The life of meaning: 9-23-2008
Toward understanding Muslims: 9-25-08

Are there more atheists? 9-24-08

Cal-2

Last week, when Baylor University released its religion survey called "What Americans Really Believe," I linked you to some information about it but I didn't have time then to get into it then.

Today I want to dig into one part of that study because I think it's widely misunderstood. And that is the alleged popularity of atheism in America. As you know, partly because of some best-selling books in recent years, there's a widespread opinion that atheism is growing in the U.S., and maybe even growing quickly. You know. Atheists. The folks who believe there is nothing above us (although they do believe in clouds above us, such as these I photographed last year on my way to California).

The newly released Baylor study confrms that the percentage of atheists in the population is not growing at all. A Baylor news release about the study put it this way:

"During the past 63 years, several polls show the percentage of atheists has not changed at all, holding steady at only 4 percent of Americans who say they do not believe in God. Not only is atheism not growing in the United States, the majority of Europeans are not atheists (Ch. 14, 'Atheism: The Godless Revolution That Never Happened'). Russia now claims 96 percent of its population believes in God, while a recent poll of China showed that atheists are outnumbered by those who believe in Gods).

"In both the 2005 and 2007 Baylor Religion Surveys, researchers found than 11 percent of the national sample reported they had 'no religion.' Although nearly a third of the 'no religion' group are atheists who reject 'anything beyond the physical world,' the Baylor Religion Survey found that two-thirds of the 'no religion' group expressed some belief in God and many of those are not 'irreligious' but are merely 'unchurched' (Ch. 17, 'The Irreligious: Simply Unchurched-Not Atheists'). Delving into the actual religiousness of those who report having no religion, the Baylor Survey found that a majority of Americans who claim to be irreligious pray (and 32 percent pray often), around a third of them profess belief in Satan, hell and demons, and around half believe in angels and ghosts."

Well, does that surprise you? It doesn't me. It reminds me of a friend who once told me he tried to be an atheist for awhile but kept having lapses of disbelief.

* * *

CATHOLIC-MUSLIM VALUES

As Ramadan moves toward its end, the Vatican has declared that Christians and Muslims should recognize the family values they share and work together to support them. Clearly the Catholic Church is making an effort to repair the damage Pope Benedict XVI did in his 2006 speech in Germany that angered so many Muslims.

To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.

Comments

Just Thinking

Intuitively, we know that there is more to this world than what is created by rocks randomly banging into each other.

I've never had a car whose design was improved by random mutation, by random error, or by any other unintended event. Random errors have never helped my writing. Random coding errors have not made Microsoft Software better. The Universe prefers de-evolution, chaos, disorder through increased entropy. But life requires order, organization, information as opposed to chaos. For that reason, finding a random process that produces information is quite a challenge. This question can be precisely stated in the language of science:

The genetic code can be viewed as an actual code, replaced by letters repesenting the components. Information theory offers ways to measure the information content of a code at each step along the way. Information content of signals, books, etc. can be so measured. Zipfile compression works by reducing components that add little information.

Information content can be measured before and after changing the genetic code. Somewhere along the way, information content MUST increase or no information is ever created. In this way the following fundamental question arises: What naturally occurring genetic modifications ADD information content? These MUST exist, or there can be no way for naturally occurring processes to create our genetic code.

Evolutionists have been unable to find ANY naturally occurring process which increase the information content. It's a valid scientifically-phrased question that is fundamental to origins of life. If one cannot be found, then evolution cannot account for the complexity of life. If it can, then it will certainly shed light onto the issue. Perhaps if the scientists just try random things, then they will eventually find an intelligent solution and win $1,000,000 :)
http://www.us.net/life/

adam harrison

Fascinating post on atheism, Bill. Many have long realized that the percentage of atheists in the country has not changed in decades.

What may have changed is their visibility, as enhanced by a publisher driven surge in books by the "new" atheists. But this has apparently not increased the percentage of atheists, per se, not least because of the blatant hositility expressed by those same books.

We can see an example of that with the antics of one of the posters here. Given that, I think we can be certain that the current fad in "new atheism" will fade. (And one example is that a major bookstore chain, which had dededicated a new section to "atheism" is now pulling that section from its stores, or just letting them fade by not restocking.)

Just Thinking

Last year Bernanke told us that there'd be no trouble even if EVERY subprime loan failed!!! Bernanke is an idiot. Now he wants to revalue worthless mortgage securities, and force the taxpayers to pick up the tab. How absurd. Anyone who supports free enterprise knows that something is worth only what the market will pay. Too many of the mortgage backed securities are junk because the banks engaged in unscrupulous or fraudulent lending practices. Paying a premium price for junk is NOT GOING TO CHANGE THE VALUE OF THAT JUNK IN THE LONG RUN. But it will leave taxpayers with over-priced junk, and greatly reduced capacity to help the real victims in the INEVITABLE COMING CRISES.

Why in the world would taxpayers volunteer to buy JUNK mortgage-backed securities at premium prices? Of course the financial institutions want the American public to replace their lost wealth with tax dollars. Then the JUNK will collapse in price afterwards anyway. Why? BECAUSE IT'S JUNK!!!

Just say, "NO!!!" to corporate welfare.

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org

On the subject of the % of non believers - numbers vary from 4-20% depending on who's counting and how questions are asked.

You can't reason with the psychologically challenged (religious people who have cognitive dissonance), you can only pander to them, just like you'd pander to any demographics.

My theory is that children and domesticated animals possess the necessary mindset to make "good" pets/dependents. Some adults never get over that need to fawn and feel protected (the world is too scary all alone) So they invent their own Masters, call them "God" and become their willing pets. Some of us of us grow up and accept responsibility for ourselves. No Big Sky Daddy to make it all better when I run someone over. No demons, no angels: no Do Overs. Grow up, people, it's a bit harder than Sit, Stay, Ask for Forgiveness, Beg- but worth it.

What I find depressing is the notion that 1/2 of the people in this country genuinely believe that some invisible, mythical spirit is actively watching over them at all times. This is the kind of make-believe that you use to comfort a frightened child, not live out an adult existence. The fact that a large portion of the population actually think they've had some interaction with said mythical, invisible creatures would be funny if it wasn't so sad. I mean, there's being religious and believing in a higher power, then there's having the intellect of an 8 year old. Apparently a large portion of the country falls into the latter category.

Rockefeller is rumored to have said that if you took all the money from the ultra rich and distributed it, they would have it all back in 2 years. I wonder if we can prove it? I propose an experiment of every Christian in the world praying for a little girl without a limb to regrow it, this is not tempting god, this is worthwhile, this would follow 100% what Jesus said about result of prayer, if there are two true believers he walks among them and ANYTHING they ask for will be given to them in his fathers name. This would put a rest to the question of if god exists or not.

Other than that, we'll continue adults holding on to childish beliefs of one Bronze Age tribe in the Middle East.

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org

(And one example is that a major bookstore chain, which had dededicated a new section to "atheism" is now pulling that section from its stores, or just letting them fade by not restocking.) Posted by: adamh | September 24, 2008 at 02:21 AM


adamh,

You've been spending too much time at Borders striking conversations about god with random people.

Last time I heard you were inviting atheists on Atheists Nexus for ice coffee at Borders? Care to meet and discuss things? You need to hurry, because, the kingdom of Jesus' father is at hand, you need to be aware of that. It can happen any time now, for "verily I tell onto you, this generation shall not pass till all these things happen." Maybe you and I can start looking for the 2,000 years + Jew a disciple of Jesus who is still running around.

Too bad, you have been banned on that blog as you have been banned on every other blog out there. Your constant atheists are evil, references to China, abortions, random processes in the meaty organ known as brain, etc. have not scored you any points.

Perhaps, the final days as Sarah Palin believes in will hasten your acceptance of critical thinking? I believe that ice coffee can help and cool down your "hellish" beliefs. I have faith still in your critical thinking. So, are you game or not?

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org

JT wrote>Intuitively, we know that there is more to this world than what is created by rocks randomly banging into each other.


JT,

Don't forget that "intuitively" some cultures have belief systems (like Buddhism) that have no designer and no randomness.

You think the world is turning around Christianity and your version of deity, while conveniently forgetting there are other bubbles of delusion out there and Christianity is just one of them.

You wrote yourself - If it can't pass the '100% truth test' (clearly a "spin" for "lie") on either side, then it should be exposed." So, are you ready to look for the "true" "truth" test or you are only ready to apply "your version of the truth test" only?

Once you look at it from bird's eye view, you should start understanding. If you cannot, then I'll understand.

Dolores Lear

What do Americans 'Believe' today? High Tech Science is Fact, not Fiction? Will Humans 'Believe' in High Tech Science Humans, and as they do in our the Human 'Gods', in our Image, in Religion and Myth.

"God's Daily Promises, 9/24/08" "This week's promise: God has conquered all our enemies" "Are you concerned about losing your faith?" - Vance Havner. "We are God's People" We are not babes in the woods—we are God's people and, no matter how it looks now, we are going to inherit this earth and rule it. The devil may be prince of this world, but the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, and He will set up His kingdom and His people will be in charge of it."

Will this Literally happen? Humans are Killing their Eco System, and then Life as we Know it, cannot Exist on Earth.

Humans can Regenerate/Repair the Human Body, with High Tech Science. They Reproduce a Fetus in the Lab, and make genetic corrections in the Lab, and in the female womb.

Humans Clone Animals and can Clone Humans, without using the Heterosexual Sex Act. This is the Fact, of how the Lord God, in our Human Image, made Eve from Adam's rib.

So what are Humans doing with this High Tech Human God Knowledge? Using it for making Perfect Humans, or making High Class Pollution, and Nuclear Bombs to Kill off this Killer Human Species?

Are Killer Humans concerned, about losing their Faith Belief, in Dying and Going to Jesus in Heaven? Should they be Concerned about Losing their Physical Life on our Dying Home Planet?

High Tech Peace Humans, Can have Eternal Physical Life After Birth, on Planets and in Spaceships, like the 'Peace' Gods of Religion and Myth.


adam harrison

Iggy, you told Bill he was clinically delusional on the You Tube video. Care to expand on that?

But, I repeat, why did you delete his response? (It was, understandably, devastating, but I thought you wanted debate?)

You realize you didn't gain any points with the community of reason people, don't you?

Dolores Lear

Thomas Friedman has written a new Book, "Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution - and How It Can Renew America"

Sounds good, but Can we really Renew America's Finances, to Fulfill the Last Days Prophecies?

Is the 'Arm'ageddon Nuclear War and the Destruction of our Home Planet's Eco System 'literally' possible?

Nuclear Bombs and Nuclear Pollution began in America. Will America be the Last Days Super Power that Falls?

Is it Time to at least consider, Humans can have High Tech Science Eternal Physical 'Life' After Birth, on Planets? Genesis gives us this Proof.

We Know about Human Life made of Atoms and Electro-Magnetic Elements on Planet Earth. 'Eternal Physical Life' is for Living Humans, not Dead Humans in 'Heaven'. What Kind of 'Life' is that?

We should Know today, that High Tech Science Peace Perfect Humans, can Live Eternally on Planets and Spaceships, like the Peace Human Gods that Colonized Life on Earth in Genesis.

They are Still Alive Physically, not Spirits. They are not the GOD of the Seen and Unseen Elements, that make LIFE as we Know it today.

The Human Killer Gods of the Noah/Atlantis Society were not the Colonizer Peace Gods 'in the beginning'.

Humans DO need a High Tech Science Translation, of Religion and Myth, to Solve all they High Tech Science Mysteries, in Genesis and Myth, and 'Why Humans Kill Each Other' and their Planet.

The Peace God is a Literal Human Species, with Eternal Life After Birth. They are not the Unknown GOD of Visible and Invisible Humans Elements.

Just Thinking

I gave you the truth, KCFreeThinker. It's posted in the first post. Not ONE single naturally occurring process has ever been found which increases information in the genetic code. That's a precisely scientific statement, unlike what you like to say about science.

Of course, if you think you've found a way to explain how the genetic code increased in complexity, then you should try to claim your $1,000,000 prize. Maybe that would not ordinarily be worth your time to compete for such a paltry amount, but economic times aren't as good these days either.

I used intuition only to motivate the precise question. Sometimes it's helpful to understand the intuition behind complex issues so that the deep questions doesn't just seem out of the blue and completely perplexing. The intuition is this: how can purely random events produce non-random results? This motivates the PRECISE question: How is the information content of the genetic code increased by naturally occurring processes? That becomes a precise scientific question that is baffling to the evolutionists. It baffles the common sense, too, to think that my Microsoft Software would develop a brand new, desireable feature (complete with menu option) from random coding. And we've never had a monkey type out "Macbeth" by accident either.

If the information of the genetic code can be increased by naturally occurring processes, then there would be at least one experiment where information of the genetic code increases. Just one would be an excellent start. Many are looking, but nobody has found anything yet. Finding such a thing would be a breakthrough in understanding the origin of life.

After that little digression into the mysterious world of rational thought which is so foreign to you, KCFreeThinker, you're welcome to return to your fantasy land now.

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org

JT,

"Fantasy land" sounds more Christian than "idiotic views" you have used before. I trust you have prayed and the right choice of words have been revealed to you? Too bad, prayer/god cannot be proven empirically. This is what the $1 mln prizes are for. God just need to come and claim it and then feed all the humanity on $1 mln like he did on a few loaves of bread.

THAT would be the proof of concept. Until then, I am glad you are getting to understand we all live in 'fantasy lands". Some of us just have a factual basis for evaluation of supernatural claims. You just need to open up your mind to "logical thinking" - sounds familiar? - "you just need to think like a child and accept Jesus in your heart". The only problem is "reason" is not needed for faith and is actually discouraged in the Bible.

We need to agree on this, or maybe I need to find the quote in the Bible about that? But again, it will be considered as "mine quoting" like Dt 23:1 about testicles and cut off penises.

Just Thinking

You know, KCFreeThinker, spending more time in your random typing is not going to result in "Macbeth." We'd all settle for one single intelligent comment on this blog. You and Dolores have learned all these great "science" words, but random combinations of them don't actually carry information and meaning. You do understand that, right?

Another way to illustrate the issue is through the Zipfile compression algorithm: If we put all of your posts together into one file and compressed them, virtually nothing would be left. Repeated, simplistic patterns add VERY little to information content. You can create a 2GB file full of the same letter, and it will compress to ALMOST NOTHING, because there's virtually NO INFORMATION CONTENT in that file. I suspect your posts would compress nicely.

DNA is not science "babble" either. You see, KCFreeThinker, we can measure the information content of that message, too. Humans are remarkably good at knowing the difference between intelligent combinations of words and "babble." Scientists can quantify and measure information, too. So far only "babble" is produced by random processes of nature. It's quite a challenge to create genetic information by random, repetitive processes. You certainly have not succeeded.

Anyway, I know I'm taking you away from your compulsive typing. A rose by any other name would smell just the same! By the way, I think you can give up on producing meaningful new science by just stringing together random words. I don't actually know of any meaningful scientific result that has come from just random typing. We won't stop you from trying, but be aware that humans do know the difference between the chatter and clang of random babbling, and deep thought that contains information and real content.

Greg Swartz

Bill, your use of Baylor statistics is a hoot! Baylor advertises itself as "the world's largest Baptist university" (see http://www.baylor.edu/about/index.php?id=48040 ). It is well established that the Baptists are a pack of liars when it comes to statistics (see "The Fall of the Evangelical Nation" by Christine Wicker). I would not put any stock in what Baylor puts out.

You say that atheists "believe there is nothing above us" although you do admit that we recognize there are clouds. Actually, we realize that there are a lot of other things above us, like the whole rest of the universe. But, we do NOT believe in a heaven - that marvelous figment of human invention in the sky.

As the Greek philosopher Xenophanes observed many years ago, "[I]f cattle or horses or lions had hands and could draw, and could sculpture like men, then the horses would draw their gods like horses, and cattle like cattle; and each they would shape bodies of gods in the likeness, each kind, of their own." In other words, humans have created their gods and sacred spaces in their own likeness or based upon their own experience.

The people of the Middle East thrived on occupations relying on the sun, the rain, the wind and things in the sky. Shepherds looked at the heavens at night. Therefore, they created their sacred spaces in the sky.

On the other hand, the sea peoples of Australia were dependent on the sea, so they created their sacred spaces in the sea or on islands far removed from where they lived.

As we discussed at the Community of Reason a few months back, people all over the world are fighting and dying over religion – each believing that his interpretation of God’s will is correct. I asked you why God did not come back to earth (as he did in the Old Testament) and clear things up. You simply said that it was a good question.

Now, I know that the answer is that there is NO GOD to come back and clear things up and the sooner people realize that, the sooner we will have PEACE in this world!

IGGY - www.KCFreeThinkers.org

JT,

Again, you are invoking information on a scientific level, this leaves god out.

You have had not a single quote from the bible when you talk about these issues. Go back and review your notes several days back.

All of a sudden from quoting scriptures in "every day life" - politics, economics, etc. you have gone to NO SCRIPTURES IN MATTERS OF SCIENCE.

You have some "post religious" new agey blabber related to invisible hand of god in the subatomic particles world, gravitational waves, and now you are using information in DNA? Intelligent Design invoked information increase in their delusions and has been rebuked again and again by every reputable research.

Yet, you clearly stated that Intelligent Design doesn't have anything to do with cosmology before - again, review your posts. Now you are invoking Intelligent design information complexity to disprove what? - that logic can be twisted anyway you want it?

For that you don't need ID, physics, or quantum mechanics - you need the Bible and you need a bit of critical thinking. You then compare "interpretations" of the scholars of the Bible with those of "laymen" and then compare them to reality based on a common denominator called "common denominator" - what else :o)?

This to me is revealing, perhaps, you do understand that there is no god found in the quantum world, unless you want him there. And because you're looking for him, you always find him. I don't think I am supposed to be looking for him because "intuitively" (subjectively) as you put it, I have no need for him. When you say "intuitively" you declare "truth" revealed. It is not revealed intuitively. It is slowly approached through "verifications, stepping back, fallbacks, problems, solutions" and not private "intuitive" revelations.

Again, I am glad that you are beginning to talk "rationally" in science lingo. As you have demonstrated again and again, you leave god out of it.

And this is how it should be. It appears we both agree on that, though you will not admit it.

But this is OK. I believe, your own "evolution" is clearly working it way through it.

When cognitive dissonance takes place, you have to reject reality in face of facts.

Greg Swartz

JT, the problem with trying to discuss issues with religious folks is illustrated in your posts. You can make assertions without regard to any facts and often in opposition to facts. It then takes a thinking and reasoning person considerable time to refute that nonsense.

Example 1: What is this big banging theory? What is this theory in which the world is “created by rocks randomly banging into each other?” Humans have tried to understand the origins of the universe for thousands of years and we still do not totally understand how it happened. We do know that so far we have no evidence that it was directed by any intelligent being – only speculation!

Example 2: Your comments about cars not being improved by random mutation, etc., totally disregard the nature of evolution. For one thing cars are not living entities and secondly, evolution takes far more that the 100 or so years that cars have existed. Arguing against evolution using cars as an example is a totally nonsensical argument.

Prove to me that there is a God at work today in this universe! Prove to me that there is a God that cares about you or me! Einstein denied that any personal god exists and so do I!

adam harrison

Greg, you frequently make assertions without proof...you suggest that science has explained things that it hasn't; the origin of the universe, life, and mind intelf.

In fact, you can not even provide a basis show that the mindlessly evolved process you have faith in...yes, faith...can account for the existence of objective reason at all.

That said, I find it ironic that you are over here commenting on Bill's blog, after you have abandoned, in a cowardly fashion, your own forum; a forum where you let the most vicious remarks about Bill go unanswered.

By the way, did you note that Iggy's You Tube Vidio of Bill deletes Bill's answer.

Cowards.

adam harrison

By the way Greg, why is it OK for you to reference atheistic sources, but not OK for Bill to reference a source from Baylor?

You have not given us any evidence that Baylor's work here is not reliable, but have only tried to "poison the well" with a smear.

adam harrison

Greg, you deny that God exists.

I deny that all existence, life, and abjective reason can be demonstrated given your scenario.

If you can so demonstrate it, please proceed to do so, if you can cut out the ad hominems and posturing long enough.

Dolores Lear

Why is it Weird, to think Humans can reproduce Life, in a High Tech Science Womb, and make Genetic and Physically Perfect Humans? Cause that is God Work?

Why is it Weird, to think High Tech Science Humans can Colonize Life as we Know it, on another Planet? Cause that is God Work?

Why is it Not Weird, to see how Humans use their High Tech Science for Polluting their Home Planet with Nuclear Waste, and making Nuclear Bombs to Blow up their Home Planet?

Why is it Weird to think Humans Evolved from algae on Earth, to be the Unequal Killer Species? Or is it Weird, to think Humans, were literally Started Supernaturally, 'in the beginning' to be the Equal Caretaker Species?

What difference does it make? Humans have the Free Will to Unite, as an Equal Sharing Species, or, Kill the Whole Mess they have made on their Earth Home in the last 100 years. Why? Because Heaven their Home, not Earth?

It is Not Weird, for Humans to have Greed, Instead of Sharing the Limited Resources on Earth with Each Other. Humans Store it up the Extra in Barns, and let other Humans be Homeless and Starve. Why?

What is Wrong with Humans on Earth? Which Weirdness makes more Sense, to their Gods up there, and out there? Or No God? The Results are the Same. Abomination of Desolation will be the Judgement Day, to our Home Planet Earth.


Just Thinking

Greg,

It is impossible to have scientific discussions in this forum when your emotions override rationality, just because you don't like where the science is leading. Einstein proved nothing about God.

I never claimed that science PROVES that God is at work, Greg. So, if that is your claim, then you are mistaken or a liar. Do you understand the difference between these statements?:
1. Science cannot prove that God does not exist.
2. Science proves that God exists.
Those are VERY different statements, Greg.

Or perhaps you misunderstood the difference between these statements:
1. Evolution is not a complete theory if it cannot account for information content.
2. Evolution is false.
You do understand the difference, don't you? The first statement is a FACT. I did not address the second at all.

"Rocks banging together" was just a quaint substitue for "random processes." You were not truly confused about that, were you? As for random processes improving anything, I did not use this as part of the argument. I used this as part of the motivation leading up to rigorous science statements. You probably had trouble understanding the scientific statements, and had to revert to earlier illustrations as a substitute. But, trust me, nobody is going to try to offer up a full explanation of information theory in this forum.

As for "intelligent being," I never used such words. I talked about information content, a precise physical measurement that is computed from DNA code itself. There is no precise scientific measure of "intelligent being," something which I did not bring into the discussion. If something starts with little or no information content and ends up with greater information content, then some process must have increased the information content. Pure, basic, simple, logical talk about a physical measurement.

a theist

"Prove to me that there is a God at work today in this universe! Prove to me that there is a God that cares about you or me! Einstein denied that any personal god exists and so do I!"

Why would I want to do that? Am I supposed to care what happens to you?

Why should I, you don't?

a theist

If any of you posting here had any idea what evolution is, these posts would not be so moronic.

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