Next we note the manner in which James Randi addresses the Christian God.
This is a God also that requires to constantly be praised, constantly praised like a petulant child. He wants to constantly be praised, and bowed to, and kneeled to, this sort of thing and, and be feared. Greatly feared because, look what he can do, he can do anything! According to what I've been told about this, this particular deity. I'm talking about the Christian God now. This is a petulant child. Wanting constantly to be catered to, worshipped, kneeled down to all the time. I don't like this God at all.
Even if James Randi felt that he had to critique the Biblical concept of God his words and tone betray more raw and irrational emotion than they demonstrate the rationale of an honest skeptic and researcher. Secondly, his statements are peppered with criticisms based on an anti-supernatural bias.
Christians should keep in mind something that may happen when the general topic of God's existence is being discussed. If the atheist begins to besmirch the Bible and the character of the God it presents the Christian can point out that even if the Bible is not the word of God and is utterly unreliable in every way, this would not mean that God does not exist-it would only mean that one particular theology is inaccurate.
Let us note something that Jason Gastrich touched upon which is that praising, catering to, worshiping and kneeling down to God is not simply a one sided act done to a needy God who is in need of an ego boost. Human beings tend to seek something higher than themselves to look up to, to praise, to cater, to worship and to kneel to. This generally comes in the form of a deity or in some impersonal higher plain or spirit within or in the case of atheism; nature worship. In the case of atheism it may also be philosophers, professors, scientists or simply whom they behold in their mirrors. If God exists praise and worship is rightly offered to Him. If humans are going to praise and worship they ought to offer it to the proper object. Moreover, exactly what is wrong if a side effect of praise and worship is human fulfillment? After all, Richard Dawkins claims the same, and more, of atheism.
Now I will offer the confessions of an introvert as a metaphor for understanding whether or not God is a needy petulant child or even that He created humanity because He was lonely and lacked something. I am an introvert; in my youth I thought that I could get girls to like me not by talking to them but by withdrawing and looking lonely. As it turned out they would think it looks like he wants to be alone. But when I got older I realized that, as an introvert, I did not "need" friends. That is to say that I never chose my friends based on who was there for me when I need them. This is because as a pretty extreme introvert I did not "need" them. If I had a problem I dealt with it by myself. I chose my friends on the simple basis of whom I enjoyed being with, they were not truly required so serve any need. I understand that some would claim that my apparent "need" for enjoyable people demonstrates that something was lacking in me and that I did require companionship. Well, maybe you do not know what being an extreme introvert is like. Then again, there may very well be some validity to that criticism after all, I am a mere mortal and do enjoy the friendship of various personages. However, I think that it is problematic to take God's anthropomorphic descriptions of His own "emotions" and make a one to one analogy to our own emotions. For one, our emotions are affected by many things to which the God of the Bible is not subject such as: misunderstandings, chemical imbalances, the influence of pharmaceuticals, prejudices, depression, etc., etc. Moreover, the God of the Bible is a triune being, a Trinity, and thus has never, ever, for all of eternity lacked relationship (this was detailed during my debate with an atheist).
Now, we will point out what is perhaps the epitome of James Randi's abandonment of rationale for full-fledged emotionally charged outbursts:
I know that they'll also say they're gonna pray for me, this is the most condescending, patronizing thing that I hear anybody say and I get very angry when I hear it. So please don't tell me you're going to pray for me… I'm getting really tired about this, ah, this, this patronizing thing ah, and I'm, I'm, growing more and more impatient with it all the time. People are going to pray for me and to bless me
Let us momentarily grant that Christians are as ignorant, diluted, superstitious and irrational as James Randi thinks that they are. Is he really incapable of understanding that what people are saying to him in stating, "I'm going to pray for you"? He could take it to mean I give you my best, or I wish you the best, or good luck, or I'll be thinking about you, or I love you so much that I want things to go well for you, etc. He could take it to mean any number of well meaning sentiments but he chooses to be "very angry" about people wishing him well. What more is there to be said?
At one point in the interview Jason Gastrich told James Randi about a time in his life when he was suffering serious problems with his vision. Jason Gastrich expressed that he prayed to God about the situation and that his vision was restored. James Randi asked just how restored vision could be attributed to answered prayer. He stated that perhaps it was changing peanut butter brands that cause the restoration of his vision.
Atheists disregard supernatural stories that have some validity to them and simply tell naturalistic stories that have no validity to them. Notice that while we may not be able to prove that his vision was restored due to an answered prayer all that James Randi can offer is virtually an infinite number of possible reasons for the restoration. Perhaps it was new peanut butter, or 2½ glasses of water per day, or the alignments of the planets, or pineapple and anchovies on the same pizza, etc. Since he is an atheist he cannot be a true freethinker and must restrict his thoughts to the material alone. In other words, while on the surface James Randi's response may seem validly skeptical we note two further points.
Apparently, someone could tell James Randi that their cancer was brought to remission due to chemotherapy and he would ask them if they had recently changed peanut butter brands. Doctors could conduct experiments that sought to ascertain whether chemotherapy caused the cancer to remit or not. But could they prove that it was not the peanut butter, or chemotherapy plus peanut butter, or chemotherapy plus patchouli incense? Another favorite pseudo-skeptical response to spontaneous healing is claiming psychosomaticism. This response may or may not be valid, although it surely is a convenient evidence-less answer.
Again, we may not be able to prove miraculous healing by answered prayer. But we have gotten a window into the mind of a person who has a strong faith based belief in materialism. C. S. Lewis, a former atheist, offered the following response to David Hume's arguments against miracles:
Now of course we must agree with Hume that if there is absolutely 'uniform experience' against miracles, if in other words they have never happened, why then they never have. Unfortunately we know the experience against them to be uniform only if we know that all the reports of them are false. And we can know all the reports to be false only if we know already that miracles have never occurred. In fact, we are arguing in a circle.1
The atheist presupposes that no miracles occur and so no claim of a miracle can be valid. The Christian can take a more liberal view in believing that while some claimed miracles are hoaxes or misunderstandings, some are valid. Ultimately, atheists commit this same logical fallacy when dealing with the issue of God's existence. Since God does not exist there can be no evidence of God's existence and since God's existence has not been evidenced then God does not exist. No one has had an experience with God because God does not exist and since we know that God does not exist we simply dismiss all claims to experiences with God as illusory, mistaken, hoax, etc.
Incidentally, if someone's vision problems were healed by a miracle from God they could really care less than an atheist is unsatisfied with the lack of evidence-they are just busy praising God for the healing.
For years James Randi has put forth a front of unbiased interest in evidence, reason and experimentation. Yet, we find that mere minutes into a discussion with a Christian, the veneer falls away and the emotionally driven prejudice is fully exposed.
Let us pray for him.
1. C. S. Lewis, Miracles (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1947), p. 123
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