In which an anti-theist mischaracterizes a claim in my testimony and also misses the point.
In response to my recently-posted testimony, OpenMind offered the following
@sarahsalviander I’m sorry that you lost your baby and understand the need to try to rationalise your loss….
— OpenMind (@MyOpenMind101) May 18, 2015
I don’t know exactly what OM meant, so I’ve asked him for clarification. However, he seems busy responding to the flurry of Tweets his comment generated, so I’ll just address it as is.
Generally speaking, when a person is said to be rationalizing his behavior, it means he’s offering a seemingly plausible, but untrue, reason for it. That’s probably the sense in which OM offered his interpretation of how I’ve dealt with the death of my daughter. The problem with this interpretation is that no one can demonstrate that the reason for my behavior — God’s existence — is untrue. Therefore, by definition, it cannot be a rationalization. Furthermore, I offered very good reason to believe that it is true, which I explained in my testimony. OM’s is just a nonsensical claim.
OM also missed the point of my relating how I dealt with the loss of my baby. My testimony was the story of how I went from atheism to theism, partly on the basis of scientific evidence, and from theism to Christianity, largely on the basis of scientific evidence. It seemed a little too coldly logical to me, and so I worried that maybe my faith wasn’t real, that it lacked substance. Jesus talked about this in the parable of the sower. Sometimes people receive the Word, but as soon as they experience any tribulation, they fall away from the faith. I don’t wish to overstate my case, but I think it’s fair to say that I experienced tribulation that year. Yet my faith did not fall away. When the dust had settled, I felt closer to God — I knew what it meant to receive his provision and protection. I knew my faith was real.
There are two takeaway points here for my Christian readers. The first is to always evaluate what an anti-theist (or any other) critic is claiming, identify the error, and then focus your response there. OM claimed I was rationalizing my loss. A rationalization involves an untrue belief, in this case, a belief in God’s existence. Contrary to what strident atheists imply or outright claim, no one has shown that God does not exist. Not only is there is no good reason to assert that God doesn’t exist, but there is good reason to believe that he does. The claim of rationalization is therefore invalid.
The second point is that strident atheists will frequently avoid, evade, redefine, mischaracterize, and misdirect in order to discredit your argument or avoid acknowledging a logical conclusion they don’t like. OM mischaracterized the story of how my faith was tested to claim I was rationalizing my belief. This story had nothing to do with the truth of the reason for my belief, but rather concerned whether my belief even existed. It’s a common tactic; don’t let them get away with it.