This post is an answer to a post I found while rummaging through WordPress’s accumulator for posts on “atheism”. It made some of the classic bad classic false claims that many Christians make so I thought it would be a good example on how to respond to such things. Again, plenty of these point have been made in my other posts, so read if you want, you may not find that much new. I also decided to post it here because it’s fairly common to have a theist not release a critical post from moderation.
It’s long. Go fig 🙂 I’ll have a post about drinks and food tomorrow.
I’m an atheist. I’ve been one for decades now, since I lost my faith in Christianity I saw your “open letter to an atheist” and thought I’d respond. I don’t know if you’ll allow it through comments or not. I’m going to post this reply on my blog with a link to your post. I do hope you will allow it to be posted as a comment but will not be surprise if you do not. This is a long comment, but I wished to address your claims and use examples.
I do not only claim that your god doesn’t exist, I have plenty of evidence that indicates this e.g. there is no evidence for the essential events of the Judeo-Christian bible. You make a false claim that I, as an atheist, blindly accept the explanations offered by the sciences about how everything started and how everything works. I do not blindly accept anything, even from the sciences. I have reason to trust the sciences because the scientific method works and I regularly benefit from its accurate descriptions of reality. You benefit from this too, but you try to decry science when it shows that the claims of your religion are not true.
Scientists ask a question or make an observation, construct a hypothesis and then test the hypothesis. If the hypothesis fails, then it is wrong and does not reflect reality, and it’s back to the drawing board. You make a claim that science hasn’t “correctly interpreted” all of the evidence. It certainly seems to have so far because science always goes back and checks. Scientists love to show each other wrong, as can be shown by pointing out that all hoaxes about science like the Piltdown man were discovered by scientists, not theologians. As it stands, magic has never been shown to be the answer for any question about how the universe works. You also make a claim that science has somehow excluded evidence that would support a theist’s claim that their god has done something. Could you provide this evidence that you accuse science of excluding? I have no reason to doubt scientists because they present evidence that can be analyzed and repeated. I have no reason to believe you until you do provide evidence of your claims.
You attempt to claim that scientists lie. They can and do. However, the vast majority does not, and those that lie are invariably caught by other scientists, not by theists. You resort to ad hominem attacks like “Perhaps their parents did not express love to them, and they now have a chip on their shoulders, and now they want to show that their opinions matter.” An ad hominem fallacy is when you try to claim that an unrelated aspect of a person is reason to doubt their statements. As I have said, scientific claims are not taken as dogma but are constantly challenged and tested. If someone makes a claim and there is reason to doubt it, then it will be challenged, and not because of an assumption that someone may have had a bad experience with religion or their parents.
Your post isn’t a meaningless train of thought. It is a repetition of old and baseless claims made often by Christians who would wish to attack the sciences when they show that the claims of religions are false.
I do not accept blindly that every person in jail is guilty. Again, I require evidence for any claim made to me. Most prisoners are in jail because there was evidence for their guilt, and the vast majority of those people are indeed guilty because the evidence supported that. The Innocence Project, and similar groups do not address every case, they only address those that there is still a reasonable doubt about the prisoner’s guilt. There have indeed been 325 post-conviction DNA exonerations in the US. However, the Innocence Project reviews between 6,000 and 8,000 cases and has 3,000 people applying to them every year. The Innocence Project also goes on to say this “Among our cases that go to DNA testing, the DNA proves our clients innocent about as often as it suggests they are guilty. In a review of Innocence Project cases that went to DNA testing and were then closed over a five-year period, DNA testing proved innocence in about 43% of cases, confirmed the prosecution theory in about 42% of cases, and was inconclusive or not probative in about 15% of cases.” By this we can see that the number of people shown to be innocent is almost equal to those shown to be guilty. And yes, by this we can see that evidence is valid. You have tried to misrepresent what the Innocence Project does in order to try to claim that evidence should not be trusted.
We do know that people can and will twist evidence, destroy evidence, etc. However, that is the exception, not the rule. If you wish to rebut this, I need to see evidence for your claims. You also assume malicious intent when other possibilities can and likely were at play, that we simply did not have the DNA analysis procedures at the time of the first trial and now we have them, that innocent mistakes were made, etc. In any case, your claim that since forensics may have failed once and now can be used is not a reason to doubt all science all of the time as you seem to be trying to claim. And in any case, there is still no evidence for your god or any gods.
People are indeed people. You to make a good point that Christians are people too, which seems to support my point that any claims should be examined and evidence required because people can make up things because of many reasons. For example, you have claimed that Jesus Christ was a real person, the son of a deity that walked the earth. However, there is no evidence for this. An argument can be made that Joshua ben Joseph was a real man that thought he was the Jewish messiah existed, but that is not the being that you worship. There is no reason to believe that a miracle-performing entity lived on earth, did miracles, died and rose from the grave accompanied by very strange events since there is no evidence for this at all, just as there is no evidence that Mohammed rode to Jerusalem on the back of a magical pony or that Gautama Buddha halted a rampaging elephant either.
The study cited “Self-Presentation and Verbal Deception:Do Self-Presenters Lie More?” by Robert S. Feldman, James A. Forrest, and Benjamin R. Happ that you cited says this in the abstract of the study (the entire study is at the link): “This study examined the effects of self-presentation goals on the amount and type of verbal deception used by participants in same-gender and mixed-gender dyads. Participants were asked to engage in a conversation that was secretly videotaped. Self-presentational goal was manipulated, where one member of the dyad (the self-presenter) was told to either appear (a) likable, (b)competent, or (c) was told to simply get to know his or her partner (control condition). After the conversation, self-presenters were asked to review a video recording of the interaction and identify the instances in which they had deceived the other person. Overall, participants told more lies when they had a goal to appear likable or competent compared to participants in the control condition, and the content of the lies varied according to self-presentation goal. In addition, lies told by men and women differed in content, although not in quantity.”
You’ve attempted to use this study to make it appear that everyone lies 60% of the time no matter what the situation. That is untrue. This study was about how people lie when trying to appear likeable or competent to a new person. There is nothing in this that shows that scientists lie as you have claimed or that all conversations are the same. It has been my experience that theists often misrepresent scientific studies either out of ignorance because they haven’t bothered to read them or out of intent because they hope no one else will read them, which would make it an attempt to appeal to authority.
The “big bang” theory of how the universe started does not include where the singularity may have come from. It does describe what physicists hypothesized happened, and observations have matched what the theory has predicted. The singularity may have come from nothing. It may have come from a prior big bang, and there may have always been big bangs. It may have come from branes touching. At this point we do not know for sure. This does not mean that we will never know, nor does it mean that there had to be some god. Theists often make the mistake of assuming that only their god could have always been around, when they try their special pleading excuses for their gods.
I am not sure what you mean by “Well, according to inflation theory, there were an infinite number of singularities that exploded. So, in all of these singularities, certainly the odds favor one of them having the right ratio.” Inflation theory does not say this. This is what inflation theory says “According to the theory of inflation, the early Universe expanded exponentially fast for a fraction of a second after the Big Bang. Cosmologists introduced this idea in 1981 to solve several important problems in cosmology.” I think you are mixing up several theories into one. I also do not know what you mean by “right ratio”. Right ratio of what?
You are correct, at this moment we still don’t now what exactly started what we call “life”. Again, this doesn’t mean we will never know or that there is some god causing it or your particular god causing it. You are presenting what is known as a “god of the gaps” argument and those gaps have been closing ever since creationists have been making those arguments. There are indeed hypotheses that RNA was the basis of how modern life came to be. Like many other creationists, you depend on an ignorance of the actual research in abiogenesis to keep your beliefs intact. For instance, many creationists try to claim that science says that everything is “random”, as if the universe is some Dr. Seussian construct where anything can happen. The universe doesn’t work that way; chemistry and physics work predictable ways, and in certain environments one can expect that proteins will form and change predictably because of the environment. Scientists do not surmise that random chance is the driving force. You misrepresent science intentionally to try to attack a strawman of your creation.
The second law of thermodynamics states: In any cyclic process the entropy will either increase or remain the same. This is quite true if it is a closed system. What creationists forget is that the earth is not a closed system. We receive massive amounts of energy from the rest of the universe, mainly the sun. Energy put into a system can cause the reduction of entropy e.g. it can create order. You can see a nice illustration of this here. Again, a creationist argument depends on either ignorance of basic physics or it depends on an intentional misrepresention of physics. I do not agree with “inconsistent drivel”, I can do my own experiments to show the second law of thermodynamics to be quite compatible with the assembly of proteins, by showing that energy injected into a system does create order, either by making basic building block or growing a plant.
It is not uncommon to see a Christian try to claim that some magical being, Satan, is somehow the “author of chaos”. Since there is no more evidence for this character than the Christian god, there is no reason to believe that some being creates chaos and plenty of reason to understand that chaos is an aspect of matter and energy. It’s rather like believing that there the idea of Maxwell’s Demon is literally true, that there is a little demon picking out cold particles or warm particles to cause the movement of heat energy into an item or space. There isn’t, and we can’t exorcise demons to keep hot things hot and cold things cold.
When a creationist tries to appeal to “plain reason”, they are usually trying to insist that their beliefs are to be taken without evidence, that they are supposedly “obvious”. The problem is when no one else thinks that it is reasonable or obvious that there is a god or a devil and the creationist cannot provide evidence for either. Random chance, if there is such a thing, is not some magical being that your god makes wagers with in the Book of Job or works with in the Book of Revelation.
Again, you rely on a god of the gaps argument to claim that your god has to be the “energy” outside of the system. However, there is no evidence that any god exists, much less the Christian god. Physicists are working on answers and again your argument depends on the assumption that we will never know the answer and the assumption that there is a god and its your god. Theists have constantly made this bet that science will somehow stop and go no further and have lost the bet every time when they claims that their god(s) did something. There is no reason to think that this streak will be broken, and again, even if we never figure everything out, it still doesn’t mean your god or any gods did anything. You have to provide positive evidence that your god 1. Exist and 2. Do what you claim.
Occam’s Razor can be a useful tool, however, it is not always correct, appealing to it is not a guarantee of success. A good review Occam’s Razor is here: (or here if the idea of a “rational wiki” frightens you )
I find this part to be particularly relevant:
“You cannot explain anything by simply replacing an unknown with an unknown which has a different name. If the hypothesis offers no clue how the result is reached, it is not simple, it is useless. For example:
It is not clear here whether X is a number, many numbers, or an operation of some kind. Based on this alone, the simplest explanation would be that X is 1. The Goddidit explanation would be X=G
Where G is defined as “the correct answer.” It should be fairly obvious that we have simply renamed the unknown, and know no more that we did to begin with about the unknown’s identity.”
You assume that the claim “goddidit” is the simplest answer, which is not the case. For the claim that your god has done something there are more than a few answers that need to be given before one can consider your assumption valid. This is where evidence comes in. We need evidence that god/gods exist. We need evidence of what it/ they can do. We need evidence that *your* god is the creator and that no other gods exist or were not involved in the creation. Considering that Christians have created an entire industry on complicated arguments for their god and what they each claim it “really wants”, there is nothing simple about god/gods.
I am a life-long trekkie and Mr. Spock would not agree that you used logic at all. You have made baseless claims, you have misrepresented science, and with no evidence there is no reason to believe in something that cannot be shown to exist. Your god is as improbable as every other god that you do not believe in. I do not believe in “complete inconsistency” at all. I accept that the sciences are the best method of determining reality. If this god of yours cannot be supported by evidence, and it should be able to be if it can or has affect reality as Christians claim, then I have no logical reason to believe in it. There is no more reason to turn to it than there is to be afraid of the boogeyman under my bed.