We get email: Man asks atheists how to prove God exists

To: The Atheist Experience
Subject: Need some advice

I am in a strange situation and I need some advice as to how I should go about navigating it. For years and many months, I have been trying to craft a way to prove God using the scientific method since no one seems interested or convinced that it can be done. For some time now, I have been sending my article to peer-reviewed scientific journals, and I purchased professional help along the way as well. At this point, I am confident that I was able to show that God can actually be proven scientifically. However, I cannot find any scientific journals that allow you to publish hypothesis articles and I can’t perform the experiments myself because I am not qualified to do so. More importantly, even if I was qualified, the predictions from the hypothesis require an enormous amount of testing from the scientific community at large to make the conclusion that GOD exists. Thus, I need advice as to how I should alert the public or media so they can alert theistic and non-theistic scienstists around the world as well as the general public.

I also would like to ask you whether you think this is even a worthwhile venture in the first place. I originally did this because I thought I could make a lot of money and create opportunities for myself that I did not have before. Do you think this is worth it or should I give up?

Remember, I am not suggesting that I proved the existence of God but I provide a blueprint as to how researchers can do so.


 

From: Russell Glasser

That is a very odd question to ask atheists. We already don’t believe that God exists, and logically you can’t “prove” something that isn’t true. So if I believed that you had likely found a way to prove that God exists, I would probably think God does exist — which I don’t.

I think a big problem here is that you don’t sound like you have very much training in the sciences, so you are trying to invent your own path to scientific validation for something you want to be true. Science doesn’t work that way. You should develop a background in the fundamentals of scientific inquiry first, gain a thorough understanding of the review and publication progress, and then start working on research that follows from the evidence. Not make up a point to prove, and try to mold the publication process to reach the conclusion you’re after.

Let me make an analogy. Say you are trying to get an Academy Award for a movie, but you haven’t studied film, and you have never worked on a movie in any capacity. So you write to an atheist group to ask how you can submit your YouTube video to the  Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and how you can make them give you the award.

That won’t work. You should learn all you can about film first, or find a way to get some professional experience, and by the time you’ve finished your studies, you should already have a good sense of what kind of work will be required to make a good movie.

That’s basically my advice to you. You should not be putting your energy into the idea that you are planning to prove God. You should be putting more energy into studying science and learning to do it well. Hate to say it, but for most people that means a formal education — probably all the way up to the Ph.D level. You can email atheist shows all day if you want to, but we aren’t scientists and none of us have PhD’s, so you’re not even beginning by asking the right people. What’s the highest degree you have obtained? If you’ve had some college, start studying up for GREs, see how you do when you take the test, and apply for grad schools. Talk to admissions officers and find what kind of effort it will take. It’s probably the best thing you can do for yourself at this point.

Atheist Community of Austin board election this Sunday

Hey Austin locals, our annual elections will be taking place this Sunday at 1:00 PM CT at the ACA Freethought Library, 1507 West Koenig Lane in Austin. Any member in good standing may attend the election meeting and vote on board members. If your membership has lapsed, you may renew at the meeting and vote.

Here is a statement our current president Jen Peeples made on our official Facebook group earlier this week:

After much consideration, I have decided not to run for the board this year. This was a difficult decision, because I’ve had the pleasure of serving with an amazing group of people on the current ACA Board of Directors. We’ve been able to get a lot done, and although we’ve had some disagreements, they’ve been constructive, and the organization is better for it. The ACA Board is not an echo chamber, and that’s a good thing.

My reasons for not continuing on the board are entirely related to competing demands on my time. Without getting into more detail than anyone needs or wants, I have a number of things going on right now, both personally and professionally, and I just don’t feel like I can give the ACA the time and attention it deserves. Being the ACA President really is just like running a small corporation. I’ve fallen far short of what I’d hoped to do as President, and when I consider what I have ahead of me in the coming year, well….I need to step back and not be the roadblock.

So, I’m passing the reins to Russell, who will run for President in the election on Sunday. Tracie Harris has graciously agreed to run for Vice President. They’ll both be phenomenal in their new roles.

I’ll still be around as an admin in this group and in the other ACA groups and pages, engaging in spirited debate and swatting the occasional troll. You’ll still see me on the TV show, and who knows, maybe I’ll even (finally) make an appearance on the Non-Prophets.

I’m currently running unopposed, although if you would like to show up and vie for that position, or any other board seat, please feel free. See you Sunday!

Of Liars and Truth-Tellers

(Hidden tribute to the late David Bowie here)

I used to really love logic puzzles when I was a kid. I’ve mentioned the professional logician Raymond Smullyan a few times as a big influence of mine, and I highly recommend his puzzle books. Here’s a complete list of what Amazon carries, and I’ll highlight some, roughly in order of personal preference:

Also noteworthy is his book of philosophical essays, The Tao Is Silent. Smullyan, like fellow mathematician Bertrand Russell, dabbles in philosophy a bit, and this book is a westerner’s perspective on eastern religion. I’m sure it takes a lot of liberties with the subject matter, and I imagine if I reread the whole thing now I’d find I agree with him a lot less than I used to in my teens and twenties. But still, his style is playful and entertaining, and there are a couple of essays in that book which I love to reference: “Is God a Taoist?” and “An Epistemological Nightmare.” The first is one of my favorite speculations I’ve ever read on the nature of the “god” concept.

But I digress. I wanted to talk for a minute about Smullyan’s logic puzzles in order to illustrate a point about religious arguments.

[Read more…]

Review of “Spotlight”

This Wednesday on the new episode of The Non-Prophets, Jeff and Denis reviewed the movie Spotlight while I had to leave the room to avoid spoilers. Lynnea and I finally had a chance to go see it last night. Jeff and Denis said it was great, and the reviews were all very positive, but we didn’t expect it to be as excellent a movie as it was. You should listen to their discussion of the movie on Wednesday’s episode, since their coverage is also excellent, beginning a little past the eight minute mark. But I didn’t get to put in my two cents, so here’s what I thought.

The subject of child abuse by priests isn’t easy or pleasant to confront, and it’s hard to predict that the movie could be as emotionally gripping and, in the end, satisfying as they actually made it. But the focus of the story is on struggling journalists who are investigating a mystery, and that topic has a special place in my heart.

(Review continues after the break)
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Open thread: Talking to religious family over Thanksgiving

It’s a big cliche at this time of year that people get together with lots of family members who have very different opinions, and they get in terrible arguments around the dinner table. I wanted to write a blog post about coping with this situation, but since my family isn’t religious, I have limited personal experience with this (mainly with some in-laws, but not for several years). One friend with a fundamentalist family (she may identify herself if she chooses) told me that you should never engage with your religious family about your atheism on Thanksgiving. And if they insist on talking about religion or politics, leave the room.

So instead of writing a real post about my opinions, I thought I’d just sit back and listen. For people with religious families of any kind, whether fundamentalist or liberal: In your personal experience, has it ever been productive to let yourself be drawn into a religious discussion with your family, particularly on Thanksgiving? I’d love to hear your anecdotes about this, whether it is about moderate success or comically catastrophic failure. Any strategies for shutting down discussions that aren’t welcome?