In the link presented in the previous post, Eric Kemp argues in length why science and, well, reality itself – is a problem for atheism.
Eric starts off with a nice quote by Bertrand Russell, completely ignoring the fact that Russell is not “the prophet of atheism”, his opinions do not in any way define the opinion of all or of any atheist. I guess that as a member of a death cult that puts a magical godlike human (that would be Jesus Christ), there is some disposition in Eric to assume that all “followers of atheism” (a ridiculous idea by itself!) would follow the words of “one atheist prophet”.
Well, sorry, Eric, I’m an atheist, and I didn’t go to “Atheist church” to become one. I just read a few books. It’s a lot easier (and cheaper) than getting seminary indoctrination.
In any event, Eric writes and quotes Russell as follows:
The universe came about by random forces. In fact, randomness can be the only thing that is assuredly true about the universe. The famous atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell put it:
“Academic philophers, ever since the time of Permenides, have believed that the world is unity . . . The most fundamental of my intellectual beliefs is that this is rubbish. I think the universe is all spots and jumps, without any unity, without continuity, without coherence or orderliness . . . Indeed there is little but prejudice and habit to be said for the view that there is a world at all.” (The Scientific Outlook, pg. 98 )
Let’s suppose, for a minute, that Eric is correct. Bertrand Russell, or as we Atheists call him: “The Man”, believed that the universe was created by random forces. Okay, what of it? I don’t know much about Bertrand Russell. I gained my atheism without reading a single word he wrote. I just adopted a way of thinking that works in the real world – the scientific method. That said, I have never given randomness the revere that Eric casually attributes to me (and my fellow “atheist kin”!).
The only way I distinguish between randomness and causality is, well, as anyone who is sensible, atheist or not, does: it’s called “statistics”. And even before I learnt some formal statistics on my own (I’m actually only going to start doing a formal course in statistics this semester, so you could say that I have no “formal training” in it yet). But I digress.
In any event, I did learn about probability and chance. I know that certainty of causal connections between correlated events has to do with strong correlation. After a certain, and somewhat subjective “line in the sand” has been reached, correlated events become causally connected. If I drop a hundred apples and a hundred of them fall, then the fact that there’s a 100% correlation between dropping apples and apples falling leads me to believe that there’s a causal link between the two.
Now, regarding the universe, now we’re talking about a much simpler scenario. Since we’re only dealing (I mean us so darn-empiricist atheists) with visible events, let’s take a look at the event “the creation of the cosmos”.
No one was there during the creation of the cosmos, of course. But it is quite evident, since we all live in the universe, that the universe is here. Thus, as far as I’m concerned, the probability of the creation of the universe is 100%. It happened, either by creation by a God/Gods that hasn’t revealed himself (and has given me no reason to believe in Him/Her/Them) or by an accidental cosmic fart by some great majestic cosmic being that likes to play darts and sometimes has universes as flatulence.
In any event, the existence of the universe is proof that it didn’t come here by chance because, well, it’sout of all the universes that could have been created (one), there’s one visible that’s been created. That’s a 100% success rate for our universe. Go universe! /sarcasm (Yeah, this is just a joke, I know that this paragraph is pure bullshit :-P)
The important thing here is that Eric seems to misuse the term chance or to abuse it by not defining it well. Since the only thing we can do as far as statistics is concerned is use all the instances of universes created we’re able to spot (i.e, 1) and all the instances in which it could not (i.e, 0) – then we can assume that there’s 100% probability of the universe being created. That’s the only way you can use the term “chance”, and the reason I never used it this way is because it’s a ridiculous, stupid, pointless way of using it. It doesn’t offer any interesting insights about the universe. It also goes to show that I believe in the exact opposite of what Eric is talking about. Don’t let the Atheist inquisition know.
No, seriously, now. I can’t say and I refuse to say that the universe was or is a product of random chance or some divine or even a natural cause. I simply don’t know and this fact, in no way whatsoever, prevents me from being an atheist. Since any Abrahamic God failed to present itself, I can with 100% safety deny any of their existences. Of some unknown, un-identified cosmic creator puffing the universe into existence and leaving no observable traces of his existence – there can be only denial until this entity shows itself. The only thing I need in order to be an atheist is the lack of evidence for any God or Gods. I don’t need randomness and I don’t need “Cause”. This makes Eric’s entire post completely meaningless, as it attacks a ridiculous strawman.
The reason atheists (of the scientific inclination, anyway) believe in natural laws is because natural laws have been observed and are self-consistent. A lot more that can be said about any sky-fairy conjured by desert-tribes thousands of years ago. Or for that matter, Urban Greek scholars even more than 2000 years ago. None of these myths are consistent in any other way except for a plagiaristic kind of way. The natural truth, however, has always been consistent. Every single ancestor of mine may have never met any single ancestor of some Yang guy living in China as the 200th generation of his line. Every single one of us believed that the sun existed because it consistently presented itself every morning.
And such consistency is all I need to “believe” in science, and the lack of which is all I need to discredit any God.