“Either God can do nothing to stop catastrophes like this,
or He doesn’t care,
or He doesn’t exist.
God is either IMPOTENT, EVIL, or IMAGINARY.
Take your pick, and choose wisely.”
Dialectical Materialist: Sam Harris is a racist. I’d have God over him, and I don’t believe in God.
Religious Obscurantist: Not caring isn’t evil. The universe doesn’t care about you, and it isn’t evil either. In short, God resembles the universe more than he resembles a swimming pool attendant. It’s not rocket science, people.
“God, he says, either wishes to take away evils, and is unable; or He is able, and is unwilling; or He is neither willing nor able, or He is both willing and able. If He is willing and is unable, He is feeble, which is not in accordance with the character of God; if He is able and unwilling, He is envious, which is equally at variance with God; if He is neither willing nor able, He is both envious and feeble, and therefore not God; if He is both willing and able, which alone is suitable to God, from what source then are evils? Or why does He not remove them?” (Epicurus)
Religious Obscurantist: Yes, Epicurus shared the opinion I expressed above – that it is foolish to imagine God interfering in human affairs. He was a religious man himself.
[He] “was one of the first Greeks to break from the god-fearing and god-worshiping tradition common at the time, even while affirming that religious activities are useful as a way to contemplate the gods and to use them as an example of the pleasant life. Epicurus participated in the activities of traditional Greek religion, but taught that one should avoid holding false opinions about the gods. The gods are immortal and blessed and men who ascribe any additional qualities that are alien to immortality and blessedness are, according to Epicurus, impious. The gods do not punish the bad and reward the good as the common man believes. The opinion of the crowd is, Epicurus claims, that the gods “send great evils to the wicked and great blessings to the righteous who model themselves after the gods,” whereas Epicurus believes the gods, in reality, do not concern themselves at all with human beings.” (Wikipedia)
Atheist: If it’s foolish to imagine God interfering with human affairs then what is the point in trying to prove God’s existence? The lack of evidence of such an entity is no argument in favour of it. You can no more prove or disprove a God than you can a flying horse from outer space that only visits worlds that are uninhabited.
Religious Obscurantist: Sure – in the same way that it is impossible to prove the veracity or omnipotence of ‘science’ or ‘reason’. In both cases, one can only have faith.
Atheist: Science has its flaws but sometimes it is demonstrably true – there are natural laws which are eternal. That isn’t based on faith, it’s based on observable objectivity. People will disagree with one’s reasoning but neither does that make the reasoning false, some things are true, some things are indeed based on faith and bias, the concept of a God being the all time heavyweight champion of the latter category. It’s just started raining, I’m not imagining it.
Religious Obscurantist: Natural laws are not eternal – well, none we know of. God as “all time champion“, etc, is, admittedly, a tedious idea. The good news is that religion doesn’t require it. Maybe one day there will be a science that explains the ultimate origins of things and their fundamental nature. But there is no proof of that. We just have to have faith in science.
Atheist: No natural laws are eternal? Not heard of gravity or friction then? Incidentally I’m not ridiculing the idea of faith, one may believe in whatever they want to, but they will always have their own reasoning behind it – so in conclusion then, there is no proof that God exists, only the faith of his believers. I can go along with that.
Religious Obscurantist: Gravity appeared in the first moments of the universe through random quantum fluctuations. Many universes will not contain it, or its laws will be different. Scientists suspect that the physical constants of our universe are still changing. Steve, you really must let go of your primitive superstitions and embrace science. The physicist Lee Smolin has written well on these issues, arguing that time is the only fundamental thing in physics – everything else is mutable. And Friction isn’t a natural law, by the way. There is no proof that God exists. We also have no real idea what matter is.
Atheist: Gravity is more evident on our planet than others, Andy, I understand how it works. If you think it’s merely a man made concept then feel free to jump out of the window and let me know how the lack of gravity and frictions works out for you – I’ll be waiting in eager anticipation 🙂
See my previous post, I’ll be here 🙂
Religious Obscurantist: I didn’t say it was a man made concept, I said it wasn’t eternal. The belief in ‘eternal laws’ is actually a product of religious thinking – God sets the immutable, unbreakable laws of nature. I was just pointing out that your idea of science is very anachronistic and, in fact, ironically, heavily indebted to religious ideas – Namely Newton’s Unitarian notion of God as the ‘prime mover’ / primum mobile who sets all the immutable laws of nature, then sets nature in motion, and then retreats from the universe (thus explaining his lack of interest in the affairs of men – the subject with which this thread started). There’s no need to be ashamed at having such deeply religious beliefs even though you think of yourself as an atheist – most atheists are steeped in religious ideas of one kind or another. It’s just that those ideas tend to be quite old fashioned and not at all in tune with contemporary science or religion. And, incidentally, Gravity as a force simply doesn’t exist – it’s simply that space time bends near matter in our universe. You can escape gravity completely by traveling fast enough. Just to be absolutely clear, the reason scientists in the past assumed that the laws of nature were eternal is because they assumed that God created the universe and, being omnipotent, set the laws of nature once and for all the way he needed them in order to support the universe he wanted to create. The clue, by the way, is in the word ‘law’ – it was imagined that God governed matter the way a king governs a society, by establishing the rules that must be obeyed. However, modern science does not assume that God created the universe, but understands that it’s ‘laws’ are regularities and relations created purely randomly in the Big Bang, and changing over time. Thus, science no longer has any use for these eternal, God given laws you believe in.
Atheist: Right, so it’s not a man made concept, but it’s not an eternal natural law either, so what is it then? Gravity I mean, what is it if not an eternal law of this particular planet? One minute you’re decrying science for being nothing more than faith based conjecture and deny that laws such as gravity and friction, two of the most basic laws recognised by scientists, are eternal, and then go on to cite scientists who have a belief in God and religion as evidence in favour of your argument. I can think for myself too, I have faith in my own intuition but am more than prepared to accept further information that might prove my intuitions incorrect. You’ve now reached the point of labelling me an unwitting believer because my argument isn’t fitting in with your narrative. You’re a nice guy Religious Obscruantist, but I’m gonna have to duck out once more as this is a futile argument that will otherwise go on all night and leave me questioning my sanity. All the best, may your God go with you (Dave Allen – Atheist).
Religious Obscurantist: I didn’t say that science was merely faith based conjecture – that would be silly. I said that *the belief that science can explain the ultimate nature of reality* is a fath based conjecture; which it clearly is, since there is no proof of it.
Atheist: That’s what you did say and you’ve been silly for quite some time now. Goodbye Andy, have a good evening.
Religious Obscurantist: No, I’m not saying you are an unwitting believer (in God). I am saying that your ideas about physics (namely that the world is governed by eternal laws) are religious ideas, albeit discredited ones. That is to say, the idea that there are ‘eternal’ laws of nature is a product of belief in an omnipotent God. Seriously – read Newton. He’s quite clear about it. Where else could we have got the idea that the laws of nature are eternal? By doing tests at the dawn of time, in different universes, then here, today, and comparing the results?
The idea stems from the assumption that;
1) God created the universe, and…
2) set its laws
Hence he set them once and for all, and they are eternal. Did you perhaps believe that the idea had been tested? What did you imagine the test was like?
Atheist #2: Atheist #1, that summation was awesome! Thank you.
Religious Obscurantist: Ah, like all believers in ‘reason’ you give up arguing when it can be shown that you are being unreasonable. Seriously, Steve, before you go, just explain where you got the idea that the laws of nature were eternal. Why do you believe it to be true? It seems a perfectly reasonable question to ask someone who is defending ‘science’ where they get their scientific ideas from. There’s no need to run away in a huff or pretend that the question is “silly”.
Atheist: I’m not going to argue with someone who’s argument is based on nothing but faith and persistently contradicts itself. Why would I put myself through that? I have to give up because it is a futile exercise that will result in a migraine, want any more ‘reasons’?
Religious Obscurantist: A final point for now, Steve: when I denied that natural laws were ‘eternal’, you assumed that I mean that they were therefore ‘man made’. What clearer example could there be of the superstitious assumption that while men are confined to the world of change and contingency, God dwells in the timeless realms of the eternal – where, for example, he cooks up his eternal laws of nature. Tell me where you got the idea that the laws of nature are eternal. Come on, don’t be shy, or people will think that you haven’t got an answer.
Jump out of the window then and let your faith decide the outcome. See ya Andy, it was nice knowing you. 🙂
Religious Obscurantist: Once again, our heroes of ‘reason’ run away like spoiled children when it is shown that they are talking childish, superstitious nonsense.
Atheist: I’m still here waiting for you to jump..what are you waiting for?
“Superstitious nonsense”, from a guy who believes in God and insists that faith is the only evidence required? Fuck off Andy.
Religious Obscurantist: Because, for all the bullshit about ‘science’, ‘proof’ and ‘reason’ they are really scared and superstitious children incapable of defending their beliefs and prejudices. Just bear in mind, Steve, contrary to your prejudices, it turns out that us weak-minded theistic types can hold an argument without wetting ourselves.
Atheist: You’re a nutcase, I’m merely saving myself the stress…post unfollowed..
Religious Obscurantist: By the way, I didn’t say I believed in God. You invented that bit. And if I believe faith is sufficient, how comes I’m the only one of the two of us capable of mounting an argument? How comes it is you that is scurrying away to avoid answering the question about where you got you belief about the laws of nature being eternal ? Come on, show a bit of gumption.
Another hard-boiled rationalist bites the dust. Seriously ppl, this is better than whack-a-mole.