Are We Born Atheists? Science Suggests Otherwise

Posted: December 13, 2016 in Culture Wars
Tags: , , , , ,

It’s been a while since I posted anything for How To Fall Down. One of the reasons for this was that I’d been blocked from even viewing Bruce Gerencser’s website, basically because he had a strong objection to my deconstructing his fall from the faith. The other reason is that I’ve been busy writing books, which has caused me to neglect all of my websites a little.

In any case, it has come to my attention that Bruce Gerencser has mentioned me on his brand new website with the following taunt:

“Be aware that several people have, in the past, decided to do this and they have found it hard to faithfully and regularly deconstruct my life. (like Tony Breeden, whose deconstruction of Bruce Gerencser lasted all of two months)”

He, of course, failed to mention the bit about blocking me from his site (but thanks for the traffic anyway, Bruce).

In any case, something on his new site caught my eye. In the second part of his new [and apparently brief] From Evangelicalism to Atheism series explaining his fall from the faith, he makes the following claim:

“Every child born into this world is born an atheist. They don’t know one thing about god or religion. They don’t know about sin, salvation, or morality. As far as god and religion are concerned, every newborn is a blank slate.

Belief in god must be taught and learned.  This teaching is done by parents, extended family, and the culture/society the child grows up in. If a child is taken to a church, temple, or synagogue, they are taught to KNOW god, to know their parents’ religion.

Most children embrace the religion of their parents.”

Not quite. I realize that this is the dearest hope of atheism, but science suggests otherwise.

Research has shown that children have this natural tendency to interpret features of the natural world things as if they have a purpose and this naturally leads to a belief in a Creator God, what has been termed “intuitive theism.”

The Bible says much the same thing in several passages. For example:

“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Hebrews 11:3

Romans 1:19-20 is much more bold in its declaration of intuitive theism:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:”

Did you catch that? There’s no excuse for ungodliness or unbelief because the Creation itself leads to intuitive theism – and as I’ve always said, if you suspect there’s a god of any sort, it’s in your best interests to see what sort of god that is and what they might expect of you!

Richard Dawkins admitted to this human tendency toward intuitive theism when he wrote that “Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” He of course believes that this “apparent design” is merely an illusion, but he remains a hostile witness to our tendency to think of the world as having a Designer.

So Bruce might have a point about children being indoctrinated into a particular religion or even irreligion, but we are not born atheists. We are born with “eternity in our hearts” [Ecclesiastes 3:11]. He has stacked the deck in favor of theistic belief and He also promises that if we search for Him with all our heart, we will find Him [Deuteronomy 4:29; Jeremiah 29:13; Acts 17:27], regardless of where we are in the world or what false religion we were brought up in.

  1. byblacksheep says:

    Can you demonstrate this intuitive theism in a way that doesn’t involve quoting scripture?

  2. byblacksheep says:

    Is there any reason to believe intuitive theism is anything more than an evolutionary quirk?

    • Tony Breeden says:

      Yes, if a Deity exists such as the Bible describes, it would be written into our programming, so to speak. Since the Bible is supernaturally authenticated by fulfilled prophecy and the Resurrection of Christ, I’m pretty sure that’s the case.

      Too bad about that snarky little atheist slogan about being “born atheist” though, right?

      • byblacksheep says:

        If a deity such as bible describes didn’t exist what that preclude intuitive theism from being written into our programming so-to-speak?

        Personally I find your mythology of fulfilled prophecy and the resurrection unconvincing and not authenticating in the least so it seems unlikely to me that that is the case.

        • Tony Breeden says:

          Yeah, I read your blog. That’s a lot of anger you’re writing under the influence of. Not judging. In fact, I get it. You ought to see me take off on legalists and other hypocrites.

          The point is that we are hardwired for intuitive theism. The reasons we assign for this depend largely upon our view of the world. Namely, whether one allows for the supernatural or not.

        • Tony Breeden says:

          The point is that we are hardwired for intuitive theism. The reasons we assign for this depend largely upon our view of the world. Namely, whether one allows for the supernatural or not.

          As for what you find unconvincing, I’ll just level with you. I don’t argue with folks who’ve already made up their minds.

          • byblacksheep says:

            Nobody has asked you you argue anything, all I’ve done is ask you some questions. I only brought up that I find the mythology of fulfilled prophecy and the resurrection of Jesus less than convincing because you stated it as fact and thought you maybe needed to be reminded that is something you take on faith not evidence, and not everyone shares those views. But that doesn’t mean we can’t discuss the finer scientific and theological points of intuitive theism.

            If your only purpose is to squash those nasty atheists from saying everyone is born atheist, then congratulations you find a secular, scientific, peer-reviewed study that supports your views which is a lot further than most Christians get so kudos.

            Even taking intuitive theism as fact I think you make a pretty big unsubstantiated leap in your post. Paraphrasing, you say “research has shown that children have a tendency to view things in the natural world as having purpose this naturally leads to a belief in a creator god.” Given the religions that shaped the ancient world “intuitive theism” may well indeed give rise to a belief in a creator god, and a fire god, and a rain god, and a sun god and so on and so forth. Just look at Greek, roman, Egyptian, Canaanite (which Yahweh and El are both apart of and separate entities), Norse, native north, central, and South American, Shintoism, and Hinduism mythologies. So romans 1:19-20 being what it is, and world religions being what they are, nature does a really poor job of specifying which creator god. So while intuitive theism might be a thing, it isn’t intuitive monotheism, and in fact monotheism seems to be just as much an exception to the rule as atheism

          • Tony Breeden says:

            It isn’t intuitive atheism though, is it?

            Congratulations on making the connection to Romans. That chapter makes it clear that natural revelation is inadequate to do more than point us to theism; hence the need for supernatural revelation. Think of intuitive theism as a compass. It points to Something. If you suspect there is a God, it’s in your best interests to find out what sort of God that might be. And, as a point of irony, I say that as a former agnostic.

            To clarify my statement about not arguing: Stating that fulfilled prophecy and the Resurrection of Christ are mythology was a question-begging epitaph, which is argumentative by nature when you post it on a site with an opposing view.

          • byblacksheep says:

            It may not be intuitive atheism, but the argument could be made that it is intuitive polytheism, with an observable tendency for more gods than fewer gods, which then makes one wonder why you and I are outliers. Which brings me back to if a deity such as the one described in the Bible did not exist would that preclude intuitive theism from being pre-programmed.

            This question can be viewed in two ways. If a deity such as the one described in the bible does not exist does that preclude another deity or deities from doing the pre-programming
            The second is if a deity such as the one described in the bible does not exist does that preclude that something about being pre-disposed to supernatural beliefs somewhere in our evolutionary paths made survival more likely?

            Tony, to clarify, the primary definition of a myth is a traditional story dealing with the early history of a people and/or explaining a natural or social phenomenon typically involving the supernatural. The Bible’s contents qualify as mythology. There is no truth value assigned just because something is a myth (despite the colloquial use of the word), which is why I said I find the mythology to be unconvincing. I still haven’t assigned it a truth value; I’ve merely offered my interpretation of the available data.

          • Tony Breeden says:

            You’re using the scholastic definition. A lot of people who visit my site don’t. And for the record as a scifi author I refer to the Biblical history of our origins as True Myth, so yes I am aware of that definition.

            As to your questions, the answer is no. Nothing would preclude it. I find the first scenario unlikely simply because other Deity claims tend to be pantheon of tantruming gods and goddesses that would make a mockery of the observable uniformity of nature, which uniformity was promised in Genesis 8:22. As for the second scenario, I happen to agree with fellow creationist Dr. David Menton, who noted that the grand theory of evolution is exactly what any reasonable person would come up with to explain the universe we observe if there were no gods to consider. I just happen to think we have good reason to think the supernatural exists.

          • byblacksheep says:

            If you are familiar with the primary definition of Myth, may I perhaps suggest you refrain from accusing someone of posting an argumentative question begging epithet? It is not my fault you feel as though your readers are not educated enough to pick up on the nuance beyond the colloquial definition. Perhaps next time you can use it as an educational opportunity rather than a combative one.

            So you find the first scenario unlikely despite the fact that you claim we are pre-programmed to believe in god(s) and that nature itself proclaims the existence of god(s) and most people, throughout most of the world, throughout most of the world’s history, have created “pantheon of tantruming gods and goddesses that would make a mockery of the observable uniformity of nature.” (who is posting question begging epithets now?) All those people are wrong, but you are pretty sure your brand of monotheism is right, despite monotheism being a relatively new phenomenon? Again Yahweh himself is a part of a pantheon of tantrum throwing gods and the ancient Hebrews clearly practiced Henotheism if not at times, outright polytheism even through King David and Solomon’s time before what we would recognize and monotheistic Judaism arose.

            Also you think a pantheon of tantrum throwing gods are incapable of creating order, but you find a single tantrum throwing god much more capable, I’m not sure how that follows.

          • Tony Breeden says:

            I’m sure that you must realize that most people use the colloquial definition of “a story that isn’t true” rather than the scholastic definition. Responding as if the opposite were true would be statistically ineffective.

            Relatively new? You’ve begged the question that pure naturalism is true again. If the Bible is true, monotheism is the oldest of all religious of all.

            Most of your objections seem to be appeals to morality or at least moral objections. What is your standard for right and wrong?

          • byblacksheep says:

            Of course most people use the colloquial definition. I use the colloquial definition. We use a lot of words with nuanced and/or multiple definitions and there are appropriate times for each. I can only offer suggestions, but perhaps you should help your readers pick up on the nuance instead of appealing to the lowest denominator.

            You got me, I should have phrased my sentence more careful “since historical evidence indicates the practice of monotheism is a relatively new phenomenon” that should take care of the presupposition. Be careful, monotheism isn’t a religion, it’s a flavor of a religion if you will. And if you look closely at the Bible there is a case to be made that monotheism was a late development in Judaism starting way back with the unnecessary plural in “let us make man in our image” to the clear biblical documentation that the ancient Israelites were henotheists (although they were really bad at it) through king David and Solomon. So even if the Bible is true, monotheism might not be the “oldest religion of them all”

            My objections to what Tony? I haven’t really raised any objections to intuitive theism, although I’m sure more research could always be done. Certainly I haven’t raised any moral objections to intuitive theism. Try to stay on topic.

          • Tony Breeden says:

            While I see your point that I could have made better use of the argument, it’s a bit of a rabbit trail. The colloquial definition is the most common, so my reaction was appropriate if not optimal. Did I mention I have a life outside of these websites? I rather prefer to get to the point.

            As to your correction, it still contains a presupposition that a purely naturalistic history of the world is correct. If the Bible’s supernaturally authenticated history is true, monotheism is the oldest tradition rather than a Johnny-come-lately. According to the Bible, monotheism predates the henotheism evident in the reign of some Israelite kings whom the Bible admits followed after other gods. You really can’t use the Bible to disprove monotheism as the oldest religious tradition, especially by picking up the thread about a third through its history.

            And I’m referring to your objections to God and the Bible, inserted here and there in your comments and responses. You give the impression that you believe God is immoral. If you truly believe that, what is your basis for right and wrong?

            Also, this is my site. I’ll speak about any topic I like.

  3. essiep says:

    First you claim research supports a view, then quote mythology. That makes no sense, quote the research.

    • Tony Breeden says:

      Saying that the Bible is mythology simply begs the question. Again, the revelation of the Bible is supernaturally authenticated by fulfilled prophecy and the Resurrection of Christ. I value both science and Scripture. You say it makes no sense to appeal to the Bible, but I find it perfectly rational.

      You see, while it gives us valuable insights into the universe God created, all that science chained to pure naturalism can do is give us all-natural answers that may or may not be true and are certainly false where the supernatural was involved. The rub of it is that since all-natural science cannot comment on or even consider the possibility of the supernatural, it cannot tell us when the supernatural is called for. Which brings me back to my previous point that the supernatural revelation of the Bible is supernaturally authenticated by fulfilled prophecy and the Resurrection of Christ; thus the Bible can tell us when Scripture can trump the claims of all-natural science.

      • essiep says:

        That’s only to say the bible is true because the bible says so. That’s circular reasoning.
        There is no evidence that the supernatural even exists.

        • Tony Breeden says:

          Circular logic? Not even remotely. Two testable claims to supernatural authenticity in the Bible are fulfilled prophecy and the Resurrection of Christ. Authentication of these testable Biblical claims not only supernaturally authenticates the Bible as True, but also authenticates the validity of the supernatural itself.

          This is similar to how the scientific method must be used in order to authenticate the scientific method’s efficacy.

          By the way, are you through answering in atheist Tshirt slogans?

          • essiep says:

            I don’t know what you mean by tee-shirt slogans.
            The resurrection does not authenticate the book because we don’t know that it happened. The only source is the bible, right? Do you know of another source?

          • Tony Breeden says:

            Wow. Um, no. References to the Resurrection exist in other records of that time period. Frankly, without the Resurrection you cannot explain the existence of Christianity itself.

          • byblacksheep says:

            Paul does far more to establish the early Christian church than a resurrected Jesus does, or any of his disciples. Paul, The guy who only saw Jesus is revelations, which coincidentally is the same way Islam and Mormonism, two other thriving religions, were set up. Jesus speaks to Paul, Gabriel speaks to Muhammad, Maroni speaks to Joseph Smith.

            If your position is your religion is the only religion out of the thousands that have been established that is true. You might want to look for more evidence than just that your religion was established. Just a thought

            Richard Carrier (his legal issues notwithstanding) does a nice lecture on the emergence of Christianity without Christ, of you ever want to look it up sometime.

          • Tony Breeden says:

            You seem to forget the work of Jesus’ Disciples. Paul wrote two-thirds of the New Testament, but to say that Paul established the early Christian church in a vacuum, as it were, is just nonsense. Peter is the chief protagonist of the first half of the Acts of the Apostles. Other disciples are mentioned as well. This was not a one-man show. Paul’s teachings could be checked against those of the Disciples. Furthermore, Paul himself noted that Christianity was based upon an historical event; namely, the Resurrection of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul delivers the Gospel as it was given to him:

            “I told you the most important part of the message exactly as it was told to me. That part is:

            Christ died for our sins,
            as the Scriptures say.
            4 He was buried,
            and three days later
            he was raised to life,
            as the Scriptures say.
            5 Christ appeared to Peter,[a]
            then to the twelve.
            6 After this, he appeared
            to more than five hundred
            other followers.
            Most of them are still alive,
            but some have died.
            7 He also appeared to James,
            and then to all
            of the apostles.
            8 Finally, he appeared to me, even though I am like someone who was born at the wrong time.”

            Note that he mentions that there were other witnesses to the Resurrected Christ before him, including 500 at once, most of whom were still alive. The implication there was clear; he was basically saying, Check my story. Historians also note that passage contains the first known established creed of the early Church. So it is clear that the Church knew their Way was established upon the historical fact of the Resurrection. Thus, the establishment of Christianity is nowhere equivalent to the angelic origins of Islam and Mormonism.

            Point in fact, I said that the revelation of the Bible (and the implicit validity of the supernatural) is supernaturally authenticated by fulfilled prophecy and the resurrection of Christ. Nothing else compares. Mormonism contains gross historical errors. Islam’s only miracle is that anyone believes it. Polytheist religions contain squabbling deities who would have made a mess of the uniformity of nature by now. I could go on.

            As for Richard Carrier, he ignores the historicity of Christ to make his point. The historicity of Christ is one of the most attested facts of history. We have more documentary evidence for Christ than we do for Julius Caesar. Far more. The following link lists a few of the extrabiblical sources:

          • byblacksheep says:

            Nobody said Paul set up Christianity in a vacuum. And I didn’t forget the supposed work of the disciples if such individuals existed. I said Paul did “far more” to set up the early church. Please refrain from misrepresenting what I say.

            The teachings of Paul and the people pretending to be Paul can be checked against the teachings of the disciples, they can be checked against the teachings of Jesus and they have been, spoiler alert Jesus and Paul disagree, which is odd seeing as how Paul claims Jesus is whispering in his ear.

            Yes Paul bases his assertions on an historical event. As in an event he believes happened in the past. He doesn’t actually anchor it in the real historical world though. And he only discusses the death and resurrection and post resurrection appearances. He never actually mentions any physical earthly ministry of Jesus, even when he is covering the same topics, which leads me to believe either he didn’t know about Jesus’s earthly ministry, or he was ignoring it to further his own agenda. Neither looks good for Paul or Christianity.

            500 people saw Jesus at once after he was resurrected and Paul (who wasn’t one of those 500 people) is the only one who thought to write it down? You claim Paul is saying “check my work” well I’m checking his work and Paul is the only person who wrote it down. Not any of the 500, not anybody they told, only Paul. I can say the same thing about the dead prophets that spent some time wondering around Jerusalem appearing to many people after Jesus was crucified Matthew was the only person who thought that was strange enough to write home about. I can say the same thing about the massive party they through in the streets of Jerusalem when Jesus entered the city. I can say the same thing about the 5,000 who were miraculously fed by Jesus.
            Mormonism contains gross historical errors? Judaism contains gross historical errors. If you can ignore the fact that 2-3 million jews were never enslaved in Egypt, never wondering in the desert for 40 years, a desert small enough they could have spanned the entire thing just by linking hands, and never rolled through Canaan in a military conquest, surely you can’t fault Mormons for ignoring any gross historical errors in their mythology.

            Again with the squabbling pantheons. First Yahweh is a part of a squabbling pantheon too. Second even if wasn’t I’m not why you are elevating his temper tantrums over theirs, at least they had equals to squabble with, Yahweh’s tantrums are just pathetic for an omni being, and don’t really give me much hope for his ability to not mess up the uniformity of nature.
            First off, at least when Julius Caesar had thoughts he wanted to share, he wrote them down, Jesus could have saved us all a little grief if he had done the same. Quantity of documents says nothing about the quality of those documents. A lot of that documentary evidence you are referring to are no more than literally scraps of papyrus with a couple of words we might be able to make out. Tell someone who is impressed and doesn’t know that Christians controlled the what information got copied and preserved and what information got destroyed. Julius Caesar has mountains of quality of contemporary evidence. We know what he looked like, we have his own writings, we have the writings of other people about him during his own lifetime. None of that is true for Jesus.

          • Tony Breeden says:

            No archaeologist would agree with you concerning the documentary evidence for the historical Jesus. It is special pleading to try to say that the sheer magnitude of documentary evidence for Jesus or anyone else mentioned in the New Testament is invalid because Jesus didn’t write any of it Himself or because we don’t know what He looked like. The fact that atheists basically crap on the validity of archaeology when it comes to the Bible is just pathetic. Bury your head in the sand.

            The Bible never numbers the Israelites in the millions. Where did you get that baloney figure? And where did you get your idea that it took 40 years to span the desert (or that it was quite as small as you describe)? The Bible says that they were sentenced to 40 years of wandering fir cowardice after they initially crossed the desert in a relatively short time.

            The very fact that you just said “if such individuals existed” regarding the disciples betrays the fact that you did mean to imply that Paul basically set up Christianity by himself.

            And where did you ever get the idea that Paul and Jesus disagreed? Are you sure you didn’t take something out of context as you did with the Israelites and why they were in the desert for forty years? Here’s a short list on how Paul and Jesus agreed:

          • byblacksheep says:

            I think a lot of archaeologists would agree with me that the quantity of information says nothing about the quality of that information. The documentary evidence you are referring to are just copies of the same works that weren’t produced until a minimum of 30 years after his death, and those works, the writings of Paul, were by a guy who had never even met Jesus. Also if you want to talk about scholars agreeing no historical scholar would suggest any of the books of the Bible were written by anybody who knew Jesus. Consider the book of Matthew, a book supposedly written by a disciple plagiarizes 60 percent of his gospel from Mark, a man who had never met Jesus. Of course Mark, probably didn’t write Mark either, but that is beside the point.
            Yeah, I agree that would be special pleading, that is why I didn’t say it was invalid because Jesus didn’t write it himself or because we don’t know what he looked like. What I said was that the sheer volume of it doesn’t mean jack if it is not quality contemporary evidence. It is special pleading to try and claim that we have more evidence for Jesus than we do Julius Caesar by counting parchment fragments and ignoring that we have Julius Caesars own writings, we have writings to Julius, from Julius, writings about Julius from people who lived in the region and knew Julius while he was alive. We have statues carved of Julius while he was alive, coins minted with his face on them while he was alive. We don’t have any of that for Jesus. The quantity of evidence means nothing if it is not good evidence. If you want to impress me with your mountain of evidence, you first have to demonstrate that it is good evidence.
            We are not burying our heads in the sand, there are standards for good evidence. A lot of people wrote about Gilgamesh. We have a lot of writings about Hercules, a lot of writings about Thor. Just because Christians were most efficient at churning out copies doesn’t automatically make their god more real than any other gods. You need more.
            Exodus 12:37 about 600,000 men plus women and children escaped from egypt. If we assume that most of those men had 1 wife and 1 child apiece we are at well over 1.5 million and that is before we even start to consider, if they had living parents, multiple wives, and/or multiple children. 2-3 million is a conservative estimate. Ultimately it doesn’t matter, it also doesn’t matter why they were in the desert for 40. A group that size, for that long would have left evidence behind, we know this because we have evidence of much smaller nomadic Semitic tribes in Canaan when they were supposed to be enslaved in Egypt or wandering the desert. And we have no evidence of any Semitic military conquest sweeping through Canaan. No archeologist would agree that the exodus ever happened.
            You are reading what you want to into my comments. We are discussing whether or not Jesus existed. If Jesus did not exist neither did his disciples. Nothing about that necessarily indicates that Paul did all the work himself. There are clearly other people besides Paul working to set up the early church. I will still argue that none of them were nearly as influential as Paul was though. But consider this Paul spends a good chunk of letters warning early churches about false prophets trying to lead them astray. He even warns about false teachers who are denying jesus in 2 peter 2. This just goes to show that shortly after the supposed life of Jesus people were making up stories about Jesus. Paul spends so much time warning people because apparently they were convincing stories. And if the “false teachers” were making up stories to fool devout Christians, with the existence of 500 witnesses who are still alive today and everything then there is no reason why Paul couldn’t have created his own false stories as well.
            Providing a short list of areas where Paul and Jesus agree demonstrates nothing. I can provide a short list of areas where Trump and I agree, that doesn’t discount the vast areas were we disagree. I find it interesting that the link you provide says it’s easy to take verses out of context and get them to say what you want them to say. And then shows how paul and Jesus agreed by taking a bunch of verses out of context.

            One of the reasons why I give most of the credit to Paul for the success of the early church is because it was his idea to do away with all the Jewish laws. Jesus is attributed as saying he came to fulfill the law, not throw it away, and then paul comes along and throws the law away. It is a brilliant marketing move. Here is a list of other areas where Paul and Jesus disagree. As a former Christian there are number that I would consider to be a stretch, others not so much though


          • Tony Breeden says:

            Sounds like you’re grasping at straws.

            You appear to be completely unaware of historical references to Jesus that aren’t in the Bible. Jesus was a historical figure. Paul and Jesus did not contradict each other. Your appraisal of the level of support for your assessment of the historical evidence for Jesus is not supported by the consensus of archaeologists.

            Jesus said the Law would not pass away until all things were fulfilled. Paul was clear that this fulfillment was found in the death, burial and Resurrection of Christ. There is no contradiction there. That list evidences serious misunderstandings of the passages which are cited.

            You’ve got nothing

          • byblacksheep says:

            I’m grasping at straws? Tony, you basing your entire argument on the fact that early Christians were really good at making copies of writings that were produced decades after the guy they were writing about supposedly died. Just because they made a lot of copies doesn’t prove that Jesus ever existed or that he was ever resurrected if he did. All that your sheer magnitude of documentary evidence proves is early Christians A) believed in Jesus, and B) were really good at making copies. I am not disputing either of these things.
            I am completely aware of the non-biblical historical references to Jesus. I’m aware that all of the Jewish scholars active in the region during the time of Jesus’ life are completely silent on any rabble raiser running around the city stirring up trouble, feeding thousands of people, turning water to wine, dead people walking around the city for days at a time, mysterious eclipses and earthquakes. Silent. I am aware that the earliest and best secular reference to Jesus is Josephus Flavius a man who wasn’t born until after Jesus died and wasn’t writing until the same time that the Gospels were being produced. I’m also aware that scholars agree, even Christian apologists, that the early Christians, when copying his work made their own insertions and additions to his writings. And even if his two references to Jesus were untouched by Christian meddlers, he isn’t saying anything that he couldn’t have picked up from the early church. Which only proves that there was an early Christian church, not that Jesus existed or was resurrected. And I’m not disputing that there was an early Christian church. We have good contemporary evidence that the early church existed. We don’t have good contemporary evidence for Jesus, and that’s a problem because there should be mountains of evidence for a dude running around routinely doing miracles for thousands of people, causing all kinds of trouble, chasing people out of the temple with a whip. And if not for him, then for an earthquake and eclipse happening simultaneous at his death, and dead prophets walking around appearing to many people. You’d think we would have record of one secular person writing a letter saying “hey, the sky went dark for like 3 hours the other day, it was really weird, did that happen to you?”
            Yes, I am also aware that mainstream scholars, of all faiths, believe that Jesus was an historical figure whether or not they believe he was divine or not. I’m not in the least bit concerned about that for a couple of reasons. To start with it wasn’t that long ago that mainstream scholars believed that Moses was an historical figure. Now mainstream scholars of all faiths have realized that Moses was not an historical figure. So if you believe that Moses was an historical person then you are on the fringe of accepted archeology. I believe that as it becomes more and more acceptable to be an atheist more and more people will be willing to look at the evidence objectively without presuppositions. Even if this doesn’t happen though, I’m not concerned. The Historicity of Jesus plays no bearing in my atheism, it’s just kind of a fun hobby that arose after the fact. For instance, if you insist we accept mainstream archeologists opinions I am happy to accept that Moses wasn’t real and concede that Jesus may have been. if Jesus is real, but Moses isn’t, the inerrancy of Christianity crumbles just the same. An omniscient Jesus would have known that Moses wasn’t real, so he either didn’t know, or he was lying, and if Jesus can lie that causes all kinds of theological problems for you. And if you insist that mainstream archeologists got the evidence wrong on Moses, I’m not sure why you would fault me for entertaining the idea that they got it wrong about Jesus.

            That’s fine, I wasn’t expecting you to agree with me that Paul and Jesus contradicted each other. You probably believe the gospels are harmonious even though in the resurrection story alone the four authors can’t get any of their details to agree, and that’s even with blatantly ripping each other off. But the fact that there is even a list of areas where Paul and Jesus appear to contradict is troubling. Yes, sure, I know you can bend over backwards and do complicated gymnastics and somehow pretend that they are harmonious, which is what you mean of course when you say they illustrate “serious misunderstandings of the passages.”
            Speaking of nothing, I’m still waiting for a single good piece of evidence that Jesus existed. Now is your time, just lay it out.

          • Tony Breeden says:

            So a lot of hand waving and special pleaxing to get rid of solid evidence and then a claim that there isn’t any. What you mean is that there isn’t any that you’d accept.

            You betray a serious misunderstanding of both history and Biblical interpretation. Only a minority of historians and archaeologists doubt the historicity of Jesus, his disciples and Moses. You’re pretending as if exceptions and outliers constitute the consensus. The only people who claim that Paul and Jesus disagree are people looking to confirm their own anti-Christian biases.

            I didn’t base my entire argument on the mountain of documentary evidence that yiu dismissed with special pleading and hand waving. I merely brought up evidence for the historical Jesus that any reasonable person would accept.

          • byblacksheep says:

            I concede fully that the scholarly consensus on Jesus and his disciples is that they were historical figures. You need to update your knowledge of the scholarly opinion on Moses though.

            The link I gave you on Paul was a Christian scholar who believed in Jesus. Not exactly somebody out to confirm an anti-Christian bias.

            You said there is more evidence for Jesus than Julius Caesar but more evidence does not make it good evidence. We have lots of direct evidence of Julius Caesar. So far you’ve only provided indirect evidence for the existence of Jesus. And no, I don’t accept that, not when there should be lots of direct evidence for the existence of Jesus. So if you have any piece of direct evidence that Jesus was a real historical person please tell me. I want to hear your best piece of good evidence for Jesus. Ready. Go.

          • Tony Breeden says:

            The link you gave was from a fringe believer who thinks that only the words of Christ are inspired as the New Testament. Do not pretend for a moment that you gave me anything but the exception rather than the rule.

            The idea that we should have direct historical evidence to confirm a person’s historicity is a bit of special pleading that no historian or archaeologist would accept. Neither do I accept your invalid challenge. You’ve been given plenty of evidence and any reasonable person accepts that. Even Bart Erhmam admits to the historicity of Jesus and he’s not even friendly to Christianity. Appeals to an ahistorical Jesus is the refuge of the willfully ignorant

  4. Tony,

    It’s been at least two years since you have been banned from my site. My “brand new site” is two years old. No one, at this time, is banned from my blog. Evangelicals have to work real, real hard for me to ban them.

    As far as the substance of your post, other commenters have adequately shown the silliness of your assertions.

    BTW, From Evangelicalism to Atheism is a four part series. I hope you will read them so I can then look forward to more of “The Life of Bruce Gerencser, as Told by one and only Tony Breeden.”

    I think is is fair to let let your readers know that you began this deconstruction of my life anonymously. The only reason you now use your real name is that I outed you. It took me all of a few days to do so.

    Enjoy the traffic, Tony. I will try to send more your way. Enjoy!

    • Tony Breeden says:

      Hi Bruce.

      Thanks for your thoughts. The other commenters were forced to concede my point because we are, in fact, born as intuitive theists rather than being born atheists. It’s science. Deal with it. You may disagree about what that means concerning our origins and the Bible, but that point stands.

      I’ll be honest with you. I kind of lost interest in you, Bruce. I still think the issue of why folks leave church is important but I’m not sure your story has anything more to offer that might shed further light on the issue. No offense.

      This post was an unpublished draft I recently rediscovered as I was sorting through my various websites. In light of some atheist Tshirts I’ve seen lately bearing the claim that we’re all born atheists, I decided to polish it up to set the record straight.

      Speaking of which… for the record, I began this blog anonymously in attempt to minimize reader bias. Some folks are automatically dismissive simply based on who the author is or who he is associated with. You’ve continued to make mountains over molehills over this thing, mostly because I’m guessing you like the drama. Whatever floats your boat.

      So I don’t know if I’ll be writing anything else related to you, but thanks for the traffic. And thanks for stopping by.

      Tony Breeden

      • Tristan Vick says:

        We are born with the inclination toward superstitious thinking and problem solving. This much of your claim is suported by science.

        That said, Theism doesn’t enter the equation until certain psychological factors begin, including the necessity of a maturely developed limbic system.

        So, no, the science doesn’t say exactly what you want it to say. Deal with that. And instead of projecting the answer you have predetermined as being the absolutely correct one, try some humility. You’ll be able to learn more when you stop pretending to know everything there is to know while knowing very little.

        Just a suggestion.

        As a general observation though, children’s brains do not comprehend complex concepualizations until around 12 years old. That’s about the earliest a child’s mind can begin to grapple with the God concept.

        Before this they mainly rely on their parents and authority figures to teach them, and the science of children’s psychology is in, they aren’t innately religious, but the do have a tendency to cater to superstitious suppositions about nature.

        I suggest reading Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, The Belief instinct by Jesse Bering, Self Comes to Mind by Antonio Damasio, Supersense by Bruce M. Hood, and Religion Explained by Pascal Boyer. This will give you a nice crash course in the area of brain development, cognitive science, psychology and anthropology as related to the development of religion.

        Good luck and happy reading!

      • As you spin the narrative of our interaction, please keep in mind that I have employed and editor since October 2015. The text you use in this post is from edits done in the past year, not from when I first wrote this series.

        • Tony Breeden says:

          My last edit of the initial draft was dated September 2, 2015. If I edit any un-published draft, I always re-check my source and update the information to make sure its current. I ultimately decided to update my book, Defending Genesis, and include the material regarding intuitive theism in the first chapter of the new edition. I could’ve both posted it both here and published it in the new edition, but I got busy with other matters. Sorry if you needed the attention.

          • Just trying to keep you honest, Tony. You and I have very different memories about past engagements, so I want to make sure your readers (who are also mostly my readers) understand the facts of our relationship.

            As far as needing attention, I hadn’t thought about you in years outside of my mention of you in the blog post you reference. I’ve got enough Evangelical clones to deal with without spending time on past skirmishes. I found out about this post via an RSS update of your site. I also follow your other sites, as I do several hundred other Evangelical sites. I actually appreciated your recent posts on aliens and your taking of Ken Ham to task for his views concerning life on other planets.

            Well, enough of this back and forth. I’ll leave you to your deconstruction of my life.

            Bruce Gerencser

  5. Michael Mock says:

    I’d actually partly agree with you, in that:
    A. I don’t think that children are born “atheistic” in the way that adult atheists use the term, and
    B. I do think that a general tendency towards religious belief and expression is “wired in” to the human species.

    Where we differ is that I don’t see that either of those things requires or even offers evidence suggesting a “creator god”, let alone the specific deity of the Christian religion.

    What you keep referring to as “intuitive theism” has other names, and it’s worth reading their definitions: Pareidola, Apophenia, and Hyperactive Agency Detection. And while those add up to a tendency towards religious belief, they don’t add up to any sort of intuitive or pre-programmed monotheism – let alone anything as specific as Christianity.

    Historically and socially, monotheistic religions are a statistical outlier (though admittedly, one that’s been so successful that at the current moment, in Western countries, it’s popular enough to seem like the default). That sort of belief is neither “programmed in” nor particularly intuitive; it only seems that way because we’re swimming in it.

    Basically, while the phenomenon you’re describing is real, it is (at best!) an extremely weak argument for the truth of Christianity (or even the existence of some vague, generic, Deist sort of Creator). We aren’t born “with eternity in our hearts”; we’re born with a tendency to assign personalities and purposes to the events that affect our lives.

    • Tony Breeden says:

      You’re not arguing with me. You’re arguing with peer-reviewed science, none of which equated pareidolia, apophenia, or hyperactive agency detection with intuitive theism. It is obvious that you haven’t read the research and are answering according to what you presume the term must entail.

      I have never stated that intuitive theism is equivalent to Christian monotheism. In fact, I have corrected several knee-jerk assumptions on that score. Even so, to the theologian this bit of science and the peer-reviewed studies which suggest that we are likewise born with the tendency of being intuitive supernatural moralists, confirms the Scriptural truth of the first few chapters of Romans. You’re saying, No, it doesn’t because you’re an atheist and you don’t believe in God, much less that He has set eternity in our hearts.

      So it appears that not only is religious belief natural and atheistic belief not so much. As for monotheism being an outlier, do you really want the same standard of evaluation applied to atheism?

      • Michael Mock says:

        No, I’m pretty much arguing with you. And while it’s certainly possible that I’m misunderstanding what you mean by “intuitive theism”, I’m responding to the way you used the term in this post, i.e. “Research has shown that children have this natural tendency to interpret features of the natural world things as if they have a purpose and this naturally leads to a belief in a Creator God.”

        Pareidola, Apophenia, and hyperactive agency detection all help to explain the human tendency towards religious belief. Of course, as someone who’s invested in the idea of there being a God out there, you prefer “God wants us to believe” as an explanation. That strikes me as a rather weak argument, since the fact that human beings naturally tend towards religious beliefs can be used to argue the likelihood that the supernatural doesn’t exist just as easily as it can be used to argue that the supernatural does exist.

        Basically, I’m saying that:
        1. Claiming that human beings are born atheists or religious is at best misleading and at worst wholly incorrect; the actual state of affairs is more complicated than that.
        2. Research has shown that children have this natural tendency to interpret features as if they have a purpose, but if you look at the incredible variety of human religious beliefs, it’s extremely hard to argue that “this naturally leads to a belief in a Creator God” when the vast majority of what it leads to is more along the lines of animism, pantheism, or polytheism. (Seriously, check out a book on traditional creation myths some time. They are, quite literally, all over the place.)

        And, here, I’ll throw in one more:
        3. If the tendency towards religious belief is a natural human trait (as we appear to agree that it is), then we should expect it to manifest more strongly in some individuals and less strongly in others – as, for example, some people are extremely artistic while others essentially have no use for art at all. Given “tendency towards religious belief” as a general human trait, the existence of a minority of atheists isn’t “abnormal”; on the contrary, it’s expected.

        • Tony Breeden says:

          I’m using the term [intuitive theism] as it’s used in those research papers and none of those rescuing devices were applicable to how the research was conducted. Moving forward, keep that in mind. The quote I provide is pretty much what Kelemen says in her various research papers on the subject.

          To clarify, what I’m saying is that if the supernatural exists, my explanation is perfectly reasonable. Its the evolutionist who has to explain intuitive theism in light of a belief in pure naturalism. While you claim that it can be used to argue the likelihood that the supernatural does not exist, that would not be the explanation that flows most naturally from the data, unless you’re somehow claiming that the fact that we’re born intuitive theists and that only a minority of the population ends up rejecting the supernatural wholesale is somehow an indicator that the supernatural doesn’t exist… You end up having to do quite a few mental gymnastics to come to the conclusion that intuitive theism is an indicator that the supernatural doesn’t exist, so don’t pretend as if it could go either way just as easily.

          To address your points

          1. I’m saying that the claim that we’re born atheists flies in the face of science. So atheists need to stop preaching that nonsense.
          2. You’re conflating the idea of a Creator God with Christian monotheism. If I recall correctly, Kelemen and other researchers who have investigated the concept of intuitive theism actually claim that it naturally leads to a belief in creationism, but not Biblical creationism per se. Animism, pantheism, polytheism, monotheism and even deism all propose a deity or deities who is the Creator. Typically, there is one chief Creator even if there are several deities in question, which is why I cut to the chase and phrased my argument the way I did. As someone who specializes in origins, did you seriously think that I would not have already investigated the differences and commonalities of Creation myths?
          3. Agreed. Assuming a purely naturalistic universe, your conclusion would be quite rational, but as I’ve said before the supernatural revelation of the Bible is supernaturally authenticated by fulfilled prophecy and the Resurrection of Christ, which authentication also validates the reality of the supernatural, so I’m not inclined to believe in a purely naturalistic universe and therefor reject your otherwise rational proposal.

      • Michael Mock says:

        Deleted the last response? Or is it hidden in the moderation queue?

        Look, a peer-reviewed article is not the same thing as an established scientific conclusion. It’s worth taking a serious look at, sure. And what you linked off to isn’t a complete article; from what I could read of the abstract, it’s an article detailing the results of a particular study, a bit of context, and some conclusions that don’t seem quite sufficient to support the overall conclusion that you keep trying to sell us as an established fact. Nor do the observations made in the article (again, what I could read of them) quite match with the definition of “intuitive theism” that you’re using here, though the article does at least use the same term.

        You’re trying to tell me that it’s an established scientific fact (that in effect I can’t argue with, because Science!) that children are born religious, but your reference doesn’t really support that assertion. So, no: I’m not arguing with “peer-reviewed science”, though frankly it wouldn’t much matter if I were. Peer-reviewed science argues with peer-reviewed science all the time; that’s kind of how science works. And, again, to the extent that children are born with a tendency towards religious belief (or, more specifically, that children of a certain age conceptualize natural objects as having been made by something for some purpose), so what? It seems like a bit of a stretch to say that makes them “religious” in the sense that I would describe an adult as “religious”. And it’s still a looooooonnnnnnnnng step from there to anything resembling Christianity.

        Frankly, you were better off arguing from the contemporary-ish records and “Christianity wouldn’t actually exist if the Resurrection hadn’t happened” angle.

        • Tony Breeden says:

          This isn’t the only peer-reviewed study of intuitive theism.

          I have never claimed that intuitive theism is equivalent to Christian monotheism or even to being religious. My guess is that you made that assumption based on your biases regarding the term theism. I have said that default atheism isn’t supported by science. Please stop trying to move the goalpost.

          I have a life outside of this site. The site is moderated because, well, foul-mouthed trolls. Patience, Iago.

          • Michael Mock says:

            Again, meh.

            I’m not saying that intuitive theism is equivalent to Christian monotheism, either. I’m just saying that if your goal is to defend your Christian beliefs, then intuitive theism isn’t exactly the profound “Checkmate, atheists!” moment that you appear to be presenting it as being. Nor am I arguing that human beings aren’t intuitive theists, though I suspect we disagree on what exactly that means. I would actually agree that atheists should stop with the “babies are born atheist” bit; even as a bumper sticker shorthand for a much more complex and nuanced set of observations, it doesn’t work very well and rather misses the point. I wouldn’t, however, say that it “flies in the face of science,” since that appears to imply that you believe we are born religious, instead. (I believe you when you say that really aren’t making such a claim, but boy howdy you sure do come across as if you are.)

            “If I recall correctly, Kelemen and other researchers who have investigated the concept of intuitive theism actually claim that it naturally leads to a belief in creationism, but not Biblical creationism per se. Animism, pantheism, polytheism, monotheism and even deism all propose a deity or deities who is the Creator.”

            Ah ha! Yes, you’re right: we’re having trouble with the terminology. Or at least, I am. Yes, I saw the part where children conceptualize objects as having been created for some purpose; if that’s what you’re referring to as “creationism”, well… A) I have no problem with that, and B) pardon me for being confused by a somewhat atypical and technical use of the term.

            I would take issue (at least somewhat) with the assertion about creator deities; polytheism and monotheism certain have such things, but pantheism doesn’t necessarily have them, and animism frequently lacks gods of any sort. That said, I’m also aware that Religious Studies people and Anthropology people don’t always use those terms in exactly the same way, so I’m not sure that’s worth arguing about.

            “To clarify, what I’m saying is that if the supernatural exists, my explanation is perfectly reasonable. Its the evolutionist who has to explain intuitive theism in light of a belief in pure naturalism.”

            I’m not sure this is quite the hurdle you think it is. If we take the existence of “intuitive theism” as a given (which, as I’ve said, I largely do), then both the theist and the pure naturalist have to account for it somehow. Your explanation seems to be that if the Christian God exists, it would make sense for him to create us with qualities that would allow us to believe in Him, and the Bible tells us that too. That makes sense as far as it goes, but it seems to me that if that were the case, God might want to build us so that we were better equipped to believe in Him specifically, rather than in creators in general. The connection between intuitive theism as a developmental concept and the Bible passages you quote also seems a bit thin; Hebrews is talking about faith, which isn’t the same thing as intuition, while the passage from Romans is talking about a very specific understanding of one particular God being obvious from the world itself, which is not at all what your intuitive theism is describing. The pure naturalist, on the other hand, can look at this phenomenon and conclude that, among other things, this helps explain why religion (in general) is so common to human beings (in general) and human societies (universally) despite the lack of evidence to support such beliefs.

            TL/DR: I also wish that atheists would quit using the “all babies are born atheist” line, but intuitive theism really isn’t much of a challenge to a naturalistic/atheistic worldview.

          • Tony Breeden says:

            This post was meant to challenge the “natural born atheists” argument and to note that the concept of intuitive theism is consistent with the Bible, not to prove Christianity by it. I think you might have got that impression due to the confusion over terms.

            I disagree with your personal assessment that intuitive theism doesnt go far enough; that instead “God might want to build us so that we were better equipped to believe in Him specifically, rather than in creators in general.” To do so would, in the view of over 2000 years of theological discourse, stack the deck too far in the favor of belief as to make Him undeniable; as Blaise Pascal put it, He has left us “too little evidence to be sure but too much to ignore,” which are exactly the conditions necessary for volitional faith. The Bible nonetheless promises that we will find God if we seek Him with all our heart [Jeremiah 29:13].

            Now it is interesting that the Bible says to approach God with childlike faith, because Joseph Bulbulia’s research indicates that not only are we apparently born intuitive theists but also as intuitive supernatural moralists; Hebrews 11:6 says “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,” which means that (a) a mere deistic belief is not acceptable and (b) that personal theism is required. Personal theism is the belief that God personally acts in the lives of the faithful. Both intuitive theism and intuitive supernatural moralism play into this verse (or rather the requirements cited in this verse). Long way round, it appears that the childlike faith which is required should come to us naturally. All we have to do is follow the bread crumbs to seek out the proper object of that faith and morality.

          • Michael Mock says:

            Also, (and feel free to publish this or delete it, whichever, as it isn’t really relevant to the discussion) I do apologize for the impatience. When I published my first reply, I could see it and the little “awaiting moderation” tag at the top. When I came back, I couldn’t see it at all. From my end, it really looked as if you’d deleted it. I have no issue with you moderating comments. Heck, it’s your blog; if you wanted to block all disagreement outright, you’d be well within your rights.

  6. daveygodDave says:

    Are you seriously suggesting that all newborn children come into the world believing that gods exist. And more to the point, that they have already abandoned all other religions with the exception of Christianity?

    Perhaps you could answer the following questions:

    1. At what point does this belief in your god become instilled? At then point of conception? During the first hour, week, month or some other fixed point during fetal development? Or is at the moment of birth.

    2. Are the children of Muslim’s, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, agnostics and atheists all born believing in your Christian God? Why does your God allow apostasy at such an early age?

    3.A newborn child is aware of only two things: a. I need some of that that milky white stuff. b. I must pray to God before I go to sleep?

    4. Were you aware that you were a Christian when you were born?

    • Tony Breeden says:

      I’m not suggesting anything. I’m pointing out that peer-reviewed studies have come to the conclusion that we are born with an intuitive theism. Deal with it. Better yet, do some research.

      In answer to your straw man, or perhaps your knee-jerk assumption when you hear the term theism, theism is not equivalent to Christian monotheism, which is much more specific a belief.

      In answer to your rather snarky questions:
      1. The research suggests we are born with this intuitive theism. A 2004 study by Joseph Bubulia suggests that “children appear born for belief” and that “children are not only intuitive theists, they appear to be intuitive supernatural moralists.”
      2. a. Intuitive theism is not equivalent to Christian monotheism. b. God values free will as much as an atheist.
      3. a. Begs the question. b. Intuitive theism doesn’t not imply a necessity of ritual.
      4. Intuitive theism is not equivalent to Christian monotheism

      Next time. Try comprehending what you so vehemently object to

  7. Have you ever had kids, Tony? My daughter has just had a baby. Gorgeous as she is, the only ‘pre-programming’ that shows itself the instinct to find food, poop and sleep. She is neither theist nor atheist (nor gay or straight as some folks like to insist). It will be some time (about two years) before she will develop anything we might call concepts.

    From my experience of my own kids when they were young, as well as my other grandchildren, children do not, even at the concept stage, exhibit any inclination towards theism. When I myself was a Christian and had young kids who were immersed in a faith environment, I was disappointed that they did not manifest faith tendencies themselves. No, they had to be taught them – something I now regret.

    As your other commenters have said, you present no evidence whatsoever for children being pre-programmed for theism.

  8. Tristan Vick says:

    You should read Paul D. MacLean’s research regarding the triune brain and the evolutionary history of religion as a psychological adaptation.

  9. Geoff Toscano says:

    It’s interesting that you regard Tristan Vick’s link as unconvincing, yet have no such reservations about your own scientific authority.

    Having said which, Deborah Keleman seems to be a sound researcher, and her conclusions, though provisional, are fairly compelling. That said, having theistic tendencies doesn’t make them right. We know that human beings have a capacity for pattern recognition, something that usually serves us well, but can also deceive, such as when people see the face of Jesus in clouds. Keleman’s own research goes much further than the science you refer to, and for example suggests that children have a natural tendency to believe creationism and intelligent design, both of which we know are untrue. So why shouldn’t the tendency to theistic belief be simply a misleading trait?

    • Tony Breeden says:

      For the record, Deborah Kelemen’s not the only researcher to come to the aforementioned conclusion regarding intuitive theism.

      Your comment that we “know” creationism and intelligent design are untrue is a question-begging epitaph. All that science chained to pure naturalism can do is give us all-natural answers that may or may not be true and are certainly false where the supernatural was involved. Since all-natural science cannot comment on or even consider the possibility of the supernatural, it cannot tell us if and when the supernatural is called for over the all-natural answers it provides. Meanwhile the revelation of the Bible is supernaturally authenticated by fulfilled prophecy and the Resurrection of Christ, which authentication also validates the reality of the supernatural, so it should logically be our ultimate authority where the claims of all-natural science and Scripture conflict.

      Which is to say that intuitive theism is only a misleading trait if pure naturalism is true. The trouble is that naturalism is not only blind but also contradictory. That is, those who affirmed science chained to pure naturalism must also accept things that are supernatural, thinks we have never observed in the natural world: that everything came from nothing or an undetectable, unprovable Multiverse; that specified, complex information comes without intelligence; that life comes from non-life; and that a frog can really become a prince after all, if we just give it millions of years. Meanwhile the Biblical worldview affirms the general uniformity of nature, but note that the promise of such [Genesis 8:22] was given after the Creation, Fall and Flood.

      Even Thomas Huxley, Darwin’s Bulldog, admitted that special creation is perfectly rational given the existence of a Deity. I wrote an entire book demonstrating why he was correct, if you’re interested:

  10. byblacksheep says:

    Hey Tony, I’ve tried to send a reply to your last comment but for whatever reason it isn’t appearing on your site, should I try again?

  11. Geoff Toscano says:

    I’m happy to reply to your response but will leave it at this. We are diametrically opposed in our views, meaning debate is difficult.

    Dealing first with Thomas Huxley, I have no idea about that quote, but he was a staunch supporter of evolution, so the type of comment you report is either false or not intended to express what you imply.

    On naturalism you make the mistake of assuming that science discounts the supernatural. It doesn’t, it’s just that it never works in a meaningful way. Your worldview assumes the existence of the supernatural; does this actually manifest itself in your life? Because if you say it does then it becomes a testable phenomenon, but if it doesn’t then, quite frankly, why believe it. For example, prayer, involves invoking the supernatural, but any effect it may have is physical and, as such, is testable. There have actually been a very few serious tests of prayer, and every one failed to demonstrate that it had any efficacy whatever. What it does show, however, is that science doesn’t ignore the supernatural, but actually proves that it knows how to approach the topic. Of course, you will continue to believe that prayer does work, and to do this you dismiss the science. So the reality is that you support your worldview by ignoring evidence, whereas the worldview of ‘science’ is that only evidence matters.

    Which takes us to evolution. After quantum physics, evolution is the second most fabulously evidenced scientific theory (note, it is a scientific theory, so accepted as fact, as opposed to the commonly held view of creationists that it is still a hypothesis). It is supported by countless millions of individual items of evidence, all of which are supportive, without a single piece of contrary evidence. Evolutionists are first to admit that just one example of contrary evidence would destroy the theory; in reality it is totally inconceivable that this will happen, but it’s important to tell people how the theory could be debunked.

    And lastly, as for how things came about, I have no idea. Neither do you, but you’ve invented a very poor solution called God and based on a very poor text known as the bible. I tend to think that the universe is a brute fact, having always existed, but that begs many, many questions. After all, if God created things then, despite the attempts of the apologists, it’s perfectly reasonable to enquire as to where God came from; semantic gymnastics do not ever solve this simple question.

    • Tony Breeden says:

      Huxley was both an evolutionist and an agnostic, but he was also honest about the fact that, given a Deity, special creation was perfectly rational. My opponents today are not so gracious, but I assure you I have not quoted him out-of-context on the matter.

      Actually, science can’t comment on the supernatural at all. A supernatural act is not testable because the scientific method can only consider natural answers. Miracles [what we’re talking about when we speak of answered prayer] are not natural processes which may be examined and dissected with a scientific test. As to tests regarding the efficacy of prayer, these tests are flawed. They pretend as if God were a vending machine or a measurable, natural law. Often they are scripted when Jesus forbade repetitious prayers. I could go on. The bottom line is that your insistence that the efficacy of prayer could be scientifically measurable betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the mystery of prayer and the nature of God. To believe that prayer works, I merely have to look at my own life. A skeptic would likely say that my answered prayers were merely subjective. Even so, science as immaterial to the question. The test does not apply to the subject. Just as they do not apply to God. The scientific method is limited to that which is observable, testable, repeatable and falsifiable. The repeatable aspect implies causation. Everything which has a beginning, has a cause… but God is eternal, pre-existing outside the bounds of the universe [i.e., time-space] He created.

      If you’ve been paying attention, I haven’t invented anything. I’ve been intuitively theistic from the beginning. I’ve merely suggested that the reason for this intuitive theism is that God gave us a compass to point us in the right direction, just as our intuitive supernatural moralism points to a Lawgiver to whom we are accountable. God Himself will not stoop to be measured in a petri dish and studies on the efficacy of prayer are misguided. As for the Bible, I’ve mentioned how it is supernaturally authenticated. When you dismissed it, did you bother to examine the evidence of fulfilled prophecy and the resurrection of Christ? Jesus told the story of a rich man who died and went to hell. On the same day, a poor man named Lazarus who begged at his gates died and was taken to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man asked God to send Lazarus to his five brothers that they might repent and avoid his fate. Jesus said that the answer given the rich man was that if they did not believe Moses and the Prophets, they would not believe even if a man rose from the dead. Of course, Jesus performed miracles, healing the sick, casting out devils and even raising the dead. Rather than believe in Him, they called Him a sorcerer and conspired to have Him crucified. Even though He rose from the dead, you will not believe His testimony. Even though He fulfilled prophecy, you will not believe His testimony.

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