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« Who Exactly is Fighting this War on Christmas We've Heard So Much About? The RantsHappy Holidays - See You Next Year »

No, We Won't Someday Turn to God
2005.12.19 (Mon) 17:45

We've heard this line many, many times, often from those who are generally good and intelligent people (though some, like Charles, are asshats):

Someday, you may face a tragedy in your life, and when you do, who will you turn to for help?

The implication being, of course, that the answer must be "God." Sorry, but no. The line of "reasoning" inherent in this statement is flawed in two basic ways; we wanted to take a moment to point out these flaws in an effort to help people understand why this is a nonsensical assertion.

First, it's not remotely a good assumption that none of us here have faced any tragic events in our lives. In brief, various members of the Two Percent Company have, since reaching adulthood, experienced medical emergencies both concerning ourselves and our families, been subject to serious illnesses again to ourselves and our families, suffered through the untimely deaths of close friends and family members, and endured an attack at gunpoint, just to name a few events. We aren't trying to measure our tragedies against anyone else's — we can certainly imagine worse events than those that we've listed — in fact, it's just the opposite. What we're saying is that everyone goes through tough times in their lives, and we're no different. But through all the tough times we've experienced as adults, we have not turned to God for help. Not once. Not even for a moment.

Which brings us to the second logical flaw in the question at hand — since we have faced tragedy, and since we have not turned to God for help, who have we turned to? To us, the answer is monumentally obvious, though to people with whom we have this discussion the answer always seems so unexpected — we've turned to our families and our friends. By the very nature of our relationships with these people, we always have and always would turn to them in times of trouble. Throughout our lives, our families and friends have always been there to listen to us, to cry with us, to laugh with us, to cook for us, to give us money, to bail us out, to pick us up, and to set us straight. And not only are they generally happy to help us, but they also have an extra advantage over God — that of being able to provide actual assistance that is both physically and emotionally tangible. In addition to leaning on these people, we've also leaned on ourselves, counting on our own inner strength to pull us through. Hell, human beings can be remarkably resilient when they have to be, and we're no different. In point of fact, we would argue that all of the people who tell us how they leaned on God when faced with tragedy were in fact doing exactly what we've described above — they leaned on their families and their friends, and their own inner strength. The difference, as we see it, is that they aren't giving credit where credit is actually due.

One response that we often utilize when confronted with this argument is the following analogy:

Someday, you may be robbed at gunpoint. If that happens, will you call out to Batman to help you?

We've received a number of different responses to this proposition, and all of them end up making our point for us. Some people say: "No, that's different, because Batman is just a fictional character from a comic book." Our response is that it isn't any different to us — turning to God (who was written about in the bible by ordinary people) during a tragedy is no different, to us, than turning to Batman. So, if someone can understand why they don't turn to Batman, they'll understand why we won't turn to God.

Some others say: "Who knows what I might do in a time of extreme stress — maybe for a moment, Batman might seem like a good option." Our response here is to acknowledge that sometimes terror can overtake logic, but that in the end, when the stressful situation is over, it's important to return to your senses, and understand that there really is no Batman.

There's nothing wrong with some folks turning to God, or other supernatural forces, or anything else in a difficult time. There are times when inner strength just may not be enough for some people, and we can't argue with whatever it takes to keep such folks alive and moving forward day after day. But it's important to understand that not everyone is wired that way. To us, turning to God is as silly as turning to Batman — there's no benefit to either approach, and both are just plain ludicrous.

All of that said, we are not trying to say that there aren't any non-believers who would turn to God in times of trouble. In fact, we'd bet that such people absolutely do exist. There are certainly those who straddle the fence in their beliefs, and for whom a tragedy could shift their point of view. There are certainly those who may profess to be non-believers, but who really harbor vestiges of theism. And quite frankly, there are those people who are willing to change their beliefs in exchange for what they may see as a personal miracle, despite a lack of evidence or even despite clear evidence to the contrary. People in all of these categories could well be candidates for becoming believers in the face of tragedy. But again, we are not among them, and we know that there are many others like us.

So, to people who've said this to us maliciously as they sit wringing their hands in eager anticipation of us experiencing a horrible tragedy and falling to our knees to ask for God's help, please do get a clue. And to our friends who have said this to us with sincere intentions, we appreciate your concern, but if you're really concerned about us, just be ready and willing to lend a hend if and when we next hit a rough patch. To us, that's so much more valuable than turning to either God or Batman.


— • —
[  Filed under: % Greatest Hits  % Religion  ]

Comments (68)

Fan-man, 2005.12.19 (Mon) 20:20 [Link] »
Someday, you may face a tragedy in your life, and when you do, who will you turn to for help?
So many gods to pick from, so little time.


interupt, 2005.12.19 (Mon) 23:29 [Link] »

Thanks for that laugh Fan-Man, that was great.

:)



MBains, 2005.12.20 (Tue) 04:44 [Link] »

"Good King Priapus went out
"On the Feast of Siphnos... "

Whoa...

Nicely written rant 2%ers.

Our response is that it isn't any different to us — turning to God (who was written about in the bible by ordinary people) during a tragedy is no different, to us, than turning to Batman. So, if someone can understand why they don't turn to Batman, they'll understand why we won't turn to God.

There-in lies the one element that allows all of the god myths to slowly start running down the drain (and up the evaporator) of human cultural evolution. It is the realization that gods are of great human stories which try to explain both the brutishness and magnificence of human experiences. Metaphor, allegory, and just plain fiction are awesome intellectual artifacts.

We must know to not take them too seriously though, lest we forget that the Earth would still revolve around the Sun were we not here. It did before any life arose. If we're not smart enough to acknowledge our own intellectual and emotional progress, it will do so long after we are gone.

Happy Holidays & Slurpy New Year
(what could be better than something slurpy?)
{-;



Sporkyy, 2005.12.20 (Tue) 11:03 [Link] »

That whole "no atheists in foxholes" myth has always bugged me too. I hate it even more when they do it after the fact. People just seem apt to thank gods for just about anything without any evidence. It's one thing to have a lapse of rationality in a moment of extreme duress, but another, far more disturbing, phenomenon when they do it calmly afterwards.

36 hour surgery save the life of your daughter? Thank a god!
You win a football game? Thank a god!
You win the lottery? Thank a god!

These things may well be impressive, satisfying and improbable; but they really suck in terms of having any sort objective evidence that the event was somehow affected by a god. You might as well substitute in the explanation that it was a clone of Elvis from the 37th century who traveled back in time with technology so advanced it can do anything without leaving any evidence of its involvement as there is just as much evidence for his being invlolved as there is of any gods.

36 hour surgery save the life of your daughter? Thank a time traveling Elvis clone!
You win a football game? Thank a time traveling Elvis clone!
You win the lottery? Thank a time traveling Elvis clone!

Really, it makes just as much sense. Possibly even more so if you give brownie points for not presupposing the existance of the supernatural and the fact that both cloning and Elvis are real.

Addtionally, it shafts the actual factors that contributed. A 36 hour surgery involved a bunch of doctors and nurses and technical staff. There is no "i" in team, and there certainly isn't any "god" either. Lotteries are governed by psychology, statistics and physics. People shy away from playing sequential numbers because they feel they are too unlikely. Statistics will tell you what your chanes of winning are based on the number of numbers, the reuse of number and the value of the largest number. Physics is composed of the rules that control how the balls will move about before being picked.

I would personally be offended as a nurse, teamate or statistician by someone crediting some completely unevidenced actor before me.



Rockstar, 2005.12.20 (Tue) 11:46 [Link] »

Funny how they don't bow down to their god when tragedy strikes.

I got cancer! Praise the Lord!!

No, they turn to medicine (the smart ones that is).

I say to all the ID/Creationists and other blatherers of bullshit (this means YOU Falwell and Robertson!) that since they've turned their backs on science, don't call to it for help!



interupt, 2005.12.20 (Tue) 21:48 [Link] »

Good Point Rockstar. I noticed Jerry Falwell didn't hesitate to go to hospital, albiet a very very private, very very expensive hospital when he had is heart attack (presumably sent as a "message from God.")

Then pronounced he wanted to stay alive for as long as possible. "Do everything to save my life" he declared.

Whats the matter Jerry? Are we scared about meeting God? That impending sense of doom when your heart started to falter got you thinking? The tickle in your ear that you may die get your motor running?

Why would he be scared? I mean in Rev. it says the children of God, Living and Dead will be called back to Him...surely such a devout man would be one of the 144 000 called up?

Pussy!



geronimo, 2005.12.21 (Wed) 12:00 [Link] »

Whatever am I to do, Two-Percenters? I worship Batman! Who can I turn to in times of strife?



Rockstar Ryan, 2005.12.21 (Wed) 14:53 [Link] »

His Noodliness is always accepting the poor huddled masses.



glintir, 2005.12.21 (Wed) 15:05 [Link] »

I worship the poker gods. You get immediate results with the poker gods. Fickle bastards.

Sporkky: Not only is there no god in team. There's no i in god. But that's just plain wrong. I suggest we start spelling it goid.



PB27, 2005.12.27 (Tue) 10:45 [Link] »

Great piece on "Batgod." Rockstar, nice addition also.

The Judeo-Christian masses have never spared creativity when it comes to finding excuses for God being absent from bad occurrences in life. He serendipitously appears only when the cancer is healing. If they could apply that creativity to something that affects our lives, we'd be onto something. (But "hell" would have frozen over.)

Great website, 2%. I've been hooked all morning.



Rob Lemont, 2006.01.10 (Tue) 19:02 [Link] »
Good Point Rockstar. I noticed Jerry Falwell didn't hesitate to go to hospital, albiet a very very private, very very expensive hospital when he had is heart attack (presumably sent as a "message from God.")

Then pronounced he wanted to stay alive for as long as possible. "Do everything to save my life" he declared.

Whats the matter Jerry? Are we scared about meeting God? That impending sense of doom when your heart started to falter got you thinking? The tickle in your ear that you may die get your motor running?

Why would he be scared? I mean in Rev. it says the children of God, Living and Dead will be called back to Him...surely such a devout man would be one of the 144 000 called up?

Pussy!

I am sorry but that post made me physically flinch.
You are not aiding the scientific argument one iota there.
Infact you are just being a babbling arse.

I think that twopercent are doing a great job creating informative discussion, but I think it should distance itself from buffoons like you.



Rob Lemont, 2006.01.10 (Tue) 19:04 [Link] »

Apologies for the tags being wrong, perhaps someone could ammend for me.

Thanks



The Two Percent Company, 2006.01.12 (Thu) 00:00 [Link] »

Not meaning to offend you at all, Rob, but we do find merit in interupt's comment. It quite correctly points out the wonderfully revealing disconnect between what many Christian fundamentalists claim to believe and how they actually live their lives. As far as his tone, we took it as (somewhat) tongue-in-cheek.



The Wheelman, 2006.01.23 (Mon) 13:17 [Link] »

I understand what interupt was saying. For a group that claims to have such a personal relationship with the Great Gas in The Sky, those telly-vangelists and their followers don't seem to be in any great hurry to go "meet" Him...

I "turned to GAWD" during a period of great personal tragedy, and you know what? He WASN'T THERE!

THAT was the finally nail in the coffin of any belief I ever hoped to have in the Great Sky Daddy. *IF* He exisits, he sure blew it, know what I mean?

Good article, 2%!



Sid, 2007.01.29 (Mon) 17:27 [Link] »

I hope this isn't too off topic.

In deciding whether or not to believe in God, there really are two main points to consider:

1) The matter of the universe always was, nothing created it or somehow it created itself.

2) God always was, and it created the universe.

Both are illogical based on the evidence that we
see before us. From our perspective, everything has to have a point of origin. If for example, you subscribe to the Big Bang theory, then you still have to ask what created the matter that eventually exploded. It's the age old question.

If course, one could simply say that I don't know, which is the most honest answer. But there really are only two choices as far as I can see, so why not consider both as realistic possibilities.

Sorry if this point has already been discussed elswhere on your website.




Bronze Dog, 2007.01.29 (Mon) 18:07 [Link] »
From our perspective, everything has to have a point of origin. If for example, you subscribe to the Big Bang theory, then you still have to ask what created the matter that eventually exploded. It's the age old question.

Not true. The matter always existed. There was nowhere for it to "come from," not even a nothing, if that makes any sense at all. At least that's how I see it until someone falsifies the law of conservation by building a free energy machine.

The problem is that you're letting your common sense get in the way, and it's not very helpful for things like relativity and quantum mechanics. You have to toss aside preconceptions and go by what the evidence says. So far, it says that there's no known way to create matter, hence we assume the null hypothesis until shown otherwise.



The Two Percent Company, 2007.01.29 (Mon) 18:32 [Link] »

Some of these elements have been discussed before, Sid, but you've done a good job of boiling down your point of view and presenting your argument. There are a few flaws here, but we'll just point out two of them for now.

First, though you may not have meant to, you have presented a false dilemma, a situation in which you present only two options when, by the logic of those two options, there could be any greater number of alternatives. In fact, you've presented multiple false dilemmas. For example, the idea that the universe either stretches back in time forever or had a definitive beginning point is a false dilemma, in that there is at least one third option we can think of: that the time we experience is actually cyclical, with no beginning or end — it just keeps going around, and all the events we witness are leading up to a scenario that starts the whole domino chain off again. (We don't necessarily believe this, but it's as much of a possibility as the created and eternal universes.)

But the more frequently offered false dilemma is the choice between "God" or "no God." As a quick trip through the myths of the world will reveal, numerous other possibilities have been posited by countless cultures from every era of human history. There's no reason to assume that the big G — the one with the capitalized name, that darling of monotheists — is the ultimate binary switch, either "yes" or "no." Now we aren't saying that you are offering up the monotheistic example as the only option for "God" — for all we know, you could have meant to cover any number of supernatural explanations with that word, from leprechauns to an all-powerful force — it's just something your comment made us think about. That said, offering such a false dilemma usually (though not always) indicates that one has actually already made up his mind about which of the mere two options is correct. But as Stephen Roberts suggested, and we agree, "I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer God than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible Gods, you will then understand why I dismiss yours."

A further exploration of your comment leads us to the remark that, "From our perspective, everything has to have a point of origin." Perhaps this is true (though we don't think everyone shares the same "perspective," in the vague way that the word is usually understood). But it's still misleading: "from our perspective," the transference of matter or energy should resemble either a particle or a wave, not both; "from our perspective," Newtonian physics seem to pretty accurately reflect what happens in the physical world. But these perspectives are limited, and therefore flawed; wave-particle duality is a commonly accepted — and incredibly bizarre! — finding of scientific testing and observation, and Newtonian physics only remain accurate on scales that we humans find "manageable." Perspective is a tricky thing, and limiting yourself to one — even if it is the gestalt human perspective — is not the best way to investigate What's Really Going On.

Your penultimate assertion is, to us, a particularly good one:

[Of] course, one could simply say that I don't know, which is the most honest answer.

We agree, Sid, absolutely. We don't "know" anything definitively — because science is always open to the discovery and exploration of new evidence, which can substantially alter how we view old evidence, and our models of how the universe works. This is the huge difference between science (always searching for something new that might change what we know) and religion (steadfastly holding to the unchanging principles that were established millennia ago, no matter what new evidence comes along to contradict them). All knowledge in science is, by necessity and by admission, provisional — it is accepted unless and until something comes along that is more strongly supported by evidence and observation. This doesn't mean that we don't have a "pretty good idea" of how things work, though! The technological, scientific, and medical wonders that have developed in the past few centuries should be evidence enough that humans, as a species, are pretty good at figuring stuff out. In contrast, we can point to...well, nothing that religion or "faith-based beliefs" have done to prolong our lives, increase the quality of life, or make work and play easier and more enjoyable.

Further, while (as we've said) the scientific community acknowledges and even embraces the fact that we "don't know," it is the faith-based community — religion, woo-beliefs, and so forth — that constantly makes claims to actually know. Religion is the worst offender here, proclaiming loudly and without any doubt that God or god or gods exist — it's a little strange, to us, that you would offer a false dilemma in which yes-or-no-God is our only option, and then implore us to admit that we "don't know" the answers. The God myth is the prime example of a group of people not admitting that they "don't know" the answers.

In short: there's a lot of stuff going on, and no, we don't know all the answers yet — nor, likely, will we ever. But that's the great thing about science and the scientific method: despite — or perhaps because of — these handicaps, we keep searching for and finding new answers anyway. Just as life should be about the journey, and not the destination (for instance, some promised paradise for which we've seen no evidence), science is about the discovery, the increase of knowledge — not the ultimate and apparently impossible completion of knowledge.



Tom Foss, 2007.01.29 (Mon) 20:55 [Link] »

How can you abatists deny the overwhelming evidence for the existence of Batman? Haven't you ever read a comic book? It says "Detective Comics Featuring Batman"! His name is right there in the title! Are you claiming that DC Comics is lying? Millions of people read Batman comics and watch his cartoons, how can that many people be wrong?

Some people say that just because you can't see Batman that it means he doesn't exist. Wrong! Batman lives in the shadows and during the day he hides in an underground cave! That's why you don't see him! And people have seen him, how else would they be able to draw him in the comic books? Duh!

I don't know how abatists can continue to claim that Batman is an urban legend or a myth. Countless criminals have been touched by his vengeful fist, and hundreds have even been hanged upside-down from buildings by him! Are you denying their accounts? Who hung them, then, if not Batman?

Some people say that because Spider-Man and Wolverine are fake, Batman must be too. That statement is ridiculous. I mean, Spider-Man is a kid (not even a man! Clearly he's untrustworthy) who got bitten by a radioactive spider so he invents some hi-tech web-shooters in his basement and puts on spandex to fight crime? No one believes that could happen, it's obviously false. And everyone knows there's no such thing as mutants or adamantium, so Wolverine's fake too. No one seriously believes in Spider-Man or Wolverine, and anyone who does is really doing the Joker's work. No, Batman is the one true superhero. He is a normal man with incredible intelligence (no absurd radiation or mutation here!) who uses miraculous gadgets to fight crime. See how different he is! He's clearly the real deal.

Really, if Batman didn't exist, then why would the Gotham City Police have a signal light on top of their building to summon him? Quid pro quo, Batman exists.



Sid, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 02:30 [Link] »

Fair enough.

There are other possibilities. It seems though that even this circle of time theory that you mention, still had to have a point of origin. Something that created the circle in the first place.

It seems like a bigger leap to say that matter always was. How can I not use some common sense? I don't know much about physics, but I'm not aware of anything that explains where matter came frome or if it always was.
I can look around and see matter, but that doesn't make me believe that it simply always was with no point of origin.

I think you sense that I lean towards believing in God. I should have said that right away, but it turns some people off from the topic.

I don't sympathize with the fundamentalists of any relgion. To the contrary, I think it's unhealthy for society. However, I do think it is very reasonable for someone who is not a relgious freak or fearful of being worm food, to believe that God exists.
If they say with absolute certaintly that God exists, then they are not being honest.---Hence the word "faith".




Rockstar, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 10:00 [Link] »
It seems like a bigger leap to say that matter always was.

I don't understand why. We know matter exists, why do we need a Flying Spaghetti to create it?

Theists say "God always was". Carl Sagan asks "why not just remove one step and say the universe always was?"

That's using Occam's Razor, which basically means don't make shit up.



Tom Foss, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 10:55 [Link] »
There are other possibilities. It seems though that even this circle of time theory that you mention, still had to have a point of origin. Something that created the circle in the first place.
That's a false assumption. You're assuming that everything needs to have an initial starting point, and there's nothing to say that that's the case. I do, however, commend you on not succumbing to the usual Big Bang misconceptions. Thank you for that.

The problem is, if you posit the existence of a god who created the matter of the universe, you're left with the same dilemma. What created god? Has god always existed? The former leads you to an infinite series of propagating gods like Russian dolls, and since all those entities are hypothetical, Occam's Razor would cause us to reject them in favor of a simpler explanation. If the latter is true, then you have the same problem you had with matter always existing, except you have also invented an unnecessary deity. The dilemma is shifted one generation back, but it is still very much a problem, and still very much unanswered.

It seems like a bigger leap to say that matter always was. How can I not use some common sense?
Common sense is a great thing, but it is only valid on a specific scale: the level of human experience. Human experience would suggest that matter is continuous, not divided into discrete little packets. Human experience would suggest that time is a constant and that we move through it at a determined rate. Human experience would suggest that the sun and stars rotate around the Earth. These are all common-sense notions, and they are all true from our perspective. However, science has revealed every one of them to be seriously flawed. When you deal with concepts that are beyond the human ability to observe, such as the submicroscopic realm of the atom, the gargantuan realm of the solar system, or the billions and billions of years of past history, common sense falls apart.

And you're right, it is a leap to say that matter has always existed. It goes contrary to any kind of common sense, and it may not even be correct. However, positing the existence of an eternal omnipotent supernatural being without evidence is in fact a greater leap. At the very least, we can look at matter and say "it exists." From that, we have two options: it has always existed, it has not always existed. With god, we cannot even make the first statement. There is an extra leap involved.

I don't know much about physics, but I'm not aware of anything that explains where matter came frome or if it always was.
Well, half of that is true. Scientists do not yet have an explanation for where the matter came from or what happened before the Big Bang, and part of this is another matter where common sense falls apart.

See, from a variety of different forms of evidence (background radiation, the relative motion of the galaxies, etc.) we can extrapolate universal history back to a point barely a fraction of a second after the Big Bang. We cannot, however, come to the zero point itself, nor can we say what occurred "before" that. The zero point of the universe, when all the mass and space was packed into an infinitely dense, infinitely small point, much like a black hole (except much more massive, much denser, and without space around it). It was a singularity, and that has a few unfortunate consequences, the most striking being that there could be no passage of time. There are a number of reasons for this, but I'm not certain I could describe them accurately without looking them up (like anyone else, I tend to think of things existing in space and in time, and I have to try very hard not to describe the pre-Bang singularity in those terms, because they do not apply. The Big Bang was an expansion of space, not into space, and it is very difficult to conceive of that).

So, it's impossible (at this point) to say what occurred before the Big Bang, because at the zero point, linear time would not exist.

Which is not to say that there aren't several hypotheses for that time before time. 2% Co. accurately described the idea that the universe operates in a cyclical fashion, where matter explodes in a big bang, compresses back together in a big crunch, and explodes outward again in a big bang. An oscillating universe, essentially. This view has fallen out of favor with the scientific community in recent years, despite its elegance, because all the available evidence says that the universe is expanding at an increasing rate, which makes a "big crunch" very unlikely. M-theorists (a subset of string theory) have proposed that a big bang occurs when two multidimensional membranes, each containing a universe, collide, the result is a new big bang. There are a couple of variations on that concept as well, but M-theory is in its very early stages, and like string theory is neither proven nor generally accepted.

So it would be absolutely accurate to say "we don't know yet." This is one of the biggest mysteries in modern physics, and you'd better believe that many scientists are hard at work trying to figure it out.

And it certainly doesn't mean that any scientist is willing to throw up her hands and say "goddidit."

I can look around and see matter, but that doesn't make me believe that it simply always was with no point of origin.

I think you sense that I lean towards believing in God. I should have said that right away, but it turns some people off from the topic.

I don't sympathize with the fundamentalists of any relgion. To the contrary, I think it's unhealthy for society. However, I do think it is very reasonable for someone who is not a relgious freak or fearful of being worm food, to believe that God exists.
If they say with absolute certaintly that God exists, then they are not being honest.---Hence the word "faith".


That's more fair and reasonable than most who would make that argument would admit. I think the only place where the folks 'round here would disagree with you is whether or not it is reasonable (let alone "very reasonable") to believe in a god. There may be many reasons for a person to have faith, but so far as science is concerned, it is not reasonable to believe in anything without proof. It would be nice if the matter of the universe were evidence for an omnipotent deity, but unfortunately it only diverts the same problems that occur with eternal matter, with the added problem of a new hypothetical entity.

You're absolutely right, though. No one can say with absolute certainty that God exists. A scientist would say that no one can say anything (except perhaps "I think, therefore I am") with absolute certainty, but we can say things with provisional certainty, based on evidence and observation. Unfortunately, with matters of the supernatural, the only way you can make statements to the positive is with a measure of faith. There is no evidence or observation to support the existence of God, only personal faith. And the problem with trying to validate that faith with scientific evidence is that science is ill-equipped to deal with matters beyond the natural world, and faith is weakened by having to lean on science as a crutch. If you have faith, that alone acts as your observation and evidence for the supernatural; trying to prove it with science ends up demeaning both pursuits.



Sid, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 11:07 [Link] »

Huh? Flying spaghettit? Don't make shit up? Are you being silly? If you carefully read the previous posts, you'll see that we have already covered this point.

I don't know which is worse for a reasonable discussion on the matter, radical relgious freaks or radical Carlin atheists.




Tom Foss, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 11:19 [Link] »

Heh, I've got a doozy of a post waiting in the spam filter. In the meantime, here's a brief explanation.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster, or FSM, is a hypothetical deity which was proposed in a tongue-in-cheek letter to an Intelligent Design-promoting school district, demanding equal time for the theory of design-via-FSM. Since then, it has become shorthand among the areligious for any god or gods.

What Rockstar is saying is that, whether you're talking FSM or YHWH, you're talking about an entity which has not been proven to exist--a hypothetical entity. What Occam's Razor states is that when presented with two explanations, you should choose the one with the fewest hypothetical entities.

So, his point is valid: either we have a universe where matter (which is known to exist) has always existed, or we have a universe where matter was created at some point, and God (who is not known to exist) has always existed. Science demands that we take the explanation with the fewest hypothetical entities, or as Sagan said, we "remove one step" and take the materialistic view.



Bronze Dog, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 11:20 [Link] »
There are other possibilities. It seems though that even this circle of time theory that you mention, still had to have a point of origin. Something that created the circle in the first place.

Nonsense. I fail to see the logic behind that, since the circle is its own origin by definition. If it wasn't, it wouldn't be a circle.

It seems like a bigger leap to say that matter always was. How can I not use some common sense? I don't know much about physics, but I'm not aware of anything that explains where matter came frome or if it always was.

Thus far, everything we've experienced tells us that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed, hence it's apparently impossible for it to come from somewhere.

However, I do think it is very reasonable for someone who is not a relgious freak or fearful of being worm food, to believe that God exists.

So far, I haven't seen good reason.

Huh? Flying spaghettit? Don't make shit up? Are you being silly?

Don't mock the Pastafarians.

I don't know which is worse for a reasonable discussion on the matter, radical relgious freaks or radical Carlin atheists.

What's radical about making logical inferences from evidence?



Sid, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 11:43 [Link] »

"Thus far, everything we've experienced tells us that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed, hence it's apparently impossible for it to come from somewhere."

How is it limitless though? If energy has existed forever, why hasn't it run out yet? A car runs out of gas and that energy is lost forever. A star burns out. Is this any different?

I don't know what the hell a Pastafarian is. But if they dish it out, they should be prepared to take it also!



Bronze Dog, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 11:58 [Link] »
How is it limitless though? If energy has existed forever, why hasn't it run out yet? A car runs out of gas and that energy is lost forever. A star burns out. Is this any different?

That's where you're wrong.

The car's energy is converted into heat and kinetic energy. Downside is that entropy tends to convert that energy into forms we can't easily use, but that's a bit of a tangent. Same thing with stars and so forth: The energy and matter still exist. They've just changed forms.

The problem with your perception is that you see time as an infinite line. Like space, time is self-contained and finite. Keep going in one direction, and you'll wind up back where you started.

I don't know what the hell a Pastafarian is. But if they dish it out, they should be prepared to take it also!

It's called irony. Pastafarianism and the Flying Spaghetti Monster were made to be parodies of Intelligent Design and aside from the absurd imagery, they're the same, and thus deserve the same level of respect (none), but we pretend to revere the FSM in an effort to show IDers their double-standards.



Rockstar, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 12:05 [Link] »

Hey dipshit -

It seems like a bigger leap to say that matter always was.

Do you remember when you said this? If not, here's a link for morons.

You said it, I answered it. First I said nicely that I don't understand why it's harder to believe that matter has always been than the fact there is a magical man in the sky that made everything.. Now that I know you're an asshole, I won't be so nice.

Why the fuck do we need to make up a magical god? Why do people believe

GOD ==> UNIVERSE

when it is far more reasonable to apply Occam's Razor and believe

UNIVERSE

Again, you said it.

I don't know which is worse for a reasonable discussion on the matter, radical relgious freaks or radical Carlin atheists.

No, pseudo-intellectuals that ignore points and go straight to being a douchebag are the ones that are detrimental to a good discussion



Sid, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 12:26 [Link] »

But what happens to all this energy that is scattered all over the universe in a disorganized form? Is it your belief that somehow it reorganizes itself, then explodes again?

"Like space, time is self-contained and finite. Keep going in one direction, and you'll wind up back where you started."

I don't understand this. Is this a principle of physics or Pastafarianism?

Whether you believe intelligent design or not,
using a flying spaghetti monster to illustrate absurdity is not fair. It's kind of sophomoric and Carlinesque. I thought you guys were supposed to be scientists? He compares the belief in God, to the belief in Santa, Tooth Fairy, etc. I just think it trivializes a very complex issue. But hey, whatever works for you!

I don't believe in intelligent design, hook, line, and sinker. However, some of the points are at the very least, intriguing. Enough anyway that I'm not going to make fun of them, just like I don't make fun of atheists.

By the way, what are the double standards of ID's?



Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 12:28 [Link] »

My apologies to Tom Foss — I'm not sure why the spam filter keeps nailing you. This is just one more reason to install a good white list, when we have some time.

To all others, please scroll up a little ways to read Tom's comment — it addresses every one of Sid's points thoroughly and correctly.



Tom Foss, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 12:44 [Link] »

Bronze Dog:

The problem with your perception is that you see time as an infinite line. Like space, time is self-contained and finite. Keep going in one direction, and you'll wind up back where you started.

Well, according to some, it is. There's no generally accepted model of cyclical time, to my knowledge. The most we can say with certainty is that the Thermodynamic Arrow of Time and our perceptual arrow both point in one direction.

But what happens to all this energy that is scattered all over the universe in a disorganized form? Is it your belief that somehow it reorganizes itself, then explodes again?
My posts finally made it out of the filter, so I recommend going back over them, because I address this somewhat. If the force of gravity between objects in the universe is greater than the accelerating force that is causing the universe's expansion, then the belief is that the universe will eventually collapse back in on itself, which would lead ultimately to a singularity like the one that existed pre-Bang.

However, it looks increasingly like this is not the case, that the universe will continue to expand, and that eventually it will die a heat death where maximum entropy is reached.

Whether you believe intelligent design or not, using a flying spaghetti monster to illustrate absurdity is not fair. It's kind of sophomoric and Carlinesque. I thought you guys were supposed to be scientists? He compares the belief in God, to the belief in Santa, Tooth Fairy, etc. I just think it trivializes a very complex issue. But hey, whatever works for you!
To atheists and other non-Christians, the figures are essentially the same: they are all fictional, and no evidence exists for any of them. The issue to non-Christians is not nearly so complex as you make it out to be. It's really not that complex for Christians either; they deny hundreds of gods as fictional. Like Stephen Roberts said, I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.
I don't believe in intelligent design, hook, line, and sinker. However, some of the points are at the very least, intriguing. Enough anyway that I'm not going to make fun of them, just like I don't make fun of atheists.

By the way, what are the double standards of ID's?


The problems with Intelligent Design are myriad. Most specifically, they have already formed a conclusion, and look for evidence to support it. This is not only not how science works, but this method would allow you to prove absolutely anything. Furthermore, ID makes no testable predictions, no testable hypotheses, and bases its entire claim to existence on a false dilemma and criticisms of evolution.

The "double standard" is that ID proponents want evolution to be able to explain every intermediate step of species development, from abiogenesis to the present, in detail, or otherwise they claim that there are "holes" in the theory and that it cannot stand. Meanwhile, any requests that they do something as basic as explaining who the designer is, by what mechanism the designer designed the various species, or how we can objectively determine whether or not something has been designed, are met with excuses and vitriol. They ask evolution for an absolutely complete picture, but provide nothing of their own, yet demand that the two be treated as equal "theories."



Tom Foss, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 12:46 [Link] »
My apologies to Tom Foss I'm not sure why the spam filter keeps nailing you. This is just one more reason to install a good white list, when we have some time.
Hey, no biggie. I just figured it nailed long-winded posts, and I know how long-winded I can be.


Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 12:51 [Link] »

*sigh*

I don't understand this. Is this a principle of physics or Pastafarianism?

Forget Pastafarianism. It was meant to showcase why a belief in any supernatural entity is just as silly as believing in a Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Whether you believe intelligent design or not, using a flying spaghetti monster to illustrate absurdity is not fair. It's kind of sophomoric and Carlinesque. I thought you guys were supposed to be scientists? He compares the belief in God, to the belief in Santa, Tooth Fairy, etc. I just think it trivializes a very complex issue.

Not fair? Why? Carlin is exactly right. From a scientific point of view, God equals Zeus equals Santa equals the Tooth Fairy. They are all the same — which is to say they are all fictional characters — and they all have equal amounts of evidence supporting their existence — which is to say, none. The difference is emotional, not scientific — a point you are now illustrating quite well, Sid, with you emotional appeal to not be so harsh to God. This special pedestal that is demanded for silly religious beliefs is crap, and around here, we call it crap.

So why is the belief in God any different from the belief in Santa? Because we let go of our belief in Santa as children. With God, many people hang on to that belief throughout their lives. The emotional investment can be huge, and it's natural to argue against anyone who messes with that attachment. But logically, scientifically, you must see that there is no difference. So when you say that it isn't fair to compare God to Santa, we would counter that it isn't "fair" (or, more accurately, it isn't rational) to single out God from that group of fictional characters for no good reason.

I don't believe in intelligent design, hook, line, and sinker. However, some of the points are at the very least, intriguing. Enough anyway that I'm not going to make fun of them, just like I don't make fun of atheists.

By the way, what are the double standards of ID's?

You don't believe in it "hook, line, and sinker"? Sid, if you believe in any part of Intelligent Design, then we have precious little respect for you at all. We don't waste our time with creationists here — they are beyond help, and simply not worth dealing with in our experience. People who say that they believe in ID are either lying, or they are terribly misinformed and uneducated. We'd hate to think that you fall into one of those categories. And as far as detailing the problems with ID, go check into it yourself. The TalkOrigins site does a bang up job of explaining all of the problems with ID. Once you've done that, if you still have questions, feel free to ask them here.

Our advice, Sid, is to set aside your emotional attachments to your religious beliefs, and truly try to look at these issues as a scientist would. If you do that, we think you'll see that we are correct. Of course, if you're one of the unwashed masses who buys into some flavor of creationism, then we'd bet that you are incapable of that particular leap. We shall see.



Bronze Dog, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 12:57 [Link] »
But what happens to all this energy that is scattered all over the universe in a disorganized form? Is it your belief that somehow it reorganizes itself, then explodes again?

One hypothesis that's been entertained: The universe decays into a bunch of fundamental particles. After illions of googals of years, the laws of probabilities catch up and make all the particles jump into the same place at the same time.

"Like space, time is self-contained and finite. Keep going in one direction, and you'll wind up back where you started."

I don't understand this. Is this a principle of physics or Pastafarianism?

Physics.

Whether you believe intelligent design or not, using a flying spaghetti monster to illustrate absurdity is not fair. It's kind of sophomoric and Carlinesque.

What's not fair about it? It strikes me as a perfect analogy. If the ID crowd can't make themselves any different from the Pastafarians, I don't see why they deserve any more respect.

He [George Carlin?] compares the belief in God, to the belief in Santa, Tooth Fairy, etc. I just think it trivializes a very complex issue. But hey, whatever works for you!

I fail to see the problem, and I fail to see the complexity of the issue. I think it actually is trivial, and I probably wouldn't care if they weren't pushing for it in schools before they got in science journals.

By the way, what are the double standards of ID's?

Here's a few:

They demand absurd levels of evidence for evolution (like a fossil for every single mutation, etcetera), and yet feel no need to do any actual evidence gathering for ID.

They claim that evolution is unfalsifiable (it isn't) and never make any criteria for falsification of Intelligent Design.

They want ID in science class despite being unable to make it scientific.



Sid, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 13:27 [Link] »

"The issue to non-Christians is not nearly so complex as you make it out to be. It's really not that complex for Christians either; they deny hundreds of gods as fictional."

If it's not that complex, then why is there is so much to discuss? Also, I never mentioned the Christian God. But it doesn't make sense to me that because there have been so many Gods, that there isn't one at all. It just seems that different cultures use different ways to describe essentially the same thing whether they believe in one God or a hundred.

I do understand your points about matter, time, etc. In a nutshell, the scientist's view is often that if there is no proof, they won't believe it. Unfortunately, with regard to this subject, all we have is evidence for it and against it.

"The problems with Intelligent Design are myriad. Most specifically, they have already formed a conclusion, and look for evidence to support it."

Atheists are the same way. They don't have any proof that there isn't a God, but that's what they believe. Also, from what I've read about ID's, is that they are simply trying to make a case. If they claim that they have proof, then they are not being honest. They try and offer some explanation for what evolution does not explain.

An atheist makes a case for no God, but has no proof either. In my opinion though, the evidence for a God is greater. But again, neither deserves to be mocked.

"Meanwhile, any requests that they do something as basic as explaining who the designer is, by what mechanism the designer designed the various species, or how we can objectively determine whether or not something has been designed, are met with excuses and vitriol"

Not to be insulting, but are you kidding me? Humor me for a minute. Let's say that there is God and he invented the first cell with DNA and all the other components. Considering this is one of the most complex things known to man, how would our little minds be able to explain how God made it? At the very least, it should not be basic knowledge of an IDer! They're simply presenting a case, just as an atheist does.



Rockstar Ryan, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 13:28 [Link] »

Sorry for the double post :( Rockstar is doing laps

//apologies  
///apologies  

As the others have said in their own words, how else does one respond to religion but with ridicule? Yes, it's your belief, and you have every right to hold it. Just like I have every right to make fun of people who believe in bearded sky gods. Give me evidence and I won't respond with ridicule. Until then, arguments from ignorance will get you nowhere.

And how do you make fun of an atheist? Have any good jokes/names I can tell/call my friends.

Ps - thanks for not being a douche anymore :)



Bronze Dog, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 14:03 [Link] »
Atheists are the same way. They don't have any proof that there isn't a God, but that's what they believe.

Shifting burden of proof and misunderstanding: We aren't trying to prove a negative. We just see continuous failures to prove the positive.

They try and offer some explanation for what evolution does not explain.

"God did it" or "A wizard did it" is not an explanation.

An atheist makes a case for no God, but has no proof either. In my opinion though, the evidence for a God is greater. But again, neither deserves to be mocked.

Again, misunderstanding the stances of the people involved.

Perhaps you'd like to present the evidence for God: I haven't seen any.

Let's say that there is God and he invented the first cell with DNA and all the other components. Considering this is one of the most complex things known to man, how would our little minds be able to explain how God made it? At the very least, it should not be basic knowledge of an IDer! They're simply presenting a case, just as an atheist does.

That's unfalsifiable, and pessimistic. If we absolutely can't understand God's toolbox, there's nothing separating it from "a wizard did it" (for no apparent reason). I'm not about to draw a line in the sand and claim that anything on the other side is beyond human comprehension.



Rockstar Ryan, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 15:15 [Link] »

See, this is a totally ignorant view of atheism:

An atheist makes a case for no God, but has no proof either.

That's right up there with "atheism is a faith".

Let me advise why this is bullshit:

I don't "make a case for no god/gods"; I simply have no evidence to support the existence of one. Since there is no evidence, I choose to believe there is no god/gods, though I'd happily stand to be corrected.

Let's say that you and I are standing in a room Sid, and I pointed to the corner and said "look at that kitty cat!"

But you saw no cat. Would you choose to believe there is no cat in the corner?



Tom Foss, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 15:34 [Link] »
If it's not that complex, then why is there is so much to discuss? Also, I never mentioned the Christian God.
No, but when you use a capitalized singular "God," it's generally pretty clear what religion you're talking about. The point stands for any monotheistic religion.
But it doesn't make sense to me that because there have been so many Gods, that there isn't one at all. It just seems that different cultures use different ways to describe essentially the same thing whether they believe in one God or a hundred.
Tell that to any devout member of any world religion, and chances are every one will tell you that their god(s) are the only god(s) and everyone else's is made up. It's true that most cultures worship some deity or pantheon, but it doesn't necessarily follow that such entities exist. Many cultures also believe that women are meant to be subjugated under men, or that they are inferior; just because many people believe it doesn't make it correct (this is called the appeal to popularity).

Take, for instance, the Greek pantheon and the Norse pantheon. Each of these gods represents some quality of the natural world (Thor & Zeus: storms, Helios: the sun; Hades & Hela: death) or of human experience (Aphrodite & Frigga: love and sex; Ares & Balder: war), and each of them expresses many human qualities such as emotion and physical form. As humanity progressed, we began to fill in the gaps in our understanding of the universe. The regularity and predictability of the motions of the sun suggest that it probably isn't pulled by a chariot. The way storms show up only under certain conditions suggests that capricious gods are not tossing lightning or being drawn by goats across the heavens. The elemental gods were devised by mankind to give explanation to gaps in his knowledge; as those gaps were filled, the gods became less necessary.

But some gods survived this enlightenment, though few bear resemblance to the elemental gods of the ancients. We are left with abstract deities like Yahweh and Allah, who do not represent specific concepts, and who are not necessarily threatened by increasing knowledge (except when & where they are applied as gap-gods). Have we as a species separated the wheat from the chaff in terms of deities? Or have we simply clung to the gods who aren't destroyed by basic science?

The fact is that all societies do have similar laws and rules, and many attribute those to a lawgiver. Does it necessarily follow that such a being exists? Or is it more likely that these are the basic rules necessary for society to exist, which humans have attributed to divine command in order to ensure their survival? There are naturalistic models for the development of society, of laws, and even of religion, which do not invoke hypothetical entities; which is objectively more likely?

I do understand your points about matter, time, etc. In a nutshell, the scientist's view is often that if there is no proof, they won't believe it. Unfortunately, with regard to this subject, all we have is evidence for it and against it.
Actually, the scientists' view is that until there is positive evidence, any idea is a hypothesis or less. No such positive, objective, direct evidence exists for the existence of any deity. The only things that can be claimed as evidence are the popularity of such beings, and ancient books which discuss them, both of which are at best hearsay, and at worst, fiction, but in neither case are they acceptable as scientific proof.
Atheists are the same way. They don't have any proof that there isn't a God, but that's what they believe.
Yes, some atheists take the stance of certainty that there is no god(s). Most, however, would say that they lack belief in god(s), which is a different kettle of fish. You don't need evidence to lack belief in something; such an idea is absurd. I lack belief in unicorns and leprechauns, based on a lack of evidence of their existence. I could state that there are no unicorns, which would take a measure of faith that horned horses will not be discovered, but it's not exactly the same as making a positive statement (i.e., "there are unicorns") without supporting positive evidence (i.e., proof of unicorns' existence).


Also, from what I've read about ID's, is that they are simply trying to make a case. If they claim that they have proof, then they are not being honest. They try and offer some explanation for what evolution does not explain.

You are correct, they are dishonest. While they try to offer an alternative to evolution, they fail in two regards: first, that their model does not explain the facts as well (they cannot make any claims about the designer or the method of design), and second, they have no supporting evidence (while evolution has supportive evidence from nearly every branch of science).

An atheist makes a case for no God, but has no proof either. In my opinion though, the evidence for a God is greater. But again, neither deserves to be mocked.
The problem is that you cannot prove a negative. What this statement does is called "shifting the burden of proof." It is not up to atheists to show proof that God does not exist; atheists are not making positive claims about his existence. It is up to the theists to prove that a god exists. The burden of proof is on the party making the positive claim, the claim which requires proof. For one to consider that god exists, there must be evidence of existence. For one to claim that god does not exist, one only requires the absence of such evidence.

What evidence do you have for the existence of god? If you find it great enough to show his existence, then I think we would all benefit from seeing it.

Not to be insulting, but are you kidding me? Humor me for a minute. Let's say that there is God and he invented the first cell with DNA and all the other components. Considering this is one of the most complex things known to man, how would our little minds be able to explain how God made it? At the very least, it should not be basic knowledge of an IDer! They're simply presenting a case, just as an atheist does.
The problem is that this is not a scientific answer. You might as well say "magic did it." If you wish to claim that a deity zapped the first cell into life, go right ahead. But until you have some evidence for said deity, or for said event, it is not a scientific claim. They are presenting this case as if it is science, and it is not. Science does not come to conclusions without evidence to support them. If the IDists had found evidence of the designer, or evidence of design (something they cannot define), and then had inferred a designer, we would have something of a different story. The fact is, their explanation is essentially "look at Genesis," and that simply isn't scientific.

I am being a bit unfair, actually. There are several different sects of Intelligent Design advocates. The Raelians support ID, but believe that the planet was seeded by superintelligent alien life forms. Others in the ID movement also promote this, and other alternative, explanations (for instance, that all animals evolved but humans were specially designed). So, back to the hypocrisy of ID proponents, perhaps instead of asking scientists for a step-by-step description of evolution with accompanying fossils, they could determine amongst themselves whether the Designer was a deity or an alien, and by what means this planet was seeded with life.



Sid , 2007.01.30 (Tue) 15:54 [Link] »


"Shifting burden of proof and misunderstanding"

Isn't that what you did with your next statement?

"Perhaps you'd like to present the evidence for God: I haven't seen any"

What evidence would convince you?

"That's unfalsifiable, and pessimistic"

No it's not. You're taking my words out of context.
I said that an IDer shouldn't have to explain how God created the universe to lend credibility to his argument. The Ider just says, "this is really damn complex and smart, and it looks like it was designed rather than random." The Ider has no proof though. The IDer is just making a case.
Believe if you want to or not.



Tina, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 16:12 [Link] »

This rant reminds me of two of my favorite jokes.

1) The New Orleans version. Man needs rescue and prays to God. Helicopter arrives and he waves it off saying "God will save me." Boat goes by and he waves it off saying "God will save me." Time goes on and he's getting in very deep trouble. He prays to God and says "Lord, why haven't you saved me?" He then hears a thunderous voice saying "Well dumb***! I sent you a helicopter AND a boat!"

2) Atheist mountainclimber slips and falls off a cliff. Hangs on for dear life by his finger tips, shouting for help. No one hears him. When finally he can't hold on any more he desperately turns to prayer. "Oh please God save me." He then hears a voice saying "Let go, my son, and everything will be alright." The mountainclimber pauses and says "Is there anyone else up there?"

lol.



Rockstar Ryan, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 16:14 [Link] »
I could state that there are no unicorns, which would take a measure of faith that horned horses will not be discovered, but it's not exactly the same as making a positive statement (i.e., "there are unicorns") without supporting positive evidence (i.e., proof of unicorns' existence).

I would add a caveat - I think it's ok to say positively that there are no unicorns due to the infinitescimal (sp?) chance they exist.

What evidence would convince you?

First define God. What observable effects does it produce? Then propose a test.

I said that an IDer shouldn't have to explain how God created the universe to lend credibility to his argument.

Why should we allow Creationism this out when every other known science defines or is defined by it's mechanisms?



Bronze Dog, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 16:39 [Link] »
I said that an IDer shouldn't have to explain how God created the universe to lend credibility to his argument.

Well, then they should work on a way to lend credibility to their arguments. So far, all I've seen is bad math, false dilemmas, and other deceptive games.

Explaining a mechanism, though, would do a hell of a lot, since without a way of predicting design, they can just keep moving the starting line and/or goal posts.

The Ider just says, "this is really damn complex and smart, and it looks like it was designed rather than random." The Ider has no proof though. The IDer is just making a case.

1. Contradiction. If he's not providing proof, he's not making a case. He's stating an uninformed opinion.

2. Randomness isn't the only alternative to ID: Evolution is the most reliable answer we have, for instance.



Sid, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 16:50 [Link] »

Why do athiests throw out terms like Leprechaun,
Santa, Unicorn, etc.? It's a favorite of Carlin I know. Did he start it? Is this sort of popular jargon?

I fail to see the relaltionship, but will admit it is effective in making the belief in a God or Creator seem silly, which it is not. No one believes in Unicorns, with good reason. Billions believe in God for reasons that are not all silly. They may not be provable reasons, but they are not all silly reasons.

"First define God. What observable effects does it produce? Then propose a test."

Let's just define God, for the sake of argument, as the one all powerful God who created everything.
Forget Christianity, Muslin, etc.

Can you suggest an observable effect, that we could test? I just want to see what it would take to convince an atheist so that I know what I'm up against!

"Why should we allow Creationism this out when every other known science defines or is defined by it's mechanisms?"

Look, all they are saying is that it's incredibily complex and that it doesn't look random. It looks like it was designed. They don't say that it was God for sure who designed it, so why should they have to explain how God did it if they are not even sure that he did?



Jeff from the Two Percent Company, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 17:04 [Link] »

Sid, really, take a breath, and please follow my colleague's advice above: go read through TalkOrigins — really learn about this stuff before you continue this conversation. Your insistent claim that creationists say "it doesn't look random" falls on very, very discerning ears, because all the folks around here are well aware of the fact that evolution is not random. Seriously, you can't continue to make statements like that and not have us suspect that you're a fundamentalist with an agenda. (I'm not yet saying you are, just that you are more and more frenetically and desperately coming across as one.)

As for the "billions" who believe in God...come on, you're not seriously offering that as "support" for your hypothesis, are you? Not only should you re-read Tom Foss' comments above (regarding the argument from popularity), you should also stop to think about what "billions" of people believed a hundred years ago, or five hundred, or a thousand...that nobody believes today. Belief is vogue, for a time, and falls out of fashion for political, sociocultural, and — yes — scientific reasons. Evidence remains evidence...and lack of evidence remains unconvincing.



Sid , 2007.01.30 (Tue) 17:07 [Link] »

Bronze Dog

"1) Contradiction. If he's not providing proof, he's not making a case. He's stating an uninformed opinion."

This is a totally false statement. Lawyers build a case based on evidence that is not necessarily provable and often a matter of opinion. Juries have to make decisions sometimes on limited facts and opinions.

"2. Randomness isn't the only alternative to ID: Evolution is the most reliable answer we have, for instance."

Never said it was.

"So far, all I've seen is bad math, false dilemmas, and other deceptive games."

Give me one example of any of these. How about bad math?




Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 17:09 [Link] »
I fail to see the relaltionship, but will admit it is effective in making the belief in a God or Creator seem silly, which it is not.

And this is the point we have been trying to make since you started commenting here, Sid. Belief in God (or god, or gods) absolutely is every bit as silly as a belief in unicorns. They are both magical creatures that have no supporting evidence for their existence. It would be lovely, one could posit, if both unicorns and gods existed, but there's no rational reason to believe that they do.

You need to stop placing religion on a special pedestal above all the rest of the faith-based beliefs just because more people believe in god than in unicorns. Reality isn't a popularity contest, and it isn't defined by what people believe.

In addition, what are the non-silly reasons that you see for believing in God? Certainly there are no rational reasons for such a belief, and as such, we tend to look upon all of the reasons as silly. What exactly constitutes a rational reason to believe in God? We honestly can't think of anything.

Unless you can set aside your preconceived notions surrounding the special place that you think religious beliefs occupy, I'm afraid that this discussion is at an impasse.

And stop referring to evolution as random. It isn't. Go to TalkOrigins and find out why.



dikkii, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 17:18 [Link] »

Sid wrote:

This is a totally false statement. Lawyers build a case based on evidence that is not necessarily provable and often a matter of opinion. Juries have to make decisions sometimes on limited facts and opinions.

You're confusing a court of law with the scientific method as a way of knowing. A court of law is a totally different way of knowing.

Courts generally accept circumstantial evidence which scientists will totally not accept.

I'd personally like to see lawyers and juries out of courtrooms and replaced with scientists.



Rockstar Ryan, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 17:27 [Link] »

Sid:

Are you kidding?

Can you suggest an observable effect, that we could test?

If we are testing the hypothesis of an all powerful omnipotent magical supernatural being, here's a few suggestions:

It could turn me purple.

It could make a meteor land on my car.

It could send me to Venus and back.

It could make me a shark for a day.

It could make me invincible (I'd prefer this one).

It could make it rain money.

It could turn my boss into a baboon's ass.

And so on and so on. It's your claim - you have to propose what your god does and under what conditions. I personally do not believe there is a god/gods, so it would be hard for me to test it.

And please tell me some good ways to make fun of atheists - do you call us "Darwinists"?

Actually, with your hard on hatred for Carlin, are we "Carlinists"?



Sid, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 17:37 [Link] »

Jeff, I'm about ready to rap it up. I promise though, I am not a fundamentalist, nor do I have an agenda, except to talk this through, for pleasure more than anything, with good thinkers. I am not under the illusion that I'm going to convince any atheist to believe in God. Nor do I really want to.
I sort of like having the two sides to futher my own understanding.

I don't think that just because billions believe something, that it's true. I'm not that naive. I was just saying that I don't think that the believers reasons are so silly as to warrant the popular Leprechaun analogy. That's all.

I'm not even debunking evolution. Evolution has clearly occurred through random selection. From what I've read,IDers have many more things to say, that are really much broader than evolution.
Anyone who says that evolution has not occurred at all, is well, nutty.

OK, I'm going to take a break. Thanks for the chat!



Jeff from the Two Percent Company, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 17:38 [Link] »

Ooh! And I want a pony!

Of course, even when you pray to God, sometimes the answer is "No" — right, Sid?

Don't you find that "out" a little, well, convenient?



Jeff from the Two Percent Company, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 17:47 [Link] »

Grr. Damn blog posting things all out of order...my last was a response to Rockstar's comment, not yours, Sid.

If you're taking a break for now, that's fine — if you feel like coming back to talk, please take us up on our suggestions to do some reading on these subjects first (not just at TalkOrigins, but the Skeptics' Dictionary and the many other sites we link to from ours).

Again, you may or may not be what (I think) many folks here suspected, but if not, try to be a little more careful with your arguments. Many of these are, in a way, "buzzwords" that we've all heard many, many times before — and we often get bored by or annoyed with them. They just don't hold up under scrutiny, and when you recognize why that is, you'll probably begin to understand us skeptics a bit better, too.



dikkii, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 17:48 [Link] »

Jeff wrote:

Of course, even when you pray to God, sometimes the answer is "No" right, Sid?

I once showed that, according to most Christian dogma, prayer cannot possibly work.

This possibly offers God another "out".



Jeff from the Two Percent Company, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 17:55 [Link] »

I remember reading that one! Excellent post, dikkii. I found it incredibly...funky.



Sid , 2007.01.30 (Tue) 18:01 [Link] »

Turn your boss into a baboon's ass?
I like that one. I think it's safe to say that you will be set in your beliefs for awhile. Good to know.

Best wishes



Tom Foss, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 18:17 [Link] »
Why do athiests throw out terms like Leprechaun, Santa, Unicorn, etc.? It's a favorite of Carlin I know. Did he start it? Is this sort of popular jargon? I fail to see the relaltionship, but will admit it is effective in making the belief in a God or Creator seem silly, which it is not. No one believes in Unicorns, with good reason. Billions believe in God for reasons that are not all silly. They may not be provable reasons, but they are not all silly reasons.
Actually, there are still people who believe in leprechauns. And belief in unicorns was fairly common just a few centuries ago. Many still believe in fairies, gnomes, and other things which are generally considered to be false. None of them would consider these beliefs to be silly. And what about children and Santa Claus? To a child, belief in Santa is anything but silly. Someone has to be leaving those presents. There are songs and stories and TV specials, and above all, those unimpeachable bastions of truth, Mom and Dad, personally vouch for his existence. Heck, some kids even swear they've heard sleigh bells and reindeer footsteps on the roof on Christmas Eve. Millions of kids believe in Santa Claus, and the evidence is overwhelming. What is the alternative explanation?

No one considers their beliefs to be silly, and at any time, everyone has some reason for holding those beliefs. But what are your reasons for believing in god? Because others believe? Because various books proclaim god's existence? Because people have believed in god for a long time? Because subjective personal experience has led you to that belief? I daresay that it's not because of overwhelming physical or objective evidence or solid proof. In that regard, belief in God and belief in Santa are equally silly. The only evidence for either is subjective personal experience and appeal to popularity and personal incredulity.

You believe in god, and that belief has a lot of emotional value wrapped up in it, emotional value which you do not feel toward leprechauns or unicorns or Santa. However, just because you privilege your own beliefs (something we all do, to some degree or another) doesn't mean that there is any objective standard for that privilege. So, to an atheist, or any other non-monotheist, God is just as easy to dismiss as leprechauns and unicorns. Let me reiterate the Stephen Roberts quotation that has been said a couple of times in this thread:

I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer God than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible Gods, you will then understand why I dismiss yours.

We all dismiss certain beliefs, certain gods, as silly. Atheists simply dismiss all of them.

Look, all they are saying is that it's incredibily complex and that it doesn't look random. It looks like it was designed. They don't say that it was God for sure who designed it, so why should they have to explain how God did it if they are not even sure that he did?
The problem is that there are no objective standards for determining what is 'random' and what is designed. Furthermore, the only "randomness" involved in evolution is random mutation, and even that is governed by the laws of chemistry and physics. The process of natural selection is decidedly nonrandom. Sometimes apparently nonrandom things come out of natural processes like the laws of physics; take for instance a snowflake. Each one is orderly, patterned, and looks for all the world to be "designed." Yet you'd be hard-pressed to find an ID-proponent who claims that the designer hand-carves every snowflake. This is because the patterns of snowflakes are very easily explained in terms of physical and chemical laws and fractal mathematics.

So, when an ID proponent claims that something looks too complex to not be designed, they're making a subjective claim which has no validity in science, particularly in light of the snowflake.

I'll try to address more of this later tonight. Although Sid has proposed some pretty standard canards and fallacies, he seems to have a genuine desire to debate and learn, and that's more than I can say for some on his side of this. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who was spouting the same "atheists have faith that there is no god" and "all this matter must have come from someplace" stuff in my younger and more naive years.



Tom Foss, 2007.01.30 (Tue) 18:48 [Link] »
Give me one example of any of these. How about bad math?
I mentioned a false dilemma above. IDists suggest that there are only two alternatives: evolution or ID, and if one is false, the other is necessarily true. This is not the case. First, deficiencies in evolution are not enough to prove ID; to prove ID you would need some sort of positive evidence of design or a designer. Second, even if evolution as we know it were to be replaced by a new theory, chances are it would be some other form of evolution (punctuated equilibrium, for instance), not a total overhaul to unproven ID. When theories are revised in science, it's rare that they look startlingly different from the theories they are replacing. After all, theories are developed from observations of the natural world, so they always have some validity. Even the geocentric model of the universe was able (eventually) to predict accurately the motions of the planets and stars from the perspective of the Earth.

As far as bad math, there are a number of ID and Creationist canards about the probability of evolution occurring. One of the more popular ones is the comparison of "random" evolution to a hurricane passing through a junkyard and leaving behind a fully-constructed airplane. The problem with these models is the same as the problem I outlined in my above post: that the processes which govern evolution are not random, and therefore cannot be described by a probabilistic equation which accounts only for random chance. Once you include things like a limited number of chemical bonds and the nonrandom pressures of natural selection, the odds start looking a hell of a lot better.

I like that one. I think it's safe to say that you will be set in your beliefs for awhile. Good to know.
And that's one of the many problems with ID. It makes no testable predictions, and offers no testable hypotheses. It's all well and good to say "this creature was designed by a designer," but what does that mean? How do you measure it? A proper ID hypothesis would make a claim such as "The features which indicate that something was designed are X, Y, and Z. All things that were designed have these traits." Or even "the designer is X, and has A, B, and C traits." Those are testable claims (to a degree, anyway). "The designer is supernatural and invisible, does not behave in a predictable fashion, and cannot be detected by any instrument" is not a testable claim, and it recalls Carl Sagan's dragon analogy.
"A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage" Suppose (I'm following a group therapy approach by the psychologist Richard Franklin) I seriously make such an assertion to you. Surely you'd want to check it out, see for yourself. There have been innumerable stories of dragons over the centuries, but no real evidence. What an opportunity! "Show me," you say. I lead you to my garage. You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle--but no dragon. "Where's the dragon?" you ask. "Oh, she's right here," I reply, waving vaguely. "I neglected to mention that she's an invisible dragon." You propose spreading flour on the floor of the garage to capture the dragon's footprints. "Good idea," I say, "but this dragon floats in the air." Then you'll use an infrared sensor to detect the invisible fire. "Good idea, but the invisible fire is also heatless." You'll spray-paint the dragon and make her visible. "Good idea, but she's an incorporeal dragon and the paint won't stick." And so on. I counter every physical test you propose with a special explanation of why it won't work. Now, what's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire and no dragon at all? If there's no way to disprove my contention, no conceivable experiment that would count against it, what does it mean to say that my dragon exists? Your inability to invalidate my hypothesis is not at all the same thing as proving it true. Claims that cannot be tested, assertions immune to disproof are veridically worthless, whatever value they may have in inspiring us or in exciting our sense of wonder. What I'm asking you to do comes down to believing, in the absence of evidence, on my say-so. --Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science As A Candle In the Dark
What is the difference, in the end, between claiming that there is an undetectable, unknowable designer, and that there is no designer at all?


Jason Spicer, 2007.01.31 (Wed) 00:10 [Link] »

I think Dikkii paints with too broad a brush in saying that the criminal justice system is a totally different way of knowing from the scientific method. I assert that there is only one (reliable) way of knowing--science. Which is to say, reasoning from the evidence. The legal system uses the same methods as science, by and large, but constrained by time and resources available, as well as by rules designed to protect the interests of those involved from unfair prejudices. To the extent that a criminal proceeding is fair, it is conducted along scientific lines. Scientists merely have the luxury of getting things double- and triple-checked before publishing.

Neither is it correct to say that science eschews circumstantial evidence. The shape of a fossil tooth can tell us whether the animal was a carnivore or herbivore, without anyone ever having witnessed it at mealtime. I suppose competing definitions of "circumstantial" may be in play here, but I think scientists try to account for every scrap of evidence they can, if they are being honest.

And as for Sid's assertion that IDers are just "making their case", that is, in fact, precisely what they are NOT doing. Making a case involves, again, reasoning from evidence. IDers appear to be doing nothing more than stating an opinion that they find the explanation of evolution to be unsatisfactory. Since they have no evidence to support their opinion, they can't be stating their case. They don't even seem to be able to state their premises coherently.

After all, if life were intelligently designed, it would be a damn sight less lumpy. I could maybe buy the notion that life was stupidly designed, but intelligently? Tell that to my dearly departed appendix and wisdom teeth.



dikkii, 2007.01.31 (Wed) 01:29 [Link] »
I think Dikkii paints with too broad a brush in saying that the criminal justice system is a totally different way of knowing from the scientific method.

Ok, maybe not totally different. And maybe there is some subjectivity about how "circumstantial" some evidence is.

For example, I wouldn't have normally described your tooth example as being particularly circumstantial. I would, however, suggest an example that had a tooth fossil - shape unspecified - found near fossilised trees from the same period as pretty circumstantial if building a case that the tooth was from a herbivore.

Usually, well-reasoned scientific evidence will win a case in court, but at the same time, courts routinely accept such odd stuff as appeals to emotion, ad hominems, poisoning the well, ignoratio elenchi, hell, even the race card (whoa - too cynical?) etc.

This stuff is particularly relevant in the civil justice system as well - not just the criminal one.



TimmyAnn, 2007.01.31 (Wed) 02:43 [Link] »

When Penn & Teller did their Bullshit episode about religion, they specifically said (I'm paraphrasing here) "If you believe in God because of faith, then there is nothing we can say to you to change that". Faith can't be disputed by science. Faith is your perogative, but if you come to a site like this and try to make a case for the existence of this fictional being, you had better come with actual evidence. Faith doesn't cut it in a debate. If it did, all you'd have to say is, "God created the universe. I KNOW this" and we'd all say, "Oh, okay, then, sorry we questioned it." When I took a logic course, the teacher gave us an example of "begging the question". It was: How do you know God exists? Because it says so in the Bible. How do you know you can believe the Bible? Because it's the word of God. But how do you now God exists? Because it says so in the Bible. But how do you know you can believe the Bible? Because.......and so on and so on........



Bronze Dog, 2007.01.31 (Wed) 07:40 [Link] »

Another example of bad math IDers are fond of: Lying about Information Theory. Just like Behe's Irreducible Complexity argument relies on the absurd assumption that evolution can't subtract, Faux Information Theory works on the absurd assumption that evolution can't add. Of course, in real information theory, a random source inherently adds information (not always useful info, but natural selection decides that).

Also, when confronted about their abuses with Information Theory, they like to flip-flop between Shannon and K-C information definitions so that they can avoid actually showing their work.



Rockstar Ryan, 2007.01.31 (Wed) 09:59 [Link] »

Turn your boss into a baboons ass. I like that one. I think it's safe to say that you will be set in your beliefs for awhile. Good to know.

Grrr...you say that like I'm some stubborn old man. You asked what it would take for me to believe your god/gods, I answered nonsense because you didn't tell me what your god/gods can do!

You believe in a magical man that lives in the sky. Why? Tell me. I've been waiting for a logical reason to believe in fairies, but all I've found are logical reasons why magic does not exist.

So, to prove god/gods you must first tell me (be specific):

What does your god do?

See, I will only believe in things proven scientifically - no appeals to other ways of knowing unless you have evidence they work. So, again, to propose a test you must tell me what your god does, under what conditions and with what rate of success.



Bronze Dog, 2007.01.31 (Wed) 10:10 [Link] »

Ryan's point, even shorter: We can't tell you what kind of evidence would convince us of flarschnikit's existence if you don't tell us what flarschnikit is and what it's capable of.



TimmyAnn, 2007.01.31 (Wed) 16:01 [Link] »

Isn't a flarschnikit what you buy when you want to build your own flarschni?



Jeff from the Two Percent Company, 2007.01.31 (Wed) 16:05 [Link] »

Ba-dum tsss!

(Despite the sarcastic rimshot, I actually appreciated that joke. I'm not sure if that says more about TimmyAnn's comedy or my own sense of "humor.")



Tom Foss, 2007.01.31 (Wed) 16:12 [Link] »
Isn't a flarschnikit what you buy when you want to build your own flarschni?
I think I ordered one of those from IKEA once. I had a bitch of a time putting it together.


PoolGuy, 2007.01.31 (Wed) 19:09 [Link] »

If you think that's bad, try to find a left-handed flarschnikit. Talk about a chore!!!



TimmyAnn, 2007.02.01 (Thu) 03:31 [Link] »

Where did everybody go? *sigh*



Tom from the Two Percent Company, 2007.02.01 (Thu) 09:43 [Link] »

Don't worry, TimmyAnn. Pretty soon we should be past the hump with our real life commitments, and there might even be new Rants to talk about. Thanks to the intelligent readers (you know who you are) for sticking with us — we can see the light at the end of the tunnel from where we're standing. And it doesn't look like an oncoming train.




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