Archive for the ‘atheism’ category

Critical Thinking

May 18, 2009

I’ve been out of the battle of worldviews for awhile, but I just couldn’t resist after reading this gem. 

In fact, I have no idea why I was reading “Proud Atheists” again.  Truth be told I don’t find Mark to be intelligent and unique.  He’s just very good at condescending sarcasm and ignorant sensationalism which fills his blog stats.  Indeed, I wouldn’t even be writing this here if I was able to comment on his site (that’s right, I asked him a few tough questions and he banned me back in January). 

OK on to the point.  Mark wrote a post called Let’s Set the Record Straight, and I couldn’t help but smile triumphantly.  The purpose of the post was to . . . set the record straight . . . about how he feels about his atheism.  Some of the points aren’t worth discussing, but others are very telling. 

Part of this first point reads:

 I do not believe in gods, devils, demons, spirits, ghosts, souls, angels or any other being that controls humans.

This begs the question of free will.  Since God doesn’t exist then man is nothing but biochemistry (to say otherwise is just plain ignorance of biochemistry).  So instead of God “controlling us”, as Mark puts it, it is DNA and the chemical interactions controlled by that DNA that controls us.  Mark would call it “What I decided to do at the time” or “I do what I think is right”, but it’s all the same, brain activity controlled by biochemical interactions. 

So, Mark is right, he doesn’t believe in a being that controls humans, and neither do I (for if God really controlled us than atheism wouldn’t exist), but he believes in a worldview that makes the idea of “free will” nothing more than a created self-delusion.  Just as Mark sees those who believe in a deity as delusional, Mark has deluded himself that he has “free will” absent of God.   

Mark’s second point is:

As an atheist, I do not accept prayers, spells, curses, invitations to your theistic site for debate, scriptures, books, videos and other “God” media as proof of “existence of God”. Although you may find them inspirational, they are man made and only support a belief, not proof.

OK, so Mark has proof, while Christians only believe.  Got it.  Also, Mark will not engage in any debate and will not read any evidence for Christianity or against atheism.  Got it.  Take note of these two, they’ll become important in about two seconds.

He continues on with:

It is not my responsibility as an atheist to provide proof for my non-belief in your God or gods. However, if you claim to believe that elves and other supernatural phenomena exist, the burden of proof is on you. Without proof, you will be deemed as deluded in my view.

Wait. wait…wait.  I thought Mark had all the proof and us Christians didn’t?  I find it pretty selfish of Mark to keep all this “proof” to himself.  So, Mark won’t discuss any evidence for any opposite position and he won’t provide any evidence for his position.  Now that’s what I call a rational worldview!

I am not obligated to respect your religion, as most religions do not respect atheism or critical thought for that matter.

If “critical thought” is refusing to discuss an issue and provide evidence for your own opinion then I’ve been doing it all wrong!

Now you see why reading this had me all smiles.  No matter how loud or often Mark calls Christians irrational, his own words betray that he is just as dogmatic as any true believer that I know.

Apparently, Only Atheists Can Argue Theology

March 9, 2009

Awhile ago I saw a post over at Daniel Florien’s Unreasonable Faith that caught my eye.  Daniel was responding to a video of a creation vs. evolution discussion when he made a few interesting comments.

Apparently the proponent of creation admitted to having presupposed beliefs (presuppositions).  These beliefs are admittedly unscientific.  This is how Daniel summarizes his presuppositions:

(1) God exists, (2) that this God is the Christian God, (3) that this God wrote a book, and (4) that book is the Protestant Bible as we have it today.

Whatever discrepancies we can find in Daniel’s summary we’ll ignore because they are besides the point.  The point is Daniel’s reaction to these presuppositions.

Nothing big there — just everyday presuppositions that we all have. Completely rational starting points of a scientific worldview. Ugh.

I believe some explanation may be due here.  What Daniel is saying that the Christian presuppositions are not conducive to a scientific worldview, therefore they are invalid.  A scientific worldview, the worldview that Daniel holds to, is superior because it is scientific and the Christian worldview is inferior because it is not based upon science.  Would we all agree that this is Daniel’s position?

In fact, it would be more accurate to say that the Christian argument is a theological one.  That is, the Christian presuppositions are about what God would do and did do (created the world, wrote a book).  That’s what makes a belief in the Bible unscientific, because it’s about what God did, which, although it may be observable, is unrepeatable by science. 

Negative Theology

To the atheist, the fact that Christians make theological arguments at all disqualifies them from any rational discussion.  After all, the only thing that can be verified is science, right?

Unfortunately, at the end of his article, Daniel inadvertently gives the atheistic “Secrets to Denying God” away.

Just after he finishes chastising the Christian for making a theological argument, Daniel says:

I thought Peter Atkins makes a great point that if evolution is true and God exists, he chose a “particularly nasty” way of going about creating the world.

Oh the hypocrisy!  That God created the world in a “nasty” way is a theological argument as well!  It’s just a negative one.   In fact, the belief that Daniel is displaying is that “If God created the world, then He did a nasty job of it, therefore it’s unlikely that God created the world”.  That’s the definition of negative theology!

But does Daniel chastise Peter Atkins for making a theological argument just as the Christian did?  Of course not. 

Is Atkins theological argument rejected because it is unscientific, just as the Christians’ theological arguments are?  Of course not.

To science, what’s the difference between Atkin’s theological position, and the Christian one?  None except that Daniel agrees with Atkins.

It’s a perfect tactic.  It allows the atheist to make all the negative theological arguments they want, while rejecting any Christian rebuttal on the basis it is “unscientific”, denying the whole time that their original argument was unscientific theology as well.

Apparently, only atheists can make theological arguments.

Atheists Only Use Science? Don’t Fool Yourself

February 24, 2009

Every Christian who is interested in argument should learn from this example. Atheists and other non-Christians argue in this way all the time, and if we want to be effective in answering them, we must be able to spot it in action.

What I’m talking about is the hypocritical and contradictory arguments used in defense of atheism, and in offense against Christianity.

I was talking with a commenter called “RJ”, and our conversation hit a few different topics from morality, to Bible, to science.  RJ is a cordial, intelligent fellow who recognized that we are at a fundamental impasse in our conversation due to how differently we view things.  However, what RJ doesn’t realize is how contradictory the very structure of his arguments are to his stated positions.

Remember, the point here isn’t that RJ is wrong (it’s obvious that I think he is) and that I’m right (again, obviously I think I am).  The point is that RJ’s arguments are contradictory and hypocritical in their very structure, and the proving of this has nothing to do with our mutually opposite opinions.

RJ’s Standard of Belief

It’s a popular position among atheists to claim that only they have science on their side.  Truly, they believe they are the only ones who use science, especially in comparison to us crazy Young Earth Creationists.

RJ makes this point very clearly.  We were discussing a particular passage of Scripture.  When I explained my view, RJ rejected my explanation based upon the fact that he could not empirically verify my explanation:

That’s interesting. Show me your evidence to support your assertion that “this is no broad commandment from god”? Can you produce falsifiable evidence to support this claim? You’re issuing a conclusion based on what?

The point RJ is making is that since I cannot provide scientific (observable and testable) evidence for my claim about what Scripture is and is not saying, therefore my statement holds no water.

RJ goes on:

The problem here is that you are claiming absolute knowledge of the meanings of scripture.

The implication is that since reading and interpreting Scripture is not a scientific endeavor, then it is inherently flawed and untrustworthy.  RJ is pointing out the inherently unscientific nature of my Christianity which stands in stark contrast to his scientific position.  In fact, RJ makes this point more blatantly:

Ignorance of science, and knowledge in general, is a tactic used by all religions. The less the flock knows, the easier it is to convince, convert and control.

and . . .

If you argue for creation, then we reach an impasse. You rely on “faith”, a rationalization, blind to fact, and posited from a “backed into a corner” mentality.

and . . .

The ONLY way that a creator can make sense to the believer is if they ignore evidence and embrace “faith”.

The part that RJ explicitly left out, but is no less obvious, is that RJ doesn’t rely on faith, and his “no faith needed” belief system is superior because it is supported by science.

The Atheistic Hypocrisy

RJ does us all a favor and defines what he means by faith for us. 

Faith: Belief that is not based on proof

By proof he means logical proof or scientific evidence.  In fact, that is how the American Heritage Dictionary defines “faith”.

RJ’s standard of belief is scientific evidence, and RJ’s reason for rejecting my argument is that it’s based on “belief that is not based on logical proof or scientific evidence”.  That means any theological or metaphysical position that I have is inferior to his scientific position.

This is where RJ’s hypocrisy comes in.  And the worst part is, he is blind to it. 

Regarding Christianity in general, RJ says:

“Which one of the 33,800+ denominations is the right one?” You fail to address this question, BECAUSE in your mind, YOUR VERSION is the right one.

RJ’s position here is that in order for God to be a viable option, there must a be a clear “right one”.  Right or wrong, this is a theological argument. 

More importantly, it is a theological argument in support of RJ’s atheism, an atheism that is supposed to be “all science” and “no faith”.  That there must be a single “right” version for Christianity to be viable certainly falls into the category of a belief unsupported by logical proof or scientific evidence.

The hypocrisy of RJ’s position is much greater than this, however.  He says:

The problem here is that you are claiming absolute knowledge of the meanings of scripture. . .you are doing EXACTLY what EVERY believer does to RATIONALIZE your position.

RJ’s powerful argument against Christianity, that since no interpretation of Scripture is right, therefore Christianity can’t be right, is a theological and metaphysical argument.  Certainly no scientific experiment told RJ that there is no correct interpretation of Scripture.  Ironically and hypocritically RJ doesn’t allow any metaphysical or theological rebuttals because he pretends and deludes himself that he only believes what can be empirically verified. 

Since science didn’t tell RJ that there isn’t a correct interpretation of Scripture, where did he get the idea?  The idea falls directly into the definition of something that RJ takes on faith.

This hypocrisy is no where more blatant than in this statement:

You apparently don’t follow science. This is where we can easily reach an impasse.

As I’ve shown, our impasse is not due to the fact that I don’t follow science, but from RJ’s willful self-delusion that he does. 

The Atheist Paints Himself into a Corner

Let’s revisit the standard that RJ sets before himself in order to believe.  Remember that “Belief without logical proof or scientific evidence” also known as “faith” is bad.  Since this is RJ’s standard, all of the statements made above must be thrown out of RJ’s belief system.  In fact, anything that doesn’t meet strict empirical standards (observation, testing, and falsifiability) can’t be included either. 

Don’t let the atheist switch between demanding empirical evidence and yet using theological and/or metaphysical arguments.  It’s hypocrisy and should be pointed out as such.

A Self-Reflective View of Science, Theology and Metaphysics

Throughout the entirety of our conversation, RJ never stopped using metaphysical and theological arguments.  Of course, doing so isn’t bad, as I do it all the time as well.  But holding your opponents to a standard of belief (only science!) that you don’t hold yourself to is hypocritical and contradictory.  Defining “faith” as something that is inherently negative and yet ignoring the plethora of beliefs you hold to that have no “logical proof or scientific evidence” is just plain blind. 

What RJ, and the rest of atheism, needs to realize is that they use negative theological and metaphysical arguments all the time, and it is only bad if you deny doing it.

Let me ask you a question atheist:  Which is more rational?  Those that recognize the metaphysical and theological structure/substance of their arguments, or those that make those same metaphysical and theological type arguments but are ignorant that they do so?

Why Shouldn’t I Kill You?

February 17, 2009

That is, if my actions are determined solely by the chemical interactions in my brain, which is in turn determined by DNA, then isn’t any action I perform completely a-moral?  It isn’t right or wrong, it’s just what my DNA has me do. 

This video is a great presentation of this argument in action, and it’s potential implications.

I first saw this video over on 4Simpsons, and Neil has some interesting points on the subject.

As for me, I want to stick to the question of the video and see if anyone can answer it.  I’m honestly curious to see if there is an answer that is consistent with the atheist worldview.

So, tell me, why shouldn’t I kill you?

Comments Deleted and Banned from “Proud Atheists”

January 26, 2009

I’m posting this just so we can have on record yet another intellectually dishonest atheist. 

Mark, over at Proud Atheists, posted some statistics on Christians and atheists in jail.  Trying to make the point that since there are hardly any atheists in jail, therefore religion is bad. 

Of course, the statistic that Mark is purposefully ignoring is that there are hardly any atheists in America!

I pointed this out to him when I said:

Unfortunately, the most recent (2001) ARIS poll shows that only .4% of the US population positively professes atheism while a 2005 Gallup poll shows that only 5% say they don’t believe in God (that includes agnostics btw). It’s convenient of you to use the low population of atheists in prisons but ignore the very low population of atheists in America. Twisting stats just because it suits your argument…tsk tsk Mark.

He responded with:

The keyphrase is “open atheists”.

A new survey in the U.S. shows that the number of 18-25 year olds who are atheist, agnostic or nonreligious has increased from 11 percent in 1986 to 20 percent today.

http://humaniststudies.org/enews/?id=281&article=0

A 2005 survey published in Encyclopædia Britannica finds that the non-religious make up about 11.9% of the world’s population, and atheists about 2.3%. This figure does not include those who follow atheistic religions, such as some Buddhists.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism#Demographic

So, not only does he confirm my statistic in his second citation (2.3%), he completely goes off the deep end with his first citation.  I informed of this:

Mark

This is getting ridiculous. I give you statistics from a Gallup poll and the ARIS report and you give me Pew Research Center from a Humanist website about 18-25 year olds? Since when were we talking about 18-25 year olds?

But I know what you did, you found the highest percentage you could, regardless of reliability and relevance and cited it. Are you even attempting to be honest?

Now, this is where Mark get’s REALLY shady, he responded with:

Polls from 2001?? That’s back when people loved GW Bush. I wouldn’t bet on 8 year old polls no matter who conducted them. Things have changed quite a lot since then. And since when aren’t 18 – 25 year olds relevant?? They pay taxes too!

Like I said, no matter what stats I introduce,you would discredit them.

In the original discussion, that comment ended with the phrase, “And never question my honesty”. 

I wrote two more comments.  One that was devoted to Mark’s intellectual dishonesty in moving goalposts with the 18-25 year old demographic (something that was never in the original article or discussion) and his verbal threat of “Never question my honesty”.

The other comment was to point out the irrationality of Marks’, “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you anyway!” argument, and that if a Christian used that argument, Mark would be all over him like white on rice, but it’s ok if Mark uses it, well, because he’s Mark. 

Both comments, and his threat, were deleted and when I attempted to comment and address his blogging dishonesty, I found that I was banned. 

Mark, the ultimate irony is that you berate Christians for being brainwashed and lacking all logic.  Well, the only one deleting comments, and banning people, who are merely using argument to disagree with you, is not the Christian.

The Problem of Evil, I Want In Too!

January 7, 2009

I haven’t been keeping up much on my “blog surfer” tab as of late.  However, I had some free time tonight, and I wondered what was going on with those who I had neglected as of late.  I found that there is a very interesting conversation going on between Brooks, Sirius, Eric Burns and Cubik’s Rube.  I’ve had the pleasure of conversing with Cubik on several occasions and he has always formed an intellectual argument, even if it wasn’t always rational.  I won’t attempt to recreate the conversation in any fashion here for two reasons: 1) it would take up too much space and 2) it’s irrelevant to the point I want to make and the question I want to ask.

It will suffice to say that the conversation has entered into the realm of the problem of evil, one of the most legitimate arguments any thinker can take upon themselves.  As it stands, Eric Burns, and an astute commentor on his blog named “Pilgrim”, have pointed out that . . .

1.  “Evil” is not a commodity in itself that was created by God, rather it is the absence of good.

2.  Taking away evil would also require God to take away all Free Will. 

These are both excellent points in and of themselves, and I can’t wait to hear what Cubik has to say in response.

My Point

I want to bring to light the statement/belief that is simmering beneath the surface of Cubik’s belief system, especially his stance on evil.  Cubik’s premise that, “If there is an all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing God then there would be no evil”, is ignoring what his true argument is.  We can’t let him get away with it.  Can’t you hear it underneath the surface?  What Cubik is really (and arrogantly I might add) saying is, “God wouldn’t do it this way”.  Cubik’s theological belief is that God wouldn’t do it the way Cubik thinks Cubik would have done it.  Is this really an argument based in logical deduction?

My Question

In order to abolish all evil on Earth, God must force all human beings to act all good all the time.  Here it is:

If God created you a moral zombie, who had no choice but to obey Him at all times, wouldn’t you be more angry at Him for this? 

If true, then either way you will be angry with God.  Either for allowing evil to exist or for forcing evil to not exist.  The truth, then, becomes that you prefer to live your life as if God doesn’t exist, or at least is incompetent.  This preference overrides any intellectual reasons for denying His existence, or competence.  Instead, your intellect get’s put into overdrive with the task of justifying your preference.

Atheism Stands Alone? Don’t Fool Yourself

December 12, 2008

One of the most basic tenets in all of atheism is that atheism is not a belief, it is only a lack of a belief.  If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard it  . . . I’d have at least ten dollars.  The statement that either precedes or follows this is more than likely, “Atheism doesn’t take any faith”.  I’ll be honest, it took me a few months of hearing this statement to form a coherent response to it.  Only recently have I been able to do more than shout, “No, it takes TONS of faith!  You don’t know that God DOESN’T exist!”  As you can probably see, while true, that argument didn’t get me anywhere. 

A quick thesis:  The atheist is deluding themselves into thinking that atheism, or any belief can stand independent of a system of beliefs.

I am in three current conversations at different stages of development, so some of this might be repetative to those of you who am in the middle of this with, but the redundancy is necessary for me to clearly articulate my argument. 

To make sure we’re all on the same page, the most basic question becomes . . .

How Do We Know Things?

The study of that question is called Epistemology.  Atheists and Christians have completely different methods of epistemology.  However, we can all agree that there are three basic ways to know something (I’m stealing this from Eugenie Scott because I like it so much): 

  1. Personal state or insight — a.k.a. intuition or internal knowledge;
  2. Authority or revelation — including religious/spiritual revelation 
  3. Scientific inquiry — Which can only be related to the natural world around us

What this means to us:  Every piece or statement of knowledge such as “atheism is not a belief, and therefore takes no faith” must be scrutinized under, “how do we know this?”. 

This will become important later on. 

Firstly, NO Belief Stands Alone

That is, everyone has a system of beliefs, also known as a worldview.  Truly, an individual could not survive without an entire system.  When I get up in the morning to go to work, I must first believe that I’m truly awake, that I’m not mistaken about which car is mine, and that the interactions I have at work are with real people. 

Can you see what I did there?  I asked myself the all important “how do I know _____?”  in regards to my waking state, the accuracy of my memory, and the existence of reality.  When I ask this question, I must be honest and realize that scientific inquiry can answer none of those questions for me.  The knowledge must have come from one of the other sources of knowledge, either personal insight or authority/revelation.

Can the belief that my car exists be taken separately from my belief that reality exists?  Of course not.

As you can see, in order to function in the real world, I must have a very basic set of beliefs.  However, we must have these beliefs in order to function, so we merely acknowledge them and move on. 

In The Same Way

In order to be a Christian, you must have some very basic beliefs that science can’t inform you about.  That there is existence of things outside of matter (spiritual things), that God is able to speak with humanity, and that the Bible is that communication.  Those pieces of knowledge must come from either personal insight or authoritative revelation.  Of course, Christians believe that our knowledge of God’s existence and His Word comes from the ultimate authority!

Atheism is no different.

In order to believe that God doesn’t exist, you must first or concurrently believe that the natural world is the cause of all things and that only the material exists.  These beliefs are called naturalism and materialism.  Once you believe those two, then you’re free to believe that no god exists.  The modern atheist adds the beliefs of uniformitarianism and empiricism as well. 

Note: It was pointed out to me that perhaps Buddhists would call themselves atheists but still believe in a spiritual realm.  Even if this is true, the Buddhist would then have other beliefs that are inseparable from their atheism, the Buddhist is not an exception.

The Atheistic Delusion

One of my conversations is with morsecOde.  In his most recent comment he made a very interesting and telling statement.  This statement is the crux of the issue, and is one of the main reasons I was moved to write this article.  He said:

 Evidence backs up naturalism and materialism.

When morseOde talks of “evidence” he means evidence as a result of scientific inquiry.  This is the most basic of atheistic assumptions, that all the scientific evidence we have backs up their position and that God is an added, unnecessary and illogical conclusion.  You’ll hear it all the time, “If I saw evidence to believe in a god, I would”.  If it can be shown that scientific inquiry can not back up the big four atheistic beliefs, then their atheism becomes nothing more than personal preference.  So here it goes.

Note:  If, as an atheist, you want to object to my assertion that you must believe in these things.  Then please do so by more than just claiming that you don’t have to.  Please show me.

1. Naturalism

Let’s ask the all important question, “How do we know that nature is responsible for all phenomena?”.  Can scientific inquiry answer any question in the form of an absolute positive?  Of course it can’t.  Any attempt to use science, which only deals with the natural, to prove that the natural is responsible for everything only begs the question.  Does scientific inquiry test the natural world?  Of course, but it can’t test naturalism.  That’s the difference.

The atheist will attempt to get out of this trouble by saying, “The only thing we have is natural evidence so why add the assumption of a god?”  This is a cop out and part of the delusion.  If God doesn’t exist then nature MUST account for all phenomena.  There is no middle ground. 

2.  Materialism

How do we know that only the material exists?  In the same way, using the material process of scientific inquiry to test if only the material exists is circular reasoning.  Also, just like naturalism, there is no middle ground cop out.  Either a god exists or only the material does.

3.  Empiricism

How do we know that scientific inquiry (sense experience) is the only way to true knowledge?  Using scientific inquiry to show evidence that only scientific inquiry is true knowledge is circular. 

4.  Uniformitarianism

How can we know that the present rates of growth and decay stayed exactly the same in the past?  Using present growth and decay rates, can scientific inquiry tell us of past growth and decay rates?  Of course not. 

So Then What Do We Say?

Since scientific inquiry cannot give us evidence about the atheistic beliefs of naturalism, materialism, empiricism, and uniformitarianism, those pieces of knowledge must be decided by one of the other ways of knowing, either personal insight or authority.  The question then becomes, since science didn’t tell you about it, how do you know it’s right?  How does the atheist know his big four personal beliefs are more accurate than the Christian belief of a benevolent God? 

They don’t.

They ignore the inability of science to give evidence for their big four, or ignore the big four altogether, and delude themselves into thinking their atheism can be absent of any type of “belief” or “faith”.  When put under the microscope of epistemology, the big four degrade into nothing but pure personal preference.