Truth doesn’t coddle

truth doesn't coddle

QUOTE: “Isaac Asimov’s remark about the infantilism of pseudoscience is just as applicable to religion: ‘Inspect every piece of pseudoscience and you will find a security blanket, a thumb to suck, a skirt to hold.’ It is astonishing, moreover, how many people are unable to understand that ‘X is comforting’ does not imply ‘X is true’.” ― Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion [source]

COMMENTARY: If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me how I could find purpose in life without religion, I could probably have a really satisfying lunch. But what do I know? I’m just another apostate.

60 Responses

  1. lol that assumes you know truth.

    If you use the same logic, you could say atheism is a “security blanket” for the “harsh reality” that people will be accountable for their actions. The pendulum swings both ways 😉

    1. I had hoped that the point of this post was clear. What one desires does not necessarily align with what is reality. When one chooses to believe something is true only because one wants it to be true, then one is using faulty logic. If you have evidence that people will be held accountable for their actions by a god after they are dead, then please by all means present your evidence.

      As for me, I would prefer there to be an afterlife and an accountability for my actions. But until I see evidence to support that view, I am not going to believe it to be true merely because I wish it were.

    1. I have the same relationship that everyone else has with reality: my senses often mislead me, and my interpretations of my experiences are often incorrect. That’s why it’s so important to try to get an objective view of reality.

      I am willing to consider any kind of evidence. Obviously, evidence such as “it’s written in a book, so you have to just believe it” is less convincing than evidence such as, “we tried this 100 times, and it worked 99 times; we’re still trying to figure out why it failed once. You should try it, too.”

  2. I believe morality is objective, therefore pointing to an objective moral law giver. I believe it is written on the tablet of our hearts.

    When we see information, where must it come from?

    1. Thank you for sharing your beliefs. Do you have any evidence of the objective moral law giver? Or how about just some logic in regard to him? Are the laws moral because he gave the laws? Or did he give the laws because they are moral?

      Are you asking how vision works? Or how information is generated?

  3. We could spend years going back and forth on morality. My view is that the universe is morally neutral. Chemicals in motion are morally neutral. For us to then accuse people of doing something wrong, such as stealing from another person, cannot be grounded in a true right or wrong.

    Lol good point about information, my bad!! That is why I usually don’t share my faith online… It’s a crazy amount of time going back and forth and often times I do it on my phone and on lunch so it doesn’t make sense… Anyway…

    What I meant was how is information generated? I have never seen information produced, such as in a word, or sentence, that does not come from a mind. If you study the human cell, it is amazing how much information is encompassed in it. I believe the information in the cell point to a mind.

    We could go round and round about morality and information, so I will move to another question for you, not to avoid anything, but to simply give a bit of a background as to why I think we were created and not an accident.

    Do you believe humans and other animals have the same worth? Are we no better than other animals?

    1. The universe operates outside of morality. It is amoral. Morality is a human creation, but even human morality has limits. We care about how humans treat other humans. We sometimes care about how humans treat other animals. We seldom care about how other animals treat other animals. And we do not care–at least not in a moral context–how lower life forms such as cells treat other cells.

      If you define information as the analysis of a human mind on things it has perceived, then of course information points to a mind. No surprise there.

      I do not believe that humans and other animals have the same worth, because I am a human. If I am driving a car, and suddenly find that I have no brakes and cannot avoid a death but must choose to run over either a human or a dog, I will choose to run over the dog. Without hesitation. The universe, of course, being amoral, does not share my opinion.

  4. If morality is a human creation, and we are a result of a blind accident in the universe, would it truly be wrong if someone murders? Maybe by our human standard? But what are our human standards really worth? Don’t they evolve from a mindless and clumsy evolution that is simply based on time and chance? Maybe the person who commits the crime felt it was right in their minds? What makes them wrong and the victim right? We evolved from a mindless and blind accident, so from that perspective I do not know that one person is more right than the other.

    Can you explain your section on information a little more for me? The one thing I would note is that you said the analysis of a human mind… From an evolutionary perspective, we don’t truly analyze anything, there are chemicals bouncing around in our heads and we are just along for the ride. I do not believe that because the Bible tells us to love God with all of our hearts and out minds. I understand the circular reasoning, and I went ahead and said it because I am not trying to prove anything by it… I just mentioned it because I believe in the Bible so you can better understand my world view. I believe we have the God given ability to think critically…

    So you do not believe human and animals have the same worth in your opinion, but from an outside perspective, there really is no difference between humans and animals. From a Darwinian perspective, we came from a common ancestor and are worth no more than any other animal. We simply evolved differently in a blind and mindless process. From this perspective, there is no difference between BBQing a cow, pig, or a human. I don’t think many humans believe this however…. My view is that we were created in the image of God, and God told us to be good stewards of the plants, animals, and this wonderful planet we live on, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

    I guess to add one more piece… I would even go as far as to say that us having this discussion points to a God. As humans we thirst and there is water. We are hungry, and there is food. We have sexual desires, and we have sex. The fact that humans (the majority I am assuming) think about a God or a mind would suggest that there may be a God. I do not think dogs, cats, tigers, etc. sit around discussing if there is a mind behind the universe or not. Now, I do not think this is a very strong argument, but it was on my mind so I thought I would throw it out there… again… not because I think it is definitive, but I think it is a piece to the puzzle.

    1. It sounds like you are having a hard time understanding what morality is. I believe that is a common problem among people who have been taught that without God there can be no morality. As I said before, the universe itself is amoral. Morality is a human concept applied by humans. If one human murders another human, the amoral universe doesn’t care. Moral humans care.

      And again, if the universe has to choose between a dog dying or a human dying, the amoral universe is indifferent. Only the moral human would think it matters. I am a moral human, therefore I have a preference. My preference, however, has nothing to do with whether I exist because of random chance or because of a God that created me. Your argument that I do not have free will because I am nothing more than chemicals is as valid under the presupposition that I am an accident of the universe as it is under the presupposition that God created me. Unless God didn’t use atoms and chemicals in my construction. No matter how I got here, I am still just a specific configuration of atoms, and I still operate according to the laws of physics, and my brain and body still reacts in certain ways to certain chemicals. Positing a God does not change that.

      You get things backwards. You say we thirst and there is water. Rather, there is water; our bodies evolved to take advantage of the availability of water; water is thus useful for our bodies; our bodies send our brains a signal to alert us to the need for water; therefore we thirst. You say we are hungry and there is food. Rather, our bodies need nutrients to continue to operate; therefore our bodies signal the need to replenish those nutrients through a feeling we describe as hunger. You say we have sexual desires and then have sex. Rather, sexual reproduction is a requirement of passing on our genes, and none of our billions of ancestors passed on their genes to us without reproduction; therefore the desire for sex is written into our genes.

      The fact that the majority of humans think about a god is because the human condition is such that we learned early in our evolutionary path to anthropomorphize elements external to us in an attempt to better understand them. If something appears to be acting, we assign it as an actor, and give it the only emotions and thoughts we understand: those of humans. The evolution of these thoughts turned eventually into belief in gods, and the evolutionary contest among groups of people who believed in various gods resulted in a gradual elimination of most of the gods people believed in as their cultures were conquered by other cultures.

      The idea that because people want there to be a god, therefore there must be a god is as naive as the idea that because an orphan wants to have parents, therefore that orphan must be the lost child of royalty.

  5. Let me slowdown a bit… Do you think there is more to the world than just the material world? Such as thoughts, reason, logic, emotions, etc?

  6. Here is an atheistic worldview… Tell me where I am wrong…

    Something came from nothing.
    Life came from nonlife.
    Humans are meaningless outside of their own opinion.
    Morality is made up by humans.
    Good and evil are made up by humans.
    We are predetermined.
    Our choices and actions are predetermined.
    There is no free will.
    The universe looks designed but it isn’t.
    There was a Big Bang, but nothing caused it.
    The fine tuning of the universe was chance.
    There is no such thing as logic or thinking.
    Laws of nature were not given by a law giver and we have no idea why they are consistent.
    Our minds do not think.
    Boys have the same worth as a banana(my favorite from Dawkins)
    Miracles are impossible.

    Just let me know if I got any of these wrong. I got them all from Dawkins, Harris, or Hawkins.

    If you believe all these things, my hats off to you for being honest with yourself! I simply do not have enough faith to be an athiest.

          1. Please correct me then 🙂

            My view is that science has shown that space, time, and matter had a beginning.

            Science also shoes that every effect has a cause. Therefore, something timeless, space less, immaterial, and all powerful had to be the first cause… Also very intelligent when studying the fine tuning of the universe to sustain life.

            Sounds like the Biblical God to me!

          2. I don’t have time to teach you science. Please feel free to check out a book from the library. We do not know the conditions preceding the event known as the Big Bang. To suppose that we do is to make assumptions that there is no evidence to support.

            But you seem to be ignoring your own arguments in your assertions in support of the existence of God. If God is the cause of the universe, then he can’t have been the first cause, because the cause of his existence has not yet been explained. And if you don’t need to explain the first cause of god’s existence, what makes you insist that you need to explain the first cause of the universe?

  7. I don’t think you understand the nature of God. God is eternal, he is outside of time and space, much like science up until recently claimed about our universe.

    I was a Biology major, I have plenty of science books 🙂 want one? You might actually be better off with some philosophy since you seem to think you can pick and choose from various worldviews.

    Lastly, it probably is time to end this. Only one of our worldviews actually believes we have the freedom to think, use logic, and ultimately believing there is such thing as truth.

    The other worldview is that everything is predetermined and we are simply reacting. There is no free will, and nothing other than materials… The mind is simply the brain… Using the laws of logic, we cannot both be right… But again, only one view holds that logic actually exists, and that would be the worldview that believes we have a mind.

    1. Thank you, once again, for telling me what I believe. It’s always refreshing to learn what I believe from someone who doesn’t understand it.

      If God is outside of time and space, that’s the same as saying he is imaginary. But it does go a long way toward explaining his incompetence.

  8. There is nothing to understand in your worldview. It’s impossible. Don’t take it so personal… They are facts… Well… I believe facts exist

        1. There is no question that the mind exists. Jumping from the existence of the mind, which can manifest itself in the material world, to the existence of a god who doesn’t, however, is quite the leap of logic.

  9. My point is that a mind is immaterial.

    How do immaterial things fit into an atheistic worldview?

    Dennett understands that, therefore he explains it does not exist and that it’s just an illusion… Do you believe that?

    1. Dennett’s point is that the brain is the physical object, and the mind is the word we use to describe the processes that the physical object performs. Thus the mind doesn’t exist (and does exist) in the same way that courage doesn’t exist (and does exist). I’m not sure why you feel it important to argue semantics, but no matter how you define the brain/mind, it still doesn’t prove that there is a God.

  10. I understand it doesn’t prove God exists, but it does help show there’s more than the natural world.

    It’s not semantics at all actually. It’s whether or not the mind exists or if it’s just the brain. If there is a mind, there is more than the material world.

    So when we are discussing this, are you using your mind freely or are you a preprogrammed robot following the fixed laws of nature? Are you atomic motion obeying fixed laws of chemistry?

    It’s one or the other… Freely thinking with your mind, or fixed chemicals in motion. Which are ya?

    1. You haven’t shown me that you are ready to have that deep of a discussion. How can I trust you to differentiate between the nuances of the illusion of the mind when you aren’t willing or able to see the reality behind the illusion of God?

  11. How do you take a discussion about the brain and mind and apply it to God? It’s really a simple question.

    Are you molecules in motion based on fixed laws? Who designed laws anyway?

    Or are you freely thinking?

    1. If this question is not being asked for the purpose of applying it in some way to the question of God, then I’m afraid that you are avoiding the topic at hand, and I’m going to have to ask you to try to remain on topic.

      “Who designed laws anyway?” is a question that shows you already think you have your answer. The “law” of gravity needs no designer. Laws of physics need no legislature to enact them.

      Free will is a deep philosophical question that we do not need to answer for the purposes of this discussion. If you feel it is vital to your argument, then just inform me which direction you lean toward, and I will accept that as the truth for the purposes of this discussion.

  12. What does it take for us to figure out the laws are there? Moist meat in our head? Or a mind that can think.

    Free will is a big question, but it doesn’t mean you avoid it. I believe we have free will, clearly. I chose to respond to this post… Did you?

    It’s really quite simple… Accidental molecules do not cause thought, and if they did, why in the world would you trust them? Why should I believe in God? Why don’t you? Neither of us should think we are right because it’s all based on blind chance.

    1. How do we figure out the laws of physics? Observation. Reason. Logic. Taking all facts into consideration and not discounting some merely because they disagree with what we would like to be true.

      As I said, if your conclusion is that we have free will, then for the purpose of this discussion, I will go with the assumption that you are correct. Now. How does the idea that we have free will mean that there is a God?

  13. Reason? Logic? Those are not material.

    It doesn’t prove God at all. It’s a cumulative case. But it’s a step to show there is more than the material world.

    Reason, thought, and logic cannot be explained through naturalism… And if someone did, they clearly don’t think it applies to their own mind, because reason, logic, and thought are needed to come to a conclusion.

    So far, at least in my mind, we have reason, objective morality, and a spaceless timeless and immaterial beginning to the universe, since they all had a beginning… Oh and information… Dawkins explains that one single cell has the equivalent amount of information as 1000 encyclopedias. If you don’t want to call it information, you can call it a blueprint, plan, coding, directions, etc.

  14. With that information (plus fine tuning) I think it is more reasonable that there is rationality and intention behind the universe… That the uncaused first cause is more likely (in my mind) to have a mind than not… That is why I believe in a God.

    1. I’m missing the leaps in your arguments. You believe in a spaceless, timeless, immaterial beginning to the universe (which sounds a lot like the creation ex nihilo you complained about in the Big Bang Theory earlier). You believe that because humans have words like “reason” and “logic” and that because you can’t explain how they can exist except in a supernatural universe, that therefore things can exist without matter. And you believe that cells are extremely complex. Add on top of that the fact that human life–amazingly!–fits into the environment in which it evolved (much like water perfectly fits into the hole in which it forms a puddle), and suddenly you claim that the universe has intention and … somehow … God!

      You are welcome to believe what you want to believe. But unless you count special pleading, you’ve come nowhere near providing evidence. To be quite frank, I’m not even really sure what your point is. Are you trying to convince me there is a God? Or do you just feel that the all-powerful creator of the universe needs you to defend him on the Internetz?

      My point–if you’ll kindly remember that I had one; see the top of this page for details–is that just because something feels comforting, it doesn’t make it true.

      1. Yikes, you are so confused.

        Am I trying to convince you there is a God? No. I thought you asked me for why I believe there is a God.

        Do I feel the need to defend him? No, but I feel bad for people like you that post outrageous stuff on the net to get a reaction that has no substance behind it and whose worldview contradicts their argument.

        Words like reason and logic do not prove God, obviously, but I believe the actions the words describe are intentional and free. I believe we have the ability to think outside of our fixed brain chemistry. Your view does not allow that.

        Leaps and bounds? Sorry I am following evidence and not chalking it up to a cosmic accident…

        Just because something feels comforting doesn’t make it true… Your right… Does believing their is a God make things comforting? Not necessarily at all… The same can be said for atheism… For a lot of people, not believing in God can be very comforting! Kill, why not? Just don’t get caught. Rape? It’s just my sexual instinct and natural desire to keep the species going! Quite comforting for some people.

        Here is my point and I will be done…

        You post pictures as though human lives actually matter. Subjective and inconsistent.

        You post as if something is ACTUALLY right or wrong. inconsistent.

        You post things that presuppose you have choice, as though choice actually exists. Go figure, inconsistent.

        But should I really be surprised that your arguments are illogical if you are simply predetermined? I guess not… Why would I expect random molecules in motion to make sense? So really I guess your not choosing to do any of it.

        But it seems when you post about the LDS church you are doing so from a perespective that they chose to do something wrong or manipulative, but what choice did they actually have? Joseph Smith was just dancing to his DNA, and blaming him assumes he made a choice. Accusing that the church can do more with their money supposes they had an alternative to their fixed brain chemistry. Your worldview simply does not allow that.

        This is why I responded in the first place. Before you post, see if you are presupposing anything that is not consistent in your worldview. It would be much easier to respect if you were consistent and honest with yourself.

        But what do I know? I am accidental brain chemical obeying fixed laws of chemistry.

        Unless Antony flew was right… Science cannot explain the self, but the self can explain science.

        1. As I explained to you previously, my arguments start from the premise that God exists. If you want to cede the point that God does not exist so that I can argue from a point of view based on reality, then I’m already done arguing.

          Your failure to argue the point from the basis of Christianity’s worldview speaks either of your inability to defend that worldview or an unwillingness to engage under the handicap of that worldview. Either way, your attempts at telling me what my worldview is can only be labeled disingenuous and a strawman.

          If you want to defend the Christian position, then please feel free to do so from within the Christian position. If you are going to accept that my position is correct, then I have no desire to debate the details of my position that you cannot understand. There are science books available in your local library for that.

          You state that you accept the point I was making on this post. Thank you.

  15. It’s hard to defend the Christian perspective if someone does not accept there is a God. Why would I tell you about the evidence surrounding the resurrection and the reliability of the Bible if you do not believe in the supernatural? Other than the Big Bang and something coming from nothing…

    Anyway, I’m calling it quits. Your view is right.

    1. That’s why I chose to start my arguments with the assumption that God exists and that the Bible is an accurate representation of him and his interactions with humans. I’m afraid you are the one who wanted to start with the assumption that he doesn’t exist.

      But yeah, kinda sucks when you have to provide evidence for your beliefs and all your beliefs rely on the supernatural. Sorry about that. Keep in mind, though, that just because someone told you what your beliefs should be doesn’t mean that you have to keep those beliefs your whole life. You are welcome to embrace reality at any time you choose. It’ll still be there for you, no matter how long it takes.

  16. It’s funny you try using another persons worldview because it prevents you from having to provide evidence for your own. Nice!

    I was an athiest for the first 25 years of my life… I like how you assume someone told me what to believe.

    Embrace reality? From my view I do. From yours, well, there is no reality. You are a robot that does not freely do things. If you deny that, you are truly confused.

    So when someone murders a friend of yours, steals from you, or rapes a friend, suppress your feelings because the strong survive. It’s natural. And they are simply dancing to their DNA and truly are not fault for anything. Awesome! Sounds like Hitler 🙂

    1. I don’t have to provide evidence for my worldview because my worldview is subject to change with the available evidence. When my worldview and the evidence conflict, I will adapt to the evidence when it is presented to me. If you have credible evidence for your God, simply present it to me and watch as I start believing.

      If nobody told you what to believe, why do you believe in the Christian God? Did you get that fresh from your own revelation?

      Thanks once again for telling me what my beliefs are. If those really were my beliefs, I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to believe them, either. If those were your beliefs as an atheist, it’s no wonder you were looking for something better.

  17. Even better. You don’t have to defend a worldview because you don’t have one.

    Would I believe in the Christian God? Of course. All I would have to do is look at my conscious and observe the world around me, and yes, I would believe in the Christan God.

    So is rape wrong? What about raping a child? If you say yes, then please justify why.

    1. I may have not have been as clear as I like when I stated my approach. I do not feel a need to defend my particular way of looking at the world against other arguments disputing it, because I seek truth, and if other arguments are stronger than my previously held beliefs, then I am more interested in changing my beliefs to match reality than I am in defending why my previous beliefs have to be right even when reality indicates otherwise.

      You said, “I like how you assume someone told me what to believe.” So I asked: if nobody told you to believe in the Christian God, how did you come to believe in the Christian God? Did you receive independent confirmation from God himself that he was real, and then found the Christian religion only after your supernatural experience? Or did you, as I assumed, hear about the Christian religion from someone first and only then decide to believe it?

      If you can’t figure out that rape is wrong all by yourself, then I’m not sure why you are trying to tell me about morality. I guess your Bible never condemns rape, so if you really do get your morals from the Bible, then I could understand, intellectually at least, your confusion. I would like to suggest, though, that you take a class sometime on ethics. For a quick introduction to the subject, the Wikipedia article on ethics, is, for all its flaws, a good place to start. (And take careful note that it doesn’t even mention the bible.)

  18. I’m sorry I didn’t understand you. I guess your motto, “it’s ok to ask questions” does not apply to your own worldview. How are you going to follow truth if you do not even examine your own view?

    Here are a few questions you can start with if you need…

    Is rape wrong in a material world? Why?

    How do I make decisions in a material world?

    How do I get free will from material?

    If the world is material, and science is the study of the material world, why do I trust a scientist’s hypothesis, data, and interpretation of data? Those seem to be done in a scientist’a mind. Should I trust it if the mind is just material?

    Lastly, just to get you started, since you know it’s important to ask questions…

    If every effect has a cause, what caused the Big Bang? Science shows space, time, and material had a beginning, so the cause couldn’t be either of those…

    If you are truly asking questions like you claim I greatly respect that! Just don’t use Wikipedia 🙂

    1. Are you asking questions because you want to know whether you are wrong to rape someone? Or are you asking questions because you want to prove a point?

      Let’s assume that you and I both have morals, since you agreed a long time ago that atheists often have better morals than religious people, and then go ahead and make the point you want to make.

      I’m not sure what kind of world you believe that you live in, but if it isn’t a material world (i.e., if everything is imaginary), then you can do whatever imaginary thing you want because it will have no effect on anything else.

      I’m not sure what you are trying to say when you insist that everything has to have a cause. If so, what is the cause of your God? It seems a bigger problem to me to both insist that everything must have a cause and then say, “My God doesn’t have or need a cause,” than it does to say, “So far scientists have not been able to figure out a way to reconstruct the events or state that precipitated the Big Bang, and it is unlikely that we will be able to do so.” I am far happier saying “I don’t know” to a tough question” than I am to make up stories like, “Well, see, there’s this guy with a beard who decided to use magic….”

      I would love to hear how something imaginary can affect something real. You’re big on causes. Please feel free to explain it to me.

      I see no problems whatsoever with asking questions. If you are asking to find out, you would learn far more in a shorter amount of time by reading a good book on the subject. If you are asking only to make a point, then please feel free to make your point.

    1. Depending upon what you are asking about, that can be a very technical question, the answer of which isn’t terribly clear when you get into the details. Science has shown that not just atoms but also subatomic particles exist. Einstein showed that matter can be transferred back and forth to energy. You could argue about details like this on the tiniest of scales. But if you are asking about, for instance, an immaterial God, or an immaterial spirit for each human body, then no, I am not aware of any evidence for anything of that nature.

      If you are arguing about concepts being immaterial, then I would agree with you on strictly technical grounds, but would also posit that such concepts are unable to operate outside of and independently from a mind that can understand and apply those concepts.

  19. I am not trying to assert a soul or God, promise.

    So an immaterial thing produced your last post? What is causing me, a separate mind, to understand what you are saying?

  20. Let me change that… Because it’s not really that important….

    Do you assume the brain causes your mind to do things? Or can the mind control the brain?

  21. Great idea.

    The mind is seperate from the brain and can make free will decisions about the world around it. (My opinion)

    Thoughts?

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