It can’t just be me—surely other people have noticed the freakishly high frequency at which people who are trying to sell you something will insist that their product is easy to understand. In the public sphere, every time I hear a politician advocate for common sense solutions, I throw up a little in my mouth. Running a country (especially one with over 300 million people in it) is not easy. It’s can’t possibly be simple. Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is lying to you.
Here’s a simple statistic: the US government spends over $400 million dollars … per hour. Can you even imagine that much money? Most people don’t make anywhere near that much in a single lifetime. (Indeed, most won’t even earn even one percent of that.) The US government spends that much every single hour.
Common sense has absolutely nothing to do with such a system.
You know what else common sense has nothing to do with? Anything. This alleged common sense thing is complete crap. It’s just crap. Common sense is an intuition, and intuitions are inconceivably unreliable. Seriously.
Creationists say that biologists are wrong about evolution. Why? Because it’s easier to believe goddidit. According to them, that’s a common sense answer. Those creationists who insist on trying to develop further reasons have been rather prolific, and you could end up wanting to claw your own eyes out before you finished reading all of their nonsense. (I recommend you stop before reaching that point.)
Denialists of global climate change deny that the planet is warming. Why? Because some scientists’ emails were leaked without context, and some of the stuff they said looked fishy, so obviously all scientific conclusions about climate are false. To them, easier to believe in a conspiracy than it is to understand all the complicated science that goes into climatology.
Birthers continue to insist that Barack Obama is ineligible for the office of the Presidency. Why? Because he’s black. Or something. Actually, I don’t really get this one at all. I guess “amazingly sophisticated multi-generational international anti-American plot” seems far more likely to them than “all the available documentation that demonstrates his US citizenship is authentic.” Whatever.
The point is that there are a lot of people who try to oversimplify reality to sell you a message, and these people are terribly misinformed. (I wanted to say evil, but Hanlon’s razor won out. I’m willing to believe that most of them are just well-intentioned fools.)
So in keeping with this spirit of oversimplified and/or completely wrong answers being given in lieu of actual reasoning, I’d like to address this little gem I came across today. Get your barf bag ready because it offers “six straight-forward reasons to believe that God is really there.” And you know what? They’re uniformly terrible reasons.
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Does God exist? The complexity of our planet points to a deliberate Designer who not only created our universe, but sustains it today.
I’m sure I don’t know what this is supposed to mean. The complexity of “our planet?” The author simply must not have meant the physical structure itself…
The Earth…its size is perfect.
Holy crap, she did! She’s seriously trying to argue that an only an Earth-sized world can have an atmosphere capable of sustaining life. Well, she’s in for a little shock thanks to the discovery of this not-so-little rock, which is three times as massive as our homeworld.
The Earth is located the right distance from the sun. Consider the temperature swings we encounter, roughly -30 degrees to +120 degrees. If the Earth were any further away from the sun, we would all freeze. Any closer and we would burn up. Even a fractional variance in the Earth’s position to the sun would make life on Earth impossible.
Oh dear. Someone apparently doesn’t realize that we orbit the sun in an ellipse, meaning the distance between our spacerock and Sol varies quite a bit as we revolve around that big warm ball of fusion. Also, just to be safe, someone should probably tell her that the temperature swings we encounter don’t come from Earth’s distance from the sun but from its axial tilt. In truth, there’s no set distance at which a planet “must” be to support life; all that’s important are what the conditions are like on the ground, so to say. The Goldilocks zone can vary quite a bit!
Next, there’s a bit on about water, and it’s true enough that all the life that we’re aware of requires water to survive. This particular quote jumped out at me, however:
Water freezes from the top down and floats, so fish can live in the winter.
Apparently the wordsmith of this amazing exposé is unaware that many organisms can survive just fine after being frozen.
Evolution focuses on mutations and changes from and within existing organisms. Yet evolution alone [emphasis added] does not fully explain the initial source of the eye or the brain — the start of living organisms from nonliving matter.
Hey, you know what? This is actually 100% true, and it’s equally 100% vacuous. Consider: germ theory alone is not sufficient to fully explain why people get sick.
The theory of evolution describes how genetic changes occur in living organisms over time. Biologists who study evolution aren’t concerned with how that organic matter first came into existence; that’s simply not part of their job description. Creationists often allege that this transition from inorganic chemicals to organic life could not have happened naturally, but if they can’t even get evolutionary theory right, something tells me they won’t be all that interested in seeing the list of possible mechanisms to explain this shift. (Psst—none of these models explain the evolution of living organisms or the laws of physics, either. They don’t need to. Why not? Because that’s not what those models are for, just like how the scientific theory of gravity does nothing to explain why sugar tastes sweet.)
The universe has not always existed. It had a start…what caused that? Scientists have no explanation for the sudden explosion of light and matter.
Oh dear. Apparently not bothering to spend six seconds on Google qualifies as sufficient research to conclude that no scientist has an answer for what caused the big bang. That’s a shame, really, because those six seconds would have been a wise investment. I found this answer to common big bang misconceptions on my first search page. The author here explains why the criticism that the big bang model doesn’t explain the why is completely irrelevant.
Still not satisfied? (Or you didn’t read that article?) Okay, then let’s turn to our good friend Lawrence Krauss for an explanation of that why: before the big bang, there was nothingness, and nothingness is unstable. If you study nothingness, you’ll see that somethingness pops in and out of existence constantly within it. “Nothing is unstable.” You can get an introduction to this idea here (video), or you could check out his book if you want to know more.
PS to crazy Godlady: Krauss is a scientist, and since he has an explanation for that sudden explosion (even though it wasn’t really what we’d call an explosion—see the above misconceptions link for details), I think we can consider this claim thoroughly debunked.
How is it that we can identify laws of nature that never change? Why is the universe so orderly, so reliable?
If I didn’t know better, and if I didn’t know the context, I might be liable to misinterpret this as a failed zen koan. Why should the consistent nature of the universe be in any way remarkable? Is there any evidence to suggest that an unstable universe is even possible? Even if unstable universes are possible, not having an answer to why this universe is stable indicates the existence of a god exactly as much as the ingredients list on a box of Cheerios explains fluid dynamics. Appeals to ignorance explain nothing.
Interestingly enough, there appears to be no way to objectively confirm whether the laws of nature really are uniform; all we can tell is that they seem to be, so we assume that they are. As I mentioned earlier, your intuitions (in this case, that the laws of nature are unchanging) are not always reliable.
All instruction, all teaching, all training comes with intent. Someone who writes an instruction manual does so with purpose.
Holy crap, alert the press corp, someone has uncovered the instruction manual for the genetic code!
Oh wait, fakeout. Sorry. It actually turns out that DNA is actually just the product of other random processes. RNA is pretty badass, but if we’re going to offer that as a hypothesis for the origin of DNA, where did RNA come from? Well, it turns out that there’s more than one hypothesis for this. Scientists may not uniformly agree on these origins, but they offer a series of plausible mechanisms. The goddidit hypothesis certainly leaves far more unanswered questions.
[DNA is] made up of four chemicals that scientists abbreviate as A, T, G, and C.
These four options are just the ones that evolved naturally on Earth. We’re already aware of six possibilities now, but there might be a whole lot more options out there. This is just another example of science being freaking awesome, not that you should need any further proof at this point.
One has to ask….how did this information program wind up in each human cell?
One has to answer: pick up a basic biology textbook—evolution. That’s how.
Does God exist? We know God exists because he pursues us. He is constantly initiating and seeking for us to come to him.
Funny thing that she should mention that. When my friends “pursue” me, they hit me up online. Sometimes I get email. Sometimes I receive actual voice calls through Skype or on the phone. Sometimes people even send me letters or postcards through the mail. When anyone I actually know (and often people I don’t know—I’m looking at you, Nigerian prince!) wants to contact me, they have a whole host of ways to do this. At best, this hypothetical God character would be like a deadbeat dad: I’ve never once got a phone call, visit, or even a Hallmark card from the guy. I’d expect any omnipotent god who sincerely wanted to have a personal relationship with me to, oh I don’t know, introduce himself at least. Announcing “you must find me because I won’t come to you” is not a very convincing way to show someone that you’re interested in getting to know them.
It might be that the underlying reason atheists are bothered by people believing in God is because God is actively pursuing them.
This is not just ignorant, it’s vaguely offensive. It might also be that you’re an agent of Satan who’s devoting all her energy to leading innocent people away from God’s one true form of worship: skepticism.
But seriously, most atheists couldn’t care less what you believe as long as you don’t try to force your beliefs on others. That’s not so much to ask, is it? (Apparently it must be to some, given how often Christians fall back on their persecution complex any time there’s talk of separating religion from government. Hey, isn’t there some law about that somewhere?) So sure, believe in your invisible sky daddy all you like. It doesn’t bother me at all. As soon as you start trying to make me believe in him or adhere to your stupid dogmas, well, then we’ve got ourselves a serious problem on our hands.
Look throughout the major world religions and you’ll find that Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius and Moses all identified themselves as teachers or prophets. None of them ever claimed to be equal to God. Surprisingly, Jesus did. That is what sets Jesus apart from all the others.
Let me see if I’ve got this straight: Jesus is different from every other major world religion because he claimed to be a god. Hmm. I can’t help but notice that something seems to be missing from that list of current world religions. Also, there’s a minor issue of this list excluding all those other religions where so-called gods claimed to be, um, gods. She isn’t even presenting a coherent claim, really. It boils down to “Jesus claimed to be God, so Christianity is true.” I could just as well argue that Mohammed claimed to be speaking God’s words, so Islam is true. Even if we’re constraining ourselves solely to gods who incarnated, there were a bunch of those too.
There’s an obvious problem with any sort of claim to Jesus’s authority to speak for God: neither one of these characters exists or ever existed. There’s no reason to think any supernatural claim in the Bible is even remotely true. The Bible isn’t a good historical source, and many of its specific claims and teachings are incompatible with or blatantly contradict each other. If this book is the product of an omnipotent, omniscient being, that being certainly isn’t one that gives a shit about being understood. (This is probably why the Gnostics were often keen to argue that the world’s creator hated everyone.)
If you want to begin a relationship with God now, you can. This is your decision, no coercion here.
“Believe in me. Love me. Worship me. Fear me. If you fail to do these things, I will punish you with unimaginable torture for all eternity.” Yep. No coercion there. None at all. I wonder why the term “God-fearing” is so often meant to carry a positive connotation. I’ve always been perplexed by that one. But moving on…
But if you want to be forgiven by God and come into a relationship with him, you can do so right now by asking him to forgive you and come into your life.
I require no forgiveness from an imaginary entity, much less this imaginary entity. Indeed, if God did exist, it would be he who owed an apology to us for being such an insufferable douchebag. No god who would design such an existence for humanity would be deserving of worship, and no god who would respond to mere skepticism with such a gross overreaction would deserve even the slightest bit of respect, adoration, or recognition. If there were really such a god, our world would be vastly different—but it certainly would not be better.
So, does God exist? Looking at all these facts, one can conclude that a loving God does exist and can be known in an intimate, personal way.
I reach a slightly different conclusion. Looking at all these “facts,” it seems that one can conclude only that you are an intellectually dishonest, morally bankrupt blowhard wallowing in her own willful ignorance. If you prefer to believe in God, well, good for you, but don’t try to use that belief as an excuse for your own blatant disregard for reality.