Four Reasons that Don’t Hold Up

The author of the Blog My Reasons seems to have made me a project to debate these reasons they believe in god, but having a debate hidden away purely in the comments isn’t a great way to proceed. I’ve taken a look at their reasons in the hopes that it would be something different and new but alas, it seems not. If this post seems curt it’s because these are mostly old hat and have been dealt with many times before.

1. Complexity

There’s a lot of stuff listed here but unfortunately it’s mostly redundant. The basic idea is that the modern cell is so complicated that it couldn’t possibly have evolved. Well, there’s a problem with that right away. The modern cell is itself the result of around 3.75 billion years of evolution and not the simple replicator that the first proto-cell or proto DNA/RNA would have been. There are two great primers and indications of how simple early replicators can be. Firstly Dr Szostak’s work on early replicators and secondly Spiegalman’s Monster.

The blog also cites non-organic material but in actuality planets, galaxies, stars etc are all pretty damn simple. They’re just BIG. Gravity and motion is all it takes to explain any of them.

The problem is really that a) complexity is not indicative of design and b) irreducible complexity… isn’t.

2. Religions Point to a Deity

Well the earliest religions are more animistic, pointing to ‘spirits’ and we see no indication of those either. Most religions have been polytheistic, but if you’re trying to argue for ‘a’ god, then that’s singularly unhelpful. Right off the bat it’s obvious that this is an argumentum ad populum and so can be dismissed without further ado.

That said there are other reasons why humans would have this common weakness for religion. Humans tend to false pattern recognition with a particular weakness for seeing human agency or imagery. We think we see a human face in the moon. Is it a human face? No. This is pareidolia. Similarly we expect concious, human agency where there is none. “OK, who hid my car keys?”

Why does this happen? Evolutionary Psychology suggests that there must be an evolutionary reason but that doesn’t mean our modern conclusions are correct. Humans are social animals who live in a social context. Amongst other humans most interactions and events DO have agency and erring on the side of suspecting and accounting for that would have survival value. Similarly there’s survival value in being paranoid. Mr Caveman is walking through the woods when he hears a twig snap. Should he assume it’s a sabretooth and run for his life or brush it off and ignore it? Even if it isn’t a sabretooth most of the time, paranoid caveman is more likely to survive and father children and pass on the ‘RUN!’ meme socially.

3. Pascal’s Wager

I cover some of the profound issues that shoot this argument to shit in a previous post. Little point going over it again.

4. NDEs

Are hallucinations caused by the release of DMT in the brain under extreme duress and ‘coming up’ out of oxygen starvation to the brain. Some include Out of Body experiences but these have similarly been debunked and have been artificially induced. Skepdic has a good summation of NDE claims and debunking.

The only variance here is the claim that the congenitally blind can have visual NDEs. Well, as it turns out only 10% of people who are legally blind are actually completely blind and even they often have some sense of light and of spatial awareness.

The study most often cited examined a whole 30 blind people who had supposedly had NDEs and reported 80% had had visual hallucinations in their NDEs. Keep in mind that 10% of 30 is only three and that this really doesn’t constitute a good example. Furthermore their star witness did not report full visual hallucinations but ones without colour. This is good reason to suspect that they might simply be reporting what they were expected to or how sight had been described to them.

The way to settle this would probably be to induce an NDE like experience in a person who was congenitally blind while scanning them in an fMRI for activity in the visual parts of the brain. We’ll have to see if this ever happens but in the meantime the paucity of evidence and its suspicious cast forces one to suspend judgement and hold the proposition false under the burden of proof.

Outside of this particular wrinkle, NDEs (and OOBEs) have been more than adequately explained at this point.

Why do people report similar experiences? Similar situations and stresses upon the body will induce similar effects just as certain drugs induce similar effects. Prior to the popularisation of  the ‘typical’ NDE, reports were very much varied according to cultural inculcation and tradition. It is only with the emergence of the typical NDE story that we have seen this homogenisation. It’s a similar phenomenon to how alien ‘abductees’ used to report a panapoly of different aliens from hairy dwarfs to giant lizard men but the popularisation of the ‘grey’ has homogenised that.



13 responses to “Four Reasons that Don’t Hold Up

  1. Don’t you understand that it isn’t just the organelles that are so complex, but so is the system of a cell and the system of what the organelles have to do? Think about chloroplasts. Chloroplasts have to take water (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and sunlight, and turn them into energy for the plant. Another thing that you should think about, and I need to remember to put this in my blog, is the system in which trees “exhale” oxygen and “inhales” carbon dioxide while animals exhale carbon dioxide and inhale oxygen. If just one of those things (animals or plants) were to die off completely then the other thing would die off. The possibility of the Evolutionists idea of how life began (heat, energy, and matter combined caused life to form billions and billions of years ago) is a possible 1 out of 10 to the power of 40,000. That has more odds than winning the Mega Millions(1 out of 175 million) or getting struck by lightning twice in one day(1 out of 490 billion). It’s pretty much impossible. And, the earth might not even be 3.75 billion years old. (I think you saw the video already)

    Why would there be all of these religions pointing to a diety(s) and an afterlife if there weren’t any? So what if they all didn’t agree with each other. It’s human not to agree with each other and those religions’ Holy Books were written by man, but inspired by God. Human traits will no doubtedly be accidently incorperated in those Books.

    Yes, Pascal’s Wager was written from Christain and Atheist point of views and may seem like “it makes you feign belief for self-gain”. But that’s the view you have to take when applying logic. “What can I gain from this?” is a question that has to be asked because we’re human and we are naturally greedy. And, according to NDE’s, it doesn’t matter what religion you pick, what path you take. As long as you’re not Atheist or don’t commit suicide, you’re good. Examples of this are Howard Storm’s and Angie Fenimore’s NDE’s. (I found numbers for your roulette wheel, they are 50% atheism 50% theism.)

    NDE’s can be proven through the fact that the congenitally blind cannot see while hallucinating, and yet, a person BORN blind could see (very detailed) during her NDE. That’s one way to prove it, but there’s also that some people have SEEN things that are verifiable during an NDE.
    Specifically go to Dr. Richies NDE:

    • Again, you’re jumping right to complete cells and that calculation of probability is disingenuous.
      As I covered, cells are themselves evolved.
      The earth is older that 3.75 billion years, it’s around 4.54 billion years old.
      Pascal’s Wager still isn’t logical precisely because of its assumptions.
      As for the roulette wheel it’s not 50/50 given that all the evidence is for naturalism and evidence, fact, is the basis upon which odds are calculated.
      We’ve also covered the NDE claim. NDEs and OOBEs are just hallucinations, people can’t read notes in inaccessible areas or describe things accurately. Only generally.

      • I’m already familiar with the odious William Lane Craig. I find him hard to stomach and if this follows the book/lectures there’s nothing new there to address. If you think it presents any new valid arguments I’ll give it a try but only to three strikes. Understand I’ve been at this a long time and seen these kind of things before.

      • “Understand I’ve been at this a long time and seen these kind of things before.” And yet you’re, still an Atheist. Answer me this, though. Why did you become an Atheist? Now don’t give me “proofs”, give me your story. The story of the day you became an Atheist.

      • Like everyone else in the world I was born without belief in any gods. I just remained unconvinced. That’s the short version. Sorry, there’s no special revelation or incident it’s really just a matter of there being no good reason to believe in a god.

      • I know that it’s been some time since our last discussion, but I have another question. What is so wrong with theism? Now, by theism I don’t mean theists, I mean believing in God(s). Essentially, What is so wrong with believing in God(s)?

      • At the heart of it, when you cut right down to it, that this is a baseless belief. That it is faith. That it is incorrect. Other effects depend on the belief in question, but that’s the central issue.

  2. Here’s a nice Documentary for you, your followers, and visiters of this site. It’s called A Case for a Creator:

    (ignore the part where somebody uses light years to measure time, please)
    It supports some of My Reasons and tells truth about evolution.

    (PS: I forgot to thank you for showing my blog to other Atheists in that way. So, thank you.)

  3. I’ll give this video three strikes. I don’t expect to see anything that I haven’t already heard before.

    Strike One: Behavioural changes are internal. Not evidence for a god. People can change their behaviour in many ways for many reasons. His claimed trigger for his investigation is based on nothing.

    Strike Two: Miller’s experiment has not been discredited. It has been repeated with more up to date understanding of primitive and has produced the same sort of results.

    Strike Three: Living cells would not be the first forms of replicating life. Rather it would be much simpler. Reference to Szostak’s abiogenesis work and that of Spiegleman.
    Also here’s a rundown:

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