Thursday, March 17, 2005

Atheism is wrong and dangerous

Originally posted by The Realist

On the rare occasions that this pops up as a topic of conversation in the real world and people ask me ‘what I am’ {shudders}, I never say that I am an atheist. This is a label applied by religious people dating back to the Romans and the Greeks. The point being that it has negative connotations. It is a label which causes believers to instinctively ask ‘What?!? You don’t believe in God?!?!’ – as if such a thing is possible! When this happens, of course, you need to be quick off the mark and get in the question ‘you believe there is a god?!!’ – putting the onus on the believer to justify their fact-impaired faith.

There are no such things as faeries, pixies, elves and monsters, rather everything around us can be explained rationally and clearly by scientific, reasoned thought. For things which cannot (yet) be comprehensively explained by science, there is usually a religious theory and a scientific theory (big bang is a case in point). Take a step back and see which is the most likely theory that applies. It's never the religious one. But (and this is the important part, kids) the world around us is no less beautiful for that.

30 comments:

DB said...

My problem isn't with 'god' its with religion. I don't like to refer to myself an athiest because I know its not true. Deep down I kinda believe that, well, theres gotta be 'something' out there behind this whole shabang. I just have no desire to worship it each Sunday and follow the ridicolous rules 'it' supposdly layed down.

DB said...

Oh and one thing science doesnt appear to have a theory for. What caused the big bang? What came before the big bang? Who/what put the little bit of ultra-ultra condensed matter there in the first place?

Anonymous said...

Dear db,
'what came before the Big Bang?, nothing! There is no 'before' as this is a temporal concept. 'Time' itself does not begin untill the Big Bang. xxoo GER

Citizen Sane said...

You're right db. Nothing can answer that question. But the limits to our understanding shouldn't just mean acceptance of an all-encompassing religious or supernatural explanation should it? After all, it wasn't that long ago in human terms that we didn't understand thunder. Vikings thought it was Thor throwing his hammers around. Nobody now believes this. Although having ever read some of the crap new world creationists still believe in, it wouldn't surprise me if somebody, somewhere, did.

DB said...

Thanks for clearing that up GER..:P

Im just explaining the fact that though I reject religion and dislike intensely a good portion of those who practise one I can't in good faith call myself an atheist. Hrrm I believe I'm an agnostic or whatever.

'Course eventually we'll find that in the future we invent time travel and travel all the way back to the beginning and create the big bang ourselves. Man is God QED, bow before me puny mortals.

sparx said...

I know a couple of faeries, Bjork is definitely a pixie, Cate Blanchett was a superb elf and the world has monsters everywhere, often in charge.
Can't think of any gods that I know exist at the moment. Unless you include Valentino Rossi.

simon said...

Or how about where there is no convincing theory either way? Creationism versus evolution being a good example. What happens then?

The Realist said...

Hi Simon, thanks for dropping by - the answer to that is simple (and, I think, mentioned in the post) Where something is just a theory, there is a simple solution. Take a step back, take your religous-tinted spectacles off for a second and see which is the most plausible possibility. In this case, it's evolution.

Citizen Sane said...

"Or how about where there is no convincing theory either way? Creationism versus evolution being a good example. What happens then?"

I don't think that IS a good example, Simon. Evolution is a testable hypothesis, based on empirically gathered information. It may only be a theory, but it's a damn convincing one. Moreover, there are credible examples of the reality of evolution all around us. Creationism, meanwhile, is just a fantasy.

simon said...

Still can't agree, I'm afraid. I'm not religious at all but there is no empirical information/evidence at all to support evolution. Credible examples? For every one of yours I could produce one which fails to fit. Explain the contradictions to me and I might just be persuaded. I am no creationist but both theories seem to me to be faith based. Show me the evidence, reproduce it an a laboratory, explain the mechanisms involved. Convince me.

The Realist said...

Simon - couldn't agree with you more. You rightly point out that there is a degree of faith involved in both of these theories but, as I suggest, take a step back and think (for yourself) which is the most plausible.

simon said...

That's exactly my point. Neither seems to fit. Although I was certainly predisposed to accepting the evolution theory, the more I thought about it, for myself, the less sense it seemed to make. My problem is that I genuinely don't know and assigning degrees of plausibility to two theories, both of which I have trouble accepting, is not going to make me any the wiser.

I realise I'm being particulary harsh here but how can you base a scientific appraisal of a theory on plausibility which is, after all, a subjective assessment of the possible?

Yours, in knots and none the wiser!

Citizen Sane said...

Credible examples? OK, let's look at some really simple ones. The creationist argument holds that we were designed by god, a higher being, call it what you will. In which case, why have humans changed shape and features over the years? If we were created by a blue print, how and why have we deviated from that design? And we have, havn't we? Unless you are suggesting that wisdom teeth, the coccyx and the appendix don't exist. All are relics from a bygone era that we just no longer need. Why? Because we have developed lives and diets that don't require them. How? Because we have evolved. Now, I know there are arguments rebutting the concept of "vestigial organs" such as these, that attempt to include them as part of the "design". But let's face it, these arguments are rubbish. Of course evolution doesn't have all the answers (nothing does) but it has one up on creationism in that is has SOME. And the reason that many religious groups fear, despise and try to discredit evolutionary theory at every opportunity is because they know, deep down, in places that they would never admit, that it will eventually blow all their beliefs out of the water.

simon said...

I'm okay with that argument, citizen. The don't use it, lose it one which would account nicely for the vestigial organs. It's the not got it, evolve it argument I have trouble with.

Caterpillar to chrysallis to butterfly, colour vision - developments surely too dependent on too many simultaneous genetic mutations. Why do we still have genetically transmitted diseases when their survival value is in the negative? The contradiction of camouflage to avoid being eaten and yet gaudy decoration to attract a mate?

My belief is that one day we will find an underlying mechanism which will account for all these things scientifically. I just don't think evolution as we understand it today is it.

My fear is that the creationists were right all along and that, quite frankly, scares the faecal solids out of me. Bush and Pat Buchanan were right? God help us.

Citizen Sane said...

Have you read Climbing Mount Improbable by Richard Dawkins? Neither have I. But I might well give it a go. Think it might have some decent answers to your (totally valid, I don't deny it) doubts.

P.S. You could never accept "new world creationism" though, surely? You know, the Earth is only 6,000 years old, dinosaurs didn't exist, etc?

P.P.S. Pat Buchanan will never be right about anything, I assure you.

simon said...

I do quite like the idea of Bill Hicks' prankster God, though. Running around post-creation hiding all those fossils.

P.S. Thanks for the news about Buchanan. I shall sleep easily knowing that.

Anonymous said...

Simon, firstly you need to do some reading. Read some science books so that you fully understand how complicated the evolutionary process is. It's not just a case of survival of the fittest - you need to learn about biological mutations and how they happen. Read the hard science first.

Secondly, evolution is not a theory in the conventional sense: its called a theory by scientists because over an infinite amount of time, you cannot prove anything to be absolute (although near the end of humanity in the far future I'm sure we'll still be waiting for newton's apple to fall upwards!). That is where eveidence comes in.

Evolution is observable everywhere: in insect colonies introduced to artificial environmental factors, in jungles where new predators are artificially introduced, fossil records all over the world, skeletons of dinosaurs and other extinct creatures - its all staring us in the face.

There are numerous examples of experiments in scientific literature conducted by some of the worlds most intelligent scientists.

Even the most complex changes in creature such as the butterfly example can be explained by evolution.

Read up on some Richard Dawkins as I believe he has published numerous papers on these topics.

Education is the answer - if you learn more, you can understand more.

Anonymous said...

Hi, you evo-lu-lu guys.
You've been watching so much Digimons lately I think.

Anonymous said...

i believe in evolutionism but the bible does say why not all humans look exactly like god, something about when adam and eve got kicked out of the garden and then there were ppl outside the garden but they wernt "gods children' (forgot the name) and they mated... something like that I remember hearing it some where

Anonymous said...

Hi..i was researching a paper i am writing paralleling Atheism and Christianity. I am a Christian. Something cannot be created out of nothing. The Big Bang theory just doesn't add up for me. i once read that having such a perfectly functioning and beautiful word simply appear in perfect order, is just as likely to happen as a perfectly bound dictionary resulting from an explosion in a print shop without a single misprint or error. It is impossible. C.S Lewis was a Professor from Oxford and a firm believer of Atheism. He decided to prove Christianity wrong, but in the process he became one of the most devout and firm believers of Christianity in our time. And he isn't the only one. Why do you think that is? Because the evidence is there. I truly believe that the evidence is there. I believe that God created the world and everything in it, the beauty of it is proof enough for me. I also believe that he gave us free will to choose Him. He has the power to turn us into robots who blindly follow orders and go around worshiping, but that would not be love. Every non-believer i know is under the impression that Christianity is this big scary thing. That its a cult and you can never have fun or be happy. But i know from experience that, that is untrue. I rejected Christianity for the longest time, and i was miserable. When i finally opened my eyes and said, Lord show me your plan for mine life, i have never been happier. Believers are so radical because we KNOW He is real. When you come to know Him, you're not forced to worship, you want to.
When you come to know Jesus as your Lord and Savior you will know a love that is like no other, it cannot be described in any words known to man. It is truly the greatest joy of all.

Anonymous said...

I have a feeling that a lot of you don't realize that THEORIES, such as the big bang, only remain theories through our inability to replicate them. It is accepted almost completely in the scientific (and rational) world that that the big bang created life.

Also, with evolution, think about the way DNA works. You inherit parts from both parents, and if the combination is wrong, it often results in miscarriage or stillborn. Also our want to mate with those who are fit strong and healthy, may boil down to wanting healthy offspring. Each generation of people are different, think about it, everyone is taller now then they were 200 years ago. That is in itself proof of evolution.
Viruses and bacteria become resistant to drugs because of evolution. The stronger and more resistant bacteria will breed and create offspring that are then to resistant to the drugs.

Evolution and The Big Bang Theory are wildly rejected by the verse of the bible, that is said to be written by God himself. It has been clearly proven that these to events did happen. Also, those who want to know what was before the big bang, If thats the case what came before god, and that which created god. The same thing happens with both instances. I reject religion on the sole reasoning that it makes very little sense. It was created to explain the unexplainable, and to instill fear in those who did immoral things. By creating a hell the bible created a set of morals that made the populace easier to control for those in power. The king was said to be appointed by god, this gave him power over the people he controlled.

We now live in a time where we can explain those once unexplainable things, and government has its own set of morals for us to follow. Prison is now like hell where we serve time for our incorrect doings.

Tufty said...

I think the problem is that these interesting debates about which theory is right often spill over into name-calling. People forget that there's not going to be an immediate solution to the debate and end up getting personal about it.

Tufty
(see my blog against atheophobia)

nell said...

Hi every one. My name is Paul.

I was just flicking through the billions of links out there and I happened on this website. I've been trying to follow this discussion and I thought I would ask you one particular question thats been bothering me for ages? I shall get to that question at the end.

And, before any evolutionist advises me to: "Read some books" - Don't! I'm getting a bit weary of this advise. How many books must one read before we see the light? What happens if I took your advice and did indeed read all of Dawkin's books but all my efforts only resulted in taking me further into darkness. What then?

And, so to my question! By the way guys and gals, this question is directed at my Evolution friends:

What came first, Hearing or vocal ability?

Thanks in advance. Paul.

gobshite2 said...

Paul- the evolution of hearing predates that of vocalisation by some millions of years. The sense we now categorise as 'hearing' would have originally manifested itself in our fish ancestors as the ability to detect vibrations in water, developing over time to allow directional information to be derived from these vibrations. These vibrations could be caused by other nearby animals, both prey and predator, and the ability to detect them would provide an individual with a useful advantage in either case. In time, in particular with the development of amphibians on land, this became hearing as we understand it today, the ability to detect vibrations in air using an eardrum. Most evidence we have at the moment suggests that the ability to vocalise also originated in fish, but at a much later stage. Several fish species, such as the toadfish, have the ability to vocalise, albeit using wholly different physiological structures to those of land animals. Importantly, the brain areas responsible for managing vocalisation in these species is identical to that of their land dwelling relatives, suggesting an evolutionary link going back to the sea. I hope I've given enough info here to answer your question, as you stated that you didn't want to simply be told to go and read elsewhere. If you've any further questions I'd be happy to go into more detail.

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but it seems that that Paul is trying to invoke a form of the 'irreducible complexity' argument; that is, how can a system have evolved when the removal of one part of said system renders it ineffectual or inoperative? In this case the implication of the question is, “What is the point of hearing if you can't make a noise for others to hear?”, as with most of these ‘problems’ the flaw is in the question rather than evolutionary theory, which I’ve hopefully demonstrated in the answer above.

One other thing; you ask in your post,

"What happens if I took your advice and did indeed read all of Dawkin’s books but all my efforts only resulted in taking me further into darkness. What then?"

I'd really try and encourage people not to think in this way; even if you vehemently disagree with everything you read in a book, you'll be no worse off for having read it. If you read all of Dawkins’ books and find there's nothing you can agree with therein, then at least you'll have strengthened your own faith. Although I personally think it's unlikely there's a god I've attended many church services and have never felt myself to have lost out in doing so, on the contrary, it's often a rewarding learning experience to listen to the views of others, even where they contradict our own.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,
The Big Bang theory is one thing, it's fine to be skeptical about that because no one was there, but the world is another matter. While scientist think that the universe came from "nothing" the world evolved to the way it is now through countless little changes over time. There's evidence of these changes in fossil records and geology records and DNA. Even if there were doubt in the evolution of the world or the big bang that doesn't automatically make religion right. "Because you don't exactly know that makes me right" doesn't hold water.

You say you were miserable before you embraced christianity and are much happier now? Well I was raised christian and was miserable then, I'm much happier as a pantheist (or atheist if you like). I was miserable because in order to believe in a supernatural god you have to suspend reason and ignore evidence that contradicts that. I'm a rational logical person so trying to be something I wasn't was torture. It always bugged me, when no one has any physical evidence that any particular god exists why are you right that your's does and the vikings were wrong or the greeks or any of the other hundreds of gods? It doesn't make sense? Explain that.

Anonymous said...

It brings me shame that we agnostic theists and agnostics are in the same category at those narrow-minded stupid agnostic atheists and atheists. Of course agnostic theism and agnosticism shouldn't be in the same category either.

I'm an agnostic theist and I say atheism is wrong!

Anonymous said...

Hmm. I simply can't believe that everything was created out of nothing (the big bang).
I heard about this one scientist who tried to find out the probability of an inhabitable planet "accidentally" forming and then life "accidentally" starting to live on it.
He counted all the factors he could think of such as: if the earth's tilt was just a little off... or if the earth rotated slower...was a little further from the sun... there had been no atomic particles to create water and oxygen...
He finally came to the conclusion that this happening all on it's own was 1 out of 10 to the power of 100000000000000000000... etc for four A4 sheets of paper. that's the same as putting a kitten on a piano and it just happens to play Beethoven's Sonata no.8.
in other words: impossible
there must be a creator. some intelligent designer.

Anonymous said...

Why atheists are so bad:
there gay homo sexual drug addicts that watch porn all day insult Christians drink alcohol smoke start wars there also communists and they are very bad and evil if anyone doesn't believe this i don't care you atheists can keep believing in something false and ignore the truth

Anonymous said...

If you are an atheist and you are wrong then you risk going to Hell, if you are Christian and are wrong you lose nothing, which side would you rather be on? If God isn't real how did matter come about? If there is no God then there is no reason that I shouldn't run up and kill you right now, because there is nothing to govern what is wrong and what is right (this ties in with Hitler because if you are atheist you can't LOGICALY say you hate him because he was just helping along evolution). And there is still the countless miracles still evident today, one of them being the Turin Shroud (do research before tryin to discard that one away please). That is all I can think of right now. I know that what I have said probably won't change your mind about God, its not meant to convert you, only make you think. Please don't acusse me or attack me I only wanted to show you this.

Anonymous said...

Err...you are kidding aren't you?! Your Hitler comment is more stupid than anything else said on this page (which is saying something!!) Genocide has nothing to do with evolution, I'm not even sure how you are linking them in your head? Surely if everyone is created by God, so Hitler must just have been doing god's work? As a religious person, according to your backwards religion, he has more right to get into Heaven than I do as an atheist. Seeing as it doesn't exist i'm not exactly worried!
As for you're comment on killing people, animals have no religion, and yet don't go round killing each other randomly. If they kill it is for food or protection. We are the only animals that kill for no reason. And please don't spout rubbish about miracles. Evolution is as much fact as the Earth orbiting around the sun. Some very high priests believe in evolution and say that adam and eve are metaphors not to be taken literally. It is impossible to be a complete christian, ie follow everything in the bible, and not contradict yourself several times over.