Prove there’s no god

Feb 27, 2013


Discussion by: paxpoker
When I say to a christian ,provide proof there is a god,the answer is often,provide proof there is no god.How do we prove that there is no god?.If we say that based on science I BELIEVE that there is no god,then thats no better than the christian saying that he believes there is a god.

141 comments on “Prove there’s no god

  • A Christian claims there is a God so the Christian has the burden of proof. You’re an observer looking at the universe knowing what you know and have no truth claim without providing evidence for it. This settles the case. We don’t go around and try to disprove over 1700 deities 🙂



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  • 2
    SelfAwarePatterns says:

    My usual response to these types of statements is to say something like, I can’t prove God’s non-existence, but I also can’t prove the non-existence of Zeus, Thor, Baal, Amon-Ra, Bigfoot, or Santa Claus. I stipulate that I’m not adamant about not believing in any of these things. I’ll change my mind if given rigorous evidence, but not before then.



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  • The obvious thing to say is that they are making the assertion so the burden of proof lies with them. If they try to turn it around and say that you are also putting forward an assertion, i.e that God does not exist , tell them when there is evidence to support God then you will believe in it. It’s simple.



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  • It is impossible to prove the negative. However, you can prove that his logic is invalid. One common way of doing that is to apply his logic on other matters by making parallel arguments & show him how absurd it is.

    If he believes in god without experiencing him in a validatable way, then he is just basing his belief on an unverifiable second hand account, which is ultimately based on the bible. But since other holy books exist, then by his standard for evidence, Buddha & Brahma must exist too. And since they exist, God cannot exist due to its monotheistic claim.

    Of course, some Christians might say that they’re actually demons in disguise, but then you can claim that they have no prove for such claim & conversely, God might be the demon of other religions.

    Then again, if he insists that he believes in god because of his personal belief, then you can point out the contradiction of having to base the personage of God on the image created by the religious denomination that educated him. Is God his personal imaginary friend or the one accounted by the bible of his denomination?

    There are usually outcomes that can arise from this kind of argument. He will borrow the authority of the denomination he is in, thus showing his bias in his standard for evidence. Or, he will just maintain that he believes in god despite having no real evidence, thus he has to admit that he’s irrational and has no right to espouse his irrational idea.



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  • 5
    SurLaffaLot says:

    In reply to #3 by Pauly01:

    The obvious thing to say is that they are making the assertion so the burden of proof lies with them. If they try to turn it around and say that you are also putting forward an assertion, i.e that God does not exist , tell them when there is evidence to support God then you will believe in it. It’s simple.

    I agree, but not only must there be evidence, but that evidence must be convincing ~ it must meet some criterion/criteria for being both valid, and indicative of what it purports to show. One cannot for instance say, as some theists do: “Just look at the trees and the stars and all of life and miracles etc. etc. Now all of that and more are evidence that ‘God’ exists”. No they are not

    The atheist can see trees, stars life etc., and find their existence compatible with a lack of any god. As for miracles, there have been none that have been confirmed as truly supernatural and from a god. Amazing things happen but it does not make them miraculous.

    So any evidence must be more than just assertions.



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  • 6
    blitz442 says:

    In reply to #4 by adiroth:

    It is impossible to prove the negative.

    Not exactly. If God is supposed to be everywhere at all times, but I don’t detect his presence anywhere or anytime I look, doesn’t that at the very least mean that God is not everywhere?



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  • 7
    CdnMacAtheist says:

    @OP: “If we say that based on science I BELIEVE that there is no god, then that’s no better than the christian saying that he believes there is a god.”

    It sure is better, since the religious assertion isn’t based on the scientific method, or reproducibility, or falsifiability, or what counts as facts and evidence – all things that we can rationally test, understand and accept, but we don’t need faith, dogma or revelation to believe them…. Mac.



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  • 8
    whiteraven says:

    They can not prove their case except to someone who is willing to believe nonsense or is incapable of seeing through the baloney. You can not prove your case either although it is more solidly grounded in a methodology that has painted humanity out of the corner of ignorance we started in. No matter how much you paint “god” into an increasingly small corner, the corner is a limit point you can never fill in.

    Unless you can convince them you are the second coming of christ, you won’t have sufficient credibility to change their minds. If you have a choice in the matter, maybe you can find something more productive to do with your time rather than going around in circles?

    I suspect that in most cases the sort of logical arguments that are being suggested will ultimately meet the wall of Faith … god is a transcendent being, beyond space and time, you have to open your mind and soul to the one and only true god and his son the savior and then you will know the truth of its existence.

    Sorry…I omitted a fundamental exception: If you can establish that your interlocutor has a truly open mind, and you can bring the same to the table, you can at least have a worthwhile conversation and who knows where that might lead.



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  • 9
    secularjew says:

    First of all, just because atheists and believers both use terms like “belief” doesn’t mean that they are talking about the same thing. To a rationalist, belief is based on evidence, while religious belief exists in spite of it. The belief that there is no Santa Clause is not the same as the belief that there is one. There is simply no reason to believe in something for which the evidence is bad or non-existent.

    As to whether we can prove there is no God, that’s another matter. It is difficult to prove a negative and it requires having command of information too vast and impossible to gather (for example, try proving to us that you did not commit homocide at some point in your life). In addition, God is defined by believers as elusively as possible so that nothing short of knowing EVERYTHING will suffice. So the burden of proof must be on the believer. After all, if there is reason to believe in something, you must have good reason for doing so. (Sometimes people like Francis Collins say things like, “Much of the universe is a mystery, so it is logical to assume there’s a God”, but that’s a total contradiction because you can’t know and not know at the same time).

    That said, try this argument on for size. There is no God because there’s no such thing as magic. God is a magical creature (supernatural and all that crap) and since there’s no magic, there’s no God. This rephrases the argument and puts the burden of proof back on your adversary. Of course, he or she might simply put it back on you and ask you to prove why there is no such thing as magic. Here you can respond by pointing out that everything in the universe acts according to certain physical laws and there has never been any proof that natural laws can be violated. At this point, your opponent may counter with some bullshit evidence (and may the nonexistent God have mercy on your soul if the fool trods out Quantum Mechanics), but at least you have now hopefully shifted the conversation to actual evidence. Of course, since religious faith exists despite a lack of evidence, it is hard to impossible to use evidence to convince such a person.

    Another way to shift the burden of proof back on the believer is to say that you would be glad to try to prove that there is no God, but since your opponent’s understanding of God is so nebulous, how would he even recognize such proof if it was possible to present it? You should then ask your opponent what he would consider as evidence for God’s nonexistence, thus asking him to come up with counter-evidence for something for which there is no evidence.



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  • I always ask them to tell me who taught them that such a demand is sensible. They never say. I like to think this has the added benefit of making them question other things they may have been taught.

    Mike



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  • 11
    Pauly01 says:

    Your right the evidence has to be proper. It has to be more than ‘there is stuff, therefore god.’
    In reply to #5 by SurLaffaLot:

    In reply to #3 by Pauly01:

    The obvious thing to say is that they are making the assertion so the burden of proof lies with them. If they try to turn it around and say that you are also putting forward an assertion, i.e that God does not exist , tell them when there is evidence to support God then you will believe in it. It’s simple.

    I agree, but not only must there be evidence, but that evidence must be convincing ~ it must meet some criterion/criteria for being both valid, and indicative of what it purports to show. One cannot for instance say, as some theists do: “Just look at the trees and the stars and all of life and miracles etc. etc. Now all of that and more are evidence that ‘God’ exists”. No they are not

    The atheist can see trees, stars life etc., and find their existence compatible with a lack of any god. As for miracles, there have been none that have been confirmed as truly supernatural and from a god. Amazing things happen but it does not make them miraculous.

    So any evidence must be more than just assertions.



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  • 14
    susanlatimer says:

    comment 12 by gospel of judas

    What’s the definition of God that you’re arguing about?

    Yes. What properties are required for something to be referred to as a god?



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  • I forgot to add something else to my post. You have to remember that some people lie, even apologists. Gasp. I’ve met a few who operate under the precept that getting the fish to bite, so to speak (by any means, even deception), is less important than what God will do for them afterward.

    Mike



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  • 16
    EvidenceOnly says:

    I tell everyone who tries to convince me that god exists that a 1 million dollar Nobel Prize is awaiting the first person to ever present verifiable and falsifiable evidence to the Nobel Prize Committee that this committee finds credible after thorough review and independent verification. They then automatically drop the conversation themselves but in the process it teaches them a thing or two about what science really means in contrast to superstition.



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  • 17
    Mormon Atheist says:

    The burden of proof lies on whoever makes their particular assertion first. If you make the statement to someone that god does not exist then the burden of proof lies on you not them. If they make that assertion first then the burden of proof lies with them. Ultimately both of you are in untenable position because neither of you can conclusively prove your case. The question of god and whether or not he exists is something that will never be as black and white as people want it to be. Now don’t misunderstand me I don’t think that it is 50/50 probability that he exists, I think it is far more probable that he doesn’t exist.



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  • 18
    This Is Not A Meme says:

    If we say that based on science I BELIEVE that there is no god,then thats no better than the christian saying that he believes there is a god.

    Yeah, because that’s not what science is for. Philosophy and logic disprove god. God is impossible. There are many refutations, but my favorite is Spinoza. There are no valid arguments for the existence of god, but there is one piece of sophistry yet to be refuted. It’s something like: 1)God is defined as being really cool, the coolest. 2)Existing is cooler than not existing .: God exists by definition. It’s obviously bullshit as an ontological argument, just cute semantics and math (like if the barber shaves everyone who doesn’t shave themselves, it doesn’t mean there’s a beard in superposition).

    Based on logic I ‘KNOW’ there is no god, just as I ‘KNOW’ 2+2=4.



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  • 19
    LEL4190 says:

    paxpoker how you became an atehist? Probably you have seen a lot of logic evidence and many proof’s that convinced you to fact that there is no such thing as god. Just remember those proof’s and use them in discussions with someone. Let’s make it clear. Gathered knowledge about religion and about world, space clearly shows that there can’t be god like god of christianity in the universe! You’re an atheist you should understand that ;]. Logic thinking is your proof and your proof for no GOD is fact that the proof’s that (for example) christians have are completly crazy ( some book from ancient times 😐 ). And something else. There is not even one GOOD proof that god exists. So if there’s nothing how we can accept him?



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  • 20
    This Is Not A Meme says:

    Oh wait… Christians? I was just resolving for any god. With Christians it’s easy, and you can do that with science. Christians believe Jesus could fly like Santa. Science says that’s impossible. You don’t just ‘BELIEVE’ Jesus could not fly, you absolutely know that never happened. You don’t ‘BELIEVE’ the Earth revolves around the Sun. You absolutely fucking know it. To balk at that is just epistemic nihilism and totally retarded.

    Christianity is not a sophisticated belief system. It’s basically hobgoblins and wizards. Some of the best minds in history have dedicated their lives to teasing profundity out of its convoluted texts, and now Christians slouch on the shoulders of these giants and act as if there some great enigma in the Jesus story. There’s not. It’s the Iliad, Beowulf, or Harry Potter. Yes, you know that never happened.



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  • 21
    Uriel-238 says:

    Much like SelfAwarePatterns (or Dawkins, for that matter) I note the examples that are not taken seriously (Santa Claus is a favorite, Thor, Zeus, etc.). Proof, incidentally, is impossible, but one can postulate that something is true based on the amount of evidence that exists for it.

    That said, all side-channel attacks we’ve made towards evidence of any supernatural influence on the universe (including divine miracles) has failed. All evidence points towards a naturalist model of the universe, and these days it would take extraordinary evidence to determine God is more than a psychological artifact (or another name for the non-sentient universe).

    I have found that it’s a good tactic to (at least) acknowledge that, yes, some people accept a given scripture as truth (e.g. Christians and the old or new testaments) and while that may be acceptable for them personally, you choose not to accept anything for which there is little or no evidence (nor do you accept astrology, crystal healing or dowsing as other examples), and nor do you think that such notions (religious or otherwise) should be taught in schools as fact or used to inform public policy, any more than flat earth theory should be used to inform a space program.

    That way, you can at least mark the precise line where you and they can agree to disagree.



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  • 22
    Nodhimmi says:

    In reply to #18 by This Is Not A Meme:

    If we say that based on science I BELIEVE that there is no god,then thats no better than the christian saying that he believes there is a god.

    Yeah, because that’s not what science is for. Philosophy and logic disprove god. God is impossible. There are many refutations, but my favorite is Spinoza. There are no valid arguments for the existence of god, but there is one piece of sophistry yet to be refuted. It’s something like: 1)God is defined as being really cool, the coolest. 2)Existing is cooler than not existing .: God exists by definition. It’s obviously bullshit as an ontological argument, just cute semantics and math (like if the barber shaves everyone who doesn’t shave themselves, it doesn’t mean there’s a beard in superposition).

    Based on logic I ‘KNOW’ there is no god, just as I ‘KNOW’ 2+2=4.

    just as I ‘KNOW’ 2+2=4.

    (but ONLY if the ‘2’s are in phase and non-negative)



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  • 24
    Robert Kubik says:

    Existence of God can not be proved by science. But logical consclusion based on every day observation indicates the Creator. In the previous discussion I have given an example of cell which origin can not be explained by naturalistic law. I admit I believe in God, I can not prove it, but my faith is based on logical thinking and experience.



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  • 25
    5keptical says:

    Ask them to properly define what their god is and can do.

    If they don’t just sputter and avoid answering, you should be able to demonstrate that their god doesn’t exist as they define him (e.g. doesn’t answer prayers) or is irrelevant (just set the universe in motion, or is otherwise ineffable).



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  • 26
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #1 by Pourang:

    A Christian claims there is a God so the Christian has the burden of proof. You’re an observer looking at the universe knowing what you know and have no truth claim without providing evidence for it. This settles the case. We don’t go around and try to disprove over 1700 deities 🙂

    This is the best approach:-

    First ask which god they are claiming. Then ask what distinguishing features it has which distinguishes it from other the thousands of gods, tree spirits etc., and why that one should be more valid than all the conflicting ones.

    If Xtians or other Arbrahamic followers come up with some vague obscure deity – then challenge the:

    “God is immortal, invisible. omnipotent, mysterious and hidden in some gap – therefore the biblical Jesus/Mo. is true”, fallacious thinking.
    Expect the “metaphorical interpretation of words”, and shifting meanings next!

    Evidence, logical reasoning, avoiding fallacies, comprehension of dictionary definitions of words, and recognising the burden of proof in debate, – are not only usually among their skills, but they may also have been taught by preachers of other sheeples to be wary of those with these skills leading them away from TRRRrrroooooo thinking! – (Described as “right reason”- or should that be “rite reason”)

    This is illustrated on the link below.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic-Church-and-evolution

    during the papacy of Pope Pius IX, who defined dogmatically papal infallibility during the First Vatican Council in 1869–70. The council has a section on “Faith and Reason” that includes the following on science and faith:

    “9. Hence all faithful Christians are forbidden to defend as the legitimate conclusions of science those opinions which are known to be contrary to the doctrine of faith, particularly if they have been condemned by the Church; and furthermore they are absolutely bound to hold them to be errors which wear the deceptive appearance of truth.” (Vatican Council I)

    “10. Not only can faith and reason never be at odds with one another but they mutually support each other, for on the one hand right reason established the foundations of the faith and, illuminated by its light, develops the science of divine things; on the other hand, faith delivers reason from errors and protects it and furnishes it with knowledge of many kinds.” (Vatican Council I)

    The Vatican has since, very recently (2004 + 2009), changed from outright denial of evolution, to the fudged unscientific “theistic evolution”, but the underlying teaching of flawed thinking (with its get-out-of-logic + get-out-of-science clauses), remains – as it often does in other churches!

    There is of course this approach for deities with defined claims related to Earth:-

    Absence of Evidence Is Evidence of Absence
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victor-stenger/the-evidence-against-god_b_682169.html



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  • 27
    Dog Boots says:

    Since he’s a Christian – ask him to prove there’s not MORE than one god.

    And of course fairies, Santa Claus, eskimos etc.



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  • 28
    steve_hopker says:

    What is also striking is a ‘spiritual’ or, if preferred, a moral and allegorical response to belief in ‘God’ that stem from deism’s philosophical and scientific fallacies.
    By this I mean a critique that, far from religion promoting virtue and a better appreciation of the wonders of the world, it undermines good conduct and true love for others and the world.
    This is obvious, in the sense that if one seeks guidance from an imagined being, not only is there no external guidance, but, as like as not, one is simply reifying one’s own beliefs, but, unlike observed and tested beliefs, religion allows no reality checking, so people can – and do – commit horrible, or at least uncaring acts on the basis of their own fantasies, or those of charismatic leaders.
    But religion is worse than this – as well as indulging individual or collective psychopathy, by placing a nonexistent being at the centre of one’s life is to live with a vacuum where your heart should be. Likewise, belief in a supreme being that does not exist utterly devalues everyone else – believing others to be the products of an imagined being, we will struggle to ever meet them on their own terms, but rather as ‘souls’ who must be ‘saved.
    And so to the world of nature – created by an imagined God, we cannot grasp its existence for its own sake
    Indeed, it seem the underlying reason why theists want to convert others is to promote their own salvation, and are quite happy to use up / mess up the environment because (in the distorted view of religion) the world only exists for the sake of humanity – who in turn only exist to worship God.
    So, while deism is indeed irrational, its inherent emptiness and rejection of reality corrupts people from the inside, the dreadful consequences of which history amply records.
    Of course, there are many believers who are excellent human beings, who do great works, or create wonderful art or gain scientific insights – and religious organisations likewise. But as has been said before – people are good in spite, not because of religion.



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  • 30
    Simon Tuffen says:

    What’s a “god”?

    Unless you and the person who asks you to provide proof of its non-existence can agree on a definition, it’s a pointless and meaningless challenge.



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  • You could make it a science problem: “explain the evidence that we see relating to Christianity – the existence of the Bible and widespread sincere belief in God and the resurrection”.

    We can divide explanations into two families: those that involve a true resurrection and actual existence of the Christian god; and those that don’t.

    Explanations in the second group don’t introduce great unexplained anomalies: they just require people to behave in the way we already knew they could, thanks to the existence of contradictory religions.

    Explanations in the first group do introduce unexplained anomalies, and huge ones at that. This makes them bad explanations by scientific standards. And they are not just bad explanations in themselves: they also break many of our other accepted explanations for other things: for example, the law of gravity would be changed to introduce an anomaly so that it wouldn’t apply to a particular man in the Middle East on certain occasions two thousand years ago. This makes the first group of explanations less attractive than the second by a margin so large we can call them “ridiculous”.

    This isn’t proof of the non-existence of God but it tries to limit its assumptions to “science works” and “science works in this particular way”.



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  • 32
    SaganTheCat says:

    you can’t prove something doesn’t exist. god is every bit as much as unfalsafiable as fairies, unicorns, mermaids and every single mythalogical god, demi-god or magical beast that christians don’t believe in.

    the question is what makes their god different from the others



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  • 33
    Jesus made a mistake says:

    Try turning this around slightly. Ask what they would accept as the minimum proof for the existence of any other god instead of their one.

    Then ask them if they have a similar level of proof for their god?



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  • Well, the conventional notation ‘2’ means non-negative & zero-phase. Using the trigonometric form would be too clumsy don’t you think 😛

    2(cos0 + isin0) + 2(cos0 + isin0) = 4(cos0 + isin0)

    In reply to #22 by Nodhimmi:

    just as I ‘KNOW’ 2+2=4.
    (but ONLY if the ‘2’s are in phase and non-negative)



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  • 36
    Ornicar says:

    I would go like this : A belief is a representation of the world. If no conceivable change in the world would alter your belief system, then your beliefs have no relation with the reality of the world.



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  • 37
    Cairsley says:

    The most irritating thing about debates on the existence of God is that no-one bothers to state what he or she is talking about. What is a god, after all? If that question is satisfactorily answered, it becomes much easier to answer the question: Is there a god?

    The available evidence is then the only basis on which that question can be answered. If a god is understood as anything supernatural or otherwise inaccessible to our means of enquiry (and that is usually how it is understood), there is no reason to believe that it exists. Religious people who make a fuss about some such god they believe in can only be regarded as delusional.



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  • 38
    Reckless Monkey says:

    Posts above have plenty to say about logic etc. So I won’t go over the same ground.

    You will come across people claiming the Historicity of Christ. That is oral tradition in Jewish (largely illiterate) culture keeps stories alive intact for longer than the gap between when the crucifixion happens and when the first books were written. Therefore we can trust Jesus, existed, carried out miracles rose from the dead. This may be so, but doesn’t discount people lying, and the fact that this story was only believed by the Christians. Why did no Jews or Romans report all the dead of Jerusalem rising, walking around and greeting their old friends. If oral tradition why are their so many contradictions in the stories of Jesus’s birth and death?

    They will also argue that there is as little evidence for say Socrates as Jesus, here you can point out that while this is true, we cannot know other than by second hand accounts, what he says is all that counts, it doesn’t matter if he existed or someone else made up his stuff latter, its still just as good. Likewise for Shakespeare people are arguing about it being written by another, well it doesn’t change Hamlet one bit if it was.

    It does make a very big difference if Jesus was in fact his own father (having impregnated his own mother) on a suicide quest commanded by himself to save those he has condemned to eternal torture for not taking responsibility for their sins (like eating shellfish or using his name as a swear word) they haven’t committed yet, in fact not even born yet in most cases, but they will be, (some will die during childbirth he knows this to but that has to happen for some reason also) and being omnipotent he knows ahead to time exactly what sins they will commit and if we will use their free will to believe in him or not as the case may be.

    No I’m not believing that lot without very, very good evidence.



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  • 39
    crookedshoes says:

    The onus is not on you. Google “the celestial teapot”. Talk about the FSM. We have been over this on this site a thousand times; you should try to back search this on the site and read the comments.

    You cannot disprove a negative. It is illogical. If the assertion is so obviously true, it should be a site easier to prove the positive assertion. ie. If god exists, there should be proof. Oranges exist. Dogs exist. Shit, viruses exist. God??? Well, let’s just say that the evidence SHOULD be obvious and overwhelming.



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  • 40
    Zeuglodon says:

    In reply to #6 by blitz442:

    In reply to #4 by adiroth:

    It is impossible to prove the negative.

    Not exactly. If God is supposed to be everywhere at all times, but I don’t detect his presence anywhere or anytime I look, doesn’t that at the very least mean that God is not everywhere?

    Well, it’s impossible to prove a negative beyond outright contradiction. If I say there isn’t a duck ten feet in front of me right now, that could be disproved by contradiction (in this case, it would be disproved if there really was a duck ten feet in front of me right now).

    The more comprehensive point is that one can’t make an argument from ignorance – in other words, you can’t use a lack of knowledge as a basis for postulating knowledge, because that’s contradictory. You have to at least use confirmed knowledge to postulate knowledge in the gap by extrapolation, correlation with pre-existing patterns, or analogy, which is the method of inference.

    This is what scientists do when they postulate hypotheses before testing them against experimental and empirical evidence. And that depends on the truthfulness and validity of pre-existing knowledge, which is why you have to be careful to avoid using unjustified extrapolations, the least parsimonous patterns that fit the data, or weak or contestable analogies.

    This argument from ignorance is the basis for “god-of-the-gaps” style arguments like the one my friend Robert Kubik is posting up there. He claims cells are too complex to have evolved, and that a creator made them, but has not proven that cells are too complex to have evolved (merely asserted that), doesn’t seem to understand how evolution works, forgets that cells are built up from basic elements upwards, discards the case for natural abiogenesis, and has no independent proof such a creator even existed, let alone did anything.

    Presumably he’s using Paley’s watch or the designer analogy as an argument, which is a bad analogy because it uses the thing we’re trying to explain as the explanation for the thing we’re trying to explain (which is unparsimonious and uses a single data – human designers among the animal kingdom – to make a non-parsimonious pattern of designer making designer, which it then claims exists), and we can prove that humans exist and design things (which is what weakens the analogy).



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  • 41
    Don Quijote says:

    Let me guess. The God that is the creator just happens to be the God that you believe in. Your assertion that God can not be proved by science is false. Faith and logical thinking are incompatible.In reply to #24 by Robert Kubik:

    Existence of God can not be proved by science. But logical consclusion based on every day observation indicates the Creator. In the previous discussion I have given an example of cell which origin can not be explained by naturalistic law. I admit I believe in God, I can not prove it, but my faith is based on logical thinking and experience.



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  • 42
    Zeuglodon says:

    In reply to #41 by Don Quijote:

    Let me guess. The God that is the creator just happens to be the God that you believe in.

    Probably. He’s spent most of this thread discussing with me, Alan, rrh1306, and a few other users why the historical evidence of the bible and christian proselytizing leads inescapably to one conclusion: Jesus rose from the dead.

    I understand science isn’t usually inclusive of history in most people’s eyes, but I agree with Jerry Coyne and Sam Harris that they have enough overlapping criteria and methodology to be put together. Both are ways of establishing the truth of claims using principles such as parsimony and evidence, both are about establishing truthfulness rather than what one would like to be true or feels must be true or merely speculates is true, and both enable us to understand our world through the application of reason and logic.

    So, in one case, he’s claiming science can’t prove god, and then in another case using science to prove god. Make of that what you will.



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  • 43
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #24 by Robert Kubik:

    Existence of God can not be proved by science.

    Not a single one of them! – (Apart from a few delusion centres in the brain which neuroscientists have identified.)

    But logical consclusion based on every day observation indicates the Creator.

    You need to brush up on the definitions of “evidence” and “logical reasoning” to avoid repeating fallacious – assertions as was pointed out on this discussion. http://www.www.richarddawkins.net/discussions/2013/1/17/non-believer-to-beliver#
    Repeatedly asserted wishful thinking is not “evidence” of anything (other that the poster’s determination to believe fairy stories, regardless of the evidence or reasoning presented by others).

    In the previous discussion I have given an example of cell which origin can not be explained by naturalistic law.

    Actually on that discussion you just ignored all the explanations and links to the scientific evidence, and carried on asserting your personal incredulity.

    I admit I believe in God, I can not prove it, but my faith is based on logical thinking and experience.

    Logic is a deductive process, NOT a badge of authority to stamp on to vacuous assertions.

    You really must work at learning the definitions of words!

    FAITH = Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Faith

    EVIDENCE =

    • ground for belief or disbelief; data on which to base proof or to establish truth or falsehood
    • a mark or sign that makes evident; indication his pallor was evidence of ill health
    • (Law) Law matter produced before a court of law in an attempt to prove or disprove a point in issue, such as the statements of witnesses, documents, material objects, etc.

    You could define the properties of this claimed god for a start!



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  • 44
    Poltiser says:

    Scientific statement is different: there is no evidence of god’s existence. That is enough. Science is not about believe. A person can have an opinion based on evidence, but it is not a believe. There is a semantic difference between Christian and scientific believe. The word means something different.



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  • 45
    canadian_right says:

    The question of evil proves logically that the christian god does not exist. God is omnipotent, benevolent, and omniscient according to christians. As much evil does exist in the world, evil that free will cannot explain away, god must either: not care about evil, not be able to doing anything to stop evil, or not know about the evil. As any one of these cases contradicts the christian god’s attributes it must not exist.



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  • 46
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #40 by Zeuglodon:

    It is impossible to prove the negative.

    Not exactly. If God is supposed to be everywhere at all times, but I don’t detect his presence anywhere or anytime I look, doesn’t that at the very least mean that God is not everywhere?

    Well, it’s impossible to prove a negative beyond outright contradiction. If I say there isn’t a duck ten feet in front of me right now, that could be disproved by contradiction (in this case, it would be disproved if there really was a duck ten feet in front of me right now).

    It is worth emphasising the disproof by contradictory positive. Not only is it disproved if there is a duck there, but it is disproved if something , such as a large block of glass, IS there, precluding the presence of a duck. Likewise, I can prove I was not in New York at a certain time, if I can prove I was in London at that time. (Normal legal alibi)



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  • 47
    The Jersey Devil says:

    Let’s get to the point, shall we?

    Biological Evolution and Biblical Creationism are mutually exclusive. Either we evolved via a slow process or we were created from dirt all at once. It can not be both.

    Every bit of evidence for Biological Evolution is not only a nail in the coffin for the non-existent Biblical Creator but also undermines the integrity of the supposed infallible Bible.



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  • 48
    Chris Squire says:

    You may find it helpful to look at the Wikipedia pages that explain the many different views one can hold on the God Question; in particular the one on Deism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism which is a better place to start when arguing with a person of faith: ‘the belief that reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of God, accompanied with the rejection of revelation and authority as a source of religious knowledge.’ Nowadays in Britain most people are either Deists, Agnostics or Atheists and discussion of this issue has almost ceased.

    See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre-Simon_Laplace#I_had_no_need_of_that_hypothesis a famous but apocryphal answer to the God Question.



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  • 49
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #24 by Robert Kubik:

    Existence of God can not be proved by science. But logical consclusion based on every day observation indicates the Creator.

    This is an assertion which creates a burden upon you to back up with actual evidence.

    In the previous discussion I have given an example of cell which origin can not be explained by naturalistic law.

    This is NOT evidence for your claim. Not in any way. Zero, zilch, nada. Even IF you were right (and you ARE NOT – science can and does explain the origin of the cell. You have been provided many links to back that up.) DISproving another claim is ENTIRELY DIFFERENT from proving your own. If – hypothetically – you could absolutely, beyond a shadow of a doubt, prove that no current naturalistic explanation can account for cell origins AND you would still have ZERO evidence that YOUR explanation, i.e. “God” is therefore right. You do not win by default. It is possible for the answer to be , “We do not know. All explanations we currently have fail.”

    (By the way even absent any explanation at all, I can state categorically that there MUST BE a naturalistic explanation for cell origins. We observe cells. They are part of nature. They must have come from somewhere. Whatever their origin, it must have been “naturalistic” because it had an effect in nature. If you COULD come up with proof of God, that entity would definitionally ALSO be part of nature, and therefore, naturalistic. “Supernatural” is a logically impossible concept.)

    You claim to reach a conclusion based on logic and observation, but to do so, YOU ARE REQIRED to provide positive evidence for God. Anything else is simply an assertion and a leap of faith like any other. Your claims to logic are false.

    I admit I believe in God, I can not prove it, but my faith is based on logical thinking and experience.

    No. Your faith is based on faith. Your logic is false. The two phrases “I cannot prove it” and “my faith is based on logical thinking” are mutually exclusive.You cannot have it both ways. You are deluding yourself that your faith is rational. Faith is irrational BY DEEFINITION. If you have logical reasons for holding a belief, you DO NOT HAVE FAITH. Period.

    So far you have not provided any logically valid arguments for God stemming from verifiable observation. (Don’t feel bad nobody else everhas, in the entire history of thought.) Either them or stop claiming to be rational in your belief.

    You may start by giving a clear definition of God. It is impossible to logically support the existence of an undefined concept.



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  • 50
    Zeuglodon says:

    In reply to #47 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #40 by Zeuglodon:

    It is impossible to prove the negative.

    Not exactly. If God is supposed to be everywhere at all times, but I don’t detect his presence anywhere or anytime I look, doesn’t that at the very least mean that God is not everywhere?

    Well, it’s impossible to prove a negative beyond outright contradiction. If I say there isn’t a duck ten feet in front of me right now, that could be disproved by contradiction (in this case, it would be disproved if there really was a duck ten feet in front of me right now).

    It is worth emphasising the disproof by contradictory positive. Not only is it disproved if there is a duck there, but it is disproved if something , such as a large block of glass, IS there, precluding the presence of a duck. Likewise, I can prove I was not in New York at a certain time, if I can prove I was in London at that time. (Normal legal alibi)

    Darn, you just made me realize I went off on a tangent in my comment there. I should have said that the negative would be proved if you could show that the space ten feet in front of me right now actually was empty of duck. I was supposed to show how a negative could be proved, as in your case of the legal alibi. My mistake, and thanks for bringing me on track!



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  • 51
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #17 by bjchiaro50:

    The burden of proof lies on whoever makes their particular assertion first.

    No. It’s not a question of who spoke first. It is a question of who makes a positive claim, regardless of the order of speakers.

    “There is a god” is a positive claim. It asserts something which requires evidence. It hypothesizes the existence of an “entity” (to use Occam’s term, it basically means any distinct thing or concept.) Basic logic requires us to reject all claims of unobserved “entities” until we are forced by evidence to accept them. In order to substantiate a positive claim, the claimant (i.e. any theist) has two separate burdens. First, to define the entitiy (“god” in this case), and second to demonstrate through logic and observation that the specified entity MUST exist. That no explanation without that entity can possibly account for observation. These burdens CANNOT logically be shifted away from the positive claim.

    “There is no god” is a different sort of claim. It is dependent upon the first assertion for it’s existence. It is impossible to claim that a god does not exist in the absence of any assertion that one does. The concept “god” must first be in play BEFORE it can be denied. In this sense, “there is no god” is a negative assertion. It DOES NOT assume any burden because it does not propose an entity. It makes no assertion, it is the rejection of an assertion. Whether the positive assertion was “made first” is irrelevant. It is necessarily implied, as the entire discussion is literally impossible without it.

    It is IMPOSSIBLE to shift the burden to the atheist. Any attempt to do so is sophistry and poor logic. Even so called “positive atheism” is still asserting the absence of an entity rather than proposing one. No burden can attach to such a claim.

    In a sense, this is what is meant by “you cannot prove a negative.” It is impossible to prove a negative assertion, because it is impossible to MAKE a negative assertion.

    That being said, in some cases, the atheist can make a positive argument against the existence of a “god.” But only where this argument is a refutation of an explicit or implicit theistic claim. (Attempting such arguments IS NOT the same thing as accepting the burden of proof, which is impossible.) Once a definition of the specific “god” under discussion is agreed upon, it becomes possible to consider whether the claimed entity is falsifiable and therefore capable of disproof. Some versions of “god” can be disproved – either because they are logically inconsistent by definition (i.e. omnipotent AND omnibenevolent in a universe where suffering exists) or because the god – as defined – relies on falsified claims (i.e. a young earth creationist god.)

    paxpoker:

    DO NOT FALL FOR THIS TRICK! “I believe there is a god” is NOT equivalent to “I believe there is no god.” the two types of “belief” are opposite in nature. Make this clear to anyone who tries to shift the burden. The default position is always “no entity which cannot be demonstrated may be assumed to exist.” “God” is no different in this respect than any other hypothetical entity (i.e. Russell’s teapot, the dragon in Sagan’s garage, the Loch Ness Monster, fairies, etc.) If neither of you can “prove” your side, the side making the claim always loses. Always. That is logic.

    As a side note, I would also add that any rational “belief” no matter how firmly grounded should be conditional and open to change with new evidence. The atheist may freely admit that some version of a “god” or “gods” – if logically possible – may exist somewhere in the universe and future evidence to that effect will be examined with an open mind.



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  • In reply to #52 by lou.tompkins1:

    …it may seem unfair that God’s children have to suffer under the reign of the false prophet and the antichrist…”

    If antichrist and regular christ shook hands would they annihilate each other?



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  • 53
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #52 by lou.tompkins1:

    There is God and He is going to prove it to you all. Here is His last message to us.

    Did you write the words of this message? Are you claiming to be god? If not, what gives you the right to speak for him? Why do you get to write messages from God and I don’t? If I wrote a message from God and posted it here, would you believe it? If not, why should I believe yours?

    If you didn’t write the actual words of this message, who did? If you claim it is “Jesus” or “God” how do you know? Why is “Jesus” referring to me as his daughter? How do I know you are not Satan trying to lead me astray with a false message? How do I know you are not Loki playing tricks? How may I independently verify authorship? If I could verify it, how would I know “God” of “Jesus” is telling the truth? In the 2000 years that people have been claiming that “Jesus” will come again, it hasn’t happened. Why should I believe this warning, when all the other predictions of this second coming have proven false?

    How long before the Mods slay you for TOS violations?



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  • 54
    Zeuglodon says:

    In reply to #58 by lou.tompkins1:

    This site is for rational discussion and debate, not for preaching. If you must post, then contribute to the discussion constructively, please.



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  • 55
    This Is Not A Meme says:

    In reply to #34 by kbala:

    Well, the conventional notation ‘2’ means non-negative & zero-phase. Using the trigonometric form would be too clumsy don’t you think 😛

    2(cos0 + isin0) + 2(cos0 + isin0) = 4(cos0 + isin0)

    In reply to #22 by Nodhimmi:

    just as I ‘KNOW’ 2+2=4.
    (but ONLY if the ‘2’s are in phase and non-negative)

    this is getting awesome.



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  • 57
    This Is Not A Meme says:

    In reply to #56 by BanJoIvie:

    How long before the Mods slay you for TOS violations?

    Is Mod willing to prevent TOS violations, but not able? Is he able, but not willing? Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh TOS violations? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him Mod?



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  • 58
    Katy Cordeth says:

    There is God and He is going to prove it to you all. Here is His last message to us.

    I thought this was God’s last message to us.

    It made Marvin happy.



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  • 59
    This Is Not A Meme says:

    In reply to #24 by Robert Kubik:

    Existence of God can not be proved by science.

    Correct.

    But logical consclusion based on every day observation indicates the Creator.

    Then please collect your Nobel Prize. Logic is a format practice that can be written down. You can share this with everyone. I think you are misusing the term logic to mean folksy-reasoning. At first sight i figure you are either making an unsubstantiated agency assumption, or appealing to ignorance. These are formal logical fallacies.

    In the previous discussion I have given an example of cell which origin can not be explained by naturalistic law.

    No you didn’t, or else you would be eligible for a Nobel Prize. Irreducible complexity is one of many falsification devices for evolution, not an argument. As it happens, evolution has not been falsified.

    I admit I believe in God, I can not prove it, but my faith is based on logical thinking and experience.

    If it were based on logic it would not be faith. Please learn that words have precise meanings.



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  • 60
    Zeuglodon says:

    If we say that based on science I BELIEVE that there is no god,then thats no better than the christian saying that he believes there is a god.

    Belief implies that there’s an option. Reason doesn’t give an option; it forces you to accept certain claims as true based on evidence, proof, and observation. Even the most devoted believers give reasons for taking their beliefs seriously, albeit not very good ones, and often while trying to pass off the very process they’re using as “just another way of knowing”. The result of this is schizophrenic: that you get (often the same) believers all over the place, sometimes trying to claim their views are beyond reason or that reason is cast into doubt, and other times trying to use reason to bolster their beliefs. The only choice is whether you go along with what’s true or you go along with what you want or intuit to be true.

    To put it bluntly, science and reason are true regardless of who you are, where you are, when you lived, or what you personally believe. Religions are only “true” to specific cultures and groups of people who were brought up or exposed to their tenets too early to make up their own minds.

    In reply to #62 by This Is Not A Meme:

    In reply to #56 by BanJoIvie:

    How long before the Mods slay you for TOS violations?

    Is Mod willing to prevent TOS violations, but not able? Is he able, but not willing? Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh TOS violations? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him Mod?

    That’s Epicurus, isn’t it?

    In reply to #63 by Katy Cordeth:

    There is God and He is going to prove it to you all. Here is His last message to us.

    I thought this was God’s last message to us.

    It made Marvin happy.

    But the babelfish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? The babelfish proves God exists, and therefore he doesn’t. Therefore, he couldn’t leave a last message to his creation. QED.



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  • Another way to look at it is to observe that any non-imaginary entity has measurable characteristics, and these characteristics can be examined, studied, evaluated. What, then, are ‘God(s) characteristics?
    No characteristics? = no mythical super being.

    rz



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  • 63
    G_Crotty says:

    Science is about the exploration of the reality we live in. We observe, create a hypothesis, test and make conclusions. This helps us understand our reality and interestingly enough we are indirectly trying to prove that god exists with everything we do scientifically. If god truely existed, there should be some piece of evidence, some fingerprint but yet nothing. Therefore the question to ask a chritian is not “can you prove there is a god” but “what evidence do you have that you exist”. Therefore this leaves us with the facts that Science proves that we exist, and science has yet to prove that god exists.



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  • 64
    Nodhimmi says:

    In reply to #60 by This Is Not A Meme:

    In reply to #34 by kbala:

    Well, the conventional notation ‘2’ means non-negative & zero-phase. Using the trigonometric form would be too clumsy don’t you think 😛

    2(cos0 + isin0) + 2(cos0 + isin0) = 4(cos0 + isin0)

    In reply to #22 by Nodhimmi:

    just as I ‘KNOW’ 2+2=4.
    (but ONLY if the ‘2’s are in phase and non-negative)

    this is getting awesome.

    Lovely! How about similar cliches trotted out without a moment of thought?

    My favourite- “There’s nothing worse than_____” where the blank is invariably slightly less serious than terminal cancer…

    Sorry, wandering well off topic now



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  • 66
    Zeuglodon says:

    In reply to #66 by JHJEFFERY:

    That’s Epicurus, isn’t it?

    Yes, as quoted in Lactantius’ Divine Instittutes c. 306 CE. Good catch.

    Neat. Epicurus deserves more recognition, I feel, for being one of the first philosophers to propose atomic theory ahead of his time – though to be fair, he did get that from Democritus. Certainly not for that dreadful misinterpretation of his ethics that gave us the word “Epicurean”, with its suggestion of hedonistic overindulgence.

    In reply to #70 by Nodhimmi:

    Poor Robert is getting a jolly good kicking here but I doubt it will improve his thinking skills!

    I can’t say I’m entirely comfortable with it. Granted, people should be allowed to post disagreements if they want, but five responses against this one poster feels like we’re intimidating him through numbers, and I get the impression he would have gone unnoticed if I hadn’t mentioned him first. He’s entitled to his own breathing space, too.



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  • 67
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #68 by G_Crotty:

    If god truely existed, there should be some piece of evidence, some fingerprint but yet nothing. Therefore the question to ask a christian is not “can you prove there is a god” but “what evidence do you have that you exist”. Therefore this leaves us with the facts that Science proves that we exist, and science has yet to prove that god exists.

    Actually science is in the process of proving “gods exist”. It’s just that it’s not where theists would like to recognise their god delusions as existing!

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419091223.htm

    Apr. 18, 2012 — Scientists have speculated that the human brain features a “God spot,” one distinct area of the brain responsible for spirituality. Now, University of Missouri researchers have completed research that indicates spirituality is a complex phenomenon, and multiple areas of the brain are responsible for the many aspects of spiritual experiences

    “We have found a neuropsychological basis for spirituality, but it’s not isolated to one specific area of the brain,” said Brick Johnstone, professor of health psychology in the School of Health Professions. “Spirituality is a much more dynamic concept that uses many parts of the brain. Certain parts of the brain play more predominant roles, but they all work together to facilitate individuals’ spiritual experiences.”

    He surveyed participants on characteristics of spirituality, such as how close they felt to a higher power and if they felt their lives were part of a divine plan. He found that the participants with more significant injury to their right parietal lobe showed an increased feeling of closeness to a higher power.

    Johnstone says the right side of the brain is associated with self-orientation, whereas the left side is associated with how individuals relate to others. Although Johnstone studied people with brain injury, previous studies of Buddhist meditators and Franciscan nuns with normal brain function have shown that people can learn to minimize the functioning of the right side of their brains to increase their spiritual connections during meditation and prayer.

    In addition, Johnstone measured the frequency of participants’ religious practices, such as how often they attended church or listened to religious programs. He measured activity in the frontal lobe and found a correlation between increased activity in this part of the brain and increased participation in religious practices.

    “This finding indicates that spiritual experiences are likely associated with different parts of the brain,” Johnstone said.

    Gods are not in remote inaccessible “gaps”. They are really close to believers – inside their heads – even if the hidden god-delusions tell their believers to direct attention as far away as possible – to far off times in the distant universe or in ancient history.

    Once the location of these theistic gods is scientifically confirmed, they cannot be attributed with creating the universe, – merely creating a circular feed-back illusion of omnipotence in the believer’s brain!



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  • 69
    astrophysics says:

    I don’t see why it is impossible to prove any specific god’s non-existence. All that’s necessary is to take the supposed characteristics of it and prove them self-contradictory.
    Russel’s teapot analogy isn’t a perfect one. In religion, the ‘teapot’ is given very obvious properties that should have far reaching effects in a limited region. If we don’t see them, the ‘teapot’ doesn’t exist.



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  • 70
    susanlatimer says:

    @Zeuglodon

    I can’t say I’m entirely comfortable with it. Granted, people should be allowed to post disagreements if they want, but five responses against this one poster feels like we’re intimidating him through numbers,

    It always bothers me a little too, although I’ve participated in it more than once. There’s just no way for a person to show up on a site like this, make statements like Robert makes, ignore the responses throughout several discussions, and not get dogpiled by other visitors here.

    The errors in his thinking are exactly what this thread is trying to deal with.

    I have a soft spot for him for a couple of reasons. One is that he is one against many. The other is that there is a part of him that seems to have invested considerable energy into trying to figure out what’s true about the world and that he’s been fed falsehoods by people who claim to be experts and who frame mainstream science as some kind of conspiracy to deny the existence of Yahweh.

    I hope he keeps investigating and learns more about chemistry, biology and history.

    The most frustrating thing about where Robert is right now is that he still doesn’t seem to have become familiar with how science is done. Or what logic and reason are.

    There are a lot of lies to sift through and bad methodology. It’s a long climb up. I hope he benefits from the gentle (and not so gentle) prompts he’s been given here. I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

    [Response to subsequently deleted post edited out by moderator]



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  • 71
    crookedshoes says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
    HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH
    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH….etc……

    Let me try one:

    All who are to be will not be until one has to be the generator of the numeratory promenade for the only way to see truth is in the world of another’s excision. Proton gradients and expert analysis are needed to partially unobfuscate the tertiary sidebars of the callous atheists world view. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAH…. I could go on forever.

    AND SAY NOTHING.

    In reply to #75 by leeachilles02:

    I will say that the words all of us give on this page prove only the truth of words. If life is more important than words all of you are nothing, I know that knowledge must be based on information, and information for it to exsist must be bases on some thing that exsists. For example, the 0 and 1 in the computer has to be real as the electrons have to exsist. This means nothing as if you reject god as this website does, what is the point, you all want to protect something or some one, or why live. If your life wants to protect something then you are a victim as we all are, god is just the extreme , god is the extreme trying to protect. If you want words to solve the problems of the universe, please prove us all wrong, truth is what it is, no god can deny truth, so save us all, take the truth and save us all or shut up and lie. I do not care, you are all in it for what the words in this reply can give you what you believe or what you are forced to believe. I just see a lot of people who will discuss anything as long as they will get what they want. Sorry about this, but it is truth, save the universe or shut up, and if you do not believe in god, shut up, because if you dont you are just part of the problem.



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  • 72
    susanlatimer says:

    That was close to perfect crookedshoes except right here at the end:

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAH…. I could go on forever.

    AND SAY NOTHING.

    Too clear. You used sentences and punctuation. 🙂



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  • 73
    jjbircham says:

    I would use something similar to the ontological argument.
    God, by definition, is the most impressive thing that can ever appear to exist, something which does not exist that can appear to exist is far more impressive than something which actually exists appearing to exist, therefore god does not exist.

    When they laugh at this absurdity point them to the ontological argument and how this stupid logic was considered valid by the sort of people who wanted to believe in god for centuries, even by those still considered as “great philosophers and theologians. i don’t think one can find a more damning indictment of the woolly thinking of the theist.



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  • 74
    Stuart M. says:

    Most religious people I meet are too intellectually challenged to understand one can’t prove a negative. I usually try this tack: God behaves exactly in the way we would expect someone or something that doesn’t exist behaves. We can’t see him, hear him, touch him, taste him or smell him. To me, the clearest evidence that God doesn’t exist is the hundreds of photos all over the Internet showing galaxies that are colliding with each other. One has to imagine the scale of these collisions and the massive rearranging of stars that is going on. Why would any deity bother doing this? Did he make a mistake the first time? Why is he playing this galactic pinball, is he bored? No, the only possible answer is God is behaving exactly how we would expect someone or something that doesn’t exist behaves. No, God isn’t working in mysterious ways, he is behaving precisely like someone who doesn’t exist.



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  • 75
    achromat666 says:

    I’m sure this has been dissected to hell, but I haven’t been on in a while so…

    When I say to a christian ,provide proof there is a god,the answer is often,provide proof there is no god.

    The answer isn’t an answer, its a diversion and deflection. For many it represents a fundamental lack of ability to make any such credible case on even the most basic grounds so they don’t try. Bearing in mind that no credible case exists.

    How do we prove that there is no god?

    It has already been established one cannot prove a negative. Indeed, the onus on proving the unproven always defaults to the person making the positive assertion. If I claimed a gnome on my head made it rain, it wouldn’t be science’s place to disprove the improbable gnome. It would be up to me to prove that he was real.

    If we say that based on science I BELIEVE that there is no god,then thats no better than the christian saying that he believes there is a god.

    Seldom do most people that I regularly see here use the term believe when referring to science in general much less on this assertion. The atheist making the assertion regarding belief and science would be equating the two when the ideas are in no way equal or compatible. I don’t believe in science. I don’t have to. The beauty of science is what is true does not change whether I believe it or not.

    Science is a constant process of checking the facts, religion relies on beliefs that most theist avoid putting up to scrutiny, because they don’t stand up to such rigors. No comparison.



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  • 76
    sbooder says:

    Which god are we talking about? there are so many not to believe in.

    I still think CH put it best.

    “That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”



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  • 77
    susanlatimer says:

    Nice to see you here, achromat.

    It has been dissected to death, but your contribution is as clear as can be and it can’t be said often enough.



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  • 78
    susanlatimer says:

    @sbooder comment 83

    Which god are we talking about? there are so many not to believe in.

    Last night, I submitted a discussion with the title, “What is a god?”

    I’m fairly sure it was rejected for one of or both of these reasons:

    1) It was not very well written. (It wasn’t. I was tired. The word makes my head spin the harder I try to make sense of it and I have developed an almost visceral reaction to it because it doesn’t really seem to mean anything and I was trying to chase down in a brief discussion post some of the things it often refers to. I’m pretty sure I did a terrible job. )

    2) While I was sleeping, that question was brought up repeatedly on this thread (which I am happy to see) and my discussion topic would have divided the point.

    The whole idea of “You can’t prove there is no God” is absurd. Even though there is no evidence whatsoever for a mind behind our universe, let’s say that there still is one and that our ability to recognize “mind” outside of our definitions means it lies outside of our ability to recognize it in our questions and the evidence we gather based on those questions.

    Why call it “God” or a “god”? There are so many not to believe in. You’re right.

    The trouble is that there’s no reason to call any of them “god”s. It’s a simple matter of making a claim about an entity. Then providing evidence for that claim.

    The word “god” contributes nothing to that process.

    When I hear the challenge, “Prove there isn’t God”, even before I get to “You can’t prove a negative.” I wonder, “Prove there isnt a WHAT?”

    Every “god” represents a strawman to every other “god” belief. The word is a smoke screen. It means nothing.

    No discussion is served by it. I want to boycott the word. Let them make claims and provide evidence. or at least logic to support their claims. The word “god” has never served this process.



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  • 79
    susanlatimer says:

    our ability to recognize “mind” outside of our definitions means it lies outside of our ability

    Of course, I meant “our inability to recognize mind might be because our definitions of and questions about mind are still so limited”.

    Or something like that.

    That’s the terrible writing to which I referred earlier. 🙂



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  • 82
    Simon Tuffen says:

    Tell the Christian you can’t prove his god doesn’t exist any more than he can’t prove that Allah, Zeus, Thor and the Sugar Plum Fairy don’t exist.



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  • 83
    Matrix7 says:

    This is an easy one. For a thing to exist, it must do so self-evidently. Things that exist exhibit consistent properties that one may determine directly or by their interaction with other things that exist. So, people exist because their physical presence is self-evident; likewise other real objects.

    On the other hand, gods exhibit no consistently observable properties by which they may be determined self-evidently to exist. Therefore they do not exist.

    Now a religious person might claim that such an approach precludes the existence of evanescent things such as “love”, but such things are often self-evident to those subject to them. Thus such things may pass the self-evident test, whereas gods cannot.



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  • 84
    Zeuglodon says:

    In reply to #77 by susanlatimer:

    I have a soft spot for him for a couple of reasons. One is that he is one against many. The other is that there is a part of him that seems to have invested considerable energy into trying to figure out what’s true about the world and that he’s been fed falsehoods by people who claim to be experts and who frame mainstream science as some kind of conspiracy to deny the existence of Yahweh.

    I’m a little more sceptical about that. His exchanges with me on another thread suggest to me a distinct lack of curiosity in anything that contradicts his beliefs.

    In reply to #80 by jjbircham:

    I would use something similar to the ontological argument.
    God, by definition, is the most impressive thing that can ever appear to exist, something which does not exist that can appear to exist is far more impressive than something which actually exists appearing to exist, therefore god does not exist.

    When they laugh at this absurdity point them to the ontological argument and how this stupid logic was considered valid by the sort of people who wanted to believe in god for centuries, even by those still considered as “great philosophers and theologians. i don’t think one can find a more damning indictment of the woolly thinking of the theist.

    I think Dawkins made a similar point in TGD; he was quoting an Australian philosopher on how God’s awesome achievement in creating the universe was even more impressive because he had the ultimate handicap of non-existence. “He was being funny on purpose” indeed. 😀



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  • 85
    SaganTheCat says:

    another response i like to the damand of proof from believers, is to ask them, not even to prove that god exists, just prove they believe in god

    it’s more of a wind up than serious point of debate but lots of fun.



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  • 86
    steve_hopker says:

    [sorry for posting errors above, meant to edit paragraph beginning ‘In other words’ to say ‘(as opposed to the rehearsal of well known ideas) CAN start…’ etc]



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  • 87
    steve_hopker says:

    In reply to #94 by steve_hopker:

    OKCancelIn reply to #50 by BanJoIvie:

    In reply to #24 by Robert Kubik:

    “Supernatural” is a logically impossible concept.)

    I admit I believe in God, I can not prove it, but my faith is based on logical thinking and experience.

    No. Your faith is based on faith. Your logic is false…. Faith is irrational BY DEEFINITION. If you have logical reasons for holding a belief, you DO NOT HAVE FAITH. Period.

    You may start by giving a clear definition of God. It is impossible to logically support the existence of an undefined concept.

    I think BanJolvie’s reply to Kubik shows up the gulf there is here, in that arguably without agreement on terms any dialogue between theists and atheists cannot really get going – perhaps making more detailed rebuttals either way superfluous (appeals to selection vs design).

    In other words, are there other words or concepts around words that have shared meaning? I’m not sure: theistic definitions of God seems often / always to claim indefinability, whereas atheists (such as myself or, I think, BanJovie, cannot accept that engaged discussion (as opposed to the rehearsal of well known ideas) cannot start without some agreed or at least clear meanings.

    I don’t think this a matter of ‘science’ versus’ poetic’ or other allusive meanings, as I think is sometimes suggested by theists. The Bible itself uses plenty of poetic language, much of it very powerful (take Psalm 23,. But I’d claim that poetry is, if anything, a more precise or heightened use of language than everyday speech.

    So, is there a common language that theists and atheists can use about religion – and perhaps also science (and poetry!) – or are we doomed to be speaking, shouting even, but never hearing?

    This is not a trivial matter – religious voices are seemingly raised v in many quarters, not least the USA and parts of south west Asia, many parts of Africa and are connected with a lot of conflict. When atheists do speak out, this is often again projected as being loud, intrusive even. Is there hope of more measured and real dialogue?

    I guess that takes us back to the shared meaning problems.



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  • 88
    Zeuglodon says:

    In reply to #95 by steve_hopker:

    I don’t think this a matter of ‘science’ versus’ poetic’ or other allusive meanings, as I think is sometimes suggested by theists. The Bible itself uses plenty of poetic language, much of it very powerful (take Psalm 23,. But I’d claim that poetry is, if anything, a more precise or heightened use of language than everyday speech.

    Using poetry, when that poetry relies on a clear meaning that can be expressed in everyday speech, is no excuse. Of course there’s a common language, but it’s not in the interests of those whose views would not survive the exposure of clear language to use it. Theology is a prime example, as it’s the art of dressing up the unbelievable so that it looks respectable to anyone who doesn’t analyse it too closely.



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  • 89
    Ferdinand Bardamu says:

    first of all excuse my english its not so good.
    I think theoretically we can do that. If god had sent prophets to represent it self, then it must be aware of itself. I mean, God has to say “my, mine, I” etc. If god could say this, therefore god must seperate itself from the other things. And this means god has a limit. Because, if something seperates it self from the other things, it’s an evidence that this conscious thing has a limit which a must for existence. I am restraint so you can appoint me in a crowd because i am not crowd. I can say”I, my,mine” because i am limited. But how could god says things like this or be aware of itsel if it is limitless. If there is a creator like thing, it has to be unconscious, not to be aware of it self, exactly fit with the evolution idea. Only if it is a limited creator it could be sentinent too. Of course this is a philosophical comment.



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  • 90
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #97 by Ferdinand Bardamu:

    first of all excuse my english its not so good.
    I think theoretically we can do that. If god had sent prophets to represent it self, then it must be aware of itself. I mean, God has to say “my, mine, I” etc. If god could say this, therefore god must seperate itself from the other things. And this means god has a limit. Because, if something seperates it self from the other things, it’s an evidence that this conscious thing has a limit which a must for existence. I am restraint so you can appoint me in a crowd because i am not crowd. I can say”I, my,mine” because i am limited. But how could god says things like this or be aware of itsel if it is limitless. If there is a creator like thing, it has to be unconscious, not to be aware of it self, exactly fit with the evolution idea. Only if it is a limited creator it could be sentinent too. Of course this is a philosophical comment.

    Very good point. On instance where we can disprove a specific “god” is where the definition includes any claim that the god is “limitless” or “everywhere all the time.” I can instantly negate such a claim by the simple expedient of stating. “I am not god.” There is one example of a limit, and a place god is not.



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  • Absence of proof is no proof of absence. But you are more rational if you think things through and be critical about your own reasonings. Science has more to offer in this department than any formulated ideas about god, I think. Still, it is not impossible to be a theist while remaining rational.



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  • 92
    crookedshoes says:

    Theists can be rational about many, many things. They can be rational. However, they are most certainly not being rational about the god question. Can a person be rational in one regard and irrational in another??? I think the answer is yes.

    However, typically, being rational is kind of something that radiates into all areas of an individuals thought process and so the god thing may persist, but on very shaky ground!

    In reply to #99 by APfn:

    Absence of proof is no proof of absence. But you are more rational if you think things through and be critical about your own reasonings. Science has more to offer in this department than any formulated ideas about god, I think. Still, it is not impossible to be a theist while remaining rational.



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  • 93
    GospelofJudas says:

    Whether or not God exists is a useless question without further context. If someone says to me, ‘prove there is/isn’t a God!’ that’s easy, because I’m left to define God. I could say, “from a pantheistic sense, I believe that Divinity can be described as manifest expressions of underlying and essential universal laws that work together and from which grow all of the complex patterns we observe; therefore, I dub the Universe ‘God’ and submit that we’re in it” just as easily as I could say, “The commonly portrayed image of a spiteful Sky Father is pedantic and euhemeristic, and the properties you’ve loosely ascribed to a finite being (which he must be to be spiteful) violate fundamental laws of physics which anyone can observe.”

    The whole question of whether or not God exists SHOULD be entirely semantic. Who cares what you want to call the Universe, or the process by which it came to have the laws that it did? The universe as a whole certainly possesses nothing even vaguely resembling consciousness as humans define it, because it couldn’t. I give credit to some among the religious community for acknowledging that religious texts should not be interpreted literally (Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks comes to mind), or others who believe that spirituality does not need a church/institution/set of dogma. So debate the formation of the universe and its laws as you will (physicists are still puzzling that one out), and assign whatever poetic distinctions you see fit, so long as you understand that there’s a difference between something like the universe and a petty dictator writ large as a ‘deity’ in an old book.

    You can easily argue and refute any specific qualities a person might assign to ‘God’, which is important for countering justification for some of the more heinous acts that people are capable of (and quite likely might do without religion anyway; extremists are extremists). I’ve often argued with people who told me that God said this or that, or hates this or that, or wants this or that by simply saying, if God is as infinite as you describe, why place these limitations on such a being? You contradict yourself.



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  • 94
    N_Ellis says:

    Instead of “based on science I BELIEVE that there is no god”, say “there is no EVIDENCE for the existence of gods”, which not only makes your position stronger (much stronger than that of your religious counterpart), it reduces the Christian god to just one out of a multitude of mythical beings.



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  • 95
    astrophysics says:

    Here’s a short question – just want to see if anyone is on the same page as me:
    If an omniscient god with the propensity to reveal himself to humans established a religion, would not the religion as well as its god-enlightened representatives have had to be right from day one?



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  • 97
    sdelsolray says:

    A burden of proof accompanies each positive claim.

    “God exists” and “God does not exist” are positive claims, with accompanying burdens of proof.

    The statement “I withhold belief in deities” or “Based on a lack of or poor quality of the evidence, I do not believe that deities exist” are not positive claims and do not carry a burden of proof.



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  • 98
    crookedshoes says:

    God does NOT exist is NOT a positive claim. You are confused. See the word NOT makes the claim NEGATIVE. One claim is asserting that this god thing exists (positive). One claim is saying that the god thing does NOT exist (negative). Do not feed the silliness. Words actually mean something. Not is negative.

    In reply to #105 by sdelsolray:

    A burden of proof accompanies each positive claim.

    “God exists” and “God does not exist” are positive claims, with accompanying burdens of proof.

    The statement “I withhold belief in deities” or “Based on a lack of or poor quality of the evidence, I do not believe that deities exist” are not positive claims and do not carry a burden of proof.



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  • 99
    susanlatimer says:

    @Zeuglodon #92

    I’m a little more sceptical about that. His exchanges with me on another thread suggest to me a distinct lack of curiosity in anything that contradicts his beliefs.

    I’ve had a chance to catch up with Robert’s discussions here and I have to agree with your assessment. He doesn’t seem to be interested in having a real discussion. He’s one of the worst cases I’ve seen in a while.

    Oh well. At least there are the lurkers.



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  • 100
    sbooder says:

    Now that we have proven there is not god, the world will have to settle for the next best thing.

    What is that I hear you cry?

    Why…an Englishman of course!

    At last something we can all agree on.



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  • 101
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #105 by sdelsolray: + crookedshoes

    A burden of proof accompanies each positive claim.

    “God exists” and “God does not exist” are positive claims, with accompanying burdens of proof.

    The statement “I withhold belief in deities” or “Based on a lack of or poor quality of the evidence, I do not believe that deities exist” are not positive claims and do not carry a burden of proof.

    The use of “>” or “>>” at the start of quote lines, (and double line spaces at the end of them) avoids the confusion which can arise from using overlooked speech marks.(” “).



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  • 102
    GospelofJudas says:

    In reply to #106 by crookedshoes:

    God does NOT exist is NOT a positive claim. You are confused. See the word NOT makes the claim NEGATIVE. One claim is asserting that this god thing exists (positive). One claim is saying that the god thing does NOT exist (negative). Do not feed the silliness. Words actually mean something. Not is negative.

    So couldn’t you just say “the universe formed and exists without a God”? Would that be a positive claim?



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  • 103
    crookedshoes says:

    I don’t know. It seems that half of the statement is positive and half is negative…. It really is just semantics and I guess i was being pedantic.

    In reply to #110 by GospelofJudas:

    In reply to #106 by crookedshoes:

    God does NOT exist is NOT a positive claim. You are confused. See the word NOT makes the claim NEGATIVE. One claim is asserting that this god thing exists (positive). One claim is saying that the god thing does NOT exist (negative). Do not feed the silliness. Words actually mean something. Not is negative.

    So couldn’t you just say “the universe formed and exists without a God”? Would that be a positive claim?



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  • 104
    BroughtyBoy says:

    How do we define god? All major religions agree on certain criteria – god is all seeing, all knowing, all powerful and all loving (HE is also invariably male). If we take these as given then Hitchens (amongst many others) makes a fairly good case for proving he doesn`t exist, at least not in the form of the faultless deity religions advertise. The argument (as I remember) goes something like this:

    There are all sorts of natural calamities occuring on this planet – plagues, droughts, famine etc, etc. God chooses not to intervene and continues working “in mysterious ways”. Fair enough, it`s an unsatisfactory answer for most of us but lets not be pedantic. Now, lets put natural disasters aside and focus on man-made tragedy. There are people on this planet who charge around killing other people IN HIS NAME – human history is littered with countless examples of religious massacre. How can a loving and all powerful god decline to intervene in these instances? A god who is prepared to witness his own supporters being slayed by adherents of a false god cannot possibly be a loving god. At best he must be negligent in the extreme. The only possible excuse for non-intervention is inability, and with that, the all powerful god disappears in a puff of smoke.



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  • 105
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #108 by sbooder:

    Now that we have proven there is not god, the world will have to settle for the next best thing.

    What is that I hear you cry?

    Once you have proved there are no gods all you are left with is the empty icy top of Mt Olympus , with no sign of Zeus and Co. anywhere to be seen!



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  • 106
    GospelofJudas says:

    In reply to #112 by BroughtyBoy:

    How do we define god? All major religions agree on certain criteria – god is all seeing, all knowing, all powerful and all loving (HE is also invariably male). If we take these as given then Hitchens (amongst many others) makes a fairly good case for proving he doesn`t exist, at least not in the form of the faultless deity religions advertise. The argument (as I remember) goes something like this:

    There are all sorts of natural calamities occuring on this planet – plagues, droughts, famine etc, etc. God chooses not to intervene and continues working “in mysterious ways”. Fair enough, it`s an unsatisfactory answer for most of us but lets not be pedantic. Now, lets put natural disasters aside and focus on man-made tragedy. There are people on this planet who charge around killing other people IN HIS NAME – human history is littered with countless examples of religious massacre. How can a loving and all powerful god decline to intervene in these instances? A god who is prepared to witness his own supporters being slayed by adherents of a false god cannot possibly be a loving god. At best he must be negligent in the extreme. The only possible excuse for non-intervention is inability, and with that, the all powerful god disappears in a puff of smoke.

    There was an interesting take on this on Youtube for a while (attributed to Einstein, though I can’t verify the truth of that, nor do I wish to take his comments out of context, given that he was decidedly not into mainstream religions), the gist of which is that just like ‘cold’ is not a measurable quantity but rather the absence of heat, and ‘darkness’ is not a measurable quantity but simply the absence of light, ‘evil’ is not a measurable quantity but simply the absence of love. Given that ‘evil’ is a distinctly human idea with no analog in Nature, I find this to be an interesting argument, at least.

    As for your comment about mainstream religions, yes, I suppose the rank and file do tend to subscribe to the beliefs you mentioned, at least among monotheists. There are exceptions within more spiritual traditions (Qabbalah and Sufism, for instance), and my limited understanding of Hinduism is that it can go pretty deep, peeling away layers of belief to reveal the Brahman, something that eschews these personal qualities. That being said, if someone assigns personal qualities to God or the Divine or whatever, then they’re easily disproved. If someone has a different understanding or conception of God or the Divine and leaves it on a more impersonal level, said person is probably not concerned with convincing you that you have to believe as they do.

    Personal traits assigned to a God are always incredibly subjective and are simply an effort to control others, which is fairly obvious when thought about. What makes these discussions so insidious at times is the fact that religious authorities will mix the two; they will reference the more sublime ‘Brahman’-esque Divinity, and then turn around and assign personal qualities to it. Think of the Bible as referring to two different ‘Gods’. On the one hand, you have a shorthand name for the universe itself and whatever crane it used to pull itself into existence (which we’re working on understanding), wrapped in metaphor and not meant to be taken literally. (It’s interesting to note that in many cultures with more aboriginal religions, the serpent is considered a symbol of wisdom; now think about the metaphor of gaining knowledge of Good and Evil, and how that can correspond to attaining recursive thought, discovering fire, or some other significant change in human history). So we have the universe in all its complexity, but now, there’s this Jehovah character jumping onto the scene, and maybe he was just an incredibly powerful ruler like the Pharoahs of old (considered gods), or an alien, or whatever, setting rules and generally acting like an ass. He takes credit for all of these mysteries and muddies the whole tale, blending a euhemerist windbag with the Infinite. This distinction isn’t lost on everyone (mystic traditions have abounded within all major religions, even if they never became mainstream), and as an institution parlayed this into gaining more power.

    When discussing ‘God’, I think it’s a lot more important to discuss the right one. Arguing with someone about whether I’m going to be smitten with festering boils is silly, right on par with the chance that I will be hit with Mjolnir out of the blue. You can easily say, yes, I believe that there was a petty and jealous tyrant in the days of yore who assigned himself God-like powers, and I think it’s foolish to gaze upon the mysteries of the universe and nature and assign those properties to said windbag. A tyrant needs worship and sacrifice and devotion, the universe doesn’t care.



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  • 107
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #110 by GospelofJudas:

    [Sorry. My “reply” button doesn’t seem to be working, so I’m creating a reply in a normal comment box. Here goes:]

    So couldn’t you just say “the universe formed and exists without a God”? Would that be a positive claim?

    No it wouldn’t.

    crookedshoes is right in a sense, that it’s half-and-half, since it amounts to two claims. 1) The universe formed and exists; and 2) god does (or did) not. The first is a positive claim the second is negative.

    The easiest way to distinguish between a positive and a negative claim – in the sense we are discussing – is to determine whether the claim is asserting or denying the existence of an “entity.” (Any distinct thing or concept.) Absence is not an “entity.” You cannot actually “assert” absense in a positive sense. Asserting absence is always equivalent to negating a positive assertion that an entity exists (even if that positive assertion is only implied.)

    The assertion of a universe with a god, is a necessary precursor for me to be able to say “the universe formed and exists without a God.” The negative claim logically creates the positive claim. (And vice versa, for that matter. Any claim automatically implies the existence of its opposite. We can only determine positive and negative by asking, which half of dual claim is proposing an entity, and which half proposes absence.)

    This distinction gets confused all the time. If a theist and an atheist decided to use your statement as the basis for a debate and approached it as if it were a positive claim the resulting chaos would (and frequently does) arise because they are making something of a category error. Since the entity being asserted in the claim is “universe” NOT “god”, both sides (presumably) agree with the premise, and the argument gets muddled. The only way to treat “god” as a positive in this statement (which – again – is proprosing god’s absence) is to view the phrase “without a god” as a part of the definition of “universe” which is the entity being debated. In other words, the debate proper can never begin, because the two sides cannot agree on a definition of the topic under discussion.

    The only way to properly debate the existence “god” is to recognize that theism is a positive claim, and atheism is a negative one…always, in all forms. Under this view no burden of proof can possibly attach to the atheist “claim” because it is negative, and technically unfalsifiable. (Once “god” is defined, IF that definition is a falsifiable one, it then becomes possible for the atheist to “prove a negative.” But only because, technically, she is actually DISproving a positive.)

    Does that make any sense?



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  • 108
    GospelofJudas says:

    In reply to #115 by BanJoIvie:

    Does that make any sense?

    It does. So how about I say this?

    Atheist: The Universe created itself.

    Theist: The Universe was created.

    As crookedshoes stated, this really boils down to semantics. Physicists are still looking for the ‘crane’ by which the universe came into being, and while there are several interesting theories, none have been proven. Besides, what prevents a theist from making his/her claim as a negative statement? “The Universe cannot have arisen spontaneously.” So now the burden of proof is on the atheist, because of a little word play. I don’t buy it.



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  • 109
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #116 by GospelofJudas:

    Yes, it is all semantics, but understanding that is a critical point. No matter how many ways the theist tries to shift the burden to the atheist by reframing the question, it is impossible. Atheists who fall for these efforts get sucked into bad arguments. Atheisim is always a negative claim, by it’s nature. It cannot be framed as a positive. Your examples:

    Atheist: The Universe created itself.

    Theist: The Universe was created.

    These are not opposing claims, and yes they are both positive. The first claim actually includes the second claim. By using the verb “created,” your character “Athiest” is presupposing the truth of “Theist’s” claim that the Universe was indeed created. “Theist” has failed to offer disagreement with “Atheist’s” claim, because no competeing theory is offered as to what entity did the “creating.” “Theist” merely affirms the implied clause of “Atheist’s” claim without commenting on the subject of “Theist’s” verb.

    You have labeled your speakers “Atheist” and “Theist” but neither one has mentioned any god or gods, so by definition this is NOT a debate between atheism and theism. It’s not a debate at all.

    “Atheist” here is not arguing atheism at all, but – as you say – making a positive assertion about the history of the universe. Atheism does not logically entail the statement “the Universe created itself.” Nor does theism negate that claim. An atheist does not have to affirm any positive explanation about the origin of the Universe in order to negate the theist version. An atheist who does so is no longer defending atheism, and is needlessly assuming a burden (about a completely new topic.) The logic flaw is exposed in this dialogue.

    THEIST: God exists.

    ATHEIST: I reject your unsupported claim.

    THEIST: Then explain the origin of the universe!

    ATHEIST: No. Stop changing the subject. Even my complete failure to give a god-free explanation of universal origins would not advance your original claim in any way. It’s possible for that phenomenon to be completely unexplained without necessitating a god. (Unless you trivially define “god” as “whatever explanation turns out to account for the origin of the universe, no matter what the other qualities of that explanation may be.”) Now offer evidence for your positive claim, or withdraw it.

    Besides, what prevents a theist from making his/her claim as a negative statement?

    If the claim is theism, then he/she is prevented by the logical impossibility of stating that claim negatively.

    “The Universe cannot have arisen spontaneously.”

    This is still a positive claim. It does not shift the burden from the claimant in any way. A person making such a claim assumes the burden of demonstrating some mechanism or condition which necessarily prevents the universe from arising spontaneously. This burden goes beyond simply countering existing theories. IT WOULD NOT BE SUFFICIENT for the claimant to disprove every known hypothesis of spontaneous Universe formation. There still exists a positive burden for the claimant to demonstrate their positive claim IN ITS OWN RIGHT.



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  • 110
    GospelofJudas says:

    In reply to #117 by BanJoIvie:

    In reply to #116 by GospelofJudas:

    Yes, it is all semantics, but understanding that is a critical point.

    Agreed.

    This is still a positive claim. It does not shift the burden from the claimant in any way. A person making such a claim assumes the burden of demonstrating some mechanism or condition which necessarily prevents the universe from arising spontaneously. This burden goes beyond simply countering existing theories. IT WOULD NOT BE SUFFICIENT for the claimant to disprove every known hypothesis of spontaneous Universe formation. There still exists a positive burden for the claimant to demonstrate their positive claim IN ITS OWN RIGHT.

    Let’s shift tracks then, shall we? Tackling this from the ‘god of the gaps’ perspective, we have a theist who maintains that certain unexplained phenomena are the province of a Creator, and we shall never be able to plumb their mysteries. “How shall these gaps in our knowledge be filled?” Now the atheist is left with the burden of proof that the gaps are shrinking and that there are means of discovering what fills said gaps. I’m not suggesting that this hasn’t be done already, but from a philosophical perspective, saying “this cannot be explained scientifically” is a negative claim. Atheism by definition simply implies ‘no deity’ (a personal god, as opposed to something more pantheistic), and yes you are right, that one definition is inherently a negative claim, it’s true. But what of all the other beliefs that logically follow from a rational, atheistic stance? I would submit that positive claims must logically follow, and that if for no other reason than to disprove any evidence that a theist touts to support God, one arguing against a personal God should be prepared.



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  • 111
    Thonord says:

    Ther is no way to prove a negative. Its like trying to prove that you don’t belive in “Midgardsormen”. It cannot be done.
    This is a recognised fact. Therfore Those who claim someting true. have the onus of proof.



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  • 112
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #118 by GospelofJudas:

    Let’s shift tracks then, shall we? Tackling this from the ‘god of the gaps’ perspective, we have a theist who maintains that certain unexplained phenomena are the province of a Creator, and we shall never be able to plumb their mysteries.

    These are two positive claims. Both place a burden on the theist making them.

    “How shall these gaps in our knowledge be filled?”

    Good question. Merely asking the question does not place a burden on anyone.

    Now the atheist is left with the burden of proof that the gaps are shrinking and that there are means of discovering what fills said gaps.

    No. the theist has no burden to answer the question at all. She can say. “I don’t know” and still maintain a perfectly valid atheistic position.

    It may even turn out that there are certain gaps of knowledge that are beyond all possible explanation by human minds. If so, it does precisely zero work to support the theist’s claim (in fact it negates it, because “god” is in fact an explanation.)

    A theist does not get to claim victory by default or to claim that an atheist must accept some burden because of any unexplained phenomenon. Lack of any other explanation does not imply that the theist’s explanation has merit. Not even slightly.

    …from a philosophical perspective, saying “this cannot be explained scientifically” is a negative claim.

    No. It is a positive claim. The claimant has a burden to show why science is barred from explaining the specific gap in question. Otherwise the claim falls, whether or not science has actually succeded yet in filling that gap.

    Atheism by definition simply implies ‘no deity’

    Yes.

    (a personal god, as opposed to something more pantheistic),

    No. Pantheism is theism. It’s right there in the word. The existence of certain unfalsifiable or trivial definitions of God (God=the Universe, God=Love, God=My pet hampster) make it necessary for atheists to make minor hedges (like “I am an atheist with regards to most definitions of god” or Richard’s “technical agnosticism”.) It is also why atheists should always insist that the theist define “god” before any real discussion can occur. If by “god” you mean the universe, than technically, I am a theist (with a burden to demonstrate that “the universe” exists. I cite Descarte, but after that it get’s tricky.) So is almost everybody else who doesn’t take brain-in-a-bottle hypotheses too seriously.

    Of course pantheism is NOT what almost anyone means who picks a fight with an atheist or tries to advance a theistic view. A theist relying on pantheism to claim victory would get a concession from me ONLY AFTER freely and clearly admitting that they do not mean any personal god.

    and yes you are right, that one definition is inherently a negative claim, it’s true.

    Not just that one definition. Every definition of “atheism” is a negative claim. Any positive claim, no matter how one may try to link it with atheism, is seperate.

    But what of all the other beliefs that logically follow from a rational, atheistic stance?

    Many claims logically follow from rationalism. Some positive, some negative. Atheism is a negative claim which logically follows from rationalism, NOT the orher way around. Any associated positive claims ALSO follow from rationalism, not from atheism.

    I would submit that positive claims must logically follow,

    From rationalism (a process) perhaps, never from atheism (a specific – and necessarily negative – claim).

    …and that if for no other reason than to disprove any evidence that a theist touts to support God, one arguing against a personal God should be prepared.

    I fully agree that we should prepare to counter theist’s positive claims. But we must never accept any implication that – in so doing – we are taking on a burden to “prove there’s no god.” God is a positive claim. and just like any other positive claim, it is presumed false until demostrated to be true. Atheism, in effect, wins by default. Always. A theist has the burden and we can never assume it.



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  • 113
    GospelofJudas says:

    In reply to #119 by Thonord:

    Ther is no way to prove a negative. Its like trying to prove that you don’t belive in “Midgardsormen”. It cannot be done.
    This is a recognised fact. Therfore Those who claim someting true. have the onus of proof.

    Not true. There have been extensive tests that have proven that there are no more than six quarks and six leptons.



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  • 114
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #118 by GospelofJudas:

    …from a philosophical perspective, saying “this cannot be explained scientifically” is …

    Also note that this is quite different from the claim “this cannot be explained scientifically, CURRENTLY.” An atheist may conced this second claim without conceding the first, and without conceeding that “god” is therefore made a more plausible explanation.



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  • 115
    GospelofJudas says:

    In reply to #120 by BanJoIvie:

    In reply to #118 by GospelofJudas:

    The existence of certain unfalsifiable or trivial definitions of God (God=the Universe, God=Love, God=My pet hampster) make it necessary for atheists to make minor hedges (like “I am an atheist with regards to most definitions of god” or Richard’s “technical agnosticism”.) It is also why atheists should always insist that the theist define “god” before any real discussion can occur. If by “god” you mean the universe, than technically, I am a theist (with a burden to demonstrate that “the universe” exists. I cite Descarte, but after that it get’s tricky.) So is almost everybody else who doesn’t take brain-in-a-bottle hypotheses too seriously…

    God is a positive claim. and just like any other positive claim, it is presumed false until demostrated to be true. Atheism, in effect, wins by default. Always. A theist has the burden and we can never assume it.

    This comes back to definitions, and as I said below, personal Gods are easy to refute because they have specific qualities to reject. My last argument concerning semantics is this; for an atheist to reject a God, they must define what they are rejecting. If they are submitting a definition, they are making a positive claim regarding the nature of something in order to reject it.

    More importantly than semantics though, how useful is the argument that an atheist shouldn’t have to argue? Raising reason and awareness in the world, and encouraging people to think, is not going to be easy if every argument devolves into one person saying, “Well I don’t have to prove a thing.” Several people have even written books proving that the idea of a personal god is ludicrous; why bother if they knew they were right? Having a negative claim is useless if the other person won’t see reason.



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  • 116
    Sean_W says:

    I don’t think they believe just because I can’t convince them not to.

    The question is like a childish retort to someone who’s just made us aware of a problem we would rather not acknowledge. You think it a problem for me, why don’t you try feeling it for a while too. I’m rubber and you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you.

    I’m sympathetic.



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  • 117
    thomasking says:

    Easy. Prove there are no unicorns. It’s exactly the same question. Equally silly. If they can’t disprove unicorns, does that mean unicorns must exist?

    If they claim that’s silly, remind them that unicorns are mentioned three times in the old testament.



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  • There cannot be conclusive evidence either for or against something that does not exist, so we can’t reasonably be expected to provide evidence for the non existence of god. The problem here is that the religious are not reasonable. The burden of proof is on those who profess belief, if god did exist surely proof would have been found by now… The faithful have spent long enough looking.



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  • 119
    BanJoIvie says:

    In reply to #123 by GospelofJudas:

    This comes back to definitions, and as I said below, personal Gods are easy to refute because they have specific qualities to reject.

    I agree completely.

    My last argument concerning semantics is this; for an atheist to reject a God, they must define what they are rejecting.

    No. Not if you mean that the atheist has a burden to provide a definition. Defining the entity under assertion is apart of the burden that attaches necessarily to the positive claim, regardless of which person happens to provide that definition.

    If they are submitting a definition, they are making a positive claim regarding the nature of something in order to reject it.

    True. IF an atheist provides a definition of God, they are doing part of the positive claimant’s job. Nothing prevents the atheist from doing so, and there are plenty of cases where it may even be expedient. Perhaps the theist is unwilling or unable to provide one, and discussion is impossible absent a definition, so the atheist offers one to facilitate debate. Or perhaps an atheist has no personal opponent – say she is writing a formal defense of the atheist position – in which case she would be obliged to do some of the positive claimant’s job…sort of by proxy. The God Delusion does this more or less throughout. But Richard calls upon existing definitions originally constructed by theists in order to make his case.

    But this is NOT the same thing as an atheist “making a positive claim.” A definition is part of a claim, not a claim itself. Unless the entire debate is about the definition itself. As in:

    “God is the character Yahweh of the bible.”

    “No, God is a houseplant in my living room.”

    That is a debate between two positive assertions regarding the definition of god. But it’s not a debate between a theistic and an atheistic position.

    In no sense does an atheist acquire any burden to disprove an entity, even when providing a positive definition of that entity..

    More importantly than semantics though, how useful is the argument that an atheist shouldn’t have to argue?

    Not useful at all. I never said that. I’m making a single narrow point about burden of proof. We should argue vigorously and effectively. We should never allow the implication to stand that by arguing, the burden shifts to us.

    Raising reason and awareness in the world, and encouraging people to think, is not going to be easy if every argument devolves into one person saying, “Well I don’t have to prove a thing.”

    Again. Not what I’m saying. Although it might help you to see what I’m getting at if I rephrased it something like this, “Well I don’t have to prove a thing because that’s technically impossible. I DO however have to DISPROVE whatever case you are making.”

    Several people have even written books proving that the idea of a personal god is ludicrous; why bother if they knew they were right?

    Burden of proof has nothing to do with “knowing you are right.” Negative claimants “bother” making arguments for the same reason that defense attorneys put on cases in court. But the nature of their arguments is different because technically they don’t have to prove their client’s innocence. Defence attorneys only have to show that the prosecution has failed to meet it’s burden.

    Having a negative claim is useless if the other person won’t see reason.

    Again, “useless” is not really the point. I’m not arguing for the utility of the concept of burden, merely describing it. “Negative claim” isn’t some sort of ploy or tactic to avoid debate. It is away to insure debate is productive. There ARE plenty of arguments which accept the positive burden and attempt to make a rational case for the existence of god. Atheists should gleefully engage with (and demolish) these.

    If the other person won’t see reason, there is very little point in engaging in any reasoned discussion under any circumstance. But if one is going to engage in such a discussion, an understanding of burden of proof is in invaluable tool.



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  • 120
    Selim says:

    In reply to #1 by paxpoker:

    “If we say that based on science I BELIEVE that there is no god,then thats no better than the christian saying that he believes there is a god.”

    It isn’t accurate to say that we have ‘faith’ in science (as Christians have faith in the miracles performed by god) because we don’t believe in science: we use it. This is sufficient because the methods of science are palpably effective.

    To provide a contrast between these two methodologies, let’s consider how effective it would be if scientists used the same standards of reason and evidence as theologians:

    If I were to approach a professor of nuclear physics with the idea for an energetically and financially solvent nuclear fusion reactor—an apparently impossible device—she would demand to see my calculations, and to know how they were derived. If I denied her request and replied that “nuclear fusion is a reality best understood through inner peace and meditation,” I would be promptly dismissed (and rightfully so). Yet this is precisely the sort of statement you’ll hear religious people use to justify their belief in god.



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  • 121
    OHooligan says:

    This discussion has gone deeply into the usual arguments, so I’ll try for a simpler approach:

    Every religion teaches that all other religions are wrong. It’s the only thing they all agree on. Now, following just the common consensus of the teachings of all the religions of the world, I have this conclusion:

    All Religions Are Wrong.

    (No science was needed for this, and hardly any logic. Even a religious person should have no difficulty following it.)

    Corollary: if you want to prove that your religion is right, you have to refute all the other ones first. Come back when you’re done.



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  • 122
    jantina.decologne says:

    You have not to proof that God not exists. I have not to proof that God really exist. We are both very asured about what we think. Its o.k. Ofcourse we think different about everything. Well, thats very interesting.Thats why I read the books of Richard Dawkins. And why I visit this site. Maybe you can be interested in what religious people think. Ofcourse, you have your opinion about theirs. And you can think with a smile: ‘Some people are wise, others are otherwise…



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  • 123
    TruthSeeker says:

    if he says ” provide the proof there is no god ”
    You can say , ” I do not care for him (god), i choose not to live by his rules but by my rules and i am doing well till now. I got no use for him , he(god) can do what he(god) wishes .”
    Nobody in the world can mess with free will . If one chooses a belief its a waste of time to go on a verbal battle with him .
    If you are hell bent on making him believe your atheistic philosophy i do not see , the difference you and him in terms of wasting time . It will be trying to brainwash someone else idea of life and impose ours , that’s hypo critic .



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  • 124
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #131 by TruthSeeker:

    if he says ” provide the proof there is no god ”
    You can say , ” I do not care for him (god), i choose not to live by his rules but by my rules and i am doing well till now. I got no use for him , he(god) can do what he(god) wishes .”

    This seems to be missing the point!
    In a universe without gods, There are no “gods’ rules”. There are only the conflicting rules of various religions and cults. The only people who think there is one set of rules exclusively from their god, are the deeply indoctrinated who have no wider understanding. Even the various Xtians denominations, sects, and cults, differ in what they think their rules are!

    Nobody in the world can mess with free will .

    “Free will” is a myth based on dogma. Thinking works on neuro-psychology.

    If one chooses a belief its a waste of time to go on a verbal battle with him .

    I might be, but some people are open to reason, evidence and education, rather than simply “choosing” what they like to believe.

    If you are hell bent on making him believe your atheistic philosophy i do not see , the difference you and him in terms of wasting time .

    There is a very great difference where atheism is based on science and understanding (rather than lack of contact with religions). Scientific philosophical methodology, is about understanding how the world works in material reality. “Faith”, is about believing mythology without evidence. It is a flawed way of thinking.

    It will be trying to brainwash someone else idea of life and impose ours , that’s hypo critic .

    Not at all! Educating people in what is real and what is fantasy, is about helping them understand the material world and universe.
    Science is about methodically seeking truth. Religions are about perpetuating myths from the ignorance of the past.

    jantina.decologne – 130

    You have not to proof that God not exists. I have not to proof that God really exist. We are both very asured about what we think. Its o.k.

    If you want to claim some validity for the claims of the followers of a particular god, you really need to show evidence that that particular god exists.

    Having been told there is a god in a form agreed in your locality, does nothing to show it is any more valid than all the other gods past and present, which have had followers on this planet.

    Understanding that something is unlikely to exist if there is no evidence to support it (fairies, flying dragons, leprechauns, Zeus, Aphrodite, Thor, Flat-Earth etc.) is the rational position to take.



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  • 125
    Eliot says:

    I’ve been a flight instructor for many years and I still teach part time. I’ve had the pleasure of working with students of just about any faith you might care to mention. However I’ve never had a single student tell me that he planned on running the fuel tanks dry and then praying to his God to refill them. That’s my proof that God doesn’t exist.



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  • 126
    Gangmember says:

    You’re on Richard Dawkin’s website, asking questions which he very publicly has already answered. Perhaps you haven’t had the spare time to read some of his work, which is fine, but I still for some reason find it odd.



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  • 127
    Guptanator says:

    I think a good way to look at this is why we even have a capability to have an understanding of a god. Why are there people who believe there is a god? If you break it down there are theists,agnostics, and atheists. Why? From an evolutionary perspective please



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  • 128
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #135 by Guptanator:

    I think a good way to look at this is why we even have a capability to have an understanding of a god. Why are there people who believe there is a god? If you break it down there are theists,agnostics, and atheists. Why? From an evolutionary perspective please

    It seem to be a mechanism for group leaders to provide authoritative answers to bolster their positions and decisions , on subjects where they are ignorant, but are able to hide this in obfuscated mumbo-jumbo.

    In dangerous condition where individuals are vulnerable, any coherent group action is likely to be more effective than individual scattered individuals doing their own thing. You see this in group and herd animals where there are dominant leaders and collective actions.



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  • 129
    abuahzab says:

    I think, the most natural/neutral stand would be, for both (theists and atheists) to provide proof to their claims (existence/non-existence of God). Instead of asking the other to prove/to claim that the burden of proof is on the other side.



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  • In reply to #137 by abuahzab:

    I think, the most natural/neutral stand would be, for both (theists and atheists) to provide proof to their claims (existence/non-existence of God). Instead of asking the other to prove/to claim that the burden of proof is on the other side.

    I’ll accept this if you can first prove that there isn’t an invisible flying monkey hovering behind you right now. Bear in mind that he likes to hide from us and his magic is so strong he can evade your senses and any detection equipment available.
    If you can prove the monkey doesn’t exist then you will probably be able to adapt your proof to disprove God as well. If you can’t prove it, does this mean we should accept the monkey’s existence as a reasonable possibility?



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  • 132
    Chipmunk says:

    In reply to #2 by SelfAwarePatterns:

    My usual response to these types of statements is to say something like, I can’t prove God’s non-existence, but I also can’t prove the non-existence of Zeus, Thor, Baal, Amon-Ra, Bigfoot, or Santa Claus. I stipulate that I’m not adamant about not believing in any of these things. I’ll change my mind if given rigorous evidence, but not before then.

    What would that evidence be? What would, if discovered, change your mind about the existence of God?



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  • 134
    SteveR says:

    I asked the obvious question of “Who created your god” to a Mormon cousin of mine. I got the absurd answer that “god was created by another god, who was created by another god and so on for eternity”. Not a lot one can say about the logic of that one!



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  • 135
    sffmadman66 says:

    In reply to #2 by SelfAwarePatterns:

    My usual response to these types of statements is to say something like, I can’t prove God’s non-existence, but I also can’t prove the non-existence of Zeus, Thor, Baal, Amon-Ra, Bigfoot, or Santa Claus. I stipulate that I’m not adamant about not believing in any of these things. I’ll change my mi…

    Haha! I love that. I can see a fundy’s jaw drop if you say something like that.



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  • 136
    sffmadman66 says:

    In reply to #6 by blitz442:

    In reply to #4 by adiroth:

    It is impossible to prove the negative.

    Not exactly. If God is supposed to be everywhere at all times, but I don’t detect his presence anywhere or anytime I look, doesn’t that at the very least mean that God is not everywhere?

    That would depend on how you define God; but you’ve all established that, scientifically speaking, the universe does not need God to exist (and I agree). Therefore, it also does not have to be God to exist. So it would be meaningless to discuss it on scientific grounds (not that you wanted to).



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  • 137
    Lumine says:

    I kinda find it completely insane to claim something and demand others who are not convinced to disproof it. If I claim something it’s up to me to proof it, not the other way around and the same goes for any religion, they have to proof it, unless they are able to provide some evidence other than bullshit faith, they have no valid point what so ever.

    That’s also the reason why there is no need to be agnostic about god. Human made god up, human failed to proof that theory. It’s sad that after such a long time we still have lunatics that “teach” it.



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  • 139
    TheJackel says:

    Ask them about pantheism and bring them to the extreme limits in which you can bring the concept of God.. For example tell them some pantheists and many atheists will say that Existence itself is Causality ( a naturalistic explanation), and is the Universal Set of All Sets (the totality of everything). And then ask them these questions:

    1. What is God without existence?
    2. If Existence is God, then what in and of existence is not?
    3. Existence is not God, then what in and of existence is?
    4. Can you explain causality without existence?
    5. How does one create Existence when one’s self would be slave to require existence exist, or much less function?

    They would have to explain a entity in which has no existence and how it can create existence from a position of non-existence to support the concept of God to have any real existential relevancy.. To which of course would be an amusing joke to watch them try without hilariously self-refuting themselves..



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  • 140
    sharky68 says:

    know your bible…read IIJohn and you will understand, because understanding is what you need! The bible explains God as being the spirit of truth and words..now use common sense because God is simple and not complex, and there are no mysteries..sepperate yourself from this world. it is evil…and know that the bible explains us as like God when you find your true potential and what your capable of.



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  • 141
    PaolaLavin says:

    There’s no proof. That is why it is highly controversial. Yet, there are people out there with a brain and a sense of logic and reason. Evidence and proof are crucial. We have quite some for our argument, they have a book and christian-like zombies repeating everything they’re told, just because they’re told that’s the way it should be.



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