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Ben Myers

To all those who responded to my post above:

Thanks and I have to apologize; after re-reading my post I used some language that was abrasive and I feel could have caused some anger. I should have showed more tact. Also, I attributed Paley's watch argument (or a likeness thereof) to Lewis - big mistake that I must retract.

Locutus;
I would just like to address your rebuttal that the watch stands out because it contrasts the area around it which is NOT created:

A blade of grass whereupon a watch might be found lying is to the naked eye a simple green shape, and a honey bee's brain is a blob of pointless matter. However, with the aid of instruments, we now know each of these to be machines of such intricate design and complexity that the watch is in relation the design of nincompoops.

The reason that I say the watch is obviously designed is because it is just that - obvious...even to the most casual observer.

Do you know what I mean?

Steve Gerrard

I simply have to make time to read ALL of this blog. Never knew so many people felt like me. So many stupid arguments in favour of religion. Wish some of this could be published in our local newspaper.
I live in a religious village north of Calgary and the guk that is written in the Three Hills Capital has to be seen to believed. Like no-one here actually dies. They go to join their Lord and Master and sit at His side. Wow it must be crowded there! The latest one was on the one year anniversary of someones demise it was published thus: " mom has settled into her new home well and is catching up with old friends." Unbelievable that people actually believe this stuff. Well I'm now going on 73 so not long to go before I'm cast into the firey inferno. Somehow I will find a way to blog here and let you know how wrong u all are. StevieG

Steve Gerrard

I know my little comments are not as learned as some of my previous bloggers but are relevant I think without being overly technical. I wonder did Darwin and Einstein think in vain? Were they lunatics? Does Richard Leakey's discoveries of mans evolution, not in abstract thought, but concrete evidence mean nothing? How much evidence does one need to realise those big books called THE KORAN and THE BIBLE are a bunch of made up stuff from primitive people who were running scared about life and needed something to hide behind. How soon before this terrible disaster in Japan is blamed on a god wreaking his wrath on an evil people. Guess the ring of fire was conveniently built into the Earth for just such occasions. Thanks for letting me have a voice somewhere, Stevie G

Locutus7

Greta, feel free to steal any of my comments; I'm too lazy to blog myself.

I actually posted a similar idea on a Richard Dawkins "Apppearance of design" thread a couple of years ago because unlike the redoubtable RD, I never saw the appearance of design in nature. To me, nature always looked, well, natural.

Slightly off-topic, there is an "Angry Atheist" thread on the RD site, in response to Rabbi Wolpe. I recommended your site -especially your blog on the same topic - in two separate posts. Hope that was okay.

Ben, my point is that if you believe that everything is designed - some things by man, the rest by god - then you cannot use design as a selection criterion. It is the constrast between a designed and non-designed "thing" that enables one to discern the designed one.

Now you can argue that god's design was intended to look natural, but that was not Paley's argument and it really does not make sense if you think about it. Because in that prelapsarian bliss before man's fall, or even before man himself was "created", god would have nothing designed by man to intentionally contrast his own soi-disant "subtler design."

Put differently, he would just make stuff because who was around to know the difference between designed, appearing to be designed, and non-designed? Through our present-day optic, these distinctions look to be the hindsight rationalization of desperate theologians plugging a leak in their creation narrative.

Of course, you could assert that god knew I was going to point this out so he took my contention into account during the six days of creation. And we both know how likely that was.

Make sense, Ben?

ben myers

Locutus said, "...if you believe that everything is designed - some things by man, the rest by god - then you cannot use design as a selection criterion."

This is very good "if-then" argumentation, Locutus; however...

Locutus: "Now you can argue that god's design was intended to look natural"

Almost; I would argue that God's design is far more advanced than our own and it tends to be curvilinear and organic in form, unlike our own. Like our own, however, it has order and functionality. The man-made object contrasts the God-made object in these two ways...

1: They tend to have different formal qualities.
2: Man-mad objects tend to look complex (and be simple), whereas God-made objects tend to look simple (and be far more advanced).


Locutus: "...but that was not Paley's argument and it really does not make sense if you think about it."
(I do not care about Paley's intent)

Here is where your argument breaks down, I think, because it seems you proceed to call it impossible that God, during pre-man times, would take pleasure in His own handy-work. The Bible says that to God a thousand years is like a day, and a day is like a thousand years. Also, it speaks about how His heavenly host that worship him look at His creation in awe.

Maria

The Bible says

Well, there's your problem!

DSimon

Ben:

Please know that my former statement – i.e. the “atheist’s” response to why there are universal laws governing the operation of all matter is simply “because” – was not meant to be disrespectful.

It's not that it was disrespectful, it's that it was inaccurate in a crucial way!

It's not that the physical laws "just are", because that literally doesn't mean anything; saying that something "just is" is merely a stop-sign for investigation, not an explanation for anything.

The question of how the physical laws of the universe came to be what they are is darn interesting, and at the moment, largely unanswered: we don't have any really good information about the topic, just a bunch of hypotheses.

Atheism is the correct stance because the "God set up the universe" hypothesis ranks very very low: there's no good evidence for it, and its prior probability is very tiny because it's such a complicated explanation.

Locutus7

Ben, If I understand your point, god's design is subtler and more curvilinear and organic; in other words, it looks more natural. Then how does man distinguish it from nature? How does man say, "this tree is not the product of nature, but rather the designed creation of god"?

The entire Paley argument rests on man being able to recognize design. But to recognize design, it has to be in contrast to something not designed.

I don't think I'm communicating this to you very well, apparently. So I'll consider us at an impasse on this issue.

Greta Christina

Ben: I think you may be missing two of the most crucial problems with the "appearance of design" argument.

One: The theory of evolution provides a completely satisfying explanation explanation for why life forms are so complex. I strongly suggest that you read "Why Evolution Is True" by Jerry A. Coyne, or "The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence for Evolution" by Richard Dawkins, or "Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters" by Donald R. Prothero, or even just this online primer on what evolution is and how it works. The God hypothesis is entirely unnecessary.

Two, and very crucially: If life was designed by a perfect designer, why is so much of the "design" so terrible? As I wrote in my Why "Life Has To Have Been Designed" Is a Terrible Argument for God's Existence piece: Yes, there are many aspects of biological life that astonish with their elegance and function. But there are many other aspects of biological life that astonish with their clumsiness, half-assedness, inefficiency, "fixed that for you" jury-rigs, pointless superfluities, glaring omissions, laughable failures, and appalling, mind-numbing brutality. Here's just a partial list.

The theory of evolution accounts for these terrible flaws quite nicely... as nicely as it accounts for the magnificent complexity. In fact, in the theory of evolution, you wouldn't expect life forms to be perfect. (Again, I explain all this in Why "Life Has To Have Been Designed" Is a Terrible Argument for God's Existence.) The theory that life was created by a perfect and powerful God fall entirely short. You don't get to point to the elegant and complex functioning of life as evidence of it being created by a perfect and powerful God, and then, when faced with its clumsy and brutal flaws, shrug your shoulders and say, "Mysterious ways." You can't have it both ways.

Locutus7

What Greta said.

ben myers

Greta, I am an avid reader of Scientific American and went to U.S. government schools for 20 years where I was taught evolution. Out of fear that the only other alternative to man coming from monkeys was God, we were never given any evidence against macro-evolution; scientific inquiry was halted, the theory was taught as law, and I was indoctrinated.

Greta said: “You don't get to point to the elegant and complex functioning of life as evidence of it being created by a perfect and powerful God, and then, when faced with its clumsy and brutal flaws, shrug your shoulders and say, "Mysterious ways."

If it is true that you get this response to such simple questions I think you should actively seek out more intelligent religious types who know orthodox Theology and have a passion for science and history. There are morons in both of our camps and I think we should avoid publicizing their thoughtless remarks to help our sides out.

Now, then, it seems that most of the flaws I’ve heard described may possibly have an explanation we have not discovered yet, and may therefore not be “flaws” at all.
For example, as children we all thought giraffes were beasts whose necks and awkward legs served no purpose but to make life difficult and clumsy; and then Ranger Rick told us that the giraffe’s long neck and legs are indispensable. Almost all of the “flaw” lists I’ve read are quite possibly “unsolved mysteries”. So allow me to turn your own argument upon you: science will give us the answer!

If you want to continue using the argument that what was once thought mysterious science has managed to explain away (i.e. “the incredible shrinking god”), you should probably not argue that so much of our material universe is flawed. After all, it is probably just not yet understood scientifically!

DSimon
Now, then, it seems that most of the flaws I’ve heard described may possibly have an explanation we have not discovered yet, and may therefore not be “flaws” at all.

What about flaws whose downsides are so bad that there's no plausible upside that could make up for them? Huntington's disease comes to mind, as well as many other degenerative genetic diseases.

These diseases occur because some of our genes are very vulnerable to simple errors in just the wrong place, due to random changes introduced between generations. If these particular genes were only slightly better designed, the frequency of the diseases would be much much lower.

Transmission errors happen, but there are straightforward ways to build systems that can detect and correct errors in transmission; the computer you're using right now has several!

If a benevolent and ultra-intelligent God created our genome, why did he make design mistakes that a typical graduate Computer Science student would know how to avoid?

ben myers

DSimon, I am glad you brought this up.

Genetic defects are abundant, and their mere existence seems to indicate that if God exists He is either lacking in love, power or intelligence.

We are still learning much about the DNA strand, but you are right that there are new and increasingly detrimental mutations appearing as each new generation is born.

There are many linguists, biologists and doctors who see the human species as de-evolving, coming from a more excellent state to a lesser one. Vestigial structures in our bodies and DNA sequence are showing us the imperfect and sickening state of our already decaying flesh.

This of course all fits so snugly with the Biblical account of longevity among antediluvian people, and the ramifications of disobeying God's moral laws, which He established for our own benefit.

(Note: Death and disease of course increase all the more rapidly in cultures of extreme promiscuity and other harmful/sinful behaviors)

Doug

Note: Death and disease of course increase all the more rapidly in cultures of extreme promiscuity and other harmful/sinful behaviors)

Citation needed.

The longest lived people on the planet are the japanese and the Norwegians; both cultures that are predominately NOT christian.

Also you cannot equate sinful with harmful. For example, guaranteed free speech and freedom of religion are both sinful (I am the lord thy god, thou shall have no gods before me and though shall not take the lord's name in vain), but only harmful if the society DOESN'T guarantee them.

themann1086

*Snort* "de-evolution". Look, I love science fiction too, but let's not confuse its tropes with reality.

DSimon
Vestigial structures in our bodies and DNA sequence are showing us the imperfect and sickening state of our already decaying flesh.

This of course all fits so snugly with the Biblical account of longevity among antediluvian people, and the ramifications of disobeying God's moral laws, which He established for our own benefit.

You've made a testable predictions here: That there should be a big difference in the prevalence of genetic disease between two otherwise similar groups if one of those groups is Christian and the other is not.

Are you prepared to reduce your confidence in your belief in God if that prediction turns out to be incorrect?

Greta Christina
Almost all of the “flaw” lists I’ve read are quite possibly “unsolved mysteries”. So allow me to turn your own argument upon you: science will give us the answer!

They're not unsolved mysteries, Ben. Science has already given us the answer. The answer is that evolution happens very gradually, with small changes adding up over long periods of time, so there's no way to wipe the slate clean and start over when a particular "design" becomes maladaptive. It's an excellent explanation. Do you have any actual solid, positive evidence that it's wrong, and that God had anything to do with it? Or is your only argument "it could have happened that way, and you can't absolutely prove with 100% certainty that it didn't"?

This of course all fits so snugly with the Biblical account of longevity among antediluvian people...

You're kidding, right?

There is not one scrap of fossil or anthropological evidence that pre-modern people had anything close to the long lifespans described in the Bible. In fact, the exact opposite is true: every piece of hard evidence we have points to the conclusion that human lifespans stayed roughly the same for thousands of years, began to increase with the advent of the modern era, and have increased dramatically in the last century. (And in fact, as Doug pointed out, many countries with high longevity averages are non-Christian countries with high tolerance/ enjoyment of sexual behaviors you seem to consider sinful -- such as Japan, and many European countries.)

The fact that you would try to back up your point with the notion that Old Testament people had lifespans of hundreds of years makes it clear that your arguments are not to be taken seriously.

...and the ramifications of disobeying God's moral laws, which He established for our own benefit.

Really? What about birth defects? Pediatric cancer? Childhood diabetes? Are you arguing that babies and children are being punished for disobeying God's moral laws?

Finally: You seem to be arguing that the magnificent perfection of life is evidence that God exists... and that the flaws in life are also evidence that God exists. You're trying to have it both ways. Is there any evidence at all that could possibly persuade you that God does not exist, and that evolution happened entirely naturally? I can tell you exactly the kinds of evidence that would persuade me that I was mistaken. (The classic example of evidence that would disprove the theory of evolution: A fossilized rabbit in the pre-Cambrian layer.) If you can't show us that you're open to being persuaded by telling us what evidence would convince you that you were mistaken, I see no reason to continue this conversation.

Ben

I have tried to treat everyone’s questions shortly here…

Ben:
“Death and disease of course increase all the more rapidly in cultures of extreme promiscuity and other harmful/sinful behaviors”

Doug:
“Citation needed”

Ben:
People who have sex with many people are higher at risk for STD’s than my parents, who just have sex with one another. Citation: Sane MDs.

Doug:
[Japanese and Norwegians have long life spans but are not Christian]

Ben:
A culture’s diet has long been known to play a role in determining human lifespan, along with numerous other factors.

Nevertheless, this is an interesting observation, Doug. It is interesting because most data shows that America ranks the highest in STDs, yet it is supposedly Christian. However, you and I both should know that being a Christian is not just saying so, but in acting so. Jesus said that you can judge a tree by its fruit; therefore, from our sky-scraping homicide and divorce rates, the Bible would judge that there are actually very few true believers in America, despite what they themselves claim. Japan, though it is an “atheist” nation, may actually be more Christian in its behavior.

Doug:
“…guaranteed free speech and freedom of religion are both sinful [yet not harmful]. 'I am the lord thy god, thou shall have no [other] gods before me and …shall not take the lord [your God’s] name in vain'”

Ben:
Fortunately, our “freedom” laws were developed by Theologically-minded people with a better grasp of the Bible than you. This is a severe textual mistreatment, Doug. The passage is talking to the people of Israel before they had even established a king. They were living in a Theocracy ruled by priests and prophets and the laws of that nation were more like the laws that should be applied to a modern church. In the New Testament, Christ in Matthew 5 lays these laws upon the individual…not upon the unbelieving nation of Rome. I can give you a fuller treatment of this if you’d like, but I have a feeling you are more interested in decrying the Bible as false, rather than discerning what it actually has to say. Is this true?

DSimon:
“You’ve made a testable prediction here: That there should be a big difference in the prevalence of genetic disease between two otherwise similar groups if one of those groups is Christian and the other is not.”

Ben:
DUDE! I love your mind, DSimon! So rational! Sadly, you are wrong in saying my prediction is testable. Looking at the data regarding adultery, divorce rate, cases of pedophilia, and how these figures seem to be the same among the “Christian” community as among people of other leanings tells me that there are a whole lot of people calling themselves “Christians” who have not had a heart changed by God, and are therefore unbelievers (Christ: “You can judge a tree by its fruit.”). It is funny and sad, Dsimon, but I’d bet that if you were to proceed with your test you’d find not only just as much “death” and “disease” in the professing “Christian” community of America as you would in any other…BUT MAYBE EVEN MORE!!! This, I think, is due to man’s favorite sin…hypocrisy. Agree? (I often find myself most strongly opposed to the sin in others that I myself am the most enslaved by)

Gretta:
“There is not one scrap of fossil or anthropological evidence that pre-modern people had anything close to the lifespans described in the Bible.”

Ben:
I never said there was fossil evidence, Gretta. In fact, I would assume there would not be, since earth’s population would have been small enough to make the survival and our finding of naturally lying bones highly unlikely.

Regarding early hominids, it just seems to me that some folks desire so much to prove man came from another species that they do not allow for even the entertainment of alternate explanations (much like the Roman Catholic Church did in reverse to our friend, Galileo). Java man was not collected in a scholarly manner, with human skulls being found at the same layer and not reported. Piltdown man was a hoax with teeth filed. Peking man has numerous alternate explanations, and Lucy...well looks like a creature of some sort. Just a thought: Years ago I heard a skull scientist once offer that the human skull grows until you die, with the forehead, rear cranium and jawbone constantly changing shape, a man of about 900 years old would look pretty grotesque.

As a Christian I am bound to practice good science. At its very heart, good science asks questions and is always engaged in the inquiry after truth. This to me means holding up a red flag when a theory is accepted and taught as law. Both of our systems appear to have huge areas that are scientifically unexplained; the question is which one offers the BEST explanation for life’s origin, meaning, morality and destiny (R. Zacharias).

I believe that if you’d endeavor to study the historicity and message of the Bible with an open mind an in a spirit of gaining understanding to the answers it offers to these questions, you would find it the most thorough and logical explanation for all things.

Gretta, I have some things to say regarding your response to my statement that you would not be convinced were evidence given for God's existence. I will post my thoughts on the link you guided me to above. Thanks.

Thanks everyone, I think that is all I’ll have time to communicate on this blog…I’ll give you the last word.

Indigo

Ben - I must say, the sheer audacity with which you combine the No True Scotsman fallacy (Christians aren't Christians if I say they're not) with begging the question (Christianity is better because it's healthier for you, and a healthier lifestyle is inherently Christian) AND the appeal to consequences (Christianity is true because it's better for you) - it's positively breathtaking. How DO you do it?

ben myers

(When I said I'd not post anymore, I didn't expect to have to defend myself against false accusations; sorry everyone.)

Indigo,
You said that I said: "Christians aren't Christians if I say they're not"
I didn't say this or even imply it.

You said that I said: "Christianity is better because it's healthier for you"
I didn't say this or even imply it.

You said that I said: "Christianity is true because it's better for you"
I didn't say this or even imply it.

And you challenged me "...it's positively breathtaking. How DO you do it?"
I don't.

If you would like to ask me a serious question I'd be glad to answer, but I don't think being libelous will get us anywhere.

DSimon
Sadly, you are wrong in saying my prediction is testable. Looking at the data regarding adultery, divorce rate, cases of pedophilia, and how these figures seem to be the same among the “Christian” community as among people of other leanings[...]

Ben, if you like you can define Christians as people who both believe in the Christian God and also do not commit adultery, get divorced, or rape children.

But, your earlier implication that such diseases are a consequence of disobeying God remains testable: does the Christian group have a lower incidence of genetic diseases than otherwise similar non-Christian groups?

Indigo

Ben, I apologise for the snark. I've spent a lot of my life feeling ignored due to having been very shy, and now sometimes overcompensate in my efforts to be heard. I'm sorry for having been flippant.
Nevertheless, I still believe my points stand. You declared that the US is not a particularly Christian nation despite the census records indicating that most of your country believes they are; this is No True Scotsman, or No True Christian if you prefer.
You said that sin, as defined by Christians, causes the deterioration of the physical body, and when it was pointed out that many non-Christian cultures have longer average life expectancy than some Christian ones, said that indicated those cultures were actually more Christian than the ones that professed belief in Christianity.
Finally, if we allow that Christian cultures have longer life expectancy, you pointed to this as proof that less sinful people live longer, therefore this is evidence that sin causes decay, thus evidence for humanity's Biblical "fall" a few thousand years ago, amd thus the truth and necessity of Christianity.
If I'm wrong on any of this, feel free to clarify.

ben myers

Indigo, what a breath of fresh air. Although I must admit DSimon is nearly as cordial.

Indigo said: “You declared that the US is not a particularly Christian nation despite the census records indicating that most of your country believes they are; this is No True Scotsman or No True Christian if you prefer.”

It is only “No True Scotsman” if I use my own standard to determine who is or who is not saved. Let me state: The Bible is the standard, and though it says salvation comes by God changing a person’s heart and cannot therefore be seen directly, it also says that there are visible “symptoms” that WILL follow in any case of true conversion. Therefore, you and I can usually “recognize” true believers from “fake” believers (those who are in it for fringe benefits, etc.).

When a person has had his/her heart changed by God, certain signs or “symptoms” will be evident.

“…by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Jesus Christ - Matthew 7:20)

What Christ means is that we can distinguish a true believer from a fake one by asking, “Does this person act in obedience to Christ’s commands? When this person acts sinfully, does he/she respond with deep sorrow and repentance, seeking to change said behavior?” These are some of the Biblical “fruits” to which Christ refers and they are in many cases visible. (also, Ezekiel 36:26-27)

Regarding most Christians in America today; if a talking tree told you that it was an apple tree, but after you looked at its fruit and noticed all oranges, you would have to conclude that the tree was either lying to you or self-deceived.

Indigo said: “…and when it was pointed out that many non-Christian cultures have longer average life expectancy than some Christian ones, [Ben] said that indicated those cultures were actually more Christian than the ones that professed belief in Christianity.”

I did not say this. I merely pointed out that Japan MAY be more Christian in its “behavior”, and I was offering this along with diet and innumerable other factors as a possible explanation for their longevity.

Indigo said: “...if we allow that Christian cultures have longer life expectancy...”

I do not allow for this, since there are too many other factors involved in determining lifespan. Nevertheless, in such a hypothetical culture there would be almost no incidents of drunk-diving accidents, probably zero STD’s, and negligible rates of suicide, homicide, and drug abuse…all of these having a negative effect on a culture’s life expectancy, but not being sole determinants.

Tim

To play devil's advocate I would like to introduce the only truly logical argument for God that I know of, and that is Berkeley's Immaterialist concept. Ontologically for Berkeley, to be is to be perceived. Our perceptions create the real world, our objective reality. Think about how there is no objective "color" but how it is only a projection/perception of the mind through the transduction of the color spectrum (angstroms) which we then experience as color. But does the object itself have color? Scientifically, it doesn’t. It is a biologically created experience. If this undermines the senses, the empirical nature upon which science itself largely rests (though not completely), then Berkeley has a point in saying that the real world doesn’t exist- clouds, oceans, rocks, trees, etc. All the things we believe to be part of the real world is only based on perception. But, following his assumption that to be perceived is to exist, can we perceive ourselves? Berkeley says no. We are perceived in the mind of God. He is obviously assuming God to exist but in his system of thinking it is not illogical to make that assumption because the idea of “substance” is removed. That is why when the tree falls in the forest when no one is around it does make a noise because God perceives the sound. It is a very irritating philosophy because it is difficult to refute because his logic, to me and others, is sound. This extreme idealism chafes me but is difficult to refute. Even Hume had to concede to power of his argument, but that doesn’t mean we have to believe it or can’t try to refute it.

DSimon

Tim, I don't think that makes logical sense at all. It follows the standard God of the Gaps pattern to a T:

1. How do we solve mysterious problem X?
2. *mumble mumble*
3. God!

Historically X would be something like "How life came to exist on Earth" or "How the weather works". In this case, it's the lack of direct and perfectly reliable information about objective reality.

A trickier problem, but still no more suited to the "God did it!" explanation than the previous subjects. In particular, how does removing the notion of objective reality imply the existence of anything like the sorts of entities that people call gods?

Bruce Gorton

Posted by: Tim | March 29, 2011 at 06:33 AM

Our perceptions create the real world, our objective reality.

If our perceptions create our objective reality, then if someone robs my house without me knowing about it, the stuff that someone stole will still be there when I return home.

Because I would not have percieved it being removed in the first place - the stuff will not have been removed.

In short if perception creates reality were true, it would save a lot of people a lot of money on their insurance.

The more logical answer to reality vs perception is that our brains take sensory data from reality and translate that into an imperfect yet useable model of reality.

This model means that we can be tricked or ignorant, something that perception created reality cannot allow for.

DSimon

Bruce Gorton, well, perhaps we just believe that we can be tricked, and so we are. ;-)

Bruce Gorton

Posted by: DSimon | April 05, 2011 at 02:10 PM

It still wouldn't account for the very specific way in which our senses would be providing incomplete information.

DSimon

Well, suppose we believe strongly in advance that we would tend to be surprised in unexpected ways. If our beliefs determine reality, then perhaps reality would be modified such that it randomly or pseudo-randomly chooses surprising events. Or alternately, chooses non-surprising events but affects our minds so that we interpret them as surprising.

I don't think Tim's idea is internally contradictory. But, it is *totally and utterly unfalsifiable*, which is very nearly as bad.

Tjbeorn

Hello all. I've noticed that Zen Buddhism doesn't ascribe to 'God', 'gods', and other supernatural stuff. One of the 'three marks of existence' as found in Buddhist tradition is anatta/anatman or 'not-self' or no soul. Has anyone else seen otherwise?

Colin Reid

I believe that justifying atheism as opposed to finding what truths or dis truths are behind religion is like trying to prove a negative...which cant be done....get to the meat & potatoes of it...

I prefer to give people a long rope to hang themselves with their own arguments...such as, if god is the creator of this infinite universe that we know, & we understand infinite to mean, in terms of space, that there is no space outside of it, in terms of time, there is no before or no after, & in terms of energy, it contains all energy ever expended or that will ever be expended, that this argument in & of itself leaves no space for the god concept...

This leaves me to believe that the universe itself is the mother of all things, & nurturer of all...

No supernatural metaphysical garbage, all natural, like how i like my food...without the additives.....

Another argument i favor is that we portray GOD to be this loving kind force, yet the origin of religion through the course of it's existence is strife with wickedness & evil perpetuated by believers pillaging non believers,& the elimination of entire tribes of peoples who dont favor the GOD argument....God seems more to be the wicked should who has but damnation & curses on the entire lineage of human kind for the one simple act of Adam eating an apple he was told not to eat...seems more to be the act of a wicked, grudge full god who know not forgiveness...To each his own i guess, but we non believers have been put here in a world of the majority of believers, the ultimate test of ones fidelity & inner strength...be strong ye mighty soldier, endure your battles fearlessly...

Twinkletoes

For the gentleman who insisted that we atheists MUST be afraid of something to concentrate on christianity so much is absolutely right. We're afraid of the followers of such a hostile belief system! However, to be fair, we also fear the followers of ANY fundamentalist religion as they do nasty and scary things to others. So much for god's love!

tjallen

Locutus7's argument above does not respond to the argument from design as made by the holders of that argument. They are not contrasting the watch with blades of grass, trees, sand, etc. They contrast the watch with a pile of metal, stone and glass bits, of the same amounts materially as the watch, that are not designed into anything. That is how the design argument makes that contrast between designed and non-designed, by which the argument is supposed to work. In a sense, L7's design argument opponent is a straw man.

On the positive side, Locutus7's argument resembles an abridged version of David Hume's "incomplete analogy" argument.

Hume correctly sees the holder of the design argument as contrasting the designed watch with the non-designed pile of materials, and Hume says for the design argument to work, we now need to compare designed and non-designed universes. But we only experience one universe, so there is no way to complete the analogy, by making a contrast similar to the designed watch and non-designed pile of rubble. By definition, there is only one universe, or we only experience one, and do not have others to compare it to, or contrast it with.

Locutus7 I am not dismissing your interesting argument, and there is much food for thought in what you say, and maybe a good argument is hiding in there, but it is (maybe) a mistake to think the design argument contrasts the watch to "everything else" which is not how the design argument holders see their own argument.

RhS

why is there anything at all? thats the only question. we debate details that give no true evidence of a god or lack thereof. the faiths of atheism and religion are one and the same. agnosticism rules.

Justin Cusack

I don't think anyone really understands the point of the article, maybe not even the writer. I think this all can be simplified down to one issue. The real reason most atheists try to explain that god doesn't exist is not because he doesn't(believe me, he doesn't), it's because religion is actively causing harm to their way of life, and they won't just let that happen without a fight. An example of this is the way that religion is effecting gay marriage, the belief is not wrong or right, it's just a belief and if your not trying to get married to someone else who is of the same sex then you have no moral or legal right to effect what happens to people who are you can believe all you want i could care less, just show us the same respect and let us do and believe what we want as well, i mean i'm not gay or anything but the fact is that if i were i would have less rights, and that is something i regard as an attack on me personally. Atheist's look at the issue and they go with their primal urge to take religion out of the picture by disproving it, this is not the answer. People will believe whatever they want and seriously, who cares if it doesn't match up with your own personal beliefs, what we should really be doing as atheist's(and even religious people) is fight the people that want to control our behaviors and personal beliefs out of ignorance.

Craig Henderson

Everyone that read this and has difficulty swollowing the arguements, watch this: http://givemeananswer.org/?p=439

It could be the most important 10 minutes of your life.

Craig Henderson

I have sooo many problems with your arguements Greta, but I appreciate that we live in countries where we are free to express this.

Rather than me attempt to offer an arguement, I'd like to link a video on moral relativism. There are many videos on this site and I would encourage you to explore it.

http://givemeananswer.org/?p=183

Kishin_D

I like your arguments, but I have to point something out:
#2 "When different people look at, say, a tree... And if God existed, he'd be a whole lot bigger"

Quite right... in this case, a tree is a bad example. When different people look at planet Earth, for example, their perceptions are wildly different, both in the different location-different landscape sense, and the abstract world-as-a-whole sense. I believe this is caused by the fact that it is larger than our minds can handle, so we can only see one portion of it.

As an omnitheist (and theosophist), I believe the same principle is at work; that is, I believe all of these perspectives are true, and apparent contradictions can be resolved inclusively.

Don't get me wrong, I do love atheism. It has needed truths. Keep preaching doubt! People need to question more. Blind, unwavering faith in any perspective or understanding is truly dangerous to a diverse society - whether it's about Jesus or tax cuts.

adam

Firstly, I must apologise for not actually finishing your passage above, about how Atheism is right/God doesn't exist... The reason why I did not, before posting this comment, is because it is all very rhetorical. I think your not actually sincere in your search "for truth". I think your very biased toward your own personal beleifs... which, whilst they are intelligent, thought out and considered, you very much have blinders over your eyes. You would say at this point that you do not, and that you have thought out everything very carefully. And I believe you have, otherwise you would not write it. But the reason why I know you do have blinders on is because you believe what you believe. The reason why you do not know God, the father of Jesus Christ to be exact, is because in order to believe, you have to experience. And, from my personal experience, you need to at least be open, in order to experience (I cannot say that this is the one and only "conditions", but it was for me).

So, a bit about me. I was brought up outside of church and christianity... oh, a little note on your clasue no. 5. This clause really cannot apply to Christianity-just because you say you are a Christian, this does not make you a Christian. Christianity IS NOT an inheritance from your family. You are a Christian, if from your personal experience with God, you have DECIDED to let Jesus Christ be your lord and saviour. I am a walking example of how this clause does not apply. The reason why I beleive in God and his son, is because he showed himself to me at a time when I was searching for Him with sincerity. Not because someone told me, not because the Bible says so. The cool thing is, that God did this using reason-a set of events that I could not refute. I was once like you.

Since my revelation, I have seen things that only God has an explanation for. I have prayed to God for people to be healed from all kinds of things and seen it happen. I have seen prayers in general answered-some over time, and some straight away.

I do not expect you to just take what I am saying as truth, as I'm sure you won't, and will try to reason it away-this is part of your blinders. I only tell you this in hopes that you will become open to God, the father of Jesus Christ, and His existence. God bless you and keep you-let me know if you have any prayer requests. Kind regards, Adam

Don

God bless u Greta! I was raised atheist and god was never mentioned in my home. One day I decided I would read the bible and I would open my mind to possibly the faith that god actually might exist. As I was reading, a tremendous comfort feeling came upon me something I can't explain I felt as if someone had poured warm water down my spine. I felt unimaginable happiness as if I were connected to something. I felt so up lifted as if nothing could bring me down. To this day I am now a firm believer in god the father of Jesus Christ. I hope someday you can experience the feelings as I did and have, it is truly a life changing experience! I know we are all loved by God and Jesus, even those that don't believe!

jonathan

Sure you make a good point there is no proof it would be far to simple for there to be proof then everyone would believe. Its too easy there needs to be proof for everything doesn't there? You want proof well how about you for example you base your life around proving to people there is no god but y? You can't possibly change everyone's mind. The true reason you are so determined to fight about this is because you don't know if god exists or not! You have an idea but your not sure of it and this is your way of investigating. You'll never get answer and believe completely unless you actually give god the opportunity and stop waging war against him. You think about this so mich because he is in you and he wants you to believe in him and you desperately want someone to change your opinion and show you the way. Ill now be told I'm an idiot by people also in denial but that's alright I just hope somebody takes this in to thought and attempts to follow god. He knocks at the door step all u need to do is open the door and he will give you the proof you thirst for through spirtual connections with him.

Tom

"The number of times that a supernatural or religious explanation of a phenomenon has been replaced by a natural explanation? Thousands upon thousands upon thousands." ??

Name one.

Floyd Rumohr

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