Dr. Zhivago’s Strawman Atheist

I would have posted a comment on Dr. Zhivago’s blog, but for some reason comments have been disabled for the post I most wanted to comment on. People who deny existence of God is the title of the post, and it struck a chord with me because Dr. Zhivago paints a grossly inaccurate picture of atheists and atheism – the same strawman frequently presented by Christians. And it irritates me tremendously.

So, it is with great pleasure that I share with you the disassembling of Dr. Zhivago’s strawman atheist:

The existence of God has always been put to question by a lot of atheists.

Well, OK. I can go along with that.

They self proclaim to be all-knowing and just refuse to accept his existence.

No, Dr. Zhivago. Atheists do not claim to be all-knowing. In fact, we claim to know nothing of the existence of any gods and therefore choose not to believe in the existence of any of them. Perhaps you are confusing belief with knowledge?

Their judgment goes as such – ” God is not real, all of us have popped out by a chance, a one in a zillion chance that occurred with the formation of organic living things under favorable circumstances.”

Dr. Zhivago, would you please provide the source of that quote? Assuming, of course, you didn’t just make it up to use as stuffing for your strawman.

They profess only science, yet a lot of science itself alludes them, most of them are not even Science oriented, and those who are are too far behind in Science’s own rapid development and discoveries.

Here we have yet another misrepresentation. Atheism professes nothing. Atheism is the absence of belief in the existence of deities. Full stop.

Dr. Zhivago may be correct in saying that most atheists are science oriented. I don’t know; I haven’t met most atheists and have no way of knowing the extent of their scientific knowledge. However, one need not understand the first thing about science to be an atheist. Atheism is not about knowing, but rather not knowing.

I refer you to a post I wrote a few months ago on this particular subject entitled, What Do Atheists Have In Common? Here is a quote from it:

Atheism is the absence of belief in the existence of deities. Period.

Knowledge or lack thereof regarding what science teaches about the origin of life and the universe need not factor in at all. I have often found the following analogy useful in explaining this:

Let’s say my house burned down, and the cause cannot be or has yet to be determined. Is it rational to conclude that a fire-breathing dragon started the fire? Of course not.

Or let’s say the cause of the fire has been determined, but I have not been informed of the cause, or simply do not understand it. Would the fire-breathing dragon hypothesis make sense then? No. It would still be silly.

So it is with science and gods:

I do not need to know or understand the origins of life and the universe in order to rule out what is clearly irrational – in this context, any number of gods.

[…]

Science is a very compatible companion to atheism. People can develop a broader understanding of what science teaches about life and the universe after they are no longer blinded by faith, but scientific knowledge is not a prerequisite to atheism or necessary component of it.

I don’t need to be a fire fighter or have the slightest understanding of what can start a house fire to reasonably rule out fire-breathing dragons; I don’t need to be a scientist or have the slightest understanding about the origins of life and the universe to reasonably rule out the supernatural.

Back to Dr. Zhivago:

Some way up in the line, intellectuals pioneering the work of discoveries, are still limited to their own fields of knowledge. No one has yet been all-knowing.

Unlimited knowledge is not required to rule out the clearly illogical or irrational. I refer you again to the fire-breathing dragon analogy. I will also quote from another post I wrote a couple of months ago:

Another common attempted argument against the existence of atheists or atheism is the claim that one would have to know everything about everything in order to rule out the existence of God. […]

Based on this line of reasoning, these Christians had better start believing in the existence of every mythical, imaginary and fantasy being ever conjured up in the minds of people since the beginning of mankind. After all, they would have to know everything about everything in order to rule out the existence of any of these things. Right?

I Am Atheist, Like It Or Not!

Following Dr. Zhivago’s logic, he is as audacious as he accuses atheists of being:

Yet many will have the audacity to Question existence of the Creator, just with pinch of knowledge they possess.

Let’s talk about audacity, shall we? Here we have a self-proclaimed scientist criticizing people for the audacity of questioning his god. The audacity to question, says the scientist. Is it just me?

And what about the audacity of asserting the existence of a being for which there is no evidence (let alone proof!) and then carrying on as if those who refuse to accept this assertion without question are the ones being unreasonable. The audacity!

But what exactly is Science? We have been thaught of it from Newton’s early theories and laws to the modern discoveries.
Yet Pure Physics, Chemistry etc… they are all but observations after various experiments, and conclusions drawn.
For an instance, just take a an atom and its constituents. The nucleus, electrons, Protons..
Their arrangement in particular fashion and having properties of itself.

We only discovered existence of these properties and their relationships and putting them into our own ways of using them – Call it Technology with all our Gismoz and Gadgets.
These are but LAWS, All this nothing but nature, and it is following a particular law. Why does it not transgress beyond this and behave in an erratic fashion?
These are matter of nature, obeying a law.

Where did this law come from?
Who is governing the law?
Who created these laws?

I will leave the discussion of science to those more qualified. But I must ask: why should I assume that something or someone created and governs these laws? The questions seem circular to me.

Dazed as you may get pondering on many questions.
God is one who has set these in motion. He is omnipresent, of no form, of no figure or limitation. He is just there.

More begging the question, a logical fallacy in which the premise not only assumes the conclusion, but is also just as questionable.

Perhaps its not in our mental capacity to define him explicitly just like we define a lot of things in nature.
It is unthinkable with our capacity, unimaginable.

So, because it is unthinkable, unimaginable and beyond our mental capacity to define, we should accept it as fact?

So those who vehemently deny his existence, are nothing but like those in olden times who did the same proving Earth is flat and died believing this false notion.

Once again, the premise assumes the conclusion. Dr. Zhivago assumes that atheists “believe a false notion”, and then compares that with something which has been proven false. That’s illogical and irrational. It is a desperate attempt to validate a weak and circular argument.

We know not much! What we know is still a tiny fraction of what actually is. Pure science is still progressing, newer discoveries are being made. Nothing has just stopped at Newton’s three laws.

Again, what Dr. Zhivago seems to be saying is that because we don’t know, that since there is no scientific evidence whatsoever to support the existence of his god, we must believe. Do you suppose Dr. Zhivago applies this same principle to the uncountable other gods worshiped by humans? After all, new discoveries are made every day…

There is a million miles to explore ahead and no one at this moment is qualified to deny existence of God.

I submit that Dr. Zhivago has this backwards. It seems to me that no-one at this moment is qualified to claim the existence of any god as an indisputable fact. I further submit that this is precisely what Dr. Zhivago has shown us with his own words, despite what he says in those very same words.

I now open the floor to anyone who would like to comment here on Dr. Zhivago’s post, since he had the audacity to make such bold and inaccurate claims about atheists and atheism, among other things, and then close comments; I suspect this was done to avoid having his argument exposed for the fallacious piece of hogwash it is.

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7 responses to “Dr. Zhivago’s Strawman Atheist

  • Dr.Zhivago

    I apologise for closing comments to my article, but I have my own reasons. This was topic, open to wide interpretation and invites a flurry of responses.
    It is a debate that seems kind of never ending with each side presenting good arguments.
    As a medic, I am overwhelmed with work both at Clinics and in my room reading. I spent short time online and dun really have time to review so many comments and keep answering them or clarifying my stances. Thus the comment block.

    Now for the part where you asked the source of “one in a zillion chances that occured for origin of life” – Well this is derived from my knowledge of Miller’s experiment of Origin of Life who managerd to synthesize amino acids and nucleotides – and concluded further that by permutations and combinations, some how we arrived into being.

    Again to clarify, I was not professing a belief system of any religion here – It was just on realization of a supreme force or being.
    You may call it anything. Cosmic energy or whatever. So its not as if you said “Dr Zhivago’s god”.

    You may be right in your arguments at some places, where I might have some generalised notions of Atheism. I am not a student of philosophy or religion, I am not an expert of Atheists. My understanding of atheist is from the people I know, and my short article was a thought directed mostly at them.

    But in the end, If I cannot prove God’s existentionality to you, You too cannot prove otherwise. So what just is the harm of believing in something that drives from the minutest atom to the heavenly bodies of universe. Its not about any religion here, its just a belief.

  • Matt

    I would highly suggest for you, and any one else interested to read the book ““The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions.” by self-professed secular Jew and mathematics/philosophies teacher David Berlinski.
    This tells the story of a Jew who was forced to dig his own grave prior to being shot by a German soldier. Prior to being shot, the old Jewish man advised the German that “God is watching what you are doing.” The Jewish gentleman pointed what i think is the real problem with atheism. “If you have the time please check the book out

  • Lottie

    Dr. Zhivago:

    Just because you seem to think your time is more valuable than other people’s doesn’t make it OK for you to speak with authority on a subject that you admit to knowing very little about, closed comments or not.

    Now for the part where you asked the source of “one in a zillion chances that occured for origin of life” – Well this is derived from my knowledge of Miller’s experiment of Origin of Life who managerd to synthesize amino acids and nucleotides – and concluded further that by permutations and combinations, some how we arrived into being.

    So basically, it wasn’t an actual quote. That’s what I thought. Stuffing.

    Again to clarify, I was not professing a belief system of any religion here – It was just on realization of a supreme force or being.
    You may call it anything. Cosmic energy or whatever. So its not as if you said “Dr Zhivago’s god”.

    The word “god” (lower case) is generic in the context in which I used it, so it’s exactly as you described here.

    You may be right in your arguments at some places, where I might have some generalised notions of Atheism. I am not a student of philosophy or religion, I am not an expert of Atheists. My understanding of atheist is from the people I know, and my short article was a thought directed mostly at them.

    Then I would suggest not speaking as if you are an expert on the subject. Because that’s what you did.

    But in the end, If I cannot prove God’s existentionality to you, You too cannot prove otherwise.

    And I don’t have to prove anything because I claim nothing. You, on the other hand, have made a claim and until you prove it, I choose not to believe it. Simple as that.

    I have Abatwa living my backyard. They hide behind blades of grass and ride on the backs of ants. They kill people with poison arrows and if you accidentally step on one, you will die. I know all of this is true because I saw one when I was pregnant and subsequently gave birth to a male child. You cannot prove otherwise, therefore, you must believe.

    Do you?

    So what just is the harm of believing in something that drives from the minutest atom to the heavenly bodies of universe. Its not about any religion here, its just a belief.

    There’s no harm in you believing it. The harm comes in trying to push it on other people; in speaking with authority on things you admit to knowing very little about. Your post grossly misrepresents an entire population of people – millions of people. And you make these false and admittedly ignorant claims from behind the title of Doctor, presenting yourself as a scientist. That is not only irresponsible, it’s dishonest.

    Yes, spreading lies about other people is harmful. It’s really sad that you don’t seem to understand that.

  • Lottie

    Matt:

    I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you are not trying to compare all Germans to Nazis. The soldier in the story you refer to probably was German, but more specifically, he was a Nazi. I am particularly sensitive about this because I have come across far too many people who think it’s OK to use the terms “Nazi” and “German” interchangeably. It is not only inaccurate, it’s bigoted and will not be allowed on this blog.

    Again, I am giving you the benefit of the doubt, I just wanted to be clear about that right upfront.

    The Jewish gentleman pointed what i think is the real problem with atheism.

    I have an idea. Why don’t you tell us what you think is the real problem with atheism?

  • archiearchive FCD

    Dr Zhivago appears to have written, “So those who vehemently deny his existence, are nothing but like those in olden times who did the same proving Earth is flat and died believing this false notion.”

    An interesting comment since the only people who could write “in olden times” were the church educated monks, friars and priests. Or their equivalent in other religions and cultures. Islam’s Imams said the earth was spherical, Greeks said the earth was spherical. Atheists had almost nothing to say because they could not write.

    It also worries me that the “good” doctor makes the error of equating science with atheism while apparently creating something new and capitalised named “Science”. Atheism is a philosphical position of unbelief. Science, the regular, uncapitalised type, is an experimental activity. Who knows what the Capitalised Science does.

    Aggghhhhh – I become frustrated!

  • Mike

    Hah. It’s always funny to see believers expounding about Atheism… Especially when 99% or more of them don’t know the very first thing about it. Most of them can’t even spell it.

  • Lottie

    Thanks for commenting, Archie. It is very frustrating, isn’t it?

    Mike:

    Especially when 99% or more of them don’t know the very first thing about it.

    Or the last thing, which is pretty much the whole thing. lol

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