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Old 01-17-2005, 10:00 PM   #1
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Atheism revisited.

Hi guys.

Look, we've discussed atheism before and I can't spend too much time on it anymore because there's just far too much to go over. However, this is a website that the curious among you might care to visit. In my opinion, not only does it respond accurately to theological arguments, but also makes very clear that Atheism is not a belief. It's long but worth the read if you're into it.



Why Atheism? by Mark Thomas

Hello. My name is Mark, and, surprise, surprise [pause, look around, whisper]; I’m an Atheist.

History and the Development of Science and Scientific Naturalism

OK. Let’s start with a quick experiment.

[Hold out your hand with a coin in it. Show it to the audience. Let it fall. Do this again. Hold out a third coin.]

If I were to do this again, what do you think would happen? If we could get ten good Christians to pray that this next coin wouldn’t fall, would it still fall? How about one thousand Muslims? How about one billion people of any faith? I think that it would still fall. [Drop the third coin.] Our understanding of the world around us, and our abilities to predict what will happen are based on naturalism — the basis of science. Naturalism is how all people live their lives most of the time.

OK, let’s do a thought experiment. If I were to take two coins and glue them together, then drop them at the same time as I drop a single coin, would they fall twice as fast as the single coin? Aristotle thought so 2300 years ago, and for over 1900 years, his ideas were what was taught about this and many other subjects.

Galileo and Empirical Science
Around 1600, Galileo had a new idea. He decided to do something that now seems like common sense — to actually test the idea of what we now call gravity. He reasoned that two weights held together would fall at the same rate as one weight. Then he did experiments. And, guess what? It was true! This was the start of real empirical science, and our collective understanding of the Universe hasn’t been the same since.
Galileo also took the new invention of the telescope, refined it, and used it to look at the night sky. He was astounded. On the moon he could see mountains and valleys. It wasn’t just some strange heavenly object; it was probably made out of the same stuff as Earth. In 1609 Galileo looked at Jupiter, and discovered that it had four moons. If moons orbited Jupiter, then not everything orbited the Earth, as the Catholic Church taught at the time. Astronomy made more sense if the theories of Copernicus were true, and the Earth and planets orbited the sun. After writing a book about this, Galileo was called to Rome in 1633 by the Catholic Church's Inquisition, and told to recant his heretical ideas.

This was no “simple request” by the Church. Just 33 years before, the Inquisition had executed Galileo’s friend Giordano Bruno. Have you heard of him? In 1600, the Christian authorities in Rome took him out of the dungeon he had been in for eight years, drove a nail through his tongue, tied him to a metal post, put wood and some of his books under his feet, and burned him to death. Bruno’s crime was writing ideas that the Catholic leaders didn’t like — there might be other worlds with other intelligent beings on them, Jesus didn’t possess god-like power, and souls can’t go to heaven. For these heretical ideas, the Catholic Church punished this brilliant thinker with a slow, agonizing death.

Galileo knew what he was up against. For the crime of heresy the Inquisition could put him in a dungeon, torture or even execute him. So, after a long trial, this proud 70-year-old man obediently got on his knees and recanted. But even after recanting, he was still sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life. The Catholic Church officially condemned heliocentrism in 1664, when Pope Alexander VII banned all books that affirmed the earth's motion. But, even as powerful as the Church was, they could not hold back the tidal wave of scientific discovery, and the Church eventually lost its battle over our view of the Universe. It only took them over three hundred years to admit it. In 1992, after 12 years of deliberations, they grudgingly noted that Galileo had been right in supporting the theories of Copernicus. But no such admission has been made for Bruno, and his writings are still on the Vatican's list of forbidden texts.

God of the Gaps
Until just a couple of hundred years ago, most people thought that a god or gods controlled everything. Why did the wind blow? Why was there lightning and thunder? Why did the sun, moon, and stars apparently go around the Earth? Why did someone get sick and die? Why did anything happen? Well, obviously, God did it. If a person doesn’t know how something works or why something happened, they can say, “God did it.” This is known as the “god of the gaps”, or the “argument from ignorance”, and it is at the heart of the conflict between science and religion. Science looks for natural causes, while religion looks for supernatural causes. Science is steadily winning, because as we understand more and more about the Universe, the gap where God might function grows smaller and smaller. Every time we learn more, God has less room to operate. When we learned what caused the sun to apparently move across the sky, there was no need for the Greek god Helios and his chariot. When we understood what caused lightning, there was no need for the Greek god Zeus, the Roman god Jupiter, or the Norse god Thor.
In fact, the understanding of lightning was one of the first areas of battle between modern science and the Christian religion. When Ben Franklin discovered that lightning was just a big electric spark, he invented the lightning rod. It was enormously successful at preventing buildings from being struck by lightning. However, this caused a bit of a problem for the church leaders; should they trust in their god to prevent lightning strikes on their churches, or should they use these new lightning rods? Up until then, lightning hit churches much more frequently than other, more “deserving” buildings — such as taverns or houses of ill repute. “Why was that?” they might have wondered. Could it be that churches had spires and were taller, or was it SATAN and his WITCHES? …… Actually, that is what they often believed, and many a supposed witch was burned at the stake for having caused the destruction of a church. When they started putting lightning rods on churches, witch burnings stopped soon thereafter. However, the obvious fact is that they were putting their trust in science and lightning rods, not religion and prayer.

Galileo and others started something big — empirical science. Thru science, we have come to a good understanding of the workings of the world and Universe around us. The weather, lightning, thunder, the planets and stars, disease, and life itself all function based on fairly well understood principles. God doesn’t control them; the physical properties of matter and energy do. This principle is at the center of naturalism — the idea that only matter and energy exist, and they have properties that are repeatable, understandable, and quantifiable. We take this idea so for granted, that we typically don’t realize that it is based on several articles of faith. This faith, however, is quite different from religious faith. This faith is based on past experience and results. It is the faith that:

There is an external world that exists independently of our minds.
There are understandable, quantifiable, natural laws that describe how things happen in this world.
These natural laws won’t change when we’re not looking; the Universe isn’t totally chaotic.
So far, this faith has been well founded, as shown by the amazing accomplishments of modern science and medicine.

Why God(s)? Why Not?

Examinations of Scientific and Logical Arguments for God(s)
The idea of an all-controlling, caring supernatural god is a very attractive one. It can make our mortal lives seem less frightening, more comforting. Somebody’s in control and won’t let bad things happen to us.

Religious philosophers have tried for thousands of years to prove that there is a god, or many gods. They have come up with many arguments. We will look at these arguments. Because I live in a largely Judeo-Christian society, when I refer to a singular God with a capital 'G', I will be referring to the Judeo-Christian god Yahweh. This god is typically defined as having free will, and being all-knowing (omniscient), all-powerful (omnipotent), all-good (omnibenevolent) and eternal. This god also is thought to intervene in the physical world. After all, what good is a god that doesn't do anything? Most of the arguments I use here will probably also apply to most other of the other 2500 gods created by humankind. I will also closely link God and religion. I do this advisedly, because, for most people, one could not exist without the other. In addition, if there were a god, I would think that it would be able to appropriately guide the religions created for it.

There is at least one religion, essential Buddhism as taught by Buddha, that does not have a god or any supernatural component. To keep things a bit simpler here, the arguments I make regarding religion will probably not apply to essential Buddhism.

Why? Why am I doing this? Is it just because I want to poke holes in people’s beliefs so that we can take away what makes them happy? No, I’m doing this because I want to know what is true, be intellectually honest, and be open to reality. And, I hope that you are here for the same reasons.

The arguments for the existence of God fall into several areas. I have arranged them into these categories:

mysticism and revelation
scientific claims
appeals to authority
prophesy and miracles
appeals to faith, logic, and emotion.

What Tools Can We Use?
How can we examine these claims? What tools can we use to determine truth of external reality? We have (1) logic; and we have (2) empirical, verifiable evidence. Logic and evidence are all we have, to determine how the Universe really works. These tools have been extraordinarily successful in science and medicine, and in our daily lives.
Each of us can choose between a magical view of the Universe (one or more invisible gods did it), or the “what you see is what you get” scientific version. I think that science has done a far better job in explaining how the Universe works.

Mysticism and Revelation
Some people claim that there are other ways of knowing, such as mysticism or revelation. How can we verify these claims? People making them often don't even agree with each other. The only way that I know to verify any mystic's abilities is for the supposed mystic to be able to accurately, repeatedly, and verifiably know things that are supposedly impossible to know — such as events of the future. I know of no one who can, or could. Of course, we have to be very careful in any such testing of skills, because a good magician can easily fool us. Even if there were somebody who could predict the future, that does not mean that there's a god. It would only mean that this person has peculiar skills. I submit that mysticism and revelation result from internal, altered states of consciousness — with no basis in external reality. Mysticism and revelation can only count for those who experience them; for all other people, they are merely hearsay. Thus, we can't depend on mysticism or religious revelation to give us reliable answers to any issues.

Scientific Arguments for God(s)
The biggest weakness in using God to explain anything scientifically is that the explanation is not falsifiable, and thus not even testable. There is no way to create an experiment to show that it’s wrong. For every possible set of a test and a result, we could simply say, “God did it.” Why do the Earth and Universe appear to be so old? God did it. Why does nature seem so balanced? God did it. Once again, why does anything happen? If we say that God did it, there is no reason or opportunity to learn how the world really works. If we had stayed with God as the cause of all events, our modern culture would have been impossible. We would have no real science, engineering, or medicine; we would still be living in the Dark Ages.
The “god of the gaps” is the basic premise behind all the “scientific” arguments for the existence of a god. The logic of “god of the gaps” goes like this: Isn't X amazing! I don't understand how X could be, without something else (that I don't really understand either) making or doing X. This something else must be a god because I can't come up with a better explanation.

The obvious main fault of “god of the gaps” is its supposition that current lack of knowledge on a subject means that it can't be known. If this applies to an individual, it's usually just due to an unwillingness to study the subject. For the fringe areas of knowledge that we don't understand, there is no indication that we won't learn the secrets of nature. As we have all seen, science has made excellent advances in our physical understanding of the Universe, and will, no doubt, continue to do so.

There are two common “god of the gaps” types of arguments for the existence of God. We have (1) first cause, and we have (2) intelligent design, which grew out of creationism.

First Cause Argument
The first cause argument says that everything has a cause, and, since we supposedly can’t have an infinite series of causes stretching into the past, God must be the first cause — an uncaused cause. This argument has at least three problems.
The main problem of the first cause argument is the idea that every event has a cause. As we discovered in the 20th century, the Universe is actually ruled at the bottom level by quantum mechanics, in which it's possible for events to have no cause. An obvious example of quantum mechanics in action is the radioactive decay of a uranium atom. There is no previous cause for each such event, and we can only predict it with probability. The averaging of quantum effects gives us the Newtonian experience that we have, but Newtonian physics does not control the Universe; quantum mechanics does. We now know that the Universe has an intrinsic, bottom level of uncertainty that cannot be bypassed. Quantum mechanics also shows us that objects can appear out of nothing and then disappear back into nothing. Even in supposedly empty space, virtual particles are continuously appearing and disappearing. This is a real and measurable process. The physicist and cosmologist Alan Guth of MIT has put forth the theory that the Universe itself may be just the result of a random quantum event called a vacuum fluctuation — with no cause, created out of nothing, and with a total energy of zero. Even tho this doesn't make sense in the Newtonian physics of our experience of the world, it does make sense in quantum mechanics and Einstein's relativity. In relativity, gravity is negative energy and matter is positive energy. Because the two seem to be equal in absolute total value, our Universe appears balanced to the sum of zero. Our Universe could thus have come into existence without violating conservation of mass and energy. And, there is excellent empirical and theoretical evidence to support this. Even if Alan Guth is eventually shown to be wrong, that doesn't mean that “God did it.”

The next problem of the first cause argument is its assumption that an infinite chain of events is impossible. Many cosmologists have proposed that our Universe could be part of a much larger, super and perhaps eternal Universe; we certainly don't know for sure, and may never know. However, this super, possibly eternal Universe would allow infinite chains of events.

The last problem with the first cause argument lies in its assumption that this eternal god exists, something that it is trying to prove. This is known as begging the question. Even a child can ask, “If God created the Universe, then who created God?” If the answer is that God is uncaused, then the same answer could certainly be applied to the existence of the Universe — that it is uncaused. Besides, which god are we talking about? People using the first cause argument always make the assumption that the particular god that did the creating is their god. Muslims think that Allah created the Universe. Hindus think that Brahma did the creating. Christians think that their god Yahweh did it. Most religions have a story of how their god created the Universe. The idea of a god as creator of the Universe obviously tells us little about the characteristics of that god. What they are doing is explaining one unknown with another unknown, and it just doesn’t make sense.

Intelligent Design and Creationism
The next scientific type of argument is called intelligent design. It states that life on Earth is so complex that it must have had an intelligent designer. This argument has evolved from the creationism argument, and it’s gaining strength by masquerading as a science. To get around legal restrictions on teaching religious dogma, proponents of intelligent design say that they don’t know what this designer was; it could have been an alien or a god. This is disingenuous. If it was an alien, then the obvious question is, where and how did the alien originate? If they really mean God, which is what I think they mean, then it devolves largely back to creationism. So, I will treat intelligent design and creationism as basically the same.
Proponents of intelligent design make many claims:

A watch requires a watchmaker.
A design requires a designer.
The physical laws require a lawgiver.
The complexity of life and the Universe require a cause that is not part of this natural world.
The laws of physics were fine-tuned for life.
Science can't explain all the features of life.
Our system of life on Earth was designed.
The 2nd law of thermodynamics proves that evolution is impossible.
What they really claim is God did it!
Let’s start with the 2nd law of thermodynamics. This states that any closed system will tend toward disorder. However, it does not apply to the Earth, because we live in an open system with energy constantly streaming in from our sun. This is the energy that powers almost all life on our planet.
Next, let’s consider the laws of physics. They are quantified explanations of how matter and energy behave, not anything like man-made laws. We currently don’t know why the parameters of matter and energy have certain values, but that doesn’t mean that some god set them that way. The simple solution to the question of the source of the laws of physics is to accept them as brute fact, with no source. Besides, if it were true that a god set up the Universe for life and us to exist, he certainly had to wait a long time for the result. The Universe has been around for about 13 billion years. It took about nine billion years before our Earth was formed, and single celled bacteria were forming ecosystems about a billion years after that. Life on Earth evolved and became more complex. Then humans, God’s supposed reason for the whole creation, finally came along within the last hundred thousand years or so. This seems like a lengthy and complex process for an omnipotent being that could have simply snapped everything into existence. Using God as the source of the laws of physics just doesn’t make sense. Once again, religionists are trying to explain one unknown with another unknown.

The core argument in intelligent design is the fact that evolutionary biologists can't yet fully explain all the features of life; therefore life must have been designed by some intelligent being. This is the old “god of the gaps” argument, and it is logically and historically flawed. It's logically flawed because it's based on a lack of knowledge — explaining these gaps in knowledge by invoking the magic of an unknown (perhaps supernatural) being. Like all “god of the gaps” arguments, this is not falsifiable and can't even be tested. It's historically flawed because science has shown excellent progress in explaining the world around us, and there is nothing to show that evolutionary biology should be abandoned simply because it has not yet explained the origins of every single process of life. Because biochemical processes don't leave behind fossils, it's not as easy to explain their origins as it is for bone structures that do fossilize. However, evolutionary biologists are making excellent progress in understanding the processes and origins of the biochemistry of life.

Life is a process — not a design. It requires an explanation — not an intelligent designer. This explanation is the fact and theory of evolution. “Evolution” simply means change over time. It’s a fact that enormous changes to life on Earth have occurred. The fossil records are clear and unambiguous on this. The theory of evolution explains the processes that caused these changes. The evidence for evolution of life is overwhelming and conclusive. This evidence is not just in the fossils, but also in the the body parts and genes of every living thing. If you have any doubts, take a little time to learn the theory of evolution, then spend a few hours in any natural history museum or public library. If your mind is at all open, you will see the evidence. Remember, ignorance of how evolution works is no argument against it. The basic theory of evolution is completely solid, and will continue to be updated as we learn more about the complex history of life.

You don't even need to go to a natural history museum or library to see evidence for evolution; our own bodies have many signs of our evolutionary heritage. When we get goose bumps, our bodies are trying to keep warm by raising hairs that no longer help. The ability to wiggle ears is of no use for us, but not for some distant ancestors. We also have many useless, vestigial organs such as nipples on males, the appendix and the tailbone, which is just a holdover from when our primate ancestors actually had tails millions of years ago.

In fact, just about every cell in our bodies contains the evidence of our evolutionary origins. The basic process of life on Earth is so common that we share about 50% of our genes with carrots, and more than 98% of our genes with chimpanzees. Here are some useful biological facts:

We get an exact copy of the mitochondria in each cell from our mother.
Every male gets an exact copy of his Y chromosome from his father.
Both the mitochondria and Y chromosomes slowly mutate over time at a known rate.
With this knowledge, geneticists can estimate how recently any two of us shared a common female ancestor, or any two males shared a common male ancestor. Using this information and other data, the evidence strongly points to the claim that most or all of us are descended from a group of Africans that started migrating about 100,000 years ago.

The faults in the design of the human eye, especially, show its evolutionary origins. [Show eye diagram.] When we study the retina at the back of the eye, we can see that the cell layers are backwards. Light has to travel through seven layers of cells before reaching the light sensing cells. Then the signals go back through these layers to the nerves on the inside surface. A truly intelligent designer could have done better than the human eye. In fact, evolution did a better job with the eyes of the octopus and squid, which have the light sensing cells on the surface, where they should be.

Let me address a common example that creationists use. [Go to eye diagram again.] “Look at the wonderful design of the human eye,” they say. “Surely this design could not have happened by chance. It must be that God did it.” Actually, it did happen by chance — countless little chance events of changes in the gene pool over millions of generations, all controlled by the harsh realities of natural selection and survival of the fittest. While the initial changes in the gene pool were chance events, survival of the fittest is obviously not random. This is the heart of the basic theory of evolution; individuals can pass their genes and characteristics on to their offspring. If a gene makes an individual more likely to have offspring that survive, its offspring that carry that gene will be more likely to have offspring that survive. In effect, species are designed to fit their environment. The designer is the blind process of evolution, however, not some god.

You’ve probably heard people say that evolution is “only a theory.” It’s important to remember that the term “theory” in science is not the same as it is in general usage. Basically, a scientific theory is a unifying concept that explains a large body of data. Evolution is the basic unifying concept of biology. The theory of evolution has as much validity as the theory of gravity, atomic theory, or the germ theory of disease.

Even more basic than evolution is the field of science called abiogenesis, which deals with the origins of life from non-life. Simple experiments have shown that amino acids, the molecular units that make up proteins, can be made in lab conditions simulating Earth's early atmosphere. Amino acids are even found in outer space. Amino acids are not living, but abiogenesis scientists are learning many ways that life could have originated from amino acids.

There is an underlying problem with the design argument, and most creationists probably aren’t aware of it. By assuming that living things have some sort of metaphysical purpose, they are intrinsically assuming what they want to prove. Purpose is a human concept. In the Universe, I maintain, things have no intrinsic purpose; they just exist. Does an atom have any purpose? Does a rock? Does a star? Does an amoeba, plant or any living thing have a real external purpose? We could say that living things have the purpose of procreating, of creating more life. However, we must realize that this is just our viewpoint, our interpretation. Rocks, trees, people, and the Universe have no intrinsic purpose. We can create purpose for ourselves, and that is good; but it’s important to understand that purpose is a human construct. Remember, when creationists begin their arguments by noting the design and purpose of nature, they are assuming what they want to prove. Don't be fooled by this logic slight of hand.

A basis for the creationism idea is the concept that humans are at the center of the Universe. The idea of God used to make sense, when people thought that the Earth was the unmoving center of creation, and humans were the reason that there was an Earth and everything else. The biblical Universe was much simpler then. The Earth was at the base, and above was the vast solid dome called the firmament. It contained the stars and held back the celestial waters. Above that were heaven and God.

We now know that the Universe is almost unimaginably immense, complex, and ancient. It is the height of conceit for humans to believe that this whole Universe was made just for us. Our perspective has changed. We are no longer at the center of the Universe — not our planet, not our star, and not even our galaxy. As people grow and mature, one of the big realizations is that they aren’t at the center. It is the same for our species; it is time for us to realize that we are not at the center either.

It is also necessary to note that in order for creationism to be true, these areas of science would be largely false: evolutionary biology, paleobiology, cosmology, physics, paleontology, archeology, historical geology, zoology, botany, and biogeography, plus much of early human history. These fields of science make predictions and get results. Creationism makes no verifiable predictions and gets no useful results, and thus cannot in any way be called a science. A simple example of this is the field of oil exploration, where you won't find any creationist geologists — because they don't get results. And, with large amounts of money at stake, the companies want results.

Studies have shown that most people say that they base their belief in God on the design argument. I think that this is why creationists are putting so much energy into promoting their view. They realize that if the design argument were to fall, people might have to rethink their belief in God.

Argument from Morality
How about morality? Some people say that we need an absolute morality, and that we all have a sense of morality. They say that the only possible source for this morality is God.
Many people have claimed that humans could not have created morality, that there is nothing in evolution or history that mandates it. This is wrong. In order for any social species to function, implicit or explicit rules of interaction are necessary. This is the basic function of morality — rules of interaction that allow us to function cooperatively. Groups of our distant ancestors that had individuals who were cooperative and altruistic would be more likely to succeed. Groups that didn't cooperate would be less likely to succeed. True morality is a human construct; it comes from basic human kindness and our need to work cooperatively. Morality exists only because we create it.

It's also been claimed that humans could not have had the concept of morality. I don't see why not. We're fairly intelligent. Human minds have created many ideas that are far more complex than morality. Why should morality be different?

Let's look at what happens when people claim to get absolute morality from a god. I say that such religious absolutists don't have morality; what they have is a code of obedience, which is not the same. God sets what is supposedly moral, and they obey. If God were to say that murder and theft were moral, people would have to kill and steal to act morally. Actually, this is exactly what is happening with the suicide bombers in the Middle East. This is also what was behind the Crusades, the Inquisitions and 9/11. The fact that we find this so abhorrent shows that morality does not come from a god. God fails the morality test.

A large problem that religious absolutists face is where to get the word of their god or gods. They can get it from divine revelation or from supposedly “holy” books. Each of these sources faces a problem; how do we know that this is the true word of the god? I've already discussed revelation, so let's look at the idea of a holy book. I am most familiar with the Christian Bible, so that's what I'll address.

The Bible is touted by many as a source of ultimate knowledge and morality. It is said to be God’s words to humankind. Have you ever read it? It contradicts itself in many places, is often difficult or impossible to interpret, and is largely simply boring. Some of it looks to me like it was written under the influence of hallucinogens. It contains two very different sets of Ten Commandments and three sets of paternal ancestors for Jesus (with one lineage just being the Holy Ghost). The better-known set of Ten Commandments even says that children can be punished for the sins of their great-grandfathers! The lesser-known set reminds us that we must not cook a young goat in its mother's milk. The story of Jesus' lineage is also confusing. If Joseph didn't impregnate Mary, then why did the Bible's authors try twice to list Joseph's ancestors? (Matthew 1:1-16, Luke 3:23-38)

The Christian Bible has the purported histories of many rapes, slaughters, and other mass killings, most of them apparently condoned by God. They even note how the pregnant women were sliced open (Hosea 13:16) — so much for God being against abortion. In one story that you all know, God drowned almost everyone and everything on the planet merely because he didn’t like the activities of some of the people in his creation. In another story, 42 children were killed in the name of God, just for calling a man bald. In addition, the bible prescribes the death penalty for many supposed “sins” that most of us don't even consider to be very wrong, such as working on Sunday. Do these tales and penalties show the actions of a loving god? God seems to be more of a capricious, cruel, vindictive, schizophrenic mass murderer than a paragon of moral virtue, and Satan comes off as the good guy. After all, how many people did Satan kill? For those of you who still think that morality should come from the Christian Bible, I ask, what do you think about slavery and child abuse? Not once in the entire Bible is slavery or child abuse condemned, not even in the writings about Jesus. In fact both are condoned in many places. Even Jesus had recommendations about beating and killing slaves (Luke 12:42-48). I would bet that any one of you could do a better job of defining morals than what is in the Bible. The Christian Bible, its god, and its savior all fail the morality test.

What about the historical veracity of the Christian Bible? People say that archeological evidence shows that some places and people mentioned in the Bible really existed; therefore the Bible is true. This is like saying that Gone With the Wind is true because the Civil War actually occurred. Let's look at one biblical personage — King Herod the Great, who ruled from 39 - 4 BCE. His supposed slaughter of the innocents is not mentioned by any historian of the time, and is thus a complete fabrication.

Jesus died for our sins. This is one of the primary moral points of Christianity, and it is formally known as substitutive sacrifice. It was practiced by many religions, when they killed sacrificial animals or humans on altars. What kind of morality is this, where one person has to die because of what others have done? When we look at cultures that sacrificed animals or humans, we call them barbaric and primitive. It makes no difference if the person being sacrificed agrees; it is still blatantly, repugnantly immoral.

Using religion as a source for morality completely collapses when we look at religious positions now and in history. There are religious people with different positions on such moral issues as the death penalty, abortion, and women’s rights. How can this be, if they all get the same divine words from the same god? Racism, misogyny, and slavery were once considered perfectly moral by large portions of humankind, and were seen as having a religious basis. Also, the killings done in the name of God, by most religions, are legendary. Thus religion cannot give us the answers to these moral issues. Our culture has changed, along with our laws, and these evils are no longer acceptable in modern society. Morality is a social and legal construct, not a religious one. Religion fails the morality test.

Argument from Authority
I think that most people begin their belief in God because something or someone said that God exists. This is called the “argument from authority.” We just discussed the Bible as one of these sources. There are other sources for other religions, such as the Koran for the Muslims.
What does it mean, when we believe something based on an authority? It means that we are taking something or someone else’s words as truth. We all do this for most subjects, because we can’t be experts on everything. Our first authorities are the people who raise us. This is because we are born with no innate knowledge of the world, and have to learn it from scratch. We soon start learning from other sources, such as friends, teachers, books and other written material. As we learn, we develop a map in our minds of what the world is like. This map becomes a truth filter. When we look at a new idea, we typically compare it to the mental map that we have. If the idea fits well in the map, we can add it. If the idea doesn’t fit, we have a problem. We must either throw out the idea, or make a change to the map. Change is difficult and often painful, so most people tend to throw out ideas that don’t fit their mental map.

When we use someone or something as an authority, we often bypass the comparison process, and plug the new ideas directly into the map. This can save us a lot of mental work. However, it also opens us to believing in things and ideas that aren’t true. Since we can’t be experts on everything, we thus have a problem — what and whom can we implicitly believe? For me, since I want my mental map to be as accurate as possible, I have chosen the methods of science and reason as my ultimate authority. Science and reason have been shown to be the best predictors of how the world functions. Science and reason aren’t perfect, but they are self-correcting. Other sources of authority are too prone to misinformation.

One large difference between science and religion is this: In science, if the facts don't fit the theory, the theory is tossed out. In religion, if the facts don't fit the theory, the facts are tossed out.

Argument from Prophesy and Miracles
Now, let’s discuss prophesy and miracles. I am continually astounded at just how little evidence people are willing to accept for proof of these. Prophesies that did come true are often easy to explain, once you understand that it’s easy to predict something if it has already occurred, or that actions were done merely to fulfill prophesy, or that events or prophesies were fabricated. There are also many prophesies that haven’t come true. As for religious miracles, the evidence is so slim that they should be relegated to hearsay. As Carl Sagan said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” With this in mind, which is more likely, that true prophesies and miracles have actually occurred, or that they are just tall tales?
Even if truly inexplicable 'prophesies' or 'miracles' have occurred, that does not mean that there's a god. It could just mean that a person has peculiar skills or technological help that we don't understand. We all can imagine how easy it would be to go to a primitive tribe of humans and impress them with 'god-like' skills that are the result of our technology, medicine, or knowledge. It's reasonable to consider that we could be fooled by technology that is far in advance of our own. As famous science fiction author Sir Arthur C. Clarke wrote, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Let’s consider one well-known miracle, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. First, there is absolutely no verifiable evidence that Jesus ever even lived. Second, even if he did exist, there is no verifiable evidence that he actually died on the cross. This makes Jesus’ supposed ‘resurrection’ much more possible in a purely natural sense.

Argument from Religious Faith
Next, let’s look at religious faith. What is faith? It is the firm belief in something for which no proof exists. As Mark Twain once said, “Faith is believing what you know ain't so.” Religious faith proves nothing, except the bullheadedness of the believer. If you have faith, you don’t need proof. If you have proof, you don’t need faith. Therefore, any attempt to use faith as a basis for proof is intrinsically doomed to failure. A recent example of absolute faith and its possible consequences can illustrate the objective failures of religious faith. I ask you, on September 11, 2001, whose faith was the most effective? I say that it was the suicidal pilots of those three planes that crashed into the buildings. If you believe in the primacy of religious faith, there is no way to differentiate between yours and theirs, for it is all purely subjective. Religious faith fails as a proof for God.

Logical Arguments for God(s)
How about logical arguments for the existence of God? Let’s look at a proof for God that relies on reason alone. It is called the ontological argument, and it basically says that God exists because we can conceive of God. One of the characteristics of God is existence; therefore, God exists. This argument is so obtuse that it’s ridiculous. It is just confusion between the existence of ideas and the existence of real things. Simply saying that something (like Satan, Jesus or God) exists does not make it exist. All that exist are the ideas (in our minds) of Satan, Jesus or God.
There are some people who claim that God is the source of logic, therefore we can't even use logic without presupposing the existence of God. They say that logic can't be created from unformed matter; therefore God formed the matter and created logic. This argument is known as presuppositionalist, or the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God. The names are fancy, and my response is simple. Logic is a pattern of thinking, and patterns can emerge from simple rules. There are many examples of complex patterns coming out of simple rules, such as snowflakes and waves forming. There is nothing in our everyday experience that indicates that some higher power is necessary for these patterns, and there is nothing that proves that a god is necessary for the patterns we call logic. Additionally, the presuppositionalist argument gives little indication as to the qualities of the god it presupposes — much like the first cause argument. The argument is just another way of answering a supposedly difficult question with the simple response, “God did it.”

If anything is not logical, it is most religions. I am most familiar with Christianity, so let's look at its basic claims:

A supernatural god exists that created everything and intervenes in the natural world.
This god had a son whose mother was a virgin.
This son did many miracles, including making a dead person alive again.
This son was killed, and came back to life one and a half (not three) days later.
There is not any empirical, verifiable evidence for any of this. There is also much experience from everyday life that virgins can't get pregnant (without modern medicine) and that people who have been dead for a while can't come back to life. Thus, belief in the above claims is illogical.
There is an argument for belief in God that is called Pascal’s Wager, named for Blaise Pascal who conceived it. The argument goes like this: Either there is a god or there isn’t. If you believe in God, and God exists, then you win big time and go to heaven. If you don’t believe in God, and God exists, you lose big time and go to hell. If there is no god, then you haven’t lost much by believing. So the obvious choice is to believe in God, because it’s simply the best bet.

Pascal’s Wager has several faults. The biggest problem is that it’s not a proof of any god’s existence; it’s just an argument for believing, a method of extorting the gullible thru fear. Like many other such arguments we have discussed, it also fails to denote exactly which god it refers to. Pascal’s Wager could be applied to any god that offers rewards and punishments. Taken to extreme, following the wager would necessitate betting on the god with the worst hell, so it could be avoided.

Another problem with Pascal’s Wager is that it completely ignores intellectual integrity and honesty. As an example, let’s talk about belief in Santa Claus. Don’t we have more respect for a child who figures out that Santa doesn’t exist, and says so, rather than continuing to lie so he can get more presents? It's a sign of growing integrity and maturity for children to stop believing in Santa. Similarly, adults can give up belief in a god when they realize that there's no real evidence for their god.

Comfort and Emotion
I think that many people continue to believe in a god because it gives them comfort; it’s an emotional response. It allows them to pray to their god, and think that they’re actually accomplishing something. It gives them feelings of structure and meaning in their lives, and makes them feel connected. It helps remove the fear of death and nonexistence that most of us experience. Belief in the Christian god helps remove people's fear of Christian hell that has been pounded into their minds. Belief in a god also makes the world more black and white, less confusing, and easier to deal with. But, is this any actual proof for the existence of a god? Is comfort a good indicator of the truth of external reality? I don’t think that it is. George Bernard Shaw said it best. “The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.”

Belief in God, and How it Affects Our World
This question about the existence of a god is not merely a philosophical exercise; it has pertinent applications to the world in which we live. I will talk about four areas — education, politics, medicine, and everyday life.

God and Education
In education, at the same time that we have a rise of fundamentalist religions in the U.S., the youth of America are scoring lower on scholastic tests. How can many of them learn to think rationally when they are taught, by their parents or religious schools, such irrational concepts as creationism and invisible, immaterial beings? Here are some disturbing statistics:

62% of Americans think that we should teach both creationism and evolution in schools.
55% believe that God created humans in present form.
45% believe that the world is less than 10,000 years old.
43% think that we should teach just creationism in schools, including half of those who attend religious services every week.
36% believe in telepathy.
35% say the evolution is well-supported by the evidence.
35% say the evolution is not well-supported by the evidence.
25% believe in astrology.
13% think that Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife.
Only 12% of Americans accept the standard scientific account of evolution.
Belief in an omnipotent deity allows people to use sloppy logic. If they are faced with a difficult question about why an event occurred, all they have to say is, “God did it.” Then the reason behind the event is a mystery. This is the old “god of the gaps” answer, and it’s an intellectual cop-out. It answers nothing; it predicts nothing; and it teaches nothing. To counter this we must ensure that scientific naturalism is taught in our schools. As students understand better how the world works, their personal gods of the gaps will diminish. If we want to have a strong democracy, our students and future voters must understand the simple facts of the world around us, in order to make informed decisions.

God and Politics
God bless America. We’ve all heard it countless times, especially from politicians. It is a very dangerous concept, for it can give us the arrogance and invulnerability of supposedly divine leadership where we can do no wrong. It can also give us the idea that we have the responsibility to impose our beliefs on other countries — whether they want us to or not.
The Roman leaders used to require that every Roman citizen pray to the Roman gods, to ensure victory for their armies. There’s an old saying that goes like this:
To the Romans, all religions were equally true.
To the philosophers, all religions were equally false.
To the politicians, all religions were equally useful.

Does this sound familiar? Our politicians keep pulling God and religion into politics. President George W. Bush's mangling of the wall separating state and church is well documented. In 1954, when President Eisenhower signed the bill adding “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance, his words explicitly showed that the idea was to link religiosity and patriotism. In 1988 President Reagan established the National Day of Prayer. On March 27, 2003, House Resolution 153 passed by an overwhelming vote. It urges the President to issue a proclamation “designating a day for humility, prayer, and fasting for all people of the United States.” We are “to seek guidance from God to achieve a greater understanding of our own failings,” and “to gain resolve in meeting the challenges that confront our nation.” The Senate unanimously passed a similar bill. These government actions violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the First Amendment. I say that we are becoming a de facto theocracy. Do you agree? [Pause.]

A basic source of incompatibility between religion and democracy lies in how each deals with points of view that disagree. Religion is usually based on divisive absolutes like right and wrong, good and evil, God and Satan, us and them. Democracy needs to be based on compromise. This is why democracy functions best when religion and its divisiveness are kept out of government.

Many religious and political leaders say that our freedoms and liberties come from God. I say that freedoms do not exist without the ability to enforce them. In the U.S., this power originates in our Constitution and is implemented by our officials enforcing the Constitution. In many ways, we can say that our government created our freedoms. If God is the source of freedom, why was there so little of it before our nation was formed? And, why does it take a government to enforce that freedom?

It’s important to remember that our nation was founded as the first country that derived its power from a purely secular, nonreligious basis. All nations before then had kings and queens who used their supposed “God-given divine right” to rule. Instead of this top-down power structure, our founders wisely created a government that derived its powers from the consent of the governed. They also realized the inherent divisiveness of religion and the many bloody wars that had been fought over religion, and kept it specifically out of our Constitution and government. God is not even mentioned in our Constitution. Religion is only mentioned twice — both times to keep religion and government separate. The Treaty of Tripoli, written during the administration of President George Washington, signed by President John Adams, and unanimously approved by the Senate, stated, “The Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” How could we as a nation have forgotten such an important fact? [Pause.]

Many Christians are still trying to make the United States a Christian nation. They will point out that many of our founding fathers were religious, and that “God” and “Creator” are mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. What they don't mention is the fact that the religion of some of the founding fathers was Deism — not Christianity, the fact that the Declaration of Independence refers to “Nature's God” — a Deistic god, not a Christian god, and the fact that the Declaration of Independence is not a basis of our government - the Constutition is. It's often said that the phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the Constitution. The phrase originated with Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, when he wrote, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.”

God and Medicine
Let’s look at religion and medicine. Religious leaders have consistently come out against medical advances. Hundreds of years ago, they were against autopsies and medical use of cadavers for research. In the 1800’s Christians fought the use of anesthetics on the ground that suffering is God's will and therefore must be endured. This was particularly true for a woman’s pain during childbirth, because they could quote the Bible to support their position. Currently, some religious groups prohibit life-saving blood transfusions. Children die every year because their parents withhold medical treatment, trusting in God instead. Many religious leaders are preventing access to birth control, disease prevention, and information about sexuality. They act as though they would prefer to see people dying of disease and starvation, rather than allow the population to have forbidden products and information. Recently they have come out against very promising areas of medicine, such as fetal cell research, stem cell research, and therapeutic cloning. They have also convinced our government that these areas of research should be prohibited or severely limited. This has real implications for reducing the possible medical treatments available for each of us. Not all religions want this research limited; but many do, and they fail the medical test.

God and Everyday Life
Let’s look at God and everyday life. If there really were a personal god, the existence of this god would be an obvious fact in the Universe. God would be reaching into events in the world, and bypassing the laws of physics to influence the outcomes. People who lost limbs might have them re-appear. Babies killed in fires might come back to life. Other true miracles would happen. I've seen none of this, and I'd bet that no one else here has either. In fact, there is no reliable evidence of any divine intervention, ever! God fails the reality test of everyday life.
We've looked at religion and education, politics, medicine, and everyday life. “What's the harm in religion?” some people say. I think that I've shown the harm. Madalyn Murray O'Hair summarized it well when she said, “Religion has ever been anti-human, anti-woman, anti-life, anti-peace, anti-reason and anti-science. The god idea has been detrimental not only to humankind but to the earth. It is time now for reason, education and science to take over.”

God is just an Idea
What could an invisible, immaterial god be like? This immaterial god would have an immaterial mind, and the only minds that we have any examples of result from physical brains. The only invisible, immaterial things that I know of are ideas, like mathematic, scientific and social concepts. Although ideas can be powerful in moving people to action, they are human creations and have no separate reality. If humankind were to disappear tomorrow, so would ideas — including the idea of God.
The English language even has a term for this — “reify,” which means “to regard something abstract as real or concrete.” The god idea is about as abstract as possible, with no real evidence for existence. However, people have been regarding some god or gods as real for thousands of years.

Proofs, and Qualities of God(s)
Ultimately though, it’s not necessary to prove that a god doesn’t exist. It is up to the god-believers to prove that their god or gods exist, for they are making the assertion of the existence of something that is not immediately visible. For example, if I were to claim that there is an invisible ten-foot tall pink unicorn in this room, and demand that you feed her, you could justifiably expect some sort of hard proof. The same concept of proof lies with those who claim that an invisible, immaterial god exists. Thus, even if all proofs of the nonexistence of gods were to fail, it would still be necessary for theists to prove the actual existence of their god, if they expect us to take them seriously.
Some people say that we can’t prove that the Christian god doesn’t exist, that to do so we would have to have absolute knowledge. This is wrong. Depending on how we define a god, it is possible to prove that it doesn’t exist, just like it is possible to prove that square circles don’t exist. The god of Abraham is typically defined as having free will, and being all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good and eternal.

It's important to note that these qualities of God were concocted by humans, and have no examples in the real world — much like the capabilities of Superman.

God's qualities sound pretty good. Unfortunately these attributes are mutually exclusive and can’t all exist in one being, no matter how supernatural it is. God can’t have free will and be all-knowing and all-powerful. If God knows the future, God would be unable to change it, and thus could not be all-powerful. As a simple example, let’s say that God declares what tomorrow’s winning lottery numbers will be, and writes them down. However, now God can’t change those numbers. God can’t both know the future and change it.

God also can’t be both all-good and all-powerful, because terrible events really do occur, and this all-loving god hasn’t prevented them. This is known as the problem of evil, and I think that it is one of the biggest problems for those attempting to prove the existence of the Christian god. How can anybody explain the existence of a loving, all-powerful god, while also knowing the bad things that happen to all of us and the terrible things that happen to far too many?

The ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus summed it up well when he wrote these ideas:

Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can and does not want to.
If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent.
If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked.
If, as they say, God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?
And yet the idea of an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good god with free will won’t go away. So, here we are discussing this subject again. It’s good to remember that there have been over 2500 gods created by humankind. Monotheists don’t believe in all but one of them. Atheists don’t believe in just one more.
In fact, the existence of honest and kind Atheists is another proof that the Christian god doesn't exist. If this all-good god existed, it would want everybody to be saved — even Atheists. If this all-knowing god existed, it would know that Atheists just want real proof of its existence. If this god were all-powerful it would be able to give unambiguous proof of its existence. It hasn't. Therefore this god doesn't exist.

Atheism, Agnosticism and Humanism
The Atheist position is that the Universe is understandable and explainable in the naturalistic terms of science and mathematics. There is no need or reliable evidence to show that any god or gods exist.
Why Atheism and not Agnosticism? Many people say that there still could be a god, that we can’t totally disprove the existence of all types of gods. That is true, but common Agnosticism ends up splitting hairs and being intellectually lazy. We’ve seen that there is no reliable evidence that any god exists, especially a personal god of the Christian/Jewish/Muslim type. This typical personal god would show up in its interactions with the real, physical world. As I said, there is no empirical evidence of this. Thus, in this case, absence of evidence is evidence of absence. This leaves only marginal gods that have little or no interaction with humans and the world. Do we think that the ancient Greek gods still exist? How about the Roman, Norse or Mayan gods? How about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny? Of course not. There is no verifiable evidence for any supernatural guy in a red suit, magic rabbit, or gods. Just like it’s theoretically possible for a ’57 Chevy to be orbiting Mars, some gods are also theoretically possible, but ridiculously improbable. So, let’s be honest with ourselves and look at the world with open eyes, as it actually is.

The truth is that we are, each of us, all alone in our minds. Many people have imaginary friends called gods to make them feel less alone. Some learn to give up their imaginary friends. It's sometimes not easy not believing, and it is intellectually honest. We Atheists can derive strength from that. People have been struggling with mortality for thousands of years. Here are three more quotes that I like:

The first is again from the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus. “Why should I fear death? If I am, death is not. If death is, I am not. Why should I fear that which can only exist when I do not?”

The scientist/philosopher Carl Sagan wrote, “For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

Mark Twain wrote, “I was dead for millions of years before I was born and it never inconvenienced me a bit.”
Many religious people ask how Atheists can be happy without God. For me and for many Atheists I know, the realization of our Atheism has been extremely freeing and has opened us to our own happiness.
Atheism gives us the ability to see the Universe as it actually is, without the mental filters of superstition preventing us from directly experiencing it.
Atheism allows us to experience our selves, without the debasing idea that we are innately sinful.
Atheism gives us the freedom to think for ourselves, to construct our own meanings. We each can choose what we think has value.
Atheism allows us to experience true interpersonal love, without any supernatural intervention.
Atheism lets us see that we have to make choices about our future. No big daddy god is going to protect us from bad decisions.
Atheism teaches us to treasure this moment, this life, and this world — because we realize that it’s all we have.

Most Atheists are also Secular Humanists. The philosophy of Secular Humanism takes the Atheist position and adds another layer. It declares that humans are most important, not any imaginary gods. We have the power, thru love, reason, science, courage, and vision, to solve our problems. We shape our destiny. We are each capable of personal development and satisfaction. Humanism holds as its highest goal the happiness, fulfillment, and freedom of all humankind.
This has been a long and involved talk, so I would like to conclude with letting you know the bad news ... and the good news. The bad news is that there is no god to watch over and care for us. The good news is that there is no hell, and we can all love and care for each other — if we so choose.

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Old 01-17-2005, 10:02 PM   #2
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Big posts but I would subscripe to the above philosophy.

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Old 01-17-2005, 10:02 PM   #3
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PS. The only thing I would debate is in his argument, he claims that the universe is both infinite and has been around for 13 billion years. These two events cannot exist simultaneously. He means that to date the universe can be traced back 13 billion years. When he says “fact” he means information that can and has been tested for validity and reliability.

-think it's important to keep those in mind.

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Old 01-17-2005, 10:11 PM   #4
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You've already read the whole thing? I haven't even finished it yet!!

mind you, it's 2 am here? What the heck time is it over there?

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Old 01-17-2005, 10:12 PM   #5
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oh...i see. dinner time.
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Old 01-17-2005, 10:15 PM   #6
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I read that page a while back, also I am familiar with the logical arguments and how they are refuted e.g. Pascal's wager.
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Old 01-17-2005, 10:17 PM   #7
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I can safely presume I'm the only one reading and breastfeeding a squirming child. Therefore I win the slowest reader award.
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Old 01-17-2005, 10:22 PM   #8
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Originally posted by beli
I can safely presume I'm the only one reading and breastfeeding a squirming child. Therefore I win the slowest reader award.
hahahaha! You have me laughing out loud at this hour. I'm sorry. That may be a safe assumption....but becareful what you presume around skeptics...

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Old 01-17-2005, 10:28 PM   #9
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subscribe to most of it
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Old 01-18-2005, 12:10 AM   #10
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I agree with most of it. Perhaps not the language and tone of the speech. eg the reference to the bible "some of it looks to me like it was written under the influence of hallucinogens", and "is largely simply boring" is emotive and not relevant to the argument. Is anyone familiar with Mark Thomas background please? Hes giving off a wee bit of an exChristian vibe. Not a lot, and it is well constrained, but the scent is still present.

"Arguments from Morality"
I had a bit of an issue with the consentual sacrific section but I do agree with him in the sense stated ie "where one person has to die because of what others have done". I was going to rant about the right to choose ones own death regardless of how stupid the purpose, but I don't believe hes arguing to the contrary.

"God and Education"
I would like to see the same statistics for previous years, before the "rise of fundamentalist religions in the U.S". His conclusions may well be accurate but, hey, I'm a sceptic.

But yes, on the whole, I agree. Thank you for posting a link.
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Old 01-18-2005, 12:57 AM   #11
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Originally posted by beli
I agree with most of it. Perhaps not the language and tone of the speech. eg the reference to the bible "some of it looks to me like it was written under the influence of hallucinogens", and "is largely simply boring" is emotive and not relevant to the argument. Is anyone familiar with Mark Thomas background please? Hes giving off a wee bit of an exChristian vibe. Not a lot, and it is well constrained, but the scent is still present.

Actually I got a laugh out of the "is largely simply boring" line. Guess I'm a wicked one.

I think perhaps the reason you get the exChristian vibe is that growing up in the US not believing in a god (especially the Judeo/Christian perception of God), one is often made out to be a freak. So it's not surprising to me that there might be a bit of a grudge showing through.

You had the benefit of not having that pressure. Trust me, be very thankful for that.
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Old 01-18-2005, 02:09 AM   #12
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Could'nt quote properly for some reason, but I'm arguing about the below text: I'll get to other sections later.

God and Everyday Life
Let’s look at God and everyday life. If there really were a personal god, the existence of this god would be an obvious fact in the Universe. God would be reaching into events in the world, and bypassing the laws of physics to influence the outcomes. People who lost limbs might have them re-appear. Babies killed in fires might come back to life. Other true miracles would happen. I've seen none of this, and I'd bet that no one else here has either. In fact, there is no reliable evidence of any divine intervention, ever! God fails the reality test of everyday life.
We've looked at religion and education, politics, medicine, and everyday life. “What's the harm in religion?” some people say. I think that I've shown the harm. Madalyn Murray O'Hair summarized it well when she said, “Religion has ever been anti-human, anti-woman, anti-life, anti-peace, anti-reason and anti-science. The god idea has been detrimental not only to humankind but to the earth. It is time now for reason, education and science to take over.”

OK my response:
In a relationship between a typical husband and wife, they both love each other immensly right?.... A wife wants her husband to SHOW that he loves her and vice versa.... So for each other to be fulfilled....both have to show love to each other... if one does'nt then the relationship gradually breaks down and disintergrates.
NOW suppose you yourself were GOD and you created The universe and put humans (created in your own image) on a planet... Now you love these humans.. but you want them to love you back and show their own willing desire to love you, you don't want to force them, because then the love would'nt come from thier own will. You give them the power to make their own decisions and to shape thier own destinys...

Why should God interfere directly?? He wants us to show love for him...He does'nt want it to be too easy either...we are meant to go through some hardships and trials along the way, so that in the end we have completly proven our love for him..... Then at the end he will say...Enter into my Kingdom child.
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Old 01-18-2005, 02:19 AM   #13
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I would like to add to his last remark in his speech that in this case

. The bad news is that there is no god to watch over and care for us. The good news is that there is no hell, and we can all love and care for each other — if we so choose.

Going from past history and mankinds CHOSEN reputation of managing this planet we are all DOOOMED!!!!!!!!!!

because the majority of mankind seem to be motivated by wealth power greed and selfishness which why the planet is such a mess...

science and technology has not solved all the problems but actually created a lot... chemical weapons nuclear bombs ect... pesticides that are ruining ths soils and the seas... polluting the atmosphere ect ect.. these things have been going on quite rapidly in the last century since Technology and science made headway the delicate balance of nature is being eroded.... so it seems we are all out to wipe out this planet and the people on it..

They have all this knowledge why do they still spend more on weapons than solving the problems of feeding the poor, why is it only those with money can afford the best treatment, while those with little have to go without are forgotten about suffer and die
with only a few people caring enough in the world to see that its all wrong and they are having a very hard fight to convince those in power to do anything about it

Why is their moutains of food stored up and buried and let go to waste in certain parts of the world while they sit around watching the rest die of poverty and starvation is this a sign of humanterism or power and greed?

Then there is the UN.. mankinds so called hope.. yet I have read threads here about it being corrupt and fairly usless its attempts to solve the big problems in the world.. so where does that leave us?

Why do humans never learn from their mistakes,? we had the 1st world war in 1914.. supposedly a war to end all wars.. yet not long after that we have a second world war and creat even bigger badder weapons to kill even more people innocent ones at that

and mankind in general don't have a clue what they are doing.. and no matter how good people intentions are.. this whole human system is flawed where money and power matters more than human life.. and that is a fact and I am not looking anytime soon to mankind solving the problems in the world .

In this case evolution is the biggest flaw and joke that through time it has passed to make intelligent humans that acts really stupid and seem hellbent on the road to self distruction

In general we are arrogant to assume we know it all.. when we know absolutely nothing
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Old 01-18-2005, 03:44 AM   #14
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QUOTE: Why? Why am I doing this? Is it just because I want to poke holes in people’s beliefs so that we can take away what makes them happy? No, I’m doing this because I want to know what is true, be intellectually honest, and be open to reality. And, I hope that you are here for the same reasons.

OK, lets talk about Truth and Reality:
Scientists, yes even evolutionists have found that the Earth is so perfect for human life's just not possible.
1. Our Sun is situated well away from any explosive forces seen in many places across our galaxy and other galaxies.
2. The Earth is the just the right distance away from the Sun, campared to the temperatures on Venus and Mars and Mercury.
3. The Earth has a tilt and this coincides beautifully with a full rotation around the Sun...this influences the wheather patterns on we have different seasons which keeps the wheather cycles going. The seasons compliment each other to create a perfect eco-system.
4. The Earth has an atmosphere which keeps temperatures from going to extremes. 400 Degrees Celsius continually on Venus.
Same heat on Mercury, but on the shady side it drops to -180 degrees. Togethor the atmosphere and magnetic field on Earth is just right compared to Venus which has 90 times the pressure as Earth.
5. The Earth has a satellite which effects the tides (and the tectonic plates in a positive way[I'm still trying to find my specific evidence for this..I seem to have misplaced it]). The tidal system effects the wheather as much as the seasonal changes effect the wheather or even more so. The Moon's gravitational pushing and pulling on the crust varies by some 12 per cent each month
6. Water on Earth enables many possibilities, and co-existing with Oxygen enables life to survive.
7. Trees and plants that provide nutrients in the soil, so that they can continue to survive...plants provide the basis of the food structure.

All of these plus more enable life to exist, not only to exist but to flourish......what are the chances of all of the above happening in a universe that somehow came from a big-bang (or whatever the latest assumption is). You hear scientists rattling off the percentages of finding life or finding a habitibal world in some far off galaxy.... after weighing up all the facts...the chances of there being another 'Earth' out there comes to 0.00000000000000000000000001 percent or less.
Add up the 7 points I made above and more that many of you will think of and you come up with a realistic percentage of absolutley zero of planet Earth being like it's simply mind boggling is'nt it!?
The Earth is so perfect it's not possible.
Surely we can't exist without there being a creator.
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Old 01-18-2005, 03:58 AM   #15
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Let me put this in perspective


Is 10^-21 - the odds of there being a planet exactly like earth.

If the universe is infinitely large then an infinite number of planets must exist therefore no matter what the odds against then an infinite number of earth like planets must also exist.

Logically it works because;

10^-21 x infinite = infinite.

Which means that there is an infinite number of planets with life on them.

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