An Exchange with a Naturalist
The radical monotheists are the true skeptics. When the majority believes in many gods, they believed in one. When the majority is atheistic, they continue to believe in one true God. The human impulse is to deny the true God because of the tremendous tension it bring into existence. Mankind escapes the tension by creating false gods or denying the existence of God. Both are forms of escapism from the true God. Lyle Duell
The following is a reply to my article “Does God Exist?” by an atheist and in turn my reply to him. The article was forwarded to him by a friend. I never engaged him personally in correspondence.
Unbeliever to my Friend:
He (Lyle) states that there is some form of religion, be it shamanism, ancestor worship, etc., in every group of people everywhere in the world. I and most rational people accept this to be true based on years of observation and exploration of even the most remote areas of this planet. All cultures have faith or religion. They all have a sense of right and wrong. They all have a sense of fairness. The question is: What explains this best? Is it the God hypothesis or the naturalist hypothesis? Just to say the condition exists says nothing.
Your friend is right. However, I believe it is more reasonable to expect to find a world filled with morality and faith if you start with a moral God hypothesis rather than a naturalist hypothesis that believes the world is an accident created by irrational and amoral causes. The latter would only seem rational to a person who is irrational or has accepted on faith the dogmas of naturalism. Naturalism is a philosophy, which taken to its logical conclusions, would deny reason, on which it claims to be based. Can you really trust a mind that was formed by a mindless process of natural selection alone? Is it reasonable to believe that reason was created by an unreasonable force or cause?
Though the presence of universal faith and morality does not prove the existence of God, it is exactly what you would expect to find if a moral consciousness (God) had directed the process of the creation of the world.
Moreover, the naturalists have a hard time demonstrating why this spiritual consciousness and morality evolved equally in all humans throughout the world in the same time frame. This phenomenon seems to fit the ideal of revelation more than a naturalistic causation.
Unbeliever to my Friend:
It is here that Mr. Duell misses the mark and uses faulty logic. This does not prove that God is self-evident.
I did not say it proves the existence of God or that He is self-evident. However, it is consistent with a God hypothesis. You cannot prove a self-evident truth to anyone who is dead to it, for the conditioning of his ideology and his disposition keeps him from seeing the truth. These people’s perception has been so distorted by false ideology it would take more than evidence to convince them. You cannot cure blindness with an argument.
Unbeliever to Lyle’s Friend:
It (the existence of religion and morality) merely proves that we are all human and think basically alike.
You have stated the facts correctly, but the facts in themselves do not answer the question of why. Why are we basically alike when it comes to morality and religion? You attempt to answer the question with a narrative or a story of history, which you admit you cannot prove. So in essence, you did not answer the question of why. You attempt to answer a why question with a how answer, which is simply begging the question. The truth is that your atheistic worldview cannot answer the question of why things are the way they are and not some other way. In contrast, the theistic worldview simply says that all men were created in the image of God and therefore inherited his natural characteristics and tendencies from God. Moreover, your how answer cannot even answer the how question, because it is based on assumptions and speculation with fragmented and thin evidence and no proof. So, in the end you must admit that your position is held by faith.
It seems if your thinking is correct, we would think alike on everything; however when we look at humanity we are divided on just about everything. We cannot carry on a conversation with another human but for a few minutes before we start disagreeing. Why do all humans think the same about things like faithfulness, compassion, justice, and retribution if these concepts were created by mindless evolution? And why did all the cultures evolve equally in the same time frame, having all these basic moral elements in them? If evolution is not directed by a consciousness, why did all the cultures in the world develop civilizations with the same basic morality in the same time frame?
Man did not evolve with long teeth, sharp fangs, great strength, or great speed compared to other animals. Our secret weapon was to evolve a problem solving brain to better cope and increase our chance to survive as a species.
One downside of a problem solving, thinking brain is that it is always thinking and trying to solve problems or riddles. Think of it as exercising our weapon to make it better, like young animals play-fighting, or cats mindlessly sharpening their claws. When there is no problem to solve, we invent one. Just consider the number of games and puzzles we have created to amuse ourselves.
When early humans finally evolved this thinking, self-aware brain, they found that they were in an unfriendly, hostile world and likely feeling frightened and vulnerable and unable to explain the mysteries all around them. After witnessing events like lightning and volcanoes, it would seem likely that they would attribute these and other events to creatures much more powerful then themselves, even if these creatures were invisible to them Everywhere on the planet, it is only human to want to improve one’s lot and chances for survival in this world. What better way to gain some small sense of control than to beseech these powerful beings with offerings and rituals. Thus religion is born out of our own frailty and need for our thinking brains to find some way to influence the forces that seem to be against them. The small odds that things went their way could only reinforce their belief systems because the only other option was to admit that they have no control over their environment or elemental forces at work. Admitting that would be too darn scary, so the belief in supernatural forces would continue until a time when science would begin to answer the mysteries of thunder and flash floods and slowly erode the need for religion.
Today we are in this period of science eroding the need for religion. The older the country and more educated, the faster the population is turning away from the religious view of the world. In the countries of central Europe, including Italy, the churches have lost so many members that the government has had to step in to preserve the great historical church buildings because there are not enough members to pay the bills. In Germany, if you do not belong and contribute to a church, the state will make you pay a special tax for their upkeep, and still the numbers are declining. In general, the only countries where religion still flourishes are those with extreme poverty because their population is still looking for some small bit of control over their destiny.
How could man survive long enough without long teeth, sharp fangs, great strength or great speed, to develop reason? Reason would be, by its very nature, the last characteristic for evolution to produce and yet the naturalist must postulate that it was the first. It seems quite reasonable to believe that man must have developed reasoning more rapidly than evolution could explain.
Science is about distance and measurement. Religion is about meaning and purpose. If this is true how could science erode religion? The reason religion is eroding has little to do with science. Religion is declining mainly because of its abuse of authority and the time that it takes to learn it sufficiently to experience its benefits. This does not set well with a culture that wants instant gratification and results. Moreover, the same erosion we see in organized religion is happening in all civic organizations, government, and even science. These social phenomena are difficult to understand and have more to do with a decline in civilization than the progress of science, e.g., the decline of the family and human relationships in general. People’s respect for science has been on a big decline for the last three decades because of its unfulfilled promises and its embellished claims. This is especially true as government co-ops science and pseudoscience to further its agenda as in communist countries.
Now you may ask me how I know all this to be true, as I was not there to witness it. Well, I could say the same to you about your beliefs. Given what we really know as facts after all these thousands of years, what scenario seems the most plausible? Do we finally accept science or do we continue to believe in magic and invisible beings?
You can continue to believe in the veracity of a collection of well-known stories finally written down by desert dwellers during the Bronze Age if you choose to.
You know it is true because you accept it by faith. Everything you claim and believe about ancient man is prehistory, i.e., before any written history. I personally see no conflict between real science and religion. The problem comes in when you mix up theories with facts and history with fiction. Moreover, the people of faith that I know do not believe in magic. However, they do believe that there are things that exist, which we cannot see, and I do believe that science believes in a lot of things they cannot see. If you do not believe me, read a good book on theoretical physics.
A note to my Friend
Your friend’s argument is nothing but a tall tale that naturalists have been spinning for a hundreds of years. It is nothing but a narrative put together with little or no evidence. All of it seems plausible only because people have been indoctrinated with it in our school system and universities. Remember, the interpretation is not the observation. They have observed none of the so-called facts of their tale. Yet, they call it science. The conclusion is not the data. The explanation is not the evidence. A narrative like you friend spun proves nothing other than he has a story to tell. It says nothing as to whether or not the story is true. To prove the story takes facts, which the atheist and naturalist does not have and will never have because they are talking about things that are prehistoric. That is before history was recorded. Your friend seems to sense this but is too arrogant to refrain from spinning a yarn whether true or not. You should learn to ask people the question that God asked Adam: “Who told you that?” If you asked your friend that question, and if he were honest, he would have to admit that he got it off some atheistic website or from some college professor, most likely a non-scientist. And where did they get it from? (Note: footnote for more on the tall tale of naturalism.)
To postulate that early man was brutish has nothing to do with the debate on the existence of God. No theist whom I know would maintain that ancient humankind was in general intellectual and civilized. Even today many men are uneducated and uncivilized if left to themselves. However, the brutish picture that modern man paints of ancient man is questionable and equally unknowable. It is a red herring that has little to do with the question, “Does God exist?” Yet the tall tale represents the fallacious arguments and quibbles made by atheists.
Isn’t it curious how the religion seem so slow to change, even in the face of so many facts,
while scientists and atheists would change and believe in a heartbeat if given a single verifiable fact.
Science does not solely deal with facts; it deals with theories about the facts. If you have noticed, the older a science gets the fewer new theories it has. When it runs the course of easy questions, it will slow down. I am not sure, but it seems that your friend and many other people believe that science has facts that disprove the existence of God. If so, he is wrong. The truth is they have no facts that disprove the existence of God and atheists do not have a good argument against the existence of God. The best they have is the tall tale. What he does have is a high opinion of himself.
It is the way of science to change instantly when new facts are presented, instead of pining for the old ways.
It is obvious this man has not studied the history of science. Whether intentional or not, what he said is a bald-faced lie. It often takes decades or even centuries for science to change its theories. The string theory, for example, has been in style for about 75 years and it’s just recently being set aside by many scientists. Science also hangs onto working theories for a long time even when it knows that it is wrong because it works well in the models that it has created.
I can’t believe I wasted another afternoon responding to this article. Neither you nor your friend is likely to be influenced by it, but feel free to pass it along to him. All that has transpired here is the wasting of my time, and as you know, without a warm fuzzy heaven to look forward to, time is all the more precious to me.
Don’t expect any but the tersest responses in the future, if any on religious matters.
Yours in music,
The Tall Tale
Unbelievers of all types typically use a short naturalistic narrative to undermine belief in God. By narrative I mean a short history of the evolution of culture and humanity. They accomplish this by first running a series of statements about prehistoric earth and man, which creates an unflattering picture of early mankind. The thing that is neglected in their narrative is the fact that most of statements are not based on facts but assumptions with very thin evidence to back them up. These assumptions have four sources: their blind faith in progressive evolution, the concept of progress, a good imagination, and of course the indoctrination of our universities.
One of the biggest problems with this picture is that an informed naturalist believes in evolution, but not progressive evolution. Progressive evolution is rejected by knowledgeable naturalists because it leaves the door open for intelligent design and the existence of God. Therefore, in their thinking, progressive or directed, evolution must be rejected. However, they continue to tell the tall tale as history based on progressive evolution to prove their assumption that there is no God. In this, they borrow from the believer the theory of intelligent design to prove the point that there is no design. In this, they tell a tale that is based on the foundation of progressive evolution, which they believe is not true.
In actuality, when they tell the tall tale, all they are doing is rehearsing a naturist world view or system, while offering no evidence for it and assuming that it is true. Neither do they inform their hearers of the massive number of pages that are missing in their story. Nor do they inform people that the story was created before there was one bit of evidence for it, which means it was not founded on scientific evidence but assumption and a good imagination. Darwin himself admitted that he had no evidence for his theory. Of course, the theory was floating around before Darwin put it into print.
Because the naturalist believes there is only one possible narrative to explain everything, every new fact is forced to fit the tall tale. If they cannot be squeezed into their narrative, they are simply labeled anomalies and set aside.
If there was no evidence for it, where did tall tale come from? Is it a self-evident truth? The problem with that is that those folks that promoted it do not believe in self-evident truth. Of course, the truth is that it is a construct of their imagination. In this, the system or narrative itself becomes the evidence for the system. In other words, if I can build a system, the truth of its premise is thereby established by the system I have created. The possibility that I can build a system on a false premise is ignored. The system is justified by the fact of its construction. They can get away with this story telling only because of the conditioning of the audience, which has been feed a steady diet of it in the school system and in the media. The myth becomes reality in their minds.