Friday, January 11, 2013

About Me and my Goals


Mission Statement

It is demonstrably the case that atheism or agnosticism is the default starting point for any rational inquirer when it comes to the question whether or not god exists.

My goal is to advocate for atheism and agnosticism because simply put, there are no good reasons to believe in a god.  This is especially true for the Christian god, Yahweh. 

This blog is dedicated to showing how and why there are no good reasons to believe in any deity by countering mainly Christian apologetics arguments.



Why Christian Apologetics?

Christianity is the dominant religion in my country, and it is the religion that I was indoctrinated with as a child. 

Some of my posts will refute the existence of any monotheistic omniscient, omnipotent, and omni-benevolent god, which will address the claims of other religions.  That said, I am not familiar enough with Islamic or other religious apologetics to offer a strong refutation of their specific arguments. 

Why am I doing this?

To put it bluntly, I think the morality and worldview that Christianity imposes are demonstrably harmful to society and individuals*.  I want to free as many other people from the oppression of religion as possible. 

I am a former evangelical/fundamentalist Christian. I’ve worshiped in Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, and Evangelical Presbyterian churches for most of my life.  I went through a painful “deconversion” three years ago, and I tried to convince myself to go back to religion due to familial and social pressures. 

Fortunately, I was able to eventually free myself from religion.  More importantly, I was able to bring my wife with me through this journey and we left Christianity together. 

However, in trying to go back to religion over a 2 year period, I found Christian apologetics.  In every case I found, apologetics fails to offer a good reason to believe in god.  On the plus side, this engagement in apologetics ignited an interest in philosophy that I hadn’t had before. 

Through this I believe I can help others leave religion and to find a better, more meaningful life.

*Note: I don’t think that religion is exclusively evil/harmful, it has a number of demonstrable positive effects.  I do think that those effects are related to ancillary factors that one can get from many other sources besides religion. 

I also don’t think that all religious people are bad or stupid. I think it’s demonstrably the case that the majority of religious people are better than their religion, they just don’t realize how bad their religion is.

What I am

What I am depends on the question you’re asking.  The debate over the existence of a god has raged for centuries, and there are a myriad of positions.  Terms like “atheist” and “agnostic” are misunderstood or misrepresented in the modern debate.

If you ask me if I know whether or not there is a god – then I’m an agnostic.  I don’t know if there is a god or not.

If you ask me if I believe in a god – then I’m an atheist. I do not believe in any god or gods.  I don’t think it’s very likely that a god exists, and this is especially the case for the Christian god Yahweh. 

A good analogy for this would be leprechauns.   Technically, you don’t know leprechauns don’t exist and you can’t prove that they definitely do not exit.  You merely don’t believe they exist, probably because you don’t have any evidence that they do exist.

Who I am

For now, I am anonymous. 

Quite frankly, I’ve seen how atheists are treated in online discussions, and I don’t want any of the threats that normally come to someone who runs an atheist blog/vblog to even be able to spill over into my real life or affect my family. 

I will give some details about myself for readers to better understand where I’m coming from.

I am a straight white male and am in my 30’s.  And yes, it is very nice to be in the prime target demographic for almost everyone in marketing.

I am happily married, and have a (as of this writing) newborn daughter.

I am an engineer.  My background is largely in computer and electrical engineering, but I am trained enough in math and physics to address some technical arguments in cosmology.  Biology was never my strong suit, so I am not as well equipped to address detailed technical arguments on evolution.

I’m also a gamer, there may be a few posts sprinkled about with references to gaming and/or geek stuff.

26 comments:

  1. Interesting blog, but surely atheism is the default position with agnosticism being a specific counter to the so-called gnositicism of early Christianity?

    :D

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  2. I think it's demonstrable that the actual default position is either non-believe or claiming ignorance.

    I think it's arguable between which of those two positions should be the default, but it's definitely one of those two. Hoping to do a post on that at some point.

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    1. I'll look forward to that. :D

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    2. You like the word demonstrable. Could we not miss God entirly with H0: God does not exist and H1: God does exist. We look everywhere in the local physical space and find no God. Decide that this search is exhustive. Conclude we don't have enough evidence to refute the null hypothesis. So, we except the null hypothesis.

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    3. I'm not sure your reply makes much sense. I'm not claiming absolute knowledge god doesn't exist. What I'm claiming is that non-belief or ignorance is the default position. We do that with pretty much everything non-trivial, but especially things that are supernatural in nature (ie. Leprechauns, Unicorns, etc).

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    4. So, to be consistent then, your default position must be that you (other than a bag of chemicals reacting to stimuli solely by deterministic and stochastic processes) do not exist. There is no you – A Counter Apologist – inside the bag. Your name suggests a goal and therefor an intelligent agent but your default position must be that this is an illusion and none exists. Is that correct?

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    5. Just answered your best default position on God here http://foxat.blogspot.com/

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    6. Your response here and on your blog is so astonishingly wrong I can't decide whether or not I should ignore or eviscerate it.

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    7. Well your correct. According to your logic, we must assume you can't decide as you don't exist. Unless of course you can demonstrate your existence.

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    8. Looks like I'm going with eviscerate.

      I can know that I exist, because of the impossibility of the contrary - to even ask the question means that I must exist. This is basic Descartes philosophy, and is one of the few truths we CAN know with absolute certainty.

      What you've done is merely assert that by having an identity or agency that this could not be the product of merely material causes in our brains. All evidence we have is to the contrary, that our subjective experience is the result of physical causes in our brains. We can't explain it all yet, but it's an ever shrinking "gap" for you to put your god in.

      Finally, I can't demonstrate my existence to YOU. But it is demonstrable to ME, so in terms of knowledge I do know that I exist.

      In terms of defeating solipsism, which seems to be what you're getting at, it can be demonstrated that even if only "I exist" and every other person was a figment of my imagination, that I can't seem to control what those other people or figments of my imagination do. I also know that they can do things to me that I either I like, dislike, or am indifferent to.

      As such, I'm warranted in treating them like they do exist outside of myself, since doing that DOES seem to impact their actions towards me.

      So even if I was a solipsist, it's in my best interests to act as if I wasn't.

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    9. That you exist is your axiom (taken without proof). Everything else is built from that premise. It is possible that you don’t exist but the cost of that is too great for you to comprehend so you take it as impossible. You can’t even demonstrate it to yourself; and no Descartes can’t help you, you are on your own. You just believe a priori. I can’t prove you don’t exist. But don’t feel bad, every system of belief must have at least one axiom.
      My axiom is that God exists. Everything I know is built from that one fact. If He does not exist, it will cost me everything. I can’t prove he exists to you and you can’t prove He does not exist.
      Your whole existence is built around you. My whole existence is built around God.

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    10. No proof? My experiences are my proof. They aren't demonstrable to anyone else, but the same proof is available to others for themselves. I can comprehend my non existence - that is death. It's proof by impossibility of the contrary.

      Unfortunately for you, that kind of proof doesn't work for your god.

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    11. Your experiences are your proof that you exist? My experiences of Jesus Christ are my proof that He exists. The same proof is available to others for themselves - countless will witness of them. You can comprehend your non existence? So what? I can imagine many things that may or may not be real. Everything that you take as proof of your own existance is available as proof that God exists. You simply choose to believe that you exist and choose to believe that God does not. To say that one is more rational than the other is laughable.

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    12. You've experienced Jesus? How?

      Has he spoken to you verbally? Do you hear voices in your head? Have you seen him?

      Or have you just read a book and imagined things, believing them to be true? How do you tell the difference between this being existing and the imagination of it?

      At least with other people we can have them actually objectively demonstrate things for us.

      Just to be clear - I only hear my own voice in my head, I experience things. I've never experienced another person in there, but hey, maybe you have. Do tell us about how you experience Jesus.

      You say the evidence is available to anyone - I've asked for it from this being many, many times - I got nothing.

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    13. // Your experiences are your proof that you exist? My experiences of Jesus Christ are my proof that He exists. //

      According to your own 'logic', we cannot be sure 'you' exist, therefore your claims are not worth considering.

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  3. Very good blog, quite useful. Thank you

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  4. I hope that this blog serves to solidify your position on many things. Two things immediately tell me why you probably left Christianity. First, you "discovered apologetics" during your process of trying to leave your faith! What does that say about the depth of your spiritual maturity and love for the things that support the claims of Christ? Not much!

    Secondly, I think it did not benefit you to jump from denomination to denomination. This speaks more of your lack of knowing what you believe and where you could plug in. Now your stone has rolled, tossed as you are in the wind, in to the wonderful world of internet atheism! So, you not only didn't know what you believed, you didn't know why you believed what you did!

    I call it the way I see it! You were a lousy ambassador for Christ and now you hope to be an ambassador for atheism! What's sad is you're a day late and a dollar short! There is a renaissance of intellectual depth and philosophy in Christianity in keeping with your interests and intelligence! There is no, repeat, no intellectual muscle among the "New Atheists"! And you have already picked up their memes like spelling God with a small "g".

    Tell me to go to hell if you wish, but I care, and I suggest you start over in your commitment to Christ! I hate to see a good brain wasted!



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    1. Wow, Kevin Harris! What a nasty comment. Of course, as William Lane Craig's sidekick it must aggravate you to no end that your own son no longer buys any of this crap and is now an atheist (and I quote your own words as my source). There is so much wrong with what you said but most is unworthy of a response. You should take a break and come back when you can be a little more charitable. Sorry, can't tell you to got to hell because that doesn't exist either.

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  5. I agree with Kevin. You say you were an evangelical/fundamentalist Christian. But, this is not possible. You could have been decieved into thinking you were, but, I am curious, how did you perceive your own (non-existent) relationship with Jesus and reconcile it with the characterizations of the others around you. And now, how is it you know you are not decieved still? You can't possibly know there is no God; unless you yourself know everything.

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  6. Just what I needed, thanks a lot….

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  7. Melvin..I counter your position. Based on the following. 1. You claim to be a christian. 2. If I asked, could you ever lose your faith? You would say yes. 3. Then, Why are you or any christian claiming to be a christian if its possible to lose your faith and not even be a christian in the first place. 4. Based on yoru argument, There is no such thing as a christian since we dont know the future. 5. Doubt is on all christian minds, therefore I say there is no such thing as a christian in the first place. 6. Every christian is 1 or circumstances away from losing their faith. 7. I pose your silly argument as conjecture to force yourself into positive reinforcemnt. Its mental gymnastics for the irrational.

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  8. Here is a rational argument that there actual is a God. It is my thesis statement to my high school synthesis paper that I'm writing now and doing research on. I hope you consider my statement. I hope that one day you would remember God's love. Your blog is very sad to read, I just wonder what happened to make you deny God as your creator, Lord, and savior. This is just my argument as to why God exists I also have an argument as to why a loving God would allow suffering.

    Belief in God is not irrational, in fact after looking carefully through the major arguments against Christianity those arguments easily fail and God is found to be the reason behind everything. For if the argument against Christianity is that there is too much injustice in the world for there to be a loving God then where is the idea of injustice come from? We have this concept of justice formed in our minds, but how do we distinguish an injustice from justice? There has to be something that we are comparing the world to in order to have an idea of justice. There must be a God to have a concept of justice. If then, the argument is to get rid of the idea of justice then the argument that there is too much suffering in the world for there to be a God fails. "When you say there's too much evil in this world you assume there's good. When you assume there's good, you assume there's such a thing as a moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil. But if you assume a moral law, you must posit a moral Law Giver, but that's Who you're trying to disprove and not prove. Because if there's no moral Law Giver, there's no moral law. If there's no moral law, there's no good. If there's no good, there's no evil” (Ravi Zacharias). There must be an idea of justice to know what suffering is and if there is an idea of justice there must be a God.

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    1. Anonymous, you've started off with some poor assertions which don't bode well for a rational argument. You also seem to be listening to some quite irrational "thinkers" such as Zacharias. Yes, we do have concepts of justice, good/evil, suffering. We have a moral sense, of right and wrong, but not always agreement on whether X is right/wrong. And the evidence from evolutionary biology and nueroscience is that this evolved moral sense is where we get the "something that we are comparing the world to." But where is evidence for an absolute "moral law"? Where is there total black and white? That there can be broad agreement that some Xs are wrong -- e.g. raping a child -- does not support an absolutist position, nor does it demand a "god". Nor is there any evidence for said 'god'. Philosophically, the problem of evil makes incoherent the Christian concept of a god. I think that Zacharias (and you) should study biology and neuroscience more, and to consider the proto morality in the behaviour of animals other than humans. But if you are happy to concede that your 'Christian god' sits back and lets children be raped, you're still sunk in irrational belief.

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  9. Loved your article "Countering the Kalam Argument". Can I offer two corrections? First, in three places you have a picture of a cat with the label "Burden of Poof Kitty" - perhaps you should say "Burden of PROOF Kitty". Second, the word
    empirical is usually pronounced phonetically as em-peer-ic-al NOT emp-ric-al.

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  10. This site is absolutly nonsence. The author simply do not have required education. The site do not make atheism meaningful.

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    1. I absolutely love it when someone insults my education and work, but can't spell or use proper sentence structure.

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