A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions

From Abracadabra to Zombies

reader comments: atheism & gods

20 July 2010
Mr. Carroll,

Your take on God and science is interesting.

reply: I feel a "but...." coming on....

However, science is a giant ball of information from which we gather data and arrive at some logical or illogical conclusion.

reply: You got me there. I have no idea what you're talking about. I'm sure you'll clarify your point soon.

It is in a constant state of updating itself as new information comes in at light speed on a second by second basis.

reply: Well, maybe not.

We all know that what is routine today in prior times was considered to be a scientific impossibility--Someone tell those Wright boys to quit wasting time and get back to building bicycles. Germs, viruses, and bacteria don't exist; they can't be seen with the natural eye--Basic scientific theory until the giant ball of information was presented with the microscope and Ta-da--new theory.

reply: Yes. Things change. People have made erroneous predictions about the limits of knowledge. Science is no exception.

Add new information and science changes its mind and its stand. Frugal, at best.

reply: Frugal? It does seem reasonable to change your mind when the facts change. I don't know that I'd call that frugal, but it's certainly a wise policy.

So, we look at the science of Faith (not a science, you say--maybe not in the traditional sense of the word).

reply: Faith isn't a science in any sense of either word.

However, we have a hypothesis, being put to test that multiplied millions have reached the same conclusion to by doing the same tests. The conclusion--God does exist.

reply: I think you are saying that billions of people believe in some sort of god. I doubt that most of these believers consider their god to be a mere hypothesis. I have no idea what "tests" you are talking about.

As with every hypothesis, there will always be skeptics--after all, The Flat Earth Society still believes the earth--she is a flat. (See their website.)

reply: Your point is?

Will what I present change your mind--NO! And I am aware of that. What changed mine--Ahh! How does the earth contain carbon? How does someone get faith? Where does one get what did not exist?

R. Bradford

reply: I presume you mean change my mind about the existence of gods. I already have. I believed in the Abrahamic god for many years. I believed in cosmic consciousness for a short time. Now I don't. I changed my mind as I got more information, thought more about where the belief in gods originated, and came to understand more about human evolution. It seems clear to me that man created the gods, that we evolved to be very good at magical thinking and, as a result, are prone to superstitions of all kinds regarding the causes of things. Science has developed methods that minimize our natural tendencies to see causal patterns where none exist and to confirm our biases.

If you're really interested in carbon, you might start by reading the Wikipedia article on the topic.

People get faith in gods for many different reasons. Some are born into cultures that reinforce traditional superstitions regarding spirits and gods, and they never question (or aren't allowed to question) the superstitions. Some find an emotional satisfaction from believing in some being knowing what's going on with the universe, a being who is in charge, who made it all and did so for a purpose, who's benevolent and supervigilant, who will see that justice is done in heaven if not on earth, etc. Some people get faith when they develop a mental illness. I'd guess that the number of people who get faith in gods because of reasoning and logic is about the same as the number of people who respond to advertisements that appeal to reason and logic.


16 July 2010
If faith is a belief without proof (which is what most dictionaries cite) then atheism is in most cases with faith. You do not have proof that there is no God. It's as simple as that.

reply: There are as many gods as there are believers in gods. Give me your definition of god and I'll see if I think there is proof that your god either does not exist or probably does not exist.

The problem with  your claim, however, is that you think atheism is a belief. It isn't. I don't have a positive belief that there's no god, any more than I have a positive believe that there are no unicorns. What I say is that I have been introduced to many ideas about divine beings and none of them are believable.

You proclaim you're an atheist in the name of science, but a true scientific philosophy is agnostic. Otherwise you commit the same logical error that you believe religious folk make, a belief without evidence.

reply: I am not an atheist "in the name of science," whatever you think that means. I have found, however, that the more science I learn, the less credible become the incredible beliefs about gods and spirits that have dominated human history for millennia. Gods are unnecessary hypotheses. They're no longer needed to explain anything in the natural world. I think people believe in them because they've been taught to believe in them and the belief is continually reinforced in their communities. Some come to a belief in adulthood after a period of atheism or agnosticism. I went in the other direction, from a belief in the Abrahamic god to the abandonment of that belief. I once believed in cosmic consciousness, but I gave that one up, too. They seemed like good ideas when I was younger. They have no attraction for me now.

I repeat that not believing in any gods is not a belief, but the lack of a belief. I don't claim the evidence proves there is no god. I claim that the scientific evidence keeps growing and growing, and the more it grows the more inadequate and primitive become ancient concepts of gods and demons, etc. I'm especially impressed by the latest evidence from the neurosciences and psychology. Belief in gods and spirits has become an area of study in itself. We know enough about the brain to say with confidence that as the brain goes so goes the mind. Dualism is a natural way of looking at things. Belief in spirits and powerful invisible entities as the causes of natural things is also a natural way of thinking. Nature has formed us to be superstitious. Magical thinking is the result of thousands of years of human evolution.  I think it is fascinating that we are now studying why people continue to believe in gods and spirits when the evidence is piling up that there is little credible support for such beliefs.

Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother. -Khalil Gibran

I don't have much to say other than that, because most of your arguments are rhetorical in nature. I guess after years and years of skepticism you've discovered how to present an argument that is rather foolproof. However, you're mistaken if you think that a foolproof argument represents validity. For example, I came across your page while looking for Dean Radin material. I stopped reading after 4-5 paragraphs, the reason: your arguments are focused on discrediting him by making him look like a fool. I couldn't find anything in your write-up that actually attacked his argument rather than him. A child can make anyone look like a fool, and it does not merit anything more than the immaturity of the child.

reply: A child would also recognize that someone who read only 4-5 pages of a 50 page document isn't in any position to make judgments about the document. If I discredit Dean Radin and make him look like a fool, I have my reasons and they are printed for all to see. Read all 13 files I've posted on Radin's work before you start making wild and unsupportable accusations.

I have a good foolproof argument though, too, for science and religion coexisting. It's actually more foolproof because I do not focus on rhetoric, rather evidence. Can you name a father of science that is/was not spiritual in some manner? I've asked 100 atheists this question, best answer I ever got was Bruno. Who was killed by the church for blasphemy, but then I read more about him and discovered that he was executed with a chance to repent his sins - meanwhile proclaiming that there is no contradiction. If he indeed was religious "to fit in" he would have repented. Da Vinci hid his religious work in fear of the same fate.

reply: I've never claimed that science and religion can't co-exist. There have been atheist scientists, but so what? (Note: I have not edited the following "evidence.")

Einstein - raised jewish, became pantheist Da vinci - Did many works on prophecy and the Bible, prophecied a deluge armageddon. Newton - The first bible "coder" predicted that isreal would be refound in 1944 (2 years off?) and predicted the second comming in 2050(?) Hawking - pantheist, quoted Einstein "spinoza's God" Galileo - claimed his findings were not contradictory to scripture, proposing a non-literal approach to scripture Kelvin - committed christion in a society of the opposite Boyle - wrote a book on proving the christian religion to infidels Bacon - "It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion; for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them, and go no further; but when it beholdeth the chain of them confederate, and linked together, it must needs fly to Providence and Deity." Kepler - his works on astronomy contain writings about how space and the heavenly bodies represent the Trinity Copernicus - referred sometimes to God in his works, and did not see his system as in conflict with the Bible. Planck - "the holiness of the unintelligible Godhead is conveyed by the holiness of symbols." Mendel Faraday Descartes

I assume you will want to challenge, as most atheists do in their stubbornness, and I am prepared to rebuke. I've heard them all.


reply: You may have heard them all, but you don't seem to have listened. I don't know what it is you expect me to challenge. Many scientists today, as in the past, believe in spirits, demons, gods, etc. You seem to think that this fact means the beliefs are justified. Scientists and philosophers centuries ago had no reasonable alternative explanations for such things as the origin of stars and planets, or the origin of species on Earth. The had little understanding of the brain, perception, dreaming, hallucinations, etc. Scientists who continue to believe in supernatural entities have their reasons and, as I said above, I find it fascinating to explore why they believe as they do.


9 May 2008

What proof do you have that there is no God?

I will admit that evolutionists can make a rather compelling case that the creation happened without a creator. However, that does not constitute proof that a creator couldn't have done it. If you want to believe that the creation happened without a creator, then by all means stick to your guns. However, I would appreciate it if you would stop looking down on people who believe in a God. You don't know that there isn't one.



If you post this comment, please don't mention my name.

reply: I don't know that there isn't one god or two gods or two hundred gods, I suppose. Even so, proofs are easy to come by. Getting people to accept them is the hard part.

To begin any such proof, we must begin with clarifying our terms. What do we mean by 'God'? If you mean 'eternal, all-powerful, all-good, invisible being who created the universe out of nothing but an act of will' then I would proceed thusly:

Premise 1. If God exists, then innocents should not suffer the horrendous torments of famines, floods, hurricanes, etc.

Premise 2. Innocents do suffer the horrendous torments etc.

Therefore, God does not exist.

The above proof (by modus tollens) is valid. The second premise is indisputable. You and others will probably quibble over the first premise. Perhaps you will claim that God must have good reasons for allowing innocents to suffer so terribly, even if we don't understand them. Perhaps, but that seems to beg the question. It hardly seems an adequate justification for believing in God. In any case, whatever objection you bring up to my proof will hinge on your extending the meaning of 'God' to include qualities that will seem contradictory to me.

In any case, I don't look down on you because you believe in God. I used to believe in God and used to pity those who did not. Now, I find that the terms 'spirit' and 'god' have no clear cognitive content. They're emotive terms that express hopes, desires, fears, wishes, and other fuzzy feelings.


12 May 2008

There is enough evidence (Kyron DNA series) [Kyron?] to know there is more to life than what you can see and scientifically study here on earth. It is arrogant to think or fathom that all you see and can study from earth is it. There are invisible influences on the earth and us as humans--ten times more than can be studied with the simple machines here. I would think as smart as you all are you'd know better... Believe what you want. Once you finally go on the other side of the veil and REALLY see how it ALL works you'll really feel stupid. You say, "yeah, prove it"! Well, smarty pants we can't...cause NONE of us are smart enough to comprehend how it all works or can prove it. Stop feeling so small and being so negative and just accept it.


reply: Smarty pants? Very charming. Anyway, no, I don't ask you to prove what I will feel like when I "go on the other side of the veil." But I do think it is a non sequitur to recommend accepting a belief in something on the grounds that you can't comprehend it.

You are hoping to live forever, perhaps. What will continue to exist after death? Your soul? What's that? You don't know, but does it makes you feel big instead of small to believe something you don't comprehend? Personally, I would feel stupid if I went around recommending to people that they believe things that neither I nor they could understand.

In any case, the most reasonable belief is that when you die all consciousness and feeling ceases. To believe that your 'spirit' will live on would require that there be some clear sense to the notion of 'spirit.' To say it is a non-bodily being, a kind of mind without a brain existing nowhere in particular and capable of perceiving and feeling joy and pain is to speak unintelligibly. It is to use words in ways that don't make sense. It is not because we can't see spirits that make them incomprehensible entities. We can't see the effects of these invisible creatures. Something which can neither be perceived nor produce perceivable effects is nothing to us.

However, if others believe in spirits it makes it easy for religions to indoctrinate and control people. If others believe in spirits it makes it easy for so-called psychics and mediums to pull the veil over their clients' eyes and pretend to get messages from the dead.

Whatever else I might say about spirits, I have to admit they are good for business if your business involves deceiving others for a living.


13 May 2008

Some of the most painful and unfair suffering that humans can experience is the suffering that is caused by other humans. Don't blame God for that kind of suffering. Just because God isn't preventing it doesn't mean He's causing it.


reply: If God created everything, then God is ultimately the first cause of everything that is and everything that happens.

It seems reasonable to believe that the deaths and destruction from the recent typhoon in Myanmar, the earthquake in China, the tornadoes in the U.S., the volcano in Chile, etc. are natural processes that are not part of any grand design by an omnipotent spirit. It also seems reasonable to believe that the young man I read about in the newspaper this morning who allegedly murdered his ex-girlfriend and her prom date was not part of an intelligent design by an omnipotent, all-good spirit.

It's possible (i.e., we can conceive it without contradiction) that there is a being who designed, created, and controls everything in the universe. It's also possible that this being is an invisible teapot with consciousness and extraordinary powers to will things into and out of existence. The teapot may  be orbiting one of the moons of Jupiter. You can't prove the teapot doesn't exist but that's not a very good reason for thinking that it does.

(Of course, I am building on Bertrand Russell's famous china teapot analogy:

Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.

A rather humorous commentary on Russell's teapot can be found here.


13 May 2008

I disagree with the premise that the existence of suffering proves the non-existence of God. I don't know where you got that idea, but you didn't get it from the bible. Nowhere in the bible does God make the claim that he would provide humans a life without suffering. As a matter of fact, there are parts of the bible where God claims that if you follow him you will have more suffering in this life, not less.

You say "If God created everything, then God is ultimately the first cause of everything that is and everything that happens." I don't agree with that either. You've probably had children. That means that you are the first cause of those children. That doesn't make you responsible for the actions of those children when they grow up to be adults. Just because God gives you freedom of choice doesn't mean that God is responsible for the choices you make.

In any event, I am delighted that you responded to my emails. Also, I have a high regard for your site. I believe that the vast majority of things you debunk need to be debunked...even when it steps on my toes or touches my nerves.


reply: As I noted above, not accepting my proof will hinge on your extending the meaning of 'God' to include qualities that will seem contradictory to me. The god of the bible is a being whose creators endowed him with many properties that, if taken literally, do not harmonize with the idea of an eternal, omnipotent, all-Good creator. He is powerful being with many human attributes, a character in a set of stories. In that sense, he's no different than Zeus or Thor or Shiva. We know that the god of the Bible destroys innocents and causes enormous pain and suffering when he gets angry. That depiction of a god is why many do not take the stories literally or, if they do, reject them as the propaganda of a small tribe of shepherds.

I'm not really the first cause of my children but I will admit that I am a causal link in a very long series of intersecting causes that led to their existence. A first cause is the one that begins it all. It's a concept that is philosophically troublesome because it requires us to conceive of something that has no cause. Such a thing would have to have existed forever, which is a difficult thing to conceive. Or, it caused itself to come into being, which is difficult to conceive. Or, it came out of nothing, which is even more difficult to conceive.

God may not be responsible for the choices we make, but God is responsible for creating beings with desires and defective brains that influence choices. God is responsible for creating the environments that kill us and limit our choices. We may be responsible for many of the choices we make but if a god created us and the world we live in, then that god is responsible for whatever happens.

In any case, God is supposed to be omniscient and omnipotent and thus would know before creating anything all the evil that would follow. Knowing the consequences of your actions  and being able to control them but then acting anyway makes you responsible. Of course, the god of the bible is neither omniscient nor omnipotent, and he certainly isn't all-good, so I guess I'm barking up the wrong tree.


14 May 2008

If you don't want to believe in God, you don't have to. Just don't force me to share your non-belief.


reply: How could I force you or anyone else to share my rejection of your theistic beliefs? Almost everyone in power in the U.S. these days is a theist and many of them would like to force all of us to accept their theistic beliefs and their notions of what they consider to be moral and immoral. The real threat to freedom of belief in this country is coming from the theists, but that's how it's been since 1776.

Those of us who think your theistic beliefs are wrong aren't asking you to give them up. We're asking you to leave us alone. Keep your symbols, sacred texts, and superstitious practices out of our schools, our stadiums, and public buildings. We won't disrupt your religious services and you shouldn't disrupt our educational and civil proceedings. Follow whatever rules of morality you see fit (as long as they are lawful) but don't try to force the rest of us to think and act as you do.

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