Part IV : Explaining and refuting religions

(Part I - Part II - Part III)

About miracles

The Fatima miracle

The saints

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 could find)

More Evidence against divine guidance or revelation

References on Scientific Illiteracy

follow the links

The religious mind

Examples of absurdities, fallacies and debate troubles with Christianity

Psychological pressure to beleive

Debating problems and consequences

Apologetic treaties

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" by Keller.

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 Christ".

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 - rationalresponders - Daylight 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 is evil.
(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 also been debunked in many web sites - even Christian ones
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.

Criticisms 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 high-level physicist.

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:

formerfundy.blogspot.com

rejectionofpascalswager.net

Exchristian.net

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 does not.

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 solipsism.
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 course).

Last remarks:
- 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 instead ?)

Why Christianity is evil

Christianity main page

----The next sections are not written yet (mainly headlines and keywords are)--------

The why and the how

Other religions



Quran
http://1000mistakes.com/

Criticisms of Buddhism - Buddhism not interested with scientific knowledge


(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

http://www.science20.com/positive_psychology_digest/science_vs_buddhism_do_you_wanna_be_monk

Religious Belief & Societal Health:
New 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 fate
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 or science
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 case

ancient concept of justice
artificial rain
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 Christian worldview.

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 :

On humanity's failures to steer itself properly


Work, nature & technology


The nature of work and goal of life is freedom, diversity and innovation

Feynman 1959 "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom"

Reprogramming the outside world

http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/2008/pulpit_20080321_004574.html
War of the Worlds: The Human Side of Moore's Law
(online education)

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

http://www.paulgraham.com/googles.html

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.

Autopsy of Marxism


The limits of science-fiction

IT solutions for a better world




Now if you want to know what rational solutions can be found to solve the world's problem, you can check those I developed here. For implementation, no institutional power or democratic mandate is needed, but only the work of a small team of web developers. Unfortunately, I could not even find that since years that I had this idea and I could convince many other rational people about it. And many people are not interested, either because they hate reason and intelligence and prefer to dedicate their life and efforts to their religious values, that is their cult of stupidity; or just because they prefer to obey the system to get a career.





Waligore connections
Implementing trust & fairness to optimize the economy
Putting religions in front of their contradictions
sharing transport & housing
newciv
Voting methods

Problms with open source community
(reverse capital risking)

The obsolescence of bureaucracy as opposed to reality, examples...

http://backreaction.blogspot.com/2008/07/we-have-only-ourselves-to-judge-on-each.htmlwr
http://backreaction.blogspot.com/2008/09/science-in-21st-century-summary.html

Carbon tax and other environmental issues

http://www.michaelshermer.com/2008/04/confessions-of-a-former-environmental-skeptic/

Lomborg = former skeptic

Tuvalu (islands in danger of disappearing)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change


"Morality" vs peace and environmental protection



Nature should be sacred

Ecology vs. Jesus coming back

Public debt problem

Education financing problem

Geopolitical issues

Bad reputation of the US
Violence of US soldiers
Kosovo, Georgia, Irak
NATO discredit
abunchofcrock.com
Injuries 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:

Bradley Manning
Earth First
US=Democracy, so US citizen are responsible for the crimes of the US government

Chinese financial assets and weapons industry

The dating problem

The banana tree
"Ego" and fate
Solutions for dating :
Online dating
Ribbon
Group meetings
(TV)
Keeping contact
Relational education

Further future

Overpopulation

(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
Accelerated expansion
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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