Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Most Brilliant Minds Alive Today Are Either Horribly Dumb or Deceived - Atheist Thinking

In a corollary to my post yesterday on atheists believing they are basically very, very good.  There is also a kind of attitude in the blogs of intellectual atheists that is very derisive towards those who are believers.  Sometimes it borders on smugness or even bordering on snarkiness, but it is rarely very far from derisive.

Thus one is left wondering if this tiny minority of the population has arrived at some special knowledge or insight that is kept from the overwhelming majority of those who are the intellectual giants of, not merely the past, but of the present day. 

On the one hand, we have Christians who are curious as to how one looks around at nature and doesn't see design, and how one cannot feel the presence of God.  Thus some Christians or other believers are not kind towards atheists either, and inclined to see them as crackpots or worse.  It is well said by many atheists that it is unlikely that an atheist will ever be elected to high office.  But in this case a huge majority are experiencing something and intuiting something about the universe that is demonstrably proving itself in their lives to be true and valuable.

On the other hand, atheists are not, to my knowledge, experiencing anything or looking around at nature and seeing chaos or something that is obviously not designed.  Rather the atheist goes out of his way to find any explanation other than God to describe how things are and what things mean.  So how does one become smug believing in the absence of something?  Help me out.

10 comments:

Bernardo said...

"Borders on smugness"? "Bordering on snarkiness"? LOL. I'd say it's quite deep into smugness and snarkiness, not just on the border. (But if you watch a Christian apologist talk about atheists, especially those apologists who are good at speaking to crowds of believers, you will see exactly the same amount of smugness and snarkiness).

"this tiny minority of the population has arrived at some special knowledge or insight that is kept from the overwhelming majority of intellectual giants..."

Three reactions:

1) No knowledge is being "kept" from anyone. Everyone, on all sides, writes as many books and articles and blog posts and comments as we can.

2) Intellectual giants are mostly atheists. (Phrased like that, it's an overly-broad generalization, but you know there's some truth to it).

3) Christians also talk as if they "know something you don't know", talking about those poor sinners who have not yet figured out that believing in the divinity of Jesus is the only way to win God's favor.

"a huge majority are experiencing something and intuiting something about the universe that is demonstrably proving itself in their lives to be true and valuable".

Valuable? Sure. True? Not demonstrably! If you think your theistic beliefs are "demonstrably true" then you don't understand what "faith" means.

"atheists are not, to my knowledge, experiencing anything"

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? That is so wrong, I don't even know where to begin. I think I'll let Sagan and Feynman take care of this one.

youtube.com/watch?v=7C8lG9L4XDk

youtube.com/watch?v=zSZNsIFID28

youtube.com/watch?v=3lqsG9_ughU

youtube.com/watch?v=AU8PId_6xec

youtube.com/watch?v=iE9dEAx5Sgw

As Sagan has said; "A religion that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by traditional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge".

Moving on...

"So how does one become smug believing in the absence of something?"

Do you believe that Santa Claus exists? No? How can you be so sure and smug about it? And how dare you be so proud as to believe that you're smarter than the MILLIONS of people who believe in Santa Claus?! ;]

"the atheist goes out of his way to find any explanation other than God to describe how things are"

That's like saying that a person goes out of his way to find an explanation other than Santa Claus for the Christmas gifts under the tree. The Santa explanation is so unsatisfying that, if you have to work a little to find a more satisfying and more empowering (and more true) explanation, then this "going out of one's way" is definitely worthwhile! Besides, Christian apologetics is FAR more convoluted. Have you ever tried to see an apologist try to explain how Jesus is divine and human at the same time? I have. For an hour. It would be no more bizarre or pointless to imagine an adult try to convince other adults of the reality of Santa Claus.

Randy Kirk said...

1) No knowledge is being "kept" from anyone. Everyone, on all sides, writes as many books and articles and blog posts and comments as we can.

Allow me to rephrase. I didn't mean kept in any literal sense. Rather, it just seems odd that such a small population of folks are so crystal clear in their belief, even though it flies in the face of so many of great intellect and achievement, even in the sciences.

Randy Kirk said...

2) Intellectual giants are mostly atheists. (Phrased like that, it's an overly-broad generalization, but you know there's some truth to it).

I don't think this is even remotely true. In fact I would suggest that the intellectual giants of our time would probably be very close to the same 90% who believe in God.

You probably would not include CS Lewis and others as intellectual giants. Many very talented philosophers would not come to your attention because they have been moved out of the mainstream either by choice or by the secularization of the media and public universities.

Randy Kirk said...

Santa Clause is a fictional character never intended as anything but. Those who believe are small children who usually figure it out by age 7 even if they aren't told.

Now, if I am 4 and have been told that Santa put the presents under the tree, and I say to my parents, that cannot be true, but I believe they materialized out of thin air last night, or that a martian landed last night and put them there, now we have an analogy.

You as an atheist have 6000 years of recorded history, including almost all of the greatest minds of all of that time telling you that God did it, and they offer you massive evidence in history, archeology, experience, and coincidences beyond belief (importance of Jerusalem, Christ as greatest teacher and delusional, Dead Sea Scrolls and on and on), they are the parents in the story.

You then, (I could insert myself equally) are the equivalent to the small child, with only a tiny fraction of the knowledge and wisdom of this combination of giants) and you postulate that the entire universe came from nothing, or that there are multiple universes, or that genes are selfish. This would seem to be trying to find any explanation other than that which has been validated for eons.

Moving on,

Why is it so hard to imagine Christ being 100% human and 100% God. I am 100% a dad, 100% a son, 100% a human, 100% material substance, 100% alive, 100% Randy Kirk, 100% lots of things.

If I

Randy Kirk said...

A religion that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by traditional faiths ....

This is obviously pure opinion on his part. In fact, it is this very magnificence we call the face of God. It is this order and beauty that has driven Christian scientists to want to see more and more and more of the incredible awesome creation, and who thank God for what he has provided, not congratulate ourselves for trying to prove He is unnecessary.

Bernardo said...

1) Minorities have been right in the past. Every new idea, including right ones, started out in a minority.

2) telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2111174/Intelligent-people-less-likely-to-believe-in-God.html

Although yes, to be honest, the correlation isn't that simple:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religiosity_and_intelligence

As for Santa:

If you read up on how the Santa stories changed over time, you'll find that some of them have traces of real people in them, even though the story in its modern form is clearly unbelievable. (Just like the Jesus story).

Yes, the analogy is imperfect. Not because the kid's claims should be implausible (naturalism's claims are far more plausible than Christianity's, as far as I can tell. Remember: Miracles!), but because the parents will eventually concede that Santa isn't real and that yes, simpler mechanisms drive what you observe (unlike religious people, who keep insisting that God did it).

People kept insisting that God did it for thousands of years because (How many times do I need to explain this?) we have teleological intuitions. We also have intuitions about the sun moving around the earth and the earth being flat, and those too were promoted for thousands of years until we knew better. Now (especially since the Enlightenment, but really all the way back to Epicurus and Hippocrates) we know enough about the universe to be in a position where we can trust that naturalism is behind everything. If you don't like naturalistic explanations, it's either because you crave teleology (which is fine) or because you keep dishonestly distorting them (No one claims that the universe came "from nothing"; It came from some previous state. Besides, you claim that God came from nothing, and that's not any different).

As for the God/Jesus thing, I don't want to even validate that question by pretending that "divine" has clear consistent meanings. But I can say that some attributes of "God" and some attributes of "human" are mutually exclusive. For example: Either Jesus knew what the plan was and was confident that it would work (God), or he was in the dark about some of it and was afraid that it might not work (human... and passages about him praying during his last few days suggest the latter).

And while the quote about a religion that captures science's awe is indeed pure opinion on Sagan's part, it is unfair of you to say "it is this very magnificence we call the face of God". That doesn't mean anything. It's like "God is love". You take a perception that does exist - a physical phenomenon inside us, similar in nature to physical pain and hunger, or to emotional anger or fear - and say that it is a sign of the supernatural. Well, I say it is not. Just taking things that exist and calling them "God" doesn't mean that the supernatural exists, that the universe has a will, or that it was deliberately created.

Randy Kirk said...

Can you name a single historical document that has more documented evidence of it's truth than the Bible. Is there an individual in human history who has had more impact, been more studied, or had more folks trying to discredit them then Jesus? And yet, through all of that, I doubt you can find a serious historian who doesn't think Jesus existed. If He existed, he must have been at least the most amazing human ever. Three year ministry and massive following. If he was that amazing, where is there even the remotest evidence that those who wrote about him made up the miracles? Something? Anything? Not one contemporaneous work saying that some shrewd reporter finally got to one of the 12 or Paul or Mary or any of the others and under pressure, they broke.

Can you do the same for Lincoln, Washington, Plato, Shakespeare, Napoleon. Is there another work remotely like the Bible. But all of this is just poppycock to you. But you certainly believe that we have global warming caused by humans that will destroy huge ecosystems if we don't stop it. THis take some amazing faith. Especially in the face of sciences beliefs in 2002 that if man traveled at more than 50mph, he would die.

Bernardo said...

"Can you name a single historical document that has more documented evidence of it's truth than the Bible?"

Um... Wikipedia?

The Bible does correctly refer to some historical events that actually happened. And it refers to some actual events but gets the details wrong. And it refers to some stuff that is totally made up. Just because some of it is real doesn't mean that all of it is real.

"Is there an individual in human history who has had more impact, been more studied, or had more folks trying to discredit them then Jesus?"

It wasn't Jesus that had an impact, had folks trying to discredit him, etc... It was the Church. At first the Catholic church, and now a variety of churches. Churches (like corporations) know how to spin catchy memes and how to leverage power.

I do agree that most of what Jesus said was good, and the world would be a better place if more people followed more of it, myself included. But it would be silly to claim that this is the cause of Christianity's spread over the centuries.

"Where is there even the remotest evidence that those who wrote about him made up the miracles?"

If someone says something really really crazy, I don't need specific "evidence" to reasonably conclude that he made the crazy stuff up.

"But you certainly believe that we have global warming caused by humans that will destroy huge ecosystems if we don't stop it."

I never said that. Now you are UNDOUBTEDLY making stuff up.

Bernardo said...

Okay, it's looking like the disappearing comments from Monday night aren't coming back, so... I'll try to re-write mine.

"Can you name a single historical document that has more documented evidence of it's truth than the Bible?"

Um... Wikipedia?

The Bible refers to many actual historical events correctly. It also refers to many actual historical events and gets a lot of the details wrong. It also describes many fictional events. Just because it gets some historical events right (and some half-right), doesn't mean that the rest isn't fictional.

"Is there an individual in human history who has had more impact, been more studied, or had more folks trying to discredit them then Jesus?"

It wasn't Jesus that had this impact. It was the Church. Originally the Catholic church, and now many churches. Like corporations, churches know how to spin catchy memes and how to leverage their power.

I agree that the teachings of the biblical Jesus (whether or not there ever was a real Jesus, whether or not the real Jesus said most of what's attributed to him) are very good and that the world would be a better place if more people (myself included) did a better job of following them. But it is silly an naive to claim that this is the cause of Christianity's spread.

"where is there even the remotest evidence that those who wrote about him made up the miracles?"

If someone makes up something really really crazy, I don't need "evidence" before reasonably believing that the really crazy stuff is made up.

"But you certainly believe that we have global warming caused by humans that will destroy huge ecosystems if we don't stop it."

When did I ever say that? Now you are DEFINITELY making stuff up.

Page1Listings.com said...

Wikipedia? Really? LOL

Then you claim that the Bible gets things wrong. Hmmm. I know there has been plenty of debate on that over the years. I didn't know that the world had finally agreed to anything the Bible gets wrong. But if you know for sure that the Bible has some things wrong, I'm impressed.

Now then, it wasn't Jesus who had the impact. Right? Do you have any support for that premise. Do people claim the name of Paul or Pope John? When people come to a saving faith, it is in Jesus, not the church. If the church becomes illegal or unavailable, people still pray to and worship Christ. I know many Christians who are very unhappy with the Church, and don't attend, but live and preach Jesus.

Sorry to confuse you with the global warming crowd. There is hope for you. : )

There is also this nasty thing that keeps happening to folks who claim that the Bible has things wrong. Archaeological (science, right?) digs keep finding new stuff that proves the Bible right. Hmmmm