I posted this on an Atheist Forum


I posted this on an Atheist forum. I’m sure I will begin to get responses flaming my logic. I know I have a little bit more support over here though. :smiley: I was not trying to debate a specific religion here, but rather a hypocrisy in how Atheists choose to place their faith. I’ll post responses on here as well. I was hoping you guys would be able to help in the responses.

In Age of Reason, 1796, Thomas Paine wrote “Revelation, when applied to religion, means something communicated immediately from God to man …] It is revelation to the first person only, and hearsay to every other, and, consequently, they are not obliged to believe it.”

Basically, Thomas Paine was saying (in context with the surrounding parts of the text) that an Almighty being, if it so wished, could most certainly have the power to communicate with us. If it were, for example, to communicate directly with me the message would be a revelation to me… and me alone. If I were to tell Bob (random name) he would be under no obligation to believe me. What I would be telling Bob about my revelation would be hearsay. However, this train of thought could also spread to other situations in daily life. (i.e. ‘I went 157mph on the highway,’ ‘I have $200 in my bank account,’ ‘I’m adopted,’ etc.) Sounds logical enough… good.

Modern Language Association (MLA):
“faith.” The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 13 Jul. 2007. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/faith>.

faith (fāth) Pronunciation Key
n. 1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.

Faith, by definition, is believing that which someone is telling you is true when you may not have the physical evidence or knowledge to prove that. This can apply to many of our daily activities. We take on faith what our friends, doctors, teachers, historians, etc. tell us and accept them as truth. And for most things in our lives we do not have the knowledge to verify all statements made by people of different professions. The skill specialization in our society requires us to take on faith, everyday, things that we could not otherwise verify. We are choosing to believe and therefore, have faith, in the hearsay they are providing us with.

Religion, as Thomas Paine noted earlier, is for the most part… hearsay. I seriously doubt many theists have ever experienced a personal revelation directly from God. However, they choose to believe hearsay, and therefore have faith in the people or objects spreading the hearsay, that a God exists. They believe the hearsay put forth by priests, rabbis, imams, parents, and friends in regards to the belief of a God. First, they have faith in the hearsay. Secondly, they have faith in God.

Not all things people accept are ever verified. Some things which we attempt to personally verify we cannot comprehend or physically verify. However, even though we cannot personally verify that particular belief we still accept it. We accept on faith that what were are being told is true. I.E. Infinite universe , Infinite time, or Big Bang theory. I doubt anyone here has a telescope to view the edge of the universe (or lack thereof) or the mathematical knowledge or comprehension to verify any sort of mathematical theorem set forth by Steven Hawkings or other theoretical physicist. It’s also important to understand that theories are always changing and growing. It’s also important to remember there is a reason why they’re called “theoretical” physicist. While yes, they are brilliant men, the theories they set forth are theories and as yet, unproven.

My question is this: Why do you have faith in some hearsay (theoretical physics, day-to-day interactions with people in society, family, friends) and have no faith in other hearsay (theism)?

I’m sure I may get some angry responses in regards to religion being hearsay. The purpose was to draw the Atheists into thinking the post supports Atheism while at the end showing an error in logic. It’s also important that I point out that I used the Infinite universe, infinite time, Big Bang theory as examples because I see those used quite often for “scientific” arguments against a God. Any critiques to this approach is very much welcomed, too. I appreciate your help and criticism. :slight_smile:



I have noticed this too. Even though it’s true, I doubt most atheists are comfortable acknowledging it. :wink:


A large part of religion always comes through hearsay. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though.


I’ve brought this up with Atheists quite a few times actually. They generally get very upset but never provide any real response. That or they end up rethinking things. :wink:



Quite the contrary. Remember what the risen Christ told Thomas :slight_smile:


get ready for, science is always changing, it never says it has the answer like religion. Then then you will hear things like Jesus didnt even exist when the arguement starts getting really lost. a change of topic if you will to avoid the subject. :rolleyes:

and very found of circular arguements and straw men

but on the other hand it can strengthen your faith because you really think through what you think about God. :slight_smile:


It’s a question of scale and of obligation. If you say you went 157 on the highway, I’d likely be incredulous – especially if I know you’re driving a Yugo. I’d have to see it to believe it. Being broke is reasonable to accept only on hearsay. Saying that the universe was created by an unseeable being who loves us and wants us to visit him after we croak is infinitely less reasonable because of its massive scale – and its inherent unverifiability. Telling me space aliens are taking over people’s brains with the help of the CIA is more reasonable, more verifiable, and on a much smaller scale than the whole of the universe plus one, and I’d still smile, nod, and get away as fast as possible.

And I don’t have to believe anything just on your say-so. You can verify how much is in your bank account or whether you were adopted. Without me being in the passenger’s seat looking at your speedometer (or seeing the ticket you got), you can’t verify to me that your Yugo can do 157.


To me the incredible, unverifiable claim would be if someone said:
The universe, balanced yet turbulent, unimaginably vast and grand yet intricately patterned to the invisible subatomic details, complexly harmonious in pattern yet inconceivably varied, which supports the phenomenon of life (so qualitatively different from all other matter), even consciousness itself (beyond the ways of matter itself yet tied to it at least for a time), the universe, that is, popped up out of a nothingness that included neither space nor time, and did so without any being sparking that physically self-contradictory change in nothingness, without a purpose, without a prior cause.
We appeared by accident, first as RNA, despite RNA’s complexity, despite its reluctance to happen without a living thing to catalyze and shelter its formation. Then came DNA, despite the lack of biotic nurturance for that unlikely reaction. Then came the cell, many, many times more comlex, then the buds of organs, all despite their lack of functionality in the first necessary stage. Then came the mammals and birds, social creatures, able to bond, able to sacrifice themselves even for non-relatives, able to mourn the loss of home, the loss of young and of sibs.
Then came we. We know across cultures that life must have purpose, yet we appeared with no purpose. We know across cultures that the human being is essentially a soul, yet we have no souls. We know across cultures that we owe much to our Maker, across cultures we die younger and live less happily without a belief in a Maker, yet we had no Maker. Somehow by accident every part of the universe and life and consciousness came out – against inconceivable odds – exactly as it should have, except that somehow the same accidental process gave almost all the humans on the planet, in all eras, instincts, their strongest ones, stronger than the very will to life, that are just a mistake.
I find that claim so extraordinary that I would need a lot, I mean a lot, of good, unquestionable and rock-solid evidence to believe it.


Good, because we’re getting there :slight_smile:

In a related vein, you have heard the ‘infinite monkeys’ idea, yes? Put an infinite number of monkeys at an infinite number of typewriters, or put one monkey at a typewriter for an infinitely long time, and you will get the complete works of Shakespeare, along with an infinite amount of gibberish.

Humans are so naturally vain, acting as if the universe is all about us – really, we’re not that special. It’s a big place. We’re on one planet out of nine (yes, Pluto, you are still a planet) orbiting one out of the one hundred billion stars spinning around in just one out of billions upon billions of galaxies.

Trillions, quadrillions, quintillions, sextillions, septillions of monkeys is not an infinite number, it is true; but as the number of monkeys goes up and time passes, the odds of seeing Hamlet increase.


Still, the question would remain… just where did all those “monkeys” come from? :wink:


No idea – yet :wink:

I’m just explaining order and life, not origin. That’s a whole nother can of worms.


Well, at the very least, one has to congratulate the OP on his efforts to influence atheists, or at least get them to question their assumptions.

Maybe nobody will write you to say that they are now becoming Catholic, thanks to your post, but it may very well start someone on a path of questions that leads them “home”! :thumbsup:


The answer to this is: there is hearsay and there is hearsay.

Scientific hearsay is verifiable, as long as u learn the math needed to understand the arguments, and u can conduct tests to prove it is true/false. Religious hearsay is not, and is dependent on blindly accepting what the holy books and religious leaders tell u is true. There is no way of independently checking the facts, no matter how much theology u learn.

The 2nd thing is that science is willing to be proven wrong. Once someone comes along and proves a scientific argument to be wrong, the error is corrected in all science books. Religion is not willing to accept it can be in any error, now allow its books to be amended to reflect advances in knowledge.


But because you don’t always ask or scientifically test whenever you believe a claim someone makes you have FAITH that what they say is true.

I think the point the OP is making is that everyone has Faith to some extent - even Atheists/Agnostics.

Another point I would like to make is the term “Scientific hearsay is verifiable” - how does one define verifiable?

Let’s say I claim to have 200g of gold in my pocket.

You say “Ok, how do you know it’s 200g?”

“I weighed it”

“How do you know the scales were accurate?”

“Because I tested them with a set weight beforehand”

“How do you know that set weight was accurate?”

You could ask n questions.

We can be 100% sure of nothing. So you have to have FAITH. At the end of the day you’re going to have to do that “blindly accepting” thing - even to scientific “evidence”.



The weight is verifiable, even to the limited degree of weighing it. It is not necessary for the verification to be absolutely accurate.

Let compare this,

A person can work out how far he has
to jump to get across a river without getting wet. He does not need to know the exact measurement of the river to be able to work this out. His experience of jumping and falling in the river a few times will help him verify just how far he has to jump. This is science. U do not need to know the full information for u to be able to work out the portion u do have is the truth. U do not need to work out the math for gravity for u to know that gravity is present. U drop a apple to verify it.

If the man didn’t test the distance by trying to jump across the river a few times, but assumed he could jump clean across the river ,then he is using not verification but faith.

How do u verify that an afterlife is life, using just ur limited knowledge of it? How do u work out that God exists? U can’t. U just have to assume that everything in a religion is true. There is no way whatsoever u can test it either by yourself or paying an expert to it for u. Hence u r accepting these beliefs on hearsay alone.

I can be 90% sure of something (that someone is telling the truth, based on my experience of that person, I can 30% sure of something (that global warming is true, based on my limited knowledge), but i cannot know to any percentage- that God exists and that he is actually the Christian God and not Zeus or something. That one I can only accept on faith alone.


I’m assuming you’ve seen the film the Matrix. Let’s apply those principles.

How do you know there a river there?

How do you know that you will get wet if you fall in it?

Heck, how do you know that what you’re holding is an apple? How do you know you’re holding it?

Ultimately whatever you say, I can ask a million questions about and it comes down to faith.

This isn’t an argument for God or whatever. It’s just an argument that even scientists have to have faith in some things to get “scientific evidence”



this is a philosophical issue and I don’t care for philosophy. I don’t care if i’m actually in bedroom typing this out or i’m imagining myself doing it.

Science and faith are not the same thing. Scientists uses various methods of finding proof for something, let’s say quantum mechanics. Gravity is proven - whether u believe in God, or gods or neither. U can run ur own tests to prove it (or not) to ur own satisfaction.

Likewise, as a mathematician I can create models to build a bridge and test the strength of the materials using my model. I know the model works because i have tested the materials that will be used to build the bridge in the lab and I have used the information to create my mathematical model. My model will generate numbers that I will use to build the bridge. This bridge will not fall down because I will factor in the nos of cars and people that will use the bridge, and weather conditions. The figures are verified from testing the actual materials for the bridge - this is proof that the model works and the bridge will hold.


I could build a bridge of plastic cups and have faith that it will be strong enough to take 500 cars and trucks going on it, and that the bridge can take a direct hit from a tornado.

Which bridge would u use?

And why?


Logical fallacy - Hasty Generalization


I suspect that if you get flamed it will be because you are asking a question that hundreds have asked before. So the answer is well-known and yet also well-ignored.

In short, theoretical physics is only accepted if it can be shown to be accurate. It must make predictions that can be tested and a theory can be demolished if one single, small piece of evidence points against it. The same things applied to day-to-day interactions, most of the time you can use common sense to determine the approximately validity of the claims or ask for proof. Sometimes you are presented with a claim where the truth is rather unimportant.

The writers of the paragraphs seem to believe that something can only be taken as true if you are personally there to verify it. If that were the case, then the majority of criminal cases could never be prosecuted. There is something called ‘circumstantial evidence’ and another called ‘reasonable doubt’. Due to the amount of things that we have observed and continue to observe, we know a lot (but not everything) about the past several billion years on this earth. We also have a good basic understanding of the working of the universe and can being to predict what will happen in the future on a large, general scale. We even have the ability to test some of the predictions without waiting for nature to do it for us. With all the evidence pointing to the correctness of our theories, how are we taking things on faith?

Now as to your religion, I have your word (which you admit is taken on heresy) and a book that heresy tells me is true and that I will be condemned to hellfire in the afterlife if I do not believe. How can I test the validity of your statements? Do you see a difference between this and what you mentioned above?


I came by my beliefs through logic, observable evidence and hearsay that corroborated those sources of knowledge. This applies to my religious, scientific, social, linguistic, aesthetic and other beliefs.
My faith has been corroborated by being rewarded, that is, by showing itself accurate through real-life tests. One thing that distinguishes religion from science is that the tests are not meant to be repeatable in religion, though some have stood the test of repeatability. You see, science is the study of nature’s “laws” or usual behavior. The supernatural is that which overrides those “laws”, or that which is less usual. In other words, that which doesn’t happen most of the time in this world.
But the source of information I have learned through extensive investigation to trust says this world (this universe) will pass away one day. Based on what I have experienced so far, I believe the universe really will entirely disappear one day. At that time, I hope, I will be in good shape to make it to the next one.
Faith need not be blind. It can be knowing.

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