Ioanes Rakhmat: Do you need empirical evidence from your spouse that proves him/her to be faithful forever to you? Do you need proof for the assumption most Americans accept that humans are created equal? Do you need evidence for your belief (or whatever you may call it) that tomorrow our Sun will still rise and then set again? Do you need evidence from your children that they love you very much, that they do their assignment everyday diligently? Are you convinced that your business will be successful if you don’t believe (or don’t trust) your business partners in certain areas of your business? Etc. etc. Life is not only about evidence, but about belief and trust too.
David McAfee: Yes, I would need evidence that my exclusive life partner would remain faithful to me if we agreed to do so— and I think you would, too. That evidence comes in the form of consistent faithfulness over time and it's measurable and reliable. Once that pattern is broken, and the evidence shows your loved one is no longer honoring his or her agreement, you might choose to revisit the terms.
There is also substantial evidence backing up the idea that equal rights can and should be applied fairly. While I wouldn’t say we are necessarily “created equal,” the available body of information suggests that human beings are largely similar at their most fundamental levels and therefore deserve similar treatment.
We can further reasonably assume that the sun will likely rise and fall tomorrow, but that’s not just a guess. It’s backed up by fundamental scientific principles, as well as a 100 percent success rate in daily experiments since the beginning of recorded history. This is all evidence.
Finally, if you don’t have proof that your children love you, then it’s possible they do not. Evidence of emotions can usually be seen in the actions and behavior of a person, as well as in what they say if they are honest.
Belief and trust are great, but if you don’t have evidence to support them you’ll end up chasing fantasies and disregarding reality.
Ioanes Rakhmat: You have no empirical evidence presently and now that our Sun will rise and then set again tomorrow. You only believe that it will, only on the basis of what regularly happened to it in the past, and on the belief or expectation that nothing wrong will happen tomorrow to our Sun. Is there any direct evidence for it today and now? No way! Absolutely unavailable, currently! Scientific determinism has long gone.
If you today demand empirical evidence from your wife that she will be faithful for her lifetime to you, she cannot provide, and you cannot force her. In the final analysis, you in some ways depend on your belief (or trust) in her. To make certain that she will do nothing wrong and unfaithful to you, I suggest, if you don't have trust and belief in her, that you hire a professional detective to follow her all day long forever. Or else, you force her to wear a locked iron underwear, if you were a cruel man. If these cruel and stupid things you cannot do, it means you believe and trust her. That she can change in the course of time from faithfulness to unfaithfulness, is significantly dependent too on your present belief and trust for her, and of course on your sincere love to her.
In short, without belief and trust for your spouse, it is much better for you to live alone forever, dedicating yourself to charity works by which you can possibly learn much more about how to live with belief and trust. And hopefully, the charity activities in which you are involved, will make you meet some transcendent meaning of life.
Give me hard evidence, empirical and ideal evidence, that humans are created equal, the belief and profession of all Americans. Anatomical and biological evidence for the qualitative and essential equality of all men are unavailable, even twins are not equal in all things related to human and cultural lives. Even as the history of the American people has taught us, different skin colors among humans can, very sadly, wage civil wars for centuries. Due to the strong American belief that humans are created equal, civil wars in American life finally could end.
You cannot prove empirically that humans in essence are created equal, altogether. Why? First, we cannot know precisely empirically what the essence of human is. Second, we cannot know or agree entirely about when and where the creation of a human takes place. In the wombs of our mothers? As fetuses? When zygotes form in the womb? And why are babies different from one another in many things? Show me the evidence for confirming the essence of humans, and then give proof that the evidence is valid. In short, rather than we demand empirical evidence for the equality of all humans, we accept it as true by faith. And this faith is good and constructive.
It is impossible to live only on the basis of science and evidence. Life is so rich. Life is not only science and evidence. Life consists of many things: wisdom, poetry, fable, music, arts, myth (ancient or modern), stories, metaphors, movies, sports, business, loss and gain, humor, religions, love, belief, trust, faithfulness, games, making love, eating, drinking, growing, entertainment, fables, folklore, sleeping, laughing, peace, serenity, brotherhood, womanhood, manhood, dreams, success, failure, lies, etc. etc. Ponder on seriously what Plato has said, “Wisdom alone is a science of other sciences and of itself.” The scientific equation Einstein greatly gave to the world E=mc2 will result in deadly nuclear catastrophes annihilating the human kind and their modern civilizations if it is used and applied without wisdom. Science alone is not enough; it needs wisdom to be beneficial for all of us and for innumerable generations to come.
For me, life without constructive beliefs and faith is suffering, a nightmare, a delusion, an exile, an agony, a degrading human condition, a silly crap, a meaninglessness, a loss, a lie, a hoax, a barren land, exhaustion and depression. The militant atheist Prof. Richard Dawkins has written a book titled The God Delusion. For him, what matters the most in life is science and evidence. The belief in God, for him, is delusion. I think, what is more appropriate is the phrase The Dawkins Delusion!
If you insist that life is only science and evidence, your life, poorly and sadly, has become one of the many modern myths. There are many myths in the world of atheism, so far as I can observe. I can show you the many myths atheists believe in. Read about this here.
Don’t forget to provide empirical evidence I am asking you. What I need are not propositional or logical arguments. I need hard empirical and objective evidence.
Robert Kimbrell: And what myth would that be, that we atheists believe in?
Ioanes Rakhmat: One of the devastating myths of atheism is that all the atheists in the New Atheism Movement cannot think and do wrong. As of many other myths atheists embrace, read the writing of mine whose link just given above.
Cain Piercy: That would be a complete lie. Try again.
Shara Lynn: Love it when a believer thinks they know what's going through our heads.
Jenn Sims: Fabulously put!!! Perfect!
Ioanes Rakhmat: OK, show me where you are right and where you are wrong.
Samuel James Carlton Bell: To be fair. I’ll leave this here for you to read too.
Ioanes Rakhmat: That is a cruel caricature of Christianity atheists often make, like the cartoons Charlie Hebdo journalists have been making that attack religions, in particular Islam. Unlike radical Muslims, Christians are not angry against atheists like you. This shows the maturity of most of Christians in the world, something that may make you shocked. Thank you for the caricature. I am not a Christian, though I am very close to the churches and to Jesus of Nazareth. In mentality, atheists like you are not different from radical believers. All of you are warriors in defense of your atheist beliefs, cults and rituals. The caricature shows the short-sightedness of its creator in viewing what religion is and how religion functions in society.
I want to let you know about something very important in relation to the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo that currently has changed. In April 2015 one of the newspaper’s cartoonists, Renald Luzier, said that drawing the prophet Muhammad “no longer interests me. I have got tired of it, just as I got tired of drawing [Nicolas] Sarkozy [former French president]. I’m not going to spend my life drawing them.” In July 2015, the top editor and publisher of the newspaper, Laurent Sourisseau, said that it was not Charlie Hebdo’s intention to be ‘possessed’ by its critique of Islam. “The mistakes you could blame Islam for, can be found in other religions.” He emphasized that the publication would no longer draw the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that had garnered it worldwide notoriety. [Source: Ishaan Tharoor, “Charlie Hebdo editor says the paper is done with prophet Muhammad cartoons”,The Washington Post, 17 July 2015, at https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2015/07/17/charlie-hebdo-editor-says-the-paper-is-done-with-prophet-muhammad-cartoons/.]
You see, uncivilized critiques result in nothing useful, making the cartoonists themselves fatigued. What is the lesson you can get from them? If you say that you get nothing, I can only conclude that you have stopped being a human.
Cain Piercy: Atheists are not a homogeneous group. We as individuals can be right or wrong on pretty much anything, just like you.
Ioanes Rakhmat: So far as I have found, no atheist does wish to ponder on what they have said and written down, to find out whether they are right or wrong, ethical or unethical. The myth of the only savior of the world seems to be part of atheist worldview lately. Poor indeed. I repeat, they are not different in mentality from those radical believers. Both are warriors for their own beliefs, cults and rituals.
And now let me reveal about your very clear mental condition as atheists: even though all of you, atheists, do not believe that God exists, you weirdly hate God, because you have been seeing that almost all religious believers claim that God is all-knowing and the one and only absolute truth in the whole universe and beyond. You insult, reject, refute and hate this type of God religious believers believe in. But, see into yourselves, and be introspective: all of you, my atheist friends, consider your own selves as Gods too because you view yourselves as all-knowing, as creatures that cannot do and think wrong about anything in the universe and in our lives. In reality, for me, you are living in pathological denial and in a make-believe world! Even worse, while attacking Gods of religions, you in fact are attacking your own emotions and fantasies. And, the second fatal revelation from me for you, is this: This mental condition of yours is entirely not different from that of radical religious believers. Both of you are dwelling in the same mental camp, though coming from two different and opposite worldviews.
Ioanes Rakhmat: Do you believe that Hulk, Ultron, Thor, Spiderman, Doraemon, Batman, Superman, Santa Clause, Minion, Casper, the Transformers, etc., etc, exist in real life? Of course you don’t. But why do you need to watch the movies about them all or to read novels or story books regarding them, or to view the paintings of them all? You will answer that you only take the moral and aesthetic messages from them all! OK, religious believers do the same thing as you do: they only draw moral and value teachings of most of religious metaphors about god and about the transcendent realm.
Read through all the books written by the late Marcus J. Borg (died 21 January 2015) concerning Jesus, the New Testament and other writings of the first centuries, as well as about religion and spirituality. Borg has shown that scientific understanding about religion enriches your life, now and in the future. Borg is an American scholar respected by many people of different religious backgrounds around the world.
Life is not about science and evidence only. If you view life is only about science and evidence, how poor your life is. If atheism is the cause of your poor life, how much poorer atheism is. So far as I know, no true scientists view life as only a matter of evidence. They see life as broad and as rich as possible. Science is also about values, about beauty, about kindness, about belief and trust, about poetry. Commmmmeeeee ooooon, enrich your life. Don’t make your life very poor and barren.
Ollie Du: Even with a concrete evidence of a god, there is a bit of a cock up, because why would he or she come in plain form to be killed, becoming a mortal again. All the claims of being a messiah are just a lot of con artist wanted to make money. A god would be magical and you know that unicorn like god do not appear out of thin by magic. All this spiritual nonsense attributed to the Christians is an old witchcraft tale invented by the priest to scare the masses.
Ioanes Rakhmat: I am very sure that you know people like Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Desmond Tutu, Cardinal Jaime Sin, among others. They are noble people. What they had done and had thought as world leaders cannot be separated from their religions. Why are you so sarcastic and cruel about religions and noble believers? Are you a noble man too like Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Gandhi? Have you given any proof to the world that you are a noble man? Remember, presently there are 4 billion adults who adhere to various religions; and many of them are great people of the world. As atheist, do you want to change the world but you discount the huge number of believers? If so, how unwise and unstrategic you are, if not so short-sighted.
Lars Gottlieb: Religion is organized liars selling their lies for money and power. No shiny polish or glittery wrapping will ever cure religion of its basic problem: Gods do not exist.
John Liedl: Atheists do not discount the good works of religious people. Religious people can do great things, this is obvious, the same can be said of non-religious people. They both can choose to live a life of good deeds. This has no bearing on if the claims of the religious person are actually true. For example, I could claim that the reason I live a good life is because the invisible dragon that lives in my garage tells me to. Sure, my belief in the dragon may make me a good person, but that doesn't mean that there is really a dragon in my garage.
Ioanes Rakhmat: Yes, you can believe in, say, the Ghost of Adam Smith or the Ghost of Christopher Hitchens or the Ghost of Elvis Presley, resulting in you being able to do good works and kindness. For me, there is nothing wrong if this is the situation.
Analogously, imaginary friends living in the “nether”- or “upper”-worlds are also good and constructive insofar as the people who believe in them can live well and even greatly.
So, the crucial criterion is not the factual truth of any belief systems, but the ability of the belief systems to produce people being able to do good and noble things in this world. In short, what matters the most is ethics.
I am sure you are aware enough to notice that goodness and nobleness are relative cultural ideas; their truth and embodiment are not universal. Goodness and nobility for American Indians are different from that for a white New Yorker. Goodness for an Aborigine differs from goodness for a white Australian. Goodness for an atheist is not the same as goodness for a Christian or for a Muslim or for a Jewish man. You can refer to other cases in relation to morality to show that all moral options are bound to certain sociocultural and anthropological and historical contexts. No moral options are neutral or do exist in vacuum. No moral options are souls without bodies, or bodies without souls. Of course, even though moral values are particular cultural ideas, we still can construct global moral values via global consensus, global moral values that are dynamic and change in the course of time.
So, it is unnecessary for atheists to ridicule any religious belief systems, so far as it can give birth to good and noble people. It is unnecessary too to mock any gods so far as these gods have great impact on their believers to do noble things. Imaginary or real, these gods should be respected, as we respect the greatness and advantages of science, of capitalism, of socialism, of democracy, of secularism, of American great fables, or even of Americanism, etc. Or maybe you view capitalism or socialism or Americanism or great fables, or secularism, etc., to be factual realities, not ideas, not ideologies?
After you agree with what I have written above, but you still insult and mock good religions and good believers, I should say that you are an inconsistent man, or, in other words, an unethical people.
Ioanes Rakhmat: So far as I have observed, scientists still don’t know “the unknown” in the universe. There are so many natural mysteries in our universe, let alone in the multiverse consisting of 10500 universes according to string theory of the cosmos. The same theory predicts that in our universe alone there could be 26 dimensions, including the four dimensions of spacetime of our own. So, it is impossible for any scientists to claim that they already know about everything in the universe or in the multiverse. Science is an endless voyage to the unknown, said Carl Sagan. Show me the final greatest number in the universe! Could you? Furthermore, from the simple mathematical operation we know that when one is divided by zero, the result is infinity. Some say that one divided by zero is not infinity, but “the undefined”! Please, show me the mathematical operation of one divided by zero resulting in “the undefined”, step by step. Ok, what is the undefined? Define it! It is something that cannot be defined, cannot be confined in any definitions, in any limited space or room, in any limited categories, in any limitations; in other words, something that has no limitations, something that is always beyond any numbers, something that is .... infinite. Do you know what infinity is, its form, content and essence? I myself don’t know. Confronted by infinity, can you make the claim that you know everything in the universe, let alone in the multiverse? Can you surely know about the form, content and essence of the other 22 dimensions in our universe alone? Can you imagine what are the entities that dwell in other infinite universes transcending our own universe? Can you imagine what stuff shaping other infinite universes? Scientists do not know.
To deal with the natural mysteries so abundant in the universe and, too, with infinity, scientists thus have been constructing many hypotheses about the universe, from the quantum “world” to the multiverse. You do know of course about what a hypothesis is. What I want to underline at this moment is one thing: any hypothesis is constructed and formulated to be verified or falsified via scientific methods.
As it is first constructed, some elements of belief or faith play a significant role. Without this belief or faith, no hypothesis could be established. Because there is belief or faith in it, we can justifiably call it hypothesis. The belief or the faith finally can be proved as true, or else as false, by means of scientific methods of research. What is important to acknowledge is that at the beginning of a scientific research, a belief or a faith must exist in the mind of the researcher.
Of course, a hypothesis can be soundly formulated only if the researcher has known most of the results of previous studies in his or her field. But, in the final analysis, the researcher should have a certain belief or faith that she or he is going to substantiate, if she or he should be able to pursue the research further. A hypothesis is a working hypothesis, meaning if the researcher has no belief or faith to be proven later, he or she cannot proceed in his or her research. You may say that in a hypothesis, there is a guess element, not a belief or faith element. But if you don't believe that your guess is true, you will not proceed to either verify or falsify your hypothesis.
As it is acknowledged by scientists generally, for instance Albert Einstein, imagination too plays a crucial role in eventually giving birth to a new scientific view. Here are the two sayings of Einstein concerning imagination: “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination”, and “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.” John Dewey too asserts, “Every great advancement in science results from a new audacity to imagine.” Due to the scientific determinism that almost all of atheists believe in, you atheists will certainly be shocked by the statement made by the famous American quantum physicist Richard Phillips Feynman (1918-1988) that “the imagination of nature is far greater than the imagination of man” (quoted from his public lecture titled “The Value of Science”, presented in Autumn 1955 at the National Academy of Sciences, and then published in What Do You Care What Other People Think , and republished in The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman , edited by Jeffry Robbins).
Do you want to deny the fact that in imagination a certain form of belief or faith plays a significant role too? Without a belief or a faith, imagination cannot develop from one moment to another moment, even a belief or a faith is part of the overall imagination a scientist develops freely but in a controllable way. In short, a dynamic belief or faith is a crucial element in any imagination. Without a dynamic belief playing a role in any imagination from moment to moment, the imagination will change into fantasy, an empty and barren uncontrollable daydreaming.
If you are familiar with how science works, historical science in particular, you certainly know that scientists often cannot achieve absolute certainty about the subject they are investigating. They can reach only the probability level, not the absolute certainty level, when they have to decide about the truth of the subject they are researching. When you move from the range of possibility to the range of probability, and from the range of probability to the range of relative certainty, your belief or your faith plays a role in deciding the most reasonable option you will take from many other options. In the world of probability where absolute certainty cannot be achieved, where complete evidence cannot be provided, your belief or your faith will accompany your reasonable decision, whether you like it or not. Belief or faith is absolutely unnecessary if everything is absolutely certain! In the world of science, unfortunately, there is no such thing as “everything is absolutely certain”.
In the same public lecture titled “The Value of Science?”, Richard P. Feynman says that “The scientist has a lot of experience with ignorance and doubt and uncertainty; and this experience is of very great importance, I think. ... We have found it of paramount importance that in order to progress we must recognize our ignorance and leave room for doubt. Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty: some most unsure; some nearly sure; but none absolutely certain.”
So, in the world of science itself, a type of belief or faith has an important and crucial and honored place. Do you want to deny this fact due to your insistence that what matters in life is only evidence? If so, how poor your life is.
I hope you could see the difference between belief or faith in religions and belief or faith in the world of science. The former is absolutely unnecessary to be tested, verified or falsified, because it is believed to be based on divine revelations religious believers believe to be absolutely infallible and forever valid. The latter is viewed to be fallible, tentative and temporary, and therefore it is absolutely necessary to be tested, verified or falsified, by employing various scientific methods and various scientific perspectives.
The American theoretical physicist, with specialty in string theory, Brian Greene (born in 1963), presently professor at the University of Columbia, unhesitatingly says that he believes in science. In his book, The Elegant Universe (1999, 2003), Prof. Greene writes, “Beyond the fact that it is a mathematically coherent theory, the only reason we believe in quantum mechanics is because it yields predictions that have been verified to astounding accuracy” (p. 88). Even Richard P. Feynman had a shocking belief in science when he said in the public address titled “What Is Science?” that “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts” (this public address was presented in New York City in 1966 at the fifteenth annual meeting of the National Science Teachers Association, and was published in The Physics Teacher Vol. 7, Issue 6, 1969, pp. 313-320).
OK, you would try to live forever only with science and evidence, without having any constructive beliefs, trust and love to your neighbors, your beloved ones, and in relation to many life affairs. And then, we shall see that you most likely would become stressed and then get depressed, and then, finally, it is very likely that you sadly would commit suicide! When asked to write a birthday note for the mother of Marcus Chown who hoped his mother would increase her interest in science, Richard Feynman gave him this note to her, “Tell your son to stop trying you to fill your head with science, for to fill your heart with love is enough!”
Dave Robinson: Or you get forcibly indoctrinated by your parents if you happen to be Islamic, Jewish, Catholic etc., etc., and so the garbage continues....
Dave Robinson: Right, back to scrabble, excitement over....
Roya Shoeibi: Daneshmande madaresh
Drew Mc: Flogging a dead horse in here dude―seriously wacky cult stuff afoot. My research found that Carl Sagan, Albert Einstein and more recently Brian Cox to name but a few, subscribe to what you are stating―I pointed it out in here and was told by some folks that these scientists and I were wrong. Atheism has a different meaning in here, it’s like an odd blend of Comte positivism and Cartesian skepticism but to no end whatsoever.
Ioanes Rakhmat: Mr. Drew Mc, atheists are working and standing on the assumption that scientific determinism cannot be broken. This is what Albert Einstein and his elderly colleagues held. Nowadays atheists seem not to know that since quantum physics came to the fore to explain the phenomena in the quantum “world”, scientific determinism doesn’t apply any longer. One of the most devastating faiths of atheism is that atheism and atheists cannot be wrong. They are predetermined by their belief system to assume that they cannot do and think wrong. They seem to view themselves to be the omnipotent and omniscient gods, replacing the gods of religions.
7 February 2015
My conversations with atheists (part 2)