Are You Sure?

Do I exist?  Moreover, do I know that I exist?  How can I know that I exist?

Without making any assumptions we can say only one statement with definite knowledge.  I think therefore I am.  If we could not think then we would not have consciousness, so on some level of reality we must exist.  But what else can we know with certainty?  Do you have any proof that your entire life is not but a dream?  Can you prove that your senses do not lie to you?  How do you know that you really are a human?

Imagine with me for a moment.  Imagine you are not human, but that you are simply a disembodied consciousness.  For the purposes of our example you could say that you are simply a brain in a jar.  Suddenly you begin to exist.  What happens next?

Existence begins, what are you aware of?  Nothing.  You can think, but you don’t know what thinking is.  You just began to exist so language is not a concept you are familiar with.  Let’s say that after a long time of existing or as far as you are aware, after all time has passed you develop a form of language.  A way for you to categorize thoughts.

Soon you realize that there is nothing in existence.  You realize that you exist though, you are existing.  You think, therefore you are.  But what are you?  What do you call yourself?  You decide that “IT” is a good thing to be called.  You are the IT.

Once again after all time has passed again, you realize that you can visualize objects if you think hard enough.  You make a “shape” and you call it a “square.”  You begin to think of other shapes and you call them “triangle” and “circle.”  You realize that out of just these simple shapes you can make other, more complicated shapes.  After this you realize that you can assign them another attribute.  Its a weird attribute, it can differentiate between different shapes even if they are both the same triangle.  You call this attribute color.

Soon you think to yourself, “I can make things exists simply by thinking of them.”  You then have a thought to powerful it shakes the whole of your reality, “What if I thought up another IT or even many ITs?”

And so it begins.  In the beginning IT created the HERE and the PLACE.  Now the PLACE had no “shape” and was empty, no “color” was upon the PLACE, and IT was over the PLACE.  And IT said, “Let there be COLOR,” and there was COLOR.  It saw that the COLOR was good, and IT separated the COLOR from the lack of COLOR.  IT called the COLOR “day” and the lack of COLOR “night”.  And there was lacking of COLOR, and there was gaining of COLOR-the first “day.”

You realize that you have created all that exists.  You realize that you are god.

 

The only point I mean to make by this post is to illustrate the problem with existence.  Knowing that you exist isn’t a problem, but knowing that anything else exists is almost impossible.  For all you know, everything is a figment of your imagination.  For all you know, your mind could have created everything.  For all you know, you could be god.

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Questions for Atheists

Recently I stumbled upon a website that hosted a list of 15 questions for atheists along with host of other lists of questions (for agnostics and other religions).  This is my response to those questions.

 

Questions for Atheists

1. Are you absolutely sure there is no God? If not, then is it not possible that there is a God? And if it is possible that God exists, then can you think of any reason that would keep you from wanting to look at the evidence?

No. I am not ABSOLUTELY sure that there is no god (or gods); however, in my many years on this earth never once have I seen any concrete evidence to support the existence of the aforementioned.  I have been shown supposed evidence multiple times, but all evidence has been easily explained by natural processes.

Yes, it is possible that there is a god (or gods).  This is what most atheists believe.  The problem is with the common vernacular of the word.  Atheism stems from the word Theism (to believe in a or many deities) and the prefix A (meaning Not).  Atheism, by definition, is not someone who believes that the existence of a god (or gods) is impossible; but simply someone who does not have a positive affirmation of belief in a god (or gods).  This is also why the term Agnostic is often misused. (But I’ll go into this in detail in a later post)

Honestly, I would love to be presented with concrete evidence for the existence of God (or any god).  I have searched for years for evidence and I have never seen any concrete evidence that cannot be explained by natural processes.

2. Would you agree that intelligently designed things call for an intelligent designer of them? If so, then would you agree that evidence for intelligent design in the universe would be evidence for a designer of the universe?

Anything that has been designed must, by definition, have a designer.  This can be shown to be true of everything that is made by humans: cars, houses, pencils, airplanes, etc.  But you cannot just assume that the universe is designed.  The universe is full of chaos and destruction, not something you would expect from an intelligently designed system.  The beginning of the universe, the formation of the earth, abiogenesis, and evolution can all be explained by science through natural processes.  Just because something is complex or appealing to the eye does not mean that it is designed, assuming that it is would be a false premise.

3. Would you agree that nothing cannot produce something? If so, then if the universe did not exist but then came to exist, wouldn’t this be evidence of a cause beyond the universe?

In our modern existence it is true that nothing cannot produce something.  This is one of the questions that scientists still seek answers for (currently it is thought that the universe was born from a quantum fluctuation).  But just because we don’t know the answer does not imply that it was god (God of the Gaps argument).  And if the premise states that nothing cannot produce something, then how can god exist in the first place?  If god is outside our reality then what else is there outside our reality?

4. Would you agree with me that just because we cannot see something with our eyes—such as our mind, gravity, magnetism, the wind—that does not mean it doesn’t exist?

I would completely agree that just because we cannot directly see something with our eyes does not mean that it does not exist.  However we can view the side effects and results of all these things.  We can physically feel and measure the wind.  We can physically see and mathematically plot how gravity effects objects.  We can observe two object with magnet fields repel or attract each other.

The mind itself is a whole other conversation.  If by “mind” you mean consciousness then technically consciousness isn’t a physical thing that exists.  It is a result of the chemical and neurological processes in our brains.

5. Would you also agree that just because we cannot see God with our eyes does not necessarily mean He doesn’t exist?

Of course I agree with this.  Just because I cannot see god does not mean god does not exist.  However, unlike everything else in the universe, we cannot mathematically prove or view the results of god.  And therefore, we have no proof of the existence of god.

6. In the light of the big bang evidence for the origin of the universe, is it more reasonable to believe that no one created something out of nothing or someone created something out of nothing?

Is it more logical to believe that all of existence began due to a possible quantum fluctuation and in a period of time shorter than that which we could ever measure all of the matter that would ever exist came into existence along with an equal amount of anti-matter (which would lead to an overall total of zero energy in the universe, thus satisfying the second law of thermodynamics) and over billions of years the matter condensed into stars and heavier elements that then led to the formation of planets and life;  or is it more logical to believe that a supreme being who always existed (well kinda… We can’t refer to god in the past tense when speaking of time prior to creation since god created everything and time is a thing, thus if god did not invent time then there were things that existed before him.) spoke everything into existence?

7. Would you agree that something presently exists? If something presently exists, and something cannot come from nothing, then would you also agree that something must have always existed?

Refer to answer 3.  The big bang is currently believed to be the beginning of the universe and the beginning of time.  Because of this something must have always existed since time didn’t even exist until the big bang when all matter began to exist.  So, in a way, matter always existed.

8. If it takes an intelligent being to produce an encyclopedia, then would it not also take an intelligent being to produce the equivalent of 1000 sets of an encyclopedia full of information in the first one-celled animal? (Even atheists such as Richard Dawkins acknowledges that “amoebas have as much information in their DNA as 1000 Encyclopaedia Britannicas.” Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker(New York: WW. Norton and Co., 1996), 116.)

Ugh…  Just because you can’t imagine a something complex evolving does not mean that it did not evolve.  We know for a fact that the Encyplopaedia Britannicas was designed by man.  The first living cell however, was not designed.

9. If an effect cannot be greater than its cause (since you can’t give what you do not have to give), then does it not make more sense that mind produced matter than that matter produced mind, as atheists say?

This question implies that human mind is somehow greater than matter in general.  If evidence could be given to support this premise then I would have an answer to this question.  But since the brain is made from matter and the mind is a result of the chemical and neurological functions of the brain then it would be illogical to assume that the human mind is greater than matter.  (Also how do you measure the “greatness” of the human mind or the “greatness” of physical matter?)

10. Is there anything wrong anywhere? If so, how can we know unless there is a moral law?

There is a lot of bad things in the world; rape, genocide, murder, theft, starvation, etc.  And yes, it takes some level of morality to understand this and decide that it is wrong.  But that is not proof of an absolute moral law.  

Morality could have (this is scientific hypothesis) evolved as an animalistic trait.  The most basic purpose of all living beings is to reproduce.  So that is where we learn that reproduction is good.  Its hard to reproduce if you or others that you can reproduce with are dead.  This is how we know that killing is wrong.  During evolution we could have realized that hunting in groups is easier.  This is how we know that community is good.  What is good for the community must be morally good.  This is one possibility of where morality came from.

11. If every law needs a lawgiver, does it not make sense to say a moral law needs a Moral Lawgiver?

Once again this is a false dichotomy.  The idea of morality is not the same as a law.  Common moral “law” was “written” by our ancestors as they learned what helps them survive and be high up in their populations/communities.

12. Would you agree that if it took intelligence to make a model universe in a science lab, then it took super-intelligence to make the real universe?

Just because it takes a minimal level of intelligence to recreate what we can see in our universe does not imply that it takes a higher level of intelligence to create it on a large scale.  Natural processes, such as the big bang and gravity, can explain why the universe looks the way it does.

13. Would you agree that it takes a cause to make a small glass ball found in the woods? And would you agree that making the ball larger does not eliminate the need for a cause? If so, then doesn’t the biggest ball of all (the whole universe) need a cause?

This cause is the big bang.  Google it.

14. If there is a cause beyond the whole finite (limited) universe, would not this cause have to be beyond the finite, namely, non-finite or infinite?

Big bang.

15. In the light of the anthropic principle (that the universe was fine-tuned for the emergence of life from its very inception), wouldn’t it make sense to say there was an intelligent being who preplanned human life?

Well actually no matter what the universe appeared to be designed like, you would always expect to find life after a while.  If you view the universe you would expect to see life based off of the most common elements in the universe and lo and behold it is.  The base of all known life is carbon, the most chemically active element on the periodic table.  (Neil DeGrasse Tyson explains this very well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HO6ONMLfg5A)

Scared of Hell? You Should Be.

Last night I went to an event at my friend’s church.  This event was like a play, but in between each scene you walk further down a trail behind the church.  The point of the trail was to show what the Biblical end times will be like, based off the book of Revelation.  Now I’ve attended this event twice before, both times I was still a strong Bible-thumping believer, but this time I went into it from a strong atheistic view point.

The walk begins with a short video of the pastor speaking of how what we were about to see is what will happen to all non-believers when Christ returns.  The first scene is a small strip mall area where we see an inebriated woman stumbling out of a shop and walking towards a trailer home.  When she reaches the home she realizes it is on fire, she then decides that the best decision is to get in her car and leave her five young children to die in the flames and smoke.  The trail guide told us that this is very common in the United States because all sinners are selfish.  Now I understand that there maybe an extremely selfish person who is also very drunk may leave her kids in a dangerous situation, but it was completely unreasonable for them to say that all non-believers are this way.

Next we are taken into a town hall meeting where the townspeople are discussing a new government initiative called “One World + One Voice”.  The aim of this program is to downplay nationalism and strive for a world of united nations instead of a world where the United States of America is the greatest country.  Now this seemed a little far fetched that the U.S. government would be pushing this program, but what happened next left me speechless.

In the next room we were told by the guide that within the next 5 years the government will specifically outlaw Christianity and it will be punishable by the death sentence.  First off, the Constitution and Bill of Rights guarantee religious freedom so Christianity will never be illegal.  Second, if Christianity were illegal then its probably safe to assume that all other religions would be illegal.  And third, the BBC reported that the U.S. is still 71% Christian so it would be insane to assume that Christianity will ever be illegal.

That being said, once the scene began we saw a church service that was supposed to be happening in secret that was abruptly interrupted by people in police uniforms storming the room with assault rifles.  The guide told us that this is a serious possibility for out future within the next few years.  At this point I almost left.  The sheer ignorance of the guide was making me very upset.  This is not a possibility for our near future.  If it is ever illegal in the U.S. then we would be throwing out the Constitution and Bill of Rights.  We would no longer the United States of America if ANY religion were illegal.

After leaving this area we were taken to a faux military base.  When we were allowed into the base we were met by a platoon of soldiers.  They asked us why we weren’t “marked”, they were referring the Mark of the Beast.  They told us that the entire U.S. Armed Forces made a deal with the Prince of the Power of the Air (a common Biblical name for Satan) and they would enforce the mark on the citizens and kill all who refused it.  We then saw them execute an actor who refused the mark.

This almost made me yell.  For one there are a lot of Christians in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Also if people knew Satan was real and was attempting to take over the earth, then I find it hard to believe that many people would blindly follow him.

Next we were taken through various scenes of people dying and being dragged away by demons.  Eventually we made it to a scene where a family was looking up a hill at a bright, glowing throne, atop this throne was Jesus Christ.  He reached his arms out toward the family.  The mother looked at her husband and two young daughters and decided that she would go to Jesus instead of staying with them or trying to help them get to Jesus with her.  She just left them to die and be tortured by demons forever and ever in Hell.  I don’t know what kind of selfishness and arrogance it would take to make any mother who loves her family to do that.

Finally we were taken into a room and the gospel was shared to us and we were given a tract.  They then had us fill out a form about who we are and what our religious background is.  Finally we were left with an ominous message.  (This is not word-for-word, but its close)  “What you saw tonight is what will happen to all those who do not have Christ.  We hope you learned about what will happen and where you will go when you die.”

I would have written this post last night after the event, but I was so angry at the church that put on the event that I just couldn’t write anything that didn’t include an insane amount of profanities.  Now some of the scenes in this show were genuinely frightening.  When you’re standing in a happy church service and suddenly gun shots go off and people are yelling at you to get on the ground or when you’re looking at a crashed school bus and people dressed like demons start dragging away screaming, bloody children, its a bit disturbing.  They recommend this show for children as young as 12, but there were kids as young as five there.  I cannot stand this.

One of the worst things you can do is scare people into your religion.  Sending a young, impressionable child into that event and hoping that they’ll be scared into your religion is terrible.  People who have religion should have it because they believe in it and because they seek a relationship with God, not because they were too scared of hell to do anything else.  But I do recommend that everyone goes to one of these “walk through the end times” events, there are a lot of churches that do it.

TL;DR: The U.S. will never make religion illegal.  Scaring people into religion is a horrible thing to do.

Thanks for reading!  Please leave any thoughts you have in the comment section!

Hopefully my next post will be my story of who I am and how I became an atheist.

Religious Indoctrination and Russell’s Teapot

Tonight at my church’s youth group, which I do not attend of my own accord, we were shown a video that was supposed to show us what gives God joy.  The video was of a very young girl, maybe 5 or 6 years old, reciting Psalm 23 (and, of course, you can purchase a HD version of the video for $1.99).  As the video played, my entire youth group expressed how adorable it was and how great God must be because of a child’s “faith” .

My reaction was different.  The video make me sick.  There are people on this earth who think it is not only a good thing, but a necessity of their God-given faith to impose upon their beliefs that cannot be proven onto their children.  I cannot stand for that sort of forced indoctrination of the impressionable youth.

It’s not rocket science nor is it insane to say that children are impressionable.  They are wet clay, ready to be molded by their parents.  If you were to give that moldable mind to a religious person then they are likely to put religious ideas into the mind of the child.  I would have no issue with this if there was evidence for the existence of a supreme being.

I view God very similarly to Russell’s teapot.

Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.

-Bertrand Russell, “Is There a God?”

I ought to call myself an agnostic; but, for all practical purposes, I am an atheist. I do not think the existence of the Christian God any more probable than the existence of the Gods of Olympus or Valhalla. To take another illustration: nobody can prove that there is not between the Earth and Mars a china teapot revolving in an elliptical orbit, but nobody thinks this sufficiently likely to be taken into account in practice. I think the Christian God just as unlikely.

-Bertrand Russell

I believe that if you took that first quote of Russell’s and replaced every reference to the teapot with “God” then that would accurately describe the state of His existence.  I will not believe in God unless he can be proven to exist, just as I will not believe in the orbiting teapot unless it can be proven.  I choose not to believe because the only evidence that exists is personal stories of people I have met and a book that has a lot of issues (see EvilBible.com and The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible).  It is easier to believe ideas such as the big bang and evolution by natural selection since they have far more proof (if you disagree with the proof of these two ideas here then I would love it if you would do the follow: read the entire Holy Book of your religion, read through proofs of evolution, and read through proofs of the big bang).

It is insane to indoctrinate your child with unproven beliefs that stem from religious books with countless inconsistencies.  I’m not saying we should outlaw religion or make it illegal to teach religion to children.  Parents should have a deep evaluation of their beliefs and their religion before forcing it on their children.

TL;DR:  There is no proof for religion so don’t force it on your kids.