The Faith of an Atheist – By Norman L. Geisler

The Faith of an Atheist

From the Book “I don’t have enough faith to be an Atheist” By Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek

While some faith is required for our conclusions, it’s often forgotten that faith is also required to believe any worldview, including atheism and pantheism. We were reminded of this recently when we met an atheist named Barry at one of our seminars. Barry was incredulous that a mutual friend, Steve, had become a Christian.

He said, “I can’t figure Steve out. He claims to be intellectual, but he can’t answer all the objections I pose to him about Christianity. He says he doesn’t have all the answers because he’s new and still learning.”

I (Frank) said, “Barry, it’s virtually impossible to know everything about a particular topic, and it’s certainly impossible when that topic is an infinite God. So there has to come a point where you realize you have enough information to come to a conclusion, even if unanswered questions remain.”

Barry agreed but still didn’t realize that he was doing exactly what he was chiding Steve for doing. Barry had decided his view—atheism—was correct even though he did not have exhaustive information to support it. Did he know for sure there is no God? Had he investigated every argument and evidence for the existence of God? Did he possess exhaustive information on the question of God? Could he answer every objection to atheism? Of course not. Indeed, it would be impossible to do so. Since Barry, like Steve, is dealing in the realm of probability rather than absolute certainty, he has to have a certain amount of faith to believe that God does not exist.

Although he claimed to be an agnostic, Carl Sagan made the ultimate statement of faith in atheistic materialism when he claimed that “the Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.”A) How did he know that for sure? He didn’t. How could he? He was a limited human being with limited knowledge. Sagan was operating in the realm of probability just like Christians are when they say God exists. The question is, who has more evidence for their conclusion? Which conclusion is more reasonable? As we’ll see when we look at the evidence, the atheist has to muster a lot more faith than the Christian.

You may be thinking, “The atheist has to muster a lot more faith than the Christian! What possibly could Geisler and Turek mean by that?” We mean that the less evidence you have for your position, the more faith you need to believe it (and vice versa). Faith covers a gap in knowledge. And it turns out that atheists have bigger gaps in knowledge because they have far less evidence for their beliefs than Christians have for theirs. In other words, the empirical, forensic, and philosophical evidence strongly supports conclusions consistent with Christianity and inconsistent with atheism. Here are a few examples of that evidence that we’ll unpack in the ensuing chapters:

1.      The scientific evidence overwhelmingly confirms that the universe exploded into being out of nothing. Either someone created something out of nothing (the Christian view), or no one created something out of nothing (the atheistic view). Which view is more reasonable? The Christian view. Which view requires more faith? The atheistic view.

2.      The simplest life form contains the information-equivalent of 1,000 encyclopedias. Christians believe only an intelligent being can create a life form containing the equivalent of 1,000 encyclopedias. Atheists believe nonintelligent natural forces can do it. Christians have evidence to support their conclusion. Since atheists don’t have any such evidence, their belief requires a lot more faith.

3.      Hundreds of years beforehand, ancient writings foretold the coming of a man who would actually be God. This man-God, it was foretold, would be born in a particular city from a particular bloodline, suffer in a particular way, die at a particular time, and rise from the dead to atone for the sins of the world. Immediately after the predicted time, multiple eyewitnesses proclaimed and later recorded that those predicted events had actually occurred. Those eyewitnesses endured persecution and death when they could have saved themselves by denying the events. Thousands of people in Jerusalem were then converted after seeing or hearing of these events, and this belief swept quickly across the ancient world. Ancient historians and writers allude to or confirm these events, and archaeology corroborates them. Having seen evidence from creation that God exists (point 1 above), Christians believe these multiple lines of evidence show beyond a reasonable doubt that God had a hand in these events. Atheists must have a lot more faith to explain away the predictions, the eyewitness testimony, the willingness of the eyewitnesses to suffer and die, the origin of the Christian church, and the corroborating testimony of the other writers, archeological finds, and other evidence that we’ll investigate later.

Now perhaps these three points have raised in your mind some questions and objections. They should, because we’re leaving out a lot of the detail that we’ll unpack throughout the book. The main point for now is that you see what we mean when we say that every worldview—including atheism—requires some degree of faith.

Even skeptics have faith. They have faith that skepticism is true. Likewise, agnostics have faith that agnosticism is true. There are no neutral positions when it comes to beliefs. As Phillip Johnson so aptly put it, “One who claims to be a skeptic of one set of beliefs is actually a true believer in another set of beliefs.” In other words, atheists, who are naturally skeptical of Christianity, turn out to be true believers in atheism. As we shall see, if they are honest with the evidence, they need a lot more faith to maintain their atheistic beliefs than Christians need to maintain theirs.


A) Carl Sagan, Cosmos (New York: Random House, 1980), 4.

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7 Responses to The Faith of an Atheist – By Norman L. Geisler

  1. jm says:

    Excellent, thank you for posting.

  2. Sentinel says:

    Great post, thanks for writing it.

    I’m intrigued at the lack of self-reflection on the “articles of faith” which characterise most atheists. We all, as thinking people, have questions about eschatological issues and matters of ultimate origin, purpose and destiny. We have also all resolved those issues to various degrees of satisfaction, always based on imperfect and limited information. And yet according to the atheist creed, some of those resolutions count as “faith” and others can confidently be proclaimed “fact”?

    I recently wrote an article on what I believe “faith” means in a Christian paradigm – you may enjoy reading it:
    http://spiritualmeanderings.wordpress.com/2010/04/16/faith-reflecting-on-evidence/

  3. Thanks very much for your comment, I have checked little about your blog and will be back for more. Thanks for doing such a great job. Please feel free to post any time or if insert post sections of entire posts here. Always keen to hear and learn from others.

  4. Sentinel says:

    tildeb: “At least the honest inquirer will admit although an answer may there, it may not be knowable. We call these people atheists. ”

    …no, actually we call these people agnostics. If they go one step further and claim that the answer is not knowable, we call these people “strong agnostics”.

    It is only when they go beyond that position and explicitly deny the existence of the Divine that we start to use the term “atheist”.

  5. tildeb: Intrigued? You mean dishonest, Sentinel.
    Atheism as you well know is not a faith of a different kind. It is non belief in the god hypothesis, non belief in explanations that rely on some supernatural interventionist creator agencies. That you have difficulty distinguishing the different meanings of the word ‘belief’ is not an accurate reflection on the self-reflection you presume is not carried out by atheists. And your presumption does not end here.
    You presume atheists are concerned about eschatological issues (end matters) and matters of ultimate origin, matters of destiny and matters of purpose. You presume that these answers are knowable, if not by science then by belief. Your presumption knows no bounds. What is the mass of every bird flying right now? There is an answer, and it is factual, but how can we know it?

    When science steps away from any definitive answer because we do not have the necessary epistemological basis to know this factual answer, you are presumptuous to suggest that belief is an alternate and legitimate way. You are wrong as well as presumptuous. At best, belief is a wild stab in the dark, no better and no worse than any other. At least the honest inquirer will admit although an answer may there, it may not be knowable. We call these people atheists. And they are most assuredly not faithists of a different kind. They recognize belief in the religious sense for what it honestly is: a presumed knowledge called ‘faith’ based only on assumption.

    Defend the Word: You would be correct if your assumption about faith was correct. It is your deep misunderstanding of faith is that is causing you greatest hardship in your misconception on what the reality of what is knowable and what the real merits of scientific work should be.

    Most Christians go from what is knowable then they move to the more complex and harder to understand things, and this is where many atheist stumble, driven by the ideology and blinded by the patterns of thought that appeal to them with very little understanding of what true meaning of anything is.
    Fact that you could have meaning of anything is an argument in itself that God had created you and I with the ability to understand that which we analyse implies two things first: order that obeys laws of nature and Second: our ability to understand it.

    But more interestingly then this you will find that some things even in science are based on faith despite your distaste for it. And you should learn to accept it and stop pretending that you have answers that will eliminate questions like, why, who, where, what, when and learn to deal with the possibility that much more is on offer and that your preference to one particular set of rules does not mean that you will eliminate other possibility. As the saying goes, things are not so simply because you will like them to be so. You must start to take in the big picture and stop thinking as you were told to. If you are going to liberate anyone first you must brake the chains that prevent you from expanding your understanding that your knowledge is limited and you will, I repeat YOU WILL have to put your FAITH in others and their teaching as you could not possibly know everything.

    Defend the Word Previously: It is your deep misunderstanding of faith that is causing you greatest hardship in your misconception on what the reality is and of what is knowable and what the real merits of scientific work should be.

    Tildeb: I don’t understand your meaning here.

    Defend the Word: As I said many times before, scientist have to relay heavily on previous work f other scientists. They simply can not afford to check the validity of what was said in the past. Yes we have revisions but often times this is after numerous attempts to reconcile new discoveries and old hypothesis. Also many theories stay just that and we accept them as best explanations but that does not necessarily mean that they are factually correct, that is until more information or further research is conducted.


    Defend the Word Previously:
    Most Christians go from what is knowable then they move to the more complex and harder to understand things, and this is where many atheist stumble, driven by the ideology and blinded by the patterns of thought that appeal to them with very little understanding of what the true meaning of anything is.

    Tildeb: So when one moves past what is knowable, what does that mean? I call that state as unknowable, meaning beyond knowable. You think you can still understand without knowing; that may be true, but what I’m saying is that there is no way to determine IF this ‘understanding’ is true. This ‘understanding’ is therefore unverifiable, unfalsifiable, and unavailable to test for its veracity. This ‘understanding’ therefore may be absolutely incorrect in all ways… at least, the possibility of it being completely bogus is there. Therefore doesn’t it just make sense that one must, at the very least, remain skeptical about truth claims based on something unknowable, unverifiable, unfalsifiable, and unavailable for investigation? To then suggest that these unknowable truth claims provide understanding that cannot be verified should be inserted into areas of the public domain to influence and affect public policy isn’t just rash; it’s uninformed and obviously unjustified.

    Defend the Word: And there lays your problem, what I said was we start from rock solid data, and move to more complex, I did not say or mean to say that we should come in with demands that you as an atheist must believe. Nothing could be further from the truth, what I said and you will remember on many different occasions this was highlighted to you that like with many things in science we have inference and we use it as part of our logical argument development.
    There is nothing new about that, your insistence that we must touch it observe it is just not scientific, you can just imagine, scientist demanding that we show sub atomic particles they would laugh at you, then if you went on to demand that there are no such things as atoms and sub atomic particles you would have additional laughter.

    If you further insist on making statements like there is no soul, our mind is driven by predetermined physical and chemical actions and reaction I would have to insist how do you derive to any logic and reason. If by definition you agree that there are things that we “ought” to do that would imply that this “ought” exists outside of you and I.
    Things like “we ought to treat everyone exactly the same” or “We ought to protect innocent children and ought to punish those who either sexually abuse them or murder the innocent” if those statements are logical and follow reason then you must accept existence of something greater then you and I upon which this “ought” must be based. Are you in agreement with this, or have I lost you.

    Any way from things like, reason, logic, science and religion we can confidently say that atheistic naturalism is logically inconsistent and incomprehensible unless they borrow heavily from theistic thinking. As I said before fact that we have intelligent beings who can understand intelligibility of the nature and its order confirms that we have been designed with the ability to appreciate complexity that is all around us. Rats have no appreciation of philosophical or scientific arguments and discoveries, therefore our understanding of significant complexity shows designer who wanted us to appreciate his workmanship.

    Tildeb: The religious often like to make claims to having some keen insight through faith that allows us to glimpse meaning and purpose. What is the meaning of a tree? And how is that so-called meaning independent of each person who considers to answer the question, independent of this so-called ideologically driven worldview held by atheists?

    Defend the Word: No serious Christian that I respect has debated or even allowed himself / herself to be suckered in by such arguments. There is such thing as meaning of life, and excuse me for reminding you but even most of the atheistic philosophers are touching upon this subject, some come out with the “meaning” that is not considered to be to rewarding enough (Things like we are here to procreate) to most people, whilst others argue that there is no meaning. I maintain and will maintain this questioning in the future “if there is no meaning then why on earth are you doing spending your limited time debating with me here?”. Note that I’m not telling you to stop, all I’m doing is pointing out your inconsistencies in your argumentation.

    Tildeb: What is the purpose of virus? And how is that so-called purpose independent of each person who considers to answer the question, independent of this so-called ideologically driven worldview held by atheists? In other words, what is it about religious belief that somehow informs these ‘answers’ beyond what each individual who answers the questions brings to the table?

    Defend the Word: You have no doubt heard that with the introduction of sin, humanity had suffered significant reduction of perfection and ever since then at the very second chapter of the Bible you will find Gods explanation of why we suffer. So again logic and reason are on the side of the theists and Christians in particular. If the events described in the Bible are correct (Adam and Eve) then we are the cause of our own suffering.

    Virus at no point disproves Gods involvement, I have tackled this question before with you, it only serves to confuse people who have not thought about this topic. In fact even if you accept evolution one could legitimately argue that God could have used such things to control explosion of population of any species and as such create perfect balance. And you as atheist must agree with that, due to the fact that many atheist philosophers have been arguing that we are overpopulating this earth and that these limited resources are going to run out. Case closed as they say!

    Tildeb: You see, DTW, meaning and purpose are not things granted to us by some outside agency (but I stand ready to examine whatever evidence you have to back up your claim that this kind of ‘understanding’ comes from religious belief); meaning and purpose are terms we use to assign goals of importance to behaviour. Meaning and purpose are human values and are as varied in their assignment as there are human beings to assign them. This is strong and compelling evidence that meaning and purpose are not assigned by some single outside agency interfering in the natural world. Meaning and purpose are values and should be studied as such… not as expressions of divine will beyond our knowing.

    Defend the Word: No I would strongly disagree with that statement. I do not believe in cultural relativism, just think about this. It is immoral to kill for no reason in all cultures, raping an innocent child is equality unacceptable. These values are universal, as are many other “human rights” for which you would be more then happy to kill for. So please don’t tell me that meaning is some kind of fluid “wishy washy” idea that has no real value universally. You are very narrowly focused on your idea in order to avoid implication that is so obviously staring you in the face.

    Tildeb: Order obeys nothing. Order (from your description) emerges from watching nature in action. We are highly sensitive creatures detecting patterns and both inducing and deducing meaning and purpose from these expressions. That doesn’t make our inductions and deductions necessarily true nor offer us any reason to suspect that these patterns are created by some supernatural interventionist creative critter.

    Defend the Word: Whilst our induction and deduction may necessarily lead to the correct conclusion neither would this imply that we are unable to come to the correct conclusion. But what is clear that everything in nature has cause and the law of causality tells us that nothing comes out of nothing, so I stand by my first assertion unless you could prove me wrong that nature is a great testament to Gods creative genius.

    Tildeb: What is does is reveal a natural tendency to overlay the natural world with our sense of what order should look like, which undergoes refinement the longer we live and the more we notice. Even our sense of humour is directly linked to having our expectations of what should be ordered broken. We want to know about patterns, about what consistent causes are linked to what consistent effects and how this consistent linkage occurs. Consistency is what we call ‘order’, and nothing does that investigative job better or more accurately or more consistently well in a very practical self-correcting way than the scientific method. That’s how we can come to develop our ability to ‘understand’ based not on unjustified assertion and unknowable assumption but on knowledge. This is the big picture.

    Defend the Word: I’m very glad that you said this, as it confirms very strongly my point mentioned above. Order and complexity can be understood, fact that this is the case is a testament, whichever way you look at it. Either with evolutionary world view, God has allowed our brains to evolve and understand laws of physics, and nature. Think about it even today most scientists think that life forms anywhere around the universe are probably going to be the size of microbes, or at best primitive life forms.

    In other words we are very lucky to posses this kind of intelligence, I do accept that there are people like Professor Hawkins who thinks that intelligent aliens are likely and will be danger to us but it is worth nothing that he is in minority on that issue. Secondly if you are Christian and believe in design with Gods intention to reveal himself then this intelligence of ours is necessary so either way you must concede that your options and hypothesis are less likely then that of an theist.

    tildeb: “At least the honest inquirer will admit although an answer may there, it may not be knowable. We call these people atheists. ”

    Sentinel…no, actually we call these people agnostics. If they go one step further and claim that the answer is not knowable, we call these people “strong agnostics”.
    It is only when they go beyond that position and explicitly deny the existence of the Divine that we start to use the term “atheist”.
    tildeb: Technically correct, Sentinel. But I like to call these agnostics what they are: cowardly atheists. It’s like pretending that the honest skeptic is the one who argues we don’t really know if the sun will rise tomorrow versus the (strident, militant, arrogant) reasonably skeptical person who assumes that unless there is evidence to the contrary, there’s no reason to believe it won’t.

    Defend the Word: You have as usual limited this problem to the size of the issue that suits you. You are comparing something that you observe with great regularity and then demand that they are equal to the disbelief in God. That is ironically very inconsistent, as I said before, fact that you use logic and reason are arguments against your world view.

    You must stop giving us the standard answers and look beyond them, start questioning your own dogma and your own apostles of atheism. I hope you can see huge jump in conclusion that you make when you make such statements they are not logical, simply because you have not covered all options, building a straw man argument and saying that if this is logical therefore Christians or agnostics are incorrect is at best an innocent misunderstanding at worst logical fallacy that is deliberately avoided in order to escape consequences of its main points. In other words when meaning is too heavy change the goalposts and muddy the water.

    Tildeb: I still find it quite funny how easily you classify my deep misunderstanding of faith as if that revealed something about me when you freely admit and even proclaim how faith – especially complex faith – moves beyond what is knowable! Now we’re into Deepak Chopra territory, where what isn’t is and what is isn’t, and then you accuse me of relativism. This is just too rich.

    Defend the Word: Yes I do think you misunderstand what many Christians mean by faith and there lays the problem for many atheists. Simply saying I believe something to be true does not mean you don’t have any evidence for some of the data that may be required for you to arrive to that stage of your search for the truth. I have clearly outlined many times that inference is a good example that is used in science but you prefer to ignore those. Again you become very narrowly focused on your issues as they help you reject that which you fear so much.

    Look I understand that it is unsettling to admit to yourself that you have not questioned people like Dawkins and you may feel a bit silly about that. But it is better for you to start from some point then to continue to refuse to consider that which is so obvious to anyone who remains open minded and happy to take on board all the “evidence”.

    Tildeb: I write that Meaning and purpose are human values and are as varied in their assignment as there are human beings to assign them. You disagree and then ironically use the killing of people to reveal exactly my point: you assign killing into camps that are both justified and unjustified. In other words, sometimes it is right to kill and sometimes it is wrong to kill: the action itself is neither until we assign a value to its intentions and consequences.

    Defend the Word: You again try to distract people by taking them into completely different direction. Your naturalistic explanation will simply not do when you talk to any logician; they will simply argue that there are external rules and values that are not part of our subjective discovery. And your assessment that we can justify killing is also revealing of your world view that contradicts my “blue sky” idealistic first earth that I believe was perfect when first created. Fact that we have corruption today does not logically mean we have always had it, and you must be able to demonstrate that before you start saying things like “it’s like this…” If you are going to have a theory why not say that as we evolve we go down hill rather then show improvements, we have far more evidence for that kind of theory. So I’m afraid you just pick and choose bits that you like that will support your ideas.

    I have also clearly stated what I think everyone should consider to be unjust, like murder of innocent children and if you can show me how that could at times be justified then I welcome you to try. Strait forward case, they don’t have any illness that would endanger humanity, they are cared for by their parents in other words they are not going to be burden to any one. And then when someone who is a paedophile takes them away and murders them; then I guess you will agree with me that this is wrong, don’t you? And by definition this crosses over all cultures and ideologies that are not tainted by religion.

    Tildeb: That we can do so is evidence to you for a Grand Designer who had a son named Jesus who was also the Grand Designer. Go figure. I think good answers to biological behaviour probably can be found in biology like neuroscience. Your linkage in reasoning that cause and effect proves god (while actively rejecting natural mechanisms between them) is simply broken because nature reveals in multiple ways why only an engineering moron or genetic scaffolding would ‘design’ many of its biological features, systems, components, and organs so inefficiently. But, hey, nothing to see here, folks: those who doesn’t know much about nature are usually the ones proclaiming that it is perfect in operation while able to completely ignore the scope and theological (as well as moral) ramifications of the colossal daily suffering in the animal kingdom to maintain this ‘perfection’.

    Defend the Word: I like your ironic approach here but you will excuse me if I return the favour and point out that your many “errors” have been proven again and again that they are not errors after all. Famous Dawkins claim that Human eye was designed back to front can easily be explained by the fact that this kind of design has helped humans see better under differing circumstances when light changes are not of equal strength. In other words little bit of sacrifice on the blind spot can be corrected by the fact that you and I have two eyes and the bonus of this design is that we can see things reasonably well early in the morning during mid day and later in the day as the light starts to fade. You and many other atheist fail to make mention of such things but only try and find “evidence” that disproves designer. And what you find is that Junk DNA is not junk after all that it still has useful functions and that many “vestigial” organs are not such waste of space after all.

    Tildeb: But theistic apologists rarely tackle the logical paradoxes their opinions to inform their faith actually entails: that a Grand Designer would set up a system of incredible suffering for animals when supposedly in possession of the power to remove it entirely. It’s a bit flummoxing, eh what?

    Defend the Word: You yet again move into a new area, away from design to the issue of suffering. I understand that you are agonising over the question of why, but you should note that answer to why does not mean that answer to who is therefore answered. Can you see obvious fallacy in your logic???
    You talk the talk but you keep on missing on the second part of walking the walk. It is easy to make statements especially if you try to frighten people by appearing to know things, when in fact most atheists have limited knowledge and have not had to question their ideology simply because people would take their word for it, under the assumption that they must know what they are talking about. How wrong can we be hey?

    Bible is clear that with the fall of humanity we have to bare the consequences of this, and in fact Bible is blaming you and me together for this. We were the original custodians but like today we continue our old time idiocy of destroying nature, ignoring the needs of the natural world, simply driven by greed and desire for power.
    No I don’t think you can blame God for what is your and my wrong doing, we know that our behaviour is affecting natural order and we know that many animal mutations are here as a direct result of human interference in the delicate balance of the ecosystems, which was so perfectly designed by God.

    Finally, think that is worth nothing is that despite the “errors” and many corruptions one can still look at Gods creation and see great beauty in it, which brings us to the next point that this appreciation for music, aesthetic beauty, appreciation of poetry and literature all testify to something greater then Naturalistic reductionism that heavily relays on Biology and Physics to explain everything away.

    This is precisely why even simpletons will realise that behind much words, you can discover “Emperors New cloths” and tell him that he is completely naked, pretension and ridicule are easily unmasked and desire to be considered intelligent, is exposed for what it is. We may want to glorify our own understanding but we fall flat on our face when we simply focus so narrowly on our issues in order to avoid the obvious question.

    If God is real what am I going to do about it?

    Tildeb: You write I have clearly outlined many times that inference is a good example that is used in science but you prefer to ignore those.
    But the inferences you make about the veracity for god in particular are wrong.
    You claim design proves god. No. The appearance of design (both good and efficient design as well as poor and inefficient design) is evidence of heritability.

    Defend the Word: Your “evidence” is for me simply un-provable hypothesis! In fact as we have seen previously, my objections to your hypothesis has again and again gone unanswered by you. On top of that; questions raised highlighted different options to which you simply seam to look to straw man arguments in order to avoid their difficulties.

    Tildeb: You claim evolution degrades heritability, therefore god. No. Evolution accounts for heritability (both good and bad). You claim thought proves god. No. It reveals what the brain does (both good and bad). You infer awareness of arguments for ‘ought’ proves god. No. It reveals conceptual thinking. And so on. Each time you infer god, you are simply inserting something that does not belong. And this is revealed when we go into the details – of how each of these inferences are made (epistemology) and upon what they are based (ontology).

    Defend the Word: What you give me is just your opinion that is not based on hard evidence and there lies the problem with this conversation. Note that I have given you examples which you refuse to accept but evidently you continue to avoid considering the implications that they bring. My biggest fear is that I may not express these ideas in the way that are easily understood and fact that sometimes I find it hard to read other peoples minds. This is why I would prefer for people to be straight forward.

    Epistemology: I find it very funny that you talk so loudly about epistemology, yet you have missed my point about the human brain and understanding complex issues I have made previously. You could not possibly understand complex things and then say that design (Even appearance of design) and physical laws which make good sense to us are unintelligible.

    Fact that you understand complicated things and fact that things are true outside of our subjective views will more then adequately shake the very foundations of any atheist who is honestly looking at this question without the props that he/she inherited from the books they so love (Written by their favourite atheists). I don’t think that there are any issues that you have given me that will make me worried about my faith in God. In fact the more I look at the questions people raise the more my faith is solidified. I would go as far to say that for some parts of my faith I have witnessed movement from faith to certainty, whilst I don’t think any atheist could make such claim.

    Ontology: As for the issues of Ontology, you must consider the questions first before you start firing out with the answers:
    1. What does it mean to exist?
    2. Property of it (existence), and possibility of soul?
    3. What is physical and is there anything other then physical?
    4. Is determinism correct or are we more then simple product of our external influences?
    5. Can we divide Body and Mind? Do Eastern and western philosophies (religion) contradict due to upbringing and if so how can we claim that one is correct and other is wrong?
    6. Cause and effect implications, can something come out of nothing?
    7. Substance and I love looking at micro physics of it as the more I read about it the more I believe in need to understand more and how these laws don’t obey same rules that we are familiar with.

    So I’m happy to talk to you about this at some length but I fear that you will run away before I go even to the half way point. One of the reasons why I have deliberately chosen to use plain English and not use so much Bible was due to your request some time ago. In other words I have gone out of my way to accommodate your desire to explore this issue in the format that you wanted. I just wish you take all the points in the spirit that they are meant to be.

    I don’t want people thinking that I’m clever because I have answers to your questions, truth is most of the things I said was picked right out of the pages of the Bible. And when it comes to it Bible stands its ground far better then any philosopher could hope to defend it. (Not that I would call myself philosopher, I leave that to others as I believe bible to be true when it says that Gods has wisdom of this world to be stupidity when compared to what God has to say).
    The Message of the Cross

    1 Corinthians 1:18-22 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1:19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will thwart the cleverness of the intelligent.”21 1:20 Where is the wise man? Where is the expert in the Mosaic law?22 Where is the debater of this age? Has God not made the wisdom of the world foolish? 1:21 For since in the wisdom of God the world by its wisdom did not know God, God was pleased to save those who believe by the foolishness of preaching. 1:22 For Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks ask for wisdom, 1:23 but we preach about a crucified Christ,23

    Conclusion: If I was an atheist I would neither mention words nor want to debate issues like Epistemology or Ontology as neither of those is subjects that atheists could win, if they persist to go down the road of determinism and reductionism. In fact I often feel sorry for atheists when these subjects are brought up as they tend to get muddled up very quickly in their inconsistency. You can not possibly borrow from theistic world view in order to prove your point of atheism, you will simply tie yourself in knots from which you will never be able to escape.

    Tildeb: In each case, your inference is flawed by epistemological mistakes and your conclusions flawed because of ontological mistakes. And as soon as I attempt to show you where these mistakes occur, you tell me that I am changing the goal posts and muddying the water. Rubbish. I am taking the general inference you make – therefore god – and breaking it down into what constitutes the chain of evidence leading to that conclusion – because when we add up this (bad) argument followed by this (bad) argument followed by this (bad) argument we can safely say therefore god, whereas I can show why your (bad) arguments lead to a (wrong) conclusion, namely, therefore nature with no need for a supernatural, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent loving sometime intefering but always hiding god.

    Defend the Word: What I said was that you are trying hard to find the straw man argument in order to brake it down and claim right to doubt. But as I have done in the past I will continue to point out where your arguments are simply not addressing the real issue but hiding behind arguments that are not used by many Christians. I will give you usual examples, so you understand what I’m talking about.

    A.) Christians are terrible people therefore God is not real.

    a. Answer: Look to the originator of the teaching not the followers, look for the instructions of the teacher not the students.

    B.) There are bad designs in the world therefore God is not real.
    a. Answer: Errors that have crept up as a result of sin could be the example that helps with this. This is admissible simply because this argument was used in the second chapter of Genesis way before any knowledge of genetics.
    b. Answer: Loads of so called bad designs have been proven to be false assumptions simply being driven by the desire to find “evidence” that would disprove creator God. Loads have been said on both sides of the argument that has been proven incorrect and fact that people should grow up is probably more relevant point here.
    c. Answer: Fact that even Dr Dawkins will tell you “things appear to be designed but are not” is a testament to the multitude of examples that one can pick from. In fact we know that modern designers will often attempt to copy nature, due to the fact that they are so impressed with the complexity and practicality.

    C.) Atheist can be moral therefore idea that morality is God given is false.
    a. Answer: This is simply ignoring the fact that atheists are just as much part of the original design and that morality is not linked to religion but inbuilt characteristic, and the Bible tells us that this is because we are made in the image of God. Meaning resemble his characteristics etc.
    If you spend even 5 minutes on any of these arguments you can see that logic simply does not follow at all. You do not have to know or understand how logic, philosophy or argumentation works though I do enjoy reading about them. One can easily see that if the boat has hole in body of it will not necessarily sink in particular if it is on dry ground. This is why wider picture is very much needed and focusing narrowly on particular issue will not help when attempting to find the answer that requires fuller understanding.

    Tildeb: So the question is, if god isn’t real – and there is no (good) argument that allows me to conclude any differently – then how are you going to live a full, rich, moral, meaningful, compassionate and authentic life?

    Defend the Word: The answer is clear, if you could prove such think I would accept it, and there lays my challenge to you, and yes the ball is in your court. You can’t disprove God, atheist will claim that religion medicates people therefore is considered helpful. Why then considering that we all need help, if you have no answer are you so prepared to remove this help from those who so depend on it?

    Second point to consider is that theology and God is not hypothetical issue for me. For it was this, hypothetical would become high pathetic. No we are talking about personal God who fulfils our deepest needs and removes our greatest obstacles. I this is the greatest witness to people like you, I can say with clear conscience that I love God and yes I treat him as my Lord and God and more than that I can say that he responds to my interaction with him. Guess what I have peace, and joy and love that I could never have if it was not for him. Jesus fills my life with happiness, he satisfies my needs to better understand things and feel right about them. So both my intellectual and emotion wellbeing are in perfect balance and one could not ask for anything better in his/her life.

    footnotes:
    21 sn A quotation from Isa 29:14.
    22 tn Grk “the scribe.” The traditional rendering of γραμματεύς (grammateus) as “scribe” does not communicate much to the modern English reader, for whom the term might mean “professional copyist,” if it means anything at all. The people referred to here were recognized experts in the law of Moses and in traditional laws and regulations. Thus “expert in the Mosaic law” comes closer to the meaning for the modern reader.
    23 tn Or “Messiah”; Grk “preach Christ [Messiah] crucified,” giving the content of the message.
    Biblical Studies Press. (2006; 2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (1 Co 1:18-23). Biblical Studies Press.

    Tildeb: This kind of editing and parsing of posts is too encumbering to be understandable or easily read. Mixing in other comments only adds to this difficulty and confusion. I still don’t understand why posts can’t be kept separate for ease of reference and with comments about the points raised in separate blocks under reply. That way, the posts (or at least mine) make better sense as one complete thing rather than fractured and scattered with comments applied only to each bit rather than point as a whole so that the overall counter-arguments lose all cohesiveness and make comprehension more difficult than it needs to be.

    Defend the Word: Sorry I appreciate that you have your preference but I consider it important enough to point out at each stage where you are making logical mistake.

    Tildeb: You write that the

    Defend the Word previously: the law of causality tells us that nothing comes out of nothing, so I stand by my first assertion unless you could prove me wrong that nature is a great testament to Gods creative genius.

    Tildeb: This a terrific example of what I’m talking about when I criticize your epistemology that has led you to embrace a faulty ontology. Let me explain:

    You have introduced the notion of cause and effect, that for every effect there must be a cause, presumably true even whether or not we can identify what that cause may be. As long as we can determine an effect, we are safe to presume that there must be a cause for it. Okay. Let’s go with that. You carry on that because we have something – whatever that may be like, let’s say, everything in the universe we’ll call ‘nature’ – that ‘something’ is an effect. It must have been caused. Fine. Our epistemology here is to accept the baseline proposition that for every effect there is a cause, that for every thing, some thing caused it. How do we know this? Because we find stuff – lots and lots of somethings – everywhere we direct our attention. All of this stuff must have causes according to our epistemology.

    Defend the Word: Actually law of causality is well recognised principle in science and is not something that Christians somehow plucked out of the thin air, so don’t make big issue out of nothing, this is what I’m asking you to do as a rational, and very intelligent person that you are. It simple go back to the very beginning to the “Big Bang” and think of the issue of singularity which was practically nothing and out of this nothingness we have all matter which includes dark matter and dark energy etc. So you have to explain this, this is why many scientist have commented upon the confirmation of Big Bang theory that it testifies of the beginning that atheists just don’t like to think about.

    Tildeb: So what caused all this stuff, all these effects? Oh my. There can be lots and lots of answers here depending on what stuff we’re talking about and what effects we are considering. But here is where your reasoning breaks down when you conclude that all this stuff, all these effects, are derived from a single cause. You have no reason to assume that this is appropriate or justified. Nevertheless, you do make this assumption (and call all the stuff together as ‘nature’) and assign god to be the singular cause.

    Fine. It’s an assumption that may or may not be correct. Let’s assume there really is a singular cause.

    Now comes the first problem: according to our mutually agreed upon epistemology, we are beholden to the law of causality. Here’s something you call god. But every something has a cause, leading us to the next logical question: what (or who) caused god?

    This argument is called the problem of infinite regress. No matter what answer you come up with to have caused god, there is the problem of what caused that.

    Defend the Word: Thank you for that, its good try but just not good enough first of all the infinite regress is not a problem for Christians but for atheists. Just think about it for a very short time, you could not possibly have infinite regress can you? So the logical solution is that you must brake this circular reasoning and you must insert something that does not behave like this. And guess what Christians have been giving solid answers to this questions for the past 10 to 20 years. And that is not counting Aquinas who in 13 century reasoned that precisely because you could not have infinite regression you have need for God.

    But let me clarify this for you so there are no confusion.

    1. At creation (Big Bang) there was a beginning of time
    2. At creation (Big Bang) there was a creation of matter certainly for this universe if we are to pretend that there are many multi universes, note that we have no evidence for their existence. So if you are sceptic then this should be forbidden for people like yourself.
    3. This brings into question what was there before Big Bang or creation whichever you choose? Christians have log been arguing that God is a spirit and therefore not restricted with the material world and could exist outside his creation and in fact that is precisely what you need in order to have creation when there is nothing else.
    4. Case closed God was necessary and because he is necessary we could freely assume that he is also therefore real.

    Tildeb: Your solution is to break your own epistemology, your own law and proclaim god to be the First cause… before which there was neither cause nor effect. Well, bully for you, but that’s cheating. That’s breaking the law of causality: “Oh, by the way, there’s this one thing exempt from the law under which everything in the universe is beholden to and I forgot to tell you about earlier but I am going to call it god and he’s exempt because, well, just because.” That is an unjustified assumption that god – alone of all somethings – doesn’t need a cause. And that’s very poor epistemology, changing rules that inform how we know to favour the one thing you are attempting to prove. We don’t know if the god hypothesis is true, that god IS the First cause, and breaking the law of causality to assume as much makes the god hypothesis (in this case) nothing more and nothing less than an unjustified assumption, introducing exactly nothing as far as evidence for the hypothesis of god as the First cause goes. The epistemology that informs the law of causality has been broken by you without any justification whatsoever except to pretend the argument is valid. It isn’t. It’s broken reasoning because the epistemology is flawed and that mean the conclusion – therefore god – is invalid in this line of reasoning.

    Defend the Word: What we have with your hypothesis is just more questions and all the knowledge and understanding of this knowledge could not be guaranteed as previously argued by me, because what guarantee do you have that you are greater then your mind. All you could do is positively affirming is the “I think therefore I am” hypothesis.

    Your world view could not account for any intelligibility, complexity will disperse into a thin air simply as there are no grantees that we could or even should understand anything unless there is a blueprint inbuilt in us to understand the creator so what we get yet again is a big brownie point for Christians and incomplete puzzle on the part of those who oppose creation by God who would necessarily inbuilt this desire in us to understand and discover his creation.

    Tildeb: Again and again, I have to point out that I do not need to disprove the god hypothesis as the First cause for it to be unjustified; you who proclaim god to be the First cause but suddenly exempt from the law of causality need to show why both are justified. And breaking the epistemological consistency of reasoning to do so makes this a very poor argument indeed. When no further evidence is offered to back it up – that god really is outside the law of causality – then you need to provide more evidence than “Because he’s god and god can do anything he wants,”or “Because John says so.” That’s not evidence; that’s more unjustified assumptions piling on an already weak-kneed argument that cannot stand on the same epistemological ground like everything else you want to include in this “great testament to God’s creative genius.” But it’s not god being the creative one here: it’s you making up your own epistemological rules to make your god hypothesis fit your ontology that god made nature. You have offered nothing to back that up except your assumption that it is so.

    Defend the Word: Actually these are not my rules they are generally accepted and the only explanation to braking this and therefore making any reasonable sense is need to introduce God into this equation otherwise both you and I will get lost. And according to modern science which you so praise it stands firmly with Christians world view as soon as you introduce beginning of everything so I would ask you to be honest with yourself and not introduce argument from Dr Dawkins as it answers nothing as we have heard many times before. God hypothesis is adequate and your comeback on “who created god” was in fact answered in your following statement that God is necessary for Christians but as you will see if you think even as a complete novice to this topic you can’t go in circle chasing your own tail. This is precisely why so many scientist have accepted that there must be first cause. This is why famous atheist Anthony Flew agreed that this therefore must mean that this first cause could be addressed as God.

    Tildeb: I say the First Cause are invisible pink mushrooms living on a unicorn’s earlobes. Now disprove MY hypothesis, and if you can’t them well, it must be true!

    Defend the Word: And I say that when you have no answer you must resort to sarcasm and diversion away from the real issue. What we are arguing is science not fairytales. I have come to your turf so to speak and if you want to talk religion I will gladly oblige with full use of Church history, archaeology, exegetical study of the Biblical texts etc, etc. So let me summarise things for you here. What we find from the law of causality, and the idea of the infinite regress is that you must have the original cause, I’m glad that you raised these issues and I’m grateful that you accept that your argument is true only if we accept the world view that things just happen at random and this great coincidence therefore must be evolution driven. And we know that because Darwin told us so! How ironic when witnessing so much protestation that “God did it is not the answer”. But we conveniently forget that Darwin could not have known the answer to these questions as he was simply not equipped to deal with intricate complexity to which he was simply not familiar with.

    So if we are not going to take things simply because of the issues of convenience then why not agree that we will abandon the idea that Darwin knew, he only witnessed mutation that always leads to the dead end roads. Mutations which revert to the original design as conditions change back to the original conditions. So if you are going to point fingers why not simply admit that everything that you say you do it as it agrees with your world view rather then claim that it has any roots in scientific reasoning and logic?

  6. Tildeb: This kind of editing and parsing of posts is too encumbering to be understandable or easily read. Mixing in other comments only adds to this difficulty and confusion. I still don’t understand why posts can’t be kept separate for ease of reference and with comments about the points raised in separate blocks under reply. That way, the posts (or at least mine) make better sense as one complete thing rather than fractured and scattered with comments applied only to each bit rather than point as a whole so that the overall counter-arguments lose all cohesiveness and make comprehension more difficult than it needs to be.

    Defend the Word: Sorry I appreciate that you have your preference but I consider it important enough to point out at each stage where you are making logical mistake.

    Tildeb: You write that the

    Defend the Word previously: the law of causality tells us that nothing comes out of nothing, so I stand by my first assertion unless you could prove me wrong that nature is a great testament to Gods creative genius.

    Tildeb: This a terrific example of what I’m talking about when I criticize your epistemology that has led you to embrace a faulty ontology. Let me explain:

    You have introduced the notion of cause and effect, that for every effect there must be a cause, presumably true even whether or not we can identify what that cause may be. As long as we can determine an effect, we are safe to presume that there must be a cause for it. Okay. Let’s go with that. You carry on that because we have something – whatever that may be like, let’s say, everything in the universe we’ll call ‘nature’ – that ‘something’ is an effect. It must have been caused. Fine. Our epistemology here is to accept the baseline proposition that for every effect there is a cause, that for every thing, some thing caused it. How do we know this? Because we find stuff – lots and lots of somethings – everywhere we direct our attention. All of this stuff must have causes according to our epistemology.

    Defend the Word: Actually law of causality is well recognised principle in science and is not something that Christians somehow plucked out of the thin air, so don’t make big issue out of nothing, this is what I’m asking you to do as a rational, and very intelligent person that you are. It simple go back to the very beginning to the “Big Bang” and think of the issue of singularity which was practically nothing and out of this nothingness we have all matter which includes dark matter and dark energy etc. So you have to explain this, this is why many scientist have commented upon the confirmation of Big Bang theory that it testifies of the beginning that atheists just don’t like to think about.

    Tildeb: So what caused all this stuff, all these effects? Oh my. There can be lots and lots of answers here depending on what stuff we’re talking about and what effects we are considering. But here is where your reasoning breaks down when you conclude that all this stuff, all these effects, are derived from a single cause. You have no reason to assume that this is appropriate or justified. Nevertheless, you do make this assumption (and call all the stuff together as ‘nature’) and assign god to be the singular cause.

    Fine. It’s an assumption that may or may not be correct. Let’s assume there really is a singular cause.

    Now comes the first problem: according to our mutually agreed upon epistemology, we are beholden to the law of causality. Here’s something you call god. But every something has a cause, leading us to the next logical question: what (or who) caused god?

    This argument is called the problem of infinite regress. No matter what answer you come up with to have caused god, there is the problem of what caused that.

    Defend the Word: Thank you for that, its good try but just not good enough first of all the infinite regress is not a problem for Christians but for atheists. Just think about it for a very short time, you could not possibly have infinite regress can you? So the logical solution is that you must brake this circular reasoning and you must insert something that does not behave like this. And guess what Christians have been giving solid answers to this questions for the past 10 to 20 years. And that is not counting Aquinas who in 13 century reasoned that precisely because you could not have infinite regression you have need for God.

    But let me clarify this for you so there are no confusion.

    1. At creation (Big Bang) there was a beginning of time
    2. At creation (Big Bang) there was a creation of matter certainly for this universe if we are to pretend that there are many multi universes, note that we have no evidence for their existence. So if you are sceptic then this should be forbidden for people like yourself.
    3. This brings into question what was there before Big Bang or creation whichever you choose? Christians have log been arguing that God is a spirit and therefore not restricted with the material world and could exist outside his creation and in fact that is precisely what you need in order to have creation when there is nothing else.
    4. Case closed God was necessary and because he is necessary we could freely assume that he is also therefore real.

    Tildeb: Your solution is to break your own epistemology, your own law and proclaim god to be the First cause… before which there was neither cause nor effect. Well, bully for you, but that’s cheating. That’s breaking the law of causality: “Oh, by the way, there’s this one thing exempt from the law under which everything in the universe is beholden to and I forgot to tell you about earlier but I am going to call it god and he’s exempt because, well, just because.” That is an unjustified assumption that god – alone of all somethings – doesn’t need a cause. And that’s very poor epistemology, changing rules that inform how we know to favour the one thing you are attempting to prove. We don’t know if the god hypothesis is true, that god IS the First cause, and breaking the law of causality to assume as much makes the god hypothesis (in this case) nothing more and nothing less than an unjustified assumption, introducing exactly nothing as far as evidence for the hypothesis of god as the First cause goes. The epistemology that informs the law of causality has been broken by you without any justification whatsoever except to pretend the argument is valid. It isn’t. It’s broken reasoning because the epistemology is flawed and that mean the conclusion – therefore god – is invalid in this line of reasoning.

    Defend the Word: What we have with your hypothesis is just more questions and all the knowledge and understanding of this knowledge could not be guaranteed as previously argued by me, because what guarantee do you have that you are greater then your mind. All you could do is positively affirming is the “I think therefore I am” hypothesis.

    Your world view could not account for any intelligibility, complexity will disperse into a thin air simply as there are no grantees that we could or even should understand anything unless there is a blueprint inbuilt in us to understand the creator so what we get yet again is a big brownie point for Christians and incomplete puzzle on the part of those who oppose creation by God who would necessarily inbuilt this desire in us to understand and discover his creation.

    Tildeb: Again and again, I have to point out that I do not need to disprove the god hypothesis as the First cause for it to be unjustified; you who proclaim god to be the First cause but suddenly exempt from the law of causality need to show why both are justified. And breaking the epistemological consistency of reasoning to do so makes this a very poor argument indeed. When no further evidence is offered to back it up – that god really is outside the law of causality – then you need to provide more evidence than “Because he’s god and god can do anything he wants,”or “Because John says so.” That’s not evidence; that’s more unjustified assumptions piling on an already weak-kneed argument that cannot stand on the same epistemological ground like everything else you want to include in this “great testament to God’s creative genius.” But it’s not god being the creative one here: it’s you making up your own epistemological rules to make your god hypothesis fit your ontology that god made nature. You have offered nothing to back that up except your assumption that it is so.

    Defend the Word: Actually these are not my rules they are generally accepted and the only explanation to braking this and therefore making any reasonable sense is need to introduce God into this equation otherwise both you and I will get lost. And according to modern science which you so praise it stands firmly with Christians world view as soon as you introduce beginning of everything so I would ask you to be honest with yourself and not introduce argument from Dr Dawkins as it answers nothing as we have heard many times before. God hypothesis is adequate and your comeback on “who created god” was in fact answered in your following statement that God is necessary for Christians but as you will see if you think even as a complete novice to this topic you can’t go in circle chasing your own tail. This is precisely why so many scientist have accepted that there must be first cause. This is why famous atheist Anthony Flew agreed that this therefore must mean that this first cause could be addressed as God.

    Tildeb: I say the First Cause are invisible pink mushrooms living on a unicorn’s earlobes. Now disprove MY hypothesis, and if you can’t them well, it must be true!

    Defend the Word: And I say that when you have no answer you must resort to sarcasm and diversion away from the real issue. What we are arguing is science not fairytales. I have come to your turf so to speak and if you want to talk religion I will gladly oblige with full use of Church history, archaeology, exegetical study of the Biblical texts etc, etc. So let me summarise things for you here. What we find from the law of causality, and the idea of the infinite regress is that you must have the original cause, I’m glad that you raised these issues and I’m grateful that you accept that your argument is true only if we accept the world view that things just happen at random and this great coincidence therefore must be evolution driven. And we know that because Darwin told us so! How ironic when witnessing so much protestation that “God did it is not the answer”. But we conveniently forget that Darwin could not have known the answer to these questions as he was simply not equipped to deal with intricate complexity to which he was simply not familiar with.

    So if we are not going to take things simply because of the issues of convenience then why not agree that we will abandon the idea that Darwin knew, he only witnessed mutation that always leads to the dead end roads. Mutations which revert to the original design as conditions change back to the original conditions. So if you are going to point fingers why not simply admit that everything that you say you do it as it agrees with your world view rather then claim that it has any roots in scientific reasoning and logic?

  7. tildeb says:

    It simple go back to the very beginning to the “Big Bang” and think of the issue of singularity which was practically nothing and out of this nothingness we have all matter which includes dark matter and dark energy etc. So you have to explain this, this is why many scientist have commented upon the confirmation of Big Bang theory that it testifies of the beginning that atheists just don’t like to think about.

    The last sentence does not belong with the previous ones. Yes the Big Bang seems to have occurred about 13.7 billion years ago. What existed prior to this event is unknown. Those are the facts. Now. You assert that this event somehow lends support to the hypothesis that god exists. I fail to see the evidence for this assertion. Furthermore, you assert that god was responsible. I again fail to see the evidence for this assertion. These two assertions are also problematic for supporting each other and for a variety of very sound reasons that will make no difference for you or anyone else providing evidence to back up these two assertions.

    As far as I can tell, the Big Bang event is very convenient science-speak for “In the beginning…” but that is also an assertion that at best pertains to this present expanding universe which may have prior to the event undergone a retraction and reduction into a singularity for all we know. For you to insist that it is the beginning has to be qualified by this understanding that what was before is simply unknown and perhaps unknowable. But to attribute the event to god – a critter apparently both of the universe yet in existence prior to it, both a natural part of the universe yet separate from it, both the cause of its own creation and its effect, a designer who has already destroyed more than 99% of its creation yet perfect in it all – will require more than just say-so. It requires evidence. And better evidence than the mishmash of contrary and convoluted reasoning currently in play to describe this incomprehensible critter who also cares about the dietary habits of bipedal omnivores here on Earth.

    You seem almost offended that I would dare admit that I don’t know something when I don’t know something. What existed prior to the Big Bang I gladly admit not to know. But to insert some answer like “God did it” doesn’t add even a tiny morsel to the state of our pre-BB ignorance. It only pretends to offer us anything. And when we then utilize this ignorance as evidence for god, then we are compounding our ignorance into application based on ignorance. Recognizing that true state of our justifiable knowledge is a very important admission too few religious folk seem willing to recognize.

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