I recommend that strong/positive atheists should instead be weak atheists/agnostics. People like Richard Dawkins who makes the leap to say that there is almost certainly no god (without any of the usual probability and statistics calculations that are normally used to arrive at "almost certainly" in the world of science). First take a look at this.

Note - I do not agree with everything there, but the presentation within it is far better than I can do with words.

In particular I'd like you to see page 5. I don't play computer games these days, so I assume that's a picture of a real game. If it isn't, you've definitely seen Pac-Man, which will do for the purposes of this conversation.

Anyway, let's say the creatures (dot-eating Pacman plus ghosts), are endued with artificial intelligence, some time in the next 1 million or billion years of evolution, I mean, computer science. Given that you as an atheist (even a weak atheist in fact) have no problem believing intelligence can come from an otherwise devoid-of-even-life ocean (given a lot of patience), you will presumably have no trouble accepting that computer scientists, applying a lot of combined effort, will eventually beat primordial slime at its own game.

The Pac-Man has evolved to more intellectual pursuits than eating dots, e.g. running a large corporation, and the ghosts have similarly evolved, and are now crack dealers. In fact, the Pac-Man's world looks uncannily like our own.

Now, Mr and Mrs Pac-Man are discussing theology, and Mr Pac-Man says that he's an positive atheist. There's been no evidence of any God, like, ever ever ever, after many fruitless attempts. Mrs Pac-Man is using the usual tired argument about the world not being able to come into existence all on its own, without being able to offer any explanation for how the more complicated "God" could have come into existence. At this point, note that the combined efforts of computer scientists will not necessarily be inferior to some 3rd grader playing Pac-Man. Chess Grandmasters used to insist that they would always be able to beat a machine too. So much for famous last words. So there's the first point to note.

But next, the 3rd grader mentioned above, invites his 3rd grader classmate over to his house, where they've been running this "Pac-Man game" for a couple of months now to "see what happens". Most of the time they're watching 3-D porn, not watching Pac-Man, but nevermind.

Anyway, they notice this exchange between Mr and Mrs Pac-Man. Quite clearly, Mr Pac-Man, the atheist, is wrong. Within the Pac-Man game itself, it is totally and utterly impossible to prove that one way or the other. It's not possible to reach outside of the computer simulation and start analyzing God (ie the first 3rd-grader), and coming to some pretty derogatory conclusions about him in fact.

My questions (to atheists) are this.

1. What arguments would you suggest that Mrs Pac-Man arm herself with, to get Mr Pac-Man to switch from strong atheist to agnostic. I can understand that without some pretty hefty intervention by the snotty-nosed 3rd grader (e.g. putting a ghost into bed with the two of them by pressing Alt-G), it would be absolutely impossible for Mr Pac-Man to switch to "believer" (even though - in this case - he would be right).

2. Is God (the 3rd grader) considered omnipresent/omnipotent/etc, assuming he can do a dump of RAM any time he wants?

3. If God dumps the data structures associated with Mrs Pac-Man, and puts her into a different simulation, would that be considered being saved and going to Heaven?

4. Given that we know that Mr Pac-Man made an ill-advised leap of logic, coming to a belief, without any data that would be able to back up that belief, what did Mr Pac-Man do wrong? ie which rules of science did he break specifically? If he could retrace his steps, where should he have stopped with the logic and said "I refuse to go beyond this point, for the same reason I don't say whether or not there is life elsewhere in the universe or not - we do not have that data available yet, no matter how impatient you may be"?

5. If the 3rd grader chooses to not press Alt-G (supernatural ghost generator), to give the required proof of the supernatural to Mr Pac-Man, to stop him putting his foot in his mouth any further, is he considered to be deceptive? Malicious?

6. If the 3rd grader decides to press Alt-R (religion generator), to zap up a book of rules, deliberately ambiguously written, some things deliberately and obviously fallacious, so that you can't quite be sure if it's really from God or not, and in it it contains some radical philosophy, e.g. "love thy enemy", that sets such a high standard for Mrs Pac-Man to have to try to live up to, because the 3rd grader thinks that it would be cool to watch animals attempt to cooperate, would that book be considered "the word of God" or "holy" - despite the deliberate falsehoods?

By the way, there's a fantastic movie called "The Thirteenth Floor" which may make you think twice.

But while there's still time (ie before atheists quickly switch to agnosticism to cover themselves), I'd like honest answers to the above, with your current state of mind. Mainly question 4 I'm after. Mainly for future debates. I can watch how atheists respond to (your) answer to number 4, and then demonstrate that they are just as dogmatic as religious people, unwilling to climb down from their position, before hitting them with this counterexample which doesn't leave much wriggle room that I can see.


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