21 Unconvincing Arguments for God

A while back, I posted Minnesota Atheist August Berkshire‘s list of the 18 Unconvincing Arguments for God:

August Berkshire

He has now updated the list with a few new entries, so the updated version of the 21 Unconvincing Arguments for God are below. If you’d like to download a nicer PDF version, you can do that here.

To reiterate what I said in the original posting, August has said the list was written in order to give Christians (and those of other faiths) “insight as to what arguments are not likely to work with us, as we have already considered them and found them insufficient… It was meant to be a time-saving device for believers.”

For religious readers, if you understand August’s points, you’ll certainly get more reception from the atheists you’re talking to. We’ve heard these arguments before and new arguments would better stimulate our curiosity and require new rebuttals.

Here is August explaining why he wrote the list:

I have been giving this talk for the past two years specifically to Christian colleges where I am invited to speak. The impetus happened three years ago, speaking to a “Creative Evangelism” class taught by Sherry Bunge Mortenson at Bethel University in St. Paul. A student asked what would convince me that God exists? I named a few miracles that would at least convince me that something supernatural exists. But the question stuck in my mind and I naturally began to think of what wouldn’t convince me. Thus, if the goal of these students was to evangelize an atheist, it seemed perfectly appropriate that I give them a list of what wouldn’t work, so they could creatively come up with some new arguments, as their class title suggests. I meant this to be educational and in no way condescending, and that is how I hope the students perceive my presentation.

The list:

(1) Holy Books – Just because something is written down does not make it true. This goes for the Bible, the Qu’ran, and any other holy book. It is circular reasoning to try to prove the god of a holy book exists by using the holy book itself as “evidence.”

People who believe the holy book of one religion usually disbelieve the holy books of other religions.

(2) “Revelations” – All religions claim to be revealed, usually through people called “prophets.” But a revelation is a personal experience. Even if the revelations really did come from a god, there is no way we could prove it. As Thomas Paine said, it is a revelation only to the first person, after that it is hearsay. People of one religion usually disbelieve the revelations of other religions.

(3) Personal Testimony / Feelings – This is when you are personally having the revelation or feeling that a god exists. Though you may be sincere, and even if a god really does exist, a feeling is not proof, either for you or for someone else.

(4) The “God Part” of the Brain – Some religious people argue that a god must exist, or why else would we have a part of our brain that can “recognize” a god? What use would that part of our brain be otherwise?

However, imagination is important for us to be able to predict the future, and thus aids our survival. We can imagine all kinds of things that aren’t true. It is a byproduct of being able to imagine things that might be true.

As a matter of fact, scientists have begun to study why some people have religious beliefs and others don’t, from a biological perspective. They have identified certain naturally occurring chemicals in our brains that can give us religious experiences.

In studies of religion and the brain, a new field called neurotheology, they have identified the temporal lobe as a place in the brain that can generate religious experiences.

Another part of the brain that regulates a person’s sense of “self” can be consciously shut down during meditation, giving the meditator (who loses his or her sense of personal boundaries) a feeling of “oneness” with the universe.

(5) “Open Heart” – It will do no good to ask atheists to “open our hearts and accept Jesus” (or any other deity). If we were to set aside our skepticism, we might indeed have an inspirational experience. But this would be an emotional experience and, like a revelation, we’d have no way to verify if a god was really speaking to us or if we were just hallucinating.

(6) Unverifiable “Miracles” / Resurrection Stories – Many religions have miracle stories. And just as people who believe in one religion are usually skeptical towards miracle stories of other religions, atheists are skeptical toward all miracle stories.

Good magicians can perform acts that seem like miracles. Things can be mismeasured and misinterpreted. A “medical miracle” can simply be attributed to our lack of knowledge of how the human body works. Why are there never any indisputable miracles, such as an amputated arm regenerating?

Regarding resurrections, atheists will not find a story of someone resurrecting from the dead to be convincing. There are many such legends in ancient literature and, again, most religious people reject the resurrection stories of other religions.

Modern resurrection stories always seem to occur in Third World countries under unscientific conditions. However, there have been thousands of people in modern hospitals hooked up to machines that verified their deaths when they died. Why didn’t any of them ever resurrect?

(7) Fear of Death / “Heaven” – Atheists don’t like the fact that we’re all going to die any more than religious people do. However, this fear does not prove there is an afterlife – only that we wish there was an afterlife. But wishing doesn’t make it so.

There is no reason to believe our consciousness survives the death of our brains. The mind is not something separate from the body. Chemical alteration and physical damage to our brains can change our thoughts.

Some people get Alzheimer’s disease at the end of their lives. The irreversible damage to their brains can be detected by brain scans. These people lose their ability to think, yet they are still alive. How, one second after these people die, does their thinking return (in a “soul”)?

(8) Fear of Hell – The idea of hell strikes atheists as a scam – an attempt to get people to believe through fear what they cannot believe through reason and evidence.

The only way to approach this “logically” is to find the religion that punishes you the worst for disbelief, and then believe that religion. Okay, you will have saved yourself from the worst punishment that exists – if that religion is the “true” religion.

But if that religion (with its punishment) is not the true religion – if the religion that has the second or third worst punishment for disbelief is the true religion – then you have saved yourself nothing.

So, which religion’s hell is the true hell. Without evidence, we can never know.

(9) “Pascal’s Wager” / Faith – In short, Pascal’s Wager states that we have everything to gain (an eternity in heaven) and nothing to lose by believing in a god. On the other hand, disbelief can lead to a loss of heaven (i.e. hell).

We’ve already noted that heaven is wishful thinking and that hell is a scam, so let’s address the issue of faith.

Pascal’s Wager assumes a person can will himself or herself into having faith. This is simply not the case, at least not for an atheist. So atheists would have to pretend to believe. But according to most definitions of God, wouldn’t God know we were lying to hedge our bets? Would a god reward this?

Part of Pascal’s Wager states that you “lose nothing” by believing. But an atheist would disagree. By believing under these conditions, you’re acknowledging that you’re willing to accept some things on faith. In other words, you’re saying you’re willing to abandon evidence as your standard for judging reality. Faith doesn’t sound so appealing when it’s phrased that way, does it?

(10) Blaming the Victim – Many religions punish people for disbelief. However, belief requires faith, and some people, such as atheists, are incapable of faith. Their minds are only receptive to evidence. Therefore, are atheists to be blamed for not believing when “God” provides insufficient evidence?

(11) The End of the World – Like the concept of hell, this strikes atheists as a scare tactic to get people to believe through fear what they can’t believe through reason and evidence. There have been predictions that the world was going to end for centuries now. The question you might want to ask yourselves, if you’re basing your religious beliefs on this, is how long you’re willing to wait – what amount of time will convince you that the world is not going to end?

(12) Meaning in Life – This is the idea that, without belief in a god, life would be meaningless. Even if this were true, it would only prove we wanted a god to exist to give meaning to our lives, not that a god actually does exist. But the very fact that atheists can find meaning in their lives without a belief in a god shows that god belief is not necessary.

(13) “God is Intangible, Like Love” – Love is not intangible. We can define love both as a type of feeling and as demonstrated by certain types of actions.

Unlike “God,” love is a physical thing. We know the chemicals responsible for the feeling of love.

Also, love depends upon brain structure – a person with a lobotomy or other type of brain damage cannot feel love.

Furthermore, if love were not physical, it would not be confined to our physical brains. We would expect to be able to detect an entity or force called “love” floating around in the air.

(14) Morality/Ethics – This is the idea that without a god we’d have no basis for morality. However, a secular moral code existed before the Bible: the Code of Hammurabi.

In Plato’s dialogue called Euthyphro, Socrates asks a man named Euthyphro whether something is good because God says it is, or does God announce something to be good because it has intrinsic goodness?

If something is good because God says it is, then God might change his mind about what is good. Thus, there would be no absolute morality.

If God merely announces something to be good because it has intrinsic goodness, then we might be able to discover this intrinsic goodness ourselves, without the need for god belief.

Christians can’t even agree among themselves what’s moral when it comes to things like masturbation, premarital sex, homosexuality, divorce, contraception, abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, and the death penalty.

Christians reject some of the moral laws found in the Bible, such as killing disobedient children or people who work on the sabbath. Therefore, Christians must be applying their own ethical standards from outside the Bible to be able to recognize that these commandments in the Bible are unethical.

Other animals exhibit kindness toward one another and a sense of justice. Morality is something that evolved from us being social beings. It’s based on the selfish advantage we get from cooperation, and on consequences.

(15) Altruism – People sometimes say that without a god there would be no altruism, that evolution only rewards selfish behavior.

However, it can be argued that there is no such thing as altruism, that people always do what they want to do. If they are only faced with bad choices, then people choose the thing they hate the least.

Our choices are based on what gives us (our genes) the best advantage for survival, including raising our reputation in society.

“Altruism” towards family members benefits people who share our genes. “Altruism” towards friends benefits people who may someday return the favor.

Even “altruism” towards strangers has a basis in evolution. This behavior first evolved in small tribes, where everyone knew each other and a good reputation enhanced one’s survival. It is now hard-wired in our brains as a general mode of conduct.

(16) Free Will – Some people argue that without a god there would be no free will, that we would live in a deterministic universe of cause and effect and that we would be mere “robots.”

Actually, there is far less free will than most people think there is. Our conditioning (our biological desire to survive and prosper, combined with our experiences) make certain “choices” far more likely than others. How else can we explain our ability, in many cases, to predict human behavior?

Experiments have shown that our brain makes a “decision” to take action before we become conscious of it!

Some believe that the only free will we have is to exercise a conscious veto over actions suggested by our thoughts.

Most atheists have no problem admitting that free will may be an illusion.

This issue also brings up a conundrum: If a god who created us knows the future, how can we have free will?

In the end, if we are enjoying our lives, does it matter if free will is real or an illusion? Isn’t it only our ego – our healthy self-esteem that is beneficial for survival – that has been conditioned to believe that real free will is somehow better than imaginary free will?

(17) Difficulties of Religion – It has sometimes been argued that because certain religious practices are difficult to follow, nobody would do them if a god didn’t exist. However, it is the belief in the existence of a god that is motivating people. A god doesn’t really have to exist for this to happen.

Difficulties can serve as an initiation rite of passage into being counted one of the “select few.” After all, if just anybody could be “saved,” there might be no point in having a religion.

Finally, the reward for obedience promised by most religions – a heaven – far outweighs any difficulties religion imposes.

(18) False Dichotomies – This is being presented with a false “either/or” proposition, where you’re only given two alternatives when, in fact, there are more possibilities.

Here’s one that many Christians are familiar with: “Either Jesus was insane or he was god. Since Jesus said some wise things, he wasn’t insane. Therefore, he must be God, like he said he was.” But those are not the only two possibilities.

A third option is that, yes, it is possible to say some wise things and be deluded that you are a god.

A fourth possibility is that Jesus didn’t say everything that is attributed to him in the Bible. Maybe he didn’t actually say all those wise things, but the writers of the Bible said he did. Or maybe he never claimed to be God, but the writers turned him into a god after he died.

A fifth possibility is that Jesus is a fictional character and so everything was invented by the authors.

Here’s another example of a false dichotomy: “No one would die for a lie. The early Christians died for Christianity. Therefore, Christianity must be true.”

What’s left out of this is that there is no evidence that anyone who ever personally knew Jesus (if he even existed) was ever martyred. We only have stories of martyrdom.

Another explanation is that the followers had been fooled, intentionally or unintentionally, into thinking Jesus was God, and so they were willing to die for a lie (that they thought was true.)

Another point is that if you believe you’ll end up in a heaven after to die, then martyrdom is no big deal.

Finally, does the fact that the 9/11 bombers were willing to die for their faith make Islam true?

(19) God-of-the-Gaps (Medicine, Life, Universe, etc.) – The god-of-the-gaps argument says that if we don’t currently know the scientific answer to something, then “God did it.”

God-of-the-gaps is used in many areas, but I’ll focus on the three main ones: medicine, life, and the universe. You’ll notice that God never has to prove himself in these arguments. It is always assumed that he gets to win by default.

Here’s a medical example: A person experiences a cure for a disease that science can’t explain. Therefore, “God did it.”

But this assumes we know everything about the human body, so that a natural explanation is impossible. But the fact is, we don’t have complete medical knowledge. Why don’t we ever see something that would be a true miracle, like an amputated arm instantaneously regenerating?

Several studies of prayer, where the patients didn’t know whether or not they were being prayed for, including a study by the Mayo Clinic, have shown prayer to have no effect on healing.

(This raises the question of why we would have to beg an all-powerful, all-loving god to be healed in the first place. It seems ironic, to say the least, to pray to a god to be cured from diseases and the effects of natural disasters that he himself created. It also raises the Problem of Evil: If God is all-powerful and all-loving, why does evil exist in the first place?)

An example of god-of-the-gaps as it applies to life is creationism and “intelligent design.” It says we don’t know everything about evolution, therefore “God did it.” This ignores the fossil and genetic evidence and also fails to explain the many poor and sub-optimal “designs” we find in nature. Is “God” an incompetent or sloppy designer?

The final and most popular example of god-of-the-gaps is the universe. But to say we don’t know the origins of the universe – if the universe even had an ultimate beginning – does not mean that “God did it.”

And, of course, it begs the question: Who created God? If complex things need a creator to explain their existence, then “God,” who by the traditional definition is far more complex than the universe, and is even more in need of a creator.

(20) “Fine-tuning” of the Earth – Some religious people argue that the Earth is positioned “just right” in the solar system (not too hot, not too cold, etc.) for life to exist. Furthermore, the elements on Earth (carbon, oxygen, etc.) are also “just right.” These people claim that this couldn’t have happened “by accident,” so a god must exist to have done the positioning and chemistry.

We should be able to recognize a god-of-the-gaps argument here. But an even better rebuttal exists. If Earth was the only planet in the universe, then it would indeed be remarkable that our conditions turned out to be “just right.”

But most religious people acknowledge that there are probably thousands, if not millions, of other planets in the universe. (Our own solar system has eight planets.) Therefore, by chance, at least one of those planets will have conditions that will produce some kind of life.

We can imagine religious purple creatures with four eyes and breathing carbon dioxide on another planet also falsely believing that their planet is “fine-tuned” and that a creator god exists in their image.

(21)“Fine-tuning” of the Universe – Some religious people argue that the six physical constants of the universe (which control such things as the strength of gravity) can only exist within a very narrow range to produce a universe capable of sustaining life. Therefore, since this couldn’t have happened “by accident,” a god must have done it.

Again, this is a god-of-the-gaps argument. But beyond that, this argument assumes that we know everything about astrophysics – a field in which new discoveries are made on almost a daily basis. We may discover that our universe is not so “fine tuned” after all.

However, the best rebuttal is that there may exist multiple universes – either separately or as “bubble universes” within a single universe. Each of these universes could have its own set of constants. Given enough universes, by chance it is likely that at least one will produce and sustain life.

We know it is possible for at least one universe to exist – we are in it. If one can exist, why not many? On the other hand, we have no evidence that it is possible for even one god to exist.

Conclusion – Religious people have a tough, if not impossible task to try to prove a god exists, let alone that their particular religion is true. If any religion had objective standards, wouldn’t everyone be flocking to the same “true” religion? Instead we find that people tend to believe, to varying degrees, the religion in which they were indoctrinated. Or they are atheists.



[tags]August Berkshire, Minnesota Atheists, atheist, atheism, Atheist Alliance International, 21 Unconvincing Arguments for God, Christians, Christianity, StarTribune, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Minnesota, Bible, Qu’ran, Koran, Thomas Paine, god gene, neurotheology, temporal lobe, Jesus, Third World, resurrection, Heaven, afterlife, Alzheimer’s disease, soul, Hell, Pascal’s Wager, Code of Hammurabi, masturbation, premarital sex, homosexuality, divorce, contraception, abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, death penalty, sabbath, altruism, martyr, 9/11, God-of-the-Gaps, Medicine, Life, Universe, Mayo Clinic, creationism, intelligent design, Creative Evangelism, Sherry Bunge Mortenson, Bethel University[/tags]

  • Tao Jones

    But most religious people acknowledge that there are probably thousands, if not millions, of other planets in the universe. (Our own solar system has eight planets.) Therefore, by chance, at least one of those planets will have conditions that will produce some kind of life.

    I guess Berkshire is one of those guys who believes in one less planet too.

  • J.S.Brown

    I noticed #6 and #19 both use the example of an amputated limb instantly regenerating – that this is a reasonable expectation of miraculous healing. The fact that we don’t see something as obviously miraculous is used as a point against the existence of miracles. I’m not sure if it should be addressed in the list, but there ARE religious people who believe they have witnessed such things.

    Just this week, a Christian told me about a female college student he knew. He said that she was three feet, eleven inches tall. He also told me that she had become tired of being a midget (his word), so she prayed to “god” to be taller. [insert drum roll here] Wouldn’t you know it? She grew twelve inches in a twenty-four hour period! …or so goes the account. I asked for evidence, but none was produced.

  • http://fivepublicopinions.blogspot.com AV

    He also told me that she had become tired of being a midget (his word), so she prayed to “god” to be taller. [insert drum roll here] Wouldn’t you know it? She grew twelve inches in a twenty-four hour period! …or so goes the account. I asked for evidence, but none was produced.

    Even if–hypothethically-speaking–the growing taller was legit, attributing it to an answered prayer would constitute a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

  • J.S.Brown

    To AV: It’s obviously fallacious, but nonetheless convincing to those with unwillingness / inability to weed out faulty reasoning. Such a person, like the man I described, will not understand why #6 and the relevant part of #19 are unconvincing.

  • Monty

    He seems to have forgotten another aspect of #21. If this is the only way the universe could support life, then by definition this this would be the only way we could observe it. This would give us a heady dose of bias and make us forget the a) eventual probability in the “many worlds” scenario and b) our own poor reasoning.

  • http://www.templewhore.blogspot.com Slut

    Thanks for this. I posted this on my blog as well. Lady Monchichi suggested the author add another: “Can we add another for misusing science? I am sure you have had the misfortune of reading or hearing Deepak and friends using the often misunderstood field of quantum mechanics to prove whatever. It makes me die a little on the inside every time one of these people uses physics to validate their oddball beliefs.”

  • Kate

    Tao Jones –

    Just as an update, Pluto no longer counts as a planet. So he’s correct in that, yes, there are now eight planets.

  • miller

    I recall that last time, I disagreed with quite a number of refutations, but they seem to have improved (or has my mind turned?) However, I do disagree with the one statement that choices are solely determined by genes and the survival advantages (number 15). Also, I feel that the fine-tuning argument requires a more sophisticated refutal.

    Number 13 (“God is intangible, like love”) got me thinking. God really does exist! Just like love, he exists entirely within humans’ brain-chemistry.

  • Tao Jones

    Kate,

    I’m aware of the current status on Pluto as I am the controversy surrounding the change. If you ask a bunch of random people how many planets are in our solar system, you would get the answers eight or, probably more often, nine. Earlier this year, my nephew was taught in school that there were nine.

    Ask the same random people how many gods there are, and you might get the answers: none, one, or many. My nephew, going to Catholic school, is taught that there is one.

    One might see parallels where science and reason have reduced the number of gods in the same manner as they have reduced the number of planets. Yet there are stragglers who refuse to accept or believe either and there are innocents (like my nephew) who are subsequently taught by these stragglers.

    However, does declaring there are eight planets get the same reaction from people as declaring there are no gods? Of course not. Should that be the case? I’m not sure.

    Miller’s comment gave me this idea in relation to the number of planets discussion. Atheists are quite confident there isn’t a god. We are quite sure it isn’t god helping believers cope with life, it is the idea of god. It isn’t god we have a problem with, it is the idea of god. Likewise, it isn’t Pluto people have a problem with. It isn’t Pluto as planet or dwarf planet people have a problem with (Pluto stays the same, whatever it is called. A rose by any other name…) It is the idea of Pluto as a planet that can cause some issues.

    Hopefully that makes sense to you now. It should be clear my comment was sarcastic.

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  • a Muslim

    You guys should really learn more about Islam.

    I don’t mean learn about Islam from what you see on tv (fox new etc) or even from Muslim books. I mean you guys should take a copy of the Quran and simply read it from cover to cover.

    It has logical answers to all the ‘arguments’ posted here.

    i probably don’t have enough space here so Im not going to go through all of the augments mentioned above point by point

    Instead Im just going to comment on a few. namely #1, #6 and #9

    #1 holy books
    The author’s right. “Just because something is written down does not make it true”. If any writer wants their work to be taken seriously, he has to establish its validity through a logical argument by offering some kind of proof and more importantly by offering the reader a means of verifying that proof. Without this how can God (Allah) possible expect humans (who’s most distinguishing feature from other animals is their logic) to follow him.

    #6 Unverifiable “Miracles”
    For this reason, Allah (God) gave human kind the Quran. So, what kind of logic or verifiable proof does that Quran offer? Well, tons.

    For one, it contains no mistakes what so ever. Not even grammatical mistakes.

    Most of you at this point will jump out of your seats and will straight away point out verses in the Quran that advocate the killing of Jews, Christians etc etc. But for a second forget about that! Trust me if you go away and actually read the WHOLE chapter or Sura (I mean the verses before and after) that allegedly talks about this kind of stuff you’d realise it nothing like what FOX news/far right nut jobs make it out to be.

    For now lets just concentrate on the cold hard facts that the Quran talks about, because these are the things that are verifiable.

    1/ it talks about the universe being created from a cloud of hot dust and how god expands it with his power and how he will end it by collapsing it back together.
    [ie the big bang theory/big crunch ending this has more or less been proved.]

    2/It talks about creating the sky in seven layers with each layer having its own separate purpose.
    [again provable. The atmosphere is made of 7 separate layers.]

    3/ the shape of the Earth, describing it as egg shaped. NOT AS A SPHERE AS IS THE COMMON MISCONSEPTION TO THIS DAY
    [Yet again its provable]

    4/ Human embryonic development.
    [actually this was described in such detail that it was only verified in the last century with the development of power microscopes]

    5/ Explains how Iron as an element was sent down to humans from outside the solar system.
    [Again only recently scientist have confirmed that our sun is not capable of producing iron atoms. Thus iron is a foreign element from outside the solar system]

    6/ Mathematically. The mathematically validity of the Quran is best demonstrated in Excel. It a bit long winded for this discussion but if you check out the following youtube vid http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdQ0t1wfSe4 you would be very impressed. This is nothing like the bible code thing. It more like a demonstration in data transmission…just watch the vid you’ll see what I mean. Its awesome.

    I’ve only mentioned a few here but there are hundreds of these facts in the Quran. I know that various ancient civilisations also came up with some interesting discoveries ahead of their times, but the reason I mentioned these particular six is because no one earth had the technology or mathematical development to find this stuff out when the Quran was first reviled. It took centuries of research just to develop the tools to begin explaining things like the big bang theory.

    Why is any of this important? And why would Allah tell people about the seven layers of the sky or where iron originally came from etc…
    Because whenever the Quran says something like “this is the word of God” it immediately follows with something like “if you don’t believe me then here’s a fact that only a god would know…da da dada… now go outside and try and disprove me if you still have doubts”

    #9 Faith.
    Followers of Islam are never asked to follow their faith blindly, because that’s just silly. This is the uniqueness of the Quran. No other holy book has ever challenged the reader to try and disprove it and then given the reader a verifiable way of doing this. Indeed most of the greatest Islamic scholars were once non believers who set out to try and disprove the Quran only to find this impossible and subsequently realised the beauty of Islam over other ideologies.

    Interestingly, Muslim scholars hold the view that of all the miracles that were performed by all the prophets that ever came: from Adam through to Jesus to Muhammad, not a single person ever converted based upon miracles being performed or through simple faith. Every single person that came to God did so using the logic that Allah (God) gave them and by the simplicity of his message.

    Sorry this had to be so long but I hope someone finds this interesting.

    Anyway I am going back to writing my uni dissertation. Its 4am in the UK and I only have two more days to finish it!….im soooooooooo screwed!!! (panic panic panic – stress stress stress :-0 ) Does anyone know anything about the sub-prime mortgage crisis?…..

  • mooster

    Oh dear, Tao…I guess you haven’t heard the news about Pluto… ;)

  • Jason Berger

    proof is a mathematical concept and has no relevance when we are discussing whether or not a god exists

  • bonder

    a muslim said:

    1/ it talks about the universe being created from a cloud of hot dust and how god expands it with his power and how he will end it by collapsing it back together.
    [ie the big bang theory/big crunch ending this has more or less been proved.]

    Actually, scientists have discovered that the expansion of the universe is not slowing down as we would expect (due to the gravitational attraction of everything); they’ve found that the expansion is speeding up. This would suggest that the the universe is not going to collapse back together. Also, the last density calculation I remember seeing for the universe wasn’t high enough to expect that the gravity alone could collapse the universe, never mind the observation that dark energy appears to work to counteract gravity on large distances. Granted, there is more going on than we currently understand, but all the evidence points away from a “big crunch”.

    I think that there should be another point on the list for arguing for the scientific truth in your holy book written over a thousand years ago. The bible says that man was created from dirt, the quran from a clot of blood. I’m pretty sure most soil composition does not have the same chemical composition as a human body, and where did this blood come from that humans were created from? It could not have come from humans, since there were none around. I don’t know the whole of the quran’s creation story, but either it says we were created from the blood of some other animal or magical blood existed before other animal life did. Either way, I think the chemical composition argument should probably work for blood as well. In any event, the people writing the text were ignorant of modern science, just as we’re ignorant of future science. Modern day scientists don’t claim that their papers or books are 100% scientific truth, why should we expect ancient text to achieve this?

  • bonder

    a muslim said:

    3/ the shape of the Earth, describing it as egg shaped. NOT AS A SPHERE AS IS THE COMMON MISCONSEPTION TO THIS DAY
    [Yet again its provable]

    It’s more like orders of approximation here. For the shape of the earth, the 0th order approximation would be to model the earth as being flat. This approximation works well over small areas. The 1st order approximation, which is the biggest jump (philosophically and in accuracy) would be to model the earth as being spherical. This approximation works well for most every day things. The 2nd order approximation takes into account that because the earth is spinning, there should be a bulge around the equator, so we model the earth as an oblate spheroid. The bulge isn’t that big, though, and the earth differs from spherical by about 0.34%, a much smaller correction from going from flat to spherical. The 3rd order approximation is to realize that the bulge isn’t centered on the equator, but about 100 meters or so south of the equator, so, we model the earth as a geoid. This correction is much smaller than the one going from a sphere to an oblate spheroid. So, yes, it is true that the earth is slightly “egg shaped”, but the earth is actually closer to a perfect ellipsoid (a sphere is a type of ellipsoid) than a billiard ball is. Does it end here? probably not, as our measurements get more precise, we well may find that the earth deviates from a geoid as well.

    So, I know the earth is not spherical, does that make me wrong to treat is as such in my daily life? No, because this yields results within my bounds of precision. Are people who think the earth is spherical wrong? Well, yes and no. Technically, they are wrong, but I think of it as an error of an incomplete model, but for the average person, this model works well enough.

  • a muslim

    Jason Berger said,
    “proof is a mathematical concept and has no relevance when we are discussing whether or not a god exists”
    Of course it does! Why doesn’t maths have any relevant to the discussion of god’s existence? Maths isn’t so much about counting numbers and solving equations. Maths is all about developing and using logical skills. If you accepts that the concept of god can be argued from a logical standpoint than why can’t it be debated from a mathematical standpoint.

    Let me give you one example.

    The Quran is composed of 114 suras or chapters.
    Each chapter is composed of a certain number of verses.
    Now here’s what’s interesting, and something that you can try as well .

    Open an excel sheet and write the numbers 1-114 in one column and the corresponding number of verses for each chapter in the next column.
    Calculate the sums of each column to give 6555 and 6236

    In a third column write the sum of each chapter number with the corresponding number of verses. This will produce a 114 different subtotal composed of a chapter number plus the number of versus for that chapter. Simple.

    Naturally some of these sub-totals will be of number and sum will be even numbers. Split this third column into two separate columns with the odd numbers in one column and the even numbers in another column.

    Surprisingly the total sum of the odd column is 6555 – which is the same as the sum of all the chapters. And the total sum of the even column is 6236 – which is the same as the total number of verses.

    So what, this result might be entertaining but by no means significant right?….unless your a computer programmer.

    You see modern day computer programmers know that if your going to transmit a large amount of data than you have to include what’s’ called a parity bit.
    This serves as a check to make sure that a binary transmission, which consists of 0’s and 1’s, is transmitted accurately without any 0’s or 1’s being lost in the process.
    In order to eliminate mistakes a programmer includes a check bit such that the total of a bit will add up to an even or an odd number depending on the choice of the programmer.

    The similarity between this and what you read earlier is that it proves that the Quran has been transmitted over time intact. Had a single verse been left out or moved to another chapter, the above result would not have corresponded. This is just one example of the ‘mathematical miracles’ in the Quran. There called miracles because no mere human could produce any thing containing the number of mathematical curiosity that the Quran does as well as the scientific facts.

    I don’t mean just this one particular one. There are hundreds of others. Like the number of times the word man and woman mentioned in the Quran are equal. The number of times the word day mentioned in the Quran is 365, the word month is mentioned 12 times. All of these things together certainly show the Quran is by all means unique.

  • bonder

    @a muslim:

    The stuff about adding up the verse numbers and chapter numbers doesn’t prove that the quran has been transmitted over time intact. For example, the content of a verse or collection of verses can be modified without changing the number of verses in a given chapter.

    Also, using certain words a certain number of times is by no means a difficult thing. And this certainly does not prove divine inspiration in writing. More difficult than to limit the number of uses of a word is to limit the use of a letter. For example, there have been books written completely without using the letter “e”. I find this a much more difficult task and none of the authors have claimed divine inspiration (to my knowledge) for their work.

    I will grant you that these numbers in the quran are an interesting curiosity, especially since I’m fascinated by numbers, but I really don’t see it as anything more than a curiosity. Also, you say that no one had the technology to figure out some of the mathematical stuff about the quran at the time of its writing. Then I must ask what other mathematical stuff is in the quran, because I’m pretty sure Archimedes could have figured out everything you’ve mentioned so far, and he lived before the quran was written.

  • http://www.cogspace.com/ Katie Molnar

    @a muslim:

    I figured I’d finish burying your nonsense and reiterate some interesting points made by others here:

    On “miraculousness” of math:

    The early Islamists are credited with inventing most of the mathematics you claim they didn’t have. That’s some interesting logic on your part. The very name of Algebra comes from the Arabic for “to calculate.”

    On Parity Bits (from a programmer)

    You don’t seem to know what a parity bit is. I’m a programmer, and a perity bit is all but useless. It used to be useful back when we were sending a few bytes of data at once, but a parity bit can only tell you if an odd number of errors occured. If an even number of errors occur, ou get a false positive in the parity bit. This type of simple check has been in place since ancient China, where financial documents were postpended with a kind of checksum to prevent tampering. They predate the Qur’an by thousands of years.

    Now-a-days, us computer programmers send a bona-fide checksum (like and md5 or sha1 hash) of the bulk of the data to be probabilistically certain that data is transmitted intact. More complex measures are necessary to prevent intentional tampering, such as a PGP signature.

    On the shape of the earth:

    Also, to drive home the point made about the earth being closer to a sphere than a regulation billiard ball — this obviously means it is several orders of magnitude more correct to say “the earth is spherical” than to say “the earth is egg-shaped”.

    On Qur’an Chapter Counts and Such

    Your summing-stuff-up and calculating regarding numbers of verses and such other arbitrary crap in the Qu’ran actually has a hidden kludge in the math. It can be proven with minimal effort that by providing a complex enough algorithm, any output can be produced from any input. This is nothing but a clever munge of numbers to produce an interesting effect.

    On the SIX layers of the atmosphere:

    Earth’s atmosphere does not have seven layers: Troposphere, Stratosphere, Mesosphere, Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Exosphere.

    Count them. That’s six.

    In Conclusion:

    A lot of hot air and long-winded whining have, as is typical of the “argument” coming back from the religious, amounted to nothing. Your methods, logic, and ability to reason are hereby severely called into question, as are those of all the “enlightened” fools who have flocked to your cruel charade since its inception as a ploy to win back a city for political reasons less long ago than you might like to think.

    Perhaps your greatest error here has been to appeal to logic with a bias that is inherently illogical.

  • Rosito

    Muslim guy (or gal),

    The fatal flaw in your Qu’ranic logic is that it all has to do with how the Qu’ran is interpreted. Qu’ranic interpretation suffers from the same problem as Biblical interpretation: the faithful cannot agree. So unless you, or those whose opinion you follow, share the infallible nature of the god you believe exists, then your logic is screwed.

    Furthermore, all religions and ideologies provide themselves with internal consistency. It does not make them true but it does help to keep the followers deluded.

    This does not mean that you are stupid. It means that you haven’t thought this thing through from an external perspective – one that does not start from the conclusion that Islam, especially the version which you accept, is irrevocably correct.

  • Christian Guy

    While I agree with some points and disagree with others, it is not the Christian’s role to convert people to Christianity. It is written that only God can bring people to Himself. The Christian’s role is to be there when that happens, just as a mother and father are there when a baby is born.

    When Christ gives you new life, you will see these issues from a different perspective and you will understand them. I’m sure you’ve been burned by the church and by religions before. The problem with them is that there are people in them. By their very nature, people are not perfect.

    Keep seeking the truth and you will find it.

  • http://kill-me-if-you-can.com Bob Miller

    What a nice presentation. It’s lucid and compelling. Yours is by far one of the best website on the subject that I’ve come across. If only I could control my passion as you have here. I think passion just might be the clue that one is unsure. Our words come out angry/confused because our minds do not know what we’re trying to say. Like Mr. Spock, who became confused when a statement was void of logic.

    Thank you,
    Bob Miller

  • Richard Wade

    Hi Christian Guy,
    This is a remarkable statement that I can very much respect:

    While I agree with some points and disagree with others, it is not the Christian’s role to convert people to Christianity. It is written that only God can bring people to Himself. The Christian’s role is to be there when that happens, just as a mother and father are there when a baby is born.

    I really wish that most other Christians agreed with you. I think Christians would enjoy a lot more respect from non-Christians if they adopted the stance of being about attraction rather than promotion, to paraphrase Alcoholics Anonymous.

    Could you talk to the hundreds upon hundreds of Christians who ring my doorbell, send me letters in the mail, call me on the phone, hand me literature at the airport, leave fliers on my windshield, shout at me with bullhorns on the corner, distract my driving with billboards, crowd the television and radio frequencies, fill my email with spam, engage me on blogs and buttonhole me at family gatherings, parties, weddings, funerals, conventions, lectures, hotels, gas stations, concerts, museums, college campuses, public restrooms, theaters, fairs, dentist’s waiting rooms, hospital emergency rooms, parks, restaurants, on busses, trains, airplanes, ferry boats, cruises, in line at the supermarket and even several miles off the trail in the middle of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, all, all, ALL to get me to convert to their religion?

    If you could get them to stop that my life would be much more peaceful and I’d really appreciate it.

  • Mike

    I am new to the god or no god argument, so please forgive me for sounding naive. Also forgive me if this is not the proper place to post this message.

    It seems that both sides agree that we do not have all the answers. Can it be ruled out that god is not the ultimate answer? In the end all questions lead to what created energy and matter. Without knowing what did the creating, how can we possibly say there is or isn’t a god.

    Those who say only a miracle will make them believe in a god. I wonder what that miracle would be. It was mentioned several times about an arm growing back. Does it need to be an entire arm? Could it just be a hand, or a finger, or even just a finger tip? There are advances being made with the use of DNA and stem cells. It has been proven that animals can be cloned. Human anatomy is being grown out of stem cells. Is it inconceivable that in 2000 years from now a severed arm could be grown back? If it can be grown back, the miracle of it happening today would be explained away by the skeptics of the future. Jesus may have come back from the dead, or maybe he was resurrected by CPR, or simply came out of a trauma induced coma. What miracle could happen today that people 2000 years from now, who could not be eyewitnesses to it, would still believe it was a miracle?

    Many believe that because god has not spoken directly to them, he must not exist. There are millions of people in the world that do not know each other, far more that don’t even know of each other. Does that mean that those people do not exist? You have not read anything about Johnny “John-John” Doe of Rockyford, South Dakota. You’ve never seen a picture of him. You can’t even Google the man. John-John was born in his parent’s house, and there is not a birth certificate. He helped his family survive by working their farm for the food they ate, and he was home schooled. There are no government records of his existence. John-John passed away and was buried in an unmarked grave in the woods. But you meet a man who tells you that he saw John-John and actually talked to him. He can’t prove it because he didn’t film it. So did John-John exist? Or did this man make up this stuff about actually seeing and talking to John-John? Does god not exist because he has not personally invited you to join his club?

    Those who believe in god do so in the hopes of a better life after this. It’s not that this life is so bad, but really what is the point. Is it just to keep the species going? Those who believe in an afterlife do so to have hope. Hope that whatever has not been provided in this life, whether it is physically, emotionally, or mentally, will be taken care of eventually. Hope gives comfort, and comfort gives peace of mind.

    To believe in Jesus as God means to believe that humans are not a good enough example for themselves. If Jesus was only a human, what excuse do we have for not being as good as he? It gives us an out that Jesus was also God.

    Both believers and non-believers are after the same thing: to belong. To be part of something that doesn’t make them feel alone. We go to church to find comfort with people who want more than to just have today. They want to know that the future holds better times, and than when we die, this life will not be for naught. They may not believe completely in all that the church teaches. But to walk away from a societal group that accepts them, mean to be alone in the world. For most it means not just being separated from the community, but being separated from family. That is a hard thing to walk away from.

    Non-believers also want to belong. It hurts that they haven’t been asked personally by god to be with him. If he loves everyone equally, why not communicate with everyone equally. They search out a place where they find comfort and that is in the realm of facts. There is no chance of being disappointed by something that is certain. But that means to go against the mainstream, and that can be very lonely. So they search out others like themselves, whose commonality is that they share a belief.

    One of atheist reasoning against religion is that there are so many different sects. If there was one true god there would be one religion. The same could be said for non-believers. Should there be just one organization? Perhaps it could be called United Atheist. But reading through the message boards, I see that there are many different organizations. I am guessing each with a little bit different belief or agenda. But within each group are people searching out others that believe in what makes them comfortable.

    I personally move between two ideas of god. The first is that god exists when two or more people work towards the same goal. Heaven will be when every single person works toward the same goal at the same time.

    The second idea is that god is all knowing and all powerful, but not necessarily all good. He is just a guy having fun with what he can control. And he doesn’t owe anyone an explanation for what he does anymore than you owe a stranger on the street an explanation for why you are chewing spearmint gum.

    Thank you for providing a place for me to shared my views. Happy life everyone.

  • J-Rod

    there is no evidence that anyone who ever personally knew Jesus (if he even existed) was ever martyred. We only have stories of martyrdom.

    by this reasoning, all ancient history is suspect. the historical evidence that most of the apostles were martyred is as compelling as the historical evidence for anything else from that time period…that julius caesar was the victim of a murder conspiracy, for example. i didn’t see it, you didn’t see it…we only have stories written by people who were there.

    this guy made some interesting observations, but this particular ‘point’ wasn’t very sharp. for those who are inclined not to believe in the existence of God (i am a christian, just to be clear), there are plenty of legitimate unanswered/unanswerable questions without stretching for something like this.

  • Richard Wade

    Hello, Mike. You come close to understanding non-believers, but allow me to clarify a couple of points where you’re a little off:

    First, a disclaimer. Non-believers are very heterogeneous and disparate. They are very independent and often disagree with each other. So whatever I say has to be kept with that in mind, that plenty of bonifide non-believers will disagree with any number of statements that I or anyone else makes about them.

    You said,

    Many believe that because god has not spoken directly to them, he must not exist.

    It’s not that because god has not spoken directly with them they therefore believe he does not exist, they just don’t have that experience as a reason to believe in him. Most non-believers just abstain from believing; they don’t actively disbelieve. Very few atheists say they believe there is no god. Most say they have no belief in god. There is an enormous difference between these two stances, and it’s sometimes hard for a believer to understand the difference at first.

    Another issue is about probability or ease of belief. John John Doe’s existence is without evidence, so a very skeptical person might withhold belief, but the description of his alleged life is not terribly remarkable, nor does it contain details beyond most people’s experience of many other persons whom they have actually known. So the ease of belief is very high. On the other hand astounding stories about a supernatural being who created everything, is in everything, and knows everything but for no clear reason is invisible, inaudible and intangible to normal human perception carry a much lower ease of belief. For skeptical people, more convincing evidence or experience is needed than what is needed for a leap of faith into believing in John John. Skeptical people often express this with the saying, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

    You are correct in observing that people have a need to belong, but I think that need is not as universal as you assume. As I said, non-believers are very disparate, and are often suspicious of groups and of even being associated with groups. They are often extremely independent. A few are very gregarious and seek out groups of like-minded people. More are marginally interested in some kind of casual fellowship, but they limit the time, intensity and the type of interaction. This is why there are so many different kinds of groups and organizations of non-believing people. Many are absolute loners when it comes to this, and they are fine with that. They may have needs for fellowship but it has nothing to do with religion or the lack thereof. They might belong to groups that center around sports or hobbies or work, but they keep their beliefs private. You don’t encounter them talking to anyone on the internet or anywhere about their views on these matters, so you don’t know about them.

    As for the lack of an afterlife, you would need to get to know several non-believers intimately to understand how they really experience life. Several of those I know live intense, immediate, deliberate lives every day. They really live, and not just in sensory self-indulgence. They work hard to make things around them better for everyone, so that life has more to offer than the abject misery that makes belief in an afterlife so attractive to so many. For them the ending of life does not cancel out it’s worthwhile efforts, making it all meaningless. They see their legacy of kindness, honesty and generosity living on in the people whom they have touched.

    Mike, your first of two ideas of god, the one about people working together for common goals is lovely. I hope you concentrate on that version. It has great potential for good.

    Your second idea of god, I’m sorry, gives me the creeps. It is like Zeus, a capricious, selfish god often mentioned by atheists when in conversations with some of the ugliest, most hateful and most intolerant of believers, people whom I think you would find embarrassing. I hope you lose interest in that version. It has great potential for atrocious things.

    Please stick around. Your ideas are well expressed and you seem to care about people beyond just being potential converts. If you do, could you identify yourself with more than just “Mike”? There are several Mikes who often comment here already; there’s another Mike, Mike C., Mike B., and maybe a couple of others.

  • HappyNat

    To believe in Jesus as God means to believe that humans are not a good enough example for themselves.

    That is one of the saddest statements I’ve read and one reason I felt free when I left my church. To look at all the astonishing creations and advancements humans have made throughout history and to say humans aren’t a good example for themselves and that God is to thank for all of it boggles my mind. The devaluing of the individual person is one shackles of organized religion I despise the most.

  • Mike Skrypek

    Richard,

    Thank you for the feedback. It is encouraging for me to have someone understand my thought process.

    You have given me something to think about with the difference between having no belief in god and disbelieving. I see the nuance you are referring to, but I can’t quite wrap my head around it…yet.

    The idea of “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” makes me feel that we are limiting ourselves to possibilities. I am a firm believer in Murphy’s Law, and also that anything good can happen. (Is there a positive equivalent to Murphy’s Law., such as “If anything can go right, it will?”) Many things I would have never thought possible, happen. People do incredible acts of kindness as well as cruelty. People open up there homes so that total strangers can live, and parents beat and torture their own children to death. I realize all these acts are done by humans. But some seem so unpredictable, so extraordinary. Yet they are true.

    We are limited by our experience. I believe there is life on other planets. I also believe that we would be foolish in thinking that we could recognize that life. If we can believe that there could be life forms of subspecies, why can’t we believe that there could be life forms greater than us? And if we accept that there could be life forms greater than us, how can we put a limit on that greatness? This goes a bit with my second idea of god being in control, but not necessarily good. Maybe he is an alien that just found a planet to mess around with. I know that probably creeps you out too, sorry.

    I see your point on belonging. I was focused too much on the religious aspect to society and ignored the secular.

    When I spoke of the afterlife I was referring to those who believe in god. I understand atheist do not believe in an afterlife. And I think the approach of making the most of it while you are here is the best. Humans hold the key to making the world a better place. It is the getting a consensus of what “better” is that is the tough part. That is where my first idea of god comes in. If we could just get 6.7 billion people to agree on one thing…yowsers! But the idea of all agreeing is as elusive as the idea of god.

    I couldn’t possibly lose interest in a god doing what he does just “because”. That is not to say I would worship him or even hope of that being the true answer. It’s just that to me, if god does exist, especially the Christian God, it would be the most logical explanations of why things happen. Because god wants them to. Imagine putting the characteristic of God from the Old Testament into a person. He would be self-righteous, vengeful, impulsive, and oppressive just for starters. If we can imagine a person fitting that description, why not imagine a god.

    My interest in this topic is not for the purpose of converting anyone. I am not even sure of what I believe. I only know that I don’t know everything. I read, I watch, I listen and everytime I come away with something more.

    Mike Skrypek

  • Mike Skrypek

    HappyNat,

    It is a sad statement. I would find it much easier to believe in Jesus if he was depicted as only human. Placing the mantle of deity on him lessen the effect of the teachings and acts attributed to him. It would be so much more powerful to be able to say:

    “Look at this man, a common man, and the wonders that he has done for all others. You can be like this man. He holds no special powers other than the capacity to love and care.”

    But instead they say Jesus was able to do it because he was more than man, he was God. If that is the case, what hope is there for us to become “Christ-like?” It would seem that the deck is stacked against us.

    Mike Skrypek

  • ash

    @Mike Skrypek

    i don’t agree with your views, but i admire your attempt to dialogue with those of opposing views regardless. keep on truckin’.

  • http://beatlesnumber9.com beatlesnumber9

    “naturally occurring chemicals in our brains ” is a weak argument. Your fight is with religion, not God. NO ONE can argue about God without first identifying what we mean by God. No one has explained how ‘something’ came from ‘nothing.’ I reject religion myself, with all it’s dogma, but I certainly can see a higher power in the Universe. Science will someday prove all this could not be an accident. We will (maybe) have a concrete definition of God then. Until then, your arguement is with organized relgions, which indeed have given the God idea a bad name.

  • Kim

    I’ve never understood the need for proof of God.
    It comes off as so much whining (imho). Anyway, I’ve got a book to recommend. The Language of God by Francis S. Collins (He’s the scientist heading up the Human Genome Project.).

  • Makoto Phoenix

    I think that the biggest problem with religions in general is that they forget to seek. Also, I believe that this is the same problem with many atheists.

    You have to remember WHY it is that we are theists or atheists (or agnostic, etc). We are seeking a truth for the world in which we live. Usually, an ultimate truth, and we have come to a point in religion and science that people feel that they have come “far enough”. Science has come “far enough” to disprove God, some may say. “Religion” has held far enough that it doesn’t really matter what science and atheists say anyway.

    Both are wrong. We are called to seek the truth. If you are an atheist, you are still expected to seek your own truth. Being “sure” God doesn’t exist isn’t good enough. Being “sure” God exists isn’t good enough either.

    We are seeking the truth, and I believe, while truly looking for truth in science, in faith, in the world, that we are coming closer to the same truth. Its just not exactly how we have all perceived it. I will say on the surface that the basic arguments that Christians give atheists are unconvincing. Are those the only ones out there? No, of course not. There are many arguments that point to God that no one even bothers with. Because we can’t get this stigma out of our head of clouds and golden gates. Both sides need to open their minds more. We both are wrong, but we both are right…ultimately if we both seek the truth to the greatest of our abilities, we will meet in the same place.

  • Makoto Phoenix

    I think that the biggest problem with religions in general is that they forget to seek. Also, I believe that this is the same problem with many atheists.

    You have to remember WHY it is that we are theists or atheists (or agnostic, etc). We are seeking a truth for the world in which we live. Usually, an ultimate truth, and we have come to a point in religion and science that people feel that they have come “far enough”. Science has come “far enough” to disprove God, some may say. “Religion” has held far enough that it doesn’t really matter what science and atheists say anyway.

    Both are wrong. We are called to seek the truth. If you are an atheist, you are still expected to seek your own truth. Being “sure” God doesn’t exist isn’t good enough. Being “sure” God exists isn’t good enough either. God has called us to go beyond the basics of faith and truly understand, yet most of us stop.

    “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?”

    The Corinthians were not ready for the real truth, just the basics. Most Christians are stuck on the “God loves you” phase, and forget that there is much more to it than that. There is greater truth. Foundation is essential, but if you make no progress, the truth does not either. That is for both sides, Christian and non.

    We are seeking the truth, and I believe, while truly looking for truth in science, in faith, in the world, that we are coming closer to the same truth. Its just not exactly how we have all perceived it. I will say on the surface that the basic arguments that Christians give atheists are unconvincing. Are those the only ones out there? No, of course not. There are many arguments that point to God that many never bother with. Because we can’t get this stigma out of our head of clouds and golden gates. Both sides need to open their minds more. We both are wrong, but we both are right…yet we are still scraping the surface. ultimately if we both seek the truth to the greatest of our abilities, we will meet at the center of truth. If from different sides, it is still just another way to the same place.

    My advice to you, friendly atheist, is to remember there is so much other there we don’t know yet. Don’t be a Christian or an Atheist. Be a seeker of truth. A Scientist. You are never wrong in that. The wise become prideful and sloth-like, but seekers will not fall in their pursuit for truth. The only thing I am sure of right now, is that I know almost nothing. This keeps me searching. Please, don’t stop looking.

    “Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise.”

  • Republitard McDumbass

    You heathens best repent!! Read your bible’s now so you don’t burn in hell.

  • SirKibbleX

    Makoto Phoenix, I think the problem is that many Christians are seeking not truth, but attempting to subvert it in the name of a Holy Book. Many would just love for humanity to enter a new Dark Age. This is why we are Atheists; we’ve come to believe that religious belief is not only not a good thing, but that it subverts the truth and is frequently directly harmful (9/11 is perhaps the most obvious example, but there are many, many more.)

    “There are many arguments that point to God that many never bother with.”

    I think thats what this post was an attempt to do, categorize and list every significant argument for God, and show why it’s irrational. Please, tell me some of these ‘many other arguments.’ There probably are more, but these are some of the most significant.

  • Kevin

    Why do you chose to believe in death your gone. Is that reasuring?

  • Kyle F

    There are many things in life that are not reassuring, but why does the need to be reassured against a pointless existence subvert empirical evidence? The belief that my consciousness will cease to exist at my death may not be a comfortable one, but nothing I have experienced points to an afterlife. I give value to my life through my actions because I believe actions are what define a person, as opposed to the idea of possessing an immortal soul which has intrinsic value. This value that I have because of my actions gives me reassurance that I have not lived in vain.

    My position as an atheist is based on the principles of the burden of proof and negativism. The burden of proof is sort of an ‘innocent until proven guilty’ principle, but I suppose it would be better phrased in the reverse. Nonexistence is the default position for any entity unless there is empirical evidence to the contrary. For example, the statement that I possess an invisible apple should be regarded as false because I have no evidence of such. I you could feel the shape of this apple, taste it out of thin air, or possibly smell it, it would be acceptable to believe my statement to be true because there is evidence to support it. But no sane person will accept on faith that I have an invisible apple.

    From this emerges the idea of Teapotism, a satire of Pascal’s Wager. If there were to be a teapot, floating somewhere in the far reaches of space, and to worship this teapot would provide arbitrary rewards (non-worship may or may not provide punishment, but that’s beside the point), would it not be beneficial to worship this celestial teapot? I’m sure we can all agree that the worship of this teapot would be ridiculous because there is not evidence of either the teapot or the benefits of its worship. Therefor, the decision to worship this teapot bears the burden of proof. Let me say that I see no evidence of a god, not in the formation of the universe, not in the complexity of life, not in any experience I have had thus far, and therefor I cannot believe in the existence of a higher power.

    I can imagine the existence of a higher order of being. I can conceive of a god who created the universe, the life within it, and who directs its actions. But I have yet to perceive such a thing, and that is, to me, the crux of belief. That being said, I do not believe we understand everything within the composition of our reality. This is where the principle of negativism comes into play.

    If we do not and can never know with 100% certainty the workings of our universe, how can we rule out the existence of a god? The only logical explanation is that we can’t. Our job as rational people are to form ideas about our existence and test them against what we can observe. Through such a method, it is possible to rule out competing theories until we have a perception about our reality that is as near to perfect as we can get it with the tools we possess. We must remain open to the possibility that a new idea could come along any day and completely change the way we view reality. The existence of a god does not stand in the face of competing theories, and therefor I cannot believe in one.

    It is also important to realize that gnosticism is not a dichotomy of agnostic or gnostic, but a spectrum of belief. My stance as an atheist is entirely separate from my stance on gnosticism. Personally, I lie very near to the position of gnostic, but because I am negativistic, I believe that there is always some doubt as to what we as people can know absolutely. I say very nearly because the things we think we know are based on physical evidence, and that is the only tool with which proof can be established. But there is always a window for error or misconception and I accept that as part of knowing.

    Thank you all very much for your opinions on this subject. Debate and intellectual discourse the highest forms of human interaction and everybody’s participation makes a discussion like this very meaningful. Though we may not agree with each other, I believe it is of the utmost importance that we listen and understand. Thanks again.

  • HappyNat

    Why do you chose to believe in death your gone. Is that reasuring?

    I don’t choose to believe there is no afterlife, but all the evidence we have points to this conclusion. Is everything you believe based on whether or not it is reassuring?

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Why do you chose to believe in death your gone. Is that reasuring?

    I don’t choose to believe there is no afterlife, but all the evidence we have points to this conclusion. Is everything you believe based on whether or not it is reassuring?

    Actually, there is no evidence that there is not survival by the consciousness after death. I seem to recall Gandhi pointed this out. What evidence do you see that there isn’t? I seem to recall one of the heroes here saying something about an absence of evidence not being evidence of absence too.

  • Polly

    The way I see it:
    We have evidence that the brain is the foundation of what we call “consciousness.” Once dead, that organ ceases to function – no more brainwave activity, no more brain cells metabolizing glucose, no more reception of input from the sensee, etc. Once it stops functioning, it seems a very safe bet that since it was responsible for our feelings, thoughts, et al. that all those things would cease.

    I hold out the faintest of hope that there might be survival after death, but I acknowledge that it’s pure speculation (more like wishful thinking) and I certainly wouldn’t predicate any decisions on that vanishingly small likelihood.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Polly, no one has any idea what consciousness is, what it consists of, where it is located, etc. I was just pointing out that there is no evidence that consciousness doesn’t survive death as was asserted. The assumption that we can assign a level of probability to survival of consciousness isn’t based on anything but unfounded assumptions all round.

    Betting on your hunch being true or false is kind of beside the point, who is going to collect from the other side, if it is wrong and how are you going to collect from someone from the past if it’s true?

  • Polly

    Polly, no one has any idea what consciousness is, what it consists of, where it is located, etc.

    I’m not a neuroscientist, but from what little I’ve read scientists have made progress in understanding the nature of consciousness through experiments on the brain. We know that mood, feelings, inhibition, and a host of other “mind” functions can be pinpointed (pun) in various parts of the brain. It’s my strong (non-professional) suspicion that eventually we will discover the physical basis of what we call consciousness. It may turn out to be a lot different from the way we understand it subjectively – i.e. a whole lot of perceptions being synthesized into a single experience by some part of the brain. I dunno.
    I’m taking a look at some books written by Susan Blackmore on this topic. I haven’t really read anything much, yet.
    Recommendations?

    Betting on your hunch being true or false is kind of beside the point

    Sure, and I also recognize that believers in a fundie god will never know they were wrong ;) My main point is that though there’s no evidence that consciousness doesn’t survive, whatever evidence we do have seems to strongly indicate that brain death = the end. The “bet” is just my way of saying that this is ultimately my subjective opinion based on what I have to go on since no one can know for sure…yet.

  • Mike Skrypek

    Why do you chose to believe in death your gone. Is that reasuring?

    If you were assured that in death you are gone, would you live your life differently?

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Polly, I believe that Susan Blackmore has made some noise about consciousness not existing, the old 50s line. Neuroscience hasn’t made any headway into the consciousness riddle. Not even coming up with a definition that is adequate, at least that I’ve been able to find. And believe me, I’ve looked. Unless they can come up with an adequate definition of what consciousness is they won’t have any idea of what they’re looking at.

    You might want to check out Blackmore who is pretty much a phony. Look at what her doctoral research consisted of and ask if it would stand even the James Randi level of debunking, nevermind real research critique. There’s a lot less to her than meets the eye.

  • FromUpNorth

    Kevin said,

    October 22, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Why do you chose to believe in death your gone. Is that reasuring?

    Why do you believe that believing or not believing something is a matter of choice?

    Here’s a little thought experiment: Take something that you believe. Then, for the next 24 hours, choose not to believe it. When the experiment is over, tell us how it went.

  • Kyle F

    All this name dropping really takes away from this discussion. By dropping names and assuring everybody that ‘you’ve done your homework,’ it seeks to devalue the comments made by others. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. Given that privilege, you must back up your opinion with rationality, not an allusion to some neuroscientist or critic of said scientist. I have an idea of what consciousness is and where it is located, but it is entirely possible that my understanding of consciousness is very different from your’s.

    As a side note, the Schroedinger’s Cat justification of belief in an afterlife is total bunk. The principle that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence is a flimsy defense at best. I prefer to live my life based on principles proved in the positive, that is to say I choose to believe in things that are proved to be existent and thus not to believe in things yet to be proved nonexistent.

  • Polly

    @olvlzl, no ism, no ist,

    I will take a close a look at her cred’s. Danke.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Kyle F. Since I was the one who alluded to the absence of evidence line (which is clearly beyond dispute) it should be pointed out that I didn’t make an assertion about survival of death, I was just pointing out that there is no evidence that consciousness is extinguished at death. That was directly in response to an assertion made by Happy Nat at 7:28 AM. Well, there isn’t any evidence of the kind he said there is. Considering the discussion, that’s a rather important point.

    I prefer to live my life based on principles proved in the positive, that is to say I choose to believe in things that are proved to be existent and thus not to believe in things yet to be proved nonexistent.

    I wasn’t attempting to prove something but said that there is no evidence of what Happy Nat asserted there is.

    I don’t choose to believe there is no afterlife, but all the evidence we have points to this conclusion.

    I don’t think there is any way to answer the question of survival after death with the methods of proof we have. I don’t think there is any way to prove anything about the supernatural since all the methods of proof we have are explicitly made to deal with the physical universe and can’t address such questions. So, you see, I wasn’t trying to assert a proof or even a position except about Happy Nat’s claim of what “all the evidence we have points to”. We don’t have any evidence.

    Since I ask whenever an assertion such as the one I quote above is made, please give a positive proof that that the separation of church and state is a good thing. I firmly believe it is but I’ve yet to find someone who can prove it in the way you require. I fully intend to not go without it while you are trying. You might want to consider what other unprovable things you are going to have to do without to satisfy your ideal of positive proof.

  • ash

    @Polly

    general overview on modern neurological theories summarised into one book – Steven Pinker – how the mind works

    one day, i shall go back to reading purely for pleasure…

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    ash, it’s always interesting how a discussion of what neurobiology shows about consciousness and other such questions so often get round to Pinker who is famous for not seeming to know much about neurobiology. I seem to recall he pooh-poohs all those neurons and other physical structures of the brain, those aren’t for him, he’s a mind man, not a brain man. I believe he says pretty much this in the book you mention.

    I’m still holding my breath waiting for how he and the other evolutionary psychology ideologues deal with epigenetics and the idea that the expression of genetic inheritance is deeply effected by the experience of the individual. And that those effects can be passed on to offspring over generations. Now that Nova has done epigenetics it’s going to have a major impact on the pop-science culture. Evolutionary psychology has always been pretty shaky, with all those stories made up for the occasion and the wild assumptions of the kind that prevent the social sciences from being science. Now they’ve got to deal with a level of genetic complication that will only add to the unliklihood that they’re on to something.

    But he’s still got his hair. Assuming it’s all his.

  • ash

    olvlzl, i was particularly careful with my wording (general, theories + summarised), and at the point i’ve so far crawled to in said book he has mentioned several times that these are just theories that he’s gathered from several sources and tried to present in a coherent manner. i’m not arguing that they’re correct and final and, so far, neither has he. fascinating stuff tho.

    hair? met him, didn’t look like a wig. did look like he’s never been friends with a comb tho.

  • Kyle F.

    olvlzl,

    I don’t think you received the point I was trying to make in quite the way I intended it. I choose to believe in the existence of an entity if its existence is supported through positive proof. Since there exist states that operate separately from the church as well as states who integrate the church, I don’t see how a rationalization of one over another applies. Both exist. Supporting one system over another is subjective, based entirely on an individual’s opinions. Positive proof of existence is concrete.

    I agree with you wholeheartedly that the governing of a nation should be completely secular. But this is my personal opinion and you will be hard pressed to find empirical evidence to support it. I suppose that you could ask citizens living under differing forms of government if they felt happy, free, or any other number of subjective variables. You could also examine a nation’s economy, literacy rate, average IQ, or thousands of other quantifiers. But these variables are all subjective to your definition of what makes a society ‘good’ and their connection to a theocratic or secular government is questionable.

    If you absolutely demand a proof that a secular state is best, here are the logical steps I took to come to that conclusion. A) God belief is irrational because there is no evidence of a higher power. B) Even if there does exist a supernatural realm, government is concerned with the operation of the natural. C) The decisions concerning the wellbeing of a nation should be made using our powers of reason. D) Therefor, states should be separate from the church because A nor B satisfies C. Does that please you?

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Kyle F. As long as you are talking about beliefs and what you believe instead of assertions that those things believed, either by atheists or religious belivers, I’ve got no problems with it. It’s when what is believed is asserted as being truth that the problems start. This includes the beliefs surrounding materialism, which are not known but are habitually asserted as if they are known. That’s what gets up my nose. That and the condescension that comes with that attitude. Having read widely among religious thinkers, many of them reason at the highest possible level and some practice a very high level of honesty and integrity.

    I do have to point out that for most of what we deal with the kind of proof you demand isn’t and likely will never be available. The level of material people actual require for acceptance of an idea or belief is almost always short of what is needed to produce proof. That includes those who assert that only empirical evidence producing proof is the only acceptable standard. It’s simply not borne out in practice.

    ash, I’ve seen him too. Having had very unruly hair myself for longer than Pinker has been alive, I can tell when someone is enhancing the effect for sartorial purposes.

  • Polly

    @ash,

    I was going to ask about Pinker. I picked up a used copy of “the Lanugage Instinct” for a buck ($1 US)! Thanks for the recommendation.

  • Matthew the Evangelist

    The average atheist, has not sufficiently though through these arguments at all, but has simply found an insufficient way to ignore them.

    My response to the 21 points:

    1) The first part is true but the next part isn’t. The fulfilment of prophecy can be used to show that the God of the Bible is true. If it can be shown that the words of the prophets were written hundreds of years before the fulfilment of the prophecy, and fulfilled in such a way as to be remarkable, then the book contains evidence that should be examined. Seeking to show that Jesus Christ is a real person who supernaturally fulfilled prophecy is not circular reasoning but is seeking to give true evidence.

    2) Again the testing of prophecy can show whether there is something more than hearsay. Each person is required to seek their own personal revelation of God, yet another person’s experience can be examined. If a person claims that they have experienced a miracle then that claim should be tested for its trustworthiness.

    3) I have a personal testimony that God exists. Arguments that immediately deny such testimony are extremely shallow.

    4) This is mixing science with speculation. Each person’s experience would have to be examined for its own merit. People’s faith in God is not due to uncontrolled chemicals.

    5) It is false to conclude that you would have no way to verify if it was God or just a hallucination.

    6) http://www.aglimpseofeternity.com contains a compelling example of a verifiable resurrection from the dead. Check it out by listening to the story yourself. You can make up your own mind as to the truth of the story, but you cannot deny the fact that thousands upon thousands of people have repented of their sins and put their faith in God through such claimed events as after death experiences.

    7) If man is a spiritual being, then not only does he have a soul but he also has a spirit. While the mind can be affected by disease, his spirit cannot and therefore his thinking would naturally return. Fear of death can be a real experience and while a wish of an afterlife is not proof of an afterlife, it is certainly wise to be prepared for an afterlife.

    8) The concept of punishment for sin is a real possibility that should not be so easily ignored. If God is true then the atheist should acknowledge that he is on his way to hell. A religion would have to be true for its hell to be true. Our need is to find the true God and in that way you will escape the true hell.

    9) By saying this atheists are avoiding a true statement. Christians have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Atheists have nothing to gain and everything to lose. This is a true statement which should challenge their belief system.

    10) The existence of the universe points us to God. Can the atheist really be assured in his own heart that he has honesty examined everything that has been provided to him for finding God? Maybe there is a spiritual blockage which is stopping him from having discernment. The atheist should question whether his heart is hardened in a state of unbelief due to his own sin and denial of sin.

    11) The temporal nature of life can lead people to seek for higher things. Being so preoccupied with the things of this world can cloud out spiritual things. Being aware of the end of the world is not a scare tactic but a reality. Your time is short.

    12) If God does exist then the atheist has definitely wasted his life. What the atheist thought was great meaning will turn out to be his own condemnation. Faith in God definitely gives greater meaning to life. If an atheist examined his own life: thinking about what living with faith in God compared to living without faith in God could mean, if he carefully thought through all the options and scenarios, he should be able to see that at the end of the day faith in God gives more meaning.

    13) Jesus Christ was a physical person who walked this earth to manifest God. God demonstrates Himself by certain types of actions. Discerning the hand of God may be difficult for an atheist, but not for those who are spiritual in tune. Love is an attribute of God and God’s love can be experienced.

    14) Atheists claim that there are no moral absolutes, yet Christians claim that there are moral absolutes because of God’s intrinsic goodness. A belief in moral absolutes is far better than a denial of such.

    15) Evolution abounds with speculation and mythical theories.

    16) We need to acknowledge that we do have a free will and that we are responsible for our actions. Then we can acknowledge that there will be a Day of Judgment.

    17) I wouldn’t bother with this kind of argument.

    18) To look at whether Jesus was God, you would have to look more thoroughly at the evidence to see if the proposition was reasonable or not. Those who propose that Jesus was a fictional character ignore basic facts.

    19) The atheist has not thought this through sufficiently to find answers to his own questions.

    20) This atheist has a big imagination.

    21) Here we see another example of poor reasoning, a constant denial of God due to atheistic presuppositions, proclaiming the wonders of chance, and a total lack of thorough investigation.

    Atheists constantly fail to impress me. They are always unsuccessful in their attempts to show that God doesn’t exist. If this atheist thinks he has given Christians reasons not to use such arguments, he has totally failed, except with the arguments he mentioned which weren’t worth mentioning (such as number 17 and a couple of others I wouldn’t want to overly push). Overall this atheist has proven the general state of atheists: They don’t examine theistic arguments sufficiently. They look for an easy way out and they don’t pursue many obvious answers. This atheist was definitely not an honest seeker of truth. Atheism is intellectually weak if this is the kind of message atheists pass around with each other. I would take up numbers 19-21 in more detail, but the problem is that atheists think they have already sufficient thought them through. Therefore they don’t want to believe in God.

  • an Ex-Christian

    you keep saying things like “this atheist’s arguments are shallow,”"atheists are obviously wrong,”"here we have another example of poor reasoning”etc. The trouble is, your story doesn’t hold water. Atheists are not people with “hearts hardened in a state of unbelief.” Most of us are open-minded and because of this we are ready to receive the Lord the instant you provide one, just one incontestable proof of His existence.

  • Bruce

    an Ex-Christian said,

    November 20, 2007 at 10:25 am

    you keep saying things like “this atheist’s arguments are shallow,””atheists are obviously wrong,””here we have another example of poor reasoning”etc. The trouble is, your story doesn’t hold water. Atheists are not people with “hearts hardened in a state of unbelief.” Most of us are open-minded and because of this we are ready to receive the Lord the instant you provide one, just one incontestable proof of His existence.

    There are several books written about proof of Gods existance. However, it is almost futile to convince an atheist to consider this evidence. There are several reasons why – Pride, a need for excuses (an alternative, easier approach), over-reasoning (this one reminds me of my puppy chasing after its own tail) and such. For every reason given to an atheist, he turns it around, distorts it and uses it to futher his/her already re-determined agenda. I used to be an atheist once, but not anymore.

    Receiving the Lord is really all about having a personal relationship with Him. Nothing anyone can give you. It’s something you need to work out on your own. And I can quite understand sketicism and doubt, however when taken to great lengths it ends up being ridiculous, and completely throws reason out the window.

    A word of advice to the proponents of “reason”, please be reasonable.

  • an Ex-Christian

    Bruce, read carefully: I said ‘incontestable proof’( incontestable means that atheists could not refute it even if they wanted to). As for our need for- as you put it- an easier approach, to my mind trying to find out the truth is alot more difficult than having faith.

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  • http://www.indiancomedian.com Tapan Trivedi

    Does energy exist ?

    Tapan

  • http://www.christianoutreachcentre.net Glenn Khan

    I am in the process of reading “I sold my soul on ebay” as a church pastor I have found it very thought provoking! I do have some thoughts on some of the comments Hemant has made, which I will place on the web once I have finished the book.

    I would like to ask this question though: Hement would I be correct in saying you are a skeptic but not an Atheist? I ask this question based on the statement made about Atheist’s in Wikipedia which says:

    “Atheism, as a philosophical view, is the position that either affirms the nonexistence of gods or rejects theism.”

    As you are willing to change your mind if proof is given, are you contradicting yourself by saying ‘there is no God’? The reason I say this is that by saying you might change your mind you are in fact stating that there might be evidence that there is a God!

    Would it not be wiser for you to say “at this time with the evidence i have so far discovered there may be no God but if new evidence comes to light then I will state there is a God.” So at this time you would be a Skeptic but not a Atheist.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Glenn — Thanks for the comment. I don’t mind the label skeptic, though I *would* call myself an atheist. I do not believe in god(s). And yes, I would be willing to change my mind if I saw evidence otherwise. I think most atheists would admit the same thing. I think by saying that, it’s not because I think that evidence is out there, but if there’s something I may have missed or have not experienced, I’m willing to hear you out on it. (Does that make sense?)

    The confusion might come with the definition of atheist. As far as I’ve ever known, it means someone who “does not believe in a god.” It does *not* mean someone who says “there is definitely no god.”

    I say the former, not the latter.

    Hope that clears things up.

    – Hemant

  • Metacrock

    typical atheist refusal to undersand thigns. Come debate me

  • Swede

    20 steps of proving there is no God, all of them were super naive

  • http://www.offensivechristian.com/blog Offensive Christian

    Wow,

    I think I used some of those in my last post..Hmm, Do all atheists hold to these truths? And if there is no free will why are we even discussing this stuff. I’m a Christian and he’s an atheist, we can’t will ourselves to change and if we did what impact would it have?

    OC
    http://www.offensivechristians.com/blog

  • Dhruv Karunakaran

    I think that Issac Asimov found a way to define altruism and Morality by the four laws of robotics:
    “0. A Robot must not hurt humanity or allow humanity to come to harm.
    1. A robot must not hurt a human or allow a human to come to harm unless 0.
    2. A robot must follow orders unless it contradicts with 1 and 0.
    3. Robot Must protect exsistence unless 2,1,0″+-

    Apart from 2, I think these are good general morality codes to live by, although 1 may ben undefinable.

  • Crimzen

    I can’t believe the ignorance with which mathew the evangelist answered with, i dont have alot of time at the moment to rebuttle all of that nonsense but i’ll just say when you state things like, for example “A belief in moral absolutes is far better than a denial of such.” you really have to back yourself up with SOME kind of evidence to support, i mean, WHY is is that better? and since when has christianity had a set of absolute morals? the old testament and the new testament are vastly different. Each christian has there own moral regardless of what the bible says, like the author of those 21 arguments said “Christians reject some of the moral laws found in the Bible, such as killing disobedient children or people who work on the sabbath. Therefore, Christians must be applying their own ethical standards from outside the Bible to be able to recognize that these commandments in the Bible are unethical.”
    I ask you, do you support such extremes?

  • http://nonsenseiscommon.blogspot.com DFox

    #1 holy books
    The author’s right. “Just because something is written down does not make it true”. If any writer wants their work to be taken seriously, he has to establish its validity through a logical argument by offering some kind of proof and more importantly by offering the reader a means of verifying that proof. Without this how can God (Allah) possible expect humans (who’s most distinguishing feature from other animals is their logic) to follow him.

    More specifically I want to just deal with this one line, since most everything else you have proposed has already been refuted.

    (who’s most distinguishing feature from other animals is their logic)

    This sounds like it comes from someone with a serious entitlement complex and also someone who is unfamiliar with animal behavior in general. To say such a thing as animals are incapable of logic is pretty ridiculous. Sure all animals have certain instincts but also a lot of animal behavior is based on things that they have learned. How else do you learn something except with logic?
    If I am a rabbit and I was grazing with another rabbit and a wolf came and ate him as I ran away, I know to stay away from that area because there are wolves. Why do I know? It’s logic, I’m not sure that all animals have the brain capacity for it but I can certainly think of several examples of those that do.

  • Marty

    one of my favorites is the Euthyphro

  • Kevin Slazas

    Dude, just a couple of quick points here-
    Nobody needs to prove God. To ask a human to prove God is to ask a fender washer to prove a Cadillac.
    God reveals himself as he pleases, but certainly he has done so through the majesty of our natural world. I am no anthropologist, but I cannot think of any civilization that does not ascribe to some type of creator-deity. Obviously this point doesn’t attempt to prove god, only to mention that it is universally human to think about God. You apparently think about god alot.
    Second, I think scientific inquiry does a lousy job of disproving Him. It seems the more we learn about the world around us, the more we realize its complexity and obvious organization point to some type of author. As a simplistic example of this; I can remember that in grade school it was thought that it would require 2.5 to 3 billion years to accomplish the work of evolution at that time. 35 years later our knowledge of biological processes has increased and guess what? Greater complexity has doubled the bake time! Science is not friendly to atheism right now.
    It seems to me that it takes greater faith (and effort) to disbelieve in the existence of God.

  • Richard Wade

    Hi Kevin,
    You bring up some important points but you seem to be under some misconceptions:

    Nobody needs to prove God. To ask a human to prove God is to ask a fender washer to prove a Cadillac.

    Apparently many Christians seem to have this need, since this is a list of arguments that Christians continuously use to try to “prove God” to non-believers. You’re right, nobody needs to do it and these attempts don’t work anyway. So please mention your analogy to the theists you know so we won’t have to keep hearing them.

    You apparently think about god alot.

    If by “You” you mean we atheists, that is only because we are up to our chins in religious intrusions into our private lives, our laws, our public schools and our scientific institutions, and we’re sick of it. If people weren’t constantly trying to insinuate their various gods into our bedrooms, our classrooms, our courtrooms, our doctor’s offices and our laboratories we wouldn’t have to think about gods at all. We could spend more time fixing real social, environmental, medical and economic problems.

    Second, I think scientific inquiry does a lousy job of disproving Him.

    Scientific inquiry is not trying to disprove any gods. I never heard of any scientific inquiry trying such a silly thing. This is the perennial lie of a few fundamentalists who want to discredit all science because some of it contradicts their ancient, obsolete ideas about the world.

    It seems the more we learn about the world around us, the more we realize its complexity and obvious organization point to some type of author.

    That is your interpretation of complexity. Complexity is only relative to a person’s ability to comprehend it. The control panel of a 747 is bewilderingly complex to the average person, but to a trained pilot it is familiar and simple. There is nothing about complexity that logically demands that a mind must have created it.

    As a simplistic example of this; I can remember that in grade school it was thought that it would require 2.5 to 3 billion years to accomplish the work of evolution at that time. 35 years later our knowledge of biological processes has increased and guess what? Greater complexity has doubled the bake time! Science is not friendly to atheism right now.

    Yes, it is a simplistic example. Using a misconception thrown about sloppily 35 years ago to build an argument about how science is on the wrong track now is absurd. If you are getting these ideas about “greater complexity” from the likes of creationist websites then you are being misled and you are not engaged in an honest effort to come to know what you are talking about. You’re listening only to people who will reassure what you already believe. That is not an education, that is just more indoctrination.

    It seems to me that it takes greater faith (and effort) to disbelieve in the existence of God.

    This is another misconception about most of the people here. Very few atheists “disbelieve” in god. That would mean they actively believe there is no god. The vast majority of atheists simply have no belief in god. They don’t spend time believing things for which there is no evidence. As you said, it can’t be proven or disproven. So they simply abstain from belief. It is difficult for believers to understand that a person can be free of belief, that they are not busy filling in a contradictory belief in place of another one. No belief in gods does not mean belief in no gods. It doesn’t involve faith since faith requires assuming the truth of something in the absence of evidence. As for effort, yes it does take effort to learn and educate yourself rather than just copying and pasting somebody else’s catch phrases like the one above.

    Kevin, it is really a good thing to express your skepticism about things, and I hope you continue to do so. Just use an approach that is honestly curious and open to understanding why others see things as they do, and don’t pretend to know more about a subject than you really do. You won’t have to end up agreeing with them but at least you will have been genuinely trying to find out correct information.

  • Apaq

    It is always interesting to read threads like this, and a bit frustrating too, because of the lack of agreement. It is tough enough to convince a spouse that you really did leave the toilet seat down, that I really wonder at any attempt by anyone to try and convince anyone of anything more complicated like belief in God, let alone something that is often far removed from it, like religion.

    I happen to have grown up an atheist. Not the mealy-mouthed semi-agnostic form, but the fire-breathing anti-God variety. I have always disliked evangelization and still do. It is intrusive, offensive, and often perpetrated by people who have no idea what they are talking about. It is so easy to argue with evangelists, that it takes all the fun out of the effort.

    Despite this, I am no longer an atheist, nor even an agnostic. Not because anyone convinced me of anything. No arguments were made, no books read on the subject, no influence whatsoever was applied. What happened was I started making observations of things that were incompatible with scientific orthodoxy.

    And that’s the short version. I’m not into evangelism, as I said, so I am not interested in trying to convince anyone of anything. I am pointing out only that, when you lack any personal first hand knowledge of a subject, and this is true of almost every believer AND non-believer on the planet, your argument is bound to be so weak that it only invites argument and dissension. It is clear on this board that both sides of the issue are passionate, and equally ill-informed.

    The proof is that none of the arguments proferred so far are the result of first-hand direct observation or investigation. Instead, they are the by-product of other observations, most of which are logic extrapolations instead of actual facts. The 21 points, true or false, are reasonable arguing points to use against (primarily) Christians, but they are also easy fodder for the other side. Because most of the folks on the other end will use logic based arguments from the Bible or K’oran, they too will lack the ring of truth to the atheists on the board.

    In the end, you will believe or you won’t, and if you are smart, it will be because you saw something and understood what it was, not because someone talked you into it.

    AP

  • Richard Wade

    Hi Apaq, your story is interesting and I would like to hear a bit more detail. You left some points ambiguous. For instance if you are “no longer an atheist nor even an agnostic,” does that mean that you now believe in a god or gods, and/or does that mean that you now adhere to a particular religion? You speak of first hand direct observations that you made…..of what? You said that these observations were of “things that were incompatible with scientific orthodoxy.” What orthodoxy is that?

    You portray yourself as having a very special knowledge that most people, both believer and non-believer lack. Your description of how you were when you were a a “fire breathing anti-God” atheist carries a similar tone of superiority to other atheists. Now, you might actually be superior to both the “mealy-mouthed semi-agnostic atheists” you mentioned, as well as the “ill informed” believers you also dismiss, but of course such a claim of having this superior, special, first hand and direct knowledge is subject to a request for confirmation.

    You say that you are not into evangelism and not interested in trying to convince anyone of anything, and I’m glad of that because it would seem that if you were, at least from the tone of your comment the only thing you would be trying to convince us of would be your own advanced state of spiritual/intellectual/experiential development.

    Still, I am open to learning from others’ experiences. Could you please tell us more about your very unique experience and what sounds to be the resultant broader, deeper and more correct viewpoint that you have?

  • Cathy

    On (9) Pascal’s Wager. As a philosophy major, this argument always pisses me off because it is one of the weakest arguments in the history of philosophy. Pascal makes huge assumptions from the start. He assumes that if there is a god, there is a heaven and hell, and that God would send believers to heaven and nonbelievers to hell, and sets up his wager without considering any other options, such as everyone goes to heaven regardless (a belief that was present at the time Pascal made up the argument), there is a god, but no heaven or hell (this belief is seen in some very old jewish groups), there is a god, a heaven, and a hell, but god punishes believers and rewards nonbelievers (okay, so no one likes this one, but it would still be an option). Since Pascal gives no argument at all as to why he eliminates all of these choices, while claiming to cover all possibilities, it is a crap argument. This is the flaw in the argument, not the one mentioned above, because Pascal claims his wager holds so long as the negatives of belief and the positives of nonbelief are finite in any scenario. Also, since Pascal considers the threat of an inifinite punishment more of a reason for belief than the threat of a finite punishment, his wager is more in line with 8.

  • Apaq

    To Mr. Wade:

    It is interesting you’ve interpreted my comments as you have, though I shouldn’t be surprised because it certainly is at least one set of logical inferences that may be drawn from what I wrote, though incorrect in a couple important places.

    As I wrote, evangelism doesn’t interest me, so any conjecture on what form evangelism by me might take is pointless. I have a hard time imagining the scenario you describe, so can only say I think you are mistaken.

    I do believe in God (singular, not sure if capitalisation is required, but…might as well, in lieu of a name), but do not follow any single religion completely. I am probably most sympathetic to Judaism, and least sympathetic to Christianity. There are aspects of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam that I don’t have any complaints about, and on this basis, think it is probable I would find at least some elements of other religions compatible with my beliefs as well.

    As for what my experiences are, and the beliefs based on them, I would rather not be drawn into becoming an evangelist against my will, and suspect that might happen if I answer. The reason is that, whenever a person has stated something to me that I thought was wrong, my instinct is to immediately explain why. His reaction, an instinctive one, I have no doubt, is to present justification for his position. The next thing you know, a debate is underway. I’d rather not start something like that here because the end result would be something like evangelism, on both sides.

    My comments are meant for an entirely different purpose. The nature of the subject makes it nearly impossible for either side to convince the other of anything, so I am surprised at the passion that goes into the it at times. I shouldn’t be, given the awesome magnitude of this particular subject. If you only look at the moral component of religion as it relates to claims of God, and the impact universal agreement would have, it is easy to see the value of agreement. The problem is that accomplishing it requires information that is ordinarily unavailable.

    It would be easy for you to believe a statement regarding a commonplace, well-understood activity, like the number of backgammon games I might have played in 1988, particularly if the number was uncontroversial. Not a billion games, but maybe 25 “or so”. It could be a totally false statement, and in this case I think it is, but there is no way I could prove it to you either way, nor do I have a way to find out for myself. On the other hand, if it were true, I couldn’t prove that either, for the same reason.

    The difference between that and an experience related to observations that might lead one to conclude God must exist, is that for someone else to believe it, that person should have some kind of corollary experience to lend credibility to the claim. You know what backgammon is, and have an idea how long it takes to play a game, so the hypothetical given above, regardless of its truth, at least isn’t inconsistent with your own experience, even if you know nothing of me, you do know something about board games and can use that to evaluate the claim.

    When I was an atheist, I was always disgusted with agnostics, because it seemed to me they were hedging their bets. They were atheists as far as I was concerned, but wouldn’t admit it for fear of releasing a brass ring connected to Heaven, and that made them timid to an objectionable degree. Now, I understand they have a quandary; with no reliable first hand experience to lend credibility to what they’ve read, heard, or been taught about God, they wonder how they can commit themselves to something they don’t actually believe in. Despite this, they also don’t have anything on the other side of the argument to convince them God doesn’t exist either. So, I understand the dilemma now, but still consider them to be atheists.

    If it were money, the state of having no money would be the equivalent to being agnostic, at least in the mind of the agnostics I know. This is because they aren’t in debt (antagonistic to belief in God), nor do they have money (have a belief in God), and that would make them truly neutral. I don’t think it is a neutral issue though. In this case, it’s more like a light switch. It is either on or it is off. It doesn’t matter why it is in one state or the other, and there is no intermediate step. It doesn’t even matter which state you assign to belief or non-belief.

    For fun, and this is only for fun, though true, I will mention that the famous atheist The Amazing Randi does know who I am (or at least, he did at one time), because of a mutual friend of ours who is a physicist and who contacted him about me some years ago. The upshot of the interchange was this: Randi told my friend that as a professional scientist, he had been hoodwinked somehow by me, but my friend, being more fully aware of the facts of the matter (because he experienced them directly), knew it was impossible. As for me, I was no more interested then than I am now in convincing anyone of anything, it just so happened that my friend was present when a certain event took place, and my friend was the first to spot the meaning of it, because I had no way of knowing what he already knew on his end. The experience I am mysteriously alluding to is a very minor one, and not something I would base a belief in God upon, but it did challenge my physicist friend’s knowledge of science (scientific orthodoxy) enough, that he made comment on it to a colleague and then tried to get me to participate in a bunch of experiments (I declined because, as I wrote before, I’m not interested).

  • Apaq

    I hate to add more after already making a long post, so far without replies, but wanted to tie off the other things I’ve read so far in this thread, including my own posts.

    The title of the thread, “21 unconvincing arguments for God” completely misses the point. The point is that there are no convincing arguments for God at all. The reason is that without a personal experience that leads one to believe that God exists, no argument posited by anyone else will have any credibility.

    If God revealed himself to any atheist on this board, no matter how die-hard that person’s atheism is, that person would be a believer in an instant. If that person then tried to convince someone else that God was real on the basis of his experience, his tale would not be credible regardless of its truth. If he was a bit crafty, he might try other ways to convince his friends that his experience was real, but no argument he could possibly come up with would be persuasive to someone without an experience of a similar kind.

    A different path would be, for instance, a scientist is working on some project when he suddenly realizes, based on his observations, that his environment includes what appears to be all the signature characteristics of conscious direction. This might lead him (or her) to conclude that it is possible for God to exist, and then after more research, to decide that God does exist. That scientist might feel he is on better footing to make an argument in favor of the existence of God than the person with a mystical experience, but all of his evidence, while tantalizing, is circumstantial. There is nothing to say that just because a DNA sequence always results in a certain biological architecture that it couldn’t have happened ramdomly or spontaneously, regardless of how nearly impossible it seems. Unless and until it can conclusively be proven to be impossible, any person he tries to persuade will always have an alternate that, for lack of proof on either side, is at least as credible to him as the argument for God.

    Where this becomes a problem is when people come to form these very different opinions on this subject and discover that their world views are consequently so incompatible that it affects many aspects of their lives. If God is real, and the words of prophets are to be trusted (speaking only of the generally accepted prophets, guys like L. Ron Hubbard and Brigham Young, though probably on equal footing with Moses as far as some atheists are concerned, have only persuaded a small percentage of the world’s population of theists and will be ignored) then there is such a thing as an absolute moral authority. If true, then to live in concert with that authority would require many changes, changes that many people don’t want to make.

    On the other end of the spectrum, If there is no God, then the world really is an all or nothing gamble, and moral imperatives are only of use so long as they are aligned with other goals such as survival, success, and personal pleasure. These two different world views are one of the major reasons why some people make an effort to convince others that theirs is the right one, yet it is not likely to succeed. Anyone who is convinced purely on the basis of an argument, without personal experience to back it up, cannot ever be truly persuaded because there is always the next argument.

    This is why it seems to me that cross-pollination of ideas on this subject, while interesting to an extent, will always fail to persuade either side of anything. Like swimming, this requires first-hand personal experience because, even if you think you believe something, until you compare that conviction with how you feel after you know for sure how a matter stands, the difference between hearing a confession and witnessing a crime, you can’t ever be sure.

    AP

  • Claire

    Apaq said,

    I hate to add more after already making a long post, so far without replies,

    This is a very old thread, and posts on old threads don’t often get seen, so that’s probably the reason for no replies.

    The title of the thread, “21 unconvincing arguments for God” completely misses the point. The point is that there are no convincing arguments for God at all.

    Actually, the point is more that we are just really tired of hearing these, not that any valid arguments exist.

    If God revealed himself to any atheist on this board, no matter how die-hard that person’s atheism is, that person would be a believer in an instant.

    Not necessarily. A person could decide it was a hallucination or other manifestation of illness (or injury to the brain). Furthermore, proof of a god’s existence might lead an individual to belief in a factual sense, but not to worship – that’s another possibility.

    If God is real, and the words of prophets are to be trusted (parenthetical remarks omitted by me) then there is such a thing as an absolute moral authority.

    Again, not necessarily. Even if he were real, the god of the old testament (or the koran, for that matter) is about as fit to be a ‘moral authority’ as Charles Manson.

    This is why it seems to me that cross-pollination of ideas on this subject, while interesting to an extent, will always fail to persuade either side of anything.

    Again, that wasn’t really the point. The point is that these arguments are old, tired, and discredited, and we would really like it if christians quit trotting them out like a small child with a new toy.

    The experience I am mysteriously alluding to is a very minor one,

    I really don’t care what it was, but your attempt to ‘minimize’ it and lengthy references to it seem more like an attempt to drum up interest, and a not very subtle one at that.

  • Apaq

    Claire,

    I really am not trying to drum up interest in anything here. In fact, quite the opposite. The reason is that I know that there is nothing you could read, no fact that could be presented, nothing that anyone could write, that would have any weight with you or anyone else on this board for the reasons given earlier. What might be interesting though, is an acknowledgement that the atheist end of the argument comes from lack of information, just as the theistic one sometimes does as well.

    At the risk of being somewhat critical, I think that your responses betray some sloppiness in the way you’ve read my post. For instance, when I write, “If God is real, and the words of prophets are to be trusted …” you’ve clearly missed the qualifier “…and the words of prophets are to be trusted…” in your haste to give your fairly common comparison of God to Charles Manson.

    You do this again in reaction to the following, “If God revealed himself to any atheist on this board, no matter how die-hard that person’s atheism is, that person would be a believer in an instant. ” You respond from a point of view that presumes you would have the ability, after such an experience, to deny it. Because you think it is impossible to begin with, that alone is enough to explain your naivete, but it is also expressive of your haste to be clever without taking into account that in the hypothetical given, the idea is to accept the hypothetical and all it represents. That would mean also accepting that a revelation of that type would be all that any beleiver would expect it to be, and this you surely can imagine or know from your own encounters with non-atheists.

    And my point, which you seem to have missed, is that at the same time as it is likely not possible to prove God’s existence by argument alone, it is not possible to prove he doesn’t exist either. In other words, nothing said on this board could ever be considered a credible argument that God doesn’t exist either. Therefore, the only persons you could hope to convince are those who already agree, or those who don’t understand your argument.

  • Claire

    Apaq said:

    What might be interesting though, is an acknowledgement that the atheist end of the argument comes from lack of information

    That’s lack of evidence, not information. It’s a whole different concept, and it’s legitimate.

    “If God revealed himself to any atheist on this board, no matter how die-hard that person’s atheism is, that person would be a believer in an instant. ” You respond from a point of view that presumes you would have the ability, after such an experience, to deny it.

    Why not? It’s called free will, and it allows people to do all kinds of things. Please note, however, that I did not say ‘deny’, that was your word, and it’s a loaded one. Christians use it all the time to imply that atheists really do believe but are just too stubborn to admit it, and it’s annoying.

    I said that a person could think it was a hallucination, that it wasn’t real – that’s not denying that something happened, just explaining it differently. Perhaps you should be reading more closely.

    At the risk of being somewhat critical, I think that your responses betray some sloppiness in the way you’ve read my post. For instance, when I write, “If God is real, and the words of prophets are to be trusted …” you’ve clearly missed the qualifier “…and the words of prophets are to be trusted…” in your haste to give your fairly common comparison of God to Charles Manson.

    On the contrary, I did see that, and for that reason I specified ‘the god of the old testament’, meaning specifically the god presented by the prophets. If he isn’t that god, then it doesn’t apply. For someone who accuses others of sloppiness, you certainly aren’t very careful in your reading.

    That would mean also accepting that a revelation of that type would be all that any beleiver would expect it to be

    Except that you weren’t talking about a revelation to a believer, but a revelation to an atheist. That’s hardly the same, and I assure you, I have no expectations.

    And my point, which you seem to have missed,

    I got that it was your point, what you don’t get is that it isn’t the point. The point of this list at the top is that these are worn-out arguments. If you have a different point, fine, but don’t insist that everyone else is missing the point just because it’s not your point. You don’t get to define the point of someone else’s writings.

  • Apaq

    The funny thing here is that before any question of God comes up, it is impossible to even define the framework of conversation. If God appears, no one could deny it, period, regardless of their former state of disavowal, you included. Your free will would be entirely subordinate to your knowledge, and unless you were in the mood to be perverse at such a moment by intentionally falsifying your experience (a thing I doubt would even be possible), your suggested course of action could not take place.

    The God of the T’orah is in no way comparable to Charles Manson or any person like him, and your deployment of such a ludicrous example does less to forward your disapproval of God than it shows how little you know of the T’orah. This is just one of the reasons that disbelievers come across as not only arrogant, but academically quite stunted as well.

    In fact, it is interesting to note the level of scholarship that goes into religious studies by even the commonest of church attendees. T’orah, Bible, and Islamic studies are part of the atmosphere of being a believer in any of the faiths that study those books, and it is almost impossible to avoid learning a great deal from them. Whether it is learned well or not, the subject is often attacked more seriously by day laborers than I’ve seen Phd credentialed scientists go after their work.

    Back to the original list for a moment: An argument is not the sort of thing from which belief in God naturally springs. This is because of the lack of a common frame of reference. A contributing factor is a lack of knowledge on at least one, if not both, sides of the issue. The list of arguments betrays a simplistic notion of what they are, though the conclusion is largely correct. The issue here is not whether an atheist could ever be convinced, but what would it take to convince an atheist? Is it possible that the only person who could ever win over an atheist is the atheist himself? Maybe everyone else is just a support group for when it happens.

  • Claire

    Apaq said:

    Your free will would be entirely subordinate to your knowledge, and unless you were in the mood to be perverse at such a moment by intentionally falsifying your experience (a thing I doubt would even be possible)

    Have you met people? Seriously? It’s seldom even a matter of concious choice, it’s more of a defense mechanism. The people who refuse to believe their spouses are cheating on them, no matter how much evidence, the parents who refuse to believe that their little darling could do a bad thing, ditto the evidence, the people who believe this country can do no wrong, despite mountains of evidence… You can’t be that ignorant of human nature, so I’m thinking it’s you who are being perverse.

    The God of the T’orah is in no way comparable to Charles Manson or any person like him, and your deployment of such a ludicrous example does less to forward your disapproval of God than it shows how little you know of the T’orah. This is just one of the reasons that disbelievers come across as not only arrogant, but academically quite stunted as well.

    Wow, are you in for a shock. You apparently have no idea who atheists are and where they come from…. The sheer amount and depth of biblical knowledge of many of the people who regularly post here is amazing, as many of them are former believers with a lifetime of bible study behind them. There was an earlier post asking what books people had read that inclined them toward atheism. The number one book? The bible. They read it for what it was, and they no longer believe. It’s not everyone’s story (and it’s not mine), but it’s a lot of them. Feel free to engage them on an active thread rather than this old one, they will mop the floor with you.

    I can’t go chapter and verse with you, but that’s not really germane. If you don’t know why it doesn’t matter, go look up the courtier’s reply.

    There was also a post asking what we would do if it was proved to us that the god of the evangelicals was real. There were even some believers that said they would think twice about continuing to worship.

    Whatever traumatized you into religion, it doesn’t necessary follow that everyone else would do what you did. Some people have higher standards.

  • Apaq

    The spouse example, and the political example too, for that matter, don’t make any sense here. I appreciate that you believe they do, and even that your sarcastic but irrelevant remarks might be germane and witty, but the orders of magnitude difference between a bona fide encounter with God and the things you describe is so huge that there would be no possibility of denial. Your humility in that situation would already be too great to allow any continuation of ignorance, for any reason.

    If you think that the presence on this board of people who have studied the Bible is a justification for any argument that God and Manson are in some way equivalents, then their understanding of the Bible is weak, though in this case I suspect you didn’t check with any scholars before writing what you did, but did so without thought, in the interest of writing something that would come across as rude to believers and charming to non-believers. You score points with your friends and offend those who you don’t really consider to be all that worthy of your respect anyway. In this case, though it is an odious comparison, it is also so naive that it is hard to be offended because it is clear you have no idea what you’ve written.

    You think it makes sense, perhaps, because you look at the T’orah as a long series of descriptions of violence ordered by God against various people, without regard for the context, where it is the unrighteous who are punished for their unrighteousness, as opposed to random Hollywood socialites who are viciously butchered by a small group of demented sadists. You may archly observe that in the Biblical examples it is not always clear who is in the right, but then that is only because you think your human intelligence is greater than God’s (because you don’t believe in God anyway, you are actually comparing your intelligence to God’s representatives on earth, those people deluded enough to believe in him), and that there is no authority over your reason, which trumps all contenders. This is a fallacious position to take, however common it may be among atheists.

    You may have heard the American expression that, “95% of everything is junk”. The meaning of this is clear enough that I expect it requires no explanation, but to put it in context, I think of it in relation to your claim of all the former believers on this board. If they were believers in the first place, they could not ever become non-beleivers. They may be people who grew up in a church and never really understood anything their religion was based on. This is a common syndrome that sprouts from the many inconsistencies to be found in most (possibly all) churches. This is also why I do not think that argument is going to truly or completely convince anyone in a matter such as this.

    When you have, as the Christians do, a Bible that has clearly been tampered with over the centuries, so much so that there are multiple versions of it extant, it becomes very difficult to support the claim that it is inerrant and perfect. Any person who noticed this and whose basis for “belief” was exclusively rooted in the Bible itself and studies related to it, could not help but either leave his church or beliefs behind. What is important to note is that his beliefs are not belief in God, but in a book. The Christians are not alone here. Jewish people have the T’orah, which may well have been preserved more or less in its original state, but the Talmud, rabbinically written interpretation of the T’orah, allows a wide variety of interpretations, and cripples the T’orah in much the same way that the Bible’s many variants result in problems for Christians. I don’t know much about the K’oran, so cannot comment on it, but wouldn’t be surprised if a similar circumstance were present there as well.

    This is why, for true belief to take hold, it must also have some personal experience or supportive observations to back it up. Without them, there is no basis for belief, and all the Bible-reading in the world won’t be enough. It may suffice for a time in the absence of anything else, but without real-world personal observation and experience, its value is greatly reduced. Unfortunately for many people, their entire belief system is without foundation, which makes them easy prey for atheistic argument. That is where argument comes in, but by arguing against the senseless devotion to a book, an argument that is easy to follow by the way, the result is not a loss of belief in God. It is a loss of belief in the book. God is not a book or a religion. To confuse one with the other is another common fallacy, so common indeed, that it is easy to see how people on this board could mistake one for the other.

    It is uncomfortable to be told baldly that one is in error, and in this case, much as I am certain you believe the opposite to be true, the discomfort is the natural consequence of this fact. It is, I presume that much more irritating that no proof has been forthcoming from my end, but as I’ve already written, that is not where belief will originate anyway. It will come from your own experience, not a post from someone on the Internet.

    I just reread your post and noticed something else I wanted to comment on, primarily because it is a mistake, and didn’t want to allow the impression it was correct by not responding. No trauma was involved, I assure you.

  • http://heathendad.blogspot.com/ HappyNat

    If they were believers in the first place, they could not ever become non-beleivers.

    So how many people who currently describe themselves as believers aren’t really believers? If I converted to a brand of theism would you say I was never really a non-believer?

  • Jason

    “…the orders of magnitude difference between a bona fide encounter with God and the things you describe is so huge that there would be no possibility of denial.”

    I suppose you are proving your own earlier point with this remark, Apaq. You are clearly referencing your own personal revelation, but as you have noted, such does not count as real evidence to anyone else. Your own encounter may have been such an undeniable experience, but that in no way proves to us that it was not a delusion, or that it is representative of all godly encounters.

    “If you think that the presence on this board of people who have studied the Bible is a justification for any argument that God and Manson are in some way equivalents, then their understanding of the Bible is weak…”

    This is one of the most irritating things you can say to an unbeliever who really has actually read a bible. Despite your best efforts to play the impartial moderator, you just stated that if our interpretation of the bible is not as positive as yours, it MUST be that WE lack understanding. Not that I fault you for feeling that way – we each believe we are right and those who disagree with us are wrong, or else we wouldn’t hold the views we do – it just doesn’t help your case.

    “Is it possible that the only person who could ever win over an atheist is the atheist himself?”

    Now that certainly is true. The same applies to the theist. Regardless of your beliefs on the issue, what you believe makes perfect sense to you. Even young earth creationists are convinced that it makes perfect logical sense that the whole of existence was poofed into being in just under a week (nevermind why a being capable of poofing things into existence would need a week to do it). Books, blogs and personal experiences help provide the data, but it is left to each of us to processes it ourselves.

    However, I can’t say I agree with your statement that one’s belief or disbelief in god can’t be changed by discussion – that each side is only preaching to the choir, as it were. Granted, it is unlikely that a 5-minute conversion speech will cause a polar shift in anyone’s opinions (especially with the fundamentalist-types), but seeing a collection of arguments from both sides can really turn the tides in one’s thinking over time. It certainly did with me.

  • Apaq

    “I suppose you are proving your own earlier point with this remark, Apaq. You are clearly referencing your own personal revelation, “

    I’m not, actually. I use the term “bona-fide” in the hypothetical sense. So, assuming for the sake of conversation that there is such a thing as a genuine experience of this type, I am saying it would be irrisistible.

    “If you think that the presence on this board of people who have studied the Bible is a justification for any argument that God and Manson are in some way equivalents, then their understanding of the Bible is weak…”

    This is one of the most irritating things you can say to an unbeliever who really has actually read a bible.

    It may be irritating, but I think it is true, nevertheless. I’ve heard a number of statements like it, and when I was younger, made statements like it myself. On every occasion where I had an opportunity to determine the justification for the statement, it came down to the same thing: there is violence described in the Bible, including violence directed by God, and therefore God is the equivalent of Manson or Hitler. What makes a comparison of that type not only overly simplistic, but completely wrong as well, is that it is clearly designed as a means of comparing characters from history who are known primarily as homicidal maniacs with God, who is not described as anything approaching being a maniac of any kind. The purpose of the comparison is to be shocking and offensive, but its naivete and pure commonness rob it of its power.

    What it comes down to is that some people have arrived at the conclusion that God, as described in the T’orah, is cruel because he punishes people for unrighteousness and tests the righteousness of others in ways that do appear to be well beyond the normal limits of what any human could expect to endure. Regardless of the fact that severe punishment is exacted, or that tests are also described as severe as well, it is not without motivation, senseless, or symptomatic of dysfunctional mentation. Strictness on its own is not dementia, but the comparison with Manson is clearly designed to evoke equality by that measure. This is not an appropriate comparison. Failure to understand that cannot come from a position of great knowledge, regardless of how many hours may have been spent with ones eyes focused on the fine print of a Bible.

    Despite your best efforts to play the impartial moderator, you just stated that if our interpretation of the bible is not as positive as yours, it MUST be that WE lack understanding.

    First, my belief in God is not related to the Bible, or any other “holy book”, just to be clear. What I am saying is that if you interpret God, as described in the T’orah or later sections of the Old Testament, as an inherently evil personality that can be compared fairly with the likes of Charles Manson, then you are equating violence with unmotivated violence. This is the difference between a surgeon who amputates a gangrenous leg, and a psychotic killer like Dr. John Singleton of Florida who cut the arms off a little girl he’d just assaulted. To not recognize the difference between God and Manson is the same as not recognizing the difference between an honorable doctor and Dr. Singleton. This is not a small error, and can most easily be explained as simple perversity or lack of knowledge.

    “Is it possible that the only person who could ever win over an atheist is the atheist himself?”

    (nevermind why a being capable of poofing things into existence would need a week to do it).

    And never mind whether any inferior being could comprehend the answer, or the question…

    but seeing a collection of arguments from both sides can really turn the tides in one’s thinking over time. It certainly did with me.

    Examples of this type of thing are not uncommon, but what they accomplish can be transitory if they are not fused with actual experience . Therefore, a person can feel quite convinced of one position or the other on the basis of an argument or series of them over many years, but the effect of such things will always bow in deference to the thing itself, if it is ever presented to the person in question. So, barring any sort of unarguable, irresistable proof, there will always be some amount of uncertainty that may be exploited by the other side of the argument, regardless which side you are on at the moment.

    This means that, if God is real (and I have no doubt on this point), then every person who doesn’t believe this is mistaken, regardless whether they’ve ever been presented with any form of undeniable proof. For those who have been presented with some form of unassailable proof, that due to its nature can only be conveyed by anecdote, it will naturally be considered unreliable, even if coming from a person of impeccable character, honesty, and intelligence. This means that some people do have inferior information at their disposal in comparison to others. This is not to demean people in this position, but simply to state that, if a thing is true, regardless of what it is, but you haven’t seen the proof of it and consequently do not beleive it, a person who has seen the proof and consequently does believe it, has superior information to you. The person who possesses this information may be wholly inferior to the one who does not by any number of measures save this one, where, for whatever reason, he knows something, or has seen something, that the other has not.

    That may be irritating to read, but how can you argue otherwise? If, in an airtight hypothetical environment, you accept that one person has certain knowledge of a thing and another does not, on that one point alone, he has superior knowledge, regardless of any other factor. To continue with the example, if the certain knowledge is derived from an event so rare that it is almost never witnessed and cannot reliably expected to recur, no matter how much the person in an inferior position might wish it to be otherwise, he may never be enlightened on the issue.

    In that situation, the person with knowledge cannot be expected to discard or discount it, simply because very few people besides himself have access to it, nor can he expect anyone to accept his description of the event at face value, or accept his word on the basis of his reputation. Therefore, while reading and conversation can to an extent prepare a person for thoughts on spiritual matters, they can never be truly conclusive without solid experience. This is why, even when a person has gone a long way towards “belief”, without experience, he or she will never quite arrive at that destination.

  • Jason

    “That may be irritating to read, but how can you argue otherwise?”

    Using your hypothetical situation, yes, the person who knows the truth is correct and can’t be expected to change their mind. In reality, however, the question of whether or not the supernatural exists is up for debate, and human minds are hardly infallible. No matter how convincing your unique, personal experience was to you, it cannot be touted as a fact. You may very well have been in the presence of the one true god of the universe, but in the end you cannot responsibly claim to others that it was real if there was no way to confirm it. People have hallucinations and conversations with people who aren’t there all the time – there is no denying that someone could have a powerful, life-altering vision of god as the result of insanity. Or, perhaps when one connects with the all-pervading life force of the universe, the human mind naturally personifies it as a sentient being. Either way, the result is caused by the brain playing tricks on us. That is precisely why #2 & #3 are on the list.

    Now, there is nothing wrong with you personally taking your own experience as absolute, irrefutable truth. However, the second you try to pass it off as such to others you are being dishonest, because if your experience was the result of some temporary psychotic episode, you couldn’t be expected to realize it. By all means trust your own senses and intuition, but you must acknowledge that, per your hypothetical scenario, god really may not exist and all experiences to the contrary are either misunderstandings or delusions. If there truly isn’t a god, there is no grand vision of No-God, no ultimate experience that will help us realize that there dieties don’t exist. I could agree with you that a theist can’t truly “believe” without some firsthand experience to back it up, but for the atheist a lack of experience with the divine is perfectly sufficient to support their beliefs.

  • Apaq

    Here sir, is the uncomfortable rub: when asked, what is Mr. I’ve had a genuine experience to do? What of Mr. I’m deluding myself but can’t tell the difference? Or Mr. I’m hallucinating? In all three cases the named individual has no choice but to answer honestly, regardless of whether his answer is correct. And the party on the other side should not be offended or even surprised to receive the answer to his question, even if he considers the answer to be incredible.

    This is why conversations between people who believe in God and those who do not cannot be expected to bear good fruit, at least when the subject is why one should or should not believe. I have written earlier that I am not even remotely interested in convincing anyone of my own beliefs, or of making any attempt on anyone to change theirs, and I stand by that. This is why I stated in my first post that it is as pointless for a Christian to try and convince on atheist of the error of his convictions, as it is for an atheist to try and convince a Christion/Jew/Muslim/etc, to drop theirs.

    The end result then, is that atheists may congratulate each other on their good sense on this board, and believers may do likewise on theirs. But when both entertain the notion of any meaningful dialogue on this subject, it can’t work. It’s like an occasion I had today, when a student had mismeasured a femur bone. Instead of standing there talking about the measurements, I went up to my office, opened a cabinet, and produced the article itself for him to use as a reference. In the situation here, there is no femur to produce, so we may as well stand on the stairs for thousands of years without ever convincing the other who had the most accurate notion of its dimensions.

    That is all I meant to say.

  • Claire

    Apaq said,

    This is just one of the reasons that disbelievers come across as not only arrogant

    Your humility in that situation would already be too great to allow any continuation of ignorance, for any reason.

    First we’re arrogant, then we’re too humble to have any free will. Why do you think you can have it both ways? Perhaps you don’t really, you simply take great pleasure from the thought of those arrogant atheists being somehow humbled. Enjoy it in your head, that’s the only place it will happen.

    It is, I presume that much more irritating that no proof has been forthcoming from my end

    You persist in thinking that’s something everyone is panting to hear, but really, we’re not. I certainly never asked for any details. I find tales of people’s ‘revelations’ boring in the extreme.

    If you think that the presence on this board of people who have studied the Bible is a justification for any argument that God and Manson are in some way equivalents

    You really do have a problem with reading comprehension, don’t you? It was not intended as a defense of that, it was just letting you know that you’re in the kiddie pool here. If you want to engage those who really know scripture, it’s not here on this old thread. And yet, you’re still here and not there…. afraid of the big kids at the deep end?

    That may be irritating to read, but how can you argue otherwise? If, in an airtight hypothetical environment, you accept that one person has certain knowledge of a thing and another does not, on that one point alone, he has superior knowledge, regardless of any other factor.

    Only if you accept that the person with the ‘certain knowledge’ is infallible. No one is infallible, not even you.

    In this case, though it is an odious comparison, it is also so naive that it is hard to be offended because it is clear you have no idea what you’ve written.

    Bull. I know exactly what I wrote, but clearly it wasn’t simple enough for you. Let me put it more plainly: the god of the old testament is psychotic, sadistic, twisted, and evil, and in no way worthy of worship. Also, for some reason, he is intimidated by iron chariots…. Still, that god is loathsome, and that anyone would want anything to do with him just shows people’s sad and regrettable tendency to suck up to the powerful. Especially if they are dangerous.

    You don’t have to a scriptural scholar to see that, any more than the child who pointed out the emperor has no clothes needed to be a tailor in order evaluate the emperor’s ‘clothing’.

    What I am saying is that if you interpret God, as described in the T’orah or later sections of the Old Testament, as an inherently evil personality that can be compared fairly with the likes of Charles Manson, then you are equating violence with unmotivated violence. This is the difference between a surgeon who amputates a gangrenous leg, and a psychotic killer like Dr. John Singleton of Florida who cut the arms off a little girl he’d just assaulted.

    The most accurate metaphor I have found for the dynamic of some people’s relationships with ‘god’ is that of an abusive relationship, whether spousal or parental. The more bad things that happen, the more they defend the abuser and how it isn’t really abuse, it was necessary and deserved. And look, here you are, defending the abuser, saying it wasn’t abuse, it was necessary. That’s just sick.

    If they were believers in the first place, they could not ever become non-beleivers.

    That is the stupidest thing so far, and sadly, not even very original. Unless, of course, you ARE god and can see into their hearts? But I’m betting you’re just a small person so afraid of the possibility that faith can be lost or outgrown that you simply deny it can ever happen. It can, and it does. Sorry for the uncomfortable truth, but I’m sure you will just deny it for your own peace of mind and go on your merry way. Feel free to do so.

  • Jason

    Apaq, I think we’re approaching some common ground.

    In the cases of Mr. Deluding Myself, Mr. Hallucinating and even Mr. Genuine Experience, I would say the most honest thing to do is discuss their experiences in the most accurate way possible – by saying things like “this is what happened TO ME,” “this practice worked FOR ME,” or “this is what God told ME,” as opposed to “this is how it works” or “this is what God wants.” There will certainly still be scoffers and believers alike, but since the individual who had the revelation can’t objectively say if what they experienced was real or not, speaking of that experience in personal terms is the most resonable option. It’s like saying “this is what MY dream was like,” versus “this is what ALL dreams are like.” I only know what I personally experience in my dreams, so it would be irresponsible for me to tell others what their dreams should be like. That doesn’t mean I can’t talk about them, only that I shouldn’t overly generalize something I can’t be sure of.

    A good way to sum up the points on the original list of poor arguments would be to suggest that theists not make claims or speak with certainty about things they simply can’t back up. In forums such as these, however, they may share their own experiences or discuss what they *THINK* might be the truth about god & the universe, and while they may not gain instant true believers, it may encourage others to go out and try to have their own religious experience. I would ask no less of atheists – make all the personal judgments you want, but avoid making sweeping claims about existence that can’t be verified or aren’t supported by evidence.

    I’m sure the Theism/Atheism debate will be over the same day the whole country agrees on whether Democrats or Republicans are better. Still, if causing someone to take a harder look at their own beliefs is all we can hope to accomplish with these arguments, I would not consider it a pointless endeavor.

  • Apaq

    Re: the last two posts:

    Claire: too emotional

    Jason: We have indeed found common ground, and I agree with your conclusion. Belief, and those things that make us believe, can be far more interesting than what the belief itself is. There are many things people believe in, like the lunar landing ( I do believe this happened as reported btw), and yet very few have first hand experience that would qualify as evidence. Even a more recent topic, like the popular slogan, “Bush lied, kids died”, the same people saw the same speech and come to two totally opposite opinions, not of what was meant, but what they actually heard. Why?

    A person doesn’t have to be stupid, blind, psychotic, or in any other way disturbed or deficient to arrive at a belief that is different from someone else’s. It comes down to the cumulative effect of our experiences.

    And last, thanks Jason, it was a pleasure chatting.

    AP

  • Jason

    Likewise, Apaq.

  • Sia-Rose

    Here’s some things I believe:
    1. I believe that God created everything, including free will and free thought. So people are free to believe what they like. I don’t believe people will be punished after death simply for using something they were given.
    2. I don’t think there’s a way to prove or disprove God, I just think there being a God is more likely than not.

    Sorry I haven’t presented any arguments for God, but the point I’m trying to make is…..any argument on the subject (this goes for both sides) of God can be countered by a different one.

  • Awesomesauce

    Here’s some things I believe:
    1. I believe that God created everything, including free will and free thought. So people are free to believe what they like. I don’t believe people will be punished after death simply for using something they were given.
    2. I don’t think there’s a way to prove or disprove God, I just think there being a God is more likely than not.

    Sorry I haven’t presented any arguments for God, but the point I’m trying to make is…..any argument on the subject (this goes for both sides) of God can be countered by a different one.

    So you’re an Agnostic theist. You seem like you would go to a Unitarian church based on your veiwpoint. I bet you don’t though as you were probably raised in some variation of Christianity.

    Did I guess right?

  • http://www.commonsense.com Ian

    This is a question to “a Muslim”,

    I only skimmed your post, (i am meant to be doing as level revision, which i will do once my mind has been put to rest!)but one of the things that i gather from it is that you are trying to increase the credibility of the Qu’ran (or however it is being spelled today) by stating the facts that are inside it.

    This does lend the book some kind of credibility, but in no way does it then suggest that the entire book must be true as well, for example, Harry Potter. in Harry Potter, there are facts, such as the fact that there are “PEOPLE” in the world, and that there are railway stations, but this does not also prove that their are wizards in another world that can be accessed by platform 9 and 3/4, and in no way does this prove that people can morph into animals, or that there is an Azkaban somewhere guarded by soul eating Dementors.

    In addition the earth is NOT egg shaped, the Earth is also not spherical as you stated, but it is indeed slightly fatter at the equator, giving it an almost ellipsoid shape, but in no way do the poles converge into rounded points, as can be proved by going into space and looking a earth, or doing simple topology.

    Oh, this is an edit: i have jus read a bit more of another post, and honestly, this maths rubbish is getting out of hand, just like the bible code

    “The number of times the word day mentioned in the Quran is 365, the word month is mentioned 12 times. All of these things together certainly show the Quran is by all means unique.”

    That is what you said, and don’t you think that it is perfectly feasible that someone just did this a while ago fo a laugh and to show their friends, not knowing that they would create a whole religion? Someone just decided that they would put day in 365 times, to show that this could be believable to the next gullible person?

    Anyway, if the Qu’ran was so perfect, it should have the word day in it 365.26 times… OK, that is a bit silly and don’t judge my thoughts solely upon this silly comment, but its funny (to me, anyway…)

    I hope you understand what I am trying to say, and i am keen to hear your rebuttle!

    • mariam0078

      The Qur’an is written as ‘ostrich egg’ shaped, which is geospherical. Research the Qur’an (chapter 79, verse 30), its written there. And there are many many other scientific stuff written in the Qur’an, which is ALL precisely discovered by scientists later, such as sun and moon each having their own orbits. Dont forget the Qur’an was written 1400 years back. And by the way Islam supports all fully tried-and-tested experiments, whether they are mentioned in the Qur’an or not. So Islam and proven science go hand in hand.

      The problem with us today is that not many people read the Qur’an properly and understand the meaning. Even atheists who have studied the Qur’an get shaken by the verses meaning, and some also convert to become Muslim. Atleast you support some of the Qur’an’s teachings Please do go ahead and read the rest of it and learn more about Islam, I promise it will change your life.

  • http://www.sentforlife.com/ Dave

    I agree that it is very difficult if not impossible to ‘prove’ the existance of a God in terms that would be acceptable scientifically.

    However, we often send people to their deaths (at least in the US) based just on the testimony of one single person, so why is not the testimony of so many not good enough?

    Anyway, I had a question for all atheists – if the Christ or some other Avatar returned to the world today. what would it take for him to convince you that he is was an Avatar and that God (in some form) does exist? What if you heard his voice in your head without him actually speaking aloud? Would that be good enough?

    Please read more on what our God(s) and Avatars are really like at http://www.sentforlife.com/worldorg.htm .

  • Peter

    #

    Tao Jones said,

    September 25, 2007 at 1:37 am

    But most religious people acknowledge that there are probably thousands, if not millions, of other planets in the universe. (Our own solar system has eight planets.) Therefore, by chance, at least one of those planets will have conditions that will produce some kind of life.

    I guess Berkshire is one of those guys who believes in one less planet too.

    Pluto has been demoted and is now classified as a dwarf planet. Balance of planets proper is 8.

    I could add another false dichotomy are the 500 witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. By the same evidence Elvis is still alive. The false dichotomy there is that so many people must either be lying or Jesus must’ve have really risen. A third possibility is that hundreds of people on grief were honest, but deluded.

  • Valerie

    I picked my religion based primarily on being fairly agnostic on the whole “God or no-God” question. Oh and anthropologically speaking religion doesn’t always equal a belief in God or Gods. Some people who follow Hinduism, Buddhism, Wicca, Scientology, and even Unitarian Universalism can be considered Atheists because within these religions one can believe or not believe in a “creator God” as they see fit. There are other examples but these should suffice.

    On the other hand his example on #13 “God is Intangible, Like Love” is flawed by the mear fact that people who have had lobotomies get married and do the actions of love everyday within their marriage. Sure I agree ‘Love is not intangible” as I define love both in the ‘doing’ of actions of being in a relationship, and even (as a scientist) in the obvious observable chemical reactions involving seratonin and whatnot.

    But love doesn’t depend upon brain structure, sure the majority of those with lobotomies say they struggle with love, but his argument doesn’t account for people like Howard Dully http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/16/arts/16lobo.html or others I have meet who have been lobotomized and yet love. I’m not for lobotomies but it seems that some can still feel after it has been done, and that in itself is a small miracle (though personally I’d say more to do with the persons will rather than having to do with if God exists or not).

  • Awesomesauce

    Anyway, I had a question for all atheists – if the Christ or some other Avatar returned to the world today. what would it take for him to convince you that he is was an Avatar and that God (in some form) does exist? What if you heard his voice in your head without him actually speaking aloud? Would that be good enough?

    Something like that would be neat. If you could show us one of these avatars and he/she/it could prove (or even give ANY evidence) that a god exists, that would be great for your credibility.

    Keep in mind that a definition of this god would be nice. If you can define it, that helps to us know when you’ve really found it.

  • http://www.sentforlife.com/ Dave

    Something like that would be neat. If you could show us one of these avatars and he/she/it could prove (or even give ANY evidence) that a god exists, that would be great for your credibility

    Again this talk about ‘proof’! Basically you are saying that if you heard an avatar’s voice in your head, that is not good enough for you. You don’t really believe your own senses. You want some ‘concrete’ proof?

    Many people have heard the voice of God. All atheist are willing to send people to their deaths on the basis of witnesses, but they chose not to trust those you who that they have heard the voice.

    Maybe someday soon you will hear the voice too. Unfortunately for you, you may not believe your own sense and will continue wait for some ‘proof’

  • Awesomesauce

    Again this talk about ‘proof’! Basically you are saying that if you heard an avatar’s voice in your head, that is not good enough for you. You don’t really believe your own senses.

    Odd, I don’t remember ever saying that.

    You want some ‘concrete’ proof?

    Yes, I’d even settle for evidence. Do you have any?

    Many people have heard the voice of God.

    How do they know it was a god? How do they know which god it is? I have so many questions for them.

    All atheist are willing to send people to their deaths on the basis of witnesses, but they chose not to trust those you who that they have heard the voice.

    It seems as though you’re referring to the death penalty. You dug your argument a cozy grave when you said all atheists are willing to send people to their deaths over testimony.

    First off, many atheists do not support “sending people to their deaths.” Second, there would have to be more than witnesses for something that serious to happen.

    There has to be some evidence or “proof” in order for somebody to be sentenced to such punishment. Saying that all it takes is testimony shows a lack of understanding.

    Are you saying that somehow the specific god you believe in is exempt from such scrutiny?

    Maybe someday soon you will hear the voice too. Unfortunately for you, you may not believe your own sense and will continue wait for some ‘proof’

    I will humor you and imagine this scenario. Suppose I hear a voice in my head. Now what?

  • http://www.sentforlife.com/ Dave

    Odd, I don’t remember ever saying that.Yes, I’d even settle for evidence. Do you have any?

    Proof and evidence are basically the same thing. I doubt if there will EVER be any evidence or ‘proof’. It is against the law. If there was ‘proof’ then all intelligent, rational persons would be forced to be believers – that would infringe on their free will – which is never permitted.

    How do they know it was a god? How do they know which god it is? I have so many questions for them.

    It is true you do not know that it is THE god. But it definitely something ‘supernatural’. Whether you are convinced it is god or something else, depends on what the voice says and what kind of person you are. You can ask the voice whatever you want.

    All atheist are willing to send people to their deaths on the basis of witnesses —It seems as though you’re referring to the death penalty.

    Maybe I should have said most atheists. Consider a place like China which has the most atheists in the world.

    Suppose I hear a voice in my head. Now what?

    You obviously have not heard this voice. But as I said there hundreds maybe thousands over centuries who have, those are the witnesses/testimonies that you need to count and consider. And again, with any luck, you may someday be one of them.

  • Awesomesauce

    Dave,

    You certainly have a fascinating perspective.

  • http://www.sentforlife.com/ Dave

    Mr Awesome,

    My perspective is not so unique. If you keep an open mind you will see a lot of it around. The problem is that the minds of atheists are pretty closed, just like fundamentalist Christians. They are all looking for some irrefutable ‘proof’ which will never be available. Such a proof would negate the Divine Law that guarantees human free will. That is just not allowed.

    If the existence of God was so unquestionably evident then people would not be free to choose between good and evil. They would be too afraid to choose to do any evil (which includes things like all the lies at the recent RNC). Even cold-hearted persons like Dick Cheney would have to take Jesus’s injunction to ‘Love your enemies’ seriously. (The book of horrors which is the Old Testament was probably written by the Devil, if there is such a person, so don’t quote to me from that).

    The only way the existence of God can be known is by personal experience. You can become a believer either by your own experience or by accepting the testimony of others who have had such an experience. Most nonbelievers are not spiritually developed enough to have an experience of their own (with rare exceptions like when Saul became Paul). Atheists are so clever and superior that they believe that all those hundreds who have had such an experience are either liars or delusional – this is really the height of arrogance.

    Like I said before, perhaps someday you will hear a voice in your head. If you are lucky you may see a vision also. However, you may die of fright, because according to all atheists, you will be going crazy.

    To find out how someone experienced god with all his senses, read Yogananda’s autobiography. To get a glimpse of the nature of god and answers to favorite atheists’ questions like why there is suffering, what happens after death, go to my website http://www.sentforlife.com . I have invited many atheists to go through the material on the site and challenge me on the contents (on the basis of logic – no ‘proof’ is offered), but no one has taken the bait so far.

    • Comment Guy

      Clearly religious, and butthurt from the article.

    • Kill Ignorace

      I would just like to say that your generalization of who atheists are about as close-minded as Fundamentalist Christians. I am an open atheist and have encountered 100s of others, none of them ever being close-minded to religion. We don’t have a religion, we just don’t believe in a god with no evidence, and we are definitely not all arrogant liars. Seems to me the delusional people are the ones hearing voices, that’s called schizophrenia. Or it’s a release of certain neurotransmitters in the brain and combination of images/voices in your head. Also, atheists have been around for thousands of years and most of them have morals because we believe in living a good, happy life. It is the ONLY one we believe we have and we’d like to enjoy it. My morals include making yourself happy and the ones you love happy without infringing on the rights of others. God who I believe in the New Testament alone killed 300,000 people and ordered the killing of millions, does not sound like a moral guy to me. If you are going to post on an atheist website you may want to be truly open-minded.

  • Awesomesauce

    I believe I will do so merely on the fact that you called me “Mr. Awesome.” That made me smile.

    One quick tip though, you’re likely to get more visitors if you do away with the generalizations you seem to have about atheists. There seldom exists a group about which you can use the phrase “according to all,” and get away with it.

  • http://www.howarddully.com Howard Dully

    wow all this energy used and NO ONE will know for sure until they die….

    No cure for birth or death RELAX and enjoy the interval…

    Howard Dully
    The lobotomized guy that feels LOVE

  • http://www.usreview.org us review

    Men always ask this question about what is it that will help them get the right women. There are some important steps that every man must keep in mind before he approaches a woman. These steps will not only him be successful but also help him attract women.All relationships go over bumps in the road.

  • Michael Green

    Thank you August Berkshire (Cool name!)

  • Vinci Raposo

    What a lot of complicated crap. All humans need to do, of necessity, is learn to keep it simple. To do that is really the easiest thing to do: keep oneself focused on what really needs to be done to make a better world, by starting with oneself. Make one’s life an example of ethical living, as best as one can. For the sake of ethical living. Because we are all humans, a type, a species. The question of God will answer itself automatically.

  • PDXLady

    There is a paper from the 1960s by a geophysical fluid dynamicist which examines the roles of planet size, geochemical cycling, and distance from the sun. The author found that Venus and Mars, if they were differently sized, might have been much more habitable; the Earth’s distance from the sun could have been much different and still supported life. Even in our own solar system, we’re less special than we’d like to believe. I’ll post the citation if I can remember it.

  • Dave

    Hi PDXLady,

    Actually, there is reason to believe that Venus and Mars are already inhabited even in the condition they are in now. You may want to take a look at http://www.ufocoverup.org to see why NASA’s probes have not found any life on these planets yet.

  • http://twitter.com/AtheistJohnny Johnny

    PDF link (http://friendlyatheist.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/09/21_Unconvincing_Arguments_for_God.pdf) is no longer functional. Any chance of resurrecting that?

  • KammeO

    God is HOW – Free Will allows You to choose what… 

  • 1JesusSavesUs

    For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
    2 Timothy 4:3, 4 NIV

    • Vladof

      So, your refutation is that “god knew that people wouldn’t believe of his existence in the future, and since people currently do not believe in his assistance, he must be in existence as such a proposition proves he can indeed see into the future”? No offense, but that is horrible justification for your belief in a deity. I could create a controversial video about atheism and say at the end that “people will dislike this video”, and, as people dislike the video, I can say “ha, I told you! What I said must have been true for I am capable of predicting that others would not like what I said”.

      Furthermore, this attempt at justifying a deity standalone is mediocre at best. Even if people were to view this as true, there still is no proof of the deity to begin with.

      • FollowerOfChrist

        Quite frankly, I don’t think this person was arguing with you. I think they were just reminding Christians of a bible verse that seemed relevant.

  • yodiggity

    Umm… these 21 rebuttals sound like me when I was 17. I’ve grown past these now. Next…

    • FollowerOfChrist

      I’m glad you have “grown past these.” However the ad hominem present in your implication adds nothing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alimilover Allinme Slightly

    the farthest entity is human.. human and all words..all oponion they have..on earth..there are human doing various things and express various words in various language..however.. I believe in what is called karma..good deeds and bad deeds..just regards others as you want to be done to yourself..religion is a club
    an enterprise..a cooperation..we meet we share all that we have..its union.. its a ship
    a friend ship.. a social ship.
    about question of origin of creation..I believe a higher state of heart and mind could be achieve through loving each other in a peacefull and harmonious situation..
    we will experience a feeling of completeness..
    a mind with inspiration could see thing clearer.. and this condition come out our apreciation of our own existent as a small self and as a whole universe. one shall believe so..that whatever we do..we are affecting the universe at a certain degree..so here not a total ignoration..
    I suggest one read vedic explanation..
    it explain the closest to true

  • Maria

    http://www.christianpost.com/news/modern-day-miracles-51263/
    What about this miracle? It is in the modern day?