Talking with an atheist…Part Two

Posted: January 2, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

My friend did indeed respond, but the nature of his answer pointed out some defects with the scope and structure of my arguments; here is his response, followed by my attempt to correct and re-orient the conversation.

Well Nick, I see what you’re saying.
But Where exactly are you getting this information from? The “let there be light” comparison you’ve made..
You’re defining my nature or science as a “god” and I guess if you want to say that maybe I’m observing the nature of god, instead of the god of nature(which I guess can define religion).

But I don’t see the proof of god anywhere. Nor has any scientist. But in all fairness here, nor can we rule it out. Nor can we rule out any other god that ever existed for that matter.
The burden of proof lies on religion. You can’t win any court case without evidence being provided. If I make the claim on something then I must follow the scientific method in proving that. And that’s where religion fails. Its faith based.
And if there was a god that created the heavens, the hell, the universe and everything in between… I don’t see why’d he be so concerned about what I do or who I have sex with.. As if he doesn’t have anything else better to do. What did God do during that eternity before he created everything? If God was all that existed back then, what disturbed the eternal equilibrium and compelled him to create? Was he bored? Was he lonely? God is supposed to be perfect. If something is perfect, it is complete–it needs nothing else. We humans engage in activities because we are pursuing that elusive perfection, because there is disequilibrium caused by a difference between what we are and what we want to be. If God is perfect, there can be no disequilibrium. There is nothing he needs, nothing he desires, and nothing he must or will do. A God who is perfect does nothing except exist. A perfect creator God is impossible.

I cannot say what’s after this life.. But I have been studying this stuff called astral projecting. I’m new at it and I don’t know much- but if you do, feel free to correct me.
Basically it’s a spiritual thing. Astral projection is the separation of your spirit from your body. You’re fully aware and everything is actually happening. As crazy as this may sound, I’ve been reading people’s stories about this and what they say really influences me to want to try it. It has nothin to do with religion or god or any of that. But they say it does indeed answer some of life’s big questions. There’s testimonies where people can visit absolutely anywhere at anytime. France, Germany, ocean floors and even space. But what really gets me is when they say they visit other dimensions… They say there’s a higher state of mind at higher frequencies. A serenity- a tranquility. Most call it the heavens, or whatever you classify it as.. It’s there. And everyone can experience it. They also say higher beings with a higher conscience exist- and most call them angles, guardians or spirit guides. And again, it’s nothing to do with religion. It’s actually a new type of science. Now, I’m not sure how true this is, nor am I saying that this is the answer.. But you have to approach it with an open mind. I am doing some research on it. I watch some of these videos on YouTube where a guy talks about this.. And he breaks it down a lot. He gives resources about what he’s saying and really goes into depth with it. His videos are actually animated so to me, they seem less boring lol. I’ll give you a link to his first video.. He breaks the episodes down into chapters. It’s very interesting and he does point out many religions, including Christianity and the bible. Again, I’m not saying this is the answer.. But I think it should be considered ya know.

Here’s the link:

I have not included the link, because it is not germane, as I point out below; if anyone does want to see it, reply in the comments and I will post it for you. Anyway, here is my reply:

OK, this is a very interesting response. I do believe that I see one common error we are both making, and that is that we are over-generalizing, and this is causing the waters to get a little murky…I first defined “religion” as “the response of humans to the concept of a personal creator God”, and then later tried to apply the same term to atheists – obviously I cannot have it both ways, so let me rather use the term “theistic worldview”, and narrow that down to include only those who believe the universe was created by an intelligent, personal Being; the actual nature of that Being may differ from one school of thought to another, but those are differences of style, not of kind. You seem to be using “religion” to mean collectively, all schools of thought which believe in a personal creator God, and that term would better describe the response of a particular “style group” within the larger “theistic” set; because the way any “religion” answers the questions of life will vary according to their particular interpretation of the nature of the Being. A better term for the opposite view to a “theistic worldview” is obviously “atheistic worldview”, which we can then define as “those who deny the existence of any personal Being as the universal creator”; this leaves an equal amount of room for differences of style within the same kind, and a variety of ways to answer those questions of life, which you rightly point out are universal to all humanity. I have a theistic worldview, and within that I have a series of truth statements I use to further make rational distinctions to answer some of the questions of life. I think that you are claiming an atheistic worldview, and you also have a series of truth statements that you use to make rational distinctions about the questions of life. What I am working towards is trying to understand your worldview, not disprove it…so my questions are directed, first to see if I have an accurate understanding of your general worldview, and then towards the nature of your truth statements. I will be happy to reciprocate, but only if you are asking real questions, not making belittling attacks against what you think I believe, and then only if you are willing to answer my questions…a fair dialogue can enhance both our understandings, anything else is a pointless waste of both our time, wouldn’t you agree? I think we should settle these basic questions, before we go off on tangents (like the “Spirit science” videos you link to, or my particular thoughts on morality, as from the previous thread). Let’s deal with one level of our beliefs at a time, OK?

Comments
  1. denise garza says:

    Well we need to pray more for these people whom don’t believe.sorry nick I didn’t know you had to deal with people like this . And our father Jesus says to pray for those to ,turn away from sin and that’s what I will do keep up the good work

    • nicky301 says:

      Don’t call them “people like this”, because WE are people like this…until the Lord reveals Himself to us. Romans 5:6-11 says: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through Him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” So yes, pray for them, and for all of us, that He may receive all the glory.

  2. Bob L says:

    Hi Nick, Just catching up on this now…

    Your friend says “If I make the claim on something then I must follow the scientific method in proving that.” Although he may not know it, your friend is arguing for what philosopher’s call “Scientism.” This is basically the view that we should not believe any proposition that cannot be scientifically proven (i.e. proved using the scientific method).

    He goes on to say, “And that’s where religion fails.” But scientism also fails on this measure. The proposition that “the only truth are things which may be proven using the scientific method” is itself not testable using the scientific method. In this respect, it requires every bit as much “faith” to believe in science as it does to believe in Theism. (That, of course, is not a correct definition of Faith. He has deeply confused the term faith as Christians use it.*)

    Beyond this obvious self-refutation, adopting a view like the one your friend articulates would make science itself impossible. Science relies upon non-testable presuppositions as its foundation. You can see ten of these on page 349 of “Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview” (long link below) or any decent introductory book on the philosophy of science. Some examples: the existence of an external world, the orderly nature of the external world, the existence of numbers, etc.

    Now, I do not think your friend really holds what are called strong or weak theories of scientism (even though that is what he wrote). Almost no serious scholar does because of its self-refuting nature and obvious gaps in logic (the fact that logic exists is itself another presupposition untestable by the scientific method). I suspect what he is really saying is that the evidence for God and Christianity – and there is plenty – does not pass his standard of proof.

    Without, I hope, being uncharitable, let me suggest that his first guess as to why the evidence appears insufficient probably OUGHT to be that he does not fully understand the evidence rather than assuming that all of us Christians are simple deluding ourselves. (Jumping to this latter conclusion requires a level of profound arrogance.)

    If the new atheist claptrap is bothering him, I would challenge him to read “Contending With Christianity’s Critics” or “God is Great, God is Good” both of which are a set of high quality essays from leading scholars that address a range of questions.

    I myself am persuaded that Theism, and more specifically Christianity, is the best explanation for the evidence. If it was not, we should call our Faith (properly understood) into question. But I think it does. If he will engage the evidence, I think he will conclude the same.

    *It is only then that he can engage in the question of Faith. Faith is not believing something for which you do not have a good basis in reason. That is the definition of an “assumption.” Faith, as Christians use the term is to “trust in” or “live by” the eminently reasonable (on the basis of the evidence) conviction that Jesus is Lord. We put our faith in Jesus to save us and to transform us into new creations.

    As is often the case, C.S. Lewis said it best: “I am not asking anyone to accept Christianity if his best reasoning tells him that the weight of evidence is against it. That is not the point at which faith comes in. But supposing a man’s reason once decides that the weight of the evidence is for it…
    Now faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding onto things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.”

    I don’t want to be uncharitable, but I think your friend has a hodge-podge of soundbites, slogans, and misunderstandings swirling around in his head. The stakes are too high to allow him to get off with “you raise some good points.” He doesn’t. He raises some very superficial and confused points. He needs to go back to the library and get to work!

    YBIC
    Bob

    Full C.S. Lewis Quote here
    http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2008/05/c-s-lewis-on-faith-from-mere.html

    JP Moreland/WLC on Scientism
    http://books.google.com/books?id=mPEN_EDiZuQC&pg=PA347&lpg=PA347&dq=scientism+william+lane+craig&source=bl&ots=1icXtR67hW&sig=IFJh4TgGgJ8rGBl5Fn6lZSUOiBU&hl=en&sa=X&ei=hmHoUKOsGdCyqQGUxoBY&ved=0CE4Q6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=scientism%20william%20lane%20craig&f=false

    Scientism Q&A from Reasonable Faith
    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/is-scientism-self-refuting

    • nicky301 says:

      Absolutely correct that I cannot allow him to get off with this mish-mash of stuff he thinks he believes…but he is young, and if I right up front call him out on his intellectual dishonesty and inconsistency, he won’t even try to hear anything else…I must get him to stop regurgitation, and ask a real question, if he (or all his Facebook friends watching silently, my real audience)is ever to learn anything. Thanks for the links and encouragement.

  3. John K says:

    Hi Nicky,
    First of all, I would congratulate your friend on thinking for himself and questionaing what he has been taught in his youth. Every person must eventually release the faith of his childhood and come to the point where he realizes its truth on his own. I love Chesterton’s example about two ways of coming home. One is to stay there and never leave. The other is to travel around the world and come back home from the other side. Frankly, I have much more empathy for the one who sets aside his childhood faith (the faith a child has just because he has been told it is true) and comes on his own to the point where he realizes it was true, after all. I used to engage on an atheistic website (now defunct) whose mission was to completely debunk Christianity. (You can see which one lasted longer.) I encouraged everyone there, Christian and atheist alike, to, “Question everything.” and this applies especially to atheism, because if one asks enough questions, and the right questions (or, the next question, as I used to say) atheism eventually runs out of answers.
    I also love the illustration of Ravi Zacharias about the Hindu view of creation. It is a picture of the world on the back of an elephant; the elephant standing on four turtles. But then the question must be asked, “What supports the turtles?” Eventually, that is the question faced by atheism.
    Your friend speaks on the one hand of proving things by the scientific method, and then of astral projection, and spirit/soul – things not at all compatible with science or materialism. So he seems indeed open to the supernatural – something completely unacceptable to pure atheism.
    One might also, if one insists on using exclusively the “scientific method” ask, “What proof is there that the scientific method is entirely reliable.” It relies on observation. How can we be sure we can rely on our observations? Who says our observations are accurate? If one is looking for proof, as someone has said, “Prove to me that the world didn’t come into existence 10 minutes ago with the illusion of age, and that you weren’t created 10 minutes ago with built-in memories. Ultimately, it can’t be proven or disproven. Even the atheist depends on faith – faith that what is observed and sensed is real.
    I’m afraid I have rambled here, but in the end I think reason must lead the truly enquiring person to the truth that is most accurately represented by our Christian faith, and I believe we have been promised that anyone who truly wants to find the truth will indeed find it. God is not deliberately hiding it from anyone.

    Take Care