Ask an Atheist

As an atheist, there are a lot of times I get asked the same questions over and over. It’s a privilege to be asked, and I try to remember that every time I answer, even though the answer has been given over and over and over again. It’s a privilege because it means someone wants to engage with me, they want to hear me. So I do the only respectfully thing I can, which is give the most honest answer as directly as possible.

Questions:

Do you really not believe in God?

Yep, really. Having been a believer, I know it’s hard to accept that someone can truly not believe. Having been on both sides, I know it seems as-if there must be a motive, as-if the only reason to say you don’t believe is anger at God, to get attention, or as a form of masochism. I can say honestly, I’ve no doubt that God is a myth. And that’s not as far a stretch as you might think.  A Hindu child might ask you “Do you really think Vishnu isn’t real?”. You casually dismiss thousands of gods, from Quetzalcoatl (he was Aztec) to the Egyptian, Roman, Norse, Greek… god’s whom people gave their lives for (and killed for, I’m sorry to say). I suspect you dismiss the vast majority of them without a second thought. I just took the same critical eye I applied to Hinduism, Islam, and Viking traditions, and applied it to Christianity.[back]

Aren’t you sad, not believing in God.

Yeah, sometimes. I certainly don’t speak for all atheists here; Christopher Hitchens was thankful that there wasn’t a god. I love his work, but I think the fact he was glad that heaven and hell were just fairy tales shows a stunning lack of imagination on his part. I’d rather there was a god, a life beyond death, a balancing force against injustice. But wanting something to be true has no real bearing on the reality of it. I can’t make reality. Now if belief had no downside, then I’d chose to believe. But I think it’s wrong, the way every single Abrahamic religion treats people (like women–half the human population right there–, gays, and each other). It’s immoral to choose belief, to the suffering of others, simply for my own comfort and sense of security. Now, a number of atheists really, truly are fine without God. Me? I miss the senses comfort, confidence, and righteous empowerment.[back]

Did you ever believe in God?

A god, yes. I was raised loosely Protestant, but rebelled heavily against the teachings of Sunday school (worship was under the Baptist Minister Rev. Peter Gomes of Harvard University’s Memorial Church, whom I deeply respected). I found the scriptures to be nothing more than fairy-tails (most children do. They see through it, and I find that belief has to be browbeaten into them). I lost a great deal of respect for the institution of adulthood when I realized many adults believed. I was a strong deist in my youth, even proselytized the interconnectedness of all people to a higher purpose and power, and I felt that I could commune with this power. But observing the mutually exclusivity of so many faiths, observing the deep commitment of people with opposing views which rested, ultimately, on issues of faith, made belief difficult. 9/11 was a wake-up call for me. Say what you will of the hijackers, those men had unshakable faith. I realized I could no longer take anything on faith. It didn’t happen overnight, it took years, but finally I realized I’ve got no reason to believe. God has never spoken to me, so all I have is the word of other people, priests, ministers, and their books (which they tell me were written by god, but that’s their opinion. Certainly the books are fallible, and they are 2,000 years old). I saw no evidence for God, and if there were one, certainly no evidence Jerry Falwell, Pope Benedict, Rabbi Eckstein, Thomas S. Monson, Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi, or anybody else a direct line to Him or knows what He wants. Most religions combine those claims, but even if Falwell could convince me of God, doesn’t mean Falwell can speak for Him. [back]

But you do have faith. You have faith in your wife, faith in science, faith your car will start in the morning… Right?

I have absolutely no faith in my wife whatsoever… I mean that as a joke, but in all honesty, it’s true. I have knowledge in my wife. I have experience. Can you imagine, marrying on faith? You meet your wife and say “you look nice, I have faith you’re the woman for me, let’s get hitched!”  Most people with that kind of faith regret it, fast. We dated, I’ve observed and tested our relationship. I have evidence in the qualities of my wife, evidence my car will start, evidence in science. It’s tested, observed, and studied. To argue that someone has “faith” in science requires staggering ignorance of the difference between faith, reason, and evidence, and how they’re connected. Science isn’t perfect, but through it we’ve learned more about the natural world in the last 300 years than faith divined in the 10,000 years before that. I think that should mean something. If you can keep your “faith” in spite of that, you’re not engaging in self reflection, and that gets people hurt, or killed. You can learn more about the faith argument here. [back]

If you don’t believe, fine, but why do have to challenge the personal faith of others?

I have to admit, this question always surprises me. If you honestly put yourself in the shoes of an atheist, I think the a reason or two might present itself. Certainly most of us, if we saw a man who actually held slaves, would feel obligated to oppose him, even if he used religion to defend it. All the Abrahamic religions relegate women to second (a “cherished” second, but second none the less) class status. Homosexuals are, at best, shamed and ridiculed–sometimes to the point of suicide. If you believe religion to be false, I think we can all agree you’d be moral obligated to protest. I oppose theism because I believe that it must, a priori, repress people. The day the theist stops trying to tell people who they can love, who they can have sex with and in what position, whether or not they can use condoms to protect against disease and poverty, what books they can read, who they can marry… the day theisim stops doing that is the day I stop opposing theism; but that’s also the day theists stop being theists, and become deists. It is theism I oppose, which must by definition command people how to live on the authority of an invisible father figure who has apparently empowered some people to speak/interpret 2,000 year antidotes on his behalf. You can find out more about these distinctions here. [back]

Okay, but when was the last time someone killed in the name of Jesus Christ?

Well, the last time somebody died for Christianity can be measured with an egg timer. For killing, my standby for this is George W. Bush. An estimated 300,000 people died in the Iraq war. Did he do that in the name of Christianity? Well he told the Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Shaath and President Mahmoud Abbas that God told him to invade Iraq. He told French president Jacques Chirac the same thing (added that we were in the end times, and that “Grog and Magog [are] at work” in the middle east. Chirac had to consult a theologian to find out what the hell that meant, and was flabbergasted when it was explained to him). Bush told Bob Woodward that he had done “the lords will” by invading. So…. that’s a biggie. Iraq wasn’t behind 9/11, didn’t harbor terrorists, wasn’t committing genocide or mass slaughter (unlike Rwanda and Darfur)… And there can be no doubt that the Catholic prohibition on condoms kills people every day (they preach abstinence only in missions in Africa. So this, a church that can’t keep its priests from raping children, expects a man infected with aids to not have sex with his wife?). The best tool against the spread of AIDS, poverty, and starvation is the condom, but the church has deliberately (and successfully) kept that information from the people who need it most. The 1994 Rwandan genocide of 800,000 Tutsis was directed by Anglican and Catholic Bishops. The 2014 Ugandan law aimed at making homosexuality punishable by death (since blunted to life in prison, but seen as a warrant to kill homosexuals) came about as a direct result of proselytization by American fundamentalist evangelicals (among them Pastor Scott Lively, now on trial for of crimes against humanity). Fortunately, the bombings and killing of children in Ireland by Protestants and Catholics has subsided, but it’s not so far in the past that you can say Christianity hasn’t had its share of religious violence. And the defense I always hear to this is the same: “They’re not real Christians”, but they think they are, and the only arguments their wrong are either faith based (you’ve got the wrong god) or rational (which a theologian can’t make without opening himself to the same line of reasoning). The position that Christianity spreads ignorance, denial of science, homophobia, and repression of women to the point of causing real, measurable suffering and needless death is an eminently defensible position. [back]

Okay, but what about all the evidence?

Well, it really depends on what you call evidence. When I first went to colleges, I used the work of James Randi to pretend I was psychic; I had meant to do it for a whole semester, but my following got so devout, it wasn’t ethical–had to come clean after two weeks. Marjo Gortner, the Pentecostal preacher, documented how he faked it all, from talking in tongues, to the “miracles” he performed every night. The Hindi guru Sathya Sai Baba has performed thousands of miracles, including resurrection, in front of thousands of witnesses who you can ask about it–they are alive today; I’ve never found a Christian who bothers giving him a second look (they’re incredulous. I mean resurrection? In modern times? Really? Somehow there Christians know better. But just a few witnesses in a 2,000-year-old tome written form oral stories, pulled apart and cobbled together by people who wanted to convert you, kings with political agendas, people no less prone to exaggeration than any of us, and suddenly I’m unreasonable for not finding it credible?). Most Christians find Mormonism and Scientology to be obvious frauds, but “look at the evidence”. I can’t prove any miracles to be a hoax, but I do find it suspicious that they only occur when they can’t be documented, and in ways which a competent con man could reasonably fake (And if, in this modern age of YouTube and the internet, Sai Baba can convince a million people he’s God, imagine what his techniques can do before illiterate, superstitious, bronze age Jews who were already looking for someone to fill the role of Messiah). What I like about science is that it has rigid definitions for what they call “evidence”, it has to be documented, peer reviewed, and replicatable. And while it’s not perfect, it’s gotten more right, increased our understanding of the world, improved out knowledge more in the last 300 years, than religion did in the 10,000 years before it. Artificial Insulin has saved more lives than prayer. It just has, it’s just a fact. I call that evidence. [back]

But how can you have morals, how can you have laws, without a lawgiver?

Morality is innate, it’s in all of us. The golden rule can be understood by every five-year-old without needing to invoke a higher authority.  All social species, wolves, monkeys, dolphins, whales–all have clan like behavior, and rules for membership within social groups (and they excommunicate those who don’t follow the rules). It’s part of evolution, without it we’d not have become the dominant species on the planet.  Most species on the planet are capable of compassion, even of reciprocity (mice will help other wounded mice eat). But don’t believe me; look at the children of atheists who somehow restrain their “natural” urges to rape and kill everything in sight. They want to please their parents to partake in society. We don’t need a higher power to explain or defend it. You can read more here. [back]

But you can’t disprove God.

The atheist can’t disprove God, that’s true, but the theist can’t disprove Apollo, or Thor, or Poseidon either. That you can’t disprove something isn’t evidence for it. Bertrand Russel highlighted this by saying that he had placed a teapot in orbit around the sun, between us and Mars, and dared anyone to disprove him. No matter how hard someone tries, there’s an easy post-hoc defense (Can’t see it with a telescope? That’s because it’s too small. Even the Hubble can’t find it? Well it’s painted black. Can’t find a gravity field for it? Russel put a anti-gravitron-inator-majigi on it–see, that just proves how smart he was!). This kind of post-hoc explanations aren’t evidence, but it’s all I see in theism; layer upon layer of complex post-hoc answers to account for why, as we learn more about how the universe works, it simply doesn’t square with religion. And if you’re going to demand that other people live by “God’s” rules, whatever they may be, it’s actually not up to me to disprove God and your connection to him, but rather for you to prove it (even the most devout theist would demand “proof” if someone tried to make them live under the rules of the “wrong” god). A brief essay on the topic can be found here. [back]

Why do you hate god.

A number of people seem to think that the notion of “God” is so self evident and obvious that the only reason to not believe is because you’re mad at Him. But is this true? Are you mad at Thor, is that why you don’t believe in him? Are you mad at prophets like Joseph Smith and Muhammad? You must be mad at Allah, that’s why you don’t follow the Koran! Did Vishnu kill you’re dog, is that why you’re not Hindi? This is an intellectually dishonest question, like “do you still beat your wife”, where the anwser to the ultimate issue is baked into the question. [back]

Why are atheists always so smug?

I’m afraid there is some truth to this objection. Christopher Hitchens is the definition of the smug atheist, and a number of atheists I’ve met hold nothing but contempt—not just for religion, but for the people practicing it. Frankly, Hitchens is one of my favorites, he’s the guilty pleasure that you know you shouldn’t indulge in. But I none-the-less do believe that, over time, the better argument generally wins, and I believe I have the better argument. Smugness, condensation, these things don’t make me or my argument stronger, in fact they make it weaker. If I want to affect change, I need to do it openly and honestly, and giving the other side dignity and respect. And that respect means listening honestly to the other side, answering honestly when asked uncomfortable questions or ones to which I have no answer, and remembering I’m talking to a human being, having an open mind. That’s why, as much as I love Hitchens, I know that the most change is probably affected by people like Sam Harris and Daniel Dennit. But if you’re not an atheist, you may never have seen the flip side to that coin. A lot of theists I debate with can be pretty smug too, almost as much as the atheist. The question “Why do you hate God” is actually a rather smug one, denying my autonomy, suggesting that no rational human being could possibly not believe, not only in god, but in your God, and any claim to disbelief must be irrational. “I’ll pray for you” is the last line most theists give me before ending the conversation and walking off… What could be more smug than that? Certainly the theist doesn’t say it for the benefit of the atheist, he doesn’t care if you pray for him or not; it’s said by the theist as a dig, to assert his or her righteous indignation and moral superiority over the atheist (if you really would pray for the atheist, why tell him but to be smug?). [back]

Why do atheists always have to be so offensive?

Well, I’m sorry to say there’s truth to the charge. I’m not proud of it. Some atheists truly enjoy taunting and bullying theists. But it’s hardly exclusive to atheists–a lot of people do it. I must say too that I’ve seen some theists say some terrible things about (and to) homosexuals, and end many conversation with indignation and a righteous “I’ll pray for you!” But I find that many of the discussions are established in such a way that you can not engage without being offensive. Christians are so used to deferential treatment in this country, that challenging the status-quo becomes an aggression. As he lay dying of cancer, Christopher Hitchens noted that people would come up to him and say “you know, it’s not too late, you can still be saved,” and try to convert him. In our culture it’s practically considered rude not to do it. But imagine, he said, if atheists did the same thing; if they went around to hospitals, telling the dying “you know, you don’t have to live your last days a slave to fairy tales and myths. You can still die a free man”. It’s find for theists, (presumably concerned for my soul), to tell me I’m going to hell if I don’t listen to them, but to suggest that there is no god is truly offensive. And you can be framed in such a way that you must be uncourteous or prove a theist’s point (when someone, genuinely concerned for the health of my sick child, tells me they’re praying for me, I say “Thank You”. I say it for the same reason I do when I get plaid socks for Christmas, because it’s really the thought that counts. But half the time I get a smug, knowing smile back that says “See, now that you’re in trouble, you believe!” I must either say “Fuck off” and be truly, unnecessarily rude, or I can “prove” I secretly believe in God. Like deflecting unwanted advances from a paramour, theists often dare you to be rude to them. I can not say I’ve not seen my fair share of genuinely offensive behavior from atheists, and when I see it, I step in. But theists are often no better, and the deck is stacked against questioning the validity of peoples beliefs. [back]

Do you have religious friends? If so, do you think that they’re immoral for being theists?

I have religious friends. One of my best friends is a Greek Orthodox Priest, and most of the rest are Jewish. When you understand the nature of these denominations, you’ll see why we can get along—while I’ve some theistic objections to Judaism, they don’t proselytize, and they don’t try to force their laws on other people (with, I’m sorry to say, Palestine the exception. Security is a real issue for Israel, I know that. But the biggest problem is which god promised what land to whom. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, by a Jew, for giving away God’s land. If you take God out of it, we’d have had an equitable two state solution and an end to the utterly inhuman violence in the region decades ago). While I suspect that my Orthodox friend would like to see me join the orthodoxy, he always tries to be respectful of my beliefs, and I try to be of his. If a theist can be friends with a man damned to hell for apostasy, certainly I can be friends with someone who beliefs oppresses minorities. We look for the good in each-other, and let the rest play out. [back]

Why shouldn’t I be free to deny services to someone based on religious beliefs?

You should. I disagree with most of my liberal brothers and sisters on this issue. If you’re a public official you work for everybody, and you must apply the law, you’re not free to claim a religious objection to issuing marriage certificates—if you can’t follow your oath of office, get another job. But if you’re a private citizen, and you want to deny gays, blacks, Jews, from your restaurant… I’m sorry to say it, but I think you should be able to. I don’t think you should be able to outlaw bigotry. I recognize that without these laws, the civil rights movement would be a fraction of where it is, so in some extreme cases, maybe we really need them. But in the free market place of ideas, I don’t think bigotry can compete. Telling people that they have to serve minorities that they don’t want to breeds resentment, and strengthens their resolve, it drives them underground. It’s why we let the KKK spew their garbage. I like people with signs saying “we don’t serve Jews”, because then I know who the jerk in the room is, I know who to boycott. Boy scouts can deny gays, and so can Chick Filet.  If the theist can’t tell me who I can and can’t marry, I can’t tell him who he can and can’t serve. [back]

Shouldn’t you give your children all the options, let them decide for themselves.

Yes, of course. But is that really what most theists do? Do most Christians include alternate views, like the Hindu god Hanuman, when they teach their children values? Do they offer atheism as a legitimate choice to their children? It certainly hasn’t been my experience of theists. Indeed, I suspect if you presented all the major religions of the world, past and present (after all, you can’t disprove Anubis), impartially, most children wouldn’t believe any of them. When I explained the golden rule to my daughters, it clicked, they got it, made perfect sense (they need to be reminded to apply it sometimes, but they get and understand the concept, it’s intuitive). Explaining Abraham and Isaac to them? That’s a lot harder (heck, I’ve had no shortage of people dying to explain it to me. None of them agree, and none of the explanations have been satisfactory). It seems to me that most children understand principals like the golden rule, but rebel against theistic teachings, they naturally question them. These children are then indoctrinated, browbeaten into submission, forced to take it on “faith”. If theists actually let children think and question, decide for themselves, didn’t press “faith” onto them, we’d have a country of atheists. So when an unctuous theist, fearing for my child’s immortal soul, says “I think children are really smart, and you should give them all the options” I can say, “I do. Do you?” [back]

If there where a Christian god, what would you tell him when you die?

Well, Steven Fry had the most audacious answer I’ve seen (I’m told that the interviewer, Gay Byrne, needed several months of therapy after the interview. I’m sorry, but his look is priceless). But for me? Well, I’d apologize, clearly I screwed up. Presumably god would know I was sorry, I wouldn’t have to tell him, but I’d do it anyway. I wouldn’t defend myself, though, I think it would be a waste of breath, both because he knows my defense, and because I acted with the best of intentions. He constructed me in such a way that I could not see evidence, and would not believe without it. I can’t understand making your creation one way, then punishing it for being as you made it, but… At any rate I’m comforted by the fact that this is the least likely scenario. The most likely scenario is that we don’t have consciousness or free will (it’s an illusion) and when we die, that’s it. A very close second is that whatever happens to us after death is so infinitely different than what we know now it’s silly to even bother thinking about it (take the difference in understanding of the universe between an ant and you, multiply that by orders of magnitude upon magnitude, and you’re still probably not approaching how different the afterlife would be from this one). If there’s an all-powerful god, that he’s as mundane as the Christian bible would have him, would be utterly mind boggling (though admittedly probably not my first concern upon meeting him). [back]

Wouldn’t you rather error on the side of caution when it comes to belief?

Well, that supposes that you know which side is the cautious one. I’m a white male, so admittedly I make out like a bandit in Christianity, but it’s not so good for other people. I mean, should I really subjugate women (and Christianity does this, make no mistake. They’re second class citizens), a whole half of the human species, so that I don’t go to hell? That’s quite opposite my moral intuition; in fact I think it’s immoral and selfish, if I’m to be honest. What’s more, is there a single religion in the world, from the human sacrificing Aztecs, to ISIS and Mormonism, that cant’–indeed doesn’t–make the exact same argument? I mean, a true Islamist will offer you the chance to spare yourself hell by converting to Allah… Would you accept? I mean we’re back to the original argument–there are tens of thousands of sects of different religions… which god is the right one? This is actually Pascals Wager, and it strikes me as an inherently immoral, false, and self defeating argument. [back]

 

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Raymond BabbittMark WalsdorfGeorge CopenN Lamar SoutterVern Vilo Recent comment authors
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Raymond Babbitt
Commenter

“My God”

People — what have you done —
locked Him in His golden cage.
Made Him bend to your religion —
Him resurrected from the grave.
He is the god of nothing —
if that’s all that you can see.
You are the god of everything —
He’s inside you and me.
So lean upon Him gently
and don’t call on Him to save you
from your social graces
and the sins you used to waive.
The bloody Church of England —
in chains of history —
requests your earthly presence at
the vicarage for tea.
And the graven image you-know-who —
with His plastic crucifix —
he’s got him fixed —
confuses me as to who and where and why —
as to how he gets his kicks.
Confessing to the endless sin —
the endless whining sounds.
You’ll be praying till next Thursday to
all the gods that you can count. “

Mark Walsdorf
Commenter

Spreading the gospel of Jethro !

Raymond Babbitt
Commenter

He he.

Raymond Babbitt
Commenter

Hey, uh, we may need a sabbatical soon, before I return to work full time and before the nights get cold as Mars. In the form of camping, with our new tent trailer, with acoustic guitars, mandolins, beer, food, etc. Wayne has may number. Talk soon.

Raymond Babbitt
Commenter

Mark Walsdorf — I”m serious. The wife has weekend stuff planned this next weekend and the following. My thought is to take out the new rig with buddies and have fun, albeit slightly sober and not loud, but to buzz and share music, stars, planets and food — and local history. I’ll copy to Wayne and Ron and Brad.

George Copen
Commenter

I understand your article and as stated..” a theory”. I don’t understand how you can buy into “opinions”.

George Copen
Commenter

A man said that…not a religious group.

Vern Vilo
Commenter

The sad thing for athiests to me is there will be no justice for all the atrocities in the history of mankind. If someone kidnaps an athiests daughter, rapes and tortures her and dumps the body and never gets caught then that’s just life. OH WELL!!!

Brandon McWha
Commenter

That’s what prison is for. If you’re so sure that hell exists, why bother having a prison system??

Vern Vilo
Commenter

Did you not read my comment. Many criminals never get caught. LOL

Vern Vilo
Commenter

Lamar you referee to terrorists of today praying before they bomb innocent people. FYI muslims do not pray to Jesus, they don’t recognize him as anything mor than mortal man. So to insinuate they were praying to Jesus is ridiculous.

Vern Vilo
Commenter

As far as beliefs hurting other people you seem to assume athiests don’t harm anyone. Evil exists in every walk of life. You like to dismiss the atrocities of atheistic dictators in history with one excuse or another.

Brandon McWha
Commenter

Right and wrong are subjective social constructs created by humans to facilitate society. WE make the rules. WE enforce them. If someone escapes justice, that’s OUR failure. Hell is just an imaginary punishment to make religious people feel better about the fact that some people escape punishment. “That murderer got away with it!” “Don’t worry. My imaginary friend will punish him when he dies.” It’s just a placebo.

Vern Vilo
Commenter

Morals are not subjective Brandon, if they were it would be anything goes. Subjectivity is opinion based, look it up in the dictionary. Is it just an opinion that rape is wrong or is it fact? Morals cannot be left to the opinion of man, there has to be a moral standard. Subjectivity has no standard. If evolution is supposed to pass on the favorable traits from one generation to the next why are humans so destructive?

Duane Fulton
Commenter

Actually, life is not some great mystery that is beyond human comprehension. The creation of living matter from seven, sterile, inert gases is simple to produce. These gases are found throughout the universe. Combine these gases in a life supporting environment, or planet, expose it to UV light, “a sun” and it breakes the gases down. The gases re combine, and you get life. This was first done in 1952 at Cornell University.

George Copen
Commenter

Sure would like to see your link…they found out the “life” they produced was a contamination in their experiment. Just where did you get the gases and proper environment…

Duane Fulton
Commenter

George Copen No, not contamination, of course they are gonna say thai. Just look it up if interested.

George Copen
Commenter

I know all about the experiment. The experiment has been tried many times with no results. The conclusion is that the contamination was human skin cells,. The skin cells are of the same composition as the amino acids that were produced. THE experiment NEVER produced life.

George Copen
Commenter

N Lamar Soutter Where did the simple chemicals come from???

Duane Fulton
Commenter

George Copen Where did the chemicals come from? probably Walmart. I doubt that the experiment was contaminated EVERY time, scientists aren’t that careless. Religion will always dispute science unless science agrees with what religion teaches, then science is OK. It doesn’t matter much anyway either way.

George Copen
Commenter

It was only contaminated the first time. They were never able to reproduce the same results. PS, they did not start out with simple gases. They set the table with gas molecules also..e.g.CH4.

Duane Fulton
Commenter

I’ll bet religion had a LOT of trouble trying to explain away the first airplane.

Brandon McWha
Commenter

Pretty much. Yes. If you understand what energy is, how it works, and that EVERYTHING is composed of it, you don’t need archaic superstition to explain life.

George Copen
Commenter

Again..where did you get this energy source…Maybe you can explain this “process”.

Brandon McWha
Commenter

Energy is neither created nor destroyed. It simply changes form. Therefore it has always existed, and always will exist. Once again, if you understand what energy is, you don’t require an imaginary explanation.

Vern Vilo
Commenter

Energy has not always existed, it’s not eternal.

Brandon McWha
Commenter

Prove it.

Brandon McWha
Commenter

You can’t make something out of nothing, and there is literally no such thing as nothing. The closest you can get to nothing is pure energy.

Vern Vilo
Commenter

The universe is not infinite, your science proved it had a beginning.

Brandon McWha
Commenter

Science proves the universe as we know it had a beginning. It hasn’t proven whether or not anything existed before that.

George Copen
Commenter

Our know universe is expanding outward at the speed of light and has been. Expanding into what??? God says there are things we may never know, certainly things we don’t know now.

Brandon McWha
Commenter

Yes. There are things we will never know. When presented with information that can neither be refuted nor confirmed, we must pragmatically assume it is untrue until proven otherwise. If we must believe in the existence of God on nothing more than the possibilty that he may exist, we must believe in every god ever to be worshipped throughout human history for the same reason. This would, of course, be ludicrous. Pragmatically, we doubt the existence of anything that cannot be reasonably supported by evidence. The existence of any god is unsupported by any evidence. Therefore, there is no justifiable reason to assume one exists.

Vern Vilo
Commenter

Now you’re changing your story, first our universe is infinite now you say it may as well be. What stuff is almost certainly outside of the universe?

Brandon McWha
Commenter

ENERGY is infinite. At no point did I say the universe was infinite.

Vern Vilo
Commenter

Energy is not infinite. It does not last forever it eventually weakens and dissipates.

George Copen
Commenter

2nd law of thermodynamics…ENTROPY…becomes unusable for work( to paraphrase)

Brandon McWha
Commenter

Energy is neither created, nor destroyed. It simply changes form.

Vern Vilo
Commenter

No Brandon it eventually dissapates, it cannot last forever. Science proves this. Energy is created everyday by utilizing fuel but cannot sustain itself.

Vern Vilo
Commenter

If it’s unusable you cannot make the claim it created the universe. Energy cannot be infinite (limitless by definition) if it can become unusable so you are defeating your own argument.

Vern Vilo
Commenter

Why make absolute statements if you’re in the weeds? Athiests believe in an uncaused first cause just like Christians. They believe nothing caused this first cause. Athiests believe evolution is the origin of life with an entity that has no intelligence making millions or more choices to get us to where we are today. Athiests rely on an invisible unintelligent cause to give us emotions, consciousness and the ability to think and reason. How can something that doesn’t posses these qualities give them to anything or anyone? What makes more logical sense, someone that possesses these qualities passes them on to us or absolutely nothing or nobody passes these qualities on to us? It takes more faith to be an athiest than it does to believe in God.

Vern Vilo
Commenter

I was referring to Brandon’s comment on energy. FYI there is no way to see outside of our universe so to even bring up multiverses is moot. Scientists realize that all their theories are systematically being disproved and have to go even farther to deny Gods existence. Science can explain how something works but it can’t explain why it works in a particular way. Gravity for example, science can explain how it works but not why it’s here to begin with. Why is gravity just right to support life on earth? My point to all this goes back to Brandons comment about an imaginary friend. Athiests have to believe in who knows how many illions of decisions made by an intangible entity called natural selection. Natural selection cannot possess emotion, consciousness or the ability to think and reason but somehow magically passes these traits on through the process of evolution? When you step back and look at everything an athiest has to believe in to get to where we are today what gives guys like Brandon the right to ridicule Christians? It takes way more faith to be an athiest than it does to believe in God.

Brandon McWha
Commenter

Scientist’s theories are not being dispoved. If you think I’m wrong. Prove it. EVERY piece of technology we use, including the device you are currently using to post here, is created using scientific theory as its foundation. If these theories are wrong, the tech wouldn’t work. Gravity is a theory. Mathmatics is theory. All scientific information we use is based on scientific theory. Scientific theory is not just arbitrary guessing. It is coming to a conclusion based on the evidence available, and testing and retesting that theory in an attemp to prove it wrong. Science questions itself with scrutiny. As for your arguement that intelligence could only be created by an intelligent being. In that case an intelligent God must also have been created by an intelligent being, and that being must have been created by yet another, and so on. To claim that an intelligent being like god didn’t require a creator makes your assertion a contradiction. Whatever caused the creation of the universe we lived in does not require intelligence, nor does it mean that nothing existed prior to what now exists. Even if it was nothing more than pure energy. You have demonstrated in your comments that you have little to no understanding of basic science, logic, or philosophy. So I’m leaving this arguement because it’s like trying to explain to a monkey how a cigarette light… Read more »

Vern Vilo
Commenter

Leaving a conversation is admitting defeat. I never said all theories are being disproved just the ones about evolution. It’s funny that you an athiest just admitted our universe was created. If it was created it has a creator. Have a good day Brandon.

George Copen
Commenter

Do you really believe the theory of evolution?? That life evolved by…very small , random changes..over a very long period of time…that leads to greater survivability..???

George Copen
Commenter

Absolutely…can’t possibly happen that way.

George Copen
Commenter

Need 5 basic functions for life…a method to obtain food( mouth, adsorption)…a method to digest food…a method to obtain energy from the digested food…a method to eliminate waste.. and a method to procreate…MUST have ALL at the “same time” or cease to exist. IF you eliminate just one process…dead and the process ceases. The actual processes are so much more complicated. Which of the 5 would you eliminate?? The key is small change..long period of time…survivability.

Vern Vilo
Commenter

Patterns, wealth and jobs do not consist of matter. Our universe is full of created matter. Instead of asking me to take a break why not tell people like Brandon to keep it civil. Just because I believe in God doesn’t give him the right to ridicule me. I made some very valid points about athiests and their beliefs and he couldn’t handle it. Why do athiests get so angry? What makes them so bitter when someone disagrees with them? If you want me to leave you alone just say so and I’ll forget you exist.

Brandon McWha
Commenter

To clarify: I did not call Vern a monkey. I likened the conversation with him to explaining the function of a cigarette lighter to a monkey. He has about as much understanding of scientific theory, and philosophical debate as a monkey has of the operation of a lighter. No matter how much you explain to a monkey how a lighter works, you are wasting your breath because it cannot comprehend the idea within its limited understanding. Arguing with someone about scientific theory who is unable to grasp the definition of the word is just as futile.

Brandon McWha
Commenter

Exactly. This whole topic is so broad and complex that it would take volumes to explain it to someone who doesn’t understand even the basics. I get that lots of people don’t know much about the sciences, but if you’re going to have a debate about it, you need to at least have some grasp of the basics at a highschool level.

Brandon McWha
Commenter

Well, I guess that was insulting in that light. That wasn’t my intention, so I do apologize for that.

George Copen
Commenter

N Lamar Soutter Didn’t mention God…steps won’t get everything needed to sustain life…MUST have the 6 mentioned at the same time..miss one and that’s the end. They may not need to be perfect BUT they do need to be functional. Just consider the eye and the many complex elements to make it functional and to increase surviviibility. Show me a step that you can survive without food, digestion, procreation…etc. So..which of the 6 can you survive without.

George Copen
Commenter

IF you read my post, go back and look, I started out with 5 and in the post added a 6th. Take your choice…The conclusion, Intelligent Design…not an accident. Glad if your wife can help you out.

George Copen
Commenter

I have no problem saying Gods creation..use this method to try and get people to think, If you mention God in the beginning they shut down. Good night…

George Copen
Commenter

A few things…the non-living RNA becoming living organisms is a very,very big leap from nothing. AND they all combine at the same time to complete the necessary functions for life..They can’t just add on until a complete function is completed. If independence is separated by time the life form has died. Not sure how you introduce natural selection into the formula, natural selection assumes you have competing forms. Nucleaic acids came from where..you just introduced them into the atmosphere with some energy source, I’m sure the chemical reaction have become very, very more complex to the point they can’t be shown to every have occurred even in the lab.. BUT…if that’s your belief..so be it. Then you must get from RNA to DNA, the building blocks of all organic life.

George Copen
Commenter

You desire to see proof of God…you can’t see God but you can see convincing evidence. Prophecy from the Bible. There are many that were fulfilled hundreds years after documented,,,BUT, lets just look at the existing nation of Israel. Foretold in Ezekiel chapter 37 and being fulfilled today. The” valley of dry bones” in chapter 37. God told Ezekiel that the complete nation of Israel would come to life and be comprised of both Israel(10 northern tribes) and Judah( 2 southern tribes). This was accomplished by the UN in 1948. Israel had not been a nation since the death of Solomon.

Brandon McWha
Commenter

The Bible doesn’t prove God exists. Even if you could prove that a God-like entity came to this planet, and did all the things the Bible claims it did. You still have no proof it was the creator of the universe. At best, you have a technologically advanced alien that conned people into worshipping it. Or, how do you know it wasn’t Satan?? If I were the enemy of God, and wanted people to worship me, the easiest way would be to convince people I was God. That would explain why the Old Testament God was such a raging, genocidal maniac. If a God-like being appeared before you right now claiming to be the God you worship, you have no way of knowing if it’s telling you the truth, or lying. Likewise, the people who spoke to God in the Bible wouldn’t know either. Perhaps the Devil is God in disguise scaring you into doing what he wants you to do. Before you say ” God wouldn’t do that.” let me remind you that the Bible says he commited an act of pangenocide killing every living thing on the planet that couldn’t swim except and handful of people and animals on a boat. I don’t know if a god exists. Until one shows itself to me, I have no reason to believe in it. But even if THAT God did… Read more »

George Copen
Commenter

An interesting story…the timing element always missing is AT the same time.

George Copen
Commenter

Don’t know where you get 6,000 years. God doesn’t say…Mars backwards???

George Copen
Commenter

You call it ignorance to believe that God created..I call it ignorant to the believe inorganic chemical can react and form organic life forms. Can you discuss God in prophecy..the nation of Israel today??

George Copen
Commenter

Ps..I’m not dogmatic about the 6K years aargument.

George Copen
Commenter

In reality the article was just an opinion.

George Copen
Commenter

I told you exactly what I believe the article represented…I ask you some question concerning the article that weren’t satisfied. I understand the many and complex assumptions that were made. I don’t believe them credible. The topic about God’s credibility lies in the prophecy of the nation of Israel.

George Copen
Commenter

Make sure you diagram the complex chemical formulas “If life did evolve in alkaline hydrothermal vents, it might have happened something like this”: Might notice the “if” and “might”

1.

George Copen
Commenter

But if life evolved from chemicals it is NOT nessisary for all 5 to have evolved simultaneously. All of these things you’re talking about are chemical reactions, which became more and more complicated until capable of performing sufficient tasks for life. “”

George Copen
Commenter

The complex chemical reaction required but not formulated…the actual demonstration of RNA from chemicals..the the generation of DNA

Vern Vilo
Commenter

Lamar if one of your girls was dying and science couldn’t save her would you just accept it or would you pray to God. I don’t need a big explanation about acknowledging God or which God just please give me a simple answer.

George Copen
Commenter

Got an article that they have actually produced RNA…You can postulate all the theories you want…some actual proof would be great. Your time frame theories fail the test also.

George Copen
Commenter

PS..I didn’t ask you to show me..however, IF all of the theories could prove out….a lot of maybes..sure. Enough maybes and anything could happen. You’r correct I don’t know ALL of the assumption, BUT I realize enough to know that they;re not valid.

George Copen
Commenter

Seems you are being intellectually convenient……

Vern Vilo
Commenter

There’s the insults again Lamar (little “g”). Why couldn’t you just say no? If you would pray to a higher power to save your daughter why not pray to that same higher power to reveal the truth to you?

George Copen
Commenter

N Lamar Soutter We can continue and go through a Q&A. We can keep it simple that I won’t be confused. You will not be expansive to not over power me. …ASSUMING that you can generate RNA through chemical reaction..what is the role of RNA in the generation of the life form.

George Copen
Commenter

Just when it was going to get very interesting.. You continue to ask me if I understand your article..by questions I was going to determine if you really understood.

George Copen
Commenter

AND regardless of having no “starting material”…life was produced and evolved over a very long period of time …by small random changes … to improve survivability.

George Copen
Commenter

As an atheist you must believe that life is just an accident…

Lynn Warren
Commenter

the subject never came up in our house….we never were religious and the kids had no great desire to go to church or temple or whatever…i assume that they have developed their own belief system as the topic never seems to come up…

Raymond Babbitt
Commenter

Plus: TRUTH is on OUR side — not ours and definitely on your harmful, murderous followers.

Dennis Willett
Commenter

Religion can and has been used as a weapon for centuries; the most effective weapon the human race has ever created.

Dennis Willett
Commenter

I have been on both sides, that is very true. The ability to question, measure, doubt and wonder is how the first foundation (christianity) failed.

Dennis Willett
Commenter

I am still tugging on ‘it’ quite a bit and am actually somewhat angry at all the time, resources and effort wasted on Christianity. The very short version is a discussion with my Jehovah’s Witness uncle prying into my sex life (I was 57 at the time) and he was demanding I interfere with my married sister’s sex life (she was 55 at the time). Some time prior a cousin had told about his showing up on peoples doorsteps and doing this years ago, but at the time I took it as nonsense, otherwise I would have considered it a function of his age. I am reasonably well educated and shortly after I had a ‘moment of truth’ where it all came crashing down. The longer version deals with events before I was born, and I am still working parts of that out; my mother’s older sister was JW, my mother used the Baptist Church as her personal pedestal and weapon and did a lot of damage from there.

Raymond Babbitt
Commenter

“God is a concept… by which… we measure.. our pain…” –John Lennon, 1970

Raymond Babbitt
Commenter

Dennis Willett He sounds like a pervert, your uncle. Perhaps, sadly, someone seriously undersexed because of religious repression and oppression. He deserves freedom from religion so he can celebrate being a human. For his next birthday you should anonymously hire a stripper to show up at his house — and make sure your aunt’s away at the time.

Raymond Babbitt
Commenter

Atheists aren’t smug — we are just more intelligent and educated.

Ord Frazier II
Commenter

Because we’re right and they’re wrong. The end. *hehehe* Besides, NO ONE knows anything about this for certain, so the best stance is to simply say “I don’t know.” Because no one does.

Terry Welling
Commenter

Atheists / agnostics Smug??? Have you seen the mega Americas churches ????? http://hirr.hartsem.edu/megachurch/database.html