Ms. @SJThomason1225 from twitter has responded to my refutation page which is an extention of my #TheistChallenge, as issued on twitter. Her response is here: https://sjthomason.wordpress.com/2017/01/07/a-christian-rebuttal-to-artie-the-atheist/ My rebuttal to her efforts is below.
I give her credit for being the most capable theist in months (which doesn’t mean much as you’ll see) to attempt to justify their belief and to demonstrate atheism/ not believing to be unjustified (how the challenge reads). However, she has missed the point in places by going into irrelevant detail where none of it helps to show that atheism isn’t the justified position. Due to time constraints & impracticality I could not go read the books she suggested in support of her argument. I grant to her that my responses may have changed if I was able to consider them as a whole, however they didn’t appear to approach the point of the debate as noted. Likewise, she has noted that none of my supporting articles & videos were considered as part of my argument & original refutation content. This arguably nullifies much of her effort, but I acknowledged the issue of time constraints and let my rebuttals stand.
The green below is what my original page conveys to show why popular theist claims aren’t convincing (some paragraphs & linked content is missing as explained above). SJ Thomason then responds in the blue and I respond to that in purple.
“The Bible says so.”
1. Eye-witness accounts. The later gospels copied each other (adding variation) and the first was written (decades after Jesus supposedly died) mostly as a story being told via hearsay, not as an eye witness account. The bible notes many folks that saw Jesus and his miracles, but none are verifiable beyond bible claims. Among the anonymous 500 seeing Jesus risen not one had their miraculous account recorded. No local historians or anyone else outside the bible narrative even noticed Jesus, or the eclipse or the dead rising from the graves. The bible stories could easily be fiction of its times… made up exactly as a fictional story is.
To modernize the bible’s witnesses, take alien abductees stories for example. They make extreme claims, often similar even, but they are dismissed out of hand as fiction, fraud or delusion. Such a response is CLEARLY the rational default to extraordinary claims, even though these eyewitnesses are alive and still claiming it! The bible’s witnesses stand FAR from the level of credibility of living alien witnesses, yet they are believed without question. Absurd. If you don’t believe thousands of living witnesses, it’s hardly valid to believe (often anonymous) ancient witnesses claiming magic & myth really happened.
SJ Thomason responds:
Though scholars disagree on the precise dates in which the gospels were written due to their presuppositions, we have good evidence to suggest that the vast majority of the New Testament was written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. This assertion is based on the fact that the destruction of Jerusalem, which was a major event on the same level as a great war, is not mentioned in the New Testament. In 70 A.D., the Roman army, led by the future Emperor Titus and ordered by Nero, destroyed Jerusalem and its second temple. Jesus had prophesied this destruction in Matthew 24: 1-8 and Luke 21: 5-6. The latter states: “Some of His disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, ‘As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.’”
Some scholars believe that the Gospel of Matthew was written around twelve years after Jesus’ crucifixion. One reason for this claim is due to recordings by early church leaders Irenaeus, Origen, and Eusebius. Eusebius (Bishop of Caesarea, father of church history) records that Matthew wrote his gospel while still in Israel(1).
Thirteen books of the New Testament were written by Paul, who was beheaded by Nero in Rome at some point between 64 and 67 A.D. The potential timelines of these writings are as follows(2): Note that all are within the lifetimes of people who lived in Jesus’ time.
Galatians (AD 47)
1 and 2 Thessalonians (AD 59—51)
1 and 2 Corinthians and Romans (AD 52—56)
Ephesians, Philemon, Colossians, and Philippians (AD 60—62, during Paul’s first Roman imprisonment)
1 Timothy and Titus (AD 62)
2 Timothy (AD 63—64, during Paul’s second Roman imprisonment)
The authorship of the other New Testament books is as follows(3):
Matthew: written by Matthew the tax collector, one of the 12 eyewitness apostles
Mark: written by John-Mark
Luke: written by Luke the physician
John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Revelation: written by John, the apostle whom Jesus loved
Acts: written by Luke the physician
1 Peter and 2 Peter: written by Peter, the apostle.
James: written by James, the brother of Jesus
Jude: written by Jude, the brother of Jesus
Hebrews: authorship uncertain
To consider the validity of the eyewitness accounts, let’s consider the story of the apostles. Just prior to Jesus’ arrest, Jesus portended to Peter that Peter would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed. Peter was frightened, and then upset with himself after denying his relationship with Jesus three times before the rooster crowed, as predicted. After the crucifixion, the apostles’ initial response was to hide in a safe house. They were worried they would meet the same fate as Jesus. Then something happened that completely transformed them. They emerged from hiding, totally unafraid, and started telling everyone that they saw the risen Jesus. Had they not seen Jesus, they wouldn’t have become so courageous, braving gory deaths for worshiping illegally in Jesus’ name.
According to scholar Reza Aslan(4), “One after another of those who claimed to have witnessed the risen Jesus went to their gruesome deaths refusing to recant their testimony.” It was this fervor “that transformed this tiny Jewish sect into the largest religion in the world.” In Antiquities of the Jews, written around 93 A.D., Flavius Josephus speaks of the stoning of “the brother of Jesus (James), who was called Christ.”
Paul, the author of thirteen New Testament books, offers one of the most compelling stories of a transformation. Paul (known as Saul) was on the road to Damascus in his effort to identify and arrest early Christians for illegal worship. “Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me.’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ Saul asked. ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting(5).’ Paul immediately converted to the Way and became one of its most ardent followers who was beaten, imprisoned, and eventually beheaded all in Jesus’ name.
1 Corinthians 15:16 indicates that Jesus appeared to five hundred witnesses after His crucifixion. If this claim is untrue, it makes the transformation of Christianity (from only a handful of eyewitnesses) even more extraordinary. How could the apostles, including a few fishermen, a tent maker and a tax collector, be so convincing? Having the additional eyewitness fortification of Jesus’ resurrection therefore seems likely, given the fact that most of the apostles were of low status in society.
I’ve paraphrased a story about Jesus by James Allan Francis (6) to demonstrate just how extraordinary the transformation of Christianity is.
He grew up in a village, the child of a peasant, and worked as a carpenter. He never had a family, owned a home, or went to college. He was only 33 when the tide of public opinion rode against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies and went through a mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
“Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure of the human race. I am well within the mark when I say that all the enemies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned – put together – have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that one, solitary life.”
Artie responds- The validity of testimony from 2000 years ago obviously varies with each instance, but we aren’t even certain of the nature of these writings. In this case there remains the possibility of fiction being passed forward to us as true events. Writing about Gods and saviors was fairly common back then, as I understand it, being the popular fiction and genre of the day. Honest readers now have to consider the possibility that entire bible books might be based mostly in fiction. Ms. Thomason hasn’t overcome the doubt associated with witnesses who simply may have been invented to gain validity in a traditional story. We cannot discern the intent of bible authors to know which is fiction from our current era. Sure some are likely mostly true, but we can certainly be skeptical considering the extraordinary claims.
Further my second paragraph is ignored. The extraordinary nature of bible witness claims is not matched with evidence, much like modern living UFO abductees. We don’t believe abductees no matter how upstanding, so the equivalent from 2000 years ago can validly be doubted. There’s no modern scholar who can justly verify divinity from sketchy witness claims from so long ago. Further, it is well know that eye witness testimony is notoriously unreliable and subject to distortion, so atheists are indeed perfectly justified in denying ancient stories of such claims.
Artie the Atheist says:
2. Prophecy was fulfilled. Much prophecy in the Bible is unverifiable as fulfilled beyond the Bible’s claim. Prophecy being fulfilled could simply be writers looking at the Old Testament promises and writing a story to fulfill them. Further, the old prophecies could simply be attempted to be fulfilled by normal folks pretending to be the one destined to fulfill them. Other prophecies were extremely vague or simple leaving the door open for any number of interpretations. EVEN if an amazingly impossible prophecy was verified to have come to pass, there is no verifying that a divine intelligence or power played any part. It would be a mystery. This extensive dismantling of the prophecy claim details far more than I ever could. (missing citation found on my refutation page)
SJ Thomason responds:
Basic theories of behavioral economics, organizational behavior, and psychology suggest that incentives matter in motivating behavior. People are motivated to do things for a reason. The reasons may be extrinsic, such as when one receives a financial incentive for performing a task, or intrinsic, such as one feels good about fulfilling one’s spiritual purpose. When applied to the New Testament writers, one must ask why they would invest their time in crafting a story that fulfilled Old Testament prophecies, such as Isaiah 9:6 and Isaiah 53. What benefit did they derive? There were no tangible, external benefits to writing the New Testament, as they couldn’t practice freely and they were routinely imprisoned for illegal worship. There were only intrinsic, intangible benefits to writing the New Testament. The apostles and early Christians believed that the risks of worshiping in this life and writing the New Testament, which included crucifixions and burning to death by emperors such as Nero, would fulfill their spiritual purposes, leading to rewards in the next life.
Furthermore, had they merely contrived a story, why would they include what some authors have described as “embarrassing testimony?”(7) Examples include Peter’s thrice denial of Jesus (Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22: 54-62; John 18: 15-27), Jesus’ mother and brothers’ attempts to seize Jesus to take Him home for being “out of His mind” (Mark 3:21, 31), and labels for Jesus such as mad man (John 10:20), demon-possessed (Mark 3:22; John 7:20; John 8:48), and drunkard (Matthew 11:19). Why would they include stories such as the one in which a prostitute uses her hair to clean Jesus’ feet (Luke 7:36-39). One might consider the gesture a sexual advance. Furthermore, given the second class citizenship of women during the time of Jesus, the mere fact that women were given the privilege of discovering the empty tomb is note-worthy.
Artie responds- Ms SJ Thomason speculates on why they would write this or believe this if it weren’t true. There are lots of possibilities. It could simply be story telling. All such god stories include witnesses, claims of prophecy and supposed evidence. The Bible fits into this standard, so its not like these types of claims haven’t been written about in other stories for other gods. Yes, there is plenty of room for doubt and reason to not believe likely fictional stories of prophecy. Here is the link for an extensive refutation of biblical prophecy. http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/DebunkingChristians/Page7.htm
Artie the Atheist says:
3. Water to wine, walking on water and the resurrection are unverifiable events, which have no verifiable cause. Even if there was a verifiable witness to such events (there are none), they become mysteries, which are not by default answered by divinity. This also applies to modern miracles, visions, experiences and prayers. They are beyond explanation, beyond inspection, beyond revealing a source. It is a mystery and mysteries do not equal “God did it”. If you were to see a vision of The Faerie King, experience a powerful feeling and miracle with it, does this prove the Faerie King is real? Of course not. The images and events could be caused by forces you can’t see. They could be anything and inserting you god myth as the cause is baseless & fallacious. (paragraph and link missing)
SJ Thomason responds:
Had Jesus not performed the miracles that New Testament writers claimed He performed, He would have never generated such a large following. Had He not generated such a large following, He would not have been the target of Jewish high priests’ scorn. Consider how much they hated Jesus and how threatened they felt by Him. To get permission to crucify Jesus, they needed to make a trade. They traded Barabbas, who was guilty of insurgence, murder, and robbery, for the life of Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Clearly, they were threatened by Jesus’ growing popularity, which was fueled by the miracles He performed.
Artie responds- Ms SJ Thomason speculates here on reasons that miracles must have happened. But there are many reasons why miracles might be made up and why they might be believed by others…If you cant think of any its pure lack of imagination. Why did other holy books have the same things? See? easy. Here is reason to doubt the resurrection, a keystone of Christianity. http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/DebunkingChristians/Page11.htm
If miracle events did happen on some level, miracles and mysteries are beyond explanation, beyond inspection, beyond revealing a source. Nothing refutes that biblical miracles weren’t just some explanation other than divinity. Doubting this is perfectly valid.
Artie the Atheists says:
4. Historic accuracy proves the bible true. An accurate recounting of people, places and events is what makes fiction seem real. There’s no reason to believe the Bible writers didn’t just insert fictional people and events into their real background. Spiderman stories are written into existing city environments, using real people and places. This doesn’t prove Spiderman is real.
SJ Thomason responds:
Within 150 years of Jesus’ life, extra-biblical testimony from sources such as Josephus, Tacitus, Thallus, Suetonius, Emperor Trajan, Pliny the Younger, Tacitus, and others (8)informs us that:
• Jesus lived during the time of Tiberius Caesar
• He lived a virtuous life
• He was a wonder-worker
• He had a brother named James
• He was acclaimed to be the Messiah
• He was crucified under Pontius Pilate
• An eclipse and an earthquake occurred when He died
• He was crucified on the eve of the Jewish Passover
• His disciples believed He rose from the dead
• His disciples were willing to die for their belief in Jesus
• Christianity spread rapidly as far as Rome
• His disciples denied the Roman gods and worshiped Jesus as God
“Sir Lionel Luckhoo is considered by many to be the world’s most successful attorney after 245 consecutive murder acquittals. This brilliant lawyer rigorously analyzed the historical facts of Christ’s resurrection and finally declares, “I say unequivocally that the evidence for the resurrection is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt.”(9)
Clark H. Pinnock, professor of systematic theology at Regent College, states “There exists no document from the ancient world witnessed by so excellent a set of textual and historical data on which an intelligent decision may be made. An honest (person) cannot dismiss a source of this kind. Skepticism regarding the historical credentials of Christianity is based on an irrational (i.e., anti-supernatural) bias.” (10)
Furthermore, history books and historical atlases often include references to the Bible, providing evidence that historians support the historical value of the Bible. An example of an historical book packed with references of the bible is the “Historical Atlas: A Comprehensive History of the World” by Dr. Geoffrey Wawro. This impressive book, which was first published in 2008 by Millennium House, contains no less than 45 contributors with terminal degrees from a wide variety of prestigious universities from all over the world. Universities include Yale, the University of Chicago, Cambridge, Vanderbilt, the University of Queensland, the University of Sydney, the University of Western Australia, the University of Toronto, Florida State University, and the University of California at Los Angeles.
Artie responds- Ms SJ Thomason 1st paragraph lists things that are not all facts. There was an eclipse and earthquake during Jesus’ death? No sorry. Not verified. Like the claim of the undead walking around? The resurrection is not verified by anyone, just believed. Much more here: http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/DebunkingChristians/Page11.htm
All of which doesn’t even matter per my original paragraph above, even if a Jesus type man existed, that doesn’t verify divinity exists or existed. Accurately recounted history in the bible does NOT logically get you to a god. sorry. Atheists are still justified.
Artie the Atheist says:
5. The bible is inerrant. Even the first sentence in the bible “In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth” doesn’t match reality. Obviously, in the beginning the heavens (space and time) could be argued, but the Earth wasn’t formed for another 9 billion years (NOT remotely the beginning). Yup even the very first sentence of the Bible brings into question its validity as a whole. This is just the tip of a massive iceberg. There are many, many flaws, errors and contradictions in the bible and many apologetics excusing them. Even the fact that seemingly endless apologist excuses are needed to explain such a flawed book, is a blatant admission of the books failings. An inerrant book wouldn’t need excuses or favorable reinterpretation, it would be clear. The kicker is that a flawed book couldn’t be the creation of a perfect being, since such a failure would make him CLEARLY IMPERFECT. There is no doubt that bible is simply man-made and that there is no such perfect God.
SJ Thomason responds:
To answer this question, which Artie the Atheist links to a handful of websites, I call attention to a large volume published in 2008 by Norman L. Geisler and Thomas Howe entitled “The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation.” This book identifies and explains what some consider discrepancies in the Bible.
Artie responds- As my point stated, apologetics is a huge white flag acknowledging the errors in the bible since somebody needs to explain them away! The bible in no reasonable or justified way can be considered inerrant. Indeed there are many errors as well as conflicts between the 66 books: http://www.debunkingskeptics.com/DebunkingChristians/Page6.htm
“The bible is man-made without a perfect god being involved” is a perfectly justified position to take.
Artie the Atheist says:
6. “The universe’s complexity, design & origin requirements, dictates a guiding hand is needed.”
Complexity of biology shows design (DNA & variation) so it’s evidence of God. Nature, via evolution and natural forces, is perfectly capable of creating complex processes and systems. This is science’s current stance. If you wish to claim natural forces aren’t capable of this you need prove science wrong. Your claim and lack of understanding of nature’s potential doesn’t allow for any valid conclusion to be made for design. Even if we as humans couldn’t explain your complex biology examples, it becomes a mystery and mysteries don’t equal “god did it” by default. You would need to further demonstrate a link between this mystery of nature and your yet unproven god.
SJ Thomason responds:
Many theists support the idea of evolution, yet we must distinguish precisely what “evolution” means. We have witnessed and have archeological data indicating the evolution of humans, yet we don’t have any data bridging the gap between single cells in the primordial soup that ignited life on this planet and the earliest forms of life that contained consciousness. The evolution of the unconscious to the conscious is unexplained by science, suggesting the presence of a guiding force – an intelligent design.(11)
“Because of the way earth was and now is, it affords habitats for three radically different kinds, or categories, of life: (1) physical; (2) physical and mind-possessing; and (3) physical, mind-possessing, and spiritual.”(12)
Artie responds- Uhm No, “The evolution of the unconscious to the conscious is unexplained by science, suggesting the presence of a guiding force” this is a blatant argument from ignorance. You are illogically filling the gap in knowledge with your favorite designer myth. Nature may not yet be proven to have accomplished these things, but you are not justified in inserting an unverifiable force as being valid instead. In fact there is every reason to believe life came from nonlife naturally. Scientists have perfectly valid theories in the testing process, certainly noting some success. and sorry a guiding hand cannot be a default unless nature is proven to be unable… and even then divinity isn’t the default answer.
Artie the Atheist says:
7. The big bang needed a push from something beyond time and space. Perhaps that first singularity did need an “external” kick-off and maybe it didn’t. We don’t know yet, since our science can’t observe the event. Believers often claim an uncaused cause had to start the ball rolling, which may be true, but claiming a yet unproven myth did it is an argument from ignorance. Your lack of imagination and information doesn’t mean you can default to your favorite myth to fill in the blank. Besides, you would need to disprove any natural uncaused causes, which may have been plentiful then. Or show such a compressed source of energy (energy which may have always existed) wouldn’t have its own laws of physics directing it to expand upon reaching a critical mass. Or refute omnipotent power slime, or the Faerie King or a million other imagined causes. Indeed such a mystery doesn’t prove your god exists. Not even close.
As far as where the singularity came from, defaulting to a yet unproven magic god is a fallacious leap. Even if you did prove a god existed you would still have to prove s/he was the only possible cause. There is certainly no requirement that it be god, as long as the cause remains unknown. Perhaps the physics of nothingness dictates that something exist. Perhaps our universes energy is eternal in some form or another. Or maybe a rupture in another dimension or universe caused our universe. Or maybe timeless power slime did it. You can deny these ideas all you want but cant disprove them, so gods are CLEARLY not the default.
SJ Thomason responds:
Scientists today support the Big Bang theory. The mathematical underpinnings of this theory include Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity, along with theories of fundamental particles. According to this theory, the universe (space, time, matter) started approximately 13.8 billion years ago with a small singularity, ever inflating to the state which we know today.(14) Events before the Big Bang are not defined and what powered the Big Bang, setting it into rapid inflationary expansion is not known.
Some atheists are satisfied with “not knowing,” which is the same answer they apply to questions of consciousness (non-physical), dark matter and dark energy. Dark matter and dark energy are prevalent within the universe, as scientists have discovered, yet no one knows anything about their properties. Despite a lack of physical properties (evidence), atheists don’t doubt the presence of dark matter and dark energy.
Atheists also endorse the basic laws of physics, including the law of conservation of energy. The law of conservation of energy says that energy is neither created nor destroyed. Taken together with the energy in our minds, one might ask where this energy is transferred upon death. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed; it changes forms. Believers would answer this question with that of the soul, which exits the body upon physical death. Atheists often break the “law” that says that energy can neither be created nor destroyed by saying that the energy from our minds simply dissipates.
As for the mighty force that powered the Big Bang, believers offer the explanation of a supernatural being. This supernatural being would need to be spaceless, timeless (unbounded by linear time), and metaphysical to have been present prior to the Big Bang. This being would further need to be intentional and active or the Big Bang wouldn’t have been possible. In other words, this presence could not be a passive form.
Instead of accepting the possibility of a supernatural force, many atheists speculate that the multiverse is a possibility, which suggests that another universe was present before our universe, or that there are other universes aside from ours. Given the fact we have no (zero, zilch, zip) evidence of a multiverse, this argument seems silly since atheists demand evidence!
Given the answer to the question of what powered the universe appears painfully obvious (God). Excluding the possibility of choosing God as the answer by framing the choice as a God of the gaps fallacy equates to telling the jury in the O.J. Simpson murder trial of his former wife and friend that they will not be allowed to fill the gaps of their knowledge of whether he committed the crime with the glove, the weapon, and any blood evidence. We would never require that jury make a decision when not provided with all of the evidence, so why should we attempt to do the same in the present context? In summary, God is the only logical answer.
Artie responds- There are no confirmed answers. There are imagined ones though, many in fact, some of which I listed above. It is a logical fallacy (god of the gaps / argument from ignorance) to move your favorite god myth to the top of the list and declare it obvious and true. First you need to refute ALL other speculated answers as being impossible… not just unlikely. Impossible. Then you need to show a god is the only remaining possibility ( an omniscient task btw). Then prove it does in fact exist as a force which can do this… and THEN show he did it.
No, I’m not satisfied with “We dont know”… in fact this answer sucks. Honesty and integrity leads us to accept “We dont know” and not start fallaciously inserting biased favorites.
Your last paragraph is clearly contradictory “We would never require that jury make a decision when not provided with all of the evidence, so why should we attempt to do the same in the present context? In summary, God is the only logical answer.” What the heck? Soooo… We the scientific jury cant declare the verdict on the Big Bang source, we dont know…. therefore its god!?!?! That fallacious leap almost made me blow my tea out my nose!
No, no matter the mystery, inserting an unproven force is fallacious. Atheists are perfectly justified in doubting gods exist with the standing mysteries as they are.
Artie the Atheist says:
8. Humans are designed perfectly, so there is a designer. Humans have flaws and piss poor features, which are explained by evolution and not a perfect designer. http://m.nautil.us/issue/24/error/top-10-design-flaws-in-the-human-body
SJ Thomason responds:
We were put on this planet to fulfill our spiritual purposes of becoming more Christ-like and more perfect, yet we were intentionally put here as imperfect, flawed beings. Overcoming our flaws and physical obstacles and limitations helps us to grow spiritually. Can you think of a time in which you’ve overcome a major challenge? Did that challenge help you to grow and become a better person? Headwinds and trials and tribulations make us stronger. If we had faced no challenges, we would have no purpose here. Our purpose is to advance by capitalizing on our spiritual gifts.
“As the scriptures teach and experience proves, it’s difficult to develop courage without danger, perseverance without obstacles, patience without tribulation, compassion without suffering, character without adversity, faith (trust) without need. Soul-making is indeed painful.”(15)
“We also glory in tribulation, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope” Romans 5: 3-4.
Artie responds- As far as I can tell you didn’t post a rebuttal. You merely pointed out that ancient folks explained well know human failings as tests by God. There’s no reason to believe that’s true either.
Artie the Atheist says:
9. Everything… all of nature proves god exists. Perhaps this is you looking at everything in awe and not being able to understand how natural forces did all this. Or more likely since you have been told for so long that your god myth has done it all, your auto conclusion falls to “God did it”. Either way, there isn’t evidence by merely observing nature and pondering. Your interpretation of nature isn’t evidence but just your subjective opinion.
By your claim “The universe proves God”, but since nothing justifies the insertion of your favorite myth, …ANY imagined myth or cause fits too. So “The universe proves The Faerie King” is equally as valid. Further, I could also say “The universe proves nature makes universes” and it’s equally valid as well.
The universe is fine tuned.
There is an argument that the universe and its conditions are so perfect that the likelihood it could exist is basically nil. That is unless a designer were there to tune it just right. Well, how many universes have been made? What if all possible universes might exist as a multiverse? Our universe would eventually exist too, and of course all existing universes would be equally unlikely, so its a non proof for a designer.
This fellow will say it better: https://www.youtube.com/shared?ci=l5-ofKAtFEg
On another video (start at 3 min 50 sec) … the altering of the parameters of this universe wouldn’t necessarily produce a universe where life was impossible, though granted it will be notably different. Also a misunderstanding of the multiverse is explained.
During a T.E.D. Talk, the multiverse, string theory & apparent fine tuning all pulled together & explained.
The world, universe and humans are fine tuned to fit exactly where we are.
The Earth is in a perfect spot, a perfect distance from the sun for life. Too perfect to not be intentional. Yes Earth is one of countless planets in the universe which ended up with the right size to: hold gasses, have a liquid iron core & be the right temperature to have liquid water. Life arose because our planet eventually provided a viable environment, just like billions of others in the universe. This chance event is just chance, not evidence of the divine.
Without the Moon & Jupiter’s gravity we wouldn’t exist and the probability of this is too extreme to not be designed. There could be millions & billions of viable life enabling solar system variations in existence. Further, it’s not as if moons or gas giants are rare. In fact they seem quite common, so citing intent from gods is baseless.
The Earth environment is all too perfect for life, for it not to be designed. Actually, life adapted to the available environment. We (humans & life) evolved to survive on Earth. There is plenty if evidence for this & no evidence the world was made to fit us. Per the meme below, you are the puddle amazed at how everything fits you, but obviously you know full well, that’s not how it works.
But if you don’t grasp that life adopted to fit, let’s examine this finely tuned by design premise. The universe is so hostile to life that to think we humans got this far is amazing. If we leave this planet, we die instantly unless we take our atmosphere with us. Cosmic radiation is deadly. The Earth is quite hostile as well. Seventy-five percent of its surface is covered with water that we cannot drink because the salt content will kill us. If we venture into the ocean or lakes, we have to take our atmosphere there as well. Just swimming in the ocean is dangerous to us from predators. Tsunamis are a danger if we live near the coast. Earthquakes and volcanoes constantly threaten us. We can’t live at the poles because it’s much too cold for our frail bodies and no food grows there. That leaves about 20% of the land mass that’s accessible to us. Of that 20% there are mountains that are much too high to support our inefficient air intake system. And there are many desert areas that are much too hot for our inefficient cooling system. We must be very careful about the foods we eat because much of the plant life is poisonous. We must thoroughly clean our food to prevent the intake of bacteria. There are predators on the land that will kill us. We are constantly being threatened by viruses, bacteria and poisons.
FINE TUNED INDEED! We live on the razors edge and could be gone tomorrow.
The chances that all the exact events occurred, to end up with us, is beyond astronomical. This same absurd use of probability applies to everything. The rock in the garden for instance. The same mind boggling chance for us is nearly the same for the rock ending up where it did. The probability for this event is basically nill… so yes you can see this is a useless & improper use of probability. Our existence is from natural forces acting on nature, which always has a 1 in 1 chance. Things existing because they didn’t follow natural laws, would actually be have that astonomical chance.
SJ Thomason responds:
Hugh Ross(16)does an amazing job of identifying the circumstances needed to evolve life on Earth as we know it today, so I recommend a careful read of his new book, which I’ve referenced here.
“Many suggest that Earth’s life-sustaining features are just ‘amazing coincidences’ that somehow fell into place in a way that suits human needs and, at the same time, determines what life-forms exist…Ongoing research tells us that Earth has been shaped not only by an intricately orchestrated interplay of physical forces and conditions, but also by its vast abundance and diversity of life-forms. By means that no depth and breadth of scientific research can explain, life arose early in Earth’s history under anything but the benign conditions it would seem to require and somehow persisted through multiple mass extinction events, always appearing and reappearing at just-right times and in just-right forms to meet the needs and demands of the revised environment.
The more thoroughly researchers investigate the history of our planet, the more astonishing the story of our existence becomes. The number and complexity of the astronomical, geological, chemical, and biological features recognized as essential to human existence have expanded explosively within the last decade…Are we simply the result of a colossal matrix of innumerable, narrow coincidences, against all odds, or is there a more reasonable explanation?” (p. 14).
Artie responds- You seem to be saying our situation on earth is especially rare, but the universe is beyond massive and this rarity happened… probably many times. Its that enormous. So did so many other cosmically improbable events that had nothing to do with our piddly little selves. Reacting with awe is valid sure. Saying God did it is simply fallacious. As you quoted “‘amazing coincidences’ that somehow fell into place in a way that suits human needs” This ignores all the other events that transpired in the universe because of universal constants… it focuses on arrogant, self important specs of life on a spec of dirt in a lost spec of the universe’s back alley . An INFINITE number of things are the way they are because the universe is balanced in the way that it is. We feel special ONLY because we notice the rarity… not because we are special in this near infinity. Nope, Atheists are perfectly justified in thinking this is simply rare and not believing a god myth did any of it.
Further points from Artie the Atheist
10. Artie the Atheist continues by pointing to the personal testimonies of people who claim that (1) God changed their lives; (2) Jesus changed their lives; (3) Jesus existed historically, which we’ve discussed; and (4) Jesus existed, so the Bible is true.
Personal testimonies are powerful, yet atheists discount them. Unless they receive their own personal testimonies, they feel no compulsion to believe others’. This is reasonable, yet note that unless the door is held open to God, God cannot enter. To answer the latter points, I recommend reading the Bible, along with books by authors such as C.S. Lewis, Frank Turek, Robert Lanza, Hugh Ross, A.W. Tozer, Lee Strobel, and Josh McDowell.
Artie responds- Existing religious testimonies are often contradictory and explained well with religious conditioning.. Muslims seeing Allah and Muhammad is all the evidence you need. I recall a faerie believers group who claim to see faeries in visions. To mirror your silly claim…”Note that unless the door is held open to the Faerie King, the Faerie King cannot enter” Nope personal visions of myths should convince nobody else and arguably not even the viewer.
11. Artie the Atheist offers evidence debunking Islam, which I don’t intend to refute in this blog. Clearly, I don’t disagree with him.
Artie the Atheist says:
12. “Morality, love, hope, beauty and consciousness are only explainable as a God given things.”
It’s interesting to note that many arguments or questions for the existence of God often used by Christians are concepts of love, hope, beauty, etc. as if those notions contain a definitive trump card explaining God. The same correlations they desire between God and love are also true of sadness, fear, hatred and other negative human emotions. It seems to me that since the New Testament insists (either nonsensically or pantheistically) that, “God is love,” Christians think that if they can prove that love can’t be proved but it must exist, *somehow* God can’t be proved but he must exist. The logic in this assumption is obviously and horrendously flawed, but so many apologists who should know better, still use it! It reeks of intentional dishonesty.
Science tells us about “love” and while love can’t be precisely measured or even precisely defined, it is still a very real emotion created within the human brain. Feelings are electrochemical reactions in our brains arising from internal and/or external stimuli. Love and other emotions are clearly a function of the brain, despite some theistic claims of divinely caused emotions. To reinforce this fact, we know when you alter/damage the brain enough, emergent properties like love, personality & consciousness no longer function.
This same understanding applies to morality, hope, beauty and consciousness. They’re all emergent properties of our brains. Whether or not you believe scientific conclusions noting how our brain evolved to have these functions, the fact is they rely on the brain and not an external source. The evidence is in observing a damaged or dysfunctional brain, where these emergent properties are often compromised or completely missing.
SJ Thomason responds:
In his book, River Out of Eden, a Darwinian View of Life, Richard Dawkins echoes Artie the Atheist’s statement that morality, hope, beauty, and consciousness are “emergent properties of our brains.” Dawkins states that “DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music.” Such a viewpoint suggests that we’re on autopilot, simply subjects of pre-planned DNA. Yet this couldn’t be further from the truth. We have the ability to make conscious decisions on all sorts of intrinsic matters daily. We aren’t programmed to love in a certain way. We make conscious decisions to love in a certain way. We are gifted with consciousness, yet we know little of consciousness scientifically.
Consciousness researcher David Chalmers (17)from the Australian National University says, “All sorts of mental phenomena have yielded to scientific investigation in recent years, but consciousness has stubbornly resisted. Many have tried to explain it, but the explanations always seem to fall short of the target. Some have been led to suppose that the problem is intractable, and that no good explanation can be given.”
Problems that Chalmers has identified that have no explanation include:
• The ability to discriminate, categorize, and react to environmental stimuli
• The integration of information by a cognitive system
• The report-ability of mental states
• The focus of attention
• The ability of a system to access its own internal states
• The deliberate control of behavior
• The difference between wakefulness and sleep.
He states, “Why should physical processing give rise to a richer inner life at all? It seems objectively unreasonable that it should, and yet it does.”(18)
The question of consciousness can be answered by focusing on our own inner being – our spirituality. As Emerson has said, “Here we find ourselves, suddenly, not in a critical speculation, but in a holy place, and should go very warily and reverently. We stand before the secret of the world, there where Being passes into Appearance, and Unity into Variety…Let man then learn the revelation of all nature and all thought to his heart; this, namely; that the Highest dwells with him; that the sources of nature are in his own mind.”
Artie responds- Feelings and consciousness reasonably remain an emergent property of our brains. Take them away or damage them and the change compromises the ability to function as before. There’s no reason to think evolution didn’t result in this state and no reason to credit a higher being. Yes there are cool mysteries, but like with the Big bang mysteries above, leaping to a favorite mythical cause is silly.
I would like to thanks Ms. SJ Thomason for a thoughtful submission. I think I’ve shown however that atheists are still perfectly justified in not believing in Gods (as per the #TheistChallenge I post on twitter). I’m also certain that SJ didnt sift through the many included links and sites I provided along with my own refutations. Her submission might well have been different if she had the time to explore. Until next time Ms Thomason.
Thanks for Reading,