“Common Sense Atheism” explained in one cartoon

by Luke Muehlhauser on November 11, 2010 in Funny

As previously explained, this is what I mean by “common sense atheism”:

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{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Young November 11, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Luke, one might feel that posting this cartoon on your website as the immediate subsequent post to the post on sophistry is somewhat ironic, and fitting.

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Luke Muehlhauser November 11, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Mike Young,

Do you think this post represents sophistry? If so, why?

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Mike aka MonolithTMA November 11, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Love it!

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bossmanham November 11, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Of course arguments could be given, such as if one God turns out to be reliable and has revealed that He is the only God, then all other Gods would be false from the get go.

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Brian Colquhoun November 11, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Of course arguments could be given, such as if one God turns out to be reliable and has revealed that He is the only God, then all other Gods would be false from the get go.  

How could you even demonstrate that this being was reliable? And how would you get this being to reveal itself in the first instance?

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Michael November 11, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Of course arguments could be given, such as if one God turns out to be reliable and has revealed that He is the only God, then all other Gods would be false from the get go.  <A class=comment_quote_link title="Click here or select text to quote comment" onmousedown

Why couldn’t that argument be made for every God? After all, if no actual evidence is required, just attach “is reliable and has revealed and has claimed to be the only God” as a property of Huitzilopocahlti, Sekhmet, Odin, Sabanhadra, Pepsicoketab, and so on.

Mental note: when I come out and claim to be God, make sure I claim to be the one and only God.

Now if a God actually revealed themselves and pretty much proved themselves as reliable and claimed to be The One, then adherents of Lakshmi would actually have a decent argument. But that hasn’t happened. Yet.

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Hermes November 11, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Bossmanham: Of course arguments could be given, such as if one God turns out to be reliable and has revealed that He is the only God, then all other Gods would be false from the get go.  

You are free to offer up the argument that most convinced you. Please do not provide an argument that you yourself were not convinced by personally before you arrived at your current theistic and religious beliefs.

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Bill Snedden November 11, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Luke, one might feel that posting this cartoon on your website as the immediate subsequent post to the post on sophistry is somewhat ironic, and fitting.  

Yes, one might feel that way…provided, of course, that one was ignorant of the definitions of “sophistry”, “ironic”, and “fitting”…

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Peter Hurford November 11, 2010 at 6:54 pm

The best (and probably only) argument I imagine a Christian theist would give is within the Bible — something along the lines that the Bible is more accurate and backed up by more evidence than whatever “Book of the Church of Gaming” states.

So the argument that disproves the Church of Gaming, but not Christianity, would be “There’s no evidence for your God, but the evidence which points to the credibility of the Bible proves our God”.

Of course, how can we know that the Bible is credible? That would end in a massive debate between the Christian and the non-Christian. I’m not saying this is a *good* argument, I’m just saying this is the best argument that I imagine a Christian could give.

If we’re not being particular to Christianity, replace “Bible” with any other allegedly inerrant holy book that reveals the true nature of God, replace “Christian” with the religion the holy book belongs to, and continue.

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Steven November 11, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Of course arguments could be given, such as if one God turns out to be reliable and has revealed that He is the only God, then all other Gods would be false from the get go.  

Not really. It could simply mean that this God is deluded into thinking there are or no other gods. This is why talking about revelations is to a great degree quite silly. Even if God does reveal himself, we have no way of verifying his/her/its supernatural powers or much of its mental state or anything about any other supernatural entities.

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Caleb O November 11, 2010 at 8:08 pm

The best (and probably only) argument I imagine a Christian theist would give is within the Bible — something along the lines that the Bible is more accurate and backed up by more evidence than whatever “Book of the Church of Gaming” states.So the argument that disproves the Church of Gaming, but not Christianity, would be “There’s no evidence for your God, but the evidence which points to the credibility of the Bible proves our God”.Of course, how can we know that the Bible is credible?That would end in a massive debate between the Christian and the non-Christian.I’m not saying this is a *good* argument, I’m just saying this is the best argument that I imagine a Christian could give.If we’re not being particular to Christianity, replace “Bible” with any other allegedly inerrant holy book that reveals the true nature of God, replace “Christian” with the religion the holy book belongs to, and continue.  

Yes I would agree that is the best, perhaps only argument for the truth of one religion. Doesn’t is seem odd that a perfect God would reveal himself (or not) through historical events?

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Holly November 11, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Everyone please stop arguing over who’s god is best, or even if there is a god, for I am god and I hereby resign. This job is just too damn hard. Everyone either wants something from me, blames something on me, and/or hides behind me. Go take responsibility for your own lives, help each other, follow the golden rule, and leave me out of your lives. : )

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Peter Hurford November 11, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Everyone please stop arguing over who’s god is best, or even if there is a god, for I am god and I hereby resign. This job is just too damn hard. Everyone either wants something from me,blames something on me, and/or hides behind me. Go take responsibility for your own lives, help each other, follow the golden rule, and leave me out of your lives.: )  

Well there’s no way one can *prove* you’re not God, so…

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Rob November 11, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Bill Snedden FTW.

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mojo.rhythm November 11, 2010 at 9:36 pm

If I was the priest I have replied: “my God has a bigger dick then your God!”

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Paul November 12, 2010 at 2:53 am

Whether or not the argument is sound is another thing but Christians have provided an argument that would disprove all religions but theirs-the resurrection argument. In that sense this cartoon is circular because it has within it the assumption that there are no such arguments.

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Paul November 12, 2010 at 2:59 am

Btw, you could argue, even without the resurrection why the “gaming gods” don’t exist. Namely, we know that this fellow intentionally made up his religion to mock other religions-an argument that can’t be used against other religions!

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Hermes November 12, 2010 at 6:02 am

Paul, it was revealed to the gammer that there are gaming gods. He is a prophet. Just like the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the Prophet Muhammad. If the result is that other religions are false or the followers of those religions feel mocked only shows that they don’t know the one true way of the Gammer Gods.

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Haecceitas November 12, 2010 at 6:41 am

Paul, it was revealed to the gammer that there are gaming gods.He is a prophet.Just like the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the Prophet Muhammad.If the result is that other religions are false or the followers of those religions feel mocked only shows that they don’t know the one true way of the Gammer Gods.  

Well, you can’t really comprehensively critique a religion that doesn’t actually exist, just on the basis of a short cartoon. But merely on the basis of the information contained in that cartoon, it does look like this was a religion made up by one of the characters just for parody/mockery purposes. So Paul’s point does seem very valid.

But discussions of this type are really a catch-22 for the theist side since some of the nontheist participants are genuinely under the impression that the implied argument about parity in terms of rational grounding between some actual form of theism such as Christianity and some made-up-for-parody-purposes-religion presented in some humorous context (cartoons of this type, the FSM website, or whatever) is really valid (and consequently, belief in Christianity is thought of as equally ridiculous as belief in the aforementioned parody religion) whereas others will react to serious criticisms of the argument with “you are taking this way too seriously, don’t you have a sense of humor?”.

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Hermes November 12, 2010 at 7:03 am

Haecceitas, agreed. I had a follow up post that (I guess) got trapped in the content filter where I expanded on my own short comments. Hopefully it will pop up soon.

In the case of Joseph Smith, who like Muhammad was largely illiterate, dictated the book of Mormon yet even people who witnessed the transcription thought it was a hoax. From memory, the wife of one of Smith’s followers took the first edition of the Book of Mormon and demanded that Smith repeat the performance so that she could check for any differences in the texts. Conveniently, the first edition was discredited and the second copy was considered authoritative as a point of dogma. The Mormon leadership are sensitive about these details and anything that brings into question the legitimacy of the Book of Mormon is vigorously challenged. For a humorous event, look up the “Salamander Letter” fraud/hoax.

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Haecceitas November 12, 2010 at 7:49 am

Yeah, Mormonism (along with Scientology) is one of those religions where the hoax explanation works best. In Muhamed’s case, I’d think that he more or less did believe what he preached, although some of his revelations were very convenient.

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Márcio November 12, 2010 at 7:56 am

If Jesus rise from the dead, then what He said is true, Christianity is the true religion and everything else is false. If He didn’t rise, He was a liar and Christianity is false.

I don’t know about other religions, but mine is falsifiable.

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nate November 12, 2010 at 8:27 am

What evidence is prossible to bring to the table that Jesus didn’t rise from that dead?

What about the fact that Christians die when poisoned, contra Mark 16:17-20? If you’re going to argue that those passages aren’t inspired, why are they included in the Bible?

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Bill Snedden November 12, 2010 at 8:51 am

Márcio:

If Jesus rise from the dead, then what He said is true, Christianity is the true religion and everything else is false.

Setting aside that Jesus’ resurrection doesn’t for one moment give us assurance to believe he would necessarily tell us the truth about himself, please provide the quote and reference of exactly where in the gospel Jesus tells us that Christianity is the only true religion.

I don’t know about other religions, but mine is falsifiable

Um…by what method?

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bossmanham November 12, 2010 at 9:04 am

Brian,

How could you even demonstrate that this being was reliable? And how would you get this being to reveal itself in the first instance?

You’d observe that He does what He says. Why would you think we get this being to reveal Himself?

Michael,

Why couldn’t that argument be made for every God?

You’d have to make sure they were reliable. But if the evidence already points to one God, and this God reveals Himself to be the only God, then it’s a moot point.

After all, if no actual evidence is required, just attach “is reliable and has revealed and has claimed to be the only God” as a property of Huitzilopocahlti, Sekhmet, Odin, Sabanhadra, Pepsicoketab, and so on.

Who said no evidence was required?

Hermes,

You are free to offer up the argument that most convinced you. Please do not provide an argument that you yourself were not convinced by personally before you arrived at your current theistic and religious beliefs.

Um, since when do you get to stack the deck with respect to what is and is not evidence?

Steven,

Not really. It could simply mean that this God is deluded into thinking there are or no other gods.

Not if we’re speaking of the traditional concept of God. If we’re not, then we’re speaking of something, but it isn’t God.

However, I suppose you could infer from continued trustworthiness that this God is always correct. But again, if this is God, then by definition He is always correct.

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Hermes November 12, 2010 at 9:36 am

Um, since when do you get to stack the deck with respect to what is and is not evidence?

My point: If some argument didn’t convince you, what use is it besides a sales gimmick?

What better than to address what you think is personally most convincing and skip the nonsense even you don’t gravitate towards?

I already assume — with justification — that you don’t have evidence or you’d offer evidence. If that was not true, you’d offer evidence. Don’t worry. I’m not asking for evidence as none is available.

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Reginald Selkirk November 12, 2010 at 1:35 pm

How could you even demonstrate that this being was reliable?

Well duh, because he said so! (snark)

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Steven November 12, 2010 at 4:16 pm

Steven,
Not if we’re speaking of the traditional concept of God. If we’re not, then we’re speaking of something, but it isn’t God.However, I suppose you could infer from continued trustworthiness that this God is always correct. But again, if this is God, then by definition He is always correct.  

Seeing how the traditional concept of God is based on this God’s supposed revelation to humanity, it doesn’t debunk my “deluded God” theory. Furthermore, saying that because God is consistently correct, he must always be right is like saying “I have never known myself to be wrong, therefore, whatever I believe must be right”. I hope I don’t have to point out the other flaws in your post’s logic…

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Márcio November 12, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Bill Snedden,

John 14:6 (New International Version)
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. ”

So no ones go to heaven without accepting Jesus as the son of God, lord and savior.

You can verify Christianity using normal historical and archeological investigation. Just like any other subject in history.

Mike Licona just released a book talking about this subject: “The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach.”

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Hermes November 12, 2010 at 6:11 pm

You can verify Christianity using normal historical and archeological investigation. Just like any other subject in history.

Márcio, keeping the cartoon in mind, give a specific example of that ‘verification’ that other religions could not give comparable or even superior examples of.

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Steven November 12, 2010 at 6:28 pm

You can verify Christianity using normal historical and archeological investigation. Just like any other subject in history.Mike Licona just released a book talking about this subject: “The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach.”  

So if I were to write a modern version of the story of Humpty Dumpty, and include real cities like London and New York City, and real historical figures and events, like George W. Bush and 9/11, the overwhelming historical and archeological evidence of my story would prove that Humpty Dumpty was real?

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Mike Young November 13, 2010 at 12:30 am

the reason why this qualifies as sophistry is fourfold. The first thing is that =the humour trades on an assumption that is clearly false, namely that the arguments in favour of a church of video games are going to be on the same level as something like the god of the religions in the photograph, and that any arguments against the gaming religion would work against monotheism. It seems clear enough that some kind of monotheism, which is used to explain why the entire universe exists =would be different then some sort of ad hoc gaming religion.
Second the cartoon is an obvious strawman. (I’ll let you figure out how)
Third, in all beliefs which one fights over there is some kind of assumption of good faith on the part of both participants. The reason that a mockery of religion (IE the church of the flying spagetti monster) is that the assumption of good faith is eshewed in favour of the mockery of the opponent, and that mockery is in every case (your comic and every other Atheist comic I have seen) little more then a poorly disguised strawman, or some joke which plays on the assumptions of the viewer.
It would be like me putting up a comic of an atheist saying:
“Magic is silly and everything has an explanation except that I believe the universe popped into being for no reason and without a cause.”
And then all my Christian friends had a laugh.
In other words, the comic reinforces the beliefs of the viewer in an illegitimate way while simultaneously insulting the opponent and doing away with good faith. Sounds like sophistry to me.

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Hermes November 13, 2010 at 3:14 am

The first thing is that =the humour trades on an assumption that is clearly false, namely that the arguments in favour of a church of video games are going to be on the same level as something like the god of the religions in the photograph, and that any arguments against the gaming religion would work against monotheism. It seems clear enough that some kind of monotheism, which is used to explain why the entire universe exists =would be different then some sort of ad hoc gaming religion.

Then make that argument and see how well it works. Don’t just assert your contention is ‘clearly’ different.

That’s the challenge, not you being insulted by the comparison.

That’s why the ‘from nothing’ comparison isn’t valid; nobody is making that argument on the non-theist side, but the comic is asking “Well, what do you got?”. If the reply is silence or an assertion that … ‘ha ha — but that doesn’t apply to my god because mine is special — haha’ … then you don’t understand what’s on the page. The comic isn’t putting words in your mouth, it’s saying you’ve got nothing to offer, right? It’s saying what I’ve said many times; show me.

But, your religion or even the generic monotheism category is different. Right?

Well … not to me.

But I’m ignorant of the subtilties of Christianity, right? Well, I’ve already read your religious text twice plus various talks with theologians, priests, and seminary students occasionally over the span of decades. Yet, the clam that is made is that if I only knew your religious text I’d see the light, so why not a third time? Let’s see the charm.

I’ve been going over Exodus and Leviticus and I’m not impressed with the difference between what’s in those sections of the Christian Bible and what I’ve seen in ritualistic societies of many kinds. You have read those sections, right? Spread the blood on the right side of the priest’s body, specifically the ear, the thumb, the big toe, … splash blood on the altar. Burn these parts, not those parts, of the specific type of animal. Here’s how your sin-caused leprosy can be dealt with … .

Yeah. Totally different. Like any composite Canaanite/Egyptian/Greek/folk/… religion, and similar to quite a few but not all folk and formal religions world wide.

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Bill Snedden November 13, 2010 at 6:05 am

Márcio:

John 14:6 (New International Version)
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. ”So no ones go to heaven without accepting Jesus as the son of God, lord and savior.

That only works if you can prove that by “me”, Jesus meant “Christianity”. Good luck with that. IOW, your eisegesis proves nothing. “Christianity” is certainly a valid interpretation of what Jesus said, but it’s just as certainly not the only possible interpretation.

You can verify Christianity using normal historical and archeological investigation. Just like any other subject in history.

Really? So archaeology can prove that Jesus rose from the dead? How exactly would that work?

Mike Licona just released a book talking about this subject: “The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach.”

You know, I’ve read some of Licona’s other stuff…color me unimpressed…

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Mike Young November 13, 2010 at 6:01 pm

Missing the point Hermes. Philosophy ought to be done slowly and carefully. Taking something really silly (IE the flying spagetti monsters) and then saying, the God of Judeo Christian Theism is relevantly smiler is dangerously irresponsible.
Second the i said “on the same level” i did not say anything about any of the argument being correct. notice that I said “the religion in the picture” and given that they disagree they can’t all be correct. But they all have two things (A) good faith (in the legal sense) and (B) a high level of strong and sophisticated reasoning. they may be false, but thats different. (if you dont see the difference then you CAN’T do philosophy.)

And YES the “from nothing” argument is an accurate comparison BECAUSE very few people on the non-theist side (save a few obscure philosophers) make that argument. that is the whole POINT of the example. For me to make the comment would be for me to straw man you. The last panel showing the theists with no answer is a straw man cause any theist can give agood response to that question (IE compare the spagette monster to my conception of God and we’ll see what happens)

P.S. If you have read the Cambridge Companion to Atheism, that exact argument (that the universe came from nothing for no reason) is actually posited by Quentin Smith as a better solution to the question of why the universe exists the WLC’s Kalam argument. So get your facts right.

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Steven November 13, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Mike Young:

Exactly how is the Christian God any less silly than the Flying Spaghetti Monster? He makes donkeys talk, people turn into pillars of salt, makes bushes burn and talk, asks people to castrate themselves, so on so forth. All the “sophisticated reasoning” that justifies this entities’ existence can be used just as effectively for the FSM.

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Hermes November 14, 2010 at 5:45 am

Mike, I’m going to be very blunt.

Missing the point Hermes. Philosophy ought to be done slowly and carefully. Taking something really silly (IE the flying spagetti monsters) and then saying, the God of Judeo Christian Theism is relevantly smiler is dangerously irresponsible.

It is precisely the point. To be absolutely clear;

I
take
Yahweh
&
company
*LESS*
seriously
than
many
other
sets
of
deities.

Yet, maybe your personal version of your set of deities is somehow different?

If it is, the question posed in the comic still applies and I’m just waiting on you to take it seriously. In the meantime, remember the blood goes on the right ear, the right thumb, and the right big toe.

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Hermes November 14, 2010 at 6:02 am

Re: Quentin Smith & nothing

I’ve heard that he wrote such a thing, but what I have seen from him doesn’t support that.

Do you have an extended quote — in context? Better yet a PDF or the text of the chapter on a web page where he writes about the topic?

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Hermes November 14, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Re: Quentin Smith & nothing

mojo.rhythm provided a link to the Cambridge Companion to Atheism. I’ll take a look and provide comments on that now that I am able to.

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Hermes November 14, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Mike Young, I did a cursory review of what Smith wrote and it seems to be that he is *not* advocating something from nothing. Instead, he differentiates between parts of a thing and existence of composite things. This seems similar to the case Scott Clifton gives when he ‘brings his fist into existence’ and then he ‘takes his fist out of existence’.

Is this your understanding as well?

If not, could you point me to a page, paragraph, or sentence where he says something along the lines of ‘something from nothing’ or some other case where the parts come from nothing?

* * *

If — and only if — it requires that I piece together a ‘from nothing’ claim by Smith by going through multiple parts of his document to get at an unstated conclusion, please provide a summary of how you traced through his document to arrive at that unstated conclusion.

For example, you could help me understand how you arrived at your conclusion about what Smith must be thinking by saying something like this;

‘Smith says X, then goes on to support X using Y & Z, therefor the only conclusion of that set of steps is that Smith thinks ______________________________________.’

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Hermes November 14, 2010 at 6:06 pm

Mojo.rhythm gave a link to a debate Smith spoke in where he said the following;

Now here, n being something over 0, now the “earlier than” line, now that would be either uncaused or caused by God, there’s nothing at all here. This is the beginning of universe, that first line, where all events are caused. And in fact, when Bill says that Hawking believes there is a singularity, he is incorrect on 2 accounts. First, Hawking used to believe that, in the 1960s and early 1970s, but all he was saying is that when we go back in time, we get to this mathematical representation of a limit, that we can never reach because it’s a contradiction. So the universe can’t be extended beyond that contradictory point because it doesn’t exist. But in his later theory, starting in 1983, he said the universe doesn’t go back to this abstract limit called the singularity. He said the universe goes back to a timeless 4-dimensional space that’s uncreated. So we have a timeless 4-dimensional space that’s uncreated on Hawking’s theory. There’s no need to create it, it has no beginning. And Bill’s basic argument is that everything that begins to exist needs a cause. Well, a timeless space, since it’s not in time, doesn’t begin to exist and needs no cause. [source]

And as for Bill’s final remarks, if atheists believe the universe is uncaused then it popped into existence. Well, I spent the whole night explaining this theory that says that the universe did not pop into existence without a cause. The universe does not have a cause. Everything in the universe has a cause. This didn’t pop into existence uncaused, it was caused by that. That didn’t pop into existence, it was caused by that. So there is nothing that lacks a cause and since everything is caused by some other part of the universe, there is nothing in the universe that lacks a cause, therefore there is nothing that needs God for its cause. [source]

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mojo.rhythm November 14, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Mike Young,

P.S. If you have read the Cambridge Companion to Atheism, that exact argument (that the universe came from nothing for no reason) is actually posited by Quentin Smith as a better solution to the question of why the universe exists the WLC’s Kalam argument. So get your facts right.

This is so not right that it isn’t even wrong. In the article that he published in that book (“Kalam Cosmological Arguments for Atheism”) he argues verbatim what Hermes has quoted in the post right above me.

Mike, before you even attempt to read between the lines of a scholarly article on the beginning of the universe, you’ve got to learn to read the lines!

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Hermes November 15, 2010 at 10:49 am

Mike Young, note that I am primarily interested in a response to the question posed by the comic if you have one. If you do not beyond dismissing the question as somehow inappropriate, that is fine though that seems to be the point of the comic; there are none and that is shocking or insulting for proponents of other non-gaming theistic religions.

Secondarily, acknowledging that you did not have the proper facts — that you mis-attributed to Smith what Smith did not say or intend — is a simple thing to do. In that instant you can claim for yourself what seems to be true; that the claim by theists that atheists think ‘the universe came from nothing’ is not true even for a single atheist that you are aware of.

Now, I don’t doubt that some atheist somewhere did not thoughtfully consider the facts they could investigate and instead they blurted out something similar to the ‘universe from nothing’ quote. People do say amazing things at times, and non-theists aren’t some uniform group with stated dogmas. That said, I’ve talked with and read plenty from non-theists over the years and never hears such a claim except in the case where ‘nothing’ really was ‘something’ (as seems to be the case with Smith).

The only time I hear the ‘universe from nothing’ claim is when it is being made by a theist about a non-theist or even more inaccurately directed towards different scientists that the theist disagrees with and wants to throw a divisive comment out about. It is a cheap distraction intended to be divisive when we should all be considering the best available evidence on the topics at hand not our preconceptions derived from what we wish or want or intuit or believe.

I’m perfectly happy to be corrected so that I can stop being wrong. That’s why I’m willing to look at claims that are backed by evidence and I appreciate your reference to the ‘universe from nothing’ claim and Smith’s document so that I am able to actually investigate that one possible instance.

To emphasize that last point, I’m not claiming you have no valid response to the comic or that you have no examples of non-theists saying the ‘universe came from nothing’. I am saying that I am unaware of either being supported by the best available evidence by a non-theist, though I will personally go with the best available evidence if it is unambiguously presented by you or someone else supporting one or both cases.

I think that rejecting claims that are unsupported or contradicted by the best available evidence is the best way to go. I’ve even said that is a moral responsibility in the same way that in the general case being honest is a moral responsibility and in the general case lying is a moral wrong. Are you with me on that?

Please take your time to respond if you think you have the better take on one or both points but still need to investigate the evidence or reformulate your ideas. I am completely patient. I will go with the best available evidence if I am aware of it and (if necessary) shown how it uniquely supports a particular conclusion.

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Mike Young November 15, 2010 at 2:22 pm

So, 7 posts in response to my one post. to mojo, and Hermes:
Lets be CLEAR about what I said, And let us parse this SLOWLY and CAREFULLY. I claimed the following:
“If you have read the Cambridge Companion to Atheism, that exact argument (that the universe came from nothing for no reason) is actually posited by Quentin Smith as a better solution to the question of why the universe exists the WLC’s Kalam argument. So get your facts right. ”

Smith does indeed do that. Now you seem to think he means something else. So just to get rid of your guys notion that he means something other then that the universe is uncaused from nothing lets show some irrefutable evidence.
In the book “Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang cosmology” Smith makes exactly the following claim : “the most reasonable belief is that we came from nothing, by nothing, and for nothing.”

Just so no one accuses me of taking smith out of context, Smith defended that quote to the Atheist alliance convention in minneapolis in 1996. He also gave another defense in 2007. Links to both of those defenses are here:
1. http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/quentin_smith/atheism.html

2. http://www.mukto-mona.com/science/physics/bigbang_no_help_smith.htm
So yes the quote is accurate and in context. Further smith mentions the quote, and an instance of Bill Craig using it against him, before he defends it. So yes, what I said about smith is entirely correct.

In fact, if you think that Smith thinks anything other then that the universe is uncaused from nothing then read the two articles I linked too and see for yourself. Smith is very, very clear about this. Further you said this Hermes:
“If — and only if — it requires that I piece together a ‘from nothing’ claim by Smith by going through multiple parts of his document to get at an unstated conclusion, please provide a summary of how you traced through his document to arrive at that unstated conclusion.”
The conclusion is not unstated, in fact it is stated in the quote that YOU gave:

“So we have a timeless 4-dimensional space that’s uncreated on Hawking’s theory. There’s no need to create it, it has no beginning. And Bill’s basic argument is that everything that begins to exist needs a cause. Well, a timeless space, since it’s not in time, doesn’t begin to exist and NEEDS NO CAUSE.”

Smith thinks that the universe has no cause. Clear as a bell.Want more, letslook at the second Smith quote you gave:
“Well, I spent the whole night explaining this theory that says that the universe did not pop into existence without a cause. The universe DOES NOT HAVE A CAUSE. Everything in the universe has a cause. ” (Emphasis mine)
Read that last line. Smith thinks the universe has no cause, none, zero zip, the things in the universe have a cause, but the universe itself does not. And that is in the quote YOU gave Hermes. You need to read SLOWLY and CAREFULLY. The universe for Smth is timeless, having no cause at all but still having a beginning (I know, its weird, but its what he thinks).

P.S. mojo.rhythem. I never read between the lines. If you had read the lines Smith wrote you would know that smith thinks that the universe has no cause and that its the things in the universe are cause and NOT the universe. Taking the line that Craig used against Richard Carrier in their debate and using it against me is not clever; especially when you’re the one who has not read the lines SLOWLY and CAREFULLY enough to understand what they mean, Mojo.

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Kyle Key November 15, 2010 at 2:39 pm

Am I missing something? “Uncaused” and “from (literal) nothing,” are not equivalent.

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Hermes November 15, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Kyle, no. No you are not. The addition of ‘uncaused’ seems superfluous if not worse and I’m currently untangling what Mike wrote to see if I can learn something or correct an error in my current thinking.

My first impression is that even if Smith wrote in 1995 and 1996 that he thought ‘the universe came from (literally) nothing’, that’s a bit dated but it would qualify as an example even if it no longer applies to Smith’s current thinking. Technically correct, but not very relevant.

As for the 2007 reference, I’ve already addressed it in the ‘God Did It’ is a Terrible Explanation thread when DZ was kind enough to provide the same link. Here’s my reply to DZ;

======================

DZ, thanks. I appreciate the links and the heads up.

Sincerely: I’m not so much interested in a Smith vs. Craig showdown or casual discussion, but Smith’s point of view. What Craig thinks of what atheists think (Smith or anyone else) is not very interesting. With that in mind, mentioning Craig’s involvement as little as possible becomes a bit of a struggle. Don’t get me wrong; I do appreciate knowing something I did not know. That said, I do have some comments that — if I’m missing the point — I would like your assistance in clarifying. If you don’t have additional resources or can’t otherwise help, don’t feel obliged. This is not a challenge to you. Thanks!

* * *

Comments;

I scanned through the text and didn’t find where Smith was advocating the position you had him quoting. It seems that Craig was quoting Smith who was commenting on Heidegger’s ideas.

Smith comments on what Craig wrote, saying;

In Craig’s and other theists’ causal principle, “cause” means something entirely different: it means creating material from nothingness. It is pure speculation that such a strange sort of causation is even possible, let alone even supported in our observations in our daily lives.

This seems that Smith is not advocating the idea that something from nothing was a valid option. He continues;

Is it nonetheless possible that God could have caused this universe? No. For the Wave Function of the Universe implies that there is a 95% probability that the universe came into existence uncaused.

This seems to me that Smith would bet on an uncaused source, not necessarily a literal nothing (unless you’re seeing that or Smith proposes that as nothing and that it does not need to be a a literal nothing but something akin to coming from a quantum vacuum).

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Hermes November 15, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Mike, I have a basic question. Why is cause/causeless relevant to the discussion?

I can see that it could be illustrative of some other related points, but not of the primary one.

I await your assistance in untangling this part of the discussion.

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mojo.rhythm November 15, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Mike!

*facepalm*

This link http://www.mukto-mona.com/science/physics/bigbang_no_help_smith.htm was based on a magazine article over 12 years ago you moron!

P.S. mojo.rhythem. I never read between the lines. If you had read the lines Smith wrote you would know that smith thinks that the universe has no cause and that its the things in the universe are cause and NOT the universe. Taking the line that Craig used against Richard Carrier in their debate and using it against me is not clever; especially when you’re the one who has not read the lines SLOWLY and CAREFULLY enough to understand what they mean, Mojo.

Mike there is a huge difference between something being caused by nothing and something being self-caused! I think you know this too. Quentin did not assert in the Cambridge Companion that the universe just popped into existence out of nothing.

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Hermes November 15, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Mojo, wow. I missed that myself and just took the 2007 publishing date as the date it was — well — first published. You’re right. Even the footnotes are ancient, and I should have remembered when you mentioned in the other thread;

“The second reason is that mukto-mona.com said it was published in the Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 18, Number 2. This volume of Free Inquiry magazine is over 12 years old.” [ Spring, 1998 ]

Shame on me for not keeping that in mind.

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mojo.rhythm November 15, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Hermes,

Yeah the whole article sent up red flags for me the moment I read it, it seemed too anachronistic to be a recent work of his. So I did a little digging.

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Hermes November 15, 2010 at 7:54 pm

I started to parse the following from Smith …

But in his later theory, starting in 1983, he said the universe doesn’t go back to this abstract limit called the singularity. He said the universe goes back to a timeless 4-dimensional space that’s uncreated. So we have a timeless 4-dimensional space that’s uncreated on Hawking’s theory. There’s no need to create it, it has no beginning. And Bill’s basic argument is that everything that begins to exist needs a cause. Well, a timeless space, since it’s not in time, doesn’t begin to exist and needs no cause.

… but just ended up rephrasing what he already wrote.

Help me out here Mike. Where is talk about uncaused/caused even needed? Smith has not stated he thinks the universe came from nothing but has talked about Hawking’s preference for a ‘timeless 4-dimensional space’ (not ‘nothing’) that the universe goes back to. Since time is a function of this universe, but not the timeless 4-dimensional space of Hawking, causes only kick in at or after the universe is already — well — rattling through the causal chain that is a function of time. So, it’s too late to cause the universe at that point.

Now, even if you reject my take on Smith’s take of Hawking’s description of reality, I don’t see where Smith is saying ‘something from nothing’. Smith could be speaking total gibberish or he could be making sense but still misrepresent Hawking completely, and yet Smith still isn’t saying ‘something from nothing’.

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Mike Young November 15, 2010 at 11:00 pm

It is relevant because it backs my point up. Second, mojo the dates are irrelevant. But maybe you could do this for me tell memwhat the quote I gave could mean other then the universe has noncause? His quote the the most reasonableexplanatiom is the universe camefrom nothing seems straight forward.third I will give a better exlanation tomorrow because injustnrwalized what a pain typing long things from an iPhone is

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Hermes November 16, 2010 at 6:12 am

It is relevant because it backs my point up.

*HOW* does it back up your point? Asserting it does without showing how tells me nothing.

Without that, you can’t reasonably extrapolate meaning — put words in Smith’s mouth — that he didn’t actually say.

You have to show that he intend ‘from nothing’ not just that you see it as a logical conclusion that he might have not noticed or understood based on your understanding of how things hang together.

To drive this home: If Smith was 5 years old, and he said he likes blue flavored lollypops, you can’t conclude that he intended to say he liked grape or blueberry or cottoncandy or even some mystery flavored lollypop with a funky taste. You can’t even say that ‘well, if it was dark Smith — since he really likes the rootbeer lollypop — he probably mistook the brown pop for a blue one and called it blue when he meant rootbeer’. Unless you are in the position to have him point to the ‘blue’ one without being forced to do so, you have to accept what he says unless you can show unambiguously that ‘blue flavored’ means what you say it means to Smith.

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Hermes November 16, 2010 at 6:15 am

Mike, this Smith thing is really a sideline.

Do you have an answer for the question posed by the comic? No is a perfectly fine answer.

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Mike Young November 16, 2010 at 11:13 pm
Mike Young November 16, 2010 at 11:27 pm

I was gonna just leave that vid up, but I think I should be more extensive.
So, what argument works against the FSM that doesnt work against Yahweh. Umm, The FSM is made of spaghetti, and spaghetti cannot be said to posses the properties attributed to the FSM without being totally ad hoc. That is the Chrsitian can give a reason that God is exempt from laws of physics the FSM defender can’t (but more on that in just a sec) Given what we know, and can prove, about physics, it is clear that spaghetti cannot be invisible, omnipotent, intentional etc. Now, you might try to preserve your parody in the following way:

1.”But christians ignore science with respect to x.” No, they don’t. That is a straw man with respect to any sophisticated arguments (like the ones I use).
What Christians argue is the God can, and does, from time to time bend or violate laws of physics, and as the creator of those laws, they are subject to him, he is not subject to the laws. To argue God must be subject to laws of physics is question begging against the Christian. you might then try to say the following:

2. “The FSM is also exempt from the laws of physics.”
To which I get to ask “On what grounds do you argue that some object that is made out of spaghetti is exempt from the laws of physics in a way that is not ad hoc.” Pay real careful attention to the NOT AD HOC bit. thats a huge huge deal. Simply asserting that there can be spaghetti with special powers is to not have spaghetti. We deffierentiate substances by their properties, and if the FSM has spaghetti with special powers then with it’ ain’t spaghettie or your being ad hoc
The Christian argues that God is some other substance (one might argue that he is immaterial but he need not. He could just say that he is some substance that is not atomic) and that all matter and energy came into existence at the moment of the big bang. Spaghetti is a material and is thus subject to laws of physics where God is not, and thus we have an arguemnt based on substance that Yahweh gets around that the FSM does not. If you want to say the FSM is on par with Yahweh, you need to be able to avoid my charge of being ad hoc and say that the FSM us either immaterial or made of some substance that is not atomic. But you of course, cannot use that because the entire reason that the FSM is a parody is because of the absurdity of attributing to a thing made out of spaghetti the things we attribute to God (IE Thoughts, goals, intentions, omnipotence, existing eternally). Once you say that the FSM is not made from spaghetti, you lose the thing which makes the parody work. The parody only works if you have a monster made of actual spaghetti because that is where the absurdity lies. If you say the the FSM is made from different kind of “immaterial spaghetti” then you still fail because at that point all you have done is taken the word “substance” from the term “Immaterial substance” and renamed it spaghetti to get “immaterial spaghetti”. (I could even ask why you call it spaghetti at all? how could an immaterial thing resemble spaghetti?) Here is the upshot: if the FSM aint made of spaghetti then its no longer a parody. All your doing at that point is taking God and giving him a silly name. In other words, once the Chrsitian tries to give arguements that work against the FSM that do not work against Yahweh, you need to change the FSM so that anti-FSM arguments fail, but the only way to fit the FSM into all the argumetns the Christian makes is tomake the FSM more like God. Make enough Changes and all you end up with is a description of God under the name “Flying Spaghetti Monster.”

Now, one last bit. You might say “there are not immaterial substances, so you can’t say God is made of them and that is the same as the objection against spaghetti being omnipotent.” So what. The point here is to find an argument at all that works against the FSM that does not work against Yahweh. Well, we found one and here it is: the FSM is made of spaghetti, and spaghetti can not be eternal, all powerful etc without being ad hoc. Simply asserting that the spghetti that makes up the FSM can have omnipotence without giving a reason is question begging, and asserting that the FSM is made of immaterial spaghetti simply replaces the word ‘substance’ with the word ‘spaghetti’ and removes from the FSM the very thing which makes it a parody. The argument against immaterial substance is very different from the argument that spaghetti cannot have intentions. And that is all I need.(BTW I dont grant the argument agaisnt immaterial substance, Im only saying that if I did, my point still stands in that I have an argument against FSM that fails against Yahweh)

Just in case you think “I can get around what Mike just said” go back and watch the vid I posted and if you watch the whole exchange (part 9/12 in the series on youtube) Wolpert drops the parody after Craigs remark. All parodies (yes all of them) die in this exact same way. You can try to rescue it, but don’t waste your breath because I dont have time to make you kill all your parodies through 1000 qualifications.
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Hermes November 17, 2010 at 2:45 am

Mike, thank you. I’ll provide a more detailed review of your latest a bit later. I can tell you have given this some thought, and I appreciate that.

That said, I recommend that you revisit your comments after you allow them to cool as I don’t think you will really want to go with much of what you’ve promoted and I can see already several layers of substantive modifications that you likely will make over the course of a few days.

If you do re-formulate your comments after considering the issues a bit more, I will be glad to go with the reformulation and ignore what you just posted so as to reduce the number of side issues we will have to discuss.

Once again, thank you.

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Hermes November 17, 2010 at 2:56 am

As a note, when discussing deities and other mythic entities I do not usually focus on any of the sciences. Most of my comments are based on traditional texts from a variety of sources as well as some logic.

Occasionally, I do note the findings of anthropology or some of the harder sciences, but in most cases it is not necessary even in the case of specific absurdities such as the Genesis world wide flood are promoted, though the sciences can add support to the claim that a world wide flood never happened.

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Hermes November 19, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Sorry for the delay. Life pulled me away from these discussions, and I probably won’t respond over the weekend.

If there is anyone who is interested in this thread, please *bump* it and I’ll try and do my part, time permitting.

If nobody responds I’ll consider this one dead for now and may not respond any more here.

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Hermes November 21, 2010 at 12:14 pm

OK, I’ll guess that nobody is reading this now.

FWIW, I’ll state two things briefly;

1. No evidence has been provided showing that Smith thinks that the universe came from an actual nothing. Even if a reference could be provided showing Smith or someone else says that they are both a non-theist and think that the universe came from an actual nothing, the difficulty in even finding such a person should show that it’s not a very popular idea. As such, there’s no justification of tagging all non-theists with an idea that by consensus they do not accept. It’s cheap rhetoric.

2. The examples given by Mike Young in his last post actually do apply between different religions and are incompatible only in a very narrow sense based on dogmatic claims of one group or another. Similar claims could be used as replacements easily. Additionally, I don’t agree that the chain of possible arguments is similar to anything I would actually say, as such what Mike presents is not accurate and I would appreciate not having words being atributed to me that I did not say. Kinda like the problem in #1 with theists who say non-theists make claims that they do not make.

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Mike Young November 22, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Smith says it himself very clearly: the universe is uncaused, and each state of the universe is caused by some other state of the universe. Each state is caused by a previous state but the state series taken as a whole has no cause. Yes, it weird, but it is what he thinks. Read him closely (Richard Gayle, and atheist philosopher, called him on it at a veritas forum with Dr. Craig and Alvin plantinga) and you will see this is what he thinks. People want to think he means something else but he doesn’t. Individual states of the universe have a cause, the universe as a whole does not and he means that. He really does.

I was not attributing words to you. I was taking an example of a parody argument everyone is familiar with, and seeing what happens if we compare it to the monotheism most theists (but not all) ascribe to in North America (IE Christianity Judaism or slam). If you watched the video I posted you would see Dr. Craig go through exactly the same argument chain with Lewis Wolpert. The point is, of course, that the arguments used to defend Christianity at a high (graduate school, Phd) level cannot be used to defend Flying Spaghetti monsters, Magic computers, or video Game Gods. If you try it, you will end up qualifying the meaning out of your parody or changing your monster into God by another name. If you think I am wrong, try it and I will show how the argument is either A) not used to defend God or B) cannot be used to defend an FSM. Just a fact. Sorry.

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Hermes November 22, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Briefer;

1. So, on a specific issue, Smith does not make the claim that the universe came from nothing? I agree, and I am glad to drop that one.

If this is not what you meant, then your option is to quote Smith on what Smith himself thinks, ideally Smith saying ‘I think the universe came from an actual nothing and here’s why’. I’m not interested in someone commenting on Smith or Smith commenting on someone else. We’ve done that a few times already.

2. I wasn’t commenting on Craig’s parody. I was commenting on several unique differences you noted and that they actually do apply to other deities.

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Peculiar November 19, 2011 at 10:10 pm

I guess and empty tomb isn’t enough.

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