This is a response to a response to this webcomic titled "How to suck at your religion". While Oatmeal's comic is crass and paints things in broad terms, it's a freaking webcomic. So it's supposed to do that. Butthe response is so full of phallacies (and lacking in webcomic-ness) that it may deserve a response.
I have promised not to be a troll (anymore) so I will try to answer in a sensible manner.
Here's the article I am replying to go read it if you want. I will not reply to all of it, but will instead cherrypick a couple of paragraphs.
In response to the "forcing dogma" panel:
So... religion is fine, unless you actually believe in it? Should parents not pass their political, ethical or moral views on to their children as well? What parts of parenting would be left if parents were to avoid passing their views on to their kids? The irony here is that silence is itself a statement. Avoiding any mention of God to your kids sends as clear a message as talking about God: specifically, it tells your kids that God's existence is either untrue, unknown, or unimportant. Because if you knew Him to exist, surely you'd share that knowledge, right?
Let's start from the top: you don't know god exists. You have faith that he exists, but you don't know it for a fact. If you knew for a fact that he exists, you could not possibly have faith because faith excludes certainty. As your bible says, faith is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
So, do I tell my son god doesn't exist? Nope. I tell him I think he doesn't exist, and that I have never seen r heard of any reliable evidence or datum that points towards his existence, but also that some people do believe he does exist. I told him that because I feel that's a honest answer. If your honest answer is "god exists", then bully for you, but from the point of view of a non-believer you are telling your son a lie, or at best a half-truth. And if you really don't know he exists for a fact then you are just lying.
Now, are you sayin that you know god exists factually? Based on what? That's the usual slippery slope for this argument. The religious are the ones making statements of fact based on tradition. To the rest of us, they just seem to be playing loose with what "fact" means, or what "god" means or what "know" means.
So, no, don't avoid mentions of god, just avoid lying to your kids if you can.
This next section is probably the worst, because it's just an incoherent argument. A kid asks, “Dad, what happens to us after we die?” The author compares providing the Christian answer to this question with correcting your kid for having green as a favorite color. What?? That just isn’t a coherent argument. In what world are those two ideas parallel, or even comparable?
According to the webcomic, good parenting is to pretend to be agnostic, and say that “no one really knows for sure.” Of course, if the Resurrection is true, that claim is false. So to be a good parent, you apparently have to deny the Resurrection and embrace agnosticism, treating beliefs about the afterlife as mere matters of personal preference like having a favorite color. This is just… stupid. There’s just no other way of describing it. Imagine if we treated everything that way. “Dad, what’s 3 x 3?” “No one really knows for sure. What do YOU think 3 x 3 is?”
So, comparing life after death with color preference is stupid and incoherent, but comparing it the christian belief of resurrection with basic arithmethics is a-ok? That must have taken some effort to write with a straight face, I'm sure.
So, let's go slowly on this one. Beliefs about the afterlife are, like most other beliefs, probably not a personal preference, but just something you have, because of, in most cases, indoctrination early in life, peer pressure, and just because you live in a society where that belief is normal and approved of.
But what is it your belief in the afterlife is not?
- It's not inherent to "you". If you were born in another place or time, you would probably believe something else.
- It's not undisputed. Because there exists a majority of people who don't believe the same thing, either by details or entirely.
- It's not unique. Because other religions have had similar resurrection beliefs.
- It's not reliable. Even if we were to accept everything the bible says as true that would not mean we know what will happen to you or to me after we die. We would have a testimony about what happened in a few days in the afterlife of a specific person, at a point in the past, as told to someone by someone. Is that the same as knowing what will happen? No it's not.
Let's compare that to 3x3 as the author attempted:
- If I was a chinese in the 12th century: 3x3 is 9.
- There is no group of people that believes 3x3 is 8 or 10.
- There has not been in the past any real disagreement about the value of 3x3. We have not achieved that result via a gradual improvement.
- We rely on 3x3 being 9 every day in our lives. If you drive a car, use a phone, or zip your pants, you are agreeing 3x3 is 9.
- We don't expect 3x3 not to be 9 in the future.
Notice any differences? Yes, me too.
Personally, I consider your faith in god more akin my liking Queen (the band, not the ruler). I was exposed to Queen at the right time, it was approved by my peers, and I like it. On the other hand, I understand that Queen is not everyone's cup of tea, and I don't claim Queen to be the "right" band.
The whole "if the Resurrection is true, that claim is false" line of thought is not logical. If my cat had wings, then the claim that winged cats are awesome is false. But my cat doesn't have wings. Does it make the winged cats less or more awesome that he doesn't? It's not that it's not right, it's that it's not even wrong.
Also, Oatmeal, shame on you about Galileo, really, look it up ;-)