What Do Atheists Do That Frustrates You? June 6, 2010

What Do Atheists Do That Frustrates You?

A while back, I asked: What do Christians say or do that frustrates you?

A whole bunch of you responded with very insightful thoughts.

Now, let’s turn it back on ourselves.

What do other atheists do or say that frustrates you?

I wonder if this thread will be anywhere as long as the other one…


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  • littlejohn

    “I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual.”
    What the hell does that mean? If you’re too cowardly to call yourself an atheist, shut up.
    Aside from that, we atheists are, of course, perfect.

  • Carmela

    The question is not one that can be simply answered. As atheist we differ as much as christian sects. We have militant atheists, closet atheists, so on and so forth. I see myself as an atheist and not anti-theist. Live and let live but always willing to share.

  • rbray18

    hmmm,cause i love pointing out the flaws in others to scab over my own insecurities i’ll say i hate it when atheists say someone isn’t helping out the cause.like recently with draw Mohammed day or when p.z. myers breathes or something.here i am thinking i broke free from the herd but noooooooooo appears i’m still part of one,yay!

  • David of Maine

    I get frustrated when an atheist can’t just stop harping on someone of faith, and just let them believe what they believe.

    When an atheist does that, they are no better than a person of faith who can’t stop preaching.

  • ronald

    nothing

  • The one thing that really bothers me is when atheists descend into pettiness and make mean-spirited comments during a debate. I am all for attacking poor ideas, and I get a kick out of gleefully deconstructing ridiculous logical fallacies -but I never confuse the bad idea with the person, which many people do, unfortunately.

    Attacking a person’s beliefs and misunderstandings is fine. We need to do that. That is how we combat poor thinking -I became an atheist because I paid attention to the people who were destroying bad ideas and flaws in logic, especially those who did it with passion. Attacking another person individually, however, solves nothing. It’s just mean.

  • They continuously fail to recognize that I have all of the answers to everything…(What is wrong with these people?)

  • Microbiologychick

    I don’t like atheists who don’t know the bible, but still want to debate Christians about it.

  • Dave

    I don’t agree with ridicule or making fun of people. I do agree with criticizing beliefs with reason and evidence.

  • Hat

    I grew up with the people around me believing Atheists were the kind of people who, once you started talking to them, would try their utmost damnedest to try and deconstruct your beliefs and force you not to believe in god and that they were right and you were retarded for believing in religion.

    Unfortunately, I am now placed in this ridiculous box because of the people who do just what I mentioned above. Those are the kind of Atheists I strongly dislike, and the ones who try to disguise their abuse of the religious as ‘We’re only having a debate’ are worse. Having a healthy debate is completely fine.

    However, verbally insulting someone and their intelligence just because they have a different view on things makes you look like a cunt. If a decent debate ever starts to show signs of going down this road, just agree to disagree and walk away. No one needs to stoop down to playground levels.

  • Re

    To put it bluntly, I have not seen a lot of respect for other anti-oppression movements and their theoretical work among atheists. This means that there’s not a lot of Privilege 101 awareness going on, and it gets frustrating fast.
    Also, atheists tend to valorize the ‘hard sciences’ above all others. This is problematic for a number of reasons, but mostly because it treats science and medicine as a necessarily positive progression independent from the social/political context of the fields.

  • tim

    Classic example of an annoying trait from some Atheists is accusing those that attend church or believe in a god of being delusional. Bill Maher did this bit on his show a couple of weeks ago.

  • The argument that Christians should not trim their beards, eat shellfish or wear blended fabric clothes – because the Old Testament says they shouldn’t. Even the most superficial reading of the Bible (which even atheists like myself ought to be capable of) makes it clear why this is fallacious.

  • Piggybacking on Microgbiologychick’s comment, I get frustrated when atheists claim that they know “The Bible” better than Christians do. That’s a gross generalization based on what is likely anecdotal experience. I think it is arrogant.

    btw- My distaste for the Bible is not the reason that I am an atheist. I don’t care about it all that much, except that it is necessary to know some of the Bible to understand literature references. Much like knowing mythology or Shakespeare, it has influenced the culture.

  • Tori Aletheia

    I hate when atheists won’t acknowledge/call themselves atheists…i.e. when someone calls themselves an agnostic, but when pressed to answer the question “Do you believe in God?” with a yes or no, they say no. Well guess what? If you don’t believe in God, you’re an atheist whether you like the label or not!

  • I find it frustrating when some atheists say that because they personally have not been discriminated against by Christians that anti-atheist bigotry and discrimination do not exist.

  • jazz

    I agree with Microbiologychick… I think knowing other people’s beliefs(christian faith and other religion) makes you a better atheist… before I became an atheist I was once a christian because I was brought up that way…Later on as I grow up and question things knowing whats inside the bible and compare it to scientific facts I can defend myself properly when christians(mostly my family and friends) try to bash me with their arguments.

  • Jim (elbuho)

    During my 5 years as a Christian, I loved the warmth, inclusiveness, the welcoming, the sense of belonging. The fellowship, in other words. Now, as an atheist, I guess I was expecting some of that at conferences and other atheist/skeptic/humanist events, but have been quite disappointed at the lack thereof. There tends to be friendly banter between participants on Twitter and Facebook in the run up, but once you get there the friendliness has dried up and gone. It takes a real effort, and usually large quantities of alcohol, to break down the barriers, which is a great shame.

  • Val

    I am frustrated by hypocrite atheists who evangelize their lack of religion (much like Christians evangelize their belief in a god) and insist that they are right and everyone else is wrong (much like Christians do). I’m frustrated by the little box atheists have created for themselves. It really would be easier if we could all just be who we are and let others be who they are, but this doesn’t seem possible. Even atheists want everyone else to be atheists. It’s all very arrogant really. And, for the record, I’m an atheist because I don’t believe in a god, but I apparently can’t join their “club” because I also believe in reincarnation. Smug much?

  • Brad

    When atheists single out the behavior of one religious crackpot and use that as a justification for abandonment of religion. Hemant does this all too often and it’s an incredibly weak argument and it comes across as petty and truculent.

    Let’s be clear: there are crackpots out there in any grouping of people, including atheists. But just as the religious would be unjustified in pointing to crackpot atheists to justify their religion, the opposite is also true. Crackpots simply shouldn’t be part of the conversation.

  • john locke

    I am frustrated when I see atheists use bad arguments or become overly confrontational with religious people

  • Rubbs

    As an atheist, it really bothers me when someone is an atheist for rebellious reasons. They identify as atheists, but when you discuss what evidence they have for their beliefs it’s usually something like: “I just don’t like religion.” Some do have evidence, but their attitude is more for being contrary to society rather than a love of truth. It seems to be a motivation for younger people, as young or younger than I am.

    As an atheist, I’m not sure why it bothers me. I do believe that they truly don’t believe in a deity, but their motivations and attitudes bother me. It doesn’t help that many Christians paint atheists in general as just a rebellious group of people.

    I do however make a distinction between people like PZ and your average angsty teenager. PZ uses belligerence as a tool to fight against ignorance and hypocrisy, while the rebellious sorts just use it to insult others.

    This is of course entirely just my opinion. Others may take this whole issue differently.

  • Amy

    Atheists who assume that being an atheist automatically makes you a skeptic or totally rational and therefore gives their beliefs (no matter how pseudo-scientific or illogical) some sort of authority.

  • @Mike Haubrich, FCD:

    To be fair, some atheists do know the bible better than most Christians. Many, in fact, studied the Bible in college, or even majored in bible study.

  • spacestudent

    I don’t like the supernaturalism of e.g. Buddhists and new agers. I don’t like atheists supporting the bogus claims of alternative medicines, such as cracking backs for sugar (chiropractic treatment of diabetes) or water-memory (homeopathy). It’s frustrating to think that these people can take one mental step away from delusional imaginations but not understand that there’s another step left to take before you stop being delusional. I think delusions are worse than imaginations, so these people frustrate me way more than keep-it-to-yourself religious attitudes of gods.

    It’s also frustrating how some atheists accuses others of not being ‘true atheists’ because we take the null hypothesis approach to the concept of gods. How can a logical argument ever triumph over physical evidence? And why in the world am I not an atheist because I think the lack of evidence is more important than any argument for gods? I don’t like the mental dissonance of these atheists.

    I get frustrated by stupidity whenever I see it, it’s just more annoying when I see it happen to people with whom I, per definition, share a certain view about the world. These and many more things frustrate me about atheists.

    The reason I get frustrated, I think, is that I don’t really know how to deal with the people stuck in these dogmatic mental traps. It’s the same as Creationists, HIV-AIDS denialists, moon-landing conspirators, believers of anti-vaccination propaganda and astrologers among many others. It’s frustrating to not be able to talk with someone because they don’t speak Reason.

  • Kyle

    I don’t like it when those calling themselves atheists love to give free pass to religion all the same. I had a friend, not long ago, comment on the article I reposted about the guy in India who claims to have not eaten or drunk anything for 80 years. Her only complaint about that was, “They’re studying this spiritual man so they can teach his technique to soldiers?!” She totally missed the point. Now, I like studying about religions mostly to pick at their philosophies and debunk them. But I think some atheists are too willing to let believers run wild. I guess this makes me a “militant” atheist, to which I say “Cheers!”

  • Atheists tend to dismiss or underestimate the difficulties of serious philosophical questions. Whole sets of questions which religion or theology more specifically falsely claim to have good answers to but don’t, still require difficult philosophical solutions that science itself (as currently delineated) cannot strictly speaking provide by itself either. While some questions that religion has false pretenses to be able to answer really are just misconceived and worth abandoning, there are many legitimate philosophical questions that atheists are too impatient and presumptuous about having answers about rather than admit there is an indeterminacy or complexity they don’t understand.

    In other words, on philosophical questions which require careful conceptual analysis and systematic rigor, atheists tend to be in as much a rush to feel like questions are easily and either resolved using common sense or science when they are not.

  • Fundie Troll

    Hmmm…how about when atheists take fringe cult movements and paint them as legitimate forms of Christianity?

    Note to atheists: Westboro Baptist Church bothers us just as much (if not more) than it bothers you…

  • Tony

    The argument that Christians should not trim their beards, eat shellfish or wear blended fabric clothes – because the Old Testament says they shouldn’t. Even the most superficial reading of the Bible (which even atheists like myself ought to be capable of) makes it clear why this is fallacious.

    I would only use such an argument in response to the quoting of Leviticus 18:22 in an attempt to justify homophobia. The argument is “Homosexuality is an abomination because it says so in the bible” to which you can point out the other things that are in the bible that the alleged moral crusader decides to overlook.

    What I dislike is when atheists describe all believers as weak minded or stupid for having faith. It simply is not true.

  • Fundie Troll

    Oh and of course the fact that they deny the deity of Christ 🙂

  • Fundie Troll

    What I dislike is when atheists describe all believers as weak minded or stupid for having faith. It simply is not true.

    I never thought I’d hear those words spoken by an atheist!

  • It bugs me when atheists insist that avowed theists that they happen to like must be secret atheists.

    Often their (stated) reasoning is something like “he’s so smart, he’s got to be an atheist.” This “reasoning” also bugs me, because I know a lot of (otherwise) really smart believers.

  • Jonathon

    I find it frustrating that many athiests tend to play the more educated than the “ignorant” christians card. Just as the post not to long ago that called agnostics, athiests with no guts. I don’t like the bullying tactics that are used by either christians or athiests for persuasion.

  • Evilspud

    The smug looks.

  • phira

    As a Jewish atheist, I don’t like it when I’m told that I can’t possibly be both. Considering the number of Jewish atheists I know, besides myself, I find it pretty insulting. And I don’t just mean ethnically Jewish atheists, or culturally Jewish. I mean, going to services, observing holidays type Jewish. And yet a whole bunch of us don’t believe in any god, or take the word of the holy scripture as absolute truth.

    I think in general, there’s a lack of knowledge of how some religions work. I feel like people who understand Judaism well wouldn’t have any trouble understanding how you could be a practicing Jew and not believe in God at all.

  • Devon

    I hate atheists who don’t understand the meaning of their own labels and call themselves agnostics. You can’t just be an Agnostic, that is a knowledge claim. You are either an Agnostic Atheist, or an Agnostic Theist. Never just an Agnostic.

    And no, there is no middle ground there. Because the closer and closer you get to the middle you eventually find that important “Do you believe in a higher power?” question. If you can say Yes then you are a Theist, if you say anything else you are an Atheist.

    I hate Atheists who think we need to be more like a religion. The ones who try to come up with the ten commandments of Atheism, or the ones who blindly follow other prominent atheists rather than examining their beliefs and deciding for themselves.

  • It really ticks me off when an atheist decides to “debate” a Christian and they really haven’t read the Bible or done their research. It embarrasses all of us, and it’s exactly like when Christians try to “debate” atheists after only reading Christian sites describing what atheists are like. 😛

    It’s also pretty annoying when one of us gets all het up and calls all believers morons, etc. That’s something that I did once or twice myself until I got a kick in the pants from my mother-in-law, who is Catholic and an amazing human being. It’s easy to generalize, and we really, really, really, really SHOULDN’T.

    I also get a little annoyed at some of the younger atheists/people who have just become atheists because they’re so incredibly enthusiastic about it, and everything is about their atheism. That, I try to be understanding about, since I went through a stage like that myself. I find it akin to when someone first falls in love, and they want to tell everyone about this momentous thing in their life. Which is understandable, but I don’t necessarily want to hear all about it, particularly when that enthusiasm crosses over the line to a smug sense of superiority.

  • Tamara

    1) Too smug
    2) Too “intellectual” or condescending toward others with differing viewpoints
    3) Too willing to pick fights just to get a rise out of someone
    4) Coming across as someone closed minded to their beliefs- being closed minded did not get you to atheism, so why should you start now?
    5) Discounting the states of mind “baby atheists” (agnostics, non-religious types) have instead of embracing their UPGRADE from believing and encouraging further growth (if you’re a real jerk to them, and you’re an atheist, what is their incentive for becoming one as well?)
    6) And echoing the sentiments of some of the others, as a mother of 4, it would be really nice to have a gathering place for like-minded families for camps, Womens groups, fundraising, childcare, etc.—perhaps when we all come out of the closet this will be possible!

  • Claudia

    I can think of a few things (non applicable to all atheists, but certainly some):

    1. Harping about how people do bad things motivated by religion but refusing to acknowledge that there are people who do good things motivated by religion, things that no, they might not otherwise do.

    2. (Especially applicable to my fellow lifelong atheists) Blithely assuming that people can just come to nonreligion easily, and that a failure to do so is merely a sign of stupidity. Its not like it’s hard to see how people are emotionally entangled in their religion and how deeply their lives are intertwined with the religious community. Pretending this sort of step is easy strikes me as insensitive and not helpful.

    3. Assuming that being an atheist makes you smart, or scientifically minded. I remember being astonished to find atheists that believed in homeopathy, or were anti-vaxxers (see Bill Maher). Being rational in one thing does not mean you are rational in all things. Oh and that brings me to:

    4. Assuming that the religious are incapable of rational thought and are all stupid. Francis Collins frustrates me too, but people compartmentalize, and many can hold what are patently irrational ideas about the supernatural while still managing a rational mindset in other things.

  • Amy wrote:

    Atheists who assume that being an atheist automatically makes you a skeptic or totally rational and therefore gives their beliefs (no matter how pseudo-scientific or illogical) some sort of authority.

    Funny, I’m often irritated by atheists who aren’t skeptics and rationalists, like Bill Maher. But, I do realize that this is because I am an atheist and a skeptic and that one doesn’t automatically follow with the other. I just don’t understand why the two don’t go together for some people.

  • Fionna

    I hate when atheists are just as narrow minded as the people they argue against. I’m atheist and have religious friends, doesn’t bother me. I have an atheist friend though, who treats ‘believers’ as if they are all ignorant and worthless. I think they just haven’t realized the absurdity of their beliefs yet and that some people never will. That doesn’t mean I can’t be friends with them though. 🙂

  • Stephen P

    @Tony: why restrict it to that single verse? Isn’t it a perfectly fair response to someone trying to dictate other people’s behaviour on the basis of any biblical commandment?

  • Sean Wills

    I can’t stand it when atheists claim that we shouldn’t criticize the arguments of fellow atheists, even if those arguments are obviously of poor quality. I’ve actually had people outright tell me that I should stick to arguing with Christians rather than arguing with ‘my side’.

    Which is another problem: the world is not divided into ‘us vs. them’, or at least it doesn’t have to be in all cases.

    I also hate seeing atheists making one weak counter-argument after another rather than admit that a theistic argument does have some merit.

  • Spootmeister

    I hate it when atheists automatically assume they’re generally more rational than every theist. That attitude also leads to verbal abuse quite commonly, which is something else I hate seeing.

    Something I’m not sure how to describe, but which greatly annoyed me, nonetheless: Recently on The Atheist Experience show, Jeff Dee and Matt Dillahunty had a caller named “Charles”. He claimed that the so-called “New Atheists” are dangerous because, if their ideas are accepted at large, they’ll lead to the destruction/removal of his methods of protecting himself against the atrocities inflicted due to materialism (or something like that). I’m not quite sure what he meant by that (and he couldn’t articulate it, himself), but I think Matt, at least, should have been able to see what kinds of things were meant by “the atrocities inflicted by materialism” (or however it was phrased). Consider the transporter thought experiment. One of the issues it raises is whether the person existing prior to transport was killed and replaced by an exact copy. Science can tell us that the before-person and the after-person are 100% similarly constituted, but what it can’t tell us (as far as I can tell) is whether the former was killed. We could very well be talking about two different minds here, which is why this thought experiment should not be ignored! Anyway, the part that actually annoyed me was how Jeff and Matt (the latter of whom I respect and admire… the former of whom I don’t respect much and definitely don’t admire) treated Charles poorly while offering very little, if any (though my memory might be failing me on this) constructive dialogue. If one of them had mentioned, say, the above thought experiment, the ball might have gotten rolling. Their hanging up on him when he mentioned he was a solipsist also irritated me, since it’s not the position they thought it was.

    Springboarding off of that, it annoys me to no end when some atheists put philosophy down, thinking science alone sufficient to solve every problem related to the real world (I don’t think Dillahunty is one of these people, though). You can put me with Camels With Hammers on this, as well as the general phenomenon he mentions.

  • Tim

    Language (and I don’t mean “curse” words). The gist is that atheists need to know their audience. I like “big” words but I have to constantly remind myself that most people do not check Meriam-Websters Word of the Day to increase their vocabulary. It is difficult to have a discussion when the other person’s mind shuts down (if it wasn’t already) when they stop to figure out what a word means. Unfortunately, too many people can’t figure such things out by context either.

    Language can also turn off other atheists. This is even true in the blogosphere for sites that have outright stated that their intent is to include/invite theists in discussion. Friendly Atheist is one of the very few that does not do that…for reals. 8)

    Many atheists that I read or know use language that has either never been or is no longer in every day use. I sometimes catch myself doing this. In other words, whether talking about general things like life or specific things like science, atheists often talk to theists as though we need to *prove* that we are more intelligent instead of letting the facts speak for themselves, which they do…much more eloquently than we ever could. We all know that understanding the truth (or the path to the truth) does not indicate intelligence. I know stupid atheists too. I sometimes am one.

    BTW: LOLs @ Frame Dragger on the Facebook version of the thread.

  • I didn’t become an atheist because someone crossed out “God” on a dollar bill or by making a video showing how ridiculous some religious people are. I became an atheist because I was curious how the world worked and I realized that science provided answers while religion was just myth. Since that was my path to atheism I’m biased into thinking that’s the best way, so I’m annoyed with the overly confrontational methods some atheists use. I fear that while it may win some people over, it causes others to just dig in, making it that much harder to free them from their religious shackles.

  • Aj

    a) Patronizing believers by claiming people need belief for some reason, i.e. belief in belief.

    b) Saying that Jesus was a great moral teacher, when the NT is lunacy and wicked.

    c) Not criticizing irrational beliefs that resolve in conclusions they agree with.

  • TonyM

    When they use religious comments trying to be sincere.

    A friend was murdered on June 1st. The funeral was yesterday. When I announced I wasn’t attending an event because of the funeral another atheist, knowing I’m an atheist, said in the group “Our prayers are with you.” Wha?

    Later I asked him why he said that. His response: “So I wouldn’t upset the Christians that were there. Wasn’t the time to get a debate going.”

  • Korinthian

    @Tim: That could easily be interpreted as “speak slowly to the dumb believers”.

  • rbray18 Says:
    “…i hate it when atheists say someone isn’t helping out the cause.”

    I really hate this too. The lack of understanding that there are different personalities across atheism that are free to express themselves as they like and also that religious people who might actually be able to be convinced to come around to reason will respond to different approaches.

    After Greg Epstein’s unsupportive comments towards “Draw Mohammad Day” I have taken him off my list of atheist voices that I look up to.

    rbray18 Says:
    …or when p.z. myers breathes or something…

    For those who didn’t see this… scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/06/i_get_email_58.php (Note comment #14.)

  • joiman

    I’m friends with an atheist who’s always looking for a fight, to the degree that you can’t say “bless you” when he sneezes. I’m not summoning otherworldly powers, dude … just being polite. Also he bristles at celebrating Christmas, which is just dumb.

  • ckitching

    how about when atheists take fringe cult movements and paint them as legitimate forms of Christianity?

    And why aren’t they legitimate forms of Christianity? They selectively interpret their bibles just like any other Christian, but they place different emphasis on certain parts. Why is Calvinism, for example, not legitimate? Otherwise all you’ve said is that they’re not “True Scotsmen”.

    As for the topic of the blog post, I think the thing that irritates me would be those who tell other atheists to shut up, and not burst the bubbles of the faithful. That strikes me as terribly condescending.

  • jonas

    it’s annoying how closely they adhere to science. if it’s not proven then it’s off limits. if you even simply leave the subject as an ambiguous “maybe idk no one has the answer”, then they treat u like an idiot. they shun religion but then treat science like one. if religion is the explanation of all things unproven and science is the explanation of all things we can prove, then science is still extremely limited. its the equivalent of pre-school finger painting. science will take us far. but to adhere to it like a religion to me just seems quite radical and leaves no sense of mystery.

  • Triobios

    The same things that frustrates me with other groups. Ignorance, an inflated sense of self-worth, bad rhetoric, inability or unwillingness to change a position when new evidence comes to light and so on (the list goes on forever).

    The worst thing is when I notice these same things in myself.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    The argument that Christians should not trim their beards, eat shellfish or wear blended fabric clothes – because the Old Testament says they shouldn’t. Even the most superficial reading of the Bible (which even atheists like myself ought to be capable of) makes it clear why this is fallacious.

    Even if that superficial reading of the Bible includes Matt 5:17 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.,” and is used in response to a Christian who is attempting to uphold other Old Testament passages, like the condemnation of gays in Leviticus, or the 10 commandments?

  • Not a lot bothers me, because I am biased. 🙂

    The few things that do bother me are:

    When Atheists generalize religious folks into one broad category. I hate it when it’s done to me as an Atheist, and I hate it when it’s done to others. Maybe it’s because I once believed in all those silly beliefs, but just because someone believes in one stupid thing, doesn’t make them an all around idiot.

    When we assume all Atheists are liberal. I know it’s a small margin, but there are Conservative Atheists. I know at first I assumed all Atheists were kind, rational, liberal, intelligent folk, but that isn’t 100% true. 🙁 Just like all Christians aren’t fundies.

    I like how MiketheInfidel (I think) said it a few months back, how being Atheist was much like him being male. I was born an Atheist (though my parents tried to change that), much like I was born female. And it was pure luck that some of us weren’t indoctrinated with fairy tales. So that attitude of superiority is unnecessary. (Even though I know in a heated debate with an idiot, no matter what their beliefs, I can take on a superior attitude.)

    It also bothers me when we don’t pick our battles better. The Mother Teresa stamp, for example. We should try to add to, not take away from, the silly things like that. We should push for equality and justice, no matter what.

  • Christopher

    I’d say that what the so-called “new Athiest” movement in my country does that pisses me off the most is try to compete with the religious section of society – they try to be just as (if not more) giving to “charity” (a joke); to present themselves to be as “moral” (as if “morality” was anything more than a hollow, empty shell of an idea) than the religious folks; etc…

    While I can see where they are coming from (they feel the need to replace faith in all possible aspects) I see them going about it in a manner that is dubious at best – I suggest that, instead of trying to be as much like religion as possible, each individual non-believer goes forth and creates his/her own values in life and leaves the dead and dying mores and values of faith to rot: instead of competing to give more to “charity,” spend that money in a manner that advances *you* as an individual; instead of trying to be “moral” live by what’s in *your* best interests (“morality” be damned) and carve out your own lot in life instead of trying to fill a slot left behind by the death of faith.

  • jonas

    i also hate how we need to be litigious about things. that makes us look like cry-baby liberals and snot-nosed-lawyer-calling jews. and i hate that. we need to come out of the closet to america in a general way. not piss off everyone by using lawyers and technicalities. atheists are going to go from godless bastards, to lawyer thumping, elite mentality, snobs. we shud really take a stance like the vampires in the show Tru Blood.

  • Steve

    I hate how we are so eager to put ourselves down, and we do this in a variety of ways. For example, on nonprophetstatus they recently did an interview with a journalist who claims that “even atheists can be stupid.” Well… of course! And the whole interview reeked of the bending-over-backwards positioning to knock our movement down a peg to appease the believers. However, instances like these are fairly isolated.

    What is more pervasive is the tendency for every atheist to immediately jump to the “axe murderer,” “baby-eater” (no offense Hemant), or “bible-burner” stereotype jokingly. (ie: When I realized I was an atheist, I ran out, killed a few people, and then burned a few bibles. Nah just kidding.) The jokes aren’t even funny anymore; I’ve only been an atheist for a few years but I’ve heard more of these self-depreciating jokes to last a lifetime.

  • Tony

    @Stephen P: That werse is a particularly good one because of the wording. It specifically describes homosexuality as “an abomination” which is the same description applied to the eating of shellfish, or the mixing of cloths or the cooking of a kid in its mother’s milk. Which is just weird.

  • Stan

    I hate it when atheists make open insults against theists to anger one of them into debate. I had a friend who was quite intelligent and generally respectful, but would almost brag about his atheism and insult the religious in general in the hopes of starting an argument.

  • Atheists can be nice and atheists can be jerks. No surprise there, really. But some nonbelievers seem to think we belong to a “religion” which requires that we all believe in nonbelief in the same way. It’s unsettling. The fundamental (heh!) aspect of atheism is lack of belief in God (or god (or gods)). Everything else is a qualifier (like claiming certainty in the absence of a deity or deities).

    Amen, and all that.

  • Leilani said:

    “When we assume all Atheists are liberal. I know it’s a small margin, but there are Conservative Atheists. I know at first I assumed all Atheists were kind, rational, liberal, intelligent folk, but that isn’t 100% true. 🙁 Just like all Christians aren’t fundies.”

    As a kind, rational, and generally conservative atheist, I have to agree that it is a bit irritating when fellow atheists assume that a non-religious viewpoint must always lead to a certain (usually liberal) political position. But political opinions do not necessarily flow from religious (or non-religious) views.

  • Richard Wade

    Some atheists can be just as prejudiced and bigoted as the Christians about whom they complain.

    I was disappointed and embarrassed by several of the atheists commenting on my post about the atheist husband who was secretly becoming a Christian. Knowing nothing else about him, they automatically assumed the worst possible of his motives, the worst possible of his attitudes, the worst possible of his intentions, and the worst possible of his eventual behavior.

    They were exactly the same assumptions I’ve heard from some Christians who are prejudiced and bigoted against atheists.

    Some of the other commenters made a valiant effort to point out the double standard and hypocrisy, but the destructive effect of even a single bigot can reach far beyond their immediate surroundings.

    I work very hard to get Christians to see atheists as people instead of monsters, and one bitter, hate-filled atheist who can’t let go of their pain or who just wants a cheap way to feel superior can undo it all with a single comment. When I confront them, I hear the same rationalizations and justifications as any other bigot will use, whether they’re racists, sexists, religious bigots or anti-religious bigots.

    Get past whatever is your hurt, grow up and help make things better. Humanity is drowning in a giant cesspool of hate. We don’t need your bucketful.

  • When Atheists use religious terminology because they’re used to it, like “Oh My God” “Thank God” “God bless you” etc. There are terms I have repeated out of habit that I have worked to purge from my vocabulary and mind because I feel likes using those terms perpetuates the idea that I’m only saying I’m an Atheist but still believe in a deity on some level.

    Also, I dislike Atheists who are ashamed or afraid to admit they’re atheist. Viability is key. If people have no problem proclaiming they are [insert religion here ] why do we balk at stating we’re Atheist?

  • JulietEcho

    Eh, mostly I’m not thrilled by the atheists who make any generalizations about atheists that aren’t based on empirical evidence. Like assuming that atheists are also skeptics or anti-theists or whatnot.

    I’d prefer that the atheists who *are* skeptics or humanists or anti-theists identify themselves more specifically, instead of expecting others to simply assume that “atheist” implies those other categories. For example, it would save those of us who *aren’t* anti-theists a lot of grief if people who *are* would start using the term instead of contributing to the tendency to equate “atheist” and “anti-theist.”

  • SpencerDub

    I’m always frustrated to see atheists give in and claim that, yeah, atheism’s just another religion that requires just as much faith as any other belief.

    I want to say, “Are you kidding? C’mon, have you even read Greta Christina?”

    Then again… they probably haven’t. And I probably shouldn’t expect every atheist to care as much as I do.

  • 1. People who call themselves atheists but are really just believers who are pissed off at God. I’ve known some who blame God for every bad thing that happens in their life. They’re not atheists… they’re just the opposite of the believers who only credit God for the good things that happen.

    2. People who use bad arguments against religion. “Religion causes all of the wars,” “religion is the root of all evil,” “religion is a con run by elites who just want to keep people as slaves,” etc. There are good and bad arguments, and I wish they’d think these over a bit more.

    3. People who exchange one irrational belief for another. Plenty of people stop believing in god for reasons other than logical or rational problems. Some of them turn to newage woo-woo nonsense. Some buy into garbage like Zeitgeist and the writings of Acharya S. Some become UFO nuts, or ghost hunters, or any of a bevy of other nonsense beliefs.

    4. People who have rejected the Christian god, but never bother to consider any other ideas of god. Plenty of people aren’t Christians but still believe in god. I’m not just an atheist with respect to the belief system I was brought up in; I disbelieve all of the god claims I’ve heard, and can categorical rule out several others that may not have even been proposed.

    5. People who jump from absolutism to total relativism or postmodernism – that is, the idea that all ideas are equally “true,” even those that are mutually contradictory, and it all settles out to a matter of opinion, even when we’re discussing aspects of reality.

    6. People who put on airs of being far cleverer than they actually are by making nonsensical philosophical statements in an attempt to be deep, or by making insane arguments such as “the existence of zero is proof that there are no gods” (I’ve actually seen this one).

    7. People who argue that religious people must be stupid.

    8. People who argue that a totally atheist world would be a utopia.

  • Greg

    Where to start… (!)

    My biggest peeve is the herd mentality some atheists bring – whether it is ‘all atheists are rational’ or as simple as ‘oh this guy is an atheist, he’s therefore going to agree with me on everything’ or ones that make sycophantic comments on you tube.

    Then there are those atheists who are so determined to show that they are ‘kind and considerate’ people, that they are more concerned about how they appear then what the right decision is. Now that doesn’t annoy me so much on its own – but it does when they try to insist you have to betray your own morals and do the same thing too. (Note: this is a lot different to criticising other atheists which I’m sure anyone who feels this was directed at them will try to warp it into.)

    Then there are the people who act all condescending towards the theists, and say things like:

    “These people need belief in god.”

    or:

    “The only reason these people do good works is because they are religious, they wouldn’t otherwise.”

    Given that the person who’s saying it obviously doesn’t need religion, it shows a disgusting arrogance which is only made worse by trying to disguise it as supporting the people they are patronising.

    Oh and of course… People who identify as ‘Agnostics’ also annoy me. I don’t mean the ones that simply don’t know what the terms mean, or the ones who call themselves agnostic atheists, or agnostic theists, I mean the ones who you explain the terms to, and then they still address you with such inane statements as:

    “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist. You claim you know there is no god, I’m not so arrogant.”

    Well, seeing as I’ve just explained what the terms actually mean, mate, you are the arrogant one – redefining the terms and insisting everyone else, including me, uses those redefinitions. You are also an atheist, and agnosticism doesn’t apply just to god, it applies to epistemology as a whole…

    And even if for some reason they refuse to accept the actual definitions, they should still know the position I am claiming to take. Urgh.

    If you want more, Hemant, I’m sure I can provide – I hate everyone equally! 😉

  • BoomerChick

    I don’t like it when atheists say we should know the bible so we can debate it. I will leave that to the militant atheists. They perform a necessary function to further our agenda for equal rights. Kudos to them; I don’t want that job.
    I was born and raised an atheist. Early on I felt reading the bible and other creation myth texts were a waste of time and very boring. I prefer other subjects.
    I don’t like it when atheists paint all theists with the stupid brush. Theists and atheists are heterogeneous groups – stupid exists on both sides as does smart. We have to coexist; that is reality. So being nice is politic.

  • It frustrates me when (some) atheists assume that their position on abortion and ESCR is the atheist position on those topics, and paint anyone who doesn’t agree with them as a fundie.

  • Aguz

    Two words: Internet Trolling *sigh*

  • Ffdsjhfj

    When atheists have a delusion of rationality.

    When atheists think everything they think is rational and that they don’t have the same logical flaws and biases that everyone has.

  • Oh, I forgot to mention… it bugs me when people only read things they already agree with, quote them all the time, then get angry and frustrated when the quotes aren’t convincing to people who disagree. They seem to be co-opting the reasoning of other people, rather than figuring things out on their own.

  • SickoftheUS

    I hate it when atheists (or anyone) use the misspelling “athiest”. Jesus Christ, learn how to spell and be attentive.

  • 1. Quibbling about agnosticism and its definitions.
    2. “Religion is delusion.” I know you don’t mean it in the psychiatric sense, so why don’t you just say it’s wrong rather than delusional?
    3. Resistance to organization, especially offline.
    4. A relatively high density of really socially awkward people. They become more obvious offline.

  • pinksponge

    – The label wars. To me, it’s not that important whether people call themselves atheist, agnostic, non-theist, secular humanist, non-religious, freethinker, or whatever; and I think it’s a waste of our time and energy to argue over such labels. There are bigger battles out there (e.g., church-state separation).

    – Always equating “religion” with “Christianity,” especially fundamentalist/extremist Christianity. E.g., statements such as “religion believes … ” or “religion teaches … ” when what people actually mean is “fundamentalist Christianity believes … ”

    – Taking a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s okay for an atheist to be gentle and conciliatory. It’s also okay to be more assertive/aggressive and confrontational. Both approaches can be helpful, depending on the time and place. The atheist movement needs both diplomats and soldiers.

  • SpencerDub

    Also, I’m frustrated by the “sit down, shut up” atheists.

    I totally understand that not every nonbeliever wants to be heavily involved in the atheist movement, and I support their right to sit on the sidelines. It bothers me, though, when they extend that expectation to me, and look down on me for being an outspoken atheist and for being involved in the movement.

    To take it one step further (and to tie in my previous point), it bothers me when atheists buy into and repeat the weak arguments of moderate believers, including, “Atheism takes just as much faith,” “Don’t you have better things to do than talk about atheism?,” “You shouldn’t care what other people believe,” and so on.

  • Ronnie

    Re: “I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual.”

    I use it to mean “I don’t believe in a god or gods or follow any religious rituals or rules, but I feel that there’s life after death, etc.” Perhaps it’s more agnostic than atheist (I call myself agnostic, anyway) but it’s not as insane as people are always making it out to be.

  • Justin

    It frustrates me when less outspoken atheists compare the more vocal ones of being ‘just as bad as the fundies.’ The problem with religion isn’t that people want to spread it; the problem is that it’s false *and* that people want to spread it.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    I’m an agnostic. What I find frustrating with atheists is how they are so sure that they are right about the nonexistence of a creator. Neither the existence or nonexistence of a creator can be proven, therefore, an Atheist, like the Theist is basing his or her belief on FAITH because science is not designed to prove or disprove the existence of a supernatural creator.

  • stephanie

    Huh, well I guess what atheists do that frustrates me is the same thing anyone else does that frustrates me. Disbelieving in a deity is only one aspect of a person.

    So:
    -I hate closed-mindedness, so I get frustrated with atheists who refuse to hear out any other viewpoints. I’m a skeptic but there’s a difference between requiring evidence for claims and shutting the mind to any cognitive dissonance.

    -I get frustrated by atheists who assume that we have everything in common beyond atheism. I didn’t send in registration cards or get a secret decoder ring when I became an atheist. I dunno, maybe some people did but I missed that mailer. I’m not really a club kind of person.

    -I get frustrated with atheists who attack another’s viewpoint or belittle them without provocation and then expect me to defend them since we’re both atheists. I’m an atheist. I’m not a jerk. So while I’ll certainly defend or debate on reasonable terms, I have no interest spending time with an instigator.

  • fritzy

    I’m really troubled by atheists that insist that religion is a mental illness. Religion can in no way be defined as such. It is a disservice to both the religious and those with mental illness to call it such and this kind of talk pretty much eradicates the possibility of dialogue.

    As has already been mentioned, atheists who make ad hominem attacks and label all believers as stupid. Not every believer is Sarah Palin and smart people can hold stupid beliefs. Refusing to differentiate between the person and their beliefs is the real cause of many of the worlds problems today.

    And finally, atheists who make little attempt to understand believers. Ironically, the worst culprits at this tend to be those who were believers themselves at one point. Rather than looking back at the characteristics of religion that appealed to them when they were believers, they pontificate about how they were able to “drop the chains of their oppressive beliefs, so why can’t every other believer?”

  • Twin-Skies

    This one happened to our group at the Filipino Freethinkers blog –

    Atheists who pretend to show a smug sense of superiority since they’re “beyond” religion, and think that atheists gathering regularly just to chew the yarn are somehow “weaker” than them.

    It’s not everyday that somebody’s arrogance has driven me nearly to the point of wanting to uppercut them 🙁

  • Richard Wade

    Wayne Dunlap,
    For you, maybe the first time, but for me the 15,337,896,020,245th time, not all atheists, in fact only a small percentage of atheists are “strong atheists” who hold an active belief in the non existence of gods. Most of us are “weak atheists” who simply lack the belief in the existence of gods.

    Big, important difference. Get this distinction clear before you complain about atheists being “so sure,” or at least qualify your complaints by saying “some atheists…” or “those few atheists who…”

    Your correct observation that claims about the existence or nonexistence of gods needs proof or evidence is exactly why most atheists take “weak atheist” stance. Without evidence it’s not knowable either way (ag-nostic) so therefore we have no belief in it. (a-theist)

    Faith ain’t got nuthin’ to do with it.

  • person #123456

    When atheist act like they are so much smarter and more skeptical than everyone else. they aren’t.

    when they are total sluts.

    when they are so self centered and do nothing to help donate or benefit society in a way that doesn’t relate to atheism.

    these are all ways in which atheist perpetuate stereotypes. people put out those stereotypes for a reason. don’t live up to them

  • Neither the existence or nonexistence of a creator can be proven, therefore, an Atheist, like the Theist is basing his or her belief on FAITH because science is not designed to prove or disprove the existence of a supernatural creator.

    This is one of the things that frustrates me: the idea that if you don’t have evidence, you must be relying on faith. It’s nonsense. There’s also logic to be considered. And the equation of “logically justified disbelief” to “faith” is just silly.

    The fact that we should be agnostic about the supernatural is also absurd. Until there’s some evidence that anything supernatural exists, it’s pointless to believe it’s even potentially there. Why would you take a position of not having a position about something that people imagine without evidence? How does it make you more rational to refuse to admit belief or disbelief in that which doesn’t manifest in reality?

  • Alexrkr7

    1. Atheists who think following anything means you’re still part of the herd and haven’t actually “broken free” i.e. atheist organizations, PZ myers poll crashing and draw Muhammad day. Doing something because you like it or think it’s cool (as well as many others) does not a herd make.

    2. Super over-the-top aggressive atheists. No not Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens. Sorry but if you think they’re aggressive you live in a cushy fantasy world. No, I’m talking about the few atheists who are actually bigoted against religious people and will shout obscenities at street preachers and JWs just because they dared speak around them.

    3. Atheists who can’t debate worth shit. It’s just rather annoying when there are so many points to be made and they can’t seem to make any of them.

    I’m sure there’s more but then we’d really just be getting into the ‘people really fucking annoy me’ category.

  • Claudia

    Wayne’s comment falls squarely into “What do agnostics do that frustrates you?”. I’m hoping Wayne, that this is your very first atheist thread, and therefore you are blissfully unaware that the vast majority of atheists (and 100% of atheists I’ve interacted with in all my life) hold no such positive disbelief in god. In fact, I’ve never encountered such an atheists before, except in the comments of theists and agnostics, which leads me to believe that such an atheist is a red herring.

    The label wars get to me as well, especially the agnostic vs. atheist war. When you actually sit down with an atheist and an agnostic you will find that 98% of the time they hold the exact same philosophical position, as most agnostics are nonbelievers. Yet the constant bickering and misrepresentations of others viewa.

    Also, what Richard said about the previous advice thread. I didn’t mention it because it seemed to incident specific, but its really disheartening to see atheists fall into the same prejudices as believers.

  • Jude

    When atheists act as though we’re one monolithic group.

  • I suppose I should restate that, beause it didn’t quite capture precisely what I was trying to get across.

    What I find frustrating with SOME atheists is how they are so sure that they are right about the nonexistence of a creator.

    (Fixed that for you.) I agree with this version of what you said. There are atheists who are dogmatically tied to the assertion that gods can’t and don’t exist. Saying “there are no gods, and nothing can convince me otherwise” is no more rational or open-minded than a fundamentalist’s assertion that their faith is the only truth. But most of us aren’t like that. I’ve known only two or three atheists of the hundreds I’ve met who are like that, and one of them seems close to diagnosable just from the way he writes his e-mails. Yes, that’s incredibly frustrating, because it’s irrational.

    Yes, it’s possible that gods exist. We can logically rule some kinds of gods out. We can use evidence to disprove others, such as the pagan gods that cause natural occurrences. There are kinds of gods that we’ve likely never dreamed up. And while they may well exist, that isn’t a reason to say “well, it could go either way, because the evidence isn’t there.” The fact that the evidence isn’t there is justification enough to solidly say that you won’t believe it until there is evidence.

    As for “science is not designed to prove or disprove the existence of a supernatural creator:” Who says? The entire idea of a supernatural creator is just supposition. Nobody can possibly tell you (and be proven correct) that a supernatural creator can’t be proved or disproved. We have no idea what a supernatural creator is, and to say that science can’t discuss it is to concede the special pleading fallacy as a valid argument. It’s like saying that science can’t prove or disprove the existence of “flurple,” because “flurple” is defined as something that science can’t investigate. There is no actual external referent that we can look at and say, “yes, you’re right, science can’t examine this.” It’s just sophistry; a cleverly-crafted definition without any way to show that the definition is either correct or defining a thing that exists.

  • Betsy

    There are many complaints here about smugness, rudeness, quickness to slide into ad hominem attacks – these things are due to a lack of intelligence or maturity, not a self-applied atheist label. ..You’ll have all kinds..

  • Twin-Skies

    Atheists who resort to ad hominem attacks and childish jeers at their opponent when they’re supposed to be engaging in a civil argument.

    Just because I don’t agree with a religious person does not mean I can’t respectfully disagree with them, and it pisses me off when a fellow non-theist has to resort to such juvenile tactics at mocking somebody just because they’re religiously affiliated.

  • Betsy

    oh, forgot mental illness. (thanks Mike)

  • Delphine

    When atheists (or people from other religions) say, “I won’t go to a church/temple/religious institution/choir/chorale/show because I’m an atheist/Christian, etc.”

    I want to tell them to give me a break and take themselves less seriously.

  • I liked reading a lot of the responses on here. Great points! A lot of things bother me about some atheists, and I actually posted an article in my blog about it a while back: http://atheistamputee.blogspot.com/2010/03/itemization-of-problems-for-everyday.html

    Excuse me for whoring out my blog (which I hardly ever update), it was just easier to do that than to re-type everything I already said there.

  • Ronnie

    Betsy,

    That same criticism could be levelled at the Christians thread. Those are essentially the same points that got brought up there. The point of both (as far as I can tell) is that these are things atheists and Christians can do, not that they necessarily do.

  • Jeigh

    I have never been religious, but I’ve only been actively exploring popular Atheist writings and attitudes for a few years. The main problem Ive found is the intellectual in-accessibility of the large majority of Atheist stuff I find.

    I’m certainly no dummy, and I could be considered above-average intelligence-wise. However, most Atheist blogs and websites I come across are simply way over my head! I hesitate to accuse anyone of intellectual superiority, but what about us non-religious or Atheist types who are NOT on the high-end of philosophy and intellectual debate?

    I consistently find that Friendly Atheist is more accessible than most in this arena, btw. Many thanx to you Hemant!

  • I wouldn’t mind being accused of being intellectually superior 😛

  • SickoftheUS

    …in fact only a small percentage of atheists are “strong atheists” who hold an active belief in the non existence of gods. Most of us are “weak atheists” who simply lack the belief in the existence of gods.

    That niggling, semantic distinction, endlessly made among a certain breed of atheists, is annoying. In any other area of human knowledge, saying “I believe X is not true” and saying “I don’t believe X is true” are equivalent statements in practical, everyday, common understanding. But this need to draw these fine-honed philosophical distinctions in order to support this or that argument that borders on sophistry, and which does absolutely nothing to make atheism more intelligible or palatable for people, always leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    If you don’t believe in a god, don’t worry about who you’ll offend by admitting you’re an atheist, and don’t try to be the champion at the philosophical debater’s club. Embrace your beliefs.

  • Brian-sama

    Perhaps this is an unpopular opinion, but it bothers me when some atheists attempt to play middle man or counselor between other atheists and theists. Things like “Hey guys, we may disagree, but let’s try to be respectful of other people’s views” just irk me. I’ll lesson to theistic arguments because that’s the purpose of the debate, and I’ll likewise be respectful of the theist himself, but that doesn’t mean I have to respect his views. The reason I’m an atheist is because I find religion asinine and unnecessary for our world; for me to claim I “respect” it just for civility’s sake would be a lie.

    On a similar note, I’ve seen some atheists attempt to rationalize creationism with evolution. In fact, I used to do it when I was a Christian, but that was because I needed some way to mesh my faith with what I knew to be scientific fact about our world; atheists who do this are doing it out of some misguided effort to be polite. As in my point above, I don’t think we have to go out of our way to forge commonalities through concession; if we do, we aren’t really being honest about what we believe and why.

    This doesn’t mean, of course, that we can or should be outright mean, bitter, or cruel towards theists. I love a good debate, and sometimes they do get heated, but I detest internet warriors (i.e., trolls) who don’t care about decorum at all.

    The final thing (for now) is apatheism. My best friend falls under this category; he’s an atheist, but really just doesn’t care about religion. This doesn’t so much frustrate me as it does just confound me. I don’t get how he can be so uninterested in the topic of religion, when it really does affect daily life in America far more than it should.

  • evilspud

    I feel frustrated with myself because I find it difficult to puruse alternate opinions with any interest. Usually the only time I read Christian sites is to deride obviously ignorant or loony statements, and very rarely have I ever read, with interest or openess, the philosophical viewpoint of a theist.

    I recognize this unwillingness everytime a blogger sends posts a recomendation from a great theist site. I just can’t get into it, even though I know there’s no reason why I should be assuming that the topic is anythign but thoughtful.

  • SmilingAtheist

    I find this question rather irrelevant.

    To me it just asks what frustrates you about other individuals. This can apply to anyone.

    I can go into the whole social theory as to why this and that but what’s the point? We all know that people act different considering the social situation they find themselves in. I learnt this from a really young age and haven’t seen anything to make me think differently.

    Being an atheist is just me not believing in a god, nothing more. If people want to put more into it that’s up to them.

  • Atheists who have no sense of humor about themselves (less of an Atheist thing than a wanker thing).

  • Honestly, the same things that frustrate/irritate me in any OTHER group of people.

    Arrogance, counterproductive pride, stupidity, and the rest.

    And some still have a knee-jerk reaction to Satanism — we’re not baby-eating, virgin sacrificing monsters, people!

  • Greg

    SmilingAtheist – good point. I suppose the question is referring to people who call themselves atheists, but I certainly know where you are coming from, and agree.

    At least, that’s how I took it.

    Brian-sama – I think that the reconciling evolution with god thing isn’t out of an effort to be polite. Rather, I think it is an effort to explain to some fundies that believing in god does not mean they can’t accept evolution, which is what many pastors will tell them. The big positive of this approach (if successful) is that if you can get them to explore science, and get into a questioning mindset, then they may start to question religion.

    But that’s going away from the topic.

    Anyway, to go with what I said earlier, I also hate it when atheists say things which you wish you could have said, like MiketheInfidel and Richard Wade!!! 🙂

    I also think that there can be a tendency amongst a certain type of atheist to assume that when people disagree with them then they must be dogmatic, rather than because they are unconvinced. Whilst this certainly applies to all people, and not just atheists, and also may just be a maturity thing, I do think that this can apply more to atheists, simply because many of the people they argue with actually are unashamedly dogmatic.

  • Andrew n

    @littlejohn’s 1st comment

    I say I’m religious and spiritual in a certain sense and not in the traditional sense.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    For those who didn’t see this… scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/06/i_get_email_58.php (Note comment #14.)

    I’d be careful about calling that a success story. It’s awfully telling when PZ writes of the e-mail writer’s “clear commitment to reason” when this writer says, “You are now the only blog I follow.” That doesn’t set off alarm bells?

    And that reminds me of one thing that frustrates me about many atheists: that they do a lot of talk-talk about reason while engaging in distortion themselves. I’m sorry, but claiming that “appeasers” like the members of the NCSE say things like “Do you believe in miracles? That’s okay, it’s part of science,” is not a defense of rationalism against superstition. If one’s justifications for calling someone a “witless wanker” are pure straw, then one isn’t defending against enemies of reason, but is one of them.

    (And if you make up from whole cloth that someone “made extremely inappropriate comments about [your] under-age daughter’s sex life,” then you are an execrable human being.)

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Stephanie,
    Extremely well put. I couldn’t have said it better.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Richard Wade
    OK, I should have specified strong atheists, those who are so certain there is no creator. Those are the ones who I feel have to be basing their belief on faith, since you cannot prove or disprove the existence of a creator.

  • Bryan

    I find it annoying when I hear or see a cocky atheist that is basically looking for a debate or way to argue with a religious person. Keep your beliefs to yourself unless someone willingly wants to debate/discuss it. I hold religious people to the same standard, don’t harass others unless they are asking you about it.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Miketheinfidel,
    I can logically explain why a creator is necessary, just like an atheist can explain why a creator doesn’t exist. However, neither one of us can prove our stand. That is why I am an agnostic with theistic leanings. Atheism is the belief that a creator doesn’t exist. However, in order to take that stand, it has to be based on FAITH since a creator cannot be disproven.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Claudia,
    I’ve been on this site a number of times. I was especially there debating the definition of an atheist, which is one who does not believe in the existence of a god or creator. My argument is that if you are not a strong atheist, then you are an agnostic with atheistic leanings, just like I am an agnostic with theistic leanings.

  • I don’t care to see someone call themselves an atheist and then act as if they’re better than theists for it. No one is ‘better’ than anyone, religious or not. I may call a religious person an ignoramus and they can have a position or attitude that is ridiculous but that doesn’t make me the better person for pointing it out or even recognizing it. Sure, not believing in god may be more rational than believing in god but it doesn’t mean if you’re a believer then you’re a lesser person for it.

  • Richard Wade

    @ SickoftheUS

    If you think that the distinction between weak and strong atheists is a “niggling, semantic distinction” only, “bordering on sophistry,” is indistinguishable in “practical, everyday, common understanding,” is only useful in esoteric philosophical debates, and “does absolutely nothing to make atheism more intelligible or palatable for people,”

    Well then, fuck you.

    There. Is that blunt, simple, and common understanding enough for you? Have I lowered the terminology of the conversation to a level that everybody can understand and participate in? Am I being egalitarian enough so as to not be accused of being effete or elite or only interested in mincing words?

    If somebody tells me what I believe, and he is dead wrong, I’m going to set him right. If that takes a careful explanation to educate him about a differentiation that he may not think is important, but in my opinion is important, then I’m going to take the time to raise his awareness as patiently and respectfully as I can.

    Just because such fine distinctions aren’t important to you, apparently because they don’t even apply to you, doesn’t mean that they aren’t important to me or to a better understanding of the views of atheists in the general population.

    You ended with this insulting insinuation:

    If you don’t believe in a god, don’t worry about who you’ll offend by admitting you’re an atheist, and don’t try to be the champion at the philosophical debater’s club. Embrace your beliefs.

    I’m not worried about offending anybody by ACCURATELY DESCRIBING what I mean when I say that I am an atheist, and I’m not going to accept your rubber stamp version of “atheist” for the sake of catering to obtuse people who want simple definitions.

    “Embrace your beliefs”? That sounds a little creepy. I don’t embrace any beliefs. I hold them at arms length where I can constantly examine them.

    If you want to be a “strong” atheist go ahead. Be ready to come up with the evidence to support your assertive belief, because that’s what your position sets you up for. But don’t state or imply that “weak” atheists are indeed weak, or that they lack courage to hold to their convictions. For me, it’s a discipline of thought and a matter of integrity. I won’t hold to any belief, yes, no, up or down, without evidence. If that’s not truck driver atheist enough for you, then you can go embrace yourself.

  • SpencerDub

    @person #123456:

    when they are total sluts.

    I don’t think it’s fair to judge people on their sexuality. If a person enjoys frequently having sex with different partners, and they’re not causing emotional harm to others, I don’t think anyone else has the right to criticize (provided it’s safe, sane, and consensual).

    If, however, a person is causing emotional harm to their partners through their sexuality– say, they’re sleeping around in an established monogamous relationship and the evidence that they’re causing distress is more than just the belief of an outside observer– in that case, sure, being a “slut” is shameful, simply because it’s rather shameful to callously betray people’s trust and hurt them emotionally.

    But as a rule, I try to let other people’s private lives be, well, private.

    @Wayne Dunlap-
    I’m curious about your logical explanation that a Creator deity must exist. Also, I’d like to point out that while “there is no Creator deity” and “there is a Creator deity” may both be impossible to verify, that doesn’t necessarily give them both equal veracity.

  • Wayne:

    I can logically explain why a creator is necessary, just like an atheist can explain why a creator doesn’t exist. However, neither one of us can prove our stand.

    Honestly, I’d like to see you do that. Because every argument I’ve seen to explain why a creator is necessary reduces down to “we have no answer, thus a creator exists.” Or there’s an inherent logical problem, such as the ontological argument’s attempt to say that a creator must exist if it can be imagined.

    Atheism is the belief that a creator doesn’t exist. However, in order to take that stand, it has to be based on FAITH since a creator cannot be disproven.

    No. It doesn’t. It does not take faith to believe something doesn’t exist.

    It takes no faith to believe that fairies don’t exist. It takes no faith to believe that leprechauns don’t exist. It takes no faith to believe that dragons don’t exist. It takes no faith to believe that gods don’t exist. The situation is entirely the same, because in every single case we have something that exists only as a defined concept.

    It does not take faith to doubt that something exists when the evidence of is existence is only counted as evidence because someone’s dogma asserts that it is evidence.

  • Claudia

    @Wayne, like I said, I have little interest in the terminology wars. The majority of agnostics (you excepted) I’ve encountered have no actual difference of opinion with me. I used to call myself an agnostic and now I call myself an atheist. My actual view hasn’t actually changed, just my understanding of the definitions of the term.

    I do get irritated when I’m told that atheists postively assert that there is no god, because that is a patent denial of the reality of the expressed views of atheists. However, I still think we expend far too much energy on the terminology wars.

  • Betsy

    When the question was, “what do Christians do that frustrates you?” I said, “some of them pity me.” ..So far, no pity from atheists. We (atheists) CAN be an annoying, persnickety bunch of jerks, but I have no problem with that. ..Just wondering, will we have other groups to grouse about here now that we’ve covered Christians and atheists? (thanks for reminding me I was off topic, Ronnie. It appears I still am 🙂 )

  • Nothing. Being an atheist says only that they don’t believe in gods. Whatever else they may say or do is secondary to their lack of belief. I can’t fault that lack of belief and there is nothing else that one atheist has to have in common with another so there is no other generalisation to single out for criticism.

    I do think it is worth pointing out that atheism isn’t opposed by Christianity. Christianity is a subset of theism and it is theism that opposes atheism. An equivalent would be to ask what do secular humanists (or Brights, or Buddhists, etc) do that frustrates you.

  • luz

    I hate when atheists make you feel that you had to have read,understood and be able to explain in fine detail Darwin’s Origin of Species and the Big Bang Theory. You must read everything Richard Dawkins has ever written, understand the Bible better than the pope and read the philosophical musings of Aquinas.
    Look… I dont believe in god.Period.I have not seen any proof of its existence and the rudimentary knowledge(I am expanding my knowledge)that I learned as a child about evolution and big bang were enough to further convince me that the bible made no sense.
    Why is that not enough?

  • Probably not a popular response, but I find it frustrating when atheists play into theists’ hands by using their terminology. I believe it lends credence to their ideas, and I think it contributes to their perception that their god is the only “real” god and that everyone either believes in it or considers it more likely to exist than other deities.

    Atheists constantly talk about “God” (singular, capitalized) as though “he” (male) were an actual entity. For myself, I try to never use those words. I say: “I don’t believe in deities” or “I don’t believe in gods and goddesses.” If I have to mention our culture’s specific deity, then I will refer to it as the biblical deity, but I never assign it a gender! I would like to see more atheists help theists “think outside the culture box” by refusing to play into their cultural assumptions.

  • Valdyr

    I have to pile on the “sit down and shut up” atheists, as well, the ones who share my views but don’t think I should ever discuss religious issues. It seems like they’re either buying into the weird belief that people’s religious views are 100% exempt from any examination or criticism, unlike, uh, literally any other beliefs they hold. Seriously, that double-standard bothers me. This magic shield of protection doesn’t apply to anything else. Can you imagine if someone said that the new Shrek was the best animated film of all time, and when you said, “Eh, I certainly wouldn’t go that far. I didn’t think it was that great,” other people jumped in and were like, “Whoa, relax, that’s his moviegoing opinion. You have to respect it.” And then they don’t want to hang out with you in the future because you’re angry and confrontational by not just quietly agreeing when someone says something about movies.

    Or maybe they’re just spineless, and don’t want to stand up to the backlash they’re likely going to get if they don’t keep their mouth shut and meekly nod along when people say insane things rooted in their religious convictions. I understand it’s not always feasible to be an “out” atheist, but if you’re living independently and your job isn’t going to be threatened by letting your views be heard… you’re just a pussy if you let the religious majority continue to stomp its views all over your life without a peep of protest. No, atheists don’t have it as bad as blacks before the Civil Rights Movement, or as women did (and still do), but you’re blind if you think religion in politics isn’t an issue that deserves to be paid attention to.

  • SickoftheUS

    Richard Wade wrote:

    Well then, fuck you.

    So much for friendly atheism. This is illustrative. One guy from the agnostics-ok-but-atheists-arrogant camp chides about the nerve of atheists who declare they believe a god doesn’t exist. Then you come back down on the guy like a petulant bulldozer, eager to defend your terminology and your slice of the pie, correcting him with an even finer distinction about subcategories of atheists that you think are important (and whom many big thinkers on the issue don’t, btw).

    Thus it turns into pissing contests over philosophical nomenclature, split hairs, and territories, rather than illumination or meaningful, straightforward debate.

    And this is a major thing I don’t like about some atheists.

  • I’m annoyed when anyone—atheists as well as non-atheists—claims that atheism encompasses more than it does.

    The word “atheist” literally means one who is without God(s). Someone who self-identifies as an atheist is by definition someone who thinks the proposition that God(s) exists is a false one. That’s it.

    So it annoys me when people begin sentences with “Atheists believe that the universe has no purpose…” or “Atheists think there is no objective morality…”

    Umm, no. Some atheists might subscribe to those viewpoints, and some might not. But simply being an atheist does not automatically compel one to believe or not believe in other propositions. Now, do many atheists tend to believe similar things about the universe, or morality, or whatever? Sure. But the point is that it’s not demanded by the mere fact of their atheism.

    That’s why atheism is not a religion or a dogma, rather, it’s a single belief about a single claim (which, for most atheists, is subject to revision upon new evidence or better arguments—the opposite of “faith”!). I think sometimes religious folks have a hard time grasping this because (in the major monotheisms at least) they’re used to “interlocking” doctrines, so self-identifying as, say, a Christian usually means you believe a whole bunch of stuff (namely theism, the belief that Jesus Christ was the son of God, the belief in certain kinds of miracles, and the belief in human parthenogenesis in first century Palestine, among other things).

  • ProbablyAtheist

    I identify as a philosophical Taoist who does NOT believe in a literal, personal God. That is my metaphysics. I am tired of atheists calling me irrational, even though I am an atheist by 99% of standards. I derived my Taoism from the principles of quantum physics and humanist ethics, for Darwin’s sake! I don’t believe in reincarnation or UFOs or crazy New Age medicine; I just lead the Taoist life. Other atheists should make an effort to understand where I am coming from instead of saying “ewwwww, Taoism…that sounds like a religion.”

  • sophia b

    Anyone doing the thing of ‘we’re being overrun my moron religious peoples. Quick, non-religious women, it is your duty to have babies now! (don’t worry about the men, they have nothing to do with raising their children, amiright?)’
    And they sort of people who believe anything as long as its dressed up in scientific language…

  • Richard Wade

    SickoftheUS,

    So much for friendly atheism.

    If you took offense at my ironic use of “fuck you,” then you completely missed my point.

    (and whom many big thinkers on the issue don’t, btw).

    What, some “big thinkers” are gonna catch me after school and kick my philosophical ass? I don’t care how “big” they are, if they don’t care about the distinction, I still do. Fuck them.

    (hint: very subtle irony in previous sentence)

    For me this isn’t about splitting hairs or guarding turf, it’s about being accurately understood. I’m talking about me, and those atheists whom I know well enough to know that they care about this distinction. If it’s not an important distinction to you, you don’t have to spend any time making it, but don’t say that the distinction doesn’t exist or that other people shouldn’t care about it. They do, and you can’t get them to stop caring about it. So there. Nyah nyah nyahhhhh.

    (Hint: more subtle irony.)

  • I don’t like that atheists spend so much time attacking the relatively soft target of Christianity and largely ignoring the Islamic elephant in the room.

  • It’s also annoying when atheists say “I’m an atheist, but don’t get me wrong, I wish it were true; I wish there was a God…”

    Really? You wish there was someone who could see everything you do? Who could even see into your mind and convict you of a thought crime? I can understand how the idea of heaven would be appealing—if I were the one who decided whether or not I was going there.

    Nope, I’m glad it’s not true. All we have is this life, then we die and rot and decompose. Lennon’s song “Imagine,” et cetera.

  • jose

    When they say “I’m not saying what I do believe, but merely stating a lack of belief.” It’s like:
    – Do you think there is a god?
    – No.
    – Do you think there is no god then?
    – *ahem*
    – So what do you think? Nothing?
    – …Well, I can tell you what I don’t think. I don’t think god exists.
    – So what do you do think?
    – Well, I think I like muffins.
    – …wat.

    I think there is no god and so do you, folks. What’s wrong with that? I don’t get it.

  • What do atheists say that annoys me?

    *There IS NO GOD; [there is no evidence for god is better, and factually correct!]
    *All religious people are idiots;
    *Compassionate politics – why is it that when a Christian loses religion they feel a need to be so left wing on social issues that are fundamentally Christ-like, ironically the actual Christians tend to be against this line of thinking (health-care, welfare etc.)?
    *Assume, without evidence, that the world would be a much better place without religion;
    *Ignore other illogical things, like the Royal family in the UK;
    *Accept & support Israel;
    *Accept male circumcision;
    *Deny same sex marriage;
    *Deny polygamous marriage;
    *Deny incestuous marriage;
    *Support marriage;
    *Support the illegality of drugs;
    *Support the illegality of eating human flesh;
    *Support affirmative action;
    *Be irrational when defending gun laws;
    *Be irrational.

    NB. These are things that various atheists still hold dear, no single atheist has all of these, and very few have many, but most atheists will support at least one (if not many) of these irrational positions.

  • APPEASE: to yield or concede to the belligerent demands of (a nation, group, person, etc.) in a conciliatory effort, sometimes at the expense of justice or other principles.

  • Richard Wade

    jose:

    I think there is no god and so do you, folks. What’s wrong with that? I don’t get it.

    Thank you oh Swami for telling us what we all think. Please gaze into your crystal ball and tell yourself what you think.

    Theist: “Do you believe in god?”
    Me: I have never seen any convincing evidence for that belief, so no, I do not. If you want me to believe there is a god, then please show me your evidence.”

    jose: “Do you believe there is no god?”
    Me: “I have never seen any convincing evidence for that belief, so no I do not. If you want me to believe there is no god, then please show me your evidence.”

    For me, no evidence = no belief. Up, down, yes, no, left, right, god, no god. If you want others to share your belief, show your evidence.

    What’s wrong with that? I don’t get it.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Miketheinfidel,
    You said “It’s like saying that science can’t prove or disprove the existence of “flurple,” because “flurple” is defined as something that science can’t investigate.”
    Pretty sad! That is the typical nonsense that many atheists spew from their mouths. OK, I said I can give you a reasonable argument for a creator, so here goes. Let’s start with the big bang where matter appeared from NOTHING and then exploded. I submit to you that in order for that to occur, you need a CAUSE. That is a problem, since, if there is NOTHING, there cannot be a CAUSE. If there is nothing, then you have a problem. I submit to you that the only way around this problem is a supernatural being outside of space and time. Still not convinced, let’s look at Anthropic Principle in which there are several constants that must be within a very narrow range. One example is the gravitational constant. Too strong and everything would collapse shortly after the big bang. Too weak and everything would fly apart and no planets could be formed. Another constant is the Nuclear Force. Too strong and atoms would be too tight for compounds to form. Too weak and atoms would soon fly apart. There are two other constants. The point is that the universe appears to have been formed with the purpose of harboring life. The odds of all these parameters being within the required narrow range, without a creator, is extremely unlikely.

  • C

    “And our next [atheist/skeptical] meeting is at [such & such] Bar, hope to see you there!”

    I do not drink, but not for lack of desire. I have many alcoholics in my family, and I have brushed close enough before that I decided to quit before I joined the rest of my family. Therefore, I do not like to go to bars, particularly when everyone I’m there to see will also be drunk. Not inclusive & not fun. Only very disappointing, since I have never met other skeptics/atheists/etc.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    SpencerDub,
    “I’d like to point out that while “there is no Creator deity” and “there is a Creator deity” may both be impossible to verify, that doesn’t necessarily give them both equal veracity.”

    I submit that that goes both ways. I will repeat my argument that I made earlier.

    Let’s start with the big bang where matter appeared from NOTHING and then exploded. I submit to you that in order for that to occur, you need a CAUSE. That is a problem, since, if there is NOTHING, there cannot be a CAUSE. If there is nothing, then you have a problem. I submit to you that the only way around this problem is a supernatural being outside of space and time. Still not convinced, let’s look at Anthropic Principle in which there are several constants that must be within a very narrow range. One example is the gravitational constant. Too strong and everything would collapse shortly after the big bang. Too weak and everything would fly apart and no planets could be formed. Another constant is the Nuclear Force. Too strong and atoms would be too tight for compounds to form. Too weak and atoms would soon fly apart. There are two other constants. The point is that the universe appears to have been formed with the purpose of harboring life. The odds of all these parameters being within the required narrow range, without a creator, is extremely unlikely.

  • Jeigh

    UGH….this whole damn page of comments is makin me dislike Atheists, and I’m one of ’em!

    Seems like this has turned into a petty semantic pissing contest, like most comment forums seem to do.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    MiketheInfidel,
    There you go again making Atheists look bad by trying to belittle the belief in a creator by calling it belief in fairies. To me that is not an argument but a typical atheistic cop out. You cannot disprove a creator, so try to belittle the idea with something stupid like a comparing it to belief in fairies.
    You asked for a reasoned argument, and I gave you one, but you must have missed it, so I will repeat what I said earlier.
    OK, I said I can give you a reasonable argument for a creator, so here goes. Let’s start with the big bang where matter appeared from NOTHING and then exploded. I submit to you that in order for that to occur, you need a CAUSE. That is a problem, since, if there is NOTHING, there cannot be a CAUSE. If there is nothing, then you have a problem. I submit to you that the only way around this problem is a supernatural being outside of space and time. Still not convinced, let’s look at Anthropic Principle in which there are several constants that must be within a very narrow range. One example is the gravitational constant. Too strong and everything would collapse shortly after the big bang. Too weak and everything would fly apart and no planets could be formed. Another constant is the Nuclear Force. Too strong and atoms would be too tight for compounds to form. Too weak and atoms would soon fly apart. There are two other constants. The point is that the universe appears to have been formed with the purpose of harboring life. The odds of all these parameters being within the required narrow range, without a creator, is extremely unlikely.

  • Richard Wade

    Hey Jeigh,
    Don’t take it too much to heart. We haven’t had a good bar room brawl around here in a long time. It feels good to mix it up with our friends and put some passion behind it. Just rough housin’, no real damage being done. I’m learning a few things I can do to clean up my own act. It can get a little noisy, but I think this is a good idea.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Claudia,
    You may be correct that we do get hung up on terminology, but one of the topics was just that here and I had a very interesting discussion with Autumnal Harvest on this subject. Where we disagree is that I feel in order to be singing on the same sheet of music, everyone must have the same definition for a word. That is were dictionaries come in. Every dictionary definition I have seen states that an Atheist is one who does not believe in a God and a Theist is one who believes in a God. I recognize that we cannot prove or disprove a God, so I call my self an Agnostic Theist. From your description of yourself, I would consider you a Agnostic Atheist. That way there is no room for argument. 🙂

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Rob Caravaggio,
    I really think the reason some atheist say they wish there was a creator is because it may mean a continuance of consciousness after death. Why do you have to right away throw something negative into it?

  • Potco

    I hate it when atheists and skeptics in general use bad arguments. For example, I was talking with an atheist about the start of WWII. He said, “You’re wrong because I got my major in asian studys.” Not, you’re wrong and here is evidence.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    Wayne Dunlap, I suggest that you bring your argument to the “Convert Me!” section of the Friendly Atheist forums, rather than this thread, where it is off-topic. I’ll be brief and say that your arguments in favor of God are nothing new, but this can be discussed further in the forum.

  • Jessy

    I don’t like it when atheists attack the person and not the idea. I am an atheist and my brother is studying to be a counselor in AIG(a christian denomination) and I think he is a great guy. We both talk a lot and try to make sense of the world and try to be open minded. We disagree on a lot but it is important to stay nice and only attack the idea. Intelligent people can believe in god and unintelligent people can not believe in god. This is important to remember. When I first became an atheist I was hurtful to my family and I regret that.

  • SpencerDub

    I responded to Wayne’s post, but I didn’t think about going to the forums. I’ll post it over there instead; sorry for derailing the topic!

  • Daniel Dorfman

    I dislike when some people think that simply being an atheist (in the media, youtube, blogs, etc) guarantees and entitles you to support from every single other atheist in whatever endeavor you do, no matter how stupid or misguided.

  • Atheists who haven’t examined their beliefs frustrate me just as much as theists who haven’t questioned what they believe. I think it’s a small percentage of atheists overall, but the atheists who can’t relate the reasons for why they don’t believe lend credence to the argument that they are “angry” with God or have had a bad experience, because if you can’t produce a reasonable explanation for your disbelief, then you leave yourself wide open to having bad reasons being attributed to your atheism.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    SpencerDub,
    The problem is that when you start with nothing, there is no quantum physics.
    If a strong nuclear force is too weak or too strong, you animated puddle cannot exist.
    “If all the constants you mentioned weren’t within the range that supported life… well, then, we wouldn’t be here talking about it.”
    That still doesn’t nullify my argument that our being here has to be due to a creator due to the extreme odds against it. Yes we are here, but can you prove that it was not due to a creator?
    You say that you can keep rolling the die, but it appears that the big bang had only one roll of the die. Again I argue that when you have nothing, no cause exists, therefore, no matter can be created without the existence of a supernatural force.
    As far as your argument that there are no other planets in our solar system, there may be a reason for that. However, there are billions of solar systems with the possibility of life there.
    I will check out your book. Thanks for the recommendation. I have one for you as well. Finding Darwin’s God, by Kenneth E. Miller. Ken presents one of the best arguments for evolution I’ve read so far. However, he ends up giving great arguments for why there had to be a creator. He gives good reasons why he believes why the universe had to be created. One of his arguments is the Anthropic Principle, which he defends against arguments against. BTW, he feels that the creator set up evolution so that he wouldn’t constantly have to step in and fine tune it.

  • Angie

    1) I agree with Re on the privelege thing. I’ve met several white male atheists who were very misogynist or homophobic. These attitudes do not create a welcoming atmosphere in the nonbeliever community for female and LGBT nonbelievers, and they need to be challenged. We’ve spent so much time attacking organized religion for its sexism and homophobia that we’ve ignored it in our own camp.

    2) I dislike the contempt some atheists express for agnostics, claiming that they are “baby atheists” or somehow too cowardly to take the leap into full-blown atheism. WRONG. A little more respect for agnostics is sorely needed!

    3) I dislike how some atheists lump all believers together. Not all believers are right-wing fundamentalists, and we need to recognize that some religious communities are doing a lot of good in the world.

  • Theo

    Atheists who take skewed stances on morality like saying “nothing is moral” or that “ethics don’t matter.” those people tick me off.

  • Cobblestone

    A universe cannot will itself into being, but a deity can? Well why is that, exactly? What caused the deity?

    I’m not looking to pick a fight; I really want to understand this argument. It seems to me that if your problem with the big bang is that “something had to cause it,” then don’t we have the same exact problem when it comes to God? If the argument is that God is, indeed, “the causeless cause,” then those who espouse this argument can’t reasonably turn around and complain that something “had to cause” the big bang. Well by that logic, then, something had to cause God, right? Or am I missing something in the argument?

  • Abigail

    Saying that other atheists are too “intellectual”. I’ve seen this (in various forms) on here. There is nothing wrong with being this way. Do not dumb yourself down! I understand that there is a line between smart and smug, but still.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    SpencerDub,

    I just went to Greta Christina’s blog site and left counter argument.

  • Hitch

    I don’t believe in labels for the rejection of anything or labels for the non-existance of anything. Why accept atheism as label but not a-loch-nessy-ist or a-yeti-ist.

    Hence my problem perhaps is that people even accept the label atheist, but that’s not a very pragmatic concern.

  • I saw plenty of gripes in the thread that I agree with, but that are general frustrations that I have with groups that also include atheists. (For example, the ‘rebellious teenage atheists’ who are really not qualitatively different than ‘spunky teenage apologists’ in the frustrating aspects).

    The thing that bothers me more when I see it in atheists is the assumption that something (an opinion, an argument, a statement) is in the right just because it comes from the mouth of an atheist, and moreso when I’m asked to do the same, defend a position just because another atheist holds it. A silly position is still silly when an atheist holds it, and I’ve held a few myself.

    Also, when I see atheists apply narrow sectarian beliefs to wider religious disciplines and wish to force their interlocutor to defend them, even after they deny holding it. Its basically the opposite number of Wayne Dunlap’s argument and I don’t like it either way.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    What do Atheists Do that Frustrates Me?
    I’m only speaking for some atheists, so don’t jump the gun if I am not talking about you.
    I find it frustrating when an Atheist acts as though science can disprove a creator, since science is only able to study material things. Science is out of its element when it comes to determining whether or not a super natural being exists. Science will be the first to admit that they cannot prove or disprove a creator.
    I find it frustrating when an atheist will attempt to belittle the belief in the existence of a creator by trying to equate it to a belief in fairy tales or state that there is a giant tea pot in space, prove me wrong. Sorry, but that is not an argument. We know that life and the universe exists, and that there are two possibilities which can be argued both ways. Either matter appeared out of nothing and exploded or a supernatural force outside of space and time, the only possible CAUSE that I can think of when nothing exists, was this required cause.

  • ckitching

    keddaw, I’m not sure why you say all those things are irrational. I can certainly find good reasons to support universal health care, firearms restrictions, and cannibalism, to name just a few. Universal health care increases life expectancies, and tends to reduce health insurance costs for small businesses. Some firearms restrictions can reduce the number of fatal ‘crimes of passion’, as well as accidental discharges. Cannibalism is a primary vector for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and other communicable diseases.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    SpencerDub,
    I checked out Greta Christiana’s bio. I found it amusing that her writing experience are books about sex. I had hoped that she had at least one book on Atheism. Not stating that this makes her argument any less than ours just that someone with an Atheist blog tends to write books on that topic. Then again sex sells. 🙂

  • Chris

    Pointless arguments about semantics i.e. the difference between “agnostic”, “secular”, “nontheist”, “brights” (worst, most pretentious name EVER). Seriously, who cares. I swear if I have to hear the whole “I’m not an Atheist because I can’t say for 100% sure there is no god, so i’m a secular nontheist humanist bright” argument again, I’ll shoot someone. No one cares what you call yourself, it’s splitting hairs and really all the same thing.

    I feel like those are the types of arguments that come up because people can have opinions about them just by being alive and using anecdotal evidence. Instead, we should discuss something real, present real data and real facts to see both sides of an issue.

    Atheists in my experience are less prone to make arguments without backing things up with data, but I still see it, even from people like Hitchens who is a great debater and speaker but sometimes he just lacks support for some of his conclusions.

  • beckster

    They feed the trolls 😉

  • King Awesomeson

    I hate when atheists say… I don’t know any atheists in real life, so nevermind..

  • Chris

    Didn’t read the thread until just now – but yes, once again, it has broken out into arguments about labels and semantics. Now it’s “Strong Atheist” vs. “Weak Atheist” and “Active Disbelief” vs. “Lack of belief” and it’s all really “Super Douchy” vs. “Totally Pretentious”.

    I agree with what one poster said about lack of a strong Atheist community. But I think that’s how it’s going to be until more female Atheists get involved. Do any of you know any male-dominated groups that have really strong communities?

  • Michael

    I hate when other atheists, especially academics, speak to theists and spend that time being condescending or ridiculing their beliefs. We all know that religious belief is illogical, but if you tell believers that then you just make them mad and put them on the defensive.
    I also understand that atheists tend to be more knowledgeable, though not necessarily smarter, than many theists but being arrogant and rude is not the way to change someone’s mind. Many atheists also tend to speak in a manner that most people simply don’t understand.
    Many “average” people would likely become atheists if they could understand what atheists were saying. When atheists start spouting a bunch of technical jargon, the average person just shuts them out and feels like they are being insulted. I’d say this probably makes them cling to their faith even more tightly, even if they were on the fence before.
    I loaned a friend who was on the fence one of Dawkins books and they told me that they couldn’t understand half of it. My friend has a BA and is not dumb, but he’s not a scientist and needs things put in a language he can understand. Reading Dawkins book made him feel dumb and he didn’t like it.
    So I think many atheists need to come down off their high horses and remember that everyone is not as well educated as they are. If we try to speak in a language that everyone understands people will be more inclined to accept the logic of what we have to say.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Cris,
    Yes, atheists are more likely to back up their argument, but that is not always the case. Also, there are theists that back up their argument as well instead of simply stating that the Bible says so. Also, atheists are more apt to quote science to disprove a creator when science admits that it only tests hypothesis on material things and that proving or disproving a creator is beyond its ability.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Michael,
    Dawkins, upset with creationists, finally is fighting back, which is cool. However, he attempts to use science to disprove a creator. The fallacy of his argument is that Science can only deal with material things, it cannot deal with the supernatural, and therefore cannot prove or disprove a creator.

  • Cobblestone

    Either matter appeared out of nothing and exploded or a supernatural force outside of space and time, the only possible CAUSE that I can think of when nothing exists, was this required cause.

    I understand what you’re saying now. But on what basis do we assume that “a supernatural force outside of space and time” is more likely than something appearing out of nothing? What makes one more likely than the other? If anything, isn’t the non-supernatural thing more probable than the supernatural thing?

    For me, it comes down to this: For a long time on this planet human beings thought rain appeared “out of nothing.” All of a sudden, it’d just start falling out of the sky. Must be God’s tears, right? Oh, and there’s a thunderclap!—must be that God’s angry with us! (And it’s important to remember that, to those of a certain time, such thinking was rational.) For thousands of years humans didn’t know what the cause of this water-from-the-sky was.

    But then, after a long time and a lot of scientific advancement, guess what? We figured it out. Rainwater, it turns out, comes from something called “precipitation,” and scientists were finally able to explain and demonstrate what they once couldn’t. To people in the bronze age, it sure seemed like a supernatural force, but eventually science figured it out.

    Do we have much reason to believe that the big bang, or any of the other puzzles of cosmology (remember what Chomsky said—puzzles are soluble, while mysteries are not always) are any different? I will openly admit that right now it seems pretty tough to explain the big bang in terms of its cause. Right now. But in 50 or 100 years, science may just come through with some real, testable answers. If the last 500 years of scientific advancement have proved anything, they’ve proved that when it comes to these great mysteries, science often finds the answer…eventually.

    Top people are working on the problem of the big bang, and will continue to work on it for years to come. Let’s see what happens. It’s always going to be tempting to imagine that a “supernatural force” was responsible, but let’s just see where we are in a generation or two. Chances are, in a generation or two, we’ll know much more about it than we do now. In 100 years, or 200 years, it’s likely we’ll know more than we ever even dreamed was knowable. Let’s. Just. See.

    And no, I don’t put any “faith” in science. But faith and trust are two different things. I trust science quite a bit because it has a pretty good track record, no? (I mean, I am typing this on a computer, and I’m free of disease because I’ve been vaccinated, etc., etc.)

  • Scootah

    I hate the use of Agitprop to push Athiesm. Which is why though I like some of Dawkins’ writing – I’d never say I liked him.

    Agitational Propaganda, playing on the emotional and ill considered responsiveness of so many people is a common tool of the religious right, and lots of people on the left seem to think that using the same sort of techniques are a right and proper way to counter those arguments.

    Playing to the hysteria of the masses isn’t a good way to win people around to a rational way of thinking. It just isn’t.

    I also hate the propensity of athiests to seek minority status and victim protections. Unless you’ve actively suffered loss from discrimination – harden up nancies. The use of ‘No Athiests in Foxholes’ as a literary device isn’t even close to racial slurs implying sub-human intellect or the hate speech directed at jews.

  • Dan W

    I get frustrated when any people, atheists included, are jerks or irrational. Also when people, no matter what their religious views, make bad, illogical arguments for their position. And I get annoyed when people mispell “atheist” as “athiest”.

  • Heidi

    I hate when other atheists get mad that I don’t think their stoned-college-freshman philosophy is impressive. Yeah, I’ve seen Animal House, too. If we’re all molecules in a giant’s fingernail, I don’t care.

    I also hate accommodationists who expect me to respect insanity. Do I have to respect the beliefs of the leprechaunists, too? What if they’re really sincere and it hurts their feelings?

    @Hitch:

    Why accept atheism as label but not a-loch-nessy-ist or a-yeti-ist.

    If the subject comes up, I’m totally both of those. Although I prefer the blanket term, “acryptoidist.”

  • AxeGrrl

    Richard Wade wrote:

    I work very hard to get Christians to see atheists as people instead of monsters, and one bitter, hate-filled atheist who can’t let go of their pain or who just wants a cheap way to feel superior can undo it all with a single comment. When I confront them, I hear the same rationalizations and justifications as any other bigot will use, whether they’re racists, sexists, religious bigots or anti-religious bigots.

    Get past whatever is your hurt, grow up and help make things better. Humanity is drowning in a giant cesspool of hate. We don’t need your bucketful.

    Great post Richard:)

    And I’d like to order the latter paragraph in bumper-sticker form, please 🙂

  • trixr4kids

    SickoftheUS:

    The difference is not between “saying ‘I believe X is not true’ and saying ‘I don’t believe X is true'”. It’s between “‘I don’t believe X is true’ and ‘I don’t believe it’s possible to be certain that X is not true'”.

    And it is not true that “In any other area of human knowledge”, those two positions would be considered “equivalent statements”. In science, philosophy, or any other discipline where intellectual rigor is important, to assume so would get you laughed out of the union.

    Word: Critical thinking. Learn it. Use it.

  • AxeGrrl

    SpencerDub wrote:

    Also, I’d like to point out that while “there is no Creator deity” and “there is a Creator deity” may both be impossible to verify, that doesn’t necessarily give them both equal veracity.

    yes! I was involved in a discussion recently in which one poster asserted that because God’s existence is a one-or-the-other proposition (God exists or God doesn’t exist) it means that the probability for each being true is 50/50!

    He just couldn’t seem to understand that just because something is ‘either this or that’ it doesn’t mean that each scenario is equally likely.

  • anon

    I troll here sometimes so I think I’ll put in my 2 cents:

    1. i hate it when atheists are dismissive of theists/agnostics/irreligious people in matters that are not about religion or belief in god. For Example: He believes in God so I won’t listen to his thoughts about whether or not Rubber Soul is good music or not.

    2. When atheists are dismissive of spiritual pain (for lack of a better term). For example: I was talking to someone who had lost their faith in god and was very depressed about it and someone overheard and said, “Did you cry when you found out the easter bunny wasn’t real?” Not funny, not cool, and obviously not the same fucking thing.

    3. The fallacies used in debate. If you are going to be the sort of person who debates people learn how to do it right for pete’s sake.

    4.I hate it when atheists find out someone they thought was a atheist is actually a theist and treats them differently. I have seen this alot among friends but perhaps that is because I am young.

    other than that, just the same behaviors that irritate me in the general population.

    Oh, I would classify myself as agnostic/irreligious if that matters.

  • nofearof0

    What I find frustrating about the atheist movement (not people who identify as atheists in other movements) but as a movement about atheism, it seems really disconnected. I wonder why so many people who are able and willing to question the hierarchy of Religion, are not more willing to question other forms of hierarchy and oppression. In other words, why aren’t all atheists radicals? Don’t get me wrong, some are, but many atheists I talk to and read opinions of on these sorts of blogs, treat atheism as a lifestyle choice, like choosing to recycle or not to recycle.

    It seems to me that being an atheist is more than just a choice, like “this is my opinion and thats yours”, its really an ethical stance. If we acknowledge all the harm, deaths, oppressions and exploitations that have been, continue to be, and will continue in the name of religion, than we aught to say that religion and faith are concepts worthy of scorn and hopefully through time, eradication.

    When you have people who don’t believe in Climate change or environmental protection because God said to use the land as we see fit….thats a problem. When you have people killing doctors and denying contraceptives for women cuz God said for men not to spill their seed…thats a problem. When you have people who support nuclear weapons and war because they believe it will bring forth judgment day and rapture…holy shit, you get the point. How many people are told just to put up with their own misery and exploitation because when they die they will be rewarded? So much progression is inhibited by people who believe in pie in the sky doctrine instead of, you know, reality.

    Which is why I get frustrated with atheists who treat atheism like a fashion trend, something that is just a matter of differing opinions, and not a part of a larger, complex picture of battling oppression and exploitation.

  • OK, I said I can give you a reasonable argument for a creator, so here goes. Let’s start with the big bang where matter appeared from NOTHING and then exploded.

    That isn’t what the Big Bang says. The Big Bang says that the universe has expanded from a primordial hot and dense initial condition at some finite time in the past. It says nothing at previous conditions other than we cannot know them. You’re making assumptions about previous events and using these assumptions to form an hypothesis that you tear down.

    I submit to you that in order for that to occur, you need a CAUSE.

    Ah the cosmological argument. Inciting a deity as first cause doesn’t allow you to escape that particular paradox though. Also you are assuming a “before” the Big Bang again. There is no evidence that there was a “before” and reasonable hypotheses that without space there was no time so the concept of “before” doesn’t make sense.

    Still not convinced, let’s look at Anthropic Principle

    I’m not convinced. We live in a universe with certain fundamental physical constants. That is certainly great for us but not proof of anything other than these constants exist.

    The point is that the universe appears to have been formed with the purpose of harboring life.

    Really? I can’t see life everywhere in the universe or even anywhere other than this little planet. Wouldn’t a universe formed with the purpose of harbouring life have a bit more life to it? Even if every solar system in every galaxy throughout the entire universe had a rock that supported life that would only show that the universe supports life and not that it was designed to do so. If you’ve got evidence of a designer then trot it out for me to see but you can’t make assumptions to infer the existence of a creator deity without having someone point out the flaws in that.

  • jose

    @Richard Wade

    So what do you do think about this? Nothing?

  • The point is that the universe appears to have been formed with the purpose of harboring life.

    A more inductive conclusion would be that this universe was created specifically for the formation of stars, or black holes. Neither of which fit your anthropocentric worldview and so you reject out of hand.

    ckitching, universal healthcare is desirable and has societal benefits, however what is beneficial is not necessarily ‘right’ or logical and they way to achieve universal healthcare are what is not correctly, or fully, argued. Atheists who come to non-belief through intellectual rigor often leave that at the door in an effort to show how they are not the ‘monsters’ Christians perceive them to be.

    Speaking of monsters, cannibalism is mainly attributable to passing on disease when certain body parts are eaten or undercooked (brain, brain stem, liver etc.) There is no reason to think that a human steak would be any more dangerous than a cow steak, it could be subject to extra testing and then sold – it is an illogical disgust reaction that would stop most people from eating it (myself included) but that is then compounded by saying “it is so disgusting to me that I am going to stop you from doing it.” That is not logical. I’ll ignore firearms, I am somewhat torn on that particular issue.

  • When they say “I’m not saying what I do believe, but merely stating a lack of belief.” It’s like:
    – Do you think there is a god?
    – No.
    – Do you think there is no god then?
    – *ahem*
    – So what do you think? Nothing?
    – …Well, I can tell you what I don’t think. I don’t think god exists.
    – So what do you do think?
    – Well, I think I like muffins.
    – …wat.

    I think there is no god and so do you, folks. What’s wrong with that? I don’t get it.

    The issue is one of justification for beliefs, rather than their content strictly speaking. The content of “I lack belief in gods” and “I believe there is no god” is indeed roughly the same. But the very significant difference is between saying “I am justified in rejecting belief in gods because there is no sufficient evidence in favor of belief in gods” and “I am justified in believing there are no gods because I have reasons to think there are no gods”. These are crucially not equivalent.

    The former is crucially only saying that given the evidence (and lack of evidence), the rationally justified decision is to abstain from any beliefs in any gods and to argue others should also feel so compelled to not believe in gods. The latter is saying that there is countervailing evidence against belief in all gods, that leads one to positively assert that there are indeed no gods.

    I do not have positive evidence there are no gods. I do think I have positive evidence that an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, personal god does not exist. I will say I actively do not believe in that God because I think the objection from evil is a decisive refutation (or at least compelling enough to warrant belief even if it might not be certain and incontrovertible). There are similar god beliefs which are like that and which I think there are positive arguments against.

    But when it comes to whether there is some unified principle that generates the universe and might properly be what philosophers think of as “God”, I do not have anywhere near enough evidence to say “I believe I am justified in arguing actively such a being does not exist.” But I think I can make the case from standards for proper belief that given the inconclusiveness of the evidence available and the lack of any actual positive evidence in favor of the god hypothesis that I am compelled to deny a positive belief in such a being but allow the possibility of its truth if evidence or argumentation could persuade me of it in the future.

    Since this is an epistemic argument, one about what I am justified in thinking, my lack of belief is tightly correlated to my standards for belief and the call for restraint in affirming propositions without sufficient evidence in their favor.

    To cross over to saying “I believe there is no god” and not just “I do not think anyone is justified in saying there is a god”, given the lack of evidence or persuasive philosophical argument, is to say that I have more than just an epistemological argument about why active belief in God is inappropriate but to say I further have good reasons to think that thinking that there is no God is supported by evidence.

    I don’t think there is evidence that says there is no god of any sort whatsoever (and not just some sorts which are disprovable). But I do think that there are epistemic standards of justification which make it impermissible to hold such beliefs (even if it might turn out they would have been true beliefs) for as long as there is insufficient evidence.

    Why is all this important though? Because the primary problem with religious belief is faith, which is the commitment to believe that which is insufficiently supported by evidence and reason. When I say, do not believe what you have no good philosophical or scientific or lifeworld-engagement reasons to believe, I am asking for a lack of belief in gods out of adherence to a rigid epistemological standard of restraint and humility.

    This leads to a default position of atheism and a functional atheism insofar as it precludes acting like a theist who founds beliefs and actions on active belief in God. To restrain belief in this manner is to reject faith, religious sources of knowledge, etc. But it is not to go ahead and baselessly speculate for myself about (thus far) unknowable matters. My atheism is a matter of default and rigorous adherence to epistemological principle.

    Were I to just go ahead and say there are no gods/is no metaphysical god principle, then I am not saying that we should not affirm in the god question but instead I am saying that we can affirm in the god question. Now I am no longer epistemologically rigorous and restrained, but now I am assertive of a fact that I cannot adequately support with the available evidence. Now I am no longer better than the person of faith who believes in that which reason and evidence cannot provide adequate basis but I am instead someone actively believing something that I think does not have adequate basis—that there actually is no unifying “divine” metaphysical principle.

    Now, perhaps some metaphysicians or cosmologists or cosmogonists think they have a good enough grasp on the issues involved and sufficient evidence for their views and think that as a matter of reason, they have sufficiently high basis for belief in God or belief there is no God. Such a person would at least be right in thinking themselves justified to either believe there is a God or believe there is no God. Whether or not the belief or non-belief is correct is another question, the question of the actual justification of their belief or non-belief and whether or not it is true or false. But such a person is different than a person of faith who thinks they do not have sufficient reason, sufficient metaphysics, sufficient cosmology, sufficient cosmogony, etc. to assert one way or the other and who yet opts to actively affirm belief or actively affirm non-belief.

    Such a person I think is doing something unethical because they are not restraining their will to believe or to affirm disbelief in accord with the evidence. My criticism is of the ethics of belief and the ethics of disbelief, and the ethics of non-affirmation. Propositions that I do not think I have sufficient evidence to affirm or deny, should be ones that I, as a matter of default, do not treat as true. I should encourage others too to reject faith and other hasty forms of affirmation and to encourage them too to simply lack an opinion about them. In the case of the god question, the default functioning of this lack of affirmation will be atheistic. It will oppose religion, spurious unsupported claims to authority by religious traditions, etc. Its provisional default assumption will be that the fantastic claims of religions are likely false and without extraordinary evidence unnecessary to refute. Even though they cannot be refuted and we can not claim any refutation has happened, we can deny they are proper beliefs nonetheless.

    As I said, some metaphysicians or cosmologists or cosmogonists or others might think they can sufficiently enough weigh the relevant evidence to positively affirm or explicitly reject some god hypothesis or another. Such a person will not be actually justified if his or her belief is actually false. But such a person would, in my eyes, be ethically justified if they were scrupulous as one can demand in their reasoning and were simply convinced to believe in the existence or non-existence of a God.

    But for me and for all others whom the issue seems insufficiently settleable (at least in some respects—in some I think it is settleable, some god hypotheses I think are positively refutable), I think there is an ethical duty to neither affirm the truth of the proposition that there is a god nor to affirm that there is not a god. I think there is a duty to restrain belief to such an extent as to say lack all belief in gods, leave open the hypothetical possibility that some god hypothesis might indeed prove itself some day, but in the meantime oppose active belief in god or gods which leads people to irrationalism or baseless appeals to supposed religious authorities. And this is what advocating for atheism really boils down to for me.

    Finally, I do think that even if someone might think he or she can prove a metaphysical or cosmological or cosmogonical god, and thus ethically hold such a belief, I think belief in supernaturalistic deities who guide humans with specially imparted knowledge or commands violates so many rules of rational restraint as to make it utterly impermissible both epistemologically and ethically, regardless of even a smart individual’s sincerity in nonetheless holding to it.

  • Er, a number of things, really.

    1) The atheist-agnostic rivalry, where each side claims they hold the only truly rational point of view. If people want to debate it, fine – but it has an annoying tendency to pop up in the comment sections of unrelated blog entries.

    2) Trying to tell believers what they “really” believe.

    3) Using the word “irrational” every few sentences. It’s a good word, don’t get me wrong, but often we use it to dismiss ideas instead of addressing them.

    4) Assuming that you, as a fellow atheist, are a liberal. Related is the assumption that you are insane if you aren’t. (Obviously doesn’t apply to all liberal atheists, but it’s a common trend.)

    5) More generally, assuming that your political position on any given topic is the only rational one possible, and that people holding the opposite view are irrational* fools.

    6) Constant back-patting about how amazing we are – ie, whenever a study showing anything good about atheists comes up.

    7) Assuming believers are idiots or insane.

    8 ) Related to (7), assuming that we, by dint of our atheism, have somehow achieved god-like reasoning abilities, unaffected by emotions, bias, or intellectual blind-spots.

    *Note the ironic use of the word “irrational” a few sentences after (3).

  • EdmondWA

    I didn’t read all those (though I’ll probably try eventually), and I could probably think of all KINDS of things that other atheists can do that frustrate me, but it sure ISN’T the capacity to ASK what we can do to frustrate one another. I find the ability to ask that question to be a FANTASTIC VIRTUE, one that Christians and other mono-theistic belief systems rarely ask one-another. Self-reflection is probably an evolutionary in-road, anyway.

    Actually, considering how much time I spent choosing my words, my #1 complaint about atheists is that they’ll eat you alive if you can’t perform in spelling, grammar, or syntax.

  • Benjamin

    To paraphrase Dennett; nothing distresses than a bad argument for a point with which I agree. That is, when they argue for their atheism or against religion badly, using logical fallacies or poor logic.

  • … Wayne.

    “I submit to you that the only way around this problem is a supernatural being outside of space and time.”

    You have place god firmly into the gap. This is not a logical argument. This is an argument from ignorance.

  • Aj

    Wayne Dunlap,

    Fairies and deities are supernatural agents with mythologies attached to them. The atheist is stating that they don’t believe in deities for the same reason they don’t believe in fairies, i.e. a lack of evidence or reason. To believers the difference between fairies and their gods might be important, to atheists it is not.

    The Big Bang actually can’t explain the early universe, anything said about it is speculation by theoretical physicists. There are multiple theories of cosmology that posit a Big Bang but not matter appearing from nothing, many of them involving multiverses.

    a) You don’t know that the only way around the problem is to resort of a supernatural being.

    b) You have not reasoned why you think the universe has been designed to harbour life.

    c) You have no idea the probabilities of the parameters, you do not know why they are the way they are.

    You say you have a reasonable argument for a creator, but then just present a number of claims from personal belief. You repeatedly commit the argument from personal incredulity logical fallacy.

  • … Wayne.

    “I submit to you that the only way around this problem is a supernatural being outside of space and time.”

    You have place god firmly into the gap. This is not a logical argument. This is an argument from ignorance.

    You haven’t solved the problem. You now have to figure out where that being came from. You also have to tell us what “supernatural” means, and how a thing can be a causal agent without being in time and space. In fact, you have to tell us what it means to “exist” if you’re not in time or space.

    Your solution to an unanswered question was to throw a bunch of words at it without trying to figure out what they really mean.

    As for your response to what I said before, which was “Pretty sad! That is the typical nonsense that many atheists spew from their mouths.”:

    I noticed you didn’t actually bother addressing what I said. As far as we have evidence for them, gods only exist as concepts. Yet you’ve asserted that you know something about an actual god, i.e., that it can’t be investigated by science. How do you propose to show that you’re correct about this, if the actual evidence for this god is nonexistent? Please remember, there’s a difference between evidence and logical argument.

  • Aj

    Claudia,

    If you believe that people can be good without gods, and that any secular good can be justified without religion as with, then you do not believe that they would not otherwise be motivated to do good deeds. Specific good deeds being different? They would be different, as would living in a different location, however it’s hard to say which specific good deeds would be different. Naming good deeds that are justified by religion, but can’t be justified by secular ethics seems impossible. The reverse, naming bad deeds, seems very easy.

    Disagree that people can be good without gods. Disagree that people aren’t motivated to do good by religion. However, realize that religion being able to motivate bad deeds doesn’t logically suggest that they can motivate good deeds.

  • ian

    I think the trend of some of my godless bretheren to dismiss and attempt to ban the use of the words,’belief, faith, worship’ etc as for use with religion only. They claim using these or similar terms confuse the arguments and their constant use indicates a lack of commitment to atheism and perhaps a sub-conscience that is actually religious.
    Or the claim that using such terms in the context of atheism, makes it more of a religion than an anti-religious movement. Therefore we should stop using such phrases because it confuses the argument.

    Picking at individual words is irritating.

  • Claudia

    @AJ
    Perhaps I didn’t explain myself well. I’m not suggesting that there are specific good acts that cannot conceivably happen without religion. So far as I’m aware, no one has yet answered Hitchen’s challenge to find such an act. What I am saying is that (some) atheists dismiss as irrelevant the stated religious motivations of good theists doing good things, and tend to minimize the degree to which religion can actually provide psychological support to these people. I think that if we listen and take at face value the religious justifications of Jihadists, we should not then withhold such acceptance from nuns in Rwanda. Could they still do what they do without religion? Well yes, they could, but they might not. Believing that you are called to serve, that you should accept your own suffering in order to help others because it is mandated by God can help you survive in the dire conditions many such people live. There’s no denying that there is an enriched population of deeply religious people helping the most destitute on Earth. I applaud efforts of the nonreligious to do the same things, but pretending that faith doesn’t actually play a role in the motivations of many people doing good things is disingenuous, in my view.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Cobblestone,
    Perhaps the creator always existed. I admit it is difficult to comprehend. The universe can’t will itself into existence, it needs a cause which doesn’t exist when there is nothing to start with. I suggested a supernatural being outside of space and time. Where the creator come from? Don’t know, can only speculate. If it were easy, someone would have come up with the answer by now.

  • The verbosity in some atheist’s comments…

    (Or perhaps I hate that I don’t have time to read everything)…

    Write comments like you are being charged by the word.

  • The verbosity in some atheist’s comments…

    (Or perhaps I hate that I don’t have time to read everything)…

    Write comments like you are being charged by the word.

    Some issues are too complicated to be properly treated briefly.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Cobblestone,
    I am definitely with you when you state that there have been many things attributed to a god which science later discovered natural causes for. Perhaps science will find a natural cause for the big bang, but for now, I find it hard to explain how something can come from nothing without a cause since a cause cannot exist when there is nothing in the first place. Someone suggested Quantum Physics, but if there is nothing, how could Quantum Physics exist? Since something cannot appear from nothing without a cause and since a cause cannot exist when there is nothing, the only way out of it that I can see is that a supernatural being outside of space in time would be required as the necessary cause.

  • colin

    It seems like a minority of atheists do fit the stereotypes used against all atheists.

    Some really are atheists because it’s ‘trendy’ or because they are rebelling.

    Since these atheists do not arrive at atheism through skepticism, it’s not likely that they apply much skepticism towards other issues that need examining.

  • Aj

    Claudia,

    People are generally good, therefore I’d answer that they could and they would. Good people do not need motivation to do good deeds, they already have it. For a good person to do some particular kinds of bad deeds, the only likely explanation is the religious beliefs that they claim motivated them, especially if those beliefs are internally logically consistent with their actions. That’s why we take some claims at face value, and others not.

    The existence of religious people doing good deeds is not evidence that they were motivated by religion. Whoever is correct, these people would exist. No one is denying that as far as I have seen.

    You can claim that religion can “provide psychology support”, “accept your own suffering”, or “help you survive”, but you offer no argument or evidence for this. Furthermore, these aren’t motivations to do good, they’re only possible ways to help facilitate goals. You don’t have to dismiss these to dismiss that religion motivates good deeds.

  • plutosdad

    One thing that annoys me is some people that can’t just appreciate a fun story or event, but every time you talk to them they have to criticize everything anyone says. They are bores. or is it boors? They often interrupt and what is most infuriating is these people don’t seem to be so criticial of their own ideas. I don’t like being around someone where every time I’m with them I feel like I’m being interrogated.

    It seems to me atheists are more like this than others, and lawyers 🙂

    Another thing that is somewhat annoying is atheists who have a visceral reaction against evolutionary psychology. Certainly there are intellectual arguments against many ideas, since it’s not like you can conduct experiments to determine what is nature and what is nurture, and most advocates of evolutionary psychology admit this.

  • Fett101

    the only way out of it that I can see is that a supernatural being outside of space in time would be required as the necessary cause.

    Dropping the whole job in the shoulders of a creator is the lazy way out. “A wizard did it”

    One thing that annoys me is some people that can’t just appreciate a fun story or event, but every time you talk to them they have to criticize everything anyone says.

    Maybe that’s their way of having fun? 😀

  • L. Foster

    There are those that have a kind of “us vs. them” mentality, an attitude that those who do believe are evil or at best, too gullible to think for themselves. We all have our different life experiences and ways of arriving wherever it is we are, belief-wise, and to suggest that someone else’s life experiences, and what they take from them, is wrong or stupid is (in my opinion) rude and counter-productive. It’s like someone else said above: it’s one thing to debate specific beliefs and logical fallacies, but lack of respect for believers as individual people strikes me as something some atheists do that I don’t care for.

  • AJ

    I hate atheists like the first post in this long chain. The atheists who are a through the mirror darkly image of fundamentalist Christians.

    I consider myself agnostic. I honestly don’t know if I believe there’s a god or not; I tend to be more interested in evidence. I would say I have no evidence of god’s existence, but I don’t strictly believe there is no god, the way I don’t strictly believe there are no aliens.

    Quit whining about people like me. You really turn me off to atheism.

    And before you bring up something like unicorns, please understand how ignorant that sounds. The universe is infinite in size. The probability of aliens in the universe is not the same as the probability of unicorns living somewhere on Earth.

  • Alice

    It bothers me when other atheists try to generalize religious people. I want to understand religious people and I want my religious friends to know that I love and respect them and it’s really hard to shake off negative stereotypes when others are perpetuating them.

  • When atheists say we should “Just let people believe what they want”. No one should be mean spirited, but irrational thought is irrational thought.

  • Claudia

    @AJ, that attitude is precicely my point. Let’s leave aside suicide bombers for the moment. When you hear the motivations of the Taliban, do you doubt them for a moment when they say that religion motivates their evil deeds? I doubt it, even when those deeds might happen at the hands of bad people even without religion.

    When they are bad:
    Theist says: I killed her because god told me to. God says that I must kill the infidel, they are inferior.

    Atheist says: Well they’re telling you themselves why they do it. It’s religion.

    When they are good:
    Theist says: I live amongst the HIV infected women here in Somalia because Jesus mandates that we must help the weakest amongst us. We must be insturments for the love of God on Earth.
    Atheist says: Well obviously religion has nothing to do with it, whatever she says. She’s just a good person and would do it regardless.

    This double standard drives me truly crazy. Belittling the motivations of truly good people just because you don’t want to believe that it could be due to religion. Ignoring that in the worst parts of the world, you’ll often find nuns laboring to help and overtly saying that its their faith that helps them keep going.

    I think religion is a net negative in the world, but I think its dishonest to reject the very possibility that there are places, situations and individuals where it helps. Just because we recognize this doesn’t mean we don’t try to replace the explicitly religious good things with secular versions.

  • Killer Bee

    Those who think being rational in just one area validates the intellectual junkyard of their minds.

  • Aj

    Claudia,

    The Taliban is a good example of what a society would look like if they tried to implement strict sharia law, by following the hadith. If they claim that they are religiously motivated when killing apostates, I believe them. That’s not saying non-religious ideologies wouldn’t also demand death for those that openly reject the ideology. But there is a direct connection between their belief in the authority of the prophet, what the hadith says, and the implementation of sharia law resulting in death to apostates. It’s possible they would still kill apostates if their was no hadith that demanded it, but because I believe people are generally good, I don’t think that’s likely.

    You are wrong, I wouldn’t automatically accept that a murder was religiously motivated. Murder can have secular motivation too, it’s not necessarily true that everyone who claims to be religiously motivated to do bad deeds is truthful. However, people who murder others for secular motivation, such as money, are not good people. That’s why I’d also be sceptical of anyone who says they were doing something good because Jesus mandated it. Since I believe people are generally good, I would expect them to do good deeds regardless.

    It’s amazing to me that you consider me suggesting that people are good is belittling them, but suggesting that people are good because they irrationally believe in a god, and that god demanded they perform actions. I think it is the opposite, those that do good because they are good, are much better than those ordered. I think people don’t have to be ordered.

    Again, the existence of religious people doing good is not evidence that they’re religiously motivated. Again, even if we agree to accept that “their faith helps them keep going” is not motivation, it’s facilitation. Furthermore, I’m not denying the “very” possibility that it helps, that’s another discussion altogether. There’s a strong belief in belief among atheists, that seems little more than a cultural dogma. I won’t blindly accept it without evidence or reasoned argument.

  • Claudia, I do agree and personally see religion as a Curate’s Egg with both good parts and bad but the whole spoiled by the bad parts. That said I’m finding it increasingly difficult to find the good in religion. Those nuns who labour in Africa helping AIDS victims might well be doing good but they wouldn’t have such a hard time if their counterparts would only stop lying about condoms.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Hoverfrog,
    According to the standard big bang theory, our universe sprang into existence as “singularity” . What is a “singularity” and where does it come from? We don’t know for sure. According to many experts, space didn’t exist prior to the Big Bang. According to calculations by Steven Hawking, George Ellis and Roger Penrose, time and space had a finite beginning that corresponded to the origin of matter and energy. The singularity didn’t appear in space, rather, space began inside of the singularity. Prior to the singularity, NOTHING existed, not space, time, mater or energy – NOTHING.
    The fact that the constants are all within a required narrow range for life to exist can be construed as being due to a creator since the odds are astronomical that these parameters could all be met by chance.
    Kenneth E. Miller believes that a creator set up evolution so that he did not have to get involved. The odds are so against life coming about by chance plus everything has to be just right such as our planet has to be a certain distance from our sun. All the rest of the planets in our solar system are either too far away or too close to the sun. Therefore, it appears that ours is the only planet in our solar system that can support life. But, I see no problem with that since we have billions of solar systems. And eventually we will develop the ability to explore for new worlds. The fact that there is no other apparent life in our universe does not negate the possibility of a creator.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    kendaw,
    If the gravitational constant was too strong or too week, stars and black holes could not exist either.

  • Ash

    Douglas Adams, anyone?

    . . . imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’ This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be all right, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.

  • Dream Theater

    Yo, miller:

    #3 and #4 are a weird combination. Is this a call for socially awkward people to start organizing? :)~

    3. Resistance to organization, especially offline.

    That’s funny because I’ve always been annoyed by the assumption that because I’m an atheist I’m supposed to be a part of some stupid atheist organization. WRONG! I have about as much desire to be part of an atheist organization I have to be a part of any other organization.

    I’ll continue to be a strong supporter of my three favorite organizations, though: work, home, and vacation!

    4. A relatively high density of really socially awkward people. They become more obvious offline.

    {sarcasm}
    That really is annoying, isn’t it?! Socially awkward people are like ugly people – they should just stay home so the rest of us don’t have to look at them. It’s bad enough that we have to bear looking at them briefly at the DMV! {Shudder}

    (Oh, wait, most of them already do stay home. I wonder why…)
    {/sarcasm}

  • Aj

    Wayne Dunlap,

    Prior to the singularity, NOTHING existed, not space, time, mater or energy – NOTHING.

    Prior to the existence of time… Nothing existed… Are you listing oxymorons? If so, I would like to add an asymmetrical three-sided circle.

    The fact that the constants are all within a required narrow range for life to exist can be construed as being due to a creator since the odds are astronomical that these parameters could all be met by chance.

    It certainly shouldn’t be construed as evidence for a creator, but if we’re making wild completely unsupported guesses I have a few: a) We’re in one of the finite possibilies of universes in the multiverse. b) They’re fundamental properties of existence, not derived from any process involving chance. c) It is random chance.

    Perhaps we could just admit we don’t know and try to find out through rational means?

  • Hohumyawn

    Someone already said it…when an atheist attempts to debate a bible thumper when he/she doesn’t know the bible him or herself. Especially, those atheists who weren’t raised religious, and try to downplay the abuse that we former religious people have endured growing up.

    Personally, I think there are two different type of atheists…those who were raised in nonreligious homes, and those who were raised religious, but left as a result of research. Very distinct difference in those two people!

  • Deepak Shetty

    Atheists who keep insisting that agnostics are agnostics because they don’t have the courage to out themselves or they aren’t brave enough as the atheist has been himself. The friendly atheist himself falls into this category!

    Atheists who say agnostics are ‘agnostic atheists’ while simultaneously refusing to label themselves as agnostics since they keep explaining to us that Agnosticism is a knowledge claim and any reasonable atheist cant make a claim to *know*.

    Atheists who subscribe to NOMA.

  • Wayne:

    The universe can’t will itself into existence, it needs a cause which doesn’t exist when there is nothing to start with.

    What makes you think that universes must be caused? Do we have any experience with the beginning of a universe that tells us this is the case? Yes, everything inside the universe needs a cause… but the universe is not a thing inside the universe.

    We also have plenty of evidence for complex things developing out of simple things, yet your best guess at the solution is something remarkably more complex than anything we’ve ever discovered!

    Perhaps science will find a natural cause for the big bang, but for now, I find it hard to explain how something can come from nothing without a cause since a cause cannot exist when there is nothing in the first place.

    So you think it makes sense to jump to the supernatural just to explain something you can’t understand? Don’t you see how that’s the opposite of logic?

    By the way… if “a cause cannot exist when there is nothing in the first place,” what does that say about a creator? How could it exist when there is nothing in the first place? If you have to invoke some special pleading here to say, “well, it exists outside of space and time,” you haven’t got anywhere. You’re still stuck at square one, explaining how a cause cannot exist when there is nothing in the first place… UNLESS it exists outside of space and time.

    The fact that the constants are all within a required narrow range for life to exist can be construed as being due to a creator since the odds are astronomical that these parameters could all be met by chance.

    Sorry, Wayne, but that’s BS. To know what the odds of something are, you need to know the denominator; that is, “the odds are 1 in (###)”. Since we only have one universe, it is not possible to know what the odds are that those constants would turn out the way they are. For all we know, the odds could be 1 in 1. It may not even be possible for a universe to form in any other way. We don’t know – and no amount of “we don’t know” ever becomes justification for arguing for the supernatural.

    Imagine that you were the first person ever to win a lotto jackpot, and there was no information on how many tickets had been sold. You would have absolutely no way of knowing what the chances of winning were. The only data point you have is that you won. You can’t say “the chances were astronomical” because you don’t have a denominator.

    That’s just how probability works. With a single data point, you cannot say that something is unlikely. This is just like people talking about how unlikely it would be for life like ours to arise. They have nothing to compare against. With a throw of dice, you can know exactly what the chances are for getting a specific outcome, because you know how many outcomes there are. If you don’t know how many outcomes there can be, you cannot make an argument about probability!

  • Lore

    According to my boyfriend what I do that irritates him is that I can’t take anything said about religion as just a comment. It’s not that I attack it automatically but I might start deconstructing any implied/expicit facts in the statement regardless of whether or not it is factual.

    I have to stop myself and remind myself that it is not always worth it to to figure out if everything said about a religion is strictly true.

    I hate it when atheists do stuff like instead of saying “bless you” coming up with something stupid to say. I knew a guy freshman year of college who stole the line from that Dane Cook piece and would say “nothing happens when you die!” Which is all fun and good the first time but honestly it gets old and it unnecessarily offends people.

  • SpencerDub

    @Wayne Dunlap and others interested in the cosmological debate, I started a thread in the forums so as to not derail the comments here. We might want to take our debate over there.

    @Lore-

    I just say “Gesundheit.” It doesn’t have religious connotations at all, and it’s still a wish for the sneezer’s good health. Granted, we could ask why we need to excuse sneezes at all, since we know now that they aren’t evil spirits leaving the body, just a natural bodily function… but I suppose that’s best saved for another time. 🙂

  • I really think the reason some atheist say they wish there was a creator is because it may mean a continuance of consciousness after death.

    Uh, why would it mean that? Forgive me if I seem dense, but why would anyone (let alone an atheist) assume a connection between the existence of a supernatural creator and the existence of continued consciousness after death? That’s a specific claim that certain religions may (or may not) make, but it doesn’t necessarily follow from the mere existence of a supernatural creator. In addition, not all afterlife claims are made by religions which assert the existence of deities.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    MikeThe Infidel,
    “You have place god firmly into the gap. This is not a logical argument. This is an argument from ignorance.”

    Call, it what you want, but I have given you a logical expaination why a creator appears necessary. Calling it god of the gaps and ignorance is no counter to my argument. I have given you some very logical reason for why I feel a creator is necessry. You haven’t shown me any logic for your side of the argument.

  • Lore

    @SpencerDub

    I agree that there are other things to say in those situations, i stick with “bless you” cause it’s what I have always heard and I honestly don’t see any connection to religion in the same way I dont think of Christmas as celebrated by the majority of americans as very religious. It is as much a consumerism holiday as anything. But it irritates me when people go out of their way to say offensive things in these situations. Yes, i think religion is a little silly, but I am not going to start an argument cause someone sneezed, and I find it odd when others do. :p

  • Personally, I think there are two different type of atheists…those who were raised in nonreligious homes, and those who were raised religious, but left as a result of research. Very distinct difference in those two people!

    Boy, you can say that again! As a lifelong atheist, I often feel like I must have been dropped in from some other planet. Religion is so completely and utterly bizarre to me, and the more research I do, the weirder and weirder it gets.

    I do my best to be sensitive to religious people, but I don’t understand the religious impulse and obviously have never felt the kind of emotional attachment that certain theists feel about their god and their faith.

  • Aj

    Wayne Dunlap,

    Call, it what you want, but I have given you a logical expaination why a creator appears necessary. Calling it god of the gaps and ignorance is no counter to my argument. I have given you some very logical reason for why I feel a creator is necessry. You haven’t shown me any logic for your side of the argument.

    An argument from ignorance is a logical fallacy. Just because you personally cannot think of any other possibility, doesn’t make your preferred explanation true. Specifically, God of the gaps refers to when people use an argument from ignorance to explain gaps in knowledge with actions by God. Sometimes mocked by repeating the exclamation “god-did-it” or “a wizard did it”.

    Considering how your comments are laced with logical fallacies and spurious claims, we will have to agree to disagree about whether you have given a logical explanation or reason.

  • I’ve noticed that people who tend to use fallacies the most also tend to insist that their arguments are logical…

  • Wayne Dunlap

    According to the standard big bang theory, our universe sprang into existence as “singularity” . What is a “singularity” and where does it come from? We don’t know for sure.

    True but there are some interesting ideas about the natural cause of this event. Like inflation for example. Of course you haven’t acknowledged that a singularity with no dimensions in space means that space-time isn’t an applicable concept and “before” doesn’t mean anything.

    Prior to the singularity, NOTHING existed, not space, time, mater or energy – NOTHING.

    Right. NOTHING. Not even time.

    The fact that the constants are all within a required narrow range for life to exist can be construed as being due to a creator since the odds are astronomical that these parameters could all be met by chance.

    That’s one hypothesis but honestly we don’t know what would happen if we fiddled around with the constants a little and anyway so what? The universe is full of unlikely happenings. Its a big universe and its really old and unlikely things happen all the time. Think how likely it is that someone will get run over by a bus and then see how many people a day it happens to.

    Kenneth E. Miller believes that a creator set up evolution so that he did not have to get involved.

    How lovely for him but where is the evidence for this assertion?

    The odds are so against life coming about by chance plus everything has to be just right such as our planet has to be a certain distance from our sun. All the rest of the planets in our solar system are either too far away or too close to the sun.

    Well doesn’t Mars just fit into the edge of the Goldilocks zone? If only it were a bit bigger and had more of an atmosphere.

    I see no problem with that since we have billions of solar systems. And eventually we will develop the ability to explore for new worlds. The fact that there is no other apparent life in our universe does not negate the possibility of a creator

    Nor does it indicate one.

  • Gabriel

    Well, things that I think hurt our case:
    1. Deliberate troublemaking. I know we don’t all do it, but there are some deeply unpleasant people who make all of us look bad. Kind of like that embarrassing relative who makes the whole family look like weirdos.
    2. Not seeing the forest for the trees. I think everyone is guilty of this–people do have a tendency to forget that the radicals are not the whole picture, and thus end up getting a bit “phobic.”
    3. Calling all religious people “crazy”. I would agree with “brainwashed”, “kidding themselves” and calling televangelists “con artists”. They are not crazy. Wrong about a lot of things, but mostly not crazy.

  • Greg

    Re: The ‘bless you’ thing. I’ve actually never seen an atheist make a point of not saying it, but if you are one of those atheist…

    Blessings aren’t solely religious – for example, in the olden days a suitor would ask a girl’s father for his blessings on their proposed marriage.

    Just do what I do when people say bless you – take it as a wish for your good health.

    And if you find yourself saying it out of habit, then don’t ‘correct’ yourself, just mean it as giving them your best wishes for good health.

    It’s like saying ‘for god’s sake!’ – when I say it, I don’t mean anything more by the use of ‘god’ than an expletive.

    And if Christians tell me I’m ‘using the Lord’s name in vain’, I just point out that that would require I believed in their god.

    Some people need to lighten up…

    I know… Sometimes I’m one of those that need to lighten up. Just not about those things. 😉

    And at least I try!! 🙂

    As for Wayne Dunlap’s arguments…

    Well, I’ve got into too many of them to expect that anything I say will make a difference, and the last arguments I got into were too much of a waste of time, and too recent to want to get into another. I just want to make this comment, however, because from the way you’ve presented your argument, you seem to think we won’t have come across it before:

    They aren’t unusual arguments. They are very common, and you should have no problem finding refutations in books or on the net if you look.

    There’s often a claim made by theists that atheists don’t want to believe in god for some reason; that they are close-minded. If you believe that, then there’s no point trying to persuade us. If you don’t believe that, and yet you are using an argument we are familiar with, then maybe we have a good reason for thinking it is such a bad argument. (I refer to your attempt just to dismiss the criticism that it is an argument from ignorance – a logical fallacy.)

    Otherwise, I’ve thought of a few more things that Christians do that annoy me, but no more atheist ones yet.

  • It bugs me when atheists bash Dawkins as though it makes them somehow not “one of thooose atheists”.

    He’s an eloquent speaker and writer who brings out the best in atheism and a rational view of the world. Not saying Dawkins is perfect, but still, he’s awesome.

    Some atheists try to chip away at this vanguard of rational thought while he stands in harm’s way, so to speak. Bugs me, I tells ya.

  • Deepak Shetty

    @wayne
    A logical explanation is when given a set of propositions you can arrive at more propositions which logically follow.

    You seem to me be confusing something being *not illogical* with a logical explanation. For e.g. It would not be illogical to say a creator is a valid hypothesis for the beginning of the universe. But a creator does not logically follow from the proposition that the universe exists. The hypothesis is also not a good one because of the improbability factor, but an improbable hypothesis is not the same as an illogical one. You should also note that a Creator hypothesis is as logical as the hypothesis that Ilúvatar created the universe.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Aj,
    Sorry, but belittling my logic for a creator by equating it to a belief in fairies does not make for a quality discussion. First of all, I am an agnostic with theist leanings which eliminates any of your referred to mythologies baggage. Further, I am giving you well thought out reasoning why a creator could be necessary. You state that the Big Bang states nothing about matter appearing from nothing. I beg to differ with you. It does. No, I don’t have hard evidence that a creator had to be involved, only logic. Further, I don’t see any evidence from you other than silly references to fairies, the typical atheist copout. Sad!!! You are critical of my suggesting a supernatural may be the only way to solve the problem of something coming from nothing. You state that this isn’t the case but I have seen otherwise, and not from some creationist web site either. If you recall, I said that one of the scientists who stated that before matter, which expanded, there was nothing. That scientist is one of my favorites, Steven Hawking. I didn’t invent this. If there is nothing to start with, please explain how nothing can come about without a cause since there is no cause available when there is nothing. You are so quick to jump on a supernatural being as being ridiculous, but don’t stop to think how ridiculous it would be for matter to appear from nothing all by itself. You claim that I present claims from personal beliefs. Really? The Anthropic Principle was determined by scientists. I recommend you check out Kenneth E. Miller’s book, In Search of Darwin’s God. He uses the Anthropic Principle in his book as an argument for a creator. Also, this book is one of the best I have seen in favor of evolution. We know that there are constants that have a very close tolerance. If they are just a little higher or lower, life cannot exist. No, I don’t know why they are the way they are, all I know is that if a creator did not control these parameters, then odds are that at least one of them would have been too high or low and life could not exist. As far as I am concerned, yes the belief that a creator outside of space and time is required for matter to come from nothing is my original thought.
    OK, you are so quick to put down the possibility that a creator had to be involved, let’s hear your explanation how something came from nothing all by itself and how all odds were beaten so that all the parameters were within a required very narrow range so that life could exist.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    MikeThe Infidel,
    You state that my suggesting a supernatural being outside of space and time is an argument from ignorance. Perhaps it is, but can you come up with a better solution? Stating that matter appeared from nothing without a cause can also be construed as an argument from ignorance. You are right, I don’t have any evidence how it occurred, but neither have you presented any evidence either. I admit that I have no choice but to base my reasoning on logic. Where is your evidence that my logic is wrong? Show me evidence that a creator is not a possible solution. BTW, I don’t comprehend why you can’t understand why a supernatural being cannot be investigated by science. Science is designed to investigate Material things. It is not equipped to investigate the existence of a supernatural being. I admit that I don’t know exactly out of space and time is, only that perhaps this being is in its own universe. Remember that this is pure speculation. If there is a creator, no one knows anything about this creator. As far as supernatural goes, perhaps you should ask the definition from other atheists since they are the ones who always use this term. Here’s a definition from Webster’s Dictionary:
    1 : of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil
    2 a : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature b : attributed to an invisible agent (as a ghost or spirit)

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Fetti101,
    “Dropping the whole job in the shoulders of a creator is the lazy way out. “A wizard did it”

    Then how about expaining an alternative way matter could have come about from nothing and than expanded into the universe. Throwing the statement “A wizard did it” as an attempt to belittle my suggestion is just another typical atheist copout. It adds nothing to the discussion because it doesn’t explain anything. Sorry, ridicule does not counter an argument.

  • Sorry, Wayne, but in the absence of a scientific answer, you are not automatically right, nor is jumping to the supernatural justified.

    We have no evidence that the supernatural actually exists. To say that science can’t investigate the supernatural is to assert that it does exist, and that we know something about it.

    As for stating that it came from nothing: I haven’t done that, have I?

    You call referring to fairies a ‘copout’. Can you describe to me the evidence we have that makes a conceptual god somehow different from a conceptual fairy?

    Regarding “The Anthropic Principle was determined by scientists”: No. It’s a purely philosophical argument, not a scientific one.

    We know that there are constants that have a very close tolerance. If they are just a little higher or lower, life cannot exist. No, I don’t know why they are the way they are, all I know is that if a creator did not control these parameters, then odds are that at least one of them would have been too high or low and life could not exist.

    I think I already mentioned that claiming anything about the probability of those constants being what they are is BS. Did you miss that?

    Not to mention that you’ve gone and made another ridiculous claim – that if there weren’t a creator, odds are that life wouldn’t exist … and yet, for those constants to exist at the wrong values without a creator, a universe would have to exist. Thus completely undercutting the idea that a universe could only come from a creator.

    As if this is something that you can possibly claim to have any knowledge of, considering that we don’t even know if the numbers could be different. Saying that such-and-such a thing would be different if there were no creator is to beg the question of the creator’s existence. Either the creator doesn’t exist, and things are the way they are without a creator, or it does exist, and you have no way of knowing how things would be without a creator.

    Remember that this is pure speculation. If there is a creator, no one knows anything about this creator.

    And yet you’re saying things that indicate that you know an awful lot about it. You’re mistaking certainty and lack of imagination for evidence. No matter how ignorant science may be; no matter how incredulous you are of the idea of life arising without a creator; no matter how much the idea of a universe coming from nothing baffles you; none of that is evidence of the supernatural. No amount of lack of explanation counts as proof of an explanation.

    Then how about expaining an alternative way matter could have come about from nothing and than expanded into the universe.

    Even if we can’t do it, Wayne, that isn’t a point in a god’s camp. Seriously, what you are doing is exactly equivalent to people blaming lightning on the gods!

    Throwing the statement “A wizard did it” as an attempt to belittle my suggestion is just another typical atheist copout. It adds nothing to the discussion because it doesn’t explain anything.

    Explain how it is any different from what you’re suggesting. Please. I’d love to know the difference between “magic” and “an undetectable, uninvestigable, supernatural being that exists outside space and time and requires no further explanation.” If it’s just belittling your suggestion, then I’m sure you can provide a reasonable explanation as to why they’re not the same.

    Oh, and you want to talk about not adding anything to the discussion? Postulating the supernatural. That adds absolutely nothing and explains even less. Especially when your objection to “the universe came from nothing” is “a supernatural being just always existed.”

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Aj,
    No, I’m not listing oxymorons. I got this from Steven Hawking. Do you think he is listing oxmorons?

    You say “Perhaps we could just admit we don’t know and try to find out through rational means?”

    That is exactly what I was trying to do, but you seem to take exception to my suggesting a need for a creator. Remember, I am an agnostic/theist. I am admitting I don’t know, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to use logic to come up with possible solutions. A creator seems more logical than matter appearing from nothing with no cause.

  • “A creator seems more logical than matter appearing from nothing with no cause.”

    Except that it isn’t, because simply asserting that a being can exist outside of time does not make it a logical explanation.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Miketheinfidel,
    “What makes you think that universes must be caused”
    I stated that Steven Hawking and other scientists believe that NOTHING existed before the big bang. I simply stated that if there is nothing then there is also no cause required to produce the matter required for the big bang. That is why I reasoned that there would then have to be a creator involved.
    “So you think it makes sense to jump to the supernatural just to explain something you can’t understand?”
    You got a better suggestion? I’d like to hear it. To me it makes sense that if there is nothing to start with, matter cannot appear. If that is so, you need a creator.
    “Since we only have one universe, it is not possible to know what the odds are that those constants would turn out the way they are.”
    You are correct. We have only one universe. What are the odds that all the constants were correct with one try? No less an authority than Stephen Hawking has said: The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the Big Bang are enormous. I think there are clearly religious implications. OK, here are some odds when it comes to the gravitational constant. According to Hawking, “If the rate of expansion one second after the big bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, it would have recollapsed before it reached its present size. Conversely, if this expansion were smaller, the dust from the big bang would just have continued to expand, never coalescing into galaxies, star, planets, or us. Our luck didn’t stop there. Gravity is one of four fundamental forces in the universe. If a strong nuclear force were just a little weaker, no elements other than hydrogen would have been formed following the big bang. If it were just a little stronger, all of the hydrogen in the universe would be gone by now, converted into helium and heavier elements. Without hydrogen, no sun, no stars, no water. If another fundamental force, electromagnetism, were just a little stronger, electrons would be so tightly bound to toms that the formation of chemical compounds would be impossible. A little weaker, and atoms would disintegrate at room temperature. If the resonance level of electrons in the carbon atom were just four percent lower, carbon atoms themselves would never have formed in the interiors of stars. No carbon, no life as we understand it.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    AJ,
    My logic is not laced with logical fallacies and spurious claims. Give me a better explanation then, if you can. I don’t think you can. You are just simply so against the possibility of a creator that you close your mind off to all my reasoned logic. BTW, check out my last comment to Miketheinfidel. I quote Hawkings who stated that if the rate of expansion one second after the big bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million it would hav recollapsed before it reachedits present size. Conversely if it were greater, the dust from the big bang would just have continued to expand, never coalescing into galaxies, stars, planets, or us.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    miketheinfidel,
    “I’ve noticed that people who tend to use fallacies the most also tend to insist that their arguments are logical…’

    If my arguement is fallacious, then how about giving a real rebuttal instead of making spurious comments that are meaningless. I’m still waiting for your logical expanation how something appeared from nothing and how all the forces overcame very narrow ranges needed for us to exist.

  • SpencerDub

    Wayne, people have already demonstrated that an argument from ignorance is a logical fallacy. If the logic is fallacious, then the conclusion you’ve drawn doesn’t stand.

    Please note that the “ignorance” referred to in the argument from ignorance is not a slight. It simply means that the form of your argument is “I personally can’t understand X, therefore Y.”

    What’s more, ignorance is nothing to be ashamed of. It means there’s something you don’t know, but it doesn’t mean you can’t know it. Science admits its ignorance all the time– and then scientists go and try to fill in that gap in their knowledge based on the evidence and their tests of that evidence. Ignorance by itself is nothing shameful— however, willful ignorance is another beast entirely.

    At any rate, I’ve composed a reply and posted it in the forums over yonder. I’d appreciate it if you’d take the time to read it carefully and consider it. This discussion is starting to feel a little hostile, and it needn’t– high emotions will hamper our ability to have a reasoned, rational discussion.

    Cheers.

  • Deepak Shetty

    @wayne

    I’m still waiting for your logical expanation how something appeared from nothing

    I believe Asimov used this to differentiate between a rationalist and others. A rationalist is quite ok saying “I don’t know”. You seem to be implying that no other current explanation means that your theory must be valid or logical. A creator does not automatically follow given a universe, hence your theory does not logically follow.

    and how all the forces overcame very narrow ranges needed for us to exist.

    You might as well say how the environment is so suited to the animals.

  • Aj

    Wayne Dunlap,

    Can you limit the crap down to a minimum. I’m not going to refute assertions about my motivations for disagreeing with you. I’m not going to defend my comments on the basis that it offends you, deal with it. If you want a healthy discussion perhaps you should stop that, and stop repeating the same logical fallacies, and the same misrepresentations of the Big Bang theory.

    No, I’m not listing oxymorons. I got this from Steven Hawking. Do you think he is listing oxmorons?

    That’s an argument from authority, another logical fallacy. I haven’t heard him use that phrase, and if he did, then he was using an oxymoron. Stephen Hawking does believe the universe spontaneously popped into existence, but admits he cannot prove this yet, it’s just speculation. Stephen Hawking made a great point though, he said that it makes no sense to ask for a point south of the south pole, so it makes no sense to talk about something before the beginning, prior to the Big Bang. If you state something like “prior to time”, you don’t understand the Big Bang theory or time.

    Give me a better explanation then, if you can.

    That’s an argument from ignorance, please look it up. I freely admit I do not know. This doesn’t make your argument any less fallacious. Even if I believed in some other theory, your argument would still be fallacious. The reason for this is, your argument is fallacious.

    You state that the Big Bang states nothing about matter appearing from nothing. I beg to differ with you. It does.

    The Big Bang theory is the theory that the universe expanded from an initial dense condition. There are multiple speculative ideas about the early universe, but not all of them suggest matter coming from nothing. You can subscribe to the Big Bang theory, that the universe expanded, without believing matter came from nothing. Current theory doesn’t come to that point, as the current state of knowledge doesn’t support any of these ideas, and the current physical laws break down.

    No, I don’t know why they are the way they are, all I know is that if a creator did not control these parameters, then odds are that at least one of them would have been too high or low and life could not exist.

    It’s an argument from ignorance since these constants didn’t have to be produced at random. Just because you can’t think of any other possibilities, that doesn’t give support to your preferred hypothesis. If you don’t know the process, you can’t calculate the odds. It’s also uses a false dilemma logical fallacy to set the argument up, you can either have a creator, or the constants had to be completely random.

  • Dream Theater

    Lost in the sky
    Clouds roll by and I roll with them
    Arrows fly
    Seas increase and then fall again

    This world is spinning around me
    This world is spinning without me
    Every day sends future to past
    Every breath leaves me one less to my last

    Watch the sparrow falling
    Gives new meaning to it all
    If not today nor yet tomorrow then some other day

  • Vas

    You know what bugs me is that a great many atheists seem to think winning a debate is the same as being correct. It’s not. You can out smart, out debate, or outwit someone and still be dead wrong.

    The common refrain of, “that’s an ad hominem attack”, which is not always a logical fallacy and sometimes even if it is, is still perfectly acceptable. Sometimes a good old fashion “you’re a asshole” is just what the doctor ordered. (Richard Wade thanks for the “fuck you” upthread.)

    The assumption that if someone disagrees with you they are uninformed as in, “You don’t know what you’re talking about, why don’t you do some research before you open your big mouth” this assumes facts not in evidence, you don’t know what other people have studied or ignored. This usually happens when people confuse facts with opinions, or when people are just willful assholes.

    The following doesn’t really bug me but… I wish all atheists were nihilists. I mean everything is all fucked up, everything, we are all headed to the same end and it’s coming up quick, everything everyone has ever thought is pointless and useless, the whole “big show” doesn’t matter at all. People put a lifetime of effort into stuff that in the end makes no difference and we all end up the same dead. The whole ball of wax is fizzling out in a big old entropic collapse. Have a nice day.

  • You can choose to be a nihilist. I’ll choose to enjoy my life and not care if it has an ultimate meaning.

  • Vas

    Hey easy there buckaroo, just because I think it’s all useless, stupid, and futile it does not mean I don’t enjoy shit. Why do people assume that meaninglessness is a bummer, I find it quite liberating. Mike,you don’t know what you’re talking about, why don’t you do some research before you open your big mouth. Also you are a big and funny looking giant with a oversize pumpkin… or Hemant is oddly tiny, either way it makes you wrong!

    See I enjoyed that.

  • And your name is the first half of a scientific term referring to part of the penis, so NYEH! 😛

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Hoverfrog,
    Thanks for the interesting article by Steven Hawking, unfortunately, I could not find anything explaining how the universe began. Here is a very interesting thesis on how the universe came from nothing.
    http://www.thekeyboard.org.uk/Where%20universe%20from.htm
    Essentially, this guy states that there are 3 possibilities. 1. it came from nothing, but he throws that out because you cannot get a universe from nothing. 2. Since you can’t get a universe from nothing, you would need a God who always existed, pretty much like I said only I called it a creator. Like you, he doesn’t like this alternative, so he goes with 3. The universe always exited. I believe Hawking believes that there once was nothing. If so, that would leave 2. A creator that always existed.
    Yes, if there is nothing, there is not time either. How does matter and time appear from nothing? Again, appears that you need that creator who always existed, unless…………. the guy above is correct and the universe always existed. That creates a problem though, since evidence indicates that the universe is expanding and, therefore, once was a compacted matter. Perhaps this matter always existed.
    OK, I am willing to admit that though it appears that a creator was necessary to create our present universe because of the extremes odds against constants of 4 forces being within an extremely narrow range by chance, science may one day figure out how it could have happened without the need for a creator. I am simply giving this as my hypothesis, but perhaps there is another answer.
    Miller doesn’t provide direct evidence that a creator set up evolution. He simply gives the Anthropic Principle as indications that a creator is necessary because the universe appears set up for life since the constants have to be so precise, there is very little chance that it could have happened by chance. Based on this assumption that a creator exists and the fact evolution exists, Miller must assume that this creator must have set up evolution as a clever way of not having to constantly fine tune his creation.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    MikeTheInfidel, SpencerrDub, Deepak Shetty,
    AJ, I been away most of the day, I will try to answer your comments as soon as I can.

    AJ, you did not offend me. I am not one of those thin skinned creationists who quotes the Bible and then gets upset because he feels his sacred cow has been gored. I’ve had discussions with these people and it is quite frustrating when they get all bent out of shape. BTW, you appear to be the one who is thin skinned by asking me to limit the crap. Sorry, but I do not feel I am providing crap and don’t appreciate your insinuation that I am. If you feel that I am going after your comments, it is because I don’t agree with them, plain and simple. You are the one who needs to “deal with it”.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Thanks for the interesting article by Steven Hawking, unfortunately, I could not find anything explaining how the universe began.

    Of course not. Nobody knows how the universe began. Al we have is a good idea of events shortly after it began.

    1. it came from nothing, but he throws that out because you cannot get a universe from nothing.

    Why not? You don’t know that.

    2. Since you can’t get a universe from nothing, you would need a God who always existed, pretty much like I said only I called it a creator.

    That’s just lazy. Can’t think of an answer: call it gods. Surely it is better to admit that you don’t know the answer.

    3. The universe always exited. I believe Hawking believes that there once was nothing. If so, that would leave 2. A creator that always existed.

    The evidence doesn’t support this. The evidence suggests that the universe had a beginning.

    Yes, if there is nothing, there is not time either. How does matter and time appear from nothing?

    I asked Professor Brian Cox this question a few months ago. He said that we don’t know. Nobody knows. He’s a smart bloke who specializes in this kind of stuff. I’m inclined to believe him.

    Again, appears that you need that creator who always existed, unless…………. the guy above is correct and the universe always existed. That creates a problem though, since evidence indicates that the universe is expanding and, therefore, once was a compacted matter. Perhaps this matter always existed.

    You do understand that the early universe contained no matter at all don’t you? Matter formed when the quark-gluon plasma (whatever that is) cools to form Hadrons including baryons such as protons and neutrons which then formed hydrogen isotopes and the first matter was born.

    The Big Bang is something of a misnomer. Rapid inflation would be more accurate. There was nothing to go bang when the Big Bang occurred.

    OK, I am willing to admit that though it appears that a creator was necessary to create our present universe because of the extremes odds against constants of 4 forces being within an extremely narrow range by chance, science may one day figure out how it could have happened without the need for a creator. I am simply giving this as my hypothesis, but perhaps there is another answer.

    I’m sure there is. A creator isn’t an answer by the way. Its a cop out that says “We don’t know the answer so we’re going to invent one and call it a god”. If you think that a creator deity provides an adequate answer to the beginning of the universe then let me know what questions it answers because I can’t see how inserting a god helps explain anything.

    Also in the very early universe it is theorized that the very fundamental forces that you hold in such high esteem were all the same strength and possibly even a single unified force. Its all very theoretical of course and way over my head but that’s what the experts say and I’m inclined to believe them.

    Now think about what this means for the Anthropic Principle. It is not outside the bounds of possibility that the Big Bang occurred many times, expanding and contracting as the fundamental forces were indeed randomly jiggled. It is only when they reached a fortunate (statistically likely though) combination suited to continual expansion of the universe that we see the universe form as the evidence demonstrates. Of course that might be as much nonsense as gods making the universe because there is also no way to tell if things happened like that or not. It is interesting to speculate but we can’t go any further than that because we really don’t know.

    Miller doesn’t provide direct evidence that a creator set up evolution.

    This is because there isn’t any.

    He simply gives the Anthropic Principle as indications that a creator is necessary because the universe appears set up for life since the constants have to be so precise, there is very little chance that it could have happened by chance.

    One of the things I love about evolution as a science is that it demonstrates beautifully that unlikely things happen all the time and often have significant impact on how things change. The chances of an asteroid hitting the planet and wiping out most of the life on it are tiny but apparently it has happened in the past. Besides which it really is worth pointing out again that we don’t know what the universe would be like if one of these constants were slightly different. If the gravitational constant were just a bit bigger then the universe might exist but in a fundamentally different form. Life may still have evolved in this different universe and life forms might well ponder how there slightly different constants appear to be made just for life to appear. We don’t know.

    Given that we don’t know isn’t it vitally important that we don’t make unfounded assumptions about the universe just to make ourselves feel a bit more comfortable.

    Based on this assumption that a creator exists and the fact evolution exists, Miller must assume that this creator must have set up evolution as a clever way of not having to constantly fine tune his creation.

    I’m glad that you stated the assumptions because it is important to note that they are assumptions. More important I feel is that the assumptions have no basis in evidence. You may as well postulate a time travelling pixie with a Big Bang ray gun who went back and started the universe. It has exactly the same amount of evidence going for it.

    I know that comparing your idea of a creator to a time travelling pixie is facetious and I know that some posters find this thing a bit irritating but then I find it irritating when people make claims that they can’t back up with evidence. You don’t know what caused the Big Bang. I don’t know. Nobody knows. We’re mired in ignorance on this particular question. We don’t make claims out of ignorance.

    There is probably a genuine religion somewhere that claims that the creator formed the universe by destroying itself. Scott Adams wrote a short book about that. Its an interesting mental exercise but we don’t mistake that for the truth, do we?

  • Atheists that hold onto one or two unsubstantiated religious beliefs, like reincarnation, astrology, or quantum mysticism but get angry when that belief gets questioned.

  • Vas

    Mike the Infidel said…
    “And your name is the first half of a scientific term referring to part of the penis, so NYEH! :P”
    I repeat, Mike,you don’t know what you’re talking about, why don’t you do some research before you open your big mouth! You seem to be referring to the Vas deferens which is NOT part of a penis, rather it is more closely related to testicles and loops around the bladder terminating well before the penis. While it seems clear that you are inferring I am a dick the fact of the matter is that I’m not, rather I’m pretty close to nuts. Game, set, match

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Hoverfrog,
    I agree that nobody knows how the universe began. So how can we be certain that a creator wasn’t involved? Copout? I’m not so sure you can automatically say that if you can logically show that it could be necessary.
    You state that I can’t know that you can’t get a universe from nothing. Seems to make sense that you can’t since, in order to get a universe, you need a cause. When you have nothing, there cannot be a cause.
    If you can’t get a universe from nothing, since there is no cause available from nothing, wouldn’t it make sense that you would then require a super natural being? Why would it be lazy to assume that? If you have nothing, and, therefore, it would seem no cause available, what answer do you have left? A super natural being seems logical.
    I agree with Brian Cox that nobody knows how the universe started, which leaves room for speculation.
    Not familiar with the belief matter formed when quark-gluon plasma cools to form Hadrons. I do know that supposedly there was nothing first. Yes I have read that the Big Bang was really a rapid inflation, but if that is true, how else could that occur, except from an explosion? Also, supposedly there was no space until this expansion began, sort of like a balloon expanding.
    In one breath you state that a creator isn’t an answer, but then you admit that we don’t know the answer. You then go on to say you have to invent one, God. I prefer to state that if there appears to be no other answer, then a creator may be a reasonable explanation. Yes, there have been other instances where a creator was invoked only to have science to come up with an alternative answer, so I am willing to admit that that could end up happening with my creator hypothesis as well. That is why I am an agnostic first, then a theist. BTW, I just started reading Jerry Coyne’s book Why Evolution is True.
    Speculation on the constants being all the same does seem like me speculating there was a creator involved. BTW, I have considered that the big bang occurred sever times. If the gravitational force had been too weak, what then? The universe couldn’t have collapsed back upon itself. I don’t know, this seems even more remarkable than a creator. ?
    Yes evolution may show how unlikely things happen so long as there was not creator who established it in the first place. Even so, evolution involves organic beings. When you consider the anthropic principle and the formation of the universe, you are looking at inorganic.
    You suggest that given that we don’t know, isn’t it vitally important that we don’t make assumptions about the universe just to make ourselves feel a bit more comfortable. I know there are those who do that, but in my case, I was raised a Christian and have since determined that it is man-made. This could eliminate the possibility of continuance of life after death, but I’d rather know the truth than living a lie. As far as the universe goes, since no one knows how it started, it doesn’t stop me from wanting to use logic in an attempt to figure out how it started. Now, as far as religion goes, when a friend used Paley’s Wager that if he follows the Christian religion and he is right, he will go to heaven and me to hell. I countered that there is a fallacy. What if he is following the wrong religion? No, I have no concerns that I will go to Hell for not believing a man-made religion, which I have found much evidence is such. Perhaps it will make him feel good knowing he will go to heaven and not to hell. Me, while he is sitting in Church on a beautiful day, I am out biking or hiking instead of wasting the better part of a beautiful Sunday. There are so many religions and differences within those religions. You would think that a God who created the universe, would get it right if he really wanted to be worshipped. If a creator exists, I doubt he cares about being worshipped or sticking to certain rules. If he did I’m sure he would have got that across. As far as trying to logically figure out how the universe started goes, I find it intellectually stimulating. So, why not? Sure I could be wrong. Unfortunately, I get the feeling that we will never be able to find out how the universe began. And whether or not there is a continuance of consciousness after death, why worry about it. If there is, you will know soon enough. If not, won’t matter since you will be dead.
    I prefer the belief in the African God who vomited out parts of the universe. Make sense to me. ?

  • p.s.

    wayne dunlap:

    you are free to believe whatever you want to believe, but please don’t pretend your *faith* is based off of some great logical discovery. as many have pointed out, your arguments are filled with logical fallacies. As to your argument of science investigating the supernatural: what exactly is the supernatural? science can investigate time, space, biology, physics, electricity, magnetism, chemistry, brains, behavior, atoms, molecules, even the shape of the universe, so clearly the supernatural must exist outside of all that. if it exists outside of what is listed above, how can it have any impact on anything within the universe? If there is no impact on the universe, how can you claim it exists?

    and incidentally, i don’t see the fairy thing as an insult to theists. other atheists are just saying they dont believe in fairies for the same reason they don’t believe in god. how do you know fairies didn’t create the universe? sounds like you were being pretty insulting to all the fairy believers out there. ;p

  • p.s.

    Wayne:
    to your last post:
    expansion != explosion.
    if you blow up a ballon, are you causing an explosion? its an issue of semantics, but with these kinds of arguments we should be careful with our words.

    also, there are theories about what happened before the big bang that don’t require a creator:
    http://www.tomcoyner.com/before_the_big_bang_there_was__.htm

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Miketheinfidel,
    “Sorry, Wayne, but in the absence of a scientific answer, you are not automatically right, nor is jumping to the supernatural justified.

    We have no evidence that the supernatural actually exists. To say that science can’t investigate the supernatural is to assert that it does exist, and that we know something about it.”

    Never suggested that I was automatically right. When there is no other logical answer, why wouldn’t turning to supernatural being not be justified?

    If you don’t believe that matter came from nothing, then you must believe that matter always existed. Hawking believes that in the beginning there was nothing. I would tend to go with his explanation.

    What I was saying is that, if there is a creator, science would not be able to investigate whether or not this is true, because science can only investigate material things, not supernatural beings.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Miketheinfidel,
    You say that a creator outside of space and time does notmake it a logical explanation.

    What explanation would make more sense? That matter appeared from nothing all by itself. Perhaps, that matter always existed, but Hawking would disagree.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    SpencerDub,
    What choice do we have but to attempt to use logic as to how the universe came about from nothing? We have no choice but to use logic reasoning. True, we don’t know and don’t have evidence to prove our reasoning, but that is no reason why we shouldn’t at least attempt this reasoning.

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Wayne

    if there appears to be no other answer, then a creator may be a reasonable explanation.

    Perhaps , but it isn’t logical(which was your initial assertion). The other bit to note is that it is as reasonable as any other indeterminate answer. Why a God? Why not Gods? or Goddess? or Aliens from another universe? The other problem is probability. It is reasonable to assume that the probability of an uncreated super natural being capable of creating a universe is lesser than that of an unexplained universe.

    Secondly you classify yourself as an Agnostic first, theist second. All your explanations point to being a deist (you base your belief on the creation of the universe only). If you wish to classify yourself as theist, you must also believe that the God you believe in can (and does) interfere with the natural world (talk to people , respond to prayers , suspend natural laws or combinations thereof)

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Deepak Shetty,
    Truth be told, no one knows how the universe came from nothing or how the constants for the 4 forces just happened to come out within the required close tolerance to support life, but it did. I can see no reason why someone cannot at least attempt to speculate on how it came about through logic reasoning. But let me make it clear that I don’t stand on my statement as absolute truth. It’s not, but it is the best I can come up with based on what I see. Perhaps science one day will figure out or not.

  • p.s.

    wayne:
    but you claim do have a logical proof for good. speculation is not a logical proof.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    ps,
    My reasoning is based on logic as I see it. Faith has nothing to do with it. No one knows how the universe began. Many state that in the beginnig there was nothing. If there is nothing, there cannot be a cause. Therefore, the only viable answer that appears valid is that there had to a be a supernatural force as that cause. I fail to see the falacy in that. You state that a supernatural force outside of space and time cannot have a influence. How can you be so sure if we cannot know anything about this supernatural force?

  • Wayne Dunlap

    ps,
    in order to speculate, you have to use logic reasoning.

  • p.s.

    that is the definition of a logical fallacy:
    http://www.fallacyfiles.org/ignorant.html

    and I believe I posted a link earlier that provided a few possible explanations of how the universe came to be without a god, so obviously it is not the only viable answer.

    what evidence do you have of a supernatural force acting within space and time? what is outside of space and time? why does “outside of space and time” have to be supernatural? by out side of space and time do you mean from a higher dimension? science can investigate that (see M-theory) and says nothing about the supernatural. Why can’t we know anything about the supernatural, if it exists? speculation is fine, but it is not necessarily logical, and it is certainly not a proof

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Deepak Shetty,
    Fine, creators. As far as probability goes, how probable is it that the universe came from nothing all by itself?

    I classifiy myself as an agnostic/theist because I believe that the creator has to, from time to time, get involved in the universe to make adjustments.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Aj,
    When I tried to pin you down for your belief in how the universe started, you merely said you didn’t know. From that statement, I find it interesting that you can then say in the same breath that my hypothesis is falacious even though you admitted to not knowing how it happened.

  • Aj

    Wayne Dunlap,

    When there is no other logical answer, why wouldn’t turning to supernatural being not be justified?

    a) Because you’ve been told multiple times by multiple people there are other answers.

    b) Humans don’t have unlimited intelligence and imagination to contemplate all possible answers.

    c) To justify something you have to reason for it, that’s what it means, not assert ignorance of other answers.

    When I tried to pin you down for your belief in how the universe started, you merely said you didn’t know. From that statement, I find it interesting that you can then say in the same breath that my hypothesis is falacious even though you admitted to not knowing how it happened.

    I don’t see how my not knowing and your inability to make logical arguments are connected. I don’t need an alternate hypothesis to see that yours uses logical fallacies.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    p.s.,
    you are right, I missed your link but checked it out now. I have heard Quantum Mechanics as a suggestion before, but the problem is that when nothing exists it appears that Quantum Mechanics could not exist either. Also, the speculation of laws being present before the universe came about smacks of a creator since there cannot be laws present when there is nothing.
    I’m afraid that I cannot determine what out of space and time exactly means or where a creator would exist. But if there is not space and time then that seems like a way of describing it.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Aj,
    I have not been told mutltiple times by multiple people there are other answers. What I have been told is that no one knows. I admit that I don’t know, but that is no reason why I cannot make a logical guess based on what I know.

  • p.s.

    wayne,
    you keep assuming that there is nothing, but you aren’t really defining the term very well. if you are defining it as no matter or energy, please say so. if you are defining it as a universe without dimensions, then that is not the commonly accepted theory among physicists. since it seems you did not read my link (or the links given to you by others) very thoroughly, here is a quick overview of one of the many theories. (as i understand it, although i am not a physicist. if someone versed on the subject can correct my it would be much appreciated)

    our universe exists on something called a brane. these branes are nebulous and sort of wobble in and out of existence within the multiverse. sometimes 2 branes collide. sometimes ,this can cause something like the big bang, which can expand into a universe. the existence of the multiverse and the branes is explained by string theory and yes, quantum mechanics.
    your concept of the universe and what is possible “outside” of the universe seems somewhat limited. not space and time… again, that describes higher dimensions. science can investigate that, and there is no creator necessary.

    oh! look! i think i found your exact argument, and its explained by physicists! with pictures and everything! it is very helpful.
    an important quote: “Even if we don’t have a precise idea of exactly what took place at the beginning, we can at least see that the origin of the universe from nothing need not be unlawful or unnatural or unscientific.”
    http://www.whyevolution.com/nothing.html

    notice that no one is claiming this as fact, but they are using evidence from the observable universe to create a hypothesis about the creation of the universe. you have no evidence for a creator. I think I will go where the evidence takes me.

    you are not making logical guesses. you are using logical fallacies to justify your faith (i showed you a link detailing your most used fallacy). faith is fine i suppose, but it is not logical.

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Wayne
    Yes I get that you are an agnostic in the sense that you don’t know but you believe and atleast I am not making any arguments about those matters.

    Truth be told, no one knows how the universe came from nothing or how the constants for the 4 forces just happened to come out within the required close tolerance to support life

    The first part of the statement is accurate. The second part is not. We don’t know if the 4 forces can vary independently, we don’t know if carbon based replicating life forms are the only forms possible in this universe , much less if they are the only way life can form in a universe which has different values for the constants.

    As far as probability goes, how probable is it that the universe came from nothing all by itself?

    Again we dont know if it came out of nothing and even if it did , we dont know the probability. And I recollect reading something about matter coming out of nothing has been observed (some post by Steve Zara on Richarddawkins.net , too lazy to trace) but I may be wrong.
    The probability may indeed be very very very low but your hypothesis is that something did come out of nothing (God or always existed), and not only that , it has intent and capabilities , is a super duper scientist, which , again to me , by necessity, must be of lower probability than the existence of the universe.

    Finally recognise that your arguments are extremely similar to creationists (not in itself a logical rebuttal , but something to think about) – Design without a designer,fine tuning, life from no life.

    You say creators so are you an agnostic polytheist now :)?
    You say the creator makes adjustments to the universe. Now thats a pretty strong claim and you will have to show how your logic/reasoning leads you to this.

  • Wayne:

    You are correct. We have only one universe. What are the odds that all the constants were correct with one try? No less an authority than Stephen Hawking has said: The odds against a universe like ours emerging out of something like the Big Bang are enormous.

    You’ll notice that he said it emerged from the Big Bang… not from nothing? The odds that the constants are what they are on the first try is 100%. We don’t even know if they COULD be anything else. Your gambler’s fallacy is wedged firmly in place. Also… why do you think that quoting a scientist’s speculation is evidence that your position is logical?

    What I was saying is that, if there is a creator, science would not be able to investigate whether or not this is true, because science can only investigate material things, not supernatural beings.

    Please provide justification for the claim that the supernatural actually exists.

    When I tried to pin you down for your belief in how the universe started, you merely said you didn’t know. From that statement, I find it interesting that you can then say in the same breath that my hypothesis is falacious even though you admitted to not knowing how it happened.

    The point is that you shouldn’t be trying to pin anyone down. It does not matter what you or I or anyone else believe. What matters is what the evidence shows. The answer is simple: WE DON’T KNOW. You aren’t justified to claim that ANY speculation is LOGICAL. Your argument is fallacious because you’re saying that since nobody has come up with an answer, you’re justified in saying that your answer is more likely. You have absolutely zero evidence for your answer, so to say that it’s more likely is nonsense!

    If my arguement is fallacious, then how about giving a real rebuttal instead of making spurious comments that are meaningless.

    I’ve done that repeatedly but you managed to avoid actually replying to anything I’ve said. You’ve yet to answer:

    1. Why you claim knowledge that the supernatural can’t be investigated by science, when there’s no reason to even believe the supernatural exists
    2. How your “logical explanation” is different from what I predicted you’d say – that “we have no answer, thus a creator exists”
    3. Why you think that universes must be caused
    4. How you can claim to know what the odds are for the fundamental constants to be what they are, despite only having a single data point and thus a ‘1’ in the denominator
    5. What evidence we have that makes a conceptual god somehow different from a conceptual fairy
    6. Why a creator is required to set the universal constants in a way that leads to life, but not in a way that leads to a lifeless universe
    7. Why your incredulity at the idea of a self-generating universe means it couldn’t be true
    8. What the difference is between “magic” and “an undetectable, uninvestigable, supernatural being that exists outside space and time and requires no further explanation”
    9. How postulating the existence of a supernatural being “adds to the discussion” or provides any explanatory power

    I’m still waiting for your logical expanation how something appeared from nothing and how all the forces overcame very narrow ranges needed for us to exist.

    Never suggested that I was automatically right. When there is no other logical answer, why wouldn’t turning to supernatural being not be justified?

    Thank you for contradicting yourself, Wayne. You’re saying that if we can’t give you an answer, your answer is the logical one. Sorry! That isn’t how reality works.

    Let me make it clear that I don’t stand on my statement as absolute truth. It’s not, but it is the best I can come up with based on what I see.

    And that’s all it is, because it sure ain’t logic.

    You state that a supernatural force outside of space and time cannot have a influence. How can you be so sure if we cannot know anything about this supernatural force?

    Wanna tell me how something that isn’t in space can affect things inside space without coming into space? Ditto for time? Cause and effect is a temporal phenomenon. With no time, there is neither cause nor effect. An atemporal being could not cause anything or be affected by anything. And if you say “well, it’s supernatural, so it could,” that’s an immense cop-out, because you’re literally invoking magic at that point. You’re using “supernatural” as a substitute for “able to do anything, even violate the laws of nature,” which is synonymous with magic.

    As far as probability goes, how probable is it that the universe came from nothing all by itself?

    We do not have any evidence that could possibly lead to an answer to this question. Unless we can observe several universes, some of which are known to have been caused by supernatural beings, these odds cannot be calculated. And if it were known that they were caused by supernatural beings… well, there goes the whole idea of science not being able to investigate the supernatural!

    Also, the speculation of laws being present before the universe came about smacks of a creator since there cannot be laws present when there is nothing.

    In other words, “nothing can exist before the universe… except for the special magical exception that I call a creator.” This is the special pleading fallacy:

    Rule: Xs are generally Ys.
    x is an X.
    x is an exception to the rule because it is I (where I is an irrelevant characteristic).
    Therefore, x is not a Y.

    Your case:

    Rule: Beings generally exist only after the universe began.
    A creator is a being.
    A creator is an exception to the rule because it is supernatural. (where ‘supernatural’ is utterly undefined)
    Therefore, the creator did not exist only after the universe began.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    p.s.,
    When I referred to nothing, I meant no space, no energy, no time, nothing.

    “oh! look! i think i found your exact argument, and its explained by physicists! with pictures and everything! it is very helpful.
    an important quote: “Even if we don’t have a precise idea of exactly what took place at the beginning, we can at least see that the origin of the universe from nothing need not be unlawful or unnatural or unscientific.”

    COOL!!!! Finally, an alternative possibility presenting how something came from nothing. Thank you!!! That’s is what I have been looking for. Funny though, Quantum Theory is wild stuff. It seems to be even wilder than the suggestion that a creator did it. 🙂 I’ve read part of the article and plan to read the rest. Very interesing.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    p.s.,
    I especially like the following statement from the web site you found http://www.whyevolution.com/nothing.html

    Something from Nothing, our Universe?
    “Don’t imagine outer space without matter in it. Imagine no space at all and no matter at all. … To the average person it might seem obvious that nothing can happen in nothing. But to a quantum physicist, nothing is, in fact, something. …
    Quantum theory also holds that a vacuum, like atoms, is subject to quantum uncertainties. This means that things can materialize out of the vacuum, although they tend to vanish back into it quickly…. this phenomenon has never been observed directly.”…
    PROBLEM! If nothing is something, it would seem to logically follow that there is NO nothing, there is only something!
    Well, problem solved, the reason we can’t get something from nothing is because there never was a nothing, there has always been only something!
    But, what was the nature of the something that preceded our universe,
    that we mistakenly thought was nothing?
    Maybe we should do further research!

  • But, what was the nature of the something that preceded our universe,
    that we mistakenly thought was nothing?
    Maybe we should do further research!

    Yes. We should. And we shouldn’t think that it’s logical to jump to the supernatural in lieu of an answer.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Deepak Shetty,
    “We don’t know if the 4 forces can vary independently, we don’t know if carbon based replicating life forms are the only forms possible in this universe , much less if they are the only way life can form in a universe which has different values for the constants. “

    These are 4 separate forces. It makes sense that they would have to vary independently. You state that other life could form with different constant. You are ignoring the fact that gravitational constant too strong and the universe would shortly collapse, too weak and it would fly apart and nothing could form. Strong nuclear force that is too strong and no compounds could form, too weak and an atom would fly apart at room temperature. I.E, nothing could form so there could be no life period.

    A number of key physicists claim it did come from nothing. But, I suppose they could be wrong.

    Sure, now you are going to low ball me by saying my argument is similar to a creationist. Not so. Creationists base their argument on the Bible which my research has convinced me was man-made, not God inspired. I am using reason not Biblical text.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Mikethinfidel,
    I already gave you statement from Steven Hawking that if gravity constant varied by just one thousand million million, the universe could not exist.
    You ask for justification for the claim that a supernatural actually exists. I already have. I stated that since something cannot be made from nothing, you have no cause, therefore you need a supernatural being. Show me your evidence that my argument is fallacious.
    Listen, if you are going to tell me that you, without a doub,t know that my hypothesis for a creator is wrong, then you have to give me an alternative solution. You keep telling me that you don’t know how it happened. If so, you cannot really with authority disprove my hypothesis that a creator did it.
    1. Science can only investigate material things, it cannot investigate supernatural, but that doesn’t mean that a supernatural being doesn’t exist.
    2. I have simply given you a hypothesis. There are others. Check out P.S. website. Finally somebody provided me with an alternative solution instead simply stating a supernatural being cannot exist. That is simply an argument from ignorance.
    3. A universe does not just appear without some cause. That is elementary.
    4. I have already stated that Steven Hawking stated that if the gravitation constants varied by one thousand million million, that our universe could not have been formed. That is an extremely close tolerance.
    5. That is a fallacious argument. I am stating that a supernatural force appears to be necessary. Fairies have been disproven and is really a silly argument.
    6. It appears that the universe was designed to support life because the 4 constants require such a close tolerance for life to exist. If they weren’t we wouldn’t be here discussing it.
    7. A self generating universe would require it to be organic. It is not.
    8. Magic is sleight of hand, a supernatural being is a force that genuinely creates.
    9. I have already explained that.

    I didn’t contradict myself at all. I stated that when there is no other viable answer, a supernatural one can be a possibility.

    Funny, you admit not knowing how it happened, but you expect me to explain how a supernatural being could do it outside of space and time. No can do, but that doesn’t necessarily make my argument null and void.

    The creator is not just a being, he is a supernatural being, so he could exist before the universe was created.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    “Yes. We should. And we shouldn’t think that it’s logical to jump to the supernatural in lieu of an answer.”

    Yes, finally someone came up with an alternative solution instead of simply attacking my hypothesis that a supernatural being appeared to be the only way something could come from nothing. I was begging for someone to present an alternative solution, but most everyone was too hung up on their belief there is no supernatural being even though they couldn’t prove it. Finally I got what I was looking for. THANK YOU P.S.!!!!

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Wayne

    It makes sense that they would have to vary independently.

    So you have already concluded that the search for the Grand unifying theory will result in nothing?

    You are ignoring the fact that gravitational constant too strong and the universe would shortly collapse, too weak and it would fly apart and nothing could form.

    Im assuming a. that there may be a range of values that are mutually consistent and b. That its hard to imagine a universe other than our own because of our limitations (for the same reasons that aliens look humanoid in most fiction). Why can a self replicating form not exist inside a singularity? why do self replicating forms need planets?

    A number of key physicists claim it did come from nothing.

    Read up on Quantum foam (I don’t know much but it seems to say that even in a perfect vacuum matter(and anti matter) can be created spontaneously)

    Sure, now you are going to low ball me by saying my argument is similar to a creationist.

    Ok I don’t mean offense. As an analogy if I ever find myself agreeing with Rush Limbaugh, I go and recheck what I know. I’m only pointing out to you that your views are similar to a creationists (who points to scientific evidence to argue his case, instead of the bible, and yes there are some) – Would you agree or disagree that creationists also make a similar argument for the origin of life(how can life arise from non life therefore God) that you make for the origin of the universe (how can matter arise from nothing therefore God)? Again this isn’t an accusation or a dismissal of your claims , it is an appeal to you to take another look at some things.

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Wayne
    Separate comment thread for this

    1. Science can only investigate material things, it cannot investigate supernatural

    How so? If science cannot investigate the supernatural, then no human can find out anything about the supernatural either – including whether it exists or not.

  • Wayne

    I agree that nobody knows how the universe began. So how can we be certain that a creator wasn’t involved?

    I can’t. I just think that is is wrong to make any assumptions about something that we know nothing about. If there was a creator then we know nothing about it and shouldn’t be making any claims.

    Copout? I’m not so sure you can automatically say that if you can logically show that it could be necessary.

    You haven’t though. You’ve said we don’t have an explanation for how the universe first formed so it must be a creator deity and life exist therefore the universe must have been created to sustain life. Your conclusions simply don’t follow.

    You state that I can’t know that you can’t get a universe from nothing. Seems to make sense that you can’t since, in order to get a universe, you need a cause. When you have nothing, there cannot be a cause.

    You are assuming that there was nothing to start with. We don’t know that. You’re assuming that a complete absence of anything doesn’t have some kind of causal effect at a fundamental level. I don’t know the answer and neither do you but you’re assuming a creator.

    If you can’t get a universe from nothing, since there is no cause available from nothing, wouldn’t it make sense that you would then require a super natural being? Why would it be lazy to assume that?

    No. A supernatural being is simply adding another unknown onto an existing unknown. Why can’t you just leave it at ‘unknown’ and be satisfied?

    If you have nothing, and, therefore, it would seem no cause available, what answer do you have left?

    How about “I don’t know”?

    I agree with Brian Cox that nobody knows how the universe started, which leaves room for speculation.

    Speculation but no claims.

    Not familiar with the belief matter formed when quark-gluon plasma cools to form Hadrons. I do know that supposedly there was nothing first. Yes I have read that the Big Bang was really a rapid inflation, but if that is true, how else could that occur, except from an explosion?

    What was exploding?

    In one breath you state that a creator isn’t an answer, but then you admit that we don’t know the answer. You then go on to say you have to invent one, God. I prefer to state that if there appears to be no other answer, then a creator may be a reasonable explanation.

    We don’t know the answer. You’re inventing an answer. The point being that a reasonable answer would be one based on evidence. You have none and that makes it extremely unlikely that your claim is true.

    Yes, there have been other instances where a creator was invoked only to have science to come up with an alternative answer

    Yep, every single time.

    I am willing to admit that that could end up happening with my creator hypothesis as well.

    Good for you.

    If the gravitational force had been too weak, what then? The universe couldn’t have collapsed back upon itself.

    True but we’re speculating again and gravity isn’t the only force at work.

    I don’t know, this seems even more remarkable than a creator. ?

    Given the lack of evidence for either I’d say they were equally remarkable speculations except that mine is a naturalistic explanation that doesn’t invoke a being that then in turn requires an additional level of explanation.

    Yes evolution may show how unlikely things happen so long as there was not creator who established it in the first place. Even so, evolution involves organic beings. When you consider the anthropic principle and the formation of the universe, you are looking at inorganic.

    Organic molecules exist even when there is no life. that’s just chemistry.

    Look, how does a creator add to our understanding of life? How does a creator add to our understanding of the universe?

    You suggest that given that we don’t know, isn’t it vitally important that we don’t make assumptions about the universe just to make ourselves feel a bit more comfortable. I know there are those who do that, but in my case, I was raised a Christian and have since determined that it is man-made.

    A logical conclusion.

    This could eliminate the possibility of continuance of life after death, but I’d rather know the truth than living a lie.

    As would I but I fail to see how not being a Christian would eliminate the possibility of continuance of life. If by some unknown means we humans are able to continue to exist after life then believing in a Judeo-Christian myth surely won’t make any difference one way or the other. Forgive me for being presumptive but it seems as if you are clinging to your upbringing and retaining your childhood hopes even though you’ve rejected the religious aspects of your faith.

    As far as the universe goes, since no one knows how it started, it doesn’t stop me from wanting to use logic in an attempt to figure out how it started.

    Logic is a fine tool but it is only part of the arsenal available to you.

    Now, as far as religion goes, when a friend used Paley’s Wager that if he follows the Christian religion and he is right, he will go to heaven and me to hell. I countered that there is a fallacy. What if he is following the wrong religion? No, I have no concerns that I will go to Hell for not believing a man-made religion, which I have found much evidence is such. Perhaps it will make him feel good knowing he will go to heaven and not to hell.

    Pascal’s Wager is a wonderful exercise is logic gone off track.

    You would think that a God who created the universe, would get it right if he really wanted to be worshipped.

    maybe. He might well hate the idea of being worshipped though. More speculation.

    If a creator exists, I doubt he cares about being worshipped or sticking to certain rules. If he did I’m sure he would have got that across.

    Right and given the enormous contradictions between regional faiths and even within religious mythology we really can’t assume that any of them are correct. Why then bother with them?

    As far as trying to logically figure out how the universe started goes, I find it intellectually stimulating. So, why not?

    Sure why not? However it is not a reason to base a belief on what amounts to speculation.

    whether or not there is a continuance of consciousness after death, why worry about it. If there is, you will know soon enough. If not, won’t matter since you will be dead.

    Given that only those creatures with conscious minds seems to worry isn’t the idea of a conscious afterlife cause for concern? I save myself this concern by not accepting assertions about something that we know nothing about.

    I prefer the belief in the African God who vomited out parts of the universe. Make sense to me. ?

    Or how Odin made the world from the bones of Ymir the frost giant, how the water and animals where made in a great birthing by the earth mother, or how the Flying Spaghetti Monster made the world as a joke after drinking beer. All fun until someone loses an eye.

  • Wayne, it is not an argument from ignorance to say that there is no evidence of the supernatural. All I can say is that if you don’t recognize that your posts here have been full to the brim with fallacies, there isn’t going to be any help for you.

  • p.s.

    wayne,
    I’m glad you enjoyed the article! keep researching, there are tons of theories out there! 🙂 Quantum mechanics is funny, and yes it does say that something can come out of nothing. But it is difficult to apply that sort of direct logic to its behaviors, since unless you *really* understand it, it seems to defy traditional logic. Quantum mechanics says that there is a teeny tiny chance that I will fall through this chair, but that is certainly not something i would expect. I am certainly not an expert, but if you live around a university, you should talk to some physics professors about it. new outlooks on a subject are conducive to learning 🙂

    I dont believe anyone has outright said there is no possibility that there was a creator. however, we find that claim as likely as the claim that the universe was created by some alien sneezing too hard, or the existence of fairies, or that the universe rests on turtles all the way down. to make claims like this is not a logical argument, it is speculation, which is very different. to make a logical argument, you need verifiable evidence. Science attempts to provide that, but of course there is always a limit to what we know. when we hit that limit, we see people tend to jump to conclusions about creators and the supernatural, but that is not a *logical* conclusion, as I said. I think speculation about that sort of thing is a neat exercise, but “we don’t know it isn’t possible” is never a logical reason to start believing in something.

  • Hitch

    What bugs me is that people quote general relativity and quantum mechanics as if they understand it, when it is quite clear that there is a rather major lack.

    As for Hawking and Penrose. What have they said about it? Well Hawking already in a brief history of time said how the theorem of the 70s is to be understood needs a new look. Penrose in fact recently discussed about possible views of the universe before the big bang.

    What is important to note, is that singularities in general relativity are abstract concepts. We cannot talk about them without having a unified theory with quantum mechanics, which we simply do not have.

    Same for the big bang. All theories of the very early stages of the big bang are highly speculative and it is quite clear that we do not have any clue how quantum mechanics and GR interplay when the space-time manifold becomes very dense and curvatures become very high. In fact GR is only well verified in the low-curvature regime.

    Even more the energy condition of the Hawking-Penrose signularity theorem(s) does not hold during inflation, which is well supported. So it is hard to really bring the theorem to the big bang, and in fact some theories assume that a smooth initial condition, or perhaps a boundary-less universe is hence required.

    Yet we get the kalam cosmological argument presented as if the singular big bang was a fact without question. Current state of the art largely goes against this. Same for thermodynamic arguments. Thermodynamics in GR works very differently than in Minkowsi space-time, and rather than being a theory of dispersion and decreased order, the model formation of galaxies is actually a thermodynamic one. I.e. GR + thermodynamics leads to ordering due to the nonlinearity of GR. But heat death arguments + inflation are still routinely used by apologists to tell us that there must be a moment of “creation”.

    The problem with assuming a creator simply does not lead to a very scientific approach. One can always postulate that whatever we know so far has been created by a creator, and as we know more, the creator’s construction will change.

    There is a very good chance that we will never understand everything that is in principle observable. Who knows, perhaps what we know as universe is but a small part of something even vaster, and so forth. There may be no way to tell. In fact per GR with expansion there may well be physical and observable things that we can never know because they are out of our reach.

    To postulate a creator is wishful thinking. It’s no more meaningful than believing that little elves push the grass up from under the ground.

  • p.s.

    hitch:
    hope I haven’t been bugging you 🙁
    I think part of the confusion is that *sometimes* the big bang is used to describe creation and inflation. We are fairly confidant that the universe used to be at one point incredibly dense and hot, and we have a *relatively* well-understood model of how the universe has expanded since then. what happened before the cosmic microwave background poped up is the tricky part. So part of the BB is understood, part of it isn’t and constantly changes with new physics. Confusion about terminology and what is or isn’t scientifically accepted is understandable.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Miketheinfidel,
    One thing you need to realize is that the Quantum physics hypothesis is just that. As a result, it does not nullify my hypothesis of a supernatural being. In fact the Quantum physics hypothesis that nothing is really something is even more extraordinary than a possibility of a supernatural being. So the jury is still out.

  • Hitch

    p.s. no worries. Mostly I wanted to make clear that we know much less than one often hears from creationists who use big bang or other scientific arguments in their favor.

  • p.s.

    wayne:
    sorry to interrupt your discussion with mike, but this really bothered me.
    quantum mechanics cannot be put at the same level as the supernatural. there is solid evidence for quantum events and quantum mechanics is based on scientific research. (see quantum tunneling, heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, or talk to some one who has studied physical chemistry.) your “hypothesis” about supernatural beings is not based on reality, its based on something that cannot be studied by science because it exists outside of everything. Not logical!

  • Hitch

    p.s. a good point. Not every hypothesis is scientific. Only hypothesis that are presented with mechanisms to test them, are scientific. Wayne seems to promote a hypothesis of a creator that isn’t really endowed with a proper test, hence it is rather questionable if that’s a scientific hypothesis.

    Let me postulate that there is a creator of a creator, who created the creator in a super-universe that is larger than our universe. The creator of a creator is super-super-natural and cannot be observed even if the creator could be observed.

    Let me also postulate that the reason why grass grows is because invisible elves help it grow. The elves are supernatural hence cannot ever be observed.

    Neither of these are scientific hypothesis.

  • Bo Gardiner

    I’m frustrated that more public figures that are atheist don’t come out of the closet once they’ve gotten sufficiently safe and comfortable. I understand the pressure, but we really need these folks to stand up in support of the secular community.

    I’m frustrated with public atheist figures who reveal questionable ethics. Hitchens and Maher are too valuable to us to continue their ugly wallowing in misogyny.

    Be good… no better… without god.

  • Bo Gardiner

    I’m frustrated with atheists who won’t use the label “atheist” *cough*agnostics*cough* and denigrate those who do.

    The excuse that the existence of God cannot be proven one way or another, so they’re somehow exempt from the label, is bogus:

    a) if they don’t hold a belief in God, they’re atheist. Period.

    b) God could easily prove its existence. Carl Sagan, in the book (not movie) Contact, gave a perfect example: a message in pi. Bringing the Haiti storm dead back to life and restoring Port-au-Prince, presumably with a Post-It note saying “Just kidding!”, would also do it. As would healing one… single… amputee…

    The “spiritual but not religious” crowd, who are of course unadmitted atheists, have no business denigrating atheism either.

    Spiritual might be a fine word to characterize my profound sense of connection to others and to the natural world. But SBR as a defining label begs a distasteful discussion of who is and who isn’t spiritual.

    I’m in no hurry to join the hordes touting spiritual superiority because they wear a crystal and say “om.”

  • p.s.

    bo:
    I don’t believe there is a god, but I can’t state that the nonexistence of god is an absolute fact. that technically makes me an agnostic atheist. As long as its backed by reason and logic, “I don’t know” is a valid stance.

    It bothers me when atheists claim agnostics just can’t make up there mind, or are just “washed out” atheists, since that is typically not the case. There are some groups that still believe the term atheist means absolute certainty that god does not exist. If you are a political figure who is trying to reach out to a group like that, it would be wiser to call yourself agnostic (assuming your beliefs mirrored my own) with an explanation than call yourself atheist and immediately lose a group of listeners. It sucks, but its understandable, at least until we manage to rid atheism of its many misconceptions

  • Deepak Shetty

    @p.s.

    It bothers me when atheists claim agnostics just can’t make up there mind

    Heh join the club.
    It bothers me that agnostics have to identify themselves as agnostic atheists to mollify atheists , but atheists don’t label themselves agnostic atheists (since most don’t claim to *know* either).
    And I don’t like the double label because then i’m an apathetic , ignostic, agnostic atheist as well as a secular humanist per wikipedia and that’s just too big a mouthful.

    I wish there was a separate label which merely meant ‘believes life should be lived by rules/guidelines that humans have set for themselves’ as opposed to ‘believes life should be lived by rules specified by some God’

  • Deepak Shetty

    I wish there was a separate label which merely meant ‘believes life should be lived by rules/guidelines that humans have set for themselves’ as opposed to ‘believes life should be lived by rules specified by some God’

    ‘God’ being a label for a something that humans have invented too. 😉

  • Deepak Shetty

    @hoverfrog
    Ha. i stand corrected

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Bo
    and you are a good example of the kind of person who frustrates me

    1. You don’t know (and you cant know) whether a God exists so you are an agnostic. Period.

    2. Not really. PI is already such a wonderful number- doesn’t convince me about any God. As would not a bible code (if it existed), and yes even documented evidence of an amputee regrowing a limb wouldn’t convince me (heck salamanders, starfish, lizards, crabs can regenerate limbs)

    3. Again it depends by what one means by spiritual. Sam Harris is an avowed atheist who does not denigrate atheist but still finds some meaning the term spiritual.

    Why exactly do you have a problem with the labels people choose for themselves? Are you so sure you know their reasons?
    (denigrating atheists is a different matter but don’t mix the two positions)

  • Bo Gardiner

    @p.s.

    “bo: I don’t believe there is a god, but I can’t state that the nonexistence of god is an absolute fact. ”

    I’ve never met, nor heard of, an atheist who DOES state such a thing. This has become a huge red herring that I hear far more from “agnostics” than I do theists.

    ” ‘I don’t know’ is a valid stance.”

    Yes it is, so I’m not sure why you’re addressing this to me. Undecided is fine and healthy. What I said was invalid was claiming exemption from a theist/atheist label because one considers the existence of God unprovable.

    “There are some groups that still believe the term atheist means absolute certainty that god does not exist.”

    Yes… and I consider this misconception largely perpetuated by agnostics frenziedly distancing themselves from their brethren. Most religious people I debate seem to get this.

    “If you are a political figure who is trying to reach out to a group like that, it would be wiser to call yourself agnostic…It sucks, but its understandable…”

    This is textbook for how bigotry perpetuates. “Why, I’ll just call myself white, though I do have some African blood. Or straight, though really I’m bi. Or Protestant, though my mom’s Jewish. It’s OK if I loudly point fingers at blacks, gays, and Jews, and say, “At least I’m not like THEM.” Because sure prejudice sucks, but it’s not MY fault…”

    Really, I’m sorry to be this harsh, but it’s time we acknowledge that anti-atheist bigotry is no less bigotry than any other.

  • Wayne:

    One thing you need to realize is that the Quantum physics hypothesis is just that. As a result, it does not nullify my hypothesis of a supernatural being. In fact the Quantum physics hypothesis that nothing is really something is even more extraordinary than a possibility of a supernatural being. So the jury is still out.

    The difference being, of course, that we have evidence that quantum physical events actually occur. We have no evidence of the supernatural. So no, the supernatural is not less extraordinary. We have no evidence that anything at all supernatural exists. I cannot stress this enough, because you don’t seem to be getting it.

    When you’re face with an utter lack of information, it does not solve the problem to posit the existence of a being that cannot be detected. Your position is unfalsifiable and useless. This does not mean it is wrong, but it does make it illogical.

    I’d also like to emphasize the difference between assertion and demonstration. When your response to “how do you know that science can’t investigate the supernatural” is “it just can’t,” that’s an assertion. It’s not logical; it’s just stubborn.

  • p.s.

    bo:
    how exactly are you defining agnosticism then?
    “The excuse that the existence of God cannot be proven one way or another, so they’re somehow exempt from the label, is bogus:

    a) if they don’t hold a belief in God, they’re atheist. Period.

    b) God could easily prove its existence. Carl Sagan, in the book (not movie) Contact, gave a perfect example: a message in pi. Bringing the Haiti storm dead back to life and restoring Port-au-Prince, presumably with a Post-It note saying “Just kidding!”, would also do it. As would healing one… single… amputee…”

    a: I don’t see why you can’t be on the fence about this. you claim I don’t know is a valid answer, but you seem to be attacking this position. This kind of attitude scares off alot of people moving towards atheism, and is perhaps why they choose the agnostic label.

    b: this is an argument from ignorance. “if god hasn’t proven his existence, god does not exist” is not a vallid reason to disbelieve in god. I’m sure you can come up with much better ones, why resort to fallacies?

    I am very confused. Personally, I have not met an agnostic who doesn’t have leanings towards either theism or atheism. i can understand the agnostic theists distancing themselves from atheism, since it doesn’t represent what they believe. I have met people who call themselves agnostics, but if asked they willingly discuss their leanings towards belief/non-belief. Why is that a problem?

    “This is textbook for how bigotry perpetuates. “Why, I’ll just call myself white, though I do have some African blood. Or straight, though really I’m bi. Or Protestant, though my mom’s Jewish. It’s OK if I loudly point fingers at blacks, gays, and Jews, and say, “At least I’m not like THEM.” Because sure prejudice sucks, but it’s not MY fault…””

    first of all, you have snuck in another fallacy with that slippery slope of yours. I never mentioned anything about agnostics denigrating atheists, I think that is a different issue to be discussed somewhere else. you seem to have a problem with the people causing the bigotry, not the people finding ways to live with it. I certainly do not endorse bigotry, and I am all for removing it from our society, but it does exist, as you said. Don’t blame the people trying to cope with it and remain intellectually honest at the same time.

    generally, agnostics and atheists are on the same “side”, so to speak. I don’t understand all the hate.

  • Wayne: I’d also like to respond to some of your attempts at replying to what I said.

    1. Science can only investigate material things, it cannot investigate supernatural, but that doesn’t mean that a supernatural being doesn’t exist.

    By asserting that science can only investigate material things, and thus not the supernatural, you are claiming to know that supernatural things exist and are non-material. Please demonstrate how you know this.

    3. A universe does not just appear without some cause. That is elementary.

    No, it’s not. Nobody has observed the beginning of the universe. We are utterly unable to state any such thing as you stated.

    4. I have already stated that Steven Hawking stated that if the gravitation constants varied by one thousand million million, that our universe could not have been formed. That is an extremely close tolerance.

    It’s also irrelevant, because – again – we have absolutely no way of knowing if they could vary at all.

    5. That is a fallacious argument. I am stating that a supernatural force appears to be necessary. Fairies have been disproven and is really a silly argument.

    Fairies have been disproved? Really? You know that nowhere in the universe do they exist? Or in any other universe? Or outside of time and space? You’re the one saying that the supernatural might exist, Wayne. How on earth can you possibly go on to claim that anything has been disproved? A supernatural being existing outside of space and time that created the universe… yes, that’s perfectly reasonable. But fairies? No, that’s just too supernatural!

    If you think my argument is fallacious, cite the fallacy! Arguments are not designated fallacious by decree. They actually have to commit a logical error.

    6. It appears that the universe was designed to support life because the 4 constants require such a close tolerance for life to exist. If they weren’t we wouldn’t be here discussing it.

    Look at the second word there, please: appears. We have no way whatsoever of knowing whether or not those four constants could be different. For all we know, that may be a totally moot point, because they could be immutable.

    7. A self generating universe would require it to be organic. It is not.

    But an always-existing creator wouldn’t be? Come on, you can do better than this.

    8. Magic is sleight of hand, a supernatural being is a force that genuinely creates.

    You know quite well what I meant. Don’t play word games. What’s the difference between wizardry and a supernatural creative being with no origin?

    9. I have already explained that.

    No, you haven’t. You have simply asserted that such an idea is logical and that it explains things. It doesn’t. All it does is answer an unknown with an unknown. You have increased the amount of confusion rather than reduced it.

  • Bo Gardiner

    @p.s.

    Are you in all honesty claiming to be unable to see the difference between “I don’t know… haven’t decided yet” and “One can never decide because it’s unknowable”? The latter is the primary textbook definition, and the meaning intended when the word was coined by Huxley.

    If one is undecided between atheism and theism, then one should simply say so, without twisting the concept of agnosticism to distance oneself from THOSE people.

    I’ve committed no logical fallacy because I did not use the slippery slope argument. You misunderstand… I did not mean your statement was on the slope to being bigotry-appeasing like the examples. I meant it is precisely the SAME as the others. How is it not? I’m sorry it hurts your feelings, but I will continue to “blame” this stance whenever I see it.

    As for my “hate”, I make no apologies for being angry about bigotry and its “innocent” appeasers and facilitators. Think of the thousands of young people idealistically declaring their atheism on Facebook, dreaming of public office, thinking America has no religious test.

    Yeah, we rude civil rights types are by definition full of hate. Why else wouldn’t we be sweet and understanding when our “friends” simply MUST distance themselves from us?

    Before you post another indignant defense, consider taking some time to mull the points I’m making. You may not have considered them before, and it’s important.

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Bo
    All I can see is that you are bigoted towards agnostics.

    You have some examples here of agnostics who have showed no animosity towards atheists or denigrated them.
    Your problems seems to be with people like Chris Mooney who claim to be atheists BUT [insert suitably insulting stuff towards new atheists]

    Perhaps you should provide quotes / examples of popular agnostics who have berated atheists? I’m sure I can find more examples of Atheists who berate other Atheists for their strong positions. or Atheists who berate other Atheists for not having strong positions or Accommodationist positions.

  • Bo Gardiner

    @Deepak

    “1. You don’t know (and you cant know) whether a God exists so you are an agnostic. Period.”

    Come now , don’t be silly. In no way have you succeeded in wittily turning my argument around to “prove” I’m agnostic. Your attempt entirely overlooks the whole point that these labels are about what one BELIEVES. And I believe a god would leave evidence.

    If the instant resurrection of all Haitian dead and restoration of Port-au-Prince wouldn’t prove God’s existence to you, I suggest you’re being disingenuous with yourself because you must, must, must at all costs distance yourself somehow from atheists. It’s called reducing cognitive dissonance.

    “Sam Harris is an avowed atheist who does not denigrate atheist but still finds some meaning the term spiritual.”

    You missed my point entirely. I said spiritual is a fine word, and I do indeed use it myself. I in fact get plenty of heat for my advocacy of atheist spirituality (which I consider synonymous with humanism). My frustration was with the label “Spiritual But Not Religious” to define oneself.

    Let’s look at SBR in action. “Hi, I’m Spiritual (but not religious)! Are YOU Spiritual?” “Yes! And I’m Virtuous (but not religious)! Are YOU Virtuous?”

    “Why exactly do you have a problem with the labels people choose for themselves? ”

    LOL. When did you stop beating your spouse? Congrats on missing every point I made. For those whom labels genuinely fit, fine. My stated frustration was specifically with people twisting labels less for clarity than to distance themselves from THOSE people.

    Gee, why would anyone have a problem with members of an oppressed group vigorously going around insisting why they’re not a member of THAT group, why they’re not like THOSE people? Because it keeps civil rights from progressing, that’s why.

    You may disagree with me, but do NOT try to trivialize my concern as some petty beef about nomenclature. Real people and real lives and real core human rights are at stake here.

    Edited to respond to your latest…
    “All I can see is that you are bigoted towards agnostics.”

    OK, I see dialogue is not possible here.

  • steve

    Mike the Infidel quote:
    “I wouldn’t mind being accused of being intellectually superior”

    You seem to rely on science for most of your arguments.

    Do you really understand Quantum Mechanics, William Hubble”s theories (big bang) Max Planck’s ideas or perhaps Fred Hoyle.

    I mean do you REALLY understand them, can you sit down and write all the math out? CAN YOU??? I doubt it, in which case you rely as much on faith that all these theories are true as I do in my believe in a higher creator.

    My frustration: atheist’s who rely on science when in reality virtually none of them have the brain power to understand, really understand the science they put their faith in.

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Bo

    turning my argument around to “prove” I’m agnostic.

    But you are, aren’t you?. Per everyone agnosticism is a statement about knowledge. So are you an agnostic or are you not? The tone was chosen to match your tone. If you didn’t like it, it should tell you something about yourself.

    And I believe a god would leave evidence.

    Ha ha ha. That we have no evidence for God is a perfectly reasonable position. The above not so much. What exactly makes you believe that you know what a God will or will not do? Why do you choose some fantastically thing currently not possible and say God should have done this? Why is omnipotence a feature of God ?(other than by definition?)Omnipotence is a logical paradox, I’d assume that a God , if he existed would not be omnipotent.

    I suggest you’re being disingenuous with yourself because you must, must, must at all costs distance yourself somehow from atheists.

    I debunked your other examples. I was careful not to mention resurrections of entire islands of people, and Id say that I would still not jump to conclusions.

    Secondly my point was I’d still not believe in any God were an amputee to grow a limb. Please explain to me , how that is distancing myself from atheists , when Im saying my disbelief would continue inspite of minor miracles?

    LOL. When did you stop beating your spouse?

    Fine. Do you have a problem with people who label themselves agnostics? Just that much nothing else, no insults to atheists, no beating up on new atheists etc etc. Yes or no?

    You may disagree with me, but do NOT try to trivialize my concern as some petty beef about nomenclature.

    Yes it is. Do you think a religious nut looks at an agnostic and says “he’s ok” and looks at the atheist and says “lets burn him?” The fact is agnostics have no better public standing than any other brand of non believers. However it looks like agnostics are right at the bottom because even atheists like beating up on their views. Do you think a politician who says “I do not know if God exists” will get elected any more than someone who says “I dont believe that God exists”.

    OK, I see dialogue is not possible here.

    Perhaps. You see fit to throw out accusations of bigotry and how you are a crusader for civil rights or whatever, but when the same accusation is made of you , no dialog is possible. Perhaps you should also think about this before making your accusations.

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Bo
    Had to go back to reread what you said about spiritual.I dont believe i have missed your point. here it is

    The “spiritual but not religious” crowd, who are of course unadmitted atheists, have no business denigrating atheism either.

    Sorry my experience is that these people are mostly deists. You also assume that they denigrate atheists or atheism. You don’t have a problem with the word spiritual. But you have a problem when the person adds that he explicitly rejects religious dogma , just because he doesnt also label himself as an atheist?
    You find many such people in who acknwledge some unknown higher power but aren’t religious and have no animosity towards atheists or discriminate against them. Your brush is too broad and you don’t seem to care that you tar and feather people who don’t deserve it. My experience is that a lot of the non believers who criticise atheists / atheism are atheists themselves , not agnostic , not spiritual. Do you disagree?

  • Wayne Dunlap

    p.s.
    Yes, Quantum mechanics is pretty strange. I remember watching a show about it on PBS. In the end, they stated that they doubted that it would ever be proven. I remember them saying that you might occasionally walk through a wall, but I have never heard anyone who has. Science is a great way to determine how things happen, but it isn’t the end all, be all. Even though you compare it to the boogie man, there are just some things that make a creator a likely choice. Though Quantum Mechanics could be the answer how we got something from nothing, there is no way of knowing whether or not it can exist when there is nothing. The hypothesis is interesting though that Quantum Mechanics makes nothing something. So, I am willing to accept it as a possibility, but since it is so off the wall, I cannot toss out my hypothesis for a creator so easily as you might think.
    OK, I just read your next post. I will certainly check out quantum tunneling and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principal. I’m still researching. Who knows? My hypothesis may change, but for now, I have two possibilities, quantum mechanics and supernatural being.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    p.s.
    ” I don’t believe there is a god, but I can’t state that the nonexistence of god is an absolute fact. that technically makes me an agnostic atheist. As long as its backed by reason and logic, “I don’t know” is a valid stance.”

    Forgive me for jumping in here, but thank you for stating what I have been trying to. That if you are not a strong atheist, then you are in reality an agnostic atheist. Incidentally, I would have thought that you were a strong atheist from our discussion.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Hitch,
    Since science cannot test the supernatural, I wouldn’t consider my hypothesis scientific.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Hoverfrog,
    No we cannot know anything about a creator. All I am doing is stating that, since I cannot see an alternative solution, a creator could be the solution. Explain how the universe started without a cause. How about the start of one celled creatures? Science cannot explain it. How many times can you state that, if it isn’t scientific, it cannot be valid?
    I am assuming, based on Steven Hawking and other top physicists, that there was nothing. Therefore, I am reasoning that there cannot be a cause when there is nothing. Since you need a cause, I am suggesting a creator. No, I don’t know, but it still makes sense. But, perhaps Quantum mechanics does too, but seems even more extraordinary than a creator.
    Yes, a supernatural is adding an unknown, but I don’t think it nullifies my logic.
    Your answer I don’t know to my question if you have nothing, and therefore, it would seem no cause available what answer do you have left refuses to acknowledge that a possible answer is that you would require a creator.
    If I can come up with a possible solution, why should I leave it alone as an unknown?
    Yes, a more reasonable answer would be one backed with evidence, but like you said, we don’t know so we are left to make a hypothesis. What is wrong with that? Science does it all the time.
    No, gravity isn’t the only force at work. I’ve already went through the 4 forces and explained how life could not exist without these constants being within a close tolerance.
    You ask how a creator adds to our understanding of life. I guess it indicates that a creator may have been required to start it all going.
    I stated that evolution involves organic beings which can evolve through natural selection. A universe cannot evolve like this since it isn’t a living organic being.
    How can you say that I am clinging to my upbringing when I stated that I was raised a Christian, but I now find the document false?
    Yes a being might hate being worshipped or may not care or expect to be. If he did, I would think a being who created the whole universe could get his wishes properly across.
    You state that it is not a reason to base a belief on what amounts to speculation. Why? Science does it all the time with educated guesses. Unfortunately, it is not possible to test the creator hypothesis.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Deepak Shetty,
    You said “If science cannot investigate the supernatural, then no human can find out anything about the supernatural either – including whether it exists or not.”

    That seems like a reasonable assumption. Some like Jesus, Mohamad, etc, would disagree with you, but I don’t. That said, the fact that we don’t know if a creator exists or anything about this creator is not evidence that a creator does not exist.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Miketheinfidel,
    stating that my posts are full of fallacies when you admit that you cannot explain how something came from nothing and, therefore, you can not show evidence that my hypothesis of a creator is false, makes your statement falacious.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Everyone,
    I appreciate all your well thought out comments. I will try to get to them but I was out all day and again tomorrow and have run out of time here. What I need to do is clone myself. Thank you everyone and have a good night.

  • Wayne: You’re the one making the claim – that the supernatural exists. The burden of proof is on you. Until evidence of the supernatural arises, the null hypothesis – i.e., that it doesn’t exist – has not been refuted.

    It is not my job to disprove your hypothesis and replace it with one of my own. It is your job to substantiate your claims. An absence of a claim on my part is completely unrelated to the fact that you have provided not one iota of evidence in support of your own.

    Fundamentally, there is no difference between what you’ve claimed and a creationist who believes the world is 6,000 years old. Both of your claims are unfalsifiable assertions.

    I admit that I can’t explain the origin of the universe. And so should you, rather than trumpet the victory of your pet hypothesis in the absence of another explanation.

  • Steve: There seems to be a misunderstanding here.

    When a theist takes something on faith, it’s because that’s all they can do. It isn’t possible to empirically demonstrate that their beliefs are true; if it were, faith wouldn’t be necessary.

    When an atheist takes something on what you’re calling faith, it’s actually possible to learn enough to figure out why the concepts are valid. The ideas are all based on real-world information that is available to the entire human species. We can confirm that they’re accurate.

    And despite your assumption that I probably can’t understand these things, yes, I do understand many of them. Please don’t project.

  • Oh, and by the way Wayne… you didn’t cite a fallacy; you just said my statement was fallacious. Would you mind pointing out what was fallacious about saying that it is illogical to assume a supernatural cause when the supernatural may not have more than a purely conceptual existence, and then not providing my own explanation?

  • Sorry to clutter up the last few points… but something Steve said is bugging me.

    “I mean do you REALLY understand them, can you sit down and write all the math out?”

    Steve, do you think it’s possible to understand the concept of how to throw a baseball without working out the math behind the trajectory, drag coefficients, and the like? I mean, honestly, tell me you don’t think that we have to be able to crunch the numbers to be able to have even a conceptual grasp of it!

    I can comprehend the concept of an expanding singularity or quantum vacuum fluctuations enough to carry on a conversation with a theoretical physicist. I can’t do the calculations, but that’s not even relevant. If I wanted to learn the math, I could. I have reason to be a bit less skeptical of their claims than any claim of the supernatural.

  • p.s.

    wayne,
    i feel like I am constantly repeating myself. Quantum mechanics wouldn’t be a scientific theory if there wasn’t some sort of empirical proofs. An accepted scientific theory (such as quantum mechanics, evolution, and gravity) has alot of material to back it up, some of which I cited. the supernatural theory you are clinging to does not. there is no evidence for it, there is no logical reason to think it exists.

    Another thing: you said you had 2 theories-quantum and the supernatural. a little while ago you only had one. is it so hard to believe there can’t be more?

    I really do hope you read up more on quantum mechanics-I mean really read, and not look for validation of your mostly incorrect preconceived notions on the subject. you don’t have a firm grasp by what is meant by ‘nothing’ in the quantum sense, and you think that because quantum mechanics is more “extraordinary” that a creator must exist instead. this is ludicrous. people thought that it was more extraordinary for light, as a wave, to travel through a vacuum than it was for the existence of ether, but look at which one turned out to be the truth. In fact, if you want some really crazy stuff, read about light and general relativity.

    oh, and about the creation of life?
    http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/090111-creating-life.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis

    seriously, before you make a claim that the supernatural is the only explanation, at least do a google search :/

    and of course I am an agnostic atheist, I haven’t said that its impossible that a creator exists, I just find it equally as likely that fairies do as well. There is an equal amount of evidence for both. I am not trying to attack your theism or your agnosticism, I just think there are flaws in your reasoning that you have given so far, as mentioned by myself and many others. Mike put it very well: your claims aren’t necessarily wrong, but they are illogical and not based on fact.

  • p.s.

    bo:
    “Are you in all honesty claiming to be unable to see the difference between “I don’t know… haven’t decided yet” and “One can never decide because it’s unknowable”? The latter is the primary textbook definition, and the meaning intended when the word was coined by Huxley.”

    ok, I honestly don’t see what’s wrong with either of those positions. what exactly is your point?

    “I’ve committed no logical fallacy because I did not use the slippery slope argument. You misunderstand… I did not mean your statement was on the slope to being bigotry-appeasing like the examples. I meant it is precisely the SAME as the others. How is it not? I’m sorry it hurts your feelings, but I will continue to “blame” this stance whenever I see it.”

    really? sooo if I was jewish living in 1930’s germany, by hiding the fact that I’m jewish I am just as bad as those giving up jews to the nazis. riiiggghhht…. I am not an apologist for bigotry, but I understand why someone would choose not to advertise specific beliefs. THAT IS NOT AN ENDORSEMENT OF BIGOTRY. Drop the high and mighty act.

    and what about the other logical fallacy? that pesky little argument from ignorance I mentioned earlier?

    “Before you post another indignant defense, consider taking some time to mull the points I’m making. You may not have considered them before, and it’s important.”

    Oh i have considered them. I have dealt with these kind of asinine comments before. yes I have a problem with hypocrisy (i.e. when a closet atheist decries open atheists) but that is not what we are discussing. You are making broad generalizations about agnosticism which are simply not true and somehow hinting that I sympathise with hate mongers, which yes, I will be indignent about. clearly, *you* need to read my comments a bit more carefully.

    ps to all other readers, sorry about invoking godwin’s law -.-

  • p.s.

    bo:
    also
    “agnosticism holds that you can neither prove nor disprove God’s existence”

    proving is not the same as “deciding”. you can have beliefs one way or the other, but if you can’t prove it and you admit you can’t prove it, you are agnostic. Agnosticism is not about belief, it is a claim of knowledge. some sources:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnosticism
    notice the terms “truth value” and “similarities or differences between belief and knowledge”

    http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=agnostic
    that one is pretty self explanatory.

    I am an atheist, and I am an agnostic. I wish instead of saying either of those I could just say that I follow the creeds of logic and reason, but that may be more confusing :p

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Wayne

    some like Jesus, Mohamad, etc, would disagree with you, but I don’t.

    But that is the point. If Jesus/Mohammed or whoever can interact with the supernatural , then the natural world can interact with the supernatural, in which case science can test it.

    That said, the fact that we don’t know if a creator exists or anything about this creator is not evidence that a creator does not exist.

    Well yes. Ive already agreed with you that a creator is a possible hypothesis and I don’t find it an unreasonable one. I’m sure someone will point out Russels teapot here – But thats a valid analogy only if we had unexplained tea showers from time to time.
    I just happen to believe the probability of a creator with a universe is lower(and much more so) than a universe not having a creator.
    I also believe the point is moot unless you are a theist who believes God can , and does interact with the natural world. And there is absolutely no evidence for that and I do not find an interfering creator a reasonable hypothesis.

    I also have a liking for the God = sum total of laws of nature , since if everyone used that definition for God we’d get rid of these stupid labels and these petty arguments :).

  • Wayne Dunlap

    No we cannot know anything about a creator. All I am doing is stating that, since I cannot see an alternative solution, a creator could be the solution.

    Forgive my quibbling but it seem that you are stating that a creator is the solution rather than could be. Also the fact that you can’t see another solution is no reason to pick one that you like. Pick a solution that the evidence points to or not at all.

    Explain how the universe started without a cause.

    I believe that I’ve already stated that I don’t know how the universe first formed. We simply don’t have any evidence from which to form an opinion. Presumably some really smart physicists are able to see evidence but it is beyond me. please don’t come back with “since you offer no alternative then I must be right” because that is a fallacious argument.

    How about the start of one celled creatures? Science cannot explain it.

    Well actually it can explain how chemicals could potentially form into protocells. Science hasn’t yet been able to reproduce it so the evidence is pending. There are plenty of sources for this and even some wonderful youtube videos.

    How many times can you state that, if it isn’t scientific, it cannot be valid?

    Why isn’t it? I don’t believe that anyone has stated that. Science is a wonderful tool for discerning the validity of a claim. It happens to be very good at that but it isn’t the only tool in the box.

    I am assuming, based on Steven Hawking and other top physicists, that there was nothing. Therefore, I am reasoning that there cannot be a cause when there is nothing.

    We humans aren’t very good at these concepts of ‘nothing’ and ‘infinity’. If you think back to your early maths classes you’ll probably remember how the number zero is a placeholder. It is a concept and not something that you can point at and say “that is a nothing”. We aren’t talking about there being nothing that caused something but about the very early universe. We don’t understand anything prior to the very early universe.

    Since you need a cause, I am suggesting a creator. No, I don’t know, but it still makes sense. But, perhaps Quantum mechanics does too, but seems even more extraordinary than a creator.

    Not to me. If you have to add an entity to explain something that you don’t understand then I think you’ve just admitted defeat in answering the question.

    Yes, a supernatural is adding an unknown, but I don’t think it nullifies my logic.

    2 + 2 = 4. That’s what we’re saying here.

    You’re saying 2 + 2 + creator = 4.

    The creator is an unnecessary and confusing addition to the equation.

    Your answer I don’t know to my question if you have nothing, and therefore, it would seem no cause available what answer do you have left refuses to acknowledge that a possible answer is that you would require a creator.

    How about “We don’t have enough evidence to form an opinion” or “I don’t know, nobody does”?

    If I can come up with a possible solution, why should I leave it alone as an unknown?
    Yes, a more reasonable answer would be one backed with evidence, but like you said, we don’t know so we are left to make a hypothesis. What is wrong with that?

    Fine then I counter your creator idea with the equally valid and equally unexplained Eric the Giant Time Travelling Viking who created the universe with his time travelling sneeze. No, hang on. That’s silly. How about a universe creating machine that makes universes to order for vast celestial creatures to wear as ornaments on their tentacles. What’s wrong with that? Only that it is unfounded.

    You ask how a creator adds to our understanding of life. I guess it indicates that a creator may have been required to start it all going.

    How does that add to our understanding of anything?

    How can you say that I am clinging to my upbringing when I stated that I was raised a Christian, but I now find the document false?

    It seems as if you retain some vestigial ideas from your earlier faith. That’s all.

    Yes a being might hate being worshipped or may not care or expect to be. If he did, I would think a being who created the whole universe could get his wishes properly across.

    He might, she might not, they might be at odds over it. Speculation.

    You state that it is not a reason to base a belief on what amounts to speculation. Why? Science does it all the time with educated guesses. Unfortunately, it is not possible to test the creator hypothesis.

    Educated guesses are based on evidence first and then taken to a logical conclusion. Evidence is used to test these tentative hypotheses. Your guess isn’t based on any evidence as far as I can tell. Merely a desire that is could be so.

  • steve

    LOL,

    atheist’s rely on science to explain everything, it is solid and therefore true. I see it referenced in a large quantity of posts from my atheist friends here.

    The Big Bang Theory and Quantum Mechanics are just theories. They are NOT proven, however, atheists base arguments on science and frequently cite the above as a basis for their beliefs, but they are just theory!

    To put it simply, the nothing created something idea is just a theory.
    Faith in a theory? Eeek!

    I personally hold that science and my belief in a Higher Power go hand in hand, but I truly enjoy pointing out to the science crowd that many of their strongly held belief’s are based on faith and not fact.

    On a final note, thank you for a forum where discussion can take place and not degrade to name calling and denigration of other’s viewpoints, it is really enjoyable.

  • Bo Gardiner

    @p.s.

    I see that your debate technique is to completely mischaracterize my points, then refute the mischaracterizations. You may as well be talking to yourself.

    I will say only that most people recognize that there is an ethical line between a member of an oppressed group hiding or remaining in the closet (where I largely reside) to avoid persecution, and taking pains to loudly distance oneself from the the rest of the group, with the effect of harming others to promote yourself. I would never dream of judging those in the first group.

    Another lost distinction: to appease bigots may be a failing, but it’s not sympathizing with bigots or being a bigot. I’ve never “hinted” that anyone here was bigoted.

    And yet another: again, I am not taking issue with all agnostics. I’m taking issue with a subset I consider disingenuous; many aren’t. Separately, I’ve reasonably expressed disagreement with a tenet of agnosticism.

    This thread invited expressions of frustration with atheists, and I’ve done so. To call me bigoted for doing so is the most childish of retaliations.

    These are only a few of the myriad distinctions you’ve run roughshod over. You seem determined to misconstrue me no matter what, such that I don’t see that you are arguing in good faith, and won’t engage you further.

  • Hitch

    Steve: The “just a theory” thing is a little silly.

    Here is why. Quantum mechanics has been verified to be a very good theory. I.e. it predicts experiments with very high accuracy and has not been found to violate experiments in the realm of its applicability.

    Same for general relativity. Our GPS system would be off if GR wasn’t true. Our space travel would be off. GR is not just a theory, it is has predictive power and is verified in the realm of its applicability.

    Now lets take the theory that there is a creator. It has no predictive power, it has not been verified. Yes perhaps it is “a theory” but an ill-formed one at that.

    The equating of two theories belies how much predictive power and experimental verification they have. Not all theories are created equal.

    For example the theory that all apples are green is bunk.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    P.S.
    I’m not questioning the theory of Quantum Mechanics which is a branch of physics describing the behavior of energy and matter at the atomic and subatomic scales. What I am questioning is its application to indicate that nothing is something. This seems to go way beyond what this theory is all about. However, it is the only alternative other than a creator that I’ve seen so far, so it may be worth pursuing.
    I do understand your wanting to find a natural explanation first. I can’t help wondering though if that means that you have closed your mind off completely to the possibility that a creator was indeed the starting point. Though it might seem like it, I am willing to consider both. I do intend to look further into the possibility that quantum mechanics might be the answer.

  • Hitch

    Wayne: If you do not understand the concept of an anti-particle, I do nit see how you can even speak to the applicability of quantum mechanics. If you don’t know what an annihiliation operator is, you cannot speak as to how states appear and disappear. If you do not know how energy and matter relate and how a quantum mechanical hamiltonian looks, you are in no shape to even formulate that there is a boundary between energy/matter and the appearance of phenomena.

    There is a possibility of a creator, just as much as the possibility of two creators, three creators, n creators, a hierarchy of creators, or no creator at all. We have no evidence for any of these cases.

    We have plenty of evidence to understand quantum mechanics. The point about this is that the big bang is frivolously used to claim that we know about the moment of creation, when frankly we do not. Hence people simply claim that we know both the moment of creation and that a creator has done it when that is an unfounded claim.

  • p.s.

    bo:
    you are making just as many assumptions about me as I have about you. I’m sorry if i misinterpreted, but your tone is somewhat inflammatory. I have not called you bigoted, and you did *not* make a distinction between the two groups you mentioned. I mentioned I am against hypocrisy, and if thats the only problem you have fine, I agree with you. however, to me it seemed as though you were implying that those who used the term agnostic to describe themselves are inherently attacking atheists. I see that your debate technique is to tell me I don’t understand and run off in a huff after insulting my intelligence. Have a nice day.

  • p.s.

    wayne:
    an open mind does not mean blindly accepting everything without evidence. I have not completely dismissed the existence of a creator anywhere in my posts, I have only said that quantum mechanics seems to offer a better explanation since it is based on evidence. The argument should be whether or not we are interpreting the evidence correctly, which is where alot of the “I don’t know” comes from. Show me some evidence for a creator, some reason that I should believe in a supernatural higher power, and perhaps I will give your speculations more credence.

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Bo
    Since I was the person who said you seem bigoted towards agnostics(again most to match your tone ) , i assume part of your response is directed to me. Your words were “perptuate bigotry” towards atheist and atleast your initial post did not show any fine lines that you now say you have.
    Plus some on these forums , including the owner have also expressed the view that agnostics have wishy washy views and other stereotypes so perhaps you might have been unfairly tarred by association , for which I apologize.

    I would never dream of judging those in the first group.

    But what exactly do you expect them to say when they are asked about their beliefs?

    This thread invited expressions of frustration with atheists, and I’ve done so.

    No you have expressed frustration with (whatever subset) of agnostics, by assuming they must be atheists. This is evident in your spiritual but not religious comment.

  • steve

    “Hitch Says:”

    “”Quantum mechanics has been verified to be a very good theory. I.e. it predicts experiments with very high accuracy and has not been found to violate experiments in the realm of its applicability.””

    ***Since you are so found of Quantum Mechanics, consider that perhaps our Higher Power is inside Schrödinger’s box.***

    “”The “just a theory” thing is a little silly.””

    **At one point Newton’s Law existed before the TGR, and you yourself state GR is a good theory. In Newtons time GR would have been thought silly, even implausible, so just because there is no current measure-ability, does not automatically make something “silly”.**

    Here something to chew on and make you all spin…

    Try some math from Fred Hoyle, and who coined the term Big Bang: Theory:

    Hoyle calculated that the chance of obtaining the required set of enzymes for even the simplest living cell was one in 10 40000 (one followed by 40000 zeroes).

    Fred Hoyle quote:

    “The notion that not only the biopolymer but the operating program of a living cell could be arrived at by chance in a primordial organic soup here on the Earth is evidently nonsense of a high order.”

    Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to go back to my other universe and make a living analysing radio wave propagation.

  • Aj

    steve,

    Try some math from Fred Hoyle, and who coined the term Big Bang: Theory:

    Hoyle calculated that the chance of obtaining the required set of enzymes for even the simplest living cell was one in 10 40000 (one followed by 40000 zeroes).

    Fred Hoyle quote:

    “The notion that not only the biopolymer but the operating program of a living cell could be arrived at by chance in a primordial organic soup here on the Earth is evidently nonsense of a high order.”

    Yes, he ironically named it the Big Bang Theory in order to belittle it, but it ended up making it more popular.

    I think this is another clear example of why people shouldn’t create a false dichotomy of a creator vs complete random assembly of something complex. As with Wayne’s comments, and any Intelligent Design argument, it is an argument from ignorance and a false dilemma, you can also throw in a straw man argument as well, that makes three logical fallacies rolled into one.

    a) Firstly, no one is suggesting that it was random chance. Natural selection isn’t random. It’s a straw man logical fallacy to suggest so.

    b) It’s a false dilemma logical fallacy to suggest that it’s either random chance or an intelligent designer.

    c) It’s an argument from ignorance logical fallacy, as the inability to accept one possibility is taken to support another preferred possibility.

    You can read about Hoyle’s Fallacy and all the errors Hoyle made in calculating the probability of abiogensis on Wikipedia.

  • p.s.

    “**At one point Newton’s Law existed before the TGR, and you yourself state GR is a good theory. In Newtons time GR would have been thought silly, even implausible, so just because there is no current measure-ability, does not automatically make something “silly”.**”

    when GR was introduced, it was a hypothesis based on the behavior of light. it wasn’t until there was verifiable evidence (it predicted a certain behavior that could be tested) that it became a theory. Thats how science works, and thats why its a good theory. QM has gone through similar rigors, so it is also a good theory. I don’t think alot of people really understand how much goes into an idea before it can be accepted as a theory, it’s actually kind of a big deal. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_theory

  • Hitch

    Steve:

    “***Since you are so found of Quantum Mechanics, consider that perhaps our Higher Power is inside Schrödinger’s box.***”

    Well as said, you clearly don’t understand quantum mechanics. Why don’t you explain how a quantum state collapses in experiment before making statements like this?

    See that is my critique. People use superficial knowledge to claim stuff. There is no Higher Power in the collapse of the quantum state because you cannot perturb the probability, and the moment of measurement is part of the experiment. In other words, “God” has no choice in how to play dice. Bell did detailed theoretical work on this. Aspect and others have verified it. Observed quantum entanglement is impossible if anything (God or not) interferes and we understand quite well what happens if something interferes.

    “**At one point Newton’s Law existed before the TGR, and you yourself state GR is a good theory. In Newtons time GR would have been thought silly, even implausible, so just because there is no current measure-ability, does not automatically make something “silly”.**”

    Er, not really. GR could have been discovered at Newton’s time. In fact Newton conjectured the light/gravity dependence in Opticks but didn’t think of using a solar eclipse to measure it.

    The idea was not silly to Newton.

    That doesn’t mean that Newton too didn’t hold silly ideas… he held quite a few.

    How do you suggest that we measure the creator, which properties will allow us to even claim “oh we have discovered the creator”? See your creator hypothesis isn’t even a physical one. We have no definition that allows us to say: Yes this observation confirms this. What are the tangible properties of this creator that will be physically observable, and how is that property different from other alternative hypothesis?

    That is what makes a theory “silly”. It is not well grounded, has no predictive power, and makes no experimentally verifiable claims.

    The theory that all apples are green is better than the theory that there is a “creator”. At least we have a way to verify the former for its truth-value and don’t have to hand-wave how magically perhaps in the future we might have means to discover the “creator” that is undefined.

    On Hoyle’s Fallacy, AJ has pretty much covered it.

    “Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to go back to my other universe and make a living analysing radio wave propagation.”

    Good luck. Reason why it works is because we use solid theories with predictive power of future outcomes and we have means to modify our theories following new observations and insight.

    As for bunk, we do the opposite. They have no predictive powers, if a hypothesis is made and disproved (earth is created in 7 days or 6k years, geocentric) we change the the hypothesis (heliocentric -> GR, big bang, onset of life) to keep the story alive. That is we change the needed evidence not the theory. The “theory” is not a theory, but an immutable “truth” that is made to fit the facts.

    Even worse if people postulate multiple inconsistent theories why “x” is true. So is the creator a Schroedinger Cat or is it the big bang (in classical GR) or is it the moment of creation of life in the primordial soup? The story is not even straight and we are asked to respond? That’s the insanity of unscientific arguments. Just any randomly chosen bits of theory is good enough to try to make X “true”.

    That is exactly how you spot that something is quack and not science.

  • steve

    Hitch,

    Err you need to go back and study your theories some more, so you can comprehend them and string them together.

    My point on this thread is exactly what is says: what do atheists do that frustrates you.

    They think science is only for their use and they get their panties all wadded up when scientific evidence just might suggest there is a creator.

    Look at how you all react to Fred Hoyle.

    This is exactly what you do and my point exactly: “Just any randomly chosen bits of theory is good enough to try to make X “true”.”

    Science is not just your sole domain to argue your point with.

    Enough baiting for today.

  • Hitch

    Steve, you have not argued anything. Science is the domain for all of us. You can either participate or not. But you cannot call arguments scientific, which aren’t.

    “when scientific evidence just might suggest”

    You have provided no evidence, scientific or otherwise. Nor have you provided a hypothesis against which to compare that supposed evidence.

    But you come around and accuse others of acting improperly or being uninformed.

    I have no issue with Fred Hoyle. We have issues with the fallacies in the argument. If you have a critique for the criticism of the fallacy, you can do that. That would be a proper arguments.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Hitch,
    You said “The problem with assuming a creator simply does not lead to a very scientific approach. One can always postulate that whatever we know so far has been created by a creator, and as we know more, the creator’s construction will change.”

    True, assuming a creator is not very scientific, and many things that were attributed to a creator have since been shown by science to be natural occurrences. Still, that does not nullify the possibility, especially when you are looking at the initial big bang and the initial start of life. We still don’t know what started the initial rapid expansion or whether or not this initial matter appeared from nothing. If it did appear from nothing, what caused it to do so? Also, how do we scientifically explain how life started? We have done experiments that produced proteins but still no life. How does a one cell creature start out with ability to absorb nutrients and eliminate waste and have the ability to move about and to split in two to reproduce? Can these thing actually happen by chance given a long enough time, or do will still require a creator to start them off? Higher forms of life require digestion, elimination, respiration, circulation and reproduction all at once. How was it pulled off by only a couple of these things occurring at once? It would appear that we need all of them. And if we had all but reproduction, the animal would soon die and we would have to start all over again. Also, how did it just by chance happen that a male appeared with a sex organ that just so happens to fit in a by chance vagina?

    You state that to postulate a creator is wishful thinking. Is it, or is it possibly the only real answer? BTW, how did you know that little elves push the grass up from under ground on my lawn. Actually, they like weeds the best. 🙂

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Deepak Shetty,
    Listen, I won’t deny that my beliefs that a creator was necessary to start off everything does smack of creationism, but remember that creationists are basing their beliefs on literal interpretations from the Bible with earth created 5000 years ago. Believe me, that I find that entirely ridiculous and can be easily disproved scientifically. On the other hand my stating that it appears that a creator was necessary to start things off as the required cause such as the initial rapid expansion or perhaps matter appearing from nothing. Or how does a one cell creature start out with ability to absorb nutrients and eliminate waste and have the ability to move about and to split in two to reproduce? Can these thing actually happen by chance given a long enough time, or do will still require a creator to start them off? Higher forms of life require digestion, elimination, respiration, circulation and reproduction all at once. How was it pulled off by only a couple of these things occurring at once? It would appear that we need all of them. And if we had all but reproduction, the animal would soon die and we would have to start all over again. Also, how did it just by chance happen that a male appeared with a sex organ that just so happens to fit in a by chance vagina?

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Author: Hitch
    Comment:
    What bugs me is that people quote general relativity and quantum mechanics as if they understand it, when it is quite clear that there is a rather major lack.>

    I agree with this comment. Since you seem to understand it, how valid is the statement that Quantum Mechanics can explain something coming from nothing?

  • Hitch

    It’s a little tricky. The simple answer would be:

    Quantum mechanics doesn’t really say this. Energy is conserved in quantum mechanics.

    The more complex answer is: It depends.

    If one assumes that at the big bang matter and anti-matter got separated and the amount of matter we see in the universe is part of the process, then the answer is yes with a big asterisk. Nothing was created in a strict sense, except for the matter distribution that we see. The total energy kind of had to be there before that split.

    (sorry for the heavy jargon, hope it’s clear enough)

    But it really doesn’t save the cosmological creationist arguments because the fallacy is that we don’t know what happened early in the universe. Most of our theories are speculative.

    And the mathematical models have certain restrictions. The Penrose-Hawking theorems have specific conditions which actually do not hold during the inflationary period of the expanding universe, hence we cannot really move to the early stages with the theorem intact. Also Penrose recently discussed that in fact there may be physics before the big bang. And periodic cosmological models have been around for a good while.

    I think simply from quantum mechanics alone it is quite clear that the big bang never can have been a classical singularity. But what’s more is that we simply do not know the physics of quantum mechanical large scale singularities at all. We simply do not know anything specific about that time and in fact the universe may well have existed before the big bang.

    So to use the big bang as a moment of creation misrepresents what we know about the big bang.

    Quantum mechanical criticism is actually valid for this very reason: In order to describe the big bang we need a unified theory of QM and GR. We do not have it. And once we have it, it is fairly certain that we no longer deal with an idealized point singularity, because in QM things beyond the Planck scale doesn’t behave at all like the way things would need to be for a classical singularity.

    So to summarize: We do not know if there even was a big bang singularity, we do not understand the theory applicable to the early universe because quantum mechanical effects have to play a big role, the big bang may not have been the moment of creation, and quantum mechanics at the big bang may well explain the distribution of matter that we see.

    Another thing before I go. Some creationists misuse the second law of thermodynamic in a cosmological context too. In fact second law of thermodynamics in GR has been shown to give good explanation how galaxies form after inflation and don’t as easily explain naive models of heat death as some apologists claim.

    Here is a fairly accessible and nice talk about this matter by Max Tegmark. Note how he states what is not know. This is anno 2007:

    http://mitworld.mit.edu/video/513

    The point about science is to try to be very clear what we do not know, what is speculation, what is confirmed by some experimental data etc. Note how the conference attendees ask questions and the speaker qualifies.

    About second law theories, note how he even states that we do not even know how to define entropy in cosmology. This is how tricky it is to form these arguments.

    Whenever someone claims something with certainty to further an argument, it is worthwhile to be skeptical. Very few things are really simple like that.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Bo Gardiner,
    Couldn’t agree with you more when you that those who don’t hold a belief in God are atheists period. If they want to claim that they are weak atheists, then they are actually agnostic/atheists, i.e., they lean towards atheism, but admit that they don’t really know or have proof that there is no god.
    Sagan said that God could easily prove its existence. To that I say, perhaps God doesn’t want to prove its existence. As far as Haiti goes, a right wing evangelist claims that Haiti was being punished for selling their soul to the devil. A Haitian, a friend knows, said that she agreed.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Miketheinfidel,
    “The difference being, of course, that we have evidence that quantum physical events actually occur. We have no evidence of the supernatural. So no, the supernatural is not less extraordinary.”
    Yes, we have evidence that quantum physical events do occur, but that does not apply to nothing actually being nothing. I believe that is a pure hypothesis.
    No supernatural does not solve the problem when there is no evidence, but neither does quantum physics. I disagree that a creator hypothesis is illogical when you can show that it may be the most likely cause.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Mikethe infidel,
    I am not asserting that I know that a supernatural being exists. I merely stated that in order for the universe to start as well as life itself, you need a cause and it appeared that the only cause available is a supernatural being.
    Maybe the answer is that the constants couldn’t be anything else, but that appears to be very unlikely. You just stated that you didn’t know if the constants could vary, yet you can turn around and call my argument fallacious?
    I stand corrected. Fairies really do exist. They are pushing up daisies in my front yard.
    A creator could be some sort of force rather than organic or inorganic.
    I have presented a possible solution to the problem. How does that create confusion?

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Steve,
    Your comment to miketheinfidel,
    “I mean do you REALLY understand them, can you sit down and write allthe math out? CAN YOU??? I doubt it, in which case you rely as much on faith that all these theories are true as I do in my believe in a higher creator.”

    Steve, very well put.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Miketheinfidel,
    I have given you logic reasoning why I feel a creator is necessary. You have given me none other than to fall into the typical trap of referring to my reasoning as belief in fairies. Steve is right. You quote science but I doubt very much that you understand it and are basing your belief merely on faith rather than reasoning. Explain how the universe started? What was the cause? Explain how one cell creatures appeared with the ability to absorb nutrients and eliminate them and to move about and to split in half in order to reproduce? Explain how a higher being somehow appeared with digestion, elimination, respiration, circulation and reproduction all at once? If not, explain how this being could exist without all these functions? This being could have all but reproduction, but then would die and we would have to start the process all over again. Explain how we just so happen to have a male appear with a penis and a female with a vagina all at once complete with reproductive organs to produce sperm and an egg to receive this sperm. If not, how could a species continue? Yeah, science is wonderful, but it isn’t the end all, be all. Yet, you stubbornly cling to the belief that science is the only answer.

  • Deepak Shetty

    @Wayne
    You can speculate all you want about a creator, but its just a hypothesis and it isn’t a very good one and it isnt a logical one – Every question you have about the start of the universe applies to the creator too, and the only way around them is by definition. In addition you now need to introduce questions like what properties does the creator have, how did he create the universe etc etc. If there was nothing , as you say, then how did he create something out of it? So keep it as a very poor , doesn’t explain anything, and creates more questions hypothesis (similar to panspermia for origin of life).

    You also seem to be aware of only Young earth creationists. Take for e.g. Francis Collins – supports evolution in most respects but loses it when it comes to the soul.

    However Im perfectly fine with you naming the first cause as God , its quite different though to say God does interfere with the universe.

    Also, how did it just by chance happen that a male appeared with a sex organ that just so happens to fit in a by chance vagina?

    Im sorry to bring it up again, but this is an exact creationist viewpoint.
    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2009/03/elephantine_errors_from_ray_co.php

    You really need to read more stuff about evolution if you want to raise points like these. I believed you were sincere , but even a simple google search would tell you something about populations evolving (as opposed to a single male/female pair evolving), asexual reproduction , organisms that can be either sex finally different sexes.

    Im curious what do you think god does though. Ok asexual bacteria, Im going to give one of you a penis and one of you a vagina. Then he proceeds to I dont know, feel them up or something?

    I’d advise you to actually read up on some of these things if you are indeed sincere. Im not a biologist and my explanations will probably be poor, but atleast answers exist for some of your questions.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Miketheinfidel,
    You admit you don’t know, but you then close your mind when someone tries to explain why a creator may be the necessary cause and precede to call it fallacious without being able to show a counter argument. That is what makes your argument fallacious.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Deepak Shetty,
    You said “I do not find an interfering creator a reasonable hypothesis.”

    How can you be sure a supernatural being doesn’t from time to time get involved with occassionally making adjustments? What evidence would he show? If a creator started the universe and living creatures, what evidence would he leave behind?

    If a creator is some sort of invisible force, explain how science would be able to study this force? Jesus and Mohammad claim they have interacted with God. Explain how science could determine whether or not this is so. Like I said, science is designed to study material things, not the supernatural.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Hoverfrog,
    Why isn’t it valid for me to select a solution that seems valid? But I am picking a solution that the evidence points to. Reasoning states that there is a needed cause to explain the beginnings of the universe. Also, the beginning of life. The first one celled creatures required an ability to absorb nutrients, turn it into energy and then eliminate it, the ability to move about and the ability to split in half to reproduce itself. Logic states that we need a cause here. These things don’t happen by chance. You want more evidence? What about more advanced creatures? They require all of the following functions: digestion, elimination, conversion of absorbed nutrients into energy, respiration, circulation and reproduction. Evidence seems to indicate that you need all of these functions at once. You cannot gradually have one or two. You need them all at once. You also need a male with a penis and a female with a vaginal complete with sperm from the penis and egg in a womb. You are asking a lot if you expect these all to come about by chance. A creator seems like a logical solution.

  • Hitch

    Wayne, if you want to have a scientific discussion you have to fix the property of what you consider “the creator” so that we can try to evaluate if the hypothesis is true in some sense.

    The problem is that “the creator” is a shifting hypothesis. Is it a personal god who created the earth in 7 days, or in 6k years, or who created the creatures contemporarily or who created the primordial soup and single cell organisms, or who created the mechanism of gene transport, or who created the big bang and if the big bang isn’t actually the beginning which did he create?

    See it simply isn’t credible. If I say, a murder has been committed and you ask me where the body is and first I say it’s X and we go check and there is no body, and them I say well maybe it was at Y and we check and it’s not there then I say, well maybe that was metaphorical and some other body gets discovered and I say well that’s now evidence that a crime was committed, then this is again a shifting hypothesis.

    The story is being changed to fit the evidence, whereas in science (and good investigative forensics) the story is assumed false if evidence contradicts it.

    Science is not designed to study material things. Science is a mechanism to discover what is knowable about the world.

    If something is not knowable you can invent an infinite amount of unprovable things. Flying tea pots, flying spagetti monsters, murders that never happened, yetis, loch ness monsters, elves who help the grass grow. All these have exactly the same value, namely none. They predict nothing, and actually just pretend to explain anything. They really don’t because we change the story once new evidence comes in.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Aj,
    I agree with natural selection in that if a mutation is beneficial it will result in that living being becoming more successful and more likely to have more offspring. OK, now please explain to me how natural selection caused the beginning of life? How did a single cell creature come about with all the necessary requirements for life such as ability to absorb nutrients, the ability to turn these nutrients into energy, the ability to eliminate the waste product, the ability to move about and the ability to split in half to reproduce? Seems like we need a cause here. Can you say creator? Still not convinced? What about higher creatures? They need all of the following systems: Digestion, elimination, the ability to turn absorbed nutrients into energy, respiration, circulation and reproduction. How do we do this gradually? Also, how did we get a male and female completely formed with a penis for the male complete with sperm and a vagina for the female complete with eggs and a womb and the ability to expel the fetus when it is ready to be born? Does science have evidence how this is done? I really don’t think so. Again, can you say creator? No, you can’t because you are too hooked on your FAITH that science is the answer to everything and a creator is just so ridiculous. If so, explain answer my questions above with scientific evidence, if you can.

  • Deepak Shetty

    How can you be sure a supernatural being doesn’t from time to time get involved with occasionally making adjustments?

    Well I cant be sure of course, but the question is equivalent to asking you are you so sure you aren’t living in a Matrix(of the Keanu Reeves variety) kind of world? Are you so sure you arent living in a universe which is an experiment run by aliens?
    Assume a universe where there is no creator , how would it differ from ours (keep aside the question of creation of the universe for now)? And the answer is not at all.

    What evidence would he show?

    Any kind would do. A loving creator would appear to each one of us personally and demonstrate his love. A scientific one would explain all the laws we don’t understand. An evil one would torture everyone immediately. He doesn’t have to ofcourse but he could.

    If a creator is some sort of invisible force, explain how science would be able to study this force?

    Ill refer you to Carl Sagans a dragon in the garage argument where he illustrates elegantly why your argument is flawed. (Science does ofcourse measure invisible forces all the time e.g. gravity)

    http://www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/Dragon.htm

    Jesus and Mohammad claim they have interacted with God. Explain how science could determine whether or not this is so. Like I said, science is designed to study material things, not the supernatural.

    As of today? Sure. Jesus and Mohammed are material beings are they not? They could be studied easily. If an Angel did indeed appear to Mohammed any light capturing device would show it. If a supernatural being spoke to him , his brain would show appropriate activity
    Jesus’ DNA could be checked for a Y chromosome (and if the Holy Spirit does indeed have a Y chromosome then so much for it being immaterial). The other claims of water turning into wine or walking over water would need James Randi to certify it. Flying horses to heaven too would need visual evidence. As before science can either have a say on the supernatural or noone can. Science is a study of the material world , because that’s all we have found. All its tools are available for the supernatural too.

    Or to quote Sagan from the same link
    “Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. “

  • Wayne with regard to your comment to Hitch

    Or how does a one cell creature start out with ability to absorb nutrients and eliminate waste and have the ability to move about and to split in two to reproduce?

    It is fair to say that you’re starting in in the wrong place. Before you have a cell you have self replicating molecules. Look into how amino acids and protein molecules interact.

    Onto your comments directed at me

    Why isn’t it valid for me to select a solution that seems valid? But I am picking a solution that the evidence points to.

    Excellent then please present your evidence. All I’m seeing is wishful thinking and unsubstantiated claims. That’s the point really. You’re making a positive claim about the nature of reality. It is up to you to substantiate that claim.

    Reasoning states that there is a needed cause to explain the beginnings of the universe.

    This has already been adequately covered. Normal cause and effect requires the dimension of time. We don’t know if there was time as we understand it before the beginning of the universe. What we do know if that we can’t know anything about this and shouldn’t make any assumptions. However assume that your hypothesis is correct, what does this add to our understanding of the universe? What questions are answered, genuinely answered by evoking a creator deity?

    Also, the beginning of life.

    We have this already. There are several hypotheses but we aren’t operating in the same ignorance as we are about the beginning of the universe. We know that life is chemically based so the origins of life are chemical. It is simply a matter of making the right conditions. I say “simply” but obviously it is a bit more complicated than that.

    The first one celled creatures required an ability to absorb nutrients, turn it into energy and then eliminate it, the ability to move about and the ability to split in half to reproduce itself.

    As I mentioned earlier cells aren’t the first form of life. There are stages beforehand in the development of life.

    What about more advanced creatures? They require all of the following functions: digestion, elimination, conversion of absorbed nutrients into energy, respiration, circulation and reproduction. Evidence seems to indicate that you need all of these functions at once. You cannot gradually have one or two.

    Of course you can. Isn’t one lung better than none? Isn’t half a lung still better than none?

    You also need a male with a penis and a female with a vaginal complete with sperm from the penis and egg in a womb.

    No you don’t. My garden is full of organisms (tomato plants, poppies, roses, slugs, snails, the occasional bird, fish in my pond and about a million tadpoles that will develop into frogs) and none of them has a penis. You’re confusing reproductive organs with gametes. Honestly this isn’t the place to explain it but pick up a decent book on biology or take a course and your misconceptions will be dispelled.

    You are asking a lot if you expect these all to come about by chance. A creator seems like a logical solution.

    It isn’t a solution at all is it? Nor is it logical or if it is then you haven’t stated your premises nor your form of reasoning. Your logic isn’t consistent with what we know of the universe, we can’t assess the validity and they are incomplete. If I have missed your logic then please state it in proper logical terms.

    I want to add that you’ve been a great sport on this topic and have responded to criticisms maturely and reasonably. despite not agreeing with you I must say that I respect how you’re conducting yourself. That goes for everyone who is criticising your arguments as well. All too often these things tend to break down into slanging matches but I think we’ve managed to keep it on the civil side. So we deserve a pat on the back for that.

  • I disagree that a creator hypothesis is illogical when you can show that it may be the most likely cause.

    … Except that if, as you said, science cannot investigate the supernatural, and there is no evidence that the supernatural exists, it is not the most likely cause.

    I am not asserting that I know that a supernatural being exists. I merely stated that in order for the universe to start as well as life itself, you need a cause and it appeared that the only cause available is a supernatural being.

    If you allow for the supernatural as a cause, you are asserting that the supernatural actually exists.

    You just stated that you didn’t know if the constants could vary, yet you can turn around and call my argument fallacious?

    Yes, Wayne, because you’re insisting that they can vary, and that the fact that they are what they are appears to require supernatural intervention. There is absolutely no justification for that claim.

    I have presented a possible solution to the problem. How does that create confusion?

    Do you honestly not understand how it increases confusion to use the supernatural – something you assert is impossible to investigate or understand – as an explanation?

    I have given you logic reasoning why I feel a creator is necessary.

    You’ve given me reasoning. It is not logical.

    You have given me none other than to fall into the typical trap of referring to my reasoning as belief in fairies.

    And you’ve given me no reason to think otherwise, because you refuse to show that there’s a fundamental difference.

    Steve is right. You quote science but I doubt very much that you understand it and are basing your belief merely on faith rather than reasoning.

    And that’s only okay in your case, right? No, it couldn’t be possible that I actually understand these things; I must only be at your level and no higher. Like I said before, don’t project.

    Explain how the universe started? What was the cause? Explain how one cell creatures appeared with the ability to absorb nutrients and eliminate them and to move about and to split in half in order to reproduce? Explain how a higher being somehow appeared with digestion, elimination, respiration, circulation and reproduction all at once? If not, explain how this being could exist without all these functions? This being could have all but reproduction, but then would die and we would have to start the process all over again. Explain how we just so happen to have a male appear with a penis and a female with a vagina all at once complete with reproductive organs to produce sperm and an egg to receive this sperm. If not, how could a species continue?

    This is pulled almost directly from the arguments of creationists. It’s as if you have absolutely no understanding of evolution. Do you think these things just popped into existence? I’m starting to think you’re trolling us.

    Yeah, science is wonderful, but it isn’t the end all, be all. Yet, you stubbornly cling to the belief that science is the only answer.

    Tell me another mode of investigation that has given us valid answers about the nature of reality.

    You admit you don’t know, but you then close your mind when someone tries to explain why a creator may be the necessary cause and precede to call it fallacious without being able to show a counter argument. That is what makes your argument fallacious.

    Now you’re just being ridiculous. I haven’t closed my mind. I’ve asked you repeatedly to provide an actual logical argument for what you’re saying, but you just keep insisting that the flimsy things you said before were already logical or refusing to answer my criticisms. If my mind were closed, I wouldn’t be talking to you.

    There’s a difference between being able to show a counter argument and being able to provide an answer. I don’t have an answer to the origin of the universe, but I most certainly have provided counter arguments to your claims.

    If you’re going to say that my argument is fallacious, again, you’re going to have to cite the fallacy, not just say that it’s fallacious.

    Reasoning states that there is a needed cause to explain the beginnings of the universe.

    What reasoning is that? We have no information whatsoever about the absolute beginning of the universe. To say that we know it needed a cause is wrong. It may well need a cause after all, but to say that we already know this for sure is false.

    OK, now please explain to me how natural selection caused the beginning of life? How did a single cell creature come about with all the necessary requirements for life such as ability to absorb nutrients, the ability to turn these nutrients into energy, the ability to eliminate the waste product, the ability to move about and the ability to split in half to reproduce? Seems like we need a cause here. Can you say creator? Still not convinced? What about higher creatures? They need all of the following systems: Digestion, elimination, the ability to turn absorbed nutrients into energy, respiration, circulation and reproduction. How do we do this gradually? Also, how did we get a male and female completely formed with a penis for the male complete with sperm and a vagina for the female complete with eggs and a womb and the ability to expel the fetus when it is ready to be born? Does science have evidence how this is done?

    Wayne, you are a creationist. There’s no other way to put it. I’m pretty sure that you’re a creationist trolling an atheist blog in the guise of an “agnostic with theistic leanings.” Because nobody with even a high school level understanding of evolution would be asking these questions unless they were a creationist.

  • Since you seem to be so confused about how life could come about from non-life, Wayne, I’ll simplify it for you: Biology is just chemistry on a more complex scale. Life is chemistry. DNA is a molecule that undergoes chemical reactions.

    Tada. There’s the big secret. The first lifeforms were just packets of chemicals. Competition, environmental stress, and other factors led to diversification. Sometimes, some of them had advantages. The advantages became more complex as time went on. Some of them included chemical metabolism or the mingling of genetic material from multiple individuals. Diversification in these processes led to digestive systems, waste disposal systems, and the myriad forms of sexual reproduction.

    Biology is chemistry writ large. It’s not magic.

  • Aj

    Wayne Dunlap,

    OK, now please explain to me how natural selection caused the beginning of life? How did a single cell creature come about with all the necessary requirements for life such as ability to absorb nutrients, the ability to turn these nutrients into energy, the ability to eliminate the waste product, the ability to move about and the ability to split in half to reproduce?

    We do not have a working model of the origin of life. However to suggest that life just popped into existence as a single cell is to commit the same fallacies you have been committing, and I have explained multiple times. Remember the time before Darwin and no one had a working model of the origin of species? Their conclusion that a magic man did it was wrong, factually and logically. Natural selection requires less than the single cell organisms we have around us today. The first organisms didn’t have DNA, but a precursor, perhaps RNA.

    I thought you said you were an agnostic. You are a theist, a creationist at that, one that subscribes to the clearly anti-science and illogical Intelligent Design. It’s no mystery why you have been so dishonest about the Big Bang theory, evolution, and abiogenesis. There are working models in evolutionary theory of the systems you mention. You are not willing to read about evolutionary theory, because you want to deny reality. Keep your wilful ignorance. I will not respond to any more of your trolling, it’s not like you have comprehended any of my points or demonstrated you are capable of logic.

  • Hitch

    There an easy summary:

    Science is compentent ignorant. We know what we know and don’t know and are honest about it.

    Creationists are incompentently certain. You don’t know what is known yet you are certain something exists that doesn’t even have well defined properties. Some creationists are honest, some are not. Most are dishonest about what they know.

    “I have presented a possible solution to the problem. How does that create confusion?”

    Problem is that there are uncountably many unfounded solutions all with the same non-existing evidence and without predictive power. They do not add to understanding. They add to noise and long discussions that are not science.

    Let me explain the difference between understanding and false certainty.

    We understand if we have mechanisms we that are compatible with observation, perhaps can predict future outcome, that are explained in finer detail when we understand parts of it and so forth.

    False certainty is a claim that untestable, does not predict future outcome, cannot be supported by understanding finer details of it and so forth.

    Creationism is not rejected like all other unfounded poorly formulated suggestions. If you want to have a credible suggestion it first has to be compatible with what we do know about our world, ideally it is quantitative, i.e. we can compute or predict outcomes, and it can be described in its function. Until then there simply is no reason to accept creationism as a credible hypothesis.

    Given that the only reason why we even talk about creationism is because of the verses in the genesis of the Abrahamic religions, it’s quite clear that this is a dogmatic issue, not a scientific one.

    If you are truly agnostic, you will ask the same probing questions of the bible, the properties of the creator and so forth. Why is that a viable theory when we now know that earth was not created in 7 days, nor 6k days, is not flat, is not the center of the universe, that species did not pop up simultaneously and so forth. We have ample and repeated evidence that predictions of the abrahamic texts are not only inaccurate but plainly false.

    And that is the only real reason why we even discuss creationism.

    There is a massive discrepancy in demands for evidence. The creator is upheld even against repeatedly refutation of evidence. Yet science keeps being attacked despite repeated confirmation of its predictive power.

    Heck you can type right now not because if the divine creator theory having proven right, but because scientific theory allows us to predict and build such complex systems as computers. Yes, there are creators. It’s us, namely the ones who understand how to be creative and inquisitive and not dogmatic.

    You are wasting your time looking for the biblical creator. With that time you could do a lot of good for the world, namely help us understand what we can understand and improve the conditions we have.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Hoverfrog,
    “Pick a solution that the evidence points to or not at all.”
    But that isn’t much fun, especially since we have no evidence. Why can’t one look at a situation like something coming from nothing and reason what could be the answer? I feel my creator hypothesis could be an answer, but by discussing here, ps managed to come up with an alternative hypothesis using Quantum theory. I will have to look further into that one. Funny, that has jogged my memory. I now remember reading something in a physics book years ago about something being able to come from nothing.
    “ please don’t come back with “since you offer no alternative then I must be right” because that is a fallacious argument”
    Now why would I do that? I really don’t know if I am right, just wish that some would not jump on it as wishful thinking or false since science cannot find evidence for it.
    “Science hasn’t yet been able to reproduce it so the evidence is pending. There are plenty of sources for this and even some wonderful youtube videos.”

    If science does succeed it, might help to answer a lot of questions. I wonder, though, if it will disprove the need for a creator. A friend of mine claims that science is getting closer to producing life. We shall see. Should prove to be very interesting. If you find them, send me links to those utube videos. I would like to see them.

    “Science is a wonderful tool for discerning the validity of a claim. It happens to be very good at that but it isn’t the only tool in the box.”

    Maybe objective reasoning when there is no evidence?

    “If you have to add an entity to explain something that you don’t understand then I think you’ve just admitted defeat in answering the question.”

    You could be right, but what if the correct answer is an entity? Like you said, we don’t know the answer. Funny, in the past I have argued here that to take the stance of an atheist, saying “I don’t believe in a creator” also, like Theism, takes Faith since we can neither prove or disprove the possibility of a creator. I know you disagree.

    “The creator is an unnecessary and confusing addition to the equation.”

    So you say, but I’m not so sure that a creator isn’t necessary.

    “Fine then I counter your creator idea with the equally valid and equally unexplained Eric the Giant Time Travelling Viking who created the universe with his time travelling sneeze.”

    I never suggested how the creator did it, did I. You are simply going one step further.

    “How does that add to our understanding of anything?” You were referring to my remarks about a creator.

    Answer: It doesn’t, but it does provide a possible answer to the question how it all started.

    “It seems as if you retain some vestigial ideas from your earlier faith. That’s all.”

    I really don’t think that is the case. Heck, initially, when I discovered the truth that my religion was man-made, I initially caught myself acting out in my mind as though it was me against them. Kind of like a former smoker being more belligerent toward smokers than a person who never smoked before. Now, perhaps the fact that I am still feeling that there is some sort of God who knows I’m there could be the case. Still, I don’t feel this is influencing my belief that there had to be a creator to start everything off.

    “Your guess isn’t based on any evidence as far as I can tell. Merely a desire that is could be so.”

    You are right that my guess isn’t based on any evidence, but I think your are wrong when you say based on desire. I am actually basing it on the fact that I cannot come to any other conclusion. Also, I am ultimately looking for the TRUTH.

    “It is fair to say that you’re starting in the wrong place. Before you have a cell you have self replicating molecules. Look into how amino acids and protein molecules interact.”

    Interesting, now that you mention it, I do remember a friend saying something about something before the one celled creature.

    “Excellent then please present your evidence. All I’m seeing is wishful thinking and unsubstantiated claims. That’s the point really. You’re making a positive claim about the nature of reality. It is up to you to substantiate that claim.”

    Unfortunately, I have pretty much the same problem as the scientist, I don’t have the evidence and neither do they, but that is no reason not to try to come up with a possible answer, and, who knows, I could be onto something.

    “However assume that your hypothesis is correct, what does this add to our understanding of the universe? What questions are answered, genuinely answered by evoking a creator deity?”

    What it adds to our understanding of the universe is that it didn’t come about by chance, but was started by a creator. Essentially, the question answered is how did it all begin?

    “Isn’t one lung better than none? Isn’t half a lung still better than none?”

    You need more than a lung though. You are forgetting that you need digestion, elimination, respiration, circulation, reproduction, a brain etc, all at once. What are the odds of that happening by chance?
    Can’t you see my dilemma? When it came to finding that Christianity was man-made, I found lots of evidence. With evolution, I definitely see that it is factual, but what is frustrating is that I cannot find viable answers as to how life started or how something as complex as higher forms of animals could by chance gradually develop into a separate male and female. I have read quite a number of books and listened to college professors on tape from the Teaching Co., but have yet to find the answer.

    “ No you don’t. My garden is full of organisms (tomato plants, poppies, roses, slugs, snails, the occasional bird, fish in my pond and about a million tadpoles that will develop into frogs) and none of them has a penis.”

    The male birds have penises and the female vaginas. You even have insects who fertilize the eggs this way. Your tomato plant requires a bee to come along and cross pollinate its flower. No, the tadpoles don’t have penises, but the frogs do.

    “If I have missed your logic then please state it in proper logical terms.”

    I don’t know how better to state it. I find it difficult to see how a creature could develop gradually when there are many things that are required. I cannot see how the universe could have simply popped up as compacted matter and suddenly started rapidly expanding all by itself. Some here accuse me of talking magic when referring to a creator, but this seems even more magical.

    “I want to add that you’ve been a great sport on this topic and have responded to criticisms maturely and reasonably. despite not agreeing with you I must say that I respect how you’re conducting yourself.”

    Thank you I appreciate that and I must add that I have enjoyed your well thought out responses as well as others on this board. BTW, a couple here have suddenly decided to label me as a creationist. I find that frustrating but understandable. I was once a Christian, but have found lots of evidence that has shown me that it is man-made. Unfortunately, it has not been so easy to find the evidence in evolution or the beginnings of universe and life to find natural explanations. I actually must admit that I find it somewhat amusing to be called a creationist since I get so annoyed with them trying to have “Bible Science” taught in the schools since the Bible was written by man without any God dictating what was written. Evidence is so overwhelming that the earth is billions of years old but they try to convince everyone that it really is only around 5000 years old and everything in the Bible is literally true including Noah’s ark. What floors me is that such intelligent people fall for this nonsense. I had an ex physicist who was our outside contractor, a super intelligent man, start talking to me about religion. From what he was saying, I quickly asked him if he was a creationist. He answered yes.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    People,
    I am not a CREATIONIST. I am merely frustrated that science has not been able to provide evidence how the universe came about by chance and how life could have started by itself or how higher forms of animals could have survived with just a respiratory system or a circulatory system when it appears that you need all of the following systems all at once: digestion, elimination, respiration, circulation, a brain, a flap to close off the passageway to the lungs to prevent food from entering when you swallow, and reproduction. Also, how did we get a separate male and female with all their specially developed reproduction systems all at once? Also, how could the universe have started by itself? Someone said that you can’t base answers on religion. I wasn’t. I have found all sorts of evidence that the Bible is man-made. There was no deity involved. My hypothesis for the need of a creator or based on what I see and are mine alone. Also, if there really is a creator, it certainly is nothing like the petty God described in the Old Testament and the belief that we simply get one chance to either go to heaven or hell makes no sense at all. Buddhism philosophy which states that you keep coming back until you get it right makes more sense. BTW, Jesus stated to the people that they must repent and prepare for the coming Kingdom. Why would he say that if it was going to happen millenniums later. It wasn’t supposed to be that way. Jesus told the people that there would be some of them still standing there when his Father arrived in glory in his Kingdom. It was supposed to happen during the lifetime of the people Jesus was preaching to. Since it did not, I can only conclude that Jesus was simply another failed prophet. This is only one case, I can give a whole lot more but will save that till another time.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    http://www.livescience.com/animals/060609_life_origin.html

    Ok, here is one scientist’s attemped to figure out how life started, but other scientists disagree.

  • Hitch

    “I am merely frustrated that science has not been able to provide evidence how the universe came about by chance”

    No credible scientists says this. This is a strawman that is promoted by creationists.

    A scientist is simply open about aspects we do not yet understand. There is lots we do not understand. For example we do not understand fine detail of combustion engines. Hence we still have ways to improve and understand better.

    The universe is no different. We simply do not know enough. That is an honest stance.

    Why can you live with not knowing all about combustion engines but you absolutely have to know about the beginning of it all?

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Why can’t one look at a situation like something coming from nothing and reason what could be the answer?

    What are you basing that reasoning on? Where is the evidence that supports your reasoning?

    I feel my creator hypothesis could be an answer

    I agree that it is your feelings here that leads you to state your hypothesis. A desire for it to be so.

    just wish that some would not jump on it as wishful thinking or false since science cannot find evidence for it.

    What would you call it if someone put forward an idea that had absolutely no basis in evidence? Wishful thinking is one of the more polite terms that I can think of.

    If science does succeed it, might help to answer a lot of questions. I wonder, though, if it will disprove the need for a creator. A friend of mine claims that science is getting closer to producing life. We shall see. Should prove to be very interesting. If you find them, send me links to those utube videos. I would like to see them.

    You’re a bit behind. Scientists have created artificial cells already that can reproduce. In one sense this is life…well enough for the tabloids to call it life anyway. 😉

    As for disproving a creator I would say that this isn’t the job of science. A creator is already a failed hypothesis in that there is no evidence to support it. Why bother to disprove something that has failed?

    Funny, in the past I have argued here that to take the stance of an atheist, saying “I don’t believe in a creator” also, like Theism, takes Faith since we can neither prove or disprove the possibility of a creator. I know you disagree.

    I do. Theism and atheism are non-specific opinions. On their own they don’t say anything other than that you hold an opinion. Belief in a creator is faith because you are making a positive claim about reality without supporting evidence. Scepticism towards that claim is not faith because no counter claim has been made.

    I’m not so sure that a creator isn’t necessary.

    Then you should be able to demonstrate the necessity of a creator.

    I never suggested how the creator did it, did I. You are simply going one step further.

    As well as being facetious.

    It doesn’t, but it does provide a possible answer to the question how it all started.

    Except that it doesn’t. It just adds a layer to the question that is unnecessary and confusing.

    You are right that my guess isn’t based on any evidence, but I think your are wrong when you say based on desire. I am actually basing it on the fact that I cannot come to any other conclusion. Also, I am ultimately looking for the TRUTH.

    I also cannot come up with an answer and I really want to know the truth as well. Obviously not that much or I’d have studied harder and gone into physics rather than engineering but that’s irrelevant. The difference is that I prefer to not have an answer than to have an answer that is made up. You are making up an answer (or adopting one from the popular opinion of the day) in place of an answer and I don’t think it helps.

    Unfortunately, I have pretty much the same problem as the scientist, I don’t have the evidence and neither do they, but that is no reason not to try to come up with a possible answer, and, who knows, I could be onto something.

    Except that they do have evidence and are trying to figure out what it means.

    What it adds to our understanding of the universe is that it didn’t come about by chance, but was started by a creator. Essentially, the question answered is how did it all begin?

    A quantum vacuum and rapid expansion model doesn’t say that the universe came about by chance either. Also I maintain that evoking a creator doesn’t explain how it all began either.

    You need more than a lung though. You are forgetting that you need digestion, elimination, respiration, circulation, reproduction, a brain etc, all at once. What are the odds of that happening by chance?

    How many of these things do single celled organisms have? What you need for life is a chemical factory and a process of reproduction. Amino acids and protein molecules are nearly all you need. After that the formation of more complex functions comes about by evolution and natural selection.

    If you are looking to evolution for how life started then you’re looking in the wrong place. Evolution starts with existing life and explores how it changes over time. You want to look at abiogenesis. Wikipedia has a short description and links to sites and articles that might help.

    The male birds have penises and the female vaginas. You even have insects who fertilize the eggs this way. Your tomato plant requires a bee to come along and cross pollinate its flower. No, the tadpoles don’t have penises, but the frogs do.

    Sorry but most male birds have no external sex organs also frogs don’t engage in penetrative sex as the male fertilises eggs as they are released.

    Yes flowing plants do make use of insect to carry their reproductive matter to other plants but that isn’t penetrative sex involving a penis and vagina. At least not in anyway that I’ve done it.

    I don’t know how better to state it. I find it difficult to see how a creature could develop gradually when there are many things that are required. I cannot see how the universe could have simply popped up as compacted matter and suddenly started rapidly expanding all by itself.

    Now this is an argument form incredulity (argument from ignorance) and I think that it is important that you recognise that. “I don’t know” is a wonderful and entirely accurate answer. I know that I use it all the time. It is better than making up an answer.

    a couple here have suddenly decided to label me as a creationist.

    Some of your answers are classic creationist responses. I’d blame the sorry state of your nations decentralised education system for that but then I’d be inviting criticism of my own nation’s example too. So I won’t. 🙂

    Unfortunately, it has not been so easy to find the evidence in evolution or the beginnings of universe and life to find natural explanations.

    When schools boards remove information about evolution from books and public libraries refuse to stock them then who can blame you. There are resources available though. Perhaps Hemant or someone on the forum can produce a list of good resources for the budding investigator. I’ll certainly raise it on the forum.

    What floors me is that such intelligent people fall for this nonsense.

    They aren’t given any alternatives though so it is hardly surprising. What gets me is that they retain thee beliefs even when presented with the evidence that they have been denied.

  • Aj

    Wayne Dunlap,

    or how higher forms of animals could have survived with just a respiratory system or a circulatory system when it appears that you need all of the following systems all at once: digestion, elimination, respiration, circulation, a brain, a flap to close off the passageway to the lungs to prevent food from entering when you swallow, and reproduction.Also, how did we get a separate male and female with all their specially developed reproduction systems all at once?

    Are you going to commit the same fallacy over and over again? The exact same one of the creationists who subscribe to Intelligent Design theory. Completely unsupported assertions about systems, to have evolved all at once. You simply do not know, but you can’t admit that you don’t know. That we don’t know doesn’t lend credence to any fanciful conclusions you can imagine, either random chance or a magic man. Natural selection is not random chance. The only logical position you should take when you are ignorant is to acknowledge that you are.

    p.s. There are evolutionary models of digestion, respiration, circulation, and excretion, evolving from one one system. Do nematodes need all these to survive? They have something like a brain, a digestive system, and excretion. There are also models of how sexual reproductive could have evolved, more than one competing hypothesis in fact. They also don’t require systems to spring out of no where “all at once”, nothing in evolution does this. Natural selection provides us with many explanations of things we have lots of evidence for, and none of them follow your suggested pattern. Before they were explained however, people like you were crying the same illogical nonsense.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Hoverfrog,
    I’m afraid we are going around in circles. We essentially have opposite beliefs. I have tried to explain that this what I believe based on what I see and not because I desire it so, but you won’t accept that. That’s OK. I may not entirely agree with everything you have said but I do understand some of your thinking and it has caused me to look at alternative hypothesis. PS gave me one and I have checked out your abiogenesis site. I see many hypotheses there, but like me nothing concrete as far as I can see, but definitely something to pursue. Thank you.
    I will have to see if I can find something on line about the artificial cells scientists have created that reproduce.
    You can’t call a creator a failed hypothesis when there is no evidence to disprove it. Nor has science showed how everything started by itself without a creator.
    You state that scientists do have the evidence and are trying to figure out what it means. I’d like to see that evidence. I have seen a number of hypothesis mentioned, but nothing concrete when it comes to the beginning of life and one when it comes to something coming from nothing.
    “What you need for life is a chemical factory and a process of reproduction. Amino acids and protein molecules are nearly all you need. After that the formation of more complex functions comes about by evolution and natural selection.”
    That’s what I read, but even so, still cannot figure out how we could have ended up with a separate male and female and all those required systems, all by chance.
    I believe I stand corrected. I never realized male birds did not have penises. I forgot that male frogs fertilize the eggs as they come out of the female. Still pretty hard to believe that we have two sexes all at once.
    I agree that some of my responses overlap with what creationists are saying. That is why I said I wasn’t surprised.
    If you don’t mind me asking, what nation are you from?
    “What gets me is that they retain thee beliefs even when presented with the evidence that they have been denied.”

    I believe the reason for this is the desire for continuation of consciousness after death. I knew a really intelligent outside contractor at work who was an ex physicist. He told me that he was having some bad times and that a creationist group managed to pull him out of it. That is why he became a creationist even though he was a physicist.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Hitch,
    Thank you for the explanation of Quantum mechanics and big bang matter and anti-matter.
    Wayne

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Hitch,

    You seem to have a good handle on quantum mechanics. Can you please explain how nothing can be something, i.e., how matter could have appeared out of nothing to then expand rapidly in the big bang?

  • SCOTT

    I find it difficult to connect with atheists in intellectual conversation on the matter of faith. Since atheism completely lacks metaphysical content. It is quite 2 dimensional. Aside from that the fact that it is built on negation and holds no constructive content, really adds to the inability to converse.
    Seems atheists are either afraid of mystery or maybe do not seek to have mystery revealed.
    My atheist friends just seem to not see the need of faith. They are to busy being distracted by whatever catches their eye in the moment. It is just much deeper than that.
    They don’t really bother me otherwise. The name callers, by default, lose the argument from the outset. We all know that when that starts, it is because the argument is lost or frustrated.

  • p.s.

    scott:
    “I find it difficult to connect with atheists in intellectual conversation on the matter of faith. Since atheism completely lacks metaphysical content. It is quite 2 dimensional. Aside from that the fact that it is built on negation and holds no constructive content, really adds to the inability to converse.”

    science isn’t constructive? reason and logic isn’t constructive? Thats what atheism is built on. I think skepticism is very constructive.

    “Seems atheists are either afraid of mystery or maybe do not seek to have mystery revealed.”

    what? atheists love mystery! we want to investigate it constantly! People who convert from a religion to atheism usually are drawn to disbelief by healthy curiosity. yaaaay science!

    “My atheist friends just seem to not see the need of faith. They are to busy being distracted by whatever catches their eye in the moment. It is just much deeper than that.”

    why is faith necessary? what makes faith different from any other emotion? why is it deeper?

    also, way to totally not resort to name calling by generalizing atheists as easily distracted and apathetic. Thats nice.

  • p.s.

    wayne:
    if you are not a creationist, stop using creationist arguments that are only based on your own ignorance of what evidence actually exists. Seriously, google and wikipedia. They won’t give you everything, but its a start.

    If your looking for science to give a definite “this is why things are the way they are for sure” you aren’t going to get that. You will get wonderful theories and experiments, but science hardly ever says anything with absolute certainty. However, these theories should provide reasons why a creator is not completely necessary. As someone mentioned before, skepticism is not faith. as a theist, you are free to believe in whatever god(s) you want. we, as atheists, are free to be skeptical when you assert your beliefs as a legitimate claim.

    Also, when you say “I don’t know for sure, but clearly its the only way” you are giving us a conflicting statement. do you not know, or do you think its the only way?

  • p.s.

    Scott:
    sorry, forgot about that metaphysical thing.
    what is metaphysics? how would you define it?
    why is it outside of scientific inquiry?
    if you are referring to “spirit” how can you objectively say that a spirit exists? how can you say for certain that it isn’t subconscious wishful thinking? Is it some sort of energy? science can investigate energy, why is there no evidence for it? if it isn’t energy, how can it interact with the physical world?

  • Hitch

    Wayne, check out Roger Penrose Before the Big Bang on YouTube.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    AJ,
    Yes, that is the problem. I am ignorant. I have read many books on evolution. I understand about gradual changes over time, but I just simply do not get how an animal can exist without all the systems all at once. If you or anyone out there has some sources that better explain this, I would like to hear them. The difference between me and the creationists is that I am not trying to sell the Biblical account of creation. I have questions and I have a feeling that someone here has the answers. Thanks for the account of nematodes. I will try to find out more. But, I have a feeling that they have all the systems I mentioned, though probably at a lower development. Still, if they have all of these systems, how the heck did they come about all at once?

  • Wayne Dunlap

    p.s.,
    Like I told aj, I am ignorant.
    I have read many books on evolution. I understand about gradual changes over time, but I just simply do not get how an animal can exist without all the systems all at once, and find it hard to believe that all these systems could appear at once. If you or anyone out there has some sources that better explain this, I would like to hear them. I’m not arguing that this is the case, only that I have looked and have not found the answer.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Hitch,
    “Wayne, check out Roger Penrose Before the Big Bang on YouTube.”

    Thanks Hitch, I will do that.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Hitch,
    I listened to Roger Penrose Before the Big Bang. Pretty wild because he is now declaring that there were multiple big bangs.

  • Hitch

    Pretty cool. It’s but one of many posibilites.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    http://www.physorg.com/news126955971.html
    Just another of many hypothesis of how the Universe started. Funny, initially scientists stated that you should look to religion for the answer. Some here have suggested that I should simply say I don’t know how it started rather than speculating that it could be a creator, but it looks like scientists are doing it, and since they can’t all be right, it can’t all be from evidence. They, like me must be speculating as well.

  • Aj

    Wayne Dunlap,

    I understand about gradual changes over time, but I just simply do not get how an animal can exist without all the systems all at once.

    No one knows the answer to how everything evolved. Science is hard. No one scientist can give an account of every single model of evolution that all scientists have contributed to science. New models are being suggested all the time. Some times there are multiple competing models of evolution for the same problem.

    At one point, there was no model to how the eye evolved, or the now famous flagellum. Was it logical to suggest a creator was the only viable explanation before these models were discovered? No, but that didn’t stop creationists using the argument that because we don’t know there must have been a creator.

    Logically we must be open to all possibilities, especially the ones we’re not intelligent or imaginative enough to come up with. When we can only think of one viable option, it is illogical to think that it is the only option, thus the right option. It is much more likely a symptom of our own fallibility. History tells us that simple revolutionary ideas escaped even the greatest minds for millennia.

    Only when we can reliably support our hypotheses with empirical evidence is it reasonable to assume a theory is correct within the confidence the quality of evidence provides. Even then we ask that people try to falsify our theories, try to reproduce our findings, and criticize our methodology.

    Intelligent Design theory is pseudo-science, it is not falsifiable, it’s unnecessary, and uses in its explanation something much more complex than which it is used to explain.

    If you or anyone out there has some sources that better explain this, I would like to hear them.

    On the evolution of sexual reproduction, I have not read much, but I respect the authors that have written these books:

    John Maynard Smith, The Evolution of Sex
    Matt Ridly, The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature

    For general evolution:

    Jerry Coyne, Why Evolution is True
    Richard Dawkins, The Great Show on Earth

    They go over the evidence for evolution. For example hidden histories of alternate functions and origins of anatomy, and legacies left behind such as the recurrent laryngeal nerve.

    Thanks for the account of nematodes. I will try to find out more. But, I have a feeling that they have all the systems I mentioned, though probably at a lower development.

    Sponges have one less system than the nematodes. They also do not have digestive or circulatory systems, but further they lack a nervous system.

    Still, if they have all of these systems, how the heck did they come about all at once?

    If they came about at once from evolution they would have co-evolved from simpler systems or been used for different purposes but then adapted to work together, that’s how other complex systems came about. You haven’t given a reason why they had to come about all at once. If you think they’re “irreducibly complex” then that’s just an argument from ignorance. I don’t think you have a genuine reason to believe they did all evolve at once.

  • Aj

    Wayne Dunlap,

    Some here have suggested that I should simply say I don’t know how it started rather than speculating that it could be a creator, but it looks like scientists are doing it, and since they can’t all be right, it can’t all be from evidence. They, like me must be speculating as well.

    That’s such a blatant misrepresentation of what people have said in these comments. No one is against speculation. Fact is people have been referencing such speculation of alternative possibilities throughout the comments. Admitting you don’t know does not stop people from speculating. Speculating, creating hypotheses, is how science is started.

    You certainly weren’t engaged in speculation. You said that there was only one viable answer. That’s a claim that you know the answer. You were trying, and failing, to use logic to prove the logical need for the existence of a creator. You started with the origin of the universe, then the origin of life, and now you’re using the same logical fallacies for the origins of specific anatomy.

    I’m regretting writing my long replies more and more, you’re either not capable of comprehending most people’s posts here, or you’re being deliberately dishonest i.e. trolling.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Aj,
    What I said is based on the following comments. I didn’t misrepresent it. I didn’t say there was only one viable answer, I said it APPEARED that there was only one. Now I am finding all sorts of scientific hypothesis. Since they can’t all be right, it is doubtful that they are all made based on evidence.

    “We don’t know the answer. You’re inventing an answer. The point being that a reasonable answer would be one based on evidence. You have none and that makes it extremely unlikely that your claim is true
    No. A supernatural being is simply adding another unknown onto an existing unknown. Why can’t you just leave it at ‘unknown’ and be satisfied
    I find it irritating when people make claims that they can’t back up with evidence. You don’t know what caused the Big Bang. I don’t know. Nobody knows. We’re mired in ignorance on this particular question. We don’t make claims out of ignorance”

    Note that the author states that I shouldn’t make claims out of ignorance. And further suggests I should be satisfied with “I don’t know.” I of course don’t agree and have suggested that scientists do it all the time.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    aj,
    I have been going back and forth with this individual trying to explain that I feel that matter cannot appear from nothing because you need a cause and since there can be no cause when you have nothing, a supernatural being appears to be a possible answer. No, I do not have evidence, but that doesn’t stop me from using reason. It appears that scientists do just that all the time. That is why I included the hypothesis of 2 universes colliding to prove my point.

  • Wayne, I agree that we’re going round in circles. I might comment further about specific misconceptions but otherwise I think I’ll leave it here. There are a couple of threads from this topic now on the forum if you’re interested.

    If you don’t mind me asking, what nation are you from?

    I don’t mind. I’m English.

  • Aj

    Wayne Dunlap,

    What I said is based on the following comments. I didn’t misrepresent it. I didn’t say there was only one viable answer, I said it APPEARED that there was only one. Now I am finding all sorts of scientific hypothesis. Since they can’t all be right, it is doubtful that they are all made based on evidence.

    One of my first replies to you mentioned that Hawkings was speculating. Hypotheses are speculation, that’s how science starts, it’s not how science ends. Actually you said “appears valid” not “appears to be the only”:

    Therefore, the only viable answer that appears valid is that there had to a be a supernatural force as that cause.

    I stated that when there is no other viable answer, a supernatural one can be a possibility.

    I submit to you that the only way around this problem is a supernatural being outside of space and time.

    Are these not your words? They seem to contradict what you are saying now.

    Note that the author states that I shouldn’t make claims out of ignorance. And further suggests I should be satisfied with “I don’t know.” I of course don’t agree and have suggested that scientists do it all the time.

    You should not make claims out of ignorance. That is not speculation. You should be satisfied with “I don’t know”. That doesn’t mean “I will never know”, “I shouldn’t try to find out”, or “I shouldn’t come up with possibilities”. You are completely misrepresenting what that person said.

    It appears that scientists do just that all the time. That is why I included the hypothesis of 2 universes colliding to prove my point.

    No one here has a problem with speculation. Science supported by evidence started out as speculation. Claiming that there can be only one answer because you can’t think of any thing else is not speculation, it’s a logical fallacy.

  • p.s.

    wayne:
    “Since they can’t all be right, it is doubtful that they are all made based on evidence.”

    I’m not sure which theories you are referring to here since the ones mentioned in this thread all have some sort of evidence supporting them (except maybe string theory, but that is actively being investigated. There are alot of people who say it shouldn’t be classified as a theory, but rather a mathematical model, or even abandoned completely. science is hard, it may take a while). evidence can be interpreted in a bunch of different ways. Thats why we are always looking for new evidence to add a different perspective to our perception of the world. Here is how we see your reasoning:
    say there is an invisible line on a piece of paper. There is one point visible, and we want to know about the rest of the line. You are randomly trying to draw lines centered around that one point with no reason to believe it’s the right one. sure, it could be, but there are almost an infinite number of possibilities and it seems like a pointless exercise to just randomly guess until you get it right. science is busy investigating all of the smudges on the paper to see if they hide a second point from which we can make our line. there will be conflicting opinions about where the point is, or whether or not the first point is even a point (haha, welcome to the matrix) but hopefully with enough examination, we can figure it out.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    AJ,

    “No one here has a problem with speculation. Science supported by evidence started out as speculation. Claiming that there can be only one answer because you can’t think of any thing else is not speculation, it’s a logical fallacy.”

    OK, I stand corrected. At the time there didn’t appear to be any other hypothesis. I mistakenly based that on someone here stating that nobody knows. However, then someone brought up the hypothesis of Quantum Theory that nothing can be something. Someone else brought up a hypothesis of multiple big bangs and I found one on collision of two universes. So, let me clarify that I believe that a creator could very well be one of a number of possibilities. And, if matter appeared from nothing, I feel my hypothesis is one of the better ones. Quantum Mechanics I find fascinating, but find it a bit hard to latch onto and say, yes this could definitely be the answer. It seems a bit extraordinary. Oh, and I agree that I should have worded it differently. Instead of only possible answer, appears to be the best answer.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    p.s.,

    “I’m not sure which theories you are referring to here since the ones mentioned in this thread all have some sort of evidence supporting them (except maybe string theory, but that is actively being investigated.”
    The best one was the one you presented, Quantum Mechanics in which nothing could be something. I remember reading something like that years ago. Fascinating but seems a bit extraordinary. Someone else gave me the hypothesis that there were multiple big bangs during the development of our universe. I found one that hypothesized that our universe was produced by a collision of two universes. I noticed others but didn’t check them out. You mentioned that the ones mentioned on the board have evidence. I know there is evidence for quantum mechanics at the microscopic level, but is there really evidence for nothing being something?
    Science speculation of how something happened has the ability to use reason, whereas trying to locate an invisible dot is operating completely blind.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    hoverfrog,
    “Wayne, I agree that we’re going round in circles.”
    Even so, I really enjoyed our discussion.

    ” I’m English.”
    Cool! I thought you were, but wasn’t positive.

    If you have time check out my friend’s blog
    http://thebelievingagnostic.blogspot.com/

    He was an atheist, but has become a Christian. He calls himself a believing agnostic because he strongly believes in Christianity, but admits that he can’t prove Christianity is correct or even if there is a God. Funny, we are on opposite ends because I feel that Christianity is man-made.

  • p.s.

    wayne:
    As far as I understand it, the quantum events we observe are a result of something called quantum foam (or “something from nothing” as you insist on calling it). Like I said, evidence can be interpreted in many ways. For the most part, all these different theories are using very similar data. We do not have all the pieces yet, but that doesn’t mean we should discredit the scientific approach. You say that quantum mechanics is “extraordinary”. well, thats your opinion and really means nothing scientifically. I think that a creator is much more extraordinary than anything that has been suggested by myself and others here. But again, thats only my opinion. maybe someday there will be something to prove me wrong.

    as to the dot issue: none of your approaches to this problem has been scientific. that was my point. you are just randomly drawing lines. science is saying that even though the dot is invisible at the moment, maybe we can find it a different way. maybe the dot emits some sort of heat or energy, maybe its visible in a different spectra, maybe the dot we can see is actually two dots very very close together that we can use to draw a line, maybe there is a dot hiding under a smudge, maybe the second dot is on a different piece of paper. Yes, we are searching blind, but we can use other tools besides our eyes. you seem to be insisting that we can’t hear because we are blind.

  • Aj

    Wayne Dunlap,

    Oh, and I agree that I should have worded it differently. Instead of only possible answer, appears to be the best answer.

    That would be perfectly acceptable. Now that we have gotten past this fundamental element of logic, I can address more specifically your claims.

    Is a supernatural intelligent agency a good explanation? It can be used to explain virtually everything in our universe, including our origins. Supernatural agency has been used to explain virtually everything by the religious until the real explanation was found. We are psychologically biased towards assuming agency. However much of what was once explained by supernatural agency, has now be explained by natural phenomena through science. Does something that can explain everything correctly or incorrectly, explain anything? I don’t think so, that’s certainly not my understanding of the meaning of “explain”.

    What is the benefit of explaining something by an agent over another explanation apart from satisfying your evolved psychological bias? Answering because they were purposely made that way for the intended goal of whatever has happened is certainly an answer. I feel as if it’s lacking, it’s not a complete answer. If you wanted to know how someone travelled to you, perhaps you would ask a question: “How did you get here?” I doubt you would accept the answer: “I intended to, therefore I am.” In this context, like questions of the origin of the universe, an explanation requires the process not intentional stance. As explained above, supernatural “explanations” don’t cut the mustard, it’s the equivalent of saying: “something that can do anything, did something.”

    Absurdity is also a problem with positing a creator. An intelligence without a brain is meaningless, it’s completely alien to our experience. The only intelligence we know about evolved, or was made by us and we are very kind in calling it artificial “intelligence”. Through science we know our intelligence is a product of the brain, itself a product of evolution, itself a product of natural laws. The only intelligence we know of is a product of temporal processes. An intelligence outside of time and space is as meaningless as the Invisible Pink Unicorn.

    What about Occam’s razor? The simplest explanation is usually the correct one. An intelligent agent that could create the universe and know how it would develop has to be extremely complex, more complex than the universe itself. How do you then intend to explain that extremely complex intelligence? Perhaps with something even more complex, an even more intelligent creator. Every time a creator is posited as an explanation it’s just creating an additional step that needs to be explained. Perhaps the creator is the one thing that doesn’t need a cause, the one thing that is eternal? If that was a valid explanation why not apply it to the universe itself, leaving a simpler explanation by eliminating unnecessary elements?

  • Wayne Dunlap

    P.S.,
    I can understand you trying to find answers scientifically first, however, like I said before, science can only do so much. I find it amusing that many atheists here treat the suggestion of a creator to be the equivalent of a boogie man or fairy. Maybe it is due to a vestige of my former Christian upbringing, but I feel a creator is a possibility. I have to admit that I had to chuckle when I got labeled as a creationist since I find it incredulous that anyone, in spite of the all the evidence that the earth is billions of years old, could still claim that it was only around 5000 years old because of “evidence” from the Bible. Incidentally, I have already presented the argument on this board on another question about finding it hard to explain the ability of higher forms of animals to exist without all the systems we possess, therefore stating that just maybe a creator was somehow involved. Nobody batted an eye nor did they jump my bones and call me a creationist. Though I consider a creator a possibility, I don’t pursue it as a given and am open to other suggestions. I like your dot example. I hadn’t thought about it emitting a sound. Reminds me of the attempt to determine where an electron might be at any particular point in time.
    My friend recently started a blog called the Believing Agnostic. He used to be an atheist, but has turned to Christianity. He is a believer first, but admits that he has no proof. Still, he has been trying to convince me that life is better accepting his “loving God”. I have been trying to convince him that atheists are happy too. Two from the friendly atheist blog, Autumal Harvest and P.Coyle have been frequent posters there. My friend is an eloquent writer. If you can find the time, check it out and maybe leave a comment. http://thebelievingagnostic.blogspot.com/

  • p.s.

    wayne,
    I believe people started calling you a creationists when you used creationist arguments, such as using the compatibility of reproductive organs, and various biological systems as proof of the necessity of a creator. again, as either hitch or aj or mike mentioned (not sure which) there are organisms without certain “necessary” organs. “higher” animals, as you call them, could easily evolve from these animals. You don’t seem skeptical of evolution, so that is a valid argument to you, yes? and it doesn’t involve a creator 🙂 also, look at the appendix! an organ that once has “necessary” but was then not needed. hooray for evolution! Maybe it is just your wording, and maybe the last time you expressed these views you sounded more reasonable.

    “I find it amusing that many atheists here treat the suggestion of a creator to be the equivalent of a boogie man or fairy.”

    well, how is it different exactly? you have no proof that boogie men or fairies don’t exist, and I find it to be the best explanation for children’s nightmares and grass being pushed out of the ground. Maybe the boogie man and a fairy had sex and gave birth to the universe.

    If you liked my dot example, do you see why no one here will give your “theories” any credence? you are randomly searching for a line without any method. There is no reason to believe your line is the right one.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Aj
    “What about Occam’s razor? The simplest explanation is usually the correct one. An intelligent agent that could create the universe and know how it would develop has to be extremely complex, more complex than the universe itself.”
    This is a very good argument, however, realize that Occam’s razor states that the simplest answer is USUALLY, the correct one. So, it doesn’t necessarily nullify the creator answer. Funny, but, in a sense, a creator may actually be the simplest answer since it is a lot easier than explaining how something could come from nothing or how life could have started. Yeah, yeah, I know, the creator would have to be very complex, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a complicated answer.
    “Perhaps the creator is the one thing that doesn’t need a cause, the one thing that is eternal? If that was a valid explanation why not apply it to the universe itself, leaving a simpler explanation by eliminating unnecessary elements?”

    I admit that the only real way of getting around it is to state that, perhaps, the creator was always here. And, yes, you make a valid point, perhaps the universe was always here or at least that original mass that expanded into it. I only suggested something from nothing because a number of top physicists felt that that is what happened. Want to hear something funny? I have, at times, tried to imagine NOTHING, and admit that it blows my mind and I find it hard to accept that there was once nothing.

    “. An intelligence outside of time and space is as meaningless as the Invisible Pink Unicorn.”

    Well, if there is nothing, where else would this supernatural being be? Also, I submit that this being maybe some sort of intellectual force rather than material.

    “If you wanted to know how someone travelled to you, perhaps you would ask a question: “How did you get here?” I doubt you would accept the answer: “I intended to, therefore I am.”
    I’m being a bit tongue in cheek, but this answer would not seem so unusual if you were talking about Quantum Mechanics. However, with the creator hypothesis, I am merely stating that it seems a bit more plausible than the existing scientific hypothesis, but not necessarily the correct answer. I still await the scientific answer. However, as much as you want to bet on science, a creator may still exist. And you are correct that many things have been credited to a creator only to have science find a natural explanation. But will we ever be able to determine what happened one second before the big bang or at the beginning of the first life forms? If not, that will be unfortunate because what happen will always remain a mystery. I leave you with this. Even if science, without a doubt, proved that there is no creator, there will still be numerous people who will refuse to believe it.
    A friend of mine recently started The Believing Agnostic blog. He used to be an atheist, but now believes in a loving God. I have found numerous evidence that Christianity is man-made so I have pretty much argued against his loving God as mere speculation. Over here, I’m told that belief in a creator is
    like believing fairies. My friend suggests that those believing in God are much happier than atheists. I have tried to counter that argument. If you find the time, check out blog and leave a comment. He would really appreciate it. He is an extremely eloquent writer. The blog is
    http://thebelievingagnostic.blogspot.com/

  • Wayne Dunlap

    P.S,
    Yeah, my argument did sound similar to the Creationist argument and I can understand why some here would jump on it. I admit that I have jumped on true creationist arguments from time to time. Yes I know that the appendix is no longer required and was the result of natural selection. Funny, I can look at evolution and imagine that it was due to a creator experimenting until it got it right. Atheists will argue that evolution could not be due to an all knowing God because, over the years, only 1% of this life has survived. I submit that a creator could very well not be all knowing and, like us, would have to experiment until it got it right.
    You mention that certain organisms survived without some of the systems we have. I will have to look into that, however, I would think that digestion and elimination would have to be both there plus the ability to reproduce. I’m not so sure that you can eliminate respiration/circulation though.
    True, most on this board will not give my hypothesis any credence, but you do realize that the atheists on this board are in the vast minority. And though there may be no reason to believe my line is right, I submit that there is no reason to suggest it is wrong either. It is simply one of a number of lines to choose from.

  • Aj

    Wayne Dunlap,

    This is a very good argument, however, realize that Occam’s razor states that the simplest answer is USUALLY, the correct one. So, it doesn’t necessarily nullify the creator answer. Funny, but, in a sense, a creator may actually be the simplest answer since it is a lot easier than explaining how something could come from nothing or how life could have started. Yeah, yeah, I know, the creator would have to be very complex, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a complicated answer.

    I think logically it does necessarily make it a complicated answer. Invoking a concept into an answer adds the concept’s complexity to the answer. People only think it’s simple because they haven’t tried comprehending it. This is something that’s more complex than the universe. Instead of comprehending the answer people project their own intelligence and agency on to the creator, which is very easy for the human brain, but completely meaningless to the answer.

    Well, if there is nothing, where else would this supernatural being be? Also, I submit that this being maybe some sort of intellectual force rather than material.

    I don’t think the sentence you quoted makes much sense outside the context of its paragraph. I was saying that intelligence as far as we know requires time and space to operate. That’s how the only model of intelligence we have works. We can apply agency to natural phenomena by agents that do not exist as matter, but the agents remain incomprehensible.As I suggested agency can be applied where it is meaningless, as we can apply attributes like pink to invisible creatures.

    However, with the creator hypothesis, I am merely stating that it seems a bit more plausible than the existing scientific hypothesis, but not necessarily the correct answer. I still await the scientific answer. However, as much as you want to bet on science, a creator may still exist. And you are correct that many things have been credited to a creator only to have science find a natural explanation. But will we ever be able to determine what happened one second before the big bang or at the beginning of the first life forms? If not, that will be unfortunate because what happen will always remain a mystery.

    a) I don’t think you have made a case why you think a creator is more plausible.

    b) I don’t deny the possibility of a creator.

    c) It doesn’t make sense to talk about 1 second before time began. Hawking describes this as asking for a point “south of the south pole”.

    d) I don’t think we will ever know how life originated but I think we will be able to create a working simulated model, and even experiments, of how life can originate from non-life.

  • p.s.

    True, most on this board will not give my hypothesis any credence, but you do realize that the atheists on this board are in the vast minority. And though there may be no reason to believe my line is right, I submit that there is no reason to suggest it is wrong either. It is simply one of a number of lines to choose from.

    >.< you are completely missing my point. yes, it is one of the lines to choose from. problem is, there are an infinite number of lines. There is no logical reasoning behind your choice. you are not attempting to find evidence and are dismissing even the possibility of evidence because "science cannot investigate the supernatural." you are randomly drawing a line and telling everyone that it is the best line for no reason at all. We aren't saying your choice wrong, but we are saying that you have no scientific, logical reason to pick that line. How can you possibly say it is the best?

    You mention that certain organisms survived without some of the systems we have. I will have to look into that, however, I would think that digestion and elimination would have to be both there plus the ability to reproduce. I’m not so sure that you can eliminate respiration/circulation though.”

    sponges. jelly fish. seriously, google and wikipedia. they are your friends.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sponge
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jellyfish#Anatomy

    Also, new question for you. Where does god come from? is it infinite? if you can except god as infinite (in time, at least), why can’t you accept the universe as infinite? why are you adding this extra layer? doesn’t that seem more complex than anything we have suggested? “its turtles all the way down”

    also, everything AJ is saying. 🙂

  • Wayne

    He calls himself a believing agnostic because he strongly believes in Christianity, but admits that he can’t prove Christianity is correct or even if there is a God. Funny, we are on opposite ends because I feel that Christianity is man-made.

    An agnostic theist is at least an honest opinion. Believers who claim to have proof of their faith are quite irritating. Especially when they refuse to expand on their claim and produce this “proof”.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Hoverfrog,
    “Believers who claim to have proof of their faith are quite irritating. Especially when they refuse to expand on their claim and produce this “proof”.

    I had another friend who stated that if he was wrong, both of us would die and that would be it, but if he was right, he would go to heaven and me to hell. The fallacy of his argument is that Christianity might not be the correct religion. Let’s face it, you tend to follow the religion of your parents.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    I had another friend who stated that if he was wrong, both of us would die and that would be it, but if he was right, he would go to heaven and me to hell. The fallacy of his argument is that Christianity might not be the correct religion.

    Pascal’s Wager. Pah! It has been so soundly defeated a million times over that it is a surprise that people still trot it out. The Atheist’s Wager is much more fun.

    Let’s face it, you tend to follow the religion of your parents.

    I don’t. My parents had no religion and I also don’t follow a religion.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    hoverfrog
    “Pascal’s Wager. ”
    Funny, at the time, I didn’t know about Pascal’s Wager. When I told an agnostic friend this story, he immediately mentioned Pascal’s Wager and I immediately thought he meant Blaise Pascal, the mathematician. 🙂

  • Wayne Dunlap

    P.S,
    “yes, it is one of the lines to choose from. problem is, there are an infinite number of lines.”
    You say there are infinite number of lines, but I submit to you that there are 2 main possibilities. Either there is a natural answer or a creator was responsible for the start of everything. I sense that you are simply hung up on “science is the only answer” which will not let you consider the supernatural. That is why you insist that I must have a scientific logical reason to suggest a creator. You ask “how can I logically say it is best”? I thought I explained that it is not logical for something to come from nothing because you need a cause and there cannot be a cause available when there is nothing. Quantum mechanics has been suggested, but it seems doubtful that it could be available when there is nothing. When there is nothing, were is the laws of quantum mechanics?
    “sponges. jelly fish. seriously, google and wikipedia. they are your friends. “
    Thank you, I will check it out.

    “Also, new question for you. Where does god come from? is it infinite? if you can except god as infinite (in time, at least), why can’t you accept the universe as infinite? why are you adding this extra layer? doesn’t that seem more complex than anything we have suggested? “its turtles all the way down”

    If I understand you correctly, you are suggesting that the universe always existed. Is that correct? If so, are you suggesting that there was no big bang or that the matter involved in the big bang has always existed? If so, then that could eliminate the necessity of a cause outside of space and time, i.e., a creator.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    AJ,
    “Instead of comprehending the answer people project their own intelligence and agency on to the creator, which is very easy for the human brain, but completely meaningless to the answer.”

    I will give you this. Saying a creator did it is the easy way out. But for you to say that it is completely meaningless, I have to disagree. I have explained a number of times that if we are looking at something coming from nothing, I find this hard to believe without a cause. Since you cannot get a cause from nothing and it is doubtful that the law of quantum mechanics can be in effect when there is nothing, I feel that a creator outside of space and time would be a strong possibility. How is this reasoning meaningless?
    Further, if there is nothing, then why is my suggestion, that this supernatural being might have to be outside of space and time because there is no space and time when there is nothing, fallacious?

    “It doesn’t make sense to talk about 1 second before time began.’
    I was merely using it as an expression. OK, let’s stick to producing something from nothing.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    P.S.,
    Sponges do not have nervous, digestive or circulatory systems. Instead, most rely on maintaining a constant water flow through their bodies to obtain food and oxygen and to remove wastes
    Jellyfish do not have specialized digestive, osmoregulatory, central nervous, respiratory, or circulatory systems. They digest using the gastrodermal lining of the gastrovascular cavity, where nutrients are absorbed. They do not need a respiratory system since their skin is thin enough that the body is oxygenated by diffusion.
    Jellyfish do not have a brain or central nervous system, but rather have a loose network of nerves, located in the epidermis, which is called a “nerve net.” A jellyfish detects various stimuli including the touch of other animals via this nerve net, which then transmits impulses both throughout the nerve net and around a circular nerve ring, through the rhopalial lappet, located at the rim of the jellyfish body, to other nerve cells.
    Thank you. This is very helpful. You also provided a possible explanation how something could come from nothing through quantum mechanics.
    These are all possible explanations that may not require a creator and gives me a better understanding how natural selection may have been able to bring about complex beings with all their required systems.

  • Aj

    Wayne Dunlap,

    I feel that a creator outside of space and time would be a strong possibility. How is this reasoning meaningless?

    Again, outside of the paragraph what you quoted doesn’t make much sense without the context. I was making the point that a creator of the universe is not a simple concept or easy to explain. Projecting your own intelligent and agency onto a creator is meaningless to the answer, because clearly a creator of the universe would not be an intelligence and agency like us temporal beings who evolved and are limited in many ways it could not be. A creator of the universe would be more complex than the universe itself.

    Your preference for a creator over other possibilities known or unknown, has been explained as an argument from ignorance fallacy to you many times. You don’t have a valid reason for calling it a strong possibility.

    Further, if there is nothing, then why is my suggestion, that this supernatural being might have to be outside of space and time because there is no space and time when there is nothing, fallacious?

    An intelligent being outside of time and space is absurd, as I have explained. Our only models of what intelligence is suggests it resides in the brain, it’s matter ruled by natural laws, actually needing time and space to exist. It’s like proposing an invisible creature that’s a bright shade of pink.

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Aj,
    Looks like we agree on some things and disagree on others. Let’s leave it there. Thank you so much. I really enjoyed our discussion immensely.

  • Wayne, that is correct. Blaise Pascal is the author of Pascal’s Wager. Proof that even smart people can make stupid arguments from time to time.

    Remember wikipedia and google are your friends (even if they are no substitute for a decent education).

  • p.s.

    wayne:
    saying there are only two choices is oversimplifying things. what if aliens did it? what if we are all living within something’s dreams? what if we are actually a computer game; sims MCXII or something like that? do all of those count as “natural?” I am not saying any of this is true, but I find it all as likely as a creator. there is no reason to believe any of it.

    I don’t think you have a firm grasp of what quantum mechanics is saying. I’m engineer, not a physicist, and I am not qualified to give you a good explanation. If you live anywhere near a university, send an email to one of the physics professors there and see if they will talk to you a little. Also, if you haven’t all ready, “the universe in a nutshell” is a fun read, although it mostly discusses string theory (I think, it’s been a while since I read it). There are so many theories outside of quantum, I don’t understand why you are only looking at one. That’s not what scientists do.

    I am not saying the universe has been around forever, I’m just wondering why your curiosity stops there if you believe in a creator. Why aren’t you asking where the creator came from?

    If you are referring to the multiple big bang theory that discribes big bangs after the birth of the universe, that is a theory about expansion, not about creation. We are fairly certain that the universe has expanded (and is still expanding today) but we don’t have the same certainty for creation. So part of the theory is widely accepted, the other part is widely contested.

    You have not given a reason why science cannot investigate the supernatural. You say it exists outside of space and time, but is somehow having an influence on the world. If it has an influence on our world, we should be able to investigate it. There are plenty of people “trying” (incidentally, I hate the show ghost hunters with a fiery passion) and all their attempts have failed or proven to be hoaxes.

    Look, I may have a limited understanding of all these scientific theories, but I do understand the method used to establish them. I am much more inclined to back a theory with a logical method behind it rather than wild speculation, which is all you have offered. How we come to a conclusion is important.

    you are tossing around alot of terms, and I’m not sure I understand your definition of them. could you please explain:
    nothing
    outside of space and time
    supernatural

    Another point. you would never know that space existed unless there was something in it. So what if the space *dimension* existed, but there was nothing in it until the big bang? same with time. I believe (again, I am not an authority) that alot of these theories say that the dimensional framework has always been there, but our universe has not.

  • plutosdad

    Wayne you may be interested in these books, which were just recommended to me. So far I’ve only read Paul Davies who is I think aligned with what you believe. But these would be arguments against Davies and others:

    Why (Almost All) Cosmologists are Atheists
    by Sean M. Carroll

    The Fallacy of Fine Tuning
    by Victor Stenger

  • Wayne Dunlap

    Aj,
    I agree that a creator of the universe is not a simple concept or easy to explain. We can’t really know anything about a creator. We can only speculate.
    To say our intelligence resides in the brain is indicates that you know something about a creator. If a creator exist, how would you know where its intellect lies?
    I understand your view and can relate to it. For now, I am sticking to the possibility that a creator is necessary.

  • Aj

    Wayne Dunlap,

    To say our intelligence resides in the brain is indicates that you know something about a creator.

    Not true, it indicates that I know something about intelligence. If you also said that the creator was a five sided square, I’d have problems with that too, but that wouldn’t suggest I know something about it.

    …We can’t really know anything about a creator. We can only speculate.
    If a creator exist, how would you know where its intellect lies?

    If an invisible unicorn exists, how would you know where its pinkness lies? Not all speculation makes sense. Asking “where” something “lies” in relation to something with no time, space, or matter seems like a nonsensical question. Intellect seems to require time and space, as far as our current understanding is concerned.

    For now, I am sticking to the possibility that a creator is necessary.

    Now that doesn’t even make a lick of sense. You’re sticking to the possibility?

  • Super Athiest

    What most atheist say that frustrates me are things like:
    They are rational, intelligent, smart, objective, impartial, and things like that. Most of those brothers and sisters are, to be kind, plain deaf and dumb to anything beyond their own ass. They say the words without it actually reflecting themselves, kind of like repeating the words of a song or advertisement.

    And then they go on and on about Christianity, not the really ridiculous religions like j*wism, islamics, or buddist, no just Christianity.
    That’s really a sad blight on the impartial objective rational atheist to only selectively discriminate against one other religion. Doesn’t sound very impartial and objective does it.

    Atheist do other stupid things like say “I don’t believe in organized religion”…who the hell are they fooling…the religion of atheism itself couldn’t be more organized if it were a stack of alphabetically arranged manilla folders.

    Every time I meet another proclaiming atheist it is like meeting a deformed clone of the last one. Grow up people.

    So those are a few of the things atheist say that frustrates me.

  • biskitool

    Thanks for all that, I feel like I know you better now. I vote for theism these days but that doesn’t mean much as I’m not that intelligent. I don’t feel any need to disabuse atheists of their views. If one asks me what I believe and why I’m happy to tell them but i can’t imagine any would. Can you?
    Oh yeah, I’m also antivaxx. See you all in hell 🙂

  • Seanster117

    ugggh I am Deaf atheist and you call us perfect? let’s see how come my speech isn’t perfect don’t be idiot atheist oh look at me I am rebel against you even though i am ex christian. sorry for being rude anyway but you got what it coming.
     

  • Waltz707

    It is obvious that you are small minded in that you yourself do not respect other religions. If you want to insult others, get a few more brain cells, because the two you have got just aren’t working right.

  • Abetternamethanyours

    Don’t be mad because he’s right