Saturday, October 8, 2011

You don't know, so don't laugh at the religious!

This is a special thread for a reader who goes by the handle, 'GM'.  Over the last couple of weeks, he/she (we'll be using 'he' until I know otherwise) has come to this blog and made several off-topic posts in threads, so I thought I'd make one just for him so that his posts at least won't be off-topic anymore.  The focus of his argument seems to be along the lines of, "You don't know how X, so you shouldn't laugh at the religious for making god-claim Y".

Well GM, here's the thing.  I AM going to laugh at the religious.  It is an argument from ignorance to assume that because we don't know something conclusively, that any dumbass supernatural explanation should not be ridiculed or should be given consideration.  If you don't know how your pencil got into the other room, that is not a licence to claim aliens did it.  The evidence in no way points to the supernatural, and all evidence we have for EVERYTHING and everything that has ever been proven, has turned out to be natural in the end.  The world has dealt with supernatural claims for who knows how many thousands of years, they have had billions of supporters throughout history, and not one of these billions of people has even managed to demonstrate that there is such a thing as the supernatural!  500 years ago you'd be telling me that we don't know how lightning is caused, therefore a god claim could be valid and I shouldn't laugh.  Disease used to be supernatural too, until somebody came along with evidence.

How does science work?  It takes careful consideration of the available evidence to make the best conclusion we can at the time.  Sure it's wrong sometimes, which we discover when new evidence becomes available.  Do you not see the difference between this method and the religious one?  I'm sticking with the scientific method, as it is the best way we have ever come up with to determine what the truth is.  I'll put science's track record of success up against religion's any day of the week.  Religion has ZERO track record of ever demonstrating any of its core claims to be true.  Science, through consideration of the evidence and adjustment when needed, has produced damn near everything we have in the world that has made our lives better.  If you know a better method than science to determine truth, we'd love to hear about it.

So no, I will not stop laughing at the religious with their woo claims.  Until they produce a shred of evidence, their explanations are off of the table.  Once they have proven that the supernatural is even real, which I stress again never seems to happen for some reason, then their future claims will have to be given some consideration.  But for now, religion has a track record of ZERO.  If you keep trying things one way and keep failing, repeatedly, without any successes EVER, you have to abandon that method for something that at least works some of the time.  In fact, even if science had worked only once in history, it would still be more reliable than religion.

My first question I have for you, which you can answer in the comments, is what exactly is your religious persuasion, or lack of?  My second question is, have you ever been to a Christian website and told them to stop telling atheists that they're going to hell, because they (Christians) don't know for sure?


EarthGirl said...
This girl is trying to disprove evolution! Join the debate, we need help!

GM said...

Well, thanks for making a thread to talk about it, at least this is a step up from

"GM, you're mistaken if you think I read your last group of posts. I skimmed the most recent one. I noticed that you think we're having a conversation."

To answer your question... Yes, I have gone to Christian websites and debated with Christians as well. My thesis is very simple:

Why don't you atheists simply DISPROVE religious claims, and you're done. We don't have enough knowledge from science to know what happened in the beginning of the universe or how life began, any more than "the theists" do. But I am pretty sure that we have enough science to disprove the falsifiable claims of theists. And that is a stronger argument anyway for why you shouldn't believe a particular religion. Why not stop being intellectually lazy and simply point a person to why you think you know their belief is WRONG, rather than simply laughing at them. It would be much more productive and might teach both sides something about rational thinking.

What I took issue with here on your blog is that I arrived via a thread where you seemed to imply that science knows more than it does, and that it will eventually know the answer to questions X, Y, and Z and the answer will involve no more phenomena than we have already discovered. I think that's simply irresponsible. As scientists we can say what we think we know, why we know it, etc. But if you want to make a case for atheism, you'd do well not to overreach, otherwise you're exposing yourself to ridicule and being disproved as well.

This would be a valid statement: "we don't know how life began, or how the universe began, but that doesn't mean that [ insert founding claim of religion here ]. In fact I think it's false because [ insert disproof here ]." Then you can talk about the substantive reasons why you actually don't believe said religion.

Here is a link to what I mean:

As for my religious views, I gave you liks in the previous threads. From there you can even find my name and find out that I am male LOL

Admin said...

"Why don't you atheists simply DISPROVE religious claims, and you're done."

This invalidates pretty much everything you say afterwards. It is not up to me to "disprove" their god claims, it's up to them to prove them. They often can't be disproven at all, they're mostly unfalsifiable. Many of those that are falsifiable have already been shown to be false, and it doesn't matter to them. Hence, we laugh and laugh hard. The ridiculousness of their claims doesn't help much.

Look up what "burden of proof" is and who it rests on. The laughter will stop the day that they can even prove that "supernatural" is meaningful and real, and if you can't get that through your skull, we're not going to get anywhere at all here.

If you don't know how your pencil got into the other room, is that a licence to say aliens did it and challenge others to disprove you? There is a very good reason why science does not work this way and the burden is the other way around from what you propose. If you don't know that, then I think your understanding of science is pretty shit.

Track record of science: It has figured out damn near everything we know today.

Track record of religion: It has never shown any supernatural proposal to be correct. NEVER!

See the pattern? So please, if you're going to continue in this way, get lost and make sure the door does indeed hit you in the ass on the way out.

Admin said...

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to even continue reading and taking your comments seriously after the way you typically open them? They're just arguments from ignorance and shifting of the burden of proof. This is pure stupidity!

GM said...

You know, considering you'd like to have others read YOUR comments, and considering I'm actually being rational with you, maybe you should stop

A) spewing talking points about something RELATED to what I said, and address what I said, and

B) constantly insinuating that you read only a minute portion of my comment before responding with a knee jerk reaction

I know you almost have the keyboard patterns memorized for firing off a response about "arguments from ignorance", "track record of religion", and "theists" but can you just have a rational discussion about what I *am* talking about, and not ascribe positions to me that I did not even espouse?

Look at the logical content of what I am saying.

Do you know whether there is a God or not? No.
Do you know how the universe got created? No.
Do you know how life began? No.
Do you know why humans are unique? No.

So don't invoke knowledge about this!

Why can't you focus on, say, disproving the global worldwide flood with actual scientific evidence, in order to disprove all abrahamic religions at once?

Why do you have to waste your time with arguing about things neither you nor "theists" know for sure?

Because science has some wild theories about all that stuff, but they are no more plausible than supernatural theories. Really. How would you even assess the plausibility unless you admitted a materialistic bias? You are in effect saying, "I am sure that however the universe began, it really contained no more phenomena than the ones we already discovered." That's just silly, you can't possibly know. Or you may say, "OK, but those phenomena were NATURAL" --- what does that MEAN? Do you know any non natural phenomena? I am saying at some point, you are just arguing blind, just like the theist you are supposedly better than. Don't get into that territory. Who knows. Maybe the forces involved when the universe was created were so different than anything we've ever discovered or experienced. It wouldn't be the first time. Quantum mechanics was extremely weird when it first came out. We humans don't know much about this world, and perhaps we never will find these things out!

But. We don't NEED to find these things out. To disprove religious claims. Why?

Because religions make FALSIFIABLE TESTABLE PREDICTIONS about THIS WORLD. And I don't see you focus on that at all. But if you WOULD focus on that, you'd DISPROVE a bunch of religions and then you would simply point the people to these disproofs. In fact, there should be a thread just for each disproof. And then you might learn something too. And religious people might learn something. That would be way more of a rational way to debate. But I'm sure you already know that.

GM said...

As for the pencil... there's a huge difference between a pencil which is in the year 2011 in the other room, versus starting conditions of a projected UNIVERSE MODEL 16 BILLION YEARS AGO which none of us have ever experienced and simply guess at. Same for the other things. You weren't around -- even if that would make any sense. So you think you have a very good idea about the pencil, but you CANT think that about the universe, or life, etc.

You divide things up into "religion" and "science" but instead you should divide it up into "hypothesis" and "testable predictions". Otherwise, why the hell do you believe any drug studies after this:

Not all science is unlike religion. Richard Feynman had the famous expression "cargo cult science" :

So to venerate all "science" and pit it against "religion" is deeply misguided. There is no magic stamp "science" that makes something fact and true. It is a human endeavour, which, when done right, tries to avoid fooling ourselves. That is precisely what FALSIFIABILITY is all about. All is hypothesis and falsification.

Admin said...

"Do you know whether there is a God or not? No.
Do you know how the universe got created? No.
Do you know how life began? No.
Do you know why humans are unique? No."

ARGUMENT FROM IGNORANCE! And argument from ignorance doe snot need to be responded to, because it isn't a good argument. And perhaps I should ask if YOU are a scientist specialising in any of these areas? I think you'd be surprised what is known if you ask those involved rather than a layman on the internet.

"Why can't you focus on, say, disproving the global worldwide flood with actual scientific evidence..."

Why should I? It has already been done by actual scientists, and you're just shifting the burden of proof again! Is this the best you have? Can you explain clearly why science works in the opposite direction?

"they are no more plausible than supernatural theories."

Natural is always more plausible than supernatural, because natural has been shown to exist.

I'm finished with your comments, reading no further. If you don't like it, fuck off!

Admin said...

And before you come back again arguing how special you and your "thesis" are, know that I'm highly unlikely to waste my time reading anything more that you write. You've had enough chances on enough threads. Your arguments suck and I do not find you interesting. You don't like the "argument from ignorance" response you keep getting? Then STOP doing it!

David McNerney said...

Who's laughing?

Occasionally I will find some things that religious people do to be quite funny - and I'm happy to ridicule religious ideas that are clearly self-contradictory or false with respect to what we do know.

But most often with regard to religious ideas I'm appalled rather than humoured.

If someone says they believe in a god and the mind their own business about it and aren't sacrificing their children and such... I don't laugh at them.

Admin said...

"If someone says they believe in a god and the mind their own business about it and aren't sacrificing their children and such... I don't laugh at them."

David, that's awfully charitable of you. I find myself (usually secretly) laughing at adults with imaginary friends, regardless of how it affects their behaviour. But I'll agree that we generally like to see them minding their own business about it and not sacrificing their children. If all religious people were like that, this blog would not exist. There would be no good reason for it.

ANTZILLA said...

ou"Do you know whether there is a God or not? YES, his name Fred

Do you know how the universe got created? Yes Fred Farted and chucks of shit came out, that shit is our universe.

Do you know how life began? Yes
Fred burped, burp started life.

Do you know why humans are unique?
Yes, because we think we are.

Stop laughing and prove me wrong... untill you prove me wrong bpw before the mighty Fred.

ANTZILLA said...

If people don't want their beliefs laughed at, they shouldn't have such funny beliefs.

ANTZILLA said...

laiGot a question/topic of conversation:

What would a world without religion be like?
For context: lets say, *BinG* no religion tommorrow (magic) what would the world be like?

Magnamune said...

Several things would occur. The people who already are atheist would need to help all the new atheists to come to grips with reality. We do this already, but it would be easier since they realize there is no god that we can find.
Second, we'd have a lot of building that all of a sudden have no use. I'd suggest using them for housing, or make shift hospitals/schools.
Third, there'd be a small amount of time where true peace was achieved, because atheists work so hard to not look amoral, and new atheists would be too disillusioned to be 'evil'. This would only last a short while, but humanity would see it's possible, and could strive towered it.
Without the 'playing god' argument against science, rapid advancement would be made in almost all fields. This would be a mostly developed countries phenomenon.
Wars would still exist, but without the banner of god, it becomes harder to recruit. When you won't live forever, it's hard to throw away your life.
Voodoo would be gone, and with it the idea that albinos are magical if used as spell components, or that eating the flesh of your enemies gives you their strength, and as such drastically slowing, if not stopping, the horrible practice.
After a couple of generations, the world is cleaner, more efficient and a generally nicer place to live. Crime still exists, but nowhere near as prevalent.
This is only opinion, mind you, it's possible that the void left by religion would be too great and that society would collapse and start again. Or anything in the middle.
Just my 2c.

ANTZILLA said...

I would worry about the deeply religious ie 'american nutjobs'
Because if the only reason they don't commit crimes is because 'god' is watching, who knows what will happen if reality sets in.

Jim said...

I would argue that society would almost certainly fall into chaos. There would be an incredible amount of suicides worldwide. Violence would spike dramatically as those unwilling to commit suicide would take out their anger and frustration on their neighbors or whoever they saw first. Without the Ten Commandments to live by (never mind our immoral atheist "laws of society"), many religious would succumb to "evil" acts. Without a mandate from their gods, many religiously-driven countries would cut themselves off from the rest of the world. Wars would start almost immediately, and more than likely, would be unstoppable, as leaders and armies would see no moral reason to ever surrender. Granted, nations such as the US, England, Russia, etc. wouldn't be involved directly, smaller nations would easily be corrupted into war. While scientific restrictions based on religious principles might go away, it would take a long time. People would still argue against abortion or stem cell research because they honestly believe it destroys a life, gods or no.

Magnamune said...

I suppose my assessment of human reaction was optimistic, but I do believe people aren't inherently bad. I would also venture that my atheist upbringing in an atheist community has warped my view of the world, and made be naive to the ways of fundamentalists... For the most part.

Anonymous said...

Why does Darwanism stop with humans coming from monkeys? Because the truth that humans arise from single-cell pond scum would upset even the hardest of atheists. It's time atheists from all over come to a hard reality. We can never win the battle against religion until science can disprove the existence of god.

Jim said...

"We can never win the battle against religion until science can disprove the existence of god. "

Already done. The fact that there is no proof of gods, and that the universe and life do not require an, proves beyond a doubt that no gods exist.

Not to mention the fact that it is not the job of atheists to disprove god, but rather the job of religious people to prove that there is a god.

Admin said...

"Why does Darwanism stop with humans coming from monkeys?"

It does? Did you take a different science class than I did? Did you even take a science class at all?

"Because the truth that humans arise from single-cell pond scum would upset even the hardest of atheists."

It would? Do you know different atheists than I do? Do you even know any atheists at all?

"It's time atheists from all over come to a hard reality."


"We can never win the battle against religion until science can disprove the existence of god."

Even if that were possible, which it is generally not because modern religious claims are mostly unfalsifiable, the religious would not bend. That's like saying if we prove evolution that the religious will admit defeat. No. They simply ignore it and block out reason. Aron Ra (of YouTube) famously asked a fundamentalist Christian this question, "If I could prove to you that your god doesn't exist, what would you do?" The person replied that she hoped her faith would be strong enough to continue believing despite it. It will NEVER be completely won.


"The fact that there is no proof of gods, and that the universe and life do not require an, proves beyond a doubt that no gods exist."

I disagree with you somewhat here. There is still doubt and still a chance, it's just not worth considering given the lack of any evidence.

Jim said...

I should have said that the lack of evidence and the fact that life and the universe do not require a god requires no need to disprove it simply because there is nothing to disprove.

For example, if someone asked me to disprove the existence of unicorns. Well, there is no evidence that they have ever existed, so that alone is enough for me to assume scientifically that unicorns do not exist.