Dialogue with an Atheist - Part 2
Dialogue with an Atheist - Part 2 - by P.K.Odendaal - November 2012
Less tangible objects.
GLC: Hi there, Atheist, where are you hurrying to?
Atheist: I am off to some business at the bank.
GLC: Why did you all of a sudden remember to rush off to the bank just when you saw me?
Atheist: I do not like you Christians. You think the world belongs to you. Everywhere you have people in high places trying to dictate policy along Christian principles, which the rest of us do not like.
GLC: You are not perhaps talking of some church going people who wish to force their church dogma onto you?
Atheist: Yes, exactly.
GLC: I would not tolerate that either, but that would not make me an atheist. In any case, only some fifteen per cent of the world are church going Christians in some thirty eight thousand denominations, and I can barely see them forcing these thirty eight thousand doctrines onto unsuspecting Christian haters. But that is not my quest today.
Atheist: So what is your quest?
GLC: Last time we talked about the beautiful hole in the flag, which changed its form and colour the whole time, and I am still not satisfied that I convinced you that it does not exist.
Atheist: I must admit that I have tried over these past two weeks, since I last saw you, to understand why and how you fooled me so easily into believing that that hole actually exists, and why you shattered my faith by proving to me that it does not exist.
GLC: More are on its way - this time with things even less tangible than a hole which does not exist. It is the figures called numbers. You no doubt are aware of the fact that numbers are divided into many different kinds of numbers like rational numbers, vulgar fractions and imaginary numbers. I am quite sure you will like the rational numbers as you are such a rational person.
Atheist: Yes, I know rational numbers and I believe in them. They are numbers which can be expressed as a fraction of integers. Nothing strange about that. We have been doing mathematics for over two thousand years with those. I also believe in the real numbers - those numbers which fill the gaps left by rational numbers ... mmm ... did I explain myself correctly. Now that I think of it, how can there be a gap in rational numbers?
GLC: Exactly. You have now yourself shattered your faith in real and rational numbers. It is true that there are gaps in rational numbers - the same gaps you get in your so-called rational arguments. It seems that there is a very big and real difference between rational and real numbers. So - will you believe me when I say there is a gap between rational thought and reality?
Atheist: Now that you explain it to me, I can see it.
GLC: So are you going to concentrate your dialogue with me on rationality or on reality?
Atheist: I think I would stay with reality - makes more sense to me.
GLC: So you would also say the irrational numbers do not exist?
Atheist: According to our mathematicians, irrational numbers do exist - like the square root of two. So I must agree that they do exist - I work with it almost every day.
GLC: But are you not a bit irrational now? You only believe in real or rational things and here you tell me that you believe in irrational things as well - like irrational numbers.
Atheist: Yes, but the old Greeks just called them irrational numbers, but they are not really irrational for us now.
GLC: I partly agree with you, because what was irrational for the Greeks may be rational for us now - but then, what may be irrational for us now, like the existence of a God, may be rational for our progeny.
Atheist: I do not think so. We have discovered all the number types by now.
GLC: Then tell me - what is the value of the square root of two.
Atheist: I cannot give you the answer, as such a number does not exist in our number system, because it has infinite decimals.
GLC: But why can you conceive of a number that is infinite, and not a God which is infinite?
Atheist: I do not think that the reason I cannot write the number in infinite decimals means it is an infinite number.
GLC: But that does not change the argument. Infinite numbers and numbers with infinite decimals are both unthinkable. But ... we have progressed too far into infinity, without heeding our excursion into nothingness and non-existence.
Atheist: Why do you say that? We have had a perfectly rational dialogue on numbers.
GLC: Ok, I will make it easy for you. let's take a number with finite decimals ... let's take the number two which has no decimals. What is two?
Atheist: Do you have a pen for me? Here ... I have written a two on this piece of scrap paper.
GLC: I can see no two.
Atheist: Of course you can see it. I thought that you could read and write.
GLC: I think your argument is a little mixed up. That is not two - that is only a conventional notation for the number or quantity we think of as being two.
Atheist: Now you are splitting hairs.
GLC: I need to understand when you will believe in God. When you have a good conception of Him or when you see His name written on a piece of paper. You cannot do anything with the figure two you wrote on this paper. You cannot add it to anything or subtract it from anything - like, if you have two apples, you might take one apple away and be left with one, but even then you would not be able to quantitatively and qualitatively prove to me the existence of either of those numbers. They are just concepts - unproven concepts. Yes, we have a very good notion what they mean - arrived at by induction, but nobody has ever been able to prove the existence or not of two - so - by your own admission - if you cannot prove the existence of something, you accept that it does not exist.
Atheist: I cannot answer you on that one.
GLC: And you shrug your shoulders before we have even tackled the imaginary numbers. I have even less confidence that you can separate imaginary figures from imaginary people, imaginary thoughts or imaginary Gods.
Atheist: But we all know imaginary numbers do not exist. Surely the square root of minus one does not and cannot exist.
GLC: I agree with you that on its own, it cannot exist, but if we square it, we condemn it into reality again, because then it becomes the real and rational number called minus one. Why can't you square up with God and condemn yourself into reality, so that you can need salvation and therefore God, or more particularly - can't you see that as much as the square root of minus one cannot exist on its own, we cannot exist on our own - without a God.
Atheist: You are taking liberties of my gullibility now.
GLC: I warned you that we will be doing excursions into any field - not just those in your goal area.
Atheist: I have a headache - will you please excuse me now - I need to go to the pharmacy now instead of to the bank.