No God. Now What?. An Introduction to Secular Humanism Session II. Session II A Few Reasons Why SH Don’t Believe.
An Introduction to Secular Humanism
In Session I, we said that there are basically ten reasons why Secular Humanists do not believe in the supernatural worldview.
Among those reasons are four that are particularly devastating to faith for anyone who has not closed their mind to empirical evidence, scientific proof, independent historical accounts, and sound logic. 1
Historically, most Americans have relied on their superstitions, willful ignorance, and wishful, magical thinking to make horrific political decisions that have caused everything from ridiculous inconvenience to social injustice to preventable suffering and death on a massive scale.
Since the United States was founded, the superstitious have managed to pass laws that prohibit:
1. validating the superiority of the white race;
2. legalizing indentured servitude and slavery; and
3. mandating forced re-location of Native Americans and destruction of their culture.
All arguments have so far
Claim: everything had to have a prior cause to bring it into existence.
First, if everything has to originate from a prior cause, who then created God?
Second, if God always existed, never needing a first cause Itself, this statement would invalidate the original hypothesis; i.e., everything requires a prior cause to bring it into existence.
Third, Aquinas’ “logic” proved nothing more than that he assumed God’s existence as a matter of faith.
Fourth, Aquinas ignores the more likely possibility that the natural universe itself is eternal and no deity is required to explain it.2
(Sometimes called the Teleological Argument. Teleos = end or purpose. Teleological = pertaining to the purpose of design.)
Claim: complex life could not have occurred by “random chance.” *
Since we can observe complex design in the world, there must be an Intelligent Designer, whom people generally refer to as God. 3
* Theist’s misunderstanding of evolution.
4. Fundamentalists argue that complex design requires an Intelligent Designer. They conveniently ignore this little problem:
Finally, even if this Intelligent Design argument was provable, which it isn’t, it would say nothing whatever about the character or personality of the Designer. For that, theists would have to rely on the veracity of scripture.6
Claim: without God, everything (every evil) is permissible. Civilization, and all of its benefits, would be impossible.
Claim: “Without God, morality would be relative.
Claim: without God, life would be terrifying.
Claim: if God does exist, and we don’t acknowledge His existence by slavishly obeying His Divine Will, we will all be punished in this life and in a hideous afterlife forever.
The argument from fear is merely wishful thinking.
Claim: humans have an innate sense of wonder and a basic sense of grand purpose & meaning. Therefore, God must exists.
“Is this all there is?”
Corollary claim: without God, people would have no purpose, no reason to live.
To the faithful, these thoughts are too depressing.
Surely, we humans must be a part of some Grand Cosmic Purpose.
Human life must mean something in the great scheme of things. Otherwise, there would be no point to our lives. It would all be meaningless.
Therefore, God must exist.
The philosophical study of ultimate causes and underlying nature of things.
Claim: logic alone can prove that God must exists.
In other words, God must exist because we cannot conceive of anything greater.
Another way to express the “logic” of this argument.
Claim: I can think, therefore God must exist.
Claim: so many people claim to have experienced phenomena so amazing and seemingly in violation of the laws of nature that such happenings can only be explained by the existence of God who intervenes in people’s lives.
Claim: scripture is divine revelation.
Claim: only a belief in God (or gods, eternal paradise, etc.) can make us happy.
Happiness requires only three ingredients (and belief in God is not one of them):
Claim: Blaise Pascal, a 17th century French mathematician and philosopher, said that we should believe that God, heaven, and hell exist because:
1. Not really an argument for the existence of God.
Only for the benefits of belief in God, whether or not God actually exists.
2. Pascal, a Christian of sorts, was arguing for belief in Jesus as the Savior of Mankind.
But the same “wager” can be made with any other religion.
3. Pascal’s wager” assumes that belief has little or no cost.
End segment: all arguments for God fail.
Our claim: all arguments for the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing, and benevolent Supreme Being are illogical.
Fact #1. Each year, billions of believers pray to their god or gods to intervene in human affairs and protect the innocent and vulnerable from suffering and death – usually themselves, their family, clan, or tribe.
Fact #2. Each year, tens of millions of innocent and vulnerable people, particularly children, suffer horribly and die.
Fact #3. Almost everyone at some point in his or her life questions why prayers to protect these innocent and vulnerable are not answered.
Fact #4. There are only three possible logical explanations for why God does not protect the innocent and vulnerable.
In other words:
Either (1) God is omnipotent, but not benevolent; (2) benevolent, but not omnipotent; or (3) an omnipotent, benevolent God does not exist.
Thus, belief in an all-powerful, all-knowing, and benevolent God is illogical. 12
End segment: faith is illogical.
The problem of evil simply stated…
The horrific suffering and miserable deaths of billions of innocent people cannot be reconciled with the concept of an all-powerful, all-knowing, & benevolent God.
But the faithful try to rationalize the problem away…as we shall now see.
Claim # 1. Suffering is punishment for sins.
So claimed many Hebrew prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, etc.
Claim # 2: suffering builds character.
So claimed St. Paul. Also Nietzsche: “That which does not kill you makes you stronger.”
Claim # 3: suffering is a test of faith.
So claimed the author of the Book of Job.
Claim # 4: suffering is caused by evil spirits.
So claimed St. Paul and other apocalyptics, such as NT Jesus and OT Daniel.
Jesus claimed that suffering & death is caused by evil spirits.
Claim # 5: suffering is a result of mankind’s free will.
Why does God allow earthquakes to kill thousands and leave 10’s of thousands of innocent people homeless every year? Are they being punished or just tested?
Why doesn’t God intervene to help the millions of refugees around the world?
Does God ignore this desperate woman because she is not a Christian or Muslim?
Why doesn’t God prevent cyclones that kill thousands of innocent people and leave millions homeless?
Is God trying to build their character & make their faith stronger?
Burma cyclone victim.
What kind of god would not intervene to prevent the horrors of the Cambodian “killing fields” in which 2 million people were tortured, slaughtered, or starved to death?
Is God impotent? Malevolent? Uninterested? Non-existent?
Why should anyone put their trust in a god who would not or could not
intervene to prevent the horrors of the slave labor camps and gas chambers?
According to the Bible, on some occasions God intervened to save his loyal followers from suffering and death resulting from “free will,” such as when God intervened to help the Israelites escape their enslavement by the Egyptians or to help the Israelites destroy their enemies, such as the heathen Canaanites.
But it does not explain why God does not intervene on so many other desperate occasions, such as the Jewish holocaust or the Rwandan genocide.
AIDS victim - India
Ultimately, the argument from “free will” leads to the conclusion that either (1) God is fickle or (2) suffering is an unsolvable mystery.
For Secular Humanists, the problem of evil is insurmountable. If God will not or cannot stop the preventable suffering & death, then He, She, or It is not worthy of worship.
Famine - Africa
Did 10’s of thousands of Chinese children die in the 2008 earthquake because their parents were godless communists?
In contradiction to most of the prophets of the OT, & Jesus & Paul of the NT, the prophet of Ecclesiastes tells us it’s all a mystery. So we might as well eat, drink & be merry as best we can. 17
Secular Humanists believe the stories of scripture (Torah, Bible, Qur’an, etc.) are mere legends, not historical facts. As you will soon learn, our beliefs are well-founded.
As most class participants will be most familiar with the Bible, we will use it to illustrate why we doubt the veracity of scripture. But we could just as easily deconstruct the Qur’an or any other “holy” book.
We will show examples of:
SH Claim: there are over 600 logical inconsistencies and contradictions in the Bible. Examples:
Is it right to kill?
1a. “Do not kill (murder other humans).” Ex. 20:13
1b. “Slay every man, his brother, companion, & neighbor.” Ex. 32:27 (also: 1 Sam. 6:19; Num. 15.36.
Is it right to steal?
2a. “Do not steal.” Ex. 20:15; Lev. 19:13.
2b. “…you shall (are to) spoil (pillage) the Egyptians.”
Can we get into heaven by good works or only by the grace of god?
3a. For by grace (unmerited help) are you saved through faith…not of works.” Rom. 3:20; Gal. 2:16.
3b. “…by works (good deeds) a man is justified (saved), and not by faith only.” Matt. 19:16-21.
Is it OK to own slaves?
4a. “Moreover of the children of the strangers (non-Jews) that do sojourn among you, of them shall you buy…and they shall be your possession…your bondsmen forever.” Ex. 21:2-7; Luke 12:47; Col. 3:22.
4b. “Undo the heavy burdens…let the oppressed go free.” Is. 58:6; Matt. 23:10.
Is it right to punish children for the transgressions of their parents?
5a. “For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third & fourth generation.” Ex. 20:5 & 34:7.
5b. “The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father.” Ezek. 18:20.
Was Jesus a man (or man-god) of peace?
6a. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.” John14:27; Luke 2:14; Acts 10:36.
6b. “Think not that I am (have) come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword (violence against the enemies of God).” Matt 10:34.
Dare we question the veracity of the Genesis creation story?
7a. God made all the animals before he created Adam (first man). Gen. 1:25-27.
7b. God created Adam first. Gen 2:18-20.
Can the rich get into heaven?
For a long list of irreconcilable biblical contradictions, start with http://www.biblicalnonsense.com/chapter13.html and do your own research.
To see why the Bible is such a terrible guide to moral behavior, check out: http://www.evilbible.com.
Question: what can we tell from the gospels about Jesus’ divinity, wisdom, and ethic?
1. None of the Gospels were written by eye-witnesses to the life and teachings of Jesus.
Biblical Claim: the modern-day gospels tell us, not only did Jesus do miracles, but also that his was a virgin birth and after he died he came back to life.
Consider these claims:
2.The earliest copy of Mark that has survived only mentions some petty miracles, but says nothing about a virgin birth or resurrection. Those fantasies were added later to compete for converts with the other religions in the region.
3. We do not have the original gospel manuscripts. We do not know what the originals said.
4. To make matters worse, we only have very poor copies.
Example #1. This first example of gospel alterations comes from early copies of Mark. Mark 1:41 tell us that when Jesus met a leper who wanted to be healed, Jesus became angry. Later copies were changed.
Example #2. The authors of the gospels that followed Mark’s changed the oral and written accounts they inherited. For example, in writing his gospel, Luke drew on Mark’s earlier account, but changed it radically in places. For instance, Mark portrays a Jesus who anguishes over his impending death on the cross. Mark’s crucified Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Many familiar NT passages are not in earliest codices, but added a century or more later:
5. We do not know of any contemporary independent historical accounts of the life of Jesus (i.e.; no independent validation = no credibility).
6. The earliest gospel pages that have survived do not mention anything about Jesus as the “Messiah,” “Christ,” or “Savior of Mankind” who died for our sins, as the church claims today.
The earliest gospel writings that survive are from codices (earliest form of books that replaced scrolls) by an unknown author or authors that scholars call Q. These writings predate the Gospel of Mark by decades and are a collection of sayings attributed to Jesus that were compiled from oral traditions. For example, the Q books contain the earliest known form of the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord’s Prayer, and the parable of the lost sheep.
7. Nor does Q mention the resurrection, which seems odd, since one would think that overcoming death would have been a big story even back then.
8. Jesus was an apocalyptic, not a social reformer.
What was the Jesus of the earliest Gospels selling?
9. The Jesus of the gospels was really only concerned about one thing: that everyone should repent (ask God to forgive their sins) because the final battle between God and Satan – good and evil – was about to take place at Armageddon after which God would establish the Kingdom of Heaven on earth and those who kept the faith would reign supreme.
10. Moreover, those who did not repent, God would torture for eternity.
11. Contrary to popular belief, the gospels do not portray a compassionate Jesus who uses his divine power to alleviate suffering, impart wisdom, or teach a new ethic of brotherhood.
What good did the Jesus of the gospels do?
12. As to Jesus’ alleged benevolence, we are not impressed. Jesus was not exactly Mr. Tolerant.
Consider the god Jesus & his followers think is good and who Secular Humanists think is a monster.
14. And what about Jesus’ “family values?”
15. Finally, one more fact that casts doubt on the veracity of scripture.
According to the faithful:
There is only one intellectually honest argument for belief:
Session III Perhaps It’s Just A MysteryGod, Faith and Religion: Houses Of Cards Built On Quicksand...hoping to restore reason to minds run amok.Presented by: Gil Shapiro
End Session II.