Am I missing the god gene?

May 24, 2008 at 1:08 pm 37 comments

When it comes to the idea of a deity, I’m an “agnostic” atheist. I really do keep an open mind: How could I not? Our human, scientific capacity for understanding the universe is still in its infancy. Yes, we’ve come a long way baby, but nobody claims that humankind has “arrived.”

I’m quite persuaded that the anthropomorphic “old man on a throne” god of the three major world religions is a fictional character. But is there some greater entity, consciousness or purpose in the universe (or of the universe) that’s simply beyond our finite skills of detection?

There certainly could be.

A line in The Ghost Map (a wonderful nonfiction book I’ve written about here before) sticks in my head. The book tells the story of the last great cholera epidemic of London and the two men (a doctor and a minister) who solved the disease transmission puzzle. Specifically, they isolated a contaminated water pump in the neighborhood where the outbreak occurred and shut it down, stemming the epidemic.

But they did their work before the germ theory of disease. As author Steven Johnson put it, the idea that invisible cholera molecules were floating around in that water would have been as laughable to them as the idea that invisible fairies are floating around in our gardens is to us today.

So I don’t close my mind to the possibility of god, but I also don’t hold my breath waiting for a sign from this inscrutable divinity. As I move farther away from evangelical Christianity, I find myself developing more confidence, self-reliance and independent coping skills. My life is freer, happier and more fulfilling. In fact, sometimes I wonder whether my lack of striving for “spiritual truth,” when all around me people seem to be obsessed with it, means that I am missing something.

Do I lack a god gene? Have I “hardened my heart”? Is my spiritual “radar system” shut down? Should I care?

Remember The Emperor’s New Clothes? A post by science blogger (and outspoken atheist) P.Z. Myers takes off on that with The Courtier’s Reply. What do you think? Is there an inscrutable, complex and mysterious being out there somewhere that humans should worship? Or is the emperor really naked?

- Karen

Entry filed under: Karen. Tags: , , , , .

Thoughts on Ethics, Post De-Conversion Why d-C? – Answer the damn question Mr. Priest!

37 Comments Add your own

  • [...] any bit about this blog knows that I am an unabashed agnostic-atheist. Over at d-C, Karen wrote an interesting article that I think adequately sums up where I stand as well. I recognize that I will never be in a [...]

  • 2. Harry  |  May 24, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    In fact, sometimes I wonder whether my lack of striving for “spiritual truth,” when all around me people seem to be obsessed with it, means that I am missing something.

    Having grown up in a non-religious family and a generally non-religious peer group (middle class Londoners — who usually defaulted to ‘agnostic’), I’ve never felt I was was missing out on anything, or that atheism was an emotionally or spiritually difficult position to take.

    So when people claim that some kind of religious instinct is fundamental to human nature — well, all I can say is that I don’t feel it myself.

    Religion clearly has a profound appeal for a lot of people, and must be very well suited to appeal to human nature in whatever ways; but equally, many millions of people get along well enough without it. And probably always have, really: even in the times when it was socially difficult to put it quite so bluntly, I bet there were plenty of people who paid lip service but actually just didn’t care.

  • 3. Anna-Liza  |  May 24, 2008 at 7:55 pm

    I grew up in a “mixed” environment as far as religion goes. My mother is a practicing Catholic and brought us kids up in the Church, my dad believes is sort of an agnostic with leanings toward a form of Deism, if anything.

    I myself find that, while I understand and empathize with both agnosticism and atheism, I am apparently unable to disbelieve in some form of overarching awareness in (or of, as you put it) the universe. I have to say that I am almost constantly aware of a Presence. I don’t find myself needing to “discover spiritual truth”, in that I think my mind is too limited to encompass such a thing. I do find myself searching for *my* truth, in terms of living as near to it as possible, in any given moment.

  • 4. Anna-Liza  |  May 24, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Ahem. Sorry for the wandering sentence about my dad–I meant he “is a sort of agnostic with … “. That’s what happens when I change thoughts in mid-sentence.

  • 5. Ted Goas  |  May 24, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    So I don’t close my mind to the possibility of god, but I also don’t hold my breath waiting for a sign from this inscrutable divinity.

    Great take on the agnostic atheist approach. I probably fall into the same camp. We’re open minded but not expecting a miracle anytime soon. We wrote a short, somewhat similar article asking why people expected miracles to happen in their lifetime (though we didn’t get any comments from theists and believers…).

  • 6. Jesse Colburn  |  May 24, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    “As I move farther away from evangelical Christianity, I find myself developing more confidence, self-reliance and independent coping skills. My life is freer, happier and more fulfilling.”

    i’m tracking with you…
    and i am a pastor in what would be a supposed “evangelical” church.
    what xianity has become is something disgusting. and the idea of god is over-rated. if there is anything/one that acts as spiritual, unseen god/creator over the universe, it must be disappointed in what we have done with spirituality.

    as i have matured past the fundamental, traditional xianity, i have grown more confident and responsible also. very good thought.

    for me, i have actually grown in my faith by letting it be less of an issue.

  • 7. Yurka  |  May 24, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    Do I lack a god gene? Have I “hardened my heart”?

    The only “gene” you are missing is re-”gene”-eration. But you are no “harder” than anyone else before regeneration. Dead is dead. We are all born spiritually dead.

    Should I care?
    The point is academic. You won’t care in the natural state. Whether you eventually care depends, as Van Til observed, on what God does with you. But you do have a moral duty to love God and keep his commandments, and this cannot be effaced by not caring, any more than Al Capone’s moral obligations can be effaced by his not caring.

    But is there some greater entity, consciousness or purpose in the universe
    William Lane Craig thinks this entity (God) is personal because:
    1) The universe was created at a fixed point in time in the past. Only a personal agent can choose to arbitrarily produce an effect at a certain point in time. If a sufficient non-personal cause of the universe had always existed, the universe would have always existed and we would have experienced the heat death of the universe by now.
    2) Since the material universe had a point of origin, its cause was immaterial. We know of only two types of immaterial entities: minds and abstract objects such as numbers and sets. But abstract objects do not stand in causal relationships to material things. Minds do.

  • 8. midiguru  |  May 24, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Religion is certainly the result of an instinctive drive, but that doesn’t mean it’s produced by a single gene. Dawkins suggests, and I find it persuasive, that we have a genetic predisposition to believe whatever our parents (and by extension, other authority figures) tell us.

    A tendency to do that will certainly aid you in surviving long enough to reproduce. You’ll probably pick up some useful information about which foods are poisonous, for instance.

    Once the idea of powerful invisible entities appears in a tribe, it tends to become self-perpetuating, because each generation provides the “authority” for it, thus passing it on. That’s where the “God” concept comes from.

    But I’m from Missouri. You’ll have to show me. I decline to believe any self-proclaimed authority on such an important subject: I want to see the Big Spook with my own eyes.

    And frankly, if there’s a Big Spook out there who deliberately hides from us in order to force us to acquire, somehow, an entirely irrational faith, I have no respect whatever for such an entity. Such an entity, if it existed, would be contemptible.

    So either there is no God, or God is contemptible. Take your pick.

    –Jim Aikin

  • 9. The Apostate  |  May 24, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    William Lane Craig, via Yurka,

    Only a personal agent can choose to arbitrarily produce an effect at a certain point in time.

    Non sequitur.

    If a sufficient non-personal cause of the universe had always existed, the universe would have always existed and we would have experienced the heat death of the universe by now.

    Non sequitur.

    Since the material universe had a point of origin, its cause was immaterial.

    Non sequitur.

    We know of only two types of immaterial entities

    Absence of definition.

    Sorry Willy, it really is too bad that you chose to debate with historians and scientists rather than philosophers, because then you might actually have some credibility in the arena of the philosophy of religion (such as Dr. Plantinga). One suggestion to yourself – please at least read the works of contemporary scientists in regards to quantum mechanics before making ridiculous statements about the “material” and “immaterial” that you obviously don’t understand (I don’t entirely blame you, it is quite technical).

  • 10. cburfield  |  May 24, 2008 at 11:09 pm

    I would just like to quote a rather long passage from C.S. Lewis in the “Weight of Glory” page 135 in the paperback version:

    The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears … in other words, unless Reason is an absolute – all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture (sic, naturalist origins) also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction. They ask me to ask me to at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based.

    End of quote.

    I can’t think of a better way of saying what I wanted to say than that.

  • 11. karen  |  May 25, 2008 at 12:02 am

    Harry:

    Religion clearly has a profound appeal for a lot of people, and must be very well suited to appeal to human nature in whatever ways; but equally, many millions of people get along well enough without it. And probably always have, really: even in the times when it was socially difficult to put it quite so bluntly, I bet there were plenty of people who paid lip service but actually just didn’t care.

    Thanks for your comment, Harry. You bring a great perspective to the topic.

    I think for those who did not grow up with religion, there must be far less social pressure to adopt one. When you’re still surrounded by friends and family who make religion a top priority, it’s easy to wonder why you don’t feel that way anymore.

    Anna-Liza:

    I myself find that, while I understand and empathize with both agnosticism and atheism, I am apparently unable to disbelieve in some form of overarching awareness in (or of, as you put it) the universe. I have to say that I am almost constantly aware of a Presence.

    Interesting how different we all are, isn’t it? I’ve heard other people say the same thing, or similar.

    For me, almost as soon as I let myself truly consider the possibility that there was no god (an earth-shattering moment, to be sure), I realized it was very likely that god(s) were a human invention. I have never felt any kind of supernatural presence since (not that I particularly had a strong feeling of that before, except for a few instances).

    Ted Goas:

    Great take on the agnostic atheist approach. I probably fall into the same camp. We’re open minded but not expecting a miracle anytime soon.

    Exactly. I really do feel like I’m open-minded, but I’m not going out looking for something or trying to persuade myself of something that I don’t have good reason to believe. Perhaps if I had an overwhelming need (emotional or otherwise) to believe, I could try to re-conjure belief in god. But the truth is, I really don’t feel that need – quite the opposite in fact.

    Thanks for the link to your article!

  • 12. karen  |  May 25, 2008 at 12:14 am

    Jesse:

    i’m tracking with you…
    and i am a pastor in what would be a supposed “evangelical” church.
    what xianity has become is something disgusting. and the idea of god is over-rated. if there is anything/one that acts as spiritual, unseen god/creator over the universe, it must be disappointed in what we have done with spirituality.

    Hi Jesse, glad to see you here. Are you still a pastor? We have several pastors/former pastors/former seminary students in our ranks here. What is it that has persuaded you that Christianity is far off-track?

    as i have matured past the fundamental, traditional xianity, i have grown more confident and responsible also. very good thought.

    for me, i have actually grown in my faith by letting it be less of an issue.

    What do you mean “less of an issue”? Are you less obsessed with it, less fundamentalist about it, or ?? Just curious.

    Yurka:

    But you do have a moral duty to love God and keep his commandments, and this cannot be effaced by not caring, any more than Al Capone’s moral obligations can be effaced by his not caring.

    Hi Yurka! I’m not impressed with a god who creates humans and obliges them with the “duty” to love and obey him. Sounds like someone I wouldn’t admire or respect in real life. And this is the first time anyone’s ever compared me to Al Capone… I haven’t knocked off any banks or even cheated on my taxes lately. ;-)

    If a sufficient non-personal cause of the universe had always existed, the universe would have always existed and we would have experienced the heat death of the universe by now.

    I’m not a cosmologist, but I don’t think there’s consensus about whether the universe has always existed or not. At least one theory posits that the universe goes through cycles of contraction and expansion, punctuated by Big Bangs and Big Implosion events. As far as I understand it, there’s really not enough information to make definitive statements like this, let alone use them to “prove” that there’s a god.

  • 13. karen  |  May 25, 2008 at 12:29 am

    midiguru:

    But I’m from Missouri. You’ll have to show me. I decline to believe any self-proclaimed authority on such an important subject: I want to see the Big Spook with my own eyes.

    And frankly, if there’s a Big Spook out there who deliberately hides from us in order to force us to acquire, somehow, an entirely irrational faith, I have no respect whatever for such an entity. Such an entity, if it existed, would be contemptible.

    Yes, that’s how I feel too. Particularly when said entity ties our eternal bliss or torture to picking the “right” belief system in the midst of a huge swirl of conflicting beliefs, none of which are backed up by proof. Any god who would do that, without making it clear beyond a reasonable doubt which is the “right” belief system, is blatantly unjust.

    This is one reason why I’ve rejected theism entirely, and I think anyone who’s truly honest with themselves and thinks it through logically is obliged to do the same.

    cburfield:

    The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts. Unless inference is valid, the whole picture disappears … in other words, unless Reason is an absolute – all is in ruins. Yet those who ask me to believe this world picture (sic, naturalist origins) also ask me to believe that Reason is simply the unforeseen and unintended by-product of mindless matter at one stage of its endless and aimless becoming. Here is flat contradiction. They ask me to ask me to at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based.

    End of quote.

    I can’t think of a better way of saying what I wanted to say than that.

    It would be more helpful to me if you commented in your own words, cburfield. I truly don’t follow the C.S. Lewis quote because it’s taken out of context and perhaps you mistyped some of it. For instance:

    The whole picture professes to depend on inferences from observed facts.

    What “whole picture” are we talking about? What inferences? What observed facts?

    I’m guessing what he’s trying to say is that reason (or perhaps better: consciousness) cannot have arisen by natural means, through natural selection. I disagree, as do many/most biologists. In fact, today we know that many mammals have at least rudimentary conscious thought, are self-aware and can reason through the choices they make, though certainly not at the same level as humans.

    So, I don’t find this argument persuasive and I don’t think the way he phrases it is very good. What does this sentence mean?

    They ask me to ask me to at the same moment to accept a conclusion and to discredit the only testimony on which that conclusion can be based.

    Perhaps there are some typos in there, I’m not sure. But it’s sort of reads like mumbo-jumbo.

    I’ll have a post on that – theological double-speak – coming up later this weekend. I submitted a longer article and d-C wisely, and skillfully, edited it into two smaller pieces. So stay tuned.

  • 14. Marianne  |  May 25, 2008 at 7:07 am

    I think the problem you have, and others have, is that you are mentally trying to relate to someone you have never met. The greatest stories ever told were by eye witnesses, not people who went to seminary, and studied some books.

    God can make himself known to us. He will seek us out if we seek Him also. He will do something that will confirm or establish your faith. But since, without faith it is impossible to please God, you first have to be willing to believe.

    If you are willing, and you do seek him, read the bible, and just ask God, if he is real, to reveal himself to you. If you are sincere, He will do this.

    God bless you
    marianne
    http://heavenawaits.wordpress.com/

  • 15. judgesnineteen  |  May 25, 2008 at 7:24 am

    Having been very religious and then reading too much of the Bible, finding the bad stuff, and choosing what made sense to me over what Christians told me to think about it, I don’t think we’re missing anything. I think I’m more loving and happier now, and for all my talk back then about people needing Jesus, I’m getting along just fine without any spiritual beliefs. At first it was hard, because I was used to depending on the idea of final justice, and it was my reflex to pray when I was worried about something. But over time I adjusted, and I’m much more stable now. People told me I’d need some sort of spirituality in my life, but so far I don’t.

  • 16. cburfield  |  May 25, 2008 at 8:55 am

    Karen,
    Forgive me as I wrote my comment late at night, I was tired, and thought that the C.S. Lewis quote stood on it’s own.

    First of all there, are no typos, I checked it twice before submitting and I have checked it again just now. The difficulty may in reading may come because it is I believe a word for word transcription of one of Lewis’ sermons at the Oxford University Socratic Club in 1944. I know sometimes the way that I talk does is not always grammatically correct in written form, perhaps the same is true of Lewis.

    My attempt at providing context was my insertion of parenthesis to explain what the world picture was. Since that was not entirely clear let my try to explain more. What I take from this quote is that naturalist scientists ask us to accept all the theories and laws that they come up with based on reason and reason alone. The ability to observe and draw conclusions is key in this reasoning process. What Lewis and by extension what I am driving at is these theories and laws that we come up with then tell us that our ability to reason is the “unintended” consequence of evolution, of matter just aimlessly living and dying.

    So far as observing that lower mammals have rudimentary self-awareness I would say that is again using your ability to reason and draw conclusions from observed fact. Also, if I were to accept that humans gradually gained self-awareness through time how come in all this time there has not been another species that has gained the same ability to be self-aware at the same level as us? Or much less made small progress towards becoming more self-aware given that this process takes a very long time?

  • 17. inmate1972  |  May 25, 2008 at 9:24 am

    I rear from a large Catholic family. All my siblings still practice and my parents are as hard core as ever. I, however, have never believed in a god. Not even as a child. My father was my catechism teacher when I was five and he recalls (oddly, rather fondly) how I would argue with him about the existence of a god even at that age.

    My atheism now is by pure, unadulterated, conscious belief. But I wonder about the little girl I was and marvel at how inherent that disbelief was and where it came from. Your label of the “god gene” nicely describes that curiosity for me.

  • 18. The Apostate  |  May 25, 2008 at 11:37 am

    cburfield,

    What Lewis and by extension what I am driving at is these theories and laws that we come up with then tell us that our ability to reason is the “unintended” consequence of evolution, of matter just aimlessly living and dying.

    How does one, no matter how religious, come to the idea that “living” is ever aimless, unless you purposely make it so? Ever consider that life has its own inherent purpose?

    …Or much less made small progress towards becoming more self-aware given that this process takes a very long time?

    Who says there hasn’t? Since it is us humans who give the terms “Self-awareness” we may be unaware of what development of “awareness” other species has – and who is to say that all species are to develop “awareness” in the same way? Science is only beginning to learn about the neurological goings on of other species (and continues to learn about our own).

    What I take from this quote is that naturalist scientists ask us to accept all the theories and laws that they come up with based on reason and reason alone.

    Actually science asks us to disprove the theories that it comes up with, but yes, this is based on our reasoning faculty. What other faculty should we use?

    I think every is a little confused on what you are trying to say. You are using your own reasoning process to be skeptical of reason – good! That is the process of reason. Now what? What is assumed by many readers, since you have yet to clarify, is that your skepticism (via Lewis) of reason leads you not to quench that skepticism, but rather to arbitrarily chose (without reason?) what you accept or don’t accept.

  • 19. cburfield  |  May 25, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    If it comes off as me being skeptical of all reason I think you have interpreted my comments in a different way than I intended. What I am trying to say I guess in a round about way is that our ability to reason has a source. For me that source would be God. I still don’t accept that the source of our reasoning ability is just the random chance of evolution.

  • 20. karen  |  May 25, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    cburfield:

    The difficulty may in reading may come because it is I believe a word for word transcription of one of Lewis’ sermons at the Oxford University Socratic Club in 1944.

    Okay, that explains the repeated phrases and mangled syntax of some of those sentences. Why would anyone post a verbatim transcript, without cleaning it up, I wonder? Not very helpful; if anything quite confusing. But I digress …

    What Lewis and by extension what I am driving at is these theories and laws that we come up with then tell us that our ability to reason is the “unintended” consequence of evolution, of matter just aimlessly living and dying.

    What Lewis, and by extension you, don’t seem to grasp is that evolution is not “aimless” or “random.” Yes, it is undirected, but that’s not the same thing as aimless. Lewis did much of his writing a long, long time ago, compared to the advancement of scientific thought of just the last few decades. You would do well to educate yourself more fully about how evolution works, and not rely on his poor understanding of it to inform your opinions.

    I’m no scientist, but as I understand it, natural selection relentlessly pushes organisms toward adaptations that result in better outcomes. For humankind, developing higher order thinking was a huge benefit. It allowed for cooperation, culture, learning ability, self-awareness, planning skills and on and on. Exactly when and how did we develop consciousness? We don’t know, but it’s the subject of much interesting research that seems to tie consciousness in with language acquisition. Stay tuned as more research is done on this fascinating topic.

    So far as observing that lower mammals have rudimentary self-awareness I would say that is again using your ability to reason and draw conclusions from observed fact.

    So what? As TA points out, what other method do we have but reason? Just because you can’t seem to fathom how consciousness arose through natural selection, you want to say “god did it.” But there’s no logical reason to make that leap.

    Also, if I were to accept that humans gradually gained self-awareness through time how come in all this time there has not been another species that has gained the same ability to be self-aware at the same level as us? Or much less made small progress towards becoming more self-aware given that this process takes a very long time?

    Well, for starters, biologists and animal behaviorists are just starting to research this topic, and they’re learning a lot that is very exciting. I recently attended a lecture about the higher order brain functions of great apes and dolphins – two species that evolved separately and yet have very similar large brains and resulting social behaviors.

    So your second sentence, about other species making no progress toward being self-aware, is inaccurate. Great apes, dolphins and elephants have all demonstrated that they are self-aware through experiments that show they recognize themselves in a mirror.

    Your first sentence – how come other species haven’t developed awareness at the same level as humans – who knows? All we know is that it appears obvious that we humans have developed the highest functioning brains of all species. Give dolphins millions of years of additional adaptations and all the right circumstances for them to move forward and they might rule the world some day after we get wiped out by global warming, or who knows what.

  • 21. The Apostate  |  May 25, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    cburfield,

    If it comes off as me being skeptical of all reason I think you have interpreted my comments in a different way than I intended.

    My apologize then, it seems that I misunderstood what you were driving at.

    What I am trying to say I guess in a round about way is that our ability to reason has a source.

    Source: a place, person, or thing from which something comes or can be obtained.
    The source of our reasoning faculty is our brain. I have no “reason” (excuse the pun) to believe I must have an external source for this faculty.

    For me that source would be God.

    Why?

    I still don’t accept that the source of our reasoning ability is just the random chance of evolution.

    This is where we can clarify some things. Evolution, as scientists understand it (as opposed to creationist proponents) has little to do with randomness and “chance.” Since Darwin, the theory of evolution has been explained by the means of natural selection, which opposes the idea that species come about by chance.
    The fact is, I don’t think you cannot accept that the source of our reasoning is by means of natural selection either – I think you have a theological hurdle which does not allow you to accept any aspect of evolutionary theory. Once you are able to overcome that hurdle, such as in the case of the evangelical Francis Collins or the Catholic Kenneth Miller, you would find no problem accepting that the source of our reasoning faculty is the brain, which developed through means of natural selection (and you could even still believe in whatever god you chose).

  • 22. Religion and the U.S. Mortgage Crisis « de-conversion  |  May 26, 2008 at 11:20 am

    [...] this odd confluence of ideas? Mainly that I’m glad to be a skeptic. I don’t care if I’m missing a god gene or I’m derided by religious people for being “cold-hearted” or [...]

  • 23. cburfield  |  May 26, 2008 at 11:51 am

    My comments have been trying to elevate the discussion to a higher plane, driving at the source of our reasoning ability.

    I rest my case on two points:

    The Law of Conservation of Mass/Energy which I think fairly summarizes that in a closed system the amount of mass/energy remains constant, it may be rearranged to create new forms of matter but nothing is added or subtracted from the system. To my mind’s eye in layman’s terms this means you cannot create something out of nothing.

    It is all fine and well that you may believe in the big bang and billions of years of evolution, but how did that small ball of matter before the big bang come to be?

    The second point that I rest my case on is in scripture, Romans 1:19-20,

    because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

    In this way, God allows our use of the reasoning ability that He gave us to question, to figure out, to eventually drive us to asking Him why?

    As to not being able to deal with evolution, I can accept micro-evolution, that small adaptations can benefit a species. The gap to make the leap that these small adaptations over millions of years produce different species is still a bit large for me.

  • 24. Obi  |  May 26, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    cburfield

    As a 16-year-old who just took a year of AP Biology (haha, credentials), I must say you’re quite mistaken in your assumptions.

    The Law of Conservation of Mass-Energy wouldn’t be violated by the Big Bang Theory. It seems to be a common misconception among theists such as yourself that the theory posits that the Universe exploded “out of nothing”. However, this is not the case.

    Scientists hypothesize that there was an infinitely dense singularity that “exploded”, so to speak, and birthed the Universe that we know today after expanding, cooling, the condensation of hydrogen into stars, nucleosynthesis, et cetera. That’s putting it extremely simply, but I think it will suffice in this situation.

    Where my biology credentials come in are with regards to evolution. You say you “believe” in micro-evolution and not macro-evolution? That has to be one of the most misguided statements I’ve ever seen. Disregarding the massive amounts of evidence we have for the latter such as the Tiktaalik fossil (an ancient progenitor of the modern tetrapods, it was a four-legged fish, to put it simply) and Archaeopteryx the “lizard-bird”; the logic in your statement is faulty in and of itself.

    Saying micro happens but macro doesn’t is tantamount to saying that you believe that I can walk a mile down the street, but I cannot walk 12 miles across town to the mall. Macro is a culmination of micro, and to believe in one and not the other makes no sense whatsoever.

    On your comment about how “God is evident in all”, which God? Every religion has verses that state that non-believers are wrong, that it’s God(s) have planted evidence all around, et cetera. You must realize that all of these religions were created by ancient peoples seeking to explain the unknown and cold world around them while giving themselves comfort in the face of our indefatigable adversary, death, who’s victory is inevitable. You must come to grips with reality.

  • 25. cburfield  |  May 26, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Obi,
    One question that I have that I don’t think you answered,

    Where does that “infinitely dense singularity” that you speak of originate? My understanding of the law of conservation of mass/energy tells me as I stated above that you cannot create something out of nothing.

  • 26. Obi  |  May 26, 2008 at 3:23 pm

    Who is to say that it wasn’t eternal? Jumping to the “we don’t know, so God did it” conclusion has been proven false so many countless times during the course of human history that I find it utterly laughable that people still cling to the idea.

    If you put your hand on a hot stove and got burned 100 times, what makes you think you won’t experience searing pain and charred skin on the 101st try?

  • 27. goDamn  |  May 27, 2008 at 5:16 am

    CBur,
    You have misunderstood the laws of thermodynamics. It says that the energy of a system cannot be changed, it must always remain constant. There is a diference. Furthermore, when we approach the quantum scale, the laws of physics as we know them are not applicable. At the quantum level, things happen without cause, common sense breaks down. One phenomea at the quantum level that takes place throughout the universe has been reproduced in particle accelerators is vaccum fluctuations which result in the creation of particle and anti-particle pairs that are destroyed a fraction of a second later. Or take the zeno paradox and the observer effect, where in extremely short spaces of time, a quantum particle does not loose energy ( i.e, acts like it is frozen in time). Conventional physics (like Newtonian) makes as little sense here as it does at close to the speed of light. It simply doesnt apply and using it to support your arguements is useless.

  • 28. LeoPardus  |  May 27, 2008 at 10:57 am

    cburfield:

    The Law of Conservation of Mass/Energy which I think fairly summarizes that in a closed system the amount of mass/energy remains constant, it may be rearranged to create new forms of matter but nothing is added or subtracted from the system. To my mind’s eye in layman’s terms this means you cannot create something out of nothing.

    First, who said you’re dealing with a closed system? Second, if energy cannot be created or destroyed, and you can’t create something out of nothing, then God violated the law. Then He left us to investigate (with our reasoning abilities) a universe that has laws, but you have to postulate violations of those laws in order to come up with God existing. Circular illogic again. The same thing that must be used to support all religious belief.

    Also, if I were to accept that humans gradually gained self-awareness through time how come in all this time there has not been another species that has gained the same ability to be self-aware at the same level as us?

    First, it takes a long time for any such thing to happen. Second, any trait coming into existence is a highly unlikely event. Third, the development of a trait in one species can then act to make it less likely for any other species to develop the same trait. Just a few, simplified statements of reasons for you.

    Or much less made small progress towards becoming more self-aware given that this process takes a very long time?

    The amount of research necessary to discern this would be staggering. We don’t even have any good measures for determining rationality in a creature. (Hence the arguments over whether dolphins are sentient or not.) Then consider that we’ve only been doing decent research on this planet for maybe a century. You conclude that if some creatures are becoming more sentient, we don’t know how to discern it, and we certainly haven’t been looking long enough.

  • 29. Andrea  |  May 27, 2008 at 11:19 am

    Duh! Of course you don’t believe in God! You haven’t “made every though captive for Christ!”

  • 30. Andrea  |  May 27, 2008 at 11:19 am

    *thoughT

    sorry

  • 31. yurka  |  May 27, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Second, if energy cannot be created or destroyed, and you can’t create something out of nothing, then God violated the law.

    But God isn’t nothing. Only your cosmology demands the absurd concept of creation ex-nihilo. From nothing. By nothing.

    And these various models alluded to above such as the “vacuum fluctuation” or oscillating models of the origin of the universe have been largely abandoned:

    http://www.rfmedia.org/RF_audio_video/Defender_podcast/20040502CosmologicalArgumentPart1.mp3
    http://www.rfmedia.org/RF_audio_video/Defender_podcast/20040509CosmologicalArgumentPart2.mp3
    http://www.rfmedia.org/RF_audio_video/Defender_podcast/20040516CosmologicalArgumentPart3.mp3
    http://www.rfmedia.org/RF_audio_video/Defender_podcast/20040530CosmologicalArgumentPart4.mp3
    http://www.rfmedia.org/RF_audio_video/Defender_podcast/20040606CosmologicalArgumentPart5.mp3

    The history of twentieth century cosmology has largely been an attempt to disprove the Big Bang model, due to the ideological prejudices against supernaturalism. But fatal flaws have turned up in all these models.

  • 32. Ubi Dubium  |  May 27, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    LeoPardus:

    “The amount of research necessary to discern this would be staggering. We don’t even have any good measures for determining rationality in a creature. (Hence the arguments over whether dolphins are sentient or not.)”

    Actually, I have seen some rather interesting studies about animal self-awareness in recent years. Researchers have been using the “mirror test” – a test as to whether a creature is able to recognize that what they see in a mirror is their own image rather than another creature. So far, I have seen that all the great apes, dolphins, and asian elephants can all pass this test. (I’d love to see if an African Gray Parrot could pass. I have not seen this as a test.) So I think we have a starting point for which animals to look at as possibly sentient. I am definitely not sure that humans are the only sentient creatures on the planet. (And, of course, per Douglas Adams, dolphins are obviously smarter than humans!) I’d love to see more research on the subject.

  • 33. karen  |  May 27, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Duh! Of course you don’t believe in God! You haven’t “made every though captive for Christ!”

    Ah yes, of course – d’oh!

    Drat those thoughts; they’re always trying to escape captivity! ;-)

  • 34. Kayology » Link Roundup  |  May 28, 2008 at 9:53 am

    [...] also pointed out that de-Conversion had gotten in on the recent theology conversation. My reading this post led me to a trackback to this [...]

  • 35. jthorine  |  July 29, 2008 at 9:49 am

    I’m sure that what the Word of God does not accomplish the words of an image of God will neither accomplish, but for the record I agree with the conclusions of C.S. Lewis and his supporters on this page. One of his detractors has stated that there is a difference between ‘aimless’ and ‘undirected’ yet in the same sentence (I believe) he or she (can’t remember which) states something to the effect that natural selection is constantly producing a ‘better’ product. C.S. Lewis and surely many before him have made the argument that the whole concept of ‘better’ requires there be a standard to measure it against. I submit that the standard is in our concsiousness because ‘God’ put it there. There is no rational way to proove or refute this because God has choosen faith as the mechanism so that no-one else may boast. God alone receives the Glory when our human rationalism is inadequate to have fellowship with Him.

  • 36. Obi  |  July 29, 2008 at 10:54 am

    jthorine –

    Natural selection produces organisms that are better suited to their environment. There doesn’t need to be a “standard” (and there isn’t one), because natural selection isn’t on the road to the “perfect organism”; it simply weeds out the organisms that aren’t suited to the environment that they are in.

    There is no rational way to proove [sic] or refute this…

    Seems like I just did. Regardless, who are you to even say such a thing? It seems to me that you’re asserting this in the hope of keeping a gap open that your God can reside in, away from rational thought. Quite disengenious, in my opinion.

    Oh, and another thing. When you say there is no way to prove/refute an explanation that you give forth, that instantly disqualifies it as a valid statement. Instantly. Try not to do that.

  • 37. szybki kredyt gotowkowy  |  March 21, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    Very good info. Lucky me I came across your site by chance (stumbleupon).

    I’ve bookmarked it for later!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

Twitter

Archives

Blog Stats

  • 1,994,206 hits since March 2007

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 188 other followers