathroom is a plunger."
They say, "Then that plunger is your favorite magazine."
It is the nonsense that religious people believe that make discussions difficult. They can't seem to see past the blinders that they have placed on themselves. They insist that everything has to fit into a framework that they provide. Regardless of how many times they insist they are the same, a plunger just isn't the same thing as a magazine any more than the most important thing in your life has to be a god.