Recently there has been a trend among religious apologists, especially the defenders of Christianity, to attempt to render illegitimate the arguments made by atheists against the existence of god(s) in general and the Christian god in particular.
The new and improved polemic usually runs something like this: Your criticisms are crude and uninformed. You know little to nothing about the history, philosophy, and theology of our religion. I have spent my life studying this religion…its history, culture, languages, etc, etc. You would be offended if someone lacking expertise in science attacked that discipline the way you, lacking detailed knowledge of theology, have attacked our beliefs. You therefore have no standing to criticize us and our beliefs. In short, they are attempting to erect a barrier of expertise against thoughtful criticisms of that which they take on faith.
What they are really saying is that we are not to be taken seriously when we voice doubt about the existence of pink unicorns because we have not spent half of our lives engrossed in a scholarly pursuit of Unicornology. Nor can we possible know there are no fairies flitting around the deep woods because we have not taken the time to earn an advanced degree in Fairiology.
On a purely philosophical basis, I am left to wonder how one becomes an expert on the non-existent. What special training and which degrees qualify me to be able to criticize the bronze-age myths of cattle-sacrificing primitives, born of fear and ignorance, and the debilitating effect that a dogged adherence to those myths have on our world and society today?
The debate, contrary to the claims of the new apologists, is neither esoteric nor ontological. It is not over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin; rather it is far more basic than that. It is that there simply aren’t any friggin’ angels, period.
Behind all the claims to specialized learning is a more fundamental group of claims. Basically these are: 1) A god exists; 2) That god is Yahweh, the god of Abraham; 3) The Bible enables us to know and understand what that god wants from us; 4) The beliefs and practices of modern Christianity are accurately derived from Claims 1 through 3; and 5) Claims 1 through 4 are indisputable, so let us alone.
But here’s what I (we) know: 1) There is no evidence in either the scientific nor logical sense to support the existence of a god or gods; 2) In as much as one needs not prove a negative, it is up to believers to produce the evidence for their version of god, not up to us to provide evidence against; 3) It comforts me, my god is outside of nature, god(s) work(s) in strange ways and the like, all fall well short of evidence, much more truth; 4) If knowledge of this god and his demands is so obvious, why are there literally thousands of interpretations of same roiling the earth today; and 5) As human knowledge has accumulated over the past three-quarters of a millennia, all gods have become less likely because the things once attributed to them and/or many of the claims made for them have been explained or put to lie.
So no, dear believer, the fact that you wasted much of your life attaining a PhD in one religious discipline or another, or have advanced to an office such as bishop or pope or whatever, does not mean you have any more insight into the basic..the real…question than do I or any atheist. When we drill down to the bedrock, your arguments carry less weight, not more, than mine because mine are built on reality, on reason, and on logic…yours on a primitive whimsy and ignorance which you cannot or will not examine seriously. Your “expertise” gambit simply does not work.