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Orion

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Do Atheists Believe in Fairy Tales?
« on: March 18, 2017, 07:51:29 am »
One common shoot-from-the-hip atheistic contention is that religion is a myth and “just a fairy tale”. It is not necessarily intended as a powerfully rational argument, but as a shake-them-up-to-wake-them-up jolt to help move religious people away from their “superstitious delusions”. After all, we are not deluded enough to believe in fairies, so why believe in an invisible God … in an imaginary divine friend?

And the “religion = fairy tale” argument carries significant force in Western society. For example, while many Americans still at least give a tacit nod to general cultural Theism and to Christian moral influence, they roll their eyes at Biblical claims like the virgin birth and the parting of the Red Sea. “Oh … well … I believe in God (sort of) and in being a good person, but not in all those supposed miracles. Bible stories are just fables that are meant to communicate good morals, but not to be taken literally.”

Some Sort of Eternity, No Matter What
Before we evaluate the veracity of the “religion is a fairy tale” argument, we must first note that, no matter which fundamental worldview is true—Atheism or Pantheism or Theism—something absolutely has to be eternal, which I touched on in my post Objective Morality—Atheism vs. Pantheism vs. Theism.
•   If Atheism is true, the impersonal physical cosmos is eternal, ultimate and self-existent.
•   If Pantheism is true, the impersonal spiritual cosmos is eternal, ultimate and self-existent.
•   If Theism is true, then God alone is eternal, ultimate and self-existent—everything else is contingent.
To argue that the physical cosmos or the spiritual cosmos or God sprang into existence from absolute nothingness is beneath ridiculous—it is metaphysically impossible and, as a friend of mine put it, “Worse than resorting to magic.” So once again, eternity rears its head no matter which cosmology is correct.

Eternal Physical Matter and Energy, Cosmology and Evolution
So—in the case of Atheism—whether our current universe is eternal, or it is part of an infinite string of universes that continually explode into existence and then collapse upon themselves, or it is part of an ensemble of virtually innumerable alternate universes (per Stephen Hawking), Atheism fundamentally teaches the existence of eternal, infinitely interacting impersonal matter and energy. There is no way around it. And at an initial glance, this appears to be very good news for Atheism …

Firstly, the existence of eternal matter and energy would allow Atheism to escape the jaws of the Kalam Cosmological Argument, of which WLC is a leading proponent. Because the current scientific evidence seems to strongly indicate the visible universe has not been here forever, the Kalam Cosmological Argument would indicate there must therefore be a Creator to explain the universe—God. But if our current universe is part of some sort of eternal chain or ensemble of self-existent matter and energy, then God is unnecessary, and we need not concoct any “divine fairy tale” to explain our existence.

Secondly, Theists have often attacked the Theory of Evolution based upon the extreme statistical improbability of the complex biological life forms found on planet earth coming into existence apart from the help of an Intelligent Designer (a.k.a. God). The amount of seemingly intelligent engineering required to generate even a single cell is staggering, much less a chimpanzee or a whale. Even a 20-billion-year-old universe is not enough to overcome the odds against Evolution … but eternal matter and energy easily solves the problem! After all, given infinite interactions within endless time, space and material, even the most statistically improbable events will eventually occur. Voila! Any statistical problems with Evolution have been eliminated, and there is no reason the atheistic cosmos could not generate human beings. So now the need for fairy tales has been entirely eliminated … or has it?

The Unanticipated Problem with Eternal Matter and Energy
Although infinite time/material solves all statistical problems with Evolution, therein lies the rub, since it also solves all statistical problems with everything else—including fairies, unicorns, goblins, dragons and gnomes. Although God could choose to create krakens, chimeras and griffons, the Almighty is not obligated to do so. In contrast, the eternal atheistic cosmos is statistically obligated to create all possible forms of matter and energy, including Poseidon, the World Serpent, Darth Vader and Papa Smurph.

Under Atheism, the Lord of the Rings epic will play itself out an infinite number of times, with infinitely varied results. Sometimes it plays out exactly as JRR Tolkien wrote the original stories. Sometimes Sauron and the bad guys win. And sometimes Gandalf and Sauron reconcile and drink kombucha together on Mount Doom. In other words, if Atheism is true, fairy tales must also be true! So the “religion is a silly fairy tale” argument actually implodes on itself.

And What about Religious Miracles?
The historicity of the Bible is frequently dismissed by atheists because it contains miracles. And yet, given eternal matter and energy, there is absolutely no reason to doubt the veracity of any of the Biblical miracles, or those of any other religion for that matter (including Wiccan superstitions, etc.). If those miracles did not happen in our universe, they must have happened in another one.

Sooner or later a young virgin named Mary will develop a hermaphroditic or asexual mutation, plus a random Y chromosome in her ovaries, so she can impregnate herself with a male child named Jesus. In our universe, Moses led the Hebrews through the Red Sea. In another universe, Jabba the Hutt led the Chinese through the Pacific. Given eternal matter and energy, it will eventually happen!

Too Old for Fairy Tales
In December of 2014 in America, some atheist organizations purchased billboards in multiple heavily religious states, in order to run an anti-religious campaign during the holiday season. The billboards depicted a nice young lady looking rather incredulous. The headliner said something to the tune of: “Dear Santa—All I want for Christmas is to not have to go to church. I’m too old for fairy tales.” But the irony of this self-defeating billboard campaign is that if Atheism is true, fairy tales are true. So apparently that young lady is too old for Atheism!

And Don’t Forget Easter, a.k.a. Resurrection Sunday!
Given infinite time and material, there will even be accidental resurrections from the dead, when the universe reconstitutes bodies that had previously been destroyed or expired on their own. If Jesus did not rise from the dead in our world, He must have risen from the dead in another world. So if Atheism is true, even the Resurrection itself cannot be ruled out. Apparently, everyone can celebrate the Resurrection each year, though of course, Biblical Christianity alone proclaims its true meaning!

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Orion

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Re: Do Atheists Believe in Fairy Tales?
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2017, 08:14:20 am »
To Be Strictly Technical
Mind you, even within the framework of eternal matter and energy, perhaps an atheist could try to eliminate certain religious miracles as defying the laws of physics and therefore impossible. Point taken, but then again the latest versions of the Infinite Multiverse Theory often allow for varied laws of physics among the nearly innumerable universes, which throws open the doors for everything from Star Wars light sabers to Star Trek subspace anomalies. The parting of the Red Sea could be caused by worm holes allowing gravitational fields from alternate universes to separate ocean waters just in time for the Hebrews to pass through on dry land, only for the worm holes to accidentally close just as the Egyptian army tries to follow.

Assorted Primates
And even if the laws of physics in the current observable universe are absolute throughout eternal time and space, Atheism still has to face the reality that everything from gremlins to gargoyles will accidentally evolve. Smurfs are merely small primates with blue pigmentation in their skin (nothing physically impossible there!). Fairies are small primates with latent bird or pterodactyl DNA that bestows them with wings. Orcs are simply carnivorous primates that tend to be more aggressive than earth's homo sapiens.

Talking Animals
One atheist I know likes to mock the Bible as "The Talking Donkey Book", due to the account of the donkey correcting Balaam (Numbers 22:30). And at first glance, he seems to have a humorous point. However, talking four-legged animals are really no more incredible than talking two-legged animals (a.k.a. humans). Given eternally interacting matter and energy, there will eventually be talking animals just like those described in CS Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia.

In Summary...
Although we can split hairs over what is or isn't physically possible via infinite Evolution within the framework of an eternal atheistic cosmos, the fundamental point is that Atheism has no valid standpoint to mock religion as a "fairy tale"—and the Bible cannot be dismissed as historically unreliable solely because it describes some events that are statistically unlikely.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2017, 08:35:42 am by Orion »

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Re: Do Atheists Believe in Fairy Tales?
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2017, 01:01:13 pm »
Yes, I think so.  As in everything, the battle for definitions really applies in this area.  The philosophical trend for atheists these days seems to be naturalism/materialism, but it leaves them at a loss to explain the origins of the universe and other likely metaphysical explanations such as consciousness, creativity of mind, etc.

To this, they usually just assume their worldview as default and dare you as a theist to refute it.  I had one atheist friend recently tell me the only things that should be counted as evidence are things that can be proven scientifically (scientism).  Aside from that statement itself being self refuting, I pointed out that it also eliminates the majority of human experience and fails to take into account the fallibility of science.

If he were to live in other times, his faith would have been completely unfounded that the sun revolved around the earth or that life spontaneously generated.  It seems to me that they are trying to take an ultrasafe stance but in doing so, they make two major mistakes in my opinion:

1) They take most of life for granted and ignore the associated why questions.

2) They remove human value and purpose from words like evidence and truth and thus devalue humanity itself.

In conclusion, self-delusion may be the worst of all fairy tales to believe in.

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bruce culver

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Re: Do Atheists Believe in Fairy Tales?
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2017, 05:12:40 pm »
I just found this thread. It didn't get much attention, but I thought it rhetorically clever enough to warrant a response.

Unfortunately for the argument, while rhetorically clever it is riddled with fallacious reasoning.

In a nutshell, I think the argument is that multiverse theory looks good for rationalizing atheism, but that basically it proves too much. That's not the whole of the argument, but it seems to be the crux of it.

Sure, maybe it makes it reasonable to think that life and consciousness could have evolved by random processes, but it also means that we have no reason to doubt all the miracles that are reported in the Bible. OK, maybe there's more to it than that, but I think that is the crux of it.

However, this is just a fallacious argument as I will explain.

Yes, an infinite multiverse would make it so that even exceedingly unlikely, though still possible events would all happen somewhere at some time. And, yes, when we combine that with the fact that we could only find ourselves in those times and places where life is possible, it does sufficiently explain why we are here. However, there is nothing in let's say a virgin giving birth or Moses parting the Red Sea that is necessary for us to find ourselves in a position to observe it. As, such while the ex post facto probability that we would find ourselves in a world that supports life are 1. This cannot be said of any of the "miracles" mentioned, and so it would still be highly unlikely that we would find ourselves in a world where a virgin gave birth or Moses parted the Red Sea. Maybe it would render the P>0, but it would not render it anywhere near 1 and infect it would still be exceedingly low and we would still be justified in considering any report of such an event much more likely to be fantastic than factual.

I have several other problems with the arguments made in this post, but I'll have to get to them later.
"The world is my country and my religion is to do good."

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Orion

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Re: Do Atheists Believe in Fairy Tales?
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2019, 01:40:43 pm »
Hello Bruce  - thanks for weighing in with your thoughts.

The basic premise of my post is that atheism has now retreated to the point where it needs the Infinite Multiverse in order to justify all the statistically improbable events of atheism. (This was on full display in Dr. Craig's recent debate with Dr. Hester, where Dr. Hester repeatedly mentioned his faith in the Multiverse as a scientific reality.) Given infinite time, space, matter and energy, even the most statistically unlikely events will eventually occur, which you acknowledged in your response to my post. Your alleged demonstration of my "fallacious" reasoning merely points out that humans wouldn't necessarily be there to observe events like the Parting of the Red Sea (or any other Biblical miracle) in every single case and that such miracles aren't necessary for general biological life to exist. But that is completely irrelevant.

Per the opening line of the paragraph where you critiqued my reasoning, you said: "Yes, an infinite multiverse would make it so that even exceedingly unlikely, though still possible events would all happen somewhere at some time." Translation: Any and all physically possible events where the P>0, even just barely and microscopically above 0, will eventually occur. Within the Infinite Multiverse framework, that fact is inescapable. The existence of humans as observers to events like talking donkeys is completely immaterial. Per the opening line of your own paragraph, the probability of absolutely everything that is physically possible in the Infinite Multiverse automatically becomes 1 (100% probable). This is one of the unintentional side effects of the Infinite Multiverse - everything that is physically possible has a probability of 1, and everything that is physically impossible has a probability of 0. There effectively becomes no in-between probabilities, regardless of whether or not some outside observers happen to witness a particular statistically unlikely event or not (though they eventually will observe it at some point in time and space). As such, your critique actually confirmed my entire core premise.

The only way for atheism to attempt to debunk Biblical miracles (or humanoid varmints like trolls) is to demonstrate why particular events (such as Jesus's resurrection) are still 100% physically impossible within the Infinite Multiverse, since they might violate the laws of physics. Although I admittedly pointed things out in a tongue-in-cheek way, we could easily concoct atheistic explanations for most if not all of the Biblical miracles (i.e. a virgin with a hermaphroditic or asexual adaptation to impregnate herself, etc.). Additionally, fairies, unicorns, the Smurfs, Tolkien's orcs and all other physically possible species must exist in the Infinite Multiverse (there's no reason why orcs and goblins are somehow statistically less probable than humans - after all, they're just carnivorous primates).

Based upon the above, I merely (and correctly) pointed out the Infinite Multiverse completely undermines any potential atheistic mockery of religious "fairy tales".

You mentioned you found other potential fallacies in my reasoning, and I really appreciate your time. I look forward to your further critique!
« Last Edit: May 12, 2019, 02:24:00 pm by Orion »