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Atheist Community of Austin
New Atheism and its Gift

I have been an atheist for as long as I have memory of being reasonable, but with the advent of the so-called new atheism movement I have jumped on the bandwagon and had become as militant. Recently, the last year or so I have become aware of some problems with the message of this movement primarily this "us versus them" or "we are better than you" attitude. I have know my fair share of hypocritical Christians, but a lot of ignorant atheists as well. See Youtube for examples. I have criticized myself for being exactly like those people I have criticized. I have begun studying the Bible and the arguments for God and I had to agree with 1 Corinthians 2. I am now a believer in God. I can not convince an atheist to accept Christ, but I do not care or expect to. I followed what I perceived as evidence and now I am a Christian. So, New Atheism has turned by disbelief into belief. Thank God.

Yes there are concerns about the us and them attitude from some. But there is actually no debate intended what so ever. Atheism is just about what is known as fact and reasonable. Whereas Christianity or Muslim or any of the other millions of different religious beliefs (and I might add, also debating themselves) is certainly not based on any known fact. The only conclusion I can find for believers is that they believe whatever they want to believe and facts, science or even reason has no grounds at all.

Strictly speaking you can believe in whatever you like, it certainly doesn't make it true even for you. I would like to know (other than mere debate) that what made your reasoning (not disbelief by the way) into thinking there now must be a god? And how is this any different from believing in a flying spaghetti monster in the sky? (the standard youtube videos as well, that I'm sure you must have seen)

It is now quite obvious (fact) that the universe evolved. So quite obviously you may not be religious? But you just believe in God? Exactly which part of 'Corinthians' was it? Speaking in tongues? Something else? Because reading these words I cannot see what could make anyone believe in God. If anything I think people would read it and laugh! (just my opinion)

Atheism is not against anyone or even the other point of view. It is only based on scientific facts and reasoning, are you against that?

Well I have to disagree with you. There is an intolerant attitude that is very perceivable to those who don't choose to ignore it. The claim that atheism is just based on the facts and what is reasonable is arguable. Whether Christians and Muslims argue about this or that is inconsequential to me, that is I do not think it matters. You claim they do not base their arguments n known fact. This seems redundant to me and willfully ignorant. What do you suppose they use-- factoids? You say they do not have facts or at least do not base their beliefs on fact, then you claim they have facts. I think you should explain this point further. To skip ahead to answer you claim about reason, I was actually referring to 1 Corinthians in chapter 2. verse 18 etc. I believe that atheism and theism can be reasonable albeit only one being true. I have never been a believer and I have never given faith a chance. Of course, I can not convince you that faith can be reasonable and my only recourse is to show 1 Corinthians ch.1. I know atheists do not care what the Bible says, but if that is what the Christian believes for some reason then they should be aloud to use it. If you are confident in your atheism, logical reasoning, and scientific understanding, then it should not be a problem for you to discredit a believer's position. Atheists claim to have an open mind. Demonstrate it. I finally allowed faith into my life. You can claim psychology all you want but good luck showing anyone evidence that i am deluding myself. You claim that atheism is not against any one or their point of view. With all due respect as a life long atheist, it is definitely opposed to other points of view, for example supernaturalism, theism, organized religion, anything faith-based, etc. If you were not oppose, then you would have not responded.

No they (religious any type) don't base beliefs or faith, on fact. Whereas science does. I hope I don't need to prove that facts are the accurate understanding of something as we presently know it with the present information we have.

You CAN prove to me faith is reasonable. In the sense that you just need to provide this scientific information and how it all works and after lots of highly technical testing and researching then at last we will have a god. But as yet there has been NONE. No evidence. Not even the most negligible tiny itsy bitsy bit of anything remotely whatsoever to say there is a god. I mean NOTHING.

Whereas the the NO god science is abundant. We have evolution theory that is more sound than the theory of gravity. I mean just accept evolution as true because multiple tests on totally different known facts (heat, light, movement, time etc) ALL point INDIVIDUALLY to evolution as the BEST answer. It is such an excellent answer, that we even teach it in public schools now, to ALL children. I mean this is FULLY accepted, politically, socially, intelligently, you name it, that's how we got here, WE KNOW NOW.

Next is this silly belief that god exists even though evolution has been proved beyond doubt. What exactly did he do then? He didn't create the universe! Nor people! Nor anything. What is there to believe exactly? Why believe in god? (except for this attitude thing that is just a spinoff from belief it seems) Maybe join a sport or something.

By the way atheists are not opposed to ANY other point of view. YOU may be totally right. Its just that with the extremely reliable and advanced information (especially to 2000 years ago) we have PRESENTLY concluded that there is not enough evidence (actually NONE) pointing to an existence of any god like creature. IF (really its unlikely but I'm open) IF, evidence ever comes that proves there's a god then rejoice away. But for the moment it is found to be MOST unlikely of any theory EVER.

From kimsland: "No they (religious any type) don't base beliefs or faith, on fact. Whereas science does. I hope I don't need to prove that facts are the accurate understanding of something as we presently know it with the present information we have."

Kimsland, not all beliefs can be based on fact. Do you believe, your life is worth living? Do you believe you are happy? What is the purpose of your life? Why do you believe one way or another on any of these questions? Whatever it is, it's not facts.

One can read Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot", one can read Ecclesiastes, or one can live till 90 years old - one will reach the same conclusion - there is no universal objective meaning in human existence. Why then do we want to live? The answer is simple. If we had not wanted, we wouldn't live. Will to survive is an evolutionary requirement, isn't it? It's the same anthropic principle which explains why the Earth is so well suited for life. Why then we do stuff beyond what's required for basic survival: arts, sports, science, philosophy, search for ETI? Humans like to think they do everything for a reason. That's why if there is no reason, they create one. E.g. helping other people seems like a good idea. But why should I do that at my own expense? "God commands me to do that" is just about as good as any other reason.

Science is good at explaining how one particular state of matter came to be from some previous state. It also can tell us how to change the present state of matter to get to some other "desired" state. But it tells NOTHING on what that "desired" state of matter should be. It does not even tell us why we should engage in scientific research. We come up with our own reasons which have no factual basis other than our desires and passions. As Hume famously put it, we cannot derive "ought" from "is". What "ought" is based completely on beliefs that we make up for ourselves.

If we go in the other direction and try to determine what was the original state of matter and where it came from, science cannot help here either. OK. We got all the way back to the big bang. Do we know now why it happened? "The universe appeared from nothing, for no reason" and "The universe was created by God, for a reason" still seem to be equally good (or bad) explanations. Neither is based on facts. Believing in the stuff that's in the Bible is a different matter. Biblical literalism is a different discussion.

From kimsland "You CAN prove to me faith is reasonable. In the sense that you just need to provide this scientific information and how it all works, and after lots of highly technical testing and researching then at last we will have a god."

If we discuss beliefs in facts, yes, we should discuss facts. Not if we discuss our intentions, tastes, attitudes, and values. Science has no opinion on such matters. Religion does. Tell me what you live for, and I will tell you what your god is. Everybody has a "god" in a sense of "purpose in life" and "reason for doing what we do". And everyone has a "religion" as a system of beliefs to justify our meaningless existence.

From kimsland: "Next is this silly belief that god exists even though evolution has been proved beyond doubt. What exactly did he do then? He didn't create the universe! Nor people! Nor anything. What is there to believe exactly? Why believe in god? (except for this attitude thing that is just a spin-off from belief it seems) Maybe join a sport or something."

Well, again, why do you believe that joining a sport is better than smoking pot or going to church? Smoking pot is, perhaps, the easiest to justify. Those "silly beliefs" that we "need to do this or that" is all we have to justify doing it. Life becomes easier when one can open a book that tells what we ought to do to be happier. People long for someone to tell them these things. This is why those motivational speakers and mega-churches are a booming business. They will always be. You seem to share this opinion, don't you?

From kimsland: "By the way atheists are not opposed to ANY other point of view." Is that so?..

I can gladly join atheists in opposing aggressive ignorance of some religious people or power abuse by some religious leaders. Religion is a huge power which comes with huge responsibility. And, yes, power corrupts. But, sorry, opposing religious beliefs is, IMHO, robbing ourselves of the reason to live. One cannot destroy one religious belief without creating another in its place. The problem is that atheists oppose religion and beliefs themselves instead of opposing aggressive ignorance. Opposing aggressive ignorance starts at home, within ourselves. Like Cassidy here, I found myself to be a Christian while doing it... Did I explain why? Was this explanation reasonable? I'm speaking for myself. People believe in stuff for all kinds of different reasons.

AG said, "One can read Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot", one can read Ecclesiastes,etc."

Yes one can read the bible babble with questions that can never be answered and answer that can never be questioned that was written by Bronze and Iron Age Semitic tribes of illiterate sheep herders; or they can read Pale Blue Dot. Carl Sagan's book about Voyager I and 2 launched in 1977, the spacecraft that took the famous photograph of Earth from the edge of our solar system. Voyagers 1 and 2 launched into space in the summer of 1977 to explore space. Both Voyager spacecrafts were designed to last five years, and both encountered Jupiter and Saturn between 1979 and 1981; the gas giant planets and their satellites, they have continued their journeys and are now the most distant human objects in the cosmos. The last Voyager images were taken Valentine's Day, 1990, when Voyager 1 looked back from 3.7 billion miles to take a portrait of seven of the nine planets in our own solar system, including the "pale blue dot" that is Earth. The data the Voyagers returned revolutionized our knowledge of the outer planets and their intriguing array of satellites. Myths won't answer any questions (they never have and never will) but some people just don't want to move on. An amazing amount of information was collected during these experiments in space exploration, and Carl Sagan wrote about it so that the public could be informed.

AG said, "Why then do we want to live? The answer is simple. If we had not wanted, we wouldn't live. Will to survive is an evolutionary requirement, isn't it?

Around 500,000,000 years ago bacteria mixed and matched DNA of two organisms rather than making clones for children. This sped up evolution and sex evolved for reproduction that is what caused the Cambrian explosion. Life Forms, that eventually led to man, some 495 million years later. Until sex for a billion years amoebas were the highest life form. Natural selection produces organisms perfectly suited to their environments. Organisms adapt to the environment not the other way around. Human adaptations evolved in response to the environment. Natural selection is not always a matter of 'survival of the fittest' but also survival of those most adaptable to changing surroundings.

AG said, "It's the same anthropic principle which explains why the Earth is so well suited for life."

Stephen Hawking cites the 1992 discovery of a planet orbiting a star other than our Sun. "That makes the coincidences of our planetary conditions (the single Sun) the lucky combination of Earth-Sun distance and solar mass far less remarkable, and far less compelling as evidence that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings."

The answers to these questions has nothing to do with belief in a Creator or any religious beliefs (no matter how hard anyone tries to make it work out) it doesn't. Religious belief never has and never will explain a thing about the universe or life in the universe.

AG said, "Why then we do stuff beyond what's required for basic survival: arts, sports, science, philosophy, search for ETI?

We developed as species as wanders hunters and gathers and explorers this trait is linked to our survival as a species. Because man evolved intelligence and curiosity we continued to explore and now we will explore the universe.

AG said, "Humans like to think they do everything for a reason. That's why if there is no reason, they create one. E.g. helping other people seems like a good idea. But why should I do that at my own expense? "God commands me to do that" is just about as good as any other reason."

We have evolved not only to survive and reproduce but to protect our species in order for it to survive. Darwin reasoned that altruism between individuals is an adaptive strategy (in many environments) individual reproductive success increases through the safety and support of the group. Studies on all kinds of animals show that competition represent important but secondary features of daily social interaction. The amount of social aggression is statistically insignificant; affiliation is the major governing principle of socializing. Darwin observed that the communities that included the greatest number of altruistic members would be the most successful and have the greatest number of offspring. There are tests that have proven that all kinds of animals display altruistic behavior even to strangers; most likely because they have learned that cooperation is better for them. That man evolved from certain lower primates is proved beyond doubt.

AG said, "Science is good at explaining how one particular state of matter came to be from some previous state. It also can tell us how to change the present state of matter to get to some other "desired" state. But it tells NOTHING on what that "desired" state of matter should be. It does not even tell us why we should engage in scientific research. We come up with our own reasons which have no factual basis other than our desires and passions. As Hume famously put it, we cannot derive "ought" from "is".

Just one example of why we developed science was to find cures for diseases that killed millions of people.

The idea was that "ought" is based completely on beliefs that we make up for ourselves." Not science! Nobody can make up a disease that doesn't really exist. Under a microscope, scientists can identify different species of bacteria by their shape. They don't just make them up.

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy - A Peer Review Academic Resource David Hume (1711-1776)

"He dismissed standard accounts of causality and argued that our conceptions of cause-effect relations are grounded in habits of thinking, rather than in the perception of causal forces in the external world itself. He defended the skeptical position that human reason is inherently contradictory, and it is only through naturally-instilled beliefs that we can navigate our way through common life. In the philosophy of religion, he argued that it is unreasonable to believe testimonies of alleged miraculous events, and he hints, accordingly, that we should reject religions that are founded on miracle testimonies. Against the common belief of the time that God's existence could be proven through a design or causal argument, Hume offered compelling criticisms of standard theistic proofs. He also advanced theories on the origin of popular religious beliefs, grounding such notions in human psychology rather than in rational argument or divine revelation."

Adopting those beliefs without evidence is a philosophy "ought" without the "is" facts.

Theology has never been about finding the truth or telling the truth. When scientific facts contradict biblical beliefs they prefer to ignore science; Religious beliefs are philosophies with the illusion of knowledge where none in reality exists. Religion makes no effort to explain a thing it's all a mystery. It does not explain where life came from you just live it. Religion promotes the idea that we should all be in awe of everything; we should treat life as a problem that can never be solved by the human mind. And when evangelicals are caught preaching things that can be proven to be wrong scientifically then they claim religion is not science; the purpose of religion is to discourage immorality, when it has been proven that religion has little impact on society problems, it has little to do with morality.

Most of us have an innate moral sense which is genetically coded into us as a direct result of over one hundred thousand years of physical and social evolution. With the exception of some mutant psychopaths who run a muck killing. And religion does nothing for them or the insane.

What evidence is there for the existence of any god (there is no evidence) all you have is dogma. Atheists are not trying to prove anything about something for which there is no evidence.

AG said, "OK. We got all the way back to the big bang. Do we know now why it happened? "The universe appeared from nothing, for no reason" and "The universe was created by God, for a reason" still seem to be equally good (or bad) explanations. Neither is based on facts. Believing in the stuff that's in the Bible is a different matter. Biblical literalism is a different discussion."

Carl Sagan said, "The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be". George Lemaitre described the beginning of the universe as a burst of fireworks, comparing galaxies to the burning embers spreading out in a growing sphere from the center of the burst. He believed this burst of fireworks was the beginning of time, taking place on "a day without yesterday."

Scientists accepted the Big Bang as fact, but some scientists predicted that gravity would eventually slow down the expansion of the universe and make the universe fall back toward its center, but Lemaitre believed that the universe would keep expanding. He argued that the Big Bang was a unique event, while other scientists believed that the universe would shrink to the point of another Big Bang, and so on.

In the winter of 1998, two separate teams of astronomers in Berkeley, California made a startling discovery. They were both observing supernovae - exploding stars visible over great distances - to see how fast the universe is expanding. In accordance with prevailing scientific wisdom, the astronomers expected to find the rate of expansion to be decreasing, Instead they found it to be increasing - a discovery which has since "shaken astronomy to its core" (Astronomy, October 1999). The observations made in Berkeley supported Lemaitre's contention that the Big Bang was in fact "a day without yesterday."

AG, (again) I hope you understand that this discredits the assertions you posted?

AG said, "But, sorry, opposing religious beliefs is, IMHO, robbing ourselves of the reason to live. One cannot destroy one religious belief without creating another in its place."

This is AG admitting that man made up religion to make life something worth living. Maybe that was because we use to be soooo dumb.

AG said, "One more note. I was just listening to the Tom Petty's song "I won't back down" etc..It's not a religious song, but it reflects very well what a religious belief is. It's not about facts. There is not a single word in the song about the facts or events that prompted it. But it's clear what it is about - it's about attitude. It's about determination to do what one considers right. It's about faith. I'd say, it's about human spirit in whatever sense you may take it. I think, atheists also have this attitude. They just won't admit that it's based on faith, not on facts."

Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers song "I Won't Back Down" sure is not about religion or religious beliefs any more than "Free Fallin" is about going to hell.

>ABC News' Russell Goldman @Goldman Russell) reports:

Michele Bachmann might be the Republican Party's latest "American Girl," but according to the Los Angeles Times Tom Petty reportedly told the stalwart conservative and presidential contender he doesn't want her playing that song any more at campaign events.

It's not the first time the song has been used by a candidate. Hillary Clinton also played the tune at events when she sought the Democratic nomination in 2008. Petty didn't object to her use. It has also been featured in several movies and television shows.

Nor is this the first time Tom Petty has put the kibosh on a Republican candidate playing his music at campaign events. He reportedly shot down President Bush's request to use "I Won't Back Down."<!

Well, it's pretty easy to figure out what that song is not about. Don't pop a cork but just maybe it's about the far left "fringe folk" not backing down, this is all just hysterically funny - this proves it - there is a god!

AG said, "According to Hume and Locke, humans do not have any innate ideas or concepts at all. Everything people know or believe is learned. Ever heard of a newborn with any scientific ideas?

Ever heard of a newborn with any stupid superstitious beliefs"

"The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it." ~ Albert Einstein

Thanks Linda for replying.

AG, I've come back and re-read this entire topic again. I hope you are still out there and involved here still, and ideally reply again. (although because this this thread has the latest posts in the middle of the thread now, it is making it difficult to follow, especially without any notification email or otherwise).

After reading the topic and all replies again I've picked up that you feel religious belief is like a psychological feeling that helps you and other believers live a 'good' (subjective) happy life. Is this correct? I'm not asking for your actual unproven belief, I'm just asking why and what it does to you.

Again from reading the entire topic, I noticed I didn't say, 'prove your faith'. Because if you could prove it then there wouldn't even be a debate. Generally the concerns have been with fact and feelings, and trying to define what is natural (I feel everything is) and what is this feeling of faith.

I'm still a bit confused on why religious or faith believers don't just try to seek psychological help (no sarcasm implied strangely) and get this same feeling basically having the same thoughts and actions (love thy neighbor etc) without belief? It is NOT belief that gives you these feelings it is just you. You could just as easily say that due to my love of the wonders of the universe I continue to be kind and helpful and loving to all life on Earth (plus life still to be discovered elsewhere).

Atheists are shown to 'believers' as irritated, unhappy, lack of feelings, frustrated individuals. But this couldn't be further than the truth. Just like you, atheists enjoy (as much as possible) their life whilst alive, and ALSO try to be loving and kind to others. There is no research that states if you 'believe' life is better whilst alive. Atheists laugh and cry as much as anyone else, living their life.

I suppose I led off on a tangent speaking about feelings Vs facts. I agree that these things exist for BOTH believers and non believers. Basically facts are facts and that's that, fully accepted. And feelings are a personal thing that our body and brain feel, fully accepted. This really has little to do with proving your faith, and therefore there is NO argument.

I suppose I started by stating that facts exist that they point (very clearly) to evolution and things such as DNA research has helped show how people (highly likely) evolved. Plus there are mega other points of interest like Dinosaurs (before man even existed) and the fact that even planet Earth existed well over 4 Billions years BEFORE man even walked the earth.

Does proving evolution disprove god? Obviously not. But it sure seems reasonable that everything is natural to the universe. Including people, of which may be extinct one day as well (likely as history has shown of other lifeforms)

But what of 'God'? What evidence (bar blind faith) is there exactly? You say things like 'Why' did it happen. These things are truly unknown. We can speculate and even use science to help answer these questions. So far we just don't know all the answers. But science continues to discover things and this is all we can do.

On the contrary the 'God' or faith point of view seems to have no grounds at all. Why believe? I'd understand if God magically did stuff, anything. But to base your belief on nothing, except as you say it has made you 'feel' better and be helpful to others (etc)? Well atheists have that too! Not only do we have a strong respect for science (feelings involved or not), but we ALSO try to be human and loving and happy etc etc.

You could say that atheists have the best of both worlds. Facts and feelings. And all we say is a LACK (large lack) of belief in any supernatural. In my view (and an ever growing community worldwide) atheism would be the most desired option, its only natural.

:)

One more note. I was just listening to the Tom Petty's song "I won't back down" on Pandora covered by Johnny Cash. I'm sure, you heard it.

http://www.americansongwriter.com/2012/03/tom-petty-i-wont-back-down/

It's not a religious song, but it reflects very well what a religious belief is. It's not about facts. There is not a single word in the song about the facts or events that prompted it. But it's clear what it is about - it's about attitude. It's about determination to do what one considers right. It's about faith. I'd say, it's about human spirit in whatever sense you may take it. I think, atheists also have this attitude. They just won't admit that it's based on faith, not on facts.

There is nothing wrong with this attitude. We all need it to achieve anything. Even just to survive. We just have to be very careful about how we use it. It's a very powerful attitude, and it's easy to do harm with it.

Science has nothing to do with personal feelings!

This debate is fruitless. I'M TALKING ABOUT FACTS.

I have heard some religious people say its a 'feeling' or being 'touched' or a 'personal experience' even 'love'! But this is NOT how it is taught to children of the church (including adults) They are taught that if they don't take Jesus into their heart they will burn in Hell for eternity. They say this as a FACT, not a personal viewpoint on the matter. So there goes idiotic religious teachings. Quite obviously the 'religious' debate you CAN'T win, unless you are speaking of one individual who doesn't push these beliefs onto others as false truths.

As for belief (on its own). Since writing your reply, scientists (not religiousists by the way Lol) have now confirmed (fact) the Higgs boson particle. This particle is heavily linked to how matter came from the Big Bang. In other words we now know how the big bang came about at the time it happened! I hope you admire and respect this research and facts, because this one is set for the Noble prize (its a surety)

How are religious or 'believers' helping our world progress exactly? I suppose that's the difference right there. I LOVE the progression of science and how it SAVES lives and opens our eyes to the universe. I don't understand why people would want to have faith or belief in an old (VERY old) religion that does not progress (natural human aspect) and in actual fact LIES directly to people about God made the Universe (Now proven idiotic) God created Man (Nope, scientists have already proven that there was not one 'man' that we all came from) God gave man life (but this only happened 200,000 years ago. The BILLIONS of Earth years and lifeforms before 'man', they were just there for??? No answer from god on this yet!)

You are basing everything of this 'feeling' (by the way science has also researched the technical side of feelings too, hint hint they come from the brain) I feel the world is flat, so don't make a ship and sail out there or you'll just fall off the edge! Idiot.

The problem is that SCIENCE tells us the truth, even if we love it or not. It has nothing to do with how we feel, or our personal belief on life (especially incorrect for religos) Science discoveries make life easier for others, it saves lives, tells us the truth, gives us hope for the future. (oh TRUE hope)

Religion (or single belief) is the exact opposite of this. WHY would you want to destroy your life is beyond anyone of reasonable mind. The only one that promotes 'God' or any religious belief, is a fool who cannot be trusted. That's you at the moment. ITS NOT NATURAL TO BELIEVE IN GOD. I know this because MOST of the world's population presently doesn't, plus the number of atheists are growing. Why, even children are being born without belief. I know of MILLIONS of children born in the Middle East who think Jesus is make believe, and visa versa for that pathetic Prophet Muhammad.

WAKE UP

Kimsland,

It was very interesting to read your post - beginning with "Science has nothing to do with personal feelings!", with an exclamation mark at the end, proceeding to an 'unemotional' statement "I LOVE the progression of science and how it SAVES lives and opens our eyes to the universe." and ending with "WAKE UP" which reminded me of the "Awake!" at the title page of Jehova's witnesses booklet.

Just cool down and read what you wrote. Don't you think that believers have this exact feeling about their religion? They LOVE Jesus and how He SAVES lives, etc. They, as well, do not understand how people can not accept Jesus as their savior and think they need to wake up. I understand that these statements are nonsense to you. The arguments are nearly identical on both sides. None of these arguments are based on facts. They are based on personal emotional attachments.

There is nothing inherently "life saving" in science. Nuclear and chemical weapons were created by scientists, scientists built Chernobyl and science invented tons of things causing cancer and polluting the earth. Science enthusiasts ignore these "facts" and focus on the wonderful things science offers. In turn, Christians, when they think of God and Bible, think of love, mercy, and forgiveness, and forget the commandments to stone sabbath breakers and the fact that Christians killed millions of people because of their religion.

"Science has nothing to do with personal feelings!" Great. I agree. However, religion is all about personal feelings. Why are science and religion even considered to be competitors in anything? Science can explain how to get from A to B, but it will never explain why you need to get to B in the first place. You need some sort of belief to explain why you need to get to B.

From kimsland: "This debate is fruitless. I'M TALKING ABOUT FACTS." Yes. Chernobyl is a fact, isn't it? Genocide of Jews is a fact as well. Just talking about facts is as useless. Isn't it? We need a purpose first. What are we trying to achieve talking about these facts? And that purpose comes from emotions, not from facts themselves. In your case, it comes from your passion to science.

Note, I'm not arguing that religion is better than science in any way. I'm saying that religion and science are separate forms of human consciousness, both equally necessary. One provides emotional motivations and sets goals, the other provides means to achieve the goals. You need both to get anywhere. I view religion in a broad sense of belief system defining our purpose in life, not any particular doctrine. I do not see any way to derive such belief system from facts.

Kimsland: "They are taught that if they don't take Jesus into their heart they will burn in Hell for eternity. They say this as a FACT, not a personal viewpoint on the matter."

Speaking of literalism. How can anyone literally "take Jesus into their heart"? This cannot be done literally, in material sense. Everyone understands that this is taught in "spiritual" or "emotional" sense. How, then, burning in Hell can be taken literally? I'm not sure how can anyone take such teaching as a material physical fact. Perhaps, some people do. So, to me, this teaching is not a FACT, it's a belief, nothing else. You may call it idiotic, but it's your personal attitude, not a fact, as well.

From kimsland: "In other words we now know how the big bang came about at the time it happened! I hope you admire and respect this research and facts, because this one is set for the Noble prize (its a surety)"

I admire and respect this fact. Just as I admire and respect sending people to the Moon or ascending Everest. It's a great achievement of human spirit. It took years of hard work and determination to discover something which seems to have little of immediate practical value. Why do people do that? I guess, they do such things because of emotions and beliefs, not because of facts. So, we know HOW the big bang came about. Do we know WHY it came about? There are two answers: 1) for no reason; 2) for a reason. Both answers are religious beliefs.

From kimsland: "How are religious or 'believers' helping our world progress exactly?"

In different ways. Some invent laws of classical mechanics (Newton), some invent genetics (Mendel), and some discover the big bang (Lemaitre).

From kimsland: "I suppose that's the difference right there. I LOVE the progression of science and how it SAVES lives and opens our eyes to the universe. I don't understand why people would want to have faith or belief in an old (VERY old) religion that does not progress ..."

Even atheists have faith and beliefs not based on facts. That religion does not progress contradicts facts. Jews and Christians, even the most conservative, do not stone adulterers and sabbath breakers, do not sacrifice animals, allow women to speak in churches, etc. Religion does progress. May be, not as fast as science. But that might be a good thing. Should we change our moral values and beliefs that define who we are every time a new "fact" arrives?

From kimsland: "The problem is that SCIENCE tells us the truth, even if we love it or not. It has nothing to do with how we feel, or our personal belief on life (especially incorrect for religos). Science discoveries make life easier for others, it saves lives, tells us the truth, gives us hope for the future. (oh TRUE hope)"

And what do you hope for? And why? And why do you think, it's a TRUE hope and it's wrong to hope for anything else? You speak with pure emotions while claiming to discuss facts. Admit it. I'm not promoting any religious ideas. I am just making observations about human behavior.

From kimsland: "Religion (or single belief) is the exact opposite of this. WHY would you want to destroy your life is beyond anyone of reasonable mind."

What do you mean by "destroying my life"? Believers are quite sure, they are "saving their lives". Those definitions are quite subjective. Why people want to do this or do that is not a discussion based on facts. It's a discussion of beliefs.

From kimsland: "The only one that promotes 'God' or any religious belief, is a fool who cannot be trusted. That's you at the moment. ITS NOT NATURAL TO BELIEVE IN GOD. I know this because MOST of the world's population presently doesn't, plus the number of atheists are growing. Why, even children are being born without belief. I know of MILLIONS of children born in the Middle East who think Jesus is make believe, and visa versa for that pathetic Prophet Muhammad."

Kimsland, you get emotional, don't you think? I don't promote 'God' or any particular religious belief. I'm saying that most people already have these beliefs and try to point out observations why I believe so. After I read the thread on homosexuality and a documented case of homosexual necrophilia between two ducks, I gave up discussing what's "natural". I've read an interesting essay by Leo Tolstoy on relationship between religion, science, and morality. It's well written. Many points are arguable, but it's worth reading. Search for "Religion and Morality". A Reply to two questions put by the Germany Ethical Society ("Contemporary Review", March, 1894). It's available in Google books.

According to Hume and Locke, humans do not have any innate ideas or concepts at all. Everything people know or believe is learned. Ever heard of a newborn with any scientific ideas?

As for the "MOST of the world", did you check the data? Visit www.thearda.com. The only country in the world with atheists and agnostics above 50% is North Korea. I've noticed that people often think of something as a "fact" without checking the data. Strangely enough, I've noticed it in atheist forums as well.

Cassidy is quite right in her OP.

This 'data' I had to (obviously) confirm. The only data file I could find (using your site quoted) on the matter of Atheists out numbering religious people was here > http://www.thearda.com/QuickLists/QuickList_39.asp Subject: Most Atheist Nations (2005) "... according to the World Christian Database (2005)"

You may need to quote specific reference on that site to as close as 2012 as you can get. Because I have heard on ALL Atheist forums that the percentage of say US religion to atheist (or religion to no religion) is minimum 40%. Note this includes unaffiliated; Nothing in particular; Agnostic; Atheist. I also note that generally people will say 'Christian' but not actually be of ANY religion, nor conduct any religious behaviour (praying or going to church regularly) But say this only to be accepted in their own society or neighborhood.

My understanding of the MOST religious countries (US and scattered Middle Eastern areas) The US is more likely 60% (minimum) not of any religion. I certainly do NOT see the entire state of population attending churches on every single Sunday! I mean their church carpark is just not that big! On the contrary, I see most either working (all day Sunday) or enjoying the day with their immediate family and friends (All day Sunday) So I truly wonder how these people could be 'religious' in majority? The statistics don't add up correctly?

As for my 'feeling' on facts, and how you mention these are similar to feelings on belief in a supernatural. I'll quote: Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion ""The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.""

Quite obviously there are feelings of frustration and possibly anger towards religious believers. This is ONLY because the facts seem to be staring at them in the face, but 'believers' still aren't convinced. You may appreciate how irritating this is? On the other hand there is zero evidence in 'god' or any other supernatural. None. Wouldn't you have thought there would be something by now? A bright star in the sky for a couple of days? A sea parting in the middle? A mountain magically disappearing? Anything?

Yet the facts weigh up significantly for evolution and science and natural progression of our universe. I mean we have see galaxies form and planets blow up! All this universe beauty continues to happen all the time. NONE of it is a miracle!

Science AND God can be together. But as yet no god evidence not even a word from 'god' to everyone at the same time. If I were god (hypothetically speaking) I'd tell everyone I existed from the word go. I'd likely walk the streets of Earth too, performing miracles as I went. I'd especially answer questions and also cure cancer just because I care!

Your god has yet to do anything (proven) at all? Science has at least provided bundles of helpful things (and even devastating things, you'd think god would have lent a hand!) But ONLY science can set us free. At this stage, and since 'mankind' evolved.

If you can't prove god exists, then how is this any different to me spreading any other lie about 'creation'? Scientology say aliens dropped them off! They can't prove this too, plus it fully goes against our presently known understanding of evolution.

There is a big file covering all 180+ countries in the world called "Data from the ARDA National Profiles, 2011 Update: Religion Indexes, Adherents and Other Data"

http://www.thearda.com/Archive/Files/Downloads/INTL2008_DL.asp

It lists population quantities per major religion plus atheists and agnostics separately. You have to add agnostic and atheist population numbers yourself and divide by population estimate. The numbers add up to population estimate, not to census numbers. The data shows atheists+agnostics at 71% in North Korea, followed by Czech Republic at 44%. Sweden is 7th at 31%, Japan is 29th at 13%, U.S. is 31st at 13%.

Regarding your argument on church attendance, take a look at the thread "Atheism is not a lack of belief". Here is a quote from Don: "Don't you think that atheists would be the ultimate authority on what "atheism" means?" Following the same line of thought - if a person calls himself an atheist, he, probably, is. If a person calls himself a Christian, he, probably, is. Otherwise, we can enter a "no true Scotsman" discussion [rationalwiki.org/wiki/No_True_Scotsman]. Discussing "true Christianity" and "true atheism" is next on my list of useless topics to "what is natural" topic.

From kimsland; "Because I have heard on ALL Atheist forums that the percentage of say US religion to atheist (or religion to no religion) is minimum 40%."

And I've heard in ALL churches that God exists :). I think, atheism is full of myths. People believe something, post a number or an opinion on the Internet without checking, and it gets echoed and copied all over the place, without any attempts to check the source. Take the statement that the burden of proof is always on the claiming party. I work in quality control. If I use this principle with the customers who claim that our product has a defect, I would be fired very soon. For some weird reason, I need to get my butt out of my comfy chair and get into the lab to verify these claims myself. What does that have to do with religion? Yet, I got banned from an atheist forum for even questioning this statement. (Thanks, Don for bearing with me). Questioning this principle in an atheist forum is like blaspheming the Holy Ghost in a baptist church. Atheists say "burden of proof" faster than Christians say "God".

Another example "one can never prove a negative". How come? Let's test this null hypothesis against an alternative "sometimes, it is possible to prove a negative". If I say, "there are no matches in the box" or "there is no milk in the fridge", I can prove it by opening the box or the fridge. Our null hypothesis is only true for statements that are not well defined or include infinite possibilities, e.g. "there is no milk" (where? in the fridge? in the store? in the world?), but it is not true in general. Null hypothesis rejected with high significance. People repeat these phrases without understanding what they mean, like "Our Father". Some don't even know what "null hypothesis" is and whether it can be tested or falsified, and yet, they talk of "science", "evidence", and "burden of proof" with much confidence and pride thinking that they speak with ignorant idiots. This reminds me of people who refer to the Holy Trinity without giving a thought what it might possibly mean. "All believers are ignorant idiots", "religion does not change", etc. are some other examples of atheistic mythology which does not stand a simple test.

Atheists also compare God to a spaghetti monster, unicorn, and what not and then criticize believers for using "straw man arguments". I hope, I explained why I think these analogies are invalid.

From kimsland: "As for my 'feeling' on facts, and how you mention these are similar to feelings on belief in a supernatural. I'll quote: Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion ""The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.""

A good description of humanity at large, don't you think? You know why people like to observe apes? They recognize themselves. I think, that's also the reason why people are fascinated by the Bible. The Old Testament is a history of people of Israel struggling with God. It takes a shift of paradigm to recognize that we, in fact, struggle with ourselves. I see the same struggle in theists vs. atheists arguments. "It's hard for thee to kick against the pricks." - that's the phrase that allegedly converted Saul on his way to kill Christians into apostle Paul. "Pricks" or "goads", if you don't know, were sharp sticks to drive cattle. The harder the cattle kicked back, the more it hurt. That's what people do by kicking each other. They kick themselves.

From kimsland: "Quite obviously there are feelings of frustration and possibly anger towards religious believers. This is ONLY because the facts seem to be staring at them in the face, but 'believers' still aren't convinced. You may appreciate how irritating this is? On the other hand there is zero evidence in 'god' or any other supernatural. None. Wouldn't you have thought there would be something by now? A bright star in the sky for a couple of days? A sea parting in the middle? A mountain magically disappearing? Anything? "

Can you scientifically explain why you feel anger? Does science offer any advice on how to handle it? Wouldn't you agree that anger and frustration are not good emotions to have? They don't make anyone happier and are precursors to hatred and worse, aren't they? Incidentally, Bible has tons of passages on anger, frustration, pride, and other "spiritual" issues. Yes, I know how frustrating and irrational people can be. I have a wife, 3 sons, and a job of quality manager handling customer returns. For some time, I was focusing on how irritating these behaviors are. Then I read the Bible and realized that "I'm kicking against the pricks" (i.e. causing pain to myself). I tried forgiveness, humility and "do not judge" principle. I didn't hear angels singing, but I noticed that people became more pleasant and not so irritating (for real, not just in my mind). I realized that it's easier to make myself believe in sea parting (or a defect on a perfectly good product) than argue with an angry customer or wife. And it's more effective too. This attitude does perform miracles. That's how I test the Bible. I think, that's how many (I will not speak for all) believers view the "life saving" power of the Bible. It's a mental process. If I waited for a sea parting, I would be sitting there frustrated and angry. (That goes for other life situations too). Sometimes, we need a little faith in things that are not immediately obvious to us or other people and do not make sense at the first glance. Don't you think? I hope, you did not shed too many tears reading my life-changing story :).

From kimsland: "Strictly speaking you can believe in whatever you like... And how is this any different from believing in a flying spaghetti monster in the sky? (the standard youtube videos as well, that I'm sure you must have seen) "

Atheists keep comparing belief in God to belief in FSM, IPU, orbiting teapots, fairies, and what not. Read William James "The Will to Believe" http://ajburger.homestead.com/files/book.htm#will. I don't agree with James in everything, but I agree in this:

"... there is some believing tendency wherever there is willingness to act at all." This means that hypotheses which have no practical implications are not even considered as candidates for a serious belief. People only express beliefs or disbeliefs on matters which might cause them to act a certain way. It happens that religious ideas cause people to act a certain way, whereas beliefs in FSM do not.

Belief does not make anything true. But it changes our behavior and our attitude. If we think such change is good for whatever reason, belief is justified. Isn't it? If you think of it, such belief is not mindless. I still must understand what is good and what is bad and why. Especially in Christianity, there are lots of things that go against common sense and are not easy to accept: like "love your enemy" and "turn another cheek". It takes a lot of thinking and self-digging to understand why these commands are good and true and what they practically mean.

Thanks AG.

Oh I see. Hmm there goes that analogy. Ok, I'll keep to the point and just say that their belief itself seems ludicrous, thanks for that. Actually this behaviour and attitude spinoff will be difficult to let go of I see that now. Its not just faith, its a way of life!

Ok, so which sport or recreation activity or social environment will provide the same affect without foolish belief? It would have to be something childish and dependent of course. I'll have to think of something there if I want to help others to open their eyes.

Strangely I'd always thought it was just a 'gathering', but it seems to be more personal attitude. Wow this thing is like cancer to beat it takes A LOT of effort.

From kimsland: "Ok, so which sport or recreation activity or social environment will provide the same affect without foolish belief?"

You would need some sort of a foolish belief to explain why you want to join the activity :).

From kimsland: "I'll have to think of something there if I want to help others to open their eyes."

Why do you think your eyes are open and "others eyes" are closed? The others may have an opposite opinion. Shouldn't we worry about our own eyes first?

From kimsland: "Strangely I'd always thought it was just a 'gathering', but it seems to be more personal attitude. Wow this thing is like cancer to beat it takes A LOT of effort."

You seem to admit that you misunderstood the whole phenomenon of religion. May be, before declaring it "a cancer", we should first understand what it really is. And isn't your statement "a personal attitude" as well?

Cassidy, thanks for the post. It's exactly this "militant atheism" proselytized by Dawkins with his negativism (to say the least) to faith which painfully reminds the antisemitic slogans of the early Christians which atheists so like to quote.

From Linda in "on 'religion causes harm'" 325 First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea - the Christian Church separates Easter from Passover: "We desire, dearest brethren, to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews". It all started from disrespect and ignorance of beliefs and traditions of others.

You are exactly right. Christianity opens eyes and allows us to see ourselves in what we hate and what we hate in ourselves. Those "love your enemy" and "do not judge" commandments are some of the wisest and most practical things I've read.

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