Atheism Intelligent Design

At BigThink: Atheism not as rational as you think?

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Something must be changing if points like this are being made at outfits like BigThink:

Most people who have ever lived believe in some sort of god; they are as certain of their gods as of their breath. But not a single organism outside our immediate evolutionary lineage has ever contemplated the existence of a god. Think about that for a moment: as far as we know, every single sentient being in the universe that has ever believed in a god is a member of our odd little species, and almost every member of our species has believed in a god. To scientists interested in evolution and human nature, religion is a puzzle that screams to be solved.

On closer inspection, religion is not an evolutionary puzzle so much as two evolutionary puzzles. First is the puzzle of faith: the puzzle of how Homo sapiens — and Homo sapiens alone — came to be a religious species. Second, there is the puzzle of atheism: how disbelief in gods can exist within an otherwise religious species. Will Gervais, “Atheism is not as rare or as rational as you think” at BigThink (April 15, 2022)

Hmmm. Can we start with: Is there any reason to believe that a cat, for example, can “believe in a god”? Creationism makes more sense all the time. If we are talking about human beings.

40 Replies to “At BigThink: Atheism not as rational as you think?

  1. 1
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Can we start with: Is there any reason to believe that a cat, for example, can “believe in a god”?

    With the idea that faith evolved by mutations, then they should claim that a cat could eventually believe in a god. But Mr. Gervais, fortunately, seems to realize that is absurd.

    Creationism makes more sense all the time. If we are talking about human beings.

    Yes. Our nearest supposed ancestor has nothing like this, and as the article says – neither do any other biological entities except for humans.

    and almost every member of our species has believed in a god.

    It’s good to see him admit that. It’s a truth that his atheist buddies have tried to deny for a long time.

    To scientists interested in evolution and human nature, religion is a puzzle that screams to be solved.

    He should realize that he’s screaming because the method they’ve used (Darwinism) to try to solve everything just does not work.

  2. 2
    Seversky says:

    Silver Asiatic/1

    With the idea that faith evolved by mutations, then they should claim that a cat could eventually believe in a god. But Mr. Gervais, fortunately, seems to realize that is absurd.

    Exactly. Cats don’t believe in a god, they know that they are gods and require us to worship them.

  3. 3
    jerry says:

    Bill Mahr was taken aback that the Babylon Bee is a Christian site and a top parody site. He mentioned that Christianity itself was a parody.

    I thought that whatever Bill Mahr believes it is less coherent than Christianity. I’m sure he believes that he is well informed. But the irony is, he is extremely uninformed.

    Atheism is an incoherent belief system but one that believers think is the ultimate in rationality. I mentioned several months back that commenters from The NY Times were clueless on why they are atheist. Not a coherent reason in the bunch of them. Of course how could they be coherent when there isn’t any basis for atheism.

  4. 4
    Seversky says:

    Atheism is the rational alternative position to the incoherent and unsubstantiated claims of religions, which is why it will never supplant them while human beings are as they are.

  5. 5
    ET says:

    Atheists don’t have a scientific explanation for our existence. That is the opposite of rational.

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, atheism has always faced this challenge, since the days of Plato:

    Ath[enian Stranger, in The Laws, Bk X 2,360 ya]. . . .[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that fire and water, and earth and air [i.e the classical “material” elements of the cosmos — the natural order], all exist by nature and chance, and none of them by art . . . [such that] all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only [ –> that is, evolutionary materialism is ancient and would trace all things to blind chance and mechanical necessity; observe, too, the trichotomy: “nature” (here, mechanical, blind necessity), “chance” (similar to a tossed fair die), ART (the action of a mind, i.e. intelligently directed configuration)] . . . .

    [Thus, they hold] that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.-

    [ –> Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT, leading to an effectively arbitrary foundation only for morality, ethics, so too justice, law and government: accident of personal preference, the ebbs and flows of power politics, accidents of history and and the shifting sands of manipulated community opinion driven by “winds and waves of doctrine and the cunning craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming . . . ” cf a video on Plato’s parable of the cave; from the perspective of pondering who set up the manipulative shadow-shows, why.]

    These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might,

    [ –> Evolutionary materialism — having no IS that can properly ground OUGHT — leads to the promotion of amorality on which the only basis for “OUGHT” is seen to be might (and manipulation: might in “spin”), opening the door to cynicism, hyperskepticism and nihilism . . . ]

    and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [ –> Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality “naturally” leads to continual contentions and power struggles influenced by that amorality at the hands of ruthless power hungry nihilistic agendas], these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is,to live in real dominion over others [ –> such amoral and/or nihilistic factions, if they gain power, “naturally” tend towards ruthless abuse and arbitrariness . . . they have not learned the habits nor accepted the principles of mutual respect, justice, fairness and keeping the civil peace of justice, so they will want to deceive, manipulate and crush — as the consistent history of radical revolutions over the past 250 years so plainly shows again and again], and not in legal subjection to them [–> nihilistic will to power not the spirit of justice and lawfulness].

    Just for starters.

    After that, address that God is a serious candidate necessary being, and that such are either impossible like a euclidean square circle or actual. Your good reason why God is impossible of being is ______? Or, for disregarding serious candidacy is ______?

    KF

  7. 7
    es58 says:

    Sev : Atheism is the rational alternative position to the incoherent and unsubstantiated claims of religions
    So a deist is an atheist in your book?

  8. 8
    Fred Hickson says:

    There’s certainly a huge variety of religions to choose from. Though “choose” is perhaps not quite word. Which faith someone adopts largely corresponds with the ethnicity, geography, culture that you are raised in.

  9. 9
    Fred Hickson says:

    Neanderthals? Enigmatic remains found associated with burials suggest a reverence for their dead at least.

  10. 10
    kairosfocus says:

    FH, on a fair body of evidence, so does the atheistical, or ideological view. KF

    PS, for example, I come from a generally PNP family but like my father I am strongly non partisan, and can sympathise with the designated whipping boy party’s members, JLP. Though, I am prone to say pain-p and jail-p. (The bite in the joke comes from history.)

  11. 11
    William J Murray says:

    My experience of both atheists and theists is that it is most often either (1) a programmed-since-youth perspective, or (2) a psychological reaction to information, an event or set of events. I haven’t found people on either side to have come to their position, generally speaking, due to any critical thought. In most cases, rational thought is just used to justify the conclusion one has already come to via 1 or 2 above, and that conclusion is usually immune to any and all criticism whether logical, evidential or rhetorical.

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    WJM, see Lakatos on scientific research programmes and auxiliary hypotheses as protective armour belts. This is an issue in science and it is why new paradigms may advance one funeral at a time. KF

  13. 13
    Viola Lee says:

    WJM writes, “My experience of both atheists and theists is that it is most often either (1) a programmed-since-youth perspective, or (2) a psychological reaction to information, an event or set of events. I haven’t found people on either side to have come to their position, generally speaking, due to any critical thought.”

    Really? I have.

  14. 14
    JHolo says:

    VL: Really? I have.

    Same here.

  15. 15
    chuckdarwin says:

    WJM/11
    Great points, especially regarding motivated reasoning and entrenched ideologies. Ever notice how many Christian-atheist “debates” involving luminaries on both sides start with the caveat “I don’t expect that tonight’s debate will change any minds….?” Rather pointless, except as a vehicle to sell tickets and books. I also think that there are many people who are “functional” agnostics/atheists that go through the motions every Sunday but are more or less checked out on religion. It is, as you say, like a reflex. It was something I noticed during Mass that I was forced to go to as a kid–people responding by rote, their eyes glazed over, looking at their watches, yawning, etc. And then, of course, there is the cynical money machine that drives religion–but that is a story unto itself.

    Bertrand Russell once said that “most people would rather die than think.” Our love affair with “religion” in the US illustrates that observation in spades.

  16. 16
    asauber says:

    “the cynical money machine that drives religion”

    CD,

    Drives a lot of other stuff too. It would be interesting for you to list some of these other areas that are driven by making money, and lots of it. You know, just for balance.

    Andrew

  17. 17
    jerry says:

    most people would rather die than think

    Does this describe the commenter perfectly?

  18. 18
    Fasteddious says:

    I have a friend who says that, regarding the question of religion, he has adopted the “null hypothesis”; he will assume there is no God until the evidence points otherwise. As a result, he claims to be an atheist. However, he then proceeds to ignore or overlook all the evidence presented to him. That sounds like certain people who post opinions at this site.

  19. 19
    asauber says:

    But I agree that people generally (or a large segment, I haven’t done a scientific study) refuse to examine why they believe what they believe and own it. This requires a little philosophic effort, to examine seriously beliefs, and that seems to scare people away. But I see that there has been a long-standing and deliberate effort educationally and culturally to alienate people from thinking about this stuff. So, there’s that.

    Andrew

  20. 20
    JHolo says:

    The vast majority of people feel the need to socialize and to “fit in”. Places of worship provide this. As do pubs. But, given the modern attendance at most pubs and churches, I think pubs are winning.

  21. 21
    jerry says:

    The vast majority of people feel the need to socialize and to “fit in”.

    True.

    But religion has a rational basis while atheism doesn’t. What is not rational, is that all religions can justify their particular basis. So some or many particular religions are not rational even though religion itself is rational. That does not mean that one/more cannot be rational.

    Maybe the issue is that most beliefs are emotionally based and not rationally based. That seems to be the case here for many beliefs on both sides of the ID argument.

  22. 22
    jerry says:

    Here is the NY Times discussion on atheism from last August

    One of the interesting things about the NY Times article is how shallow are their readers or at least those who comment and are then highly rated.

    The top rated comment rants on about conservatives not believing in science and Douthat writes an opinion on religion. Received 1850+ recommendations.

    The next highest rated one is someone bringing up the God of the Gaps argument. Received 1670+ recommendations.

    The next highest rated one is someone who says there is no evidence or at least Douthat provided none and said God does not provide any explanatory power. Received 1475+ recommendations.

    The next was just sarcastic. Received 1325+ recommendations.

    So these are what the NY Times readers rate as the best. It says more about who reads the NY Times. None of them. could justify their atheism. It wasn’t the point of their comment to justify atheism but the shallowness of the replies indicts the readers.

    The sad thing is they all probably believe the science supports them. But few mention evolution. For example only a couple mention Darwin as support for their beliefs. One actually said that antibiotics work and this proves Darwin.

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/jerry-coyne-vs-ross-douthat-on-science-based-belief-in-god/

  23. 23
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    Chuckdarwin
    Atheism is the rational alternative position to the incoherent and unsubstantiated claims of religions,

    Atheists are not very wise(even they have 3 phDs ,there is a dark side of intelligence that is obvious for others ) and very hateful persons. Bible says that they are insane. We saw what happened when atheists had power: millions died. You are not special, if happens to be a powerful person ,many gonna die.

    1.Atheistic worldview cannot account for the laws of logic. Science is based on logic so how in the world would atheists trust in science if their worldview can’t explain logic that is not material ? If matter is all there is then logic don’t exist.Neither science ! :)))
    2.Atheists are less open-minded.
    3.Atheist worldview cannot explain consciousness(morality) but somehow they play the role of moral judges that teach morality to theists.
    4.Naturalism is incompatible with reason. Why they use reason to deny reason? Nobody knows.
    https://www.conservapedia.com/Atheism_and_irrationality

    WLC destroying atheists : 😆
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiTre__QG9k

  24. 24
    chuckdarwin says:

    Asauber/16
    There’s a great lyric in one of U2’s songs: “The God I believe in isn’t short of cash, mister….”
    Churches (overwhelmingly Christian) in the US rake in billions a year tax free. It is a scandal of outrageous magnitude….

  25. 25
    asauber says:

    CD,

    Ever heard of pre-tax profits, tax breaks and subsidies?

    Andrew

  26. 26
    JHolo says:

    Most churches do very important charity work and, as such, I don’t begrudge them their tax free status. But, given their tax free status, they shouldn’t be allowed to actively lobby government.

  27. 27
    Silver Asiatic says:

    The author (an atheist) is arguing that his fellow atheists should have a greater appreciation for religion since it is an evolved feature of human life and therefore must have some value.

    Atheist governments over the past 100 years or so have tried their best to wipe out religion.

  28. 28
    asauber says:

    CD,

    Some of my fave U2 lyrics:

    “Gloria in te domine
    Gloria exultate
    Oh Lord, if I had anything
    Anything at all, I’d give it to you
    I’d give it to you

    Gloria gloria in excelsis deo
    Gloria Gloria”

    Andrew

  29. 29
    kairosfocus says:

    JH,

    Do you realise what you just implied?

    Most churches do very important charity work and, as such, I don’t begrudge them their tax free status. But, given their tax free status, they shouldn’t be allowed to actively lobby government.

    Contrast, US Const, 1st Amendment (and guess why it is said, the power to tax is the power to destroy . . . let’s not go into other tax free institutions for the moment):

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    Now, just a little while ago, I commented to Sev:

    2] There was to be no federal established church of the USA, establishment was reserved to the local units, states, under republican circumstances [so, it was not the church of the local prince but the church, if any of the local state . . . nine then having established churches]

    3] The federal state (and so the local states) were not to prohibit or hinder freikirke, dissenters and by extension the individual

    4] in that context . . . note, root issue! . . . classic freedoms and rights are to be respected; speech [so, conscience], the press, peaceful assembly, petition for redress of grievance. Indeed, this actually anticipates the step by step stages of a campaign to issue a petition of remonstrance!

    [–> That starts, speaking up and speaking out, then moves to published opinion and promotion, then actual solemn assembly, then issuing of a bill of remonstrances, petitioning for redress of grievances. Then, think about the case of the Amish farmer literally interrupted while ploughing and having his plough animals seized by federal agents as he, obedient to his religious rules walked away in silence. The animals were then sold to pay a claimed tax debt and extra funds were extracted under pretext of expenses and a pittance was then given to a man robbed of his livelihood under threat of government guns. There was, thank God, an outcry over this and the feds backed off, back in the early 60’s.]

    5] Congress was debarred from making law on the subject, thus by extension courts acting under this senior arm of government (and yes, why do you think that for extraordinary circumstances Presidents were subject to impeachment . . . which is currently itself being twisted into pretzels).

    6] So, any wall metaphor relates to the senior arm of federal Govt and so be extension the others, are walled out of a state matter, establishment; instead it is to support freedom . . . oh, the irony . . . including religious freedom, and rests on the natural law principles of the 1776 DoI, which is itself in the context of the Congressional call to prayer May 17, 1776 which is explicitly a call to Christian penitence, renewal and revival.

    7] Do I need to further quote said documents?

    8] Or, note that a natural law argument, once well founded — and the DoI more than meets that — is actually an expression of universally binding law as it expresses and extends the first duties of reason to particular matters? (And yes, nonsense that the DoI is not a legal document with legislative effect, spectacularly fails. This actually immediately disqualifies those making or endorsing such claims. FYI the Constitution of Sept 17, 1787 was second effort to deliver on the principles of the DoI, the charter of the American Republic and more broadly of modern constitutional, representative democracy.)

    See how in your obvious animosity, you have completely missed the point of freedom?

    Please, think again.

    KF

  30. 30
    JHolo says:

    KF quoting the 1st amendment: the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    Preventing an organization from lobbying government is not preventing people from doing so.

  31. 31
    kairosfocus says:

    JH, we all know that that is blatantly false, just from why say trade unions were formed, were encouraged and were resisted. There is a world of difference between isolated individuals and organised representation. That’s why the Japanese have a saying, the nail that sticks up gets hammered in, and it is why Franklin IIRC said we — the colonial, Continental Congress — had better hang together or we shall hang separately. And indeed, normally, petitions come from groups, hence, peaceful assembly. Telling. KF

  32. 32
    JHolo says:

    KF@31, I have no idea what you are responding to but it certainly isn’t what I have written. Churches, as do all charitable organizations, already have restrictions on lobbying.

    Maybe you are equating advocacy, which anyone and any organization are free to do, and lobbying.

  33. 33
    kairosfocus says:

    JH, your problem is the gap between natural law and civil laws or practices in need of reformation. The very petitionary letter that Jefferson replied to was by the Danbury Baptists, PLURAL. There are always due rules and limitations on petition, but there is a line where what is being exerted is — wait for it — CENSORSHIP tantamount to unjust suppression of liberty of collective or community or individual action. Why am I not surprised that censorship is coming up here? Perhaps, because it has been a rising problem. There is the path of remonstrance and reformation as is highlighted in the US DoI, para 2, but there are those who show design by a long train of abuses and usurpations. The general election, in fact, is the ultimate form of peaceable assembly to audit and replace failed government unresponsive to mere remonstrance. But now, even that is under obvious threat . . . and attempts to sweep under the carpet some very troubling issues and to demonise or even play reichstag fire agit prop and lawfare games are more than enough answer to those enabling what has been going on . . .and we face the issue that we may be going back to where the colonists were once the Olive Branch petition — note the name — had been sidelined. And yes, that and much more are involved here. With all due respect, fair comment: you have come down on the side of censorship of the despised, demonised other, and you need to do some serious rethinking. KF

  34. 34
    chuckdarwin says:

    LCD/23
    Ah, William Lane Craig, the great “slayer of atheists,” arguing yet one more time that we can’t “logically” rule out the existence of witches, ghosts, goblins and spooks……. Boo!

  35. 35
    kairosfocus says:

    CD, first, there are witches, they came out of the closet long since. As for supernatural entities and especially G-O-D [your strawman by ridicule fails] there is more evidence than you will credit. However, there is a logic of being point you need to face. God is a serious candidate necessary being, and such are either impossible of being (as a euclidean plane square circle is) or it is actual. Your cogent reason why God is impossible of being is _______. Or, that he is in fact not a serious candidate is ______. KF

  36. 36
    jerry says:

    When someone disputes one part of several things in a comment is that a tacit admission that the others are probably valid?

  37. 37
    kairosfocus says:

    Jerry, not necessarily, KF

  38. 38
    chuckdarwin says:

    KF/35
    Fake witches and witch wannabes don’t count….

  39. 39
    kairosfocus says:

    CD, there are declared witches aplenty. They are even organised now. A religion or a few. No, not Harry Potter or Wendy. And still, you need to fill in a couple of blanks. KF

  40. 40

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