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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Question Atheists Hate to Answer

On yesterday's Dennis Prager radio show, he pontificated that atheists are loathe to answer the question regarding their belief about the non-existence of God, "Do you HOPE your are right, or do you HOPE you are wrong?"

Prager is more sympathetic with agnostics who take a position that they are unsure of the existence of God. He is less accommodating to atheists who somehow KNOW there is no God. He stated that atheists have a hard time with the "Do you HOPE you are right/wrong" question because it makes them take ownership of their beliefs. You can KNOW something and not own it, since the knowledge comes from elsewhere.

But HOPE is personal.

Prager gave the example of a child who dies in infancy, perhaps killed by a terrorist's bomb. Most mothers would have the HOPE that they would be reunited with their child in the next life. If an atheist HOPES he/she is wrong, that is supportive of the mother's grief. Prager points out that he thinks these atheists are in the minority. He thinks most atheists want to be right. However, when asked do they HOPE they are right, most will not want to answer the question. They will say it is irrelevant. They will dodge this simple up/down question.

Admitting that you HOPE you are right about the non-existence of God, that you HOPE there is no continuation of life after death, and that family relations cease with your last breath of life is not a comfortable position to champion.

The distinguished and much published mathematician Amir Aczel is not a fan of New Atheists like Richard Dawkins (who recently advocated killing mentally handicapped children) and Lawrence Krauss. They are big detractors of intelligent design and Aczel finds their science sloppy. ID bashing seems to be a hobby of many atheists who regularly dismiss it entirely instead of wanting to debate.

All critics of ID are not militant atheists, but militant atheists do strongly oppose ID because they don't want a discussion that will turn to who the Designer may be.

I posed Prager's question on a few ID Facebook groups. For the most part Prager's predictions panned out. The HOPE question is hard for many atheists to answer.


This month is the 90th anniversary of the Scopes Monkey Trial. Biology teacher John Scopes was arrested for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution in violation of Tennessee state law. Scopes is one of the patron saints of atheists and secular humanists who believe faithfully in evolution. In ninety years evolution has become the accepted science taught in schools. If a teacher were to teach intelligent design today no doubt he or she would be fired or arrested. Challenging evolution is blasphemy.

Back in 2006 a legislator here in conservative Utah proposed a bill that would let schools teach intelligent design. The state school board reaction was to derail this bill at all costs. The bill never was passed, and it opened my eyes to the firm control secular humanists have over the school system in the United States.

Not long after this happened, I happened to watch the classic Spencer Tracy movie, "Inherit the Wind," the courtroom drama based on the Scopes Monkey Trial. I thought, the world has turned 180 degrees. In the 21st century a teacher could get in trouble for teaching intelligent design. I realized you could redo the original play section by section with basically the same characters and tell a challenging and compelling story of intelligent design on trial.

It sounded like a fun project, so that is what I did. I wrote a new play called "Inherit the Wind: Overturned by Design" (see link at upper right). This time, instead of basing the over-the-hill politician turned prosecutor on William Jennings Bryant, he looks a lot like Al Gore. Instead of Clarence Darrow, the feisty defense attorney is based on Ann Coulter. It's conservatives debating liberals, atheists vs. believers, intelligent design vs. evolution. It shares the message that intelligent design should be taken seriously, and not dismissed without any debate. My goal is to see this play help advance the intelligent design argument.

In the years since I published this play, the reaction has been, as expected, highly favorable, or disparaging. Conservatives open-mindedly appreciate a scientific based argument for a designer of the universe. Evolutionists want to dismiss intelligent design and ignore the evidence.

The play is available for Nook, IBook on ITunes, or Amazon.

Contact me if you are interested in performing the play. It is much more topical for the 21st century than the original play which is still regularly produced.

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  1. Hi Don,
    I did answer the question, but my answer didn't fit into the false dilemma Prager posed. I note that you did not include that bit in your article.

    Happy Travels.

    1. I should also note, the question you pose above is not the same question you posed on Facebook, which is hardly fair.

    2. Dan, Thanks for your clarification. This was my original comment on Facebook: Dennis Prager asked an interesting question on his radio program today. If you are an atheist, do you HOPE you are right or wrong? Since atheists are likely to be ID bashers, this is an interesting question for this group. If you HOPE you are right, you want everyone's existence to end at death and you want to deny a mother the hope that she may see a child who died in infancy again. If you HOPE you are wrong, why bash ID?

    3. Thanks, that is an improvement.

      I've given this some more thought, and I'm willing to take another stab at it. You may not like the answer any better. ;-)

      You have a compound question about the end of existence and ID, which is confusing because they are not obviously related. The question about ID is easier to deal with; If you understand science and are interested in good science education, then you bash ID because it is not good science. What you hope about existence doesn't enter into it.

      The question of existence is a little stickier, and it has the aspect of "Did you beat your wife again last night?" Given this sort of false dilemma, it is reasonable that most people, atheist or not, would object to answering. My new thought for this is that atheists (by definition) assume there is no God, and ask for positive proof of God's existence, and this amounts to "hoping they are wrong".
      The alternative would be to assume God exists and ask for evidence that prove God does not exist, and so "hoping they are right" in the absence of negative evidence. I have never, ever, encountered an atheist that would accept this position, because it requires proving a negative (and that can't be done).

      I conclude that atheists hope they are wrong.