Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Fundamentalists of a new form

I have recently been taken by the phenomenon that is Yahoo! Answers. Mostly, of course, with the religion and spirituality section. It is rather interesting to see the kinds of things asked on that site, as most of it seems to be polarized between fundamentalists. There are fundamentalist atheists and fundamentalist Christians at the forefront of nearly every question. There seems to be more fundamentalists of both atheism and Christianity than anything else. They are usually the first to answer and the first to show their own ignorance. It does happen. And it is mildly irritating to see these people and all of their self-righteous retorts. It is pretty crazy.

However, Christians seem to usually be on the losing side of these sort of arguments, not because they are any less smart, or because atheists are as smart as they claim to be. It is simply because atheists draw their ignorant and rather strange conclusions from scientific evidence. (I am in danger of generalizing, but remember that we are talking about fundamentalists of both faiths.) I think it is time to educate some people on why what they believe to be true isn't always true.

And this is not an attack on atheism in general, just the rather outspoken ones who believe that they cannot possibly misunderstand anything. Or completely not understand it at all.

First we shall begin by defining atheism. The prefix, "a," means "without." "Theism" is the belief in a personalized and/or personified God. Therefore, the word atheism means "without a belief in God." This is taken by some to mean that they do not care whether God exists. Others, who are sometimes labeled as "anti-theists" because of their militant disdain for God and any one who believes in such a being, are put on the radical end of the spectrum. Sometimes atheism can lead to Nihilism, which is either the lack of belief in anything, or the belief that nothing matters enough to warrant believing in. This belief or complete lack of any is hardly regarded as functional and because of this many Nihilists take their own lives. Why? Because it doesn't matter. That's why it isn't more widespread, and as far as life philosophies go is counted as one of the least functional.
In between these forms of atheism, there are gray areas. Atheism ranges from not caring whether God exists or not to being militantly anti-God. (Which is kind of self defeating because by caring so much about something that doesn't exist gives it a very real power over your own existence, thereby proving it exists at least in your head.)

Now that atheism is defined and roughly analyzed, we shall begin with some things atheists have said on Yahoo! Answers. Unfortunately, I do not have direct quotes compiled so I cannot give them to www.fstdt.com to start a fundamentalist atheist section. However, here are paraphrases of many of them:

1. Science disproves religion and the Bible.
Ok. Where to start with this one. The Bible cannot be disproved because it is a book. Either it is nonfiction, therefore parts or all of it are correct and based on real life situations, or it is fiction. If it is non-fiction it is real. Therefore, science can't disprove it. If it is fiction, it is a story and should be read as such, and science can be used to "disprove" many fiction books so it doesn't really matter. Either way, science can't disprove it. Also, as it is logically impossible to completely disprove something, (yes I am aware of the fallacy of proving a negative, and it is true, despite being a fallacy in argument.) Logically the most we can do is say whether or not there is an extreme improbability of something existing. And in some cases where scientists have said this they have been wrong. (Ceolocanth, Madagascar, 1932.) Science is also not meant to really prove anything right or wrong. It is to discover what is, and why it is. Not to say what isn't.
On a similar note, modern science has given up the idea of absolute truth. It doesn't say that something is absolutely true 100% of the time. There is always room for error, and with that comes the room for improvement. Without that room to be wrong, we would be stuck believing that things like maggots randomly appear on meat. That was once considered absolutely true, and scientists that experimented to find out about it were laughed at. Scary isn't it?
And lastly, religion is an umbrella term that covers more than just Christianity. There are also sacred texts that aren't the Bible.

2. Evolution proves God doesn't exist.
This is almost as bad a conclusion as the one that many people try about evolution not being real because the Bible in its literal interpretation and English translation implies otherwise.
God doesn't always refer to the Abrahamic, Judeo-Christian God. It can refer to many different ideas and things that humans see as transcendent in there nature. The only thing that evolution does is cause life forms to change. That is it. It doesn't disprove the theories of the universe being created by an intelligent being. Why? Because evolution deals solely with life. That is it. Not the universe coming into existence. Which scientists are just as in the dark about as the people that wrote the Bible. Abiogenesis, while an interesting theory, doesn't disprove God either. So, despite the fact that some lab students threw nucleic acids in a beaker and they grouped together, they didn't create life. Life is characterized by certain things. Clumps of nucleic acids don't have those things any more than a random jumble of chemicals in a jar. They don't need food or water. They don't reproduce by themselves. They don't have a cell. They don't propel themselves. They don't create symbiotic relationships. They aren't alive. Even if they do have a plasma membrane, they aren't even close to the complexities of the simplest life forms on the planet, bacteria. They don't need. They aren't alive.

3. God can't exist because evil exists.
Wow. Did you think that up all by yourself? Nearly every person on this planet that is in a culture with a religion with a loving God has asked this question. Why do bad things happen? There are so many answers, and using Ockham's razor, (as so many do to claim that God doesn't exist,) This conclusion is illogical. It is to complex of a conclusion for such a question. Why do bad things happen? Well, it could be because it is life. People die, it rains, snows and gets sunny. Hurricanes and fires ravage things. It is part of nature. It has benefits as well. It is only bad to the thing perceiving it as such. Hurricanes can bring rain, ending droughts. Fires clear away underbrush so new plants can grow. Blizzards cause more snow in the mountains, which melts in the spring and travels into rivers keeping rivers from going dry. It isn't really bad for everything. Suffering undergone by humans is often caused by those humans. And even then, it is all in perception. Death can be celebrated instead of mourned. War boosts economies, (current war aside,) and soldiers are trained to be strong in a number of environments. It is a basic tenet of Darwinian evolution that the strongest survive. War has helped us evolve. Not everything is bad.

If I offended anyone, I am sorry, but it kind of offends me when people claim to be open minded and aren't. The atheists that claim these things are as closed minded and ignorant as the fundamentalist Christians they hate. But they don't see it. So, I end this post with a tip. Anyone who researches something should not do so to try to prove themselves right. If you believe in science at all and know anything about it you should know of the scientific method. A hypothesis is a prediction based on prior knowledge. One should not experiment to try to prove a hypothesis correct or incorrect, but they should let the experiment do that itself. All they should do is minimize uncertainty and variables, and research/perform the experiment. They should then collect and record the data/findings and analyze it. If it proves the hypothesis wrong, so be it. If it proves it right, so be it. The experimenter should never try to change the facts. They will just get shot down if they ever try to use wrong facts. I get tired of such ignorant things when the people that say them are constantly bashing others for being closed minded or ignorant. They refuse to see possibilities like the ones they are bashing. They become defensive when they get bashed and refuse to stop their own verbal attacks on others. Worst of all, they claim that fundamentalist Christians are a virus on the face of the earth because they are hypocrites. I call that irony.
Personally, I don't really care for religious fundamentalism in any form. But what can I say. I am probably just naive and ignorant of the true facts.

With that said, I again invite anyone to comment on the things I have said and to give constructive criticism. Excuse any bad grammar and spelling as I tend to type fast and not really proofread. If any of it doesn't make sense I apologize. And as always, thank you for reading.

Your friendly neighborhood Revkale