Dinesh D'Souza is a moron

Let’s just jump right into an article by Dinesh D’Souza.

But of late atheism seems to be losing its scientific confidence. One sign of this is the public advertisements that are appearing in billboards from London to Washington DC. Dawkins helped pay for a London campaign to put signs on city buses saying, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Humanist groups in America have launched a similar campaign in the nation’s capital. “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness sake.” And in Colorado atheists are sporting billboards apparently inspired by John Lennon: “Imagine…no religion.”

What is striking about these slogans is the philosophy behind them. There is no claim here that God fails to satisfy some criterion of scientific validation. We hear nothing about how evolution has undermined the traditional “argument from design.” There’s not even a whisper about how science is based on reason while Christianity is based on faith.

So because atheist and humanist organizations aren’t buying novel-size ad spaces, they’re abandoning science? Frankly, my dear, that’s fucking retarded. The reason these reasoned organizations are opting for messages encouraging people to be happy and to be good is that there is a far more complex message behind those words they wish to have come to light. Of course, it would be silly to buy ad space on some inconcise, rambling message. “Be good for goodness’ sake” helps to get at the heart of one atheist argument: we don’t need magic sky fairies to be good. D’Souza is right that there is a philosophy which is to be found behind these slogans, and no, not everyone carries a scientific reasoning behind them. It isn’t necessary that all atheists and humanists are interested in exploring how, perhaps, our morality comes from an innate sense with which we are all born thanks to our evolution as an intelligent, social animal. But it makes sense that in a successful tribe, sympathy, empathy, caring, love, and even self-sacrifice would be common, if not dominant, characteristics. There is always a place for atheists in the heart of science.

Instead, we are given the simple assertion that there is probably no God, followed by the counsel to go ahead and enjoy life. In other words, let’s not let God and his commandments spoil all the fun.

Lovely strawman. This isn’t about ‘disobeying God’ or any other rubbish like that which gets pedaled so ferociously by disingenuous Christians wishing to call atheists liars simply for maintaining a separate viewpoint. Atheists, agnostics, and humanists want people to live lives in which good deeds are done, care is given for our fellow man, and we celebrate our common humanity and community through our acts, words, and love. We don’t need any gods to tell us that loving and respecting one another is a good thing.

“Be good for goodness sake” is true as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go very far. The question remains: what is the source of these standards of goodness that seem to be shared by religious and non-religious people alike?

This is precisely the point of the atheist bus campaigns, D’Souza! I’m glad you’ve shown, in glorious clarity, an example of the success of the recent bus ads. It’s too bad you missed it.

The only difficulty, as Folger makes clear, is that there is no empirical evidence for the existence of any universes other than our own. Moreover, there may never be such evidence.

Sometimes I wonder if these journalists actually read the entire article/study/whathaveyou that they cite.

“If a theory did gain credibility by explaining previously unexplained features of the physical world, then we should take seriously its further predictions, even if those predictions aren’t directly testable,” [Cambridge University astrophysicist Martin Rees] says. “Fifty years ago we all thought of the Big Bang as very speculative. Now the Big Bang from one millisecond onward is as well established as anything about the early history of Earth.”

That’s science and that’s what atheists and humanists embrace.

Of course, this article cited by D’Souza is nothing more than a recount of the history of the anthropic principle, debuted 35 years ago and now combined with the subject of string theory and ideas of a multiverse to make it topical. All this principle says is that ‘If things were different, they would be different.’ Well, of course. If A didn’t happen, then B may be different. I believe Ashton Kutcher covered this topic fully in 2004.

When this argument that life is finely-tuned is put forth, nothing is really being said. It’s self-evident that the present and the future depend upon the past. Obviously, had [insert random physical phenomenon], then we may not be here to discuss these things. So what? In a few trillion years, there will be absolutely no evidence of humans to be discovered anywhere in the Universe. Does it mean anything to say now that the Universe is finely-tuned to eventually be void of life as we know it? Who cares?

Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

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3 Responses

  1. Lovely strawman. This isn’t about ‘disobeying God’ or any other rubbish like that which gets pedaled so ferociously by disingenuous Christians wishing to call atheists liars simply for maintaining a separate viewpoint. Atheists, agnostics, and humanists want people to live lives in which good deeds are done, care is given for our fellow man, and we celebrate our common humanity and community through our acts, words, and love. We don’t need any gods to tell us that loving and respecting one another is a good thing.

    Those are nice thoughts, but the fact is you have still failed to define what is ‘good’ and what would be one’s motivation for thinking about anyone else’s lives than one’s own. It is no little thing that many of the charitable organizations in the world began as religious charities, that many of the best colleges, hospitals, many of the civil rights movements, etc, are all rooted in the activity of people of faith. Doing ‘good’, contrary to bus ads placed by atheists, doesn’t seem to come naturally to humans, and so the best of our endeavors always seem to be the result of motivations that lie outside of ordinary human experience.
    That’s science and that’s what atheists and humanists embrace.
    Of course, this article cited by D’Souza is nothing more than a recount of the history of the anthropic principle, debuted 35 years ago and now combined with the subject of string theory and ideas of a multiverse to make it topical. All this principle says is that ‘If things were different, they would be different.’ Well, of course. If A didn’t happen, then B may be different. I believe Ashton Kutcher covered this topic fully in 2004.
    When this argument that life is finely-tuned is put forth, nothing is really being said. It’s self-evident that the present and the future depend upon the past. Obviously, had [insert random physical phenomenon], then we may not be here to discuss these things. So what? In a few trillion years, there will be absolutely no evidence of humans to be discovered anywhere in the Universe. Does it mean anything to say now that the Universe is finely-tuned to eventually be void of life as we know it? Who cares?

    Well I think the point, and it is a particularly damning one, is that theories like the mult-iverse really elude any sort of scientific verification, and by all measures almost always will. And yet it is an idea willingly embraced by materialists because it fits their metaphysical bent, and explains phenomena (like the coincidental organization of the universe so that life can exist here) in a way that makes them feel comfortable, rather than in a way that is based on reason. In short, the multi-verse is the atheist God, capable of producing that which would by any other standard be considered miraculous.

    And I think atheists hide behind it because they realize that it is not sufficient (or particularly logical) to simply argue ‘Things appear to be organized for our existence because we happen to exist as a result of the organization of things’. Other than obviously being tautological, it begs the question of whether things must be as they are – and if a series of things that allow us to exist could be different, then how is it they happened to be as they are?

    One might think of it this way – if you were blindfolded and led before a firing squad of 100 expert marksmen who were standing 10 feet away from you as a target, and they all fired at command, and you still were alive and unscathed afterwards, it wouldn’t be sufficient and satisfactory to offer as an explanation to the question of why you still alive to merely say ‘because I wasn’t hit by a bullet’. Indeed, it would still be of concern as to why you weren’t hit by a bullet, and it would be reasonable to conjecture that there was a conspiracy (or intent) amongst the marksmen not to hit you.

    Unless you can prove that the universe must be as it is, or that it is as it is because it is one of a multitude of possible universe that exist, then it is reasonable to conjecture that it is as it is because it was intended to be so.

  2. “Doing ‘good’, contrary to bus ads placed by atheists, doesn’t seem to come naturally to humans, and so the best of our endeavors always seem to be the result of motivations that lie outside of ordinary human experience.”

    This is not supported by anything in your post. As far as definitions go, by any reasonable one, Doctors Without Borders qualifies as a secular organization, yet they do plenty of “good” charitable work. The fact that most charities started as religious initiatives probably reflects the fact that their origins lie in a time when religion was far more heavily involved with the social order.

    “One might think of it this way – if you were blindfolded and led before a firing squad of 100 expert marksmen who were standing 10 feet away from you as a target, and they all fired at command, and you still were alive and unscathed afterwards, it wouldn’t be sufficient and satisfactory to offer as an explanation to the question of why you still alive to merely say ‘because I wasn’t hit by a bullet’. Indeed, it would still be of concern as to why you weren’t hit by a bullet, and it would be reasonable to conjecture that there was a conspiracy (or intent) amongst the marksmen not to hit you.”

    Here’s another analogy for you: a firing squad walks up to an empty brick wall and fires toward it at random. Then days a later a hapless pedestrian finds his way to the wreckage, finds that by extending his limbs in a certain way he can maneuver his way around the bullet holes, and proclaims “ha! this pattern obviously can’t be coincidence, if it were any different I wouldn’t be able to do this!”

  3. Well I think the point, and it is a particularly damning one, is that theories like the mult-iverse really elude any sort of scientific verification, and by all measures almost always will. And yet it is an idea willingly embraced by materialists because it fits their metaphysical bent, and explains phenomena (like the coincidental organization of the universe so that life can exist here) in a way that makes them feel comfortable, rather than in a way that is based on reason. In short, the multi-verse is the atheist God, capable of producing that which would by any other standard be considered miraculous.

    You’re right, the multiverse is unprovable, rather like your god. That’s why it isn’t science but rather philosophy. Any good theist should embrace the Anthropic Principle wholeheartedly. “The universe is obviously built for Man which proves that goddidit.”

    The basis for the Anthropic Principle is a tautology. If things were different then things would be different. This is true but is really meaningless. The same argument could be made that the universe is designed to allow the existence of microwavable popcorn or Caterpillar D5 bulldozers.

    Many arguments for Intelligent Design focus upon the improbability of various supposed evolutionary steps, and admittedly, not all of these coincidences have yet been explained by scientific theory.

    The apparently fine-tuned nature of the universe is a widely used argument for the existence of an intelligent designer, who at the very least made some form of life possible even if he did not actually intend the human race specifically. This is essentially the Anthropic Principle, but with deliberateness assumed in the “constraining” of the properties of the universe.

    Strangely, the Anthropic Principle is also use to refute the preceding argument, by providing an explanation as to how the fundamental constants of nature came to be what they are by chance. The values of these constants may have occurred at random, or perhaps, they take on other values in other possible universes, but by necessity, we can never be aware of the uncounted universal duds.

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