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.
Filed under: Astronomy/Cosmology/Physics, Creationism, Evolution, News Tagged: | anthropic principle, ashton kutcher, astrophysicist, atheist bus campaign, Brandon Carter, Cambridge University, darwin, dinesh d'souza, discover magazine, Evolution, finely-tuned, Large Hadron Collider, Martin Rees, multistring theory, multiverse, Science, the butterfly effect, Tim Folger