Are These 7 Arguments For A Creator God Convincing?

Are These 7 Arguments For A Creator God Convincing? August 20, 2019

I am away right now, visiting family in a whole other, far flatter province. I’m sitting Buddha-style in a tiny motel bed crowded with my husband and my dog, my little dude is in the other room of our suite sawing them off. There’s only a matter of time before my perfect silence is shattered with the busy-ness of family life on the road. As such, I’m here to offer you a throwback post from my pre-Patheos days. It is my response to a large comment left on my blog by a believer. Here it is:

Although I agree with the simplicity of your argument and your examples, that atheism is just a lack of belief in God, I can’t read a post like this without making my case for a Creator.
1. Living Fossils by Carl Werner shows that just about every fossil we find has either a living counterpart or is a member of a handful of distinct, extinct species. The transitions are missing, and there are ducks in dinosaur layers.

2. There is a problem of origins. The origin of time and space. The origin of matter. The origin of higher elements. The origin of stars. The origin of life. The origin of reproduction, sexual reproduction, and the fragility of life. The origin of thought. That one alone should make everyone at least agnostic, not atheist. Look up Rube Goldberg machine. Then imagine it happened by chance, for no purpose in particular, and reproduced itself… and then it began to think.
3. You cannot get away from confirmation bias. It is impossible to just follow the evidence where it leads. There will always be uncertainties that cloud our evaluation of any piece of evidence. You have to choose your worldview before you begin your search, and that decision will taint your study every time.
4. The point of life here on earth is not to enjoy it, or even to find love and procreate. The point is to test our faith. If Genesis were true, the point of the account of Adam and Eve would be that God wants us to make a choice for him and against doubt of Him. Given point 3, it has been stated, and I have found it to be true, that if you don’t first choose to trust God, you will never experience God.
5. Given point 4, I have experienced miracles. I’m not talking about improbable things happening. I’m talking about impossible things happening with a disembodied personality explaining it telepathically. The point is not my miraculous experiences, as you can find credible witnesses to those all over the web. The point is that if you accept the truth of point 4, you can have your own miraculous experience. Beware, though. The person who is given much will have much required of them.
6. Study the origin of nations. Yes, history has these things written all over the place. Take Herodotus. Read about the first foundations of temples, of cities, of patriarchs of nations. They aren’t started by some nebulous group of foragers. They are founded by a person in particular, whose genealogy often runs back to a pagan god of some kind. It is plainly stated in history that pagan gods were men, deified by those who survived and honored them. Read Josephus’ Antiquities, book 1, ch. 6 and see how the nations’ origins were just about all accounted for. (http://FromNoahtoHercules.c…
7. There’s no point to believing in atheism. It’s like that game on Survivor, where Jeff puts up some plate of covered something, and they spend hundreds of dollars on a peanut butter cookie. Atheism (generally) doesn’t invest anything in the potential of the afterlife. Even if all of what I said (and didn’t say) is hogwash, it still makes sense to put your raffle ticket into a few of the baskets.

So that’s my simple summary of why atheism, though misunderstood by many, is still not wise.

I couldn’t not respond to this. I couldn’t not share it with you all. So, I’m gonna power through and tackle this fella’s arguments for a creator… just because I love you guys.

The problems with this comment begin in the first sentence,

Although I agree with the simplicity of your argument and your examples, that atheism is just a lack of belief in God

When I explain what atheism is, it is a statement of fact, not an argument. Atheism is a lack of belief in a god. If you add more to that, that’s fine, but you’re no longer talking about atheism. I get that a lot of believers have trouble with this being the definition of atheism because it makes atheism much more difficult to argue with, but that’s all it is, for me and my fellow atheists: the answer, “I don’t believe you” when you say “there is a god”.

If you want to understand this on a deeper level, consider something you, yourself, do not believe in. In my time here as Godless Mom, I’ve had the displeasure of discussing these things with theists who refuse to admit there is anything they do not believe in because then they have to face the fact that they understand our position. Please don’t be like this. We already know there are things you don’t believe, as it is simply not possible to live a life believing every claim you ever come across. So, let’s choose something wildly “out there”, just to be sure you’re forced to be honest about your disbelief:

I get all my recipes for the dinners I serve my family telepathically from a red, talking wombat who resides on a planet undetectable by humans called Ninkam. 

Of course, you don’t believe that. You don’t believe it for a moment. That feeling of disbelief – that is how I feel about your god. That is the only thing that makes me an atheist, as you are an a-red-Ninkamese-wombat-ist. You lack a belief in my culinarily astute alien wombat, and I lack a belief in the god you claim to be real.

Now, ask yourself, what would it take to believe in my foodie wombat? Perhaps the discovery by human astrophysicists of the planet Ninkam and the wombat-life that exists on it? Maybe if I asked Big Red (my wombat’s nickname) to contact you telepathically with a recipe I’d predicted beforehand? What would it take for you to believe in the marsupial Bobby Flay of outer space?

You and I both know that the simplest way to answer that question is: evidence.

That’s what it would take for me to believe in your god. Now, most of the supposed “evidence” I get presented for god consists of feelings and hunches. If I applied that to my wombat chef, I could claim,

“Look around you. How many complicated recipes are there in the world? I mean, just look at consommé or bearnaise sauce. How could humans just stumble upon these recipes by accident? No, there has to be some other source of their inspiration. The sheer complexity of these recipes suggests there is an alien wombat telepathically sending us cooking methods.”

But that wouldn’t work as evidence for you, would it? It wouldn’t because it’s just a feeling. It’s just my interpretation of the confusing world around me. You’d still, most likely, lack a belief in my red wombat from planet Ninkam.

“But I’ve spoken to him myself! I do it regularly! He answers my culinary questions!” I could claim. But again, this wouldn’t work for you as evidence because the experience is mine and mine alone. You might be more inclined to believe me though, if millions of other people claimed the very same things, right? But what if amongst those people, there were arguments about whether or not the wombat was red? What if they couldn’t agree on Big Red’s recipe for bean salad?

“There are no kidney beans in Big Red’s salad. They are chickpeas!”

“Kidney beans!”

“Chickpeas!”

If nearly every aspect of the story of Big Red the Telepathic Culinary Talent from Outer Space was debated by the fervent followers of his recipes, it may not matter to you that there are millions that claim it’s true. If it were true, you’d think, the story would be pretty consistent, especially considering these people claim to be in communication with Big Red whenever they feel like – why not just contact the wombat and ask him to clarify the argued point for everyone?

You see, for you, a god belief is normal. There’s nothing strange about it. You don’t see any similarities between my claims of the Marsupial Masterchef in space and your claims of a god, because you feel mine are far-fetched and yours are not. It’s okay. You’re allowed to feel your god-belief is normal and not wild at all. However, understand that there are those of us who feel about your god claim the very same way you feel about Big Red, The Ninkamese Gourmet.

Suggesting you do not believe in Big Red gives us no indication of where you think the complexity of some of the most difficult recipes on earth comes from. It tells us nothing about how you cook, or what your favourite dish is. We have no idea what your table manners are like or if you can handle spicy flavours. All we know from your disbelief in Big Red the Ninkamese Wombat is that you do not believe the claims of an undetectable planet full of colourful, telepathic wombats with indescribable culinary talents.

Likewise, all you know for sure about me when I say I am an atheist is that I lack a belief in a god. This is a fact. This is not an argument. You can either accept this truth or deny it. It’s entirely up to you.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s take a look at your “case for a creator”:

1. Living Fossils by Carl Werner shows that just about every fossil we find has either a living counterpart or is a member of a handful of distinct, extinct species. The transitions are missing, and there are ducks in dinosaur layers.

You said you were going to make a case for a creator. Instead, you’re attacking evolution. If today you proved that evolution is not true, it still doesn’t tell us if a god is real or not. Evolution is not an explanation of how life began, rather, it is an explanation of how life became so diverse. In fact, how life began is still a mystery to science and is being studied under the label abiogenesis. There are hypotheses that attempt to explain the origin of life, such as the old primordial soup explanation,  but these are still being closely studied to determine which hypothesis might be true if any. Evolution is, instead, the explanation of our earthly family tree explaining why and where it splinters off into new species. The very fact that you offer an argument against evolution as an argument for a creator, shows you have no idea what evolution is. This is okay, though. There isn’t a single person on the planet who understands everything, and you’re no different. What sets intelligent people apart from those who are not quite so smart, though, is their ability to learn and take in new information. So, what I challenge you to do before you argue against evolution again, is read about what it really is and ensure you understand what the science surrounding evolution actually says so you don’t make it so apparent next time that you have no idea what evolution is.

2. There is a problem of origins. The origin of time and space. The origin of matter. The origin of higher elements. The origin of stars. The origin of life. The origin of reproduction, sexual reproduction, and the fragility of life. The origin of thought. That one alone should make everyone at least agnostic, not atheist. Look up Rube Goldberg machine. Then imagine it happened by chance, for no purpose in particular, and reproduced itself… and then it began to think.

Yes, there is a problem of origins. But just because we don’t have an answer, doesn’t mean we should force the answer, “god” on it. We don’t know these things. That’s the only honest answer. We may know the answers to these things in the future, but right now, the only answer is, “I don’t know”.

I could easily claim that the origins of all of these things came from Big Red the Wombat – prove me wrong! Does that mean you’re an agnostic when it comes to Big Red?

3. You cannot get away from confirmation bias. It is impossible to just follow the evidence where it leads. There will always be uncertainties that cloud our evaluation of any piece of evidence. You have to choose your worldview before you begin your search, and that decision will taint your study every time.

It is possible to follow the evidence where it leads, and it is possible to avoid confirmation bias by getting your findings examined by multiple other independent parties. That is the scientific method – we test, we discover, and then seek independent confirmation from numerous other skilled minds. That’s why I could never trust my own experience if suddenly, this afternoon, I heard the voice of god. Because you are correct that as an individual, I cannot be objective – I would have to find confirmation from a source outside of my head before I believed it to be the actual voice of god. This is what the scientific method is set up to achieve.

4. The point of life here on earth is not to enjoy it, or even to find love and procreate. The point is to test our faith. If Genesis were true, the point of the account of Adam and Eve would be that God wants us to make a choice for him and against doubt of Him. Given point 3, it has been stated, and I have found it to be true, that if you don’t first choose to trust God, you will never experience God.

In other words, you can’t experience Big Red’s telepathic recipes unless you believe in him first? How do you force yourself to believe in something that is so wildly out there to you? Could you force yourself to truly believe in Big Red? I’m not asking if you could fake it, or if you could behave as though you believe in Big Red. I mean actual belief. Could you? I certainly couldn’t.

I need to be convinced of something to believe it. That convincing can come in many forms – for instance, as I’ve mentioned plenty of times before, I am convinced that one day in my lifetime, the Cleveland Browns will go to the Super Bowl. This belief is based on – let’s face it – zero evidence. This is pure faith. The mere thought of cheering them on in my old Cribbs jersey makes me want to believe. The idea of it is just so beautiful… how can I not have this belief?

However, to be convinced of something that would change my life, my actions, and those of my children, I need something a little bit more than wishful thinking. To be convinced there is a god who needs me to behave in a specific way, I need objective, demonstrable evidence. This isn’t a choice. I can’t believe in god, because I’ve never seen any convincing reason to.

So, I guess if god wants me to believe in him so badly, he ought to provide something a little bit more convincing than the hunches and feelings of other people. If he wants to punish me because I can’t force myself to believe in something for which there is no objective, demonstrable evidence, well, then, that makes him kind of a douchebag and he wouldn’t win my worship that way.

5. Given point 4, I have experienced miracles. I’m not talking about improbable things happening. I’m talking about impossible things happening with a disembodied personality explaining it telepathically. The point is not my miraculous experiences, as you can find credible witnesses to those all over the web. The point is that if you accept the truth of point 4, you can have your own miraculous experience. Beware, though. The person who is given much will have much required of them.

I’ve read many accounts of “miracles” and what I’ve found are occurrences for which the witnesses had no explanation. I could just as easily fill that gap where an explanation ought to be with Big Red the Wombat, as you could with God. Just because something is inexplicable, doesn’t mean that God or Big Red did it. You must provide evidence for why you believe god is the source of this inexplicable thing. In the meantime, I prefer, as I stated earlier, to say “I don’t know how that happened” because it is the only honest answer.

6. Study the origin of nations. Yes, history has these things written all over the place. Take Herodotus. Read about the first foundations of temples, of cities, of patriarchs of nations. They aren’t started by some nebulous group of foragers. They are founded by a person in particular, whose genealogy often runs back to a pagan god of some kind. It is plainly stated in history that pagan gods were men, deified by those who survived and honored them. Read Josephus’ Antiquities, book 1, ch. 6 and see how the nations’ origins were just about all accounted for. (http://FromNoahtoHercules.c…

I’m sorry, I have no idea how this is an argument for a creator.

7. There’s no point to believing in atheism. It’s like that game on Survivor, where Jeff puts up some plate of covered something, and they spend hundreds of dollars on a peanut butter cookie. Atheism (generally) doesn’t invest anything in the potential of the afterlife. Even if all of what I said (and didn’t say) is hogwash, it still makes sense to put your raffle ticket into a few of the baskets.

Atheism is not a belief. As I stated above, it is a lack of belief. It’s a mere, “I don’t believe you” when you say, “there is a god”.

I do not believe there are no gods. I do not hold any beliefs as a result of my atheism. Atheism is, and I honestly have no idea why this is so, so difficult for theists to grasp, the mere absence of a belief in god. I don’t believe you when you say there is a god because I have not been presented with a good reason to believe. If at some point, I am offered a good enough reason to believe (in the form of demonstrable, objective evidence), that could change.  That’s the end of it.

Do not conflate atheism with evolution- there are atheists who don’t accept evolution as fact. Do not conflate atheism with the claim there is no god – there are atheists who do not make that claim, myself included. Do not conflate atheism with science – there are atheists who believe in woo and psychics and souls and are anti-science. Do not conflate atheism with anything as it is simply one statement on one specific subject: I don’t believe in a god.

Do you think any of these points are good enough arguments for a creator? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments!

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Brian Davis

    It is plainly stated in history that pagan gods were men, deified by those who survived and honored them.

    I can’t believe the original commenter thought this was a point in his favor. If this is true of all of the pagan gods then what makes your god an exception to this rule?

  • Castilliano

    I was embracing a Christian worldview when I surmised atheism was correct. No choosing involved.

    So um…yeah, that counters two out of seven. Apostates exist, believer person.

    The rest display too much ignorance or poor logic, being rudimentary forms of apologetics long debunked, even in their most sophisticated forms.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    I have found it to be true, that if you don’t first choose to trust God, you will never experience God.

    I have to admit, this makes no sense to me. How can I trust something I don’t believe in? It all presumes that God exists before anything else. If you don’t presume God exists, it all falls apart.

    So, I guess if god wants me to believe in him so badly, he ought to provide something a little bit more convincing than the hunches and feelings of other people. If he wants to punish me because I can’t force myself to believe in something for which there is no objective, demonstrable evidence, well, then, that makes him kind of a dou69chebag and he wouldn’t win my worship that way.

    Pablo’s Wager
    If God exists and created me, then he created me as a being endowed with the gift of rational thought, one who relies on evidence and logic. However, in not providing evidence for his existence, in order for me to believe in him, I would have to resort to faith and would not be using the gift of rational thought with which I was created. Given that not utilizing my God-given gifts to their fullest would be an affront to my creator, and therefore a sin, I am left with only one conclusion:

    If God exists, it would be a sin for me to believe in him.

    God, being omniscient and omnipotent, has the knowledge and wherewithal to provide me with what I would need in order to believe in him. That he has (obviously) not provided that tells me that either he does not know how to get me to believe, does not have the ability to provide me with what I need to believe, does not care whether I believe or doesn’t exist.

    People always ask atheists, “What would it take to get you to believe in God?” My answer is, I don’t know. Obviously, it hasn’t shown up yet. On the other hand, God, in all his omniscient glory, does know what it would take. If God actually wanted me to believe, he could just provide me with the evidence that I require for belief. The ball is in his court.

  • The Bofa on the Sofa

    I should add that, in response to the claim that “God wants you to choose to believe in him based on your own free will, and if it were obvious then you would have no choice,” I offer his point 5:

    I have experienced miracles. I’m not talking about improbable things happening. I’m talking about impossible things happening with a disembodied personality explaining it telepathically.

    Well isn’t this guy special! God chooses to reveal himself to this guy through a miracle. Why can’t he do that with me? Or Courtney? Or whatever other atheist is still around?

    God apparently has no problem revealing himself to some people, so don’t give me the “He can’t make it too obvious” nonsense.

  • Wisdom, Justice, Love

    Empty platitude + Dunning-Kreuger.

    If God wants us to CHOOSE him, why are Christians FORCING him on us in virtually every aspect of the public square? Why are they going against “god’s will” and denying the ability to choose?

  • Milo C

    I guess #6 is an attempt at a process of elimination? i.e., If other gods were actually historical people, then that leaves only my god as the real one.

    I couldn’t list all the things wrong with this logic.

  • Jim Jones

    Please! Not even close.

    > The transitions are missing, and there are ducks in dinosaur layers.

    Not even close. For homo sapiens alone, there are 7 billion examples of transitions still living and there are duck in those layers.

    > I have found it to be true, that if you don’t first choose to trust God, you will never experience God.

    Define ‘God’.

    (I could continue, but why?)

  • ThaneOfDrones

    When I explain what atheism is, it is a statement of fact, not an argument.

    It is a definition. If everyone up and decided one day that ‘literally’ no longer meant ‘literally’, then it literally would no longer mean that.

  • ThaneOfDrones

    1. Living Fossils by Carl Werner shows that just about every fossil we find has either a living counterpart or is a member of a handful of distinct, extinct species. The transitions are missing, and there are ducks in dinosaur layers.

    Your answer was totally legit. But furthermore, if the commenter wants to argue evolution, the individual points he made were completely wrong.

    a) Trilobites. There are more than a “handful”. Trilobites, in all their diversity, are a perfect examplar of evolutionary diversity. And there are many others.

    b) The transitions are not missing. For a good treatment of multiple cases of transitional series, I recommend Evolution: What the fossils say and why it matters by Donald Prothero (ISBN: 9780231139625)

    c) Ducks in dinosaur layers? Ducks are dinosaurs.

  • Jim Baerg

    re: why believers distrust atheists.
    I think the main reason is that all too often, smear campaigns work.

  • Martin Penwald

    I do not believe there are no gods.

    I don’t turn it like that. I just point that they are certain, in fact that they believe, that Gzor, Crom or Freya do not exist.

  • Rational Human
  • Freethinker33

    I recently had a friend (who does have religious belief) note that it could be easily argued that Christians worship a dinosaur, given that the “Holy Spirit” is often portrayed in art as a dove…

  • rationalobservations?

    My only disagreement with this otherwise excellent OP is the fact that as an atheist I do not believe in any of the millions of undetected and undetectable gods goddesses and.god-men. Not just the one called “Yahweh” borrowed by bronze age barbarians from the Canaanites and previously part of the pantheon of many tribes and nations.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “Are These 7 Arguments For A Creator God Convincing?”

    No. What would be convincing is evidence, not arguments.

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “Are These 7 Arguments For A Creator God Convincing?”

    Which creator god? Zeus? Odin? Some other god or goddess?

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “4. The point of life here on earth is not to enjoy it, or even to find love and procreate. The point is to test our faith.”

    Those are claims, not arguments. No evidence is presented to prove the claims.

    That being the fact, those claims are just as valid as the following claims:

    1) I have always existed and I created the universe so I would have some place to store my stuff.
    2) I went overboard when I created the universe to store my stuff, and made a universe that was a lot larger than I needed
    3) I created life in this universe so I would not be lonely
    4) since the universe is a lot larger than I needed it to be, I don’t mind sharing it so you people will have a place to store your stuff as well.
    5) along with creating life so I won’t be lonely, the purpose of humanity’s existence is to make my life easier…. but a lot of you are not living up to your full potential

  • C_Alan_Nault

    “Living Fossils by Carl Werner shows that just about every fossil we find….”

    That statement makes absolutely no sense. The concept of a living fossil would be like the concept of a spherical square.

    The definition of fossil is:

    https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/fossil

    Fossil: The remains or impression of a prehistoric plant or animal embedded in rock and preserved in petrified form.

  • be kind

    Wonderful! This makes me think of George Carlin’s riff on “stuff.” Perhaps Carlin created the universe as a place to store HIS stuff?

  • Miriam English

    I try to greet religious people as fellow atheists. When they hastily say “Oh, no, I’m not an atheist” I point out in as friendly manner as I can, that they disbelieve in millions of gods; I just disbelieve in one more than they do.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    I have found it to be true, that if you don’t first choose to trust God, you will never experience God.

    Substitute ‘gravity’ for ‘god’…and see how foolish this statement is.

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    God apparently has no problem revealing himself to some people, so don’t give me the “He can’t make it too obvious” nonsense.

    Such revelation is just one more form of abuse, IMHO.

    https://www.barewalls.com/bwcomp/art-print-poster/bw1045409/expose-yourself-to-art.jpg?units=in&ph=24.0&pw=17.8

  • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

    Duckosaurs!

    🙂

  • Jim Jones

    And a hat tip to flammable/inflammable while we’re here.

  • Excellent essay, Courtney! None of that theist’s reasons was convincing at all.

  • That’s a cute idea, but I have been persuaded by other atheists that it is nonsense. If you are an atheist, you have no belief in any god, not just one less.

  • I agree with you on these points. “The point is to test our faith” begs the question.

  • All living species are transitions, aren’t they?

  • Thank you for articulating this idea. It was the basis of my 2010 book.

  • They aren’t forcing him on us. They are just promoting their beliefs. They aren’t denying us the ability to choose. We still choose.

  • Miriam English

    How is that nonsense? The people I say this to believe in one god.
    1 – 1 = 0
    I do not believe in any gods.

    You’re missing the point of saying it that way. It is to prompt religious people to understand that they, too, are atheist with respect to all other religions. It also builds a bridge from religion to atheism that can help them understand where we are coming from and empathise with us.

  • Jim Jones

    Indeed. Not one of us is identical to another, barring identical twins etc.

  • Cozmo the Magician
  • Cozmo the Magician

    BEE ESS. When they make it so that ONLY christians are allowed to lead prayers at public events THAT is pushing their belief. When they DEMAND that books that teach about various gender identities be removed from libraries ‘because god’, THAT is pushing their belief. When they get LAWS passed DEMANDING that ‘In GOD WE TRUST’ be displayed in ALL public schools, THAT is pushing their beliefs.

    BEEE ESS.

  • The nonsense is when you say “they, too, are atheist with respect to all other religions.” To use the word “atheist” in this way is mistaken. If a person is a theist, they cannot be an atheist in any way. “Atheist” never refers to “all other religions.” It refers to all gods. A person is either an atheist or they are not. A person who believes in a single god cannot be an atheist in any way.

    I know the point you are trying to make, and I once thought the same way, but some other atheists showed me the error.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    epic fail…

    “I’m talking about impossible things happening”

  • Cozmo the Magician

    crockoduck!

  • Cozmo the Magician

    All OTHER comic book heroes were made up, except for Howard the Duck.

  • Duncan R. Bryson

    This point, ie No. 4, confirmed:
    “3. You cannot get away from confirmation bias. It is impossible to just follow the evidence where it leads”.
    Rather ironic when the writer puts their head in their own noose.

  • Duncan R. Bryson

    Using early indoctrination like Jesus Camp.

  • Duncan R. Bryson

    One of the worst garbled list of arguments I’ve come across. I found it impossible to logically follow some parts.
    Transitional – some theists don’t seem to understand that, at any stage along the evolutionary spectrum, an example of flora or fauna is a species in it’s own right. If we look either side of this point, all examples appear the same. It’s only when considering a wide range do we see incremental change – the big picture. The extremists in religion have a rather narrow view point – in more ways than one.

  • Miriam English

    I’m sorry, but they have misled you. Atheism is really supposed to be kinda the opposite of dogma… in many ways, that’s the whole point. To turn the definition of atheism into a dogmatic, narrow, all-or-none thing is a mistake.

    The dictionary definition of atheism has two slightly different parts:

    atheism
    n 1: the doctrine or belief that there is no God [syn: {godlessness}] [ant: {theism}]
    2: a lack of belief in the existence of God or gods

    The people who convinced you of an exclusive definition of atheism are choosing only the first half and saying that’s the only one. That’s not only an error in language, it is a tactical error. What I’m trying to get religious people to see is that the term atheism includes them, and that it really is only a tiny step to move from disbelieving in millions of gods to disbelieving in all of them. They are already atheists with respect to all other gods (as in the second part of atheism’s definition).

  • paulsilvan

    About miracles, If something you feel is impossible ACTUALLY HAPPENS, well guess what? Then it IS (was) physically possible even if we don’t understand how, and no matter HOW UNLIKELY it is (was). Nothing which is physically IMPOSSIBLE HAS EVER happened nor WILL IT ever happen ANYWHERE in this universe or anywhere else. EVERYTHING which IS physically possible WILL eventually happen given the right set of circumstances and the infinitely long future of the cosmos (not to be confused with our universe, which DID have a beginning and WILL eventually come to an end).

    As for creation, Nothing in the cosmos has EVER been created by a god. The cosmos not only has an infinite future, but also has had an infinite past. Given its infinite past, SOME form of life has ALWAYS EXISTED someplace in the endless (as far as time and space are concerned) cosmos. The only question is how that life arrived in THIS particular universe and from there, on THIS particular planet. Life was NOT created here; it ARRIVED here from somewhere else and then EVOLVED into the ecosystem of Earth within which we live and exist. This is the ONLY scientifically logical possibility, in my humble opinion.

  • paulsilvan

    About miracles, If something you THINK is impossible ACTUALLY HAPPENS, well guess what? Then it IS (was) physically possible even if we don’t understand how, and no matter HOW UNLIKELY it is (was). Nothing which is physically IMPOSSIBLE HAS EVER happened nor WILL IT ever happen ANYWHERE in this universe or anywhere else. EVERYTHING which IS physically possible WILL eventually happen given the right set of circumstances and the infinitely long future of the cosmos (not to be confused with our universe, which DID have a beginning and WILL eventually come to an end).

    As for creation, Nothing in the cosmos has EVER been created by a god. The cosmos not only has an infinite future, but also has had an infinite past. Given its infinite past, SOME form of life or non-living DNA from which life could theoretically be made, has ALWAYS EXISTED someplace in the endless (as far as time and space are concerned) cosmos. The only question is how that life arrived in THIS particular universe and from there, on THIS particular planet. Life, or the components from which life is made, was NOT created here by a god; it ARRIVED here from somewhere else and then EVOLVED into the ecosystem of Earth within which we live and exist. This is the ONLY scientifically logical possibility, in my humble opinion.

    I define COSMOS as “the infinitely large space within which all of the presumably infinite number of universes exist”.

  • ME3: I’m sorry, but they have misled you.

    GW3: I disagree, but I’m willing to hear you out.

    ME3: Atheism is really supposed to be kinda the opposite of dogma… in many ways, that’s the whole point. To turn the definition of atheism into a dogmatic, narrow, all-or-none thing is a mistake.

    GW3: I disagree. This has nothing to do with what atheism is “supposed to be.” This is about a definition. An atheist is a person who lacks beliefs in God, gods, and the supernatural. That definition is firm, specific, and clear. It is not a mistake.

    ME3: The dictionary definition of atheism has two slightly different parts:
    atheism
    n 1: the doctrine or belief that there is no God [syn: {godlessness}] [ant: {theism}]
    2: a lack of belief in the existence of God or gods

    GW3: You failed to cite your reference and provide a link.

    ME3: The people who convinced you of an exclusive definition of atheism are choosing only the first half and saying that’s the only one.

    GW3: The first definition you present here is obsolete and incorrect. I am using a definition very similar to the second. See above.

    ME3: That’s not only an error in language, it is a tactical error. What I’m trying to get religious people to see is that the term atheism includes them, and that it really is only a tiny step to move from disbelieving in millions of gods to disbelieving in all of them. They are already atheists with respect to all other gods (as in the second part of atheism’s definition).

    GW3: I not only disagree, but I think you are clearly mistaken, both in language and tactically. Atheism does not include religious people. It can’t! An atheist lacks any beliefs in God, gods, and the supernatural. A religious person has one or more of these beliefs. To say that atheism includes religious people leads to a contradiction. It is not tactically wise to endorse contradictions to believers.

    GW3: I believe that if you think about it a little more, you will change your mind as I did.

  • billwald

    Serious question: How, in what pragmatic, logical, theological . . . ways does not believing in God differ from not believing that humans cause climate change, that capitalism is good and socialism is evil, that some people are born lucky, that IQ is an inherited trait, in space aliens . . . that the moon is made out of green cheese?

    My point? That “believing in” does not demonstrate any cause and effect and might be a more appropriate subject for psychiatrists than “we, the general public.” It is of no pragmatic value except the psychcological effect on one’s chosen activities and judgement.

  • Miriam English

    All religious people lie to themselves. (“I know god is real” and “I know the Bible/Koran/Book of Mormon/Bhagavad gita/Torah is true.”)

    Most religious people are trying to be good people so their lying is not malicious; it is self-deception. As you say, they think that they need to believe.

    I’ve met many religious people who are incredulous when I tell them I don’t believe in anything — information is accepted on evidence and is always provisional. If further information disproves something I’m honestly delighted to let it go and embrace the improved knowledge. They say, “But you MUST believe in something!” I ask them simply, “Why?”

    Many religious people knowingly lie to “support” their religion, but somehow insulate themselves from it. I often wonder if they later remember and regret it. I think this is what many who you refer to as “controllers” do — convince themselves by their own lies. It is a weird thing to do.

    I have asked religious people why they think a genuine god would have need of faked information, but never get a sensible answer. Most seem to think admitting some of the religious data is false destroys their god. They never seem to see the problem inherent in that way of thinking, and how puny and weak it makes their god. Some Muslims seem to have a particularly low opinion of their god, seeing him as pathologically needy, requiring constant praise and unable to withstand any contrary opinions. Why don’t they see how insulting to a god that would be, if it did exist?

    Religion is a deeply nested set of boxes. We can keep opening boxes, but never seem to arrive at anything substantial.

  • Cleveland Browns? Im more convinced the Detroit Lions will win the Super Bowl.

  • Miriam English

    I’m getting the strong impression that you’re arguing merely for the sake of arguing.

    You want a reference for a dictionary??? How hard is it to look up a dictionary? Okay, I’m using the free WordNet dictionary. I keep the database on my machine so that I can write my books, scripts, and short stories uninterrupted without needing to go online (which is what I should be doing now). However the definition is also out there on the web for you: http://wordnet-online.freedicts.com/atheism and I think you’ll find most dictionaries have similar dual definitions for atheism. Merriam-Webster does: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheism If you want a more in-depth discussion of how atheism might be defined you could read https://stanford.library.sydney.edu.au/entries/atheism-agnosticism/ though it will leave you hungrier than when you started, like eating a passionfruit does.

    It is interesting that you want a reference for my cut-and-paste dictionary definition, but you state (without reference) that the first part of that definition is “obsolete and incorrect”. Then you proceed to reinterpret the second definition in a way that you think makes what I said wrong. This really puzzles me. You’ll notice many dictionary definitions (including the WordNet one) refer to the disbelief in a god OR many gods. Now, why do you think they would use that specific way of phrasing it if simply saying disbelief in all gods was sufficient?

    As I already said, I am completely atheist. I don’t think any gods exist, though I have written a story examining how a god could exist and why she would be deeply offended by religion. If you’re interested, it is at http://miriam-english.org/stories/scripts/Grace/grace2.html

    I have met atheists who fervently believe that there is no god. It is not simply a lack of belief for them, but an emotionally held dogmatic belief. I’m sure you’ve met them too (perhaps you are one — I don’t know). They are who the first definition refers to. I wish it was an obsolete and no longer relevant definition, but the fact is, it is truly descriptive of real people and the dictionary recognises that.

    As for tactics, it makes sense to build bridges to religious people rather than exclude them. If we can encourage them to see how their disbelief in other gods can so easily be extended to their own god then they might see the untenable nature of their own beliefs and join us, making the world a much safer place in the process.

  • ME4: You want a reference for a dictionary???

    GW4: I want the reference for the specific dictionary you quoted, and the link.

    ME4: How hard is it to look up a dictionary?

    GW4: It is not hard to cite a reference and link either.

    ME4: Okay, I’m using the free WordNet dictionary. I keep the database on my machine so that I can write my books, scripts, and short stories uninterrupted without needing to go online (which is what I should be doing now). However the definition is also out there on the web for you: http://wordnet-online.freed… and I think you’ll find most dictionaries have similar dual definitions for atheism. Merriam-Webster does: https://www.merriam-webster… If you want a more in-depth discussion of how atheism might be defined you could read https://stanford.library.sy… though it will leave you hungrier than when you started, like eating a passionfruit does.

    GW4: Thank you.

    ME4: It is interesting that you want a reference for my cut-and-paste dictionary definition, but that you state (without reference) that the first part of that definition is “obsolete and incorrect”.

    GW4: I read a lot of atheist writings and the philosophy of religion. From such reading it is clear that the first part of that definition you presented is obsolete and incorrect. I think WordNet should just drop it.

    ME4: Then you proceed to reinterpret the second definition in a way that you think makes what I said wrong. This really puzzles me. You’ll notice many dictionary definitions (including the WordNet one) refer to the disbelief in a god OR many gods. Now, why do you think they would use that specific way of phrasing it if simply saying disbelief in all gods was sufficient?

    GW4: The philosophy of religion goes beyond simple dictionary definitions. We should discuss the meaning, correctness, popularity, and utility of those definitions.

    ME4: As I already said, I am completely atheist. I don’t think any gods exist, though I have written a story examining how a god could exist and why she would be deeply offended by religion. If you’re interested, it is at http://miriam-english.org/s

    GW4: I like your premise for the story. Isn’t “completely atheist” redundant? Atheists lack belief in all gods, by definition. “Completely atheist” is sort of like “completely pregnant.”

    ME4: I have met atheists who fervently believe that there is no god. It is not simply a lack of belief for them, but an emotionally held dogmatic belief. I’m sure you’ve met them too. They are who the first definition refers to. I wish it was an obsolete and no longer relevant definition, but the fact is, it is truly descriptive of real people and the dictionary recognises that.

    GW4: This is a misunderstanding about categories. The general category “atheist” simply refers to people who lack belief in gods. There are subcategories of atheists, but the dictionary should give the definition of the general category. Analogy: Imagine a dictionary which gave two definitions of “bird,” one of which was a definition of a canary. This would be inaccurate and misleading. “Canary” is a subcategory of “bird.”

    ME4: As for tactics, it makes sense to build bridges to religious people rather than exclude them. If we can encourage them to see how their disbelief in other gods can so easily be extended to their own god then they might see the untenable nature of their own beliefs and join us, making the world a much safer place in the process.

    GW4: But you can have your cake and eat it too! You can use the same tactic while still being accurate and sincere. You can say “We aren’t so much different. You believe in one god. I believe in no gods. So, I just believe in one less god than you do.” This would be accurate, unlike your earlier statement “What I’m trying to get religious people to see is that the term atheism includes them, and that it really is only a tiny step to move from disbelieving in millions of gods to disbelieving in all of them. They are already atheists with respect to all other gods (as in the second part of atheism’s definition).” That is inaccurate. The category “atheists” does not include religious people! Some famous atheist (not sure who it was) talked in the same way you have been talking, and then the idea caught on and became popular among atheists for awhile. However, other atheists examined the idea and found the flaw in it. I hope that you see it now.

  • I always found the argument of a designer being the entrance into a black hole argument. If you think all the things in the universe needed a creator, what’s the origin of the creator? I used to bother the heck out of my mom with that question – I couldn’t accept “God just always was” as an explanation. I also couldn’t accept “we aren’t capable of understanding god” or “you will have to ask him when you get to heaven”. I wish she had just said she didn’t know.

  • Tiny but fierce

    I don’t see anything convincing there. I’m not an atheist (Deist here) but there is nothing that has ever been presented to me that is at all convincing in favor of the Abrahamic Creation myth.

  • Tiny but fierce

    Especially considering the Abrahamic God was previously one of those Pagan Gods before they got rid of the rest of them.

  • Miriam English

    Jeez. Can you see that all you do is repeat your statement? There is no rational discussion, just repetition. Re-read what you wrote.

    When I ask you why you think the definition usually refers to a god OR gods, you weasel out and don’t really answer, other than a vague waffle that definitions don’t really apply. But YOU are the one hung up on strict definitions, not me.

    When I point out the utility in giving religious people a bridge, you respond with a bewilderingly empty offering — basically saying to them “You believe in a god and I don’t.” How pointless is that? Much better is to shift their perception. Make them think.

    You lazily show nothing to back up a narrow, pedantic definition. I think I’m wasting my time.

  • ME5: Jeez.

    GW5: Are you referring to Jesus?

    ME5: Can you see that all you do is repeat your statement? There is no rational discussion, just repetition. Re-read what you wrote.

    GW5: I think most of my statement is repetitious, just like yours. I am not convinced by your presentation. I don’t know what else to say to show you that you are mistaken.

    ME5: When I ask you why you think the definition usually refers to a god OR gods, you weasel out and don’t really answer, other than a vague waffle that definitions don’t really apply. But YOU are the one hung up on strict definitions, not me.

    GW5: You are contradicting yourself again! I cannot be waffling on a definition if I have a strict definition. I believe this is a clear and rational definition: “An atheist is a person who lacks belief in God, gods, and the supernatural.” I’ve discussed this with many reputable atheists who concur with the definition.

    ME5: When I point out the utility in giving religious people a bridge, you respond with a bewilderingly empty offering — basically saying to them “You believe in a god and I don’t.” How pointless is that? Much better is to shift their perception. Make them think.

    GW5: I gave you a response to give a bridge and be accurate, clear, and honest at the same time. You just don’t accept it.

    ME5: You lazily show nothing to back up a narrow, pedantic definition. I think I’m wasting my time.

    GW5: I think you are wasting your time by clinging to this inaccurate and misleading statement: “What I’m trying to get religious people to see is that the term atheism includes them, and that it really is only a tiny step to move from disbelieving in millions of gods to disbelieving in all of them. They are already atheists with respect to all other gods (as in the second part of atheism’s definition).” I think you have closed your mind to a change on this, but maybe you should solicit the opinions of some other atheists. When you consult with them, be sure to quote yourself accurately, as I have.

    GW5: Religious people are not, have never been, and will never be atheists. Why? Because that entails a contradiction, but you continue to assert it. Also, a person cannot be an atheist with respect to “all other gods” because an atheist lacks belief in all of them! This is clear as a blue sky on a summer day.

  • Miriam English

    I can hardly believe I’ve wasted so much time discussing this with someone who just argues for argument’s sake.

  • I am happy I invested my time in trying to show a fellow atheist how she is embracing a contradiction, even though she still does not see it.

  • Phil

    In many respects religions are quite clever, especially shutting down arguments (in their minds) with statements like “If you don’t first choose to trust God, you will never experience God”

  • Miriam English

    No, you merely proved that being narrow-minded and pedantic is not just something religious people do.

  • That’s just an attack of your opponent, not an argument for your position.

  • Lauren Greene

    How annoying that he chooses to interpret your astute observation as a personal attack on himself.