(response revised April, 2006)
I am Anisha Narayan, I am a student of science, and I firmly believe in all your ideologies with regard to positive atheism. I am very firm in my beliefs and I do not hide them from society no matter what the consequences may be. My reasons to be an atheist are very, very scientific.
But once I met a man who thought it was illogical to be an atheist, and when I asked him, “Why?” he took me back in time, to the times of evolution and stuff. He kept asking me how the events took place, but when he got me down to the big bang, the reason as to why the universe came into being, he asked me how that happened and I was stumped. I did not have an answer.
However strongly that I believe god does not exist, I did give it a thought, and I was angry because I didn’t have an answer to explain my beliefs. But I still am a non-believer though.
In reference to incidents like this, how do I keep up to my beliefs as much as I’d like to, if I am to be a positive-atheist?
Awaiting your fast reply,
From: “Positive Atheism”
To: “Anisha Narayan”
Date: May 17, 2002
The “positive atheism” of which you speak is the strongly held belief that by the very nature of god-claims themselves, all god-claims are necessarily falsehood.
When we use the term, we follow (somewhat, but not precisely) the lead of Gora from Vijayawada, AP, India, in that our sense of morality includes being very aware of our atheism to the point of formulating one’s own personal moral code around the fact of one’s atheism. In this sense, “positive” is uses in the sense of being proactive, responding to wrong situations rather than ignoring them, etc.
One important part of being an atheist is admitting that we don’t have all the answers. One of those answers that we do not have regards how the Big Bang occurred. We have some very good educated guesses, hypotheses that satisfy many questions and raise very few objections. But fast and solid answers will come only when we have built and used the equipment needed to re-create some of the situations back then: an accelerator large enough to justify building it on the Moon, for example. We will also need to build and use equipment that can help us to identify more of the various particle components of the Universe.
Particle physicist Victor Stenger, a PAM correspondent among other things, has assembled all the important clues that we, through science, have thus far obtained. He says that what started the big bang was probably a quantum fluctuation. This would have required zero energy to get going, thus satisfying the “something from nothing” objection raised by virtually all other claims (including theism’s creation myths). He calls the Universe “the ultimate free lunch” in that it started with zero energy and has since “used up” zero energy to come to this point in its history.
The quantum fluctuation model, he told me, does not violate any known or currently accepted laws of physics. If this is the case, he says, then there would have been no room whatsoever for there having been an intelligent creator. Of course! Zero energy was used and, as this model suggests, the level of randomness (entropy, chaos) was at the highest we could possibly see it. Neither condition suggests intelligence or design, and it strongly appears that both conditions existed at the very beginning of the Universe.
Stenger does insist that if the god of either Judaism, Christianity, or Islam existed, then we would be able to use scientific means to detect evidence that such a being does, in fact, exist.
This is all very interesting, but is rendered moot by the fact that even though scientists cannot prove any of the hypotheses that various people have posited for how the Universe might have started, neither can the theists prove the historical validity of any of their extant creation myths.
Well, since you’re from India, it becomes important for me to mention that they cannot prove any of the creation myths that have specific details. As your experience with Hindus and Hinduism has no doubt shown you, it is very convenient to hide behind what I call “The Cloak of Ineffability”; it’s every easy to throw up one’s hands and say, “We cannot know the ways of God!” An alert skeptic will usually point out that without details, you have no real claim: if you have nothing to say about “the ways of God,” then you offer nothing for us to either prove or disprove! At this point, the theist often starts to produce specifics, and with specifics, he opens his ideas up to criticism. This is precisely why when I bother to enter into a discussion of The God Question at all, I will start by asking my theistic opponent to describe for me what he means when he uses the term “God.” From this point forward, my argument springs solely from what the theist has told me about his “God.” I make no assumptions this way, but most importantly, I get details that, as the popular film from the mid-1980s suggests, “Stop Making Sense”!
The bottom line for such a discussion, at this point, is that there is nothing about any of the claims regarding the beginning of the Universe that make them useful for trying to determine whether or not any of the god-claims are valid. In the vernacular, discussing creation or evolution does nothing toward proving or disproving the notion that one or more gods exist.
So, once again, we remain atheists, having been given no reasons to accept or assent to the claims of theism.
Here’s an additional note from Corey, our editor:
This links to a page with example dialogues showing that wherever scientists do not have answers, neither do the creationists.
Scientists nevertheless have many more answers than do the creationists.
No matter how they cloak it, creationism remains nothing more and nothing less than religious faith.
Thanks for writing! It’s great to hear from you again!
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