This discussion may surprise some of you, people usually put logic and atheism in the same sentence, some people even claim that to be completely rational one has to be an atheist. Today I hope to show you the absurdity of Atheism, not weak atheism, but strong, militant atheism. After reading the ‘God Delusion’ I thought Dawkins had thrown religion and my beliefs into a garbage bin; I had lost my faith and became what they call a ‘skeptic’. However, instead of committing intellectual suicide and becoming an atheist, I was an Agnostic Deist for quite some time; I couldn’t rule out God as I had no reason too or empirical evidence to do so.
I somehow or other got my faith back (or more so destroyed my skeptical self and instead of saying, ‘I doubt it.’ Saying, ‘perhaps.’) and then it struck me, atheism is some what irrational. There are always reasons why one does or does not believe in something. For example I don’t believe in Santa because there is no man on the North pole and it is a fact that Santa was created by Coca Cola. I have reasons not to believe in pokemon, flying tea pots or even a flying spaghetti monster. When I ask an atheist why they do not believe in God, they have no rational reasons to deny His existence none, zero, nada. This is rather odd, many atheists are famous scientists who are used to using empirical evidence and observation their whole lives and yet make the illogical conclusion that God does not exist. Dawkins thought that evolution proved that God was not in existence but was by humans (which is a big assumption). Dawkins has not ‘disproven’ God, he has dismissed a God some fundamentalists believe in.
A reason for a belief or lack of belief is a necessity for something to hold any weight.
Premise 2 needs to be backed up by something. Think about it for a second, any non belief you have is backed up by reason; you do not believe not believe n Zeus because you do not believe in him, you have some concrete reasons not to believe he exists. Perhaps even the Judeo-Christian God, you have reasons to dismiss. But you can not logically dismiss God. A being who created the universe may exist.
Some people will then try to bring in the flying tea pot argument, 'We can never dismiss that a flying tea pot does not exist, should we believe in it?' When rational people are talking about God they do not give Him any form (They may imagine He has a brown beard and appears somewhat Jewish) but we have no idea the form of God. God and the flying tea pot are not on the same page, one would have to use scientific evidence and observation to see if a flying tea pot exists. One can not see God, therefore we enter the realm of meta-physics. So what are your guys views? I will take back what I said about atheism being irrational if I am proven wrong (note: I am talking about strong atheism, not weak).
It's a very important point, but one you seem not to grasp. Descartes and others like him were smart men - geniuses, some of them - but the existence of any god does not depend on how intelligent its followers are. Even the smartest of men and women can be prone to believing silly things, particularly when nearly everyone in their slice of the world at the time held such beliefs.
Try to avoid using the Argument from Authority in any serious conversation, Adam, because it can just as easily work against you. Just as there are plenty of intelligent and otherwise rational people who believe in a deity, so are there plenty of intelligent and rational people who don't.
Very good points, Brian.
Adam, to illustrate Brian's point, can you name any great thinkers from the last 150 years who were religious? I'll give you a big hint: Don't try the Einstein believed in god argument. He didn't.
"When I ask an atheist why they do not believe in God, they have no rational reasons to deny His existence none, zero, nada."
Really?!!! A complete lack of evidence for something is not a rational reason to refuse to believe in it? The fact that every "god" whose existence is no longer "necessary" to fill the gap in someone's knowledge is now considered a ludicrous and primitive construct--even by you--is not a rational reason to think all gods are such? The fact that new religions are founded all the time and they all are clearly con games being played on the foolish by deeply disturbed and power mad individuals isn't a rational reason?
How can you expect us to respect you at all when you say incredible things like that? What is the point of even trying to debate someone who says things that are obviously not true? Either you are a liar or completely delusional.
‘Try to avoid using the Argument from Authority in any serious conversation, Adam, because it can just as easily work against you. Just as there are plenty of intelligent and otherwise rational people who believe in a deity, so are there plenty of intelligent and rational people who don't.’
Indeed. I do not understand why a belief in a God would gain more credibility if many of the ‘greatest minds’ were theists. I do not understand why people on this site are so obsessed with this.
‘Adam, to illustrate Brian's point, can you name any great thinkers from the last 150 years who were religious? I'll give you a big hint: Don't try the Einstein believed in god argument. He didn't.’
When you say ‘great thinkers’ what do you mean by that? Do you mean people like Stephen Hawking or do you just mean incredibly intelligent people?
‘Why is it that when people are talking about the existence of deities, they always insist going the route of disproving the deities instead of looking for evidence to back it up. For anything else, people will ask for evidence that something is true, but with God, it's always "prove God doesn't exist." Even though I have some proofs and justifications that a God does not exist, burden of proof always lies on the claimant, not the person disbelieving the claim. A lack of evidence for the existence of something gives sufficient justification to say that it doesn't exist.’
I agree. If you were to say ‘I believe no gods or God exist.’ You do not need evidence or reason to back that up. However, if one was to say ‘There are no gods or God; that is a fact.’ It needs to be backed by reasons and evidence. I personally do not say there is a God, I believe there is a God, due to the evidence.
‘Also, most, if not all, ideas of God define God as some non-physical being. If God is non-physical, then God could not possibly have any observable effect on the universe, as the universe we live in is physical. If it is impossible for God to have any observable effect on the universe, the it can rationally be assumed that God does not exist.’
If God did exist, He would exist in another dimension or reality. Why would it be impossible for Him to have any observable effect? You have to remember, if a God is added, all things are literally possible.
‘Based off of what? Yes, it is true that we don't entirely know how the universe came into being, but that does not mean that a conscious being is a possibility for how the universe came into existence. Just because we don't know how something happened does not mean that any idea thrown on the table is a possibility.’
Indeed. I would like to quote Hawking, ‘the universe is governed by the laws of science. The laws may have been decreed by God...’ Emphasis on the word may and I agree with him. If new evidence is presented to strengthen the idea that God did not start the universe, I would be more than happy to change my mind and views and become an Agnostic.
‘1. Most, if not all conceptions of God define God as some sort of omnipotent being. Any being that is omnipotent would have the capability of knowing everything, so it would also be omniscient. If God exists, his omnipotence would allow him to create some type of event where the outcome of the event is completely unknown. This, however, is impossible because with his omniscience, which is a necessary result of omnipotence, he'd know the outcome anyway. This leads to an absurd conclusion of God both knowing and not know the outcome of the same event simultaneously. It is logically impossible for the scenario A and not A to exist simultaneously, and since the characteristic of omnipotence leads to that kind of contradictions, an omnipotent being cannot exist. Since God is characterized as an omnipotent being, God cannot exist.’
Its like the nature of Christ; how can God be completely human, but completely God? It doesn’t make sense. Since Christianity was founded on Jewish logic it does make sense (they were used to paradoxes), rather than being founded on Greek logic.
We have to be careful, when we say God cannot be X and Y at the same time. Look at modern physics. Is light a particle or a wave? Surely it cannot be both! But we finally had to come to terms with it being logically impossible and admitting that light is both.
I do not know all the answers but I believe you are being caught up with arguments which are insignificant, the long age question ‘If God is all powerful, can God create a rock that He cannot lift?’ This, perhaps, shows the limit of human knowledge understanding the nature of God, but this does not prove that God does not exist or that He does.
First off, PROOF IS THE BURDEN OF THE BELIEVERS, NOT THE OPPOSITION (In this case, us Atheists.)
You haven't proven Atheism irrational. You know you haven't. You have given your opinion that Atheism goes against an emotionally driven choice to ignore strong probability.
You have not provided one single thread of logic in your explanation here. Why not? You're the one talking about what is irrational. "Therefore, God is not real." does not need to be backed up by us. It needs to be proven wrong by you. You're the believer. It sounds to me like you read a portion of Dawkins' "The God Delusion", got your feelings hurt and thought you'd try to rationalize with Atheists who have you far out-studied my friend. There is no more or less evidence to prove Zues' existence than there is for God. Hell, God isn't even a name... You people just didn't have anyone creative enough to give your lie it's own unique title. Actually, the whole story of (your) God and Jesus are recycled from older religious stories before the bible and what you claim was "the time of your lord and savior, Jesus Christ." Don't come here challenging our well educated logic if you have no logic to bring to the table of your own. (Note: It just makes you look like a weak christian, not strong.)
Adam, the belief in the god you seem to be referring to is Jehovah aka Yahweh, the mountain god of the Israelites, right? Islam would say this is the same dude Al'lah, they worship but the evidence in the Qu'ran does not support this. I thus assume that Al'lah and Yahweh are two different gods. Regardless whether my assumption is right or wrong, the belief in these gods stems from the Torah or Qu'ran and subsequently Christianity in all its forms and interpretations stems from the NT. I became an atheist after studying all these documents plus many others over a period of some ten-twenty years because without exception they are replete with contradictions, false predictions, poor historicity, non sequiturs, etc and were clearly the works of man, not as they state, inspired by their tribal deity. Now my logic tells me that when evidence is laid before me that is fundamentally flawed, I must question that evidence and if my objections are not satisfied, reject it outright. So where does that leave me? I either invent another god and call him Peter Pan or conclude that all the gods ever contrived by man were mere legends, folklore and myths. This explains Zeus, Pan, Ra etc.
Man has a need to invent these gods and will continue doing so until he realizes that he is his own god, a result of a magical process called evolution.
I did not use specious arguments to become an atheist or see science as the explanation why there is no god (science does not pretend to do so in any case). In fact it is an indictment against religionists to juxtapose science with religion. They are mutually exclusive and function in totally different universes. The scientific method seeks answers to man's dilemmas; religion has the answers and asks you to "have faith" to just believe"; in other words do not think! To me this is an abomination and strikes right to the heart of the Original Sin. During my search I debated and tested my interpretations with theologians, priests and believers in general, but I was invariably confronted by a lack of logic and reason and a call for me to have faith: then they would insist on praying for my non-existent soul.
You seems to have a questioning/skeptic mind. Go back to the basics of your belief in the god of your choice and search the evidence in the scriptures as they stand and look critically at the origins of the Bible, who wrote it, when, how it was translated, reinterpreted etc etc. and I'm quite convinced that the blindness of faith will fall from your eyes like orange peels (to freely misquote a bible verse) and you will be liberated as true atheists are.
Let's put this to you as a challenge of logic: On what LOGIC do YOU base your belief?
The distinction between strong atheism and weak atheism is more nuanced than you understand. You should read this article by Austin Cline http://atheism.about.com/od/atheismquestions/a/strong_weak.htm
Weak atheism is simply lack of belief in god or gods. As Cline notes, strong atheism adds a knowledge claim:
Strong atheism is sometimes called “gnostic atheism” because people who take this position often incorporate knowledge claims into it — that is to say, they claim to know in some fashion that certain gods or indeed all gods do not or cannot exist.
Cline is correct to modify "to know" with "in some fashion." Knowledge is rarely (if ever) absolute. And, knowledge is always based, to varying degrees on evidence. And the nature of the knowledge claim determines the nature of the evidence required to support it.
Here is an example:
As I sit here typing I s
mell chocolate (I wish!). I think to myself, "someone is baking brownies." Can I say that I "know" someone is baking brownies? Well, I have a pretty good sense of smell, I know chocolate when I smell it and I have baked brownies in the past, I know what baking brownies smell like. So, sure, it would be quite reasonable and rational for me to say "I know someone is baking brownies." But it could be that someone is baking a chocolate cake. So the safer knowledge claim is "I know someone is baking something chocolate." Then again, I might be experiencing an olfactory hallucination. So the safest knowledge claim is "I know I smell chocolate." I could continue parsing this example further. But the idea here is that all knowledge claims are based on evidence. And we evaluate the knowledge claim by looking at the evidence and asking: is it reasonsable/rational to make this knowledge claim based on this evidence?
Here is another example:
In law school I learned about the standards of evidence required in U.S. judicial proceedings.
In a criminal case the "knowledge claim" made by the prosecution is that defendant X is guilty. To convict X the evidence must show that the is guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt." Does this mean that we know absolutely that X is guilty? No and that is not the standard anyway. We know enough. And that is why we can deprive the defendant of his liberty and still sleep peacefully at night.
In civil cases the "knowledge claim" is that Y was negligent in repairing my furnace, it blew up and Y owes $40,000 in damages. Here the plaintiff needs to show only that the "preponderance of the evidence" proves that Y is responsible for the damages. Again, we don't know absolutely but we know enough to deprive Y of $40,000 in good conscience.
I am a strong atheist. My "knowledge claim" is that no god or gods exist. And I base my claim on the lack of any credible evidence to support the opposing "knowledge claim," that is, that god or gods exist. Just as I would if I were sitting on a criminal jury and made the "knowledge claim" that the defendant is innocent because the evidence does not show his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Can I logically dismiss the possibility that the defendant is guilty. No. But I must evaluate the prosecution's "knowledge claim" based on the evidence they present. Just as I must evaluate theists claims based on the evidence they present. Nothing in the least bit irrational about that.
‘I've noticed that people like to throw out the word dimension, but usually misuse
it. A dimension really only deals with the minimum amount of coordinates to
define an object. If there is another reality besides the one that we know,
fine, but in order to make the assertion that God would exist in another
reality, one must demonstrate that another reality besides our own exists and
how it is possible for a being from another reality to access our reality.’
Lets forget about the word ‘dimension’ and use the word ‘reality’ instead. I do not know all the answers but we
ourselves can manipulate a virtual reality any time we want. I own a play
station 3 and I am a big fan of the series ‘Assassins Creed’ It is a non
linear, free world, game. Even though I do not exist in the virtual world of
the game, I can still manipulate it and affect the people in the game. This is
perhaps the best example I have of how God could
perhaps manipulate our own reality.
Wave particle duality is not a logical paradox and even if it was, it is not comparable to logical paradoxes involving knowledge.
It's impossible to both consciously know and not know the exact same bit of
information at the same time.
Would you call a computer who could process/be (Im not sure what it is) 0 and 1 at the same time illogical? Futuristic quantum computers can do that.
Did you know in quantum mechanics X can appear in 2 different places at the same time! That is logically impossible, you cannot be in the two different
places at the same time, yet quantum mechanics is making the impossible
I couldn't find a good explanation of how Hebrew block logic works, but if it allows blatant contradictions
Here is a good example. Sex for Jews could be a good thing, but could be a bad thing.
Christians under the influence of Greek logic considered sex to be a bad thing altogether.
In Hebrew block logic X can by X and Y without any illogical consistencies. In Greek
logic X can only be X. Many of the great disputes in the Christian church were
over trying to understand Hebrew mythology with Greek logic; it does not work!
Actually, the whole story of (your) God and Jesus are recycled from older religious
stories before the bible and what you claim was "the time of your lord and
savior, Jesus Christ."
Really? I am sorry to say but this is completely wrong. People have tried to say, ‘Look at the similarities between
Jesus and Horus!’ Egyptologists do not buy this theory at all, these sought of
ideas are copying and pasted straight from some other ignorant atheist/theist who
do not understand ancient religions, or how they operated. I would advise you
read a great book by John H. Walton ‘Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old
Testament’ It will open your eyes to how different and similar
Judaism to the surrounding religions.
I became an atheist after studying all these documents plus many others
over a period of some ten-twenty years because without exception they are
replete with contradictions, false predictions, poor historicity,
non sequiturs, etc and were clearly the works of man, not as they state,
inspired by their tribal deity.
I am sorry to say, like you, I was conditioned to accept sola scriptura, that the Bible had
no errors and it was the complete word of God. I find this idea ‘cute’ and has
no practical credibility.
David, the great poet, stole some of his poems/Psalms from other religions praising their
God, instead of YWH. We have to be honest with ourselves, instead of trying to delude
ourselves and become Biblical Maxmillist. The Bible was written by people,
perhaps God inspire Isaiah to go to the king naked, perhaps Samuel was inspired
by God to kill an evil king. The Bible was written in their time and context to
expect it to be 100% scientific, historical and accurate is foolish.
I think if we look at the larger picture, it all makes sense; that God will one day restore His people, that is what the Bible is pretty much about.
This explains Zeus, Pan, Ra etc.
This does not explain the need for a creator, which a lot of scientists believe in.
You seems to have a questioning/skeptic mind. Go back to the basics of your belief
in the god of your choice and search the evidence in the scriptures
as they stand and look critically at the origins of the Bible, who wrote it,
when, how it was translated, reinterpreted etc etc. and I'm quite
convinced that the blindness of faith will fall from your eyes like orange
peels (to freely misquote a bible verse) and you will be liberated as true
Thankyou, however I can not be an atheist, I believe in a God, which is somewhat portrayed
in the Bible. When I was skeptic I used to question did X really exist, just
because the Bible said they existed; we have no evidence that Abraham, Joseph
or Moses existed, so I went to an old testament scholar and he asked ‘How do
you know that Abraham did not exist?’ My skepitiscm of characters in the Bible
went away pretty much instantly. I believe a man by the name of Samson existed.
Do I think that future generations exaggerated the truth? Very much so.
Why be an atheist, why not a Deist? I personally am a Deist in Theist clothing (I believe that Jesus rose from the dead and that
He will take us one day to our new home). But I do not believe in a devil or
that prayer really does anything etc. I am going to write a paper this year on ‘The
Deistic God of the Bible’ God sometimes does not make appearances for decades
even centuries! So it will be interesting to see what my conclusion is, after I
have finished it.
The distinction between strong atheism and weak atheism is more nuanced than you understand. You should read this article by Austin Cline
Thankyou, I should of had better definitions.
I am a strong atheist. My "knowledge claim" is
that no god or gods exist. And I base my claim on the
lack of any credible evidence to support the opposing "knowledge
claim," that is, that god or gods exist.
Interesting. So you believe that no God or gods exist? Or you know for a fact that no God or gods exist?
You see in a court case the jury do not know
if a person is guilty or innocent. I famous case is the Lindy Chamberlin
case, where she was accused of killing her own baby, but she didn’t. The Jury
still said she was guilty though, so they didn’t know she was guilty, they
believed she was guilty, which is a big difference. Well, I personally, believe
that there is a God and I do believe there is evidence to support that
contention. But evidence is subjective and can be interpreted different by each
You need to re-read what I wrote about knowledge and evidence. I tried to make the point that there is no such think as absolute knowledge, maybe I should have said that more strongly. I gave 3 examples to illustrate what I was trying to say, including 2 regarding standards of evidence in legal cases. You are of the opinion that some atheists (strong atheists) are irrational. I tried to give my examples so that you'd understand that there are different degrees of knowledge and varying degrees of evidence needed to support that knowledge. I maintain that if evidence can support the knowledge claim then it is not irrational to make that knowledge claim.
I disagree with you that evidence is subjective, evidence is objective. But yes, it can be interpreted differently by different people. For example, I interpret the fact that so many children suffer horribly in this world to negate the existence of god (or at least a god that is loving and worthy of worship). And, I feel comfortable saying that in light of this fact, I "know" there is no god. Others interpret the fact differently - some religious people, for example, believe that the god in which they believe has his reasons that we human can't understand. But, do you think that my interpretation is irrational?
But really I want to make the point that it is not irrational in the least to say that one knows god or gods don't exist. (In some ways it is semantics anyway people use "to know" and "to believe" interchangeably even if that isn't the most artful usage.) Because no one knows anything "for a fact" I am not sure what that even means. If it means that one has access to all possible facts/evidence that could ever be imagined to support or negate a knowledge claim than okay then, if that is what is required to make a knowledge claim then anyone, ever making any kind of knowledge claim would be, from your point of view irrational.
If that is the standard, how would one go about gathering enough evidence to meet your standard? Let's forget about god for a minute and take unicorns. I feel quite comfortable saying that I know unicorns don't exist, I'd even say I know for a fact they don't exist. Is it irrational for me to make this claim? If you say it isn't I need to tell you that I have never even considered any evidence, never researched unicorns at all to support my lack of belief in unicorns!!
Therefore your interpretation of the Gospels is correct:
Thus Jesus existed, was crucified and arose to rise to heaven.
So much for rationality and logic.
I kind of see where you're coming from, however I have to disagree with your idea. (your initial statement, that is). First, when you ask an Atheist why they don't believe in God, most of the time the Atheist has MANY reasons as to why they do not believe in the idea that a God (as described in the Bible, Qur'an) could exist. THERE IS AN INSURMOUNTABLE AMOUNT OF EVIDENCE.
1)It was impossible for Jesus to walk on water, unless the Laws of Physics were somehow changed for that instant of time
2) Moses couldn't have parted the Red Sea just by what you call "faith" and "belief", since these ideas in their own right are irrational experiences that are completely based on the subjective experiences of each observer. you remember Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle? Well, the same ideas can be extrapolated to multi-atom objects. just by our own observations of "God's Divinity" or whatever have you, one cannot logically claim that, because they have "experienced" God, that God exists UBIQUITOUSLY. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle states that one cannot know both the Velocity and Position vectors of a particle simultaneously; so just by observing a particle (ie, shining light on something to find out its position), you influence that particle and change your subjective reality (by shining the light, you change velocity by slowing the particle down, by pinpointing velocity, you do not know where the position of the particle lies).
So let's extrapolate this one step further. If God came to you (hypothetically speaking, of course) and you experienced the "brilliance of the Gospels through Him", you still have ABSOLUTELY NO WAY OF PROVING "HE" EXISTS. Just because you have claimed to have seen or heard something, we cannot believe it until sufficient evidence concludes that God in fact exists in reality. Your own observations influence whether or not God may or may not exist in your mind, so you cannot demonstrate whether "He" exists. Your own subjective experiences are completely unique to your mind... so, in effect, you may be perceiving something in YOUR MIND that may not actually exist. what is this? It's a psychological disorder, known as DELUSIONAL PERSONALITY DISORDER.
As far as I am concerned, however, I tend to think of God in the following way: God exists and does not exist at the same time. My reasoning for this involves the Schrödinger's Cat Paradox. Look it up on Wikipedia.
*I would like to add, that, in my reference to God in the final paragraph, I am IN NO WAY referring to the humanistic, primitive "God" of the Qur'an, Old and New Testaments, and other religious texts. I am referring to some type of "thing" (use your imagination) that is completely out of our realm of understanding. there are many things we don't understand in the universe (some may call it the multi-verse), however there is no excuse for deference to ignorant religious beliefs that have ABSOLUTELY NO GROUNDING IN LOGIC AND PHYSICS and abstractions so unintelligible that, in the past 300 years, "scholars" of religion have had to continuously redefine what "faith", "belief", "God", and other terms in light of Science's continuous push towards understanding. religion, not the idea of something we don't understand, is obsolete then.