The trouble with atheists…

Since organised religion of all shades is the favourite kicking boy of some of our regular commenters, I thought a visit to this thread on Comment is Free might give them something meatier to get stuck into than blaming the Troubles on in belief in God. Theo Hobson reckons that Atheism is both pretentious and cowardly.

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  • Pete Baker

    Mick

    It’s a dishonest argument from the supernaturalist Theo that has already been taken apart thoroughly on the CiF site.

    Notably in the way he deliberately muddles his interpretation of atheism [no capitalisation required] in order to rebut that same interpretation.

    As he says in his opening lines “Be careful what you wish for”. Intelligent people started tackling his pet subject.. and he really didn’t like what they had to say.

    Get over it, Theo.

    And note that at an early point in the comments he admits, or rather boasts, that the CiF editors removed a more blatant ad hominem comment from his text.

    By the way, my own opposition to supernatural beliefs has nothing to do with Northern Ireland, the Troubles, or whether those who hold them are members of an organised group.

    *Bloody supernaturalists*

  • Fraggle

    Slightly off-topic but after reading a one of those Ian Paisley/gay threads, I’m struck by how odd it is that supernaturalists are obsessed with what they term an unnatural act.

  • V Closed Mind

    Kildare or Laois, it does not matter!

    Nobody is Athier than ME!

  • TAFKABO

    It was deeply satisfying to me, as an evangelical atheist, to see his argument torn to pieces.

  • The Penguin

    Struck by how blind Hobson seems to the fact that he is indulging in the exact type of raging, personalised rant that he accuses so many others of.
    For most atheists it’s a case of “Don’t call me unless you have proof”.

  • Maggot

    Did you say “Thank God” TAFKABO ? 😉

  • jigglybits

    Coming from a family where atheism was always regarded as rather a weak alternative (since it assumes there’s a god whose existence can be challenged), I reckon it’s time for a resurgence of pantheism where we can all be gods whenever we want to be and in whatever guise we choose. As the great Scots comic Arnold Brown regularly punctuates his performances, ‘And why not?’

  • Pounder

    Considering the crap I’ve had to put up from a my stauncly baptist family for chosing to be an athiest I really doubt my decision was cowardly or pretentious.

    Unlike the majority of Christians, and I’l looking at Sam Hanna here, I’ve read the bible very carefully and realised that it wasn’t the way for me. I can’t follow something blindly because some windbag with a dog collar tells me thats the way it is.

    I have friends who are christian, including a gay christian who I admit I have a hard time understanding. Never have I stood up and out right said a christian is wrong, and i freely admit I might be wrong. If I am wrong who have I hurt? How many people have died in Holy Wars?

    In short I’ll leave you with a quote from a friend of mine “Keep and open mind, but not so open it slides out of your ears”

  • Comrade Stalin

    Usually I’d describe myself as an atheist, but it is admittedly embarassing to have people like that maniac Hitchens playing for the same team. But all it really is is the rejection of blind faith, and a somewhat childlike curiosity about creation, nature and the universe that isn’t abruptly cut off by people saying “God did it, so you don’t need to keep asking questions”.

    I do not think atheists claim to know everything. I am quite willing to freely admit that I don’t know ultimately how or why the universe was created, although there are some good theories about what actually took place during the first few microseconds of its existence onwards. On the other hand, we’ve got people who claim that they do know everything : their book tells them so. For a reason they cannot or will not explain, the book they hold up is deemed infallible.

    Some people say that they have more of a problem with organized religion than they do with religion itself, but at the end of the day they are things which are closely intertwined. We have modern-day, well-documented examples of how mortal men created religions out of thin air as a means to acquire power and control – the LDS church and the Scientologists are two well documented examples. Joseph Smith (LDS founder) even went back and issued his own bible, adding useful “prophecies” in at critical parts of the old and new testaments “predicting” his life and work millenia later. Who knows how many times the regular Christian bible has been modified to suit the needs of groups seeking to consolidate their hold on power ?

  • ben

    If Theo Hobson or any other oogy-boogy merchant has an argument to make, some sort of reasoned defence of his supernatural beliefs, let’s hear it. Bring it on, Theo.

  • The Penguin

    “…since it assumes there’s a god whose existence can be challenged.”

    What utter nonsense. The challenge is not against a God but an idea or belief.
    Your point is as vacuous as the one that argues because you can’t prove there is no God then it is possible there is one. I can’t prove that aliens from Mars came here and created everything and then cleared off home in their spaceship again, either.
    It is up to the proponents of an idea or belief to prove its efficacy.

  • This whole debate looks to me to be between the most literal-minded atheists on the one hand and the most literal minded religious fundamentalists on the other.

    What neither group can recognise is that for many people religion has always had an esoteric content, as a metaphor for an essentially non-rational spiritual experience. It’s only when that metaphor becomes a dogma that the non-rational gives way to the irrational.

    The whole argument doesn’t make much sense outside of an Abrahamic context, where the concept of a personal God is fundamental.

  • Obscure Reference

    A bizarre variant of the classic response of supernaturalists to rational argument – move the goal posts.

    If you are a Christian of any traditional flavour, God is a defined term, you can’t pick and choose what it means: if you smugly announce that the existence of the Universe implies the existence of a vague undefined “higher power” you are inventing your own God, you have started your own religion. Fair play to you but own up to it.

    Hobson doesn’t just move the goal posts, he denies their existence – he had to have been on the happy smoke while composing this taxonomic shell game.

    “For example there is surely something religious in the communal ecstasy of a rave, or a pop concert, or a play, or a sporting event, or a political rally.”

    “What is religion? Believe it or not, I don’t know the answer.”

    Far out man.

    It’s hard for me to see what his point is (he can conflate culture and religion and therefore not know what religion is, so what?) but people who promote belief for belief’s sake are arrogant, elitist snobs – “I of course am rational and civilized, but the Great Unwashed, the hoi polloi, require an all-seeing vengeful dominant alpha-male in the sky to regulate their savage urges, otherwise they’ll all be fornicating like chimps in the street and bashing each other on the head with chewed human femurs while swilling special brew.”

  • Aaron McDaid

    Theo: “And atheism is muddled because it cannot decide on what grounds it ultimately objects to religion. Does it oppose it on the grounds of its alleged falsity?”

    That’s like saying that all Christianity is wrong because they can’t make up their minds about transubstantiation.

  • michael

    i wonder does he get the irony in his argument? i would guess not.

  • I am bemused by this prats widdling..I fully intend to be carried away by the ecstasy of a full on metal concert tomorrow night (Machine Head) but does this mean I worship them as Gods. Having had the temerity to read the Bible/Koran etc as an atheist I am usually drawn into the debates with these sad prats who try to layer a rational argument on their ‘belief’ as they defend blood sacrifice, gang rape, genocide, warfare and the abject failure to arrive of the apocalypse (i’s all there in the Holy Books!) and say that these are metaphors or allegories. If so..who decides which is allegory and which is actual instruction…Oh I give up…a heavy metal fan who isn’t a satanist 🙂 and has actually read a book or three…must be the religious heads worst nightmare…and I work for a rights based organisation…ok, rant over…sorry for wittering on with the Gospel According to Me!

  • Aaron D

    Why wouldn’t the trouble with atheists be the lack of objective moral laws?

  • An Lochlannach

    The ‘debate’ on religion just reinforces how impoverished most public comment is these days. Against certain actions by the Israeli government? Why you must hate Jews! Doubtful about the wisdom of George W’s foreign policy? Why you must be anti-American!

    All I ever hear from religious groups are piss-poor generalisations such as ‘Richard Dawkins makes a religion of materialism and a god of Darwin’ or else ‘Well my belief in God is sincerely held and therefore it’s offensive of you to question it.’ We’ve had a few such gems on this string – ‘…atheism was always regarded as rather a weak alternative (since it assumes there’s a god whose existence can be challenged)’. It’s probably not worth tackling such childish, non-sensical thinking. Until we approach the issue with something like honest arguments this will continue to generate more heat than light. Sadly these are the only arguments religious people ever seem to offer.

  • seanzmct

    Theo Hobson takes us up a absurdist blind alley by arguing that religion is beyond definition and therefore beyond challenge.

    In my experience most religious people are ultimately not amenable to argument as they have the escape clause of faith, which for them transcends reason.

  • It’s funny the way most of you are arguing against a faith which I and many other believers don’t actually hold.

  • Eruic Blair

    what he seems to forget that to become religious is a choice (cowardly or courage depending on the person). Becoming an atheist is never a choice. It is declaring reason to be superior to faith, therefore the atheist looks at the evidence and discovers that that they are an atheist. If unsavoury conclusions are drawn from their observations it is not cowardly. At worst they are just mistaken in their conclusions.

    A good atheist never decides what to believe, so they can hardly be accused of having an agenda.

  • kensei

    What I find is most people are comfortable with their beliefs, keep them fairly private, but dislike people who won’t shut the fuck up about religion. They normally fall into two categories 1. Fundamentalist religious people 2. Atheists.

  • Spot on kensei!

  • Wilde Rover

    The increasingly shrill tone of leading atheists, specifically in the US, is understandable if regrettable.

    They’re the ones who were tactfully silent on the subject until religious encroachment into education forced them to cry “Enough” and to stand up for science and knowledge, and all of the martyred trailblazers through the centuries.

    But they are in a different environment. After all, the creation of the US facilitated the secularization of Europe as most of the fundies went west.

    Western Europe seems less atheist and more secular Christian: it accepts the good aspects of Judeo-Christianity like trying to treat each other fairly, while rejecting the nuttier aspects that have cropped up from time to time, like Jesus will love you more if you kill a non-believer.

    But there is no zeal like the convert’s, as the former communist countries are proving. Perhaps it’s time for figures in Western Europe to start drawing their own lines in the sand.

    What about it Pete, you fancy a trip to the beach?

  • abucs

    Comrade,

    “Usually I’d describe myself as an atheist, but it is admittedly embarassing to have people like that maniac Hitchens playing for the same team”.

    I agree, i wouldn’t think he’s the best advertisement for atheism either. I’m sure many theists feel similarly embarressed by the line of discussion (preaching) from our own comrades from time to time.

  • eranu

    atheists can argue many points with people who believe in God. but i think that all you have to worry about is step one, how the universe began.

    atheists say there is no God. but if the universe expanded from a single point where time, 3 dimensions, laws of physics and all the material in the universe came from, then where did whatever was in that point come from? you can go back and back and back a step at a time asking ‘so where did that come from?’ something has to come from something else doesnt it? there cant just be nothing and then suddenly something.
    Somewhere along the line someone had to ‘create’ the first ‘something’, its the only way.

    far from atheism being reason and God being faith, its God that is the only reasonable explanation as the creator of all things and atheism being faith that there is some other explanation, but we just dont know what it is yet..

  • snakebrain

    eranu – erroneous

  • Eric Blair

    eranu-
    The scientific method of investigation says that you are correct. An athiest outlook will never ever be certain of the origin of the universe, or anything else for that matter- they can only say it is highly probable given the eveidence they have been shown. There may always be another explaination they had not considered. Certainty only comes with a misplaced faith.

  • Aislingeach

    I’ve been following much of the “God talk” here on Slugger and I suspect that some who call themselves “atheist” might more accurately be described as “agnostic.” The first says “there is/are no god(s)”, the second says “you can’t prove either way.”
    It would seem closer to the scientific way to adopt the agnostic’s stance, particularly on the cause of the Big Bang (something started, we don’t know how or why).
    Of course, you can be agnostic about that and STILL favor belief–or non-belief; you just won’t be quite so insistent that yours is the only correct view. But that doesn’t lead to such wild blogging debates, does it?

  • Pounder

    I diasgree. I don’t know for absolutely sure that there is no god. But I’ve yet to see real evidence to prove the existance of god. There for I don’t believe in god. The mistake people make is regarding athiesm as just another religon, it’s no more a religion than empty is a kind of fuel in your car.

  • Aislingeach

    There are different degrees of atheism, Pounder–I think we can agree on that. But some do seem to make it a form of religion, working as hard as any theist to insist on their own form of True Belief (or True Unbelief, if you will). Both sides seem fueled by their own self-righteousness. And both may be running on empty…

    Myself, I think it’s the True Believers–the ones who think they alone hold the Truth–who give us the most grief.

  • eranu

    pounder, if theres no God then where did everything come from? if the alternative to God is ‘we havent a clue’ then wouldnt God be the most likely answer??

  • michael

    eranu, in some ways it pains me to enter into this discussion, but havn’t you ever considered the counter argument to your statment:

    Somewhere along the line someone had to ‘create’ the first ‘something’

    then who created that first something? such a simple question, but it lays waste to your argument. As somone arguing on behalf of religion, as you appear to be, there are better arguments that this meaningless one.

    also,

    if theres no God then where did everything come from? if the alternative to God is ‘we havent a clue’ then wouldnt God be the most likely answer??

    no, this is again a meaningless argument. If ‘we havn’t a clue’ (which isnt the case actually) then that means that any explaination for the origins of the universe is open for discussion. When we have no evidence to back up any of the explanations, then no one of these can be ‘more likely’ than the other.

    those of us that hold to principles that could be described as athieistic are not aiming to destroy yours, or anyone elses, religion. Such individuals are simply stating their own refusal to accept an explanation of an event without evidence, or even convincing theoretical argument in many cases.

    I for one am perfectly willing to entertain the debate about a gods existence, if somone wants to have the discussion. Personally i think that faith is a good thing in the world, i just cant manage to have it, as such my policy would be , live an let live. The problem comes when the people i have had the discussion with get personally offended when a rebuttle to their arguement is presented.

    my 2c

  • Pounder

    pounder, if theres no God then where did everything come from? if the alternative to God is ‘we havent a clue’ then wouldnt God be the most likely answer??
    Posted by eranu on Jun 08, 2007 @ 03:51 PM

    Thats very flawed logic. Like I sad above I’ve yet to see proof that God exists. The universe could just as easily be created by the Flying Spagetti Monster, worship his noodily appendage. Show me evidence that God exists and I’ll believe untill then I’ll b sticking with science and proven logic.

  • Obscure Reference

    Growing up being told I was Catholic, it’s not just God you must believe in, there’s a whole pantheon of supernatural beings. The thousands of Saints with their specific responsibilities such as finding your car-keys (what super-power will John Paul II be bestowed with?), the four Choirs of Angelic Hosts deployed in orders – Angels, Archangels, Cherubim, Dominions, Powers, Principalities, Seraphim, Thrones, Virtues. Jesus and the enigmatic Holy Ghost of course. Let’s not forget Mary whose job is, if memory serves, Queen of Heaven. Then there’s the other team with Satan, devils, demonic possessors etc.

    I’m not picking on God. I don’t believe in anything supernatural or magic, and why should I? Again, the existence of the Universe does not prove the existence of Seraphim or God any more than it proves the existence of Zeus or Odin and yet constantly that’s the best argument supernaturalists can come up with. You can say there must be a motive force, a Supreme Being of some sort – that makes you an agnostic, you are denying God as defined in the Bible, and an agnostic is just a testicularly deficient atheist.

    Actually what I’m most often told is I should hedge my bets as a matter of policy, because if I’m wrong and the Christian God exists, then I’ll be covered. Really? And yet according to Theo I’m the pretentious and cowardly one. I can’t choose to believe 2+2=5, how can I choose to believe in the supernatural, especially when a purportedly all-seeing God knows what I’m thinking anyway.

  • pauljames

    Guys get of the fence! Why should people defer to religion just because a holy book of one type or another declares itself the infalible truth. Why cant we do good things because its the right thing to do, not in the hope of securing kudos with his hairyness. Annnnnd if you choose to use the argument about creation then who created the creator.
    PS its a cop out to say he exists on a different astral plane or beyond our comprehension
    PPS despite his political views Hitch is on fire at the moment!

  • [i]”Growing up being told I was Catholic, it’s not just God you must believe in, there’s a whole pantheon of supernatural beings. The thousands of Saints with their specific responsibilities such as finding your car-keys (what super-power will John Paul II be bestowed with?), the four Choirs of Angelic Hosts deployed in orders – Angels, Archangels, Cherubim, Dominions, Powers, Principalities, Seraphim, Thrones, Virtues. Jesus and the enigmatic Holy Ghost of course. Let’s not forget Mary whose job is, if memory serves, Queen of Heaven. Then there’s the other team with Satan, devils, demonic possessors etc.”[/i]

    Hmmm, as a lifelong practicing Catholic, I’m very much afraid that your list is rather silly, a collection of pious practices and some — but not much — Catholic dogma.

    [i]”The thousands of Saints with their specific responsibilities such as finding your car-keys (what super-power will John Paul II be bestowed with?)”[/i]

    Over the course of 20 centuries and with a total membership of some 2 or 3 billion members, the Church has chosen a lot of people as models of what being a Christian is and pointed to them for our edification. And THAT is as far as it goes. The rest is pious practice, much of it nonsense. Don’t elevate it to dogma. Most of us outgrow the nonsense as we grow up. But, some do not and cling to the pious practices of times past when our understanding of the world and how it works was somewhat more simple. As I say, most modern Catholics outgrow it.

    [i]”the four Choirs of Angelic Hosts deployed in orders – Angels, Archangels, Cherubim, Dominions, Powers, Principalities, Seraphim, Thrones, Virtues.”[/i]

    None of this collection is dogma.

    [i]”Let’s not forget Mary whose job is, if memory serves, Queen of Heaven.”[/i]

    Mary is certainly a key figure in Catholic belief and practice, but Queen of Heaven is hardly the reason why she is so important. Mary is important because when God asked her to play the most important purely human role in His Plan for human salvation, she had the courage and the faith to say “yes”. And lived that committment to her death.

    [i]”Jesus and the enigmatic Holy Ghost”[/i]

    Now, here we come to the heart of Christianity, the God-Man and the Holy Spirit and the whole mystery of the Trinty, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.(Sorry, OR, but the correct modern English term is “Holy Spirit” NOT “Holy Ghost”) Now, you are addressing the very heart of Christian belief, both Catholic and Protestant and all other variations which are neither, e.g. the 20+ Eastern churches, both Orthosdox and Uniate, and a lot of other Christian Churches which are neither Catholic or Protestant, really.

    I suspect we were both probably educated in the pre-VaticanII traditions. I respectfully suggest that you acquaint yourself with the more modern version of Catholicism. Whe knows? You just might like it

  • Obscure Reference

    ‘Fraid not Bob mate, Vatican II was before my time, this is what the Christian Brothers taught me, silly, dogma or no, along with some nonsense so pernicious you would think I was fibbing were I to impart it.

    I got into terrible trouble as a teenager back in the late 80’s for writing an essay claiming Jesus never existed and Christianity was re-hashed pagan solar theology. It was all C.S. Lewis’s fault. He detailed in one of his books how the life of Jesus conformed to a calender year of the sun, and how every element of Jesus’ life could be found in preceding religions. This “myth made fact” allegedly proved the historical reality of Jesus. I saw things differently.

    The Brothers freaked and I was sent to counseling with a very nice priest. I would rant about the Spanish Civil War or the number of Popes who died of syphilis or something and he would sit there chuckling. At the end of each session he would punch my arm good-naturedly and tell me everything would be different when I was older. I used to miss Science for that, it was great.

    A friend of mine tried to get in on the racket and wrote an essay wherein he asserted that the AIDS epidemic had been started by Catholic missionaries engaging in unnatural acts with green monkeys. He almost got expelled and got no counseling.

    Nearly 20 years later I still don’t believe in a supernatural realm or that Jesus existed. I do believe that prayer is the biggest waste of time a human could engage in. So I think giving the old faith a try is probably out of the question.

  • OK by me, but please don’t throw that pile of nonsense around and call it Catholic doctrine. And I rather doubt the Christian Brothers taught you that that pile of nnsense was Catholic dogma. But, who knows?

  • Obscure Reference

    Well Bob, I don’t recall the good Brothers ever mentioning what was dogma and what wasn’t. I never saw a Bible during my years of religious indoctrination, we had Catechisms instead. I do do recall our jaw-dropping incredulousness, among the many other oddities, at being told that women were rapidly becoming immune to The Pill as rats become immune to rat poison and that our worries about over-population were irrelevant because in the future mankind would live on the bottom of the sea. The Brother who taught us had previously lived in South Africa and was a big fan of Apartheid, in fairness to him like many Irish people who moved to SA.

    I think theological finesse of the class your sensibilities require was far, far beyond these men who seemed genuinely confounded not to be teaching illiterate medieval peasants.

  • abucs

    i think the Catholic church (and Christians generally) , to a large degree base their thoughts on what it would call ‘revelation’. Jesus, Fatima etc.

    Many people are not convinced – fair enough.

    Faith does seem to be a vital part of the Christian religion on any reading of the new testament. Why this should be is a question for “the faithful”. We can make ‘guesses’ as to why this should be, but it is undoubtedly a feature. It would be much easier for those that believed, who wanted to ‘win the arguement’ to have a Fatima every second day. But that would be what we want.

    By the way, if there was a Fatima every second day, science could still not say God exists. In essence, science has to be in control of the process. If we do this and that, under defined circumstances, then this will NECESSARILY happen. Therefore so and so is (for the moment ) a consistant law.

    But we shouldn’t make the mistake that the Church is only about faith. Apart from faith, which is a large part of Christianity, there is also of course theology, logic, philosophy and science within the church for centuries.

    This side of the Church says that if everything in this universe has a cause, and science says there was a start of the universe where time and space did not exist – then the cause for the universe is outside of space and time.

    For Christians, this fits neatly in with the ‘revelation’ part of the movement. For those that have rejected that then the question still remains, what from outside of space and time created our universe ??

    And if this cause (whatever it is) is outside of time, then it makes no sense to ask what caused it ? For cause to have any meaning, time must exist – event in Time A caused event in time B and time A must be before time B.

    If there is no time then this side of the arguement cannot make sense. Of course our minds forged in this universe where time is so integral, naturally thinks of EVERYTHING having a cause.

    But when we consider a first cause outside of this universe, this is not so. Even before the big bang was discovered, atheist philosophers and scientists had no trouble with accepting a universe that always existed.

    Sensible theists answer the ‘origin question’ with a combination of what they have accepted as evidence (though non scientific) and try to reconcile this with scientific evidence and logic and we say – a creator.

    Sensible atheists who try, also look to reconcile a ‘nature is everything’ belief to science and logic, and have postulated other solutions.

    Fair enough.

    But our science can only be tested ‘in this universe’.

    I suppose because of this, once you accept that our origin is beyond space and time (which science suggests) faith in theist and atheist postulations may never truely be reconciled with the science and logic that is based in our universe.

  • Gerry Kelly

    Obscure Refeence: If you were at school in the late 1980s, the Christian Brotehrs had more or less vanished from the scene. Your school would not have been over run with them.
    The atheist bandwagon is a pension scheme for under performing academics like Dawkins and bandwagon jumpers like Hitchens. Darwinism is a tautology, not a theory.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Darwinism is a tautology, not a theory.

    Would someone please explain this ?

    “Darwinism” is not the theory. I think you are referring to evolutionary theory.

  • someguy

    CS,

    He’s probably referring to this:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolphil/tautology.html

    Honestly, survival of the fittest is a gross simplification of the theory. If this is what he’s referring to, it’s just not worth pursuing.

  • abucs

    [i]”i think the Catholic church (and Christians generally) , to a large degree base their thoughts on what it would call ‘revelation’. Jesus, Fatima etc.”[/i]

    Though many Catholics do accept Fatima and other incidents like it as worthy of belief and the Church does allow pilgrimages to such sites, the revelations are NOT recognized by the Church as dogma or doctrine and one is NOT required to accept them in order to be a Catholic.

    Over 20 centuries and with a membership — I guess — of between 10% and 20% of the world’s population throughout those centuries, there’s a LOT of room for a lot of crazies and for a lot more over-devout believers. On the whole, the revelations from these appearances generally call for believers to live a Christian/Catholic life more fully. And, the devotions that have grown up around them generally do much the same. But, the “revelations” are NOT doctrine unless they merely restate what is already dogma.

    Obscure Reference seems to have more than a little bit of confusion about the difference, perhaps because his teachers didn’t make it clear enough or perhaps because he didn’t listen or perhaps because he chooses to ignore the basic truths of Catholicism to make a point.

  • After all the back and forth of some 40 posts, I respectfully suggest that belief in the existence of God and belief that there is no God are both matters of faith and that reason alone can prove neither true or false.

    I also suggest that both beliefs be respected as just that, i.e. acts of faith.

  • Bob,

    At last a sensible comment. I have always beleived that belief in God is an entirely personal matter. I was brought up a Catholic but for a whole variety of reasons (too many to go into. I became (at best) an agnostic for most of my adult life.

    In the past few years, however, my research and personal evaluations have led to me to begin to renew my faith once again. I have not reached the stage where I am a church-goer again, as I still reserve the right to practise my beliefs in a very personal and private way.

  • Sam Hanna

    I have argued here on many threads that science is ultimately simply a matter of faith. It is amusing to read of those like Pounder who smugly claim they cannot believe in God but will just hold on to “logic and science.”

    All logic and science presuppose faith. The Scentific Method presupposes it and cannot be proven. Theism is faith as is science – get over it.

    The evidence from logic and the scientific method strongly suggest that God exists. Childish argument such as where did God come from are infantile.

    http://www.jsm.org.sg/GodAndTheAtheist.pdf

  • Dawkins

    Sam,

    “All logic and science presuppose faith. The Scentific Method presupposes it and cannot be proven. Theism is faith as is science – get over it.”

    I respectfully suggest that’s bollocks. I’m an atheist from birth and do not have “faith” that there is no God. Gods for me are an irrelevance, as are leprechauns. Science on the other hand is applied rationality.

    BTW, Theo Hobson. Doesn’t “Theo” mean “God”?

  • One of the greatest philosophers of science of the Twentieth Century, Karl Popper, argued that the basis of science was a kind of faith in reason.
    One aspect of that is the problem of induction. Science depends upon the idea that there are regularities in nature, but this cannot be proven without assuming the principle you are trying to establish.
    The difference is that science is an anti-authoritarian faith that tries to test its own beliefs. It seems to me that some of the most strident voices on both sides of this debate share an authoritarian theory of knowledge as something that the majority of us are expected to accept uncritically from the experts. They just differ about who the experts are.

  • Dawkins

    Tom,

    “One of the greatest philosophers of science of the Twentieth Century, Karl Popper, argued that the basis of science was a kind of faith in reason.”

    Which only goes to prove that even the “greatest philosophers of science of the Twentieth Century” can talk bollocks.

  • Dawkins,

    SO what’s your solution to the problem of induction?

  • Dawkins

    Tom,

    I wasn’t criticizing Popper’s remarks on induction but his claim that science contains faith.

    I don’t think it does any longer. Sure, it’s expect natural laws to operate throughout the known universe. Yet modern physics is continually discovering phenomena that don’t seem to conform. Perhaps we’ll have to tear up the rule book soon but for the present our science is adequate.

    My argument is, and always had been, that science takes nothing on trust aka belief.

  • Dawkins

    Should be: “Sure, we expect…”