We Play “Prove It” to Practice Critical Thinking

A few days ago, I introduced my 4 1/2 year old son to his first actual god concept.  Yes, I accurately laid out the invisible magic man in the sky belief, including hell and killing nonbelievers, but he was readily skeptical.  Why?  For over a year I’ve been introducing him to examples of logic, deductive reasoning, skepticism and of course logical fallacies.  We had developed a game called “Prove It“.   Its all about taking turns making up funny things (or loosely defined real things) and trying to get the other person to believe it, while they try to disprove it.  It was not entirely due to religious influence, but rather to show him how to reason, think critically and to know when to be skeptical.

About 10 days ago, I made up Our invisible pet dog for him to debunk.  Now keep in mind my son is amazing at pretending there is a dog, but not nearly as good at demonstrating how it’s ‘pretend’.  So I clued him in to ask me what it is about a dog that lets us know there IS one around.  He got the idea and asked “Why can’t I hear him bark?”  I responded “Well, I can hear him.  I even wake up sometimes, because I hear him at night… don’t you?” He took a moment, but then he confidently debunked with “That’s just a neighbor dog barking!”  I reluctantly agreed that it might be another dog, but intending to be stubborn “I still believe in our dog, because… Who chases our cats from one room to another?”  This broadsided him, introducing an alternate (and basic gap filling) explanation of reality.  He looked at me like I was speaking Greek and shook his head “Daddy… that’s because they’re crazy cats!”  I couldn’t resist but to jokingly claim how closed minded he was about our unseen God er… I mean, Dog!

Despite my antics, he did have a good answer, but I was hoping he would recognize my burden of proof too.  Dodging and moving on, in standard theistic avoidance style… “But why does the cats’ water bowl get empty so quickly (2 big cats)?  Something else must be drinking!”  I helped him through some reasoning and encouraged him to ask questions about how I know things like that are even true… and that cats couldn’t drink that much, etc.

As you can see I am introducing him to logical fallacies, unjustified beliefs and stubborn believers, with flimsy reasoning.  This time however, I threw in confirmation bias validating a version of prayer, for an argument from ignorance. “Every night I ask the dog nicely to keep us safe and scare away dangerous stuff… and we’ve been safe, so he must be real!”  This stumped him.  I walked him through the fallacy with some (off the game record) help, “What confuses you about what I said?”  and his reply was encouraging “But…we aren’t in danger here!?” “Good thinking!”  I praised “So ask me about that.”  A Pause… then, very deliberately he challenged “Show me the dangerous stuff… Prove it Daddy!”  Brilliant!  He realized that the dubious claim of danger needed verification, for an improved safety to make sense!  Yay, Burden of proof! *Proud*  … We high fived and I declared him the winner!

This game is ideal for my peace of mind, because it can be anything I think he needs to practice and is often funny (like religion).  Further, it encourages skepticism with authority figures, including myself.  I’ve tried to show him that he doesn’t have to believe things just because Mommies and Daddies say its true.  In fact, I always try to demonstrate new ideas to him, since I’m not immune to burden of proof, as his Daddy… and neither is anybody else.

An important part the game not shown here; reverse rolls to show the child what things to doubt and the best skeptical questions to ask.  Have fun with it and certainly don’t always make it as intense as this session! HA!  Let me know what you think of “Prove It” as we play it and of course how you might play variations.

Thanks for Reading

~Artie  @FreeAtheism / @AtheisticEarth on Twitter

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Your Shameful God Beliefs

Not one shred of evidence has remotely distinguished your god from a state of non-existence, yet you love and worship him.  More importantly, have you even read your holy book in its entirety?  Do you know that you’re endorsing your God’s history of grotesque immorality (Click Links) and unparalleled atrocities against humanity?!  You should be ashamed for worshiping such a monster, or worse, blindly following his repulsive commands!  Even my 4 year old recognizes that a loving father figure doesn’t kill, torture and make slaves of his children!  How ridiculous are your beliefs that a young child can debunk them with a simple insight? Seriously!  You should be ashamed, but you likely just now rationalized it, like everything else.

Answered prayers are promised to us and yet the only verification of them is from biased observations of coincidental events. There are no amputees being healed, no miracle loaves and fishes for 3rd world countries, no ending of disease and no protection from mass murderers, etc.  As an intelligent person, isn’t it irresponsible to favorably reinterpret or ignore such obvious divine failings?  Rationalizing them as God’s plan is shamefully perpetuating bullshit excuses, teaching kids to similarly create lies, instead of accepting reality.

Supposed supernatural claims, if true at all, have zero links to divinity.  Your dreams, visions, voices and feelings only point to causes in your own head, with no magic provider attached.  Its all wishful thinking and subjective feelings.  Every claim of Intelligent Design ever proposed is demonstrably fallacious, while naturalistic causes for the state of our universe are verifiable. Teaching children that divine magic made everything and that scientists are liars, is shameful nonsense!

Unless you’re prepared to go out and kill all non-believers, gays and disobedient children, you already don’t believe the entirety of your belief system and have morally overridden your god. Whenever you take actions based on faith and not reason, you endorse that method as valid. When immoral theists use the same method to justify their atrocities, the obvious lack of validation suddenly isn’t good enough, is it? Unless you stop justifying beliefs on faith, YOU are validating extremist harm and should be ashamed!

If you’re a reasonable person, you probably can recognize that you’ve been rationalizing all my points, to protect your beliefs. These are merely your conditioned excuses, to desparately fill in the gaps where a god is supposed to be. What other failings do you really need to see? A god, whom has no affect on the world, where he reasonably should, is simply a myth like all the rest. If nothing else, isn’t it time to think about the harms you’ve helped to enable and perpetuate?

Before extremists finally walk a nuke into your country, this religious culture which holds faith as an acceptable justification for any action, needs to be rejected. If you can personally do this, every moral, freethinking, reasonable human will be one step closer to saving humanity’s future, right along with you.

Please consider it.

Thanks. ~Artie Petro, @FreeAtheism on Twitter

How is Atheism Freedom?

Are you, the believer, convinced that “God is plainly real and my holy book / feelings / visions / prayers and even the trees are proof that it’s all true”?  Well, despite your certainty, these examples only claim that “god did it” and don’t debunk every other possibility, including the natural.  For example, have you made an effort to assure the voice or vision isn’t just in your head?  or… Did you refute the possibility that advanced aliens are responsible for everything “divine”?  No, you simply believed the conclusion that was served to you and never bothered to prove it.  This is when rational, free minds conclude that simply choosing “god magic”, is completely unjustified.  However, instead of acting reasonably, the believer is manipulated by conditioning, fear and habit to fall back upon baseless faith.  Consequently, you honestly may not recognize what you’re missing!  You’ve basically been cheated out of your freedoms!  So, to illustrate the bounty I refer too, here’s a sampling of random Atheists shooting from the hip about how Atheism is Freedom:

    • I’m Free to reject gods, free consider the best morality, free to see & accept truths, free to spread reason & free to love this life!~Artie Petro  @FreeAtheism
    • Free to enjoy wonders of universe without fear or guilt.~ BoomTash @ThornburyRocks
    • Being a theist meant that I had to say “God did it.” Being an atheist means that I can say “I don’t know how the universe came to be, we’re still trying to figure that out… and that’s okay. ~@TheAtheistSpark   (Click for her full blog post on freedom http://t.co/8Vb8yQonpe )
    • No more programmed fear. I no longer have the oppression of a god who will punish me. My spirit is free to imagine and produce. — Robert Klauka @auldshaman
    • Atheism is freedom for all who believe they are in charge of their destinies & are capable of making an impact on the world.~Atheist Worgen @CriminySTFU
    • #Atheism is #freedom b/c it allows one to act according to conscience w/o worrying how it conflicts with religious tenets.~Atheist Worgen @CriminySTFU
    • #Atheism – making my own choices and taking my own direction.~Ems @emmybtheOT
    • #Atheism – not feeling like you are being eternally supervised and watched over.~Ems @emmybtheOT
    • #Atheism – not being bound by pointless rules which have no rhyme or reason.~Ems @emmybtheOT
    • Theists aren’t free, they’re held captive by their religion.~David Dowdy @daviddowdy01
    • Prisoners who are afraid to leave the prison, even if they are free to leave, are not free. The prison is in their mind. Being trapped in a fixed belief system is like living in a prison, and believing you’re free because you CHOOSE to live there.~ Andrew Graham @AndrewGraham02
    • Atheism is freedom, as it allows the mind to search for answers to great questions, rather than be told them by religion.~ Rob @MrMirth
    • Wisdom isn’t a single fixed belief system – wisdom is being able to question everything, even your own beliefs. Faith is a mind-trap. It biases the mind, and causes the believer to refuse to question his/her own beliefs.~ Andrew Graham @AndrewGraham02
    • Atheism frees me from unwavering, irrational dogma. Atheism frees me to accept what reason and evidence call true or likely.~@AtheistInUtah
    • Free from being forced to adhere & IMPOSE doctrines ( inlc “you are sinner” ) , views of life & compulsory attendance church 🙂 ~‏@expreacher
    • Religion controls people with fear. Atheism removes the fear. Equals freedom. It opens your mind to a myriad of possibilities.~@auldshaman
    • I am not encumbered with a specific set of beliefs nor am I tied to theistic moral positions.~@addictionguy
    • #Atheism is acceptance of reality and proper application of skepticism/science. They are pathways to truth. Truth is freedom.~@Euclidean_5
    • Atheism is the release from irrational dogma about you and your fellows. It allows you to treat others equally=>freedom.~@Irish_Atheist
    • Religion is emotional and mental slavery, #Atheism is the fight to end it. Religion is the lobotomy of mankind.~@weldermech7066
    • #Atheism is the freedom to have the honesty to say “I don’t know, but I will not jump to outrageous conclusions.~@atheistedu
    • When you realize you are in full control of your life and this is it, everything becomes more meaningful and beautiful.~@CynicScientist 
    • It’s nice not to be subjected to mental slavery. Kinda puts a bounce in my step 🙂 ~Rhenaiya Jesson @Rhenaiya
Believing that “We were put here for a reason” immediately hinders one’s ability to think and act outside those limits.

So, Mr and Mrs theist, I’m truly sorry for the freedoms you cannot appreciate.  However, if you ever wished to claim these freedoms, simply check that your god is where you always supposed he was.  Be honest. Drop the excuses… and you will find nothing.  You are free to believe in gods, but you are obviously NOT free like the Atheist.

Atheists… Consider your freedoms and list them in comments below!  Thanks!

Thanks for reading. ~ @FreeAtheism