Statements to Believers
Since I started this site, I’ve fucked up a few times. I’ve often gotten into conversations with theists, people whom I don’t know, the conversations go their merry way, and I post them. What I learned the hard way was when I did this with people I did know, despite the fact that they’d proudly made stupid statements like, “I accept Easter fully,” and posted those statements on publicly available sites like Facebook, they didn’t want them here. The really shitty part was that I kept ending up in these conversations with people I knew and either I or they or we both would say such awesome things, but I started to feel that ethical lump at the bottom of my stomach when the question of posting them here arose.
Then it dawned on me! Ask their permission! So in one case, I did…
I was sad. So many lovely quotables, and I couldn’t use a one. But then I had another thought. I’m free to post things I’ve said! So following is the inaugural Statement to Believers, complete with paraphrased (and definitely NOT quoted) context. For initial context, the conversation followed this post. My text is in italics. His is in bold. Comments [in brackets].
Big Bang theory doesn’t contradict creation. Creator put the pieces in place, whether God or an alien.
The argument from creationists is that the Big Bang could NOT have happened. The linked video, and other evidence, demonstrates that not only could it have happened, but all evidence shows that it did.
If the claim is that a Creator set the Bang in motion, then the Creator & any claims made of It remain to be demonstrated. Not only that, but once we assume a Crestor, we’re then saddled with why would this Creator do such a thing?
In the case of the Big Bang, we have no need to explain intent, only how. How’s been explained. In the case of a Creator, we now also have to explain It & its intent.
If you think you can, please go ahead.
Why explain Creator? Why have to believe in Big Bang or creation?
The reason you “have to” believe in either or is that creationism has no supporting evidence & non-creationist Big Bang theory has all the evidence. If you’re concerned with believing in things that are true, you’ll believe that which is supported by evidence.
I agree that there is no point to creation in the existential sense, but the creationist claim is that there is. Thus the question, what is the point?
If the answer to why the Creator created the universe is “He just did,” it creates an infinite regress. “Why did It?” “Because it wanted to.” “Why did it want to?” “Because it did.” And so on.
If we feeble humans do what we do for reasons, and what we do pales in comparison to the creation of a universe, then if our feeble actions carry purpose, then it stands to reason that the ultimate action of creation would also carry a purpose.
Your choice of which cuisine you ate tonight is, by definition, infinitely trivial in comparison to the creation of the universe. And I think you know that..
I agree that the Big Bang led to us. The problem with a creationist view, as I may have pointed out, is that it requires explanation not only for the Creator, but also for its motive.
Neither of these explanations is necessary from the atheist view.
Also consider that if a Creator created the universe “just because,” that inevitably means that this Creator has been 100% complacent to billions of years of unnecessary pain, suffering, and death from predators to prey, from diseases to the sick, and from natural disasters to those who happened to live in the way.
And if you’re willing to accept 1. an undemonstrated Creator and 2. an undemonstrated motive for the creation, then why are you unwilling to accept the proven reality that, per Hawking, no Creator was necessary? That the reason the universe is, is that, per physical laws, it was inevitable?
If your answer is you like the idea of a Creator, that you want there to be one, do you believe in all concepts you want to be true regardless of the lack of supporting evidence?
I want to be able to leap from the top of my apartment building & fly, but the evidence of the reality of gravity is 100% verified & 100% indifferent to my desire.
We’re both open to Big Bang; we don’t agree on how. That’s okay.
Why do you believe in a Creator? What are your feelings on the points I raised?
The issue is not “being open” to the Big Bang. It’s been proven just as the theory of gravity, the theory of relativity, and the theory of evolution. The question is whether a Creator made it happen. What’s the evidence for that claim?
I’m okay with it too, in the legal/moral sense. You’re not doing anything necessarily wrong by believing in a Creator, but I wonder whether you’re interested in believing in things that have been proven, or believing in things for other reasons. If the latter, why?
It’s a simple question.
My only evidence = personal experience. I have nothing to prove. I’m okay with your lack of belief. Einstein believed in a Creator.
Anton Hill Oh, no. You’re not actually relying on the Appeal to Authority fallacy, are you?
It’s true. Einstein was smart. He got relativity right. But he also got an infinite universe wrong. Not only that, but:
“I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.” (Albert Einstein, 1954)
As you can see, Einstein didn’t refer to a “god” or a “creator” in the sense that you refer to one. It was more a metaphor for “universe.” But let’s pretend it wasn’t. Even had he meant the kind of Creator you mean, his belief in such wouldn’t have made such a concept true.
Remember, Newton was right about gravity, was a theologian, and was wrong about alchemy.
Being so right about one thing as to completely revolutionize the world doesn’t mean you’re right about everything.
I’ve never said you have anything to prove to the world, but your positive claim does. Any positive claim about the absolute nature of reality has to be proved. Otherwise, why believe such a thing? The only reason I don’t believe your claim is because it hasn’t been proved.
But you cite personal experience. Very well. What personal experience has proved to you the existence of a Creator? If the experience in question is not only personal but private, then please feel free to change the names and dates.
I’m really curious about this because people make this claim all the time–of personal experiences absolutely convincing them of a Creator or the supernatural–and yet when it comes down to it, it’s never something that directly and necessarily demonstrates the existence of a Creator.
Please, hit me up!
[I was a little surprised by his Appeal to Authority. He's a smart guy and even if he weren't, he could certainly google Einstein to see how reliable such an assertion about Einstein's beliefs were. And yet he didn't. He pulled the same old "Einstein = smart = belief in Creator = reality of Creator."]
Why you need evidence for people’s belief in Creator? No need to transform their beliefs. I don’t need your evidence.
Anton Hill Come now. Stop dodging. I promise I won’t make fun.
I need evidence of people’s beliefs (in the supernatural, in a Creator) because:
1. So far in all of human experience, there’s been none
2. and every single tested claim has proven false,
3. a willingness to believe in one false thing often correlates to a willingness to believe in lots of false things,
4. and people vote.
When people who believe in false things vote according to those beliefs, they directly and (usually) negatively affect public policy. I cite California’s Prop 8, anti-miscegenation laws, anti-sodomy laws, etc.
It’s not enough for someone to believe something strongly. What one must do is believe in something because there’s evidence to support it. Otherwise, the only difference between one belief and another is the amount of popularity supporting either. And I’m sure you’ll agree that using popularity as the basis for the merit of knowledge isn’t the best way to go.
You’re right, I don’t need to transform people’s beliefs. That’s not even my desire. What I do desire is for people to take responsibility for their beliefs. If you, for example, are willing to accept the possibility of a Creator with no objectively verifiable evidence, but are unwilling to accept the inevitability of the Big Bang based on the evidence, then I want to know why.
I suggest that the only reason you’re willing to accept the notion of a Creator is that you’ve been raised in a culture in which it’s socially acceptable to do so. You aren’t willing to believe in fairies (or Tarot or Ouija) because the concept isn’t socially acceptable and there’s no evidence to support it.
But remember how you cited Einstein as believing in a Creator? Well, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed in fairies till his dying day. Yes, the creator of Sherlock Holmes honestly thought that fairies existed. The only difference between his belief in fairies and your belief in a Creator is the degree of social acceptance afforded either.
Now you’re attempting to shift the burden of proof. It’s impossible to prove a negative. For example, I can’t provide evidence that there are no fairies. The reason we don’t believe in them is that there’s no evidence to support them. The same is true for a Creator.
The fact is that there either is a Creator or there isn’t. You’ve already admitted that you have no evidence, but rather personal experience. As I said, I’d love to know what you’ve experienced that compelled you to believe in a Creator.
Now, stop dodging and tell me!
[I fucking hate it when people attempt to shift the burden of proof. i think the biggest reason why I hate it is the only tie they ever do it is with theological claims. When someone says, "I believe that Republicans have better policies than Democrats," and someone else asks, "What makes you believe that?", the first person never says, "Prove that they don't!" It may become a heated discussion, but both parties understand that the first person has made a positive claim that requires evidence for the second party to believe. My suspicion is that in every case in which a party attempts to shift the burden of proof, it's always because that party knows that it can't prove its claim.]
You say “fairies”?
Arg. Yes, I said “fairies.” They’ve been simple questions. Stop dodging, you dodger.
He never did answer my question on what personal experiences he had that proved to him his belief in a Creator. Nor has he in private conversation since. I find this both baffling and frustrating. All the time, believers, when pressed into a logical corner, cite personal experience. And yet almost every time it’s something really fucking lame, like “I couldn’t find my car keys, prayed, then found them, therefore, every claim religion makes is absolutely true.” Or, “When I pray, I feel good, therefore every claim religion makes is absolutely true.” Or, “My loved one got really sick, then, with lots of help from modern medical science, my loved one got better, therefore, every claim religion makes is absolutely true.” But, what bites me in the ass even more than that is when, after citing personal experience, the believer either refuses to share or simply ignores the question. I suspect this is due to the fact that the believer, either on the surface or deep down, knows that his experience is either really fucking lame, like recovered car keys, or simply can’t be proven to be a direct causal link to anything, a god or otherwise. What burns my hide even more than that is the fact that all these believers, who believe so virulently and sincerely, can’t just admit that they don’t know. Is it really so threatening, so personally offending, so pride-defeating, to admit that one doesn’t know exactly how the universe works? Would it truly be so reality-shattering to admit that? We atheists do it all the time. And yet no en masse nervous breakdowns.