Sunday, September 1, 2019

A Letter To Christian Apologists

From: An ex-Devout Catholic (my background)

"I don't know if there is a God (agnostic), and you don't either. I am an atheist because there is no evidence in support of such. Efforts to convince people that understanding reality through Faith is a way to Truth is Gaslighting." ~Tom Rafferty

As you delve into this letter, please understand that you and I use different epistemology in arriving at Truth. I use science-based thinking in evaluating ALL claims on our reality, whereas, in matters pertaining to religion, you use magical thinking or faith-based thinkingThis 30-min video and this 10-min video clarify the difference.  

Please ponder the following points and questions:
  • Philosophy
The difference between philosophy and science: Science used inductive reasoning (from the bottom up) which results in probable conclusions. Philosophy uses deductive reasoning (from the top down) and the conclusion has "certainty" IF all of the argument is true. However, every logical syllogism and argument for an interventionist deity has at least one unsupported assertion (these are some examples). This summarizes the problem with philosophy:  there is no consensus.

Philosophy and logic are important foundations for the methods of determining reality we call science. However, they do not substitute for evidence. If there is poor or no evidence for something, there is no reason to believe it is real, no matter what philosophy or logic say on the matter. The booster rockets of philosophy and logic have launched science for best determining reality. Philosophy and logic are necessary to understand objective reality but are not sufficient.

"Formal logic alone doesn’t prove anything. It often leads to false conclusions about the real universe. If we relied on formal logic we would not have science. We need to let the universe tell us how it behaves." ~Lawrence Krauss 

If you think that any "Minimum Facts" arguments will work with me, click on this link.

This episode of Matt Dillahunty's Atheist Experience is instructive. To any Christian apologist who thinks that this caller was a poor Defender of the Faith: the only difference between him and you is that you would have thrown the philosophy "kitchen sink" at Matt but it would have had the same effect. Matt simply presented science-based thinking and such crushes any attempt to justify Faith.

One debating technique that some who place too much emphasis on philosophy use is asking inappropriate/impractical questions. Please don't do that.

This is my final comment on philosophy (link).
  • Morality
Christian apologists usually criticize the secular society because of its "moral relativism": "Moral judgments are true or false only relative to some particular standpoint (for instance, that of a culture or a historical period) and that no standpoint is uniquely privileged over others. (link)

The problem is, most secular people I know adhere to the basic tenets of "utilitarianism":

"Utilitarians believe that the purpose of morality is to make life better by increasing the number of good things (such as pleasure and happiness) in the world and decreasing the number of bad things (such as pain and unhappiness). They reject moral codes or systems that consist of commands or taboos that are based on customs, traditions, or orders given by leaders or supernatural beings. Instead, utilitarians think that what makes a morality be true or justifiable is its positive contribution to human (and perhaps non-human) beings." (link

There are some nuances and branches of utilitarian moral philosophy that are explained well in this video: (link)

Human morality comes from evolution and socialization, no authoritarian outside of us is necessary (link).

If religion is needed for morality, why are religious children meaner, less empathetic, and less altruistic than children brought up in non-religious homes? (link)
  • Science vs. Religion
Both of us use evidence to conduct our everyday lives.  However, you exclude this requirement when addressing religion and faith.  Why?  Here is a good look at "Faith."

Most of you are certain without evidence. I am uncertain but form beliefs based on probabilities from facts.  Can you look at these very different degrees of certainty and honestly support your level of certainty without evidence?  You may be able to justify it to yourself, but not to me.

I am open to changing my opinion on any subject if I am presented with evidence that makes my present opinion less likely to be true.  Can you say the same thing?

When presented with a claim, the first thing I consider is its plausibility:  Are there examples of the same phenomenon that are consistent with the laws of physics and other scientific realities? If not, then I expect extraordinary evidence in support of such a claim.  Can you say the same thing?

Scientists agree on so much and Christians disagree on so many issues.  Which of these levels of agreement is more likely to reveal the truth about reality? 

In science, it is the DATA that forms a consensus, NOT the individual scientists. (link)

Science has been a great force in understanding the reality within and around us.  It also has lead to tremendous improvement in the quality of life for humanity.  What concrete progress can you point to that is directly related to religion? (40 harmful effects of Christianity) (Secular societies fare better than religious societies)
  • Science has falsified Christian claims

"We can consider the existence of god to be a scientific hypothesis and look for the empirical evidence that would follow. Many of the attributes associated with the Judaic-Christian-Islamic God have specific consequences that can be tested empirically. Such a God is supposed to play a central role in the operation of the universe and the lives of humans. As a result, evidence for him should be readily detectable by scientific means." ~ Victor Stenger (The God Hypothesis)

Science shows that there was no "Original Sin" (link), therefore, there is no need for a "Savior." If you have any question about evolution, The FACT of evolution is as strong as the FACT of gravity. In addition, the deep history of Christianity essentially confirms that it is a human construct. Oh, don't forget, God created evil, so please don't put the onus on "Adam" or "Satan."

Science shows that the mind is very probably only a function of the brain and that there probably is no independent "soul."  It has been falsified several times by several branches of science.  The mind emerged from the brain, a common occurrence in nature (i.e. water from hydrogen and oxygen, an ant colony from individual ants, etc.). 

Science shows that the common, layperson concept of "free will" is probably an illusion (linklink).

No studies have supported the existence of miraclesMark 16:18 has been falsified. One prominent apologist offered one source as the "Best" support for miracles but clearly, it is debunked.

There is no evidence that prayer has any effect on natural occurrences. (link)

There is compelling evidence that sex/gender are not binary (link) (link) (link) (link) and that same-sex parenting is not a negative factor on children (link). Also, homosexuality is common in the animal kingdom (link). Oh, by the way, pornography is not harmful, and "shacking up" before marriage does not seem to be related to marital stability

Science (especially neuroscience and psychology) has studied religious experiences and can explain them through natural mechanisms. And, no, they are not signs of a need requiring satisfaction by something real (link). Oh, and a study of the history of religion points to Christianity's fallacy of special pleading (link).

This brief video clip is a nice synopsis of the challenge against a historical Jesus, let alone that he was God. This video expands on the author's efforts in this area of debunking. This video, as well as this part 2, presents more information in this area.
  • Additional Arguments for a God
You ask "Why is there something instead of nothing?" Why should we believe there ever was, or could be, "nothing?"  What is an example of "nothing?" (link)

You ask "How could something come from nothing?"  Causation is applicable to the point of the Big Bang.  What is "before" that instant is only speculation.  To posit a god as the "cause" of the Big Bang is just making stuff up.  Physics and mathematics present some interesting ideas suggesting a "multiverse" as the cause of our universe.  The concept of an infinite "multiverse" is at least as reasonable as a god and makes a god unnecessary. Beginning with Galileo,  physicists realize that the natural state of matter is motion unless acted on by an outside force (friction, wind, kinetic energy). This is the Law of Conservation of Momentum, thus, the hypothesis of an infinite universe with sub-universes spontaneously being created and we live in one of them is not unreasonable.

What is immaterial?  Has it ever been seen?  How is it different than the lay concept of nothing? Naturalism trumps Supernaturalism here and The Case for Naturalism also is made here.

"It's natural to think that living things must be the handiwork of a designer.  But it was also natural to think that the sun went around the earth.  Overcoming naive impressions to figure out how things really work is one of humanity's highest callings" ~Steven Pinker

"Nature --- provides the basis of comparison by which we distinguish between designed objects and natural objects. We are able to infer the presence of design only to the extent that the characteristics of an object differ from natural characteristics. Therefore, to claim that nature as a whole was designed is to destroy the basis by which we differentiate between artifacts and natural objects." ~George H. Smith

The Argument from Design is just another "God of the Gaps" argument (link).

You state that the universe is "fine-tuned" for humans because the probability is very low that it occurred randomly.  One cannot talk about the probability of anything in our universe happening until we know what all of the possibilities are. If our universe is larger than we think now, if our universe is infinite, if there are many multiverses and/or there are an infinite number of universes, then the chances of our world and everything in it increases significantly. Thus, presently, this argument of probability should not be used. 

(Teleological Argument debunked)

If our reality is designed, what would a random reality look like? C'mon, just look around you with an open mind: everything is random, the good, the bad, the ugly. You and I are the lucky ones.

Why is God so hidden?  After all, as recorded in the New Testament,  the contemporaries of Jesus believed in him via evidence, not faith.  Why should the rest of us believe via faith without evidence? 

Those who take the dogmas of Christianity or Judaism most seriously tend to be Trump supporters. (link, link) They are blind to the obvious: he is the most immoral person to ever become the POTUS. Please tell me ONE redeeming quality. How about the spike in hate crimes under him? Ya, "You will know them by their fruits." Perhaps the rejection of women's bodily autonomy and excitement over a potential hastening of "The End Times" are factors in this irrational thinking.

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          What is more likely?

a) 2000 years ago, God sent his Son to save us from the Original Sin of the first two humans, even though science shows that humanity did not begin from one couple but from a group and that human behavior is not unlike that of other social animals. This savior supposedly performed miracles, died and was resurrected. However, there is no independent contemporaneous verification from sources outside of the New Testament for any of this story (link) and the New Testament itself was written several decades after the time that these events would have occurred by unknown people who did not witness any of the events. Oh, and the oldest copies of this story that we have were written about 200-300 years after the supposed Jesus.
b) Christianity began like several other myths circulating before and at the same time in the Middle East and had the subsequent fortune of benefiting from a variety of circumstances to evolve into a major presence in society (link), in spite of serious inconsistency (Telephone game??) and evil in its Scriptures, at least Five Bogus Reasons to Trust the Bible, 8 reasons why Christianity is falseand Six Bible Texts to Help You Leave Christianity.
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  • In Summary, you are using the wrong "P" word: ("P"hilosophy instead of "P"sychology)
Science shows that the human mind is very susceptible to misperceptions, bias, and resistance to evidence that contradicts an opinion. (linklink). Also, well-established psychological principles support claims that belief in God is a by-product of human evolutionary success, including the Theory of Mind. 

Science is the only method available to objectively look at facts to overcome this natural tendency of the mind to deceive itself and, thus, comes the closest to understanding reality. (link)
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If you wish to be exposed to more challenges to your beliefs, this podcast should also help in expanding your knowledge:  Counter-Apologetics with Emerson Green (especially THIS episode), as well as this website and this YouTube Channel from my friend David Madison.

This YouTube video gives a plausible explanation of how Christianity probably began.

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Food for thought:
  1. Is there a better system than science to understand objective reality? If "Yes", what is it, and how do you justify the truth of its findings? If "No", then answer #2-4 below.
  2. Can science evaluate all claims affecting our reality? (yes or no only)
  3. Would you change your opinion if science states that there is not enough evidence to support your claim? (yes or no only)
  4. Can you be wrong?  (yes or no only) If "Yes", how would you know you are so? If "No", you are not ready to accept science-based thinking yet.
***If you disagree with this post, how do you justify or verify that your beliefs are true? What is your view regarding the value of evidence?***
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A final comment. I am in good conscience and no one should judge me regarding what you think will be my final status upon death. I accept what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say on the matter: "1800 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience."


  1. I really think you need to engage with the philosophy of religion in more detail. The fact that you cite people like Krauss, who is philosophically illiterate, isn't a good sign that you understand philosophy. The atheist professor David Albert pointed out in his NYT review of his book that Krauss has no idea what he is talking about on this subject.

    Second, I see no evidence that you have read any of the major scholars in this area: Ed Feser, David Oderberg, Alexander Pruss, Brian Davies etc. None of these guys say science is wrong: only that there are certain areas of knowledge (metaphysics) that you need philosophy for. So that's what they do, make philosophical arguments for God that you would need to actually refute, not just ignore.

    Regarding your comments on the brain/mind, science has no idea how consciousness works. David Chalmers and, recently, Thomas Nagel have written about this. Read Nagel's "mind and cosmos" which came out in 2012. Neither one is a theist, they are just telling you the facts.

    You cite all sorts of random sources in this post: salon, random bloggers, youtubers, newspapers, but nobody who actually works in the philosophy of religion. Not even the atheist philosopher Graham Oppy!

    You quote that "the human mind is very susceptible to misperceptions, bias, and resistance to evidence that contradicts an opinion." You should ask whether the reason you haven't dealt with Feser, Davies, Oderberg, etc. not to mention Aquinas or Aristotle, is due to this same resistance.

  2. Wow, you appear to not have read at the beginning regarding my views on philosophy. I will not repeat myself in this comment.



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Choose how you look at reality wisely. Yes, it is a binary choice.

Choose how you look at reality wisely. Yes, it is a binary choice.
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