Atheism Established by the Hard Sciences

  1. Religion and Violence
  2. Ancient Philosophy
  3. Medieval Philosophy
  4. Mind body Problem
  5. Morality
  6. Philosophy of Science
  7. Modern findings
  8. The End of the World
  9. Freethought Publications

1. Religion and Violence

Religion cannot sustain itself on evidence because it does not have any. Instead it uses violence to continue its propagation. Religious folks wage an unceasing campaign to discredit or destroy anyone who is a threat to their control. Atheists suffer job discrimination and severe social discrimination. They are not allowed a proportional representation in the media and generally not allowed at all. They have had to develop their own book distribution network.
There are reports in Humanist writings showing a link between fundamentalism and violence in politics. Americans who are religious are more hawkish and dishonest about US support of foreign dictators and terrorist organizations. This then establishes the moral low ground for christians.
The coup de gras is the Proof that gawd does not exist based on the existence of evil:
In medieval times St. Thomas Acquinas said that "for anything to exist God must will it into existence and maintain its existence by force of will."  Evil exists. That indicts gawd and contradicts one of his properties.  Now you may not believe St. Thomas Acquinas. I don't. But that doesn't clear your poor lord of sin. I think he should punish himself in hell.

2. Ancient Philosophy

Philosophy is supposed to provide the framework and rules for development of the formal theory for science and for religion.

a. Greeks

The Greeks conceived of the idea of atoms developed geometry, and buoyancy relations.
The most notable failure of the Greeks is that they did "armchair science." To do real science you have to do experiments and be honest about it. You cannot judge experiments by your own preconceived rules.  Many rules were invented by the ancient philosophers such as cause and effect, but the only rules you are allowed are those implied by the experiment.

b. Plato and Socrates

These folks have extensive writings but almost all of it is concerned with trivial social interaction. There is little of value. Even the cave story can be rewritten in a fraction of the words he used.

c. Archimedes

This guy is famous for his buoyancy principle which today is considered a minor exercise for entry level students-nothing to write home about.

3. Medieval Philosophy

There is a long list of names that belong here. Like the ancients they really lived before the day of hard science, so you can't expect much from these guys either. All of their proofs of God were shown false long ago and their philosophical rules obsolete. A lot of their ideas appear foolish in modern light. However believe it or not the protestant church has re-indicted Galileo after the Catholic church has absolved him.

a. Pre scientific World View

Here are some of their ideas:
Every object in the universe owes its existence to gawd. Without the uninterrupted will of gawd to keep an object in existence it would instantly disappear.
Jesus died for our sins.
Humans have souls bestowed at conception.
An individual is responsible for his actions. (As if we were not machines subject to Newtonian determinism.)
Free will vs Christian determinism was argued by these folk! (Both nonsensical ideas.)
They believed in heaven and hell!
They believed that mathematical concepts were somehow spiritual, or indicative of spiritual ideals.
They argued over free will vs predestination.

b. The Works of St. Thomas Acquaints

Here are his five proofs of gawd:
1. Things are in motion hence there is a first mover.
The cosmological argument.
2. Things are caused hence there is a first caused.
The cosmological argument.
3. Things exist hence there is a creator.
The cosmological argument.
4. Perfect goodness exists, hence it has a source.
The moral argument.
5. Things are designed, hence they serve a purpose.
The teleological argument.

Some other famous argument:
Only gawd could enable humans to have the idea of gawd's perfection.
Modern science has shown that these arguments are wrong by finding natural relations that account for the world order. To answer the arguments specifically:
1. Objects can be set in motion by things that do not move like gravity and electric fields. There is even the famous zero point motion at absolute zero which exists with no energy source.
2. Causality has fallen into disrepute because of quantum chaos. In the case of radioactive decay there is no possible cause. Unknown causes have been ruled out by the Von Neumann "No Hidden Variables" proofs.
3. Particle pair creation is a common nuclear process and neither gawd nor human creator is needed.
4. Perfect goodness has never been defined but evil has and it exists. For gawd to allow such a thing gives him a questionable reputation.
5. Nonlinear chemical process and other processes that make fractals have demonstrated the formation of complex order from simple origins and the evolutionary process has been demonstrated to result in optimized performance of sophisticated systems. None of these processes require a designer.

4. Mind Body Problem

They imagined a  "Mind Body Problem." According to their thinking the mind and body were two separate entities. It suffices to say that thoughts are machine states and have no existence outside of the brain which is just another machine. The clear terminology provided by computer hardware and software is sufficient to reduce this "prehistoric" problem to trivia.

5. Morals

Enormous volumes have been written on morals. The Bible has distinguished itself as seriously immoral. The medieval concept that morals could be invented by a gawd is completely contrary to the modern scientific view that morals have meaning only in a human social context.
 I remain convinced that there is a simple calculus of morals based weighing outcomes and individual values. I haven't written the symbology for it but it should not be hard. Probably like language it depends on context.
Those words were written based on ideas from the 1980s. Now a new scientific appproach has enabled a more definite statement to be made. The most rudimentary morality is altruism, a phenomenon documented in many species. It is based on evolution and the particulars have been studied sufficiently by now to be a science. Altruism works because it helps survival.

Morality has a similar origin-law and morals can be considered as a method for enabling society to function more efficiently.  A business community with an environment of cheating spends a lot more energy defending itself than a community based on trust. In the United States only the force of law has enabled a somewhat trustworthy environment to develop.  A morally straight society can out compete an immoral society. This definition of morality will necessarily omit any concept of divine law.

6. Modern Philosophy of Science

a. Logical Positivism

Modern philosophy grew out of a small group called the Vienna School around 1900. These folks generated what is called Logical Positivism- an essentially atheistic philosophy that denies the existence of even metaphysics. It put the spirit world in the trash can where it has stayed ever since. There were some mathematical problems with Logical Positivism and even some more serious ones with mathematics brought on by Godel and company.
Nevertheless a set of rules and strict guidelines has been formulated and named the Scientific Method. These rules are adopted worldwide. In the United States this process has failed due to political domination and censorship caused by christians. The philosophy of science maintains that every idea must have empirical support.

b. Science and logic

It turns out that science cannot be strictly held to the rules of mathematical (deductive) logic. All logic consists of a deductive calculation that must start with absolute truths. There are many professional scientists that deny the existence of such absolutes in science. Any proof in science rests on an enormous number of relations, tests and inferences, any one of which leads to more of the same and can be challenged. Furthermore the whole concept of scientific induction is without logical basis. This means that science, contrary to public perception, does not accurately follow the rules of logic.

The dilemma caused by this realization is quite serious. According to this result you can't even prove you have a head on your shoulders. Also you cannot prove that the devil is not controlling your thoughts.
To resolve these "startup problems" science came up with a set of rules that enable rational thought to proceed. These are Occam's razor, The Null hypothesis, Tenativity.

Religionists often answer atheists with the statement "you cannot prove a negative." This claim is false. Assume a positive, say jesus, then another, say the big turtle, then another and another. You can go on forever.  These positives all contradict each other and none merits any special consideration. therefore they all must be negated.  The result is complete negation. This is the starting point of science.  In short all things that may be acknowleged to exist must be proven.

The creationists have no end making fun of the rules of science but they are firm and serious. The strange rule  "If I can't see it, that proves it doesn't exist." is "repaired" by the next rule "If I make a mistake I get to change my mind."  It is this combination that makes science approach the truth closer and closer.

c.  Popper

Modern philosophy really began in the 1900s.  Science involves criticism. It is the constant scrutiny which enables science to avoid mistakes.  One famous writer Carl Popper said things like "It is not possible to prove a theory but one experiment can prove it false." This guide works fine in some situations but I maintain that in a complex field where both agreement and disagreement of theory with experiment must be tested, it is the best agreement which qualifies a theory.
For additional background see my Philosophy book reviews.

d. Why does anything exist at all?

This question has been asked and answered wrongly with "God" since the dawn of history. A more mature response is that since the questioner often assumes a time when nothing existed was followed by a time like now, the whole idea is non physical. Furthermore if you can't answer the question with an experiment then it may be just nonsense anyway.

7. Modern findings.

Science allows only ideas that can be shown to have support by scientific tests. Thus unprovable ideas like spirit, soul, supernatural, aliens are rejected.

Contrary to Creationist claims, Evolution never had problem with the second law of thermodynamics.  However some scientists could not understand how complex systems developed.  In the  Nobel Prize winning work of Ira Prigogine, the physical basis of
evolution has been discovered.  It turns out that dissipative systems that increase entropy fastest are favored even if such systems make complex ordered structures. Dissipative systems "draw their creativity" from chaos and can both grow and reproduce. One common such system has been known to follow humans and kill them. It is called fire.

a. Causality See Squires "The Mystery of the Quantum World."  Chapter "The potential barrier and the breakdown of determinism." Determinism here means Newtonian determinism.

b. No hidden variables proof: Von Neumann 1932: " Mathematische Grundlagen der Quantenmechanik" Translated by Princeton University Press 1955.

c. The ubiquity of random vacuum fluctuations as demonstrated by the Casimir effect has convinced many cosmologists that the universe we live in is just the result of a "macroscopic quantum fluctuation."

d.  For the coup de gras read about the Bell Inequality. Bell's work has demonstrated that no local hidden variable can account for observatin.

e. The famous Copenheagan interpretation of quantum mechanics does not introduce subjectivity despite the pleas of christians. Instead the observer is equivalent to any non-linear interaction which causes "collapse of the wave function."

8. The End of the World

The interaction of the Earth and the Moon has been carrying the moon farther away at the expense of the Earth's rotational energy. Eventually the Earth will become locked facing the Moon just like the Moon is already locked facing the Earth. After that the Earth-Sun interaction will slowly draw the Moon back down to the Earth until it gets so close that it breaks up and the pieces crash into the Earth. That will be a very exciting time for life on Earth.

Assuming that life somehow survives that, there will be an interval of peace. But the Sun will be slowly growing and eventually it will expand until it eats the Earth.

9. Freethought Publications

See the  Free Thoughts  back issues, now being added regularly to these pages.