First I want to thank you for your time in this, and I want to compliment you on your genuine effort, and your honesty. You’re not as slippery as some I’ve debated- you ignore my better points (hey, who wouldn’t?), but you do play along too and I appreciate that. Also, you genuinely believe what you’re putting forth- many people would be happy to sit back. Even though I think your point of view is wrong, I think it’s good that you fight for it, if that makes any sense. I learned from this debate too… the question of entropy has bugged me a bit for years… not the religious aspect of it, but “if things are supposed to tend toward disorder, why is there order?” I figured there was a reason, I researched it a bit in the course of this debate, and I’m glad I learned about it. Here’s the key thing I found, if interested. You should find it enlightening.
Now with all that said- you have made no case for morality stemming from the Bible (in fact you proved the opposite), and you’ve made no case for God existing. Your evidence is so weak that you’re belief can only be based on faith- if not faith in God, then faith in the weak evidence. For you belief in God is a priori, you said as much, you said you couldn’t possibly change your mind. I can and I believe has lead me to the truth. You’ve absolutely succeeded in proving that you believe in God, but it’s to your detriment that it’s a belief based on faith- in other words, an irrational belief. I think that you’d agree it’s irrational when you get a quiet moment to reflect, because faith is by definition irrational (the opposite of reason/proof) and you see faith as a virtue.
If you only take away one thing from this debate, let it be this- faith is belief without evidence, and belief without evidence is no way to gain actual knowledge of the world. Anytime you need to have faith in something, it is because you know you cannot prove it.
I do like to be provocative with my posts, and I invite the debate that follows (obviously.) I’m never provocative for the sake of being provocative though. I welcome the opportunity to justify what I post (the depth of which depends on my available time.) That said, I’m glad the original post resonated with you, and I hope some of my other points did as well.
Why do I bother with this? I think religion is a net harm to the world. People do gain from it- sense of community, makes it easier to deal with grief and injustice, provides meaning, etc- but none of that means it’s true at its core. Actual lives can be helped by stem cell research. Opposition to medical marijuana is often the result of politicians pandering to their religious base. Euthanasia helps people die with dignity- Christians often like to force non-Christians to partake in the glory of Christ’s suffering, which in itself could be considered a form of torture. Abuse of animals and the environment is often religious in nature- many Christians believe they were given to us by God to do with as we will. And do we need to get into how religion has inhibited equality since day 1? Look how some Jews treat the Palestinians, and look how some Palestinians treat the Jews. Look how women have been treated historically. Look how people have used Bible quotes to support slavery. Look how the Bible is used in present day to promote inequality in a variety of forms. Etc, etc, etc. And why is all of this happening- because people accept its truth on faith.
The Bible never contradicts itself? OOF. There’re just so many example if you’re open to them. Take the fact that light was created before the stars. Almost seems like they didn’t realize the science behind light when they wrote it. A minor example. I’m not spending more time on it though… there are just so many.
I don’t think you ever got my point about Krauss’s suggestions about the universe. Your point is “it could only be God.” His point is, there are other plausible, possible explanations that have scientific support… not proof, but support. The book destroyed the notion that it could only be God. God is not the default. It’s there if you want to read it.
Imagine an old woman hands you an object, you go back in time and hand the object back to her as a child. She grows up and gives it to you again. Was this object created by God? Was it created or did it always exist? Let’s admit we don’t know some things, and our lack of knowledge does not equal extra proof for God… unless you believe in the God of the Gaps, where the more we learn the smaller God becomes.
You asked, “where are the in between lungs and wings?” They exist and it’s just so freaking simple! There are fish that can exist on land for a bit until they find another stream, and there are tree lizards with skin flaps they help them glide a bit. These answers all exist… but you aren’t looking for them. The question is not, what am I running from? The question is, why don’t you open your eyes?
If you decide you want to, watch the whole Cosmos episode on evolution. What do you have to lose, an hour? (Or your whole identity? Haha.) If nothing else, you’ll better understand what you’re fighting against.
You said we can never know if flourishing will come from a decision. I agree, but all we can do is make the best decision possible… based of the evidence. There is simply nothing else. There would have been righteous mass outrage if the judgment of the Nuremburg Trials was, “these people shall go free because we simply don’t know if they will get into cloning and bring back more Jews than they’ve killed.” Why? Again-evidence. It’s all we have.
You never touched on what I said about the creator needing a creator. Remember when I put those words in your mouth?
You- Everything needs a creator.
Me- Then what created the creator?
You- The creator doesn’t need a creator.
Me- If something exists that doesn’t need a creator that thing could simply be what you take to be the creation, right? Does that make logical sense?
Where did my logic break down? The better question though is this- do you care about logic? You certainly would if logic proved that God existed! It would be all your side would talk about. But that’s not the case.
You would expect that if prayer worked, the statistical results would be alarming, say for instance that results showed that people who are prayed for recover more quickly that those who aren’t. The only thing that could be seen as alarming about the positive results is that that they simply don’t exist. Really take that in… statistics should be able to prove that prayer works. There aren’t even statistically significant peer-reviewed results, they should be off the charts to the positive side. Why would God want to be hidden, at the expense of people’s health???
Your evidence of Biblical archaeology, oh goodness… check your sources next time. Wikipedia refers to Ron Wyatt as a pseudoarchaeologist whose findings have been debunked by scientists. But what about biblical scholars, and his own church? Yes, they debunked it too. Why are you the only one who is left?
If you consider the fact that Jesus’s supposed miracles were written about, oftentimes hundreds of years later, constitutes proof that they were real…then when you play Whisper Down the Lane I suppose you believe the first person actually started with “pterodactyl dishwater pig jowl hightops.”
I hate to even have to say it, but your herniated disc miracle is the lowest threshold for a miracle I can imagine. The doctors told you it could mend on its own in three months…but it took four. Certainly some mend in four months! A miracle is something with no natural explanation. You think a miracle is something that is only moderately unlikely. Moderately unlikely things can be expected to happen all day every day because so many things happen to us.
This got me thinking, if THAT is your threshold for proof of a miracle, of course you see proofs and miracles everywhere. What have we even been talking about this whole time??? Everything you are saying rests on these definitions and they don’t come from any regular dictionary. On top of that you define good as god, and god as good. You say- if A, then B… then use your belief in B as proof of A. But A was the assumption. I don’t know, maybe it’s me, I just can’t follow. Assume my definitions come from any regular dictionary.
In your rebuttal, consider defining your terms- proof, miracle, god, good. I believe any discerning reader will recognize the house of cards you set up for yourself.
You didn’t answer the microorganism question- if God is good why did he create certain microorganisms whose sole purpose is to rot out the eyes of children? You believe God is all-powerful, just and good, but he created this microorganism to punish children for something someone else did a long time ago. I can think of a few more words to describe him- vindictive, petty, irrational…evil. Explain the goodness that results from rotting out children’s eyes. It makes no sense.
If you really believe this is good, go blind some kid because his grandma did something bad. If God sets a good example, follow him! Actually don’t do that… instead, recognize that your own morality and kindness are what keep you from acting like your moral hero (who is actually a celestial psychopath.)
(Is anybody else reading this??? Hello??? Haha, didn’t think so.)
You ask how I can’t look into my brand new daughter’s face and know that God is good. I look into it and see beauty, and wonder why a just god would let other children die when he has the power to stop it. I actually don’t wonder that at all… I just wonder how people can believe it. Absurd on the surface. I look in my child’s face and see that we are risen apes, not fallen angels. (Look back into the earliest stages of development and you’ll see a lizard!) You know what else one could think of when they look into their child’s face- how could god ask me to kill you??? Which of course brings me to…
THE STORY OF ABRAHAM! You went into great detail explaining the story of Abraham but you still didn’t answer my question! You said you would not kill your child if god told you to (again, you’re not a lunatic, nice work!) because you would know it’s not god and god would command you to do something evil. But god did do this- which proves that you do not get your morals from him. (And it also proves you think he is capable of evil.) This just simply wasn’t dealt with in a reasonable way in your argument… it seemed like you drew out his story as a cover for the fact you have no defense. I can only ask this one last time- can you outline how you reconcile these contradictory facts? (Oh forget it, I’ve already asked maybe 5 times, I’ve lost hope that you’re going to address it…)
The trinity/sacrifice/salvation thing… it still just seems like utter nonsense. It still seems like god is sacrificing himself (his son, which is him), to himself, to save us from himself (his judgment). Either way, he could wipe out evil, unless his powers are limited. Let’s never forget that he supposedly created the world with knowledge that this exact scenario would unfold. If he wants to forgive us, he has the power to simply forgive us… why go through all of the rigmarole??? It’s as if I wanted to forgive someone from breaking into my car so I set up a Rube Goldberg machine to squirt toothpaste on a toothbrush, and upon the completion the person is forgiven. It’s a story of non-sequiturs. I can just forgive the person, and God could too! And we can’t forget that there’s no proof for any of this either. I mean it’s all just so ridiculous!
You said people can come back from death. Again, the proof is as flimsy as the rest. You asked me to prove we can’t. I’m not saying I have proof it’s impossible, I’m saying there’s no proof that you can. If you put forth an extraordinary claim, you must put forth extraordinary evidence. If you put forth something with no evidence, I’ll dismiss it with no evidence. If you put forth something, justify it. Why is it my job to prove the opposite of any ridiculous notion? That’s why there’s no need for me to prove that God is not actually a cricket living in the core of Pluto. If someone claims he is, they should prove it.
Many people think an atheist is someone who thinks they have proof that god doesn’t exist. Instead, generally, they are people who recognizes that no acceptable proof has been put forward.
But let’s get back to what started off this whole thing. Join me in a thought experiment, and let me know the answer in your final statement, if you wish- if God ceased to exist tomorrow, would rape and slavery still be wrong? The answer can only be yes. I think you’ll skirt this and that you’re honest answer would be an exercise in doublethink.
Thought 1: Of course they would still be wrong.
Thought 2: I can’t consider that hypothetical as a possibility so I’ll say it’s impossible.
Let’s just admit rape and slavery are wrong if God exists today, and also if he doesn’t exist tomorrow. Why? Because neither lead to human flourishing! Of that there can be no doubt.
I think there are two types of people in the world- those who will consider hypotheticals and those who won’t. Are you willing to accept the challenge of that thought experiment? Your honest answer will prove Krauss’s original thought valid. How could someone who considers a hypothetical know LESS about the world? What if I don’t stop to pee at this rest stop? Should I spend all of my money on heroin? Would I kill Jason Voorhees if he broke into my house, or would I wait to see if he was just stopping in to give me his winning lottery ticket? We use hypotheticals all day every day- but when religion becomes involved suddenly it becomes forbidden. This makes no sense and should be a warning to anybody else listening. It should raise your cognitive dissonance through the roof too. If I were to refuse to consider that hypothetical, I’d never be able to shake it- “Why won’t I consider it? Why won’t I consider it? Etc.”
During this whole debate have you considered that hypothetical Krauss proposed- what if God told you to do something bad? The answer is YES, and that’s when you made the most sense. You said that if God told you to kill your child you’d know that it was not God. (You started out refusing the hypothetical, saying that god and goodness were equal… even if that is so, the hypothetical can still be considered.) What followed was that I pointed out that God DID tell someone to kill his child, so it follows that either that was not God, or God is not good. Consider if a person told you kill your child. You’d know the person was a lunatic. Extend that belief to God. I’d prefer a non-existent God to a lunatic God! An all-powerful being telling a father to kill his child… that is psychopathic behavior. Admit this. It follows from hypothetical thinking.
These types of moral questions are hard-wired in us, because we’ve evolved in groups. Those with no interpersonal relationship skills tend to get weeded out. Who wants to hang out with them? We have empathy and can act altruistically. And not just us, animals too. Google “examples of animal empathy and altruism.” Animals who live in groups know that they need to act in the interest of the group if they want to be accepted, and propagate. This is the basis for moral behavior. Did the animals need the Bible to learn this? I don’t see how this doesn’t pass the smell test to you.
You keep coming back to questions of the form, “Can a nuclear bomb create the Mona Lisa?” Did God? No, a person did. Can a nuclear bomb blow up a tree and create a pack of toothpicks? No, but a toothpick factory can produce one. Could a nuclear bomb have made my sandwich? No, I did. I’ve expended energy that I’ve received from eating food that was grown by the sun, and with that energy I’ve created order. You’ve made the mistake of considering the Earth a closed system but we get energy from the sun. There’s no way for you to not concede this point.
Now since the energy of our system is not closed, you can also agree that wolves evolved into dogs over a few millennium, or “adapted” if you prefer. You can agree that more and more order came to the eye, which started as just a spot that could detect light vs dark. How did that emerge to begin with? Don’t know, maybe a fluke that ended up being useful. Our fingers originally came about because we needed to hold onto the hair of our great-great-grandmonkey’s back hair. Now we can use them to express irritation while driving. Things just happen, and adaptations that work end up sticking around, because the individuals without the adaptation tend to die. (Not that I’d die if I couldn’t give the finger, but I might if I couldn’t see as well.) When the DNA becomes too different, species can no longer have children. Even members within a species have different DNA, except twins. Again, this is all confirmed by rigorous experimentation across a variety of fields. And again, after Darwin, if they found rabbit bones in the pre-Cambrian his theory was over. Or any of a million other possibilities. But no, it all correlates- there are no counter-examples, and science (unlike religion) leaves itself open for them.
Seriously, look up “eye evolution cosmos” on you tube. You should be enlightened by it. Even if you don’t agree, you will know more than you did before you watched it. Only a few minutes. Here, I’ll look it up for you:
I pointed out the illogic again of demanding more in between stages… for each one we find, you’d demand two more! You can drop that requirement from your repertoire.
Not to rely on authority, but it’s hard to go wrong when you quote Einstein on this topic- "A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hopes of reward after death."
Let me take a wild step back and agree that there’s something to religion, but the thing that is genuine is represented is the human psyche- through all cultures and religions. For instance- all religions and cultures have a form of the golden rule. If we take the best of all religions and combine them- what we essentially have is a blueprint for the humanist code of ethics- a code of ethics that does not need to accepted on faith. Look for any list online and they all generally coalesce around the principle of acting in a way that leads to human flourishing. Can’t be stressed enough- if those of us who learned to act this way are the ones who tended to survive, God is unnecessary in the moral equation.
I’ll go even further and say that historically, religions that can’t adapt have died… that’s kind of true on the surface! I think that’s well underway. People deserve to be treated with kindness for its own sake, not because of a commandment. (By the way, that would have been a great commandment- treat people with kindness. Much better than… oh, say, do not make a graven image.)
Not only WILL they die, but they deserve to die. I congratulate today’s Christians who eat shellfish. It’s strictly forbidden in the Bible. Seriously though, google the rules for rape and slavery in the Bible. I can barely think of a worse moral guide, I’m not even kidding. They are universally condemned despite the Bible, not because of it. Why? Again, people are generally hard-wired to put human flourishing above their holy books. A notable exception- ISIS, another example of misplaced faith.
Religions need to adapt by recognizing themselves as metaphors for the needs of the human psyche. Take transubstantiation- the Pope will not admit that the wine becoming the blood of Christ is a metaphor. They do indeed mean it literally. Ridiculous, right??? Yes, of course. But I look at all religious rituals and beliefs that way- they are all a metaphor for something, but then people end up suffering because they take the metaphor literally. Real quick, for the case of transubstantiation- Jesus represents goodness (among other stuff), his blood represents his essence, drinking it symbolizes communion, or becoming one with Jesus’ essence. The Pope does believe it actually becomes the blood of Christ which is absurd, but as a ritual I get it.
To me, the person who makes the most sense on this topic is Joseph Campbell, the world’s leading scholar on mythology until his death in the 1980’s. He was a mentor of George Lucas, and Campbell’s archetypes are seen all through Star Wars… and indeed through all religions, literature, art, Native American legends, etc. I always wondered why I was so into Star Wars, and then my last semester in college someone told me I should watch The Power of Myth, 6 one-hour conversations between Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers. It blew me away- it gave voice to things I always thought but couldn’t verbalize. I couldn’t suggest it more highly. You can borrow it from any library.
I do enjoy the opportunity to clarify by beliefs in print. It was Vonnegut who said “If you can't write clearly, you probably don't think nearly as well as you think you do.” If nothing else, hopefully I’ve convinced you that I can think clearly.
If you do believe I think clearly, please heed my warning to not fall victim to the sharpshooter fallacy… it’s all through your thinking. (Again, you shoot the side of the barn, paint a bullseye around the hole, the next person walks up and says “wow, nice shot.”) You’re the guy saying nice shot. I look at my book shelves, and I wonder how many possible arrangements there could have been of all the books. You say “wow, what are the odds that it would be arranged exactly like this?” But the crucial thing is that you look in wonder AFTER THE FACT. After my books are arranged that way, the probability is 1/1 that they are arranged that way. You might look at your children and imagine the long line of ancestors that contributed to their DNA, and you think “wow, the odds are just too great for THIS person to exist without a divine plan. The fact is that A child would exist, and you’re painting the bullseye after the fact. You’re doing that with the entire universe. What are the odds that the universe is exactly as it is, right now… the odds by definition are 1/1. What are the odds that the shooter hit the bullseye… always 1/1 if you paint the bullseye afterward. You consistently fall victim to the sharpshooter fallacy.
Since this started with a Krauss quote, seems fitting to end it with one. “The universe is the way it is, whether we like it or not. The existence or nonexistence of a creator is independent of our desires. A world without God or purpose may seem harsh or pointless, but that alone doesn’t require God to actually exist. …science does not make it impossible to believe in God, but rather makes it possible to not believe in God. Without science, everything is a miracle. With science, there remains the possibility that nothing is. Religious belief in this case becomes less and less necessary, and also less and less relevant.”
Well put, as always.
And jeez, after the fact I came across this:
He said everything more clearly, concisely, and precisely than I could have… and addresses the issue of “why focus on this?”
You get the last word.