Why Atheists get frustrated

Posted: May 9, 2007 in Atheism, Evolution, Religion

story.jpgAtheism is based on rational thought and reasoning. Precious little, if anything, is taken on face value and every possible detail is peer reviewed, critiqued and scrutinised as much possible. Yes, that sounds much like the scientific method but, generally speaking, Atheists embrace the scientific method like a middle aged cop embraces doughnuts.

What gets Atheists, such as myself, frustrated is seeing the same arguments brought up time and again and again and again and again and again and again …. even though they have been shot down and discredited so many times we should probably just make a macro in Office which gives an automatic reply whenever it encounters a certain set of key words. It’d really save us a lot of time and bother.

A good example of this is a recent little opinion piece written by one ‘Frank Pastore‘ called ‘Why Atheism Fails: The Four Big Bangs‘. Read on for what he wrote and a breakdown on why it’s really a bad piece of writing full of points and arguments which anyone with even a basic understanding of science knows to be a waste of time.

Pastore’s article basically goes with four main questions or points that he states that Atheism is unable to answer, which of course is wrong since they have all been answered many times already.

“What is the origin of the universe? Why is there something rather than nothing? How do you get matter and energy from nothingness? How do you get a rock out of nothing?

bigbang2.jpgOf course, the best scientific theory right now is that of The Big Bang. There is a tremendous amount of evidence to support the Big Bang theory; from mathematics, to observations to even other scientific theories/laws supporting it such as General Relativity. It happened, there is proof for it happened, etc. The following links can actually explain the facts as they are understood today:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bang

http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Big_Bang

http://www.creationtheory.org/YoungEarth/Hartman-4.shtml

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/astronomy/bigbang.html

“What is the origin of life? How do you get life from non-life? How do you go from a rock to a tree?

That is solidly covered by the Theory of Abiogenesis. At it’s most fundamental, it is the theory which states how life originated on the planet we happened to call Earth. You get this nice chemical soup full of proteins and other fun things which when combined with some other neat things and elements goes straight to creating the known building blocks of life. Again, here’s some further reading on the subject from well respected sites that have more time than I do to type all the information out:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/

http://www.creationtheory.org/Probability/Creationist-1.shtml

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis

“What is the origin of mind? How does a living thing become a self-conscious being? How do you go from a tree, to an animal, to a human?”

 Homer and his BrainThat’s a misleading question to say the least. The power of the mind, or self awareness as some call it, is nothing more than a wonderful product of evolutionary means. To survive, we simply got smarter and smarter. The human brain is the most complex and powerful on the planet and we are the dominant species – not because we’re the strongest or fastest (really, we’re pretty physically frail) but because we learned and studied and mastered our environment so they we could not only survive but also thrive.

“What is the origin of good and evil? How does an amoral being become morally aware?”

For some reason I am not aware of, many religious people steadfastly hold onto the notion that ethics and morality come straight from their deity of choice. Which, obviously, is logically absurd. What about all the other deities worshipped across the world now and in the past? Didn’t they make morality and ethics? Why is your deity so special in that regard? Again, ethics and morality are derived simply from the evolution of life. Those that stick together and help each other out are far more likely to survive than those that go it alone. Hence, we developed a sense of right and wrong to assist us in keeping the species going – if you kill another member of the species or rob from them, you’re hurting the species as a whole and so on.

http://www.iep.utm.edu/e/evol-eth.htm

http://www.evolutionaryethics.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics_and_evolutionary_psychology

So that’s a quick explanation and links to further information if you want to know more. The point is that these questions/points/arguments have been countered many times before and it is only those people grossly ignorant of the subject matter who keep trying to bring them up.

The rest of Pastore’s piece of full of similar nonsense such as:

“Throw out lots of words that people can’t understand. Talk over them. Blind them with science. Talk about the details of the leaves on the trees but don’t allow them to bring it back to “Why the forest at all?” Assert the fact/value distinction. Claim that only science deals with knowledge. Drop in some postmodern gobbledygook.

Which seems to be saying something along the lines of “If it’s complicated and you don’t understand it, then it must be wrong”. Which, of course, is wrong in itself. I do not understand how the car I own works, the mechanical workings of my own auto-mobile is not a matter in which I am learned. If someone wished to explain it to me, they would undoubtedly have to use a few terms I do not fully comprehend (at least, not until I do further research). Does that mean my car does not work? Oddly enough, it seemed to work just fine when I drove it just this morning. In short, it is not the fault of Atheists and Scientists if people are ignorant of science and theories – people have a responsibility to actually gain a basic understanding of what they are trying to talk about before they actually talk about it.

Many of the comments to that piece also demonstrate an astounding ignorance of Evolutionary Theory, even what a Scientific Theory is. For example, ‘lazyeyes’ wrote in reply:

“the big bang theory violates the law of conservation of mass, and the law of conservation of energy”

Again, this is an argument/point that has been countered and refuted many times indeed. A basic understanding of the Laws of Thermodynamics will tell you why that statement is wrong (though it will fail to tell you why people keep trying to use it).

http://www.creationtheory.org/Database/Article6

http://www.creationtheory.org/Database/Article10

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/thermo/probability.html

http://www.2ndlaw.com/evolution.html

http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/question.php?number=441

To conclude, the above is but the smallest of examples why Atheists sometimes get frustrated – dealing with the wilfully ignorant is never a pleasant task and yet it it is something that needs to be done. What makes it even worse is when you find someone who portrays themselves as being an expert in a given field (the owner of http://www.atheist-stooges.com springs to mind as a good example) and then turns out to know nothing.

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Comments
  1. Sojourner says:

    To be fair (although I am not sure why I need to be) it seems to be the case that our answers are not convincing, which is perhaps why the same questions keep being asked again and again. For example, to the answer of “the big bang” there is the further question of yes, okay, but why then, and why that particular way, and so forth. The grand distinction between theists and atheists is, really, that theists believe that the answers to the most important questions have already been given, so that science is at best, an elucidation of existing and known “Truth” (and at worst a distracting lie) whilst atheists believe that we do not have all the answers, that we probably haven’t even figured out the most important questions yet, and that our own efforts can eventually uncover both these questions and their answers, so that science is an unfolding system of understanding (which is why god, however defined, tends to result in a shortchanging of reason). I would suggest, that, if nothing else, “god” is surely a premature notion.

  2. honjii says:

    even though they have been shot down and discredited so many times we should probably just make a macro in Office which gives an automatic reply whenever it encounters a certain set of key words

    Now that you mention it the questions and answers posted on my blog, by fundamentalists, are so repetitive that perhaps they have their own macro…possibly given out freely at their local indoctrination stations.

  3. metaljaybird says:

    voxday.blogspot.com experiences the same tired arguments from atheists. He usually wins.

    From what I can gather, he writes for Worldnetdaily which is about as reputable as what you find on the bottom off your shoe after quickly walking through a yard full of dogs. – Matt

  4. metaljaybird says:

    I don’t see any issues with WND. They are opposite the mainstream, which is quite refreshing amidst the perpetual garbage Fox, CNN, and MSNBC spews out.

  5. AV says:

    To be fair (although I am not sure why I need to be) it seems to be the case that our answers are not convincing, which is perhaps why the same questions keep being asked again and again.

    Another possibility is that those asking the questions are ignorant of the existing debates, and therefore are acting in good faith. Those who fall into this category should perhaps be treated with more patience than those who are being willfully ignorant.

    (BTW–and this is pure pedantry on my part, but as an English teacher I am compelled to ask–why do you capitalise “atheist” and “atheism”?)

    [WND] are opposite the mainstream

    Which has absolutely nothing to do with their credibility. “They laughed at Einstein too . . .” & c. & c.

    (As an aside, I’ve heard the same argument advanced in defence of Fox.)

  6. Bruce says:

    The argument gets more worrisome when you consider that people laughed at Pauline Hanson. 😉

  7. Bruce says:

    Oh, BTW Matt, you’ve been tagged.

  8. eltower says:

    Worse of all, the arguments for a deistic interpretation of Life, the Universe and Everything are so convoluted and complex… they beget far more questions than they answer and they try to kill curiosity by settling all questions with the hopelessly ambiguous and Orwellian answer of: “Therefore God exists”.

  9. cragar says:

    I can’t believe this post has been up for 2+ months and no one noticed your x-ray was of Homer Simpson.

  10. D says:

    I have a question, and I’d like your opinion on it. So far, I’ve only heard one side of the answer, so please explain.

    If you believe everything was made up from an explosion, where did time come from? Time couldn’t be made up from a “soup of protein and other fun things,” so where did it come from?
    (keep in mind that I mean no disrespect when asking this question)

    I just want to know your opinion.

  11. Matt says:

    That question is based on the assumption that time is a completely separate force to space, when the two of them are really pretty much the same thing – hence why it’s referred to by any scientist who has a clue as SpaceTime.

  12. D says:

    I don’t quite see how time could be space, since space is…space. Isn’t space nothingness? Time isn’t nothing. Time is something, and if space is nothingness, time can’t be space.
    Anyway that isn’t my point.
    Still, you haven’t answered my question.

  13. Jon says:

    Time is space, this is accepted scientific fact. You are free to be of the opinion that ‘space is nothing’ and ‘time can’t be space’ but phenomena like time dilation has been observed.

    But you say time is ‘something’- is it? Can you define it, is it tangible?

    The simple fact is that time can be affected by space and vice versa, they are tied into one and other. Read up on ‘Spacetime’ as suggested by Matt, a google search should satisfy your curiosity.

  14. D says:

    A reason I think time is a thing is that time is something. If time was nothing, there wouldn’t be time. Another opinion of mine is that time isn’t eternal. If it was, there would be an endless past, therefore no way to reach the present. For this reason, time can’t be eternal, therefore it had to be created in one form or another, so time is a thing.

  15. Jon says:

    Time isn’t eternal, indeed. It began at the big bang.

    Still, you haven’t really achieved anything with that answer, ‘if time was nothing there wouldn’t be time’. What is time, can you define it, as a tangible item?

    Space-time is something, it can be warped and affected by mass. That’s the important thing though, space and time are mutually exclusive, you don’t say one exists and the other doesn’t.

  16. D says:

    If time isn’t tangible, how could something intangible be created by an explosion?
    More importantly, where did this explosion come from? Where did singularity come from? Unless there was something eternal that could have provided the means for the explosion, it didn’t happen.
    I can’t define time very well, because I only have a sense of it. I only have the knowledge that it is there. I can’t hear, feel, smell, taste, or see it. I only know it is there. If time can’t be touched, how could an explosion create it. Let alone an explosion that came from singularity that came from nothing, which is scientifically inaccurate.

  17. Matt says:

    You’re not thinking about your own questions before you answer them.
    Gravity, for example, can’t be experienced through the traditional senses – you can’t see, hear it, touch it, etc. Yet we’re pretty sure that gravity exists. It’s an intangible force (and one that affects time, oddly enough) which was created as a by-product of the Big Bang.
    Go figure.

  18. D says:

    Gravity affects time? I know that gravity affects our keeping track of time, but there is, I don’t believe, any scientific evidence that can prove that. If there is, I don’t care. It doesn’t prove much; it isn’t that helpful to know.

    Just because gravity affects time doesn’t mean that time was created from the big bang.
    Go figure….

    ….no seriously, go figure that out.

  19. D says:

    Oh, sorry. Misread your comment. I read again after I had written my comment, and realized I must have read it in a weird way. sorry ’bout that.

  20. D says:

    Still, wouldn’t it make sense if gravity came from a big bang indirectly? But what about time? It doesn’t come from anything we know of. It may be intangible like gravity, but that doesn’t prove anything.

  21. Matt says:

    You’re still regarding time as being separate from space, when the two of them are intrinsically linked so much they are the the same thing. Hence; Spacetime.

  22. D says:

    Please explain why you think time and space are the same thing. If you don’t, we won’t get anywhere in this argument.

  23. Matt says:

    It is not a matter of me ‘thinking’ they are the same, it is an established and well documented fact. The most basic of Google searches comes up with the following pages which should explain it nicely:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spacetime
    http://www.theory.caltech.edu/people/patricia/st101.html
    http://www.ws5.com/spacetime/

  24. D says:

    I haven’t had the time to read your links yet, but I’ll get to it as soon as I can.

    In the mean time, why did you bring up the time-space thing? Do you believe that space has always been around or something? Because I know that time can’t be eternal.

    I also noticed that you avoided my original comment.

  25. Matt says:

    The spacetime topic was raised because of a misconception presented about the nature of time. I believe all other points and questions have been addressed.

  26. D says:

    What was the misconception? That time isn’t eternal?

  27. Matt says:

    That time exists as a separate force, that it is not intrinsically tied to space. That Spacetime doesn’t exist. Clear?

  28. Chris Gray says:

    Gravity – there are numerous sites which help explain this question, just 1 is . My point, science has conclutions!

    Time – Ditto and here is 1 . I think time is what we have made it. It began at the Big Bang and continues unstopable. Maybe we’re looking too hard, wanting to find explanations which can only ever be hypothesis. Is time not quite simply “the continuum of experience in which events pass from the future through the present to the past” – and nothing more?

    On the ‘Big bang’ and Evolution topic –

    I have had some very intereting conversations with an renowned, pragmatic geologist. he once pointed out a very simple yet profound observation.

    “The World, and everything in it, is quite simply the result of an enormouse accident.”

    When one honestly acknowledges the merits of science and the presence of facts, think about it. Had the circumstances resulting from the ‘Big Bang’ not have unfolded in the exact manner in which they did, life as we know it would be completely different, or not at all.

    We do need to acknowledge that the universe and all that lies beyond is a mass of mineral, gas and organic matter interacting and reacting in spectacular ways. How, why, what is the source of this energy? As completely insignificant microbes within it all, we can never hope to know.

    So, let science do what it can to inform us about our immediate surrounds. Lets listen and learn what we can do collectively to concentrate the tremendous human resources which have evolved on this planet to help ensure it’s survival.

  29. D says:

    I’m a Christian, so I have my answer for where the universe came from.

    I wonder, though, how do you think this “accident” happened? How could it without any aid whatsoever? This never made sense to me. Why would people think that the universe came from an explosion that came from nothing? According to science, everything must come from something, but the “scientific” theory of the big bang contradicts that. This just makes me wonder…

  30. Matt says:

    Have you actually bothered to look into the Big Bang Theory at all? Currently there are some great models and theories which fit all available data and explain it’s origins wonderfully. Google it, the answers are there.

    As for having ‘all the answers’ from Christianity. That depends a bit on what sort of Christian you are. If you follow Catholic dogma where at least two different Popes have come out to say that Evolution happened then that’s not so bad – bit off the track but within sight of it still. But if you’re a Young Earth Creationist who thinks that there was a global flood and the planet is only about 6,000 years old … then you’re in a realm which has no evidence at all to support it.

  31. D says:

    I looked into the big bang theory, but it still doesn’t make sense.

    I haven’t really looked into other theological theories, all I know is that there is an earth, it had to get here somehow, and so far, no scientific theory can answer where it came from. Therefore I only use logic to explain where the earth came from. I don’t care how old the earth is, it doesn’t really matter. I know that there were humans ever since Creation. There was no evolution for humans. There isn’t even science supporting that theory. Mabye there are some animals that became flawed and different over time, but humans haven’t changed. If there isn’t logic OR science supporting the evolution theory of humans, why, then, believe it? Here’s what I think about the big bang. If a big-bang “scientist” hears an explosion behind him, and asks what happened, and everyone tells him that a man exploded for absolutely no reason, he wouldn’t believe that. He would know that someone exploded, he would see the evidence. He would believe that there had to be something that aided in the explosion. After all, explosions don’t come out of nowhere. Something/someone had to have aided in this.

  32. Matt says:

    “I looked into the big bang theory, but it still doesn’t make sense.”

    Sure it does. You may not be able to understand it but that does not make any less true.

    “no scientific theory can answer where it came from. ”

    Then obviously you did not read up on the Big Bang Theory and the resulting formation of the billions of Galaxies well at all.

    “There was no evolution for humans. There isn’t even science supporting that theory.”

    The evidence for human evolution is immense indeed. From useless internal organs, DNA, fossils, archaelogical, changing jaw structure, etc. Humans have changed quite a bit in just the past few centuries, even, as we gained better nutrition standards.

    “If a big-bang “scientist” hears an explosion behind him, and asks what happened, and everyone tells him that a man exploded for absolutely no reason, he wouldn’t believe that.”

    Of course he wouldn’t. Scientists do not assume things quickly or jump to conclusions. Instead he’d examine the circumstances and evidence and then draw his own conclusion based on that. For the record, cases of spontaneous combustion in humans are recorded.

    I recommend you go to talkorigins.org (which backs up all it’s pages with links to science journals, pages, references, etc and is highly regarded as being very on the level) and use the search feature there to get the answers to the areas you obviously don’t understand yet.

  33. D says:

    So you’ve found a “missing link”?

    Explain where “singularity” came from then. If you can’t, and aren’t able to possibly explain it, then it probably isn’t true.

    I didn’t know that there were cases of spontaneous combustion so strong that it could blow up a human. That would be something.

  34. D says:

    I’ll look at that link as soon as I can. I’m a little busy at the moment, though, so I’ll have to get back to you on that.

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