Atheism versus God: How did the universe begin?

You sir are dead wrong about almost everything in the article.

I am referring to this article: Atheism versus God: How did the universe begin? written by Vasko Kohlmayer in the Washington Times Communities. See the article if you wish to read the parts I truncated to maintain length.

There are those who claim that to believe in God is not only unscientific, but also absurd.

This is certainly not the case. To the contrary, it is the denial of God's existence that contradicts both science and common sense.

I'll grant you that common sense might indicate a god. But mind you, our intuitions about the actual mechanisms of the natural world has failed us many times. In fact, many scientific truths are counter-intuitive.

So, what about science? No. As far as scientific evidence is concerned, there is not a SINGLE verifiable piece of evidence indicating the existence of a deity.

The prevailing scientific consensus today is that the universe began with the Big Bang.

[Truncated -- some background on Big Bang theory]
The Big Bang theory describes the initial event as a great explosion which brought forth all the energy and matter in the universe. On this theory, the Big Bang was the beginning of all things. Prior to it, there was nothing: There were no particles, there was no matter. There was not even space or time.

Just a note: The Big Bang theory does NOT claim that there was nothing in the beginning. Please see this previous post: Something from Nothing?

Unlike some creationist retards who make the retarded claim that atheists believe "something came from nothing", that is not the author's beef. So let's move on.

Most of those who don't believe in God say that the Big Bang was a chance event. In other words, the great explosion that brought the universe into being was a cosmic fluke.

But this is an unsupportable position to take, because things just don't happen like that. Explosions – big or small – do not come about without someone or something causing them.

Here's his main beef: atheists believe that the universe/Big Bang is uncaused.

And he goes on to illustrate it,

To illustrate, consider this.

[Truncated -- the analogy]

And yet many atheists make precisely this kind of claim. They say that the greatest of all explosions just happened. On this view, the universe just popped into existence spontaneously.

But does this make sense?

Firstly, explosions, as described, have known causes and we understand the mechanisms -- unlike the Big Bang.

But more importantly, no atheist claim that the Big Bang is therefore necessarily uncaused. In fact, the atheists that I've heard of thinks that the Big Bang has a cause --- they simply don't think invoking a deity explains anything.

Common sense and experience tell us that the world does not work like this.

[Truncated -- lots of drama about a claim atheists do not make]

The problem is, however, that in all of its history science has never observed or documented a single uncaused event.

The atheistic position concerning the beginning of the universe thus goes not only against common sense and our everyday experience, but also against the axioms and observations of science.

In light of this, it is the atheist's position that has an air of absurdness about it.

Yes, the caricature of our position is very absurd. That, I don't disagree.

The huge irony here is that a majority of theists would claim that their god is an uncaused cause. So the absurdity that the author claims atheists believe sits squarely in his own court. All the drama about the absurdity of believing that something is uncaused applies to their god.

Yet, without a hint of irony, he goes on to say

It is only reasonable and logical to assume that the universe – just like everything else – had to have a cause. Judging by the staggering vastness, complexity and beauty of the universe, the cause that brought it forth must have been immensely powerful, superbly wise and exquisitely imaginative.

Such characteristics are normally associated with an entity we term God.

This reeks of stupid: "It's SO PRETTY! ...therefore, goddidit!"

To believe in God – the transcendent cause of the universe – is thus neither illogical nor absurd. Not to believe in him is both.

Unbelief will remain to be logically and scientifically untenable until it can be demonstrated that it is possible for an uncaused event to occur.

On the contrary, unbelief is the ONLY scientifically tenable position until evidence demonstrates the existence of a deity.

To believe that the existence of a god is justified by science is both illogical and absurd.

Tree of Wonder

I never quite understood the notion that beauty of nature is diminished when science explains the mechanisms of nature. I understand how people find the scientific method itself boring because they're not inclined to enjoy performing experiments and making observations. But that is a very different thing from saying science makes nature less beautiful by explaining it.

I don't get that. At all.

Just look at a tree. A tall, large tree with a crown of forest green leaves -- a majesty sight especially if contrasted by a lack of trees in the surrounding or smaller trees in the vicinity. The branching patterns in the crown and of the veins in leaves is itself beautiful sometimes very intricate looking. The powerful roots, a part of which spreads visibly above ground -- in urban areas, demonstrate its strength by breaking concrete as its grows larger and thicker. Depending on the time of the year, there may be flowers or fruits -- each adding colour to the crown.

That is beautiful. Visually. A majestic natural object to behold.

Science makes it even more beautiful -- not in your eyes but in your head.

When I look at a tree and contemplate its beauty, its beauty is not skin deep. Visuals is only part of the story. In the back of my head, the science of biology is summoned.

This large majestic tree is a multicellular organism -- a successful coalition of cells. Millions, billions of cells. Each cell as intricate and complex as the other. Each one following instructions laid out in its DNA -- having switched on or off different genes to perform its task in the coalition.

In the leaves, the chloroplasts are photosynthesizing -- the process that gave Earth its oxygenated atmosphere. And these chloroplast, like mitochondria, has its own genome, separate from the plant's own nuclear DNA, having descended from free-living ancestors of cyanobacteria.

This tree is one of the descendants of the primeval cell that started it all. A chain of unbroken parent-child kinship marching back more than 3 billion years. It stands tall on one of the tips of the tree of life where you stand on another. Yes, you're a cousin, a distant cousin of the tree you're looking at. Every single living thing is a cousin of differing degrees.

There is much more to think of but I hope this little description gives those people an inkling of how science beautifies.

There is much beauty, awe and wonder with science than without.

Mr. Deity and the Naughty Bits

Another hilarious episode of Mr Deity.

More videos on their channel if you're interested.

Catholic Church trafficking babies in Spain

The headline says it all and it reads: 300,000 babies stolen from their parents - and sold for adoption: Haunting BBC documentary exposes 50-year scandal of baby trafficking by the Catholic church in Spain

I don't have a lot to comment on this. On some level, it's almost expected.

Spreading AIDS in Africa. Child rape and cover-up. And now, there's baby trafficking on the list of shit that the Catholic Church peddle. Granted it's just the Catholic Church in Spain and not the Pope's Vatican, the atrocity is still substantially religiously motivated and facilitated.

This is yet another example of how organized religion can conduct immoral actions with efficiency through its organized structure and be cloaked by inculcating a false veil of moral superiority.

Tracie Harris awesomeness

One of those informative episodes of the Atheist Experience with co-host Tracie Harris.

"Well, it's not all bad!"

 "Why do you atheists always talk about bad things that come from religion? Why don't you ever talk about the good works like feeding the poor and building hospitals, etc?"
"Well, religion is not all bad! Look at all the good things that come from religion like charity and love and etc..."

This one type of defense of religion that I find not only weak but, frankly misses the point.

Firstly, it is basically arguing for the usefulness of religion not for its truth which seems odd when we're arguing about whether a god really exist. But we'll leave that aside since this post is coming from another angle.

"Religion does good too!" sounds almost reasonable, ie not reasonable.

You mean aside from stifling science and education, obstructing justice, denying LGBT rights and perpetuating a general contempt of humanity among other historical atrocities, religions also does charity and some good works? Wow, who knew? /sarcasm.

Put it this way: Say there's a rich guy who love his wife and kids. He is rich and successful businessman who provides welfare for his workers and donates to large sums of money to charity monthly. Every fortnight, he kills a family and rape the kids. But look at all the good things he does!

No. He's a psychopath and needs to be locked up. Same with religion.

What makes the defense even more worthless is the fact that ALL the good works religion does can be and (hopefully) will be done, if not superseded, by secular means. That means we can have all the good without the bad -- religion can and should go.

Atheism is not the system

Atheism is frequently thought to be a belief system or a religion by religious people. Sometimes, atheists ourselves use the word in such a way that it would be misunderstood as such.

There is a thought process, but it's not atheism, it's skepticism coupled with the scientific method. Atheism, a singular position on a single claim, cannot be a system -- it is a conclusion.

There is no doctrine of Atheism that call upon all atheists to reject/deny god(s). There is a preponderance of the evidence of available that led to the conclusion that is atheism. There is no pope of Atheism who dictates that science is the truth. There is a recognition that the Scientific Method is the single most reliable method to get humanity as close to the truth as possible.

So perhaps, skepticism might be a more accurate label for the "belief system" than atheism?

Discarding theology

Why do atheists typically ignore "sophisticated" modern theology? Simple. The answer is embodied by the Courtier's Reply made by PZ Myers in response to critics of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion:

I have considered the impudent accusations of Mr Dawkins with exasperation at his lack of serious scholarship. He has apparently not read the detailed discourses of Count Roderigo of Seville on the exquisite and exotic leathers of the Emperor's boots, nor does he give a moment's consideration to Bellini's masterwork, On the Luminescence of the Emperor's Feathered Hat. We have entire schools dedicated to writing learned treatises on the beauty of the Emperor's raiment, and every major newspaper runs a section dedicated to imperial fashion; Dawkins cavalierly dismisses them all. He even laughs at the highly popular and most persuasive arguments of his fellow countryman, Lord D. T. Mawkscribbler, who famously pointed out that the Emperor would not wear common cotton, nor uncomfortable polyester, but must, I say must, wear undergarments of the finest silk. Dawkins arrogantly ignores all these deep philosophical ponderings to crudely accuse the Emperor of nudity.

Simply put, theology is not based on reality.

The Scientific Method is applicable to ANY area of knowledge of reality. What we typically call Science is the different branches of physics, chemistry and biology. But the method is also applied to other areas of knowledge including history and linguistics.

In fact, you use a less rigorous form of the method in your life. When your computer power off suddenly, you hypothesize that there is a blackout or that some hardware in the computer fried. You notice that other electrical appliances in your home is still powered thus ruling out the hypothesis of a blackout and you go on checking other things, so on and so forth.

Theology is basically the study of god. But the thing is, theology does not provide evidence of god's existence. It sometimes tries to prove god through pure logic (ie, armchair philosophy) if not ignoring the issue completely and jumps straight into sophistry about god presuming its existence.

I'm sorry. How is that not nonsense?

Theology is like Germ theory where viruses and bacteria don't exist. Theology is like Paleontology where bones never fossilize. Theology is like Chemistry in a universe where only hydrogen exist forever unchanged.

Dismissing claims for which there is no evidence for is not a "science". It's basic skepticism.

The same point is previously discussed in: Justifications and Beliefs

Do realize that atheists (at least those who have been called "New Atheists") are skeptics first, atheist in conclusion. We are not hostile to religion because of some Atheist doctrine. We are atheists because we were first skeptical of religious claims.

The Non-Explanation

Here's a new video by DarkMatter2525:

Conditioned to believe that basically everything is in accordance to God's plans, religious people rationalize any and every outcome in a strange twisted way. Since God is defined to be always right, no matter the situation, God is "good" irrespective of the situation, be it an accident or a natural disaster.

It's fucking nuts.

Jesus Camp, Singapore

By the way.

HOLY FUCK! The conservative Christian pastor, Becky Fischer, well-known for running Jesus Camp, was in Singapore.

For those who haven't heard of Jesus Camp, you can see it on Youtube.

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:
Part 4:
Part 5:
Part 6:

The crazies are coming!

Steve Jobs needn't have died young

It has come to my attention that the recent death of Steve Jobs was very probably premature and I'm not speaking from an emotional point of view. He may have survived his cancer had he gotten treatment right away but... he did not.

Here is a link to an article written on the subject by the Daily Beast: Job's Unorthodox Treatment. And here is a ScienceBlogs entry about the same topic: Steve Jobs, neuroendocrine tumors and alternative treatment.

Of course, we cannot be absolutely sure that he would have survived had he undertook immediate medical treatment but 9 months is very significant if his cancer was indeed aggressive. Aggressive or not, it seems clear that he would probably live much longer if those 9 months haven't been wasted on "alternative medicine".

I feel dirty for using the word "medicine" in the phrase "alternative medicine". "Alternative medicine" is not medicine -- if it worked, it wouldn't be an "alternative" at all.

I didn't write this entry to dump on Steve Jobs for making that bad decision but to bring to light what an unnecessary tragedy this is. It's a pretty good bet that he could have stuck around longer if he had known better.

The blame is on society and educators. We failed. We failed to equip laypeople with the knowledge and skills to fend off unevidenced beliefs. And in this case, unevidenced beliefs has cut a brilliant man's life short. There are many more people out there who are now on the same path because they too have succumbed to pseudoscience and magical thinking.

But you can help. Educating yourself on such areas of knowledge would be most helpful -- admittedly however, most people either do not have the time or is not bothered by such.

Well, it's time to be bothered. The next time someone talks about astrology as if it was true, give it to them, wake them up. Someone wants to waste money on homeopathy? Give him some education. Whatever the pseudoscience or superstition, be bothered, be very bothered and let them know that it is wrong.

Some tragedies need not happen. Don't let it slide.