Your authority…what I really think

#atheist #atheism -

One thing I’ve discovered talking to believers, is they’re often quickly discomforted by the fact I don’t take them at their word.  To me, this seems to be a given. It seems to be a hard thing for them to accept. 

I think I understand why.  A believer is coming from a community where they do have authority.  In that community, their knowledge and claims are treated with respect- because in that community, the believer has obtained a degree of authority. And it’s hard to let go of that.  The result is that many Christians or Mulsims I’ve debated, just start by assuming I will concede they have a similar degree of authority.

Well, let me burst your bubble. Outside your community- in the bright light of the internet- your authority counts for squat- nada- nothing- zero.  I’m not going take you at your word for anything.  If you want me to treat you as an authority on these issues, you have to start from scratch.  You have to establish the veracity of your claims with solid evidence. Your word is not going to suffice.

#atheist #atheism -
Always worth reminding people. It is not lack of knowledge of your religion that makes me an atheist. It is that we actually tend to have more knowledge, which actually reinforces disbelief

#atheist #atheism -

Always worth reminding people. It is not lack of knowledge of your religion that makes me an atheist. It is that we actually tend to have more knowledge, which actually reinforces disbelief

(Source: christinsanity)

Sigh, a house is not a universe

#atheist #atheism

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Sometimes I get this argument popping up. It’s an argument from analogy. Kind of, because we know houses were designed and built, and a house is like the universe, it must be that the universe was designed and built by a creator.

Like most arguments from analogy, it is a weak argument*. It is not an appeal to evidence. It is an appeal to all sorts of hidden assumptions and presumptions that get attached to it. It fails simply because those assumptions aren’t shared by others.

We can test the claim that houses are designed objects. This is based on the following traits:

  • Observations: we actually see houses getting built by human agents. So far, nobody has observed a universe being built by an external agent.
  • Objective: a house has a specific objective. It provides shelter etc for the occupants. It is this use to which it is purposely built that tells us its designed. Nobody has proved that the universe has a like-objective. The universe appears entirely indifferent to our existence. It was around about 14bn years before we turned up, and will continue long after our solar-system dies.
  • Efficiency: this relatives to objective. Objects that are designed try to meet their objectives in efficient ways- needless redundancy, wastage of materials, inflated risks- all invalidate the idea of design. A vast universe that hurtles deadly space rocks at us, and bathes us in deadly UV radiation, could do with some tweaks.
  • Economy: designed artifacts are constrained by the resources available for their use. The decision to use one input over another, is driven by a conscious and deliberate observable decision. We don’t observe these substitutions occurring in the universe.

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* Indeed, if you have to make an argument based on an analogy that cannot be supported by evidence, chances are it’s fatally flawed. Please stop.

#atheist #atheism- It gets tiresome reading the assertion by many Christians that somehow, atheism is an heroic act of faith. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is just the absence of belief in gods. Pretty much for the same reason I have the absence of belief in ESP, leprechauns or trolls. There’s no evidence for such things.

#atheist #atheism
- It gets tiresome reading the assertion by many Christians that somehow, atheism is an heroic act of faith. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is just the absence of belief in gods. Pretty much for the same reason I have the absence of belief in ESP, leprechauns or trolls. There’s no evidence for such things.

I don’t get it

- #atheist #atheism -

there always seems to be some Christian out there who is convinced the reason I’m an atheist, is because I’ve never heard the good news about Jesus. It’s like they’re expecting me to go “Oh wow, never heard of the guy. This is interesting, tell me more”.

You have to realise that in Western countries, atheists by and large are familiar with the whole Jesus story. And telling it to me all over again is just going to make my eyes glaze over. Nobody is an atheist because they’re not familiar with the purported life of Jesus.  We’ve all heard it before.

As atheists, we’re going to have a whole bunch of objections to why your claim that Jesus is the son of god doesn’t stack up. Turning up in preaching-mode and ignoring these objections is an utter waste of time. I don’t care what you believe. And the whole Jesus spiel fails for three basic reasons:

  1. Many of the claims about Jesus aren’t extraordinary by the standards of the ancient era. Lots of people allegedly had divine origin. Many were worshiped later as gods. They were seen after their deaths (cf. Plutarch and Julius Caesar).  We don’t think superstitious ancient people were so hot at recording ‘just the facts’.
  2. There aren’t any contemporaneous accounts of the life of Jesus. Nobody in this era noticed. Here’s supposedly the greatest historical event in earth’s history and it doesn’t get the attention of any historian writing in this era. Pliny the Elder, Philo of Judea- never noticed.
  3. It really doesn’t make any sense. Jesus is supposed to be the lamb of god- the sacrifice that washes away the original sin caused by Adam and Eve.  Except of course, science has shown there was never any Adam and Eve. No garden of Eden, so no original sin. So…what was the point of the crucifixion again?

No amount of repetition of the line that Jesus loves me and died for my sins, is going to make one iota of sense. It will have absolutely no impact. The evidence seems to point to Jesus simply being a failed Jewish insurrectionist in a time of religious and civil strife in Judea. If you want me to believe otherwise, then, fine, deal with the objections to your claim.

Please don’t bother trying to convert me

- #atheist #atheism -

After a spate of such attempts, it seems prudent to make some responses.  It is largely a waste of time.

  1. I’m a middle-aged, Ph.D. biologist. I should point out that the successful conversion rate of this demographic is zip. People get primed for belief as children and it’s almost always in the early phase of life people convert. Educated, mature, biologists don’t.
  2. Personal testimony isn’t evidence. Just stop it. Maybe you were a promiscuous, coke-sniffing addict into auto-erotic asphyxia before Jesus saved you. That just tells me you were a heck of a lot more interesting before you were saved.
  3. Qualification to (2). My personal experience is that Jesus-freaks always lie to me (eventually). If you’ve got valid evidence, fine. Otherwise, I’m not interested in your life story. It’s not germane.
  4. Learn the God-of-the-Gaps fallacy. Seriously, it’s called a fallacy for a good reason. The valid response to ‘science is uncertain’ or ‘science doesn’t know’, isn’t “A ha! that means God did it, so he exists. And was a dead-Jew-on-a-stick. And so heaven and hell exist. And you can spend eternity kissing his arse thanking him for not torturing you if you believe”.
  5. Don’t assume my life is empty or meaningless. This is incredibly patronising. I don’t need Bronze-mythology to give me life meaning. You want to find out what gives my life meaning- ask me. Don’t pretend you’ve got the answer and I haven’t.
  6. Don’t assume I must envy your life. This is something the religious really fail to grip in my experience. You’ve converted, you’re feeling happy, you think your life has more meaning. Great, I don’t care. That’s not what I see. I see someone afraid to live in, and experience reality. Someone eager to assume the mantle of needless guilt, to deny the facts of the world, someone waiting to die so that they qualify for a better afterlife. I’ve traveled and worked in 4 continents around some amazing people and wildlife. I wouldn’t trade that for wasting my life on my knees even if you were happier.

Depressing Facts: geez 'atheists' are annoying..

depressingfacts:

alanfuckingkhan:

most are just as self righteous as any religious zealot.

But we won’t kill you for disagreeing with us, that can’t be said about religious zealots.

and never have i seen a group so adamantly opposed to ”intolerance.” ironic.

Not really.

and let the records show for…

The important thing about scientists

- #atheist #atheism -

Every so often, you run into Christians or Muslims who get a bit whiny. They complain that I’ll take the claims of scientists seriously, but not them (& the apologists they use). This leads to the complaint I’m not being fair. I’m prepared to accept some claims on faith but not theirs.

Well, that kind of misses the point. There’s an important thing about the scinetific method.

  • If you ask a scientist why they claim something is true, they come back, “sure, this is the evidence for what we’ve discovered.” This claim gets tested and verified regularly.
  • If you ask a theist why they claim something is true, you don’t get evidence to support it. They’ll invent reasons why the standards of evidence shouldn’t apply to their case. What you’re more likely to get is threats. If I don’t believe their claims, then I’ll be made to suffer for eternity when I die (its very convenient how many proofs of god have to wait until I’m dead to test their veracity).

That’s the difference guys. Scientists don’t tell me I have to believe them and they do provide evidence when asked. Religious people constantly tell me I just have to believe them, and won’t supply evidence if asked.

- #atheist #atheism -friendlyatheist:

9-11

Thankyou religion, for your crusades and jihads, your oppression of women and other minorities, your terrorising the minds of children with threats of eternal hell and torture, your inquisitions and witchtrials, your promotion of bronzeage fables as true and scientiic facts as false, your persecution of heretics, apostates and blasphemers.
Where would human civilisation be without you.

- #atheist #atheism -
friendlyatheist
:

9-11

Thankyou religion, for your crusades and jihads, your oppression of women and other minorities, your terrorising the minds of children with threats of eternal hell and torture, your inquisitions and witchtrials, your promotion of bronzeage fables as true and scientiic facts as false, your persecution of heretics, apostates and blasphemers.

Where would human civilisation be without you.

The - I was a former #atheist - ploy

#god #jesus

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Every so often, you run into a religious person who employs this line on you. They claim they were an atheist but then, they saw the light (or whatever). There’s a moment of awkwardness that follows this clumsy attempt to build a rapport.

Here’s why it doesn’t work.

  • First, there isn’t any commonly-held doctrines to atheism. You can’t presume your former reasons not to have Jesus in your life are the same as mine. Jumping straight in and assuming I was in a similar state to you is, well, inane. At least ask me why I’m an atheist.
  • Second, there’s a difference between being an atheist and non-religious.  Being an atheist is an actual position taken towards the evidence for gods. Many “former atheists” I’ve encountered were simply non-religious for a time. They were indifferent to the claims by religion- they didn’t take an atheist position. It was far too apathetic. But they’re still primed for belief- they are exposed often and regularly to religious influences.

These conversion stories are pretty basic fare for Christians. And I appreciate that from such a perspective, anyone who hasn’t adopted a formal religious stance is clumped into the big atheist set. It must sound kind of exciting, hearing these tales of conversion of atheists. But it doesn’t work like this. Real atheists don’t get converted to Christianity by listening to your faith and convictions.

If you want to convert atheist, then the only thing that will work is valid evidence that your beliefs can be substantiated. We’ve all heard the Jesus speech before. We’ve all been witnessed to, we’ve all been prayed for. You need to stump with evidence.