Michael Woodson 
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Re: “Inside the mind of one atheist

In response to Daniel V.:

Saying that atheism is an 'absence of belief' is a negative phrasing for a belief that belief itself is untrue or does not work. If one cannot prove or disprove a negative, such as the 'absence of belief' then the definition of atheism is non-falsifiable.

Also, for one whose rule is that faith is not valid or worthy, no amount of evidence for God would ever be an acceptable amount from which to believe the rest of the way. This is a set up because an infinite Being cannot be infinitely proven by finite beings who cannot last out the experiment before they must believe to be convinced or die and ruin the experiment as a scientific, sensory, finite endeavor.

Because scientists would have to forever test whether God meets up with His infinity attribute (one of the things that defines God) scientists cannot be assured of their capacity to falsify this attribute before either they die or before all of humanity is extinct from the earth.

The same would go to scientists' incapacity to test for infinite qualities of God such as infinite love, wisdom and power and their interrelationship. Hence, without the benefit of infinite sight, judgments of God based on history's purported and recorded events are premature. Therefore essential elements of God are not falsifiable because human incapacity cannot falsify them, not because of Divine separateness or aloofness or a philosophical construct by theologians to hide a non-existent ball.

The one who sets the condition of having knowledge of God before accepting faith in God uses the knowledge condition to be aloof from God because finite knowledge of the infinity can never fully happen, leaving room for eternal doubt if one does not accept the grace of faith in and of God.

Unbelief is also set up by atheists to be non-falsifiable because the controller of how much evidence and what kind would be sufficient to cause belief in God has already raised the bar to infinity and beyond (with apologies to Buzz Lightyear) and cannot be counted on to stick around to finish the sensory experiment.

Another problem atheists have is going far afield of science in the name of science. In the specific case of God, atheists claim there is no evidence of God, hence they don't believe in God. But not just any dearth of evidence, but they say there is no 'scientific' evidence of God. In saying this, they make more of the scientific method than the scientific method ever does or ever will. No rational scientists discounts philosophy or history because science exists.

Implied as a negative dogma in the atheist's philosophical prejudice is that nothing is true or existent unless it is sensed by our five senses and the sensing of it is replicable among many or falsifiable among many. The scientific method does not make this global claim about knowledge in general, but many atheists seem to do so.

If anything is anthropomorphic, this reduction of knowable things to suit the five senses is. It also conflicts with other abstract capabilities of the brain. Perhaps this helps explain why physicists and astro-scientists of many stripes tend to have many more believers in their ranks in God than biologists.

Nicholls goes a step further and says that religions are dangerous because their claims cannot be proven or disproved to the five senses. Again, the scientific method does not require this conclusion, Nicholls does. The dangerousness of a religion as a basis for saying God does not exist may as well be expanded to the dangerousness of life in general proving that God does not exist, for the dangers that kill are not religion dependent although they may have been manipulative of religions throughout history.

This ideology asks, even demands, that we drop all else and obey only the ideology of the sensory, however, the ideology is not even itself proven by the experience of the sensory organs. Rather it is over use or bad experience via the sensory organs that drives many people to seek more meaning, to seek God and to seek the peace of spiritual life beyond the senses.

Another problem with atheist claims to science is that science traditionally studies physical elements and living things not more intelligent than man. There seems to be no explanation from atheists as to why it would be rational for scientists to conform the scientific method used for less intelligent life, matter and processes to the study of a living intelligence beyond the scientist on the scientists' terms. Suppose for a moment that you were a supreme being and knew that scientists, after discovering something about how you interact with matter, discard your terms for the use of that discovery and use it to destroy their fellow persons who you also love. Would you let such people experiment on you?

By leaning on science, a method of seeking only evidence that can be found and described in terms of the five human senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch, atheism demands an extraordinary reduction of science from its revolutionary scientific past. A proven historical element of science is its revolutionary quality. Here scientists have said that all living things and beings are subject to evolution, yet some atheists say "not science."

Then comes the question of how much evidence speaking to the senses would prove a thing? And who decides? That threshold unfortunately carries an inherent conflict of interest that erodes the reliability of evidence standards. If the conditional knower asserts that he or she will only know God when the conditional knower senses evidence of God, he or she become the god-like referee with the power to reset the conditions. Besides, if one admits that there is any evidence for God, that person may have to share control over his or her dogmas and share his or her authority with a Supreme Being by obedience to its commandments. Who, having relieved themselves of such demands except by state or social coercion, would want to freely add demands to themselves? Most want more freedom and power to decide, not less. Yet it is lonely at the top and power is over rated. It turns out that love is more powerful and lasting.

2 likes, 7 dislikes
Posted by Michael Woodson on 08/14/2010 at 6:08 AM

Re: “Inside the mind of one atheist

In my comment above, an important correction:

"Atheist regimes which have identified their very belief in a conscience and valued humanity only as a set of materially useful units, have genocided much more often."

should read

"Atheist regimes which disclaimed their belief in an innate spiritual conscience and have devalued human beings as mere material units for use by the regime, have genocided much more and more often than those with religious conscience gone awry with political passion. This doesn't make one wrong worse than another wrong for wrong, but it refutes the silent premise lacing Nicholls piece, which is that somehow religions are themselves dangerous absent political manipulation and atheist regimes and politics are not as much or more dangerous."

1 like, 3 dislikes
Posted by Michael Woodson on 08/12/2010 at 11:11 AM

Re: “Inside the mind of one atheist

Some problems with Nicholl's thinking:

1. False premise: Nicholls' falsely assumes that believers in God use God as an explanation for all that science has not yet explained. Not so. Most educated and honest believers and scientists see scientific method as a discipline that addresses the "what" and "how," but faith as deeply involved in the soul's personal relationship to the "why,": the meaning of life, and this meaning is a relationship with the Source Being beyond all that is, the infinity Being, and very close to home, with one another. The mediating substance of these relationships is Divine in origin and the meaning of it evades scientific pigeon-holing: Love. The premise of faith is that the invisible parts of us are the greater parts of us, and they are functional within and outside of our bodies, yet in conflict with them because of disobedience to the commandments of God (Love God, Love neighbor as self, Love enemies, don't murder, don't steal, don't lie, don't commit adultery...etc.).

2. Nicholls' false assumption about himself: Teaching recent adolescents in college and dominating the discussion with authority and greater facility with the subject to lead discussion to the teacher's conclusions does not constitute qualification to declare a truth or an argument won. Bring the argument into a wider public if you really want to be tested. That is somewhat the effect of this piece, but in a limited way. This piece really is an atheist sermon full of untested assertions.

3. False Assumption: That atheism is a scientifically based, and not itself a belief. It is a belief. Science can neither prove or disprove God unless God came again as a man and thoroughly proved it complete with explanations that tie all the science together with the borders of God's faith-accessed cosmos. God is supernatural by definition, and so is skew of naturalistic science beyond revelation into naturalistic terms. Atheists believe there is no God, but have no clear and convincing evidence proving there is no God. They have circumstantial evidence on which they base their belief that there is no God. However, believers see the same evidence as indicative of God.

4. The old canard about religious wars and violence as a pretext for calling religion dangerous follows a number of false thinking tracks. First, Nicholls fails to mention the political interference and commandeering of religion on one hand, and the rise of political ambition among self-identified religious persons rooted in a cynical disbelief in their own religion and faith that God will ultimately take care of them without need of political ensnarement. It is that ensnarement that corrupts people away from their true faith and into a reliance on the politics of mankind. We all know how reliable that is. Second, Nicholls fails to mention that atheist regimes, often on the pretext of 'religious dangerousness' have murdered exponentially more people than politicized religionists who have lost their faith for the atheist line. This is because such persons still have a religiously educated conscience that expect them to limit their own power to serve others. Even if they get lost in political passions and bury this voice of conscience, it haunts them. Atheist regimes which have identified their very belief in a conscience and valued humanity only as a set of materially useful units, have genocided much more often.

5. Atheists nor scientists have discredited pure arguments from design rooted in faith and reason. Perhaps scientists and philosophers have discredited those arguments from design that dogmatically over-declare themselves to claim that there is no proof or evidence of evolution. However, the discrediting goes primarily to the overbroad claims, not to the reasonableness of a belief that there is a greater, even divine intelligence behind the cosmos and nature. As C.S. Lewis wrote, and I paraphrase, "the universe seems unplanned to the darkened mind precisely because there are more plans than it expected." Lewis's quote dovetails well with the concept of revolutionary science, a truth about science that has it chasing reality as reality changes, or, as greater contexts reveal themselves which the ongoing limitations of science had not previously caught.

6. The argument from evil to disprove God is also dysfunctional. It says that if God is all powerful but does not choose to end all evil on earth, He cannot be all good. It also says that if God is all good, God would not allow evil on earth to cause our misery. The first problem is that this syllogism fails to factor in human responsibility for the evil that causes misery. It also fails to consider that if evolution is possible, so is devolution. Not only biologically, but spiritually, if the principle has salt. And if spiritually and physically, human beings degrade themselves by their choices, they will never learn not to do so if they are not allowed to experience the effects of it. Moreover, if they were not given death to halt the process, who knows how far man may devolve himself? How bad it would get? From this perspective, assessing what kind of God God Is goes beyond whether He is All Good and All Powerful. It goes to whether He Is also All Wise. If He is All Wise, then it is more than reasonable to assume that He would rather allow the relatively temporal suffering of limited individual lifetimes than the immortal devolution of human beings into demons exponentially worse than the road rage dudes you encounter frothing at you on the highway or the worst criminals.* (*and for most, not all of life is suffering -- but a mixture of good experience, joyous, elevating experiences and relationships with difficult, painful and degrading experiences within the common crucible of human society and relationships).

7. Bet you thought I thought I had to end this set of arguments on the number 7 because I'm superstitious? Not really. I begin it again here, opening my limited observations and thoughts to better, wiser thinkers, and to the unknowns in the mind of God which I'd encourage everyone to seek first by obeying God's commandments, and later, by daring your local "independent" newspaper to interview you as an anonymous believer in God as to what the battle to obey the commandments is like in this life. As Plato wrote, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle."

0 likes, 5 dislikes
Posted by Michael Woodson on 08/12/2010 at 11:00 AM

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