My Photo

The Out Campaign

Atheist Blogroll

Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 05/2005

« Greta Speaking in San Francisco, May 29: "What can the atheist movement learn from the gay movement?" | Main | Atheist Meme of the Day: "God of the Gaps" is a Bad Argument »


Roy Sablosky

This is a beautifully made piece. I agree with everything in it. One more point, if I may.

Not only is a feeling in someone's heart not a good reason to believe in any deity, but most of the people reporting such feelings are strongly motivated to report them even if they don't have them.

If a fellow commuter tells me that he "just knows" that our bus has been delayed by twenty minutes, I may uncontroversially regard this as having provided no useful information. And when the thing that someone "just knows" is of a religious character, it deserves more than the usual skepticism, not less. This is because in religious circles "just knowing" stuff is considered marvelous, so people are going to be tempted to make others think that they can do it -- by pretending.

A feeling in your heart is not such good evidence that it should make you (or anyone else) believe in a deity; and for us, your report of this feeling is not good evidence that you even have such a belief.


Dennet's old saw about "belief in belief", huh, Roy? Yeah, I agree with you.


You make a really good argument on why a lot of people say they believe in God, which is pretty flimsy. If I may, I'd like to give you a short path of my logic (truncating as much as possible) on why I believe in God.

Basically, you go back through evolution and eventually you come to some first thing - an atom, some gases, whatever. Eventually you come to an uncaused cause - something that always was and something which we can't scientifically prove anything about. This uncaused cause neither proves nor disproves God conceptually - it can't. So we are left with some leap of faith - either to say that 'the uncaused cause is God' or 'the uncaused cause is not God. It is a non-senient, non-rational nothing.' But those are both faith - because we can't prove either one and there's no logic in science that can get us back to nothing where matter can create itself. The only act that is NOT faith is agnosticm - 'the uncaused cause may or may not be God. I'm not guessing.'

So the thing is - logic draws us both back to the beginning - the first thing. You and I just have different interpretations of that first thing - which is unprovable - so we've both made a decision based on faith or belief in the unprovable.

I respect your decision - I believe it's based on rational thought and a process of discernment. What I'm saying is - so is mine.


CC, Greta has already covered that, and it's not a convincing argument either:


This reminds me of the saying "who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?"

If I saw a zebra in my front yard, I wouldn't doubt it. I happen to know that there are over 8,000 tigers in private hands in the U.S. If that's true, then there are likely to be some zebras out there, too. I know it's unlikely for there to be a zebra in my yard, but it's less unlikely than sensory error. If you're that quick to doubt your senses, then you must have indulged in some good chemicals in your life. :-) It could be a painted horse, but I think that's less likely than the real thing.

Doubting that unlikely things can happen plays into the hands of the ID people. They say that our existance is so unlikely, that there must have been some intelligent force at work. If you've spent any time with statistics (or in a casino), you know that given enough opportunities, every possiblility eventually happens, no matter how unlikely.

I think a better example would be if I saw a unicorn in my front yard. Then, I'd think that either a prankster or my senses are to blame. Given all of my years on this earth, though, I know that if I look directly at something deliberately, the chances of the picture in my brain not being an accurate representation of the photons reflecting on my retinas is slim. That just leaves some neighbor kids to shoo off my lawn! :-)


Jamie, what if you just saw the zebra for a moment before it bounded off? Then sensory error is far more likely.

Plus, you're ignoring the part where Greta says (paraphrased) "Or maybe what I saw was a horse pained like a zebra". That's also quite high up there on the plausibility scale when compared to the possibility of it actually being a zebra; you did actually see it, but it wasn't what it looked like it was. That's also "sensory error" in a way.

Greta Christina

CC: What Maria said. I've already covered "first cause." It's a terrible argument.

Alexei Cogan

My latest poem, written last week, paints a clear picture of what sometimes happens when people, often from a very young impressionable age, are taught to trust not only that God exists but that it (I refuse to call it "He,"because that's just beyond stupid) is in control of all things and is able to yank people to safety out of the most dire straits imaginable.
...Here was my latest poetic rant expressing that sentiment: a completely-made-up (yet, quite realistic many times in this world) scenario:


The smiling students came to school
To start another day.
Like happy little programmed sheep,
They all linked hands to pray.

They thanked their God for the beautiful sun
And prayed all would go well.
.....(Imagine the horror which ensued
When childish dreams were shot to hell.)

A well-armed man walked onto the yard
And gunshots filled the air.
The children ran, crying hysterically.
...(They never "had a prayer!")

Just moments later, bodies lay
All strewn along the ground.
The Yard Attendant was unarmed...
So the killer fired another round!

Police and news crews soon arrived
And thus the grizzly task begun
Of notifying parents stunned
They've lost their daughter or their son.

They clung in utter disbelief!
They sought the answer, WHY?!
...(You wonder: where's that mighty spook
Who they thought is watching from the sky...?!)

It's easy to believe that shit
When life is hunky-dory...
But I dare such people to praise their God
When fate deals this sad story!

Too many Christians live in a box!
They praise their God when loved-ones are well.
...They cannot bring themselves to weep
When OTHERS are blown to hell.

They come up with all kinds of stories:
..."It was God's will!", they say!
Well, how would they feel if I scoffed at their pain
And said, "Have a lovely day!"

What if I didn't give a fuck
That their kids have more holes than a slab of Swiss Cheese?!
...What if I lived in a self-centered world
Where myself I'd only care to please.

What if my neighbor's kid went missing
And she'd beg us to help in the search?!
How dare anyone say they'll be sure to pray...
(Meanwhile her kid's found dead under the lonely Birch?!)

I put it to the Christians:
Put down your story book!
Reality is right in your face...
If only you'd take a look!

By Alexei Cogan. Copyright 2010

The comments to this entry are closed.

Subscribe/ Donate to This Blog!

Books of mine

Greta on SSA Speakers Bureau

  • Greta Christina is on the Speakers Bureau of the Secular Students Alliance. Invite her to speak to your group!

Your email address:

Powered by FeedBlitz

Powered by Rollyo

Some Favorite Posts and Conversations: Atheism

Some Favorite Posts and Conversations: Sex

Some Favorite Posts: Art, Politics, Other Stuff