atheism, intelligent design, Pascal’s wager

In this post, Larimore writes of life from the perspective of an atheist. Much of what he says I have no context with. If I would have no contest, it is the extravagant claim about the purpose of life. If any purpose can be identified, I think it is the purpose of life to propagate itself. My friend arch reminds us when he can that reciprocity is a sufficient source of morals or is it good behavior. I think with that we can dispense with his post.

Two others have chosen to respond to his post.

In his response, Jerry Fogltance talks of about Pascal’s wager, albeit in a roundabout way. He asks

Which position carries the greatest risk if in the end proves wrong?

and tells us

Obviously, the atheist takes the greatest risk for the very God he has denied may hold him accountable.

There are many reasons why the wager isn’t a good argument; one could be worshiping the wrong god, the god being worshipped may be angered by every thoughtless worshipper, and especially because the wager demands one forsake reason to accept it.

In response to the claim that religion, for most, if not all its adherents is a crutch, he says

But atheism is also embraced as a crutch by those unable to live up to their own moral standards and afraid of being accountable to God.

to which I can only say the chaplain has met no atheist. He doesn’t know any of us. Anyone who believes following a god who commits genocide is good manners shouldn’t be anywhere near children.

It boggles the mind when an intelligent person claims

Christians believe God is transcendent; that is, he exists outside the system of the universe, beyond the reach of microscopes and telescopes.

and thinks they have made a good argument for belief. I will say here with D’Holdbach that if god is unknowable for the human mind, then maybe we shouldn’t be wasting time talking about it. And worse believing in it.

The chaplain then makes a fallacious argument. He argues, because he is unable to explain something, therefore god. In his words

There are also things in the universe that cannot be explained apart from the existence and creative power of God. None can explain by natural evolution where the personal qualities of humans came from – like love, creativity, the ability to communicate thought verbally, musical expression, moral motions and free will.

All these can be argued to be natural responses observable in most life forms. Freewill is an illusion. And from the chaplain’s argument, I can with justice say that without god we can’t explain racism, hate, jealousy, greed, gluttony and whatever else you can think about.

The chaplain is distressed and is unable to accept the claim that

Humans are the outcome of blind evolutionary processes that operate without goal or purpose. Our actions are not part of some divine cosmic plan . Any meaning that people ascribe to their lives is just a delusion.

He wants to believe that he is the result of a divine plan.

Jerry then goes on a blame game; you atheists have killed so many and we this many. An argument that I think fails to deal with the question at hand. It is unforgivable that atheistic governments have killed so many people, whatever their drives. To kill in the name of god and it does nothing, whether it’s just a single fatality is an indictment on the god. And the believer should explain away the atheist murders as well. What was god doing while they took place? Wasn’t this an opportunity for god to show once and for all its existence?

Annagail Hoskins in her response attempts to make a case for intelligent design. She says she is a student. While I don’t want to distract from her argument, I would be interested in knowing where she goes to school.

She starts by saying

It is more reasonable to believe that an intelligent creator designed the universe rather than the world magically making itself.

which would be reasonable had these two been the only alternatives, but they aren’t.

I agree with her

How illogical to claim the incredibly complex human body randomly evolved from pond scum

but nobody is making that claim.

She is jesting when she writes

Christianity is a worldview consistent with observable fact

for I can bet none of us alive has seen anyone survive in a fish for any moment of time, a person live for 900 yrs, or a woman give birth at 90. Which observable facts is she referring to?

She asks us

But if the Earth created you, who created the Earth

and continues

Every event that happens is an effect of a cause. The beginning of the universe must have had a cause. However, this thing or person that caused the universe to exist must be independent of the universe, or it could not have created the universe. The fact that there is something (the universe), rather than nothing, points to a creator

which is a loaded paragraph. Every effect has a cause; no context. The beginning of the universe, and if had a beginning, is unknown. And beyond what is knowable we are all in the dark. We can speculate. We must always be reminded that speculation isn’t fact.

I think statements like

However, years of rigorous textual criticism have proven the Bible to be historically reliable. It is internally consistent and collaborative of the writings of ancient historians, making it one of the most reliable collections of historical documents. The New Testament is more well-documented than any other religious or historical text, including the works of Aristotle, a philosopher Nicholl admires.

betray ignorance on her part on what is known about how the bible was written and much more.

I agree with her

The 20th century was the bloodiest century in human history. Hundreds of millions of people were killed in the name of atheistic communism.

and it was mostly one Christian killing another for the love of the creator.

It is our hope that we will grow up to stop killing each other, especially for imaginary gods.

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The case for Jesus H. Christ

I think the Jesus whose story is told in the bible didn’t exist. I don’t know whether the character was built on a real person[s]. If I was asked to make a case for Socrates, the base facts to begin with would have been the parents, when and where they lived and if possible a few of  his contemporaries. We would name Crito, Xenophon, as his contemporaries, a birth place would be named, and so many other facts.

In an attempt to make a case for the existence of Jesus, apologists have resorted to make assertions about the resurrection that they think if are agreed on, would compel even the skeptic to change his mind on the historicity. This assertions come from WLC he of the DCT and the KCA.

Before you read the assertions, here is a piece that you should begin with. It sheds some light on the problem we will try to answer below.

The assertions are called facts and are as listed below.

  • FACT #1: After his crucifixion, Jesus was buried in a tomb by Joseph of Arimathea. 
  • FACT #2: On the Sunday following the crucifixion, Jesus’ tomb was found empty by a group of his women followers.
  • FACT #3: On multiple occasions and under various circumstances, different individuals and groups of people experienced appearances of Jesus alive from the dead.
  • FACT #4: The original disciples believed that Jesus was risen from the dead despite their having every predisposition to the contrary.

Tell me, friends, who tells the life of a person they know based only on their deaths and the events that happened thereafter. These four above are not facts, they are assertions. The christian asserts that Jesus was buried and resurrected. It is not a fact. I wouldn’t even want to discuss whether he died on the cross or not and whether there is a tomb or not for this would lend credence to a legend. The issue that must first be settled is who were his parents, when and where was he born and who were his contemporaries if any.

On assertion number three, there is none, repeat none, skeptic who Jesus appeared to. Neither did this apparition appear to Pilate, to the Pharisees, to the gentiles. The people who claim to have seen him can all be said to be those who already believed such an event would occur. Besides, Paul whose writings as quoted as being aware of 500 witnesses didn’t see Jesus, if he existed. It can actually be said, whoever Paul is, he is the creator of this Jesus narrative.

Point 4, is confirmation bias. There is no proof of this. There is no record left by any of the supposed disciples telling us what happened. What we have are anonymous gospel accounts that tell the story.

The apologist tells us on point 3

The appearance traditions in the gospels provide multiple, independent attestation of these appearances. This is one of the most important marks of historicity. The appearance to Peter is independently attested by Luke, and the appearance to the Twelve by Luke and John. We also have independent witness to Galilean appearances in Mark, Matthew, and John, as well as to the women in Matthew and John.

This ignores the scholarship on the NT that shows that Mark was the first to be written and Mathew & Luke borrowed from it. It is no rocket science that they will have a similar story with a few additions like the different genealogy stories in Mathew and Luke. John’s gospel is written later in the day, it is only a credulous person who will take it as evidence on the matter.

Anyone who has spent a considerable amount of time reading on the Jesus story knows that the Josephus text mentioning Zombie Jesus is most likely a forgery.

The statement

There is no reason to think that the early church would generate fictitious stories concerning the unbelief of Jesus’ family had they been faithful followers all along

is in need of demonstration. Eusebius? seems to have no qualms lying for Jesus. To claim they wouldn’t lie is to put them on a high pedestal without the slightest justification. There is no reason to believe they couldn’t lie. We have no reason to believe those who claim to have seen the golden plates Joseph Smith translated to the book of Mormons as saying the truth.

In conclusion, we find this comment

So I guess the problem here is that I’ve made a minimal facts case and cited historians across the ideological spectrum for the four facts – including people like Gerd Ludemann and Bart Ehrman! You’ve responded with your opinion, and cited no scholars to either refute the four facts, or to propose an alternative naturalistic explanation to the subset of minimal facts

ably demonstrates the thin case on which the assertions for Jesus lie so that it has been reduced to minimal facts assertions that are themselves in need of demonstration. And why ignore the historicists who argue this fellow Jesus as portrayed in the bible did not exist? If my faith and life in the nether world depended on it, the case I would be making wouldn’t be based on minimal assertions. I would make a proper case.

And lastly, please, please Jesus apologists, read beyond William Craig and Strobel. Start by reading Celsus’ arguments against the Christians. I promise it will not kill you to read something different, maybe just enlighten you.

William LC case for the resurrection of Jesus

I have chosen to write this response here because in the OP, in a response to one person who read and commented on his article he wrote

 Most comments from atheists are sent to spam. I have a lot of atheists that attempt to “refute” articles on my website on a daily basis. I simply do not have time to debate all of you through comments on my website. If you must know what I thought of your response, I thought it was crude, logically incoherent, and highlighted some of the glaring issues in the atheist worldview.

and since we are most of the time quite generous and polite, we will have no problem if he chooses to respond to us. However, we will not allow an insult on the host or his friends. That would be against house rules.

On this blog atheism means the lack of belief in god[s]. We spend time once in a while reading posts by theists to just to get to know what new argument they have developed in their arsenal of non arguments for  god. We are here pleased to present to you the existential argument against atheism. If you have never come across it, don’t worry, we too had not heard about it till a few days ago. And here is why you may not have heard it

The Existential Argument is an argument that I developed, and it focuses on how the atheist must borrow from the Christian worldview in order live their own lives.

Let us pause for a while here. The Muslim must borrow from the christian, the Buddhist, the Hindu, the Baha’i, the adherent of Africa Traditional religion! You see what happens when we close our eyes and minds? But let us read on, he tells

I have developed this argument to bolster the Transcendental Argument for God, and I consider it to be an extension of Van Tillian and Clarkian philosophy. This argument can be used by Van Tillian presuppositional apologists, Classical apologists, and Clarkian presuppositional apologists

in the name of all that is reasonable, who are these people and why are several arguments needed to justify  an omnipotent god. Please tell me and tell me clearly, what part of omnipotence requires apologetics. The universe is, nobody argues against its existence. The philosophical question that I have heard is

how do we know that what we see around us is the real deal, and not some grand illusion perpetuated by an unseen force?

More on this for a future post.

We are told the argument has two aspects

These two aspects are meaning(anthropology) and morality(axiology)

and we are told

The argument shows the atheist that they have to borrow from the presuppositions and implications of the Christian worldview in order to live a coherent lifestyle

in a short while we will hopefully be told what these are. Just be patient. However, we will digress just a moment to clear things up. A delusion is defined as

 a belief held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary

and we must ask for a justification for

The Existential Argument is a deductive argument that falsifies the atheist worldview by demonstrating that it is a delusion.

The argument has been formulated thus

1. If a worldview is true then you should be able to live consistently with that worldview.

2. Atheists are unable to live consistently with their worldview.

3. If you can’t live consistently with an atheist worldview then the worldview does not reflect reality.

4. If a worldview does not reflect reality then that worldview is a delusion.

5. If atheism is a delusion then atheism cannot be true.

Conclusion: Atheism is false.

Each of these premises are problematic. Premise #1, a worldview must not be true for one to live consistently with it. My grandfathers believed there were spirits everywhere, good and bad, who needed appeasing and they lived consistently with such a worldview. It wasn’t true. So the premise falls on that point.

#2 unless one is an atheist, this premise is open to disproof. If atheism is a lack of belief in gods, what are these presuppositions it makes?

#3 falls with two.

#4 delusions deal with beliefs. We could grant that 4 is correct

#5 it is this that is in need of proof. It cannot be the argument and at the same time a premise.

There is no way in getting to the conclusion using the above premises. They are weak, poorly formulated and tell us nothing.

A spoiler, the arguments you are yet to see read like WLC copycat maybe it is a clone, we can never know, can we? He lists these as the starting point for Christianity

1. Axiology-There are moral values that have prescriptive value. That is to say, there are things we are morally obligated to do or not do.

2. Metaphysics- Nature exists, but there are also things that exist beyond nature.

3. Epistemology-In the Christian worldview, God is omniscient. Thus, knowledge must be possible, for if an all knowing being exists, then it is necessary that knowledge also be possible, or else the being could not really be all knowing. You can’t have a description of reality where knowledge isn’t possible and still have an omniscient being.

4. Teleology- The universe and its inhabitants have a purpose in life.

5. Theology-God exists.

6. Anthropology-All individuals have purpose in life.

7. Cosmology-God created the universe.

and these

1. Axiology-There can be no objective moral values in atheism, they must be relative to each individual.

2. Metaphysics- Nature is all that can exist.

3. Epistemology-Nothing can ultimately be known because we don’t have perfect knowledge.

4. Teleology- There is no purpose for humanity.

5. Theology- God does not exist.

6. Anthropology- There is no ultimate purpose for the universe.

7. Cosmology-Evolution is the only game in town for atheism.

and these for atheism. In order to refute those  listed under atheism, in no particular order, we contend here that theology being the study of god has offered no results. We are where we were in 212 BCE with Tertullian. Anthropology is the study of humankind, past and present, that draws and builds upon knowledge from social and biological sciences, as well as the humanities and the natural sciences and has nothing to do with whether the universe has purpose or not. And while here, why must things have ultimate purposes. What is the theist’s obsession with absolutes, ultimate-s and infinites? Cosmology  is the study of the origins and eventual fate of the universe and has nothing or little to do with the beginning and progress of life. Naturalistic evolution, the only game in town, deals with the progress of life in the universe and ID or creationism isn’t an alternative theory.  The theist as we have said elsewhere must first tell us what god intended to arrive at the conclusion that the universe is designed. Moral values are subjective but have an objective appearance because of our shared humanity. Nature is all that is. Show me that which is non nature and I will change my mind. Our knowledge is infinite in the extent that we are always able to discover something new about the universe but this is provisional. There can always be a better explanation.

One more point that I need to add; I plead guilty to the charge of nihilism. This doesn’t mean I can’t find things that give my life meaning, on the contrary the realization that life is absurd calls for a revolt not suicide. And to not commit suicide, I have to create meaning or look for those things that would make my days worthwhile. If the theist thinks there is an ultimate purpose in the universe, please tell me what this is. I need to know it.

He tells us about the absurdity of life without god[how he knows this is still unknown] and writes

Loren Eisley writes, “Man is the cosmic orphan. He’s the only creature in the universe who asks, ‘Why?’

He’s the only creature we know asks why, we don’t know whether baboons do. We have no way of telling.

Apart from reading Craig, is lying also part of the deal for apologists? We are told

 Ever since the period of Enlightenment there has been a part of humanity that has been trying to shake off ‘the shackles of religion.’ They began trying to answer the questions in life without God.

which is not true. The Greeks several years before the christian era started questioning the existence of deities. Democritus was a thorough going materialist and determinist. To say the question of a godless universe started with the enlightenment demonstrates that one is either ignorant of the facts, a liar or both, you decide.

He tells us this about the answers, and it is good to hear it from him

the answers that came back were not at all exhilarating, rather, they were dark and terrible: You are nothing more than the unintentional bi-product of matter, plus energy, plus time, plus chance. There is no ultimate reason for your existence, all you face is death.

There is nothing dark about the answers. That they are dark is a subjective judgement of one individual and is not true for all. It is a great mystery being alive considering we are just atoms combined just slightly different from the combination in the stone. This is not a terrible or dark thing, at least I don’t find it so.  It is terrible to think you are the product of a god who is jealous, angry and vengeful. A god who punishes up to the fourth generation and has decided in his great wisdom that a great percentage of our race will be punished for eternity [and that’s a long time] for not believing in him, when there was never evidence for his/ her/ its existence. Please tell me which is darker!

I could be wrong, but Christians have been telling for a long time now we live in the end times. Science in talking about the eventual death of the universe doesn’t anticipate a divine destroyer waiting to pass judgement, it makes a prediction based on mathematical models of what would happen in different scenarios and not so with the theist. Their god is waiting on the day of judgement to try us for mind crimes. He makes no argument against atheism by writing

The universe also faces a death of its own. The universe is expanding, galaxies and other heavenly bodies are growing farther apart. As the energy dissipates the universe will grow colder, stars will become dark, all matter and will collapse into black holes and there will be no light. There will be no heat, no life, but only the corpses of dead stars and galaxies, ever expanding into the darkness. The entire universe is moving irretrievably to its grave. There is no escape, no hope.

I will go with Dante when he said if god did not exist, one had to be created. I will also agree with the philosopher who said with god everything is permitted. I disagree with anyone who argues that without god there is no morals. The universe is ultimately absurd consider the things you do daily; you eat, shit, eat again an endless cycle just so you don’t die from hunger or showering every so often and still having to repeat the exercise, all absurdity. In the dialogue between Socrates and Euthyphro, we learn that introducing gods in the discussion about piety/ good does not solve the problem. In fact looking at the argument, it is immediately obvious that good and bad are independent of gods.

When the author tells us

The Christian worldview is the only worldview that is logically consistent when you take all seven presuppositions into account

he ignores the question of their truth. An argument can be logically sound but still invalid. The above presuppositions for the christian worldview though consistent with it are utterly false when checked against reality.

The author anticipates some of the objections and one I already mentioned here. But then he writes

Atheists, like Christians, have a theological portion of their worldview; however, their particular presupposition is that there is no god.

Theology is the study of the nature of god and his interaction with the world/ universe. Atheism is a lack of belief in gods. How, tell me, does a person come up with such a ridiculous statement?

In conclusion he writes

 From the very time that an atheist begins to try to engage us, they end up losing the debate because they had to presuppose ideas that are not kosher with an atheist worldview

A statement that has been shown to be false every time we engage theists. They scatter to the nearest hole to bring up Craig, Platinga and CS Lewis or at worst Lee Strobel.

Am done here, if there is anything we have learnt from this argument, it is a rehash of WLC bullshit and makes not a stride against atheism.

As a bonus

Atheism epic fail

Epic atheism fail

Blog Break 12: Thoughts out of season

Fellow sufferers, I haven’t been asked, but I have seen it asked elsewhere by theists, why do we write about our disbelief? They ask why do we engage with theists? I don’t know about you, but I write first because I enjoy writing; two because I enjoy a good conversation with people and especially so that someone who is so steeped in religion may be inspired by my work to think about his/her religion, to entertain some doubt of the received teaching, put it on the table of reason and adopt only those portions, if any, that pass. I write also as a response to what religious apologists write, just so that anyone who happens to come by the particular post may someday find a refutation of the same, at least, to have to hear from both sides.

Having said that, it is for one of the said reasons that I will consider this post, in which the author a preacher comments about a debate he watched but expresses his bias from the word go. He starts by writing

[…]I started to think again about the validity of an “Un-categorized” category. It seems to me that this category is akin to an atheist position while the un-checking of all categories is more like the agnostic position.

Where he contends that the atheist position is un-categorised. I hope the rest of his post will tell us more why this is so. He says the opening statements of the atheists are what irked him from the word go. So what did the atheists say?

Atheism is merely the absence of believe in any God. We are all born atheists, we must be taught to be theists

and

Atheism is a lack of a belief. So I would just like to remind all of you that you are atheists… when it comes to Zeus, Apollo, Thor, or any of the other countless imaginary people that we’ve come up through human history.

Anyone who thinks this definitions are contentious please raise up your hand….. well, I will refer us to wikipedia where atheism is defined as

 in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist.

Now that we have established that the two atheists were right in their definitions, as well as their qualifying remarks about children being born atheists and that almost everyone alive today is atheist in reference to Thor or Zeus, let us now proceed to the issues the OP has with atheists. He writes

To me this seems so untrue that I can’t believe it came from the mouth of a self-proclaimed “agnostic atheist” (kind of a contradiction in terms itself, like an “Independent Republican”)

The contradiction rests only in his mind and his failure to understand whatever he sets out to attack. There is no contradiction in terms in a person claiming to be an agnostic atheist. As has been said countless times, agnosticism deals with knowledge claims, and especially about the nature of god, atheism deals with the question of belief or lack thereof. Therefore, when one calls himself agnostic atheist, there is no contradiction.

Do we have to sell dictionaries or distribute fliers to explain the simple fact that atheism is simply a lack of belief in the existence of gods and not a belief system. One wonders why, with the availability of online articles on atheism, a person would still write

you can never say that your system of belief about God is the absence of belief. That makes no sense. How can a structured belief system consider itself to be the lack of all belief. I might agree if they were trying to represent a purely agnostic position, but the “agnostic atheist” can’t make those claims.

and show to the world his ignorance of what he purports to write about? Is it part of christian apologetics to misrepresent atheism to an extent that anyone reading their posts is left more confused that they began? Isn’t rather fair that both sides, as much as possible, at least stick to facts?

He continues by conceding

that we are born atheists, but we’re also born without language and any knowledge of history or science. These all must be taught. You could argue that the only thing we can be seen to be born with is some general morality, though that needs to be fostered through development, and that would seem to point to the competing perspective.

many things that no one contends. We are born without any belief, that much should be obvious to anyone with half a brain. Why he makes it an issue is beyond me.

But his next statement is both shocking and unwarranted. He writes

There is an inherent superiority and snobbery in saying that your system of belief is somehow the default belief. By declaring it as the absence of all belief, you then put the burden of proof on the theist. In my opinion, the person making that point then is basically saying that they have no reason to be an atheist, they are just one by faith.

Last I checked, truth claims, do not respect how a person feels. If you feel inferior that your position ain’t the default position, hang it elsewhere. Examine your beliefs and get a life. And yes, the burden of proof rests squarely with the theist. If you don’t like it, don’t be a theist or easier still don’t write about it. And you are wrong, placing the burden of proof where it belongs shows the person knows his stuff and knows who should be asked to provide evidence for their claims. As your friendly atheist, :-P, wow me with the evidence. I can’t wait to be persuaded.

His next statement is quite ridiculous. He claims, he knows that the above definition

 is not the normal atheist position

and one expects that he will tell us about what this position is. But alas! I must be too ambitious to expect so much from him. He writes

I’m used to Hitchens and others who are brilliant men and persuasive debaters.

Friends, please help me here! Did Hitchens have a different definition for atheism and who are these others our interlocutor is used to?

And as is usual, it gets to the point where the theist decides not to make any sense. For we read

 I know atheists that have spent a lot of time researching and debating within themselves and others and have come to some kind of reasoned atheism. I would challenge that, but I respect that.

Don’t you all think if he knows such atheists as he claims, he would at least know the definition of atheism, he would know with whom the burden of proof lies and lastly he would know that there is no snobbery in declaring the atheist position is the default position.

One wonders why the theist always has to reduce atheism to his level? For, why, tell me, a statement such as

I am opposed to un-reasoned faith of any kind, atheist or theist.

still appear on the web? Are people so impervious to learning?

All too often Christians have made such silly anti-intellectual claims that belie the fact that they haven’t really wrestled with any kind of opposition.

The jury is out on who has made silly anti-intellectual claims. The two atheists or this theist who set to correct them? I have taken my vote, it is a win for the atheists. It is the christian who has made a fool of himself, by setting out to write about atheism and then showing in so many words that he knows nothing or close to nothing about atheism and should remain a preacher, for that is a job that in many cases requires little learning.

It was fun writing this post :-P!