Another great talk with @gracefulatheist
Please if you’d like to join us in one of these talk just let us know!
Another great talk with @gracefulatheist
Please if you’d like to join us in one of these talk just let us know!
I had a conversation the other day with a fellow on twitter coming off of one of Ken Ham’s tweets. There was a lot of back and forth and I attempted to understand his position. I did employ some Street Epistemology in the conversation but I think that was done in vain. I just didn’t want to boil over into a flame war. That doesn’t do anything to further any conversation. We somewhat ended the discussion with him asking if I was a naturalist. I hadn’t heard the term before so I looked it up. It essentially is the belief that there is nothing beyond the natural world and everything can be explained with natural process. I’m not a huge fan of labels (that is different than check boxes, I friggen love check boxes) but agreed with that assertion. He then sent me this article talking about some things that naturalism can’t account for. I will spend this post refuting it’s points.
The first point this article makes points out that is that if there is no other plane than the natural then our minds (I’m assuming he means consciousnesses) are nothing other than a result of natural processes. The implication being that we have no true “free will.” My question is, so what? We as a species are excellent input/output machines. We’re also excellent at pattern recognition (even when there isn’t one there). There are even denominations of Christianity that believe we have no free will (Calvinism to name one). The fact that we can look at our selves introspectively can be easily explained by evolution. Once we evolved to the point where we were no longer living from meal to meal our brains suddenly had all this free time. It was freed up to do things like existential thinking. I am looking to do some more research into the entire notion of free will and what possible implications there are to not having it.
Next up is the topic of morality. I sometimes wonder at the nature of “morality” or ethics. I did take a class in college on the subject of ethics and found it fascinating. One thing that I was never really convinced of was moral absolutes. There is the old antic-dote about that goes something like this: You are in 1940’s Germany and are hiding a Jewish family in your house. One day the SS shows up and asks you if you are harboring any Jews in your home. Do you tell a lie and save the family or do you tell the truth and not lie. It’s a pretty easy decision, you lie. Now if you adhere to a strict rule of moral absolutes where no “sin” is greater than another then you have a pickle here. You’d have to tell the truth and in turn an entire family dies. YOU made that choice and would have to live with that the rest of your days. That doesn’t seem very “moral” to me.
The final point the argument presented is that of meaning. Essentially that with out god our lives are nothing more than what we have here while we’re alive. There’s no higher purpose to our existence. I fail to see how a deity give our lives any deeper value than that of a life devoid of such a being. Our life meaning is different for everyone. We aren’t designed to worship anything. Our meaning is self-defined. The author points to an example of a child thinking their meaning is to play video games all day. OK, what’s the problem. If this kid can grow up and support himself on playing video games more power to him (there is some serious money in that industry). If not, they will have to do what we all do and find a job they can tolerate to support that which he finds fulfilling (video games). Granted there are exceptions to this the biggest being if you find your meaning by infringing on someone else’s life (such as murder, rape, and the like).
As I stated before I was pointed to this article from a Twitter user and promised I would give my rebuttal. I don’t believe that anything else other than the natural order of things is needed to explain us. We aren’t special. We are just another animal on this planet that happens to have a higher intellect. Our ability to self-reflect, make moral decisions, and find fulfillment can all be explained by our evolutionary history. I now had the difficult task of finding that twitter string and sharing this article with that user…whose name has completely escaped me.
Isn’t atheism just another religion?
I’ve seen this one a few times out there. People like Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis like to tout this one. He takes it a step further in saying that atheism and those who believe in the theory of evolution are religious and want to kill Christianity by saying they aren’t a religion so they can be taught in schools…yeah so no. But to get back to people who genuinely think that atheism is a religion, no it’s not.
Atheism is an answer to a single question, “Do you believe in a god (or gods)?” There are no tenents of atheism. There are no rules, no dogma, no other unifying factor in it other than a lack of a belief in any god. We don’t meet weekly and study “The God Delusion” or watch old videos of Christopher Hitchens. I’ve heard it explained this way which may be helpful: Atheism is as much of a religion as not stamp collecting is a hobby. My lack of beliefs do not guide my actions, only my beliefs.
We atheists don’t have a club. Most of us disagree on a lot of things. We disagree on whether morality is subjective or objective. We disagree on whether there is free will. There are a lot of things that we don’t have in common. Literally the only idea we share is a lack of a belief in a god. I know I’m repeating this a lot here but this seems to be a huge point of confusion. There are other idea that atheists may gravitate towards such as Secular Humanism but again that’s also not a religion any more than a book club is. The confusion here might just be a paradigm issue. Theists just may not understand that one can live a life without religion.
What would it take for you to believe in God?
Firstly I would have to ask which god? Yaweh? Allah? Zues? Vishnu? But getting past that and assuming they meant whichever god they believe in I suppose there are a lot of things. Perhaps something written in our DNA that has their signature in it? Like “Yaweh was here”. But readable in every known language. This would have to be in the DNA of every living thing.
I often thought that maybe magical sky writing they everyone could read in their own language but that could be alien in nature.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Arthur C. Clark
The long and short of it though (borrowed from Matt Dillahunty) is that if there was a god, it would know exactly what evidence I would need.
What if you’re wrong?
I’ve heard this from a lot of Christians “What if you’re wrong, that means you’re going to hell. You don’t want that do you?” Well there are a few things that come to mind when I see this. First and foremost, what if you’re wrong? There a lots of religions out there. What if you picked and / or were born into the wrong one? Do you actually thing that if you were born in another part of the world that you would come to the same belief about Christianity that you do today? I’m willing to bet that if you were born and raised in the middle east that you’d be a follower of Islam. Perhaps if you were born in India you’d be practicing Hinduism. I find it interesting that depending on where you’re born and raised so heavily influences religious beliefs. It’s almost as if man created god instead of the other way around. Seems unfair that you’d be sent to hell for a belief that you’re convinced of due to your culture. I quote a great philosopher of our time, Homer Simpson “Suppose we’ve chosen the wrong god? Every time we go to church we’re just making him madder and madder.”
Secondly, from what I’ve read and been taught, when one ends up in heaven you just don’t want to “sin” anymore. For a god that is so worried about free will that it won’t reveal him/her/itself to the world because it would mess with our “free will” they seem very ready to take it away once you get to heaven. Free will is a subject for a whole other blog post but just one more thought on that. If free will is what keeps god hidden because if we knew they existed then we would have no choice but to worship him, what about Satan? He knew god existed and still chose not to. He was his right hand angel for a while there and still went up against him. Seems that knowing that god exists doesn’t really have a bearing on whether or not we worship him.
If I’m wrong, god has a lot of explaining to do…
We’re back for week two of Ask and Atheist. I pulled the list from this site. Still not 100% sure if it’s a troll site or not but judging by some of the other posts…no. Anyway on with the show!
1. If creationists can’t do science, then why do Kent Hovind and Duane T. Gish, who are creation scientists, have professional degrees in science? I’m unaware of any rule that says creationists can’t be scientists.
2. If dinosaurs turned into birds, why are we not afraid of them? That’s not how evolution works…like at all.
3. If homosexuality is right, then how come two people of the same sex not produce a child? Homosexuality and hetirosexuality it are neither right nor wrong. They just are. I’m assuming that you aren’t a big fan of just having fun. Everything has to have a reason?
4. What purpose do we have if evolution is real? One has nothing to do with the other but putting that kind of lense on meaning my guess would be to propigate the species.
5. You say Jesus never existed, but have you heard of the Shroud of Turin? 1) I never said that. An historical Jesus may very well have existed. 2) That claim has been debunked many times.
6. Why do we not see humans being born in the zoos from monkeys if we came from monkeys? Again that’s not how evolution works.
7. Why do we go to church if God is not real? I don’t.
8. How did the Grand Canyon form? Millions of years of water errosion.
9. Do you know that Jesus loves you? But somehow his love for me is dependant on me loving him? Wouldn’t call that unconditional.
10. If Christianity is false, then why is it popular? The Roman empire.
11. If you say Christianity is not true, then why do hundreds of people continue to become saved every day? Indoctrination, finding people at their most vunerable, people at the end of their rope will cling to anything.
12. Why do we not see half trees and half carrots, fronkeys, and crocoducks if evolution is real? You really don’t know how evolution works do you?
13. Why is Richard Dawkins afraid to debate Ray Comfort? Ask him
14. Did you know Christopher Hitchens was saved before death? Source please.
15. Are you aware Ray Comfort disproved atheism with a banana? Yeah I saw that stunt… coconuts don’t seem to be built for the human hand and have much higher benefits to us so….
16. Why do people laugh at evolutionists? Not sure I’ve seen that happen.
17. How did the planets form when the Big Bang explosion all of a sudden happen? After all, you don’t see round objects form when something blows up. Big bang wasn’t like a bomb going off. It was the rapid expension of both time and space. Gravity started pressing particles together until we had atoms. This atoms we’re pressed together until we had stars. When those stars died out they created heavier elements that got together and formed…and so on and so on…I’m not a cosmologist.
18. If evolution is real, how can it explain gravity, angular momentum, human emotions, and why we worship God? Well it can’t. Evolution explains one process in biology. You keep using that word…I don’t think it means what you think it means.
19. How did pond scum make living things appear out of nowhere? What you’re referring to is abiogenesis. That is one of the thoeries of how life started on Earth. This process is something that’s been studied by much smarter people than me. While I understand the gyst of it in my head, I would have a hard time explaining.
20. How can evolution be true if we don’t see pocket watches or airplanes form by themselves? Have you been to every planet? How do you know there isn’t a planet of sentiant pocket watches.
21. Did you know that dinosaurs and man lived together? Yeah not so much.
22. If evolution is real, then why do caring people like Rick Santorum argue that it must be challenged in the classroom? People get scared when you show evidence that what they believe is false. It’s called the backfire effect.
23. Why are youtube atheists like AronRa and Thunderf00t afraid to debate Ray Comfort? Ask them.
24. Why do we celebrate Christmas if Christianity is not real? Most of the traditions of Christmas are stolen from other pagan holidays.
25. If creationists can’t do science, then why does the website Answersingenesis have proven science articles from creationists that do science? See answer one but as far as AIG there’s a great YouTube channel that debunks most of AIG.
26. If evolution is true, then why can’t white people compete to be good in basketball like black people? After all, white people can’t jump! This a satirical right?
27. Where do you decide to fit God in your everyday life if you don’t believe in him? The same place I fit leaporcons and unicorns.
28. Why is Christianity the fastest growing religion if it’s false? It’s actually not…that would be Islam…better convert there bud!
29. Do you feel free to commit murders, homosexuality, go to strip bars, steal, commit adultery, and do other sins since you believe there is no God? I can tell you I’ve killed exactly the number of people I’ve wanted to! Zero.
30. Why do the fossils say no to evolution? Yeah but they actually say the opposite of that.
31. Why did Darwin admit that how the eye formed is impossible? I’m unfamiliar with that but Carl Sagan did a great job of explaining the evolution of the eye.
32. Where did everything come from if there is no God? Not sure but that’s a more honest answer than “god did it”
33. If there is no God, then why do we have laws that govern us, such as speed limits? Mainly to keep us safe from each other. I’m kind of a libritatan. Your rights end where mine begin.
34. Do you know where you are going when you die? In the ground.
35. Why do we not act like monkeys if it is true we came from monkeys? We actually act a lot like monkeys but we evolved differently so we just look better doing it.
36. Why do we display The Ten Commandments in the courtrooms if you say the Bible is not real? We shouldn’t. There is the first amendment that is supposed to stop these things from happening and many organizations around to help as well.
37. Why should be it wrong to rape if God is not real? Consent
38. Why is The Passion of The Christ very high on the Box Office? People like torture porn. Same reason there are so many Saw movies.
39. How can America not be a Christian nation if there are way more churches than mosques? So what happens when there are more mosques than churches, does that make us an Islamic nation?
40. How is the bible not real if it’s the most popular book read by man? By that logic there must be a wizard named Harry Potter somewhere in London right now…
41. How did the moon form? I haven’t looked into it.
42. Did you know that famous scientists like Newton, Sir Richard Owen, Einstein, Galileo, and Copernicus were creationists? I’d like to see the sources on these. But if they were I’d be willing to bet it was more to cohesion than genuine belief.
43. Why do we not see black people come from white people? What?
44. Why are fruitflies still fruitflies in the lab experiments if they are claimed to prove evolution? I think I know what your talking about here but I’m gonna have to guess as you didn’t leave much information as to what your talking about. I believe you’re talking about speciation which is essentially when different groups of the same animal can no longer mate and produce viable offspring. Well that’s was evolution is. It may still be a fruitfly but it’s a new species of fruitfly.
45. Did you know that the Piltdown Man was a hoax used for Darwinist propaganda? Yup
46. Why do we not see frogs turn into birds? THATS NOW HOW EVOLUTION WORKS!!!!
47. Why is Fox News dishonest if it is a network run by truthful Christians? No Christian has ever lied… /sarcasm
48. Why did Hitler fail to make a superior race if evolution is true? Ah the good old Hitler troupe. Not even gonna aknowladge that one.
Well as I don’t quiet have a large following I figured I’d search online for some questions for Atheists. So here’s my best go at answering them. Please let me know if you see any flaws in my logic. These questions are taken from here. I’m not going to spend time going into each of his “gotcha” points under each question, I’m simply going to answer the question.
Is Atheism a LACK of Belief in God or a BELIEF that there is no God?
As I’ve stated in an early post Atheism is a lack of belief in a god or gods. Gnostic would be someone who claims knowledge of the existence of a god or gods.
If God Exists Would You Become A Christian?
Having read a lot of the bible (not all admittedly) I would say no. God has shown himself to be a jealous, angry, petty, vindictive god with few redeemable qualities. Sure I wouldn’t be an Atheist any more but I wouldn’t be a Christian. Unless it’s been shown the the god of the bible isn’t the same one that appears (such as people didn’t accurately put down what this god thinks or how he acts) but in that case you wouldn’t be a the same Christian you are now.
How Do You Determine What’s Right & What’s Wrong?
Mainly empathy. When facing a moral dilemma I ask how would I feel if everyone else did what I’m about to do. This allows me to see things in a case by case basis instead of a broad stroke.
How Do You Deal With Guilt & Sin in Your Life?
Well I don’t think there is such a thing as sin so I don’t? As far as guilt I do my best to set things right with whomever I may have offended or wronged. I don’t just ask an invisible man in the sky forgiveness. That doesn’t help the situation in anyway.
Do You Act According To What You Believe or According To What You Lack In Belief?
I act in accordance to what I believe. I believe things that have acceptable proof. I know some theists will asks atheists how can you believe what you don’t see, like air and gravity. Well those things have observable effects (or is affects I can never get that right…). I can grab a stopwatch and see how long it takes object to fall at different heights. If I wanted to know that I’m breathing air and what’s in I can run the experiments that were documented in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Can You Prove HOW the Universe Was Created?
I can’t but neither can you. Saying you have an ancient book whose only validation is itself is not the same as a claim to knowledge.
Can You Prove That God Does Not Exist?
Nope. Can you prove that he does? If so I’d love to see that information.
Do You Know Where You’re Going When You Die?
My body will slowly decompose in to more basic elements and the energy that was stored in my body will be transferred into the microbes and eventually larger organisms that use that as food.