An honest atheist

Crispin SartwellJust as religious people have often offloaded the burden of their choices on church dogma, so some atheists are equally willing to offload their beliefs on “reason” or “science” without acknowledging that they are making a bold intellectual commitment about the nature of the universe, and making it with utterly insufficient data.

–Crispin Sartwell
Irrational Atheism: Not Believing in God Isn’t Always Based
on Reasoned Arguments And That’s OK.

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4 thoughts on “An honest atheist

    • Did you think that evolution is a seamless theory with all the questions answered and all the gaps filled in? There are gaps huge enough to drive a herd of dinosaurs through, and many scientists have become honest enough to admit it. If you are interested I can provide you with quotes.

      Philosopher David Berlinski writes: “Has anyone provided proof of God’s inexistence? Not even close. Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here? Not even close. Have our sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life? Not even close. Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought? Close enough. Has rationalism and moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral? Not close enough. Has secularism in the terrible 20th century been a force for good? Not even close, to being close. Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy in the sciences? Close enough. Does anything in the sciences or their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational? Not even in the ball park. Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt? Dead on.”

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      • It doesn’t surprise me that you cannot describe “sufficient data”, Jorge. Again, science predicts reality accurately. How is this relying in “insufficient evidence” when science works? It’s always amusing to see Christians make claims like this. You love science as long as it makes you comy but oh, when it shows your claims to be wrong, and that you aren’t the special snowflake you think you are, then you attack the same science that you happily use otherwise. Isn’t hypocrisy fun!

        I do not think that evolutionary theory is seamless. Evolutionary theory doesn’t claim it’s seamless either, nor do the scientists who do research in the field. Evolutionary theory does predict what we see and have seen, the hallmark of a very good theory, just like how the theory of gravity predicts what we see and have seen. Now, are you sure that the theory of gravity doesn’t work either? Or is it only theories that show your religion wrong that you attack out of ignorance?

        Your argument is no more than the god of the gaps argument, desperately trying to claim that the theory is wrong because we don’t know all of the answers *yet*. Even if we never find all of the answers, we have enough to have constructed a theory that predicts and explains what goes on in how living things change in response to environment.

        What are these “gaps huge enough to drive a herd of dinosaurs through”, Jorge? I know evolutionary theory quite well and am not aware of these. You can tell me what they are, right? Please provide these quotes you promise. I wonder, how many of those quotes will be taken out of context. It’s so easy to find how Christians try to quote-mine actual scientists. Google is very good at that. I have also seen the rather pathetic lists of scientists who creationists trot out as evidence against evolutionary theory. Quite a list of scientists who don’t actually study evolution or who are dead. It’s rather like taking your child to a car mechanic or your car to a pediatrician. Sure, they may have an opinion but they can’t support it nor would you have reason to trust them.

        Ah, a quote from David Berlinski, a senior fellow with the very Christian Discovery Institute (full of those “cdesign proponentsists” you know), as well as a philosopher. We have plenty of evidence that none of the essential events of the bible happened, and other things did. Let me ask you, Jorge, what year did the biblical flood happen? When did the exodus happen? The Tower of Babel? The resurrection of Christ? If these events cannot be shown to have happened, then there is little reason to believe in the god of the bible. One can postulate a god that is vague and has no attributes but that isn’t your god, is it?

        So, yes, people have provided plenty of evidence demonstrating that your god doesn’t exist, showing Berlinski to be depending on his own willful ignorance. Quantum mechanics has given a good explanation of how the universe may have started. Your religion is one of thousands who claim that some god started it. And of course, none of you have any evidence of this, each religion using the same “reasons” as the next e.g. “look around it has to have been *my* god . How about some evidence showing its your god and not some other religion’s, Jorge?

        And oh, the “fine-tuning” argument. To paraphrase, it’s like a puddle saying how wonderful that the depression it is in is “fine-tuned” for it. We are shaped by the universe, it is not shaped for us. Considering that most of the earth is inimical to human life, that most of the universe is inimical to human life, there is little reason to think that anything is “fine-tuned” for humanity or “life”. Life fits with the laws that exist, not the other way around.

        It’s great to see outright lies that Berlinski tells like “Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought? Close enough.” Wow, nothing like a good strawman to attack, is there. Physicists and biologists want evidence. Do you have any for your god, Jorge? You don’t believe in other gods; why is that, Jorge? Is it that there is no evidence for them?
        Rationalism and moral thought have certainly provided us with an understanding with what is considered good and right. Those things have gone a lot farther than what the bible says is “good” and “right”. Let me ask you Jorge, do you believe that slavery is wrong? If so, where did you get that idea? Not from the bible. It says the exact opposite. If you got an idea that wasn’t from the bible and you can’t show came from your god, where did it comes from? Secularism has been a force for good in the 20th century. It is a shame that it seems that you and Mr. Berlinski are ignorant on what “secularism” means: the separation of church and state. The separation of church and state has allowed the US to thrive, and not require everyone to worship the same religion. I am sure that you wouldn’t want anyone to tell you how to worship, right? Secularism killed the idea of the divine right of kings. It keeps religions from being destroyed by other religions. No pogroms of one religion against another, no Protestants and Catholics burning each other alive, etc.

        Now, I am thinking that in your ignorance, you want to claim that Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot , etc were “secular” and they were not. They were megalomaniacs who set themselves up like gods. Ones belief in a god or lack thereof is no predictor of how good and decent a human being is or will be. And aw, the “terrible 20th century”. Shucks, I guess you and Dave don’t want antibiotics, or vaccines, or c-limbs or computers or cars or modern food stuffs, etc. Such hypocrisy spewing forth. Why is it that when someone whines about the 20th century, they are using all of its accoutrements and not living in a mud hut dying of all of the diseases that used to kill millions?

        Where is this “narrow and oppressive orthodoxy in the sciences”, Jorge? That’s just one more lie that Berlinski tells. Science requires evidence that something is true and that things work. Berlinski’s complaint is that his claims aren’t accepted without evidence, evidence he would require in every other aspect of his life.

        The claims made by theists are irrational if they cannot be supported by evidence, no more rational than believing that a jolly old elf fits down chimneys and delivers presents. Again, there is no evidence of your god or any other. There has not once been someone who has been able to point to some event and provide evidence that it was supernatural. There is no more reason to believe your religion’s claims of miracles than any other religion’s because there is no evidence. But do tell me, do you believe in the claims of miracles done by Allah? The goddess of the Wiccans? The gods of the shamans in African countries? If not, why not? If you don’t, then you know exactly why I don’t believe in your claims.

        It’s so cute to see Berlinski again speak nonsense when he says “Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt? Dead on.” Indeed, what is intellectual contempt? Is it just a man who is angry that no one accepts is claims when he cannot support them? In that there is no evidence to support your god or any gods, then atheism is a conclusion based on the available evidence. I am quite willing to consider any evidence you have, Jorge. What is it? I was a Christian, a Presbyterian. I know the bible quite well. I also know other religions well. And, I know a fair amount of the sciences, especially geology. I’m willing to look at what you have and consider it. Are you willing to consider evidence that goes against what you have been taught to believe? What would be “sufficient data” for you?

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  1. Well, I sure pushed your button, didn’t I?

    Quite an outburst. Why are you so angry? So insulting? So intolerant and judgmental of a viewpoint that differs from your own?

    Mockery and insults are the tools of those who do not have good arguments. You might consider having a civil discussion.

    If you can manage to simmer down a bit, you might consider the following quote from Professor James M. Tour, one of the ten most cited chemists in the world.

    “Although most scientists leave few stones unturned in their quest to discern mechanisms before wholeheartedly accepting them, when it comes to the often gross extrapolations between observations and conclusions on macroevolution, scientists, it seems to me, permit unhealthy leeway. When hearing such extrapolations in the academy, when will we cry out, “The emperor has no clothes!”?”

    “…I simply do not understand, chemically, how macroevolution could have happened. Hence, am I not free to join the ranks of the skeptical and to sign such a statement without reprisals from those that disagree with me? … Does anyone understand the chemical details behind macroevolution? If so, I would like to sit with that person and be taught, so I invite them to meet with me.”

    Dr. Tour seems to be referring to “insufficient data.”

    Perhaps you can clear up the mystery and provide us with the chemical details behind macroevolution?

    And just for the record, Berlinski is not a Christian. He’s a secular Jew.

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