Dad is getting my emails part II

After my dad’s last email, Robert wrote back.

Well John, I have no argument against you because you discredit my sources. As for physical proof and laws you speak of, I question the accuracy of those laws. Come on man, the very basic fundamental understanding of our make up is a THEORY!! ie the atomic thoery…. Not to mention the heavy hitters on your side such as Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking cannot go any further than THEORY to explain creation, etc. Why then can you put all of your stock in the unknown world of Science, with an extra emphasis on putting down believers in God, when in the scientist’s infinate wisdom, they still cannot disprove God. God is a spirit and deals with things on that level. You and the scientific comminity want to stamp a phsical law of approval on something that expresly defines itself as non phisical. No wonder, in your mind, all of your arguments seem valid. The Bible has stood up to approx 6000 years of scrutiny and attacks, yet to anyone willing to take the time and effort to study out a 1500 plus page document, they will find the truth about God, life, death, and the afterlife. God makes some very bold claims about who he is, who you are, how we all came about, and everything inbetween. You so easily say there are written records from China and Egypt, giving them full validity, however the Bible is hogwash and cannot be credited. This seems a little bias to me John. I think you have a self serving view point that is only valid if you try and discredit the Bible. I wish you the best in the afterlife, and will pray that you can see the light of Christ.

Dad wrote back…

Robert….do you even know the SCIENTIFIC definition of “theory” as in “atomic theory”, “theory of gravity”, or theory of evolution? You do realize, don’t you, that it is different from the common, everyday definition which is somewhat close to “wild-assed guess”, or a “theory” you come up with for something after knocking back a couple of six-packs?

The SCIENTIFIC definition is “a coherent group of tested general propositions, commonly regarded as correct, that can be used as principles of explanation and prediction for a class of phenomena: Einstein’s theory of relativity. Synonyms: principle, law, doctrine.” Don’t take my word for it; look it up.

As to “Why then can you put all of your stock in the unknown world of Science….” We do this every time we ride in a car, get on an airplane, use a telephone, or even sit at our computers. It is thanks to science that we have plenty of food to eat, clean water to drink, comfortable heat and air conditioning. “Unknown” world of science? Surely you jest. I can point to the world of science….can you point to gods? I can test the world of science, but you can’t test the world of gods, because it is dependent on an unverifiable afterlife that no one comes back from to confirm.

As to “with an extra emphasis on putting down believers in God,….” Whoa, whoa, whoa here! I can put down religion without putting down people who believe in gods. The belief in gods is a hypothesis about how the world works, just like belief in capitalism, socialism, communism, Republicanism, conservativism, Keynesian economics, etc. Surely we can debate these ideas without necessarily “putting down” the people who believe in them. I’m calling you out on this one for a false accusation. You need to be able to differentiate between a person and the beliefs that he holds dear. You can point out bad ideas without it being a put down to the person who passionately believes those ideas. For instance, if you question atheism, I don’t take it as a personal put down.

As to: “when in the scientist’s infinate wisdom, they still cannot disprove God.” Scientists can’t “disprove” smurfs, unicorns, leprechauns, voodoo, astrology, etc.” Again, I don’t think you understand how science works. “Proving” and “disproving” are for mathematics. Science accumulates evidence. If it accumulates enough evidence for or against something, then it becomes foolish not to give provisional consent to the idea. Like gravity, for instance. Scientists don’t “prove” gravity exists, it just provides enough evidence that to believe otherwise would be foolish. And, if enough evidence otherwise is found, then the scientific stance on gravity would change.

So, what science has done over the centuries is it has replaced supernatural ideas (and god is a supernatural idea)with scientific ideas backed up by mountains of evidence. Every single time—note that, 100%—supernatural ideas have been replaced by natural ones: whether it is demons in the blood being replaced by germ THEORY, the earth centered universe of the bible being replaced heliocentrism, that god made the stars on one of the first six days (we see stars being made in the Onion Nebula and others right now), and so on for thousands of instances. But Not. One. Single. Time have we seen a natural explanation of phenomena replaced by a supernatural one backed up by mountains of evidence. Not One. Time.

“The Bible has stood up to approx 6000 years of scrutiny and attacks…”Well, NO, it hasn’t. Again using the example of Noah’s flood…the written records of those dynasties is supported by archeological records you can point to. Physical proof. If there had been a flood like that, the ice cores would have a layer of silt at the 6000 year old level. That layer of silt doesn’t exist. The earth biosphere is essentially a closed system…there is no place that water could have come from and no place it could run off to. There would be a geologically verifiable layer of silt around the world. It isn’t there. The ONLY evidence for the flood is a claim for it in a bronze age book of myths. There are absolute mountains of evidence that it didn’t happen and couldn’t happen. I am amazed you dismiss archeologically empirically verifiable real evidence in favor of nothing more than empty claims in a book of mythology.

“God makes some very bold claims about who he is…” As does Allah, Zeus, Odin, and every other god man has made. When you figure out why you don’t believe in the others, perhaps you can figure out why I don’t believe in yours.

“I wish you the best in the afterlife…” I doubt there is one. Thanks anyway.

“and will pray that you can see the light of Christ.” There are 9 million children under the age of 5 who die every year. I would prefer you pray for your god to do something about that instead of for me to see the light of a being who is supposedly all powerful but allows that to happen

Then Robert wrote…

        I have studied many other views on spirituality, and would have to say your presumption is innacurate that I have not. Many of the other religions out there have similar elements to my God, however, when they begin giving man the credit for this or that, that is where I get off the bus. I don’t really know what your hope for this life or the one to come is, if you even have one, as I have only seen you working the negative side of things. If you are satisfied with the present evil world being all that you will ever experiance, then who am I to try to give you hope of something better. Just remember John, you believe in nothing, and put poeple down to a level where we are helpless, and have nothing to look forward to. I am simply trying to share a simplistic truth about hope with you, not putting you down or saying your reality doesn’t exist unless you can prove my God exists……and yet you will remain dancing around the point that you cannot prove that he does not exist.

I am also not so proud as to continue on with a futile argument with someone who has no desire to consider what I say. Therefore John I will graciously end this with a request that we agree to disagree.

Then dad…

  “Just remember John, you believe in nothing, and put poeple down to a level where we are helpless, and have nothing to look forward to.” On the contrary, I believe in a number of things…I just don’t believe in your preferred deity. Saying we have nothing to look forward to because there is no god is like saying we can’t look forward to Christmas holidays because there is no Santa Claus.
Wishful thinking and hoping does not create reality.

“and put poeple down to a level where we are helpless…” On the contrary, it is YOU who “put people down to a level where we are helpless”. My position is that it is people who must help people, which is the antithesis of being helpless.

“and yet you will remain dancing around the point that you cannot prove that he does not exist.” No dancing whatsoever. I can’t prove your god doesn’t exist, but I can’t prove ANYONE’S god—or anything else whatsoever—doesn’t exist. Show me how this is done: how about YOU prove other god’s don’t exist? I also can’t prove fairies, unicorns, smurfs, extilumpers, or a good many things don’t exist; and I don’t try to. For these, just as for your god, I ask for evidence that they DO exist. You are making an affirmative claim your god exists, it is you responsibility to provide evidence. Just as if I were to claim that leprechauns or Allah exist, it is up to me to provide evidence for their existence….not to demand that you prove they don’t exist.

It is like….I claim there are cows with ten horns and purple eyes. I demand you prove they don’t exist. Go.
Now, is it up to me to provide evidence they do exist-pictures or whatever–or is it up to you to prove that they don’t? How is it even possible to “prove” something doesn’t exist?

You can’t prove ANYTHING doesn’t exist….all you can do is point out there is no evidence FOR its existence. Absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

“I am also not so proud as to continue on with a futile argument with someone who has no desire to consider what I say.” Hmmmm. I thought I considered and responded to virtually every thing you said. I don’t happen to agree with it, and you didn’t respond to much of what I said, but, whatever.

“Therefore John I will graciously end this with a request that we agree to disagree.” Fine by me. After all, you are the one who brought it up, not me. Best wishes to you and Robin.

Part III at 2pm EST.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • The Lorax

    Your dad is awesome.

  • Steve

    Also, the Bible nowhere close to being 6000 years old. Even the oldest books of the OT aren’t that old.

  • TV200

    Dear Eberhard the elder,
    Please adopt me. Though, at 41, I’m pretty self sufficient, so won’t be too much trouble. :)

  • Michele Sage

    I hope I grow up to be like your dad …

  • Pierce R. Butler

    I want an extilumper!

  • http://www.atheist-faq.com Jasper T

    Come on man, the very basic fundamental understanding of our make up is a THEORY!!

    *facepalm*

    The irony is that in science, “theory” means almost the opposite that it does in every day parlance.

    Evolution is to the Theory of Evolution, as Maine is to the Map of Maine. The map contains all the information we have about the topic of the map.

    The fact that we have geographic maps implies that the geographic location exists. Likewise, the existence of the theory of evolution implies that evolution is a real thing.

    The relationship between theory and law is like the relationship between a toolbox and a tool. The toolbox (theory) can have zero or more tools (laws) inside. The laws tend to be axiomatic and frequently mathematical in nature, which is why the vast majority of them exist within Physics.

    You’d sound like an idiot if you said “Oh yeah? That toolbox hasn’t been proven into a screwdriver yet!”

  • Art Vandelay

    Well, he got the part right about this argument being futile. I swear when I read stuff like this from people like that, I’m completely amazed that we haven’t destroyed ourselves yet.

    • Desert Son, OM

      My totally untested hypothesis is that the pace at which humans breed has thus far exceeded the rate at which excesses of individual or collective stupidity threaten our continued survival, owing in part to stupidity as sometimes compartmentalized, sometimes transient, sometimes both.

      Still learning,

      Robert

  • Mark

    Why are people so routinely and absolutely fucking imbecilic? It really grinds my gears.

  • fastlane

    I always like how believers love to bring up all their ‘big guns’, like they’ve just read McDowell or something. They are absolutely convinced that they’ve got just the thing to convince every person in the world they are the one true shining light to Truth(TM) (and humility….).

    Then, once they realize they are in waaaaaay over their head, it’s “we’ll agree to disagree and I’ll just bow out”….

    Fucking cowards, the lot of them.

    • Rory

      Yeah, note how they’re the ones telling other people that they ought to open their hearts to Jebus and study the bible, and yet they’re not trying to convince anyone. They make all these arguments in defense of faith, but they don’t want to have a debate. They’re not trying to tell you how to live your life, but if you don’t follow their rules, you’re going to hell.

      So many delightful things to say about those religious folks.

  • baal

    I would be so much happier with the folks like Robert if they actually showed that they read and understood replies rather than some odd version of playing cards.

    “aha, I see you laid the 8. i will now play the eleventy. I win. hahahahha.”

    Excellent answers, btw, JT the elder.

  • eric

    Just remember John, you believe in nothing, and put poeple down…

    Beam, meet eye.

  • B-Lar

    He just keeps hammering! BAM! BAM! BAM! Its so beautiful!

    I liked the tenacity of his opponent, but when I read that the last word from Captain Godliness was “lets agree to disagree”… Man, that is the most intellectually dishonest way to extricate yourself from a crumbling position, and I have a feeling that Eberhard Sr could have weilded his Awesome Hammer of +10 Bashing one more time.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/wwjtd JT Eberhard

      It’s not over. Next installation in 22 minutes.

  • Desert Son, OM

    Just remember John, you believe in nothing

    If only.

    I’m working through my life trying to rely more and more on evidence as a reason to make assertions. I’m hoping that in the approximately 40 years or so that statistically remain likely for me (controlling for all other factors), I will believe less and less.

    Probably never actually get to nothing.

    The religious say “believe in nothing” as if it was a bad thing. News flash: I don’t believe the sun rises in the east. I have evidence that strongly suggests that the earth rotates around a central axis such that any given geographic space passes – for some period of time – through the visible spectrum of light emitted by the hydrogen-fueled nuclear fusion reaction around which this planet orbits thus lending the appearance of the motion of the sun from the earth’s surface due to the functions of the universe predicted by the Special Theory of Relativity. Moreover, the evidence I have for the preceding phenomenon is strong enough and sufficient enough that I can use it to make predictive statements about the particular segment of geography I occupy and the likelihood of said space passing once again through the visible spectrum of light in the arbitrary classification of time conveniently labeled “tomorrow.”

    Wagering on the likelihood of such occurrences at the behest of lyrical reflections from curly-haired, red-headed optimistic orphans is left to the individual discretion of each individual.

    Believe in nothing? Forward to a better world!

    Still learning,

    Robert

    • Desert Son, OM

      left to the individual discretion of each individual.

      Brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department.

      Still learning,

      Robert

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

    “Absence of evidence is evidence of absence.”

    Thank you!!

    I’ve always hated the other version of that expression. Absence of evidence is not proof of absence, but it sure as hell is evidence. Especially with a proposition like many definitions of the Christian god, for which evidence should abound.

    In fact, I’d go so far as to say that in some cases it IS proof of absence, depending on the logical construction. If entity X implies some unavoidable discovery Y, but you find Y is false, then X is false. But that would only apply to a small subset of very specifically defined deities.

    • http://florilegia.wordpress.com Ibis3, denizen of a spiteful ghetto

      And the gods of the biblical writings surely qualify. For example, no evidence of the exodus as described means that it certainly* didn’t happen. No exodus, no Yahweh. Likewise, no genesis, no Yahweh. No flood, no Yahweh. No Yahweh, no son of Yahweh. No son of Yahweh, no Logos as described in the gospel of “John”.

      And that’s just (some of) the evidence derived from absence. Add to that all the evidence we have for how the religion of the Hebrews was derived, influenced by external sources, and developed over time, and you’re left with a mountain of evidence (in layman’s terms, read “proof”) that no god of the biblical texts and no later god based on combining Hellenistic philosophy with Hebrew mythology (e.g. the Trinity of the Nicean creed) exists.

      Just as with evolution, any one who is intellectually honest and does some open-minded research into what historians have discovered about the topic would come away with enough “proof”.

      *for a level of certainty equivalent to pretty much every thing else we say we’re certain of.

  • sqlrob

    When you figure out why you don’t believe in the others, perhaps you can figure out why I don’t believe in yours.

    Unfortunately, I don’t think this tack is very productive.

    “God told me” is perfectly acceptable answer to him.

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

      You have to help those kinds along a bit further.

      “God told you, but they say Zeus told them. Why are they wrong but you’re right?”

      Throw in “how would you know if you were mistaken?” for good measure.

  • Amber K

    Your dad rocks.

  • Parse

    I am also not so proud as to continue on with a futile argument with someone who has no desire to consider what I say. Therefore John I will graciously end this with a request that we agree to disagree.

    Where by ‘consider’, Robert means ‘accept without questioning’. This seems to me like another case of belief in Magic Words – that if you hear the words spoken by a true believer, you’d have no choice but to convert. Does this ever happen outside of Chick Tracts?

    (And hey, look! I only pasted what I have to say once this time!)

  • Paul King

    I think the fact that he knows so little about his own religion that he thinks that the Bible is 6,000 years old makes it entirely reasonable to conclude that he hasn’t properly researched any others.

  • thinkandyoushallfind

    Can you send me Robert’s address? I’d like to mail him a dictionary and information on using spell check.

  • DaveL

    As for physical proof and laws you speak of, I question the accuracy of those laws. Come on man, the very basic fundamental understanding of our make up is a THEORY!! ie the atomic thoery…. Not to mention the heavy hitters on your side such as Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking cannot go any further than THEORY to explain creation, etc.

    Let’s consider, for a moment, two applications of modern physics. You take a certain mass of uranium, enriched to a certain isotopic composition, shaped a certain way, and you have a bomb capable of wiping out a city. Use a different mass, composition, and shape, with a moderator, cooling, and control systems, and you have the means to provide electrical power to that same city. The difference between the two hinges explicitly on the accuracy and reliability of modern atomic physics, the very same theory that informs radiometric dating.

    So, Robert, happen to live near any nuclear reactors?

  • cag

    Got a good laugh out of the “Onion” nebula. Maybe that’s why baby jesus cries. Thanks for peeling away the layers of stupidity.

  • http://reasonableconversation.wordpress.com Kaoru Negisa

    OK, I I’ve got to ask, what’s with you Eberhard men and smurfs lately? Are they the best new go-to myth right now for your clan? Do your women use smurfs that widely too, or is there a smurf /snork division within the family?

  • Ze Madmax

    Saying we have nothing to look forward to because there is no god is like saying we can’t look forward to Christmas holidays because there is no Santa Claus.

    QFMFT.

    I’m going to take this phrase and chisel it somewhere where it’ll be easily visible. The moon, maybe.

  • Hypatia’s Daughter

    It makes me so sad when I hear xtians describe this as an “evil world”. God makes a universe with from an estimated 125 – 500 billion galaxies – and our own little solar system that is pretty awesome – but we are supposed to think god despises his own creation? That the material world he created is debased and profane?
    The most atheistic scientist shows more respect for the handy works of god than these pious fundie louts.

    • Steve

      It’s always so silly when Christians describe atheists as nihilistic when it’s clearly them who are the nihilists. They are the ones who think that humans are born sick, broken and wretched with no hope of ever being any good in this life. The only hope lies after death


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