He doesn’t know why god threw a gamma ray burst in our direction (read here), he just knows that he did it. Blind, foolish faith at its finest. There’s nothing left to discuss. He started by defending the Bible and then he told me that he didn’t learn about god from ministers, his parents, or get this, the Bible. Claims to have a personal relationship with god, but can’t find out why he threw a gamma ray burst in our direction; yet he claims to know that that’s how it went down Arrogant Christians these days.
Posts tagged god.
Because I’m choosing neither. Both are demonstrably false. Hell is not a real place and god does not exist. I would lay out the evidence, but you’re going to ignore this response anyway.
I challenge a Christian, any Christian, to come up with an original and new argument for god, theism and/or Christianity. “All thinking men are atheists.” At the moment, I don’t see a reason to disagree with that statement. We atheists are freethinkers; Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, etc. don’t think for us. Show us that Craig, Licona, Swinburne, Plantinga, etc. don’t think for you; in other words, rather than rehash their old, tired, refuted-many-times-over arguments, present something original, new and most importantly, convincing.
My prediction: it can’t be done. In any case, follow this one rule and you’ll be okay: don’t get sloppy; I am keen at noticing a rehashed, modified or blatantly plagiarized argument!
What percentage of philosophers are theists? How many of them believe in free will? More importantly: how many of them think zombies are actually possible? Finally, a study has provided an answer to all these questions, and more.
From the article:
8. God: atheism 72.8%; theism 14.6%; other 12.6%.
85.4% are non-theists. That’s a pleasant surprise.
Deconversion Movement responded rather rapidly to my post earlier this week about atheism, in a thoughtful post for which I am very grateful. As I have rather more things than blogging occupying my time, I haven’t been able to show DM the courtesy of as rapid a response as he gave to me, and yet now I shall endeavor to respond to his well-articulated post. Such a response is necessary for a variety of reasons, not all of which will be covered in the following, for to cover all of them would require more time and space than seems requisite for an internet argument. DM displays what appears to be a keen grasp of a variety of topics in his blog, and so I was somewhat surprised to find that he had almost entirely missed the main thrust of my argument, and so spent many words accomplishing little at all. This must certainly have been my own fault, and so I shall devote a portion of my response to clarification as to what, precisely, I meant in my original post. However, first I must spend a small amount of time ironing out a few definitions for two reasons. First, in any philosophical dialogue there must be some definition of what one means when one says a given word, for the same word can have very different meanings in different instances. Secondly, it is clear from DM’s initial response that he is woefully misinformed about the meaning of certain words, and so I shall attempt to clarify what some words mean, explain what I mean by some words, and hopefully improve DM’s understanding of the way things are.
(Emphasis mine in bold) It’s funny; your friend says the same thing prior to asking me a question (see here). I may or may not reply to him; he’s already given me an arrogant attitude, and usually that kind of attitude makes any discussion an exercise in futility. Furthermore, it’s safe to assume that he isn’t well-versed in science and will likely (intentionally) bypass the implications of anything I lay on the table. Now to your response.
jrosmith asked: More on your dibola's post about science: There is no such thing as "proving" something in science. You can design one thousand experiments to "prove" a hypothesis, but what really matters is whether or not you can design one to disprove it. Personal gods have no room in science because gods are null hypotheses, they cannot be tested. For someone who claims to love a subject, dibola sure has a fundamental misunderstanding of the scientific method.
I agree. That is precisely why I said that scientific facts disprove the notion indirectly. For instance, when you think about how we evolved and thus, how our brains evolved, you see the emergence of a (perhaps) never before seen cognition; this cognition led us to realize our limitations on a level above the rest of the animal kingdom. In realizing these limitations, we began to conceptualize anthropomorphic beings that can overcome these limitations (i.e. dying and rising gods, immortal gods, omniscient gods, omnipotent gods, weather-controlling and natural disaster-controlling gods, etc.).* We evolved; we have complex brains. These are facts that we know through science, but they are also facts that indirectly disprove any notion of god; it is a fact that if our brains weren’t as complex, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.**
*Of course, this doesn’t account for the different kinds of gods that have been conceptualized. While it is true that most gods are, in some sense, anthropomorphic, they aren’t always so. It can be argued that some gods were conceptualized due to a heightened humanism (that is to say, a humanism that extends beyond humanity into the rest of the animal kingdom; the Native American deities come to mind). Their reverence for nature gave rise to the gods they conceptualized; the same can be said of the ancient Egyptians. Perhaps the idea of heightened humanism needs to be made more clear, but I hope you at least grasped what I was trying to get at.
**I’m not in any way saying that other non-human cognitions aren’t complex enough to conceptualize gods; it could be that dolphins and whales and perhaps chimps and gorillas conceptualize supernatural beings. They may even liken these beings after themselves, but this is conjecture. Someone once said that if triangles had a god, it would no doubt look like a triangle. It goes to show that gods are projections that are contingent on our limitations and mortality.
Science doesn’t actually say that god doesn’t exist. Science can’t prove that he doesn’t nor prove that he does exist. For something to be scientific fact something has to be proven. So think about that before you say “God doesn’t exist.” to somebody. You’re entitled to your beliefs just like anyone else but just remember what I told you.
I’m not on anyone’s side, I’m just stating a fact that involves a subject I love which is science. Thank you.
Absence of evidence is evidence of absence where evidence is to be expected. Simply put, a personal god would interact with the physical universe; therefore, we would be able to perceive such interaction. Yet what is labeled a miracle is never a miracle and what is labeled an act of god is never an act of god. Science doesn’t need to disprove god; science makes god unnecessary. Science has, in fact, refuted the notion of god indirectly (that is to say that a collection of scientific facts refute this notion and not that the idea of god crumpled under the scientific method); in the interest of brevity, I’ll choose not to explain that. If you require an explanation, feel free to inbox me.
It is notable that the internet has produced an interesting subculture of atheism, the members of which possess a pride in their vaunted rationality that is paralleled only by their singular lack of willingness to engage in genuine dialogue. Many proud peddlers of tumblr atheism and r/atheism concern themselves primarily with making image macros of their favorite demagogues and posting screen capped mockeries of facebook stati, while the more astute among them claim that the enlightened modern atheist is the only individual who can do good acts eo ipso, and not out of fear of divine retribution.
This is a sad conclusion, but more or less an accurate and unfortunate one.
Existentialism is nothing less than an attempt to draw all the consequences of a coherent atheistic position. It isn’t trying to plunge man into despair at all. But if one calls every attitude of unbelief despair, like the Christians, then the word is not being used in its original sense. Existentialism isn’t so atheistic that it wears itself out showing that God doesn’t exist. Rather, it declares that even if God did exist, that would change nothing. There you’ve got our point of view. Not that we believe that God exists, but we think that the problem of His existence is not the issue. In this sense, existentialism is optimistic, a doctrine of action, and it is plain dishonesty for Christians to make no distinction between their own despair and ours and then to call us despairing.
Probably the most well-known intellectual atheists of the 20th century were Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre. However Camus privately and Sartre publicly converted vaguely to monotheism, Catholic and Jewish respectively.
A look at the rationale behind their conversions constitutes the best case for the existence of God. We may call this the existentialist argument for God. It’s also touched by Pascal, Kierkegaard, Chesterton, Lewis, Wittgenstein, and the film (I haven’t read the book) Life of Pi.
First, ground rules:
- God’s existence or non-existence cannot be objectively demonstrated through empirical evidence or deductive argument. Why?
- Because the question of God, by most definitions, concerns basic presuppositions about reality itself. Contra “new atheism” the question is not scientific. It is pre-scientific, pre-theoretic, as Karl Popper eloquently stated. Consider:
- You can demonstrate the proposition “a tree exists” by showing a tree to me. You and I share (in language and practice if not in conscious theory) basic presuppositions like the physical world exists, other minds exist, and one can satisfactorily demonstrate to other people that a tree-size physical object exists by showing it to them.
- But you cannot objectively demonstrate basic presuppositions themselves. We have no common ground here, no criteria for satisfactory objective demonstration in language and practice..
God, as a concept, cannot be empirically supported or refuted. However, the existence or non-existence of specific god concepts can be empirically support or refuted, and as it stands, the prevalent god concepts are not supported empirically. You highlighted Catholicism and Judaism; their god is the Judeo-Christian god. Of all the god concepts, this god concept is highly refutable—even when using non-empirical methodology like historical methods and (arguably) statistical methods (i.e. Bayes Theorem). I can say this with all certainty: the Judeo-Christian god does not exist and that can be proven empirically. How? Everything believers claim to know about this god is based on the Bible. Therefore, we must look at the claims in the Bible and test them against reality. One claim that is made is that of miracles. The Bible clearly states that anything is possible with god. Nonetheless, every miracle claim to date has been explained naturally. Amputees do not grow back limbs. Cancer goes into regression. Incorruptibility can be explained naturally and the fact that it is common in other religions shows that it isn’t exclusive to Christianity, which disproves the jealous god of the Bible; in other words, he wouldn’t allow these “miracles” via other religions. When considering these facts, it is safe to conclude that the Judeo-Christian concept of god doesn’t exist in reality.
Presupposition is the dubious nature of apologetics. The question of god does not concern basic presuppositions of reality. The question of god concerns faith and unsubstantiated conviction. One does not presuppose god; if that were the case, religion would leave no rice trail; we wouldn’t be able to follow its development. We wouldn’t be able to demonstrate how this concept of god and that concept of god came to be. Furthermore, religion wouldn’t be an ascribed status (social status assigned at birth); a child wouldn’t be indoctrinated or brought up learning and affiliated with x or y religion. No believer presupposes god’s existence—especially when considering that a good percentage of theists are converts. I agree with point three, but point four is ambiguous and I believe that that was done intentionally—since an example of four cannot be demonstrated. Nothing is presupposed in our reality—not even the efficacy of reason. All that is known is known by way of some type of evidence—whether empirical or non-empirical. A believer can claim to presuppose god’s existence, but I have every right to question that presupposition—especially in light of a contrary reality. Our reality is a natural one and I know this because of naturalism and uniformitarianism—two concepts that I have not presupposed. I accept these as true because of their repeated efficacy. Even if one makes the claim that I presuppose naturalism, the facts do not change; naturalism is assumed (for good reason) in many instances, but it doesn’t follow that it is universally presupposed. Thus, even if naturalism is presupposed, the nature of evidence doesn’t change. However, if one presupposes supernaturalism, results aren’t achieved; furthermore, the facts act against it and thus, act in favor of naturalism.
So how could we move forward? Is the question itself pointless, leaving us only the agnostic or the arbitrary? Not necessarily. (Not if you care about the question anyway.)
Wittgenstein in Culture and Value (1984) offers the imagery of iron. Physical sciences, deduction, and so forth are cold. You need cold to set the molecular bonds and use the tool. But first you need heat. As heat forges iron, so intuition and reflection and personal experience mould our understanding of the scaffolding of reality. These are other, more fundamental, more necessary means of knowing than objective empiricism. These are the kind of methods you must use if you are to investigate the question of God.
This entire section is convoluted and intentionally ambiguous, but it doesn’t change the core message: “god exists and we can know this via intuition, reflection and personal experience.” This is false. If x god can be known in such a manner, b god, c god, d god, w, y, and z god can be known in like manner. Also, what does one say if the intuition, reflection and personal experience of another leads that person to “know” that god doesn’t exist? While I agree that personal experience (to some degree) molds our understanding of reality, I don’t agree that personal experience is infallible. Therefore, it is untrustworthy when considering the question of god. It is a fact that one’s personal experience can be influenced by interested parties (i.e. Christian parents or family members, Muslim friends, Jewish community leaders, the prevalent religion where one resides, etc.). If my personal experience is limited to one religion or another, or the lack of religion altogether, how much can I rely on it when answering the question of god? The question of god, like any question, should be answered in light of knowledge—and I don’t think anyone has a claim on knowledge if it is limited or myopic. I know a Jewish girl who has decided to believe in god. Why? Because she lives in an orthodox Jewish household that is part of an orthodox Jewish community. I’m sure we can go on ad infinitum with examples of such people. Are their personal experiences trustworthy enough to presuppose god’s existence? No. I have a personal experience that’s fuller, but when answering the god question, I provide facts; I don’t presuppose his nonexistence because of what my experience dictates.
Which basic presupposition—atheism or theism—makes more sense of your experience of the universe? There is no objectively right or wrong answer here.
When considering all of the evidence and taking into account all background knowledge—without assuming the truth of x or y religious text—atheism is objectively right. Let’s consider some facts that anyone can experience in this universe: bad “design” (i.e. wisdom teeth, weak knees, weak backs, laryngeal nerve of the giraffe, eyes of the flatfish, the “host” behavior of icheneumon larvae, etc.), “purposeless” objects (i.e. rogue planets, rogue stars, neutron stars, asteroids, etc.), senseless suffering (i.e. cancer in children, sex trafficking of children, abuse of children, etc.), etc. The notion of an all-loving, good, just, personal god is overturned by those facts. If there’s a god, it doesn’t want us to know and it doesn’t care for its reputation. In a deontological sense, I agree with Dawkins. There is no objective design, purpose, good or evil. However, from a teleological sense, I would disagree; there is ex post facto purpose, good or evil—and there is the appearance of design. Sure, the Earth looks designed, but it isn’t—and we know this because we can know its history via geology and via the study of planets that are currently forming. There is no sign that points to a god; everything can be explained naturally.
The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.
As for me, I don’t see myself as so much dust that has appeared in the world but as a being that was expected, prefigured, called forth. In short, as a being that could, it seems, come only from a creator; and this idea of a hand that that created me refers me back to God.
I don’t blame Sartre for thinking this way. While evolution was known during his lifetime, the theory wasn’t as developed as it is today. Furthermore, even after the Miller-Urey Experiment, there were few developments in the study of abiogenesis. In any case, this quote conveys the idea of pseudo-design. One can argue that we look designed, but when considering the facts, that argument falls flat. We are not designed. While the theist credits god for our symmetry and our brains, an atheist will discredit the notion by highlighting the appendix, wisdom teeth, the fact that we only have two sets of teeth whilst sharks have numerous sets (in other words, if I break my front teeth once, I’ll grow them back, but if I break them again, I’m toothless unless I replace them with dentures; sharks don’t face this problem), etc. So the creator gave more priority to the teeth of a “purposeless” predator that can’t even worship him. Conjecture can get ridiculous on both sides as you can see; that is why evidence and background knowledge are so important.
Does the possibility and actuality of a physical universe ordered by natural laws make more sense to you under the lights of atheistic or theistic presuppositions? Does the possibility and actuality of meaning or purpose in human experience line up better with one or the other? Paraphrasing Life of Pi, “given you can’t objectively determine which story is true and given the immediate result is the same, which is the better story: the one with the cannibalism or the one with the tiger?”
For me, the most interesting observation is that in fact humans have this wide sense of purposeful personhood which may make more sense under the theistic premise of a transcendently purposeful personhood in God.
I don’t know whether I’m convinced. I remain agnostic for the time being. The iron’s still hot.
Well, I hope to have unplugged this hot iron. Our personhood can be explained without transcendence and/or god. Our personhood isn’t ontological; if you want to argue in favor of that, you must justify the non-personhood or limited personhood of them who suffer from autism spectrum, neurodegenerative diseases, down syndrome, etc. What is purposeful—from a theist perspective—about such personhood? I would have no trouble explaining this in light of atheism and naturalism. Disease and defect are common in nature and a concept like Original Sin wouldn’t extend far enough to explain this fact in the rest of the animal kingdom. “We fell into sin and hence suffer disease and death.” Okay, what did the rest of life do to warrant disease and death? Why did disease and death exist before humans? Yet these are some of the reasons why I think atheism makes much more sense.