Internet evangelism day and an argument that needs to fucking die already

Yesterday was internet evangelism day.  Nobody decided to come play with me, but someone did decide to go play with my father.

The believer expressed skepticism that anybody had ever lost their job after being outed as an atheist.  My father responded with several examples (including one where he personally lost a job for being an atheist).  The believer responded with…

All those things you listed are horrible and should not have happened. However, I still maintain that to place the blame on “religion” is also wrong. I got to thinking about this some more, and I started remembering stories of people going to away games for their home sports team’s games, and expressing their nervousness when they are heavily outnumbered. There have even been assaults against sports fans, simply because they were of the wrong team. ‘T’ain’t religion, my friend. ‘T’ain’t religion.

Dad responded…

The story I was told is that religion is supposed to make folks more moral. A lot of times, the story is that morality is impossible without gods. But, here you are telling me the religious are guilty, that their excuse for their actions is their religion or their god, but that their religion isn’t culpable. If you want to agree it is religious people doing bad things and using their religion to justify it, I’m good with that. However, if you do go that way, you can’t use good works to promote religion, because that sword cuts two ways: both religious and non-religious do good things and good works, are charitable, etc., and that is just being folks.’T’ain’t religion, my friend. ‘T’ain’t religion.

The man’s good.  Now that that’s out of the way, here’s the argument that needs to die.  The believer said…

I would have to be brainwashed to become an atheist, because the single most illogical idea I know – even more illogical than the Flying Spaghetti Monster – is “no god required”.

Oh boy…

Let’s forget for a moment which side uses brainwashing of the young as its primary means to spread its ideas (hint: not atheists) and focus on why the believer thinks atheism is illogical.

Your three general options are “matter/energy poofed into existence (crap), matter/energy are just simply eternal for some reason (um…), or there is a supernatural creator of nature (ding!).

He left something off the last sentence.  It should read, “or there is a supernatural creator of nature…who just poofed into existence or is just simply eternal for some reason.”  This is what drives me up a tree about theists.  They want to use a standard to dismiss the other side after they declare themselves immune to it, and still want to insist their position is bound by reason.  It’s very disingenuous.

And what’s more, when will theists get around to why nothing is a more natural state of existence than things existing?  This is their premise.  They need to defend it.

We live in a universe where things move from simple to complex all by themselves.  Simple clouds of hydrogen collapse to become stars, life evolves from a self-replicating molecule to more complex forms.  It’s that way everywhere.  Literally everything we have explained has been found to be the result of natural forces.  Not some of it – all of it.

So either matter and the laws of physics existed forever or spontaneously sprang into existence (which happens on the quantum level, this is why we have developed an understanding of probability fields), or god existed forever or spontaneously sprang into existence.  In either case, why is god more likely?  In the first case, we don’t need a god, and the organization of the universe looks like it was driven by natural forces, not by intelligence.

In the latter case, it works against the way the universe develops order.  For instance, brains are comprised of heavier elements created in the hearts of stars over time.  It makes no sense to think a mind could exist without those elements, so it makes no sense to believe a mind could exist before stars.  If believers think a bodiless mind can exist, they should be expected to provide some evidence for it, not just say that science doesn’t explain everything so we can break whatever logical rules we feel like.

Another chimed in later.

The harder part to imagine is that it was all chance. It would be like a tornado hitting a Boeing warehouse and leaving a fully functional 747 in its wake.

Ok, let’s ignore the lame 747 argument.  I seriously thought that thing died ages ago.

Let’s focus on the idea that it’s hard to believe that existence is a matter of chance, because I hear that one from everyday believers all the time.

First, let’s look at how silly that argument is on its face.  Just because you don’t know how something could happen via chance does not, at all, in any sense, mean that you know how it happened and, don’t ya know, it was god.  What’s more, if it’s so complex that it had to be created by something, you don’t get to turn around immediately and say, “Its creator must have been something even more complex, but that complexity didn’t need to be created!”  Either complexity requires design or it doesn’t.  Pick one.

Second, what would the universe look like if, say, the rise of life occurred via chance?  Admittedly, the odds of life arising through chance are very small (though certainly not non-zero).  So what would the universe need to look life for something improbable, like life, to occur?

Consider the concept of the lottery.  Let’s say the odds of winning are one in a million.  Yet people win the lottery all the time.  Why?  Because one million people are playing.  If one million people play, you should expect the improbable to occur.  If two million people play, you should expect the improbable to occur twice!

So for atheism to be true, the only universe we could possibly find ourselves in is a very old universe with lots of matter, so lots of “lottery tickets” would exist for the rise of life.  Of course, this is the universe we find ourselves in.

But god doesn’t need any of that.  He doesn’t need a universe where the laws of nature produce order all by themselves.  He didn’t need to waste almost the entire sum of the universe’s matter on other stars and galaxies in a universe that is 99.999999999999999999999999999999999999% (and then some) lethal to life.  The only reason he would make a universe this way is if he was trying to create a universe that looked exactly like a universe in which there was no god.

Then the original believer came back.

I don’t buy that atoms and energy can just have always been hanging around for whatever reason, no. Not without a huge dose of evidence.

The simplest pieces of the universe existing for no reason?  Can’t buy it.

But an infinitely complex being existing for no reason?  Sounds legit.

He continues…

And the reason I can accept a supernatural creator more easily is the fact that I would not expect a supernatural anything to have to follow the rules I hold nature to. An eternal supernatural thing, I can grasp. An eternal natural thing, I can’t.

He can grasp an eternal thing.  Why does that eternal thing have to be supernatural?  Since nothing supernatural has ever been confirmed and natural things are, literally, everywhere, why is supernatural more graspable?

This is the first cause argument as I hear it 90% of the time.  It needs to die a quick and bloody death.  It’s a silly false dichotomy.

If you go by their logic, if something appears impossible given our present understanding of how nature works, it must be something that breaks the rules of nature.  They leave out another option: our understanding of how nature works is incomplete.  It is.  It’s why scientists still show up for work.  But for some reason they want to throw away the idea that the universe is bound by rules despite the historical trend in discovered knowledge, which I don’t think they’d be doing if not for the need to rationalize belief in god.

Here is a cartoon I made to show why I want to vomit blood every time a theist presents this argument.

It’s an argument from ignorance, pure and simple.  It’s the same as saying, “Shit, I don’t know how this works!  Fuck it, it must be magic because I can understand that.”  As Einstein said, “A man should look for what is, not what he thinks should be.”

These types of arguments are the best religion has to offer.  It’s both depressing and unsurprising that the best religion has to offer is simultaneously an affront to humanity’s potential.

  • rachelanderson

    The other thing that eludes most theistic arguments — when you run “probability” arguments on the universe, you’re dealing with infinity. No matter how improbable something might be, when you’re dealing with infinity, it can happen.

    • Makoto

      And the reverse – “it’s amazing what people try to prove with a sample size of one”. Yes, life developed here. That doesn’t mean that our type of life is the only life, or that other worlds like ours don’t exist, or that other worlds not like ours couldn’t have life…

      • justsomeguy

        And let’s not neglect to throw the anthropic principle into the mix here.

        Summed up (plagiarized directly from Wikipedia): only in a universe capable of eventually supporting life will there be living beings capable of observing any such fine tuning, while a universe less compatible with life will go unbeheld.

  • Sandro

    “We live in a universe where things move from simple to complex all by themselves. Simple clouds of hydrogen collapse to become stars, life evolves from a self-replicating molecule to more complex forms. It’s that way everywhere.”

    I think you confuse metaphysics for science. The “all by themselves” part is a metaphysical assumption, not a genuine scientific conclusion. Science tells us only that things move in a certain way. It can’t tell us whether they do so “on their own” as opposed to being moved by another.

    • interrobang

      It’s not a metaphysical argument at all. It’s strictly and purely a physical argument. There is NO EVIDENCE that anything is moving anything else.

      Until you come up with that evidence (and no, your holy book of choice doesn’t qualify), the NO EVIDENCE part stands.

      Fish or cut bait. Shit or get off the pot. Put up or shut up.

    • sqlrob

      Are these behavior consistent with physical rules? Yup.

      Provide evidence of the external cause.

    • Kevin

      Um. No.

      I’ll add to the dog pile.

      It’s not a metaphysical argument. It’s physics. Proven over and over and over and over again.

      • Sandro

        Yeah you don’t get it. Yes, it’s “physics” but nothing in physics means “these things move all by themselves.” You are importing your metaphysics into science. Think about it.

  • Steerpike

    Sandro quibbles that your definition of “all by themselves” doesn’t account for a magical, invisible non-corporeal, transcendent superbeing moving things in special, undetectable ways, and then accuses YOU of drifting into metaphysics.

    That’s so rich it makes Romney look poor…

  • http://iamaperture.wordpress.com Zinc Avenger

    I don’t understand how magnets work. Checkmate!

  • Anonymous
  • https://twitter.com/#!/Erulora Erulóra Maikalambe

    And the reason I can accept a supernatural creator more easily is the fact that I would not expect a supernatural anything to have to follow the rules I hold nature to.

    Textbook case of special pleading.

  • notscarlettohara

    Slightly off-topic, but I have the exact same reaction when reading bad sci-fi/fantasy, but in reverse. For example, I want to vomit blood every time someone tries to scientifically explain vampires. They don’t exist, they can’t exist, and any “explanation” you could possibly come up with would be so ridiculous that any suspension of disbelief I might have had is now totally destroyed, so call it magic and MOVE ON!

    • sqlrob

      I don’t know, it can be fun if done right.

      There was a werewolf story I read a long while ago that silver was an inhibitor of the enzyme that helped with the body modifications.

  • Chad

    And you ended it with my new favorite ecard. WIN!

  • Anteprepro

    Ok, let’s ignore the lame 747 argument. I seriously thought that thing died ages ago.

    I expected better of you, JT. You should know that all religious apologetics are lame arguments that should have rightfully died immediately after they were first uttered. Yet they propagate anyway, despite their obvious inanity, in much the same way that religion itself does. They are zombie arguments that, even if they seem dead, will rise again. For as long as there are people who have non-rational incentives to believe that this transparent bullshit is actually compelling.

  • R Johnston

    I’ve got to say, you’re way too nice to the poor schmuck. Here’s where:

    or there is a supernatural creator of nature (ding!)

    The concept of the supernatural is completely incoherent gobbldygook outside the context of an admitted fiction. Something that actually exists by definition is part of nature and doesn’t violate the laws of nature. If it seems to violate the laws of nature then either your measurements are wrong or your understanding of what the laws of nature are is due for a bayesian update.

    Invoking the supernatural this way in an argument is by definition a concession of defeat and an admission to completely lacking even the slightest clue about what science and nature are.

  • Dennis

    Hi, just as an introduction I am a Geophysicist and was a student in Physics (before I changed majors) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and had Victor Stenger as a Professor for one of my 3rd year Physics classes. I hope I won’t disappoint Professor Stenger if I give a description of what it takes to have zero stuff in space. I am going to try to make this difficult topic simple and non-mathematical so it will be over simplified.

    The problem of starting out at zero, none, nada, is we have stuff called matter scattered throughout the universe, we are surrounded by it, we breath it, I am tapping on it. The first step to achieving zero stuff is to break down all matter in the universe to its most elementary sub-atomic particle (I’m not sure we know what that is). Then we spread those evenly over all space (we definitely don’t know what that is) length, width, depth.

    We must space the particles evenly as far apart as possible. Evenly is important because the goal is to reduce energy and forces to equilibrium and any two particles that are closer than others will exert more force and energy on each other than other particles spaced further apart, so particles must be precisely positioned and evenly (precisely) spaced. This is a symmetry argument, everything must be precisely symmetrical or we have differences in forces and energies and the hypothesis fails.

    Spread all sub-atomic particles across all space length, breadth, depth is to reduce all forces and energies between particles as close to zero as possible.

    The remaining problem is no matter how symmetrically we space things and how far apart we spread particles we still have residual forces and energies. So we need to invent a new particle that has the same properties energy, mass, forces, and energy, as the matter particle exactly equal and opposite of matter – anti-matter. Heard of it before? Of course but it has never been observed, only postulated as a solution to this kind of problem. Anti-matter would not interact with matter except to be exactly equal and opposite of all its properties and exactly cancel it out. If ant-matter particles and matter particles collide they eliminate each other however because energy of the system must be conserved new particles immediately appear in the system, this is Quantum Mechanics. I won’t try to explain in this discussion, but it happens and can be proven.

    Then we have to satisfy the same symmetry argument as we stated with matter. We spread anti-matter twixt and tween matter evenly spaced and across all space but evenly spaced between matter particles length, width, length of all space.

    Now we have zero. No force, no energy, no form, no function we have backed into ZERO! From where we are today with stuff.

    So why can I Confidently say that we never had zero:

    1. We have to postulate a particle that can’t be shown to exist, anti-matter. Maybe CERN will prove anti-matter, they have promised to do so. We will see.

    2. We impose so much order on the system – every thing has to be evenly spaced and symmetrical.

    3. No force exists to enforce this level of symmetry or maintain this condition. We would require the existence of a god for nothing to exist, but not for something to exist.

    4. If a god existed it would represent function, energy, and forces. The system would fail because of its existence not because it ordered anything.

    5. The existence of nothing is unstable any drift in any particle would cause the system to fail. Consider the problem of balancing a marble on a perfectly round surface (unstable), verses placing the marble in a bowl (stable).

    I don’t believe we ever had nothing because we have something and we have no evidence of nothing. When nothing fails we have The Big Suck as everything sucks together. We have evidence of a super black hole and the big bang, not the big suck.

    Just a quick aside, in either the super massive black hole or nothing hypothesis time has no meaning. If nothing can move relative to anything else time is irrelevant. If V=D/t then t=D/V so if nothing is moving time is irrelevant. This is pertinent because in a super massive black hole all space between particles is crushed out (if we had a hydrogen atom with a proton the size of a basketball we have an electron visiting some place 600 miles away, mostly space in there, same with protons and neutrons ( I call this condition a super solid, my construct); everything crushed together nothing can move. I already explained in the nothing hypothesis nothing can move relative to anything else. Both conditions could exist for ever or nanoseconds it’s irrelevant.

    Physics is cool, huh? I have read other descriptions and explanations for nothing but I like this one.

    • Anonymous
      • Snoof

        The first step to achieving zero stuff is to break down all matter in the universe to its most elementary sub-atomic particle (I’m not sure we know what that is). Then we spread those evenly over all space (we definitely don’t know what that is) length, width, depth.

        Uh… you realise “breaking it down and spreading it out” won’t actually get rid of it, right? It doesn’t matter how thinly you spread the matter, you’ve still got the same amount of mass.

        1. We have to postulate a particle that can’t be shown to exist, anti-matter. Maybe CERN will prove anti-matter, they have promised to do so. We will see.

        Anti-matter is observed _all the time_.
        Positron emission tomography is a commonly used medical imaging technique, and it relies on the production of positrons (anti-electrons) via nuclear decay.

        If V=D/t then t=D/V so if nothing is moving time is irrelevant.

        Velocity doesn’t equal distance divided by time, unless you’re talking about systems with zero net force.

        Velocity is the derivative of displacement with respect to time -

        v = ds/dt

        Also, “nothing is moving” is a physical impossibility. If an object was perfectly still, we’d know both its position and momentum exactly, violating the uncertainty principle. It’s the same reason we know nothing can actually reach 0 K. There’s always _some_ momentum in a real particle. This is the zero-point energy people talk about.

        • Dennis

          I am simply solving the equation for time if nothing can move due to forces involved time stops V=0 D=0 therfore t=0 Solve it anyway you want. Find another equation find another result. This is not hard, I don’t know the physics of super massive(supersolid) black holes I don’t think any physisist can discuss this any more intelligently withoout conjecture. we can get back to seconds after the black hole expanded but not a milisecond before, we don’t know the physicss of the super massive black hole I am just parroting what physisists have told me that the gravitational forces crushed all space out of atoms including protons and nutrons so that the smallest partices were crushed together and they were anialating each other and trying to escape but trapped. This is an unstable condition. Your thoughts?

          • Snoof

            I am simply solving the equation for time if nothing can move due to forces involved time stops V=0 D=0 therfore t=0

            Uh, no. If (as you said) t = d/v, and you set d and v both equal to zero, then t = 0/0, which is undefined. Division by zero is bad, m’kay? It’s not a meaningful result, and if you get it suggests you’re doing maths wrong, or your model is inadequate.

            Secondly, v = d/t is not universally applicable. It’s an equation for uniform motion, when an object is experiencing no net force. It’s certainly not applicable inside a black hole, where there are significant forces in play.

            Thirdly, you’re making bad assumptions, i.e. that particles don’t move inside a black hole, or that it’s even meaningful to talk about particles or motion once you’re in there.

            Fourth, your logic isn’t sound either. There’s currently a pen on my desk. It’s not moving, as far as I can see. Does that mean time isn’t passing for it?

            I don’t know the physics of super massive (supersolid) black holes I don’t think any physisist can discuss this any more intelligently withoout conjecture

            There are cosmologists and astrophysicists who do know the physics of black holes. There’s an entire branch of physical called general relativity (you may have heard of it, it was formalized by a guy named Einstein) which covers black holes and their behaviour, as well as a whole lot of fascinating and directly observable phenomena such as gravitational time dilation and gravitational lensing.

            And if it’s an equation for black holes you’re looking for, try the Schwarzschild metric.

            I am just parroting what physisists have told me that the gravitational forces crushed all space out of atoms including protons and nutrons so that the smallest partices were crushed together and they were anialating each other and trying to escape but trapped. This is an unstable condition. Your thoughts?

            I think that either the physicists you’ve been talking to are wrong, or you’ve misunderstood them. You appear to be conflating disparate objects such neutron stars, antimatter and black holes.

      • Dennis

        You realize that we have quarks and leptons and they have spin. If an up qwark and and a down quark collide in a proton they will obitherate each other but because the energy of the system must be conserved new particles imediately form. this is not anti-matter. Anti-mattr has not been observed. It is postulated to solve the problen I explained. Point me to a proof of anti matter that has evidence behind it. I can change my mind. I am 58 years old and may be behind the times.

        • Dennis

          I went to your link. Rediculus, It is psudoscience. Sorry dude that isn’t proof.

          • Snoof

            Will this satisfy you? Or this?

            If Nature won’t convince you, what publications would you accept?

        • Drakk

          This is absurd, given that protons and neutrons are composed of UUD and UDD quark triplets, respectively.

  • Tony Whittaker

    Hi JT

    Well, thanks for the mention of Internet Evangelism Day, even if you don’t like its agenda :-) (Err, I’m the coordinator of it!)

    Coupla points to make please:

    1) It is shocking that anyone should lose their job for being an atheist, or any other belief. OK, some things are incompatible. A Christian minister could reasonably be sacked for becoming an atheist – it has happened. An Christian could reasonably be sacked if she was the general secretary of Atheists for Ever. But that’s about it.

    2) I think it behoves Christians and atheists to understand that each has a credible worldview. By that, I mean that each has cogent and rational arguments for their positions. Each may disagree strongly, but the arguments are there on both sides. Dishonest or exaggerated weak arguments help neither side. I have seen supposed arguments by both sides which are so ridiculous and weak as to be laughable, undebatable and distractions to the genuine case. Check this incredibly good Logical Fallacies infographic:

    http://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/pdf/LogicalFallaciesInfographic_A1.pdf

    By contrast, neither you nor I could have a rational discussion with a Scientologist. It is a belief, to be sure, but it has no rational basis in history, philosophy, science or anything else. You might as well believe in orcs, Sauron and Mordor as objective realities. Debate with a Scientologist would be like trying to nail jelly to a tree.

    Likewise, a belief in a multiverse is (in my view) a philosophical curiosity, but untestable, unprovable, and just intrinsically unlikely on the basis of science.

    Likelihood is in fact a key part of any argument, and is really what a court of law tries to decide. Few legal cases are proved beyond all possible doubt, mere beyond all reasonable doubt.

    In ‘Why there almost certainly is a God’ book, one of the Philosophy professor’s conclusions is that the existence of a creator god is a likely concept. Dawkins, by contrast, has said that he cannot be sure there is not a god. In other words, he is saying he sees it as very unlikely.

    Best wishes

    Tony

    • Drakk

      I think it behoves Christians and atheists to understand that each has a credible worldview. By that, I mean that each has cogent and rational arguments for their positions.

      No they don’t.

      By contrast, neither you nor I could have a rational discussion with a Scientologist. It is a belief, to be sure, but it has no rational basis in history, philosophy, science or anything else. You might as well believe in orcs, Sauron and Mordor as objective realities. Debate with a Scientologist would be like trying to nail jelly to a tree.

      How does this entire paragraph not apply to christianity? Belief in the christian god has no basis in objective reality either. The historical claims made by christianity, such as the age of the universe being 6000 years, or a global flood, or bats being birds, or pi=3, have no rational basis in science.

      Where do you draw the line, then? What to you is rational and what isn’t? Christianity, it seems, is. How about islam, buddhism, mormonism and raelianism? And what are your criteria for judging?

  • http://www.decrepitoldfool.com georgewiman

    I think it behoves Christians and atheists to understand that each has a credible worldview. By that, I mean that each has cogent and rational arguments for their positions.

    If your “cogent and rational” arguments include the First Cause argument, you’re off to a bad start, Tony.

    And when you say we should “understand” something, you are presupposing it is true. It’s not. Religion’s “cogent and rational” arguments ultimately involve faith. That isn’t an argument, it’s saying; “Because, that’s why!” Or if you prefer, it’s the substance of things hoped for (wishful thinking) and the evidence of things not seen (or detected at all by scientific instruments).

    You want your people to show up with busted arguments once a year and have their asses handed to them? Fine. But by next year, see if you can come up with something new. Otherwise you’re just wasting everyone’s time; we’re getting tired of the same old nonsense that was deconstructed back in the 1800′s.

    We have heard talk enough. We have listened to all the drowsy, idealess, vapid sermons that we wish to hear. We have read your Bible and the works of your best minds. We have heard your prayers, your solemn groans and your reverential amens. All these amount to less than nothing. We want one fact. We beg at the doors of your churches for just one little fact. We pass our hats along your pews and under your pulpits and implore you for just one fact. We know all about your mouldy wonders and your stale miracles. We want a this year’s fact. We ask only one. Give us one fact for charity. Your miracles are too ancient. The witnesses have been dead for nearly two thousand years.
    – Robert Green Ingersoll, “The Gods” (1872)

  • LadyBlack

    Tony, I think that your viewpoint is not credible. It does not behove me to consider it at all. There is nothing I can find that makes it necessary for me to consider it except when it is necessary to bring it down for impinging on me or my nearest and dearest. I have never seen a rational argument for anything other than atheism.

    I won’t debate with Scientologists either : it does not make your viewpoint any more credible. Why don’t *you* believe in Orcs, Sauron and Mordor, by the way? Are you trying to give us a common enemy in order that we will then side with you? I’m confused as to why this came into the conversation?

    Until the title reads, “There certainly is a god and he’s here to tell us why”, there are no books which prove it either.

    I tried reading your page for “Internet Evangelism day” and became worried my computer would become infected “with Jesus”…

  • Kevin

    Christianity is incoherent on its face.

    You believe that a half-god with superpowers “died” and then was resurrected bodily and is now living as a corporeal entity in heaven. How in the world is that coherent?

    You believe that this half-god with superpowers will be returning someday real soon to basically destroy the Earth, rule for 1000 years, and then send the souls of everyone alive or who has ever lived either to heaven or hell. And the basis for sending people’s souls to either place has nothing to do with anything they did — it has to do with their thoughts. You believe the entire process of life is nothing more than a soul-sorting exercise for god. And the soul gets sorted based upon whether they believed in this half-god with superpowers fellow. If you believed in the half-god, you get to heaven — if not, hell.

    How in the world is that coherent? How is that credible?

  • fastlane

    Tony blathered:

    I think it behoves Christians and atheists to understand that each has a credible worldview. By that, I mean that each has cogent and rational arguments for their positions.

    We’ve been waiting 2000+ years for ‘cogent and/or rational’ arguments from believers.

    Why don’t you share? They seem at least as elusive as the elves in my garden.

  • Anteprepro

    I think it behoves Christians and atheists to understand that each has a credible worldview. By that, I mean that each has cogent and rational arguments for their positions.

    Heh. Sure Christians do. Its why, when we look at all of their rational arguments for their positions, which I and many other atheists have gone out of our way to find (because, unlike Christians with respect to other religions, most atheists don’t dismiss Christianity uninformed and out of hand), we consistently find that they are complete crap. Each and every one of them. Strange definition of “cogent and rational”. I am willing to concede that Christianity is “credible” only in the sense that there are people who believe it.

    Dishonest or exaggerated weak arguments help neither side. I have seen supposed arguments by both sides which are so ridiculous and weak as to be laughable, undebatable and distractions to the genuine case.

    Yeah, damn shame that “weak arguments” make up a far larger percentage of theist arguments than atheist arguments. But nevermind that: “BOTH SIDES!!!”.

    By contrast, neither you nor I could have a rational discussion with a Scientologist…it has no rational basis in history, philosophy, science…Scientologist would be like trying to nail jelly to a tree.
    Likewise, a belief in a multiverse is (in my view) a philosophical curiosity, but untestable, unprovable, and just intrinsically unlikely on the basis of science.

    Holy shit! Special pleading, much?

    “Why are you treating Group X like all of their claims are bullshit? That’s rude, and it is in your best interest to treat them like they have a good point. But that Group Y over there, they are just fucking crazy. You can dismiss their bullshit claims as bullshit, no problem, no argument needed.”

    How about, before you go pretending that Scientology is obviously more bullshit than Christianity, you actually show us these magical good arguments for Christianity? You know, the ones that aren’t as bullshit as the claims of every other religion? The ones that make Christianity more than belief in something that might, kinda, sorta have a chance of being true (since we can’t prove otherwise)?

    In ‘Why there almost certainly is a God’ book, one of the Philosophy professor’s conclusions is that the existence of a creator god is a likely concept.

    Without presenting that argument, you are merely presenting an argument from authority here. After linking to a chart about logical fallacies, no less. Oh, and in what sense is Christianity confirmed by the existence of a creator god, even if that premise is accepted? Sure, that being true is probably a necessary step for Christianity not being completely false, but it hardly proves that it is true. Christianity involves many more beliefs/premises than simply “a powerful entity created the universe”. And many other religions share that same belief/premise! A creator god being true simply disproves atheism. Yet it doesn’t even prove theism (since the creator doesn’t necessarily intervene beyond creation, thus deism could be true). To pretend that it proves Christianity is one of the oldest theological sleights of hand in the book.

  • Drakk

    Strictly speaking, Scientology on the face of it seems more credible than Christianity.

    I mean hell, at least nuclear bombs, volcanoes and DC-8s exist. Can’t say the same for talking snakes and global floods, can you?

  • Tony Whittaker

    Hi folks

    OK, perhaps I should have said, ‘consistent’ worldview. Or internally consistent. An atheist worldview is internally consistent within its base assumption of no external creator, and can make cogent and reasoned interpretations of philosophical and scientific evidence to back that view. You all know them well. But a Christian worldview is equally internally consistent, and can also make cogent and reasoned interpretations in the same way, that will fit. So it is possible, if two individuals of opposite viewpoints wish, to have a sensible respectful debate, look at alternate arguments, and actually have some fun. I only mentioned Scientology by way of comparison, because none of us could have any logical debate with them at any level. You might as well speak to the debate, ‘shiny pink cars are nicer than shiny green cars’.

    By the way, I trained as a biochemist, and would take the view (as a great many sensible Jesus-followers do, writer/scientist Alister McGrath among them) that the universe is as old as it seems to be, and that evolution is likely to be a sufficient explanation of how (but not why) we got here, and that science is an exciting journey.

    Best wishes

    Tony

    • http://www.decrepitoldfool.com george.w

      Tony, whenever Christianity makes testable claims, suddenly the story is deemed metaphorical or something. So it makes some rather fantastic, and non-testable claims that require dualism. Do you have an explanation for how dualism works, that is consistent with our understanding of how the universe works? And if not, then why should the “meaning” you are going on about, mean anything?

    • Drakk

      Putting aside for a moment the issues with internal consistency given the presence of contradictions in the bible…

      Internal consistency is really not worth a whole lot. What I’m after is a belief system that is externally consistent, i.e. closely matches reality. It’s explained here pretty well.

      Christianity fails these tests, because if I were to ask, for example, “If I kneel down and ask really really hard for something to happen, is it any more likely to happen than if I were to do nothing?”, the answer I get in reality (no) is not consistent with the predictions made by the belief system of Christianity (or religion in general).

      I’m curious how much of Scientology you’ve researched to conclude it fails even at internal consistency. Certainly the truth claims they make are complete nonsense – negative emotions are of course not due to spirits of billions of dead people tossed into a volcano – but truth claims are part of external consistency tests, which Christianity itself has failed.

      The question of green vs pink cars is a non sequitur. That is a question of opinion, objective reality is not.

      With regards your last paragraph – you’ve made the assumption, unfounded it seems, that there is a “why”, or that there has to be. Why (forgive the pun) does there have to be a why, in the sense of a purpose-driven reason, for life? I hold that life arose on Earth because the correct chemical reactions happened to produce self-replicating organic molecules. Why did those reactions happen? Because conditions were such that those reactions were thermodynamically favourable.

  • Anteprepro

    But a Christian worldview is equally internally consistent

    Basically what Drakk said:
    -This is a low fucking bar.
    -It isn’t even true, given inconsistencies between OT and NT, and Gospel accounts.

    I only mentioned Scientology by way of comparison, because none of us could have any logical debate with them at any level. You might as well speak to the debate, ‘shiny pink cars are nicer than shiny green cars’.

    Hah. Doubling down on the assumption that Scientologists are inherently irrational while Christians aren’t? Still without any evidence? Even the smarter apologists would be considered fucking dumb if they tried this same shit outside of debating religion. It is only in debating religion that people think that this shit is A-okay.

    that the universe is as old as it seems to be, and that evolution is likely to be a sufficient explanation of how (but not why) we got here, and that science is an exciting journey.

    Fantastic. What makes you believe that there is a “why” to our origins? What exactly is the purpose of Genesis; what is it a metaphor for (since it obviously didn’t happen as written if you believe science on the issue)? The reasonable Christians are just irrational in different ways than the literalist, denialist ones.

  • Tony Whittaker

    Hi George, if you mean, testable beyond any doubt, I don’t think either Christianity or atheism can offer proofs at that level. Each can offer a belief system based on an interpretation of a range of evidence. Some evidence is of primary importance, some is merely somewhat corroboratory. Both atheists and Christians tend to look stupid when they offer minor corroborating issues as primary arguments.

    Drakk, I think the claimed spiritual experiences of Christians, though you can write them off as subjective, deserve consideration. It is certainly the claim of many Jesus-followers that when we stop praying, the coincidences stop happening. There’s not an easy way of doing double-blind research on this, though I believe some have. It is also the claim of many that becoming Christians filled in an aching void in their lives, in a way that nothing else did. You can of course dismiss this as subjective experience based on a placebo effect. However it remains an objective truth that millions make this claim, across cultures and demographics. There’s also objective psychological research demonstrating that Christians do actually score higher on various testable aspects of well-being. Again, you can dismiss the result as placebo effect, but the results themselves appear to be objective truth.

    I admit I’ve not researched much of Scientology beliefs. But I think you’d agree it would be impossible to have a meaningful debate with them, or with, say, the Flat Earth Society. But it is possible – because it happens – for atheists and Christians to have meaningful intelligent debates on these issues.

    Anteprepro – claims of internal inconsistency in the New Testament almost all come down to differing viewpoints of different witnesses, and different editing of the stories by the different writers for different readerships and purposes. It’s also significant that there’s no evidence of anyone later attempting to rewrite or harmonise the stories in any way. All the various minor variations of a word or two in the huge number of relatively early manuscripts do not affect any area of Christian teaching. Sometimes it seems an editors footnote has got into a later text, that sort of thing. Heck, I’m a writer and ofter will do 20 revisions of an article. Often with input from others. It doesn’t change the basic meaning in any way.

    I think you’d agree that many people would like a ‘why’ to their lives. If there isn’t, on your view, a ‘why’, then I guess you’d classify it as an inconvenient truth we have to live with? But it’s one that is in tension with human psychology.

    Best wishes

    Tony

    • Drakk

      Drakk, I think the claimed spiritual experiences of Christians, though you can write them off as subjective, deserve consideration. It is certainly the claim of many Jesus-followers that when we stop praying, the coincidences stop happening.

      Confirmation bias.

      It is also the claim of many that becoming Christians filled in an aching void in their lives, in a way that nothing else did. You can of course dismiss this as subjective experience based on a placebo effect.

      This says a lot about human psychology and absolutely nothing about whether or not any god(s) objectively exist.

      However it remains an objective truth that millions make this claim, across cultures and demographics. There’s also objective psychological research demonstrating that Christians do actually score higher on various testable aspects of well-being.

      Argumentum ad populum…and what makes people happy has no bearing on what is objectively true.

      I admit I’ve not researched much of Scientology beliefs. But I think you’d agree it would be impossible to have a meaningful debate with them, or with, say, the Flat Earth Society.

      NO I DO NOT AGREE. I do not see any difference between an otherwise reasonable person who believes that millions of years ago xenu tossed billions of people into a volcano and killed them with nukes, an otherwise reasonable person who believes the earth is flat, and an otherwise reasonable person who believes that all humanity is cursed because a talking snake convinced a rib-woman to eat an apple. If they are all three of them not willing to change their belief if it contradicts evidence, they are all equally unreasonable.

      I think you’d agree that many people would like a ‘why’ to their lives. If there isn’t, on your view, a ‘why’, then I guess you’d classify it as an inconvenient truth we have to live with? But it’s one that is in tension with human psychology.

      Again, what people want has no bearing on what is true.

      I’m no philosopher, obviously, I’m a physicist in training. Hence why all my focus is on testable truth claims. I consider most other things irrelevant really.

    • http://www.decrepitoldfool.com george.w

      Hi George, if you mean, testable beyond any doubt, I don’t think either Christianity or atheism can offer proofs at that level. Each can offer a belief system based on an interpretation of a range of evidence. Some evidence is of primary importance, some is merely somewhat corroboratory. Both atheists and Christians tend to look stupid when they offer minor corroborating issues as primary arguments.

      Proof is for mathematics, Tony. Science tries to construct theories that explain the facts – always subject to a better theory coming along later. It’s religion that likes to claim certainty. Wait… why am I telling you this? Aren’t you supposed to be some kind of great scientific mind? A biochemist, right? Crikey.

      When I said testable, I didn’t mean “certain”, I meant testable, as in “there’s some way to find out”. You can construct an experiment or postulate falsifying evidence. I could falsify evolution for instance – a fossil rabbit in the Pre-Cambrian. But I have no way to falsify the holy spirit or salvation or heaven or hell. And neither do you, or you’d have it out and be waving it around already.

  • Anteprepro

    Alright, first the stuff directed towards me:

    all come down to differing viewpoints of different witnesses, and different editing of the stories by the different writers for different readerships and purposes.

    Different points of view that blatantly contradict each other in some areas, that just happen to look like copy-paste jobs of each other in many other areas. If it weren’t for that, they would have found the perfect way to maintain internal consistency: By saying the same exact thing someone else said and pretending that the blatant plagiarism is an independent account.

    It’s also significant that there’s no evidence of anyone later attempting to rewrite or harmonise the stories in any way.

    “It’s internally consistent because no one tried to resolve the internal inconsistencies!”

    I think you’d agree that many people would like a ‘why’ to their lives. If there isn’t, on your view, a ‘why’, then I guess you’d classify it as an inconvenient truth we have to live with? But it’s one that is in tension with human psychology.

    People wanting their lives to have a purpose IS NOT sufficient evidence to believe that there is, in fact, a purpose. “X is true” does not follow from “I want X to be true, and it would sad is X weren’t true.” It is so blatantly illogical to argue otherwise, that it is par for the course that the only time such a stupid argument is put forward is on the topic of religion.

    It is certainly the claim of many Jesus-followers that when we stop praying, the coincidences stop happening. There’s not an easy way of doing double-blind research on this, though I believe some have.

    Hah. Yeah, you guys sure do claim that. You claim a lot of things. And yes, there have been double-blind studies on the matter of the efficacy of prayer, and none of them support the bold claims of Christian-summoned magic in the air. But I’m sure that doesn’t affect your “claim” in the slightest, right?

    It is also the claim of many that becoming Christians filled in an aching void in their lives, in a way that nothing else did.

    Judging by the research on the topic, I think this “aching void” is what we mere mortals call “loneliness” (the correlation between religious participation and happiness is explained by a third factor, involvement in social groups).

    However it remains an objective truth that millions make this claim, across cultures and demographics.

    Which refutes the possibility of something purely psychological at work, how?
    “Obviously, it can’t be a placebo! Millions of homeopathy users can’t be wrong!”

    There’s also objective psychological research demonstrating that Christians do actually score higher on various testable aspects of well-being. Again, you can dismiss the result as placebo effect, but the results themselves appear to be objective truth.

    Are you really this fucking stupid? Are you playing games here? “Christians score higher on testable aspects of well-being”, if true, would be “objective truth” but that doesn’t mean that the beliefs of Christians are “objective truth”. The distinction is not subtle at all, yet you seem to be consistent at blurring the line. Do you know why Christians might have better well-being though? I’ve already mentioned one reason ( using their religion as an extra social group/connection). Here’s an extra one: privilege. The studies you are aware of are probably America-centric, or at very least Western-centric, where Christianity is a majority, has been the majority, and has held the majority of the power for a long time. Who would’ve thunk that Christians in a society where Christianity is highly esteemed would thrive more than non-Christian religions that are inherently in conflict with Christianity.

    But I think you’d agree it would be impossible to have a meaningful debate with them, or with, say, the Flat Earth Society

    “*herrrp* How I gonna show Scientology stupider than Christinanity? I knows, compare dem to flat earfers . Thatll show how smart Christianity is *deeeerrp*”

    The modern age of the Flat Earth Society dates back to the early 1800s, when it was founded by Samuel Birley Rowbotham, an English inventor. Samuel Rowbotham’s Flat Earth views were based largely on literal interpretation of Bible passages . His system, called Zetetic Astronomy, held that the earth is a flat disk centered at the North Pole and bounded along its southern edge by a wall of ice, with the sun, moon, planets, and stars only a few hundred miles above the surface of the earth. After Rowbotham’s death in 1884, followers of his Zetetic Astronomy founded the Universal Zetetic Society.

    Flat Earth theory spread to the United States, largely in the town of Zion, Illinois where Christian Catholic Apostolic Church founder John Alexander Dowie and later Wilbur Glenn Voliva promoted Flat Earth theory. Voliva died in 1942 and the church quickly disintegrated. Flat Earthism remained in Zion, gradually becoming less popular into the 1950s.

    Nice shootin’, Tex.

    • Drakk

      My responses are pale and paltry by comparison :(

      • anteprepro

        Either that, or what some might call “more succinct”. :)

        (Speaking of which, this reply is too short to seem natural for me. I’ll have to make up for it by ranting twice as much next time I post something).

  • Tony Whittaker

    Hi Anteprepro

    I wasn’t suggesting my points were so-called ‘proofs’ to anything :-) They are merely interesting. I also find interesting the published research that children seem to have innate belief in a god, rather than it being imposed as a social construct, and also research at the Infant Cognition Center at Yale that children are hardwired for story and moral judgements, long before they can speak. These don’t ‘prove’ anything. But they are certainly consistent with a theist worldview, which is all I DO claim!

    I think you mistake my point about Flat Earthers. It was merely to say that a belief system such as theirs – substitute anything similar – is undebatable. You, or I, could have no intelligent debate with them. I humbly submit that atheists and theists can have an intelligent debate, because this does happen, as eg here.

    • Drakk

      …children seem to have innate belief in a god, rather than it being imposed as a social construct…consistent with a theist worldview…

      It’s also consistent with our understanding of human psychology, which has generated far more useful explanations of the phenomenon. Just because it is human instinct to see agency behind natural phenomena does not make it correct. The same phenomenon caused people to think that the sun must be “pushed” through the sky, or that lightning was “thrown” from the sky to the earth.

      I’m also curious what “god” it is that children innately believe in. If it’s as simple as thinking that things which exist have to be “made by someone” then that’s not a theist worldview, it is deist (overlapping slightly of course). Show me a child who innately believes in talking snakes and jewish zombies and I’ll consider this more carefully.

      I think you mistake my point about Flat Earthers. It was merely to say that a belief system such as theirs – substitute anything similar – is undebatable. You, or I, could have no intelligent debate with them.

      Like Christianity?

      I humbly submit that atheists and theists can have an intelligent debate…

      That depends entirely on the issue. If that issue is claims of objective truth, the answer is no. There cannot be “debate” between theists and atheists on matters of objective truth claims, because the claims made by theism are not borne out by evidence.

      Does the evidence indicate that the earth is flat? No.
      Does the evidence indicate that millions of people were killed by nukes a billion years ago? No.
      Does the evidence indicate that a man rose from the dead after being crucified? No.

      Should we, therefore, give any credence to those hypotheses? No.

  • Anteprepro

    I’m confused…where did I suggest that Tony was attempting to “prove” something? He stated from the outset that he deals in probabilities, and I agree with that approach. Did I imply that he was doing otherwise anywhere, or is he just assuming that any refutation of his points is from the assumption that he is speaking in absolutes?

    I also find interesting the published research that children seem to have innate belief in a god, rather than it being imposed as a social construct

    Fascinating. You are able to link the study talking about how infants can make moral judgments. Unfortunately, it is something that 1. I am aware of and 2. has no relevance to the question of deities, except for benighted people who simply assume from the outset that morality comes from deities. And, despite going out of your way to link to that article, you are unable to link to the study that claims that children have innate god belief. How fucking convenient. I, however, have a relevant citation for believing your uncited claim is either bullshit, or has a terminal level of truthiness to it. Here are the facts, as the Evangelical Christian-biased Barna Group sees them:

    When looking at people who consider themselves “born-again Christians”, 43% were converted before age 13, 21% more by 18, and
    13% beyond that by age 21. Total of 76% of born-agains were converted before age 21. Well, that supports your thesis right? They are young, so they were in-touch with their innate god senses and converted. Yeahhh, well aside from the fact that you’d think that more than half of them would have been converts by the time they hit puberty if they had god detection powers since infancy, there is the ugly little fact that, of this group of converts (age 21 or younger), 20% were converted by a friend, 20% by a parent, 16% by a different relative, and 10% by ministers (as opposed to saying they were converted “due to an event” or “special personal situations”, as one would expect from people who were using divine senses instead of simply being taught Jebusology). Oh, and its even worse if you look directly at the young-uns: Of those who were “converted” before 13, half claim to have been converted by parents, 7% by ministers, 20% by friends/relatives, and only an eighth of this group claimed that a “special event” was responsible for their belief.

    So, with 66% of all pre-21 converts and 77% of all pre-13 converts specifically attributing their conversion to the guiding hands of other people , I am gonna have to call bullshit on this “innate sense”. If there is an “innate sense of God”, then it sure as hell isn’t clear enough to lead one to Christianity all on its lonesome. Which is obviously contrary to what Christianity would have us believe about God! But who cares, you are not going to pay attention to this anymore than anything you’ve pretended to address.

  • Tony Whittaker

    Hi Anteprepro

    Just in case I was not clear, I was pointing out that the research studies were a) interesting and b) consistent with a Christian worldview.

    The research study about innate belief in young children was covered on the radio a few days ago implying it was new and current research, but I can’t find it on google yet, though there are previous similar studies cited on google.

    Again, I merely point out that this is interesting and consistent, not a proof of anything. I don’t see it as conflicting with the Barna research. Just as the baby research indicated an innate sense of approval of right over wrong in a story, does not mean that when the children grow up, they will necessarily emulate the non-selfish behavior they admired as 6-month olds!

    Best

    Tony

    • Drakk

      You know, I wonder what your idea of consistency is. Did you use your premises to make this prediction in advance, or did you observe it and loosely interpret a few bits of your metaphorical bible to make them sound like they knew that before.

      Now, consistent with a Christian worldview they may be. Also, perhaps, with a Muslim worldview. Or a Hindu one. Or a science-based one that examines possible natural causes for such phenomena.

      So, given that all of these might explain the phenomenon, explain why you think its occurrence supports Christianity in particular?

  • Anteprepro

    Just in case I was not clear, I was pointing out that the research studies were a) interesting and b) consistent with a Christian worldview.

    Yeah, and the morality one is consistent with an atheist/scientific worldview, and virtually every non-Christian religious worldview. Which is why bringing it up at all was fucking pointless.

    I can’t find it on google yet, though there are previous similar studies cited on google.

    Oh yeah, that great scientific journal called Google. If you’re not going to be arsed to actually present evidence, don’t pretend that you aren’t just writing us off and telling us to research this stuff ourselves. You have not presented anything, you have only given us vague instructions for us to find your evidence for you. Fucking lazy.

    But, I looked up various things on the subject. Suffice it to say, Drakk was totally right: All of the sources I can find say something to effect of “children are predisposed to believe in God because they assume everything has a purpose, even when that is stupid” and yet present that as if it is a good thing for God belief. I’ll give more details in another comment.

    I don’t see it as conflicting with the Barna research. Just as the baby research indicated an innate sense of approval of right over wrong in a story, does not mean that when the children grow up, they will necessarily emulate the non-selfish behavior they admired as 6-month olds!

    Hilarious! You do realize that the “morality” they find from the infant is pretty low bar, right? That it only amounts to “like those who are nice to others, dislike those who are mean to others” (and, slightly complicated, but also of dubious morality, “like those who are mean to those who are mean to others”). The article specifically mentions that babies have in-group biases, are still very selfish, and stresses that infant “morality” is paltry in comparison to what we consider moral for an adult. Apparently you missed all of that, and are taken to implying that infants have a more clear picture of moral behavior (and God) than adults do. Which is, of course, the opposite of reality when it comes to morality. There’s a reason why Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development was credible as a model rather than the Bizarro World favorite, Greblhok’s Stages of Moral Decline. So, if God Senses are innate like morality is innate, then that means that it is only primitive and grows over time, not that it is best at birth and declines. Are you tired of failing yet?

    • Anteprepro

      So, it seems the reason why Tony heard of this recently is because Justin Barrett is publishing a book on the subject, using relevant articles of his own he published years ago. So…here’s this overwhelming evidence that infants believe in God. Emphasis is mine.

      1.

      Developmental psychologists have provided evidence that children are naturally tuned to believe in gods of one sort or another.

      Children tend to see natural objects as designed or purposeful in ways that go beyond what their parents teach , as Deborah Kelemen has demonstrated. Rivers exist so that we can go fishing on them, and birds are here to look pretty.

      • Children doubt that impersonal processes can create order or purpose. Studies with children show that they expect that someone not something is behind natural order. No wonder that Margaret Evans found that children younger than 10 favoured creationist accounts of the origins of animals over evolutionary accounts even when their parents and teachers endorsed evolution. Authorities’ testimony didn’t carry enough weight to over-ride a natural tendency.

      Children know humans are not behind the order so the idea of a creating god (or gods) makes sense to them. Children just need adults to specify which one.

      Experimental evidence, including cross-cultural studies, suggests that three-year-olds attribute super, god-like qualities to lots of different beings. Super-power, super-knowledge and super-perception seem to be default assumptions. Children then have to learn that mother is fallible, and dad is not all powerful, and that people will die. So children may be particularly receptive to the idea of a super creator-god.

      Yes, you heard it right, folks. Kids believe in “God” (i.e. “Magical Tree-builder”) because they think in ways like “rivers are made for fishing”, “somebody had to make the animals”, and “mom and dad are so big, it’s like they got superpowers”. On a side note: apparently, we’re supposed to believe that these are less stupid when they start saying that the “somebody” “who” “made” these things was so big and superpowered that they are also invisible and live in another dimension. Those kids and their sophisticated theology!

      But seriously, this is weak tea. It helps explain why kids might come to believe in something like a god on their own, but doesn’t at all imply that every kid believes in Gaseous Form Jebus simply because they believe in a nebulous superhero who made the things humans didn’t.

      2.

      Dr Justin Barrett, a senior researcher at the University of Oxford’s Centre for Anthropology and Mind, claims that young people have a predisposition to believe in a supreme being because they assume that everything in the world was created with a purpose….
      In one study, six and seven-year-olds who were asked why the first bird existed replied “to make nice music” and “because it makes the world look nice”.
      Another experiment on 12-month-old babies suggested that they were surprised by a film in which a rolling ball apparently created a neat stack of blocks from a disordered heap.
      Dr Barrett said there is evidence that even by the age of four, children understand that although some objects are made by humans, the natural world is different.

      Yep, again, kids believe in “God” (i.e. Supernatural Thing-Maker) because they don’t understand the intuitive Design Argument is both fallacious and heavily refuted by evidence. In fairness, while I think fundies are stupid, I honestly don’t expect them to be so profoundly dim that the majority of children in the world are smarter than them. Why does Tony believe otherwise?

      Barrett himself sounds like a bit of a spin doctor in this piece, but he actually wrote the first piece and was only quoted in this one, so I should probably give him a bit of a benefit of the doubt. However, this bit, I thought, was interestingly stupid: “Children’s normally and naturally developing minds make them prone to believe in divine creation and intelligent design. In contrast, evolution is unnatural for human minds; relatively difficult to believe.”

      Holy fuck, children can’t easily understand evolution! Alert the fucking presses! The implications of this finding are profound! Next thing ya know, we’ll learn that elementary school aged children have a hard time wrapping their heads around quantum physics and electron valence orbits!

      The most I could find, aside from “children believe in invisible agents because they don’t have an intuitive understanding of evolution, therefore they naturally believe in Phantom Jesus!” is that they also have a natural conception of an afterlife/souls. Big fucking whoop. Says nothing about gods, for one, and I happen to realize that mind-body dualism is just as intuitively compelling to the uninformed as the idea of Nature-Makers.

      But, whatever, children naturally buy the idea that ghosts sculpted every rock in the whole universe and that everyone will live on forever after they are dead. So, that means that you are going to let all your Christian friends know that their no reason to try to convert children, or teach them about God, or anything at all like that, right? Because, obviously if you are presenting this FACT as evidence in favor of Christianity, then these children are naturally capable of tapping into the divine and are innately Christian and are far more aware of God’s nature than one could possibly gain in awareness simply by other people talking about God, right? I mean, they are naturally believing in invisible agents, therefore they naturally believe in God, therefore this is evidence of God, yet you and your Christian brethren still insist on teaching these children about God anyway. Huh. Something doesn’t quite add up. It’s almost as if “I think somebody built those mountains out of magic!” is not quite the same as “I believe an entity with very specific concerns over human behavior and belief, communicated with men thousands of years, and came to Earth to be sacrificed so that he could forgive us for our failings, built those mountains out of magic about 6 thousand years ago, and made them sharper when he used magic water to kill off our evil ancestors”. It’s almost like the Christians realize there is a subtle difference there, but can only put their finger on it when they need to indoctrinate children, and casually let their finger slip when they are trying to use unindoctrinated children as evidence that their doctrines are obvious and correct.

      Anyway, I should probably just point and laugh at you from now on.


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