Monday, March 23, 2015

The analogy of the windowless room

In a discussion I had with a pastor who wanted to understand my decision to announce my atheism, I constructed an analogy which I think explains the difference of opinion between him and I: The Analogy of the Windowless Room.

I was a member of a church in my township which is a 15 minute walk from my home. I have been attending the church since 2007 and I have participated in the church until I was elected youth leader last year, after holding a few important positions in the youth section of the church.

My decision to leave the church and express my scepticism and atheism has come as a great shock to some including my former pastor. My atheism stems from an inherent seed of doubt for everything I have ever learned ever since I was eight or nine years old.

Now, as I was trying to explain to the man of god that my scepticism is based on the lack of objective evidence for the existence of god or the validity of the Christian religion (or any of the religions for that matter), I was trumped by his refusal to acknowledge the facts.

He explained to me how the order of the universe is evidence of the existence of a loving creator. He then proceeded to undo the science of astrophysics and biology through evolution. His facts lacked a true understanding of science and this only served to support the widely excepted idea of believers in god and practitioners of religion being close minded.

This sparked an image in my mind during the discussion of a four-sided room with a roof completely disjoint from the outside room. In this room of the imagination, I conjured up a room where god exists and the walls and the roof are belief and indoctrination.

Inside this room (which is neither big nor small but merely finite in size) is where all those who believe without question reside. This room is as big as those who reside in it believe it to be but the room is still limited it its dimensions. Outside the room is the real world full of facts and wonders that are waiting to be discovered.

Having created this setting, I put my sceptic self on the outside, in the real world. In this real world that exists outside the room, there are things we know to be physical, things that are supported by facts and there are more things that are unknown but waiting to be discovered. The pastor understood my way of looking at things and he pointed out how it was ironic that this world view was in fact narrow minded.

He reminded me how there are professionals such as medical doctors and intellectuals who are theists besides their worldly education. This forced me to change my room and put small windows on it that lets believers have limited glimpses of the real world, the world outside of blind belief.

As we went our separate ways, he promised to pray for me and I nodded in appreciation. Anyway, I continued to modify the room, or at least what the occupants thought they saw. From outside the room, the real world, the room does not in fact exist, or rather the walls that hold the inhabitants back.

You see, the walls of belief, dogmatism, indoctrination and community acceptance are as real as the barriers that keep football players within the field of play. In reality, in my world of the imagination at least, these lines are drawn on the ground, and as the football players are conditioned to never cross their barrier lines, so are the believers bound by mere lines in the ground.

So, there are no walls; this means the inhabitants of the non-existent room can see everything, the real world they find themselves in, but they are not allowed to cross the lines drawn in front of them.
This is an imaginary world as you know and analogies can only stretch so far but this is how I see things as they are.

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