nakedpastor: Before Thinking December 1, 2011

nakedpastor: Before Thinking

(Thanks to nakedpastor)

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  • bigjohn756

    What a poignant sketch. The very idea brings a tear to my eye.  How important it is to think clearly; how necessary clear thinking is to personal understanding and happiness.  Soon, this young lady will realize the lifting of the burden of senseless dogma and will soar like an eagle into the freedom of clear thinking.

  • What a condescending, pandering crock of sh**. As if believers don’t think.

  • Well, logic and religion don’t exactly share the same apartment.

  • Vanessa

    This is the most ridiculous case of over-reacting I have seen in quite a while. Congratulations, you’ve just won the “Irrelevantly Taking Things Way Out of Context” award. You’ve would’ve been runner up, but you got bonus points for whining about it on FB.

  • Sez you.

  • Your lips, my a**

  • Atheists. Attempting to co-op “thinking” and “logic” like the GOP tries to co-op God and patriotism. Reject the premise. Free speech is a bitch aint it?

  • BrandonUB

    Plenty of them think, but not very many of them spend much time thinking about their beliefs.

  • A worthy response, but I don’t think you can prove your statement, and I don’t accept that it is true..

  • If you mean belief in a higher power based on irrefutable evidence, strictly speaking, I accept your point and agree to disagree. There are those who make logically compelling arguments for a higher power based upon natural phenomena however. The existence of something beyond the observable life, or a higher power, and science is not by definition mutually exclusive.

  • P. J. Reed

    Not sure if you realize this, but David Hayward is not an atheist.

  • Not sure if YOU realize this, but I believe organized religion is also a crock of shit. 😉

  • nakedpastor

    jackson: you overreacted. where in the cartoon do you get that the young woman isn’t or has stopped thinking? her problem is reconciling the two. this cartoon, if it is considered well (imo)… is agreeable to both believers and atheists.

  • Perhaps. The pic is shown in something called the friendly atheist. I have been subjected to lengthy tirades from atheists who proceed from the position that belief in something beyond this mortal coil is absolutely irreconcilable with rational though. Simply speaking, I don’t think “God,” or existence beyond the present, and science are mutually exclusive. I reject their attempts to proceed from a logical “higher ground” at every opportunity. I was gauging the point that i perceived as being proffered by the friendly atheist -whatever that is.

  • nakedpastor

    i understand. but can you see how jumping to conclusions and working on assumptions can derail good dialog? nice to meet you btw.

  • BrandonUB

    I suppose not… but I think even some cursory examination shows it to be largely true. Even if it’s not, the sentiment expressed in the toon, that it’s easier to be a believer when one isn’t thinking about it, is pretty much valid. I guess the opposite would be true too – if someone was raised atheist and never thought about it at all, it’d be easiest to stay atheist. Basically, not thinking about what your beliefs are makes inertia the most likely outcome; thinking makes it more difficult to maintain whatever it is you believe than not thinking about it.

  • BrandonUB

    I can’t say I’ve ever seen anything that resembled a logically compelling case for a  higher power. I’ve seen cases that are internally consistent, but that’s not even in the vicinity of being compelling. Have any links by chance? If someone does have a good case, I should probably read it.

  • BrandonUB

    As far as I know, the Friendly Atheist name mostly stems from Hemant being an atheist and… well, friendly. I’ve only had limited web interaction with him, but that seems like basically the case to me.

    I think you’re reading more into the toon than is there, but maybe I’m reading less into it than is there.

  • Too much caffeine maybe. I do get tired of non-believers claiming a monopoly on thought. As a work criticizing the dogma of religion and its attendant negative consequences, I applaud your work. I was, like I say, going after the atheist aspect. Religion is the root of all evil as much as money. Nice to meet you too.

  • Anonymous

    You’re just asking for the same arguments and “proofs” that have been presented for hundreds of years and refuted just as long. Many people claim to have logical arguments, but they never hold up

  • I would say this: compared to some of the the silly theories I have seen posited by cosmologists (alternate universes, big bang-big crunch) for the origin of the universe and life within, accepting a divine creator is no less logical. I have seen no credible theory that answers the question where the first matter came from. Even evolutionary theory (which I accept) doesn’t tell us how life originated – only how it is refined. I am waiting for science to tell us if it can. Inertia is one way to characterize it. Another way is to believe that even science had to be created. It is wrong for either side to claim to know for sure at present.

  • Au contraire, steve. Even Einstein posited the existence of “god.” I am waiting for science to explain to me how one can derive effect from no apparent cause, or matter and energy from nothing. All I have seen are cop-out ploys referring to pre-existing unoverses. Well, where did THOSE come from? The laws of physics do not allow for such chicanery. If some new discovery re-writes the laws, I may need to reconsider.

  • dauntless

    I don’t quite see how positing the existence of an all powerful creature reconciles your concern. Where did this all powerful creature come from? Why is it logically inconsistent to believe the universe didn’t have a cause, but allowable to believe in an uncaused godfellow?

    And re: nakedpastor posting here. Great. Does this mean he’s bringing his wonderful readership to this site? The unbearable apologetics have already begun in the comments.

  • nakedpastor

    dauntless: “wonderful readership” tongue in cheek? i don’t know if you check the comments there, but they are anything but apologetical. but i agree about the “unbearable” part. totally.

  • P. J. Reed

    I’m not sure what that has to do with you flying off the handle and making rude remarks in response to an image that you seem to have mistakenly assumed was drawn by an atheist.

  • The Big Bang Theory has the most evidence, so it’s the most widely (for now ) accepted naturalistic explanation for how the universe started. There is zero evidence for a divine creator.

    There are theories for how abiogenesis might have happened on the early Earth; it’s true none have been definitively proven– yet. Abiogenesis is a relatively young field of science but research is quite active. That is hardly “inertia”.

    And of course science was created: it was worked out painstakingly by human beings as the best method we’ve got to objectively investigate the universe. Your point?

    It is definitely wrong to claim to have absolute knowledge of how everything came to be. But the only ones I see doing this are the religious.

  • Anonymous

    Love it.

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    Jackson –

    I’m sorry you’re so butt-hurt over the cartoon. A lot of us are annoyed about constantly being called fools (“The fool has said in his heart, etc. etc.”), evil, immoral, constantly trying to persecute christians and destroy religious freedom, blah blah blah. This blog is “Friendly Atheist”, not “Atheists who go out of their way to be dicks to believers”, but it should be a sanctuary for those of us who are on the wrong side of Christian privilege, and we shouldn’t have to censor ourselves for the benefit of others.

    I don’t think believers are necessarily stupid – BUT – people have an amazing ability to compartmentalize their brains and set reason and logic aside when it comes to religion. In my experience people believe in religion for emotional reasons, not logical ones, and then some of them try to rationalize their belief by cherry-picking science (or wallowing in ignorant anti-science such as creationism.) I’m sure it’s very rare that an atheist wakes up one morning, comes to an intellectual conclusion that science is inadequate to describe the formation of the universe, and becomes a fervent believer in Jesus or Allah or what not. There’s Antony Flew (who some say was suffering from dementia and was overly influenced by Roy Varghese), but he is at most a deist and recognizes the huge gulf between the abstract god of deism and the anthropomorphic, old-man-with-a-beard god of the Abrahamic religions.

    You state the big bang theory is “silly” and a divine creator hypothesis is so much more logical. I hear this all the time and it bugs the shit out of me. What are your qualifications for dismissing all of cosmology and modern theoretical physics out of hand? I guarantee you are not as smart or as well informed on the subject as Stephen Hawking, Leonard Susskind, Lisa Randall etc. But worse still, the alternative you propose is nothing but a just-so story. “Goddidit” does not explain anything. Where did God come from? Who created him, who created his creator, etc. etc? How did God create the universe? What is the source of his power? If matter cannot come from nothing, where did God get it from? All you are doing by invoking God as the answer to everything is wrapping your ignorance up into a neat package and calling it “God”. Furthermore, you are trying to set limits on human knowledge and declaring that your ignorance should be binding on everyone else.

    Anyway, scientists don’t invoke “God” as the answer because they don’t need to. We used to think there was a sun god, a rain god, etc. but now we have natural explanations. There is no need to speculate about invisible irrational forces when natural understandable forces explain what is observed.

    Finally, I think a lot of christians (the less fundamentalist ones) would agree that being a thoughtful believer is a lot harder than being a dogmatic one who just follows the herd, and would not be offended by the cartoon.

  • I have the following problem with religious thinking.  Consider some of the most challenging questions possible for man-kind – like where it all came from or how it all started.  These are questions that we don’t know the answer.  We have theories but they will certainly be refined or improved over time.  Our species may not ever be able to figure everything out.   There are two ways to deal with this possibility.  One is to accept that we as a species may never be able to figure it all out but remain optimistic that we will nibble away at the unknown to gain better answers over time.  The other course is to basically make up supernatural stories about god(s) and damnation and salvation and how these god(s) want people to do X, Y, and Z and not A, B, and C.  Once one starts down the road of making up (or believing) supernatural stories, where does it end?  There is no way to argue that one set of supernatural stories is better than another except to out-breed others and indoctrinate your children.  That is all religion is.  Successful breeding and indoctrination.  I’m sorry if these words make baby Jesus cry.  There are plenty of ways to inspire and warm the heart without resulting to supernatural stories.

  • Jestor from TOTJO

    Science keeps answering questions, creating several more for every one it answers…

    Like a child asking “Why?”, “What now?”

    Religious people are less concerned, knowing that an answer will never be found for a “last” question…

    God is their final answer… They can’t be proved wrong, but science keeps trying…


  • Well, in the case of some creation stories, the religious definitely have been proved wrong. Those who insist on a literal interpretation of the Biblical Genesis, for instance.

    And some religious folks believe their god has and is the answer to all questions, first and last.

    It is certainly not a goal of science (though perhaps of some scientists) to disprove the existence of a god or gods. But as I said, there is as yet no evidence for any god kick-starting all existence. Instead, the evidence so far points to natural forces alone.

  • Mike Steinert

    RE: chicanery

    Quantum physics.

  • Anonymous

    “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly.” – Albert Einstein

  • Anonymous

    Blind faith must be very difficult when presented with contradictory ideas with good supporting evidence.  To see the mental gymnastics that some theists go through to maintain their belief it must be quite stressful to try to maintain this belief.  In my view it is much better to go where the evidence leads.  Sure we have to change our minds from time to time as evidence is uncovered but I think that this is a good thing.

  • Anonymous

    Apply Occam’s Razor to the competing hypotheses.  Those that require an external entity are neatly disposed of as external entities are an unwarranted assumption.  Occam’s Razor is a useful tool.

    For the origin of matter see baryogenesis.

    Evolution doesn’t discuss the origins of life any more than gravity discusses the origins of matter.

    Positing a deity doesn’t help to explain these things.  We would still be left with the question of how.

  • Anonymous

    If you posit a deity then science asks where your evidence is.  If your hypothesis is “God exists” then you should be prepared to define your terms and support the hypothesis with evidence.  Failure to do so leaves the honest thinker no choice but to provisionally reject the hypothesis as unsustainable.  I agree that “God” is not mutually exclusive with science.  Science can and should be used to determine the veracity of any claims made about “God”.  Unfortunately theists in general fail to put god claims in falsifiable terms either deliberately or through ignorance of science.  Science is our tool to understanding reality and theologists won’t let scientists look in the box to see what they are talking about.

    Our “higher ground” is that we not only are not afraid to look in the box where gods hide but positively demand to look.  Show us what this god is that religions talk so much about.  Show us the evidence.  We don’t believe that any such thing exists.  Why hide it when it would be so simple to prove us wrong?  We have so many questions.  Why won’t you answer them?  Science is the opposite.  If someone has a question the whole point of science is to try to find the answer.

  • Drew M.


    This one's exceptionally powerful, David. Thank you!

  • I felt like this while I was trying to hold onto my “faith” – once I let it go it was like escaping from being buried alive!

  • Jestor from TOTJO

    Sure, but like Grimm’s Fairy Tales… Many were merely for the moral… Or so is my opinion…

    When a religious person questions, and can’t find the answer. “Must be the will of God”, and they are content…

    A scientific person, isn’t happy with that… they keep trying to take the mystery of life, and find an answer… only to find more questions…

    The religious person says, “see, only more questions, its God…”

    The scientific says, “More questions for me to answer…”



  • Anonymous

    So where did your god come from? And don’t use special pleading by saying that your god is eternal or out of bounds of natural laws.

    Things can indeed come from “nothing”. Look up virtual particles, the Casimir effect and Hawking radiation. The latter is hypothetical, but the first two are provable. The thing about the Big Bang is that spacetime itself didn’t exist “before”, so the you can’t apply the usual laws of physics to it because those didn’t exist either.

    Einstein was agnostic. He found the idea of a personal god completely laughable. When he talked about god, he was talking in similar to Spinoza: the beauty of nature

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    Obviously the god that has the best heaven and the least worst hell is the best choice

  • Anonymous

    Anyway, scientists don’t invoke “God” as the answer because they don’t need to.

    It’s more than that.  It’s that to invoke “God” as the answer is not doing science, but doing something else (let us charitably call it “theology”).  The job of the scientist is to try to explain things, in naturalistic terms.  Any scientist who invokes “God” is not doing his job as a scientist.

    The naive believer who claims that “God is the answer” fails to understand that “God” is not an answer, but an attempt to sweep the questions under the rug by pretending that they have been answered.  “God” is not an explanation, but a pseudo-explanation, which has the following form:

    1. The world is as it is because of magic.

    2. The magician’s name is “God” (in fact, “God” is more of a job title; the deity most folks refer to by that title informs us in the Old Testament that his name is actually “Yahweh”).

    “Magic” is not an explanation for anything, and never will be, unless you can explain how the tricks are performed.

    The believers who so loudly proclaim that “God is the explanation” have ever considered that in fact they cannot explain:

    1. HOW God’s magic works,

    2. WHY God chose to use his magical powers to create and/or interfere with the natural order in the first place, and

    3. WHY God chose to make the natural order THIS way, instead of SOME OTHER way (like, f’r instance, why God chose to create a world in which we gotta eat food to keep our bodies supplied with food and essential nutrients.  In the event of a famine, that could prove to be highly inconvenient).    


  • WARNING: Thinking May Be Hazardous to Your Faith!

    (Add skull and crossbones.)

  • Hey David – thanks for the free pdf of your comics by the way!

  • Eternal Optimist

    It is indeed a Battlefield of the Mind.

  • Wendy

    You do have a better source than wikipedia, right?

  • Anonymous

    There are plenty of further links there.

    Or just use Google. There are tens of thousands of results for “cosmic microwave background radiation”. Hundreds of scientific papers have been written about it. It’s one of the most important cosmological discoveries in the last few decades. It has received two Nobel Prizes in physics. One for the initial discovery and the other for the results of the COBE mission

    Oh, and there is a third space probe surveying the CMBR:

  • I have no dog in this fight but Einstein also said, “”I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly
    harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and
    actions of human beings.”  This article suggests he was more likely a deist than an agnostic.

    But I could be wrong.

  • Science of Mind girl

    Religiosity is different from spirituality though someone may be both religious and spiritual, as for example, Thomas Merton or Lama Surya Dass.  I know both agnostics and atheists who are compassionate and generous.  That translates to being spiritual.  There are religious people who are steeped in judgement and have no clue about compassion.

  • Thesomgirl

    Thinking is good…just don’t always believe your own spin.

  • Siege

    Now you’re just being silly.

    The naive athiest who claims that “Biology is the answer” fails to understand that “Biology” is not an answer, but an attempt to sweep the questions under the rug by pretending they have been answered.

    Although I can explain the bio-electrical pathways, and the hormonal interactions, I am still confused about the biological necessity of personality. I see it in the animals, but it seems to play no role in their progenation, so I wonder about biological frivolity.

    Self sacrifice is another reality that biology doesn’t adequately address in my mind.

    And how is it that only homo sapiens evolved to explore the stars? Where is the biological necessity in that?

    What is the biological pathway that leads to peaceful resistance? How is that even effective?

    Athiesm was so much easier before I started thinking.

  • Anonymous

    Siege, I think that you’ve missed the point.  What question are you trying to answer?  Why are people curious?  Why do we have personality?  Why are we capable of altruism and self sacrifice?

    Science, particularly evolutionary biology and psychology offer answers to these questions.  Have a read of the Blind Watchmaker for some of these answers. 

  • Anonymous

    Oh, I don’t say that biology has all the answers, but I do say this:

    First, if you say that “God” is an explanation for personality, or self-sacrifice, or that human curiosity that leads to some supposed predisposition to explore the stars, then you’re not doing biology, you’re doing theology.  Similarly, if you say that “God” is the explanation for why it rains, then you’re doing theology and not meteorology — and you’re likely to do an even more piss-poor job of predicting the weather than any meteorologist.

    Second, if you say that “God” is an explanation for personality, or self-sacrifice, or human curiosity, then you are deceiving yourself if you think you actually have an explanation for anything.  In fact, though you obviously do not realize it, what you really ought to have (but do not) is even more questions than you did before you accepted the “God” non-explanation for your original questions.

    Just how is it that, because of “God,” you even have a personality?  What did God do to give you one, and how did he do it?

    Why did God leave some of us unable to provide for or protect themselves, so that some measure of self-sacrifice on the part of others is necessary in order to help provide for them?  Jesus is supposed to have said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Well, it’s really not true, is it?  Unless someone (not necessarily you) “worries” about how you are to find food on the table, or clothes on your back, then you will go hungry and find yourself clad in rags. Contrary to what Jesus so naively taught, “Your heavenly Father” will no more feed you than he feeds the birds of the air, and those who cannot or will not work nor were born with silver spoons in their mouths must rely on the self-sacrificing generosity of family, friends, or strangers.  And, as for your body, cancel your health insurance — your heavenly Father will see to your health, will he not?

    As for human curiosity and that supposed desire to learn about the stars, do you really think it is a gift from God?  If someone is more interested in finding out about who’s going to win “Dancing with the Stars” than he is in exploring the stars, is that, too, a gift from God?  If someone is interested in finding out how the movement of “the stars” is going to affect the life of Capricorns or Cancers over the next twenty-four hours, is the curiosity that causes him to refer to his daily horoscope yet another a gift from God?

    Finally, what is the theological necessity for curiosity?  Do we have to have it because, after all, God made us ignorant, and scratching the itch of curiosity is what motivates us to try to dispel our God-given ignorance?  Is God himself a curious being?  How could an entity who supposedly knows everything already possibly be curious about anything?  How is it logically possible that he would strive to find out that which he already knows?   Could it be that theological necessity requires that even Curious George the monkey has something that God lacks — the “gift” of curiosity?

  • It is really painful; when Christians get nasty in their apologetic – I say this as a Christian.  I thought the cartoon was great and age totally with is – I argue with many of my faith as to certain things like creation science and hell and gay marriage etc – and often think it would be so much simpler for me to just accept at face value (who’s though) the things written in the bible…but – I’ve also got a scientific mind – I crave answers and I love research. if I was being totally true I would be saying that I believe because of the evidence of change for the better in my life…not really good evidence – but it a big part.  I also believe because i wonder at what turned a group of scared people like the disciples just after Jesus’ death into the powerhouse of evangelism that they became…I conclude that what is written in the gospels has to have had some truth to it to have changed them and made them willing to die for it. After all – who would die for a lie?

  • Anonymous

    who would die for a lie

    Someone who was utterly convinced that the lie was true might.  Someone who could not face admitting that they were wrong might.  Someone with nothing to lose and a fervent belief that the espoused belief will benefit humanity might.  Someone who was going to die anyway and the person or organisation killing him or her wanted them to stick to their story.

    These are just a few suggestions off the top of my head.  Strobel’s throw away line isn’t worth much and it certainly isn’t compelling as an argument for Jesus.

    Imagine if this were a convincing argument.  The 9/11 suicide murderers presumably were fervent believers in Allah and Islam.  I consider Islam to be false (just like Judaism, Christianity and every other religion) and I assume that you also consider Islam to be false (a lie).  But who would die for a lie?  Therefore it must not be a lie and Islam must be true.  Another example come in the form of Buddhists in occupied Tibet who have set themselves on fire secure in the knowledge of their rebirth and for a cause that they know is just.  Does that mean that Buddhism is true because who would die for a lie?  What of suicide bombers in Palestine or Afghanistan?  What of Chechen separatists or Japanese Kamikaze?  What of all those men and women on hunger striek who are willing to die for what they believe?

    We human beings are easily fooled so we invented science to trim out our biases and false assumptions.  We don’t decide that something is true because other people believe that it is.  We decide if something is true if the evidence supports it being true.  That is the criteria for accepting a claim. 

  • Siege

    Have read Blind Watchmaker as you suggested. It is speculation dressed up as science, the kind of thing I would expect from Creationists.

    The crux of his position, as I understand it, in  Ch 6, is never even answered, although he talks around it for so long, as though verbosity will overcome the need for cogent reasoning.

    He certainly doesn’t get around to answering the questions I have which you suggest he’s answering.

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