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What’s Wrong with Using Bayes’ Theorem on Miracles?

In this essay John Loftus defends Hitchens’ razor: "What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence." Christopher Hitchens' point was that miracle claims without any evidence should be dismissed without a further thought. Bayes' theorem requires the existence of some credible evidence/data before it can be correctly used in evaluating miracle claims. So to be Bayes-worthy, a miracle claim must first survive Hitchens' razor, which dismisses all miracle claims asserted without any evidence. If this first step doesn't take place, Bayes is being used inappropriately and must be opposed as irrelevant, unnecessary, and even counterproductive in our honest quest for truth.

On the Existence of Barbers and God

A popular advocacy video on YouTube attempting to rebut arguments from evil has been disseminating among Christian religious organizations for about a decade. In an attempt to show that arguments from evil for the nonexistence of God fail, the video likens them to arguments from (human) longhairs to the nonexistence of barbers. In this article, James R. Henderson refutes the suggested theodicy that an all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly good God allows apparently gratuitous evils to occur because God wants more human beings to come to Him of their own free will.

Does God Exist?

Does God exist? Perhaps, if you mean something metaphorical by "God," you might be able to honestly answer in the affirmative. Otherwise, the most we can say is "I don't know." But honest people can go farther and say that the existence of unseen spirits is unlikely. When you get down to it, the only evidence of God's existence is that holy men, past and present, say he exists. But if their assertions about God are as valid as their assertions about witches, their trillion-dollar empires rest on fantasy.

The Pandemic Disproves God

The pandemic gripping the world raises the age-old philosophical dilemma called "the problem of evil"—which asks why a supposedly all-loving God does nothing to stop horrors like diseases, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, and the like. If there's an all-merciful father-creator, why did he make breast cancer, childhood leukemia, cerebral palsy, natural disasters, and predator animals that rip peaceful grazers apart?

The World’s Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death

The current COVID-19 pandemic has led many, whether believers or not, to consider how widespread suffering can be reconciled with a belief in a loving God. In this article, Shaw considers the arguments advanced by people of faith to square this circle, such as the idea that the novel coronavirus has been sent by God as a punishment.

Thank God for the Atheist

In this article, H. J. van der Meer points out that although much of the world believes in some sort of divine being/s, believers seem perfectly happy to use scientific creations like modern medicines, artificial fertilizers, or mobile phones. He points out that these products could only have arisen from a manner of thinking that has also led us to understand the natural world as a product of evolutionary processes. Although this scientific (or naturalistic) view of the world is incomplete and the world is not fully comprehensible, the worldview is the logical consequence of the methodology. Nevertheless, many Christians believe in a 'god of the gaps' that is called upon when scientific explanations fail, and they may even advocate Intelligent Design creationism. At least traditional (young-earth) creationists, Jews, and Muslims, he notes, are less hypocritical in their rejection of scientific theories about the evolution of life and the universe: they stick to their belief in a divine Creator in the teeth of the evidence. But what is it that causes people to cling so firmly to their religion, and become so suspicious of science, in the first place?

The Internet Gives Doubters a Home

The Internet provides a worldwide haven for freethought—and it also creates more freethought. If in-person meetings can't make a sanctuary for doubters, cyberland can. Religions spent centuries draining believers' resources to build a trillion-dollar global labyrinth of cathedrals, churches, mosques, temples, synagogues, etc. Skeptics have only a few physical citadels. But, with little investment, the secular movement is making a worldwide intellectual home in the scientific marvel of cyberspace.

The Search for Meaning

We unsure people are doomed to be seekers, always searching for a meaning to life, but never quite finding one. Both the cosmos and our biosphere seem utterly indifferent to humanity, caring not a whit whether we live or die. Only a monster would arrange the monstrosities too often found in our world, and do nothing to save the victims. So common sense proves that the beneficent modern God is a fantasy who doesn't exist. We who are not orthodox religious believers can't find any underlying reason for existence. And we know that death looms ahead. So we must make the interval as enjoyable as possible, while we're here.

Why Would Anyone Believe Justin Barrett’s Theistic Arguments?

Christian psychologist Justin Barrett argues that belief in immaterial minds is similar to and justifies belief in God. In this essay Michael D. Reynolds demonstrates that Barrett's concept of mind is outmoded. Moreover, Barrett does not distinguish between innate beliefs in other people's mental abilities and the cultural concept of mind, which is learned, not innate. The belief that other people think, have emotions, and so forth is supported by evidence, but there is no evidence for the existence of God.

Barrett presumes that "atheism" is difficult to maintain because innate ways of thinking promote belief in spirits. In response, Reynolds provides some of the reasons for nontheism and refutes Barrett's arguments that having moral principles and confidence in one's beliefs pose special problems for nontheists. Reynolds concludes that, to the contrary, living as a nontheist is not difficult and does not require social and cultural segregation to sustain it.

How to Use the Argument From Evil

The problem of evil can be used in two different ways. It can be used offensively; that is, in an attempt to criticize and undermine theistic belief, to show that theism is false and that belief in God is unfounded--a very difficult task. But the problem of evil can also be used defensively, i.e., to show that atheism is epistemically warranted, justified, or reasonable. Such efforts can succeed even when the proffered arguments fail to convince theists that God does not exist.

Why I Am an Atheist

"This is my argument for not believing in god. If others choose to believe despite his failings then that is their business. I have no argument with them; they are entitled to believe whatever they want. But don't expect me to go along with them and agree."

From the Outside

Richard Smith had been a lifelong Christian until he underwent an unexpected deconversion in 2011 at the age of 54. "From the Outside" explains his reasoning. As one of our reviewers commented: "Comprehensive in its coverage, has emotional impact, and is meaningful in its intent. Welcome to the sane world of atheism."

Evidence for Atheism

A challenge often presented to Atheists by fundamentalist Christians and various Theists is that Atheists have no proof there is no God, therefore Atheism is just another faith. Although Atheists do not have the Burden of Proof, there are two main categories of evidence that can be used to provide philosophical justification for an atheistic worldview: evidential arguments and logical evidence against God's existence. I conclude that the mainstream concept of God is logically impossible; the problem of evil is proof positive for the nonexistence of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God; the demographics of Theism are better explained by Atheism; and Theism does not have a good explanation for the problems of suffering and the arguments for Atheism.

Christianity Has Been Destroyed

The April 9, 2012 issue of Newsweek International contains a refreshingly honest jeremiad about the degenerate state of American Christianity ("The forgotten Jesus") written by Andrew Sullivan, a confessed Christian. Mr. Sullivan does not ascribe his and other persons' "thirst for God" to indoctrination. Instead, he attributes it to three questions, which he calls "the profoundest human questions" and describes as "pressing and mysterious": What happens to us after death? How did humanity come to be on this remote blue speck of a planet? Why does the universe exist rather than nothing? The purpose of this essay is to answer, or provide sources of answers to, these questions.

Why the Abundance Theory of Creation Fails

"How can God be both a perfect being and the creator of the universe? Doesn't the fact that he created the world imply that he had a need or want? Otherwise, why would he bother creating anything at all? But then, if he had a need that implied the existence of the universe in order to be fulfilled, it seems he is not perfect: he lacks something. But by definition, a perfect being could not lack anything. So if the universe exists, God is not perfect, so God does not exist."

Dialogue Between a Protestant Minister and a Dying Teenager

I decided to write this story as a way of explaining my position as an atheist. Like the teen in the dialogue, I believe that there is no objective meaning to life and that we have an opportunity to create our own subjective meaning. "Imagine" by John Lennon is my favorite song because of its beautiful melody, voice, and the message it tells. I thought that a fictional dialogue would be a satisfying method to express my views. The idea of a dialogue between a minister and a dying person was inspired by the Marquis de Sade's work Dialogue Between a Priest and a Dying Man, wherein a priest tries to convert a Man to Christianity before he dies.

The Nature of Information: A Doorway to a Postreligious World

Atheism is not a worldview and provides no understanding of the nature of the universe; it is simply a denial of the existence of God and it is essentially useless as a contribution to our understanding of the world. So, the question arises—if there is no God, what is the nature of the universe and how can we understand it and our place in it?

Why Choose Creationism?

"It is misguided to regard the growth of Creationism as a major threat to Western civilization. On the contrary, Creationism is exactly what we can expect to see from a collapsing religion. It's last-ditch defensive behavior—the equivalent of a hedgehog rolling into a ball. It's what's left of Christianity when all the behavioral precepts have been discarded. It is belief for the sake of belief. So if you're an atheist, please don't waste too much energy on Creationism."

To Pray… or to Sacrifice a Goat?

"Let me be succinct and clear: prayer is a useless exercise, undertaken by those who, in a fit of childish delusion, believe they can effect change in the real world by falling to their knees and murmuring to themselves. These people, oftentimes adults who have been properly educated and who can function in day-to-day society quite serviceably, are under the distinctly infantile impression that muttering under their breath can affect the outcome of some circumstance in which they have a stake, emotional or otherwise."

More Than an Atheist

"Are you an atheist?" always makes me feel somewhat awkward, uncertain how to respond. It is not that I mind having people know that I do not believe in God. I have never been a believer, and I am unconcerned about who knows it. My problem with "atheist" is that it is too negative and does not say enough about what I consider to be true.

Raising Kids Without Religion

"We must teach our children to recognize their radiating effects on all they touch, and not only acknowledge their mighty power but embrace the responsibility that comes with it to further humanity's development, not for rewards in an afterlife, but to help make it possible for generations to come to experience living."