Now obviously religion does not make much sense when examined through the lenses of science, logic, or, in the absence of childhood indoctrination and with basic understanding of the previous two, common sense.
But let's just think about basic life and everyday reasons that could lead one to suspect that other worldly powers haven taken interest in worldly affairs. I'm not talking about a primitive human's fear of a thunderstorm leading him to believe in a thunder god, I mean shit we deal with today that just seems weird or fateful.
For instance, my life was changed in more ways than I can think of by as a simple choice as where to have lunch. When I was travelling abroad I asked a passerby where I could find a good place to eat. He pointed me to a small restaurant at the end of the street and then as an after thought, mentioned one in the opposite direction. With no information about pricing or menu, I mentally flipped a coin. I'm acquainted with both establishments now and know that, had I chosen differently, absolutely nothing would have happened at restaurant A. But since I chose restaurant B I am now engaged, overcame my depression and fear of bees, have broken half the bones in my body, and had 4 of my teeth knocked out and replanted.
In my book and in yours, this by no means constitutes proof of a deity. But I can tell you that looking back on that moment, it feels like destiny. As though it were meant to happen that way. Were I religious, I would think that I was guided to make the decision I made because I seemingly had no control in what was truly a random though process.
I bring this up because I don't think we pay enough attention to little things like this that convince people that there is some grand plan and an omnipotent plan maker. We've all had weird feelings about fortunate or unfortunate coincidences and strings of circumstance. It's basic paranoia. But because we are atheists we simply dismiss this feelings of situations which seem to bear some ominous significance. But to the religious (at least those who believe God to be an interventionist), these little things fit the narrative and reinforce stone age understandings of the universe. But if tomorrow I choose to eat at Subway instead of cooking and get hit by a bus, that's not God. It's life. It doesn't seem like much of a point but I think it's worth discussing. Humans are naturally egotistical and I think that for many of the religious, their own life experiences (close calls with death, lucky days, etc.) offer enough proof and it's a factor that I think is underestimated.
"That a particular specified event or coincidence will occur is very unlikely. That some astonishing unspecified events will occur is certain. That is why remarkable coincidences are noted in hindsight, not predicted with foresight." -- David G. Myers
I have heard someone else (can't remember now) say that anyone who thinks coincidences mean something bigger is going on just doesn't understand the mathematics of large numbers. There was a good TV show in the UK by a guy called Derren Brown (an atheist illusionist) who said that he could predict the winning horses in six races over the course of a few weeks. Each race had 6 horses in so his chance of doing this was 1 in 46,656.
He explained he had asked for a volunteer to take part and sent her his predictions in advance by email. When it got down to the last two race he invited the participant to accompany him and the cameras to the racetrack to watch. Of course, he got all the results correct and the woman won every race.
How did he do it? He started off with not one but 46,656 people out of everyone who had applied to be participants (he's very popular). He emailed each one of them with a different prediction covering all possible combinations. As soon as the first race was won he emailed most of them to tell them it hadn't worked and emailed those with the correct first race prediction telling them the success. So on and so on until he had whittled them down to the last race. By this time he only had 6 people left, each of whom had won every race so far. He then simply filmed his segment at the last race with each of them and then presented whichever one turned out to be the winner.
It is a clever illustration of the quote above. To predict the particular woman in advance who was going to end up being the winner would be extraordinary. To predict that one of the contestants would be the winner and to congratulate her in hindsight is simply to state a certainty.
Exactly. The law of probability bell curve looms over us like an ambivalent god. Insurance companies' and drug manufacturers' bread and butter. Of course, if you fail to sample a population correctly, your predictions will be off, and sometimes it is done on purpose.
Hi Simon, I can only contact you through this discussion. What happened to Bill C's comment on my discussion "UNICORNS IN THE BIBLE"? It has been deleted. I don't know that much about how Think Atheist works so maybe you can tell me why. I have a reply for him that I would like to send. Stephen Gunn
TA's search function, which I've tried several times to find a particular post, is close to useless. Only Facebook's is worse, though there it might fairly be described as their total LACK of one.
On occasion, I've found it much easier to google up old posts if I can remember who posted (easy if the answer is "Unseen") and some fairly unique key words.
Warning to readers: If your vision becomes blurry while reading this, abort reading it and move on to the next message.
I sometime use TA's search with luck, but when it doesn't work I search in google like this:
If that gives too many results, narrow it with:
site:thinkatheist.com "unicorns in the bible" billc
If that gives too many results, use Advanced Search to narrow results by date range and/or sort the results like this:
site:thinkatheist.com "unicorns in the bible" billc <--- with advanced search specs
Crazy, right? Especially because, all that said above, I think I remember concluding that that deleted post was probably deleted by BillC himself, and so may not ever show up in any search results.
Hi Stephen, for what it's worth I never saw a reply from Bill C on the Unicorns discussion so it must have been deleted before I noticed. Sometimes comments will be deleted on here if a user starts proselytising but as Pope commented below it could just be he thought better of his comment.
I can't tell you how often I will get an email notice of a post only to discover that the post has been deleted.
WHAT!!! You don't count them?
Is there much evidence that stone agers like neanderthals practiced any religion or even had any notion we'd recognize as a deity?
Anyway, CNN interviewed a black business owner whose store had been burned to the ground by Ferguson rioters. At one point she said "I know God is in control." I burst out laughing.
We humans often tend to assign agency where there is none.
Religious ideas have never made sense.