Yep, a real Astrophysicist has made this claim … but we are deeply into kook territory here.
Before we get into details, I think I better first introduce you to the claimant. This comes from a chap called David Klinghoffer. He works for the Discovery Institute as a … well, that does not really matter, because knowing that it is the Discovery Institute tells you all you really need to know; its basically kook central for the Intelligent Design movement.
Since it is indeed “them” you know in your heart of hearts this is going to be truly silly (it is), so here we go. He starts out with …
You can say you’re an atheist if you want, but the rest of us have no warrant to call you that until you can show some evidence that you know something about the God you claim to reject. Perhaps there should be some sort of qualifying exam.
Quite obviously the concept of “Burden of Proof” appears to have completely bypassed this loon. In fact, what he is suggesting is quite frankly insane. We are supposed to disprove his silly claim about supernatural entities before we are permitted to call ourselves an “atheist”!!! … bollocks to that, it is his silly claim, so it is his responsibility to provide evidence for that claim.
What comes next? If you thought that perhaps this might get even sillier, then you would be spot on. Apparently we all reject “a cartoon of God, distilled to an absurd cliché from long-ago Sunday School, or Hebrew School, lessons.“. and yet in polls, its the Atheists who know more about what the Christians are supposed to know.
So there you have it then, all you naughty folks who dare to call yourselves an atheist are no longer permitted to do so because you first need a deep understanding of the silly superstitious nonsense you have rejected. In fact, since there is a huge diversity of belief, that would then imply you can only reject the beliefs you understand, and you are then forced to continue to embrace all the illogical lunacy you are unable to comprehend (which to be frank is most of it anyway).
Well, I did warn you it was going to get truly silly, but be honest, you knew that anyway. This, after all, is the same mind set that gave us cutting edge science such as Intelligent design and has so far successfully resulted in exactly zero credible papers in real peer-reviewed science journals.
How should you respond to such lunacy? Basically you have two choices, the first involves the deployment of a string of well-known Anglo Saxon phrases, the second involves mocking it all – I vote for the second.
Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. -Thomas Jefferson
6 thoughts on ““There are no Genuine Atheists” claims an Astrophysicist”
Thank you very much for your thoughtful and intelligent response. It is very refreshing to read a post that demonstrates knowledge and understanding, humility and compassion all within its framework.
So often I have read comments from a scientific prespective which lack humility and gratitude. All they make me do is want to scream.
I will follow up on your suggested readings. Quantum mechanics and David Bohm are at the top of my list.
I have always wondered about a possible cosmic intelligence. I’m not sure why this notion seems to frighten so many people. I personally am delighted at the prospect of being apart of something so much greater than ‘just me, just here, right now’ etc…
Dave, that is hardly my argument at all. I would suggest you read up on David Bohm and Albert Einstein. If you want to make the assertion that neither of these men conducted serious scientific research or published in peer-reviewed circles then by all means I would love to see that claim. There are quite a few others who have published data pertaining to various dimensions, the implicit order, DNA, consciousness, plasma cosmology, etc. Just because you don’t agree with those theories doesn’t mean they don’t exist. There are hundreds of scientists who have no problem pursuing those lines of inquiry, some of which are quite famous:
Physics – Newton, Faraday, Maxwell, Kelvin, Joule
Chemistry – Boyle, Dalton, Ramsay
Biology – Ray, Linnaeus, Mendel, Pasteur, Virchow, Agassiz
Geology – Steno, Woodward, Brewster, Buckland, Cuvier
Astronomy – Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Herschel, Maunder
Mathematics – Pascal, Leibniz, Euler
As for your assertion of science having a better track record, I would also be careful of such a boast. Do remember, scientists at one time considered the Earth to be flat and our planet to be the center of the universe. We all know how that turned out. The natural evolution of science is to continually reinvent itself, discard old theorems, and develop new ones. Blindly clinging to proofs will merely relegate you to dustbin of history.
Creation encompasses far more than the insignificant speck we live upon, so what makes you think we’re qualified to make any definitive claims about the nature of the universe – especially with the limited amount of information we’re able to acquire? As I’ve stated before, when you run the probability of conventional theories, the likelihood of those proving true is highly suspect. Obviously there is something more at play than we understand. Some force we have yet to discover. That may be benign or it may be an intelligence beyond our understanding, but simply dismissing it out of hand is childish.
I agree with you that established religion is superstitious nonsense, but I will not presume to say that there is no forms of intelligence out there higher than ourselves, nor will I say there are no other realms of existence beyond our own. If you think those areas don’t merit closer scrutiny, then I feel quite sorry for you. Science is about finding the truth wherever it may lead.
When you’ve eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
Your argument appears to boil down to – there is lots of stuff we don’t know, so “God did it”. In the distant past, our ancestors took this same approach with things such as wind, rain, the moon etc.. But today we now have a far better natural answer and an understanding for each of these, no supernatural entity needed.
As for the details, well yes there are a lot of “intelligent design” claims, but no actual science:
– Number of papers that support intelligent design that have been published in credible peer-reviewed journals – Zero.
I agree that “faith” is indeed an attempt to find answers, but the track record of reaching the correct answer is … shall we say, not exactly awe inspiring. We have a better means for seeking truth. A PZ quote I really like is as follows …
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but Atheism is so 20th century. Do get with the times. I’ll be the 1st to join you in lambasting the established religions of the world, but for a site that tags itself as skeptical “science” you don’t seem to realize that the consensus these days is that some force is definitely directing our universe. I highly suggest brushing up on the latest theorems. Here are a few to get you started (condensed for the sake of a post):
At one time, we may have considered our little corner of the universe and life upon it to be unique, but the more we learn about the cosmos the more arrogant that view becomes. We now know of at least 500 solar systems capable of producing life, some possibly more than our own. When one runs the probabilty of the popular notion of how life began on Earth, the numbers are astronomical. There’s obviously something more to it than we somehow won the cosmic lottery.
Studies of our DNA illustrate that two strands of it are artificially fused (giving us our intelligence). Science has yet to posit a theory as to how this could happen naturally, in fact suggesting those results could only be replicated in a lab (which proves an outside influence had a hand in our evolution). What does it matter if our creator is an invisible deity or beings in a far off galaxy? Would you hold any less reverance if we discovered them?
Quantum Mechanics is on the verge of redifining the nature of existence. Consider that matter on the Quantum level is eerily similiar to the framework of a solar system. What’s to say that the universe we know it isn’t part of something much larger? Just as the eletromagnetic impulses inside your brain direct the inner universe, empirical evidence indicates that some force is directing the larger universe. Albert Einstein once called this “cosmic intelligence”, and it may just be evidence of something higher than ourselves.
David Bohm compared our reality to a very complicated version of the Sims. This is quite intriquing because one has to ask – who’s sitting at the PC playing the game? It’s a crude analogy, but there are billions upon billions of variables that take place everyday, each running in a specific, harmonious way. The notion that it all just happens by “chance” is rather silly, don’t you think?
Recent solar activity has shown that conventional theories about our sun and how the universe formed need to be revised. Evidence suggests the Speed of Light is not constant. That Means the laws of physics – the theory of relativity included – will have to undergo significant changes.
Gravity is also losing it’s place as the juggernaut it was once thought to be – electricity seems to be a more dominant factor in the development of the universe and life. A network of plasma has been discovered stretching everywhere, including the areas of space we once thought to be vacant (no gravity). That is exciting, because understanding this web of energy may unlock mankind’s ability to travel into the far reaches of space.
If you’re familiar with the Law of Constants – “energy cannot be created or destroyed, it must be transformed into something else”, then the whole notion of Atheism seems absurd, at least in the sense that our existence comes to an abrupt end when we die. Obviosuly, that’s impossible. The energy inside your body is transformed, and studies seem to suggest that our consciousness may not even reside within our physical bodies (which correlates with Bohm’s theory).
I apologize for the rant, but as Ian pointed out, we only know a fraction about our existence. Have sympathy for people of faith because they are seeking the same answers we are, merely in a different manner. Remember that science is also a matter of faith – many of the things we hold to be true often turn out to be false, but we believe in them for a time don’t we? After so many years at odds, science and religion seem to be converging. Rather than dismiss things outright, do give them an objective chance. That is what the scientific method is supposed to be. You may find they lead to some surprising results.
By the way, some of what I have discussed falls into the realm of “intelligent design”. As you can see, they have nothing to do with religious dogma, so try not to be so elitist when someone raises an opposing view.
A lot of us know more Bible than Xtians. We are curious and sceptical, therefore we examine the evidence and try to reach a logical conclusion. We also know that 99.999% of the universe is still unknown but avoid filling the gap with our own inventions and wishful thinking.
My atheism stems from scientific scepticism, but in recent years I have taken to studying the bible (and to a lesser extent the koran – very difficult) in a spirit of “Know your enemy”. What I have learned has astounded me, and if a few more xtians took the trouble to read their good book and think about it, they would surely realise how preposterous the whole idea of this book being written by a god and providing moral guidance really is.
Aye, for xtians!