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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thoughts on New Clothes

Perusing the Internet it is common to find atheists who argue like 15 year old heroin addicts. One such is the provider of an argument that works along the following lines.
The Emperor walks naked among his courtiers. They each comment on the surpassing fineness of his imaginary garments until the insightful wise man finally points out that the Emperor is in fact naked. The courtiers then refuse to listen, redoubling their efforts to praise the magnificence of the imaginary clothing.
The imagery is obvious. God is supposed to be like the Emperor's new clothes, completely imaginary, and the efforts of His followers to praise him simply the actions of the willfully self deluded.

However the philosophically competent will instantly see the flaw in this story.

It is begging the question. The storyteller has already decided that the Emperor is naked and therefore the courtiers are delusional but let's look at the story from the theist's perspective.
The Emperor walks among his courtiers. His robe trails behind him, a waterfall of velvet and ermine. The polished leather of his boots reflects the faces of his admiring subjects. Each member of his court seeks to outdo the next in heaping superlatives upon his dress. An interruption occurs. An individual clad in the crimson tights of the jester leaps from the audience. "The Emperor is naked" he cries. The court, used to his madness, just smile politely and continue in their praise. "Can you not see?" Says the fool, "the Emperor is quite bare. He wears no clothes to cover his royal nakedness." The people continue to praise but the Emperor's brow becomes a little furrowed. He points a perfectly manicured finger at the capering jester. "Remove him." He commands his guards. With relish the burly men seize the prancing fool and drag him to the tower. "A joke is one thing," the Emperor remarks, "but enough is enough."
Simply telling a story is not enough. Anyone (even an atheist) can write a story that conforms to his beliefs. However that does not in any way impact reality. Saying the Emperor is naked does not make him naked. Similarly saying that God does not exist does not make Him non-existent.

3 comments:

elenburg said...

Jason, I've enjoyed reading your blog and comments over in Reclaiming the Mind [Leaving Christ(ianity) thread]. I'd like to chat w/ you in private email regarding your Darwin comment. I can be reached @ delenburg@yahoo.com.

TrueHope said...

If Jesus' disciples were willfully self-deluded, it'd hard to explain why they were willing to die as martyrs instead of bowing down to Caesar and live.

Indeed, we can find all sorts of people on the Internet, and all sorts of stupid arguments.

Duke of Earl said...

Or simply renouncing Jesus and escaping the social ostracism inflicted by their Jewish peers.