Friday, February 8, 2008

Unfounded Assertions

Quite often I hear all sorts of unfounded assertions when discussing atheism and theism with theists; or when discussing politics, particular with Clinton-haters. Here are some examples, some pulled directly from the comments of posts here at The Serenity of Reason:

  • "Hillary is her own worst enemy" - not sure what this even means, but it was thrown out there with no citations or references to what it could possibly mean.
  • There are certain beliefs that are foundational to Christianity, just as there are with any other belief system (whether it be a religion, atheism, etc.)." - I particularly hate this one. Atheism, at least for me, is NOT a belief system. It is the lack of a belief in god(s). I am willing to be convinced that there is a god or gods - all I need is evidence. Most atheists I have known are similarly inclined. Enough of the stupid bullshit that atheism is a belief system!
  • "Atheism is like the releasing of an unnatural predator within a balanced ecosystem..." - What a load of fucking hogwash! What could this prattle even pretend to mean? A balanced ecosystem? Atheism as a predator? Only a deluded mind could come up with such tripe.
  • Another common claim, which I will not quote here, is that you need christianity because christians are the only ones who offer charitable assistance - Well, this is patently absurd. I know many atheists who help the needy. Both Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, two of the biggest philanthropists on the planet, are not "believers." (Notice how I provide references citing the non-theism of both Buffett and Gates... if you want to be taken seriously with your claims, try doing something similar).
  • Another common tactic used by ID/creationists is to claim lists of scientists who doubt or do not "believe" in evolution - Any such lists do not include any respectable biologists, and usually, no biologists at all. Who cares if there are doctors, lawyers, or indian chiefs who do not "believe" in evolution. It is irrelevant. To put it another way, consider Dan Barker, who after 19 years of evangelical preaching, missionizing, evangelism and Christian songwriting, became an atheist when he realized there was no evidence to support christian and biblical claims. Well, here we have a preacher who doesn't believe in god... cool... but not relevant. What is relevant is the lack of evidence.
  • "There are many people in the world today who look at the theory of evolution and have determined, based on evidence and reason, that it is untenable." - That just isn't true. Oh, yes, there are a lot of people who do not "believe" evolution to be true. But they have not really "looked" at it in a scientific manner; or if they have looked at the science, only their unreasonable tethering of evolution to atheism coupled with christian lockstep mindset could cause them to discard such a scientifically valid and sound theory as evolution. There is ZERO evidence disputing evolution... if there ever is, the scienfitic community would move in another direction. Scientists are not unwavering zealots clinging to useless faith. Creationist apologists are always citing people who do not "believe" in evolution (see above), but again, there are no credible biologists with that "opinion" at all.
  • "I'm not going to spend hours of my time debating an issue that is never going to be settled or putting together a list of references..." - This is the common cop-out of the religious person who cannot provide evidence or references. It indicates that it is time to move on because the person claiming this is out of gas. I mean, c'mon, if you are going to make a claim then it is obviously something you want other people to believe. So citing your "proof" - if you will - should not be an undue burden. What is the alternative? I guess they just want me (and you) to just believe any crazy nonsense they spout without having the facts to back it up. Not me, thanks.
  • If you try to press them for references you'll get something like "trying to debate an issue that can't be proven with a person whose mind is already closed in the matter is a waste of time" - Yes, this is true, but it is the religious mind that is closed. Every atheist and agnostic I have ever encountered is open to changing their mind as long as sufficient evidence can be provided. This is NOT the case with the religious mind. To prove it, ask that religious person what evidence would be sufficient for them to abandon their lord and savior.
  • Another creationist cop-out is to claim evolution is "historical science" and that historical sciences are not valid and not actually science - This is absurd. If you start to "believe" this "argument" please read Are the historical sciences sciences? from Skeptical Inquirer (July-August 2005) by Massimo Pigliucci.
  • Finally, atheists regularly hear things like You just want to do whatever you want to do or You can't have any morality without god, what would the world come to - This is quite telling. Atheists do not need a god to tell them what is good and bad. As Dan Barker so eloquently states: Ethical systems are based on the worth humans have assigned to life: "good" is that which enhances life, and "evil" is that which threatens it. We do not need a deity to tell us it is wrong to kill, lie or steal. Humans have always had the potential to use their minds to determine what is kind and reasonable.

    Doesn't this line of questioning from the religious person kinda tell you something? Basically, they are implying that without a god watching over them they'd resort to immoral behavior. It is only through the threat god hangs over their head that they are civilized... I think this makes the atheist their moral superior, after all, atheists act morally without any godly threats or commandments.

I guess I just had to get some things off of my mind...

91 comments:

coreydbarbarian said...

2 things.

first, i personally don't define "belief system" as anything other than that - a system of beliefs. the term, for me, has absolutely no religious connotations. now ethical system, yeah, or religion, or religious beliefs, sure. but belief system?

maybe i'm just 2 easy, but i believe there are premises (foundational thoughts) inherent in every system of thought, whether that's a system of mathmatics, physics or religion.

i can understand why calling atheism a religion would upset you (and rightly so). but this i don't get. would you prefer "system of thought" over "belief system"?

secondly, regarding your closing thought:
you said,"...without a god watching over them they'd resort to immoral behavior. It is only through the threat god hangs over their head that they are civilized..."

i'm not going 2 argue with your point, but make one additional point instead. when all these religions we deal with were first organized, it was partly because, w/o "god hanging over their heads", the masses were NOT behaving in a civilized manner.

BAWDYSCOT said...

I have also had a problem with the pray for forgiveness thing. If you pray, God will forgive you your trespasses. Where is the morality in that? It sure can stifle such things as empathy for others. I find it much more beneficial to myself and my dealings with others, let alone personal growth, when I try to use what I have learned about life and the correct paths to take on my own(getting feedback from others works better for me than the lack of feedback from some divine being) than relying on someone else's interpretation of some old scrolls. People will tell you in no uncertain terms whether you have stepped on their toes faster and more efficiently than God will(those lightening bolts just don't happen that often). Beyond my oft belabored point that spirituality is a personal thing, I just can't trust someone fully who does not rely on their own internal moral compass substituting someone else's or some groups instead. This must stem from my belief the individual is most important(but not at the expense of other individuals, just heading off some argument in the future), which probably explains just about anything I post.

Al said...

atheism, godlessness - (the doctrine or belief that there is no God) from princeton.edu


Just one of many definitions which defines atheism as a belief system or even a doctrine. That would be why so many refer to atheism as a religion or belief. No sure why that is such a big deal it's just a matter of interpretation.

I will add that what others do to mischaracterize atheist is no different than how atheist mischaracterize the Christian belief system. It's all and bunch silliness and both sides attempt to spin their belief to be the most acceptable.

Let me add "Hillary is own worst enemy is an opinion and needs no reference." Al will do.

Proof of God: I have heard the argument the universe is proof. Not acceptable? I wasn't hear at the beginning so I can't argue for or against.

Anonymous said...

Samuel Skinner
Atheism isn't a belief system. The distinguishing characterist is the lack of belief in atheism. Now, strong atheism and antitheism may count a belief systems (not certain), but weak atheism definately isn't. Simply treating religion like any other claim isn't a "belief system".

Not going to argue is one of the flawed arguements she points out.

Technically not true. Civilization existed for a long time without the need for a god belief to keep people from crime. Apes and other primates don't have religion and they (mostly) get along. The closest your theory comes to truth is when society went from family bands to strangers. Of course an alternate theory is that a chief took or was given power and declared a monoploy on force.

Ceroill said...

The reason it's a big deal is because there's a huge difference between belief and lack of belief. Believing something isn't so is actually different from not believing something is so.

One corollary would be if you had rejected all political parties. You had no confidence in any of them, and do not belong to any. Yet you are constantly told that you must belong to one or another, and other people seem not to understand that you are not part of their mode of thought.

Anonymous said...

Black is the lack of color but it is considered a color. It absorbs all wavelengths and actually reflects none of the wavelengths within the visible spectrum. Otherwise black can be defined as the image formed by the mind in which no visible light reaches the eye.

Atheism falls within that same category of logic. Rejection of all religions and God is the religion of A-Theism.

Ceroill said...

Sigh. No. Let's try another analogy that might actually make sense to you. Fred has a bag of marbles, so he is an marbleist. Joe does not have a bag of marbles, so he is an amarbleist. It's not that he has a bag of something else, or of a different kind of marbles. He doesn't have the marbles at all, in any kind of bag. Claiming he is just hiding his bag is nonsense.

derF said...

Ben, does that mean that Joe has lost his marbles? ... or did he never have any marbles to begin with? Where did Fred get his marbles? ... and aren't we all in the same bag?

Anonymous said...

LAW OF THE LAND
Court rules atheism a religion
Decides 1st Amendment protects prison inmate's right to start study group

Posted: August 20, 2005
1:00 am Eastern

© 2008 WorldNetDaily.com



A federal court of appeals ruled yesterday Wisconsin prison officials violated an inmate's rights because they did not treat atheism as a religion.
"Atheism is [the inmate's] religion, and the group that he wanted to start was religious in nature even though it expressly rejects a belief in a supreme being," the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals said.


The court decided the inmate's First Amendment rights were violated because the prison refused to allow him to create a study group for atheists.

Brian Fahling, senior trial attorney for the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy, called the court's ruling "a sort of Alice in Wonderland jurisprudence."

"Up is down, and atheism, the antithesis of religion, is religion," said Fahling.

The Supreme Court has said a religion need not be based on a belief in the existence of a supreme being. In the 1961 case of Torcaso v. Watkins, the court described "secular humanism" as a religion.

Fahling said today's ruling was "further evidence of the incoherence of Establishment Clause jurisprudence."

"It is difficult not to be somewhat jaundiced about our courts when they take clauses especially designed to protect religion from the state and turn them on their head by giving protective cover to a belief system, that, by every known definition other than the courts' is not a religion, while simultaneously declaring public expressions of true religious faith to be prohibited," Fahling said.

derF said...

Oops! Sorry about the confusion, Bob. What with all those christian-names flying about I was inclined to believe that we each had come inherently into possession of a number of marbles. If that is true, Joe must had made a considerable investment towards arriving at a marbelless state.

Atheism leaves a man to sense, to philosophy, to natural piety, to laws, to reputation; all of which may be guides to an outward moral virtue, even if religion vanished; but religious superstition dismounts all these and erects an absolute monarchy in the minds of men (Francis Bacon). Calling Atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair color (Don Hirshberg).

derF said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
G said...

csm,

I don't really understand your aversion to the word "belief." When I use the word, I don't equate it with blind faith. Belief is simply accepting something as true, whether it be based on evidence or faith.

You take issue with lists of scientists who reject evolution, but your only stated basis for doing so is that the list doesn't include any biologist, or at least "respectable" biologists. First of all, you have no basis for saying that they aren't "respectable," from what I can see, other than the fact that they reject evolution... making it a circular argument.

But aside from that, a person doesn't have to be a biologist to refute evolution. If the theory involves processes that contradict the laws of chemistry... or physics... or mathematics... or information theory, then the theory isn't valid.

On your next point, you assert that people who have rejected evolution as untenable haven't looked at it "scientifically." What kind of lame argument is that? It's the same cirular reasoning I mentioned above. And making a statement like that shows that you haven't even glanced at the works of Dr. Wilder-Smith that I DID reference.

When I mentioned evolutionary theory being a historical science, I never claimed that it wasn't science. All I said was that as a historical science, we can never say with certainty that this is exactly what happened. All we can say is that it is possible that this happened (maybe even likely). And I read the article you referred to several times. His analogies are weak, and his reasoning is flawed.

My choice to stay out of the argument is based on having gone through the points several times before on Freethinker's Paradise, wasting hours of my time on a debate that will never find any resolution.

I'm not going to address the other points since I've never made those arguments.

csm said...

Cored - I would contend that ethics are not religious. To me, at least, belief has more to do with religion than ethics. I can be ethical with no religion at all. Same goes for moral.

Atheism is a lack of a belief. It is not a belief system. It is a system lacking a belief - one in particular, that is, a belief in god(s).

And let me add that I'm glad to see this posting has generated a raft of comments... don't have time to read 'em all right now (just corey's), but I will.

Ceroill said...

Well, I guess that does it. The Gummint has declared atheism a religion. Might as well show em where all the secret atheist churches are, put on your secret atheist priest robes, and finally make public those famous secret atheist scriptures. Oh, I guess that also means you can get tax exempt status now, CSM!

Note to any who somehow missed it, that was all very tongue in cheek.

csm said...

So Bob, maybe I should declare this blog a church and stop paying my taxes?

csm said...

'I don't really understand your aversion to the word "belief." '

OK, G, you don't have to understand it. I have explained why I don't like it. I understand your use of it and that is fine. No problem.

'You take issue with lists of scientists who reject evolution, but your only stated basis for doing so is that the list doesn't include any biologist, or at least "respectable" biologists. '

List of people who believe this or don't believe that are irrelevant to science. If you can't understand that, then there is little hope for a reasonable dialogue. There is no circular argument. A list is not science. A list does nothing but make creationists feel better about themselves. There is no way to make a reasonable statement about evolution without approaching it scientifically. Sure, you can have an opinion, but it is quite useless without evidence to back it up.

csm said...

Oh, and regarding Wilder-Smith, I did look into him a bit, but you referred me to a web site with tons of material, and there are books, and so on. I have no desire to read through all of this man's work to figure out what you are trying to say. I will agree that he seems to be a very intelligent man. I will also stipulate that he is a creationist. This does nothing to disprove evolution. If you have specific pieces of his that you would refer me to that you think disprove evolution, then by all means, send along a link. But not an entire web site or a library of books...

csm said...

And, courtesy of Al, here is another statement that should be added to the main blog posting: "Proof of God: I have heard the argument the universe is proof."

How could the universe be proof of god? That doesn't even come close to making any sense.

csm said...

By the way, a common form of this "argument" is called the teleological argument. Google it if you are interested.

And also, as a an aside, John Allen Paulos has a new book called Irreligion which deals with the lack of proof and actual evidence behind these type of arguments. If interested, the first chapter can be read here courtesy of the NY Times.

Ceroill said...

CSM, sure! You could also organize a local congregation, where fellow Atheists could gather to sit around reading lofty philosophical books and trading obscure movie quotations.

G said...

Actually, I did refer to a couple specifics:

"The Scientific Alternative To
Neo-Darwinian Evolutionary Theory"

"The Natural Sciences Know Nothing Of Evolution"

I don't know if you can find them free online, but they aren't expensive (http://tinyurl.com/29vsqr).

Otherwise, you could just try listening to the three "College Lectures" in the media library at wildersmith.org.

Al said...

csm sems to believe that evolution must somehow be disproved. Actually, it does not. It has not been proven as a truth but is a matter of theory to which many do support. Scientific theories often are not truth as time often reveals.

That would be the equivalent of stating that creationism must be disproved which it has not nor realistically could be.

The argument for the universe being proof of a God has been used to argue that the universe exists and therefore a God must exist in order to create it. Logical but not provable through science. It makes more sense than the universe creating itself.

Have you considered the numerous denominations alrerady forming within atheism? Weak, Strong, secularist, humanist, etc.

coreydbarbarian said...

csm, i agree. my personal ethical code MAY be informed by religion, but it just as easily may not. ethics and religion are separate circles that SOMETIMES overlap a little.

i "get" your aversion 2 belief.
but, (always a but), can we put that word in a box for a minute?

we are, 2 a certain extent, machines. da human machine. ta-da! and like a machine, we all operate in (somewhat) predictable fashion.

in particular, we are all governed by a number of cognitive elements like reason, intuition, and the sum of our sensory inputs, 2 name a few. we utilize these elements for decision making.

now, in order 2 operate with any semblance of sophistication, we must mentally "weigh" the value of one possible action and compare that value to another perceived value.

we each operate with a set of principle concepts, our foundational assumptions about the universe and the way it works. it is with these concepts firmly in place that we make our value judgements. that's not 2 say these concepts cannot change; they do. but that's not my point.

at the most basic level, the question "is there a god?" weighs in our each and every decision. if i could flowchart my thoughts, and all the concepts that feed into a value judgement...

it is precisely this ability 2 decide for ourselves that the 1st amendment protects.
our ability 2 decide 4 ourselves.

for purposes of law, an atheist assembly falls under the religion clause of the 1st amendment, and is rightly protected. after much harrassment, i am sure.

does that actually mean "atheism is a religion"?? not hardly.

oh, btw csm, that wasn't all directed straight at ya. i just followed that ol' train o' thought until i got dizzy, then stopped. ;)

al, ya might wanna brush up on definitions of theory vs. scientific theory. big ol' difference.

derf, nice 2 hear from you! missed ya. :)

Anonymous said...

The discerning liberal would be a fool to assume that atheism stands for pure reason, just because it doesn't invoke the gods. We need to give atheism a good hard look to see if it is functioning as a stealth religion. Fortunately, basic design principles enable us to do just that.

The main purpose of a religion or a stealth religion, however, is not to describe the real world but to motivate a given suite of behaviors. One way to do this is by creating a stylized world without tradeoffs, in which the prescribed behaviors are portrayed as good, good, good for everyone and the prohibited behaviors are portrayed as bad, bad, bad for everyone. Behaviors with mixed effects are absent from the stylized world because they do not clearly tell the believer what to do.

Using this simple method, it is easy to show that fundamentalist religions portray a world without trade-offs, very unlike the real world, which propel the believer along a single path toward glory and away from ruin. Unfortunately, much of atheism fares no better.

The New Atheism has all the hallmarks of a stealth religion, including a polarized belief system that represents everything as good, good, good or bad, bad, bad ("how religion poisons everything"), the unquestioned authority of its leaders, and even the portrayal of bad ideas as like demons (parasitic memes) that need to be cast out ("breaking the spell").

Both I (David Sloan Wilson)
and Michael Shermer, the intrepid editor of Skeptic magazine, have written about Ayn Rand as a stealth-religious zealot in our respective books, Evolution for Everyone and Why People Believe Weird Things. I have critiqued two books by the new atheists (Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell and Richard Dawkins The God Delusion) at length elsewhere. I am also involved in the establishment of evolutionary religious studies as an authentic scientific discipline. One reason that I am passionate about exposing the new atheism as a stealth religion is because it distracts attention from something far more important and interesting--the proper study of religion and all forms of human mentality from an evolutionary perspective.

csm said...

"csm sems to believe that evolution must somehow be disproved."

No, evolution is a theory. Do you know what a theory actually is - that is, the scientific term not the casual day-to-day term? Evolution is a theory for which ALL of the existing evidence is supportive. In order to discard evolution as a theory, some evidence is required.

"It has not been proven as a truth..."

What has EVER been proven as a truth?

"Scientific theories often are not truth as time often reveals."

Yes, scientific theories get disproven when there is evidence as such. If such evidence can be shown for evolution, the same fate will befall it. That would be fine. But what is not fine is not "believing" in evolution just cause (insert your favorite reason here).

"That would be the equivalent of stating that creationism must be disproved which it has not nor realistically could be."

No, it is not the same because creationism is not a scientific theory, but a religious belief, based on faith.

"The argument for the universe being proof of a God has been used to argue that the universe exists and therefore a God must exist in order to create it. Logical but not provable through science. It makes more sense than the universe creating itself."

And who/what created god? Oh, yes, take it on faith the god always existed. How lame!

"Have you considered the numerous denominations alrerady forming within atheism? Weak, Strong, secularist, humanist, etc."

Don't care about any of 'em. All atheism is is the lack of belief in god. If certain atheists want to band together in groups and assert different thoughts, etc., then fine, let them. But that does not change root definition of atheism as the lack of belief in gods.

Al said...

E=MC2 was proven true especially at the expense of the Japanese. How about the Electromagnetic Field Theory? Theories that are demonstrated to be true through testing, real time observation and real recordable results. Truths that are used everyday. Truth seems to be a better hill to die on than theories that biased to allow no other possible explanation. I accept evolution but I guess I am a weak evolutionist.

What could replace evolution without bringing in something outside of the scientific realm? How can we prove a supreme being through science if we do not try?

G made a good point. You need to read up on creationism, ID or whatever name you prefer, they are using the very same data to support creationism that evolution uses to support their theory.

Anon, what in the name of Kenny Stabler is a stealth religion? Stealth implies purposeful deciet does it not?

Anonymous said...

Woof!!! What incredible inanity! In spite of it's successful application towards the construction of more fearsome and destructive weapons, Einstein's Theory of Relativity is still just that, a theory. I suspect the only place you are about to find inerrant truth, Al, is within religious texts. That, of course, is because GOD wrote them. (Lord knows, that assumption has never been wrong.)

Einstein's Theory, on the other hand, remains a THEORY because, when we escape the limitation of the microcosm we have constructed around ourselves, it still clashes with empirical evidence. Albert, himself, could not accept the concept of Dark Matter largely because it conflicted with the implicit cultural hangover of a Steady State Universe ("World without end, Amen"). It has other clashes with observable evidence as well... quirks, quarks, quasars. Yet it is a sufficiently accurate model to construct an Atomic bomb. If, in your mind, that is the ultimate of human potentialities then for you it must be THE TRUTH. Personally, it is not a path I would choose to take.

derF

Ceroill said...

True, Einstein was so unnerved at the ideas of quantum mechanics that he tried for the last 30 years of his life, up to his final day, to disprove them. He'd opened the door, but couldn't shut it again. His mind was stuck in the old paradigm, after having made the first cracks in it.

He found out twice- once to his great benefit, and then to his great consternation- that science will always embrace a better model of how things work. Not without resistance and argument, but it always happens. Same thing will happen to the theory of evolution if someone does devise a better fit for the way things work. If that happens, then those of us who are currently proponents of evolution will have to adjust. Until then, we see it as the best explanation so far.

coreydbarbarian said...

who wouldn't be unnerved by the world of quantum mechanics? i am!

since y'all touched upon quantum physics and all, have any of you seen (or read) the elegant universe, by/with brian greene?

good stuff!

now, 2 address anon (may i call you david?):

you seem rather adamant in your position on atheism as a quasi-religion. that can't be good 4 objectivity.

may i address 4 points?

1) good, good, good, bad, bad bad:
many atheists have been burned by religion b4. thus the "religion ='s poison" 4 some. not all atheists are "anti-" religion, maybe 1/3rd. at least until they get cornered 2 many times by some soul savin' sap.

2) unquestioned authority of leaders:
what leaders?!? seriously, it's not a movement, so there are not leaders and followers.

3) i am an admirer of ayn rand's ideas. can you summarize your case against objectivism 4 me? you must be thrilled by the new 'atlas shrugged' film in the works... ;)

4) when you say "evolutionary religious studies", what exactly are we discussing? the evolution of religion, or something else? and why do you believe an anti-religion campaign by dawkins or any other author "gets in the way" of studying religion and human mentality (from an evolutionary perspective)?

thanks!

Anonymous said...

Ayn Rand, the new atheist of her day who claimed that her philosophy of Objectivism was based entirely on reason and science. She corrected people who called her an individualist by saying that she was a rationalist. Nevertheless, her philosophy portrays a world without tradeoffs, just like religious fundamentalism. The two belief systems motivate different suites of behavior, of course, but in both cases they stuff the believer, like a human cannonball, into an ideological cannon to be shot in the direction of glory and away from ruin.

The Ayn Rand movement was just like religious fundamentalism in other respects. Rand was treated as an infallible oracle--the very opposite of reasoned discourse--and members of the movement spent their time casting out false premises as if they were so many demons. A lifelong smoker, Rand was nevertheless astonished when she contracted lung cancer. How could she get cancer when she had no false premises? She was no more rational about the nature of disease than evangelical Christians lining up to be healed. Even today, Rand's novels sell many thousands of copies a year and the Ayn Rand Institute attempts to lure new members with the following appealing invitation: "Those who have read The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged know that the sunlit universe Ayn Rand depicts in her novels is unlike the world that they see around them. How can one achieve the clarity of vision and joyous existence that her fictional heroes achieve?"

coreydbarbarian said...

anon, (i guess that means i can't call ya david, huh?),

thanks for sharing your perspective on ayn rand's philosophy. i know how difficult it can be 2 share a controversial theory with a seemingly hostile crowd. so thanks.

you probably know i am disinclined 2 accept your methodology. but i won't argue with ya; you were kind enough to spell it out 4 me. i'll try 2 show you some reciprocal kindness.

some questions, if i may-

1) using such a broad net/methodology, won't you end up deeming all philosophies and/or worldviews as stealth religions? or, at least, the ones that inspire people?

2) how do YOU separate philosophy (the idea) from it adherants? i will readily admit ayn rand had her disciples (alan greenspan springs 2 mind), and that turned me off. but philosophically, the ideas she brought 2 light are rational and (2 me) worthy.

3) how do you define evolutionary religious studies?

4) can i call ya david yet??

Ceroill said...

I'll just toss in my two cents on one bit here, and this is something that occurred to me when I was a teen. If you look at the actual teachings of most great 'religious founders' or prophets (Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu, etc), what they present to their students and followers is a philosophy. It only becomes a religion once the followers get hold of it and do their thing. I've long thought that Buddha and Lao Tzu would both have been disappointed to find that religions had been built around their principles.

BAWDYSCOT said...

I would like to say I am with g on this one. This has been argued till all are blue, but have any minds been changed?

I will say this though, I could care less if ahteism is a belief system or not, but if it is it would make a short and easy book to read!

derF said...

Ha... ha... ha... ha... ha!!!

derF said...

Oh, coreyd, I can't speak for David Sloan Wilson but he contributes elsewhere. While I agree that Ayn Rand was a Social Darwinist who deserved to be hung by her ears, I'm inclined to think Dave's articles are more opinion than science.

Anonymous said...

I hope this helps you in your quest.

Evolutionary Religous Studies

csm said...

Gents, I do not think that David Sloan Wilson is actually posting here. I think it is a case of the old cut & paste bandit that we saw frequently over at the old FT blog.

And I was going to reply to Al's e=mc2 comments, but see that derF has alreayd responded much as I would've (thanks)!

Al also talked about "creationism, ID or whatever" using the very same data to support creationism, but that, too, is absurd. I've read a bunch of it and Creationism/ID/whatever (maybe I'll call it CIW) is not a science and cannot use scientific methods to support (or disprove) its claims.

coreydbarbarian said...

i'd be a bit more disappointed, but i had a sneaking suspicion.

we could always email dave at dwilson@binghamton.edu and make sure. ;)

Al said...

"Einstein's Theory, on the other hand, remains a THEORY".

I guess you will need to provide more. I don’t see the problem here. I agree completely and never claimed otherwise. I suppose you agree with EFT as theory as well?

Both theories have actually have been supported with repeated testing and observation. While evolution is a valid theory, testing of the theory and observation is limited to the present. Sounds a lot like ID? Some theories are much stronger than others is my only point.

Actually csm, ID IS using the same evidence as evolution to support their theory. If you haven't seen it, then you haven't looked at their work as you claim.

What could replace evolution without bringing in something outside of the scientific realm?

csm said...

I have NOT read everything that ID throws up (and apt description if ever there was one). That said, ID is NOT science and can NOT ever be science. When examining geological evidence, just waving a magic (or religious) wand and saying a creator did it, see, does not make ID a scientific theory.

Al then asks, what could replace evolution? At this point, I don't care, because evolution does not need replacing. It is the BEST theory we have that matches all evidence. If evidence ever crops up that sends evolution to the dustbin of history the scientific community would have to examine all the evidence and come up with a theory that matches it... that said, if someone came up with a valid scientific theory to rival evolution that matched all the evidence today scientists would be interested in it. ID is merely another example of religious faith... that's all.

csm said...

And re: your remark about Einstein's theory, Al, YES YOU FUCKING DID SAY OTHERWISE. You called it a truth. Truth is different than a theory.

That said, e=mc2, evolution, gravity, are all theories that are close to truth as science ever gets.

Ceroill said...

Ah, yes. The venerable 'it's only a theory' argument. I'm not sure how it came about, but these days we essentially have two different definitions of the word 'theory', one used by scientists, and one used by everyone else. When a scientist speaks of a 'theory' he or she means an idea that has stood a battery of tests and stands up to rigorous review. The other definition seems to be similar to 'rough idea'. In science circles that might be called an hypothesis, but not a theory. Getting theory status is not a small thing. That's why things like Gravity are called Theories.
Theories can and do change over time as more and better data becomes available. People can and do argue and disagree over theories, and whole paradigms of scientific thought can come about because of a theory (back to Einstein again).
Ok, I'll shut up for now.

derF said...

"What could replace evolution without bringing in something outside of the scientific realm?"

Empirical evidence; measurable observation; testable data...
Al seems to think that scientific theories are cut from whole cloth and then justification tacked to it as is convenient; much like ID's proponents' argument before the Supreme Court. No matter how often we try to explain the difference, he/she refuses to accept that some one might actually formulate their ideas based upon the evidence before them. And then change their theories as new evidence is made available. I guess that is just too arbitrary. Science flip-flops!

Al said...

So are you saying scientific theory and this acquiring of knowledge cannot lead to truth as well csm? You are quite confused. Yes, I called them theories and I called them truth. Sue me.

I realize that theory is not necessarily truth which is why I called myself a weak evolutionist. But, I am a strong EFT supporter.

Cerolli, yes I am aware of the hypothesis to theory progression. That does not mean all SCIENTIFIC theories are equal. Some are much stronger with the evidence, testing & observation than others. R U claiming otherwise? R U claiming gravity has the same status as evolution? If so, I would like to hear the argument.

BAWDYSCOT said...

Bob,

No need to shut up; you are the voice of reason. Your lack of emotion on this obviously emotional subject is refreshing.

Al,

Since you are a "weak evolutionist" and we all agree evolution IS a theory, why the fuck are we arguing about it? Are you trying to change someone's mind? Do you seriously think that will happen?

Truth should be an absolute. A theory isn't. It may never be. But then again there is a chance(in this case a slim one based on my own beliefs)we may get lucky and the key is revealed. If it happens to be some divine being, I am big enough to admit I am wrong(since I have already reserved my place in hell if I am wrong, this won't change anything for me)if I am right I will do a little dance and say Yipppeeee! I don't fret about stuff I cannot change because there is plenty of shit going down which does affect me personally which I just happen to believe is more important to comment on.

Do you feel like a bomb thrower; coming onto an avowed atheist blogsite and regurgitating the same shit we got on our previous posting site? Are you a closet Evangelical spreading the word(or at least fomenting doubt)? Maybe this is just a intellectual exercise(good for you)? I still stand by one of my(many)pet phrases-don't fret about shit you cannot change. It is just plain healthier that way.

Ceroill said...

Al, I never said the two were completely equivalent. However, that being said, qualifying as a theory is still no small taters.

Bawdy, thanks. I appreciate that.

csm said...

Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory

Leave it to The Onion to bring some humor and clarity to this issue!

SciGuy said...

The Scientific Theory of Gravity still exists (Newtons "Law" of Gravity is an old mathematical approximation), just like the Scientific Theory of Evolution. But it is a nice analogy in a way, because in the same way that gravity is copiously observed, evolution is copiously observed. And the Scientific Theories are the best explanations for what we observe.

There is an absolutely overwhelming abundance of evidence for the Theory of Evolution. I suggest you stop listening soley to creationist anti-science propagandists and honestly look at the the other side. eg. the fossil record of 250,000 known species, showing nothing but iterations in morphology of geographically overlapping forms up the geological column and whole nested phylogenies of life. And observed speciation in the biological literature. Just to start with.

Evolution is as observed as gravity. Among the most abundant, microscopic fossils, complete continuums of form from one species to the next are often observed. Among the rarer fossils, you can't expect to see this. eg. there are half a dozen Archaeopteryx fossils known (most from the same unusually preserving layer). There will always be "missing links". To concentrate on this and ignore the bigger picture from the 250,000 fossil species, is head-in-the-sand denial.

csm said...

Anyone with an iota of curiosity regarding the reason to take evolution seriously ought to do themselves a favor and read this article: Debating YEC’s: “No evidence for Evolution”

It is very well-written (with sources and citations) and says things much better than I could ever hope to... and it doesn't require slogging through a library of material or listening to hours of recorded material to digest.

Al said...

Why are we arguing? Takes two to argue, all I did was state my belief and your gloves came off. I suppose not being the "strong evolutionist is my downfall?

Sorry sci-guy, you need to read before you post and just provide your link to yahoo answers next time.

More likely the truth is a supreme Designer who created the Big Bang and initiated the process of evolution. Cleans things up nicely.

Bawdy has a good point; I need to add evolution/ID to my list along with Raider fans and Clintonites.

Ceroill said...

As I've seen pointed out elsewhere, evolution theory has nothing to do with the origin of life, nor with cosmology, just with how life has changed over time. Whether or not a deity or aliens created life in the first place has no impact on the theory of evolution. It only becomes a point of contention when the claim is made that the outside influence maintains constant interference.

csm said...

"More likely the truth is a supreme Designer who created the Big Bang and initiated the process of evolution. Cleans things up nicely."

First of all, as Bob so aptly pointed out, the Big Bang has nothing to do with evolution. The term “Evolution” sometimes gets rolled in with the Big Bang, Abiogenesis, and Social Darwinism. This is a conflation of terms. The Big Bang Cosmological Model attempts to explain how the universe went from a singularity to the state we see it in today. More details at Wikipedia if interested.

Furthermore, I don't see how this cleans anything up. To me, at least, this messes things up considerably. You have to account for who designed the designer, and so on, ad infinitum.

And add whatever you want to your ridiculous list and lump me into whatever category you want. Don't really give a shit - - unless you call me a Raiders fan; Go Steelers!

Wherever sciguy got his material, it is good stuff! I wish more posts were as logical, well thought-out and supported by facts as that one. Keep on posting!

csm said...

G, here is a quote from Wilder-Smith's "The Natural Sciences No Nothing of Evolution"... it is an example of misguided creationist thinking. He makes the mistake of starting with the end result in mind. That is not the case with evolution. The theory does not state anything like "OK, how can we create people and animals and plants and..." So the entirity of this quote is irrelevant. I found this at the beginning of chapter 6 of this book (because I found that chapter free on the web). I am glad I did not spend anything to acquire a copy of the book as this is par-for-the-course creationist thinking (or lack thereof). Here is the quote:

Wilder-Smith: If a project is guided and carried through with the aid of intelligence, less time is usually required to execute the project than if it is only "guided" or controlled by chance (the antipode of intelligence). This is, of course, a well known basic fact. Weak intelligence (or chance) nearly always requires more time to carry out any teleonomic project than high intelligence. Construction of a machine or designing a blue print with the aid of low intelligence needs more time than that needed by high intelligence to execute the same project. Expressed differently, "hit or miss" is usually more time consuming than a highly intelligent attempt to synthesize a plan, a machine, or a program. Chance itself, that is pure randomness, needs more time for constructing any project, or plan, as we have already seen, unless supported by the information (intelligence, decision making) provided by a machine.

For example, a fairly intelligent engineer could build a small car from scratch by himself in his own workshop within, let us say, three years. Higher intelligence, plus more energy could do the job in less time. If, however, infinite intelligence (i.e., decision-making) and energy were somehow available for the construction of the same car, it could--from a theoretical point of view at least--be completed instantaneously. Infinite intelligence and energy, if such could seriously be reckoned with, would require infinitely little time to execute their projects.

A step in the opposite direction will reveal a similar mathematical situation. If the construction of the same car were left to pure chance, i.e. effectively to nonintelligence, to the antipode of intelligence, an infinite length of time would be required to bring the car project to completion. And if the car's construction were left to almost infinitely weak intelligence (i.e., practically to chance) as we have seen, an almost infinite amount of time would be required to build it. The relationship between time and intelligence in completing teleonomic projects is inversely proportional. Construction of a house with a vibrator would take longer than building a house with intelligence, although the energy of the vibrator might possibly come in useful during the process - provided its energy were rectified.

BAWDYSCOT said...

Yeah, building a house with a vibrator might take awhile, but taking that vibrator and poking around your favorite female and...voila, the world is your oyster!

I am certainly glad you didn't have to come up with any scratch for this too, csm. The idiot doesn't know what the fuck to do with love toys. I wonder if he actually made this an experiment. Waste of a vibrator.(Boy, was this low hanging fruit.)

Darwin Exposed said...

We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

BAWDYSCOT said...

I have just read a report, from the WHO, that the Tamiflu vaccine which has been stockpiled in many countries in case of a bird flu epidemic is showing signs of viral resistance in ordinary flu strains. The report mentions that if someone gets both kinds of strains at the same time the bird flu strain can receive the resistance quality and even more materialistic humans would perish than would have if these fucking people would have just lived through the relative agony of the regular flu strain. Kinda reminiscent of the antibiotic over prescription and overuse, eh? Ain't this world grand?

csm said...

To whoever is posting as Darwin Exposed: here's a big hearty fuck you, dickhead.

The material you posted is a quote from Richard Lewontin, who is an American geneticist and evolutionary biologist. Indeed, Lewontin has been a critic of some of the detailed mechanisms of evolution, but unlike the image creationists attempt to portray he is refining the theory of evolution, not rejecting it.

Answers in Genesis makes it appear as if by "patent absurdity", Lewontin means evolution, when he is really talking about astronomy.

Gitt makes it appear as if Lewontin thinks that materialism cannot be justified and is a personal decision. But in reality Lewontin gives a reason just after creationists stop quoting him.

Also, many scientists will disagree with him in the detail creationists are emphasizing, and say that methodological naturalism is a necessary component of science, giving exactly the reason Lewontin gave.

G said...

csm,

Please accept my deepest apologies for suggesting you waste a whole dollar on one of his books... or the gas required for a trip to the library.

So you take an illustration that sounds similar to others you've heard (from the middle of a book, no less), and it somehow enables you to reject everything he has to say. The simple fact is that his analyses are "scientific," while he also tries to make the work readable for laymen. Hence the analogies.

If you had happened upon his analyses of chemical stochastic processes, information theory, or the calibration of dating methods, I doubt that you could categorize him as "just another creationist" with no scientific basis for his arguments.

Bawdy,

I certainly didn't expect that kind of comment from you. This "idiot" had three doctorates, was heavily involved in medical research for decades, and held positions at multiple universities (including the University of Illinois). He was also a consultant and drug advisor to NATO and the Swiss armed forces. But I'm sure that is nothing compared to your education and accomplishments

coreydbarbarian said...

click here for kurt vonnegut on evolution...

...amongst other things.

click 'listen now' after the jump.
the interview is just over 7 minutes long.

they get 2 evolution about 4 1/2 minutes into the interview. as a bonus, he mentions freethinkers around 6 minutes in. that's when i knew i had 2 share w/ y'all. and then, 2 top it off, he mentions nietszche. just 2 make sure i was paying attention, i think.

is there a name for that sort of serendipity?
first off, it's kurt. but then he jumps in2 "our" conversation (evolution), mentions "us" (freethinkers), and grabs me personally (nietszche).
it almost seems like he wanted 2 add his 2 cents to this thread.
weird, huh?

csm said...

Apology accepted, G... or were you being sarcastic?

Why should it matter that I referenced something "from the middle of a book" - you referenced that book as something I should read... not a specific chapter, not specific pages that talk about "chemical stochastic processes, information theory, or the calibration of dating methods." If you are too lazy to supply pertinent references I don't see how you can blame me for noticing that the first thing I read of his was stupid.

After reading the first few paragraphs it would seem that a penny would be too much to waste on such tripe.

BAWDYSCOT said...

g,

I don't care how smart you are or how many degrees you have; if you compare apple and oranges(living beings to inanimate objects)it just doesn't work, and this comes from someone basically self taught and proud of it.

Anonymous said...

One of te major difficulties has to do with the essential mechanism for macro-evolution--that is, the means by which a more complex organism arises from a simpler one. In basic terms the question is, how does one get feathers from scales or a bat from a mouse? Classical Darwinism, as well as neo-Darwinism, says the answer is selection pressure acting on the natural variation in a species population over many generations--that is, protracted microevolution. But macroevolution requires dramatically more than this. It requires a means to add to and/or modify complex coded genetic algorithms in a way that yields a viable organism with some truly novel capability or structure. What is the mechanism? Evolutionary theory offers no mechanism beyond extrapolated microevolution. This extrapolation, however, is precisely where appeals to observation stop and major hand waving begins. The extrapolation in reality is nothing more than a gigantic leap of faith.

Regarding what is required at the genetic level for macroevolution, Murray Eden, a professor of information theory and formal languages at MIT, pointed out several years ago that random mutation of complex language structures simply cannot be the desperately needed mechanism. He states, "No currently existing formal language can tolerate random changes in the symbol sequence which expresses its sentences. Meaning is almost invariably destroyed. Any changes must be syntactically lawful ones. I would conjecture that what one might call 'genetic grammaticality' has a deterministic explanation and does not owe its stability to selection pressure acting on random variation."

BAWDYSCOT said...

I have contemplated at times God as some pimply faced kid with a short attention span using the earth as some kind of ant farm. What you just posted made me think of this scenario...

Kid: Ah, these dinosaurs are getting boring. I know, lets try mammals now.(The little kid squashes all the reptiles he has created and works the material into new beings.) They can have hair and a bigger brain and I know how about an opposing thumb. Cool!

Mom: Johnny, time to wash up for dddiiiinnnnneeerrr!

Kid: Ah, mom, I was just getting to the good part.

Mom: Don't sass me young man or I will take your little playthings and throw them in the waste bin. Now wash your hands.

Nice little story, huh? Could be just as much the truth as the Good Book, eh?

csm said...

As I read your comment here, Bawdy, I flashed back to The Far Side - - I vaguely recollect seeing a comic that resembles what you describe.

Ceroill said...

There was also an old Star Trek episode to that general effect.

G said...

Bawdy,

Every analogy is limited and falls apart at some point. But it is still the best way to put complex ideas into something understandable for laymen. Unfortunately, when it comes to life processes, we simply don't have anything but commonly understood mechanical systems to use.

I was just surprised that you would jump on this guy with "idiot" (a rather strong term) when you know nothing about him. I'm not looking for an apology or anything like that. It just seemed out of character.

csm,

My reference to Dr. Wilder-Smith was in response to your claim that those who have rejected evolution haven't looked at it "scientifically" (an unfounded assertion). You asked me to narrow down his bibliography, so I gave you three lectures that you can stream for free and two books (with a link) that you can buy for $1 each. I never said that you have to agree with his analysis. But he has definitely looked at the issue "scientifically." If you just won't read what he has to say or listen to the lectures, then there is nowhere to go from here.

And typically, a "proof" begins with the basic foundation being laid, followed by the addition of known facts/laws, and put together to reach a conclusion. My point was that you have rejected everything the man has to say based on an analogy (not the scientific evidence, but the layman's explanation), and that by taking something from the middle of the book, you don't have the foundation of what he has been saying.

derF said...

Hello G. Have you gotten a chance to have a look at 'The Authoritarians' yet? I'd be interested in your take on it.

I think there is a clue to why this debate becomes so contentious in your last entry. It has to do with the sequence of events that lead to the development of a theoretical hypothesis. You stated, "a "proof" begins with the basic foundation being laid, followed by the addition of known facts/laws, and put together to reach a conclusion." This, I believe, come to the heart of why this discourse becomes so heated. It assumes an agenda. The statement indicates that, at its root, all scientific thought aims to reinforce foundational concepts.

I would suggest this is only true of 'bad, bad, bad' science. It also indicates how the 'foundational beliefs' of theists creep into 'bad' scientific analysis.

sciguy said...

Anyone who could believe in God could believe in anything. To appeal to an omnipotent deity is to allow that at any moment the regularities of nature may be ruptured, that miracles may happen.

csm said...

I've started reading The Authoritarians and it is very interesting reading, indeed.

It really should be more widely promoted.

G said...

derF,

I haven't read it, but I've now downloaded it. I'll read through it as time permits and let you know.

When I mentioned the steps in a "proof," I was thinking in terms of mathematics, but in the realm of science as well. The foundation I referred to was meant to indicate known "facts" (as best as we are able to claim something as a fact), like the molecular makeup of elements, "laws" of physics, chemistry, mathematics, etc.

But if I understand you correctly, it sounds like you thought I was referring to presuppositions (e.g. God exists/doesn't exist, etc.). That isn't what I meant, but I do understand that our preconceived ideas tend to be a great hindrance in our ability to evaluate things in a neutral manner.

It is a constant struggle when I'm trying to discuss aspects of Christianity with other Christians (and non-Christians as well). But it is a problem in the scientific realm as well. We can see it in history whenever somebody comes up with a new view of something that is assumed to be settled fact, and they are faced with a flurry attacks from other scientists.

We all have to deal with that issue in ourselves as well as with others. If that's what you were talking about, then I agree that it is a big reason why discussions can get so contentious at times.

coreydbarbarian said...

derf,
i started reading the authoritarians, but i am an impossibly slow reader. 5 to 15 pages per day, if it's nonfiction, tops. so it might take me a while.
just wanted you 2 know i appreciate the link, and chapter 1 was enlightening. thank you!
---
sciguy,
you're painting with some pretty broad strokes there (anyone who could believe in god..). i understand what you're saying, though.

the 2nd part of your post makes me wonder: doesn't it seem like some bits of science aren't all that different from a "miracle"?

i'm thinking of verifiable phenomena, like particle/wave duality, superposition, and entanglement theory.

me personally, i COULD believe in a god, if the evidence supports it.
perhaps our differences lie in the definitions of 'god' and 'miracle'?

i am curious of your thoughts.

csm said...

I, too, could believe in a god if there were sufficient evidence. As it stands, there is no evidence, so I think sciguy nailed it... however, he appears to be quoting Lewis Beck see page 6 at this link. I'm not a big fan of uncredited posts like this, even if I happen to agree with them.

G said...

... no evidence that you consider to be compelling.

I know that you want to see scientific proof, but God (at least as the Bible describes) is outside our time-space domain. And the scientific laws that explain how this universe operates (our domain) will never be able to prove anything, positively or negatively, about anything that is outside it.

I assume you've read (or at least heard a summary of) Flatland, which illustrates the difficulties in describing dimensionalites greater than the one in which we exist.

So the question we need to ask is how a god (or any sentient being, for that matter) in a higher dimension could sufficiently prove its existence to each of us as an individual... keeping in mind our amazing propensity to explain away singular events that don't match our current understanding.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flatland
http://xahlee.org/flatland/

derF said...

I thought you might enjoy having a copy.

csm said...

I've read Flatland (a couple of times actually) and I enjoyed it immensely. With that in mind, the three dimensional characters did communicate with the two dimensional ones. So where is god communicating to us? I mean, c'mon, a god who is purportedly all powerful could easily talk to each and every one of us all the time - or at least check in once a year - if he/she/it really wanted to. No need for anything "unexplainable" - just something like this: "Hi csm, it is god. I am just checking in again this year to let you know I am here and I love you. You should be getting some more fiber in your diet and stop working so late. Is there anything I can do for you?" But he has never checked in and until he bothers to do so, well, I have no use for him.

csm said...

By the way, The Planiverse by A.K. Dewdney, is also a very enjoyable read along the same lines as Flatland. I sometimes confuse the two, but I seem to recall Dewdney's book as being more readable, like a novel.

csm said...

A Whore in the Temple of Reason outlines another example of "compelling evidence" that a god could regularly produce. If prayer regularly grew new arms or built bridges, then I'd convert immediately.

Anonymous said...

I doubt it seriously. A fella like you would make up a scientific hypothesis to explain the newly discovered field of science. You guys are much like flat-earthers, you want evidence but would never accept any so why fake it.

csm said...

Well, Anonymous, those are brave words coming from someone so cowardly they can't even create an online identity to identify yourself. At any rate, you are entitled to your horribly ignorant opinion. I'll stick to my reasonable statement about being open to anything (even a god or gods) given sufficient evidence and leave it at that.

G said...

csm,

That comment from anonymous is similar to what I was saying about our propensity to explain things away. It isn't just you. I think it's pretty common to all of us.

And you ask about communication between the dimensions. Well, that is exactly what Christians (and religious Jews, with the Old Testament) believe that the Bible is. God spoke through the prophets among others. And at the beginning of the book of Hebrews, we are specifically told:
"God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son..."

The desire to receive communication is valid. But the problem is how to do so in a way that makes it clear that the one speaking is from outside our time-space domain. One way (for someone outside time) would be accurately predictive prophecy.

Also, it needs to be done in a way that we won't just write the appearance off as a hallucination. I assume we all remember the reaction when President Bush said that he speaks to God and God speaks to him. People thought there was a crazy person in the White House.

BAWDYSCOT said...

g,

I sure hope you are not saying Bush is a prophet. That would be like calling Mr. Magoo a prophet and no offense to Mr. Magoo.

Which leads me to a more serious point. Why(and this is pretty much rhetorical)haven't we had a prophet with accuracy when this planet really needs it, like right now? If god wanted us all to be believers you would think a prophet would be in order, no?

Al said...

Actually a very good point. What would pass as evidence?

csm said...

Well, G, if gods always spoke to everyone it would be a quite common human phenomenon. But it would seem that Yahweh stopped talking thousands of years ago... OK, maybe he still talks to a few loonies, but that is a very stupid tactic for an all-knowing god, don't you think?

Here's a thought - read (or re-read) the linked post at A Whore in the Temple of Reason. If prayer regularly grew new arms or built bridges, in plain view of whomever was around, while a thunderous voice said something like "Hi there guys and gals, here is another miracle brought to you by god. Keep on keepin' on down there and I'll be back tomorrow with another useful miracle."

But that NEVER happened (don't care what ancient texts say) and it NEVER will. (Of course, I'd be happy to be proved wrong about that.)

Ceroill said...

Even in the days of classical Greece, at the apex of Athenian type democracy, you had folk like Socrates saying that there were no gods, and that it was all just superstition. That was one of the big things that got him executed. He was 'corrupting' the youth of Athens with his dangerous ideas.

derF said...

Are you suggesting that GOD is the outer stockade for the colonized mind?

Anonymous said...

Socrates was essentially an atheist?

Socrates believed in the immortality of the soul and that the gods had singled him out as a divine messenger. Naturally that didn't sit well with Athenians who were more concerned with families, careers, and politics. His corruption of the youth of Athens was his assertion that they should be concerned with the welfare of the souls. Maybe even a bisexual?

Socrates

Ceroill said...

Ok, shows how good my memory is, lol. Perhaps it's one of the other big philosophers of that age that I was trying to remember. However, in the article you link to I did notice this interesting bit: Socrates is guilty of refusing to recognize the gods recognized by the state, and of introducing new divinities.
Not atheistic, I admit. Still, it shows how big he was into questioning just about everything.

derF said...

Having just returned from taking in tonight's lunar eclipse, I'm put in mind of Plato's Timaeus

. Like most of his work, Plato attributes the 'dangerous' ideas he expresses to his mentor Socrates.

What occurs to me, when we discuss a period when Athens had launched itself into the pursuit of an empire that ultimately lead to the loss of everything it valued, is that it is not GOD that is the outer stockade of the colonized mind but, rather culture. When we compare the ideas of our world, a world that has had decades to internalize the thought of Bertrand Russell, with the culture of Greece 2500 years ago; we construct a poor analogy.

The ideas of THAT Greece pre-date all of Christian mythos, while our world has marinated in it for 2000 years. Most probably, our conception of what atheism is would be inexpressible in ancient Greece. Looking at Timaeus, we might be able to appreciate some of the limitations of language, both ours and their's.

G said...

bawdy,

No, I wasn't saying Bush is a prophet. It was just an example of how people react when someone says that God speaks to them.

csm,

If people ignore the revelation God has already given us, then what makes you think anyone would listen to any further revelation (even if it comes directly to them). And if you want the answer to why He doesn't do that today, consider the reasons behind His communication with man... and that maybe He has already given us all the info we need.

As for miracles, you would need to determine the purpose behind God's miracles that have already been revealed. And I'll leave the rest to the words of Jesus:

"An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Mt 12:39-40

Basically, if you want a miracle, He gave the resurrection. If a person rejects that miracle, then is there really any need for anything further?

He also warned against false signs and wonders and false prophets. So just because something miraculous happens wouldn't necessarily mean it came from God.

Sorry for all the theological stuff. I'm sure it bores you. But I don't know of any other way to answer your questions.

csm said...

Sorry, G, it doesn't make any sense. God would know that many humans are lying, manipulative, power-hungry, etc. All fine motivations for creating a religion. Furthermore, if the "revelation" you speak of is the bible, then it is not trustworthy either (I know, you will disagree with that, so be it) as there are numerous contradictions and numerous examples of erroroneous biblical prophecies. Quite a bad track record. My favorite example is Jesus telling his disciples that there would be people among those he was speaking to that would still be alive for the second coming.

It is all too convenient for apologists to say god already did or nobody would believe him if he did. If god exists, and he loves me, and he wants me to love him, and he is all-knowing, then he knows what it would take for me to believe and worship him, but fails to do it. In other words, he is no god worth worshipping.

BAWDYSCOT said...

g,

That was a joke buddy.

al,

If evidence were on a scoreboard, the creationists would need some more points.