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RE: [atheists-494] Origins

From: Bill W.
Sent on: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 10:25 PM
You (or perhaps Carl Sagan ... I got lost in the quotes) said "An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence."
In a logical sense, the burden of proof lies with the person making a claim. As we say in science, "outrageous claims demand outrageous proof."  For example, if you say you can keep elephants away by snapping your fingers, does that mean the burden is on me to prove that it doesn't?
Bill Whitlock
-----Original Message-----
From: [address removed] [mailto:[address removed]] On Behalf Of A. S. Machiraju
Sent: Wednesday, February 27,[masked]:55 PM
To: [address removed]
Subject: Re: [atheists-494] Origins

Carl Sagan said the following about god, gods, and deities:

Some people think God is an outsized, light-skinned male with a long white beard, sitting on a throne somewhere up there in the sky, busily tallying the fall of every sparrow. Others—for example Baruch Spinoza and Albert Einstein—considered God to be essentially the sum total of the physical laws which describe the universe. I do not know of any compelling evidence for anthropomorphic patriarchs controlling human destiny from some hidden celestial vantage point, but it would be madness to deny the existence of physical laws.


The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow is ludicrous. But if by God one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying… it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity.


An atheist is someone who is certain that God does not exist, someone who has compelling evidence against the existence of God. I know of no such compelling evidence. Because God can be relegated to remote times and places and to ultimate causes, we would have to know a great deal more about the universe than we do now to be sure that no such God exists. To be certain of the existence of God and to be certain of the nonexistence of God seem to me to be the confident extremes in a subject so riddled with doubt and uncertainty as to inspire very little confidence indeed.

To his wise words, I would also add that while the various laws of nature (namely gravity, electromagnetism, and other such things) are, in fact, omnipotent governors of the universe (and thus constitute higher powers in the universe), they show no signs of consciousness. Therefore, higher powers exist, but they do not qualify as gods because they are not conscious and therefore cannot actively make decisions about the universe.

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