Back on April 8th I posted a blog exploring the mindset of an atheist friend https://thewisethingtodo.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/keeping-them-shorter-in-the-hindu-kush/
Having read the piece my friend wrote a retort that he invited me to publish. Here is an accurate transcrpt of his letter to me:
“I wish to thank Adrian for flattering me with a reference in a recent blog, we are indeed good friends and I am indeed an atheist unfortunately this is where any agreement in Adrian’s comments ends! I believe that Adrian with best intentions in mind, has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar once again. Why once again? Adrian and I are regular correspondents and I seek to spot where Adrian falls short in reason and uses trickery to deceive his readership. For my part I often see two groups of Christians using scripture to justify polar opposite points of view, sometimes even the same scripture! Both parties claiming often through scripture how wrong the other is. The point is there are only three outcomes, that one or the other is right or that both parties are wrong.
On this occasion Adrian uses an analogy, my criticism of analogies follows much the same as scripture. On this occasion Adrian’s point relies on anyone who is not “on the team” cannot “appreciate the game plan”. Many philosophers have delved with the issue and not many agree with Adrian that one can only perceive something through experience alone, otherwise known as empiricism. Most, like Kant, agree that it is possible to have a ‘a priori’ experiences. His theories allow for ‘concepts’ , that is rules which allow us to recognize similar intuitions and to make sense of our intuitions (the raw data of experience).
The idea that I am incapable of having intuition of the ‘game plan’ is a poor one. It would be like me arguing that you (unless you are fortunate enough to be an Aston Vill fan) are incapable of understanding how they play the game. You may not want to, or hold the skills to do so, but I would leave it to you to decide if it were ‘beyond’ you. I would say that only a Villa fan could properly appreciate was it is to understand the essence of the club. Even if this were true, experienced commentators, who are not Villa fans, would be very qualified to speak about ‘the game plan’.
So this is where I stand, although I am not a Christian, I do read the Bible, I do listen to and read religious and philosophic media and feel that I am as qualified to understand the ‘game plan’ as most.
Of course this is not why Adrian used this analogy, it wasn’t to show you how impoverished I am without Jesus’ word, although this may have been a useful (for Adrian) side effect. It was to say to you that the testimony of a non-Christian is practically worthless, because, “they do not understand the game”. And there lies my chief criticism. You should open your eyes to these tricks and properly assess what your faith relies upon with reason and an open mind. More importantly, you should encourage others, particularly children, to do the same. The ultimate result in not doing so is to allow your moderate faith to be abused by others in the name of fundamentalism. I ask, not that you renounce your faith, but you are alive to other possibilities and views and do not allow the wisdom that those who are not with us, are against us, or as Adrian puts it “need to be on the team”.