God and the Orange Bin

An interesting situation arose in class the other day. In order to make a point, the professor used an example. She said: "For example, take this bin in the back. If I say it is orange (it was), who here agrees?" A few people raise their hands. "Ok, who disagrees with this?" Nobody raises their hands. The professor then proceeded to ask why about 70% of the class did not raise their hand for either question.

The answer lies in the fact that the bin was not visible for most of the class, being in the back and close to the ground. The teacher was quite interested in the response because it added an extra variable to her example which she had not intended. For some reason, the situation immediately reminded me of religion -- the orange bin being the god concept. What is so surprising is that people will not answer a question such as that of the orange bin when there is some doubt as to the color of the bin (ie. I have no proof of the bin's color because I can't see it), and yet millions of people blindly make the exact opposite decision in regards to religious beliefs. There is no evidence of God's existence, so why do so many people make this assumption? If the orange bin had instead been green, you would have been fooled. The fallacy of my example is that some people were able to see the bin. I would argue, however, that individuals' word should not be taken for granted without first being verifiable. We should not put blind trust in each others' judgment. This is what rationality is for.

Finally, one could argue that I have here made the case for agnosticism as opposed to atheism, in that those who do not see the orange bin cannot and should not vouch for its existence or non-existence. I disagree with this premise because there is still a reasonable possibility that the existence of an orange bin could be true, even if you could not confirm it visibly. It is likely for this reason that 70% of the class did not pronounce themselves either way and, in effect, remained agnostic towards the existence of the orange bin. In the case of a god, however, there is no reason to remain agnostic because there it is not simply a matter of verifiability. There is no inkling of proof to begin with, and no rational argument ("having faith" has nothing to do with reason) which can support god's existence, just as reason cannot justify the possible existence of flying pink unicorns, vampires, and other elements of fantasy.


At 22/9/06 8:30 PM, Blogger Chartier said...

This reminds me of an argument I had a few months back about the existence of ghosts. The person I was arguing against insisted that the only reason why a dog would bark at the corner of a room on a certain time each day was evidence to the presence of a ghost. I kept coming up with scientific explanations and rational ones, but to her, it felt like to much of a long shot and the "ghost theory" was the most plausible.

Sometimes my brain hurts when I hear these people.

At 23/9/06 2:21 AM, Blogger The Atheist Front said...

Good analogy to showcase just how ridiculous and dangerous it is for millions across the globe to put their absolute trust in a single belief, that is unverifiable in any possible way, and that has generated bloodshed for centuries. Reminds me a bit Dawkin's theory on teapot atheism!

At 24/9/06 11:24 AM, Blogger Portelance said...

But... I believe in the big invisible teapot! ;)


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