Monicks: Unleashed

Thinking Critically

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The burden of proof – Tweet of the day

Well, you, my Twitter friend, must know all too well the way our theist friends are continuously asking of us to prove god’s non-existence, so my response to one of those requests got retweeted like forever:

Like always, this is the original Twitter link.

Someone pointed me to Ricky Gervais’ response to this claim:

❝It annoys me that the burden of proof is on us. It should be: “You came up with the idea. Why do you believe it?” I could tell you I’ve got superpowers, but you can’t go up to people saying “Prove I can’t fly.” They’d go: “What do you mean ‘Prove you can’t fly’? Prove you can!”❞

Ricky is right, but I would go a little bit further, and if someone told me “prove I can’t fly”, I would go and push them off a cliff. Err.. no, no, I wouldn’t. Of course it is a totally hypothetical situation – I wouldn’t push anyone off a cliff. I promise! Geez!

The thing is I totally could prove that someone cannot fly, see? That’s the point. I could prove it! Well, not to him, though. But I’m sure you get the idea.

So Ricky’s is a nice, clever response, but in my opinion, doesn’t really meet the god’s non-existence kind of proof standard.

Have you come up with a better answer for this request? Tell us down here in the comments. I’m dying to hear your responses.

122 Responses to The burden of proof – Tweet of the day

  1. Hi, Monica. I’m not a native English speaker, so please forgive any typos and/or bad grammar.
    For me, the topic of burden of proof is also relevant when it concerns supposed miracles. People don’t seem to understand that a miracle, by definition, is something that violates the laws of nature, and NOT something that is just highly implausible. Allow me to explain: it would seem to me that, for some event (whatever that may be) to happen, however improbable, it simply needs to be possible under the laws of nature. So, if it does eventually occur, there is no need to attribute it to a miracle, unless the person who does so is prepared to meet the burden of proof and come up with evidence that demonstrates that this particular event was impossible under the laws of nature.
    One example, from real life: a plane crashes in the middle of the ocean, and only a single baby survives. People (and the press) immediately claim that this is a miracle. But, while I agree that the event is highly improbable, it is certainly not impossible. So, we would be entitled to challenge these explanations with a simple: “Prove to me that this event is impossible under the laws of nature. Then, and only then, will I even consider any sort of miraculous alternative”.
    I hope I’ve made myself clear. Bye!

  2. Monicks says:

    I am in complete agreement with you on the miracles bias, my friend. 

    Of course the example you bring up is not a miracle. I wonder what the families of all the other people who did die in that plane crash, think about the “miracle” of that baby survivor, and if they, too, thanked god for the miracle.

    Your English is flawless. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Should also point out that miracles negate God’s omnipotence and omnipresence. If JHVH wanted to stop a bullet that would kill and important figure 10 years from now, surely he could use causality to avoid that person being in harm’s way, rather than needing a ‘miracle’ to save that person medically after the fact.

  4. Fox says:

    Ah, but maybe I just didn’t *feel* like flying when you knocked me off the cliff. Maybe I only fly in private because I don’t want scientists to pick me apart like ET!
    On its face, it seems like it would be easy to prove someone can’t fly, but it has all the same problems as proving any negative, especially when you start adding caveats like the ones people tend to stick on to any god. I like Carl Sagan’s “Dragon in my Garage” idea best for demonstrating this idea, but I think Ricky Gervais got the point across much more concisely. ;)
    My personal response usually involves listing other deities and mythical creatures, pretty much just what you did. Sometimes, though, you have to tread carefully – most people are happy enough to dismiss Zeus, but you’d be surprised how many people are actually undecided on the issue of Bigfoot’s existence. >.>

  5. NDJS says:

    What’s this? informative, insightful comments? when did i leave the internet behind?

  6. Here’s a piece from my own blog about faith.
    Let’s All Have Faith

    If something cannot be proven, there is likely to be a reason for it.   If something cannot be seen, it can still be proven.  Gravity cannot be seen by any of our current technology.  But its effects can be seen and measured.  Just try dropping an iron weight on your toe.  Or do you think that was a spiritual effect by god to punish you for being stupid enough to drop it on your toe?

    Gravity can be measured, its actions observed and even predicted.  I knew that weight was going to hurt your toe.  You probably did too, so you decided not to drop it on your foot.

    “But you must have Faith!”  OK, I am willing to test that.  Are you?

    I invite you to the roof of my building.  It’s not too high, between 25 and 30 meters (80 to 90 feet).  I hand you a large belt and tell you to put it on.  As you are buckling it, I explain that it is an anti-gravity belt I have built.  I add that it repels gravitational force, just as ordinary magnets repel each other. 

    Like magnets, the closer it is to the earth, the more powerfully it works.  So, when you first step off the roof, you’ll fall fairly fast.  But as you near the concrete parking lot below, you’ll slow down until you stop a short distance above the ground.  Way more fun than bungee jumping, right?

    Now go on, step off the roof.  What? You want to know how it works?  The entire secret was revealed to me by a space alien in a series of visions.  He also told me that drinking too much alcohol was bad for me.  I know that to be true, so this has to be true, too.  It’s too complicated for you to understand anyway. You need me to interpret its action for you and for you to have faith.   

    Yes, I’ve already tried it, now it’s your turn.  Off you go now.  Take a leap of faith.

  7. Pete says:

    My response is always to call the notion of god petitio principii in the first place.  Why are we even asking if god does / doesn’t exist?  On what basis is this entitiy up for discussion at all?  No empirical evidence for its existence and conveniently all of the communication between god and humanity took place in the bronze age and before, when there were no reliable recording techniques.  Before going for whether such a thing does or doesn’t exist, I’d ask why there is a second choice being inctroduced at all?  Why a god?  Why not the idea that our universe and its complexity is actually just the imagination of one sleeping giant?  Why not a gelatinous deep sea creature which vomits cellular life forms into the ether?  Why not introduce every other deity into the mix as they are all equally intangible, equally believed in some niche of space and time on earth and all equally down to faith.  When the does god exist or not?  question comes up, really what’s being said is “why should I defer to knowledge over faith?”  it’s a rhetorical question almost, which is designed to end, rather than prolong a discussion and any response will likely be ignored.

  8. Jonathan Nielsen says:

    About proving whether something does not exist… Sagan’s teapot, anyone?
    To prove that somebody cannot fly, I don’t think it suffices to push somebody off a cliff once and notice that he does not fly. What if he had a death wish? What if he simply did not have the energy to fly properly that day?
    My point is, it all depends on your method of measurement. One could, perhaps, push said person off a cliff a thousand times and note that he, to some degree of certainty, “does not fly when pushed off a cliff”. One must then proceed to prove that he would definitely have flown if he could, which, again, can only be done to some degree of certainty. Thus we can only ever prove that he cannot fly to a certainty limited by the methods of measurement. On the other hand, if we were to prove that he could fly, we would only need one, single, succesful flight!
    In case of god(s), mankind has conducted quite a lot of tests, and has, as yet, only seen results which do not indicate the presence of divine beings (we have only seen non-fliers on the purely hypothetical cliff).
    From this point of view, it seems downright stupid to suggest that we should try to prove the non-existance of divine beings, when it is clearly impossible unless to within a certain margin of error, instead of simply demanding unrefutable proof of existance. The second is, in my opinion, the better choice if we are to further mankind’s understanding. One can perhaps strain the burden of proof further, and demand that the divine being was not only present at this specific point in space-time, but will be there whenever and wherever you look. Which is where most science stops, says “what’s the point? on to more interesting matters”.

    Now, to gravity and antigravitational belts. If I jumped off a cliff, I would have quite strong “faith” that I would hit the bottom and be smashed to bits. Thus “faith” would be based on measurements done by scientists, and ultimately based on logic. The antigravitational belt, is entirely a different matter. If somebody told me that a space alien had told me how this works, and that I should simply take his word for granted, I would not take the jump. I would ask him to jump before me, perhaps ten or twenty times, ask a friend (a bad friend) to do the same, give me some proper data, so that my “faith” would not be based on an undocumented postulate.
     
     

  9. Well put.  But would you really take my word for it that a space alien gave me the plans in a dream or simply smile and nod politely while thinking, “What a nut-case!”  Heh Heh
     

  10. SketchSepahi says:

    My favourite response to this demand, is to first diffuse it by saying I don’t have to prove God’s non-existence but then secondly say “However, now that you mention it, I CAN in fact prove your God doesn’t exist inasmuch as you grant me certain attributes to your God that I can work with…”

    If they say God is omniscient, you can disprove that. (Incompleteness, nature of indexical knowledge etc.)
    If they say God is omnipotent, you can disprove that. (Although many theists will happily retreat to a non-disprovable kind of omnipotence)
    If they say they believe in the God of the Bible and believe God to be good, you can disprove that.
    If they believe God’s existence to be necessary, you can disprove that. (God not existing is possible. Prove me wrong)
    If they believe God is all-good, all-knowing, AND all-powerful, you can disprove that. (Problem of suffering)
    etc. etc.

    I would go out on a limb and say that any god described in sufficient detail is easily disprovable and any god hidden behind obscurantist vagueness is not worth believing in let alone disproving.

  11. anti_supernaturalist says:

    “God” of the Big-3 Monster-Theisms does not exist

    Here’s a typical, short-sighted claim that “the” concept of “God” can not be rationally eliminated:

    “Christianity is a house of cards, and the table on which this house is built is the concept of God. This table appears pretty stable – no challenger can rationally make a positive claim that God does not exist.”

    First a Zen response: the table is no table.

    Second, a logically based rationalist’s response: there’s no need to agree with theists or deists or agnostics that some god’s non-existence can not be established. It all depends.

    Can the negation of an existential claim be proved? Sure. Yaweh, God, and Allah simply do not exist because they can not exist.

    • whose “concept of God” are we talking about?

    There is no unique one. That is, the “the” must be dropped. “The concept of God” does not exist.

    Point 1: there are many concepts of god/gods/spirits/divine forces.

    Which brings us to

    Point 2:  It’s up to your local god boosters to specify just what concept of god they’re playing with.

    Some concepts are simply internally inconsistent. For example is ‘the concept of god X’ just like the concept of the round-square? “The” round-square does not exist because its (supposed) concept is logically incoherent.

    Point 3: The “God” of middle eastern monotheisms can not (logically) exist.

    • the “God” of the big-3 monster-theisms is an alleged all-powerful do-gooder

    Yes, “He” (not she, not it) is the panto-divinity: all powerful, all knowing, all merciful. This conjunction of attributes is easy to undermine.

    Epicurus did so 300 years BCE –  that is, three hundred years before the alleged Jesus was born! He demonstrated that the three supposedly defining characteristics of an all-powerful, perfectly informed, do-gooder (theos) are mutually inconsistent. Just google ‘problem of evil’.

    Is god willing to help but unable? Then he is not all powerful.
    Is he able to help but unwilling? Then he is not good.
    Is he able and willing? Then why is there evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him ‘god’?

    Which shows that you can indeed prove that “God” does not exist — as long as God is super-sized to the point of omni-impossibility.

    Xians have spent 2,000 years trying to create a workaround for evil — they’ve failed. Xianity has not propped up its failed (he-man) pantocrator. There’s even a name for this branch of theological special pleading, theodicy. Just google ‘theodicy’.

    Too bad the xian man-god didn’t get a decent education in philosophy. He would not have talked so naively about himself in the so-called “gospels.” God the father obviously wasn’t willing to have himself born in Athens. That was unintelligent design!
    the anti_supernaturalist

  12. Jenna says:

    You will never convince any person of faith that their chosen religion is incorrect. It is impossible, and in my opinion, wrong. If they make the realization, it is on their own, usually after a devastating life event that makes them question their faith. Just because we do not believe does not mean that we can push our ideologies on them. When I am asked why I do not believe, I don’t get into an argument. I don’t even justify the question with a response. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone, and I don’t expect them to prove to me why they believe. Personally, I could care less if people want to believe in something larger than themselves, for whatever their reasons are. Comfort, purpose, family tradition, whatever. I only ask that while I will do nothing to ridicule them of their beliefs, they extend to me (and other non-believers) the same courtesy. Also, that they do not use their faith as an excuse for inexcusable acts. Anything from the Westboro Baptist Church and their infinite ignorance, to the individuals who use religion as an excuse to kill and torture. This constant war of faith is nonsense. Why can’t people just live and let live? Why does it matter which particular deity you believe in, if any at all? How does someones faith (when not being used for inexcusable acts) effect you? It doesn’t. Live and let live.

  13. Jenna, what you say is true and logical.  The problem is, you are dealing with people that have rejected truth and abandoned logic.
     
    I agree with you that, if they would simply live and let live, there would be no problem.  Unfortunately, theists have never considered adopting that philosophy.  Enacting their beliefs into laws for everyone and brainwashing your children while imposing social, professional, and financial pressures upon all to conform to their ideas has been the consistent approach of every religion for thousands of years.  Why should we expect them to willingly change now?
     
    I don’t expect to “deconvert ” anyone.  You cannot reason a person away from a position that they reached without reasoning.  All I want is freedom from religion and not to have to have it inflicted upon me or my children.  I will do whatever I can to bring this about.

  14. Jenna says:

    Oh no, I understand where you’re coming from. I know that the Christian majority wants to shove their beliefs down our throats in every aspect of society, I am not ignorant to that fact, and that falls under the category of using religion for the wrong reasons. If my future children are intrigued by religion, I will not hide it from them. I don’t want them to feel like religion is wrong, it’s not. It’s just a lifestyle choice. There is nothing wrong with believing. It is what people do under the disguise of religious right that is wrong. Individuals who hide behind religious text to do unspeakable acts of hate and violence, and to control the masses, are the absolute most disgusting creatures inhabiting this planet. I will be completely upfront with my hypothetical children about how I believe, and what other people of faith believe. I will even gladly take them to whichever church they wish to worship at, as long as it is their choice and theirs alone. I do not want to tell them how to live their lives, it is their life, not mine. That would be selfish and hypocritical. I guess what I was trying to say is how I feel society should be. Call me a hippie, but it’s just how I believe and if others took that to heart, oh what a world this could be =)

  15. Dave says:

    All you prove by pushing them off the cliff is that they didn’t fly, at that time.  Not that they couldn’t, or even that they wouldn’t given a different set of circumstances.  And you also prove the concept of natural selection, as anyone dumb enough to get pushed off a cliff to prove they can’t fly need not be given the opportunity to procreate

  16. Tim says:

    Except you didn’t disprove anything by throwing them off a cliff:
    “Ricky is right, but I would go a little bit further, and if someone told me “prove I can’t fly”, I would go and push them off a cliff. Err.. no, no, I wouldn’t. Of course it is a totally hypothetical situation – I wouldn’t push anyone off a cliff. I promise! Geez!
    The thing is I totally could prove that someone cannot fly, see? That’s the point. I could prove it! Well, not to him, though. But I’m sure you get the idea.
    So Ricky’s is a nice, clever response, but in my opinion, doesn’t really meet the god’s non-existence kind of proof standard.”
    You’ve proven that they chose not to fly. For all you know, they could fly, but instead decided to fall to their death.

  17. You see to me this question is not only a worthless proposition, but the people asking it will always use the fallacy of their position as a victory when we refuse to disprove a negative. “Prove to me that (whatever) doesn’t exist.” to which we could answer “But you have faith, that is all YOU need to claim (whatever’s) existence. Why do you want me to disprove something you hold so dearly as (whatever). If I do successfully disprove the existence of (whatever), would you hear it anyhow?”

    It’s disingenuous to ask this question when they do not want an answer, and it’s fallacious to claim victory when no answer is given.

  18. “Why do you want me to disprove something you hold so dearly as (whatever). If I do successfully disprove the existence of (whatever), would you hear it anyhow?”
     
    Outstanding point.  Very well put!  I hope I can remember this when the time comes.  :)

  19. Keith Pinster says:

    Cool.  Someone else that uses the word “xian.”  I refuse to give the “faith” even as much respect as it requires to spell the whole name out.  Usually people either don’t get it, or they don’t respond, but once in a while I get a xian who “calls me on it.”  That is when the fun REALLY begins.  lol

  20. Keith Pinster says:

    My response to this question tends to be along the lines of this: First, yahweh can’t exist because it has mutually exclusive attributes (as has been mentioned above).  Second, there is no evidence, above speculation, that it exists.  Since the only evidence that the xian god exists at all comes from the bible, and since it can easily be proven that the bible is completely nonsensical, that eliminates even the sketchiest of circumstantial evidence.  The bible is so filled with contradictions, inconsistencies, logistic fallacies, and flat out lies, it can’t possibly be taken seriously.
    Let’s take, for example, the great flood.  This needs to be broken down into 2 completely separate sections:
    First, the ark itself.  In a 450 yard long, 50 yard wide, 3 story (each 10 feet tall) boat (which, by the way, we know for a fact that people didn’t even know how to build a boat of wood that big that would actually float), we have Noah housing millions of animals (2 of each species).  Even if we take into the stupidity of “micro-evolution”, it would still require thousands of animals.  Plus, at least 2 years worth of food for each and every animal (without refrigeration), even without considering what saltwater does to the ground as far as crops go  (anybody ever heard the term “salting the earth”?)  That would be several tons of food.  The ark couldn’t have even contained enough food for that many animals, let alone the animals themselves.  With the oceans covering the world, it would have destroyed crops for years, if not generations.  And there was, what, 4 or 5 people to care for all those animals for 6 months (before the water receded)?  Also, how did all the animals get to the ark?  The bible says that Noah went out and gathered them, it doesn’t say anything about god getting them there. So, how did all the animals migrate over oceans to get to where the ark was?  How how did all the animals get back to where they were supposed to be?
    Second, let’s look at the flood itself.  It would have required 3 times more water than what is currently on the earth.  Where did it come from?  And where did it go?  Also, that much water would have distorted the earth’s crust to the point where we would still be witnessing the effects today.  In order for rains to cover the earth in 40 days, it would have had to rain 5.5″ PER MINUTE.  A wooden ark could not have withstood that sort of punishment.  Plus, the amount of energy released would have raised the temperature of the earth to about 1800 degrees.  Lead melts at about 700 degrees, I believe.  No animal on earth could have survived those sort of temperatures.  Even all the fish would have died.  And the ark would have been vaporized.  But it would have been impossible anyway, because the water wouldn’t have existed in those temperatures.  Now consider the pressure under that much water.  The water that is now in our oceans wouldn’t have even been water.  It would have been compressed into some sort of viscous fluid that life could not have survived in.
    In the end, the story is obviously fallacious and fantastical because, if there were a god, why use all that power to create the water, protect the boat, protect all the land, protect the earth’s crust, basically manage every single little detail, when, if he really had that much power, he could have just remove the humans from the earth. Why slaughter all the innocent animals?  Or, better yet, why not just show himself and command the people on earth to “do good” instead of what they were doing to “displease” him?  I mean, it sounds like some totally crappy, incompetent managers that I’ve had the displeasure of working for.
    Another question I have is, “where did all the other religions come from?”  If yahweh is the “one true god” and the earth is only 6000 years old, and several generations of people where literally having direct conversations with him, why would people have gone off and knowingly created false religions?  just to hurt yahweh’s feels?  It’s obvious that people actually, really believed those other religions, but if the abrahamic delusion was actually based in reality, you would think that every known religion would be abrahamic in origin.  But out of the thousands of religions, there are only 3.
    And that’s just one story.  Just about ever story in the bible is just as fallacious.  I think the evidence is overwhelming, to the point of absolute proof, that xianity, and in fact all abrahamic religions, are completely delusional superstition.  And without the bible, the religiots have nothing to base their superstitious belief in a sky fairy on.

  21. I great post.  Of course the xians will have some weasel-word response to every point you make no matter how factual.  But it all comes down to one thing, “god did it, so anything is possible”.  No matter that it is illogical or contradictory “god did it” settles all questions for those that are told doubt and questions are sins anyway.
     
    One thing you may have noticed on here.  When you are entering text, the Return key appears to put a blank line between paragraphs.  When your entry is posted, there is no blank line.  So to properly format paragraphs, we have to press return twice.  Then it appears to produce a double-sized gap, but it is OK when the posting appears.  This is a minor flaw in the software here.  Maybe worth correcting when some other change is being made?

  22. Keith Pinster says:

    Ya, I noticed the spacing issue.  I kept having to back up between paragraphs because I would automatically hit the enter key twice, and then when it posted, I noticed the distinct lack of that space between paragraphs.  Non-WYSIWYG blogs like this are SO annoying.  lol
     
    As to the “dog did it, that settles it” argument, yes that is true.  But I think a very important point to make is that we are not trying to convert the person we are debating.  If a xian is so bent on being right he can’t even acknowledge basic rational common sense as valid arguments, he is too far gone to have any logic penetrate his vale of delusion.  No, the point is always the “audience”.  People watch these debates.  If the person isn’t so deluded that they are not jumping in defending the xian, and even some that do but are tentative, then those are the people that we have the potential to drag into the light of knowledge and reason.  This is basically what happened to me.  I was raised (mildly, thank goodness) as a xian.  But the more I learned, the less sense it made until finally I escaped the event horizon of the black hole that is xianity.  And the more we show these people as the stupidstitious religiots that they are, the less people will support their delusion.

  23. You are right about not converting a genuine xian.  How can you reason a person away from a potion that has not been reached by reason, but by rejection of reason, facts, and truth?
     
    Like you, I was raised as a xian but my parents made a mistake.  They told me to “think for yourself” but I doubt they considered what would happen if I actually did that.  I realize now that what they meant was, “think what we tell you to think, but do it in your own words.”
     
    Then they compounded their error by insisting that I read the bible several times, cover-to-cover.  Oops, the contradictions, impossibilities, and obvious fallacies became obvious.  Game over, xians 0, rationalists, 100.

  24. Katarack says:

    Push me off a cliff. I fall.
     
    Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t fly because I can only fly when the moon is 3/4 full. Or because I can only fly when Haley’s Commet is within one half of it’s maximum distance from Mars. Or because I decided I didn’t want to prove it.
     
    You have to take it on faith before I can fly.

  25. Nickster says:

    I think the classic c’ian response to the whole pushed off a cliff thing would be when Satan tempted Jesus to jump off the temple wall (or something high) to prove he was loved by the angels or god or could fly or whatever, Jesus refused as it was “testing his faith”.
    besides if c’ians believe that it’s a matter of faith then a “proof” becomes irrelevant. Although even mathematic proofs have some element of faith ie. I believe in the imaginary number, the quality of inifinity and the holy ghost.
    To me some of the “proofs” in these posts seem to ignore the ideas of quantum physics and the “fact” that sometimes (until we know further) something can have both polar opposite qualities? ie. be a wave and a particle? (which in fact may mean it is neither of those).
    I’m not sure the c’ian/jewish/ God is “all knowing” – in Genesis it says that when he created ‘man’, and he told him he could name the animals – he stood back to see what he would do. Ie. he didn’t know what Adam would do and was surprised by what might happen. So you’d have to ask the c’ian what they meant by “all knowing” all powerful etc. I think they are just supposed to be attributes indicating greatness that is beyond human knowledge perhaps.
     
    yeah, it’s a rambling post – i’m probably w-a-a-y out of my depth but I like reading atheist or anti christian forums and websites as they keep my brain ticking over.

  26. Great post!  OK, I will accept that you can fly.  I’m sure you will also have no trouble believing my anti-gravity belt.  Because we agree, there’s no reason to expect proof or testing, right?  :)
     
    Hmm, now that I think of it, if we agree that Elvis is alive, there’s not reason to look for him or try to get a picture to prove it is there?  The mutual agreement negates all need for rational thought or verifiable evidence.  I think we’ve just discovered the basis of all religions!  :D

  27. Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM says:

    Jenna,
    My own awakening came from multiple challenges to my belief over several years.  Just because losing the faith takes a long time does not mean that a particular input has no part in the process, even when the person making the challenge can see no obvious change as the result.
    Think of the process like physical growth.  The changes are almost imperceptible, but we grow.

  28. Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM says:

    Quantum physics is more than a conjecture, it is measurable and potentially disprovable.
    God concepts are not measurable or potentially disprovable.

  29. Keith Pinster says:

    Actually, I think the xian god IS measurable.  After all, he has, according to their fairy tale book, interacted with humans in the past.  He has caused floods, locus swarms, turned people into pillars of salt, answered prayers, sent angels to interact with people face-to-face, and had other direct and measurable effects on people, believers and nonbelievers alike.  All those things can be measured and, if proven to not be natural in causation, would prove the existence of a supernatural being.  It may not prove “god” per se, but it would at least take the step to prove a that there is, in fact, supernatural forces that interact not only with man, but on certain mens’ behalf.
     
    To date, no evidence, whatsoever, has been produced of this phenomenon, except, of course, through anecdotal, nonsensical, delusional stories written down from stories passed around by superstitious, uneducated, illiterate, bronze-aged barbarians.  And, more currently, superstitious, delusional people who are desperate to feel superior to others by any means possible, including holding so tightly to a delusion that even the clearest reason cannot breach their shroud of ignorance.

  30. Keith Pinster says:

    Actually, if someone told me “I can fly” (this is assuming that it was a real debate and not just some nut job who really did have the delusion he could fly), a person could produce enough evidence to “prove” that he couldn’t.
     
    But first, let’s define some terms.  “Proof” does not guarantee an outcome.  “Proof” only indicates an outcome that is beyond a reasonable doubt. As we’ve all hear, science is never 100%.  If I drop an apple, will it fall?  Well, based on evidence, the answer would most likely be “yes”.  That is why illusions are so fascinating to most of us.  They “appear” to go against the outcome that should be beyond reasonable doubt.
     
    The second term that I think needs to be defined is “evidence”.  Evidence can be, in order of influence, empirical, logical deduction, circumstantial, or speculation.  The evidence that the person “believes” he can fly, without any other supporting evidence is speculative, which is the least trustworthy.  The evidence that he cannot is empirical (body density, etc), circumstantial (no one else has ever been able to do it), and logical deduction.  Weighing the evidence, I think provides “proof” that the person cannot fly.  However, because science is not static, and will always allow new data to be presented, if the person provided empirical evidence that was more influential than any of the evidence against the probability that he couldn’t fly, then he has “proven” that he can, indeed fly.
     
    Now, based on the model above, when a person says “prove that I can’t fly”, we should be able to lay out all the evidence and come to a conclusion.  The reasonable conclusions include “no, you can’t fly”, “yes, you can fly”, or “you can fly, but only under certain specific circumstances”.  I rational person would say “based on all the available evidence, the conclusion is that you can’t fly.  However, if you can provide evidence as to what circumstance that you can fly, I will consider it and revisit my acceptance of your assertion.”
     
    I think what this does is remove the “burden of proof” that Ricky Gervais says on us, but in a way so as to gracefully put it back on the delusional person’s shoulders.  Basically, all we are saying is “based on the evidence that I am aware of, I don’t believe you.  But if you can prove it, I will revisit my opinion.”

    Thoughts?

  31. Well put, Keith.  We must always allow for the possibility that there are as-yet unknown physical laws that would permit people to fly without the aid of balloons or aircraft.  As the not-so ancients of even a few hundred years ago were ignorant of the laws of aerodynamics, we might also be ignorant of other natural laws.  Those laws can be as much in effect now as aerodynamics was for the stone-age men.  Aerodynamic laws did not spring into place with the Wright brothers but have always existed.
     
    A good example might also be nuclear physics, circulation of the blood or any other scientific advance.  Nothing has changed, only our understanding of it.  That’s why science must adjust when new evidence becomes available.  Religion tends to dismiss or deny evidence that does not confirm that which they choose to believe.

  32. Joe says:

    If you’re going to steal someone’s pithy comment, at least give them credit for it.
     

  33. Keith Pinster says:

    Who are you talking to?  Wanna throw an actual reference in there someplace?

  34. Stephen Browne says:

    ./Like this little exchange. The ark information made me chuckle, why do these kinds of facts not get repeated more often. The animal one alone is enough to blow one’s mind. My parents always told me that the could fit because they were YOUNG animals. I’m still trying to fit 1 million young, uncared for animals (to be fair, you know, not including the water animals) into a space the size of 6 soccer fields.
     
    But you know what, if I had to wake up tomorrow and ask my parents this question, they would simply say that god made it possible.
     
    Also trying to visualize a square boat made with an axe bigger then most cruise liners.
     
    Anyways, I think most people are too scared to think. The possibility that they are truly, wonderfully alone is just too much for them to handle. Almost as if they stopped believing, the world would instantly dissolve into chaos. The saddest thing is that it already IS in chaos, they just can’t see it.

  35. Keith Pinster says:

    Not only will xians tell you they “must have been young” (because the story is so overwhelmingly stupid that they have to augment it and twist it at every turn), but they will tell you that it wasn’t a million animals.  He only had to take 1 of each “larger group”, I don’t know if they mean Genus, Family, Order or Class, because of the acceptance of what they call “micro-evolution”.  In other words, they didn’t need to fit each dog breed on the ark, just a single pair of wolves, since all dogs descended from wolves.  After all, they are all Canidae, right?  You see, the evidence for evolution is so overwhelming that they can’t deny it, so what they do is try to partition it so that it actually supports their delusion.
     
    You see, that way they get the best of both worlds.  They can claim acceptance of evolution, but only THEIR version of evolution, parse down the number of animals to a reasonable level, claim that either there were only that many different animals at the time, or that it doesn’t matter because god just “reproduced them” from the base family.  But they don’t have to embarrass themselves by admitting they were wrong about the “whole” of evolution and still use bits and pieces to support their own distorted version of reality.
     
    Of course, that whole thing gets blown out the window when you say, okay, so what we need to do is count the different species that lived before the flood that appeared in the fossil record right after the flood and then we’ll know how many different species of animals that needed to be on the ark, and, of course, they still don’t fit.  Plus that only addresses one of the, oh so many, problems with the story as a whole.  But, this is a specialty of xians.  You say “Here are 10 things wrong with your fairy tale” and they attack 1 or 2 with complete gibberish and claim a win.
     
    If you would like a truly mind-blowing experience in creationism IDiot double-talk and non-science gibberish, take a look at http://www.dogmadebate.com/2009/01/top-10-reasons-im-atheist.html?commentPage=1. I post under the name Dimondwoof and have a fairly lengthy conversation with Matt and Emilio.  You will have to excuse my aggression, for some reason these guys just rubbed me the wrong way from the beginning.  I’m usually much calmer, but I just couldn’t hold my tongue with these guys.
     
    Speaking of which, I would appreciate it if everyone looked over the comments and then left a comment of your own.  Feel free to chastise me if you find anything that I say incorrect, but I think it’s be great if several people showed up and mentioned how completely uneducated and invalid the two IDiots arguments were throughout the debate.  It’s actually fairly amusing.

  36. Max Axiom says:

    Two separate comments
    1. “I can prove that you can’t fly” Why, is there something wrong with my passport?
    2. My thought is that God is a plural for real beings who operate in various ways at various unpredictable times in our plane of existence. Just because the institution of the church is an absurd scam does not mean the universe is not vastly fantastically mysterious; monotheistic religion is a false extreme but perhaps there are entities beyond our understanding whom we interpreted as gods; hence it’s actually much more likely that Zeus and Ra are entities that live in outer space whom meddled in human development (and were deified thereafter), than it is likely that omnigod is listening in on your every thought, and judging you so that when you die you may be judged as worthy of hell after already having endured earth.
     

  37. gold striker says:

    Every document, apparently ancient, coming from the proper repository or custody, and bearing on its face no evident marks of forgery, the law presumes to be genuine, and devolves on the opposing party the burden of proving it to be otherwise.5
    —Dr. Simon Greenleaf of Harvard Law School

  38. Keith Pinster says:

    Are you talking about scripture?  Because (almost) no one disputes it’s age.  Everything else about it’s validity, but not it’s age.

  39. I think he means any document is presumed to be genuine until demonstrated to be otherwise.  Even though he is quoting someone from Harvard Law School, that doesn’t make it correct.  That is strictly the opinion of one man and legal precedents are not cited supporting that view.
     
    In the case of any document, it can be genuine, but that doesn’t make the contents true.   I can produce a “genuine” document stating I am the Archbishop of Brazil, but that doesn’t make the claim true.

  40. Devil's advocate says:

    While I agree it is obvious god doesn’t exist, I have to argue your point on Gervais’ comments.
     
    Pushing someone off a cliff would NOT prove they couldn’t fly. It proves they DIDN’T fly, but any number of reasons could be to blame for that (they can’t fly while falling/the need to take off from the ground/caught by surprise/etc). It is sort of like drowning someone doesn’t prove they aren’t a witch. It just proves they drowned. They could still have been a witch and now they are just a drown witch.
    Careful between the distinction of proving something is impossible and proving something didn’t happen. You’re example is like me saying “god doesn’t exist because he is supposed to answer prayers, and I prayed and he didn’t answer”. Maybe he didn’t feel like answering your prayer, doesn’t prove he isn’t real, just proves he didn’t answer your prayer.
     
    That said god isn’t real, it is common sense, and I like your twitter comment, very funny

  41. Keith Pinster says:

    I posted this as a response to a post above, but I thought I’d put it as a “root” post so it’s easier for people to catch if they are just scanning:
     
    If someone says “I can fly” (this is assuming that it was a real debate and not just some nut job who really did have the delusion he could fly), a person could actually produce enough evidence to “prove” beyond reasonable doubt that he couldn’t.

    But first, let’s define some terms.  “Proof” does not guarantee an outcome.  “Proof” only indicates an outcome that is beyond a reasonable doubt. As we’ve all hear, science is never 100%.  If I drop an apple, will it fall?  Well, based on evidence, the answer would most likely be “yes”.  That is why illusions are so fascinating to most of us.  They “appear” to go against the outcome that should be beyond reasonable doubt.

    The second term that I think needs to be defined is “evidence”.  Evidence can be, in order of influence, empirical, logical deduction, circumstantial, or speculation.  A person “believing” he can fly, without any other supporting evidence is speculative evidence, which is the least trustworthy.  However, the evidence that he cannot is empirical (body density, etc), circumstantial (no one else has ever been able to display this ability), logical deduction(since there is no reason for humans to have developed this ability, it is unlikely that any person would spontaneously develop it), and speculative (“I just don’t believe you”).  Weighing the evidence, I think provides “proof” that the person cannot fly.  However, because science is not static, and will always allow new data to be presented, if the person provided empirical evidence that was more influential than any of the evidence against the probability that he couldn’t fly, then he has “proven” that he can, indeed fly.

    Now, based on the model above, when a person says “prove that I can’t fly”, we should be able to lay out all the evidence and come to a conclusion.  The reasonable conclusions include “no, you can’t fly”, “yes, you can fly”, or “you can fly, but only under certain specific circumstances”.  I rational person would say “based on all the available evidence, and given no “special” circumstances are required, the conclusion is that you can’t fly.  However, if you can provide and explanation and  evidence as to what circumstance that you can fly, I will consider it and revisit my acceptance of your assertion.”

    I think what this does is remove the “burden of proof” that Ricky Gervais says on us, but in a way so as to gracefully put it back on the delusional person’s shoulders.  Basically, all we are saying is “based on the evidence that I am aware of, I don’t believe you.  But if you can prove it, I will revisit my opinion.” leaving us with as open of a mind as is reasonable, but forcing the person making an extraordinary claim to provide reasonable evidence.

  42. Keith Pinster says:

    Trying to get this to post as a “root” post one more time.

    If someone says “I can fly” (this is assuming that it was a real debate and not just some nut job who really did have the delusion he could fly), a person could actually produce enough evidence to “prove” beyond reasonable doubt that he couldn’t.
    But first, let’s define some terms.  “Proof” does not guarantee an outcome.  “Proof” only indicates an outcome that is beyond a reasonable doubt. As we’ve all hear, science is never 100%.  If I drop an apple, will it fall?  Well, based on evidence, the answer would most likely be “yes”.  That is why illusions are so fascinating to most of us.  They “appear” to go against the outcome that should be beyond reasonable doubt.
    The second term that I think needs to be defined is “evidence”.  Evidence can be, in order of influence, empirical, logical deduction, circumstantial, or speculation.  A person “believing” he can fly, without any other supporting evidence is speculative evidence, which is the least trustworthy.  However, the evidence that he cannot is empirical (body density, etc), circumstantial (no one else has ever been able to display this ability), logical deduction(since there is no reason for humans to have developed this ability, it is unlikely that any person would spontaneously develop it), and speculative (“I just don’t believe you”).  Weighing the evidence, I think provides “proof” that the person cannot fly.  However, because science is not static, and will always allow new data to be presented, if the person provided empirical evidence that was more influential than any of the evidence against the probability that he couldn’t fly, then he has “proven” that he can, indeed fly.
    Now, based on the model above, when a person says “prove that I can’t fly”, we should be able to lay out all the evidence and come to a conclusion.  The reasonable conclusions include “no, you can’t fly”, “yes, you can fly”, or “you can fly, but only under certain specific circumstances”.  I rational person would say “based on all the available evidence, and given no “special” circumstances are required, the conclusion is that you can’t fly.  However, if you can provide and explanation and  evidence as to what circumstance that you can fly, I will consider it and revisit my acceptance of your assertion.”
    I think what this does is remove the “burden of proof” that Ricky Gervais says on us, but in a way so as to gracefully put it back on the delusional person’s shoulders.  Basically, all we are saying is “based on the evidence that I am aware of, I don’t believe you.  But if you can prove it, I will revisit my opinion.” leaving us with as open of a mind as is reasonable, but forcing the person making an extraordinary claim to provide reasonable evidence.

  43. Monicks says:



    First off, I want to thank you all your your well thought-out responses, and the nice comments about that tweet. I still get a chuckle for it’s a funny comeback for the silliness of theists asking of atheists to prove a negative about a god that exists only in their minds.

    Those of you who are a little more familiar with the usual tone of my posts, know that I am, most of the time, trying to make you guys laugh. 

    Of course, I would never push anyone off a cliff, but if anyone is crazy enough to tell me “prove I can’t fly” I would probably go out of my way to explain to them why I think they can’t, like Keith Pinster just suggested; and would likely propose the test of pushing them off a cliff. After all, this person would not be any kind of deity, so I would be allowed to tempt him, right?

    But, like Marty pointed out, it is a futile endeavor. 

    Proof, as in scientific proof, of god’s non-existence, we probably won’t ever be able to attain. But proof that an ordinary human can’t fly, we totally can.

    Nobody has ever been able to do anything that contradicts the Laws of Physics, so why would I believe that an ordinary person could fly? … without wings – and a quick CT scan would determine that he has no internal wings, either (just in case). Even if he had wings, they could be dysfunctional wings.

    We could explore a huge amount of possibilities here, but the case would still be that the dude would not fly.

    Like I recently tweeted: If you think logic isn’t a good method for determining what to believe, make an attempt to convince me of that without using logic.

    I totally enjoy how your wonderful minds work, and *whispers: “let me go see where,”* I think I might need to say “I stand corrected” to someone here.

    Now, any other better comebacks for our theist friends? 

  44. Here is a piece I posted on my own blog (http://slrman.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/84/) that suggest that people might be able to fly, but we simply don’t know how.
     
    The Pharaohs Could Fly
    Much of what people have regarded as magic and “god” over the centuries have really been things they just didn’t understand so they attributed mystical significance to normal events.
    A great example of this is a piece I read by Richard Bach (Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Illusions) who wrote that the ancient Egyptians could fly.  Obviously, we know that they did not.  They left us so many records in the form of artwork and writings that we would know if they had.
    But, they had bamboo, papyrus, linen, and the thermals and steady winds of the Nile valley.  They could have built gliders capable of sailing hundreds of miles.  Unfortunately, they were ignorant of the laws of aerodynamics even though they were as much in effect then as now.  But they didn’t know, so they didn’t go.
    It’s possible that there are laws of physics that we don’t know about today that, if we did, we would be capable of feats as astounding to us (including flying without planes) as flying would have been to the Pharaohs, who would have assumed that was supernatural, but was only the application of physical laws effective for anyone.
    Even today, we see the same thing when people, observing anything they do not understand, assume it has a supernatural source.  “God cured me of cancer”  “The lord was with us.  It’s a miracle only 12 people were killed.  It could have been worse.”  “I don’t understand how evolution could possibly work, so it must have been god.”

  45. Keith Pinster says:

    Slightly off topic – Another outrageous attempt by the xians to grab a little more firmly onto our government: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=hc112-13
     
    “Reaffirming ‘In God We Trust’ as the official motto of the United States and supporting and encouraging the public display of the national motto in all public buildings, public schools, and other government institutions.”
     
    I know this shouldn’t go in this thread, but I wanted to make sure all my brothers and sisters know what’s going on in Washington.  Please, please, please, have everyone you know contact their senators and representatives and let them know that this bill needs to be stopped dead in its tracks.

  46. Devasish says:

    Just like MoonWalker and Darth Vader exists and all the characters in movies, novels etc so does Zeus and Ra and any concept of god. Concept???
    The real question is How, From Where and Why everything arises?

  47. Science, unlike religion, does not claim to know everything. Many things have yet to learned.  Just as aerodynamics were not understood until relatively recently.  Even though people had seen birds fly for thousands of years and made kites and model gliders for centuries, the why and how was not understood until the tools, physical and mathematical, were available together to learn.
     
    Perhaps someday, we will have the tools to discover more about the why and how of the universe, too.  You do ask good questions, though  :)
     

  48. Devasish says:

    Hey James,
     
    Thanks for the reply.
    We’re certainly closing in to the why and how of everything.

  49. Keith Pinster says:

    What I don’t understand is why it matters to people on a daily basis.  I’ve got much bigger things to worry about than how the universe started.  I certainly understand the need to figure it out on a scientific scale, but my day-to-day life won’t change once we figure out all the details.  The only reason I see that it would matter to anyone is as I mentioned before; to the religious, if we find out the natural details, it eliminates the “need” for magic, and therefore is another step at eroding their “faith”.
     
    I just had a LONG discussion with a fundy on another site and he wanted to narrow the conversation down to “if you believe in the Big Bang, you believe in ID and I can prove it…”  My response was, “okay, so what?  Even if you can ‘prove’ (I’m assuming through some sort of distorted “logical process”) that there was some sort ‘intelligence’ behind the creation of the universe, that doesn’t ‘prove’ or even lend any credence to any hypothesis about the beginning of life on this planet, that this ‘intelligence’ is YWHW, or that this ‘intelligence’ even survived the creation event at all.”  He got so frustrated he decided that he didn’t want to talk about it anymore.
     
    It really blows me away that people just have to INSIST that their delusion MUST be the only and correct version with no real tangible evidence at all.  I agree with Dawkins in that it is ridiculous that scientists have to waste their time trying to hold back the barrage of stupidstition instead of focusing 100% on reveling truths about reality.  This is one of the reasons that I engage these people myself.  I am not a scientist by any stretch of the imagination, but I feel like it’s my duty as a rationalist to take as much of the burden off real scientists’ shoulders as I can so they can focus on their work.

  50. Stutz says:

    In most everyday situations, dealing with people I like or have to get along with (friends, acquaintances, coworkers) I am with you as far as “live and let live”; it’s necessary for amicable social relations.  Generally, if the conversation steers towards the religious, I only escalate my own rhetoric to one or two levels below the other person’s, just to keep it friendly.  I part ways with you when you ask “Why does it matter which particular deity you believe in?” and “How does someone’s faith affect you?”  I think it matters a lot.  The things we believe about the universe, life, and the afterlife are at the core of who we are.  They are not peripheral character traits.  Someone’s faith affects how that person thinks and acts towards me and people I care about, and what they think about important intellectual, political, and social issues.  Admittedly, it affects how I see them, as well.  So someone’s faith might not always be important in the workplace or at a dinner party, but it can shape the overall depth and scope of their relationship with me.

    Further, I think it’s okay to strive to hold ourselves and others to a higher standard.  By which I mean, it is one of my personal moral values to resist lazy, illogical thought and to encourage disciplined, rational thought.  I think it is a moral virtue to take a stand for reason when it’s prudent to do so.  I don’t feel compelled to “live and let live” with nutty conspiracy theorists, for example.  Religious thought is more complex, but I don’t feel particularly compelled to let egregious breaches of reason pass in that arena either.

  51. Keith Pinster says:

    “I don’t want them to feel like religion is wrong, it’s not. It’s just a lifestyle choice. There is nothing wrong with believing.”  Actually, there is a LOT wrong with believing and with religion as a whole.  The problem comes when people stop thinking in a rational, logical manner and religion not only accepts and supports that, but demands that.  Religion, no matter what brand you are looking at, is a superstition.  Superstitions teach people to ignore logic and evidence in support of what they “feel”.  The fabric of truth is not based on feelings, it is based in cold, hard facts.  Look at all the people who completely ignore history in lieu of their “faith”.  How many times have we heard “America was founded on xian principles”?  What “principles” would those be?  Suppression of Women’s rights?  Slavery?  Burning people at the stake for being witches? People of “faith” want to suppress science because it exposes the “magic” of their fairy tales as the fraud that it is, and their delusion can’t take that.
     
    What religion does is cause people to pattern their minds to believe in something despite no evidence for, and indeed, in the case of almost every religion, mountains of evidence against.  People who “believe” in religion are deluded.  Religion is the very definition of delusion.  The problem is that, when a person trains themselves to believe something in spite of all of the evidence against it, there is no way to limit that to just their “spiritual beliefs”.  That mentality inevitably spills over into other aspects of their lives such as science and politics.  There is currently a bill up for debate in the House that will reconfirm America’s moto as “In god We Trust”.  This seems like a fairly inconsequential issue.  However, this is first a perfect example of the government completely ignoring the constitution, first amendment, and concept of seperation of church and state.  Second, not only does it completely discounting every single American that doesn’t believe in “god”, but throws religiosity in all of our faces.  Finally it is a complete waste of taxpayer’s money because it takes focus away from real issues that are actually important, like keeping the government running, dealing with a trillion-dollar deficit and getting American’s back to work.
     
    Another great example is my brother.  His “hero” is Captain America.  He loves this country, considers himself very patriotic.  He is also mormon and lives in California.  He claims that he has never tried to shove his religion down anyone else’s throat.  So, when prop 8 came up for a vote, how did he vote?  Did his patriotism and respect for freedom prevail?  Or did his “religious conscience” force him to vote to strip other people’s civil rights away, just because he doesn’t “approve” of someone’s “lifestyle”?  I’m betting you can guess which way that vote went.  And he STILL insists that he doesn’t try to shove his religion down other people’s throats.
     
    My point is, there are times when religiosity seems like a fairly subtly and inconsequential part of life, but it is one of the most destructive forces to society that there is.  It creates a disharmonious atmosphere everywhere it goes.  People, especially of any abrahamic faith, think they have the right to force their religion on everyone else.  They think they have the right to never be “offended”.  They think that they have the right to voice their nonsensical opinion from every street corner and force it on people through legislation, but when someone of an opposing opinion speaks up, the religious feel that they have the right to suppress those “non-believers”.
     
    If anyone can think of a more destructive force in our society today, please feel free to correct me, but as far as I am concerned, we should be working hard to eradicate religion in this country through education and rational conversation and get it back to it’s foundations of secular freedom for all.

  52. Keith, this is amazingly well put.  Thanks for sharing the part about your brother.  It illustrates how religious views are forced upon everyone even in something as simple as how people vote.  As I have said many times, “Mankind will never truly be free until the black yoke of religion is lifted by the clear light of truth and rational thinking.”

  53. bob flats says:

    prove to me that there is nothing out there, prove to me that this world started by two atoms that just hit together, o wait there must be someone out there because someone had to make those atoms, and yes i bet your thinking okay well where did God come from?? and thats just it no one knows where he came from but he is there, he has always been there, The belief in God is about the only thing that makes sense because everything in science is pretty much just a theory.

  54. Keith Pinster says:

    bob – what, exactly, do you think a “theory” is?

  55. Bob, your comment shows several things.  First, you have no idea what the difference between a theory and a hypothesis.  Next, you know absolutely nothing about science, the origin of the universe.
    “Prove to you that there is noting out there?”  That demonstrates that you have no concept of the rules of evidence.  You are the one making the claims.  You claim there is a god or “great designer”.  You are the one that must provide the proof.  If you cannot, or more likely will not even try, then that is admitting you don’t know what you are talking about.  No proof, no god.  Even a delusional theist should be able to understand that.  But I am sure you will have an evasion, denial, or distraction to escape having to answer a direct question.
     
    Finally, you believe that “belief in god is the only ting that makes sense?”  That shows that you are either too lazy or actually incapable of rational thought.  Expect continued contempt and derision from those than can think rationally.
     

  56. Keith Pinster says:

    Well, bob, it appears you don’t want to engage, so let me go ahead and address your post.  First, your education level obvious based on your ability to write a cohesive, grammatically correct sentence.  Ever heard of “punctuation”?
     
    Anyway, I’ll address each concept that you mentioned.
     
    “prove to me that there is nothing out there,” If you claim there is “something out there”, you are the one that is required to provide proof.  I can’t prove that Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny don’t exist, but, since there is just as much evidence for them as for your “creator being”, there is no reason to think that any “intelligence” created the universe.
     
    “prove to me that this world started by two atoms that just hit together” Well, since that is not how the world was created, I don’t really see a reason to defend such a wacky, nonsensical theory.
     
    “o wait there must be someone out there because someone had to make those atoms” Where did this quantum leap come from? Why *must* there have been “someone” to create any matter in the universe?
     
    “and yes i bet your thinking okay well where did God come from?? and thats just it no one knows where he came from but he is there, he has always been there” So, your evidence is that “no one knows”? And, yes, one question that comes out of this statement is “Where did dog come from?” Just claiming “he’s always been there” is certainly a convenient distraction, but you don’t “know” that any more than you know it exists in the first place. But the next question that this statement generates is: if dog was just “always there”, then why can’t the universe have always been there? Why do you need to imagine a “creator” for it to be there in the first place?
     
    “The belief in God is about the only thing that makes sense because everything in science is pretty much just a theory.” So, you’re saying that the belief in a fairy that magically created everything makes much more sense than anything science, since “everything in science is pretty much just a theory.” Let’s look a little closer at what you call a “theory”. This “science” that you despise so much and think is so useless has given us things like the computer that you are using to post your delusional superstitious nonsense. It has provided the house that you live in and the food that you enjoy eating. It has extended your life to double what you would have lived 200 years ago. It has provided your job, as well as the means for you to get to your job. It provides the restaurants where you eat, the stores that sell you food and the medicines that keep you healthy. It has taken man to the moon, given us information about things from the smallest bacteria, to every planet in our solar system. It gives us mathematics, algebra, trigonometry, geometry, and calculus. It has given us Fluid dynamics, numerical analysis, Probability theory, cryptography, and finance. It has given us biology, geology and geography. It has given us the ability to have knowledge at our fingertips from books to the internet. It gives us reliable history, anthropology, and archeology. It has allowed us to not only know about the other planets in our solar system, but to explore several of them. It allows us to feed 2 or 3 times the number of people that we could without it.
     
    So, just out of curiosity, what has your “theory” about religion ever provided?

  57. bob flats says:

    i have no problem engaging, and im not really worried about how well i can or cannot type and keith im sorry i was unclear earlier, i was saying how did the universe get started by two atoms, and i dont believe that they just pop out of no where, i believe that god made the universe and everything down to the dirt we walk on, and i know that i have to prove that god exist to you but i cant just like you cant prove there is absolutely no God but i have faith that what i believe is correct, how could this universe just pop out of something science has created, well i have idea, God created this universe you can forget about everything else you have said because i know in my heart there is a God just like you think in your heart there isnt

  58. Keith Pinster says:

    “im not really worried about how well i can or cannot type” Well, that’s an understatement.  As I said, it really goes to show your intelligence level.
     
    “and i dont believe that they just pop out of no where”  Why, yes, as a matter of fact, you do.  You admit that you think everything just popped into existence by magic.  That, by the way, is NOT what science tells us.
     
    “i know that i have to prove that god exist to you but i cant just like you cant prove there is absolutely no God”  Now, there, you are wrong.  I can give all sorts of evidence that there is no god.  Especially yours.  The xian religion is pretty much the easiest superstition to disprove to anyone who has the capacity for rational thought.
     
    “but i have faith that what i believe is correct” Yes, that is what “faith” is: believing in something that is completely nonsensical, despite the fact that there is no evidence for and tons of evidence against that belief.
     
    “how could this universe just pop out of something science has created” Science doesn’t “create” anything.  Science examines nature to determine the truth of our existence.  However, how can you believe that the universe just popped into existence by magic?
     
    “i have idea, God created this universe”  Yes, you have mentioned before that you believe in delusional, superstitious fairy tales.
     
    “you can forget about everything else you have said because i know in my heart there is a God”  And that is what you get for thinking with your feelings rather than examining actual real evidence.  This is how children examine reality: with feelings and fantasies.  That is the basis of a delusional superstition.
     
    “just like you think in your heart there isnt” Now there you’ve lost me.  I don’t “think in my heart” that there is no dog.  I “know in my head” based on the evidence.  Based on the fact that there is no more reason to believe that your dog is real any more than any of the other 2700-odd gods that other humans have imagined up.  Based on the fact that there are so many contradictions, inconsistencies, logical fallacies and flat out lies in the bible, it can’t possibly be taken any more seriously than “little red riding hood.”  So, anything it has to say on the matter, we can pretty much assume is just fantasy.
     
    I completely understand that there is nothing that I can say that will change your mind.  That’s because your mind is so closed, you will absolutely refuse to accept any evidence, no matter how clearly it is presented.  Let me tell you what would change my mind: Clear and concise evidence that something supernatural exists.  Pretty simple for a divine being, right?  Something that defies physics as we know them.  For example: a man walking on water.  A man flying.  A man that has been dead for several days and then comes back to life.  A man that can turn water into wine by will alone. A prayer that is answered without any possibility that it could have happened naturally. Maybe a talking burning bush.  HOWEVER, I will NOT accept anecdotal evidence and I will NOT accept fairy tales.  That means that there has to be ABSOLUTE proof and, since I can prove the bible is nothing but nonsensical fairy tales, everything in the bible is suspect and must be treated as false unless some outside evidence proves that it is not.

  59. Hellchylde says:

    I’ll agree that proving one could fly  in your words would be difficult. However.. its not.. If one did have the ability to fly, when they are forced into a life or death situation, i.e. being pushed of a cliff.. then they will fly. the survival instinct would kick in, and unless they were suicidal. they would take flight to save their life..

  60. OK Bob.  What you’re saying is that you don’t care about your writing because education and making things easier for readers isn’t important to you.  Well, we can all understand that.  Religion does, after all, promote ignorance and teach you to be proud of it.
     
    So you refuse to believe anything from science, even when back by an enormous amount of verifiable, repeatable evidence.  But you have no problem believing in a religion without on shred of evidence of any kind and plenty of evidence against?  I call that “willful ignorance” and “stubborn stupidity”.
     
    You also refuse to understand that no one has to prove that god does not exist.  YOu MUST prove that he does.  That’s called logical, rational thinking.  Oops, those are things religion also discourages aren’t they.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t excuse you from  to use them to prove your points.  First, you will have to overcome your brainwashing to ignore truth, evidence, and rational thinking.
     
    It wouldn’t hurt if you brushed up on grammar, spelling, and punctuation, too.  Few things destroy your credibility as quickly as looking like a semi-illiterate.  Then when you state openly that you don’t care about that, it doesn’t help, either.  Are you really that proud of sounding like a total dumb-ass?

  61. Justin says:

    I don’t know which side has the burden of proof – but I think that that question is somewhat irrelevant. While its true that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”, absence of evidence IS a strong suggestion of absence. If we haven’t found any proof that something exists, it probably doesn’t. As Bertrand Russell put it, “The existence of G-d is not impossible, but it is improbable”.

  62. The burden of proof is always upon those making the claims.  See my blog entry at http://slrman.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/80/  about faith.  Would you ask for proof or take the “leap of faith”?
     
    To those that demand we “prove there is not gad” I always ask, “Do you believe in Zeus, Ra, Aphrodite, or Apollo?”  They always reply, “of course not.”  Then I ask, “Why not?”  Whatever answer they give, I tell them that’s exactly why I cannot believe in their god.
     
    Usually, they cannot even define what they mean by god.  So they have to be questioned to learn what they think.  It is the omnipotent father figure/creator of the Jewish/Christian/Islamic tradition?   If so, do you believe the Torah/Bible/Q’ran is the literal word of god?  After we are all on the same page, it becomes a matter of pointing out the inconsistencies in their beliefs and the impossibilities of the basics contain in it.
     
    This is never more than a mental exercise for non-believers because you cannot reason a person away from a position the did not reach by reasoning.  Still, it can be entertaining.

  63. Ronja says:

    (I’m not a native speaker, please forgive any mistakes.)
    What I find funny about this is that, except for one writer (I believe, I haven’t read all the posts), you are all atheists reaffirming yourselves over and over again that you are right. hmmm… any thoughts about that? (also astonishing is the fact that you feel so good about your own perception.. maybe atheism is a religion too…?)
    Also I wonder if any of you has studied the Bible and its history or theology or at least, religion. We all use our knowledge that we have (so do I) and actually often we do that in a quite arrogant way, suggesting that our knowledge is the absolute one.
    I was just stunned by the certainity of most of you who take “aspects” from that “God” and actually say you can prove God isn’t like believers perceive him. Do you take these facts from the Bible? I.e. that God killed so many people in the Bible? (If not and you are relating mostely to the theodicy thing then maybe you should go ahead and read about that…) If yes, then I am really wondering, because obviously the Bible has been written by many people, a whole lot of people from different times and different origins, and it has been extended and shortened by translators and church fathers and so on. They have added a lot of stuff to increase the moral of their people. So its absolutely clear that the Bible actually has a range of contradictions, and nobody is going to say “no” to that. And its not only the stories from the Old Testament that contradict the New Testament, but even the Gospels are contradicting in themselves.  The Bible is not one book. I think you know that too, right? So I am just wondering where you take the proof from to negate an existence of any holy concept.
    I don’t know. In a way I find that it is arrogant to think mankind is so incredibly clever that it can become omniscient and that nothing can hide from it forever. Wouldn’t it be logical that there is some logic that is higher than ours? It is almost related to the thought of alien beings. It would also be strange if in a huge universe we were the only one. (Although I wouldn’t claim there are aliens either.)
    So. that’s it. ;-)

  64. FYI, most atheists have studied the babble and read it many times.  That’s how they bacame atheists.  In my personal case, I have read it cover-to cover many times.  It is certainly how I came to realize that all religion is nonsense.
     
    If atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby.  If you really knew anything about atheism, you would understand that it is a non-acceptance of all religions and gods.  The “atheism is a religion”argument is one of the oldest and most often disproved lies of theists.  It is only exceeded by the Pascal’s Wager  “what if your wrong?” idiocy.
     
    Yes, god killed so many people and that IS taken from the bible.  If you had read it as many of us have, you wouldn’t even have to ask that question.
     
    No,  it is not logical to assume that there is some logic higher than ours.  It is certainly possible that, somewhere in the universe, there are intelligent beings that are more advanced than us.  But we haven’t seen any evidence of them and we have been looking.
     
    But it is also possible, even likely, that those beings would be so different from out experience that we couldn’t recognize them or maybe even detect their presence.
     
    What is the basis of atheism is that there is absolutely not a single piece of evidence anywhere for any god.  But there are many things that point to no god.  The more we learn and develop better tools for learning, the more it points to no gods of any kind at all.

  65. Ronja says:

    I know that it the Bible says God has killed many people. My question wasn’t the question if that happened according to the Bible, but if this is your proof that God is not a loving God at all. Cause the Bible wasn’t written by God and a lot of stuff in there is just something that the translators or church fathers liked to add (even centuries after the original story was written). So what I am saying is, that it is funny to take the proof AGAINST the Bible from the Bible, if you anyway don’t believe in it.
    Well, there is no definition of “religion”. In some definitions that scientists made even football/soccer is a religion, so atheism might fall under that too ;)
    So we are the pride of creation, right? Cause we are so clever… (Especially me!! Yay!)

  66. Keith Pinster says:

    Hi Ronja,
     
    I’m not sure what you mean by “reaffirming ourselves.” We bring up points that each other might not be aware of, truly enough, but I don’t really think that is “reaffirming.” Certainly not in a religious aspect. Atheism is definitely NOT a religion. The difference being that we do not accept dogma as it is presented, we examine evidence to come to a conclusion.
     
    I know that several people here have studied the bible, if not all. At least a few have studied other religious texts as well. I, for one, have.
     
    As for the “aspects of god”, yes, these come from both the bible, but also from the followers of xianity that we communicated with. And, yes, I am aware that this is not always the same. However, there is a commonality among the aspects that can be compared. Much like you cannot have a square circle, there are contradictory aspects to the xian god that cannot exist together. For example, a being cannot be omnipresent and simultaneously not aware of some happenings. One cannot be omniscient and emotional, since emotions stem from experiences. A being cannot give creatures “free-will”, allowing their actions to be random, and, at the same time, be omniscient. These “aspects” are contradictory, regardless of whether the being is “outside our space and time”, therefore a being with these “aspects” or attributes simply cannot exist. A “fair, just, and loving” being also cannot give people “free-will” and intelligence and then punish them forever for using them, especially when that being does everything imaginable to provide evidence that it does not exist.
     
    No one ever says that there is no such thing as a “god”, per se, however, to date, there is no evidence that any god has ever had any influence on the universe as a whole, or on any given creature in it. And that really is the crux of the situation, and the basis for this discussion: who has the burden of proof? Is it the person making an unfounded, nonsensical, extraordinary claim, of is it the person that they are trying to convince that the claim is valid?
     
    You are correct in your assessment of the bible. It is chock full on contradictions, inconsistencies, logical fallacies, historical inaccuracies, and just plain lies. We, as Atheists, don’t use the bible to “disprove god.” The religious use the bible to “prove” god. We only point out that this is a completely invalid source. Since the bible can be proven to be completely useless as a source of knowledge, and since the only evidence that god exists comes from the bible, we simply use that to point out that there really is no evidence for the xian god.
     
    It’s funny that people find the non-acceptance of a fairy tale character to be “arrogant.” Do you find it “arrogant” that people don’t believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, or Little Red Riding Hood? There is just as much evidence that these characters exists than there is for the abrahamic god.
     
    “Would it be logical that there is a logic higher than ours?” Why? How is it logical? There is no evidence of it. I’m certainly not saying that there isn’t, and I’m certainly not saying that there *can’t be*, I’m just saying that there is no reason to believe that there is. But even if there were, there is still no proof of the abrahamic god. Even if someone proved that creationism is true, that still does not narrow down the field to “either it’s the abrahamic god or nothing.” Speaking of arrogance, believing in the abrahamic god is the epitome of arrogance. Thinking that, out of all the thousands of gods that have been dreamed up in the past, and all the possibilities that we haven’t even imagined yet, that abraham, out of pure chance, just happened to have guessed the right one. Wouldn’t you say?

  67. Keith Pinster says:

    I would have to say “no” and “no.”  First, we just happen to be the most advanced monkeys on the planet right now, but that’s nothing all that special, and second, you had 2 people completely explain away all your arguments without so much as a moment’s thought.  So, wrong on both counts.  Sorry.

  68. Keith Pinster says:

    Oh, and thanks for point out that the bible is just a bunch of fairy tales written by superstitious goat-herders from stories passed down verbally for generations.  It’s nice to know that you acknowledge that it is useless as a source of any profound knowledge.
     
    However, that begs the question, if you KNOW the bible is completely fictitious, shouldn’t that mean that you acknowledge that the religion based on it is nothing but superstitious nonsense, too?  So, your post kind of confuses me.  Are you theist or atheist?

  69. Ronja says:

    Well as I point out in my post below, religion can be defined in many ways, and in some atheism could even fall under that cateogry, in a way. That was not a pointed finger, just a thought.. eh, never mind ;)
    I agree with you, actually. If someone takes the Bible literally and believes everything that is in there without any questioning I would shake my head too and run away.
    But it’s also true that not everything in the Bible is total nonsense. There are historical facts. And I guess there was also a man named Jesus who said something about a God. Well, that’s pretty sure, isn’t it?
    Now faith doesn’t build on science. I am convinced that neither a true believer can convince an atheist nor can an atheist convince a true believer. Actually I think all that arguing is just fun, but it will never work, as those groups perceive their convictions in a different way. I have been both. Well I have been more, even. I have been an atheist, an agnostic, a catholic, an esoteric whatever and so on. So I am not on your side. I am not on the Christian side either. If this were a totally Christian pro-faith argumentation, I would probably argue on your side ;)
    So what I experienced is, that atheists can build their arguments on science, which is great, cause its proven in our small human world, and believers build their arguments on things which are not proven (here comes the old argument, please don’t start crying now: that’s why its faith…) and often subjective. But when it comes to personal experience, the feeling that you were touched by something “holy”, then I wouldn’t just dare to say: No, that was just imaginary. You are so stupid.
    Just to make that clear: I didn’t say none of you has studied the Bible, Christianity or other religions. I said I wonder if you have. thanks for answering ;-)
    I didn’t say atheists are arrogant either. I find it kind of arrogant to think we are the pride of evolution (in an atheistic as well as in a biblical sense). I don’t believe all atheists say that, do they?
    Well, that there could be a logic higher than ours is just a feeling. As I think we are not the pride of evolution. I guess we would anyway all be completely stupid if there hadn’t been some genius people who found out how some things work. I couldn’t have invented the bulb, I assume.
    Yes, and with the last argument I totally agree. That is arrogant. But to say I believe the abrahamic God is the only one is not, in my opinion.

  70. Keith Pinster says:

    I just re-read your post and noticed you said “it is funny to take the proof AGAINST the Bible from the Bible.”  Where else would we take the proof?
     
    I mean, you can’t take it from any other “holy book,” since they are all fanciful as well.  You can’t “disprove” gravity by measuring electro-magnetic fields.  You can’t “disprove” Little Red Riding Hood by pointing to thermodynamics.  You disprove a source of information by how accurate that source is.  The bible happens to be accurate at about the same rate as pure chance, so it proves itself to be inaccurate.  Isn’t that the absolute best way to prove or disprove a source of knowledge; to actually compare it’s accuracy to itself?
     
    I mean, we can also prove the invalidity of the bible through external sources as well, the fact that it is as historically accurate as any other fictional tale based loosely on current or recent events, but why go there?  If it can’t even be consistent within itself, that proves that it is invalid as a trustworthy source.

  71. Ronja says:

    ok I have to work on my irony. It seems it doesn’t work….

  72. Ronja says:

    1. the Bible isn’t competely nonsense
    2. well, let’s take the story of Noah. These are actually two narrative strands, put together to make one story out of it. In one of them, Noah was just lucky and was the one who was chosen to survive. In the other one, however, Noah survives cause he has been a good man. That makes no sense, cause there was no law at that time pointing out how to live as a good man.
    But actually, this part has been added later, after the exile of the people of Israel, after the book of law had been written. So there is an original story, and there are things added. Now you can say, the Bible is crap cause Noah couldn’t be a good man, as there was no definitions of good men, but you could also just see that the people who wrote the book of law emphasised their laws by writing it into Noahs story. So the Bible tells us really a lot and is an incredible precious source. And this should show that the contradictions must be due to the people who wrote and corrected and translated it. The original stories might actually make sense. And you can’t just take them all together as one book, I think every single part has to be looked at seperately. It is clear and even logical that it can’t be consistant.
    2. I’m neither atheist nor theist. ^^ this is fun.

  73. Keith Pinster says:

    Ah, okay.  Now I see where you are coming from.  Although, I do somewhat disagree with you about science.  A lot of people (especially the religious) view science as a “thing” or a “world view” or some such nonsense.  Science is a method of how we understand the real world.  The funny thing is, people EVERYONE uses science.  A lot of fundy xians would shutter at the thought, but science is just a way of logically thinking about something.  If you delve into the “scientific method,” we all use that too.  We try something and, if it doesn’t work, (intelligent) people will try something else.  We try things until we find a method that accomplishes our task.  Science is really no more than that.  Now, there is a depth or complexity of knowledge that what we call “layman” can never reach.  At that point, we have to put our “faith” (so to speak) in the “experts.”  But the process of the scientific community is pretty clear.  And it is the ONLY way to advance our knowledge as a species.  Those that don’t accept proven, reliable science are delusional.
     
    Now, I’m not saying that religion is the ONLY delusion.  I AM saying, however, that accepting the delusion of religion DOES open a person’s mind to accept other delusions.  For example, most racists are religious.  That’s because the delusion of religion actually supports racism in 2 different ways: first, it patterns the mind to accept other delusions that such as a belief that a particular race is inferior to their own, based on nothing but “feelings”.  Second, the religious delusion itself supports things like racism right in the belief system itself.
     
    You are correct in your assessment that it is unlikely that a strongly religious person will be swayed by logical arguments.  However, all that is really required is that the person is made to think about their religion.  Once they start thinking about it, questioning the least little bit, there is a good possibility that the shroud of darkness will eventually lift.  Secondly, and as far as I’m concerned, more importantly, anyone watching that discussion who questions their faith at all, can be persuaded to give up their delusion.  It is possible to have a discussion with a single fundy and, in the process, cause dozens of people to question their “faith” based on reason.
     
    The truly funny thing is, as a society, we cannot survive without science and reason.  We would not only survive fine without religion, but we would truly thrive.  Religion provides absolutely nothing of value to society that a secular organization couldn’t provide better.

  74. Ronja says:

    Is religion and faith the same to you? If yes, I would argue against that, as faith has provided me with a lot of things that I consider to be good for my personal development. And I don’t think I am a racist nor anything else that would hurt society in any way (I actually strongly believe in complete non-violence, also and especially towards other creatures).
    If you mean religion as an institution, then I might agree. I am actually not sure about this. Well, I think religion as such shouldn’t be an instrument of power used by men or anything like this, but an institution might also have some sense, but really I am not going into that because I haven’t really made my mind up concerning this point.

  75. OK, let’s go with your choice and the story of Noah.  Remember, this is the part you chose.
     
    The story is totally impossible.  First of all, to this day, even using modern tools and construction techniques no one has been able to build a 450 foot wooden boat that could survive even a moderate sea. much less a global flood.  Speaking of that.  There isn’t enough water in the world to cover all of the land, even if the polar icecaps were melted and all the glaciers, too.  So the entire concept is bogus.
     
    Next,, archeological records indicate that there were from 3 to 5 million types of animals on the earth in Noah’s supposed time.  Taking the lower number, that would mean 6,000,000 (two by two, remember?) creatures on a boat 450 feet long.  Plus all their food for at least a couple of months would have to be stored, too.  Id, as is generally accepted, there were only none humans on the ark, how could they care for that many animals?  Let’s accept that many were insects.  Still, that leaves quite a few large animals, even if they were “young ones”. Nothing has explained how all the marsupials were distributed only to Australia or the bison to North America.  For that matter, how Noah got them in the first place is ignored, too.  Remember, this is the part you chose, so please don’t dissemble or complain that it isn’t a fair example.
     
    So, the bible tells us nothing that is true except a few references to historical events and places that have nothing to do with the god myth.  How is it a “precious source” when so much of it is demonstratively untrue?
     
    Every single part has to be looked at separately?  Theists do that and it’s called “cherry picking”.  Yet, many claim that every word is true and the literal word of god.
     
    Of course the contradictions are due to the people who wrote it, translated it, (many times) and edited it, usually for political reasons.  Didn’t you ever play “gossip” as a child?  Imagine how distorted tall tales would become after thousands of years?  Especially when they were not true in the beginning?

  76. Keith Pinster says:

    1. Actually, it is.  That isn’t to say that “nothing” is the bible is true.  What I’m pointing out is that it is completely unreliable as a source document.  Just because a couple of things happen to be true, there is no reason to think that any extraordinary claim is true, and because so much is false, that is a very good reason NOT to believe any extraordinary claim.

    2. Thanks for bringing this story up.  It is a PERFECT example (and my favorite) as to why you are wrong with #1.  To be perfectly honest, I don’t much care about the inconsistencies with this story.  Although they prove that the book is just a bunch of stories, the basis of the story is a complete fabrication to begin with.  Let’s just look at it from a logical standpoint.  Let’s ask a couple of easy questions (this is not extensive, just a few of the really hard ones):
    A. How did Noah manage to get animals from ALL over the world (and back to their original location), at a time when it would have been impossible to circumnavigate the world?  
    B. How did Noah manage to get animals from ALL over the world (and back to their original location), when it would have taken him probably hundreds of years?
    C. How did Noah manage to get millions of animals on a boat that was 450 yds long, 50 yds wide and 3 stories (each 10 feet) tall?  Even if you parse it down to tens of thousands of animals, it’s still impossible.
    D. Not only all the animals, but all the food for those animals for at least 6 months, if not years (if the seas had covered all the lands, they would have destroyed the crop production and contaminated all the fresh water for generations).
    Now let’s look at the flood itself:
    A. Where did the water come from and go to?  It would have taken 3 times more water than is currently on earth to flood all the land.
    B. The scenario is completely impossible because to flood the earth is 40 days, it would have had to have rained 5.5″ PER MINUTE.  That much damage would have: 1. destroyed the ark. 2. raised the temp of the planet to about 1800f. The ark would have evaporated along with all the animals and people (lead melts at about 800f).
    C. That much weight would have distorted the land masses of earth to the point where we would still see the evidence of it in the geologic record.
    So, you see, the miniscule differences in the stories of the bible are nothing compared to the sheer magnitude of the impossibility of the story in the first place.  The only way to say that it has any validity at all is to add a whole bunch of “god did it”s to it, even though that is NOT what the bible says.  God would have had to perform miracles to the limits of his powers, for no purpose whatsoever.  Could god have wiped out man with a thought?  Yes.  Then why the melodramatics?  Why destroy all the animals?  What magically produce all that water and then magically make it go away again? Why make Noah chase his tail for no reason other than enjoy watching him with this exercise in futility?  Why? Because it’s the only way to make the story make sense.  Which it doesn’t.

    3. Actually, you are one or the other.  You do know what the term means, right?  Either you believe or you don’t.  Simple.  You might be confusing being gnostic with being theistic.  The two are not the same at all.  Being atheistic is not believing that any god or gods exist.  Being agnostic is believing that the claim is absolutely true.

    Here is how it breaks down:

    Agnostic atheist – does not believe any god exists, but doesn’t claim to know that no god exists
    Agnostic theist – believes a god exists, but doesn’t claim to know that this belief is true
    Gnostic atheist – believes that no god exists and claims to know that this belief is true
    Gnostic theist – believes a god exists and claims to know that this belief is true

  77. Keith Pinster says:

    No, religion and faith are not the same.  Religion is the belief in a god or gods.  Faith is believing something despite lack of evidence for it, or (in religion’s case) mountains of evidence against it.  Religion requires faith, but faith does not necessarily apply only to religion.  “Faith” has provided you with nothing that you couldn’t have gotten from another secular source.  It has done more psychological damage to you than good.
     
    If believing in a fairy tale makes you feel better, that’s fine, but it doesn’t bring you any closer to reality, nor does it help improve anything around you.  You say you aren’t racist, and that’s fine, you might very well not be.
     
    I didn’t say that ALL religious people are racist.  I said allowing yourself to believe in a fairy tale despite the evidence against it patterns your mind to believe other delusional fairy tales.  It trains your brain to not accept reality, which makes you a less productive member of society.
     
    Just out of curiosity, what is your stand on same-sex marriage?
     
    The institutions of religion are far worse than individual religiosity.  Because people who are religious are susceptible to believing things that are not real, it allows those in charge of religious institutions to easily influence the sheeple into believing all sort of complete nonsense.  Glen Beck is a really good example of a wickedly delusional person influencing sheeple into believing complete lies.  Which brings me to the point that “institution” does not necessarily just mean “church.”

  78. Ronja says:

    Thanks Keith for repeating basically the exact thing about the arche which the person above you said.
    I feel like you keep trying to put me in that box with a huge stamp on it where it says “dangerous fanatic Christian inside who can become a monster anytime”. Well sorry- I am not.
    “Just out of curiosity, what is your stand on same-sex marriage?” I love that. My brother is gay, i know quite a lot of his gay friends, i have another gay friend myself plus my one and only flatmate is gay. Do I need to answer that question still?
    Back to Noah. Bravo, you have taken the Bible literally. Which we all know doesn’t make sense, cause blablabla (put in all the sentences I wrote about the Bible in fromer postings). The Bible MUST be interpreted, that’s what scientists say, as the language that was used 2000 years and more ago is not always just so clear to us. A fire rain  that destroyed the river is not a rain of fire. How could it destroy a river, if it was fire? But a fire rain is a hebrew expression for heat, which is indeed able to destroy a river by drying it out. Tadaaaa…
    What I believe is true is that the Bible has a high HISTORICAL value (for scientists of history who are interested in that geographical area where the Bible stories took place) and as we all know scientists don’t read sources and believe all that is in there.
    The Bible can also tell us what was important to some groups of people in different times. And finally, the Bible tells us a lot about our (I speak for European) culture nowadays, about our language too and so on.
    If the Bible is a valueable source for religious matters, that is another thing.
    Ok, I have a question or two:
    Do you think all people on this world who ever claimed to experience any God’s or any “holy concept”‘s presence are actually either liars or crazy? All of them?
    Do you believe in love? is love just a chemical thing, or does it not exist at all?
    Ok, I am definitely not an atheistic, but I am not a Christian theist either.

  79. Oh wow!  “some of my best friends are gay/black/minorities.”  Where have we heard that before?  ROFLMAO!
     
    You statements about the babble being a valuable source for historical facts i s simply too ludicrous for words.  What the bible has to say in those matters has clearly been lifted from other sources.  So why do we need the bible to repeat what we already know?  So we can wade through mountains of BS to find the rare nuggets of facts?
     
    Now, for your questions.  Do I think everyone that claimed to experience religious presence are crazy?  First, you would have to define “crazy”.  Considering the the best medical professionals in the field have a problem with that, I think the term is pointless.
     
    Do I think they are either liars or deluded?  Yes, I do.  Yes, all of them.  Many are clearly deluded and many are liars.  Being that there is no verifiable evidence anywhere at any time of any supernatural event, what other explanation do you expect?
     
    Yes, I believe in love.  But that has nothing to do with religion or any “god”.  The evidence of love is obvious, verifiable, and sustainable.  People clearly experience love for one another, their children, pets and sadly, for material possessions and self-destructive behavior such as drugs, and irrational actions.
     
    So yes, love exists, but gods do not.  The two are disconnected, despite the efforts of theists to do so.

  80. Keith Pinster says:

    “Thanks Keith for repeating basically the exact thing about the arche which the person above you said.” So, it’s not possible that I was composing my post while James posted his?  Or are you just babbling to try to start a fight?  Well, I guess that statement makes as much sense as anything else you’ve written.
     
    In order to not upset you by “repeating” a response that already addresses all your points as babble, I will simply say that I completely agree with everything James said in response to your post.  There, do you feel better about that?

  81. Keith Pinster says:

    BTW, the question about same-sex marriage was just a simple question.  Why did you feel the need to get all defensive and throw a little hissie fit about it?  A simple “I have no problem with that” would have done fine.

  82. Ronja says:

    @ Keith: that’s possible, sorry about that. It’s nice you take so much time for only answering me.
    @ James: Keith asked me how I think about same sex marriage. That was just my answer.
    Sources prove each other, so I guess the Bible is just another historical source (in some points) to support other historical sources, which, I think, history scientists appreciate.
    Anyways you can’t change anything about it that the Bible exists and that it is part of the western culture, so it is important in that way. And that lots of our expressions in language come from the Bible, even if we don’t realize sometimes. Christianity has been the fundament of our culture, no matter if it is wrong or right.
    How can you prove love, then? It could be just delusional too, couldn’t it? Except if you narrow it down on the hormones.
    As for me, I am really glad there are religions. Otherwise I wouldn’t be studying Science of Religions at University now, which is definitely one of the most interesting subjects.
    (and to make it clear: of course I am NOT trying to take a scientific point of view in this discussion, as Science of Religions doesn’t go into the question if there is a God or not.)

  83. Ronja says:

    I am in that box again! I am not a Christian. So I don’t feel I have to prove you anything, or justify anything. As someone mentioned, in the end its live and let live, and as I don’t intend to convince anyone of my opinion, this works. But in my eyes you seem to basically say “burn all the Bibles and churches” and that doesn’t really work, I think. I might be wrong, yes. I am human. We all might be wrong. There is no absolute truth, is there…

  84. You’re really glad there are religions?  Does that mean you approve of Northern Ireland, the Middle East, 9/11, and family planning clinic bombing in the USA.  Then there were the crusades, the inquisition, and the dark ages.  Those were god for mankind, too?
     
    Science of Religions?  That most be the most complete oxymoron I have ever heard.  Way better than “military intelligence” and “legal ethics”.
     
    How can you suggest love is “delusional”?  We can see evidence of love every day and, if we are fortunate, experience it.  Delusional items can only be “seen” by those having or sharing the delusion.  We can see love in the actions of others and in ourselves.  How can it be delusional.  Methinks you are begging the question.

  85. Ronja says:

    Science of Religions is a Unisverity subject just like any other too. It doesn’t ask about God but about people, i.e. what function religions has in a society. I think it is called Religious Studied in the US, but I am not sure.
    I have never seen proof of love, except for my feelings, but I have feelings of faith too, which are not less real. I am sure there are people who would say, love does not exist. What you see in people’s actions is not love, but the effect of it, and I see faith as an effect in people’s actions everyday, too…

  86. There is no absolute truth?  I disagree.  There are many absolute truths.  Gravity, for example is absolutely true.  If you don;t think so, try dropping a big rock on your bare toe.
     
    As far as “live and let live”, I feel that most atheists would be very happy with that if the theists would actually do that and stop attempting to vote their beliefs into law, discriminating against those that do not share their exact beliefs and would stop proselyting with public money and  stopping me on the street asking “Have you been saved?”  Even better, don’t knock on my door trying to “bring me the good news.”
     
    I couldn’t care less about burning bibles and churches.  I just want them to keep their religion out of my life.  Is that unreasonable?  Until they do, I will have to keep resisting their illegal and immoral intrusion into the lives of myself and others.

  87. Keith Pinster says:

    What?  In response to me saying “it was just a simple question”, you claim I am “putting you in a box?”  What are you talking about?
     
    Yes, I would LOVE to see all bibles burned (figuratively, of course.  Let’s not forget about the 1st amendment).  I would love to see a day when people weren’t taken in by nonsensical, ludicrous, fantastical fairy tales.  Religion, ALL religions, are delusional and serve no purpose in a civilized society.  They cause problems that nothing else does, and they don’t provide any positive service that can’t be done just as well, if not better, by a purely secular organization.  You mention “live and let live,” which is a great sentiment that almost no abrahamic religiot believes.  They only say it when they don’t have the upper hand in a debate.
     
    But I digress; we have been over this ground and you don’t agree.  It’s a free country (as long as the religious don’t have their way), so each to his own.

  88. Ronja says:

    Some philosopher’s could argue with you about that. I mean if there is anything real or absolute. I myself don’t believe we can be sure of anything at all absolutely.
    All what you said below, I agree with that. You should not be importned(is this the right word?) with something you don’t want. But then I also don’t want to be importuned by the “omniscient” atheistic view either. Is that fair?

  89. Ronja says:

    Some philosopher’s could argue with you about that. I mean if there is anything real or absolute. I myself don’t believe we can be sure of anything at all absolutely.
    All what you said below, I agree with that. You should not be importuned(is this the right word?) with something you don’t want. But then I also don’t want to be importuned by the “omniscient” atheistic view either. Is that fair?

  90. Keith Pinster says:

    Okay, let’s step back a minute.  “Love” is am emotion.  The “love” a person feels for their god is just as real as the “love” that person feels for their spouse or child.  We don’t need “proof” of love.  However, we can scientifically define it.  But, we all feel it in some way.  It’s an emotion.  It is not a “delusion.” Animals have ranges of emotions.  Why is this even in question?
     
    The belief that a fairy tale character exists is a “delusion.” Comparing the belief in the Easter Bunny to the emotion of love is like comparing the color red to a taste.  Emotion has nothing to do with a belief.
     
    You have an “emotional” connection to a magic sky fairy.  The emotion is real.  The recipient of that emotion is delusional.  Are you still confused?

  91. Ronja says:

    I was more referring to the “hissie fit”… can’t find it anywhere. (not even in the dictionary^^)
    I find your language much more aggressive, using terms like “religiot” and “babble” and stating you would love to see Bibles burn. This does not look fair to me. So yes, there are bad believers, but there are bad atheists too. An atheist can lose himself in his own opinion as well as a theist. Burning Bibles and Churches could be followed by burning people. Every individual is responsible for his choices in the end.
    The happiest people I have ever seen where some monks in France as well as some in Switzerland. I have never seen such a happy, gentle, caring atheist. This is personal experience, it is not proof.

  92. Keith Pinster says:

    I would love to hear a philosopher “argue” against the truth of air pressure at sea level.  I would love to hear a philosopher “argue” against the science of how much thrust it takes for a 10 ton rocket to fly from sea level to escape earth’s gravitational field.
     
    If you have 2 apples and you sell me 1, given NO OTHER PARAMETERS, how many apples do you have left?  Well, let’s go ask a “philosopher.”  The “absolute truth of mathematics” says I have 1 left, but a philosopher might have a different answer.  Ya, right.
     
    If you don’t believe in absolute truths, you are delusional.  You think that the laws of physics can change at any given instance.  But you don’t.  If you drop something, you expect it to fall.  If you turn on the headlights of your car, you expect to be able to see in the dark.  When you drive, you know that 2 objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time, therefore you strive to not put your car in the same space as another car at the same time.
     
    To say you do not “believe in absolute truths” means that you just want to play with words and not actually have an intelligent, adult, serious conversation.
     
    If you “don’t want to be importuned by the “omniscient” atheistic view”, that’s fine.  I have no idea what you mean by the “omniscient” atheistic view,” since atheists don’t claim to be omniscient.  We simply do not believe in fairy tale characters.  If a person claims that there is no pink unicorn in their closet, does that mean they claim to be omniscient? No.  There is just simply no reason to believe it without cause.  Just because we don’t believe in a magical fairy that will condemn us for thought crimes, even though to goes through every effort to convince us of his non-existence, including making his religion as nonsensical as possible, doesn’t mean we claim to be omniscient.  It just means that we refuse to be deluded by fairy tales.

  93. Why is telling the truth “aggressive”?  Because you don’t happen to like the facts?  Beliefs, no matter how sincerely held, do not alter facts.
     
    As far as “burning people”.  That’s a theists pastime.  When has any atheists burned someone at the stake because of their religious beliefs or lack of them?
     
    Please do not insult us with the Hitler/Stalin/Pol Pot nonsense.   True all of these people did terrible things, but not because they were atheists (Hitler certainly was not and there’s some doubt about Stalin) but because they felt certain people were threats to their power.  Yes, Stalin had theists killed, but not because they were theists but because he thought they were organized against him.  They could have been hard-core atheists but if he imagined they were plotting against him, they would disappear along with the others.
     
    Good for your monks.  That they are atypical of most theists.   That they live a life so far removed from society and reality had nothing to do with anything, do you think?  Surely it was solely due to their religion, not their freedom from stress, obligations, and daily life?  (I know, sarcasm icon badly needed here)  As an aside, “Sarcasm is a response to obvious stupidity.”  Not my quote but it seems to often be applicable.

  94. Keith Pinster says:

    So, about the “burning of bibles”, you didn’t actually read my post, did you?  Typical.  Fair?  How is it not “fair” for me to have no respect for a delusional fairy tale?
     
    Why are you saying there are “bad believers?”  I never said that.  Why are you saying there are “good atheists?”  I never said that either.  Why are you saying that only religiots can be delusional?  Again, I never said that.  And when did we start talking about “happiness?”  Happiness has nothing to do with being deluded or not.  many deluded people are extremely happy.
     
    Who are you arguing with?  You seem to be debating points that no one has brought up.
     
    But, since you brought it up, if you have never seen anyone as content as xian monks, it’s because you haven’t bothered to look.  Go to any Zazen temple.  Tell me that those monks aren’t just as content.  The difference is, they see the world as clearly as possible, since that is what Zazen is about, but the xian monks see the world through a complete shroud of delusion.  Personally, I’d rather be content and see all the truths of the universe instead of being insulated from them.  If happiness or contentedness is an indication of the truth behind a religion, every religion in the world is correct, since there are content people in every religion, and those that are not deluded.

  95. Hmm, interesting that you ignore a direct question about do you approve of 9/11, etc.  That one could have been a simple “yes” or “no”.  Instead you go on about things that are more intangible.
     
    As an aside, it’s curious that you should not be able to spell “University”.  That could be a simple typo, I make plenty of those myself.  But I do have a spell-checker and, unless pressed for time, I do try to give my post a quick edit.  Perhaps those things aren’t as important to university students these days?
     
    But to give you credit, at least you didn’t write “impact” for “effect”.  :)

  96. Keith Pinster says:

    Hey James:
     
    To be honest, I’m more concerned with his grades than whether he is able to spell University or not.  If he is failing, I’m surprised that no one is teaching him how to read an ENTIRE passage and understand the meaning before going on about some out-of-context few words.  If he is passing, I’d say the school is completely useless.
     
    Of course, it IS “religious studies”, so maybe they are specifically teaching him how to extract bits and pieces of a phrase and apply it to a preconceived idea of what it will say.  It certainly works for all the other religiots that I’ve encountered. LOL

  97. Keith Pinster says:

    “I don’t feel I have to prove you anything, or justify anything.”  Fair enough, but then again, what are you doing here?  You’ve asked some questions, accused us of being sheeple to a “belief” of reality when it is the only way we can experience true reality.  If you don’t “feel the need to prove anything,” why are you even bothering to make any statement?
     
    I also don’t really understand your insistence that you are not xian.  So what?  Who has accused you of being xian?  If you think me saying that you threw a little hissie fit is calling you a xian, it’s not.  A “hissie fit” is sort of like a “temper tantrum” without so much anger.  You going on and on about how everyone around you is gay rather than just answering a simple question is an example of a “hissie fit.”  No religion necessary.
     
    As to the aggressive language, okay, i will admit that it is somewhat aggressive to call people who are religious religiots.  It’s also somewhat aggressive to say that religion is an archaic, delusional, superstitious, nonsensical way of looking at the world and that the bible is nothing but a bunch of fairy tales written by stories heard by uneducated, mostly illiterate, barbaric, goat herders who used those stories to control people out of fear and ignorance.  I’d say that it’s also “aggressive” to say that the abrahamic god is a blood thirsty, megalomaniac, evil, horrible manifestation of human imagination driven by fear, ignorance, superstition, and, at time, psychotic breakdown.  I would say that people who believe and worship such a being are pathetic morons who are desperate to have some outer source to blame for all their misgivings because they can’t face the world on their own two feet and, as a general rule, deep down know how incredibly stupid their delusion is, but rather than facing the truth that they have been taken in by obvious hucksters and charlatans, they prefer to surround themselves by like (weak) minded people for affirmation of their delusional viewpoint.
     
    Yes, I would say that is “aggressive” speech.  What exactly is your point?
     
    Personally, I could care less if people deluded themselves their entire lives and never contributed a single thing to the species as a whole.  However, what DOES piss me off, are the people who think that their delusion has any validity at all and that they have the right to legislate that into the law of the land.  You think I’m wrong for being aggressive?  That’s your choice and your viewpoint.  I really couldn’t care less.  Do you want me to NOT be aggressive?  Help stop people from over riding my civil liberties and keep their delusional superstitions away from me and my children. Because until that happens, I will continue to be “aggressive”.

  98. Keith, I think what we are seeing here are the traditional tactics, of “deny, distract, and delay” that have been used by theists and politicians when they are caught with their pants down either philosophically or physically.  It’s much easier to evade the issues than it is to give straightforward answers.  Such as the one about gay marriage.    My first though was, “Methinks s/he doth protest too much.”
     
    The handle here is a bit androgynous, so without being sure, I’ll try not to offend.  I prefer to save my offensive remarks for genuine issues  ;)  LMAO!

  99. Keith Pinster says:

    Oh ya, I think you have a really good point, James,  I’m always suspicious of anyone who says “I have a personal relationship with a divine being, but I’m not religious.” When someone is desperate to distinguish themselves from the religion that they follow, they usually really do know how delusional they are, or at least how stupid they will present themselves as with that admission.  But it’s kind of like people who claim to be creationists but accept “micro-evolution.”  What that means is that they know evolution is true, but only want to admit it to the point where they can use it for their case, but no more.
     
    I’ve noticed that Ronja really enjoys playing word games; refusing to accept the common meaning for words so that s/he can create a distinction that doesn’t really exist.  But, yes, I’ve noticed the typical xian tactic of ignoring or offhandedly dismissing arguments that overpower his/her arguments.
     
    Oh well, maybe there is a real challenge out there somewhere.  :)

  100. Ronja says:

    Indeed I am not a challenge and I did not hope to be one, as I am not someone who discusses often, and I am not educated enough in that topic either.
     
    I didn’t say atheists have burned people, I said your words look so aggressive to me that it does seem like it has a violent touch. Didn’t mention Hitler either.
     
    The monks are not far from “daily life or stress”. Actually I think it might even be harder in a community that has thousands of visitors every year.
     
    Zazen is a buddhist practise. You don’t mind that? (And yes I believe every religions is “correct” although i don’t think that’s the righ word to use)
     
    I’m here cause I consider it to be something for me to learn from. But not because I want to convince you of anything.
     
    I don’t like people being aggressive in general.
     
    To my “religious” standpoint again. I used to be into Christianity for a while, now, well, I still sometimes go to some worships but I am not as deeply into it as I was, and I am not quite sure where I am standing right now.
     
    I don’t mind atheists, actually I think most of the people I share my daily life with are either atheists or agnostics, especially most of the people who study Science of Religions. Anyways, I kind of hope that everyone can tolerate others with respect (in acts as well as in language) and that everyone can be interested in others views of the world and also dares to see things “hypothetically”. That is what I experience in my surrounding, but that isn’t what I experience on this page.
    I am going to celebrate easter now wth my relatives, looking forward to a nice time together. Can’t really say now happy easter to you too, but enjoy your weekend.

  101. Keith Pinster says:

    @Ronja – “Zazen is a buddhist practise. You don’t mind that?” It’s a Buddhist practice, but it is not a “religious” practice.  Zazen has nothing at all to do with the supernatural.  As a matter of fact, the zen meditation practice is specifically designed to clear a person’s mind and get them to focus on the here and now.  It is designed to alleviate “suffering” (actually, the word should have been translated to “dis-contentedness”) by teaching you how to lose expectations, stop living in the past and/or future, and accept and focus on things the way they are at the moment.  Buddhism is the only practice that I know that completely separates out their “how to live” philosophy from their religion, so if you don’t want to have anything to do with their dogma, it can be completely ignored without having any impact at all with the practice of becoming a healthier, happier, more contented and realistic person.  It is so removed from religion, that you can actually believe in ANY religious dogma and still practice Zazen, although if you adhere to a religious dogma, there is a LOT more work to become content and accept reality at the same time.

  102. Keith Pinster says:

    @Ronja – “I didn’t say atheists have burned people” Yes, but you ARE the one that brought up burning bibles and churches and people.  All I said is that I look forward to a day when it wouldn’t matter because people didn’t adhere to superstitious delusional fairy tales.  And, by the way, I would NEVER advocate burning churches.  Have you seen how beautiful some of those places are?  Burn the Sistine chapel?  Hell no!  But it’d be nice if it was a tourist attraction reflecting on days when people help childish, nonsensical beliefs.

    As to your religiosity, no one here really cares if you are specifically xian or not.  The question is: do you believe in a divine being?  Doesn’t really matter if it’s jesus, yhwh, oden, zeus, or ra.  If you believe in a supernatural divine being, then you are religious.  You are also delusional.  In the thousands of years that these beings have been worshiped, there has never been any evidence that points to anything other than them being figments of our imagination brought on by fear of the unknown, the desire to anthropomorphize nature, and our ability to glean patterns from almost nothing, even when patterns doesn’t exist.

    You’ve said several times how the bible is at least a valid historical document.  But we’ve shown how it’s not.  Even if you can point to a couple of instances where they got something right, we can point to dozens of instances where they got it wrong.  If you had a study guide that was only right 10% of the time, would you really trust anything it said?  That’s the bible.  In the early days of archeology (especially in the middle east), because the bible was taken for its word, archeologist would just assume the bible was right and when they found something, they would strive to put it in context of the bible.  But so much was found to “not quite fit” that the practice was abandoned by all but the most desperate “xian scientist.”  Now, real scientists are somewhat amazed with something actually DOES line up with the bible because it happens so rarely.

    One of the reasons we get so aggressive with people like you is that when we present evidence related to the invalidity of religion, you just shrug it off like it has nothing to do with your belief system.  People like you believe in god because the bible says he exists.  But the bible is found to be useless as a serious source document.  But that doesn’t matter because god isn’t in the bible.  But the bible was written by man, so it’s acceptable that it is fallible, so that has nothing to do with god.  But your believe in god because the bible tells you too.  Etc, etc.  It’s all circular logic, that points to failure, but you refuse to acknowledge that and point to centuries-old studies that have been dismisses decades ago as supporting evidence.  All in all, it gets very frustrating, so yes, some of us do tend to get “aggressive” because of the frustration level.

  103. darrell says:

    Just because on has the ability to fly, doesn’t mean that he will….You could argue that Jesus could have prevented his death, but didn’t…so too could the flying man!

  104. Keith Pinster says:

    However, the more logical and reasonable conclusion is that both the flying man and jesus are nothing but fables.
     
    The “flying man” may be trying to hide his identity.  Jesus, supposedly, wasn’t trying to hide his identity; on the contrary, he was trying to convince people of his divinity.  Based on that, if he really was the personification of a god and had the ability to survive a crucifixion, he undoubtedly would have done so.  Since he didn’t, that pretty much proves that the whole story is nothing but a childish fairy tale.

  105. Kyle says:

    I think Ricky’s point, in this case, is that others could just say “Well, he didn’t feel you were worthy to see him fly.”, or “He can only fly when he’s pushed off a cliff by a man instead of a woman.” or some crap like that. The excuses would be of the same variety of someone trying to back a religion.

    You’re simply never required to prove a negative in logic, no matter if its flying or godliness, simply because it is nonsensical and impossible.

  106. Keith Pinster says:

    I think Ricky’s main point is that if anyone claimed any supernatural powers or knowledge aside from religion, they would be laughed out of the pub.  But because it’s *religion*, people expect you to accept their “special knowledge” as if it made any sense and was indisputable proof.
     
    I think possibly what you might have meant that you are never required to disprove an extraordinary claim in logic.

  107. Dan Galeano says:

    I think we waste too much time arguing. The point is not whether we can prove that any human being cannot fly or not, the point Monica is making is that the burden of proof is on the ones who make the claim.

  108. Nath says:

    This is 100% awesome. I enjoyed every part of it. Thanks guys.

  109. Ben says:

    Men vainly seek a god they cannot see. A god they cannot touch. A god they cannot hear. A god that has no substance invisible, unseen, unheard, untouched and unreal.
    Narcissistic religious fanatics have poisoned the minds of themselves and others by founding religions that pay homage to a myth. Preachers, priest, popes, imams, pastors, bishops, rabbis and all religious solicitors promote fear of a false god to extort offerings from ignorant men to support their own unrighteous indulgences.
    Men flounder under the encumbrances of their manufactured, user friendly religions unable to understand that greed is in fact the essence and the substance of them all.
    In the beginning men were instructed to improve the specie that it should be worthy of salvation. In the beginning men were instructed to choose mates wisely seeking purity that each generation should be advanced. In the beginning men were instructed to destroy unrighteousness. In the beginning those instructions were given to our ancestors who colonized Earth.
    Had humans followed the instructions set forth by their ancestors when Earth was first colonized there would be no unrighteousness. Those depraved insane prophets of a false god whose minds were ablaze with herbs would never have existed.
    We would all know and understand that nature is natural and a god is not.

  110. Dakotanin2 says:

    I do not claim to be anything yet, but something I am NOT is religious. gave it upafter 39 years. I do not know the bible as well as you but from what I always believed was that NO where in the bible did Jesus say he was divine. That Idea come through from the Catholic Church at the council meeting of the Nicean elders. Does this person use a Catholic Bible to make his assumptions?

  111. arkediaz says:

    wow…there’s my name there!
    actually,i really love your tweets..they are awesome!
     

  112. Actually, if you pushed someone off the cliff and they didn’t fly, it wouldn’t be proof that they can’t fly.. only proof that they did not fly. ;) Maybe they were suicidal, or maybe the conditions weren’t met.

  113. Kyle says:

    The problem with the faith argument is… if you’re going to use that to apply to god, it can really be used to apply to any god, or any argument for that matter.  Why should one have Christian faith as opposed to Muslim faith or any other religious organization?  We take gravity seriously because it IS observable.  Everything considered to be observable acts of god are circumstantial at best.  If our lives worked solely on faith, we would all be extremely ignorant people.

  114. John says:

    Pete: nice. You say it so well. Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone understood the absurdity of this as well as you? Here’s my 2 cents: one can pose philosophical questions about our existence all day long in our attempts to explain what we do not yet know, but if absolute knowledge is the true objective, we must accept science, i.e. observation and empirical evidence, as the only argument, at which point all philosophy and theology is trumped. 

  115. HappilyAgnostic says:

    I think you may be missing Pete’s post with your reply. Regardless of belief, it is a matter of acceptance of others. You are just coming off as another Atheist who has absolute faith in science. The problem with faith is that it is a belief; therefore it is as regimented and solid as religion. Science is open and changing to the application of thought. One has to always be open to new thoughts, and ideas, regardless of the source. That is what has made science an amazing and powerful driving force in our modern world.

  116. John says:

    @HappilyAgnostic:
    Once you recognize that there is no such thing as “faith in science,” then perhaps you’ll recognize the validity of my point. In fact, precicely in order to maintain the open mind, scientists empirically do not place faith in their research, their results, their hypothoses, their peers. I have no faith in science. Indeed, I have no faith in anything. You might not believe me, but that makes me an extremely open-minded individual, content, basically ethically and morally good. Generally I agree with what you’ve said, but you seem to skew the very meaning of the word “faith”. Faith is a pillar; it allows our minds to abandon other options and hold onto only one. I do not abandon religion. I think very, very much about it. I was not always and athiest. Prior to that I was agnostic after a time of being spiritual following a period of Christianity, though I was never convinced about a god in man’s image. 

  117. Friends have told me that, aside from being part of a religion, they have witnessed “improbable” things that they define as “miracles” as if they were interchangeable concepts. Then, they do an extrapolation of that event: “If I’ve witnessed a miracle, then all the miracles explained in the bible can be true, therefore, I believe in God”.

    When I politely propose different alternatives based on probable facts, some of them say “Well, that could be true…but…for me it’s a miracle” and the discussion goes dead.

    It is clear to me that we shouldn’t have the responsibility to prove them (or the many bible stories) wrong, they don’t mess with me, I don’t mess with them. Anyone is entitled to believe in whatever they want to believe, but what I am not usually happy about is when a specific religion dictates laws or rules for me to follow. What about people with different deities or none at all? That is discrimination.

    Sorry for the long commentary! :D cheers!

  118. Alex C-T says:

    I agree with the burden of proof being on those who claim belief in the idea. I’m not an Atheist I describe myself as an Agnostic.When I face potentially deadly situations or events, which I believe will profoundly change me, I yearn for that hope that somewhere, something is looking out for me. In fact in some cases, like jumping out of a plane, I have even crossed myself in Catholic fashion.

    However I completely agree with every argument against the existence of God. There is no evidence apart from word of mouth which, as any lawyer will tell you, is not enough too count as conclusive evidence.
    The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the case of a teapot orbiting the Earth are two examples of the burden of proof. We cannot prove they don’t exist, well maybe the teapot one we can, and therefore by the logic of many who believe in God have to concede their existence.
    Both of these notions are obviously ridiculous; but it must be maintained that by being unable to prove they don’t exist they have to exist.
    Take for example the search for extraterrestrial life; despite the obvious limitations in our ability to comprehend the universe and conduct a thorough search we persist in our quest. Maths and Science both point to the overwhelming possibility that other life exists; but given our limited understanding of the Universe we cannot know for certain. It takes faith to maintain a search which ultimately has no immediate, and perhaps no foreseeable, gains.

    Faith, in my opinion, is different to religion. I have faith in the moral strength of the community I live in. For example, if I were murdered I have faith my community would pursue the investigation into my death and eventually prosecute the offender.
    Religion takes faith and ruins the concept. It puts rules, structures and other limitations on what is an otherwise personal expression. The fact that it attracts so many followers is because of the idea that people follow ideas. Instead of thinking up our own versions of explanations we simply choose to follow what everyone else thinks. This is part of the social construction of human communities.We like to stick together. It is far easier to live with someone that fight them.
    Therefore, going back to murder, certain morals are shared amongst communities. This undermines the religious monopoly on moral doctrine. Yes the Church preaches valuable and worthwhile morals that we could all live by. But how many of these morals can be attributed to our nature as pack animals. Wolves for example will not kill other members of the pack; because they know this will have a detrimental effect upon the pack as a whole. One more wolf is one more to help chase down prey and help the pack survive. The same applies to human communities. Everyone is useful.

    Religion is a social structure and an example of human evolution. The very fact that we can argue about the existence of a greater being should be celebrated as proof of our own extensive mental, physical, social cultural development. By working together in communities we have ensured a greater life for everyone involved.

  119. There are two ways to deductively prove the non-existence of God. First, by attempting to show that it is self-referentially incoherent in the same way that the concept of a married bachelor is, and second by showing that it is self evidently false by reason of a necessary deduction from facts which are themselves self-evident. If the concept of God necessarily involves a logical contradiction then it ceases to be cognitively meaningful, and therefore there is no logically possible world in which “God exists” can be interpreted to be true, just as there is no logically possible world in which a square-circle can instantiate. Second, one could try to prove from facts which are themselves self-evident, such as that an external world exists, or more probably that such a world involves instances of evil, that the proposition “God does not exist” is logically entailed by these.

    Apart from this, one could construct a probabilistic argument against God. For instance, although it is, in the simplest sense, axiomatic that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, absence of evidence CAN act as evidence of absence when and where the absence of evidence runs contrary to the predictions of the theory or postulate. For instance, as William Lane Craig has said before, consider the postulate that fairies exist: we might have expected to have run into them, or else encountered their corpses, homes, clothing, or what have you. Therefore, under certain conditions absence of evidence can be properly taken to be evidence of absence. This is the logic behind Victor Stenger’s argument from the absence of prayer’s observable efficacy. I am dealing with this argument, incidentally, for an upcoming post on my blog.

    Finally, I think that atheists have to be more sophisticated here than many fall into the trap of being. There are three kinds of atheists, to my mind: Agnostics who simply have no positive belief in a God (perhaps a child in infancy or a fly would qualify as this kind of agnostic), Strong or Positive Atheists who have come to believe rather strongly upon reflection that there is no such being as God, and finally non-cognitivists who argue that the proposition “God exists” is simply cognitively meaningless. One must decide which of the three they identify with, and if the second then they have as much burden to present the reasons for their rejection of the proposition as a theist has for offering reasons why they think the proposition is true.

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  122. josh says:

    Ultimately, you could not prove they could not fly though. If you push them off a cliff and they plummet to their death, the argument could still be made that they simply chose not to fly. It may seem unreasonable that they would make that choice, but it still leaves room for the possibility that they could have if they chose to. That is where the burden of proof would still fall on them, as they would have to prove they could fly, and you are unable to definitely prove the negative.

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