Atheism is at the Heart of Science

Hendy, who comments at DC, is struggling with what to believe. Anyone care to help him out? He's welcoming your advice. For me agnosticism is the default position and that's where he seems to be right now. I could wish we would all be as intellectually honest with the evidence. But once we admit no supernatural beings exist and that no supernatural explanations are reasonable, such an agnostic (non-knower) is actually an atheist (non-theist), and that's all anyone needs to be, for at that point he trusts the sciences rather than faith to tell him what to think. David Eller makes the case that atheism is at the heart of science. Good luck Hendy.


Papalinton said...

Hi Hendy
i will respond to the questions you raise on your site.
And your account of the dinner with your friend and subsequent thoughts are O.K.

jwhendy said...

John, thanks for the reference. I'll have to check out David Eller. Someone at a Minnesota Atheists Meetup recently suggested one of his books. Maybe it was Natural Atheism? Your mention of him, though, is surely a providential sign that I should read him.

It's amazing now that I disbelieve how many amazing posts and references come up providentially aligned with what I "needed" to hear or find... it's the reverse of all the amazing thoughts and things I used to find as a believer ;)

trae norsworthy said...


here is a response to loftus' beliefs about christianity and about nontheism in general

i will continue to post more

GearHedEd said...

Here's a ridiculous thought:

Whereas many Christians and other theological thinkers of various stripe have accused atheists repeatedly of defaulting to Satan worship (if we don't worship Yahweh, Jesus, etc.),

I thought to myself, "Self, why not?"

So I called upon the majesty of Satan to infuse me with His unholy spirit, to give me riches and fame and sex with little boys.

I'm still waiting for an answer on that one, too.

GearHedEd said...

Maybe I drew the Pentagram upside down?

I dunno...

jwhendy said...

Ha! Too much. Note my comment above and how I talked about providential occurrences? I drove down to my wife's parents' place this afternoon and was talking with her about hiddenness, how god can be given credit for "answered prayers" if unanswered ones say nothing about him.

Anyway, we circled around the general concept of the disconnect between humans and god. We can't be assumed to have morally permissible reasons for being inactive in the face of evil/danger, but god can. If good actions build evidence of goodness, bad actions detract from it... but not so with god; good builds the evidence of perfection/love while inaction says nothing. Weird and frustrating.

Anyway, what's hilarious is that I suddenly asked my wife if I prayed to satan and nothing happened if that would illustrate anything!!

Seriously, what are the chances that I'd say that and meanwhile you'd be posting the same on the blog?!?

I really do find it amazing how many "providential" things happen. It really opens my eyes up to the possibility that we see providential happenings in relation to whatever we're focused on. If it's faith/prayer, god speaks... if it's non-belief (in my case), apparently satan or "nothingness" will "provide" me with what is pleasantly applicable to my current ponderings!

GearHedEd said...

Pleased to have been of assistance, Hendy!


LadyAtheist said...

"providential" things are those things which you ignored in the past and now pay attention to. Many things in the present that you don't pay much attention to will suddenly appear when you're ready to incorporate them into your worldview.

Was that too naturalistic?

I think most believers who are familiar with arguments against their system continue to believe because they *want* to, or perhaps *need* to. Religion is a powerful opiate and means to a fulfilling social life.

The lower-level questions believers ask atheists are very revealing: if there's no god, then where do you go when you die? what makes you resist the temptation to murder people if you don't believe in hell? or this classic "what about all the wonderful art and music inspired by the church" over the centuries?

The answers aren't comforting: You cease to exist. You're not better than other people. And just because a fairy tale has a purpose in society doesn't mean it's right.

My own deconversion was gradual, as I "suddenly" found various aspects of religions ridiculous but also as I developed the "faith" in the okayness of ceasing to exist, not murdering because I don't want to and continued to listen to Bach if I felt like it. Cranking up the stereo on a good organ performance isn't the same as going to church but i don't have to dress up for it.

Russ said...

You said,

how god can be given credit for "answered prayers" if unanswered ones say nothing about him.

There's another question I think also needs to be considered in this context. Prayers asking for favors go out because the person praying has a need, want, or desire important to them which they want their god to fulfill. I'll assume the prayer was for something possible, like having a sunny day, as opposed to the impossible, like world peace. In general, if what they've prayed for is important to them, it's also likely to be perceived as important by others. More specifically, what that person prayed for will also be important to persons who are atheists or are from other sects or religions. That there are others - most of humanity - not appealing to that god to fulfill that particular want must mean that that want gets fulfilled for most of humanity without appeal to that god. So, my question in the context of your question is: how god can be given credit for "answered prayers" if others have the same want fulfilled without praying to that god or without praying at all?

When groups or institutions need reliability, they never turn to prayer. If praying-type churches want to get something done, they do it the same way you or I would; they never rely on prayer. Businesses seeking a contract never rely on prayer, even if they pray. They do the legwork needed to show they have the greatest merit or at least the best political connections.

In college I asked my prayer-addicted body builder roommate if he thought that prayer by itself, without regular workouts, would make his muscles bigger or better defined. He confessed that no it wouldn't. I then asked if his muscles would get bigger or better defined if he just did the regular workouts, without the praying. He hemmed and hawed a bit, but he also admitted that his praying for the body he wanted had no influence on his getting it. Eventually, he even realized that the prayer wasn't even a motivator. What really motivated him was the gym atmosphere: the very supportive camaraderie, the music, the whole social setting. They were a team, a band of brothers, working toward common goals. He didn't give up prayer completely, but he did pare it down from two hours to maybe half an hour a day. He studied a bit more and worked out a bit more, and, his grades went up and his workout results improved.

jwhendy said...


- Re. "providential:" No, it wasn't too naturalistic. It was precisely what I am beginning to think as well. Don't know who said it, but the quote is "You see only what you look for."

- Re. counter-arguments: I, too, have noticed this. After stating to most apologetic attempts that either 1) I think they're probably wrong or 2) they only get me as far as "I just don't know" or "possibly a deity exists" I'm met with:
--- Why wouldn't you just kill yourself, then?
--- What's the point of life?
--- Could this be the result of an issue with authority or a problem in your relationship with your father?
--- Why is there something rather than nothing?

These all happened!

- Re. comforting and gradual: I think this is what's happening with me as well. I'm glad I wrote the post as I already feel more peace with simply plodding along and taking it a bit more easy, perhaps. I think the majority of my desire to know now stems from wanting the relationship issues to go away, to re-establish my social circles as I think that's inevitable, and to kind of get things straightened out with the various religious commitments I am still associated with but wish to depart from...

I've been fairly consistent in being willing to sacrifice happiness for certitude. I'm not anywhere near positive that that's even implied, but if it is, it's fine with me.

jwhendy said...


Very interesting points. God's answering prayers that align with the wishes of many non-prayers or prayers-to-not-him. He's also, presumably, doing things for group A praying for outcome B when group C was explicitly praying for outcome B not to take place.

Love it!