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Why I Am Not An Atheist

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Out of force of habit I have just made a couple of responses to atheists even though I know how the arguments always go and I had already written this article months ago to avoid the whole mess. So here it is: a response to every single bit of it in advance. I am putting it here to help my brothers and sisters have something to simply quote or link to, if they like it, just as I know do, instead of going around in the maddeningly predictable usual circles (which I'm sure will still be attempted in the response section below).

 

 

WHY I AM NOT AN ATHEIST

 

by Yahya Sulaiman, a.k.a. Ziggy Zag

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

For many years I have had to endure hearing the same ten or twenty odd arguments from atheists ad infinitum. I do not hold this limited and repetitive repertoire itself against the atheists who use it since they think that these staples work and therefore they should stick to them, and I have no doubt that they view the equally narrow range of common theistic argumentation in much the same way. But I grow weary of repeating myself and thought it useful to lay out all my thoughts at once so that, from now on, all I have to do is just refer people to one article instead of just repeatinging myself for a thousandth time. I have endeavored to do that with this essay. I don’t expect it to cause anyone to change their mind about anything but it does says a lot of things that desperately need to be said, and which I hope I won’t have to say again. If I end up sounding too caustic or opinionated then I apologize and assure you that it is the mere byproduct of the weariness out of which this article has been written—that same weariness that I’m trying to lay to rest.

 

I should warn you now that before I can actually get to the clichés of atheism itself there are a number of other clichés related to the subject which must be addressed first since they always seem to pop up anyway.

 

 

PRELIMINARIES AND PEEVES

 

The issue that always seems to come up right off the bat is that of who between theists and atheists carries some assumed burden of proof. Which is funny in a way because I wasn’t even aware that unprovable issues had burdens of proof. You’d think the whole question would be kind of a moot point. Some atheists, while remaining unaware of what I thought would be such an obvious irony as that, nevertheless are able to recognize that since every negative is also a positive and vice versa (disbelief in X=belief in not-X, so disbelief in theism=belief in atheism) therefore they can’t, as many other atheists claim, place the burden of proof squarely on us for being “the positive claimantâ€, due to their being just as much positive claimants as we are. (That is, they recognize this when they’re not shifting their ground at their convenience between the burden of proof going to “the positive claimantâ€, “the one introducing the claimâ€, or “the one making the ‘extraordinary’ claimâ€.) So instead they try to escape a shared burden of proof by redefining “atheism†as a “lack of belief†in deity.

 

“Lack of beliefâ€. Now there’s an awkward phrase if ever I’ve heard one. Let me explain it to you. These folks, you see, have decided to call people who have never heard of God and supposedly don’t know about Him atheists too. Just for the sake of argument let’s go along with this for a moment, even though the regular, self-aware kind of atheists seem to be the only people in the world who ever use the term that way at all. Let us call the regular atheism (disbelief in God, whom one has heard of) atheism A, and mere ignorance of God atheism B. The argument in question is that since default position atheism B belongs to category AB along with atheism A, that means that AB (atheism itself) is the default position. (You may need to read that sentence a few times before you can penetrate the incoherence I’m describing.) And therefore we theists have the burden of proof since we’re the ones introducing our claim (when before it was about who was making the positive claim, mind you). Well I’m sorry folks, but AB is not the default (if any of it is), only B. To refer to the whole category of AB as the default is like calling children “men†since as yet they’re neither men nor women and then using this new application of the label in an argument about men vs. women. After all, a child is a non-woman, right? In any event none of the atheism B folks have any bearing on this issue anyway. Forget about them. They’re not the ones in this debate, they have nothing to do with this debate, they’re just being introduced out of nowhere as a non-sequitur or desperate diversion.

 

Or is the burden of proof, again, on the one with the “extraordinary†claim instead? It’s apparently whatever an atheist needs it to be, actually, but that is not the point. The defense they keep citing during any given fifteen minutes when they’re currently saying it’s the person making the extraordinary claim who has the burden of proof goes, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.†That adage might have something to it in and of itself but in this context it presupposes that it’s simply a given that theism is somehow more “extraordinary†than atheism—whatever that’s even supposed to mean. It does seem to me that “extraordinary†is necessarily a very subjective word. And as for my own subjective notions I personally cannot see what makes the idea of the universe having an entity who created it any more extraordinary than ideas like an entire universe spontaneously generating out of nowhere as alchemists thought maggots did from meat, a universe spawning itself (impossible, as nothing can create itself: something has to exist first before it can perform creation or any other action), or even a plethora of entire universes (or perhaps an infinitude) existing to explain how this universe could be the way it is without having been designed that way. Apparently all “extraordinary†means here is “in reference to an outside, supernatural factorâ€. Or to boil it down a little more, “theisticâ€.

 

Similarly, these atheists are always trying to appeal to Ockham’s Razor (the principle that the simpler explanation is to be preferred) to support their beliefs. The rule was always meant to be only a last resort to fall back on in case no other means of determining fact is plausible or applicable, but apparently a lot of people find that part easy to forget. Believe it or not, I actually have my doubts about Ockham’s Razor itself, as a razor is not the best instrument for truly dissecting something so as to see the whole story before you. You see, life teaches that things are always more complex than they appear, not less, and thus to make a point of erring on the side of simplicity seems to me erroneous indeed. But again, there may be something to this rule too all the same—certainly as a rule of convenience for scientists at least. People say that it works for scientists in their studies and I’m sure it does but you must remember that pretending that certain numbers exist even though they are known to be imaginary also works for mathematicians in their studies.

 

Leave scientific methods and “the scientific method†to the scientists; their only place in matters of the abstract and physically unprovable is either woeful misapplication or grievous pretentiousness, or even as a narrowing of the mind. In any event all of these arguments I have just mentioned are merely excuses to dismiss an argument on some other ground than its own merits anyway.

 

Let’s get something else out of the way quick: let us please have no more of this nonsense about, “We’re all atheists: I just happen to believe in one fewer god than you do.†I’m apolitical and maybe even anti-political but you never hear me say to conservatives or progressives or Green party people, “Everyone is anti-political; I just happen to believe in the validity of one fewer political philosophy than you do.†Nobody says that, and why? Because it’s asinine, no matter how nonliterally it may be meant. I mean, by such logic we may as well go ahead and define all people as nihilists as well: we all believe in only one more philosophy or value system than the nihilists, don’t we? If the point is merely a call for tolerance or understanding or empathy or identification then I’m sure there are much better, simpler ways to make such a point which are more cogent.

 

Furthermore, I would appreciate it if atheists kindly stopped using the term “freethinkers†synonymously with “nontheists†or “the nonreligiousâ€, because it is elitist bull which, intentionally or not, implicates that everyone who happens to disagree with their own position is automatically coming to a different conclusion because they’re not thinking freely. To call only your own group The Freethinkers is to insult every dissenting group in the world just on general principles. How do you suppose the Democrats would feel if the Republican Party suddenly changed its name to The Freethinking Party, or vice versa? Apply the golden rule.

 

I would also like for atheists and other nontheists to stop using “skepticism†to mean “believing in something only when you think there’s evidence for itâ€, because that is not what the word means, has never been what it meant, and if theists defined our own position that way then I’m sure you would be very offended. Again the golden rule is key here. Disbelief is just disbelief: whatever reasons or criteria may or may not have led to it is an entirely separate issue from what the thing itself is, and thus these reasons or criteria must not be simply presumed in the very definition of the position. It’s almost as haughty and closed-minded in its implications as the “freethinker†label.

 

And along the same lines, kindly stop referring to arguments for God’s existence as “dead†or “obsoleteâ€, or even “primitiveâ€, just because you happen to disagree with them and other atheists have expressed a similar disagreement in the past. It’s yet another bit of pure elitist arrogance or insouciance—that underlying insistence that oneself must certainly be right that makes my skin crawl. The common arguments for atheism are every bit as ancient as the ones for theism (and, as I will presently demonstrate, God willing, a lot less viable) and you probably wouldn’t want us talking the same way about them, so once again, golden rule. That also goes for referring to religion as “superstitionâ€.

 

And let us hear no more of these childish (nay, infantile) analogies that atheists like to use as comparisons for God, religion, “proving a negative†, etc.. Santa Claus, “the flying spaghetti monsterâ€, leprechauns in the attic, fairy tales, the “celestial teapotâ€, invisible pink unicorns, grow up! Even if one leaves aside the utter puerility of all this hackneyed mockery the insult and snobbery involved is still too egregious to ignore. Whether there are any intellectual grounds for these comparisons or not there certainly are no ethical grounds, although some atheists still defend the appeals to ridicule with the claim that anyone who believes the “absurd†things we do deserves to be mocked ruthlessly; and thus do they demonstrate a sense of justice that is no better or more mature than their sense of humor. Whether you’re right or wrong about the point you make, you’re never going to make any point about anything productively by associating the contrary viewpoint with a flying spaghetti monster. Get over yourselves. Sheesh. If you don’t take our views seriously then why are you even bothering to discuss them at all?

 

Besides, you can’t have it both ways: atheists are constantly admitting to me that science frequently goes against common sense and that it should be valued over logical reasoning itself. Which as good a reason as I’ve ever heard not to make science such an ultimate priority. Indeed, I couldn’t have thought of a better one myself if my very life depended on it.

 

Finally, let us all, theist and nontheist alike, stop using the word “faith†in this nebulous emotional/intuitive sense which is so often alleged to be opposed to reason. The misconception has become so common now amongst both believers and disbelievers that even some dictionaries are starting to include it as one alternate meaning of the word. “Faith†was never actually intended to mean anything remotely different in a religious context than it means in every non-religious one: “trustâ€.

 

“I trust him.â€

“I have faith in him.â€

 

“I have faith that God will set things right.â€

“I trust that God will set things right.â€

 

And if you know anything about trust then you know that it is not an inherently irrational thing, although it of course can be irrational in certain circumstances, or when formed for certain reasons, or held in such a way. Inversely, trusting can also sometimes be the only rational thing to do: it all depends on the particulars.

 

Finally, there’s “negative atheismâ€, although I don’t see any good reason why it shouldn’t be considered a form of agnosticism. This is the idea that one cannot believe in God since one cannot get a coherent definition of “God†in the first place. Of course in such a circumstance one just as much cannot disbelieve in Him either.

 

Negative “atheism†is based mostly on a confusion between what something is and what it is like. Every dictionary I’ve ever seen defines “God†the same way every theist I’ve ever met would more or less agree on: “the creator and ruler of the universeâ€. Beyond that it’s all what kind of God you’re talking about, not who God Himself is in the first place. Differing accounts of a human being (let’s name him Kevin) may place him as a good man or a wretch, a person who gets involved with other people from behind the scenes or a person who does not get involved at all, or even by some accounts nothing more than someone’s imaginary friend. But none of this changes the fact that it’s still Kevin we’re talking about, does it, and not anyone else? If Kevin is real then he won’t be a different person altogether if someone’s idea of what kind of person he is turns out to be false. Always remember: what something is and what it is like are not the same thing.

 

Negative “atheism†is perhaps proof like no other of how utterly obsessed with words the atheistic zeitgeist is, even at the behest of, or in the denial or willful ignorance of, a word’s very well known meaning. But I needed to get the issue out of the way lest everything that follows be perhaps seen as tainted by its absence.

 

 

WHY I LEFT ATHEISM, AND WHY IT KEEPS LOOKING LESS AND LESS LIKE I’LL COME BACK

 

Oh, yes, I was an atheist, and I was pretty hardcore about it too. And I know you atheists are sitting there thinking, “Whoa boy, another one of these, ‘You know, I used to be just like you…’ stories. Here it comes. What was it, a sudden warm feeling in your stomach or something?†No, it wasn’t. In fact, there isn’t much of a story as such to tell at all. The simple fact is that I left atheism because I couldn’t stand continuing to making myself overlook the flaws in its arguments and reasoning, just as you atheists keep accusing us of deliberately overlooking the “flaws†in theism.

 

More than anything, it was, ironically enough, reading Nietzsche that did it. Though only incidentally. When I read his book Beyond Good and Evil (or tried to: I never really finished it) I came away thinking that it was a lot of dreck unworthy of completion but that it did at least serve to put one single interesting thought in my head. (For that reason perhaps it could be said to have actually succeed more than most philosophy I’ve read in my life, so I suppose I should give the devil his due.) On retrospect, I was probably just misreading Nietzsche but the thought he evoked in me started a chain reaction of cogitation which eventually led me back to belief in God. That idea was (or so it seemed to me at the time) that there are no absolutes in this world, no infallibles to fall back on, nothing etched in stone. If not chaos, then at least unmitigated changeability.

 

I wondered. Was it true? There didn’t seem very much in life that was certain, that I knew. Time and again I had learned the hard way that in this world there are always exceptions, x-factors, complications. Surprises and frustrations yet to be revealed. So I got to thinking, is there anything we can really fall back on and be sure it’s true? I thought, and I thought, and I eventually came up with one thing and one thing only: we have the laws of the universe. Even in my state of uncertainty I couldn’t deny the infallibility and regularity of those. And all this called to my attention something I hadn’t really thought about all that much before.

 

Kurt Vonnegut—himself an atheist as I then was—once tried to write a book for children, a complete guide to the world and everything in it. But he had to cease his efforts because he got stuck on how to answer the question, “Why doesn’t everybody just fall off the top of the world?†He realized that the word “gravity†is not an explanation for anything at all, it’s just a word. And because of this one stumbling block he could never finish that book. I was equally stumped and didn’t know if I could ever finish formulating my view of the world. Because not only could I not figure out how these unique absolutes we call physical “laws†or “forces†or “properties†or what have you could be there at all, I didn’t even know what they were in the first place.

 

It occurred to me quickly enough that no one else did either, including scientists. Indeed, they seemed almost content not to know. Which was fine, but in that case, I thought, they may as well be referring to other unknowns—even religious ones—for all the difference it made. In ancient times, I ruminated, when someone dropped a rock to the ground and it got hurled down by something unseen, they might have said that it was a “spirit†carrying it to the ground. Now we say it’s a “forceâ€. What makes the latter term have any more meaning than the former, let alone any more likelihood of being accurate?? Were “the forces of nature†just the modern day “godsâ€, a substitute of one nebulous term for another so as to water it down and remove the elements of life and supernature from it to suit one’s own ends?

 

Perhaps if I could think of some possible way to define the terms myself, I reckoned? One by one the traditional methods of definition failed me. One couldn’t just lump all the laws into a known whole as a subset; we’re not classifying a species here, we’re talking about a nobody-knows-what. Definition by synonyms was no good either, because all the terms I saw used synonymously with “force†were just as meaningless or ambiguous as the word itself was. We don’t know the things’ existential nature. To define them operationally…Ah! Now I had hit on something. Define them operationally…now that I could do. They were the things that formed an ordered foundation for the world, organizing, configuring, regulating. They were the Structurers, the Setters, the foundational guiding principles. The patterns by which it all happens. But how and why? Pattern, structure, and organization are things we have no precedent for believing to just spring up by themselves.

 

Well before I had this revelation I had already noticed myself repeatedly finding atheistic debaters and writers to frequently overlook what I thought of as the obvious, more genuine refutations when arguing with theists, and go with much worse or more easily contested alternatives instead. And the more and more I read, the more and more I noticed this. I had noticed it, most of all, in the pathetic responses invariably given to the teleological argument from natural law for God’s existence, an argument which it seemed I was now drawing toward on my own by accident. Suddenly everything fit in place: the real reason those other atheists weren’t making the “better†counter-arguments that I would have made myself is because mine weren’t really that much better at all. The real reason I was noticing more and more flaws in the usual atheistic arguments was not because the atheists posing them were unskilled, or that they failed to present their position as best they could: they were simply wrong in the first place. Why else would the argument from natural law (and to a lesser extent, teleological arguments in general) be the one they have the very most embarrassingly terrible answers to when natural (and mathematical) law seems to be have been the key all along!

 

I shan’t recount for you how I got from to this deistic position back to Islam. I have done it elsewhere, it is difficult to summarize in the first place, and it’s nothing to our point at the moment. I shall, however, explain to you now just why those uniquely poor counter-arguments I spoke of don’t work. For some reason there doesn’t seem to be a single one of them I can think of which does not come more or less straight out of agnostic Bertrand Russell’s famous essay Why I Am Not a Christian (an article that was really about theism and hardly says anything about Christianity at all). This includes even the most common, most ludicrous, and most insulting and presumptuous one of them all, which in Russell’s own words goes:

 

The whole idea that natural laws imply a lawgiver is due to a confusion between natural and human laws. Human laws are behests commanding you to behave a certain way, in which you may choose to behave, or you may choose not to behave; but natural laws are a description of how things do in fact behave, and being a mere description of what they in fact do, you cannot argue that there must be somebody who told them to do that...

 

Yes, this actually is the most common counter-argument against the argument from natural law that I’ve ever seen, this insult to the intelligence of the theist that he’s somehow getting “law†as in “human-made, enforced social rule†and “law†in the purely scientific (non)sense mixed up! Just because some of us happen to be using the word “lawgiver†when we make the argument. Who could ever actually make that mistake? Maybe someone who has English as a third language, I suppose. This straw man claim of an equivocation fallacy does not need further elaboration, save to express my awe at hearing anyone say that the mere fact of something being a description entails that the thing being described cannot be said to have a purpose. There’s more:

 

Because even supposing that there were, you are then faced with the question "Why did God issue just those natural laws and no others?" If you say that he did it simply from his own good pleasure, and without any reason, you then find that there is something which is not subject to law, and so your train of natural law is interrupted. If you say, as more orthodox theologians do, that in all the laws which God issues he had a reason for giving those laws rather than others—the reason, of course, being to create the best universe, although you would never think it to look at it—if there were a reason for the laws which God gave, then God himself was subject to law, and therefore you do not get any advantage by introducing God as an intermediary. You really have a law outside and anterior to the divine edicts, and God does not serve your purpose, because he is not the ultimate lawgiver.

 

How could a supernatural being possibly ever be subject to natural law? Only natural things follow natural law. Hence the term “natural lawâ€. Duh. Even if God were subject to His own law of some sort, it would have to be a supernatural law, and the existence of supernatural laws are not demonstrably evident and undeniable in our common experience as natural ones are. And since when does God having motives—motives which Russell merely presumes and dictates—somehow prove He’s subject to law too? Motives are motives. Having a reason to make a particular choice when you’re just as capable of making another one instead is a sign of not being compelled to do so by a higher outside “forceâ€.

 

Nowadays we explain the law of gravitation in a somewhat complicated fashion that Einstein has introduced [wherein] you no longer have the sort of natural law that you had in the Newtonian system, where, for some reason that nobody could understand, nature behaved in a uniform fashion. We now find that a great many things we thought were natural laws are really human conventions… On the other hand, where you can get down to any knowledge of what atoms actually do, you will find they are much less subject to law than people thought, and that the laws at which you arrive…are statistical averages such as would emerge from the laws of chance; and that makes this whole business of natural law much less impressive than it formerly was.

 

Can you see what he’s doing here? You see it, don’t you? He’s just explaining one kind of law (physical) by referring it to another kind of law (mathematical) in order to explain the whole of law. He is, in short, taking exactly the same approach he derided when discussing cosmological arguments for God’s existence in the very same essay I’ve been quoting, and so I would respond in turn with his very own quip:

 

It is exactly of the same nature as the Hindu's view, that the world rested upon an elephant and the elephant rested upon a tortoise; and when they said, "How about the tortoise?" the Indian said, "Suppose we change the subject." The argument is really no better than that.

 

Even now, almost eighty-four years later, it is these same terrible answers of Russell’s that atheists have been parroting nonstop ever since. They haven’t improved on it, or even bothered to change it, one bit. For instance, the “if God is the cause of natural law then He must also be subject to some law of His own†evasion may be the worst argument of its kind yet unfortunately it’s not the only one by any means. There seems to be an entire trend atheists have made out of attempting weakly to stand all the common arguments for God’s existence on their own head. They say that if God created the cosmos then something must have created God. They say that if God designed the world then He must have had His own designer. They say that we’re not following our own logic.

 

Never mind that all our common experience does teach us all that the causer and the caused, the designer and the designed, are always different, have different characteristics, and may even work in different ways. Never mind that God, if He exists, is a supernatural being and therefore a train of natural law must necessarily end before reaching Him, as I’ve already pointed out. Never mind that likewise a nonphysical being that creates the physical cosmos obviously could not possibly be part of the same chain of physical causation Himself. Never mind that even if God did have His own creator, designer, or higher law, that still wouldn’t change the fact of His existing in the first place, which if you’ll remember is supposed to be the subject at hand. And never mind that God is very likely outside of the confines of time anyway and therefore, by corollary, outside of the confines of causation.

 

Here’s the low down: if you’re going to say that the laws of nature are the be-all and end-all, and if the most explanatory, full, coherent definition you can give of them is that they are regular patterns (which we already knew), and if you’re going to say that the universe operates solely because of these laws and therefore there’s no designer behind them, then what you’re basically saying is, “The world is operated by patterns. We define these patterns as descriptions of patterns. And because of these patterns there couldn’t have been a pattern-maker behind it all. Because there are these patterns, you see.â€

 

Me, I’d much rather assume that when something walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. I can’t prove it but what else am I to think? When I see pattern, structure, organization, and intricacy, not to mention unusually commonly agreed upon aesthetic appeal—in short, all the usual marks of human works like art—I don’t wonder how artists can somehow always incorporate the way the very cosmos works into their own most natural, intuitive, instinctive creative processes (especially considering that the cop-out non-explanation “laws of nature†predated so many of these artists). I wonder how such an obvious work of art could possibly not have an Artist. Experience can be the mother of illusion, I admit, but when it comes to identifying things by all their common marks it really does make for the obvious, natural, and generally most reasonable and accurate criterion.

 

 

THE ARGUMENTS FOR ATHEISM

 

If atheists ever seemed to provide a good case for disbelief in God, then God willing I would consider weighing it against my own reasons for belief in Him. However, not only is there a very good reason for believing a cosmic designer of some sort exists that no one can give a better answer to than claptrap parroted from Bertrand Russell, not one single argument for atheism exists which necessitates much consideration. At least, none that I’ve ever heard. In fact, almost all the ones I do hear seem to fall into three categories:

 

1. Circular appeals to material evidence (or lack thereof).

 

2. “Incompatible properties†arguments that define God in a particular way more complex than the real, universal definition (and never with precisely the same set of presumed characteristics between any two such arguments, you’ll notice), and then make extremely illogical claims that the characteristics the atheists themselves have set forth somehow can’t all coexist with each other.

 

3. Transparent appeal to probability fallacies, usually just masking the mere question, “Why would God do that/not do that?†in order to make it seem like an actual argument about anything. As though we human beings could ever even know for certain why other human beings, or even our very own selves, do anything they do!

 

Let’s go through these three things one by one, shall we?

 

 

CIRCULAR APPEALS TO MATERIAL EVIDENCE

 

Believe it or not, a lot of people disbelieve in God and any number of other things that are similarly by definition outside of the purpose, nature, and scope of scientific inquiry and research, because there is no scientific evidence for these things existing. How such blatant question-begging as this can ever escape anyone’s attention I have no idea.

 

Let me explain: since science is the study of nature, it can tell us nothing of supernature one way or the other any more than theological theories could be scientific theories, or a mathematical formula prove something in linguistics, or an expedition to dig up a place on earth prove whether or not something is buried on a faraway planet. Thus, when you say that you don’t believe in something that just by definition science could never confirm or disconfirm because science doesn’t confirm it, you’re going in a vicious circle in a way that astounded me even as an atheist. The same goes for this philosophy of trusting only the senses. You’ll hear that one a lot too even though it is riddled by the same circularity: disbelieving that there could ever be anything outside of the realm of the senses because such things are not to be found inside the realm of the senses. (Besides, you can’t see, smell, touch, taste, or hear the very thoughts that lead you to your conclusion, so the argument is self-refuting anyway.)

 

Some people deny that there is anything outside the realm of science—and then in the same breath denounce Creationist science as being pseudo-science because things like God are outside the realm of science. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with you about the Creationist science thing. But you can’t have it both ways. If Creationism is pseudo-science due to it bringing the supernatural into science when science’s realm does not extend to the supernatural, then neither is it valid for you to claim that nothing is outside the realm of science, or that you’re permitted to disbelieve in the supernatural because of its lack of natural evidence.

 

Let me get in one last word on that nonsense about science having “explained†with the undefined gibberish “force/law†what “was previously thought to have been explained by religious beliefâ€. Consider this on top of everything else I’ve said: it is, again, for a very good reason that science keeps itself secular, but all the same there is nothing remarkable about something that starts with secular premises coming to a secular conclusion. Indeed, one would even think it pretty much inevitable.

 

 

“INCOMPATIBLE PROPERTIES†ARGUMENTS

 

These are the arguments for atheism in which people pick and choose which characteristics go into defining a particular conception of what God happens to be like, make the usual confusion between that and who God actually is in the first place, and then go to town on their own straw man with one ridiculous claim of inconsistency after another after another.

 

Let me repeat: in order to be God, He just has to be the creator of the universe and have power over it. That’s it. Everything else is just differing beliefs about God, not questions of His very existence. Although certain things like intelligence can easily enough be inferred about Him.

 

The most popular of the “incompatible properties†arguments, and the most utterly inexplicably difficult to countless theists through the ages, is the argument from evil/suffering. You know, “Evil/suffering exists so either God doesn’t or He isn’t good.†I’d hardly consider it a good idea to deliberately leave open a possibility, however unsavory, which grants God’s existence when you’re arguing against God’s existence. The only thing that really baffles me, though, is the question of exactly what’s supposed to be so baffling. I mean, I’ve hardly heard a better textbook example of an equivocation fallacy in my life. Nowhere else in the world outside of this one particular argument is goodness defined so naively and simplistically as a total unwillingness to ever allow any discomfort of any kind ever occur to anyone, for any reason, on any occasion, period. Nothing in our own experience suggests this. As far as I know, nothing in any culture’s moral code does either, nor any individual moral sensibility more well-developed than that of a three-year-old. It is a unique, baseless, oversimplified passivist redefinition of goodness done strictly for the purposes of forming an argument like this. And as for evil, certainly allowing evil to exist at all does not make one evil oneself. Indeed, if evil did not exist at all then what meaning would the concept of goodness even have in the first place?

 

But it seldom does any good to explain these things because both those atheists proposing the argument and those theists bothered by it are equally likely to be driven more by emotions intellectualized into the illusion of reason than with reason itself or even fact. Or that’s what their behavior always suggests to me, anyway, given their tone and the way they keep replying with emotional appeals about specific examples of evil or suffering instead of allowing themselves to look at the big picture. All the same, I had to at least try, because otherwise this particular atheistic argument would be that elephant in the living room that everyone’s pretending isn’t there.

 

All this brings us to another, related subjective judgment disguised as objective argumentation: the “perfection vs. creation†argument. The idea that a perfect God would not create an imperfect world. Once again I ask, are we actually talking about whether God exists or not here? Because at worst the argument could still indicate that He does exist and isn’t “perfectâ€. You’re probably getting tired of my putting words in quotation marks by now but with these matters it keeps becoming a necessity. Perfection is a subjective trait just by definition: it means the total fulfillment of or adherence to a standard. So I ask you, who made that standard? If we made it ourselves then of course it’s just a personal judgment call and not a matter of objective fact. If the standard is God’s own then you’re not only going beyond the mere issue of His existence or nonexistence, you’re also now the one introducing the claim. Doesn’t that mean that the bogus burden of proof is on you now? Or is it suddenly on the “positive†claimant or the person with the “extraordinary†claim again?

 

You may find things like disproportion in nature or the wearing down of closed systems to be signs that the world is not designed: I find them to be, if anything, signs that it was. In fact, if the world’s structures were never-ending and all utterly set to stiff, exact proportions then it might well look more like it may have been an accident along the lines of what I believe used to be called “mechanistic materialismâ€, sort of in the same way that a constant melody too repetitive and unchanging can hardly be called music at all, or clockwork dancers be said to truly dance. Art isn’t art without flourish and flair, a design not a design (or at least not an obvious one) without variation and intricacy and maybe even some negative space.

 

And then we have the argument from free will. That one goes like this: “If God exists and knows everything then He knows what will happen before it happens, and therefore He isn’t truly free, so God either isn’t free, doesn’t know everything, or doesn’t exist.†Are these people really so desperate to come up with actual claims against God existing at all that they can’t avoid including the possibility of His existence in their own arguments against it every single time? And the whole thing is just built on one more of those puzzlingly-considered-puzzling clichés from history, that somehow we or God cannot have any free will just because God already knows what we’re going to do. Even if you assume what is very unlikely, that God is not omnitemporal and therefore subject to our past-present-future division in the first place, the argument still makes no sense whatsoever. Knowing something is going to happen is not the same thing as causing it to happen, nor does it entail that. Being aware of the mortality of all humans does not make any single human genocidal and suicidal. Knowing that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow morning does not mean that we’re all spinning the earth in its orbit ourselves with some subconscious telekinesis. Knowing and doing are two different things. This is very rudimentary. Even if you add to the equation the power to stop something from happening, even that is still not the same thing as making it happen. Merely having an option isn’t the same thing as necessarily exercising it.

 

I think you’re starting to get the general idea by now: omnipotence vs. omniscience, freedom vs. perfection, goodness vs. power…none of these things has anything more to do with God’s existence instead of God’s nature than does Tyson vs. Holyfield. Unless, that is, one such argument happens to be “creation vs. dominionâ€, and I’ve yet to see that one. As such, it would be as unnecessary as it would be long-winded to go through every single one of these “incompatible properties†fiascos. I think I’ve already covered the really big clichés among them anyway in addition to the aforementioned central flaw universal to it all, and by now the reader should be starting to see the pattern.

 

 

APPEALS TO PROBABILITY

 

Finally, a lot of atheistic arguments go along the lines of things like the following:

 

* “If God existed then He could make everyone know He exists.â€

* “If God existed then He wouldn’t have made a world that thrives so much on violence when He could have just made every creature photosynthetic and the weather pretty much always sunny.â€

* “If God existed then He could have made us understand Him better.â€

* “If God existed then He wouldn’t run and hide. He’d just let us see Him.â€

* “If God existed then he could prevent me from making another post at this message board. If I make one, that proves He doesn’t exist.†(Yes, I have actually seen this one. No joke.)

 

All of it can be summed up by, “God could do X if He existed, but he doesn’t do X, so He doesn’t exist.†Yet another classic textbook demonstration of a fallacy, this time the appeal to probability, which could be roughly defined as the “if something can happen, therefore it will†fallacy. Things don’t happen that can happen all the time, and why they don’t is a separate issue altogether. To debunk the existence of someone what you would have to do instead is show that they’re not doing something it is literally inherently impossible that they wouldn’t do if they were real. Really, what seems to be at the heart of virtually all atheistic arguments (not just these appeals to probability) is the mere act of demanding that God make His motives known to you or else you won’t believe in Him.

 

I have, to be sure, left out from my list one remaining major category of arguments for atheism, and it is perhaps the most common one of all. These are the arguments that are really just insultingly poorly disguised arguments against a specific theistic religion or religious mindset, like those arguments from scripture to disprove God’s existence. (Indeed, some famous atheists like Richard Carrier have said that they actually became atheists in the first place because of reading the Bible.) This kind of straw man does not merit any refutation, and if you want to see examples of it galore for yourself, just go to an atheistic website at random and look around. You’ll have enough reading material for the whole day. Maybe the whole week.

 

Tell me, why is it that atheists themselves are the people who discuss and argue about the real subject of God’s existence itself least often even if they consider it the biggest bee in their bonnet? Perhaps they just have something against celestial teapots.

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PropellerAds

mashAllah, it was definitely good read!...very expressive,very out-spoken and completely non-apologetic, you faced the problem on a one-on-one approach!...jazakAllah khair!

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Yes brother, that was amazing. It's clear and logical. Jazakallahukhar.

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:sl:

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this article and have a feeling I'll read it more than once, it was very stimulating and incredibly well-written. For anyone who claims that theists don't think, this article should prove them wrong. JazakAllah khair.

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I consider myself atheist and I have to say that I actually had a hard time trying to follow what you were saying. But to be on topic, there is a reason that most of us have similar arguments and reasons of why we are atheist. That reason is because they work and there can only be a finite amount of reasons. There is not going to be a million different reasons for each person, the few 10-20 that you say you see are like that because they sum it all up nicely so we don't have to spend a long time trying to explain it.

 

I will respond to the other parts of your post layer since I will have to reread it to get what your points are and to understand it better.

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You'll probably have to discuss it with them then, as I am a little tired of all the argument (which is why I posted this expressly for other Muslims, as I've said). It's just too much for me, all this going in circles. But if they want to rebut you then sure, knock yourself out.

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radians, Teckni, and Redeem:

 

I’m disappointed that you praised Yahya’s “essayâ€, because as I’ll partially demonstrate below, it contains a substantial number of errors. In contrast to your praise, I’d summarize my assessment of his essay this way: if he submitted it to one of my university classes, I’d not only give it a failing grade, but I’d warn him that he was headed for a failing grade for the course. Further, I’d recommend that he drop the course and I’d do what I could do bar him from re-enrolling in my class until he completed prerequisite courses in fundamentals of probability theory, basic science, and critical thinking.

 

I’d understand your praise of Yahya’s essay if you were children, since it’s natural for children to accept guidance from adults. Adulthood, however, requires that ideas advanced by others be critically assessed. Not doing so is a principle pathway leading children (and “grownups†with childish minds) to fanaticism and terrorism. Consequently, it’s extremely important to critically assess especially the ideas of aspiring demagogues such as Yahya.

 

With respect to critical assessments of demagoguery and before showing you at least some of Yahya’s errors, perhaps it would be useful if I showed you Thomas Jefferson’s assessment of demagoguery similar to Yahya’s, namely, Plato’s:

 

Having more leisure… for reading, I amused myself with reading seriously Plato’s “Republicâ€. I am wrong, however, in calling it amusement, for it was the heaviest task-work I ever went through. I had occasionally before taken up some of his other works, but scarcely ever had patience to go through a whole dialogue. While wading through the whimsies, the puerilities, and unintelligible jargon of this work, I laid it down often to ask myself how it could have been that the world should have so long consented to give reputation to such nonsense as this?

 

In truth, he [Plato] is one of the race of genuine sophists, who has escaped the oblivion of his brethren, first by the elegance of his diction, but chiefly by the adoption and incorporation of his whimsies into the body of… Christianity [and, similarly, into Islam]. His foggy mind is forever presenting the semblances of objects which, half seen through a mist, can be defined neither in form nor dimensions. Yet this, which should have consigned him to early oblivion, really procured him immortality of fame and reverence. The Christian priesthood [and similarly, Muslim clerics]… saw in the mysticism of Plato materials with which they might build up an artificial system which might, from its indistinctness, admit everlasting controversy, give employment for their order, and introduce it to profit, power, and pre-eminence…

 

If you’re unfamiliar with Plato’s “whimsies… puerilities… and unintelligible jargonâ€, which similar to Yahya’s has attraction because of “elegance of his dictionâ€, then I’d encourage you to critically evaluate Plato’s writings. You’ll find, for example, that even after his teacher (Socrates) was executed for allegedly not believing in the State’s gods, yet Plato advocated exactly the same policy (which was later adopted by both Christian and Muslim clerics, e.g., “kill the infidelsâ€). Thereby, perhaps you’d begin to appreciate why I’m disappointed that you would praise a similar, aspiring demagogue (viz., Yahya) for his essay that contains so many misunderstandings and mistakes.

 

COMMENTS ON YAHYA’S FIRST NOTABLE PARAGRAPH

 

With that “introduction†out of the way, I’ll now begin comments on specific aspects of Yahya’s essay. My evaluation won’t be complete, because as with Plato’s writings, Yahya’s essay becomes too painfully obnoxious to provide complete evaluations of all its “whimsies… puerilities… and unintelligible jargonâ€. I'll submit my comments in a number of posts, since my first attempt to post these comments was stopped with an automatic message similar to: "You have quoted more than the allotted number of texts".

 

To begin, consider the first paragraph of Yahya’s “PRELIMINARIES AND PEEVES†(which, therefore, is the first notable paragraph of his essay):

 

The issue that always seems to come up right off the bat is that of who between theists and atheists carries some assumed burden of proof. Which is funny in a way because I wasn’t even aware that unprovable issues had burdens of proof. You’d think the whole question would be kind of a moot point. Some atheists, while remaining unaware of what I thought would be such an obvious irony as that, nevertheless are able to recognize that since every negative is also a positive and vice versa (disbelief in X = belief in not-X, so disbelief in theism = belief in atheism) therefore they can’t, as many other atheists claim, place the burden of proof squarely on us for being “the positive claimantâ€, due to their being just as much positive claimants as we are. (That is, they recognize this when they’re not shifting their ground at their convenience between the burden of proof going to “the positive claimantâ€, “the one introducing the claimâ€, or “the one making the ‘extraordinary’ claimâ€.) So instead they try to escape a shared burden of proof by redefining “atheism†as a “lack of belief†in deity.

 

It’s amazing how many errors that Yahya thereby incorporated into a single paragraph: as I’ll address immediately below, it contains two false dichotomies and at least three misunderstanding / misrepresentations.

 

False Dichotomy #1

The first false dichotomy that Yahya introduces is his black-versus-white, true-versus-false representation of atheists/theists. In reality, the distinction between atheists and theists should have at least two, major, colored complexities. One complexity is needed to describe different people’s estimates for the probability for the existence of a particular god. Thus, a theist has concluded that the probability that a particular god exists is greater than 50%, an atheist with respect to that same god has concluded that the probability for the god’s existence is less than 50%, and while I’m at it, I’ll mention that an agnostic with respect to the same god has concluded that the probability, being unknown, is the same as the probability that a particular side of a fair coin comes up when flipped, i.e., 50%.

 

As an example, a particular Christian might conclude that there’s a 50.1% chance that Jesus is God, while a particular atheist (re. the Christian god) might conclude that there’s a 49.9% chance that Jesus is God. Note, then, that the difference between these two estimates for the probability that Jesus is God is very small – not a black-versus-white dichotomy and far too small a difference to generate significant arguments!

 

The second “spectrum of colors†that should be used to distinguish atheists from theists deals with the god being considered. For example, a particular Christian theist might conclude that the probability that the god of Islam exists is only 1% (i.e., this Christian theist would be a Muslim atheist). Meanwhile, most Muslim theists apparently have concluded that the probability that Jesus is God is less than 1%, i.e., Muslim theists are Christian atheists!

 

False Dichotomy #2

Yahya’s second false dichotomy in his above-quoted paragraph is more significant. It’s derived from his apparent failure to progress beyond the simple but inappropriate true-false dichotomy of Aristotelian logic, whose limitations have been well known for multiple centuries. One major limitation (which Yahya apparently doesn’t appreciate) is that “proof†(that something is “true†or “falseâ€) is a concept appropriate only for what are known as “closed systemsâ€, such as pure mathematics, games, and religions.

 

For example, in pure mathematics “proof†is available that 1 + 1 = 2; in the game of baseball, it’s “true†that “three strikes and you’re outâ€; in Christianity, it’s “true†that Jesus is the son of God; and in Islam it’s “true†that Gabriel conveyed Allah’s messages to Muhammad. The “proof†of such claims can be found in relevant textbooks, rulebooks, and “holy†books.

 

Meanwhile, though, in the “open system†known as reality (in which we can never be certain what’s around the next bend in space-time) the best we can do (through application of the scientific method and Bayes’ theorem) is to ascertain the probability that some claim is true. For example, one molecule (or mole) of water plus one molecule (or mole) of carbon dioxide yield, not two molecules (or moles) of carbonic acid, but only one; i.e., in this case, 1 + 1 = 1.

 

In my (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/"]online book[/url] I give other examples in a chapter entitled (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/T1_Truth_&_Knowledge.pdf"]“Truth†& Knowledge[/url] and show how Bayes’ method can be used to ascertain probabilities of the truth of some claim in a chapter entitled (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/T2_Truth_&_Understanding.pdf"]“Truth†& Understanding[/url].

 

To see Yahya’s mistakes caused by his use of false dichotomies, look again even at the first sentence of his above-quoted statement:

 

The issue that always seems to come up right off the bat is that of who between theists and atheists carries some assumed burden of proof.

 

Immediately, a critical reader would probably complain with something similar to: 1) What do you mean by distinguishing between “theists and atheists� Are you talking about a theist who has concluded that there’s a 50.1% chance that a particular god exists versus an atheist who has concluded that there’s a 49.9% chance that the same god exists? If so, then what sort of useless hairsplitting nonsense are you harping on?! And 2) What do you mean “proof� Are you talking about a closed-system game or are you talking about the open-system known as reality? If you’re talking about the possibility that some god exists in reality, then the most that anyone will ever be able to do is estimate the probability that the god exists, not “prove†such a claim!

 

But with the above, I was addressing only the two false dichotomies in Yahya’s first notable paragraph; now, consider three of his misunderstandings / misrepresentations in the same paragraph, which I'll put in a second post.

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Misunderstanding / Misrepresentation #1

To see one of Yahya’s misunderstanding and misrepresentations in the above-quoted paragraph, consider its second sentence:

 

Which is funny in a way because I wasn’t even aware that unprovable issues had burdens of proof.

 

What’s really “funny†(in the sense of ‘strange’) is the above sentence! Thus, given that Yahya has used the word ‘proof’, then it’s consistent to assume that he’s referring to a closed system (because for open systems, the concept of proof is inappropriate). Assuming that the closed system being addressed is some religion (probably Islam), then he’s admitting that in this religion there are some “unprovable issuesâ€. An example, I assume, is the “unprovable issue†that the god of the religion (e.g., Allah) exists. The result, that such closed systems as religions adopt unprovable premisses (e.g., that their god exists or their gods exist) is not, in itself, strange (and is consistent with Gödel’s incompleteness theorem), but what is strange (or maybe better, ‘weird’) is that Yahya then assumes that it’s “funny†that skeptics require evidence to support the religion’s premiss that the assumed god exists (or gods exist).

 

Which then points to Yahya’s additional misunderstanding that skeptics assign to adherents of the religion some “burden of proofâ€. Maybe some skeptics have misspoken and used the term “burden of proofâ€, but if so, Yahya should have corrected them, because what skeptics mean to assign is not a “burden of proof†but a “burden of evidenceâ€. That is, skeptics understand that all religions are simply word games based on various premisses (such as the premiss that some god exists), but once adherents of some religion attempt to apply their religious word games in the real world, then we skeptics demand that, first, evidence be presented to support the contention that the relevant god exists (or relevant gods exist). Which then reveals the weirdness of Yahya’s sentence. If his poor choice of words is corrected, then he’s claiming that there are “unprovable issues†in his religion (e.g., that Allah exists) that, in reality, are exempt from the requirement of having evidence to support them!

 

Actually, though, Yahya is not alone in making such a bizarre claim. For example, the late Pope John Paul II stated something similar:

 

In speaking of the existence of God we should underline that we are not speaking of proofs in the sense implied by the experimental sciences. Scientific proofs in the modern sense of the word are valid only for things perceptible to the senses, since it is only on such things that scientific instruments of investigation can be used. To desire a scientific proof of God would be equivalent to lowering God to the level of beings of our world, and we would therefore be mistaken methodologically in regard to what God is.

 

The above silliness from John Paul contains his own misunderstanding of science (since there’s no such thing as “scientific proofâ€), but more devastating to both Yahya’s and John Paul’s silliness is the following assessment from the 1935 book Philosophy and Logical Syntax by Rudolf Carnap:

 

If a scientist should venture to make an assertion from which no perceptive propositions could be deduced, what should we say to that? Suppose, for example, that he asserts that there is not only a gravitational field having an effect on bodies according to the known laws of gravitation, but also a levitational field.

 

On being asked what sort of effect this levitational field has, according to his theory, he answers that there is no observable effect. In other words, he confesses his inability to give rules according to which we could deduce perceptive propositions from his assertion. In that case our reply is: your assertion is no assertion at all; it does not speak about anything; it is nothing but a series of empty words; it is simply without sense.

 

It is true that he may have images and even feelings connected with his words. This fact may be of psychological importance; logically, it is irrelevant. What gives theoretical meaning to a proposition is not the attendant images and thoughts, but the possibility of deducing from it perceptive propositions…

 

Consequently, what’s truly “funny†is that by admitting that their premisses that their gods exist is “unprovable†(in their incorrect use of the word ‘prove’), that is, by admitting that no evidence supports their assertion that their gods exist (i.e., their assertion provides no “perceptive propositions†or testable predictions), then to both Yahya and Pope John Paul II, an appropriate response is Carnap’s:

 

… your assertion [that your gods exist] is no assertion at all; it does not speak about anything; it is nothing but a series of empty words; it is simply without sense.

 

In summary, then, Yahya’s misunderstanding / misrepresentation #1 is his “funny†idea that, given that at least one of the premisses of his closed-system logical analysis is “unprovableâ€, then it relieves him (and, similarly, Pope John Paul II) of providing evidence that in the open-system known as reality, his premiss (e.g., that his god exists) is anything but “empty wordsâ€. In fact, as I show in some detail in the chapter entitled (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/T1_Truth_&_Knowledge.pdf"]“Truth" & Knowledge[/url], the reason why his premiss (e.g., that his god exists) can’t be tested is because his premiss contains no information.

 

(Continued in next post.)

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Misunderstanding / Misrepresentation #2

But there’s still more misunderstanding / misrepresentations in Yahya’s first notable paragraph, which contains the sentence:

 

Some atheists… are able to recognize that since every negative is also a positive and vice versa (disbelief in X = belief in not-X, so disbelief in theism = belief in atheism) therefore they can’t, as many other atheists claim, place the burden of proof squarely on us for being “the positive claimantâ€, due to their being just as much positive claimants as we are.

 

Before calling attention to Yahya’s errors in the above sentence, however, it’s appropriate to correct his poor terminology, which is derived from one of his false dichotomies (distinguishing theists from atheists). Thus, it’s amazingly incorrect to say that “every negative is also a positiveâ€, as anyone knows who has ever handled a battery or been battered with an insult! But granting Yahya that he simply made a misstatement, his false dichotomy and failure to understand probabilities forced him into the incorrect statement that “disbelief in theism = belief in atheismâ€.

 

What Yahya should have said is something similar to: “Evaluating the probability that a particular god exists to be a certain value, say, X, then if there are only the two possibilities that either the god exists or doesn’t exist, then since the sum of probabilities of all possible outcomes must be unity, it’s simultaneously being claimed that the probability that the particular god doesn’t exist is (1 – X).†That is, in contrast to Yahya’s claim, a person doesn’t profess a “belief in atheism†and simultaneously a “disbelief in theismâ€. Instead, a person “simply†estimates a particular value for the probability of the existence of some god – and the complement of that value is automatically the probability that the god doesn’t exist (assuming that there are only the two possibilities, either that the god exists or not).

 

Misunderstanding / Misrepresentation #3

But the above correction of Yahya’s error is minor compared to his misunderstanding / misrepresentation contained in the clause:

 

…therefore they can’t, as many other atheists claim, place the burden of proof squarely on us for being “the positive claimantâ€, due to their being just as much positive claimants as we are.

 

Here, I’ll gloss over his misuse of the word “proof†(which, again, is inapplicable in open systems) and of the term “burden of proof†(when it should be “burden of evidenceâ€) and focus on his astounding misunderstanding / misrepresentation that atheists are “just as much positive claimants as we [theists] are.â€

 

Here, Yahya’s error is derived from his apparent predicament that he has no way to assess or evaluate the relative probabilities that different ideas are approaching truth other than whether or not the ideas are logical. It’s of course desirable that ideas be logical, but logic, alone, is neither necessary (as any student of quantum mechanics knows) nor sufficient (since competing ideas may all be logical). As I explain (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/R_Reason_versus_Reality.pdf"]elsewhere[/url], the weakness of requiring that ideas be logical is that logic can’t produce new information; at best, logic can provide only new knowledge that’s consistent with whatever premisses are used. To produce new information, data are needed. Thus, the only known way to evaluate the relative probabilities that different ideas are approaching truth is to apply the scientific method (in conjunction with Bayes’ theorem) as I outline in the chapter entitled (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/T2_Truth_&_Understanding.pdf"]“Truth" & Understanding[/url].

 

With his failure to appreciate the power of the scientific method and his apparent eagerness to adopt the god idea, Yahya is then led to the silly conclusion that his god idea deserves to be treated with seriousness equal to other ideas about how the universe began. A similar example of such silliness was given by Richard Feynman (co-winner of the 1965 Nobel Prize in physics):

 

Some years ago I had a conversation with a layman about flying saucers – because I am scientific, I know all about flying saucers! I said, “I don’t think there are flying saucers.†So my antagonist said, “Is it impossible that there are flying saucers? Can you prove that it’s impossible?†“Noâ€, I said, “I can’t prove it’s impossible. It’s just very unlikely.†At that he said, “You aren’t very scientific. If you can’t prove it’s impossible, then how can you say what’s more likely and what’s less likely?†But that’s the way that IS scientific. It’s scientific only to say what’s more likely and what’s less likely, and not to be proving all the time the possible and impossible. To define what I mean, I might have said to him, “Listen, I mean that from my knowledge of the world that I see around me, I think that it’s much more likely that the reports of flying saucers are the results of the known irrational characteristics of terrestrial intelligence than of the unknown rational efforts of extra-terrestrial intelligence.†It’s just more likely; that’s all.

 

Feynman’s use of the word “prove†could be criticized, but on the one hand, he commonly spoke casually, especially to people (such as the person to whom he was responding) who apparently know little about science (apparently similar to Yahya). Yet, on the other hand, Feynman’s common-sense approach has wide applicability when dealing with the question of what ideas are worth testing. In particular, in the case of Yahya’s claim that some god exists who created the universe, such an idea is far less likely to be correct than alternative ideas about our universe’s origin and far, far less likely than flying saucers!

 

For the case under consideration, in a chapter entitled (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/IiIndoctrinationinIgnorance.pdf"]Indoctrination in Ignorance[/url], I show how to estimate the probability that some god exists who created our universe. The result is a probability of less than one chance in 10^500, i.e., the probability that Yahya’s god exists is less than 0.00000[continue for a total of about 500 zeros!]0001 . Correspondingly, the probability that such a god DOESN’T exist is 0.99999[continue for a total of about 500 nines!]999 . Consequently, when consistent with his misunderstanding / misrepresentation Yahya would say to me something similar to:

 

“You aren’t very scientific. If you can’t prove it’s impossible, then how can you say what’s more likely and what’s less likely?â€

 

I would respond something similar to Feynman’s:

 

“But that’s the way that IS scientific. It’s scientific only to say what’s more likely and what’s less likely, and not to be [demonstrating] all the time the possible and impossible.â€

 

I could even borrow the essence of Feynman’s argument against space aliens, saying something similar to:

“Listen, I mean that from my knowledge of the world that I see around me, I think that it’s much more likely that the reports of [a magic man in the sky creating our universe] are the results of the known irrational characteristics of terrestrial intelligence than of the unknown rational efforts of extra-terrestrial intelligence.†It’s just more likely; that’s all.

 

In fact, the idea of a creator god is found in myths from all primitive cultures, i.e., such an idea is the epitome of “irrational characteristics of terrestrial intelligence.†As Christopher Hitchens recently wrote:

 

One must state it plainly. Religion comes from the period of human prehistory where nobody – not even the mighty Democritus who concluded that all matter was made from atoms – had the smallest idea what was going on. It comes from the bawling and fearful infancy of our species, and is a babyish attempt to meet our inescapable demand for knowledge (as well as for comfort, reassurance and other infantile needs). Today the least educated of my children knows much more about the natural order than any of the founders of religion…

 

Therefore, not only is Yahya silly to suggest that such a primitive god-idea deserves to be treated with equal seriousness as scientific assessments of how the universe began, in fact his idea can be (and should be) perfunctorily dismissed with Christopher Hitchens’ summary statement:

 

That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.

 

And actually, Yahya does similar (later in his essay) when he dismisses claims about the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Apparently, it’s only his own, evidentially void speculation that supposedly deserves reverence!

 

(Continued in next post.)

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COMMENTS ON THE REMAINDER OF YAHYA’S ESSAY

Above, I’ve been commenting only on the first notable paragraph in Yahya’s 77-paragraph essay! According to Microsoft Word, my above comments are contained in 61 paragraphs of my own, although I think it counts only “paragraph returnsâ€. In any case and for probably understandable reasons, I don’t plan to review Yahya’s other 76 paragraphs in similar detail. Instead, I’ll just list some of his erroneous statements and, when appropriate, provide specific references in my free, (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/"]online book[/url] where I’ve written more on the subject matter.

 

• Yahya’s paragraph addressing “lack of belief†is a red herring. The point is solely that theism is a learned behavior. As the clinical neuro-physchologist Rosemary Lyndall said ((you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/X02_EXcavating_Reasons.pdf"]similar[/url] to others):

 

Beliefs, including religious ones, are learned, which makes atheism a normal state of affairs and religious beliefs a learned ‘abnormality’. No psychological theory is necessary to explain the causes of a normal base state. Any psychological theory of learning, attitude change, or socialization can explain the causes of religious belief.

 

• Yahya’s statement

 

I personally cannot see what makes the idea of the universe having an entity who created it any more extraordinary than ideas like an entire universe spontaneously generating out of nowhere… a universe spawning itself (impossible, as nothing can create itself: something has to exist first before it can perform creation or any other action), or even a plethora of entire universes (or perhaps an infinitude) existing to explain how this universe could be the way it is without having been designed that way.

 

reveals his astounding incompetence in science. In my book’s final chapter, entitled (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/Z_The_Zen_of_Zero.pdf"]The Zen of Zero and the Dynamics of the Dao[/url], I review how our universe seems to have arisen (by itself) from a symmetry-breaking quantum-like fluctuation in an original total void.

 

• Yahya’s assessment of Ockham’s Razor is completely backwards: it’s not a “last resort†but the place to start! To see what I mean, interested readers might want to look at my chapter entitled (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/Ib1BasicScience.pdf"]Basic Science[/url]. In addition, Yahya’s comments in the same paragraph about imaginary numbers are totally bizarre: after many years of teaching two levels of complex variable analysis to graduate students, I can guarantee the reader that Yahya doesn’t know what he’s talking about! Interested readers might want to read some of my comments on the reality of “imaginary numbers†at the (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_you are not allowed to post links yetadvancedphysics(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/forum/showthread.php?t=6992"]Physics Forum[/url]. Their origin is the fact that negative numbers aren’t scalars (i.e., zeroth-order tensors) but, in reality, components of vectors (i.e., first-order tensors); consequently, analyses of complex variables are basically analyses of two-dimensional vector fields.

 

• Yahya's paragraph encouraging theists to

 

Leave scientific methods and “the scientific method†to the scientists; their only place in matters of the abstract and physically unprovable is either woeful misapplication or grievous pretentiousness, or even as a narrowing of the mind

 

is even more astoundingly bizarre! He proposes (or actually, he parrots) a primitive, childish, discredited, scientific model for the origin of the universe – and then advises theists not to pay any attention to scientific methods or scientists! Thus, Yahya is claiming to be a scientist, while simultaneously advising people not to listen to scientists! Readers interest in learning more about how real scientists behave might want to read my book’s chapters entitled (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/Ib1BasicScience.pdf"]Basic Science[/url] and (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/S_Science_and_Models.pdf"]Science, the Scientific Method & Scientific Models[/url].

 

• Yahya’s paragraph dealing with “We’re all atheists: I just happen to believe in one fewer god than you do†is another red herring, attempting to distract the reader from the fact that he’s an atheist with respect to literally thousands of gods, dismissing them all with the same cavalier attitude that he criticizes others for dismissing his one, cherished god. Thereby, Yahya tries but fails to conceal his blatant hypocrisy.

 

• At (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_you are not allowed to post links yetislamicboard(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/comparative-religion/134302108-quote-unquote-skepticism.html"]another Islamic forum[/url], I tried to correct Yahya’s similar and erroneous ideas about “freethinkers†and “skepticismâ€. His response to my attempt was:

 

If I had much doubt that your post, zoro, was anything other than an unnecessarily loquatious advertisement for your pamphlet, which you seem incapable of posting without linking to at least once per post, I might attempt a full, point-by-point shattering of all your straw man attacks. As it is, I don’t debate those pop-up ads that pretend to be rational discourse and I see no reason why this would be significantly different.

 

As a result, I learned that there’s no point in attempting to communicate with Yahya: similar to most religious fundamentalists, he’s convinced that he already knows “the Truthâ€.

 

• His objections to assessments that his “superstitious†god idea is “deadâ€, “obsoleteâ€, “primitiveâ€, etc. are understandable: given that such assessments are valid, they reveal his inability to think critically.

 

• With respect to his complaints about “the flying spaghetti monster†and so on, and more importantly, in response to his question, “if you don’t take our views seriously then why are you even bothering to discuss them at all?â€, the answer is obvious: theists have caused and continue to cause humanity very substantial harm; therefore, to help humanity, we seek to stop the harm.

 

• Yahya’s conclusion that “logical reasoning†should take priority over the scientific method demonstrates that he has made an enormous, fundamental error. I explain my meaning in detail in a chapter entitled (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/R_Reason_versus_Reality.pdf"]Reason vs. Reality[/url].

 

• Yahya’s attempt to conflate “faith†and “trust†is another huge error. (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/IgGainingConfidenceandTrust.pdf"]Elsewhere[/url], I describe the error in detail.

 

• His comments about “negative atheism†aren’t worth responding to.

 

With that, I end my response only to the first third of his essay, entitled “Preliminaries and Peevesâ€. The next section of his essay is a rambling monologue about “Why I left Atheismâ€. In response, I’ll make just a few comments:

 

• It’s a pity that Yahya didn’t finish reading Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil; if he had, he might have been able to overcome his fear of the absence of absolutes. Instead and ironically, he admits that his aborted reading led him to seek security in “the laws of natureâ€. The irony is that the only absolute that is guaranteed is that the laws of nature will lead to his obliteration!

 

• Amazingly, Yahya’s puts his “understanding†of science on display for the world to mock! For example, he obviously doesn’t see that the difference between a gravitational ‘spirit’ and a gravitational ‘force’ is in the latter’s ability to lead to testable predictions and therefore a better understanding of the nature of reality, which is the hallmark of science

 

• Yahya’s criticism of Bertrand Russell’s essay (form which Yahya formed the title of his essay) is ridiculous: he criticizes Russell for not recognizing that a supernatural deity (beyond space and time) would control supernatural forces, but Yahya fails to provide any evidence that anything “supernatural†exists.

 

Some people may argue that ideas are “supernaturalâ€, but even ideas as delusional as Yahya’s have natural causes and are the result of natural, electro-chemical processes. As for Yahya’s ideas about supernatural deities being subject (or not) to supernatural forces (similar to ideas about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin), Yahya would be well advised to heed the advice of Euripides (c.485–406 BCE), from his Alcestis, l. 799:

 

Oh mortal man, think mortal thoughts!

 

Stated differently, I wouldn’t be surprised if Russell would have responded to criticisms such as Yahya’s using Carnap’s words:

 

…your assertion is no assertion at all; it does not speak about anything; it is nothing but a series of empty words; it is simply without sense.

 

Thus, Yahya’s criticism of Russell’s essay could equally well have been written: “Xyx, yonchjeid cohajiidbge cpyaaijcy.â€

 

Further, similar to all “proofs†of the existence of God (e.g., which I review (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/IeEvaluatingProofsofGod.pdf"]elsewhere[/url]), Yahya’s “proof†necessarily assumes that God exists – and importantly, the reason for this necessity is that (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/R_Reason_versus_Reality.pdf"]deductive logic is incapable of producing new information[/url], whereas the existence of any god would be “new informationâ€. To obtain new information, new data (aka evidence) is required, which is the starting point of the scientific method and which Yahya explicitly rejects (in favor of his wishful, delusional “thinkingâ€).

 

• Yahya’s conclusion that natural laws have a “purpose†is naïve, unsupported by evidence, and laughable anthropomorphism. It reminds me of Douglas Adams’ (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_you are not allowed to post links yetbiota(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/people/douglasadams/"]mud puddle[/url]:

 

I mean this is a great world, it’s fantastic. But our early man has a moment to reflect and he thinks to himself, “well, this is an interesting world that I find myself in†and then he asks himself a very treacherous question, a question which is totally meaningless and fallacious, but only comes about because of the nature of the sort of person he is, the sort of person he has evolved into and the sort of person who has thrived because he thinks this particular way.

 

Man the maker looks at his world and says “So who made this then?†Who made this? – you can see why it’s a treacherous question. Early man thinks, “Well, because there’s only one sort of being I know about who makes things, whoever made all this must therefore be a much bigger, much more powerful and necessarily invisible, one of me and because I tend to be the strong one who does all the stuff, he’s probably male.†And so we have the idea of a god.

 

Then, because when we make things we do it with the intention of doing something with them, early man asks himself , “If he made it, what did he make it for?†Now the real trap springs, because early man is thinking, “This world fits me very well. Here are all these things that support me and feed me and look after me; yes, this world fits me nicely†and he reaches the inescapable conclusion that whoever made it, made it for him.

 

This is rather as if you imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, “This is an interesting world I find myself in – an interesting hole I find myself in – fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!â€

 

This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise.

 

I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for. We all know that at some point in the future the Universe will come to an end and at some other point, considerably in advance from that but still not immediately pressing, the sun will explode. We feel there’s plenty of time to worry about that, but on the other hand that’s a very dangerous thing to say. Look at what’s supposed to be going to happen on the 1st of January 2000 – let’s not pretend that we didn’t have a warning that the century was going to end! I think that we need to take a larger perspective on who we are and what we are doing here if we are going to survive in the long term.

 

Yahya’s final section is entitled “The Arguments for Atheismâ€. He attempts to debunk all the “arguments†that he lists, but of course, he fails. I’ll respond briefly with the following points, each with references to where I’ve written more:

 

1) there is no such thing as “(you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/J1SprntrlJabberwocky.pdf"]the supernatural[/url]â€,

 

2) the universe wasn’t (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/Z_The_Zen_of_Zero.pdf"]created[/url]; it (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/Awareness.pdf"]occurred[/url],

 

3) morality has (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/J2JusticeandMorality.pdf"]meaning[/url] only relative to some objective,

 

4) poor Yahya: while he’s locked himself into Aristotelian logic, the world of science passed him by, centuries ago (e.g., see (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/Ib2BasicLogic.pdf"]here[/url], (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/IhHypothesesandProbabilities.pdf"]here[/url], (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/R_Reason_versus_Reality.pdf"]here[/url], (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/S_Science_and_Models.pdf"]here[/url], and (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/Z_The_Zen_of_Zero.pdf"]here[/url]), and

 

5) thereby, poor Yahya wastes his time focusing on “arguments†for and against theism and atheism, failing to realize that it’s not arguments that are important but evidence.

 

Therefore, radians, Teckni, and Redeem, perhaps you see why I wrote that I’d not only give Yahya a failing grade if he submitted his essay to one of my university classes, but I’d do what I could do bar him from my class until he completed prerequisite courses in fundamentals of probability theory, basic science, and critical thinking. And I’ll add that, if you follow him (as your praise of his essay suggest that you would) rather than apply your own best critical-thinking skills, then there’s a fairly high probability that you’ll become similar “religious fundamentalistsâ€, possibly ending up by joining the Wahhabis, Iran’s Sepāh, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, or similar, hindering humanity even more.

---

I’ll add, further, that the saddest feature is that, beneath Yahya’s bombast, there appears to be an intelligent mind. Most unfortunately, though, he’s chosen to align himself with the mystics of the world, “believing†in a fictitious “supernaturalâ€. As a result, not only will he be of no use to helping humanity, he’ll continue to drag people backward to savagery: people will continue to starve in Africa, but he’ll do nothing about it, convinced that it’s his god’s will; Muslim females will continue to be deprived of their human rights, but he’ll do nothing to rectify it, convinced that it’s his god’s plan; terrible plagues will continue to cause misery throughout the world, but he’ll do nothing about it, convinced that it’s all part of his god’s great plan; asteroids will continue to threaten life on Earth, but he’ll do nothing about it, convinced that it’s his god’s desire; the Sun will destroy the Earth, but he’ll do nothing to try to save humanity, convinced that it’s his god’s grand plan; and so on. He’s therefore a sad loss to humanity.

 

And I’ll close with a personal note and plea. When one of my sons was 20, he fell into a logic trap, similar to the trap that Yahya is now in. When my son was 40, he managed to climb out of his logic trap. Now, 10 years later, he looks back at the best 20 years of his life, wasted on serving clerical parasites (who over the centuries have found ways to leech off the producers of the world). I hope that the three of you won’t let similar happen to you: question everything, use your brain as best you can, and be brave enough to accept reality as it is.

 

As for Yahya, let him be: my experience with my son taught me that it’s useless to try to redirect people who have the arrogant ignorance to assume they possess “the Truthâ€, even though they don’t know what “truth†means. Further, they don’t realize that, by claiming they possess “the Truthâ€, they’re thereby admitting that they’ve chosen to attempt to replace reality with their delusions. But it won’t work: reality has a way of asserting itself – and the result of living in delusions is a wasted life.

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All of this, to my feeble mind is absolutely stupendous!. A stupendous waste of intellectual ability, not without merit but ultimately pretty much a waste of time: from the 'it supports Islam and is complicated and therefore it must be very good' point of view, to the atheists perspective that basically it is a subjective and (at best) a piece of biased doggeral.

 

The last thing I heard from scientists is that, presently it is postulated that there are, in fact, eleven different 'realities'!

In other words: nobody really knows anything about the nature of reality as a whole at present!

It could involve something we could call a God or it could not. Nobody knows. Design or the appearance of design. we don't know. IS-NESS we don't understand. That is WE don't know. We may believe in one thing or another or we may believe in nothing (I think this is called nihilism in philosophical terms).

 

What I want to know is: Why can't we accept that WE don't really know very much at all. Isn't this true humility, to put a subjective slant on it?

 

What we call could is not necessarily so, because we simply don't KNOW!

 

ron

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Ron Shirt Anon, (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_you are not allowed to post links yetpossibilian(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/"]possibilianism[/url] is certainly a viable philosophy, but it shouldn't (and doesn't) preclude applying the scientific method to attempt to determine the possibility that most accurately reflects reality.

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Therefore, radians, Teckni, and Redeem, perhaps you see why I wrote that I’d not only give Yahya a failing grade if he submitted his essay to one of my university classes, but I’d do what I could do bar him from my class until he completed prerequisite courses in fundamentals of probability theory, basic science, and critical thinking.

 

Thanks for taking the time to respond. And judging by your words, it shows you know your stuff. But I think the last part of this quote above ("fundamentals of probability theory, basic science, and critical thinking) is pretty much why I can't agree with you. Because you have created these prerequisites and anyone who does not follow these complicated rules is deficient in thinking. At least, that's what it sounds like to me.

 

For example, the "burden of evidence" thing. Who says that the burden of evidence/proof/whatever-they-call-it-these-days is on the believer? Where is this rule written?

And then there's the fact that you're saying the scientific method should be taken as an approach to determining the existence of a higher being. Again...why?

And who is this audacious man who claims that asserting that God exists is no assertion? What book of laws are we playing by here?

And what in the world gives anyone the right to call people Muslim atheists or Christian atheists? Our identity is determined by the religion we follow, not the religion we reject.

 

I could keep going but I really hate arguing about theories and opinions. The reason I praised Yahya Sulaiman is because he delved deeply into your world but he came out of it with his faith intact. Intellect is useless if it pits one against his Creator. (You speak like a philosopher, so allow me to speak like a Muslim)

 

Salam.

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Ron Shirt Anon, (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_you are not allowed to post links yetpossibilian(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/"]possibilianism[/url] is certainly a viable philosophy, but it shouldn't (and doesn't) preclude applying the scientific method to attempt to determine the possibility that most accurately reflects reality.

 

 

I agree, absolutely.

 

ron

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hey ron shirt anon

i see you are no longer disbarred

good to see you

myself was banned as write white so now am white write

i agree with the scientific method too

rather my belief is much stronger than most

i believe that in the days of the prophet muhammad, people had recourse to his knowledge and his direct communication with Allah, and since humanity's morality evolved to it's ultimate height through his(alaih assalaat vassalaam)way of living,thinking,nehaving,speaking---

no more prophets are needed, yet

a need for evidence remains because the instructions to the prophet by Allah in Allah's speech the quran are"and invite the people to the truth with wisdom and evidence"

so my faith is that

science is what makes up for the absence of the prophet in person.

Science proves and goes on proving the quran and muhammad's life style correct.

That is why i even dare to think that most people of this era will endup in heaven(except arabs, i will personally resist that due to personal reasons/humor/but not untrue) because each personn is contributing,willingly or unwillingly to the unfolding of the esoterics of the quranic science.

I hope this doesnt become a long discussion really

dont have the stomach for it

am so consumed with rage and disgust that phiosophising is agonizing.

I did not tell you that i am using intravenous heroine to keep me company

i dont have a family

only patients live with me but these days there are none

and i dont like going out

no tv and no newspapers

i have this tug of war with Allah

he shredded my heart so terribly using my own honesty and sincerity as the tools that i swear if he was here in human form i would probably be rude(no i wouldnt, i would definitely be grateful and honored)

but i have to see the end of this tug of war

if i fail at getting an apology from the person Allah used to rape my hearts core with, then i will agree that honesty was not the best policy and crooks and sneaks are wiser.

But i am hoping that this final war of mine against the evil of deception and greed and fear of others than Allah will be won in my favour.

Kindly pray that i get the due apology that the muslim who cheated me ,owes me.

Till then i am not giving up heroine, it is my way of demanding extra attention from Allah

and since my honesty and my absolute lack of greed for materials deprived me of eveyrhting, i feel i am allowed heroine.

Anyway lets not prolong this discussion

good to see you back

generous of redeem

salaam

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Write white right, whatever!

 

I thought your website was dedicated to an anti drugs message.

I don't really understand what this personal war is that you are fighting.

Arabs are surely many and very varied people. In my experience they are very kind and hospitable. Perhaps you have never forgiven them for what you saw and experienced as cruelty, but once trust is destroyed a lot of things are destroyed with it.

 

I don't know.

 

You seem to be asking me personally something and I don't really know what it is.

 

Ron

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no i wasnt asking anything

and yes you are right about arabs being kind in interaction

but that is as long as things go their way, the real person emerges when things are not going the way one wishesmthem to go.

And that is what all creation is about

nobody knows what next

so failing to adhere to principles when in deep waters is what the whole idea of creation is about

that is where arabs (not all) will stab your back the deepest

i was just welcoming you

and i agree with the scientific proof views

what zoro is failing to realise is that the pacemaker in his heart

the beat that spreads through his heart muscle and pumps life into zoro is God/Allah's command

whatever zoro or anyone does is being forced upon them by the King Allah

and whatever one's heart desires in reality is how the King Uses HIs slaves

a negatively inclined subject is used for negatives, like scorpions or snakes

and a positive intending subject is used positively like a bee that stings like a snake but to protect the good of honey

so the argument is really meaningless because we like it or not we are slaves

reminds me of "u have to serve somebody"

wasnt asking for any answers

by Allah's Grace i have all the answers

what i am going through is what probably happens after getting all the answers

The Almighty Shows you that there is no entity except Allah

even my faith in Allah is not mine, it is generated in my mind and heart by the King Allah

there is an urdu poetic verse that states:

bazeecha-e-atfaal hai dunya meray aagay

hota hai tmaasha shbo roz meray aagay

its a kindergarten exposed to my vision

and i witness it's drama day& night

you know

i sincerely wish you gave that heart of your's absolute power over your decisions

youve lived with it for so long

dont you trust it even after so long?

Because in there, when you turn inwards,

the mate you meet there is Allah only

and you know it is only Allah

then why not trust your heart after having tested it for so many years

salaam

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no i wasnt asking anything

and yes you are right about arabs being kind in interaction

but that is as long as things go their way, the real person emerges when things are not going the way one wishesmthem to go.

And that is what all creation is about

nobody knows what next

so failing to adhere to principles when in deep waters is what the whole idea of creation is about

that is where arabs (not all) will stab your back the deepest

i was just welcoming you

and i agree with the scientific proof views

what zoro is failing to realise is that the pacemaker in his heart

the beat that spreads through his heart muscle and pumps life into zoro is God/Allah's command

whatever zoro or anyone does is being forced upon them by the King Allah

and whatever one's heart desires in reality is how the King Uses HIs slaves

a negatively inclined subject is used for negatives, like scorpions or snakes

and a positive intending subject is used positively like a bee that stings like a snake but to protect the good of honey

so the argument is really meaningless because we like it or not we are slaves

reminds me of "u have to serve somebody"

wasnt asking for any answers

by Allah's Grace i have all the answers

what i am going through is what probably happens after getting all the answers

The Almighty Shows you that there is no entity except Allah

even my faith in Allah is not mine, it is generated in my mind and heart by the King Allah

there is an urdu poetic verse that states:

bazeecha-e-atfaal hai dunya meray aagay

hota hai tmaasha shbo roz meray aagay

its a kindergarten exposed to my vision

and i witness it's drama day& night

you know

i sincerely wish you gave that heart of your's absolute power over your decisions

youve lived with it for so long

dont you trust it even after so long?

Because in there, when you turn inwards,

the mate you meet there is Allah only

and you know it is only Allah

then why not trust your heart after having tested it for so many years

salaam

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Thanks for taking the time to respond. And judging by your words, it shows you know your stuff. But I think the last part of this quote above ("fundamentals of probability theory, basic science, and critical thinking) is pretty much why I can't agree with you. Because you have created these prerequisites and anyone who does not follow these complicated rules is deficient in thinking. At least, that's what it sounds like to me.

 

For example, the "burden of evidence" thing. Who says that the burden of evidence/proof/whatever-they-call-it-these-days is on the believer? Where is this rule written?

And then there's the fact that you're saying the scientific method should be taken as an approach to determining the existence of a higher being. Again...why?

And who is this audacious man who claims that asserting that God exists is no assertion? What book of laws are we playing by here?

And what in the world gives anyone the right to call people Muslim atheists or Christian atheists? Our identity is determined by the religion we follow, not the religion we reject.

 

I could keep going but I really hate arguing about theories and opinions. The reason I praised Yahya Sulaiman is because he delved deeply into your world but he came out of it with his faith intact. Intellect is useless if it pits one against his Creator. (You speak like a philosopher, so allow me to speak like a Muslim)

 

Salam.

 

Redeem: Below, I'll simply list some short responses to the points you raised.

 

1. There are few people who are "deficient in thinking", but there are obviously many people whose thoughts about reality are deficient.

 

2. It's written in our DNA to hold beliefs only as strongly as is justified by relevant evidence; most hosts who did not have such encoding in their DNA are now extinct; I'm sure that, on a geological timescale, current exceptions are just a temporary anomaly.

 

3. As I detail (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/Ib1BasicScience.pdf"]elsewhere[/url], the scientific method was developed by animals to determine, for example, what exists.

 

4. The "book of laws" that we are "playing" with, which states that asserting that God exists is a meaningless statement, is called "the Book of Life"; see the chapter entitled "Experience".

 

5. All good Muslims are atheists (or "unbelievers") with respect to all other religions.

 

6. Humanity is doomed if "our identity is determined by the religion we follow."

 

7. Yahya did not "[delve] deeply into your world". His "delving" was so superficial that he apparently learned nothing about science, probability, or critical thinking. He merely flew by "[our] world" in his faith-impelled rocket, took a few flimsy, ineffectual shots from afar, and zoomed away again, delusions intact.

 

8. You'd be well advised to reconsider either your statement or your beliefs. You stated: "Intellect is useless if it pits one against his creator." (you are not allowed to post links yet)"you can't post links until you reach 50 posts_zenofzero(contact admin if its a beneficial link)/docs/Z_The_Zen_of_Zero.pdf"]Evidence[/url] strongly suggests that you were created and then evolved as a result of a symmetry-breaking quantum-like fluctuation in an original, total vacuum that occurred more than 13 billion years ago. Consequently, you are obviously using your intellect to pit yourself against your creator.

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no i wasnt asking anything

and yes you are right about arabs being kind in interaction

but that is as long as things go their way, the real person emerges when things are not going the way one wishesmthem to go.

And that is what all creation is about

nobody knows what next

so failing to adhere to principles when in deep waters is what the whole idea of creation is about

that is where arabs (not all) will stab your back the deepest

i was just welcoming you

and i agree with the scientific proof views

what zoro is failing to realise is that the pacemaker in his heart

the beat that spreads through his heart muscle and pumps life into zoro is God/Allah's command

whatever zoro or anyone does is being forced upon them by the King Allah

and whatever one's heart desires in reality is how the King Uses HIs slaves

a negatively inclined subject is used for negatives, like scorpions or snakes

and a positive intending subject is used positively like a bee that stings like a snake but to protect the good of honey

so the argument is really meaningless because we like it or not we are slaves

reminds me of "u have to serve somebody"

wasnt asking for any answers

by Allah's Grace i have all the answers

what i am going through is what probably happens after getting all the answers

The Almighty Shows you that there is no entity except Allah

even my faith in Allah is not mine, it is generated in my mind and heart by the King Allah

there is an urdu poetic verse that states:

bazeecha-e-atfaal hai dunya meray aagay

hota hai tmaasha shbo roz meray aagay

its a kindergarten exposed to my vision

and i witness it's drama day& night

you know

i sincerely wish you gave that heart of your's absolute power over your decisions

youve lived with it for so long

dont you trust it even after so long?

Because in there, when you turn inwards,

the mate you meet there is Allah only

and you know it is only Allah

then why not trust your heart after having tested it for so many years

salaam

 

 

Such a good post and intended for me, I think! Such energy and concentration!

 

You draw an an analogy between man and animals, vipers etc. yes that is seen. But that is their ignorance I think. Perhaps the 'bad' side of Islam. Or is it something inherent in all men?

The only faith is that a power above is the intelligent (i.e. sensible) and guiding principle behind everything that we see.

 

You are right: 'I have lived with it for so long'. But still I don't know very much. It is what I am that seems important. Not to mention enjoyment, of course, enjoyment and enhancement of the power of goodness.

Life should be full of many enhancing and fullfilling things, should it not?

 

Best,

 

Ron

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zoro

bro i realise your zeal at teaching life the way you read it and experienced it

commnedable

redeem is talking about the one who designed our DNA

and you are a product of that DNA exhibiting the twists your specific helix of DNA was turned and re turned through

i hope i am understandable

its like a mother telling her child he is a xhild

but the child insisting that he is an adult who knows all by saying thatmhe knows nothing

admitting that and yet advocating your views so ferciously

what drug are you on?

I am on heroine

you are probably on osychodelica(lsd+cocaine)

could you mail me some if i asked for it?

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It's not a drug, folks, it's a cult. Or something of a cult leader mentality, anyway. I ran into this strange fellow at Islamicboard, then again elsewhere, where after I gave my take on what happened at Islamicboard he seemed to try to coax me into propagating his little pamphlet. He's not interested in discourse, only in being more evangelistic with his own brand of atheism (or so he thinks: what I've seen is little different from any of the rest) than most people of any religion I've seen have ever been. He's not here to rebut--you'll notice he did more "correcting" with his bald assertions than actually offering arguments as I did--but only to recruit. At least when I do dawah I admit it. What I wonder is why he tends to hang around Islamic boards in particular so much.

 

I will not feed his ego by giving him another full rebuttal, but one particular point needs to be clarified: his derision of my valuing reason itself over science is not merely telling as to his own dogmatism, it is entirely self-refuting, as reason has ever been the basis of science, the methods by which its own methods were composed and by which they are still defended, and the means of assessing what your experiments have done or even what the experiments should be the first place and how they work. Science did not just spontaneously generate, nor did its mostly mythical universal "scientific method" which so many atheists treat as their own set of commandments even though most scientists worldwide know what an oversimplication and common misconception the "scientific method", for the most part, is and has always been. It came entirely from reason, it *still* comes entirely from reason, it is assessed and progressed by reason, and one would need to use reason to decide on why it should or shouldn't be the ultimate standard above even reason itself in the first place. Therefore, o say that we must value science over rationality is like saying that we should value musical theory over music itself, or scholarly papers over our understanding of the language in which they're written and reviewed. Good DAY, you LOSE, sir.

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1. There are few people who are "deficient in thinking", but there are obviously many people whose thoughts about reality are deficient.

 

Maybe you're among those people whose thoughts about reality are deficient. Have you considered this?

 

5. All good Muslims are atheists (or "unbelievers") with respect to all other religions.

 

Would you agree if I said you're immoral and rebellious against God with respect to Islam? Meaning, does that define you as well? Just curious.

 

8. You'd be well advised to reconsider either your statement or your beliefs. You stated: "Intellect is useless if it pits one against his creator." Evidence strongly suggests that you were created and then evolved as a result of a symmetry-breaking quantum-like fluctuation in an original, total vacuum that occurred more than 13 billion years ago. Consequently, you are obviously using your intellect to pit yourself against your creator..

 

This is a Book full of Blessings that we have revealed unto you so people ponder upon its verses and men of intellect may reflect. [38:29]

 

I have reflected on the Qur'an and I still do. My intellect is not pitted against my Creator. It is subservient to Him.

 

Since you're on an Islamic Forum, I really would suggest you take advantage of the knowledge available to you here. You have nothing to lose.

 

Salam.

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zoro

i am also a psychiatrist who "LIVES" with his patients

i admit them in my house (since i have been 'single' for 16 years now) which is the second and third floors of a hospital.

so what i mean to say is that, because i have an experience of 11 years at reading my patients'daily ,self-written 'significant emotional events' sheets,

i can accurately read between your lines too

your silence has CONFIRMED my suspicion, and corrected my guess of your drug of choice to be 'amphetamine'and you are probably abusing some'attention defficit syndrome' patient's easy access to/for your drug of choice.

If you wish me to go on with your case history's speculation, i suspect it's your own child and "autism" (the god-to-serve for athiests/autistic offsprings) may have laready emerged in your progeny

all WARNINGS to you to stop playing 'know all' by saying ' we all including yourself, know nothing''

i am sure, absolutely sure that your spouse and siblings have already washed off their hands of you and your prophecies

the "quantum like fluctuations exploding" in your brain's medial frontal lobe /reward and motivitation centre and the audio-visually coordinated hallucinations that your 'drug manipulated' neurotransmitters convey to your cognition are the "TRICKS" that the Puppeteer/Subhanohu Allah's Will Designed for such cognitive 'aerobics' to eventuate consequent to such attitude as your's

and that you 'think' you are doing what you are, is the biggest trick The Creator's Laws maneuvre when subjects like yourself tend what you tend...

GGET BACK IN LINEº

and bow down to your Creator before it's too late.

Ramadan will wash away the drug problem insha Allah

come back into the fold of Islam for your own sake

salaama

Edited by writewhite

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