Part IV : Explaining and refuting religions
(Part I - Part II - Part III)
Another text I wrote on the subject (the
miracles of Evangelics and Penticostals)
Other people could make the same observation (here are 2 examples I
follow the links
Debating problems and consequences
Now, what about the cases of lengthy arguments and proofs they think
they have, with their apologetic treaties ?
Indeed, many times I read here or there, claims by Christians that
reason supports their position, and that all skeptical arguments
have been flatly refuted.
The problem is, who is the judge ?
The fact is, what they claim to be arguments on their side and
refutations of skeptical arguments, are only accepted by themselves
as such. They only succeed to convince themselves that they have
arguments, because they wanted to believe that they had arguments in
the first place (and anyway they assumed whatever supports their
side must be true because the truth is named Jesus), so that
anything they might say or hear that pleases their faith and gives
them an impression of being an argument, is automatically accepted
as an evidence on their side.
So, to please their faith in the idea that they have arguments and
that the rejection of Christianity is indefensible, they sometimes
publish, buy and praise books that are supposed to be "addressed to
skeptics" and to provide them the evidence for Christianity.
Examples are "Mere Christianity" by Lewis, and "The Reason for God"
In fact all their evidence may be completely flawed, ridiculous and
refuted for whoever is aware of the real contents of the debate,
they just won't or can't figure out. All they care is to comfort
themselves in their faith and the vague impression that it is
correct, and thus that anyone who keeps disagreeing must be
ignorant, stupid or stubborn.
They are ignoring the real terms of the debate, as their arguments
develop from a very naive viewpoint (something that is being "born
again" ;-), discovering the universe disregarding the experience and
arguments developed by skeptics.
Or sometimes they do, but happen to stick to wrong references. It is
such a pity that some authors have been reputed as a reference of
criticism of Christianity, while they focus on wrong arguments and
only give a sketch of the right ones.
For example, Nietzsche has been taken as a reference among
philosophers but most of his arguments are of poor value.
Some other mention some abstract and general arguments against the
existence of God or of miracles, that are not clear either.
But in fact there are many more, and much more serious, arguments
and testimonies against Christianity.
Before the Internet era, it may have been more understandable that
Christians kept their faith because they did not have the chance to
know about refutations, or because the attempts at criticism they
saw were weak.
But now with Internet, lots of evidence against Christianity are
widely available to all. It just require a little bit of care and
intellectual honesty and sanity to go and read it and understand it.
However unfortunately, many Christians won't do it, mainly because
they are unaware that such refutations exist and deserve to be read.
How would they guess so ? Why would they spend time reading
positions that they believe to be wrong ? They would consider this
care as ungodly and not good for their "spiritual growth with
Well of course, things are not perfect. Everyone contributes in a
way or another, and it is difficult to gather everything in a big
systematic way to put everything into order, insist on the strongest
points and avoid the weak or debatable ones.
It is especially difficult to focus on the points that the reader
needs to see first in order to discover a failure in his own system
of fallacies that will be relatively easier for him to understand
and admit without covering it by another fallacy.
Especially because this differs from a reader to another.
You can find on the web many arguments, evidence against
Christianity, and criticisms of the apologetic books, as the world
is very big and the deconverts are very many.
Some examples of criticism of "Mere Christianity" quickly coming by
a little web search: Mere
assertions - pages at infidels.org
Atheism - the world
wide rant. However, a remark needs to be made : among many
good arguments, some atheists try to argue for moral relativism.
However it is very important to understand that there are positions
of moral realism (saying that morality makes objective sense)
outside Christianity (even among atheists), and there
are even many
arguments showing that Christian morality is no decent morality at all, thus defeating the
relevance of any argument for moral absolutism as if it could bring
any support to Christianity - see more comments on how Christianity
(for example, Greta Christina wrote " I get angry when they trot out
the same old "Atheism is a nihilistic philosophy, with no joy or
meaning to life and no basis for morality or ethics"... when if they
spent ten minutes in the atheist blogosphere, they would discover
countless atheists who experience great joy and meaning in their
lives, and are intensely concerned about right and wrong.")
See also my own (non-christian) metaphysical
and other notes for moral realism.
His famous trilemma,
"Lord, Liar, or Lunatic", has
web sites - even Christian
Just like with the famous argument from martyrs where fallible
Christians as those of the early Church, suddenly must be considered
infallible as soon as it comes to the accidental event that they are
facing death threat and keep their faith in front of it (while the
way heretics did not suddenly convert in front of the mass massacres
they were victims of by the Inquisition, should not be counted as
evidence for the truth of heretical views).
Here Christians suddenly forget that things are not either black or
white but good-willing humans can be fallible, whenever the assumed
dilemma that things must be either black or white, is the convenient
assumption to support Christianity (assuming that if there is
anything good with Christianity then it must be all good and divine
perfection). But the same Christians would dismiss the remarks that
the early Church made so horrible massacres in God's name, by
proudly putting forward the claim that it is normal and right for
the early Church to have done the stupidest and most horrible things
in God's name (even worse things than had ever been done before) and
to have completely rebuilt the story of the life and messages of
Jesus (when facing evidence of its inaccuracy, while in other
circumstances they would deny any imperfection) and to have mistaken
the legendary accounts of creation in Genesis and other old
testament tales as factual truth) because they are mere fallible
humans unable of divine perfection, and as such should not be
expected and held responsible to do anything right. Similarly,
absolute uncurable human fallibility is always put forward by
Christians to blindly dismiss any skeptical position and claim of
evidence against Christianity - even without examination of the
clarity and reliablity of those evidences.
of "the reason for God" can be easily found too, and show that
this book is not what it claims to be: it does not contain serious
argument, but assumes as much as it claims to show, and just has
faith in its own arguments. It has not much clue about what is
reason, what is an argument, how do skeptics think, why they don't
buy Christianity, and what problems need to be addressed.
A funny positive review : "Keller
serves up a compelling and reasonable apologetic for today's
postmodern doubters and skeptics". Well of course if
Christians can't even make the difference between postmodernism and
rationality, then this confirms they just have no clue on the nature
of rationality, and leaves no wonder about their degree of illusion
and the worthlessness of their review.
I also started
reading and commenting on an apologetic book written by a
Something symptomatic about the Christian belief that such books
would be solid intelligent arguments addressed to skeptics and that
should more or less convince them, is that they usually believe this
without even having made a web search to check if skeptics ever
already checked and debunked these books. This shows how this
Christian pretense to care for reason and have arguments on their
side, is but one more way for them to practice blind faith that does
not stand any decent rationality standards.
What is ironical with their claim of having rational arguments, of
saying that reason supports their doctrine, that reason and faith
are compatible, and to try to convince skeptics, is that they are
proving the exact contrary of what they think, by showing (to the
knowledgeable reader) how flawed is their way of thinking. Their
very way of showing how they support flawed arguments that they
mistake for genuine arguments (by praising books of direly flawed
arguments and raising them as best-sellers), just confirms the
rational reader that faith is stupid and incompatible with reason.
For example, the very title of the book "The Reason for God" is
already illogical and corrupted with concerns to "please God" by
faith, rather make logically meaningful claims as opposed to what
the contrary view really is (as atheists have never had any personal
opposition against a God who they think does not exist ! and even
the existence of God does not imply the Christian doctrine, as other
concepts of God may be considered, which this author ignores). Why
bother reading the rest ?
For example, see: the
asymmetry of conversion (the observation that conversions to
Christianity are nearly always from naive people without prior
knowledge of the skeptical arguments, while there are many more
deconverts among people who made long biblical studies, including
pastors and priests).
Deconversion from Christianity often happens as a sort of amazing
discovery. Not a striking discovery, but the resulting effect of a
large accumulation of clues which are little discoveries. These seem
very new and totally unexpected, because until then, as Christians,
these clues are totally ignored, as if they were never discovered.
Not that they really were never discovered, but these discoveries
were only made and could be told by people that, well, usually
cannot be found in church anymore, and do even less has a say during
sunday sermons there, so that, well, do such ungodly people exist at
all ? As in Christian vocabulary, the word "testimony" means
"testimony of faith in Christ or life with Christ", how can any
other testimony be a worthy testimony at all ?
The result is that many of the Christians who turn out to deconvert,
do it by rediscovering these evidences themselves, and have the
impression that these are very new insights that were not heard of
before. So they feel a duty to go and write down their discoveries
in details, in hope to enlighten they former "brothers in Christ",
expecting that they would be serious in checking and understanding
this, because, well, for so many years together, it all looked like
they were among the most serious and honest truth seekers of the
world, surely interested with any genuine discovery.
Then, what a shock it is to discover that it is absolutely not the
case. And that, instead of reacting seriously and honestly to
consider the evidence, Christians just blindly accuse the deconverts
of all the evil of the world.
Anyway, deconverts will then consider it their duty to write down
the evidence they found, that is quite a lot... but often redundant
with what other deconverts already wrote since long ago.
So, now on the web, evidence against Christianity accumulates,
repeats itself... for not much anyway, because is just adds one more
droplet in an ocean of redundant evidence, that other Christians
won't bother reading anymore than they bothered reading previous
works on the same subject.
To make things worse, Christians keep thinking that atheist
arguments are weak, because of illusions such as the assumption that
skeptical arguments are just those of Nietzsche, then a look at
Nietzsche's arguments shows that they are quite weak, and so they
think: if atheists have just that to say, their point is weak.
Indeed, in such a case it would be so.
The problem is that there is a sort of flawed reputation system in
the world of academic philosophy, a domination of mediatic bubbles,
where, once someone starts being referenced as a great philosopher,
then everybody has to repeat this (like the Emperor's new clothes),
every other philosopher also has to mention him, and this reputation
just amplifies disregarding that basically, the core of that
author's arguments was quite weak.
Random examples of sites of former Christians:
of Pascal's Wager (became a book)
Endless Christian/atheist debates
In the way they are usually going, debates between atheists and
religious people have no chance to be resolved, because each side
really has a clue on the truth that the other does not, and must
therefore keep its position for that reason.
Religious people have the clue that we are not just made of matter,
that there is a spiritual realm beyond the material one, that this
other realm is somehow "more essential" than the material universe
directly under hand, especially because we, as conscious beings,
deeply belong to this realm;
that the essence of feelings and thus of morality, belongs to
consciousness and cannot be found in matter.
That, in principle, material processes alone cannot account for the
possibility for conscious existence and morality to make sense.
That there is a life after death where we will come back to this
realm, so that this dimension will finally be unfolded, and the
sense of the life spent may appear more clearly. That in the
spiritual realm there should be some higher minds, some higher level
of knowledge, than the one we are familiar with, and that we cannot
see in our human form.
Atheists (or at least a number of them) have important clues about
how to think properly, what is an evidence and what is not, what is
fallacious, how flawed are so many religious or spiritual teachings,
both as for their worldview and their morality.
But, one of the misunderstandings of religious people towards
atheists, is their assumption that atheism would be incompatible
with morality. This assumption is refuted by statistics: in average,
atheists are not less moral than others.
This misunderstanding has 2 causes.
The first is the confusion between a principle of existence and a
practical knowledge of something (the error of essentialism).
Religious people have a clue why it is possible for morality to make
sense. But they fail to notice that this does not help to know its
contents. They assume that having this clue would also make them
wise to discern which actions would be more moral than others. It
The second is that religious people usually do have some explicit
moral teaching to offer (or teaching about the sense of life);
atheists usually don't.
But this difference mainly comes from the fact that religious people
usually simplify and formalize morality (and the sense of life), and
assume or expect its rules to be somehow revealed to us (either by
sacred texts, gurus or personal inspiration through prayer); while
atheists rather are aware of the complexity of the problem that
cannot be reduced in such a way, of the flaws in the candidate
rules, and of the absence of such a revelation. Especially, they
often know that the right thing to do may depend on context because
different contexts can make similar actions lead to different
consequences; dependence on context which religious people may
confuse with moral relativism.
To better see the flaw of the first argument, let us remember that
we have other intuitions made possible by the (real rather than
acknowledged) immateriality of the soul : the intuition of our own
existence, the reality of our remembered past, and the falsity of
Of course, while atheists cannot account for the source of these
intuitions in principle (except the observation of their similarity
with others), they won't deny their truth in practice.
With morality it's the same (except for some immoral people of
- Mentioning God does not bring anything to the search of the
contents of morality, as whatever higher view there can be, cannot
contradict the careful calculations that can be independently made
out of directly accessible observation (for an earthly outcome,
since our fate after death would be God's responsibility, not ours)
; or at least we cannot do better than this anyway. A divine
morality needs to fit with the observables, as long as it aims to be
a genuine morality. Any other claim would be, by nature, arbitrary
and escaping discussion, which is a dangerous way to approach
morality; otherwise, a story of a God that wants cruel things, would
make it a moral value to be cruel "just because this is what God
wants", which is absurd.
- On the very ground where religions pretend to be superior: the
"goodness in oneself". Somehow, atheist morality is more authentic
than the religious one because it is practiced by its own sake for
the welfare of others, rather than for a heavenly reward. This also
makes it more authentic in practical terms, as it leaves this
morality undistorted by any arbitrary doctrine about biased ways in
which religions imagine that actions would be judged by God.
Here is a long list of
debates between atheists and theists
Abbé Lemaître and the big bang
Some religious people try to argue for the compatibility between
science and religion, by taking the example of the discovery of the
big bang theory by the catholic priest Abbé Lemaître.
Indeed there is a similarity between the big bang and the religious
idea of the creation of the universe, and there may be a
metaphysical reason for it (a metaphysical intuition that the
physical universe was born to existence someday).
And we can observe that other (non-christian) physicists of that
time were initially reluctant to accept this idea but tried to stay
among models of a universe that had always existed, so that the big
bang theory was more easily put forward by a Christian.
Indeed, ontological materialism would have been more naturally
compatible with the idea of a universe that had always existed,
while dualism (the immateriality of the soul) is more naturally
compatible with a universe that started.
However, another explanation to the initial reluctance of physicists
to consider the big bang, was the very fact of its similarity with
Christian theology. That's because this theology is so terribly
flawed, that it makes any similar idea suspicious.
Discredit of ideas by pitiful defenders
This is a quite general terrible phenomenon: the difficulty to
accept a truth because it is initially put forward by indefensible
lobbies (packed with indefensible other ideas).
This phenomenon already contributes to making theist/atheist debates
seemingly irreducible (everyone seeing an "essential" flaw in the
other's view, is tempted to dismiss it altogether).
There are other examples of discredits to ideas by their being put
forward by the wrong people or in the wrong way:
- Ideas of eugenics (application of Darwin theory to humans, care
for a progressive selective pressure on the genetic heritage of the
human species) were discredited by their misapplication by Nazis (by
the way, the Nazi propaganda made use of the Christian doctrine too,
so why make the former confusion and not the latter ?)
- Criticism of psychiatry is discredited by the involvement of the
Church of Scientology
- The ideas of economic liberalism were discredited by the dire
social inequalities and injustices that happened under it
- Any idea of trying to criticize the ongoing economico-political
order and looking for an alternative, was later discredited by the
failure of Marxism
- Environmentalism and the protection of economic/individual
freedoms seem irreconcilable as the proponents of one category of
values don't care enough about the other category.
- Many people dislike science, either because of the dull image that
education makes of it, or because of the damage to Earth done by it
(while it mainly goes through the ability of science to save lives
and thus to overpopulate the Earth - should we let people die
----The next sections are
not written yet (mainly headlines and keywords are)--------
The why and the how
Criticisms of Buddhism - Buddhism not interested with scientific
(I forgot the reference of a report of similar troubles of
understandings between scientists and Buddhists, that were left
aside for proceeding to experiences of neurological observations on
the meditation practices - which can be scientifically very
interesting, but is not a real dialogue: it only forgets the
misunderstanding and does not resolve it. Of course, scientists
joining such meetings are more likely to have favorable a priori
towards Buddhism, so they are no representative sample of scientific
view, and the resulting impression of relative harmony in these
meetings, is not the complete view of things).
Spiritual conceptions of knowledge
Religious Belief & Societal Health:
Study Reveals that Religion Does Not Lead to a Healthier Society
Morality issues that (some) religions usually miss
Karma and fate
Why is the karma law irrelevant
Human dignity ? opposed attitude of science & spirituality wrt
Value of freedom and innovation, being part of the great adventure
of scientific knowledge = sense of life
How poor is the religious view on the sense of life
How crappy are the holy books in comparison with other litterature
Is there a life before death
Is there a life after school
Tolerance: not being victim of other's errors or defects - some may
need formal education, others not
Lack of value of miracles: exceptional = worthless for the general
ancient concept of justice
Religion gives no sense to life because it calls for repetition.
The Christian worldview is that the sense of life consists in
managing to believe that there can be no sense of life outside the
What is chance (fate)
train too late for exam
Part V : Foreseeing and managing the future
Below are headlines of what I once thought of developing. Long
later I happened to develop some of such points here :
humanity's failures to steer itself properly
Work, nature & technology
The nature of work and goal of life is freedom, diversity and
Feynman 1959 "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom"
Reprogramming the outside world
War of the Worlds: The Human Side of Moore's Law
Freedom is more than an absence of coercion (truth is more than
an absence of mistake)
The choice of letting things the same is arbitrary
Searching for global solutions to personal misfortunes
Global job market and its consequences
Market optimization, the invisible hand
Mais pourquoi faut-il toujours punir ceux qui se développent mieux
dans un environnement libre, en leur infligeant cette bureaucratie
au prétexte qu'elle serait bonne pour d'autres ?
Why catastrophies cannot help to find the way to the solution.
The limits of science-fiction
Implementing trust & fairness to optimize the economy
Putting religions in front of their contradictions
sharing transport & housing
Problms with open source community
(reverse capital risking)
The obsolescence of bureaucracy as opposed to reality, examples...
Carbon tax and other environmental issues
Lomborg = former skeptic
Tuvalu (islands in danger of disappearing)
"Morality" vs peace and environmental protection
Nature should be sacred
Ecology vs. Jesus coming back
Public debt problem
Education financing problem
Bad reputation of the US
Violence of US soldiers
Kosovo, Georgia, Irak
in Libya ;
"Six villagers in a field on the
outskirts of Benghazi were shot and injured when a US helicopter
landed to rescue a crew member from the crashed jet.
The local Libyans who were injured in the rescue mission are
currently in hospital. They are the first confirmed casualities
of allied operations, almost four days after operations began.
Lindsey Hilsum has been in the hospital where some of the
injured were taken. She has spoken to the father of a young boy
who expects to have his leg amputated due to a bullet wound.
Gauging the reaction of locals in the area, she said: "the local
Libyans do not seem resentful, they still want the coalition
forces to keep operating. "(...)
The pilot was rescued by the US helicopter soon after crash
landing and opposition rebels recovered the weapons officer,
taking "took good care of him" before coalition forces picked
him up some time later. "
- US political prisoners:
US=Democracy, so US citizen are responsible for the crimes of the US
Chinese financial assets and weapons industry
The dating problem
The banana tree
"Ego" and fate
Solutions for dating :
(growth speed is limited - time taken to adapt)
About space exploration (and pseudo-utopias)
Cosmic radiation endangers life in space
The dangers of miserabilism (Harvard justice lessons)
How can mankind keep evolving
Fate of the Earth
Conclusion: the quest for truth is endless - 42
Part I: moral comparison of science and religion
- Part II: Explaining reason and science - Part III - Part IV
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