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Shields Gazette swamped by anti religionist atheists

You may have noticed that in recent weeks there has been some heated debate in the letters page of the Shields Gazette between a bunch of single minded atheists, who worship science and little else, and some God fearing religionists who have taken the bait. It’s a very one sided single minded debate and the attacks are launched in a solitary direction, the atheists, it appears, are careful only to pick on the followers of Christianity for their barbed insults about sky fairies and the likes. Perhaps it all started after someone wrote favouring the zealously held “creationist” argument, but that is neither here nor there, if you are concerned about the silliness of worshipping a non earthly deity then surely you ought to see it as your duty to be fair, even handed, and non discriminatory in your approach to the issue.

However, this has not been the case recently as folks like Mr. Brian Paget of South Shields resort solely to attacking Christians.  Perhaps they find some merit in the religions of Judaism, Sikhism, Buddhism, or Islam, but one would suspect that this is not the case if you do not believe in a God or a deity. So why are the followers of these other religions spared the personal insults and attacks on their integrity from the atheists?

Could it be that they would defend their beliefs with far more robustness?

Anyway, what about the religion of science and the Darwin arguments? Primitive men wrote what they believed to be true at the time of writing, that God created the universe and everything in it in seven days, modern intellectuals and scientists take a more realistic view and urge us to accept the symbolism of the Christian Bible’s words, and even those of us with average intelligence can accept Darwin’s findings on evolution of the species. However, to attack people because they have religious faith and have a pattern or righteous path for their life is not what one might expect from fellow humans who want to forge their own path. A religious belief may inform one’s moral judgements and a scientific fact based way of life may just turn you into a great investigator with little faith in others, but how many of the atheists who only believe in fact based scientific outcomes can remember that some of the world’s greatest scientists were also the followers of religion?

  • Isaac Newton was an Anglican Christian
  • Albert Einstein was a Jew
  • Charles Darwin was a Unitarian Christian
  • Neils Bohr was a Jewish Lutheran
  • Galileo Galilei was a Roman Catholic
  • Johannes Kelper was a Lutheran
  • Nicolaus Copernicus was a Roman Catholic priest
  • Max Planck was a Protestant
  • Rene Descartes was a Roman Catholic
  • Michael Faraday was a Presbyterian Christian
  • Lord Kelvin was a Christian

In fact Kelvin who wrote the first and second laws of thermodynamics about absolute temperature scales and was responsible for the first  trans-Atlantic cable said:

“I believe that the more thoroughly science is studied, the further does it take us from anything comparable to atheism.”

Which brings me to the very argument that the two groups of people who write to the Gazette are embroiled in, “Was there a ‘creation’ or not and is there a supernatural entity?”

The scientific community seem to have come to a consensus (probably after peer review Brian) that a “big bang” singularity marked the beginning of space and time some 13.7 billion years ago, before this point the universe, space, and time, they tell us, simply did not exist. The popular theory is that our universe “expanded” from the collision of two atoms, one of hydrogen the other of helium, and that as a result of the expansion, which still continues, other chemical reactions occurred which resulted in the creation of water and at least one planet capable of sustaining life forms. Nobody within the scientific community can as yet explain where these two atoms appeared from, how they came to be in a “black hole” type vacuum, or why they just happened to be of the correct nuclear composition to cause everything that followed.

Any discussion of the Big Bang theory would be incomplete without asking the question, what about God? This is because cosmogony (the study of the origin of the universe) is an area where science and theology meet. Creation was a supernatural event. That is, it took place outside of the natural realm. This fact begs the question: is there anything else which exists outside of the natural realm? Specifically, is there a master Architect out there? We know that this universe had a beginning. Was God the “First Cause”? We won’t attempt to answer that question in this short article. We just ask the question.

That, dear friends, is as far as science can dare to go, any thought beyond the “singularity” is a matter of faith for both the scientist and the religionist, so I find it grossly unfair that one should accuse the other when neither knows for sure the basis of their argument. What I do know is that it is more than grossly unfair to attack the Christian as though he were the only believer in a supernatural deity, if you are going to unfairly attack one religion then you have to unfairly attack them all, and then you must turn around and attack the scientists for failing to provide the answers.

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Written by curly

December 6, 2009 at 8:13 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Yes, Curly, you are perfectly correct in raising the question of these atheists attacking only Christianity. As a practising Christian, I have felt sorely let down that none of the local leaders of the Christian Church have seen fit to join this debate and rushed to the defence of the Faith. But then, I suppose they take their lead from the national leaders of the Church who seem hell-bent on tearing down the structures of that which gives them their livelihood. We now have the election of an openly gay woman to the office of Suffragan Bishop of Los Angeles which threatens to split the World-wide Anglican Communion apart. Whilst, nearer to home, the Bishop of Croydon, the Rt. Rev’d. Nick Baines has nothing better to do than to tear apart the words of well loved Christmas Carols. He seems to think that some of these words are not appropriate to the story of God Incarnate. So what? Surely there are more important issues for a Bishop to meddle with. With people like this around in the Christian Church, we are obviously looked upon as fair game for the barbed insults of the atheistic brigade.

    Trigger

    December 7, 2009 at 1:22 am

  2. The ongoing debate in the Shields Gazette is not about atheists attacking Christianity, it is about those who want creationism taught in school science classes. All religions have their creation stories, but not one of them has any evidence to support them. It just happens to be the case that Christian fundamentalists are the ones who are most vociferous in their campaign to have Christian Creationism taught in schools.

    It’s a tired old canard to suggest that atheists are somehow too frightened to offend Muslims for fear of a violent backlash. You might have noticed that there have been no letters in the Gazette from Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Rastafarians, etc., claiming that they, too, should have equal time in a science class. All of those people who live in South Shields seem to be happy to allow their children to have a decent education at school, and pursue their respective religions in their mosques, temples, etc., which is where religions belong. You might also notice that those Christians who are calling for “equal time” for alternative (religious) ideas about the origins of life, the universe and everything, are strangely reticent about inviting scientists to have “equal time” in their churches. Should scientists be crying, “foul” because they are not allowed to express their free speech in a place where the supernatural is worshiped? They wouldn’t be so irrational to want to.

    If the vocal Christians ever were allowed to have equal time in a science class, do you think for a moment that they would be willing to allow any other religions to have equal time to preach their own creation stories? Would they be inviting those of other religions to preach in their churches?

    Creationism – from whatever religion – is simply unsupported by any objective evidence. The creationists’ “evidence” is whatever happens to be written in their particular holy writings, and, unlike scientists, who argue their differences through peer-reviewed academic journals, the religious have historically settled their differences by slaughtering each other.

    I am an atheist and a secularist, which means that I think that anyone should be free to worship any deity of their choice without interference, but not have the freedom to force their beliefs upon others. I should also be free to not worship any alleged deity, and with the freedom to do so without the fear that I might be burned at the stake because a particular religion will not allow me to think for myself.

    The letters page of the Gazette has brought out Christian fundamentalism. Any atheists who are objecting are not, as most Christians are saying, “militant,” but proactive supporters of reason (which is what the average Christian is totally immune to).

    Worship your god or gods as you wish, but let the rest of us have reality.

    the skeptic

    December 9, 2009 at 3:21 am

  3. Any discussion of the Big Bang theory would be incomplete without asking the question, what about God? This is because cosmogony (the study of the origin of the universe) is an area where science and theology meet. Creation was a supernatural event. That is, it took place outside of the natural realm. This fact begs the question: is there anything else which exists outside of the natural realm? Specifically, is there a master Architect out there? We know that this universe had a beginning. Was God the “First Cause”? We won’t attempt to answer that question in this short article. We just ask the question.

    And your thoughts on this scientific question, which you so neatly side stepped?

    curly

    December 9, 2009 at 10:55 am

    • I wasn’t trying to sidestep anything, Curly. The point of my post was not to give a science lesson but to point out that Christian fundamentalists are trying to introduce religion into science classes, and that is simply wrong. Right now there are several thousand deities being worshipped by people all over the world, and all of those people believe that they have the one true religion. Should all of them be given equal time in a science classroom?

      Nevertheless, let me see if I can deal with the quotation you give.

      “Any discussion of the Big Bang theory would be incomplete without asking the question, what about God?”

      Which god out of the thousands available are we talking about?

      “This is because cosmogony (the study of the origin of the universe) is an area where science and theology meet.”

      Where science and theology have met in the past, those who have contradicted church dogma with science have so often been tortured and killed for their efforts. And nowadays, religion is still trying to destroy science, but at least it is no longer allowed to burn heretics (at least in this country, but it is still happening elsewhere in the world).

      “Creation was a supernatural event. That is, it took place outside of the natural realm.”

      If you can provide a testable hypothesis, then you might be able to claim to be doing science. In the meantime, claims of the supernatural based on faith without any supporting evidence have no merit and cannot be taught in a science class. It is just not science.

      “This fact begs the question: is there anything else which exists outside of the natural realm? Specifically, is there a master Architect out there?”

      Again, claims made with faith but no evidence. If creationism is scientific, please tell us how we can test this hypothesis. If it can’t be tested, then it is not scientific and has no place in a science class.

      “We know that this universe had a beginning. Was God the “First Cause”?”

      The question is posed, but what is the answer, and how can it be tested? Who created God, and who does God worship as His creator?

      “We won’t attempt to answer that question in this short article. We just ask the questions.”

      Yes, plenty of questions, and nothing that can be objectively tested or confirmed. Is this really what people want taught as science?

      One other thing: you say, “The popular theory is that our universe “expanded” from the collision of two atoms one of hydrogen the other of helium, and that as a result of the expansion, which still continues, other chemical reactions occurred which resulted in the creation of water and at least one planet capable of sustaining life forms.”

      Where on Earth did you get that? Presumably from a creationist handbook. In any case, it is a complete misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the so-called big bang theory, and just underlines the need for science classes to teach science, not religion.

      I am not, as you might assume, a religion-basher. On the contrary, I am willing to support anyone’s right to follow his or her chosen faith; but I will also fight strongly to prevent religion being taught as if it had any scientific merit. If anyone can show that a god or gods exist, then it would become a scientific fact the same as any other. But until someone can put God in a test tube, as it were, religion has to stay out of science classrooms.

      Incidentally, if you want to know what the rest of the world thinks about the creationists of South Tyneside, have a look at this American-based website article:

      http://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2009/08/03/creationist-wisdom-%e2%80%94-example-58/

      the skeptic

      December 9, 2009 at 7:45 pm

  4. The Americans are certainly keeping an eye on South Tyneside creationists. Here’s another link from the website I mentioned earlier. And this is in tonight’s Gazette. This backwater of the UK is fast becoming a worldwide laughing stock:

    http://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/creationist-wisdom-%e2%80%94-example-92/

    the skeptic

    December 10, 2009 at 3:07 am

  5. To suggest that one must “turn around and attack the scientists for failing to provide the answers” is as absurd as attacking Christians or any other deist for failing to provide evidence proving the existence of god. I will kindly direct your attention to the following quote, “unproven religious propositions deserve as much disbelief as all other unproven propositions, and that the unprovability of a god’s existence does not imply equal probability of either possibility.” In other words, just because I (we) cannot disprove the existence of god does not, by default, mean that there is a god. Furthermore, the probabilities of either possibility – the existence or non-existence of god – are not equal. I would also go on to emphasize that there can be only one Truth in the matter. Pascal, in his famous wager, attempts to rationalize that “a person should wager as though God exists, because living life accordingly has everything to gain and nothing to lose.” I find those people who live by Pascal’s logic to be “saving their asses” so to speak. “Better to ‘believe’ in God than to roast in hell” or something like that.

    Believing in something blindly is dangerous and absurd. Mikhail Bakunin said it best, “… the idea of God implies the abdication of human reason and justice; it is the most decisive negation of human liberty, and necessarily ends in the enslavement of mankind, in theory and in practice.” Clifford posited that “it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone to believe anthing on insufficient evidence”.

    For me, the idea of God’s (or any god’s or gods’) existence represents the remnants of early humanity’s desire and perhaps need to be able to explain the world around us. Voltaire suggested that “if God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him”. I think that the idea of God or god was indeed an invention. Again, it satisfied early mankinds’ desire/need to explain that which we could not understand. How is that there are so many species? Early man ascribed this to a variety of creation stories (I won’t limit my ‘attack’ to just the Christian/Jewish/Muslim versions). As mankind evolved our ability to REASON has developed (and I think will continue to develop). In modern day times, we have evolution to describe (and with evidence this time) the origin of species. Examples of new scientific thought supplanting older religious explanations abound, I will not belabor them here.

    As our ability to understand increases (and continues to increase), our need for the notion of “god” and those concepts which derive from “god” becomes less and less. It is my belief that humanity will continue to “evolve” (if you will) towards not having to rely on old, primative and irrational concepts (though initially well-meaning) but instead being able to reason and deduce the world around us. We have already made great strides and will continue to do so. It is my belief that this evolution will take a considerable amount of time because evolution itself takes time.

    While I regard myself as the strong explicit atheist type, I do not feel the need to “attack” deists. I find such efforts to be a fruitless endeavor, thought-provoking at best. No one can convert a theist to an atheist. Only the individual, through his or her own THOUGHT AND REASON, can convert themselves. This is ultimately dependent on said individual’s mind. Is that person comfortable … are YOU comfortable without a god? I am.

    I hope you can be too.

    Dr Phil

    December 18, 2009 at 12:17 am


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