Atheist Friend Answers Back!


#1

If any of you were following my prior posts, where I was talking about my Atheist friend who said “God Cannot exist” and “all visions are of the mind,” well I took much of all your advice, and he’s answered back. Wondering what you all think. Here’s his response to some of the things we were saying:

To most historians, the four gospels fail the historical method. The other gospels were from a similar period, (Gospels of Peter, Thomas, etc.) they were rejected if you ask me, because they were more demonstrably false than the others. It’s picking and choosing.

We cannot know anything absolutely, I cannot say absolutely that there are no such things as leprechauns, I am pretty sure there are not, but I cannot say that at no time, in all the universe and all possible universes than no leprechaun has ever existed.
However I am not using the impossible absolute knowledge, I am using objective knowledge and reason. It is not a matter of history; it is a matter of logic, mathematics (which is built upon logic) and scientific methodology.

To the degree we can know anything, including to the degree you can know you are reading this text, we can start to build an objective foundation of reason.

“Prove that the natural world is the totality of existence.”

Okay, in science the word “natural” means “actual” this is the context in which I am using it. However, how do we determine if this dimension is the only one?

The same way we determine everything around us, the same way you determine that the text you are reading exists. Objectively.

When there is no evidence for a claim, then such a claim can be dismissed. Similar to Bigfoot, alien abduction stories, leprechauns and so on.

However, remember this, when a positive claim is made (such as the existence of a god, or a spiritual realm) the onus of proof lies upon the person making the claim, not the person dismissing the claim.

“Prove that if God exists he must be a *natural *being.”

In science natural means actual. If you are not actual, then you are fictional.

Can you do the same now? Can you justify your belief that the natural world is not the totality of existence? Remember, since you are making the positive claim, that there is something beyond the natural world, the onus of proof is upon you.

“You can claim anything you’d like, but that doesn’t make them true.”

I couldn’t agree more, any positive claim must be backed up with evidence, it is the only path to objective truth.

Perhaps miracles of Christ never happened. Or Perhaps I am failing to see, but remember the onus lies upon the person making the positive claim, not the person who is dismissing the claim. If this were not so then you could be thrown in court for being a serial killer and you would have to prove you were not, rather than them having to prove you were.

CONT…


#2

CONT…

Okay, so science cannot find all knowledge for us, So what makes you think another method can?

Before our societies and cultures started using the scientific method, started searching for objective knowledge, the human life span was 25 years on average, starvation and disease were rife.

Science works, it really does, and it has brought us knowledge and advancements. Religion itself cannot boast the same claim. You can say religious people who used the scientific method have, but it was not the religion which brought the increase in knowledge.

That is why I put my trust in science, it has shown objectively that it works, it gets results, it cures diseases and it truly furthers our knowledge.

“However even if these laws are broken, so what?”

If they can be broken, (laws of the universe) they are not laws. That’s the definition of a natural or physical law.

"He’s something mankind will never totaly understand. "

Taking the unknown and marking it with “here be dragons” makes us feel like we have some kind of grasp upon it. Surely it is better to actually try to know than to accept the unknown. Sure there may be some things we cannot know, but we should try to know all we can. Apart from how useful such knowledge is, learning is fun!

Ok, that is it for this part. What do you all think?


#3

Your friend’s definition of “natural” is disengenuous, to say the least. In the context of God, “natural” obviously contrasts with “supernatural”. “Natural” refers to the material world, the world governed by the laws with which physics concerns itself. “Natural” does not mean, has never meant, “actual”. Check the thesaurus entries for “natural” and you will not find “actual”. Likewise, check the entries for “actual” and you will not find “natural”.

Your friend is cooking his definitions to arrive at his desired conclusions.


#4

“We cannot know anything absolutely”

And he knows this absolutely? Failure in logic imminent.


#5

#6

LOL


#7

You may try everything and yet not succeed in convincing him, for Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44)


#8

Typical. Read and then send him this article:

catholic.com/thisrock/2008/0803fea1.asp


#9

Others have shot holes in part of this. Now let me whittle away a few more logical errors. See embedded comments.

As someone already mentioned this is a logic meltdown. The atheist creates his own paradox asserting an absolute infallability simultaneous with asserting an absolute fallibility. This is the failure of Boolean logic - it is “naturally” impossible for an assertion to be simultaneously true and false at the same time outside the very small interval implied by planks constant (heisenberg’s uncertainty principal - where most anything is possible but not fully observable).

The man who admits he is both fallable and infallible is asking us to have faith that he can build an approximate model of all things from mathematics - a symbolic model that is not a natural thing but a representation of arbitrary units of natural units of measurement that can exist outside of space and time - just like God exists outside of space and time.

Fallacy - it means we can dismiss the incompetent evidence collector for being unable to find the evidendence we need that seems to hide from him in particular.

Not if the claim is made altruistically as a free gift to try to benefit the person we are asserting it to. Atheists are usually more willing to consider claims when they are on their death bed and hope we are right.

James


#10

Hi again. My responses below are aimed toward your friend and not toward you, so if I seem a little aggressive, know that it isn’t meant for you. It’s meant for your friend.

To most historians, the four gospels fail the historical method. The other gospels were from a similar period, (Gospels of Peter, Thomas, etc.) they were rejected if you ask me, because they were more demonstrably false than the others. It’s picking and choosing.

You obviously didn’t study this that well. Those other Gospels were rejected because they came too late. The later they are recorded, the more susceptible they would be to embellishments, so they just weren’t accepted. They only accepted the four earliest. Look it up – those other Gospels came later. For that reason, they do not fail the historical method – rather, they meet it.

The other stuff about science and whatnot, first of all, we don’t reject science. We Catholics depend on it. This tension between science and religion was the fault of American Evangelics who take the Bible literally without understanding historical and scientific context. Take your complaints to them.

But on Catholic terms, I again recommend “Greater Than You Think: A Theologian Answers the Atheists About God” and other related books.

Atheists talk about Catholicism versus science as if their explanations are the Church’s kryptonite. They make it as if Catholic and religious people cannot answer them. That’s just rubbish. We have, we tried and we did. Try that above book and look at similar books for explanations. They’re out there if you look, instead of forming your own hypothesis about these things without study. You laud science and ration (as we do) but you don’t use rationality in your understanding of Catholicism. The rational thing to do would be to look at what has been said and written already instead of coming up with your own assumptions.


#11

Much appreciated, but he knows Catholicism respects and acknowledges science (neither is he a fighting atheist, he doesn’t think religion should be erradicated like many atheists, he just doesn’t believe in it).

So far, the argument has been circular, and I’m not trying to “convert” him, just exchange opinons and beliefs. It’s been fun, so long as it doesn’t drive gulible me away :slight_smile:

I’ll keep you all posted, and thanks.


#12

I think the key is to be alert to his assumptions and be ready to challenge them. His arguments aren’t as important as the assumptions which underlie them. I think you will find that he has not thought them through but just takes them for granted.


#13

The fellow has taken recourse to hiding behind the idea of science. However “science” can only deal with the physical.

“Actual” in science means measurable using physical tools.

By definition it cannot measure the supernatural.

“Prove that the natural world is the totality of existence.”

Okay, in science the word “natural” means “actual” this is the context in which I am using it. However, how do we determine if this dimension is the only one?

The same way we determine everything around us, the same way you determine that the text you are reading exists. Objectively.

The burden of “proof”, evidience of which may be both measured physically and spiritually, is shifted to a scientific “actual”, or physical only measurement.

The idea of dimension is taken by him to mean again something thatcan be measured in physical manner.

He must be brought to accept the idea of a spiritual system of measurement, eg good vs evil, right vs. wrong, sensation vs death.

peace
stve


#14

Thomas Aquinas’ “Five Ways” is a good starting point for those who can follow logical thinking.


#15

The man wants simple binary yes and no truths observable from science and nature alone. You might remind him that there are many properties in science and mathematics that are not solvable through human means (logical paradoxes and the like). Nature is subject to time (growth-and-decay and cause-and-effect) and is therefor analog in character - not binary or digital. Therefor nothing but the most trivial aspects of individual attributes of nature can be resolved to precise and exact numbers. But the real essence of the nature of “things” are to be found in the interrelationships of things with each other and with space and time. Relationships are themselves complex and and not a thing unto themselves; they are only intellectual ideas so are not physical nor concrete. This renders our understanding of natural concrete “things” and their interactions with other things to the realm of intangibles that themselves do not exist in space and time. If the man can accept that relationships are real but do not exist as physical entities then he should eventually discover that his position is arbitrary in rejecting God who also can exist outside of space and time.

At some point the man must ask himself the following:
If we thus can not fully “know” nature and nature’s complex interrelationships in concrete terms since they are not tangible entities then how can we possibly claim with certainty that a super class relationship (i.e. God to all) can not exist outside of time and space? After-all we know unseeable relationships exist within time and space?

If he can’t wrap himself around that then have him provide the exact numerical value for Pi (π) the ratio (a conforming relationship that is unique to the entity’s human names attributes) of a perfect circle’s circumference to its diameter in Euclidean geometry.

He can’t since Pi is an irrational number, which means that it cannot be expressed as a fraction m/n, where m and n are integers. Consequently its decimal representation never ends or repeats. Beyond being irrational, it is also a transcendental number, which means that no finite sequence of algebraic operations on integers (powers, roots, sums, etc.) could ever produce it.

Eventually he will glom onto the fact that human characterizations of things seen in nature (eg. circles) do not have any knowledge that they have such man named attributes as “a circumference” nor a “radius” nor a ratio called Pi imperfectly describing the relationship between the two. These are human ideas that we use to try to force the circle to conform to our way of characterizing it (usually to exploit nature to serve us) into measurable quantities (units of measurement). But the circle “just exists” in whatever size and orientation it finds itself and conforms to its Creator’s perfect rule which dictates its form-factor. It could care less that humans try to measure it in ways that give rise to attributes it has no knowledge of nor irrational ratios that will never rationally resolve to exact representation of its intangible relationship to itself and its Creator. :smiley:

If nothing else this will keep him busy and off the streets safe from spreading his godless ideas. :wink: :smiley:

James


#16

Atheists love to level Christianity down to mere “superstition” or “myth.” You need to not let your friend get away with this so easily.

Here’s the tactic of avoidance. A Christian will say something like “But you don’t actually know anything about Christianity, it’s history, it’s archeological evidence, etc.” The atheist – or rather, the apathetic atheist, to be precise – will simply reply something to the effect of “Well, I don’t need to study ‘Leprechaunology’ to know that they don’t exist either, so what do I care?”

You may want to bring to your friend’s attention that there isn’t a global 2000 year-old Church founded on leprechauns, which has shaped our thinking and culture in unaccountable ways. That there is no leprechaun church that has been studied extensively and been put through immense trials throughout history, yet still survives. That the superstition of the “leprechauns” is a localized and relatively recent phenomenon (although I would check that), and Christianity is wide in scope, and completely reasonable in terms of moral teaching.

I would say that the “onus of proof” lies on your friend to explain why he can reasonably dismiss Christianity and its claims as so much hogwash despite all evidence in support of it. Propose this, and he can respond in either of two ways: “well, I suppose that’s true, and maybe I am being a little too hasty in my dismissal;” or “Yes, but I just know that Christianity is false. I just know that God doesn’t exist. I don’t need to study it.”

If it’s the former, keep talking with him. If it’s the latter, don’t bother. He’s like my brother (sadly): apathetic and dispassionate, and proud of it. Folks like them are not interested in thinking, they are interested in having their thinking done for them, which is why they fall back on “Science” (sounding of trumpets) to answer their non-existent questions: if all questions of life can be answered in a mechanistic fashion through the scientific method, then the only things that matter are those that a machine can approach. We are not machines, but they seem to want to be, and this is the fundamental perversion that I simply cannot wrap my mind around.

God Bless,
Telemachus


#17

I would just tell him that’s why we have God’s holy word in the bible… so we won’t be swayed to and fro by things that aren’t true. :smiley: (leprechans, evolution, and other fairytales)


#18

Thanks for the advice, but I have to say one thing, evolution IS fact, creationism to me is such nonesense and easily proved wrong.


#19

That’s all well and good, and the Church agrees with you, but you need to make sure your friend is not under the influence of “neo-Darwinism.” What I mean by that is the ideology that Darwin’s ideas of speciation through natural selection can be applied to everything. Neo-Darwinists are some of the silliest speculators on earth, attributing the creation of everything that makes us human beings to blind-chance and the killing-off of “lesser” human beings by nature. Brute-force, mechanized creation, essentially.

If your friend talks about evolution, you need to ask him what he means by that term sadly; there’s a lot of ideological baggage that goes with it.


#20

Dear The Catholic,

I might also suggest this: does he even WANT God to exist?

I think you will find that when people vehemently reject the existence of God, it is because they don’t WANT God to exist, and your arguments may be futile. I don’t think anyone is ever argued into believing in God. I think it rather comes down to an experience of one’s dependence, and the consideration of what to live for.

If someone does not WANT God to exist, i think the efforts are futile to convince them intellectually. what then exists is a psychological barrier, either because they have been wounded or scandalized, or else they have seen or experienced suffering of an innocent that is disturbing. Or else, in rare instances, pride and the desire to be free of moral obligation.

I would try to assess how he feels about the levels happiness:

I. Material Pleasures and Possessions
II. Egotistical Accomplishments
III. Intimate Relationships of Love with other Human Beings
IV. Intimate Relationship of Love with God, who is Infinite Love

Ask him if he agrees to the hierarchy. This is a better starting place than to digress into philosophy and intellectual rigor that may be wasted because the problem is not merely intellectual but psychological.


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