As an educational institution, UF pursues justified, true beliefs. We strive to get as close to the truth as possible. To do this, we employ a healthy dose of rational skepticism; we critically analyze all claims, and every theory must contain an element of falsifiability.
So every semester, when that preacher man comes out of his cave and builds that fraternity-knock-off signpost thing on the Plaza of the Americas in an attempt to indoctrinate you, it’s really in your best interest to question him incessantly as a young academic who seeks truth.
We posit that a total and complete belief in God — that which this man argues for — is inconsistent with academic pursuits. On one hand, there’s the desire to apply rational skepticism to our studies: Peer review, constructive debate and competing theories are prevalent. But on the other hand, accepting the belief in the Abrahamic God seems like a face-value commitment. “The Bible is the word of God,” some mutter, “because the Bible tells us so and is infallible.” But why? “We know this because the Bible is the word of God,” they repeat, begging the question. We’re met with a contradiction here; we are encouraged to question the knowledge that we take for granted but also take certain knowledge for granted.
We note the Abrahamic God not only because he’s the one this preacher man claims to exist, but also because this God requires total and certain belief from his believers. According to scripture, he does not accept half-fledged commitments. As a newspaper made by students, we cannot be bold enough to say, in good conscience, that God certainly does not exist. But many reading this will step back and employ the “God exists, and he does not intervene” deistic watchmaker defense, which is absurd. How can one ever prove or disprove this? This claim is simply unfalsifiable. Moreover, even if we grant this defense credence, why should we have any investment in God? If God truly has no impact on our lives, we’d rather live our lives of our own accord than according to a metaphysically inconceivable creature.
The infamous Pascal’s Wager — the same Pascal that the coffeehouse just north of campus is named after — probably has frightened a lot of you into faith. If no god exists, then belief or lack of belief does not matter. If a god does exist, and you acknowledge that belief, then you’ll be saved. On the other hand, if a god exists and you don’t believe, then you’re damned. The only logical conclusion then, is to believe in God: If he doesn’t exist, whatever, and if he does exist, you win.
Don’t you think God sees through your half-committed bulls---? Moreover, if you’re going to play that absurd game, think of this: God gives us little to no evidence of his existence, but he grants us the ability to think critically. There’s an implicit contradiction here. We use this rational thought to feed the starving, heal the sick and employ distributive justice. Despite this, when we employ critical reasoning toward God, he condemns us to a miserable fate. If this is the case, damn us all to hell. As students, we are commanded to practice the critical thinking skills exhibited in the last three examples of argument and counterargument when we encounter men on stools in front of libraries.
With this established, we find it necessary to question any and all claims made by this stool-sitter damning us all as sinners. That’s what college is for — challenging beliefs and encouraging healthy debate.