... but I stopped. Now I'm a dad, and may blog again...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

501: Comment

In lieu of a proper post I reproduce here a comment I have just written on the following blog post http://followergerrard.com/2012/01/12/the-atheist-delusion/:

You mention "the Christian belief" repeatedly and then proceed to talk about all Christians as though they all hold the same belief. The Bible, and other sources of Christian theology, not being factual (i.e. evidence based) are all entirely open to personal interpretation. When you claim to be speaking for Christians it seems to me as though you are only speaking for yourself. The reason why scientific method holds so much power and is so much more useful than religion or philosophy as a tool for examining the world is that its conclusions are dictated by the evidence. The conclusions of religion are subject to whim, preference, wish or political dictate. One only need look at the world around us to see there is not one "Christian" outlook.

Science is the act of attempting to find the truth through observation and testing; gradually we get closer and closer to truth as science reduces error margins. Religion, if it does exist outside of the physical or material world, only does so by inhabiting the world of fiction. While science is the most accurate method of observing the real world, theology is at best an archaic, dogmatic and stunted method of fiddling aimlessly with the details of a fictional world. Every claim you make about god applies only to your own interpretation.

Being an atheist isn't an act of faith, it is the lack of an act of faith. Not believing in god came before believing in god, just the same as not being able to drive came before being able to drive; first there was the world, then there were gods and cars. All of your ideas about what god is and what god means and what god does are meaningless to an atheist (or at least this atheist) because they all rest on the unfounded assumption that god exists. The idea of god can and should be viewed as a scientific hypothesis (because it is possible that a universe created, maintained, observed, occasionally interfered with by god is very different from a godless universe). When I hypothesis is not backed up by observation and evidence it is rejected. This is the reason it is safe to assume there is no god. There might be, but given the lack of evidence there is no genuine reason to believe.

On the subject of evolution and what it says about god you conclude "Showing how evolution is the result of physical processes is not, in any way, contrary to this, but simply a description of what was physically resulting from God’s sovereign control." In a sense this is just not true. Evolution is a description of how species can form unguided exactly without "God's sovereign control". I agree that the theory of evolution is not direct evidence against the existence of god, but it does drastically reduce the gap god can safely inhabit.

Often people talk about there being some essential self, a spirit, ghost, soul whatever that exists as a duality with the brain or body. This is often said to have an immortal eternal life after the death of the temporary body. Look at it this way for an illustration of why I consider it inherently ludicrous: The soul (which for arguments sake I will describe as the bit of the brain that feels love, ecstatic reactions to art, music and nature) is a function of brain which can no more exist without that brain than the heart beat can exist without the heartbeat. Were I to suggest that I believe my heart beat (or for that matter my renal function) were to have an eternal life after the death of my body, you would be right to laugh at me.

Although your post contains some interesting ideas it is ruined by your insistence on speaking for all Christians, and by implication knowing what all Christians think. You also make claims to know so much about what your god is and does. When you say "The universe doesn’t“contain”God. God doesn’t“dwell within” the universe or “outside it (whatever that might mean)” it seems to me you are claiming to know so much that you couldn't possibly know. If you get annoyed by comparing belief in god to belief in a teapot in space, because of a semantic game placing god outside of "place", then how about this: Believing in god is like believing in a non-physical teapot that isn't in any place, is outside of space and existence, but still is somehow worth thinking about, discussing and offering praise and prayer to.

Actually the more I think about it your argument seems to be "atheists are wrong not to believe in a god that exists, because that is not the Christian god. The Christian god is actually a god that doesn't exist. So if you are going to be an atheist, at least believe in the non-existing Christian god". This sounds crazy, and indeed is, but that is the reading that comes from your blog.

If god intervenes in the physical world, where is the physical evidence. If god doesn't intervene, what's so amazing about god?

Indeed, this is a conversation between two people who don't speak the same language.

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