Monday, January 10, 2011

The A word

So I was feeling a little masochistic and checked out conservapedia again... yeah I know. But this time I came across their article causes of atheism which can be found here just to see that I have copied everything verbatum. So enjoy the debunking of the causes of atheism:

There are a number of reasonable explanations for the causes of atheism:
  • Moral depravity: The history of the atheist community and various studies concerning the atheist community point to moral depravity being a causal factor for atheism. In addition, there is the historical matter of deceit being used in a major way to propagate atheism from the time of Charles Darwin onward. Also, Bible exegesis points to the moral depravity of atheists. Moral depravity is certainly one of the prime causes of atheism. Francis Thompson wrote: "Maybe the atheist cannot find God for the same reason a thief cannot find a policeman."
So are you saying that Atheists are atheists because we want to and that we are all immoral? Wow... that's just.. wow. Even considering that in prison populations there are much fewer atheists than would be expected given the general population (see here ). I would suggest that Christans and other religious individuals with deities that forgive are less moral because they can ask for forgiveness and get it as well as go to heaven. Atheists, on the other hand, know that their actions have consequences and that there is nothing to absolve us of our mistakes, and most do not believe in an afterlife either, which means that this life is all we have and we have to make the best of it. So morality doesn't come from God, it comes despite God.

  • Atheistic upbringing. However, according to recent research by the Pew Forum Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, in the United States, a majority of those surveyed who were raised in atheist or agnostic households, or where there was no specific religious attachment, later chose to join a religious faith. A notable example, of a person raised in a atheistic household who later became a Christian is William J. Murray. Mr. Murray was raised by Madalyn Murray O'Hair who founded the organization American Atheists. In addition, Christianity is experiencing rapid growth in atheistic communist China and has experienced rapid growth in former communist countries.
Now I could have sworn that Christians raise Christians, Muslims raise Muslims and so on. Now I have heard stories of people raised atheist and turned to some kind of religion. However, I have heard many more stories of people raised in religious households who become atheists. I don't know what their reasons are, everyone is different and does things for their own reason. However, I will admit that in a population where less than 10% of the population self identifies as Atheist while 80% identify as Christian you are not likely to come across many atheist to christian stories, and will come across many more christian to atheist stories. You can also change faiths, I know through my life before becoming an atheist I tried many different flavors of Christianity, and even checked out Buddhism, Wicca and some non-traditional pagan beliefs. So the fact that people switch back and forth isn't really a reason for anything. I also cannot confirm the information that they site about the majority of atheists becoming religious which makes me suspect.
  • Rebellion: Atheism stems from a deliberate choice to ignore the reality of God's existence Dinesh D'Souza declared: "Look at Satan's reason for rebelling against God. It's not that he doesn't recognize that God is greater than he is. He does. It's just that he doesn't want to play by anybody else's rules. This idea that it is better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven is Satan's motto, and it turns out that this is also the motto of contemporary atheists such as Christopher Hitchens."
I really am not going to go on a tirade about this, but it should be needless to say that it is impossible to rebel against something that you don't believe in. It's like saying Wiccans worship the devil... the devil is not part of their dogma, but people believe that is what they are doing. Atheists don't believe in the dogma of any religion therefore it is hard to rebel against it. It would be like saying Christians don't believe in Krishna, therefore they are rebelling against him. See how silly that sounds?
  • Naiveté/Gullibility: Many atheists have embraced a number of far fetched, unworkable, and errant notions and ideologies such as communism, abiogenesis, and evolution despite abundant evidence of their falsity. 
As opposed to what exactly? Does abiogenesis make more or less sense then the stories of creation? Here I am talking about the two naked people in a garden and a talking snake... which seems more unlikely; that God spoke everything into existence or that over billions of years life formed and evolved? Well we have seen evolution in action (see my creation vs evolution post) but we haven't seen anything created from "nothing". As for abiogenesis.... that is not really my field of expertise (me preforming academic honesty) from what I understand a Nobel prize was awarded to a biologist who recreated a very possible abiogenesis event. I'm not going to touch on communism... because as a political ideology it isn't something that can be proven or disproven.  
  • Irrational thinking: As noted earlier, a comprehensive study by Baylor University found that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians. Also, as noted above, a 1980 study published in the magazine Skeptical Inquirer found irreligious college students to be by far the most likely to embrace paranormal beliefs, while born again Christian college students were found to be the least likely.
Actually, more often than not atheists are more likely to be skeptical of outrageous claims. People who may not belong to a particular religion, or a religion without a deity may be likely to take part in these paranormal beliefs. It is also important to note the language used in this article... irreligious, meaning without a religion, not without a god... just thought I would point that out. And aren't the born again Christians believers in things like faith healing, resurrection of the dead, and turning water into wine? So I guess my problem is what constitutes a paranormal belief. It is defined as something which lies outside the natural world and cannot be tested by science, which is the same as religious claims. 
  • Superficiality: Noted ex-atheist and psychologist Dr. Paul Vitz has stated that he had superficial reasons for becoming an atheist such as the desire to be accepted by his Stanford University professors who were united in disbelief regarding God.
Well there are plenty of scientists who do believe in God, such as Dr. Robert Bakker and many more... religious beliefs are not applicable on whether or not you get a job in Canada or in the U.S. as for wanting to be accepted by a peer group? Well if Dr. Paul Vitz became an atheist to be accepted by his peers then he probably wasn't much of a believer to begin with. I know that my peer group is varied religiously and not one of them has a desire to become an atheist just to be my friend, nor do I have a desire to convert to their religions to get a long with them... we respect each others positions and don't preach to one another, and that is how people should get along, but that is just my opinion. 
  • Error: Some argue that atheism partly stems from a failure to fairly and judiciously consider the facts
It seems to me that atheism comes from a near full evaluation of the facts. Such as is there historical evidence for the events in the Bible which are not dependent on the Bible? No. You would think that with all the things that happened in those books more than 12 people would have written about it. Take for instance the slaves leaving Egypt. There is no evidence that Egypt ever had slaves, the workman's village for both the pyramids and the valley of the kings, and both display that the residents were literate... which would not have been the case if they were slaves. There are many other examples... but Egypt is what I am most familiar with.
  • State churches: In regards to the causes of atheism, rates of atheism are much higher in countries with a state sanctioned religion (such as many European countries), and lower in states without a sanctioned religion (such as the United States). Some argue this is because state churches become bloated, corrupt, and/or out of touch with the religious intuitions of the population, while churches independent of the state are leaner and more adaptable. It is important to distinguish "state-sanctioned churches," where participation is voluntary, from "state-mandated churches" (such as Saudi Arabia) with much lower atheism rates because publicly admitted atheism is punishable by death.
Ding Ding! They got one right!  
  • Self-deception
I'm not really sure where they are going with this. Are they saying that all atheists are deluded? Or that they have deceived themselves by looking for the evidence of God and found none? Or because we don't believe extraordinary claims without evidence are we deluded? I really don't know...
  • Satanic deception
Wow... they really went there? Um... ok. So you don't just have a problem with atheists, you have a problem with non-Christians. How about instead of calling you crazy I ask for evidence of this Satan? How can you prove that there is a Satan without relying on the bible or things you don't understand? There is exactly as much testable proof for Satan as there is for God which is none. Sorry.
  • Poor relationship with father: Some argue that a troubled/non-existent relationship with a father may influence one of the causes of atheism. Dr. Paul Vitz wrote a book entitled Faith of the Fatherless in which he points out that after studying the lives of more than a dozen leading atheists he found that a large majority of them had a father who was present but weak, present but abusive, or absent. Dr. Vitz also examined the lives of prominent theists who were contemporaneous to their atheist counterparts and from the same culture and in every instance these prominent theists had a good relationship with his father. Dr. Vitz has also stated other common factors he observed in the leading atheists he profiled: they were all intelligent and arrogant.
Alright... you are citing daddy issues for atheism... just want to be sure. Well I am a bad example for this because I do have a bad relationship with my father, and so do many atheists as well as theists. In fact I would be willing to bet that more theists have father issues than atheists, what makes me sure of this? Stats... again if the atheist population is less than 10% and the Christian population is 80%... well... do the math. However, my fiance is also an atheist, and he has a very good relationship with his father, and they are partners in a business together. I get the argument that they are trying to make here, a poor relationship with your earthly father means a poor relationship with your heavenly father... but that doesn't seem to hold up. It makes sense to me that if someone has father issues then they might be more likely to seek comfort in their heavenly father... but that is just me. As for the comment about leading atheists being intelligent but arrogant... 1) I think that they are quite intelligent to. 2) What is more arrogant than claiming that you know everything, because they don't.  
  •  Division in religion: According to Francis Bacon, atheism is caused by "divisions in religion, if they be many; for any one main division addeth zeal to both sides, but many divisions introduce atheism."
Well it is not easy to take a religion seriously when it's followers cannot even agree on how to interpret something which should be universal truth. I would seriously pay to watch a Catholic and a Protestant debate about how the bible should be interpreted.
  • Learned times, peace, and prosperity: Francis Bacon argued that atheism was partly caused by "Learned times, specially with peace and prosperity; for troubles and adversities do more bow men’s minds to religion." Jewish columnist Dennis Prager has stated that one of the causes of atheism is the "secular indoctrination of a generation." Prager stated that "From elementary school through graduate school, only one way of looking at the world – the secular – is presented. The typical individual in the Western world receives as secular an indoctrination as the typical European received a religious one in the Middle Ages." In addition, in communist countries (such as the former Soviet Union) atheistic indoctrination occurred in the educational system through such venues as schools, atheist museums, and clubs. Atheists and secularists rarely point out that universities such as Harvard, Princeton, Oxford, Cambridge, and many others were founded by Christians.
Ok? I'm not sure where they are going with this. Are they implying that students who learn scientific inquiry are less likely to believe in god when they apply those methods to their beliefs? Well I don't see a problem with that. Especially when the alternative is ignorance and less professionals in fields where we really need them. To add to this that when things are good people don't feel a need to appeal to a deity and when things are bad people will... are they saying that they would prefer another recession or even depression to people become desperate enough to appeal to a deity? Well I want no part of that. As for that last point about the leading schools being founded by Christians, no one will deny that, but two of those schools are in a country where there is a separation of church and state, and it is also important to mention that just because a place is founded in a certain way doesn't mean it will stay that way. The U.S. was founded as a British colony, but it's not anymore now is it? 
  • Negative experiences with theists. 
By negative do you mean things like "you better believe what I believe or else?" Everyone has a negative experience with someone at one time or another in their life, but just because you have a negative experience with something doesn't mean that you turn your back on it. Plenty of people have altercations with other people of various stations. I had many altercations with teachers in my life, but I didn't drop out of school. Despite my atheism I still have respect for many theists, these are ones I know personally and we have agreed to disagree. There are theists who try to convert me, and it just becomes annoying because they never say anything new, and for someone to tell me that they are right when they believe something that they cannot prove doesn't mean that I was wrong. 
  • Scientism: Science has in many ways become a new god.
How? Science is the tool used to understand the natural world. It has no demands, gives no morals, offers no guidelines for living your life, has no priests and no dogma... so how exactly is science god? I find this very confusing because science is something that we can see touch and test... while god is not. Here is the definition of scientism (which my spellchecker doesn't understand) : "is the belief that the scientific method has no (or few) limits and can successfully be applied to almost all domains and provides an explanation for everything. It is also used to refer to the idea that others worship science and its results"- no-one worships science... we have a healthy respect for it, but that's it. The scientific method is as follows: observation, experimentation and formulation of a hypothesis. If something can be observed in one way or another it can be experimented or tested for. Ex. Germ Theory Observation: People get sick. Research Question: Why do people get sick? Experimentation: Analyzing various bodily fluids for traces of the culprit. Observations: Bacteria and Viruses which do not belong to the organism are present within the organism. Hypothesis: Foreign bacteria and viruses make people sick. If something does not exist in the natural world it cannot be tested for, and since God is something that does not exist in the natural world God cannot be tested for. It is really that simple.

This concludes my review of why people become atheists... at least according to conservapedia. For a better idea of atheism and the history of atheism I will again point you to wikipedia and their article about atheism. I would also suggest checking out youtube for people like AronRa, dprjones, BionicDance and RichardDawkinsdotnet for lectures and the actual point of view of real atheists.

Until next time,

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