Nature’s Law

Question from Jason:
I am an atheist. I have a question and I want your help to figure it out.

Why is Nature’s Law unchangeable?

Answer by SmartLX:
The question could mean one of a few different things, but in any case we don’t know.

If you mean that the laws of physics and the fundamental constants of the universe can’t be changed, this is hardly surprising. We observe the same physical forces having the same kinds of effects wherever we look in the universe, so they really do appear to be universal and fundamental. We’ve got no way to even try to change any of them even if we wanted to, and we wouldn’t want to because it would probably kill us all in very interesting ways.

If you mean the idea handed down from Aristotle that human nature, and morality in particular, is essentially unchangeable and comes from within all of us, this is only partly right but the part that’s right is easily explained. We all share certain hereditary instincts, and most of us have been brought up in cultures and communities which are very similar in certain respects, so it’s very likely that we’ll develop some shared sense of ethics. In some cases, however, we differ wildly in a way no common bestower of morals would have intended. See the wide range of opinions on abortion, euthanasia and welfare for example.

If you mean that the song Nature’s Law by English band Embrace is unchangeable, get over it. They’ve recorded it already and they’re unlikely to rework it anytime soon.

Pick A God, Any God

Question from Fawaz:
What is the true religion on earth? Christianity,Islam,Hinduism,At…
Do you Know Hindus believe that vedas(Hindi scriptures) is from God,Muslims beleves that Quran is from God and Christian Believes that Bible is from God,Which one is correct and if I say all are correct then.All the three have Scientific facts and we know that Atheists believes in science so so which one to choose.

Hindu vedas(1700–1100 BCE)
Scientific facts
1.Shape of Earth is like an Oblate Spheroid. (Rig VedaXXX. IV.V)
2.Earth is flattened at the poles.
3.Blue Sky is Nothing but scattered sunlight (Markandeya Purana 78.8)
Many more facts

Islam Quran(1400 years ago)
Scientific facts
1.”Do not the unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together, then we
clove them asunder and We got every living thing out of the water? Will they not then
believe?” (21:30)(Big theory says first stage was singularity)
2.”The heaven, we have built it with power. Verily, we are expanding it(Expanding Unvierse)
3.We have placed in the ground (mountains) standing firm, so that it does not shake with
them.”(This says earth has sedimentary mountains which prevents earthquakes it is scientifically proven)
Many more facts

Christianity Bible( 2000 years ago)
Scientific facts
1.He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing.
2.The Earth is not motionless(Psalms 104:5 )
3.The earth is round
There are many more facts you can read it from here
we all know that this scientific facts to be know at that time would be impossible and it can only be said by someone who is our creator or who has the knowledge of all things that is GOD.
As all the divine books contains scientific facts it means that which one to choose.
Do you what is the common thing in all the religion.It is God.But some has many and some has one.
As hinduism is the oldest religion it has most chance that the vedas and other hindu scriptures are changed.
Christianity is mid age religion but it has been changed according to the time.
Islam is among one of the recent religion ,so chance of changes are less.

In Hindu religion there is avatar named kalki
Things mentioned about kalki in hindu scriptures
1.Kalki will be born on 12 day of a month
2.In Purana (a holy book of Hindus) it is stated that Kalki Avatar would be the last messenger (prophet) of God in this world for the Guidance of the whole world and all human beings.
3. In books of Hindus, the names of the father and the mother of Kalki Avatar are given as VISHNUBHAGAT and SUMAANI respectively.
4.God would teach Kalki Avatar through His messenger (angel) in a cave.
There are many more points you can search it.
now if we compare it with a prophet know as Muhammad in Islam.
1.Prophet muhammad born on the 12 day of a month of lunar calendar.
2.prophet muhammad is ther last messenger according to Islam.
3.Name of prophet muhammads father is Abdullah and his mother name is ameena.
Take VISHNUBHAGAT= VISHNU (meaning God) + BHAGAT( meaning slave) = ALLAH + ABD (in Arabic) = Slave of God = ABDULLAH (in arabic) (name of Mohammed’s Father)
SUMAANI= PEACE or Calmness = Aamenah (in Arabic).
4.God taught Prophet Muhammad (SAW), through His messenger Jibraeel (Gabrael) in a cave known as Gaar-e-Hiraa.
There are many more points that i am not writing you can read it from here.

So we know that bible has been changed according to time.What if we get the pure bible which was revealed 2000 years ago but that is impossible but what if we go to the oldest bible.
Lets see what the oldest bible says.
worlds oldest bible(Codex Sinaiticus) says that jesus predict the coming of the prophet muhammad and In line with Islamic belief, the Gospel treats Jesus as a human being and not a God
There is more infomation you can collect it from this site

prophet muhammad is the last prophet for whole mankind.
accordint to Islam there is only one God and the God in the holy Quran says that he has sent messengers(Prophets) to all the groups in the world and send the message that there is only one god and also send a message that if a messenger comes in the future they should accept him and follow him .
With this we can say that God has send many messengers and many books but after the messengers died,the people changed the religion according to them.
It is hard for a person that if he is follow something from years and someone had showed him evidence that it is wrong he/she won’t be able to believe that.
Please choose the correct religion ,dont be something by chance ,be something by choice.
So which one do you choose

GOD’s Servent

Answer by SmartLX:
We have a set of claims of divine foreknowledge of both science and historical events…from a set of mutually exclusive religions? They can’t all be right, they can’t all speak for the same god or gods, and yet they all seem to have this amazing predictive power.

So what’s going on here? The simplest explanation is that these predictions are coming from a source other than a god. My reference piece on prophecies always comes in handy in situations like this; most of them are likely candidates for #4. Shoehorned, or in other words the passage’s intended meaning has nothing to do with the thing it’s now claimed to predict. If you really see merit in a particular item among the above (anybody, not just Fawaz) single it out and I’ll address it in detail. Chances are that someone already has, though, especially the Biblical stuff. Try a search yourself.

In the absence of any substantial evidence for any one of these religions, I’m not about to pick one. If any of the others is right, I’ll be punished, possibly more for worshipping a rival, false god than for simply withholding my judgement.

Darwin and the Great Eugenics Cover-up…?

Question from Yarov:
Darwinian Evolution, Darwin and the scientific community played a big role in eugenics.

Eugenics played a big role in America mainly because of the idea of natural selection and Darwinian evolution.

It was mainly conservative Christian groups who opposed eugenics.
These groups were mainly the one who ended eugenics.

Eugenics represented mainstream science, and many colleges like Harvard, Standford, Princeton, Columbia were affiliated with eugenics.

This part of America’s history is hidden from America’s society and scientific community.

– Why is this history hidden?

– How does an atheist respond to this if this is a big part of Darwinian evolution?

– If we go back to Darwin’s books we can see some morbid views on how the sick should be treated. Why did he have these views?

Answer by SmartLX:
Eugenics as practiced in the United States in the early 20th century was pioneered (and in fact the word “eugenics” was invented) by the Englishman Sir Francis Galton, Charles Darwin’s cousin, after he read Darwin’s book The Origin of Species. However, Galton’s jumping-off point was not Darwin’s actual theory of natural selection but rather the very first chapter on “variation under domestication”. The chapter contains descriptions of plant breeding and animal husbandry, in other words artificial selection, going right back to ancient Egypt. Galton’s idea was to use the same approach, which pre-dated Darwin by thousands of years, to breed better humans. He might have gotten the same idea from visiting any farm in Britain, but it happened to come to him after reading his cousin’s writings on the subject.

If it’s true that conservative Christian groups were at the forefront of the anti-eugenics movement, it’s hardly surprising.
– Firstly, once the Nazis started to practice eugenics it became widely unpopular anyway, and American Christian groups would have seen which way the wind was blowing – and it would have helped the image of Christianity as a whole to have an anti-eugenics faction, since the Nazis were ostensibly Catholic.
– Secondly, conservative Christian groups tend to oppose any area of scientific research which challenges the idea that only God can determine who we are and what we will become. At the moment, this opposition is aimed squarely at stem-cell research and genetic engineering.

Regardless, the history of eugenics is not hidden from the American public or any scientists. It’s all on Wikipedia, Galton’s work is freely available in the public domain and the major eugenics experiments which took place are very well documented in the peer-reviewed literature of the time. It’s no secret to anybody. You learned about it without much difficulty, I take it.

You may mean instead that the history of eugenics is not normally a part of educational material on Darwinian evolution. This is for two reasons.
1. Knowing the history of Darwin himself, let alone his cousin or other scientists who later claimed his work supported them, is not necessary for people to understand the theory of evolution by natural selection. It’s superfluous to the teaching of what is now established as scientific fact.
2. Eugenics grew out of the idea of artificial selection, not natural selection. It is fundamentally a craft to be practiced, not an explanation of existing organic structures and features. It is far removed from Darwin’s theory and not at all useful as teaching material, unless all you want to teach is that Darwin begat evil.

Finally, I think this is what you mean about Darwin’s views on treating the sick. It’s from Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed:

“With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. Hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.”

Sounds pro-eugenics, right? That’s because it’s maliciously misquoted, quietly leaving out parts which completely change the meaning of the passage. Here it is in full, along with the following paragraph:

“With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly anyone is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, even at the urging of hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself whilst performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with an overwhelming present evil. Hence we must bear without complaining the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely the weaker and inferior members of society not marrying so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased, though this is more to be hoped for than expected, by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage.

To summarise, Darwin discouraged restrictions on human breeding as contrary to human nature, except possibly when the whole human race is in dire peril from some “overwhelming present evil” which he did not define. The above, Yarov, shows how badly you have to mangle his words to make him sound like the monster which creationists, and Intelligent Design proponents (i.e. other creationists), make him out to be.

Becoming Human…Not

Question from Erica:
If evolution exists wouldn’t it still be going on today? Wouldn’t every animal species be evolving into humans since we are at the top of the food chain?

Answer by SmartLX:
Even if they were all doing that, it would be so gradual that you probably wouldn’t notice. You might be able to look at ancient paintings of animals and remark that today’s animals looked a teensy-weensy bit more humanoid, but you wouldn’t see any significant changes in the space of your own lifetime.

Evolution has no objective. It doesn’t try to push everything to the top of the food chain, or make every animal more intelligent. Evolution itself has no intelligence, because it is not an entity with any sort of will; it’s an emergent process resulting from the non-random selection of random mutations. In lieu of objectives it does have effects, such as increases in biological complexity (in nearly all cases) and improved survival and procreation mechanisms in persistent populations.

For humans and their immediate ancestors, becoming more able to survive did mean standing upright, growing smarter and using tools. For cheetahs, it meant growing faster, and therefore it meant the same thing for antelopes and gazelles. (Of the five fastest land animals in the world, two hunt the other three.) For some dogs and cats it meant becoming more “personable”, facilitating beneficial relationships with humans (though once that happened, humans began applying artificial selection to both animals). For a tree, it may simply mean growing taller, or poisoning the animals that try to eat its leaves.

Some species have pretty much given up on surviving reliably as individuals and put all their biological resources into procreation instead. Insects and rabbits breed like wildfire, so that even if most of them are killed some will remain. Grass grows back even if nearly all of it is eaten, poisoned or pulled up. And of course, some species have developed great methods of both surviving and procreating.

You’ll have heard the expression “survival of the fittest”. It means that those life forms that are best adapted to (or “fit for”) their surroundings will likely survive and pass on their genes to the most offspring. That suitability for staying alive long enough to reproduce is ultimately the only metric that matters in evolution. The advantages of being human are only one way of many to achieve that condition, so there’s no pressure on animals that get along perfectly well being different from us to become more like us.

Evolution is indeed going on today, slowly but surely. Just not like that.


Question from Lukas:
Here goes. Some time before my friend told me about Dr William Bengston. I as an agnostic of course didn’t believe in the story of this person that he cured cancer in mice but I could not give him any reasonable answer to his experiment and even could not find any skeptic information on this guy on the Internet. Therefore I am asking here if you could help me. Dr. William Bengston claims he can cure people from cancer with his energy healing. The complete info is here:

Thanks for your time reading this and if you could answer it – mostly the pdf. research that my friend send me I would be glad. Thanks very much.

Answer by SmartLX:
This is of course an atheist website, and I dabble in skepticism of the supernatural mainly because claims of the supernatural are often used to support claims of the divine. I’ll address this particular topic because it looks interesting, but supporting theism does not appear to be Bengston’s intention. In fact, he claims that even people who don’t think his healing-hands cure will work can perform it successfully, which contradicts most religions’ claims about the exclusive power of belief.

Anyway, you’re right, there’s hardly anything on Dr Bengston online by skeptics. I see two main causes for this.
1. He hasn’t been targeted as a charlatan as he does not appear to be aggressively pursuing monetary gain – until recently, with the release of his new book and audiobook, so he may soon attract that sort of attention.
2. When Dr Bengston addresses a group of skeptics, he says in the linked interview, he starts by telling them that he’s the only real skeptic in the room, and everyone else is a believer – who believes from the outset that he’s wrong or lying. Telling people right away that they can’t be persuaded is a terrible way to actually persuade them of something, or engage them at all, because it shifts the focus from the evidence to the people and puts them on the defensive. I can think of only two possible reasons why Bengston does this: either he wants a hostile, dismissive response so he can continue to claim prejudice, or he’s genuinely, obliviously bad with people and he seriously needs to let someone else present his findings.

His paper from the first link was published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration which is derided, along with the similarly-titled society that makes it, as a haven for fringe science. Apparently the experiment on breast cancer in mice has been repeatedly successful in saving the lives of the mice, and there’s nothing which obviously contradicts that. There is however something crucial which is missing from the paper: the method, the actual energy-healing technique.

The “Methods and Data” section has plenty about the mice, the cancer and the human participants, but nothing at all about how they went about healing the mice. It’s implied that the core technique is not the placement of (or clothing on) the hands but rather the mental activity of the practitioner, but there isn’t a single hint about what’s involved in that critical aspect. This means that the experiment cannot be repeated without consent and instruction from, and probably the participation of, Bengston himself or his associates. By withholding the details of the very thing which is tested in the experiments, Dr Bengston has retained absolute control of all relevant experimentation and research. If anyone tries without him, he can say they’re doing it wrong and declare the results invalid. This is not conducive to the advancement of science, and the fact that the experiment can’t be done without Bengston does not speak well for its merits.

As I said, he’s got a book out, and reviews of the book on Amazon contain plenty of anecdotes of people healing other people with its help. Any one of these, if genuine, and demonstrably not caused by other factors, could make headlines as a medical “miracle” or win James Randi’s million dollar prize if repeated under experimental conditions. Neither is happening thus far, to my knowledge. Despite all the claims and stories, Dr Bengston’s method is apparently not having an effect on the world at large, and that to me is very important. Something as amazing as a drug-free, doctor-free cancer cure should have a huge impact on the medical community, if only in the form of a huge pushback by the money-makers as Bengston claims, but as we’ve both found, there isn’t even a visible effort by any party to discredit Bengston. He’s a medical non-entity, and will probably remain so until we get more results than the endless parade of tightly controlled but apparently very fortunate mice.

The Koran: For or Against Science?

Question from Sabri:
I just need specific Aias from the Koran against science and knowledge? Please, and if possible in Arabic, if not its ok. Thank you.

Answer by SmartLX:
I couldn’t pin down the word “Aias”, but I assume you’re looking for the Koranic equivalent of Biblical “verses” which speak against science.

I think you’re out of luck, because the Koran says very little about science and knowledge – and where Mohammed and friends are quoted on the subject (whether in the Koran or the hadith, I haven’t confirmed) they seem quite in favour of the pursuit of knowledge:
“A person who follows a path for acquiring knowledge, Allah will make easy the passage to Paradise for him.”
“A Muslim will not tire of knowledge until he reaches Heaven.”
“The ink of a scholar is more holy than the blood of a martyr.”

Many Muslims go further than that. They proudly declare Islam’s supposed scientific superiority, and furthermore claim that the truth of Islam is vindicated, by pointing to parts of the Koran which they say accurately describe scientific phenomena only recently discovered by modern science. The YouTube channel TheIslamMiracle does a very good job of debunking this idea by tackling each claim individually.

Anyway, there are two main sources of Muslim opposition or indifference to science, both of which certainly have their equivalents in other religions.
1. Some branches of science regularly contradict the factual claims of the Koran. An obvious example is evolution, because the Koran roughly recounts the six-day creation story of Genesis. This, many Muslims decide, cannot be allowed to stand.
2. A Muslim who is pursuing science is not, at that exact moment, studying Islamic doctrine. Muslim childhood education commonly emphasises religious education and indoctrination above all else (even more than most Christian-centric curricula) such that children in Muslim schools may get the impression that they don’t need to know much else. This kind of environment tends not to produce a high proportion of scientifically literate adults, at least by secular standards.

An Atheist Wary of Foxholes

Question from Michael:
I was raised a Bible Church Christian since birth, but can remember questioning my faith and details about it from a relatively young age. I gave my religion “the old college try” throughout college and young adulthood until my thirties when I finally could no longer justify my belief in something for which I saw no evidence. I have lived as an atheist since that time. However, I often feel that if my life were ever in danger (e.g. I was held at gunpoint) I would break down and pray to God to save me.
I’ve heard of this phenomenon before – “There are no atheists in foxholes!”

My question: Does this mean that I’m not really an atheist? Am I really a believer that is just trying to convince himself that he’s an atheist, but when push comes to shove, his true beliefs are exposed? Or am I the atheist that I believe myself to be, but when confronted with a life threatening situation, I revert to my childhood teachings as a safety net? Your insight would be appreciated. Thanks.

Answer by SmartLX:
You won’t know until you’re tested, but even if it does happen it may not mean much.

Firstly, there most definitely and literally are atheists in foxholes, as you’ll hear from members of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers and similar organisations. There are soldiers who go on active duty, risk their lives, survive by the skin of their teeth, and recall no point during their ordeals when they reached out to a deity they didn’t think they believed in. (A far more accurate statement is that there are no chaplains in foxholes – military keepers of the faith are only dragged into combat in the most dire situations.)

That’s not to say that people who’ve lost their faith never try to pick it up again in tough times. This may have nothing to do with actual belief; as you suggest, when there is no comfort to be found, people think back to times when they felt safe and protected, and many remember the prayers and churches of their youth. Afterwards, they may wonder what the heck they were thinking. Some recent apostates may even pray, or shout for God and Jesus, out of sheer habit.

What you appeal to in your darkest moments is not necessarily what you really believe, it’s just what your brain latches onto when you can’t think straight. It’s no wonder that some non-believers fall back on their early ideas of God as a companion and protector, before they remember that there’s likely no God.

An Atheist’s Duty

Question from Ktaboo:
I am an atheist, but first and foremost I’m an anthropologist. I am going to school to be one and have worked in the field (ie Archaeology, cultural studies, biomedical research etc. in other countries). However, recently I have been feeling more deist because of the actions other atheists I happen to know.

In the field of anthropology, I was always taught to respect cultural differences, including religion, because we are there to study them not judge them. Recently I became the president of my school’s anthropology club and as a way to make my club bigger I invited students from the international club, many of which are very religious but are open minded (most of them are in the fields of science and pre-med). This is where my issue and question comes from. I have a handful of members, who happen to be atheists (though most members are), who took it upon themselves to ridicule and tell the the religious students that they and their beliefs have no place in society or science. When I tried reminding the those members what we were all taught about cultural differenecs many of them disregarded me, stating that as an atheist it is our duty to tell people when they are “wrong” and being “anti-intellectuals.” Needless to say I was mortified as I happen to do research with many of them (many of them happen to be researchers in the chemistry, biology, and geology departments).

So here is my question, is it an atheist’s “duty” to tell people what they believe is “wrong” and they are being “anti-intellectuals” because they believe in something different?

Answer by SmartLX:
No duty comes from being an atheist. There isn’t a god telling you to do things, there is no sacred text containing commandments and advice for living, and what atheist organisations do exist generally make no demands of their members with regard to lifestyle. (Even if they do, the demands apply only to members, not to all atheists.) You are under no obligation to behave as your colleagues do, and the next time they demand it of you, you might ask them what they’re basing that on.

Your colleagues are not just atheists, they’re anti-theists who want to attack religion at any opportunity. I’m an anti-theist too in that I think the world would be better off without religion, but I don’t think less of people just because they believe, and I don’t think constantly attacking faith at every moment is a good way to get rid of it. It only makes believers defensive. To be clear, I think public criticism of faith is warranted and essential, but it doesn’t need to be in people’s faces all day, not all of it has to be aggressive and none of it has to be personal. One simple exposure to general criticism can be enough to sow doubt, as indeed it was with me.

I want to make one other point. Although I understand your feelings it’s not really warranted that you should lean more towards “deist” after being around some particularly uncivil atheists. The fact that some atheists attack the religious too much has absolutely nothing to do with the actual likelihood of a god existing. You haven’t stated your reasons for being an atheist in the first place; they should not be affected by these encounters or else they’re odd reasons indeed.


Question from Tim:
I am an honest questioner/agnostic looking for answers. I was born into a Christian denomination, but no longer go to church.

Anyway, here are my questions for you:

1. Assuming evolution is true (and I believe it is), then shouldn’t you allow for the fact that since the Bible was written by human beings, and human beings evolve, so did God in the Bible? In the Old Testament, he was an angry God, but by the New Testament he was a loving God. Why do atheists continue to pick on the Old Testament God who is no longer relavent to our modern day society?

2. A follow-up to #1. The New Testament makes it clear that “God is Love”. Surely, atheists believe in love. Yet, you do not believe in God. Isn’t that a contradiction?

3. Why is it perfectly acceptable for scientists to make and believe in ‘theories’, yet it is not okay to believe in the theory of God, if we may call it that?

4. If atheists believe in ‘nothing’, then isn’t that much the same as believing in God? By that I mean, you cannot prove that ‘nothing’ exists, can you? Show me where ‘nothing’ exists in this world. Isn’t everything made up of something?

5. Why do atheists seem so hostile to even the possibility of God existing? Why can’t God be treated as a possible scientific explanation for the creation of the universe? It seems to me that it is just as hard to believe (if not harder) that there are multiple universes or that this universe was a random mistake that just somehow occured? Until we know the true reasons for the origin of the universe, why not keep God on the table as one possible answer just like any other, since none of the others have been proven yet either?

I may have some more questions for you later, but these are the main ones for now. I would very much appreciate hearing your thoughts and opinions on these matters, and I will consider them seriously.
Thank you for your time.

Answer by SmartLX:
Hi Tim.

1. Whether God is angry or loving only matters if you think God exists, so it’s of far more importance to theists than atheists, but we do tend to use it to challenge the basis of religious morality.

Whether God is more loving in the New Testament is debatable, because the Old Testament has no concept of Hell as currently understood by Christians. God doesn’t start condemning people to eternal punishment until the Gospels, so for those on His bad side, love doesn’t count for much. The whole purpose of Jesus’ sacrifice is morally questionable, as no other scapegoat has ever truly absolved anyone of responsibility for their own actions.

The idea of God evolving undermines the idea of divine morality even further. if God’s ideas of right and wrong can change, humans must live in constant fear that God will change His mind again, and a lifetime of good works will be invalidated or a sinful life suddenly vindicated.

2. Love is a function of the brain. It’s not an ethereal presence which floats around us, it’s an abstract description of an integral part of the human experience. When we talk about love, we’re describing what people do for and feel about each other. What Christian would accept that God is nothing more than bio-electrical activity and an abstract human concept?

No, God as envisioned by Christians (and of course the New Testament) is more than love. He’s an intelligent agent with His own will and powers independent of human beings. When Christians say “God is love” they are giving credit to God for all love, but they’re not limiting him to the scope of love. Love doesn’t literally bring people back from the dead, but a god apparently can. That’s why atheists can quite happily accept the existence of love, but still question the existence of God.

3. The existence of God is a hypothesis, not a theory as understood by scientists. A scientific theory, as defined by the National Academy of Sciences in the USA, is “a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment.” God is a possible explanation for various things, yes, but God has not been confirmed to any extent through observation of and experiments on the natural world. When people deride evolution as “only a theory”, they don’t realise that their alternatives of creationism and “intelligent design” are not even that.

That said, the existence of God could be said to be a scientific hypothesis because it’s either true or it isn’t, and it could in principle be supported or contradicted by physical evidence. That’s no reason to think it’s at all likely, but it’s something.

4. Firstly, atheists don’t believe in “nothing” because there is at least something. We exist, and we live in some kind of a world, even if our senses are completely misguided. That’s something. Atheists also variously believe all kinds of things unrelated to gods, such as that everyone deserves an education, or that hard work pays off, or that ghosts are real, or that 9/11 was an inside job. It depends on the person.

I think what you mean is that atheists believe that there are no gods. Some do, and that’s called “strong atheism”, but most atheists simply lack a belief in any god. A god is a huge thing to believe in, and if there isn’t any apparent evidence for one, why would you? If no god has sufficient evidence to inspire belief in you, what you’re left with is atheism.

5. As I said, God is a possible explanation for the universe. Being an atheist doesn’t mean completely ruling out that possibility, it just means not thinking it’s really the case. There are plenty of agnostic atheists around, including me.

The nice thing about the idea of multiple universes is that there could be any number of them, up to and including an infinite number. If there are anything like that many, with a decent amount of variance between them, then the development of at least one universe with intelligent life in it becomes not just likely but a statistical certainty. That aside, without other universes to compare to this one, we don’t know how likely it is that a universe will have properties that allow life to form somewhere, whether there’s one universe or many. Rather than a random mistake, life-friendly properties might be common or even inevitable, such that life is an expected by-product of universes. Life as a whole does seem like the kind of bloody-minded (so to speak) organism that you’d pick up in your travels and struggle to shake off.

If you have related questions, feel free to comment here and carry on the discussion, otherwise go ahead and post unrelated questions as a new entry.

Something From Nothing And Your Chicks For Free

Question from Jay:
How is nothingness able to create a finely tuned universe?

A theist might make it more complicated by saying
“If something can come into being from nothing, then it becomes inexplicable why just anything or everything doesn’t come into being from nothing. Why can’t books pop into being from nothing? Why is it only the universe that can come into being from nothing?”

If mind and conscience is invisible and if matter does not contain conscience or the potential of consciences, Where does conscience come from?
If the universe began with brute matter, there will be no explanation of the origin of consciences.

How do I answer these questions cause they are really hard?
– This is for my philosophy class.

Answer by SmartLX:
This stuff isn’t just philosophy, this is “philosophy of religion”. It’s religious apologetics by way of arguments from ignorance, where if someone can’t answer the questions the questioner is free to insert God as the answer. Even if there aren’t any other answers it’s a terrible way to make a point, logically speaking, but that doesn’t stop people.

We don’t know whether there was ever nothing, so how something can come from it is a hypothetical question rather than an essential one. There might have been nothing once; if something emerged from it then we know that the process is extremely rare, or happens out of our view, or both. If whole universes emerge all at once in each event, as the Big Bang would seem to suggest when viewed as a something-from-nothing moment, we’d have to travel to the next universe to see the effects of another such event, so it’s no wonder we don’t see ex nihilo creation every day. For a more scientific perspective, take an hour to watch Lawrence Krauss’s lecture on the subject, or read his book A Universe From Nothing.

The universe is not necessarily finely tuned, for that assumes a tuning process and a tuner. The universe supports life, yes, on the crust of one known planet in countless light years of nothingness and extreme conditions (most of which would instantly kill us if we went there unprotected). That suggests two things: if the universe is tuned at all then it’s not very finely tuned, and life has emerged in the one place which happens to be hospitable. I’ve addressed the fine tuning argument several times on the site already, if you want some more material.

Mind, consciousness and the specific aspect of conscious thought we think of as “conscience” are functions of the brain. They’re not entirely invisible, because many experiments have used MRI to measure electrical activity in specific parts of the brain during specific mental activities (dreaming, problem-solving, emotional reactions). Furthermore, if the brain is damaged then consciousness may be impaired or lost forever, leaving a human “vegetable”. We see the beginnings of all these thought processes in animals such as apes, which suggests to us that consciousness has evolved slowly in our ancestors, and persisted because of the tangible benefits of being self-aware and able to think well.