Atheist Philosophy

Here is a paper that I wrote for a Philosophy class. Hope you all enjoy!

One of the most fought over and debated question in history is how did we come to exist? There have been thousands of answers to this question; however, I will explore the philosophy behind two main sides of the debate, Theistic explanation and scientific explanation. For the last two thousand years God has been the most accepted explanation for our existence with science in the background. However, with the growing acceptance of scientific fact in society we can now see that it has been correct all along. Science can, and has, been disproving the likelihood of God with each new discovery. Religion has had a few main claims that many people still believe today. The claims and arguments I will explore are the immorality of Atheism, the unchanging God, Intelligent Design, the Cosmological Argument, God’s will, the Fine Tuning Argument. I will explore these arguments and systematically disprove each and every one of them using science, history, and archeology and bringing it into a philosophical argument.

One argument that is levied against Atheists, in an attempt to discredit them, is that they are immoral because they do not have absolute moral ethics that are grounded in a personal God. This sort of thing implies that Atheists will lie to you and that Atheists cannot give you good answers to questions like the origin of the Universe or of man’s origin. They ask how one can be moral if their morality is not grounded in a personal God. This statement is basically saying that the only reason that one would not steal, lie, or kill is because they believe in a personal God rather than because those things are wrong. It is important to make sure that my arguments cannot be dismissed because I am somehow immoral for not having a personal God. It is not necessary for Atheism to be true for Atheists to be moral, it is just necessary to prove that one does not need a personal God to act in a moral way. The Theistic argument can be summarized as (1) It is impossible to have a high moral character without a belief in God. (2) It is more probable than not that a person without a belief in God will not have a high moral character. (3) It is more probable than not that a person without a belief in God will not have a high moral character than that a person with a belief in God will. To refute (1), Jainists, who are Atheists, follow strict ethical codes that forbid injuring living creatures and David Hume has been described as the saintly infidel, which clearly refutes thesis 1. Thesis 2 entails that most Atheists do not have high moral characters. However, the Atheist can levy a counter argument (2’) It is more probable than not that a person with a belief in God will not have a high moral character. It is difficult to know if either one is true, or they could both be false. If (2’) is true then that would make (3) false. However, there is no proof to say that either one is true or false. We do not know if (3) is true, or why it would be true. Without better evidence than we have, the criticism of Atheists having no morality is unwarranted. William Clifford said, “It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.”

One claim Theists make is that God is unchanging. Augustine says, in his “Confession,” that God is unchanging. Most people agree with this, however in order to be unchanging God cannot have emotions. In the Bible we can clearly see that God displays human emotion. If this is the case the argument follows:

1. In order to be unchanging God cannot have emotions.
2. God has emotions.
3. Therefore, God is changing.

This is an important place to start because it will later disprove biblical morality. How do we know that God is changing? In the Bible when Moses is receiving the Ten Commandments and God is dictating them to Moses the very first one is “Thou shalt not have strange Gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3). Right after this he says (Exodus 20:5) “I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.” Jealousy is an emotion that God explicitly says he has. Given this information I can make another argument against the word of God as dictated by the Bible.

1. If the Ten Commandments are true, then God is changing.
2. If God is changing, then His word is not eternal (by ‘eternal’ I mean his word/teachings are always relevant).
3. If God’s word is not eternal, then all the lessons from the Bible can be disregarded.
4. God’s word is not eternal because God is changing.
5. Therefore, the biblical lessons can be disregarded.

Given this argument then we should not regard what God tells us in the Bible as moral because they do not reflect what is moral in modern society. For example (Exodus 35:2) “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you a holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.” What does all this mean? It means that God’s lessons can change and are not necessary to modern life. Why is it important that God is changing? For centuries Christians and Catholics have based their faith on God being an unchanging perfect being. However, we can see that God is indeed changing. If God is changing then is he perfect?

1. If God is changing then he is not perfect.
2. God is changing.
3. Therefore, God is not perfect

If God is not perfect then what else has God gotten wrong? We can say, from this argument that belief in the perfect God is irrational. I will explore what else God has gotten wrong, and why it is that way by disproving other claims of God. Furthermore, if God was perfect, then he would not contradict his divine word. However, in the Bible, God contradicts himself. One example is the case of condemning homosexuality.

1. If the Bible is the inspired word of God, then it cannot contradict itself, or it would just be works on man.
2. The Bible contradicts itself.
3. Therefore, the Bible is just the works of man and is not inspired by God.

Where does the Bible contradict itself? When it talks about homosexuality it says that homosexuality is condemnable by death. Why would God want to condemn homosexuals to death?

1. If God hates homosexuals, then he would want them to be condemned to death.
2. God wants homosexuality to be condemned to death (it is in the Bible, Leviticus 20:13).
3. Therefore, God hates homosexuals.

This proves that, if the inspired word of God is the Bible, then God hates homosexuals, however God is supposed to love all his creations (1John 4:16 and John 3:16). However, if everything is God’s creation then homosexuals are God’s creations too.

1. If the Bible did not contradict itself, then God would love homosexuals.
2. God does not love homosexuals (according to the Bible).
3. Therefore, the Bible contradicts itself.

Thus, we have shown that the Bible is not a good source for information regarding science or history. It has also shown us that the Bible, which Theists believe to be the inspired word of God, contradicts itself which would be an impossibility if it were the divinely inspired word of God.

​ The origin of human life has been a thoroughly debated question among human beings for hundreds of years. Where do we come from? How did we originate? These are intrinsically important questions for human beings to know the answer to. However, science has come up with an answer that has been tested and proven, but unaccepted. It is the theory of Evolution through Natural Selection as proposed by Charles Darwin. It says, “This preservation of favourable individual differences and variations, and the destruction of those which are injurious, I have called Natural Selection, or Survival of the Fittest.” However, this is not accepted by some Theists. Instead, a Theist would say that we exist due to Creation, or Intelligent Design. These are the theory that humans were created by an intelligent being. This intelligent being, although they will avoid saying so, is the Judeo/Christian God of Abraham. The reason that I feel it is important to disprove this untested theory is because this is now being taught to kids in biology classes in 4 states (Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, and Arkansas). Intelligent Design is not science and has no room in a science class room. To make it more obvious, in a geology class you wouldn’t teach kids that the earth is flat.

1. Intelligent Design is true science, if and only if it can be scientifically tested and render the same results each and every time it is tested.
2. Intelligent Design cannot be scientifically tested because it is based on God.
3. Therefore, Intelligent Design is not true science.

Most people, when refuting my argument, would reject the second premise. However, there is a reason that Creationists made up the term Intelligent Design. They created this term so as to get this put into curriculum in science classes; however it does not change the fact the Intelligent Design is based on God, or the supernatural. This cannot be tested in a scientific context because science is supposed to give us answers to natural phenomenon, which God would not be. Take for example 3 Biblical miracles:

1. Exodus 14:21 – God parting the Red Sea for the Israelites.
2. Exodus 3:2 – The burning bush. “He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.”
3. Matthew 28:1-6 – The resurrection of Jesus.

These are but 3 of many miracles in the Bible, from which Intelligent Design is based on. These miracles are supposedly from God, then how can we test these things in a scientific context? It would be impossible to test this. The burning bush, for example, would be difficult to test in a lab. Assume that we were able to get a bush that was grown in Egypt, around where the myth took place and we brought it to a lab. If we set fire to it, it would be consumed by the flame and turned into ash. However, the response to this would be that it was a miracle of God which we cannot test. Intelligent Design/Creation would also be a miracle of God, therefore we cannot test it scientifically. Therefore, even if Intelligent Design were true, it still would not be science because it cannot be tested scientifically. Therefore, a similar argument can be made:

1. Intelligent Design is scientifically true, if and only if it can be tested.
2. Intelligent Design cannot be scientifically tested.
3. Even if Intelligent Design were true, it would not be scientific, because it is based on supernatural phenomenon.
4. Necessarily, Intelligent Design cannot be science.

Similar to human origin, the origin of the Universe is another intrinsically important question for human beings to answer. It further helps us understand where we came from and how we came into being. This origin of the Universe has been discussed ever since human kind has been able to peer into space. Science has offered up the explanation that is called The Big Bang. The Big Bang is the theory that the Universe started as an infinitesimally small dot of energy that rapidly expanded into the Universe that we live in today. However, there is another theory that is similar to Intelligent Design. It can be explained through the Kalam Cosmological Argument which goes as follows:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. The universe has a cause of its existence.

This argument basically states that the Universe cannot be infinite. However, there is another Cosmological Argument for causation by Thomas Aquinas which goes as follows:

1. There is an order of causes (of existence) in nature.
2. Nothing can be the cause of itself.
3. Hence, everything that is caused must be caused by something else.
4. There cannot be an infinite regress of causes.
5. Therefore, there must be a first, uncaused cause, which is God.

The conclusion of this argument seems to be quite random. It seems like anything could be in the conclusion, like Sun Ra or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. What is the defense of the Judeo/Christian God as the proper Uncaused Cause? One defense is based on motion. All things are moving, and planets are revolving around the Sun. These movements must be a result of the Unmoved Mover (God) being the force that moves these things. However, we now know that it is gravity that causes the planets to revolve around the Sun. Aquinas would probably argue that it is God that causes gravity to function and is the force causing gravity. We also know that this is not true when we look at the mass of the objects. There is a reason that all the planets in the Solar System revolve around the Sun, and that is because it is the most massive thing in the Solar System. The mass of the Sun causes a bend or dip in the fabric of space-time which the planets are revolving on. Think of one of those spiral coin funnels; when you put a coin into it, it revolves around the center until finally falling into the hole. Gravity is very much the same thing. The real question is what was the first cause of the Universe? If we agree with the Big Bang theory we can also assume that the ball of energy did not exist forever. Why did this ball expand into the Universe? Theists would have to say that God is the cause of the Universal expansion. However, Quantum Fluctuations could be a much better answer. A Quantum Fluctuation is when a particle and an anti-particle spawn from nothing and collide and are destroyed. It is postulated from this that Quantum Fluctuations were the cause of the expansion of the Big Bang, thus taking out any need for a personal God. The idea of something from nothing is a scary and unsettling idea, but much more plausible than a supernatural creator. Thus, my counter argument would only change the conclusion of the Cosmological Argument for Causation to Quantum Fluctuations rather than God as the first Uncaused Cause. These are things that we can, and have observed in the natural world today.

​ One argument that Theists throw out whenever something awful happens, like a natural disaster, is that it was God’s will. God has some plan for the people that were killed. This is a response to the Problem of Evil:

1. If God exists, then there wouldn’t be any gratuitous evil in the world.
2. There is gratuitous evil in the world.
3. Therefore, God doesn’t exist.

The refutation of this would in premise 2, that God has some plan for whom or whatever was killed that make the evil not gratuitous, which is God’s will. However, let us consider the Frankfurt Cases:

Case 1 – There are two men: Smith and Jones. Smith is pointing a gun at Jones and is deciding whether or not to shoot him. There is also an evil demon that could control the outcome. In this case Jones decides not to shoot Jones, however the evil demon forces Smith to pull the trigger and kill Jones.

Case 2 – There are two men: Smith and Jones. Smith is pointing a gun at Jones and is deciding whether or not to shoot him. There is also an evil demon that could control the outcome. In this case Smith decides to shoot Jones with his own free will, and the evil demon does nothing.

In these cases we see that the outcome was the exact same regardless of the intervention of the evil demon. So if God’s will is going to be done if we do it by our own freewill, or he forces us, then there is no difference. My argument follows:

1. If we have free will, then we can do other than God’s will.
2. We cannot do other than God’s will regardless of our own free will.
3. God’s will, will always be the end result no matter what we do (as shown by the Frankfurt Cases)
4. Therefore, if God exists, we do not have free will, only God’s will.

If this argument if true, then we would not have free will in the case that God exists. However, the Problem of Evil, as described above, would entail that God does not exist because of the existence of gratuitous evil in the world. If it is the case that God exists then my argument above is false and we do have free will.
​One of the best Theistic arguments for God’s existence is the Fine-Tuning argument. As described by Dr. Craig the Fine-Tuning argument goes as follows:

1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.
2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
3. THEREFORE: it is due to design.

Science does not have all the answers to such questions; however Theists claim to have more answers than scientists. For example, the earth being on a 23 degree tilt, or how far the earth is from the sun are evidence of fine-tuning that allowed for intelligent life to exist on earth. Theists claim that this is evidence that God has fine-tuned earth to sustain intelligent life. However, I do not think that this is very good evidence for God. In the Universe we know that there are laws that are acting around us, such as gravity, which allows for us to rotate around the sun and what keeps our feet on the ground. The fine-tuning, as described by Dr. Craig, is actually due to the laws of nature, rather than a supernatural creator. We have evidence that the laws of nature are acting around us, however we have no provable evidence for a supernatural creator. I can create an argument against an intelligent designer like such:

1. If there is an intelligent designer, then human beings and the Universe would not have design flaws.
2. Human beings and the Universe do have design flaws.
3. Therefore, they could not have been created by design.

It would seem that any intelligent designer would not have created human beings with design flaws such as the openings for breathing and swallowing are too close together, the birth canal is far too narrow, often resulting in a C-section or injury/death to the mother and child. There are similar design flaws in the Universe that we have discovered. One of those design flaws is a black hole. A black hole is a rip in the fabric of space-time; it is formed after the death of a star. It is an extremely destructive process and would be completely unnecessary in a Universe designed by any intelligent creator. Austin Dacey argued:

1. If God exists, then the world would be perfectly designed.
2. The world isn’t perfectly designed.
3. Therefore, God doesn’t exist.

​ Throughout my analysis of various Theistic arguments for God’s existence I have found there to be flaws in all of the arguments examined. I can conclude from the arguments that I have examined and from the arguments that I made, that it is more likely that God does not exist. It is more likely that the Universe, and the intelligent life on earth are due to laws of nature and science rather than a supernatural creator.

Sources

1. Michael Martin, Atheism: A Philisophical Justification (Philidelphia: Temple University, 1990).
2. Saint Augustine, The Confessions of Saint Augustine (New York: Doubleday, 1960).
3. John Perry; Michael Bratman; John Fischer, Introduction to Philosophy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013).
4. Karen Armstrong, A History of God (Baltine Books, 1994).
5. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Illinois: Crossway, 2001).
6. Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design (New York: Bantam Books, 2010).
7. William Craig, Reasonable Faith (Illinois: Crossway Books 3rd Edition, 2008).
8. Charles Darwin, On The Origin of Species (Empire Books, 2011)

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Prayer

I’m pretty sure that you all have heard of this phenomenon called prayer. What is it? Does it have any effect on the physical world? Does it do ANYTHING?
The short answer is no, prayer is useless. It does nothing more than make you feel good. Sometimes, it doesn’t even do that!
There was a study done on prayer called the Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer or STEP. As you can read on the link, the study took almost 2,000 patients about to go into heart surgery. The people were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups:
1. Group receiving prayer, but unsure (604 people)
2. Not receiving prayer, but unsure (597 people)
3. Sure that they are receiving prayer (601)
Group 1 was told that they will get prayed for (they were actually getting prayer). Group 2 was told the same thing (but did not get any prayer). Group 3 was told that they were getting prayed for (they actually did get prayed for). This prayer was conducted for 14 days.
This study had surprising results:
In groups 1 and 2 complications occurred about 50% of the time (Group 1 = 315/604 – 51.655%; Group 2 = 304/597 – 50.92%). The The surprising part comes in the fact that the group certain of receiving prayer had complications about 60% of the time (352/601 – 58.56%).
Now, some Christians believe that this means that prayer does do something. The people conducting the study said otherwise. The conclusion (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16569567) was, “Intercessory prayer itself had no effect on complication-free recovery from CABG, but certainty of receiving intercessory prayer was associated with a higher incidence of complications.”
So really it was that the people KNEW that they were being prayed for. The results are basically saying that the people who knew that they were being prayed for had worse results for the simple fact that they knew. In other words, if they were to be told that they were receiving prayer but didn’t actually get any prayer the results would be about the same.
This proves that prayer is nothing more than mental masturbation. Now, I have had someone get confused over that saying, confusing it with physical masturbation. When using the term MENTAL masturbation it means that prayer feels good to the person doing it, but does nothing for who they are thinking of.
Sorry if I am repeating myself, but it seems important to do. Prayer does nothing for human beings. It has no place in the minds of rational human beings (or human beings in general). Prayer is useless. It is a waste of time, and ancient ritual that has no effect whatsoever. It makes you feel good for a minute and then it goes away. Dust in the wind. It is an ancient ritual.
How then did this ritual start? To get a better look at rituals and religions at their start there was a case study that I think you will find interesting.
Part 1

Part 2

What this shows is that these rituals are formed from a type of mental programming called Classical Conditioning. Some people think that religious rituals are also a cause of Operant Conditioning. Essentially what this is all saying is that religious practices start when someone sees something (always a natural phenomenon) that they cannot explain (Luna/Solar Eclipse, volcano eruptions, mass disease [like the black plague], earthquake, thunder/lightning, etc.). These are all things we can explain today, but were scary to ancient people because they did not understand it. So they create a God that does these things because it makes sense to an ANCIENT person. Now what about these rituals? Well, once this God has been established, they try to talk to this God to see if he will hear them (prayer). Let’s use an example. In ancient Greece a farmer would pray to Zeus for good weather for farming so they can grow crops. This works a little under 50% of the time (chance). So they develop other rituals (like animal sacrifice). This gets quite complicated. Let’s assume that you take three animals and you sacrifice each one in the same way (chicken, cow, lamb). However, you only get good weather when you sacrifice the chicken. You would cease to sacrifice the other two animals because you have concluded that God wants you to sacrifice chickens. Now you are only sacrificing chickens and back to your chance outcome. Once you realize this you start to scratch your head and wonder what is going wrong. So you try three different methods of sacrifice (decapitation, bludgeoning, burning). You then realize that you get good weather when you burn your chicken for Zeus. This goes on and on until you have some incredibly complicated procedure for sacrificing animals to get good weather. Some people may say that this does not pertain to the Judeo/Christian religion. Obviously these people do not read their own holy book.
Genesis 22:1-13
Leviticus 1
Leviticus 14:2-32
and trust me the list goes on (for quite some time). So why do people still do this? In light of evidence that blatantly says that prayer is useless, people STILL do it. The thing is, these people are not stupid! They are smart, educated (sometimes Ph.D professors and scientists!) people. Why do they subscribe to such useless ancient rituals that have been proven to have no effect on people (actually negative effects on people)? The answer (ironically) could be natural selection and evolution of these rituals. In today’s society people don’t sacrifice animals to the God of their choosing, so obviously these rituals have changed slightly when society does (evolution is a good word to describe this change). People are brought up to believe that prayer has some effect and this carries on into their adult life. Sometimes I wonder if people KNOW that prayer doesn’t do anything, but do it anyway because that’s what their parents did. That is the reason that this silly ritual is still sticking around. The same thing with going to church. Why do this? Why waste a Sunday sitting in some uncomfortable wooden seat listening to a priest yammer on about God and how you should live your life? The easy answer is that you probably shouldn’t be doing these things, but I don’t know what is best for everyone. If it makes you happy, I can’t tell you that it is wrong (unless you are sacrificing animals or people, that is definitely not good). For the simple fact that people have stopped sacrificing animals I think is some recognition that it really didn’t do anything! So if it makes you happy to waste your Sundays and your time going to church and praying, then fine, good for you. I can’t tell you not to do those things, but I can tell you those things have been proven to be useless. If you want to keep doing your rituals, fully knowing (or denying) that it doesn’t doing anything, then that’s fine too.

Out Of The Randomness

One argument that I tackled in an earlier post was the fine tuning argument. I thought about it for a while, and I thought of one of my interests: Astronomy. I realized that there are thousands of galaxies and millions of stars and planets out there. So are we really “fine tuned”? Why us and not any one of the other millions of planets? Why haven’t we found life on other planets? For those of you who do not know much about cosmology or astronomy there is a certain Goldilocks zone that a planet must be in to sustain liquid water. It is called the Goldilocks zone because the planet must have an eccentricity (orbit) of about .2. Kepler came up with a scale for measuring a planet’s orbit (his first law: The orbit of every planet is an ellipse with the Sun at one of the two foci) from a perfect circle to more of an oval (from 0 to 1). A 0 is a perfect circle while you get closer to 1 it becomes more of an oval. So is it by chance that the earth has an eccentricity of .2? Yes. This may be a disturbing and difficult concept for us to grasp, but it is true. Let me demonstrate with an example. Think of your birthday. Let’s say that it is today’s date April 1st. Imagine you are in a room with one other person, what is the chance that they will have the same birthday as you? Probably very low. As you add more people to the room the chance that someone will have the same birthday as you increases. When there are 34 people in a room with you there is a 4 to 1 chance that someone else will have the same birthday as you. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself. With only 34 people in a room (35 including you) pass around a piece of paper and tell everyone to write down their birthday. You will get at least one other person in the room with the same birthday as you. So what does this prove? This shows us, that if there are millions of planets orbiting suns all over the Universe it is extremely likely that a few of them will be able to sustain intelligent life on them. So now I must ask, where is the fine tuning? This seems more like laws acting around us rather than some supernatural being fine tuning this planet to have intelligent life. With the small amount of space that we have explored, we can conclude that there are more than 4 trillion planets orbiting other suns. With a number like that there must be hundreds of planets that have intelligent life on them. Probably extremely far away from us, father than our telescopes of space ships can take us. However, statistically it is highly probable that we are not alone in this gigantic Universe, and so the fine tuning argument is dead.

Ask An Atheist

Hello all Theists/Religious people! I have a new blog where I will answer YOUR questions! You can ask whatever you want, check out my page and ask away! I apologize if the answer takes a while, I do indeed have a life besides here and I will research your question if I don’t have an answer off the top of my head. Anyway read my page, it’ll explain everything.

Atheism

Many people are inclined to think that atheists are somehow bad human being, immoral, and full of irrational doubt. However, I don’t find this to be true. I am an atheist, a magician, a student, and many other things. Upon first meeting me I doubt that you would have any indication as to my personal beliefs or lack thereof. The point is that I am a human being just like anyone else on this majestic blue spec in the suburb of the Milky Way. I am not here to tell religious people that their beliefs are good for nothing, wrong, silly, or anything like that. I am however, trying to foster some sort of debate about the topic of religion, morality, and the existence of god in whatever form you may believe him (or her or them) to take. I am generally interested in this topic and I will be posting things by many authors and posing questions to whoever wants to take it on and try to answer it. I really hope that this is a positive and overall beneficial discussion!