Sunday, April 10, 2011

On Atheists, Part 2

Thanks for responding to my post about atheism.  I'm a shrewd, skeptical person by nature who has very carefully come to have faith in a Creator of the Universe.  I don't believe in werewolves or Zeus or other things that are derivative of man's imagination, including many people's ideas about God.  By definition these things are lesser than man because man invented them or invented their supposed attributes.  When I refer to God I'm speaking of another category altogether; I mean that nagging possibility of an intelligence that exists apart from the mind of man, independent and transcendent.  I mean the idea of a God from which we would be derivative.

Also, while we're defining terms, I mean to use the term "agnostic" in the normal sense, i.e. a person that does not claim belief or unbelief because they do not know.  In that sense, atheists are not also agnostic.

I hope my post was provocative without being unnecessarily antagonistic.  But I am convinced the evidence for a God is pretty overwhelming.  We're surrounded by evidence; the parts of my body are infinitely more complex than the computer in front of me.  And I don't just mean that they're more complex in their structure or processes (which they are) but every cell is more complex in its information.  Somehow this organized, coherent, useful data in my DNA exists in a world that supposedly has no direction or intelligence.  Does information spring out of mindlessness?  Does life spring from inanimate material?  Organized information is evidence of intelligence (e.g. SETI).  Engineering is evidence of an engineer.

Beyond this, we have a moral component.  Humans everywhere have a basic knowledge of right and wrong.  We don't normally murder those we love or disrespect those we want to impress; we've never sung songs praising cowardice and failure.  People don't always honor these standards but, when we don't, we feel guilt and remorse.  Why?  I suggest that we know there is a higher moral standard than mere nature, red in tooth and claw.  Atheism has historically had a hard time arguing why natural man should be so unnaturally moral.

In the end, I don't suppose that I'll convince you to swerve from your faith anymore that I will swerve from mine.  But I ask that you'll fairly consider both sides with an open mind.  What if there is a God who created this somehow and can assign value to you as a living being?  What if he has expectations?!

If you're like most of us, this doesn't really come down evidence and arguments and philosophical debates.  The real reason we don't believe in God is this: we don't want to.  It's not about evidence for or against God; it's more often about peer pressure and fear and bitterness and pride.  In our own minds, to stop believing is a reprieve from authority and accountability.  We can live like we want because, in the end, no one is going to question us on it.


Responses from a friendly atheist on the internet:
First, how can someone say they believe there's no God? How do they make that claim, not having searched every corner of the universe at every point in time?

The same way I can say I believe there are no werewolves, even though I haven't searched every corner of the earth.

At least an agnostic is honest enough to say he just doesn't know.

I don't claim to know either, but I don't go around claiming that theists can't know for sure and should also be re-categorized as agnostic.

Theist: believes 1 or more gods exist.
Atheist: someone who is not a theist.

I'm not a theist. There are no gods that I think exist. I'm an atheist.

I'm also agnostic, because agnostic refers to knowledge, not belief.

But an atheist has such a big chip on his shoulder that he claims for himself god-like knowledge about the existence of God.


I assume you're an atheist regarding, say, Zeus. You don't think Zeus exists, or any of the other thousands of gods, except for one. I just don't stop at that last one.


Reason's Whore said...

Wrong. I don't believe because the evidence of the universe does not support the existence of a god.

I was a believer for over 40 years. I began to study for the ministry and it was then that I became an atheist. Because I realized that religion (and everything I thought people "knew" about god) was all manmade. I am hardly alone in this experience; it's quite common for atheists to recognize the vacuity of religious belief when they study religion. In fact, for me (and for many believers), this process is very upsetting and traumatic. It's not easy to lose the god you thought existed and accounted for everything.

I had written a longer post but it disappeared. I suggest Dan Barker's book, "Losing Faith in Faith" as a good place to understand the atheist position.

Another is this post here.

Jonathan said...

Simplicity is a mark of artificial design. Complexity is a sign of natural processes. As per information theory, an entropic decay generates more information. That is to say, as a system proceeds to disorder, it gains more information. Thus, any system that has significant entropic decay will have significant complexity as a natural result. Artificial systems tend to have the complexity removed from them for more efficient operation. Static has a lot of information in it; a television signal has relatively little.