Talk:Atheist professor myth

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Davis Aurini version?~[edit]

I vote no, but added here:

One cold English morning, Karl Marx was giving a lecture at a local university on the principles of socialism and his critique of capitalism. He and his class had covered almost everything, from the LTV and the price of linen to the concept of alienation. Marx was satisfied that he had thoroughly banished classical economic theory to a footnote in world history, and that his flawless theory of history would surely awaken his students to the very real problem of class. Wrapping up his lecture, Marx made a point of asking his class "any questions, queries or concerns?". To his surprise, a young student lifted his hand high in the air in defiant enthusiasm. "But what about human nature!", the student exclaimed while clutching a copy of Fountainhead under his arm. Marx was startled by this doctrine, and he dropped his chalk and copy of Lectures on Aesthetics, the pages of which spilled over the floor with a thud. In all his years of research, he had never considered the blatant fact that humans always behave selfishly, and are inherently uncooperative beings. He left the hall in tears as all of his students laughed hysterically at the ignorance of the dirty old man. Retaking his seat, the young rational resumed his reading of Fountainhead. The students name? Davis Aruni, noted correct person, racist magician and man of science. And they all lived in eternal happiness. The End.

The FCP Foundation (talk/stalk)

By definition[edit]

Anybody going through the process of degree, postgrad, doctorate, postdoc, professor of (philosophical and related topics) teaching classes in which this question could arise who has not considered this question and developed at least one answer (to cover several contexts) is probably not a good professor. (talk) 10:18, 3 July 2017 (UTC)

Less ridiculous version[edit]

I read this a few years ago on someone’s website, but I can’t remember who. I thought it was the liberal evangelical who wrote a book-length takedown of Left Behind, but I can’t find it. So anyway, I’ll paraphrase from memory:

A professor of philosophy, in his intro class, always launched into the section on theology with a demonstration: He would stand on his desk and yell “O God, if you exist and don’t want me to teach this section, use your infinite power to knock me off this desk. If you don’t, we’ll know that it’s safe for my students to listen, even if some of them are fundamentalist Christians or anything else that might give them doubts on that score.” For 30 years he’d never been pushed off his desk, and often his questions had ultimately led some unprepared students to doubt their faith, whether that was his intention or not. But one year, when he tried it, a hand shot up. “Yes, what is it?” asked the professor. The student replied:
”Sir, I am a Christian. I believe that God created me, and that all purposes are ultimately God’s purposes unless chosen out of sin. So if I push you off the table, that would count as God pushing off the table, just as if a thunderbolt did it. If you really need me to push you I can do so, of course, but my religion teaches me not to be violent unnecessarily—you’ve heard the turn the other cheek I story, right?—and—“
”No, point taken. And really, every part of that makes sense. I guess you win; if you want us to skip the section on religion—“
”Oh no, sir. no true knowledge can shake my faith, and god won’t let me be fooled by falsehoods as long as I’m careful. And frankly, if all your points are this lazy, with me here, I don’t think it will be a danger for anyone else to listen, and it may in fact be instructive.”
And that year, not a single student lost his faith over the professor’s questions.

This doesn't prove that God is real, prove an atheist conspiracy against believers, prove that all atheists are assholes but fortunately they’re even bigger idiots, etc., but then neither does the original. And this one has a point it actually achieves: it shows that a well-prepared believer can defeat at least lazy sophistry, and it’s worth doing so instead of shutting your ears, because shutting your ears doesn’t help the other people you’re supposed to be evangelizing to. Of course still doesn’t address the big question, that Muslim student could say the exact same things and go on to preserve a whole class’s faith in Islam in the exact same way, or a Wiccan, etc. And, more importantly, it’s not ridiculously funny to everyone outside the in-group... — (talk) 17:07, 15 February 2018 (UTC)

The more one thinks about it[edit]

… the more illogical the story is.

A few seconds on the Albert Einstein Wikipedia page shows that he was unlikely to have asked the question (wrong sort of academic study environment) - and as said above #any# 'academic level philosophy (of science) teacher' who has not been exposed to 'the concept of evil' (in the Western tradition environment) and has not come up with answers for various types of strawman-question-posers would be thoroughly incompetent. Anna Livia (talk) 11:27, 8 July 2018 (UTC)

Next version[edit]

It is the last lecture at the end of term. The atheist professor who teaches a course on the underpinnings of philosophical worldviews looks at the assembled students.

'I know a number of you feel very strongly about your religious opinions - yet none of you have challenged me, as an atheist, about the problem of evil. If you wish to continue this course, prepare an essay on Atheism and the Problem of Evil.' 'Actually,' said one of the students in question, 'we were going to discuss the topic with you down the pub, The Goat and Compasses.'

Anna Livia (talk) 11:55, 16 January 2019 (UTC)

Another case against[edit]

For the story to 'make sense' the class in question would have to be in 'philosophy/cultural ideas etc.'

It would probably take 10+ years to go from 'starting a degree' to 'becoming a lecturing professor', and said academic will have to publish papers etc to justify their continued employment/tenure: so either the professor will have to devise a set speech/screed 'reconciling atheism and the problem of evil. '

After the incident described the students will wonder - if the professor 'with all his research, writings, discussions with fellow academics and teaching of students has not considered the problem of evil until now, what else haven't we been taught?' and start a class action lawsuit/spouting to their followers on the various media - and the university in question would be rather narked.

And [1] might be apposite here. Anna Livia (talk) 11:38, 24 May 2019 (UTC)

So - Does evil exist?[edit]

I think the RW response to the story may be taking the premise a little too much for granted. The question, "does evil exist should probably not be glossed over so quickly. I'm not sure that the putative professor of (presumably) philosophy would not have spent some time considering what we mean by "evil" before asking the question.Hubert (talk) 09:52, 19 September 2019 (UTC)

Yes, there's certainly a lot of debate about whether evil exists (other than as an absence of good), and this adds to the implausibility of the whole story. The article could mention this. --Annanoon (talk) 09:58, 19 September 2019 (UTC)
There are 'courses of action' which people generally regard as being evil or malicious etc (causing death, destruction, pain etc etc) - someone chooses to do those things (without there being other factors). Would not the atheist professor ask - is there an external influencer, and if so who or why, and if a matter of choice, why? Anna Livia (talk) 16:44, 14 October 2019 (UTC)

The Seal[edit]

Knows he would face instant dismissal from the service along with military and civil court actions for doing something like that (and possibly armed police treating him as A Dangerous Person) #and# the professor would sue him (and possibly the military) for megabucks, with the students suing him, the college and the military for the trauma and PTSD caused.

Or would it not work like that? Anna Livia (talk) 11:57, 21 February 2020 (UTC)

No duh the Navy SEAL version describes would lead to civil assault charges as well as being potentially punished by court martial, confinement, and dishonorable discharge. However, there are certainly a lot of Internet tough guys out there that seem to have not read their Bible very much and think being an aggressive asshole is what Jesus would approve of. (Biblical reality: Jesus only got noticeably pissed off once in the Bible, that during the cleansing of the temple incidentWikipedia, and even in *that* incident many interpretations believe that it wasn't a *violent* anger.)
Unfamiliar with US-military procedures and particular procedures unbecoming whether or not he was an officer (he is certainly not a gentleman). Anna Livia (talk) 23:31, 21 February 2020 (UTC)

Every time I read this it irritates me.[edit]

Because, as is mentioned above, the article assumes that "evil" is a real thing. A noun rather than an adjective.

But, used as a noun like this, it's really a religious concept. So once you accept the existence of "evil" as a thing you are already arguing theology. Pretty obviously the putative atheist professor wouldn't have gone down that track, or at least he would challenge the concept.

I would like to find some way to insert this into the article but, given the thrust of the thing at the moment I can't see a way to do it without rewriting it wholesale. Am I mussing something? Can someone smarter than me find a way to insert the objection (if it's valid)?Bob"Life is short and (insert adjective)" 18:19, 4 July 2020 (UTC)

Nothing escapes to you, it seems.[edit]

I caught this, the Einstein version, on the Fundie station I know of several months ago. I smelled something fishy with it, so I did not take said story very seriously until I found it here exactly word by word.

The pastor who brought it forth is one who claims to be a retired philosophy teacher. Besides being a Biblical literalist with all that entails, namely creationism, it is quite telling the extremes such people will reach to keep the sheeps happy and contained -even someone who given his claimed background should be much more honest.- Panzerfaust (talk) 15:05, 2 August 2020 (UTC)