Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Why Do Atheists Evangelise?

Yeah all right. Evangelising isn't exactly the right word, but it gets the point across.

This is something I wonder about. A lot of atheists seem to want to spread the message that God isn't real and are pretty aggressive about it too. Beyond their own feeling of self satisfaction about being right, I don't know what the point is. I'm sure plenty of other atheists feel this way too as they simply get on with their lives and let religious people believe what they want.

Does everyone know about Pascal's Wager? It's something like this:
If you feel that the weight of evidence for the existence of God and the non-existence of God is balanced, then why not gamble on the safe bet? If he exists you win eternity in heaven, if he doesn't you just die and that's the end of it and you lose nothing. If you decide he doesn't exist, but he does, then you're risking eternity in hell. So betting on his non-existence is a lose-lose situation.

Some people see Pascal's Wager as an argument that should convince people to believe. I don't think it works that well on that front. Plus Christianity isn't just about believing, it's about lifestyle and a relationship with God, so the Wager doesn't cover the more important things.
Essentially, this post is an extended Pascal's Wager, and I've already said I don't think much of it, but this stuff is worth considering when it comes thinking about what it is that atheists are trying to get people to accept.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Atheism Is A Lack Of Belief

As William Lane Craig puts it "the definition that will not die!"

Because it should.. because it's wrong!

Mr Tree offers the extremely common misconception:

There's a reason that this is on our list of Atheist Clichés That Need To Stop Being Said. It's so plainly dumb it shouldn't need explaining.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

"What's more damaging"? Science or Religion Meme

Stop! The stupid! It hurts! HAHAHA. Actually it's pretty funny...


Don't you love it when people try to make out there's a conflict between science and religion? Like only one can be true and the other can't? I'm gonna put science in quote marks because this clearly is not a representation of the real thing.

I kind of get where they're coming from with the religion side. We are fallen beings, we are flawed. None of us are perfect. We all have weaknesses. We all make mistakes and do silly things. To say otherwise is called arrogance or pride. Which is something the Bible is very much against.
Christianity teaches us to be humble - to recognise our limits and try to make ourselves better. Yes that means realising that we are broken, flawed, and sinful, but that's the first step to fixing and redeeming ourselves for a greater good. Someone explain to me what's wrong with that?

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Is Atheism A Religion?

I'm a bit wary of Christians who say that Atheism is a religion, but to give them their due, a lot of atheists aren't helping the case against the claim.

Symbols

All faiths have a symbol to represent them. Christians have the cross or the fish, Jews have the star of David, and so on.
Atheists inspired by their dedication to 'science' have come up with a few of their own badges.

You'll notice that most of them look a bit like atoms, which are bit like the poster child for science. Shoving an 'A' into an atom just cements the atheist relationship with scientific discovery and thought.

It's maybe a bit arrogant to assume that atheists have the only claim to science. Considering facts like Joseph J. Thomson, the founder of atomic physics was a devout Christian. Or that Charles Darwin, whose theory of evolution inspires the atheist fish, was a Christian for most of his life. Or Isaac Newton, Galileo, or even modern day leaders of science like Francis Collins were also Christian.

So, as atheists have a number of symbols to choose from, it's only natural that they would want to display their faith for all to see.

Or if clothing and accessories aren't enough, why not permanently seal the deal and have the symbol of your belief inked?


And they say atheism is just "a lack of belief"... Sure...

Churches

Do I need to go further than this point? Atheists have churches now, They meet up on Sundays and share their faith and learn how they can use it to make the world a better place. Come on!


"Don't Impose Your Views On Me"

Here's one you hear a lot. When you try to preach something because it's in the Bible that people might not agree with, it's quote "shoving it down their throat".

For some reason that's meant to put an end to it. You're meant to say "Sorry, I didn't mean to offend you. Carry on!"
But that's nonsense.

Where it comes up a lot is on the subject of homosexuality. A lot of Christians believe that the Bible teaches that gay love is wrong. Most will say that it's the physical act, not the sexual orientation that's a sin, but either way it's besides the point. Christians will say that homosexuality is a sin and those that hear it will insist they stop shoving their 2,000 year old beliefs down their throat.

I'll just interject here and state for the record that I personally don't think that the Bible teaches against homosexuality. I'm pretty certain that those passages refer to paedophilia and/or keeping slaves for sex. They're specific things that involve same gender sex, but don't mean the entire scope of what homosexuality is. Like how banning tutti fruiti wouldn't be the same as banning all ice cream. (Had to pick the campest sounding example didn't I? Oh boy...)

Monday, 8 December 2014

Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas

One of my usual mantras is to deal with ideas not people. I can call an idea stupid as much as I like without insulting the intelligence of the person holding it.

But this kind of thing is pathetic.

Kirk Cameron has released a Christian movie, so militant atheists are trying to give it low ratings. They haven't seen the film, probably don't know much about the content, but simply because it's religiously themed they want to destroy it. Stuff like this makes you question the phrase 'good without God'.


Sunday, 30 November 2014

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Atheist Clichés That Need To Stop Being Said

If any of these are things you have ever said or thought, please leave your brains at your nearest upgrade facility. They are overdue for an update...

1. Atheism is the lack of belief in mythical deities.

2. I don't have any beliefs.

3. I don't have any faith.

4. There is no evidence for the existence of God.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Are there Contradictions in the Gospels?

I go up to a group of guys and tell them I have a new car. I tell them it has four wheels, five doors, and five seats. I don't show it to them, I just tell them these three things.

They each go off and write about my car.

First guy says the car has four wheels, five seats, an engine, and two cupholders.

Second guy says the car has four wheels, five doors, it's green, and has windscreen wipers.

Third guy says it has four wheels, five seats, one cupholder, and it's red.

What does this tell us?
All three guys say it has four wheels. Let's believe that.
Two guys say it has five seats. The second guy doesn't mention seats at all. No contradiction there, so let's trust it.
The second guy is the only one to repeat that it has five doors. Five doors is very consistent with five seats. Might as well trust that. No reason to not believe it.
First guy says it has an engine. He's the only one that mentioned it. But it's a car. It goes without saying that it has an engine. Let's believe that.
Same with the second guy and his windscreen wipers. Most cars have them, so yeah why not?
Now it gets tricky. First guy says two cupholders, third guy says one. If the first guy is right, the second guy is sort of right. There is one cupholder, but there's also another one. So it's a little bit up in the air. We can believe that there was some amount of cupholders but can't agree exactly how many. Either way, if there aren't any cupholders, there could still be a car. A car doesn't need cupholders to be a car. It's an added unnecessary extra.
Finally, the second guy says green, the third guy says red. Well that's a contradiction. Our only information about the colour are these two sources. They don't agree. Can you get a greenish red? Maybe it's that. Or again, like with the cupholders, the colour doesn't affect it being a car. A car can be any colour. I didn't mention any colour to them anyway.

We know that there are wheels, doors, seats, and an engine and that's all we need to know there is a car. The other stuff might be a bit messy, but we get the main message.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Why I Think Islam Is A False Religion

Usually I'm pretty generous when it comes to other faiths. I quite like the analogy of different faiths being compared to blind people feeling an elephant. Each blind man has a different part of the elephant in their hands. One has the trunk and says the elephant is like a snake, another has a leg and says the elephant is like a tree, a third has the ear and says the elephant is like a skin pancake. Each one has a bit of the truth, but no one has the whole picture. You have to put them all together to get the complete elephant.
It's not the best analogy but it serves a purpose. When it comes to a lot of faiths, I think it's kind of like that. They know bits and have some information missing.

I prefer to think of it like a jigsaw puzzle. It might be that different faiths have a different number of pieces to work with. Obviously I think Christianity has the most pieces (not all of them by any means), which would mean Jews and Muslims are missing a couple that Christians have, while Hindus and Sikhs have maybe even less.

As long as we're all building the same picture, then there's no problem. We're all looking for the same truth and each have some amount of it.

Trouble is, I think Islam might be building a different picture. And I'll sum up a few reasons here.
Before I get going, I want to make it clear that I don't think this means all Muslims are stupid, evil, or bad in any way. And I'm not touching the subject of whether or not Islam is a religion of peace or war. I'm just putting out there some issues with the faith.
Maybe Muslims have good explanations to put me straight, but so far I haven't heard them.

Contradicting The Bible

Yeah. This first problem comes from being a Christian so it's meaningless to anyone who isn't one.
Basically, the centre point of Christianity is the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus: the man who was God. Islam teaches that neither of these things happened and that Jesus was a prophet, not a part of a Godhead.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Naturalist Explanations For The Resurrection of Jesus

There aren't any good ones. They're all pretty much rejected by the majority. Yeah, some people (even scholars) cling to some of them, but that's because it's all they have.

Any explanation has to cover a few historically certain facts:

1: Jesus was crucified and died on the cross.
2. Jesus was buried in a tomb which was found empty a few days later.
3. Several witnesses came to believe that they had seen Jesus risen to life again.
4. The disciples became leaders of a new faith movement which grew into Christianity. Converts included friends and enemies, believers and sceptics, Jews, Romans, and pagans.

Disciples Stole The Body

They had no reason to. Their great leader had died. As far as they were concerned he was another false Messiah. He had been a good friend, but all they had left was his memory. The death of Jesus was proof to them that the mission was over. Most of them ran out of town! They didn't expect a resurrection of any kind until the end times and Judgement Day.
Stealing the body would have made no sense to them.

It didn't make sense for them to do it, but maybe they got some crazy idea to attempt it. So what would that mean? Jesus was locked in a tomb wrapped in linen, behind a two ton boulder sitting in a groove, sealed with a gubernatorial stamp, guarded by a number of Roman soldiers, in a burial plot reserved for Jewish leaders.
The disciples would need at least two of them (probably more) to be involved to have the strength to move the boulder. They'd have to be sneaky enough in numbers to get past armed, alert, trained guards who were there for the sole reason to stop grave robbers. They'd have to somehow remove a two ton boulder silently! Then for some reason they decide to unwrap Jesus from his deathbed clothing and neatly arrange it where he was laying before making off with the body and resealing the tomb silently so that no one would notice he had gone missing. If they were being sneaky, they would want to be in and out quick, so undressing Jesus while they were still in the tomb would have been absolute madness. Seeing as he had been dead some time, the smell would have been enough for them to want to leave as fast as possible.
They wouldn't have bribed the guards, because they had no money. The guards would have been punished for accepting the bribes anyway and there would be nothing to stop them from telling anyone the truth.
They wouldn't have killed the guards, because that would mean more bodies to hide, and require an explanation of where the missing soldiers had went. It would have made the theft more obvious.

No means, motive, or opportunity. Didn't happen.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Some of the World's Coolest Christians

There's a logical fallacy called 'appeal to authority' which is the mistake some people make of thinking a thing is true just because someone clever said it. That in mind, this post is not an 'appeal to awesome'. Although it could be a response to people who think Christianity is just 'not cool'. Whatever it is, enjoy this list of cool Christians.

Bob Dylan

Undeniably one of the most influential singer-songwriters of the last century, famous for his political protest and anti-war songs. Dylan released two albums full of songs about belief, worship, and Jesus. 'Slow Train Coming' in 1979 and 'Saved' in 1980. The song below from 'Slow Train Coming' was his first hit in three years, winning Dylan the Grammy for best rock vocal performance by a male in 1980. Bob Dylan - Gotta Serve Somebody

Mr. T

Johnny Cash - Jesus Said

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

No Atheist Lives Consistently With Their World-view

First up, I can already hear the cries of "atheism is not a world-view, it's just a position on the question of the existence of God".

Right... atheists believe that God does not exist. Theists who believe that God exists see the world with the knowledge that he has an effect on things and there are consequences to his being around. An atheist would have to be the opposite of that and so (whether they realise it or not) believing that God is not real or not accepting his existence is going to shape their world-view.

So having dealt with that, let's get to the point: no atheists live consistently with their world-view.

Without God there is no objective moral standard. There's no thing that is defined as 'good' that we can compare other things to beyond our own opinions. Which actually means that doing the washing up is morally equal to torturing people.
No one believes that. No one behaves that way. Everyone agrees that some actions are morally better than others.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Argument From The Balance Of Evidence

Philosophers best arguments are usually put together in the form of premises that lead to an inescapable conclusion. If the premises are true, then the conclusion must also be true.

They look like this:

P1: All fire engines are red.
P2: Kevin is a fire engine.
C: Kevin is red.

If both of those premises are true, then the conclusion must be true. There's no way out.

So, here's an argument I'm throwing out. Judge for yourself.

P1: There is no evidence or sound argument for the truth of atheism.
P2: There is lots of evidence for God's existence.
C: God exists.

You know what? I actually don't think the conclusion necessarily follows, there's a hidden premise somewhere, but there's definitely something to this.

"If You Need Religion, That's Fine, I Don't, So Leave Me Alone!"

 So here's a problem that we run into a lot with atheists. There's a massive misunderstanding of what religion and faith is about.

What it amounts to is the preconception that religion is for people who need some kind of safety blanket to make the world feel more safe and comfortable for them. They need a big daddy in the sky to be watching over them and stopping bad things happening to them.

Christianity isn't that. Book of Job tells us that bad things will happen to good people and there are a lot of reasons why!

So in the mind of the confused atheist, someone who wants a safety blanket can just check out the selection of religions and choose one based on what they fancy.
They can look at Judaism or Islam and decide they don't want to drop everything and pray several times a day. They can look at Hinduism and decide they don't want to give up beefburgers. Christianity is a great religion for safety blanket seekers because it doesn't ask anything except maybe getting dunked in a paddling pool.
But the brave atheist is happy in the world and doesn't need a safety blanket to protect them from harm and to let them survive death. So religion is not for them. Other people can get on with it, but they better not try to share the sheet. (sheet... double entendre? No? Ok...)

Fortunately, here's another quote from a different atheist that actually gets it right!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Most Atheists Are Actually Agnostics

This rough conversation (or parts of it) happens far too often...

Believer: What would you call yourself?
Non-believer: I'm an atheist.
Believer: A strong atheist or weak atheist?
Non-believer: What's the difference?
Believer: A strong atheist says they know that there is no god with 100% certainty. A weak atheist believes there is no god but there's room for doubt.
Non-believer: I'm a strong atheist.
Believer: Really? How do you know for certain there's no god?
Non-believer: There's no evidence for it.
Believer: You mean you haven't seen any evidence. There could be some hidden under a rock on Pluto. Have you checked there?
Non-believer: No.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Mr. Tree Shows Us How Irrefutable The Kalam Cosmological Argument Is

So one of the regulars decided that the best way to defeat theism would be to try and show how its best arguments don't work. Actually that makes sense! Find out what it is we actually believe and what evidence we use, and show how it is wrong. Good work Mr. Tree! Now you're working on our level!
Let's see how well he does.

Mr. Tree on this occasion has put together his explanation for why the Kalam Cosmological Argument fails.


It's great that he has no problem with P1. We're already agreeing on half the premises. So it's only P2 where there's disagreement.
2&3: Relies on equivocation, what do we rightly mean by ‘the universe’. The original arguments from which this is derived did not restrict themselves to asking “where did the universe that sprang from the big bang come from”. The ancient philosophers were asking where the world came from and working back towards the cause of all things, the universe, the totality of existence, reality.
Whatever the ancient people who used similar logic to the KCA were talking about is completely irrelevant to what we're talking about today. We might have taken some inspiration from them, but things have changed and we use the argument in its modern form.
If you're worried about definitions, then it's simple and it's no secret what we mean by the word 'universe'. We mean this space/time thing that started at the Big Bang, is expanding, and will die out in a heat death.
So no... there is no equivocation. We don't say 'universe' when we mean whatever the ancients were talking about.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury Embarrasses The Faith


I saw this article in The Times this week and just had to comment. I don't usually read The Times, it just happened to be lying around in a waiting room and I needed something to browse.

So anyway, I was pretty surprised to find this. What a way to make Christians look dumb!

Not the stuff about doubts. That's fine, that's normal. Everyone has moments of doubt. But that's not limited to Christians. People have doubts about everything. There's no issue there.

The thing I found a little shocking is the part that says "Christians are unable to explain why suffering exists in the world".

It might just be me, but I don't think a Christian leader, particularly an Archbishop, should say that. There should be a test when you're being signed up and one of the questions should be 'Why does God permit evil and suffering?'
If you don't have a reasonable answer, you should fail the test.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Why Do Christians Feel A Need To Evangelise?

Religion is like a penis. It's fine to have one and it's fine to be proud of it, but please don't whip it out in public and start waving it around... and PLEASE don't try to shove it down my throat.It's pretty often that an attempt to talk about belief is met with hostility. "Keep your beliefs to yourself", "Don't try and shove it down my throat", "I don't care what you believe, but I'm not interested".

What I usually find to be the most unusual thing is that I wasn't the one who brought up the subject to begin with. I'm not the sort who opens a conversation with "Do you believe in God?". If I ever start talking about it, it's usually because someone else has said something that prompts a response. You know like "I'm not Christian because I don't believe in sky fairies" and I feel I have to clarify the understanding of the facts.
So having simply stepped in to correct someone else when they've said something on a subject they clearly don't understand, somehow I'm shoving my beliefs down their throat. It might be something as simple as reassuring them that it's a historical fact that a man called Jesus did live and preach at the time the Bible said it happened. In no way does that mean they have to suddenly start saying hail Marys...
Maybe it's the same kind of irritation as when I sometimes politely remind people the difference between 'their, there, and they're'. But is that really irritation at me or is it irritation that they've been shown up for making a mistake?

Anyway. Before you jump in and call me a hypocrite for saying I'm not trying to spread the word and yet I've written a blog all about it let me just say that the blog is different. The blog is here open for anyone who wants to check it out. I don't force people to come and read it. I've made it available for anyone to come to it. I'm also available as a person to come to speak to if someone wants to. It's an open invitation to come to me, not an attempt to throw stuff at everyone else.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

I Believe In Evolution, So I Don't Believe In God

"I Believe In Evolution, So I Don't Believe In God"

This (or a paraphrase of this) is heard really really often when asking atheists why they don't believe.

It seems simple, but there's so so soooo much wrong with it, that it gets embarrassing for the person who said it when the mistakes are explained to them.
There's so much wrong with it, that it's difficult to know where to start.

So ok. First let's ask 'what do you mean by evolution?'
That word could refer to a few things, or all of those things as a bundle. It could mean stuff like how birds wings might get a little bigger, or their beaks might change shape a bit, or they might get a little faster. It could include natural selection or 'survival of the fittest', where the creatures best suited to environments will survive while the rest die out. It could (and I think most often does) refer to Darwinian evolution i.e. the theory that all life today gradually grew and mutated from a single celled organism over several million/billion years.

If we're talking small changes and natural selection (which is sometimes referred to as micro-evolution) then we're all good. That stuff has been observed, proven, and has to be accepted as factual.
If we're talking Darwinian evolution, then the evidence for that is on pretty shaky ground. Essentially what's been done by scientists who hold to it is they have seen the small changes and from that concluded it must go all the way back to the big changes that have to happen to make something like a lizard mutate into a dog. Unfortunately, the fossil record doesn't back them up. The oldest known relative of modern dogs is an ancient dog. The oldest known relative of modern horses is an ancient horse. It's the same for everything we have today. There aren't any cat/wolf hybrids or anything else that's split into two different things.
Trouble is, atheists have to believe in evolution, because they have nothing else. If Darwinian evolution was disproved, then it would be the final nail in the coffin for atheism.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The Atheist Lead In 'Orange Is The New Black'

'Orange is the New Black' may sound like some sort of 'Sex and the City' in prison type of show, but it's actually really good!


It's great to see a show where men are the minority, dealing with real issues and things anybody can relate to - not just stuff that's 'by women, for women'. It's not a chick flick. It's a normal show that just happens to mainly star women, just like every normal show where most of the cast are men.

Religion plays a part in the show and for the most part is handled well. There's a chapel in the prison that has to be shared between the various faiths and denominations, so time allowed for its use is split up evenly. There's a preacher who seems to be a rock of compassion for those who need her, the Spanish community pray at mealtimes and it's left at that, there's a Buddhist yoga instructor, and there are a couple of extremist nuts that give faith a bad name.

That's all fine. It reflects reality. It's OK to show the messed up side of religion. It's good even. This stuff needs to be highlighted so it can be dealt with. All the while the moderate and compassionate normal people of faith are also on screen to show that they aren't all nutcases, there should be no reason for viewers to complain.

I don't know the beliefs of the shows writers and producers, although episode 12 seemed to be an example of the main character Piper acting as a voice for their views.
As I say, for the bulk of the series, they've been respectful and handled faith well. The cast includes Kate Mulgrew, who is well known to be a devout Catholic, and also Laura Prepon who is a Scientologist, as well as a number of other people of various faiths, so the producers probably are sympathetic to the belief systems of other people.

So I don't want to come down too hard on the show for the things that were said in Episode 12. It might have been the writers speaking through Piper, or it might have been just another character expressing a poorly thought out world-view. Piper is hardly the beacon of reason and morality anyway - being involved with drug dealers and cheating on her fiancé.

Whichever it is, I'm just a little concerned that what she said might be taken by viewers as good rational sense. So I'm gonna go over it and try to clear up the mess. WARNING: MINOR EPISODE SPOILERS

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Not All Dogs Go to Heaven - Family Guy's Atheism Episode


I used to be a big fan of 'Family Guy'. When it first aired I was one of the few people I knew who gave it a look. The next day I was telling all of my school friends about this amazing new show that was a bit like 'The Simpsons' but better now that the quality of that show had considerably dropped. It had a super genius baby who wanted to kill his mother, a wise cracking talking dog, and wacky flashback scenes that meant gags could come through even faster.

Like 'The Simpsons' though, the quality of 'Family Guy' dropped after a few seasons. although it took nowhere near as long. The show became a string of self-references, repeating old jokes, drawing out gags for a lot longer than they were funny, plagiarising obscure musicals and viral videos hoping to pass them off as original, and random insertions of Conway Twitty. It got to a stage where the only decent episodes were the ones where Brian (the dog) and Stewie (the baby) had some crazy adventure together (e.g. Road to the Multiverse).

I recently discovered that the quality of 'The Simpsons' has actually picked up again in the most recent few seasons and was surprised to be enjoying the show again. So, I figured maybe 'Family Guy' might have done the same thing.

Flicking through the options I found an episode with the synopsis "After a day at the Quahog Star Trek convention, Stewie builds a transporter and beams the cast of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' into his room".
I didn't take much notice of the episode title 'Not All Dogs Go to Heaven'. It didn't seem to tie up with the exciting plot summary.

So thinking this crossover episode would be a great place to catch up on an old favourite I settled in.
I was pretty surprised with what I got. BEWARE EPISODE SPOILERS COMING UP.

It started out pretty well, despite Stewie saying he preferred Picard to Kirk, but that's not a big deal. I've always said Kirk is a better captain, but I'd rather be on Picard's crew.

So when Meg catches the mumps, and after some of the tired trope of unnecessarily mistreating her, she watches Kirk Cameron speaking on The Religion Channel and becomes a born again Christian.

It Doesn't Matter To Me If God Exists

When not talking to the internet infidel type of atheist - the one who stereotypically has a neckbeard, a fedora, and alternating posters of My Little Pony and Richard Dawkins - you quite often find the run-of-the-mill atheist who simply says stuff like: "I haven't really put much thought into it, but I haven't seen God anywhere so I don't believe in him. I don't need him in my life. I'm quite happy as I am so why bother? I'm just not interested."

This to me seems amazingly short-sighted. I just don't get how anyone could think like that.

Friday, 12 September 2014

What Label Do You Fit Under?

It's a mixture of frustrating, tiresome, and embarrassing that a lot of people don't seem to know what to call themselves when they're talking about the subject of God's existence.

Use this simple flowchart to clear it up for yourself!


You'll probably notice that each result has two parts to it. To keep it simple, you can stick to the lower part when you refer to yourself. The upper part is basically a clarifier to make it absolutely obvious what you think and can be helpful in some situations.

There's some tricky words in there for newbies, so I'll tell you what they mean here.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Atheists Need To Prove That The Universe Is Infinite And Eternal

Current science is very much against atheism (although a lot of scientists won't admit it). It's basically proven that God exists. So atheists have their work cut out for them if they don't want to go along with that. They have to prove that the stuff cosmologists and physicists are constantly affirming is false.

When talking about the beginning of the universe (backed by Big Bang Theory, Red Light Shift etc.), if atheists want to avoid the logical conclusion of a higher supernatural power, they have to somehow show that the universe could either create itself, or was never created in the first place.

Here's a noble attempt from one of the regulars.


P1. If something cannot come from nothing, then the Universe is eternal.  
P2. Something does not come from nothing.
C1. Therefore, the Universe is eternal.
Does this work? We agree completely that something can't come from nothing. 0+0=0 and will never be anything else. So there must have been something to start with.
Our scientific evidence tells us that the Big Bang was the beginning of the universe, so we have to deal with that. But Mr Truth here is saying that there can't have been a beginning.
Something must be wrong here, because our evidence tells us that the universe is not eternal.

The conclusion here does logically follow if the two premises are true. We're all certain that P2 is true, so P1 must be the problem. If you haven't seen it by now yourself, I'll point out that simply P1 is a sentence that doesn't make sense on its own - not as most people understand it anyway.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Proof that God exists

They say that you can't prove it.

I think 'they' are the people that either don't want it, or haven't thought about it that much.

It's basically a simple process of elimination.

First off. What do we know?

We exist. So what's the reason for that? How did that come about?

We are a part of this universe. If we have the universe, then whatever the explanation for us in particular is comes after that, so it's kind of a secondary question. We need the universe before we can get to us, so it's a reasonable place to start.

So how did the universe come about? Either it existed forever, or it began to exist at some point. Those are the two options.

Big Bang Theory, expansion of the universe, entropy - essentially all of the evidence in cosmology says that the universe we live in began to exist at some point around 13.8 billion years ago. So that answers that.

So we now again have two possible options for where the universe came from. Either it came from nothing, or it came from something.

If we think about it as a maths thing, then nothing is equal to 0. Something could be 1, it could be 3, it could be seven billion three thousand and twelve. Something could be anything.

If we have nothing then the options are: 0+0=0 or 0x0=0 or 0-0=0
'Nothing' has no abilities, no aspirations, no traits, no potential. Essentially, nothing will only ever amount to nothing.
Seeing as we have something (a universe), we must have started with something.
Even if it was '1', perhaps that '1' has the potential to reproduce, so 1+1 would be 2, 2+1=3 and so on.
If the '1' wasn't able to reproduce other possibilities are open to it. 1 could possibly divide itself. So instead of a 1, you could have two halves, each less than the whole, but still at least having come from somewhere. So perhaps our planet is one billionth of a percent of that original '1'.
At this stage of the train of thought we still don't know what that '1' was, or even if it was '1', but we at least know it makes sense while '0' doesn't.

Cosmologists and physicists seem to be pretty much in agreement about this. Because they realise the universe must have come from somewhere, some of them are offering up the possibility that our universe is just one of many. So when we talk about a universe, we mean a closed system that begins with a Big Bang, expands, and finally dies a heat death. So if there is one, or several, they exist within a bigger cosmos.
Each universe begins and ends, but the cosmos itself could possibly be something that exists forever (because scientific method can't tell us anything about it).

So let's try and figure out what the cosmos could be.

Big Bang theory tells us that space, time, and matter (the stuff that everything is made of - elements, chemicals, energy, all that) all began to exist at that point several billion years ago. That means it did not exist before then.

So the cosmos simply must be spaceless, timeless, and immaterial - because those things didn't exist.
The cosmos must be eternally existing for the reasons covered in the maths bit above. If there was ever 0, there still would only be 0, but as there is something then something must have always been there. The first thing to exist must have been there without beginning, otherwise there would have been nothing before it. It also makes sense that it has no end, because a thing that has existed for eternity, but had a lifespan, would have had eternity to live and die already well before it got around to creating a universe.

So immediately our 'something' that the universe came from has a few necessary traits: eternal, outside of space, and not made of anything found solely in a universe.

We can add 'power' to that list. This thing somehow caused a spark that made the universe (or each universe) begin expanding and growing into stars and planets and galaxies that began sprouting plants and bees and lions.

So what kind of things do we know about that might fit the description? Things that exist in no material form, that exist eternally, potentially can exist outside of our space, and have creative power.
The only examples I'm aware of that come close are natural laws, numbers, concepts, and ideas.

All of those examples only have three of those traits, but no creative power.
Concepts and ideas are created products of a conscious mind. Laws require a lawgiver.

Essentially we have whittled down the only possibility to an immaterial, eternal, powerful, spaceless, conscious mind.
As a conscious mind you can add 'intelligence' to the list of traits - it would have to be pretty clever to know how to create a universe.
You can also add 'free agent' to it. If this thing was just a machine, it would have churned out our universe an infinity ago and everything would already have been destroyed in the heat death. Machines pump stuff out as long as they have fuel to do it, but things that are capable of choosing do it when they decide to, and this thing seems to have chosen to wait.

So our list of traits for what the 'something' was that created the universe is now: spaceless, eternal, immaterial, powerful, creative, intelligent, and free willed.

If that isn't the most basic description of a god, I don't know what is.

So to quickly sum it up:

1. The universe (space, time, matter) began to exist.
2. All things that begin to exist have to come from somewhere.
3. That somewhere can't be made of the stuff that doesn't exist yet.
4. That somewhere must then be spaceless, timeless, and immaterial.
5. Only laws, numbers, and ideas are known for certain to have those properties.
6. Ideas require a mind and laws require a lawgiver. So if they exist, then a conscious intelligent mind must exist to provide them. A conscious mind could potentially be spaceless, timeless, and immaterial.
7. An intelligent, conscious mind that exists eternally, is immaterial, outside of space, has the power to create universes, and freely chooses to do so, is the most straight forward definition of a god.

Dumb Questions To Ask At This Stage

So if God created the universe, what created God?

Remember that word 'eternal'? That means 'without beginning or end'. Eternal things don't get created.
You're thinking of 'immortal', which is 'immune to death', but could still have a beginning like a vampire, or a false deity...

How does this prove that Jesus is the son of God?

It doesn't...  it doesn't even try to. It doesn't intend to. Jesus does not come into the equation here at all. Who mentioned Jesus? I didn't.

So which God is it? Zeus, Thor, Osiris, The Spaghetti Monster?

From this proof? We don't know exactly. All this proves is that there is a God and he/she/it has all these traits.
Although... Zeus, Thor, Osiris, and The Spaghetti Monster don't share these traits, so we can actually rule them out. Best thing to do is read up on a few possible gods and find out which one matches the evidence.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Is atheism the null hypothesis?

I've heard this one a few times. "Atheists don't have to prove anything because atheism is the null hypothesis. You disbelieve something until it is proven."

This is the kind of thing I want to record and play back to people so they can see how dumb they sound.

Let's all go back in time four hundred years.
I'll go up to a local and say "Hey, in a few hundred years we will all have glowing boxes that we put onto desks and send each other pictures of cats doing silly things to people all around the world."

If the person says "Sounds great." then that's fine, though you have to wonder if you can test their gullibility somehow.

If the person says "Prove it.", then I've got some work to do, and that's absolutely reasonable.

If they person says "I don't believe you." they would be absolutely wrong and they'd have to explain their reasons to me.

The best, most honest, and truly neutral position to take about the unknown is simply saying "I don't know, but I'm open to it."
If you start saying the person making a claim is wrong, then you need to have a reason to think so.

When it comes to belief in God, the "I don't know, but I'm open to it." position is agnosticism, not atheism.

This 'null hypothesis' stuff about believing the negative until the positive is proven is absolute nonsense. When there are only two options for truth, you don't believe one just because there's no evidence for the other (especially if there's no evidence for either!).

Monday, 1 September 2014

What proof or evidence is there for the claim: 'God does not exist?'

Atheists believe that there is no God, so surely they should have a straight forward answer to this basic question.

Apparently not...

I've posted this question in a number of places, usually with the added explanation that I'm not asking for any rebuttal of evidence that God does exist. I simply want to learn the case for the truth of the claim 'There is no God'.

Here are some answers I've had back.


These guys both use the classic dodge. When their 'atheism' is challenged, they fall back to agnostic atheism, which in their minds mean that they don't have to defend their position at all.
They're wrong obviously.
The default position is just 'agnostic' on its own i.e. sitting on the fence, not convinced either way, not enough knowledge to make a judgement call. As soon as you throw 'atheism' into the mix, you're falling in with the 'God is not real' crowd, and that needs some kind of justification.
There is nothing wrong with being unsure or saying that you don't know. Nothing at all about admitting agnosticism. It's only when you move away from the fence and sit in a camp that you have to defend your claims. Calling yourself an atheist means you are in a camp.
See the difference between atheism and agnosticism here.

Well this doesn't begin to answer the question even remotely. I specifically asked for a positive case for the claim 'there is no God'. So this fella attacks Yahweh specifically - in what's actually a really odd way.
First off he claims that all gods have been invented, but doesn't provide any support of that. Then says people chose the one that they liked best and began worshipping him.
Basically, the ancients lined up their version of the DC universe and decided, "Well Superman is the most powerful, I guess we better follow him". I suppose Buddhists went with Batman, and Hindus enjoyed the Teen Titans best. Probably best I don't put too much thought into that analogy.


Any answer you'd get is completely relative, because there's no proof that exists or not, however, if we talk based on the various religions and on what they say there are a considered number of unanswered questions and doubts, but that is also relative.
The answers would be relative to what? Is he talking about personal experience? OK then, maybe. But relative opinions don't have bearing on truth claims, so that's a whole line of pointlessness to go into.

At least this guy admitted that there is no proof that exists. That's honest enough. But then, why believe that there is no god if there's no reason to? It's madness.

Finally, even after I had stated that I didn't want to hear rebuttals of evidence for the existence of God, this guy still wants to talk about various religions. Unanswered questions and doubts? Yeah we might have them about the details of particular faiths, but the doubts don't outweigh or disprove the heavy amount of evidence we have for the big claims of God's reality. A small doubt is no reason to throw out a theory in science, so why should it be any different for this?

As long as humans believe there is a God or Gods in whatever form he/she/they take, God will exist in their eyes and no scientific proof is going to make them believe otherwise. Science has been pointing to theories like Darwinism (Evolution), the Big Bang Theory and many other theories over centuries. It doesn't matter how much evidence they show to support their theories, strict Creationists will refute them and choose not to believe them.  Many people that are classified by the religious establishment as atheists would classify themselves as agnostic if the word was in more common use. An agnostic believes that it's simply not possible to prove that a God or gods exist or don't exist and, therefore, they neither have faith or disbelieve. They're indifferent to religion and worship.









No scientific proof will convince believers otherwise? That's a pretty generalised claim to make. I'm pretty sure that if someone could show me how a universe could sprout from nothingness I'd drop my faith. This claim seemingly outright ignores (or is ignorant of) the scientific evidence that supports God's existence. I suppose if the commenter knew about it, they'd convert immediately, seeing as science is their guide to the world.

I have to wonder though how much science they understand. She makes the claims that Darwinism and the Big Bang disprove God's existence. Seeing as the Big Bang actually supports the reality of God, and that Darwinism is far from proven itself, these claims haven't got a leg to stand on.

Besides, I said in the first place I was looking for any support for the claim 'There is no God', NOT 'why are religious people too stupid to believe in science?' Why the picking out of Creationists? I never mentioned them and I definitely didn't say that I was one. I guess mentioning Darwinism and the Big Bang were supposed to be the evidence I was asking for, but on those she's BANG wrong.

Then she goes on to say that religious people classify non-believers as atheists. That's a new one to me. Every atheist I've ever had a discussion with makes it pretty obvious what label they want to wear. It's more often that we have to tell atheists that they are agnostics if they really are sitting on the fence and not making any knowledge or belief claims. I'm not going to touch on her definition of agnosticism, some people go with that and I guess it fits, but it's not the generally used meaning.

It is not easy to prove a negative.  For example, if I claim that God has appeared to me only and no body can find any evidence of this: no photos, no change in EEG, nothing but my statement, it could still be so because God could make it so. I might not be believed but no body could prove I was wrong.  Proof that God exists is equally faulty. Stating that the proof is everywhere around us is not proof, just a statement. There are physical explanations for everything that is supposedly God's work.








It's plenty easy to prove a negative.

"There is not twelve thousand pounds in my pocket."
*checks pocket. It's empty.*

Negative proven.

So the example he gives is that if he makes a claim that God spoke to him and there was no evidence to support that claim, it could still be true. Yeah, that's true. So the only evidence we have is his word that it happened. So then we ask some questions: "Is this guy a reliable source?", "Is he a known liar/fraudster?", "Has he always been religious or superstitious and liable to think something is God when it might just be a figment of his imagination?".
Investigation can be done. It might not be conclusive based on the testimony of one person, but we've got an option to explore. If it was the case that only one person in all of history had made this claim, then he could be telling the truth, but it might not be reasonable for anyone else to put all their faith in his words until we learn more.

He then goes on to claim that the actual evidence that exists in the world is exactly the same as his example of one madman shouting in the wind. Millions of believers, historical eye witness testimonies, scientific support and the rest puts real faith into an entirely different league.

Physical explanations for everything that is 'supposedly' God's work? Another one showing their weak hand when it comes to understanding current science.

There is absolutely no proof that God does not exist, however there is a good deal of proof that the Bible is wrong, and as such the Christian God, as described in the Bible, and as relating to Christ and God being the same entity, is not correct.  There is no proof that God is real, and equally no proof that God is not real, or that there are not multiple "Gods" as some religions believe.  We know the Bible is false because it is full of contradictions and if there is even one error in it then it is false and must be disregarded, however there are many contradictions and errors. Many of the bible stories predated Christianity and were altered versions of earlier pagan legends. For example the whole virgin birth thing was from the birth of Mitrhas the sun god, and walking on water was not a new thing either.  Nobody can prove or disprove God, we must accept that.













Good start. Honest admission that there is no proof. Nice. (So why believe it?)

Straight into a set of unsupportable claims... no proof that God is real (yawn)... could be multiple gods (sigh)... Bible is full of contradictions (name one, it might help)...

"If there is even one error in it then it is false". Hold up hold up hold up! What gives you that idea? Are you one of those people who think God himself took a pen and wrote the Bible with his own hand? If you are I can understand your confusion, but then it's common knowledge that the Bible was written by preachers and prophets, so you're wrong. Human error can slip into one of the 66 books and not somehow make the whole anthology false. It's unlikely that an error would even make one book false! Would you throw out the Encyclopaedia Brittanica just because it had a typo?

Followed by the old Jesus-is-just-like-Mithras ploy. You're just embarrassing yourself with that one. A small amount of historical reading would straighten that out.

Finishing on a nice closing statement that again has nothing to stand on. It's like giving up before even trying.


 At least Mr Truth attempted to make an actual argument for atheism. It's a shame it's nonsense.
The conclusion does follow from the two premises, making it soundly structured, but the problem is that P1 (premise one) has no factual support. The laws of nature are immaterial, but we know they aren't imaginary, so the argument falls flat.

It's actually worse than that. Having spoken to Mr Truth a few times, I can tell you it's also a barrel of fallacies.
First off, Mr Truth says that immaterial things are imaginary, because he believes that the words mean the same thing. He has said in the past on separate occasions that 'immaterial', 'imaginary', 'abstract', 'fictional', and 'pretend' all mean exactly the same thing. It's supported here where he says that God only exists inside people's brains.
So really his argument says:
P1. All imaginary things are imaginary.
P2. God is imaginary.
C. Therefore God is imaginary.
Well, that's just a whole dumb mess.

I worded this question slightly differently. I said "What reason is there to believe the claim 'There is no God'?", but it's the same thing.
Here's another one we run into a lot. People who think the word 'believe' means that you really know that it's not true and you're just pretending. I don't know where they get this stuff.
I believe that when I walk on the floor it will support my weight. I believe that when I eat food I will stop being hungry. I believe that it hurts when I stub my toe.
Sure, I can believe in something and not be certain about it. I believe there is probably life on other planets. I base that on probability rather than any hard evidence. I could be right or wrong.
There's nothing about belief though that automatically means whatever you believe in is not true. That's absurd.

Then some sort of almost incoherent rant about how we should stop thinking about this stuff because we will never know the truth. I don't want to call it too harshly - maybe English isn't this guy's first language.

 "By definition, faith" By whose definition? Yours I suppose. Faith doesn't have to be about spiritual things or God. Faith is basically another word for 'trust'. You have faith in your husband or wife, faith in your family, faith that Ireland will win the Eurovision again. Maybe it doesn't need proof, but it can be backed up by endless heaps of evidence.

This one essentially adds up to another dodge of the question.

"One can present reasons which logically would dictate that God is a fiction."
Great! That's what I'm looking for! Give me an example! 
Oh... you're not going to? You're going to refuse because you think some believer is going to poopoo it with some sort of refusal to accept real logic? 
I like the way they use the royal 'we' and 'our' as though it's what everyone does and thinks. Yeah, everyone obviously knows that God is a "mean, evil SOB", so you're an idiot for being in the minority that doesn't...

So by this guy's thinking, God is evil. How does that prove that he doesn't exist again?


So there are ways to disprove aspects of religions. Ok. Don't bother with an example or anything. Seriously, don't. That's not what I asked for. I don't need religion for God to exist.

You can't give me an answer to my question. Ok great. Thanks for the help.

Default position of disbelief? The null hypothesis? Pretty dumb...