Sunday, March 21, 2010

It looks like there are no gods, therefore there are!

I've been forced to make the point quite often lately that the scenarios many religious people construct for their various gods are indistinguishable from the non-existence case.  The arguments and excuses they put forward are an attempt to explain the existence of their gods in a universe in which it appears they don't exist.  A good example of this is that gods answer only some prayers, so only sometimes the thing you're praying for will happen.  In other words, what will happen if you pray and there are gods is exactly the same as what will happen if you pray and there are no gods.  So if their gods case is identical to the non-existence case, why would we choose the gods case?

Tracie at the Atheist Experience blog has helped to pile on the reason for this situation, and I'd like to quote some portions of her original post.

(In response to a reader of their blog who said that conflicting resurrection stories in the Bible strengthen the argument that it was a true event) “Many Christians assert the resurrection stories align perfectly, and this is evidence of their truth. You are writing to say they are not aligned, and this is evidence of their truth. My question is: How do we identify a falsehood if stories that are either consistent or inconsistent are both evidence of truth?


He expressed that he has heard that god wrote to Hebrews in terms they could understand—to the mind of an ancient Hebrew—and that’s why the content is sometimes wrong or less than perfect. He asserted further that if the Bible is concerned with how to get to heaven, rather than how the universe works, then it’s not right to judge the problems it presents in its less-than-accurate models of reality.

Again, I asked the same question: It is either the case that you are right, and a god wrote a book using ancient Hebrews, that was riddled with the misconceptions and ignorance we would expect to find in the ancient Hebrew mind, or it is the case that it actually is a book written by ancient Hebrews including all the misconceptions and errors within it we would expect to find in an ancient Hebrew mind, but attributed to a god in the same way many other cultures have developed similar stories about gods that sound like their own minds. If this book contained correct and advanced scientific statements, would you then consider it’s not from god, since it doesn’t sound like an ignorant Hebrew? Really, I think that if it had that sort of really good and sufficiently advanced grasp on reality within it, you’d be writing to say anyone should see no ancient Hebrew could have produced such knowledge out of his own head without an advanced intelligence to guide him. So, I’m back to the question: If god writes books that sound just like books ignorant people write—how do we tell books written by gods from books not written by gods?


And I wonder how long it will be before we get to ID? To the point where I’m asking the same question about the universe: How do we tell a universe without a god from one with a god where god makes it look like he’s not there? There’s an old saying, “If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck… then why would you assert it’s a god disguised as a duck, rather than a duck?”

Tracie is absolutely correct!  It's funny that throughout history, so many gods have done so many different things, such as causing lightning, carrying the Sun through the sky or whatever.  They have done things like splitting seas, had titanic battles on Earth, etc.  And yet in modern day, with all of those myths dispelled, the only way the religious can make their beliefs match reality is if they create a god which appears that it's not there at all.  You can't see it, it doesn't do anything especially interesting, it may or may not answer you, etc.  And then these stupid people actually choose the gods case over the non-existence case!


ANTZILLA said...

In mostly all types of mythology there is always a devil/demons or equivilent. So if these devils are so opposed to the "good" gods if they were real what is stopping them from making an appearence.

"It looks like there are no Devils therefore there are!"

Feki said...

Admin, great post.

Do you know what religious people say right after they or their relatives are cured of a disease? Yes, they say "thank god". As if the non-existent entity were the doctors and nurses who actually cure them!

I mean, seeing the real guy who stopped their pain or gave them a few more years to live is not enough, they require SUPERNATURAL in order to be ok with themselves. Since they feel helpless, they try to do "something" by praying to be cured. If they get better, then god saved them because they prayed, not because a doctor went to school or a pharmaceutical industry developed medication x.

If a mechanic fixes my car, why on earth would I thank god for? Because I prayed for a new oil filter and it magically appeared?

Thanks to science, religion will soon run out of places for god/devils to "hide".

Jim said...

Don't forget that it works the other way too. If someone gets sick and die, they revert to, "God works in mysterious ways."

Based on this, you just resort to the "God Policy" no matter what. Either you are in God's favor, or God is testing you. They don't realize that this stuff would occur with the same frequency as if there were no gods. Every argument for prayer always circles back to this point. Statistically, people will get better, win games, avoid accidents whether or not some magical being interferes or not.

If you can remove gods from the equation, and still get the same answers, scientifically, you would have to leave them out because they are a non-factor. You have to assume they don't exist.

Feki said...

I know this site is not about extraterrestrial life forms or cryptozoology but, to elaborate on Antzilla’s comment, this same “chain of thought” is applied to justify delusional beliefs in UFOs and various mythical creatures:

“it looks like there are no aliens, therefore there are!”
“It looks like there are no sea monsters, therefore there are!”
“It looks like there are no [insert bizarre, controversial creature], therefore there are!”

Why are all this things so evasive? How can people spend so many resources looking for them? I’d understand rare/endangered species not being found in a lost jungle somewhere. But freaking dinosaurs? Sasquatch? the Loch-Ness monster? …. god?

Some of you might credit cryptozoology over religion on potentially viable biological/archeological grounds, like the existence of missing links (I don’t, but enjoyed the x-files). Fine, at least cryptozoology is harmless and does not lead to genocide, hatred, racism or child molestation (not that I know off).

In the end, the search for “missing creatures” has led to no results. And the search for “missing gods” is just as successful.


In twist to what Feki said the[insert bizarre, controversial creature], could said for some cosmologist looking for the "lost" mass in the universe.

In the end, the search for “missing gravity” has led to no results. And the search for “missing mass” is just as successful.

Like creationists need to start from scratch, maybe so does cosmology.

Jim said...

It's called "Dark Matter" and "Dark Energy".

Cosmology is back on track.

Magnamune said...

Check mate. One of the things that pisses me off the most, is the lack of education. No-one who has an effective education is stupid enough to use some of the word tricks evagelists use. Hell, most would simply realise the stupidity of god, and the others would probably research thier answers before parroting idiots. Imagine a world like that...

*Drifts off into dreamland*

Jim said...

At least with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), scientists are actively trying to test out and prove their theories on dark matter and energy, as well as the source of gravity (the gravaton) and mass (the Higgs boson, or, somewhat ironically, the 'God' particle).

They could test to see if gods exist, but that would be a waste of money, wouldn't it? Because it is a logically unsound theory that requires no further testing.

Anonymous said...

Totally off topic again, but I'm so sick of saying 'Hell' and 'Oh my God' because there just aren't ny other English terms with quite the same meaning. It's perplexing.
'In the end, the search for “missing gravity” has led to no results. And the search for “missing mass” is just as successful.'
I think the advances in theoretical physics pretty much discount that, and anyway, if they really, REALLY can't find it, they will accept that it isn't there.

Jim said...

The thing is though, they have a scientifically viable theory as to where this missing stuff is. This is one the hundreds of tests being performed by the LHC. They are hoping to detect dark matter and energy.

Unlike religion, however, if there is not proof that either dark matter or dark energy exists (which there is), we won't force it on the masses and start wars over it. We'll simply revise our theories, and start looking for alternative theories to fill in the blanks.

Magnamune said...

*snaps out of dreamland*

The universe is a inconceivably complex puzzle. It is not Mad libs. Only certain pieces fit in certain places. To the Mad lib mind (creationist), inserting words such as "god" into the blanks makes the universe complete. The only problem is, they haven't actually read the finished product. It's Hilarious!
A scientist is slowly but surely looking through the pieces of this trillion piece puzzle (which is a gross understatement), trying to find the finished product, without a reference.

There we go, my puzzle argument against the god of the gaps. It's barely on topic at all. c;

ANTZILLA said...

Well put Magnamune.

Magnamune said...

Thank you. The idea had been mulling around in my head for a while, I just needed to put it into words.

As a side note, I'd like to say I'm planning on reading darwins origin of species and doing a chapter by chapter summary to place on youtube. (So long as no one has beaten me to it). I feel it would help people incapable of book (whether due to illiteracy, short attention span, or simple laziness) to understand evolution, by hearing easy to digest segments. For most people, myself nearly included, the book is just too long. Look out for it.

David McNerney said...

If it looks like a duck and it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck - it must be a Ford Pontiac with leather seats.

Magnamune said...

Has anyone else noticed that god is technically an alien? I'm surprised no-one has brought this up. Although, if they have, they were either labeled as insane, or shouted down...

side note - Started a blog, yay! C:

ANTZILLA said...

I heard this reasoning just resently, "God exsist, because anything is possible"

>>Has anyone else noticed that god is technically an alien? <<

this has got me back onto the train of thought, What/who is god?
Creationists all have indiviual idea/concepts of god.

Feki said...

Mmmm, if god existed there would be no infinite possibilities. For something to happen god would have had to foresee it, evaluate it and then let it happened if and only if he deemed it worthy of his perfect plan for everything.

Therefore, things that opposed god’s perfect plan (which apparently ranges from earthquakes to child molestation but refrains from magically curing the ill or feeding the hungry) would not happen ever.

So “anything is possible”? Like what? Sunrises? Tides? Flowers blossoming? Cute puppies? AIDS?

What about if I wished the sky to be purple one day… it just won’t happen!. Or, if I wanted want to grow a pair of wings… it won’t happen either! Same for any other request that could potentially be granted by who allegedly is the most powerful being in the universe who happens to know everything. (Is it too much to ask that he just calls the cops when a child is being molested at one of his churches?)

Actually, nothing can contravene the known laws of physics, so technically we already live by finite possibilities and have to accept that the sky is blue, humans can’t have wings and that there are no gods.

But, before Eillix shows up to say that “laws of physics = god’s plan”, I must ask Admin if he has received his elephant already.

Jim said...

Anything can happen.

Sure. Why not.

Show me the five-sided square, or the rectangular circle. Or perhaps a math equation where 2+2=5.

Magnamune said...

2+2 does equal 5. It's just that every time anyone goes to actually solve it, they make the same mistake.

ANTZILLA said...

If anythings possible, I didn't just write this.

Feki said...

What about “original sin”

Millions of people who believe in both christ and evolution (soft christians) actually buy the story of the apple and accept that their souls are stained with evil from the day they were born.

A simple revision of facts shows that:

Adam and Eve never existed
Therefore no apple was ever eaten
And no sin was committed

So, “there CLEARLY isn’t an original sin, therefore there is”

Admin said...

No Feki, I have not received a visit from my elephant yet.