Atheism Education Intelligent Design Religion

Should atheism be included in religious education?

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File:Atheism.svg That’s being suggested in Britain:

Humanists UK welcomed the recommendation that humanist beliefs and values be taught. In general, the commission’s conclusions were a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to save the academically serious teaching of religious and non-religious worldviews in our schools”, said Andrew Copson.

But the Catholic Education Service said the report was “not so much an attempt to improve RE as to fundamentally change its character … The quality of religious education is not improved by teaching less religion.”Harriet Sherwood, “Call for atheism to be included in religious education” at The Guardian

Surely the Catholic Education Service is missing the point. Atheism is a religious stance and an important one, given that many prominent people are atheists. Teaching beliefs other than atheists’ beliefs as “religion” means that the worldview on which atheists’ choices are based is going to be represented in a confusing way.

For example, many atheists don’t believe in free will. That doubtless influences what they advocate or think reasonable but if we can’t unpack it, we can’t talk about what it means.

See also: Sam Harris, atheists, and charitable giving

and

Which side will atheists choose in the war on science? They need to re-evaluate their alliance with progressivism, which is doing science no favours.

38 Replies to “Should atheism be included in religious education?

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    I have no problem with students being taught about atheism or agnosticism in religious education classes just as I have no problem with students being taught about Intelligent Design or taught about the variations of human sexuality in sex education classes. The distinction, which teachers and students should clearly understand, is that there is a difference between teaching about the world’s faiths – or lack thereof – and promoting or proselytizing one particular religion.

  2. 2
    ET says:

    So Intelligent Design in sex education classes, eh?

    That doesn’t make any sense at all

  3. 3
    aarceng says:

    Well Atheism does match **some** definitions of a religion.
    Religion
    : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith
    : a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe

  4. 4
    Bob O'H says:

    aarceng – one problem with claiming that atheism is a religion is that it covers a wide variety of beliefs: western Humanism is only one form. Taoism, for example, is atheistic (at least as far as I understand it, although there are spirits within Taoism that are viewed as supernatural, and perhaps even god-like).

  5. 5
    asauber says:

    claiming that atheism is a religion

    Until an atheist can prove there’s no God, Atheists have a religious belief there is no God.

    In fact, all the posturing, pretense, and mental frameworks of Atheists rival and often surpass in intensity the same things in people of other beliefs.

    Andrew

  6. 6
    EricMH says:

    @Bob O’H one problem with claiming theism is a religion is that it covers a wide variety of beliefs: western Christianity is only one form. Hinduism, for example, is theistic.

  7. 7
    Mung says:

    ET:

    That doesn’t make any sense at all

    Does it need to make sense?

  8. 8
    polistra says:

    Comparative religion courses do discuss atheism, agnosticism, etc, along with the other major groups.

    I don’t know what they’re complaining about. Do they want religion courses to be SOLELY about atheism?

  9. 9
    Bob O'H says:

    EricMH – Indeed.

  10. 10
    ScuzzaMan says:

    Should atheism be included in religious education?

    Well, I think the presence of the term “theism” in the word “atheism” is something of a clue.

    If I make a statement that 2 + 2 = 4, that is a mathematical proposition.

    If I make a statement that 2 – 2 = 4, that is also a mathematical proposition.

    That one of them is wrong and one is right doesn’t alter the nature of the propositions themselves. You cannot change he subject by changing the sign.

    So, if theism is a religious proposition, then so too is atheism.

    If atheism is NOT a religious proposition, then neither is theism.

    Just choose one, please.

  11. 11
    R J Sawyer says:

    Teaching everything there is to know about atheism would be the shortest course in the world.

  12. 12
    Latemarch says:

    RJS@11

    Heh! +1

  13. 13
    Seversky says:

    ScuzzaMan @ 10

    So, if theism is a religious proposition, then so too is atheism.

    If atheism is NOT a religious proposition, then neither is theism.

    Just choose one, please.

    Is assenting to or rejecting a particular religious proposition equivalent to being a member of a particular faith in your view? For example, I have an opinion on the historicity of Jesus. Does that make me a Christian or a Muslim or a Hindu or Jedi Knight or even an atheist?

  14. 14
    R J Sawyer says:

    Atheism being a religion makes as much sense as not believing in the supernatural being a supernatural belief.

  15. 15
    Charles Birch says:

    So, using the same reasoning, disbelief in atheism is not a theistic belief.

  16. 16
    Bob O'H says:

    Charles Birch – indeed, I’d say you are right. But the worldview that such a person would have instead would (almost certainly) be a theistic belief.

  17. 17
    ET says:

    Atheism is a lack of belief in any deity. It is still a faith thing.

  18. 18
    asauber says:

    It is still a faith thing

    Indeed. It’s the unscientific faith leap from: God hasn’t revealed Himself to me in a way I would prefer, to ———–> God doesn’t exist.

    Meanwhile, Atheists ape a lot of Christian ideas.

    Andrew

  19. 19
    daveS says:

    ET,

    I lack the belief that extraterrestrial aliens have visited Earth. Is that a faith thing?

  20. 20
    ET says:

    Yes, daves, it is a faith thing especially given the evidence.

  21. 21
    asauber says:

    I lack the belief that extraterrestrial aliens have visited Earth.

    daveS,

    Since you really don’t know if they have visited or not, and no way of ever finding out if they have or it, I’d say it was a faith thing.

    Andrew

  22. 22
    daveS says:

    It is interesting that the lack of belief in a thing requires the exercise of faith, apparently.

    I lack the belief that Russell’s Teapot exists, but that doesn’t seem like an act of faith to me.

  23. 23
    asauber says:

    the lack of belief in a thing requires the exercise of faith </blockquote?

    daveS,

    Methinks thou art being a tad obtuse with this.

    It kinda depends on the thing in question, and evidence pro/con, doesn't it?

    Andrew

  24. 24
    bornagain77 says:

    daveS apparently holds that, via the reductio ad absurdum of Russell’s Teapot,

    Russell’s Teapot is an argument first formulated by the philosopher Bertrand Russell as a reductio ad absurdum of the notion that in an argument about the possible existence of an unseen entity, the burden of proof is upon the skeptic.

    “If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.[1] ”
    The fallacy in the argument is that there is in fact nothing absurd about believing the teapot to be there, if those “ancient books” were written by an ancient astronaut or other being who placed the teapot there. The argument presumes that such is not the case, so it presumes what it sets out to prove, and is thus a circular argument.

    That is, the argument is based on the presumption that there is no valid reason, beyond widespread belief, to believe that the teapot exists. But if the validity of those ancient books could be established, there is indeed reason to believe that the teapot exists, and thus the presumption in the argument is false.
    https://www.conservapedia.com/Russell%27s_teapot

    ,,, daveS apparently holds that, via the reductio ad absurdum of Russell’s Teapot, that the logic of reductio ad absurdum is a valid way to infer whether something is true or not.

    Yet, besides the fact that free will, and therefore logic itself, cannot be based in daveS’s atheistic worldview, why does not daveS reject atheism altogether since it is reductio ad absurdum of all human experience and not just reductio ad absurdum to an imaginary teapot used in his fictitious circular argument?

    Metaphysical Naturalism, i.e. atheism, is reductio ad absurdum on (at least) these eight following points of personal, and direct, human experience:

    1.) Argument from intentionality
    1. If naturalism is true, I cannot think about anything.
    2. I am thinking about naturalism.
    3. Therefore naturalism is not true.

    2.) The argument from meaning
    1. If naturalism is true, no sentence has any meaning.
    2. Premise (1) has meaning.
    3. Therefore naturalism is not true.

    3.) The argument from truth
    1. If naturalism is true, there are no true sentences.
    2. Premise (1) is true.
    3. Therefore naturalism is not true.

    4.) The argument from moral blame and praise
    1. If naturalism is true, I am not morally praiseworthy or blameworthy for any of my actions.
    2. I am morally praiseworthy or blameworthy for some of my actions.
    3. Therefore naturalism is not true.

    5.) Argument from freedom
    1. If naturalism is true, I do not do anything freely.
    2. I am free to agree or disagree with premise (1).
    3. Therefore naturalism is not true.

    6.) The argument from purpose
    1. If naturalism is true, I do not plan to do anything.
    2. I (Dr. Craig) planned to come to tonight’s debate.
    3. Therefore naturalism is not true.

    7.) The argument from enduring
    1. If naturalism is true, I do not endure for two moments of time.
    2. I have been sitting here for more than a minute.
    3. Therefore naturalism is not true.

    8.) The argument from personal existence
    1. If naturalism is true, I do not exist.
    2. I do exist!
    3. Therefore naturalism is not true.

    I strongly suggest watching Dr. Craig’s following presentation of the 8 points to get a full feel for just how insane the metaphysical naturalist’s (atheist’s) position actually is.

    Is Metaphysical Naturalism Viable? – William Lane Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzS_CQnmoLQ

    And here are some additional notes along Dr. Craig’s line of thought. Additional notes that have references to go along with them:

    Darwin’s Theory vs Falsification
    Excerpt: Basically, because of reductive materialism (and/or methodological naturalism), the atheistic materialist is forced to claim that he is merely a ‘neuronal illusion’ (Coyne, Dennett, etc..), who has the illusion of free will (Harris), who has unreliable beliefs about reality (Plantinga), who has illusory perceptions of reality (Hoffman), who, since he has no real time empirical evidence substantiating his grandiose claims, must make up illusory “just so stories” with the illusory, and impotent, ‘designer substitute’ of natural selection (Behe, Gould, Sternberg), so as to ‘explain away’ the appearance (i.e. illusion) of design (Crick, Dawkins), and who must make up illusory meanings and purposes for his life since the reality of the nihilism inherent in his atheistic worldview is too much for him to bear (Weikart), and who must also hold morality to be subjective and illusory since he has rejected God (Craig, Kreeft).
    Bottom line, nothing is real in the atheist’s worldview, least of all, morality, meaning and purposes for life.,,,
    Paper with references for each claim page; Page 37:
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pAYmZpUWFEi3hu45FbQZEvGKsZ9GULzh8KM0CpqdePk/edit

    It is sadly humorous that “the illusion of daveS” would appeal to the reductio ad absurdum of an imaginary teapot to try to justify his rejection of the real and living God Whom without which, no ‘realness’ of our experiences would be possible for us in the first place.

    As to this comment from daveS

    It is interesting that the lack of belief in a thing requires the exercise of faith, apparently.

    Atheism is certainly far more than ‘lack of belief’: it is to embrace “ultimate irrationalism” over rationality itself.

    Atheism,,, is certainly far more than the mere absence of faith. – David Bentley Hart
    God, Gods, and Fairies by David Bentley Hart – June 2013
    Excerpt: All of which is to say (to return to where I began) that it is absurd to think that one can profess atheism in any meaningful way without thereby assenting to an entire philosophy of being, however inchoate one’s sense of it may be. The philosophical naturalist’s view of reality is not one that merely fails to find some particular object within the world that the theist imagines can be described there; it is a very particular representation of the nature of things, entailing a vast range of purely metaphysical commitments.
    Principally, it requires that one believe that the physical order, which both experience and reason say is an ensemble of ontological contingencies, can exist entirely of itself, without any absolute source of actuality. It requires also that one resign oneself to an ultimate irrationalism: For the one reality that naturalism can never logically encompass is the very existence of nature (nature being, by definition, that which already exists); it is a philosophy, therefore, surrounded, permeated, and exceeded by a truth that is always already super naturam, and yet a philosophy that one cannot seriously entertain except by scrupulously refusing to recognize this.
    It is the embrace of an infinite paradox: the universe understood as an “absolute contingency.” It may not amount to a metaphysics in the fullest sense, since strictly speaking it possesses no rational content—it is, after all, a belief that all things rest upon something like an original moment of magic—but it is certainly far more than the mere absence of faith.
    https://www.firstthings.com/article/2013/06/god-gods-and-fairies

  25. 25
    daveS says:

    asauber,

    Certainly if I claim to lack belief in X, then that indicates that in my assessment, the evidence I have seen in favor of X (if any) is not compelling.

    It’s perfectly reasonable to claim a lack of belief in X and a lack of belief in not-X, incidentally (IMHO).

  26. 26
    Heartlander says:

    p>These appear to be statements of faith:

    Dawkins – we are merely lumbering robots doing the bidding of selfish genes created by a blind watchmaker in a universe of blind pitiless indifference without good or evil.

    Rosenberg – we have an illusion that thoughts really are about stuff in the world – we live with the myths that we have purposes that give our actions and lives meaning – and that there is a person “in there” steering our body.

    Provine – no ultimate foundation for ethics exists – no ultimate meaning in life exists – and human free will is nonexistent.

    Pinker – brains are shaped for fitness, not for truth

    Ruse – ethics is an illusion created by our genes to deceive us – morality is an adaptation.

    Harris – Free will is an illusion. Our wills are simply not of our own making…. You will do whatever it is you do, and it is meaningless to assert that you could have done otherwise.

    Coyne – You are robots made out of meat – behavior is absolutely determined by the laws of physics… That is the infinite regress and the sort of annoying thing about determinism. It’s turtles all the way down.

    Dennett – Nobody is conscious – we are all zombies – Darwinism is like “a universal acid; it eats through just about every traditional concept and leaves in its wake a revolutionized world-view.

    It is important here to point out the distinction between God, gods, and fairies as explained below by David Bentley Hart:

    >One of the strangest claims often made by purveyors and consumers of today’s popular atheism is that disbelief in God involves no particular positive philosophy of reality, much less any kind of religion or creed, but consists merely in neutral incredulity toward a certain kind of factual asseveration. This is not something the atheists of earlier ages would have been very likely to say, if only because they still lived in a culture whose every dimension (artistic, philosophical, ethical, social, cosmological) was shaped by a religious vision of the world. More to the point, it is an utterly nonsensical claim—so nonsensical, in fact, that it is doubtful that those who make it can truly be considered atheists in any coherent sense.

    Admittedly, I suppose, it is possible to mistake the word “God” for the name of some discrete object that might or might not be found within the fold of nature, if one just happens to be more or less ignorant of the entire history of theistic belief. But, really, the distinction between “God”—meaning the one God who is the transcendent source of all things—and any particular “god”—meaning one or another of a plurality of divine beings who inhabit the cosmos—is one that, in Western tradition, goes back at least as far as Xenophanes.

    And it is a distinction not merely in numbering, between monotheism and polytheism, as though the issue were simply how many “divine entities” one thinks there are; rather, it is a distinction between two qualitatively incommensurable kinds of reality, belonging to two wholly disparate conceptual orders. In the words of the great Swami Prabhavananda, only the one transcendent God is “the uncreated”: “Gods, though supernatural, belong . . . among the creatures. Like the Christian angels, they are much nearer to man than to God.”

    This should not be a particularly difficult distinction to grasp, truth be told. To speak of “God” properly—in a way, that is, consonant with the teachings of orthodox Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Vedantic and Bhaktic Hinduism, Bahá’í, much of antique paganism, and so forth—is to speak of the one infinite ground of all that is: eternal, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, uncreated, uncaused, perfectly transcendent of all things and for that very reason absolutely immanent to all things.

    God so understood is neither some particular thing posed over against the created universe, in addition to it, nor is he the universe itself. He is not a being, at least not in the way that a tree, a clock, or a god is; he is not one more object in the inventory of things that are. He is the infinite wellspring of all that is, in whom all things live and move and have their being. He may be said to be “beyond being,” if by “being” one means the totality of finite things, but also may be called “being itself,” in that he is the inexhaustible source of all reality, the absolute upon which the contingent is always utterly dependent, the unity underlying all things.

    To speak of “gods,” by contrast, is to speak only of a higher or more powerful or more splendid dimension of immanent reality. Any gods who might be out there do not transcend nature but belong to it. Their theogonies can be recounted—how they arose out of the primal night, or were born of other, more titanic progenitors, and so on—and in many cases their eventual demises foreseen. Each of them is a distinct being rather than “being itself,” and it is they who are dependent upon the universe for their existence rather than the reverse. Of such gods there may be an endless diversity, while of God there can be only one. Or, better, God is not merely one—not merely singular or unique—but is oneness as such, the sole act of being by which any finite thing exists and by which all things exist together.

    Obviously, then, it is the transcendent God in whom it is ultimately meaningful not to believe. The possibility of gods or spirits or angels or demons, and so on, is all very interesting to contemplate, but remains a question not of metaphysics but only of the taxonomy of nature (terrestrial, celestial, and chthonic). To be an atheist in the best modern sense, and so to be a truly intellectually and emotionally fulfilled naturalist in philosophy, one must genuinely succeed in not believing in God, with all the logical consequences this entails.

    And the question of God, thus understood, is one that is ineradicably present in the mystery of existence itself, or of consciousness, or of truth, goodness, and beauty. It is also the question that philosophical naturalism is supposed to have answered exhaustively in the negative, without any troubling explanatory lacunae, and that therefore any aspiring philosophical naturalist must understand in order to be an atheist in any intellectually significant way.

    Well, as I say, this should not be all that difficult to grasp. And yet any speaker at one of those atheist revivalist meetings need only trot out either of two reliable witticisms—“I believe neither in God nor in the fairies at the bottom of my garden” or “Everyone today is a disbeliever in Thor or Zeus, but we simply believe in one god less”—to elicit warmly rippling palpitations of self-congratulatory laughter from the congregation. Admittedly, one ought not judge a movement by its jokes, but neither should one be overly patient with those who delight in their own ignorance of elementary conceptual categories. I suppose, though, that the charitable course is to state the obvious as clearly as possible.

    So: Beliefs regarding fairies concern a certain kind of object that may or may not exist within the world, and such beliefs have much the same sort of intentional and rational shape as beliefs regarding the neighbors over the hill or whether there are such things as black swans. Beliefs regarding God concern the source and end of all reality, the unity and existence of every particular thing and of the totality of all things, the ground of the possibility of anything at all. Fairies and gods, if they exist, occupy something of the same conceptual space as organic cells, photons, and the force of gravity, and so the sciences might perhaps have something to say about them, if a proper medium for investigating them could be found.

    God, by contrast, is the infinite actuality that makes it possible for photons and (possibly) fairies to exist, and so can be “investigated” only, on the one hand, by acts of logical deduction and conjecture or, on the other, by contemplative or spiritual experiences. Belief or disbelief in fairies or gods could never be validated by philosophical arguments made from first principles; the existence or nonexistence of Zeus is not a matter that can be intelligibly discussed in the categories of modal logic or metaphysics, any more than the existence of tree frogs could be; if he is there at all, one must go on an expedition to find him.

    The question of God, by contrast, is one that must be pursued in terms of the absolute and the contingent, the necessary and the fortuitous, act and potency, possibility and impossibility, being and nonbeing, transcendence and immanence. Evidence for or against the existence of Thor or King Oberon would consist only in local facts, not universal truths of reason; it would be entirely empirical, episodic, psychological, personal, and hence elusive. Evidence for or against the reality of God, if it is there, pervades every moment of the experience of existence, every employment of reason, every act of consciousness, every encounter with the world around us.

    All of which is to say (to return to where I began) that it is absurd to think that one can profess atheism in any meaningful way without thereby assenting to an entire philosophy of being, however inchoate one’s sense of it may be. The philosophical naturalist’s view of reality is not one that merely fails to find some particular object within the world that the theist imagines can be descried there; it is a very particular representation of the nature of things, entailing a vast range of purely metaphysical commitments.

    Principally, it requires that one believe that the physical order, which both experience and reason say is an ensemble of ontological contingencies, can exist entirely of itself, without any absolute source of actuality. It requires also that one resign oneself to an ultimate irrationalism: For the one reality that naturalism can never logically encompass is the very existence of nature (nature being, by definition, that which already exists); it is a philosophy, therefore, surrounded, permeated, and exceeded by a truth that is always already super naturam, and yet a philosophy that one cannot seriously entertain except by scrupulously refusing to recognize this.

    It is the embrace of an infinite paradox: the universe understood as an “absolute contingency.” It may not amount to a metaphysics in the fullest sense, since strictly speaking it possesses no rational content—it is, after all, a belief that all things rest upon something like an original moment of magic—but it is certainly far more than the mere absence of faith.

    – God, Gods, and Fairies by David Bentley Hart

    >

  27. 27
    asauber says:

    Certainly if I claim to lack belief in X, then that indicates that in my assessment, the evidence I have seen in favor of X (if any) is not compelling.

    daveS,

    What makes your assessment correct or accurate or even in the ballpark?

    Your opinion could certainly be wrong, especially when there isn’t good evidence either way.

    Andrew

  28. 28
    asauber says:

    I guess you could say Atheists also have a religious belief their own opinion.

    Andrew

  29. 29
    bornagain77 says:

    Thanks Heartlander. It has been a while since I read the entire article, “God, Gods, and Fairies by David Bentley Hart”. I usually just quote the little snippet I quoted earlier. I lost sight of just how well written, and argued, Hart’s entire article was.

    Here is another article, which just appeared on my FB feed, (recommended via Richard Weikart), which I have not read yet, that looks very interesting. I plan to read it as soon as I warm up a cup of coffee. 🙂

    Among the Disbelievers
    Why atheism was central to the great evil of the 20th century
    GARY SAUL MORSON / SEPT. 17, 2018
    https://www.commentarymagazine.com/articles/among-the-disbelievers/

  30. 30
    ET says:

    daves:

    Certainly if I claim to lack belief in X, then that indicates that in my assessment, the evidence I have seen in favor of X (if any) is not compelling.

    Then why call it a belief or lack thereof?

    Why not just say that you don’t know of any compelling evidence for/ in support of X?

    I don’t say that I lack a belief in Darwinian processes to produce the diversity of life. I say that there isn’t any evidence to support the claim nor is there a way to test the claim. And then wait for anything that counters those claims. I am still waiting 😎

  31. 31
    ScuzzaMan says:

    Is assenting to or rejecting a particular religious proposition equivalent to being a member of a particular faith in your view? For example, I have an opinion on the historicity of Jesus. Does that make me a Christian or a Muslim or a Hindu or Jedi Knight or even an atheist?

    Both “there is a God” and “there is no God” are religious statements, irrespective of (A) which one is correct, and (B) which one we believe.

    That’s not hard, is it?

    The truth about Life, the Universe … Everything, really, has no necessary connection to the contents of our thoughts. The entire point of exploring the universe, of talking to other people about their experiences in it, of science, i.e. of gathering evidence, is to adjust the contents of our thoughts to more closely approximate congruence with the actual truth of things.

    But the truth itself doesn’t change, because it cannot change. Of the two, only our thoughts can change and thus it is our thoughts that should change. Necessarily, therefore, our thoughts about the truth are imperfect, incomplete, inadequate – at whatever point we survey them.

    A degree of humility thus behooves us.

  32. 32
    daveS says:

    asauber,

    daveS,

    What makes your assessment correct or accurate or even in the ballpark?

    We all do the best we can. I obviously don’t have any special access to the truth, so I err just like anyone else.

  33. 33
    daveS says:

    ET,

    Then why call it a belief or lack thereof?

    Why not just say that you don’t know of any compelling evidence for/ in support of X?

    Well, you defined atheism as a lack of belief in a deity. That describes me fairly well. I also don’t find the proposed evidence for the existence of a deity to be compelling, so both are true.

  34. 34
    ET says:

    OK, so to you a deity isn’t required. And yet you don’t have a rational/ scientific explanation for our existence.

    At best you are unable to say one way or the other, but it definitely takes a great leap of faith to accept materialistic explanations for our existence.

  35. 35
    bornagain77 says:

    As to compelling evidence for God, I would like to present daveS with a snapshot of his very own brain:

    Imagine you would be the most genius inventor of all time – 2017
    Excerpt: – The human brain (86 billion neurons) at 10^8,342 bits exceeding the bit capacity of the entire universe at 10^120 bits upon which a maximum of 10^90 bits could have been operated on in the last 14 billion years. In order to put such numbers into perspective, realize that the number of elementary particles (protons, neutron, electrons) in the physical universe is only 10^80. I have serious doubts—based on these numbers—that any input fails to be encoded in some way; but with what computer would we track all of that? position this more simply in terms of the fact that the storage capacity on just one human brain is equivalent to 10^8,419 modern computers. Its dense network of neurons apparently operates at a petaFLOPS or higher level. Yet the whole device fits in a 1-liter box and uses only about 10 watts of power
    It houses 200 billion nerve cells, which are connected to one another via hundreds of trillions of synapses. Each synapse functions like a microprocessor, and tens of thousands of them can connect a single neuron to other nerve cells. In the cerebral cortex alone, there are roughly 125 trillion synapses, which is about how many stars fill 1,500 Milky Way galaxies.
    http://reasonandscience.heaven.....f-all-time

    The Human Brain Is ‘Beyond Belief’ by Jeffrey P. Tomkins, Ph.D. * – 2017
    Excerpt: The human brain,, is an engineering marvel that evokes comments from researchers like “beyond anything they’d imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief”1 and “a world we had never imagined.”2,,,
    Perfect Optimization
    The scientists found that at multiple hierarchical levels in the whole brain, nerve cell clusters (ganglion), and even at the individual cell level, the positioning of neural units achieved a goal that human engineers strive for but find difficult to achieve—the perfect minimizing of connection costs among all the system’s components.,,,
    Vast Computational Power
    Researchers discovered that a single synapse is like a computer’s microprocessor containing both memory-storage and information-processing features.,,, Just one synapse alone can contain about 1,000 molecular-scale microprocessor units acting in a quantum computing environment. An average healthy human brain contains some 200 billion nerve cells connected to one another through hundreds of trillions of synapses. To put this in perspective, one of the researchers revealed that the study’s results showed a single human brain has more information processing units than all the computers, routers, and Internet connections on Earth.1,,,
    Phenomenal Processing Speed
    the processing speed of the brain had been greatly underrated. In a new research study, scientists found the brain is 10 times more active than previously believed.6,7,,,
    The large number of dendritic spikes also means the brain has more than 100 times the computational capabilities than was previously believed.,,,
    Petabyte-Level Memory Capacity
    Our new measurements of the brain’s memory capacity increase conservative estimates by a factor of 10 to at least a petabyte, in the same ballpark as the World Wide Web.9,,,
    Optimal Energy Efficiency
    Stanford scientist who is helping develop computer brains for robots calculated that a computer processor functioning with the computational capacity of the human brain would require at least 10 megawatts to operate properly. This is comparable to the output of a small hydroelectric power plant. As amazing as it may seem, the human brain requires only about 10 watts to function.11 ,,,
    Multidimensional Processing
    It is as if the brain reacts to a stimulus by building then razing a tower of multi-dimensional blocks, starting with rods (1D), then planks (2D), then cubes (3D), and then more complex geometries with 4D, 5D, etc. The progression of activity through the brain resembles a multi-dimensional sandcastle that materializes out of the sand and then disintegrates.13
    He also said:
    We found a world that we had never imagined. There are tens of millions of these objects even in a small speck of the brain, up through seven dimensions. In some networks, we even found structures with up to eleven dimensions.13,,,
    Biophoton Brain Communication
    Neurons contain many light-sensitive molecules such as porphyrin rings, flavinic, pyridinic rings, lipid chromophores, and aromatic amino acids. Even the mitochondria machines that produce energy inside cells contain several different light-responsive molecules called chromophores. This research suggests that light channeled by filamentous cellular structures called microtubules plays an important role in helping to coordinate activities in different regions of the brain.,,,
    https://www.icr.org/article/10186

    And please remember, unguided Darwinian processes have failed to account for even a single neuron of that ‘beyond belief’ complexity:

    “Complexity Brake” Defies Evolution – August 8, 2012
    Excerpt: Consider a neuronal synapse — the presynaptic terminal has an estimated 1000 distinct proteins. Fully analyzing their possible interactions would take about 2000 years. Or consider the task of fully characterizing the visual cortex of the mouse — about 2 million neurons. Under the extreme assumption that the neurons in these systems can all interact with each other, analyzing the various combinations will take about 10 million years…, even though it is assumed that the underlying technology speeds up by an order of magnitude each year.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....62961.html

    “Charles Darwin said (paraphrase), ‘If anyone could find anything that could not be had through a number of slight, successive, modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.’ Well that condition has been met time and time again. Basically every gene, every protein fold. There is nothing of significance that we can show that can be had in a gradualist way. It’s a mirage. None of it happens that way.
    – Doug Axe PhD. – 200 Years After Darwin – What Didn’t Darwin Know? Part 2 of 2 – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKIgNroTj54&t=340s

    It is simply insane to deny that the brain as well as the rest of our body, is a product of supreme intelligence, i.e. a product of God!

    “It is not enough to say that design is a more likely scenario to explain a world full of well-designed things. Once you allow the intellect to consider that an elaborate organism with trillions of microscopic interactive components can be an accident…you have essentially lost your mind.”
    Jay Homnick – senior editor of The American Spectator

    If the billion-trillion proteins dedicated to the singular purposeful task of keeping a person alive for precisely a lifetime and not a moment longer (Talbott) does not constitute at least an inference to ‘top down’ intelligent design, i.e. to seeing the ‘purposeful arrangement of parts’ as Dawkins put it, then all reason is lost and the atheist is drifting about in an Alice in Wonderland world of profound insanity.

  36. 36
    OldAndrew says:

    Which atheism are we talking about?

    The absence of religious beliefs is not religion. It’s like having a discussion in film class about people who have no interest in watching movies.

    On the other hand, I suppose you could talk about why some people don’t want to watch movies. Maybe they went once, saw The Last Jedi, Patch Adams, or anything directed by John Woo and decided that the entire art form was a waste.

    Along the same lines, a discussion of how corruption, hypocrisy, greed, ambition, and other assorted evils have driven many to atheism would fit in well when discussing religion.

    The other sort of atheism, belief that there is no God or gods, isn’t technically a religion by most definitions. We say it is because it asserts that religious beliefs are false. It invades the turf. But can any religion have only one belief? I can’t think of any examples.

    Darwinism is a religion, complete with sacred texts, faith in miracles, schisms, and a competing, incoherent set of incomplete creation myths.

    I’m not a Darwinist myself, but if I had to choose a religion to leave my kid alone with for a few hours they wouldn’t be my last choice.

  37. 37
    ScuzzaMan says:

    The absence of religious beliefs is not religion

    Maybe there are different definitions of religious beliefs at work here.

    I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have any religious beliefs.

    I do know some people with a religious belief that they don’t have any religious beliefs …

  38. 38
    daveS says:

    This very broad definition of “religious” (and its variants) does seem odd to me.

    For example, let’s say I reject the claim that Muhammad is the messenger of God. That’s a “religious belief” in the sense that it’s a belief about a religious issue. But does having that particular belief make me religious? Not in my book. I use the word religious to describe someone who subscribes to a religion. That is, they believe that some religion X is true. And I think it’s pretty clear that’s how most people use the word “religious”.

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