The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Quotes on atheism

Some quotes on atheism, from the March/April 2008 issue of Modern Reformation magazine:

A little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion. — Francis Bacon

If there were no God, there would be no atheists. — G.K. Chesterton

A god who let us prove his existence would be an idol. — Dietrich Bonhoeffer

It amazes me to find an intelligent person who fights against something which he does not at all believe exists. — Mohandas Gandhi

To sustain the belief that there is no God, atheism has to demonstrate infinite knowledge, which is tantamount to saying, “I have infinite knowledge that there is no being in existence with infinite knowledge.” — Ravi Zacharias

Grace and Peace

July 31, 2008 - Posted by | Apologetics, Christianity

31 Comments »

  1. Zacharias’ quote addresses a straw man. I (and virtually every other non-believer) would change our mind if there were a compelling reason to do so. Our position is NOT that there is no god, but rather, we find no evidence for there being one.

    On Gandhi’s quote: We don’t rebel against God, we rebel against believers who wish to influence public policy and education on the basis of what has all the earmarks of mythology. Believe anything you want, just don’t demand that our government believe it.

    On Chesterton: Exactly true. ‘Atheist’ is merely a-theist or “without theism” . Without theists, the term atheist couldn’t exist. ‘Theist’ is a thing. ‘Atheist’ is not a thing.

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    Comment by Mike (FVThinker) Burns | July 31, 2008

  2. Bacon- Belief should be about evidence, not philosophy.

    Dietrich – A God who would be proven would be real, and hence NOT an idol. Idols are man made objects venerated in some way. Provability has nothing to do with it.

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    Comment by Samuel Skinner | July 31, 2008

  3. Mike, thanks for your comment.

    I don’t see a straw man in Zacharias’s quote. He is speaking against atheism here, I believe, not against agnosticism. Dogmatic atheism doesn’t have much to stand on. I don’t agree with you that most non-believers would change their mind if there were a compelling reason to do so, because their reasons for rejecting God usually don’t just include “evidence”. The evidence is there, in creation and in Christ, but non-believers often close their minds to this because they don’t want to open themselves up to the possibility of there being a God to whom they will be accountable to. As my philosophy of science professor told me: “you have good evidence for the existence of God, but I’d rather not go that way, because I want to live as I please.” I’m not saying that Christians are moral and that atheists are immoral. My theological position is that we’re all immoral. Christians acknowledge (or should acknowledge) their immorality and cling to Christ as their savior. Atheists generally either say that their is no such thing as immorality (no absolute foundation for ethics), or find some way to artificially redefine morality (e.g. social contract ethics).

    Regarding Gandhi’s quote: The dogmatic atheists (Hawkins et al.) and their disciples, are in rebellion against God, not just against Christianity. It is one thing to oppose “the Christian right” (I oppose some of these same things) but one can be a Christian without being part of “the Christian right”. If it is certain political views that a person opposes, that shouldn’t stop one from being a Christian. Additionally, it is not wrong for one segment of society, such as Christians, to promote their moral values as a basis for a just society. As a Christian, I believe it is wrong to steal, lie, or murder, and I believe it would be foolish for me to accept a government that tolerates these things when it is in my power to do so. This is why I oppose abortion on demand, not just for . I also opposed the invasion of Iraq (on pragmatic grounds). Because of my comprehensive theology of creation, I favor strong environmental regulations, and cutting back on our selfish consumption of resources. I’ll push for these things, even if there are others who oppose them.

    Regarding Chesterton’s quote: I sort of see what you are saying, but not really.

    Thanks again.

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    Comment by geochristian | July 31, 2008

  4. Samuel, thanks for your comment.

    Regarding Bacon’s quote, I believe it is valid. Evidence and philosophy are not two exclusive options; they go hand in hand. We tend to think of evidence as a neutral item, just as we think of observation as neutral. But it has been demonstrated that evidence and observation are often skewed by one’s world view, i.e. one’s philosophy. Philosophy, in this case, addresses how we view the evidence, and what we do with it. Belief is, in part, about evidence–and I believe there is plenty of evidence for the existence of God–but that evidence always runs through the filter of one’s philosophy.

    Regarding the Bonhoeffer quote, I acknowledge that it may be the weakest of my quotes. I put it in to stimulate thought. One piece of truth in the quote, however, is the infinite nature of God compared to the finite nature of humanity. If we could completely figure out God, he would be no bigger than the idols men construct that cannot hear, speak, or act.

    Thanks again.

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    Comment by geochristian | July 31, 2008

  5. I don’t know a single non-believer that explicitly says “there is no god and I’m sticking to my story…no matter what.” It may seem that way sometimes. With the complete and utter dearth of evidence for the supernatural, people do tend to start talking in generalities. I say that there is no god, but on a technical level we are all agnostics. That is true for all the other dead gods of history…I am technically agnostic. Argument theory 101 says that you cannot disprove a negative. I cannot say that that Zeus does not exist, but I can run my life as though he doesn’t.

    We clearly have our bars set at different levels for what qualifies as evidence.

    Re: Chesterton: Common usage foisted on the term atheist makes it a ‘thing’. An amoral person in opposition to God. Technically correct usage is far simpler…just not a theist. To see how silly it is to attribute value to the term ‘atheist’, if I told you my hair color was a-blond, what would that tell you? Almost nothing.

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    Comment by Mike (FVThinker) Burns | August 1, 2008

  6. Thanks again for your comment, Mike.

    Regarding: “the complete and utter dearth of evidence for the supernatural.”

    The universe exists, and that is strong evidence for the existence of a Creator. Philosophically, this is the cosmological argument (why is there something rather than nothing?) and it makes a strong case for the existence of God. I won’t go into it here; I wrote about the cosmological argument a few weeks ago on this blog, and I know there are others who could write more persuasively on it. I recently read about the atheist response to the cosmological argument on richarddawkins.net, and the atheist writer didn’t even get the argument right, so whatever followed was faulty.

    Life exists, and that is strong evidence for the existence of a Creator. I write that as a geologist who has taken paleontology, and who has read extensively on the origin of life. (I am not a young-earth creationist, accept only parts of what the ID folks say, and have no problem with most of evolutionary theory). Could life have come from non-life on the early Earth? That is an open scientific question, but a lot of the evidence points against this happening (unless one supposes that it must have happened). Even if life could have originated by natural means, how did the laws of the universe just happen to be set so that life could originate?

    To fall back on multiple parallel universes to answer either of these is a cop-out, and less worthy of scientific consideration than anything that has come out of ID.

    I could go into many other arguments for the existence of God:
    –The design argument that convinced Antony Flew that there must be a God of some sort.
    –The moral argument that convinced C.S. Lewis to convert from atheism to Christianity.
    –Fulfilled prophesies of Scriptures, such as the description of Christ’s crucifixion given in Isaiah 53, written 700 years before the event.
    –The incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    But most of us don’t make their decisions based solely on “evidence;” there are other factors that come into play. Evidence is important to you. It is important to me as well, and I think the evidence leans heavily on the side of there being a God. Can I prove the existence of God? I don’t think so (due to my own limitations). Can you prove that God doesn’t exist? I think you have much less of a chance of proving this than I have of demonstrating the reasonableness of the existence of God.

    Thanks again for your thoughts; I welcome the dialog.

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    Comment by geochristian | August 1, 2008

  7. geo
    Evidence exists independantly of philosophy- waht you are talking about is bias. When the evidence stays the same, but people’s conclusion changes, something is fishy.

    In this case the claim that more philosophy makes a person a theist.

    A more valid argument is that a class about blind spots and the scientific method would change your mind- it is the sort of class that makes you examine your beliefs for error.

    As for the “infinite God is above our understanding”… look up in the sky at night. The blackness? That is infinity. No really! It is a possibility that it goes on forever. Of course, we don’t see that.

    Mike
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FlatEarthAtheist
    That is what you are talking about

    geo
    The cosmological argument is thusly-
    All things that exist have a cause
    The universe exists
    The universe has a cause
    However the universe is the end of the line
    Therefore it most have a uncaused cause- God

    The problem is that premise two is false- not all things have a cause. It is assumed that God doesn’t, but it applies as well to the universe. Occum’s Razor means we have to choose the explanation with the fewest parts that has the maximum explanatory power and that would be the universe, not God is self caused.

    The second is known as the fine tuning argument- everything was just right for life. The problem is that it is based on the assumption that 1 Life is special and 2 Things could be differant. There is no reason to believe either of these assumptions are true.

    As for the begining of life and evolution- they have that well cracked. How life started is still unknown, but theories continue to proliferate and evidence continues to grow. This is a new one:
    http://www.world-science.net/exclusives/050809_icefrm.htm

    The argument that convinced Flew was the fine tuning.

    The moral argument is that you need God to support morality. Unfortunately it was refuted two and a half milenia by Plato- it is known as the Euthyphro dilemma. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthyphro_dilemma

    It boils down to the fact that the standard God sets can’t be arbitrary and since it isn’t you can arrive at it independantly.

    The previous passage has the Lord promising that he would take back Jeursalem AND states that his servant will be hidiously deformed.
    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=29&chapter=52&version=31

    As for the New Testament…
    http://www.rationalresponders.com/forums/rookhawkins/jesusmythicistcampaign
    There are people who don’t believe Jesus existed as a real person.

    Like

    Comment by Samuel Skinner | August 1, 2008

  8. The universe exists, and that is strong evidence for the existence of a Creator.

    This argument fails on a number of ways. Most importantly, it distills down to I “I don’t know how/why it happened, therefore God did it.” which is an invalid line of reasoning. I can’t trot out “My car won’t start, therefore God did it.” without getting sideways glances.

    Life exists, and that is strong evidence for the existence of a Creator.

    Again: “I don’t know, therefore God did it.” Granted; we don’t know what created the first self-replicating entity (proto-life), but there were all the building blocks, plenty of energy (sun, earth’s core, tidal forces) and plenty of time for things to happen. I don’t expect that we will create life from non-life in our vanishingly brief time here (our demise possibly hastened by some very religious folk), but that is not the point. We scientists don’t claim we know how life came about, just that it is invalid to claim that anyone DOES know.

    Even if life could have originated by natural means, how did the laws of the universe just happen to be set so that life could originate?

    This always seemed a red-herring to me. The forms of life that WE know work with the physical laws that have. Who knows how many other iterations of the universe have come and gone and may occur in the future (the Yo-Yo Universe model)? Maybe the physical laws would be different and different life forms could be supported. This folds back into the perception of design even though there is no design.

    To fall back on multiple parallel universes to answer either of these is a cop-out, and less worthy of scientific consideration than anything that has come out of ID.

    I agree. I never found the Multiverse model intellectually satisfying. I can’t say that it’s not a reasonable representation, it is just too abstract for me to hang my hat on it.

    The design argument that convinced Antony Flew that there must be a God of some sort.

    I read Flew. He states, specifically, that he went from non-belief to deism. I’m cool with that, since the deistic position conflicts with no evidence. While I personally don’t find deism a valid placeholder for things that I don’t know; deism cannot create the societal divisions that theistic belief can.

    The moral argument that convinced C.S. Lewis to convert from atheism to Christianity.

    There are no right and wrong answers with philosophical arguments. There is boo-coo evidence of [proto]-ethics in other species, so to attribute morality to a god seems pretty weak to me.

    Fulfilled prophesies of Scriptures, such as the description of Christ’s crucifixion given in Isaiah 53, written 700 years before the event.

    Compelling only to those that already believe the story. What was I saying about where we set the bar for evidence?

    The incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

    Uhhhhhhh…….rrrrrriiiiiiigggghhhtt

    Can you prove that God doesn’t exist? I think you have much less of a chance of proving this than I have of demonstrating the reasonableness of the existence of God.

    That is not my responsibility. Argument theory 101 says that you cannot disprove a negative. The onus is on the believer.

    Thanks again for your thoughts; I welcome the dialog.

    I always enjoy these dialogs.

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    Comment by Mike (FVThinker) Burns | August 1, 2008

  9. Very nice quotes… i particularly liked Gandhi’s comment…

    What atheist do not get at all is that while they try to disproof a proof – they themselves have nothing to prove but only to disprove…..

    Its interesting because an atheist asks – “Prove that there is God” ..

    how about an atheist going ahead and “Proving that there indeed is NO GOD..” they seem to be obsessed about disproof alone…

    Atheism gives no meaning to life and fails to answer any REAL question… it truly embodies the irresponsible behavior of modern thought… and its incapacity to answer the questions burning the common man…

    a related post here…
    http://nixam.wordpress.com/2008/07/25/the-shape-of-thought/

    Like

    Comment by nixam | August 2, 2008

  10. Nixam,
    Thanks for so succinctly demonstrating the simplicity of thought and bigotry that theistic belief too often embodies. It is not the responsibility of the non-believers to disprove your god. Argument theory says that you cannot disprove a negative. To throw that out as a challenge is either a subtrifuge by someone who knows they lack a good argument or lack of understanding. How would you go about disproving Zeus or unicorns or trolls?

    You say that the lack of belief fails to answer “REAL” questions. To a point, I agree. The non-believer only claims answers for things they have evidence for. For questions where no evidence exists, we don’t make things up like the theistic believer. To claim knowledge where no evidence exists, frankly, is arrogance or delusion.

    More importantly, the empirical non-believer actually searches for real answers instead of squashing research by positing the supernatural. Empiricism will ALWAYS provide more REAL answers that god-belief.

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    Comment by Mike (FVThinker) Burns | August 3, 2008

  11. Ok Mike .. great… sorry i wasted some words there…

    “To claim knowledge where no evidence exists, frankly, is arrogance or delusion.” hmm

    Define “Good” using evidence alone…

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    Comment by nixam | August 3, 2008

  12. I actually have a definition of ‘good’, but it wouldn’t satisfy those that need stone-table absolutes. My definition, though, doesn’t overstep what we actually know.

    I will share it with you, as soon as you disprove the existence of unicorns.

    Like

    Comment by Mike (FVThinker) Burns | August 4, 2008

  13. correction: that should have read “stone-tablet” absolutes.

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    Comment by Mike (FVThinker) Burns | August 4, 2008

  14. Mike,

    My statement “the universe exists, and that is strong evidence for the existence of a Creator” does not distill down to “I don’t know how/why it happened, therefore God did it.” This is because the statement is not an argument from ignorance, but an argument from knowledge. I know the universe exists. We also believe (based on science) that the universe had a beginning. I know that every event that we observe in the universe has a cause. This can even be said at the quantum level; though the causality obeys different laws than at the macroscopic level. So, by observation, events have causes. The beginning of the universe was an event, and this event had to have a cause. The universe did not create itself, and if there is a multiverse behind the universe, it did not create itself either. Again, this is not a God-of-the-gaps argument from ignorance.

    My statement “life exists, and that is strong evidence for the existence of a Creator” is similar. Again, this is not an argument based on our ignorance, but on our knowledge. We have an idea of the complexity of even the most “primitive” life. With our current state of knowledge–which is no longer a state of ignorance–only a presupposition that states that life must have formed purely by natural causes would lead one to the conclusion that it did indeed do so.

    You referred to “other iterations of the universe” with different sets of laws (and you think ID is speculative?), yet in the next paragraph you state that you find the concept of multiverses lacking. You are being inconsistent.

    Whether Flew converted to deism or theism (I haven’t read his works; some say his deism looks more like theism than deism), he did so based on evidence!, which you say is totally lacking. Perhaps it isn’t quite so lacking after all.

    Is “Uhhhhhhh…….rrrrrriiiiiiigggghhhtt” all you can say about Jesus Christ? Read C.S. Lewis or other Christian thinkers, unless you are satisfied with remaining in close-minded ignorance about Jesus.

    I think that arguing about the existence of God is different than debating about the existence of Zeus, unicorns, or trolls. The latter three are things inside of creation (even Zeus). I could look over 99.99% of the Earth, and there could still be that 0.01% of the Earth where I haven’t looked where the unicorns could be hiding. None of the classic arguments for the existence of God or for the truthfulness of Christianity are this type of argument, so the comparison is not valid. I’m not turning every stone looking for God, because he is not hiding under any stones.

    God, in the Christian understanding, is outside the universe, not part of it. But he does interact with it and sustain it, and he has even entered into it. Again, that leads us back to Jesus Christ, God in the flesh.

    Thanks again for your participation.

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    Comment by geochristian | August 4, 2008

  15. Samuel,

    I apologize: your comment was hiding in my spam folder for some reason, so it didn’t show up for a day.

    “Evidence exists independently of philosophy.” This is absolutely not true, as anyone who has read a book on philosophy of science would know. Take, for example, the “evidence” for geocentrism (the universe revolves around the Earth). Until the 1500s-1600s (Copernicus to Galileo), all the “evidence” pointed towards a static, non-rotating Earth. We don’t get motion sickness, the Sun, Moon and stars trace a path across the sky; birds didn’t get left behind as the Earth moved, etc… This was the “evidence” that virtually all “scientists” accepted, and were the reasons why it took 100 years to go from geocentrism to heliocentrism. Philosophy asks questions like “what is evidence?”

    Regarding blind spots: The “scientific method” arose within a Christian framework, and so it would be foolish to say that knowing the scientific method better would remove my “blind spots.”

    Regarding causality: You say “not all things have a cause.” Name one event that has ever been observed that doesn’t have a cause preceding it.

    Regarding Occam’s razor: I can’t see how an uncaused universe is simpler than an uncaused God. Those are really the only two options, and an uncaused universe violates its own laws of thermodynamics and causality.

    Regarding the origin of life: I try to keep up with the latest ideas as they come out, and the one you linked to isn’t new. There is still a huge gap between life and non-life, and I don’t think the researchers are getting as close as they would like us to believe. I admire the tenacity of these guys. Christians are accused of believing in a God-of-the-gaps. But what if, in this case, the gap is real? I agree that we do not have final answers on this.

    Regarding the Euthyprhro dilemma: Perhaps Plato stated a false dichotomy? Cannot morality and God be so closely related that both “what is good/moral is good/moral because God says so” and “God commands what is good/moral because it is good/moral” are both true statements?

    Regarding Isaiah 52-53: Yes, the exiled captives returned to Jerusalem with joy. Yes, the suffering savior was hideously beaten (as the Lamb of God who was crucified for your sins and mine). I don’t see your point at all.

    Regarding the people who don’t believe Jesus existed: Yes, you could use the same great reasoning to argue that Napoleon Bonaparte never existed. This must be the far fringe of atheist web sites.

    Thanks for your contributions.

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    Comment by geochristian | August 4, 2008

  16. I am fine with the proclamation that every event has a cause. Everything in our observable universe seems to have obeyed that tenant. Let me be very clear…my only problem is in the proclamation of knowledge of what that cause was. Science has, indeed, located a region in space and all matter is flying away from that point. This point is where the ‘big bang’ occurred. Everything in our universe after that event looks as though no god or gods were involved. Matter coalesced and galaxies and stars and planets and moons formed and the universe looks just as it would if no intelligence were intervened. So from my perspective; not one other event in our 14,000,000,000 year old universe seems to have a supernatural cause…so how is it that I could calmly say that going one fraction of a second earlier required intelligence. The most that can authoritatively said, is that ‘something’ happened. I am vastly more comfortable acknowledging what I don’t know than anthropomorphizing a thinking being that created our universe. I find no difference between Yaweh creation narrative and the story that the universe rests on the back of a turtle.

    Abiogenesis is similarly couched. If there is not one other event in our history that we can attribute to the supernatural; how can I invoke God without compelling support for the argument. I stand by my characterization… “I don’t know, therefore God did it.”

    You referred to “other iterations of the universe” with different sets of laws (and you think ID is speculative?), yet in the next paragraph you state that you find the concept of multiverses lacking. You are being inconsistent.

    The Yo-Yo universe is hardly the multiverse universe. The Yo-Yo universe simply postulates that matter flying from the ‘big bang’ eventually slows and collapses back down and starts the cycle all over again. Not abstract, not unrealistic, just matter behaving as matter. Speculative none the less, but who knows how many times that cycle (iterations) might have occurred previously.

    Whether Flew converted to deism or theism (I haven’t read his works; some say his deism looks more like theism than deism), he did so based on evidence!, which you say is totally lacking. Perhaps it isn’t quite so lacking after all.

    Then you should read Flew. In chapter one he clearly states he went from non-belief to deism. His ‘evidence’ is the same old non-evidence that keeps being trotted out in the hopes that it will somehow become convincing THIS time…it IS lacking. It was his publicist that tried to market the book as some earth-shattering tome. It is just the same-old, same-old. But then again…deism doesn’t taint public policy and education and science.

    <blockquote)Is “Uhhhhhhh…….rrrrrriiiiiiigggghhhtt” all you can say about Jesus Christ?

    I was raised a believing Christian. I will happily grant you that there was a Jewish preacher from Nazareth roaming the deserts of the middle-east and that he ticked some people off and was crucified. There may or may not be good historical verification of this, but this does not matter to me nor is it pertinent. What is pertinent is whether this particular preacher was actually the son of God (to the exclusion of all the other wandering Jewish preachers roaming the desert claiming that THEY were the messiah and performing miracles).

    In terms of authoritative texts the bible fails by every objective standard. Self-conflicting. Known fabrications to support earlier prophesies. Obtuse parables. Portions written centuries after the events. Superstitious, biased, first century minds from the bronze age as authors. Every time I think through all the reasons that the bible can’t be considered as reliable; I am amazed that people can think that it is THE authority.

    Let us not dismiss that the world was awash in miracles and the supernatural until, basically, ‘The Enlightenment’ when we started turning a critical eye upon the events in our world…at which point miracles effectively stopped happening.

    Read C.S. Lewis or other Christian thinkers, unless you are satisfied with remaining in close-minded ignorance about Jesus.

    I pick up most highly touted apologetic tomes, but have yet to pick up Lewis. I will pick up ‘Mere Christianity’ if you pick up ‘Breaking The Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon’ by Daniel Dennett.

    I think that arguing about the existence of God is different than debating about the existence of Zeus, unicorns, or trolls.

    I only bring these things up to demonstrate that you cannot disprove a negative. Those that ask other to do so, are usually using it as a subterfuge to cover that they don’t have a good argument. Beyond the impossibility of the request; the non-believer makes no truth claims and, hence, needs to offer no evidence. The onus is on the believer. Exceptional claims require exceptional evidence. If you tell me that your dog is brown; I can take that at face value. I can presume you are not lying to me. I have seen brown dogs. I know people have dogs. The consequences of it being false are nil. If you tell me that I must kill my neighbor’s first-born child in order to appease the god of Ludicretious and keep my own children from dying from boils where winged spiders erupt from their flesh…then I will need a little more evidence.

    The Christian narrative (and all the successful faiths…read Dennett) have evolved to make sure critical self-analysis is suppressed (in regards to the religion). You are MORE faithful if you believe the unbelievable. These faiths revel in their own unprovability. If their narrative could be proved, then it would diminish the value of believing it.

    None of the classic arguments for the existence of God or for the truthfulness of Christianity are this type of argument, so the comparison is not valid. I’m not turning every stone looking for God, because he is not hiding under any stones.

    Exactly as I just said. The successful narratives have evolved to make sure that they try to place themselves outside of harm’s way (that is, critical analysis). The narratives include, though, aspects that are vulnerable to testing. For instance; there is the theistic truth claim that God listens to and answers prayers (that is to say, changes the laws of the universe for the benefit of an individual). If this were true, this could be studied scientifically/statistically. If prayers, under specific circumstances, could change the outcome of some event in a statistically significant way (measurably and consistently better than random or placebo), then we would need to explain that effect. If prayer really did something, then we would have to figure that…well…maybe someone really was listening and intervening. Oh yeah!! I forgot…they did that…lots of times, and very rigorously. Need I tell you the results? A big fat goose egg.

    No objective body could consider the bible compelling evidence. Everywhere religion leaves itself open to testing, it fails.

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    Comment by Mike (FVThinker) Burns | August 3, 2008

  17. Geochristian,
    You should check the time on your computer. Your posts are showing up with the wrong date and put comments out of sequence.

    Like

    Comment by Mike (FVThinker) Burns | August 4, 2008

  18. Mike,

    You are right on the clock problem, but it should be a one-time event. We moved from Romania to the United States in June, and changed all of our clocks, including clocks on our computers. One thing that didn’t get changed, however, was the time settings on WordPress for this blog, so the time and date on posts and comments were 9 hours off. I fixed that last night, but it ended up changing the order a bit on some comments, including yours. My apologies. I don’t plan on making another international move any time soon, so it shouldn’t happen again.

    Thanks,
    Kevin N

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | August 4, 2008

  19. Nixam,
    I haven’t heard from you our mutual challenges in (comments 11, 13/14)

    Like

    Comment by Mike (FVThinker) Burns | August 5, 2008

  20. Hey Mike ..

    Sorry man… Me gotta tight job, and I am not so good at time management yet…. Please please please forgive me…

    Hmm so about your comments…

    “stone-tablet” – umm u know once someone believes in God (initial assumption) – believing that He can write on “stone-tablet”’s and hand that over to a man, is not that big a thing… anyways that’s a passing comment..

    I don’t know what a unicorn is … Honda makes some bike with that name… and i once saw something that was called a unicorn in an “Enigma” video..

    Since I don’t know what unicorn’s are (And in some ways I do not care to find out) – I SHOULD/CAN not try to refute their existence
    (Hope you are reading all that I intend to say here…Hope)

    Like

    Comment by nixam | August 5, 2008

  21. I will take your comment as conceding the point that one cannot disprove a negative and that the non-believer has no burden of disproving god or gods. Thank you. I admire you for the concession….now prove the God of Abraham or stay out of public policy, medical research, and public education. :-)

    I only offered the “stone tablet” analogy as representing some immovable, absolute reference. In real life, on most every topic, no such reference exists…nor should it exist. A reference that does not change in the light of improved knowledge becomes that most insidious of things….dogma. We should always apply our best and most current knowledge to arrive at the our positions. Some might call that flip-flopping or waffling. I call it pragmatic.

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    Comment by Mike (FVThinker) Burns | August 5, 2008

  22. I wish u could catch what I tried to underline in those statements..

    let me rephrase this…

    “Since I don’t know what unicorn’s are (And in some ways I do not care to find out) – I SHOULD/CAN not try to refute their existence”

    so for you..

    “Since I don’t know what God is (And in some ways I do not care to find out) – I SHOULD/CAN not try to refute His existence”

    so in ways u are right, and we agree in PART … You cannot and need not refute the existence of God… but then what is this whole discussion about then? Do you agree that atheism does not need to prove God does not exist? If you agree

    About rationality – its genuine humor to find people following what i call “Recently Updated Rationality” .. So “Plato” (Please do not start a literal debate on Plato -He is just an example taken from another age/time…) was just as lost as You, and would be just as lost as someone 2000 years from now (if we survive) …

    so whats the point in all this??? what gives the “rational” the arrogance of proof… if its ever-changing…??

    Like

    Comment by nixam | August 5, 2008

  23. Nixam,
    I did get what where you were trying to go with your original “I don’t know what unicorns are” statement, but it was such a startlingly invalid line of thinking that I thought it was a joke.

    As a Christian; I presume that you do not believe that Mohamed was the last prophet (superseding Jesus’ as the most authoritative messenger of God). I also presume that you do not believe in all the Hindu gods (Shiva, Krishna, Brahma, etc, etc). If practitioners of these other religions ask that you come to their religion, you would need some evidence of their validity. If practitioners of these other religions will gleefully kill and demand respect for their beliefs; you would require some evidence of their validity. You, nor anyone else, can disprove the existence of Mohamed or the Hindu gods…and that is my point. The non-believer cannot be asked to disprove your god and to ask someone to believe in your god based on dogma is ridiculous.

    Let me make something very clear. I don’t care what anyone believes. Believing in either the Christian narrative, or hanging your hat on Dianetics is not a thought crime. Everyone has their methods that make the world work for them. My only problem is when society (as a whole) is demanded to adopt the values of their belief system without evidence.

    In our secular society, we cannot allow religion to dictate appropriate medical research, dumb down science education, or otherwise dictate public policy. If one has an opinion on matters such as these, the argument has to be framed in universal values…not the values of mythology.

    Furthermore: I find the mode of thought invalid, yet fully support the right of an individual to believe what they want. It does not demand that (nor should I) I respect that belief system if it creates victims or divisions in society…which religion is uniquely suited to do.

    Have a good day.

    Like

    Comment by Mike (FVThinker) Burns | August 6, 2008

  24. ” I don’t care what anyone believes. ”

    How do you expect the world to leave Medical research (Or for that matter – anything) into your hands…??

    Like

    Comment by nixam | August 7, 2008

  25. I merely want things left in the hands of those that don’t rely on mythology or superstition. Demonstrate the the Christian narrative is something more than mythology and this will all be moot.

    Like

    Comment by Mike (FVThinker) Burns | August 7, 2008

  26. Myth, lore, story telling… Christianity is born out of these… hmm… you can find a zillion sites and material that say so… if that brings you joy() and makes your heart swell that you are on the right side, please go ahead and gratify that desire…

    Or, you could read literature that states otherwise… “The Jesus Legend” is one such book you could try…

    One might naturally think – “Did Jesus really come back to life…??” –
    valid question … and this really amounts to “Myth” to a lot of people… the fact that Jesus was crucified however, isn’t so controversial(fair enough)- let me bring up another question to investigate this..

    What happened to Jesus’ disciples?? We know that they all deserted Jesus when he was being crucified… So if Jesus died – all these guys who were literally running out of fear, should have denounced their faith and gone back to fishing, tax collecting …

    But they all faced death as martyrs… What happened between the events of them denying Christ,while He was being crucified, and their own deaths?? It was because of what they Witnessed (In case of Thomas – Touched… )…

    Like

    Comment by nixam | August 9, 2008

  27. I do not doubt the physical existence of any of the characters of the NT. I don’t doubt that those characters believed that they were pal-ing around with the messiah. I don’t doubt how that purported messiah met his end. I don’t doubt that Jesus’ disciples believed so wholly and completely that they stuck to their story after Jesus’ execution.

    I DO doubt that, in an age awash in miracles and superstition and messiahs, this one particular fellow was the real deal. …particularly since THIS messiah shared soooo many narrative features of many previous deistic fables.

    Like

    Comment by Mike (FVThinker) Burns | August 9, 2008

  28. “I do doubt…” – that’s fair I guess…

    Like

    Comment by nixam | August 10, 2008

  29. Science and Atheism

    Science is different from religion. It does not pretend that it knows everything. There are even now deep questions about the origins of the universe that we don’t have answers to now though it is possible we may be able to answer some of them in the future.

    But the inability of science to provide answers to these questions does not prove that religious faith, tradition, or an ancient holy text has the ability to answer them. Science cannot prove that God does not exist, but this in no way establishes that God exists. There are millions of things whose lack of existence cannot be established.

    The philosopher Bertrand Russel had an analogy. Imagine that there is a teapot in orbit around the sun. It is impossible to prove that the teapot does not exist because it is too small to be detected by our telescopes. Nobody but a crazy person would say “Well, I’m prepared to believe in the teapot because I cannot establish that it doesn’t exist.” This means that maybe we have to be technically agnostics, but really we are all atheists about teapots with orbits around the sun.

    But now let us suppose that everybody in our society including our teachers and the sages of our tribes all had faith in a teapot that orbits the sun. Let us also suppose that stories of the teapot have come down to us for many generations as one of the traditions of our own society and there are ancient holy texts about the teapot. In this case people would say that a person who did not believe in the teapot is eccentric or mad.

    There are infinite numbers of things like celestial teapots whose lack of existence we are unable to establish. There are fairies, for example, and there are unicorns and goblins. We cannot prove that any of these creatures of the imagination do not exist in reality. But we don’t believe they exist, just as we don’t believe that the gods of the Scandinavians, for example, have any true existence.

    We are all atheists about almost all of the gods created by societies in the past. Some of us, however, take the ultimate step of believing that the god of the Jews and the Christians, like the gods of the Greeks and the Egyptians, also do not exist.

    Now here’s a version of this text in Interlingua. (For more information about Interlingua, use a search enging to search on the title “Interlingua in interlingua” or go to http://www.interlingua.com.

    Le scientia es differente del religion. Illo non pretende que illo sape toto. Il ha etiam nunc questiones profunde sur le origines del universe al quales nos nunc non ha responsas ben que il es possible que nos potera responder a alicunes de illos in le futuro.

    Ma le incapacitate del scientia de provider responsas a iste questiones non proba que le fide religiose, le tradition, o un texto sancte e ancian pote responder a illos. Le scientia non pote probar que Deo non existe, ma isto non establi de ulle maniera que Deo existe. Il ha milliones de cosas cuje existentia non pote esser establite.

    Le philosopho Bertrand Russell habeva un analogia. Imagina que il ha un theiera in orbita circum le sol. Il es impossibile probar que le theiera non existe proque illo es troppo parve pro esser detegite per nostre telescopios. Nemo excepte un folle dicerea, “Multo ben, io es preparate a creder in le theiera proque io non pote establir que illo non existe.” Isto significa que forsan nos debe esser technicamente agnosticos, ma vermente nos es omnes atheistas sur theieras con orbitas circum le sol.

    Ma que nos nunc suppone que omnes in nostre societate includente nostre professores e le sagios de nostre tribos habeva fide in un theiera que orbita le sol. Que nos anque suppone que historias del theiera ha venite usque nos trans multe generationes como un del traditiones de nostre proprie societate e que il ha textos sancte ancian sur le theiera. In iste caso le gente dicerea que un persona qui non credeva in le theiera es eccentric o folle.

    Il ha numeros infinite de cosas como theieras celestial cuje manco de existentia nos non pote establir. Il ha fees, pro exemplo, e il ha unicornios e gnomos. Nos non pote probar que iste creaturas del imagination non existe in le realitate. Ma nos non crede que illos existe exactamente como nos non crede que le deos del Scandinavos, pro exemplo, ha ulle existential ver.

    Nos es omnes atheistas sur quasi omne le deos create per societates in le passato. Alicunes de nos tamen prende le ultime passo de creder que le deo del judaeos e del christianos, como le deos del grecos e le egyptianos, anque non existe.

    Like

    Comment by hkyson | December 10, 2008

  30. hkyson:

    Thanks for your comment.

    I agree that science and religion are two different things, but I would argue that they can be complementary rather than contradictory.

    I find Russell’s celestial teapot argument to be inadequate for the following reasons:

    –The teapot (or a unicorn or fairy) is a completely different type of “thing” than God; it would be just another object floating off in space that has little effect on the rest of the universe. For Russell to compare God (a non-physical being responsible for creating the universe with all its laws) to a teapot is a logical fallacy.

    –Arguments for the existence of God are not based on our ignorance, but on our knowledge. For example, we know that the universe exists, and by science we know that it has not existed forever, and that it did not create itself. Even if there is a multi-verse that spawns baby universes, that multi-verse, and the laws that govern it had to come from somewhere. The options are that the universe (or multi-verse) has existed forever, that it created itself, or that something outside of the universe–an uncaused cause–created it. I’ll take the third option, as the others are indefensible. Teapots don’t have anything to do with this; God does.

    –The teapot cannot explain the ultimate question in philosophy, which is “Why is there something rather than nothing?” There would be no cosmological argument for the existence of the teapot, where we argue that the teapot must exist because God is the only explanation for why there is something rather than nothing. All other arguments for the very existence of the universe fail.

    Like

    Comment by geochristian | December 10, 2008

  31. Atheism may well be spurred on by the refusal of religions to engage in self-criticism. I’ve just read http://deligentia.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/263/ on how foreign self-criticism is to religion, and, moreover, how religion misunderstands itself. You might be interested in it.

    Like

    Comment by stillhere4u | November 24, 2009


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