People who claim to have been atheist and then converted to a particular god in part because of what they discovered through learning about the sciences, could possibly be the biggest contributors to my melancholy regarding religion and the way it insidiously takes ideas and fits them to its own agenda.
Take the following examples as a taster of the misguidance I see frequently.
The big bang.
“Scientists now agree that the universe and time itself began in the big bang. There is the argument that whatever begins to exist must have a cause. We know the universe began to exist therefore the universe has a cause. We can draw logical inferences from this and that is; that this cause must itself be uncaused, timeless, immaterial, powerful and personal.”
Feel like there was something missing in the middle there? It’s quite a common logical misstep:
“You’re an atheist? So you believe that all this came from nothing? Ridiculous. All this came from God! Where did He come from? Oh, nothing. Why would he need a cause?”
Simultaneously simplifying our argument, pointing out a fallacious inconsistency, and using the same logic to insist that their theory is the better one.
The worst part is I cannot blame the person repeating these ideas because they have been taught this conclusion by theists. It is brought about by belief bias and admittedly everyone has belief bias, even atheists. We look at the evidence and fail to conceptualise the metaphysical because it seems absurd. We are doing this with the belief bias that there must be a non-spiritual reason.
But where the believer in a particular god fits his/her god in as an explanation it creates quite startling inconsistencies in their reasoning. A scientist sees an inconsistency and concludes that their model must be wrong. If the model produces results that for practical application are viable then they may still be used, but the search goes on to find the correct model.
“The universe is fine-tuned on a knife edge to allow life to exist, to such as extent as to make naturalistic claims silly.”
Now I like the puddle metaphor. I know it’s ludicrously simplistic but demonstrates the mindset of the creationist very well..
Imagine a puddle of water. Let’s allow our hypothetical puddle to have the ability to ponder it’s own existence. If our puddle was egotistical it would probably think something along the lines of
“Wow, this indentation in which I have found myself is miraculously perfectly shaped for me to be in it! This cannot have happened by chance.”
Sound familiar? No matter how extreme the random event chain leading up to our existence, the fact that we are here means that it did happen, whilst highly improbable it has still happened. Given that it has we can even say it is 100% likely. Given a fresh start for the universe no doubt it wouldn’t have happened. But it has.
If you still think it so improbable that it is illogical not to insert a divine manipulator then may I suggest the many worlds interpretations? If there are multiple universes, be they parallel or in series, then at some point it is likely that a universe like ours would come to exist. This is that universe.
If you still insist then as a logical next step surely you must ask where they came from?
“To believe there wasn’t a god I’d have to believe the illogical idea that consciousness comes from non-consciousness.”
This is a tricky one but with a similar reasoning to the previous. You can observe that different aspects of conscious thought are the result of different areas of the brain doing it physical, biological, chemical thing which has taken billions of years to achieve thorough evolution. There is nothing mysterious about it save the weirdness in being able to sit and think about it. It does feel quite surreal to have a particular consciousness, but as explained before it is not necessary to insert god at this juncture.
I feel the statement is hinged somewhat on the assumption of the metaphysical. If you believe there is a god then something like conscious thought seems nicely suited to a metaphysical, intangible being who gives you Free Will..
..if you ignore the scientific explanation.
“In DNA we see information. Volumes of instructions for building us. We know universally that if there is information then there has to be some intelligent cause.”
Very bad inductive reasoning. If you take information in say book form or programming code for computers, then the model you have is one of intelligent (in some cases -ed) intent. This is a very fine model when dealing with man-made artifacts.
But to then say “universally” is to ignore principles of unbiased research.
The information accrued in DNA has a logical progression from random, environmental influence. You can trace it using genealogy and evolution.
If we use this unscientific reasoning then we can state almost anything. All the seats in the train I’m occupying are green. Should I infer that all seats are green? Or have I applied a model beyond its purview?
In all my research I still haven’t come across an argument that puts across a divine being in a logical way. The application of such logic invariably creates inconsistencies or makes things infinitely more complicated than they already are.