by Matt Slick
The following dialogue is fictional but I hope is sufficiently entertaining. One day when I was talking with some people about the atheist position where they "lack belief in God" I casually stated, "it's the atheist lacks belief in God, that I lack belief in the atheist intelligence." At that point the light went on and I developed this dialogue.
Andy: I lack belief in God.
Matt: Ok. I lack belief that you have intelligence.
Andy: What? That's rather rude.
Matt: How is it rude to lack belief that you have intelligence?
Andy: Because I'm a person. People have intelligence.
Matt: People have different levels of mental ability. What I consider intelligence is subjective. But, I lack belief that you personally have intelligence. I neither affirm or deny that you are smart.
Andy: Now, you're just being rude and insulting.
Matt: No, I'm not rude or insulting you. I just lack belief that you are smart.
Andy: There you go again.
Matt: Let me say it again. I neither affirm nor deny that you are smart. I lack belief concerning your intelligence.
Andy: I see what you're doing, but you can stop your childish game.
Matt: How is it a game to neither affirm or deny your intelligence? Is it a game when you neither affirm or deny God's existence? Why is it okay for you to "lack belief" in God, but I can't "lack belief" in your intelligence?
Andy: You're just trying to be slick, pun intended.
Matt: Thank you.. But I don't see what the problem is with me saying I lack belief in your intelligence. Can you please explain?
Andy: It is a word-game and you're purposely playing it and being offensive.
Matt: I am unclear as to what you mean by me playing a word-game. And, you seem to be trying to read my mind and tell me what I am trying to do. I don't believe you can read my mind. Still, I lack belief that you are smart.
Andy: You're just insulting me for your enjoyment.
Matt: There you go again trying to read my mind. I don't think that's wise. But still, how can I insult you if I just simply lack belief in your intelligence? After all, I'm not saying your intelligence exists or does not exist. I neither affirm or deny that you are intelligent. I don't see any convincing evidence for it. So, why is that an insult?
Andy: There you go. You just said you don't see any evidence of my intelligence. You are saying I'm stupid.
Matt: No, I said I don't see any convincing evidence that you are intelligent. Our conversation is evidence. I'm just not convinced by your statements thusfar.
Andy: I'm getting tired of your stupidity and insults. I'm leaving.
Matt: You can leave if you want. But, if you do, I'll never see any convincing evidence that you're smart, especially if you run away, and I'll be forced to retain my lack of belief in your intelligence.
Andy: I'm not running. I'm just tired of your mockery.
Matt: How is my saying that I don't see any convincing evidence for your intelligence wrong? What is convincing to me is purely subjective, isn't it? Just as you don't see any convincing evidence for God's existence, I don't see any convincing evidence for your intelligence. Think about it. What is sufficient evidence for one person is not sufficient evidence for another. It's all subjective. If I offer you reasons for God's existence all you have to do is say that you're not convinced by the evidence. You need only subject the evidence to your personal preferences and dismiss it. So what is wrong with me doing the same thing and saying that I am not convinced that you have intelligence because I have not seen any convincing evidence for it from you?
Andy: Whatever, like I just said, you're playing word games.
Matt: Is my reasoning not sound? Am I not allowed to have a lack of belief in something just as you lack belief in God? Am I my not allowed to submit the evidence, or lack therefore regarding your intelligence, to my subjective preferences just as you subject evidence for God to your subjective preferences and arrive at your own conclusion? I am simply using a procedure that you yourself employ. Is that wrong?
Andy: I'm not interested in continuing this conversation. You can think whatever you want about me.
Matt: Thank you for that. I lack belief that you can competently respond to what I'm saying.
Andy: Look, you're just trying to find a way to insult me without actually doing it. But I am aware of your word game. It isn't working.
Matt: Perhaps I am playing a word game. Perhaps I am not. But are you saying I'm taking the affirmative position that you are dumb? I hope not since that is not true. I neither affirm or deny your intelligence. I lack belief in it. But, if you say I'm asserting that you are dumb, then your statement that you "lack belief in God" means that you openly deny he exists. So, do you or do you openly deny that God exists?
Andy: Like I said before, I simply lack belief in God's existence.
Matt: And I lack belief in your intelligence.
Andy: And I lack belief in God.
Matt: Quick question, which God do you lack belief in?
Andy: All of them.
Matt: All of them? How many are there?
Andy: It's not an issue of how many there are. It's just that I lack belief in any and all gods.
Matt: It sounds to me like you are openly rejecting all of them, not just neither affirming or denying any of them.
Andy: No, I neither affirm nor deny their existence, and you have not shown me any evidence that any god or gods exist.
Matt: We have a problem. Since I do not affirm or deny that you are intelligent, I also lack belief that you can properly weigh any evidence that is presented to you regarding God's existence because, according to my subjective experience and preferences, I have not seen sufficient evidence from you that convinces me of your objectivity and cognitive prowess. Therefore, I lack belief in your competence and await further dialogue with you. Perhaps further dialogue might subjectively convince me that your intelligence exists or does not exist.
Andy: Ah, but you contradict yourself because you are arguing against me and therefore you are presupposing the coherence of my statements and my intelligence; otherwise, you wouldn't be attempting to argue rationally. Therefore, you refute yourself by assuming that I am competent yet you say you lack belief in my intelligence. Otherwise, you wouldn't respond with your so-called attempted logic.
Matt: First of all, I do not have to presuppose that your statements are coherent in order to argue with you. I could presupposed you are not logical, and argue from that assumption. Second, if I lack belief in your intelligence, then I cannot also presuppose that you're behaving intelligently, otherwise I would not be lacking belief in your intelligence but affirming it, and that would be a contradiction between lack of affirmation and affirmation.
Andy: I'm done playing with you. This is getting us nowhere.
Matt: Did I upset you?
Andy: Oh please. Stop being ridiculous. I'm not upset.
Matt: Are you now stating that you lack being upset?
Andy: Get lost!