The Overconfidence of Modern Day Atheism

In a previous posting, I noted that modern day atheism is defined by its overconfidence, lack of nuance, and lack of curiosity.  The New Atheist movement itself is merely something that naturally emerged as a means to celebrate and amplify these traits given the right catalyst – 911.

Recently, J. H. McKenna makes a point that adds further support to my thesis.  Consider what he observes:

When I speak with atheists nowadays, I sometimes ask them to compose a short 200-word essay explaining why they disbelieve. (That would be about three paragraphs in this piece you are reading—not long.) But these atheists refuse to write 200 words and tell me they would just as soon write 200 words on why they don’t believe in the Phoenix as write 200 words explaining why they disbelieve in God. To them, the notion of God is as fabulous as the Phoenix. Why waste time composing 200 words justifying incredulity about the Phoenix?

And there it is.   You could not ask for a more clear demonstration of overconfidence coupled with a lack of nuance and curiosity.  This is, after all, an argument from incredulity.  The overconfidence is so extreme they cannot be bothered to write a 200 word essay explaining why they disbelieve.   And the notion that “God is as fabulous as the Phoenix” crowds out any sense of nuance and curiosity.

So we now have two lines of powerful evidence for thinking modern day atheism is characterized by overconfidence, a lack of nuance, and a lack of curiosity.

  1. My analysis:

Start with perhaps the most common of modern atheist claims – “There is no evidence for God.”  This claim is inherently overconfident.  For how can the atheist be so sure there is no evidence for God?  After all, it’s one thing to express an opinion that explicitly states “I don’t see any evidence for God.”  But to make an all-encompassing truth claim that is supposed to be True for all – “there is no evidence for God” – couldn’t be a clearer demonstration of swaggering overconfidence.

Another way to determine that inherent overconfidence is embedded in this position is to simply ask the atheist what would count as evidence for God.  As many here probably know by now, most atheists struggle mightily with this question.  But how can that be?  The question is simple and highly relevant.  It’s a question anyone with even modest critical thinking skills would have pondered before proudly proclaiming “There is no evidence!”   The atheist struggles because the “no evidence” claim is essentially hollow and has been propped up with overconfidence.

It gets better when they finally do try to come up with an answer.  And as we also know, the answer invariably is some demand for some super-duper, stupendous miracle that could not ever possibly be explained by natural causes.  In other words, zero tolerance for nuance.  The atheist needs something Painfully Obvious and Completely Undeniable.   And the complete lack of curiosity is on display in that the atheist will accept nothing less than a super-duper, stupendous miracle that could not ever possibly be explained by natural causes.

So the overconfidence, lack of nuance, and lack of curiosity are traits that serve as foundational pillars for modern day atheism.

  1. McKenna’s observation:

When I speak with atheists nowadays, I sometimes ask them to compose a short 200-word essay explaining why they disbelieve. (That would be about three paragraphs in this piece you are reading—not long.) But these atheists refuse to write 200 words and tell me they would just as soon write 200 words on why they don’t believe in the Phoenix as write 200 words explaining why they disbelieve in God. To them, the notion of God is as fabulous as the Phoenix. Why waste time composing 200 words justifying incredulity about the Phoenix?

This entry was posted in atheism, New Atheism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

160 Responses to The Overconfidence of Modern Day Atheism

  1. stcordova says:

    Asking for super duper demonstrations isn’t inherently a wrong thing to want, imho. It’s certainly something I would value. So I don’t fault them too much for that. To me that isn’t what really shows their lack of nuance.

    Their lack of nuance is shown by the fact they don’t even see they are unjustifiably overconfident. They lack sufficient skepticism about their own ability to understand things, and it is especially comical when they say stupid stuff or show how easily they are duped (as in Poed) and don’t even realize it and think they are qualified to be judges of all reality for everyone else in the universe.

    Now regarding super duper demonstrations, I recall attending a talk by Astronaut Charles Duke who walked on the moon. He became a Christian after returning from the moon. He became wealthy. He was a national hero, had fame, fortune and influence, but his life was lacking. After becoming a Christian, he prayed for a blind girl and the girl’s eyesight was restored almost instantly! Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not, but it would seem to me one might not want to offend a deity who may have granted a miracle.

    I recall when I studied under a physics professor, the first day of class he remarked how miraculous it was science worked so well. And indeed science cannot work well if there were not the miraculous fine tuning in the universe. Does fine tuning not count as a miracle? That is a universal scale miracle! In my book it does, but it’s just not the sort of miracle that someone will see if they are not thoughtful and willing to see nuance! Sure it’s fine to want in-your-face miracles. I occasionally pray for them myself. But maybe God seeks after believers willing to see nuance, because the willingness to see nuance is a quality of a true seeker.

    New Atheists in seem to insist God be an on-demand vending machine for their own convenience before they believe. That is to say, unless God shows up when they demand him to, they refuse to believe. But such a god-on-demand god is no God, whereas a God who shows up rarely and on His terms aligns with what I would expect of a real God, much like I would expect a President or King not to be an individual on demand of our whims.

    It never occurs to new Atheists, they might be the ones who are under scrutiny and are being tested to see the quality of their character and whether they are fools for taking God so lightly. Instead they pretend they are the god and judges of reality, and that God must prove Himself to them before they approve of God’s existence. I can imagine God laughing at New Atheists.

    New Atheists posture themselves as being so smart and wise, but the New Atheists, unlike the Old Atheists who were smart and wise (like Bertrand Russell and John Stewart Mill) are pretty shallow, and more and more of them aren’t educated in hard science, but rather social “science” and maybe that’s why so many of them now a days are SJWs.

  2. FZM says:

    To them, the notion of God is as fabulous as the Phoenix. Why waste time composing 200 words justifying incredulity about the Phoenix?

    I’m not sure what kind of results I’d get if I asked the atheists I meet in real life to write 200 words describing what reality consists of, what is real and what isn’t, what exists etc., and how we know.
    It seems like that should be the starting point or basis for being able to prove that the notion of God is as fabulous as the notion of the Phoenix and that this isn’t an unfounded assumption or largely subjective belief.

    Also, the McKenna article says at one point that the idea of God was thoroughly shredded by the 1960s, that just got me thinking what kinds of beliefs and ideas might have contributed to creating and sustaining the impression at that time; the power of Revolutionary Marxism, Satre’s Existentialist philosophy, Freudian Psychoanalysis, Behaviourism, Logical Postivism and so on. 40 years later, that people believed that stuff seems fabulous in itself.

  3. Dhay says:

    McKenna >

    And now, in the twenty-first century, the very latest version of unbelief is total indifference to God owing to the complete implausibility of the God idea for these people. Such individuals do not rise to the level and label of ‘atheist’

    Modern atheists ain’t what they used to be.

  4. Ilíon says:

    And the complete lack of curiosity is on display in that the atheist will accept nothing less than a super-duper, stupendous miracle that could not ever possibly be explained by natural causes.

    Even that won’t do it, since he himself is the prime example of very sort of thing “that could not ever possibly be explained by natural causes”. Hence, the reason that ‘atheists’ are forever “explaining” humans’ natures as rational beings, as persons, as moral agents, by explaining-away rationality and agency and personhood and morality.

  5. John says:

    So in light of their being unwilling to write out a 200 word document then why do they waste their life combating Jesus and Christians.

    See my attached article.

  6. Scott Edwards says:

    Earlier someone here linked me to this argument, and here it is again. In response I had mentioned the distinction between a valid argument and a sound argument. A valid argument is one in which the conclusion follows from the premises. A sound is a valid argument whose premises are true. Here you present an argument of the form

    If [some extraordinary, miraculous event will occur], then evidence for God exists.

    I previously discussed the unnecessary suppositions contained in the argument, but even putting those aside, and even granting that the argument is valid (both giant gifts), we are still left with an unsound argument. We have no good reason to believe that [some extraordinary, miraculous event will occur] is true, and good reasons to believe it is probably false.

    One of William Lane Craig’s talking points is the importance of making a sound, as opposed to merely a valid, argument.

  7. FZM says:

    I previously discussed the unnecessary suppositions contained in the argument, but even putting those aside, and even granting that the argument is valid (both giant gifts), we are still left with an unsound argument. We have no good reason to believe that [some extraordinary, miraculous event will occur] is true, and good reasons to believe it is probably false.

    As I read it, Michael was providing a critique of atheists who claim that ‘there is no evidence for God’ because for them the only thing that could count as evidence for God was some spectacular miracle that had no conceivable naturalistic explanation. In the absence of such a miracle they conclude there must be no evidence for God.

    If they added the argument that it is very unlikely that such a miracle will or can happen in the first place, this looks like it reinforces the critique outlined in the O/P above.

    If they tried to introduce the argument that whatever events took place there would be little justification in seeing them as miraculous or as having any bearing on the question of the existence of God, it seems they would be undercutting their own original position.

  8. Dhay says:

    pennywit > Note: A potential argument against the fine-tuning hypothesis. [Linked]

    A problem with your argument by link to some else’s online essay is that although most of its 81 paragraphs are short, the whole is 3,030 words long; it’s quite a read, it’s a big task to digest and consider it carefully in all its details, and it would be a massive task to reply to it thoughtfully: it’s an enormous amount of work to do — most will just glance and pass.

    I see that to understand the essay fully, I also need to click through to read a dozen or so linked other articles to find out what François Tremblay is arguing about and against and to assess each article, its arguments, and Tremblay’s counters; then there’s the further time and labour of considering and formulating replies: it’s a massive task.

    If you wish to argue by proxy, by 81-paragraph blog post type essay by someone who might or might not (it’s unclear) have sufficient background in astrophysics and cosmology, philosophy of science, or ideally both, to understand fine tuning arguments well enough to make knowledgeable and coherent arguments — and note that I cannot, either — I too can argue by proxy, by a 77 page peer-reviewed scientific paper by the astrophysicist Luke Barnes.

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1112.4647 for the Abstract, link onwards for a downloadable pdf.

    I read the paper through properly fully two or more years ago, but definitely remember the paper shreds the credibility of Victor Stenger’s attempted refutation of fine tuning by “MonkeyGod” computer simulation, which attempted refutation Tremblay adduces in support of his arguments.

    But that’s just from the briefest glance through, which is all the attention I intend to give Tremblay’s article; my response is really just to say, don’t argue by web-link, you usually won’t even get a reply like mine, it’s not worth anybody’s bother to spend days responding to a single original line pointing to a link.

    If you wish to study Barnes’ reply to Stenger (and by implication to Tremblay) to see how (and whether) Barnes’ paper does or doesn’t bear on Tremblay’s essay and those linked other articles, go ahead and enjoy; just don’t expect me or others here to do the heavy lifting for you.

  9. pennywit says:

    If you wish to argue by proxy

    I’m not arguing by proxy. I’m just offering something potentially interesting to read, for those who are so inclined.

  10. Featherfoot says:

    @pennywit – I read most of the article, though I can’t say I’m impressed by it. I think it makes far more assumptions than it lets on, and accuses those promoting fine tuning as if they make more assumptions than they do. But if you want to learn more about it, I recommend this audio interview of astronomer Luke Barnes on the website Common Sense Atheism. http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=8109 . Luke addresses 11 arguments against fine-tuning, and does it in ways that are easy to understand. Many of those 11 are in your article.

  11. Scott Edwards says:

    FZM, I’m not sure you understood my point. Suppose I say that I don’t believe humans can fly without the aid of equipment or technology. (Let’s head off any technicalities: a person must leave the ground from New York, fly to Paris, and land safely on the ground there, all without the use of equipment or technology.) However if Superman were real, then I would be wrong. OK, you got me. If it turns out that Superman exists in the real world, then I would be wrong. That is absolutely a valid argument — no sarcasm. However it is not a sound argument, for we have no reason to believe that Superman is real, and plenty reason to believe that he isn’t. And therefore I needn’t consider the argument to be a serious challenge.

    All of Michael’s argument comes after the “then” in

    If [some extraordinary, miraculous event will occur], then…

    Even granting that it is a valid argument (again, that is a lot to grant), it is not a sound argument, and therefore one needn’t consider it a serious challenge.

  12. Michael says:

    Here you present an argument of the form

    If [some extraordinary, miraculous event will occur], then evidence for God exists.

    Wrong. I do not make this argument and never have. FZM nicely explains it to you, but you keep missing the point. Sorry, Scott, since this if the 4th or 5th time now, you now have a history of ignoring the arguments I actually make and changing the topic. Good bye.

  13. Scott Edwards says:

    Michael, please permit me to clarify. Your argument indeed comes after “If [some extraordinary, miraculous event will occur], then evidence for God exists.” In fact I was careful to point this out when I later said “All of Michael’s argument comes after the ‘then’…” However this doesn’t change the point: because your argument is relies upon “[some extraordinary, miraculous event will occur]”, it is an unsound argument.

    I don’t know what you meant by “Good bye”. If it means you’ve banned me for pointing out the error in your argument then that is unfortunate. Just as when someone resorts to ad hominems is a clear sign that I’ve won, a banning resulting from decisively refuting your argument would be the ultimate victory. If that is the case then I thank you for the medal.

  14. Michael says:

    You are not being banned for pointing out some error in my argument. You are being banned for a history of ignoring the arguments I actually make and changing the topic.

    I told you that I do not and have not made the argument that “If [some extraordinary, miraculous event will occur], then evidence for God exists.” I let your comment through to give you the chance to quote where *I* have made this argument.

  15. Dhay says:

    Scott Edwards > I don’t know what you meant by “Good bye”. If it means you’ve banned me for pointing out the error in your argument then that is unfortunate. Just as when someone resorts to ad hominems is a clear sign that I’ve won, a banning resulting from decisively refuting your argument would be the ultimate victory. If that is the case then I thank you for the medal.

    Isaac put it nicely in a previous thread >

    The total logical evisceration of Scott Edwards here is why I don’t like to fight on the Internet. In an actual fight, it’s clear to all parties you’ve lost when you physically can’t get up off the floor. On the web someone like Scott can lose an argument in 1,000 different ways and still believe he’s getting the better of it.

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2017/07/29/the-arrogant-defense-of-infant-euthanasia/#comment-19337

  16. Julian says:

    Another troll bites the dust.

  17. Scott Edwards says:

    Michael, you need to focus on the argument, not the person. You need to put aside your hostility arising from someone telling you that you’ve made an unsound argument and simply realize that you have. Put aside your ego, please. Your argument is unsound because it is predicated on the “[some extraordinary, miraculous event will occur]” being true. You require that to be true in order reach the conclusion that the atheist is using fallacious “God of the Gaps reasoning”. I hoped the Superman analogy would have made this point clear. Again, even if your argument is valid, there is no reason to consider it a serious challenge.

    It would appear your ego and prejudices are preventing you from realizing this quite straightforward problem with your argument. Perhaps you realize it now but are embarrassed and would prefer to disparage me as a means of compensating. Or perhaps you are doing this unconsciously. In any case I will consider it yet another case where someone becomes so puffed up that he is unable to follow basic logic and reasoning. Thanks again for the trophy.

  18. Dhay says:

    I see that Richard Carrier, never one for a snappy reply when a long, long essay will do, has written an “Epilogue to the Sam Harris Moral Facts Contest”; it’s 8,750 words, and criticises Sam Harris for not learning from Ryan Born’s adjudged best of bunch response to Harris’ Moral Landscape ‘let’s see if anyone can change my mind’ publicity stunt challenge. (Hint: nobody did, not even Born, but that’s what I’ve come to expect from Harris, who is ever ready to authoritatively declare — his own authority — he won, or else to say his opponent friendly non-competitive sparring partner was playing rough and obstructing his moves.)

    After a lot of scrolling down you eventually get to the comments, the first of which is:

    Very good, as per; but are you having this conversation with Sam Harris? There doesn’t seem a whole lot of point if you are not.

    Carrier’s reply is:

    I already told him all this years ago. As a public intellectual, he can engage if he wants. I can’t make him. He needs to be persuaded to pay attention by his fans and peers. It won’t help coming from me.

    Needless to say, Harris still hasn’t made an appearance in Carrier’s comments, nor has he replied on his own blog. Which is a pity, as it would be interesting to see two people each so reluctant to ever admit defeat engage each other in debate: and fascinating to watch which one or neither would eventually admit defeat, and a change of mind.

    http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/11776

  19. Joe says:

    There is an underlying theme to the bible which states that free will without moral guidance will eventually go off the rails. We are now starting to see some spectacular evidence in support of that assertion. If our world is intended to serve as proof, then any empirical evidence of God would have contaminated the results of the ‘experiment’ making it necessary to repeat it.

  20. Amanda says:

    I’m atheist because I find theism to be without sufficient evidence (or the slightest shred of evidence).
    I highly encourage anyone interested in theism, atheism, or philosophical & existential discussion to visit my recent post “Atheism & Theism”, as it gives quite a bit of insight into the mind of a “modern day” atheist.

  21. Michael says:

    Michael, you need to focus on the argument, not the person.

    I did. That’s how I noticed you were attributing an argument to me that I was not making.

    You need to put aside your hostility arising from someone telling you that you’ve made an unsound argument and simply realize that you have.

    Your error is in building on this misguided assumption that I am making some type of God of the Gaps argument. You have not addressed the actual argument I was making. I asked you to quote where I was making some type of God of the Gaps argument and you did not do this. This is because you can not do this. This is because I am/was not making such an argument.

    Put aside your ego, please. Your argument is unsound because it is predicated on the “[some extraordinary, miraculous event will occur]” being true.

    Wrong. My argument holds true regardless of the truth status of the God of the Gaps position. My argument depends on two things: 1) Atheists commonly cite a miraculous event as something they would count as evidence for God and 2) this God of the Gaps approach does not demonstrate nuance and curiosity. You would have to dispute 1) or 2) if you wanted to show something wrong with my argument.

    You require that to be true in order reach the conclusion that the atheist is using fallacious “God of the Gaps reasoning”.

    I’m simply pointing out they are using God of the Gaps reasoning. The issue is whether such reasoning entails nuance and curiosity. For the argument here is that the New Atheists naturally demonstrate overconfidence and a lack of curiosity and nuance.

    Again, even if your argument is valid, there is no reason to consider it a serious challenge.

    You need to first focus on making your point relevant.

  22. Ilíon says:

    No, dear, you’re pretending to be an atheist because:
    1) you’re a liar: you refuse to *admit* the evidence that God is; you refuse to *admit* that you yourself, as a rational embodied being, are the irrefutable evidence that God is (*);
    2) you’re a sinner (being a liar is a sub-category): you refuse to acknowledge that there are transcendent moral obligations, binding upon all persons, and that they are grounded in the Personhood of God (**) … and then, in your next breath, you will assert some moral obligation binding on everyone else, which just happens to benefit you, and which as likely as not is not really a moral obligation.

    (*) Even if there were not any number of means to know that God is, we ourselves are the refutation of atheism.

    (**) That morality is real is both real and non-contingent is another proof that God is … which is why ‘atheists’ pretend — when it suits them — that moral obligations do not exist.

  23. Kevin says:

    Anyone who says there is “not a shred of evidence” for God has no idea what it means for something to be evidence.

  24. Amanda says:

    For some reason I dont think insulting people with made up terms like “sinner” is going to give much credibility to your argument.

    I stand by everything I’ve said.
    The bible is not evidence of the bible. Those who choose to believe it’s claims do so out of blind faith.

    I refuse to a blind consumer.

    Let us not forget that creationism is theory.

  25. Amanda says:

    In other words:
    If a hell exists, and by simply rejecting creationism I deserve to go there, then I will HAPPILY go to hell.
    I will not be bullied into believing what I find no reason to believe.

  26. stcordova says:

    Amanda wrote:

    “I’m atheist because I find theism to be without sufficient evidence (or the slightest shred of evidence).”

    I respect that, but what if someone, like Astronaut Charles Duke, witnessed a miracle, but you didn’t have access to seeing it. It only demonstrates you weren’t privileged to see evidence of God, it doesn’t mean God doesn’t exist, it only means you haven’t seen evidence to convince you. That’s fine, but you sound like you’re acting as the judge for all reality based on your extremely limited sample size of reality. It’s quite an extrapolation.

    ” I will HAPPILY go to hell. I will not be bullied into believing ”

    In this post-Christian world, I doubt you’ll be bullied by anyone to be a Christian. So why are you here? Do you feel blogs like this one are trying to bully you?

    ” I will HAPPILY go to hell.”

    Thanks for the quote, that echoes the sentiment of a lot of people. Michael isn’t a creationist, but I am. So what’s this about creationism. I didn’t see anything in the OP that said Michael was talking about creationism.

  27. Julian says:

    Again with the Projecting.

  28. Julian says:

    Then again, she’s not looking for honest debate. Just coming to harass.

  29. stcordova says:

    Scott Edwards: “We have no good reason to believe that [some extraordinary, miraculous event will occur] is true”

    We? Speak for yourself, not for everyone. Michael refuted your misrepresentations of the OP.
    We have not much reason to trust what you say if you can’t engage the thesis of the OP with integrity.

  30. Isaac says:

    Atheists use a unique and irrational criteria for what is considered “evidence for God.” A purely rational person, asked what might be evidence for God, would consider whether anything in the universe constitutes evidence for God, including the universe itself, the way the universe is set up, human experience, etc. Obvious evidence in favor of God thus mounts. It’s so obvious that it’s been a no-brainer for essentially every culture on earth from the dawn of time until atheist dogma was invented. It’s the default assumption. It then becomes the atheist’s responsibility to make a case against God, because the very nature of the universe, Aristotle’s first cause argument, and human history/experience all suggest some sort of Creator outside of the universe itself.

    Atheists are inoculated by their own doctrine from a purely logical look at the question of “evidence for God.” When asked for evidence for God, an atheist rules out every part of the known natural world, from the Big Bang to insect anatomy to quantum physics, because for the most part we have kinda figured out how these things work by observing them, and therefore they fall under the realm of Science, and not God. The fact that they are beyond human ability to duplicate doesn’t seem to factor in. This is an inherently silly mentality, akin to believing that if a child figures out how a toy works, then NOBODY built it because its workings are no longer mysterious. But this is how atheists play the game:

    1. Anything other than a supernatural and miraculous display is NOT evidence for God.
    2. Anything that CANNOT be understood by science is a “God of the gaps” argument, and therefore NOT evidence for God.
    3. Nothing can be evidence for God unless God supernaturally and uncharacteristically reveals himself to the atheist, which has typically not been known to happen, and atheists know this.
    4. The atheist can rest assured that his subjective criteria for “evidence for God” will not be met, and need not entertain any threats to his worldview.

  31. pennywit says:

    It then becomes the atheist’s responsibility to make a case against God

    It’s very situation dependent. If you want to turn an atheist to Christianity, it is your responsibility to prove God’s existence to the atheist’s satisfaction. If the atheist wants to turn you to atheism, he must disprove God’s existence to your satisfaction. In a more freewheeling debate, the standard and burden of proof are themselves up for debate.

  32. I think this article is trying to muddy up atheism like they do religion to justify it. Atheist have no problem with existence of a god, we just need evidence. The question of what evidence is needed has a simple answer. If god is god, it would know what evidence to present. Is that overconfident, do I sound confuse because I think that’s pretty simple. Can I write 200 words of why I don’t believe in god, of course, do you have a god in mind or just the concept of god?

  33. Ilíon says:

    Scott Edwards — misrepresenting the OP and our host:Put aside your ego, please. Your argument is unsound because it is predicated on the “[some extraordinary, miraculous event will occur]” being true.

    You people are so intellectually dishonest.

    Consider this claim: as I walk along, time -as measured by my wristwatch or my ageing process -slows down. Also, I shrink in the direction of motion. Also, I get more massive. Who has ever witnessed such a thing? It’s easy to dismiss it out of hand. Here’s another: matter and antimatter are all the time, throughout the universe, being created from nothing. Here’s a third: once in a very great while, your car will spontaneously ooze through the brick wall of your garage and be found the next morning on the street. They’re all absurd! But the first is a statement of special relativity, and the other two are consequences of quantum mechanics (vacuum fluctuations and barrier tunnelling,* they’re called). Like it or not, that’s the way the world is. If you insist it’s ridiculous, you’ll be forever closed to some of the major findings on the rules that govern the Universe.

    *The average waiting time per stochastic ooze is much longer than the age of the Universe since the Big Bang. But, however improbable, in principle it might happen tomorrow.” — from ‘The Demon-Haunted World‘ by Carl Sagan

  34. Ilíon says:

    For some reason I dont think insulting people with made up terms like “sinner” is going to give much credibility to your argument.

    Dearie, the thing is, you *don’t* think. It’s utterly impossible for you the *think*; for, after all, you are nothing by matter in accidental motion.

    So, you don’t *think* … but, you do lie. And you do practice hypocrisy, as witness the above quote.

  35. Michael says:

    Atheist have no problem with existence of a god, we just need evidence.

    That’s just a talking point. There is no evidence that “Atheist have no problem with existence of a god, we just need evidence.”

    The question of what evidence is needed has a simple answer. If god is god, it would know what evidence to present. Is that overconfident, do I sound confuse because I think that’s pretty simple.

    Yes, that sounds overconfident. Don’t forget it also shows a lack of curiosity and nuance. It comes across as a lazy, ham-handed rationalization for one’s closed mind.

  36. Dhay says:

    The CreAtheist > Atheist have no problem with existence of a god, we just need evidence. The question of what evidence is needed has a simple answer. If god is god, it would know what evidence to present.

    You are obviously a person of few words; 35, to be precise.

    Allow me to paraphrase what you have written:

    Me and my mates need evidence of a God. I’m not going to tell you what evidence would be needed, nor even whether I myself know what the needed evidence could be. God only knows what evidence would convince us.

    Congratulations on mastering the art of succinctly satirising yourself.

  37. TFBW says:

    The CreAtheist said: “If god is god, it would know what evidence to present.”

    You don’t have to be a god to recognise a belligerent “make me” attitude like this. Faced with such adolescent recalcitrance, one can either beat the subject into submission, or ignore him and hope that he gets over himself in his own time. Evidently, the former alternative should be used sparingly — reserved for important, high-impact matters.

  38. I’m sorry if it sounds confusing, that’s just how I see it, and what I’ve heard from most educated atheist. Asking for evidence is the same standard I use for anything els, and I was a Christian for 20 years, church and bible studies, then I learned about other religions, and finally came to the conclusion. Anything without evidence can be dismissed until evidence is presented.

  39. Kevin says:

    CreAtheist,

    You say that the standard of evidence for atheists is simple. Then the standard you list is God would know what it would take to convince any given atheist, and he is supposed to perform whatever magic trick is required to convince the atheist.

    So basically, your standard of whether or not there is evidence is based upon whether or not you believe. After all, if God existed, he knows what it would take to convince you, right? So, if you don’t believe, then there is no evidence, according to you. Perhaps upon reflection, you will realize how unjustifiably arrogant your standard is – and keep in mind, to borrow your words, it is the standard pretty much every New Atheist uses, so you might also catch a glimpse of why educated Christians are so highly unimpressed with the New Atheist movement in particular.

    Here’s a thought – what if the Christians on this site believe in God because the evidence warrants it, and it is you who fails to recognize the evidence? Is God required to brainwash you, or bend over backwards performing magic tricks to be your personal evidence generator any time you doubt?

    That which is without evidence gets dismissed along with that which has unrecognized evidence, but humility can go a long way in perceiving the difference.

  40. Hey Kevin, Ill break it up to answer, don’t take it as snarky or ill intended.

    “You say that the standard of evidence for atheists is simple. Then the standard you list is God would know what it would take to convince any given atheist, and he is supposed to perform whatever magic trick is required to convince the atheist”

    No. It’s not about magic tricks, there’s simple way to doing it, like revealing the word to more than one tribe. It would prove without a doubt god existence and stop much of the conflict we see on this planet. Or coming back every generation, he’s everywhere at the same time it wouldn’t be difficult. With a little bit of creativity, you could make up ideas all day on easy ways god could reveal himself. You can call that overconfident, but if you are all good and all powerful it would be easy to do.

    “So, if you don’t believe, then there is no evidence, according to you. Perhaps upon reflection, you will realize how unjustifiably arrogant your standard is”

    I don’t know where this information came from, but I will still answer. Growing up I believed without evidence, it was faith and I fought for my god despite his absence. Now I don’t believe because i haven’t seen any evidence. It doesn’t mean that i don’t believe therefor no evidence, that would be insanity. When it comes to the arrogant standard being unjustifiable, think about this. All I’m asking is for evidence to unite people around the world under one common goal, God is asking me to dedicate my entire existence to him and adding a hell on the side incase I decide not to. On top of that, we can’t tell what god is the right one so it starts becoming a shot in the dark. What we as humans are being asked to do, is much larger, and has more negative consequences than what I’m asking from god.

    “Here’s a thought – what if the Christians on this site believe in God because the evidence warrants it, and it is you who fails to recognize the evidence?”

    Show me the evidence, I don’t mind being wrong. I would love for god to be real. Like, really.

    “Is God required to brainwash you, or bend over backwards performing magic tricks to be your personal evidence generator any time you doubt?”

    No, but with this many religions out and a couple thousand years of eternal hell for non believers, he should know it’s bout time to be all good and all powerful again, that’s what you do when love your creation. Right know he feels made up to me and a lot of other extremely smart people.

  41. Kevin says:

    CreAtheist: “Right know he feels made up to me and a lot of other extremely smart people.”

    I’ll be honest, this line makes me rather leery of continuing the conversation, since without exception, everyone who has referred to themselves as being extremely smart is typically not nearly worth the time it takes to prove them wrong to observers. Perhaps I’m misreading your intended thought due to the wording, but I will say that there are a lot of extremely smart people who are believers, so it doesn’t really mean anything either way.

    I will say this, however.

    “Growing up I believed without evidence, it was faith”

    If you grew up under fideism, then I’m not surprised yours was a very shaky faith indeed. Belief without evidence is not what faith is, however, except of course the strawman version atheists are fond of using. It’s not how any Christian I know uses it.

  42. Michael says:

    Anything without evidence can be dismissed until evidence is presented.

    That’s odd. In my first reponse to you, I noted, “There is no evidence that “Atheist have no problem with existence of a god, we just need evidence.”” Your response? To ignore it. To pretend it was never written.

    Having chosen to become an atheist, are you exploring your new found freedom from having to practice what you preach?

  43. Michael says:

    No. It’s not about magic tricks, there’s simple way to doing it, like revealing the word to more than one tribe. It would prove without a doubt god existence and stop much of the conflict we see on this planet. Or coming back every generation, he’s everywhere at the same time it wouldn’t be difficult.

    What makes you think this is so simple? Try explaining WHY any of this would “prove without a doubt god existence.”

    All I’m asking is for evidence to unite people around the world under one common goal,

    What might this evidence look like and what is the common goal?

    Show me the evidence, I don’t mind being wrong. I would love for god to be real. Like, really.

    Just because you are shown evidence does not mean you will recognize it as evidence. Evidence is something that is perceived. It is something a mind recognizes. A rational mind simply cannot ignore the subjective dimension to evidence. So unless you can explain what it is that you might count as evidence for God, there is no reason to think that this will lead anywhere other than an opportunity for you to posture. And since we already know your posture, what’s the point of that?

  44. Michael says:

    If you grew up under fideism, then I’m not surprised yours was a very shaky faith indeed. Belief without evidence is not what faith is, however, except of course the strawman version atheists are fond of using. It’s not how any Christian I know uses it.

    Good point. After all, there is no evidence The CreAtheist was ever a Christian. None. He/she could easily be making it all up.

  45. Yes I was a Christian, I actually come from a country with a strong religious base. I don’t mind if you don’t believe me. It’s easier to dismiss me from a Christian side. The excuse of “you were never a real Christian” is one I can’t prove and I can’t force anybody to believe something they can’t prove.

  46. Featherfoot says:

    There’s simple way to doing it, like revealing the word to more than one tribe. It would prove without a doubt god existence.

    Many different religious systems have stories about a massive flood, and a supernatural entity saving a small group of people from that flood by warning them about it so a boat can be built. Do you feel that such a flood occurred without a doubt?

  47. I know that line sounds bad, but I don’t mention it as “we the smart people agree” I mean to say that’s what i believe and others do to, and they are very smart people.
    But really guys I gave an example and nobody mention it. Why not reveal the word of god to more than one tribe, that would show consistency in religions instead of every religion claiming something different.
    He could also predict something.
    Maybe if religion found a problem science can’t solve, and solves it with scripture, and I mean something like the common cold would be proof. Specially for the religion that does it.
    My point is I can come up with a couple ideas of the top of my head, so for god it should be easy. That’s why I say it’s simple. If you can make the universe he could prove his own existence. Saying god can’t do this would be a lie by his own definition of all powerful. Debating why he doesn’t do it is a better than he can’t do it, and the argument assuming I wouldn’t have the capability to believe it, because I already don’t believe it, throws me off. I believed in god since I could remembered and yet here I am. Unless I didn’t believe it, then Idk why as a kid I attended church and bible studies so much. Nobody force me.

  48. stcordova says:

    ” If god is god, it would know what evidence to present. ”

    Of course he would. Have you ever thought of reasons God might want to hide evidence? God might be offended by people who think they are so smart and know everything, so he lets them remain in darkness about the most important thing they should know. Maybe God is laughing at atheists because of their inability to perceive what is hidden and yet they boast of how much they know and understand reality.

    Personally I find it entertaining when arrogant atheists screw up, are Poed, are duped, especially when they present themselves as ambassadors of reason, evidence, and rational thought. If I find it funny, how much more might God find it funny.

    “The Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming.” Psalm 37:13

    I laugh at Richard Dawkins. I suspect God’s laughing at Richard Dawkins too.

  49. TFBW says:

    @The CreAtheist: “My point is I can come up with a couple ideas of the top of my head …”
    That is because those ideas are entirely ad hoc and not grounded in any principle beyond, “that would impress me, personally.”

  50. Kevin says:

    CreAtheist: “Maybe if religion found a problem science can’t solve, and solves it with scripture”

    I thought God of the Gaps arguments were invalid?

  51. Dhay says:

    The CreAtheist > Show me the evidence, I don’t mind being wrong. I would love for god to be real. Like, really. … Right know he feels made up to me and a lot of other extremely smart people.

    There’s a few atheists who you would probably call “extremely smart people”, all of them with Doctorates in their field, who would not under any circumstances accept evidence for God: there’s Richard Dawkins, Peter Boghossian (and Michael Shermer the ‘alien trickster’ idea’s originator) who would rule out any evidence presented, whatsoever; and PZ Myers rules out the idea of God even in principle, with evidence not only not sought but even the possibility of evidence ruled out.

    Michael (this blog’s owner) has documented this in a previous blog post, transcribing a video’d interview of Dawkins by Boghossian (which is linked in original post):

    Here is the transcript (with the relevant claims):

    Boghossian: What would it take for you to believe in God?

    Dawkins: I used to say it would be very simple. It would be the Second Coming of Jesus or a great, big, deep, booming, bass voice saying “I am God.” But I was persuaded, mostly by Steve Zara, who is a regular contributor to my website. He more or less persuaded me that even if there was this booming voice in the Second Coming with clouds of glory, the probable explanation is that it is a hallucination or a conjuring trick by David Copperfield. He made the point that a supernatural explanation for anything is incoherent. It doesn’t add up to an explanation for anything. A non-supernatural Second Coming could be aliens from outer space.

    [Peter Boghossian begins to speak and is in full agreement with Dawkins, arguing, for example, that if the stars spelled out a message from God, we would first have to rule out alternative explanations, like an alien trickster culture.]

    Dawkins then agrees with Boghossian.

    Boghossian then asks him: So that [stars aligned into a message] couldn’t be enough. So what would persuade you?

    Dawkins: Well, I’m starting to think nothing would, which, in a way, goes against the grain, because I’ve always paid lip service to the view that a scientist should change his mind when evidence is forthcoming.

    [Michael’s comments on the transcript:] As Dawkins says, even if the Second Coming of Christ were to actually occur, Dawkins would not consider even that evidence for God. In his mind, it would be more likely that aliens would be playing a trick. Dawkins has painted himself into a corner with his extreme skepticism. In his mind, God = the supernatural and natural explanations, no matter how vague or incomplete, are always better than explanations that invoke the supernatural. Thus, it is not surprising he effectively admits nothing would persuade him to believe in God. In fact, he even makes a Freudian slip in acknowledging that all along, he has merely been paying “lip service” to the view that “a scientist should change his mind when evidence is forthcoming.” It’s all been an illusion.

    As atheist activist PZ Myers once wrote, ”There is no valid god hypothesis, so there can be no god evidence, so let’s stop pretending the believers have a shot at persuading us.”

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/richard-dawkins-admits-that-nothing-can-persuade-him-god-exists/

    Dawkins used to say (like you) that getting him to believe in God would be very simple. But then went on to say that whatever the evidence (eg an actually happening/happened Second Coming) a supernatural explanation (eg God) of that evidence would be incoherent and can be ruled out in principle.

    That is, there’s no evidence whatsoever that could be presented to Dawkins, the super-clever atheist, indeed the exemplar of sophisticated™ atheism, which would persuade him to so much as consider God as the explanation of that evidence.

    The others likewise.

    If you are following the lead of “other extremely smart” atheists, why ever are you asking for evidence; these very prominent, very smart atheists rule out that any evidence presented, any evidence whatsoever, even an actually happening/happened Second Coming could persuade them — in principle, they say, it cannot persuade them. “Other extremely smart” atheists don’t need evidence, they just rule out God as a possible explanation of any evidence whatsoever.

    So why don’t you, if they are so clever.

    (Or do you assert that Dawkins, Boghossian, Shermer and Myers are not atheists, or not clever?)

  52. Michael says:

    Yes I was a Christian, I actually come from a country with a strong religious base. I don’t mind if you don’t believe me. It’s easier to dismiss me from a Christian side.

    It’s not a question of being “easier.” It’s about applying your own standards to yourself. You wrote, “Asking for evidence is the same standard I use for anything els…..Anything without evidence can be dismissed until evidence is presented.” Are you able to understand that according to your own standards, we are obligated to dismiss your claim?

    The excuse of “you were never a real Christian” is one I can’t prove and I can’t force anybody to believe something they can’t prove.

    So then why do you call it an “excuse?” Isn’t it the rational thing for us to do?

    You are showing me that you don’t practice what you preach, CreAtheist. You are showing me that you have the ability to delude yourself. If you are not going to take your need to back up claims with evidence seriously, why should I believe you would believe in God if only He could come up with a way to make you? In fact, is it possible that God knows that nothing can make you believe?

  53. Featherfoot says:

    Maybe if religion found a problem science can’t solve, and solves it with scripture…

    Like the hard problem of consciousness, or the fine tuning of the universe? At this point, I think you have a problem. You can admit, by your own standard, that such things are evidence of God, or you can admit your standard is flawed.

    And these are things that are revealed to nearly every religion: that the universe was designed, and that we are more than merely physical creatures. By two of your standards, now, we should have evidence for Theism, though not any specific organized religion.

  54. Dhay says:

    Transcript above > Dawkins: Well, I’m starting to think nothing would, which, in a way, goes against the grain, because I’ve always paid lip service to the view that a scientist should change his mind when evidence is forthcoming.

    Interestingly, a recent The Independent article entitled “If Richard Dawkins can’t understand why he was no-platformed, then maybe he’s not as smart as he thinks he is” includes:

    … Dawkins effectively invalidates most of the empirical tradition that he, as one of the self-styled guardians of the values of the enlightenment, lays claim to. Indeed, when it comes to the subject of Islam he has famously rejected the need even for textual evidence, tweeting that:

    “Of course you can have an opinion about Islam without having read the Qu’ran.”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/richard-dawkins-berkeley-no-platform-islamophobia-christianity-religion-denial-a7861011.html

    Well, Dawkins is a very smart atheist who pays lip service to following the evidence; but when it comes to Islam (and Christianity), instead of finding the evidence, assessing the evidence, and reasoning from it to rational conclusions, he evidently asks, Why does a bigot like me need to be grounded in evidence?

  55. Look up last comment I explained how we can have evidence of god.
    When I was young, I could believe things without evidence, as I grew up I stopped, these are events occurring at different times. So I believed in god in the past without evidence, now I don’t because I see no evidence. I haven’t changed the evidence part, it’s the stance that came with a different state of mind. I didn’t have that standards till about 24 currently 33.
    Besides that, you are allowed to dismiss my past Christianity I already allow you to do that because things without evidence can be dismissed. What I’m waiting for is evidence, and I already gave examples that show it’s posible to have evidence. Like I said before. Im not asking for much, just some evidence before I base the rest of my life on any claim. Can you think of an example where you wouldn’t need evidence to believe something? Do you have any evidence that you could share?

  56. Kevin says:

    CreAtheist: “Do you have any evidence that you could share?”

    Atheists reject God of the Gaps arguments, yet every example of possible evidence you listed was a God of the Gaps scenario – something that Science Can’t Explain. That makes it literally impossible to meet the standard you are asking for, as you reject your own examples.

    I’ve dealt with far too many Internet atheists to avoid becoming cynical in these situations, but if you are being sincere, you’ve backed yourself into a corner. Ask yourself these things:

    Why are the God of the Gaps examples you listed categorically different than other God of the Gaps arguments that you would reject?

    Why is everything in the natural world automatically excluded from being possible evidence of God, when science is incapable of explaining why things the way they are?

    Even if every Christian in the world had witnessed miracles (God of the Gaps) and you had not witnessed any of them, you have proven you would reject their testimony. So again, what you ask for is impossible for us to meet prior to you even asking.

    So, why are you asking us for evidence, when you have ruled out the entirety of possible evidence we could even give?

  57. FZM says:

    If god is god, it would know what evidence to present. Is that overconfident, do I sound confuse because I think that’s pretty simple.

    Seems to translate into:

    Unless God makes his existence self-evident and impossible to doubt (to everyone?) then God does not exist.

    What would be the evidence for such a claim? It sounds daft.

    Anything without evidence can be dismissed until evidence is presented.

    Evidence must be presented for this claim, otherwise…?

  58. Michael says:

    Look up last comment I explained how we can have evidence of god.

    You have yet to explain WHY those examples would be evidence of God. Are you aware there are many atheists who would not consider any of your examples as evidence of God?

    When I was young, I could believe things without evidence, as I grew up I stopped, these are events occurring at different times. So I believed in god in the past without evidence, now I don’t because I see no evidence. I haven’t changed the evidence part, it’s the stance that came with a different state of mind. I didn’t have that standards till about 24 currently 33.

    Why do you keep making claims that cannot be supported with evidence?

    Besides that, you are allowed to dismiss my past Christianity I already allow you to do that because things without evidence can be dismissed.

    It’s not about being “allowed.” I don’t need your permission to dismiss your claims. What you need to acknowledge (according to your own standards) is that it would be irrational for anyone to believe your story. And since it is irrational to believe all your evidence-less claims, why do you keep making them?

    What I’m waiting for is evidence, and I already gave examples that show it’s posible to have evidence.

    Since you cannot explain WHY those would be evidence, I’m not sure you understand how evidence works.

    Like I said before. Im not asking for much, just some evidence before I base the rest of my life on any claim.

    Judging for your examples, what you are asking for is something that cannot possibly be explained by natural laws or coincidence. Am I correct?

    Can you think of an example where you wouldn’t need evidence to believe something?

    No.

    Do you have any evidence that you could share?

    Here’s a small thread. Let’s see how you process it.

  59. Hey Michael. Sorry I just saw this part,

    “”That’s odd. In my first reponse to you, I noted, “There is no evidence that “Atheist have no problem with existence of a god, we just need evidence.”” Your response? To ignore it. To pretend it was never written.”

    Never meant to skip it, i was trying to response to a lot in little time. Atheist don’t have a problem with the existence of a god. Meaning the concept is fine, I will believe in god like a believe an apple exist with evidence.
    Atheist means I don’t see any evidence for god, it’s not a congregation or a consensus of beliefs. The requirement to be an atheist is only one thing, so the existence of god is invited with evidence, and dismissed without. If you have any evidence I would love to see it. If it’s real, it’s with out a doubt the most important thing ever to happen.

  60. The me believing in god is my story. I say it to explain that you can believe in god and then not. You don’t have to believe me to know that there is people that convert between atheist and theist. So to say those that don’t believe where never real believers has no evidence. My story is not unique so it’s valid even if you don’t believe it’s my story. It would be irrational to say no atheist has ever been a believer. Just by the probability you’re going to run into a lot of those.

    To explain how those would be evidence of god. The suspension of physics is consider imposible, all my example do that.
    Predicting the future, appearing in many places at once, they are imposible in our reality. That would be great proof.

    About the evidence I could share… what evidence? That I was a Christian? Or that I did believe in god? Above I explained why it doesn’t matter but I could bring up my pictures of first communion and bible study groups, I also was part of a group and made Christian music, I could send you the recordings, idk if that would be enough for you but like I said before the story is an example that exist regardless if you don’t believe me. It’s still remains true that people can be real believers and then not.
    At the end of it all I still hold my claim up, do you have evidence for god? If you feel like it won’t convince me, you should still say it, maybe it’ll convince somebody els reading.

  61. Kevin says:

    CreAtheist: “The suspension of physics is consider imposible, all my example do that.
    Predicting the future, appearing in many places at once, they are imposible in our reality. That would be great proof.”

    Communicating instantaneously with someone on the opposite side of the planet was also impossible not long ago. You don’t know with any certainty that advanced technology, on a scale that makes our current technology look like wooden spears with stone arrowheads, cannot accomplish the things you listed here.

    Why are your examples “science can’t explain, therefore a god”, but when the examples are why the universe is the way it is, why life exists, etc, they are “science can’t explain YET, therefore not a god”. Why are your examples not “science can’t explain YET”? What is the difference?

    You’re asking for God of the Gaps arguments and tailor-made-for-you miracles, and no doubt armies of scientists to witness, record, and analyze them (otherwise could be a hallucination right?), and then conclude that they are something that not only can science not explain YET, but that science will not be able to explain EVER. And in this way, it is evidence for God. Asking Christians for this sort of evidence is ridiculous, particularly since you would reject any example of a miracle anyone gave you unless it was observed, recorded, analyzed, and declared to be “science cannot explain EVER”, no doubt by atheistic scientists. Why do you believe this is the only reasonable standard, rather than the absolutely absurd standard it is?

    Are miracles performed for you and a team of atheist scientists, who then declare it to be something that science will never ever be able to explain, the only thing that will count as evidence for you? If so, this is a discussion not worth my time, as it would mean you aren’t capable of recognizing evidence for what it is.

  62. Kevin says:

    Here’s a question for you, CreAtheist, and it’s only intended as a thought experiment, not a request for an actual answer.

    Both atheists and theists claim various features of the universe to be evidence for their own worldviews, so the universe is the subject in question, and we seek particular evidence to establish the truth behind the universe. What is your evidence that an atheistic explanation is possible? And by evidence, I mean something on the same scale of certainty as what you are asking for from Christians, something that Cannot Be Denied. What evidence would you give me so that an atheistic explanation Cannot Be Denied? If you can’t think of something, then even if you personally believe there is no evidence for God, because there is nothing that Cannot Be Denied, then you should also realize the irrationality of being an atheist due to suffering the same lack of evidence.

    And given that both fail to meet your standard, which you will realize if you think about it, then you would realize the absurdity of declaring yourself an atheist and then seeking to engage Christians for why they believe what they do. It’s like a Coke drinker admonishing a Pepsi drinker on how unhealthy Pepsi is.

  63. pennywit says:

    It’s like a Coke drinker admonishing a Pepsi drinker on how unhealthy Pepsi is.

    I think I need to excommunicate you now. Or declare you unclean or something.

  64. pennywit says:

    In seriousness, I’ve watched this conversation with CreAtheist go on for a while, and it highlights for me how different the worldviews of theists and atheists can be … and how irreconcilable those worldviews really are.

    In the first place, I think that if any person claims he can heal afflictions, foretell the future, control weather, read minds, cause the Cleveland Browns to win the Super Bowl, or accomplish any other supernatural feat, then it is entirely fair to put that person’s abilities to some form of repeatable, verifiable test. After all, they’re making a claim.

    But let’s leave aside the charlatans and medicine shows. I’d like to talk about something else.

    My own experience with well-meaning Christians over the years who tried to witness to me is that their faiths were very much based on experiential factors. Many could, in fact, get in the weeds and argue about fine-tuning, design, and so forth. But for most of them, the deciding factors — the why behind their beliefs — was often that they had experienced some deeply personal, near-mystical experience where they felt God came to them, that they hit some rock bottom in their life, and their faith in God saw them through, or that either belief in God or membership in the church fulfilled some social or psychological niche in their lives.

    I can cheer for a person or be happy that a person has put himself in a good place, or that he has a good life after adversity. Life is tough. If faith in God got him through it, then that’s great. If a person finds happiness or personal satisfaction through faith in something divine, again, that’s great. But that experience — “testimony,” in American evangelical parlance — can’t persuade me that God definitely exists.

    All of these experiences are highly personal and unverifiable. I can measure a person’s religiosity. I can measure a person’s mental health. But I really have no way to verify, outside that person’s testimony, whether God actually touched that person, or whether that person overcame adversity due to God’s intervention or his own physical, mental, or spiritual fortitude.

    It’s not a logical thing. It’s an experiential thing. It’s a personal thing. And if I haven’t had that experience — something where God actually touches my life in some way — than I can’t really take that leap and believe in gods, let alone God, in some way.

    I can only look for indirect evidence, physical or philosophical, that points to or away from a deity. And right now, that indirect evidence points me away from the idea that God exists.

  65. pennywit says:

    Quick coda:

    In Isaac Asimov’s short story “Reason,” one of the characters once pointed out that you can “prove” nearly anything using logic, depending on which postulates you start from. I think that applies to a lot of clashes between atheist and theist.

  66. Dhay says:

    Shadow to Light is one of those blogs which allow a responder to turn their handle into a link (often, though not always, a link to their own website); clicking on the handle of ‘The CreAtheist’, I find it links to a web page with the promising title, “A Life with Meaning”; which is followed by the unpromising:

    Nothing Found

    It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for. Perhaps searching can help.
    [Searchbox.]

    http://topinspirationalbooks.wordpress.com/

    That’s a shame, because I would have liked to read his 19 August 2017 post there, which his link to it from his FaceBook page tells us would be about:

    I am Not an Atheist

    I had to write this article to help people understand why I don’t Consider myself an Atheist, yet I don’t believe in God.

    http://www.facebook.com/TheCreAtheist/posts/1388898977845149

    The page revealed is only subtly different: “Oops! That page can’t be found.”, “It seems … etc.”

    I rather think The CreAtheist should have a chat with the nice WordPress people about how to recover his blog. Or if he has abandoned it, should stop linking to it.

  67. Michael says:

    The me believing in god is my story. I say it to explain that you can believe in god and then not. You don’t have to believe me to know that there is people that convert between atheist and theist. So to say those that don’t believe where never real believers has no evidence. My story is not unique so it’s valid even if you don’t believe it’s my story. It would be irrational to say no atheist has ever been a believer. Just by the probability you’re going to run into a lot of those.

    Interesting. So faced with the fact that you have no direct evidence for your claim, you offer indirect evidence that lends plausibility to your claim. For some reason, this type of approach is not allowed for the question of God’s existence. There, you demand direct evidence and nothing less will count.

    So……

    To explain how those would be evidence of god. The suspension of physics is consider imposible, all my example do that.
    Predicting the future, appearing in many places at once, they are imposible in our reality. That would be great proof.

    Those can exist as evidence/proof ONLY IF you embrace the logic of the God-of-the-Gaps approach.

    You have a choice. Endorse the logic of the God of the Gaps argument so your examples could count as evidence. Or, deny the logic of the God of the Gaps argument and fail to come up with anything that you would count as evidence.

    For some reason, atheists seem to be blind to this dilemma they have painted themselves into.

    At the end of it all I still hold my claim up, do you have evidence for god?

    Of course.

    If you feel like it won’t convince me

    Since the evidence is not a Gap, of course it will not convince you. You need a Sign and nothing less counts.

  68. Dhay says:

    The Creatheist > I am Not an Atheist: I had to write this article to help people understand why I don’t Consider myself an Atheist, yet I don’t believe in God.

    This could make sense if you claimed to be an agnostic; but your very handle of ‘The CreAtheist’, with “Atheist” initial-capitaled into prominence, tells me that that you do identify firmly as an atheist. Your FaceBook page, packed as it is with atheist memes, tells me you don’t just not believe in God, you are an atheist who is strongly anti-religious in general and anti-Christian in particular; you are searching for memes and copy-pasting them to FaceBook at a very rapid – obsessive-compulsive even – rate, even in the last few hours; rather than being “not an atheist”, you are plainly a religion-hating New Atheist activist.

    *

    Browsing down your recent FaceBook posts, I confess I did like the pure text entry, “Hurricanes are revenge for slavery. That’s why they are created by Africa and sent to destroy the American southern states.” (I cannot find it elsewhere online, so presume it is your own work.) It very nicely, very humorously, takes the piss out of the (paraphrasing) “God flooded Houston because it’s a den of gays” type.

    But little else is yours.

    Browsing further, I spotted a Christian meme with an added atheist attempt at a counter:

    Atheism
    The belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason what so ever into self-replicating bits which then turned into dinosaurs.
    Makes perfect sense.

    Stupidism
    When a person who thinks they know about atheism clearly has no clue about abiogenesis, cosmological evolution, organic evolution, thermodynamics and natural selection because they haven’t bothered to read up on it.

    http://www.facebook.com/TheCreAtheist/photos/a.1387279671340413.1073741828.1387216548013392/1387392877995759/?type=3

    It’s not a good counter: anyone who thinks the problem of cosmological existence is solved by knowing the details of cosmological evolution clearly has no clue and evidently hasn’t bothered to read up on it. And is, according to the counter-meme, a Stupisist.

    According to me, they are lacking in critical thinking skills, as is anyone uncritically copy-pasting the meme. But I do like that back-firing term, Stupidist, for one such.

    It is easy to find and copy-paste memes; even a bird-brained magpie will pick up what’s shiny and take it to its nest.

    With so many atheist memes posted on your FaceBook page, I find it hard to imagine you are not “a person who thinks they know about atheism”; by the definition you have “owned” by re-posting it, anyone such who “has no clue about abiogenesis, cosmological evolution, organic evolution, thermodynamics and natural selection” is a Stupisist.

    Do you yourself claim a competent grasp of abiogenesis, cosmological evolution, organic evolution, thermodynamics and natural selection – there’s no evidence on your FaceBook page, your blog is currently unavailable: if not, aren’t you yourself a Stupidist.

  69. grodrigues says:

    “It’s not a logical thing. It’s an experiential thing. It’s a personal thing.”

    Except for the cases where it is *not* an “experiential”, “personal” thing, but a completely logical affair. In my opinion, it is rigorously demonstrable that God exists, and I never had a road to Damascus experience, or even anything resembling a mystical experience.

    And I am *far* from being alone in this.

  70. pennywit says:

    Except for the cases where it is *not* an “experiential”, “personal” thing, but a completely logical affair. In my opinion, it is rigorously demonstrable that God exists, and I never had a road to Damascus experience, or even anything resembling a mystical experience.

    YMMV.

  71. Dhay says:

    Here’s a part of that transcript of the video’d interview of Richard Dawkins by Peter Boghossian, a part which drew my attention:

    Boghossian: What would it take for you to believe in God?

    Dawkins: I used to say it would be very simple. It would be the Second Coming of Jesus or a great, big, deep, booming, bass voice saying “I am God.” But I was persuaded, mostly by Steve Zara, who is a regular contributor to my website. He more or less persuaded me that even if there was this booming voice in the Second Coming with clouds of glory, the probable explanation is that it is a hallucination or a conjuring trick by David Copperfield. He made the point that a supernatural explanation for anything is incoherent. It doesn’t add up to an explanation for anything. A non-supernatural Second Coming could be aliens from outer space.

    [Peter Boghossian begins to speak and is in full agreement with Dawkins, arguing, for example, that if the stars spelled out a message from God, we would first have to rule out alternative explanations, like an alien trickster culture.]

    Dawkins then agrees with Boghossian.

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/richard-dawkins-admits-that-nothing-can-persuade-him-god-exists/

    A great, big, deep, booming, bass voice saying “I am God” is a transient event, a flash in the pan, is easily dismissed. An actualised Second Coming and its aftermath, on the other hand, would be no flash in the pan but instead something Dawkins and Boghossian would experience as continuing endlessly. With that in mind Dawkins’ and Boghossian’s insistence on ruling out alien tricksters — how? — looks perverse.

    I suppose Sam Harris could explain it away, though; as he tells us in his “Drugs and the Meaning of Life” blog post and again in Waking Up, LSD destroys the taker’s sense of time while affected: an eternal New Jerusalem is “obviously” just a bad trip.

  72. pennywit says:

    With that in mind Dawkins’ and Boghossian’s insistence on ruling out alien tricksters — how? — looks perverse.

    No time to watch the entire video … but if an “alien trickster” is something like, say, Q, then isn’t that functionally a trickster god (but maybe not God)?

  73. TFBW says:

    @pennywit: One might say that any sufficiently powerful being (such as Q from ST:TNG) is indistinguishable from a god. This kind of thing would not be a problem to Dawkins, however, because his fundamental ideology is Darwinism, and so long as the god can be subsumed into that model of things, it’s no threat to him [The God Delusion, ch. 2 and 3]. Q is an extra-dimensional being (from the Q Continuum) as I understand it, but so long as the Q originated via Darwinian processes in their own reality, Dawkins would have no objection. Dawkins kicks up a fuss when entities step outside the Darwinian model, such as God proper, whose existence is explained as a product of Necessity rather than contingent Darwinian processes. That kind of explanation is out-of-bounds to Dawkins, and triggers his usual litany of insults and disparagement in lieu of actual refutation.

  74. pennywit says:

    I can’t speak to Dawkins’ logic/worldview or whatever, but if omnipotent, omniscient aliens (as opposed to fakers like Ardra in “Devil’s Due”) show up, I revise my worldview in short order.

  75. john zande says:

    I’ll give you 230, based on this simple fact: no god has ever materialised twice on the planet.

    Temporally speaking, the god of the Pentateuch is entirely absent from all but the last 1.25% of human history, and even after its literary debut in the 6th Century BCE it failed to register as anything other than a minor Middle Eastern artistic anomaly envisaged by no other culture on the planet. It didn’t materialise independently in mainland Europe, emerge unassisted on the British Isles, or rouse a single word across the entire Far East. It inspired no one in any of the 30,000 islands of the South Pacific, energised nothing across the African continent, stirred naught in North America, and didn’t move anything or anyone in Central or South America. No one across the vast Indian Great Plains or Russian steppes ever heard of it, no Azorean fisherman suddenly spoke of it, no Scandinavian shipwright carved its name in a stone, no Japanese mother ever thought she’d heard it speak in whispered tones, and no Australian aborigine ever dreamed of it. Outside the pages of the bible there is positively nothing in the natural or anthropological landscape which might even remotely lead a person blissfully ignorant of the claims made in bible to suspect that that particular Middle Eastern god has ever inspired anything except the imaginations of a few linguistically specific Iron Age Canaanite hill tribes looking to add a little supernatural spice to their otherwise perfectly terrestrial lives.

  76. Michael says:

    Temporally speaking, the god of the Pentateuch is entirely absent from all but the last 1.25% of human history, and even after its literary debut in the 6th Century BCE it failed to register as anything other than a minor Middle Eastern artistic anomaly envisaged by no other culture on the planet. It didn’t materialise independently in mainland Europe, emerge unassisted on the British Isles, or rouse a single word across the entire Far East. It inspired no one in any of the 30,000 islands of the South Pacific, energised nothing across the African continent, stirred naught in North America, and didn’t move anything or anyone in Central or South America. No one across the vast Indian Great Plains or Russian steppes ever heard of it, no Azorean fisherman suddenly spoke of it, no Scandinavian shipwright carved its name in a stone, no Japanese mother ever thought she’d heard it speak in whispered tones, and no Australian aborigine ever dreamed of it. Outside the pages of the bible there is positively nothing in the natural or anthropological landscape which might even remotely lead a person blissfully ignorant of the claims made in bible to suspect that that particular Middle Eastern god has ever inspired anything except the imaginations of a few linguistically specific Iron Age Canaanite hill tribes looking to add a little supernatural spice to their otherwise perfectly terrestrial lives.

    There’s that overconfidence, lack of nuance, and lack of curiosity. Do you realize that your entire point is vacuous without first establishing that if God existed, He would independently “materialize” in various cultures. So how did you establish that?

  77. TFBW says:

    @john zande: “Outside the pages of the bible there is ..” flood myths. Quite widespread. That won’t impress you, of course, because I expect that nothing will, but it’s the sort of evidence that someone with an open mind might consider relevant.

  78. john zande says:

    You can insert any god’s name you like and the 240 words remain a fact.

    Do you realize that you entire point is vacuous without first establishing that if God existed, He would independently “materialize” in various cultures.

    And why would this be?

    Assuming you’re a Christian, you believe your particular god, Yhwh, to be the source of some unmovable truth. By even suggesting some malleable (almost deistic) notion that gets edited depending on time and geography you have negated not only your particular beliefs, but the apologetics associated to those beliefs.

    Apologetics is, after all, the rather ambitious attempt to defend the claim that the bible (for you, at least) is the inerrant word of an infallible, omnipotent god. By extension such a being should be able to state exactly what it wants to say, and do so free of any and all ambiguity. Its word should be unencumbered by cultural idiosyncrasies and remain unmolested by divergences in language, calligraphy, obscure and dead lexicons, future dialects, exotic morphemes, or even illiteracy and deafness. Its word should contain no contradiction, no absurdity, no oversight or declarations that are in conflict with observed facts. Its word should penetrate all tribal, domestic and international legal code and remain morally true in a timeless continuum. Such an entity should be instantly recognisable to all sentient creatures regardless of locale or epoch, and its actions should exhibit no fault or favour, no bias, prejudice, second-thought or indeed, if omnipotent, no mind-set at all.

    Now here comes that awkward moment for apologists such as yourself: If this claim were in way true there wouldn’t be apologists practicing apologetics.

    It’s as simple as that.

    But you appear to have completely missed the point of the 240 words in your attempt to shift the goal posts. There are but two ostensible, universal truths pervading all religions (and by default, the god or gods they propose to speak for):

    1) They all claim to be true
    2) Not one has ever emerged twice on the planet

    That’s it. That’s all there is. There is nothing lurking any deeper than these two truisms, and as the second maxim annihilates the first claim there’s really no need to even litigate the petitions forwarded by any single religion as it’s already perfectly clear that any allusion to authenticity is entirely groundless.

    If this were not the case, if any single religion were indeed true, we would have seen that religion, its deities, its rituals, behavioural codes and canons emerge unsupervised at least twice on the planet. Its truth would in fact be demonstrable in this supernatural event. Indeed, if any single religion were true then that religion should arise naturally and fluidly wherever humans were found, regardless of their isolation or epoch.

    No religion has, however, emerged twice anywhere on the planet, no single deity has been envisaged by two populations separated by time and geography, and not a single person in history in has arrived independently at Mithraism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Scientology, Jainism or Judaism without it first being taught to them.

    That is an inalienable, unarguable truth.

  79. john zande says:

    And you get from naturally occurring terrestrial calamities to “therefore Yhwh” how, exactly?

  80. TFBW says:

    john zande said:

    By extension such a being should be able to state exactly what it wants to say, and do so free of any and all ambiguity. …

    Ah, I recognise this argument. It’s surprisingly widespread. It’s the, “if God existed, He would make us all believe in Him; we don’t all believe in Him; therefore He doesn’t exist” argument. It’s not usually expressed as a clear and valid modus tollens like that, of course. Usually it’s hidden in a wall of text, as above.

    Indeed, if any single religion were true then that religion should arise naturally and fluidly wherever humans were found, regardless of their isolation or epoch.

    This is the close variant, “if there were a true religion, we would all recognise it as such; we do not recognise any such religion; therefore there is no such religion.” No prize for guessing which premise I reject.

    FYI, john, I don’t get to “therefore Yhwh” from anywhere, because that’s not how evidence-based argument works. “Therefore” is for syllogisms, like those above, not theories.

  81. pennywit says:

    You know, when I read about flood myths, I don’t leap to “that means God exists,” but to “what caused so many cultures to have these flood myths?” Wikipedia’s flood myth page is a fun read.

  82. pennywit says:

    I don’t find John Zande’s statements persuasive. You don’t exactly see Zeus show up in both Greek and Native American folklore. However, monotheism, the key tenet of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, has manifested independently in isolated populations, according to Wikipedia. I submit that under a universalist theory, these conceptions of monotheism speak to different manifestations of the same idea — and arguably the same god.

    To put it more simply, one may consult the parable about the three blind men and the elephant.

  83. john zande says:

    So, you don’t believe an all-powerful being (a being who’s supposedly interested and invested in getting its message across) would be capable of stating exactly what it wants to say, and do so free of any and all ambiguity?

    That’s interesting.

    FYI, john, I don’t get to “therefore Yhwh” from anywhere, because that’s not how evidence-based argument works.

    Fine. Then how do you get to Yhwh?

  84. john zande says:

    And TFBW, you claimed flood myths prove your particular god, Yhwh, but in your reply you seem to have conveniently forgotten to explain why, exactly?

  85. john zande says:

    “what caused so many cultures to have these flood myths?”

    Errum, because humans generally tend to inhabit areas in river valleys, and rivers have a habit of flooding, sometimes quite dramatically?

  86. john zande says:

    and arguably the same god.

    With different names, cosmogonies, creation stories, moral codes, commands, desires, etc?

  87. pennywit says:

    With different names, cosmogonies, creation stories, moral codes, commands, desires, etc?

    Reference the blind man and the elephant.

  88. TFBW says:

    @john zande: “So, you don’t believe an all-powerful being …” I never made any such claim. “you claimed flood myths prove your particular god” I never made any such claim. “Then how do you get to Yhwh?” Through a combination of philosophical arguments and Biblical evidence, but don’t think for a moment that it reaches the status of “proof”, merely “reasonable belief” (and more reasonable than the alternatives).

    I note with mild interest that you didn’t object to my syllogistic formulation of your arguments.

  89. Kevin says:

    So basically john zande asserts that God would conform to X set of behaviors if he existed, and since X set of behaviors is not observed, then God does not exist.

    This is…not persuasive.

  90. john zande says:

    I never made any such claim

    It appeared you did.

    So, to clarify then: do you believe an all-powerful being (a being who’s supposedly interested and invested in getting its message across) would be capable of stating exactly what it wants to say, and do so free of any and all ambiguity?

    Through a combination of philosophical arguments and Biblical evidence

    Good to see you don’t try to claim you have proof. I salute that. But citing the bible as part of your “reasonable belief” is rather odd. A Book is not evidence of a phenomena or being. The bible is not evidence of a deity. It is the claim of one.

    I note with mild interest that you didn’t object to my syllogistic formulation of your arguments.

    Don’t confuse me ignoring it with lending credence to it.

    A critique on argumentative style is not a rebuttal of the content.

    You have yet to challenge what was written.

  91. john zande says:

    So basically john zande asserts that God would conform to X set of behaviors if he existed, and since X set of behaviors is not observed, then God does not exist.

    Did I say that?

    I believe I said if any religion (and its deities) were true we would have see that religion emerge unassisted at least twice on the planet. That is to say, we would have evidence of a person arriving independently at Mithraism, or Christianity, or Islam, or Zoroastrianism, or Scientology, or Jainism, or Judaism without it first being taught to them.

    This is…not persuasive.

    Why not?

  92. TFBW says:

    @john zande: “It appeared you did.” You’re getting way ahead of yourself, anticipating responses which have not been given. Argue with what people actually say, not with the belief framework that you attribute to them. “So, to clarify then …” I consider your question too bizarre and assumption-laden to be an acceptable candidate to affirm or deny, but don’t let that stop you. If someone were to accept the hypothesis you put forward, what conclusions would you draw?

    ” A Book is not evidence of a phenomena or being.” The relationship of the contents of the book with observed reality is significant.

  93. john zande says:

    I consider your question too bizarre and assumption-laden to be an acceptable candidate to affirm or deny

    That’s an odd response.

    So, you’re not sure if an all-powerful being is competent enough to speak its mind clearly and without any ambiguity.

    Fair enough.

    The relationship of the contents of the book with observed reality is significant.

    Are we back at flood myths, are we?

  94. TFBW says:

    @john zande: “That’s an odd response.” Well, I take into consideration such things as, “if an all-powerful being were competent enough to speak his mind clearly and without ambiguity, would it follow that everyone would be able to understand it clearly and without ambiguity? Wouldn’t that depend on the complexity of the message and the capacities of the audience?” And so on. So your question is, as I said, too bizarre and assumption-laden to affirm or deny. I see, though, by your answer, that you were primarily looking for ways to win cheap “gotcha” points, rather than using the hypothetical to illustrate an issue, so nothing of value was lost.

    “Are we back at flood myths, are we?” FFS, the book contains more than that.

    Look, really, if that’s the best calibre of argument you’ve got, I’d rather not waste time talking to you. You’ll just have to muddle on without me.

  95. john zande says:

    Fine.

    Let me know if you ever want to actually address the content of what was written.

  96. TFBW says:

    I’m prepared to let my comments so far stand on their own merits.

  97. Kevin says:

    “That is to say, we would have evidence of a person arriving independently at Mithraism, or Christianity, or Islam, or Zoroastrianism, or Scientology, or Jainism, or Judaism without it first being taught to them.”

    There is no reason to assume this. You seem to be either treating a given religion like its teachings should somehow be woven into the fabric of the natural world so that people can discover it independently of revelation – through science no doubt – or you are saying a given deity would directly reveal itself to more than one culture and time period if it existed. The former is simply bizarre, both are unsupported assertions, and both are criticizing the same thing, namely the lack of crystal clarity to prove the given religion as being The One. And that’s what my comment addressed – God didn’t make it plain to john zande or (atheist) scientists that Christianity is indisputably the true religion, ergo God does not exist.

    If I’m misunderstanding your point, please correct me. But what I’m getting from it is not a persuasive argument, at all.

  98. john zande says:

    Why is there no reason to assume this? If any given religion were true, its teachings should indeed be woven into the fabric of the world. There should be no ambiguity. Its deity (or deities) would wear a single hat, carry a single name and speak a single language audible to the deaf, coherent to infants, understood by the demented, and intelligible to the senile. Its dramas and narratives would be recognised and repeated by cloistered populations in every corner of the planet, and its edicts would have penetrated all tribal, domestic and international legal code mindless of earthly or socioeconomic borders. If any single religion were true a single and unchangeable objective moral writ would underwrite all human populations, dietary conventions would be unchaste by oceans, and norms of etiquette, civility and protocol would not deviate with geography or era.

    By defending the state of ambiguity you are either admitting your god is thoroughly incompetent, or malicious.

    The simple fact is this: If neglected for just one generation the deities and practices of any and all belief systems will simply die off, never to rise again.

    By defending the ambiguity, you have, as much, conceded this point.

  99. Featherfoot says:

    I’m amazed by your argument, John. I’ve never heard anyone try to argue that free will proves God doesn’t exist. But you’ve fallen into the same falacy that so many others have when arguing against God:

    1. If I were God, I would make this universe in this certain way.
    2. The universe wasn’t made in that way.
    3. Therefore, God does not exist.

    Of course, you yourself would see the problem here: just because you would make the universe a certain way doesn’t mean that I would, let alone that God would. You argue that if God were real, he wouldn’t give us the free will to believe anything other than what was true. But why? Why wouldn’t God give us free will to make our own decisions?

    Don’t get me wrong. This is essentially an off-shoot of the argument from the Hiddenness of God, which I consider to be the best evidence against God I’ve seen, even beating the Problem of Evil. I can’t make sense of your version of it, though.

  100. john zande says:

    I’ve never heard anyone try to argue that free will proves God doesn’t exist.

    And as far as I can say, you haven’t seen that here, either.

  101. Featherfoot says:

    I’ll simplify. You said, if God exists, his

    edicts would have penetrated all tribal, domestic and international legal code mindless of earthly or socioeconomic borders.

    So you believe that if God were real, everyone would have the same moral code. But if we had free will, wouldn’t we be able to reject that code? If we can, we would expect some people would have rejected God’s code and made their own code, or have rejected morality altogether. Indeed, the same holds true for the rest of your argument. Why couldn’t people create their own religions for their own reasons, ignoring what God had to say about it? As soon as they do, you are describing a world like this one.

  102. john zande says:

    Let’s go back to the beginning. The post complained no atheist bothers penning 200 words on why they reject the claims made by theists. The point being, I suppose, that the arguments are so well established, and so damning, that even taking the time is a waste of time. An exercise in folly.

    In short, it is.

    For the hell of it, though, I gave the post’s author 240 words demonstrating why it is folly. I could have presented any number of arguments, but by the simple fact that no religion has emerged twice on the planet is demonstration enough that all religion is false, and as such there is no need to even litigate the claims made by any one religion.

    I did not mention free will. There’s no need to complicate the brute fact of the observation made.

    (BTW, any particular reason why none of you here hit Reply?)

  103. Kevin says:

    “If any given religion were true, its teachings should indeed be woven into the fabric of the world. There should be no ambiguity.”

    “Should” is your opinion, and no one but you ought to be impressed on the basis that something is your opinion. This remains a baseless assertion.

    “BTW, any particular reason why none of you here hit Reply?”

    I may be missing something obvious but the only option for commenting I see is “post comment” below the comment box. I don’t see an option to reply to comments directly.

  104. john zande says:

    OK, so you’re fine with the ambiguity, even though there really doesn’t have to be any.

    Given the consequences, I would consider this unethical, but I’m guessing you don’t see that.

    (Yeah, odd thread set up. Somewhere way above there will be a comment with a Reply option. Not to worry.)

  105. Featherfoot says:

    For the hell of it, though, I gave the post’s author 240 words demonstrating why it is folly… There’s no need to complicate the brute fact of the observation made.

    So you weren’t looking for discussion on your ideas, you just wanted to accept Michael’s challenge on giving the reasons you find convincing? That’s fair, and I certainly don’t want to drag you into a discussion on it if you don’t want to have one. I’ll simply assert that I don’t find your reasons convincing, and am happy to agree to disagree. Have a good one, John. I wish you the best.

    Also, I have no idea what you’re talking about with hitting Reply. Does being logged into a WordPress account give you reply buttons?

  106. Dhay says:

    John, the “Leave a Reply” combox is always at the thread end. Here, all replies are in effect to the OP. If you wish to reply to a reply you have to explicitly specify which:

    You can copy-paste a part quote it to identify which reply (and which part) and which author;

    You can copy-paste the direct link to that reply (if you right-click on the reply you will be able to select ‘copy’ in many browsers, eg here’s your last reply: https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2017/08/14/the-overconfidence-of-modern-day-atheism/#comment-20043);

    And TFBW has exampled how to use eg @John Zande: “text in quotes” to identify what he’s responding to, and who.

  107. FZM says:

    OK, so you’re fine with the ambiguity, even though there really doesn’t have to be any.

    Given the consequences, I would consider this unethical, but I’m guessing you don’t see that.

    Seems to me that Kevin’s response here:

    “Should” is your opinion, and no one but you ought to be impressed on the basis that something is your opinion. This remains a baseless assertion.

    will basically hold unless you have an argument that isn’t subjective for your belief about what God is obliged to do and create.

  108. Michael says:

    Me: Do you realize that you entire point is vacuous without first establishing that if God existed, He would independently “materialize” in various cultures.

    John: And why would this be?

    If you don’t first establish that the existence of God entails that He would independently “materialize” in various cultures, then it is meaningless to note that God has not independently materialized in various cultures. Since you have not established that the existence of God entails that He would independently materialize in various cultures, your point is vacuous.

    Assuming you’re a Christian, you believe your particular god, Yhwh, to be the source of some unmovable truth. By even suggesting some malleable (almost deistic) notion that gets edited depending on time and geography you have negated not only your particular beliefs, but the apologetics associated to those beliefs.

    More posturing from a position of overconfidence. Being the truth and discovering the truth are two different things.

    Apologetics is, after all, the rather ambitious attempt to defend the claim that the bible (for you, at least) is the inerrant word of an infallible, omnipotent god.

    You are relying on stereotypes. I do not believe the Bible is the “inerrant word of God” (at least in the sense you probably are familiar with). I have made no such ambitious attempt to defend such a claim.

    By extension such a being should be able to state exactly what it wants to say, and do so free of any and all ambiguity. Its word should be unencumbered by cultural idiosyncrasies and remain unmolested by divergences in language, calligraphy, obscure and dead lexicons, future dialects, exotic morphemes, or even illiteracy and deafness. Its word should contain no contradiction, no absurdity, no oversight or declarations that are in conflict with observed facts. Its word should penetrate all tribal, domestic and international legal code and remain morally true in a timeless continuum. Such an entity should be instantly recognisable to all sentient creatures regardless of locale or epoch, and its actions should exhibit no fault or favour, no bias, prejudice, second-thought or indeed, if omnipotent, no mind-set at all.

    You speak with such overconfidence. Yet your extreme confidence has been purchased by nothing more than assertion. Furthermore, you don’t seem to understand how communication works. It is two part process that depends on both sender and receiver. You posture as if the receiver plays no role in the communication.

    Now here comes that awkward moment for apologists such as yourself: If this claim were in way true there wouldn’t be apologists practicing apologetics.

    I see. So your overconfidence does not merely rely on stereotype, it is guided by stereotype. In your mind, I am an apologist who finds myself in an awkward position. In reality, I am not even an apologist nor am I practicing apologetics. See how communication works? I wrote nothing in my blog entry or brief comment to you that indicates I am an apologist (who believes the Bible is the inerrant word of God). Yet that is what your mind heard. Is the problem that I am not speaking loudly and clearly enough? I think not. I think you, as the receiver, are handicapped by your stereotypes, causing you to perceive what is not there.

    It’s as simple as that.

    Those five words nicely bundle your overconfidence, lack of nuance, and lack of curiosity.

    But you appear to have completely missed the point of the 240 words in your attempt to shift the goal posts.

    No. Pointing out the vacuous core of your argument is not shifting the goal posts. Your argument amounts to no q, therefore no p. It’s not goal post shifting to respond, “Hey, don’t you think you should first establish if p, then q?”

    There are but two ostensible, universal truths pervading all religions (and by default, the god or gods they propose to speak for):
    1) They all claim to be true
    2) Not one has ever emerged twice on the planet

    But two? We could add many other ostensible, universal truths pervading all religions. For example:

    3) Not one has ever predicted who would be President and Vice President of the United States 20 years prior.

    Or how about another?

    4) Not one allows leprechauns to lead their services.

    If you want to make that case that 2, 3, and 4 “annihilates” the first claim, you would have to demonstrate that the truth of a religion entails that 2,3, or 4 should not be the case.

    If this were not the case, if any single religion were indeed true, we would have seen that religion, its deities, its rituals, behavioural codes and canons emerge unsupervised at least twice on the planet. Its truth would in fact be demonstrable in this supernatural event.

    Out of curiosity, say something like that did happen twice with a particular religion. Why would you insist that demonstrated the truth of the religion instead of being a coincidence? In fact, if it appeared twice, the same assertions you have been making would still apply. You could argue that it needs to appear at least three times. Of course, if there were three examples, the same assertions you’ve been making would demand at least four times. On and on it goes. In other words, the “at least twice” demand you make is nothing more than a rhetorical gimmick. What you are demanding is that if a religion were true, it would be universally recognized as true. As in……….

    Indeed, if any single religion were true then that religion should arise naturally and fluidly wherever humans were found, regardless of their isolation or epoch.

    Yes, you’ve made you assertions clear. The problem is that those assertions don’t seem to be rooted in anything other than your own spidey sense.
    And then there is an even more serious problems with your assertions – they don’t truly interact with basic Christian theology. For Christians, Christianity exists because God became flesh. The Incarnation which was coupled with the crucifixion and resurrection. As Jesus said, “It is finished.” For the Christian, the Incarnation was a one-time event. The truth of Christianity does not entail that God should incarnate multiple times in multiple cultures. Anyone who thinks otherwise does not understand the purpose of the Incarnation. God did not become flesh just so He could state exactly what He wants to say, and do so free of any and all ambiguity.

  109. Michael says:

    It appeared you did.

    No, it did not appear that TFBW was trying to prove the existence of God from flood myths. It appeared that way only to you. The price of overconfidence is that the mind tends to search for things that feed the overconfidence.

  110. Michael says:

    Let’s go back to the beginning. The post complained no atheist bothers penning 200 words on why they reject the claims made by theists.

    No, I was not complaining. This was cited merely as further supportive evidence that overconfidence, along with a lack of curiosity and nuance, tend to characterize the modern day atheist movement. I can understand why you would not want to dispute the core point of the post given that you yourself have been a splendid example of such a state of mind. But once again, you can see how overconfidence leads to error.

  111. john zande says:

    You enjoy using that word, vacuous, don’t you? Shame, then, that you’re using it so clumsily.

    Why would God (the one true God who, apparently, really, really, really wants to be known) materialise in different cultures as a different entity, with a different message, a different name, a different cosmogony, a different set of moral directives, a different set of likes and dislikes, a different set of tastes, a different history?

    Deliberately sowing confusion and turmoil?

    That would be immoral. Given the consequences of disbelief which you, for example believe exist, it would be unethical, and that dramatically contradicts the claim theists generally make about their god. Namely, being maximally good.

    That is the point, Michael, you are missing. Deliberately so, it appears, and unless you can reconcile this historical problem and present a coherent and meaningful explanation for the disparity (between the claim and human history filled as it is with tens of thousands of gods and spirits and energy forces, some conscious, other’s not, spread across forever evolving belief systems ranging from animism to ancestor cults, from pantheism to monotheism, from panpsychism to modern UFO religions), then I’m afraid my original observation stands, entirely unmolested by your somewhat poorly thought-through objection.

    (Of course, this problem could be solved quite easily if you posit a wicked Creator; a being who is entertained by confusion and turmoil. I don’t think, however, that you’re prepared to posit such a thing, even though it would solve the problem standing before you.)

  112. john zande says:

    Actually, it did.

    He never did explain, when asked, what he actually meant.

  113. john zande says:

    you can see how overconfidence leads to error.

    Not really. What I can see is how an absence of curiosity and emotional insecurity sustains belief systems.

  114. Kevin says:

    john zande: “OK, so you’re fine with the ambiguity, even though there really doesn’t have to be any.”

    Jesus himself was ambiguous in the gospels, and within the context of why he was there, he still only appeared to a single geographical population, and he plainly states why both those things were true. Ambiguity is not immoral unless the purpose of the ambiguity is malevolent.

    john zande: “Given the consequences, I would consider this unethical, but I’m guessing you don’t see that.”

    What do you believe people are held accountable for according to Christianity?

    john zande: “Not really. What I can see is how an absence of curiosity and emotional insecurity sustains belief systems.”

    What’s fascinating here is that we have two “competing” statements: Overconfidence leads to error, and an absence of curiosity and emotional insecurity sustains belief systems.

    The first statement is in full display on this thread. You are asserting your opinion as unassailable fact without offering much of anything in the way of justification. It’s a common problem in the New Atheist community, an unquestioned faith in one’s own powers of reason leading to all sorts of ridiculous assertions and an inability to correct them.

    The second statement is not in evidence in this thread. No one has displayed a lack of curiosity, and no one has demonstrated emotional insecurity. Given the heavy weight you place on your own opinion as fact, is our failure to agree with you evidence of a lack of curiosity or emotional insecurity on our part? As Michael accurately noted, you are depending heavily on preconceived stereotypes to navigate this discussion, and it is not working out well for you thus far.

  115. pennywit says:

    I think Zande’s core argument is that if there were an omnipotent, omniscient god, that god would manifest everywhere, lay down the law, and not let inconsistencies creep into worldwide religious doctrine. But I don’t think this basic thesis really gets to the core issue of a deity. In this conception, Zande imposes his conception of God over others’ then insists if God doesn’t meet his conception, then God does not exist.

    But I don’t think this really works well.

    If you’re going to consider the diversity of religious thought as an argument against God, I would approach from a different angle. I would argue that while multiple cultures have a conception of God (or gods), the conceptions are so widely divergent as to render it impossible to determine what singular God (if any) exists at the core of these religions. Then, I would infer that this uncertainty leads to an inference that either there is either no God or there is a non-activist God in the vein of the Great Watchmaker.

    This has some of the same skeleton as Zande’s argument. But I think it relies not on an atheist’s conception of what God should or should not do, but on the impossibility of reconciling differing views of God.

    This argument, however, is vulnerable to the precept advanced in the parable about the blind men and the elephant (as I mentioned above) and to the argument that while every religion may have a concept of God, the concepts and interpretations have been molded by men, rather than God, and thus distorted.

  116. Michael says:

    Actually, it did.

    You’re demonstrably wrong.

    TFBW wrote “but it’s the sort of evidence that someone with an open mind might consider relevant.”

    You spun it as “And TFBW, you claimed flood myths prove your particular god,”

    Evidence an open mind might consider relevant is very different from claiming a proof.

    Imagine you came across a skeptic of abiogenesis. You offer up Stanley Miller’s classic experiments with amino acids as something “an open minded person might consider relevant.” The skeptic replies, “You claimed Miller proved abiogenesis.” I have this hunch you could take issue with the way the skeptic twisted your words.

    Yet your failure to accurately represent TFBW’s point is informative in light of something else you have helped me stumble into. I mentioned above that communication is a two part system – sender and receiver. Both must work for communication to occur. Now, when you think about it, the majority of atheist arguments assert something is so wrong with the sender that it is more logical to conclude it does not exist. Yet throughout all these arguments, it is assumed that there is nothing wrong with the receiver and that it functions quite well. But we know, from a mountain of experience and evidence, that this is not true. The receivers are deeply flawed. After all, we are talking about a species that gets “you claimed flood myths prove your particular god” from “it’s the sort of evidence that someone with an open mind might consider relevant.”

    He never did explain, when asked, what he actually meant.

    Why try sending a message to a busted receiver?

  117. FZM says:

    I think Zande’s core argument is that if there were an omnipotent, omniscient god, that god would manifest everywhere, lay down the law, and not let inconsistencies creep into worldwide religious doctrine. But I don’t think this basic thesis really gets to the core issue of a deity. In this conception, Zande imposes his conception of God over others’ then insists if God doesn’t meet his conception, then God does not exist.

    But I don’t think this really works well.

    I tend to agree; making the argument that God is omnipotent, omniscient and maximally good (or infinite in perfection etc.) therefore God must act in such and such a way and create such and such isn’t straightforward and is going to be open to dispute. The disagreements may be deep because they can be tied up with the background metaphysical assumptions and systems within which the attributes are defined.

    If you’re going to consider the diversity of religious thought as an argument against God, I would approach from a different angle. I would argue that while multiple cultures have a conception of God (or gods), the conceptions are so widely divergent as to render it impossible to determine what singular God (if any) exists at the core of these religions.

    The problem here might be that the terms God, god, gods need some definition so that the idea that multiple cultures have a conception of God, gods etc. isn’t based on equivocation around these terms. Also that different cultures have varying conceptions of God also in itself doesn’t seem to say much about whether God exists unless several cultures spontaneously sharing the same conception of God is made a condition of God existing (even if God himself doesn’t demand or expect it).

  118. Michael says:

    You enjoy using that word, vacuous, don’t you? Shame, then, that you’re using it so clumsily.

    Of course you would think that. But you are wrong. Vacuous means empty of content, which is precisely what is at the core of your 240 words. I exlpained the fatal flaw in your reasoning, but you don’t seem to be able to understand. Let’s try one final time. Your atheism argument depends on the following belief:

    If God were to exist, this deity would appear to all people in all cultures across time. Furthermore, “Its deity (or deities) would wear a single hat, carry a single name and speak a single language audible to the deaf, coherent to infants, understood by the demented, and intelligible to the senile. Its dramas and narratives would be recognised and repeated by cloistered populations in every corner of the planet, and its edicts would have penetrated all tribal, domestic and international legal code mindless of earthly or socioeconomic borders.”

    How do you know this? If you don’t first establish that God’s existence entails the existence of X, than any attempt to get the non-existence of God from the non-existence of X can’t even get off the ground.

    Your “argument” comes across as nothing more than some ad hoc rationalizaton derived to feed your sense of overconfidence.

    Why would God (the one true God who, apparently, really, really, really wants to be known) materialise in different cultures as a different entity, with a different message, a different name, a different cosmogony, a different set of moral directives, a different set of likes and dislikes, a different set of tastes, a different history?

    Deliberately sowing confusion and turmoil?

    So now your bloated sense of overconfidence has you doubling down, falsely assuming that I believe God appeared to all these different cultures. Look, over the years, I have found the overconfident to rely on two crutches – the crutch of stereoptype and the crutch of the straw man argument.

  119. Michael says:

    Not really.

    Oh, but it did. Your clearly didn’t understand the point of my blog entry. But it’s all part of a pattern. Your stereotypes have you turning me into an apologist for the inerrancy of the Bible. You twist and inflate TFBW’s words to form some straw man caricature. And your 240 word “argument” for atheism is vacuous (yet you can’t understand why).

    Overconfident chest-thumping rooted in stereotype and reliance on straw men is dime-a-dozen among the atheist movement these days. Why should you be any different?

  120. Michael says:

    Then, I would infer that this uncertainty leads to an inference that either there is either no God or there is a non-activist God in the vein of the Great Watchmaker.

    Yet there is a third option. We live in a reality that is in some sense separated from God. In one case, God intervened. For the rest, people have tried to make sense of this global intuition about God. I realize it is a distasteful option given our postmodern enlightenment, but it remains a viable option.

  121. Doug says:

    Ah – that third option. Considering that third option would require acknowledging that “receivers are deeply flawed.” And we know that isn’t likely to happen.

  122. john zande says:

    Vacuous means empty of content, which is precisely what is at the core of your 240 words.

    I believe quite a deal of historically accurate content was provided in those short 240 words.

    To-date, you haven’t addressed any of it in a coherent and meaningful manner.

    If you wish to challenge the brute historical facts presented, then challenge them. Demonstrate how Olódùmarè, for example, is in fact Yhwh, and how Yhwh is Osiris and Dumuzi, and how Osiris and Dumuzi are, in fact, Lakapati. Show me how bhavacakra relates to, for example, the Christian notion of vicarious redemption. Establish how Lord Krishna, who says I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from me. Everything is born from me (Gita 10:8) is, in fact, the inanimate, unthinking, impersonal Dhamma of Jainism and Hinduism. Explain how the children of Lidagat and Captan (who created the earth) are, in fact, Puruṣa-sūkta who was sacrificed so as to permit the shaping of the heavens and earth.

    If all belief systems are, in fact, drawn from a single fountain, then explain why such fantastic disparities in interpretation of that single history exist.

    If God were to exist, this deity would appear to all people in all cultures across time … How do you know this?

    I don’t. It is, however, a reasonable assumption based on the claims made by theists as to the nature and purpose of their god/gods, that a one true God (in your case, the Middle Eastern god, Yhwh; a supposedly conscious, competent, proactive, mindful being whom it is claimed has the capacity to be seen and to communicate with people, even capable of physically writing human words which can be read, see Daniel 5:5/ Exodus 34:1, and has, as claimed, answered specific challenges to prove its existence to disbelieving men, see, for example, the altar challenge presented in 1Kings) is the god of all men, wishing to communicate with, and be known to, all men.

    Is that not a reasonable assumption?

    If you wish to posit the existence of an all-powerful god who is only interested in certain cultures and/or individual human beings, a being who is biased and inspired only in ‘saving’ a few, a being who cares not for humanity and derives some sort of satisfaction (or even pleasure) in sowing confusion in the overwhelming majority of men, then fine, posit such a god.

    In one respect, such a being would solve the historical problem as presented.

    The existence of wildly disparate beliefs such as animism, ancestor cults, pantheism, monotheism, panpsychism and modern UFO religions are all explained by a god who is, at best, not concerned with men, or at worst, actually takes pleasure in the discord resulting by the existence of these radically contradictory, violently antagonistic belief systems.

    If that’s the god you wish to posit, then posit it. Do understand, though, that by doing so you cannot also claim this entity to be universally ‘good.’ You cannot claim that entity is interested in all men.

    Is that the god you wish to posit?

  123. john zande says:

    Not quite sure what you’re trying to achieve here, Michael, it really doesn’t seem that important, but in his/her first comment (in response to my first comment), TFBW directly addressed this line regarding evidence for the Middle Eastern god, Yhwh:

    Outside the pages of the bible there is positively nothing in the natural or anthropological landscape which might even remotely lead a person blissfully ignorant of the claims made in bible to suspect that that particular Middle Eastern god has ever inspired anything except the imaginations of a few linguistically specific Iron Age Canaanite hill tribes looking to add a little supernatural spice to their otherwise perfectly terrestrial lives.

    As you can see, TFWB even copy and pasted the opening words to that sentence, clearly implying that flood myths were extra-biblical evidence for the god of the bible, Yhwh.

    And when asked for clarification, TFWB failed to elaborate.

    That appears to be where we are. If TFWB (or yourself) wishes to explain how, exactly, floods are evidence for the Middle Eastern god, Yhwh, then we can move on, although I don’t see this as a particularly interesting avenue of discussion.

  124. john zande says:

    chest-thumping?

    I assure you, I’m quite calm. You, however, do come across as being somewhat frantic and agitated. In fact, your engagement in this thread has, so far, been rich only in accusations and ad hominem attacks. Focusing a little more on the content, might serve you well. You seem quite intelligent, and you should let that show.

  125. john zande says:

    My apologies… Dhamma of Jainism and *Buddhism

  126. TFBW says:

    @john zande: I’ll clarify, because I feel that there has been legitimate miscommunication. First, however, let me say that your compartmentalised ideas about gods are exceedingly detrimental to clear communication. Christians do not believe in a “Middle Eastern god, Yhwh”. To express it in those terms is to demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of Christian theology, and if you doggedly insist on a little-g conception, then you simply do not understand that which you criticise. I won’t go on about the details right now, though.

    Flood myths lend evidence to the historicity of the Bible in various ways (the details of which are not of immediate importance). The main perspective from which I was making this point is the modern perspective — i.e. evidence suited to a modern sceptic, such as yourself, as to why the Bible might be a reliable source of information. That doesn’t seem to have been the thrust of your objection, however. Apparently — and I’m still not entirely clear that I understand the parameters of your objection, even on a careful re-reading — you want all the revelation that the Bible purports to offer to be immediately discernible from the natural world, without special revelation.

    Assuming I’m right, it’s not entirely clear why you demand this. On the one hand, it might be that you think this is the kind of thing God must necessarily do. If so, that goes on the “prove it” pile, since the truth of that claim is in no way obvious, as others have been pointing out. On the other hand, it might be an appeal to fairness — a question of why limit the revelation to such a select group of people, leaving everyone else in ignorance. I have some sympathy for this, and flood myths are relevant to the answer. If Noah did indeed live through the flood, and the myths we find around the world are simply distorted recounts of this shared part of our ancestry, then the revealed knowledge of God has only been lost through our own willingness to do so.

    Biblically speaking, the knowledge of God isn’t something which entered the world in a singular event of scriptural revelation, as you seem to suggest: God started in full communion with Adam and Eve, and interacted in many ways even subsequent to their banishment from Eden. Different aspects of God’s character and plans have been revealed at different times, but mostly the knowledge was widespread, and people chose (and continue to choose) to turn away from it.

  127. Vy says:

    I don’t. It is, however, a reasonable assumption based on the claims made by theists as to the nature and purpose of their god/gods, […] , wishing to communicate with, and be known to, all men.

    Is that not a reasonable assumption?

    No, no it isn’t.

    There’s nothing of substance in the preceding wall of text that takes you from “If God were to exist” to “He must appear more than Y times in history”. Projecting your idea of what an omnipotent being must do if He were to exist, backed by nothing but puffery is more evidence for Michael’s point that you’re an overconfident chest-thumper.

    And BTW, He or as you so adorably call Him, “the Middle Eastern god, Yhwh” refused to stoop to the level of village trickster to prove Himself. You’re very efficient at cherry-picking verses so I’m sure you can find the relevant Bible verse.

    chest-thumping?

    I assure you, I’m quite calm. You, however, do come across as being somewhat frantic and agitated.

    You should go over your posts again because it couldn’t be clearer that the bolded text is yet another projection. That you claim to miss this is either a lie or willful ignorance.

  128. john zande says:

    TFBW

    But it is the Middle Eastern god, Yhwh. That is, unless, you can show me this god appearing somewhere else.

    To repeat what I wrote:

    Temporally speaking, the god of the Pentateuch is entirely absent from all but the last 1.25% of human history, and even after its literary debut in the 7th Century BCE failed to register as anything other than a minor Middle Eastern artistic anomaly envisaged by no other culture on the planet. It didn’t materialise independently in mainland Europe, emerge unassisted on the British Isles, or rouse a single word across the entire Far East. It inspired no one in any of the 30,000 islands of the South Pacific, energised nothing across the African continent, stirred naught in North America, and didn’t move anything or anyone in Central or South America. No one across the vast Indian Great Plains or Russian steppes ever heard of it, no Azorean fisherman suddenly spoke of it, no Scandinavian shipwright carved its name in a stone, no Japanese mother ever thought she’d heard it speak in whispered tones, and no Australian aborigine ever dreamed of it. Outside the pages of the bible there is positively nothing in the natural or anthropological landscape which might even remotely lead a person blissfully ignorant of the claims made in bible to suspect that that particular Middle Eastern god has ever inspired anything except the imaginations of a few linguistically specific Iron Age Canaanite hill tribes looking to add a little supernatural spice to their otherwise perfectly terrestrial lives.

    So, yes, I’m afraid it is the Middle Eastern god, Yhwh. It hasn’t appeared to anyone, anywhere, at any time, other than that alleged in the Pentateuch. That is its only source document.

  129. john zande says:

    Vy

    Did this particular god appear unassisted in Europe, North or South America, the South Pacific, Japan, China, Australia, Russia, India, Africa?

    No. It did not.

    It has one source document.

    That is why it is perfectly accurate to call this particular god, the Middle Eastern god, Yhwh.

    Show me it arising independently somewhere else in the world and I’ll happily change my definition.

  130. john zande says:

    Vy

    Inari Ōkami is a Japenese god.
    Leutogi is a Polynesian god.
    Tūmatauenga is a Maori god.
    Zeus is a Greek god.
    Odin is a European god.
    Rid is a Slavic god
    Vishnu is an Indian god.

    See how it works?

    Yhwh is a Middle Eastern god.

  131. Vy says:

    See how it works?

    Yup, but deflection and cherry-picking never did impress me.

  132. john zande says:

    I didn’t know I was trying to impress.

    And what’s your problem with me drawing your attention to the parlor tricks Yhwh has performed (so the story goes) on cue to convince people of his existence? The altar challenge detailed in 1Kings is a veritable song and dance routine, complete with props and a sceptical audience.

  133. Vy says:

    You should perhaps try reading my post rather than what you think is in my post.

  134. TFBW says:

    @john zande: It does not surprise me that you are more interested in telling us what we believe than asking us. Legitimate misconceptions are one thing; obstinacy is another.

  135. Kevin says:

    I see we are still being expected to treat john’s opinions like some sort of challenge to Christianity, despite zero support for the assertions.

    Going back to the OP and john’s response to the 200 word “challenge”, his reason for disbelieving is because God, or any other hypothetical deity, does not behave the way he thinks a deity should. This is an absurd reason to believe or not believe anything, much less whether there is a god.

    Thus far all we have received is baseless assertion and being told what we believe an being asked to defend these beliefs we allegedly hold. I don’t think any worthy justification for unbelief is forthcoming.

  136. Michael says:

    I believe quite a deal of historically accurate content was provided in those short 240 words.

    Yet they were not relevant. Without first establishing that the existence of God would entail that God would materialize universally throughout the world (even to the point of babies, the mentally ill, and the senile accurately comprehending the materialization), there is no argument in those 240 words; just descriptions. You present it as an argument, but there is no argument. Thus, vacuous.

    To-date, you haven’t addressed any of it in a coherent and meaningful manner.

    But I have. You assert no p (the existence of God) because of no q (independent materializations of God across cultures and time), you must first establish If p, then q. Without doing this, the existence or non-existence of q has no relevance or meaning with regard to p. Furthermore, below I got you to admit that you do not know if the central, core, key premise of your argument is even true.

    If you wish to challenge the brute historical facts presented, then challenge them. Demonstrate how Olódùmarè, for example, is in fact Yhwh, and how Yhwh is Osiris and Dumuzi, and how Osiris and Dumuzi are, in fact, Lakapati. Show me how bhavacakra relates to, for example, the Christian notion of vicarious redemption. Establish how Lord Krishna, who says I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from me. Everything is born from me (Gita 10:8) is, in fact, the inanimate, unthinking, impersonal Dhamma of Jainism and Hinduism. Explain how the children of Lidagat and Captan (who created the earth) are, in fact, Puruṣa-sūkta who was sacrificed so as to permit the shaping of the heavens and earth.

    But I don’t believe Olódùmarè, Osiris and Dumuzi. Never have. It doesn’t exactly help your position to demand that I demonstrate something I don’t believe. No, it underscores the weakness of your position.

    If all belief systems are, in fact, drawn from a single fountain, then explain why such fantastic disparities in interpretation of that single history exist.

    I don’t believe that all belief systems are drawn from a single fountain.

    Me: If God were to exist, this deity would appear to all people in all cultures across time … How do you know this?

    I don’t.

    Exactly. Thus, it is belief. Your belief. You are, of course, free to build your atheism on your beliefs about what God should do and have done, but that you think we are all supposed to share in that belief and embrace that belief speaks again to your overconfidence. Perhaps you are simply used to making these arguments among your fellow overconfident atheists.

    It is, however, a reasonable assumption

    Hmmm. Let’s say I agree that it is a “reasonable assumption.” I would simply note that a “reasonable assumption” is not strong enough to merit your extreme level of overconfidence. How did you put it?

    For the hell of it, though, I gave the post’s author 240 words demonstrating why it is folly. I could have presented any number of arguments, but by the simple fact that no religion has emerged twice on the planet is demonstration enough that all religion is false, and as such there is no need to even litigate the claims made by any one religion.

    So your “demonstration” of the “folly” of theism, 240 words thrown together “for the hell it,” are built on the foundation of, at most, …a reasonable assumption. You can’t make this stuff up.

    But no, I do not find your assumption to be reasonable, for your perceptions and resulting portrayal depend on cherry picking and misdirection.
    And even that then collapses into a full blown straw man…….

    If you wish to posit the existence of an all-powerful god who is only interested in certain cultures and/or individual human beings, a being who is biased and inspired only in ‘saving’ a few, a being who cares not for humanity and derives some sort of satisfaction (or even pleasure) in sowing confusion in the overwhelming majority of men, then fine, posit such a god.

    Which then leads to a false dilemma:

    If that’s the god you wish to posit, then posit it. Do understand, though, that by doing so you cannot also claim this entity to be universally ‘good.’ You cannot claim that entity is interested in all men.

    Look, these “arguments” clearly have effected how you think about God. But they are not having any such effect on ,me. The only thing I see being demonstrated by your comments is the truth of my blog posting.

  137. john zande says:

    Just to be clear, those 240 words are most certainly not the best argument against the gods of man. 13.8 billion years of cosmic evolution fills that niche quite neatly.

    You present it as an argument, but there is no argument. Thus, vacuous.

    There’s that clumsy use of “vacuous” again. You see, you can’t describe 100,000 odd years of human religious culture (beginning with ancestor cults and animism to the more contemporary UFO religions and panpsychism) as lacking content. In that timeframe we see (in at least the last 7,000 years which we can comment on with any semblance of authority) a stunningly clear pattern: no religion and no god has ever emerged independently twice, and not a solitary person in history has ever has arrived at Mithraism, for example, without it first being taught to them.

    This is a brute historical fact.

    Against this brute historical fact we can superimpose the claims made by any religion, and see if those claims hold water.

    This is the part you are ignoring.

    You religion, for example, claims the Middle Eastern god, Yhwh, is the one true God, and it, Yhwh, desperately wishes to communicate with, and be known to, all men.

    Given that humans emerged +/- 200,000 years ago, that is an odd claim when this god, Yhwh, is entirely absent from all but the last 1.25% of human history, and even after its literary debut in the 7th Century BCE failed to register as anything other than a minor Middle Eastern artistic anomaly envisaged by no other culture on the planet.

    Now it’s true, this fact alone does not deliver a death blow. Apologists are more than adept at arranging hasty excuses which sound plausible to those who wish to be deceived. Critical thinking, coupled to intellectual honesty, is not, after all, a quality often associated with the typical evangelical believer.

    Outside that group who wish to be deceived, though, the irreconcilable nature of this particular claim (longing to be known to all men) against the brute historical fact of conceivably the worst possible attempt ever made at being known by all men (by an all-powerful being, mind you), cannot be so easily ignored.

    But not to worry. Let’s not spin the tires.

    Perhaps I can ask a question?

    If Christianity was (somehow) completely neglected for just one generation, forgotten entirely, with no artefacts left whatsoever, would a belief in Yhwh rise independently again a few generations down the line?

  138. Doug says:

    @John,
    In case you’ve missed it, the denizens of this blog are mostly reacting to your comments with a collective, “huh?” We’ve never encountered someone pedalling such bizarre misrepresentations of our beliefs, let alone someone imagining that he is well within his rights to hold us to those bizarre misrepresentations.
    In case you care, the common Christian position has long had this idea we call “Common Grace”. This is not “special pleading” — it is explicitly built into scripture:

    what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.

    and later:

    For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

    Moreover, again and again, Jesus indicates that God’s judgment will involve surprises for everyone — not the least of which appears to be that God is not nearly as tribalistic as you clearly require him to be. Hint: nobody believes in the god that you don’t believe in.
    Perhaps when you came, you thought that you might be engaging with David Marshall, who does seem to make claims about the global extent of God’s revelation (he doesn’t hang out here).
    You might also want to update your thinking about “brute historic facts” with some recent historical evidence.

  139. Doug says:

    @John,
    Just spent a few entertaining minutes over at your blog. It involved one of those, “aha!” moments. The last time I had that peculiar feeling of someone kicking the trees off the pitch while the ball sat idly between the goals was when listening to …Stephen Law. 🙂

  140. john zande says:

    Doug, hi

    what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.

    Lord Krishna says:

    I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from me. Everything is born from me (Gita 10:8) … I am the original source of all. No one is above me (Gita 12:6,7)

    Competing claims.

    Are you suggesting Krishna and Yhwh are the same entity, or one is wrong?

    If one is wrong, why would the other (the true source of all things) permit this falsehood to exist, sowing confusion (and damnation) in millions?

  141. john zande says:

    Stephen is a good man. Funny, too. He enjoys my excursions into Poe’s Law.

  142. Michael says:

    Just to be clear, those 240 words are most certainly not the best argument against the gods of man….Now it’s true, this fact alone does not deliver a death blow.

    Sounds like someone’s try to dial down that overconfidence. A bit. Maybe I got through.

    There’s that clumsy use of “vacuous” again. You see, you can’t describe 100,000 odd years of human religious culture (beginning with ancestor cults and animism to the more contemporary UFO religions and panpsychism) as lacking content.

    If you were replying to a question about human religious culture, you’d be right. But in the context of being a justification for atheism, it’s vacuous.

    In that timeframe we see (in at least the last 7,000 years which we can comment on with any semblance of authority) a stunningly clear pattern: no religion and no god has ever emerged independently twice,

    Which is what I would expect if Christianity were true (I explained this early on).

    You religion, for example, claims the Middle Eastern god, Yhwh, is the one true God, and it, Yhwh, desperately wishes to communicate with, and be known to, all men.

    There is a problem so deep that it cannot be solved with communication. God did not intervene in human history to say “I’m here and this is what I want.” There is far more to it.

    Apologists are more than adept at arranging hasty excuses which sound plausible to those who wish to be deceived.

    I’m not sure there are any apologists here, except for you. But I am pretty sure no one around here wishes to be deceived.

    Critical thinking, coupled to intellectual honesty, is not, after all, a quality often associated with the typical evangelical believer.

    So says the guy who leans on the crutches of stereotype and straw men.

    Perhaps I can ask a question?

    If Christianity was (somehow) completely neglected for just one generation, forgotten entirely, with no artefacts left whatsoever, would a belief in Yhwh rise independently again a few generations down the line?

    I would say that the truth of Christianity entails that it not be neglected for just one generation, forgotten entirely, with no artefacts left whatsoever. If that were to happen, it would be falsified. So no, I do not think a belief in Yhwh would rise independently again a few generations down the line since Christianity would have been falsified by its death.

    I find it interesting that the Middle Eastern god, Yhwh, set the stage with a minor Middle Eastern tribe and then after the Incarnation, He was executed (so true to human nature). But then something happened and now 2.2 billion people all across the globe (200 million in China, 380 million in Africa) profess faith in this Middle Eastern god.

    Which leads to a question. Up above you included Yhwh among the list of other proposed deities –

    Inari Ōkami is a Japenese god.
    Leutogi is a Polynesian god.
    Tūmatauenga is a Maori god.
    Zeus is a Greek god.
    Odin is a European god.
    Rid is a Slavic god
    Vishnu is an Indian god.

    Can you list how many people profess faith in each of these deities, along with their global distribution?

  143. Doug says:

    @John,
    Ever read C.S.Lewis? Also, while you may share a “damnation model” with many unsophisticated Christians, let me reference the previously-made point that Jesus made about God’s judgment (where “damnation” would feature).

    Are you familiar with the Vedas? Expressions in harmony with Christianity are so pronounced there that some Hindu scholars claim tampering (I am insufficiently informed to judge, though my Indian associates tell me that the tampering claim is groundless).

  144. Michael says:

    As you can see, TFWB even copy and pasted the opening words to that sentence, clearly implying that flood myths were extra-biblical evidence for the god of the bible, Yhwh.
    “but it’s the sort of evidence that someone with an open mind might consider relevant.”

    Note how you dropped the qualifiers – an open mind might consider relevant.

    But that’s nothing compared to your original misrepresentation, where you turned evidence into proof: “And TFBW, you claimed flood myths prove your particular god”

    As I told you, “Evidence an open mind might consider relevant is very different from claiming a proof.”

    Not quite sure what you’re trying to achieve here, Michael, it really doesn’t seem that important,

    What’s the topic of my blog entry? Let me quote myself:

    modern day atheism is defined by its overconfidence, lack of nuance, and lack of curiosity

    This particular example helps to further support and illustrate my case. First, that you twisted and inflated TFBW’s words to form some straw man caricature is something we expect from a mindset of overconfidence. But here’s the catch. Overconfident people have immense problems admitting when they are wrong. So when they refuse to do so on small matters that don’t seem that important, not only does the overconfidence become obvious to all, it raises a good question – why think they would do so on matters of perceived importance?

  145. john zande says:

    If you were replying to a question about human religious culture, you’d be right. But in the context of being a justification for atheism, it’s vacuous.

    Huh? We are talking about human religious culture.

    I would say that the truth of Christianity entails that it not be neglected for just one generation, forgotten entirely, with no artefacts left whatsoever. If that were to happen, it would be falsified. So no, I do not think a belief in Yhwh would rise independently again a few generations down the line since Christianity would have been falsified by its death.

    I said nothing about it being falsified, simply skipping a generation and not being passed on. That being the case, would Yhwh rise again?

    Can you list how many people profess faith in each of these deities, along with their global distribution?

    No, but I can tell you that once almost everyone believed the earth was flat and the sun and the planets revolved around the earth.

  146. john zande says:

    Note how you dropped the qualifiers – an open mind might consider relevant.

    Um, I believed I asked for clarification on the point.

    None, to date, has been presented.

  147. Doug says:

    @Michael,

    then something happened

    That “something that happened” is particularly intriguing in the context of Jesus’ teaching:

    In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.
    And whoever does not carry their cross [– i.e., submit to humiliating torture and execution –] and follow me cannot be my disciple.

    On the back of that teaching, a huge chunk of the world is converted? (as Bonhoeffer put it, “When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die. … But we do not want to die.”)
    Perhaps there is something, after all, in Jesus’ words elsewhere:

    whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

  148. john zande says:

    Tampering? Never heard anything so direct, but of course Indians (and some branches of Islam) believe Jesus died an old man in India (there’s even a tomb).

    Some themes are similar. In the Ṛgveda, Puruṣa-sūkta (the cosmic Man) is sacrificed for all (RV10.90.15cd). Considering this text predates Judaism there’s always the possibility of shared (lifted) theological themes.

  149. Michael says:

    Huh? We are talking about human religious culture.

    No, you said you were offering up a “demonstration” of the “folly” of God belief. In that sense, your “demonstration” was missing. In other words, absent. In other words, vacuous. Stop trying to pretend you were just offering up a brief history lesson because, hey, history is a cool topic.

    I said nothing about it being falsified, simply skipping a generation and not being passed on.

    I doesn’t matter what you said; the falsification is logically entailed in your example. I answered your question.

    No, but I can tell you that once almost everyone believed the earth was flat and the sun and the planets revolved around the earth.

    Why do you keep raising these irrelevant points? If you would have bothered to determine how many followers each of the deities currently have, along with their global distribution, you might want to rethink another one of your overconfident claims:

    Outside that group who wish to be deceived, though, the irreconcilable nature of this particular claim (longing to be known to all men) against the brute historical fact of conceivably the worst possible attempt ever made at being known by allmen (by an all-powerful being, mind you), cannot be so easily ignored.

    As for your misrepresentation of TFBW’s position (portraying him as one who claimed to have a “proof”):

    Um, I believed I asked for clarification on the point.
    None, to date, has been presented.

    Wow. It’s one thing to refuse to admit your error in putting the word “prove” in TFBW’s mouth, but to continue insisting it’s his problem for not “clarifying” crosses the line.

    Look, I think it has become clear that you have a serious problem with listening to others. And that’s ironic given your arguments, since listening is a vital communication skill. Many have told you that you have been misrepresenting their Christian beliefs and you don’t listen. I have found myself having to repeat and re-explain the same point over and over again. Because you don’t listen. You thought TFBW claimed to have a proof for God when he made no such claim. Because you don’t listen. Your reliance on stereotype is consistent with one who does not listen.

    And then comes the objective evidence – your last reply to me was posted one whole minute after I posted my replies (people can check the time stamps for themselves). One minute. You are not listening.

    You are also quite prolific – 32 comments on the last 3 days.

    Look, I have been around the internet long enough to know how this will play out. An overconfident, prolific New Atheist with such poor listening skills is eventually going to create chaos and drama around here. So it’s best to nip it in the bud and say good-bye.

  150. TFBW says:

    john zande said:

    Um, I believed I asked for clarification on the point.
    None, to date, has been presented.

    This is particularly obnoxious. I wrote a four paragraph response, opening with the remark that I thought the request for clarification was fair. In his next response to me, john reacts to something I said in the third sentence of that response, and nothing else. There is no evidence that he read beyond his first objection, and thus ever read the response which he claims has not been presented to date. This is exactly why I try not to invest too much effort in responding to him: his overconfidence, lack of nuance, and lack of curiosity means that he feels little need to actually read the responses presented to him, and can be relied upon to misconstrue them according to his own prejudices even when he does.

  151. Dhay says:

    On the one hand, I see that john zande’s 11:26 reply was to Michael’s 11:18 post, hence eight minutes after, not to Michael’s 11:25 cross-post.

    On the other hand, I also see this exchange:

    john zande: Perhaps I can ask a question?

    If Christianity was (somehow) completely neglected for just one generation, forgotten entirely, with no artefacts left whatsoever, would a belief in Yhwh rise independently again a few generations down the line?

    Michael: I would say that the truth of Christianity entails that it not be neglected for just one generation, forgotten entirely, with no artefacts left whatsoever. If that were to happen, it would be falsified. So no, I do not think a belief in Yhwh would rise independently again a few generations down the line since Christianity would have been falsified by its death.

    john zande:I said nothing about it being falsified, simply skipping a generation and not being passed on. That being the case, would Yhwh rise again?

    I really cannot see how Michael’s response to john zande’s initial question does not answer it fully, clearly and unambiguously, complete with the reasoning. So definitely poor listening skills on the part of john zande, poor comprehension skills, or just playing bloody-mindedly awkwardly stupid — a game not worth anyone playing with him.

    Well, he got his reaction, and well-deserved it was, too.

  152. Michael says:

    On the one hand, I see that john zande’s 11:26 reply was to Michael’s 11:18 post, hence eight minutes after, not to Michael’s 11:25 cross-post.

    You’re right. My mistake.

  153. Doug says:

    Funny: over the course of 31 comments, it was all about tribalism and (not) “being known by all men”. Yet in the 32nd comment, we discover that John is familiar with “shared theological themes”. Fancy that. Perhaps his referenced “intellectual honesty” will make him consider such themes in greater detail. These three books would be a good place to begin that investigation.

  154. grodrigues says:

    “An overconfident, prolific New Atheist with such poor listening skills is eventually going to create chaos and drama around here.”

    To be fair, this is all the entertainment (of sorts) we will get from them.

  155. Julian says:

    Exactly. Good riddance.

  156. FZM says:

    This is exactly why I try not to invest too much effort in responding to him: his overconfidence, lack of nuance, and lack of curiosity means that he feels little need to actually read the responses presented to him, and can be relied upon to misconstrue them according to his own prejudices even when he does.

    John Zande seems to be gone now but TFBW’s opinion here seems fairly accurate, at least from what I could follow:

    The core of the theism refuting argument he was presenting seemed to be:

    If God exists and can rightly be called all-good, God must do/create x,y,z. (I’m guessing an important part of what John thought essential to being all-good was a desire to be known by all humans in all places and at all times).

    Since God hasn’t done or created x,y,z either God does not exist or God can’t rightly be called all- good. (The same thing as nothing corresponding to the God of theism existing).

    The lack of curiosity and nuance would be manifest in the way the recurrent questions about what John meant by all-goodness and similar terms and why people aught to believe his idea of all-goodness and what it entails was an objectively correct, exhaustive one seemed to be ignored.

    They’re very relevant to this kind of attempted refutation of theism.

    Another tendency I thought I noticed was equivocation around use of the term god and God; if God is a term designating the particular nature of the God of theism (omnipotent, omniscient, all perfect, creator of the universe kind of thing), many gods of many religious traditions, where there is no evidence that those who believed in them attributed such a nature to them, aren’t candidates for being able to provide competing theistic revelations.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.