TL;DR – Religion cannot be ignored as a cause of hate. Religion cannot get a free pass.
19. 06. 2017, on Monday morning, around 12:20 AM a terrorist has driven a van into pedestrians in London. The man intentionally rammed into worshippers attending Ramadan night prayers at the mosque. All of the casualties were Muslims.
This is truly a despicable attack as it was targeted at peaceful worshippers. Same as other terrorist attacks, victims turn out to be people who generally have nothing to do with current problems in the world – innocent bystanders.
Naturally, as you can imagine, social media immediately exploded, with both sides being quick to point out that not all Muslims are terrorists, not all Christians are terrorists, not all Christians are radicalized, etc., etc..
This somehow really, really, really seems to miss the entire point of discussion, because every “NOT ALL …” proclamation merely stops any further conversation and this is in nobody’s interest, really. The thing is – terrorism does happen. We as a species need to be able to figure out WHY. No, you do NOT know why. Some of the greatest minds in politics, philosophy, even science are NOT 100% certain WHY.
Image by Pexels / Pixabay - Public Domain
Many times, you can hear the so-called “first cause” argument and that it supposedly proves the existence of God.
The argument goes something like this:
- The Universe had a Beginning
- If the Universe had a beginning, it must have had (transcendental) cause that is outside of our reality – first cause
- The Universe has a first cause that is outside our limits
- This cause must be powerful
- This cause is God
On the first glance, the argument it does look powerful.
But, sometimes if one is witty enough, one can remember what was written by various philosophers before.
TL;DR – That science and religion do not clash as they are not concerned with the same things is basically a mantra invented by religious people to have their religion not questioned.
The entire point of this post can be summarized by the image above.
It can also be perfectly explained by paraphrasing Sam Harris: There is NOT a single thing for which once we had a scientific answer, but for which we now have a much better religious answer, while through history we have countless examples where things were once explained by religion, but are now better explained by science.
It basically goes in this one way, every single time. It is almost every time science really advances knowledge about our universe, religion somehow falls back, loses credibility. To prove this point just think about that once religion claimed that the Earth was stationary, until science proved this wrong. Same with Earth being the center of the universe, and the sun going around it. This can also be seen in the science disproving nonsense that is Noah’s ark, for example. Then the creationism of man, which was disproved by evolution / geology / astronomy. Nowadays creationism is mostly replaced by so-called “intelligent design” where people are simply saying “ok, some kind of evolution did happen, but it was god who guided it” .. or “god started it”, or something similar.
Of course, even these things are being disproved by science right as we speak. For example, through the human body there is evidence of “bad design”, meaning no intelligent designer would do things in this manner, but on the other hand, they are perfectly explained by evolution.
CC0 Public Domain – Mikegi / Pixabay
If you ever encountered an “atheist post” on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or some other social media platform, you might have had a passing thought what really motivated the author?
Or maybe you even encountered a bit “sharper” post, which maybe even offended you for a split second, right before you continued scrolling further down to funny cats and vacation photos which don’t question your beliefs.
Or as an extreme example, you might have even been seriously offended and choose to comment and resorted to ad hominem?
Image by OpenClipart-Vectors/Pixabay
So, a thought might have occurred to you “Why do Atheists Speak Out”? Maybe even: “I don’t try to prove that God exists, I don’t bother anybody, so why do they bother me?”
Well, first of all, if you were personally offended by an Atheist in a debate for example, who resorted to ad hominem, let me make perfectly clear that I do not support this kind of arguments. They are weak and not needed, because there are so many good arguments why there is no God. We’ll touch upon these arguments in some other post.
Let us get the obligatory thing out of the way. Almost every statement and counterargument today revolves around the “Not all _ do that”. OF COURSE not all Atheists do that. That is besides the point. People do generalize and we ought to recognize that there is some amount of truth in these generalizations. Also, the “not all _” reply basically stops the conversation. An I think almost any conversation should be generally open, because that is how the society moves forward.
One of the things that has a great potential to irritate is the denial of basic and proven scientific truths. A lot of confusion can come from the fact that a theory in science is something very different from the regular understanding of the word “theory”. We touched upon this already.
A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method and repeatedly tested and confirmed, preferably using a written, pre-defined, protocol of observations and experiments. Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge.
So, to cut through this confusion, here’s a MEME to show what evolution is:
First of all, I am not a scientist, but I do know how to read and how to think for myself. Also, when something matters to me, I will take the time to study it, to read about it, to make myself at least a bit more familiar with it than I would have been if I relied on my education alone. The sad fact is, education in my time (and even today) is not focused on teaching critical thinking, but memorizing facts, which makes students more robots than educated citizens. But I digress.
So, how do scientists know that evolution really happened?
By Zephyris at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
When you think about potential evidence for evolution, you immediately think FOSSILS. But, as we shall see, fossils are actually only extra, bonus, icing on the cake … however you wish to call it. The case for evolution would be air-tight without any fossil evidence whatsoever!!
How? Well, let’s just see.
You might have heard this clever wordplay about how the fact that there is no evidence for something does not mean that this does not exist. People proclaiming “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” want to say that just because humans have not found evidence for something, it is not excluded that this does not exist.
Well, yes, it is not excluded, but evidence can be used to infer the presence or not presence of something. “For instance, if a doctor does not find any malignant cells in a patient, finding nothing is evidence of absence of cancer, even though the doctor has not actually detected anything per se.” – Wikipedia
As this shows us, the evidence is one thing and PROOF is another thing. We are not talking about proof here. Do NOT confuse evidence and proof. The proof is a difficult thing and it’s almost always close to impossible. Proof only really exists in mathematics. Evidence, however, does give reason to SUSPECT absence, to consider absence very, very, very likely. So, what’s all this with evidence of absence?
There is always a small, minuscule possibility that the evidence has not been observed yet, but this doesn’t mean that this possibility can and should be used to hang on to outrageously unlikely beliefs. Just the opposite.
Image by stevepb / Pixabay. Public Domain.
When analysing an idea to decide what evidence is necessary to support it, we should always take into account what evidence should be there and how much of it should be there. If there should be a LOT of evidence for something and we know exactly what the evidence should be, then a lack of this evidence does indeed allow us to dismiss this idea.
One thing that has a big tendency to both annoy and to actually damage the World is the “It’s their culture” proclamation. There are real problems with it. Basically, this proclamation is often heard when trying to defend bigoted, racist, sexist or misogynist behaviour. Effectively we’re saying that people are entitled to their own culture, and the often horrific behaviour is simply the part of the culture, so we should all simply live with it.
By Nitin Madhav (USAID), exact source, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Most often it is used when somebody tries to criticise actions of Islam extremists and/or treatment of women in Islam, but it’s not limited to this use. It’s also used to justify circumcision, or teaching that God created the Earth is six days in schools. However, it’s lately mostly used about Islam, so this post will continue in this tone.
First of all, when you use this argument, you’re applying the different standard to the people you’re saying this about. A standard which is less strict about women’s rights, for example, than we in the West are accustomed to. This in of itself is bad, as basically people who say things like “this is normal in their culture” are guilty of racism of low expectations. It comes down to “these brown people, we just expect this from them, we cannot hold them to the same standard as us”. Well, isn’t this a repulsive thing to think and say?