Sunday, July 31, 2011

Barlin's Atheism Part 1

Pastor Graham Barlin sent me his seven page précis of what he believes atheism to be, called “Atheism Lost.” It seems to be from a sermon, or perhaps, intended pastoral he wrote. I intend to do a thorough review of his seven page explication, but first I should admit that I don’t know much about Mr. Graham Barlin except that he emailed me out of the blue and started quoting scripture to me—which without any context seemed rather meaningless. Random quotes are fine, don’t get me wrong, I like a good quote sharing like the rest, but it seemed rather arbitrary. After a few exchanges the topic of atheism came up.

Now if you’re a regular reader of this blog you will know that I was a Born again Born again, baptized twice, in the Assemblies of God Church, a strand of Protestant Evangelical Christianity, which I actively, and piously, adhered to for nearly three decades. Until recently, I was an ardent acolyte of Christian faith—and a passion for my beliefs raged within me as strong as my love for Jesus Christ—or more specifically—it was because of my beliefs that Jesus was Lord and Savior and the Redeemer of the human race, who brought us out of sin, by paying the ultimate price, his life, and thereby cleansing us through one final atonement—via these beliefs I came to have a personal experience with Jesus as I worked hard to follow his teachings.

Granted, I wasn’t perfect. Like all peoples, I had my flaws, and perhaps the most fatal flaw was my undying curiosity and thirst for knowledge. After about five years of intense involvement with Biblical Criticism and New Testament studies including reading nearly 150 books on historical matters related to Christianity, I gradually shifted in my position about what I thought I knew. As it turns out, convictions are best left uncontested, but when they are challenged, and when they are challenged by opposing information which seeks to override the cherished beliefs you hold dear to your heart, it’s no simple task merely to ignore these challenges. Many people retreat further into faith—and practice a type of blind faith—so they don’t have to ask the questions these sorts of challenges raise. But I was bold—intrepid—and perhaps a little naïve. I thought my faith was impervious. I accepted that doubt was natural—but no doubt was too big—in the end, I believed, the Bible had all the answers—but more importantly—God would show me the way.

As I investigated my faith, I did something most people who study religion usually do not do. I made a pact with myself. I promised myself that for every religious history or theology book I read I would balance it out with a science book. I didn’t want my faith to be lopsided by a lack of real world knowledge, because I felt that the real science, and the real wonders of nature, would only reaffirm my faith—and ultimately reinforce and strengthen it. So I dove right in—reading books on evolution and cosmology, divided up by books of ancient history and religion, which in turn were divided up by books of psychology and cutting edge neuroscience. Philosophy books were stacked next to theology books, and the more I read, the more I came to see a very specific pattern of human involvement in the area of religious belief (but more on this later).

After five years of this regiment study plan, I finally admitted to myself that I was no longer a believer. Now I didn’t get upset, although I found the prospect a bit of a letdown. After all, my faith had failed me, not I it. I tried my best to understand it, and like most people I know who have become nonbelievers/atheists, it’s not because they never took the time to understand religion, but often times, they become nonbelievers because they understand their religious beliefs and experiences all too well.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Debunking the Kalam Cosmological Argument

This is the most thorough, well researched, video critique of the Kalam cosmological argument I've ever seen. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Age of Shallow Conviction and Strong Pretense

The Age of Shallow Conviction and Strong Pretense

Every now and again a random Christian sends me Bible verses, thinking, heck, this atheist doesn’t know anything about the Bible. Some just rattle off unrelated quotes, thinking that just by sharing with you this incomprehensible jumble of texts, it will somehow fill you with awe and make you a believer. Usually this tactic backfires because the Bible verses are so incomprehensible that you have no idea what they are trying to say.

Other times, the faithful will try to organize quotes, in some kind of rhetorical form, designed to get you to argue or defend your position, but once you do, they will supply other verses which negate your opinion, such as pulling the old ace out of the sleeve, and state the Bible, i.e. God’s Word, is the final authority on everything and so nothing you say could ever be used against their position. 

At once, they have made your position irrelevant because the have discounted your opinion, mainly because they don’t care what your opinion is, they just want you to accept theirs.
Sometimes I send them quotes from other skeptics and philosophers, and even other religions, since I figure if they read at least something from more than just one book, they will be better off.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Genetic Fallacy Isn't a Fallacy If It's True

The Genetic Fallacy Isn't a Fallacy If It's True

Consider, a little Hindu boy raised in the slums of India who believes in reincarnation, because his Hindu practicing parents raised him to believe in reincarnation, and partly for the accident of his geography. This is proved by the fact that a Christian girl born and raised in the U.S., will nearly always adopt the beliefs of her parents. Predictably, the little Christian girl will grow up not believing in reincarnation whereas the Hindu boy will. But these beliefs, and all the religious beliefs they acquire, do not originate from some underlying truth to the universe, they merely come from the parents. We are, after all, the products of our cultures and environments.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Why Intelligent Design is Not Intelligent

Why Intelligent Design is Not Intelligent

[N]othing we currently know from our best sources of knowledge requires anyone to buy into one or more of the many extravagant claims that are made by those who would try to use science to promote their own particular mystical or supernatural worldview. Since these promoters introduce extraneous elements of reality not required by the data, their proposals fail the test of parsimony. It then follows that they have the burden of proving their schemes, not I the burden of disproving them.
--Victor J. Stenger (Timeless Reality)

               Mike D. over at The A-Unicornist wrote a good article questioning what it is we mean by design when we talk about something being designed and goes on to criticize, rightly so, those who misuse the term “design” when they talk about “intelligent design.” Feeling inspired by his post, I thought I would add a few of my own thoughts to the subject of design, and why, ultimately, intelligent design is not so intelligent after all.
               In this essay I am going to talk about the various reasons why Intelligent Design, as proposed by religious believers, is not just wrong, but largely incoherent. I will attempt to show, that, in reality, the universe has no discernible design. As such, unable to detect any specific features which would denote an intentional design, we cannot infer purpose. If there is no design or underlying purpose, then the universe is uncaused (*supernaturally speaking--it may yet prove to have a natural cause we don't yet know of), and therefore there is no such thing as an “intelligent designer.”

Advocatus Atheist

Advocatus Atheist