Thursday, May 10, 2007

Nightline and Proof of God

Despite the fact that I should have already been in bed, I was still awake last night at 11:30 watching Nightline.

Part of the program was a very truncated presentation of a debate between "The Rational Response Squad," a self-appointed group of atheists that have come up with The Blasphemy Challenge--a website that encourages people to deny the existence of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit--and Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort, christian evangelists-- actor and author respectively.

The debate took at least 90 minutes, but I think ABC only showed about 5 minutes of it.

Trying to prove that God exists to an atheist is really an exercise in futility. By the time a person boldly declares themselves an atheist, they usually have their minds made up; otherwise, they would simply call themselves agnostic or say that they don't "think" that there is a God.

But anyway....

Ray Comfort's main point, featured on the show, was that creation itself is an indicator that there is a God. He held up a painting, stating that the painting itself is proof that there was a painter that created it. The painting could not exist without the painter. At this point, Brian Sapient tried to discredit this point by saying that if creation warrants a Creator, then who created God? Who is the creator of the eternal being?

What bugs me most about atheists' thinking is that it is so often illogical and hypocritical in its application. For instance, asking who created God and of course not being able to get an answer that makes any sense to the human mind, an atheist will very smugly think that he has struck a fatal blow to religious belief. ("Haha! You can't tell me where God came from! That must mean He isn't real and you are just an irrational idiot!") However, people of faith already know that they can't understand the paradox of God's eternal existence and nature, so this question is not a real challenge to their faith.

What smug atheists often fail to do is to use their own logic on their beliefs. If you believe there is no God, and that matter is the only guiding force in the Universe, you must still reconcile those beliefs with the Beginning Of All Things. The Big Bang, physics, and evolution are fine ways to try and observationally look at the material world and create a framework for understanding, but they too must try and explain the Beginning. The question that atheists can't explain, any more than Christians, is where it all came from. If we rewind everything back to The Big Bang--a time in which every atom that exists was compressed and contained in a tiny space no bigger than a period--you still have to ask.......where did matter come from? If it wasn't created, what was there before The Big Bang? It is the atheist version of "Who created God?"

They can't explain it any more than we can.

This inability to explain where matter came from also trickles down into the theory of evolution. Evolution is based on the assumption of life starting at a bacterial, micro-organism level, and over billions of years, producing very complicated organisms. Yet evolution still cannot explain how inert matter and atoms were imbued with life. How does a chemical, primordial soup transform into a living form, focused on "surviving." Survive what? If chemicals suddenly sprung to life, how could they know that there would be "death?" How does a one-celled organism fear no longer living when only moments before it was an inanimate molecule?

Bah!

An atheist cannot answer any of these questions. Their belief system is full of holes and requires as much faith as any Christian's. The difference between the two is that atheists are loathe to admit the inconsistencies in their thinking. They cling tightly to their versions of truth, science, and rationality, but seem to lose all rationality trying to explain the First Cause of everything. They don't understand the why and how of the universe any more than a simple believer.

Science is their God. The only problem is that Science is not perfect and the emperor has no clothes.

**afterthought**

Isn't it interesting that the focus of The Rational Response Squad is focused solely on Christianity? Their blasphemy challenge has nothing to do with Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.

Also, why do atheists always seem to be so angry? Every time I encounter an online discussion or see something on TV, atheists always come off as extremely angry, outraged people. Maybe I'll post about it later.

17 comments:

Your hubby said...

Very good points and very eloquently presented -- as always. :-) :-*

terri said...

I hereby nominate you to be the president of my fan club.

We'll work out the compensation and perks later! ;-)

Kristie said...

I just saw it on Youtube, and I totally agree. It was like, what, 5 minutes of debate? It was shallow reporting as always..what a complete joke!

And yes, atheist do look dour, don't they? Not a friendly lot, are they?

terri said...

Iam going to post more about the whole Atheist thing later. I have noticed a huge push from atheists lately.

Charlie Rose just featured an author, whose name escapes me, whose book title is God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

Later on PBS I encountered the last 5 minutes of another program to hear a different man declaring that atheists needed to band together to fight against the influence of religion in the world.

All this in the space of one week.

makes you go hmmmm.

Capo di tutti capi said...

The "origin problem" is not a problem for atheists.

The appeal to ignorance only "proves" a generic creator god as it proves any other figment of the imagination.

It surely can't prove the Christian god because that one is false (since the Bible is full of lies and contradictions, it can't be the perfect word of a perfect god).

terri said...

Capo...I am a Christian and believe in the Christian God, but that wasn't what my post was about. There is no point in discussing whether or not one's religious beliefs are true if one denies that there is ANY religious belief that could be true.

Capo di tutti capi said...

Atheism isn't denying the existance of a god (as if there is overwhelming evidence for it), it's simply lack of belief in absence of evidence.

What is interpreted as "evidence" for the existance of any god depends on the degree of skepticism in a person.
Most arguments used to justify the belief in a god can easily apply to the rest of them.

terri said...

"Atheism isn't denying the existence of a god"

Are you serious? I think Richard Dawkins is somewhere having a stroke.

Any conversation I have ever had with an atheist is firmly cemented in their assertion that there is no god...of any sort...in any way....ever....otherwise they would label themselves as agnostic.

They won't even say that they don't "think" that there's a god.

I am really surprised (if you can't tell) that you would say that.

Capo di tutti capi said...

"Are you serious? I think Richard Dawkins is somewhere having a stroke."

Are you saying Richard knows there _is_ a god and vehemently denies it? (Possibly screaming and kicking in the same time) :))

"Any conversation I have ever had with an atheist is firmly cemented in their assertion that there is no god...of any sort...in any way....ever....otherwise they would label themselves as agnostic."

- Agnostic is the same thing as weak atheist, but defined differently.

We're all agnostic on undefined, undisprovable ideas because ..well, we can't disprove them.
Still, that doesn't mean we give their existence a 50-50 chance.

We'll never live our lives paying any attention to the fact that Fairies or Xenu _might_ exist, and when asked, we won't say we're agnostic in respect to them.
Philosophically we are, but not practically - in day to day life.

In my experience, those who label themselves as agnostic are either atheists who don't want to get in a fight or christians who don't like to obey the holy law giver but like the idea of an invisible friend.

"Any conversation I have ever had with an atheist is firmly cemented in their assertion that there is no god...of any sort...in any way....ever...."

Well, that's a bad aproach on their behalf. Atheism doesn't deny gods, atheism looks for gods and doesn't see any justification for invoking them :).

If there was a god that "created" this world, I'd say it would have to have evolved just like we thought _we_ did, and created or universe as an experiment.
"God" would be a scientist.
He might not even be aware that he accidentally created a universe, or he might be able to walk through time like we scroll through a song in winamp.


..But some guy who influences the destiny of his "legos" and then judges them - either for eternal torment or eternal bliss... I don't think so :).

My main problem with Christianity is original sin. If we evolved from lower species... who ate the symbolic apple?
All religions say there's a big problem with mankind, and they (the religions) are the solution.
I've yet to see a religion with no commandments and whose god sais "you're doin' fine, Jim, keep up the good work".
I'd say that would be the One, True religion :D

terri said...

Well, there are so many things that I would love to resond to, but then my comment would be about 100 pages long.

So, let's just focus on this:

"you're doing fine, Jim, keep up the good work"

But let's say we find out Jim is a murderer, or maybe he's just abusive to his kids. Maybe he never lays a hand on them, but takes every opportunity to call them rude, thoughtless, little pigs a la Alec Baldwin.

Does he still warrant that pat on the back?

Perhaps, that back-patting portrayl of God would be OK if people were essentially good, but it only takes a very brief amount of time to realize that evil exists. Not just the, I'm thinking about having an affair kind of evil, but the murderous, rapacious, genocidal type of evil that happens on a daily basis on this planet.

So how could we accept a God who says..."good job, Osama, keep up the good work."

You have two separate arguments going here. One is that science is our only means of acquiring truth. The other is about trying to reconcile, in our minds and hearts, the role of evil and morality. Each argument has vastly different implications and points of reference.

Perhaps, I'll think about these in more detail and put a post on the main page, rather than just continuing to comment on this particular thread.

Capo di tutti capi said...

The "evil" inherent in mankind as I see it, isn't the result of some supernatural fall that we're responsible for but it is hard-wired in our genes from our evolutionary past.

Here's a vid of Howard Bloom explaining evolution and human nature:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zaj7cBNs7H8

And the same dude, talking about racism:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2ykoJqoIyw

If anything, "evil" is a part of us that should be refocused on productive things, through education.

The self-humiliation promoted by religions (and I won't even get on the cult issue here) as a way to eradicate some aberration in our behaviour is a non sequitur.

Mankind has never been as peaceful and as civilised as it is now ( check out Chris Anderson's "Systemic Flaws In the Reported World View" at http://www.edge.org/q2007/q07_1.html ) and we're heading in a good direction.
Paradoxically, the religious folk keep seing the "SATAN" character everywhere, more and more.

seathanaich said...

Hi Terri I

"Trying to prove that God exists to an atheist is really an exercise in futility."

This may be because the material you are working with isn't very persuasive. Do you think you could be convinced of the reality of the Hindu, Aztec, or Greek gods?

"they would simply call themselves agnostic"

Are you agnostic about the existence of unicorns? Probably not. This is how most atheists feel about gods.

"Sapient tried to discredit this point by saying that if creation warrants a Creator, then who created God?"

If a person claims that everything must have a creator, why does this apply to the universe, but not to their god?

"atheists' thinking is illogical and hypocritical"

Please provide an example. It is Comfort who is illogical, not Sapient.

"People of faith know they can't understand the paradox of God's eternal existence and nature"

And this is logical how?

"smug atheists . . . "

You don't comment on how smug Ray Comfort is.

"fail to use their own logic on their beliefs."

Example?

"If you believe that matter is the only guiding force in the Universe,"

That's not what atheists believe. It’s hard to criticise an opinion or position if you don’t know what it is, don’t you think?

seathanaich said...

Hi Terri (part 1)

"Trying to prove that God exists to an atheist is really an exercise in futility."

This may be because the material you are working with isn't very persuasive. Do you think you could be convinced of the reality of the Hindu, Aztec, or Greek gods?

"they would simply call themselves agnostic"

Are you agnostic about the existence of unicorns? Probably not. This is how most atheists feel about gods.

"Sapient tried to discredit this point by saying that if creation warrants a Creator, then who created God?"

If a person claims that everything must have a creator, why does this apply to the universe, but not to their god?

"atheists' thinking is illogical and hypocritical"

Please provide an example. It is Comfort who is illogical, not Sapient.

"People of faith know they can't understand the paradox of God's eternal existence and nature"

And this is logical how?

"smug atheists . . . "

You don't comment on how smug Ray Comfort is.

"fail to use their own logic on their beliefs."

Example?

"If you believe that matter is the only guiding force in the Universe,"

That's not what atheists believe. It’s hard to criticise an opinion or position if you don’t know what it is, don’t you think?

seathanaich said...

Hi Terri (part 2) - sory for the double post above.

"where did it all came from?"

I dunno. We're still looking into it. "The gods dunnit" wasn't any more useful (or true) for volcanoes or disease than for telling us about the origins of the universe.

"It is the atheist version of "Who created God?"

Assuming that others need some similar version of what you have in your life is called "projection". It limits your ability to appreciate and understand others if you assume that they have to be like you.

"They can't explain it any more than we can."

Some people don't need a magic based answer to get closure on something they can't yet understand. Some do.

"Evolution is . . . "

. . . all around us. It is why we have a new flu virus every year. People who deny evolution are embarrassing to the Christians who do not.

"evolution cannot explain how inert matter and atoms were imbued with life."

That's because that is biochemistry, not biology. And that topic is abiogenesis, not evolution. If you are genuinely interested in abiogenesis, then read about it. Seriously.

"Their belief system"

Atheism isn't a "belief system". It's disbelief in the claims of those who believe in various gods.

"requires as much faith as any Christian's."

Does your disbelief in Thor require "faith"? In unicorns? No, of course not. Atheism is based upon reason, the opposite of faith. This is more projection.

seathanaich said...

Hi Terri (part 3)

"loath to admit the inconsistencies in their thinking."

And what are those?

"They lose all rationality trying to explain the First Cause of everything."

You just said the atheist answer to this was 'I don't know'. How is that "losing all rationality"?

"Science is their God."

Again, projection.

"The only problem is that Science is not perfect"

Is that really a rational claim? Do you not use cell phones or would decline life saving heart surgery just because "science is not perfect?" I thought you were claiming to criticise others for irrationality.

"the focus of The Rational Response Squad is Christianity?"

Do Democrats and Republicans focus on each other, or do they criticise the policies of the British Labour Party?

"why do atheists always seem to be so angry?"

Or Muslims? Or fundamentalist Christians? Were black people "angry" during the Civil Rights movement? How about women who fought for the right to vote?

seathanaich said...

Hi Terri (part 3)

"loath to admit the inconsistencies in their thinking."

And what are those?

"They lose all rationality trying to explain the First Cause of everything."

You just said the atheist answer to this was 'I don't know'. How is that "losing all rationality"?

"Science is their God."

Again, projection.

"The only problem is that Science is not perfect"

Is that really a rational claim? Do you not use cell phones or would decline life saving heart surgery just because "science is not perfect?" I thought you were claiming to criticise others for irrationality.

"the focus of The Rational Response Squad is Christianity?"

Do Democrats and Republicans focus on each other, or do they criticise the policies of the British Labour Party?

"why do atheists always seem to be so angry?"

Or Muslims? Or fundamentalist Christians? Were black people "angry" during the Civil Rights movement? How about women who fought for the right to vote?

Maybe what you say to them gives them reason to be angry. Odd that women always need to have this pointed out, as if they have already forgetten what their mothers went through.

terri said...

Hi seathanaich!

Wow...this post is old! In the last few weeks I've gotten several hits on it. I'm not sure what made it pop up somewhere out of the cyber nether regions.

I'm not really going to address all your posts for several reasons.

1. When I first wrote this post, it was simply me thinking out loud. I had and have a tiny little blog and was not meaning to take on the Atheist blogosphere in one those infamous-style debates that take place and have taken place over the last several years in virtually every corner of the Atheist and Christian blogosphere.

Honestly...it's just not my style. Imagine my surprise when this post and a couple others popped up on Austin Cline's about atheism page. I thought he had seriously under-reached by quoting me, a nobody from nowhere, instead of finding a better-established blogger, or one whose sole occupation consisted of writing about atheism and religious belief.

2. Ray Comfort is an idiot. I never would have written one sentence in support of him if I had known more about what a smug, rude, condescending person he was.

3. I really am sorry if I portrayed atheists in a way that has made them angry. What can I say? It was one of those visceral posts written to exorcise my irritation at how I perceived "Christians" were being portrayed. So I really don't want to add fuel to that fire and I really don't think that Atheists are all irrational, smug, and hypocritical.

I certainly think some can be, in the same way that some Christians can be.

4. I don't really dispute evolution, or astronomy, or science. What I was attempting to get at is that the material universe is driven by forces that aren't entirely decipherable to us.

Why life?
Why sentience?
Why morality?

I know the standard answers provided by science, but I find them somewhat lacking at times.

5. Because I am a growing, maturing adult....I sometimes change my mind and attitude. I think that's a good thing. I don't think I would write this post at this point in my life, at least not in the way that I originally did. It would be a whole lot easier to just delete it....but I don't like it when people have a revisionist history of themselves.....so I leave it up to remind myself to be humble and know that it's possible to write something in a way that will later make me cringe.