What do you think of my answer to this "theist anthem"?

Like everyone else on the web, I get endless inspiring and funny videos emailed to me by well-meaning friends. But when I received this one from a lady I know http://www.andiesisle.com/creation/magnificent.html I decided that it was time to express the atheist viewpoint. Basically, the video shows a lot of pretty scenes and the song that accompanies it says there must be a God since there is so much beauty in the world. So this is my answer to this woman. Any comments?

Dear ______. Thank you very much. This is indeed a beautiful video, and I do appreciate receiving it.

However, since this is a free country and anyone, even the despised atheists, can express their viewpoint, I have to say that the theist argument that the singer makes really does not stand up to logical scrutiny. His argument seems to be that God must exist because there are beautiful things in the world.

I completely agree that beauty and wonder exist. I see them every day, and I appreciate them every day.

But what this song and its video have done is to cherry-pick a few beautiful scenes, string them together, and create the illusion that we are surrounded by beauty and goodness. Therefore, he argues, God must exist.

In the first place, beauty and goodness are relative terms. I have no evidence that my cat would find a waterfall beautiful. In the country, I have gone out in the early morning with my cats to watch the sun rise over the lake. While I am filled with the beauty of the spectacle, I see no evidence that they are in any way interested in it. They simply take advantage of the light to hunt for mice.

Which brings me to another point. If things that are good and beautiful (in human eyes) prove that a God exists, what are we to conclude about all the things that are not? My cat catches and eats a mouse as I am watching the sunrise. For my cat, I am sure this is a “good thing”. The mouse is a nursing mother with a litter of young, who are now going to starve to death somewhere in their burrow. As a human being I have compassion, and I would like to find the litter and give the young mice a quick, merciful death, but I have no idea where they are on the property.

The video shows beautiful forests, landscapes and oceans. But even as these scenes are being shot, there are people dying of horrible, painful diseases. Women are having their noses cut off or acid thrown in their faces in many third world countries. People are starving in east Africa because of droughts.There are earthquakes like the one that hit Haiti where thousands of innocent people are killed or injured. Some of these horrors are caused by humans (often acting in the name of religion) and some are so-called “acts of God”.

I could string together a whole video of all these “acts of God” and write a song about how this proves that there is no God, but guess what? The existence of both beauty and ugliness, pain and pleasure in our world prove nothing about the existence of God. Luckily, it is not up to atheists to prove God does not exist. It is up to theists to prove that there is a God. And this video full of selected scenes simply does not prove that.

Kind of rambling and weak. How about:

“If I were to forward you a video full of ugly and disturbing scenes you would not see it as proof there is no God. In a similar manner, while the scenes in your video are beautiful they do not affect in the slightest my belief that the world came about through natural means that are consistent with the laws of physics. I am sure that you mean well, and to repay your kindness I will forward on any emails I receive that throw doubt on the existence of God”.

I clicked on the link, but the video was taking so long to load that I didn’t want to wait around to watch it given the speed of my internet connection. So I don’t know what it said. But I wonder if you may not be making a category error, thinking of it as a logical argument for theism when it isn’t that at all—as if you responded to a love song by saying “I have to say that your argument that I am worthy of love does not stand up to logical scrutiny.”

Sorry you did not get to see the video but two sample lines from the song will suffice: “How can I say there is no God when all around Creation calls?”.There are also references to “Your” (note the upper case “Y”) voice calling me in the wind and “Your” tears in the rain.

The suggestion that all of this proves that a God must exist is inescapable. Logical argument, no. Argument, yes!

This is not the same as a love song. Being lovable is a highly subjective matter in the eyes of the beholder. My response that I am not lovable would be equally a subjective judgment.

Here the singer is inviting us to infer from the real existence of sights and phenomena which our subjective tastes register as “beautiful” that his invisible friend in the sky is an actual reality.

If the wind is God speaking our name, why does God sometimes speak so loudly as to cause hurricanes that kill and destroy?

Needs more cowbell.

Please tell me it talks about rainbows. Pleasepleasepleaseplease.

It’s proof of God smiling. Upside down.

Well, I can tell you that a nuclear explosion is one of the prettiest sights there is if you observe it from a distance. Also, that when a car drips oil on the street, polluting the environment, the oil forms beautiful rainbow colours in the puddles. When I was a kid, I was told that the pretty colours were God’s blood. I was told this by other kids, NOT adult clergy, admittedly. Why God bled in puddles was never explained.:smiley:

Divine rivalry. Those rain gods can be surprisingly vicious. I mean, Tlaloc is an Aztec god and you know how they are. He probably shanked Jehovah with an obsidian knife when Jehovah was busy smiting somebody.

This is your Achilles heel. You’re assuming the other person is concerned with logical scrutiny, yet most people are not. The likely response to you would be “Oh, that’s just logic” or “God moves in mysterious ways.” People who have chosen ideas that are not backed up by logic are not swayed by logical arguments.

What is your goal here?

I don’t think you really expect her to be swayed, like a Jack Chick character who just heard about Jesus, by your email. I doubt you really think you are going to change her fundamental beliefs.

So what is left? One goal might be to stop her from sending you these things. A line or two would work for that. “Hey, thanks for the pretty pics, but I’m an atheist, so the message is kind of lost on me. I like your forwards, but let’s keep them secular. Did you see this one of a cute owl?”

Anything more is just going to be a waste of typing.

It would seem the song is accurate…towards the end (during the pandas) he sings, “I believe…just like a child.”

With the time lapse photography, you can see the forces of nature in action and I appreciate that people have studied the phenomena and are able to describe and predict he processes displayed (weather, flowers, erosion, tectonics, etc).

The world is magnificent…and science rocks!
BTW, your response will likely prompt her to send you this from her website. (There must be a reason that I don’t understand but I still beleive).

If you showed your cat a college textbook covering calculus (or chemistry or economics or sociology or any other topic) your cat would likely show no interest in it, except perhaps as a scratching post. Does that prove anything about whether or not there is actual meaning in those textbooks?

But the books on Chemistry or Sociology do not prove the existence of a God either.

What I’m pointing out is that you said “In the first place, beauty and goodness are relative terms” and offered your cats’ lack of reaction to a scene as evidence. If we accept that argument, then it would also imply that anything which causes cats to react differently from yourself, the terms in question are relative. For example, you view your own posts as logical; your cats do not. Is logic therefore relative?

Perhaps you have a point. Maybe I should not have gone cross-species. But perhaps another human being might not find a sunrise beautiful if he is to be executed at dawn. Not every human finds waterfalls beautiful.

Maybe one person recognizes the cliff that the sun shines on as the cliff her father fell off when she was a little kid, and they found tghe body after scavengers had been at it, etc. etc.

If you want to get back to the real gist of what I was saying, I am pointing out that stringing a bunch of slides that look pretty to most casual observers and then singing something like “How can I believe there is no God” makes no logical sense.

I would assume you had aspergers or similar. You responded to an emotional impression with a logical diatribe. Why?

Well, you say why. You say because it’s a free country you *have *to do so (which is the opposite of free, isn’t it? An obligation to respond in a prescribed manner?). That’s not true. What you should have said was that you wanted to do so, and are glad that you live in a free country that allows you to do so. Hopefully she won’t feel the need to respond with a logical essay pointing out that you not, in fact, have to do so.

Although that raises my curiousity. Was the email you received preceded by an implication that you had no right to reply, given that you felt it necessary to specifically assert it? I could understand the reply in that context.

Otherwise, I’m not sure I understand the motivation behind your reply. If it’s not - as you told her - to prove your legal right to disagree (which I’m sure she probably already understands) - then is it to disprove her faith?

I dunno. I’d just have said “It’s a lovely video. I don’t personally agree it proves that there is a God, but I sure enjoyed the reminder of the beauty of nature.” Or something.

Your reply is just combative, anal, and is gonna piss her off for no reason and certainly to no gain to yourself (unless self-satisfaction is a gain, which I guess it is). At a guess, of course - I don’t know her.

She’s not trying to be an asshole, she’s sharing stuff she loves. You are not going to change her mind about anything, you are only going to come across as combative and reinforce every stereotype atheists have.

How about you just ask her to not send this stuff to you?

But again, couldn’t anything be shown to be a “relative term” with similar arguments? Suppose you find a certain textbook to be logical and convincing. Suppose another person recognizes that her father was bludgeoned to death with that particular textbook when she was a kid. She would probably react to that particular textbook much differently than you would, don’t you think?

Typically when two people discuss a book, they discuss the essential characteristics of the book, which is to say the text and its meaning. Ancillary characteristics such as whether a copy of that book was used to beat someone to would not tell us anything about the proper reaction to the book’s essential characteristics. Likewise the video maker seeks to focus attention on the essential characteristics of the scenes in the video. (At least I assume so, though like Thudlow Boink I haven’t watched it.) She’d presumably think that ancillary characteristics of the scenes in the video are not relevant.

They prove the existence of an Author.