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Steve Greene
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How to validate atheism in one easy step

22 June 2015, 12:17
1. Ask a god-believer to produce credible real world evidence that the god he believes in actually exists.
Instead all you get is purely bogus "evidence" produced by all contradicting-each-other-about-everything god-believers on the planet, like the "testimony of eyewitnesses" that Mormons talk about in regard to their golden plates hoax (which, conveniently, according to Mormons aren't around for anyone to actually look at since an angel took the golden plates to heaven), or like the "500 witnesses" made up in the New Testament (who, conveniently, never actually wrote anything down but are only referred to third-hand are things like bogus "evidence," or - hey let's not forget about Muslims - the "eyewitness testimony" of Muhammad himself.
Of course, all of this kind of evidence is always based on the already-known-to-be-obviously-false premise that "eyewitness testimony" is perfect, nonproblematic, and that people never make things up, never prevaricate, and never tell bald-faced lies to promote some particular agenda. Indeed, religious apologists will spend - have spent - considerable time and written literally millions of words over the decades and centuries trying to trump up this bogus "eyewitness" testimony into being the best possible evidence that could ever exist. In utter ignorance of the reality.
It's like religious apologists today have never sat in on a court trial where we learn just how problematic eyewitness testimony can really be. People tell lies. People distort the truth. People's minds often unconsciously make things up to fill in gaps, giving people false "memories." People make errors. Indeed, there is a whole field of study in psychology having to do with the problems of eyewitness testimony - this is beside deliberate dishonesty - that produces false or otherwise distorted memories and bad information.
Indeed, with our hero Benny Hinn - maybe the most popular faith healer on the planet - we literally get massive proof of just how bogus the nature of eyewitness testimony can be with every bogus faith-healing crusade/charade, with hundreds of thousands of "eyewitnesses" to the "miraculous" "supernatural" "healing power" of the Christian Trinity God. Hundreds of thousands of "eyewitnesses" to, literally, nothing at all except how human beings can work themselves up into a religious frenzy, and make up all sorts of tall tales about events which when anyone actually takes the time and effort to dig into the factual details of finds that all the supernatural mumbo-jumbo is entirely bogus. (Which, again, is behavior we can observe in virtually every contradicting-each-other-about-everything group of god-believers, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Mormon, Scientologist, you-name-it-fabricated-religion on the planet.)
Or you get the "experience" "evidence." I cannot count the number of times I've had religious believers use the "it works for me and made my life better" as evidence that the empirical claims about supernatural hocus pocus of the religious belief system is somehow true. It could be Mormons, or Catholics, or Baptists, or Muslims, or Scientologists, or Seventh Day Adventists, or Lord Ganesha followers - they all have the "This makes me feel good in my life; there are too many coincidences of good things happening to me because I believe to be explained unless what I believe is true" argument. And yet you cannot seem to get it through their heads how the subjective nature of believing in imaginary friends fervently enough works for everyone regardless of the religion and no matter what the empirical claims about supernatural hocus pocus are, whether it's Scientology, Mormonism, or worship of the elephant-headed demigod/avatar Lord Ganesha. It is - again - an argument based on completely ignoring the real world fact that religious beliefs are subjective, not objective, and that subjective beliefs can help people feel good.
We know subjective beliefs can make you feel good, and thus live your life better. But this is entirely beside the point. The point is not whether or not your subjective beliefs can make you feel good - the point is whether the empirical claims about reality that you attach to the subjective beliefs according to your particular system of religious traditions/doctrines have any actual evidentiary component in reality. We could fabricate a system of religious beliefs about magical invisible faeries and create notions about meditating/praying with the spirits of the good faeries and what this means to our lives and living good lives, eating right, how treating other people right is because of the good spirits of the faeries and appreciating the beauty and spirit of fellow humans - and this would not mean squat in regard to whether or not magical invisible faeries actually exist, but would be the (beneficial) result of your subjective beliefs in imaginary friends. (Or attributing detrimental feelings, thoughts, and behavior to the influence of demons, body thetans, evil spirits, or Satan. Certainly, everyone experiences detrimental feelings, thoughts, and engages in detrimental behavior - these certainly do exist - but attributing them to supernatural disembodied spirits does not provide evidence that any such supernatural disembodied spirits exist, even if your act of employing these subjective beliefs in your own mind helps you deal with these detrimental elements of your mind better.) Joseph Smith fabricated everything, and there are approximately 6 million Mormons in the United States today (about 15 million worldwide), living decent lives, perhaps better lives, due to their subjective beliefs, even though their entire religious belief system is the complete fabrication of a charlatan. Your subjective beliefs helping you feel good does not mean your imaginary friends exist, and it does not provide credible empirical evidence that your imaginary friends exist. This point apparently flies at least 58 miles over the heads of vast majority of religious apologists.
Or you get the improbability fallacy. There are 5,621 specific conditions that had to be "just right" on Earth for us to exist here, therefore God exists since you need a superintelligent being to create things. Of course, this is a classic error in reasoning. If this particular planet we call Earth did not possess some necessary condition for life to exist and persist, then we would not be here talking about it. We would be on some other planet where the conditions do exist. Those conditions do exist here on this planet, and it is precisely because those conditions exist here that we are here - and not on a planet where the conditions don't exist - talking about it in the first place. It literally does not matter how improbable the conditions are. If A produces the high probability for B to occur, then even if the chances of A are some infinitesimal 1 out of 10 to the 200th power, the fact that B exists tells us nothing about what produced A. Indeed, there are hundreds of billions (if not trillions) of planets in the Milky Way galaxy alone - and there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the observable universe alone. The fact that we happen to exist on a planet that has the proper conditions for us to live is a probability of ONE - precisely because we cannot have developed on a planet that does not have the proper conditions. (Indeed, it is exactly the opposite that would be good evidence of something like a god - if the conditions on this planet were impossible for life and for us to exist here, and yet we somehow existed here anyway through some magical supernatural powers.)
So this is how you validate atheism in one easy step: Ask the god-believer to produce actual, credible, real world evidence of this god. He will never do it. He will always engage in word games employed to try to conjure up his god - while never even attempting to produce actual, relevant, empirical evidence of any god. He will talk about everything else under the sun, engage in rhetorical trickery, misdirection (red herring), misrepresentation (i.e., straw man criticism of atheism), all based on denying obvious facts about reality (like the problematic nature of "eyewitness testimony," and the subjective nature of subjective beliefs about imaginary things making you feel good), while never getting around to producing any actual evidence of any god - oh, and then, a lot of times you even get the religious apologist who specifically employs some sort of "Divine Hiddenness" argument to try to pretend that his god arranged things deliberately that we would not have any actual evidence of its existence because religious faith (i.e., believing in the god based on faith, not evidence) is a virtue, believing without evidence is a virtue, and doubt (i.e., critical thinking and being skeptical about bogus claims that don't have good evidence to back them up) is the influence of Satan or some other evil spirit.
Gullibility is a virtue, and critical thinking is a vice.
Now, think about that for a moment. Ask yourself, why would such an obviously corrupt and nefarious notion as that be a foundational principle of virtually all religious belief on the planet? That should tell you something. Indeed, it tells you everything you need to know.
[Note: This is written in response to an essay recently published, entitled "How to validate atheism in 5 easy steps," by Ravana Asura, which is a hack job of bogus satire based on the typical red herring and straw man mispresentations religious apologists try using against atheism, precisely because they know they can't produce good real world evidence to back up the existence of whatever god they believe in, so they throw up all manner of smokescreens and mirrors to evade this fact altogether.]
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