Evidence of God from Christians questionable

December 26, 2012

zJustin says:

I’m an atheist myself and I’m not presenting any doubts about my atheism with this question but I seem to have trouble with trying to get evidence from theists who want to try to convince me that God exists.

I was talking with a very fine gentleman, who is my neighbor and a strong believer in Christ and God. He asked me why I don’t believe and as is the standard reply there is not enough evidence to prove the existence of God. I told him I am a person of science and logic, and I need proof in the form of hard, observable evidence.

So he is convinced one form of evidence is that we each have an unseeable spirit and soul within us, and since it is only God that can create us with a spirit inside, God must exist. And his supporting arguments for this spirit, hence God are various documented miracles witnessed. We didn’t have time to go into detail about it but he quickly explained something about a woman without a womb giving birth to a child.

So anyway the problem I have really revolves around how “miracles,” that may have been observed and apparently interpreted as such, actually specifically prove the Christian god? I asked for hard evidence, something explainable; scientific but Christians keep citing observations that are in themselves miraculous events.

I mean if the event is currently unexplained by science, how do we know Allah or Shiva didn’t do it? Or perhaps there was a sorcerer or leprechaun in the room. Miracles, or for that matter anything that seems amazing or incredible are lousy at proving god. But I need a way to explain that to Christians. But at the same time I’m having a hard time figuring out what exactly good evidence, that’s not miraculous or magical but could prove god if we found it, might look like.

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Proof that there is no god?

June 2, 2012

Paul S says:

A definitive proof there is no god.

Such claims have been made. But fail do to the fact one cannot logically prove negative.

Now if one was to show that there is something else other than a god to account for everything, that could be such a proof.

Now on the premise that there is in fact no god. That should indeed be possible prove that there is something else other than a god, I would think.

To show this is the case, let’s look at the question, “Does God exist?”

The question presumes existence. And does not presume a god.

Existence is here. And existence is in evidence. God in the question is not. The point being existence exists without the need for any kind pf a god. Existence is the only self existence entity. And not in need of any kind of a god.

Now there not being any kind of a god. The universe exists as it is now. All the theist arguments which may convince many there is a god. Are still false, there not being any.

Furthermore can any theist show this premise that there is no god to be an absurd premise, being that there is no god?

Paul S.
a professed Christian.


Why Another Discussion About Evolution?

February 19, 2012

There are far fewer discussions these days about the validity of evolution than there were just a few years ago, and for good reason. For the most part, evolution is accepted by theists and atheists alike. Albeit theists add that evolution must have been guided by the Divine hand, even if the guidance was apparently through the natural processes that we can observe.  That’s an interesting discussion too, but not the one I’m attempting to target here.

The question about evolution is still very relevant to some whose conservative interpretation of their sacred writings (the Bible, the Qur’an, the Tanakh, etc) is at odds with it.  This post isn’t my attempt to put forth any new evidence or arguments – that would take more moxy than I’m able to muster!  It’s not even an attempt to put forth an exhaustive case for evolution – still too much moxy!  The purpose of this post is to provide those who object to the theory of evolution with a ready forum in which to explore the topic, in the context of the other discussions on this blog that they might be participating in.

We can observe the mechanisms of evolution first hand. For example we can observe the causes of genetic mutation, like copy errors during reproduction, and external influences like radiation, and interaction with external chemicals. We can also see how the mutations are directly related to new traits – in many cases we can trace a specific trait to a specific set of genes.

We can see natural selection in action. Natural selection happens when organisms interact with their environment. Traits that are beneficial in a certain environment give the organism a reproductive advantage. Conversely, traits that are detrimental can hinder reproduction.  Shifts in the environment can change which traits are advantageous and which traits are detrimental.  Thus detrimental traits in one environment can become advantageous traits in another. Organisms with advantageous traits are more likely to generate more offspring, thus the trait becomes predominant.

There are hardly any believers left who object to “micro-evolution”. Virtually all believers now accept that “micro-evolution” occurs. The objection is to so-called “macro-evolution”.  The terms “micro-evolution” and “macro-evolution” are differences without any real distinction – they are folk concepts rather than biological concepts.  There is however a biological concept of “speciation”. Speciation can occur when members of the same species become isolated into distinct colonies. This often happens when colonies migrate and become separated by geographical distance, or by newly formed features in the geography – like bodies of water, mountain ranges, or climate shifts.  The isolated colonies evolve independently over time, each accumulating it’s own unique set of mutations.  Over time, the drift in genetic makeup of the isolated colonies can be substantial enough so that individuals from one colony are no longer capable of producing fertile offspring with mates from the other colony.  Once this happens, the colonies are said to be different species.  Since the colonies are no longer able to share genetic traits, they can’t re-converge. From this point forward, the individual colonies, now separate species, continue to evolve independently.  As a result, their traits continue to diverge to the point where we would recognize them as different species by casual observation – they “look different”. You might think of this as “macro-evolution”.  Speciation has been observed first hand in various living plants, flies, worms, and other organisms. And of course we find countless examples of speciation in the fossil record.

We use independent means to observe that evolution has occurred over time. We can deduce a family tree (a model of ancestral relationship) based on the morphology and age of the vast number of species that are preserved in the fossil record – some quarter of a million or so species that are represented by countless individual organisms.  We can also deduce a family tree by looking at DNA of living species, to determine how close one species’ genetic sequence is to another.  For example, chimpanzee DNA is much closer to human DNA than to fruit fly DNA. Therefore chimpanzees and humans are more closely related than either humans and fruit flies, or than chimpanzees and fruit flies.  These completely independent methods of observing our evolutionary past yield virtually the same family tree.

Evolution provides an excellent explanation for the progression of single-celled organism, to cell colonies, to simple multi-celled organisms, to the more complex organisms (including us!) that we can observe today.

How can a belief in the supernatural evolve?  Is belief in the supernatural somehow a beneficial trait?  And if not, does our belief in the supernatural suggest something more to us humans than can be explained by evolution?

We humans (and some other animals to a lesser degree) have evolved the ability to think abstractly.  This enables us, among other things, to predict outcomes of hypothetical scenarios in our minds, rather than being forced to learn everything by trial an error through our physical actions.  This has clear evolutionary advantages.  This same abstract thought forms the basis for complex thinking and verbal communication – also very advantageous.

Along with abstract thought, we (and most other animals) have evolved the ability to distinguish between living organisms and inanimate objects. That is, we can tell the difference between agents, like a butterfly in our garden, and non-agents like a feather floating erratically in the breeze.  However like anything in nature, this ability is not perfect.  Sometimes we mistake agents for non-agents (we don’t recognize the panther stealing stealthily across the grassland), or we mistake non-agents for agents (a shirt hanging in a dark closet looks just like a ghost!).  From an evolutionary standpoint, it’s better to err on the side of mistaking a non-agent for an agent (don’t take any chances – that could be a predator and we might be its lunch!) than to err by mistaking an agent for a non-agent (we missed lunch because we didn’t recognize the pray).  We’ve evolved to err on the side of “seeing ghosts” than to err on the side of “getting eaten”.

Seeing “ghosts” and thinking abstractly about “what a ghost is and where ghosts come from” are a few examples of the kinds of things at the root of belief in the supernatural. We sense something that feels like it’s really there, but we can verify that it is not really there.  We then conclude that things that aren’t physical can exist (that is, we tend not to doubt the accuracy of our feelings).

Belief in the existence of abstract, unseen agents evolves through reasoning, to become beliefs in things like animal spirits. We assume that the unseen agents have a familiar origin, like agents we can see – people and animals. The belief evolves into ancestral gods when we reason that our ancestors were with us when they were alive (when we could see them), so they must still be with us now since they are still alive, but we just can’t see them. And if they are with us, they must still take care of us like they did when we could see them. If they take care of us, it means they can still make things happen – they have power to affect change in the environment. Abstract concepts of celestial gods proceed from there. This, combined with our reasoning that everything has an origin, becomes belief in creator gods.

Not every persistent trait is advantageous. Take male breasts for example.  Some traits are simply byproducts of advantageous traits, like female breasts for example.  Similarly, belief in the supernatural might be a by product of erroneous agency detection, coupled with the ability to think abstractly about “ghost” agents.  Though it could be merely a byproduct, I think belief in the supernatural actually is beneficial.  Tribes that are more organized around authority can dominate tribes that are less organized.  Belief in gods is a ready source of authority – both in terms of the belief about what the gods might require of us (we seek to appease authorities or to perhaps gain favor from them), and also in terms of the authority that self-appointed spiritual leaders claim to have – spiritual leaders claim first-hand knowledge of the gods and what the gods want: “The gods want you to put yourself in harms way to protect our village! Disobey them and the gods will kill you!”

Theists who don’t accept evolution because it conflicts with their theistic beliefs, won’t particularly like these conclusions.  That’s expected and understandable.  Shouldn’t we accept any conclusions that are most strongly supported by the evidence, even if we don’t particularly like the conclusions?  My challenge to you is this: while you examine the evidence that underpins evolutionary theory, and while you look for ways to refute the theory (Refuting a theory is a good thing by the way! Science is based in falsifying theories and cannot stand without it!), be resolved to accept whatever your reasoning suggests is the truth.


The incomprehensible and Atheist thought

February 18, 2012

Kurt says:

For many of us, the definition of an Atheist is one who does not believe in the existence of a God. To discuss this further then one must agree to a benchmark Atheist definition of what does the word God mean? Is God a higher power, a supernatural force, or as described by the two main western religions; Christianity & Judaism.

NASA’s Kepler Mission is searching for planetary systems throughout our Galaxy. Based upon all of the Initial research of the Kepler Mission scientists now believe our Galaxy contains more planets than it does stars! That means there should be no less than one trillion stars and five trillion planets. Of all those five trillion planets most scientists believe that no less than 5% will be in a Goldy Lox Zone! That would equal 250 Billion Planets. Of those 250 Billion conservatively 5% would harbor life. Of the 12.5 Billion which harbor life it is estimated that no less than 1% (125 Million) will have intelligent life forms and of these 125 million planets it is now believed that at least 1% or 1.25 million planets within our galaxy harbor intelligent life which is vastly more evolved than our comprehension. In other words life or entities with incomprehensible higher powers.


Do Atheists Judge God’s Morality?

December 6, 2011

Mike Johnson asks:

Question for discussion: If morality is exclusively human in origin and relevance, why do we judge the God of the Bible with it?

Explained:

On the premise that human moral values and obligations are a product of human evolution, they would necessarily only apply to human beings and useful in governing and judging human behavior, and would be subject to change and further “evolve” over time.

Many atheists object to what they conclude are “immoral” acts committed by God described in the Bible, i.e. murder, commanding genocide, incest, slavery, etc.

How can morality that only applies to contemporary humans be used to make moral judgments against a hypothetical Creator God, who, if He existed, would not be bound to moral laws from human conceptualization, based on descriptions of immoral acts that the Bible portrays as occurring thousands of years ago? Doesn’t this show that even the atheist who would make such objections holds that morality is universal and absolute regardless of time, place or person, thereby placing the origin of moral values and obligations somewhere outside the scope of human convention?


A Solitary Atheist

October 26, 2011

An anonymous poster asks:

I am a new atheist, but I am having a hard time feeling isolated because all my family and friends are fundamental christians. My partner was “concerned” about my belief in Jesus and told me that if I don’t believe in Jesus I will be going to hell. I don’t want to have my children keep being indocrinated but I know I don’t have any support to stop that. I feel enlighted in my understanding about life now but so alone otherwise.


Jesus Couldn’t Have Died for Original Sin

August 14, 2011

Christianity tells us that we are all sinners and doomed to Hell, unless we accept Jesus as our Savior.  The reason we are doomed is that we are all sinners. The Apostle Paul says in Rom 5:12:

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

The reason that we are all sinners is that we “inherit” the “Original Sin” of Adam.  As sinners we deserve death.  Only Jesus’ death could atone for Original Sin.

Right?

That puts Christians in an awkward position.

Christians have to hold that there really was an Adam and Eve and a talking Serpent in the Garden of Eden.  They have to accept the creation story of Genesis. Most Christians have abandoned this position in favor of concepts like “divinely guided evolution”.  A few Christians still argue in favor of creation a la Genesis but the arguments have been exposed over and over as baseless dogma and have rapidly lost traction among all but the most fundamentalist of Christians.

Or, Christians can accept evolution, even if they qualify it as divinely guided evolution.  Then there was no Adam in a garden with Trees of Life and Knowledge.  If there is no Adam, there is no Original Sin.  There is only our nature (is it sinful?).  And our nature is the product of evolution (is it divinely guided?).  If there is no Original Sin, then why did Jesus die?


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