Saturday, January 02, 2016

Another Thought Experiment

Einstein came up with some of his most brilliant ideas by performing "thought experiments" in which he imagined situations and their potential outcomes. I try to do this from time to time to sharpen my debate skills and to keep myself intellectually honest.

Today, I find myself in a debate with a Christian and, in the forum in which we're conducting our discussion, there isn't space to fully examine the question.

I will do my very best to avoid straw man arguments and present the situation as realistically as possible while remaining true to the experiment.

First we establish the setting.

You find yourself standing on a wide, grassy plain. There are half a dozen other people there. Each seems to be from a different part of the world yet you find that language is no barrier and you can all understand one another.

Each of you, in turn, tells the others where you live and about the god (or gods) you worship.

One says he's from northern Europe and he worships Odin. The next is from ancient Egypt and he prays to Ra. Another is from modern day New Delhi and he prays to Ganesha. The fourth is from the central plains of North America and he worships the Manitou. Another is from the United States and worships the god of the Bible and his son, Jesus Christ. The next is from ancient Mexico and his god is Quetzalcoatl. The last is from Mali and he worships the Nommu twins.

Next, we think about the question.

Because all of you believe different things, you can't all be correct. Even if you look at the similarities of your belief systems, there are enough differences to demonstrate that there is fundamentally flawed in some of these systems of thought.

Now, how do you demonstrate to the others that yours is the correct belief system? Remember that each of the others believes as strongly and as adamantly as you do.

If the others are all wrong and believe that you are wrong, what guarantee do you have that you are right?

Once you've given that thought, remember that there are more than 3000 deities that people worship in the world today. If you take history into account, that number goes up by at least a factor of five.

Now, tell me... do you really think that you are the one who got it right?


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