• Strange Notions Strange Notions Strange Notions

The Dogmas and Failure of Rational Atheism

SamHarris

I was recently re-reading sections of what I think is one of the best and yet most under-appreciated Catholic books written in recent decades, Faith and Certitude by Father Thomas Dubay. Fr. Dubay's book is, as the title suggests, especially concerned with skepticism and unbelief, and is an excellent examination of the intellectual premises and varied attitudes held by atheists. In a chapter titled, "Clarifying Our Concepts," Fr. Dubay writes:

"Everyone is dogmatic. The statement may startle, but it is easy to demonstrate. We human beings differ not as to whether we consider ourselves infallibly right about this or that but as to what this or that may be. ... All of us have dogmas, some with good reason, some without."

This is similar to a line in G.K. Chesterton's Heretics, which indicates: "Man can be defined as an animal that makes dogmas. . . . Trees have no dogmas." A bit later Dubay states:

"Yet despite this confusion [brought about by relativism] there lurks in the human heart a deep need for what we shall call objective truth and the secure possession of it."

Simple enough, but also profound. Those statements came to mind when I stumbled upon a piece on ScientificAmerican.com titled, "Rational Atheism," which is "An open letter to Messrs. Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and Hitchens," written by Michael Shermer. Shermer is publisher of Skeptic and author of Why Darwin Matters (Henry Holt, 2006). He is not too taken with the often harsh and sensational methods of attack sometimes employed by the best-selling authors he addresses his letter to; he pleads for a more calm and reasoned approach that stresses positive thoughts and action: "I suggest that we raise our consciousness one tier higher..." And:

"Promote freedom of belief and disbelief. A higher moral principle that encompasses both science and religion is the freedom to think, believe and act as we choose, so long as our thoughts, beliefs and actions do not infringe on the equal freedom of others."

A higher moral principle....but based on what? He refers to the "golden rule," which is, if I'm not mistaken, a religious principle made famous by Jesus Christ.

Shermer ends his letter with what can only be read as an overt dogmatic statement: "Rational atheism values the truths of science and the power of reason, but the principle of freedom stands above both science and religion." I find it interesting how some atheists tend to find something out there and above us that is providing objective guidance—a "principle" in this case—but don't imagine it could be a personal Creator.

For example, Sam Harris, in his book The End of Faith, writes that there “is no reason that our ability to sustain ourselves emotionally and spiritually cannot evolve with technology, politics, and the rest of culture. Indeed, it must evolve, if we are to have any future at all.” If that isn’t an overt statement of dogmatic faith—in the necessity and inevitability of some sort of evolution—what is?

Harris's book is a rather fascinating read. Unfortunately, good reason and reasoning are rarely found, as Harris's favorite argument against "faith" and "religion" (mostly Christianity and Islam) is that religious people and beliefs are ignorant, foolish, backwards, insulting, intolerant, violent, insane, etc., etc. Every religion, he writes, “preaches the truth of propositions for which no evidence is even conceivable. This puts the ‘leap’ in Kierkegaards’ leap of faith.” And: “Religious faith represents so uncompromising a misuse of the power of our minds that it forms a kind of perverse, cultural singularity—a vanishing point beyond which rational discourse proves impossible.”

In glancing through The End of Faith once more, I noted how much it resembles a bad magic act, with the magician (the atheist author) trying to confuse the audience with a flurry of clumsy distractions (name calling; straw men; rapid fire accusations; emoting; whining) so they won't notice how poorly he performs the "trick" (makes God disappear). It is curious, for example, that a 336-page book with extensive endnotes, written by someone with a degree in philosophy who supposedly relies occasionally on philosophical arguments—and which describes Catholic doctrine and beliefs as "suggestive of mental illness"—does not contain a single reference to Thomas Aquinas. Or John Henry Newman, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Jacques Maritain, Etienne Gilson, Paul Claudel, Josef Pieper, Han Urs von Balthasar, Mortimer Adler, Hans Küng (a man I often criticize, but who wrote an 800-page book titled Does God Exist?), Romano Guardini, Richard Swinburne, Karl Rahner, William Lane Craig, Michael Novak, etc., etc. Augustine is mentioned a few times, but mostly to call him an anti-Semitic "sadist." Of Blaise Pascal: "That so nimble a mind could be led to labor under such dogma [regarding the divinity of Jesus] was surely one of the great wonders of the age."

Imagine if a theist wrote a book titled The End of Disbelief and failed to mention, say, Hume, Voltaire, Feuerbach, Nietzsche, Marx, Comte, and Sartre, with only passing reference to Darwin, Freud, and Singer. It would be roundly and rightly criticized...by Christians!

Equally revealing is this passage by Harris:

"Imagine that we could revive a well-educated Christian of the fourteenth century. The man would prove to be a total ignoramus, except on matters of faith. His beliefs about geography, astronomy, and medicine would embarrass even a child, but he would know more or less everything there is to know about God."

Here, again, it is the omission that stands out, especially from a student of philosophy. What are the famous words of Socrates? "Know thyself." Harris is so fixated on scientific and technological achievement and knowledge that he ignores the perennial greatness of self-examination and knowledge of man—who he is, how he thinks and feels, how he lives and should live, how he should treat others, etc. That is what the well-educated Christian of the fourteenth century knew far better than the average, self-absorbed, unthinking denizen of the Information Age. Of course, Aquinas spends much time in the Summa Theologica considering the nature and existence of God; but he also focuses on the nature and meaning of being human, the meaning of life, the goal of life, the what and why of ethics, and so forth. It is one reason that even non-Christians generally recognize him as a philosophical/theological genius (even if Harris is unaware of that fact).

As Fr. Dubay points out, there are three untenable conclusions "that necessarily flow from the atheistic choice." They are the belief in blind chance "as the origin of an unimaginably complex universe"; atheism's "lack of rationality and the ultimate nihilism to which it necessarily leads the consistent mind"; and, to the point I've just made, atheism's "inability to explain men and women to themselves."

Atheism, especially the popular sort offered by Harris, tends to spend much time explaining what it doesn't believe and why it hates Christianity. That might be enough for some people to live on intellectually and otherwise, but it's not enough for folks who are really grappling with the mysteries of life and reality.
 
 
(Image credit: TED)

Carl Olson

Written by

Carl E. Olson is the editor of Catholic World Report and IgnatiusInsight.com. He is the best-selling author of Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"? (Ignatius, 2003), which was selected by the Associated Press as one of the best religious titles of 2003, and co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius, 2004). He's also the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead? (Ignatius/Augustine Institute, 2016) and co-editor and contributor to Called To Be the Children of God: The Catholic Theology of Human Deification (Ignatius, 2016). Raised in a Fundamentalist home, Carl attended an Evangelical Bible college, and entered the Catholic Church in 1997. He holds an MTS from the University of Dallas. A well-respected author, Carl writes a weekly Scripture column, "Opening the Word" for Our Sunday Visitor, and has also written for First Things, This Rock/Catholic Answers Magazine, Envoy, Crisis, National Review Online, and National Catholic Register. Find Carl on Twitter @carleolson and visit him online at CarlEOlson.net.

Enjoy this article? Receive future posts free by email:

Note: Our goal is to cultivate serious and respectful dialogue. While it's OK to disagree—even encouraged!—any snarky, offensive, or off-topic comments will be deleted. Before commenting please read the Commenting Rules and Tips. If you're having trouble commenting, read the Commenting Instructions.

  • William Davis

    A higher moral principle....but based on what? He refers to the "golden rule," which is, if I'm not mistaken, a religious principle made famous by Jesus Christ.

    Just a note, these things can be easily googled. There are many much more ancient version of the Golden rule. No doubt Jesus was on board with everyone else here, and rightfully so.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Rule

    • fergalf

      Willian, No one is arguing that Jesus was first theist. If the Golden Rule in Christianity is evidence of God then the Golden Rule in islam is also evidence of God. Jesus might not have popularised it in every culture but he did in our culture.

      • William Davis

        I'm not quite sure what that has to do with my comment or the article, perhaps you can clarify.

        • fergalf

          I am just making the point the author's argument did not rely on their being only one Golden Rule

          • William Davis

            I hope you are aware that I never claimed his argument relies on anything. I'm not quite sure he's making a clear argument, just specific criticisms. I noted this issue because I personally find it a good idea to be as factual as possible with my claims and writings.

          • fergalf

            Sure.

  • William Davis

    For example, Sam Harris, in his book The End of Faith, writes that there “is no reason that our ability to sustain ourselves emotionally and spiritually cannot evolve with technology, politics, and the rest of culture. Indeed, it must evolve, if we are to have any future at all.” If that isn’t an overt statement of dogmatic faith—in the necessity and inevitability of some sort of evolution—what is?

    I'm deeply familiar with dogma and ideology and both can be highly problematic regardless of the source. Of course there are well warranted moral dogmas that most civilizations embrace (like don't kill innocent people and don't steal), but there is no need to complicate things with more complex and nuance ideology. Personally I think Harris's statement here is simply one of fact. It would be dogmatic if Harris proposed that he has the ultimate solution to all the world's problems, and I don't think he's doing that (though I do think he focuses excessively on religion when he should be more focused on the dangers of ideology itself). Human civilization has some very deep systemic problems that cannot be resolved with current thinking, though getting to the right solutions is extremely difficult. With regard to the evolution of morality, it has clearly evolved even in Christendom itself. Treatment of the Jews, doctrines on slavery and usury are obvious surface examples.
    One thing we all need in a moral compass is concern about existential risks. I think the pretense that "God will save us" is a very dangerous bet when considering all the things that could wipe our species off the map. Isn't thinking about and working to ensure species preservation a moral imperative that isn't included in traditional religion?

  • William Davis

    Harris is so fixated on scientific and technological achievement and knowledge that he ignores the perennial greatness of self-examination and knowledge of man—who he is, how he thinks and feels, how he lives and should live, how he should treat others, etc. That is what the well-educated Christian of the fourteenth century knew far better than the average, self-absorbed, unthinking denizen of the Information Age.

    This might be somewhat true of elite clergy and philosophers, but I'm completely confident that it was not true of the average worker of the time period. The average worker had no time to ponder such things because he could barely make ends meat. Perhaps a familiarization with the actual history of the time period (not just the philosophy) would be helpful here. Monks and clergy were an exception to the rule (and I can guarantee you I have a much better understanding of the human mind than they did...I find the subject of great interest and have an enormous amount of knowledge at my disposal).

    • Actually, I disagree that even the clergy would have had anything like accurate answers to these questions.

      "Who he is"? Don't really know what is meant by this. But he certainly would have been largely ignorant as to what he is, particularly his close connection to other animals and indeed all life.

      "How he thinks and feels"? He would have been utterly ignorant that this was largely governed by the organ in his head, but would have thought that his heart and particularly his bowels were the seat of his passions. He would have had virtually no understanding of even a concept of psychology. He would have thought demons, curses and witches were responsible for what we know know are understand are mental disorders and indeed most of nature.

      "How he should and shouldn't live?" He would likely have thought men superior to women. The idea of representative government ridiculous. He would likely have been racist and anti-Semitic and above all had no time for this alien idea of religious freedom. He would have believed that the clergy have special powers, that corporal punishment is fine, even entertaining. That torture and burning to death of heretics was a virtuous practice. That wars of conquest were fine.

      And all of this would have been more or less agreed by the clergy.

      • William Davis

        Well, I agree with you on a lot, but I think many don't give Aquinas enough credit. Even if they were way off about organs and spirits, that doesn't mean they didn't get a lot right (in my and many other people's opinions) about the nature of the human mind. I know full well that my mind is what my brain does, but when I think about thinking itself, the material brain is just a distraction (this is not to say that we don't know much more now thanks to neurology). Are we giving these guys too much credit? Maybe, maybe not. I definitely see what Catholics see in Aquinas.

        Modern rationalism sealed off the mind from such ideas, eradicating the hidden forces of nature and subduing the power of the imagination. But it was Aquinas and his scholastic contemporaries who set in motion this transformation in the order of western knowledge, when they married philosophy to theology. Aquinas might have been appalled to know that eventually the scaffolding of reason would no longer rest on the bedrock of faith, but he played a significant role in erecting that scaffolding. That is why, despite his medieval context, we might acknowledge him as a father of modernity.

        http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2012/feb/06/thomas-aquinas-mind-as-soul

        I can give Aquinas plenty more props from where this came from, and there were many Thomists during the time period in question. Things were much worse before Aquinas merged philosophy with theology, even though we both probably agree we only need the philosophy and the theology is superfluous.

        • The article had in the last paragraph: "the being of God is the doing of the world".which ironically can be contrasted with the current scientist reductionism: "the mind is what the brain does".
          Interesting: huh!

        • Credit where it is due, Aquinas was a good philosopher. But I would give much more credit to the Greeks, it is there that we find not only a tremendous variety of philosophy, including the foundation of all western thought. But also feats of mathmatics, geometry, art, and particularly theatre.

          Compared to this background the worldview of the medievil Europeans was in my estimation rather dim and narrow.

          • William Davis

            No argument from me. Aquinas drew heavily from Aristotle.

    • The 'knowledge' to make 'ends' MEAT!!!! :)

      • William Davis

        Basic needs must be met before even the brightest mind would pay any attention to philosophy ;)

  • William Davis

    Atheism, especially the popular sort offered by Harris, tends to spend much time explaining what it doesn't believe and why it hates Christianity. That might be enough for some people to live on intellectually and otherwise, but it's not enough for folks who are really grappling with the mysteries of life and reality.

    Thanks for the qualifier about Harris. He is not representative of most atheists by any means, and I do think he proposes an oversimplification of reality. That said, plenty of atheists grapple with the mysteries of life and reality, and do an excellent job with it.

  • No, Harris' comment that our ability to sustain ourselves must evolve is not an endorsement of dogmatic faith. What is? The statement "the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error" is. "The bible says, I believe it, that settles it" is. The large number of people who would reject the conclusions of science if they contradicted tenets of their faith, is dogmatic faith.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      Maybe I'm unclear as to what "dogma" means. Why is Harris not dogmatic but the quote about the inerrancy of Scripture is?

      • I also understand that the Dogma of the Catholic Church is solely what beliefs are held onto as said in the Credo at mass. One person actually told me that that was all that was necessary to be a Catholic - to 'Believe' in the 'Dogma' of the Nicene Creed. !!

        • Kevin Aldrich

          That's funny. I guess I don't have to worry about obeying the ten commandments anymore!

          • Isn't it wonderful when one's life is 'simplified'. You just have to listen to the 'right' 'dogma' from the most knowing strangers that pass your way!!!

          • Ged Eduard Narvaez

            Not quite right. For it is said "I believe...In Jesus Christ, His only begotten...I believe in the Holy Catholic Church...". (that's not is it?)

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I don't understand your comment. I hope you picked up that mine was ironic.

      • Fair enough, I suppose if any use of the word "must" is dogmatic. I would say dogma is a position that is unquestionable. I think Harris would agree that even his statement should be questioned, and he would be open to changing his mind if presented with convincing evidence. I suppose Catholics may say the same thing. But of put to them do you really believe the Pope would be open to agreeing that the Bible could contain errors and Catholicism still be true?

        • Kevin Aldrich

          I agree with you that what Catholics believe about the inerrancy of the Scriptures is dogmatic but this believe certainly included plenty of debate.

          Here is a good summation: https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=8441

          • Thanks Kevin. I will grant you that Catholicism does justify its dogma and that this concept of dogmatic religious faith applied by many atheist counter apologists is often a straw man. See Secular Outposts long series on the Christian use of the word faith. It is more like a trusting.

            It is not an issue I would attack believers on, nor should theists complain that atheists use faith to justify their beliefs.

            I think this issue was well discussed by the opening of the new Cosmos, I which Tyson complained not about religion, but of dogma. Certainly even "never be dogmatic" could be considered a dogma, so we need to be fair. But the concern is over institutions that prohibit freedom of expression of divergent or unorthodox ideas. What was his name Bruno? The church burned him for heretical ideas that to some extent have been vindicated. cosmos portrayed this as a tyrannical and close-minded oppression, which certainly we see it to be today. But I this is premised on the modern understanding that Bruno's ideas were harmless. I don't think medievil Catholics thought that. There may well have been simply an autocratic tyranny going on there, but I am open to the prospect that The Catholics that burned him really did think his ideas were dangerous and harmful and that they were burning out a demon.

            I think that many religions including Catholicism accept free enquiry and may even be open to following the evidence where it leads. This is certainly the point of view expressed by many commenters on this site. We can agree to criticize those like Ken Ham who essentially take the medievil view. I just think Catholicism needs to go a step further and question its traditions as well and accept that its views on natural theology are largely circular and arguments from ignorance.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            If Catholic views on natural theology are invalid that needs to be demonstrated philosophically. There are hundreds of doctoral-level Catholic philosophers who would hotly dispute your conclusion.

            My own take on Giordano Bruno was that he was a brilliant man suffering from some kind of deep psychological disorder (I know some people like that today), but no one at the time had to resources to see that, so he was just considered a danger to society.

            While it is understandable why in the past people were punished for holding ideas considered wrong, we should not consider ourselves so superior, since the same thing is going on today.

          • You are inherently reasonable Kevin. Happy to debate the natural theology, which continued to be hotly disputed.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            That would work if I were a Catholic philosopher. I'm just a Catholic.

        • reasonous thinking

          Actually you were right the first time.

          >in his book The End of Faith, writes that there “is no reason that our ability to sustain ourselves emotionally and spiritually cannot evolve with technology, politics, and the rest of culture. Indeed, it must evolve, if we are to have any future at all

          This isn't dogmatic, it is self-evidently true. Our ability to sustain ourselves emotionally and spiritually *necessarily* evolves in relation to changes in our everyday experience.

          • William Davis

            In general I agree with you, but I'd be careful about the use of "self-evident". You'd be surprised how many people don't get this, thus it may not be self-evident to some people (primarily those who know little to nothing of history). I'd say specifically that it is observationally true at the very least from a study of history, even Christian history. Not a big deal overall, just a pet peeve about using "self-evident". Too many people claim the existence of God is "self-evident" for example ;)

          • Ged Eduard Narvaez

            So we see -that A *necessarily* evolves in relation to B is termed *self-evidently true* ?

          • reasonous thinking

            Yes. It shouldn't need explanation, as A arises from B (among other things). This is, linquistically, quite straightforward. Those that would try to claim a dogma is being built here are essentially playing games with words.

    • I believe 'dogma' was 'defined' in about the age of Kant: as 'word' without evidence or relation to empirical fact. But then too, even political ideologies, as well as say the philosophy even of Hegel, and even many of the posting/comments on this and the other site, can be, (my opinion) regarded as mere 'Dogma'. (End of dogmatic utterance!)

      • Ladolcevipera

        In ancient Greek philosophy "dogma" is the opposite of "episteme". "Dogma" is based on opinions and is of no importance, "episteme" is knowledge/science. Hence the term epistemology.

        • I've just been doing a bit more reading on Aristotle - my project of making comparisons and hopefully resolutions between Modern and Ancient philosophies. Interestingly enough, yes the Aristotelian notion of episteme does indeed refer to 'science' per se. But there is also the interesting concept - endoxic. This refers to the collection of the best 'opinions' possible, as some sort of basis from which to examine 'evidence' scientifically. The doxic in endoxic suggests to me an originating source of the word 'dogma'. Actually I just Googled this and yes, there is a connection. The articles are long though, but look like an interesting read. Will do. But from what I read, within the political sphere dogma is associated with 'good' leadership contrasted with basing the political authority on a poor kind of necessity which denies freedom. (i.e. against authoritarian government?) This comment, of course, is not adequate to the scope presented in these articles.
          I am always amazed when I discover another evolution within the use of terminology.. Dogma, like any principle (like the principles of non-contradiction, identity, and excluded middle) can not be 'substantiated'. Politically they 'should be' worthy of belief as they are the 'opinion' of good, wise, 'rulers'? but are not 'necessary,' truth in the sense that that can be verified by logical proof: as in (We take these 'truths' to be 'self-evident':) In the case of epistemic knowledge like in science today, the doxic (as in theory) is related to empirical fact. (My opinion!).....

  • I am sorry that Mr Olson does not like The End of Faith, I didn't find it a particular good argument for atheism either. But this by no means demonstrates the end of rational atheism.

    To do so, we need to deal with the actual issues in dispute. Foremost is the lack of persuasive evidence for the existence of any gods. There is also the evidential problems of evil and suffering. The argument of non-god objects. The argument from divine hiddenness.

    Let's not raise reviews of books that were published many years ago and complain that they don't address the issues we want to discuss. Let's deal with the best arguments the other side has.

    Serious intellectual, philosophical discussion on religious apologetics are not hard to find. See the Patheos blog "secular outpost". Watch Justin Scheiber's debates. listen to those with Jeffrey Jay Lauder. Listen to Reasonable Doubts.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      What is the argument of non-god objects?

      • William Davis

        I was uncertain of that myself, I found this:

        http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/2013/07/13/non-god-objects/

        • Kevin Aldrich

          Thanks. That is one of the dumbest arguments against God I have ever heard!

          • William Davis

            Lol, I'm not that impressed either.

          • Vicq Ruiz

            I don't think it's a particularly good argument against God. I do think it's a plausible argument against God's supposedly unchanging nature.

            It is difficult to read the Bible and not come to the conclusion that [God plus nothing] is a less satisfactory state of affairs for God than is [God plus cosmos plus humans].

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I don't follow you.

          • VicqRuiz

            Sorry, I really didn't think this one needed more explanation.

            The Bible is so chock full of references to God's "desiring" this, or God's being "pleased by" that, or God in general reacting to the choices made by men, that it seemed obvious to me than sans cosmos, God's mental state would be a good deal different than it apparently is.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            @George, too:

            Fr. Schall just wrote this in regard to the Pope's encyclical Laudato si'. I think it addresses your concern:

            Creation was not necessary. [1]. God did not need to create. [2]. He created a total order as a gift. The divine plan was to work itself out in the fullness of time for His end. The race of rational beings, though essential to it, was not created for the sake of the earth. Man had both natural and a supernatural purpose.

            Normally, this purpose is held to be the association of other rational beings in God’s inner or Trinitarian life. The cosmos was seen to be created in the Word through the Spirit. This end meant that within the cosmos, as the Pope notes, we find a reflection of the Trinitarian life in every existing being. Ultimately, this reflection is really what natural law implies. Man was free to work out his response to the gift of his salvation. It could not be imposed on him. Hence, a certain uncertainty hovers about the way each man will decide. The final judgment, as Plato already saw, arose from this possibility of choosing for or against God..

            Man was to have “dominion” over creation. By being what each thing is in itself, the cosmos and the earth were created as an arena in which man was to work out his life’s meaning. His final end, which was itself a gift beyond his natural powers, was not this world. But he was to work out his salvation in this world. In this sense, he did have something to do in this world that was so important that it affected his final transcendent end. This is the meaning of giving a cup of water or clothing to the thirsty and the naked. http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/3970/concerning_the_ecological_path_to_salvation.aspx

          • VicqRuiz

            I don't think that Fr. Schall's article really answers my point.

            But it is a superb critique of Laudato si', says many things that have been on my mind, but worded far more elegantly than could I.

            I will be looking for more of his writing.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Fr. Schall is 87 (he retired two years ago from Georgetown). I think you will be looking back on his writings more than forward (although his mind could not be sharper, obviously)!

          • VicqRuiz

            Let me try another approach to a modified version of the "non-god objects" question.

            Is it true, under Catholicism, that Adam had a real choice? That he and his descendants might have instead lived sinless for all eternity? It seems that it has to be possible, for otherwise Calvinist determinism must be true.

            And in that alternate reality, where no Law and no Redeemer was ever required, would the nature of God, particularly that of the second person of the Trinity, be identical to what the Church now holds it to be?

            It seems hard to substantiate a"yes" answer, other than by saying "well, it would be identical because we believe that God's nature is unchanging and is unaffected by his creation." Which does beg the question just a bit.....

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I thought the "non-God objects" argument tries to prove that God would not choose to create anything because that would be "less perfect" than just-God-and-nothing-else?

            I do think it is a very interesting question you ask: "If God's nature has changed in any way due to the Incarnation"?

            I don't know the answer to that.

          • VicqRuiz

            I did stretch the argument a little. If Adam's fall was unavoidable, then there is no question that a universe with God alone is more perfect than a universe with imperfect humans in it.

            Do you think the fall was unavoidable??

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I definitely think the fall was avoidable. But regardless, a perfect universe is not required.

          • SattaMassagana

            Where does it fail, in your opinion?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            From William Davis' link we read:

            An omniscient being would be aware of the fact that himself existing alone for eternity as GodWorld is the unique best possible world that could ever exist, and because God is essentially morally perfect, he couldn’t have a motivating reason to intentionally alter the overall maximal purity and, therefore, the quality of the unique best possible world – because any alteration in overall purity by the introduction of a universe or any Non-God object, would, by necessity, be a degradation of overall purity and, therefore, overall quality. God wouldn’t introduce limited entities each with their own unimpressive set of degraded great-making properties like the creation myth of Genesis records. While Adam and Eve clearly do have great-making properties (knowledge, power), they have them to an unimpressive degree and so introducing such beings would result in a degradation of overall ontological purity and, therefore, a degradation of overall ontological quality. To suggest God is in the degrading business is to suggest he wasn’t maximally great in the first place.

            God is not in any way required to create a perfect world.

          • SattaMassagana

            I don't think that addresses the argument, the argument is asking: what motivating reason would a perfect being have for making something less than perfect? It sounds like you're saying, "because it can" , I guess, but why would it?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Out of love. To share his happiness.

          • SattaMassagana

            Needs to? Wants to?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            There is no need involved. "Decides to" works.

          • George

            And why decide to rather than not?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            God has no needs to fill.

          • Kraker Jak

            The need for compassion seems to be not within Him.
            Assuming that we are made in the image and likeness of god, why would we feel the instinct or need of exhibiting compassion?

          • George

            So is there, at bottom, a reason for God to do anything?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about why God creates:

            III. “The World Was Created for the Glory of God”

            293 Scripture and Tradition never cease to teach and celebrate this fundamental truth: “The world was made for the glory of God.”134 St. Bonaventure explains that God created all things “not to increase his glory, but to show it forth and to communicate it,”135 for God has no other reason for creating than his love and goodness: “Creatures came into existence when the key of love opened his hand.”136 The First Vatican Council explains: (337, 344, 1361, 759)

            This one, true God, of his own goodness and “almighty power,” not for increasing his own beatitude, nor for attaining his perfection, but in order to manifest this perfection through the benefits which he bestows on creatures, with absolute freedom of counsel “and from the beginning of time, made out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal....”137

            294 The glory of God consists in the realization of this manifestation and communication of his goodness, for which the world was created. God made us “to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace,”138 for “the glory of God is man fully alive; moreover man’s life is the vision of God: if God’s revelation through creation has already obtained life for all the beings that dwell on earth, how much more will the Word’s manifestation of the Father obtain life for those who see God.”139 The ultimate purpose of creation is that God “who is the creator of all things may at last become ‘all in all,’ thus simultaneously assuring his own glory and our beatitude.”140 (2809, 1722, 1992)

          • Kraker Jak

            @ Satta & George.He seems to be happy with the status quo re sufferiing and injustice....and since he can do as he pleases and is under no obligation to anyone....suck it up....after all he is god! and owes us no explanation you worm;-)

          • Rudy R

            So if I understand you clearly, God had a profoundly tender, passionate affection for an imaginary person, so he created that person to share his happiness with that person.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Why do you word it this way: "a profoundly tender, passionate affection for an imaginary person"?

          • Rudy R

            Your response to SattaMassagana's question "what motivating reason would a perfect being have for making something less than perfect?," was "Out of love. To share his happiness." Your comment implied that God had love for man (a person), so he created man to share his happiness. Before man was created, he was only a imagination in God's mind. And that love for an imaginary man was the reason he created that man, thus sharing his happiness with man.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Okay. I agree with that with certain stipulations, like God does not have an actual imagination (only physical beings who take in knowledge through their senses have imaginations); God is outside of, not in, time; and tenderness and passion are attributes of physical beings and apply to God only by analogy.

          • Rudy R

            Then by your implication, love would be an attribute of physical beings and would apply to God only by analogy.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            There are, of course, different kinds of love. One of them, charity, is willing the true good of the other. I think this is one which man shares with God. Maybe no analogy in this case.

          • Rudy R

            Different kinds of love are still love, and as you stipulated, is an attribute of physical beings and would apply to God only by analogy. Seems you are arbitrarily deciding which is an analogy and which is not and is the equivalent of special pleading. There may be a counter argument for the argument of non-god objects, but you don't have one.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I love ice cream because it tastes good. It actually delights a number of my senses. But when the Scriptures say, "God takes delight in his people," his delight must a analogous to human sensual delight, since God does not have physical senses. But willing the good of the other does not require the senses in the same way.

            So it is not arbitrary.

            I did not bring it up as an argument for non-God objects. My basic argument against this non-God argument is that nothing prohibits God from creating an imperfect universe.

          • Rudy R

            You may disagree with the argument, because of your own religious intuitions, but you haven't proven the argument to be not valid and not sound. All you've done is cite your religion's creed as proof that refutes the argument, but it's no more effective than any other religious creed. You stated that the motivation for your god to create an imperfect being was his love for man and to share his happiness with man. Wouldn't a perfect god create a perfect being and have accomplished the same love and happiness for man?

          • Kevin Aldrich

            > You may disagree with the argument, because of your own religious intuitions, but you haven't proven the argument to be not valid and not sound.

            I don't agree with the argument because its premise is false that God is required to only tolerate perfection.

            Also, you should not ascribe motives to people you are ignorant of.

            > All you've done is cite your religion's creed as proof that refutes the argument, but it's no more effective than any other religious creed.

            I've cited the Catholic belief that God's creative act is gratuitous because that provides a reason why God is not required in any way to create.

            Also, saying all religious creeds are not "effective" sounds like abuse on your part.

            > Wouldn't a perfect god create a perfect being and have accomplished the same love and happiness for man?

            That is irrelevant to the non-God-objects argument. That argument claims that God would never create something that was less perfect than the God-only world.

          • Rudy R

            My question may be irrelevant to the non-God-objects argument, but it's not relevant for a response? Wouldn't it be logical for a perfect god to create a perfect being vs an imperfect being?

          • Phil Rimmer

            But here's the trick Rudy. Apologists tinker with the attributes of God like a valve to let the credulous in and keep the incredulous out.

            "tenderness and passion are attributes of physical beings and apply to God only by analogy."

            Gods love like physical entities (like fathers no less!) but anything else that proves awkward has the emotional drawbridge pulled up and mystery draped over. Nothing to see. Move on please.

            Feeling emotionally vulnerable and needy and off come the covers again, to hear a full account of how God thinks about you.

            Does Kevin berate fellow Catholics when they do this? I hope he does...

          • Kevin Aldrich

            Yes it would be logical. But for something to be logical does not mean it is also necessary.

            Catechism of the Catholic Church: 310

            But why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better. But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world “in a state of journeying” toward its ultimate perfection. In God’s plan this process of becoming involves the appearance of certain beings and the disappearance of others, the existence of the more perfect alongside the less perfect, both constructive and destructive forces of nature. With physical good there exists also physical evil as long as creation has not reached perfection.

          • Rudy R

            If it's logical for a perfect god to create a perfect being, then it's necessary for a perfect god to create a perfect being, because to do otherwise would not be sound reasoning and would not be a property of a perfect god .
            You've repeated the Catechism of the Catholic Church in several responses, but is this your position because it reflects your worldview or because it's expected of you as a member of the Catholic Church? Becoming institutionalized isn't a good pathway for maximizing more true beliefs and minimizing more false beliefs, whether in religion or the scientific community. This Catechism reflects the natural state of affairs that one would expect in a natural world without a god, that is, an imperfect world, with imperfect beings do good and bad.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            @robrudolph:disqus, I've already pointed out that not everything that is logical is necessary.

            Spare me your psychoanalysis. Would you like me to ascribe motives to why you think the way you do beyond that you think your ideas are true?

          • Rudy R

            OK, we agree that your god does not employ logic.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I conclude you are not interested in a civil dialogue.

          • William Davis

            What would a perfect world look like anyway? The word perfect needs some kind of context or comparables in my opinion.

      • Very briefly it is the argument that creating the universe, humanity in particular,could only create flaws in perfection. It creates the potential for evil. If creation is a choice and god is perfect, then creation can only introduce imperfections, evil, suffering into the cosmos.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          Yeah. I looked up the argument.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          I would like to see an OP here presenting and defending that position because it seems to me one of the oddest formulations I've ever seen. (Or as I said below, undiplomatically, "That is one of the dumbest arguments against God I have ever heard!")

          • I'll write one up. Maybe hit it on the podcast. But I doubt Brandon will publish anything by me because I use a pseudonym. Maybe you can steel man it and we can have the discussion.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            What does "steel man" mean?

          • It's the opposite of straw man. You set out the strongest version of your opponent's argument and show why that fails. Google Julia Gelef and steel man.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            I like that. I'll think about doing that.

  • Kevin Aldrich

    As Fr. Dubay points out, there are three untenable conclusions "that necessarily flow from the atheistic choice." They are the belief in blind chance "as the origin of an unimaginably complex universe"; atheism's "lack of rationality and the ultimate nihilism to which it necessarily leads the consistent mind"; and, to the point I've just made, atheism's "inability to explain men and women to themselves."

    I think it would be great to have an OP that explained and defended those three points rather than just adverting to them.

    • David Nickol

      I agree. What seemed to begin as a promising OP devolved into yet another attack on Sam Harris and other "new atheists." I am really not very interested in the "new atheists," but I rather suspect they would be pleased to know how much they irk many Christian apologists. How secure are people in their faith when someone like Sam Harris can so easily ruffle their feathers?

    • Michael Murray

      Agreed. Particularly the last two which seem to be a variant of "this idea is going to give me indigestion therefore it must be wrong". I never did find the appeal to consequences appealing. The first seems equally wrong. There are many things an atheist can say about the origins of the universe. Not least being that perhaps the concept of origin makes no sense applied to the universe.

      • Kevin Aldrich

        Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying those could not be great arguments; rather, they are just claims that are not defended or even explained.

        • They are merely 'self-evident'!!!!

        • Michael Murray

          I understand. Likewise I'm not commenting on these arguments because there aren't any. I'm just commenting on previous arguments I've seen that produce similar conclusions.

  • Ladolcevipera

    Good God, I can't believe what I read. Is Mr. Olson serious or is this a mockery of atheism? There is a difference you know between anti-theism and a-theism. Anti-theism can indeed be as militant, as insulting and as dogmatic as catholic fundamentalism can be .
    A-theists (and I am one of them) merely state that, for them and after giving the question a lot of thought, there aren't sufficient reasons to believe in a God. Almost all of them are (very) tolerant with regard to other opinions. Many of them (I for one) have studied religion because they are genuinely interested in faith, but didn't find what they are looking for. So, atheist-bashing isn't very helpful. More-over it is intellectual unfair to quote offensive statements of noted anti-theists as being representative for atheism.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      What is Catholic fundamentalism?

      I'll grant that the Catholic faith is dogmatic in the good sense--we have distinct teachings, which is what dogma is.

      Deliberately insulting someone is anti-Catholic and a moral failure.

      • Ladolcevipera

        I am not sure how to interprete your answer. Who is insulting whom?
        And is "dogmatic in the good sense" referring to the same teachings that killed people for challenging it or disobeying it?

        • Kevin Aldrich

          I meant that Catholics should not deliberatly insult others. (Nobody should.)

          A dogma is simply a defined teaching.

          I don't think it has ever been a dogma of the Catholic faith that people who challenge or disobey the faith should be killed. It has certainly been a practice, which comes under prudence (and you might rightly argue that it has always been imprudent).

      • Kraker Jak

        What is Catholic fundamentalism?

        "As we understand The Loving Programmer’s power, we realize that the Fundamentalists are right—Scripture should be taken as literally as possible. The Roman Catholic Church has been His chosen repository for faithful Christians since the beginning."
        http://catholicfundamentalism.com/

        • Kevin Aldrich

          This just some guy on his own, KJ.

          • Kraker Jak

            Granted.

      • Ladolcevipera

        What is Catholic fundamentalism?

        One is a fundamentalist when one interprets the Bible (or the Coran, or any other holy text for that matter) literally and takes this literal interpretation as the criterion to judge and to act. The Bible was written in a specific period of time, in a specific cultural context. The important thing is to try and understand what biblical principles mean to-day. That is why hermeneutics are very important as a tool of biblical exegesis. Fortunately not only christians but also prominent muslims (cf Tariq Ramadan) advocate hermeneutics.

        Catholic faith is dogmatic in the good sense

        I grant you that "dogma" and "inquisition" or "persecution of heretics" are not interchangeable terms. Nevertheless the term "dogma" has an unsavoury connotation. That is probably why our Faculty of Theology does not call its basic course "dogmatic theology" but "systematic theology".

        Deliberately insulting someone is anti-Catholic and a moral failure.

        Agreed. It is also known as "bad manners"

        • Kevin Aldrich

          Yes, "dogma" has negative connotation, but so do many other precise terms that need to be rehabilitated, like prudence, temperance, chastity, . . . disorder.

          • Ladolcevipera

            That is very true although there is a difference. Whether one wants it or not, the term "dogma" recalls the atrocities that were committed in the name of faith. I am not saying that atrocities are inherent in faith; faith can very well be used to serve other interests. I would be very reluctant to rehabilitate the term "dogma". Not so for prudence, temperance etc.

          • Kevin Aldrich

            That sense of the word might be true for you but I can't imagine the RCC ever dropping it.

          • Ladolcevipera

            That is the RCC's prerogative. I won't argue with that.

    • neil_ogi

      yes, atheists don't believe in God, and yet because they have no plausible answer as to the origin of life, they invoke the atheist-of-the-gap, the ALIENS did it! what's the difference between a God and an alien? ..maybe the spelling!

      • Ladolcevipera

        Of course the aliens did it! We asked E.T. and he confirmed they did it. But he refused to tell how and why. So we are still in the dark, but that is okay with me. I do not need a "deus ex machina"

        • neil_ogi

          atheists don't believe in God, and yet because they have no plausible answer as to the origin of life, they invoke the atheist-of-the-gap, the ALIENS did it! what's the difference between a God and an alien?

          • Ladolcevipera

            ???

          • neil_ogi

            you just mocked me and i just answered you with repeat question.

          • Ladolcevipera

            I mocked you because you made a mockery of atheism, and I resent unfounded, unjustied attacks. You want a serious answer to a flippant question? Very well, here it is. When I said "He refused to tell how and why. So, we are still in the dark" I meant it. As an agnostic/atheist I say that we do not have knowledge of (the existence) of God. God is a question of faith, Religious people have that faith and I respect that. I do not share the same faith, nor am I - on intellectual grounds - prepared the make the big leap into faith. I wish you respected my atheism as I respect people who believe in God.

          • neil_ogi

            did i attack atheists and you 'unjustifiedly'?? where's the flippant questions i made? if atheists,agnostics can't explain things, then they should just answer 'i don't know'.. and atheists/agnostics have no rights to proclaim they have the truth.. that science covers them. God is not a question of faith, early biblical writers affirmed His existence 2,000 years ago.. or even if there are no witnesses, i can know that there exists a supernatural deity because life exists (life can't evolve from non-living matter, and yet these stubborn atheists still insist it is possible - where are the evidences/)..

            quote: 'eligious people have that faith and I respect that' --then why are you here in SN..spreading your lies? if you want to be respected, then don't mock theists and me. ad homs are classic attitudes of atheists. i never post comments on atheists' sites because i respect their belief systems

            i just ask atheists several questions..and they gave me no reasonable and rattional answers.

          • Ladolcevipera

            This is not a dialogue but a rant. Since we seem to be in a different league I won't bother to answer you anymore.

          • neil_ogi

            then go to your own atheist site. you are free to post comments here and not ad homs.

            i can't figure it out why atheists, in general, and like you are talking about respect. you are morally imbecile, you must know that! you are like, as always, the 4 prominent atheist leaders: Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens

          • Michael Murray

            you are like, as always, the 4 prominent atheist leaders: Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens

            Wow Ladolcevipera has been promoted to Four horse personhood. Way to go !

          • neil_ogi

            i didn't elevate his status. like the 4 leading atheist apologists, most atheists are like them (always ad hom, not sticking to the issues, imaginative thinkers, laws of science breakers)

          • Michael Murray

            you are free to post comments here and not ad homs.

            is followed by

            you are morally imbecile

            Lucky I set my irony meter to fully damped before reading this site or I'd have lost another one.

          • neil_ogi

            quote: 'you are morally imbecile' --of course, since atheists do not believe in objective morality, then what morality do you have? you believe you just came from slime so be it

          • neil_ogi

            rant? i only ask atheists about:

            1. the universe from 'nothing'? is that a rant?
            2. evolution - how a fish can survive even a minute or two in the atmospheric air? is that a rant?
            3. no meaning, no purpose in life?
            4. fine-tuning
            5. objective morality
            6. tiny dot that evolve into a universe. - are all these questions rant?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            are all these questions rant?

            Yes, most definitely.

          • neil_ogi

            why?
            i'd like to know why?

          • Michael Murray

            All these questions have answers you can find easily on the internet. The fact that you refuse to look up those answers or follow the links you have already been given leads me to draw the conclusion that you are posing them as some form of rhetorical device. For some reason that escapes me and I think the other atheists here you think that asking these questions is some form of winning gambit in some argument. Where did you get them Answers in Genesis ? Your priest ? Bubble gum wrapper ?

            PS Answer to 3 is there is no purpose or meaning in life other than what we make ourselves. The universe cares not one jot about your or me or any other living being.

          • neil_ogi

            quote: 'All these questions have answers you can find easily on the internet.' - so you have no 'stock knowledge' to explain some in plain language, and you heavily depend on internet! if i ask a scientist why there are many colors in the rainbow,, and he just answer 'search the internet'.. so we don't need any schools now if teachers will just say 'search google' or 'search the internet' ...

            i'm so interested to know why those (ex: a universe from nothing) is a kind of rant question? you didn't provide explanation!

            if there is no purpose and meaning in life, then why care posting comments here? why, if you have a family, care for them? (a bags of chemicals caring with another bags of chemicals?).

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Because either
            A) The questions are often poorly formed and ambiguous.
            B) The answers to some of the questions are unknowable presently, which is not evidence for the Abrahamic God. You seem to think that a lack of an answer to a question to means that your answer is correct.
            C) The questions woefully misrepresent science.
            D) The questions have basic answers or rebuttals that you ignore.

          • neil_ogi

            quote: 'A) The questions are often poorly formed and ambiguous.' -- if the question, is the universe came from nothing? is this a RANT question?

            quote: 'B) The answers to some of the questions are unknowable presently, which is not evidence for the Abrahamic God. You seem to think that a lack of an answer to a question to means that your answer is correct.-- how did you know that Abrahamic God doesn't exists? there were thousands of ancient manuscripts that testify the evidence for His Existence, not counting the origin of life and the universe.

            if atheists don't know the origin of the universe, they just say 'we don't know'..it only means that you have just answer the question.

            quote: 'C) The questions woefully misrepresent science.-- this is the most stupid, non-sense statement i ever read. so the question, is the universe came from nothing? does it misrepresent science? your ignorance has shown up..just like your pseudo-name 'ignatius reilly'

            quote: 'D) The questions have basic answers or rebuttals that you ignore.' --yes atheists have answer: even your well-known physicist has published a book, explaining that a 'nothing' has many creative power/properties. i did rebut that claim. will you subject a 'nothing' to a lab???

          • Ignatius Reilly

            if the question, is the universe came from nothing? is this a RANT question?

            It is a question that we do not know the answer to. Perhaps the universe always existed. Perhaps it came from something that we do not understand. This does not point to a God and it certainly does not point to your particular god.

            how did you know that Abrahamic God doesn't exists? there were thousands of ancient manuscripts that testify the evidence for His Existence, not counting the origin of life and the universe.

            I don't really wish to rehash every reason I think the Abrahamic God does not exist. I would point out that there are ancient manuscripts testifying for the existence of all sorts of things. We don't believe in the Hindu gods.
            You don't understand evolution and are repeating tired creationist myths. Do you know why we would not expect fossils to appear before the Cambrian period?

          • neil_ogi

            quote: 'It is a question that we do not know the answer to. Perhaps the universe always existed. Perhaps it came from something that we do not understand. This does not point to a God and it certainly does not point to your particular god.' -- my question is, is this a rant question?? if the universe has no known cause, then atheists have no rights to declare they have the right answer or the truth. why atheists are so afraid when scientists detect 'design' in the structure of the universe and life? does that mean that it does point to a God/gods? why atheistic scientists always answer 'chance did it' 'unguided and blind processes did it'.. why are they afraid of the terms 'design did it' ' guided and unblinded processes did it'??

            quote: 'I don't really wish to rehash every reason I think the Abrahamic God does not exist. I would point out that there are ancient manuscripts testifying for the existence of all sorts of things.' -- these are the early evidences ancient men have ever witnessed. all the claims are well tallied with each claims. do you have any eyewitnesses that ever saw the origin of the universe, the origin of life, the origin of your LUCA?

            quote: 'You don't understand evolution and are repeating tired creationist myths.' -- that's why i beg from your atheist friends to discuss it with me. all you do is 'search google'.. if you don't know how to explain it then why you believe it as true? if an ardent atheists like you can't even explain it, then why you believe it? atheism creation myths

            quote: 'Do you know why we would not expect fossils to appear before the Cambrian period?' -- then tell me (i have already answered that, would you like me to discuss it with you?)

          • Doug Shaver

            you just mocked me

            You're telling us what we believe after we've told you we don't believe it. You deserve as much mockery as those Protestants who say that Catholics worship Mary.

          • neil_ogi

            quote: 'after we've told you we don't believe it.' -- so atheists don't believe in abiogenesis? aliens? panspermia? a universe just 'pop' from nothing?... so what are your beliefs then??

          • Doug Shaver

            so what are your beliefs then??

            Where, and for how long, have you been looking for the answer to that question?

          • neil_ogi

            you denied that the universe is eternal, just 'pop' , big bang -- then what?

            you denied that the aliens created life, abiogenesis - then what?

          • Doug Shaver

            You're evading my question. Why should I answer any of yours?

      • Doug Shaver

        they invoke the atheist-of-the-gap, the ALIENS did it!

        That man is made of pure straw. I am an atheist. I don't believe aliens did it, and I have never met an atheist who does believe aliens did it.

        • neil_ogi

          you say so!

          io9.com/5918189/could-panspermia-have-created-life-on-earth

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.../aliens-send-space-seed-to-earth_n_6608582. html

          http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread1056456/pg1

          and many more. just search the google

          i am thinking that atheists here are just ardent deniers. just admit and you're nothing to lose!

          • Doug Shaver

            you say so!

            Yes. I'm saying that I don't believe what you say atheists believe. I'm also telling you that I have never met an atheist who believes what you say atheists believe. None of your links contains any information to the contrary.

          • neil_ogi

            so how many atheists have you met? have you met r. dawkins? please interview him about the aliens? so you deny him as one of mainstream atheist? then who are your 'bosses'??

          • Doug Shaver

            then who are your 'bosses'??

            What leads you to suspect that we have any?

          • neil_ogi

            did dawkins, etc know these? how poor they have no atheist fans. just themselves

            i think you are out of topics.. i don't care if you don't consider them as your 'top' atheists apologists. just be on topics.

          • Doug Shaver

            The topic of this thread is Olson's essay. I addressed it a week ago.

  • Peter

    " the belief in blind chance "as the origin of an unimaginably complex universe"".

    I'n not sure whether atheists believe in blind chance as the origin of the universe.
    From what I have seen, many accept the uniquely balanced low entropy conditions of the early universe and admit to having no explanation for them.

    • Doug Shaver

      I'n not sure whether atheists believe in blind chance as the origin of the universe.

      I know I don't.

    • Ladolcevipera

      They are atheists because they do not see a divine hand behind them

      Some of them are a-theist because they have the courage to admit that they simply do not know. Atheism and agnosticism are very close. The mystical is indeed not how the world is, but that it is.

    • neil_ogi

      atheists frequently use the phrases: 'chance did it', 'unguided and blind processes did it' 'it happens to be there', '..due to unknown reasons' -- because they don't know the REAL explanations of most theories.

      • Michael Murray

        What do you say when you don't know the explanation of a theory. God did it ?

        • neil_ogi

          will you tell me if the human body is designed out of chance? the rational explanation is, it is designed supernaturally by a creator, a God. it's irrational to think it is simply a product of chance and unguided processes. like a painting, if the painting has a feature of a Madonna, nobody will think that it's the result of chance but an intelligent agency.

          • Michael Murray

            Do you really not understand how evolution by natural selection can give the appearance of design without the necessity for a designer?

          • neil_ogi

            tell me how evolution will work if the organism has no life?

            evolution claims that all things (living things) evolved from the LUCA to man. evolutionists failed to explain the 'hows' of it.. they just say, 'evolution works thru natural selection'

            so tell me how a fish evolve into land-dwelling animals if this fish can't even survive in air within one or two minutes? evolutionists failed to explain why the needs for evolution? is evolution 'goaless' or not?

          • Michael Murray

            The answers to your questions are easy to find on the internet. Other people here have given you lots of links. Why not go and learn something instead of just embarrassing yourself by showing off your ignorance?

          • neil_ogi

            i thought you know a lot about evolution, why gave me links to it? why not explain it? you are a believer of evolution, why can't you even give a simple explanation about it? if i would be reading the links you provided, am i going to believe every claims for it to be true? of course not because all the claims of evolutionists are not even tested, verified and experimented.

          • Michael Murray

            As far as I can tell from interacting with you here and watching you interact with others you aren't actually interested in trying to learn. So I'm not willing to put in the effort to explain things that have been explained already in all kinds of places by people who know more about evolution than I do and are better at explaining it than I am.

            Note that I am not suggesting that you read the links and believe. Only that you read the links and understand. The questions you ask make clear don't understand the arguments and that you don't understand how science works. Your ignorance is a sad indictment of the education system in your country.

          • Peter

            It is neither ignorant nor embarrassing to suggest that, although our physical form is the product of millions of years of evolution, it was designed to be so by the Creator who would have put in place the necessary latent processes for it to come about.

          • Michael Murray

            Try and read what I actually wrote. The ignorance and embarrassment relates to the lack of understanding of the arguments not to the question of whether it is believed.

            Note that I am not suggesting that you read the links and believe. Only that you read the links and understand.

          • Peter

            I take it, then, that you don't disagree with what I've said.

          • Michael Murray

            Why would you assume that ? My only comment was on neil_ogi's refusal to try to learn and understand the arguments he repeatedly disparages.

          • Peter

            I take that as a yes, then, i.e. that you don't disagree.

          • Michael Murray

            Demonstrating your ability to leap to a conclusion on the basis of no evidence again I see. It really is remarkable. Sad but remarkable.

          • neil_ogi

            you are an ardent believer of evolution, and yet you don't know how to explain it?? just to ask you if a fish can withstand an atmospheric air for one minute or two.. in order for this fish to evolve into land dwelling organism..just answer a 'yes' or 'no'.. that's just a simple question. i don't need thousands of 'scientific papers' if they can't prove evolution. it's all 'just-so' stories!

            quote: ' Your ignorance is a sad indictment of the education system in your country.' -- why involve the education system of my country? it's just me and you who are talking here? it's your stupidity that you are generalizing things, you sound like william davis!

            there are thousands of engineers, architects, inventors, craegivers, nurses and doctors migrate to U.S., canada and european countries, australia and new zealand, and seamen who navigates the oceans, if educational system here is poor, you can't expect filipinos in every corner of this planet!

          • catsandfictionalcharacters

            Why are you so hesitant to look it up yourself? Why are you comfortable with people handing you information? If you really can't be bothered to look it yourself, then there is no reason for me to believe that you actually care about the answer. Seriously, I don't understand you.

          • neil_ogi

            i'm not talking with you and why comment here without even knowing the issues? you first read all my comments here and make your own opinions.

            quote: ' Seriously, I don't understand you'

          • Phil Rimmer

            neil,

            if you are really keen to understand this stuff, abiogenesis and evolution, then two of the latest books are phenomenally good-

            "The Vital Question" Nick Lane
            "Arrival of the Fittest" Andreas Wagner.

            These two contain a lot of the very latest evidence and insight into why evolution flows so easily after the Cambrian explosion (Wagner- the solution space is hugely greater than we realised) and why life started with such comprative ease after the planet cooled but took its time getting from simple to complex cells, them from complex cells to complex bodies. (Lane).

            Throw in

            "Your Inner Fish" Neil Shubin

            for an insight into how evolution works at a practical level as the most brilliant bodger of solutions, and you will know more than most who are atheist.

          • neil_ogi

            are you proposing me to read these 'very latest evidence and insight into why evolution flows so easily after the Cambrian explosion'? the evidence of cambrian explosion is well preserved, before that, paleontologists are not able to discover any transitional fossils that lead to fully-functional organisms into the layers of cambria. top atheist paleontologists even suggested that the organisms in the pre-cambrain era were 'too soft' to be fossilised, but that's naive.. many soft-bodied organisms (jelly fishes, worms, even droplets) were fossilized in the cambrian period, therefore no transitional fossils were ever discovered.

            so are you also trying to declare that abiogenesis is true because it was well-explained by nick lane and wagner? i will accept it as true if it will be subjected to lab experiments. but if it's proven to be just another 'just so' stories, then i'll throw them in the garbage bin. if atheists still insist that abiogenesis and macro-evolution are true, despite on the contrary, then, we will not use science as the 'proof-reader' of all scientific inquiries!

          • Phil Rimmer

            "if atheists still insist that abiogenesis and macro-evolution are true, despite on the contrary"

            Its nothing to do with atheists I think. I don't know what the faiths of those three scientists are, only that they are three of the current leaders in the latest research work.

            I think your idea of a just-so story is a little out of wack, and clearly you need to read these things if you think evidence these days is just based on fossils embedded in rocks.

            For one, the fabulous techniques of running evolving DNA backwards through the species,class, phyla and kingdom split points and then matching these up with the very chemistry of the planet, gives us the evidence in substantial. predictive and testable form.

            You don't know what you don't know, even.

            Shame.

          • neil_ogi

            quote: 'Its nothing to do with atheists I think.' - then evolution has nothing to do with atheism, then why atheists are so concerned about indoctrinating public schools with evolution? if i would say, creationism has nothing to do with theism or christianity? your argument is nonsense.

            quote: 'I think your idea of a just-so story is a little out of wack, and clearly you need to read these things if you think evidence these days is just based on fossils embedded in rocks.' - then tell me what are the other evidences? atheists love 'evidences' that are actually non-existent. they exist only thru blind faith (ex: LUCA, big bang, abiogenesis) - have you witnessed them?

            quote: 'For one, the fabulous techniques of running evolving DNA backwards through the species,class, phyla and kingdom split points and then matching these up with the very chemistry of the planet, gives us the evidence in substantial. predictive and testable form' -- DNA arrangement has nothing to do with evolution. do you think a DNA from monkeys can be inserted with a human DNA in an organism? of course not, the organism will eventually reject the 'foreign body' that's why macro-evolution will not occur

            quote: 'You don't know what you don't know, even' - then how about you? did you know for sure that God doesn't exists? if you do, then prove it!

          • Phil Rimmer

            "if i would say, creationism has nothing to do with theism ..." Do you realise what you said here?

            "have you witnessed them?" I've witnessed quite a lot of the evidence and have made a point to understand the science and can use it for myself. The interlocking mesh of evidence is thoroughly sound.

            " do you think a DNA from monkeys can be inserted with a human DNA..."

            Yes, but no one would.This is transgenesis (wiki is your friend) and was first used in the 1980s to get mice to produce a human anti-clotting protein after having human DNA inserted into them.

            All knowledge is probabalistic. Sadly all of Gods functions have, with very high probability, given way to scientific explanations. We hunt and hunt for "fossils" of her that don't have other explanations. Faith is your only rock at the moment.

          • William Davis

            I'm curious, what do you think you are accomplishing with your comments here?

          • neil_ogi

            so what do you think if ever i read the books? will these books accomplish anything rational? i will love and be interested in them if they will prove their claims. but they're not. it's like a pharmaceutical company producing drugs that actually cure alzheimer's disease and yet they can't show that their drugs have evidences to back up their claim.. it was not proven thru lab and other tests. do you think you'llbuy those drugs?

          • William Davis

            Ok. I'm still waiting for any Christian to even come close to proving their claims. If you want to be a skeptic, I'm fine with that, but you're not being a true skeptic.
            The book I wanted you to read is about observational selection effects and reasoning itself, not evolution. A coherent approach to reasoning about these things, understanding standards of proof (epistemology) and such is the first step to getting anywhere. If we reason in completely different ways, we will never make progress.
            By the way, I don't "buy" evolution, it's just the best theory so far that explains the evidence. My guess is that we still have much to learn about origins, and what we find will continue to surprise us.

          • neil_ogi

            quote: 'Ok. I'm still waiting for any Christian to even come close to proving their claims.' -- how many times i have told you that there were thousands of ancient manuscripts that testifiy the authenticity of biblical narratives, claims and stories?

            quote: 'The book I wanted you to read is about observational selection effects and reasoning itself, not evolution. A coherent approach to reasoning about these things, understanding standards of proof (epistemology) and such is the first step to getting anywhere. If we reason in completely different ways, we will never make progress.' -- science deals with repeatable observations, tests, and other approaches in order for the theories presented to be true. but if not, they should be torn down and thrown to garbage bin. but atheists still insist that all their theories are true despite the contrary.. that's why their new dogma about science is' 'science doesn't prove anything'.. isn't it that atheists claim that science is on their side? yes, we will never make any progress.

            quote: 'By the way, I don't "buy" evolution, it's just the best theory so far that explains the evidence. My guess is that we still have much to learn about origins, and what we find will continue to surprise us.' --so you don't buy evolution, but you still believe that it is still the best explanation 'science' has to offer. can i ask you, do you believe that a rock, or any thing that is not conscious has the capacity to create? or evolve? that's just elementary question!

            suppose there is a white canvas in a room. you see brush, paints with different colors, red, blue, green, etc, and among other things. because he believes in evolution, he will wait for thousands/millions of years for them to evolve. then after waiting, he failed to see a beautiful painting in canvas. in this analogy, i may say that the naturalistic explanation is just a failure. there's no beautiful painting on a canvas, instead the laws of entrophy has engulped all the things in the room. the contents of paints have solidified, the canvas has been broken, etc. this is the most rational explanation why i would not believe in evolution. the laws of entrophy says that all things tend to disorder and not order. this is the most basic law in science that atheists won't accept. be it in open and closed system. a hot water, even placed inside a tight-closed bottle, will eventually experience equillibrium. the hot water, after time has passed, will become room-temperature.

            scientists say that the 98% of DNA were just junked, but now they are incorrect. so science 'continually surprise us' and debunk all atheistic theories.

          • Phil Rimmer

            I see you are having great problems with understanding the scientific method. (so science 'continually surprise us' and debunk all atheistic theories") You also seem to think there is a group called atheists and a group called scientists. Why don't you forget about what debating atheists say and just concentrate on the science. This is why the books will serve you well. And why your tenacious grasp of misconceptions and refusal to read them look do damning from our (atheist) side. You want atheists to educate you, but dismiss atheists as competent educators. Well atheists (I'm guessing) are happy for you just to read the science and understand. Science is always being tested and the detail of its accounts ever being refined. But for a long time now the theory of evolution has only ever been confirmed or elaborated. Its predictive powers are prodigious. Again and again it suggests where to look for confirming evidence and yields positive results.

            Evolution, incidentally, only happens with replicators in a narrow, but high, range of replicating accuracy. Paint has never knowingly reproduced, accurately or otherwise.

            How can you make judgments on evolution without understanding its most basic aspects?

            I'm afraid you really must make a bit of an effort to inform yourself.

            At least read Professor Kenneth Miller's "Finding Darwin's God", for an account of evolution from a (Christian) scientist's perspective. It will teach you some of the basics. Then we can set to on the fine detail.

          • neil_ogi

            quote: 'I see you are having great problems with understanding the scientific method. (so science 'continually surprise us' and debunk all atheistic theories") You also seem to think there is a group called atheists and a group called scientists' -- scientific method works only if the subject to be tested is known. but evolution, for example, has no verifiable tests and observations. so can you tell me how a fish evolve into land dwelling organism? so tell me how your 'scientific methods' work on it.

            since there are 2 competing worldviews, i decided to call every representative of them, as atheistic scientists and theistic scientists. you have no rights to declare that your scientists have the proofs, have the truth.. the fact that atheistic scientists denied the claims of scientific truths (eg: laws of 1st, 2nd and 3rd thermodynamics), i already explained these.

            quote; ' This is why the books will serve you well. And why your tenacious grasp of misconceptions and refusal to read them look do damning from our (atheist) side. You want atheists to educate you, but dismiss atheists as competent educators' -- i think i already explain this: why should i read the 'just-so' stories of atheistic 'scientific' journals/paper of them if the claims are not confirmed thru lab tests, and observations? i never demand atheists to educate me, for what? believing in their science-fiction? if only they have observed the origins issues (universe, life, DNA,etc), then i would believed them, but all their theories are faith-based. no evidences to back them

            quote: 'But for a long time now the theory of evolution has only ever been confirmed or elaborated. Its predictive powers are prodigious. Again and again it suggests where to look for confirming evidence and yields positive results.' -- i think the only evidence is the micro-evolution where, for example, the phylas of dog can interbreed with coyote or wolf, they produce another 'dog's' species. but when cross interbreed with cats, they can't produce offsprings, and become sterile. macro-evolution was never ever been observed, from distant past uo to the present. can you tell me what's the ancestor of the ancestor of the modern man?? it all boils down to LUCA, the mysterious cell that only existed in the imagination of atheistic scientists.

            quote; 'Evolution, incidentally, only happens with replicators in a narrow, but high, range of replicating accuracy. Paint has never knowingly reproduced, accurately or otherwise.' -- so the claims, and yet no explanations are given. another 'just-so' stories? so the paint has never knowingly reproduced.... - then, how come a non-living matter (such as paint) evolve into living matter?? tell me??

            quote; 'At least read Professor Kenneth Miller's "Finding Darwin's God", for an account of evolution from a (Christian) scientist's perspective. It will teach you some of the basics. Then we can set to on the fine detail.' -- if atheism has many pactors, theism also has it. if some christians believe in evolution, they believe it as 'God-guided' (because according to them, since God is all-powerful, He can create all things. but that's not the case, if God is all-powerful, why can't He make a square into circle? why He needs Noah to build an ark to destroy the world when the fact is He can easily destroy it by the 'zap' from His finger? why He allows evil to dwell on this planet? (because he respected man's decision to chose evil)

            quote: 'The hypothesis that it was junk is negated, having found functional uses for the stuff. It is, though, still non-functional in the primary genetic activity of encoding for protein manufacture and so simply elaborates the theory of evolution. No atheist arguments hinge upon it as far as I'm aware.' -- how did you know? atheistic scientists even declared that the design of panda's thumb was so gross and unfit to panda.. but they failed to recognise that the panda's thumbs are well-suited for them to handle properly the bamboo they eat

          • Phil Rimmer

            OK. This is a poe or it is an impressive display of a Christian chatbot. I see no intellectual engagement here. You don't want answers it is clear.

          • neil_ogi

            why not just comment on my posts? all you do is chit and chat

          • Phil Rimmer

            "so can you tell me how a fish evolve into land dwelling organism? so tell me how your 'scientific methods' work on it."

            The theory of evolution predicted a transition from sea animals to land animals, this from a clear existence of amphibian species and body forms that appear to line up. Further genetic research indicates very clearly a commonality of heritage.

            Neil Shubin deduced that the most likely period of this transition would happen about 350m years ago and that it would be most likely to happen wherever there had been extensive shallows providing both selective pressure and opportunity of new exploitable niches. Searching the planet for where these historical conditions are now currently exposed he deduced his best chance lay in a northerly part of Canada. (This from memory.) Taking a team there, in fairly short measure they discovered the fossil remains of "Tiltaalik" this very transitional creature. Anatomically it was just as predicted. Shubin, a genius anatomist, describes this body form and places it in the continuum of such forms, noting fascinating co-opting of existing features (limbs are always sequenced one bone then two bones then many) and how articulated jaw bones released some of their smaller components at the hinge to become ear bones in later animals.

            Read the book. Its a delight.

          • neil_ogi

            quote; ' Further genetic research indicates very clearly a commonality of heritage.' --it doesn't mean evolution has occurred

            quote: 'Neil Shubin deduced that the most likely period of this transition would happen about 350m years ago and that it would be most likely to happen wherever there had been extensive shallows providing both selective pressure and opportunity of new exploitable niches' -- 'most likely', another word atheists used when they don't know the answer. anyway, why a fish would find another suitable condition to live? the fact that fish can't live any more than one or two minutes on land? how's that possible? try experiment it yourself. even if Neil, the author or whatever Phd he has in his credentials, all he wrote is mere fantasies. i recommend he subject his writings to experiment in the lab. as i said, everybody can write 'scientific' journals, but if they fail all experiments, then all they do is just 'make-believe' or 'just so' stories. fish is designed to live in water. that's all.

            quote: ' "Tiltaalik" this very transitional creature. Anatomically it was just as predicted.' -- a fossil doesn't tell really that evolution has occurred. one paleontologist discovered a single tooth in nebraska, and declared it one ancestor of modern human. even a reconstruction was made out of tooth! lol. tell me what is the common ancestor of Lucy?

            quote; 'Read the book. Its a delight.' -- yes it is, under science fiction category

          • Phil Rimmer

            "the fact that fish can't live any more than one or two minutes on land? "

            lung fish? Mud Skippers?

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amphibious_fish

            Until you start reading about the present day and the extraordinary and seemingly paradoxical nature of how things actually are, how can you even begin to understand where it has all come from?

          • neil_ogi

            quote: 'lung fish? Mud Skippers?' - tell me how many different kinds of fishes evolved from LUCA? lung fish and mud fish still exist today, no evolution has occurred. the most numerous fossil finds (trilobites) or horseshoe crab fossils still exist today, and many are swimming in my country's beaches.. so where's evolution?

            quote: 'most likely' 'chance did it' 'always happen to be there' 'happy accident' -- these are the most abusive phrase or statements used by secular scientists when they don't know the answer.

          • Michael Murray

            the most numerous fossil finds (trilobites) or horseshoe crab fossils still exist today, and many are swimming in my country's beaches.. so where's evolution?

            Oh dear. We've got to:

            "if we descended from apes why are there still apes"

            Top of the list of creationist clangers.

          • neil_ogi

            quote; '"if we descended from apes why are there still apes" -- that's why evolutionists have hard time to explain these simple questions. tell me how the 'population' is able to evolve, and why?

          • Phil Rimmer

            Sometimes the clanger has a poignant point...

            Daddy, daddy, if we evolved to be caring and kind to each other, why are there still Republicans?

          • Phil Rimmer

            " lung fish and mud fish still exist today, no evolution has occurred."

            We evolved from primates yet there are still primates. Why should there not be? Evolving represents an evolutionary divergence at one location. If hominids emerged in the Rift Valley region of Africa say, what has that to do with primates elsewhere? They continue to exist. They evolve too but because selection pressures are different, they will evolve differently, often given more stable surroundings, they will evolve far less dramatically.

          • neil_ogi

            that's why i ask you how many LUCA were there (population)? before one LUCA is able to evolve into mud fish and other animals, trees, plants? it was not explained by evolutionists..maybe 'they happened to be there'

            quote: '"most likely" is an honest and measured statement in the context originally used. These other phrases you quote could mean a lot of things out of any context as they are and so remain useless in our discussion.' -- nope, they just don't know the answer. a computer maker can easily explain how the computer is created, and how it works. he never say 'most likely' , etc.

          • Phil Rimmer

            "tell me how many different kinds of fishes evolved from LUCA?"

            To date no living thing has been found that does not appear to be LUCA's descendant. A population of LUCA's would have existed.

            LUCA is not the start of life but represents a genetic bottleneck that appears to exist, implying that other organisms functioning in some less efficient way, became LUCA's breakfast or at least, breakfast for LUCA's evolved descendants.

          • neil_ogi

            quote: 'To date no living thing has been found that does not appear to be LUCA's descendant. A population of LUCA's would have existed.' -- but LUCA is said to be the 'descendant' of ALL living creatures! quote" 'a population of LUCA 'would have existed' -- another 'guess answer' or 'just so' stories or 'it just happened to be there'!

          • Phil Rimmer

            The population of LUCAs possessed exactly the same DNA which is why it is irrelevant which of the specific samples of the bacterium-like creature is the specific antecedent of you or I or Tiktaalik. It is even possible that the very earliest speciation events might have arisen from different LUCA individuals. It is irrelevant because it is the specific DNA of the LUCA that is the real antecedent of all living things.

          • Phil Rimmer

            " i will love and be interested in them if they will prove their claims."

            Excellent. Then you will love them, because that is what they seek to do. Incidentally, genetic research has very recently shown that evolution affecting the GABA receptors in the prefrontal cortex just after hominids split from the other primates and that probably gave us part of our intellectual/cognitive advantage, is the probable reason that humans, alone amongst the primates, suffer from Alzheimers. As so often, evolutionary insights like these may be the key to forming effective treatments.

          • neil_ogi

            i am discussing here of the claims of evolutionists that evolution is a fact. and not the alzheimer's thing.

            quote: ' As so often, evolutionary insights like these may be the key to forming effective treatments.' -- where's the evidence that evolution has occurred? sad to say, evolutionists are again employing 'just so' stories, or 'make-believe' stories.

          • Phil Rimmer

            "Just so" stories are not based on hypotheses that have been made about casual observation of nature that are then tested, corroborated by others in similar tests drawn from an incomplete account of the first, deductions (predictions) then made (again and again) forming the basis of further tests, again corroborated by multiple others, all the while the hypothesis having been formed in a manner so that it is negatable and subject to disproofs that if successful destroy the hypothesis once and for all, (and in science the disproofs are the very best facts we have.) After all this corroboration and continued failure of disproof, hypotheses gain the status of theories which have predictive powers and are the closest things we have to facts on the planet, bar none.

            By comparison, the just so stories of religion are just that, possessing no predictive powers whatsoever.

          • neil_ogi

            nobody has observed macro-evolution, nor what really LUCA looked like! it's all 'just-so' and 'make-believe' stories. if only the LUCA is known, then these claims by evolutionists will become true or half-true.. but since the LUCA is can not be known (figment of atheists' imagination), then all are just assumptions and conjectures. i wonder how the LUCA formed in the 'prebiotic soup' of early earth. what was the 'first' organism it evolved. did this LUCA evolve from 'infancy' then 'adulthood'?? nobody from evolutionists answer these! in these hypotheses alone, evolution is already in the coffin, waiting to be buried

            quote: 'By comparison, the just so stories of religion are just that, possessing no predictive powers whatsoever' -- can you tell me what are those?

          • Phil Rimmer

            If you want to know about LUCA read Nick Lane. Look here is a free snippet from his book "Oxygen"-

            http://www.nick-lane.net/Extract%20chapter%208.html

            though reading the book I recommended will fill in a lot of the details. The surprise is that LUCA was probably oxygen breathing before atmospheric oxygen was available.

            "i wonder how the LUCA formed in the 'prebiotic soup' of early earth."

            Its a big long and exciting story. Read the book, The Vital Question.

            I see you are still muddling atheists with scientists. It was scientists figured this stuff out. Read Ken Miller at least.

          • neil_ogi

            did nick lane personally observe this LUCA?? i have told you again and again that nobody has seen this LUCA, or if this LUCA really did exist.

            quote: 'The surprise is that LUCA was probably oxygen breathing before atmospheric oxygen was available' -- so where did this LUCA get its oxygen for breathing before atmospheric oxygen was available on early earth? (contrary to evolutionists' theory on the origin of life that the early earth has no oxygen molecule, if that's true, then the earth then was purely rock in composition. water didn't exist because water has oxygen molecules)

            quote: 'Its a big long and exciting story. Read the book, The Vital Question.

            quote: 'I see you are still muddling atheists with scientists. It was scientists figured this stuff out. Read Ken Miller at least' -- i have to tell you again and again that nobody has observed this LUCA,(if it really exists) (all you do is merely assumptions and conjectures. anybody can write 'scientific' stories about this LUCA. there were many different stories but none is likely a candidate that tells the true events).

          • Phil Rimmer

            Crime scenes all represent unsolveable puzzles then? I hope you avoid all detective stories. Anything with fingerprints. I hope you do not use your cortex at all. It does nothing but make inferences all day long, which the rest of us use more or less successfully to deal with unknowns.

            Why not counter my description of the scientific method ("Just so stories are not based on hypotheses...")if you think puzzles are unsolvable? It is you who are not engaging. Or did you simply not notice what was being said?

            Water formed off the planet. Our current supply of it came to earth in the latter part of the early bombardment that accreted to form the planet in the first place. The residuum of the rocky material exists in the debris gravitationally tidied into a ring of the stuff in solar orbit between Mars and Jupiter. Water is a major constituent of comets. (We recently learned from Rossetta more of the process by which solar radiation ionises comet ice forming its beautiful plume.) These delivered the few percent water that our planet now consists. Atmospheric oxygen didn't form water, but was in effect derived from it by early biological processes.

          • neil_ogi

            quote; 'Crime scenes all represent unsolveable puzzles then? I hope you avoid all detective stories. Anything with fingerprints. I hope you do not use your cortex at all. It does nothing but make inferences all day long, which the rest of us use more or less successfully to deal with unknowns.' -- detectives when they encounter crimes that was not observed directly, use other forms of 'observed' paradigm, like fingerprints, hair, and DNA analysis. some of these 3 are already in the computer systems of one country.some of these 3 were collected when every citizen is going for registrations (job, election, etc). so detectives have no difficulty of finding who was/were the suspects. unlike the origins issues, which were not observed directly, will not result to the actual result even if scientists will use 'clues' like the age and composition of the rocks, for example.

            quote; 'Why not counter my description of the scientific method ("Just so stories are not based on hypotheses that...")if you think puzzles are unsolvable? It is you who are not engaging. Or did you simply not notice what was being said?' -- if the scientific method is unknown, then how can someone solve it accurately? if one uses a scientific method on why the egg and sperm when they unite, they form into an infant organism and grown into adulthood. then he uses correct scientific method because it is observable.

            quote; 'Water formed off the planet. Our current supply of it came to earth in the latter part of the early bombardment that accreted to form the planet in the first place.' -- was this observed? yes or no?

            quote: 'Water is a major constituent of comets. (We recently learned from Rossetta more of the process by which solar radiation ionises comet ice forming its beautiful plume.) These delivered the few percent water that our planet now consists.' -- if someone from scientific community has directly observed this, i will believe him..so how many millions of comets bombarded the earth in order for the earth to receive water from comets? how about the inner outer of the earth? uniformitarianism says that 'the present is the key to the past' , then why the earth is not bombarded or rarely bombarded by comets now? and if comets carry substantial amounts of water, then, obviously, water is already dissipated in the space before hitting the earth! the moon was bombarded by comets and yet it is still dry, and not even a trace of water molecule is found on the moon.

            quote: 'Atmospheric oxygen didn't form water, but was in effect derived from it by early biological processes.' -- again, how someone knew of this? was he present when this happened?atmosphere's main chemical composition is hydrogen. water can instantly destroy the chain on every amino acid forming before it forms! (therefore life will not begin)!!

            secular scientists theorised that the evolution of the earth was the result of comets bombarding it, and if so, then why planets are not found elsewhere in the universe? there should be billions of planets out there!

          • Phil Rimmer

            From direct observation we can now see that planets form around most stars from the same initial debris that forms each solar system. Simulations of the debris behaviour start from small clumps forming through gravitational attraction into big lumps that gobble up much of the remaining material, often through repeated collisions (heavy bombardment), becoming large planet sized objects with increasingly cleared orbital paths, often capturing smaller formed objects as moons. These simulations show exactly the evidential fingerprints we see for our own solar system. Try this (but understand this is a finite element analysis with a very large number of small objects each behaving under the simple effect of classical gravitation. No one created this. This is the natural result of these two simple facts.)-

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YmeajE-TT8

            I see you have forgotten about how we can indeed use DNA to tell us about the past and confirm our hypotheses about earlier times. Rather nicely we can recover ancient DNA (up to about 800,000 years old, [DNA has a half life of around 500years]). We can use this to confirm our back projections of DNA (mutation rates etc.) It all fits nicely together.

          • neil_ogi

            quote: 'From direct observation we can now see that planets form around most stars from the same initial debris that forms each solar system.' -- ok, since you claim (secular astronomers) that planets formed through this, and actually they observed them directly, then they support that the planet's formation only happened many years ago, and not billion years! and if the universe's age is billion years old, then there should be billion planets to be seen in the universe! then why they can't discover the other 'billion' planets out there?

            quote: 'Simulations of the debris behaviour start from small clumps forming through gravitational attraction into big lumps that gobble up much of the remaining material, often through repeated collisions (heavy bombardment), becoming large planet sized objects with increasingly cleared orbital paths, often capturing smaller formed objects as moons.' -- so what is the starting point when small clumps are beginning to clump with each other? then why the earth has many layers? earth has hot mantle? why there are many volcanoes?

            quote: '....we can recover ancient DNA (up to about 800,000 years old, [DNA has a half life of around 500years]).' -- dinosaurs DNAs have been discovered with intact and elastic tissues (collagen), these only proved that dinosaurs and humans co-exist with each other. the 800,000 years are not enough for macro-evolution to occur.

            quote: 'Water exists on Mars, but it has been slowly losing it due to its smaller gravity than Earth.' -- because according to secular astronomers, water covered the entire planet Mars because there are many canyons there that were carved and sculptured by water, and yet denied the fact that the earth (an already watery planet) never covered by water even canyons are evidences for it. i wonder how water escaped Mars, and i wonder how it was covered then by water?

  • Doug Shaver

    It is not clear to me that Olson has made any actual points about atheist dogmas. In particular, he has not demonstrated that there are any. Of course, some atheists are dogmatic, but no one of my acquaintance disputes that. Herewith, a few comments on some of Olson's particular assertions or quotations.

    Fr. Dubay writes:

    "Everyone is dogmatic. The statement may startle, but it is easy to demonstrate. We human beings differ not as to whether we consider ourselves infallibly right about this or that but as to what this or that may be. …"

    So, a dogma is any belief that is considered to be infallible? OK, if that's what the author means by "dogma," let's see where it takes us.

    "All of us have dogmas, some with good reason, some without."

    Good reason for what? To believe, or to consider our belief infallible? If I sincerely admit that I could possibly be mistaken about something, then I'm not being dogmatic about it, but it doesn't follow that my belief is unjustified.

    Of course, if I do claim that something I say can't be wrong, then yes, I'd better have an unassailable argument for such a claim.

    A bit later Dubay states:

    "Yet despite this confusion [brought about by relativism] there lurks in the human heart a deep need for what we shall call objective truth and the secure possession of it."

    I agree that it is our human nature to crave the sort of certainty that comes with a supposition that there are certain things we cannot be mistaken about. And, the need to think so may, and often does, compel us to actually think so. I don't agree, however, that our thinking so makes it so. We do not eliminate the possibility of error by denying its existence.

    He [Shermer] refers to the "golden rule," which is, if I'm not mistaken, a religious principle made famous by Jesus Christ.

    That principle is famous in the West because it was attributed to the founder of the West's dominant religion. The fact that many atheists agree with the principle constitutes no evidence that the founder was anything that his followers say he was.

    Shermer ends his letter with what can only be read as an overt dogmatic statement: "Rational atheism values the truths of science and the power of reason, but the principle of freedom stands above both science and religion."

    By the stipulated definition, it is not dogmatic unless Shermer is claiming infallibility for it. I find no such claim in the article where it appears.

    I find it interesting how some atheists tend to find something out there and above us that is providing objective guidance—a "principle" in this case—but don't imagine it could be a personal Creator.

    Then maybe they should be faulted for lacking imagination. That is, after all, a frequent source of dogmatism--one's inability to imagine the possibility that one has made a mistake.

    If that isn’t an overt statement of dogmatic faith—in the necessity and inevitability of some sort of evolution—what is?

    It is not dogmatic to suppose that if certain things have always happened in the past, they will continue to happen in the future. It would be dogmatic to claim that in a particular instance, no exception is even possible.

    That is what the well-educated Christian of the fourteenth century knew far better than the average, self-absorbed, unthinking denizen of the Information Age.

    An average, self-absorbed, unthinking denizen of any age is not well-educated. I'm inclined to agree that the well-educated person of any age, even if he is a Christian, is probably intellectually superior to any uneducated person of any age.

    Harris's favorite argument against "faith" and "religion" (mostly Christianity and Islam) is that religious people and beliefs are ignorant, foolish, backwards, insulting, intolerant, violent, insane, etc., etc.

    I read his book when it was first published and have not looked at it again since then. I don't remember whether he actually made such argument. If he did, then "he's being dogmatic" is hardly the only counterargument available to religion's defenders.

    As Fr. Dubay points out, there are three untenable conclusions "that necessarily flow from the atheistic choice." They are the belief in blind chance "as the origin of an unimaginably complex universe"; atheism's "lack of rationality and the ultimate nihilism to which it necessarily leads the consistent mind"; and, to the point I've just made, atheism's "inability to explain men and women to themselves."

    I am not an atheist by choice. I used to believe in God and never wanted to disbelieve. I stopped believing because I could not continue believing.

    But that is all there is to my atheism: I do not regard "God exists" or any logically equivalent statement as a true statement. And from that, nothing follows about the origin of the universe, or rationality, or nihilism, or the mind, or any explanation about men and women, with the trivial exception that atheism will deny any statement about any of them that presupposes God's existence.

  • Michael Murray

    it's not enough for folks who are really grappling with the mysteries of life and reality.

    That is no great surprise as atheism is a lack of belief in gods. Not clear how you would use a lack of belief to grapple with the mysteries of life and reality.

    So what would suggest would be useful ? Catholicism ? It doesn't seem to be working for most people:

    Catholicism is now the largest church tradition in Australia and the Catholic population continues to grow, although weekly Mass attendance has declined from an estimated 74% in the mid-50's to around 14% in 2006.

  • VicqRuiz

    it's not enough for folks who are really grappling with the mysteries of life and reality.

    I wonder what Olson, or other Catholic apologists, would say to an atheist who is not grappling, one who chooses to

    "just let the mystery be"

    • Kevin Aldrich

      In my opinion, I respect your freedom but hope you define "love" properly and actually can act accordingly.

  • neil_ogi

    atheists really hate wars and killings done 'in the name of religion'..(e.g. crusaders, ISIS, the fact that atheism is also a religion) but i wonder why they care about it? they don't believe in objective morality.. how did they know that killing is immoral? why they care so much when the fact that they say: 'life has no meaning, no purpose..'?? if you die, you die??

    my opinion is that, because we have free will. everybody can do what he wants to do.. kill, love, hate and so on. if free will doesn't exists, then we are just a rock. no freedom to choose!

  • neil_ogi

    it is rational to believe, according to atheists, that a 'nothing' produce a universe! - lawrence krauss, and supported by majority of astronomers!

    atheists don't believe that Jesus Christ didn't rise from the dead because, according to science, it violates natural laws...and yet they rationally believe that a non-living matter evolve to a living matter. Voila!!

    so who really are irrational?

    • Phil Rimmer

      " yet they rationally believe that a non-living matter evolve to a living matter"

      The opinions of non-experts is sometimes interesting in areas of science because these days it is possible to become informed on even abstruse topics quite readily. But the opinion of a non-expert proud of his willful ignorance needs a warning to others posting next to it.

      This comment is quite vacuous opinion.

      As for Krauss there are also four or five other models from major physicists/cosmologists of what happened around the time of the big bang. Most do not hold that this was the singular push button start for time itself. 90% of Krauss's "A Universe from Nothing." is broadly non-contentious with them, though. Science is not dogmatic. If there is anything demonstrably wrong the young bloods will find it, demonstrate it and cover themselves in glory. This could be you, neil, if you got reading...

      • neil_ogi

        so many talks.. just answer if my claims are rational or not.

        • Phil Rimmer

          Your claims are rational for an unintentionally ignorant person.

          • Michael Murray

            If you lead a horse to water and it doesn't drink does that make it unintentionally thirsty ?

          • Phil Rimmer

            Eventually!

            The real shock is that someone may have the clear intention of remaining ignorant, the intellectual equivalent of the dipsophobic.

  • cminca

    Every ancient society and faith had their own version of the "golden rule"---ancient Babylon, Greece, Egypt, India, China, Rome, Buddhism.....It also appears in the Old Testament.

    To claim that it was "a religious principle made famous by Jesus Christ" is not only bad history but purposefully disingenuous.

    And when you entire premise is based on an easily refuted inaccuracy there is really no point in reading the rest or the post.

  • De Ha

    I was recently re-reading sections of what I think is one of the best and yet most under-appreciated Catholic books written in recent decades, Faith and Certitude by Father Thomas Dubay. Fr. Dubay's book is, as the title suggests, especially concerned with skepticism and unbelief, and is an excellent examination of the intellectual premises and varied attitudes held by atheists.

    ***THORAN***
    Oh boy
    Hear that sound? Like shuffling wheat? That's a million straw-men coming a mile away.

    ***YOU***
    In a chapter titled, "Clarifying Our Concepts," Fr. Dubay writes:
    "Everyone is dogmatic.

    ***THORAN***
    Projecting!

    ***YOU***
    The statement may startle, but it is easy to demonstrate. We human beings differ not as to whether we consider ourselves infallibly right about this or that

    ***THORAN***
    Yes we do. You think you're infallible, whereas I am self-aware.

    ***YOU***
    but as to what this or that may be. ... All of us have dogmas, some with good reason, some without."

    ***THORAN***
    This is a mental disease.

    ***YOU***

    This is similar to a line in G.K. Chesterton's Heretics, which indicates: "Man can be defined as an animal that makes dogmas. . . . Trees have no dogmas."

    ***THORAN***
    Bullshit.

    ***YOU***
    A bit later Dubay states:
    "Yet despite this confusion [brought about by relativism] there lurks in the human heart a deep need for what we shall call objective truth and the secure possession of it."

    ***THORAN***
    You contradict yourself. Either you think you know everything because you're insane and/or stupid, or you are intelligent and seek knowledge. Which is it?

    ***YOU***

    Simple enough, but also profound. Those statements came to mind when I stumbled upon a piece on ScientificAmerican.com titled, "Rational Atheism,"

    ***THORAN***
    I'm losing track of the number of other articles you're referencing. Can you just write the article you're writing please?

    ***YOU***
    which is "An open letter to Messrs. Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and Hitchens," written by Michael Shermer. Shermer is publisher of Skeptic and author of Why Darwin Matters (Henry Holt, 2006). He is not too taken with the often harsh and sensational methods of attack sometimes employed by the best-selling authors he addresses his letter to; he pleads for a more calm and reasoned approach that stresses positive thoughts and action: "I suggest that we raise our consciousness one tier higher..." And:
    "Promote freedom of belief and disbelief.

    ***THORAN***
    We DO promote freedom of belief. The only ones saying we don't are Theists.

    ***YOU***
    A higher moral principle that encompasses both science and religion is the freedom to think, believe and act as we choose, so long as our thoughts, beliefs and actions do not infringe on the equal freedom of others."

    ***THORAN***
    Stop preaching at US about Freedom! WE hate YOU because YOU want YOUR religion to be imposed by law on everyone else! This reminds me of a debate tactic described in Thank You For Smoking: you strawman your opponent by bringing up freedom and rights for no reason asif they just said no one should have rights. It just complicates the issue needlessly, forcing your opponent to say "that's not what I said!" Rather than moving the debate foreward.

    ***YOU***

    A higher moral principle....but based on what? He refers to the "golden rule," which is, if I'm not mistaken, a religious principle made famous by Jesus Christ.

    ***THORAN***
    Yeah but pretty much every belief system has a similar rule worded differently.

    ***YOU***

    Shermer ends his letter with what can only be read as an overt dogmatic statement: "Rational atheism values the truths of science and the power of reason, but the principle of freedom stands above both science and religion."

    ***THORAN***
    Are you saying that you disagree with freedom?

    ***YOU***
    I find it interesting how some atheists tend to find something out there and above us that is providing objective guidance—a "principle" in this case—but don't imagine it could be a personal Creator.

    ***THORAN***
    It's called Abstract Concepts you idiot.

    ***YOU***
    For example, Sam Harris, in his book The End of Faith, writes that there “is no reason that our ability to sustain ourselves emotionally and spiritually cannot evolve with technology, politics, and the rest of culture. Indeed, it must evolve, if we are to have any future at all.” If that isn’t an overt statement of dogmatic faith—in the necessity and inevitability of some sort of evolution—what is?

    ***THORAN***
    What are you talking about? The Moral Zeitgheist is not a matter of faith, it's observable fact. Hell, I've heard you guys complain about it! "You can't even spank your kids anymore" etc.

    ***YOU***
    Harris's book is a rather fascinating read. Unfortunately, good reason and reasoning are rarely found, as Harris's favorite argument against "faith" and "religion" (mostly Christianity and Islam) is that religious people and beliefs are ignorant, foolish, backwards, insulting, intolerant, violent, insane, etc., etc. Every religion, he writes, “preaches the truth of propositions for which no evidence is even conceivable. This puts the ‘leap’ in Kierkegaards’ leap of faith.” And: “Religious faith represents so uncompromising a misuse of the power of our minds that it forms a kind of perverse, cultural singularity—a vanishing point beyond which rational discourse proves impossible.”
    In glancing through The End of Faith once more, I noted how much it resembles a bad magic act, with the magician (the atheist author) trying to confuse the audience with a flurry of clumsy distractions (name calling; straw men; rapid fire accusations; emoting; whining)

    ***THORAN***
    Ok, if you are distracted by name-calling, that's your problem. You are a whiney little bitch that needs to grow some fucking balls.

    CORRECT:
    "1 +1=2 you idiot!"
    "Checking a calculator.. oh yeah"

    ALSO CORRECT:
    "1+1=4 you idiot!"
    "Actually it's 2."

    ACCEPTABLE:
    "1+1=4 you idiot!"
    "It's 2 you fucktard!"

    WRONG
    "1+1=2 you idiot!"
    "Idiot? IDIOT? Did you just call me an idiot? Oh merciful heavens! You called me an idiot! How dare you call me an idiot! Don't you know that hurts my feelings???!!!"

    MAN THE FUCK UP!

    ***YOU***
    so they won't notice how poorly he performs the "trick" (makes God disappear). It is curious, for example, that a 336-page book with extensive endnotes, written by someone with a degree in philosophy who supposedly relies occasionally on philosophical arguments—and which describes Catholic doctrine and beliefs as "suggestive of mental illness"—does not contain a single reference to Thomas Aquinas. Or John Henry Newman, G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Jacques Maritain, Etienne Gilson, Paul Claudel, Josef Pieper, Han Urs von Balthasar, Mortimer Adler, Hans Küng (a man I often criticize, but who wrote an 800-page book titled Does God Exist?), Romano Guardini, Richard Swinburne, Karl Rahner, William Lane Craig, Michael Novak, etc., etc.

    ***THORAN***
    Why would any of these idiots matter? They are so special that they should have been braught up how?

    ***YOU***
    Augustine is mentioned a few times, but mostly to call him an anti-Semitic "sadist." Of Blaise Pascal: "That so nimble a mind could be led to labor under such dogma [regarding the divinity of Jesus] was surely one of the great wonders of the age."
    Imagine if a theist wrote a book titled The End of Disbelief and failed to mention, say, Hume, Voltaire, Feuerbach, Nietzsche, Marx, Comte, and Sartre, with only passing reference to Darwin, Freud, and Singer.

    ***THORAN***
    Why would anyone be under any obligation to talk about all of them? Not all of us respect Nietzsche, and Marx sure as hell doesn't speak for all of us. (You left out Ayn Rand, by the way. I'm not a fan of her either, but she counteracts Marx.)

    Actually, I noticed you mostly listed philosophers not Scientists, to the point that Darwin and Freud actually stand out. Why is that? Why are you obsessed with philosophy and not Science?

    And is it my imagination or did you intentionally leave out any philosophers that ts you chose to list have been known to disagree with. Maybe you simply never heard of Rand or Kant, or maybe you left them out on purpose because mentioning Marx and Rand or Zietzsche and Kant in the same sentence contradicts your belief that all Atheists believe the exact same thing.

    (I trust you see the irony here)

    ***YOU***
    It would be roundly and rightly criticized...by Christians!

    ***THORAN***
    Wait... why does it matter if christians complain that someone left out a bunch of obscure philosophers in a book against Atheism?

    ***YOU***

    Equally revealing is this passage by Harris:
    "Imagine that we could revive a well-educated Christian of the fourteenth century. The man would prove to be a total ignoramus, except on matters of faith. His beliefs about geography, astronomy, and medicine would embarrass even a child, but he would know more or less everything there is to know about God."
    Here, again, it is the omission that stands out, especially from a student of philosophy. What are the famous words of Socrates? "Know thyself." Harris is so fixated on scientific and technological achievement and knowledge that he ignores the perennial greatness of self-examination and knowledge of man—who he is, how he thinks and feels, how he lives and should live, how he should treat others, etc. That is what the well-educated Christian of the fourteenth century knew far better than the average, self-absorbed, unthinking denizen of the Information Age.

    ***THORAN***
    So... the hypothetical 14th century Christian WOULD know nothing of modern Science but everything about God. This contradicts Harris, how?
    And I think you missed the point entirely. Religion just doesn't do Scientific research. There have been NO advances in our understanding of Jehovah in centuries, while everything else has progressed.

    ***YOU***
    Of course, Aquinas spends much time in the Summa Theologica considering the nature and existence of God; but he also focuses on the nature and meaning of being human, the meaning of life, the goal of life, the what and why of ethics, and so forth. It is one reason that even non-Christians generally recognize him as a philosophical/theological genius (even if Harris is unaware of that fact).
    As Fr. Dubay points out, there are three untenable conclusions "that necessarily flow from the atheistic choice."

    ***THORAN***
    *rolls eyes*
    Here we go.

    ***YOU***
    They are the belief in blind chance "as the origin of an unimaginably complex universe";

    ***THORAN***
    *FACEPALM*
    See? THIS is why christians have a reputation for being stupid.

    ***YOU***
    atheism's "lack of rationality

    ***THORAN***
    You guys are the ones with "Faith". We have Skepticism.

    (By the way, notice how I didn't get my panties in a twist over a vicious insult, because I'm a man.)

    ***YOU***
    and the ultimate nihilism to which it necessarily leads the consistent mind";

    ***THORAN***
    Bullshit. Also, you just said we "lack rationality", therefore "consistency" is irrelevant. Which is it?

    ***YOU***
    and, to the point I've just made, atheism's "inability to explain men and women to themselves."

    ***THORAN***
    What? What are you talking about? Explain what to ourselves? Explain how sex works? I'm pretty sure Science covers that.

    ***YOU***

    Atheism, especially the popular sort offered by Harris, tends to spend much time explaining what it doesn't believe and why it hates Christianity. That might be enough for some people to live on intellectually and otherwise,

    ***THORAN***
    You honestly think internet debates is all we ever do, don't you? This isn't Tron. We do leave computers sometimes.

    ***YOU***
    but it's not enough for folks who are really grappling with the mysteries of life and reality.

    ***THORAN***
    That would be US. That's what Science is for.