Atheists, Believers, and Evidence

Of Atheists, of Believers, and of Evidence: A Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Demands Evidence in a Case in Which Any Reasonable Person Would? Ridiculous!

Apparently, at Least One Atheist Thinks that No Believer’s Opinion About Anything is Valid Because Believers Use a Paradigm in One Facet of Their Lives Which the Atheist, By Contrast, Rejects

By Ken K. Gourdin

Do some atheists (at least one, as this snippet of dialogue shows) believe that since the faithful employ paradigms which atheists reject in matters of faith, the faithful have no right to demand evidence even in situations in which any reasonable person (faithful or not) would demand evidence (such as in the Brett Kavanaugh matter)? Apparently so.

The exchange below occurred in response to a contribution to a discussion over the confirmation debacle of U.S. Supreme Court Justice (then U.S. District Court Judge) Brett Kavanaugh when another poster asked what actual evidence there was to prove the various accusations of misconduct against him. My skeptical interlocutor wrote, “I’ll overlook the irony of a Mormon [that is, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] demanding evidence, but the fact is that there is no need to prove that a crime occurred.” I responded:

Non sequitur, red herring, poisoning the well, and probably a few other fallacies I haven’t thought of are all wrapped up in that one short sentence, [screen name redacted]. While, technically, you may be right that “there is no need to prove that a crime occurred” since Judge Kavanaugh is not facing prosecution in a court of law, at least in a court of law (unlike the court of public opinion or in Senate advise-and-consent proceedings), he would be afforded the presumption of innocence until proven guilty (while, in the Senate and in the [kangaroo] court [brackets in original] of public opinion, apparently, the direct inverse of that rule applies); would have the right to the most vigorous defense and zealous representation by counsel afforded by law and by legal ethics; would have the right to confront and to cross-examine his accuser and any other witnesses against him (to be fair, while Senate rules are more relaxed, he does have something approaching that right in Judiciary Committee hearings, but I strongly suspect that’s why his accuser doesn’t want to appear [Dr. Christine Blasey Ford had not yet agreed to appear when this exchange took place.]); would have the right to due process; could invoke a statute-of-limitations defense against civil action and against criminal prosecution; would have due process of law; and so on.

Apparently, you’re fine with the idea that someone else and his ox could be gored (sans any evidence but a single accuser’s bare, single allegation of long-ago misconduct). [Julie Swetnick and Deborah Ramirez had not yet come forward, but in my opinion, their claims were even more tenuous than Dr. Ford’s.] I’ll keep that in mind the next time someone attacks your character; it may well have a bearing on how well and how readily I am willing to rise to your defense. Think of [Pastor] Martin Niemoller’s bit of thoughtful prose, “First They Came,” or of the conversation between Sir Thomas More and Roper in Robert Bolt’s “A Man For All Seasons” when More says he would give even the devil the benefit of law, while Roper says he would cut down every law in England to get to the devil. Pointedly, More then asks Roper where he would hide once the devil turned on him after he’d cut down all the laws to get at the devil.

And yes, [screen name redacted], even members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would have a right to all of the protections I enumerate in the foregoing paragraph if they are prosecuted in criminal court or are sued in civil court (and to demand that others, both religious and not, receive those same protections). And yes, [screen name redacted], even members of the Church of Jesus Christ have a right to question what “evidence” (such as it may be, or not) exists to support allegations such as the one[s] Judge Kavanaugh now faces. If you were on a cliff, if, unbeknownst to you, you were about to step off of it, and if a believer who, unlike you, was aware of your predicament . . . urged you to not take another step in that direction, you would be perfectly free to say, “Well, what does he know?! He believes in an Invisible Sky God, so why should I think he knows what he’s talking about here?” and to disregard his concern for your safety.

If members of the Church of Jesus Christ employ a paradigm you reject in faith-based matters, does that give you the right to reject their opinions at all times and about anything and everything else? Yes, it does. Frankly, it would be stupid of you to do so, just as it would be stupid of you to disregard the believer’s warning of your peril in the example contained in the foregoing paragraph just because he is a believer and therefore employs a paradigm you do not accept in a single facet of his life, but you do have the right to be stupid. Like every other scientist, Latter-day Saint scientists employ commonly accepted scientific paradigms when considering scientific questions, but you’re free to ignore their conclusions, even when those conclusions are sound; like every other lawyer, Latter-day Saint lawyers employ commonly accepted legal paradigms when considering legal questions and dealing with legal matters, but you’re free to ignore their conclusions and any advice which springs therefrom, even when those conclusions and the resulting advice are sound; like every other medical doctor, Latter-day Saint MDs employ commonly accepted medical practices when diagnosing and treating medical problems, but you’re free to ignore their conclusions and any advice which springs therefrom, even when those conclusions and the resulting advice are sound; and so on.

About kenngo1969

Just as others must breathe to live, I must write. I have been writing creatively almost ever since I learned to write, period! I have written fiction, book- and article-length nonfiction, award-winning poetry, news, sports, features, and op-eds. I hope, one day, to write some motivational nonfiction, a decent-selling novel, a stage play, and a screen play.
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