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Books Space Science

Hawking Picks Physics Over God For Big Bang 1328

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the there-is-no-god dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Guardian reports that in his new book, The Grand Design, Professor Stephen Hawking argues that the Big Bang, rather than occurring following the intervention of a divine being, was inevitable due to the law of gravity. 'Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist,' Hawking writes. 'It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.' Hawking had previously appeared to accept the role of God in the creation of the universe. Writing in his bestseller A Brief History Of Time in 1988, Hawking wrote: 'If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we should know the mind of God.'"
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Hawking Picks Physics Over God For Big Bang

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  • by neiltrodden (981196) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @07:58AM (#33448304)
    Well who created the all-mighty then?
  • by Winckle (870180) <mark@NosPaM.winckle.co.uk> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @07:58AM (#33448318) Homepage

    Still room for the old logical fallacy there. If God created gravity, then who created God? Most theists then state that God was always there, but then it's easier to simply say that gravity was always there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @07:59AM (#33448330)

    Listen, you don't just randomly use "whom" as a sort of intelligent version of "who", you pretentious jackass.

  • by corbettw (214229) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `wttebroc'> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:01AM (#33448350) Journal

    He's publicly stated a belief in an invisible sky wizard, improper use of "who" and "whom" is the least of bit of evidence pointing to a lack of intelligence.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:01AM (#33448354)

    Who created this law of things can only exist if it first have to go through the process of creation then?

  • well duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:02AM (#33448360) Homepage Journal

    You could have just said "Hawking Picks Rational Thinking Over Superstition"

    .
  • by genner (694963) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:03AM (#33448376)

    Still room for the old logical fallacy there. If God created gravity, then who created God? Most theists then state that God was always there, but then it's easier to simply say that gravity was always there.

    It's easier to ignore the whole debate and watch TV. This doesn't mean that's the correct decision.

  • The true believer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:04AM (#33448390)

    A true believer will just argue that God designed gravity that way for that very reason.

    Personally, I think scientists should stay completely out of the religious sphere. They're not going to change anyone's mind, science and religion mix very badly, and commenting on theological issues only increases the perception among many religious types that science is their enemy/competitor.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:06AM (#33448412)

    And is everywhere...

  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:07AM (#33448428) Homepage Journal

    Personally, I think scientists should stay completely out of the religious sphere. They're not going to change anyone's mind, science and religion mix very badly

    True enough, but the religious folks think it's OK to warp science to fit into their primitive belief systems.

    Just look at the Creationist nonsense going on in US schools. This is 2010?!
  • God, god, god.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by courteaudotbiz (1191083) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:08AM (#33448438) Homepage
    When I have an empirical proof that god exists, I will believe. For the moment, I have empirical proof that gravity exists, and Hawking simply extrapolated the laws of physics to the extreme, then came up with the big bang theory, and the theory still holds today.

    No theist theory holds. It's all there to explain what we can't understand. And when we get to understand, we say "well, you know, God may have played a role anyway"...

    But try to convince 90% of the human race that what I say is true. I may have a hard time.
  • by 5865 (104259) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:08AM (#33448452)

    Oh, summarize and bring the argument here please. I can't even be bothered to follow the link to RTFA. What makes you think I'd wade through a book so that you can be right?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:12AM (#33448506)

    When I have an empirical proof that god exists, I will believe.

    Ironically, if you get empirical proof that God exists you will not be required to believe... Herein lies the problem.

  • The real problem. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:14AM (#33448532)

    Arrogance. Do we really think we understand everything? Every generation from the beginning of time thought they were the enlightened generation. No, it is actually our generation! People from a thousand years from now are going to look back in awe how we figured it all out! Please.

  • by brennanw (5761) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:15AM (#33448536) Homepage Journal

    I'm in the strange position of having reached the realization that essentially, unless I'm willing to devote about 20 years of my life studying the matter on my own I'm going to have to decide to accept it by faith and not by reason. Oh irony, you are so delicious.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:15AM (#33448544)

    Try telling a bunch of Christians we're going to just start calling it Allah. It's all the same, right?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:17AM (#33448572)

    Still room for the old logical fallacy there. If God created gravity, then who created God? Most theists then state that God was always there, but then it's easier to simply say that gravity was always there.

    It's easier to ignore the whole debate and watch TV. This doesn't mean that's the correct decision.

    If it's a choice between watching TV and debating with internet trolls, TV is totally the right decision.

  • Re:Is that all? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by savi (142689) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:17AM (#33448578)

    You're saying that investigating the laws of the universe to figure out how/why the universe as we know it came to be is outside the realm of good physics?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:18AM (#33448596)

    He's publicly stated a belief in an invisible sky wizard, improper use of "who" and "whom" is the least of bit of evidence pointing to a lack of intelligence.

    Here's an honest question, I ask of you as a fellow atheist:

    Why do so many atheists feel the need to be smug assholes? What the fuck does it matter to you if he believes in 'an invisible sky wizard'? Why can't you just let people believe what they will, why must you impose your beliefs on other people?

  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:20AM (#33448622)

    Then go back several billion years to a time when the universe was nanoseconds old, and its entire mass and energy (and, confusing as it is, space) was crushed into something smaller than the head of a pin.

    Of course, when the universe is several nanoseconds old, we're past talking about "creation", aren't we? By several nanoseconds, at least.

    Ultimately, the other side of the singularity that is the Big Bang is unknowable. We can speculation all we like, and pretty much all the speculations are equally valid - they're all a pile of crap....

    Note that Hawking was, most likely, talking about the galaxies, suns, planets, etc. when he said that God wasn't needed to make it happen. In that, he's correct, in that once the Big Bang happens, gravity pretty much requires the formation of planets, stars, galaxies, etc.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:24AM (#33448678)

    True enough, but the religious folks think it's OK to warp science to fit into their primitive belief systems.

    Just look at the Creationist nonsense going on in US schools. This is 2010?!

    Also true. But that seems to be mostly a US thing. Along with televangelists. Most major Christian religions actually accept science and really don't interpret Genesis literally. So evolution is not that big an issue.

    Stephen Jay Gould had it right with the Noma Principle.

  • by elfprince13 (1521333) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:26AM (#33448706) Homepage
    Actually, it's 4 elephants first, and then a single very large turtle.
  • by Smidge204 (605297) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:27AM (#33448736) Journal

    I've never understood why hardcore atheists believe that scientific explanations preclude God as a valid concept.

    Because "God did it" adds nothing to our understanding and adds an extra, seemingly unnecessary link in the chain of reasoning. It's a platitude, not an explanation. On top of that, "God did it" has never, in the entire history of mankind, been the correct answer where such answers became knowable:

    Why does the sun move across the sky? God did it... no wait, the earth is rotating so it only seems the sun moves across the sky. Why do people get sick? God did it... no wait, it turns out there are things called germs and pathogens that affect our bodies and make us sick. Where does thunder and lightning come from? How is wine formed from grape juice? What causes the seasons to change? There used to be a "God did it" explanation for all of these.

    So why should we accept "God did it" as the reason the universe exists?
    =Smidge=

  • by CODiNE (27417) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:28AM (#33448750) Homepage

    Atheist or not, SOMETHING had to have always existed. Otherwise it's turtles all the way down.

    I saw a Mormon laughing at a Christian for believing that God always existed. He said that their belief of a God pyramid going back forever made more sense.

    Scientifically, philosophically and theologically "the beginning" is just something we can't figure out. Perhaps our brains are too small.

  • by Spad (470073) <slashdot@spad.YEATSco.uk minus poet> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:31AM (#33448806) Homepage

    Their argument is that it's just so obvious that there's a god, or gods and you have to take their non-existence on faith alone; you can't prove they don't exist, so therefore it must be more likely that they do. It's basically the Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction argument; we can't find any evidence of their existence, so they must be really well hidden.

    The problem with that argument being that it's not that "I believe that there isn't a god or gods", but "I don't believe that there is a god or gods".

  • by Dr. Manhattan (29720) <sorceror171@NOSpAm.gmail.com> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:32AM (#33448822) Homepage
    Humans suck at extrapolating outside of their experience. Essentially everything we've discovered about the universe since we left the African savanna has been a big surprise. F=ma? Big surprise (constrast with Aristotle's laws of motion). Heliocentrism? Evolution? Relativity? QM? All big surprises.

    I am extremely dubious about our ability to even speculate about something so far removed from human experience as the birth of universes. That applies to physicists and theologians, though it seems to me that physicists at least try to test their hypotheses as best they can.

    I'm pretty sure that, whatever the answer turns out to be, it won't look much like anything that anybody today expects. I won't call myself 'agnostic' because I believe it's at least in principle possible to reach some conclusions, eventually. I guess you'd call me "non-gnostic, for now".

  • Moses (Score:3, Insightful)

    by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:36AM (#33448884)

    "Well who created the all-mighty then?" That was an easy question. Moses created "the almight" about 1000 BC. He invented the single god, aka "all-mighty", inspired by the single god of a pharao a few centuries earlier (who btw was Nefertitis husband). Before that the hebrews were polytheistic like most other in Egypt. The big question is how Pharaoh had receieved the idea of a single god. Possibly he in turn was inspired by the zoroastrians, a monotheistic religion which had been created several centuries before him. It is not stranger than that.

  • Re:Who's on first? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Peter Trepan (572016) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:36AM (#33448896)
    I think it's like Einstein's "God does not play dice," or everyone else's "Thank God it's Friday." It's just a turn of speech, and doesn't imply belief in God. Furthermore, when someone like E.O. Wilson professes belief in a god, everyone assumes he means Jehovah -- but "God" is a slippery word, even when you're using it in earnest.
  • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:42AM (#33448986)

    I sincerely hope that was a sardonic statement. If that's the condition of people in general today, we're going to have a sticky few decades ahead of us.

    I don't think there's anything unreasonable about what he said. If you're having an argument or discussion with someone and you believe a book that you read would convince them that you're correct, the least you can do is give them the gist of what the book is about and why you think it's relevant. If they want to know more or are interested, then they can read the book -- but it's kind of asinine to say, "Oh, just read book X and you'll realize there has to be a God."

    If you disagree with me, go ahead and read Don Quixote (again, if necessary) and you'll see I'm right.

  • by doshell (757915) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:43AM (#33448998)
    Since we are talking about unprovable matters, I could also postulate there is a god that will send you to hell for being a nice person. This god is as likely to exist as yours. In fact, as long as there is more than one religion in the world, there are potentially many gods, who, once you die, will send you straight to hell for not believing in them. Surely, by being a practitioner of religion X, you are staking your eternal future too?
  • by MWojcik (859959) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:43AM (#33449004)
    Just like Christians stake their eternal future on the presumption that if God exists, it's the God from the bible (or rather their interpretation of it). They live their whole lives doing what their interpretation of the bible supports, and rejecting the concept that there could be anyone or anything different. If they are wrong, and there turns out to be a judgement day ruled by different deity they will spend eternity burning in other version of hell.
  • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:44AM (#33449024)

    They live their whole lives doing what they want, and rejecting the concept that there could be anyone or anything greater than themselves.

    Alternately: Everyone does what they want. Some people choose to rationalize their choices based on a fairy tale.

  • by Jawnn (445279) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:45AM (#33449044)

    Sure it does. Atheists stake their eternal future on the presumption that God does not exist. They live their whole lives doing what they want...

    False. That atheists have no "moral code" simply because the reject some arbitrary collection of do's and don'ts is a common but incorrect assumption. Sure, there are plenty of amoral atheists, but then again, there are plenty of outright scoundrels who will bleat long and loud about their "Christian values". On the other hand, some of the most "moral" people I know are atheists. They take full responsibility for their actions (no "salvation" just for uttering some magic words) and weigh those actions against a thoughtful and continuously evaluated personal code. In other words, they choose to do the "right" thing because it is right, not because someone else said it was right and threatened them with torture if they disobeyed.

    If they are wrong, and there turns out to be a judgement day they will spend eternity burning in hell..

    You do know that not every religion has the Judeo-Christian concepts of heaven, hell, and "judgement", don't you?

  • by Artifex33 (932236) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:46AM (#33449046)
    The problem is that people use religion to fill the void of what science does not know. If science was never allowed to encroach on religion's territory, all scientific progress would stop. We'd still believe the planets and sun orbited the earth in perfect circles.
  • Re:Is that all? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mr_mischief (456295) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:46AM (#33449052) Journal

    Stating that a supernatural being outside the physical limitations of the universe and of time either does or does not exist based on the physical limitations of the universe and of time and of our still quite limited ability to measure and explain those limitations is poor physics.

    I mean, whose definition of God, gods, demigods, angels, demons, spirits, souls, or whatever do we even use to start looking? How do we test?

    Some philosophy is from different branches of philosophy than science. You don't discuss metaphysics and theology from physics. Physics is empirical and objective. Once you violate empiricism and objectivity, you've violated science.

  • Re:well duh. (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:48AM (#33449100)

    How is this insightful? Hawking just said everything came from nothing... oh, except gravity, which came from?

    You could just simply say "I have absolutely no idea how it all began", since, you know, that's the truth.

  • by Teckla (630646) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:51AM (#33449160)

    Atheists stake their eternal future on the presumption that God does not exist. They live their whole lives doing what they want, and rejecting the concept that there could be anyone or anything greater than themselves. If they are wrong, and there turns out to be a judgement day they will spend eternity burning in hell. That takes a great deal of faith (or ignorance take your pick).

    And many theists assume that, even if there is a God, that it's important to him that you believe in him during this life. (Why would that be so important to God anyway?!)

    And many theists assume that, if you don't believe in God before you die, that God will be so upset that he'll send you to hell for eternity. (Why do so many theists think God is a psychopath?)

    And even if you do believe in God, what are the chances you've chosen the right one to believe in?

    Christianity? What if the Muslims are right?

    Islam? What if the Jews are right?

    Judaism? What if the Hindus are right?

    Hinduism? What if the Buddhists are right?

    What if all the major religions are wrong?

    And on and on it goes...

    It seems overwhelmingly self evident to me that people inherit their religious beliefs from their parents and the society around them. They don't wait until they're adults, capable of making these kinds of Big Decisions with a rational mind. They don't research all the alternatives and make an informed decision. They're basically brainwashed from birth.

    If God really is a psychopath; i.e., if God really is going to send you to hell for eternity because you didn't believe or did believe, but believed in the wrong God, then the vast, vast majority of humanity is screwed, and is going to hell, because even if you do believe in the right God, chances are your faith and adherence to your religion is watered down enough to piss him off to send you to hell anyway...

    I would argue that to have true faith and confidence in God would mean having faith and confidence that he's competent and his plan doesn't suck so much that the vast majority of human souls will spend eternity in hell. You should have faith that God is not a complete psychopath just waiting to make the vast majority of his creation suffer torment for all eternity.

    And, please: if you're religious, and disagree, or are even offended, please don't mod me down; instead provide some rational counterarguments to what I've said.

  • by Covalent (1001277) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:52AM (#33449182)
    Gee...I never thought of that. Now, just tell me which God I should worship so as to avoid my eternal suffering and I'll get right on that. Pascal's Wager is hundreds of years old and makes even less sense now than it did then. Not believing is just as safe a wager as believing in the "wrong" God.
  • by srussia (884021) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:52AM (#33449190)
    Stephen Hawking begging the question.
  • The Golden Mean (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alaren (682568) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:54AM (#33449222)

    I think saying "all atheism is alike" is like saying "all Christianity is alike."

    I know a few people who are quietly atheist. Perhaps agnostic would be a better word, as they do not believe in God, but they spend no time actively disbelieving. Like certain of the religious, they have their doubts--about their own capacity to understand the universe or the arguments or themselves--but they have made up their mind and they are comfortable having done so.

    And then I have met many atheists who are zealots, or at least hobbyists, about it. Their disbelief is not a passive thing, but an active assertion, a passion, an argument they must make at every possible opportunity. It may not be "faith" in the religious sense, but it has an awful lot in common with "religion" in the pejorative sense.

    Robert Pirsig once observed that very few people run around screaming that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. Things we are deeply certain about generate very little in the way of zealotry. It is only those things we doubt at some level that generate in us the overwhelming need to convince others. It's as true of religion as of irreligion.

    Just as I find religious fundamentalists off-putting, I find atheist extremists off-putting as well, and I'm not overly concerned with the epithets people try to apply to them. Dogmatism by any other name will never be anything greater than sophomoric.

  • by ThreeE (786934) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:56AM (#33449264)

    Ridiculous. It's true, no one can prove that there are no gods. But we can say that there is as much evidence for gods as there is for the tooth fairy. In fact, there is more for the tooth fairy.

  • by mr_mischief (456295) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:56AM (#33449268) Journal

    Isn't saying that you've disproved something that can't be detected or tested by the very definitions of the people you're debating warping science?

    Invoking a being outside the physical laws violates Occam's Razor. Dismissing philosophically something that can't be disproved using the scientific method violates the falsifiability principle.

    If something isn't falsifiable, stating that it is true or false is simply, unscientific. To say that there is a god or isn't a god is unscientific. To say you can't be sure but that a god is superfluous to your explanation of things is perfectly scientific (so long as a god remains superfluous to all explanations in science, which so far remains the case).

  • Re:Moses (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sir_Lewk (967686) <sirlewk@NospAm.gmail.com> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:58AM (#33449312)

    I'll go ahead and cite Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash as my source for saying that religion is nothing more than a social/mental virus.

    Sure it's fiction, but I'd wager it is just as good as any sources you can dig up to the contrary.

    (oh, and for your information: there are a shitton of peer-reviewed papers and books about the origins of different religions. Go to any local university and ask a librarian for some help finding some.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:03AM (#33449410)

    How convenient. When you lose, change the game.

      Point is, this god business doesn't necessarily apply to any level at all. It's your fairy tale, not mine.

  • by Sir_Lewk (967686) <sirlewk@NospAm.gmail.com> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:06AM (#33449488)

    It seems to me that to say you're agnostic you must...

    With the proper application of apathy, you don't even need to do that much. In fact, I think I'll go fry myself up a delicious bacon/egg and cheese sandwich right now instead of pondering a damn thing. Who gives a shit? I'm not a physicist, biologist, theologian, or policy maker, why should I waste my time on any of this?

    Oh right, because it's fun to argue on the internet... oh well :)

  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:09AM (#33449540) Journal

    As a (unfortunately non-car) analogy, think about the question "why did my wife smile when she looked at me just now?". The answer "she loves me" wouldn't be appropriate in a journal article in a scientific journal about correlating human brain activity with human actions, but it might very well be an appropriate answer in other contexts.

    Are you arguing that "God" like "love" is an entirely subjective phenomenon that occurs only in the human brain? As an atheist, I'd tend to agree with that.

  • by EnsilZah (575600) <.moc.liamG. .ta. .haZlisnE.> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:09AM (#33449546)

    Well that's the whole point.
    "Who created the creator?" comes as a retort to religious people saying "Something can't come out of nothing" and then saying that it must have been created by a god since for some reason god is exempt from this rule but any other explanation wouldn't be.

  • by HappyHead (11389) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:10AM (#33449562)

    Atheist Communists started plenty of fights over religion.

    Derp? That wasn't the question. the question was "When was the last time a war was started because of atheist beliefs? Here's a hint: Never. Wars are fought over "you have resource X and we want it", or "our god doesn't like your god, and he told us to kill you". You're not going to find atheists starting wars over their lack of god anywhere outside of Southpark reruns.

    The fact that atheism is relatively new doesn't change the fact that it's just another religion.

    Sorry, wrong again. Atheism pre-dates your religion - people didn't believe in god(s) long before they made up yours. And it's not a religion any more than not collecting stamps is a hobby.

  • by corbettw (214229) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `wttebroc'> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:10AM (#33449566) Journal

    Why do so many atheists feel the need to be smug assholes? What the fuck does it matter to you if he believes in 'an invisible sky wizard'? Why can't you just let people believe what they will, why must you impose your beliefs on other people?

    It has nothing to do with me being an atheist, I'm just an asshole.

  • by AkiraRoberts (1097025) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:14AM (#33449642) Homepage
    Just a minor quibble, but if it turns out the Buddhists are right, Christirans won't spend eternity being reborn and suffering - they only spend as long as it takes to figure out that the Buddhists were right and to get with the program. Unlike Christianity, Buddhism isn't one of those you get one chance, don't fuck it up kind of religions. (And yes, all of the above is just a huge fucking oversimplification - I am aware of that, but the point stands).
  • by gardyloo (512791) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:17AM (#33449716)

    Or any of the other tens of accounts of the story which came first. Or other popularizations of it. Or Pratchett.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:28AM (#33449924) Homepage

    Is this really Hawking speaking? Has he finally lost his mind?

    Yes. It's not that this is a single quote taken out of context from an entire book. He surely never mentions Conservation of Energy or entropy in this book. The statement is obviously not the conclusion of a lengthy argument, but rather the entirety of the argument and conclusion contained together in one sentence. Ergo your observations are undeniably correct and Hawking has no idea what he's talking about.

  • Re:well duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kozz (7764) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:33AM (#33450022)

    In the grand Slashdot tradition, I have not read the article. However, it seems one might also write a headline which says, "Hawking fuels false dichotomy".

  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:34AM (#33450054)

    I've never understood why hardcore atheists believe that scientific explanations preclude God as a valid concept.

    Strictly speaking it doesn't. You just don't need God as an explanation when you have real explanations. And for those things you still can't explain, invoking God doesn't help anyway - an unknowable power with unlimited capability and inscrutable will is compatible with any and every observation you make, and therefore has no explanatory value.

    Also, people who cling to belief in God tend to cling also to myths that are demonstrably *not* valid concepts, so God tends to get thrown out with the garbage he's sitting in.

    If theists had any sense they'd ditch Genesis faster than atheists do.

  • by AkiraRoberts (1097025) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:36AM (#33450086) Homepage
    And I was being a pedantic one, sorry.

    And also thinking that, shit, give someone a few million years to mull it over and maybe, assuming the Buddhists are right, the Christians might be able to say "well holy shit, I don't think this here Jesus guy is working for us, what with all the constantly being reborn and suffering and all." That might be optimistic.
  • by IICV (652597) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:36AM (#33450096)

    As other people have pointed out, that's Pascal's Wager.

    However, if you actually think about it, the logic used in Pascal's Wager inevitably leads to the idea that you have to kill as many children as you can.

    Consider:

    • Children are innocent and will go to heaven, receiving an eternal reward - or, at the very least, will not go to hell (and if you can find someone who actually believes that children go to hell by default, then they're basically a lost cause).
    • Children may, in the future, perform some actions that will cause them to spend an eternity in hell.
    • Pascal's Anti-Wager: if you kill a child now, they will receive an infinite reward (or a null outcome). If you let them live, there is a small chance that they will eventually receive an infinite punishment.
    • A small chance of an infinite punishment outweighs all other considerations, as the expected result is still infinite punishment
    • Therefore, it is your duty to kill as many children as you can, in order to either guarantee them entry into heaven or to guarantee that they do not go to hell.

    And hey, if you do that, you'll become a martyr! Just imagine all the children you'll usher into heaven, even if you're going to hell.

  • by Vectormatic (1759674) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:36AM (#33450104)

    you made me think, if you assume the christian god is the correct one (i dont, atheist and such), then believing in any particular version of christianity might even be more dangerous then being a muslim. If the christian god exists, and for instance, catholicism is the correct interpretation, then a protestant (reformed, whatever), person, will not only have not heeded the right set of rules of the god he believes in, he will have done things in his gods name, which go directly against gods will (which, for the uk/irish region, might include killing/fighting catholics)

    If i was a god (and many people seem to assume god is some sort of allmighty benevolent but very strict human-like thinking mind, sort of a king of old), i would be more upset with people claiming to follow me, and in my (explicit) name, cary out misdeeds/crimes, some even against my own correct followers, then the guys who are just following the wrong god to begin with...

    anyway, the problem i see with the pascal wager is that it neglects the potential cost of following a religion, it does not take into account any experiences you might lose, or effort you will spend in vain, worshipping a non existant god, a devout muslim will never taste pork, or taste a good whiskey, thus making his life on earth less complete, with a chance to find out that is all you ever get, if there is no afterlife. In essence, if there is no afterlife, this earthly life is all we humans have, devoting that to a non-existant god in that case (possibly) devalues literally all that we have, even if on an absolute scale earthly life earthly life + afterlife

  • by digitig (1056110) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:37AM (#33450124)

    And how do you know he hasn't? There are some pretty subtle arguments for the existence of God, such as Plantinga's version of the ontological argument using modal logic. I don't accept it, but the problem isn't a lack of understanding of science or critical thinking. (For what it's worth, I don't accept the argument because I don't believe the version of modal logic he uses correctly describes the universe, but that's a metaphysical position -- there's no possible observation that could decide between the modal logics I accept, in which the existence of God appears not to be provable, and the one Plantinga uses in which the existence of God appears to be provable).

    If you think that because some religious people have stupid reasons for being religious they must all have stupid reasons for being religious then perhaps you should spend a few minutes with a critical thinking primer too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:38AM (#33450132)

    Because if we believed in something that appeared ludicrous to you, you would be equally smug. Such as, oh.. that life on earth would be better withouth religion perhaps? Or did you want something less concrete and more airy-fairy?

    I don't care WHAT you believe. That's your business, it doesn't affect me. I only care when you feel like being an asshole about it, because that DOES affect me.

  • by pregister (443318) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:38AM (#33450148)

    I liked this book. I'm not big on religion but a previous boss, who enjoyed debating philosophy and occasionally his religious beliefs, gave me a copy. It was an interesting read.

  • by Vectormatic (1759674) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:42AM (#33450240)

    i am not sure about buddhism, but hinduism also knows the concept of starting over again on a lower step (like going from human to a dog) if you screw up a life, so if in this life you are a christian, and as such do wrong things, you will simply end up as a lower lifeform, and if you do that right, you go up a step, without having to be the same christian guy again.

    Being a christian in a hindu reality merely means having to back a few steps on your path to enlightenment, it doesnt mean being stuck in an endless loop of being wrong, so in that respect a hindu reality is more friendly to christians then a christian reality to hindus

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:43AM (#33450256)

    but the 'faith' to trust an authority is different than 'faith' that really has never had an actual authority.

    the big difference is that scientists can show an audit trail of their thinking; and if its BS, they get called on it.

    anyone can stand up, declare a religion and its essentially untouchable. you can't be argued with since most of mankind of brainwashed to think that you have to 'respect religion' (as a valid institution).

    the two worlds could not be farther apart and the 'faith' that you talk about is not actually unverifyable. if you really wanted to put work into it, you *could* follow thru all the steps and check the process for bugs/flaws. you simply choose not to do the work, but do realize you did make a choice and that if you wanted to, you *could* replay the thoughts and check for flaws. however, in religion, no such thing exists. no such thing as 'verification' or audit in religion.

  • by Thangodin (177516) <elentar@symp a t ico.ca> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:43AM (#33450258) Homepage

    Agreed. This is a version of what I call the Proof from Theological Proliferation, which, baldly stated, goes something like: "There are lots of books of theology, and you haven't read them all. Therefore, God." Or, "The proof is left as an exercise for the reader."

    If there is a killer argument in the book, he should tell us what it is, rather than just brush off questions with a hand wave.

  • god IS the laws of physics

    god is a metaphor, that some people need to take literally, because not everyone has the mind of stephen hawking, but they still need to understand the world, so mental shortcuts have to do

    the whole hullabaloo over the existence of god is really silly, as soon as you realize that everyone has a different way of describing the same thing

  • by MysteriousPreacher (702266) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:46AM (#33450344) Journal

    Like many things in this subject it comes down to definitions. Theism is pretty consistent, in that most people accept it as being belief that a deity exists and is somehow active in this world or the supposed next. Atheism could have two basic meanings - depending on who you're talking to.

    1) Denial that god(s) exist
    This is rarely expressed as absolute certainty, and is a position I personally consider indefensible and problematic in that it shifts the burden of evidence. Also, no-one can say for definite that there are no gods, but one can with a reasonable level of certainty say that the gods described by the major religions are either highly improbable or hideously misunderstood by their followers and biographers. Personally I find it rare to find atheists who'll say with certainty that there are no gods, and most cases it's believers creating straw men that can easily be knocked over. If anyone suggests this to be the norm for atheists then I'd challenge them to show me evidence of well known atheists or atheistic groups that adopt such a line.

    2) Non-belief in the existence of god(s)
    This is the same as agnosticism. The existence of gods is a binary proposition. The best way to clarify this muddle is to ask the question: Do you believe that gods exist? The answers "no" and "I don't know" amount to the same thing. Personally I adopt this line for gods and all other supernatural frippery. An intellectually honest atheist should be willing to accept, given sufficient evidence, that gods could indeed exist.

    It becomes slightly annoying when people self-identify as agnostics with the implication, or stated claim, that their reason for this is because they're not certain enough to adopt the position of atheism. Just as Christianity as a label can in some contexts be pretty vague, it's always worth asking someone to clearly state their beliefs. Atheism doesn't require certainty, and certainty only comes in to play when theists make very specific claims that can through naturalistic observation be refuted. Even then it can reach ridiculous levels - such as the argument that the devil planted fossils to confuse us, or the concept of Last Thursdayism. Therein lies madness like solipsism and conversations that'd belong among a bunch a stoned teenagers rather than serious philosophers and theologians.

  • by digitig (1056110) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:53AM (#33450492)
    Yes it does, it just doesn't take any religious faith. There are metaphysical assumptions underlying all worldviews. Even scientific worldviews, although some popularisers of science try to pretend there aren't.
  • by Chalnoth (1334923) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @09:56AM (#33450570)
    Sorry, but logic doesn't work this way. A logical proof only guarantees that if the premises of the argument are true, then the conclusions must also be true. Because of this, it is fundamentally impossible for a logical proof to demonstrate anything about the nature of reality. You must have at least one input assumption no matter what. This is why all results in science are necessarily contingent upon observation/experiment. Ontological attempts at proving a god (or anything else) are guaranteed to fail before they even begin.

    One problem with Plantinga's argument is that he assumes it is possible for an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent entity to exist, but this is exactly the kind of god we know cannot exist because of the problem of evil (never mind the logical self-inconsistency of omnipotence). Because of this, Plantinga's "maximal greatness" is a malformed statement that has no meaning, and the whole proof crashes in on itself.

    As for Stephen Hawking's argument, I'd have to read the book, but in principle it is completely accurate that there is simply no reason to believe in one.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:06AM (#33450800)

    Well that's the whole point.
    "Who created the creator?" comes as a retort to religious people saying "Something can't come out of nothing" and then saying that it must have been created by a god since for some reason god is exempt from this rule but any other explanation wouldn't be.

    I think you're twisting the argument a bit. It's more like "Because there's no known way for something to come from nothing, only an almighty creator could create something from nothing".

    Christians fully believe that God has always existed.

  • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:17AM (#33450976)

    If God really is a psychopath; i.e., if God really is going to send you to hell for eternity because you didn't believe or did believe

    It's worse than that. Can you think of anything done on earth that deserves eternal, and infinite punishment? Think about it. Hitler was obviously a horrible person and his actions led to millions of deaths, but sending Hitler to hell would condemning him to the most painful experience imaginable (according to some theists) for trillions upon trillions of years.

    And then throw in that at one time or another, various religions have stated that you deserve this punishment for everything from murder to premarital sex, from worshiping the wrong god to saying the 'name' of god, from having homosexual sex to simple gluttony. In my opinion, anyone that believes in a god that would punish someone in any way for all eternity believes in a god that is a sociopathic asshole.

  • by digitig (1056110) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:40AM (#33451474)

    Occam only meant that we can't invoke a more complicated explanation than necessary within science.

    And even then the application is usually subjective, as what one person considers more complex another considers simpler. I have (tongue-in-cheek) upset people arguing for a form of scientism by invoking Occam's razor to "prove" solipsism ("Zero objective realities is simpler than one objective reality"). Occam's razor is a methodological tool; it is not any sort of guide to what is or is not "true" (although some seem to have what looks to me like a religious belief that it is).

  • Point Missed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Alaren (682568) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:41AM (#33451494)

    I enjoyed that one. However, your posting it here suggests you missed my point entirely.

    This is not about feeling "superior" to either religious or irreligious people. It's about whether or not you're an unpleasant bastard when it comes to what you do or don't believe.

    The only reason I posted at all is because I get really tired of the "atheism is a religion/no it's not" argument. It's sophomoric, pedantic, and silly. The epistemological observation is made that people "believe" a lot more than they "know," and it turns out that in the realm of belief-prompted-actions, atheists and Christians and Buddhists and everyone behave in strikingly similar ways. We want other people to believe what we believe. We formulate arguments. We covet what other people have while simultaneously claiming that we don't want it or that it somehow marks them as evil or wrong or foolish. We are most aware of shortcomings in others to the extent those shortcomings mirror our own.

    If you check the alt-text on the comic you linked, you'll note that the superiority thing is an infinite regress. We're all trying to get a "leg up" to some degree, and that's perfectly natural. But sometimes the best way to get a "leg up" is to live and let live in order to benefit from cooperation toward mutual aims. We all have more in common as human beings than we generally acknowledge. And the differences are meaningful, and often important, but rarely worth the vitriol and venom that goes into articulating them.

  • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:49AM (#33451640)

    Interesting philosophy. I didn't know plants experienced happiness or sadness.

    Probably that's why he put happiness in quotes. It's shorthand for a much longer explanation.

    Plants seek out things that help them live/prosper. They turn towards light, etc. This doesn't require conscience thought or a brain on their part; they've just evolved in a way such that this is true.

    If you disagree, forming a counterargument is more useful than nitpicking the word choice.

  • by Quirkz (1206400) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:51AM (#33451680) Homepage

    If you think that because some religious people have stupid reasons for being religious they must all have stupid reasons for being religious then perhaps you should spend a few minutes with a critical thinking primer too.

    Out of curiosity, do you have or know of a good reason for being religious? You've cited one argument that you find interesting but lacking, which is closer than most people get to having a discussion better than "because my parents and my holy book says so" and I'd actually like to get to some good arguments. I don't really go out of my way looking for them, but I also never get any feedback from genuinely religious folks that's anything but pure faith and irrationality.

    For the reference, my stance is based almost entirely on "lack of compelling evidence". I'm not militant about it, I just don't see the point in thinking I know something when I don't have a reason to think I know it.

  • Antropomorphism (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @10:59AM (#33451888)

    My fundamentalist brother and I get into this tangle every once in a while. It goes something like this:

    He: You can't deny that such complex systems as man and animals just spontaneously created themselves. If you are walking in the woods and find a watch on the ground, you don't suppose it just evolved there on its own, do you? Someone must have created it.

    Me: Maybe it's just the nature of reality and physics that complexity evolves from simplicity, and this is the big bang expressing itself many billions of years later.

    He: But who set off the big bang? It didn't erupt out of nothing. Something [God] must have preceded it.

    Me: OK then, what preceded Your god?

    He: Nothing. He has always been.

    Me: So basically, we have the same answer. You just gave your preexisting conditions a brain and motivations, and I don't presume to.

    It's called anthropomorphism... look it up.

  • by Raenex (947668) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:02AM (#33451932)

    I was raised in a non-religious household. [..] So it's quite common for people to believe in Christianity through being convinced of its claims, not only because of an accident of upbringing.

    I bet you were raised in a nation with a large Christian following, though. Just how many people will become Christian growing up in a Muslim country? How many Christians were there in every other culture before Christianity arose? Every culture, when separated from others, came up with their own religions. Does it sound like God really wanted one true message to be heard, and that it is Christianity? Or perhaps people were just making shit up.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:13AM (#33452150)

    I'm convinced it's the God of the Bible because the most plausible explanation for me for data from the first century is that Jesus truly rose from the dead.

    You were never "convinced" of anything. You were brainwashed into believing really idiotic nonsense by your parents before your brain was adequately developed meaning you have never once in your life even been capable of thinking honestly about the topic. This is the only reason you falsely claim to have the faith you do. This is obvious by how blatantly you're lying about such basic simple historical facts.

    There does not exist one single legitimate shred of evidence that there ever was such a person, let alone any of the crazy magical nonsense. This is also supported by the fact that the very idea of a human Jesus living on Earth completely contradicts the beliefs of the early Christians. The whole birth death and resurrection *necessarily* happened only in a spiritual plane. Rewriting the myth to set it in the real world as the modern false Christians do destroyed the whole point of the story. There is no such data making you a liar as well as a fool.

    I'm also convinced historical data from Egypt backs up the Old Testament assertions about connections between Israel's pre-history (Joseph and Moses) and Egypt, including the powerful miracles Jehovah/YHWH is said to have worked on behalf of Israel during those times.

    There doesn't exist a single shred of historical data for any of your idiotic lies. The Hebrew tribe didn't even exist for over a thousand years after the pyramids were built, so the entire book of Exodus is known to be nothing but an attempt for some ignorant barbarians to associate themselves with the awesome culture of the Egyptians who were ancient even to the Hebrews at the time their fairy tale was written. Hell, that's why even though the pyramids were built in the bronze age, the anachronistic fairy tale talks about forging iron during the time demonstrating quite clearly that whoever made up that ridiculous fairy tale knew nothing about the pyramid builders and so little of the history of the world as to not even comprehend the idea that iron forging didn't exist and had to have been invented at some point.

    I could be wrong.

    No, you are quite clearly and quite obviously wrong. Five minutes of honest inquiry would prove that to you quite convincingly if you were capable of it. It's clear that you would much rather lie to yourself and everyone around rather than be honest with yourself and your god for even five minutes out of your entire life. There's no way you could have spouted such thoroughly refuted lies were you possessed of even the most rudimentary sense of decency, integrity, ethics or even any self-respect. People with these qualities would be embarrassed to engage in such blatantly ignorant and grossly dishonest behaviour, but you're a typical example of why Christians are held in such utter contempt by decent people.

  • by Piata (927858) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:23AM (#33452344)

    The God Delusion is a terrible book. I wish people would stop recommending it so highly as it's mostly Dawkins pushing his personal views with the same fury and single mindedness as your average religious zealot. Maybe you enjoy his butt hurt whining for 12+ chapters but I got bored of his one dimensional thinking pretty fast.

    Instead I would much more highly recommend Guns, Germs and Steel [wikipedia.org] as it doesn't even bother with the God question but succintely deals with it as a minor event that occurs in all societies when they reach a certain population density. Gods and Religions allow a ruling class to control the masses and extract more tribute, which is essential when societies grow to a large enough size. There's nothing more to it than that.

  • by HeckRuler (1369601) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:36AM (#33452656)

    nor can we ignore the possibility it may be the truth, can we now?

    Yes we can. Since it doesn't affect us in the least, we can ignore that possibility quite safely. Just like you can ignore the possibility that god is the most delicious jelly doughnut in the world and crafted all of this around him just to appreciate his greatness. Possible, but improbable, and not worth worrying about.

  • by Stiletto (12066) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @11:39AM (#33452732)

    mainstream Christianity (i.e. not creationist nut cases)

    Mainstream Christianity (at least in the USA) consists largely of nut cases.

    Imagine a hypothetical world without religion. One day, I walk up to you and say that a few thousand years ago, this invisible man who lives in the sky waved his hands and created everything (including the sky, where he had already been living) then put people on the earth, then made a whole bunch of random rules about diet and sex and how many slaves you are allowed to own. Then he started alternating between being kind of hands-off and being a punishing, miracle-making, war-making supernatural force. Then, for some reason sky-man decided to impregnate some random woman. Then the kid that came out got himself in trouble with the law, was executed, came back from the dead, and now the invisible sky-man decided that if you believe in all that stuff, he'll remove an evil force from your insides and you'll eventually get to go visit him in the sky after you're dead.

    You'd think I was a nut case and send me to the loony bin!

    But since it's written down in a special black book, that makes it totally sane and mainstream.

  • by Manfred Maccx (1365933) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:07PM (#33453342)

    Science still can't explain from where soul is coming from and what happens with it after death.

    You are making a big assumption here. You are assuming that there is such a thing as a "soul" and you are assuming that science can't comprehend it. So far, even if there are still a lot of things to learn about the brain, science got a pretty good grasp on the electro-chemical processes happening in our brain and many other animals' brain too.

  • by doshell (757915) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:08PM (#33453362)

    I am discussing the truth value of the proposition put forth by the original poster: that "atheists stake their eternal future on the presumption that God does not exist" and (not said but implied by the poster) god-believers somehow do not. I presented an argument showing that the proposition is false. My argument is not affected in any way by personal beliefs (either yours, mine, or anyone else's) or the intricacies of particular religions, which is all your last post refers to. Your remarks, though relevant and even interesting in other contexts, do not have a bearing on anything I said previously.

    You seem to be too focused on your own personal beliefs to analyze this matter from an unbiased, rational point of view. I'm not inviting you to give up on your beliefs; however, in order to have a rational conversation, you must at the very least be able to abstract from them (which does not mean ceasing to believe in them). Otherwise, you will soon find you cannot have any meaningful conversation with people with different beliefs than yours (and then you probably wonder why they do not seem to respect your own).

  • by digitig (1056110) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:10PM (#33453406)

    It depends on what you mean by "good reason". There can be no scientific reason, for some definitions of "scientific", because the modern version of the scientific method was actually developed with the express purpose of excluding any foundation for religious belief. For instance, Russell Berg has proposed 15 criteria for whether a theory is scietific [philosophynow.org] (behind paywall, sorry), and his first criteria is that it excludes God and gods. On those rules there can't be a "good" reason by definition, but I think it tells us more about the people making the rules than about the existence of God.

    I do think that if somebody believes that they have had a subjective experience of God then it is rational to act on that experience unless they have good reason to reject it, and "lack of evidence" is not of itself good reason to reject it because they do have evidence (I don't say "proof"), they just can't pass it on other than by unverifiable statements. Alternative explanations are not necessarily sufficient reasons for rejecting the experience either, unless there is good reason for preferring those explanations. When push comes to shove, all evidence available to the individual is apprehended subjectively, and there's no a priori reason to prefer one set of subjective experiences to another.

    Consider a thought experiment. Imagine you are charged with murder. You have no recollection of committing the murder, but rather have a clear recollection of being at home on your own on the evening the murder occurred. However, you have a motive and are picked out in a line-up, and ultimately convicted. The scientific (especially the classical foundationalist) view is that the objective evidence points clearly to your guilt, so you should reject the hypothesis that you are innocent. Because of information only available to you, subjectively, though, you would be completely rational to continue to believe yourself innocent, even though your recollection could in theory be defective. Sure, if the evidence continues to pile up -- a taxi driver remembers picking you up from home and taking you to the murder scene, he has the stub that shows he was paid with your credit card, DNA evidence places you at the scene, and so on, there comes a point when you would have to take seriously the possibility that your recollection is wrong. But the point remains: your subjective recollection, whilst being fallible, does carry some weight, so the degree of proof needed to convince you that you are wrong is quite properly higher than the level of proof needed to convince anybody else that you are wrong.

    Now, what about your wife? She was away at a conference at the time of the murder, but based on her knowledge of you she tends to trust your claims of innocence. Not as strongly as you do, because she doesn't have the subjective experience, but enough to campaign about what she is sure is a miscarriage of justice.

    Between those two positions I do see how it can be reasonable to have religious belief, either because of subjective experience or trust in the testimony of those who claim to have had religious experience. Neither position is "scientific", but I believe that both can be rational as long as they don't hold out against too much contrary evidence (and what constitutes "too much" is subjective anyway).

    Does that make any sense?

  • by digitig (1056110) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:13PM (#33453454)

    But if you believe in those religions, are you REALLY having faith in God himself...or are you putting your faith in those people who are telling you what God wants?

    Ultimately everybody -- religious, agnostic, atheist -- is putting faith in themselves making the right call. I don't see any way around that.

  • by canadian_right (410687) <alexander.russell@telus.net> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:20PM (#33453586) Homepage

    The ontological proof is the weakest one of the six common proofs.

    • The cosmological argument argues that there was a "first cause", or "prime mover" who is identified as God. It starts with a claim about the world, like its containing entities or motion.
    • The teleological argument argues that the universe's order and complexity are best explained by reference to a creator God. It starts with a rather more complicated claim about the world, i.e. that it exhibits order and design. This argument has two versions: One based on the analogy of design and designer, the other arguing that goals can only occur in minds.
    • The ontological argument is based on arguments about a "being greater than which cannot be conceived". It starts simply with a concept of God.[16] Avicenna,[17][18] St. Anselm of Canterbury and Alvin Plantinga formulated this argument to show that if it is logically possible for God (a necessary being) to exist, then God exists.[16]
    • The anthropic argument suggests that basic facts, such as our existence, are best explained by the existence of God.
    • The moral argument argues that the existence of objective morality depends on the existence of God.
    • The transcendental argument suggests that logic, science, ethics, and other things we take seriously do not make sense in the absence of God, and that atheistic arguments must ultimately refute themselves if pressed with rigorous consistency.

    Pretty much all of these boil down to "I really, really, really, want there to be a god".

    And the rebuttals:

    • Cosmological - recursion problem
    • teleological - explaining away complexity be adding a complex being.
    • ontological - starting with what you want
    • anthropic - recursion problem
    • moral - a quick read of the bible clearly shows that modern christians get their moral values form the same place as athiests: modern liberal secular values that have been explored since the enlightenment and can be simply expressed as do onto others as you would have done to yourself, or do not directly harm other people.
  • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:33PM (#33453834)
    One of the funniest and scariest things said to me: "You're an atheist? How do you know right from wrong if you don't believe in God? If I wasn't Christian, there'd be nothing stopping me from going on a killing spree."
  • by gfreeman (456642) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:40PM (#33453950)

    You don't often see a person of (blind) faith have a crisis of conscience.

    Is that supposed to be a good thing? I have no crisis of conscience about giving the same civil rights to homosexuals as to straights, whereas the pope also has no crisis of conscience in this area but he reaches a different conclusion. One of us is wrong.

    There's probably a lot more "soul searching" and crises of conscience in churches now, because people are questioning their blind faith. When moral codes and social rules are explained from first principles, they make for fewer crises of conscience than if you are told what to do with no more explanation than "God says so".

  • by canadian_right (410687) <alexander.russell@telus.net> on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:44PM (#33454022) Homepage

    Moral atheists get the morals form the same place as modern Christians: modern secular humanism principals which boil down to "do not directly harm other people". The bible is full of evil stuff: kill your kids if they back talk, its ok to kill people who don't observe the sabbath, etc... The old testament is down right vile in places. Christians have generally rejected the "bad" parts of the bible and embraced the good parts: love your neighbor as yourself, turn the other cheek, etc... And the good Christians chose what is good the same way the atheists did.

  • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @12:54PM (#33454208)

    Here's an even better one, courtesy of David Michell [youtube.com]

  • Re:Hubris (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @01:28PM (#33454722)
    Even if it's not simple, there's no need to invent supernatural beings.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @02:05PM (#33455418)
    1) No, I don't think most kids inherit "religious beliefs" from their parents, they inherit "religion" alone. (rules, traditions, a checklist of things to do and places to go). Most kids inherit religion, but no matter how you look at it, no kid inherits faith. It's an inward decision, it's a heart issue, which in turn governs how you live every moment of your life. Kids beaten into a religious mold may not actually have any belief at all.

    2) People solidify what they believe the first 18 years of their life. Most who are presented with a different position after that are far less likely to shift because life experiences have already glue their feet to the ground about one perspective or another -and right or wrong people are stubborn! Not to say people can't change, but beyond 18 people are far less likely to be open minded to thoughts on change.

    Regarding God being a psychopath ... since you seem to be feeding off the Bible's take on Heaven and hell you should get some clarification. God doesn't arbitrarily send people to hell. God is pure holiness (without sin), and perfectly righteous (as a judge cannot sway from the law), and wants all to go to heaven. But the law says sinners cannot enter heaven, and God is just so since we are all sinners we all go to hell. So he loves us enough to want us all there, but is perfectly just and has to send us ALL (by law) to hell.

    Imagine if you bake a cake and the recipe calls for 6 eggs, but it turns out you only have 5 good eggs and one rotten ugly egg. You throw all 6 in thinking no one will notice. In the end you have a cake that has the appearance of perfection but has some rotten stuff inside. Anyone who knew better wouldn't put that cake in their stomach. It would make you blow chunks. In a similar way God is just and cannot let sin into his presence. It's not psychotic, it's common sense.

    Since we ALL deserve hell, and he wants us ALL in heaven ... in comes Jesus (God made flesh) the one who can come and die to soak up all our sin so we are transformed into perfection and able to step foot into heaven. Is God really a psychopath to willingly suffer and die so we don't HAVE to go to hell?

    So you die and stand before the court of God and he says, "You are guilty of sin. By law you deserve eternal death. I'd like to help you out but remember that Jesus guy, that's my kid. He died for your sake and you blew him off."

    In contrast you die and stand before the Court of God and he say essentially you are just as filthy and dirty and deserve eternal death." In steps Jesus who says, "Me and him are buddies. I promised to pay all his parking tickets myself." God remarks, "OK, you are now by law perfectly innocent, the door to heaven is over there."

    The difference is one man decided to be judged based on his own merit.
    The other recognized his filth, wanted clean and accepted Jesus' solution.

    There is no psychopathic God here. God is just. The guilty deserve death. The innocent deserve life. It's not emotionless torture. Psychopaths don't give up their throne, suffer and die for self-centered greedy people. Heck, neither do normal people.

    If a man doesn't believe a doctor can save his life, he is welcome to die alone. But if he actually believes a doctor can save his life he gets his butt to the hospital ASAP.

    3) God created us to not suffer. WE are the ones that chose sin, trashed this planet, and deserve every ounce of hell's torment prescribed for breaking God's law.

    One might say God should just give a free pass regardless. But if he broke his own law then he is neither Just nor Good. A good judge stands firm and holds to the law. A better judge holds to the law AND personally suffers the penalties of those he convicts. In that way he is still a perfect judge, is sinless, and demonstrates not an apathy for his creation but a dire love and sympathy for them and the mess they got themselves into. The door is completely open for NO

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @02:29PM (#33455790)

    Eh, science can be a religion too. Unless you're smart enough to grok shit on Hawking's level, you're really just accepting what he says on faith. Not too different from Christians accepting what their pastor or the Bible says.

    That aside, I disagree with your characterization of "mainstream" Christians. Most are normal people who aren't beating you over the head with their beliefs. The ones who get the attention are the nutjobs. This exposure system isn't restricted to religion, it's just how people work. You won't remember ever car on your way home today, but if you see a car flipped upside down and surrounded by paramedics you'll probably remember that one. Everybody likes a spectacle...

  • by strangedays (129383) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @02:46PM (#33456094)

    Being a moral atheist is a total win win, compared to being a mere Theist.

    Version 1:

    Dead Atheist: Oh!, um hi God..., didn't think you existed, oops!

    Deity: No problem, it's not like I left any useful clues... Welcome to my heaven.

    Dead Atheist: Nice... How come I qualify?

    Deity: Because you were a moral and ethical being, because you lived by a code of ethics; you understood that love was the right thing to do even in a universe that you had good reason to believe was completely and utterly godless. You were moral because you chose to be, not because you "believed" in some silly magic book; or were too scared, or weak minded, to think for yourself.
    You chose to do the right thing, even when you did not have to; you lived by a moral and honorable code, not by some mythical manifesto of terrorism and fear...

    Dead Atheist: So what happens to all the myriad god followers, "believers", the Theists, martyrs, crusaders, suicide bombers, terrorists, etc?

    Deity: Tricky one that! They are not really worth anything much, because they never thought for themselves ethically speaking... What do you suggest?
    Anyway, no hurry, they can wait outside indefinitely while you decide what to do with them. Welcome to heaven!, go pick yourself out some virgins...
    Etc...

    Version 2:

    Dead Atheist: Hello, Anyone There...! (nothing, nada, zip, zilch, silence, nope...)
    Dead Atheist: Thought So! (vanishes in a sudden total existence failure)

    So........

    Looks like a Win Win to me!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2010 @04:05PM (#33457198)

    You know, I've always had a problem with this. Why does an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent being need to have a son to scout things out and die for our sins? Why can't God just forgive us and be done with all that nonsense? I'll tell you why. It's a fairy tale ... a plagiarized amalgam of older fairy tales.

"Text processing has made it possible to right-justify any idea, even one which cannot be justified on any other grounds." -- J. Finnegan, USC.

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