Easy Atheism?

Greta Christina, over at the other blog collective (which is starting to look better after Patheos 3.0), asks “Will Atheism Become Easier?”

I’m wondering if this struggle will be easier for the people who come into atheism after us. Or even if it will be a struggle at all. I’m wondering if they’ll look at atheism the way my friend Tim and I look at existentialism. “Sure, there’s no God, and my consciousness is a biological product of my brain, and my sense of a cohesive identity and selfhood is a somewhat illusory mental construction, and when I die I’ll just be gone forever. So what? That’s fine with me. I don’t see what the big deal is.”


Read the whole thing, because I think she spells it out very well. It’s also a good follow-up to the flap that she sparked over at Slacktiverse.

It’s interesting to look back at the history of Western atheism. For centuries, atheism was an accusation that you threw at other people. There is little evidence that anyone was actually an atheist from the collapse of Rome until maybe the 17th century. Then, slowly, people began to express doubts in private correspondence and journals. Then people started embracing streamlined religions like deism and pantheism. Then you started to see people call themselves agnostics. Then, finally, atheists.

It’s as if atheism was something we had to tip-toe up to. But now we’re here. So what’s next?

I’d like to think that Greta is right. Now that we’ve elbowed some cultural space for atheism, and shored it up with arguments and counter-apologetics, maybe atheism will soon become unremarkable.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    If we don’t have another collapse of civilization, ala Roman Empire, then I think that atheism will eventually become the new normal.

    • Custador

      In the UK, it pretty much is the default position. The creepy OTT religious types are a small minority.

    • trj

      I think Northern Europe is pretty much established atheist territory, and Southern Europe is getting there as well.

      • FO

        Problem is, most people are ashamed of calling themselves “atheists”.
        It’s like a bad word, and religion is still treated with deference rather than contempt.

        • Coffey3C

          I don’t think that this is quite correct. I’ve always been rather proud of my atheism. The reality is, that far too many theists treat my atheism as a personal attack on them. Many more react under the aegis of the absurd reasoning given to them by their Ministers, that we are of the devil: We hate god, because we prefer to just Sin incessantly.

          You can also apply the same argument to atheism in general. Ancient writings are full of it. Atheism was not spoken of for much of the last two thousand years, because of the reactions of the faithful to any thought other than blind faith in whatever they were told. Remember, there were venerated saints, wise, intelligent, and the most highly educated men of their time… who burned people at the stake for owning a bible in a language they could read.

    • HolierThanThou

      Part of the problem is that religions of all flavors seem to be trying to collapse civilization, or at least push back 800 years or so of progress.

      But to answer the OP, I think it’s going to get harder before it gets any easier. The reason that the religious right in this country is so shrill these days is because they see the writing on the wall. People just basically “getting over” the whole religious thing, people responding to religious scandal after religious scandal, people who are tired of religion being wrong time and again on common sense issues like birth control, there are a host of reasons why more and more people are wising up and leaving religion behind them. But that’s only going to rile up the rest of the religious community to be louder and more dangerous, since they perceive people who don’t subscribe to religion at all as “in league with the devil” or whatever. In the minds of fundies, they need to do whatever they have to bring us “back” into the fold of their god. Whatever they have to.

    • Jerkoff

      The comparison to existentialism is unfortunate, since existentialism has been dead for a long time.

  • Darwin

    But when atheism becomes common, we’ll have to deal with another problem. This generation of atheists sitting around and complaining about how atheists have it easy and how they had to work for it. Dibs on the porch seat.
    “Back in my day, we atheists had to hide and try and not say anything too anti religious. You whippersnappers got it all easy. Now get offa my property”

    • trj

      Some day I’ll have to build a porch, just so I can sit there in a curmudgeonly fashion, shouting at young people and complaining about stuff.

      • Noelle

        I made sure to get a house with a porch for this reason. However, the only kids on my lawn are mine.

        • Azel

          Then it stands to reason you should convince your kids to be more sociable and to invite their friends at your house. Preferably to play outside.

          • Michael

            It’s hard to convince kids to come to your house when there’s always a rude old curmudgeon sitting on the porch shouting about stuff.

            • Noelle

              I’m not old yet.

  • vasaroti

    It will become easier socially, but it will take the US a long time to winkle all the religious debris out of our legal code.

  • FO

    The only danger is having people become complacent with superstition.
    This is another very important reason to protect freedom of religion: have someone to spew inanity and challenge the lack of belief.

    • Paul

      I don’t think we have to worry about that here in the US, at least not until fundies go back to not voting, or at least not voting for religious ideals. Once another group takes their place we will be more like europe over time with less and less attention being paid to it until we forget about church except on sundays, the way god expects us to be. If I were to believe in god I would want all the praying to happen on my day off so I could ignore it entirely and then giggle during the week as people ascribe to me all the random good things that happen to them. This is second only to when a natural disaster strikes and they try to figure out who had offended me so that I brought this down upon them. And every once in a while making some barking mad idiot believe that I have a mission for him and watch how many folks line up to follow him. I would hope that I would not be the only god though, all this would need to be shared with someone else.

      • Paul

        actually the phrase “If I were to believe in god” was supposed to say “if I were god” . I started down another path but made a u turn into a whole other direction.

  • Kodie

    I read both articles before posting, and I read the comments on the Slacktiverse blog, I don’t know. I like that there are places to talk about it, but I dislike the idea that all atheists think the same thing or have the same goals, i.e., I don’t think the article was “hostile” as much as one person’s perspective. I happen to think a LOT about my atheism, and talk very little about it outside of internet fora. I recently got into a discussion with some friends, “what do you believe?” came up, and one person is a cultural Jew, one person is spiritual-but-not-religious, and two other people did not come right out and say they believed anything very seriously, so I said I was an atheist. So far, these people are still my friends. The cultural Jew said atheism was a religion, that’s why it came out and I was a little disturbed (it showed in my face and the sound of my voice that I very much wanted a chance to correct him). Another person said I was just agnostic. Then the conversation changed to another topic very quickly. I’m a little uncomfortable with how it turned, since I was outnumbered and how I defined myself, and what that means to me, was dismissed. Either it wasn’t interesting as the other woman’s dating prospects, or because I was flustered, a manipulation of the tone to a lighter and less controversial topic. I can only guess that everyone there was not familiar with atheism well enough, that I was miscategorized and the limits placed around how much I could talk about it before I turned into the stereotypical “angry atheist.” To be fair, nobody talked too much about what they believe, but everyone else’s beliefs were understood and accepted as valid. I was accused of having a religion, and “knowing for sure,” as if that were an implausible and dishonest position.

    For atheism to be easier, it has to be less misunderstood. I don’t believe necessarily in proselytizing, but there is a lot of misinformation out there, not the least of which is taught to be feared by many religions. If one has a religion that one does not question, or one lives in a culture in which many religions are accounted for as one’s personal “culture” as if it were the same as learning where someone grew up or where someone’s great-grandparents immigrated from, atheism will continue to be misunderstood. We remain without a valid platform from which to initiate discussions, to educate people what is and isn’t atheism, how atheism differs from what they’ve heard. No wonder some atheists seem pretty angry; if they are out in the open, this mischaracterization is what such an atheist has to contend with. We’re being insulted by popular opinion.

    Is it better to be atheist than religious. I’m not sure. Or, I guess it depends. At their very best, religions offer people an emotional shorthand to live life and get over difficulties (what is usually called being “spiritual,” I think). It’s not as if atheism doesn’t have that, well, we are open to ideas and what works for one personally is not an infallible method for another person. It’s not magical, it’s just what does appeal to you as a way to think about how to be a better person, live a more satisfying life, and how that works in the brain. At worst, religions force people to use their emotional shorthand version and bundle it with magical stuff and judgmental stuff, and not to wander off this, not to try anything else that might appeal better. It’s the literal beliefs, and the belief that one way is the best way for everyone that get dangerous. Atheism isn’t tied to one certain way to grasp that emotional aspect, and only denies the magical parts. It’s not really going to be easy for people to change their minds and be open to what atheism actually is and how to become an atheist if atheists aren’t allowed to talk about it, specifically, openly.

    It’s disagreeable to a lot of people to state being an atheist since so many people have wrong ideas what that means. To a lot of people, it’s just a fringe, whacko religious belief, and darned if they’re going to be open to listening to a crackpot foaming at the mouth outright asserting there’s no god when we darn well know the idea is too popular not to be at least plausible! You have to give in to the plausibility, to claim 50/50 agnosticism, middle of the road, we do not know for sure – no I will back down so as not to claim certainly that your religion does not exist, I won’t make waves, I shall not threaten you with a valid argument, or the boring life story of someone who was raised secular/atheist and has thought about this a lot in recent years, to the point of determining for myself, using the experience and research of others, to as rather completely as possible, dismiss the plausibility of a conscious all-knowing, all-powerful deity, and any other kind of deity. Sure, I have to admit, because they say so, aside from all we know, there might still be a god yet, and I’m such an asshole for knowing there isn’t.

    I don’t think it will be easier. I think people are raised to be traumatized by the very idea of going it alone, and just in case, they can freely cherry-pick what they want to get out of it, and “proselytizing” atheism, as characterized in the Slacktiverse article (which I could see no connection to the Greta Christina article), is like telling children there’s no Santa Claus, as if adults were as fragile and prone to disheartening as children, mostly because they are raised to be that way about their Santa Claus beliefs.

    I guess that’s it for now.

    • Michael

      But few people really “go it alone.” Most people—religious or secular, theist or atheist—prefer to spend their time in the company of other people. Only a very small minority of religious folk—cloistered nuns, for instance—use a god as a replacement for real company. And I think the large majority even of them would be better off in society instead of separated from it. So it’s hard to see belief as a useful crutch in that respect.

      • Kodie

        I meant “go it alone” in the “god-shaped hole,” or, not having some-grand-plan-about-all-this way. Having a community is normal human behavior, it’s not necessarily the loss of social ties (although giving up religious belief in an “out” way can certainly have that effect in some, or many, communities), it’s this powerful belief people like to have that their is an invisible guide, signs, good days and bad days to start a project, and aspects of their personality outside of their control as per their birthdate, ideas like “destiny” or “souls.” Etcetera. The idea of the “god-shaped hole” is pretty evident in that, well, I don’t miss god, but people attached to whatever beliefs they want to have are unprepared to, essentially take a leap of faith – that they’ll be ok, that they’ll know what they want and what to do and how to deal, while being aware there is no supernatural entity that determines these things for us to accept.

        For example, my “spiritual-but-not-religious” friend that I mentioned above mixes a few of the good things from her beliefs. This makes her feel better. However, I should say, she doesn’t behave very well about them. I would say, religions would be better if people would simply apply some of the good stuff to their life. I don’t see in any way that she is Buddhish, but Buddhism makes up part of her spirituality. She simply accepts her personality – one aspect is “being competitive.” She fears competition where her inabilities will be exposed, not only for all to see, but for it to be recorded. So I don’t see her being competitive. I don’t see her embracing competition and using it to measure herself. Without competing, she is anti-competitive and a failure (at competition). – In summary, she’s hung up and resolved to stay hung up by making excuses about her flaws. “Spirituality,” in this sense, doesn’t seem to help her in any way that I can see. I don’t know everything about her, so when she is good at something, she probably loves to show off, because she can always win and then feel good about herself. I don’t necessarily see her “spirituality” or “god-filled hole” assisting her or really in any way making her a worse person, it’s just something she feels better having than getting rid of, but she’s not getting the self-help psychological tools out of it at all (as far as I can tell).

        I think if she did get rid of it, she’d still have tons of friends, and not really going it alone in the way of being a hermit or such. She might have just said she is “spiritual but not religious” because it’s more acceptable, but she did try to talk herself into pursuing a gentleman because of how their birthdays lined up. She wanted to know what I thought and if it was meant to be, I’m just not the most appropriate person to give that kind of advice in general, but I just said, well, it’s an interesting coincidence, but if he’s really a good guy, then you date him a while and see if you belong together. Forget the “signs”. Do you really like him? Are you going to try to date all the millions of other men who were born the same date as him?

        As far as atheists being punished (which is not anything relative to what you’ve written here) for being outspoken at all, this is the kind of lite junk religion that comes up all the time (aside from outright presumption of Christianity, for example), right out in the open, and usually without ridicule. How am I supposed to support this woman and give her right advice without sounding like a total douche about her wishful thinking and speaking. She is afraid to come in last or maybe even second place, she is not afraid to come right out and ask someone if these birthdates mean anything and should she like him, try to get another date with him, or move on. Not everyone is religious very deeply or belongs to a religious community where one might be shunned for straying from the path, but even the remaining people are afraid to go without something in the form of magical forces pointing out the way in their lives. In my observation, they seem kind of weak in their beliefs, but I have made the mistake of pointing that out to someone on another forum. They feel and believe these things very seriously! Just not bible-thumper-style, but they are also not afraid to come right out and state their beliefs, nor that they think atheists are pushy. I stood corrected, as I would like to correct people, when given the opportunity, to explain what atheism is or isn’t. I’m so glad there’s internet.

  • Noelle

    I hope it becomes easier with time. I’m only a 1st generation atheist. There are more of me now than there were 20 years ago. It stands to reason there will be even more 20 years from now. If there are more non-believers with every generation, eventually it will be commonplace enough to be boring. Then the very idea of not electing someone based on their imaginary friend of choice should be considered ridiculous. The idea of not teaching science in schools when it conflicts with a religious belief should also be considered ridiculous. We’re not there yet, so I think there’s trouble yet to come. But it has to get better eventually.

    My 5 year old daughter last night asked me if I believe in God. I think our visit to church Easter Sunday got her thinking. My husband’s fielded most of her questions so far while I’m at work. I told her no. She says why not. I tell her God’s made up, pretend. But we have a book on him, she says. We have like 5 books on Curious George I say, is he real. No, she says, but I think God is. Ok, I say. Then she wants to ask her brother’s opinion, but he’s deep in the world of Wii and will answer yeah, sure to any question you ask him. She’s welcome to embrace any belief she wants, but I don’t see how that happens when you don’t have it to begin with.

  • http://www.sojessicaweaver.com Jess

    I have thought about why I don’t identify as an athiest, but instead agnostic, and I agree that it can sometimes be a spot to retreat to when being an athiest is unacceptable. I tried to examine what atheism means to me and I had to confront myself and say that while I still choose humility, which says “I’m not going to presume to know whether or not there is a god or whether that question can ever be answered,” I am not a theist. I don’t have a theistic belief I subscribe to anymore, and isn’t that what A-theism means? I’m new here, correct me if I’m wrong. But that feels so negative to me, as if I’m not making statements about my beliefs, but judgements about yours, and I don’t want to be that person. Except that I am…more and more every day. The further I get from theism the more negative I get about the theism of others. I know they perceive me negatively, and that makes it hard to be bold about it. I still want to call myself an agnostic, or maybe a skeptic, but I see that my attitude towards theism betrays a different stance, and I’m not sure how comfortable I am with that yet. I wonder if many other people are confused about where they stand, as I am sometimes. I do feel that part of it is the negative perception, and from where I stand a nation in which religious belief is not entrenched is very hard for me to imagine. Are people going to evolve without the need for easy social and emotional crutches/currency? Or will it just be something else they cling to?

    • Erik

      I’m not sure what exactly an agnostic believes. I don’t believe in god(s), therefore I am an atheist. I don’t have to be sure that there are no gods. The definition of “atheist” is not “one who knows there are no gods”, but “one who does not believe in gods”. That’s my understanding, at least.

    • Pam

      Jess – you have expressed many of my thoughts and “confusions”. I was an agnostic as a child and got “saved” as a teen. I kept that until my mid twenty’s then went through a really confused time as I broke away. Now I’m teetering on that thin edge that slices between agnostic and atheist. I think it’s actually harder to be here than the atheists think. I too am leaning more towards an atheist view but think the truth is untestable and thus unknowable. The existence of a god, as a being or just a force, is not probable but also not impossible.

    • HolierThanThou

      Jess, you say “But that feels so negative to me, as if I’m not making statements about my beliefs, but judgements about yours, and I don’t want to be that person.”

      Why wouldn’t you want to be “that person”? I do. I definitely would like to be capable enough in logical thought to be able to evaluate both my own ideas an the ideas of others. In fact, that’s how I became an atheist. I compare my own understanding of the world around me to as many other perspectives as possible, to examine for objectivity and genuine pursuit of truth as best it can be found. What I found is that my own understanding is incomplete but miles ahead of anyone who looks at the questions through the prism of religion. That left me no choice but to reject their flawed notions and gravitate towards a secular/scientific starting point to pursue answers. It would have been unfair not consider the religious viewpoint along the way, to simply dismiss it out of hand. That would not be a scientific approach. But to draw out the discussion beyond a cursory consideration is also pointless, because religion quickly proves itself to offer nothing of value in observing the world around us. An at that point it must then be dismissed from the discussion. So the very act of giving religion its fair chance also subjects it to the scrutiny that must be its undoing if it is weighed objectively on its merits.

  • Michael

    IN SUMMARY:
    Patheos supports the following HTML input in its comments:
    <b> (bold text)
    <strong> (strong text) (identical to b on most browsers)
    <cite> (text for a citation) (identical to b on my browser at least)
    <i> (italic text)
    <em> (emphasized text) (identical to i on most browsers)
    <code> (text in coding style)
    <a> (follow ‘a’ styles, hyperlink to href attribute)
    <del> (deleted text)
    <q> (text in quotes)
    Ӓ becomes the unicode character with decimal code 1234 (Ӓ = Ӓ)
    ካ becomes the unicode character with hex code x12ab (&#x12ab = ካ)
    &short; becomes the unicode character with html name ‘short’ (e.g. nbsp = non-breaking space ( ), amp = ampersand (&), mdash = em-dash (—))

    • Michael

      Oops, I meant &­#1234; = Ӓ and &­#x12ab; = ካ

  • grumpygirl

    I’m a life long atheist, raised as an atheist by atheist parents. I’m also an old broad, so I’ve seen a few cycles come and go during my life.

    I’ve never found it “difficult” to be an atheist. It’s just who I am, and I’ve always been that way. I get grumpy about the lack of respect that a lot of religious idiots have, but the world is full of idiots…

    I think it’s more “difficult” to be an atheist when you have had a religious identity before, shared a common background with others before.

    Our family recently joined a Unitarian Universalist Congregation. Having never been a member of a religious group (or a “church”) before, it’s actually been a lot of fun to be with other people who share common life views with you. I can definitely see why people belong to churches. It really fills a need for a sense of community.

    I don’t think we, as humans, will ever get away of the need to nurture our spiritual side. I just hope that it can be done in a way that doesn’t give up reason and give way to superstition.

    P.S. I think the phrase “spiritual atheist” is a ridiculous phrase. WTF does that mean??? We are all spiritual beings, in the sense that we all have a need to nurture a sense of well-being in ourselves. A “spiritual atheist” is someone who wants you to know that they are warm and fuzzy, too???

  • Theory_of_I

    The worldwide industry of religion – With $trillions in property and assets, $billions in annual revenues, billions of consumers and millions of employees – undoubtedly the largest industry In the world.

    If Atheists/sceptics/secularists have as a common goal the reduction of religious influence in their lives, the distinction between simple naive believers and the industry which feeds on them must be exposed. If we basically have little or no quarrel with the gullible godstruck as long as they practice their foolishness privately, then it becomes clear that our main issue lies with the IOR and those industry functionaries and con operators who have a major stake in perpetuating and expanding their power, influence and control.

    While it is important to provide rational counter argumentation to the tenets and assertions of religion in hopes of de-programming religiously afflicted individuals one by one, it may be more productive, In terms of diminishing the political and cultural impact of religion generally, to adopt a strategy of attacking the abuses, deceptions, political manipulation and assorted illicit practices commonly used by the religion industry to control and plunder the credulous multitude.

    Science has succeeded in reducing dogmatic religious pretences of the origins of life, the world and universe to a god(s) of the gaps, but only indirectly, not by intent. It’s time to crank up the efforts to dismantle the industry of religion by exposing and denouncing the harm it does, it’s power freaks and profiteers.

  • changeling

    Actually, atheism has always been easy, not because it involves soul searching or a purging of the brainwashes in your head, it’s because it’s a neo-religion that instead of believing in a god as a source of the origin of the universe, it believes in completely unproven astrophysical theories of the origin of the universe. I’m an agnostic and a skeptic, and I don’t believe in either leap of faith. There is no more credibility owed to Jehovah or Allah than Zeus or Apollo. Goatherder mythology, people wanting to believe, in their fear of death, that it cannot really be the end, even though it is. Then there are the atheists so desperate to prove that the universe exploded into existence out of nothing, that they buy any bullshit spewed by an astrophysicists with credential. Like “dark energy” and “dark matter”. Theory is an important part of the scientific process, but when you start adopting theory as belief, that’s the age old trap, religion.

    • Kodie

      Straw man.

    • Darwin

      Well, I guess you don’t like gravitational theory then.

    • Custador

      You claim not be be a theist, but you use the same ridiculous straw-man arguments from ignorance that theists use. Curious.

      • UrsaMinor

        It’s possible to self-identify as a skeptic without actually being capable of rational thought and analysis, but it’s exceeding rare- and it really doesn’t get you anywhere because it quickly devolves into idiosyncratic contrarianism. Sort of like we see here.

        Yeah, my money is on “fundie who isn’t smart enough to realize how transparent the ruse is, posing as agnostic/skeptic”.

        • Kodie

          I thought there is a type of agnostic who really does think that is the superior position. I.e., there might be a god or there might not be a god, and there’s “absolutely” no way to determine either way, ergo, atheism is just as much a religion as Christianity or anything else. Rightly, there’s no way to know whether there is a god, but there are ways to dismiss many types of gods via logic and conclude there is no god, for all intents and purposes, or, for me, rather certainly (barring evidence to the contrary). I don’t “believe” in dark matter or any other of that type of stuff. I don’t think atheists are “scrambling” to “prove” there isn’t a god by coming up with all that stuff to prove how the universe began without a god. We’re merely expanding what we do know, and still not finding a god anywhere in there.

          The strange fact is, no matter how much there isn’t a god, we still have the burden of having to prepare to find a god, just because most of the population still considers god real. I’m not a scientist, I don’t know how they do what they do (I mean technical facts-wise), and I have a healthy skepticism just for science, in case I am reading a dubious scientific-sounding report. If people could just do their job without considering the potential religious aspect of what they might find, I think this dude is saying, that would be religious atheism, in which we are making stuff up expressly for the intention of denying god, and ignoring the “very real” possibility that it has something to do with god. Why the fuck is he hiding?

          Given the conversation with a few friends upthread, it’s not necessary (but possible) that this guy is a liar for Jesus. I think most of the people who consider themselves agnostic think you have to be agnostic, they “corrected” me and said I can only be agnostic, and give credit to the possibility of there being some sort of god, even if we can’t tell what he really wants, even if we can cross all of the known religions off the list, and they include atheism on that list.

          • trj

            In my view, while the agnostic may credit himself with having the reasonable default position – ie. we can’t know with any certainty that god exists and we can’t know with any certainty that he doesn’t exist, so therefore one should not decide for or against God’s existence – that kind of reasoning quickly becomes absurd when extended just a little further.

            Are there any agnostics who seriously claim to be agnostic about the existence of Zeus? After all, they can’t know with certainty that he doesn’t exist, so it would be remiss to discount the possibility, yes? But they do, of course. Like everybody else they make a value judgement, saying that believing in Zeus is just too absurd, he is too unlikely to exist, too likely to be a silly man-made superstitition like so many other gods.

            The difference is that atheists are willing to assign Jehovah or Allah or Vishnu or whatever gods people in the current era believe in to the same pile of gods which agnostics don’t believe in – the huge pile of things (of which deities are just a small fraction) they aren’t agnostic about after all.

            Though I don’t really think the burden should be on atheists I’m willing to present arguments for why I do assign the Christian god or any other gods to the scrap pile. In turn, I’m willing to consider any arguments for why I should not do so. But I’ve never heard any convincing arguments from theists, and agnostics don’t seem to think they should present any arguments at all.

          • changeling

            You cannot know how joyous it is to meet a fellow freethinker. As far as whether or not some god is behind the creation of the universe, it’s beside the point. History has shown that it has allowed several entire ecosystems to go extinct. If it exists, it will not blink watching human extinction as well. Evolution is obviously in search of the ultimate being, and we are not it. We are fucked up beyond belief, but we are self aware, and just smart enough to destroy ourselves with our greed for power and influence.
            But, I have learned a lesson in life, the only way you keep yourself safe from those who would manipulate your opinion, is to never believe anything that is not proven. That is skepticism and agnosticism so that no one can use me as a tool.

            -*************

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            +-+-++-+

            +

            • Azel

              Saying that “Evolution is obviously in search of the ultimate being” is a huge leap of faith, quite incompatible with your following assertion that you believe noting that is not proven. First, because the concept of “ultimate being” is ill-defined, to say the least. Second, why evolution should have a goal ? And lastly, if it has such a goal, why are we as evolved as E. coli, slugs, tuna or ants ?

            • Kodie

              That is skepticism and agnosticism so that no one can use me as a tool.

              You’re doing a fine job of it all by yourself.

              The things you believe about atheism is wrong. The things you believe about evolution are wrong. You are set in your little “agnosticism” category so that you don’t have to sort through facts and decide for yourself. You make up facts and decide to be against them whether or not they are relevant. I don’t find a god in the universe, anywhere. We know a lot and still no god. I don’t know about dark matter, but it would be so silly if that finally turned out to be god. Evolution does not have a conscious goal in mind, that’s not how it works at all. To believe that it does – is religion, that would make the process of evolution have a conscious effect toward life forms, and that is not how it works. The fact that you think humans have any special place in the conscious goals of evolution, a trial and failure of evolution to create a perfect species on purpose, is to not understand why anyone is an atheist instead of an agnostic. Yeah, we can’t manipulate you, you have it all figured out. It seems you are fixated on characterizing ALL atheists as some kind of “church” who is eager to badger you that dark matter is what everyone thought was god all along, it’s fixed, it’s known, we don’t have to keep looking anymore. That’s not how it works at all. You don’t know what you’re talking about, so you do sound a lot like an ass. You’ve made up your mind, you won’t let what you imagine atheism to be to strangle you and hold you down and shove dark matter down your throat.

              Ha. So you’d rather be an ignorant puss, either/or, I’m starting to suspect that you really are a liar for Jesus, or recently so, that you’re so afraid of what atheism might be that you’ve decided you won’t go all the way there. You’d rather argue straw man arguments. To be fair, I was raised secular and gave religion and ideas of god a pretty hard shake (simply on the basis of it being a popular concept) just in case, to see if there might be anything there before I felt like a committed atheist. Agnosticism doesn’t have to be a permanent position. You can actually ask all the questions you want to until you feel satisfied, but you seem rigid and unreflecting of your position. I’d say that’s unwise, but you don’t really have anything to stand on if you want to keep up your line of arguments with us.

            • FO

              “Evolution is obviously in search of the ultimate being”
              Interesting statement.
              Care to back it up with evidence?

              “That is skepticism and agnosticism so that no one can use me as a tool”
              Don’t worry, either way you are too stupid to be effective.

          • Jabster

            “I thought there is a type of agnostic who really does think that is the superior position.”

            In my experience the majority of those who self-identify as agnostic do it out of a need to feel superior to as many people as possible. The argument seems to be you’re stupid to attack the Christian god as it’s possible that a god who’s only characteristic is that it created the Universe but left no evidence could exist but please don’t expect me to justify why that’s a reasonable proposition and what that has to do with the Christian god. This is interspersed with unless you can explain absolutely everything then it’s perfectly reasonable to say god could be the cause.

            I should like to add that this thread really doesn’t look if it’s going to change my view.

    • trj

      Bullshit. The existence of dark matter and dark energy, though we don’t know what they actually are, are based entirely on evidence. We can observe their effects. Also, equating atheism with religion and equating religion with “belief” in the Big Bang is a laughable composition of disparate elements.

      • changeling

        Goddamit trj, I get tired of making this undeniable proof that dark energy is bullshit. All you have to do is sit down with a piece of paper, put a dot in the center and call it the epicenter of the big bang. Then draw geometric rays from that epicenter in all directions. You can plot our galaxy or our planet any where on that graph, and it will always be true the furthest projectile from your position will be traveling away from you at the highest velocity. That is the assumption behind the erroneous conclusion that the universe is accelerating apart. Astrophysicists and you want us to believe that there is some ghostly undetectable force at work, like some god or something. You want to present it as fact rather than an idea that might have some merit. Theory is an important part of science. I keeps us pushing the limits of what we know. When you choose to believe it before it is proven, that’s not science, it’s religion.

        • Darwin

          No, the fact is that without dark matter this whole thing makes no fucking sense. If gravity was the only force acting on the universe, it would be collapsing inwards.

          • Jabster

            Now, now … we shouldn’t let facts get in the way of proving that you are wrong. Surely just stating it along with some stuff I made up should be good enough?

        • Custador

          You don’t grasp how an impulse works versus linear acceleration. You don’t understand the laws of motion that derive from S=UT+1/2AT^2. You don’t understand the concept of relativity. And yet you’re trying to claim authority not only over people who do, but over the finest physicist’s minds on the planet. That’s not agnosticism, that’s being a stupid, arrogant twunt.

          • Jabster

            “That’s not agnosticism, that’s being a stupid, arrogant twunt.”

            Generally I find they are the same thing …

        • trj

          Right, I guess all the cosmologists must have simply overlooked that they could just draw some straight lines, and everything would make sense. Does your “undeniable proof” explain why the universe’s expansion rate is accelerating? No, it doesn’t. It’s obvious you’re confusing linear expansion with linear acceleration. They are not the same thing. Also, if gravity was the only force affecting expansion, it would cause the expansion to slow down, which is contrary to what we observe.

          Skepticism is counter-productive when it’s based on ignorance.

          • Jabster

            Is it time to bring out the lone outsider that is ridiculed by the establishment but yet turns out to be right? I’ve watched Hollywood movies and I don’t see why real life should be any different.

            • trj

              It certainly is a popular theme. Of course, it conveniently ignores that for every controversial genius that fights the established consensus and is eventually vindicated through sheer intellectual prowess, there are countless thousands of crackpots. And every crackpot is thoroughly convinced he’s right and all the others have got it wrong. Sort of like religion…

        • FO

          “That is the assumption behind the erroneous conclusion that the universe is accelerating apart.”
          http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/astro/univacc.html
          http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/1999/sep/17/more-evidence-for-the-accelerating-universe

          Also, since you continue to put together science/atheism/religion allow me to remember that while in religion exist such crimes as “heresy” and “blasphemy”, the scientist that could prove false the two articles above would win the Nobel Prize.

        • FO

          Your explanation is rather confused and I fail to understand how is it incompatible with an accelerating universe.
          I would appreciate if you could explain it with more clarity.

    • FO

      “Then there are the atheists so desperate to prove that the universe exploded into existence out of nothing, that they buy any bullshit spewed by an astrophysicists with credential.”
      http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/cosmology_faq.html#BBevidence
      Due to the above evidence, you’d be surprised that the overwhelming majority of astrophysicist are perfectly ok with the idea of the Big Bang.
      You know, philosophy is pretty sterile if you do not go out in the real world.

      “dark energy” and “dark matter”
      Do you realize that both are just mathematical devices to make the equations yield?
      That the universe behaves as if there was stuff that we can see that perturbates gravitational fields?
      It’s just an observation with a fancy name in a research field that’s still uncharted territory.

  • changeling

    Notice, that none of you disprove my graph of the big bang as it relates to the accelerating universe theory. Why? Because while you are calling me an idiot, a gradeschooler could draw that graph and understand what I am saying. You instead, want to turn to epithets. Okay, I came here looking for freethinkers, and my search will continue. What I see is a religion of theory, which makes it the same as every other religion. Faith without facts. Good luck with that as public opinion ignores you. I can show you the door, you just have to walk through it.

    • Darwin

      You don’t seem to understand that a theory is backed up by facts. That is the definition of a theory in science. For a guy who seems to know jackshit about science you seem pretty convinced of your own particular insanities. I’m going to call Dunning-Kruger effect and move on.

    • Custador

      Nobody has attempted to disprove your “graph”, because it’s patently obvious to everybody here that you don’t know the difference between acceleration and expansion, you have absolutely zero knowledge of physics or cosmology, and that you’re so far to the left of the Dunning-Kruger curve that you actually think you’re right about a hypothesis you’ve pulled out of your arse based on a first-principle that does not, in fact, exist, through a logical fallacy that doesn’t even look logical in a poor light. In short, you are demonstrably ignorant, inarguably stupid, and desperately in need of shutting-up before you make yourself look even more stupid.

      What’s funny to me is, you’ll take this as an ad-hominem, while everybody with a basic understanding of maths, physics, logic and classical mechanics will know that I’ve just pointed out the glaringly obvious stupidity of your argument. Go away, you peon.

      • changeling

        Actually, the assumption of expansion of the universe is based upon a discovery, using rotational triangulation of opposit tangents of earth’s orbit to triagulate the distance of galaxies from our solar system. This is the discovery, that the farther the galaxy, red shift shows they are moving away from us faster. But, if you accept the big bang, all it takes is a piece of paper and a crayon to explain it the simplest of terms. Obviously you have not since you have yet to get my point. Perhaps you are lazy, perhaps you have no paper, perhaps you have no crayon, or perhaps you have no IQ. How could I know. But, like an unknown god, an unknown undetectable force is ripping the universe appart. Advice: Buy a crayon and a piece of paper.

        • FO

          You are obviously superior conveyor of though.
          I am converted!
          Please, I beg you to represent us in the face of the public opinion!

          Also, I don’t think that your paper-and-crayon exercise is an accurate model, but I’ll never know until you actually describe it decently.
          You seem to be too taken by yourself to be an effective communicator.

          • Kodie

            He is too busy surviving!

      • changeling

        No, you, termite,
        The entire theory of the expanding universe is based upon a realization that the further a galaxy is away from earth the faster it is moving away from us. I don’t despute the conclusion, just the assuptions. If you plot the graph I suggested, it will always be true, as a projectile of an explosion, the projectile furthest from you will always be moving away from you at the highest velocity. Do you own a piece of paper or a crayon?

        • Kodie

          @changeling – I notice that you only have one:

          -Brain cell
          -point of contention
          -nut
          -number you can count to
          -note in your tune
          -slice short of a pizza
          -load of crap to sell
          -cart of shit to push
          -line of argument
          -rude attitude
          -huge addiction to masturbation
          -ticket to Loserville
          -branch in your family tree
          -hour a day that you’re allowed on the computer

          If you plot the graph where you take a trajectory of A* (do you have a crayon and a piece of paper? This will not help here), toward B**, and keep going, you will find the source of your arguments.

          *Your head
          **Your ass

          If you don’t understand, ask someone. If you talk to them like you talk to us, they will be very eager to help you out.

        • Custador

          You really don’t have the first clue how relative motion works, and yet you’re blithely insulting people who do. The herp-derp is strong with you.

        • FO

          Ok.
          Assuming that projectiles accelerate from the centre, the furthest projectiles will be faster from a non-centered POV.
          So what?

          While you think about this, can you also explain me where is the centre of the Universe?
          This image may be of help:
          http://www.nature.com/scientificamerican/journal/v292/n3/images/scientificamerican0305-36-I1.jpg
          Given that the universe is the *surface* of the baloon, what is the centre of the universe?

    • UrsaMinor

      As described, your graph doesn’t even address dark energy or the accelerating expansion of the universe. In fact, it’s so poorly described that it’s conceptually useless unless the reader makes certain assumptions about things that you don’t state. We have a point that represents the “center of the universe”, and we have a bunch of arrows representing…what? This is a critical omission.

      If I assume your arrows are supposed to represent velocity vectors for the expansion of space, then it is still trivially true that that no matter whether the expansion of space is proceeding at a constant rate or if it is accelerating, the most distant object O as viewed from any point P will be receding with a greater velocity than any other object in the universe. And the question of dark energy remains untouched.

      • changeling

        Ursa,
        I’m going to talk you through this like one step at a time, so you can see how easy this is. If an explosion happens, it doesn’t matter what provoked it, the result is the same, something violent happens, and everything else is ejected directly away from the epicenter. Now for the most part, and explosion is a short term, almost instant event, but in my proof, it doesn’t even factor in, but, if you feel cerebral someday go see how , explosions lose their energy before they are exhausted. Pursue it if you must, but you can’t even seem to understand how a circle works , so I would put it on hold. If you believe in the big bang, it seems logical that all matter was ejected with the same force from the same epicenter. Hire your two year old to draw you a graph that it doesn’t where you plot this galaxy or earth on that graph, it will always be true that the furthest projectiles will be travelling away from you at the highest velocity. No gods necessary, and no theoretical ghosts. But, I shamefully have enjoyed humiliating you, but only because you called me out.

        • Mogg

          Well, you’ve humiliated someone there, but it ain’t Ursa… Tell me, have you ever studied high school-level maths or physics? If so, you clearly didn’t pay attention. You didn’t pay much attention in your English class, either.

          • Darwin

            Especially when they talked about a little thing called gravity.

          • UrsaMinor

            The ignorance is strong in this one. As a scientist, I find it kind of amusing to be talked down to by somebody who is convinced that A) he knows what he’s talking about and B) he’s explaining himself in clear English. Don’t make me use vector calculus on you, kid.

            Nah. So not worth it. Changeling doesn’t even know the difference between parallax measurements (excuse me, “rotational triangulation of opposite tangents”) and redshift.

            Just. Not. Educable.

            • trj

              I especially like how he keeps restating his model as if we (and all the world’s cosmologists and physicists) are just too dumb to understand it, while he’s too stupid himself to realize that the model never adresses the topic of acceleration in any way.

              Free-thinker indeed.

      • changeling

        That was an insane raft of bullshit, give me some numbers or some leverage of clear reason

        • UrsaMinor

          42.

    • trj

      Your graph never adresses an accelerating universe and so doesn’t serve the purpose you claim. What it does demonstrate, though, is that you don’t understand the basic difference between linear expansion (constant growth) and acceleration (increasing/decreasing growth). You say a grade schooler can draw your graph. Yes, and most grade schoolers can also be brought to realize that constant speed is not acceleration, once you explain the difference to them. You don’t even understand that much, yet you readily dismiss the scientific field of cosmology, entirely based on your personal tastes and your stunning ignorance.

      It’s funny how self-proclaimed free-thinkers are almost always uncritical towards their own beliefs. They’ll latch on to some specific opinion – usually a ridiculous one – and refuse to ever consider that it might be wrong. All conflicting views are dismissed out of hand, frequently by using strawmen. They like to call themselves sceptics but they’re really dogmatists. You show every sign of being one of those, changeling, and an ignorant one at that. Good luck finding fellow free-thinkers – though I think any actual free-thinkers will scramble frantically to get the hell away from you.

      • changeling

        trj said:
        “Your graph never adresses an accelerating universe”
        Were you fucking asleep or what? That was my direct assault. Any third grader can prove that a projectile of an explosion, will always be moving away from it’s most distant projectile at the highest speed away from itself. Sorry, you lack the ability to comprehend that truth, since it destroys the theory of dark energy , I could conduct some free classes, but, I’m busy surviving. No sympathy for the braid dead

        • Darwin

          I’m going to say this one more time. Your graph only makes sense in a universe without gravity.

        • Mogg

          If that was your direct assault, I’d hate to be on your side of a fight. What you appear to be attempting to describe is relative velocity (speed), not acceleration (change of speed over time). They are not the same thing, and your description has failed to convey anything that has anything to do with dark energy, which is a proposed solution to an observed discrepancy in expected values for acceleration, not velocity.

          Lrn 2 Classical Mechanics. Then Lrn 2 Relativistic Mechanics if you really want to attack the theory of dark energy properly. And if you want people to take you as anything other than a rude tosser who never graduated high school, Lrn 2 Write and Lrn to play nice with people who know more than you do.

        • Custador

          Okay dickhead, let me spell this out in terms that a third-grader would understand: “Acceleration” means changing speed and/or direction. “Linear acceleration” means to change speed while moving in a constant direction. Neither terms mean “to move at a constant speed in a straight line”, which is what would happen to ejected mass from an explosion, in a vacuum, without any other forces being present (for example, gravity).

          You really are exceptionally stupid, and you prove it more and more every time you sit at your keyboard.

        • Custador
    • Kodie

      I don’t really understand where this is coming from. You come here looking for “freethinkers,” while whatever you think you are demonstrating by this graph disputes something you think is the central tenet of the religion of atheists.

      Nobody is intentionally trying to prove there’s no god, scientists are just seeing what is there, to explain things which formerly have no explanation or a magical explanation in place of reality. And that’s science, that’s not atheism. Try not to mix them up. I don’t know too much what you’re trying to prove here, that there is a god? Or atheists believe something science got wrong?

      Let me say, if an atheist believes something a scientist got wrong, for argument’s sake, does that prove there is a god? I don’t quite latch onto all the science very well, but there is no reason to go around pretending there’s a god. You seem to use the term “freethinker” to mean absolutely sure of everything all the time, or else there is a god, we just haven’t found him yet. What is your problem, up in your head? I don’t care so much about your graph and how you got it wrong (supposedly, by all the remarks after it); I don’t know what any of that means. I don’t sense the implication you’re trying to make, except that you believe that atheism is all one thing, and we all believe the one same thing, and that is all about dark matter. Right, we worship dark matter, or something(?) and that is our religion. I don’t understand you, fool.

    • FO

      None is answering because your explanation is poor, ironic from someone that foretells us obscurity.
      Your ability to get your ideas through, based on arrogance and ignorance is totally ineffective and ultimately pathetic.

  • changeling

    Kodie said:

    “Nobody is intentionally trying to prove there’s no god, scientists are just seeing what is there, to explain things which formerly have no explanation or a magical explanation in place of reality. And that’s science, that’s not atheism.

    • Darwin

      You going to add anything to that?

  • HolierThanThou

    Changeling,
    No matter your views of dark matter, you cannot make atheism/secularism/science into a religion. Science and religion are polar opposites, and could in no way be more dissimilar. They approach questions from opposite ends. Religion starts with an “answer” and works backward, looking for any facts that appear to support or can be made to appear to support the “answer” you started with. Science starts with a question and no pre-supposition. There cannot be previously drawn conclusions or it is not science. There is no “belief” involved in science, whereas religions rely solely on unsubstantiated belief. Science can by definition be proven, whereas religion by definition cannot.

    The only reason religious folks and others suffering in the throes of ignorance are taught to say that science is a religion is because in your mind that lowers us to your level. Just one “belief” versus another. But that’s horseshit, an you know it, but folks like you keep saying it in an effort to validate your nonsense.

    Reminds me of a great quote by Isaac Asimov:
    “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”

    • changeling

      It’s okay that you don’t know me. Let me assure you that when you are arguing against religion, you are wasting your words, not because I believe in religion, but because I hate religion. My eyes are open to exactly the scam they are playing upon humanity. Their vulnerabilities, wondering why they are here, and the purpose of life. But their most devastating weapon is human survival instinct, the fear of death. Death is the end, and alway will be, and there is no afterlife, but for a significant monitary contribution they will reserve you a spot in heaven. LOL.
      But, where atheists and I disagree, is on philosophy. The means by which humans were entrapped by religion was because we were sold a bill of goods that for which there is no reciept of delivery. Now, atheists want to say that the big bang was inevitable, and so was life, but can’t produce a subatomic particle from nothing. Bill of promises with no reciept of delivery. Typical religion.
      I believe in science, but, atheism is a religion, and their members are as brainwashed and obnoxiously arrogant as any fundamentalist religious group. They think that theory is fact. And to challenge that point of view, the thorns are grown and sharpened.
      Let me write a paragraph to show how ridiculous this divide is. Atheists, by definition, are people who are persuaded to reject the idea of any god. But, how do you define a god? Well, I could be wrong, but, I don’t think that any freethinker wonders whether Zeus, Yahweh, Allah, the Great Spirit, or Quetzalcoatl exist. What sits upon our table is what we choose to BELIEVE. From my point of view, and it’s just a perception of the truth, we must ask the question, have we found our balance, or invented a new form of religion.
      If you want to believe that the universe is an inevitable accident, should you be able to recreate that phenomena in a laboratory, before you believe. Otherwise, it’s just faith, isn’t it, therefore, atheism is religion, and has nothing to do with freethought.

      • Darwin

        Hey, look at Mr. Genius, doesn’t even know that in science a theory is an explanation of the observed facts that is backed up by facts. You claim to know everything we’re talking about but every word you write says something different.
        Of course we trust in theory just like every biologist trusts in the theory of natural selection and every physicist trusts in atomic theory. You know why? Cause it isn’t trust, it’s knowledge.

      • Darwin

        And where do we say that the big bang is inevitable or acceptance of that is a requirement of atheism? A atheist is simply somebody who doesn’t believe in god. That’s it.

  • changeling

    Just picked up a virus from this website. Under control. Won’t be back, good luck everyone.

    • Jabster

      … erm troll or idiot?

      • Mogg

        Idiot, definitely.

    • Len

      Perhaps he caught critical thinking. That would be a miracle.

  • trj

    I knew you wouldn’t stay away, changeling. Fine, let me try to show you why your model concerning dark energy makes no sense.

    Let’s restate your model a little more rigidly: We have a central point and time of origin (the Big Bang) from which all matter and energy originates. For our purposes we’ll describe these as “particles”. These particles started out at different velocities. The key is that as the particles travel away from the center they retain their initial speed; in other words, each particle has a constant speed indefinitely. I hope we agree this is your model.

    Now, you’re correct when you say that – for any point of reference – the more distant a particle is, the faster it will be travelling away from you. Still, all the particles travel at constant speeds. Even though far away particles travel away from us at a faster speed than near particles, the rate of expansion is constant. In other words: nothing is accelerating in your model – which is your whole point.

    Here’s the clincher: I agree with you! So does every cosmologist and physicist. There is no acceleration in this model. But you apparently presume that we’re so stupid that because things move at different velocities we misinterpret this to mean that the universe expands with accelerating speed.

    This is NOT why we say the expansion is accelerating. Do you really think all the world’s cosmologists are so stupid that they would make such a misinterpretation? Really? Because that’s what you’re arrogantly saying. I would think most of them know enough physics and math to recognize the difference between constant speed and accelerating speed in a given frame of reference. But you apparently think they’re too dumb to know the difference between the two.

    When scientists say the expansion rate is accelerating they mean it actually is accelerating because that is what we observe. By observing very distant objects we are also observing backwards in time. And what we can see is that the redshift rate of change (which is only one of the ways the rate of expansion is measured) is not constant. The rate is changing over time. Which is why we know the universe is accelerating. And which is why your model has been falsified.

  • changeling

    I aplogize for saying I picked up a virus on this site. A power outage caused an irregular shutdown which randomly caused some setting changes. System tools, registry, it’s all good. Everything seems to be working perfectly. But, as long as they’ve been working on these operating systems, you would think that they would automatically invoke registry when a power loss occurs. Windows seven sucks, the same old shit, they just hid it in a new place where I can’t find it.
    Anyway, trj said:
    “The rate is changing over time. Which is why we know the universe is accelerating. And which is why your model has been falsified.”
    Response: Wow! Please present us all with the new discovery, because everything I have ever read, or seen on documentaries has never mentioned it. As far as I have ever heard, the theory of dark energy is based on the fact that the further a “particle” is from our position in space, the faster it is moving away from us. It was certainly the only evidence Einstein had when he admitted his theory of a static universe was bullshit. So you say, that now, we, can year by year detect a change in the redshift. Send us all a link. I want to see this evidence, then I will be a believer. But, there is no link, is there? You just made that shit up, didn’t you?
    Changeling

    • Darwin

      It’s the other way around jackass. Hubble detected changes in the redshifts of distant galaxies and that told us that galaxies were moving away faster and faster.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubble%27s_law

      • changeling

        You see, you are just like christians, you don’t even know your own bible, and are just as closed minded. The idea that the universe is being forced apart is not as a result of constantly changing redshift from any particular galaxy, it is an a ridiculous assumption arrived at with no other evidence than a discovery the further the galaxy is from our position, the faster it is moving away from our position in space. Instead of hiring a third grader to draw them a graph that explains it, they invent a new god called dark energy. Yes, it was Hubble that discovered this pattern, and while science was not what is today and you have to cut him some slack, the theory creates a new god to explain a phenomena explained by third grade geometry. It not easy atheism, but it is “Occam’s razor” and easy freethought. Yet you believe. Please don’t call me jackass.
        Changeling

        • Custador

          Oh my fucking days… You genuinely do not have the first fucking clue what you’re talking about, and every sentence you write demonstrates it again and again. You come across like a beligerant teenager who thinks that admitting that you’re wrong is utterly inconcievable.

          But here’s the thing: You’re so clueless that what you’re writing makes absolutely no sense. You. Are. An. Idiot. Just shut up you prat!

        • Azel

          In the name of all that’s holy…you still don’t understand that your model doesn’t explain an accelerating expansion ? I won’t call you a jackass, per your request, but “exceptionally dense” is a marvellously appropriate term to describe how you act here.
          P.S. : In your model, the acceleration would be negative, i.e. a decelerating expansion, due to gravity.

    • Sunny Day

      I see that trj was giving a failbot such as yourself too much credit. Is there anything else you would like spoon fed to you?

    • trj

      I can’t really help that you don’t know the arguments around dark energy, which you demonstrate in full.

      Dark energy is NOT the phenomenon that the further away something is, the faster it is moving. Like Darwin says, that’s known as Hubble’s Law. The phenomenon that things are moving away at an accelerating rate was not discovered until the 1990s, and for lack of a better name it was dubbed “dark energy”. Einstein recanted his static universe because of Hubble’s Law, not because of dark energy, since everybody at that time supposed the universe to expand at a constant or perhaps decelerating rate.

      So there’s your first problem: you don’t even know what dark energy refers to.

      Your second problem is that you presuppose all the world’s cosmologists are too dumb to recognize the difference between acceleration and constant growth (and so is the Nobel Laureate committee which handed out the physics Nobel price in 2011 for the discovery of an accelerating universe). Does that sound plausible? Or does it sound more plausible that you are building a strawman? When scientists say the universe is acelerating they don’t say it based on your outdated model but based on what they observe. And the observations show that your model does not represent reality.

      It seems pretty dumb of you to keep insisting that scientists are misinterpreting your model when they’ve already discarded that model, don’t you think? Your entire argument is that they don’t understand your model, which shows an enormous arrogance on your part, but they’re not even using your model, for fuck’s sake, so your argument doesn’t even make sense. It’s one big, fat strawman.

      Thirdly, you apparently don’t understand what I say about redshift. I’m not saying that we can “year by year detect a change in the redshift”. Here’s how it works:

      We observe type Ia supernovas which can be used as a standard measurement tool because they always shine with a certain luminosity. From this we can estimate their distance. We can then compare their distance with their redshift, which is a direct measure of speed. By progressively looking further out we can see that the redshifts of the supernovas do not match the value we would expect if the universe was expanding at a constant rate. The redshift is not directly proportional to the distance; it is instead increasing exponentially with the distance – in other words: acceleration. Which is why scientists say the universal expansion is accelerating. It has nothing to do with them misinterpreting your simplistic model.

      You asked for evidence. Sure, here you go:
      Accelerating universe
      Evidence for an accelerating universe
      Why do we think that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating?

      Feel free to google up more, if you can be bothered. I look forward to you changing your mind based on the evidence, like you said you would. Because that’s what you free-thinkers do, right?

      • changeling

        Well, while you are selecting your spin for your baseless point, you should refrain from including links that I can quote saying:
        ” Measurement of the expansion rate is a critical part of the study, and it has been found that the expansion rate is very nearly “flat”. That is, the universe is very close to the critical density, above which it would slow down and collapse inward toward a future “big crunch”
        Wow!!! Nearly flat, as though the whole idea of dark energy is either bullshit or never existed, or is entirely beside the point. I lean towards the bullshit theory, but I don’t believe it, because that would be religion.
        You do realize, I assume, that stars even when they go nova are in a galactic helix pattern, inside their gravitational community. Any redshift evidence is highly suspect. Or, maybe all of this is over your head. At least you understood the ray graph.
        Changeling

        • Custador

          Oh look. Another nonsensical comment from a man who thinks that quote-mining an article he doesn’t have the wit to comprehend is the same as actually knowing stuff.

          • changeling

            Oh, look! A nematode pretending to have a point.

            • Jabster

              @changeling

              I think I can speak for more than one person here when I say, now don’t take this personally as it’s not meant to be offensive … why don’t you just fuck off and go and act like a complete arse wipe somewhere else. Now, you’re not as intelligent as you think your are by a long way. To be honest you’re not even as intelligent as I think you are and I think you’re as dumb as dumb can be while still be counted as possibly alive.

              Hope this helps …

        • Kodie

          “Nearly flat” and “flat” aren’t the same thing. There is a picture on the graph that looks like your graph, but it is not the one marked “best fit of current data”.

        • trj

          Measurement of the expansion rate is a critical part of the study, and it has been found that the expansion rate is very nearly “flat”.

          Indeed it is, but “very nearly flat” means the exponential growth is small, which is not the same as claiming it’s not there. It’s statistically significant (you should look up what that phrase means, exactly), which is to say the acceleration has been proven within a very high probability. The size of it doesn’t really matter in that connection.

          stars even when they go nova are in a galactic helix pattern, inside their gravitational community. Any redshift evidence is highly suspect.

          I suppose what you’re trying to say is that the redshift factor can be influenced by how the supernovas moves inside the galaxy.

          Which of course is complete bullshit. Supernovas don’t move at relativistic speeds inside a galaxy. Their speeds inside the galaxies are completely negligible compared to the speeds with which the far away galaxies themselves are moving at. And anyway, this secondary influence would disappear when you’re averaging over hundreds of supernovas.

          But of course, it doesn’t really matter what I tell you. You’ve obviously got it all figured out and all those scientists with their Nobel prizes and silly empirical data are just religious idiots who can’t possibly hope to aspire to your level of knowledge concerning dark energy. They clearly didn’t study the matter in depth like you obviously have. Probably they haven’t watched as many documentaries as you have, so what do they know, right?

          • changeling

            These prizes which give your scientists their grand credibility are awarded by whom? Oh, their fellow scientists. They do love to come together and congratulate each other on how brilliant they are. If one believes Hubbles findings, then one must also believe third grade geometry. No evidence proves that a god known as dark energy exists. But, you battle for your god, and you would have me killed for my heresy if you only had the authority wouldn’t you? Galileo should have spit in the Pope’s face, as I spit in yours.

            • trj

              Yeah, that’s right, we’d have you killed for being a dark energy unbeliever if only we had the authority. Because that’s how science works: kill everyone who disagrees.

              Remember to wipe off your screen after you spit on it.

      • changeling

        Well, I opened that file, and it sounds to me like someone trying to baffle me with bullshit. Do you pretend to understand which language he is speaking? Oh, I’m sure he’s got a shitload of credentials that enabled him to baffle us with bullshit, but, if your point is, that I have no clue what the fuck he’s talking about, then we must be the same as when Einstein was babbling his bullshit.
        Does it remind you of when the pope issues a sermon in Latin, a dead language. Only the carefully educated faithful understand what he’s saying. They all applaud, and tell him he’s great.
        I don’t know you, but, I am an intelligent person, so if a genius shows me step by step how he has solved a question or an obstacle, my brain is ready, and even when I don’t understand, if they can do it in a lab, convert it to industry, I am a believer. That is a simple process.
        When you believe without definitive proof, that’s religion and it makes me wretch.
        Changeling

        • Kodie

          Trying to baffle you with bullshit? Lol, you are a piece. You doubt anyone here or anyone anywhere understands it well enough to say you are a dunce, definitively? That it all must be a conspiracy since it’s written in a language too difficult for you to understand? And FYI, some people do understand Latin, just because everybody doesn’t, does not mean the Pope didn’t say what he said, in Latin. I mean, he wasn’t just speaking made up words because he assumes they won’t know the difference. “I don’t understand it so it can’t be as true as what I do understand, an admitted 3rd grader with a crayon,” is not a valid excuse, nor an excuse to be so rude, and accusatory of an entire scientific community of speaking in smart words because there’s no chance anyone will comprehend what they say anyway. What kind of arrogant fucktard are you?

        • Kodie

          @changeling –
          trj already posted the article on wikipedia for an introduction, I found it easy to understand in regular English. If English is not your first language, find a translation on wiki or elsewhere:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accelerating_universe

          I found this pretty easy to understand, mostly from the word “corroborated by several independent sources” and the links therein and the section on consequences for the fate of the universe. It might help if you also looked up the definition of model in the scientific sense and knew the difference between a hypothesis and a theory. I can understand not wanting to jump on a bandwagon because those bullies know more than you and actually do understand language you don’t, but there’s no reason to insist none of it’s true!

          • changeling

            Well, why don’t you bind all that wisdom up into a book, and go knock on doors and explain that a lot of people said it’s true therefore it must be . Tell them theory is truth because really smart people (gods) say it’s true. Then as a final blow, ask them for money, then atheism will officially be a tax free religion. Then the world will see you as you are. Freethinkers, I don’t think so.
            Changeling

            • Kodie

              TROLL

        • trj

          That’s rich. You didn’t understand a scientific article, so it must be bullshit?

          Is this the first time you’ve actually seen a scientific paper? Are you a science paper virgin? Hey, it’s allright, there’s a first time for us all. It can be a bit initimidating at first, but there’s really nothing to be scared of. In time you’ll get the hang of it. Especially an intelligent person like you. The important thing is to not have unrealistic expectations of your own abilities. Even Einstein had to start there, and you’re obviously even cleverer than him.

    • UrsaMinor

      “I ain’t seen it in no TV documentary, therefore it’s bullshit”.

      My, my. We are really pushing the boundaries of fail here if this is your standard of evidence. TV documentaries about science are often indistinguishable from science fiction. They are not a good educational source. They are entertainment, pure and simple.

      Here’s a link to a real peer-reviewed scientific paper where Perlmutter presents evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. It also contains references to many other physics papers with supporting evidence.

      http://arxiv.org/pdf/astro-ph/9901052%22%20/

      You do recognize the name Saul Perlmutter, right? He’s one of the three physicists who shared the 2011 Nobel Prize in physics for…wait for it… discovering that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.

      • UrsaMinor

        As an additional study aid, here’s a link to a description of the type Ia supernova measurements that the research is based on:

        http://arxiv.org/pdf/astro-ph/9812473v1.pdf

        • Kodie

          I’m doubtful of changeling’s ability to understand things that are not easily comprehended by a 3rd-grader with a crayon.

          • UrsaMinor

            Me too, but somebody has to call him on his assertion that we’re pulling this out of our asses. Since he’s clearly too lazy to do his own research on the topic on which he is expounding, I spent five minutes of my own time doing his job for him and locating the source material using Google Scholar.

            • Kodie

              I don’t think he thinks we’re pulling this out of our asses, but being blindly led by the atheist agenda and playing right into the hands of the scientific conspiracy, who always makes up more and more ridiculous new things to see who is stupid enough to believe them. It’s something every 3rd-grader knows but easily forgets as they go along in school, indoctrinated in science to absorb what the science teacher doesn’t even understand fully but teaches anyway, curriculum enforced by the school board as one true truth, and strikes down any alternate “opinions”. That’s what being a “freethinker” means! I mean, he doesn’t like religion, he never said he didn’t have a hard-on for Jesus. He is pushing un-science as scientifically plausible also, just like ID. He has just picked a different hobby horse than DNA.

            • UrsaMinor

              So you say, that now, we, can year by year detect a change in the redshift. Send us all a link. I want to see this evidence, then I will be a believer. But, there is no link, is there? You just made that shit up, didn’t you?
              Changeling

              No, I’m pretty damned sure we’ve been accused of pulling out of our asses.

            • Len

              We know he hates religion – perhaps he’ll tell us that he has a relationship with Jesus.

    • Custador

      Please read the link I already posted. It describes Nobel Prize winning physics.

  • FO

    It seems like we got to direct ad hominem, we’re well past the point where any argument may be effective.
    It is not even fun.

    While I fear that changeling may use his genius intellect and his overwhelming charisma against our Glorious Atheist (TM) Movement (and woe unto us if he does!) I think that further insults are just Bad Karma (TM).

    In short: ignore the little troll until he posts an arguments clearly and without assuming that ignorance allows him to treat others with contempt.

    • Jabster

      Well you can do that, I just intend to call him a fuckwit … :-)

      • FO

        De gustibus…. ^_^

        • Jabster

          I’m not sure what you think this has to do with learing to cook … :-)

    • UrsaMinor

      I stand by my original diagnosis that changeling is Just Not Educable. Is it just me, or is anyone else starting to picture him with a tinfoil hat?

      OK, I’m going to give him the victory condition that he craves so desperately in the hopes that he will take his prize and go away:

      Changeling, I will not discuss the topic further with you because you’re not just uneducated, you’re irrational. Please accuse me of being too stupid to see your point one more time, just to show there are no hard feelings, and then scurry off and proclaim to your friends how you managed to rattle me so badly with your irrefutable evidence that I couldn’t handle the truth and refused to carry on the conversation because deep down I knew you were right. Oh, and don’t forget do to a little chest-beating on your personal blog about your victory.

      • Darwin

        I’m with you Ursa. I’ve repeatedly said that his model does not make sense since it does not account for gravity, but he doesn’t seem inclined to listen or even acknowledge the point.

        • Jabster

          Where you there when gravity was invented?

          • UrsaMinor

            We all know that gravity is a myth. Matter was created so that it falls intelligently, that’s all.

        • UrsaMinor

          It’s also interesting that he accuses us of worshiping dark energy. I’m not even sure that it exists, myself, and I’m not particularly wedded to the idea that it must exist. But the accelerating expansion has to be explained, and dark energy is so far the most parsimonious hypothesis that accounts for it. Next step is to devise testable predictions that will distinguish it from the other alternatives. Perhaps the theory will go the way of the luminiferous aether.

          Or somebody could show that Perlmutter’s data or assumptions are wrong and the expansion isn’t accelerating. Oh, wait, no, that’s when we scientists are supposed to go into a huddle and suppress the truth. My bad.

          Ha! If changeling only had a clue as to how hard real scientists try to disprove each other’s findings and publish the demolition job. Nothing gets you street cred like demonstrating that somebody else has gotten it wrong. His view on how science works is the bizarro-world mirror image of how it actually does.

          • FO

            It is not even a theory.
            It’s just a “Owww, look, these stars here move exactly as if there was something with negative energy density, but we don’t see anything!!!”
            There, Dark Energy explained.
            Now, did he accuse scientists of believing in mathematics?

      • trj

        Personally, I find it amusing to observe how changeling, while ranting about religion, displays all the characteristics of a clueless religious fundie: he’s ignorant about the facts, though convinced he knows everything, and so his arguments rest on strawmen. When evidence is presented to him he refuses to acknowledge it because he doesn’t like it. He clings to a simplistic model which is completely irrelevant to the issue, and he insists that everybody else must be wrong and/or stupid, and science is a conspiracy.

        This “discussion” about dark energy has abundantly shown how much critical thought changeling is willing to invest in being a free-thinker. None whatsoever.

        • Kodie

          He keeps going around and around on the carousel. Superior non-thinker despises atheists and science for making up bullshit in difficult language – asks for links and citations – asks someone to dumb it down for him – reverts to abuse of atheism as a religion.

          I’m not too great at science, ok? I didn’t take a physics class in high school. I got a D in college Astronomy (a 100-level core science option), and that’s how I somewhat understand the terminology as familiar. As I read through this thread and people’s explanations, it did become clearer to me. Changeling’s graph does not account for gravity. It is simplified, because he is simple. He is applying a simplified graph to a complex universe to prove dark matter does not exist, meanwhile accusing us of worshiping dark matter. I don’t worship anything. Not even coffee. Not even television. It started to become clear to me reading over the responses about the 3rd time and settles into the brain cells where some of this information is deeply stored from Astronomy class – velocity and acceleration are not the same thing. I read the graph, I see a diagonal line that plots current data compared to an empty universe. I read about Einstein and his cosmological constant being a big mistake. It seems like Changeling went along once with science and was burned by believing something that later changed! Holy crap. So make up something else that’s not true, that never changes to explain to account for what is observed by some peanut butter and jelly on the lens of the telescope. All the scientists are fools! Einstein even did a stupid thing, atheists are therefore stupid! They dive in head first into a vat of bullshit, and changeling never (ironically) changes. He stays out here with his crayon drawing a simple explosion because he is a troll. He is suspicious of anyone smarter than he is, he is suspicious that any regular person with an internet connection can fathom what’s written in a scientific paper. He pretends he is smarter than all of us only by virtue of disbelieving what he can’t understand, and that if you can’t understand something, it’s not only not right to simply trust that someone (many, many people) knows what they are talking about and have observed and corroborated the research, that it can’t even be true. What must be true is that many, many people only concur out of ignorance, because it’s not even true. It’s too complicated so it must be a conspiracy. He refuses to be a TOOL! of the scientific conspiracy, and even when these things are explained pretty clearly (I understood them, after all), instead of saying “yes, I understand now,” like he said he would, if someone would only use slow words then he would see, he tells me to write it up in a book and knock doors proselytizing about it. Jesus F. He’s the one who came here telling us that we all worshiped dark matter. I never heard anyone trying to persuade anyone to atheism using the astonishing dark matter argument. I never heard anyone try to persuade anyone to atheism, period.

          He hasn’t answered a direct question, he hasn’t engaged in a civil discussion, he hasn’t answered for many things he’s said in reference to cosmology, or evolution, he thinks this is a video game. We shoot at him and now he’s over there, shooting at us! We can’t catch the slippery one, he relies on his evasion abilities and constantly changing the rules.

          So he trolls. Changeling, all you got going for you is a fat head full of nothing. Tie a string on it and float the fuck out of here.

          • UrsaMinor

            I don’t worship anything. Not even coffee.

            I don’t worship coffee, but I do acknowledge its role in keeping all the particles in the universe in motion and preventing them from collapsing into a lifeless singularity. Especially in the morning.

            • Kodie

              Having to take your word for it is not good enough. Show me a scientific paper that demonstrates exactly how that works, and I will believe you except I won’t and then accuse you of being in a cartel.

            • UrsaMinor

              You could save us both a lot of time and just skip to the accusation. It worked so well for a certain other party.

  • FO

    As I said, even when we’ll succeed in Taking Over The World and imposing our godless fist on hapless humanity, ignoramuses will be important to keep us sharp.
    I ended up learning a lot from this thread. ^_^

    • UrsaMinor

      You forgot to conclude with a BWAHAHAHAHA! Some mad atheist overlord you’ll make, sonny. Ha! I’ll bet you don’t even eat kittens.

      • Darwin

        Or babies. Mmmm, babies.