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Film night with Philip Cunningham: Atheists’ reasons for not believing in God are not scientific, and more…

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He offers assorted notes…

In a compiled video of 50 elite scientists, no scientific evidence was ever presented for atheism but their arguments were philosophical and theological, i.e. ‘their typical arguments are rather common and shallow – god of the gaps and the existence of evil.’

Elite Scientists Don’t Have Elite Reasons for Being Atheists:

(November 8, 2016) Excerpt: Dr. Jonathan Pararejasingham has compiled a video of elite scientists and scholars to make the connection between atheism and science. Unfortunately for Pararejasingham, once you get past the self-identification of these scholars as non-believers, there is simply very little there to justify the belief in atheism….

What I found was 50 elite scientists expressing their personal opinions, but none had some powerful argument or evidence to justify their opinions. In fact, most did not even cite a reason for thinking atheism was true….

The few that did try to justify their atheism commonly appealed to God of the Gaps arguments (there is no need for God, therefore God does not exist) and the Argument from Evil (our bad world could not have come from an All Loving, All Powerful God). In other words, it is just as I thought it would be. Yes, most elite scientists and scholars are atheists. But their reasons for being atheists and agnostics are varied and often personal. And their typical arguments are rather common and shallow – god of the gaps and the existence of evil. It would seem clear that their expertise and elite status is simply not a causal factor behind their atheism.

Finally, it is also clear the militant atheism of Dawkins is a distinct minority view among these scholars.

Patchy Ausstechformen See also Stephen Meyer on the “God of the Gaps”:

<em>Teapot</em> Cobalt Blue

Ironically, although Theists are often accused of making ‘God of the Gaps’ style arguments, the fact of the matter is that, as science has progressed, it is the Atheist himself who has had to retreat further and further into ‘Materialism/Naturalism of Gaps’ style arguments. i.e. into “Science will figure a materialistic answer out to that mystery some day” style argument.

To clearly illustrate the ‘materialism of the gaps’ style argument that the materialistic/atheistic philosophy makes, the materialistic and Theistic philosophy make, and have made, several contradictory predictions about what type of scientific evidence we will find.
These contradictory predictions, and the evidence we have found by modern science, can be tested against one another to see if either materialism or Theism is true. This following video goes over the major predictions of each philosophy compared to the other:

Supporting documents.

As you can see from the preceding video, when we remove the artificial imposition of the materialistic philosophy (methodological naturalism), from the scientific method, and look carefully at the predictions of both the materialistic philosophy and the Theistic philosophy, side by side, we find the scientific method is, contrary to what popular media portrays, very good at pointing us in the direction of Theism as the true explanation.

Tovolo Glide A Scoop - For Homemade <em>Ice</em> <em>Cream</em>

As to the argument from evil, that argument is self refuting. Little do most atheists realize that the existence of evil itself necessitates the existence of Good. i.e. you cannot disprove God by pointing to evil, because for evil to even exist in reality then good must exist in the first place. i.e. Evil is merely a departure from the way things ‘ought’ to be and thus evil cannot exist independently without an objectively good moral standard to judge by.

All an atheist does when he points to evil in this world is to point out the fact that this world is not perfectly good. Yet Christians never claimed that this world was perfectly good. i.e. by pointing to evil (the absence of good), the atheist actually ends up affirming the foundational Christian belief that we currently live in a fallen world. i.e. The argument from evil is actually an argument FOR Christianity not an argument against it!

If Good and Evil Exist, God Exists: Peter Kreeft – Prager University (vid):

If there is a God, why is there so much evil? How could any God that cares about right and wrong allow so much bad to happen? And if there is no God, who then determines what is right and what is wrong? The answers to these questions, as Boston College philosopher Peter Kreeft explains, go to the heart of ethics, morality and how we know what it means to be a decent person.

Note: His comments on evolution as a source of morality are interesting:

And now…

18 Replies to “Film night with Philip Cunningham: Atheists’ reasons for not believing in God are not scientific, and more…

  1. 1
    tribune7 says:

    Atheism is not a threat to God, but a threat to reason.

  2. 2
    critical rationalist says:

    I’m a non-theist because God and the “supernatural” is a bad explanation, because the entire idea of non-material is easily varied. This is not limited to the supernatural as there are bad explanations that have nothing to do with theism. So, claims of bias are simply false.

    For example, we could just as easily suggest that God allows good things happen because he is perfectly evil. He must allow use to experience good things because, otherwise, we wouldn’t know what we were missing when he tortures us all for eternity. That equally explains the same experiences, yet implies something completely different is happening, in reality. And it equally conforms to the theistic idea that for there to be Good, there must be Evil.

    Of course, I do not have to actually believe in Evil or Good (with capital letters) to criticize theism. Pointing that out is an attempt to take theism seriously, for the purpose of criticism.

    I’ll ask again, if God is not well adapted to serve a purpose, and aspects of human beings are not well adapted to serve a purpose, either, then why is God so much more effective at those purposes as we are? Why are we not equally capable because we both supposedly have non-material aspects?

    Or to rephrase, if we have supposedly have non-material aspects that are free of natural laws, then what constrains those non-material aspects? Why cant we create conscious beings or universes like God?

    All questions finally come down to “that’s just not what God must have wanted”, which is explanation by divine will.

    If we live in a bubble of explicably that exists in a sea of inexplicability, there can be no better explanation for anything in that sea other than “Zeus rules” there. However, since this bubble supposedly depends on this sea of inexplicably, then there can be no better explanation for anything inside it than “Zeus rules” here”, as well. In other words, things would only appear explicable in this bubble if we avoid specific questions.

    The question I just asked above is one of those questions. No one will have a better explanation than what is effectively “Zeus rules” there.

  3. 3
    JSmith says:

    CR No one will have a better explanation than what is effectively “Zeus rules” there.
    I was always partial to Poseidon myself.

  4. 4
    vividbleau says:

    Cr

    “And it equally conforms to the theistic idea that for there to be Good, there must be Evil.”

    Ahh no that is not the theist position, at least not the Christian theist.

    Merry Christmas

    Vivid

  5. 5

    A/mat philosophy has never really been about science, certainly not empirical science. It is a faith-based worldview complete with its own priestly-class dogmas. It is a religion.

    Merry Christmas!

  6. 6
    Barry Arrington says:

    CR,

    Are you going to provide UB an example of a “quantum storage medium”?

    Coward.

  7. 7
    mike1962 says:

    Critical Rationalist: we could just as easily suggest that God allows good things happen because he is perfectly evil. He must allow use to experience good things because, otherwise, we wouldn’t know what we were missing when he tortures us all for eternity.

    This is assymetrical to the Good God kind of theism since what is implied with your Bad God scenario is that torturing creatures give the Bad God pleasure. But pleasure is a Good Thing, not an Evil Thing. A perfectly Bad God would not have pleasure within its nature, to experience within itself, or to temporarily impart to its creatures. Thus, the Bad God concept is inferior out of the gate.

    Now, I think the perfectly Good God view has problems as well, but not as fundamental as the perfectly Bad God. The perfectly Bad Good is incoherent right at the root.

  8. 8
    J-Mac says:

    “..an example of a “quantum storage medium…”

    What’s this all about?

  9. 9
    tribune7 says:

    CR– I’m a non-theist because God and the “supernatural” is a bad explanation, because the entire idea of non-material is easily varied.–

    If the entire idea of non-material is easily varied then the entire idea of material is equally easily varied.

    Accepting God is accepting that there is a power that is not measurable by man and the cause of which can never be understood by man.

    To hold that man is capable of understanding everything is a statement of faith not grounded in reason.

  10. 10
    Seversky says:

    In a compiled video of 50 elite scientists, no scientific evidence was ever presented for atheism but their arguments were philosophical and theological, i.e. ‘their typical arguments are rather common and shallow – god of the gaps and the existence of evil.’

    BA77 seems to have an issue with the burden of proof. It’s quite simple. If someone states a claim, such as there is a god who is the origin of all that exists, then it is for them to provide arguments and evidence to support that claim, if and only if they are concerned about persuading an audience that their claim has merit. An atheist or agnostic who says that they don’t believe in such a god because they have not found a good reason for such a belief is not asserting a claim, they are simply stating a lack of belief.

    In other words, it is not for the atheist to disprove the existence of whatever god is being claimed, it is for the theist to provide reasons for believing as they do.

  11. 11
    rvb8 says:

    I’m With CR, and Seversky,

    and would have to say these scientists, or me, or any other atheist is not trying to disprove God, or find evidence for His/Her/Its, non-existance, that would be a waste of time.

    It is most simply put that with the physical evidence to hand, none, that atheists can not disprove God.

    However, and equally, if not more important, with the physical evidence to hand, none, theists can not prove God.

    And BTW, the God of the Gaps argument is a superb and irrefutable argument (though not proof), against God. How so? Well from attributing storms, earthquakes, lightening, and natural disasters to God in the past, we now have natural answers to these phenomena. Therefore God’s place in our system of ‘knowing’, shrinks; “Gaps”, are filled, and are continuing to be filled at a steady, and pleasing rate.

    From the early 1970s when the religious crowed, ‘show us these other planets, God made one earth, one planet!”

    To today, when we are swimming in a quickly growing mass of planets. Now of course they crow, “Show us a planet suitable for life, that has water!”

    The answer to this shallow vision is of course, ‘Be patient, science won’t stop because of a few myopic religious complainers.’

  12. 12
    Belfast says:

    I am wondering if anyone has watched the videos of the elite thinkers. There are more agnostics than atheists and one of them smugly told us that he had worked it out when he was 13 years old !
    The video is truly no argument for atheism, what it does is present to cr and the others of the one mind the opportunity to say once again that there is no God , because it is absurd in their minds
    The cr group would do everyone a favour if they would just avoid all the philosophical arguments and concentrate on the scientific evidence presented in the cell for example, I would like their opinions on what came first, DNA (I prefer DNA but I’ll settle for RNA and its variants) or the cell it is lodged in, or whether these components arose simultaneously.
    Frankly I don’t care if the great thinkers find philosophical reasons for the existence of God, I want them to explain the probality that what we see are simply cascading accidents.

    arose from cascading accidents and give some evidence based on the mathematical rules of probability

  13. 13
    critical rationalist says:

    @Barry

    From the thread….

    UB: CR, when you are able to acknowledge that storing information in a “quantum storage medium” is a semiotic system, we can continue this conversation.

    CR: You mean like I’m able to acknowledging rockets can be launched into space by pretending Newton’s laws are true, in reality?

    Is that a problem for general relativity, which suggest that something completely different is happening there in reality?

    I can also acknowledge that you can plant a small garden pretending the flat earth theory is true. For the most part, you’ll be just fine, even though it suggests something completely different is happening there, in reality, as well. That is, until you tried to take it seriously, in that we do not need to worry about, say, the impact of astroids, etc.

    Can we continue now?

    Again, you haven’t actually presented a comprehensive physical theory of information. That is unless you think information just magically appeared in organisms, And you ignore the fact that recipe (information) must be copied when a cell self-replicates, per Von Neumann. And there is the interoperability principle that defines what tasks must be possible to for symbols to exist.

    To be clear, that entails a theory of information that is more fundamental that symbols. This is why you’re left with merely a claim of irreducible complexity, with all of it’s flaws. And that claim fails because knowledge in constructor theory is a new mode of explanation that scales to include a unification of information in both classical and quantum systems. And it does not need a knowing subject. What tasks are possible, what tasks are impossible and why is knowledge.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FarXx3IVgws

    This allows us to explain the kinds of transformations necessary for cells to replicate in various levels of fidelity. And even exactly describe transformations in current day cells as a network of tasks with subtasks that eventually reach generic transformations that are not replication specific. We don’t need to bring symbols into the mix at this level. Nor do we require knowing subjects, intention, anthropomorphic meaning, etc.

    (I’m baffled as to why you think someone presenting a theory of information that (1) explains what is necessary for symbols to exist and (2) does so across both classical and quantum systems would somehow think symbols are impossible in quantum systems. I mean, if you actually thought this, it’s right there in the theory itself. And it would be trivial to point how that assumption would conflict with the theory I was presenting. )

    The translation system doesn’t just make proteins. Specific aspects of it aspects of it It consist of information It must be copyable. And if it is copiable, that means there must be specific physical tasks that are necessary for information to be passible at all.

    The funny thing is, UB is referring to segmenting physical systems into a Semiotic triad (which virtually no one think leads to the conclusion of ID, anyway)

    I’m pointing out there is a more fundamental way to segment physical systems into a generic constructor, substrate and input/outputs. Someone could just as well make the claim that any such segmentation repents an irreducible complex system as well. In fact, knowledge is information that is well adapted to play a causal role in being retained when embedded in a storage medium. Constructor theory is about knowledge.

    Yet, when presented with this more fundamental mode of explanation, UB seems to have some affinity for continuing to segment the translation system, in particular, into a Semiotic triad that he has yet to argue for.

    Knowledge is a constructor because it can play that role again and again due to being retained when copied. The causal role it plays is as being a constructor.

    2.15 Knowledge
    The most important kind of abstract constructor is knowledge. Knowledge is information which, once it is physically instantiated in a suitable environment, tends to cause itself to remain so: it survives criticism, testing, random noise, and error- correction. (Here I am adopting Popper’s (1972) conception of knowledge, in which there need be no knowing subject.) For example, the knowledge encoded in an organism’s DNA consists of abstract genes that cause the environment to transform raw materials into another instance of the organism, and thereby to keep those abstract genes, and not mutations or other variants of them, physically instantiated, despite the mutation and natural selection that keep happening. Similarly, the ideas constituting the abstract constructor for preserving the ship of Theseus would have had to include not only some relatively arbitrary information about the historical shape of the ship, but also knowledge of how to cause Athenians to preserve those ideas themselves through the generations, and to reject rival ideas.

    Now consider again the set of all physically possible transformations. For almost every such transformation, the story of how it could happen is the story of how knowledge might be created and applied to cause it. Part of that story is, in almost all cases, the story of how people (intelligent beings) would create that knowledge, and of why they would retain the proposal to apply it in that way while rejecting or amending rival proposals (so a significant determinant is moral knowledge). Hence, from the constructor-theoretic perspective, physics is almost entirely the theory of the effects that knowledge (abstract constructors) can have on the physical world, via people. But again, the prevailing conception conceals this.

    So, where did that knowledge come from in the case of the genome? That’s where Neo-darwnisism comes in. The constructor theory of life supplements it. That knowledge it is genuinely created over time, rather than having always existed at the outset or having spontaneously appeared in organisms when they were created, etc.

    We can transition from the environment as constructor of a primitive cell to the genome as a constructor, and the gradation between them. This is natural in constructor theory because the cell can be described as a network of replication specific tasks with subtasks and subtasks that eventually end up in non-replication specific tasks.

  14. 14
    critical rationalist says:

    @Barry

    You mean how you provided an explanation as to how you managed to infallibly identify a source of moral values and infallibly interpreted that source?

    Oh, that’s right. You still haven’t, after asking at least half a dozen times.

    Coward?

  15. 15
    bb says:

    @Seversky

    BA77 seems to have an issue with the burden of proof. It’s quite simple. If someone states a claim, such as there is a god who is the origin of all that exists, then it is for them to provide arguments and evidence to support that claim, if and only if they are concerned about persuading an audience that their claim has merit.

    This was already dealt with by Stephen Meyer in the video above. There is overwhelming evidence that what we observe is created, even when we don’t see the creator. To deny it is delusion:

    a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary

    Yours is a worldview based on an irrational tantrum:

    It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.

    -Thomas Nagel, Evolutionary Naturalism and the Fear of Religion

    That isn’t a mind in search of evidence. But one willing to dismiss what he sees with his own eyes.

    Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose

    -Richard Dawkins, “The Blind Watchmaker”

  16. 16
    vividbleau says:

    Sev RE 10

    “An atheist or agnostic who says that they don’t believe in such a god because they have not found a good reason for such a belief….”

    For you what would a good reason be for such a belief?

    Vivid

  17. 17
    rvb8 says:

    vividbleau @16,

    that’s easy, and has been stated by me and several others here before.

    A good reason to believe in God would be if He got back into the business of his old style miracles.

    Not the half arsed faith healing nonsense, or the feeling of peace silliness, or the absurd speaking in tongues, shakings, rattlings, and convulsions.

    I mean the floods, the Babels, the water walkings, partings of seas, and such.

    What’s on offer from all religions these days can be written off as mass hysteria, group think, hearsay, and just plain false witnessing.

    Bring back them ol’style miracles.

  18. 18
    asauber says:

    rvb8,

    If you had a scientific mind, you would realize that any little miracle is still a miracle. No size fallacy or over-dramatization needed.

    Andrew

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