"You haven't proven god *doesn't* exist!"

I hear it all the damn time: you haven’t proven that god doesn’t exist!  The deepest abyss in the pantheon of shitty arguments was carved for this one, yet I hear it so frequently that I can’t believe I haven’t written up a suitable response to copy/paste from as I have with so many other arguments.

I guess there’s no time like the present.

“The evidence doesn’t disprove god”

What would that evidence look like?  I mean, if something doesn’t exist, what more evidence could we have than the lack of any evidence?  The evidence also doesn’t actively disprove the existence of smurfs.  Does it really take more ‘faith’ to believe smurfs don’t exist?  After all, what more evidence do you have that smurfs don’t exist than you do that god doesn’t exist?

Furthermore, what does this scenario tell us about god?  If a god exists who elected to use only natural means to create a universe and chose to mask any evidence of his existence, it can only be concluded that such a god does not want us to believe.  Additionally, that he would use a means to produce humans/biological order like evolution, which requires millions of years of a sick rewards system in which animals must often kill each other to survive, and in which the weak often die painfully, suggests a god indifferent to suffering (since a malicious god would start us in hell and a benevolent god would conceive a more compassionate system).  An indifferent god is hard (I’d say impossible) to discern from a pitiless universe that functions through unfeeling forces, and nothing more.  There are plenty more problems like this, and they all point to a god that virtually no human being believes in, and for which a godless universe is a better explanation.

But apart from simply pointing out that no evidence whatsoever exists to suggest a god was at work anywhere, we have plenty of evidence to support the conclusion that the universe is without god.

Evidence supports a godless universe

For one, the universe produces order all by itself via mindless forces acting on inanimate objects.  So you cannot simply point to an instance of order and say, “There is complexity, hence it must have been designed!”  What’s more, thus far whenever humankind has explained a phenomenon, it has been shown to be the result of natural forces with no appeal to god being necessary.  All of them.  Now imagine you’ve watched two horses race hundreds of thousands of times, and every time the same horse wins.  They’re getting ready to run another race and you have to bet your life savings on one of them.  Which horse do you pick?  Do you need “just as much faith” to pick that horse?  Yes, we have other unknowns out there, but to say that it takes just as much faith for me to assume that we will continue to find natural explanations rather than supernatural explanations is simply wrong.

Second, life is very difficult to get started via natural means (go here and read the section “abiogenesis”).  A godless universe therefore predicts that we would find ourselves in a very large, very old universe, so that things that have a very low probability of occurring would become probable.  That is exactly where we find ourselves.

Third, the flaws in design don’t make any sense if a god created anything, since such a god would necessarily be more crafty than humans.  If that were the case, it’s incredibly odd that we could pick up mistakes that such a god would miss.  These are things like the existence of the appendix, babies’ heads being bigger than the birth canal, and the clunky nature of DNA.

Fourth, there is sufficient evidence to conclude that our universe had a beginning, and the existence of a god before there was any time or place to think is illogical.  Moreover, it is up to the theist to explain how a bodiless mind could both exist and accomplish anything.  So far as we know, minds only exist as machinery powered by tissues constructed of cells which, themselves, are made up of elements that took time to create within stars via r and s processes, which means that a mind could not exist before stars.  Also, if thought does not require a functional brain, why do we have them?

Fifth, as I said in the first part of this response, the existence of suffering is incompatible with an all-powerful being.  An evil god would have us suffer more, and a benevolent god would not allow suffering to continue.  That life is based on a system that requires millions of years of agony spread over millions of species of animals is inexplicable via the god hypothesis.

Sixth, if god existed there would not be so much confusion among the world as to which God existed or what he wants from us.  Often people say they have experienced god and that’s how they know one exists.  But god would not be giving everyone contradictory messages and experiences of the divine, nor would a god allow this confusion, since compassion would compel him to give us the best chance of being saved, not the worst.

Seventh, the universe is indescribably vast.  It is so large than the human brain cannot comprehend it without invoking logarithmic functions.  To give you some perspective, a particle of light will travel around the entire Earth seven and a half times in one second.  It would take that same particle 5.3 hours to reach Pluto, and four years to reach the closest star, and there are roughly 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone, and there are trillions of galaxies.  That same particle would take 93 billion years to go from one end of this universe to the other.  As I pointed out earlier, such a universe is precisely what we would expect to find if life arose from natural causation.  It makes absolutely no sense that such a universe was created for something so mind-numbingly insignificant in the grand scheme of things as humans.

There are many, many more, but you get the picture.  Any evidence to support a godless universe is evidence against god’s existence.  I will go further to assert that no evidence whatsoever exists to support the conclusion that god exists.  This makes a godless universe (far) more likely, and makes it difficult to contrive a more inaccurate statement than, “It takes just as much  faith to believe in a God or to believe there is no higher power.”

Rebuttal to other arguments

This is stuff like…

Science address how something like the universe was formed but never explains why it was formed.

Who says there has to be a why?  The cosmos appears to be chugging along just fine with its mindless processes and inanimate objects.  I address this question more in-depth here.

[Science] doesn’t explain why a God could not exist and why the god isn’t the driving force for these actions to be put in motion.

It also doesn’t explain why leprechauns couldn’t exist.  That’s because no evidence exists to support them so it would be a waste of time.  In philosophy, you cannot prove a negative because there will always be gaps in our knowledge, so we must always allow the distant possibility that even unlikely things like leprechauns and gods will turn up.  What we can say with as much certainty as humanly possible is that any person claiming to possess evidence that a god exists has not submitted it scientific scrutiny or, if they have, it has been shredded like any other unsupported idea.  Moreover, if you believe in god just because we haven’t combed our universe to the very edge to make sure there’s no place god might be hiding, thus ‘disproving’ his existence, then it’s curious why you don’t believe in smurfs, unicorns, leprechauns, and seventeen-legged insects with candy apple horns, since we can’t/haven’t disproven those things either.

Lastly, science is not a matter of faith, which I’m sure you’re aware of.  It is supported by evidence and obviously works.  When science does not know something, it freely admits it.  This is how intellectual honesty works – no faith involved, only what we can rightly claim to know.  However, to believe in something for which there is no evidence, that requires faith, and that’s not a good thing even though many religious people will throw that word out as though it absolves any shortcoming in reasoning.  In fact, it’s just another shortcoming.  Similarly, it is not a matter of faith for me to say that this universe appears to be godless or that those saying otherwise do so for crummy reasons, if they even advance reasons.

  • Janee

    I think, JT, that I’d be more inclined to believe in Smurfs. At least I’ve seen them, even if it’s only in movie form. ;)

  • Daniel

    This article has so many holes.

  • JT Eberhard

    Daniel,

    …and yet you don’t feel inclined to list even one of them?

    JT

    • I amafreeman

      My thoughts exactly….

  • B-Lar

    When I hear this argument from someone, I call them a theif and when they assure me that they are not I demand that they prove it. If they come back saying “thats totally different…” I reply “How can you prove that you are not a theif? If you were a theif there would be evidence (perhaps stolen goods or a broken window), but if you were not a theif, then there would be no evidence. There is no evidence, and therefore we assume you are not a theif until the evidence shows up.”

    I would also like to ask one of these guys “if they think that evidence will ever be found for God. Will we find Gods footprints somewhere? Is it even possible to find evidence for God? Did God leave a trace of himself anywhere other than “that strong belief that he just MUST be there”?”

  • JT Eberhard

    B-Lar,

    LOVE that rebuttal! Will steal for future use. :P

    JT

  • http://withau.blogspot.com/ Laurence

    I think the Evidential Problem from Evil (or Suffering) is a knock down argument against the existence of an onmimax god. You did a good job explaining it. The philosopher Stephen Law also has a good version of this argument as well. His argument invokes the evil god as well. I really enjoyed it.

  • B-Lar

    :)

    Just passing it forward!

  • Daniel

    JT, the article is so long it is hard to find a place to start. Overall, it seems that you have an opinion have how a god should be like and what the world would be like with him. If god doesn’t fit your mold, then he can’t be god. you’ve made yourself the author of god, and because our world/universe doesn’t fit with your idea of god…god can’t exist. I think this makes your argument weak. ie, “if god existed there would not be so much confusion among the world as to which God existed or what he wants from us.” How do you know this?

    Also, “It makes absolutely no sense that such a universe was created for something so mind-numbingly insignificant in the grand scheme of things as humans.” It makes no sense to you, but this is not a good reason for why god doesn’t exist. Perhaps even god made the universe for himself and not for humans. But if JT doesn’t like god creating the universe for himself, then surely god doesn’t exist.

    Besides, people who believe in god use the same argument. For example, how can you conclude that such vastness happened out of randomness and mere chance. It is incredibly intricate how all the parts work even something as small as a flower. To say this all happened by mere chance is like taking a bag of letters and throwing them on the ground and getting the works of William Shakespeare. No matter how many times you throw the bag of letters, you’ll never get a coherent book. To say the universe, in all its parts, happened this way too is not convincing. The amazing things of the universe point towards a designer, not mere chance.

    Lastly, concerning the argument for suffering and evil. By what standard are you saying something evil or that suffering is bad. If we are all just random cosmic accidents, then who are you to say it is wrong for terrorists to blow up buildings and try to take over the world. Who made you the one with all the right ideas of how we should act? And if natural selection is just a normal process, then why get so upset when children starve…it is just a part of the process. You really have no reason to be upset. BUT the fact that you do get upset when injustices happen and suffering occurs, tells me there is within you an intrinsic knowledge of right and wrong and of one governing the universe. It makes me think you know god exists, you are just suppressing the truth.

    So, these are just a couple that I felt like were not very convincing arguments. I just didn’t have time last night to write it out.

    • I amafreeman

      Daniel, A good place to start (always) is
      “[A]t the beginning…” – sorry, couldn’t resist.

      “Perhaps even god made the universe for himself and not for humans.”

      Your bible says he created the universe (at least this part-the Earth) for humans (and many,many,many, other life forms). Do you not believe this to be true?

  • JT Eberhard

    Daniel,

    Most of this can be rebutted easily with the presumption that a god would necessarily be more clever than humans.

    If you have more, post them and I’ll do a blog ripping them up.

    JT

  • Drakk

    Huh, now they’re wording the Ultimate 747 in terms of “bags of letters”?

    Interesting.

    Daniel,

    Not chance.
    Not chance.
    NOT CHANCE.
    NOT.
    CHANCE.

    Sorry, just needed to make sure you got the right idea that everything you described is NOT CHANCE.

    Everything you described – flowers, galaxies, whatever else, is the result of a process that is NOT CHANCE, but is a deterministic process – one that is predictable and explainable in terms of simple forces. Galaxies arrange themselves in their configurations due to gravity, not some cosmical magic finger poking at stars until they behave, and certainly NOT CHANCE.

    And gravity is most certainly not random, it obeys a beautiful equation, namely Fg = Gm1m2/r^2 (in Newtonian terms. The General Relativistic formulation is far more complicated and the Newtonian form gives very good approximations for most cases).

    “Perhaps even god made the universe for himself and not for humans.”

    Then where is it? Or has this god made a universe for himself and then decided not to live in it? More “mysterious ways”?

    Oh, and where’s your proof, based on observable evidence, for this god’s existence.

    [Daniel's entire final paragraph]

    So when children do starve, that’s “god’s plan”, right? And it must be a good thing, because goddidit, right? If so, screw god.

    Let’s put to you a little bit of logical reasoning. Religious people believe that morality comes from god, and atheists accept the scientific view that morality comes from the self, being the product of evolution and selection for behaviours that were conducive to the survival and flourishing of the species.

    Now, how does god know what morals to give to humans? If they come from a source other than him, god is not omniscient or omnipotent, because he needs another source to give him his morality. Where does that source get its morality? By the same token, a source other than him, and we have an infinite regress which cannot be suitably terminated in anything but an arbitrary way.

    If god knew by himself what morals to give humanity, then god is an atheist. If atheism is good enough for god, it is good enough for me. In addition, if you can allow some entity (god) to be the originator of his own morality, why can humans not be the originators of their own?

    On a wild guess I’m going to say you’re probably christian or another abrahamic faith. The greek philosophers predate christ and they all had morality pretty much figured out. Wonder how that happened?

  • Daniel

    JT, you sound like a fundamentalist that is not open to reason. No matter what I say, you already have in mind that it is complete nonsense. Your smug comment makes it look like you’ve become what you hate from people who believe in god. I don’t think I will write any more until you can respond to what I’ve written above. Maybe you are just looking to win a debate rather than being serious at reasoning.

  • DWat

    Daniel, everything you say is complete nonsense. If you can’t provide any positive evidence for what your God is (besides, apparently, that he starves children to prove his existence, and the universe is really hard to explain therefore goddidit), you can’t possibly say that JT has it wrong or that you have it right. JT’s version of God (which is pretty standard for Christians) is just in his head, just like yours, and just like everyone else’s. If the people who claim something exists provide contradicting definitions that are always incoherent, and have no evidence, why should the rest of us waste time responding to each believer’s personally handcrafted imagination?

    Plus, your whole “starving children prove God” thing doesn’t hold water, since most of us let other people’s children, especially foreigners, starve while happily going on with our lives. According to your logic, this indicates that there is no one governing the universe, since we clearly don’t know right from wrong.

    Also, I happen to know that God wouldn’t have allowed Queen to rock, therefore my ability to tell that Queen rocks shows that I have an intrinsic knowledge of rocking, not rocking, and the nonexistence of God.

  • Daniel

    DWat, if everything I wrote was complete nonsense, you should have stopped at that sentence, but sense you went further, I now know that you know it was not. Just stating something is complete nonsense doesn’t make your argument any stronger. For the future, don’t write those things b/c when you do, it makes you look less credible. (that tip was free)

    Now, trying to find god, like any other object on earth is not right. It would be like Hamlet searching his castle to find Shakespeare. we know god to the degree he(the author) chooses to put information about himself. trying to prove god’s existence in a lab like he were an object apart of the universe will not work.

    In regards to suffering & evil, neither you nor Drakk really stated anything new. And both did not answer my question, “by what standard are you saying something is evil or suffering is bad?” Your argument against god is that the universe seems so cruel and unjust that an omnipotent god can’t possibly exist. But where do you get the idea of just and unjust? What are comparing the universe with when you call it unjust?

    You believe that children ought not to suffer, but the evolutionary mechanism of natural selection functions on death and violence against the weak—which is perfectly natural. On what basis does an atheist judge the natural world to be wrong and unjust? As an atheist, you don’t have a good basis for being outraged at injustice. If you believe this world does have injustice, then you assume there is a standard.

    If we were all created by chance and random force, there is no place of genuine moral obligation. You can try to play make believe and say “morality comes from self”, but that argument always falls through. Some cultures believe it is an acceptable thing to suppress and abuse women. Some cultures believe it is a bad thing to abuse women. Which one is right?

    If you believe someone in the world is doing something they should stop doing no matter what they believe about the correctness of their behavior, then you believe in a moral reality that is not defined by self…that must be followed regardless of what that person thinks.

    • I amafreeman

      I know evil and suffering when I see it; that is good enough for me. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a “god” to make me aware. Show a monkey raised in captivity with no access to snakes and then show it EVEN a picture of a snake and it goes ape-shit. Not saying snakes are “evil”, or evil in the sense of the conversation, but it sure is evil from the monkey’s perspective of living or dying.

  • Gordon

    Oh Daniel! – “As an atheist, you don’t have a good basis for being outraged at injustice.” – wrong

    we have a conscience, we know we are social creatures, evolved to live and thrive as part of a group. You calling this “make believe” is just crazy.

    On the other hand, someone who accepts the bible and believes morality “comes from god” has no basis for being outrafed at injustice, since their god may command that injustice (genocide, rape, the slaughter of your own child) at any time.

  • Drakk

    “Now, trying to find god, like any other object on earth is not right. It would be like Hamlet searching his castle to find Shakespeare. we know god to the degree he(the author) chooses to put information about himself. trying to prove god’s existence in a lab like he were an object apart of the universe will not work.”

    Guess what? Shakespeare doesn’t exist in Hamlet’s castle, or in Hamlet’s lands, or anywhere else within the fictional universe Hamlet resides in. An apt metaphor.

    Where is your EVIDENCE. On what grounds do you say we can find god this way but not that way, and that other way doesn’t work, or whatnot. Where are your FACTS, your OBSERVATIONS of OBJECTIVE REALITY. Bible quotes do not qualify.

    And I notice you’re still spouting that chance and randomness crap. How intellectually dishonest of you, even after an actual explanation has been given to you.

  • JT Eberhard

    Daniel,

    Oh man…your ass is mine in a blog post sometime this coming week.

    JT

  • Daniel

    Drakk, your explanation of chance did not deal with the origin of all things. You merely explained that things function according to the laws of physics, which we all know. So, I chose to ignore that. However, I will now add this thought: Can you do a science experiment showing how random chaos creates order? Then show that it is repeatable. If so, please make a youtube video and post the link.

    JT, your confidence is overwhelmingly intimidating.

  • Daniel

    Gordon, you are nothing more than a glorified ape, that has an opinion on how you think people should act. Your standard is self. Why does your opinion hold more water than any other person. Are you an elitist? The Guarani of South America think it is perfectly ethical to kill children born with a disability. Is this injustice or natural selection? If it is unjust, why? Their ethics are based on self. According to your worldview, you and the Guarani people are nothing more than glorified apes…which ape’s opinion of ethics is more correct? Would you say you are more evolved than the Guarani?

  • Drakk

    “Drakk, your explanation of chance did not deal with the origin of all things.”

    Oh really? I explained a method by which a distribution of particulate matter, such as a nebula or accretion disk, may slowly become a body such as a star or planet, namely that this process occurs because the particles in the accretion disk mutually attract one another due to gravitational forces between them. This process is responsible for the formation of the sun and the planets of the solar system. It is due to GRAVITY, not cosmic-fingerpoking.

    “You merely explained that things function according to the laws of physics, which we all know.”

    Unless you are Daniel, evidently.

    “So, I chose to ignore that.”

    As you do other evidence that contradicts your worldview. But now we digress.

    “However, I will now add this thought: Can you do a science experiment showing how random chaos creates order? Then show that it is repeatable. If so, please make a youtube video and post the link.”

    You poor fool. Second Law of Thermodynamics: The entropy of any closed system tends towards a maximum. Entropy is the energy in a system that is not available for useful work. If you have ice in a glass of warm water, there is initially a temperature gradient and therefore a flow of heat from which you can extract work. The heat eventually spreads out and becomes uniform in the glass, at which point there is no more temperature gradient and you cannot extract any more work from the system, even though there is the same amount of energy in the system.

    When planets coalesce from disks of particulate matter, they release gravitational potential energy as heat. This heat escapes into the rest of the universe, much like the heat of the water flows into the cold reservoir which is the ice, raising its temperature. Similarly, the formation of a planet releases heat into the universe, warming it – and as in the case of the glass, reducing the temperature gradient. There is now less energy in the universe that can be used for useful work.

    Things form in space because it is thermodynamically favourable. Cosmic-fingerpoking is not required.

  • Daniel

    drakkula, i may be a poor fool indeed, but you still didn’t hit on the origin of all things. You started with a nebula or accretion disk. Where did the nebula come from, that you say(and taught us)-eventually created our sun, planet, and i assume all forms of life? I appreciated you taking the time to write out such a detailed response. You are definitely a smart guy (or at least seem to be). So props. But let’s start with the very, very beginning. tchau

  • Gordon

    “Gordon, you are nothing more than a glorified ape”

    Daniel – I’m not even glorified, I’m nothing more than an ape. You see, that’s not an insult. I know you meant it as one, but you are mistaken. I’ve no problem owning up to being an ape, a mammal, or a tetrapod.

  • Daniel

    Gordon, i did not mean it as an insult. Apologies if you took it as one. I was just using the logic of evolution in that wording.

  • DWat

    Daniel,

    I didn’t argue that the universe is unjust, why would I argue that? The universe just is, and having empathy with starving people requires nothing more than a brain.

    What I actually argued is that morality is relative, and that people don’t act in a consistent matter in regard to right and wrong. There is no intrinsic right and wrong. I might believe that people should do whatever they can to minimize starvation at an individual level, and that to do otherwise is wrong, or I might believe that the problem is too large for individual action but should be collectively addressed by wealthy nations, or I might believe that poverty is a moral failing, and thus it is wrong to take collective, or even individual, anti-poverty action if it requires wealthier people to have money “stolen” from them. There is a rather successful strain of the last in American politics, and while I consider it wrong, even bordering on evil, others have no problem with it or consider it right. One finds similar contradictory notions of morality over a wide range of topics, rendering your “intrinsic morality” God logically incoherent.

    I also argued that assigning arbitrary opinions to an imaginary being is a pointless activity without a workable definition of the being, and one can assign properties to undetectable beings that both do and don’t jive with reality. So if you want to be taken seriously, as opposed to someone who just assigns his personal morality to his personal imaginary friend, you should start by providing a testable definition of this being, and expalin how you determined that this being confirms to your definition of it instead of JT’s. I realize that you are hiding behind the assertion that God isn’t testable because he doesn’t exist, but you’re also claiming that God monkeys around in my brain, producing electrical impulses which cause me to think unhappy thoughts about starving children – a testable and easily refutable claim. Which is it?

  • Daniel

    DWat, your final paragraph was truly dizzying. I’m not hiding behind anything. But I do think it is laughable that people would like to put god under a microscope in lab and if they can’t…well then he doesn’t exist.

    Next, maybe if we met in person, I could smack you in the face. Then I would ask you if morality is still relative. To me, there is nothing wrong with smacking people in the face. Who are you to tell me that smacking people in the face is wrong?

    So, to clarify, are you saying there is no suffering and evil in our world? If you believe there are things in the world that are evil, please list a few. tchau

  • Drakk

    “Where did the nebula come from, that you say(and taught us)-eventually created our sun, planet, and i assume all forms of life?”

    Fire up your favourite particle accelerator and perform a high energy collision. For simplicity (ha!) we will assume you are performing a matter-antimatter collision. Doing so annihilates both particles into energy by the relation E=mc^2 (and also E = hf, but the specifics of this are unimportant and beyond my capabilities).

    Curiously, that energy is then able to – and does – “condense” back into mass.

    If we accept the notion that energy of its own accord can form mass, then if we propose an initial state of the universe being a large amount of energy compressed into a small space (which there is evidence for as well, ref. cosmic microwave background radiation and universal expansion), it is not inconceivable that some of that energy may have “condensed” into the mass we are familiar with.

    You will now ask where this energy comes from. This I cannot answer, because I do not know. But you will claim that it is a god who causes this to happen.

    Firstly I ask you to offer evidence – hard evidence, not hypotheses backed by (il)logical arguments – that this is so, as I would ask any other scientist who proposed a view contra to the scientific consensus of the time.

    Secondly, I would guess your reasoning for invoking a god-entity would be some deeply seated notion that something cannot be created from nothing. Where then did your god come from? If it was itself created by another entity, then that entity’s origins are similarly questionable, perhaps itself being created by another entity, and again we reach an infinite regress which we cannot terminate in a non-arbitrary way.

    Perhaps you choose to terminate it by saying that somewhere along the n god-entities, one of them created itself or formed from nothing. But this contradicts the original proposition that something cannot be created from nothing. If you can – arbitrarily mind you, since evidence for doing so is scant – assign this property to some entity among the n, there is nothing to stop me from making all the entities in the line redundant by simply saying that the universe itself came from nothing or created itself. This, in fact, would be in line with the preference of science, the lex parsimoniae, commonly known as Occam’s Razor – “When faced with a choice of hypotheses which explain the data equally well, select the one which makes the fewest assumptions.”

    This of course “doesn’t prove god *doesn’t* exist!” as the original post exhorts, paraphrased. For that I turn to history and watch how phenomena which were once “explained” by supernatural means, such as fire, lightning, the rising of the sun and movement of celestial bodies, are now found to be explained by purely naturalistic processes. If lightning is not Thor throwing spears of electricity at the ground but a case of simple physics, then the creation of the universe and all its energy is likely not to be a case of God the Great Heat Pump in the Sky causing energy to flow into the universe (speaking of which, energy from where?), but a matter of (perhaps less simple) physics.

    Similarly we have historically gone from several gods to few (at all points the adherents claiming to be of the One True Faith mind you). From this trend of less and less phenomena being due to god, as well as inconsistent logic regarding the common god of today, I am inclined to think that NO phenomena is due to god, and therefore god is useless. I have no need of useless entities, and will simply remove them from my theories in accordance with the lex parsimoniae.

  • Gordon

    Daniel I specifically said that while creationists like to use ape as an insult they were mistaken. So I was not isulted. I am an ape. What I am not is a filthy unworthy sinner created from dust by a genocidal tyrant. Now that would be an insult.

    Funnily enough they/you don’t use dust in the same way. Life can’t come form non-life, unless it is dust and pixie powder.

    It is hard to accept that you, or any person, could really hold these crazy positions.

    The fact is that there are naturalistic explainations everything. Every time something we didn’t understand is explained that answer does not rely on magic. The gaps where your all powerful god can hide are, by now, very small indeed.

    I’m certain that for every one of your challenges you’ve heard an answer many many times. The fact that you ignore the answers does’t mean they are not there. Claiming “you can’t explain that” is dishonest.

    Your conscience “question” for example, is “tides come in, tides go out” kind of stuff. “How could the evolution of a social creature possibly account for the conscience?” you seem to ask, “what possible survival value could helping each other out have?”

    Do you see how crazy that sounds as a question? And thats before we mention that there’s an invisible magic man in the sky and he’s going to make you an offer you can’t refuse.

    Morality, literally, cannot come from a god. It cannot be dictated without being completely arbitrary. But that’s another thing you must have heard, and ignored, over and over again.

    • I amafreeman

      Thanks for the logical chuckle; I need one after reading so much physics and logic so early(for me today)in the morn. I now have many things upon which to contemplate while doing my manual chores; providing myslef and others with fruit from “god’s” trees that I spend all year working on by myself – went to the unemployment bureau looking for help and asked if there was a guy named god there as I had heard he was a miraculous worker, but he was nowhere to be found.Oh well, guess I’ll just have to feed “the people” by myself….

  • Daniel

    Drakk, you said “You will now ask where this energy comes from. This I cannot answer, because I do not know.” You were right. I would have asked that. Then you went on to say, “Firstly I ask you to offer evidence – hard evidence, not hypotheses backed by (il)logical arguments”

    So, you don’t know how things started, yet you stick with your hypothesis…but you want me to give you hard evidence and if I can’t, then everything that follows is illogical. Your reasoning doesn’t make sense.

    Second, it is a simple notion that god has always existed and was not created. You may not believe that, but it should not be too difficult for you to understand that hypothesis. Good grief, you’ve laid a ton of difficult things that even included thermodynamics. This should not be a difficult concept for you.

    Also, be careful not lump all believers in god into the “inconsistent logic” club. I surely could say the same of atheists. As I have already demonstrated by asking questions that still have yet to be answered…only with people answering by saying I’m a fool or talking around the issue and never getting to the point. Perhaps JT will get to one of the points in a blog next week (where he is suppose to kick my ass).

    Gordon, you said, “The fact is that there are naturalistic explainations everything.” No, Drakk just admitted he doesn’t know the origin of all things. And if Drakk doesn’t know. Then none of us know.

    You said, “The fact that you ignore the answers does’t mean they are not there.” I’m not ignoring anything. I really do like to reason and hear why people believe what they believe. Just because someone doesn’t believe in god doesn’t mean they are an idiot. Most atheists are fun to chat with b/c they have really thought a lot about life.

    Gordon, you went on to say “you seem to ask, “what possible survival value could helping each other out have?” Then followed it with, “Do you see how crazy that sounds as a question?”—Dude you are putting words in my mouth then calling it crazy, and that makes reasoning with you not cool.

    Lastly, you said, “Morality, literally, cannot come from a god.” Why? It is not a hard concept. God creates and sets parameters. God’s morals would have to be final, not up for discussion. However, if self is the dictator of morals, then we have problems, which I have already addressed in previous posts. (And I will probably have to address again b/c it has been danced around over and over again by everyone on this thread.)

    tchau

  • Daniel

    guys, this has been fun. i enjoy reasoning and find that some of you have really thought deeply about some of these things. i’ve been challenged and enjoyed thinking and responding. perhaps we can continue on another thread.

  • Drakk

    “So, you don’t know how things started, yet you stick with your hypothesis…but you want me to give you hard evidence and if I can’t, then everything that follows is illogical. Your reasoning doesn’t make sense.”

    “A magic man in the sky did it” is not the null hypothesis. It does not follow Occam’s Razor. Let me repeat, I will NOT prefer a more complicated solution when a simpler one will explain the data just as well. I am not going to default to “goddidit” for everything I don’t know.

    AGAIN, what you propose is contra to the scientific consensus, and as such, requires evidence in support of it, or at least some form of prediction based on your model that we can observe to occur or not occur.

    “Second, it is a simple notion that god has always existed and was not created. You may not believe that, but it should not be too difficult for you to understand that hypothesis. Good grief, you’ve laid a ton of difficult things that even included thermodynamics. This should not be a difficult concept for you.”

    Bullshit. If it’s possible for something to exist and not be created, then the energy of the universe was always there and not created, and god is unnecessary. Of course I understand the hypothesis, just as I understand the hypotheses of phlogiston theory or the luminiferous aether. That doesn’t stop both of those from being utterly wrong.

    “Gordon, you said, “The fact is that there are naturalistic explainations everything.” No, Drakk just admitted he doesn’t know the origin of all things. And if Drakk doesn’t know. Then none of us know.”

    What the-

    You think I, whose best efforts at understanding the world are mirrored by what I write here, represent the pinnacle of scientific knowledge? I am ONE scientist, and a student at that, far lesser than the giants on whose shoulders I stand. Everything I have written is not my unique insight, it comes from knowledge that has taken millennia of effort to acquire.

    Have you read any science books? Hawking, perhaps? Or are you content to regard what I can tell you as the highest standard any scientist can know, and thus demean the likes of Einstein, Feynman, Pauli and Dirac to the level of myself?

    When I say “I do not know” I mean “this is something I will have to research”. I do not throw away all curiosity and go “Eh, goddidit”. Someone in the world probably does know, or has a coherent hypothesis backed by evidence at least.

    More than I can say for you.

  • Gordon

    “Gordon, you said, “The fact is that there are naturalistic explainations everything.” No, Drakk just admitted he doesn’t know the origin of all things. And if Drakk doesn’t know. Then none of us know.”

    Drakk addressed this one. There are plenty of thigs I or Drakk or you do not know.

    “Gordon, you went on to say “you seem to ask, “what possible survival value could helping each other out have?” Then followed it with, “Do you see how crazy that sounds as a question?”—Dude you are putting words in my mouth then calling it crazy, and that makes reasoning with you not cool.”

    sorry, all I was doing was paraphrasing. The words I put in your mouth are how your position from your coments came across to me. You seem to ask where morality comes from in the absence of a god. I put it in stark terms to show you where I see the problem with the question.

    “Lastly, you said, “Morality, literally, cannot come from a god.” Why? It is not a hard concept. God creates and sets parameters. God’s morals would have to be final, not up for discussion.”

    Ok, I hope you have heard of the Euthyphro Dilema. If morality is thought to come from a god it is arbitrary. The god can command or do anything. In fact what you describe (directly quoted) shows the nature of “divine command morailty.” It cannot fairly be called morality at all.

    I agree it is not a hard concept. Morality cannot come from a god.

  • B-Lar

    This thread is about the fact that the faithful use bastardised logic to turn the burden of proof around. Surely its best to fall back into the position of assuming that there is no God and let him flap?

    Initial comments about a God who allows suffering might seem to be an excellent place to begin an argument against an “all loving Gawd” but actually allow the faithful to get a toe in the door because you begin with the assumption that God might exist and a hypothesis about his mindset.

    God doesnt exist except in the minds of men.

    Any argument that features God anywhere in it is irrelevant because it is not based in reality.

    Theorising about what a wo/mans beliefs in a god might have on his mindset and surroundings though… Totally open season.

  • Daniel

    I suppose the thread continues…

    DWat, you never answered my question: So, to clarify, are you saying there is no suffering and evil in our world? If you believe there are things in the world that are evil, please list a few.

    Gordon, you never answered my questions: “The Guarani of South America think it is perfectly ethical to kill children born with a disability. Is this injustice or natural selection? If it is unjust, why? Their ethics are based on self. According to your worldview, you and the Guarani people are nothing more than glorified apes…which ape’s opinion of ethics is more correct? Would you say you are more evolved than the Guarani?”

    B-Lar, if any argument that features god anywhere is irrelevant, then why would you join the discussion? You have knowingly just joined a conversation that is not based on reality which makes you just as ridiculous as you think believers in gawd are. However, it is a relevant argument, that is why you felt the need to add your opinion. tchau

  • Drakk

    “B-Lar, if any argument that features god anywhere is irrelevant, then why would you join the discussion? You have knowingly just joined a conversation that is not based on reality which makes you just as ridiculous as you think believers in gawd are. However, it is a relevant argument, that is why you felt the need to add your opinion. tchau”

    Actually, it’s more to do with the fact that we as rational people don’t like to see people falling victim to irrationality. If I had a friend who believed in leprechauns despite all evidence to the contrary, I would attempt to show him/her the incoherence of their position. Same with you.

    You’re welcome, by the way.

  • Gordon

    Sorry, I didn’t think that was a serious question. I still don’t.

    I’m not more evolved than my own species. This isn’t an X Men comic!

    The idea of killing children makes me uncomfortable, but you knew it would. So you weren’t really asking “are you ok with killing children” were you…? It seems silly to answer such an obvious question given we both know the answer.

    I can only assume you are trying to set up a false dichotomy between complete moral relativism where anything goes and a divinely dictated morality. Interestingly you favour the divine dictate of a god who in his own book commanded the killing of children on more than one occassion. Sometimes he had a father be the instrument of death, sometimes bears, sometimes an angel, and sometimes an invading army.

    Believers sometimes say that without god anything is permitted, but it really seems like it is the other way around. God can command *anything* and is willing to forgive *anything*. That’s not too moral sounding.

  • Daniel

    Drakkula, the idea of an intelligent designer is not the same as belief in leprechauns. Some of the most intelligent/helpful people our world has had were theists. I could start listing them. And your saying these people are complete imbeciles and you are their superior. Please. Let’s not amuse ourselves with this notion that belief in an intelligent designer is the same as believing in leprechauns. That kind of talk lines you up with the christian who says he knows god is real b/c he felt god in his heart. Surely you can reason better than that.

    Gordon, i’m driving the logical argument of moral relativity to the end. The scenario I gave you is real. This is not a false reality. Because, logically, you have no good response, you try to squash the reasoning by calling it a false dichotomy. For me and I’m sure other people thinking about this– your claim of false dichotomy is weak and just not good enough.
    Secondly, you try to go back to indicting god for being immoral. Based on your understanding of the world, how can you indict god for anything wrong? However, what you are calling evil is based on a standard. And I think you are using the standard that comes from god (thou shall not kill)–in order to indict god. If there is a standard of justice then you have reason to be upset at injustice. When morals are relative and the mechanism of natural selection functions on death of the weaker—how can you call anything unjust or not good. Atheism is too simple.

  • Gordon

    No.

    You are assigning opinions to me.

    I mention that biblical morals (and dictated morals in general) are de facto relative so you try to pin relativism on me. It is rather like when someone claims “it takes more faith to be an atheist” or any of the other claims that turn reality on its head.

    I’ll say it again. If god is the source of your morality then your morality is arbitrary, relative, and unworthy of the name.

    I do not use standards that come from your god. Partly because, as I’ve made clear I don’t think morality can be dictated without being meaningless. partly vecause your god doesn’t exist, and partly because the god character is immoral.

    I use standards that come from being a social creature.

  • Daniel

    Gordon, we’ve gone full circle. If each person has their own standard, then morals are relative. No one is more correct than the other. If god is the source of morality, then that is the standard…it is not arbitrary. This is a simple concept. I’m really not following your line of reasoning.

    Try listening to this by Sam Harris. Although his logic still falls through, it is the best science can come up with in regards to moral standards: http://www.ted.com/talks/sam_harris_science_can_show_what_s_right.html

  • Gordon

    Because your god’s standards are arbitrary. You said so yourself!

    “God’s morals would have to be final, not up for discussion” – Daniel

    So how can we call them morals? And how can “Do not kill” and “Kill people for doing this, that or the other” be commanded by the same god as a moral standard without being inconsistent? Can god command genocide, rape, child sacrifice, sentence people to hell, drown the world and still be called good? If it is not up for discussion then why call him good? If we cannot understand his “morality” then how can it be a guide to us?

    You’ve created a position for me that sounds a whole lot more like the poition you are in. A position where morality is arbitrary, meaningless, inconsistent and subject to whim. That’s the religious poition, not the naturalistic one.

  • Drakk

    “[Drakk], the idea of an intelligent designer is not the same as belief in leprechauns.”

    [citation needed]

    “Some of the most intelligent/helpful people our world has had were theists.”

    That doesn’t make theism right, it makes those people intelligent and helpful. Most of the people you would care to name probably come from a time when no logical alternative could accurately be formulated, because they did not have an understanding of the principles of quantum physics, thermodynamics and relativity which I have used above. Not to mention the church was fond of brutally torturing heretics of all sorts in those days.

    The ancient Egyptians made marvels of engineering, technology and writing. They were still completely wrong in thinking Ra moved the sun across the sky.

    The ancient Greeks were brilliant philosophers, mathematicians and scientists. They were still completely wrong to think lightning was caused by Zeus throwing thunderbolts at the ground.

    John Travolta is a…well, decent actor at least, but he is completely wrong to think that negative emotions are the result of Xenu throwing billions of people into a volcano and then blowing said volcano up with nuclear weapons…or whatever it is those people think…

    By the same token, Euler was a mathematical genius without equal. He was still completely wrong to think that the universe originated due to the direct actions of an intelligent designer.

    “And your saying these people are complete imbeciles and you are their superior.”

    “Complete” imbeciles? Let us not put up straw men. Newton believed in (some kind of) god, and I do not consider myself a better scientist than him. I simply hold that he was wrong in that regard, the same as the ancient Greeks, Egyptians and other civilizations were. Holding one false belief does not make you a complete imbecile, it makes you wrong, and for that matter only wrong about that one thing. Compartmentalize, please.

    “Please. Let’s not amuse ourselves with this notion that belief in an intelligent designer is the same as believing in leprechauns.”

    Given equal amounts of evidence for both, I would say these two hypotheses are of equal merit, that is to say none at all. An intelligent designer is not a necessary or useful hypothesis. As Wolfgang Pauli once said “This is so bad, not only is it not right, it is not even wrong.” “Not even wrong” refers to a theory that cannot be falsified, which is YOUR claim, that we can’t put god under a microscope. Any observations which might contradict the predictions of your hypotheis (are there any?) can be handwaved as goddidit that way.

    I have no use for hypotheses which cannot be falsified, because we cannot then say “It definitely does not happen this way”. Intelligent design as a scientific hypothesis is not just wrong, it is useless. It makes no predictions. If I ask you “Based on the principles of your hypothesis, what will I observe when I collide these particles at this energy level” and your prediction will be “Uhh…”


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