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An Atheist Fable

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An Atheist Fable Empty An Atheist Fable

Post  czarinaanna Thu Jan 22, 2009 12:20 am

I read this from here and thought it was cute...

I dedicate this fable to Professor Richard Dawkins, for all the work he has done to help countless atheists to overcome their fears and proudly proclaim their nonbelief.

Imagine a class where there are two students taking an exam. The exam is extremely difficult, and both students only really know the answers to a few of the questions. The vast majority though are far beyond them.

As the two begin the test, one student fills out every question he doesn’t know with “a magic space slug did it,” while the other student leaves the questions he doesn’t know blank. When the teacher gives back the papers, the first student is livid, enraged that he received the same grade as the student who left his test blank. He complains to the teacher:

“Why did I get the same grade as him?! I filled out every answer on this test! He left most of the questions blank!”

“But your answers didn’t have any evidence to back them up. Where is this evidence of a magic space slug?” asked the teacher.

The student thinks for a moment, and runs back to his desk. Pulling out a sheet of paper, he writes ferverently the tale of the magical space slug, how he has manifested himself to mankind in the past, and will do so again in the future. The student leaps from his desk and proudly presents the space slug saga to the teacher: “There! Now you have proof of the space slug! I DEMAND you give me an A on the test!”

“But hold on,” says the teacher, “your story about the space slug isn’t good enough. All it is is a story written by someone who already believes in him. In no way does that count as any sort of evidence!”

Flustered, the student thinks for a bit, and then an idea pops into his head. “But look teacher, my account of the space slug accurately describes many scientific principles, so if that is all correct, then surely the accounts of the space slug must be correct as well!”

“No,” replies the teacher, “just because you have a few facts that happen to be true doesn’t prove everything in it is true. That’s called ‘confirmation bias.’ It’s when you only pay attention to the things that support your claim, and completely ignore the things that don’t. Your story here, it also says the moon is made out of cottage cheese, and that cows come from Mars. You have just as many scientifically incorrect things on here as you do otherwise. I’m actually going to give the other student a higher grade now. Not because he got more questions right than you did on the initial test, but during our conversation he went to the library and researched the answers to the questions he didn’t know, and he has filled out many more questions on the test with the correct answers now. The trick about this exam is that it never ends, and during the time he’s been researching and studying, you’ve been trying to convince me that your fantastical made-up answers are true. I’m giving him a higher grade because he didn’t have the arrogance to claim knowledge he didn’t have.”

Truth is not determined by the quantity of ink on the page


Female Number of posts : 16
Age : 37
Registration date : 2008-12-22

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