Bad metaphors are bad

Yesterday I received a request to help take apart the argument in this image:
20120127-120530.jpg
This argument relies on a series of false analogies to insinuate that it is wrong to not believe in a god. It starts by drawing the following comparisons:

  • birth – death
  • Mom – God
  • normal life (after birth) – life in heaven (after death)


So let’s tackle this in order.
Birth and death are not equal
The comparison between birth and death is a terrible one. Birth is a developmental milestone. When an individual is born, they keep their body; as opposed to death, which is the ceasing of the functioning of the body. Putting aside the problem of fetuses asking such a ridiculous question, there would be evidence to the fetus of life outside of the womb. Really, this question is more like asking “do you think there is life after I leave my house?”

It’s better to believe in Mom
Let’s continue to accept that the fetuses in this scenario are capable of all of the faculties that a fully formed adult human being has, with all of the sensory functioning that goes with it. To these fetuses, there would be plenty of evidence for Mom. For one, they are connected via umbilical cord to Mom. This is a huge difference that cannot be ignored. This is a physical connection, it is tangible. There is no such connection to any god. Some will argue for a spiritual connection, however, this connection is not something that everybody has, and there isn’t evidence that this connection is more than just in the head of the believer. There would be lots of other evidence for Mom too, such as her ever present heartbeat and her voice. These would be observable things that would leave any logical thinking person to conclude that Mom is in fact real.

The evidence for life after birth (not live afterbirth)
To the fetuses, there would be evidence that life occurs outside the womb. The voices of others would be a big tip-off. As well as occasional physical interactions of people touching and placing their hands on the outside of the womb.

With these poor comparisons, the argument is made that just as it is silly for a fetus not to believe in mom, it should be equally silly for us to not believe in God. However, as I have demonstrated, there should be plenty of evidence for all of the things our little atheist fetus doesn’t believe in, unlike any of the gods that are out there. There has yet to be provided any demonstrable evidence for any deity. This image does a very poor job of making an argument in the favor of theism.

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4 responses to “Bad metaphors are bad

  • Chucky

    I think it’s a good metaphor.

    > To the fetuses, there would be evidence that life occurs outside the womb. The voices of others would be a big tip-off.

    You’re hearing voices? You are insane. Seriously, some people even claim to clearly heard mum, but what’s more likely, that mums exist or that they’re lying? Remember extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. A few crazy people hearing voices is not extraordinary evidence.

    > For one, they are connected via umbilical cord to Mom.

    The umbilical chord is uncaused. There is no reason for it, it just is.What you’re offering is a mum of the gaps argument.

    > Really, this question is more like asking “do you think there is life after I leave my house?”

    I agree. It makes atheist ethics clear too: Abortions are fine because it’s ethical to kill people indoors.

    • skepticole

      1. Remember that for this scenario to work, the fetuses must have full sensory abilities. In utero, they would most certainly hear their mothers voice. Further, their mothers voice would be evident to both of them at the same time. I realize that many people claim to hear the voice of god, however this is not an externally verifiable claim. Your comment on this reads as though it waffles about, I’m not really sure what the point you a trying to argue is.

      In regards to the umbilical cord beings mom of the gaps, I really don’t follow your logic here. the umbilical cord is uncaused? It is a part of their world, with a direct connection to their mother. How do they know there is a mother? They are physically attached to her.

      As for your atheist ethics comment, you obviously don’t understand atheism, or the point of this exercise. Abortion and ethics were not a part of the initial conversation, and you are making an extension that is uncalled for. Further, there isn’t really one set of atheist ethics, as there isn’t an atheist dogma. For me, personally, I find early term abortion perfectly acceptable, and up until the point of viability outside the womb. This means that as science and technology advances, the window for abortion is pushed back. However, I also think that it is a choice for the parents to make. Also, outright murder is abhorrent. There is, however, a gigantic difference between a fetus and a fully formed human being. This is a much bigger convention for another time though, and if history is any informer, something that will never be settled between two people of opposing viewpoints in the comment section of a blog post.

  • Monica Mendez

    “The evidence for life after birth (not live afterbirth)”

    Thanks for clearing that up! lol

  • Chucky

    > Further, their mothers voice would be evident to both of them at the same time. I realize that many people claim to hear the voice of god, however this is not an externally verifiable claim.

    Right, and so as a mum-atheist I don’t accept you hearing voices as evidence. Why do you not accept that Jesus resurrection is evidence Christianity is true? We have multiple witnesses claiming to have seen him alive after he’s died. We have twins hearing the same mum’s voice. Why deny one, but not the other?

    The reason most often given is: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. But the claim that mums exist is extraordinary, and so anyone claiming they’ve seen or heard a mum is either lying or their minds are playing tricks on them.

    > the umbilical cord is uncaused?

    Yes. To quote Sagan again, “the womb is all that has ever, or will ever exist”. We don’t have any reason think there’s anything “outside” the womb. So even talking about a mum outside the womb is just absurd. Demanding an end of the umbillical chord which lies “outside” is just nonsense.

    You don’t believe that most people in the world are your mother. I just believe in one mother less than you do.

    > This is a much bigger convention for another time though, and if history is any informer, something that will never be settled between two people of opposing viewpoints in the comment section of a blog post.

    Sorry, that was a low blow. I’ve been reading atheist blogs, and they make me upset (particularly when they’re rude about Christians). I shouldn’t have taken it out on you. Please accept my apology.

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