The (January 23) C&L post Guess What Sam Brownback Wants To Cut Now brought forth — since Brownback is, at his center, a motivated wingnut Christian — a very lengthy dialog on religion, its impact on culture and its inevitable conflict with science. I don’t very often get involved in lengthy weblog discussions anymore, but this was one I couldn’t resist, given this up-near-the-top premise comment:
CL Reader 101: Highly religious people like Brownback will cling to something they believe, in this case right wing tax cut cure all mentality. The mindset isn’t to think critically and reject ideas that are apparent nonsense but to have faith that your belief is true. When you’ve spent a lifetime believing in talking snakes (Genesis 3:13) and book full of fairy tales it shapes your thinking process in a way that doesn’t embrace factual analysis. We’ve recently seen the same thing when Jim Inhofe quotes the bible as proof that human activity can’t drive climate change. Electing people who rely on “magical thinking” isn’t a good thing for Kansas or the country.
— to which I responded thus:
Religious belief is anathema to logical and conscious thought, and is based on nothing other than ancient mythologies which have ZERO scientific (or even practical) evidential basis. Unfortunately, its influence over public policy and practice is immense, and far too often to the detriment of a functioning society — as Brownback and myriad other enthusiasts so vividly demonstrate.
That pair of comments sparked a whole pile of replies, mainly because there was one ‘believer’ involved, one of those who typically will accept nothing other than a concession to their own personal belief. I suspect we all know the type. In any case, below is a highly edited recap — to save space, I removed a whole pile of short and repetitive comments which were in agreement with the theses noted above, all without any attempt to diminish or accelerate the overall context. What remains is a ‘discussion’ of sorts, one that emphasizes the differences between faith-based and science-based premises. To wit: science is always willing to follow the facts and revise views accordingly; religion follows faith only, facts to the contrary are of no use and dismissible.
The conversation began with a ‘friendly’ comment by AnnG14, the ‘believer’; the rest are (selected) back-and-forths in the order they first appeared, screen names intact.
AnnG14 (response to frugalchariot): I completely agree with the separation of church and state. However, just as science can not prove there is a God. Science can not prove there isn’t a God either. And as far as the big bang theory that life was created by a big explosion and atoms crashing together, that is really not more logical than a sentient being having created the universe. By the way Einstein believed in the divine order of the universe as have many other brilliant people,
frugalchariot: Well, the Big Bang theory reflects the probable way that the universe came into being and has nothing to do with life as we know it — which evolved close to ten million years (on this planet at least) after the Big Bang.
Science also cannot prove either the existence or non-existence of the Great Spaghetti Monster, a factoid which doesn’t really bother me all that much.
Fact is, there is not a single shred of verifiable evidence anywhere that either a god or a Spaghetti exist or have ever existed. Further, the whole of the universe including black holes, dark matter, and even life itself are far more logically explicable if a “sentient being” is left out. We are finally getting a grip on the concept of the Big Bang’s singularity, but why build a god into the equation? Doing so only brings up the question, where did IT come from?
I suspect IT was a product of early human imagination — a means to explain the unexplainable, also a way to justify power and authority of the few over the many. Roughly the same as today, actually.
vonBeavis: That’s Flying Spaghetti Monster, you infidel!
frugalchariot: Actually I was referring to the Older Testament Spaghetti Monster, creator of everything. The Flying one is his son; his story’s in the Newer Testament.
AnnG14: You don’t believe. WHO CARES WHAT YOU BELIEVE OR DON’T BELIEVE, OR WHAT I BELIEVE EITHER.
I’ll take Einstein over you. He was a lot smarter than you and not so smug spaghetti boy.
Pocatello: “WHO CARES WHAT YOU BELIEVE OR DON’T BELIEVE.”
And nobody cares what you believe…. But outright lying and trying to pass along that “Divine” order, “Einstein believed” bullshit in the context of any anthropomorphic “Gawd” is just pathetic.
in a 24 March 1954 Letter to Joseph Dispentiere, Albert Einstein wrote, “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”
Any competent “researcher”, retired or otherwise, would know that.
frugalchariot: Thank you. It might also be fair to note that Einstein died in 1955, long before the Big Bang thesis (originally proposed in 1927) became the accepted model of universal origin. In fact it wasn’t until the mid-sixties and the discovery of background radiation throughout the universe that the Big Bang overwhelmed the Steady State theory, to the point where today there is no longer much mystery surrounding universal origins (the discovery and confirmation of the Higgs Boson the latest significant VERIFIED evidence).
It should also be fair to add that throughout scientific evaluation and exploration of the universe, its billions of galaxies, star-birthing ‘places’, gravity-collapsed black holes, and now the as yet undemonstrated but theoretical dark matter — while immense amounts of verifiable evidence on all planes concerning the origins of everything have been collected, nary a single shred of scientific evidence that might even SUGGEST (much less prove or even indicate) the existence of ANY version of a sentient creator has EVER been found anywhere, Period.
As I suggested earlier, there is exactly as much solid evidence for the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster as there is for any other variety of ‘god’ — but yet, even here in the ‘enlightened’ USA god’s bogus existence overlays and ‘inspires’ some of the most heinous efforts to mask and to hold back or halt completely human accomplishment that exist anywhere on the planet (or in the universe, insofar as we have yet been able to determine).
I should add that I care less what any person chooses to believe. All I ever ask is that they keep it in the closet and to themselves unless/until some verifiable evidence is uncovered, at which point there will be an audience willing to listen, myself included.
AnnG14 (to Pocatello): A personal God is NOT the same as not believing in God.
“When the solution is simple, God is answering.” Albert Einstein
Nope you lie. Einstein said the universe was too orderly NOT to have been created by a sentient being. And the cheap shot was started by spaghetti boy. Why is it you atheists think YOU have the right to JUDGE everyone’s beliefs?
1Gary: I simply do not get your point? If Einstein believed in God that makes everyone else who does not believe in God wrong? How does that make any sense? Beliefs are not facts. They cannot be measure or weighted. It was once believed that the Earth was flat now we know it is not. You argument is not logical.
IronPyrite: “Einstein said the universe was too orderly NOT to have been created by a sentient being.”
And who, or what, created this “sentient” being that was capable of designing and creating the universe?
(and round, and round, and round, and round we go…)
AnnG14: God always was. If you want to believe that all life was created by a gigantic explosion and atoms crashing together you can. How was intelligence created in that scenario?
IronPyrite: So you explain what the big bang is and isn’t. I’m waiting for you to prove me wrong, but you can’t. I’m not your personal assistant and academic tutor. I don’t have to prove you wrong, as you have ALREAY proven yourself wrong by conflating the Big Bang with “life”.
This, ON TOP of your abject failure to provide ANY evidence as to the existence of god.
AnnG14: And your abject failure to prove that God does not exist. Once again I will go with Einstein. And YOU should be able to prove what you say on the big bang theory. You can’t do that either. Neither can you answer a simple question, that I have asked you repeatedly: You say that God did not create life then how was life created? Still waiting.
frugalchariot: Life evolved. The ‘laws’ of physics and chemistry plus a multi-billion (earth) year time frame, plus liquid water and a reasonably benevolent climate and atmosphere allowed it. No need whatsoever for any divine guidance.
AnnG14: How did life START, PARTICULARLY INTELLIGENT LIFE? Almost everyone knows that life has evolved.
frugalchariot: Intelligence is a biological trait and evolved just as did every other life function. The human brain is larger than that of a mouse, therefore has more capacity for ‘intelligent’ function. Intelligence is simply a neuronal function, nothing at all mysterious about it.
AnnG14: If God did not create life then how was life created? Why don’t you be honest and say you can’t answer an honest question. I have found atheists are all offense but can not defend/answer simple questions about their own beliefs.
frugalchariot: Life was not ‘created.’ Life happened; it is really nothing more than a curious assemblage of “star stuff” (thanks, Carl Sagan) which is different than other curious assemblages of star stuff. There is no magic needed to explain the origin of life’s curious assemblage, only chemistry and physics combined with enough time to become biology. And really, it’s just that simple.
Jim C: Speaking in terms of creation has no relevance when one understands the term ” eternity “, eternity doesn’t start and end anywhere . If you try and make the ” well, if god doesn’t exist then who created all this” route you must then ask the question , then who created god ?
AnnG14: No you don’t. No one created God. God always was.
I am not a fan of Huckabee or Chistian Fundamentalists or atheists for that matter. All of them think they could not be wrong and anyone who does not believe as they do is just stupid.
Regarding the big bang theory, who/what created the matter that exploded?
frugalchariot: The answer to that remains in the shadows, although with the confirmation of existence of the Higgs Boson (“the god particle”) the mystery of the singularity’s origin is one step closer to explanation. The origin of ‘the god particle’ will, however, likely remain elusive to scientific examination and eventual fact, but that’s different than the origin of god-the-sentient-creator thesis. The latter’s origin is clear: it emerged from the primitive minds of evolving humans, and then grew into the monstrosity it’s become because of the implicit power the concept grants to the most corrupt minds of the developing human species. And there it remains.
[. . .]
There clearly is no plausible way to discuss the obvious non-existence of a god with anyone who chooses to believe in a god-based mythology. It puzzles me, the vitriol of even self-described ‘tolerant’ god people, that immediately takes hold of any conversation with anyone who either denies or doubts their religious thesis.
I myself am not an atheist, I am, like Edward Abbey, ‘beyond’ atheism; non-theism. Atheists don’t believe in god; non-theists understand that there is no god to even NOT believe in.
IF confirmable evidence of god-existence should ever show up, I’ll willingly listen. Until then, no. And in the meantime I’ll resist any and all propaganda that attempts to induce belief in that vast intellectual (and most often subversive in intent) emptiness called religion.
Jim C: It shows insecurity I believe .
frugalchariot: Belief in a god has several motivations, I think;
First, it allows full and total explanation of that which is unknown, and no data, no evidence, no proof of any thesis whatsoever is ever needed. “God did it” suffices as an answer for every question the severely limited mind can come up with.
Second, belief in a god does indeed allow the fearful-of-everything “mentality” to gain the comfort implicit in eternal life in a mystical heaven where there is nothing ever to fear.
Third, those who willingly preach the god thesis to the fear-laden and susceptible minds gain a measure of control over the many; the sensation of ‘power’ is very satisfying to those with limited creative potential.
And fourth, the bigee: the truly-gifted godman charlatans find that their faux preachings eventually lead to widespread control of the ignorant masses. Imagine a pasture bull in the midst of a herd of cows and there you have it: religion defined. The mythical god has done its job.
Jim C: All I can say is, yep.
So that’s the bulk of the ‘conversation’ which, I think it’s fair to say, once again ran into that unbreachable wall of blind faith, the belief in something which has no evidentiary verification whatsoever. Why is that? Why is empirical data so easily dismissed in favor of blind nothingness? Does it reflect the failure of science education, or does it point to the vast success of religious education?
But the beat goes on and on as evidenced by recent headlines, such as Bobby Jindal’s Prayer Rally Advocates Putting Christians In Control Of Government And All Aspects Of Society in which the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement reiterated their thesis which asserts that conservative Christians should take control of the seven main areas of culture and society: (1) Business; (2) Government; (3) Media; (4) Arts and Entertainment; (5) Education; (6) Family; and (7) Religion.
What could possibly go wrong?