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The challenges that materialist atheism cannot face effectively

Our own Gil Dodgen has written some interesting posts on how he ceased to be an atheist, and now I see that columnist Frank Pastore weighs in on the same theme. He lists four challenges to atheism, as follows:

1. Origin of the universe

2. Origin of life

3. Origin of the mind

4. Origin of morality

What I found while researching By Design or by Chance? and The Spiritual Brain is not that materialists have no answers but that their answers are based mainly on promissory materialism (hey folks, we’re still working on it. Give us another few centuries …), when they are not based on merely suppressing dissent or promoting foolish ideas to the popular science media.

Anyway, Pastore advises,

Since the pre-Socratics, atheists have been intellectual parasites living off the host of Western Civilization. Able to con-struct so very little of their own that is either true, good, or beautiful, they live on the borrowed capital of their believing intellectual parents. Atheists have been asserting the same basic mechanistic worldview, and with roughly the same suc-cess, for centuries. They sell books and win converts from time to time, sure, especially among those gullible enough to buy the “just popped” thesis. Don’t be gullible.

 I’d be interested to hear Gil’s reaction.

The thing to keep in mind though, it seems to me, is that the materialist/Darwinist will always come up with an explanation within his system – in the same way and for the same reasons as the Marxist could always come up with an explanation within his system for any given fact.

For example, according to evolutionary psychologists, religion is and is not adaptive – both points of view can be maintained within evolutionary psychology quite comfortably, even though they cancel each other out and imply that the discipline - if discipline it is - is not capable of discovering basic, definite information about the origin of religion.

The only point of view that cannot be maintained within standard evolutionary psychology is that religion is evidence of transcendence – that is, it arose because, at one time or another, people really did contact a reality behind the universe.

I am hardly surprised to learn that dying de-spiritualized religious denominations have been flirting with evolutionary psychology; it’s only useful function, so far as I can see, is as a sort of humane lethal injection that puts such institutions out of their collective misery before they mislead anyone else about the nature of spiritual experience. The would-be remaining congregants would invariably be better off somewhere else anyway.

 UPDATE: I can’t bring myself to make this a regular post, so I have simply added it to this post. Go here to get some idea of what Darwinian biology, pursued seriously, can lead to. (Thanks to John A. Davison, a sometimes-banned commenter here at Uncommon Descent, for letting us know.) – Denyse

Here are some of my recent posts on related subjects at the Post-Darwinist and the Mindful Hack :

Denyse O’ Leary’s take on the Economist’s recent relatively reasonable piece on the growing globalization of intelligent design advocacy: I know no reason to think that the elite Economistas are particularly happy with the grassroots uprising against radical materialism, but one really remarkable thing about both this article and Patricia Cohen’s account of a recent debate between conservatives in The New York Times is the slow decline in language bias. Has it begun to dawn on some newsrooms that Darwinism really is a problem and that intelligent design is not going away?

Denyse O’Leary’s take on the media significance of the fact that Michael Behe was asked to write the entry for Richard Dawkins in Time 100.

Pope Benedict vs. a chance origin of the universe – lines from an early lecture.

Why there is no compatibility between traditional communities of any kind and accounts of spiritual beliefs derived from Darwinism.

A most interesting survey of views in evolutionary psychology on religious belief makes quite clear that there is NO room in the evo psycho paradigm for the view that spirituality relates to any fact about the universe. Hence the folly of trying to get traditional communities to support Darwinian evolution. .

On language and mystical experience: can language tell us what is real?

A Washington Post article reveals that 53 percent of university profs have unfavorable feelings toward evangelicals. Is that partly because so many doubt Darwin? (This one is at Access Research Network.)

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87 Responses to The challenges that materialist atheism cannot face effectively

  1. How the consciousness relates to the body has two prevailing schools of thought challenging each other for the right to be called the truth. The first school of thought is Theistic in its philosophy; consciousness is a independent and separable entity from the brain. This school of thought implies it is possible to live beyond the of our brains. The second school of thought is Materialistic in its philosophy; consciousness is an dependent and inseparable product of the brain. This school of thought implies we die when the brain dies. Knowledge has recently come to light, establishing the first school of thought as the truth.
    Neuro-physiological (brain/body) research is now being performed, using a new scientific tool, trans-cranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). This tool allows scientists to study the brain non-invasively. TMS can excite or inhibit normal electrical activity in specific parts of the brain, depending on the amount of energy administered by TMS. This tool allows scientists to pinpoint what is happening in different regions of the brain (functional mapping of the brain). TMS is wide-ranging in its usefulness; allowing the study of brain/muscle connections, the five senses, language, the patho-physiology of brain disorders, as well as mood disorders, such as depression. TMS may even prove to be useful for therapy for such brain disorders. TMS also allows the study of how memories are stored. The ability of TMS for inhibiting (turning off) specific portions of the brain is the very ability which reveals things that are very illuminating to the topic we are investigating.
    When the electromagnetic activity of a specific portion of the brain is inhibited by the higher energies of TMS, it impairs the functioning of the particular portion of the body associated with the particular portion of the brain being inhibited. For example; when the visual cortex (a portion of the brain) is inhibited by higher energies of TMS, the person undergoing the procedure will temporarily become blind while it is inhibited. One notable exception to this “becoming impaired rule” is a person’s memory. When the elusive “memory” portion of the brain is inhibited, a person will have a vivid flashback of a past part of their life. This very odd “amplification” of a memory indicates this fact; memories are stored in the “spiritual” consciousness independent of the brain. All of the bodies other physical functions which have physical connections in the brain are impaired when their corresponding portion of the brain loses its ability for normal electromagnetic activity. One would very well expect memories to be irretrievable from the brain if they were physically stored. Yet memories are vividly brought forth into consciousness when their corresponding locations in the brain are temporarily inhibited. This indicates that memories are somehow stored on a non-physical basis, separate from the brain in the “spiritual” consciousness. Memory happens to be a crucially integrated part of any thinking consciousness. This is true, whether or not consciousness is physically or spiritually-based. Where memory is actually located is a sure sign of where the consciousness is actually located. It provides a compelling clue as to whether consciousness is physically or spiritually-based. Vivid memory recall, upon inhibition of a portion of brain where memory is being communicated from consciousness, is exactly what one would expect to find if consciousness is ultimately self-sufficient of brain function and spiritually-based. The opposite result, a ening of memories, is what one would expect to find if consciousness is ultimately physically-based. According to this insight, a large portion, if not all, of the one quadrillion synapses that have developed in the brain as we became s, are primarily developed as pathways for information to be transmitted to, and memories to be transmitted from, our consciousness. The synapses of the brain are not, in and of themselves, our primary source for memories. Indeed, decades of extensive research by brilliant, Nobel prize-winning, minds have failed to reveal where memory is stored in the brain. Though Alzheimer’s and other disorders affect the brain’s overall ability to recover memories, this is only an indication that the overall ability of the brain to recover memory from the consciousness has been affected, and does not in any way conclusively establish that memory is actually stored in the brain.
    In other evidence, many children who have had hemispherectomies (half their brains removed due to life threatening epileptic conditions) at Johns Hopkins Medical Center, are in high school; and one, a college student, is on the dean’s list. The families of these children can barely believe the transformation; and not so long ago, neurologists and neuro-surgeons found it hard to believe as well. What is surprising for these people is that they are having their overriding materialistic view of brain correlation to consciousness overturned. In other words; since, it is presumed by Materialism that the brain is the primary generator of consciousness; then, it is totally expected for a person having half their brain removed to be severely affected when it comes to memory and personality. This is clearly a contradiction between the Materialistic and Theistic philosophies. According to Materialistic dogma, memory and personality should be affected, just as badly, or at least somewhat as badly, as any of the other parts of the body, by removal of half the brain. Yet, as a team of neuro-surgeons that have done extensive research on the after effects of hemispherectomy at John Hopkins Medical Center comment: “We are awed by the apparent retention of the child’s memory after removal of half of the brain, either half; and by the retention of the child’s personality and sense of humor.” Though a patients physical capacities are impaired, just as they were expected to be immediately following surgery; and have to have time to be “rewired” to the consciousness in the brain, the memory and personality of the patient comes out unscathed in the aftermath of such radical surgery. This is exactly the result one would expect, if the consciousness is ultimately independent of brain function and is spiritually-based. This is totally contrary to the results one would expect if the consciousness were actually physically-based, as the materialistic theory had presumed. In further comment from the neuro-surgeons in the John Hopkins study: “Despite removal of one hemisphere, the intellect of all but one of the children seems either unchanged or improved. Intellect was only affected in the one child who had remained in a coma, vigil-like state, attributable to peri-operative complications.” This is stunning proof of consciousness being independent of brain function. The only child not to have normal or improved intellect is the child who remained in a coma due to complications during surgery. It is also heartening to find that many of the patients regain full use, or almost full use, of their bodies after a varying period of recuperation in which the brain is “rewired” to the consciousness.

    II Corinthians 5:1
    For we know that if our earthly house, this tent (Our Body), is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

  2. Sort of OFF TOPIC:
    Didn’t know where else to put this.
    ———————————-
    Interestingly, premier electric guitar innovator “Parker Guitars” (of luthier Ken Parker) has launched an ad campaign for their guitars using the ID vs evolution paradigm.

    A debate forum was set up to discuss the design/evolution of the electric guitar. Not surprisingly the forum tends to spiral into the biological world and the Darwinist guitarists are faithfully spouting, according to their media brainwashing that ID is just religion in disguise.

    Yes the controversy has influenced even the American the musical instrument industry (luthiers are instrument design engineers).

    Somehow I get the feeling that someone at Parker, whose innovations in guitar design have been intelligently thought out, has a leaning towards ID, since their guitars are indeed intelligently designed.

    See: Parker Guitars (put on your reading glasses – the print is soooo small)

  3. These 4 points hit like a sledge hammer. It just shows that the atheist faith really is a faith of monumental proportions!

    1. Origin of the universe
    2. Origin of life
    3. Origin of the mind
    4. Origin of morality

  4. 4
    EndoplasmicMessenger

    Don’t want to go too far more off topic, but in addition to Evolution, Design and Guitars, there’s:

    Faith, Evolution, and Programming Languages

    From Google no less.

  5. “1. Origin of the universe

    2. Origin of life

    3. Origin of the mind

    4. Origin of morality”

    I’m really so sick of atheists claiming theirs is not a “faith” That position is really so full of cr*p it stinks. They haven’t addressed the big questions. They never will. Time to move on. They’ve kidnapped science and forced it to do their bidding long enough.

  6. Devils’ Advocate Soapbox time again:

    Points 1) and 2) are likely physically impossible to know completely.

    Points 3) and 4) are being worked on. And yes, it might take a while. But some are closing in rapidly. It seems, unfortunately, little evidence exists for the “Ghost in the Machine” notion. Remove the human brain from its casing, and it appears that the Holy Ghost or whatnot is not found floating from the skull case to the Heavens.

    Is human thought/choice/morality— all just a brain chemicals, then? Well, Michael Shermer for one has written extensively on this, and he’s more pleasant than some due to his avuncular, congenial style in explaining materialist science on the evolution of both mind and morals.
    Edward Babinski is a nice enough chap if you care to query him. His critique of C.S. Lewis’ notions about Induction(Lewis’ idea that in humans decision making coming from materialist evolution is self-contradictory–since this would allegedly mean certain conclusions are predetermined, and thus no proposition could rest on its OWN truthfulness, qua truth, but rather an evolutionary statement) are devastating, to say the least. Call it, if you will, the Babinski Reflex? Ed asks all manner of nasty, embarrassing questions for the Induction Dualist thinkers. For example, do animals have some kind of “in between” induction process that allows THEM to escape predetermined ideas and “make proposition statements”? Of course not. Absurd.

    Now, Induction is only indirectly an argument for the existence of Intelligent Design. Only via default, as supposedly it was the death knell for materialist notions of mind, since the argument goes that only via “Induction” can we make decisions about the world around us and test if certain notions hold fast, and Induction is not something the mind COULD be programmed to do via mechanistic processes that are blind to “end purposes.

    But see also below links that point to some disturbing new research on the brain.

    Is faith merely a cascade of chemicals that evolved to make us feel good?
    What about morality? What about simply human consciousness? Is that fiction also?
    Seems that at least morals and conscious decision-making are not just genetically based, but (further insulting to all Christians–not just conservative ones) it seems traditional “choice” arenas (like sexual orientation)are pre-determined in the womb (and can be tested for!)thoughts/morals/actions/desires/faith/understanding/insight—all are altered for those with certain kinds of brain injuries.

    Conclusion? So simple as to confound. Almost Zen-like:
    If morals/decision-making can be altered from a structural change, then clearly the origin of these notions is grounded materially, and has little to do with “free will” (at least, as we know the term), but rather PREset. Said one researcher in an interview, “free choice” is something that is real only in the sense that it is experienced, but has no true conscious reality other than what the brain decides at an unconscious level for you to hash over. It is mere illusion and sleight of hand evolved to help us survive rough spots and maintain composure in stressful times, but for most of us choices are actually preset in life. Thus for example in one experiment researchers at one lab were able to determine a test participant’s next choice even before he/she made it by using a device that watches for changes in patterns in the brain.
    Patterns that were all too predictable, it seems.

    Morality and thought are STRUCTURAL in the brain, not a “notion” or mystical-based ethereal quality that is taught so much as it is experienced from the physical mind itself.

    Also check out evidences the neurological basis of religious belief, or just spirituality.

    Neurological input on this…..anyone?

    First in Fun,

    –Wakefield Tolbert
    Atlanta, Georgia

  7. I think you are missing something crucial in your list.

    5) Origin of rational laws

    As I understand it, we cannot simply state that the revelaed universe to us will continue to be rational. This takes faith, or “promisary materialism”. However, faith doesn’t make it true as many point out.

    However, there are many dedicated to revealing these rational laws- and yet it seems like there is no basis for it- other than that there are rational laws.

    I am not sure what point I am trying to make here, but I think you all understand.

    I once heard a Buddhist posit the problem like this: “The problem theists have with pain and suffering is akin to the problem [materialist] atheists have with the origin of the universe.”

  8. 6) the origin of the laws of logic.

    How is it that in a materialistic universe, not subject to a Personal Mind, can we have abstract absolute laws of logic? (The Law of non-contradiction, etc, etc) Where do these laws come from?

  9. I fail to see how this list is a challenge to atheism. Challenges to science, yes, but atheism? To be an atheist isn’t to say that you have all the answers. Rather, it is saying that based on the knowledge one has available to them, the existence of a divine being seems more unlikely than likely. I don’t know of an atheist who claims their position doesn’t take any faith, but rather less faith than believing there is a divine being.

    What I see here is a group of people glorifying ignorance and unknowns as support for their religious beliefs (best embodied in Shaner’s comment “They haven’t addressed the big questions. They never will. Time to move on.”). I wouldn’t be surprised if most of you wouldn’t want scientists to find definitive, undeniable, natural explanations for any of these things as it would shrink the ignorance on which your faith apparently thrives.

    Also, this post is just one big “god is in the gaps” yelp which has, historically, proven to be a very, very poor argument as these gaps continue to become smaller and smaller. At one time the sun rising, the earth shaking, and sickness were all inexplicable without referring to the gods. Now we know better… right?

    There are many things for you to base your faith on. Relying on blank spots in our knowledge of how the world works seems a particularly backward and weak foundation.

    And finally, why the contempt for atheists? The comments about them here are seething with hatred.

  10. How about immaterial laws of logic and universals? Concepts and abstractions are crucial to rationality and they are IMMATERIAL. That’s a problem for the materialist.

    The law of non-contradiction isn’t orbiting Jupiter.

    Furthermore, if nothing is sustaining the universe, why don’t the laws of nature change?

  11. Just occurred to me: atheism is like “Waiting for Godot”. Always arriving, never arrived.

  12. 12

    Brian G. writes “…why the contempt for atheists? THe comments about them here are seething with hatred.” I agree with you that contempt for the opinions of others is not helpful or productive. On the other hand, you are clearly more intimate with hyperbole than with hatred. If you would like to experience hatred seething out of nearly every comment, I would invite you to join the “discussions” over at Panda’s Thumb. Fun stuff.

  13. 13

    For what it’s worth, I try very hard to keep the discussions on the threads I moderate at the Panda’s Thumb civil and constructive.

  14. 14

    To the atheists complaining about the harsh treatment in the OP: The criticism is strongest against atheist materialism, not atheism. Materialism just doesn’t seem to have all the answers – you can be an atheist and not a materialist, after all.

    As for Babinski, the idea that there is no correspondence between the material and the immaterial is not part of any dualism I’ve read; They’d hardly be surprised to find such. You don’t need to be a materialist to be aware of, and give credit to, the material.

    I think this post shows a lot of misunderstanding, but mostly in the tweaked responses rather than in what Denyse has said.

  15. “3. Origin of the mind”

    I would put it as the “Origin of the cognitive-ego” for a much more full description.

    If you are nothing more than the result of an impersonal universe, then ‘you’ are nothing more than a cog in the machine of that impersonal universe, and thus, ‘you’ are in fact, an illusion. However, that would also mean that ‘your’ thoughts are also illusions (being the results of hard determinism), and thus, the very belief that ‘you’ are an illusion is also an illusion and so on and so forth. Reductio ad absurdum.

    This can’t be solved by simply doing more science. If everything is made of matter, then quite simply, everything is materially caused. “Emergence” is deductively impossible. As Victor Reppert noted, it would be like trying to create a 3-dimensional object by drawing 2-dimensional lines on a flat piece of paper.

    In fact, this problem not only necessitates mind/body dualism. It also necessitates full-blown Theism. All other religious systems, whether it is pantheism, materialism, polytheism, dualism, Plato’s Platonism, Pantheism, Panpsychism, etc. believe that the universe is at base impersonal and that everything else originated through its purposeless happenings.

    All of these result in the above mentioned dialectical tension between the cognitive ego and the impersonal happenings of an impersonal universe.

    The only way to get rid of the dialectical tension is to presuppose a personal beginning to the universe with the Person having no beginning from impersonality (otherwise the problem would start all over again).

    Theism must be the case from the impossibility of the contrary.

  16. I’d be interested to hear Gil’s reaction.

    I’ll be happy to write on this subject in the near future, but I’m currently very busy with work, tasked with translating and modifying a computer program written in Pascal which will (hopefully) enable our company to simulate parachute deployments and develop parachute systems that can rescue aircraft from catastrophic failures, and thus save lives.

    In the meantime you might like to check out one of my early mentors, yet another person who was instrumental in my conversion from atheism. His name is Dennis Prager, and I used to listen to him frequently on the radio back in my atheist days. Dennis is a religious Jew, and one of the best apologists for the Judeo-Christian tradition I have ever met.

    Dennis once commented that Judeo-Christian values, that underpinned Western civilization for centuries, were like a flower that had been uprooted in the 20th century from the soil that nurtured it. Once uprooted from that soil it began to wither, and it will eventually die without that nourishment.

    Thus, I agree with Pastore: Atheists in our Western culture are parasites on thousands of years of Judaism and Christianity. The sad part is, they don’t have a clue that this is the case.

  17. BrianG said:
    “What I see here is a group of people glorifying ignorance and unknowns as support for their religious beliefs (best embodied in Shaner’s comment “They haven’t addressed the big questions. They never will. Time to move on.”). I wouldn’t be surprised if most of you wouldn’t want scientists to find definitive, undeniable, natural explanations for any of these things as it would shrink the ignorance on which your faith apparently thrives.”

    I want scientists working on the big questions. What I do not want is a promise these answers will be found, and “rest assured” the answer will be in step with materialist dogma. It’s a good thing atheists/materialists do not glorify “unknowns” to support their religious beliefs. Instead they provide tangibles such as m-theory! The hypocrisy is appalling.

  18. “And finally, why the contempt for atheists?”

    For me personally, I wouldn’t call it contempt, but more of a feeling of utter disbelief when I witness atheists scream and yell as though they have the right to believe that anything in this universe matters, which runs contrary to their own philosophy. I sometimes wonder if atheists/materialists have ever bothered to think their own beliefs through.

  19. Atheism is a system of denials of reality. It is tantamount to intellectual suicide.

    Nothing in atheism can be proven.

    Atheists are always claiming, in their defense, “you can’t prove a negative” – i.e. you can’t prove, in their case, there is no god.

    Fine. Stop right there and then realize that if you can’t prove prove atheism’s base statement, then atheism is based upon nothing logical.

    The are zero proofs available for “no god” claims. But everything that exists can be used as a foundation for inferring the existence of a supreme intelligence behind nature.

    A hard line atheist says, “there is no god.” Yet knows he has no evidence for this – therefore he believes without evidence. It’s called blind faith.

    Of course they always come back with idiocies like, “can’t prove there are no invisible pink unicorns either so they must exist too?”

    Well 1st, it is easy to prove there are no invisible pink unicorns (or flying SMs).

    The point is not “prove a negative” the point is that if one can’t prove a negative then one has no grounds for claiming the negative in a positive way – that’s all.

    So real atheism cannot logically exist in a well reasoning mind. Sooner or later the inherent contradictions become conscious.

    Plato said, “Atheism is a disease of the soul before it becomes an error of understanding…..”

    Even Voltaire stated, “The atheists are for the most part imprudent and misguided scholars who reason badly who, not being able to understand the Creation, the origin of evil, and other difficulties, have recourse to the hypothesis the eternity of things and of inevitability…..”

    Atheism is founded upon nothing more than a wish that there be no God. (crucify Him! it says, but in milder terms.)

    “He must pull out his own eyes, and see no creature, before he can say, he sees no God; He must be no man, and quench his reasonable soul, before he can say to himself, there is no God.” John Donne

    Indeed, atheism is a pretense of a universe uncreated. But that the universe is not eternal has already been scientifically proven.

    To sustain the belief that there is no God, atheism has to demonstrate infinite knowledge, which is tantamount to saying, “I have infinite knowledge that there is no being in existence with infinite knowledge”

    Atheism is living without ultimate purpose, without moral foundations and with nothing by which to define oneself. So where is the logic behind atheism?

    The religious (or metaphysical) implications of the Big Bang theory are so obvious that the editor of Science magazine, a few years back, called for scientists to come up with a better theory, stating he didn’t like the religious implications of the Big Bang!

    Some atheists of course may indeed be merely deceived or confused by the false logic they were led to accept under the influence of other atheistic institutions (public school system), persons, philosophies etc..

    But in fact, nothing is more reasonable or universally witnessed as the perpetual world wide, ages old, belief in a deity. In fact this belief is so prevalent that it itself is evidence of the fact – thus transferring the burden of proof on the atheists shoulders!

    Atheism, contrary to popular atheist beliefs, has no reasonable grounds other than mere denial.

    Someone said, “A disbelief in God does not result in a belief in nothing; disbelief in God usually results in a belief in anything.”

    They were right. “Anything” being a universe with no cause (thus events with no causes), life came of few unknown chemical reactions in an unknown atmosphere through unknown means, reproduced itself and changed itself by unknown processes, the order of the universe is uncanny but just a coincidence, alien life can be discovered through artificial, intelligently designed radio signals but design can’t be detected in biological systems….

    The list is long and pathetic to a reasoning mind.

    Relativism is atheisms only recourse. Yet relativism itself, by it’s own premise, must be relative! Meaning, “If it’s true, it cannot be true”. Pure nonsense.

    This is the post-modern mind’s intrinsic stupidity.

    The best that can be done is agnosticism.

    Kant argued that we had to postulate the existence of God because, otherwise, it wasn’t possible to make any sense out of science or morality.

    “You think you are too intelligent to believe in God. I am not like you.” — Napoleon Bonaparte

    Atheists want something physical view or proof of God. They want something they will not get.

    It’s like demanding the author of a book to show you where he is in his book. Think about it.

    Atheism thus, as a concept, should not even exist, given the data and the existence of logical absolutes.

    All well reasoning atheists end up theists sooner or later.

  20. BrianG,

    I think the contempt for atheists here is for the likes of Dawkins and Dennett and a few others who are particularly obnoxious.

    Personally, I find atheism a stupid position but I do not have contempt for those who claim they espouse it. I know several people who say they are atheists and many are nice people. I just think they are ignorant and careless in their thinking.

    The four things that Pastore discusses is part of that irrationality. The incredibly low improbability of each of the four is what strikes me. I have seen no answer from an atheist or scientist as to how any of them could have arisen naturally. Until that time a likely and maybe the best inference for their origin is an intelligence. Whether we call that intelligence God or what is the nature of that intelligence is certainly debatable.

    The resort to the “God of the gaps” statement is an example of the usual ignorance that is displayed. When was the last time that a large number of learned people invoked God as having an active role in natural world for some phenomena and later had to retract it. It is a silly argument to use since it doesn’t apply to anything of recent science. But like robots people keep bringing it up. It is one of the cliché answers that people are fed to try and refute ID.

    It is nearly 200 years since it has had any meaning. What findings in the 19th and 20th century have removed God as the cause for natural phenomena?

    By the way there is nothing in science that has removed God as the potential creator of the universe, life, consciousness and morality. Science may be able to explain how each works but it hasn’t a clue as to how each originated. ID is more focused on the first two but the last two are interesting issues also.

  21. Pastore has missed the point. Atheists face these challenges by saying “we don’t know”.

    There will always be questions that we have not yet answered and there may be questions that we are incapable of answering, just as my dog will never do calculus. Atheism is just as honest and effective way of facing the challenge as calling upon one of the many divinities that people have believed in over the ages.

  22. 22

    “But that the universe is not eternal has already been scientifically proven.”

    And even if the universe were eternal, that would in no way negate that its existence could only be explained in terms of something commonly referred to as God. If the material universe is uncaused, eternal, self-existing then it has properties far stranger than we normally attribute to matter, and we may as well revise our materialism to accommodate it. The very fact of existence is surely the deepest mystery of God’s nature and the strongest argument for theism. So if we decide that matter is eternal, we have essentially called it divine, and then we can begin to ask, so what properties does this divine matter have? Maybe consciousness? Sooner or later we will come full circle – existence itself is a divine mystery pure materialism cannot answer or satisfy.

  23. Borne said: “Atheists want something physical view or proof of God. They want something they will not get.”

    Exactly. If atheists cannot see, hear, taste, smell or touch God, God cannot and doesn’t exist. That’s the problem with atheists. They demand a tangible God or they equate tangibility with existence. If X is not tangible (can be seen, smelled, tasted, touched or heard) it cannot exist. Hence, even if nature is screaming of an Intelligent Source, that Intelligent Source still doesn’t exist because he cannot be tasted, smelled, touched, seen or heard.

  24. “It seems, unfortunately, little evidence exists for the “Ghost in the Machine” notion. Remove the human brain from its casing, and it appears that the Holy Ghost or whatnot is not found floating from the skull case to the Heavens.”

    This is just ridicule dressed up in smarmy sarcasm dripping with contempt.

    Truth is if there is a Creator, you would not know fully even now how the Creator would communicate with us in unseen ways or in how our entire lives might be captured into a process that allows for full review.

    If one truly wants to look to the future, then one accepts that future robots can have all actions and processes stored, transferred and reviewed. In fact, all the data can even be “mirrowed” at storage sites already half way around the globe.

    The problem with athiest sometimes is they think to small, not that they think grand enough. An intelligent being capable of creating earth and all we see including us, is capable of fully recording, influencing and watching all that we are.

    Before the radio, etc., people would be freaked out to know thousands of voices, data, etc., are carried thru unseen waves all around us.

    Our brain is nothing but a continuous flux of electrical synapses exchaning information. Information like this can be manipulated via forces as we know. As humanity grows in scientific prowess it will learn how to retrieve the data and thought patterns, pictures from our brains.

    If in fact, we can retreive this information in the future, then certainly so can a Creator. And if we can eventually retreive it, we can “subliminally” coerce it, change it, and direct it.

    I honestly don’t see how this is a big a deal to think of regarding a supremely intelligent being. Considering how fact information transfer is exponentially arising around the world.

    Images stored in our brain are certainly retrievable in the future. So is every single thought we had since childhood.

    Everyone think back to when you were 5 or 6, learning ABCs. Anyone not remember something in your childhood? Is there any doubt that such memories cannot be accessed in the future? What of traumatic experiences? What if we could erase them?

  25. I think one of the best responses to Materialism I have read is in the opening of William James’ “Varieties of Religious Experience.” He argues essentially that if there is a physical substrate for all our thoughts/experiences then this applies to materialism as well. Is materialism a result of a liver producing too much of a particular enzyme or the influx of a certain neurotransmitter? Given the materialist’s starting point the answer must be something like one of the former. But, of course, then materialism would not be a set of propositions explaining the nature of reality. It is this sort of dilemma that seems to effectively halt materialism as a reflective explanation of the way things are.

  26. “What findings in the 19th and 20th century have removed God as the cause for natural phenomena?”

    Only “wishful” thinking by atheists.

  27. Atheists in this post seem to misunderstand the point.

    These 4 points are not (in this form) the evidence for God, actually this is a challenge to atheism.

    What does that mean?
    Atheists always claim to be reasonable and scientific, yet on what basis are they so SURE that there is no God when such great gaps in our knowledge exist?
    On what basis do they rule out the existence of a god? Couldn’t it be that a god(s) really exist and are really the causes of these points? One can dismiss that as “God-of-the-gaps” argument, but how can you know that a god doesn’t exist in these gaps? No way to know.

    Thus even if somebody doesn’t want to believe in God, he shouldn’t be Dawkins/Harris/Dennet-type, claiming that he KNOWS that God doesn’t exist.
    Being agnostic seems more honest to me.

    Now regarding these 4 points, they are IMO strong positive evidence for God, but they need to be re-formulated.

    For example, it’s not enough to say that “we don’t know the origin of the universe”.
    This needs to be formulated in terms of the Kalam Cosmological Argument (Dr. William Lane Craig comes to mind :))

    And regarding the origin of life, also it’s not enough to say “we don’t know how life originated”.
    We need to say that life is very complex, actually Irreducibly Complex and needs many many parts and systems to be there at once.
    Also the DNA is “far, far more complex” than any software we have ever made.
    We have never seen such systems originate without Intelligent causes, and we have never seen life comes out from no-life.

    And so on.

  28. 28
  29. I’m not sure what the deal is, Jack. You’re not on any moderation list but I found several of your comments today and yesterday in the spam filter. They may have been manually marked as spam by a moderator or Akismet for some reason thinks they were spam.

  30. IDist, regarding the Origin of Life problem, atheist need to be honest. They don’t have a clue. All speculation aside, RNA world, etc.

    “Irreducibly Complex and needs many many parts and systems to be there at once.”

    Exactly, all those parts when not together, are non-living. Rather an obvious statement, but life from life is true. The repetitive theme that life spontaneously erupted over “long periods of time” with all the right circumstances is balderdash.

    It contains a partial truth with an obvious omission of sin.

    a) Part truth: All the right circumstances must exist for life.
    b) Part lie/Sin: it is a lie to say we know all the right circumstances existed by accident and then after billions of year, voila. Scientist cannot reproduce life randomly within the lab, let alone in nature.

    Without cellular walls to protect the processes internally, nothing happens. They want us to believe that life laid dormant, then voila, appeared after the right circumstances came together. If life did not need cellular arrangement of protection in the first place, why develop it later?

    So, they’re left with square one, life came from outer space. But then where did that life come from? Both sides can invoke infinite regression.

    The cell walls had to exist to protect the enzymes, proteins, rna, etc., even if they were transported here. It is a wild stretch of the imagination without any evidence or satisfactory experimentation to tell a story that these complex forms evolved as oxygen and the atmosphere evolved. Complete, utter, witchdoctoring tales.

    We might as well shake a stick at the moon with such gobbledy gook.

    Since Lucy has now waved goodbye and lept about knuckle dragging on all fours, no longer to be found in the clever story-telling picture chain from chimp to man, not only is their a problem with origins, there is a larger so-called gap on the way to music-making, art-drawing, medicine-healing, space-wondering bipeds.

    Whatever floats your boat, just stop trying to force down my throat.

    And yes, contempt is held for Dawkins and crew, but like a good ole country song has said, time can change a man. So even Dawkins is in our prayers. And it is much easier for Dawkins to accept a Creator if he looks deep in his heart where he knows the truth, than scientist to prove molecules to man RM evolution.

    Because in the end, it will take math, science, computers, etc., for us to do the same, to create life whereby it can adapt, feed(energy), grow and reproduce on another planet along with terraforming the surface and atmosphere along with the right sun and solar system in the right galaxy, in the right cluster, in the right universe.

    Sure, no problem at all. By the time we can do that, we ourselves would be considered as gods to our creation.

  31. Borne, excellent post!

    So real atheism cannot logically exist in a well reasoning mind. Sooner or later the inherent contradictions become conscious.

    [A] little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about to religion – Francis Bacon, founder of the scientific method.

    Atheism is founded upon nothing more than a wish that there be no God. (crucify Him! it says, but in milder terms.)

    Indeed, it is a prelude to acceptance of The Big Lie – “Ye shall be as gods”.

    Someone said, “A disbelief in God does not result in a belief in nothing; disbelief in God usually results in a belief in anything.”

    I love to pull these links out whenever someone equates Christianity (and by proxy Judaism) with superstition and atheism with rational, educated rejection of the supernatural:

    Does education fuel paranormal beliefs? – Surveys indicate that more years in college leads to less skepticism

    NHS doctor ‘told patient she was possessed by evil’ – a doctor licensed by a national secular medical system becomes enthralled with shamanism and prescribes exorcisms.

    Thanks again for the great post, Borne.

  32. Thanks Dave. At this point this thread is too far along for me to get involved, and hopefully next time I post the spam filter won’t get in the way.

  33. S Wakefield Tolbert:
    Babinski is a guy that blows a lot of hot air for nothing. He persistently attacks minor details and never actually proves or disproves anything more than his own misguided thinking.

    I just visited his blog (again) and went through some of his critiques of CS Lewis. IMO, he can’t hold a candle to Lewis and has done strictly nothing at undoing anything Lewis wrote on morality.

    There is no way out. Either there are moral absolutes, logical absolutes, a real Right and a real Wrong or there are not.

    If there are not then all our discussions are useless and all law is mere tyranny.

    If there is no objective morality then there is nothing truly right and nothing truly wrong. A position quite often taken by atheist philosophers.

    But if that is true then nothing in the world makes any sense at all and there is no use looking for sense either since we have relegated sense itself out of existence.

    It perpetually amazes me to find people who believe that they or someone else has undone Lewis’ age old defense of natural Law or Moral Law. Yet the very attempt to do so implies Moral Law since there would be no use trying to prove Lewis wrong if there really is no right or wrong.

    Thus by the very attempt to prove there are no moral absolutes they actually show that they really believe there are!!??

    Therein lies the inherent idiocy of relativism.

    Go figure.

  34. angyoldfatman: Thanks for your kind comments.

    I’m curious. Why do go by “angryoldfatman”?

  35. IDist

    You wrote

    Atheists always claim to be reasonable and scientific, yet on what basis are they so SURE that there is no God when such great gaps in our knowledge exist?
    On what basis do they rule out the existence of a god? Couldn’t it be that a god(s) really exist and are really the causes of these points? One can dismiss that as “God-of-the-gaps” argument, but how can you know that a god doesn’t exist in these gaps? No way to know.

    Idist – I assume that from time to time you lose something even though you are sure you know where you put it and then it turns up somewhere else? It happens to us all from time to time. I propose there is an invisible gremlin living in your house that hides things and then puts them somewhere else for you to find. That would nicely explain the mystery.

    I am also confident that you are sure I am wrong. How can you be so sure?

  36. markf,

    There is nothing under the sun that is sure even the meaning of the word “is” or that the sun will rise tomorrow.

    So your approach is a specious one since anyone, anywhere at any time can claim they do not know for sure. By the way the proper word for not being sure about creation would be agnostic. Atheism is an affirmation not a bewilderment.

    Atheism is a cop out and like the latest fashion, smart to wear with the right crowd. As I said above I have found few atheists who are consistent thinkers. That does not mean non atheists are since I have found many of them inconsistent also.

  37. Jack

    I had to recover your latest comment from the Akismet spam queue too. At this point I don’t think any moderators are doing it manually. I also checked to see if “krebs” or “sunflower” by themselves were blacklisted words and they aren’t. If it were a moderator doing it manually one comment at a time you’d also notice your comment appearing right away then disappearing some time later. If Akismet is flagging it as potential spam it doesn’t appear unless explicitly approved.

    I apologize for any inconvenience. I emptied the spam queue a couple times knowing it contained some of your comments. Since they weren’t my threads I assumed the thread owner did it and didn’t recover them. I’m sure you know that you’ve earned my respect as a polite and thoughtful member of the loyal opposition and thus you have my full support in having a free voice here. Fortunately and for reasons unknown to me legitimate spam volume has greatly decreased in the past week or three. I’ll de-spam your comments as a matter of course until someone either objects or the spam volume increases so much as to make reviewing it all impractical again. Theoretically Akismet “learns” from our de-spam feedback and will stop classifying them as spam when it receives enough notices from us that your comments aren’t spam. Again I offer my apology but Akismet is indespensible to us as without it the commentary would be 90% unwanted advertisements.

  38. Jerry

    Your wrote


    There is nothing under the sun that is sure even the meaning of the word “is” or that the sun will rise that tomorrow.

    So your approach is a specious one since anyone, anywhere at any time can claim they do not know for sure. By the way the proper word for not being sure about creation would be agnostic. Atheism is an affirmation not a bewilderment.

    I think you misrepresent atheism – at least my version. I don’t believe there is a God, but that doesn’t mean I have incontravertible proof that there isn’t a God. You can call that agnosticism if you like. It is the same position as Richard Dawkins.

    But, assuming you are a Christian, do you know for certain that your God is the Christian version or is it just possible, given that “nothing under the sun is certain” that God is the Muslim, Sikh, or Buddhist God or is it even just possible that none of these exist? If you accept the slightest possibility that you might be wrong in your belief – then by your own definition – you too are an agnostic.

  39. Idist – I assume that from time to time you lose something even though you are sure you know where you put it and then it turns up somewhere else? It happens to us all from time to time. I propose there is an invisible gremlin living in your house that hides things and then puts them somewhere else for you to find. That would nicely explain the mystery.

    I am also confident that you are sure I am wrong. How can you be so sure?

    Nice analogy, but misses the point.
    You have to determine the probabilities of the options you have inorder to rule out any of them.

    Why would I need to assume the existence of an invisible gremlin since I perfectly know that I forget?
    It’s all about which is more rational to believe, and in this case, me forgeting is more rational.

    But, let me ask you, what if you put your keys in a place you know, then you try to find them, they aren’t there!

    Now what are the options?

    1- You forgot
    2- Somebody took them
    3- An invisible gremlin took them

    What will you do? You are justified to rule out the 3rd option, but on what basis exactly can you rule out the second? You simply don’t know, and there is nothing impossible or improbable in somebody taking the keys (even if you’re living alone, maybe a theif :D?)

    Now let’s go to the origin of the universe.
    Science tells us that the universe began to exist, thus logically speaking something caused it (unless you’d agree that something can come from nothing)

    The options:

    1- The cause is conscious
    2- The cause is NOT conscious

    On what basis exactly will you rule the first option?
    Have you seen universes being created many times by unconscious causes that you believe that it’s extremelly more probable to the extent that it rules out Conscious Cause?
    I myself haven’t seen any universe being created.

    Therefore, at this point, other arguments aside, one cannot rule out any of the two possibilites IMO.

  40. But, assuming you are a Christian, do you know for certain that your God is the Christian version or is it just possible, given that “nothing under the sun is certain” that God is the Muslim, Sikh, or Buddhist God or is it even just possible that none of these exist? If you accept the slightest possibility that you might be wrong in your belief – then by your own definition – you too are an agnostic.

    This type of argument is a justification for not believing IMO.
    The existence of a god doesn’t mean that this god is the God of a particular religion.
    Many ancient philosophers believed in a god before Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, etc.

    So yes, it is possible that a god exists but he didn’t send any revealations. One needs to check the truth claims of each religion, atleast those which claim that they got revealation from God, that there is after-life, heaven and hell.

    Simply dismissing all religions on the basis that there are other religions is, well, childish IMO.

  41. Borne wrote:

    I’m curious. Why do go by “angryoldfatman”?

    I had to have a unique handle for my Youtube videos, and I wanted something memorable and descriptive. But most importantly, I wanted to preempt the predictable adolescent ad hominems I knew I’d get once I showed my face on the internet.

  42. IDist


    Science tells us that the universe began to exist, thus logically speaking something caused it (unless you’d agree that something can come from nothing)

    The options:

    1- The cause is conscious
    2- The cause is NOT conscious

    On what basis exactly will you rule the first option?

    That’s a very interesting argument and well expressed. Unfortunately the answer is rather complicated and I am not sure I can be so elegant.

    First – I am not sure that there needs to be anything that caused the universe. We are in such uncharted and extraordinary territory that our usual assumptions (e.g. everything must have a cause) may not apply. Indeed this may be just the kind of thing we are incapable of understanding.

    However, let’s assume there is a cause. Then your question begins to make some sense. But it assumes a clear definition of conscious. I believe consciousness makes no sense independent of the context of animals in bodies.

    So you can see it is getting really hard to answer your simple question.

    However, let’s assume that the idea of a conscious agent at the beginning of the universe makes sense. Perhaps a sort of human like agent created it. Why don’t I believe in that? Well – yes it is possible and it would be absurd to talk in terms of probabilities about such a one-off inconceivable event. But it makes no difference to anything else. It doesn’t imply worship, or morality, or anything much. It is not so much that I don’t believe it – I just don’t see the use in considering it without some evidence for it.

  43. First – I am not sure that there needs to be anything that caused the universe. We are in such uncharted and extraordinary territory that our usual assumptions (e.g. everything must have a cause) may not apply. Indeed this may be just the kind of thing we are incapable of understanding.

    Well I think it’s obvious that everything that begins must have a cause, if you don’t agree on that then there is no point at all of claiming to be rational and scientific while accusing the believer of being the opposite.
    But let’s ignore this point.

    However, let’s assume there is a cause. Then your question begins to make some sense. But it assumes a clear definition of conscious. I believe consciousness makes no sense independent of the context of animals in bodies.

    That’s faith :)


    However, let’s assume that the idea of a conscious agent at the beginning of the universe makes sense. Perhaps a sort of human like agent created it. Why don’t I believe in that? Well – yes it is possible and it would be absurd to talk in terms of probabilities about such a one-off inconceivable event. But it makes no difference to anything else. It doesn’t imply worship, or morality, or anything much. It is not so much that I don’t believe it – I just don’t see the use in considering it without some evidence for it.

    That’s exactly my argument. You cannot rule out the possibility of a being like god creating the universe. It is still a standing option, and therefore being atheist is blind faith, while being agnostic, at this point, is more honest and reasonable IMO.
    So even if, for the sake of the argument, the believer has no other argument in support of his position, it is not honest from an atheist to claim to be more reasonable. Since the atheist position would be something like that “Something caused the universe, I don’t know what is it, but it’s certainly not God.”

    So it appears that we agree after all :D.

  44. By the way I’d like to add another big bang to the list. The Cambrian Explosion.

  45. IDist

    That’s exactly my argument. You cannot rule out the possibility of a being like god creating the universe. It is still a standing option, and therefore being atheist is blind faith, while being agnostic, at this point, is more honest and reasonable IMO.

    Well I can only state my position – which I would call atheist. It is that I have no reason to believe the universe was created by a conscious being. I freely admit that I really have no idea if a cause is even required or what that cause could be. I also see no reason to suppose that the answer to this question should have any connection to the answer to the other puzzles.

    Let me point out some consequences of your argument.

    It is of the form


    1- The cause is X
    2- The cause is NOT X

    On what basis exactly will you rule the first option?

    You can substitute any property you like instead of X. Because we know nothing of the origin of the universe the argument will hold. So for example X might be “a giant cockroach with magical powers”. Is it so dishonest and unreasonable to dismiss this proposal?

  46. Michaels7–

    For full disclosure, I am the furthest thing from an athiest of agnostic. However, the comment you said was dripping with sarcasm?

    This one, to wit:

    This is just ridicule dressed up in smarmy sarcasm dripping with contempt.

    Truth is if there is a Creator, you would not know fully even now how the Creator would communicate with us in unseen ways or in how our entire lives might be captured into a process that allows for full review.

    Yes and then NO. It is a smart alec way of saying things, but the ghost in the machine metaphor and all the rest are just rehashed from men better than myself. So I used the phrase as what I commonly do in what I call a “draw out” phrase to see what people think of it. Not that I agree. I see that phrase a lot and wanted to see how it plays in Peoria, if you will.

    But I do not necessarily agree that God needs to be so reclusive, and that if evidence is there in the very structure of life on earth there is no iron rule that says in this manner Occam’s Razor is to be violated and His existence is hidden in minutia or default findings about life. Athiests admittedly ask some good questions, once in a while, when not engaging in attack dog mode on their “search and destroy missions” on the web. One question is why is the evidence for God not more open, seeing that most everything that USED to be posited as the effects of deities like thunder and fire and chance happenings are now more easily explained via science. No one says–or would say–that an Angel Of Death killed my bacterial culure, or that the presence of numerous flies in the backyard means I am being Plagued for disobedience. Most likely I have sloppy habits or a compost pile. No I am fully aware of what the traditional answer is–or are:

    –God owes us nothing but what we seek. Closed minds are closed hearts at this juncture, and nothing might be known for the persistent doubter who ignores all other attributes of the world.

    –Faith exists on many levels, to the simple church goer to those more skeptical who need reassurance and seek out reputable science (or in the literature area, better documentation to answer queries about alleged Biblical contradictions, etc), and some people need different levels, from Church coffee/prayer meetings and simple friendship to scholarly work like that of Dr. Dembski, to bolster their faith.

    –And many times in life the obvious is not the real truth.
    RE: Crime Investigation.

    But Markf has a point to make. Atheists are not always dogmatic in their assertions. Some even plainly admit that while there might be a Clockwinder God, like Lord Kronos, who thumped the world on the side and got things spinning, He is not active in the everyday affairs of the world and even if HE is, His presence is not manifest in the usual products of nature. But the God of the Bible is an ACTIVE, not passive God, and micromanaged quite a bit. A lord Kronos seems more to the liking of many people exactly as it is not known either mechanically or theologically just how/when/where/if continued sustenance of the Cosmos takes even takes place. Some atheists have no problem with this because this kind of God has no real interaction with humans and His existence is either unprovable, or irrelevent. Or Both.

  47. “Well I can only state my position – which I would call atheist. It is that I have no reason to believe the universe was created by a conscious being.”

    I find it a bit odd that a conscious being could ponder the origin of the universe and think so little about his own consciousness (doing the pondering) to not even include it as a factor in his reasoning.

  48. markf

    You’ve missed the point completely.
    No body I’ve ever heard of claimed to know what God is. Religions will tell you that He is merciful, He is all powerful etc. but not WHAT He is.
    The common attribute that a cause must have to be God is that He is concsious, or in other words, personal.
    Some religions would imagine God as a giant man in the sky, others wouldn’t, but they’d agree that He is personal and conscious (yes, yes I know that there are some people who doesn’t believe in a personal God, but there is no point in calling that “god” at all IMO).

    If you imagine “a giant cockroach with magical powers” to be the cause this doesn’t even touch my argument.

    Please note, I’m not arguing to prove God’s existense, that’s another issue, I’m just showing that dismissing the possibility has absolutely no basis.


  49. I find it a bit odd that a conscious being could ponder the origin of the universe and think so little about his own consciousness (doing the pondering) to not even include it as a factor in his reasoning.

    shaner74

    I am sorry I don’t understand your point. In what sense am I not including consciousness in my reasoning? I am saying there is no evidence for it. That seems to include it in my reasoning.

  50. IDist

    Re 47. Sorry if I missed the point. I was only addressing the logic of your argument. All I am saying is that exactly the same logic can be used to show that we have no basis to dismiss the idea that the cause was a giant cockroach. However, many of us do dismiss the idea it was a giant cockroach. Are we irrational and arrogant to do so?

  51. markf: “All I am saying is that exactly the same logic can be used to show that we have no basis to dismiss the idea that the cause was a giant cockroach.”

    Say what? This is totally wrong. And your statement is the equivalent of the FSM and invisible pink unicorns etc. nonsense.

    Of course stating that a roach or a FSM or whatever other material being created the material universe is ludicrous.

    Roaches etc. are part of this creation – not before it or outside it.

    Invisible pink unicorns can’t exist because invisibility and being pink are contrary to laws of reflection in the electromagnetic spectrum – meaning if it’s pink it reflects light and so can’t be invisible.

    Spaghetti is a well known human invention and so goes the fate of whatever other material cause for the material universe you may invent.

    Thus the dummies that come up with FSM’s, invisible pink creatures etc are really not very bright are they.

    The cause of the universe must be adequate to it’s consequences. The universe displays unfathomable space, energy and also precise order. Whatever caused it must necessarily possess energy sufficient for the effect. Therefore whatever caused it must be infinite and all powerful.

    No atheist really believes there are effects or events with no adequate cause. They may say so but their daily actions demonstrate they really don’t. People who deny cause-effect laws usually end up in the funny farm. It doesn’t work in reality.

    But there is one other base unit in the universe that cannot be accounted for with non conscious causes – information – now viewed on equal footing with matter and energy as a fundamental unit of existence.

    But information does not exist without a sender, a reasoning mind.

    Thus, complex coded information (DNA/RNA) cannot be the result of a mindless cause.

    There is no such thing as coded information without mind. Period.
    Code implies convention, intent, semantics, translation and meaning etc..

    Inanimate matter has no intent.

    Translation and language requires communications of meanings of symbolic units.

    DNA even has error correction mechanisms. But error detection can only exist where the correct model is previously known!

    I hope you’re getting the drift here because it is devastating to materialism.

    The universe must have a first cause and it’s nature, components and laws tell us it had to come from something like a conscious mind rather than an innate something.

    The universe had a first cause. It is not eternal since an eternal series of events with no first cause is a logical absurdity. Also we know it’s not eternal because it is changing, slowing down.

    You can also use logical absolutes to demonstrate these things. Logic is a function of mind. Logical absolutes exist. Logic is metaphysical. It does not exist in matter and energy. Therefore the existence of logical absolutes powerfully infers the existence of some absolute Mind.

    Follow the data to it’s logical conclusions and what do you end up with? – Atheism is absurd given the data.

  52. markf,

    you said

    “But, assuming you are a Christian, do you know for certain that your God is the Christian version or is it just possible, given that “nothing under the sun is certain” that God is the Muslim, Sikh, or Buddhist God or is it even just possible that none of these exist? If you accept the slightest possibility that you might be wrong in your belief – then by your own definition – you too are an agnostic.”

    Your answer is an example of why I think atheists are weak thinkers. No one knows for sure that anything is true, so believing that God exists is an inference based on the evidence. Similarly, believing that there is no God also requires evidence. Let’s examine briefly a little bit of the evidence that is mainly used for a belief in God, from science.

    The origin of the universe is a good one, Incredibly fine tuned to produce solar systems, planets and life. Just changes in the 30th decimal place or less of some of the constants of physics and the whole mess falls apart. Why should these laws exists? Most infer that someone designed it that way and that someone had to be incredibly intelligent. That is why the big bang is brought up by Pastore as a stumbling block for atheism. It is not just the big bang but what accompanied it.

    The origin of life. Not even a semblance of an idea on how it could occur. The scientists now exploring it are at the level of how to build a single brick when what they have to end up with is not only the bricks but the plans for a complete town. So the inference is that some very smart dude designed it. That is why life is brought up by Pastore.

    That is two for two features of nature that points to the presence of an incredibly intelligent person.

    I will stop there but for atheism to have any respectability it will have to find a reason why anything exists (that is the ultimate question) and why it exists with such exquisite precision. And then how this existence self assembled into even more complex phenomena.

    Nothing here points to the Judeo Christian God and that is outside science. So bringing it up is a sign of weakness in your position.

    Just what is the nature of the incredibly smart intelligences responsible for the universe and life and what is the purpose of both is the dominion of philosophy and theology. There is little in science to give us a hint. One’s beliefs there are based on what I call faith and not subject to science and yes there is a large measure of uncertainty involved. But belief in a super intelligence that is behind the universe and life and consciousness is the obvious inference since there is no plausible natural phenomena that could explain it.

    By the way this last statement does not mean that science shouldn’t study life and consciousness and how each may have arisen. It is just that no process is available that can explain how it arose other than an intelligence. The obvious inference is an intelligence; the choice of non intelligent causes is the real leap of faith.

    Now for you to believe in no God, you have to have evidence that infers that position or it becomes an illogical position based on some socialization process. As I said atheism is a fashion and very common in the right social circles. But don’t pass it off as reason or logic.

  53. Markf, my only point is that you seem to ignore your own consciousness when considering evidence for an intelligent cause to the universe. If it wasn’t for my own ability to be aware, I’d be an atheist too.

  54. wakefield

    One question is why is the evidence for God not more open, seeing that most everything that USED to be posited as the effects of deities like thunder and fire and chance happenings are now more easily explained via science.

    I agree with your sentiment here. Why does an omnipotent creator have to use men to record His revelations? Why not carve the Ten Commandments onto the face of the moon and remove all doubt about their source? If anyone then chose to ignore that I’d consider it really likely they’re defying God and there will be hell to pay for it.

  55. Re 51

    Borne

    My only point was that IDist’s argument supports the green cockroach theory just as strongly as the conscious entity theory. You have introduced another argument:


    The cause of the universe must be adequate to its consequences.

    So let’s look at this new argument. I have no idea what would be adequate for causing a universe. It is unobservable and unimaginable. I am not even sure what “cause” means in this context. Like you, I am sceptical about green cockroaches. None of the cockroaches I have come across seem to be up to the job. But then again none of the conscious beings I have come across are candidates either.

    Jerry wrote:

    Atheism is an affirmation not a bewilderment.

    Actually my atheism includes massive bewilderment – especially about the origin of the universe. Anything other than bewilderment would be surprising in the face of such an inconceivable proposition. I just don’t find the possibility of a loosely defined conscious “something” helps.

  56. DaveScot, those are valid questions, and I’ve certainly pondered on them myself. But, if this omnipotent creator also prizes faith (not blind faith, but informed faith that results in either obvious natural or supernatural consequences), then it would make sense that man’s quest to seek God, to understand His mystery, to cry out to Him during the dark night of the soul, is in fact a beautiful thing that not only is pleasing to God but is actually the fundamental story of humanity.

  57. jared

    That’s a really good reason for not closing the door on theistic belief. This however raises a further problem in which particular flavor of theism is the right one. Who am I to decide that a billion Buddhists or Hindus might not be the ones who have it right? In my personal life however I’m inclined to take up Pascal’s Wager. If atheists are right and you aren’t an atheist nothing much is lost. If theists are right and you’re an atheist there might be hell to pay. The smart money picks a theistic belief that’s suitable to his personal tastes and at least goes through the motions just in case. I chose non-denominational Protestantism. It makes a great working basis for civil and productive society, the overhead is minimal (ask to be saved and you are saved), I was saved as a child so there’s nothing more that needs doing (once saved always saved), it’s a common religion where I live so its easy to fit in, and so there’s really no downside unless some other religion is right but I don’t have enough evidence to make that determination. Pascal’s Wager to the letter.

  58. markf

    I just don’t find the possibility of a loosely defined conscious “something” helps.

    Is it supposed to “help” in some manner? I thought going where the evidence leads is just something that intellectually honest people do as a matter of course whether where it leads helps or not. Sometimes the evidence leads to a brick wall that cannot be seen over, around, or through. That’s just the way cookie crumbles. I don’t disbelieve in the big bang or black holes just because they end in just such a brick wall. If intelligent design by an unidentified and possibly unidentifiable designer is the best explanation for certain phenomena then that’s just the way it is. Have the courage to change those things you can change and the wisdom to recognize the things you can’t change. Not knowing what’s inside black holes, what’s beyond the edge of the observable universe, or what came before the big bang are things I can’t change. I’m not so certain I can’t know the immediate origin of life on earth, one way or another.


  59. Is it supposed to “help” in some manner? I thought going where the evidence leads is just something that intellectually honest people do as a matter of course whether where it leads helps or not.

    I am sorry – “helps” was a cryptic way of expressing myself. To be more long-winded – I don’t find the possibility of a loosely defined thing which is conscious reduces my bewilderment. Because there is no evidence for this thing and it doesn’t solve any of the problems that bewilder me.

  60. Wakefiled,

    The argument that was most persuasive with me about the hidden God is the free will argument and that the more empirical evidence there is the less value our lives would be.

    For example, suppose the 10 commandments were written in stone on the moon as in the example Dave brought up or suppose every Friday a voice in the sky announced who had sinned that week and punished them accordingly. Or suppose a more subtle thing was that only good things happened to good people or in other words there was no theodicy problem.

    How long before everyone obeyed the 10 commandments, did nothing wrong each week because they didn’t wanted to be punished on Friday or there only were good people. There would be no free will because no one would step out of line. No one would take any action except those sanctioned. If we think the college campuses are infested with thought police now, what would the entire society look like if such a situation existed. Not believing in God would be a sign of insanity in such situations.

    I once had a conversation with a Jewish adjunct professor who was my office mate for a semester when I was teaching and we had a conversation about faith. He said faith has no meaning unless there is doubt. There is no moral value in believing in something that was certain. It is believing in something that is uncertain that can have value.

    What we call virtue has no value if you know for sure there is a definite pay-out for doing it. It is the doing and not knowing that there is a return that is virtue.

    I don’t want this to get into a long discussion of faith or other religious beliefs or the meaning of free will because that would be never ending and such discussions have been going on for thousands of years by far more intelligent people than visit this site. I just wanted to say that obvious empirical evidence of God could be paralyzing and actually rob us of one of our uniquenesses which is persons with free will.

  61. My only point was that IDist’s argument supports the green cockroach theory just as strongly as the conscious entity theory.

    You are saying that you cannot prove that the god/gods isn’t green cockroach.
    The has nothing at all to do with my argument. As I told you before, the nature of this god has nothing at all to do with my argument. Different religions and philosophers have different views of gods, but what they all agree upon for some cause to be “god” is that it is personal, and creator. So green cockroach, giant old bearded man, a being with lion head and hore body, or whatever. These have nothing at all to do with my argument.

    Thanks

  62. Jerry said, in part:

    The argument that was most persuasive with me about the hidden God is the free will argument and that the more empirical evidence there is the less value our lives would be.

    Aye–and that is to be considered also. The question becomes then “what parameters” and “what evidence” leads to the assumption of Higher Causes. But we have not even touched on, except partially maybe with DS,s comments, WHAT KIND of God this might be, and what the interaction with humans should be, etc.

    Thanks,

    –SWT

    Atlanta Ga

  63. markf: “Because there is no evidence for this thing and it doesn’t solve any of the problems that bewilder me.”

    What you really mean is, “there is no evidence I wish to acknowledge”. You yourself are evidence.

    And your roach thing is ludicrous and ID could never come close to supporting anything like it for reasons I already gave.

    “I have no idea what would be adequate for causing a universe. It is unobservable and unimaginable.”
    Wishful atheist thinking. An adequate cause will always be needed and you know it. Space, time, matter, information and energy do not just pop out of nothing. And, you have not touched on the information problem.

    It’s so obvious what the implications of information and especially coded information are.

    I feel you’re just skirting around the obvious like atheists always do.

    Denial. That’s it that’s all, just denial.

  64. IDist

    You are saying that you cannot prove that the god/gods isn’t green cockroach.

    No – I am saying what I wrote and nothing else. You used an argument to try and make the case that the cause of the universe might be conscious. I am simply pointing out that the identical argument can be used to make the case the cause has the attributes of a green cockroach. You have not yet even tried to show why the argument does not work in the case of the green cockroach but does work for consciousness. I suggest leaving the word “God” out of this as it is not relevant.

    Borne in 62. You make lots of statements about me. “What you really mean is…” “an adequate cause will always be needed and you know it” “you’re just skirting round the obvious”. There is really no way for me to respond except to say these statements about me are not true.

    I genuinely believe that the universe may not have a cause and genuinely have no idea what “adequate” means in this context. Things that appear obvious to you are not obvious to me. I find the universe bewildering and breathtaking. That is my brand of atheism. It is not some kind of perverse self-denial.

    The information argument is of course the whole basis of ID and I don’t find that obvious either.

  65. markf,

    Let’s put the discussion in terms of being and existence.
    You are saying that the universe began existing without any cause for its beginning to be. Can this be held as a consistent view of causality?

    You have not always existed. You came into existence at some finite point in the past and it is possible for you to not exist. What keeps you from not existing? Any answer that you might give pointing to another contingent being (finite cause) leads to an infinite regress up to the cause of the universe (which is also contingent, it might not have existed). To halt the regress you must advocate a being that is the cause of all other being, that contains all being in itself and has the power to cause the existence of all that does exist. This type of proof rests on the undeniable evidence of understanding your own existence. That is, unlike other evidence you have what has been termed incorigible knowledge of your own existence.

    DaveScot (54): “I agree with your sentiment here. Why does an omnipotent creator have to use men to record His revelations? Why not carve the Ten Commandments onto the face of the moon and remove all doubt about their source?”

    I find the “why didn’t God do it different” approach to questions unhelpful. It asks for information to which we don’t have direct access. Christianity has traditionally held that the nature of Nature and the Moral law within provide sufficient “natural” witness to God’s existence. Beyond this there is his recorded communication with man. If you found out the Bible really was true, could you still say that God hasn’t told us enough to believe? I doubt it, therefore the real question is Is the Bible true? The answer to which involves excursions into history, archaeology, manuscript evidence, etc.

    As for other religions, we can take them to task just like we can Christianity. I have found that Mormonism and Islam don’t have credible historical documentation, Buddhism results in a vicious epistemological circle (how does one begin the pursuit of enlightenment without any degree of enlightenment?)and seems to ignore a realistic understanding of the will (similar to ancient Stoicism), Hinduism’s pantheon seems ultra-mystical and does not provide a philosophically satisfying metaphysical framework (there cannot be 300 million infinite beings that contain all being there can only be numerically one and if the Hindu dieties are not infinite then they are finite, if they are finite they need a cause (see the above notion of causality).

    The point is that if one of the world’s religions is true/consistent with Reality, then one can ask scientific, historical, philosophical questions and demand intellectually satisfying answers. IMO only Christianity satisfactorily passes all the tests.

  66. Davescot: “why not carve the Ten Commandments onto the face of the moon and remove all doubt about their source? If anyone then chose to ignore that I’d consider it really likely they’re defying God”

    It might be better to go back to Adam and Eve and ask why God would take leave, and allow a talking snake to tempt the two. But then temptation seems to have been the point of it all. Apparently God isn’t here “in person” because there is some kind of test going on. And isn’t this what the story of Job indicates? Yahweh allows an adversary to throw all kinds of blows at Job to show everyone in Heaven what Job was made of? Job had no idea of the reason for it all. And when he asks Yahweh about it, Yahweh declines a clear answer. But everyone in “heaven” knew the reason, and could see Job was a man of integrity in the face of near total loss.

  67. JT75

    You have not always existed. You came into existence at some finite point in the past and it is possible for you to not exist. What keeps you from not existing? Any answer that you might give pointing to another contingent being (finite cause) leads to an infinite regress up to the cause of the universe (which is also contingent, it might not have existed). To halt the regress you must advocate a being that is the cause of all other being, that contains all being in itself and has the power to cause the existence of all that does exist. This type of proof rests on the undeniable evidence of understanding your own existence.

    As I am sure you know this is a well worn argument with well-worn objections and counter-objections. There is quite a good summary on Wikipedia. I see little point in going over the arguments again. I just want readers to accept that there is nothing irrational, dishonest or inconsistent with saying “I don’t know” in response to these questions.

  68. markf:

    sure there is nothing dishonest in saying “i don’t know.” Granted, but is it intellectually satisfying?

  69. markf: Follow up comment, I think agnosticism could possibly be intellectually satisfying if one could prove that we ‘could not’ have knowledge of the divine, but not in the weaker form that one just ‘does not’.

  70. JT75

    I am not an atheist in order to gain intellectual satisfaction. That makes it sound like a sort of cognitive viagra. I am an atheist because I cannot see any convincing evidence for any of the many variations on God that I have come across.

    Actually that’s a simplification. Under some descriptions I don’t see evidence for a divine being, other descriptions just seem meaningless. The attributes of divine beings seem to fall into two categories:

    * the obviously false e.g. is basically superman with a white beard
    * the meaningless e.g. necessarily exists

    I thought about this as I was walking the dog this morning. For the atheist humanity is a miniscule and unimportant part of the universe that does not and cannot comprehend much of it.

    The theist rates humanity far more highly and believes in a solution to these big questions based round some human attributes: consciousness, intention, morality etc.

    Which is more pleasant? Which is more plausible?

  71. The theist rates humanity far more highly

    The theist sees himself as part of humanity.

    The atheist almost always sees himself above it.

    When the atheist wishes for a plague of ebola he never sees himself as among the victims.

  72. Good point IDist. I mean, why would atheists rule out the possibility of Mind as the be-all and end-all of things? It’s just as valid as supposing that a non-Mind (materialistic) is the ultimate cause of everything.

    I mean we have to face two obvious truths: there are conscious and unconscious things. Of the two, which do you think has the more capacity to bring about the other? Logic tells me it’s the former. You cannot will anything if you are not conscious. On the other hand, you can conceive of anything (and if you have the power, will them into existence) if you are conscious.

    It would be a lot easier to defend the materialistic stance if there is actually no such thing as consciousness/mind/intelligence/will. But then again, if that’s the case, there would be no “mind” to defend it. Materialism is a dead-end philosphy IMHO.

  73. markf: “nothing irrational, dishonest or inconsistent with saying “I don’t know” in response to these questions.”

    Yes but saying “I don’t know” makes one an agnostic. Not an atheist.

    Saying, “No one can know.” or, “No one knows” is something no one has sufficient knowledge to say.

    But your universe without a cause is still ludicrous. There is no such thing as an event without a cause.
    “To sustain the belief that there is no God, atheism has to demonstrate infinite knowledge, which is tantamount to saying, ‘I have infinite knowledge that there is no being in existence with infinite knowledge’” — Ravi Zacharias

    Are you really denying the law of cause & effect? If so you may as well go all the way and deny your own existence – the ultimate human idiocy.

    One can only deny cause & effect in flagrant contradiction of reality and, in the end, at the expense of sanity.

    Sorry but you cannot get out of it with vain philosophical meanderings around nonsense ideas.

    “… believes in a solution to these big questions based round some human attributes: consciousness, intention, morality etc. ”
    Only partly true. Not based on human attributes. But on observation of the real world – cause & effect, action/reaction, the existence of logical absolutes, coded information, etc. etc. etc. – i.e. the obvious.

    Your view is far too narrow.

    Consider this observation by an ex-atheist:

    My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course, I could have given up my idea of justice by saying that it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too–for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my private fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist–in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless–I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality–namely my idea of justice–was full of sense. Consequently atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.

    – C.S. Lewis

    As for agnostics:
    “The agnostic is gutless and prefers to keep one safe foot in the god camp.” – O’Hair M.M., “Agnostics” – of course she was a radical, Dawkinsish type.

  74. Borne

    All sorts of interesting things in your post.

    Yes but saying “I don’t know” makes one an agnostic. Not an atheist

    Not exactly. You don’t have to have definitive proof that something doesn’t exist not to believe in it. You have no idea what is on Titan’s (at least until the results of the Cassini-Huygens mission are published). You don’t have definitive proof there isn’t a world war II bomber there. But I bet you don’t believe it or describe yourself as agnostic on the issue.


    But your universe without a cause is still ludicrous. There is no such thing as an event without a cause.

    I wish I had your confidence. In the last 100 years we have found that

    time passes differently depending how fast your are going

    some things can be both particles and waves at the same time

    the entire universe began in a singularity

    Our preconceptions and ideas of “what must be so” are shattered at regular intervals. As Lewis Wolpert says

    “Science is unnatural because the world just happens to be built in a way that does not fit with common sense”

    My quantum science is pretty ropey but I think that many physicists already accept some events at the quantum level do not have causes. What causes a lump of radioactive matter to emit an alpha particle at a given moment? I believe the theory is that it is unpredictable. It just happens.

    There are also other problems in the idea of the cause of the beginning of the universe. Causality is logically tied to time – a cause precedes an effect – but there is no time outside the universe. I could go on – but can you at least see that the idea is not ludicrous?

    The quote from CS Lewis is the argument from morality not the cosmological argument. I could write an essay about that too – but it would take far too long.

    Rgds

  75. Markf said, in part:

    The quote from CS Lewis is the argument from morality not the cosmological argument.

    Yes, but that, I think, is the REAL gist of what usually passes for “argument” about the “way things are” in the Cosmos. Something is bad. Something is “off”–the world is just “unseemly” at times. For those who’ve suffered great loss I frequently hear the comment to the effect that “THAT was the living end of God for me” and that “even IF His works are manifest in the products of nature, He dosen’t care much for living creatures.”, etc.
    Even humorists like PJ O’Rourke picked up on this saying in jest that God is a country club Republican and its kinda hard to get a piece of His real estate.

    More so than scientific arguments that all sides admit have to fine-tweak the very definitions of things to see if the Cosmos is even the KIND of place where a design parameter can be detected against background chaos, the MORAL side of things stands out the most–in MOST people’s minds. That may be fair or unfair (yet another question). But so what.

    There it is.

    Lewis is simply saying that were it not for the rule of opposites and contrasts, we would not have a definition of love were it not for evil, nor of light if not for dark.
    Not of peace and harmonization if not for chaos and filth. Nothing of satisfaction if not for striving and suffering. And so on…

    As to the micro-world of particle duality, this is the apparent look of things, and in any case even if the case there is no real translation to the MACRO level. Particles that pop around probably still have some essence that allows this apparent contradiction of common sense, just as the famous separation experiments where a spin can be imparted on a particle from miles away so long as you have part of it closeby to be manipulated.

    Universes don’t have a sample size more than one to test the notion of “popping out” from nothing anyhow. The MACRO does not necessarily follow the micro

  76. 76
    Vladimir Krondan

    geoffrobinson said,

    Just occurred to me: atheism is like “Waiting for Godot”. Always arriving, never arrived.

    The 4th century theologian St. Gregory Nazianzen once remarked that pagan learning is like a woman forever in labor, never giving birth.

    Borne said,

    Atheism is a system of denials of reality… Nothing in atheism can be proven.

    An atheist will tell you that atheism is by definition the absence of particular beliefs from his mind. This is what he wants you to believe makes him what he is, an atheist. But this is a descriptive statement about the contents of someone’s mind. It has nothing to do with anything else. An atheist will put forth many assertions about God, morality, man, Christianity, the universe, the meaning of life or lack thereof, and when called to defend these, he will point to his head and say ‘atheism means there is no such-and-such property in my mind, that is all’. And therefore you must believe, contrary to common sense, that because of this, the atheist is not making any assertions at all. But this is much like North Korea defining itself to be democratic, or like a Marxist defining himself as someone who lacks capitalistic beliefs, or defining a dog to be an absence of cat, and so on.
    You will notice that much of the argumentation with atheists (even between atheists) revolves around the definition of atheism. See wikipedia for a hilarious example of definitional agony. That is so because how atheists insist on defining themselves has no congruence to what they actually are. And everyone knows this.

    Borne then said,

    Of course they always come back with idiocies like, “can’t prove there are no invisible pink unicorns either so they must exist too?”

    An atheist has the liberty to substitute whatever he likes for the word ‘God’, be it flying spaghetti monsters or pink unicorns or whatever. Atheists, being fair-minded, will no doubt extend that freedom to others. And so, God is Bill Dembski’s Refrigerator (the BDR). Atheists either do not believe in the existence of BDR, or they strongly deny the assertion ‘BDR exists’. Therefore, atheists are lunatics.

  77. markf:
    “There are also other problems in the idea of the cause of the beginning of the universe. Causality is logically tied to time – a cause precedes an effect – but there is no time outside the universe. I could go on – but can you at least see that the idea is not ludicrous?”

    The fact is that a cause could be simultaneous with its effect (at least this is a possibility) and there is some philosophical work being done on Eternal-Temporal Simultanaeity (Stump and Kretzman (sp?)) The fact is that it is not obvious that a cause always precedes its effect, however, that point is otiose since we are talking about the beginning ‘of’ time and not a time before time. It seems perfectly consistent that if an Eternal being like the theistic God exists he can cause the beginning of time/space without any changes to our notion of causality.

  78. Vladimir

    An atheist has the liberty to substitute whatever he likes for the word ‘God’, be it flying spaghetti monsters or pink unicorns or whatever. Atheists, being fair-minded, will no doubt extend that freedom to others. And so, God is Bill Dembski’s Refrigerator (the BDR). Atheists either do not believe in the existence of BDR, or they strongly deny the assertion ‘BDR exists’. Therefore, atheists are lunatics.

    I don’t get your point. There is quite overwhelming independent evidence for BDR which does not apply to God or Pink Unicorns.

  79. Hi, I’m an atheist. And this article is ridiculous.

    Your 4 challenges to atheism:

    1. Origin of the universe
    2. Origin of life
    3. Origin of the mind
    4. Origin of morality

    Atheism is not INTENDED to answer any of these questions. It is intellectually dishonest to fault atheism for not doing something it is not even intended to do.

    I’m an atheist and that means: every God I’ve ever heard of strikes me as fantasy. That’s it. That’s the sum of my atheism.

    My beliefs about 1-4 are unrelated to atheism.

    On 1-3: I don’t know. Interesting topics, certainly, but I don’t require knowledge of these to live. How would life even be different if we all knew exactly how the universe started?

    On 4: This one is easy. Don’t be evil — it works!

  80. Hi Superjer:

    Well, if you’re serious here, then my response to all THAT would be that while it is not necessary to explore ANY topic while holding ANY kind of belief system (or as you claim, lack therein), it DOES seem that many atheists and agnostics are fascinated by theology, the origin of life, the origin of mind, and the evolution of morals. Michael Shermer and the prolific Richard Dawkins among many certainly have things to say about all the above, as do the web stalkers like George Smith, as did the late Madeylyn Murray O’Hare.
    Some have tried to make an entire philosophy of life out of such notions that includes everything from politics to what you should eat and whether apes and dogs should be used in research. Presumably such notions have to have SOME kind of starting point to a discussion of morals.

    You are outgunned and outnumbered in the realm of nontheists who think non of the above has any relevence to your life.

    As to your take on the word “evil”, while SOME things are common to most civilizations both past and present, the application of the laws regarding this is not consistence, and varies by culture as much as the definition of other items we think are “evil.”

    How do you decide? Atheists commonly say “think for oneself”.

    Not a problem–and a great idea.
    But are not most of what we think about “good and evil” (except for general “feelings” from the human conscience, which is another matter) derived from society–or culture? And just rehashed versions of what people learned in Sunday School?

  81. 81
    Vladimir Krondan

    markf said,

    There is quite overwhelming independent evidence for BDR

    So why do atheists insist that BDR does not exist?

  82. So why do atheists insist that BDR does not exist?

    Vladimir

    I think I am missing some context here. Does Bill Dembski’s refridgerator have some special significance? I took it quite literally. I think it extremely likely he has one – because most American households do. I am not aware that atheists in general have expressed any opinion on this subject.

  83. RE 80

    it DOES seem that many atheists and agnostics are fascinated by theology, the origin of life, the origin of mind, and the evolution of morals.

    I think you should read Superjer’s beautifully concise post more closely. He said these are fascinating topics. You can be fascinated by such topics without believing you know the answer and without needing to know the answer to get on with living.

    On morals. Our ideas on good and evil are a fascinating and complex blend of what we derive from our culture and fundamental human motives such as compassion and desire for fairness (probably evolved to allow us to function effectivly in society). It is the second element that stops morality being entirely relative. Religion is part of our culture and actually part of the relative element. That’s why one religion will approve circumscision and another will not – but the vast majority of humanity independent of religion will accept the argument”that’s not fair”

  84. 84
    Vladimir Krondan

    markf said,

    I am not aware that atheists in general have expressed any opinion on this subject.

    In post 38 you said you don’t believe in BDR, though you were careful to add that you have no incontrovertible proof that BDR does not exist. In post 70 you assert there is no convincing evidence for BDR, which contradicts what you said earlier about Bill Dembski’s Refrigerator. In post 79, superjer, an atheist, declares that BDR strikes him as fantasy.

  85. Vladimir

    Please be a bit more explicit. I assume stands for Bill Dembski’s Refrigerator?

    I see no mention of Bill Dembski’s Refrigerator in posts 38, 70 or 79.

  86. think you should read Superjer’s beautifully concise post more closely. He said these are fascinating topics. You can be fascinated by such topics without believing you know the answer and without needing to know the answer to get on with living.

    No question. But that’s not where the bridge stops for most of your most prolific atheist or Doubting Thomas.com type sites that spend volumnes of print criticizing theology or what not. One assumes they have a competing supplantation in mind.

    As to morals, even WITHIN certain faiths we have statements like the apostle Paul (who KNEW the old Jewish law more than any other entity besides Moses and God), who said circumcision is nothing and not doing it is nothing. Rules and covenants change.

    Most people are not actually believers in any meaningful sense of the word, at least not in the orthodox(with a little “o”) sense of the word. You commonly hear both faithful types and atheist types scolding the “bible belt” or bolstering it or using the term “christian nation” for better or for ill. It is a mixed bag.

    Dave Scott asks how can we be so advanced technologically and be a nation so religious? He means to ask, of course, if the hard core nontheists think relgiousity is detrimental to the advancement of science, why is the US the top top.

    Two observations: Most of your “top dog” researchers and universities and most other foundations that process the latest findings on anything hardly have many of the faithful in them. A quick scan of the NAS, the NSF, and similar organizations shows little religious thinking among the top brass science careers.

    Second, America is not a “Christian nation”—in the sense of the word commonly meant. We are a nation of mouthiness about religion. Ask your average parishoner to give you a rundown and justification of the Faith or works of the church fathers. Not doable–by most.

    Atheists don’t like our religious nature and want us to be something along the lines of Sweden. Faithful types point to the “believes in God” stats as proof we are a “religious people.”

    Some disappointment to all above. We are provisionally atheistic.
    That’s how we live and work unless we witness tragedy or whatnot.

    As apologist Darek Barefoot has said, many people mumble “God talk” and sprinkle it on their meals like ground pepper, but few Americans would qualify as having a relationship with a diety of any type. The Wiccans might even come the closest more so than your average Bible thumper attendee of First Church in small towns.

    Notions, or mere notions, about God or faith are not the same thing as “being a believer” in any meaningful sense of the word.

    Provisional atheism (how we ACT in our everyday lives) to the effect that God’s existence is not even noteworthy, is the rule of thumb.

  87. 87
    Vladimir Krondan

    markf says,

    I see no mention of Bill Dembski’s Refrigerator in posts 38, 70 or 79.

    Ah, the atheist has suddenly shut off his faculty of imagination, which was previously running full steam. I wonder why. Post 35 says God is an invisible gremlin. Post 45 says God is a giant cockroach. Post 50 insists that God is a giant cockroach. Post 55 and 64 say that God is a green cockroach. Post 70 says that God is a superman with a white beard (Darwin?). Post 74 says that God is a WWII bomber. Post 76 says that God is Bill Dembski’s refrigerator. Fair enough.

    But why specifically disbelieve in one refrigerator, Bill Dembski’s? What about all the other refrigerators, including your own? Shouldn’t an atheist disbelieve in the existence of those too? Is there something special about Bill Dembski’s refrigerator as opposed to his other kitchen appliances? What about his blender or waffle-iron? The level of evidence for the nonexistence of all those appliances is roughly the same. It seems somewhat arbitrary for an atheist to deny the existence of Bill Dembski’s refrigerator, but not his waffle-iron or egg-beater.

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