The Atheist & Christian discussion…part 2

I have had many discussions with a variety of Atheists over the years. I want to note that there is a difference between an Agnostic and an Atheist. The Agnostic says they are not sure if there is a God because they don’t have enough proof either way as a basis to say there is or there isn’t a God. Whereas the Atheist declares point blank that there is no God.

This is a huge statement to make. For this statement declares that they know all there is about the universe, the world, history and the essence of being and because of this completeness of knowledge they can state with finality that there is no God!

Their framework of knowing and knowledge discounts and suspends any and all systems of belief that others have in regards to there being a God. They scoff at any form of supernatural intervention, beings and experiences…and discount, ignore or scoff at anyone else who has had such an experience….no matter the vast and wide nature of historical and current witness of people who have had, seen and experienced any experiences of such.

The majority of Atheists will claim to have a scientific mind. They will claim that they are in pursuit of the truth and that truth is the basis of what informs them about life, history and the universe. Yet this raises more questions. Can in fact the Atheist claim to know all there is to know about life? Can they indeed claim to know all there is that can be known about history, the universe and truthfully can they state that they know all there is to know about the unknown.

Therefore in reality there can be no such thing as an honest Atheist, which means by default, Atheists and the Atheistic movement cannot claim to be a honest movement that is in pursuit of the truth. For if they were both honest  truth seekers and truth sayer’s they would declare that indeed they do not have all the required knowledge to state with all truth that there is no God…

And if they were to state truthfully that they cannot know all there is to know…by default they no longer can call themselves Atheist…rather they can start to truthfully state that they are in fact an Agnostic…

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About Craig Benno

I'm an average aussie guy who has lived perhaps a not so average life.
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42 Responses to The Atheist & Christian discussion…part 2

  1. Brian Sleeman says:

    Hi Craig,

    Were not the early Christians also called Atheists? I suspect (if that is true) that like many words in use today, the true meaning of the term has been lost / changed etc.

    However, your point is still valid in terms of what they claim on one hand and can ‘prove’ on the other.

    • Craig Benno says:

      That is true Brian- the early Christians were accused of being Atheists. Thanks for that reminder, it has given me the framework for a future post.

      It’s interesting how words morph and change their meanings over time.

  2. tildeb says:

    You have built this argument on a faulty premise: that the atheist declares that there is no god because they know everything. According to your definition, Dawkins himself falls under the ‘agnostic’ category… as do almost all atheists gnu or otherwise. What is evident is that there are no good reasons to believe there IS a (mono)theistic god like the one christians and muslims and jews believe.

    Obviously, there’s a problem here in your definition. In the first point to consider, no atheist capable of thinking critically would announce the impossibility of a deistic god existing for exactly the reason you point out: we haven’t exhaustively searched the universe so maybe, somewhere, a deistic god lurks. But as things stand now, only in gaps of knowledge is there any wiggle room to suggest a theistic god might be hiding there… for hiding is what this theistic christian and muslim and jewish god does best. Every time human knowledge about reality – about the universe we live in – is gained, god’s living space declines accordingly. Funny, that.

    The second point is to remember that agnosticism speaks of knowledge; in this sense we have no knowledge for or against some god. That’s honest agnosticism. That includes most atheists. Atheism, in contrast, speaks to non belief. Atheists don’t believe a theistic god like the ones described by the usual assortment of religions exists in reality for there is no good evidence in reality to suggest as much. That is exactly why the believer in such a theistic god must turn to faith, meaning belief in something for which there is no good reason to believe and held firmly in place in spite of an absence of evidence which should be there if the hypothesis were true in reality. Atheists share no such faith, which is why a strict definition will soon find that people who call themselves atheists will agree to the term ‘agnostic atheist’ to account for both the lack of knowledge and lack of evidence for belief in the religious sense.

    So, yes, atheists value reality to be the arbiter of what is true. (None, however, claim to be omniscient as you suggest, unless they’re insane). Theistic believers, in a nutshell, do not value reality to be the arbiter of what’s true in fact but insist their beliefs are equivalent… if not a little superior, being divinely inspired and revealed and all. They place their theistic god outside of reality – only when it’s convenient to do so, mind you – to protect the notion from honest scientific inquiry in reality, as well as waive the requirement for evidence found IN reality to back up theistic claims about reality. And this is where the coherence of theistic faith breaks down and makes no sense if what’s true in reality matters.

    This is the sense – to respect reality as the arbiter of what’s true – in which atheists talk about intellectual honesty and integrity… something believers sacrifice to try vainly to keep their theistic beliefs coherent while they play whack-a-mole with their intervening god and hide him here and there to claim affect in the world and on people but then – whoops – gone for the moment outside of where honest inquiry occurs in reality, existing outside of the universe, outside of time, outside of nature and material substance yet able to swoop in and (materialistically we must remember) save one child here while a thousand die there, answering this prayer here but not those ones there, providing Craig with just the right pocket change here but allowing millions to starve there. It’s incoherent. It’s dishonest. It’s faith in action.

  3. Penny Nakanishi says:

    There are many Christians (myself included) who claim that the God of the Bible is without question the one and only true God. There would have to be some incredible scientific evidence for me to change my views now. In some ways I am the same as the atheist only in reverse. My experiences have led me to believe that the Bible is indeed true. I guess the atheist is the same: their experience and human reasoning has led them to believe that there is no God. We can only pray that they will experience the God of the Bible for themselves so that they have to admit there is more to life than what human logic and reasoning can explain. 1 Cor 1:18. The question of suffering is probably the biggest barrier to believe in God for many people.

    • Craig Benno says:

      Yes, experience is a powerful factor of knowing / knowledge Penny. I love C.S Lewis who was a powerful Atheistic philosopher within his era who went on to write a book called “Surprised by Joy.” In it he describes his reason for turning from Atheism, to Agnosticism to becoming a Christian….experience playing a large part of his conversion.

    • tildeb says:

      Really, Penny? Can you describe what that evidence might look like for you to change your view that the god of the bible is (unquestionably) the one and only true god?

      Surely you can understand why any description that attempts to show non belief leading to a belief (that there is no god) is problematic. This is a typical misrepresentation theists hold on to in order to describe atheists in familiar terms. The problem, of course, is that this kind of description is by necessity inaccurate because it contains enough confused terminology to reveal why it probably isn’t true. Non belief is not another kind of belief. It is the absence of a belief. This does not mean that only human logic and reasoning are respected as interactive tools for experiencing the universe; the atheist is just as capable as the theist to appreciate beauty and wonder, experience the highs and lows of love, and so on. The atheist simply does not share a belief held by some about a supernatural, omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent, benevolent, intervening, interactive creator with whom one can have a personal relationship. Those who believe in the existence of such a critter have failed to produce the evidence to justify this (incoherent) belief.

  4. Brian Sleeman says:

    Tildeb – can you define reality? IF God created the universe, how can He have existed in it? Surely the ‘scientific truth’ within the Judeao/Christian faith in fact shows how True it is as a whole – where is the supposed randomness of the Universe – the more science discovers, the more order and structure they find – and what does the Bible show about what happens around us? It has structure and order – sure you may argue a 7 day creation period, but the underlying indication of design and purpose is really the point being made, similarly what is the ‘order’ of creation in relation to ‘scientific verification’? Oceans first, life in oceans before life on land – and what’s the ‘last’ addition to life? Humans. Sounds pretty much like the two ‘faiths’ align pretty well.

    So in reality your response just goes to show not how good God is at hiding, but rather how blind some people are to what is staring them in the face. Stop looking at the forest and see the trees.

    • tildeb says:

      Sure, Brian: reality is a state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined.

      You’ve touched on the first problem of incoherence about a creator: how could a god create a universe, including spacetime without being outside of it? What does it mean to be ‘outside’ of spacetime? I don’t know and you don’t either. To place a creator god there (in some before where no time and no space exists) is incoherent. To then treat this nonsensical unknowable placement as a literal fact is dishonest.

      The creation order also makes no sense. Obviously a ‘night’ and ‘day’ reference is understandable only in terms of a position on rotating sphere relative to a source of light and not universe as a whole… unless, like most theists, you jump effortlessly between a metaphorical description and a literal one when no such link is coherent.

      Where you see design, you assume a designer and then mistakenly assume the atheist insists only on chance and randomness. What you fail to see is that design does not require a designer but a mindless, agent-less, process. Think of erosion caused by gravity. It is mindless yet yields design in the same way that evolution caused by natural selection yields design in life. Yes, you really are kin to a carrots, fish, and great apes and the biological evidence is overwhelming.

      There is no ‘scientific truth’ to underpin what you call the Judeo-Christian faith; there is faith that god is, that god is active, that god is causal, that god creates, none of which offers us any ‘scientific’ evidence to their truth in reality. And the much vaunted ‘purpose’ assigned by believers to god’s plan for each of us has no evidence in fact. Purpose and meaning are simply believed to be part and parcel of the faith because it feels good to believe so. That doesn’t make it true and, in fact, rather insulting to many not so equally ‘blessed’ by freedom from genetic abnormalities and arbitrary tragedy at the whim of some creator god who has apparently assigned some to suffer far more than others as part of a divine plan of love.

      You make reference to science and religion as two ‘faiths’. This is an abuse of the language to sow confusion and promote misrepresentation in the name of promoting religious belief as if it were somehow compatible with scientific inquiry because they are really quite similar. That’s disingenuous. Faith in the religious sense is to pretend belief is equivalent to knowledge and treat this sleight-of-mind as a virtue. In scientific jargon, it’s called making s*** up and it is not in any way compatible with the process we call science.

      After you put on your metaphorical faith glasses, you see god everywhere. Without such glasses I see him nowhere. This leads me to think maybe the glasses play the central role in the god hypothesis.

  5. Brian Sleeman says:

    Tildeb, faith is a belief in something you can’t actually prove. Science cannot prove (scientifically) that some thing dead can produce life spontaneously, yet you stand by that ‘fact’ – does that not by very definition make it faith? By taking what you see here and now (and the very act of observing changes the outcome – science FACT) and extrapolating to some other distant point to say ‘it is the same’ is not science (observe, measure and repeat) – it’s a best guess.

    Science often moves outside the realms of science to prove what it likes too. e.g quantum physics moves outside the realm of ‘normal physics’. Mr Dawkins can ‘create’ all sorts of metaphysical elements (meme’s) to help ‘prove’ his passing on of ‘moral’ genetic information (or some such rubbish).

    Just because you can’t understand something doesn’t make it ‘dishonest’ – it just means you don’t understand. Does science know how the human brain works (we’re getting better – but we don’t know it intimately) ? No, but it still does. Does science actually know the ‘spark’ of life – why just mixing chemicals doesn’t spontaneously produce life? No, but look – life exists. You place you trust in those who know more than you (as we all do, to more or lesser extents) – that is faith that they are actually doing their jobs properly and not misrepresenting anything. And when they change their song (either by conviction or ‘evidence’) you either have to start singing the new tune or have your whole basis of understanding corrupted. Classic example – how were you taught the anatomy of the tongue? As specific areas of taste (sweet, bitter, sour etc.)? That’s what we had in our science text books at school – and guess what, that’s wrong! Generations of people instructed in scientific falsehood. Now thankfully that has been ‘corrected’, but they haven’t gone back and re-educated all those who were misinformed in the first instance. Putting out all this science as ‘concrete fact’ is dishonest – it’s still ‘as best as we currently understand’.

    The underlying point still remains – if there is no God (and hence no purpose in life) then by what measure can anyone claim that another actions are wrong? That we have to live by any measure of law?

    I don’t need to wear ‘glasses’ to see reality – no microscopes not telescopes and no ‘collide – a – scopes’.

    Science is such a classic for making s*** up. “We can prove that they eye evolved…. ONCE we have life and a cell sensitive to light” (Notice that they have to already have the basics – they haven’t worked that bit out). And the ‘Anthropic Principle’ – once you have enough locations capable of producing life you will get life? What are the odds of one place being ‘suitable’ or ‘capable’ to produce life, let alone enough to make it a ‘certain’ result? Again, go to the end and ‘work’ back. Science can’t actually answer the question so we come up with 42! (i.e make an answer and fit the question to it).

    There are so many things that he likes of Mr. Dawkins says that people lap up, because they ‘ring true’ to our ears, they put us in control, the make us feel like we are bigger and better and more, well us. I guess like any patient, we are all entitled to a second opinion, if the doctor you visit and trust says – “No, you don’t have cancer – keep doing as you were” is the one you want to trust, then that is your prerogative. I’ll put mine with the one that says “It’s only just starting to grow, let’s get to treating it before it becomes fatal”.

    May the Lord open your eyes and your heart to the Truth.

    • tildeb says:

      Well, Brian you’ve touched on a great many things. But let me say straight up that I am perfectly comfortable saying I don’t know when I don’t know. When you talk about abiogenesis, for example, I freely admit I don’t know. I don’t know because we have no strong evidence to back anything up. What evidence we do have points along evolutionary inheritance straight back to the earliest life for which we do have strong evidence. This fact is not in any way based on any belief but a consensus and cohesion of every avenue of scientific inquiry when it did not have to be this way. To pretend this strong consensus from multiple lines of inquiry is based on some kind of faith (in the religious sense) rather than irrefutable evidence for which evolution is the best explanation is just plain silly. As for that original ‘spark’ I don’t know and you don’t either. Let’s neither of us pretend we do.

      You attempt a very typical argument to suggest science is somehow untrustworthy because positions change (you use the taste receptors as an example). Where you see a weakness, I see a strength: a prior conclusion was found by good science to be inadequate and has since been updated. Science is ALWAYS open to better evidence. (Theology in contrast is closed to it because it STARTS with the truth, you see. The position of faith is to trust that explanatory truth and not alter it to suit the evidence… case in point, Adam and Eve could not be humanity’s ancestors.))

      You then switch over to quantum physics and immediately show confusion between quantum mechanics and quantum theory. No surprise there: as is often quoted, if you think you understand quantum physics, you don’t understand quantum physics. Just as a head’s up: it’s measurement that alters probability resolutions, meaning that the same experiment will yield different results if the experiment is run again so this wave-function collapse can be overcome by including the previous measurement (or, at least, that’s my understanding of it). Quantum mechanics, Brian, yields incredibly precise results, whereas you make it sound as if it is untrustworthy. This is exactly the wrong conclusion.

      Science is trustworthy only if it works consistently and reliably well for everyone everywhere yesterday and today as well as tomorrow. Religious belief obviously doesn’t work this way, which explains the geographical importance in religious adherence. What’s true doesn’t matter nearly as much for religious adherence as where you born. I detect a pattern here. Do you?

      Because has to work everywhere all the time for everyone, we have learned more in the last two centuries about the universe than all of the previous history combined. It’s a method of inquiry that works better than anything else we have, better than anything we have ever had, and you know this to be case. Yet you are willing to pretend the science itself as a process – as determined in a few trivial cases (usually because of poor science) – is somehow untrustworthy because it sometimes changes prior conclusions. Based on this poor understanding of what science is (it’s a method of inquiry and not a particular conclusion that uses the method) you then then attempt to equate that inadequate understanding with the religious sense of the word faith, meaning that because it doesn’t change even when its claims are demonstrably wrong, we should trust it at least equally well. That’s a terrible conclusion because you have to come up with a new ‘interpretation’ to give the impression the biblical incorrect claim was secretly right all along…. with just the right interpretation. But the only way you know to do this with these incorrect claims about reality is because science has led to the correct answer through honest (and not faith-based) inquiry. That’s why you know all the biblical claims about the earth as the centre of the universe are factually wrong. That’s why you know the earth is not flat and does not rest on pillars. That’s why you know there was no global flood. That’s why you know that a creator’s intervention to poof human life into existence is wrong – if any intervention happened at all, it occurred so far back in time as to be indistinguishable from no intervention at all. You assume that current gaps in the scientific explanation for how life and some of its specific bits has come to be cannot be explained with strong evidence. I think that assumption is premature. In every case to date where religious truth claims about our origins that can be tested have been tested, suddenly god has to up and move into the next gap. I detect a pattern. Do you?

      More importantly, we have good reasons to trust the results of scientific inquiry: they have a long pedigree and a very high probability of working in reality… with a few tweaks and readjustments here and there. Faith-based beliefs have no such history, no similar applications that work, no new discoveries, no new avenues for research, no insights into the nature of the universe that produces new kinds of inquiries. I’m detecting a pattern. Do you?

  6. Pingback: The Atheist and the Christian discussion continued part 3. | Trinitarian Dance

  7. Brian Westley says:

    “The underlying point still remains – if there is no God (and hence no purpose in life) then by what measure can anyone claim that another actions are wrong?”

    By the same reason any can claim actions are right, or that god approves or disapproves of actions — it’s all opinions. Some people try to claim that their opinion is really god’s opinion, but since they contradict each other, I pay no attention.

    • Craig Benno says:

      Hi Brian Westley. Thanks for commenting.

      Certainly this raises some issues of right and wrong. Are you saying that there is no right or wrong and that there is no method of establishing what is right or wrong?

      • Brian Westley says:

        No, people establish what’s right and wrong all the time. However, people clearly don’t always agree on what god(s) think are right or wrong, so until some gods show up to clarify things, we’re stuck with whatever humans come up with.

    • Brian Sleeman says:

      @Brian, that is true – but then I never actually made a claim about what was ‘right’ – so in other words,potentially, it’s a free for all.

      The question of God’s opinion is a good one – very simply I guess if you have an ‘inspired’ text then at least you have a ‘consistent’ standard to refer to. But that potentially raises even more questions about inspired texts etc,

      • Brian Westley says:

        Which only compounds the “free for all” mode, when competing inspired texts don’t agree, or when people using the same text disagree on what it means (such as Christians arguing both sides of the slavery issue by quoting the bible).

      • Craig Benno says:

        Within the NT frame work of there no longer being any distinction between gender, class nationality and age – its hard to argue for the existence or continuation of slavery. Rather what we find is that every one has a world view and for the most part try and excuse those world view / cultural traditions within a political stance. The Orthodox church have a central tenent of their theology in that all are made in the image of God and therefore ALL should be treated with the dignity and respect that all deserves.

        It has to be noted though that one of the worlds most ardent slave traders converted from being an Atheist to a Christian. He went on to become an avid lobbyist against the slave trade and wrote the famous song…Amazing Grace.

      • Craig Benno says:

        Certainly there is a diversity of opinion regarding what is right and wrong. The western world certainly has framed its world view of inherent morality from within the Biblical framework of inherent morality.

        Such as its not right to lie, murder, steal, rape etc. We expect a level of honesty and ‘right’ behaviour from those within society and we expect a level of justice for those who have been betrayed…therefore we take to court and punish those who break societal laws.

        Brian W, your comment about there being a variety of god’s is a good one and one that I will be addressing in the future within the context of this series of posts. .I’m hoping that you will continue to engage with the ongoing discussion for your comments / opinions are greatly valued.

      • Brian Westley says:

        “Within the NT frame work of there no longer being any distinction between gender, class nationality and age – its hard to argue for the existence or continuation of slavery.”

        Southern Baptists seemed to find it rather easy back in the mid-1800’s. In any case, the “difficulty” in arguing two sides of the same moral question isn’t relevant — what’s relevant is that people don’t agree, so it’s not very useful.

        “Certainly there is a diversity of opinion regarding what is right and wrong.”

        I agree; I think adding the supposed views of gods makes it worse, not better. To quote Pascal, “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”

      • Craig Benno says:

        I don’t think that its wrong to have a diversity of opinion, though I think its important to understand what is the foundation of the various areas of of those foundations. For example, one of the key foundations of the African American slave trade was that black people didn’t have souls and therefore were not fully human… I’m sure that within a Biblical world view, that would be hard to sustain from the Bible.

      • tildeb says:

        Speaking of a ‘consistent standard’ from an ‘inspired’ text, QualiaSoup makes short work of how and why this claim on biblical authority for objective moral standards simply is not true.

  8. Brian Sleeman says:

    Ah, but there in lies your lack of understanding of what I said. I’ve never said science was untrustworthy – I’ve just said is not (at least yet) all the answers. Yes it does ‘self correct’ when it is found to be wrong (although getting a consensus seems to be a problem at times) – it is the ‘definitive’ assertion that it is always right that is the problem – it obviously isn’t always right. Yes, I am no expert in physics – so quantum physics, quantum mechanics etc. I don’t understand it (not enough to claim that I do – which as you say would show that I don’t). the point is, the more science thinks it knows about the natural universe, the more it finds that it doesn’t know (that doesn’t automatically mean that it’s previous position was wrong – just incomplete).

    You also seem to make the bold allegation that the Bible is somewhere, somehow a book of science. It isn’t and never was (although some have tried to present it that way) – there is certainly much scientific evidence and understanding coming through archeology and the like to show that a lot of the ‘witnessed’ history recorded in the Bible is either accurate, true or more than plausible. I hold that science actually is another avenue of revealing the greatness of God, not that it somehow diminishes Him, so yes I detect a pattern – just not the same conclusion to it as you do. You see, I see great evidence for a large scale flood – large deposits of coal and oil, made by the quick and bulk annihilation of organic matter (that is scientific) – large areas of erosion (the Grand Canyon, the valleys leading from Sydney to the Blue Mountains etc) are more likely to have been caused by large fast moving volumes of water in a relatively short period of time than ‘thousands or millions’ of years of gradual weathering.

    You read a lot of Mr. Dawkins don’t you? I see much of his waffle coming through in your comments. Geographical location and religious practice may have some validity in the Middle East or parts of Asia – but given the amount of ‘religions’ practiced in Europe, Nth America, Australia etc. it is a dodgy premise to build an argument on. Like the comment of the ‘immense freedom’ he felt when he ‘threw off the burden’ of religion – what like the immense freedom of a teenager when they first move out of home and don’t have to abide by ‘any ones’ rules – yep, and how long does that last once the bills and responsibilities start to take over? It all sounds ‘logical and utopian’ – until you realise you’re only seeing half the equation.

    Faith is faith – there is no religious twist to it. If it cannot be categorically proven and yet you believe or trust it to be – then that is faith, may be it’s based on sound, reproducible methods – (until someone comes and ‘corrects’ it), but it’s still faith.

    We are given the right to choose freely – just be careful which you choose. Think of this life as your preparation for your Court Case – which barrister do you want representing you before the Judge? Just because you don’t believe doesn’t mean you aren’t under His jurisdiction.

    • tildeb says:

      No atheist suggests science already has all the answers. This is red herring. The point is that science self corrects when there is cause to do so. This is a strength. That it deals honestly with reality as its arbiter is what differentiates the process from inserting oogity boogity into some causal claim and calling such a faith-based belief in the supernatural ‘another way to know’. It isn’t because its indistinguishable from delusion.

      And the argument about the more we know, the more questions we have so science as a process is somehow made compatible with religious faith is simply tendentious. If we imagine some broad knowledge about something to be from point A to point B and fill in some specific data that increases the depth of our understand half way between these point, the theistic argument is that we now have created the space of the unknown from one segment (between A and B) to two (from A to the halfway point, and from the halfway point to B). This is the same thoroughly refuted ‘lack of transitional fossils’ argument, insisting that the more gaps we fill in, the greater the number of ‘missing links’ we create.

      Look, the bible contains many claims about the nature of the universe, how it operates, what it contains and so on. Origin and creation claims are also made. These are valid hypotheses that fall under the purview of science because the claim is about reality. That means we can bring methodological naturalism to bear. When these claims are shown to be false in reality, I think that calls into question the validity of its ‘divinely inspired’ advertisement. And if the bible gets these facts wrong, what other facts does it get wrong? Most importantly, how can we know which is which? This is the stumbling block no theist to date has been able to address coherently. If one cannot tell which claims are true and which ones are false, then one’s epistemology is broken if one insists that faith (in the religious sense) alone suffices. reason to think one does.

  9. Brian Sleeman says:

    Tildeb, a handful of verses about such things as creation do not really make for a convincing argument as to the prevailing revelation they supposed to bring to the subject. If one cannot determine the difference between poetry, commentary, Law etc. then the science that needs to be studied is linguistics and literature. As I said earlier – you can dispute the ‘7 days of creation’ but the the ‘order’ of it falls very much into what the scientific community (by general consensus) says was the way the Earth and all upon it formed – so it does stand up to such examination. The day the Sun didn’t set, similarly seems to have been shown correct – by the records of the South Americans that show a day when the sun didn’t rise – and from what I gather, seems to be when they believe Venus was caught in the suns gravitational field (at least the last time I read up on it).

    I never made the claim that any atheist claims that science has all the answers – but to make your beliefs so ‘absolute’ upon that premise (knowing that it does not have all the answers) – what does that sound like to you? My point about ‘more to be learned’ has nothing to do with ‘missing links’ – what are the laws of physics that we live under (Newtons 3?) – and what do we find now – that it’s not really that simple is it (e.g quantum). So what is left to be revealed after quantum theories, and then after that? Are we not seeing how far more complex everything is? From cells and basic chemistry to DNA etc. etc. Where does the information in DNA come from?

    I have at no pint (nor do I think any one in this blog) has made the claim that science has no place or benefit – but like all things, it’s the conclusions that it draws us to that are the difference. Looking inside an Apple Mac will not provide evidence of Steve Jobs or Steve Wozniak, or crawling around under the bonnet of my Ford will not produce evidence of Henry Ford – but with historical records etc. we can prove such things, outside of science. We cannot go back and witness the creation of these things, but we ‘know’ them to be true.

    You obviously feel comfortable to live by your deductions – your faith that despite all the things science cannot (yet and may never) answer it is the only acceptable answer to every thing (interesting that scientific process is not automatically accepted in a court of law). Just like Mr. Dawkins – although he also refutes his beliefs as ‘faith’, interesting that his definition of faith flies in the face of the such individuals as Sir Isaac Newton. All I can say is, if I’m wrong – then my life and actions leading up to my demise are of no ultimate consequence (other than to pass on genetic information), if you are wrong then, well I can only hope and pray that your eyes and heart are opened to receive the truth before that time. Thanks for your responses and insights.

    • tildeb says:

      The order IS wrong, Brian. You cannot have grasses, plants, and fruit-bearing trees (Day 3) before you have sunlight (Day 4), nor before you have pollinating creatures (Day 5). In addition, there is no evidence that god created all the critters as claimed but overwhelming evidence that life evolved from simple to complex. To deny this fact is to deny the foundation of biology upon which our efficacious medicine and medical technologies have been built. You can try to argue that some supernatural critter inserted ‘information’ into cellular life but the complexity needed for that physical act does not answer your question asking where this information came from; clearly, turning to such a Designer argument amounts to an intellectual capitulation satisfied that it came from oogity boogity. This extraordinary claim based as it is on no extraordinary evidence answers nothing.

      As for your willingness to believe that the sun did not set once upon a time according to some ancients does not make the claim true nor ‘bear witness’ to the claim’s veracity. What we do know is if the the rotation of the earth was altered, we would have global cataclysmic evidence for it. Make the claim if you want , but don’t pretend the demand for evidence found here in reality to back it up is somehow unreasonable, any more than is the demand for evidence of god’s existence and interaction in the world. The real world evidence offered by theists so far to back up these extraordinary claims amounts to word games and hearsay. Rejecting these as insufficient is not a matter of exercising a different kind of faith but a reasonable response to an unreasonable belief… that the universe and everything in it was created by some oogity boogity critter with a purpose and a plan for a single species of primates living on a single speck of cosmic rock yet strangely concerned in particular about which parts of the body this single species should cover and when and how they should use their gonads in ways that don’t offend him. It’s so ludicrous when viewed from afar that one wonders how any sane person could be so species-centric to consider it as objectively true for more than a passing moment.

  10. Brian Sleeman says:

    Like I said Tildeb, you apparently are quite satisfied with the position you’ve come too – the fact that you willing throw out the science that doesn’t suit your argument is just as impressive. If plants couldn’t grow and pollinate with creatures to do it, and creatures need ‘food’ to survive (mostly obviously going to be vegetative) then nothing would get going. As for sun light – well what’s been found growing 4 km under the sea? – no sunlight below 900 meters. How does something evolving into two genders get to have ‘functional’ male and female elements that happen to be close enough and ‘aware’ enough to reproduce. The true mathematical odds of what is proposed are so long that winning lotto is a certainty. Everything is not known to science – and I will say it again so that perhaps you will hear it this time – YOU CAN NO MORE TOUT SCIENCE AS ABSOLUTE IRREFUTABLE FACT THAN ANY THEOLOGIAN CAN OF GOD! You (science may well be right, but at this point in time it does not categorically know that because it keeps finding things that cause it to change it’s position). Why is humankind the ONLY species to achieve what it has? Many other species eat meat – apparently a necessity for such cognitive brain development, have opposable digits etc. Nothing about humans by comparison in a evolutionary sense truly provides any reason to put us where we are. Now if you actually bothered to read the Bible, you would see no where that it says that no other life exists apart from on Earth – it doesn’t tell us if there is or isn’t, similarly you would see that there was light on the FIRST day – the sun in whatever form that may be referring to was recorded on a later day – but there was OBVIOUSLY some form of light before any vegetation.

    Now as for a designer – scientifically (observe, measure and repeat), name me ONE object that you can show was not made (designed) by a more ‘intelligent’ being – beavers build dams, birds build nests, otters turn rocks into ‘hammers’, and look at the proliferation of things man makes etc. etc.. As for the ‘missing day’, the information I provided came from Archaeological and Astronomical research – two fields of science.

    • Craig Benno says:

      Brian, you have raised an important question within the framework of what came first…the chicken or the egg. For microisms, bugs, etc to survive…there had to have been a food source for them to eat and multiply to begin with. The question of light existing before the creation of the world is also an interesting one within the framework of the science of the big bang… We do know that light continually travels through space..and though the source of it may have been extinguished centuries or thousands of years before hand – we are often just seeing it now.

      Therefore within the frame work of the Big Bang… light would have existed before the creation of the sun/s within the framework of the existing big bang explosion / implosion and hence we do see science supporting the Biblical account of how humanity viewed and understood the creation of the world within the framework of the universe.

      • Brian Sleeman says:

        So true Craig, rather than immediately assuming that science has yet again proven the Bible wrong, it is wise to wait and see how often some new scientific discovery comes along to show how much closer to the two really are.

    • tildeb says:

      Brian, you seem to want to maintain your confusion. Several times now I’ve pointed out that science is not a result (which can often change with new information, new evidence) but a method of inquiry. This is important to understand what informs any scientific inquiry. Your list (observe, measure, repeat) reveals how little you seem to know about the method, which also lays bare the absurd claim that you think I “throw out the science” I don’t like. That’s simply not true. You further reveal how adamant you are to hold to this same script of your own making with the capitalized assertion that I hold science to be some source of irrefutable fact. Again, Brian, let me repeat: science is a method of inquiry, a method far superior in producing tangible results of useful knowledge that can be put to practical use than anything any theology can offer. Science as a method relies on reality to arbitrate what is and is not reasonable and reliable conclusions that matches the evidence. In contrast, religious claims have no similar method of inquiry nor any similar tangible results that are reasonable and reliable conclusions that matches the evidence. Your confusion about what science is and how it operates is only deepened when you pretend the creation myth somehow aligns with how life develops using its cosmological order as some kind of evidence of coherence. It’s not coherent. It’s a story that is factually incorrect. And we know it is incorrect because it does not match up with the evidence we have. You can pretend it is otherwise, but by doing so you are rejecting the role reality plays informing your beliefs. (And yes, there is very good evidence that underwater volcanic vents produce an environment conducive to all the conditions necessary to producing and sustaining life.)

      You fall into the trap of assumption when you argue that anything that looks designed requires a designer. What you are really suggesting is that there has to be some intentional and directing agency involved with design. You seem to fail to grasp (or simply ignore) my explanation why this not necessarily so. You are surrounded by mindless, agent-less, undirected natural forces of design every moment of every day. To cross the threshold into directed agency, you need to offer more than belief, more than assertion, more than assumption. You need to offer evidence that can withstand rigorous critical review. Using a story is not evidence. Show me the agency. Show me how this agency transfers its intentions into formation in reality and explain by what mechanism this is done. Show me designed effect, describe the cause of that design backed by evidence, and link the two by a mechanism that works in reality to be trustworthy and consistent and reliable. Until then, you’re not talking science; you’re talking about faith-based beliefs that do not align with the reality we share nor successfully address the evidence we gathered.

  11. tildeb says:

    Billions of years, Craig. Billions. Be clear. Billions

    You’ll note the method you are using here: you are trying to fit what you believe is true into what scientific inquiry is revealing. This is exactly backwards to honest inquiry. In no other area of inquiry do we first start with what we assume is true and then work backwards unless we hold that original assumption open to change. You are not holding open the notion that your original assumption – god is – might be false. That – right here, right now – shows clearly why science and faith-based beliefs are incompatible methods of inquiry. You assume you already have The Truth (Tm) and are willing to hold fast to that regardless of any evidence that may arise.

  12. Brian Sleeman says:

    No Tildeb, you all jump on the ‘science says’ therefore the Bible is wrong – but as science continues to learn and investigate (enquire) it turns out that the information presented in the Bible is very much aligned to science (you said we need (sun) light to produce life -and I showed you science that says ‘bollocks’ to that. And what science evidence may produce is a better understanding of how we need to read what is in the Bible – not because it is /was wrong, but because parts of it were written in a manner that allowed for our human minds and understanding to better process it.

    The basis of pure science is Observe, Measure and Repeat – that is how the enquiry methodology is verified – pure and simple, anything over and above that is extrapolation or implementation of that enquiry. If yo are not able to go and observe what as actually around 4 billion years ago, you can only assume (based on best information available today) how it COULD have happened. Mathematical models are wonderful things – tell me what answer you want and I can make a model to show it (and that came from a Mathematician who used to write mathematical models for scientific research).

    I didn’t say that everything HAD to have a designer, I just asked you for an example that scientifically could be shown NOT to have a designer.

    • tildeb says:

      Come on, Brian. The 60+ scriptural references to a geocentric solar system is not compatible with what is true. No matter how you bend your faith-based beliefs, no matter how much ‘interpreting’ you do, either the claim is true or it is false. There is no wiggle room when it comes to factual claims no matter how much or how often you proclaim the bible is compatible with what is true in reality. More importantly, the way you approach this inquiry – Is the bible true? – reveals clearly why science and faith are incompatible ways of knowing. You bend reality to suit scripture in order to maintain your brittle faith, whereas you have pointed out how the findings of scientific inquiry are quite capable of changing if there is good reason and good evidence to do so. That’s because the method of science respects reality, whereas religion does not. Your opinions themselves are excellent evidence for the truth of this claim.

      As for evidence against a designer, you should know just how monumental a task that is. That’s why no method of (honest) inquiry tries to use this approach (except and notably defenders of faith claims). Instead, those who make a positive claim are burdened by having to provide evidence for it.

      Why is this?

      I cannot prove (scientifically or otherwise) that you do NOT have an invisible pink elephant living in your ear, or that mushrooms are NOT intergalactic spies sent to gather information on cauliflower. If you just take a moment and think about the difficulty proving that neither claim is true, you should appreciate why demanding proof to disprove something is such a huge task: you have to rule everything else out FIRST. That’s simply not reasonable and is a tremendous waste of time and resources. That’s why the burden falls on those who DO insist the claims are true: you only need deal with that single claim and consider all the evidence for it. That’s why it falls on you to show good evidence for a Designer. And that’s why this notion has been defeated in court every time it is used to bolster the insertion of faith into science class: it’s strictly theology without a shred of evidence to back it up. But by all means prove me wrong. Show evidence and win a Nobel prize! I – along with scientists from around the world – will sing your praises!

      In the meantime – and I suspect it will be an eternal meantime – please understand that although you have every right to believe whatever woo you want, you have a responsibility to others not to promote it as anything other than what it is: faith-based belief in the truth of scripture contrary to what is true in reality.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Similarly, you raised the question of how any sane person could believe in the ‘oggity boogity’ method. I would ask how any sane (and educated) person belives that Nothing became something, which was lifeless, and then came to life? There ia absolutely no scientific precedence upon which to base such a notion. Or even, lets assume there was lots of Hydrogen – where did it come from? You see, by scientific analysis you still end up a t a point of – It just was.

    Science also says that the timeline has to be so long because of radioactive half lives etc etc. BUT you they do not know whether during the inital stages of ‘creation’ of the universe if there were some catalytic forces that accelerated radioactive decay etc. It’s all just ‘IF everything is as we know it NOW, THEN…..’

    By the basis of scientific enquiry – Observe, Repeat and Measure (that is science in it’s purest form) then Intelligent Design is as viable a scientific theory as any Random Chance. Intelligent Design may lead to an ‘untennable’ position, but just because you don’t like where it takes you doesn’t mean you can ignore it.

    So let’s look at 2 scientific theories of the universe…

    1. There was nothing, nothing became something – and even though nothing can travel faster than light – this something within minutes had grown to over several thousand light years in size. That something which was dead, then produced life. So, matter which can be neither created nor destroyed only changed – where was the matter at the beginning? (oops there was none, so much for keeping thinds existing in time and space). And where has science observed sterile becoming life?

    2. Something designed and implemented everything we see and know. Where did this ‘Something’ come from – well probably it existed outside of our reality, but we don’t know for certain. How can we possibly accept this scentifically, well we observe so many design complex things around us (and by us), so we do have scientific precedence to accept this as being plausible. Does this mean that this ‘Something’ is intimately involved in the goings on of this universe? Not directly, to determine that we would either need to see direct scientific evidence or have some other acceptable measure of evidence – like maybe the accounts of some eye witnesses (perfectly acceptable evidence in a Court of Law).

    So very simply put, between these two scientific theorums – which one has the greatest ‘scientific’ support?

    The difference here is that I don’t rely on science to prove or disprove the Bible – science has it’s place in providing understanding of the natural world that we reside in. The Bibles place is about providing an understanding of our true nature, purpose and spiritual ‘construct’. Just as you don’t see your mechanic for a medical condition, why would you try and use science to verify something outside of it’s area of expertise?

    • tildeb says:

      The ‘something from nothing’ stumbling block seems to rather foremost in your mind, so I’ll repost this again. Here’s another. A short one here to explain the quantum physics notion of the uncertainty principle involved and this article that does an excellent job explaining how we get something from nothing all the time.

    • tildeb says:

      I’ve posted a response that has four links in it – the final one an article with great graphics explaining why we get something from nothing all the time and that in terms of physics really shouldn’t be such a stumbling block – so it’s gone into moderation. Hopefully, Craig will release it sooner than later.

      • Craig Benno says:

        I don’t know why it went into the pending list Tildeb. It might have been because of the links.

      • Brian Sleeman says:

        Hi Tildeb, thanks for the links – I had a quick read of the links – still seems to be lacking some fundamental requirements to me. For example, if there literally was nothing, there would be no location for a vacuum, nor ‘limits’ with in which such forces to build up. I will read them further in more detail later.

  14. Brian Sleeman says:

    I put up a post that seems to have not saved! So here is much condensed version.

    Tildeb, you claim science is not held as irrefutable fact – yet you insist on saying that science has proved the Bible wrong – sounds like ‘fact’ to me.

    How any sane person can believe that nothing became something and then started living seems as ‘out there’ as any other ‘oogity boogity’ idea.

    In terms of science – Nothing became something (but science says matter can be niether created nor destroyed – unless it happened ‘outside’ space and time, which I guess scientifically it had to – because until the universe started what / where was space and time?), And light is the fastest thing – yet within minutes the universe was thousands of light years wide (oops science takes a back seat again!). And what was created was sterile – but hello, it suddenly produced life. What scientific precedence is there for that?

    Something designed and implemented something else. Now what scientific precedence do we have for that? (Yes, that does raise questions about where that Something came from etc. – but there is other forms of acceptable evidence, other than science,to attempt to answer that)

    Both are scientific theories and yet many scientists reject the second one – not because of it’s poor science – but because it serves their own purpose to do so.

    You wouldn’t see your mechanic to have a medical condition looked into, Why would you try and use science to understand theology?

  15. Pingback: The Atheist and Christian discussion continued… part 4 The Theistic Agnostic. | Trinitarian Dance

  16. Pingback: The Atheist & Christian discussion continued–part 5 Reasons for the faith. | Trinitarian Dance

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